Ever have those days where you feel pressed in on from every side? Days filled with worry and despair, sometimes for no identifiable reason. That’s where I am again today, was there yesterday too. So, I thought (because that’s what I do ad nauseum) how ironic that I have a blog about finding beauty when in my head and heart right now I see none. How tempting it is to not write when I am in this state of mind… but this is life and that’s where I’m at now so I press on.
My prayers lately have been that God would begin to reveal to me choices I make that may seem insignificant that actually end up having a significant impact (positive or negative) on those around me. This could be something as simple as stopping what I am doing to actively listen and see what it is my child wants to show me. Or not staying up too late looking at crafts I’ll never make and food I’ll never cook on Pinterest ( not that I’ve ever done that 😉 ) as that sets me up to be irritable the following day. I’m beginning to see that good choices in the small details of life have bigger impact than we think- something worth giving thought to.
The next couple of days examine carefully the many choices you make during a day. Which ones may have a greater impact than you think? Are you willing to begin making choices that honor God and bless those around you?
I’m tired of people bad-mouthing Christianity as though it is the destruction of all society, and something only believed by ignorant, weak, hypocritical, bigots who need something to mindlessly follow. Phew, that felt good to say! Unfortunately that comment will likely drop the views on this blog and the friends on my Facebook page… but so be it. Those of you who know me will hopefully hear me out on this one, whether you believe in Christ or not.
Now on to courage, an interesting topic to me… Getting something else off my chest, namely my breasts due to cancer has deemed me courageous in the eyes of many. I’ve fielded many questions of how I got through that. The funny thing is I’m not courageous at all! Seriously, I hate blood draws, don’t even like to take Advil, and prior to cancer never had a surgery save for a couple of C-sections- a certified medical sissy.
But here I am, suddenly faced with quite radical surgeries, pumping toxic chemicals into my body, being radiated, and endless blood draws. At this point, my faith came alive. I had a choice at this moment to believe that my life was in God’s control, and that he is always good, and always works for my best –OR- I could choose to forget that (because look where that got me) and turn my back on God. The problem with the latter choice is that there is no hope there. No hope for a future, no hope for life after death, no hope for my children or my family. So in my mind there was no choice, I set my mind ready for battle and believed God. (In the words of Beth Moore) That he is who he says he is, can do what he says he can do, that I am who he says I am, that I can do all things (even battle cancer) in him who strengthens me and that his word is alive and active today.
Here’s the deal, that didn’t make it a cake-walk but I made it through something I was intensely afraid of. And, I had God’s supernatural peace even if I didn’t survive. Never underestimate the power of hope in the Almighty God. Christianity isn’t just an ugly, hypocritical religion used to shame people who don’t think the same way (although certainly some have used it that way). It is a real live powerful relationship with our creator, who is good and loving and that provides for us all that we need in this life. Including hope… and that is a beautiful thing when your situation looks bleak.
I really hope this blesses someone who is struggling today…
My devotion time this morning centered on:
Isaiah 50:10-11 Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.
In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers describes how when God is giving someone a vision he hides them in the shadow of his hand. Shadows are dark, kind of spooky and cold places. I don’t much like to be in them… unless of course it’s really HOT. Then shadows become a cool refuge. When the heat is on and we are being tested, God hides us in the shadow of his hand. In that place we wait and trust in him to sustain us until it is safe to come out.
The problem is, at least for me I really don’t like to wait much and I hate being in the dark… so I tend to try to light a torch and use my own resourcefulness to work my way out of the darkness. Guess what I get when I do that- I get to lie down in torment!
Friends, I have been there it’s no fun. I often get frustrated with God and try to speed things along or anticipate the next move. As soon as I finished cancer treatment in 2007 I did this by “giving back”, volunteering for everything breast cancer related and even starting a non-profit. The problem is I was still supposed to be waiting in the shadow, and I really had little to give. There were still things God needed to teach me and those efforts were my own way of making my cancer work for good. Now I am resting in the shadow and waiting on God to reveal to me his way of working this out for good- trusting that it will be infinitely more than I could ever imagine. As I do this I no longer lie down in torment but have taken hold of the peace that only God can offer in this life.
What about you? What are you trusting in- your own resourcefulness, others opinions, books, other joys in your life? Or have you placed your confidence in God? Are you willing to wait in his shadow, rest in his refuge and trust in his timing? Do you want to lie down in torment or peace? I can attest peace is much better!
One gift that I got a precious glimpse of as I endured the treatment for cancer was a sheer delight for anything ordinary. I actually yearned for the strength to bathe my kids, clip their fingernails, and even at one moment desired the strength to do the dishes! This of course sounds utterly absurd to me at the moment… I believe however, that God was showing me how much I take for granted in my life. The very ability to care for my family and my household is a blessing. Sadly, I don’t so much feel that way now just a few short years later.
When tragedy comes we begin to see things from a very different perspective time and people become precious, and so does ordinary. Because when tragedy comes ordinary all of a sudden looks quite extraordinary. I want that again, that ability to see the “extra” in my ordinary, for time and people to be precious again. As you go about your day today delight in the ordinary, give a little thought to what it would be like to not be able to do all those things you are doing, give a little thought about the people you are with and how you spend your time- begin to view them as precious because they are.
Have you ever noticed that the years keep ticking by… We celebrate many anniversaries in life: of marriages, birthdays, deaths, and other major life events. Sometimes these are treasured days where we remember fondly beautiful days of the past, but sometimes these are days of mourning for those we have lost or the day your life changed… by say a diagnosis of cancer. One thing all anniversaries have in common is the element of remembrance. With the 5 year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis coming up I am forced to remember and reflect. And this year I am chosing to find the beauty in cancer. This blog will serve as my journal of sorts as I ask God to show me the beauty amidst the ugliness and search for my “what now”.
Joy may seem to pause as grief takes its course, but those whose broken hearts are bound by him will experience it again.
You, O Lord, love me with an everlasting love; You have drawn me with loving kindness. You will build me up again and I will be rebuilt. I will take up my tambourine and go out to dance with the joyful! (Jer 31:3-4)
Excerpt from Praying God’s Word Day By Day by Beth Moore
What has been the ugliness in your life? Will you choose to find the beauty in it? If you are in God’s loving hands you will be rebuilt and you will again be joyful. I challenge you to join me on this journey… to not let another year tick by refusing to let God redeem your suffering, rebuild you and restore your joy. Believe me in my stubbornness I’ve allowed too many years to pass, but I don’t have time to maintain any more regrets. There is beauty to be found!