Treasures in the Dark

“When you meet Jesus face-to-face, your hardships will have given you a taste of what He went through to purchase the promise of your resurrection. And your loyalty to Him in your sufferings will give you something concrete to offer in return. For what other proof could you bring of your love if this life left you totally unscarred?” – Joni Eareckson Tada

This week has been one of the hardest in our lives as false accusations and charges made by somebody who had been my husband’s closest friend.

While dealing with the hurt, sense of betrayal and grief God has met us over and over. I am living in the Psalms and a few other passages. Our desire is for truth to prevail and that we leave all vindication and judgement to our righteous, just and capable God.

Below I am sharing the verses and insights God has used to sustain me in this hard week and am confident will continue to sustain me in this ongoing trial.

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. – 1 Peter 4:19

While going through this trial I need to entrust all to my faithful Creator and continuing serving others and doing good.

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.

6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. – Psalm 37:3-8

As I walk through this I need to trust God and do good be committed to Him and delighting in Him and wait for God to reveal our righteousness.

7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.

8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8

Even in season of heat and drought of suffering we can bear fruit! We are planted in by the living water of Christ and can drink deeply from Him and His Word.

So God is revealing to me I am to continue in doing good and bearing fruit for Him and His glory.

12 For it is not an enemy who taunts me- then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me- then I could hide from him.

13 But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend.

14 We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng. – Psalm 55:12-14

He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. – Psalm 55:18

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. – Psalm 55:22

David understood the sense of betrayal by a close friend as does Christ with one of the twelve betraying Him. God is the one who will be my safety, redeem me and sustain me.

I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. – Isaiah 45:3

I need to seek for the treasures in the darkness. To see God’s loving comfort, sustaining grace, faithfulness, peace and joy not based on circumstances as some of those treasures of darkness. One treasure is before this hit God has orchestrated for me to be doing a Bible study in Psalms. Another is my husband and I had decided about three weeks ago to postpone listing our home this September and revisit that decision next spring. That would be too much to deal with in the midst of this. Another huge blessing is that usually relational stress will trigger a flare up in my chronic health issues and it has not. Probably the biggest treasure apart from Christ is we are not in this alone but have two other couples in the same boat and we are supporting and encouraging one another with God’s truths and prayers.

I am praying this time will not only lead to truth being revealed but will result in my growing in love and dependence on Christ.

How has God met you when falsely accused? What verses have sustained you?

Blessings,

Deb

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The Master Weaver

I have recently taken up needlepoint again and began reflecting on how it looks on the back side versus the front. As I pondered, it brought back to memory the poem The Master Weaver of unknown (and as I was researching today, of conflicting origin) that was made famous by Corrie Ten Boom author of The Hiding Place and other books.

The Master Weaver

My life is but a weaving

Between my God and me.

I cannot choose the colors

He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;

And I in foolish pride

Forget He sees the upper

And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly

Will God unroll the canvas

And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful

In the weaver’s skillful hand

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;

Nothing this truth can dim.

He gives the very best to those

Who leave the choice to Him.

We, while still on this earth see through a glass dimly but will see perfectly when we see Jesus face to face. Our sight is limited by earthly limitations and we cannot fathom the beautiful picture God is creating out of our lives.

A picture without contrast of colors and dark and lights is boring and doesn’t display as well. My dad was an artist and worked in a printing company that did mainly advertising. Colors, contrast and light scale were all very important to get the message across. Yet we often find ourselves complaining as God weaves in the “needful dark threads” of pain, suffering, grief and hard circumstances. I do not know what dark threads God is including in the tapestry of your life, but I firmly believe even when I don’t see or understand the dark ones He is weaving into mine, that He is still faithful, good, wise and sovereign and knows how best to conform me to the image of His Son.

When you only see a small section of the back is even more confusing than looking at the entire back side. Or if you only see the dark areas you lose sight of the bright cheery ones.

And here is entire backside of the needlepoint. You can get an idea of what it will be but cannot fully capture the details. Much like as later in life when we look back and remember all the things God has done in our lives and brought us through.

One of my favorite Bible stories is about David at Ziklag in 1 Samuel 30.

