Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Tenacity to Trust

Today's Bible heroes are Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; or as we usually refer to them the three Hebrew children. They faced great adversity even at a very young age. They were first of all taken as captives and slaves into a foreign land where they were treated anyway but kindly. Of all the slaves these three and Daniel along with many others were taken to be trained as servants for the king. They were removed from their families, mutilated, lost life as they knew it and were kept as prisoners in a foreign, pagan land. But I love their faith and tenacity - two things the caregiver needs to survive the day!

In Daniel 3, the king had set up a golden idol and everyone was instructed to bow when they heard the music playing. The 3 refused to do so pledging their allegiance to God alone. The edict stated they would be thrown into a burning furnace if they did not bow to the idol set up by the king. When they did not bow the king was angry and when he questioned them they made this faith-filled statement:

O Nebuchadnezzar,we do not need to defend ourselves before you.
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace,
then God whom we serve is able to save us.
He will rescue us from your power, your majesty.
But even if He doesn't, 
your majesty can be sure we will never serve your gods
or worship the gold statue you have set up. (Daniel 3:16-18)

What I really like about this story is that they were not looking for a way out. They were not waiting for God to ride in on a white horse to save them from harm. They said He is able to save us; but even if He doesn't we are not going to bow. 

The caregiving journey has no designated length and for many there is really no end in sight. It would be wonderful if God chose to come in and bring immediate healing and restoration - no one's going to turn that down! No one's is questioning His ability to do so. But in our hearts, we must have the faith, trust and tenacity to say whether He saves us or not we will still serve Him.

Today I will meditate on how awesome God is; and how my situation does not diminish His power. I will set my heart on Him and continue to trust Him in the situation knowing that whether it changes or not - He is my God and I will serve no other.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus

Another favorite Bible hero of mine is Job. I know he didn't lead an army, build a boat or slay a giant, but he intrigues me nonetheless. I cannot fathom the sense of loss that he went through. First of all losing all his children in a day would be too much to bear. But he also lost his crops, livestock, and ways to provide for his family. Then ultimately he even lost his health. My mind just really cannot wrap around all of that.

One of the things that stands out in this story isn't really about him at all - it's about his friends. Even though they were not perfect, when they heard of his hardship - they came. And they sat. For seven days they felt his pain and grief so strongly that they sat in silence with nothing to say. As a caregiver I can say that those friends that just sit during the time of trouble are priceless...and few.

But what gets me about Job is actually his level of trust. I think that's why he's my hero. In Job 13:15 he stated that even if God killed him - he would still trust. I have to honestly say I have never made that statement. I've been angry with God for "taking away" my son - I always work my way back around to trusting Him but I have not found that single spot where I can just recklessly abandon to Him and freely say that I trust Him no matter what. But Job did; and I admire that.

While that level of trust does not just appear overnight, I do think we can work toward it at the bare minimum. I commit to leaning more on Him each day and learning more about Him and His ways in order to trust Him more fully.

Today I will meditate on trusting Him fully. I will think about how He does have my best interest at heart - even if I don't feel like it; or when I do not like the circumstances. And I will make a conscious effort to simply trust Him today. Will you join me?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Whose to Blame?

I've been thinking about some of my favorite Bible stories the last few days and on Hebrews 11 where we see so many of our heroes of the faith listed. None of them would have been heroes at all had they not faced and overcome some sort of adversity. This week, we'll be taking a look at a few of them. Today, we'll start with Joseph.

The story of Joseph is found in Genesis. His brothers were jealous of him because of their father's favoritism. They also didn't like the fact that he had so many dreams which didn't always seem to be too favorable to them. So they sold him as a slave and told Daddy he died. Talk about sibling rivalry! He spent years and years as a slave in a foreign nation and then was thrown into prison on false charges. But he maintained his faith. He continued to believe and trust in God.

Joseph didn't have a neighborhood church to attend to help him keep his morale and faith intact. Actually, he was in some pretty dark circumstances. There's so much to the story but let's just concentrate on his brothers' betrayal.

