Tag Archive: freedom


In the morning
when I pray,
in the brilliance
of the day.

Wondering how
I might feel,
if You turned
to me and said,
You’re real.”

There are these
who do not see,
the glory of,
Your majesty.

While demons
shudder and
think; to us
they nod
and wink.

Knowing He
from above;
The One filled
with love,
will banish
them, for
eternity.

 

Here we are, once again, shaken and perhaps even stirred, by this glorious pastime we call “Life.” Let’s, for a moment, recap a few tidbits that we’ve picked up along the way and address the question, “Why are we here?” No, I don’t mean “The Big Question.” Douglas Adams answered that for us in 1978 (42). We’re gathered here today to continue our discussion on hope and faith and why they appear to fail. I welcome those of you who have just arrived. If you want to catch up with the rest of the group then you can start here. We’ve addressed the possibility that one reason that hope and faith appear to “fail” is that, instead of pursuing God, we’re pursuing the “thing” in which we hope. We’ve discussed that, according to the Bible, hope, faith, and trust are all dependent on us. That’s right, you and me. Love, on the other hand, is based on God, who cannot fail. If this intrigues you and you’d like to read more then please read the previous parts of this series. Muchos gracias!

It was brought to my attention that not everyone believes in God. We are a diverse people, humanity, and we believe and don’t believe all sorts of things. However, whether or not you believe in God is not the issue here. Yes, I do believe and express my beliefs here with the tools that have been given to me. I do hope, (there’s that word) that we can agree that Life is not about us. Life is not about me. Go ahead, say it, “Life is not about me.”

Now, this is a major issue in the world in which we live. Too many people, for too long, have thought that life was just about them, their families, or their “in-group” of people. We’ve been running a race against ourselves for thousands of years. We put money, comfort, “peace” of mind and ourselves ahead of this planet upon which we all reside. We walk around with a mindset that, “as long as this doesn’t bother me, it’s okay.” Well, it’s not “okay.” Look around the world. Does the world look “okay” to you? Are you happy with wars, starvation, and genocides? Look closer to home. Does it bring you joy when you see a person without a home, starving on the street? Do news reports of mass shootings indicate that everything is hunky-dory in the world today? I hope not. Let’s move on and I’ll step down off this box.

We need one another. That’s just the way it is. No society can work against itself and survive. We depend on one another whether we like it or not. Let’s look at it even more locally. If you’re a blogger then you need people to read your blog, right? Enough said.

I moved to Sacramento in 2018 hoping to be healed of a twenty-year illness that had been keeping me in pain for most of my waking hours since 2016. God called me here in December of 2017. Although I had heard the call, I wasn’t set on moving. I had lived in Santa Barbara most of my life, it was my home. Then, I watched it burn and get wiped away in mudslides.

Sacramento life is very different than Santa Barbara. It’s not until you move somewhere where you don’t know the area and don’t know anyone, that you realize how many friends you left behind. I noticed, after moving up here, that I wasn’t getting better. I was getting worse. I couldn’t believe it. I thought that I had been in pain before. I thought that I had suffered before. In my pain and suffering, I turned more toward God than I ever had. I started asking questions again.

Oh, I never really stopped asking questions. Just the wrong ones, I guess. Joe was on my mind. Every year, on the anniversary of his death, I would try and not think about it. It’s ironic how something would happen, each year, around his death, to remind me of the date. Like a nagging feeling that you left something on when you left home. Like death’s skeletal fingers, tapping me on the shoulder.

Only this time, as my illness grew worse and pain crept into my sleep and my sleep became less, and my desire to live, even less. I started in with the questions again. This time, really simple, “Why?” I’d go out on pain-filled walks, pushing through the rain of Sacramento “winters” and I’d yell at God. I’d shout and demand, “Why?! I have done what you have asked. I have moved. I have left home. I have left friends. Why am I suffering more?” I let Him have it. I went down the list of everything that I had done in faith that had failed. I begged Him to bring me Home. I told Him, heal me or let me die. I can’t take it anymore. I thought I had faith, but it had all failed.

You know, there are conspiracy theorists who say that we’re always being watched by someone. Well, I remember the day that answers came. It was so much of a cliché I have to laugh when I think about it. The rain was pouring down and I was on my knees, staring into the Heavens, rain splattering into my eyes, yelling at God. I was in so much in pain. Unlike the cliché in the movie. I didn’t get the answer there, on my knees, in the mud. I got up, and continued my walk back to the house, asking Him to forgive me.

