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Thoughts on life by Teri McCarthy

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Googling God

Posted by admin in October 16th, 2008
Published in faith, prayer

Sometimes I really, really wish that I could put God’s name in my Google search slot and come up with some answers. You know, like when you can’t remember the name of a movie or you can’t remember which State some national monument is in. All you have to do is put in the name, or a close facsimile of the name, in Google, hit search and tah dah…there’s your answer.

Man I wish God worked like that! I bet He’d get a lot of hits. For example, I broke my ankle recently. First time I have ever had a broken bone. And the shocking thing is I have really thick ankles. So it was a surprise that the thing could break. Anyway, I’m lying on the landing of our stairs (yeah, I fell down the stairs; I wish it could have broken during ice hockey or soccer even though I don’t do sports) freaking out because of pain and because I can’t find my foot. The break was so creepy that my leg went one way and the foot went another–like a “warning: curve ahead” sign on the highway. I called out to my husband and he came running to see what was going on. His white, I-think-I-am-going-to-hurl face confirmed that we had a bad situation on our hands (or my feet I should say). Big D runs upstairs to call 911. I am sitting there on the landing feeling pain, freaking out and crying, “Jesus. Dear Jesus. Please help me. Help me Jesus.” And something unbelievable happens. The ankle pops back into place. Seriously. Then the pain stops. No pain. Big D comes back from the phone call and he looks again at the ankle. “What happened?” he asked. “I think Jesus put it back” I replied. We stared at each other and then the EMT guys showed up. Now, the EMT guys, Rick and Bob, didn’t see the ankle pre-“please help me Jesus” cry out so they look at the thing and are sure it’s just sprained. Big D, who is very calm and quite the steady sort, assures them that the ankle had indeed been heading south whilst the leg was heading west. I don’t think they believed us. Rick asks, “Did you set it?” “No. It just popped back into place” I answer. “Impossible,” says Rick. “You would have passed out.” Then Rick asks if there’s any pain (Bob meanwhile is staring at the stairs left to navigate and at my height and weight figuring there is no way on earth he’s gonna get me on that gurney and out to the ambulance; now he’s white and got the hurl face going on). “No. There’s no pain” I tell them. And off we go to the ER. Exciting times. First ride in an ambulance.

ER doctor asks, “Any pain?” “No.” X-rays are ordered. A fracture is found. An orthopedic surgeon is consulted and away we go to the operating room. Fun stuff. Surgery goes well and then Dr. Surgeon tells me I’m off my foot for eight weeks. Eight weeks. Eight very long, very tough, very confusing weeks. Still no pain. Even after the surgery…no pain. When the orthopedic surgeon asked me who set the ankle I said, “I don’t know what your theology is, but Jesus put it back in place.” He smiled, more kindly that I had expected. He explained that he had 30 years of sports’ medicine experience and that he had seen plenty of rugged, big old boy athletes pass out when an ankle was set. “But if you have the faith for that, who am I to complain?” His words moved round and round and round in my head for days–weeks actually.

“If you have the faith for that…” Okay, if Jesus was able to pop the sucker back in place, why didn’t he just go ahead and take the millisecond needed to heal the thing? If Jesus was kind enough to take away the pain (and believe me the pain was horrific), why didn’t he just go ahead and let me go back to normal? I needed to walk in August, September and even now in October. I needed to be mobile. Let me explain.

For 25 years I have prayed, cried, worked toward and waited to enter North Korea. That’s right! The good ol’ Hermit Kingdom. I have been burdened for that nation since I looked across the Chinese/N. Korean border in 1983 and asked God to allow me to go there to live and work. Twenty-five years I have waited and prayed and cried and tried and finally, with ticket in hand, was schedule to fly to N. Korea on September 1. I was invited by the leaders of a new university there for the opening ceremonies scheduled for September 7. Instead, on September 7, I sat in a huge, brown, leather Lazy Boy recliner in my den with my leg elevated watching John LeCarre movies on DVD. (The university since called and said the opening ceremonies were postponed until November 27; still can’t go because doctor’s orders are no traveling for four months!) You know the old, trite expression, “I can’t seem to get a break?” Well, I got a break, just not the kind I was looking for. Because of the fall (mine, not Adam’s and Eve’s) I can’t go to N. Korea. Because of the Fall (theirs, not mine) a lot of crappy stuff happens that I don’t get; stuff I don’t understand; stuff that doesn’t make any sense and so I want to Google God and say, “What’s up with that?” But it’s not that easy and I guess this is where faith is supposed to come in. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen yada yada yada. I know I have to believe that God is a good God. I, by faith, have to trust what God says: All things are working for my good according to God’s purposes (Romans 8:28). Perhaps the Bible isn’t a search engine, it’s definitely not Google, but maybe there are some answers in that book. Answers like, “My ways are not your ways” (Isaiah 55:8). And “I know the plans that I have for you” (Jeremiah 29:11). And let’s not forget the all time favorite “God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). I guess it all boils down to either God said it or He didn’t. And if He said it, then as a follower of Christ I really should believe it. Right?

There are good people in this world, good Christian people, who are facing much more difficult circumstances than a broken ankle. Let’s be honest – this is not cancer. My ankle is not terminal and it will eventually heal. And hopefully, I will make it to N. Korea one day. If not, I’ll hang out with a bunch of N. Koreans in heaven and we’ll have delicious heaven-style kimchi at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. In the meantime though, there are good people, godly people, and yes some not so nice folks that have a profession of faith in Jesus Christ and are doing their level best to follow Jesus and yet they get a landfill full of crap dumped on them. Life can be so unfair and sometimes even cruel and one has to ask, “God where are You in all of this mess? Where are Your promises? Where is Your love for me in this hell hole?” I guess, especially without Google, we just have to hang on to what we know of God’s character (good, loving, kind, compassionate, full of grace, merciful, just, faithful) and trust. Trust that He is still near and that He still cares and that He has not forsaken us.

