Everyone loves to sing ‘Oceans’ but no one likes being neck deep in the water. Everyone loves to sing ‘Miracles.’ But no one wants to be the one that needs a miracle. 
I laughed with everyone else. Internally, I couldn’t shake the image of the man running on the dry road. After five weeks spent on a word a week at church (words that will change the game for you) we dove back in this morning to a series on the book of Exodus at church. I have followed this series with more and more interest since we first discovered this church back in April. I noted occasional sermons. They were excellent and relatable.
The first one I was there for in person hit me right between the eyes.
Today, right in the heart. No one likes to sit under preaching about grumbling. So when Toby circled the word in scripture in his handy dandy electronic highlighter I know that inside I was thinking, “Well good, all these grumbly messes in this room will finally stop grumbling.” In the quiet, honest place, though, I was afraid. I was afraid that if this preaching went a certain way it was going to reflect exactly me as the person of grumbling talk.
The word that finally came into view and that echoed louder each time it was spoken was “enough.”
A year ago, I was at the very first practice for the youth band. It was going to be the first year we would work to finally split the whole youth program into two separate events on our youth nights. It was exciting. It was also going to be really hard work. We had about two dozen students show up to be part of the youth band. And they were all crazy good.
We played through music and we were really starting to get somewhere and then my phone rings. It’s my wife. I thought to myself she must not remember what I’m doing tonight. It rings again after going to voicemail, the international signal to all men everywhere that it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, answer the darn phone.
I answer, and Desiree tells me she needs me to come home. I try to explain to her what I’m in the middle of, and she tells me she’s at the emergency room with our son, Leo. That he is very sick. I tell her I’ll be done in an hour, home in an hour and a half, with her in two hours.
She tells me, it does not matter what I’m doing, I am leaving and getting there now. Leo’s white blood cell count is dangerously low.
I’m with her in the ER twenty nine minutes later. And there’s my son, looking so small and fragile in a heartless emergency room bed. They order an ambulance and I follow it far too closely and rapidly to the children’s hospital that will, over the next year, become a place my gps recognizes as “home.”
There in the hospital, the doctors could not figure out what was wrong, but they were pretty sure it was cancer. But there was a problem. In order to definitively tell, they needed to examine actual white blood cells. He did not have enough to get a proper look. So they needed to get blood straight from his bone marrow. To do that, they needed to get a special IV line called a pic line. But to do that, they needed him stable enough to undergo the procedure. And he was not stable.
Alone with him in the room, while he slept, I walked into the bathroom and called my sister. While we talked, I admitted for the first time, “I’m so scared.”
With all of my paternal bravado, there wasn’t a thing I could do to protect him, to provide wellness for him, to make him even slightly comfortable. There was care he needed, but he had begun to take a really long and slow spin around the drain.
Thirty hours later, he had a pic line and underwent the aspiration required to look at his white blood cells.
Twenty four hours after that, it was certain it wasn’t cancer.
A week later we came back to the hospital because he wasn’t getting better.
A week and a half later, they had figured out the problem, healed and treated it, and sent him home to recover and live a normal life.
Five months later, he did have cancer.
Today, I rocked him in church because he was not ready to spend time in kids church. The steroids he’s on make him hungry for everything that isn’t in front of him. And he’s scared sometimes too.
And this preacher has the audacity to tell me that God is happy to have me in this place, with no job, with my best friends across an ocean, with my son rarely having a solidly happy day, so that he can TEST me?
So I can trust Him…
And I just wanted to scream, “Can I be done with all of this doggone testing? I’m tired! I’m tired at the level of the soul! I’m not every going to quit, but I am heartily convinced that I do not have:
Then the sword of Truth pierces my heart.
Toby tells us that they are about to pass the offering plate, but because there are so many people in the congregation who do not give because they can’t. Not only that, they’re scared that they aren’t going to make rent or a bill. So he says, if you’re going to give, then give. But if your are in need, then take what you need out. It won’t solve everything, but at the end of the day, it will be
And I wept very silently to myself. I thought of everything we have and everything we need. I thought of where we are and realized that we need for nothing. Even though we are on the ragged edge of life and nowhere near what we want to feel like tomorrow is taken care of, we have
Nothing has ever convinced me of God’s provision more that the offering plate passing in front of me with a two way traffic sign hung on it and I have had no need of it. While I held Leo, with tears streaming into his hair from my face, I felt God recalling a year of hell to me. And showing me where in the room He was the whole time. He was in that ride from the chapel to the hospital. He waited for me to run in shock into the sight of my son on an IV in that enormous bed. He guided my hands as I flew down the freeway, and He rocked me to sleep when the code blue was called for the person in the room next door to us.
He was in that room as I feared from my own inadequacy, and He dwelt in the heart of my sister as she heard me afraid and flew through the air in her words as words of life to encourage and sustain me.
He was in each of my people as they took charge of the programs I did not have to run. He was in the generosity of the people who cared for us as I lost my job, and in the darkest moments when He taught us a different way to fight. He was in the hospital when the chemo started. He was waiting for us in Texas when we arrived.
In every moment.
In every heartache.
In every victory.
In every need filled,
See… my grumbling, when the light shines on it, is not that I don’t have enough. It betrays the idea that in my fear I recognize that though we have what we need, that I, as the human provider for my family am the lack. I am not enough.
I was somehow convinced that when we got here, that I would not desperately need Him like I did in Hawaii. I realized I had somehow made a deal in my heart with God that I would somehow need His provision less once we got here and I was able to stand up on my feet again.
But a simple message about manna reminds me that God provides what we need, day by day, not in excess, and not indiscriminately. He provides just
Of our needed resource…
of His reassurance…
of His correction…
even of ourselves.
I walked out of that place without a single dollar more than I walked in with. I drove down the road without being off of the path of the wilderness I realized I was right in the middle of. I arrived home with the realization, I did need something from God as that offering plate passed through my hands.
I needed completion.
And He, as He dwells in me, fills in the inadequacy and makes me into the father and husband I need to be.
And that’s enough.
1. Toby Slough, “July 29, 2018,” Forty: Someone to Know. Sermon. Cross Timbers Church.