Floyd's week has been steady - which is a good thing. No big ups or downs. He has been peaceful and smiley.
Our All Nations ILT (International Leadership Team) is in Cape Town at the moment for the All Nations Global Leadership Summit which happens every two years.
The whole team had a sweet visit with Floyd this week. I went in early to have my own visit with him, and as soon as I told him they were coming - he started tearing up. So you can imagine the tears when we were actually all there together. They shared news and encouragement from around the world, sang quite a few songs, and had a very special time of prayer. I'm trusting that was a blessing to his heart.
I saw a friend this week that I haven't seen in a few weeks. She commented on how much stronger I looked. I can't tell you how good that was to hear! I'm thanking the Lord for helping me to rebuild strength. It is slowly, but steadily, coming!
But…I do get a bit of a shock every time I look in the mirror! I think "who is that?" I'm getting hair again (thankfully!), but it's curly and a different color from what my hair has always been. I don't really have much in the way of eyebrows or eyelashes - I lost those when I lost my hair. And I've lost a lot of weight. It somehow doesn't seem like "Sally" when I look in the mirror.
In the midst of that ‘shock’ I had a thought. Thank goodness God still recognizes me! I don't look different to Him. The Bible tells us that God looks at the heart, so thankfully my heart hasn't gone through drastic changes from chemo.
I was thinking about that as I had my quiet time, and I realized that actually my heart has changed. I've loved the Lord since I was a little girl, but through this hard unexpected journey - I've come to love Him more. His faithfulness, His care, His love, His grace, His holding my hand each step of the way, His carrying me when I've been so weak - how can you not love Him more and more and more?!
Someone was recently asking me a lot of questions about this journey, and as I answered I kept talking about how good God has been. Then, without thinking, I said "I have nothing to complain about." It just came out spontaneously - and in that instant I realized how true it is.
Has it been hard? Yes! Do I wish some things were different? Absolutely! But in the midst of all the hard things, God has been more than I could have asked for in meeting me, in meeting my needs. If I look back over my shoulder at the storms I've walked through, what I see is Jesus carrying me through them. He has helped me each step of the way!
The journey isn't over. I don't know what's still ahead. I'm still walking through some really difficult things. But I know God will continue to be right by my side. I don't have to fear what's ahead. I have anxious moments sometimes, but then I remember how faithful God has been - and He never changes! He'll help me with whatever is ahead.
"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height.....The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.' " 1 Samuel 16:7
When we think of Biblical characters and all they accomplished for the Lord, I think we tend to look at them through "rose colored glasses." We think of them as rugged/handsome/beautiful/powerful. They can take on mythical proportions in our minds. But, in reality, I think they were ordinary, every-day people like you and me. They had their weaknesses, their failings, but God saw their hearts and their potential. He saw in them who He had created them to be. And He used them for His glory!
That's what I want for Floyd and me. I hope we can bring Him glory in some way on this journey. I don't know if I'll ever look like "me" again, but I hope my heart will continue falling in love with Him! He's so good.
I have been reflecting on James 1:4 - "Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
I realize as I continue walking on this journey we've been on, that I need to persevere, to be patient, and to be careful not to miss the things God still has for me on this journey. It's so easy to want to speed things up! But when the journey comes to its conclusion, I want the work to be "mature and complete." I want all the lessons God has for me.
Sometimes my mind wanders to things in the past. I miss many of those things. And sometimes my mind wanders to what the future might look like. When either of these things happen, I feel the Spirit gently reminding me to be careful. I can't let my mind wander or move on prematurely. I need to stay in what God has for me right now, today. He will give me grace for today!
I'm asking Him, trusting Him, to help me persevere.
"Being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience." Colossians 1:11
"We know that suffering produces perseverance." Romans 5:3
"You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised." Hebrews 10:36
"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial." James 1:12
"Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand." Ephesians 6:11
As I’ve continued to read in James 1, verse 19 has captured my attention. "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry."
We read that verse and think immediately of our friendships and relationships. It's great advice - well worth heeding! If we listen carefully to what people say, and pause before responding, we can often save ourselves a lot of trouble!
But as I've been reading this passage, some different thoughts came to me. I thought of my conversations with the Lord! I'm usually pouring out my heart to Him - my thoughts, my needs, my cries for help, my prayer requests. He listens very patiently to me! And He answers me.
But I felt a nudge of the Spirit that I need to listen more in my conversations with God. I do listen, don't get me wrong - but I often have such a full heart that I talk a lot in my time with Him! I felt Him saying that He has more things to say to me, and I need to listen.
Quieting my heart from the tumult of all that is going on is challenging! I'm usually very anxious to share my heart. But "being quick to listen" kinda changes the whole equation!! If I listen more, God may alleviate the tumult before I even share it with Him.
God loves to speak to us, His children. He speaks into our minds. He speaks in that "still small voice" in our inner being. He speaks through verses we read. But we can miss what He wants to say if we're in a hurry, or if we do all the talking and we don't listen.
Listening is an art, a skill. And because it's a skill, it's something we can learn to do. After all, we have 2 ears and 1 mouth - so we should be able to listen more than we talk. :) But it requires practice.
I'm going to adjust my quiet times with the Lord, and start listening more. He has been so very faithful to teach me so many lessons on this long journey. I can't wait to hear what more He has to say. Stay tuned, and I'll share those lessons with you. I'm sure He has much to say to you, too, as you listen to His voice. Join me in "being quick to listen."
"Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." Jeremiah 33:3
"And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left." Isaiah 30:21
"My sheep hear my voice.....and they follow me." John 10:27
"And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, 'Speak, for your servant hears.' " 1 Samuel 3:10
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." Psalm 32:9
I could never have survived and navigated this unexpected journey we've been on if the Lord hadn't spoken into my heart so faithfully. He has truly counseled me and helped me. I'm looking forward to all that He still has to say.