Trust–When She’s Turning Blue?

Trust–how can I trust the nurse, when my newest little granddaughter is obviously not happy with what she is doing?

Yesterday, Callie Brooke made her way into the world, and we praise the Lord that Mommy and baby are doing great!  She was only a few minutes old when we met.   In fact, she had not even been cleaned up from the delivery when I had the privilege of holding her.  And then, I was able to watch the nurse do her work, part of which was to give Callie her first bath.

Callie was not enjoying it!  “Oh, you’re one of those babies that holds her breath,” she said as Callie turned blue!  This can’t be good!  It’s probably destroying her brain cells, I silently huffed, smiling on the outside!

But as we talked, the sweet nurse shared that she’s been doing this for twenty-one years!  Can you imagine how many babies she’s washed?  It was very apparent that she knew what she was doing, AND she was also loving every minute!  In short, Callie was in good hands!

Whose Hands are you in?

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. John 10:29

As a believer, you are in Jesus’ hands. And just in case you didn’t get the point, Jesus gives us the following verse:

My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

I often refer to this verse to assure new believers that they are secure in their decision to trust Christ as their Savior. In fact, it’s one of the strongest statements supporting eternal security in the Bible.  Am I stronger than my God?  Can I remove myself from God’s hand by my own sinful actions?

How secure are we?  Twenty-one years of experience settled in my mind concerning my little granddaughter, and  I am trusting the keeping of my soul to the Eternal Creator God of the Universe!  He has no beginning–has always been, He created EVERYTHING, knows EVERYTHING, sees EVERYTHING, hears EVERYTHING.  He knows my thought before I think them!  He knows every tomorrow I will face; in fact, He’s planned every one of them!!  Wow!  That’s security!  And I’m a fool NOT to trust Him!  So why is it so hard?  🙂

This trust thing requires faith.  I could see the proof that the nurse knew what she was doing. She was standing right in front of me, doing her work.  Although I know in my heart that God is here, I can only know that, by faith! I recently said to my husband that it doesn’t seem much like faith any more.  God is such a part of my life, that it would be more difficult not believe than to believe!  That didn’t happen overnight, but what the hymn “In the Garden” says is true:

And He walks with me,
And He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own.
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

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The God of the Impossibe

Exodus 4:2-4

And the LORD said unto him, “What is that in thine hand?

And he said, “A rod.”

And he said, “Cast it on the ground.”

And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.

And the LORD said unto Moses, “Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail.

And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand

Do you serve the God of the Impossible?  I love this little slice of reality in Moses’ life.  Even though Cecil B. Demille makes it look as though the burning bush incident happened only a short time after he left Egypt, it was forty years later. The actual time line of Moses’ life falls into forties: forty years in Egypt, forty years in Midian, and forty years in the wilderness leading the Israelites.

God has just spoken to Moses of His mission, and Moses is telling God all the reasons why it won’t work! This is the first of two signs that God gives Moses to convince the Israelites that he is God’s man.

Do you like snakes?  Would you like to pick one up…by the tail?  Anyone who handles snakes knows that you don’t pick up a snake by the tail! Actually, common sense would tell you not to pick up a snake by its tail.  It’s sort of like grabbing a cat by the tail, except the results could be deadly! We don’t know what kind of snake it was, but whatever the type, Moses ran from it.

However, there is no break in the action: God tells him to pick up the snake by the tail and Moses does it. Faith: Forsaking All, I Trust Him!  Forsaking all commons sense, I do what He commands.

What is the impossible thing in your life?  Impossible things can be personal struggles with bad habits or sins; or, they can involve someone else, whose actions are affecting your life. Circumstances involving finances, relationships, attitudes, wrong choices: they all can create impossible situations in our lives, and we come to God begging Him to do SOMETHING!

But first, perhaps He is asking you, “What is in thy hand?”  What is it that you are clutching so tightly that God wants to use to do the impossible?  You see, if you are in control, then God is not.  He wants to do the impossible, but so often, we must hand over the reins before He can do it.

