I remember the day that I accepted God into my heart. I was a young nine-year-old girl, on a hot July evening at Vacation Bible School at Seymour First Baptist Church. I remember the feeling, I certainly remember the Lord speaking to me, and the Holy Spirit filling me.
I was recently challenged by one of my high school students, who chose an interesting, and very deep topic to research: “Why do people believe what they believe? Why don’t people keep an open mind, and only believe what they were raised to believe?”
His premise was quite simple: people believe what they believe because of the social norms they have been raised in, which of course, are affected by our geographical location, our generational views we’ve been brought up in, and the way society and media influence our thoughts. But “why” do we believe, what we believe?
I really pondered his question, and even pondered my own faith and Christianity. How do I know, despite the way I have been raised, especially in the Midwest Bible Belt where there are more churches in my tiny farm town than there are families to serve it, that God is really, real?
The question came zooming back to me-with a flood of memories that only proved, “How could I not believe He is real?” Despite being saved so many years ago, I remember the date I really KNEW God was for real–June 22, 2013.
The day my husband was diagnosed with Colon Cancer when we were seven months pregnant.
I am certain I could never forget that day. It was the worst day of my life. It was the worst timing of my life. God certainly could not understand what He was doing. There’s no way He could have a plan for this–this circumstance, our family, my husband, me.
He did. He does. And I only know a fraction of the reasons of His Greater Plan.
My type-A personality couldn’t fix this. Not Stage IV Colon Cancer. “I” couldn’t make this better, “I” couldn’t make income appear that we didn’t have. “I” couldn’t pay all of the medical bills that would soon roll in. I couldn’t take away Joe’s pain. “I” couldn’t perform this surgery he needed-and the many more he would need. “I” couldn’t do this by myself. “I” needed something more, someone more. “I” needed a lot of things that were more. And there was only one person who could make that happen.
There is no way to know the many blessings that came out of Joe and I’s story. I am certain until I walk through the gates of Heaven, I never will. I read recently in my Bible–that this is the way He wants it. It is not intended that we know all the reasons why. It just isn’t. How else do you not believe in God when you are handicapped to handle anything in your life–and yet it all prevails in perfection? How do you have over a year without income, and over a million dollars in medical bills–and they are all taken care of in some facet? How do you welcome a child–His child–that He trusted you with to raise, into this world with no complications, with your husband by your side? How do you look at a neworn child and not believe there HAS to be something greater in this world to create something so perfect? How do complete strangers see you carrying your nine-month-old son across a parking lot in one arm, and your dying husband in the other arm, and he comes to tell you how much God loves you? How do your greatest fears that you won’t be home if your husband needs you, are eased because He makes sure you are there every second your husband needs you the most? How does starting a new job in the mess of all of this, prove that God’s greatest warriors are the ones that surround you every single day? How are God’s other Army members your chemotherapy nurses and doctors, that just so happen to be the one’s that come to Branson every Thursday to serve your best friend?
How does your other fears that your husband will not be there for all of the firsts–subside when the greatest birthday party is celebrated for your infant son, and your husband is beaming the whole entire time next to you? How does God allow someone to also experience cancer, also see the same Doctor, and observe you and your family for over a year before they send an anonymous gift telling you that YOUR family is a testament of God’s love and faith for us? How do new friends through the journey become the closest in your life?
How does a surgeon that needed his own testament of faith, deliver that when He became the one our family prayed for in a big way, as he continued to use his skills and hands for God in saving my husband for the next sixteen months? How did “I” get chosen to bring a much bigger message out of God’s story for us–in many different facets: teaching, coaching, widows, children that have lost one of their parents in their childhood, advocating for Fight CRC, and those affected by colon cancer everywhere?
Coincidence? I have never believed in that word. I guess if there were one or two coincidences I could believe it. But all of these, and even more? Not possible. There are way too many things intertwined that have happened that I certainly know God is for real. There are still people who tell me they followed our story, that we affected them in some way. And it’s been over two years since Joe has been gone.
The answer is simple: the day there was no way I could attempt to keep doing life by myself, and control circumstances that truly I never did, was the day I knew God was for real. I knew this–but I experienced it on a much bigger scale. The days my life were shattered into a million pieces: the day Joe was diagnosed, the day I was told there were no more options, the days Joe’s pain was so bad he would scream and beg to God for relief, the day he took his last breath in my arms, the day I realized he wasn’t coming back: those days are the days I knew God was for real.
He’s had mercy. He’s had grace. He’s had patience, love and understanding. I don’t deserve it. I have questioned Him, cursed Him, bargained life with Him. And He still loves me, and I can FEEL it!
Many people, including my past self before Joe’s sickness, believe God is for those people that everything goes “right” for. I’m here to tell you: when everything has gone wrong, was when I felt God the most. I’ve said a million times, “I wish there was any other way to bring me closer to God than what we’ve been through. But in my heart, I know there was nothing else that could.”
I hope however it happens you remember the day God was for real to you!
God’s Blessings-Kristina, Joe’s Wife