Archive | November 2016

Walking with the broken…#brokenhelpingbroken

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Today’s sermon on Romans 13:8-10 was a reminder of the most beautiful and important of four-letter words known to man.

It is also the most misused and misunderstood.

LOVE.

I was hungry and thirsty to rewind the sermon in my mind. I wanted to hear more. Needed to challenge myself more. Beautiful pearls of truth need to be studied with greatest care.

Of all the virtues that I most covet, this is the crown jewel. So I cracked open Matthew Henry’s commentary first thing. He speaks.

LOVE is a debt.

The law of God and the interest of mankind make it so.

It is not a thing which we are left at liberty about, but it is enjoined us, as the principle and summary of all duty owing one to another; for love is the fulfilling of the law; not perfectly, but it is a good step towards it.”

Love is a debt. We owe Christ our eternal happiness. When we serve our chronically ill husbands, we are living the law of love.

I watched my grandfather faithfully love his wife through the tortuous path of Parkinson’s. It was an seemingly endless cycle of loss as her capacities lessened. The day she died, he wanted to die, too. His loving faithfulness was the steely example I’ve needed. His living proved you can make it through Christ.

This ugly world does not have to suck you into the muck of its adulterous slime pit. His footprints are in the sand before me.

Then, there’s my brother. What lovingkindness and gentle care he gave to his wife through four years of battling stage four cancer! He’s a young “buck” still, but his feet kept to the path of marriage vows with beauty and tenderness in the midst of heart-wrenching pain, sleepless nights, financial loss, and many days of solo parenting.

Both men knew this truth. We owe a debt of love to Jesus! God become flesh and became our atonement for sin —  that we can never repay.

His love requires us to love one another.

I am forever grateful for faithful men who set this example.

We are bombarded with messages to love ourselves. Doctors and therapists push us to seek our own happiness.

Well, if that’s what life’s all about, we would all leave our chronically ill spouses in the dust!

There’s a strange beauty that comes in walking with the the broken that cannot be obtained any other way. When you learn to love through the ugly, God’s love in Christ comes to light.

The desperate neediness of the pain-filled hours remind us that God chose not leave us alone in our terrible plight. He did not abandon us.

Instead, His truth brings hope.

His love gives eternal life to those who forsake sin and call on Jesus as their Savior and Master.

Who would you rather have as a boss? Satan, whose motto is grab all the happiness you can possibly snatch in this life, or Jesus, whose eternal love rescues us from eternal hell?

He calls us to walk in love for others. Satan calls for loving ourselves first.

I’m still running my race here with the long-term, degenerative chronic illnesses. I haven’t finished my course yet.

But Love calls me.

It calls me upward and onward with searing, painful beauty.

Love is calling you, too, dear sister.

We didn’t “sign up” for this non-fairytale marriage. We, however, were called by His love to love our neighbor as ourself, no matter how broken they are.

May the beauty of the LORD rest upon you and grant you peace, joy, and hope in believing this week.

May you be carried by the beautiful love of the Lord Jesus.

 

He drew me out of many waters…

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Acknowledgement of Thomas Kincaide’s painting. I took a pic of a portion of a print I own that was painted by him.

Uncharted territory. Many waters. Enemies too strong for me.

Psalm 18 is the inside scoop. David was anointed by God to be the next king of Israel. His life at this point in time looked anything but kingly.

He looked more like Robin Hood and his band of merry men, hiding out from the current administration and foraging for food. Of course, they did a little fighting on the side to keep the enemies of God’s people at bay. His was a story of close calls and narrow escapes.

You can hear the inner anguish  and exhaustion in his voice in verses 4-6,

” The pangs of death surrounded me,

And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid.

The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;

The snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried out to my God;

 He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears…”

Strong, mighty David, distressed and afraid!?!

What blesses me was that he went humbly to his knees.

Prayers of God’s children do not go unheard. Listen to the beautiful promises of verses 25-27:

“With the merciful You will show yourself merciful;

With a blameless man You will show yourself blameless;

With the pure You will show Yourself pure;

And with the devious you will show Yourself shrewd.

