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Blessed? Or cursed? You Decide!

March 7, 2007

Someone told me the other day that they wished they were able to follow their dreams in the same way that I have. First of all let me express that I don’t feel that “dream” adequately describes the plan for my life. From the age of fourteen I have been convinced of what God wanted me to do with my time here on earth. This certainty has created in me a passionate drive to accomplish it!

But my main concern with what I heard from this person was the attitude that the die had been cast and that his finances dictated his fate. I fear that there are many of these people out here, who look at people like myself as lucky. The fulfillment I find in my work has nothing to do with luck. It has been hard won and is still a constant battle. Many people believe that if you are following God’s will for your life the road becomes level, the sun always shines, and birds sing in the trees as you skip down the lane of life.

I happen to subscribe to an old adage that goes a little something like this, “If everything is coming your way, you’re probably driving on the wrong side of the road”. Let’s look at a couple of Biblical examples of people who followed their God breathed passions.

Way back in the day God spoke to a man named Noah. Once Noah had been convinced to deliver a doomsday prophecy the real fun began. For one hundred and twenty years this man of God went out every day and watched the crews of convinced believers haul in the materials and hew pieces for the love boat, right? Wrong, he and his three sons labored cutting down trees, milling their own lumber, digging up pitch to coat the sucker with and tending the millions of animals that were coming from every corner of the globe. Then there were the daily worship services in which every person felt the “Glory of God” descend and dwell among them, while they danced with joy in the streets, right? Wrong! Noah preached his guts out! He was convinced, remember, that life as they knew it was going to end. And after a hundred twenty years he and his half million loyal followers were all saved in the ark! No! NOT ONE CONVERT IN 120 YEARS OF DAILY PREACHING!

What about David? First he is anointed as king by one of the greatest practitioners of the prophetic arts that ever walked among men, Samuel. This of course gave his brothers cause to respect him, right? No, they wanted to send him home from the front just moments before he slew the giant. This man endured decades of being chased by a king he was loyal to, to the point of death. Finally he ascends the throne and everyone lives happily ever after, right? Wrong! It was one of the most tumultuous times ever recorded under a “righteous” king!

Paul, of Tarshish, was ship wrecked, beaten, jailed, starved, stoned and persecuted for his religious zealotry against Christians, right? No! it wasn’t until he began writing his staggering share of the New Testament that things got really interesting!

Or how about Daniel, or Joseph, or Paul’s fellow church fathers that were martyred for their faith? Wake up! Jesus said that in this life you will have trouble! Does this meant that we should seek it out? No! of course not, but, neither should we discount it. We have believed a teaching that says that when times get tough, God is out to lunch, o we are headed in the wrong direction. That it is only in our “peace” and “joy” that the light of God can shine. What a bunch of crap!

The whole, “If God ordered it, he’ll pay for it” school of philosophy falls miserably short of matching up to the Biblical example and these are only a few of hundreds of examples. The greatest romances are born out of the bitterest losses as is the case in the story of Ruth. The greatest military victories come on the heels of defeat. Why do we expect our lives to be easier than these paragons of virtue that are given us as models? We think the world is going to hell in a hand basket but somehow things should be easier?

So I began to examine my own life and the events of the past few years have revealed something to me. I am not nearly as disengaged from the spiritual war around me as I had been led, by my own guilt, to believe. There is a pattern that may be observed:

Ten years ago my mother passed away from cancer just three months to the day from her fiftieth birthday.

In the past five years I have lost the Church that I attended for more than twelve years and was kicked out of another for questioning doctrines and practices, lost my business, sold my home to avoid foreclosure. I had my car repossessed. Buried all of my four grandparents, two dogs, three cats, four gold fish and a pair of parakeets. My last surviving Grandmother had three strokes. My next youngest brother declared himself an atheist. My daughter had appendicitis. My two year old son had 27 stitches and 22 staples. My oldest daughter has broken her arm three times, My oldest son once. All of this while amassing an unsecured debt of almost a quarter of a million dollars. My Dad moved to California, and is now marrying a Phillipino woman half his age. (I know, maybe this belongs in the ’blessing’ category, not quite sure) I had a car accident, and thought I was having a stroke due to high blood pressure. Our sewer line caved in causing a backup of sewage that sat under our house for six months due to inability to pay a plumber, then we paid a plumber to fix it with dismal results. Our dog bit the mailman. Another plumber threatened my life and in an unrelated incident was shot by one of his former employees. A truck donated to our studio was stolen and I was robbed of my tools. We have had countless cut off threats and sometimes actual cutoffs. Our house was robbed once and our car broken into. I have been slandered for not being Christian enough, had students leave because I was too Christian, and spent long sleepless nights wondering if I was a Christian at all.

