Facing the Fear

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…Fear not…

Genesis 15:1

When my loved one’s diagnosis came and the ramifications started setting in, I found myself wallowing in fear.  To my credit, I did bring to my remembrance scriptures that addressed fear such as “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind” and “fear not”. How many times is fear not written in the Bible? Actually, I just looked that up and the answer is 365.  I guess God knew fear would be an issue for us. To my discredit, I have been anxious, losing sleep, overeating, tense and at just plain ol’ overwhelmed.

Then I remember who I am – a child of God and I began addressing the fear. While fear may be a natural, even expected reaction to a life-altering diagnosis, it is something God went to great lengths in His word to tell us that we don’t need to be afraid. From Genesis to Revelation, God tells His people to fear not. Some reasons given are:

He is with us.

He is for us

He wrote the book and He knows how it ends.

No weapon formed against us prospers.

He never leaves us.

He answers prayer.

He performs miracles.

He comforts His people.

He guides His people.

He loves us.

He has good plans for us.

He is our Great Physician.

His rod and His staff comfort us.

He leads us in paths of righteousness.

He didn’t give us fear, He gives power, love and a sound mind.

There are so many more reasons. Trials come and go, but the word of God stands forever. We will, by the grace of God, make it through this until the day healing is complete but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could make it through without giving fear any place in our lives? This diagnosis did not surprise God; He knows exactly what is going on and He is well able and willing to see us through to health and wholeness.  I do not need to fear.

Lord Jesus, how well You know my inclination to allow fear to swallow me up at times. Thank You for Your exhortations throughout scriptures to fear not. Steady us as we go through this. Lead us in the path of healing that is right for us and give us courage, grace, wisdom and peace. I ask in Your mighty name, Amen.

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Snow Day

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Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 

Psalm 51:7

I am homebound today for the third day in a row. Snow has closed schools and many business here in the Pacific Northwest.  The snow has covered everything, blanketing the good, the bad and the ugly in white. Clean and vibrant white. It is beautiful. I lived in Montana for 25 winters and took snow like this for granted or at times, wished it away.  I remember a scene, though, that stands out in my mind.

Our neighbor had several acres of land and he was fond of vehicles. Broken, rusted, old, new vehicles (trucks, cars, farm equipment) and just pieces of vehicles. Actually, I don’t know that he was fond of them, only that he collected them. His yard and pasture were a veritable junkyard. We didn’t have neighborhood associations then (probably still don’t in that part of Montana) so his treasures could accumulate to his heart’s desire.  Ugly is an understatement and I passed it every time I went to town, took kids to school or came home – there it was in plain sight –  the neighborhood junkyard. Until it snowed.

Snow transformed the junkyard into a glistening, sparkling exquisite collection of sculptures. I would be in awe of the transformation as I drove by. I was surrounded by beautiful snow-covered nature scenes – mountains, trees, and creeks, but this scene seemed the most remarkable simply because of the transformation. Mountains are always beautiful as are trees and creeks, but a junkyard, well, not so much. Until the snow made it a work of art.

I imagine my heart something like this junkyard before I accepted God’s freely offered forgiveness for my sins.  A collection of junk that could only be described as ugly. A collection I would rather no one saw, including me. After accepting His forgiveness, I see my heart more like the snow-covered sculpture I marveled at in Montana. What a transformation!  How awesome to think that my sins have been forgiven, I have been cleansed and now my heart is whiter than snow. Not because I am sinless, but because my sins have been wiped clean. I have a clean and vibrant white slate for a heart and much like the junkyard that was transformed into a thing of beauty, God transformed my heart into a work of art He could gaze upon. He doesn’t have to turn away from seeing my heart because He freely cleansed it for me. He washed it whiter than snow!

What an amazing gift forgiveness is, so totally undeserved. I am so grateful that You saw my ugly, junkyard condition and chose to free me from it. Not just by covering it with snow, but by cleansing me and wiping away my sin from before Your eyes. I need that washing daily. Thank You for forgiving me, for loving me in spite of my sins and wanting to gaze upon me with love and acceptance. Thank You for the blanket of snow You keep me covered in.  Amen.

pic credit: wovenwomenblogspot.com

The Puppy and the Peanut Butter

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“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.”   
     Voltaire

As I write this, our Goldendoodle puppy Sadie is persistently attempting to clean the insides of an empty peanut butter jar. She has the top part really clean but hasn’t figured out how to get her face and tongue far enough down to clean the bottom.  She has been working on this for over half an hour! She has gotten the label all the way off and has bent back the edges of the plastic jar enough to get her face further down, but there is still peanut butter to be had.  Watching her determination is funny and heartwarming and sometimes, makes me think that maybe she isn’t all that smart.  Or maybe she’s smart enough to know that persistence pays off. Even if to others it looks like a lost cause.

I think that sometimes of my pursuit of healing. Why not just give up and accept that this is what it is and move one?  I would bet that to others that my determination may at times seems odd and, at times, may seem heartwarming, and maybe at other times, it just seems like, well, maybe she just isn’t all that smart. To me, though, there is something bigger at stake than getting the last bite of peanut butter. My healing, your healing is worth pursuing. It has been paid for and the price was high: Jesus taking all our diseases on the cross with Him to put an end to their destruction in our lives.

