Blasphemous Rumors

My favorite band growing up was Depeche Mode. They were a 1980’s electro-sync pop group that had various songs that for one reason or the other spoke to me in my teen/college years as the angst of my “misunderstood” youth raged with the passion of a thousand suns as the mounting pressures to perform on the track or in my chemistry class seemed to pull at every fiber of my being. One particular tune that resonated with me was “Blasphemous Rumors.” Oh this song….its chorus has been forever ingrained into mind. It is a slow depressing song with a catchy chorus that whines:

“I don’t want to start any blasphemous rumors but I think that God’s got a sick sense of humor and when I die, I expect to find him laughing.”

I have thought about this song a lot recently as maybe God is laughing at my situation. Don’t be so quick to judge me on my blasphemy. Would you blame me if I turned on my faith? Maybe you might turn too. Life is very hard; case in point my life the past few months. Let’s rewind:
• 12/30/2016- I am sitting in my office reflecting on the year. I literally say out loud, man 2016 has been the best year of my life. No more than 15 minutes later I receive a phone call from my brother in law Chris telling me that there has been an incident. The result of this incident will require my 14 year old special needs son to live temporarily with his grandparents in Golden. The humility of not being able to take care of your son is devastating.
• 1/6/2017- I receive a late night phone call from my parents. The second I see it, I know what has happened. My grandfather, the man I have aspired to be like, has passed away.
• 3/2/2017- A clear genetic screening has been completed! Now we leisurely attend the ultrasound in a anxiety free state. This is the day we meet our little boy. Mid way through I see a change in the tech’s demeanor. She asks Christina to turn sideways. I ask if everything is alright. She tries to poker face me and says “she is doing routine work”. I am a banker I read people for living. I know something is wrong. The tech leaves and Christina asks if I am alright. I tell her I am nervous. She says it will be ok. It wont, I know something is wrong. The doctor walks in. This cant be good. Oh God don’t let her sit on the table. She sits on the table. Oh God don’t let her touch Christina’s leg. She touches Christina’s leg. I know it is bad. I can feel the blood rush out of me. My head drops. I go numb.
• 4/26/2017- Christina calls me and says Josiah’s cold has taken a turn and that he is in the ER with a 105.3 degree fever. I rush over and they think he has a UTI. They run some tests and send us home with medicine. Thank God. That could have been worse. The following day Christina’s phone rings at 6 am. That cannot be good. Mrs. Frasier We need to run follow up tests. Josiah has already been admitted to Children’s please bring him down immediately. Thus starts a four day battle of Josiah and the doctors fighting for his life against a kidney/bladder infection going septic. The doctors eventually tell us that everything is going to be ok and that there is a less than one percent chance that Josiah will need surgery.
• 5/21/2017- I am in the garage reflecting on our situation when Christina screams “Danny were going to the ER. I run into the house and see a gaping cut across Eli’s head. Eli, not to be out done by his brothers, takes a header on the entertainment center. The cut requires 7 stitches. Eli was a champ but I swear I could hear the needle piercing his skin as he sat in my lap for stitches.
• 5/25/2017- We go to the doctor and have some awful tests run on Josiah. We find out later that Friday afternoon that Josiah’s kidney/bladder infection is caused by a stuctural/functional issue and will require surgery. Furthermore, he has a 5% chance of losing said kidney.

Thud. That is the sound of my head hitting the mat. Hearing Josiah’s news was a death shot to my frontal lobe. The woe is me mentality has officially taken over. Internally, I don’t want to get up off of the mat. One too many punches. Why get up to get knocked down again? It is just too damn hard. Seriously, has anyone ever heard of a family having this much happen in 5 months? We have to put two of our babies under the knife within 60 days of each other. No one would be able to get up off the floor. I cannot rise. My faith is gone. I think back to Depeche Mode…. “God is laughing”!

Clearly after Josiah’s news I took a pretty hard tailspin. Shortly after in my car, I recall a recent conversation I had with a friend. I audibly scream out to God at the top of my lungs. “God if this is what being a Christian is all about, I don’t want to be a Christian.” I boldly state that “I am not going to church anymore. Look at what good it has done me!” I say “the more I get to know God the harder my life gets. I am not praying anymore as it only causes more pain. Why would I waste time getting to know someone who just laughs at my circumstances?”

That night I tell my wife, who has a bachelor degree in Pastoral Ministry, that I am done with God. She takes this opportunity to clarify that this is not being caused by God. She reminds me of a sermon we heard where the devil leaves people alone who are not a threat. Hence the reason you sometimes see sinners or the unsaved living charmed lives. She reiterates that there is evil in the world and we are currently being attacked. I argue that Old Testament God was mean as hell. She argues that Jesus released us of God’s Old Testament Wrath. She quotes: 1 Peter 5:8-9* commands us to

“Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack. But you must resist the devil and stay strong in your faith.”