God blessed Joseph and He even blessed Pharaoh because of Joseph. After many years Joseph became Pharaoh's right hand man and was a very powerful ruler - Just like his dreams had prophesied. Finally, his brothers came to him because of a horrible famine in the region and Joseph had been given wisdom by God and had a stock pile enough to take care of everyone for the duration. His brothers bowed down before him to request food to live - just like the dreams had prophesied.

Joseph had no bitterness toward his brothers - and personally, I wouldn't have blamed him it he had! He had to have forgiven them to handle the situation as he did. Now, he did have a little fun with them and messed with their heads since they did not recognize him, but there was no animosity in his heart that we can tell.

In Genesis 50 after Jacob, their father had died, the brothers were terrified that Joseph would harm them or try to get them back for the things they did. That's called a guilty conscious, and it made them miserable. They concocted this huge story to try and protect themselves. But Joseph told his brothers that what they had meant for evil - God had used for good.(Genesis 50:20) And he vowed once again to take care of all of them and their families.

The point is that Joseph did not blame anyone, he did not whine and he did not try to get restitution - he let the past go. Sometimes there are people to blame for us being in a caregiving situation. But we must choose to forgive; we must choose not to blame. It will not change the situation and it will only lead our own hearts into bitterness. Like Joseph, we must trust God from where we have found ourselves.

Today I will trust that God has my heart no matter how difficult the walk. I will not blame anyone - but trust Him where I am. I will meditate on His goodness and not let bitterness have even a second to take root in my heart. I will be thankful for His goodness and faithfulness even in the cave. Will you join me?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Feeling Left Out

Because our lives are so different from the main stream, it is easy for us to feel left out. Watching others go on vacation, make a coffee run or just meet up with friends can make us feel like we're sitting on the couch while the rest of the world is enjoying itself. Social isolation is real for the caregiver as people in general just don't know quite what to do with us. "Church" presents its own set of problems in this arena.

Many of us can't attend church services or have so many obstacles to get there it's not feasible. The good thing is that we are part of the universal body of Christ. Just because we are separated from a physical church building on the corner, does not separate us from the body. We are no less a part of the true body of Christ than others. We may just need to broaden our ideas about what and who the body really is.

The body of Christ reaches beyond the church downtown, it's time inclusive. That means that we are part of the body with Paul as well as the 12 disciples. We could even say that spiritually speaking the body covers much more than just the New Testament believers. Think for a minute of the "Hall of Faith" from Hebrews 11. We have some pretty impressive family members including Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, David and Isaiah. We are not excluded from the true body of believers - we are a part.

Perhaps you say that you are just the little toe - but that little toe is important to the whole. If your little toe was removed you'd have to learn to walk again as it balances the whole body. There are small parts but no one plays a small role in the body.

Sometimes I think that caregivers and their loved ones are a test for today's church. There have been times that I felt totally ignored and like I could no longer relate to the church world today. We do not fit in the church's box so they really aren't sure what to do with us. Some churches thankfully, think outside the box and reach out with love and compassion.

The Lord looks at us in the spirit. We are a huge part - he sees us inside-out and is far more concerned about the parts of us that cannot be easily seen. He watches over our soul and sees our true heart rather than our position in the world today. He sees us as we really are. When the "world" is stripped off - what do we look like?

Today I will meditate on the fact that I am a part of the body of Christ and without me it's not complete. I'll think of God's inclusive love, compassion and acceptance just like I am - undone - but whole. I choose to rest in His acceptance today. Will you join me?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Resident Strength

One of the areas caregivers must deal with on a regular basis is tiredness. Even in the "best" situation possible, caregiving is a strain and makes you tired. One scripture I run to frequently is found in Isaiah 40:28 which says that the Lord never  gets tired or weary. You know, it is way beyond me to even be able to imagine never getting tired. But God has "resident strength" or a strength that abides at all times. He never throws in the towel because He can't go on one more step.