God made it clear in scriptures that Jesus came to do the will of God and Jesus went about healing all. ALL.  I am sure that sometimes, these people who came were to Jesus looking for healing were viewed as odd. I mean, who tears a hole in a roof to let someone down into the house on a pallet? That’s major league cutting in line, not to mention just plain odd. But they persisted and the man was healed. If I had been willing to say enough is enough and move on when we were believing for our son John, I am not so sure he’d be here today. I can’t help but wonder what other miracles I have missed because I was unwilling to persist to the end.  I don’t want to quit believing for my healing any more than Sadie wants to give up on that last bit of peanut butter, regardless of how it looks to others (and myself at times).

Jesus, You know the struggles I have had with faith, how it waxes and wanes, how some days faith comes easy and others, not so easy. Help me to be steady, to be persistent to the end when I see this promise of Yours manifested in my life. I’m not resting in my ability to believe, but resting in the faithfulness of Your love, Your character and Your word.  Thank You for bringing our promised son, John into our lives when it seemed impossible, and thank You for this healing You bring into my life even when, at times, it seems impossible. Forever Your humble follower, I thank You. Amen.

Outcast … Again

To the outcast
On her knees,
You were the God
Who really sees.
And by Your might,
You set Your children free.

These lyrics are from Amy Grant’s song El Shaddai. The speak to what is on my heart today for a young girl I worked with. I have written of her – she’s the 10 year old who was raped by her mom’s boyfriend and then taken from her home and put in foster care. She’s the one who would sit for 2 or more hours and cry silent tears because of the pain. I say worked with because last Friday, she was removed from the foster home she lived in and will no longer come to our program. I don’t know where she is now or if I will see her again this side of heaven. This, by the way, was the 7th foster home she was in since September.

I asked our prayer group at church to pray for her and they did. Our pastor brought up the story of Hagar who was an outcast. She was banished from her home and was in the wilderness when the Lord showed up and spoke to her. Far from home, far from anything familiar, far from having any where to go or any place to return to and far, far, far from hope. And yet, God saw her.

She was returned to her home and the ending of her life was far better than the beginning because God saw and acted on her behalf. We prayed that the same God that saw Hagar would see this little girl who has also been banished from her home, far from anything familiar and far from hope.

It is so easy to believe when we are hurting that God is distant, that He doesn’t know or perhaps He knows but doesn’t care or is too busy. This story tells us otherwise. God sought out Hagar and found her at her lowest point and raised her to a new place in Him.

Whatever the situation,

whatever the loss,

whatever the diagnosis,

whatever the change of circumstances that has left you feeling alone or abandoned,

know that God sees,

He is the God who really sees.

Jesus, thank You for the short time I had to spend with this young girl, she will be forever in my heart as I know she is in Yours. Show up big in her life, please, help her to know that You really see, that You haven’t abandoned her or turned a deaf ear. Would you hold her and love on her and put someone in her life who will listen and comfort her and love her? And would you make the ending of her life be greater than the beginning? I ask in the name of the God who really sees. Amen.

pic credit:  karlmarxhausen.net

The Ugly “P” Word!

Recently at work, during our read aloud time, I read Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Ugly Truth  by Jeff Kinney to a group of elementary children.  The story is about a boy named Greg who is in middle school and having to go through the classes on puberty.  His mother adds to his embarrassment by giving him a book to read about puberty.  The kids loved the book but every time I read the word puberty, they would wrinkle up their faces and say yuck!  We started calling it the ugly “P” word.  It became our private joke.

patienceIt reminded me of times when I had issues with another ugly “P” word – patience.  UGH!  I would have to say patience was not a strong suit of mine when I first started on this journey with Jesus.  I’m not saying it is a strong suit now, but I don’t cringe at the word and want to run from it like I used to.

While waiting on God’s promise of healing to manifest in my life I have encountered moments (many) where patience needs to do its perfect work.  I want to be healed right now or yesterday or three years ago, but here I am – waiting and learning more about patience and how hard it is.  What about you?  Are you being taught patience through something you are going through right now?  Does it feel like patience is an ugly “P” word?

One of the most difficult aspects of waiting, I think, is to continue believing for the promise to be fulfilled.  In my case, that is healing, it may be different in yours.  Waiting stinks.  Romans 1:17 says the just shall live by his faith.  So if I am to live by faith, then giving up isn’t an option.  Building my faith is, however, and I can do that by looking at the character of Jesus and His words and determining that regardless of how long it takes for this promise to be fulfilled in my life, God is faithfully working behind the scenes to bring it to pass.

The process of waiting and building and rebuilding our faith has a purpose and that is to prepare us for the promises of God to come to pass in our lives.

What to do while waiting?  Practice gratitude, read Psalms, enjoy a sunset, read a good book, play a game with a friend, watch your favorite TV show, take a friend to lunch, etc.  Find ways to make waiting less of a chore and more of a relaxed way of life.  Practice savoring the moment, one moment at a time.  Fight against discouragement.  Speak words of life over yourself and others and keep your eyes on Jesus – the Author and the Finisher of your faith, of my faith.

