and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lessons Learned in the Darkness

(The last post- Darkness is important to this one.)

       As most of my childhood life I was very shy, I became an observer of people and life.  None of that changed when I became a Christian, only now I had another group of people to observe and that was ‘professed’ believers in Jesus Christ, because anyone can say it, but do they live it.  One of the biggest lessons I learned is that, as a believer, you should never stop going to church, never, for any reason.  All those who did, even for reasons that seemed logical or right, seemed to quickly get attacked by the enemy, slowly drift away- many never did return to church, and their faith in God vanished.  So it was when I was going through the darkest time of my life that I continued to go to church.  It was my only link left to God.

       Though I didn’t feel Him, He remained with me.  Though I built walls up between us, He never forsook me; instead, the Lord brought people, situations, writings, t.v. programs, a wonderful internet help group, and anything else He thought would help into my life.  Little by little my cold, stony heart toward Him changed, and I began- well honestly, screaming at Him again.  “Why?” “You lied, You said You’d never give more than we could handle, and this is more than I can!” “Why me again?  What did I do?” …

       Eventually the screaming turned to crying, and the crying turned to understanding a few important things in life.  Troubles are a part of life and ‘bad’ and ‘good’ people all go through them (Mt. 5:45; Jh. 16:33^).  Some people will always have more struggles, while others will never seem to have many.  God is sovereign.  That means He is supreme ruler and His will will be accomplished on this earth*.  If He wants to allow me to go through something- even if it is horrible- then I will go through it.  It is my response to the situation- and Him in the midst of it- that reflects on my true nature and heart towards Him.  Obviously I’d proven once again that my heart was not all in and I lacked trust in the Lord BIGtime.

       The biggest thing was that I started talking to the Lord again and not refraining from hard feelings by being utterly honest (even if He already knows!).  The next thing (and most difficult) was accepting that God would allow what He wanted to allow in my life, and though I didn’t have to like it, I had to trust that He knew what was best for me, and if it was best for me to go through trials with Him instead of Him providing a miracle, than so be it.  I also had to trust that He would work everything out for good. (Rom. 8:28) This freed me of a LOT of anxiety and stress.  Finally I realized that I (honest for once) was not fully surrendered to the Lord, and that was my most prevalent problem.  After all my years with Him, I was still trying to control my own future. 

       Accepting He knows best, that trial build character (Rom. 5:3-5) finally believing He loves me dearly and never left me, and knowing that He will walk with me through everything I ultimately surrendered all of me (said with trepidation hoping it is finally true!)  Suddenly, I found the smaller things bouncing off of me instead of bringing me down.  I began to see a small ray of hope for the future and grabbed hold of Jesus more tightly.  I gave all of our physical lives to the Lord accepting that He was in charge of if we live or die.  Freedom in my spirit returned one tiny bit at a time.  I began to thank God in (not for) everything, even in the miserable trial- that He never left me, that He loved me, that I knew He would get me through.  Trust began again- this time real trust.

       A few months later the Lord did provide a miracle in the way of science, and my life changed forever.  Were all my trials over?  Nope.  Three months later I was diagnosed with cancer- and you know what happens after that!  This time though, I knew the Lord was with me for strength (Php. 4:13) and comfort (2Cor. 1:3,4), loved me, would help me, gave me great hope for my future, and the peace through it was indescribable.  It took a few years to get over the PTSD and one of the hardest things to ‘deep down heart believe’ again was that God would do good things for me, but eventually it all worked out.  I’m not perfect, but I never want to go back to being that person I was- especially concerning surrender and trust.