It may be so impossible, that you only laugh, like Sarah: having a child at the age of ninety? IMPOSSIBLE!  Can you believe God for the impossible?  Can you allow Him to teach you through the impossible? Will you hand EVERYTHING over to Him so that He can do the impossible?  Are you willing to wait for Him to do the impossible on His timeline and not yours? You can be guaranteed that any great accomplishment for God started with an impossible idea. Never think that God cannot do it.  If it is HIS will, it can be done!

Later, Moses will stand at the Red Sea and say, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.”  (Exodus 14:13) It’s always a great joy when God just does the impossible.  They stood and watched as God parted the Red Sea.  OOOh! Ahhh! Wow!  Isn’t God awesome!  He’s doing the impossible!

Sometimes though, He asks a price to do the impossible, as perhaps you read in “Wet Feet.”  Will you do it? WARNING: it will cost you something.  Think about Moses, reaching out his hand, keeping an eye on that serpent’s fangs dripping with venom; and yet he trusted God to do the impossible, so that when he stood before the people and he stood before Pharaoh, he was ready once again to trust the God of the Impossible

Trust? Really?

ID-100177013Resting in the arms of Jesus – what does that mean?  Trusting in our Lord…completely – how do you do that when life is so full of responsibilities and trials?  Those are good questions which we may answer soundly one day and then need to wrestle down the next!

My first roommate in college was a believer.  At the time, I was saved “so as by fire,” (1 Cor. 3:15) which means that I was a baby Christian.  She was a rock!  She ate meat from the Word and it showed, while I hadn’t even established the habit of reading my Bible!

At the time, I thought she was weak.  She always seemed to lean on someone else for decisions, especially God.  It seemed like a cop-out to me.  But when her father died our freshman year, I fell apart and she rested in the arms of Jesus!

Why must we hold on so tightly to the reins of our lives?  In the next few months, both of our sons are facing live-changing decisions.  Those decisions may also change my life, and I have stewed and worried and begged God to do what suits ME best!  What a nag I’ve been!  I try to couch my prayers with “Thy will be done,” but He knows and I know my heart!! 😦  God is teaching me to rest!

I often think back to our family’s trips to Canada.  We would leave very early in the morning.  My sister and I would snuggle down in the back seat and before we knew it, we were at Niagara Falls, crossing the border.  Why was I able to just sit back and relax?  I never once asked Dad if he knew the way or if the gas tank was full or if he was even sleepy and ready to fall asleep at the wheel.  I TRUSTED HIM COMPLETELY!

What a rebuking lesson for me!  My dad was a wonderful man and was certainly trustworthy; but oh, how much more is my Heavenly Father worthy of my trust?  There’s no comparison!

As I prayed for my sons this morning, I realized once again that I can trust God completely to guide them in the way that  they should go; and how blessed I am that both sons are seeking the Lord’s leading even more than me!   Such a peace came to my heart that I needed to share it with you!  The wonderful thing about spiritual attributes and blessings is that they are available to all who believe!  You don’t have to be rich or smart or talented or important to trust God!  It only takes one thing: surrender!

 

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5,6

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God’s Ultimate Creation – Our Ultimate Sacrifice

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.  Psalm 19:1-4

What would you name as God’s ultimate creation?  Many of you know how I love the stars. If I go down behind the house, the lights from the church street sign and the business next door is shadowed, and I can see a slice of the evening sky in total darkness.  If you stay out there long enough allowing your eyes to adjust, more and more stars appear; and when looking through binoculars – the sight is breath-taking: literally billions of stars dot the sky like something out of an astronomy textbook!  Are the heavens God’s ultimate creation?  Or is it the beauties of our earth: crashing waterfalls, breathtaking summits, or the myriad of unique creatures in the animal kingdom?

Although all these are wonderful creations which shout of their Creator’s existence, God’s ultimate creation is man.  Though he cures God, denies His existence, and goes his own way, man is made in the image of God; and only man carries a living soul within his body. (Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.)

At times, this ultimate creation requires the ultimate sacrifice on our part: the death of a loved one.  This summer, we witnessed the amazing faith of Dr. and Mrs. Phelps and others in their congregation as they were interviewed by the local press concerning the loss of their son, daughter-in-law and unborn grandchild in a horrific bus accident.  Other lives were lost as well, but because of their loss, many souls of God’s ultimate creation were saved.

