Just For The One

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 They arrived on the other side of the sea in the country of the Gerasenes. As Jesus got out of the boat, a madman from the cemetery came up to him. He lived there among the tombs and graves. No one could restrain him—he couldn’t be chained, couldn’t be tied down. He had been tied up many times with chains and ropes, but he broke the chains, snapped the ropes. No one was strong enough to tame him. Night and day, he roamed through the graves and the hills, screaming out and slashing himself with sharp stones.

Mark 5: 1 -5

Doesn’t sound like much of a life. Probably a lot less of a life than this man imagined for himself. Much less than his parents imagined for him.  According to the story, much less than God imagined for him.

How do we know this?  Before Jesus and His disciples arrived on the other side of the sea, they had to cross that sea. They encountered a storm.  Jesus stilled the storm and they continued their journey.  They could have turned back, postponed the journey, left it for another day, but they didn’t. They pressed on.

Arriving on the shore, they were met by this man. He isn’t described in a very flattering way. Probably most of us, encountering him, would move away quickly.

Let someone else help him.

I have enough to do without adding this man to my list.

Besides, he probably deserved this. Probably chose to continue in behaviors that led him here. Probably walked away from family and treatment and help and now was only reaping the fruit of those decisions.

Just walk on by.

Not only did Jesus not just walk on by, but as we read on, we discover that as soon as this man was delivered of the legion of demons that tormented him, Jesus and His disciples got back in the boat and sailed back across the sea.

There was no one else and nothing else on their agenda that day besides delivering that man of the demons. The Bible doesn’t tell us of anyone else healed over on that side of the sea on that particular day.

Not all, not the many, not everyone who came to Him.

Just this one man.

This one man we could so easily pass by.

Jesus went out of His way to heal, just this one man.

Which raises this question in my mind – what wouldn’t He do for me?  For just me? What lengths would He go to to touch me, heal me, deliver me?

Since He is no respecter of persons, what He did for this man He will do for me.

And you.

I am so humbled when I think of You going out of Your way to touch my life. If I were the only one, You would have still gone to that cross on my behalf. Even now, there isn’t a storm that can keep You from me. No journey You wouldn’t undertake to set me free.  Thank You Jesus. Thank You for pursuing me when no one else would. When nothing of my life appeared worth the effort, You made that effort anyway. Thank You.  Amen.

 

pic credit: youtube.com

 

 

 

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God’s Economy

 

 

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Years ago, when I lived in Montana, I had a wonderful gelding named Apache. The whole family loved that horse. Anyone could ride him; he was totally trustworthy. I especially liked taking him out on short jaunts in the woods. Fearless, smart and oh, how he loved to run, but there was one thing he would not do. He would not jump over anything. No, not ever, which most of the time was fine. But sometimes, in the woods, when a tree had fallen across the trail it would have been nice if he would have just jumped it. But alas, he would not.

One day, I came across a fallen log in our path. Way too big for him to step over and no way to go around the log. I sure didn’t want to turn around and go home and he sure didn’t want to jump it. I got off and studied the situation. I got behind him and pushed him on his rump. He glanced back and me and switched me with his tail. Out of frustration, I kicked the log and, to my surprise, the formidable roadblock  just caved in.

Dust flew upward and pieces of bark fell downward. Where the log had crumbled, I noticed tiny evidences of life. Intrigued, I bent down for a closer look. The log which had appeared to be dead, totally useless, too rotten for even good firewood, concealed underneath it an entirely new ecosystem. The sprouts were white from lack of sun exposure and unidentifiable to me.

At the time of this trail ride, I had just ended a 23 year marriage to a man who preferred drinking to sobriety, other women to me and being gone from home more than being at home. I spent a lot of days kicking myself for what I called wasted years.

But, while I studied this undergrowth, the Holy Spirit spoke these words to me, “In God’s economy, there is no such thing as waste.”

Hope blew across me like a gentle breeze.