For you will save the humble people,

But will bring down haughty looks.”

On my hands and knees this week in that War Room, I knew this.

I am not perfectly merciful, perfectly blameless, perfectly pure.  How can my cries be heard?

But, oh, I’m humbly on my knees asking to be so. To be like the sinless Son of God…And I won’t quit praying! I want David’s triumph. See verses 28-36.

“For You will light my lamp; the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.

For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall.

As for God His way is perfect;

The Word of the Lord is proven;

He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?

It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

And sets me on my high places.

He teaches my hands to make war,

So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

You also have given me the shield of Your salvation;

Your right hand has held me up,

Your gentleness has made me great.

You enlarged my path under me so that my feet did not slip.”

 This broken life can be made perfect, because His way is perfect.

In the suffering, His glory will yet shine through.

My story, your story is not finished yet.

But it takes the Mighty God to come and give us that “happily ever after” ending that we all long for.

Don’t give up in the heat of the battle.

Cry David’s prayers with me.

We can all dance for joy when the answers come!

 

 

 

 

When lions roar…

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“Be sober, be vigilant;

because your adversary the Devil

walks about like a roaring lion,

seeking whom he may devour.”

Desperation. The downside to chronic illness. When you’ve tried everything, yet nothing makes the pain go away.

You fill in the blanks.

The side effects. The sleepless nights.

The myriad of appointments with endless specialists. The constant stringing along to the next test result.

Even the medical profession and the whole medical system, seeing the long-term harm that early carelessness and the cavalier handling of my husband’s health from his infancy caused.

You’re cornered, and that roaring lion is seeking to devour your very faith. Can you smell the putrid breath of this king of the beasts who cracks bones with his giant jaws and crushes the life out of his victims?

Life hands you no way out. As a wife watching the downward spiral, it’s sometimes all you can do to cobble together an existence from day to day. But you do. You must. Life goes on.

You catch your breath, barely, and keep moving. Where is the hope in this?

“Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by our brotherhood in he world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9

It’s not seeing a demon behind every bush. Even nature teaches us that predators go after the young and the weak in every herd.

Yep. Satan is out to get our children and the chronically ill among us. As caregivers burdened down, we are right in the line of fire, too. We’re the straggler that stays behind to help the one who is struggling to keep up with the herd.

When the lion roars loudest is when we feel alone. Cut off from the Body. Separated from the herd, so to speak.

This is why churches of old emphasized visiting the sick and weak on a regular basis. The parish church was within walking distance, so the minister was readily available. Folks could pop in during the week to pray. But the weak were circled around and encouraged by the presence of a faithful minister from week to week, as he made his rounds of visits

How to be steadfast in the faith? How to resist?

Focus on ways to strengthen your faith.

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

If you can, leave your loved one for a few hours and hear God’s Word taught in person with God’s people.

Remember the Lion of the Tribe of Judah will fight your battles for you.

Humbly ask Him to fight for you. His kingdom will come and His will will be done. (Revelation 5:5, Isaiah 31:4-5)

Fight on your knees.

James 5:13-18 was a shot in the arm this week. God listened to Elijah’s prayer. In humble prayer, I ask for His listening ear.

A friend of mine saw her husband pass after years of cancer treatment. She told me that she sang Psalm 34 almost every day.

You know, the Psalms run the gamut of human experience. Fear, anger, jealousy, hate, love, joy, suffering, sorrow, with praise, always praise.

I often park myself in a Psalm and pray portions of it back to God.

Watch your media intake. None of it has been encouraging and faith-building lately, would you say?

Instead, find sources of uplifting music, media, and even friends to spend time with.

Offset the negativity with truth. Loveliness. Goodness.

My prayer is that this blog will be a place to share mutual sorrows, but also to help bind up and heal wounds.

A place where stragglers circle around each other with prayer, and face the lion’s roaring together with the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

How can I pray for you this week?