Satan’s Scourge


 

 

Crafty demon you are,

picking on God’s

children like a

schoolyard

Bully.

Tear sinew,

rip flesh from

bone.

Break my bones

if their crack

brings delight to

your fallen

Spirit.

Sear my flesh,

Oh, Beautiful One,

if my cries lighten

your burden.

 

Let your scourge

test my resolve.

Loose your

wickedness

upon this

broken

shell.

 

For, your realm

is in decay.

Hell’s

foundations are

crumbling.

You are

in

your

final

death

Throes.

 

So, break this

body if you must.

Brand my flesh, rob

me of all Earthly

Beauty, for

your end

is

Near.

 

I

Stand against

you

with God’s

Army Angels

standing as a fortress

in front,

at both flanks

and legions after

legions bringing up the

rear.

 

Take this useless frame,

twist it,

turn it,

burn it

but you will

never lay claim

to

my

Soul.

 

“Come Lord Jesus, Come.”

Revelations 22:20

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A Mountain, Two Dogs and a Field of Reefer…


 

 

A fork, a crossroads…a choice upon our path is always disconcerting if we are seeking the Lord’s will in earnest. Some folks perceive every choice in their life as monumental and claim an inability to make any decisions as their default setting. This, of course, is a cop-out to avoid the responsibility or consequences of making choices.  They look toward others to make the decision either voluntarily or by default then subsequently have a scapegoat. That person can stroll through life never accepting any responsibility for their choices be they good or bad. Others will deflect self-blame by crying good or bad luck as the culprit for their life path. These are people with lost purposes and will look in any direction to see if another appears to know where they are going. These are people I liken to salmon swimming upstream. Everyone else is moving in that direction, in mass, so they feel as if the group must know where they are going. Hence, they scramble to follow the crowd only to be snatched up by the hungry bears waiting with open jaws to devour them.

Thank you, but no, I will not fling my future toward the dictation of fortune tellers, astrologers or anyone else’s opinion of what choice I should make. The only exception of this is that of the Lord’s will and purpose for my life. Christ’s divine purpose for my life is the only thing that steadies my steps.  Once you discover your purpose then very little that Satan can throw at you will knock you off your path. Sure, it won’t stop him from trying and there are times you will be barely able to crawl upon it but if you understand why you are here then nothing can ever keep you from moving forward. That is not to say that there may not occur long pauses where the pain is just too great to move forward…too intense…too soul wrenching to even breathe but you will eventually move forward IF you choose to take that next step.

I have written on different aspects of this topic before as previous life events unfolded and I was faced yet again with the opportunity to obey or disobey, to move forward or stay stuck, to be courageous or succumb to weakness. There always seems to be a critical choice of obedience occurring within my life pertaining to my health journey. My blog readers are familiar with the ups and downs of my chronic illness journey and this year does not disappoint. As in the past, insurance snafus, medical providers and overall human fallibility has given me opportunity to ponder if it is indeed time to raise that white flag of surrender.

Not speaking about heroes who sacrifice their lives to save another but about the human populace in general, it takes much more courage to live than it does to die. Death, especially if you are a Christian should not scare you in any manner. Your confidence should rest firmly in the Christ given salvation that has opened paradise for you.  All fear should be eradicated from your heart and mind, if you are saved. However, if you are not saved then I recommend you try to live forever. Seriously…don’t die if you are not saved.

Saved or not saved, living takes courage because life is hard and often painful. There is beauty, happiness, joy and some even find their soulmates allowing them to taste the best version of love we humans can experience. If you suffer chronic illness that promises to degrade your body without taking your life immediately then it becomes a battle not to embrace the sweet thought of release that death will bring. Some of you will see this as a suicidal statement because you are ignorant of true suffering or the promise of paradise. Or, you could be ignorant of both. Truthfully, I pray there are many more of you who do not understand what I am speaking of rather than the scales tipped in the opposite direction. There is only one way to truly understand the blissful thought of what I am speaking and that is to suffer…unendingly and in exponentially explosive increments throughout your entire life.

Every time one of these pitfalls appear upon my life path, my humanity clutches to the idea of rejecting all modern medicine and the hoops through which our corrupt medical system requires the ill to navigate.  I have my core peeps who patiently listen and encourage me as I “go off” on another idle threat of retreating to a remote mountain cave with my two dogs, my Lord and a healthy crop of reefer to live the rest of my life out. Now, to be utterly frank, I have never, nor will I ever indulge in drugs so they know when I threaten ‘to chuck it all and live my final days as a hermit’ that I am just letting off steam. Faith is not for wimps, just ask Daniel or his friends. Joseph, Job, Peter, Paul, Mary or Martha would all be good folks to sit down with for a while and complain about how hard it is to live the faith.

Trust and obey. Two tiny words in type but are Everest in meaning and in effort to fulfill. Love the hymn of the same name but until you have attempted to live out these two words through the path of suffering then they remain just words. Have you ever had to fight with every ounce of courage, intelligence, fortitude, attitude and perseverance for something you fervently did not want? The very idea of obtaining that for which you were striving was actually nauseating? It is sort of like needing six root canals performed and you had to fight your insurance to get them accomplished. You fight to get it while dreading the “win” because you know you need it but do not want to take the journey to get there. More accurately, you do not want to do the suffering promised as the prize for your win. Yet, doing nothing or not fighting will cause greater, progressive pain that will ruin your entire mouth full of teeth. This is the closest I can come to in explaining my sentiments about my predicament concerning my intermittent health coverage. I must fight everyone to get adequate palliative care in order to keep the diseases at bay that would quickly ravage my body if the needed medications are absent for any period of time. Well, this was my crossroads this month. Choose to find another doctor in my insurance’s network in time to provide those medications or go find that mountain. Since it is a specialist, it usually takes at least three months to get in to see one. The Lord did it in one; therefore, I will only be without the needed medications for one month instead of three to four. An undeniable blessing to be sure but the struggle to get the proper health care had me throwing up my arms in mock defeat as this is just the latest in a long series of events outlining our shoddy healthcare system. You see, it is not that I fear death in any way but I know death will not come quickly. Instead the diseases will quickly take advantage in this lapse of care and cause suffering. Suffering and I are old friends so I am not even really fearful of that but where my concern bubbles up is whether my actions, words or thoughts will strengthen my testimony or weaken it. Will I be able to walk the talk? Will I use the suffering for God’s glory? Or will I fall into my base humanity and throw in the proverbial white flag opting for my mountain side view of my reefer field?

I know with all my heart and soul this fork in the road is really a straight path, for I know what the Lord expects of me and I will forge ahead trying hard not to complain. I know many opportunities lay before me to share my testimony, experience, and knowledge with others who may just be starting their own journey of suffering with these diseases. God has shown me again and again that every single thing I have ever endured in my lifetime has proven fruitful for another’s walk on this Earth because I allowed him to use it. Brothers and Sisters in the faith…do not waste your suffering, allow your Heavenly Father to use it to bring about good where Satan meant it to be for evil. Your choice.

