Many of you know that soon after my 13th birthday, I noticed something that was the beginning of a challenge that would change my life forever. And it led me on a path that became central to my spiritual formation and faith journey.
On that particular Friday in November of 1970, I came home from football practice and saw a lump on my neck. By the next Tuesday a biopsy determined it was Hodgkin’s Disease (cancer of the lymph system). Two days later, on a cold, rainy morning, I was riding in the back seat of our station wagon on I-30 on the way to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis.
It was a sudden turn and what became the beginning of a lifelong journey of challenges, surprises and blessings . . .
But there were some crucial forks along the way that began to teach me that often, how I looked at and related to the road was really the crux of the matter.
When I struggled with suffering (my own, the younger children around me, and the anguished parents and caregivers), lots of “why” questions emerged. Some people, with good intentions, would say to me, “Don’t ask questions, just believe . . .” They would pray very hard and in specific ways, and though I tried to ignore my doubts, it began to seem as if God was not fair or trustworthy. I felt resentful and began to fear I was an atheist . . .
But when I would raise doubts and frustrations to my dad, he would often (usually when appropriate) have this open-ended saying, almost like a mantra “God works in mysterious ways.” And he would encourage me to look for blessings. (For example, in the amazing care and hospitality of my aunt, uncle and cousin who let us stay at their house when I had radiation and chemo in Memphis. I’m sure the love and gratitude in our relationship would never have gone so deep if we’d been limited to the occasional, large family gatherings in Memphis or Little Rock.)
What I began to learn from my experience (and later read about in college and seminary) is that faith is not an act of willfulness against doubts, as if to say and do the right things to win God’s favor. Instead, faith is more of a willingness to grow in a relationship of trust and learn ever more deeply how to follow God’s lead.
I’m convinced now, that the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit is always Present and ready to offer comfort and guidance, if I am willing to listen openly in solitude and in community (as in “circle of trust” covenant groups that are meeting on Wednesdays.)
Faith is a growing trust that God indeed works in mysterious ways, for good, through all things . . . when we are willing to discern and follow God’s Way of Love . . . and respond in Gratitude and Love . . .
As you continue to follow Christ Jesus’ way of love through your unique Lenten Journey and beyond, feel free to join us any Wednesday. Here is the schedule below:
Wednesday Early Morning Prayers
Come join us in Room 147 during any or all of the 3 thirty-minute segments of Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, and Intercessory Prayer at FUMCFW.
8:30 – 9:00 am | Centering Prayer
9:00 – 9:30 am | Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading)
9:30 – 10:00 am | Intercessory Prayer
(If you aren’t able to come, you may still send prayer request that we will read at this time. You can send an email to Dr. Len Delony (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Being Prayerfully Present as Instruments of God’s Peace
Lenten Discussion & Covenant Groups
Wednesdays | 3.4 – 4.1 | 10:30 – 11:45 am AND 6:30 – 7:45 pm
Room 230 | Click here to learn more!
Noon Chapel Service
Noontime Meditation Music and Communion
Each Wednesday of Lent | February 25 – April 1
Come-and-Go | 11:45 am – 1:00 pm | Leonard Memorial Chapel