Thursday, October 7, 2010

Here I Go Again, Pt 2

Continuing on the same theme as the prior post...God's ways are not our ways. And we are to be faithful no matter the difficulty of the road.

Think of the person who faces paralysis every day for the rest of their lives. Think of the person who loses a spouse or a child to death. There are people who struggle every day with a debilitating soul-numbing disease or illness - and they are not taken out of it. While on earth these pains never go away; they endure under them until death.

Boy is it ever hard to walk uprightly while packing along a deficit of some kind. We are sinners living in a sinful world carrying along a sinner's body of ills. We all suffer in that to one degree or another. Mine is hormonal. For someone else it is food and allergy issues. Some have headaches and migraines. Some have debilitating fatigue or body weakness or diabetes or obesity.

The crux of the matter is that none of us are off the hook spiritually as a result. Each and every one is still required by God to be an obedient, upright, faithful, holy follower of Christ. We are still required to be patient, kind, giving, forbearing, serving.... No matter the road. No matter the impediments. No matter the state of our bodies. We are to be faithful to the ----end. Stumbling and tripping and staggering along, but never falling to our ultimate ruin. Never facing utter defeat, for in Christ we are assured of victory and a home in heaven.

We cannot stand before God someday and say, 'Well, I wasn't faithful and obedient, because I had a really bad headache.' We are personally responsible to live for Christ and walk in faithful obedience no matter what. That is definitely hard and next to impossible in our own strength.

Don't compare your walk to someone else's walk. Don't think they've got it easier. Walk the path that is set before you, in confidence and faith in Christ, one trusting step at a time and this will glorify God.

View your deficit as a special gift from God to highlight your utter dependency on Him, a daily reminder of your weakness and His strength. It presses a question upon us: Will we trust God even here in this place of neediness and weakness? We should.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Here I Go Again, Part 1

I've shared in previous posts about my past struggles with depression due to an hormonal imbalance. Well, the scales tipped again this summer, and I found myself back in the shadow lands. Not my favorite place to be.

This time around I already intimately knew the monster of depression, and I didn't want to walk with him again. It was disheartening and discouraging to find myself on a path I had already walked - a path I had already conquered.

I liken it to someone being diagnosed with cancer. They do the chemo, radiation, surgery thing, and then find themselves in years of good health. But then BAM. The cancer is back. I wonder, is it harder, then, to cope with, the second time around? This known monster? Does it feel like been-there done-that and I don't wanna do it again? Is it rather more disheartening to find yourself in the same place that not long ago you walked in courage and victory with special strength from the Lord?

Well, this idea got me to thinking.... The reality of life is this: we face the same trials and tribulations, sometimes over and over and over again. The Israelites faced lack of water and food over and over again; their enemies threatened their very lives dozens of times. And this is not purposeless fate or life bumblings. This is a purposeful path for our spiritual growth and good.

We are not now exempt from a particular trial because we've experienced it before. It would be nice to have a list, and just keep crossing things off. Okay, I've done depression. Check. I've done the lonely thing. Check. I've conquered impatience. Check. My needs have gone unmet. Check. I've embarrassed myself in public. Check. I've dealt with an impossible boss. Check.

On one hand, it can be disheartening to be in a trial again enduring under something you have already suffered. But on the other hand, God has supplied much in the way of tools for you to use this time around, you've learned to apply His word to this trial and temptation. You have prior knowledge and experience and it is meant to under gird you and and girdle-you-up to face it in strength. Not only do you have prior knowledge of this trial - but you have prior knowledge of God's sweet help.

We are not exempt from a particular trial because we have experienced it before. It can be disheartening to be in the same place again, but what do we do? The same - very same - thing as the first time around. We throw ourselves on our Savior. We look to Him as the hope and help of our countenance, as our soul's "uplifter." We read His word faithfully, diligently and regular. And we do not lose heart for the race we are involved in. We are in a race - it is not a fairytale cruise. Hard to remember.

So, you might feel like you got a decent passing grade on the first time this test came around - and why do I have to take it again, but remember that God's ways are not our ways. His ways are higher, deeper, richer. Beyond our ken. We don't have to "get it." We don't have to agree or understand - we just must continue to walk in truth and faithfulness no matter the difficulty of the road. We must be faithful to our task. To the end. That's all.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Genealogical Gem

It has definitely been too long since the last post if I cannot even remember my user name and password. It took me three tries to remember just exactly WHO I am. Most decidedly a hint to post more often!

Remember back to the beginning of summer my goal and heart's desire was to study the gospels and get a closer look at my King's face? It has been a pleasure. Using a synoptic gospel guide that I downloaded from the internet, I have been reading the gospels in event-order, switching back and forth between them as the story and time line progress through Christ's life and mission on earth. And with each pocket-sized event, I take the time to stop and meditate and see what insights the Lord allows. My insights surely aren't 'gospel', but for me they have quickened my love for the word and my love for Jesus.

I want to share a tiny tidbit of my joys along the way - even the hidden treasure in a long genealogy. Matthew 1:1 says, "A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ..."

Jesus has a genealogy. He was born into humankind - became a man. That may seem obvious, but stop and really think about that. He entered history in a specific time and in a specific line of men, as foretold and promised by God to both King David and Abraham.

Jesus' family line has evil men and kings as well as good kings. It includes a murderer, a prostitute, faithful God-followers, worshipers of idols, the disobedient as well as the faithful - just like any human genealogy.

Just like prophesied, He came and entered history at just the right moment. At just the right point in that list of human beings. It was foretold. It was promised. It was looked forward to in faith and hope. And He came. He really did.

Isaiah predicted, "For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."

What a Savior!

Randy Alcorn said this: Because the fall really happened in history, God's Son had to enter history (incarnation) and die in history (redemption) and rise from the grave in history (resurrection).

What an amazing redemptive plan unfolding...!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You Call THAT Summer?

As short as this summer felt, we were able to squeeze in at least one high-adventure camping trip. We were camping at 6000 feet in late August and experienced just about all of the weather possibilities known to man: snow, hail, rain, high winds. Oh, and eventually some sun. It was loads of fun. In a tent.

I slept with three sleeping bags, three sweatshirts (hood up), two sweatpants, two socks, and gloves. And I still took hours to truly warm up. The snow accumulated so fast that we had to beat it off the sagging roof of the tent every 20 minutes, until we abandoned camp and huddled at the Lodge cafe for a couple of hours eating our way through pizza and cobbler and gallons of hot coffee while we played canasta. It was emotionally very hard returning to camp, as you might imagine, but I just went straight to bed again and huddled under the covers reading all day.

The night of the high winds, I was awakened by the tent collapsing over my face. Lovely feeling in the dark of night. Oh, and did I mention that we were camping in bear country? So you know I waited awake each night for the entrance of said bear into our tent through the broken zippered front. We were very careful not to have food or even bathroom supplies such as toothpaste in our tent to entice the bears to enter - but what about the Frito's stuck in my teeth?

Our beloved dog must have gotten car sick on the road trip to camp because that first night she vomited about ten times. Do you wanna know how much like a bear's growl her vomiting heaves sounded?? It was a lovely night. One daughter and I truly had the giggles. And Dad pulled his famous line for all time and all situations: This Is Ridiculous.

But yes - eventually we had three days of sunshine and spent all day on the lovely white pumice and sandy beach on East Lake right outside our tent door. Finally, it was warm, and only occasionally did an arctic breeze blow across our sunning backs. I read and read and read and devoted and drew and painted and ate more Frito's. Now THAT is my kind of camping.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Beautiful New Journal

In March of 2009 I began a beautiful new journal - a lime green whimsically floral one. This journal was a place for new beginnings, following on the heels as it did of various difficult trials in my life. Those trials at that time included: A severe long term family crisis, my hormonally induced depression, my oldest daughter's two years of crashed health, and my third daughter's week in the hospital.

I was ready to begin a new chapter. Here is what I wrote on the first page:

A beautiful new journal...a continued journey with my Lord through the hills and valleys and brambly paths of life. Brambles can be scritchy-scratchy-grabby, and they can cut you and make you bleed. They can catch and snag at your soul, ensnaring you in an off-the-beaten-path hazard.

But brambles can also smell rich with summer berries, be intertwined with lovely pale white morning glories, and full of bird-song. Comforting joy even in the snags.

I have walked with the Lord for 36 years now, and I have been on many various types of passageways and cobbled trails - and this I know:

God is faithful and good and Sovereign and in control and purposeful in all things. I have been tried in several life-furnaces, and though I may have come out the other side of them in various states of success spiritually - HE shines forth in glorious radiance, perfect holiness, in goodness and mercy.

I trust Him; I believe in Him. Even here in this new place and after this new traumatic testing. I am a work undone and unfinished; He is a faithful Refiner and Finisher, to build me up and not tear me down.

Purposeful trials and tribulations and deep waters.... Purposeful. Known. Planned. Orchestrated. Designed. Directed. Not to undo me or deconstruct me or de-edify me or tear me down, but to build me up. To establish me in the faith. To grow deep and broad and life-depending roots. To grow me into a steadfast woman who endures under and bears up under her trials. To eternally bless me in heaven.

So be it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Love Intervenes

Heavy on my heart has been this question, related to a loved one surrendering to deep sin: What am I to do?

Our culture - even our Christian culture - is so hands off, so timid, so afraid of coming across as judgmental, so afraid of being ineffective, that we leave a fellow-believer wallowing in the muck and mud of their sin.

Why confront, you might say? We can’t change them, can’t make them shed their sin and walk in righteousness. So why bother?

But how can we watch them on a path that is destructive for their very soul and not try to intervene? Rescue?

You intervene because you love them. You intervene because you love God. And you intervene because willful sin spits on Christ and His sacrifice for their sin.

Granted, you might not change them. It’s true, you might lose the relationship. But are you willing to be used of God as a tool for restoration, to bring them back to a right relationship with God and others?

Love intervenes. Love speaks out. Love speaks truth. We have the words of LIFE - are we ashamed of them? Shine the light of TRUTH into their life. Be a signpost in their headlong rush towards destruction that shouts NO. STOP. BEWARE.

A person caught in sin, especially sexual sin, is blind to their sin. They don’t see clearly, they rationalize their behavior. Who knows how God might use your words of God’s truth to bring them up short and cause them to stop and think. Trust God to be responsible to use His words as He sees fit. His word is a sharp sword, piercing, and able to get right at the heart.

“Brothers, if someone is caught (ensnared) in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently…. Carry each other’s burdens.” Gal 6:1-2

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful (trustworthy) are the wounds of a friend…” Prov. 27:5-6

“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” Luke 17: 3

“My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20

Key to this process is maintaining a loving attitude and a spirit of gentleness. Man’s anger does not accomplish the good work of God. Man’s anger interferes and clouds the water and does not bring about good fruit. Man’s anger shuts the door and plugs the ears. Keep your own frustration and anger out of it.

Pity them in their lost and dark place. They are caught in a web unable to extricate themselves. Ensnared. Trapped. Proverbs says that the unfaithful are trapped by their evil desires. (11:6) They might think they are in a place of great freedom and happiness. But that is a lie of the devil who is out to slay their soul. And we know better - we know what God’s word says.

Reach out with the hands of love to someone you know who is not walking uprightly with Christ, someone who is caught in a sinful lifestyle. Do not stay on the sidelines and watch their destruction.

We are our brother’s keeper. Real love, tough love, is willing to speak unwelcome truth - real love is willing to get down in the trenches and get dirty as we reach out to grasp a hold of their hand and pull them out.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Menacing Mail Attack

Turning 50 has not only been relatively painless and less traumatizing than I projected, but actually a full-of-joy experience for me. Thanks to my hubby and dear friends and family, I had an absolute blast. I felt like I was gently carried over that half-a-century line and soothingly placed on the far side, upbeat and ready to face the-rest-of-my-life.

But then the attack began. It was insidious and sinister. And it started with AARP. Asking did I want to start my very own personal subscription to the OLD PEOPLE'S MAGAZINE?? I don't think so - thank you very much. But they are insistent, and not a month goes by when I don't receive another AARP reminder that the world at large considers me OLD.

But this week was the clincher. I received a LIPOLIFT 'Aesthetic Medicine' brochure in the mail, assuring me that I could laserlift myself right into new and improved! I could be reshaped, resized, rebuilt, lifted, tucked or suctioned. Wow. Doesn't that all just sound so fun? Right after our coffee date, how about if we gals go get worked over??

What is the matter with the me that I am? I mean, its not like I don't work on me quite enough as it is. I work out regularly; I wear deodorant; I shave my legs, apply lotion, paint my toenails, color my hair, wear make-up, and file my fingernails. This is about all the time I want to expend on this me. Oh, I guess I do like to dress myself in bright colors, capris, and black strappy sandals.

I stand HERE, strong and true, just over the 50 yard line, resistant to the AARP attack. I-will-not-subscribe. Are you with me?