When I finished my first marathon I really thought at times I could not go on one more step. But I kept going and completed it. The finish was far from pretty - but it was done. God does not get "done." He just keeps going and going and never runs out of steam. He's never too tired to carry us.

Keep that picture of His unending strength in your mind as we look at Ephesians 3:16 which says:

that He would grant you,
according to His riches in glory
to be strengthened with power
through His spirit in the inner man..

Not only does God never get tired or weary - His spirit lives inside of me. That means that He is a constant source of strength for my weary soul. When I think I cannot make one more step, He can carry me in His strength. His strength is unending, inexhaustible and -- it's inside of me.  

Today I will meditate on the power of His might - the constancy of His strength. Then I will think about how this untiring powerhouse lives inside of me to give me strength. Will you join me?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Digging Deeper

In yesterday's blog we talked about "let." It's a little word, with a huge impact. Today we'll look at the very next verse in Colossians 3. Verse 16 says to Let the word of Christ dwell within you....Once again, the word "let" is synonymous with allow.

Paul is urging the young Christian church to allow God's word to put down deep roots into their hearts. He's talking about a lot more than just a simple surface relationship - Allow His word to indwell you. It's easy for circumstances to crowd out our entire belief system if we do not guard our hearts carefully, When my son was injured in an automobile accident - the happenings that followed for months shook my faith to its core. That's totally natural; but I was faced with a choice. Am I going to continue to trust God?

Situations will have impacts on us, but it's up to us what we choose to hold on to. In my own personal struggle there were times when my greatest frustration was the fact that I couldn't give up. I wanted to - but He is so alive in me that I could not walk away and say I never knew Him. I did  know Him - I just didn't understand what He allowed to happen, or why He allowed it to happen. That's a perfectly normal response.

As the journey continued I discovered that I really had no other hope but Him. I had nowhere else to run for strength, hope and peace. That brings me back to my choice to let His word thrive in me. I want to move everything out of the way that might hinder His word from taking up residence in my heart. Jeremiah 31:33 states that He will write His law in our hearts. I suggest that from there it's up to us to allow (or let) it to take root and push out all doubts, fear and unbelief so that we can hold on to His truth.

Today I purpose to allow His word to take root in my heart. I want to rest in Him to the extent that nothing else but Him matters. I'll allow His word into my heart and life to make changes so that I can trust Him more. Will you join me?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Follow Peace

The caregiver's life can feel anything but peaceful. There are just so many things that have to be done for your loved one every day. For me, my son is not capable of doing anything for himself. That means that I am responsible for doing everything from getting him bathed, dressed, up in the chair, to making sure he is fed. That's all just the start of the day. One way to gain an understanding of what the caregiver does is to think about all those basic things you do each day -eating, bathing, dressing, brushing your teeth, washing your face, going for a walk, etc. But because you are doing for another - you are doubling all of those efforts. That coupled with having to fight with insurance companies, various health providers and aids, can all lead to very not-so-peaceful days.

My Uncle Calvin had a saying that he always used when someone was facing any type of decision or situation - follow peace. Sounds simple, but in real life applications it can be confusing and difficult at best! There's a little three letter word in Colossians 3:15 that might help out a little bit. It says: Let  the peace of  Christ rule in your hearts....

"Let" might not sound like too much - but it is powerful because it's a choice. As caregivers there comes a time when we have to relax control (not an easy task) and let God's peace hold us. It is a conscious decision that we must make. We have a choice - but we must choose to allow His peace to rule. Our other options include being totally stressed out, worried and overly concerned about our overwhelming circumstances. Even though our given circumstances may not undergo even a small amount of change when we yield to His peace - they do become more manageable and less of a burden.

Today I am determined to let go and let God! I'll yield my troubled heart to His peace that passes my understanding. Our circumstances should not be our god; He is our God and today I will meditate on His immense peace and yield my heart to be overwhelmed by His care. Will you join me?