A Divine Appointment

I think it is time to introduce myself. My name is Kristina.  I am Carrie’s best friend.  Travis was like a brother to me. I have written this blog as a way to honor my friend and his family.  Today I asked Carrie if I could write something personal and she said it would be perfect.  So here I go…

I’m not a hokey person.  I don’t buy into things very easily.  In fact…I am a pretty skeptical and somewhat critical person by nature.  It has always been a struggle in my faith.  I like to find the hole in the argument.  The lapse in the reasoning.  The weakness in the debate.

It was the thing I had most in common with Travis.

That’s probably a surprise to most of you who have followed the blog and don’t know me.  Likely, I have come across as someone with either strong faith or someone who believes everything she hears. Perhaps even a bit Pollyanna and naive? Nothing can be further from the truth.

That’s just how much I believed in the message of Trav’s healing. 

I believed because I don’t believe in coincidences.  So when the “Black Angel” spoke to us…and then Trav got an email with the same message a week later…and the next day he  asked God “what should I read today” and opened his Bible to the same message yet again…I started to believe…

That we had…a divine appointment.

But I was wrong.

Travis died.

Just twelve and a half short months later he was gone and my faith was in a shambles. Not so much my faith in God but my faith in hearing from Him…of discerning His voice.

How did I get it so wrong?!? 

It’s been five months.  Five months and two days to be exact.

For Carrie the first three months were a fog to say the least.  It took everything within her to just put one foot in front of the other.  To put on a brave face for her children and be the mom Travis would have wanted her to be.  To honor his memory in every way she knew how.  The last two months she has begun to emerge from the fog.  She is smiling more and hearing her laughter warms her family’s and friends’ hearts.  She never misses an opportunity to talk about Travis and often apologizes for doing so which is silly because the people she is with love to do it as much as she does. She has begun to make every decision in light of “how would Travis handle this” or “what would Travis want me to do”.  She has met challenges head on.  Made hard decisions. Handled tough confrontations. And has navigated the waters of being a widow and single mom with the grace, perseverance, and perhaps even a bit of tenacity that shouts “I am Travis Roberts’ wife and he taught me well.” All in an effort to honor him and preserve his legacy…particularly the witness of his faith walk the last 15 months of his life.

And…while juggling all of this…she has done whatever she could to nurse my fragile faith back to health.

What an amazing woman… What an amazing friend…

Until today, since Travis died, I have gone to church one time. It was a disaster. I sobbed from the entrance of the church parking lot until some point along the route home with little reprieve.  While church, of course, conjures up all sorts of memories about Trav I think it was more my disappointment in God that brought on the tears.

(Gasp!  Did she just say that…)

Yes.  I said it.  Disappointment is just one feeling I have been trying to work through in the past five months.  I don’t know if I have been disappointed in God for allowing me to fall for that message hook, line and sinker or in myself for not being skeptical for the first time in my life.  If I am honest…it is probably a little bit of both.

I have been angry, hurt, confused, embarrassed and have even felt a bit betrayed.

So I guess God decided it was time for a divine appointment.

To be honest, I am not sure why we ended up going to church today.  We didn’t really discuss it.  We didn’t have a reason to go “today”.  We just got up and my husband said “how long until we have to leave for church.” And I didn’t argue.

On the way to church I quietly breathed a silent prayer that said something like “I can’t believe I am doing this.  It would be nice if You would speak to one of us so this isn’t a huge waste of time.”

We made it to church, said hello to some friends, walked the kids to their classrooms and found a seat in the monstrosity that is North Point Community Church’s auditorium.

I marveled at myself…

“huh…no tears…not one…isn’t that interesting?!?”

The music started and, other than the guy in front of me glancing back every few minutes to  remind me how painfully off key I tend to sing, it seemed like a regular Sunday morning.

And then the last song came on.  Oceans.

I should have known right then and there that, unbeknownst to me, God had scheduled a divine appointment...

The tears began.  But this time they were different.  They were’t feelings of anguish or betrayal. Instead, they seemed to be almost stripping away those feelings.  Stripping them away until there was nothing left….

Nothing but vulnerability.

And at that point.  For the first time in five months.  I was ready.  Ready for my divine appointment.

