Put your money where your mouth is

"A friend once confessed: Anger can be addictive. It masquerades as power. And as I've experienced, every time we think anger will get us what we want, we’re supporting Satan’s philosophy. We're believing in the power of the roar, not the compassion of the Cross. Frustration immigrates us to Satan's domain, when we're called to claim our rightfuly citizenship in Christ's Kingdom, aligning with Jesus’ revolutionary way: the way of love." Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience

My brother used this phrase often: "put your money where your mouth is". He is the second child, the justice-oriented one, first the minder of all details of fairness in our family jurisdiction, now a police officer in our old hometown. He meant it, too: ever sensitive to hypocrisy, he demanded a higher level of faith from all of us. The actual practice, "walking our talk". Childhood with him to keep me in check was a good trial run for adulthood as a person of faith. Is there ever a harsher critic than the child born next in line after us?

Cancer is where the rubber meets the road. (I am full of proverbs today.) Here, in this place of vulnerability, will I curse or praise that God who allowed this trial? If I confess that He is God of all, Ruler and Creator, than I consequently confess that He has the power to allow or bar this trial from my life. Logic states that He allowed it. What is my response? Anger, a last feeble grasp at an illusion of power over my own circumstance, the sands in my proverbial hourglass? Acceptance, a feeble shrug of my shoulders at the inexorable suffering that plagues the universe? Or a balanced give-and-take, the constant yearning to understand deeper, to grasp the why and how of God's reasoning and His love? I choose that tug-of-war, that soul-broadening reflection that brings me to my knees in worship one moment, and shaking my fists and crying out in frustration for understanding the next.

As always, this dichotomy of soul plagues me even in the most mundane circumstances. Throwing that familiar 12-pound bowling ball this evening was no exception. One moment, I praised God for victory. In the next, I felt my mouth growing dry as my anger rose like venom from my throat: what is the "why" in all this, God? Why I am here, using precious time with these people, on this trivial, even frustrating, entertainment? For what purpose, God, would you allow me to squirm under this personal tragedy as I swallow the bitter tang of fear to exist in this jostling crowd in apparent ignorance-is-bliss? Why force me through the motions if I am to die in the end? Why allow the turn of the screw as I writhe under the weight of the curse of creation?

The answer is: know Me. In all circumstances, in all surroundings, know I am with you. In your pain and your sorrow, walk in My footsteps. Believe in Me, do you? Well, show the world what your God is made of: put your money where your mouth is, then! Walk the talk. Shine in dire circumstances. Show the world that I can conquer physical ailments (hypothyroidism & cancer), character traits (anger), circumstances (4 children under 5), the failing economy (while living on one income), and all of this world's myriad obstacles. What is cancer to He who made the immaculate conceive, the infertile bring forth the apostle, the seas parted, the land submerged, and His victory reign over all?

What is my faith, if it is not my daily walk? Today I meditate on that truth, that faith is as faith does. That my faith in the Cross is what propels me to praise, and to love, and to bring glory, even in this time of torture, trial and tragedy.

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.
~ Isaac Waats, 1674-1748, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross