Thursday, August 18, 2011

It Says What?

In my morning devotions I was reading through Psalm 68. I have always enjoyed this psalm and I think it may be because we taught the first verse to the children's church crowd back in the day. To me this is a very rich psalm and speaks to many areas in our lives. But today I got to verse 19 and stopped.

 In the NASB verse 19 says this: Blessed be the Lord who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation. But I had a note in my margin that reminded me of how this particular verse is translated in the old KJV: Blessed be the Lord who daily loads us with benefits; even the God of our salvation. These two phrases: loads us with benefits and bears our burden  do not really seem close. How could the same phrase be translated two different ways? That I may never know - but...

 In my thinking it sounds like it is to my benefit that He carries my burden! He not only took my sin to Calvary - but He walks with me through this journey we call life. He is the one who gives us the strength to walk through each day - to take it as it comes! And when we wait on Him (Isaiah 40:39) He renews that strength, His strength in us, over and over again!

 Today - I will think about how I can let Him carry my burden and renew my strength.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Daniel on Prayer

While I was studying this morning my Bible kind of fell open to Daniel. I didn't really read but a verse or two, but I just started thinking about this man. He is one of my favorite Bible characters and I know I mention him a lot. But I just cannot imagine enduring the things Daniel had to face in his lifetime.

 He was pretty young when they went into captivity at which time he was castrated and was basically made a slave. He was trained for service to the king, but he lost his life, dreams and hopes in the process. He would never do the normal things like get married, buy land and have children. It had all been stolen from him.

 Yet even when Daniel faced such great adversity, he continued to pray daily. It was not just a fluke, he was not trying to use prayer to make anything better or even to get out of captivity at this point. It seems his prayers and efforts did not turn that direction until he found where God has specifically told Jeremiah that it would be 70 years of captivity. When he found what God said on it that is when he moved toward it; by now he was an old man.

I guess there are two things that stand out to me in this book. One is that Daniel maintained his integrity before God and continued the things he had purposed in his heart. He prayed every day - three times a day. And the second thing that sticks out is that he waited for God's timing. He was not whiny (like me) and questioning God's judgment all the time - he went for relationship. Then he got his answer when it was God's time.

 As caregivers we live what can seem to others as a castrated life. Many think that we cannot be productive shut in with our loved ones. But I beg to differ with that train of thinking. Our situation - no matter how difficult it becomes - cannot hinder our relationship with our God. Actually, many times it seems to enhance it!

 Today, if I can encourage anyone at all, I would say - keep your integrity before our God. Don't let the situation rule you - no matter how difficult it seems (and boy do I know!) we must continue to pray and seek the Lord. What we do with Him will last for eternity...

Monday, August 15, 2011

And the Point Is.....?

Psalm 42 has been sung for years. It starts out speaking of how the psalmist was longing for the Lord as a deer thirsts for water. He goes on to talk about that intense longing to just be with Him...a very familiar feeling. And in verse 5 he says this: Why are you cast down O my soul? and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God.  By the time he gets to the last part of his thoughts that helped to form this psalm he mentions it again. (v11)

 And here's what's interesting, in the next psalm verse 5 says the same thing again. On one hand it seems like it's not that big of a deal; like maybe he was trying to talk himself into trusting in God. And I know caregivers must work through that process many days! But, he was not trying to do that. Psalm 42 was written for the sons of Korah...we are talking Moses' day. But Psalm 43 was written by David. That means it was important enough to him for him to repeat it to himself.

 I think the point is this: that even when we are living in troublesome circumstance - we must trust Him to get us through the day. Even if we have to repeat it to our souls over and over I will trust in Him...I will trust in Him...I will trust in Him...That is really what will get us through the day, the hour, the minute or possibly even just this one brief second.

 Make it your goal today as you go about caring for your loved one - to purposefully trust in Him.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Caregiver's Fog

I know all the true caregivers out there no exactly what I mean by the caregiver's fog. It usually descends slowly and overcomes you until you cannot find a way out. But you're already suffocating before you realize how bad it is. Well, that's where I have been. I hate it when I do not get on here to do a devotion - but there are days I just can't find one and I am not going to throw some empty words out here --that helps no one~!

 Sometimes, crawling out is as easy as opening up the Bible and letting His word wash it all away. But then there are those times when opening the Word actually adds frustration. You see the miracles He performed and wonder why you didn't get one. Or read scriptures about His great deliverance from Egypt and just scratch your head... sometimes I really cannot see for the fog.

