Journal Entry – February 1, 1999

I have said a million times that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship and now more than ever I am learning firsthand that that is the truth. As I continue to struggle through the loss of my Dad, I am seeing this truth completely fleshed out. My personal relationship with Jesus above all else is carrying me through this difficult time. I am finding strength not so much through my quiet time or any other activity but simply by leaning on Jesus. I am not belittlling bible study, it helps, but when I sit back and let Jesus minister to me and over and over remind that He is still in control, it is then that I feel the most secure and find strength to go on. So many times before, when I was struggling with something, I would go to Jesus but I would wind up doing all the talking. But this time I just do not know what to say and I am learning to shut up and “be still and know that He is God.” (Ps. 46:10) And as am still and quiet before Him I am experiencing the hope and peace that Christ can bring to us in the toughest parts of life. I guess I am experiencing what it really is to have a relationship with Jesus. So many times before I have focused on the ritual of quiet time, prayer, or church or whatever to “maintain” my relationship with Jesus but what I was overlooking was what Christianity is really all about. — A personal relationship with Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, a quiet time is important but don’t look at it as something you HAVE to do. If we do, then it becomes a ritual and we miss out on the relationship. A quiet time is simply an activity that God has given us to draw us closer to Him. Period! So no matter what is going on, whether you are dying inside or having the best day of your life, let Jesus be a part of it. Spend time with Him not because you are supposed to but simply because you love Him, need Him and want to be with Him. And then you will find, as I am finding, that Christianity is not a religion but truly is a relationship with a God who loves us and cares for us beyond what we could ever imagine!!

God Bless ya,

Journal Entry – December 5, 1998

This has been a tough fall for me. My Dad’s cancer progressed horribly and on Saturday, November 21, 1998 he left this life and went on to be with Jesus. It was so difficult to watch someone that I loved so much suffer like that and it was almost a relief when he finally died. He has been gone for a week now and reality is beginning to set in. He’s really gone and he’s not coming back. I miss him so bad! 

In the beginning of this I was bitter and angry but over time I realized that I could stay that way and go absolutely crazy or let go and hang on to Jesus. When I finally did that, I began to grow spiritually in an incredible way. I began to experience Jesus in a way that I never had before. So many times I had griped to God that this was so UNFAIR. Then the Lord showed me John 16:33 where Jesus says, “In this world you will have hard times but hang on to me because I have overcome the world!” It was then that I realized that God never promised us that life would be fair but he did promise to be there when life wasn’t fair. And He was there every step of the way. I cannot imagine how anyone could handle something like this without having a friend like Jesus to help them through it. Jesus has helped my family through the most horrible experience that I can ever imagine anyone going through.

Romans 8:28 used to just be a verse that I quoted for people when they were going through a tough time but now it is a reality for me. God did not give my Dad cancer but He chose to use it to bring about so many amazing things. He has carried my family through this awful situation, my sister came to Christ, and I am finding that I can now relate to students who are hurting in a way that I never could before. I have seen countless students come to know Jesus simply because I was able to share with them how much hope Jesus has brought to me in the midst of a hopeless situation. 

If I could offer any advice to anyone going through a similiar situation, I would say this, “Dont’ run from Jesus, don’t get mad at him and push Him away but place all of your trust in Him and no matter how bad things get hang on to Him with everything you’ve got!” I know that sounds simple but if you trust Him, I promise you that Jesus will minister to you in a way that you could never imagine.

Everyday since Dad was diagnosed with cancer, he and Mom sang a little chorus that clearly states the attitude every Christian needs to have no matter what their circumstances might be. I will leave you with the words to that simple chorus.

This is the day that the Lord has Made
I will rejoice and be glad in it.

God Bless ya,