My Eyes Are Open

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Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  

and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2: 9-11

Puppies are born with their eyelids tightly shut. You probably know this. They don’t start to open until around 14 days. This is a built-in safety measure designed to protect the eyes which are still developing and extremely fragile from things that would harm the eyes – such as dirt or pathogens or even too much light for their eyes to handle. So when the eyes are a little more able to deal with life, they open. A child asked me one time, why don’t we just open the eyes for the puppy?  I had to explain that until the eyes are ready to see, it would be harmful to force them to see.

Denial works a little like that. To some degree, it’s a healthy defense mechanism, protecting us from a truth we aren’t able to see and process. At some undefined point, however, it turns from being a healthy defense to an unhealthy one. At some point, good health demands that the eyes open.  Good health demands that we face those things that are so easy to hide from.

Someone I love got a diagnosis the other day, the kind that feels like a kick in the gut. Our heads are spinning; we are trying to wrap our brain around it, but it hasn’t been easy. It’s not life threatening, only incredibly life-altering and comes with no easy fix. We are developing strategies to better prepare ourselves for the reality of this diagnosis. Looking back over the past months, I see evidences that point to this diagnosis. Evidences I chose not to see until now when I have no choice. The doctor has spoken the words; I can’t pretend I didn’t hear them. Denial is no longer working in my favor. My eyes are open.

In the space of about 3 days, I went back and forth through the stages of grief – shock, denial, anger and acceptance. I may continue to do that for some time, but right now at this moment, I am grateful for the diagnosis. Grateful to know what we are dealing with instead of trying to ignore symptoms.

The verse above tells me, assures me, that at the name of Jesus every other name that is named must bow its knee. It’s good to have a name, a diagnosis, even better to know that that name will bow its knee to the name of Jesus. I choose to believe that while this may very well be a righteous diagnosis, there is a more righteous prognosis than what the doctor offers – Jesus, our Physician, will have the last word, this diagnosis has a name and that name will bow its knee to the name of my Healer, Jesus.

Jehovah Rapha, You are our healer. You are the Great Physician. Thank You for the doctors You are using in our lives and thank You for Your word which keeps us strong. Be our peace through this trial, our comfort, our defender, have the victory here, have the last word, show Yourself strong in our lives, I ask in Your mighty name, Amen.

 

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Getting Out of the Gate

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…and as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him.

II Chronicles 26:5

This is talking about Uzziah, a sixteen year old who became king and reigned for 52 years in Jerusalem. He started off on the right foot -he did right in the eyes of the Lord, he continued to seek God and this verse tells us that as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him. But something went horribly wrong because in verse 21 we are told that Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death and cut off from the house of the Lord.

We used to have race horses. Well, we had horses and some of them actually made it to the track. Mostly, they just made us broke. These were Thoroughbreds which means that most of their races were not sprints, they were bred for longer distances. Getting out of the gate in a sprint race has to be perfect, too much time out and it can’t be made up in a short race, but it can be made up sometimes in a longer one. A good start is crucial, but its the finish that counts.

Uzziah started well, and ended up poorly and if you read the story, you will see that his heart became proud because of victories won in battles and he stopped seeking the Lord and guess what? The Lord stopped prospering him.

When I started into this healing journey, I started on my own strength, that and help from the doctor and a wellness consultant. I had cried out to God for months and months to heal me or show me the way and He said NOTHING! At some unnoticeable point, I stopped seeking Him. The pills, the treatments, the supplements made some difference but I still had so much pain that I couldn’t deal with it any more. So I quit the prescriptions, the supplements, the treatments and decided to leave my healing in God’s hands totally. Either He healed me or I stayed this way.

I went back to seeking the Lord, which is how this blog began.  I started in search of physical healing but I have gained so much more. I have begun prospering in my life, not just financially, though that has improved, but mentally and emotionally and relationally and yes, physically. The only difference is that I sought the Lord through reading His word. That’s it, that’s all I did, and He has done the rest. In life, I don’t think our start in this life is as crucial as the finish as God allows us to start over daily, if need be. It’s the finish that counts in life, as in horse racing. And I hope, by His grace, that I finish strong and healthy and prospering.

