from Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life)
Check out today’s sampling from Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life) that I have titled “Rising to the Top”
I’m often asked about #SMTTT, a hashtag associated with my alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi. The letters stand for “Southern Miss to the top.” But to the top of what? And in what?
- College football ranking? Uh, no.
- School spirit? Lots of work left to do.
- Polymer research? Now, we’re getting somewhere, though I’m sure precious few of the #SMTTT hashtags are in relation to the development of plastics.
“To the top” is a high-sounding motivational phrase before budgets, competition, and priority struggles are taken into account. Today’s sample from Stories from the Roller Coaster is an account of a time when the right priorities fell into place in my life at a time when I wasn’t doing so well in ordering them myself. Loretta and I had endured the pain of a miscarriage five months earlier; an eerie phone call revealed another trip down that road.[callout]
Now…to the top.
“Rising to the Top”: An Excerpt from Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life)
I was giving my first period exam when Mrs. Ward came to my door to tell me that my wife was on the phone and needed to talk to me. An eerie feeling swept immediately over me. Just a semester earlier, this was the exam I had been giving when she had called about fears of losing our first child. I moved quickly toward the phone in the school office, where my fears were confirmed. She was bleeding and needed me to take her to the doctor.
Mrs. Ward again spoke words of peace and encouragement over me as she took my place in giving my exams. As I made the twenty-minute drive home, I pleaded with the Lord to give me whatever it would take to lead my wife through this again. I had felt so helpless before, and He had given us both what we needed to make it through. To have if happen again so quickly might be more than Loretta could take. I expected her to already be coming apart at the seams.
When I arrived home, I found Loretta scared but in control. While I had been rushing home, she had been praying. The Lord had given her a peace that she would be okay. We moved quickly to get her to the doctor to see if the same would be true for our baby. With everything playing out so hauntingly similar to the same experience just five months earlier, we prepared for the worst.
As we waited for the ultrasound technician, I considered how differently the grieving period might be this time. With all the Lord had done in our church, with all the families we now knew who had gone through miscarriage, with our own experience—it would be better this time, I hoped and prayed. Loretta and I kept a brave front for one another, but inside we both expected the worst. We did not at all expect the technologist’s words, spoken in a singsong manner: “I see a healthy little heartbeat.”
There are times when the priorities in life that should rise to the top actually do rise unmistakably to the top. This was one of those days. My wife was okay. Our baby was alive and healthy and still progressing toward a late-October birthday. Decisions about my professional future and our financial commitment to our church could wait. This was a good day.
The Lord called on Loretta and me to trust Him in many ways that didn’t make much sense outside of His leading in the early years of our marriage. When we wouldn’t see what was around the corner, He reassured us that He was, indeed, in control. Our faith grew exponentially as our spiritual eyes adjusted to the darkness that always accompanies a life of faith.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
“Rising to the Top”: Postscripts
Priorities were a major struggle for me as a young husband and father. They still are in some ways. Follow my struggles to turn my heart toward home in Stories from the Roller Coaster.