Only Trust Him

We have some very hospitable friends who monthly have a group in their home for a meal, Bible study and games. The group changes but there are six couples there most every time. Sunday night was the meeting.

Our discussion was the life of Joseph found in Genesis, focusing on chapter 45. We were amazed again by Joseph’s faith in God’s goodness and Word to him even though he had no idea how things would work out. We spoke of his words, “You meant it for evil, but God intended it for good, for the saving of many people.” and linked it to Romans 8:28.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: who are called according to His purpose

Romans 8:28

This was followed by a rollicking game of Outburst; men against the women. You can just imagine the volume and good natured ribbing. Everyone was in high spirits. It was a fun night! There was not even a hint of impending danger.

Tuesday morning we received an urgent prayer request. One of the men had been found outside the Emergency Room with no pulse. Evidently he had driven himself there and passed out. They were trying to start the heart but had no idea how long it had been stopped.

Hours passed. Finally we heard the heart had started and he was breathing on his own. Transfer to a larger hospital.

Wednesday morning. The doctor is optimistic for recovery. The brain is the wildcard. We are praying for no damage to the brain; for faith and strength for the family.

The story is not finished but I’m believing God for good and asking Him for my earthly version of what that good would be – full, healthy recovery – healing. He is the Great Physician after all.

Life is so very fragile. There is no promise of what tomorrow will bring or for that matter, what the next five minutes will bring. God has a way of confronting us with that truth time after time. Be ready. Don’t postpone anything He asks of you. Live life to the full – abundantly. My friend is ready should that be God’s will, but we are not ready to let him go. There’s still so much for him to teach us. We trust God though we don’t see the end of the story. We believe in the goodness of God.

If you would take the time to pray for my friend, it would mean so much.

Not Always as it Seems

Recently I spent a few days at Barren River State Park in Kentucky. One night I was walking after dark and the lighting was a little dim. Trying to be careful, I looked at the pavement in front of me which I perceived to be flat. Talk about literally tripping over truth; there was a curb in front of me! I fell; books and glasses went flying as I hit my wrist, hand, chin, face and knee. It happened so quickly and in slow motion at the same time. The swelling and bruising are mostly gone but I’m still a little sore from the experience.

The next day I was out for a walk (in the daylight) and I began to wonder why they named the place “Barren” River. The area is replete with trees, plants, deer, fish and birds of all kinds. Certainly nothing would indicate “land too poor to produce much or any vegetation.”

A little research turned up the fact that when settlers first came to the area it was grassland or prairie. They could see for miles. Legend has it someone on horseback could ride for days and see hardly a tree on the horizon. Explorers from the east were accustomed to heavily wooded areas and assumed this soil was too poor or too shallow to support trees. They called the grasslands “barrens”.

Actually the “barrenness” was caused by fire. Native Americans set fire to the land to keep it clear to support grazing buffalo and elk. When the livestock and the Native Americans moved on there was no burning and trees began to spring up.

So often we, like the settlers, are poor judges of what we see and experience. Something which seems barren may actually be rich down deep. We think something is bad but in hindsight, it was a good thing. We may be jumping up and down over good fortune only to realize later it was misfortune in disguise.

No one enjoys the burning away of spiritual undergrowth but still God sometimes sends a cleansing fire into our lives. Why? Not only for our own spiritual maturity, but also to support and comfort others. This is one of the themes of the Bible.

“He comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” II Corinthians 1:4 New Living Translation

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

What was good about falling? I’m not sure yet. Others were a bit more careful from that point on and I am glad to have no broken bones, but good? I’m still waiting for that revelation. It may not come. I’m hoping on my next adventure God won’t have to literally trip me, but I know He can be trusted. Even when the fire is hot and the fall is painful. He can be trusted even when I can’t readily find all the answers. Even if I never find them. I love that He cares to show me His truth from time to time.

Word for the Year 2019

I am not one to have a special word for the year. I need EVERY word the Lord wants to send my way! But this year the idea attached itself to me; I couldn’t shake it off. I asked others if they had done it, why and what was their experience with it. Finally I decided I’d just ask the Lord for a word for 2019. I took a couple of little quizzes just to see what insight they might provide and No, I really don’t put much stock in that kind of thing. But two separate sets of questions gave me the same word; a word I would not, at first glance, have chosen for myself.