Jesus, You paid for it all, my health, all of it, my mental and physical, financial, relational well-being are so important to You. I can’t attain to a level of health in any of these areas without seeking You and Your word and following hard after You. Thank You for turning me in my tracks back to the only source of healing for me. Thank you for the increase in my health in all areas of my life and please, please, help me to finish strong. In Your name, I ask. Amen.

picture credit: resaliens.com

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A New Pillow or Four

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.

Keep on seeking, and you will find.

Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

For everyone who asks, receives.

Everyone who seeks, finds.

And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 7: 7-8

I had promised my son a new pillow.  I didn’t forget this promise, I just hadn’t made time to go get it. And, of course, he didn’t let me forget it. Many times over the period of 5 days, he reminded me. I found it rather annoying, to be honest. Did he just not believe me?

I went last night to Walmart and purposed to spend about $10 on a pillow for him. To my surprise, they were on sale and I was able to buy 4 for the price of one.  I got pillowcases as well. Right there in Walmart, I had this wonderful revelation of the giving nature of God. It felt so good to be able to give my son more than he had asked for, more than he was expecting, much more.  God isn’t limited by resources; He doesn’t need a sale at Walmart to bless His kids. And if I read this verse correctly, He isn’t annoyed by persistent asking. In fact, He tells us to do just that.  I don’t understand that, but I don’t have to. I didn’t write it; I only read it. Maybe, just maybe, what is standing in the way of my  miracle or yours is that, unlike my son, we give up. We just stop asking, or seeking, or knocking.  I mean, He heard us right? So why keep asking?  I don’t know, but I know this, God is looking for ways to bless His kids above and beyond our wildest imaginations and He tells us to keep on asking.

What have you given up on?

Have you stopped asking?

Perhaps it’s time to start again and see what only God can do.

I admit, Jesus, that I give up far too quickly. I don’t keep asking, I think I must be pestering You if  do. Forgive me for limiting You, for not taking this word and applying it passionately to my life. Help me to be persistent in my faith and in my pursuit of healing, not just for me, but for all those you have put in my path and laid on my heart. Bring Your healing, I ask, touch these lives as only You can do. I ask again, in Your name. Amen.

The Suffering of Christ

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Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,

if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:17

In many readings I’ve read and in discussions I have had with people, the subject of Christ’s suffering comes up. It is used to counter the belief that it is God’s will to heal all. I’ve heard people say that we are called to suffer with Christ and that the disease or ailment they have is the way they join with Christ in His suffering. These are sincere people who want God’s will in their lives but they see their suffering as something God called them to do.

I have a hard time with that. I believe we will suffer as Christ suffered if we are living as Christ lived; if we are disturbing our world the way He disturbed His. When I read through the New Testament though I don’t see Jesus suffering arthritis or chronic pain or allergies or cancer. Jesus suffered persecution, mocking, rejection, scorn and crucifixion. While many Christians around the world, may indeed suffer those things and we might also, our suffering diseases is not joining with Christ’s sufferings. I don’t see physical suffering as having a place in the kingdom of God, in heaven or in Jesus’ life. If suffering through a disease or chronic pain is something God wanted for us, then why did Jesus heal anyone?  And then say He was only doing what God told Him to do? And further tell us that if we have seen Jesus, we have seen our Father God? Why say and do any of that if it’s His will that we suffer with diseases and afflictions?

Can we honor God through our suffering a disease? Of course. Can He use our suffering for our good and His glory? Yes. But is that the same as suffering with Christ or for the sake of Christ? I don’t believe so. I am willing to enter into the sufferings Christ suffered, as God graces me to do so. I would love to rock my world the way Jesus rocked His and if I did, I could expect suffering and trust that God would see me through that. But I don’t believe that suffering would include physical afflictions.  And while I pray that God would use this suffering from arthritis and chronic pain for my good and His glory, I would not turn down healing. I believe I could do more for the kingdom of God if I were physically free from these pains.

Jesus, You showed us the compassion of our Father when You touched the infirmed and diseased and brought healing. You showed His heart of love when You healed the many and the all. Your word tells us You are the same, today, yesterday and forever. I believe it is Your will that I be free of this pain and I thank You for that. When I do experience suffering for Your sake, help me to remain faithful through it all, the way You did for me. I ask in Your glorious name. Amen.

You Dirty Worm!

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Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.