As has become my default setting, I look toward scripture to find a solution to my dilemmas. Now you may think that there cannot possibly be a story in the scriptures that describes my circumstance and offers any kind of solution other than condemnation for thinking about death in a positive vein. You would be wrong.

“20. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or death. 21. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23. I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24. but is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25. Convinced of this, I know I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26. so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.”

Philippians 1: 20-25

 

To be quite clear, I am in no way equating myself with Paul, the writer of the above passage. However, his struggle of wanting to glorify God through remaining alive on Earth and his deep longing to be with Christ in heaven mirror mine completely. Another good lesson, if you are struggling with anything in this life then turn toward God’s word to find the answers. Its all right there and his saints have lived and struggled with the same or similar problems in their lifetimes. Scripture is always applicable regardless of the era but you have to read it, study it and write in on your heart so that when trouble comes (and trouble will always come) your soul can quickly point to the solution or toward solace. If you are enduring a rough patch at the moment then try to take comfort in knowing the answer is just sitting there waiting for you to discover. Not a guaranteed solution or a way out of the problem but the manner in which you are called, as a child of God, to deal with it.

 

Be well all,

Your perfectly imperfect friend

SUFFERING…WHO CARES?


Perceptive Perspective was the title I originally thought of but thought people
would not find it catchy enough to check out. Everyone suffers as part of the human
condition the only real difference is the amount of resources you have access too. To what extent do those resources allow one to lessen or halt the depth, length and/or extent of that suffering legally or otherwise?

Anyone who has served any significant period suffering understands that it is multifaceted, multilevel and multidimensional eradicating all boundaries of time. Physical pain leads to emotional pain leading to spiritual pain in a never-ending cycle of misery. These three components are fully interchangeable and intrinsically intertwined. They have the power to destroy everything or nothing and the person suffering is the one who holds the power of determination.

I had a friend remind me recently of how blinded the general populace is when it comes to suffering and the incredibly narrow margin of perception that exists in the status quo. After a recent accident, my friend hurt himself to the point that his daily routine and pain level increased significantly beyond that which he was generally accustomed. However, it was not the physical pain that bothered him most. It was the apparent lack of concern from his loved ones about his suffering that landed the deepest wound. My friend complained that his loved ones spent the entire 30 minute conversation complaining of their woes without ever inquiring about his injury.

I, myself, spent years being resentful and angry at the world because “no one understood or cared” what I was enduring. Everyone went on about their happy, cookie cutter lives without a thought to their fellow human but I have learned a deeper understanding after four decades of suffering. It is difficult for others, who are not in the same pain as you, to truly understand or empathize. Most often, people cannot see beyond their own misery. If you think your fellow human to be hard-hearted then pause a moment to ask yourself when was the last time you felt the pain of burying a child. Have you had a limb blown from your body? Perhaps you are confined to a wheelchair or suffer from a mental or physical malady? Do you care for a loved one who you are losing a piece at a time to Alzheimer’s? Have you lost a business lately or caught your spouse cheating on you? Maybe you have been the object of bullying your entire life? If you have ever criticized someone who is suffering in any way, shape or form then you can count yourself among the cold-hearted populace that you only notice when you become the one who is doing the suffering.

It can be hurtful and feel as if they don’t care but the truth really is they care as much as humanly possible. Humans naturally recoil from painful situations with the exceptions of those who thrive on causing such pain or those who have strong desire to help salve that pain in some manner. The only way for a person to care more is for them to feel what you are feeling. If it is the general populace or those who have been ignorant enough to make stupid comments then we may cheer such a prospect on wholeheartedly. However, if it is a loved one then we should shudder at the slightest possibility that they will ever understand on that level because the only way for them to do that is to suffer on that same level. I don’t want anyone, whom I love, to really understand my suffering…ever. So, I accept what caring others are capable of then I try to do the rest of the understanding for them. It’s not their fault. Admittedly, there are callous jerks in existence that will not get it until they are visited by the cruel hand of suffering themselves but they should be pitied more than anything.

Of course, this cannot be done without Christ. He is the only one who can provide you with the peace, understanding and wisdom only  borne through years/decades of suffering. Without Him you get bitterness, anger, spitefulness and so much resentment that you become useless to yourself and to all around you. Without His purpose and will then your suffering is wasted. Some only think about God when suffering visits their door and then it is usually to curse Him or ask Why. Whether you believe in Christ or not, my question is, “Why not you?” “Why not Me?” Why should any of us be immune to the curse upon creation? Have any one of us lived such a good and godly life that we should somehow be shielded from the curse of original sin that broke ALL of creation? If you have lived such a pure and perfect life then by all means take your case to God and prove it. We tend to scream and cry at the injustice of our sufferings pulling random scriptural promises from the text without the slightest idea of what the rest of the Bible of which we are condemning instructs us believers or even non-believers. You who reject Christ may think you are immune to the Biblical teachings but it does not depend upon your belief to be true or false. Without you…it remains.

It can be terribly lonely when gripped in the midst of suffering but that is lie told by Satan to make you fall into his pit of depression. “Laugh and the world laughs with you, Cry and you cry alone…” It sure seems like this adage is true when you are the one suffering but it is only the case if you choose to push people away and block your heart from the love so as not to feel the pain too. It is a lie.
Some hold unto suffering like an old familiar friend because it is the “devil they know” and are afraid of what might be beyond. That is not how it works in chronic suffering that has gone on for decades and promises to follow you to the grave. Nope, after four decades you either achieve wisdom, faith, understanding and boundless compassion or you have allowed yourself to be eaten up from the inside out. You become a shell of a human being that loves misery so much that moments of happiness actually bring agony. There are only two outcomes for the chronic sufferer and it all hinges on a choice. One, surrender to Christ and allow him to use your suffering to do good. Or, allow Satan to take over and use your suffering to destroy you, destroy all you love and to spread his vile poison further into God’s children and creation. There is no middle ground. There is no other choice so if you are suffering today, regardless of how long that suffering has been going on then you need to make a choice.

If you are not suffering then Praise God and thank him for his mercy upon you but do not remain ignorant, for your teacher will be experience. If you are not saved then your Earthly suffering doesn’t matter at all as your life is only a pawn in Satan’s grand scheme. Whoever you are, make a choice and stop walking the fence because you are enjoying an illusion of security that quickly fades as you expel your last breath.

You can reject these words or take heed. I made my choice and I have been richly blessed with peace, joy, compassion, understanding, wisdom and a deepening faith. I am grateful and I have need for nothing but God’s continued grace and love.

Healing or Strength…for which should we Diligently Pray?


 

 

I listen to the scriptures everyday as I do other daily tasks. I read the scriptures as well but I have found that I can listen to scripture for eight hours a day plus when I do other activities so the time is well used. I also make certain to use various translations so as not miss something. Today as I was listening to the people clamoring to touch Jesus so they could be healed of their infirmity a new pattern of thought began weaving itself through my consciousness. The desperation and hopelessness these folks experienced, especially in that era, is well appreciated.              I, myself, spent much of my life begging God to take away my ailments and hardships so I definitely get the desperation to be healed. However, I had a thought today as I listened to these stories for the 1000th time that struck me deeply. The afflicted flocked to Jesus and in his love; he healed them at their requests. No one wants suffering and pain unless they are a masochist or flagellant. Yet, I know suffering has purpose beyond that which can be seen or experienced by the one who is doing the suffering.

