I believe...but I have so much to learn & so many ways to grow...

The last couple of weeks have been a drain. I admit - I'm not front lines on this. I'm not sitting in a hospital ICU waiting room. I'm not walking in to see the man I love, or my dad, in a physical condition that is unexplained and critical. But, this is all about someone who I admire - a family I adore - and my heart not being willing to surrender.

Our lead pastor, John Stumbo, has been in ICU at OHSU for almost 2 weeks. He's been in critical condition. You'll have to check the church website for all the updates (http://www.salemalliance.org/) - I say that not because I don't want to explain the story, but I know that I'll get the series of reports out of order, or I'll forget to paint the whole story, and I don't want to do that. John and his family deserve to have the story told correctly. I will say that John's been in critical condition - spent much time on a ventilator - has had excessive weakness and swelling - and while we know he's had a rare blood infection, we don't really know a good diagnosis of what's going on. We knew it was critical, but on 11/20 when they gathered us as a church staff at 9:45 in the am, we knew things were not good. We prayed fervently - approaching the throne of grace begging, pleading, petitioning for God, Jehovah-Raphe, our healer, to touch John in a miraculous way. And believing then (and still believing now) He can do it.

The decision was made to cancel all our Wednesday night activities (including Crash and kids activities) to have a prayer/praise service for the whole church family that night @ 7 pm. To say the worship center was packed out is an understatement. It was soooooooo amazing to see the "family" come together to sit at God's feet and pray for healing for John. I admit it. I haven't gotten to know him (or others) at church as well as I'd like to. But John has this way of getting right to the core of how you feel. A way of reaching in and knowing exactly where you are, and gently acknowledging it. I remember last Christmas at our Pastor/Elder Christmas gathering while sharing with everyone he looked in my eyes and says he knows some of us have sacrificed a lot to be sitting in the room - a simple statement that even now as I type cuts to my heart. He is annointed by God to do a mighty work. I truly believe it. I am grateful he is my pastor. I am grateful to learn and grow through his words and the words of the other teaching pastors on our team. I really like his wife Joanna. She is a kindred spirit of sorts. While our interractions have been too short and sweet...I really like her...plus, she loves Diet Coke as much as I love Coke. Whew! And Drew, their son, is a good friend - I've had a great time serving alongside him with the middle school ministry at SAC. He's such a blast... And it was not a stretch by any means to join with 1000+ others to beg God to heal John and to strengthen him & his family.

Now in that I admit - I'm selfish. God can choose to heal however he sees fit. (This is where the I believe but I have so much to learn comes in)... That night we had an amazing night of worship - I honestly felt lifted to heaven, being in God's presence and just singing to Him and resting in His presence. Then we start singing I Surrender All. I admit it. I couldn't sing it. (OK, brutal honesty coming here...) I couldn't sing it. I couldn't say I surrender all. I'm not willing to surrender John's physical healing. There - I've said it. I believe God can and will heal him. Even now as he is back on a ventilator. I believe God can heal him. I think I see surrender here (as I'm letting my pea-sized brain process it) as physical defeat. I'm not willing to surrender that. In that moment I felt like to say "I surrender" was saying I can stop praying. I can't. I can't stop. I can't stop begging God to heal John. I can't stop trusting God to heal John. I can't stop believing God can heal John. I won't. I know there is a bigger surrender here. Yet there was still part of me that couldn't utter the words. Call it whatever you want - but I know I have a lot to learn. I know I need to grow. But there's just something about admitting that you don't have it all together that is vulnerable - that is scary - that is frightening. There's also something selfish about thinking, God there is no other way that you can take care of this - or that I can't wait for the day when John is standing before the congregation to preach next, personally or corporately. I want to see him standing before us. I want to hear what God has to say to us through him. Is it selfish? Is it faith? Is it naive? No...I just think it's my heart. I'm not surrendering to the enemy who wants me to forget to pray. I'm not surrendering to the enemy who wants me to believe that God can't heal John. I'm not surrendering to the enemy who wants me to surrender hope. And I'm not surrendering the belief that John will be healed. And so...I hold on to these verses...

Isaiah 40:28-31 - Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Hebrews 4:16 - Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 10:23 - Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

And so...I hope. My hope alone is in Him. I don't get it. I don't understand it. I'd like some answers. I'd like healing to have happened 5 weeks ago, before the first hospital visit. But I hope. I believe. I trust. And God...Teach me to surrender. Thanks for grace when I hold on tightly to my dreams, and for gently prying my hands open and holding on to me as I let go of what I was holding on to. OK God - I surrender my selfishness to you. (ugh...that was hard to write...

All to Jesus, I surrender. All to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him - In His presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all;
All to thee, my blessed Savior,I surrender all.
All to Jesus I surrender, humbly at His feet I bow
Wordly pleasures, all forsaken, take me Jesus, take me now.
I surrender all, I surrender all;
All to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.



©2009 Until... | by TNB