What Faith Is

He just has so much faith.

Well, I’m not sure what that means. Faith isn’t something you measure in quantities. It’s something you either have or don’t have. It’s more like a light switch that’s either on or off rather than a fader that increases or decreases intensity.

This is important because some who think that faith is something you measure could be very much deceived. Some people think faith is simply confidence. The problem is this doesn’t necessarily imply faith. As a result, the resting place of the faith of these is how well they “believe.” Their confidence is really in themselves, not Christ.

Here’s an example.

blondin-wheelbarrowImagine a stunt man who walks across a tight rope over the Niagra Falls. He’s very skilled. He can even push a wheelbarrow across in front of him.

One day he takes his friend to the falls and demonstrates for him how he can push the wheelbarrow across the falls on the rope without falling or dropping the wheelbarrow. The stunt man even puts 180lbs of bricks in the wheelbarrow (the exact weight of his friend) and pushes that across several times without even a hint of slipping.

Then the stunt man asks his friend, “Do you have faith that I could push you across Niagra?”

“Well of course,” said the friend. I’ve seen you do it several times.

“Then get in,” replied the stunt man.

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There are many people who say they believe in Jesus or have faith in Jesus but aren’t actually letting Jesus carry them to the Father. They know all there is to know¬†about Jesus. They know the size of the wheelbarrow, how far the rope stretches, the tension of the rope, even who built the wheelbarrow and why this kind of wheelbarrow is better than other kinds, but they’ve never gotten in.

Demons have this kind of faith. It’s a dead faith, a fake faith, an impostor.

Once inside the wheelbarrow, it doesn’t matter how scared you are or how calm you are. What matters is whether or not you’re in the wheelbarrow. After all, it’s Jesus that carries you across, not how well you believe or how much faith you have.

It’s like Tim Keller said,

It’s not the quality of your faith that saves you, it’s the object of your faith.

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6 Lessons Learned From the Worst Pain in My Life

lessons-learnedIf you’d like to read a timeline of the battle I had with the infection, you can read that here.

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I texted Dad and told him this mouth infection was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I still believe that. It has been crazy, but the Lord has been with us.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned through all of this, in no particular order.

1. My wife is the greatest person in the world.

Seriously. She has cleaned my vomit, kept my giant pill schedule, fed me, prayed for me, cried with me, carried me around to 100 appointments, and was strong when I was weak in more ways than one. She has not complained one time nor made fun of my inability to do even the simplest things like raise up to drink some gatorade. I love this woman, and can’t believe how blessed I am that God gave her to me as my wife.

2. It takes a village.

Without Mom and Dad, Tom McCullough, Chris AndJoanna Walker, and countless of you who prayed, gave food, or covered for us in several ways, we would not have been able to make it through this like we did. Thank you.

Tom took me to the ER. He basically carried me to the car. Just before I got in the passenger side I vomited again, and Tom literally held me up so I wouldn’t fall to the ground. I’ll never forget that.

3. Don’t underestimate how powerful a smile can be.

(That’s not intended to be a bad dentist joke!) On several occasions I was in intense pain and was on the verge of losing it emotionally when a stranger noticed what I was going through and smiled. Once in the dentist office after the second failed root canal a lady in the waiting room tried to make me laugh as I stood there shifting my weight trying my best to hold everything in as my face throbbed. She wasn’t very funny, but it helped, and I was thankful. Another time I was walking to get the CT scan at the hospital and as I turned a corner an elderly lady with a walker saw me. My face was giant, swollen, and nasty, but she could tell I was in a lot of pain, so she smiled. I’ll never forget those strangers.

4. Sometimes the Lord’s presence is most real in the middle of the worst pain.

During the first root canal, I was nervous as teeth and I don’t get along (obviously!) and was exhausted from being in so much pain all night. I was praying and praising the Lord for being so good to me as the drill was going into my tooth. That was one of the top 5 or so times the Lord has been so tangibly present with me. I mean guys, He was there.

5. When you don’t know what to say to the Lord, just use His Word.

This happened several times throughout this experience. If the pain is intense enough, you won’t know what to say. His Word is enough. Just rest on that and He’ll take care of what needs to happen.