Okay, so this is the thought, what if the people who begged to be healed and were then healed inadvertently diminished their earthly impact because their ailment was removed? To be sure, if the healed remained in Christ/God after being healed then they would still have an Earthly impact because God will bless their efforts. However, if like the nine lepers who never looked back after being healed, could we diminish our earthly impact by taking our own path?

I know in all certainty that if God had chosen to heal me decades ago then I would learn to lean upon my own strength and cleverness.  If I had been permitted to pursue my own life plans in a body without blemish then would I have grown in faith and wisdom? Would I have had the tools to help others as they struggled through their journey? If I had gone on to live a healthy, “normal” life with the ability to achieve praiseworthy human accomplishments then what impact would I have been able to have? I do not know the answers to these questions but I am thinking my impact would have been far less because I would not have learned how to depend upon the Lord. My relationship with my creator would have been shallow and empty because I would have depended upon my own strength and cleverness. My plans for my life were thwarted. My ailments could have been a permanent roadblock, and they nearly were, but once I understood each had the potential to reach large groups of lost and hurting people then I began to understand it wasn’t about me at all. My ailments were not curses or punishments; instead, they were keys to open the hearts and minds of the lost children who were flailing in agonizing fear. I am able to reach through the brick wall of fear, anger, and agony many surround themselves with because I have been on that side of empty desperation. I can reach them because of the hardships, heartaches, and pain I endured.

Each hardship and ailment that constructs the person I am only has purpose when I give them to God to use for good. Regardless of the depth of agony of any hardship, each has a boundless wealth of possible good. I sit here and reflect because I know that I would never have met half the people I have, nor would I have been useful for the Kingdom if I had depended upon myself all these years. Sure, pain, agony and frustration are not enjoyable but the diamond he is creating us to be takes a bit of pressure.

So, does that mean we shouldn’t pray to be healed or work toward healing? Absolutely not! We must always petition our Lord for healing and if he sees that it will benefit it us AND those around us for his Kingdom then he may grant our request for healing. However, he tells us time and again that he works best through the broken. If you look throughout history, the figures that strike us as the most impactful were the ones who overcame great anguish in some manner. Sure, there have been some pretty infamous individuals who impacted the world and that will always occur but looking at just one scenario, the holocaust…How many iron clad stories of faith and survival came from that horrific event? No, I do not believe God sent that upon the people but when they chose to allow God to use their pain for good then we reap the benefits within our own souls decades later. Our faith in enriched because of the thousands of who stood steadfast and true in the face of pure evil.

In our own lives, in our heartache, pain and fear we become angry and confused feeling abandoned by our creator. I feel this in earnest when the pain becomes mind numbing and soul crushing but that is only Satan trying to tear us away from our Father, which is why the pain is so great. I believe there comes a point in one’s life where you must decide that the answer to your plea may be no or not until you reach glory. We obsess in our Christian culture to bring healing to all if we can only have enough faith then it will be so. I think that borders more on the line of the ill advised friends of  Job’s, who had the nerve to believe they knew what God was doing in that situation. They did far more harm to Job than any of the ailments or tragedies that struck him.

Regardless of whether we pray for healing or not we should always pray for strength and wisdom. We should always ask God to squeeze all the possible good from the suffering we must endure or else it is wasted. Who wants to hurt for nothing? I have learned much through the years and I can see clearly where I have wasted my suffering and where I allowed others to remain lost because I was too caught up in my own suffering and anger. I did not care if they were lost, I did not care if they were hurting, I was angry and hateful to everyone especially God. I was so caught up in the fact that my mother was not healed and I was not healed that I could not and would not see beyond the pain. I wanted it gone regardless of the cost. Now, I see how tragic that would have been. My faith and wisdom would not be strong but worse yet; many who I have been able to reach may have been lost or become a bitter tool for Satan. Suffering can only be understood by suffering, which is why our Christ suffered so much for us. An alcoholic is not going to listen to anyone who has never even taken a drink! Just the same, someone in physical agony is not going to be comforted by someone who can only boast surviving a head cold. Suffering is a universal language but it can only be understood through suffering.

Back to the original thought, was the glory of God lessened because these thousands of people were healed upon their requests? Now, understand that this is not a blanket assumption because Christ himself told his disciples that the blind man was born blind so that his healing from Christ would bring glory to God’s holy kingdom. We, in our human understanding, cannot know the purpose of every ailment of every person out there. We cannot explain the heartache that suddenly takes a child from its mother and father. We do not know the reasons for all suffering but we should at least accept that the impact of suffering could be positive or negative depending upon whether we give it to God or hold onto it like a precious treasure.

Be certain to understand, I am not speaking of suffering caused by our own hands. God will certainly use it for good if we allow it but we must take ownership of that suffering because it came through our own conscious choice. For example, I was once over 500 pounds and I was miserable, in pain, sick, and angry. I blamed God for all of it but it was not God shoving food down my throat. It wasn’t God preventing me from making healthy decisions. It wasn’t God increasing the rate of deterioration of my arthritic joints. It was me, my poor choices, my decisions, and my plan for my life. I reap the harvest of those bad choices but the key to my suffering now is to allow him to use it all and work hard to do my part to bring my plans into perfect sync with my Creators. Yeah, if you have read my blog then you know and understand that my suffering and challenges have come in many venues and most of them not through my own hand; however, suffering needs healing. Sometimes the only healing our suffering has upon this earth is through the spirit. We accept the cross we have been asked to carry, get rid of the crosses we were never meant to pick up and continue to follow the savior giving him our all in every way. If we have ailments that were woven into our being in the womb then we need to not only overcome them but also squeeze every bit of good that can be pressed from them. If we are suffering through our own hands then we need to stop and rid ourselves of a burden that was not meant for us and help others avoid the pit into which we ourselves fell. If we cannot help them avoid it then we should help them find their own way out, for they will not take a proffered hand out of the pit.  Supply the instructions, the support, the encouragement and the ever-watchful eye towards Christ and they may chose to find their way back to the path the Lord plowed for them.

Now I pray the prayers of Christ in the garden and of Paul who both asked three times of the Lord that the cup of suffering be taken from them but also acknowledging that their prayer only be fulfilled if it served the will of God. Otherwise, we accept that the grace God provides is sufficient and pray in earnest for strength.

 

 

 

 

In Christ and in never ending pursuit of understanding,

 

Tina

 

“Eloi, Eloi, Lema Sebachthani?”


“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?”, Jesus cried in his final moments on the cross. Although beyond our mind’s comprehension, it was not the physical suffering our Christ was lamenting. To be certain, he suffered greatly but that was nothing in comparison to the moment his Father had to turn away from him. It was the moment that Christ bore all past, present, and future sins of humanity…alone. The absolute agony of being separated from God is unbearable, soul-devouring, spirit crushing, horror.

