Some Days That Old Bone Looks Mighty Tasty

I don’t know about you, but sometimes the enemy likes to keep me chomping away at some past hurt or current concern. At that moment, I remind myself of our coonhound, Maggie, who will occasionally run across an old, dried-out bone, and she will just gnaw and gnaw, desperately hoping for some fresh taste of marrow to seep through and tantalize her once again. Yep, that would be me. A little thing will cross my mind and, before you know it, I’m sitting there just a chomping and chewing away on that old, dried-out thought. The difference between Maggie and me is that I know nothing of value is going to come out of this endeavor…no matter how diligently I work at it. I will simply be left with disappointed hope burning raw in my heart and mind, rendering me useless for my daily assignment from God. Such is the malignant intent of the enemy–a useless Christian.

Each one of God’s children has a custom-designed assignment, which the Lord has put at his/her disposal. Joshua was charged with leading the valiant warriors of Israel into conquest of Canaan. I’m entrusted with raising two heirs of God’s kingdom, who will ultimately bow before His throne in unadulterated worship. Though both commissions are entirely different, both have been placed in the hands of humans to bring about. As we all know, of course, human beings tend to be rather wayward at heart. They frequently require daily promptings to keep on track with their divine missions.

I think God had man’s obdurateness well in mind when He bespoke to Joshua: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8). Comprehending that humans are determined to gnaw on something, He gave us exactly what it is we should be gnawing on: God’s Word. To meditate, according to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, means: “To dwell on any thing in thought; to contemplate; to study; to turn or revolve any subject in the mind.” We are to grab the deep things of Scripture, and turn them over and over in our minds, mulling them repetitively until they take root and become a part of us. When they then become a part of our very essence, we will be able to act on them regardless of the situation, and, in God’s eyes, we will have attained true success. Our ways will be rich with the goodness of God.

I honestly have no desire to be a useless Christian in the Kingdom of God, yet I acknowledge that I am capable of repeatedly chewing on any old bone the enemy tosses my way. I find, however, that the more I meditate on God’s Word, the quicker I am to be repulsed by that abhorrent behavior. I am not an animal; I am a unique hand-creation by an Almighty God, who designed me to reflect His image. He fashioned me for a beautiful and perfect plan, of which dried-out bones have no part.

“O, taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8)

Advertisements

The Awesome Reality of Tests

A few short weeks ago, my son, while preparing for a physics test, was also undergoing a private, personal pain. Unbeknownst to his dad or me, he was sorting through an event which had caused him some distress and confusion. And he was trying to go it alone. However, that physics test loomed closer and closer each day. Puzzled, and with no comprehension of his personal struggle, I pressed him daily: Why could he not remember what had come so easily just the week before? For, you see, the previous week, he had aced his daily work and all seemed to make perfect sense. This particular week, however, was a bust. His mind went totally blank when he attempted his review questions and his practice problems. Pain, that great transformer, had gripped his personal life and made his mental acumen temporarily take a tumble with a test on the line.

Our raw bundle of nerves hit his peak Thursday evening post-football practice/pre-study for test. His dad, having reached his peak as well, decided Josh needed a little father/son conversation. Yet my husband is a loving father and, as such, went to our son’s room in love. As J unveiled his struggle of the week, compassion was birthed in my husband and he wholly offered his prayer and support to our wounded son. With his weight lifted, Josh was able to study for his test with an open mind.

The following morning, a clear-minded young man sat at our dining table ready to tackle his first physics test of the year. We prayed, and he cautiously, yet with great hope, picked up his pencil, while I settled into my comfy chair.

Now that I understood how his week had gone, I felt compelled to carry him in my prayers. “Dear Lord, please help my son to be able to recall all that he has learned for this test.”

And then it dawned on me.

He was taking a test only on things he had learned! The author of his physics book had not written any questions for this test on future chapters or on other subject matter! Josh was being tested only on what this author felt confident that he had competently conveyed to his student!

Moreover, was not his other “test” the same? Would such a loving Instructor as his great God ever test him on anything other than what He believed J to already have grasped? Wouldn’t the Author of The Book be well aware of what His Spirit had taught?

Hope sprang alive in my heart. Let’s be honest: I became immediately giddy! J’s week of personal struggle and pain was merely a “test” of what he already knew, and his Instructor, who loves him dearly, was eagerly cheering him on to pass it!

In his book “With Christ in the School of Prayer,” Andrew Murray describes our Divine Instructor as “a teacher who knows his work, who has the gift of teaching, who in patience and love will descend to the pupil’s needs. Blessed be God! Jesus is all this and much more.”

