Our Unexpected Journey

Floyd has been quiet, peaceful, but attentive this week.  He has communicated with his hand about a few things on four occasions.  I am encouraged by that.

I spent Christmas morning with Floyd.  He was asleep when I got there, but I woke him up by playing Christmas carols.  I read the Christmas story to him, and I shared some special family moments from various Christmases through the years.  He responded with sweet emotion to a number of the memories.  It was a sweet morning.

Over this Christmas time I've been reflecting on Isaiah 9:8,  "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given".  

As I've thought of all we've gone through this year, I couldn't help but think of how suffering, pain, and the trials of life bring a certain amount of "darkness" with them.  The heaviness from that darkness can feel overwhelming.  But that's why Jesus came - to bring "light" into any darkness in our lives.  He, the "babe born in the manger" brought true light!  Whatever darkness we face, God in the flesh knows just what that feels like, and He came to bring us light. That is staggeringly beautiful!

Christmas, His coming, is all about light!  Wherever we look in the Word, we find that Christmas is about light, because Jesus is the Light of the world! 

"In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  John 1:4, 5

"Jesus addressed them: 'I am the world's Light.  No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness.  I provide plenty of light to live in.' " John 8:12

Our suffering, our trials - no matter how dark our situation is, Jesus is the light that comes to help us!  What sweet joy that brings to my heart. Fresh hope rises in me.  His light lifts the darkness from any suffering. His coming brings victory to us.  Thank you Father for sending Jesus, the Light of the world!

Hope and faith go hand in hand.  As we hope for something, and we keep our eyes on Him - it's so important for faith to rise in our hearts. True faith is not just believing that God can, but it's trusting that He will.

When we look at something that is impossible that we're praying for, the enemy loves to impress upon us how impossible it is!  He loves to get us to focus on that one aspect.  God wants us to keep our focus on Him.

Faith is living in the middle of a miracle - right on the edge, facing disaster, and waiting for God to come through.  We look to Him in the middle of whatever the hard thing is.  Faith only becomes faith when it's tested!  And faith never demands it's own timing.  Faith hopes, prays, trusts, and leaves the details to God.

A friend of mine read a devotional about faith by Andrew Murray.  He summarized the points for me and I've been meditating on them:

1.  Faith claims every promise that God has made.

2.  Faith counts upon God to do all He has promised.

3.  Faith trusts in the power of God to fulfill His promises.

4.  Faith yields itself to obey God's commands because of the link between God's commands and His promises.

5.  Faith waits on God for the fulfillment of His promises.

6.  Faith rests in the hope of what God will do.

7.  Faith abides in the presence of God while waiting and resting.

I love all those points, and found it helpful to talk and pray them through with the Lord!

Through the years, I've trusted God for a number of "impossible" things. We don't need faith unless we're praying for something that is outside the realm of what we can accomplish.  I've seen God do so many things that were impossible.  I know He can do them.  "When God is going to do something wonderful, He begins with a difficulty.  If it is going to be something very wonderful, He begins with an impossibility." 

I'm still praying for a breakthrough for Floyd.  While I believe for the impossible, I also tell the Lord I trust Him.  I know I can't demand the outcome - I can only ask.  My trust in Him won't be shaken if He has another plan!  Faith puts God between us and (impossible) circumstances. That's where I am - looking to God as I pray for the miracle.

"So that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power."  1 Corinthians 2:5

"Then Jesus said, 'Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?' "  John 11:40

"The testing of your faith produces perseverance."  James 1:3

I believe!  I look to Him.  I trust Him.

As the new year is approaching, I can't help but look back to this time last year.  Wow - so much has changed.  It seems like pretty much everything in my life has been turned upside down this past year.  The one "constant" is the Lord.  I'm so grateful for His grace, strength, and help.

I realize more and more that in hard times, in trials, in seasons of suffering - there is no middle ground!  We have to press into Him.  If we don't we'll either collapse under the pressure of it all, or we'll harden our hearts towards Him because of the hard time.

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

These are the "building blocks" of our spiritual walk.  I might stack them differently :) but I certainly need them all!  And it seems like a key ingredient is pressing "in," persevering, in whatever comes our way.

The purpose of our suffering is to produce hope - not to diminish it or destroy it!  I've found that really important to remember as I wait.  I don't want my hope to weaken as time goes on.  In fact the "hope" for answers, for change is part of what keeps me going.

Our own thoughts, the comments of others, all the uncertainties and "what ifs" can so easily drain hope.  It's crucial to keep my eyes, my hope on Him, and Him alone.

"For you are my hope, O Lord God."  Psalm 71:5

I read this quote - "the ladder of hope has nothing to stand on here below; it is held up from above."  God is holding it secure!  Without God, there is no hope.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."  Romans 15:13

"Hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through His Holy Spirit which has been given to us."  Romans 5:5

I don't know what the year ahead holds in store.  I would never have dreamed of what this last year has had for us.  I hold onto Him, the "constant" that is solid and secure.

One of the times I was doing my daily walking and praying this week, I was thanking the Lord for His goodness, His help, His strength, His grace - my heart was filled with gratitude and praise.

Then all of the sudden, my mind started thinking about all the "what ifs" of my future.  And, as if someone pulled a switch, I could feel anxiety growing in my heart.

Thankfully I realized what was happening and caught myself!  How easy it was to let fear, worry, and anxiety come into my heart.  All I had to do was allow my mind to wonder about things to come.

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in you."  Isaiah 26:3

I have to keep my mind on Him.  God guarantees grace for everything but worry!  When I worry, I take myself out of His hands.  If I am careful to keep my thoughts on God, on His goodness, on His steadfastness - I won't have time to worry or be anxious.

"Be anxious for nothing, but.......let your requests be made known to God."  Philippians 4:6

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?"  Luke 12:25

"The beginning of anxiety and worry is the end of faith - and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety."  I don't know who said that - I had the quote in my notes, but it's sure true.  When we put our worries and cares in God's hands, He puts His peace in our hearts.  It's a peace that can only come from Him.

"Do not worry about tomorrow - each day has enough trouble of its own."  Matthew 6:34

One of the best things about the future is that it only comes one day at a time!  We don't have to be afraid of tomorrow, because God is already there. And God doesn't ask us to carry tomorrow's burdens with today's grace. He gives us fresh, abundant grace each day.

I'm so grateful for that daily grace.  I would have never survived this year without it.  His grace is truly "sufficient!"  2 Corinthians 12:9  

If God has taken care of us today, He'll certainly take care of us tomorrow.  How faithful He is!

I heard someone say - "Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He's going to be up all night anyway!"  Some nights when I'm having a hard time getting to sleep, and I can hear thoughts echoing through my mind - I, one by one, give those thoughts to Him.  I'm grateful He's going to be awake.

Every hour, every minute, of every day - His grace is there.  We can give all our cares to Him.  Thank you Lord!