It was then, while cleaning up, moving ever so slowly in fear of the unexpected pain, that I remembered Joe’s memorial service.

I was speaking with Nancy, and we were both crying, she must have said my name, because someone from behind asked, “You’re Jason?” It was someone from Joe’s family. A cousin or someone. I don’t remember. I do remember suddenly being swamped by people who were thanking me. They were all so happy. I had forgotten their happiness. All I had remembered was my selfish pain. My belief that my faith had failed.

Here were all these people who had known Joe longer than I had. All of these people who knew who I was. Knew that Joe and I had spent his last year together. They were thanking me! Me, for being there with Joe. He shared our conversations with his family and friends. He talked to a lot of people in that last year. Here was shy Joe talking to so many people. Telling them about God and the friendship we shared. They spoke of the changes in Joe’s life. How he was strong and courageous. He didn’t talk about dying. He only spoke of living and being healed. At the time, it was like acid in my face. Throwing our conversations back at me. Into the failure of my faith. This time, though, when I was remembering it. I could see the joy. I could see hope. I could see faith. I remember telling them, “God did it. I had nothing to do with it,” or something like that. I didn’t and still don’t, deserve any credit.

Most of all, though, I remember Nancy. I remember the look of relief in her eyes. I remembered our counseling sessions, and I knew. I knew that the marriage would fail. if Joe had lived. Nancy stopped blaming him for cancer, but the issues that were there, they just got tucked under the rug.

I remembered it all. The memorial service. How people spoke of Joe. The Lord brought it all back to my mind and then He said, “Do you see? I put him into your hands. I trusted you to guide him to Me. I trusted you. You didn’t fail.”

Joe would have survived cancer only to lose his wife, the dreams that they had, the new life and new home. His family and friends would have briefly remembered Joe’s courage and strength. The divorce would have crushed him. No one would have remembered this shy man, who faced death, with courage. However, with his death, Nancy moved on and got that house and honored Joe and their marriage. His family and friends, they remember him strong.

As I write this, it dawns on me, that my dear friend, didn’t call me that last time, when he went to the hospital, because He loved me. He knew it was time. He was going Home.

There we have it. God’s perfect timing. God’s thoughts above our thoughts. His ways, beyond our ways. It’s not about me. It’s about Love and serving one another in love. Whether or not you believe or not. We’re all here, on this pretty blue planet, together. We live together, and, if we’re not careful, we’ll all die together.

 

Sorbet Skies

Into ocean
depths, vast-
open,
free-
Santa Barbara
sunsets.

You have hope, faith, trust and you know without a doubt that “it’s” going to come to pass! The time comes and blammo! It’s here! What you prayed, waited and thanked God for has come to pass. Let the praise and celebration continue! You were thanking God before it happened on the day, right? We’ve already discussed Biblical faith, so we know that what we’ve asked for has already happened, even if we don’t see it yet. Maybe you didn’t start celebrating until it happened. That’s okay. There’s grace, mercy and no condemnation in Christ, so you’ll get none from me. We’re all on our own journey with God, and we grow in accordance to His timing.

It’s celebration time! God is good, He does what He says He’s going to do. If you’re like me, or the woman in Luke 15:8-10 who lost and then found that coin; you’re telling everybody! Your faith is flying high and you know, if you wanted to, you could tell that mountain to move, and it would, but people live up there, and you like people, so you check yourself.

Then the phone rings, you get a text, a huge dark cloud takes a sharp left, stops right over your head and just dumps on you. That business deal; they changed their mind, your aunt, with cancer; the test results were wrong and she’s not in remission. That hope just comes crashing down into bitter disappointment. It’s worse than that. You told a bunch of people! You’re a Christian and what are they going to say? You don’t even know what to say. You weren’t hoping in the thing. You know you weren’t. You read this series, and God opened your eyes. You know better.

I was in the middle of writing this part in this series when God gave me the chance to walk the walk.

I was given the grace to respond by telling more people about the success to come and share my faith and hope in God.

God’s timing is perfect. It’s usually not, however, in the time that we expect it to be. When we walk in His timing and allow Him to guide our paths, He does far more with our obedience than we could ever imagine. If you’re reading this then it’s because God brought you here. It’s not because of great SEO optimization or because this blog has hundreds or thousands of followers. That’s just the way this blog is, for now.

You’ve may have heard it said that, “everything happens for a reason.” I usually hear people say that when they have nothing else to say. I know that I’m guilty of having been that person at one time or another in my life. However, now, I know, that there is, indeed, a time for everything, and I am encouraged by this knowledge.

What about the “hope” and “faith” that appears to fail?

My best friend died, of cancer, in 2011. He didn’t have cancer when we first started meeting, journaling, praying and sharing life together. I will call him, “Joe.”

Joe and I had been going to the same church for several years. We church chatted often, but church chat is merely another means of small talk that goes nowhere, if we’re being honest. Joe married later in his life, he was forty-five, and needed counseling. Our pastor put us together.

After several months of meeting, I noticed that Joe had a bad cough. It was nothing to worry about, he assured me, he had been given antibiotics for it and had just finished the 10 day cycle.  I explained how antibiotics were supposed to work and suggested he go back to his doctor.

Joe called me first. The doctor told him that he had cancer. A non tobacco form of cancer in his lungs. It wasn’t a big deal for us. His wife, Nancy, didn’t take it quite so easily. She blamed him for the cancer. We started meeting more often, my wife, Joe, Nancy and I. A lot of healing took place in their marriage. It became stronger than it had previously been. All of us grew stronger as the cancer spread throughout Joe’s body.

Joe was a paragon of strength. In spite of the chemotherapy, the presence of cancer in his brain and his body, which was trying to fail him. He walked upright and bold. My dear friend, a true Man of God. In spite of the spread of the cancer, he and I never saw him as getting worse. We still met as we did before. He went to his first Men’s Retreat. He was getting better. He was healed and we knew it. We rejoiced and thanked God for his healing.

We were living like we had before the cancer, Joe and me. We even missed our first meeting in January of 2011, the new year. We usually would call and confirm, every week. We were like that, he and I. I thought nothing of it. He and Nancy probably went away to visit their new home up in Northern California for the weekend. It was a Tuesday, when I got the call. I thought it was Joe, and I was excited to hear about his New Year’s.

I was surprised, when I answered the phone, walking into the house, to hear my pastor’s voice. I expected to hear about the next day’s evening meeting, anything. Anything but, “I’m sorry Jason, Joe passed away this weekend.” That was when I first encountered the strength of my faith, as I almost collapsed onto the floor, catching myself on the love seat nearby, as my wife gasped, crying out, “are you okay?”

I told my pastor, that was impossible. God had healed Joe. He couldn’t be dead. And besides, after he had spent one night in the hospital, without telling me, I made him promise to call me if he had to go back to the hospital. That was months ago. He couldn’t be dead.

He was though, and he has been for the last eight years. I knew my faith that day. The strength of believing the impossible. The knowledge of hope and faith failing. No one understood my pain. My selfish pain. I held it close and tried to explain, but no one heard. I was assured that Joe was healed, and I had no doubt that he was healed. It was all about me.

Somehow, I didn’t have enough faith, because Joe died. I didn’t blame God. I blamed myself. As I continued in ministry, I pushed all that pain down, so far down. All of that grief. I was a Christian. I couldn’t be that way. God’s timing.

The church had seminars, meetings and visitations from other pastors. I attended meetings elsewhere. Apparently, leadership is hard. We experience so much pain, so much grief, that we bottle it up and one day, it breaks us, if we don’t let it out. I was fine. I was a rock.

Another friend died, others moved away, life went on. My youngest went on to college and my wife left with him. I was a rock until, one day, I shattered. I walked away from the church. I had no faith in people. People were hypocrites. Faith and hope, they fail. Why did we pray for people to be healed? They just died. Little Daisy, not even six, she died too. If Heaven was better, then why not pray for people to just die? Faith and hope, they failed me.

I couldn’t trust people anymore, but I stayed reading my Bible, praying and believing. Quite paradoxical, I think. Except that it was my faith, my hope that failed. It was me. Not God.

I got very sick in 2016 and despite being in pain all the time; I moved to Sacramento in 2018; where I believed that God was calling me. To be healed. To serve. To live. I was healed, and God explained to me, even though He didn’t have to, why Joe died so many years ago. If you’ve not been bored to tears by now, I’ll tell you, in the next part, why Joe died and how God’s timing is perfect.