Sandy’s Story: When There are No Words

There are times when overwhelming loss leaves us without words. Sandra Merville Hart has known such a time. But she has also known the love of God that carries us through those days. Here is Sandy’s story …

Sometimes … God just cries with us.

That year, between the two of us, my husband and I lost three parents. Though I prayed fervently for a different outcome—one where they’d all be healed—for the third time in six months a hospice nurse told me, “We’re seeing the kind of things we see in the last twelve, twenty-four, to forty-eight hours of life.”

This time it was for my dad. The strong man who had been a rock, a safe haven for me and my siblings, lay dying. Mom had died five months earlier and my father-in-law a month before that. Could this really be happening again?

~~~

My dad had been the caregiver for my mom for several years. Her Alzheimer’s grew worse, requiring more time from me and my sister to cook, clean, and help care for Mom. Before my dad’s stroke, one of us had visited daily for many long months. His stroke started an avalanche of sorrow and grief.

For it seemed that God had opened a box, letting out all the bad things at once, and didn’t close the lid until the box was empty. Strokes, two cancer diagnoses, Alzheimer’s, a broken hip—it all tumbled down on our precious parents. Each day—sometimes each hour—brought new struggles as I watched the health of people I loved so dearly seep away.

My sister and I shouldered the brunt of these trials so that my parents never knew all that happened with social agencies, social workers, nursing homes, insurance agents, attorneys, nurses, financial institutions, and hospice staff. I felt like I was drowning, with no one to save me.

~~~

Yet it was my parents, my father-in-law, and my mother-in-law who suffered the most. Alzheimer’s didn’t prevent my mother-in-law from grieving her husband.

The worst part was that my parents were in different nursing homes for about a month. My mom was too ill to go see him and the insurance threatened to cancel his benefits if he left the nursing home. It was a nightmare.

Anytime someone asked how to pray for us, I said, “Pray that my dad’s nursing home finds room for my mom.” Four days after she was accepted for hospice care, she and my dad were reunited in the same nursing home. Unfortunately, hospital staff had called my husband’s family to be at his dad’s side to say final goodbyes, so I missed that joyful reunion.

It was that kind of year.

~~~

For all that we endured, I’m sure we were saved from events that would have made it worse. I’m grateful for the mercies extended to my parents during those dark days.

My dad’s cancer diagnosis came five months after my mother’s death. My siblings and I were left reeling from the blow. He lived two more weeks.

Our broken hearts grieved his passing yet rejoiced that he now walked hand-in-hand with his bride on streets of gold. No Alzheimer’s. No cancer. No stroke.

I looked up at puffy white clouds during his funeral and knew somewhere up there my parents had been reunited. They were happy again.

~~~

I never felt God abandoned me, though I wondered why everything had to be so painfully hard. I leaned heavily on God and my faith. There were many days when there were no words to express my feelings in prayer. I’m grateful that the Holy Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans words cannot express. Romans 8:26 (NIV)

No one can emerge from such experiences without being changed.

I’ve learned that caring actions like a hug, a genuine smile, a card, and a meal can give you the strength to make it through the day. I’ve learned how to care for someone who is suffering through difficult days.

And I’ll never forget how God loved my parents and provided for them when everything seemed hopeless. I prayed that He’d take the illnesses away and heal them again. It wasn’t to be. But I felt that God suffered with me and my siblings. Just as Jesus was moved with compassion for hurting folks, God shared our pain.

Knowing God shared our sorrow was one of the greatest blessings I received from that experience.

From all this sorrow, I finally understand. Sometimes God just cries with us.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4 (NIV)

SandraMervilleHart_Headshot2 Please visit Sandy on her blog: https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/. And be sure to check out her newest book, Trail’s End, in “Smitten Novella Collection: The Cowboys,” releasing August 15, 2019!

