Sunday, December 2, 2012

Something To Believe In

The holiday season is upon us and Christmas is quickly approaching.  It's an easy time to remember one's faith; with all of the songs about Christ's birth and nativity scenes in every other store window.  But to me, it goes much deeper than the nostalgia that the holidays bring forth.  Especially, this year. 
My parents, Pete & Glena, are 83 & 84 years old.  Earlier this year, we almost lost my dad.  And now, my mom is currently in the hospital fighting for her life.  I'm thankful that we live in a day & age of modern medical technology.  The doctors are knowledgeable, skilled, & have the finest scientific data & equipment at their disposal.  But there is something much bigger at work in my parents' journey.
My parents have been married for 59 years.  Ironically, their anniversary falls on Christmas Day. It hasn't always been easy for them.  In fact, they have faced many challenges & hardships along the way.  And I know their secret.  Yes, they have always turned to each other.  But their God has been at the center of everything. 
Although they brought us up as Christians, it wasn't going to church, reading scripture, or what they said to us that eventually bolstered each one of our belief systems.  It has always been the example of how they have lived their lives.  We have seen their faith in action throughout our entire lives. 
As my mother has faced a life threatening situation this week, we have witnessed many miracles that are testaments to my parents' faith.  As most of you know, I began posting Facebook updates on my mom; requesting prayers.  At our family's darkest hours, we have felt the love & prayers of our family & friends lifting us up and carrying us through.  And as the doctor came to visit us with grim news following her first surgery, our family bowed our heads as our dad led the sweetest, most heart-felt prayer I have ever heard.  We have encountered strangers at the hospital who have come across our path, stopped & prayed. Our little community of Meadow has lit up the direct hotline to Heaven!
My mother's progress has astounded all of us, but most of all...her doctors.  But what they didn't realize was how mentally & spiritually tough my little 84 year old mother is...and how many good people she has praying for her.  At last count, I have had over 1000 comments, messages, texts, calls, emails, etc. regarding prayers being sent up for her.  Literally, people all over the world are praying for her and our family.  It has been a humbling experience, to say the least.
There may be some who think it is easy to attribute healing to faith...but what if someone doesn't survive?  Are prayers answered then?  What if things don't turn out the way we want?  What if our prayers are answered, but not according to our hopes?  That is when the truest test of faith comes in.  We KNOW God has heard our prayers.  We KNOW he has heard the prayers of our loved ones.  And we TRUST in God's plan and KNOW it is so much better than our own.  We have FAITH that God's plan will be best for Glena. And we ACCEPT his will, not just for her path, but for our own.
It is during these difficult times that I am left to wonder how people who have no faith can endure hardship.  How can they endure life at all?  I don't care if you are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu...whatever.  If you have no belief in a higher power, how meaningless is everything? 
To me, it is so much more than a denomination, a sect, a doctrine, a religion.  It's not just about sin, redemption, judgement.  It is about knowing there is more to life than what is offered in our Earthly, human existence.  When you have faith and turn everything over to the will of a higher power, you aren't just rewarded with good, but you are granted a comfort and peace that goes beyond any of our comprehension that can carry you through ANY hardship.  And it is about LOVE.
Over the past few days, our family has shed a lot of tears. We have been scared and there have been many anxious moments.  But we breathe a sigh of relief every time we remember that God is in control.  Glena knows this, too.  As my Dad told her surgeon, "We have been married for 59 years and had a good life.  Glena is a good, Christian woman and we know that whatever happens, she will be okay." 
There is no way to express how much all of your prayers have meant to my family.  We haven't heard all of them, but we have FELT them.  And we know God is carrying us through this dark time, just as he always has and always will.  My prayer for each of you is that you realize the kind of strength, comfort & peace that comes with turning your life over to a higher power.  It is a form of LOVE that our creator has afforded to ALL of us and knows we are worthy of receiving.  All you have to do is ask for it...and it will be yours.  And should any of you ever need prayers for yourself or someone you love, you can count on me to lift you up in prayer, as you have done for me!
Merry Christmas...and may you all truly BELIEVE!