Sunday, September 11, 2016

Peace When Your World Unravels

It all began with a negative thought no more significant than a tiny thread. But in the same way that a whole garment can become unraveled by pulling on a loose thread, my world felt like it was being ripped apart. Insignificant worries gave way to significant worries. My lack of control over personal concerns deepened into a world that felt as if it was spinning out of control.

I wanted and needed to change the direction of my thoughts, so I closed my physical eyes and opened the eyes of my spirit. I chose to meditate on the One who made everything; who stretched out the heavens by Himself; who alone spread out the earth. I found comfort in the God who established the earth and fixed its dimensions. I found rest in the strength of the One who supports the foundations of the earth. The God who laid the cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy!

My mind and soul and spirit was bathed in the light of His majesty and splendor. There was no room for any other thought as I meditated on the God who measured the waters in the hollow of His hand and marked off the heavens with the span of His hand. He brings out the starry hosts by number; He calls all of them by name. Because of His great power and strength, not one of them is missing. He is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth, and He knows my name.

This is the same God to whom wisdom and power belongs. He is able to change times and seasons; He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals the deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him. Though He is the Almighty Lord of the Universe, He is also a loving Father. Even as a father stoops down to hear the voice of his child, in the same way my heavenly father has invited me to pour out my heart to Him in  prayer.

I know that sometimes the earth trembles and that there have been times when the mountains have toppled into the depths of the sea. The waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil. Nations rage, kingdoms topple; and war brings devastation to the earth. It is in times like these when my world seems to be unraveling that I hear the voice of the Spirit speak to my spirit, "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be your refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Do not be afraid."

Job 38, Isaiah 40, Daniel 2, Psalm 46

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Lost Power Cord

"I can't find the power cord!" With those words of panic a cyclone hit my home. It was a rapidly rotating storm with strong emotional winds.

The power cord had been attached to my computer but somehow the two had ended up in different parts of the house. The homework was about to be lost because the battery was dying. If we didn't find the power cord we wouldn't be able to print the work that had been done and all would be lost! Frantic energy was produced by the panic and I watched as my grandson ran from one room to another in a whirl of emotion. I found myself caught up in the intensity of the storm.

Earlier that day I had told my grandson how God had revealed a mystery to Daniel. I had explained to Jack how Daniel had prayed to God seeking understanding that only God could give him. When God answered Daniel's prayers Daniel had praised God by saying, "He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals the deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him." (Daniel 2:21-23) I had told my grandson that we had access to the same God Daniel did, yet when we couldn't find the power cord I panicked.

In the midst of the crazy I prayed a simple prayer,"Help!" Next, I went to my grandson and reminded him of what we had read that morning. I asked if he would join me in asking the God who reveals the deep and hidden things to show us where the power cord was. To be honest, I was a little nervous. Did I really believe that God cared about such a small matter?

Jack and I prayed together. Then we stood for a few minutes in silence and Jack said, "I think Uncle Dave took the cord." He went onto explain that the last time he'd seen the cord it had been on the same table as Uncle Dave's computer. He thought perhaps Uncle Dave had gathered up my cord when he left.

We found out later that day that Jack was right. We didn't get the cord in time to print off his homework. However, the emotional storm was abated when we experienced the truth that we really do have access to a merciful God who reveals mysteries.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Fifty Years

I did the math and was surprised to see that it's been fifty years. I can remember so vividly the afternoon that I told my mother I wanted to have more faith. She didn't even hesitate, she simply told me that if I wanted to have more faith I could find it by reading God's word.

The next morning at 5 a.m. my mother came quietly into my room without even turning on a light. She whispered into my ear,"If you want to have more faith, get up." Then she tiptoed out. My eyes opened and the battle began. My first prayer of the morning was, "God, help me! My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak!" Finally, after praying that prayer several times, I rolled onto the floor and crawled out of my room.

One thing I know for sure, I would have never gotten out of bed that morning if God hadn't answered the desperate prayer of a sleepy thirteen year old girl. But there is another thing I've learned after fifty years of reading through the Bible. It's God who initiates a relationship. In the Old Testament I read, "For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him" (2 Chronicles 16:9). In the New Testament I read that the Father is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.

I confess that over the last fifty years there have been seasons where is was more difficult to respond to God's invitation to know Him than others. When my children were babies and sleep was rare, sometimes I would hold onto a verse. A verse was all my tired brain could grasp. But even a verse when it is lit by God's glory can illumine the darkness.

You would think that reading the same book over and over for fifty years would get old, but it's just the opposite. Every morning I find myself waking with a sense of anticipation. I open God's word and feed my soul and spirit with bread from heaven. I quench my thirst with living water. He wakes me morning by morning and opens my ear like one who is being taught.

I have been wanting to share this ever since I realized that it's been fifty years since that first morning I crawled out of my bedroom begging God to help me. God does the pursuing, but we have the choice to respond to Him or not. I am so grateful that He not only gave me the desire for more faith but also heard my cry for help. He understood that my spirit was willing and that my flesh was weak.

Friday, August 5, 2016

I Can See

I am often asked if I can see with my right eye. Before responding I close my left eye and and check. Then I smile and say, yes.

I went for three months after my surgery unable to close my right eye because my face was paralyzed.  It was a miserable experience because my eye refused to close even when I taped it .The only relief I could get was to wear a patch.  The eye doctor finally told me that if I didn't do something in the next two weeks I would loose my vision permanently in that eye.

