Why I Believe in God

Twenty some years ago my sister-in-law’s family and ours fell out of touch, at least daily. It wasn’t due to any family feud, ill wills, or any bad feelings, it was just one of those life changes. They were much older than us, so their children grew up and moved out while ours were still in the K-12 time. My sister-in-law and her husband moved out of our neighborhood to live closer to their children, and while my wife kept in almost daily phone contact, our actual visits were relegated to special events (graduation, marriage, etc.). I’m sure many of you can relate to this, it’s not really that unusual.

In January we decided, for some still unknown reason, to take them out to dinner to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Not a big anniversary (40, 50, etc.), just a chance for us to get together to talk and enjoy each other’s company again. It was a great time, and they were surprised at us picking up the check. Next month we repeated the event (dutch, of course), and had just as great a time. It was really nice to connect to them again after so many years of infrequent visits.

Two weeks ago my brother-in-law was at the local senior center, his wife came to pick him up only to find him staring into space. They couldn’t get him to respond, so they called 911. He had a hemorrhagic stroke. Now, there are two different types of strokes – hemorrhagic and ischemic. Ischemic is the type of stroke most of us are aware of, and know someone who has had one, a clot in a blood vessel blocks off the flow of blood to a part of the brain. A chemical is introduced to break up the clot, then the recovery process beings, usually requiring some type of physical therapy.

Hemorrhagic strokes are different. A blood vessel bursts and blood flows into the brain, surgery to repair the burst is usually not successful, due to a number of factors. My brother-in-law survived the surgery, but never came out of his coma. Two days ago my sister-in-law made the difficult decision to stop the respirator, two hours later he passed away.

Now, many of you may be asking why I think that this is proof to me that God exists. Many would say that this proves there is no God, for a loving God would not take someone away from their family. Their prayers for him would have been answered, and he would have come out of the coma. But, I look at it this way, my wife and I were given a chance to reconnect with him for two months before he was taken home. Sure, some will say it is coincidence, but IMHO, this is too much for mere coincidence. After 20 years of separation, we get together just two months before he died. This is a loving God giving us a chance to reconnect and have a last few good memories with him.

god-is-watching-best1Over my lifetime I have had many such coincidences (and known others with similar occurrences), times when too many thing would have to come together to make something happen. It is my belief that a God who knows the number of hairs on my head can take time out of a busy day to bring a loving act together, to watch over His children and know what they really need, and when they need it. These things happen to all of us, the trick is noticing when He is showing us His love, and when what we experience is just a coincidence.

Why do you believe in God? Do you have a story to share that might help others?

Listen, Hear and Experience

Sermon on the Mount

From one CSF (Church Set Free) member to another to me, thinking on Jesus, meditating on Scripture, I picked up on one that swirled around in one member’s head and a comment someone else made: “To ‘hear’ was to ‘believe’ and to ‘believe’ was to ‘experience.’ This is how community spreads wisdom and support and love. Thank you, Paul and Don.

Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount by waiting for his followers to listen.

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up on the mountainside; and when he had sat down, his disciples came to him. Matthew 5:1

As a former elementary school teacher, I always identify with this verse.

I would look out at my charges, a bit rowdy, having just followed me into the classroom from recess, yet anxious to learn. It was important to settle them, get their attention, because I was going to teach them something they hadn’t heard before, a new concept.

Often, instead of standing in front of the class to lecture them, I would walk over to the carpeted area, filled with comfortable pillows. It was a quiet nook, an alcove they knew was special. It was a place where they could nestle in and listen to my words.

As I sat in an old rocker, the room became quiet. They would wait in anticipation as I signaled them over, section by section. They padded over with soft steps, taking a pillow, voices nearly inaudible, while the others arrived. When I spoke, it was in a low voice. They paid attention, wanting to hear every word.

Because they listened and heard, they experienced the lessons at a deeper level. They thirsted to know, and caught on quickly. When it was time to undertake the lesson, they worked in pairs or trios and helped each other with the assignment. Application and community.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

When will we, as rowdy, reactive adults, slow down long enough to settle in and listen? When will we quiet our voices, opinions and feelings of entitlement long enough to truly hear? When will we allow ourselves to experience the message of Jesus at a deeper level?

When will we surrender ourselves to apply his words and create community instead of division?

How long will it take for us to listen to His words, really hear them, and experience how wide, how long, how high and how deep God’s love is? (Ephesians 3:18)

How long?