Lost Joy Found

It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,  and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;

Matthew 20:26‭-‬27 NASB

This past Good Friday turned out to be a Good Friday like no other ones I had ever experienced. Then again, I had never experienced a loss like this and this would have been my first Good Friday without Joelle. I’m sure that one would probably surmise from my last bunch of blog posts just how much I really miss Joelle, and the emptiness and longing that I feel on a daily and rather continual basis is often consuming at times. It has been five months and admittedly the struggle to find joy in my life becomes evident as each day passes. The absence of joy often has me feeling like I am just wandering this earth until I die sort of thing. I guess you could say that I an already walking dead.

Good Friday changed all of that for me and God helped me find that joy that I had been missing for the past five months. It wasn’t by anything miraculous that happened, really. All I did was participate in preparing and serving breakfast at the church. I It was a joy that I have been searching for, for the last five months.

Other than always being in a state of tears ever since Joelle was diagnosed with cancer, there was one other thing that I had done, which was pray. Not that I didn’t pray to God before, but that time it felt like I prayed with a sense of mission. Knowing that Joelle was sick, and for some unknown sickly feeling at the time, perhaps from all the other people I had known and loved that I lost to cancer, feeling that it wasn’t going to turn out good, my prayer to God was that this could very well be the last time I get to be a husband, especially a husband to Joelle, and asked God to make me into the man that she needs me to be for her life and whatever remaining days she had. Even though the seventeen month journey was difficult and often heart-achingly painful, I’m rather confident that God was answering this prayer because even though there was pain, there was joy in caring for Joelle. There were jobs that I took on that I swore I would never do in a lifetime, but I did them with joy and out of love for Joelle. Sometimes, even Joelle was surprised that I went off my usual Aspie beaten path to do these jobs, because she knew that Aspies are very much routine-based and things like this often make us uncomfortable. What she probably didn’t know was that I was already uncomfortable. Or, maybe she did. I’ll never know. This entire journey was shaking me to my soul. However, there was joy in it. A joy in serving and caring for Joelle, and making sure her needs were met. I had always known in the past the Joelle loved it when the little things were done for her, such as cleaning the kitchen after she cooked a meal, bringing her a late night coffee from Tim Horton’s when she’s taking down a wedding and then helping her take down the wedding and drive home together in our separate cars but on the phone with each others (don’t worry, the cars were always bluetooth equipped), or even wiping the snow off her car before I went to work. To her, that said that I loved her. She really taught me servitude, however, when I was injured and immobile for 3 months. Or, should I say that God showed me servitude through Joelle. Suddenly finding the roles reversed, I knew that this was the person I needed to be for her and I knew that I needed God’s strength to do it. And, in discovering that servitude towards Joelle, I found joy. And I had that joy right to her last day.

Suffice it to say, that joy was lost in the days following her death. I not only miss Joelle terribly, and miss everything about her, I also miss being that servant to her needs. I discovered that I want to be that person God started me out to be. I thought to myself that in the off chance, God were to one day give me that second chance, I would want God to once again make me the person that someone needs me to be. I am not so concerned with my own needs these days, because I know that God knows them very well. He seems to be listening to my cries into tear-soaked pillows and sometimes I can see Him answering them in one way or another. In the meantime, what am I supposed to do while life 1.0 crashed beyond repair and I am waiting for life 2.0 to install and start up? Yes, I am supposed to wait for God, but I don’t believe I have to sit and do nothing while I wait.

Sure enough, a clipboard at church circulated the congregation at the service asking for men to volunteer to help prepare and serve breakfast on Good Friday. This may have been the first time I ever felt pulled to sign up for anything. It was like God wanted me to show Him that if I really meant what I said, then I need to start small. After all, it does say in the scriptures that if I can’t be trusted in the little things, how could I ever be trusted with big things? So I signed up. I prayed up until Good Friday to make me that kind of servant that the church needed that morning. To me, it really didn’t matter what jobs needed to be done. Honestly, I did worse jobs that I swore that I would never do previously, but found myself doing them out of love. Wherever they needed me, I wanted to be there. There was a lot of setup to do when I got there. Funny enough, setting everything up from the breakfast almost felt like setting everything up for one of Joelle’s seders. I was actually driven. It was almost as if I was doing it for Joelle. Next thing you know, I found myself serving sausage patties to everyone. Yeah, it doesn’t seem like much to anyone else, but it felt great to be serving them. We managed to get a few laughs and the interaction was a lot of fun. And even though it felt very uncomfortable, it felt like it was where I needed to be. I don’t know if anyone out felt blessed, but I know that I was blessed by everyone I came into contact with. Heck, someone even came up to me and just smiled and said “Hello.” She didn’t even want a sausage patty. That made me feel good, to be worth a hello for no other reason. 