What wonderful news this is when we are going through a time of limitations. A time when we say no more often than we are able to say yes. Ever feel like this time of being sick or being in pain or hanging onto a relationship that destroys your life is such a waste? I certainly have. Then I remember this story and I am comforted to know that God doesn’t call those times a waste. He is able to bring new life out of old and even in the midst of our waiting and wondering, He is able to use us and our seemingly wasted years for our  ultimate good and His incredible glory. That’s good news, isn’t it?

 

pic credit:  Diane Reid

 

Cast Your Cares

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Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.

1 Peter 5:7, AMP

Nothing takes God by surprise.  Nothing. Life takes me by surprise often. I make my plans, set my goals and wham – a diagnosis, a new pain, an unexpected expense, a relationship turns sour – and I am surprised.At my age, I should no longer get surprised. Life happens and sometimes, it is more of a kick in the gut than a stroll on the beach.

Even so, none of this surprises God.

Reeling from the news can send me in two different directions. I can flip out and rant and rave and stress out and lose sleep.  Or I can cast my cares on the God who saw the storm coming and has already mapped out a plan.

Ever gone fishing?  There is prep work to be done, getting the right size line and hook on the right size pole for the fish and picking the spot and the time of day and the bait. But once that hook is cast out into the water, the results are out of your hands. Not much to do but wait at this point. I am not a fisher-woman primarily because I hate waiting (and I am not too wild about cleaning fish).

When the bad news comes, there is only so much I can do and then I have to leave the rest in God’s hands.

What might this look like? For me, it means making a conscious decision to control my racing thoughts. Purposing to focus on God’s promises (one is all I need) instead of the evidence surrounding me isn’t always easy.  It requires a discipline that doesn’t come natural for me. Far more natural is for me to give into to worry and stress.

This verse tells us that God watches over me, over you,  in love. He cares for us affectionately. Nothing about our life escapes His notice and while we are trying to figure it all out, He is behind the scenes working it all out for us because of His great love and concern for us.

Worrying says, “No thanks God, I’d rather do this myself”.

Dr. Phil would say, “how’s that working for you?”

Two choices – cast my cares or keep them – I get to choose.

How about you?  Done any casting lately?

If you would like prayer, I would be happy to pray with and for you, let me know. K?

 

 

pic credit:  first-nature.com

 

 

Hello, It’s God Calling!

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I pushed the snooze button twice this morning. I don’t usually do that. But this morning, my bed was far more comfortable than usual, my pain level (normally an 8) was down to maybe 2 and the blankets were warm and the air coming in the window over my head was cool and it felt so right. Because of pain, bed is not always a comfortable place to be, but today it was all that.

I spent the time in quiet prayer. Just talking to God about nothing in particular, just whatever crossed my mind. Little kids at work come and sit in my lap and talk and talk about whatever is on their mind and this felt like that, like I was snuggling up in God’s lap and He was patiently listening.

For days leading up to this, I sensed a quiet cry in my heart to be comforted. I wanted desperately to be held and hugged. I never expressed my desire to be hugged to anyone, not even God, but of course, He knew.

When I did get up and read my devotional, this is what I read:

“Real worship is not mechanical or rote, nor is it habit or tradition. It is our inner response to the deepest callings of God on our lives”.

  James A. Davey

I have always thought of God’s callings as being something He draws us to so that we can do something for Him -ministry being one example. Being a performance oriented person, I never thought of God calling me just to comfort me.

What if these stirrings in my heart for the past few days were just that – God calling me to Himself?

At work, I make myself available to the kids that need snuggle time. I find a comfy chair, sit down and open my arms and invite them in. God makes Himself available to us as well, we just have to accept His offer to snuggle.

If, as Davey says, snuggling up in God’s lap and allowing Him to comfort me and hold me might  be my response to a deep calling of God, then snuggling with Him could be a form of worship.

If I view snuggling  that way, maybe approaching His open arms would come easier.

What about you?  Have you snuggled with God lately?

 

 

 

pic credit: comicbookfx.com

Live, Really Live!

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Dear friend, listen well to my words;

    tune your ears to my voice.

Keep my message in plain view at all times.

    Concentrate! Learn it by heart!

Those who discover these words live, really live;

    body and soul, they’re bursting with health.

Proverbs 4:20-22

I wonder is that true, that most people just exist?

Do I live, really live or just exist?

Do I just go through the motions day after day?

Could I use these words to describe my life – rut, mundane, daily grind, humdrum, routine?

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Book shelves abound with self-help books. No shortage of people willing to tell us how to live the life we have dreamed of; knowledge does indeed abound. I have read a number of them. I have them dogged-eared and highlighted and sitting on my book shelf. But truth be told, once they are put back on the shelf and life goes on, I am still me, still just going through motions more times than I would like.

Many may consider the Bible to be just another book, full of wise words, but once read, placed back on the shelf, forgotten and gathering dust. This verse from Proverbs, written by the wisest man, Solomon tells us that though that the Bible offers something the self-help books can’t. Words that bring life and health to all areas of my life – and yours.

Self-help books give us snippets of wisdom but they all require self-effort. How many of you know that self-effort is a recipe at times for disaster?

God’s word, however enters our heart with God’s power to perform what He sent it for, which is healing and bringing health to our body and our soul (our mind, our will and our emotions). All that we have to do is take the medicine He offers, apply it to our lives daily (maybe even minute by minute) and let the love and the power of God bring wholeness to our lives through those words.

God’s word applied daily may not change our circumstances, though it might. More likely though, His word will change our thoughts and our heart so that regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves, we can have peace and joy and a body and soul bursting with health.  That’s good news, isn’t it?

 

Psalm
pic credit: fengshuidana.com

Siege Mounds

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Behold, the siege mounds have come up to the city to take it…

Jeremiah 32:24

Walls were built around the cities in ancient times. Walls that were designed to keep the people safe from enemy invaders. Walls that probably gave them a sense of security until the day they noticed that their enemy was building up mounds of dirt along the wall to enable them to get over it. Can you imagine sitting inside this wall and hearing the report that the enemy was advancing and preparing to cover over the wall?  Can you imagine the fear and dread that that would have produced in those people?

Siege mounds came up against our family. We were doing just fine, believing all was well and then a bucket of dirt landed outside of our wall, beginning the process of destroying our sense of security. The first dirt to land was a diagnosis of cancer, not just in my husband but my daughter as well. The biopsies were done on the same day.  The next bucket load of dirt was a water pump that went out on my van, then the brakes, then a delay in payment from disability insurance, then the company my husband works for informed he they would not pay his insurance premiums during his time off from cancer treatment, then bills started stacking up.  One bucket load of dirt after another. I saw the walls we had built for security becoming smaller and smaller while the dirt mounds became bigger and bigger.

As the Israelites watched the siege mounds grow bigger and bigger, Jeremiah the prophet, turns to God imploringly and do you know what God said?

He said, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too difficult for Me?”

I think He would say the same thing to me today.

Are the siege mounds stacking up against you?

Does it seem hopeless?

Are you watching all your plans and hopes go down the drain and feel helpless to stop any of it?

I think God would say the same thing to you to today –

“Is there anything too difficult for Me?”

The people in this story of the Bible go through difficult times, the wall is penetrated and the enemy does indeed take over the city. But through it all, God was faithful and the last thing He said to them at the close of this chapter was, “I will restore their fortunes”.

I used to believe healing meant not going through something, just being delivered from it. And sometimes, that is how God works, but sometimes, He allows the hardship to be something we go through. It doesn’t change His love for us or His compassion or His faithfulness to us when He allows these things to be a part of our lives. He hasn’t turned away, He hasn’t forgotten us, He isn’t punishing us, He ignoring our cries and in the end, He promises restoration.

That first bucket load of dirt was overwhelming and I felt so powerless. Like, Jeremiah, I have no where else to turn but to You, Lord. You are the God of all flesh and I believe nothing is too difficult for You. You know how much I would rather see You just remove the cancer from my loved ones, but I am grateful that Your path of healing for them leads them to restoration. I trust You to work that in their lives. I pray for them that as they see the dirt mounds growing higher, that they would lean closer into You and see Your power at work in their lives for their good and Your glory, in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Foregone Conclusion?

Chloe and pups

 

Puppies were born last night, 9 of them. Puppy number 6 was different from the beginning. He was tiny, about 1/3 the size of the others and clearly underdeveloped. Dogs can conceive puppies several days apart and this is what apparently had happened. His litter mates were ready to be born, but he was not. Ready or not, he arrived.

I looked him over and found no defects, he is perfectly formed, just days younger than would have been better for him at birth. I reasoned out what to do. From my experiences, this dog did not have a very good chance of survival. Odds were, mom would reject pup and pup would not have nursing reflexes. Both of which meant that I would be feeding the pup and keeping it warm for who know how long. I don’t mind doing that; I just have never been successful at that. After many hours of heart-breaking attempts, the pup would simply slip away. I considered that it might be better for the pup, if I accept that now and find a way to humanely end his ordeal.

This was my thinking until the Holy Spirit interrupted my thoughts with this verse:

 And you shall again obey the Lord, and observe all His commandments which I command you today. Then the Lord your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand…

Deuteronomy 30:8

This promise assures me that as I obey and follow God (which thankfully because of Jesus, I don’t have to do perfectly), I can expect God to prosper the work of my hand.

I decided to put my hand to the puppy in faith that God would keep His word. I spoke words of life and healing over him, I warmed him up, dried him off, offered him formula and encouraged him to nurse. None of those things, in themselves, offered much hope, but it was all I knew to do while trusting God to do what I couldn’t.

I seriously didn’t expect that puppy to make it through the night, (oh me of little faith!), but he did. He prospered. He is still small, he is still underdeveloped but mom has not rejected him, she has carefully encouraged him to nurse and he has! When he wanders away from the warmth of the litter, she draws him back with her kisses (or licks)  Praise God!

This caused me to wonder how many times, I have been willing to give up on something, thinking that I can see the writing on the wall, I know where this is headed, I may as well bail now? This marriage is over, this child will not respond to me, these bills will never be paid, this career will never take off, I will always be alone, I will never be free of this addiction, why bother any more?

That puppy would have slipped away had the Holy Spirit not reminded me that it is God’s will to prosper what we put our hand to. Did you put your hand to raising that child?  Then expect him to prosper. Did you put your hand to that marriage? Then expect it to prosper. It’s never a foregone conclusion, not when God has the last say.

Thank You, Jesus for making it possible for me to come into the promises of God by Your righteousness and not my own. I am so grateful for Your willingness to do that for me. I know in the grand scheme of things, that this little puppy is just that – a tiny, little puppy and yet, the You prospered him! If you would do that for this tiny little puppy, what wouldn’t you do for me? Help me to remember this when I am tempted to throw in the towel. Help me to keep putting my hand to what You have given me, in faith believing that You will prosper what I hold dear. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

God’s Prescription for Healing

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 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves

and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways,

then I will hear from heaven,

will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  

Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.

For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever,

and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. 

II Chronicles 7:14-16

There it is – God’s prescription for healing. First, recognize that I am called by His name, I am His. Secondly, humble myself. I was real excited when I read this passage this morning. Until the word humble came along. I tripped on that, I had to look it up and then had to repent and have meditated on it all day. Basically, it means to submit to God all that I am in order for Him to be all that He is in my life. Sounds like an exchange that is definitely in my favor, so what’s the snag?

I googled “what does it mean to humble yourself” and found this answer by wfestrock: “I think humility is coming to grips with who and what you really are. A very weak and flawed being who is ever prone to evil and very insecure and fragile and vulnerable in ten thousand ways. If you could see the truth, humility would come very naturally.  When you humble yourself, you are beginning to see things as they really are”.

