riding the struggle bus…

strugglebus1A little over a week ago I turned the big 37 and I have to admit since that time I am really riding the struggle bus.  Don’t get me wrong, nothing bad has happened and I have truly had some enjoyable times with my family during this busy Christmas season.  That being said, it’s in those times when we should be joyful and thankful for all that God is doing around us, that Satan so often wants to get us down.  Everything from loneliness, to fears about finances and our ministry support, to worrying about my kids, just keep coming out of nowhere to leave me just sort of down.

This morning as I took my daughter to school we were listening to “Don’t Bring Me Down” by ELO and she asked me what Don’t Bring Me Down means.  I explained to her that often when we are feeling really good people try to make us feel bad or hurt our feelings and take away that joy.  So the song is saying, don’t do that.  She understood and then went back to singing at the top of her lungs.  Sadly I couldn’t explain to her who “Bruce” was in the song.  The song though sorta hits where I am at currently, there are lots of things to be thankful for like the Christmas Season, my family, some great ministry opportunities, doors that I constantly see God opening.  Yet I really feel like there is this cloud that is hanging over me trying to bring me down and leave me in a funk.

It’s in this time that I am really trying to pray more and just ask God that I not be robbed of joy and that I will give fears and worries to Him.  I hate the struggle bus…

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Forced R & R…

BedrestManThe past week and a half has definitely not gone the way that I had envisioned it would.   I hoped that I would be in the middle of a whirlwind of ministry, traveling to various schools training students and coaches to do FCA, and leading Bible studies.  However, that has not been the case and I have pretty much been confined to my house, the doctors office of the hospital.

For about two weeks I have been having a lot of pain that gradually got worse and worse.  Pain when I sat and pain when I moved.  Friday night a week ago I was in bad enough pain that went to urgent care.  Unfortunately they misdiagnosed and the meds they gave me did nothing to help me.  By Sunday, a week ago today, I was in such bad pain that I had my wife take me to the emergency room where I spent most of the day.  While the ER was not able to totally fix me up they were able to give me pain meds and make it a lot easier for me to deal.  Finally, on Tuesday I met with a surgeon who diagnosed my issue and set up surgery on Wednesday.  It turns out I had a problem called a fistula.  I’ll let you google that and find out what all that means, but I warn you not to look at the pictures.    So Wednesday, I had outpatient surgery which went well, but now I have to go back and meet with the surgeon again, set up a time for a colonoscopy, and make a plan for what comes next.

Since Wednesday evening, I have been at home on bedrest.  The good news is that I am slowly starting to feel a little better and move around some.  While there is still pain, I am in nowhere near the amount of pain that I was in before the surgery.  And hopefully this week I will be able to get out among the living and while not at 100% at least be able to do some things.

The good thing to come out of this is first of all that I have been forced to get some rest.  When you are stuck in bed and on pain meds that make you sleepy, you sleep.  So for the first time in awhile I feel refreshed as far as sleep goes.  The second good thing that has actually been the best thing is once again being forced to rely more on God.  This first came into play with just being in pain and having to pray and pray and pray to be delivered from the pain I was in.  Then more prayer for doctors, surgery, healing and everything going on in my body that I don’t fully understand right now.

I have also been forced to depend on God through all the worry, discouragement, and depression that Satan has been throwing at me.  Worries such as worry about how I am going to pay for all these medical bills and what am I going to do about our family’s financial support for ministry which is not at 100%.  Worries  about important meetings and Bible studies that I am missing while being stuck at home.  In times when I should be encouraged by the awesome friends that God has given me me that have called and texted to check on me, I’ve found Satan trying to discourage me with the fact that I am stuck inside and had no friends visit.  Depressed that I just haven’t been able to be up interacting and enjoying my family.  I don’t list these things to be whiney or to elicit sympathy, but to be honest about lots of the things going on in my mind right now.  And then to also let you know that my God is bigger than all these issues. neverleaveyou He will meet all my medical and financial needs.  He has given me great friends and will give me more.  God will take care of all my meetings and Bible studies.  Whether that being letting them go on without me or rescheduling them.  He will allow me to be a good Dad and Husband to my family.  Instead of letting the stillness and forced time of rest drive me nuts with discouragement from Satan, I have to remind myself that God says I need to be still and know He is is God.  Nothing is to big or small for Him.  He will never leave me nor forsake me.