6. I will think twice before I talk about suffering in a flippant way again.

When I would talk about being willing to suffer for Christ, I had nothing to base it on. I have never suffered anything remotely significant before. It’s easy to say that if you were faced with a situation where you had to choose no suffering or Christ that you’d choose Him. After going through this, I honestly don’t know what I would do in other cases that involved more suffering. I don’t have much confidence in myself. All I know is that the Lord was with me and that He gave me amazing people to help bear the burden. For me, that was enough, and I am grateful. The Lord promised He would be with me, so if that will be true in the future, then I will lean on Him to come through if He calls me to suffer for Him again.

A Timeline

Friends, thank you so much for praying. This battle is winding down, and by God’s grace, the infection is losing. Here’s a brief rundown.

Dec 10: Began to have a toothache on number 31. From here on I began to sleep about 4 hours/night.

Dec 12: Appointment with the dentist, who strongly urged me to have an emergency root canal on 31 because of a large abscess tooth (infection underneath the tooth). I took 4 amoxicillin before the procedure and began taking it after then, along with hydrocodone and 800 mgs of motrin. I had mild swelling at this point.

Dec 16: We called the dentist that morning as the pain and swelling increased a great deal. They noticed #30 also had an abscess. They gave me 20+ shots to attempt to get my mouth numb, but they were unsuccessful. When you have a substantial infection, it blocks the numbness. After trying to attempt the root canal without my mouth being numb, I decided the pain of drilling my tooth was too much to handle.

They referred us to an oral surgeon who took us in that day. He took a thorough x-ray which revealed a large infection under 30-31, which had spread to other parts of the right side of my face. He put me under, pulled 30-31, and put a drain from my face feeding into my mouth, which would hopefully drain the infection (it doesn’t just go away, it has to escape somehow).

[To get rid of this kind of infection, three things need to happen: (1) get rid of the source of the infection–aka my two teeth, (2) create an escape route for the infection to drain out, and (3) find the right antibiotic to fight it. The Dr. said in the colonial days, I would have died from this. I wasn’t so sure it wasn’t still the Colonial days.]

The oral surgeon put me on a much stronger anti-biotic, stronger pain meds, and sent me home.

Dec 18: We called the oral surgeon as my swelling had increased and I had not experienced any drainage of the infection, which is necessary to get rid of it. He had us come in that day. He noticed a lump near my chin which was softer (swelling in the face isn’t soft but hard) and red. This was the area where the puss from the infection was settling. It was there that he needed to make an incision to allow the drainage to release.

We went to get a CT scan this day to rule out some really, really serious stuff.

Dr. Gaul stayed late that night to put me under and perform the surgery. He also flushed my face to get as much drainage out as possible. He then stitched a small plastic cylinder in that location to keep my chin open. This would allow drainage throughout the next few days. He also put me on another even stronger antibiotic.

Dec 19: One of the antibiotics had a side effect that made me lose my appetite and caused vomiting. Because I didn’t have much on my stomach and I had ibuprofen and two strong antibiotics on my stomach, I began vomiting that evening. We decided I needed to go to the ER to regain fluids. I spent a few hours there that night. This was the low point of the journey.

Dec 20: All liquid diet and a lot of sleep, including another scrip that calmed my stomach were the theme of this day. The Dr. removed the plastic cylinder from my face as the drainage slowed and swelling began to decrease. I turned a corner this day. Mom and Dad arrived that night to help Lynsey take care of me and the baby.

Dec 21: Same as previous day. More meds, more sleep, more liquid diet. I took a bath this day. Swelling decreased even more. I held Caroline for the first time in a week on this day.

Dec 22: Same as previous day, began small amount of solid foods. Took a shower this day.

Dec 23: The oral surgeon gave us the OK to travel to Arkansas. Ate more solid foods. He also gave us another antibiotic to start after the other two are finished to give a final blow to the infection.

I continue to improve my strength. It’s silly how weak I am. This has been the grand pappy of infections.

Today we asked the oral surgeon about the sample of drainage he took during the surgery a few days prior. He said we shouldn’t worry about that. They would have only needed that if I ended up in ICU. (So glad he didn’t tell us that at the time!)