That year, the word God gave me was STRENGTH. I felt empowered by the word as I imagined how I would use it. Physically: I would exercise regularly, add strength training, and make healthy food choices. Mentally: I'd read more non-fiction, learn from the biographies of great people. Spiritually: I'd spend more time studying and memorizing scripture.
And then came a single sentence that opened a vein and siphoned every drop of strength. I couldn't breathe. Sobs came in waves, triggered by random thoughts, unexpected memories. The walls closed in. Questions ricocheted, waking me from a sound sleep. Why? Why? And eventually . . . What now? But no answers came.
Have you been there? Have you heard the sentence that brings the verdict: Guilty. Betrayed. Rejected. Ruined. Terminal. Alone.
I didn't have answers. I didn't have the faith to believe there would be joy in the morning. The future was forever altered because of the hole in my heart that would never fully heal.
But this I did know: Though I felt alone, I wasn't. Though I was powerless, he wasn't.
This wasn't the year God was going to increase my strength. This was the year I would lose it all. And he would show me his.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
I wonder . . . how do those who live without that promise ever get to the point where they can draw a full breath? How do you go on if you don't know the One who will be your strength when yours is gone?
I wrote the above this morning, then found this song posted on Facebook by a man whose son committed suicide. Lord, without you we can't go on.
I woke with a sense of heaviness this morning. Much on my
mind. Family members suffering, relationships strained. I checked Facebook as I
got dressed to face the day. More heaviness—two sets of parents helplessly
standing by bedsides of adult children with life-threatening health problems.
Tears blurred my morning routine. God,
where are you in all of this?
This past Sunday we listened to possibly the best message on
suffering I’ve ever heard. Yet still, with this fresh on my mind, the question
returns. Where are you? As I sat down to pray, looking out on a white, cold world, a
seemingly random thought came to mind. A cold January day. 1999. Still reeling
from the horrific news that my sister-in-law had died in a head-on car
accident, I stopped at the house of long-time friends. As I sat and talked, she
brought a blanket and tucked it around me. And then a cup of tea. And
listening. When it was time to leave, he went out in the bitter cold and
started my car. Small kindnesses, but exactly what I needed at the moment.
The memory brought to mind other moments of grace: The year
my husband was laid off—walking out to the car and finding the back seat filled
with bags of groceries. That same year—an envelope in our mailbox. $10. No name.
Then there was the day I answered the phone to hear my son was in the hospital
in possible liver failure, and a friend—a person who is definitely not a hugger—grabbed
me in a bear hug and said, “I’m so, so sorry,” as I cried.
I think back on so many perfectly timed phone calls. “How
did you know I needed this right now?” Or “thinking of you” cards—how could
that friend have known when she put a stamp on that envelope that I would need
that encouragement today, at this moment, as I opened the mail?
Where is God in these heavy times? Right here. Showing his
love in touches of grace from an anonymous friend, a cup of tea from a sister
in Christ, a perfectly timed phone call from someone willing to listen.
Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve mislabeled acts of
kindness, failed to see them as your presence. And show me, today, who needs a
touch of grace. Use me—to hug, or write, or listen, or make that call. Or that cup of
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Discussing my thoughts on our love for shimmer and sparkle and our longing for a prince (and showing off my beautiful granddaughters) on Putting on the New. Come on over!
There are not three levels of spiritual life— worship, waiting, and work. Yet some of us seem to jump like spiritual frogs from worship to waiting, and from waiting to work. God’s idea is that the three should go together as one. Oswald Chambers
I'm forming a support group--Spiritual Frogs Anonymous.
Anyone want to join?
Though I consciously desire an organic, constant, living-and-breathing ongoing relationship with my Heavenly Father, I so often compartmentalize and hop from heartfelt prayer to striving to please to genuine worship to doubt to waiting on Him to real caring for others, and then cycle back around, throwing in some false guilt and wrong motives just for good measure.
How does one get rid of the useless things on that list and live a vibrant, pray-and-praise-and-serve-and-wait patiently-without-ceasing life?
I fancy myself a free spirit, but I'm afraid at least part of the answer lies in the D word. Discipline. I want it to just happen, but some things don't come naturally. The key may be in not treating spiritual disciplines as things to cross off a to-do list. Prayer. Check. Fasting. Check. Worship. Check. Serving. Check.
The answer may be found in breaking out of the boxes. Leaving the lists behind. It's good to set aside a time of prayer, but when I rise from my chair or my knees, the conversation shouldn't end. When I leave a time of corporate worship, the praise continues in my spirit. Instead of jumping from one lily pad to the next, we can sit back and revel in the entire scene. Like an impressionist's watercolor, lines and colors blur and blend and flow into each other, creating a life of beauty and serenity.
By not setting an end-time for these "disciplines," we may create an internal atmosphere that is less conducive to negative thoughts and wrong motives.
Membership in SFA is free. All you need is a sincere desire to stop hopping!
How do you keep your relationship with God constant and free of boundaries?