Our Unexpected Journey

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The last couple days have been good ones for Floyd, and he has had some visits from members of the Care Team that he hasn't seen for a while.  That always seems to touch his heart.  

My energy levels go up and down.  I do my best to "pace" myself, but sometimes I have a really busy day and then I need recovery time.  My brain always thinks I can do more than my body can do. :)  

Sometimes when people see me - knowing all that I am going through - they are surprised that I seem joyful, happy.  I think they expect me to be "a basket case."  And I could be!  There have been so many "trials" thrown into the unexpected journey of the last 3 years.  But one of the sweet things I've discovered  - is that it's possible to be content in the midst of all the difficulties!  

There's no explanation for that except that it's God's goodness and mercy to me!!  I can't fake it.  I can't pretend to be content.  But God helps me carry the burdens in such a sweet way that I truly can experience contentment on the hard journey.  I've learned that it's okay to be happy, to be content in the midst of hard times.  In fact - it's more than "okay."  I think it's God's way of helping us get through the ups and downs of life.

It's definitely been a learning process.  I've had a wide variety of situations where I've needed to apply this.  And if I ever think I've "achieved" in this area....well, then something new seems to come along to help me grow some more.

In high school I was voted "friendliest girl."  One of the things my classmates said they liked about me was my smile.  I decided early on that whatever came my way in life, I wanted to keep smiling.  God has helped me do that - even on this very unexpected journey!

Keeping my gaze on Him, pouring out my heart to Him, reminding myself of His promises, worshipping Him for His faithfulness - all help me be content even on hard days.  His gentle, tender spirit of peace feels like a blanket covering me as I go through the days.

"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."  Philippians 4:12

"Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!"  Psalm 144:15

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.  The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."  Psalm 46:1-3,7

"That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in  hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."   2 Corinthians 12:10

"A heart at peace gives life to the body."  Proverbs 14:30

The mandate we were given in the Word to be content in every situation is possible - with God's very present help and grace! 

I was so aware over the Easter weekend, that it's because of what He has done for us through His death and resurrection that we can walk in the contentment I've written about.  I am so very grateful for the price He has paid, and the provision He has given us.

I had a sweet Easter weekend.  I had a special time of taking communion together with Floyd.  I recounted what God has done for us on the cross, sang some old songs, and prayed for us and our family.   I'm carrying a number of things on my heart right now, I chose to use the weekend to press into Him and receive fresh grace for the journey.  My heart was sad, but grateful, for the suffering Jesus walked through on our behalf on Good Friday.  It rained here during the afternoon on Good Friday and it felt like holy tears over what Jesus had had to endure.

Then, I reflected on Silent Saturday of what the Easter weekend means - how powerful it is.  I thought about how despairing everyone around Jesus was on that day.  They'd witnessed His crucifixion, but they didn't know His resurrection was coming.  So much was happening in the spiritual realm on that day, but mankind was mourning - totally unaware of what was about to happen.  It truly was a "silent" day, an in-between day.  Not much is said about it in the Bible except that the guards were watching the tomb of Jesus.  And yet one of the most powerful days in human history was getting ready to take place.

And I rejoiced on Resurrection Sunday that He's alive!  He conquered death, sin, the grave - He won a mighty victory!  My heart sang in worship that He is risen.  The presence of the Lord was so real, so close as I contemplated all this.  I felt I could almost reach out and touch Him.

Someone sent me the picture I have used for this post.  I loved this depiction of the three days of Easter.  I felt I had journeyed through it during the weekend in my heart.

One of the things that the Lord spoke to me is that I need to keep my focus on Him and what He has done for me, what He has provided for me......not just on Easter weekend, but continually as I walk through the things that I'm dealing with right now.  It's easy to be distracted by the details and the cares of life, especially when I'm weary or feeling weak.  Whenever that happens, I need to take my thoughts and my emotions quickly back to Him.