Being an Andy Stanley fan, and knowing how much Travis loved Andy, imagine my disappointment when another pastor took the stage.   I remember thinking, “God…I’m not going to get anything out of this…” and feeling frustrated.

Little did I know…

As Joel Thomas took the stage we quickly learned that Andy was supposed to preach that day.  However, his mother fell ill and so he asked Joel to fill in just 12 hours earlier.  And so Joel began to preach.  His message?

How to survive the first Christmas without a loved one.

I told you though.  I am not hokey.  I am naturally skeptical.  And so as quickly as I thought, “OMG!  this is just for us…” I dismissed it and thought “well that’s a neat coincidence.”

I made a mental note to ensure that Carrie listened to the sermon online.

And then Joel got personal.

He talked about losing his father to cancer his senior year in high school.  He talked about being taught by some individuals that, if you pray in Jesus’ name, your prayers would be answered.  He talked about always believing whole heartedly, even in the end, that his dad would beat it.  That God would miraculously heal him.  His dad beat everything…he was his hero.

He talked about feeling angry…even betrayed…when his dad died.

There have been 23 Sundays since Travis died.  I have been to church on two of them.  The first one, i can barely remember who preached (I am pretty sure it was Andy) let alone the message or topic. The second was today.  The day of this “unplanned” message.

Everything in me told me to be skeptical.  To not “fall for it” again.  To not believe that He was talking to me.

But there was this Whisper that told me otherwise. The Whisper told me that there was a reason I was there on THIS Sunday and not Sunday #22.

Since Trav died I have been ignoring that Whisper.  Pushing It out of my mind when It tries to capture my thoughts.  When It calls me.  I have dismissed anything that could possibly be God as a coincidence.

But this time…was different.  Instead of trying to decipher if I was right or wrong…if this was Him or not…I just felt…comforted.  I felt Him tell me,

“It’s ok. I’m here.  I still love you.  I DO care….”

I still don’t understand how I got the message about Trav’s healing so wrong.  Why God allowed those messages to come to us in the way they did, and in the timing they did, when they clearly were not true.

I doubt I ever will.

It is the first thing I plan to ask Him…at my last…

divine appointment.

 

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21 responses to “A Divine Appointment

  • Meghan

    I kept going to Buckhead Church all those Sunday’s because I felt Trav there so strong and it gave me comfort I couldn’t put into words until Joel said those words today so perfectly. Peace. Trav always brought an aura of peace that was intoxicating.

  • Carey

    Wonderful!!!!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  • paigesharpe

    Wow, so inspiring, thanks so much for sharing and I’m honored to hear your story and now include you in my prayer’s!

  • Abby Pettit

    Praise the Lord for His comforting and loving hands. Thank you for the beautiful reminder of our favorite guy and the love that our Savior lavishes on us.

  • Staci Waddle

    I’m so glad you felt encouraged by God today. And thank you for encouraging us by writing about it. Over the months I didn’t perceive you being either a skeptic or a Pollyanna about your faith. I got the sense you wanted to believe, that most of the time you did, but there was just something nagging at you, keeping you from really diving deep because of all you were experiencing with your wonderful friends. I highly recommend watching the “In the Meantime” series Andy did a few months ago. I think it will really, really encourage you. Take care, and again, thanks for opening your heart to us.

  • Karen

    Thank you for writing so honestly. I’m a brain cancer survivor. I don’t think you heard God wrong, just the timing. Travis was healed, in heaven.

  • Alison Cady

    Thank you for the update. I think of Carrie often and wonder how she has been doing. I watched Joel’s message online today and thought it was the best I’ve seen him deliver. You are right, you were meant to be there today for a very personal and relevant message. Your blog is an excellent way to put into practice what he mentioned at the end, which was asking for prayers through social media for those that needed help getting through their first Christmas without a loved one. I will pray for you and the Roberts family for peace and strength. Thanks again for sharing the story, both the Roberts’ and yours. #FirstChristmas

  • Kware

    I don’t think that you heard God wrong at all. I believe the message you received was true and you did hear correctly. Sometimes, we just need Hope. God graciously offers that to us when we need it most. He gives us the strength to walk the path that He has laid before us. It is not false hope, as someone else commented “Trav is healed.” When you look back and see where God walked each step of the journey with you, never leaving, never forsaking, giving you just what you needed, at just the right time, and with peace, you can see true beauty in your relationship with the Lord. Continued prayers for all those that continue to celebrate Travis’ life.

