Thursday, April 26, 2018

Immovable

Standing Chris Outside
My devotions this morning were centered on Psalm 125:1-2. This song of ascent states Those who trust in the Lord are as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people from this time forth and forever.

I read, then re-read these two verses. When we trust in Him - not ourselves, not our situations or abilities, we are immovable. It's taken me a long time to come back to saying this really - but I trust Him.

When my son was first injured I was angry with God for allowing it to happen. Afterall, I was headed to Africa so I was trusting Him to take care of my kids. The trip was abruptly halted with a phone call that Saturday morning in November 2008, and I no longer trusted Him. In my mind, He should have protected my son, or at least offered a sudden healing. When neither happened, I sunk down into despair. It's taken me a long time to be able to trust again. It's been a process.

First, I had to realize my feelings were normal for the situation. Then there was the process of working through them. But there are days when the process has to be worked back through, often over and over again....

I can now say that I trust Him again, even in the situation, and even though the situation hasn't changed. It's taken me 10 years to get here. My faith-er background taught me, perhaps indirectly, that I trusted Him so "bad things" wouldn't happen. But now I have to say I trust Him in every situation - good and bad. To some, it may sound like I've backslid concerning faith. But nothing is further from the truth.

We've talked about our Bible heroes many times and the fact that it was the stuff they went through and came out trusting Him that makes them a hero of the faith - not the lack of obstacles, but the going through, around, over, under or over in spite of adverse circumstances. We talk about Joseph a lot in Christian circles and refer to his years in the prison, but we pass over the many growing up years spent as a slave first. We discuss God's power to restore all that was taken from Job - without facing the truth that he first walked through losing everything. There is no restoration without loss. There can be no healing without sickness, no provision without lack and no relief without pain. It's all about going through. It's about trusting Him in the midst of life's storms.

Today, I will remind myself of His faithfulness and how worthy He is of my trust. My meditations will be on how He has not given up on me or left me alone in my situation. I'll think about how He walks with me and waits for me to look to Him for provision, peace, comfort and love. I'll lean into Him just a little closer today as I trust Him one more time for one more day. Will you join me?









Wednesday, April 25, 2018

He's Got This!

Bible, coffee cup, pen and paper
This morning my Bible seemed to fall open to Psalm 121 which is, of course, one of my favorites like all the others. It brings me a calm assurance that He is with me, He won't faint, He will keep me no matter what life may throw at me today. Each verse for me bears a promise I can hold on to.

I will life up my eyes to the hills, where shall my help come from?
Obviously, our help isn't in the mountains or the hills. One version reads "does my help come from there?" It does not. Maybe David was surveying the mountains around Jerusalem as he was asking for help and strength to face whatever might be present or next. He answers his own question in verse two.

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
This is a statement of faith. God is my help. Period. And since He created and sustains heaven and earth - He's big enough to walk through this situation with me - carrying me - helping me. I will keep my eyes on Him!

He will not allow your foot to slip; he who keeps you will not slumber or sleep.
He sustains me. I do not sustain myself. He will keep me from slipping, from falling beneath the load of caregiving, from the onslaught of my own emotions. He does not sleep on the job, won't doze off while I'm talking to Him, and is awake and attentive to my needs. He keeps me.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
I am not in charge of keeping me. He is. He will hold me, comfort me, and keep me intact spiritually, emotionally and physically. He is my shade - the protector of my right hand - signifying my "power." He provides my strength and provides protection for it by shading it from the heat. It's only up to me to stay under that shade where I am safe and secure.

The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.
I understand He protects us from the sun - the heat of the day which can dry us out. It can bear down on us and cause us to become dehydrated - exactly why we need to stay refreshed in His Spirit and the word. He keeps us from being dried out and getting blown away by the "heat" life turns up from time to time. But the moon? Who needs protection from the moon? I do. It is in those night seasons that the pain intensifies. It's those long nights when the fevers go high and my faith falls short. A long, lonely, dark night can sap the soul's strength. But He protects us from being smitten during the night seasons.

The Lord will protect you from evil; He will keep your soul.
God keeps the "forever" parts of us. The body may fail, but He keeps the soul - the part that makes us uniquely us. He keeps the part of us that lives on when the body dies, it's a forever protection. Talk about being "covered" by insurance! He's got us - nothing, absolutely nothing can get to our innermost being as long as we stay hidden in His heart. He protects the part of us that matters the most and nothing can harm our spirit. We are in Him.

