Tag Archives: faith

Doubt-Filled Shoe

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There’s a line in a song, Do It Again by Elevation Worship, that I simply can’t let go: “I’m still in Your hands, this is my confidence, You’ve never failed me yet.” Now, let me start off by saying that I adore this song. I truly want God to “do it again” when it comes to my healing. When I read about Lazaurus or the woman with the blood issue, I think “God, where’s my miracle? Do it for me too! Do it again!” And I believe that He will. There’s a super-good reason He hasn’t done it completely. And even if He doesn’t heal me, for whatever reason, I’ll be ok with that. (It took me YEARS to get to this point in my thinking.) So even though I love this song, there’s a sticking point for me. It’s in the 3-letter word: “yet.” 

“Yet” is defined in the MacMillan dictionary as being “Used in something that has not happened or is not true at a particular time but will probably happen.” (Emphasis added by me.) Isn’t that just like us? God has NEVER failed us, but we, being the faith-filled believers we are, need to leave that space there…juuuuuuuuust in case. Like we’re waiting for the other doubt-filled shoe to drop. It’s been a few years, you know, of God being God and never once has He ever failed anyone, no matter the situation. BUT we have this “confidence” that seems a little twisted to me. We have confidence that He’s never failed any of us…yet? 

There’s power in our words (Proverbs 18:21: The tongue has the power of life and death) and some can say, “Oh you’re overthinking this” which guaranteed I am. It’s what I do. And then I write about it. 

There have been many times in my life when I’ve thought (and prayed) “God! If you can, then why aren’t you??” If you can heal me, why am I dealing with this pain? If you can save that guy, why is he going through all this mess? If you can calm the storm, why is it still raging? I don’t have a problem telling you this because I don’t think I’m alone in my thinking. And I know there’s a reason, but I don’t know it. And that’s another issue I have, WHY in the world can’t I know the reason, God?? (I’m chuckling as I type this, picturing Him shaking His head, amused. He gets me.) 

I don’t think adding “yet” to the statement that He’s never failed us screams confidence of any sort. It’s amazing how much doubt a 3-letter word can hold. It speaks to our level of faith. We have to leave that door open, just in case. What if we’re wrong? What if we’re wrong about all of it? What if THIS is the time that God is going to fail us? We certainly can’t tell we’re trusting in Him by the words that come out of our mouths at times. If we truly believed that God has never and will not ever fail us, would we speak differently? Act differently? Go about our days and life goals differently? Of course! Where is our faith? He’s never failed me. He’s never failed us. 

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Winning Against Myself

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See, the thing is, (I’ve always wanted to start a post like we were in the middle of a conversation) that I don’t feel like doing things. Ever. I love going to church, but I never feel like going to church. I never feel like going to the grocery store or to the park with my kids or outside to hit a ball around. I can remember two moments in the past decade when I thought, “This is fantastic. All is well. I couldn’t possibly feel better. How exciting!” I think this may be the definition of an autoimmune illness. 

I’ve recently spoken to some people who have no idea what this feels like…to never feel like doing things. One of the women, in her 80’s, said she’d never been sick a day in her life until her first bout with pneumonia. Another man said “My wife and I have always had good health” and they’d been married for 60-some years. Jealousy is an ugly emotion, but I gotta admit, I’m jealous. I want so badly to feel like doing things. I can’t imagine not having to fight myself every single day to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. After all, I still have a job. I have 2 unbelievably talented kids who deserve the best mom ever. And I have a husband who deserves to be loved forever. And the truth behind all of this is: I hurt. I ache. I pop. I cry. I never feel good. And I don’t write these things for pity (Eeyore voice: “I doubt I’d get it annnnnywaaaaay.” Ha! I cracked myself up on that one.) I’m just offering perspective. I hold onto those 2 moments in my head of times past when I felt good over the past 10 years. I remember those like it was yesterday. I had no pain anywhere. I wasn’t dizzy and I smiled an unbelievably real smile. If I thought for even a second those moments wouldn’t return and were gone forever, I’d stay in bed all day every day. 

When I did the Physique and Fitness competition, that was me, fighting against my biggest enemy as well as myself. It wasn’t to show off a super-fit body onstage in front of an audience, although that’s exactly what I did. It was to prove that I win. I’m only in competition with myself and I win every time. I didn’t care what the other girls looked like and I wasn’t even upset when I didn’t win (ok, a little upset…I worked HARD!) It was an accomplishment showing what one can do if one blocks out the other voices, the voices that say “You can’t, you won’t, you are only human, this hurts, this aches, this is too hard!”  

When you have to fight yourself as hard as someone with autoimmune issues does, you realize how strong you are. It’s one of the biggest ironies in my life that the only one tough enough to take me out is me! (Thank you to my husband for reminding me of this.) I know God has a plan in all of this, because I haven’t come this far for this to be how far I’ve come. Eleanor Roosevelt said “With the new day comes new strength.” I refuse to give up even when I feel like it. And I won’t back down. I don’t know how. 