He begged his Father three times (Mark 14:36) to take this burden from him telling his friends to keep watch as he prayed saying, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, “ (Mark 14:34). He wasn’t distressed about the physical trial to come even though he knew it would be brutal beyond compare. No, it was his spiritual separation from the Father that filled him with revulsion and terror. He chose to obey, he chose to suffer, he chose to become separated from his Father. Why would he do this? He did this for you.

You may argue that he was fully God  and could endure much more suffering than a human ever could. You may argue that he only suffered for three hours on the cross and you have suffered all your life with this or that. You may argue that he could have stopped it all and destroyed evil then and there. Your arguments are permissible, but not valid, because as you just read, Christ asked his Father the soul wrenching-question that can be so destructive, WHY. Doubt is not a sin, it is an expectation just as is the drive to find the answers. God tells us to seek him, pursue him, love him with all our heart, mind and soul. Why would we have to pursue a God we believe in? Isn’t that an endeavor for the unbeliever? Oh no, not at all. Once you believe you have a Father who created you for a purpose and  who sent his son to pay for your sins then that is when the pursuit of our Creator truly begins.

As unbelievers, we are in stark rebellion just floundering like a fish out of water but once we chose to follow Christ then that is when the journey becomes difficult. Hence, it is not a sin to ask our Father why something has happened or is happening. Understand, you may never get an answer to your specific question until you breathe your last but if you pursue the answer then you will learn much along the way depending upon who you allow to steer your rudder. If you allow Satan to embitter you then your search will end in depression, self-loathing, self-pity,  rage and a flaccid faith. You will get stuck at that moment of suffering neither going forward nor backward. If you allow Christ to lead you then you will likely still experience all these things but you will not get stuck in that place because he gives us the strength to move beyond the pain and suffering of the current life crisis. Just an added thought I cannot let hang open, Christ was also fully human too so he experienced everything throughout his life just as we would have.

Strength and Suffering

Do you consider yourself a person of great strength? What do you consider to be strength? Are you physically fit and strong? Are you financially strong and secure? Do you have a strong moral code or belief system? Do you have a strong intellect? How about a strong faith?  We humans measure and define strength using variable measuring sticks according to what we value in life; therefore, your answer may be far different than another’s. Nevertheless, how you define strength becomes very important when you are faced with losing it. I argue that you cannot lose your strength entirely if you allow it to transform into another and likely more durable manifestation of our surrendered weakness.  If you consider yourself a to be a weak, helpless person then that is another issue, or set of issues, entirely that must be saved for another day. This writing is about the burden of strength and the blessing that can be experienced within it.

Burden of strength? How could strength be a burden? Most consider being strong a great asset but there are different aspects and perceptions of strength that can become a stumbling block or an unsung badge of survival. When you meet a person of great emotional and more so, spiritual strength then you are also meeting a person who has endured great and overwhelming suffering. Those people are the closest to understanding how Christ felt when he uttered his words of agony, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” It is that moment of Christ’s agony, which none can offer comparison is where the remainder of this writing will focus.

Physical, financial, social and intellectual strengths are all illusions of strength because they are insecure. All of them can be lost suddenly or through a lifelong deterioration and each of them can serve as a major stumbling block to our relationship with others and with God.  Christ warned against relying upon our own strength when he said that it was “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mark 10:25). Many point this verse in scripture to condemn the wealthy but Christ was talking about anyone who depends upon their own strength to traverse life because they think it is their own skills, talents or attributes that have gained all they have in life. These types of folks never acknowledge that it was and is God who has supplied them with those gifts that they have used to exploit their time on this planet. Some give lip service to God but when a crisis hits or when their strength begins to ebb then that is where their convictions are truly revealed. Now, everyone is going to endure a grieving period when their strength is lessening because it challenges their core beliefs, who they thought they were, where they thought their life was heading, what they thought God’s plan for their life was going to be. The common denominator here, our thoughts, our perceptions, our ability to reason things out and that is where we stumble.

Encountering people of faith and those who reject God as they struggle in this life reveals many things. Admitting weakness is almost insufferable to both populations. We do not like to appear weak or concede that we cannot handle or deal with anything that is thrown at us. The largest obstacle to anyone walking this planet is not their upbringing, their poverty/wealth level, their intellectual capability, their lack of opportunity, or their health status. What then?

You are your biggest obstacle. ‘But…but…but I have played by all the rules, I have done everything I was supposed to, I am a good person so how could I be my own biggest obstacle?’, you might query. You trust in yourself, which is akin to trusting the strength of a water balloon constructed of tissue paper. There is a big difference between being confident in the gifts and talents God has woven into your being and relying upon them as if they were your gods. Nothing you have and nothing you can do is sustainable by your own efforts including your very next breath. This is highly evidenced in multiple instances of situational irony played out in the real world like the health fanatic who believes he/she is doing great then suddenly drops over of a heart attack while a man who has drank and smoked heavily is still living strong at 92.  Neither person in this example is being put forth as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, only examples in real life judged by human criteria of “living good” and “living hard”. You are not in control of tomorrow regardless of your physical, financial, intellectual, or spiritual ability.

So does that mean we just throw our hands up and say,” chaos rules,” and we are not able to control anything? Of course not, God is a God of order and purpose but he is also the person who gave us Free Will. Our choices are often the road that brings suffering to our lives but not always. However, our own sin nature is not the only force we have against us but it is the one that invites the destructive forces in. Satan is very real and very active in creation. His rage and jealousy against humanity is documented in scripture as is his desire to destroy God’s beloved children. Therefore, when Christ told his apostles to expect hardship, pain and suffering  he was trying to support the men who he called friend and brother as he knew what they would face on account of him. Be assured, anyone who chooses to follow Christ is going to suffer because we are fighting our own sinful nature atop the world that revels in sin and Satan.  The odds are not in our favor and it is an impossible task unless we admit our weakness, our lack of strength, our inability to be victorious if we depend on our own skills, talents, gifts (strength) alone. It is not achievable unless you give it all to Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to work through you. Allow Him to use your pain, tears, heartache, confusion, righteous anger and weakness to lead you and others toward a closer relationship with Him.

Our human mind rebels against this idea and we fight it, actively fight it because we believe if we surrender whatever is causing us misery then we will be weak. However, the longer we hold onto something we were not meant to carry alone in the first place then the more suffering we will endure. Not that God is causing it or “turning up the fire”  but because we are trying to solve our problem with a small percentage of the full picture. When we try to stand alone, we are at our weakest and we will fail. Yet, what few recognize or understand is that our choices directly or indirectly affect all whom we love. Some of the connections are blatantly obvious but others are masked by the perception of strength. Here are a couple of examples to illustrate this concept.

