Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Broken


Several years ago I did this Bible study with my friend Joanna called No Other gods by Kelly Minter. Whoa. This is not a lightweight, no ma’am. It is a heavy-hitter! That is, if you WANT it to be. I have found, as I'm sure many of you have, that something is only as "deep" as you want it to be...but I am going deep, because there are issues in my life that need gutting.

That said, listen to this quote from page 64 of No Other gods regarding
God's "brand of beauty:"

"A healed relationship or person can reflect more glory than one who never knew brokenness."
(emphasis mine)

Okay, I thought. Broken doesn't necessarily mean pulverized...then I looked it up in the dictionary. (Yes, I'm a "word nerd," and I love doing this.) Broken: 1. NO LONGER WHOLE, in two or more pieces e.g. after having been dropped or hit with something hard.

Um, yah. Have you ever dropped a glass bowl? It shatters in a million pieces! (Especially on a tile floor... not like I would know anything about that personally...) Ahem.

My favorite book (next to the Bible) is my Synonym Finder. Why they don't just call it a thesaurus I don't know. Anyway...I checked out broken, and here are some synonyms:

Shattered. Smashed.
Crushed. Mangled. Pulverized. Ruptured. Torn. Damaged. Destroyed.
I will tell you a few things my friends, first of all, I'm pretty darn sure that all of us have felt like one of these words in our lives...maybe recently. Maybe as recently as last week...maybe, right now.

Second, always remember that with God: "We are hard pressed on every side, but NOT crushed; perplexed, but NOT in despair, persecuted, but NOT abandoned, struck down but NOT DESTROYED." II Corinthains 4:9

Once again, the WORLD'S definition of something and GOD'S definition are completely different. The world says if you are broken, you are destroyed. GOD says, if you are broken, HIS glory will be revealed. HIS STRENGTH will be made perfect in YOUR WEAKNESS. He is making you a new creation..
.He loves you too much to let you grow complacent.

I am preaching to the choir here, folks. I will be the first to admit that I stumble under adversity.. But God knows that sometimes when I am on the mountain top, I get lost looking at the view, and not reflecting upon that which put me on the top. So He keeps giving me the "valley view" until I get it. I'm not sure that I will ever COMPLETELY get it...I mean, come on, what fun would that be?

Lest I digress, let's get back to the quote. Did you ever wonder what our purpose was on this earth? Very simple. To glorify God. Some people I know can do that in an amazing way without have to go down the wrong road, or without suffering. Most do not. "A healed person or relationship"....that doesn't necessarily mean physical healing, but it certainly could. How magnificent when a believer goes to the doctor, only to find that the cancer that was there IS NO MORE? That is GLORY, my friends. Much more than if that person never got cancer in the first place!

However, God can reveal His glory in the same way when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and do it with HIS Strength! If you knew of someone that God healed of cancer, it would be a huge WOW factor. And God would get HUGE glory. But for how long? Would we forget, like the Israelites, who seemed to forget so quickly that God parted the Red Sea for them? But what about the person who quietly walks through their disease with God, day after day, moment after moment, constantly reflecting Him? (And I'm soooo not saying that's me, because there's not much quiet about me! I go along, but many times kicking and screaming!!)

Now on to a really sticky subject, but one very close to my heart: Does God SEND disease? I believe, sometimes, He does. This is one thing I know more than anything else in my being:
GOD WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO BRING YOU CLOSER TO HIM.


And I mean whatever. Some things He allows to befall us, but I truly and completely believe that other things He Himself sends to us, so that we can grow closer to Him, and so that His glory will be revealed. Some of us (and I mean ME) are so stubborn we don't get the more subtle hints and need the "big guns." And when this happens, my friends, you will never be the same again. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Heart Transplant


"Most of the grand truths of God have to be learned by trouble; they must be burned into us with the hot iron of affliction, otherwise we shall not truly receive them." - Charles Spurgeon

Whoa. Seriously. How true is this? If we never experienced pain, would we even know joy?

If nothing ever cost anything, how could we appreciate value?

