November 24, 2009

sticky notes

i recently watched a very compelling movie about a mental institution in Israel built for Holocaust survivors.  The main character, Adam, is a very charismatic, intelligent man who is loved by all at the institution.  Before the war he was a circus ring leader and among many other talents, he is able to somehow read people's minds.  Like most Holocaust movies, this one is graphic and tragic, but there was one specific scene that I cannot seem to shake from my mind.  

In this scene an oblong, sweet-faced woman who adores Adam approaches him and goes on about how she has seen angels in her room again!  She tells Adam that this is a sign that God has not forsaken the Jews after all, that He does care and has sent His guardian angels to watch over the people at the institution.  As she is saying this she is flailing her arms wildly in front of Adam, beaming with sheer joy and expectation that he will be pleased as well.  Adam quickly responds "No, you are see God is not at his desk.  He has left a note that He is out and not returning calls right now."  He grabs the woman's flailing arm and points to the number tattooed on her forearm, "You see.....THIS is God's note that He's not in, He's not interested and He's not accepting calls right now.  There were NO guardian angels in your room!"

The scene gripped me in such a way that for a week I couldn't shake Adam's response.  I'm not Jewish nor do I have any relatives who are Holocaust survivors.  But it gripped my heart so intensely that I began to wonder what the Jewish people really believed about God at that point in history.  And naturally I began to ponder what I think about God, why did so many of HIS people have to die so horrifically?  I don't understand.  

After a few days my mind took a downward spiral as I also got to thinking about all the unresolved dramas, crucial circumstances, relationship fall-outs, health problems, monumental disappointments, failures and disasters that have occurred in my life and in the lives of those I love dearly.  I began picturing each one of them as a little sticky note from God explaining that He was out of the office or busy or not accepting my calls.  All sticky notes tacked to the walls of my heart, my mind, my hands, my life.  Things that I know I've prayed for a million times or more.  Pouring my blood, my sweat and my tears into and there's still absolutely NO change, NO response, NO answer; at least none that I can see with my human eyes.  In some of these cases, the situation has gotten WORSE over time.  The more I have prayed for it, the worse it seems to have gotten?  Some situations have even appeared to go backwards!  Progressed well for a season and then taken a 180 and never come back around.  Sticky note.

Hear me out though.  I do trust the Lord.  I do trust that His timing is not my timing and there's much I may not ever understand concerning His ways.  And be it known, that I won't stop praying for these things.  I won't stop believing.  I love the Lord and honestly with all my heart do believe that He is good and faithful to all generations.  But I'm also not afraid to ask.  I'm not afraid to be honest.  These are very legitimate questions I have.  Perhaps they sound like an immature Christian or like I have some obvious holes in my basic theology that I should have under my belt by now....perhaps.  But they're my questions and I'm not afraid to ask them.  I am learning to work through each one whether I get a response from the Lord or not.  I know He loves me.  I know He cares.  I know His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts.  I know that the plans He has for me are to prosper me and give me hope for a future.  But sometimes I just really wish He'd drop me a REAL note!  I even said recently to a friend.  "I don't even care if I'm the one who has a dream.....just give someone a dream!  Give us something to show you care about this situation!" 

Recently my husband was out of the country on a surf trip for his 30th Birthday and I was having some difficulty falling asleep one night.  I heard the Lord speak to me here.  "Hey, Jessie, instead of wallpapering your mind with stickies of all the things you feel like I have let you down on, why don't you make a list of all the times in your life that if I hadn't come through for you, there would have been no miracle."  


So, in lieu of Thanksgiving, I am going to sit down and make a list of the miracles in my life and in the lives of those I love that would not have come about if it weren't for the everlasting faithfulness and goodness of the Lord and His son, Jesus.  I choose to enter His gates with Thanksgiving in my heart.  And I challenge any of you who feel  you've been left a sticky note from God saying that He's "out", to make a miracle list of your own.  He IS faithful to all generations.  I will set my mind on the things the Lord has done for me that are excellent and praiseworthy.  Come Lord, be enthroned in my thankful heart. 

