Our Unexpected Journey

I've been asked to describe Floyd's current condition so people will know how to pray more specifically for Floyd.  I'll try.  If you walked into Floyd's room, you'd notice that he's lost lots of weight.  Being on a liquid diet does that.  He's very thin.  As time goes on, and after the infections he battled, he seems more and more frail.  

His hair is a beautiful white/gray, and his eyes are a clear, light blue.  We don't know why, but for some reason his skin has a lot less wrinkles.  It's quite amazing.  I wish I knew his secret!  His moustache has been shaved off.  He's had that for so many years, so he looks different without it.  And, of course, he's not wearing his glasses now.

He would probably be awake - although on "weak" days, he sleeps.  He would look at you, and follow your movements with his eyes - sometimes turning his head slightly.

He can't speak, but at times you get responses as you talk to him - with facial expressions (smiles, looking upset), with small noises, or with his eyes (like when he tears up). He often listens very attentively, but one of the hardest things is that you really don't know how much he understands.  Some days he seems to understand more than other days. And sometimes he is quite "distant." On these days, you're not sure if he's even aware that you are there.

His right side is immobile.  His left leg moves sometimes.  His left arm is very active, and very, very strong!!  I think all the energy from his whole body is channeled into that arm.  I'm sure he could win strength competitions.  He definitely expresses himself with his left arm at times. :)

Hopefully that gives a "feel" of how he is, and how he looks these days so it’s easier to understand.

The one thing that impacts me each time I'm with Floyd, is that he's in a state of suffering - on so many levels.  It is hard on my heart to see him like this.  I've been reflecting a lot on suffering in recent days.

"Let those who suffer according to God's will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator."  1 Peter 4:19

We learn several things from this verse:

-  some suffering is God's will/He allows it for His purposes

-  our choices/to "do right" are important

-  we can trust the Lord, and He's faithful

As I see Floyd's suffering (and my heart suffers too because of what he is going through), I try to respond in the right way, and I keep trusting for all of God's purposes to be fulfilled.  I absolutely know He's faithful!

I've found it's easier to bear the suffering if I keep my heart full of gratitude for God's goodness too.  God has been so, so good to me/us and our family on this journey.

George Matheson (1842-1906) was a Scottish author and preacher.  He was blind.  I recently read one of his prayers: "I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my 'thorn.' Teach me the glory of my cross; teach me the value of my 'thorn.' Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain.  Show me that my tears have made my rainbow."

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."  Romans 8:18

"We glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."  Romans 5:3,4

I'm asking God to help me be thankful for the "thorns," and to learn perseverance on this journey.  I know He's in control.  I know He has a plan.  And I know I can trust Him.

Someone also sent me this post by Anne Graham Lotz:

"Do you sometimes cry out, as I have, "God, don't You see my tears? Don't you see my broken heart"  God, never mind me, but how can You bear to see the agony of my loved one?  God, I know that You care.  I just don't understand why You don't intervene in this situation right now. Why don't You do something?"

Then to my heart, I seem to hear His still, small voice whispering, "Anne, trust Me.  I know what's best."  And I'm left to wonder why I think I know better than God what's best for me or my loved one."

Her father, Billy Graham, is 98 years old and going through a "long goodbye."  I assume she is referring to him.

I can so identify with her heart, her cry, her wondering.  I don't understand the waiting with Floyd's situation either.  Waiting is hard.  I have to keep coming back to the same thing.  God knows what's best.

In his book "Waiting" author Ben Patterson says there are 2 virtues required for successful waiting - humility and hope.  Humility teaches us that we exist for God's sake, not for our own - but for His purposes. Hope assures us that there is something worth waiting for.

I'm praying that I'll have the humility to bow to God's purposes on this journey - and the hope to keep looking to Him for what He has planned.

"With humility comes wisdom."  Proverbs 11:2

"Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life."  Proverbs 22:4

"But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." Romans 8:25

"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength."  Isaiah 40:31

"The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love."  Psalm 147:11

When my heart hurts over Floyd's situation, over what he goes through - I have to keep focused on trusting God.  I do trust Him.

I’ve been reading 2 Corinthians 4:17 this week too.  "For this slight momentary affliction (some versions say trouble) is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison."  I think I've mentioned before that when we're in the midst of the affliction/trouble, it certainly doesn't seem slight or momentary.  It seems huge!

But in the midst of our trouble - every word, every choice, every reaction or response has eternal value and importance, significance and meaning. God takes these "troubles" that seem like adversity in our lives and uses them for opportunities to impact us in an eternal way.  

He doesn't shelter us from the "winds of adversity" that we face - He uses the trials of life, because we live in a fallen world, to strengthen our faith. He builds character in us.  He takes us deeper in our trust.  He reaches out to us in greater intimacy in our walk with Him.  He works to bring good from the trials. (Romans 8:28)

"The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him."  Nahum 1:7

"The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."  Deuteronomy 31:8

"You have been a strong-place for those who could not help themselves and for those in need because of much trouble.  You have been a safe place from the storm."  Isaiah 25:4

I don't like trials.  I'd rather not go through the hard times.  But in the midst of the storm these last 9 months, He has been my "safe place" and my "stronghold."  Whatever the eternal significance of this time has been, He has proven so very faithful in taking me through "this slight momentary affliction."

" 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord."  Isaiah 55:8

If we only look at our life and the things we face from the world's perspective, we'll miss out on all God is doing in our lives.  It usually takes me a while to figure out God's thoughts and ways like Isaiah talked about.  I wish I could say otherwise, but sometimes I'm slow to "get it."

I remember my mother telling me when I was young that our prayers and God's answers are many times far apart - but we can absolutely trust His will.  He always answers, but many times not in the way we thought He would.

I've tried on this journey we've been on to see things from God's perspective.  I think I understand some things, but I certainly don't understand them all.  But I do know He has a plan, and I can absolutely trust Him as my mother said.

I'm convinced that God is "up to something" that I don't see and understand.  I "feel" it in my spirit, but I can't yet see it with my eyes.  All I/we can do is keep traveling on this path He has us on.

"Aunt" Corrie ten Boom said - "If God sends us on stony paths, He provides strong shoes."  I'm grateful for the "boots" He's given me on this journey.  I've needed them.

"If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you." Exodus 33:13

"Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths."  Psalm 25:4

I'm asking Him for grace to continue on this journey as He unveils His ways and plans.

Some years ago, Floyd wrote a paragraph for someone's book: "Everything of God flows out of the secret place. Everything good and lasting - everything that survives the ultimate test is born in the secret place.  We can "make it" to heaven with empty hands, but why do that? Why not go instead with crowns to lay at His feet?  If we give Him crowns, it will be because we met Jesus daily in the secret place."

I don't remember Floyd writing that.  Someone sent it to me recently.  It was very meaningful to me.  I think Floyd is living in a secret place with Jesus right now.  I know how much Floyd loves Jesus.  Just 2 weeks before Floyd got sick, he preached a message where he said that his one goal in this final season of his life was to center everything around Jesus.  Floyd can't communicate with us right now, but I think He and Jesus are in sweet fellowship.

"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him."  James 1:12

The crowns we wear in heaven must be won on earth.  I want to keep meeting with Jesus in that secret place!  I don't want to stand before Him some day, and regret not having spent more time with Him in the secret place.  

It's in that secret place that I'm finding grace and strength to persevere. He faithfully meets us!