I know evil exists in this world. Over the past 6 months I have looked it in the eyes. I felt its breath on my skin. It had been swirling around me for months anticipating, waiting, lurking for me to relent to the darkness’s constant pressure. At that lonely moment in my car on the way home, I weakly conceded to the notion that God had betrayed me. As soon as the words left my mouth I felt the serpent that had been slinking around my feet coldly slither up my body and coil itself tightly around my neck as its head reared up and hissed its orchestrated vileness about God’s betrayal into my ear.

I have not resisted the devil. I have not remained strong in my faith. I know it and I am not proud of it. I hear Christina’s words and internally I come to, my eyes gradually open and I lift my head up off of the mat but the pain of my life’s circumstances are just to much for me to overcome and rise at this time.

It is now Sunday morning. Christina asks me if I am getting out of bed. I say I am not going to Church. I instantly see the pain in her eyes. Not only am I betraying God. I am betraying her. I am betraying my vows. I love her so much, the betrayal in her eyes makes me physically rise and get ready for church. Internally, I crawl to all fours but I am not ready to get up yet.

At church a miracle happens. Pastor Brady (@pastorbrady) preaches about a verse that I have been thinking about posting into this very Blog for over three weeks. In the wake of Josiah’s news and my internal fall from grace I completely forgot about it. Brady reminded me to

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17* NIV).

Clear as day, the sermon was God speaking to me. Simply put a miracle. I think back to Depeche Mode. God is not laughing at me. It is the devil. Externally, I audibly beg for forgiveness. Internally, I rise up off the mat and dust myself off. I am now standing in an attack position, because I have my armor. I have my belt. I have my breastplate. I have my shield. I have my helmet. The battle is just beginning but I am ready. No more laughing, Devil.

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The Calm and The Storm

I have intentionally been an absent voice during this entire process. I have not shared anything because I do not want to hurt you. It doesn’t take a psychology degree or ESP to see the pain in your eyes when I tell you about Jonathan’s plight. It tears me apart to see my friends, family, clients, hell even complete strangers hurt. This is not your burden to bear and I feel that the less I say the less likely I am to hurt you, which in turn means I don’t hurt myself.

One fall I took a fishing trip to Alaska. I was fishing in a seaside port town called Whittier. My friend and I were in a rocky cove with completely serene waters. So serene, one could peer down from the 30 foot cliff and see schools of salmon making their 10 to 15 minute laps in the pristine cove. When the salmon would enter the cove fellow fishermen would start calling out as to alert the neighboring fishermen that the Salmon were headed their way.

Until this moment, I had never seen or been a part of a team fishing experience. This was exhilarating. One after the other like dominoes collapsing on each other the fisherman would call “They are coming.” My friend and I followed suit and screamed at the top of our lungs and laughed when the school swam by. Our exhilaration caused us to miss the fish as we had inaccurate casts from being atop our 30 foot cliff. To get a more accurate cast on the salmon’s next lap, I climbed down the rocks to the waterline and precariously hung out at the 20 foot deep waters edge. I figured with the water being as calm as a lake, what is the worst that can happen? I fall in? Who goes fishing in Alaska and doesn’t expect to get a little wet? I continued to fish from my perch.

As time past the alerts from fellow fishermen, even my friend, became fewer and more spread out as everyone was packing up and heading home. I couldn’t blame them. The fishing was pretty slow but I didn’t fly to Alaska to get skunked. An hour or so later, I heard a very distressed man scream inaudibly at me. For the life of me I could not make out what he was saying. Soon after, another man came over and began screaming and motioning toward the sea. This was followed by my friend joining the couple and motioning for me to come up. I decided to climb back up the cliff and see what the commotion was all about. Maybe they want me to see a whale.

The serenity of the sea had recently been replaced by a “noise.” By the time I carefully scaled up the wet cliff that “noise” had turned into a roar. The previously serene cove had turned into a swirling, tumultuous ocean that had engulfed my precarious perch. I, being from Colorado and having limited ocean fishing experience, was completely ignorant as to how fast, violent, and unannounced the high tide coming in could be. Ten minutes later my perch was under 10 feet of debris filled water that was viciously crashing into the cliffs I had just scaled.

I have dreamt about that cove many times in my life. Sometimes in my dream I do not make it back to the top of the cliff. Instead, I fall into God’s washing machine at high tide. My life is currently at the waters edge and the tide has come in. This tide is a combination of raw panic, angst, anger, and fear of what is to come physically, financially, and emotionally. I cannot internalize this anymore I need to share. I needed my fellow fishermen’s help on that nearly fateful day in Alaska and today God called down to me playing at the waters edge to again warn me of my ignorance. God advised me that internalizing Jonathan’s plight will only make certain that I never escape the tumultuous sea. I cannot overcome this on my own. I know that I am going to have to share my experiences. More over, I know that I am going to have to lean hard into God. Harder than I ever have. I know that I have slipped into the sea. I will soon be drowning in my own emotions. But alas there is hope:

When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8 23-27)
I am truly sorry if my future posts ruin your day, hopefully they can become a bright spot.