One of Floyd's faithful carers had a visit with him recently that he said was perhaps his most significant of the 3+ years he has been caring for Floyd. He took one of our All Nations leaders with him. This man had gone through training with us here in Cape Town, then returned to his home country for ministry. God has greatly anointed and blessed him. They now have over 1000 churches, and have discipled believers to the 11th generation. He had one of his leaders with him.
They thanked Floyd for his heart for Africa. They assured him that his work has continued to bear fruit even while he's been sick. They told Floyd that he had given his life to ministry, that his life is not over, so the ministry continues even now. They commented that prayer brings glory to God, and there are many people praying because of his illness.....so God is being glorified. Floyd smiled through the whole visit. I'm sure he was encouraged, and hearing of this visit encouraged my heart too.
I've now begun some new cancer treatment, so I’m continuing to pray for healing and that this new treatment goes well and is successful.
I was reading a passage of scripture in my quiet time recently, and this verse seemed to jump off the page as I read it. -
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23
A number of thoughts started coming to mind. The first thought was about heavy traffic. The older I get, the more I don't enjoy driving - especially on the freeway. I'm sure this happens everywhere, but we seem to have some crazy drivers in Cape Town! I've seen drivers "swerve" in and out of lanes continually - and carelessly. I get nervous around them, and it's hard to know where they're going because they are constantly swerving. Our son Matthew moved here to help us when his dad got sick. It's a wonderful blessing that he drives me to my appointments. I don't have to deal with those swerving drivers!!
My next thought was about me going along on our unexpected journey. It seems long. I get tired. The "traffic" is often heavy. I don't know how much further I have to go on the journey. There are times when I want to "swerve" to another lane - or take an off ramp - or go on a detour. I find myself not wanting to stay in my lane!
As this verse jumped off the page to me, I knew the Lord was speaking to my heart to hold steady on this journey. I need to be careful not to let my heart, my mind, or my emotions "swerve" somewhere else. God has allowed me to be on this journey, and He has been faithful each step of the way. I need to stay the course and keep going......not swerve somewhere else.
I don't have much choice in terms of the circumstances, but where I find I'm vulnerable is in my thoughts. I can't let my mind "swerve" or stray to other times, other places. I must stay focused on where I am right now, and what I'm dealing with. The visual image of swerving has helped me. If I feel myself doing that, I grab the wheel and ask the Lord to help me stay steady and focused on what He has in store for me.
The best way I know to do that is to speak out His goodness and faithfulness to me - reminding myself of His promises to help me. I thank Him for all the ways He has helped me not to swerve. I praise Him for all the times He's helped me to stay steadily on course. I speak out my trust in Him. I declare that my hope is in Him, in His unfailing ways. Choosing to not swerve, and speaking out my trust to the Lord has been a help and protection to keep steadily on course.
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5,6
"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
"I can do all this through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13
"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:8
I'm grateful for the Lord's reminder to keep my eyes on Him, stay steady on the journey He has for me, and not swerve!
During these last few days that have been a bit quieter than usual for me, the Lord has been impressing upon me how important it is to keep joy alive in my heart. His joy is my strength! I can't allow circumstances to drag me down. Hard things come, but I can maintain joy in the midst of the hard things and hard times.
I've been reminded that I can't have joy unless I'm thankful, so worship and gratitude need to be a vital part of my daily life. In fact, I need to build a "grid of gratitude" through which I view everything else in life! When I'm thankful, everything else is viewed through a heart of gratitude.
The Lord has also reminded me to be careful in my speech. If I'm speaking all the time of the hard things, that impacts my heart. I certainly need to be open, be real, be honest - but I need to be careful to not allow my heart to dwell on the negative things. I must balance it with gratitude for the good things in my life......of which there are MANY even on the hardest days!
In the same way I guard my speech, I must also guard my thoughts. If my thoughts are focused on the hard things, that impacts my emotions and I can become discouraged. I must think on the things that are good! A help and protection for me is reading the Word. As I focus on who God is in my situation, my thoughts are filled with worship.
I've also felt Him speaking to me to LOOK for the blessings He has brought into each day. They're there! But if I'm focused on the trials, I might miss the joys. As I find the joys, I can worship and thank Him for each one - speaking or singing my gratitude. It's amazing how quickly the hard things weaken in their impact on my life as I worship Him for the good things.
These principles about joy are not new to me, but they are certainly helpful reminders as I navigate our unexpected journey. Joy and sorrow/hardness can be intermingled - it's not a dichotomy. He has faithfully provided for my every need. He has given me joy for the journey.
"This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!" Nehemiah 8:10
"Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence." Psalm 21:6
"For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast." Proverbs 15:15
"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." James 1:2,3
"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22
"When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul." Psalm 94:18,19
"Restore to me the joy of your salvation.....to sustain me." Psalm 51:12
"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we many sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14
The Joy of the Lord is constantly available to us through God's grace and goodness. As I focus on His goodness in this day, His joy carries me through the trials.