Beach time!

Beach time!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The post I never thought I would have to write

Many are the plans in a human heart, but it is the LORD'S purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

Deep we go. The post I've been dreading. I was told this week that I have breast cancer. It was a complete shock (as I am sure it generally would be for most people). My family and I are doing a lot of praying and processing and will know more details in the coming weeks. This verse is one that I have never read before and it speaks volumes to me right now. I have many plans for my life and not a single one of them included getting cancer at 34 years old. All I know is that this is what God is allowing in my life right now. Do I like it ? Not a bit. It's really terrible to watch your husband and 9 year old cry together while trying to work through finding God's peace. But it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. I hate the thought of sickness, recovery, treatment, and whatever else I will have to walk through. But it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. All of these verses that I have been searching through these last few months will be my comfort. I serve a God of peace and of faithfulness. I serve a God who is weeping with my family this week. I serve a God who knows the feeling of heartache. I will praise him in this midnight hour of my life out of love and obedience. I will praise Him because He is my Redeemer and Healer. I will praise Him because he has called me by name.  I will not fear.

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you."
Love and blessings.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Joyful (but not necessarily happy)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent of praiseworthy-think about such things. 
Philippians 4:8

Whew, life can be exhausting. Just the moment when you think that it is going smoothly, watch out. A curve ball may be headed your way. In thinking about fear and worry over these last several months, I've begun to wonder how much time and energy I have spent worrying about things over which I have no control. And while I have excused these times away as saying that it is a part of my personality to worry and dwell, I have learned recently that I may have actually been disobeying a command of God's all this time. In Philippians, we are directed and commanded to rejoice and to never be anxious (chapter 3, verse 4-7). How is this possible? How can we be commanded to be joyful? Don't be confused. This is not the same as being commanded to be happy all the time. Instead, it is God's directive for our life to find joy and contentment in him. Let's face it, the world is a messy place and there is sometimes easier to focus on what can go wrong rather than turning our eyes to Christ and looking to him for guidance. That is why I love this verse. What am I spending my moments dwelling and meditating on? All of the things that can go wrong or on the sovereignty of Christ? The worst case scenarios or God's protection of me and my family?

Paul tells us to dwell on the things that often go against our "human nature", or sinful nature. Our tendency, especially when faced with loss or stress, is to focus on the "Why me's?" and our lack of understanding. This list of things to focus on almost seems impossible in this world. The only way I know to do this is to stay in His word for us. By immersing myself in God's word, bathing every day in prayer, and surrounding myself with other believers, I am ready to face a world filled with uncertainties and people who need to see the certainty of Christ through me. The reward? The peace of God. Peace that exceeds a healthy checking account, job stability, and potential loss. Peace that goes beyond our understanding. Peace that is the calm in the middle of a raging storm through our lives. Peace that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Peace.

Lord, compel me to think of noble, pure, right, lovely, and admirable things. Wake me in the morning with a desire for you and your word. Thank you, Lord, that even my worst case scenario is surrounded by your love and grace for me and my family.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

No, son. God is not a puppy snatcher.

Find rest , O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

Psalm 62:5-8

There is so much in this world that is uncertain and unknown. When our sense of hope and joy rely on these things, then we are bound to be disappointed, heartbroken. But, when God alone is our hope, our rock, and our refuge, there is never hopelessness. Never. He can never let us down. True, we live in a fallen and sinful world where sickness, sin, and heartache reign. But God is not the source of these things. Where there is sickness, God provides hope. Where there is sin, God provides redemption. Where there is heartache, God provides restoration. He is the exact opposite of all that is in this world. Yet, He gets blamed for so much. We've all blamed God at some point in the midst of a difficult situation. We feel as though God should have (and could have) reached his hand down and stopped the devastation.

I'll never forget when our first dog died. Our oldest son was 3 or 4 at the time. We were explaining that Bethany had gotten sick and died and had gone to "heaven" (don't read too much into the theology here of pets in heaven-he was little). At this point, he started to weep bitterly. I asked him what was wrong and he told me that it wasn't fair that God would go around snatching up the puppies of little boys just so He could have it in heaven. "Does he just reach down his big 'ol hand and take puppies, Mom?" Oy. Now we were in deep. We had to explain that no, God is not mean and he does not go around taking puppies of little boys. After a 15 minute theological discussion (on a preschool level) about God's relationship with us, he was satisfied. Whew.

Isn't that sometimes our view of God? That He has the tendency to stick his hand out from heaven and stir things up on earth? Maybe he could have prevented a tragedy or kept a person from sinning. Fortunately, God has given every person the ability to make choices, including the choice to love and follow Him. Unfortunately, that choice does not exclude us from heartache on this earth.

However, when I live this psalm out in my life, I am not easily swayed by the circumstances of my life. When God is my joy and my strength, I can stand no matter what happens on this earth. Will we hurt? Most certainly. But given the chance, God wants to restore and heal every hurt. When I pour out those hurts, fears, frustrations, and feelings of helplessness to Him, he can reach his hand down to my heart and restore it to His fullness.

God will give us rest. God will give us hope. And He will give us peace. All we have to do is rely on Him and Him alone. Then, we will not be shaken.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Certain of the unseen

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

At first glance, this doesn't appear to be about fear. But you and I know better by now, right? :) What is unseen is often what gives us the greatest sense of fear and anxiety. There are many situations that, if we could see them clearly from all angles, then we could understand them. However, God doesn't work that way. If He gave us the reason and outcome for every situation that presented itself in our lives, where would be the room for faith? Faith allows us to hand it to God without needing all the details or the reasons why. Faith allows us to lean on God when we feel unsure of what we are walking through. Faith gives us strength. I've heard it said so many times that "God will never give us more than we can handle." I don't believe this is true. God often allows us to walk through something He knows is beyond what we can handle on our own. When we can't handle it on our own anymore, then we turn to Him. It is in those moments that we see our desperate need for Christ.