Carol M.’s Story: Where an Angel Cared to Tread

The prophet Elijah was literally running for his life when he finally dropped to the ground in exhaustion and despair. In the middle of the wilderness, he sat down under a broom tree and asked God to let him die. Instead, God allowed Elijah to sleep for a time before sending an angel to feed him. Twice, Elijah slept and twice, an angel woke him and offered him bread and water. Refreshed, the prophet got up and journeyed to the next place of ministry (I Kings 19). Carol McLeod believes ministering angels are still heaven-sent today…and so do I. Here is Carol’s story…

I couldn’t wait to deliver our second baby! I loved everything about being a mom and had relatively easy pregnancies. I had experienced a “perfect” labor and delivery with our first son complete with 6 hours of labor and a wonderful epidural! Certainly my second experience would be easier and quicker, right?

The doctor finally induced labor at 3 weeks and 2 days past my due date.  Yes – you read that correctly! Christopher was nearly a month late according to medical calculations. This was at a time before sonograms were normal procedures and when doctors would rarely induce an over-due mother.

Christopher’s birth weight was 9 pounds and 11 ounces of pure boy! As you can imagine, his delivery was difficult and traumatic for me.  In addition to nearly 24 hours of labor with no medical help, I then pushed for nearly 4 hours before the doctor decided that help would be required to deliver this very large, post-due baby.  The doctor used what was known as “high forceps” and it was an agonizing physical experience after a long and arduous labor.

When Christopher Burton McLeod was finally delivered on January 27, 1983, he was whisked away to the intensive care nursery and I was wheeled down the hallway to the sterile recovery room.

~~~

I remember lying on the cold, hard table in the darkness shaking from head to toe, trying not to whimper from the trauma.  My body had been brutally injured by the difficult birth experience and I had not even been given the opportunity to hold my baby. I wondered if he would be all right and if there was something wrong with him.  No one seemed to be able to give me any information and so the pain was not only physical but also emotional. I laid in the dark and sobbed all alone. I just sobbed.

A small, Norwegian nurse came to my bedside; she had golden braids wrapped around her head with a light blue sweater covering her white nurse’s uniform.  She took my cold hand in her warm one and whispered, “I’ve heard you’ve had a difficult time, dear one.”

The tears were rolling down my cheeks as I weakly whispered in response, “I just want to know that my baby is o.k.”

“Oh, he will be just fine.  They are taking excellent care of him in the nursery and I am going to take care of you here,” she comforted with a thick, Scandinavian accent.  With that, she encouraged me to close my eyes and to rest while she lovingly and tenderly book care of my bruised and bleeding body.  She administered warm clothes to my trembling body and truly ministered in a physical way as I dealt with the aftermath of an indescribable labor.  She then rubbed my arms and legs with soothing and warm oil as she sang gently over me in a language that I had never before heard.

When this Norwegian healer had thoroughly cleaned and restored my body, she then fed me warm broth as she cooed what a beautiful baby I had just delivered and how he would accomplish great things with his life.  After praying a sweet, gentle prayer over me and my sweet boy, she smiled, patted my hand and walked away.

~~~

It was only a minute or two more before my husband Craig was allowed to come in the recovery room and be with me.  I told him all about her and could not control my sobs because of her precious care and concern toward me.

The next day, when I had been sent to the obstetrics floor, I asked the young nurse who was caring for me if I could send a thank you note to the woman who had so ministered to me in the recovery room the day before.  This perky little professional said that she would be glad to take it down on her break.  I wrote a note of deep gratitude that came from my heart and thanked the kind nurse deeply for her love and ministrations.

