Enjoy the Ride! Or Not!

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I grew up fascinated with horses; I grew up in Houston. The two did not go together too well. No matter how much I pleaded, I just could not have a horse. So my mother did the next best thing. She drove me faithfully, every Saturday morning, 45 minutes one way to Westheimer Stables where I rented a horse for one hour.  Every week it was the same, the horse plodded away from the barn at a rate that would make a sloth jealous.  No matter how much prodding I did,  no matter how hard I kicked, I could never get them to break into a trot leaving the barn. I took, what seemed to me , like forever to get anywhere.  Every week, I hoped, this would be the Saturday I was successful in getting the horse to go even a little bit faster. Every week, I failed.

Returning to the barn,  however, was totally different. What took 50 minutes to cover at a walk, now took 10 to cover at a gallop.  No matter how hard I tried, I could never get them to do anything less than all out gallop. I grew to love that part. It only lasted a few minutes but it was the highlight of my week (once I got over being scared).

Looking back, I can’t help but wonder about what seems so obvious now. Why spend so much time trying to change something I couldn’t change? Why not instead, sit back and relax and enjoy the slow, seemingly tedious walk away from the stables. If I had, maybe that part of the ride wouldn’t seem so frustrating.  Maybe with a little practice, I would have noticed enjoyable things along the way  – the sun on my face, the rhythm of the horse, the wonderful sound of hooves on the ground.  Who knows what wonders I missed? Those rides took place nearly 45 years ago and yet, I can remember them like they were yesterday. I remember thinking that if I did something different this week, the horse would respond better. And when every attempt of mine failed, I remember thinking that it was my fault. Weird, right? I mean these are rental horses who do this daily over and over and over again like robots. But I wanted my ride to be different and when it wasn’t I felt like I failed.

That theme replays over and over again in my life – trying to change what isn’t mine to change and letting the failure of those attempts lessen my belief in me. If there is a lesson in the rental horses, it should be just this – if I truly employed the message of the Serenity prayer, I could sit back and enjoy the ride cherishing the parts I like without letting the parts I don’t like steal too much from me.  I can only change what is within my power to change and rest in the fact that God can take care of the remainders.  And prayerfully, with God’s grace, it won’t take me 45 years to know the difference.

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pic credit: besthorsesupplies.com

pic credit: whiskedawaykenya.com

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Detour Ahead

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For I believe God.

Acts 27:25

It should be easy: getting from point A to point B. It should be, but we all know it isn’t always so easy. Detours happen. Unannounced, undeserved, unplanned, unwarranted. It happened to Paul and the people on board the ship with him when they encountered a storm so terrible it “blotted out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone”. The crew had been so worried that they hadn’t eaten in two weeks.

Ever been there? Ever had something come against you that left you so shaken that even food lost its appeal? When your stomach was so twisted in knots that you couldn’t have eaten even if you wanted? I have. I experienced that recently when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Some days, it was easy to remember the promises of God and other days, well, not so easy. But always, I had that choice – believe God or believe the doctor’s reports. We all have that choice to make when, in our travels, we encounter a detour. It could be a storm, or cancer, or a horrible diagnosis, or the hurting words of a spouse or a parent, or the evidence of addiction, or the dwindling bank account. It could be undefined, unmanageable fear. Whatever the storm, God has your life in His hands. He didn’t orchestrate the storm for you, or because of you, but He is in control and brings His promises to our hearts in the right time, if we are listening.

Paul was listening and chose to believe God and he was able to encourage the others to believe as well. And God delivered them safely. As He will you and me and our loved ones. Can you believe that?

Father, I am ashamed at how much fear that word cancer could strike in my heart. If the word wasn’t enough there were the reports of the specialists, each one getting rougher and rougher to listen to. Each one making the detour longer and longer,   but I believe You. You have promised to be our Healer, our Helper, our Hope and I am hanging on to You and Your word through this detour. Help me to believe, help me to continually make the choice to hang on to You and Your word, I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

picture credit: ribike.org

Not This Mountain- Again?!

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When Pharoah let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.

For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt’

Exodus 13:17

I have been told it could have been a 10 day journey at the most, leaving Egypt and heading to the Promised Land.  But it ended up taking 40 years. The only reason I can see is that their thinking had to change and it took a very long time for that to happen. They had to have time to learn God’s ways and to learn to trust in His word.  God knew that taking them too quickly through the wilderness would only cause great fear and perhaps they would retreat when they encountered opposition.

I wonder how many of the 14 years I have been in pain were only because I couldn’t get my thinking to line up with God’s. Would this journey have been reduced to something measured in days or months instead of years?

When I was 19, I was diagnosed with arthritis. Not knowing any better, I accepted that diagnosis and didn’t spend time expecting it to go away. Even after becoming a Christian and learning about divine healing and having received some miraculous healings in my life, I still didn’t address the arthritis as something that had no place in my life. It was so much a part of my life and I just thought I would live with it as I had always done. Kind of a captive mentality.  I see it differently now.