A couple of nights later I woke up and found that I was unable to see anything with that eye. I felt panic rising up in me. The taste of fear made me physically sick. I felt small, alone and afraid.  My prayer was short but desperate, "Please, please Lord, don't take my vision!" I had nothing else to say and fell asleep still unable to see.

The next morning I opened my eye and I could see.  The terror of the night before had been replaced by a deep sense of gratitude.  In the midst of my struggle I knew that the Lord was near. He had not been deaf to my cry for help.  The answer to that prayer was like a light shining in the darkness to help me find a path to joy.

Sometimes it's a battle not to be depressed, but when I find myself starting to go in that direction I close my left eye and let the vision in my right eye show me the truth. I have found that gratitude can heal the blindness of sorrow and help you see a pathway to peace.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

God has Placed Our Tears His Bottle

This past year has been really hard. This month has been particularly hard because I've been discovering some of the permanent ways my brain surgery has altered me. I knew that my right auditory nerve was severed during surgery and that I would no longer be able to hear anything out of that ear. But somehow I missed the fact that my balance nerve was also severed. The right side of my face was completely paralyzed for several months. Although the paralysis was not permanent, the trauma to my face caused a mis-wiring of my facial nerves. The mis-wiring is permanent. But one of the biggest things I'm struggling with is how to honestly process all these changes.

I don't want to be overly righteous and act as if I am not grieving a loss, but on the other hand I don't want to try to keep the spotlight on poor me. What I want to do is to be honest and vulnerable about who I am. This is the pattern I see in the Psalms when the psalmist is honest about his struggles and then points to the true source of comfort.

Psalm 56:8 says, "Record my misery; put my tears in your bottle--are they not in your record?" Then the psalmist goes on to say, "This I know: God is with me." I know without a doubt that I am not alone in my struggles; but the reason I want to share them is because ultimately I want to share the comfort of knowing that no hurt, no grief that we suffer is wasted or goes unnoticed by our heavenly father.

During my lifetime I have experienced an abundance of God's blessing, but these blessings have all been placed in a clay jar. More and more over the years this clay jar has begun to show the wear and tear of time. My prayer is that as this clay jar begins to be broken what is inside would become more visible. 

When I was younger I had dreams of the great things I wanted to do for God. Today I pray that His strength might be seen in my weakness. I pray that as I decrease He would increase. I also pray that I will be able to comfort others with the comfort I have received. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Rejoicing in the Storm

I stepped out onto my porch and looked up into the thick darkness of the storm. It was a darkness that I not only saw but felt. Suddenly the heavens resounded with the crashing, booming sound of thunder. Then lightning lit up the world. The wind was so strong it caused the trees to bow. There was power in the storm. But instead of frightening me, the storm caused me to feel a deep sense of peace.

This has been a tumultuous year for me. I have often felt like I was in the middle of a powerful storm. In contrast to its power, I have felt my own vulnerability. At the height of the storm I sought and found refuge in the shelter of the Almighty. The darkness, the booming voice of the thunder, the bright flashes of lightning, caused me to flee for refuge and find strong encouragement to seize the hope that was set before me. As the storm raged around me, I found that my soul had found a sure and firm anchor.

When I am in a safe place, the the sounds of a storm around are transformed from frightening sounds into peaceful sounds. I am reminded of what Job said, "Listen carefully to the thunder of God's voice as it rolls from his mouth." The lightning that illumines the darkness comes at the Almighty's command. From my place of refuge I see the storms in my life as a display of His power.

I have learned to rejoice in the storms because by faith I can see the power of God at work. Sheltered by His love I have learned to endure the stormy nights that seemed to never end. I also found that as I sought refuge in His presence I have been changed. Experiencing God while the wind howled and the rain came relentlessly, my hope grew.

I have not been disappointed by hope because even as the heavens pour out rain I have felt the love of God being poured out into my heart. In the midst of the storm I have encounter the power of the Holy Spirit of God. So, as I see the dark clouds gather and I begin to hear again the rumbling voice of the thunder I smile, because it reminds me of the almighty power of the God who loves me and who is the Lord of the storm.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

From the Womb of the Dawn

Shadows of darkness linger in the sky, but as I take my seat I turn my eyes to the East. From the womb of the dawn a new day issues forth. He awakens me morning by morning and opens my ear like one who is being taught... and so I listen.

As I watch the light overtake the darkness, I see that each drop of dew has encapsulated a rainbow. I breathe deeply the fresh moist air of the morning and let the message of hope bathe my spirit in truth. The same God who wraps Himself with light as with a garment has called me out of darkness into His marvelous light.

The freshness of the morning reminds me that I am invited to let go the burdens of yesterday and instead to humble myself and receive the fresh mercies that are being offered. More faithful than the sunrise is the God that I worship. I find rest for my soul in His compassion that never fails.

Each morning in the light of the newborn day I open His word and worship Him in Spirit and unveiled reality. I commune with my Creator and nourish my soul with the bread of heaven. The events of this day are unknown to me, but not to Him. In worship I take hold of the One who holds yesterday, today and tomorrow in His hands.

In His presence I know a peace that passes understanding. As the sky is transformed from light blue to a deep sapphire, I hear a voice from Heaven say, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the One who is, who was, and who is coming, the Almighty." As I rise to begin my day, I add my voice to the voices of all who believe. "Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!"