Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd's condition has been going up and down.  I was with him one day and he looked the best I've seen him in ages.  His color was good, his breathing was good, he seemed at peace and content.  Then two days later I was with him and he looked the worst I've seen him in ages.  Everything was the opposite.  He seemed utterly miserable.

I find this very emotional, and it breaks my heart to not be able to help him.  All I can do is love him, encourage him, pray for him, and trust for God's grace to be sufficient for him.  

There are a number of the carers recently that have felt stirred to pray afresh for healing.  We continue to trust in God's sovereignty - be that healing or heaven, but we're also asking for miracles.

I had a checkup with one of my doctors this week.  There is small, but continued improvement in my recovery.  I'm grateful to be headed in the right direction!  

I've been asked frequently "what are the keys, the things you have found helpful in making it through the long, unexpected journey you've been on?"  I think I've shared each of them on more than one occasion, but maybe it would be helpful to share them here all together.  I'm sure the list isn't complete - I'm still learning.

TRUST is probably the foundation stone of this journey for me.  From day one I've said to the Lord that I don't understand all that has happened, but I trust Him.  I know He's good.  I know He loves us.  I know He cares.  And I know I can trust Him.  He is absolutely, 100% trustworthy.  Trusting Him as we go through a hard time is so important as it helps release the grace we need to make it through.  The enemy wants us to blame God for the trials that come our way, but that's his lie.  The longer we wait for answers to our prayers, the more we must choose to trust Him.  I continually tell the Lord "I trust You."

"Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you."  Psalm 9:10

-  WORSHIP, GRATITUDE, THANKFULNESS are also foundation stones.  I don't even know how to convey how valuable they are.  In the heaviest, hardest moments when I tell the Lord I love Him and I thank Him for His goodness.....the load is immediately lightened.  And the more I worship Him, the lighter the load becomes.  Worship is a powerful tool that God has placed in our hands.  I don't think we'll ever completely understand what a mighty weapon God has given us for getting through our battles here on earth.

"All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name.  For you are great and do marvelous deeds, you alone are God."  Psalm 86:9-10

-  PRAYER is vital!  And by this, I mean talking to Him.  Pouring out my heart to Him.  Having conversations with Him.  Listening to Him speak back into my heart.  I've been alone for countless hours on this journey.  I talk to God like He's sitting in the room with me.  I tell Him my burdens.  I share my thoughts.  I let Him know my fears.  I know I can't bottle things up inside me, so I let it all pour out to my wonderful Father.  It lifts the weights off my heart as I share with Him.  He hears, He knows what I'm going through, and He cares.

"Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge."  Psalm 62:8

When I can't find words to express what's in my heart, I often pray in the Spirit, allowing Him to pray through me.

"The Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."  Romans 8:26-27

"Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests."  Ephesians 6:18

-  HOPE must be kept alive.  If we lose hope, we shrivel up and die.  I can't fake it, I can't pretend - so even in this I need God to help me.  When I call upon Him, He rekindles the dying wick of hope in my heart and helps it burn bright again.

"Why am I discouraged?  Why is my heart so sad?  I will put my hope in God!  I will praise Him again - my Savior and my God!"  Psalm 42:11

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

"We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.  In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.  May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you."  Psalm 33:20-22

-  FAITH is needed too.  My faith isn't always strong, but I ask Him to strengthen and increase my faith.  I've continually felt a freedom from Him to have faith for and believe for miracles.  I feel His encouragement to ask.  My faith, thankfully, is not based on me but on Him.

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

-  His WORD - spending time reading the Bible is vital.  The promises in His Word help build trust, faith, hope, and thankfulness in our hearts.  I've had a close relationship with the Lord since I was a child.  But I have pressed into Him at new levels, and dug deeper into His Word daily during this long journey.  I couldn't have made it without meditating on His words to us and applying them to my life.  Sometimes His Word seems to speak in whispers - other times it seems to be shouting.....but it definitely speaks to us!

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.  2 Timothy 3:16

-  GRACE is vital!  I couldn't, absolutely couldn't, make it without His sustaining grace!  I can't work it up.  I can't pretend it's there.  I can't fake it.  I have to lean into Him day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute and receive His sustaining grace.  He freely gives it.

"But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."  2 Corinthians 12:9

-  JOY unspeakable.  Something He, inexplicably, gives in the midst of the trials and suffering.  It sounds contradictory, but it's there.  It's not a bubbly, happy-go-lucky joy.  It's a deep rooted, profound, intense joy that comes straight from His heart to mine.  It feeds the very depths of my soul with His strength and goodness in a way that words can't describe.

"Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."  Nehemiah 8:10

-  CONTENTMENT is possible in the midst of trials and suffering.  I know - it sounds crazy!  But it's true.  It's not being content in the circumstances, but finding contentment in Him in the circumstances.  That's what makes the difference.  Would I like the circumstances to change?  Certainly!  But I'm so glad He is unchanging whatever our circumstances.  Because of Him we can be content in any situation.

"For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through Him who gives me strength."  Philippians 4:11-13

-  PEACE that passes understanding.  The kind of peace that we can't explain that the Lord gives takes the contentment to the depth of my soul.  It's a peace that helps me keep going.  It's a peace that calms my spirit when the storms are raging all around me.  It's a peace that allows me to sleep at night when things in my world seem out of control.  His wonderful, sweet peace.  How grateful I am for it!

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:7

I've probably forgotten something - but then His provision is unending!  He will never leave us alone when we're going through trials, testings, and suffering.  He is always by our side - even carrying us if we can't keep going on our own.  How unbelievably, wonderfully, incredibly faithful He is!

I heard someone share recently that when we break our arm and it heals - it's actually stronger than it was before.  I'm convinced that one of the purposes for suffering in our lives is that we'll come out stronger on the other side because of all that God has done in our lives during the time of suffering.  Only God can do that!  I'm believing for that in my life and in the lives of our family.  We've been through a long journey of suffering, but God can bring us out stronger on the other side of it!  

"We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. -  In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8:28, 37-39

All I can add to that is "amen!"

As I sometimes write about God speaking to me about things,  I've also been asked what the ways are that He has spoken to me.  While going through hard times and suffering, I have found it vital to hear from Him in personal ways.  All of these ways of Him speaking to me come from the place of prayer.  We must spend time in His presence in order to hear His voice.

-  He often speaks to me as I read the Word.  It seems like a verse will almost jump off the page to me.  Sometimes a verse I'm reading is a specific answer to something I've been asking the Lord about.  The Bible is the inspired Word of God so it's not unusual that He would speak to us through it.  This is probably the primary way He speaks to us.  He's given us lots of understanding and direction through His Word.

"All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."  2 Timothy 3:16

-  The Lord often speaks into my thoughts.  As I pray and meditate on the Word, I find Him guiding my thoughts to answers and solutions I need.  Obviously not every thought is from Him, so we must test our thoughts against His Word and His character - and seek confirmation that our thoughts are from Him.

"Commit your works unto the Lord, and your thoughts shall be established."  Proverbs 16:3

"The Lord is the one who shaped mountains, stirs up the winds, and reveals His thoughts to mankind."  Amos 4:13

-  A similar, but slightly different way He speaks is through a still, small voice into my heart.  Having Him speak into my mind, my thoughts is different than hearing the still, small voice of the Spirit speaking into my heart.  It is almost audible, but not quite.....and it's usually clear that it's His voice and not my own.  It's hard to describe, but I sense it's Him speaking.  It requires being still and listening.  And, again, it should be tested against His Word and His character.

"After the earthquakes a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice."  1 Kings 19:12

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."  John 10:27

-  He speaks to me through the counsel of others - friends, co-workers, family.  If I'm making important decisions, I often ask people to pray for me.  God uses them to confirm what I'm sensing, or to bring correction.

"Where no counsel is, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety."  Proverbs 11:14

-  God often speaks to me through His creation - rainbows, whales, birds, flowers, trees, etc.  I have to be still and listen, but I find He often uses creation to speak His ways to my heart.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.  They have no speech they use no words; no sound is heard from them.  Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."  Psalm 19:1-4

-  God speaks to me through music and worship.  Worship often brings my heart "to attention."  It captures my thoughts and emotions and directs my heart to Him.  I'm sure that's why David poured out His heart in worship.

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name."  Psalm 100:4

-  On a few occasions (I wish it were more!), God has spoken to me through a dream.  Usually it has been a confirmation or encouragement of something that has been on my heart.  I rarely remember my dreams, but when one is from the Lord I will wake up with it vividly in my mind.

"I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams."  Acts 2:17

-  God always speaks with His peace!  He can speak to me in all the other ways, but if I don't have peace - then I know to be very careful.  As a young woman I remember hearing teaching that we can have angels, visions, handwriting on the wall - all kinds of dramatic things, but if we don't have peace then we shouldn't move forward in anything.  The peace He gives is our complete confirmation of hearing His voice!

"The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:7

There are many, many other ways that God can speak - miracles, supernatural manifestations, through circumstances, through visions, through angels - the list is endless.  My list is just a small sample of how He speaks.

The incredibly wonderful thing is that He does speak to us!  In fact, He longs to speak to us.  The important thing is for us to quieten our hearts and listen.  Then He can choose how He wants to speak to each of us.  He'll speak to each of us differently because we're all different!  He knows how best to capture our attention so that we hear His voice.

I am so, so grateful that He speaks.  How much harder the journey would be if He didn't!  He's so good.