If nothing ever died, how would we cherish life?

If there were no darkness, how could we embrace light?

If there were no hatred, how could we comprehend love?

Deep thoughts today, I suppose.

I've been down this road before, where I have said that I am thankful for what I have been through because it has shown me so much.

About myself.

About others.

About God.

About love. Not all of what I have learned has been good, especially about people, including myself!  I guess you could say God did something of a heart transplant in me.  He gave me much more of His heart and less of my own selfish heart. Not that I don't have a long way to go, because friend, I do!

Whether your belief system says God "sent" me this disease, or "allowed" it to happen, it doesn't much matter, as the end result is the same: He is Sovereign. He knows best, and He knows what it takes to get my attention, and keep it. And for that, I truly am eternally grateful.

To those hearts of who have encouraged me and my family, who have been there when I didn't know where to turn: thank you for being the light in my darkness. Thank you for listening to His whispers, (or as it would have been in MY case, His shouting and beating over the head with large objects....I don't always listen so well.)

So when you get discouraged, just remember: God KNOWS what He is doing. I PROMISE. I know it may not feel like it at the time, but He does. And He wants what's BEST for you.

Think of someone you love with all of your heart. The BEST things you could possibly imagine wanting for them are nothing compared to what God wants for YOU. Believe it.

Therefore this is what the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the descendants of Jacob:
“No longer will Jacob be ashamed;
    no longer will their faces grow pale.
23 When they see among them their children,
    the work of my hands,
they will keep my name holy;
    they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob,
    and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24 Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding;
    those who complain will accept instruction.”
Isaiah 29:22-24 NIV


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Even If

There are two incredibly powerful words in the English language:  Even If.  Think about it.  At a wedding, we hear vows that say the husband and wife promise to love each other for better or worse, for richer or poorer, and in sickness or in health.  You could substitute "even if" here...

A man promises to love his wife even if things get bad.  Any things.

A woman promises to love her husband even if they lose all of their money.

They promise each other that they will love each other, be there for each other, promise to support one another even if one of them gets sick.

You know, many people don't take their vows seriously.  In the instance where one of the married duo gets a chronic illness, the divorce rate is 75%.  Three out of four marriages involving chronic illness end in divorce.  All marriages.  Christian marriages.  No one is exempt.

Sometimes in life, we need to think about the "even ifs" before we commit to something. You can't go into a marriage thinking, "Well, if it doesn't work out we can always get divorced."

NO.  That should not be an option.  If you picture worst case scenario with your future spouse and think of *anything* that would be a deal breaker, save yourself a lot of trouble and just say no.

It's not easy.  It's against basic human nature to choose to be uncomfortable.  To go against the flow.  To "fight city hall" as it were.  But some things are SO worth it.  Like your marriage.

Another thing that's totally worth investing wholly in is God.  I speak from experience here...God has bailed me out so many times in this life.  But there are times He hasn't.  And that's when I have to choose. I want to be like Daniel, and say, "'King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty's hand.  But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty,  that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.'"  (Daniel 3:16-18NIV)

Wow.  Just wow.  Daniel and his 3 friends were in a foreign land, facing a formidable opponent.  They were being threatened with being thrown into a furnace.  A furnace so hot that the people opening the doors could drop dead from the intensity of the heat. But their commitment to God was so strong, and their faith so unwavering, that they dared to say, "Even if."

There is an amazing song on the radio right now by this very name.  It's by Mercy Me.  Here are the lyrics of the chorus:

"I know You're able, and I know You can, save through the fire with your mighty hand, but even if You don't, my hope is you alone.  I know the sorrow and I know the hurt, would all go away if You just say the word, but even if you don't, my hope is you alone."

Amen and amen.  When that song comes on, I belt it out as loud as I can.  I plead with myself to remember every. single. word. God IS my hope.  He is the only reason I am still on this planet, and I will cling to to Him.

Even if.... I'm never healed of MG this side of heaven.

Even if.... He never answers my prayers for more children.

Even if....

Even if.