When my nurse returned to the floor after her break, she said, “Mrs. McLeod, I am sorry but no one works in the recovery room by that description. I even asked the head nurse who was assigned to the afternoon shift yesterday afternoon and she said that no one has ever worked here by that description.” With that, she regretfully handed my priceless note back to me.

~~~

Now, I will never be sure if the nurse in the recovery room was truly an angel or an employee of a very large hospital but what I do know for sure is that the Lord was close to me at a moment in life when I desperately needed His love and comfort.

When the Psalmist declared that “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,” His words of promise are spoken with tender care and great compassion.  He is reminding all of Christendom in the epochs yet to come that the Lord is lovingly attentive to those who are enduring unimaginable pain.  Whatever is the source of your pain today, you can be sure that the Lord is standing attentively beside you paying diligent attention to your shattered and bleeding heart.

If you have ever suffered a broken heart, a broken body or a broken life, I can comfort you with the certainty that you were never out of His care.  If, today, you are emotionally torn apart and wonder how you will make it through one more today, I want to comfort you with the surety that He is with you now.  God is close to you and has wrapped His arms of love around your life; He is hovering beside you just as my sweet little Norwegian nurse stayed with me.

Carol McLeod You can learn more about Carol at http://www.carolmcleodministries.com

 

Carol’s Story: A Sacred Conspiracy

Does God still speak to us today as he did in biblical times? Carol Stratton knows that he does. After the death of her infant granddaughter, God spoke a promise to her heart. Here’s Carol’s story…

On a blustery April day in 2015, my daughter Caitlin went to check on her sleeping baby and found little Juniper dead in her crib. She had been fine when Caitlin laid her down for a nap, but only a short time later she succumbed to SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Juniper was five months old.

The loss was devastating to Caitlin, her husband Matt and their four-year-old daughter Magnolia. But the grief of course didn’t stop there. Only if you’ve lost a child or grandchild can you know the emptiness it creates for an entire family. An empty car seat sitting in the garage and boxes of infant clothes ready for the Goodwill were sad reminders of Juniper’s short life. And spotting a five-month-old baby at the grocery brought renewed tears at a moment’s notice for any of us.

The months that followed were a time in which each of us worked through our grief. My grief encompassed not just the loss of my granddaughter, but the pain that my daughter was going through. I ached deeply for Caitlin, and wished I could somehow lift the burden of sorrow from her shoulders.

I turned to God for answers. I needed him to speak to me in the midst of this heartache. Maybe he couldn’t tell me why Juniper was taken from us, but I needed him to tell me something so I could go on trusting him.

~~~

In previous generations people used to talk about how God spoke to them. The Old Testament regularly has the Almighty speaking to Adam, Moses, Abraham and many others. And the New Testament has Jesus speaking to regular folks like you and me. But nowadays stories about our Heavenly Father weighing in on our daily lives are rare.

I’ve often wondered why.

Could it be that we don’t pay attention to that quiet voice? Possibly. I lean towards that theory. We lead noisy, busy lives. With our frantic bustling around to accomplish everything on our chore chart, vision board and bucket list, reflection rarely fits in with our schedule.