The morning passed by so quickly and by the time I got home, I was filled with so much joy from being able to be a part of that morning that I was crying tears of joy instead of the usual tears of pain and suffering. Yes, I could tell the difference. Maybe, just maybe, this is the key to having that joy that I once enjoyed. It seemed so little to do to put smiles on people’s faces and hopefully helped lift their hearts and spirits. And yet, putting that smile on everyone’s faces gave me a reason to smile. And being there to serve those who needed me gave me that joy I felt I lost. It’s a joy I hope to feel again, so maybe I know what to pray to God for. 

The Greatest Gift You Can Give

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;  naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?  When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

Matthew 25:35‭-‬40 NASB

For the longest time, I had always wondered that if Christmas is such a joyous holiday, why are there so many people suffering from depression during this time? Unfortunately, I got the answer this year in a way I had never in my life hoped to receive. I found out in the worst way possible. I can go as far as to say that I have been put in those shoes and am living it, and I certainly didn’t believe that life would be like this two years ago. If you’re like me two years ago, just try to imagine the future holiday celebrations without the person or people that you hold extremely close to your heart. In no way am I trying to scare you. I’m just telling you just how uncertain life really is and tomorrow is not guaranteed for everyone. I am obviously not the first person to get the answer the hard way and I unfortunately won’t be the last.

So, now that I managed to hit you with a little bit of holiday pain, with sincere gratitude that you let me, what can you give anyone who is suffering in what is supposed to be a joyous holiday? Not just me. There are plenty others around you if you are willing to look around not with the eyes in your head, but with the eyes of your heart. You might be thinking, “Oh, I’ll just buy them something special.” Well, I hate to tell you this, but that won’t make anyone feel better. You see, that is the way the world wants you to think. “Buy someone a gift and everything will be alright” is one of the biggest lies that Satan could ever unleash upon this world, and yet the world laps it up like a thirsty dog at a water bowl. Commercials everywhere telling people they deserve something for Christmas, whether they buy it for themselves or get it from someone else. And if that doesn’t make you happy, then you need something else because that is guaranteed happiness. Guess what… it isn’t. In fact, stuff doesn’t fill you with happiness. It just makes you more empty, because the more you have, the more you want. Honestly, there is nothing you can get me that I could not get for myself and I wouldn’t be happier if you got it for me than if I bought it.

So where am I going with this? It’s simple, really. There’s only one gift that you can give a suffering person that lets them know you really care: spending time with them. It’s the one thing we treasured most with the person who meant so much to us. We’d give up almost everything for just one more day with them. In a way, I was grateful to receive this gift of knowledge in the last few months with Joelle, knowing that no amount of money or anything else I could offer for that matter would bring her back so it was spend every day I could with Joelle before it was one day too late. And even after she was gone, all of the people who would come and just sit with us while we were in mourning was one of the greatest gifts they could ever give to us. Some of them would try to find the right words only to discover that there are none, and yet we didn’t care because all that mattered was that they were with us. Others would ask if there’s anything they could get you, when all that really mattered was just them sitting with us. Some people made the journey from Waterloo to Toronto just to be with us. Many of them would just sit and listen to us talk. They would listen to me tell story after story about Joelle. That to me was worth more than anything else they had in their hands when they walked in the door. Even at this time, if you came over and you just watched a movie with us, and said nothing during the entire visit, it would mean more than anything else because you were there. Recall that I said in my previous blog post that true love is giving everything you have without any expectations of receiving anything in return. Spending time with someone is telling them that you truly love them because you are giving them everything at that moment knowing that you will never be get that time back.