 But every time He comes through. I don't really know what His big fog-blow-awayer looks like... but it can come in the form of a phone call or card from a friend. Or maybe it's a song I hear online. Who can describe His ways... but He finally gets through to me every single time! Then I am washed away in His love and watchful care once again....

 I am so glad that He is big enough to handle my faltering, faithless heart. Hudson Taylor said when we feel faithless, rely on Him - for He is faith-full. There are those times He must have the faith for me! Let Him carry you through today...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

How Big is Your Shovel?

I was reading Psalm 88 this morning. This particular psalm is how I sound some days - hopeless! It is strange how it is comforting to find out that someone else has the same questions, the same lost feelings, and the same hopelessness that I have experienced! They seem to be digging around in my hole! lol! He is speaking of things like being full of trouble, living in the pit, and how afflicting life can be. I have those days too! Those are the days where I don't feel like my shovel is big enough - or that I cannot find enough fill dirt to fill the hole in!

 Isn't it odd that this Psalm is even in the Bible? It's not uplifting at all except to know that someone else did experience the deep questions about pains and life without receiving any answers either! lol! Why was it included? It is not an encouraging Psalm at all. And as I was reading it this morning I kept looking for the but.. but I will sing, but I will praise or something like that. And it's just not there! I had a good eye roll planned for it too - I'm sure you never have any days you feel that one!

So I began to realize once again that I must dig myself out of the caregiver's fog...so I started looking for my "shovel." And ever so slowly I had to write the rest of this psalm myself...I will sing...don't feel like it...I will praise...cannot argue with His worthiness...I will rejoice...in what?

I cannot tell you how many times I have to go back to the basics to get out of the pit. I start here: God is. Some days that is enough, others it is not. But to stop and embrace the fact - the truth - that He just is - is a great place to start. God is love, God is faithful, God is supreme, God is smarter than me!!! And there I  can relax...peace in the knowing - even when absolutely nothing makes sense - He is. I can live on that today!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

What I Need to Hear

When I am preparing to do a devotion for caregivers a lot of times I ask myself what do I need to hear today? It helps me at least find a starting place most of the time. And to be honest right now, I just need to hear that God is somewhere...hopefully nearer than I feel! Did you ever feel that way, or is it just me?

 This of course is where faith steps in and won't let us believe anything except that He is near. It's so ingrained in us that we know that's the right answer whether we feel  it or not! And it may not look like it to anyone else - but isn't that what true faith is all about...believing is the substance of the things we cannot see...or feel...or sense! But it even goes beyond the shallow religious teachings...because He is not just here to see to it that we attend church! He is with us on the journey. If God doesn't live outside the walls of the church then the caregiver is without hope for our daily lives....and beyond!

 The hope He gives cannot just be just for the hereafter either...what good does that do us when we are trying to live today with His strength? The thing to grab hold to here is that He is God throughout time. He's been the same God to all who have chosen to serve Him from the beginning; and He will continue to be the same until the end of time...simply walking through time with us.

The faith part is knowing that He is there even if you cannot feel He's there....so today look around you. There's evidence somewhere! Let Him show you today how close He really is!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What About the Cave?

This morning I was reading through some of Psalm 18 and how David had triumphed over his enemies. To be quite honest, I wasn't feeling it. So I thought to myself No, I need to read the one he wrote in the cave. So I turned over to Psalm 57. It's the one David wrote while he was hiding in the cave while Saul was pursuing him.

 He starts the Psalm out with a prayer asking for God's mercy and then a declaration immediately following. The soon-to-be king cries out to God and says Have mercy on me O God, have mercy on me! He had to be in anguish. Here God had told him he was to be king, and he could battle Saul and rightfully take the position according to the culture of the day. But he (rightly) chose not to lift his hand against Saul...to run instead. And now, he's in the cave...waiting...

 But immediately following his anguished prayer for God's mercy he makes his personal declaration: I look to You for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of Your Wings until this violent storm is past.

 Here David is, hiding in a cave; waiting on the promise of God to come to fulfillment. He's waiting on a dream to manifest...but with one breath he's crying out for the mercy of God and with the next declaring He will wait on Him! Do you ever feel that way? I do. One minute I am standing at the door of the cave, praying and asking for His help; and the next I am cowered down in the back of the cave just hiding out. In just a matter of a few seconds I can go to fully trusting...to shaking...and back. I'm thinking it's just part of the journey.

David goes ahead and declares God's faithfulness, and His promises. So wherever you are in "the cave" today, whether you are cowering in the back just trying to make another day or standing in the door boldly, declare His words, declare His promises...and then declare the I wills of David:

I will waken the dawn with my song
I will thank you Lord
I will sing your praises