An Excerpt

I mentioned earlier my new book has been picked up by Barclay Press for publication. I’m working on a edit now, to get everything progressing.

Here’s an excerpt from the new book.

“This is going to sound terrible, Deb. Don’t hate me. But why does that help? How did it help you to think that God was with you after Courtney died. Where was he to stop Courtney from dying? I don’t care that God is with me now. I can’t sculpt! I can’t paint anymore! I can’t do anything. All that I was sure he asked me to do. I can’t do it now. He makes demands and then he takes away all the ability to fulfill those. He robs me and then I am supposed to want him next to me. I’m mad at him, Deb! I’m pissed off and I don’t know what to do about it.” She stops as the tears take over. Deb hands her some Kleenex. “I’m sorry Deb. I’m sorry. It just broke out. I’ve been keeping that in.”

“You can never make me hate you, Liss. I know what you’re feeling. Don’t you think I said those things too? I’ve had time now, so it sounds so… so rational and easy and everything. It matters, Liss, because for me I had to first see that God wasn’t against me. And God isn’t against you. Just because this has happened doesn’t mean that somehow God has rejected you. I know, I know. That’s so trite to say. But it’s true. And if you can see that part then the next part makes more sense. And that’s what helped me. I could see that God wasn’t against me, he was with me. I could realize that what happened to Courtney wasn’t the divine plan, or that I somehow had to justify it to myself or anyone. So as I read the rest of the story, the rest of Joseph’s story I could see something I hadn’t seen before, not really.”

“What?”

“His being in prison. Sold as a slave. Everything. It wasn’t right or good or somehow okay. But God was with him throughout all of it, and not only that. He used it. He used it.”

“So he made all that happen so that something good will come out of it? How does that make God seem better.”

“No. That’s not what I’m saying. It happened; God used it. God was with Joseph throughout all of it. God was with Joseph in the dry well, and God was sold into slavery when Joseph was. God was with Joseph as he worked for Potiphar and God was with Joseph when he was tossed into jail. And all this isn’t saying those were good things. It’s saying that those weren’t hopeless. Everything got stolen from Joseph, but with God there he still had hope. Courtney was stolen from me, Liss. Stolen. Stolen by an evil man who couldn’t just stop with one beer. Stolen. And I don’t have to say that’s okay. But I also don’t have to think that everything is gone, that my life is hopeless and there’s nothing left for me. I don’t have to see it like that. The Bible doesn’t tell me that all of that is okay. It says there is sin and evil in this world, sin and evil that God hates even more than I do. The Bible doesn’t tell me that I have to be perfect and live a perfect life and have only pretty, lovely things happen to me. The Scriptures don’t tell me that the sign of God’s presence is constant happiness, and riches, and all that I could possibly want.”

“They tell you about Joseph.”

“They tell me about Joseph and everyone else. They tell me about the cross, Liss. I saw this and realized all those pretty, heroic characters in the Bible, all those that I thought were these models of perfection. They all had crap hit them from every direction. Why don’t we expect it then? Why haven’t we been taught that crappy lives aren’t a sign of God’s disfavor? Life happens and the Bible is filled, filled, with all kinds of life, a lot of it worse than what has happened to us. That’s not the point. The stuff isn’t the point. That’s what I saw. The point is that God is with us, and that only by staying with him, even with all of that crap happening around us, we will see freedom and hope and life. God doesn’t make us think that bad is good, and that crap is chocolate cake. ‘Just eat it and you’ll like it.’ No. God says that this stuff, all of it, is what happens and we’re not asked to justify it or him or ourselves or anything. He tells us, tells us all through Scripture, that he’ll stick with us, and we need to stick with him, because what we see isn’t the end of the story. It’s not over. There’s more and we have to, the only hope we can possibly have, is to have faith that he’s playing to win. Playing to win everything. But that doesn’t mean in the middle there won’t be disasters and problems and all the crap that happens.”

“So, we’re supposed to have faith, no matter?”

“That’s it, Liss,” Debbie says. “That’s what I’m saying. Look at those stories. Some miracles, sure. But a lot of hurt and heartache and confusion and frustration. What happened to us isn’t some kind of rejection or sign that God hates us. We’re part of this chapter, you see. That’s what I saw. I was with Joseph in prison too. And now I’m not waiting for God to say how lovely prison is or that I should be happy with it. No! I’m waiting to be let out of prison with Joseph. To be, like the Israelites, be set free from Egypt. ‘Let my people go,’ right? That’s faith. And that’s hope. That’s how I can live. That’s how I started piecing my life back together. The faith talked about here. Not the flimsy, silly, everything is okay so I can talk about faith, kind of faith. ‘Jesus loves you, pass it on.’ No. In the face of all the crap, faith is realizing God is still with me and realizing he plays to win. Right now we’re neither here nor there. But we have to expect there is a there. Something more than all of this. That’s the kind of faith that keeps me moving still.”

“I don’t know if I can have that kind of faith, Deb,” Melissa says, tears in her eyes. “I don’t know how. I can’t. I don’t see it. I don’t understand. I don’t have faith and I don’t know how to.”

“I know,” Debbie says. She stands up and leans over the bed, hugs Melissa. “I know.”

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