So please pray for me that I will seek God deeper each day, even when this health issue is over.  Pray that I will get healthy soon and get back to just being able to do and enjoy life without pain.  Pray for the issues that Satan has thrown at me to worry about, that God would meet those needs and I would continue to trust He will do so.  And lastly that even though it’s hard I would enjoy being able to rest!

struggling…but God is faithful

anxietyThe past few weeks have been an exercise in truly trusting in God when I say that I am trusting in Him.  You would think after the past year I would totally rely on God’s promises to take care of me and my family.  I have seen Him provide for us as we sold our old home, moved to a new area, started a new ministry, helped my wife overcome breast cancer, provide the finances to cover all here medical expenses and so on.  It has truly been a year of one example of God’s faithfulness after another.  Yet, I sit here now knowing that Satan has been attacking me full force and making me worry and be anxious about God’s provision.

With the ministry that I work for, my family has to raise our own support to cover all our bills, living expenses, and ministry costs.  So, a big part of what I do is schedule meetings with churches, organizations, and individuals.  Currently, we are at about 82% of our needed support level and so I have been scheduling as many meetings as possible to try and get fully funded.  The great news is that I have been blessed with several meetings and people have seemed genuinely interested and concerned about our ministry.  The bad news is so far none of these meetings have led to new monthly and yearly support commitments.  Also, during this time we have had tons of trouble with our van and put money that we really needed for other financial issues into getting it fixed.  There are also some upcoming financial bills that I know will be here soon that just have led to me feeling totally overwhelmed.  There have also been some just struggles of loneliness and other issues that I really have felt have been hitting me hard during this time as well.

I am very much the type of person who likes a plan.  I like to know what needs to be done to get from point A to point B.  This struggling and sense of being overwhelmed this past month or so has really just began to take a toll, with anxiety, tightness in my chest, sleepless nights, and other issues derived from worry.  I have been so blessed with things that God is doing great in our ministry and opportunities to use sports to work with kids, but yet can’t help but feel Satan is using anxiety to rid me of the joy that I should be having.

The good though is that I know while I am nervous and anxious over the future my God is not.  He is in total control, even though I often feel alone.  In over 12 years of full time ministry and living on support, I have never had a need that God has not met.  And so I am retreating into His Word and promises.  From the time I accepted Christ as my Savior on October 14, 1984, my favorite verse has been Hebrews 13:5 which ways that God will never leave me nor forsake me.  That’s something I have to remind myself of overtime that I feel anxiety setting in.  Rather that wallowing in worry, I have to be diligent to call out to Him and not go to my automatic how do “I” fix this mode.

I know that deep down that if I trust God, He will always reveal Himself to be faithful.  That was evident this past weekend.  On Sunday after church, I was really struggling with anxiety and my chest was so tight that I was honestly scared.  I ran out to do some errands leaving my family at home and my anxiousness kept growing and I couldn’t shake it.  When I got home, though, as I shared in my last post, I had the opportunity to lead my 5 year old son to the Lord.  It was in that moment that God reminded me, “Andy, I got this.  I will take care of you and your family.”

great-is-thy-faithfulness

And I know that He will take care of us, I know that there is not a need that I have that He cannot meet, and I know that when I seek Him I will always find Him.  Pray with me that I will seek Him.  That I will look for God’s blessings and evidence of His faithfulness and not let Satan rob me of joy and thankfulness.  Pray with me that God will provide the needed support partners for our family to get to 100% and that I will have peace as we wait and be diligent to keep pursuing potential partners.  I hate being consumed by anxiety and worry, but once again am thankful that my God is not!