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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pioneer or Settler


I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
~ Heb. 13:5

Good food for thought ...

In one of his books, A.W. Tozer (the great Canadian preacher and author) says, "God works as long as His people live daringly. He ceases when they no longer need His aid."

Are we walking by faith or by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)? Through reading Tozer's book, I was reminded that whenever God's people were on the move, God moved with them. When they stopped, God also stopped. Remember the great exodus from Egypt into the wilderness? God led the Israelites by a pillar of fire at night and  by a cloud during the day. It's exciting to serve the Lord, but the Lord likes to move with His people as they are walking the walk of faith.  (© Angus Buchan - A Mustard Seed)

What about you? Are you moving forward or standing still? While moving forward in our own walk of faith can often be difficult and scary, God is beside us every step of the way, cheering us on!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Gift

Today was good ... for a while, anyway! And then slowly, very slowly, the stress and tension returned and I could feel every fiber of my being start to twitch as I headed towards a severe (physical) panic attack. So, I did the only thing I could do ... I jumped into my car and drove over to my church.

Thank God for the sanctuary at my church because it truly has become a sanctuary for me - especially during times like these - and today was no different. I spent 90 minutes there this afternoon, in prayer and communion with God.

Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, 
When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.
~ Psalm 28:2

One of the things I realized this morning, after reading this verse, is that while I have spent the last five days crying out to the Lord, my cries have been focused on the why and how of my suffering, instead of asking for the Lord's help to get me through each moment. Shame on me!

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; 
A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
~ Psalm 51:17

Let's face it: physically I am really having a hard time right now. And, while I have reached out to a couple of my pastors and requested their prayers, I have not really reached out to the One I most need to help me get through this pain. Not in the way that I should, at least. O Father, forgive me!

Another thing I realized this morning is that while I have been struggling with this situation, I have also been fighting it. Let me explain:

Years ago my parents were getting ready to board a transatlantic flight. Waiting in the gate area with them was a family of five: mom, dad and three young children, one of whom was throwing a very loud -- and very fierce -- temper tantrum! 

When the mom returned from using the ladies room, my mother struck up a conversation with this young woman and complimented her on how well she was handling the situation, especially because she could see that all of the other people in the waiting area were getting quite annoyed, and my mom could tell that they were really hoping this temper tantrum would end before boarding began. So what was that young woman's response to my mom? 

"I've learned that it begins when it begins and it ends when it ends, and there's nothing I can do until that happens."  

Smart woman!

And, that's exactly what I need to remember: During those moments of stress, anxiety and panic, when my body starts shaking nonstop and I feel myself shutting down, I need to focus on staying present, clinging to the Lord and crying out to Him, knowing that this, too, shall pass -- whenever He chooses to allow it to end.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from the Father of lights, 
with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
~James 1:17

One of the final revelations I had today came this afternoon while I was in the church sanctuary. It took the entire 90 minutes of being there for the shaking to stop and for me to reach the point where I could catch my breath. Ninety minutes of crying out to God for His comfort, asking Him for His help to stay focused and present in my body, clinging to His strength because I had none of my own.

And that's when I realized it: this entire situation is actually a gift from God. A gift of His choosing. A gift He actually chose for me!

Why? I have NO idea! But obviously, there is something I need to learn from it. And, there is something that He wants to accomplish through it.

Several months ago, I read this quote by Mother Teresa: I know God loves me. I just wish He didn't trust me so much! And that's exactly how I feel!

Right now I'm okay. I am present in my body and I'm okay. How long will it last? I don't know. But I am very grateful for this exact moment in time. And, if, in the moment after this one, things start to get bad, I hope I can remember to cry out to the One Who loves me more than I will ever know; Who chose to give me this gift and Who promises to be with me always. All I need do is ask!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Even If ...


 The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.
~ Proverbs 14:10

I'd be lying if I said the last few days have been easy. They haven't. In fact, I am in the middle of some of the most physically difficult days I've had in quite a long time. 


One of the questions I emailed to my pastor the other day was this: "How can this (my current physical struggle) be God's best for me?" 


His response? "Because some things that are really good in our lives can only be accomplished through difficulty. A diamond and a pencil lead are composed of the same ingredients but a diamond is formed under intense pressure. So, be ready to be a diamond!"


