Can You REALLY Trust God?

1After Waylon preached his last sermon in June, we were excited about enjoying a month’s sabbatical to rest, relax, recoup, and study before beginning another year of ministry.  Little did we know there would be no rest, no relaxation, no time to recoup, and definitely no opportunity to study.  Instead, there was a Category 5 storm already brewing.

On Sunday evening as Waylon and I began to make our plans for the month, Waylon shared something he had read in one of F.B. Meyer’s books, The Secret of Guidance, about discerning God’s will.  According to Meyer we need to look for three things to converge: God’s Word, the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and our circumstances.  He said that when these three line up, the will of God will become so clear it is as if we have glowworms sparkling along our path.  (Since we don’t have glowworms in Louisiana, think of fireflies or lightning bugs as we called them in Alabama).  “You will become so sure that you are right, when God’s three witnesses concur, that you could not be surer though an angel beckoned you on…. I would encourage each troubled and perplexed soul who may read these lines to wait patiently for the Lord until He clearly indicates His will.”   We were clueless as to how much we were going to need Meyer’s wisdom beginning the very next day.

To help you understand what I’m sharing you need to know that I was born into a very needy, dysfunctional family—mentally ill alcoholic father and three teenage siblings.  Because of the age difference, the three older ones were much closer to each other than to me.  Six weeks ago Rose, the youngest of the three who lived in North Carolina, passed away.

Now, back to my storm account—on Monday night I called Betty,  my oldest sister, to check on her knowing that Rose’s death was a terrible loss for her.  (The two of them had talked on the phone every weekend until a few months before Rose’s death). When Betty answered the phone I knew she was in trouble.  She was depressed, gripped in the clutches of desperation, and had lost her will to live.  She could not see how she and Stevie, her special needs son, could make it. Being a diabetic she was also worried about her physical well-being.

To make a long story short, we drove to Alabama and got her in to see her primary care physician, a godly man and a childhood friend of ours.  Seeing her dire condition, he immediately contacted a hospital in a nearby town which had a unit for senior care.  Providentially, we were able to get Betty admitted that afternoon, July 3rd.

Assessing the situation I knew that God’s Word, the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and my circumstances had lined up.  I could hear the words of Jesus in Matthew 25 as He talked about “The Sheep and the Goats.”  “In as much as you have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto me,” kept reverberating through my mind.

Also weeks before, the Holy Spirit had been tugging at my heart every time I had heard a song on the radio by Matthew West called “Do Something.” In it West, after looking around at all the pain and suffering in the world,  shook his fist toward Heaven and said, “’God, why don’t You do something?”’

Then God said, “I did, I created you.”

Like Matthew West I begged God to do something in our situation, but instead I heard the words, “I made you.” Waylon and I both knew God was leading us to help this family.

In a few days it became apparent Betty and her son could no longer live independently.  Although Betty could have gone to the local nursing home in Alabama and Stevie could have continued to live in their apartment, I knew that really wasn’t an option.  There was no one there to take care of them.  Besides, I knew I would not be at peace with my being two states away.

With neither of those being a viable option, it appeared that Waylon and I would need to bring both of them home with us.  To be perfectly honest with you, after a few days I began to sink wondering how in the world I could ever manage their care.

We prayed and asked God to show us His will, the glowworms, as He had done so many times before in this situation.  I couldn’t see how this could possibly work.  Then God whispered His Word to me through Waylon:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path clear.”

Knowing I was between a rock and a hard place, I searched Waylon’s face, looked into his blue eyes, and asked, “Can we REALLY trust God?”

Being the wonderful man of faith he is, Waylon reassured me.  “Of course we can,” he said.  “God has already shown us the glowworms to guide us.”

So for the next few weeks I quoted that verse—Proverbs 3:5-6—over and over every time I began to sink.