Here are a few of my miracles:
  • I have been saved by the blood of the lamb, a miracle
  • I am so wealthy in friendships it's unbelievable
  • I didn't die during Noah's birth (seriously a miracle)
  • Noah didn't die during his birth, another miracle
  • Noah himself is a miracle every single day
  • I was told I wouldn't walk for 6 months after childbirth but I was walking after 3!  miraculous
  • The Lord SAVED my dying marriage last year and has restored what the locusts had eaten
  • The Lord saved/is saving so many of my friend's marriages
  • Kaison Joseph, my nephew is a miracle
  • Mark having a well-paying job right now is a miracle
  • Meeting the Holy Spirit and having a relationship with Him is a miracle
  • Our music touching anyone, anywhere is a miracle
  • A friend of ours survived a drunk driver hitting him a month ago; miracle
  • I have several pregnant friends right now: ALL Miracles!
  • I graduated from college: miracle....for real
  • Lasik eye surgery - changed my life
  • When I was two years old I fell off a 2 story balcony without even a scrape or bruise
  • In college I encouraged a friend to not have an abortion; miracle
  • I have beautiful friendships with my parents, my brother & sister-in-law; such a gift
  • I am the Mother of Princes (the first prophetic word I ever received - now actually true)
  • I have the most talented, intelligent, witty, fun, good-looking husband on the planet!  My love and respect grows for him daily.  I am truly a blessed wife.
  • Our health, a blessing
  • Several young friends with cancer: ALL are in remission!  Praise God!
  • My friend's short film winning at Sundance Film Festival last year  - a miracle
  • Getting deliverance in my sleep
  • An encouraging, life-altering dream involving my deceased grandfather
  • Meeting my son's angel named "Protection" when I thought I was going into pre-term labor
  • Not going into pre-term labor when I passed a kidney stone at 7 months
  • Passing a kidney stone while pregnant and not dying - a miracle
  • Never receiving a hospital bill for the 2 night's stay kidney episode in Chicago
  • Getting $19,000 worth of hospital bills from labor and delivery knocked down to $3,500!!!
  • Not having to pay for anything involving my paralyzed legs: 3 different doctors and an MRI
  • My Dad biking the Muscular Dystrophy Bike ride every year after knee and hip replacements, a miracle
  • The fact that the Lord's mercies are new every morning is a miracle

As I write this list I am already encouraged.  Already inspired.  Already filled with Thanksgiving.  The Lord is good.....ALL the time.  Yes, I have a lot of questions.  I may never get answers to them, true.  But I am choosing to set my mind on the miracles.  To take a photograph of the slew of sticky notes that permanently wallpaper my heart, my head, my hands, my life.  All of the reminders that the Lord DOES care about me.  That He has NOT forsaken or forgotten me.  That He is involved.  He is interested.  He is present and concerned with my life and the lives of those I love.  

I have a timeline of the Lord's goodness throughout these 28 years of my life and I must cling to these sticky notes; these landmarks of the Lord's presence.  When I begin to think about the Jewish people and their Holocaust tattoos or the 3 am texts saying that a friend's husband is in the ER for the third time this month, or why my gorgeous 14 year old cousin has Muscular Dystrophy.  Yea I think everyone asks WTF?  

But I have to continually bring myself back to this ongoing timeline of sticky note miracles.    

Happy Thanksgiving

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.  Colossians 2:6-8

 Know that the LORD is God. 
       It is he who made us, and we are his; 
       we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

 Enter his gates with thanksgiving 
       and his courts with praise; 
       give thanks to him and praise his name.

 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; 
       his faithfulness continues through all generations.  Psalm 100:3-5

{The movie mentioned earlier is called 'Adam Resurrected' and is graphic and heavy.  There is redemption in the film, though.  Not a movie for the faint-hearted.}

The photo is me on the Mount of Olives with Jerusalem in the background.  And there's a tiny, little Noah in my womb.  June 2008



Anonymous said...