I need to give Him every burden, every care, every need, every single thing that I don't know what to do about.  He is with me and aware of each of these things.  I need to trustingly cling to Him.  He is continually mindful of us.  He is always working on our behalf.

"Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you."  1 Peter 5:7

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."  Matthew 6:34

"Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."  Psalm 25:4,5

"Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.  Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge."  Psalm 73:23-26, 28

Through Good Friday, Silent Saturday, and Resurrection Sunday God has provided for our every need.  These three days did indeed change everything.  So much happened in just three short days.  Thank you Lord!  How awesome He is. 

As I reflected on Silent Saturday I thought about the times when it seems like God is silent.  No matter how much we pray, how many times we ask Him a question - it's just quiet.  No answers, no understanding, no direction on what to do.  I'm going through one of those times right now in regard to something I'm asking the Lord about.  I feel the Lord's closeness, I sense that He's with me, but there's silence in regard to what I'm lifting up to Him.

God was silent that day - all of heaven was silent.  But so much was happening.  God was preparing to invade history in one of the most powerful examples of His glory.  It was the dark and quiet before the dawning of His planned victory for mankind.

I've continued to reflect on all this during this week, and thought I'd share some of the things I'm learning.  Although I'm wanting (needing) answers to something specific, I'm aware that God's perspective may be so very different to mine:

 -  He may be working on things to happen or come together before He can show me the way.  I couldn't help but think of how Mary and Martha cried out to Jesus to come when Lazarus needed him.  He delayed.  He was silent - He didn't respond.  But he was preparing the way for a great miracle!

-  He may be wanting to teach me things to prepare me for the answers I need.  He's certainly teaching me more about perseverance!

-  He is most likely wanting me to press into Him more.  That is always a good thing!

-  He's probably getting my heart ready for whatever the answers will be.  I'm actually grateful for that.

-  It could be a matter of timing.  His ways are perfect - and perfectly timed, so I know He'll give me the answers when I need them.

Although it may "feel" silent as I call out to Him, He is anything but silent.  He is continually speaking!  It's just the one question I'm asking where the silence seems to echo.  It's a pressing question.  I can't help but wonder what all God is up to in the interim.

I've realized that my responses during this time are very important.  I can't pretend this isn't happening, so I've been asking God how He wants me to respond.  I'm reminding myself of what I know I need to do:

-  I need to continually choose trust.  When it seems like God is silent, the enemy would love to exploit that and work to create mistrust in my heart to the Lord.  I choose to speak out my trust to the Lord all through the day.

-  I need to examine my heart.  Is there anything keeping me from hearing God?  Have I been obedient to things He's already said to me?

-  I need to keep talking to the Lord.  I need to keep the channels of communication with the Lord active and fully operational!!  Job understood God's silence, and yet he kept pressing into God and declaring the truth of who God is.  And again, out of frustration of not getting answers, the enemy would try to influence me to draw back.

-  I need to dig into the Word more.  Often times that's how God speaks to us, so I need to read what He's already said!

-  I need to be careful and check my attitude.  I can't demand that God speak.  All I can do is ask.  He doesn't owe me anything.  His speaking to me is a precious gift.

-  I need to build my faith in this time by recounting the many ways He's spoken to me in the past!  When I do that, my heart overflows in worship for His goodness and faithfulness in speaking so clearly and personally in previous seasons.

-  I need to listen carefully.  God may speak to me in new ways that I'm not used to.

"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,"  says the Lord.  "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine."  Isaiah 55:8

"If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened."  Psalm 66:18

"O God of my praise.  Do not be silent."  Psalm 109:1

"I have much more to say to you, but right now it would be more than you could understand."  John 16:12

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."  James 4:8

"I will never leave you nor forsake you."  Hebrews 13:5

None of our seasons, our experiences are "wasted."  God is using what I'm walking through right now to draw me closer to Him.  I'm trusting that in the right time He'll give me the answers I need.  He is faithful.