Proverbs 18:21

Some kids at work were playing the other day. I don’t know what the game was but a little girl was pretending to be very, very sick. She was laying on the floor, curled up in a ball and the “doctors” were deciding what was wrong. They were saying things that sounded like death to me, things like “I don’t think she’s gonna make it” and “We’d better call an ambulance”.  I came over and suggested that maybe they could speak words of life over her – you know, speak words that would help her heal, not words that would help her get worse.

So the “doctor” says, “Get up you filthy worm and walk or I’m gonna kick you!”

Not the exactly the words of life I had in mind.  We all laughed, the “worm” got up and the “doctor” pronounced her healed. So I suppose there is a happy ending there, after all.

It reminds me, though, of words spoken by many of the Word of Faith movement when someone doesn’t receive their healing. Words like, “well you just don’t have enough faith” or “there must be some sin in your life”. I know several people who have been hurt by words like that. In all honesty, I withdrew from people when my healing didn’t come because I was afraid someone would say those words to me and I was hurting enough without them. Sometimes, they were probably spoken in good faith, with good intentions but the message comes through as condemnation and blame, no matter how nicely they may be spoken. Those words are translated as “it’s my fault I didn’t get healed”.

I am far from settling all divine healing questions in my own life, but I think there is more to the story than this.  When Jesus healed the many, or the all, don’t you suppose there were some there who had little faith and some who probably had sin in their life?  I’m not saying these can’t be reasons some don’t get healed, but wow, could we be led by the Holy Spirit on this one and not just offer pat answers because it is what we have been taught? Or because we don’t know other reasons.

What if, instead of kicking the worm and heaping condemnation and blame on people, we minister grace and mercy and words of life? The kids didn’t get that when I tried to explain it but we are all adults here, we can get it, can’t we?

Lord, I have been afraid to have anyone speak those words to me; I can blame myself and get under condemnation without any help from anyone, but I know others who have been hurt by those words. Would You heal them? Would You bring comfort to them and whisper Your love and acceptance to them? Help us all to remember that when we are hurting or withdrawn or sick that You haven’t forgotten us nor left us alone and help us to be ministers of grace and mercy and life. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

My Dream Back Yard

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“Do what you couldn’t do before and do it until you can do it easily”.  I read this from a book on divine healing. I have heard similar exhortations before, but this time, I got it. I prayed about it and picked one thing I have not been physically able to do in a very long time – yard work. I don’t particularly care for yard work, but I do like a nice yard to relax in. Our back yard had become anything but nice.  Between the overgrown garden and the dogs and the piles of things that seemed to grow exponentially every year, the yard was a mess.

I decided to put this teaching to the test and began the process of reclaiming our back yard. The first Saturday, I worked for about 3 hours, not non-stop but throughout the day. It was hard and at the end of the day, I needed pain medication, badly.

The second Saturday, I worked about the same with the same ending, me on the sofa taking pain meds. But the third Saturday, I worked just as hard, for just as long but at the end of the day, I didn’t need any pain meds!  Not even Tylenol!  How exciting! The fourth Saturday was the same – no pain, then the rains came and I haven’t been out since! I am so encouraged by this. Chronic pain has kept me from so many things for so many years and to be able to do just this yard work is nothing short of a miracle. I am so grateful.  My yard is a long way from looking like my dream back yard, but it is now in the range of possible instead of impossible.

Sometimes, I think we are waiting on God to do the miraculous and He is waiting on us to accept the fact that the miraculous is a done deal. I still have pain, but as God leads, I am going to reclaim my life (and my yard) and do the things I couldn’t do when pain ruled my life. I will hike with my son and putter in my back yard and keep my home cleaner and groom my dogs better and…and…   Most of that is not too exciting but it is stuff I have not been able to take for granted for the past 18 years.  For the first time in a very long time, I see possibilities in my life instead of impossibilities. Only God could have turned that around.

Father, when I think of Your goodness, I am humbled and blessed and speechless. What can I say but thank You? Thank You. You are my healer God and I am amazed at how You continue to work in my life. What a wonder You truly are! Thank You for the yard work I have been able to do and the possibilities of reclaiming my life that are rising up in me. Please continue Your work in me and lead me in Your perfect will. In Jesus’s name, I pray, Amen.