God also reminded me of a wonderful passage of Scripture in 2 Chronicles 20 when King Jehoshaphat learned his nation was going to be attacked.  Knowing his kingdom wasn’t strong enough to defend itself, the king came before the LORD and said, “O our God…we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”

Then one of the Levites said, “This is what the LORD says to you, ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s….You will not have to fight this battle….Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.”

I can tell you for sure that I read and reread that passage begging the Lord to fight my battle.  And He did!

In my desperation of not knowing how I would be able to care for both Betty and Stevie, God sent an angel, my niece Theressa, who willingly and joyfully volunteered to assume the responsibility for Stevie. How that came about is another can of glowworms–another post for another day.

I’d love to be able to share many more details of the past month with you, but let me just say the Lord has fought for us.  He has opened doors for which we have no explanation other than His mighty hand.  God has continued to sprinkle glowworms along our path.  Last Saturday night I looked out my breakfast room window to see a swarm of fireflies putting on a light show—just for me.  I went back a few minutes later and they were gone.

While this has been a nightmare of a month I have learned a great lesson about trust and obedience.  I’ve learned that:

  1. I can trust God.  I have to trust God.
  2. There are situations I’m not smart enough to figure out.
  3. If I will acknowledge His sovereignty and act in obedience, He will show me the next step to take.

3I hope your path is smooth right now, but if it isn’t I pray you will claim every word of Proverbs 3:5-6.

You can REALLY trust God!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. “  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

 

 

Safe in the Storms of Life

If you’ve never done a study of the book of Acts, I highly recommend it. Last year the ladies in our church and community completed a 25-week study, and it was one of the most meaningful ones I’ve ever done. There is never a dull moment in the entire book. It will keep you on the edge of your seat. Don’t let the names and places intimidate you. Just get a good map and Bible dictionary and you’ll be fine.

In Chapter 27, Luke tells about Paul’s voyage to Rome for his appeal before Caesar. On board an Alexandrian grain ship, Paul and other prisoners were placed under the custody of a Roman centurion named Julius. En route they were caught in a northeaster, packing hurricane-force winds that blew them off course. Sensing they were in danger, they began to take precautionary measures to prepare the ship for the added stress of the turbulent seas. Consequently, fear and desperation set in.

Just when everyone on board had convinced themselves their ship would be another victory for the dreaded Syrtis shoals off the coast of Africa, the angel of the Lord appeared to Paul reassuring him that not only would he survive the horrific experience and testify before Caesar, but all 276 passengers on board would be saved as well.

To make a long story short, after being thrashed around for fourteen terrifying days without knowing where they were, the voyagers finally spotted land with a sandy shoreline up ahead. Their plan was to run the ship aground on the beach, but before they reached it the ship struck an off-shore sandbar, immobilizing the bow while the stern whipped back and forth in the tempest. Knowing it was only a matter of minutes before the ship would be completely destroyed, the soldiers prepared to kill all the prisoners. However, Julius, wanting to spare Paul’s life, intervened. Instead, he gave orders for everyone to jump overboard and either swim or float on wreckage to shore. Miraculously, all 276 made it safely. Upon arrival, they discovered they were on the tiny island of Malta—amazingly, not far off course. After wintering there, they made the last leg of the trip to Rome.

The application for this story is easy because I live in Louisiana not far from the Gulf of Mexico. From June until November it is not a matter of if we will have a storm—we will. We just don’t know whether it will be a tropical depression or a Category 5 hurricane, but no matter what, especially after Katrina, common sense tells us we had better be ready. Certain things should be firmly in place—evacuation route, batteries, flashlights, canned goods, generators, gas, bottled water, and so on. How well we will fare during and after the storm will depend largely on how well we have prepared before the storm.

Did you know that life is the same way? It’s not a matter of whether or not we’ll have storms in our lives. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). He also said, “Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). It’s not a matter of if but a matter of when they will come. We can see some storms coming. We have time to brace ourselves. But others hit us like a freight train. I have just had one of those and it is too fresh to even share with you at this point.

