As I think about this idea of “hanging on to faith” it does not seem very compelling. Who wants to just hang on to anything? It feels like an energy drainer and a passion killer. If that is all this faith journey is, then count me out. There has to be more. In fact, I know there is more, because I have seen glimpses of it. But even as I say that, I know there are seasons where just hanging on is all I’ve got; times where waiting for those moments, those windows where God breaks through, is the best I can do.
Over the last several years my son has been on a tough journey—a journey that has continued to assault him with one dream-crushing disappointment after another. After his junior year in high school he was being recruited by several division one basketball programs. Two of those programs were part of this year’s NCAA tournament. But after his junior year, a rash of injuries hit him and started a multi-year frustrating journey for all of us. What has followed the last four years has been three surgeries, multiple doctors visits literally all over the country, countless hours in physical therapy, and one set back after another. Now I could write a book about this journey. Just a month ago we met with a specialist in Florida, and had great hope of improvement. Then, while I was on a trip meeting guys from the RHYTHMinTWENTY and Rogue groups I work with, I got news he was in the emergency room with pain.
Now perspective is critical. This is not life threatening, and there is so much to be thankful. He has become a young man who is much deeper, and is a steady anchor for many others who are in rough waters. As a result of what he has been through, he has a weightiness to his life that is just different. But it has been four years, and it does not change the disappointment and or explain the seemingly relentless quiet that comes in response to the prayers and the questions.
As a as a dad who has turned over every stone to help him get better and to chase his dream, my choice now seems to be to hang on, or to say, ”Forget this. I am done with trying to understand where God is at in the midst of the challenge, struggle, and disappointment that life throws at us.”
Facing the cliff, and at times just hanging on, has caused some random thoughts over the years. —lessons from the edge, so to speak— on this specific issue:
- I have a son who is stronger, resilient, and steady, and more ready for whatever life throws at him, as a result of his time of hanging on.
- Through the last several years, there has been a cumulative effect of other struggles that have made this one even more difficult. But through it, I personally have pursued God, sometimes in anger, but always far more , when I’m hanging on, then when I am on the downhill or coasting. And
- Finding a place to get brutally honest with God, and with trusted others, has been absolutely key. For me, as I have watched him, and others go through things like this, time with my journal, an occasional micro-brew with good friends, and staying connected to things and places I am most passionate about has been a difference maker.
- Keeping my eyes, ears, and emotions tuned in, listening, watching and remaining open to experience those badly needed “God moments” has been critical as well.
And, no doubt about it, those moments have happened. More on that later. For now I am hanging on…