Are You OK?

It’s an Alabama winter day. The temperature has risen dangerously high, and everyone has battened down the hatches in anticipation of the severe weather that often results when cold fronts crash into warm fronts. I am tucked inside, thinking about you, those that read my writings, and wondering if you are ok.

This season is a tough one for many of us. It’s the time of year when the enemy brings up what is missing in our lives. I know that he keeps that “one thing we most want and seem to never get” in our faces all the time, but he pushes extra hard during the holidays. It’s one of his most effective discouragement tools. How do I know this? Because I haven’t gotten what I want the most in the whole world. I want my son free from mental retardation. Such a thing is not too hard for God.

The enemy knows what I want, and he knows that I have been waiting and believing for a long time. I don’t think that I am special in this. I think most of us long for an answer to that one prayer that is the most important of all. And I think we are all subject to despair when the enemy taunts us with reminders of how long we have waited for that answer.

Now, I can’t get your prayers answered. But, I can help with putting the devil back in his place. And that helps with the despair.

First, realize this. The enemy comes in on what we believe. If we believe that we have to have something in order to be ok, then guess what? All the enemy has to do to make us miserable is remind us, and keep reminding us, that we don’t have that one thing. Instant misery.

When we believe that we MUST have something – whatever that something may be – in order to be ok, hasn’t that one thing become our god?

Paul said this in Philippians 4:11. “For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in.”

Paul suffered. He was rejected by his people, beaten until he was crippled; he was imprisoned, betrayed and abandoned by his friends. And, in the midst of all of that suffering, he somehow learned to be content. He went on to say that the secret lay in being strengthened by Jesus.

Well then. God is no respecter of persons. If He strengthened Paul, He will strengthen us, too. If, in that strengthening, Paul learned to be content, so can we.

I pray for us all right now. Lord, strengthen us so that we can learn to be content!

Here is how I responded to the enemy’s taunts this time around: Lord, You have given me everything I need pertaining to life and godliness, so into Your hands, Father, I commit my spirit. (2 Peter 1:3; Luke 23:46).

No. The devil didn’t go away immediately. There was a struggle with my emotions. But, this time around, when the enemy’s cold front crashed into my warm front, I did not allow him to whip up his usual tornado of weeping and begging until I ended up, soggy and beaten, in the pit of despair. Because Jay’s healing is not my god. Not anymore. I don’t have to have that one thing to be ok. I have everything I need in my beautiful Lord.

Are you ok?

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2

Blessings upon your new year,
Susan
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Trust and Transition

 

cat hiding

Written January 2018

On September 10th, 2017, I drove my elderly mother through pounding rain to a busy emergency department. She had been scheduled to see a cardiologist on the following day, a Monday, but Hurricane Irma had just slammed into the coast of Florida. My mother’s Alabama city was flooded with refugees, and meteorologists warned that heavy rain and tornadoes were a strong possibility even as far north as Montgomery.

The night before, my mother had slept in her recliner because she couldn’t breathe lying down. I had paced the floor that night, asking the Lord what to do. Her doctor’s appointment had been cancelled. Everything was closing down. When morning arrived, I told her that we needed to go to the hospital emergency department. She rolled her eyes, but agreed.

Eight hours later she was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat and admitted to cardiac intensive care. My brother and sister-in-law took over for me and I left to get some rest.

My mother’s home was eerily empty that night. I walked in circles, living room to den, around through the kitchen and dining room, back through the living room. As I wore a path into my mother’s flooring, I asked the Lord, “Why? Why am I so anxious? Why don’t I trust you?”

The days that followed were spent in a shadowed hospital room, watching my mother rally a bit, then slide into silence. My nights were spent alone, walking my path through her desolate house, knowing what was coming. Only a few days into my vigil, the Lord spoke to me, saying “You don’t think that I am kind.”

It’s funny how you know what the Lord means even when its days later that he answers your question. The reason I was struggling with trusting him through this transition was because I didn’t believe (in my heart) that he was kind.

My mother came home on Hospice. Two weeks after our trip through the pouring rain, she passed away. Looking back, I see just how kind the Lord was to her and to me, smoothing her passage into heaven in ways that meant the most to her. She was able to live out her very long life in her own home; she died quickly – all things considered – in her right mind, surrounded by her family. She left all of her financial affairs in order; her funeral arranged and paid for in advance, so that my brother and I had very little to do.