The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.
He's got this. He's got us. On the days, hours, minutes or the few seconds we may feel like we have it all together and under control - He's got us. On those days, weeks, months and years we feel like life is falling apart around us or going on without us - He's got us. Regardless of how we feel, He's got us. Forever.

Today, I will meditate on this psalm and the truths it contains. I will rest in Him just a little easier knowing He's got me covered day and night, He's guarding my heart and my soul, He is my shade and He watches over me purposefully intent on keeping me and presenting me before Himself spotless and pure. I will yield to Him today and trust that He's got this. He's got me! Will you join me?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Never Crossed His Mind

b&w of guitar with beach background
This morning as I got up and started doing my early morning caregiving tasks I had a part of a song stuck in my head. It was playing over and over. The phrase, there is no God like Jehovah! is part of the song, "Days of Elijah." It was going over and over in my head so I started thinking about that. After I got Chris changed and bolused I looked up a couple of scriptures.

In Isaiah 45 and 46 there are several verses that use the phrase there is no other God besides our Lord. As I read through the verses I thought about how there isn't any god like our God. As caregivers it can feel like we are thrown away by society or that there is no place for us in normalcy. But God never tosses us away. He chooses to walk through the dark days and nights with us. He's there for us when things go smoothly and times are bright too - He never leaves us. Actually, He doesn't even think about leaving us in our pain. The thought never crossed His mind. I let my thoughts settle right there for a minute.

He's not hanging around until He finds something better to do. He isn't walking through our very hectic lives on a contingency basis - if everything works out, or if we do this or that. He has moved right on in. Our pain doesn't frighten Him away. He isn't scared of our griefs or sorrows. People sometimes (if at all) may visit for a little bit to ease their own guilt for not wanting to be part of our lives, but He is not. He chooses to walk right in to our crazy caregiving caves and parks right there for the duration.

Have you ever had someone visit and you could tell they were counting the seconds until they could leave? Our situations can make people uncomfortable since they are not sure what to say or do. I get that, for real. They don't understand that it's quite alright to just sit there with us. Sometimes that's enough. He is not uncomfortable with us. He gladly sits in silence. His presence alone brings healing and hope to our hearts.

Today, I am going to set my mind on the fact that He is here and not looking for a way of escape. My heart is strangely comforted by the thought that He has no reason or desire to leave us emotionally stranded. I'll embrace that comfort today and I'll embrace Him today. My thoughts will be on His presence and His desire to walk this through with us. My meditations will be on His forever abiding presence indwelling us as believers. There's no ticket to punch to get off this ride! I'm going to rejoice that He wants to ride it with me and delights in carrying me when I need it. And with that I will rest in Him and trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Thursday, April 12, 2018

In and Among

I was preparing for the morning devotions I do for a Facebook group I am a "pastor" for and found this gem this morning. Actually, I was looking for the verses in 2 Corinthians 7 where Paul said he and his team had conflict outside and fears within. But I didn't make it all the way down to that verse before I found a gem.

As I usually do, I started reading at the top of the page as I like things in context. But verse 16 in chapter 6 got my attention. It is a quote of a promise found in the Old Testament where God says, I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God and they will be my people.

What stands out to me is the phrase I will live in them and walk among them. we understand He lives in us and is with us, but for some reason as I read this familiar passage it stood out. I took comfort in the fact that He willingly lives inside me as well as walking through life with me. I'm not facing anything alone, or by myself.

As my eyes ran back over this phrase several times it brought comfort to my soul somehow. He didn't put us here in time and turn His back or walk away. Instead, He chooses to walk with us through each day no matter what we face. He never says the fire is too hot for his tastes. He doesn't ask me how I'm going to handle it as He makes an escape. He rests in me. He walks with me.

Today, I will be meditating on the truth that He is with me come what may. He abides inside my being, and He's got no plans of moving out! I'll rest in the truth that He is here to stay as I trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

You'll Never Know

You'll never know when I look at my son and tears well up in my eyes.
You'll never know when I am overcome with grief over what was, what is, and what will never be.
But He does.

You'll never know how I have paced the floor in the midnight hour wondering... questioning.
You may never know how I've yelled and cussed at God - then ran into His arms.
But He does.

You'll never know the fear of getting older and not knowing who can take my spot.
You may not ever know how I trust God for each day, each moment and each breath.
But He does.

You'll never know of the times He has carried me, walked with me, dragged me through.
You may not realize my strength comes only from Him.
But He does.

You may never know the day-to-day grief over the loss of a son - who is gone - but still here.
You may not ever know how my heart aches and is overcome with grief.
But He does.