May the awesome reality of Jesus as your Divine Instructor grip your heart and mind. May you be encouraged that the Spirit of God has taught you all you need to know to pass your current test. And may the trial of this pain transform you one more step into the likeness of His glory.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8

For His Unique Purpose

First a quick update: I went to the doctor yesterday and had blood work drawn up. I will see a neurologist on Monday, and am glad about that. I haven’t been seen by a neurologist since my initial onset back in 1999. I am admittedly nervous, but I keep seeking Jesus and His peace. He reminds me that He held me close and dear before my appointment, and will continue holding me close and dear after. The results are not the ultimate answer, He is. And in Him I find my peace. As a matter of fact, the scripture He shared with me this morning states, “The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11). In one fell swoop, He answers both my physical need and my emotional need. See how good He is?

I also wanted to share with you an email I found this week when I was cleaning out my overcrowded mailbox. It was actually one that I had written to a friend back in April, and I so needed to be reminded of what God has shown me earlier on this journey. I hope it stimulates an understanding in your mind and a faith in your heart.

We have no idea how long this relapse could last. My body could pull out in a couple of weeks or not for a few months. Or, if God intervenes, I could be fine in a moment’s time. ME/CFS is a neuro-immune disease with no known cause and no known cure. The medical name is truly a misnomer as there is simply more to the disease than being tired; but I won’t bog you down with details. Please know how content I am in my God. Psalm 94 says: “If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence…when my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Thy consolations delight my soul” (vv. 17 & 19). Many ME/CFS patients slip into depression (and no wonder!), but God is the One who truly does delight my soul.
 
My eternal trust is in the character of the One who loves me and made me for Himself. I trust him inexplicably with my health. There is a part of me that longs very much for immediate healing, but there is another side of me that longs even more for God’s deepest work to be done in me regardless of the path that He takes me on. Psalm 84:11 says that “no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Romans 8:29 defines God’s idea of good as that which conforms me to the image of His Son. Therefore, with my eyes fixed solely on Him, I am willing to accept whatever God defines as His highest, knowing that if there were a better way to conform me to the image of His Son, He would surely choose that way. His love for me is too great to let me labor on this path without it serving a wonderful eternal purpose. As you pray for me, please pray God’s highest for me, for Brad, and for each of our kids.
 
I know that God is molding me and shaping me. I trust that in His years serving under his earthly father Joseph, a carpenter, that He learned in a special way the value of varying tools. Such as, when it’s time to use the sandpaper you can lay the planer or lathe aside. My hope is that ME/CFS is a planer or lathe, and at some point God will lay that aside and use only the sandpaper. Regardless, He knows what He is doing in me and in each member of my family, for this is molding all of us in some way for His unique purposes.

God Still Knows.

Last evening I experienced a very scary episode with my health, which God so graciously prepared me for yesterday morning, and which I shared with you in my post yesterday. I want to continue that story so you can see God’s goodness to me as well as keep me in your prayers.

As is frequently the case, Brad and I went out last evening for a stroll with our dog. I felt quite well, or relatively so for someone trying to recover from a severe relapse of ME/CFS, so I didn’t even bother to take my cane. Besides, I had my strong, handsome husband at my side should I need the support. Although he had to manage the dog, I felt confident that I could manage our customary twenty-minute walk on my own.

We ambled through the neighborhood, taking a slightly round-about way to the park. After circumnavigating the majority of the park’s perimeter, we crossed the street to roam through a rather shrubby, tall-weedy, vacant lot so Maggie could enjoy all the scents. I had straggled behind Brad a few feet as we entered up into the lot via a well-worn bike trail, when a sudden crash from my ME/CFS came upon me like a wave. With my heart racing and my body beginning to sweat, I called out for help to Brad, who quickly returned to my side. I felt my mind being swept away in the brain fog so familiar to ME/CFS patients, and I knew I needed to make a quick decision about our course of action before I was “gone.” Feeling that if I paused a few moments I could make the three-block trek home, we stood silently, while I held onto Brad’s arm. After regaining my equilibrium and losing the glaze that had temporarily covered in my eyes, I removed my sweater, and we continued. My story to this point is a fairly familiar one to us both. In other words, not overly unusual.

In stuttering steps we made it to the end of the block. One down–two more to go. No problem. Slow and steady does the trick, as they say. But by the end of the second block, I could no longer stand and sat down right at the curb. Moments passed as I tried to regroup my senses and order my body into compliance. Home was only one block away. Brad could see it. I could do it. Finally, I raised my hand to Brad for assistance to rise, and we started off again. One more block. Just one.