Halfway to Goal

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I am not so sure how properly I set this goal, but I am halfway there. Posting a blog a day for a year has been a stretch for me. Some weeks ago, I had to take a break because pain was too intense for me to sit at the computer and now I am trying to fill in posts on those days I missed.

So what else can I say about where I am right now, six months into this?

I am still dealing with pain.

I am still limited by pain.

I seldom use pain as an excuse for my mood, attitude, behaviors, etc.

I am encouraged by things I have studied and read and sometimes very challenged by things I’ve studied and read.

I still have more questions than answers and that’s good, it keeps me seeking.

I have more good days than bad.

I sleep more nights than I don’t.

I have learned that taking care of me is ok.

I’ve learned that God is a holistic healer and is as interested in my overall health as He is in my physical health.

I have discovered that I am more interested in my overall health than I am in my physical health.

I am relaxing in this process and not feeling like I must/need to rush it.

I am still connected with a local church and involved there.

I have made a new priority list and I am not at the top of it anymore!

My prayer life has grown by leaps and bounds.

I am grateful for this process and whenever my healing comes, I will be grateful for that.

I am learning to set boundaries with other people.

I am learning to delegate things I can’t do anymore.

I think going into this that I had in mind that I would be healed before my year was up. I know I can’t put a time frame on God and I know that what He has done in me in these past six months has more eternal value than just healing my body would have had. I have had to change my expectations from Daily Devotions on Divine Healing to Almost Daily Devotions on Divine Healing and I am ok with that, especially if the other choice would be to just quit. I won’t quit, I will make it to May 28, 2014.

Dear Jesus, what can I say but thank You and humbly come to You and surrender my life, my expectations, my timeline, my plans to You knowing that Your ways are not my ways and Your plans are higher, bigger, greater than I could ever imagine. Use me, use this pain, use this blog in any way You deem best, I ask in Your precious name. Amen.

The Girdled Tree

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I have never had to have a tree removed; I don’t need to, I have a puppy who has destroyed three already.  They were young and she was young and I hoped they would outgrow her but that wasn’t the case.  It was pretty easy to determine that the tree was dead. The leaves were gone and the branches chewed off. I have heard though of a method for killing off invasive or unwanted trees called girdling.  Girdling is done by stripping off a band of bark from the tree. This removes the part of the tree that transports sugars necessary for growth basically stopping its food supply. The tree dies over a period of time. It won’t, however, look dead for all of  this time frame. There will be evidence of life for a while. But because it has been girdled, it is easy to picture the tree as dead in spite of evidence to the contrary. It time, the evidence of death will be obvious.  Sighted evidence will line up with faith that the tree is indeed dead.

Believing I am healed in the midst of evidence to the contrary is much like watching that tree only in reverse.  It requires that I look beyond the evidence.  I have to look at what is not seen. What I can see with my eyes is not the whole story. I have to see with eyes of faith. See my knees bending properly, see my neck and shoulders moving freely, see my hands and fingers functioning unhindered.  I have to see life where there seems to be death. One day, sighted evidence will line up with faith that I am healed, if I keep believing.

F.F. Bosworth writes, “The process of faith which brings the healing is a far greater blessing than the healing itself.

…When we have learned the process of faith for receiving healing,

we have learned how to receive everything else God promises us in His word”.

I believe he is right. Putting our faith in God’s promises is not manipulating God, it is trusting God. It is taking Him at His word and not letting go until we see the manifestation of what we are believing for take place.  Can you see what you are believing for in the midst of evidence that says forget it? Can you continue to see past the evidence to the trustworthy promises of God?

Too many times, I have a hard time seeing beyond the evidence. I can count the years I have waited and hoped and prayed and still not seen the healing and I consider giving up. Forgive me, for placing more faith in evidence than I do in Your word. You purchased my healing, You prophesized my healing, You promised my healing, You provided for my healing, what tremendous love is that? Thank You for caring so much about me and doing so much for me. When I am tempted to look for evidence, would You nudge me back to Your word? I ask in Your trustworthy name Jesus. Amen.

Picture credit: wikipedia

 

Have A Coke

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 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.

He freed me from all my fears.

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Psalm 34: 4,5,8

My parents were very big on entertaining.  It was great fun as a kid to see the transformation take place in the “adult” dining room. The empty table was beautifully set and lavish dishes of food prepared. We, as kids, were banished to our bedrooms once the guests arrived but the air of excitement filled the house.

