So far, 2015 has delivered me some real downers. A few of the lowlights:
Our business has seriously struggled all year.
My brother's suicide on May 19th was beyond excruciating.
On September 23rd, I learned that my mom has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Today I learned it is stage 4.
If you are familiar with painful tragedy, you know that things like these are not mere events that appear as journal entries confined to a particular date. They don't allow us to just flip the page. These are ongoing, life-altering realities that spill over into EVERY day, week, and month. For me, they are an ever-present emotional mixture of grief, disappointment, worry, fear, confusion, loss, sorrow, melancholy, anger, abandonment, guilt, and helplessness. They're like ingredients of a painful soup that is reheated and served up for me over and over, that I have no choice but to eat. These unpleasant ingredients float around together in a big pot, simmering in a broth.
And, strangely, for me that broth is PEACE.
I really don't have much to say about God's peace because, like the Bible says, I simply cannot figure it out (Philippians 4:7). But I've been experiencing it, and it's VERY real -- even though it seems to make absolutely no sense. The other unpleasant feelings remain in the mix, but they don't dominate. Nor do they seem so harsh or bitter when simmering in this broth of peace. The hard chunks soften, becoming easier to swallow.
The broth of peace can only come from God. And so, I've developed the habit of going to Him frequently. In my youth, I used to go to God for answers, searching the Scriptures to figure everything out. But nowadays, I tend to seek Him out as my Master of CGI: comfort, grace, and instructions...
...Comfort that assures me there is much more to this story that God is writing than I am able to see.
...Grace that keeps me standing, proceeding, and persevering with purpose to the end.
...Instructions that will guide my next steps into a future that appears hazy.
Asking "why?" can only send me on a goose chase up a mountain that is too steep to climb. It's not that there are no answers; it's just that they lie on the other side of a mountain that is too high for me to scale. My aptitude can't handle the altitude. But whenever I ask "what now, Lord?" or "how, Lord?" it's like He places me on a seat that transports me to wherever He wants me to be at that point in my timeline. He handles the transport control, and I rest in the confidence that eventually, in His time, I will end up on the other side of that mountain. I'll see a new perspective that will make me say, "WOW! What a brilliant plan! It all makes so much sense now!"
Meanwhile, I'm eating my soup. I still don't prefer all the chunks, but I savor the broth of peace -- this mysterious, very real feeling that makes absolutely no earthly sense.
I'm Gary Bower...
...a father of twelve kids, seven of them married with kids. That leaves five still at home. My business partner and best friend, Jan Bower, is an amazing artist who also happens to be my wife of 43 years. For many of those years we made children together; now we just make children's books. Last I counted we have twenty-five books and thirty grandchildren.