The purpose of leading the Israelites out of Egypt wasn’t just to get them out, it was to get them in. In to all the promises God had laid out for them, hence, the Promised Land. It isn’t enough to leave a captive situation we must also learn to walk in the freedom, all the freedom God has for us. Freedom His Son, Jesus paid for.  Arthritis is a form of captivity, one God never intended for me to live in, but to come out of that captivity, I have to have a new mindset about it. I have to see the promises of God as they pertain to disease and joint deterioration and such. I have to reject that diagnosis given me so many years ago and embrace a new diagnosis – one given by God, that Jesus paid it all, took it all, and arthritis is among the all that I have been freed from.

Father God, I am ashamed of how long I have just accepted this captivity. I have wandered in the wilderness for so long, not realizing that it may very well be my mindset keeping me there. How I long to enter Your Promised Land, to be set free from the pain and limitations of arthritis. Help me to line my thinking up with Yours and to speak words that line up with Yours, help my unbelief and help me to inherit the promises You have provided for me. I ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Misplaced Hope

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Those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame.

Isaiah 49:23

Over the years, I have put my hope in a number of things that let me down. I used to spend time hoping I could make the grades my parents needed to see me and not my lacking and still accept me. That hope didn’t pan out.

I spent 23 years hoping the man I called my husband would love me and our daughters enough to come home to us. Every night I would make big, family dinners, set it out on the table in hope that he would be there and join us for dinner and spend the evening with us. Almost every night, when I cleaned up the table and the dishes, I would feel a great deal of shame. Shame that I had hoped once again; shame that I couldn’t change the situation. When would I stop hoping for the impossible? He would promise to come home the next night and the next but seldom was he able to keep those promises.  Between the making of the promise and the breaking of the promise was a hard day at work and a bar called the Rainbow.

I have heard it said that hope makes the heart grow fonder, but I don’t get that. Perhaps, if the hope had been placed properly that would be true. But misplace hope makes the heart grow bitter – at least, that’s what it did for me.

I wish I had turned to God more during those times. I wish my hope had been more securely placed on God’s word and not on a man who couldn’t keep a promise.

Greater than the shame of continuing to have my hopes dashed by an man who would not keep his promises to his family was the shame of knowing that if I had placed my hope only on God’s word, on His character, on His love, maybe, just maybe, healing would have come sooner for all of us.

I can’t go back and change that or anything for that matter, I can only today and every day from now on, place my hope in the One True God, the One who never breaks a promise and never brings me shame. To my family, I say I am sorry, please forgive me.

Lord, forgive me for all the times I have placed my hope in other people. Hope that should have been placed only in You. Would You bring Your healing to my family and my ex and restore to them for the years the locust have eaten?  Would You minister to their deepest point of need and kindle a spark of hope in them where bitterness may reside? Thank You for being a solid, secure place for me to dwell. Love on my family, would You please and where there needs to be forgiveness, would You start that process?  In the name of my Savior, Amen.

He Is Faithful

He is faithful, He is glorious,
He is Jesus, and all my hope is in Him
He is freedom, He is healing right now,
He is hope and joy, love and peace and life

These words from the song He Is Faithful by Jesus Culture were running through my mind when I woke up this morning. I am really grateful for that because pain was running through my body. Every step I take is painful. Laying down is painful, typing is painful.

But, He is faithful. Faithful to His word, faithful to His plans and purposes in our lives; He watches over His word to perform it in our lives. His word says I am healed by the stripes of Jesus, that He sent His word and healed my diseases. He says He is Jehovah Rapha the God who heals me and that healing is the children’s bread. His children, you, me and your loved ones.

God is faithful to His character as well. Malachi 3:6 says, “I the Lord do not change”. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can count on His faithfulness to His character. When Jesus walked on the earth, He made it plain that He was the perfect representative of God. He did the Father’s will, always. And what did Jesus do? He healed the sick, He made blind eyes open, He made lame legs walk, He made the dead rise to life, He delivered people from demonic possession.

Years ago, when my youngest daughter started kindergarten, I would drive her two miles to school and then pick her up. Everyday, she would remind me to pick her up, don’t forget mom, she would say. I would reassure her and then be very careful to not be late even by a minute or two. I thought she would soon outgrow this when I had proved my faithfulness, but she didn’t. This pattern of her reminding me continued daily until she was in third grade. Not once did I forget her, not once was I even late, but she continued to need that daily reassurance. Then one day, she didn’t remind me; she knew I’d be there.

God has proven His faithfulness. His story beginning in Genesis and continuing on through Revelations is a chronicle of His faithfulness and yet, we still need more reassurances. What about the things He has done in our lives personally? Has He been faithful? Can we count on Him to continue to be faithful to His word and His character? What was cute and maybe even to be expected in my kindergartener just starting school was no longer cute as time continued. I expected her to trust my faithfulness based on my track record. I think God expects us to do the same – trust Him based on His track record.

Father, thank You for proving Your faithfulness to me over and over and over again. Your story tells me of Your great love and compassion for Your people and yet at times, I still need reassurances. Thank You for being faithful especially when I am not. Thank You for providing for my healing, my freedom from this pain. Thank You that Your plans, Your perfect will is being worked out in me even now. Amen.