Father in heaven, like the song says, I want to know that redemption wins. I want to know the struggle ends.  And I would like to see that NOW.  Forgive me for my impatience and as I look to You will You perfect my faith?  I know that Your plans and purposes for my life are perfected in Your ways and in Your times but patience doesn’t come easy to me.  Help me find ways to wait patiently with grace and trust and joy.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Kingdom Benefits

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Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

Psalm 103:1-5 NLT

In this Psalm, David commands his soul (his mind, his will and his emotions) to line up with his spirit and bless the Lord. To bless the Lord is to adore and thank Him for all His benefits. To recognize His rightful place as Lord over all, including me and every aspect of my life. It is to gratefully acknowledge Him for who He is and receive all that He has provided for me and chosen to bestow upon me. It’s a way of saying “YES” and “AMEN” to the promises of God.

What are His benefits? Just in these verses we see that His benefits include forgiving me of my sins, healing me of my diseases, redeeming me from death, crowning me with love and tender mercies, filling my life with good things and renewing my youth like the eagle’s. Wow! Where else can you get benefits like that?

That list of benefits is huge and it seems like blessing God isn’t something I should have to command my mind, will and emotions to do. But, often, I forget. I forget the benefits; I forget how awesome it is to have Him as Lord over my life. Sometimes, can I just say this, sometimes, I forget to even think about Him, much less bless Him. Ugh! There I’ve said it. I’m not proud of that. Like David, sometimes, I have to command my mind to bless God; I have to put a halt to self-regarding thoughts and purposefully think on God-blessing thoughts. Sometimes I have to command my emotions to line up with the word of God and not be swayed to and fro because of symptoms and sometimes I have to command my will to line up with His because, quite frankly, I like to have things my way. A lot.

Amazing God, how wonderful You are to us.  How gracious and giving. Thank You for all the benefits You so freely offer.  Enlarge my capacity to receive, I pray, enlarge my faith and enlarge my sphere of influence so that I can share You with others.  May Your will be done in my life.  Bless You Lord. Amen.

Present Your Body

I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12: 1
Our bodies matter to God. Our bodies are the temple of His Holy Spirit and the vehicle He has chosen to be the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth. I am meditating on this after having a day of bad eating – meaning making choices that don’t exactly help my body heal. Like wow, I could have had a V-8 day but instead I had a hot chocolate day. Don’t stone me, there’s nothing wrong with having hot chocolate but I could have made better choices, not just today, but for all the days that led to this day. I have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and arthritis and carpal tunnel and chronic pain syndrome and have good reason to believe that dietary and lifestyle changes could help me in this whole healing process. I know this and yet… days like today come along.

I spent years trashing my with poor eating habits and way too much sugar and way too little exercise. I didn’t adopt a healthy lifestyle until recently and now I am in pain partly because of that. It’s ok to acknowledge this; it is not ok to get in condemnation because of this. I am, by God’s grace, making better food choices and learning to deal with stress differently and setting limits I can live with and relax with and I believe that this is presenting my body as a living and holy sacrifice to God. Am I doing these things perfectly, no, but I believe it would be tempting God to come to Him for healing and not do the things I can do. The outcome, however,  is in His hands.

God cares about our bodies. He created them to operate fearfully and wonderfully and has given us laborers in the form of doctors and health practitioners to help us take care of these bodies. I know I can do a better job, can you? It is my desire to present my body to God as a living sacrifice, not a broken, trashed, disregarded, disrespected lump of flesh. But I need His help to do this.

Father God, it is my desire to take care of this body so that I can take care of those You have put in my path. Help me to make the choices, one choice at a time, that lead to health. Please forgive me for trashing my body for years and then expecting You to heal it at my demand. Be my Healer on Your terms. Amen.

Who’s Working Now?

And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. Romans 11:6

Grace has been defined as God’s unmerited favor. It is the goodness of God in all the ways that that goodness manifests in our lives. It is totally undeserved and unearned. I can’t be good enough to get God’s grace nor bad enough to lose it. I can’t work for it no matter how hard I try. What does this mean for my healing? For yours?

Just this – while there are things that doctors would tell me to do to be healed – take this medicine, eat right, exercise, de-stress, etc. and there are things that faith healers would tell me – confess scriptures, make positive confessions, etc – my healing comes by grace. Those are all good things to do (and I am not saying don’t do them), but being healed isn’t the result of my having done all these “works”, it comes by resting in the grace provided by God. Faith feels like rest and peace. Works feels like pressure and stress. Which are you operating in – faith or works?

My healing and your healing have been paid for. We can take comfort in the knowledge that as we do what we know to do, we can rest in peace believing that God has provided healing by His grace, His unmerited favor. So cooperate with the doctors, speak the Word over you life but do it from a position of rest and peace and let God do what only God can do – bring healing.

Thank You, Heavenly Father for being such a gracious, loving God. For looking upon us in our weakness and providing what we need for strength – grace and peace and rest. Help us to rest in that finished work of Jesus that brings about our salvation and healing through grace. Amen.