Superhero Flesh

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I find myself in a country I’m not familiar with, but I hear a distant voice across a swaying ocean breeze, “You’re in the Carribbean, baby…” I begin to walk to meet my driver and she’s walking away, disgruntled for some reason that I’m not aware of. She laughs as she looks back, saying, “Good luck!”

I ask someone for directions and that man laughs too. It’s obvious he’s not going to help me and to be perfectly honest, from the looks of him, I’m not sure I would want him to. I get behind the wheel of the car and realize I’ve forgotten my glasses, the ones that I only wear at night while driving. Great. It almost instantly gets dark. I watch the sun set as I take off on a dark roadway lined with trees and as I do, I notice I think I’m headed in the wrong direction. The paint on the road has long-faded and I can’t see whether I’m on the correct side or not. The actual roadway signs are facing the other direction. Not a good sign…pun intended. Suddenly, my headlights go dim, then dark. Just when I’m about to have a breakdown of some kind, the car beats me to it. Without warning, it sputters and shakes to a stop in the middle of the immense darkness. I looked up, thinking “What now?” as I felt a chill rush through me all the way to the bone.

It turned out it was my husband rolling over that shook the bed and not my car in the Carribbean. It was all a dream, but one that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since.

We don’t know how to handle the darkness in this world or which way to turn most days. It’s foreign to us to simply trust as it’s not in our nature. So many days, I don’t even know what “trusting” looks like. I’ve sure learned who I can’t trust a lot though. We look for help in others, but many times, they just can’t help us. And maybe not because they don’t want to or don’t have the time, they just can’t for whatever reason.

Which way do you go when it’s just you? Are you relying on “just you”? Every time I think I’m not, I realize that’s exactly what I’m doing: trying to handle everything on my own again. Our flesh wants to be superhero-esque! We want people to wonder, “How does he/she DO IT ALL???” In that moment of sitting in that dark, still car, on a dark road, lined with scary-looking dark trees, and no signs, in a distant unfamiliar place, it occurred to me that I have no ideas. Sure, I can come up with something, (thank God I woke up before I had to do that) but is it the very best plan? Probably not. (In fact, I’d bet the kids’ Halloween candy on it.) Can we trust God that He has the very best plan for our lives? The quick and easy response is “Yes! Of course!” But do we say this while we worry about our kids, finances, jobs, house, and that loved one in the hospital. Are we losing hair or sleep while we go through what God has allowed in our lives? What does your brand of trust look like? Mine’s been looking a whole lot like someone who doesn’t have a powerful God on their side lately. I feel like I’ve been kicked back down every time I try to get up this week, but I’ve got news: I, nor you, have to be under anyone’s boot. No power in hell can keep you down if God wants to raise you up. I’m on a mission this week to figure out just how strong I really am.

 

The Flicker

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I sit here reflecting on what an amazing thing family is. Simple. People helping other people. Knowing full-well who you can count on. The individuals that would never hurt you if they could keep from it. Hugs. Smiles. Peace. Encouragement. I have all of this in my family, whether they’re in the same house or living in a different state. God has blessed me with role models, really great, strong ones who never surrender, even though there are days they want to. With tears in their eyes, they say “I’m doin’ ok” when you ask and you believe it, because we have a prayer-answering Father. And even though you may see some of their hurt, or that flicker of pain in their eyes, you have faith that they are ok. And on those days they want to quit, you’re able to remind them of that flame, that flicker of strength they possess, that can’t be extinguished, no matter the battle. No matter the odds or statistics. Diagnoses, injuries, heartbreak, and aches that most will never know about, will one day be erased. God is Alpha and Omega and those who call Him family can rely on His strength. We get tired, frustrated, offended, and discouraged, but with Him as our Father, we don’t lose. We get to look on His face one day and as every single individual’s knee bows, we will get it. We will finally comprehend what all of this has been for. And all the stress and anxieties of this short life will be a distant notion we can’t seem to recall. So if you don’t have the kind of family I do, be family for someone else. Hug freely. Smile incessantly. Sit beside someone and just be there in the moment. Breathe. And if you don’t know what a real relationship is like with the Creator of this place we call home for awhile, chase after it. Boldly ask God to open your eyes to that love that is like no other.