Just this morning, I heard of another death: a retired missionary in Mexico.  After a weeklong visit with her grandchildren, the wife came home to find that her husband had been bound and beaten to death.  My first reaction was, “Why, Lord,” especially because he was the brother of my dear mentor who just lost her husband several weeks ago.  “It’s too much, Lord,” my heart cried.

How do we square the idea, that God is always good and always does what is best when we face the ultimate sacrifice?

Years ago, while visiting in a nearby neighborhood for our church in Greenville, SC, we finished a newer development and then started walking down a dirt road that led out of the back of the development.  We literally crossed over the tracks into what I can only describe as a shanty town: a row of ramshackle houses lined both sides of the road.  As we walked up onto the porch of the first place, we were careful to miss the holes in the flooring and knocked on the two-room shack.  From inside, we were called to come in.  A black man who looked to be as old as time itself spoke to us awhile before he motioned us to the other room. “She’d like to hear what you have to say,” he said.

In the adjoining room lay his wife on a bed.  The sheets were gray, and although it was warm outside, the place was stifling because of the wood stove that was burning in the living room.  As she beckoned us in, the first thing I noticed was her missing teeth, but then I noticed that both her arms were missing as well.  It was one of the hardest visits I ever made, but it was also one of the most rewarding.  As we spoke to her, she became the one with the “Good News” that ministered to our spirits.  I can still hear her quoting Job 1:21: “…the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

How can these people “stay the course” in the face of such difficulties?  Once again God gives us the answer through His Word and His Spirit working in and through His people. Hannah Whitall Smith states:

“We may make out of each event in our lives either a Juggernaut (a very large, heavy truck) to crush us or a chariot of God in which to ride to heights of victory.  It all depends on how we take things – whether we lie down under our trials and let them roll over and crush us or whether we climb up into them as into a chariot and make them carry us triumphantly onward and upward.” (God is Enough, October 2)

The ache is still there, the vacant place still haunts us, and there are times of defeat and discouragement; but our anchor WILL hold if we don’t let go of the chain!

Can I Trust Him?

ID-10079748A week ago, we were on our way to South Carolina for the main purpose of hearing our son Nathan’s piano recital.  We stopped in Virginia for a short visit with Tom’s family and then arrived at our destination on Friday afternoon.  After a wonderful visit (and AWESOME recital!!!), we drove the twelve hour trip home on Monday.

Before we left, I knew that I would be substitute teaching Tuesday through Friday, and I did my share of worrying before we left – wondering how I was going to survive!  I know many of you work full time, but for me, it overflows my plate. (Plus – do you remember what YOU used to do to those subs?!  STRESS!)

Why can’t I simply trust the One who created the universe and keeps every star and planet in place, to order my days according to His purpose?  He knows what I can do and not do.  He  is completely aware of my shortcomings and limitations; although, at times I do believe His opinion of my abilities is too high!

And now for the rest of the story:  what did my gracious Father do?  He sent a snowstorm Tuesday night and Wednesday which delayed school by two hours; and today is a half day!  God is SO good!

Remember, dear reader, remember!  Psalm 143 starts out with David’s reminder to God that his enemies are getting the upper hand, and his reaction is so similar to ours today: “Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.” (v. 4)  We cry and complain, moan and groan…even whine a bit.  We remind God of all our troubles – troubles that He has directed our way – as if He didn’t know what is going on in my life!

Oh, to be like David!  He remembers: “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.” (v.5) Remember past victories and lessons from the Lord – they are the stuff that keeps us going!  They build our confidence in God and give us the courage to trust Him!

Again, David says it so well: “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” Psalm 118:8  And just in case you don’t get it, he says it again with even more emphasis: “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.” (v.9)

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Dealing with Disappointment (Part Two)

 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”  Proverbs 13:12

You may have noticed that the countdown calendar is not on my blog page any more.  That’s because I just heard from my publisher that the date of publication has been moved back to March 2013.  That is very discouraging! FYI:

  • Feb 2011 – finished Twelve Smooth Stones
  • Mar 2011 – submitted the book proposal to Christian Manuscript Submissions.com
  • Jun 2011 – contacted by Kirkdale press
  • Oct 2011 – signed a contract with them
  • Mar 2012 – received the August publication date

Discouragement 101!  Hope has truly been deferred, and I apologize to you dear folks who seemed just as excited about the book’s publication as I was!