  • Debbie Ashburn

    Dear girl…I am so moved by your post. I could talk about family members who have lost beautiful children, or children who are loved and raised to love Jesus who have walked away from the faith, and let you know how much I get the “not understanding” and feeling like the rug is pulled out from under you. About being angry with God and not even knowing it. But, every situation is different, and I don’t know the journey you and Carrie and Travis have walked except for the heartfelt posts I have followed. So I can’t pretend I know how you feel, but I just want you to know I feel for you in these words you’ve written, and while all situations differ, the one thing is the same, our hope in Christ. We may never understand, probably won’t until Heaven when we “know as we are known”, but I’m so thankful for the divine appointment your loving Abba Father made for you to be pulled up into His lap and comforted. God bless you, Carrie and her family, and all Travis’ family.

  • Anonymous

    Kristina, wow!….what a poweful message and reminder that God is there for us 24/7……when we least expect it HE shows up for that ‘divine appointment.’

  • Ian Richardson

    It’s His plan, not ours. His timing, not ours. Trav’s story and his journey have inspired so many to be the best they can, even when the chips are down. I’ll always remember his smile and his sense of humor and I know he’ll be shining down on Carrie and the children come this Christmas. God bless you all.

  • Lynne Gann

    This is good stuff & God has used you throughout this journey whether you are skeptical or not. I felt some of the same emotions when my sweet sister in faith lost her daughter to cancer. Her daughter was 41 years old with 2 teenage daughters. I felt that same assurance that she would be healed. Her faith was incredible & yet, what happened? I too, for a long time wrestled with my thoughts & then one day it was as if God said “I did heal her!” You weren’t wrong, I just healed her differently than you expected & planned.” It was then that I realized that she had complete & eternal healing & it brought much comfort to my soul. I pray you continue to find you way & comfort in God. Don’t ever feel bad for questioning or being skeptical – that’s what makes us search harder, longer & deeper for God’s truths. Thank you for the friendship that you gave to Travis & their entire family. I know they have treasured it.

  • Shelley

    I have been inspired, brought to tears, and humbled by your stories of the past months. Thank you so much for sharing Carrie and Travis’ story with us. My grandmother was very ill for a very long time and I finally understood that God would heal her but it would not be the way i had envisioned. It would be a complete new body and she would be healed when she entered the gates of Heaven. I believe as you do; Travis was healed. His healing occurred not on Earth, as we would desire, but in the presence of his savior. Bless you and prayers for you and everyone that loves this family.

  • Jenny

    It did not end in death! Must look at life with eternity in mind. He is very much alive with Christ! Maybe the message was for Travis and his confidence in Jesus.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Kristina, Thank you for sharing.
    I think Trav’s death shook a lot of people. It shook our household. Disappointment and anger are not representative of little faith; just the opposite. Without great expectation there could be no disappointment or anger. I can so relate to those feelings this is why through much conversation with our Abba, I am learning to place my faith and expectation in Him rather than in this scripture or that scripture. God’s promises are always yes and amen, yet the written promises of the Bible are not God. They are Holy Spirit “inspired” text written by imperfect men. We can never replace our personal relationship with God Himself for a relationship with the Bible. This is called legalism.
    God IS love. This is the only message Jesus came to humanity with.
    This is the one thing we can count upon: Nothing can separate us from the love of God. No matter our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, or actions, He is within our hearts. God does not react to us. He is who He is:. “I am who I am.” This love is our home; whether it be here in this earthly realm or in the next.

  • Jason Mashburn

    Travis would be proud of you. everyone has a different journey : )

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Kristina for an encouraging and inspirational message. Your honesty and understanding love are a blessing. I’m reminded of Proverbs 3, verses 5 & 6…

  • Joyce

    My heart and faith have been strengthened by the grace and love shown by all. My heart continues to embrace the Roberts family with intense love and prayers. Thank you for giving me the privilege to know Travis, to know Carrie, to know you, to know God.

  • Anonymous

    thank you! I have walked in your shoes. With tear in my eyes, I say thank you!

  • Jason Forster

    Love to have a chance to talk with you. I was a friend and sales rep to Travis before going into ministry jforster@decaturfirst.org

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