We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Friday, February 7, 2020

Finding Faithfulness

I settled myself into a chair at the end of the second row, among about fifty other seniors who gathered on a dreary Wednesday afternoon. I didn't expect to begin the new year here. Life has a way of taking unexpected twists and turns.

It all began the day I took my Christmas decorations down and marched them up to the attic. I don't know how many times I climbed the stairs. Apparently, too many. I've learned to manage one bad hip joint, but when the "good" side began to buckle over the next week, I found myself in a pickle, clinging to the furniture to get around..  

A few days of taking it easy helped, yet at times I still found myself grabbing whatever chair or counter happened to be nearby. After eight years of avoiding the orthopedic office, I made an appointment, hoping a little PT would do the trick. "Bone on bone, severe arthritis, cysts," they said. I couldn't argue with the x-ray.

After much prayer, consulting with "my people," and gathering up courage, I signed on the dotted line. Wednesday's required joint replacement class taught us what to expect, physical therapy tips, and risks. I limped to my car praying,"Oh, Lord, how can I be faithful in this circumstance, this challenge?" 

How can you be faithful in your situation? 

Ironically, last month (before I had any inkling of surgery) I blogged: "Over and over, God has given me every reason to trust Him. These evidences of His power and involvement in my life help me remember and practice the truth the next time my stomach knots up and I find myself dreading instead of trusting."

I just finished reading Kings and Chronicles and have been so impressed with God's supernatural power demonstrated in overthrowing armies, changing the minds of kings, and protecting those devoted to Him. His sovereignty down to the smallest detail throughout these chapters and His faithful hand in my own circumstances have brought me comfort. No matter what lies before us, He's got the whole world in His hand! 

And really, it's not about you or me anyway. Paul, a prisoner in Rome, wrote these words: "I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel . . ." (Philippians 1:12-14). Not only did all the guards hear about Christ, but the believers gained confidence to speak God's Word without fear. 

Wherever God directs our days, we have the opportunity to reflect His light to those around us (Matthew 5:16). Because of what happened to our family in a 2003 car crash, many have read Penned Without Ink, the story of God's trustworthiness and grace in the face of trauma. Because of what happened in Barry's passing, others have gleaned strength from his legacy. 

In 2017, Joni Eareckson Tada celebrated the 50th anniversary of the diving accident that left her a quadraplegic. Because of what happened on that fateful day, Joni & Friends was born, an organization that not only gives support to those with disabilities all over the world but shares the hope of Christ. Because of what happened through years of pain and suffering, Joni's many books offer a unique depth and thoughtful encouragement. 

Battles, prison, trauma, and pain aren't experiences we would choose. Yet, like Joni, I want to walk my journey well to the glory of God. Reading the Old Testament stories along with Paul's prison experience put my surgery in perspective. Can you and I link arms with these heroes of faith and say, "What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel."? 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

2020: Are you Dreading or Trusting?

What are you looking forward to in 2020?
A long-planned vacation? A family reunion or wedding? A conference or get-away weekend? A new season signifying a new beginning? I have a few things I'm anticipating. Visits with my children and my growing grandkids always top the list. Then, there’s planting a variety of vegetables and flowers in the yard, attending a writers’ conference, and even spending a few quiet evenings with friends or with a good book. 

On the other hand, what are you dreading?

I'll be honest with you. At times, I find myself dreading quite a list of things. Things like managing a challenging relationship or tackling necessary paperwork or learning to navigate new technology. My conscientious side fears hurting those I love or making a mistake when it seems I'm feeling my way in the dark. And I don't look forward to facing health issues and growing older--alone. 

I'm learning that dread and trust are at opposite ends of the spectrum. If I'm dreading, even in the ordinary things, can I truly be trusting the God who promises to walk beside me as my refuge and strength through both the big and little challenges?

We’re not alone in this tug-of-war between dread and trust. Way back in the days when the Hebrew people finally camped on the brink of the Promised Land, Moses spoke these words, "Dread not, neither be afraid . . . The Lord your God Who goes before you, He will fight for you . . . Yet in spite of this word [the people] did not believe (trust, rely on, and remain steadfast to) the Lord [their] God" (Deuteronomy 1:29-30, 32 AMPC). As a consequence of their unbelief, they wandered in the wilderness for forty years instead of enjoying the blessings God had planned for them.

Lately, I've been challenged by the apostle John's reminder to "practice the truth" (1 John 1:6). The truth that God invites us to come to the throne of grace to ask for wisdom. The truth that He will never leave us or forsake us. The truth that He has a purposeful plan for our lives and will guide us every step of the way.

Throughout the past months, over and over, God has given me every reason to trust Him. These evidences of His power and involvement in my life serve as monuments to help me remember and practice the truth the next time my stomach knots up and I find myself dreading instead of trusting.

“Dread not. Neither be afraid.” Words of grace to live by every single day.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
Psalm 56:3