So, if you are looking to give a suffering person something special for Christmas or Chanukah or whatever you are celebrating, then it is time to get off the social media and get more social. Trade Facebook for face time. More greets than tweets. Stepping out of MySpace and visiting someone else’s space. I’m sure you get the picture by now. Go visit someone and give them the gift of your time. People are suffering this time of year not because they don’t have something. We’re suffering because we don’t have someone. It’s usually that someone who could make our day brighter than the most sunniest of days. They made the celebration that much more joyous. Yes they are deeply and sadly missed, making it real hard to even want to celebrate. However, your time is what helps us through these once joyous, but now difficult to celebrate holidays. It just might help us rediscover the joy of celebrating once more, and give us the strength to face a new season just as those we deeply miss would want us to. It gives hope to those who have lost their hope. And don’t think that you have to do something or say something to make things better. Just being there takes care of all that. And even if you have a hard time seeing their appreciation, believe me, they are very appreciative even if it doesn’t show. 

You might not think that you are giving much, but to those who are suffering you are giving a lot. 

What do I ask for?

… You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

–James 4:2‭-‬3 NASB

I will be the first to admit that this passage in Scripture troubles me. There are verses in Scripture tthat tell us to ask and if we don’t, we don’t get. Even here, it says that if we didn’t get, it is because we didn’t ask. But, it is also wrong to ask with selfish motives. This is what troubles me? What do I ask for?

I have seen Joelle suffer with cancer for well over a year. I also see that her battle with cancer looks like a losing battle. At least, it does to my eyes, as I hear almost every month that the disease has invaded new areas of her body, causing excruciating pain, and it is ever so difficult and emotionally painful to see someone as beautiful as Joelle having to go through all of this suffering. And when I say beautiful, I am talking about her inner beauty which far outshines her out beauty, and she is beautiful on the outside. During her suffering, I have not only seen her witness the saving grace of Jesus, but I have seen her, in all her pain, lead people to Jesus to be saved. Talk about an amazing person that Joelle is. I have so much trouble doing stuff like that in a somewhat healthy state, but it almost looks effortless to my eyes that Joelle can do this, despite all of the pain and suffering that she is going through. 

It totally makes me wonder what is wrong with me? With everything in my life that has led to my encounter with Christ, including all of the signposts and my Road to Damascus encounter up to today’s witnessing of God’s grace through Joelle’s pain and suffering, have I not yet gotten the message? Am I begging for Jesus to rescue me, when even throughout Joelle’s suffering, He has rescued her? Am I not believing that I am also being rescued? Or have I somehow locked Jesus out of my heart because of everything that I have done leading up to this, and I am desperately trying to pull Jesus into my heart through the keyhole of a locked door? I could ask if I let my heart become stone towards God over this, but if that were the case, would I be trying so desperately to seek Jesus? So, it can’t be that. There’s no doubt in my mind that I want Jesus in my life. And, only a fool in his heart believes that there is no God. I am not that fool. With everything that I have seen in all of my living years, there is absolutely no doubt that God exists. 

So once again, that leads me to the question of what do I ask God for? It’s hard to know what to ask for because I don’t know if what I am asking for is for my own selfish gain or is glorifying God. I know very well that God is not some spiritually cosmic vending machine. There is no name it and claim it gospel. Just asking God to heal Joelle from cancer is a loaded request in itself. Am I asking this for the glory of God? Or, am I asking because I hate seeing her suffer, which I really do? While the latter reason sounds somewhat noble, it is also selfish. Yes, I hurt watching her go through all of this. It feels like my heart is torn into pieces. Honestly, I could not recall a time when I have been so upset. But, could it be possible that I am asking God to end my suffering instead of Joelle’s. Am I thinking of her or am I just thinking about myself? Like I said, Joelle has doing God’s wonderful work out of her suffering and what have I ever done? I’m starting to think that everything that I ever did up until now has been for myself. How much of God’s work has come from my own torment? So, am I asking God for His own sake, Joelle’s, or my own? I really have to search my heart on this one to know what I am asking for. 