It’s not a matter of if but a matter of when and how intense. Your next storm may be equivalent to a tropical depression—just a minor inconvenience, or it may be THE BIG ONE—the Category 5 that threatens your life or knocks you flat on your face. And may I just interject one thing here? Please hear me. It is very important to be able to differentiate between a minor storm and a major hurricane. It’s one thing for a fourth grader not to know the difference, but it’s serious when an adult reacts to a broken nail or clogged drain like it’s the end of the world.

Dealing with the storms of life is not a matter of if but a matter of when, how intense and how well prepared we are. How do you prepare?May I suggest four ways? One, accept Jesus Christ as your Savior so that you are not alone when the tough times come. Two, develop a close personal relationship with the Lord through prayer. Do this ahead of time so you are not talking to a stranger about your troubles. Three, cling to the promises in His Word that reassure you of the Lord’s presence and power over your storm. Four, surround yourself with Christian friends who will love, support, and see you through your time of need. None of us should be caught unprepared.Storms of life quote

Take comfort today if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, because the Lord will stand with you in your time of need. You can weather any storm no matter how intense and devastating, because you know the Lord will hold you securely in His everlasting arms. If you do not have a relationship with the Lord, would you be willing to confess your sins and invite Him to be a part of your life? I don’t want you to have to face another storm unprepared and without support. I am praying for YOU right now.

“Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul.” —Acts 27:23–24a

Scripture Reading: Acts 27

Lord Jesus,

Life can be so tough. Sometimes we fear what may lie ahead and wonder if we can survive some of the storms that come our way, but because Your promises are true we know we can. On the night before You were crucified You assured the disciples You would not leave them comfortless (John 14:18). You told Joshua, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). That means You will stand right beside us just like You did with Paul. We take great comfort in knowing we will never have to face anything alone. How blessed we are to have such a faithful God!

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

 

Used by permission from It Hurts, but I’m Okay by Martha Bailey. Insight Press. Available through Amazon and Insight Press.

If That’s the Worst Thing I Do

“Do you have your skirt on backwards?” the preschooler asked as we were leaving after having dinner with his family, our church members.  I’m not sure how I replied, but for the record I did not have my skirt on backwards.

However, recently after receiving a call that a friend had passed away, I threw on  a pair of jogging pants and shirt (because they didn’t have to be ironed) and raced over to see how I could help the grieving family while they attended to the awful details which accompany the loss of a loved one.photo

While I busied myself in the kitchen, a long-time friend of both mine and the grieving family’s, Edmund, arrived. After expressing his compassionate heartfelt sympathy, he came into the kitchen and pointed toward me.  Thinking he was calling attention to something beyond me I looked, saw nothing, and looked back at him with my hands extended in a puzzled gesture.

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Flip-Flops and God’s Name

Flipflops & God 2Yesterday we were shopping for flip-flops at a souvenir shop at the beach when a four-year-old and her dad walked in. Obviously they were flip-flop shopping too, because as soon as the little girl spied a pair she liked she exclaimed, “Oh my God, look Daddy!” Cringing at the sound of those words my heart sank as I wondered why a four-year-old would say something like that.

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Reporting for Duty for the Very Last Time

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photo credit: Nrbelex

Last Inspection: Precise Ritual of Dressing Nation’s War Dead” appeared in The New York Times May 25, 2013.

The article is a gripping piece about how the bodies of our fallen warriors are respectfully and lovingly prepared for burial at the Dover Air Force Base Mortuary in Dover, Delaware.

The New York Times made it clear that each body is given the dignity the fallen warrior deserves. Those who work in the mortuary are charged with the task of restoring each body as nearly as possible to its pre-death condition. “It has to look normal, like someone who is sleeping,” said Petty Officer First Class Jennifer Howell.”

“Once the body is ready, the mortuary staff prepares dress uniforms for each, even if the coffin is closed at the funeral with the uniform laid on top of the remains, and even if the body is to be cremated.” Continue reading