Tag Archives: being real with God

Experimental Freedom

I read the term “experimental religion” once and was intrigued. But it was years before I began to practice it. I had prioritized relationship to God–well, at least the discipline of it–a good habit, but fairly rigid. I’ve written about making God real–the practice has been interesting and rich. Recently, it’s gone to a new level.

I was challenged by Oswald Chambers idea of 1 in 60: that is, taking 60 seconds of every hour to celebrate who you are. More precisely, whose you are–God’s. It is very hard to train yourself to do that every hour, even asking for help. So I decided to use my smart phone for something smart. I set it to go off with these tinkling celestial-sounding chimes every hour to remind me.

It has been great! I love the interruption, and if I’m not in the middle of something with another person, I let it go for what seems like a whole minute while I am articulating thanks. Then I touch the screen to see if it has been a minute. All my alarms are set to go off at 59 past the hour, so it is very easy to see when the minute is up.

Even if you are talking to someone you can shoot up thanks. And even if I am on the phone, I can hear the faintest background chime and I know.

It was funny the first time it went off, I thought where is that chime coming from? My neighbor must have gotten new wind chimes. Then I discovered it was my phone’s alarm. I had already forgotten! Now it’s been a week and so far I love the interruption!

Yesterday my grandson and I were on the phone. He had just gotten his first phone for graduation to middle school and so called me. We talked 45 minutes and one thing was about his moving up to big church from kid’s class. He admitted he was kind of bored, and then said they had told him what he already knew–you need a relationship with God, but didn’t tell him how to do it.

I shared about setting my alarm and told him it’s hard for God or people to say do this or that because then it becomes the only thing, rigid, a formula, a legality.

Would we tell people how to have a relationship with a person? Some of us could use that instruction, but it isn’t the way it is. Usually, you meet someone, you are attracted to him or her, you share something in common, one of you pursues the other, you make time to be with them, and then more time to be with them with more sharing of yourself. The more fulfilling the relationship is the more time you make for the other.

So it would seem that a relationship with God would follow a similar path. He is always seeking us. Once we see Him and are attracted to His personality or character, we begin to give Him a little space in our heads-a little time. Then as we get to know Him, we are drawn to more time, and as we are fulfilled, we make more time–we may fall in love—hopefully that is where it goes. There is no one safer, or more fulfilling, or more exciting to be loved by and to love. But it does take time and effort–just as you make time for a friend.

But keep it real–make it experimental. If you don’t, and you say the same things every time you get together, its going to get boring. And seriously, that is disrespectful, at least once you know better. Give God time to be God, let Him talk and don’t monopolize the conversation! Let Him be real. Experiment.


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Release and Trust Makes “Hard” Easier

If you want to experience how good God is, walk through something scary holding onto His hand! Would I be saying this if my story ended differently? I think so. My experience would depend on my response, so I hope so. My husband had emergency surgery Friday morning.

We couldn’t figure out why his foot kept getting cracks that wouldn’t heal. But I knew enough to know that it might have to do with the fact that he is diabetic, so when things that had helped turned to a reverse effect, causing pain, I asked if he thought he should go into the hospital. Thursday morning we asked God together to show him what to do, and an hour later he decided to take my sister’s advice to see a specialist. He’s a vet, so he called his VA doc, but had to get authorization, so decided to go to a podiatrist meanwhile. He got an appointment the same day, and discovered his situation was urgent and needed immediate attention: he had no blood flow to that foot! No wonder it was cold!

Between my 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock client he told me, “We have to make a decision tonight. I need surgery now.” We were flying to NC for a vacation the day after. He told me what the doctor said, and I said, “We’ll go after I finish with this client. Get ready.” So he canceled our tickets and rental car, and called the hospital ER in L.A.

The receptionist said they were slammed, and when I heard I groaned inwardly. I’d had four hours of sleep the night before because of his pain, and I knew we would be sitting in a waiting room all night. But I said to God, “You must have a way to get through this.”

Almost immediately my husband said, “Let’s go to the VA hospital in Loma Linda!” We had lived in Loma Linda and met there, and were both familiar with it, so the fact that it was a half hour further didn’t matter. We knew our way around, knew people there.

“Ah yes the Jerry Pettis Memorial! Can you go there?” He called and he could. We put some things in a bag and left.

Two hours later he was checked in, and a half hour later had a room seeing the ER doc, who called in a vascular surgeon. By 3:00 a.m. he was scheduled for surgery at 7:00 a.m. He was in a hospital bed and room by 4:00, the nurse had gotten me a recliner and told us, “You can get two hours sleep before they come for you,” and turned off the lights and shut the door. We were so grateful.

However, I lay in my recliner thinking, what if this is the last time we have? The surgeon had given us sobering info. She had finally found enough pulse to schedule surgery, but she couldn’t guarantee the results; his kidneys weren’t strong; finding the blood clot, that was obviously there, would take dye that could cause them to fail; and they might end up having to amputate. So the simple installing-stints surgery had suddenly gone from a 3 to a 10 on the fear scale.

I crawled onto his bed and said, “I have to sleep here. If you don’t come out of this (we had talked about that in the ER) I’d always regret that I didn’t.”

He got a roommate at 5:00, and there went our sleep. At 5:30 he called our kids to tell them he was going into surgery. A surgical nurse came at 6:00 to prep him.

He was in surgery from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. without a word of how it was progressing. I had slept in the empty family room until 9:30, and woke up, expecting to hear something soon. I went back to his room–the chaplain came and prayed, and vascular support came in to tell me they would take him directly to ICU–they always did for vascular surgery–so it would be longer than expected. That helped. Texts from friends and my daughters helped, I went to the cafeteria and ate.

But by 1:00, God and I had a talk about what it would be like for him to live adjusting as an amputee, and I released him into God’s hands for whatever was best for him and us.

Shortly after that my friend Ev came, just when I was beginning to want her there. She had said I could stay at her house, and I had told her she didn’t need to come up, but she did as if on cue, and I was so glad she was with me when the doctor called. I was nervous after seven hours with no word.

The surgery had been a great success! They had found the big clot, cleaned out plaque, and put in stints. His leg was basically fillayed but he was doing well! Thank you Jesus! What relief! His kidneys hadn’t failed and he still had his foot.

Could I have said God is good if any other outcome had happened? God IS good. Hopefully I could have said it and believed it and felt it no matter what. Maybe we can learn that by release and trust rather than hard, very hard experiences. But even if He takes you that way–hang on to His hand. It makes hard times easier to know you are loved.

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