But God operates best in silence. In that quiet place of grief, God had my attention.

~~~

A few days before Christmas that same year, I awoke one morning with the strong impression that God had spoken to me in the night. Jumping out of bed and running around to my husband’s side, I announced to my half-awake spouse that we were going to have three grandchildren to add to the four we already had, and all within a year’s span. And as the words leaped out of my mouth I thought, “Where did that come from?”

It was a bold confession. Since the loss of Juniper, I didn’t imagine there would be any more grandchildren for a while. Nor did we bring up the subject with our three married children during family gatherings. It was simply too sensitive a topic. Surely, we’d keep this secret to ourselves.

Christmas Day, our oldest daughter Erica marched her three boys into our family room. They were all wearing orange shirts that read, “Party of six.” Busy cooking the dinner, I glanced over at the group. It took a few minutes to register that they were announcing their family of five would soon become six!

Ah ha, Baby number 1 is on its way!

We all jumped up and down and applauded. Then my husband John decided to let everyone in on what I’d shared with him a few days earlier. “Yep, kids, your mother predicts three grandkids in a year.”

I gulped. Please, no. Now I was really on the spot.

Little did I know that my daughter-in-law, Betsy, standing by me, had her own secret. Christmas Eve she’d shown positive on a pregnancy test. Two weeks later she and our son Seth told us they were having their first child.

Baby number 2. Hey, Lord, we’re on a roll!

But what about baby number three? Even though Caitlin wanted another child, she had to watch from the sidelines as her sister and sister-in-law donned maternity clothes for their new baby bumps. I wished my husband hadn’t made the pronouncement at Christmas. What if I hadn’t heard from the Lord correctly? I felt guilty knowing my youngest wondered if God had forgotten her.

Later that year on Father’s Day I dropped in on Caitlin to help her prepare for a cookout. Walking into the house, I discovered it looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in a month. Poking around the kitchen I found nothing but dirty dishes, no sumptuous dessert in the fridge, nothing brewing on the stove. Did she not remember they were hosting a barbecue that day?

My daughter Caitlin was stretched out on the living room couch looking unwell. I figured she was fighting allergies. Then I spied a basin sitting on the coffee table waiting for her stomach to erupt once again. With a woozy expression, she blurted out, “I’m pregnant,” and rushed to the nearest toilet.

There ya go, Baby number 3!

Time for rejoicing. Rejoicing three times. Three babies in nine months. Happy chaos now reigns when the three toddlers get together.

Today, I look at these three miracles and marvel at God’s loving-kindness in letting me in on his plans. In the midst of my grief, when I needed him to speak to me, he didn’t tell me the why of our loss, but he gave me a hope for our future.  He invited me into a sacred conspiracy, giving me a peek at what was to come, and he did what he promised to do.

headshopt turtleneck closeup Carol Stratton

When Half-gods Go…

sun behind broken window

 

When half-gods go, the gods arrive.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Give All to Love”

 

A recent news item alerted us to the fact that Kate Middleton might have ventured out in public with her dress on backwards. Thank heavens the media was working overtime to keep us apprised of the situation.

I have to wonder, though. Once my mother slipped her sandals onto the wrong feet and walked around the house for a time before realizing her error. I don’t remember reading about that in the newspapers.

Even worse, my grandmother showed up at work one morning without her skirt. She had remembered the blouse but left home without the rest of the outfit. There she stood in the middle of the office wearing only slip and panties from the waist down. The skirt wasn’t simply on backwards; it wasn’t there at all! And yet, where were the media reports of this 1940s wardrobe malfunction? Instead of the news wires humming with this sensational story, there was nothing. Bupkis. Crickets.

Ah, but of course. My grandmother was only a middle-aged widow with a teen-aged daughter at home and a son serving his country in the war. What is either noble or newsworthy about a life like that?

~~~

But, you see, I can’t help but notice that those royals across the pond generate a whole lot of hoopla just by doing what the rest of the world does every day: celebrating a birthday, getting married, having a baby, and wearing or not wearing clothes, as the case may be. One of them can barely sneeze without causing an international sensation.

Their every movement, real or otherwise, is carried out under the hungry eye of the world. We demand glimpses into the lives of people we believe so much greater than ourselves.

Actually, no; the truth is: we demand gods. Preferably, we’d each like to be a god (our greatest temptation since the Garden), though barring that—or perhaps in addition to that—we invest a great deal of time and effort into making them. After all, we have to have something to worship, don’t we?

~~~

God (the real and only one) had a reason for not wanting ancient Israel to have a king and it was this: He alone wanted to be their king. He was well aware of humankind’s starry-eyed tendency to worship royalty, and  He wanted the Israelites to keep their eyes on Him.

I find it interesting to note that when God relented and gave Israel a king, He insisted that any human ruler was never to be regarded as better than his fellow Israelites. He was to be considered their equal, no greater than even the lowest and most common (Duet 20: 17).

You can imagine how well the Israelites did with that one. Just look at us.

~~~

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about half-gods—as well he should have because the world is full of them…and they are all man-made. Royal blood is a human concept, not a genetic reality. The blood that flows through Everyman’s veins is the same stuff that pumps through the heart of any royal.

The half-gods aren’t limited to royalty, of course—there are oh-so-many half-gods populating the world! Movie stars, athletes, politicians, academicians, Nobel-prize winners, Pulitzer-prize winners, New York Times best-selling authors, and on and on and on, ad infinitum, as achievements catapult more and more mere mortals to the heights of Mount Olympus.

And of course our own selves if, because of our achievements, we feel inclined to consider ourselves better than everyone else.

~~~

There’s nothing inherently wrong with celebrating human achievement. Sure, those who work hard and develop their talents ought to receive a degree of recognition.

The problem comes when God is left out of the picture.

The problem comes when we say So-and-so is an amazing person without recognizing that So-and-so was created by an even more amazing God, and that without God, So-and-so would never have had any gifts and talents and abilities to begin with because So-and-so wouldn’t exist at all. Without God, we are all nothing.

The irony is that we take our God-given talents that were meant to glorify God and use them to make little gods of ourselves and other people.

And in so doing, we take the God who is everything and reduce Him to nothing.