It pretty much leaves me wondering what to ask for. I have hope as described in Romans 5:3-5 and Romans 8:28, but sometimes knowing what I should be hoping for is elusive. I have faith in God and I know in my heart that Jesus does love me. I also believe that God does work miracles, but as I said before, God is not a vending machine. His miracles are for His glory and not for our satisfaction. Perhaps some wisdom, encouragement, along with some strength could be a start. 

Nobody’s Fault

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
— John 9:1-3 ESV

It has been a while since writing something. Admittedly, things have been hard, mainly because I have been looking for answers as why Joelle is suffering so much with her cancer ordeal. Not that I felt like I deserved any answers, but any sign would be greatly appreciated just so that I could not only have some assurance that there really is a reason for Joelle and that it works out for God’s purpose and that it is good for all of us who do believe in God’s salvation through Jesus. After all, the past months have been nothing more than staring down the eye of the hurricane in depression. If anything, it started to make me wonder if I had any type of relationship with God. It made me wonder because I felt like He wasn’t answering any of my prayers. I started wondering even more about this as I was going through a bible study as it talked quite a bit about our relationship with God. It seemed each chapter felt more and more painful as I went on. One part of the study talked about the Holy Spirit speaking to us through prayer, the church, circumstances and scripture. If anything, it really felt like nothing was happening through the first three and I started to think that nothing was happening through the fourth, until recently.

My son, Josh, who happens to be visiting his grandmother, loves to give me what we call the latest “meme-isms”. In other words, all of the crazy things that his grandmother tells him. Sure enough, he doesn’t disappoint this time around. Aside from the usual ” you’re being brainwashed” shtick (to which I managed to give him a decent comeback for), she dropped a new one. She said that one of Joelle’s friends gave Joelle cancer because her friend was jealous of Joelle. Aside from the fact that this has to be one of the most comical things I had heard; I mean, let’s face it, if people got cancer because someone else is jealous of them, there would be no one on this planet. Everybody always wants something that someone else has. Show me someone who is never jealous or envious, and I will show you their tombstone.

However, I will be the first to admit that I often wondered if I may have been part of the cause of Joelle’s cancer. Let’s face it, I am not the greatest person to be around. I can be very stress inducing. Plus, I have had many times where I fear waking up one day and Joelle would no longer be there. Add that all up and I am sure that there is something that isn’t good for Joelle there.

Funny thing happened though. Out of nowhere, I thought of Jesus and the rabbis discussing whether the blind man or his parents sinned, causing the man’s blindness. This all came to me as I was talking to Josh. At that moment, I had to look up the scripture verses and give them to Josh. I told him to read them to his grandmother. I told him to tell her that Joelle’s cancer is nobody’s fault. Joelle has this to reveal God’s Word glory and to show what works from God will come out of this. Even more than revealing this topic Josh, it was revealed to me as well. Joelle’s suffering is not a punishment for anything I did. It’s not even a punishment for anything she did. In fact, the Bible never says if we will suffer. It says when we suffer. And, it is not a case of whether we deserve it or not. In fact, it states in the Bible that the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. And we suffer, so that you the glory of God can be revealed.

I didn’t come up with this on my own. There’s no way I could have in this case. The number of scripture verses is overwhelming. Being able to put this in context can only mean that God really is hearing me and is answering me. He answered me in scripture. I’ve only heard this piece of scripture once or twice in the past 20 years. The fact that it stuck out over everything else I have read and heard over the years feels miraculous enough as it is.

Does this ease the suffering? Heck no! Everything is just as hard as it was before God answered me with this piece of scripture. It doesn’t mean that anything will be easier either. However, the one thing that it does do is give me some hope. The hope that at the end of all of the suffering, God is waiting for us. The hope that Jesus is walking beside us with his arms around us. The hope that God will continue to answer my questions and prayers through scripture. The hope of peace.

When God Speaks

The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. And the Lord called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

— 1 Samuel 3:3 – 9

Whoever actually coined the phrase, “When we talk to God, it’s prayer, but when God speaks to us, it’s schizophrenia”, must have been an atheist and probably a psychiatrist attempting to snuff out what believers may be tuned in to.

Yup, it’s time for some more ramblings from my Q10. I’m sure that Joelle is going to soon regret letting me have this BlackBerry. I really have to admire her talent for being able to read my blog posts with her eyes rolling the way they do whenever I do these things. That’s probably why I love her so much.