As we were crossing the street, according to Brad, I started to fall backwards. He reached to catch me, at which point I chose to glare at him through once again, glazed-over eyes as though he were trying to impede my progress. We made it all the way across the street, where I needed to rest again, this time sitting on a low wall. After waiting with me a few minutes, Brad opted to trot Maggie home, retrieve my cane, and return, thus, giving me the time I needed to recover while ridding himself of any hindrance to aiding me. Upon his reappearance, I was prepared to try again, but to no avail.

“Brad, carry me.”

His muscular arms wrapped around me, and swooping me up, he bore me safely home, with my head resting snugly upon his warm, strong chest.

My recovery time last evening was relatively short. Within twenty minutes, I was able to carry on a short conversation with my son, and by the end of an hour I was able to refill my own water and tend to my own needs.

Feeling quite like my recovering-from-a-severe-relapse-of-ME/CFS self, I confidently went for my usual walk this morning, though I made sure I started with my cane and my phone. In short, I have been doing rather well today, but we do have a doctor’s appointment scheduled for later this afternoon.

Remember how in my introduction I wanted you to see God’s goodness? Did you? I did. Yesterday morning, while out for my routine jaunt through the neighborhood, God reminded me that He saw all my struggles, knew of each battle, and understood each massive endeavor. It’s as though He pre-counseled me for what my day would hold.

His message is just as true today: He still sees. He still knows. He still understands.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.” Psalm 28:7

God Knows.

A common longing pulses in the heartbeat of every man, woman and child: the deep yearning to know that someone, not only sees what they do, but understands what they do–that someone notices each struggle and fully comprehends all the effort they put into it. Obscurity, however, is essential to the healthy growth of every living thing. From the seed fighting its way out of the dark blackness of the soil, to the butterfly battling through the fibrous confines of its cocoon, to the stay-at-home mommy struggling to find accomplishment in the recently cleaned toilet–all need that time of holy aloneness to become fully what God created them to be. Yet in the heart of the human alone surges the desire to have their being–even during those hidden hours–validated. For mankind can endure any type of gross misuse, any type of concealment, or any type of suffering if he can only know that his circumstance is not an effort in fruitlessness.

I, too, have experienced a challenge to my faith in the area of unverified struggle and aloneness. Even this morning, while out for my walk, I mused within myself, “No one knows how hard it is for me to simply put one foot in front of the other. No one understands that for me to take a walk is an immense undertaking, which often requires all the pluck I have to pull off day after day after day. No one knows.”

But truth whispered back to my heart, “God knows. God understands.”

Tears filled my eyes. God knows. God sees every dish I rinse, every homeschool lesson I undertake, every sock I fold. God knows. God is honored with each day that I step out in faith alone, having no perception of how my day will unfold or what energy will be mine, yet trusting Him that my day–my life–is not in vain. God knows.

And in God’s eyes, through His Spirit lived out in me, I am validated.

“Are not two sparrows sold for an assarion? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are numbered. Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31

Dora Said What?

Imagine watching “Sesame Street” with your little ones when Oscar, who has had enough of Ernie’s antics, reaches into his trash can, pulls out a gun, and shoots poor Ernie point-blank straight in the head. Or imagine Dora, fed up to her last degree, letting loose a string of profanities aimed at Swiper. Perhaps you’re taking in “Aladdin,” only to hear Prince Ali make some extremely suggestive comments toward Princess Jasmine. None of these scenarios seem right, do they? And they shouldn’t. We all intrinsically understand that young, pure minds should not be exposed to vulgar or violent behavior. The question we should be asking ourselves, though, is at what point does it become acceptable.

A few years back, when Josh was just a little guy of maybe two, I was watching a TV crime show to “unwind” while my son was having his “down time” in his room. For some reason he decided he needed to ask an extremely important question. He was about to enter the room during a rather graphic scene (not as graphic as shows are now, but graphic enough), when I stopped him.

“Stay there! Don’t come in!”

“Why not, Mommy?

“I’m watching a show…for adults only.”

I stumbled over my answer, immediately convicted by my own words. Why was I watching a show that only adults could watch? With little ones in the house, why would I even have on such a show which they might see or overhear? Why was such a show “okay” for me but not for them?

This little scenario prompted me to answer the same question for my life that I pose to you. If our children, who have been given to us by God with pure minds should have those minds guarded from such obscenity, should those of us who long for pure lives intentionally expose ourselves to such? In other words, if I want a pure mind, then what should I choose to put in it?

Needless to say, I began to choose other ways to unwind during my son’s “down time.” As a matter of fact, I don’t think I even found out “who did it” that day! Across the board, our television habits changed immediately. Our standard became determined by whether or not our children could come in while we were watching a show; if it couldn’t be in their brains, then it shouldn’t be in ours. I grew to understand something pivotal that day: I am still God’s little child, and He still wants to guard my mind.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” -Matthew 5:8