~~~

I recently asked my 21-year-old daughter if she knew who Princess Diana was. She had to think a moment, which in itself was telling. Ask anyone of my generation and the answer would be: “Of course I know who Diana was! Who doesn’t?” None of us escaped the tsunami of publicity surrounding the woman who became famous for getting married.

Finally, my daughter, one generation removed, said simply, “Isn’t she the one who died?”

~~~

Let me take the words of the transcendentalist philosopher Emerson and put a Christian spin on them: “When half-gods go, God arrives.”

Only when the half-gods go, when they are put in their rightful place, can God reign supreme in our lives.

May God forgive us for allowing a whole world of mortal half-gods to take our eyes off Him. And may we someday be able to say with the psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth” (Psalm 73:25, NASB).

 

Photo courtesy of pxhere.com

A Red Diaper Baby Meets an Angel

Sometimes, people really are touched by an angel. Here’s my husband Bob’s story…

For the first forty years of my life I was an atheist, influenced by my childhood. My two sisters and I were what’s sometimes called “red diaper babies”—that is, our parents were Communist-leaning leftists. Even when the Cold War was at its height and  American patriotism ran high, my parents believed the Soviet Union could do no wrong. To Mom and Dad, capitalism was what was wrong with our country.

Although we lived a middle class lifestyle, our “church” was devoted to the coming of the Revolution, which would make all people equal in service to the State, which in turn would provide benevolently for all.  An elemental tenet of this church was that those who believed in God were superstitious and ignorant, and those God-believers, in essence, were enemies of the people.  Phrases like bourgeoisie, reactionary, and crypto-fascist were common in our household.

~~~

So how did I, a red diaper baby, come to be a Christian?  It was certainly not because of my own efforts.  It took an encounter with evil.

Over a matter of years, I watched as my former wife succumbed to a toxic mix of alcoholism and bi-polar disorder. Affected in bizarre and harmful ways, she changed from a caring and affectionate woman to a stranger possessed by forces beyond her control. Even her voice at times would change from her normal tone to a deep, almost baritone note. Eventually, as her personality collapsed, so did our marriage.

From this experience I came to realize that evil is a presence.  With that realization came the logical conclusion that if there is an “evil,” by what measure do we define it?  What makes evil, evil?

Evil is evil only if we have something “good” to compare it to. What then, I began to wonder, was the good? I resolved to find out. Though I’d been raised atheist, my upbringing had been within a Jewish cultural context since my father’s family was Jewish.  So I was far more familiar with synagogues (but only from attending Bar Mitvahs!) than I was with churches.  After considerable reflection, I decided to look up a rabbi.

~~~

I went to bed that night determined to start my rabbi quest the next day.  And then a funny thing happened—I met an angel. Not one of the cute little winged cherubs that flutter around the edges of greeting cards. This one meant business.

In a dream—though it’s probably best called a vision—I was visiting a friend in a kind of hospital.  I hadn’t seen him but once or twice since high school, and that was decades ago.  Although the building seemed like some sort of institution, there were no signs in my friend of sickness. He seemed perfectly well and happy. Too, there was a quietness to the place that I found disturbing. Today I recognize it as serenity. And yet I was frightened, afraid that “they” would hold me there against my will. I ran down corridors, down stairs, as “they” came after me—the usual nightmare scenario.  Finally, I reached the doorway to the great, grassy lawn.

And it was there that I was caught by a strong creature, whose features I could not make out.  He held me down.  In his right hand he held a large hypodermic.  His words were these: “You don’t understand.  You need this!”  And then the needle entered my arm.

I don’t recall waking immediately from the dream/nightmare/vision, but when morning arrived, I woke up with a singular thought that I could not shake: “Jesus Christ is Lord.”

~~~

What? Jesus Christ is Lord? How could that be?  Jesus was just one of those superstitious myths, someone who never really existed, a figment of the religious establishment. And yet, the thought not only failed to disappear as I awoke more clearly, but it began to seep into my consciousness as a reality.

Because of my recent divorce, I had purchased a small home that had been a parsonage of a church in the neighborhood.  Some days later, with the message of Christ’s reality now fixed in my heart, I sought out the pastor of that church for conversations. Many conversations.

I bought a Bible and began to read. Not a whole lot made sense to me until I opened the book one day to Jeremiah 31, and began reading at verse 31: “The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”

And I read further: “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.” That, I knew, was exactly what God had done for me. He had quite literally injected me with his truth, and with his own hand he had written his words on my mind and heart. I knew I was a Christian.

Not everything about my life and actions changed immediately, but over time, the intellectual acceptance of God’s truths became a transforming reality. As I began to read the Bible from cover to cover, I slowly became a different person, one who began to see life’s purposes and other people in a whole new way—a far better way. I joined a church, and in a Bible study group I met Ann. We have now been married for 26 years.

So after having been an atheist, a cynic and a red diaper baby, here I am—a child of God, thanks to his grace and mercy. And an angel armed with a really big hypodermic needle.

Ann BD 2011 1  Ann Tatlock and Bob Blank

Sometimes You Cry (And so does God)

rain_drops_ Something happened recently that made me wonder for the first time in my life whether God is cruel. Rather than a loving Father, was he actually more like Zeus, that tempestuous Greek god who sometimes entertained himself by hurling lightning bolts toward earth?

Our pastor’s teen-aged son Thomas had been on dialysis and in need of a kidney for some time. Finally, the perfect donor was found, a family friend. We all rejoiced, called it a miracle, an answer to prayer. Our pastor’s wife, Sarah, was enduring her own health crisis. She had just been through chemo and was facing radiation, but thankfully a break in the treatment afforded her the strength to be with their son when he received his new kidney.

The day of surgery was girded by prayer. By mid-afternoon, an email was sent out: All went very well. Both Thomas and donor were doing fine. When Thomas awoke, he whispered to his mother, “I’m so thankful it’s done.” And everywhere, you can be sure, God’s people rejoiced.

Early the next morning, the second message came. Thomas had undergone emergency surgery. The kidney had somehow developed blood clots and couldn’t be saved. The transplant had failed.

~~~

I stared at the flashing cursor on the screen, feeling stunned. And that’s when the thought came to me that maybe God is cruel. Had this been some sort of joke, a Zeus-like lightning bolt aimed at good people who had trusted him?

I was angry. I was scared. In that moment, and for the next few hours, I doubted the very foundation of my life. And I did something I hardly ever do: I cried.

~~~

Once upon a time, a ship got caught up in a deadly storm at sea. The storm lasted not just for a night, or for several days, but for two full weeks. Wind and rain pounded the ship so violently and relentlessly that finally, as one man later wrote, “All hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.”

That man was Luke, the author of the book of Acts. He was traveling with the Apostle Paul, who was a prisoner being taken to Rome. Finally, the ship ran aground near the island of Malta, and while the ship was lost, all the men survived. They were welcomed by the inhabitants of the island. A fire was built for them, and they were fed.

And then some wonderful things began to happen. Paul prayed over a sick man, a man of some prominence on Malta, and he became well. When the news spread, others who were sick came to Paul, and he prayed for them, and they too were healed. The islanders marveled as they witnessed the power of God. In turn, for three months, they generously provided for all of the needs of the shipwrecked crew (see Acts 27 & 28).

Once upon a time, a raging tempest left a ship’s crew devoid of all hope. But in spite of what they felt and how it looked, there was hope. Paul and Luke and the others were brought by that very storm to a place they never expected to be, a place of healing, and rejoicing, and hospitality and camaraderie. A place where good things happened.

~~~

A basic tenet of Christianity, a message every evangelical Christian has heard: God works all things together for good—all the storms, the shipwrecks, the trials and tragedies, the failed kidneys.

Something else to consider as well: Sometimes while he is working all things together for good, God cries.

Certainly he did when he was here on earth. You see, when I was angry about the failed surgery, I ranted at God, telling him he has no idea what it’s like to live in this world, to face the daily struggles, the heartache, the loss. But he stopped me with the words: Yes, I do. Don’t you know that by now?

 Jesus, God in the flesh, experienced everything we experience. While on earth, he was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He knew temptation, hunger, disappointment, loss. When one of his closest friends died, Jesus wept—even while he was walking toward the grave to raise Lazarus back to life. Even though he knew the ending, he still suffered the grief.

Even though he knows the ending to each of our stories, I believe he grieves with us today in all our sorrows, because we belong to him and he loves us.

