Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Fearful Thing

Recently my husband and I were having a conversation and he questioned what I had just said to him. Did I mean exactly what I said or was I trying to give a different subtle message. I assured him I wasn’t giving a subtle message but inside I began to wonder? Did I know even know my own heart? Was I fooling myself? Could my heart be that deceitful? Do I even know myself? I know my heart is deceitful…who can know it but… How can I know? How do I plumb the depths of my heart to find out the truth? 

As I continued to ponder my heart and look within it reminded me of what we see so often this time of year – entering a haunted house.  Does the door of my heart bear the title, “Most frightening?” We have all seen them and maybe some of us have even gone through one. Children cling to their parent’s hands. Imagine for a minute being one of these children. As you enter the haunted house there is so much fear. These houses are dark. One never knows what evil is lurking around the next bend. What will we see or hear? Will we stumble, trip or fall? Will my parent hold my hand tight enough? Will we ever make it through?

This is how it feels to enter the depths of one’s heart. “Lord what sin is lurking around the next corner?” Our hearts are so deceitful that we cannot even know them ourselves, yet it is so necessary to search our heart and root out sins lurking within; but yet there is fear. What if we stumble, trip or fall? It is so fearful to uncover sin that was never realized before? What will that look like? Can it be conquered? Will our heavenly Father tightly hold our hand as we uncover lurking sins? We want to grow in grace but…

Mary Winslow said, “I think confession of sin, should make up one-half of our life. And when we reflect that we have to do with one so able and so ready to pardon, it is a pleasure blended with pain to unveil our whole heart in the acknowledgment of its iniquity before God. Thus it is we gather the strength of resistance and the skill that foils our arch foe; the conscience is kept tender, the heart sanctified, and the blood of Jesus becomes increasingly precious. Let us, then, constantly resort to this cleansing fountain, that the sin, mental and heart sin cognizant to no eye but God’s holy eye, may be cleansed. What a high privilege is this! Who can subdue our inbred sins but Jesus? As well might we attempt to upheave a mountain as to argue with and remove even a solitary corruption of our fallen nature. But if we carry it at once to Christ, He will do it all for us. This is one of the most difficult, though needed, lessons in the school of Christ.”

We need to press forward. Fear not this prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts” Ps 139:23. He has promised never to leave or forsake (Heb. 13:5); has promised to forgive our sins that we confess (1 John 1:9). The same David who prayed the above prayer also said, “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin” Ps 32:5.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Is It Really That Bad?

As I sit here and type this blog there are hundreds of women and girls crying out as their ISIS captors use and abuse their bodies and even more horrifying are the reports that these men are in desperate search of Viagra to feed their selfish desires. At this moment there are also thousands of Christians who are sitting in prison cells enduring beatings and torturings that are unimaginable to us in our Western world.

What happens when we take a few moments to actually enter into the world of these people? What if we took 5 full minutes and tried to enter their world? Think of their tears, their cries, their pain, their mourning the loss of loved ones. Think of all the children taken from their parents, and parents who have their children ripped from their arms, and let your mind feel what it would be like if it was your child. Why don’t we do this more?  Is it because it seems too painful?  Our natural being hates pain and suffering…its contrary to how we were originally created but yet very much a reality in our lives.

As I have been laying here for 1 month now there has been plenty of opportunity to think, and in thinking to focus on those who have it worse than I do. Let me share the blessed results:

1. It motivates us to fulfill our biblical command, Heb 13:3, Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.  This then in turn leads us to:

2. Pray for them as often as they come to mind.  1 Thess. 5:17, Pray without ceasing.

3. Press on ourselves to fight the good fight till the end,  Hebrews 12.

4. But ultimately our mind is also being led to focus on Christ who suffered more than we ever will, never complained, and was faithful to the end.

What comforts we have in God’s Word for those who are faithful. “Faithful” also means our reaction to afflictions both great and small.  Am I enduring my cross as Christ would have me to do?  When we meditate on those who have it worse than us our “blessings” shine much brighter.  Have I had to lay here for one month doing nothing? Yes but every day I listen to music and my soul is fed. What healthy person would be able to do that? Am I acutely aware that once given the green light to get up and around more I will be in the negative as far as my POTS goes? Yes but I’m thankful that I now know the route back to improvement although it will take months. Do I see the furrowed brow because of constant pain when I look in the mirror each day? Yes but there has been slow improvement and I can take some simple pain meds. Do I see work that I wish I could do? Yes but I have a faithful husband and wonderful children who have been by my side and shouldered much of the work. I have a loving church family as well as extended family who have been very kind. Blessings upon blessings…there is never an end to our blessings.

And so even on days like yesterday when a pity party was forming and the tears were beginning to brim in the eyes, one look to others who have it so much worse or even more so one look to Christ’s sufferings and instantly the tears  dried up.

Many of you know that I have had great trials in my life and this has been one way that I’ve gotten through them as well as I have. But I do have a great confession to make.  I am much better at counting my blessings when great trials come upon me than I am when little everyday trials or annoyances happen.  Case in point: this morning I had this blog churning in my mind and it was about to be sorely tried. My loving husband wanted to get to work “early” but nobody was coming to help today. What happened? I started looking at my “little trials” and not counting my blessings. The dishes weren’t all done. The wash wasn’t started. The counter tops weren’t all wiped to perfection. I tried using my 5 minutes up to do things and was utterly exhausted and in more pain. What happened to the blessings? My husband brought me my breakfast and Advil in bed so I could get relief before showering AS HE HAS EVERY MORNING FOR THE PAST MONTH. My dear husband made lunches and got the kids off to school AS HE HAS EVERY MORNING FOR THE PAST MONTH.  He made the bed and even arranged the pillows as I like them. The kids did their morning jobs. I have a warm house, can take a warm shower, have food to eat, and the list could go on for a long time.  So what if I have to look at dishes all day. So what if I have to walk past the lid that’s laying on the kitchen floor that didn’t bother anyone else enough to get picked up. So what if my counter tops aren’t washed to my perfection. So what if the wash isn’t done today…it was done yesterday and can be again tomorrow. So what?? So what??? Oh shame on me.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dear Prayer Warriors

I would like to address this blog post to all the prayer warriors who have prayed for me this past week. Sometimes when called to pray one can wonder if it really does any good but let me explain.

During the last 2 months leading up to my serious surgery I would often have times where I would shudder at the thought of the whole surgery…even times where I felt almost as it were paralyzed and unable to work or think because of the overwhelming nature of it all.

All this began to change as we starting telling people what we were facing culminating this past weekend when our dear former congregation as well as our current church family began praying in earnest. I can only describe the feeling as being wrapped in bubble wrap. Layer after layer began to be wrapped around me. And so when an inconsiderate comment would be made or Satan would attack it could only pop a bubble or two but not penetrate to me. Your prayers along with the Lord’s everlasting arms created a calm in my heart that was unrealistic while facing such a serious trial. And the calm only continued to grow more and more as surgery came closer. On Monday and Tuesday I found myself often contentedly humming and I never lost one minute of sleep from worrying.

When I awoke shortly after 5 on Wednesday morning only to see that already people were awake and praying I was so humbled. While showering I realized that I was singing as if preparing to go on a picnic rather than facing a serious surgery.

Once in the hospital while getting prepped for surgery the calm never left. As I lay on the operating table the anesthesiologist struggled to find a vein for my IV as I was already getting dehydrated. My thoughts weren’t on the poking needle but meditating on the fact that when I awoke (which I would) it would be either here on earth with my family or in glory. Unbeknown to me my surgeon observed this “calm” and especially told my husband when she gave him the post op report  how I seemed so unusually calm. Several hours later as I was coming out of anesthesia my first thoughts were… am I on earth or in glory.

Typically, a patient receives narcotics during surgery for when they awake but as I cannot have any narcotics none were administered. As I regained consciousness (unaware of the fact that I had a good 100 stitches inside of me) the most incredible pain I have ever felt was searing through my body and I cried out, “Why Lord?” Immediately my mind was drawn to Christ and His sufferings and my mouth was stopped, and as I lay moaning my dear precious Savior became even more precious to me. And so until the Tylenol and Advil started working I could quietly moan as I listened to the hospital staff and my surgeon’s assistant agonizing over the fact that there was nothing more they could give to me. And yet even in the face of this incredible pain there was a calmness that resulted from many prayers. The Lord didn’t say we wouldn't experience great difficulties but He did promise to carry us through them.
The next day when my surgeon came to see me I felt compelled to explain to her as well as the others who were in the room why she saw in me this “strange, unusual” calmness. The result of your prayers enabled me to spread Christ to this Indian Dr. And so dear friend, while it’s hard for me to find a comfortable position to be able to type this, I felt so humbled and thankful for each and every one of you. When you are on your knees beseeching the Lord on behalf of a needy friend know of a certainty that our dear Father in heaven hears your prayers and answers. Be not weary in well doing.  Let us now raise our voices in thanks to Him.