Hey Mrs. Jessie, i was really touched by your post. Truly. One thing i never had the chance to do is thank you for providing me with my love of the arts and theater. I really believe back at after- school/summer-camp is where i first received my passion for self-expression. I've been having a lot of stress lately of trying to decide how i can incorporate the arts into whatever i do or make a career out of it. I just want to thank you for giving me this love. It is probably the best gift i've ever gotten.


Elizabeth Kosorski said...

Hey Jessie, thanks for writing this, it really touched my heart, and what a great way to shift my thinking tonight, just in time for Thanksgiving. Love you guys!

Toby said...

Man, I think it was on a Nova episode where I saw this Quantum Physicist talking about Quantum Mechanics and he said when dealing with space you have to take every rule you know to be true in regards to life on earth, i.e. the function of gravity, time being broken into 24 hour segments, oxygen and the metabolism of life, etc., and throw it all out the window because in space none of the rules or physical truths we hold as reality here on Earth are applicable, or sometimes even relevant, in the massive expanse of space. So too, in relation of mankind to God, I think all of the rules governing human behavior that we take to be truth are not applicable to God. The longer I live and the more I ponder God the less I am able to believe in the corporeal grandfather image of a white bearded benevolent yet vengeful God (like a mixture of the best parts of Santa Claus and Zeus). So in the movie you're talking about, Adam lashes out of his anger at God and projects human failures onto his image because he can't accept a horror like the Holocaust from who he understands to be a benevolent God. So he says God stepped out. He was taking a smoke break or refilling his coffee. He says, 'God failed me like human beings fail me because I can find no mental justification or solace in what has transpired in my life'. It's a very emotional and human reaction. It's what anyone would think in such circumstances. But at the same time it's counterintuitive.

I forget which philosopher (Aquinas?) this is but the three traits of a true God are Omniscience, Omnipresence, and Omnipotence. In other words, God never takes smoke breaks. All seeing, all knowing, all powerful. It's hard for human beings to come up against something they don't understand, like why the Holocaust happened, or why people get sick and die. But through all of it, and the reason I retain my faith in God, is because I feel there has to be a broader plan which all of these things fit into. There's some grand scheme, all within his omniscient control, that we can't perceive, or probably even comprehend if we did have it.

Toby said...

There's this Isaac Assimov book, I can't remember the title, that I'm fond of. In this book agents travel through the timeline making alterations to specific events to maintain the overall cohesive structure of all times. It's a bit complex, but suffice it to say at one point the agent character steps into a specific time to stop a man who will become a world dictator from attending a meeting that starts him on that path. They take an important manuscript and move it to another shelf in his book case. The future dictator can't find his notes, misses the meeting and becomes just a regular person instead of a world dictator. Why does somebody get cancer? I don't know. Maybe there is one conversation that needs to be had with a person you will only come into contact with in the cancer ward on such and such a day and those words exchanged will influence your decision five years down the road when your cancer is in remission. Who can say, but I think that is the scope we're talking about when we're talking about God's plan.

Maybe I read Candide too many times but I legitimately believe in some fashion everything works out for the best and the tragedy and the joy stand hand in hand, like the two faces of drama, and neither can be separated. They reflect each other and compensate for each other's weaknesses while simultaneously reinforcing each one's strengths. And we quest for an answer to the "why" because by our nature we're curious people thirsty for knowledge, but in large part we search for questions in death because we think there is a knowledge there that can alter the human condition. We're studying places beyond our reach imposing the rules human beings alone are contracted to live by and it's substituting what we take as truth for the irrefutable universal truth our minds can't fully comprehend.

I liked this post. And as far as your earlier post too, I think there is a restlessness that comes with your late twenties. I feel it too, this "what am I doing with my life?" (even though I haven't accomplished as much in life as you have) and I live in a social position you seem to wish you had: freedom to do what you want. But I'm envious of you and your family and your love. I don't know man. I still maintain that your teenage years are physical puberty but your twenties are mental puberty and your thirties are where you actually get to start living as a more wholly formed person.

Anyways. Bad things happen to good people, but as you pointed out, a lot of good things happen too. It's just a part of our nature that when a haze drops over our vision we have trouble looking past it to the sunshine days and we get mired in the darkened skies. Like you said.

Glad you have so many miracles in your life.