An Open Door

September 25, 2014. Thursday, 5:07 AM.

This is Day 14,263 of my time on this earth. This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.

It has been raining for most of this week. On Tuesday morning I was driving along a road and observed a car in the opposite lane which had its driver’s side door ajar. I assumed the driver was holding it shut, that it wouldn’t close for some reason. That’s happened to one of our vehicles before — the latch got stuck in the open position and wouldn’t close. I wasn’t really thinking about anything too spiritual but I had been quietly worshipping the Lord in a walk-in cooler while performing my job in an account.

I like that about working alone: just keeping quietly to myself and trying to glorify the Lord and work unto him and for his glory in the mundane things that no one sees but him.

Anyway, I passed this car, a Mercedes. As soon as it passed me the words came suddenly, like lightning:

“I have set an open door before you which no man can shut.”

I recognized that the Lord had spoken. I knew it. I recognized the words and thought it was in Scripture somewhere but I couldn’t think where from. I Googled it once I parked at the next stop. It’s from Revelation 3:8. The NIV came up first in the search:

I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

I don’t understand exactly what it means, but I was instantly encouraged. An open door represents opportunity, a transition into a new environment. There has been a lot of bad news in our personal life lately, especially in the financial realm.

I will pray and wait upon him. My prayer life is of little strength. My faith is of little strength. It has been years since I fasted and sought the Lord with all my being. I needed to be shaken.

Thank you for your grace and mercy. I thank you that you don’t leave us to our satisfied selves, that you are willing to maneuver things so that we call upon you and realize our need. And I thank you for your sense of humor.


Righteousness and Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost

September 16, 2014. Tuesday, 7:22 PM.

We took my mother to the airport in Wilmington this morning and saw her off. She cried as the weekend visit with all of her children and grandchildren came to an end. It was a pleasant weekend for all of us.

Mom and Teresa went to church with us on Sunday morning. The message was great: the pastor equated the Sceptre with the sufferings of the Cross.

As we sat outside yesterday morning sipping coffee, I related to Joel and Mom how confusing things have been lately. Truthfully, I probably needed to be shaken a bit. For some reason I am unable to persevere in the pursuit of God in the absence of crises that make my dependency and helplessness obvious.

I suggested we pray together before Joel departed. Jess and Rebekah and Catherine were with us, too. It was really nice and I wept and offered the sacrifice of praise. Joel and Mom both spoke prophetically. Joel said the Lord calls me Job, a precious treasure; that he loves me, that the suffering has a purpose. Mom said something similar, that God has not left and has a purpose that will serve others, too.

The presence of God was sweet and I was happy that my girls could see their family seeking Him.

Tomorrow I go back to Pepsi.

I know you called us here. I am certain of that, just as I am certain that you are good and your mercy endures. I know you have our best interest in mind.

But the questions remain. You know the questions remain. Like all the saints, I direct them to you and await your answer.


September 13, 2014. Saturday, 7:48 AM.

The sun is shining but the forecast predicts fog, overcast skies, and more rain. I’m going to ignore the forecast and appreciate the sunshine while it lasts. Maybe I should go to the beach and walk.

Joel and Sarah arrived yesterday with their kids. Joel came first, separately. We went with Mom to the beach. She hadn’t been to the beach in many years and seemed to enjoy herself but tired quickly.

Last night I asked her why Dad went to jail all those years ago. It was attempted kidnapping in Virginia. He had handcuffs and a knife and tried to kidnap a girl because he planned to rob a drug store and “needed a hostage.” He needed the money to score heroin. The girl fought like crazy and got away. He drove to our house and my mother cleaned the drug paraphernalia out of the car. Detectives arrested him in Coudersport, PA.

When you are a child you don’t understand the complex world of adults, but it still affects you. The reasons are nebulous, out there in the aether. I just knew Dad was gone a lot.

By degrees it occurred to me what a mess my parents were. My mother was a classic enabler, trying to save a self-destructive, angry man. My Dad was that man, permanently stuck in the pains and rejections of his childhood. They were so consumed by their own issues that neither of them was really available to us kids.

I told Mom last night that I still struggle with faith because of these things. Sometimes it’s hard to believe in God when you wonder why He didn’t change your family.

But at some level, I think human free will has a lot to do with what happens to us and the situations we end up in. We were called to have dominion, not be tossed around by every wave.

In the light of morning I pray for wisdom to steer my family through our storms.


September 12, 2014. Friday. 8 A.M.