Sofia, a single mom of two, is holding everything together. She has a job, is going to school, raising her children in the Lord and doing her best to provide for all their needs. She is perceived by the world as being a strong woman, a functional citizen and a good mom. However, Sofia is barely holding on emotionally, spiritually, financially, and even physically. She refuses to let anyone help, she would never ask for help and she is very private about her feelings. She will not shed tears in front of her kids or anyone else for that matter because she does not want anyone to think she is weak or cannot take care of her kids. She feels to do so would invite criticism of her ability to parent. Yet, she feels as if she is being eaten from the inside out. She has a luke warm relationship with Christ. She is devoted to teaching her children about Christ and makes certain they all attend church every Sunday but she feels dead inside. Her fears of criticism are valid but her healing will not begin until she surrenders her pain to Christ. He knows exactly what she is going through and He never intended for her to traverse her journey alone. Satan continues to whisper her worthlessness in her ear and the feeling that the world and, more specifically, her children would be better off if she were dead.

But it is not that easy, you say. People cannot be trusted . People are going to hurt you. You are going to be betrayed, used, rejected. Yes…yes, these things will happen to you and each time you are hurt you will need to make a choice, several choices actually. Some will bring you closer to understanding, healing and  to God; others will pull you toward the Prince of deceit and you will become his tool. Understand this firmly, God is NOT the one doing the moving in this equation. God does not vacillate, for He is our rock and anchor.

Ted is entering his 40’s and has enjoyed great health, physical and intellectual strength throughout his career and personal life. His spiritual life centers upon what he was brought up with in the Christian faith; therefore, he considers himself a ‘good’ Christian. He feels he is a strong Christian and tends to criticize those who “whine” about their lives. One day  Ted wakes up a little more achy than is usual after a prior day of hard work. As we humans often do, he brushes it off and continues on his way. Then a pattern begins to emerge causing him to begin to think something might be wrong so he over rules his own objections and goes to the doctor.  As you can guess, the doctors inform him that he has developed a chronic ailment that is going to cause pain and deterioration for the remainder of his life. Ahhh, but this is only the beginning of Ted’s nightmare because other related health issues begin to rear their ugly heads spiraling Ted into deep depression, anger, frustration, and serious faith wavering. He has always been the provider, he has always been the one others look toward for help, he has always counted on his own strength and wits to solve any problem he encountered. The disease is stealing his strength, destroying his strong body, robbing him of his independent lifestyle and clouding his thoughts. Worst of all, his fragile faith must now bear a full onslaught of fear, doubt, confusion and anger. Earlier in his life, as he was building his career and family he had no motivation to pursue God, wholeheartedly, because he had everything well in hand. His relationship with his Creator and others was guarded at best as he could never relinquish the control of his life by realizing he was not strong enough to endure the suffering alone. Yet, this is truly the first time suffering on the deep core level had ever been experienced. It’s not the physical pain, as that was just the match, it is the soul-wrenching pain of loss.

Here is a another kicker for you, his mindset, weak faith and self-perception is not entirely his fault. In American society, we put unrealistic goals upon our men and women. Somehow we have come to believe that every man must be a hero and every woman must be ‘mother of the year’ with the added feminist demands of being “more”. We cannot attain that status and God knows this; however, he is always there waiting to catch us when we finally understand that we can do nothing without him. Does understanding this truth make the suffering easier? Eh, not right away but eventually it brings even deeper understanding and focus to the purpose your life experiences have prepared you to fulfill.

What about the kid with cancer, the one who gets raped and killed by a psychopath or parent? What about all the disease, famine, warfare, and natural disasters? Are you going to look into a father’s eyes as he holds his dying child and try to explain that sin has caused the poisoning of creation so everything, even our cells have been tainted by its affects giving reason for his child’s cancer? Of course not, you are going to be silent but present. Allow God to do the talking as only he can, for words mean nothing in moments like that because the suffering is so profound, unjust, unthinkable, and soul crushing.

That holds true when anyone is suffering because to the one who is doing the suffering your platitudes of “everything is going to be alright.”, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, God never gives us more than we can handle,” etcetera are like hot daggers being thrust into their hearts and souls.  Let God work, admit your weakness, confess that you have no idea why their suffering is occurring ( if there is no apparent reason such as lung cancer following years of smoking). Even if the reason for their suffering is blatantly obvious, YOU ARE NOT THEIR JUDGE. They are likely well on their way to meeting their judge and then explaining to their creator why they chose to destroy the body He created for them so they do not need you to start harping on them ahead of time.

We all make life choices that will bring betterment or hardship to our existence so we have no room to judge another. On that same token, those who make life choices that create health, financial, social, emotional, psychological problems bringing pain, suffering, and loss have to refrain from blaming God and start taking responsibility for their own actions. God is a god of second chances, unending second chances so there is a future beyond the one you planned IF you allow it to be brought to fruition.

Do NOT depend upon humanity’s interpretation of who God is and what God’s plans are for your life. Pursue Him with every fiber of your being and I promise that what you find will bring change to your life. Change can be painful but it is very necessary for anything to become what it was borne to become. If you are a strong person then you know that the journey is painful, suffering is your bedfellow, for without these faith is hollow. Having a strong faith in Christ is the most difficult thing to earn because it is earned through tears and sorrow. Trusting God when all is well is easy and empty but trusting him as you are sending your child through the operating doors or sitting him in the car of an abusive parent due to a court order is faith and acute and unimaginable suffering.  Standing over a loved one’s grave with a pain that is tearing you apart but trusting that God will bring you through it is faith. Picking one of two devils to be President of the United States and believing God’s plans will come to fruition is faith.

Faith is not a noun but a verb. Faith is a breathing entity that must be fed, must be worked, must be tested because it is a powerful tool to the one who is strong enough to wield it. Christ is our teacher, he is the only one who can show us how we are to approach suffering and not only survive it but how to become something better on the other side. We can fight only what we can see but there is a battle of epic proportions going on all around us and we contribute to the evil or to the good every moment of everyday. Hence, you must examine your own life and decide if your suffering can support the claim that God has forsaken you (He will never leave you nor forsake you [Deut. 31;8]) or that you could equate your suffering to Job (which none of us know enough about to even offer an inkling into what was going on there, for there are too many missing pieces to the story) or justify anger towards God (even though he can take whatever we can dish out).

If you have been following my blog from its inception then you know these words of mine are not empty. I am not boasting when I say I am a woman of great faith in Christ, because I do not consider it a badge of honor but rather a sign of great suffering. I do possess a strong faith and for that I am grateful and humbled knowing he grasped me ever more tightly each time I let go. Without Christ, without understanding the epitome of suffering that is to be separated from God for the merest of moments is to only be brushed by the backside of suffering’s fury and  left with the deluge of pain. In my arrogant youth, I used to use “Eloi, Eloi Lema Sabachthani?” as my mantra feeding my rage and hopelessness but I did not truly understand the depth of their meaning until I came to the point in my life where I thought God had turned his back on me. That is the moment of zero hope and utter, desperate agony when I decided I did not want to live any longer. I only thought God had abandoned me and the pain was more than I could bear; therefore, imagine our Savior’s agony when he bore this reality for you and me. My previous posts expound upon these topics further so I will not reiterate them here.