       Maybe you’ve never been through something so tough.  Maybe you are in the middle of it right now.  Just know that the Lord is with you no matter how it looks or feels.  He will never leave you (Heb. 13:5) and what He did for me, He will do for you.  Consider surrendering completely, for He will take you through each step of the way (Jos. 1:9) if you will let Him.  Really, I’m living proof of this.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him,
and he shall direct thy paths.
Pr. 3:5,6

^1Pt. 4:12  Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange
   thing happened unto you:
*Ps. 135:6  Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he… 
  Eph. 1:11  …who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
  Is. 46:10  Declaring the end from the beginning, …My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Friday, November 23, 2012


       It was a scary place; the darkness enveloped me until it felt tangible, like it moved with me whenever I moved.  I didn’t know how I got in that place, but something ominous was hanging in the barely breathable air.  Someone was out there; someone who didn’t like me.  I could feel their eyes boring into my back like they thought I was a disease.  Trying to find my way in the darkness was the toughest thing I’d have to do, and I was all alone to do it.

       All alone in a dark place- a dark, forbidding place.  Terrified to move, but terrified to stay.  Wondering if I was going to make it out alive.  Fear.  Struggling to breathe.  Lord, where are You?  I can’t breathe.  I can’t feel you here.  Why have you abandoned me?  Alone.  I am so alone- and terrified of staying in this horrible place, of never getting out.  Lord, why don’t You help me?

       Not a dream.  Wish it was a dream, but it’s actually my waking life, the life I wake up to every day, never knowing if I will survive, if my loved ones will survive.  Day after day, year after year, seemingly unending.  Will this anguish never end?  Misery.

       There was a time in my past where this was the way I saw my life and felt things were.  Do you wonder if it was really that bad?  In all seriousness, I didn’t know if we would literally survive (and for years after the trauma, I suffered from PTSD).  What do you do when the struggles and sorrows of life envelope you, bringing you down into darkness and despair?  Can Christians get that low?  I’ve seen first hand just how low a Christian can go.  Though I can’t answer why God allows certain things in our lives, I can answer why I sunk so deep in misery.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.  Ps. 23 NKJV

       In hindsight, there are a few important things that I forgot.  The wear and tear on my life was so constant, that I didn’t remember all the good things God did for me in the past (v.1-3).  At some point I stopped trusting that He would get me (lead me v.3) through the ‘valley of the shadow of death.  I also lived believing my feelings as if they were true- if I couldn’t feel God, then He wasn’t there, right?  Though I wasn’t walking alone, it sure felt like it.  That caused me to resent Him, get angry and eventually pull myself away from Him.  The Lord remained with me, but the wall I built between us kept me from finding comfort in His arms.

       Without relying on God, I lost hope that victory would come, that His presence (anointing) could still be with or overflow me (v.5) and because I had listened to lies already, ultimately believed God’s mercy and goodness were never to be mine again.  I felt lost to God forever.  Life was miserable, and I thought it would never improve.  Each day was a struggle to wake up and breathe.  Each day was a fight just to get out of bed and face the day- anticipating new misery on the way.

Yet, God was there (and still working)  I just didn’t know it!

(Tomorrow's post will be lessons learned from this darkness.)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Five Friends- A Story

       Five boys were neighbors in a subdivision of the small town of Jof.  They were friends since they were 4 yrs old, and did everything together: played soccer, learned to swim, went fishing, celebrated holidays, and spent hours together in their back yards on overnight adventures many times over the years.  All five became teens around the same time, found girlfriends then decent jobs, got married, and started families.  About three decades after their friendships began, they still lived fairly close and spent as many social hours together as their busy lives allowed.

       The five of them sat around a bonfire late one night laughing over memories of their youth when suddenly one of them-Sam- started twitching.  Thinking it was a joke, the others started teasing him until he fell onto the cold, hard ground violently shaking.  They called 911 for an ambulance, and spent the rest of the night in the hospital with his wife waiting to find out what was wrong with their buddy.

       They made phone calls, prayed, told stories about Sam but the worry lines were etched on their faces.  Hours later the doctor told them it was bad; Sam had unexplainable paralysis from the neck down.  At first everyone seemed hopeful that the problem would resolve itself somehow, but days turned to weeks then years and there seemed no hope.  Four buddies watched as their best friend struggled in life and his body wasted away.  Nothing would ever be the same again.