One o’ Those

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I’ve had one of those days or maybe not so much days, but weeks. One of those days when everything I throw at the trash can (think full coffee filter. Why do I throw those things?) doesn’t actually go inside the trash can and one of those days when you look up to the sky to try to get a handle on things and breathe, but a weird worm from a nearby tree drops onto your upper lip. (Ok, that didn’t really happen, but I did visualize it happening as I looked skyward that day. I have a very active imagination that can be a pro or a con at any given time.) So as I’m walking along, wondering about weird worms, I realize so much about our day is perspective and where we place our focus. My thoughts after I missed the trash can were, “Geeeeez, isn’t anything gonna go right today??” In that moment, I felt a much gentler thought almost audibly whisper, “There are many things that have gone right today.” That whisper, I believe, is the Holy Spirit. There’s no describing it, but I’ve heard it with my heart before many times. (“You don’t have to do this.” Is one of my favorite statements the Comforter has ever made to me. That was when I thought I had to drink. A lot. That’s a previous blog post.)

When I was gently corrected and reminded of the many blessings God had poured out on my ungrateful head that day, I realized that there are only moments of discouragement. Not “bad days.” It’s unlikely that every minute of a 24-hour period could be bad. It’s only moments we, in our fleshy ways, try to make out to be worse than they truly are by focusing on those instead of the good ones.

When Jesus left this earth after being raised from the dead, He said, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26 (NIV) I know I need an Advocate. Somebody who’s gonna help me out by reminding me that every little thing’s gonna be alright (some of you now have a Marley song stuck in your head now. You’re welcome.) Even on one o’ those days I throw the banana away and start to eat the peel.

That Little Hand

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I am so blessed and lemme tell you why. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine being married. Now, not only am I married, but I’m married to a Godly, praying man who not only recognizes when I need prayer, but follows through with it. I think all of us know how difficult that can be. So, I am happily spoiled in a way that I never thought I could or would appreciate. And I could almost write it off as being a not-so-blessed, but-more-of-a-typical happening, but as soon as I begin to take it for granted, I feel another hand. A smaller, 5-year-old hand gently touches my back. There are no words spoken because I know she is listening to her daddy pray. She not only hears the power that those words hold, but sees them as I miraculously (yes, I said miraculously) regain strength and energy into my body. Maybe to some it wouldn’t mean much. Maybe you picture Benny Hinn yelling and people dropping to the floor. I don’t know what you think about miracles. And I’ll be really honest, I don’t care. (Yup, said that too.) I know that I literally go from being too weary to walk or lift my head because my muscles give out to being able to continue on, whether that continuation leads to putting breakfast on the table (ok, it’s the coffee table—the kids eat in front of the TV sometimes. Ok, a lot. I’m letting it go.) or heading to work to do what I love. That’s real. That’s true. That’s what I choose to think on today. And that’s why I’m blessed beyond measure.

Recognize

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While reading in Jonah, the book I’ve been stuck in for awhile now (better than a big fish, right? Yuk yuk) it hit me that Jonah didn’t know that he was getting out of that fish.He had no idea what the outcome would be. We know the end of the story and have for years, except for maybe the actual “vomit” part…they left that out when I was a kid. We realize he got out and finally did what God asked him to do. But while in the whale (and please don’t argue with me about what kind of fish it was…I’m not concerned about that.) Jonah had some time to think. God gifted him with that time by providing the huge creature. Does anyone else find that amazing and hilarious? My NIV study Bible literally says that He “provided a great fish to swallow Jonah” (Jonah 1:17) God does provide, I’m just wondering if Jonah had to laugh at the irony while covered in muck.

In all of his pondering, he had to disregard what his senses told him. He had to focus on the why, not the scary sights,eery sounds,and nasty smell. (I won’t go into the other senses but to say”taste” EW!) He had to control his thoughts and cry out to the One Who created that fish for help. So, quite a few hours/days, he spent crying, praying, and giving thanks. I would think that would lead to some pretty enlightening epiphanies.It wasn’t that he didn’t recognize where he was, Jonah knew good and well that he was literally in the pit of this big guy’s stomach, but he also began to recognize Who had the power and Who had possession.He eventually grasped the fact that God had ownership of the seas and the sailors that had hurled him into the vicious waves. This God knew Jonah. He knew him better than he could ever possibly know himself. All he could do in this moment of recognition was to confess and ask forgiveness. He had to shake his head and wonder what took him so long to understand. He finally comprehended that God would go to any lengths necessary to not only show His love for one of His kids, but for all of them.

As an added bonus to God’s plan, because once Jonah got that he was lost, he recognized that others were lost exactly like he was. Salvation comes from the Lord and all it took was a few days and nights in the stomach of a sea creature for him to see that very, very clearly. My absolute favorite line in this book is “What I have vowed I will make good.” Jonah was speaking of the promises he made to God during his special one-on-one time that the Creator made possible. (Hehe) How many times have we promised things to God and not made good? God recalls and makes good on His promises each and every day, no matter our scenery or situation.He has made so many vows to us when we certainly don’t deserve them. My goal today is to just be, where I am, whether I like that place or not, and give thanks to the God Who deserves each and every one.