Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has had some good days this week.  He's had some lovely visits with the Care Team, and his condition continues to be steady.  After all the ups and downs he's had, this is such a wonderful blessing and answer to prayer.  But he has also had some days where he has seemed very tired and a bit down.  I can't even begin to imagine how hard it's been for him to endure all these months.  We continue to pray for fresh grace and courage for him!

I've sensed the Lord with me and answering prayers for me this week too.  The last few weeks have been so, so hard.  I feel like I've scraped the bottom of the bottom physically.  Some of this, I think, is from the accumulated stress of the last 18 months, and then also from all I've been through in recent months with treatment - chemo, surgery, complications, another surgery, new chemo.  My body has just worn out. 

I had an appointment with my oncologist a few days ago.  As we talked, we agreed that I need to stop all treatment and work on rebuilding my health and strength.  I'm not strong enough at the moment to endure any more of these harsh treatments.  Once we made this decision - which is what I had felt the Lord had already been saying to me - I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of me.  I've been filled with peace.  So I'm starting the process of rebuilding! 

As I've been thinking and praying through my decisions, someone sent me a song by Juanita du Plessis called "Four Days Late."  It’s about the story or Lazarus being raised from the dead.

So very many have prayed with and for us on this journey we're on, I’m so grateful!  And I know some have wondered why we haven't seen answers to some of those prayers.  I can understand.  There have been times when I've asked the Lord what He's up to?  Why have some prayers been answered and not others?  Why the long wait? 

On this journey, and especially in recent days when my own strength has gone to rock bottom, I've had lots of long talks with the Lord.  The bottom line from all this is that my complete and absolute trust in Him has amazingly grown deeper.  I have felt His sweet assurance that He is at work.  I don't have His perspective to see everything, but He has not for one second abandoned us.  He is working fervently on our behalf, and there are things yet to be seen of what He is doing.

As I listened to this song, I realized afresh that "He's NEVER late."  We may think so, but He's not!!!  He has plans and purposes that we can't see.  But we can keep asking and trusting!!  The enemy thinks he wins if we don't get our answers.......but God wins when we keep affirming our 100% trust in Him.  As we do that, our fellowship with Him grows deeper and deeper.....and oh how He longs for that deeper fellowship with us.  His Father heart opens His arms wide to us!  He uses the waiting time to love us, teach us, and draw us to Himself.  He's never in a hurry, but He's always on time!

I don't know what's ahead.  I've gone lower than I thought I could go physically in recent weeks, but He has constantly been by my side.  He has held my hand.  He has whispered encouragement.  He has reminded me that He is working on my behalf in ways I can't see.  My weakness has been very clear.......but His faithfulness has been even clearer.  

"These trials will show that your faith is genuine.  It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold - though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.  So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed."  I Peter 1:7

"God, your name is eternal; God, you'll never be out-of-date."  Psalm 135:13  The Message

" 'For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "  Jeremiah 29:11

"Do not fret......trust in the Lord.....take delight in the Lord.....commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this.....Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him."  Psalm 37:1-7

"I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken."  Psalm 16:8

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  Hebrews 11:1

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him."  Romans 8:28

We can keep trusting Him - pressing in in the place of prayer.  "God has perfect timing; never early, never late.  It takes a little patience, and it takes a lot of faith, but it's worth the wait."

I look forward to His perfect timing in things He has planned for us on this journey.  I don't know all the answers He has, but I trust Him.

While I’ve been working on gaining strength and energy, and rebuilding my health (even while I'm battling some of the lingering side effects of the recent chemo), my mind is thinking of many things I want to do, but my body is saying not yet. :)  

When I feel frustrated about that, the Lord has shown me something that has been very helpful… to make a gratitude list on the hard days.  I tell Him what I'm thankful for.  I often do it in my mind if I'm too weak to speak it out or write it down.  I start with simple, every day things:

- thank you Lord that I'm alive and breathing

- thank you for my husband of 50 years

- thank you for my children, my son-in-law, my grandkids, my extended family

- thank you for the dear friends who are helping to care for me while I'm sick

- thank you for our home

You get the idea!  The list goes on and on!  It doesn't have to be big things - the Lord loves it when we express our gratitude for the simple, every day things!  They all come from His loving hand.

The communication of our gratitude to Him is wonderful!  But the amazing thing that happens when we do that is that it releases joy!!  The simple act of expressing thankfulness triggers a flow of joy from His heart back to us.  I was amazed on days when I was too weak to hardly move off the bed......as I expressed my gratitude to Him, the room filled with His presence and joy.  Such a gift - especially in my weakness!  I felt encouraged and lifted by His joy.

"In every thing give thanks."  1 Thessalonians 5:18

"Through Him let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise."  Hebrews 13:15

"Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!"  Nehemiah 8:10

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul."  Psalm 94:19

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him."  Romans 15:13

"Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."  Isaiah 35:10b

In our hardest moments, there is still so very much to be thankful for. And I love how He turns our thanks to Him into joy back to our hearts!  What a wonderful God He is!