I was driving yesterday on a fundraising trip to Tenesse. Driving from Chattanooga to Nashville, TN. As is so much of our economy, and others, we are experiencing a season of giving that is less than our financial needs require. And so the trip, to see what God might do, and lead us towards. In this season, we have had to take a reduction in our pay. This in itself, can be hard when it feels you are working at full force. The simple question, what more can we do Lord? There seems an honest cry in that, along with this sense of, how dare you? We have been working our butts off, don't we at least deserve compensation for that? Full compensation? That is a much deeper wrestling match than it being just about money.
I was driving through, fresh off a wonderful time with a friend, Krue Brock. Heading into Nashville when my wife called. Our wonderful, and giant, mountain dog, Tacoma, was in the vet hospital. He had not been acting himself, and it was quite clear to Jayne that something was up. Our dog seems to eat like a horse, and in his poop I have found everything from a bandana and underwear, to giant rocks. And so, it was quite obvious what had happened.
Here is the picture...
At first, I thought what was in his stomache was that yellow thing. like chinese sticks. I had seen enough rocks in him, to think it had to be more than just that. And somehow, I could see our dog swalling some chinese sticks whole. But apparently that was the pointing device. It was a rock. A massive rock he just swallowed. about the size of an egg.
Expensive surgery. The rock was the symbol of my last month of work. We are on half pay checks, I remind you. Not the time for extra starbucks. Not the time to find a rock from the stomache of our dog. As she told me the price, it was the exact amount we were about to be paid for this months work. My entire half paycheck was about to be coughed over for my damn dog's rock.
If the cost of that surgery was ten dollars more, or fifty dollars less, I doubt I would have really felt the full weight of it. Put it was the exact amount. In one swallow of a damn dogs mouth. The last month of work traded for this thing to be removed. I can't tell you, what that felt like. Futility at its finest. Like a soldier for Iraq coming back to his home, only to find out the government repossessed his house. the questions of, I thought you are supposed to take care of me? I am off fighting this, dont you see? All this with God for me. You have got to be kidding me? It felt like a cruel joke. The exact same amount of money we are being paid this month?
I heard the news after two days of long travels from planes, to cars, to cities with about 7 hours sleep between teh last 48 hours. Being on the road. away from home, exhausted I had even missed eating lunch. I am on an empty stomache, groaning, with now, an empty account.
The irony is, I would normally have got mad, or frustrated, or maybe blew it off in some way. but it just broke me. the exact amount of the surgery for what we will be paid.
I can be a stubborn man when it comes to brokenness and tears, but they came. the tears. the confusion. facing so much frustration with God. was this the enemy? Of course. But there is so much more happening, God after me in some way. wounding me in this place (so perfectly and precisely I might add), for something more I still dont quite understand, yet. But I cried, and put my hearts offering to Jesus, and my longing, and our need. and it felt so raw, so true of the deepest longing of my soul, that I knew it was God. And this was the center of where I needed to be.
how will this trip end? Will God fund us, and put us right back on the path we had planned, and put all our little monthly cash/flow, and statements as what we need, and expected at the first of the year, right on target. Maybe. I hope. It feels like the only way to get out of this mess. but as I drive around, I am just raw with that sense God gives, God takes away. Dust we are made, dust we will return. the often futility of work, and the curse on this earth. you will sweat, and work your butt off, and it will produce thistle for you.
and for some reason, though that feels so fatalistic, and without hope, I dont believe that is the deepest meaning of those phrases. or that it means to give up. But somehow, that God is over all things. supreme. and ruler. and in the midst of pain, hurt, and confusion, and still tears, I am simply called to trust. God will do what he will. And I am to submit, knowing his heart is GOOD, and I am in him. I am called to wake up from this, offer these words as a sacrifice, and head to my next appointment. In hope, and believing deeply in the work Cory, Josh, Jonathan, and I are doing. And march on with that.