COURAGE

My immediate reaction the first time was a scoffing, “Well, that’s not right.” The second time I gave it a little more thought and had to admit, I am a closet coward. At least, I think my fearfulness is hidden from the world. In truth, I am shaking on the inside when I have a conversation with someone for the first time. If my hands are hidden, I am squeezing fingers and digging my nails into my palms. A car trip, lunch out or telephone conversation with someone I don’t know fairly well can put me in knots. I run from conflict of any sort. I shudder at being asked to do something for fear of failure. Not totally freaking out on airplane trips takes lots of prayer on my part. And let’s just say I have digestive issues and leave it at that.

At the same time I’m an adventurer. I like to order something new off the menu, visit new places and take the road a little less traveled. I’m not a “drive by and look out the window” type of person. I want to hike down and get my hands dirty. . . in safety. What a crazy combination! But maybe we’ve all pretty crazy combinations at that.

Back to the word – courage. I began noticing it in several things I am reading. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s the plodding on in the face of fear. So in that sense, it seems God has already taught me quite a bit about it. The Bible is full of admonitions to be strong and courageous because He is with us.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

I just noticed an upcoming guest speaker for the women of our church – Jan Silvious. And her topic? “Courage for the Unknown”

Okay! I get it! My word for the year is courage! And can I just say, “that’s a little bit scary.”?

Oh my goodness, Lord. You have got some work to do on this girl! Let’s go for it! It’s bound to be an exciting trip!

False Memories vs. True Thoughts

I am planning a trip to Eastern Europe in September and having made the trip before I’m aware of things that would make things more comfortable. While doing online Christmas shopping I saw an ad for an eternity scarf with a hidden pocket to safely keep passport, money, etc. “Now THAT would be helpful,” I thought. So much better than the little pocket purse around my neck and under my clothing. The order was placed and I didn’t think much more about it.

In the hubbub of Christmas, they arrived. One was black and one was grey. I opened then, looked at them, put them back in the bag. Where could I put them so I’d find them again after Christmas? Ah, with the suitcases! That way even if I forget, I’ll see them next time I pack something.

Well, you know what my past month has bee like; just like yours! Too many places to go, too many programs to watch, gifts to wrap, meals to cook, visits to make, people to help. Then after the first of the year there’s the putting away and cleaning. Finally, January 7, I began to think about those scarves and wanted to try one out.

I looked with the suitcases and inside every pocket of each one. Not there. We keep suitcases in the top of a walk in closet and I was positive the scarves were at least in that closet. I took everything out, re-organized and discarded things. The closet looks great! But no scarves.

I then moved on to my clothes closet; cleaned, discarded, reorganized. No scarves. I went through drawers. No scarves. I emptied the hall coat closet. No scarves. Now I am really beginning to get irritated. Where on earth could I have put those scarves?! I’ve gone down the list of places I normally stash things. Could I have somehow thrown them away when I was wrapping things? But that was the whole reason for stashing them in the first place. This went on for three days. The chest in the hallway was next though I really couldn’t imagine putting them there. Several times I prayed, “Lord, You know right where those scarves are. Could You please help my memory or lead me to see those scarves?”

That evening as I was leaving for a meeting, I saw a small package at the garage door where the mailman had left it. Hubby was pulling in as I was pulling out so I pointed at the package and he nodded. He would take care of it. He had ordered several things for the car so I assumed this was another.

Later that night, he brought the package in from the garage. It was addressed to me. Came from China. I opened it and what was there?? Two zippered scarves! Both were black. Y’all, I had just dreamed I received them and put then away! That dream was so vivid I was sure it really happened! Is that crazy or what?!! Or maybe I’m really losing it! But the evidence it was a dream is the change in color. There was no grey scarf which I specifically remember looking at.

After stewing over this for 24 hours, I googled it. It’s called “false memory” and 50% of us have them from time to time. I recall telling a story once and a friend who was also present corrected my memory. Once she reminded me, I did realize it happened just the way she said. I wasn’t intentionally lying, it was just how I remembered it. But when my friend told the sequence I remembered at once that she was right. This was different. Well, it’s still a false memory, but I can’t seem to mentally correct it. No way to know if it was really a dream, though that’s the only reasonable scenario I can come up with. It’s kind of scary that I could have such a vivid memory of something which evidently never happened.

It seems at times reality is tenuous at best. So what can we do? “Trust in the Lord. Don’t rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him and He’ll straighten out your paths (and memory). That’s Proverbs 3:5-6 in the Debi Thompson paraphrase.

And for the scariness, Isaiah 41:10-14 comforted me.

“So 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

He must have chuckled as I cleaned out my closets – a job that needed doing. He knew right where the scarves were all right. And He did  lead me to see those scarves! Just not where I was looking. And that may be another truth right there we’re prone to trip over.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:8-9

So maybe, just maybe, everything we think is not necessarily so. Just a thought. . .