Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sucker Punched

I've been had. All those preachers. All those sermons. All that nonsense about asking, knocking, believing, supplicating, persisting, petitioning, praying, pleading, anointing with oil, jumping through hoops in hopes that God would do what you begged Him to do.

It's a bill of goods. They were selling. I was buying.

I bought the crock about getting what you asked for. So I prayed and begged and pleaded and pounded on my neighbor's door at midnight for my friend, Kerri Lane, to be healed of her cancer. She died tonight. At 44. She leaves two daughters, 9 and 6. And a giant crater in the heart of the Highland Church in Abilene, Texas.

I'm fine with God being omnipotent, omniscient, all the omnis. I'm fine with Him knowing what's best and having ways that aren't my ways. I'm fine with the fact that there's a time to die and that all things work together for good for those who love Him. I'm fine with all of that. I believe He still knows what He's doing. And that He's still good. And that Kerri's with Him right now.

But don't trot out those texts about mustard seeds and moving mountains any more. They're not true. Jesus must've meant something else. Something more mysterious. Something. But definitely not that you'll get what you ask for.

It's my fault for believing it. It's absurd to think that God would alter the course of human events because I want something. Half the time I don't even know what I want. In this case, I did know. I wanted Kerri healed and to live to an old age and to raise her daughters and serve us Communion and keep feeding the hungry and reminding us by her example that our job is to live out the mission of Christ.

That's how she lived. And died. To my knowledge, she never asked God to heal her if it meant superseding His will. She wanted what He wanted.

Right now, I can't fathom how a mother being taken from her daughters - ostensibly what He wanted or at least allowed - accomplishes anything remotely equivalent to her being miraculously healed and permitted to continue being Christ incarnate to everyone she touched. But I even understand the idea that I can't understand it.

What I can't understand is how all those preachers could tell me with a straight face that all I had to do was ask. If it's true that there's a sucker born every minute, then I've truly been born again. No more.

14 comments:

Russell said...

Grant,
Thanks for your honesty. My prayers are for her family. You are a great person. Keep sharing what faith really means.

RQ

julie said...

Grant, I am so glad that you are being honest at this time. I have been angry since Kerri was diagnosed with melanoma. None of it seemed to make sense to me. It is so good to hear your frank words. I will miss her in ways that I can't imagine yet. I have already been missing her. Keep talking and writing with honesty and grace....I can feel the Spirit moving in your words.

Mike said...

Grant - This post may sound sacreligious to a few. (See my earlier post from this morning.) But to me, it sounds like a modern day version of some of the psalms. They see what God CAN do; they are startled by what he chooses NOT to do.

In some ways, I understand why some become deists. They're trying to get God out of the embarrassing situation of having the power to answer prayers like these for Kerri, but deciding not to do so.

NEVERTHELESS -- and this is why I think you're writing a version of the psalms -- we are people of faith. We are convinced that God is good, that all is mystery, that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

Thanks, my friend.

Beaner said...

Sometimes I think Billy Joel was right.

Matt McBryde said...

Grant,

Thanks for your honesty. This was a very powerful, thought-provoking post.
I had a great time hanging out with you this past week at Lectureship.

M@

Tammy M. said...

I have had the exact same feelings that you just wrote about - in July of last year. It sent me reeling. I know God can still move mountains with mustard seeds, and he will open doors when we knock, but my take on this is that it is a much more spiritual mountain or spiritual door, not necessarily one of the flesh which we want to be healed. Rick A. said at lectures last year, one day we will all be truly healed when we are called home. To come to peace with this took me several months of prayer and study. Most of all I just had to learn to trust God's sovereignty and be that little child he refers to in scripture. Blessings.

Katie said...

Grant, I like your term "sucker-punched." From my various conversations with people, you are not alone and there are many out who are having trouble breathing from the blow to their stomachs. My blow came in December, yet had no way to let out my hurt. Thank you for being so open and faithful. I'm very grateful that I know you.

Beverly said...

Whenever I feel "sucker-punched", I go to Job and read chapters 40-42.
Job says to God,"Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know."
God's bigger than us...sometimes that realization is unsettling and most times its comforting.

Candy said...

Lots of people are talking right now about the movie "End of the Spear". I haven't seen it but I have heard the story. Talk about sucker-punched. I only hope and pray we will react in the same way the missionarie's wife and children reacted in Ecuador on that occasion. I believe their faith grew, if I'm not mistaken. I've prayed that God will guard the faith of our church and each of us individually. I am asking. I guess I'm still a sucker.

M & K Gililland said...

Our family is also hurt by the loss of our dear friend, Kerri...and our hearts go out to her precious girls. We don't understand it all either...but, I guess we don't really have to... We also join with the prayer of Candy, that our faith will be guarded, and in time, would even grow stonger...that our faith would continue to be based less and less on our experiences and more and more on just simply taking Him at His Word.

Blessings to all,
Michael

Rebekah's Jar said...

Grant, it has been a continual blessing to be able to see you from where I sit in the auditorium. Yesterday, I did not think I could come to church, much less face going to class. The class where I learned so much about grace from my precious friend Kerri. Somehow, looking over and seeing you weep so freely, as I have so many times before, gave me strenth to grieve my way.
I could imagine that you were thinking, like me, for the noise of the semon to be hushed so I could hear the voice of Jesus, somewhere. Thank you for your life of faith, and questions. Elisabeth Pringle

Stephen Bailey said...

Thanks for reminding me that grief is about honesty. What I know from the Psalms that God can handle is our honest response to things. May you grieve well and may He comfort you in your sadness, frustration and honesty.

Grant said...

Michael,

The fruits of the Spirit are evident in the lives of you and your family.

My problem isn't a desire to take Him at His Word but rather what His Word really is. Some have said through the years that when Jesus said "whatever you ask for, you will receive," He was indicating that He's essentially a genie in a bottle. This post was my lament to express that Kerri's death is the last straw in my belief in that interpretation.

Anonymous said...

MY question is that how do u believe in god. there is no known fact bout god. only belief. you cant pove it. no ne can. so why do u go on about u pryin to god. im not sayin there isnt a god...but maybe there isnt. what would u do if there wasnt a god? and if there is a god then y doesnt he help us? its all fuckin made up...possibly. i hate religion. religion is all about power look at the catholic church. but i hope theres a god. and do you kno who made up religion. who is your god? ask yourself that. your own god should be defined by ur beliefs and morals. and by the way fuck the pope. he is screwed up in the head. people need to learn to listen to themselves more than others. religion is all about power. thats all it is and all it has been. you wanna hear frank?! there is no god. right now thats what i believe. if god gives me a "sign", then i will believe it. but i doubt it will happen. thank you for listenin to me. -Alex