Friday, November 2, 2012

Spiritual Journey

I have felt I need to write one post on my spiritual journey as a capsule of understanding. I even had a dream a few weeks back that one of my old neighborhood girls told me to tell it. The dream was one of those that you wake in the morning, wondering, Wow, what was that about and you ponder it for a long time.
I was born into a Christian home, but that does not make one a Christian. We are all born sinners, with a sin nature. My family spoke the Christian language and we were regularly at church. My dad, especially had a close relationship with Jesus. But everyone knew the answers to tell a questioning, growing child.
I believe I was six years old when I realized I couldn't be good on my own strength as I let a lie grow that I wanted to believe so much to be true. I got in trouble which embarrassed my mother. I lay on a maroon couch and cried, praying for forgiveness from God.
As I mentioned the other day, my faith journey had ups and downs, periods of such sweet closeness and then of asserting my independence. I never gave up on church or God. I loved going to church, always. Sometimes, it was like I was dating God. Meet Him once a week, sing love songs to Him, then return to my life.
I went through this until I was pregnant with Katie. The first Sunday in December, the Gideons spoke on Bible Sunday about the power of the Bible. That message sank into my heart. God does not have grandchildren. We are all called to be His children. I couldn't get by with my father's wonderful relationship with Jesus. I had to be in the Word daily, like I had been at other times in my life. The other truth that hit me that day was John 14:6 I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to My Father, except through Me. Jesus declared. I could no longer believe that all beliefs get a person to Heaven. No one is good enough or from a good enough family to be welcomed into Heaven, only those covered by Jesus.
So I returned to my morning Bible reading and setting my prayers in a journal. I had years of practice, but I felt as motherhood approached, I needed to be firm in my faith.
After Katie's birth, life as a new mother, with visitors and help, my Bible started to gather dust. I did pray for Katie every night, though, as I put her to bed. And loved church.
In late September of that year, we found out my dad had leukemia. The day dawned so bright as I drove Mom, Dad and Katie to Canton, Ohio. We spent all day, with Dad going through tests at the retinal specialists. At the end of this day, as Dad sat in the exam chair, the doctors reviewed the results. There was a tumor behind Dad's eye, but not a primary tumor. They could tell it was a secondary tumor. Dad's complaint of diarrhea the last month flashed through my mind, as he looked eerily sallow and small in that chair and then the worst thought, he's not going to make it through the year.
The car trudged through a terrible rain storm. I felt like Heaven cried with me. I was numb. Dad was sick, with a fever and weakness. Mom, I'm not sure where her strength came. Was it ignorance of how sick Dad was? That was one of the coldest last weekend of September with rain every day.
Monday, we couldn't take any more and Dad went to the hospital. We had made an appointment to see an internist, but he saw him in a hospital room. I knew these doctors well, as I worked in ICU. A close relationship develops in specialty units with doctors and nurses.
Dr. Sartori called me. Dad's white blood cell count was over 300 thousand. He had leukemia. The family decided Cleveland Clinic for treatment. Doctor agreed with me, as that is where he sent his dad, too, for the same thing.
The next four to five months filled up with many trips to Cleveland and Dad coming home for the holidays. The chemo affected his liver, leaving him a jaundice color. I have a picture of him holding Katie in all her new baby pinkness against that mustard colored hanging skin of his. But we were full of hope. He was home. Death disappeared from my thoughts.
During this time, I felt a little guilty for neglecting my time with God, thinking this is why Dad got so sick with leukemia. I know this wasn't true. That is not how God works. He loves us all as seen in Psalm  116:15  The LORD's loved ones are precious to Him; it grieves Him when they die.
I'm not being a theologian here. I'm telling you how this has comforted me, and Dad's illness woke me up to keep in constant communion with Jesus as I have now these past twenty two years. I may not always act as I should or say the words I should, but I have learned grace and a love that will not let me go. I stand on the promises of my God set forth in His Word. It is His letter to His loved ones.
So with this background, continue to read my story of my family and my life.
I do ask God that I can have a testimony that impacts many people like my dad's did. Dad seemed like Jesus to me as I grew up and in my drive to be like my dad, I more want to be like Jesus.
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