Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has struggled with "chestiness" and phlegm this week.  We have seen improvement as we have prayed.  When I was with him a couple days ago, I could even hear his breathing improve while I was there praying with him.  Thank you Lord! 

Floyd has had some good visits with the carers this week.  One in particular had a very special prayer time with him.  Floyd seemed "engaged" in the prayer, and was smiling in agreement with what was being prayed.  We continue to pray for God's breakthrough for him.

This week I have had a number of medical appointments.  I am praying for good reports from them.

As I let hope be renewed in my heart, and as I start to pray afresh for a breakthrough - I've begun to think about faith.  I decided I wanted to lay aside everything I know about it, everything I think I understand or don't understand.......and just look at it with fresh eyes.

Our friend Mark Buckley in Phoenix writes a column every once in a while.  Shortly after I started thinking about faith, he shared this:  "Faith is not the absence of fear, or a clear understanding of how things will work out.  Faith is an inner assurance that God will give us grace that will lead to victory over the challenges we face."

When I read that, everything in me said "yes! that's how I see it."  Thank you Mark for stating it so clearly.

  • "Faith is not the absence of fear."  I have days when I am totally at peace, and days when fear could overwhelm me if I didn't take control over it.  When a new storm blows into our lives - and we've had a lot of storms through all these months - I have to battle to keep fear from taking over.
  • "Faith is not a clear understanding of how things will work out."  Oh how I wish I knew how things will work out!  I long for that many times.  But there is no certainty, no clear understanding of what's ahead.
  • "Faith is an inner assurance that God will give us grace."  If there wasn't that assurance, that deep conviction - then I'd not be able to make it.  I can't make it on my own!  But God gives daily, hourly, moment by moment grace to persevere.
  • "Faith will lead us to victory over the challenges we face" because of who God is.  God, our Rock, our Sustainer, our Savior, our Strength, the source of all we need......God will lead us to victory!  I'm not even sure what victory means in our situation......but I know He's leading me there.

He has helped me keep on the path of this journey because He has a plan, a purpose, a "victory" ahead for us.  It may simply be heaven!  But He's helping me, Floyd, and our family keep going towards His victory for us.

There are days when it feels like my heart is full of faith, and days when it feels less than a thimble full.  But it doesn't matter, if I simply keep my eyes on Him, trust Him, and hold tightly to His loving hand His faith is sufficient to get me through. 

"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see."  Hebrews 11:1

"For we live by faith, not by sight."  2 Corinthians 5:7

"You know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."  James 1:3

"Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly see Him."  Hebrews 11:6

I'm not an expert on faith, and I'm certainly not a theologian.  But I've come to the conclusion that if I lack faith, I lack trust.  And the more I trust, the more my faith rises.  It's as simple and as complicated as that!

A few months ago I was meditating on the scripture in Isaiah 63:9  "In all their distress He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them.  In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old." 

It really impacted my heart.  Wow - in our distress, He is distressed......with us and for us.  

I don't know about you, but that really touches my heart to know that God is distressed by the things that hurt our hearts.  Other translations say He is "afflicted" with us, that He "suffers" with us.  God's heart is moved by what we go through.  He's not a stoic bystander......He's right in there hurting, crying, and feeling the pain with us.

And then it goes on to say that He carries us and saves us.  I know He has carried me through distress a number of times.  He has been so faithful.

I was doing some of my daily prayer walking on our deck this week.  It's lovely that we are in summer now, and I can do that.  I love being outside.  As I was praying and worshipping, I became overwhelmed thinking how powerful worship is.  I began to think of all the amazing gifts it brings into our life!

  1. Worship releases joy.  It's almost like God pushes a button, and it starts flowing into my heart as I praise Him.  Joy unspeakable floods my heart!
  2. Worship brings strength.  So many times when I've felt weary, and I start thanking and praising Him because He gives strength......then, before I know it, I sense renewed strength and energy to go about my day.
  3. Worship lifts off burdens.  As I prayerfully "cast" my burdens on Him and thank Him for carrying them for me, I can feel the weights being lifted off.  A new "lightness" comes into my spirit.  On the heaviest of my days, worship has definitely parted the clouds and allowed the sunshine of God's presence to shine through.
  4. Worship draws me close to the Father's heart.  As I speak and sing out praise to Him, often quoting what the Word says, I feel His heart of love, care, and tender mercy for me.  I know His heart is moved by what I'm going through, and that He cares for me.
  5. Worship helps keep my focus on Him, not on my problems.  If I focus on my problems, they get bigger and heavier.  As I focus on Him, I see His power and greatness, and know He can help me with every problem, every need, every care.  It changes everything when I keep my eyes on Him!
  6. And, of course, worship is warfare!  I think nothing sends the enemy running faster than us praising and glorifying the Lord!  He hates it.  One of the things I've learned on this long journey is that when I'm discouraged, when the enemy is trying to get me down.....the first thing I need to do is worship.  Granted, it's not always easy - but it's so important.  We "win" with thankfulness, gratitude and praise.  The enemy flees.

I often start by just thanking God for the good things in my life in the past few days.  Basic, simple, every day things - and then I move on to thanking God for who He is.  Discouragement has to flee in an atmosphere of praise.  Praise drives the enemy far away!

We can worship God in any way we want - praying, singing, dancing.  We can be creative!  God loves it all.

"Sing to God, everyone and everything!  Get out His salvation news every day!  Publish His glory among the godless nations, His wonders to all races and religions.  And why?  Because God is great - well worth praising!  No god or goddess comes close in honor.  All the popular gods are stuff and nonsense, but God made the cosmos!  Splendor and majesty flow out of Him, strength and joy fill His place.  Shout Bravo! to God, families of the peoples, in awe of the Glory, in awe of the Strength: Bravo!  Shout Bravo! to His famous Name, lift high an offering and enter His presence!  God is serious business, take Him seriously; He's put the earth in place and it's not moving.  So let heaven rejoice, let earth be jubilant, and pass the word among the nations, 'God reigns!' "  1 Chronicles 16:23-31

I'm so grateful for the gift of worship and the power that it has.  We're worshipping Him - but in the process He raises us up and ministers to our needs.  Only our awesome God can do that!