Friday, August 22, 2014

A season of answered prayers...

Remember how a few weeks ago I said I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil?  You know how they say it's darkest before dawn? I know the devil does not know the future... but I think he's pretty good at reading signs and listening in on human's conversations. I think he likes to hit us hard when God's getting ready to do big things, because he knows that, if he can only get us yanked far enough into our troubles and our circumstances and ourselves, then maybe he can get us to throw a monkey wrench into God's plans. Or maybe he just is hoping to get us to surrender as much joy as possible before the big events.

God's timing is perfect, though... and when we trust His timing, we are better able to enjoy it.

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Fifteen years ago or so, a good friend of ours walked away from God. It hit my husband hard, and ever since, he has prayed for this man... perhaps because the whole thing still troubled him. We lost track of him completely with over a thousand miles separating us... and still my husband prayed for this man.

A few years ago, my husband added to that prayer... that whenever this prayer was answered, God would somehow let him know. He told God he needed to know when this friend came back.

And he continued praying.

A week and a half ago, he got a call.  Someone had found this old friend on Facebook, gotten in touch, and they had spoken on the phone.  The man's life has been completely transformed - beyond what it ever was, even before he walked away from God.

It had happened a couple of years earlier.  You may be tempted to wonder why God had not gotten word to my husband a few years ago.  Not me, though.  I know that if he had found out the month or so after it had happened, he would have been wondering if it would "stick." If it was one of those wonderful, emotional fleeting moments that change nothing or the real thing.  God took care of that.  He let enough time pass that there is no doubts about it... this man's life was transformed.

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Years and years ago, my husband began wanting a better job. Not necessarily one that paid better, but one where they treated their employees better.  When we moved from Florida to Ohio and he transferred, he hoped that this was going to be better. Instead, things kept going downhill in a slow decline with the company.

I have prayed soooo many times for a new job for my husband, but due to a number of factors that are hard to sum up, my husband has truly felt trapped... unable to provide for his family if he has to start an entirely new career, and unable to find anyone needing his skills outside of the company he's in.

Over and over, he's asked how he will ever get out. Over and over again, I have assured him that God has something planned for the perfect time... that I cannot fathom what it might be, but God can do anything.  My husband could not possibly perform that job until he retires, and God has promised to provide. Thus something, some day would come along!  It had to.  There was no other possibility.

That day came this month as well.  And as the details unfold, it is looking so much better even than we were asking for, on so many levels. But then, what else should we expect from the God who is able to do more than we could ask or think?

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I have nothing more profound to share, but I want to encourage you to keep waiting and trusting!  Even if it's been 15 years since you began.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A sun and shield...

It seems like everyone this morning is mourning Robin Williams this morning and talking about depression. On klove this morning, Craig shared how he suffered from deep depression for 10 years, and how real and dark and oppressing it is. He mentioned different things that well-meaning people say, how his mind would agree with them, but how useless those words and suggestions and ideas were in reality.

Me... I'm afraid I may have said some of those kinds of things in my life. Now, I can't help but wonder if there was anyone praying for Robin Williams. Then my thoughts carried me further... who do I know who may be suffering - perhaps quietly - from that kind of depression? What can I do?


Of course I can pray for them, as that is the most powerful thing in any circumstance.

But this morning on the radio, Craig made what, to me, was a profound statement.

Depression is darkness. Light dispels darkness... even a lightning bug's worth of light dispels darkness. If you live and breathe, and you have Jesus, then you have that Light. 

I felt encouraged that it does not matter whether or not I would know what to say or do for anyone I love who might suffer from depression, because the Answer is Him - the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life - the One who said he was the Light of the World.  He is also Love, so if I give those around me my non-judgmental love, then His light can shine through me to fight that darkness. Even if I don't know they're surrounded by it.

Then this morning I read Psalm 84 - one of my favorite.  The last two verses just seemed so FULL this morning! Especially when you consider how the sun is the earth's source of life and light.

"For the Lord God is a sun and a shield;
The Lord gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
How blessed is the man who trust in You!"

How remarkable is it that He blesses, not those who manage to walk and live and be perfect, but He blesses those who simply trust in the One who DID walk and live perfectly for us!



Thursday, August 07, 2014

When you're trained...

One of my nephews has been in the hospital for a few days, and it's had me thinking and praying about all kinds of things.

The devil does his best to keep us from regularly praying. To keep us from knowing our Bible. One of his tactics is to tell us that we're strong enough; we don't need to pray about getting through their day... like only wimps would do such a thing. He says that daily struggles aren't big enough to bother God with.

And it's true... many people do "make it through their day" without relying on God or involving Him at all. Plenty of us can develop thick enough skins to survive through what life deals us on a daily basis. And we can solve most of our daily problems without Him. Problems like getting around that closed road. Problems like dealing with the frustrated customer. Problems like overcoming that difficult job in the middle of your day. But...

My kids and their cousins are demonstrating a very profound truth.

Sooner or later, life throws things at us that we CANNOT overcome. When my nephew suddenly started having seizures a few days ago, there wasn't a one of us who could do anything at all to make them stop. We don't have the training or power. The doctors have training that sometimes helps them figure things like this out... but many times, even they are not able to figure out what is causing seizures. Either way, we certainly cannot affect or change whether they figure it out or not.

It's times like these that people -- even kids -- are face to face with the fact that we need a connection to something more powerful than us.

In those moments that our spiritual training suddenly makes quite a difference.

The one who has allowed themselves to become well-trained in prayer and going to God and trusting Him over the little things in life finds going to Him over big things as natural as breathing.

On the other hand, those who are not well-trained find themselves reaching for a sword that is still unwieldy in their hands. They are not sure what words are the best to pray. They're not sure what to think. They're not sure how to trust. The taunts of the enemy criticize every insecurity they have, and they hear every taunt loud and clear... while the words and directions of their Master and Commander they do NOT hear loud and clear because they are not well-trained in listening.

Does God hear their prayers? Of course He does! The power of prayer itself doesn't change depending on who is praying, just as a sharp sword doesn't become dull just because it's put into the hands of a novice. Nor does a shield suddenly become fragile when it's held up by a child. The novice is still technically capable of using that sword in a deadly thrust, and the shield will still protect the child who holds it up.

But...

The Christian who is still a child in their experiences of trusting God will not be able to hold up that shield of faith and trust anywhere near as long as someone who has practiced holding it high every day through the little things in life. And the novice swordsman who is not well-trained in hearing the Voice that brings scriptures to mind will find it is not natural for him to wield this Sword of Truth quickly in effectual ways.



It is natural for my younger nieces to call my oldest daughter and ask her to lead them in prayer. They are younger and have not had the training and experiences that she has, for she has had extensive training in trusting God and praying through the things everyday life brings.

But it is also possible for an adult Christian - even one who has known at least a little of the power of prayer for many years - to not be any more practiced than my young nieces.  I remember being there myself, and it is actually the difference in me now that got me to thinking about all of this.

I also know that all of us - no matter how much spiritual training we have had - can still become even more well-trained.

That's what I'd like to encourage all of us (including myself) in. The more we practice trusting Him and praying through every little and middle-sized thing that comes our way, the easier it will be for us whenever the next battle comes our way.

We will also be better equipped to answer the call when those around us find themselves needing someone experienced to take them by the hand and show them how to fight.

Let's answer the call!
Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion