I will never forget the first time that I saw Pastor Ed Dobson preach. We were going to Mars Hill and were sitting among the mass of people. Our first son Elijah had passed away only a couple of years before, and I was really struggling.
Even though G-d had given us another son, a true answer to prayer, I still had so many questions and heavy guilt. I had often felt my faith wasn’t strong enough, and maybe that’s why our children had died. We had prayed so hard, and He did answer, just not in the way we had hoped.
Watching my children die was the hardest thing I have ever endured. To see them struggle for their last breaths and knowing there was nothing I could do. This made me realize how fragile life is.
Their death’s gave me an eternal mindset, which is a good thing for the most part. The down side was where I gave the devil a foot hold, the guilt and fear.
I was worried that I was going to die and not be right with G-d. I knew that Jesus was my savior and that I couldn’t earn my way to heaven, but I still felt like I was out of favor with G-d. I was stuck in a rut of my circumstances. I wondered if this was a result of my own sin.
Pastor Ed stood up that day and spoke on the fact that fear and faith COULD co-exist. At that time, anyone I spoke to said that if I was fearful, I wasn’t faithful. This shook me to my core.
Pastor Ed spoke candidly about being diagnosed with ALS and his wrestling of why he wasn’t being healed. This all struck so close to home with Eli and Aurora passing away. We had prayed, was I not faithful enough for them to be healed?
As he spoke with such honesty, I could feel the walls of my heart being shattered. He went on to share his story of faith and struggle. He didn’t candy coat it, or even come up with a perfect solution to wrap things up. He was just, real.
I found myself crying with relief. I know that I love G-d with all my heart. I know that Jesus is my savior. I also know that in this world that we will have trials and temptations, and sometimes we will overcome with blatant victory. Also, sometimes we may feel pounded into the ground. (This is where I know G-d is the closest.)
While victory in every battle we face would be awesome! I have found more times than not, as I pour deeper and deeper into the Bible; is that the faithful followers life is going to be hard. After all, is it really faith if it isn’t hard?
Jesus has won over death, but we are still going to have troubles here on earth. We know that G-d walking is walking beside us, watching over, and cheering us on. Yet, a life a faith doesn’t mean we will go through it unscathed.
I am a Christian. I am tempted, challenged, and I make mistakes on a daily basis. It isn’t my strength that makes me victorious. Rather it is, “the Joy of the Lord that is my strength.”
He is my protection.
He is my everything that I am not.
So after Pastor Ed preached, I went up and shared with him about my struggle about my fear of dying. We were at a mega church, so I spoke as fast as I could and expected a one sentence reply.
He listened and took some time to respond. I won’t share everything, but he basically said, “The fact that you are so concerned about where you are with G-d, shows how much you love Him. You are seeking Him, and that is what a faithful person does. You keep seeking, even when you are afraid….”
From then on I was hooked on his teachings. Anytime he came to speak, we were there. I loved it when he teamed up with his son Kent, they were amazing together.
I read his book “The Year of Living Like Jesus,” and was enamored at his hunger and thirst for seeking out G-d even as his body was deteriorating.
Little did I know that my body was going to come to a sudden halt. I entered into a 4 year heavy battle with sickness and I am going to be honest, it about took me out. He had just written, “Seeing Through the Fog: Hope When Your World Falls Apart.” This book helped me keep on going.
At that point I under 90 pounds. I had lost 60 pounds rapidly and not in a good way. I could barely do anything on my own. I needed help walking and even getting dressed. I was so scared and angry at G-d. I felt I had been faithful, I had believed, and yet there seemed to be no great healing…
My Mother In Law suggested that I go and listen and try to talk to Pastor Ed for some encouragement. So we did. I listened as he shared about his frustrations with his body not working the way that he wanted. He shared with such transparency that I hung onto every word, as if it were the food I had been so craving.
We were going to be heading to U of M for a possible feeding tube placement. The doctors didn’t know what else to do and let it be up to me what to decide. You see medical technology seems easy, until it was me that was having to endure the procedures, side effects, and long term effect scenarios.
I was petrified.
When he finished, I again walked up to him and shared. I am still in awe that here this man himself was suffering, and yet he had so much compassion for all of those who are fighting for their lives. He gave me hope when no else could. He understood my pain and empathized like no other. He made me feel like I mattered and acknowledged my pain was real.
I asked him about the feeding tube and explained my dilemma. He just said, “Let that be your last resort…” There is more to it than that, but those words stuck. “Don’t give up, keep fighting.”
Pastor Ed won his battle on Saturday. He had ALS for 15 years. He left behind a legacy of what it is to be a true follower of Jesus. The two brief encounters that I had with him, helped me get back on the narrow path. He did what was instructed in the bible. He gave others hope in the middle of his suffering. He shared the love of our Father in heaven, and the need for Jesus.
My favorite part of what he left behind, was his honesty. He didn’t pretend that his suffering was easy. He showed us why we are supposed to be so transparent with each other. When we are open about where we have been and what we have done, it allows for others to see that we are human. That we need to hang on to G-d and trust that His grace is enough. We need Jesus as our savior. When we allow others to see the ugly and hurting side of our faith, it lends to opening a door of trust. To see and hear of others suffering and still seeking G-d, that is what makes a profound impact.
To tell you the truth, it’s the people that have been broken in life and are honest about it, that I look up to and trust. I know that they will be compassionate. I know that their faith has been tested and refined. I know that what the world deems broken, is where G-d is able to piece back to together and form into His likeness that is a testament of G-d’s miraculous power.
I am so sad that Pastor Ed had to suffer. But he did it with such grace and dignity. He left a path for those who are suffering, to let them know that they aren’t alone and that G-d Is. With. Them.
Pastor Ed’s life has taught me, that even in the midst of agony, we are called to help others. No one should ever have to suffer alone. We keep living each day, even as we wrestle, and press on…
If you are suffering, for whatever reason. I urge you to check out the many resources that Pastor Ed Dobson left behind. These are just a few that I have actually read or watched.
The Year of Living Like Jesus
Seeing Through the Fog
Or the his video series, http://edsstory.com/
I look at Pastor Ed’s life and know he was/will be a shining light to so many. He was/is G-d’s faithful servant, and this world is a better place because of him. May we all learn from his example, and give our best in every circumstance. Who knows whose lives we will touch for the greater good of G-d’s kingdom?
May we all live each day to the fullest and encourage others to keep their faith, love, and hope alive.
Thank you Pastor Ed for helping me see through the fog.