       It was ten years later one of the men read in a paper about a ‘faith healer’ coming to a town hours away.  They discussed, debated and then decided to do more investigation.  After a few days and having heard several testimonies about this ‘healer’ from people who saw or experienced healings, the men made plans for a road trip believing this to be Sam’s only hope.  On the day of the meeting, they loaded up him in the van, drove the three hours stopping often for their friend, and got to the meeting only to find the line-ups beyond measure, and this was six hours before the doors would open!  There was no way they would get in.

       The men carried Sam into the nearest diner to figure things out and came up with a plan.  Patiently they waited until the doors were open, the people went in until no more were allowed, and everyone else left.  After checking every door and window latch, two of them took opposing sides and ran around the building to return with good news- there was a fire-escape.  The friends carried Sam, some rope, tools and a cot up to the roof; they used hammers and crowbars to open up a wide hole in the roof and lowered Sam down on a cot to the stage where the ‘healer’ was.  This was one time they didn’t care if they got into trouble- as long as Sam was healed!
       The ‘faith healer’ said to Sam, “Your sins are forgiven.”  All four wondered what this meant, but several in the audience were upset at the words, and so he said, “Arise, pick up your cot and go home.”  Sam got up as if he’d never been paralyzed and raced outside to see his friends where they all rejoiced at God’s healing.

       *       *       *

       By now you realize this story is really one from the Bible, simply altered for our times as I was considering how it would have happened 21st century like. 
                    (Mt. 9:1-7; Mr. 2:1-12; Lk. 5:18-25) 
The ‘faith healer’ was really Jesus who went around teaching and healing wherever He went.  His fame spread and multitudes sought Him out for healing (Lk. 5:15).  The faith of the four (unnamed) friends touched the Lord and He healed the paralyzed man.

       Today I have to wonder how far friends or family would go for someone who was sick, although in this case we can only assume there was a relationship of some kind.  Those four men put themselves and their reputations on the line for someone else.  Would we do the same?  Would we consider the same effort they took in bringing our loved one to a faith healer?  Many don’t even believe miracles are for today.  Even if we did, where would we find the ‘faith healers’ of today?  What do we do with this scripture below?

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me (Jesus), the works (deeds) that I do shall he do also; and greater (in number) works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.  Jh. 14:12-14

Just what do we believe?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Which Way Lord?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Pr. 3:5,6 NKJV

Monday, November 19, 2012

Foggy Glasses

       The drops of water started falling off the visor of my bike helmet as I was riding to church on Sunday.  My purple jacket had beads of water shimmering on the surface, and I was finding it a little difficult to breathe.  There was no rain, only fog hovering around me.  Although when I was at home it looked like it was clearing up, about 1½ km down the path the fog became fairly thick.

       I try to conserve gasoline whenever possible, but this time I was reconsidering my decision to ride.  The path would be fairly safe though because there were bike lanes almost the entire way except for road crossings and a little bit at the end, so I wasn’t really worried about that.  The biggest problem I had was that my glasses fogged up and I couldn’t see sufficiently so I had to take them off- and I don’t usually see things in the distance clearly without them.

       My choice- see well closer, but not so well far away, or leave them on and endure dim vision for the rest of the ride.  At the point I was deciding, there was so much condensation on my glasses that it started forming drops and rolling down the lenses.  Off they came, and I prayed for my safety.  Meanwhile a thought came into my head, “…For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1Cor. 13:12)

       There is a lot said about this scripture in commentaries, but to me it is basically saying that as humans we see only partially and imo it’s talking about everything.  Our mere, finite, human minds cannot comprehend all the complexities of the truth, God and life, therefore we cannot ‘see’ it.  We don’t ‘see’ God as He really is, only how we perceive Him to be or how He is based on what we were told when we were young.  We don’t ‘see’ life or ourselves in the same light the Lord does because we are biased based on our history.  We don’t ‘see’ what is to be because we are influenced by what we want to be, how it should be done, and who all we think should be involved!  It’s like we’re looking at everything with foggy glasses.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.  1Cor. 2:9 