As the writer of Hebrews explains faith can mean having your loved ones raised from the dead or rejoicing even when being sawed in two. We are surrounded by those who have gone before us (the great cloud of witnesses) who by faith entered into Christ Jesus even in horrible and adverse circumstances. I guess I can hold on to, “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed” (Hebrews 12:12).

I’d like to know what was gained (besides a few pounds) from me sitting on my big bum for eight weeks. (I am still hobbling about and the doctor says my days as a runway model are over–no more high heels. Darn!) But what really matters is that I learn to walk by faith and not by sight. That I learn to trust God even when things don’t make sense. Because isn’t true faith, real faith, believing in something we may not see or feel? Isn’t it trusting God even though our circumstances scream to us that we cannot? C.S. Lewis writes in A Grief Observed, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” My pain wasn’t in my ankle, it was the excruciating pain of letting go of a dream, an opportunity, and now I feel a little stronger in the broken places. Peace.

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11. Marilu McClellen said,
October 16th, 2008 at 8:56 am

Teri,

I praise God that you shared your insights and struggles. You are so special and I am blessed and encouraged by your words.

Love,
Marilu

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13. Jon Hogg said,
October 16th, 2008 at 9:16 am

Teri. So good to have you blogging. It is like having a good friend over for lunch each day. You have touched on a subject I too have struggled with recently. I’ve been leading a devotional for our staff out of the book of James. A few weeks ago we talked about James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brother, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” Pure joy! Really? How can I be HAPPY about my trials? I guess the point is less about the joy we should have from the pain and more about the lessons we will learn from the perseverance. Our simple minds cannot truly understand why we go through these trials for we see the world from a temporal view not an eternal view. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes “No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun.” Here is to the day we truly understand. Blessings dear sister.

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14. PhilB said,
October 16th, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Teri,

Why listen to Doctors? Just because they think you shouldn’t fly shouldn’t mean much to a free thinker like you. I’d go.

But then again, you knwo what a crackpot is giving this kind of advice.

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19. PraguerTed said,
October 17th, 2008 at 6:01 am

Hey Teri,

Just got home from speaking at a funeral for a 21 year old kid that I knew for years when we came to Prague. He died from complications of diabetes, and his mom (a believer) is devastated. He was a rebel, and he walked away from church, the same way his dad walked away from his family (and away from his own faith). His mom called him at his apartment to see what kind of cake he wanted for his 22nd birthday. When he didn’t pick up, she sent the police, who found him in bed. He had been dead 6 days.

And his mom wanted me to speak because I knew him. I didn’t know him well, but Carolyn and I did try to reach out to him — had him and his brother over to play D&D several times.

At the funeral, I said some of the things you said, about God being in control and good and wise, even when we don’t know why he does as he does. I wish I wish I wish I could have said, “And I *know* that Vojta is in heaven, free from pain, enjoying the Feast of the Lamb without diabetic restrictions.” But I couldn’t. It is, without a doubt, the most dissatisfied I have ever felt after speaking (it was only 6 minutes, since the whole service was only 20 — what a way to send a kid off!). My lousy little 6 minutes seemed so puny compared to the ocean of pain in the room. It was something, but not a lot, like trying to mop up a flood with a tissue. The mom seemed to appreciate it, though. And that’s something.

All of that is to say, in a very roundabout way, this is a topic very much on my mind. That’s what I need to remember at times like these. Hope God uses this to grow my trust. And I hope the ankle feels better. See you in the summer.

Ted

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20. admin said,
October 17th, 2008 at 6:31 am

Thanks Ted for responding to the posting. I am so sorry to hear about Vojta. I hate to turn the conversation to me, but please let me share something with you. When I was 18 I walked away from God. Seriously walked away. I broke every one of the Ten Commandments–ALL of them Ted. I lived in that state of rebellion for three and a half years. My husband, a good Wesleyan, would tell you that in those three and a half years I had lost my salvation; that if I had died in those three and a half years I would not have made it to heaven. I lied, stole for drug money, slept around, cheated at university and had a filthy mind and mouth. And yet…not a night went by that I didn’t lay my head on a pillow and hear God’s voice, “You’re still mine.” The Hound of Heaven is an ugly term to me, but I do know personally of God’s tenacity and His unwavering love. My sins were great (greater than I even care to share in this comment), but His love was greater still. Jesus never left, nor forgot, the five-year-old girl who walked down an old Baptist church aisle, knelt at a wornout altar and gave her heart to Him. Everyone who knew me in those years believed I was hell-bound, but the Holy Spirit hovered over me in the quietness of the night and reminded me of Whose I really was. I believe we are sealed until the Day of Redemption. That is my hope and prayer for Vojta’s Mother. As always Ted, your genius shines through in your beautiful wording. I appreciate your comments more than I can say. Love you guys. Teri

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25. ndhorton said,
October 27th, 2008 at 6:25 am

Teri, thank you for your thoughts. I’ve only started to read through your posts, but I’m consistently finding that you anticipate all my Christian platitudes so that I’m left with the truth that God is God and I am not. That sounds trite, but there’s something about our lack of control over each moment that demands for us to cry out in helplessness to the only ONE who makes sense out of the senseless. I’ve been living there lately. It’s terribly uncomfortable–all this faith stuff–but I’m getting glimpses of what it’s like to recognize that it’s never been my resources supplying my needs.
Noel

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