As the days passed, I found myself thinking about the Lord’s words to me. And I began to understand how trust grows. Trust grows in response to the consistent acts of kindness performed by the other person.

The Lord didn’t want me to be upset with myself because I struggled to trust him during that time of transition. He knows that I cannot grow trust by simply deciding to grow it; any more than I can grow sunflowers without first planting sunflower seeds.

No significant person was consistently kind to me during my childhood. As a result, trust was never produced within me. By the time I received the Lord, I was a completely unchurched young adult. When I became involved in a church, I was rigorously taught that I had to trust God. That God would reward my trust with the blessings that I desperately needed. Sort of like a system of exchange. I pay God for his blessings with trust. No trust. No blessing for me!

If you think about it, that kind of doctrine makes God look bad. I try to be kind to everyone all the time. They don’t have to pay me for it.

Now there is a time to choose to trust the Lord. To make the decision to believe his word; to walk his path. And that choice is crucial to our maturity. But there is a deeper trust. One that can only grow through relationship. That kind of trust makes us settle down in green pastures.

Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest … Hebrews 4:11

So here is what I am learning. Kindness – God’s consistent acts of kindness towards me – is the seed that produces trust. I cannot grow it by myself. But I can participate in the process by asking him to make me aware of his kindnesses. In this dark world, it is so easy to focus on all the bad stuff. We need his help to see the good stuff he is doing for us.

(He) raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6-7

Blessings and hugs,
Susan

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God’s Love Makes You Beautiful (Part 3)

Written August 2017

What are you holding on to? What are you storing inside because you believe no one cares or can help? I was storing grief. Lots and lots of unprocessed grief, because I believed that expressing it just made things worse.

This morning I gave all that grief – years and years of it – to the Lord. Had a howling melt-down in my kitchen. Thank the Lord I stayed home from church and my guys went on without me. Would have hated to have had that noisy, messy breakdown in public!

So now He has my grief and I feel better. If I am going to be loved, I must be known. To be known by God means no more hiding from Him.

So why was I stuffing all that grief? Shortly after receiving Jesus, I joined a Word of Faith church where I was taught that my blessings depended utterly upon MY faith. Well, I didn’t even know what faith was. To be completely honest (and why not?), I didn’t trust anyone to have my best interests at heart. Let’s just say that I brought some baggage into my walk with the Lord. Oh OK! I brought a lot of baggage.

At the same time, I was distraught over my young son being intellectually challenged. When I was told that God would heal him, if I would only believe, then I was on it with all my strength: willing into existence, decreeing, believing, quoting scriptures, making a positive confession, striving, striving, striving, because I believed my little boy’s well-being depended upon my efforts. Eventually, I would become overwhelmed and crack, melting down and weeping for days. Of course, that meant that I had to start believing God all over again, because I had blown my son’s healing by feeling actual human emotion and expressing actual human anguish and doubt. Until one day, after many years of this, I quit trying and the tears dried up.

That little boy is 40 years old now and still intellectually challenged. But, I no longer believe that his well-being is my sole responsibility. Over the years, I have intentionally pursued inner healing and deliverance, studying many different schools of thought, so that I could learn to accept being genuinely loved by my good Shepherd who tenderly cares for me AND for my son. Line upon line, precept upon precept, I have settled into the rest of the Lord. And you know what? He is safe. I can be myself with Him, feeling what I feel and thinking what I think. He is my friend through it all, patiently guiding me into all truth. And you know what else? My feelings and my thoughts – even my perception of reality – are steadily changing, shifting and adjusting until they align with His.

Do I believe God heals? Yes. I really do. Because the Lord has promised and He is not a man that He should lie. Do I stress over it? Not so much.

So now, after my messy, loud kitchen meltdown, I’m feeling better because I have shared my grief with the Lord. If I am going to let God love me, then I must let Him know me.

What are you hiding from the Lord? I think I have hidden it all: unbelief, fear, anger, resentment, pain … and a truckload of grief. No more hiding. He wants to know me and I want to be known.

If the message blessed you, please leave a comment. If it didn’t bless you and you feel the need to correct or scold me, email is a better venue for that sort of thing. Blessings to you all.