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.  1Jn. 3:2 

       There will come a day when we shall ‘see’ with clear, sharp eyes, and that day is when the Lord returns for us, His people.  In that day, we shall see Him as He really is and not as the image we have of Him in our mind.  Right now, we can only picture how heaven will look and how eternal life will be lived (foggy glasses!) but one day we will be living in it and all will be crystal clear to us.  The more often we take off our foggy glasses now as we sit at the Lord’s feet, the more prepared we will be for what is to come.  Face to face with our Lord:  ‘Then I shall know even as I am known.’

               Thank You Jesus for all You have done.
                      Help me to see clearly everything You need me to see.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Yum… Rice Cakes

       Bet you’re saying, ya, okay (with head shaking), who in their right mind actually enjoys rice cakes.  After all, it’s like eating puffed wheat with a little bit of sugar on it; dull, dull, dull.  I used to be one of those people but after wheat decided it didn’t like me anymore as proven by very terrible (and stinky) effects, I have changed my mind.  They aren’t so bad after all, and if you get the right flavour, they are actually tasty.  In fact, I just polished off three of them as part of my lunch.  Eating them is like living in a make believe world where I can eat bread again!!!

      Our perceptions change over time and circumstances.  When I could eat anything I wanted, warm bread slathered in melted butter was appealing, but with the repercussions of that meal, it not longer interests me.  Before I was born again into Christianity, I would have thought Christians were either fanatics or sourpusses.  It didn’t seem like there were any in betweens.  After being born again, I remember an unbeliever saying Christians don’t have any fun.  At first I was insulted because I had a lot of fun, but then I was a teen.  When I considered the adults, I had to confess that a lot of them didn’t seem to enjoy life.  Ah the perceptions of a teenager!

       Lately, I’ve been thinking back on my own life and how it has changed.  First I believed Christians were dull like rice cakes, and after salvation I thought unbelievers were really like them, but in the end I see that I am the rice cake.  Some people perceive my life as boring, but to me, it is the most exciting time of my life.  My family is relatively healthy and I love them dearly.  I have never felt so good about who I am, who I will be, what God has done, what He continues to do and will do in me.  I feel alive like I never have before and every morning fresh joy and peace fill my heart.

       Does it sound like I am one of those fake- happy all the time people?  Oh, my life is not perfect at all.  Come on, I have two teens right now- enough said on that!  Hubby and I have our relational ups and downs, we both have health issues, our house and vehicles fall apart, just finished 3 ½ years lay off and still getting back on our feet, a mom who needs help, more driving than I like, etc.  Friday brought a dead battery (a call to CAA and waiting time) which meant I had to go home instead of to the store I needed to get to- so I couldn’t buy a particular gift- which meant I had to go out Saturday to complete the shopping- which normally irritates me because it’s a waste of gas when I should have been able to pick it up on Friday!!!

Come... follow Me!
       How can I feel so alive and have joy and peace when so many things fall apart?  One word- nope- one man- Jesus.  He has changed me forever, for in Him is life- abundant life, eternal hope, joy and peace unending, and always- amazing love.  The Lord has delivered me from bondage once again, and “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.(Jh. 8:36)  When I was a teen, I hated life, but now in my 40’s with more fullness in Christ than I ever imagined, I love life and I love the Lord.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  Jh. 14:6
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die 
Jh. 11:25,26
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  Jh. 3:16
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  Jh. 14:27
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.  Ps. 16:11
(Nothing) shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Rom. 8:39

       So call me a rice cake, a fruit cake, or anything else you like, just come join me on the greatest adventure of all- life in the Lord Jesus Christ
amazing, miraculous, abundant life!

I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly.
Jh. 10:10