Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Articles of Faith: III

Do you trust that God loves you? This question was the beginning of an awakening. Initially, I did not recognize Mr. Trust nor was I fully aware of the distinction between him and Mrs. Faith. Up until this point, I figured I had made it just fine with Faith. I didn't need a Mr. anything! Then I realized I was taking the Mrs. for granted, using her to stay safe where I was, keeping her from stretching her full reach. As Adam needs a helper, my Missus needed a Mister. I could feel the spirit of the Lord wanting to take me further, deeper, but I wasn't brave enough to ask for such an encounter. Instead I prayed the Lord would search me and show me what I needed to be closer to Him.

He answered in a flash. Flashes are visions that appear in that grey area where I am not fully awake, but not yet asleep. In this flash I saw people crossing a deep, black chasm. The distance wasn't far, no more than 20 feet. I was looking from above, watching them cross the darkness- but there was no bridge. It was there, for they were walking on something, but it was invisible. I watched as they all crossed successfully. Then it was my turn. I came down from above and into my body. I took steps towards the cliff, then a few feet onto the bridge I could not see. Then I did what everybody knows they should not do but do anyway out of instinct: I looked down. There was nothing under me, just the empty black hole beneath my feet. In my panic I heard the Spirit: "That's your problem. You don't trust me." I opened my eyes, fully awake, knowing the truth had been revealed.
Rather than simply accepting the truth, I had to push the issue. I prayed, "Help me trust in you." Now I understand what "Pray wisely" means. I should have known better. When I prayed "Let my faith increase," the Lord sent me trials to test and strengthen Faith. Praying for Trust could only lead to trouble that requires dancing with the man himself. This first dance started clumsy, like waltzing backwards in broken stilettos. If I had only known my prayer was in the process of being answered, I would have gone barefoot and ran with it. As it was I thought I was being punished.

I had fallen into disobedience, refusing to do what God had asked of me: stop drinking. After my grandfather died, I had a hard time working through the loss on my own. The day of his death I drank two rum and cokes as fast as I could. Later that night, I finished a bottle of wine. Several weeks later, I was back into the routine: a glass after work, another while cooking, and two more by bedtime. One day, I was bored. I sat down at the computer but could think of nothing to write. Staring out the window, my mind idle, I decided to simply relax all day with a bottle of wine. As I was stepping out the door, I heard the Spirit: "Don't do this." I did it anyway. That night my daughter called, "Mom, your car died."

She had come home to visit during her spring break. It was the last night before she had to return back to school on the west coast. She wanted to hang out with her friends so I let her use my car. I was half asleep when the phone rang."I don't know what happened, I heard this noise and then everything just locked up." She explained quickly, trying to assure me that she was not responsible for the breakdown. "I added some oil, but it still wouldn't start. Some guys helped me move the car, and that's when we saw the oil trail in the road." Then she put her friend's father on the phone."You don't have an oil filter," he said."But I just had my oil changed last month," I responded."Well, they must not have put it on all the way because there's no oil filter now.""So, the engine is dead."He didn't want to kill all hope but I could hear the truth as he stuttered, "Well, now it is, yes. I think. Maybe. I don't know for sure because I can't see, but....there's no oil filter. It's....""Dead."My penance had come; I had not prepared to pay so soon. I began totaling the cost: towing, engine, labor...... The spirit of worry skipped into my bedroom, jumped on my bed and sang her mocking song "Here I come to save the day!"After my daughter's safe return home, I lie in bed and let the spirit of blame chastise me. "You brought this on yourself. You're so stubborn. Weak." I remembered the biblical verses I the Lord revealed to me during my last two trips off the wagon. In January I read "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice....." (1 Samuel 15:22). I obeyed for a time, until my divorce in March, after which I headed straight for happy hour at Ballyhoo's. A few drinking days later I read "Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder." (Proverbs 23:29-32) God was speaking to me, warning me as gently as he could. But I wouldn't listen. Instead of building of a protective hedge around my sweet Faith, I dug a wine-filled moat in which I was drowning. I imagine Mrs. Faith reached for me, but I'd gone under.

The morning after my car died I felt washed up. Bloated, eyes puffy. Worry dragged me out of bed by my feet, urging me to figure out how I was going to get my daughter to the airport, a four hour drive there and back. First things first; I called the garage and informed them of their botched job on my car. He offered his apologies "if it was our fault." I heard the implied loophole and immediately countered, "Your people were the last one's to work on my car!" He offered to tow the car to the shop and said he'd call as soon as they had a look under the hood. That was good, but it did not solve my immediate problem. With renewed calm I asked him, "How do you propose I get my daughter to the Jacksonville airport? Her flight leaves in three hours.""I....I" Great, more stuttering. I waited, hoping. "I don't know how to help you with that." Of course not. The cynical spirit was glowing around me as the clock kept ticking.My daughter called a couple friends, but I wasn't holding my breath. Who is ready and willing to drive for four hours at a moment's notice? No one - no surprise there. I decided to rent a car, adding the cost to my tally. Enterprise picks up their customers, unless they live outside city limits, which I did. I managed to get a ride into town to pick up a car, though not within the necessary time frame. I had to call to change my daughter's flight. Cha-ching. The cost kept building.On the way to the airport I called the garage. "It could not have been anything we did," the manager announced. "You've driven 1300 miles since we changed your oil. If it was our fault, the filter would have come off sooner.""So, it's my fault?""Well, do you have any enemies?" His suggestion of sabotage triggered the spirits of guilt and shame. Does God count?"No." I tried to sound certain."I just can't explain it then. I've never seen anything like this."A mystery that cannot be explained is either beyond man's ability to reason or an act of God - though the former is often because of the latter. I determined the latter was true in this case. Still, I needed an earthly solution."What do you suggest I do?""You can call our insurance company."Ah, bureaucracy - the most reliable of outcomes for any problem needing an expedient solution. Days of phone tag, stacks of paperwork and the liberal use of explicatives. Yes, I was going to pay dearly. Should I be ever be tempted to drink again, I would have this experience to remind me the cost of a bottle of wine.I made it to the airport, said my good-byes, drove back, delivered the little one to her father, and returned home with little over an hour left before I had to go to work. I checked my messages. "Gill" from the insurance company had called, assuring me he'd be in the office until 4:00 and provided his number - long distance of course. I had to add $10 to my phone card so I could make the call, and as expected, he was "away from his desk or on the phone" and would get back to me as soon as possible. It was 3:45. I sighed. "You're going to make me sit with this anxiety all weekend aren't you, Lord?" I left a message for Mr. Gill, then resigned myself to pondering the mystery that would remain on my mind for the next 36 hours. Mrs. Faith waved. Who are you waving at?! I see you! My grumbling spirit couldn't see Mr. Trust smiling as he stood right behind me. I changed my clothes and pulled back my hair for work.

No comments: