First Baptist Church is a place where individuals respond to the word of scripture and seek their own interpretation. Where Separation of Church and State and religious liberty are taken very seriously. Where we hold our Baptist beliefs with deep conviction but we hold them in modesty.
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.
Happy are those who make the Lord their trust,
who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you.
Were I to proclaim and tell of them,
they would be more than can be counted.
While it happened 15 years ago, June 5th might as well have been yesterday. What occurred that day will never be lost on me, because that day marked the beginning of the end of my simple, blind faith that saw God as a mere genie who honored my every request. Kind of like a holy Santa who nodded to my every prayer with a grandfatherly wink or a savior who would always save the day. The God of "if you do A. I will do B."
After all, God came to the earth to be poor, beaten, and ridiculed to make sure I was happy, right?
That day started like any other day. I was working as a counselor at a camp the summer after graduating from high school. This was always the highlight of my summers…
…and then I came to know a 16-year old named Brandon.
With our cabins resting on the water, my campers and I prepared to enjoy a "free swim" lazy afternoon when I noticed Brandon and his friends swimming across the lake toward us. Despite my tough-girl-“don't-you-dare-do-that!"-act they continued making their way. While there were three boys horsing around that day, my eyes stayed with Brandon, a complete stranger. They began pretending like they were drowning, hoping to entice us to jump in, going under for a bit, coming back up for air, and then laughing.
But then Brandon went under and never came back up and finally I realized the joke was over.
So, I leapt out into the water and franticly looked all over for him…all under for him…. all around for him…but nothing.
During my failed search, the Camp Director arrived in his boat, jumped into the water, and was able to locate Brandon. Together, we dragged him up into the cabin surrounded by onlooking campers. I grabbed the boy’s leg, surely leaving an imprint, as I prayed harder than I had ever prayed in my life while they gave him CPR.
The entirety of my faith up to that point convinced me that all would be well. I was taught that if I just laid hands on him and asked for this miracle, it would take place. This is the God of Resurrection we're talking about here. I had zero doubts.
Even though Brandon had been under water for an unbelievably long time, I knew. I trusted. I believed. I had faith. I prayed, knowing with an unbending confidence, begging God and yelling "SAVE HIM. SAVE HIM. SAVE HIM.”
In that moment, amidst my picture-perfect unshakeable faith, the nurses who had arrived on the scene stopped doing CPR.
But even then, my faith would not be tested. Minutes went by. No more mouth-to-mouth. No more chest compressions. I persevered with prayer. More minutes passed and I had to physically be removed from the cabin. I watched in unspeakable disbelief, as the paramedics went into the cabin and emerged with a body bag.
It was then, that my faith in the God of my understanding passed away with Brandon.
The year that followed was filled with guilt and self-hatred. Why didn't I jump out earlier? It was all my fault. That year I waited and waited on God to move in my broken, hopeless life. I needed God but I sure as hell didn't want the old god of my understanding.
Then, on a mountain top in Missouri almost to the day on the anniversary of Brandon's death, I heard an audible holy whisper that saved my life and faith.
"It's not your fault."
That's the day I met God anew and opened myself up to whatever and whoever that meant.
As you read the words of Psalm 40:1-5, what do you do when you wait and wait and nothing goes as (you) planned? Why is waiting for God so incredibly hard? Is there a moment in your own life, when you began seeing God in a new way?