But I digress…

Let me start by saying that throughout Joelle’s entire cancer ordeal, I really don’t believe that we have been walking alone in this. I truly believe that God has been walking with us. You can call me insane all you want, but unless you are walking in my shoes and have been witnessing everything I have been feeling and hearing, then you really wouldn’t know anything about it.

One indicator that I don’t believe that I am alone is that I have often woken up in the middle of the night crying and somewhere in between the all of the praying and crying, I could swear that I have felt someone touching me. It’s as if I could feel a hand touching my back or my side and then rolling over to find that there is no one there. I have no reason to doubt that there could be an angel sent by God to comfort me in these times. And if it is crazy, then I would rather go with the crazy and feel like I am not alone than with the normal and lonely, especially at this time.

There are also times where I am asleep, or at least I am falling asleep, and I will hear my name being called. Usually, my first reaction is to wake up and turn around to see who is calling me. Of course, there is no one there, and I know it is not Joelle because not only is she sleeping, but I know her voice, and have known so for over thirty years.

It reminds me of the scripture that I posted regarding Samuel. Every time he heard God’s voice calling him, he kept going to Eli and asking what he wanted. Of course, Eli responded with, “it wasn’t me.” Eli also told Samuel that the next time God is calling him, he should answer God and tell him that His servant is listening.

Interesting. I have had many times when I felt that I was hearing my name being called. Every time I have heard it, I felt like it was one of those moments where I could feel it right down to my soul. It was more than simply hearing my name. It was more like feeling my name. And yet, every time I heard it, I never really answered. I just simply turned around to see who was there.

I have always begged for God to talk to me and now it seems like I am getting my wish. So instead of trying to see who is there and not even try to answer back, I should be more like Samuel and have the courage to ask God to speak some more because I am now listening. Of course you are thinking that it sounds like insanity, but look at it this way: if there is no one there, then all I am really doing is talking to the air. However, if God is there and I don’t try to speak up when I am being spoken to, then I am really missing the chance of a lifetime. As well, I will also be proving my lack of faith because I had prayed and God was answering my prayers.

“Self-help” and the Paradox of Faith

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
— Romans 7:15

There was once a rabbi in a small village who was very much loved and respected. One day, the nearby dam broke loose and water was flooding the village. While everyone was preparing to evacuate, the rabbi just climbed up to the rooftop of his house and prayed.

As the waters reached the rooftop, a boat pulled aside. They yelled from the boat, “c’mon, get in the boat!” The rabbi responded, “God will save me.” The rabbi continued to pray as waters went passed the rooftop and was now waist deep on the rabbi. Another boat came by and everyone was yelling for the rabbi to get in the boat. Again, the rabbi responded with, “God will save me.” He continued to pray and the waters rose to his neck. A helicopter flew up to the rabbi and lowered a rope ladder. The pilot spoke through the loudspeaker, “climb up the ladder and get in the helicopter!” The rabbi responded, “it’s okay. God will save me.” Moments later, the rabbi drowned.

When the rabbi got to heaven, he demanded to see God. So, God came up to the rabbi. The rabbi angrily asked, “How could you let me die? I prayed and prayed for you to save me and you didn’t answer my prayers…”

God immediately interrupted the rabbi and said, “What are talking about? I sent you two boats and a helicopter! What more did you expect?”

So, what is the point of this little joke? I’m hoping to elaborate on this in the proceeding paragraphs.

Having seen the video “Wide is the Gate” once or twice, it got me thinking at one time about some of my usage of certain material classified as self-help. In fact, it directly targets Anthony Robbins in particular, which got my attention. Main reason is because I have used his material, such as Personal Power, since 1992. I tried it because at the time, I was in the deepest depression to the point of being suicidal. In fact, I will never forget the fact that Joelle sold her piano in order to get me the set. And you know what? It worked. It helped me to break out of my destructive pattern and helped me to move forward.