So what were my reactions:

  1. Unbelief – How could this be?
  2. Anger – How can they do this to me?
  3. Discouragement – Why am I even doing this?
  4. Doubt – Who do I think I am anyway – I’m not an author!
  5. Blame – Why did you do this, Lord?
  6. Refocus –

Why did God do this?  Do I know?  No.  Do I need to know? No.  I just need to take this opportunity to build my trust in Him.  He is my heavenly Father.  He GAVE me the book, so what He chooses to do with it is His prerogative, not mine.  Can you imagine a servant to the king, or an aid to the president telling him what to do?!  I get a better understanding of Nehemiah’s situation when he stood before the king, not hiding his discouragement.  His sad countenance caught the king’s attention and the Lord used it for good; but how quickly we jump over the phrase: “…Then I was very sore afraid,” (Nehemiah 2:2)

So what do I do?  Do I write a scathing letter to the publisher?  I may ask some questions, but the way I approach them must be in line with my faith in God.  His character must be seen in me, no matter the circumstances!

“…but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life”  This phrase is mentioned eleven times in the Bible: three times in Genesis, four times in Proverbs and Revelation.  It makes a fascinating study; however, I’ll just share Matthew Henry’s comments:

Nothing is more grateful than to enjoy that, at last, which we have long wished and waited for: When the desire does come it puts men into a sort of paradise, a garden of pleasure, for it is a tree of life. It will aggravate the eternal misery of the wicked that their hopes will be frustrated; and it will make the happiness of heaven the more welcome to the saints that it is what they have earnestly longed for as the crown of their hopes.

This has been a great lesson for me in trusting God.  I hope it is a help to you as well.

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Faith of our Fathers

“And Abraham said, My son,

 God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:

so they went both of them together.” Gen. 22:8

 

                This monumental event has shaped the history ofIsrael, geographically.  Abraham is “tempted” by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  A better word would be “proved,” because James tells that God does not tempt man.  (Ja. 1:13) 

                We don’t know the exact age of Isaac, but the next chapter starts with Sarah’s death at age 127, making Isaac 37.  He was probably a young man when Abraham took him on the three day journey north from Beershebato Mt.Moriah(Jerusalem).  Abraham is probably 120 or so.  My vivid imagination makes me think that Abraham did not tell Sarah what God had told him to do!  He obviously did not tell Isaac either.  Did Isaac think that his father had lost his mind as he bound him and placed him on the altar?  Certainly the knots of an old man could have easily been broken by this young man.  We often focus on Abraham’s great act of faith, obeying God’s command to sacrifice his son, the son whom he loved, his only son, as God reminds him; (v. 2) but what about Isaac?  He completely submitted his life to the binding, lying out, and the blade of Abraham’s knife!  What kind of a man was Abraham that his grown son would submit to this?  There are many painting and drawings of Abraham’s sacrifice, but I believe Rembrandt’s captures the emotions the best.  We see Isaac, hands bound lying on his back, his neck fully exposed.  Abraham would have slit his throat, the way sacrifices were slain – the most merciful. Abraham is covering Isaac’s face with his hand, but before he did, can you imagine the look that passed between father and son?  Again, I ask – what kind of a man was Abraham that his grown son would submit to this?  He was a man of great faith who would obey his God no matter what the requirement!  He had already lost one son, casting out the bond woman and her son, because Sarah had demanded it and God had sanctioned it.  Now he is poised to slay his promised heir, the one whom he had waited a lifetime to see.  In Rembrandt’s painting, and angel is clutching Abraham’s wrist, the knife has fallen from his grasp as he looks in the angel’s face. 

                Faith – the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Corrie ten Boom, Holocaust survivor said, “We don’t need a great faith, just a little faith in a great Savior.”  Know that you can be just as faithful to God as Abraham – trusting God even though there is no evidence of the outcome.