At the End of the Day…A Good Indicator

A good indicator that I’m trying to get through each day on my own strength, power, wisdom and might is when I arrive home completely spent.  It’s an exhaustion that a good night’s sleep won’t remedy.  In fact sleep often evades me because my mind is constantly on the go.   I feel like I can’t turn it off. 

Along with other changes in recent months, I am not able to listen to my IPod and partake of good solid Christian teaching as much as I used to.  I desperately miss that.  It fed my heart, mind and soul.  Somehow I need to build that back into my daily life. 

I think I’ve let the busyness and demands of life…work, home and responsibilities crowd God out…or assign Him to a small place that I will get to when I have the time.  Ouch!  Not good…not good at all.

Like any relationship…my relationship with God grows when I spend time with Him and listen to Him and share what’s going on with me.  Trust Him with what I’m going through.  Trust His counsel and be quick to obey. 

It’s the time spent in prayer…or opening the Bible and reading with my ear inclined towards God. 

You know that feeling when you are in love…and you hang on every word that comes out of your loved one’s mouth.  You can’t wait to hear what they will say next.  You treasure and value their advice because their wisdom is combined with love for you. 

I feel like that’s what I’m missing with God.  And I want it back…starting tonight.  I want to hold on to Jesus and not let go. 

Beware of the Towhee

One of our favorite things in our yard is the birds…especially the Towhees.  In recent weeks, one little fellow has started attacking himself in the side view mirrors of our cars. 

Thankfully the damage is nothing more than a little Windex won’t take care of.  It’s quite entertaining as he is determined to make the bird in the mirror go away. 

For Better or For Worse

This probably falls under the “for worse” that Dave warned us about when we took our wedding vows. 

I think I’ve been to the doctors more in the last three months than I have in my entire life.  After having intense back pain for 2 months, my doctor ordered and MRI to find out what was causing sciatica that isn’t going away. 

The results came back pretty quickly.  Within a couple of days my doctor emailed me the diagnosis, “degenerative changes most noticeably at L4-5 where there is severe canal stenosis attributed to a 5 mm central disc bulge.  At the level of L5-S1, there is mild canal stenosis.  This explains your symptoms.”

I’m not too keen taking a lot of medicine and don’t want to be dependent upon pain killers.  I am grateful to have relief from pain through medicine…but want to keep it at the lowest level possible.  After all, I need to function in my daily life…working, driving, shopping, cleaning, attending church, Bible study, etc.

I’ve been amazed as I look back at the previousness of God in how He orchestrated circumstances in my life.  He knew that my work schedule would be more demanding and that I would need my rest on the weekends.  He knew that I would develop a condition in which it’s painful to sit for extended periods of time.  Thus God had me step aside from commitments that took a lot of time and required sitting. 

You never know when you are going through something how you will respond.  I’ve seen God give me the grace I never knew I could have to endure pain.

Until this happened, I don’t think I realized how much what happens to me effects my husband.  I guess that’s part of becoming one.  There are times I have a greater peace about what’s happening than Chris does. 

My husband Chris and I are asking for God to give us wisdom to determine what’s the best course of action to take and for wisdom for the doctor.  That she would be compassionate.  Of course we both know that God is well able to bring a miraculous healing to my back.  Should He choose to do so…we will praise Him.  In His sovereignty, should God choose not to heal me, we will praise Him.  I am learning that God is good all the time.  His goodness is not dependent upon Him making my life easy or perfect. 

Something I Can’t Ignore

On Thursday morning, I was heading out the front door for my early morning walk…only to be stopped in my tracks as I looked across the street. 

Directly in front of our home was a baby stroller, a baby bottle and something else.  At first I couldn’t tell if someone had dumped a big bag of trash or what it was. 

I immediately turned around walked into the living room and called out to my husband Chris who had fallen back asleep in his chair.  “Chris, wake up…I need you to come out here with me!”  Chris normally doesn’t wake up really quick…but I guess after being startled he jumped out of his chair and followed me out on the front porch.

I pointed across the street and asked, “What is that?  Is it a dead body or is that someone sleeping on the sidewalk?”

I don’t remember if Chris answered…but I head across the street to find out.

I approached the person cautiously.  I looked down on the bundle of blankets and saw a woman’s brown hair.  I couldn’t tell if there was a baby bundled up with her or not.  I didn’t know if she was dead or alive.

I said, “Sweetheart, what’s going on here?”

The person in the blanket stirred quickly and was looking up at me.  It was a middle aged woman, obviously homeless and she had slept on the street overnight.  When I asked her again what was going on she said that her husband had punched her in the face and she had left home.  I asked her when that had happened and she said it was over a year ago and since then she has been living out of her car. 

What do you say to that?  I don’t remember what I said, but she kept on talking.

She went on to tell me that she lives in her car and usually parks her car on a street behind Home Depot.  But there was the crazy guy named Curt whom she was hanging out with.  Now he was talking about torturing her and killing her and she was frightened. 

As she was talking I was trying to access her and the situation and what I should do.  Part of me thought I should go inside and call the police. 

Instead I went inside to get her something to eat and drink brought it out to her.  When I gave her the food I asked her what her name was.  She responded, “My name is Sue.”

“Sue, I’ve to got go, but before I leave let me pray for you.”  So I held Sue’s hand and I prayed for her.  While I was praying she asked me to pray for Curt too.  When I finished Sue thanked me for the breakfast and prayer. 

I then went on my walk and saw Sue get up and head down the street wrapped in her blanket.

The next morning I found a container and a magazine sitting on the lamppost by our walkway.  In the container was a note from homeless Sue in which she thanked me again and asked me to pray her children and herself.  Sue said that another neighbor, whom she had encountered while he walked his dog, came and jump started her car so she could drive. 

Like most folks these days…the reality of homelessness is something that I see every day.  Be it a person sleeping at a bus stop or someone asking for money outside a store.  Sometimes I’ll buy them something to eat.  More often than not won’t give money because I don’t want them using it for alcohol or drugs. 

While I can drive by the person pushing a shopping cart down the street or the person sleeping at a bus stop…I couldn’t walk by or drive by what I encountered on Thursday morning.

While I was talking with Sue…a number of our neighbors drove by and didn’t bother to slow down.  If for no other reason than concern for the neighborhood, I would think they would stop to see what was happening.  That bothered me that my neighbors didn’t stop…it really bothered me. 

I don’t know if what all Sue said was true or real, but I do know that I couldn’t just pass her by.  I couldn’t pretend like I didn’t see her.  She must feel invisible some days as people do everything they can to avoid eye contact…for fear they may have to get involved.

What is my Isaac?

This week I’ve been getting back into my normal weekly routine following the Christmas and New Year holidays.  As soon as I return from my morning walk, I turn on the radio to listen to Chuck Swindoll’s Insight for Living as I get ready for work.  His current message is about Abraham and his obedience to God’s command to sacrifice his son Isaac?  Chuck went on to ask, “What is your Isaac that God may require of you?”

I started thinking…what is my Isaac?  What would God require of me to lay down, be willing to sacrifice, in obedience to His command?  Like Abraham, would I be quick to obey?

Is my Isaac my husband Chris?
Our home?
Is it my job?
My health?
Is it a hope or a dream?
Our finances?
Is it the approval and acceptance of man?

Each year it seems like God has taught me to loosen my grip on things and even people.  To hold loosely and be ready to say, “Thy will be done.”  Last year and in recent months, it feels as though God has been deconstructing me by removing people and things that I love from my life.  Testing me to see if I love Him more than the gifts He has given me.  Obviously the test is for me because God already knows how I will respond.

Even if I do okay on one test…I can’t afford to be complacent.  I must realize that there will other tests and trials.  By the grace of God…some I will pass.  However, there will be some tests that will reveal things within my character, attitude or the thoughts and intentions of my heart that are sinful and ugly and need to be dealt with.  Tests may reveal that I’ve let something creep in and take the place of God being first in my life.  How will I respond to those test results? 

One thing that comes to mind is that I don’t need to fear those tests that God may allow in my life.  I can trust Him because He is good all the time.  Unlike me, God is not sinful and His motivation and purpose is always good and come from a pure, undefiled heart.

So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” – Luke 10:27

Where ever you go, there you are

This morning I had a divine appointment but I didn’t know it.  I thought that our kitties were just hungry and waking me up early on New Year’s morning so they could be fed.  Indeed they were hungry…but the Holy Spirit had a message that I needed to read. 

I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or bad thing…but once I’m up…I’m up.  Very seldom can I go back to sleep after I get up.  So after feeding Rudy and Junior, I started a pot of coffee brewing and headed into the office to check the computer.  While my email was updating I looked at one of the websites that I check regularly, Joshua’s blog A Warrior’s Heart

Though Joshua is young, I find that both he and his sister Rachel have maturity that I wish I had when I was their ages.  Rachel also has a blog that I frequent regularly…Hope Journey.  You might be thinking what in the world can a 51 year old woman learn from someone 30 years younger?  Actually quite a lot.  Both Joshua and Rachel share from their heart.  They are well grounded in the Word of God and love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength.  

Today Joshua posted “Living Radically for Christ Pt. 5”, in which he talks about believers counting the cost of following Christ.  One of those costs is that the moment we become a believer in Jesus Christ, we are engaged in a lifelong battle against a powerful foe who HATES US.  Satan hates God and he hates man who is created in God imagine.  He is a liar, deceiver, destroyer and a murderer. 

We engaged in that battle every day…whether we know it or not.  The enemy goes around like a roaring lion…seeking whom he may devour.  He wants to have you and me for lunch.  Think about a hungry lion prowling around just waiting for the opportunity to devour his prey.  In the Greek the word devour means to “drink down, swallow down, devour, swallow up, and destroy.”  Think about that lion as he tears into the flesh of his victim.  Those powerful jaws clamping down and tearing into the flesh of that living creature and bring about an excruciating, certain death.  It’s probably not a death that comes swiftly.  That’s what Satan, our enemy, wants to do to believers. 

I read God’s word and know that truth.  I believe it and I know it from experience.  Yet how easily I believe the destroyer’s lies. 

Christ won the victory over Satan on the cross.  On the cross, Jesus Christ paid our sin debt in full.  On the cross both sin and death were defeated.  God gave witness to that victory three days later when Jesus Christ rose physically from the dead.  Praise God…that He has given us His Word.  In the Bible, God tells us how we can be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might.  How we can put on the full armor of God. 

Recently, God reprimanded me saying, “Susan, walk as you pray.” 

One of my daily prayers is that I will take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  That will put on the full armor of God: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, that my feet will be shod with the gospel of peace, that I will put on the helmet of salvation, take up the shield of faith, wield the Sword of the Spirit and be praying always. 

Though it’s a New Year…it’s the same me that was there yesterday.  One, who when I walk in my own wisdom and strength, I so easily fall prey to the enemy.  No matter where I go, there I am.

I do believe that I need to be mindful how weak I am in my own strength and wisdom.  Instead I need to submit myself to God, resist the devil so that he will flee from me. 

Thank You Lord for the reminder that it’s a daily battle that’s fought minute by minute…and I can’t afford to be lazy.  The cost is too great.  Thank you Joshua for speaking the truth from God’s Word.

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. – James 4:7

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— Ephesians 6:10-18