Monthly Archives: February 2016

Get me out of here!

Get me out of here!
Never mind that this is the place you’ve chosen for me at this moment.
The life I had before wasn’t much but it was sure better than this.
Can’t you get me out of here?

Why have you put me here alone?
Never mind that you have repeatedly sent angelic people to comfort me.
I picked the friends I had before and we were doing pretty well together.
I feel trapped in this place.

Why has this happened to me?
Never mind that this calamity is part of your plan for my life.
I was living independently before, and now can no longer do the things I love.
I want to go back to the way things were.

Why has everything been taken from me?
Never mind that you’ve been providing for my needs long before this trouble began.
I was comfortable living with my things I spent a lifetime accumulating.
You know my things are precious to me.

Lord, why aren’t you listening?
Never mind that you’ve walked beside me even when I haven’t trusted you completely.
My strongholds are ruined and my situation is hopeless.
Please, Lord, hear my cry.

Forgive me, Lord, I really do love you.
Never mind that my mind and body are failing, and I lack the strength to fight.
Teach me to be thankful in all things, and in all circumstances.
Show me what you would have me do.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

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For Mom (Willie’s girl)

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Fear

Last week, I sat with my loved one at a nursing home and listened to her express her fears. She feared being left alone most of all. It seemed all too easy for me to tell her not to worry and trust in God. Easy, because I wasn’t the one confined to a bed, whose future appeared uncertain, and who had to rely on others to attend to every need. When my visit concluded, I was the one able to leave and go home.

IMG_0620The following day, the word “fear” rose up from somewhere in my heart and planted itself in my mind like a roadblock. Thoughts of battling my own childhood demons surfaced. One clear memory involved watching my mother drive away, having dropped me off at summer camp I planned to attend. I begged her not to leave me and sobbed as I watched her go. Now, her and I were in a role reversal of sorts. I was the one driving away, leaving her at a nursing home, alone and afraid. I understood her pain because God willed me to endure similar pain decades earlier.

Before going further, I need to acknowledge that some fear can be a good thing. For example, I fear God, and revere Him above everything. I also fear, or respect, things like weapons, electricity, hazardous chemicals, lethal viruses, etc. Respecting them and following proper protocols keep people from harming themselves and others. For the purposes of this argument, I am addressing fear that is undesirable and destructive.

I’ve come to understand that no matter how hard I try to rid myself of it, fear will always accompany me as I walk through life. The struggle is to keep fear behind me. I have had moderate success over the years attempting to walk by faith and seeking to understand or learn more about the things I fear. However, each season of life I enter, as well as each time I have said, “yes,” to something God has asked me to do, a new set of unknowns lie in wait.

If unchecked, fear can grow like a weed, producing doubt and worry, which serve to choke out faith (see the parable of the sower in Luke 8:4-11). Maybe that is why the words, “fear not,” appear so many times in the Bible.

When I looked up some references to “fear” in my Bible, I noticed the disciples of Jesus also struggled with fear. On one occasion, in the midst of a raging storm Jesus said to them, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid” (Matthew 8:26; Mark 4:40). In another incident, Peter, wanting to imitate Jesus as he walked on the surface of angry waves, impulsively attempted to do so. He fell victim to fear and began to sink. After Jesus rescued Peter, he said to him, “You of little faith…why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)

Jesus’ words remind us all of what can happen when shallow faith clashes with fear. If doubt could speak for itself, I believe it would say, “God does not really care about the concerns I face, and He really isn’t in control of the world he created either.” In the face of uncertainty, fear robs people of hope.

Conversely, holding on to faith cultivates hope. It embraces God and trusts him no matter what. It binds us to the belief that God indeed does care about every person’s concerns and is acutely aware of the trials they face.

Bill Gaultiere, on his website www.soulshepherding.org advises us to respond to fear the way that David, the psalmist did. David prayed and trusted in the Lord.

“When I am afraid I will trust in you. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.” (Psalm 56:3-4)

IMG_0627It’s always good advice to read your Bible. It’s the living Word of God. It will speak to your heart.  I offer this advice to myself (and to Mom): hold fast and stand on promises you find in the Bible. Pray that God will strengthen your faith. The God of the Bible is alive and at work in the world today. He can, and will, deliver you in times of trouble or give you the strength to endure.

A singular thought has emerged from my pondering. If I am striving to become a person of unwavering faith, I must choose faith over fear—everyday. So don’t abandon your faith when you need it most, embrace it and squeeze it tighter than you ever have before.

 

Burdens

Burdens. We all collect them as we travel through life. Much of the time we have ourselves to blame, placing self-created burdens squarely on our shoulders as the result of our actions or behavior. Taking on too many of our own burdens, leaves us unprepared for the unexpected burdens of others, or those life itself forces on us.

Maybe this is why as Christians we must be prepared to bear one another’s burdens. I recently experienced this first hand. As you know from previous posts, I am helping a loved one navigate through some life-changing decisions. One moment, she was living independently in an apartment surrounded by the comforts she had accumulated. Then, days later, she landed in a nursing home. Her way of life changed in an instant.

It was decided that her apartment needed to be vacated. The stuff she had accumulated for decades immediately became a burden—a burden someone else would have to bear. Myself, along with several other family members set out to bear this burden for her. I had no idea a one-bedroom apartment could contain so much stuff. We moved piece after piece of furniture and found still more. For days it seemed like no matter how many boxes we packed or trash bags we filled, a mountain still needed to be moved. Each drawer, cupboard and closet we opened revealed another cache of mementoes.

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As my mind wearied and my body ached from carrying this burden into my garage, a thought occurred to me. My Savior, whom I serve, bore my sins and sorrows, suffering and carrying them with him to the cross of Calvary. Isaiah 53:5 states that “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities…and by his wounds we are healed.” In that moment the burden I was carrying for my loved one seemed a little easier.

Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30