David has just returned from battle with his mighty men to discover an enemy had burned their homes then kidnapped all their women and children. His men are distraught, as I am sure David was also since he had two wives taken. His men were threatening mutiny and talking about stoning David. How did David react?

1 Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire

2 and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way.

3 And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive.

4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep.

5 David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel.

6 And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. – 1 Samuel 30:1-6

David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. Another version says “he encouraged himself in the Lord”. I imagine he was looking back over his life how God has helped him as a shepherd boy deal with lions and bears oh my! Recalling when as a young ruddy cheeked boy he killed the giant Goliath with a stone from his sling with God’s help. Also he may have thought of his many skirmishes with the mad King Saul and the Philistines. His faith was strengthened as He remembered God’s care in previous hard times and he was encouraged to have hope in this present very dark situation. In a way, David examined the tapestry he had seen woven so far by God in his life.

So when hard times come, do we only focus on the current dark thread or do we see the many colored, darks and lights of your life to this point? Do we remember how God has met us in previous dark times?

May you and I, like David, be able to strengthen and encourage ourselves in the LORD. May we remember our Master Weaver is creating a beautiful masterpiece from our lives for His glory.

Corrie Ten Boom and The Weaver

Blessings,

Deb

Pray and Expect the Unexpected

“in your prayers, above everything else, beware of limiting God, not only through unbelief but also by thinking you know exactly what He can do. Learn to expect the unexpected, beyond all that you ask or think. Each time you intercede through prayer, first be quiet and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, how He delights in Christ His Son, and of your place in Him. Then expect great things.”

– Andrew Murray

The other day a friend posted the above  Andrew Murray quote on social media and it really stirred me. When stirred, I tend write and search scriptures as I process. So welcome to my disjointed processing.

Lord, do I think and pray like you are a limited God or do I expect You to work in unexpected ways? Do I think I know exactly what you can and should do or operate in unbelief?

 

Waiting

I have been waiting for a diagnosis or explanation for my chemical sensitivity and Mast cell symptoms since November 2009. I entered a more felt season of waiting when finally saw a doctor on August 18, 2017 who understood my issues. I have been waiting for diagnosis, waiting for open registration on the insurance marketplace, waiting for January 1 and insurance to begin and now on January 15, 2018 I am still waiting for a referral from a PCP (who know little about me because my main doctor is out of network) so I can finally schedule a bone marrow biopsy to hopefully get a clear diagnosis.

Waiting, waiting and more waiting!! Patience is not something I have prayed for nor is waiting my strong suit. God is showing me that I need to only wait on Him. But how do I wait on God in the midst of a long season of waiting?

First I need to remember that God is Sovereign and has all my days numbered in His book before even a one began. In Psalms 139 we read:

14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! – Psalm 139:14-17

Another verse I often go to in this season is Psalms 27:14.

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! – Psalm 27:14

When looking up this verse in my favorite online Bible Study tool Bible hub, I did a word study on the word “wait” in Psalms 27:14.

So this word study shows me that waiting on God is something that is done eagerly, expectantly with hope and patience. I do have confidence in God’s sovereignty, His goodness, wisdom and faithfulness which can give me hope.

I then went on to look at the commentaries on Psalm 27:14 and hear are some snippets of insights from them.

Benson Commentary:

“wait on God by faith and prayer, and in an humble resignation to his will.”

“Keep up thy spirits in the midst of thy greatest dangers and difficulties: let thy heart be fixed, trusting in God, and thy mind stayed on him, and then none of these things will move thee.”

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

“Let us look unto the suffering Saviour, and pray in faith, not to be delivered into the hands of our enemies. Let us encourage each other to wait on the Lord, with patient expectation, and fervent prayer.”

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

“The object is to induce others, from the experience of the psalmist, to trust in the Lord; to rely upon Him; to come to Him in trouble and danger; to wait for His interposition when all other resources fail.”

“Be of good courage – The Hebrew word here means, “be strong.” That is, do not faint. Do not be dismayed. Still hope and trust in the Lord.

He shall strengthen thine heart – He will strengthen “thee.” He will enable you to perform your duties, and to triumph over your enemies.”

