I know everyone’s probably still reflecting on the stone that covered the tomb, but I have opened my Bible to “Daniel in the Den of Lions” for the past 2 days. I found myself reading about the stone that was brought to place over the opening of the den after Daniel was thrown in with the lions. My NIV Bible says they placed it there “so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.” If ever there was a situation I’d like changed, it would be if I were hangin’ out in close proximity to some hungry lions.
Let’s think about it because this is one of those stories I hadn’t paid much attention to since Sunday school days. Anything resembling food catapulted near some large cats would soon be non-existent, right? I’ve seen those kitties chase down some pretty quick creatures on TV. If indeed, that meal was set before them on the proverbial “silver platter,” what would keep them from chowing down? Their instincts would take over. If an animal is hungry, it’s not like my 4 year-old who has to have a certain shape of gluten-free mac and cheese, it’s not going to be picky. Daniel should have been rare, dead meat. It wasn’t a “what” but a “Who” that kept them from dining in. Daniel had a real relationship with the Almighty.
People face “situations” all the time: death, depression, anxiety, sickness, past trauma, stress, the list goes on and on. Why aren’t they instantly rescued? Why do they have to endure so much? I’ve found myself in a place where I get aggravated, to the tune of: “If You can, WHY don’t You?” Many of you, I’m sure, are uncomfy speaking to the Creator of the universe in this manner and I get that, but me and God, we’ve been through some stuff. He’s the One that’s been there no matter what and I can’t say that about too many. Even a close family member physically can’t be there every single time you need them to be. So why isn’t God plucking people out of these precarious tragedies and showing the world how awesome He is?
In my ponderings, I go back to Daniel 6:10 that says once ol’ boy learns that there’s been a new rule made, he goes home to do what he always does 3 times every single day: gets down on his knees and prays and thanks God. Are we doing anything like this? I saw a meme the other day that said complaining about God not speaking to you with your Bible closed is like complaining you’re not getting any texts when your phone is turned off. This hit me as absurd—who’s turning their phone off?? Could this be the problem? Have the cat videos, as cute as they may be, taken up valuable space in our lives? Do we really need more gardening quick tips or can we just go out and plant the garden? Do we require more recipes on variations for “Crack Chicken”? Silly, I know, but I dare you to keep track of how much time you spend looking at your phone. I’d be willing to bet it’s more than 3 times a day.
Can we do more to build up our faith and put our trust in Him and His perfect plan? Daniel’s situation did in fact change drastically…despite the big bad rock. And yours can too. Believe it.
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.
I hear the word covered in my head and think of insurance, or God being described as having wings, or someone picking up the check. (Note: I never claimed to be sane and I have a LOT of thoughts…many times simultaneously.) I woke up at 3:30 this morning praying in my sleep. And as I came to some form of consciousness, the thought occurred that I never ever want to be the judge. Only God would be able to determine what He won’t forgive.
So if we find ourselves in a position of arrogance, I’m challenging you, and myself as well, to place ourselves lower, at His feet. Maybe it’s time to show our love for Jesus humbly, recalling everything the Creator Himself has set us free of. People with tattoos and piercings of all kinds can serve God too. The elderly woman diagnosed with dementia still has a plan for her life. That pastor who messed up big is not unforgivable. We are not the judge, nor should we want to be. Jesus chose to be on the cross for all. We don’t get to decide what or who’s covered by His blood and God’s wings.
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.
Luke 14:11 states: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” I can’t help but think of all the “duck lips” and selfies and derrieres I’ve seen within the past couple weeks or maybe years. People are proud. Proud of what? Their face? Their booty? A certain amount of self-confidence and a healthy dose of self-esteem is appropriate, sure. But I have to wonder: What are we constantly seeking? Approval? Compliments? Someone to notice how worthy we are of attention? As a whole, I think we are placing priority not on the God Who made us, but us.
I don’t want to exalt those who shouldn’t be, namely me. Anything I do is only because God allows me to do it. I have no talents that He hasn’t given me and until I have prayed about a situation, my ideas are limited at best. It’s not easy to live in this world and be set apart from it simultaneously. We were called to be renewed and transformed by the Word of God and some (I dare not say “most” for fear of my stomach turning) don’t even know what it says because the only time they open their Bible is on Sunday mornings, if they didn’t forget it at home. Ouch. That one stung me just a little bit, too.
It’s for that reason that for the next 30 days, I will be carrying a Bible with me. Anywhere I go, the Word of God will be readily available and at my fingertips, much like the smartphone I’m tired of eyeballing. I’ve come to a place where I need more God. More peace. More wisdom. More of anything He’s offering. “God30” begins tomorrow and I look forward to the insights I expect to receive. My priorities must shift. Instead of studying the “art of myself” and how to take the perfect selfie with ideal lighting in the greatest of angles, I’ll study anything the Creator Himself wants to point out each day. I can practice my Daffy Duck mouth another day.
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.
Persecution by Facebook? Weird. The post quite simply stated: “God>Buddha.” This is my belief. Wholeheartedly. The Living Creator of the universe and also my living, breathing, being wins against a mere mortal, especially one who is no longer with us, any day. But I digress. The following, lest anyone think I could post something such as this without thought, is a brief overview of what went through my head regarding the topic for nearly a week after.
Day 1: It’s my page and I’ll post what I want.
Day 2: I did stand for what I believe since I posted 2 names (One was the Creator of the Universe and the other, a man the first, also known as Alpha, created, who had amazing principles for life… as does the Creator’s Son, ironically)
Day 3: I’ll supply the reason behind the post. I believe many are looking for something, yet don’t know what or who. I understand that because I’ve been there. I’ve been in that place where you need more and grow exhausted due to not finding it. And the answer certainly isn’t in mere individuals because they are just that, individual humans searching for truth themselves. The Buddhist principles offer peace, a beautiful serenity that so many crave in this world. But true peace is found in the One Who created Buddha. I believe we serve a living God and I’ve seen miracles in this country and another as well that cannot be explained away.
Day 4: Simply because one doesn’t believe in God doesn’t make Him any less real.
Day 5: It’s weird that my Buddhist friends aren’t offended…
Each of these days, I have prayed for those who haven’t experienced God the way I have. It is my opinion and also a fact that God is greater because the creation does not supersede the Creator Himself. This is what I believe.