I grew up in England and moved to the United States over 20 years ago. All of my extended family still live in England. I am so grateful for technology that allows us to stay in touch even with the 6 hour time difference.
On Tuesday, May 11, I woke up and checked my phone and there was a message from my younger sister saying, “please can you call me I have an update about dad?” It’s one of those messages where you know the person doesn’t want to worry you but you’re naturally concerned until you’ve spoken to them. My dad has been ill for many weeks now and we were wondering what was going on as he has a number of health issues. My sister gave me the update that my dad tested positive for COVID-19. I was driving at the time and had to pull off the highway to get my head around that news. Up until that point I didn’t know anybody that had the virus. I knew several people that had lost their jobs, but now the virus was closer and more powerful in our family’s life than ever before.
One of the first things I did when I heard this news was pray. It was a prayer that communicated my heart of shock, sadness, and concern for my family. Even though I have lived in this country for over 20 years, my family in England felt a million miles away. My hyper brain started to think about what might happen to my dad, how my family would do, how I felt unable to help them, and how it would be just about impossible to fly back. As a believer in Jesus Christ we testify that we not only believe in Jesus but that we also trust Him. There are several times in all of our lives when that decision is the very hope that we are holding onto. I need to remember who God is, what God is able to do, and, what was probably the hardest part of my faith at this point, that God is trustworthy even when I don’t understand what he is doing.
In the last few years I have found journaling and blogging really helps me process my faith and my life. I felt led to blog about this ongoing journey. I don’t write as one who has all the answers. I write as one who is sad about my dad, who is missing my family, and who is wrestling with God’s purposes in all this.
As a family we have talked a lot over the last week. Part of those conversations has been to share funny stories and memories. These times really help us care for each other. I remember talking to my mum last week and saying that as a young child I remember my dad with his feet on a foot cushion trying to take a nap. My dad was a policeman my whole life growing up and would often come home very tired. My dad also liked nylon socks. I do not like nylon socks. In fact nylon socks send a current down my spine to this day. The reason for the adverse reaction to such a benign item is that my dad as he napped, used to rub his feet together wearing nylon socks. He did this over and over. I remember as a child often wondering if he did it long enough that I would start to see a glow between his feet. It is the memory of that noise from his feet being rubbed together that is sending a current down spine right now as I’m writing this. I love my dad and now as a father myself, with children that laugh at me, it makes me appreciate so much the gift that family is to us.
I have been thinking a lot about my faith and I wanted to share with you 5 things that God has been teaching me through this journey. Let me start with the first thing God has been showing me:
# 1 – I can trust God even when I don’t understand Him.
I want to understand what God is doing with my dad, but I don’t. He is stable but he is also really ill. He isn’t strong enough to have a ventilator but is strong enough to have been at the point of being seriously ill with several health challenges, for the last few years. One of my family members said my dad has 9 lives. I think she may be right.
As a pastor I am supposed to have answers. But at this time there isn’t a specific answer – I don’t know if my dad will recover. I don’t know what God’s plan is at this point, but I choose to trust every moment of every day. I am praying for the best and trying to prepare for the hardest. I am starting to more fully understand that I can fully trust God even when I don’t fully understand him. The reason is that, while I may not understand exactly what He’s planning or His purposes is with my dad or even with this virus globally, I do know enough about God from his word to understand who he is and what he is able to do. My pastor says it well when he describes the triangle of trust. On one corner of that triangle is the understanding that God is all-powerful, on the second corner is the understanding that God is all-knowing, and on the final corner of the triangle is the truth that God is all-loving. He is my rock in the situation. As a son of a human father who is seriously ill my heart is sad and concerned for my dad, but as a son of the King I choose to trust God.
I have recently compiled a playlist with every single worship song that I know. That playlist has many artists and includes 764 songs and, if I played it continuously, would last over 70 hours. For me at this time, worship is not just something that I do on a Sunday morning, it’s the source of my hope, the encouragement for my soul, and the reminder of who it is I choose to trust.
Isaiah 43:1-7 –
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
My dad’s name is Tom and we would value your prayers. We are also praying that someone comes to know the hope we have as a family and that hope onto which my dad is holding. He told me about that security he feels a few weeks ago when we spoke last.