We have also given birth to three children. I wrote a novel, a ninety minute comedy review and four plays. I made two short films, directed a dozen more plays, one of those at a Christian University, and designed and built at least a dozen sets. We built a theatre, increased our dead business from 27 to 80 students and applied for nonprofit status. I built two decks in excess of 1500 square feet, and more than a quarter of a mile of fence. We started the Family Theatre Warehouse and Family Theatre Group, and hosted a weekend Christian arts festival. I designed and constructed my first puppet stage which just happens to be for a television production that attracted the attention of Disney. I recently published one of the plays and the novel. I finished a musical and am in the process of arranging the score. My oldest daughter has been in several radio commercials, and directed photography on two short films. The bank balance is steadily heading toward the black, and my whole family is healthy. I had someone come by today to look at the plumbing and expect it will be fixed within a couple of weeks. I have been working on a series of videos with a film maker who has connections to Zondervan, and my seventh child is to be born any day! I have two new nephews and a niece all six of my siblings are happily married. My wife of fifteen years still loves me, and I was able to complete the upstairs bathroom remodel we have needed for so long.

You get the drift. During the time of heaviest blessing I also experienced the deepest loss. These things are all temporary. My faith is not unshaken, but it is intact. In fact it has grown. Through all of the “curse God and die” moments of my life, which by the way I handled with my usual Job-ian grace, (hah!) my understanding of what it means to love God has grown! My compassion has been reawakened by empathy. Am I more polished than I was? By human standards, maybe not, but spiritually I think so! So let me conclude by saying Trust in the Lord, with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path. Then it is up to you to follow it! No matter what! This life is temporary! Live it!

Mark

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4 comments

  1. Wow! God is alive and well and still at work in lives on planet earth.


  2. “…and spent long sleepless nights wondering if I was a Christian at all.”

    you and i have so much in common! its like we are living parallel lives.

    that was some great preaching!


  3. “From the age of fourteen I have been convinced of what God wanted me to do with my time here on earth.”

    That single mindedness of purpose will get you far as long as you stay on God’s path for your life. And even if you veer off a bit, God usually has a way of putting us back in line.


  4. I had dreams. Simple dreams and big dreams. Dreams for … a solid home life. A good marriage. Our family going to Albania as full time missionaries. The list goes on and on.

    To make a long, LONG story short, all of those dreams fell through when my husband of nearly 30 years was diagnosed with an untreatable, incurable, fatal, degenerative brain disorder. For safety’s sake, he can no longer live in the same house with me and our three children. We had to sell our house, give up our dreams of missions work as a family, move to a new community, change churches, lose friends, and so much more. Although we’re still married, it’s really just a technicality … my husband is unable to partcipate in our lives or in our marriage in any meaningful way. He functions more like another child in the family, leaving me to be his caregiver (and scapegoat for his uncontrolled rages — a symptom of his disease), but I’m not his wife. I’m truly alone.

    I became essentially a single homeschooling mom of three teenagers. I lost my house, my marraige, my dreams, my plans, my hopes. But not my God.

    In the midst of the darkest times (and believe me, there’ve been some pitch black dark times the past few years), God has shown Himself to be faithful. My faith has been shaken, it’s been questioned, it’s been rattled … and it’s still there, and in many ways stronger than ever before.

    Am I blessed? Cursed? I’ve had people tell me that with all the trials we’ve been put through, it must mean that we’re under a curse. But would a curse lead my children and I closer to God than we’ve ever been before? I think not.

    I choose to believe that we’re blessed, truly and deeply blessed. But blessing isn’t necessarily easy, is it? Thanks for sharing, Mark. 🙂

    ~Debi



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