You may never know how one foot just keeps getting put in front of another.
You may not realize how painful it is to feed, change, provide care for a once independent adult child.
But He does.

You may never know the load of the caregiver, and how often I stumble underneath the weight.
You may never know the lonely road I must walk and I now embrace.
But He does.

You may never know how one memory can spark pleasure and depression in one fell swoop.
You might not realize how deep the hole depression digs and how hard it is to climb out.
But He does.

You'll never know of the nights I cry myself to sleep or lie awake.
You may never know how hard it is to do for my son the things he used to do for himself.
But He does.

You'll never know how a simple thing can send emotions off the edge.
You may never know how the "normal" things others enjoy can bring a sense of sadness and grief.
But He does.

You'll never know how my heart hurts and rejoices at each step of progress.
You may not know the difficulty of helping him take one little step, one more bite and knowing it's not enough.
But He does.

You'll never know how my heart cries out in the midst of the storm.
You may not know how I want to bring Him glory in the fire.
But He does.

You'll never know how difficult the battle against bitterness can be.
You may never know how tiring the struggle between faith and fear is.
But He does.

You may never know the nitty gritty details of my days.
You'll never know the depth of my faith and trust.
But He does.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

In the Cave

Do you ever feel like you live in a cave? I do. the rest of the world has no idea it seems and it's easier for the most part to just stay tucked away. But you know what's awesome about that? God can reach us in our caves no matter how far back we try to stay. His love and mercy can touch our hearts no matter what.

I've been thinking about how to just quiet myself down a bit and hear Him more clearly. When you live in a cave it's surprising how loud your own thoughts can be. If we are not purposeful, they can drown out His voice. But trust me, He will still speak.

I've turned my thoughts to tuning in to Him more and closing out all the other voices. I think about Daniel who was taken captive and held against his will in a foreign land. He was forced to serve pagan kings. Yet he still heard and worshipped God.

Then there was Joseph. We talk about him being in prison all those years and forget that he was sold into slavery first. He spent many years as a slave. He was most likely mistreated, held against his will and served many masters. All that happened before he ever got to the false accusation and prison. But he still heard God.

I am determined to hear God in my cave. His voice can reach through life's bondages and touch our hearts still today. Psalm 46:10 says Be still and know I am God. And that's my plan for today. It's funny how sometimes it's not all the other voices drowning Him out, it's our own thoughts.

Today, I will take the time to quiet myself before Him and purposefully listen for His voice. The funny thing is - in the cave - His voice can reverberate until it fills the whole thing. I will quiet my soul no matter what it looks like or feels like. And I will wait for Him. Will you join me?

Monday, April 2, 2018

Long Way Around

Chris standing tall outside
I may take the long way around, but I always wind up back in His lap. I'm just so easily distracted. I can't blame that on caregiving either, I've been that way all my life. I have tons of energy for some reason (even with only one adrenal gland) and my mind is always on "go." It can lead me down wrong paths if I don't keep a constant guard on it.

I love Proverbs and it often has wisdom regarding not letting the heart, mouth and mind run off on their own. Wisdom tells us to guard all three of these things. That's what helps keep us on the straight and narrow. Proverbs is always a good reminder for me to get everything back in check.

This morning, I was in chapter 3. We are probably most familiar with verses 5 and 6 which say Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. But I found a little nugget before I got to those favorites.

In verse three, Solomon says this Do not let kindness and truth leave you. So I thought about that for awhile. Kindness is of course, important as it is outside of ourselves - it's how we treat others. No matter what we think about others, their personalities, jobs, choices or preferences in life - we should be kind. Even if they are NOT kind - we should pursue peace  - and be kind anyway. Kindness is an outward expression and affects others directly.

Then there is truth. I think it's more of an inward thing. We need to cling to truth - about others, ourselves and God. This time we live in it seems like people prefer to speak, live and believe lies far more than embracing truth. Solomon tells us here to not let truth leave us - to hold on to the truth with our hearts. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life. We should hold on to Him first of all, embrace Him, cling to Him.

Then there's this. Since we are to embrace the truth, don't we need to believe what He said about us? Even when we don't feel it? Especially when we don't feel it! He calls us righteous, blessed, and beloved. I don't always feel it - but I need to always believe it.

He says we are His. He says we are highly favored. He says we can have an abundant life in Him - even from the caregiver's cave! And that's what I am going to choose to believe and cling to today.

Today, I will embrace the truth He says about me. I will shut down any lie that comes at me to try and convince me otherwise. My meditations will be on what HE says about me, not what I think about myself. I'll embrace the truth as I trust Him to carry me for one more day. Will you join me?