He was a doctor of internal medicine, and his words were a jaded iceberg, admittedly desensitized by the dying he sees every day.
“There are no miracles for someone in stage four cancer… at least I’ve never seen one,” he said. “My mom passed away about eight years ago. She was only 55, and at that time I prayed, but it didn’t help.”
There it is, I thought.
“Andres, you’re wounded,” I said. “And God deeply understands.” He stared at me, and I started to feel uncomfortable. When I told him about God healing KJ’s heart at birth it piqued his interest. Then I shared my own journey. “I awoke one night asleep at the wheel with a telephone pole coming at me at 55 miles per hour. Thinking the worst, I braced for impact. The next morning I went to the scene and saw that the tire tracks didn’t veer away from the pole, but had jumped four feet to the right, as if unseen hands had lifted the car at the last minute, and planted it away from harms way.”
“If that happened to me,” he said, “I ‘d be a pastor, too.” We both laughed.
In a short time, Andres had warmed to a relationship with God. But it was God’s Spirit, not words that turned Andres’ heart. God breaks into the heart and mind of someone, anyone, who cracks a window to breathe the air of heaven.
God used the pain and regret I discovered in Andres’ story, to speak to me. I scribbled the following three phrases on a napkin, messages about what I needed to leave behind in 2016.
Yea, that’s right; leave behind!
- The regrets of Andres’ life led me to write:
“Leave your irreparable past in the Hands of inexhaustible forgiveness.”
We can regret decisions, second guess ourselves, or suffer under a weight of shame in the aftermath of sin. God put the second law of thermo dynamics into the DNA of creation, which simply means that everything is moving from order to chaos. We are fallen, broken and prone to rebel. In the absence of seeking God, we are losing ground. That’s why Andres’ story is tragic, because eight years of losing ground can be hard to make up. In the moment of sin, or crisis, or worse, it’s the cross and it’s sublime wisdom we rest in. God is not only compassionate, but genius when it comes to knowing how to redeem our suffering.
2. The gaping wound over his mother’s death led me to write:
“Leave your unimaginable losses in the Hands of unexplainable wisdom.”
After Job listened to his friends pontificate for forty chapters, God stepped in. If you look closely, you’ll discover it wasn’t a precious verse, nor a pithy slogan that turned Job’s head. That didn’t work for Andres, either. God pulled back the veil and revealed Himself! God told Job, ‘Not death, or the God of death have any power in my kingdom.’ When Job heard that, he immediately admitted his pride, and when he did, it opened his eyes to see God’s purposes. Job’s circumstances didn’t change, he still suffered unimaginable loss, but at last God showed him that his independence was crushing him, and building excuses rather than hope.
3. Andres’ warmed heart toward God led me to write:
“Leave your irresistible intentions in the Hands of irrevocable Hope.”
The New Year has already crushed many good intentions. That’s because making promises has a short shelf life. Making a vow is different. When Ginnette and I married, we proclaimed vows. That’s because in them are found inexhaustible forgiveness. In vows are found unexplained wisdom, and in vows are found irrevocable hope. When promises are broken it means we have go back to the drawing board. But vows are powered by relationship and surrender. We know God, and He understands our weakness. When we surrender ourselves fresh each day to Him, hope defines us, not the trials, or blunders that will inevitably come our way.
When God breaks in, everything changes.