Gifts.

I am a Christian, and a fairly strong one at that. What I mean is, I practice my faith and try really hard to walk in my faith every day. I fail. A lot. But sometimes I am successful. And sometimes God rewards us. Today I was given a gift – a mighty gift; one of the gifts of the spirit, for which I am profoundly grateful. It scares me a little, but I am grateful to have received it.

I struggle with my faith a little bit. I think I’m afraid of being perceived as not smart; an anti-intellectual; someone who “needs a crutch”. These things couldn’t be further from the truth but I am not always eloquent at explaining why. After all, free will is a tangly sort of subject. God and free will DO hang together – after all he gave us free will – but it’s very hard to explain to non-believers how an all knowing, all powerful God fits with free will. The best I can do to explain it, something I tried with my sister recently, was to say that 1) (to borrow a concept from The Shack), just because God knows *what* I will choose, it doesn’t change the fact that I can still choose it. It’s like if you can go left or right, and God (being omnipotent) knows that I will choose to go right, it doesn’t take away the fact that at that moment in time I can choose to go either direction. 2) Following God’s will isn’t surrendering my ability to think or reason or be rational. God gave me my brain; I think he’d be cranky if I didn’t use it. I described it to my sister like this – to imagine you are sitting in our living room in our parents’ house reading a book. And then the dog we used to have comes running up and very clearly wants to go for a walk. You are comfortable reading your book; you don’t really WANT to go for a walk. But you know it would make him happy so you do it. And as soon as you are outside and you see how happy he is, it starts to become kind of worth it. And then later when you are running up the street with the dog loping along beside you, tongue out, completely overjoyed you realize that this is WAY more fun than sitting around reading your book was.

To me following God is like that. I can usually (some of the time anyway) discern His will for me, or at least know what He would think was wrong. I may not always prefer to do what he wants me to do but by the time I’m doing it there’s usually nothing I would rather be doing.

If that makes any sense at all. Perhaps not. I am still wrestling with all of it.

Nowhere does the wrestling become more apparent than with Oliver. That is a post in and of itself, and not one I’m ready to write yet. For now I will say that I do not for one second doubt God’s presence in my son’s life and death, and with us before, during, and after. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Oliver is in heaven, and that we *will* be reunited one day.

This doesn’t bring me perfect peace, or less sadness, not really. I’m still devastated. I still miss him like crazy. But it does bring me some peace – that peace which passes all understanding. It’s there, and it’s real.

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