You cannot look through the lens of human understanding to form your idea of God’s thoughts, ways, and love. How could a finite being such as you and I possibly presume we could understand the infinite. You are so important to your Creator, he loves you beyond any type of human love that can be experienced. However, love is not always kisses and cuddles and your Father in heaven knows what he has created you to be and he will push you toward completion of that goal. He does this not for his sake but for your sake. His plans are to prosper you as he clearly says in Jeremiah 29:11, yet he still provides you the choice. Are you forsaken? Can you boast about your strength in weakness? Can you wear Christ’s crown? Can you carry Christ’s cross?

My love and prayers go out to all my readers. May you each feel the depth of love Christ brought to us in that tiny manger so very long ago.

The Unwelcome Guest


 First rays of the summer sun

 race to illuminate the small

grove. Its inhabitants awake

without complaint.

The grove was abundant in food

peace and safety. The only

other occupant was

an old country church patiently

awaiting its fold.

Blue birds filled the air

with

songs of praise.

A sound so pure and clear,

a melody worthy of the Creator’s ear.

The sun climbed ever higher

casting a shadow upon

 the man turning the key

opening the large doors of

the chapel.

He always arrived an hour

or two before any other filled

a pew.

Time to reflect, time

 to pray, time to ask

for wisdom, patience, and

feet of clay.

“Lord Jesus, lend me

your eyes that I might

see this flock as you do.

Give me your heart to

love all whom you send

my way and a discerning

mind that wisdom would flow, Amen.”

Standing and grasping his Bible

he started toward the sanctuary

as muffled voices and distant

car doors announced the

arrival of the congregation.

The Pastor knew he would

be here and there was nothing

he could do because the

unwelcomed guest

always received an

invitation from me

and from you.

He would sit in the

very front row knowing

every word of scripture

but not letting it show.

He wasn’t there to learn,

fellowship, or become

more like the Savior. No,

none of those things is

what he did savor.

The Pastor sighed deeply

upon stepping to the pulpit

as he recognized their guest

was already working the room.

The people were settled into their

familiar clicks. The poor sat in the far rear

while the affluent took the lead.

 But none sat next to the family

 who lived without running water,

Their respectable senses

were aghast.

Tongue clicks and whispers veiled under breath

spread disdain and disgust in the

presence of such an obvious

disgrace.

Over there perched the family of judges,

who would snicker and point with their eyes

to alert one another that there was laughter to be had

or condemnation to be made of those just entering

the sanctuary.

The Bennet family, fragile as can be,

sat holding one another in their

fear and in their grief. They had lost a son

in Iraq last summer and now their little one

is fighting cancer. Their faith is stretched thin but

they have not given up hope. Our Guest is

trying his best to destroy them but he is failing.

Then you have those who feel it

their duty to reveal your sin, criticize

your worship or prayer life, and condemn

those who are struggling.

 In their reason,

 one is sick, barren, in

financial woe or experiencing

heart ache due to some unconfessed

sin.

 “Get right with God and your

hardship will be delivered.” is the chant

they cry in disapproving condemnation.

Driving divisions among God’s people

is his favorite activity and we are

so willing to play.

Yes, he is here and they invited him

as they do regardless of the warnings.

He knows the Bible better than most

Christians but he does not see its truth.

His hardened heart does not feel

the forgiving love of Christ.

Instead, it angers him and

he takes his fury out upon

the flock.

“They have more than us. She is far prettier or talented

than I. I heard…cheated on his wife. God cannot

love or forgive you since you did that horrible

thing in your past. You are not good enough to succeed. Your

beliefs are childish superstitions. You will fail.”

Lies, his favorite lies, he uses against

the flock.

He has enjoyed great success in

invading the church and scattering the flock.

His minions carry out his orders sewing

discord, jealousy, bigotry, hatred, and

cynicism where ever they go.

Church after church has fallen to his

attacks.

He is becoming angrier

and fiercer as he

sees his time ebbing away.

He tortures any who work

to follow the Savior’s path.

Yes, Satan is the first one in church

and the last one to leave because turning

one Christian to sin bringing him to ruin

will convince 1000 more souls to reject

Jesus because of his sinful people.

Satan loves to use fallen Christians because

it hurts the Father deeply when his children stray.

He will never give up, never stop, and never

show mercy.

Children of God, take warning and

be on guard so you do not

become one of Satan’s favorite tools.

In a world of pain and destruction,

be determined not to add to the

brokenness of Creation.

Instead, build…repair…create

and healing will be had in your church,

home, work place, social group, neighborhood

and maybe, just maybe, it will keep going and

heal our lands.

 

 

“If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray then I shall hear from heaven and heal their lands.” God

RADIANCE


Brilliance envelopes
her being.
Every cell pulsating
with tingling
warmth bringing
her to the precipice
between pain and pleasure.

A mere reflection of
His Glory.
A passing glance
of His
boundless
Love and Mercy.

The sensation of pure
Joy and Love
brought her to her
knees. She wept.

He dropped to
the ground
before her.
Gently he bent close
to her ear.
“I Love You, Daughter”.

She recoiled as if
struck with a hot iron,
scurrying away from
his sacrificial love. Never
had she felt this before and
its strength was excruciating.

Slowly, he crawled
to her, scooping
her into his arms.
“I Love You, Daughter”.

She cried out in sweet
anguish as his words
healed her brokenness.
Her chest heaving with the
effort to draw breath
began to calm as
his tears mingled
with her own.

Mustering all
remaining strength,
she found her voice.

“It was supposed to be me!
It was my sentence! I committed
the crimes. I deserved to be punished!
You didn’t do anything so why
did you tell them that you did it? Each time
they spit at you, that was mine to bear. Every cruel
blow was supposed to land
upon my flesh. I deserved it, I sinned, I
was cruel and dishonest.
Those lashes you bore
were mine!
I know how to take people’s
cruelty because I am used to it but your
love hurts so much.
Why, didn’t you let me
confess and bear the punishment?
You did nothing! You did nothing!
I did everything. I tried, I really
tried to get to you and stop them from
nailing you to that tree. I tried to confess
over and again but the soldiers just
laughed and pushed me away. Why
did you take my punishment? Why?
Father, why?”
She blurted
this stream of sorrow, guilt,
confusion, and fear towards
him using a single breath.

The love never left
his expression as he spoke.
Each word calming her
spirit as he breathed healing
upon her soul.
“Yes, the punishment was yours
to bear. Justly, you had been
convicted. The bruises belong to you.
The torn flesh should have been worn by you.
The blood spilled
should have drained from your
broken body.
But I could not allow it. What
the world does to you is harsh
but what awaits the guilty
is far worse and
lasts for eternity. What
they inflicted upon me
was very little compared to
the days I spent in Hell.
You could not have bore
the unseen torment. It
would have destroyed
you completely.
I had to open another
door for my children, for
the deceiver has lured
many to their doom.
He offers sweet lies
and beautiful promises
tricking my wayward
children by making
them very comfortable.”