I wish I could say that I believe him. But, as I struggle to get through each moment: to get out of bed; to feel safe enough to take a shower and get dressed; to stay present in my body without curling up in a ball on the floor, I cannot even think about becoming "a diamond."


This morning I heard this song by Kutless and I realized that to a great degree, it is my prayer right now ...


Even If


Sometimes all we have to hold on to
Is what we know is true of who You are
So when the heartache hits like a hurricane
That could never change who You are
And we trust in who You are

Even if the healing doesn’t come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn’t come

Lord we know Your ways are not our ways
So we set our faith in who You are
Even though You reign high above us
You tenderly love us
We know Your heart
And we rest in who You are

Even if the healing doesn’t come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn’t come

You’re still the Great and Mighty One
We trust You always
You’re working all things for our good
We’ll sing your praise

Even if the healing doesn’t come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn’t come

You are God and we will bless You
As the Good and Faithful One
You are God and we will bless You
Even if the healing doesn’t come
Even if the healing doesn’t come
©  Kutless

I wish there was a playbook for recovery from abuse. A book that tells you how long it will take and what to do when x, y and z happens. But there isn't because everyone's journey is different, including mine. 


So while I struggle just to get through the day, shaken to the core of my being, I pray that I can truly ...


Cast [my] burden upon the Lord and He will sustain [me]; 

He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
~ Psalm 55:22


P.S. Want to hear EVEN IF in its entirety? Listen here!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Will of God

As I find myself coming to terms with the fact that "recovery" is proving to be far more difficult than "realization," I am really struggling to believe this right now ...

The will of God will never take you, where the grace of God cannot keep you, where the arms of God cannot support you, where the riches of God cannot supply your needs, where the power of God cannot endow you.

The will of God will never take you, where the Spirit of God cannot work through you, where the wisdom of God cannot teach you, where the army of God cannot protect you, where the hands of God cannot mold you.

The will of God will never take you, where the love of God cannot enfold you, where the mercies of God cannot sustain you, where the peace of God cannot calm your fears, where the authority of God cannot overrule for you.

The will of God will never take you, where the comfort of God cannot dry your tears, where the Word of God cannot feed you, where the miracles of God cannot be done for you, where the omnipresence of God cannot find you.

 
– Author Unknown


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Enclosed


You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
~ Psalm 139:5

As I was reading through Psalm 139 this morning, this verse really struck a chord with me. The study notes in my Bible had this to say about it:

 “God used circumstances to limit David’s actions.”

Isn’t that great! In order to keep David from (possibly) doing something stupid (for which he would later suffer the consequences) or something that would disgrace his Lord (like his bad, bad decision to get involved with Bathsheba), God actually brought a set of circumstances into David’s life that [basically] kept his hands tied.
I have a confession to make: Not once have I ever viewed the circumstances in my life as God’s way of limiting my actions. Far from it! But, perhaps it is time to start doing so ... 

Let’s face it: As human beings, we have an enormous capacity to mess up our lives in big and small ways. And then, when the consequences of those [bad] decisions begin to show up, we wonder why! 

For most of the past 4 years, I have been in constant pain. Truth be told, I actually cannot even remember what it is like to be pain-free. Personally, I do hope that one day – in this lifetime – I will have the opportunity to experience complete, total, and pain-free movement in my body … but [apparently] today is not that day!

So while I do not understand the circumstances (of constant pain) that God has allowed into my life, I am trusting that He is using them – even now – to keep me exactly where He wants me to be, in order to accomplish what He wants to accomplish in my life.

What about you? Are you fighting the circumstances of your life – whatever they may be? Or are you willing to accept them, trusting that God is using them in your life to limit your own actions – and perhaps even protect you – just as he did in the life of His servant, David?

Most Holy Father, thank You for always looking out for us, even when we choose not to look out for ourselves! Thank You for bringing people and circumstances into our lives, in order to limit our actions and keep us from making [yet] one more mistake or bad decision that does not glorify You. And, most importantly, thank You for loving us in spite of ourselves! Be glorified in our lives, both now and forevermore.


The Lord will accomplish what concerns me;
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.
~ Psalm 138:8