Treasury of David:

“Wait on the Lord.” Wait at his door with prayer; wait at his foot with humility; wait at his table with service; wait at his window with expectancy. Suitors often win nothing but the cold shoulder from earthly patrons after long and obsequious waiting; he speeds best whose patron is in the skies.”

Waiting on God is not passive, resigned or hopeless. It is actively fixing my heart on God, fervently praying to Him, serving Him while residing in the hallway of waiting and above all waiting with expectant hope in the God of all hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

So while I continue to wait, I desire to continue to grow in my hopeful expectancy of my faithful God’s answers and care in His perfect time. May this season of waiting grow me in my faith, gratitude and Christ-likeness.

Would love to hear in the comments how God has met or taught you in seasons of waiting.

Blessings,

Deb

Count it all Joy

Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds. James 1:2 ESV

I am once again doing another Bible Study through Love God Greatly. They will be doing the book of James beginning Monday January 15. I got a jump start on it today and was studying James 1:2.

https://lovegodgreatly.com

After writing down the verse and my observations I began a word study. The first word I looked at was “joy”. As I went onto Bible Hub and looked at the Strong’s Concordance tab for joy this is what I saw

I think what really struck me is that joy in the midst of trials is not giggly happiness but the awareness of God’s grace and favor in the midst of it. How has he met me? As I recount the many graces He has bestowed on me, gratitude and joy well up inside in spite of the circumstances.

Remembering these things listed below and so many other ways He has shown His grace and favor upon me, cause true joy to well up in my soul and builds my faith. May they enable you to have the joy of recognizing His grace and favor upon you even in the darkest and hardest times.

– He gives me peace that passes understanding.

– He has promised to always be with me.

– He strengthens my soul.

– He has sovereignly ordained my days for His purposes to work out my eternal good and bring Him glory.

– He will help, strengthen and uphold me.

Blessings,

Deb

At Home in Heaven

Praying the testimony Michael and Margaret have had to many will continue long after her death. This woman has been such an inspiration to me with her joy and hope in heaven.

Always Sick, Always Loved

heaven

On July 26th, 2017, my precious wife Margaret passed away at the age of 63.  She had heroically battled the autoimmune disease sarcoidosis for almost thirty years, and despite decades of pain and disability, demonstrated a contagious joy throughout her lifetime.

How was this joy possible, even when she received the news this past April that she had a terminal heart condition?  The answer to that question is simple, yet eternally profound: she knew the love of Jesus in this life, and the promise of Jesus for eternal life. You see for her, hope wasn’t to be found in the circumstances of this earth.  Hope was found in looking beyond what she could see, to the One who died for our sins on a bloody cross, and rose three days later triumphantly demonstrating to the world that He was in fact God the Son.  She knew the Lord’s love as…

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The Choice

Sometimes God makes His path so clear, even when the path goes through rough terrains we would rather not travel. God was so kind to give me a vivid illustration of the results of the choices before me when I was in the midst of being diagnosed with chronic illnesses.

two-paths

My health began tanking in 2009 which began a course of visiting numerous doctors and undergoing various tests to discover answers while my symptoms continued to worsen. In March of 2011, I went to yet another doctor who finally diagnosed me with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), high histamine and blood test results that were indicative of some type of blood cancer. On March 30, I was told that my blood test results were way off the charts for a third time and that I would need to be seen by an oncologist who was also a hematologist. Being a former RN who does online research, I was fairly certain I knew that my diagnosis was going to be between “Big C”, an acute blood cancer that may mean only months to live or “Little C”, a chronic blood cancer that likely would not shorten my life expectancy but change how I lived it. We lived in the limbo of not knowing which from March 30 to June 7, 2011.

The vivid illustration God used about the choice I needed to make in response to how I faced whichever diagnosis, came about through a timely visit of our dear friends Earl and Nancy. Earl and Nancy spent two weeks in our home late March/early April 2011 and arrived days before my March 30th appointment. In fact they were waiting in the car with my husband as we swung by for my appointment on our way out of town to visit the Grand Canyon and Sedona, Arizona.