However, after seeing the video, it sort of had me wondering if I was doing anything that was not according to scripture. This sort of led me to stop using what I knew for a few years, and I can say that I started to watch my life slide to the point of depression again. Something that I have not felt for a long time. I found that I was starting to act like a combination of Grumpy Cat and Walter (you have to watch Jeff Dunham in order to get this) at the same time. I can’t say that it was all of a sudden. It was more like a frog in a pot situation. By the time I noticed that I was in hot water over this, it was too late. If you are wondering to yourself, “did he pray about it?” The answer is constantly. Well then you are probably thinking, “he must not be praying hard enough.” Are you kidding me? Just how many times do I have to wake up in the middle of the night crying to the point where my pillow is drenched, begging for Godly intervention to hold up the walls from crumbling all around, or at the very least some wisdom and understanding as to why the walls are crumbling all around, before it is considered praying hard enough?

Well, after serious consideration, I really can’t see why I, with my belief in Christ, should discontinue my usage and practices of everything that I have learned from Tony Robbins. In fact, I pulled out my Personal Power CDs and have been listening to them on my BlackBerry and have been doing the assignments that are on the CDs. I can imagine the pixels that are getting sucked off the screen by all of the sphincters closing on many of the pastors and legalistic church goers that I know. That’s okay. I’m used to this. I got people trying to talk me out of taking karate 16 years ago. You know the type. However, if you read this far, you’re probably going to hear me out, which means that all of this typing on my Q10 won’t be in vain.

Let’s take this whole notion of self-help to start. If you are thinking that by listening to the CDs and practicing what you are listening, you are not having faith in God, I will tell you to think about this for a second.

When you are not feeling well, what do you reach for? Do you reach for a pill, or are you pulling out bible scripture believing that is sufficient? Be honest with yourself. You have probably reached for a Tylenol, Rolaid, or Gravol without a second thought. Have you been unfaithful to God for doing so? Certainly not!

When I ripped my quadricep muscle clean off of my knee, should I have gone to church first? You’re probably chuckling, thinking, “Now you’re being foolish! Of course you should be going to the hospital!” Even Joelle’s first reaction when I could not stand up because of it was, “You’re not going to work. You’re going to the hospital.” Let me tell you that there is no one I know that is more faithful to God than Joelle, and yet she knew what had to be done. I never lost faith in the hospital. I spent most of my waiting time reading from the book of Psalms while I was in pain and shock. I truly believe that God was at work through the doctors there as not only did they fix up my injury, but I am walking far better than I was before the injury. Only God could do that kind of stuff.

If working out on an exercise machine, or riding a bicycle being unfaithful to God. I think we know the answer. We can pray and pray all we want for physical fitness, and God will meet us halfway. He’ll either provide the equipment or a gym membership. However, it is up to us to get up off of our butts and get working out. We must not be like Saul. When it is time to pray, we pray. But, when it is time to act, we act.

So, if none of the above are a lack of faith, how would using Personal Power to help me break my cycle of depression be considered a lack of faith? The main premise of those CDs is that we are already doing all of these things unconsciously, and he is demonstrating how to take control of this in a scientific way. In other words, he scientifically shows us how to create and break habits. After all, we create habits all the time. Some good, many bad. Even Paul was aware of this. So where is the lack of faith? If anything, I’ve seen books in Christian bookstores on leadership that use similar principles. Things like setting goals and taking action are very common. The only real difference that I have noticed are the use of scripture. So then, why couldn’t I do something similar and let scripture dictate the kind of actions that I need to take? I prayed about the goals that I had set both before and after. If anything, God is a very big part of this.

Not to mention that I have been depressed all summer, and not for the lack of faith. I could have gone to the doctor and he probably would have prescribed me some sort of happy pill. Instead, I’m using this to break the cycle. It’s not some voodoo spiritual magic. It’s simple science of knowing how we function and using it to break a cycle. It’s how God designed us. It’s no different than learning how our heart and lungs work. In case, it’s more like how our nervous system work.

Just as I am using Personal Power from the aspect of faith, I think that it is just as easy to misuse any of the books found in the Christian bookstores. There are enough pastors out there that are twisting the gospel to suit their own desires and doing far worse damage than me listening to a self-help CD. In fact we can use and misuse almost anything. It is up to us to discern whether our actions are in faith or not. And if we are not able to discern the difference, then we need to stop and pray. God is faithful to us in that he will point out the direction that we need to take.

