Wednesday, May 24, 2017

His Light is Breaking Through

But I, through the abundance
of your steadfast love, will enter
Your house. I will bow down toward
Your holy temple in the fear of You. 

Psalm 5:7

Yesterday God demonstrated His "dunamis" power to me in a small but magnificent way. I've been staying with my mother for a few months now, caring for her since our Dad passed away. There have been times when I felt as if I wanted to run away, and it's easy to fall into a self pity trap.Yet I felt no burden of that when I arose from bed on Tuesday, only the peace of God.

Mom and I were going to Ladies Study, just a group of women from different areas of our city gathered together in Jesus' name to learn about respecting our husbands and loving our families, but really about letting God live through us, whether married, single, divorced or widowed.  This study only "opened up" recently, shortly after I arrived at Mom's. At times, "getting out the door" makes me anxious when Mom's sense of timing seems off. I dressed myself quickly and put on a dab of lipstick.When I went downstairs I saw that Mom already put on a pretty pink sweater and pants and was almost ready to go. There was no frown, but a smile on her face.

Without any cross words or impatience we both made it into the car early enough for a time cushion for our commute. So far, so good. But it was the message of the study that really got hold of both of our hearts.

Grace. Mercy. Forgiveness for people who don't deserve it. Because none of us deserve anything from God but He died on the cross to give us all things. Every day can be like Christmas with the free gift of God's salvation and the blessings He wants to shower us with.

All of this so that we don't have to continue on in the same old miserable rut we feel helpless to escape.

 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases ,
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
          Psalm 103: 1-5

He comes along and releases us from the heavy burden of wanting to do whatt's right, but finding it utterly impossible when we try in our own strength to do it.

At study, we read  letters that talk about these life-changing principles. Judy Seligman wrote the letters nearly thirty years ago when she went through a severe testing. In this trial, God personally taught her that He would come inside her and love the unlovely through her, and demonstrate to men and angels the power of Christ'slife lived out in a weak and fragile vessel. Back then, the message was powerful, but now there is even more to receive from this godly woman who has continued in the grace of God and exhibits the joy of the Lord more than anyone I know.

Mom has  come with me for a few weeks now to study , but the first couple of weeks she could barely hear. Her face showed frustration, and I probably showed it too. I wanted her to feel a part of things, but she was having trouble processing it all. Judy knew it was hard for both of us, but this time, Mom seemed to be actively participating, smiling and laughing, and then she perked up enough to share something from her own heart to the group.

In her own lovely way, Judy told Mom it was a wonderful thing to contribute . A light flashed on, as it were, in Mom's soul. I love this verse, and feel it explains the mini-miracle I witnessed yesterday:
Psalm 34: 5-6  Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.

Suddenly, I realized that Mom was not again saying she just wanted to die. She was brightened and encouraged by the word of God's grace. When we went home, she looked at her Bible even more and re-read some of our study material.

Then it occurred to me. God wants Mom to have this chance to hear the grace message, maybe in a new way. For many years she may have labored under wrong concepts, but God wants her to be free. None of this would have happened if God had not allowed the circumstances of the past year to happen in our lives.

Every day, it seems her spirit seens to lift a bit more. A hard yoke becomes easy for both of us when we take the burden of the One who gave everything to redeem us.

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Sudden Storm

They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, And are at their wits' end.  Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, So that its waves are still.  Then they are glad because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven.

Psalm 107: 27-30

I had no special plans for today when I got a call that my Mom needed an antibiotic. Rather than wait til we did errands tomorrow, we decided to drive the seven miles into town to get it. Just as we were loading up the garbage cans to take down the hill with us, I got a call that a bad storm was headed our way, even a tornado watch.

I probably should have waited, but we were ready to go and so I backed the car out of the garage and the rain started to pour as we drove down the steep hill.

I crept along the road and the rain kept coming harder and harder. We got her prescription (thank God for drive through pharmacy pick ups) and then we started to brave our way through the overflowing roads back home. At one point the rain came down in sheets, so strong that I pulled over. How could I drive when I couldn't see in front of me?

It took me a lot longer than usual to drive back out into the country to her house, and all along the way we saw evidence of the ground being oversaturated as muddy water flowed into the roads.

Isn't life often like a sudden storm? We think we have it all planned out but then a tragedy comes along and we feel like we are drowning in the midst of a huge deluge. It's easy to panic when these things come our way. That's my usual reaction, stopping to think my way through a crisis is not easy for me.

I knew my parents were getting old, I was helping them out by weekly visits and cleaning, going along for Mom's doctor appointments, etc. But then suddenly, Dad fell from a tree during a hunting accident last fall. A storm descended upon our family as we all gathered around his hospital bed, hoping desperately he could pull through. But God called him home four days later. 

Now I work with my sisters and we all take turns caring for mother, and sometimes I feel I am in a storm again. I had no idea a year ago that I would be living with her,being her caretaker. But God prepared me for the storm even in some of the things Dad said to me before he passed.

Just knowing that God is sovereign above all things is of such encouragement. Dad's "accident" was no surprise to God. It was appointed that my father would leave us then, even if it is so hard to accept, when we see so dimly on this side of eternity.

We have no guarantees of smooth sailing through life. Jesus promised us there would be trouble. How could there not be when every creature in this world is affected by the fall of man in the Garden?

Yet even in the midst of all the trials, the heartbreaks, the sadnesses we see in this vale of tears, we can be assured that God is still in control, that He watches over His children, that precious in His eyes is the death of His children. I know he rode with Mom and I in the storm today. 

Just one of thousands of His precious promises He gives to His undeserving children:

He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. Psalm 91:15
Even if His way of delivering us is our death in the midst of the storm, God is still in control. He has taken the sting out of death, remember? 

So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."
"O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" I Corinthians 15: 54-55

My comfort is in knowing that even if I don't know what tomorrow holds, I have a Savior that loves me, who never abandons me. Life is confusing, with its sudden twists and turns, but as a child of God I settle down and rest in His promise:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28