Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Warning: The much-needed and much-pondered over blog I intended to write on November 27th to mark the 4 year anniversary of Troy’s Homegoing will not be what this one today is about. That one will be popping up later.
Today, (actually this whole week) the Lord has revealed Himself to me in such powerful ways I just felt compelled (I love that word!) to jot down my thoughts so the magnitude of it wouldn’t fade in my aging memory.
As I type this I am sitting alone in a hotel room in Orlando. Actually far from alone, I have Jesus as my constant companion! Anyway, God has opened the door for me to begin speaking on a regular basis for the Folds of Honor, a non-profit organization that was founded four years ago by an F-16 reserve pilot and professional golfer, Major Dan Rooney. His story is amazing. He has done several tours in Iraq. One day he was actually on a commercial flight and the captain came on the intercom and asked that the passengers remain seated upon their arrival destination so that a fallen soldier, whose body was being transported in a casket under their aircraft, could be taken off the plane and his family could receive it in privacy. Dan watched out his small plane window. God gave him a perfect view of this family’s war homecoming. A young son seeing his father’s casket. So much pain. Dan cried. Then Dan noticed many of the passengers on the plane were getting antsy to go and they began to get up and exit the plane anyway, despite the pilot’s request and the somber scene taking place just feet away. Then and there Dan decided our fallen heroes and their families were certainly not being honored as they should. Long story short, Dan with his military background, PGA connections, charismatic personality and the big green light from God has now, in just 4 years, raised 8.5 million dollars to provide college scholarships for children and spouses of wounded and fallen soldiers.
I was introduced to Dan through mutual F-16 friends. I guess you could say the rest is history. My children were the first to receive scholarships and today I sit on the staff of his organization, the Folds of Honor (meaning the 13 folds that occur in the folded flag), and have been sharing Troy’s story and my journey already to thousands of folks.
That is what brought me to Orlando and has now brought me to my knees. Actually my amazing friend, Faye Green, has brought me to my knees. I think I have mentioned her in previous posts but in short she is the 107 pound, older (Ok not older just my mom’s age J) African American (though Faye says it’s okay to say black J) mighty woman of God. She and her precious husband, Lin, became friends of mine and Troy’s years ago when we first met at our church in Phoenix. Ever since they have been my surrogate parents. Always loving. Always there for me. Always lifting my head. Always making me laugh. Always making me thankful for things no matter what the circumstance. Always an inspiration. Always pointing me to God. However, through it all, Auntie Faye has ALWAYS been very sick. Among other things Faye has suffered from Sickle Cell, Cancer, Lupus, MS and a host of other unthinkable diseases that alone would be enough for you and I to lie in the bed and never get up again.
I have watched Faye be so weak she can barely speak. I have watched her be so strong she has cleaned my house, done my laundry, helped me raise the kids and generally just held me up when I couldn’t stand on my own. Lin is the same version of Faye, just a little less feisty. He became like a father to me while we were in Phoenix. Always checking on me, doing household repairs, insisting on installing fly catchers on my patio (he hates flies) and in that gentle voice always calling me his daughter. In fact when I married Jim (the first time in our impromptu last minute wedding in Phoenix May of ’08) Uncle Lin gave me away at our wedding. Faye was so sick at that the time they were unable to even stay for the reception. But she was there, cheering me on and thanking the Lord for answering her prayers and giving me Jim.
I just found out last night, Faye went back into the hospital. She has been scaring us lately. In and out of the hospital constantly for the last couple of months. She is just so sick. She can’t keep anything down. She is weak. But Faye’s God, He is strong!
Earlier yesterday, I received a text from Faye that simply said “Just want you to know that I am praying for you this week! God will use you in a mighty way! I love you!” Never once mentioning she was even in the hospital for uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea as the lupus is deteriorating her muscles. I found that out last night from Jim.
I was on my knees this morning praying for her. She needs healing from all this suffering. I then opened my Bible for the first time during this busy week. This has probably happened to you but if it hasn’t, it blows your socks off. I literally opened my Bible to this page and to this Scripture. God clearly wanted me to know it, rest in it and share it.
Then Job replied to the Lord, “I know that You can do all things, no plan of Yours can be thwarted. You (God) asked ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I (Job) spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” You (God) said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you (Job) and you shall answer Me.’ My (Job) ears had heard of You (God) but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job had been angry with God for all the pain and suffering God had allowed in his life. Especially to a righteous man like himself. He was mad that God had been so silent and Job had spent some time just “letting God have it” earlier in the chapter. God listened and waited. And listened and waited. Then finally He spoke. He basically reminded Job that He was the Creator and Ruler of the Universe and that He still loved Job and needed Job to trust Him, no matter his circumstances. This scripture was Job’s humble response. Basically saying to God that he knew he had harbored bitterness and was speaking without seeing the full picture of all God was doing. I will quote from this awesome version of my Bible’s commentary (the Quest)
“Earlier, Job was convinced that God was angry with him and the he had become God’s enemy. He cursed the day of his birth because of the suffering he was experiencing. He was angry at God’s silence and demanded that his arguments be heard. He wanted to do what God had failed to do- provide his vindication. But after God had finished speaking, Job acknowledged he had been talking over his head- beyond his understanding. Even though Job never received a reason for his suffering. It was sufficient for him to know that t=a reason exited. If he had to do it over, Job probably would have tried to trust God a little more and complain a whole lot less. Part of Job’s problem had been with what he did not know. Now that he had encountered the sovereign God, Job regretted the presumptuous statements he had make about God. Job had come to realize that God was sovereign over the moral order of the world, and that nothing could happen apart from his permission. Perhaps the most comforting revelation of all for Job was that God was still his friend. Though He seemed silent or even absent, God was no mere spectator of Job’s suffering. He was with him through the experience.”
I love verse 5 that says, “My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You.”
I hate bumper stickers but that might be the one I would put on my SUV.
For the last week I have been sharing my story, scratch that, GOD’S STORY, here at the national PGA show in Orlando. The Folds of Honor raises its scholarship money essentially through golf tournaments, etc… Yesterday I watched as the CEO of the PGA, Joe Steranka, who is probably the most powerfully influential man in all of professional sports, wept as I shared about who Troy was, what happened to him and what God has brought me through. The pain and the challenges but the victories too…. He kissed me on the cheek and said “thank you”.
I am literally worlds away from my usual role as peanut butter and jelly maker and carpooler. Here I am a soccer mom and military widow with a powerful message telling the most well-known executives in the golfing business that Christ is faithful even in the darkest of valleys. Meanwhile Jim is home making chicken fried steak (Troy’s favorite) for our kids AND their friends, taking them to school, tending to their needs and LOVING every minute of it. (Really! I just talked to him!) Now who couldn’t believe that only God Himself could do something that crazy!?
I texted Auntie Faye back and told her I was praying for her and that God is mighty to save. He saved me. He will save her. We ask for the kind of saving we want and we understand – healing on this earth (right now, please God!), no more suffering, long joyful life with Lin, etc… Yet we know the Lord saves in all kinds of other ways.
People that never NEVER would have heard the name of Major Troy Gilbert while he was living now hear about him and his God and their lives are changed for the better.
Did I want it to happen this way? Never in a million years. Do I want to be in the center of God’s will? Do I want to trust Him for today and for tomorrow? Yes. I do. That doesn’t mean I am not, at times, scared of the future. Frightened by what He might ask me to endure. But again, this one sentence ALL MORNING is absolutely resounding in my head:
HE IS MIGHTY TO SAVE!
Posted by Jim Ravella