Breathing normally, tears dried,
she asked, “How can
I ever pay that debt?”

“You cannot. It was
a gift of my love. I
bore it all for you, daughter.
You are my child and
I love you more than life.”
He spoke with such intense
love and devotion that
she did not doubt his words.
When he spoke, she didn’t only
hear each word but she felt them
as if he were writing them upon her
very heart.

“What can I do to show
you how much I love you
and how thankful I am
for this precious gift? I
have nothing of any value, but
all I have I will give freely.”
she offered with a depth
of sincerity she did not
know she possessed.

“Love. Love me and love others
as much as I have loved you.
Use my eyes to look at everyone around
you so that their worth will be evident. Use
my heart to feel the hurt and pain in your
sisters and brothers. Minister to those needs
and show them the way to my
loving, forgiving, embrace. I will
never stop pursuing my children
until they make a choice. I will
knock at their doors night and day
until they choose to answer it
or reject me. I will either enter
their hearts or I will honor
their choice and walk away.
Each of my children must
decide for themselves.
YOU MUST
MAKE
a
CHOICE.”

Take My Hand


Blinding radiance
brings an arm to shield her sight.
Looking into the
faces crushing about
reveals they see nothing.

Pulsations travel through the soil
moving her being.
A tingling sensation progresses from
her feet, to her knees, to her center.

Blood is afire as it surges through
her veins making the roar
audible to her alone.

Lungs freeze in expansion.
The heart stills as the
energy continues
its upward journey.
There is no pain.
There is no fear.
There is only being.

The eyes once stung by
the radiance now adjust as
the energy fills them
from within.

Her eyes see…everything.
The throngs continue in
their pursuits.
They are shrouded in
darkness, yet appear happy.
Nothing has changed for them.
They are happy.

Exhaling, she realizes she had
been holding her breath.
Form after form becomes
tangible in the light.
The colors are brilliant and
hold a depth she has never
before witnessed.

The air is crisp and dew
droplets cling to the
vegetation growing in lush control.

A small, unfamiliar sound
tickles her ear. Looking about
her eyes find its maker. A small,
red-haired fox. A kit, alone but
unafraid of her approach. It was mewing.
Calling for its mother or siblings, she thought.
Scooping it up, she knew she had
never felt such luxurious softness.

It’s eyes looked at her with interest
but began its mewing again when she
failed to produce the familiar scent its
mother owned alone.

The plants before her parted.
The dame had found her lost kit.
There was no tension between the
three. The mother simply came up
and plucked the kit from the woman’s hand.
Then it disappeared into the foliage.

Perhaps she was sick,
lying in the hospital with fever?
Maybe she was dead!
Regardless of these thoughts,
she felt nothing but peace.

The mutterings of those
milling about the edge of the light
was indistinct chatter. Although
fascinated by this fact, her attention was
drawn back toward the place she
knelt.

“Take my hand, child.”
A voice so melodic commanded
with gentle strength.
Every cell tingled at its sound.
What a glorious sensation!

She accepted the extended hand
and felt her entire being
radiate with power. It was
as if every good thing her senses
had ever recorded was
being felt all at once.
Waves of glorious sensation
made her want to hold this hand
forevermore.

Once upon her feet, he released her.
Eyes spilling their joy,
she looked upon his face with
intensity.

He heard the questions of her
heart but only offered a smile
of knowing in return.
Once her tears stopped
spilling and her
breathing leveled.
He began.

“This is a veil separating you
from the purity and
love I used to create existence.
Your mortal self will not be
permitted to tarry.” his voice
caressed her senses.

She could only listen as
her entire being was captivated
by the love emanating from
that beautiful voice.

“Daughter, you have been
called to walk between the
light and darkness.” a soft
sadness caressed every word.
“Some of my children are so
lost they have accepted
the darkness as reality.” pain had
entered his voice and the sensation
upon her being was pure agony.

“Are you willing to help them?” he
asked motioning to the shadowed
throngs.”Some are so far away
from the light, they cannot see a pinpoint.
Some have so much pain they
have given up the search.
And still others are diligently
working to destroy.”

The pain in his words brought her
to her knees. The intensity
was searing her essence. He was
not inflicting it upon her,
she was experiencing
a ‘glancing blow’ of
his broken heart.

“Daughter, take my hand”, his words
ended her pain immediately.
His loved poured into her
as he grasped her hand.

“You must go,”
speaking with all authority.
“You are not alone.
I have called many to the path you
have been asked to walk.
Each of them have arrived upon
this path through different vehicles
but all who have been called know well
of hardship and pain.
Just as you, they have survived
the darkness
with help from those, whom
I sent before you.
If you choose this task,
you must keep one foot in each realm.”

Each word he spoke
overwhelmed her due to the
sensations his voice caused and the
weight of their content. As long as
she held onto his hand, she was able to
endure it, but only… just.

She knew her answer and felt herself being
pulled back toward the edge… between.
As her fingertips held desperately to his,
she felt as if she were drowning
gasping for her final breath.
Everything stilled.

“Daughter, have peace. I am always
with you. Never will I leave you.
Others are already in place
to help you with this
most important task.
I love you my sweet,
darling daughter.
I love all of you.”

At once, she felt others pushing
their way past her and the sound of
those selling their wares. Her eyes
focused and just when her mind
had begun to rationalize the experience,
she felt…more.

A beautiful green and yellow butterfly
took flight. She watched its
graceful dance
as the sun shown brilliantly
through it’s veneer wings.
The stark contrast between its
beauty and the misery that abounded
all around was
breathtaking.

“Everything…is different,” She
whispered. A broad smile graced
her countenance as she
took her first step toward
hope.

Walking upon Rice Paper


Walk upon the Rice
Goosebumps signaled her
skins reaction to the
cool evening breeze.

Far she had traveled to seek
understanding and wisdom
knowing the cost of which
would be hardship and pain.
Finally, she could see the pinnacle.

Moonbeams danced upon the
massive frame of the pagoda
sitting atop the next ridge.
Its beauty and solitude
was brightly awash in
a crystal blue light of the
heavenly star.

The frost laden night made
visual each exhale.
The ice crystals danced
in front of her beckoning
her to quicken her pace.

Ancient doors, cloaked in frost,
reflected the moonlight in
an awesome radiance.
Each door creaked
in protest as they
swung open to
permit her
entry.

Candlelight flickered strongly
casting a ballet of
fanciful shadows upon
the walls just beyond the light
that bore them.

The room was empty except
for her own person. It was
spacious but void of decoration
or comforts.
A path, running thru
the center of the space,
appeared to be
a delicate, long sheet
of rice paper.

Burned into a wooden beam above
the path these words instructed,
“Walk the path.
Leave no mark.”

Knowing the paper to be
fragile gave her pause before
venturing forward.
Her first step tore the paper
causing pain to travel through her.
Fear made the second step more
difficult to take but she took it.

Reaching the end of the path, of
thirty-three steps, she collapsed.
Pain and heartache had brutalized
her body and spirit.

Looking back upon the path
she wept at seeing the tears
all along the path. Before her
eyes, the paper was mended
by an unseen hand.