I also remember a line that Morgan Freeman said in the movie, “Evan Almighty”. He said, “when you pray to God asking for courage, God doesn’t just give you courage. He puts you in a situation that will give you the courage.” The same for being happy and breaking the cycle of depression, God doesn’t just snap His fingers and your are happy. He will provide the situation, and tools when required, for you to break the depression cycle. He did so 20+ years ago when I first got Personal Power. He is doing so again, reminding me that He gave me to tools to break the cycle and it is up to me to act.

Just as I had faith in God in the surgery that made me walk better than ever, I have every bit of faith in God that this is helping me break the cycle of my depression and make me more fit to act in His service. Prayers have never ceased. However, when it is time to act, we act. Otherwise, just how faithful am I really being?

God is in control – the most overused statement

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
–2 Peter 1:3-7 ESV

Everyone always tells me to relax and that God is in control. It always seems to get me thinking, and what better place to express my thoughts than here? Even better, at least to me, is that I have switched from my BlackBerry Z10 to a Q10 because I wanted a keyboard that I can type things like this a little more often. So let’s get to it.

How many times have I heard this statement? Many times. In fact, perhaps one too many times. Am I trying to say that God is not in control? Not at all. All things beyond us are certainly not in our control, despite how much we try to wrestle that control out of God’s hands. For example, in the natural course of time, we don’t control things like how long we actually live. We’re not sure when and where God will take us from this planet. It is also safe to say that there are plenty of situations that we were not in control of. For example, Joelle didn’t have any control over whether she would get cancer. In fact, I can say that none of us are in control of this life changing situation. These are just a couple of examples of the many things that we are not in control of, no matter how much we try to wrestle for it.

So what am I really trying to say? I’m trying to say that I believe that despite our best intentions, we cough up that statement almost as an excuse not to make certain decisions and take certain actions. We use this one little phrase to sit down and do nothing while life is passing by without pulling over to pick up hitchhikers. Sorry, but I am starting to think that this is pathetic of us. Yes, we have no control over certain situations. However, that is no reason to sit on our asses while life plays out. I’m sure that this is not God’s will.

Am I saying that we need to stand up and wrestle for control? Certainly not! We must still have the faith to believe that God is taking care of situations and we should not interfere with whatever He is doing. After all, look at the mess we have today all because Abraham and Sarah tried to take control over God’s promise. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t do certain things that are definitely within our realm of control.

Take our own bodies for instance. We have the ability to break out a smile at any time. Saying that God is in control for that makes us sound like we are marionettes and that God is some cosmic puppet master. God doesn’t move His fingers to make us dance. Otherwise, that would destroy the notion of free will. Therefore, God will not pull any strings on the sides of our face and we’ll be smiling. We can smile. We can also do things like exercise to get our emotions in check. There are many things that we can do to get ourselves going. I like to write music. I believe that David did the same while God was at work.

Is God in control? Definitely! Does that mean that we have no control? Not at all. In fact 2 Peter 1:5-6 mentions having self-control. Without it, we fall into sin. So, there’s no excuse for me not to handle our current situation. I can’t change the fact that Joelle has cancer. What I can change is my attitude and quit living like the walking dead. Joelle and I still have a bunch of good years ahead of us. It is time to live them. This is definitely something that God has given me control over.

The Battle and the Hope

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
– Isaiah 40:31

I had a blog post that I was typing before, but somehow it got messed up. It doesn’t surprise me, because it seems all part of the battle that I am going through right now. All of my fears, anxiety and sadness regarding Joelle’s cancer has taken its toll. I find myself not wanting to play any music and I find myself going to bed at 9pm only to wake up the next morning like I didn’t have any sleep. At times, I don’t even feel like singing in the car. That’s a big thing for me. Am I depressed? Probably. Have I lost hope? NO!

I have hope in the God will come and pull me out of this. My hope is strong in this because I know that Jesus was in similar states on the night of his betrayal. Anxious, fearful and sad. Yet, he walked that road all the way up to the cross. I believe that Jesus is waiting for me on the other side of this battle, ready to help me press on. I know that he will help me up and run this race again.