~~~

When the surgery failed, our pastor wrote: “God is no less faithful today than he was yesterday. God is no less loving today than he was yesterday. Our faith is unshaken even if our understanding is reeling.”

God’s goodness is unlimited. It’s our understanding of his goodness that’s limited. We simply can’t always know what he is doing, what island the storm is taking us to for our own sake and for the sake of others. But God knows.

Just as Jesus told Peter, “You do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand” (John 13:7).

Until we do understand, we trust. And we believe in and hold on to God’s love, because it’s the one thing that sustains us through all our trials, and brings us to the good places we are meant to be.

 

Meeting God on the Horizon

Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?

~ Del Tackett, The Truth Project

Child's drawing When I was a child drawing nature scenes, I—like most children—harbored a strange perception when it came to the meeting of earth and sky. In truth, they didn’t meet at all. The sky was always a blue strip across the top of the page while the earth was a corresponding ribbon of green across the bottom.

In between was a whole lot of nothing. Just a huge patch of non-color in which hung the sun and into which the trees shot up their branches and the flowers their blooms. It was in this place of nothingness that the people made their homes and walked their dogs and had their picnics and lived their lives.

At that young age, I didn’t understand that there was something called a horizon, a place where the human eye perceives a meeting of sky and earth, a point at which blue touches green and all the gaps are closed and the picture is complete.

~~~

I wonder how many of us wander around in that place of non-color all our lives because we think that God’s heaven—with all of its accompanying mercy, goodness and joy—is up there while earth is down here and somehow, for some reason, “never the twain shall meet”?

How many of us live as though there is no horizon, no place where God’s Spirit leans down and touches the human soul?

~~~

I have lived that way myself. I have lived as though God only watches from a distance while I am tempted to despair, that he looks on in indifference while I have unmet needs, that he makes no move in my direction when I feel crushed by loneliness or feelings of isolation.

I’ve lived in this place of non-color and nothingness, though thankfully God allowed me only to pitch a tent in this desert rather than to build a permanent place of residence. He has helped me pull up stakes and has walked with me, pointing all the time toward the horizon, saying, “Meet me there.”

~~~

Heaven and earth do meet, and that’s the whole point of our existence. A maturing of faith, a growing in our knowledge of God, assures us that God is not up there but down here, right here with us, around us, in us, touching us, closing up all the empty spaces, making us complete.

In our despair, we find within our hearts a glowing nugget of hope that can’t be denied. In our need, we receive provision—an unexpected check, a loaf of bread, an anonymous gift. In our loneliness, we sense a love that wraps itself undeniably around our soul and, even in the darkest hour and sometimes even in spite of ourselves, never lets us go.

~~~

We have to allow God to be more than a pleasant thought or wishful thinking. He has to be more than an idea, a theology or a vague concept. We have to allow him to be what he is: Lord of creation, God of all mercy, a Father who through the death of his own Son Jesus tore open the curtain to the Holy of Holies and allowed us to enter into his presence.

We have to let his heaven touch our earth, every moment of every day. We have to live our lives on the horizon.

And we can. Because he himself brings us there. He created us to dwell with him there. On the horizon, he fills our lives with his love.

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The joy of Jesus must rush through all the corridors of your mind. The heart must know He has come to guide, comfort, and help in the hour of need. There must be no doubt, no question that God has chosen to come and commune with His servant….I want God’s total presence. I want to flow in His river of love.

                                                                                             ~ David Wilkerson*

*From David Wilkerson, Have You Felt Like Giving Up Lately (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1980), pp. 55, 56.