Nancy had her last radiation treatment days before flying down to visit us in Arizona where we lived at the time. In the months before their visit,  she had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation for her second bout of breast cancer. Earl and Nancy sat in our family room recounting all the many ways God had blessed them and met them in the midst of Nancy’s cancer battle while Nancy cried tears of joy and gratitude.

In the same time frame, somebody we knew well, received the news that their spouse had dementia. This response was exactly opposite of Nancy’s. Instead they had responses of anger, bitterness and declaring their life was over and nothing good would ever happen again.

God provided a clear and obvious illustration of the choice set before me in how I would respond to the looming diagnosis possibilities. I could choose the better way, that realizes God’s sovereign hand and respond in faith with joy and gratitude regardless of what the future bought. Or I could choose to be bitter, resentful, angry and ungrateful.

After hearing the news at my doctor’s that my blood results would require follow-up with a hematologist/oncologist, we drove up with our friends to Grand Canyon. That evening we went to the vista point that was supposed to be the best at sunset. The colors were glorious and ever-changing. Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon watching this amazing sunset I made my choice.

I poured my heart out to God silently as the skies and canyons blazed with a kaleidoscope of colors:

“Oh God, I have no idea what this diagnosis will be. Please, Lord, enable me, whether a few months or a few decades, to be fully present and soak up this gorgeous scenery. Give me the vision and heart to engage and appreciate all of life around me for all of my days. Oh God, one thing I ask, regardless whether it is BIG C or little c, please, please, let me be known as a woman of joy, gratitude and faith. Regardless of how I feel physically, Lord, let me be like Nancy who cried tears of gratitude and joy for all at You did through her cancer. Enable me to have Your joy and contentment and keep me from bitterness, anger, complaining or ingratitude. Remind me of these examples You have so clearly shown me and this choice whenever I am tempted to complain or be resentful. Let my life be a reflection of joy and my testimony be that of a woman who found joy and gratitude in whatever You have sovereignly ordained.”

My choice was confirmed when I first heard  with the song  Blessings by Laura Story and the story behind it on the radio a couple of weeks after my prayer at the Grand Canyon. The words of that song so resonated with me and that song still makes me cry. You can read the story behind the song here.

Later in April 2011, a friend told me about Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts and I immediately bought it. In her book, Ann shares how she overcame tremendous fears and hurts by practicing counting gifts as she would journal things for which she was thankful. This book also confirmed my choice.  Ann Voskamp has continued to encourage me with her blog A Holy Experience and  more recent books.

My pastor asked me in early May 2011 if I would consider leading a ladies Bible Study for two months over the summer using the book Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. By this point my hubby and I are almost finding it comical how many ways God was conveying and confirming my choice to ask God to make me a woman of joy and gratitude. I began leading this study in my home with about 15 women the second week of June as I began my first week of chemotherapy. It felt like a combo of early pregnancy, the flu and being hit by a truck the first three weeks on my daily oral chemotherapy until my body adapted to the chemo. Somehow God enabled me to be able to sit in my comfy chair in my family room and facilitate the group those first difficult three weeks. Other women lovingly served me by helping  with set up, snacks and clean up. God used those eight weeks of the study to further impact me as well as impact other women who attended.

I have lived out this choice much like a helpless baby bird who is unable to fend for itself. I was/am dependent on my Heavenly Father to tend me, feed me and strengthen me to walk in my choice. Oh there have been days where I pridefully challenged my Father’s wisdom by trying to convince God I would be more useful and serve Him better with full health. There have been times where self pity and complaining have been where I wanted to dwell. But my God has been so faithful to quickly remind me of the example I saw in Nancy and my choice. I repent and turn again to Him in dependence to enable me to seek Him and the joy that comes from seeing life from eternity’s perspective. When I try to live in joy in my own strength I fail miserably. When I am like Mary in the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 and spend precious time in His presence I am once again empowered by His Holy Spirit to rest in His sovereignty and faithfulness and see many things to rejoice and be grateful for in my life.

one thing necessary

I am so grateful for the lesson and choice God put before me early in my chronic illness journey. I have seen many benefits of my illness and how looking for ways to be grateful has helped me to recognize many I would have otherwise missed. I pray I will continue to remain and grow in my dependence on God for my source of strength, faith and joy.

count-it-all-joy