Parables are among God’s most illuminating gifts to us.
Jesus used them with unfailing skill to help His apostles understand the importance of their efforts in His name as well as reveal to us all His calling for us as faithful disciples.
I am a firm believer that a number of the events described throughout the Bible – especially in the Old Testament – are not literal instances in world history but parables God has handed-down to us through His prophets.
Several of these parables involve intense storms.
Take it from one who knows: storms are easier to ride-out when you’re not alone while doing so.
Two years ago, my wife, Marcy, was diagnosed with leukemia.
For much of 2012, it seemed as if this particular storm finally was passing-through in our life. The winds were easing. The seas were calming. She was in remission. And, it appeared we could raise our sails again for the journey of life.
This year, however, this tempest has gathered new strength. Marcy relapsed and the diagnosis showed us her leukemia is a particularly aggressive form of the disease. This development led the crew at the James Cancer Hospital to conclude a bone marrow transplant is necessary for her to survive it. Unfortunately, the process for leukemia patients in receiving a transplant potentially can be just as fatal as the cancer itself.
For months before she finally was diagnosed with leukemia, Marcy’s health was in steady decline and the fight to find-out why was taxing in and of itself. It was during that trying stretch of time when I began to re-examine my faith in God and eventually rediscover it.
Praise be to God: my faith is stronger now than at any other time in my life.
One question that has circulated in my mind at times is a most important one: how long will this focus on faith last? This led me to a deeper, more personal examination of God’s use of parables.
Sometimes He brings periods into our lives which are meant to serve as our own individual parables from which He expects us to learn.
Such a parabolic instance in my life stems from a relationship I was in two years before I met Marcy. That person and I were together just under a year before she and I broke-up. However, regular interaction with her afterward was unavoidable due to mutual friendships we both had. It also didn’t help that I continued to struggle with the breakup well after it happened.
After a few months, she found herself in a harsh fight in the courts with her ex-husband over custody and visitation of their children. He was an individual who was skillful in using fear and intimidation to maintain control in their relationship and marriage and the prospect of facing him in that manner was a frightening one for her.
Eventually, she turned to me to stand with her – to help see her through this personal storm of hers.
I accepted. I stepped-in to help keep her ship navigating through the turbulent waters.
The tide began to turn in her favor in that visitation battle, before long, and her storm was steadily easing. Soon after, however, she renewed her standoffish attitude toward me that she exhibited when the relationship had ended.
When her own rough waters began to ease, she chose to toss me overboard.
One could read this far, stop, and wonder: why would I dredge-up the past like this. That is not my intent here.
A key component over the last few years in restoring my relationship with God has entailed significant reflection on my life and look for the ways He has steered me toward my current path with Him.
When I remembered this particular development, the parallel to my struggles today jumped-out in a powerful epiphany.
I recalled how, during that time several years ago, I felt a hurt with which I was unfamiliar. I felt used: not financially or in any other material manner – just emotionally.
If and when Marcy makes it through this latest trial, will I de-emphasize my relationship with God? If the transplant is successful, Marcy is cured of leukemia, and she survives the entire ordeal, wouldn’t it be easy to set faith aside and move forward without Him?
When that happened in my life, I felt used and misled. And, it hurt.
How should I expect God to feel toward me if I do the same to Him?
After all, if I believe it was wrong when that happened to me, how would that not be wrong if I do that to God?
That was the importance of the parable He inserted into my life before I met and fell in love with Marcy. There was going to be a time – such as now – when I would need Him like never before. Just as important as bringing God back into my life is keeping him there at the center of it.
These realizations made finding forgiveness for a perceived past transgression easy – better late than never. More importantly, they also reinforced for me the truth that God does not simply come and go in our lives. He always is there – even when we don’t seek Him.
Still, once we have sought – and found – God, any trial can be endured so long as we stay in and hold onto His light.
Life is better when we trust Him with the helm. Be sure not to throw overboard the One Who has been sailing with you all the while.