My mother is visiting. She resembles my grandma Stuart now more than ever. She has gained a lot of weight and moves very slowly now. She says it is the medication she is taking. I am glad to have her here. I told her last night about the questions that remain since this move: the fact that we are struggling to pay bills, the fact that our house hasn’t sold.

We filed the paperwork back in July to short-sell the house—to sell it for less than we still owe—to avoid foreclosure. We learned this week that the paperwork sat for 60 days and nothing has moved forward at all in the same time we have missed two mortgage payments.

God, we cannot understand this. Psalm 50. You own everything, everything belongs to you. You could have said “no” at any point in this process. Will my trying to follow your plan and be a leader in my household lead us to ruin? Will you allow that to be testimony? How will I speak to people about you if I’m not sure you are trustworthy? It’s not a question of your capabilities, or my weakness. These things are certain. It’s a question of your involvement, and the things we are learning about you during our time on this planet. Me, Jess and the kids.

I am seeking grace, even in the midst of my questions. I would rather be poor in your presence than rich and comfortable outside of your grace. I seek to dwell in beautifully situated Mt. Zion. Lift me up to that place, my Hope.


It is time for the LORD to act

September 7, 2014. Sunday. 6 P.M.

Here I am, 39 years old today. Was I having a midlife crisis (again) when I moved down here, or was I really trying to do the best thing for my family? There were very limited opportunities for work in Delmarva. Our spiritual situation was dry. So dry. There just didn’t seem to be any life in the churches we visited. It was dead in the church we attended for 15 years, most of our life. The pastor wasn’t decisive and the people didn’t care much for the Bible.

So here I am, at age 39 facing a foreclosure on the house up there that won’t sell, credit ruined, a wife that calls me sobbing because we can’t pay our bills. I wonder how we will get food, how I will pay for my necessary medicines. Her work will dry up soon. I didn’t want to have ruined finances again, just when we were getting out from under our old debts. I’m feeling stuck again, God. Crushed under the burdens that wouldn’t have come about if I wasn’t trying so hard to find a better situation and lead my family the way I’m supposed to – if I wasn’t trying to follow your leading.

What am I supposed to tell her, God, when she calls me crying? This life isn’t my idea. I don’t care about the money. I’m not motivated by money. But it’s a necessity in this wicked world. We don’t need oodles and oodles, we just need enough to pay our debts and bills. She needs to buy school books for the kids. What should I say to her? Why are we meeting failure if you are in this thing?

I don’t even know if this is some letdown of mine. Have I let you down? It seems like you had the power to close the door at any time in the process when we began exploring this area. You are the one who led us to this particular place, to this particular church. It’s a beautiful place. Unspoiled. I felt like I was escaping bondage.

But now like the children of Israel I look up to you for some manna of heaven. My eyes are toward you like Elijah’s by the brook Cherith.

I need your direction, your word. I need your word more than my necessary food. I need to know that you care and that you know what’s going on. Remember what you promised on the mountain. You told us not to worry.

Was Jacob on the right track when he prayed, “If you bless me, I will give you a tenth?”

“It is time for the Lord to act, For they have broken Your law.”

Torrey killed himself this week. In a way I understand his decision; I get how it makes every bit of sense apart from you, almighty creator and possessor of everything. I have been thinking of my own death here lately because of despair.

Help me. O my God help me. I would have despaired unless I believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Music: Iona, Prayer on the Mountain


Life in the tides

September 1, 2014. Monday. 4:45 AM.

I am looking to you to show me the way. I don’t understand what’s happening. I don’t understand the plan here, or how I fit into it. I feel like the doubleminded man, tossed about by the waves. I feel like the man who ought not to think he shall receive anything from the Lord. I feel hopeless, oh my God.

You see the threats, the letters. You know the consequences. You know how it will affect the next generation. Have I served mammon, that I must be brought to ruin? Have I loved the world?

If your word to me is that my heart has not been true, I know this. I know I have lived in that ebb and flow I was telling Jerry about yesterday. I long for consistent fellowship. But why do you make this a thing so hard to be grasped?

How much of my heart really belongs to you? I wanted it to be all, all of my being. But I feel like it is less than one percent.

Yet my thoughts are on you all the day long. I yearn for you in the depths, in the darkness of this world and of my soul I look to the hills, the high and sun-struck mountain, for help. I trust in your word. I trust in your unfailing love. I trust that you set this thing in motion and that you will lift me out of the slime pit and set me on stable ground. I trust that what you have started you will complete.

Sustain me today. Make me come alive.