Coming to Providence part 3

Family Tribulation: A matter of life and death

Matthew 10:37
He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me

After a year of constant persecution my mother became ill. My father at the time was also experiencing debilitating pain and for one month he could not go to work. One morning I began praying for my mother in at my usual prayer time – 4am in the morning. In deep distress over my mom’s disagreement with me being in this church, I was desperately crying out to the Lord. The more I prayed the more clearly I could feel how severe the spiritual situation was. At one point I felt as though my mom would die if I didn’t intercede. I begged and begged God to forgive all of the sins that had accumulated promising to make up for and take responsibility for the sins. Then I felt God’s word come to me very clearly and authoritatively, “Okay. She will not die, but she will come within one inch of losing her life.”

I didn’t know if I should tell someone so that I would have a witness or keep it to myself. It was not a common experience for me to have such an authoritative voice come to mind so clearly so I just decided to keep it to myself. If nothing came of it then at least no one would think I was crazy or be suspicious of me.

A week later my mother announced that she was divorcing my father. She wrote me an ugly letter saying that my being in this church was one of the leading factors that lead to the break down in their relationship. It felt like she was blaming me for her decision to leave my father when he was already in so much physical pain.

A week after my mom announced her divorce to my father I received a phone call. My family told me that mom was in the emergency room with an enlarged heart, and possibly even on her deathbed. I was totally in shock and stunned. My mother and I both suffer from scoliosis and arthritis to some degree, but this was the first real heart problem I had ever heard of on both sides of my entire family.

My family pressured me to fly home even though none of us had the money for me to get a flight. My mom then called me from the hospital questioning me about being in Providence yet again. She didn’t sound upset, but it seemed unusual to me that it was on her mind at such a critical time. Within a couple hours of her call my father called me. He was hysterical and commanded me not to interact with her worried that the stress might kill her. It was a very strange, upsetting, frustrating, and confusing experience because I just couldn’t see what my religious ideologies had to do with such a distressing family event.

In my heart I knew that if I went home then my family would absolutely drag and force me away from my faith and my newfound relationship with Jesus, so I had to make a choice. I told my dad confidently that he did not need to worry because she absolutely would survive this incident. I did not panic, I did not buy a plane ticket that day, and thank the Lord – my mother did not die.

She did tell me later though that when she was in the emergency room she felt death begin at her feet and creep up her body. She said it was tremendously painful and she felt it move up slowly as far as her butt. She did not call a nurse because she said she did not feel like fighting to live. The nurses figured it out though and urgently called in the doctor. Her heart had become so enlarged that she needed surgery immediately. Later my grandmother gave her a hard time and convinced my mother to fight to live. And she did. She told me that she had come very close to the brink of death, but I did not share with her my previous revelation.

My mom did not divorce my father until a little while later, and she stopped giving me a hard time about my church affiliations for a couple years after this incident. Since then my parents have remarried, and divorced again. More recently my mother apologized about giving me such a hard time about my faith, and we are working out our damaged relationship. I thank God that I did not lose her.

At the time I was overwhelmed by these events, but since then I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what I’ve learned and how this experience changed me. I still to this day don’t know how to balance the optimism that comes with youth, and the skepticism that comes with experience. My parents showered me with love and attention growing up. They constantly encouraged my pursuits and fostered within me a very optimistic and trusting nature. But the pain and confusion of this family conflict became my most substantial experience with the darker side of human nature. Whatever naivete I had before the experience was destroyed, but I chose not to let it dampen by ability to trust in people. I often wondered why Jesus was willing to trust Judas Iscariot with the money. Through these experiences I have come to believe that Jesus saw both his potential for good and bad, and chose to risk the pain for even the slightest hope that Judas would overcome his personal conflict. Providence teaches that our fate is ultimately decided by our actions, and he has time and time again put himself at risk at even the slightest opportunity to save his enemies. It is this philosophy that enables me to trust others, but it is these negative experience that keep me constantly at attention for the moment that human nature might reveal its ugly head. Knowing of our naivete, it is in our parents’ instincts to protect us from outside influence and to distrust outsiders who earn our admiration. But no parent is perfect, and God often works through others to make up the difference. As I mentioned earlier, my mother and I both suffer from arthritis which results from an overactive immune system. White blood cells are our first defense against infections, but in cases like ours they become overactive and wreak havoc on our joints. Funny how the protective nature within us fights that which is on our side.

Resolving the conflicts: Walking the Path of the Lord

Work in Progress

Among many of the young people I’ve met from different Providence churches all over the world, many have had similar family experiences. Some were shunned by friends, family, and co-workers. Each was shocked to see those close to them become distrustful after seeing or hearing the slanderous content posted by a stranger about the church on the internet. Since then I’ve tried to undo the damage by creating positive websites about Providence, but doing so is like trying to put out a forrest fire. A whole forest can be set ablaze by one foolish person’s fire, but putting that fire out requires gallons upon gallons of water systematically dispersed by a network of professional fire fighters. In the bible James described rumors, gossip, and slander in the same way,

James 3:5-6
Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

But the tears of sadness we experience do not unite us like the tears of joy we share in finding this wonderful Providence history of God. Some of us have experienced the pain of persecution, most of us have endured some tribulation, but all of us testify of the great joy and pleasure in discovering the Word of God for our generation. Jung’s teaching, though controversial, are much needed in this world of confusion, division, and misguided expectations of the Lord’s second coming. The Lord warned us that a great tribulation would come before that great and terrible day, but it is the hope and fulfilment of His promise that gives us the strength to endure to the end.

Revelation 2:17
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

Related Pages

Coming to Providence part 1

Read the second part of this series.

Coming to Providence part 2

Read the third part of this series.

About the Author of this Article

[photo: Shaun McMillan]Shaun McMillan is a church minister, as well as a professional animator, web designer, and illustrator. He is the author of two books and the designer/author of several websites including www.ProvidenceTrial.com and www.Drawalot.com. He was formerly an animation and media arts instructor at Westwood College and is currently a full time designer for the www.CrystalCathedral.org.