I’m Screwed

Safe with Dad

I stood in the middle of the bed, hands tangled in the ceiling fan’s electrical wires. For the last few nights at about 2:00AM, that whirling piece of junk started chirping and continued till morning. It won’t surprise you how fast replacing it jumped to the top of my fix-it list. I reached for my pliers and noticed they were gone. “TARAS.”

“Hmmm?” He wandered back in the room, pinching his fingers with my missing tool.

“Would you please give me those?” My arms ached from holding the fan up. I did my best to keep the sleep deprived frustration out of my voice.

“I want to help.” His little cherub face beamed up at me from behind tousled blonde hair.

His blue eyes dissolved my irritation. Balancing the fan with one hand, I reached for him with the other. “OK, but give me those first.” 

“I’ll turn this on.” He turned and walked to the light switch.

“DON’T do that.” I swiped the air where the pliers had been a heartbeat earlier, then windmilled to keep my balance without tearing the fan from the ceiling. “you might electrocute me.”

“That’s’ OK, I’ll just call the doctor.” He grinned back at me. 

“It might kill me.”

“I’ll just call Jesus.”

Pressing the fan blades against the ceiling, I leaned on my arms and laughed until my sides ached. 

When the fan was finally installed – without any 911 calls – I called Megan in to show her. I pointed Taras to the light switch. “Why don’t you tell Mom what we did?”

Taras flipped it on and proudly pointed to a wonderfully silent fan. “I installed the fan.”

I chuckled to myself. My son is the clearest window into my relationship with God. How dependent am I on God to accomplish all the things I’m most proud of?

In early 2018 I got sick. The crushing stress of finding my wife dead in our bedroom caught up with me. I had the flu for six months. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t sleep. I barely had the energy to make it to the coffee machine, let alone do anything productive. 

I’ve never felt so hopeless. I prayed. I screamed. I wept. But God didn’t help, and I sank deeper into despair. 

I learned there is no part of my life that can’t have the rug ripped out from underneath – even the simplest everyday things. Jesus’s words from John 15 rang in my ears, “apart from me, you can do nothing.” Nothing really means nothing. Everything from running a multi-million dollar business to getting out of bed in the morning had God behind it doing the heavy lifting.

In one of my darkest moments I heard the most strange encouragement from God: You are completely screwed in every way. Every way except the only one that matters. 

I instantly knew what he meant.  I smiled, then chuckled, then laughed out loud. I’d like my life to be trouble free; that makes trouble-free equal to success. In Joshua 1, Joshua obviously felt unqualified, maybe even unable to fill Moses’s shoes and lead the nation. God’s response wasn’t that Joshua was qualified, it was for him to be strong and courageous anyway. God’s reason for Joshua to be bold was not because Joshua’s competence would ensure success, It was because God was with him, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” It’s written there so that we’ll know we have the same promise. 

Isaiah 8 speaks to my despair when I’m flailing in life, “You [God] will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” When my business is litigated out from under me, my wife is dead, and I can’t get out of bed, perfect peace sounds pretty good. Psalm 91 explains why I have that worry-free peace, “If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you… he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” Does no harm mean no trouble? I wish. But God promises something better. Jeremiah 17 talks about having hard times and still having no worries or fears: “[We’ll] be like a tree  planted by the water…It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

What troubles did for me, was humble me. I understood in real terms how helpless I really am to be successful with my own strength. I also realized the one I’m dependent upon is far more capable, has far more resources, and is more reliable than anything else I can hope for. He also controls how things will ultimately turn out – I can do everything right and have it still go wrong, or my complete failure can turn to triumph. I don’t have to worry about success or failure (or trouble) any more than my seven year old worries about how to install a ceiling fan. Success is so far beyond his ability, he can’t even comprehend that he can’t comprehend it. The reality is, it’s Dad’s job. Jesus tells us our microscopic view of our successes and failures in the workings of human history as well how we’ll define success in eternity are something we can’t even comprehend. That’s why in John 15, God tells us being attached to him is the secret to really accomplishing anything.

Being screwed in every way is an amazing place to be. Since I’m already screwed, I don’t have to worry or fear anymore. Besides, it’s a condition of my humanity, it says nothing about my circumstances. When I have no hope, I need to remember that I really just have one hope – the only one I really ever had, even when I thought I had every hope: [Dad] who is able [and willing] to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

*        *        *        *

I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from [Papa/]God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow ~St. Paul.