There are six kids in my family and when my parents converted a three-car garage into a family room, it was no surprise that it was wonderfully set up for our entertainment but also as a place to entertain our friends. It had a pool table, Ping-Pong table, jukebox, TV, comfy furniture, a commercial popcorn maker and a soda fountain. This was back in the days before convenience stores were on every corner with their soda fountains and getting a good soda meant drinking from the bottle or going to the neighborhood drug store counter. For us, though, it meant just going to the family room.

Coke was the answer to many childhood ailments. When I was sick, I was given a Coke. When my stomach hurt, I was given a Coke.  When I was blue, I was given a Coke. My son informed me that he read on the internet that Coke is the second most globally recognized word with OK being number 1.  Apparently, others have an attachment to Coke too.

It’s not surprising that I became addicted to Coke. I drank it for years and years and years. Coke was comfort food at its finest to me. It was hard to give up and I have discovered that I still crave sugar all the time and consume it in other forms. Some would dispute that sugar can be an actual addiction, but I have read numerous times that sugar is able to penetrate the membrane around the feel good center of our brain.  Heroin and Cocaine are two other substances that can penetrate that. Some doctors believe sugar addiction is every bit as powerful as addiction to those drugs. It’s a socially accepted substance and readily available and I am struggling to give it up.

Sugar leads to immune system dysfunctions and inflammation and so many other things. It could very well be a factor in the pain I am experiencing. Knowing this gives me reason to give it up, but not the power. I will only find the power as I turn to God and seek His help. Only in Him will I find freedom from this addiction.

Today Lord, I purpose today to be Day 1 or Hour 1 or Minute 1 of living free of sugar. I approach this with a degree of fear. I have tried and failed so many times. Free me from this fear and this addiction please. I choose to taste and see that You are good and trust that as I look to You, I will be radiant with joy and free from the shame of addiction. Help me to lean on You minute by minute, one step at a time, lead me to victory, I ask in Your saving name. Amen.

Hard Things but Not Too Difficult

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Ah, Lord. God! Behold Thou hast made the heavens and the earth

by Thy great power and by Thy outstretched arm!

Nothing is too difficult for Thee!

Isaiah 32:17

My daughter arranged for us to have this sign donated to us by friendly strangers off of a blog she read regularly.  At the time, we were going through a very difficult time. My husband had been diagnosed with cancer in several spots of his skin and lips.  I was becoming more and more frustrated by the lack of answers over the chronic pain I was in and the intensity of the pain 24/7. There were other things going on then, but these were the biggies. The sign hung as an encouragement to help us get through and now hangs as a reminder that we can indeed do hard things. We can go through hard times, but I know, for me, I couldn’t go through hard times if I didn’t believe God was in control and that truly nothing is too difficult for Him. Nothing. Not cancer, not undiagnosed pains, not arthritis, not addiction, not rebellious kids, not distant spouses, nothing. I don’t believe I could go through hard times without that hope.

Hard times come and hard times go. Some are much harder than others but regardless of the intensity, hard is hard. We made it through those hard times and many, many others. I keep hoping for that high plateau that keeps us above hard things, but life is oftentimes, just plain hard.  In those times, for me, it is helpful to remember that hard times, like the seasons, change. They don’t stay forever; they are temporary. I can almost hear some saying, “but this one has gone on forever”. I know that feeling all too well. But still, it is a season and destined to change.

When the pain is so great I can barely walk, I remember that nothing is too difficult for God. When the pain has caused too many sleepless nights, I remember the God that has always brought me through. I’m still here. I’m still standing. Only God!

Whatever difficult or hard times you may be facing right now, please know that with God nothing is too difficult, nothing is too big or small for Him to be concerned about. He is not so busy that You have been put on back burner. He loves and cares for You and there is an appointed time for your hard time to end. Only God!

Where would I be if You hadn’t brought me through the hard times? Which one of them would have swallowed me up? I have nowhere to turn but You; only You have words of life and power to overcome the most difficult of hard times. Only You know what it’s going to take to free me from this pain and bring me to victory. I trust in You, I count on You, I look to You, I depend on You. You are my Ever-Present Help in time of need. Thank You for the countless times You have brought me and my family through hard times. Amen.