I may be down, but I know that God is near and listening to my cries. I would have to be foolish to believe otherwise. He’s taken care of my needs up to this point and He has never failed to deliver. He will deliver me from this battle victorious. I will look at the scars that this battle has given me and I will smile because those scars make me stronger in the Lord. Just as I look at the scar on my knee and know how God has made me better than before, I will look at these scars and know that God is making me better.

And in the end, I will sing a brand new song.

Making this Blind Man See

Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;

– Isaiah 38:4 – 6 via www.bible.com

It has been almost a month since my knee injury on the winter ice. That one heartbeat of a moment that robbed me of my independence, to which I now I have been fighting to get back. No, it’s not a battle against anyone and it certainly is not a lashing out towards God. I don’t have to ask why this happened to me because I know that everything always happens for a good reason. It isn’t like God said, “Take that and suffer with it…” or anything like that. It’s more like, “I have something to share with you and I need your attention”. I know that God is helping me clean up some of the sins in my life and sometimes the cure feels worse than the disease.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking, “How the heck can ripping the muscle off your knee be a cure for sin?”. Well, let’s start with the sin itself. It definitely goes deeper than this in levels one God could explain, but let’s just say that I haven’t been totally appreciative of the people that surround me in my everyday life. People like Joelle and Joshua, who are with me day in and day out. One could say that I have been taking their presence for granted and perhaps have not been treating them as a loving husband and father should be. In short, I was blind.

Enter the injury…

It’s amazing how one little… okay, not so little… muscle could leave me in a state of immobility and dependency. That muscle has disrupted the body. That muscle has interrupted a way of life. In fact, it not only interrupted a way of life for me, but it has also interrupted a way of life for Joelle and for Joshua. All of a sudden, their lives have been burdened with my injury. Heck, even Margot put her life on hold to fly out to help take care of me for the first couple of weeks of my injury. For our marriage, the “For Better and For Worse” wound up invoked.

So, where’s the cure?

It’s simple, really. Just as most things God does for us humans, He’s laid this one out right before my eyes as plain to see. God has made me realize just how strong Joelle’s and my marriage to each other is. When everyone else in life has left me wounded for dead, Joelle is the only person standing right by my side. She is taking care of me. She is feeding me. She’s helping me fight to regain my independence. She’s doing things for me that she never bargained for. She’s there for me throughout all of this. If that’s not love, then what is? Joshua has also been there and I know that it is hardest for him. He’s been helping to care of me and assist me with my physio exercises. Maybe God is preparing him as well.

Sometimes, it takes something like this to make your heart realize what love really is. Someone once told me that love is not a feeling, but an action. Love makes us do many things, and in many cases things we never wanted to do. And when things feel like they are at their worse, love brings out the best in those around them. And when you take your eyes off your injury, and affliction, you notice it and you really begin to appreciate it from that moment onward.

When you think about it, this injury is helping this blind man to see once again.

No Greater Love

As someone who is considered fortunate enough to live in the western world, I take a lot of things for granted. I have to freedom to decide many things for myself, go to church and pray to God for saving me, as a Jew, through the blood of Jesus Christ, and I get to write and post songs about it, among everything else I try to write about.

Being Rememberance Day, I started to thing how many soldiers bravely fought and gave their lives for the ability for people like me to do what I am able to do. These soldiers laid their lives down not only for friends, but for people they will never know. People like me. Christian or not, to me they fulfilled the scripture:

John 15:13 New International Version (NIV)

13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

This has become huge to me this day. I will never know these people, but they would be willing to put their life on the line so that I could write about it. Perhaps, even sing about it. It takes me to right back to how Jesus died on the cross so that I could write about how He set me free from sin. Did Jesus know me then? I don’t know. I do know that God did know me two thousand years ago, and that I would be put on this earth to receive His love through Jesus Christ. I wasn’t there when Jesus died on the cross, but he laid down his life for me. Who could love me greater?

I’ve been set free in almost every which way possible. That freedom wasn’t free. The price for my freedom had to be paid with blood. You are reading this because I am free. Not only was I freed from the bondage of sin. I was freed from the threat of various forms of tyranny on this earth so that I could write about it. More importantly, I could sing about my freedom and share my songs with everyone who wants to listen.

For this, there is indeed no greater love for me than those who laid their life down for me.