A soft voice instructed,
“Again, but leave no mark.”

The very thought of taking that
path again filled her with trepidation.
She thought to herself that she
just could not take that walk again but
obeyed the commandment without
understanding why she was
being told to do this.

After a hundred and twenty
attempts, each
ending the same as the first,
She plead for mercy and guidance.
“I cannot walk that path again.
There is no way I can walk it without
leaving a mark behind. Please, I do not
understand why this is necessary. I
cannot do this. How is this teaching
me wisdom?” She begged.

“Once more. Walk the path but
leave no mark.” the voice
commanded.

After sobbing a bit, she gathered
her strength then girded herself
with faith and determination.
“Father, please help me. I cannot
do this on my own.” she whispered.

Taking her first step, there was no pain.
The paper did not tear. Each step was
taken with more joy and confidence
until reaching the end of the path.
Looking back, she saw the unblemished
paper she had just traveled. Not only
was the paper devoid of tears but it did not
even have the slightest impression
from any of her thirty-three steps.
Now, she was more baffled than ever.

“I do not understand. What
does this mean?” she asked the
unseen voice.

He began his discourse, “Every step
you take affects my world and the people
with whom you come into contact. It is impossible
for you to walk through this world without leaving a
mark. Walking alone, in your own knowledge, these
marks are painful to you and those you touch. When
you walk with me and my will; it is then that I work
through your every step to bring my light, love, and
healing to my creation. You cannot do this alone. It
is only possible when I carry my children. My wisdom,
mercy and love will flow through you if you humble
yourself to become my vessel. Shed your ideas of
self importance, presumptions of knowing my
will and just follow my voice. I will lead you
to my light. Others will see me
shinning through you and
hunger after the peace I offer. Follow
me and I will ensure that each step
you take will be filled with purpose.”

As the massive doors swung
closed behind her she thought,
“My thoughts are not your thoughts,
My ways are not your ways.”

Now she knew that she needed
to listen for her Father’s voice and
obey him in order to make each step
of her life bring forth fruit. We cannot
do it alone and we cannot see the
entire picture or outcome. That means
it is very important to finish whatever task
the Father sends without knowing the reason.

Alas, relief swept over her as she understood.
We are vessels that the Father works through.
We need only trust him and
listen to his still, small voice.

Is it well…with your soul?


If you are a Christian then you likely are very familiar with the hymn, ‘It is Well With My Soul’. It is my absolute favorite because of the back story to it. Of course, I love the words for it’s author penned them during the worst agony any parent could suffer. Horatio was an American lawyer in the mid 1880’s. He had married Anna and they proceeded to have four lovely daughters, eleven-year-old Tanetta, nine-year-old Elizabeth “Bessie”, five-year-old Margaret Lee, and two-year-old Anna “Annie”. He wished to take his family on holiday to England but business delayed his departure so he sent his family on ahead of him. The ship carrying his family was struck by a heavy commercial iron ship. 226 souls were lost to the depths including all four of Horatio’s daughters. Anna, his wife survived to send a telegram to her husband, which simply read, “Saved, alone.”
I can only imagine the utter anguish Anna and Horatio endured when Satan stole their family. Horatio would take a ship to England and upon that journey he would pen the hymn that speaks of his love and devotion to God but also of the utter anguish he was enduring. Every time I hear this song but especially when I sing this song, I feel his grief, love, and adoration in every word. Their heartbreak mingles with my own allowing this song to become the anthem of my soul.
Horatio and Anna went on to re-build their family, having three more children. Sadly, Satan was not finished tormenting this family as he took their four year old son with scarlet fever. They did not lose their faith even though their lives continued to be filled with challenges. It is the back story, the human factor, behind this song that breathes life anew into it after so many years. It is just as meaningful to us in modernity as it was for that grieving father standing upon the ship deck being battered with ocean spray saying goodbye to his precious daughters whose resting place became the Atlantic ocean. How many have been inspired by this hymn? How many own its lyrics adopting each word as their own? How many thousands upon thousands have come to the savior just through this song and dear Horatio’s grief?
When horrible things happen to us in this life we tend to focus our anger, confusion, frustration, and outrage upon the Lord. We blame him for our anguish and turn from him but he never turns from us. He is big enough to take anything we can dish out. He became human and he knows suffering, all kinds of suffering. Personally, it is harder for me to cope with heartbreak than it is to deal with physical pain. I would rather every bone in my body be broken than have my heart break again. God knows what it is to feel his heart breaking over and over again. There is nothing that we have gone through or will go through that God has not endured; therefore, he understands exactly what we are feeling and he knows exactly what we need. When our world falls apart around us we can either fall apart with it or be like Horatio and stand firm in the knowledge that God has not let go of you, he will never let go because you are his precious child.
If you are hurting today, know that God is with you and that he is embracing you in his love. Even though you may not be able to see through the anguish at this moment, God will use this pain to create something magnificent if you allow him too. What Satan means for our destruction, God will use to shape his kingdom in love, justice, compassion, righteousness, and meaning. Like Horatio and Anna, you have to allow God to use your pain to form something good. He will not force himself upon you, no, you must invite him to take the lead. I pray daily that God will use me to bring his kingdom to fruition, to help others, to defeat Satan in any way I can. I am an infinitely minute piece of the grand plan but I know that I and you are critical to the fruition of God’s Kingdom. Just as a carter pin can be tiny, its importance is no less critical to the whole. Whatever pain you are traversing know with all confidence that if you give it to the Lord he will use it to bring something beautiful about.

It is well with my soul
by Horatio Spafford 1873

When peace, like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Chorus: It is well (it is well), with my soul (with my soul),
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blesssed assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.

Chorus

My Sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Oh my soul.

Chorus

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, It is well with my soul.

Chorus.

Horatio and Anna could not know that they would have to say goodbye to yet another child in their future, nor could they imagine the hardship and persecutions they would endure but they sought the Lord in every step they took. Their journey should give those of faith strength to endure whatever Satan uses as a means to destroy us. These are not minor attacks upon the children of God, that deceiver took their joy, their hope, their hearts and ripped them apart with grief and anguish. There is no greater anguish for a parent than to lose their child and it definitely has the power to destroy you. Yet, it is not the only thing he uses as a tool to destroy each and every child of God.
God is more powerful, cling to him even if you feel you are too weary to raise your arms. Just reach as far as you can and Christ will firmly grasp your hand. I promise you, Christ is right there with you through every moment of pain, every tear, every fear, every angry word and every hopeless thought.
Do you know that point of total anguish where your mind, body, soul comes too where you feel that every molecule in your body is free falling or caught in a mighty vortex? You do not feel real, everything around you feels as if it is only a shadow. It is that moment when you cannot force air to go in or out of your body. It is the point where your soul has been torn and there is nothing around you but pain, suffering, and utter despair. He, Christ Jesus, will hold you lovingly, protectively in his strength, he will give you his breath so that you can breathe and when you are ready he will help you stand and take the next step.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horatio_Spafford