Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Mystery

In a time of turmoil. I lift my eyes to the One enthroned in heaven. The curtains of heaven are pulled aside and I see Him, the Ancient of Days. He reveals the deep and hidden things; He alone knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him. He is seated on a throne of flaming fire. A river of fire flows out from His presence. Thousands upon thousands serve Him; ten thousands upon ten thousands stand before Him. In a time of turmoil I lift my eyes to the King of Heaven.

Humbled by His glory, my soul at last finds rest in the presence of the One to whom I give my sole allegiance. He is the God of gods, He is the Lord of kings, He is the revealer of mysteries. The secret things belong to the Lord and yet He in His kindness has chosen to reveal His mysteries in His word.

With the eyes of my flesh I see the instability of the times in which I live. There is great disturbance, confusion and uncertainty. Nature itself seems to be reflecting the disorder I see around me. But when I listen to the thundering voice of the Most High God, I realize the truth. His kingdom is the only eternal kingdom, and He alone has dominion from generation to generation. With Him there is wisdom and power. He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and establishes kings.

The nations with prideful wrath seem to raise their fist to the One who sits enthroned in heaven. In rebellion they take their stand and cry out with one voice, "We are free from Your restraints! You have no power over us!" But the King of Heaven only laughs and ridicules them. He knows the truth. The Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men. He gives it to anyone He wants and sets over it the lowliest of men.

There is more to the mystery that has been revealed. As I open His book I see the vision given to Daniel. I too see One like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. I see Him approaching the Ancient of Days. He has been given authority to rule, and glory, and a kingdom; those of every people, nation, and language will serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed.

I fall to my knees and add my voice of those who cry out, "Even so come now, Lord Jesus!"

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Year Later

It was a hard year. It was a year of change. There were things that I had always taken for granted about my identity that I never thought would change, but they did. For example, last year when I had my brain surgery and my right auditory nerve was severed, I had no idea how isolated I would feel in a crowd. Losing the ability to hear much of what was being said has caused me to often feel alone even when surrounded by people. My severed balance nerve has caused me to feel a vulnerability I've never known before. A certain amount of confidence is lost when you're concerned about losing your balance. The expression to "lose face" means to be humiliated. To have your facial identity altered is hard; even though it has improved, it's still hard. But there are some things that haven't changed.

I remember last year when they rolled the gurney into the operating room. I saw all the people there, all the bright lights. I remember thinking how small the operating table seemed and how I didn't think I should still be conscious. Once I was placed on the operating table the head anesthesiologist began giving instructions about tilting my head back and holding me still. I could feel the panic rising in me. I also remember the prayer I prayed, "Jesus, take me to a place where my faith has no boundaries!"

I have found that a place where faith is without limits is best found when what you believe is tested. When I looked into the mirror shortly after surgery and I didn't recognize my own face I felt sick. My basic sense of identity was stripped away. But I have a deeper identity that I held on to. I found refuge and strength in the God who loves me; who promised to never leave me or forsake me.

When I woke up in the recovery room after surgery I experienced a thirst I had never known before. It was then I had a vision. I have been asked if perhaps it was a drug-induced hallucination; the truth is, I don't know. But what I do know is that what I saw so vividly then has stayed with me every day since. This is what I saw. I saw Jesus crying out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." My physical thirst was maddening, but in coming to Jesus I found the deepest thirst of my soul and spirit quenched.

A year has passed; a year of change, a difficult year, and yet it's also been a year when I have begun to experience a boundless trust empowered by the Spirit of God. The promise I received in the recovery room was not only that my thirst would be satisfied, but that "out of my heart would flow rivers of living water." Because what I saw was based on what I read in the the seventh chapter of John, I believe that it is true. I am grateful that living water can flow from broken vessels.

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.