I read all kinds of other more sophisticated answers from Bible scholars but this one struck a nerve with me. I have felt so vulnerable lately as more and more, God shows me the weak and flawed aspects of me, aspects I would rather just not deal with. But I do want to healed of this chronic pain and arthritis, and so, I find myself in a conundrum. Go all the way for this healing, humble myself, own up to my flaws and insecurities and yuck and begin the process of unloading all that and be one step closer to healed or leave all this alone and look for another path. Problem is, there is no other path, this is the path God is leading me on.

I realized this morning, that I am the land God desires to heal. You are the land He desires to heal. The healing might just take a different path that the one I started on. God is a holistic healer and He, apparently, is not willing to simply heal my body without healing the rest of me.

The big help in all of this is His promise that if I will humble myself and pray and seek His face and turn from my ways that don’t honor Him, He will forgive me and heal me and His eyes and His ears will be upon me perpetually. What have I got to lose?

Gracious, heavenly Father, I submit to Your plan and Your purposes for my life, even Your pathway for this healing to manifest fully. Forgive me for all the times I have tried to have it my way, to do things the way that seems expedient to me, easiest to me, least painful to me when You have a more complete view of healing than I ever could have. Grant me the grace to humble myself and seek Your face and pray and please keep Your eyes and ears on me perpetually. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

picture credit: wmconnection.BlogSpot.com

Solid Rock

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My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.

We have been singing this old hymn at church lately and it’s a good thing for me that we have. With these reports from the doctors coming in about the possible cancer in my husband’s body, I found myself getting into despair when the report was bad and feeling relief and optimistic when the report was less than bad. Singing this song made me realize the error there. My hope, my faith needs to be built on what Jesus did for me, what He did for my husband and for you. He took ALL our diseases. Can I say that again?  He took ALL our diseases, even cancer.

When I look too much to the doctors’ reports I can be up one minute and down another. That’s not faith. Faith is standing; standing on the promises of God. The God who will never leave or forsake me or you, the God who sent His son so we could be free of all the shame and guilt associated with our failings, the God who made His will known by having Jesus heal all who came to Him. His report is the report I place my faith on, His report is what I lean on and His finished work in Jesus Christ is what I gaze upon. All other ground is sinking sand.

Jesus, thank You, for being my solid rock, my strong tower, my safe place in a world that sometimes seems anything but safe. Regardless of the doctors’ reports, Your word prevails in Bruce’s life and I am so grateful for that. Thank You for being the first word and the last word and all the words in between. Have Your way in our lives, I ask in Your mighty name, Amen.

picture credit: creativecommunications.com

Yet I Will Rejoice

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Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the

olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen,

and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my

Savior.

Habakkuk 3: 17:18

I thought today I would just share the words to this song by Shannon J. Wexelberg

 

 When the world is up against me

When it seems I’ve lost it all

And my back’s against the wall

When my heart’s grown dry and empty

When the life that I had planned

Is slipping through my hands

I hear sweet music rise above it all

And when it seemed my hope had ended, I was wrong

I have a song

And I’m singing to my Savior

Singing to the One who set me free

I have a song

And my heart will ever praise Him

This world can never take this joy from me

When all else is gone

I have a song

When I cannot see tomorrow

When the questions flood my mind

Looking back on wasted time

When my soul is full of sorrow

When the pain won’t go away

And such brokenness remains

I join the music rising far above it all

It’s an anthem to my true and faithful God

I sing because I’m happy

I sing because I’m free

For His eye is on the sparrow

And I know He watches me!

 

Lord, You know the things that have come against my family members. You know the sleepless nights this has caused, the tears that have been shed, the anger that has risen over this and the questions that flood their minds. But, You Lord, also know the outcome of these diagnoses, You are constantly watching over them, rising with healing in Your wings over them. Would You cause a new song to rise up in them, a song of freedom, a song of praise to You, a song of joy? You are their Great Physician, their Healer God, their Jehovah Rapha, You took the stripes that brought their healing and I praise You, I thank You for what You are doing in their lives even now. Thank You for their new song, Amen.

picture credit: dreamstime.com