Blog Is Not Dead

Blog is Not Dead.

Hello dear fellow chronic illness warriors, it has been a long time. Over the past several years as my health has improved I have found less and less to write about in regards to the emotional physical and social experience that is long-term chronic illness.

I have walked through the worst of this; (unless indeed it is God’s desire that I have setbacks coming). I have spent the better part of my 20s and 30s walking this journey.
I know the loneliness.
I know the isolation.
I know the social and emotional ramifications of long-term illness that I feel are far more damaging than the physical.
I would still say to anyone that there’s nothing worse that a human being can suffer than the loss of hope. We can go through so much in this life, but even when our bodies fail, our friends and family walk away, whatever trauma we suffer, if we have hope we can go through almost anything.

I have not been shy about my faith and the fact that the focus of my life and what holds me together is my faith in God. I have written in the past about redemption. I have written in the past about God‘s will in suffering and what we are to expect as far as healing.
The blessing and promise that whatever we walk-through is for our good and his glory is a rich promise that holds hope for us when hope is gone.

I have often in the past referred to going through chronic illness as being on an eternal treadmill; constantly expending energy but getting absolutely nowhere. It is exhausting and frustrating.
Being on that treadmill locked in a dark room with a window to the world, running towards beauty, running towards life, running just as hard and as fast as the rest of the world, but for you, you get nowhere.
This metaphor is absolutely true.
But, what has struck me lately (and that God has placed on my heart), is the aspect of training. Remember I said nothing is wasted in Christ? Everything is for our good and his glory? What if I was never stuck? What if none of the energy and the time on the treadmill was for nothing? You see I thought I wasn’t getting anywhere, but in fact I was training and building and strengthening.

I have been blessed over the last several years to see my health improve, to see a new lease on life which I know not everyone with Lyme and other invisible illnesses experience. As I have written about in past blogs I have definitely had to go through my mourning and grieving, letting go of things that were dreams that at this stage in life are simply no longer possible. I have gone through a decimation and a rebuilding from the ground up of my hope tower.
There is a reason so many Christian songs include the words “Beauty from ashes”. Just like new growth and new life spring from the ash after a forest fire, so it is that God brings renewal and cleansing, new life and new hope from the ashes of our devastation; In his kingdom it is not a maybe or a possibility, it is a promise.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss out on a single blessing that God has for me, a single word that He wants to impart to me, a single aspect of his character that He wants to teach me in the lowly places as well as the high ones. Do I want to miss everything that He has for me because I’m busy looking down at the ground or at my feet? Absolutely not. I have a license to be tenacious when it comes to the promises in Christ.

Right now I am sick. This one is temporary, but it has driven me into a place of isolation for a time. So many things are striking me right now: Primarily that I have a choice; wallow or worship? I can be defeated. I can focus on my selfishness and everything I lack, and wallow. Or (as is always an option in Christ), I can choose to worship. To chase my blessings with tenacity. To ask God those fundamental questions that are always the right questions to ask:
What lesson do You want me to learn right now?
What do You want to teach me about yourself in this time?
What are you preparing me for?
What attitude and perspective do I need to have to be in alignment with You?

I don’t want to be someone who settles! I don’t want to be someone who sees only in the flesh.
If freedom and victory are mine in Christ, I don’t want them to be a vague concept that I “hope will happen”, or that I believe in my head, but do not believe in my heart as knowledge that I can stand on as a firm foundation in how I live my life.
God is looking for people of a different spirit. Like Caleb and Joshua, who saw with different eyes because they saw how big their God was, and in comparison to Him, everything else was small.
May the very universe itself be small in my eyes. May I be one with steadfast unshakable faith, with a vision for victory, and eyes and a desire for Majesty.

Yes I have failed time and again. Yes I will fail again, probably uncountable times, because I’m human.
But not by my might, but by His Spirit, may I get up again and again and again. Because I have greater things to stand on than my own understanding. Because with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible to those who believe.

May I face the darkness the same way I face the light, because my vision has nothing to do with my physical eyes.

Be strong fellow chronic illness warriors. Wherever your journey takes you, whatever place you find yourself in right now. The physical place you find yourself and your spiritual stance do not have to be the same. You could be lying in bed unable to move in your body, but you could be scaling mountains in the spiritual realm. Let us pour all things into the Spirit, for we know that faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain. What if the mountains you are supposed to move are not physical?

Further Down The Road

Hello to my invisible and chronic illness community, it has been a long time since my last blog post. It seems that there are fewer needs for words when suffering eases up. There is something about deep physical and emotional suffering that brings forth an outpouring of the agony of a soul, to be spilled upon the page.

My greatest inspirations for writing in my blog have always come from a deep place of suffering, and from that place a longing to be heard and to help others, as well as seek a higher purpose and find a calling in my words. It seems that this fact in and of itself shines a great light on the purpose of pain, and the reason for “senseless” trials and tribulations in this life. I know I’ve touched on the subject before, but how often do we relate to the story of another who has walked in our shoes and suffered the same as we have, in a way we could never relate to the kind words and comfort of someone who has no idea what we are experiencing? We are touched by those who overcome and find peace and joy not when suffering ends, but in the midst of it and despite of it.

This week I finished a short five day devotional called Finding God Faithful. It focused on the story of Joseph; we know the story so well, I feel to the point of not actually experiencing it anymore. Much like the mindlessness of repeating a memorized verse or song, that has lost any spark of meaning due to it’s familiarity. And yet, I found a new message in the story of Joseph that I feel relates specifically to not only God’s relentless and unending faithfulness to us, but how we experience Him in trials and suffering.

Part of the verse that was emphasized in this short devotional (that was repeated in several places) was “God was with Joseph”.

So simple, and yet so profound. Because did God initially show up and rescue Joseph from the pit or being sold into slavery? Did God for many many years rescue Joseph from prison or change his circumstance? No he didn’t, at least not for a long time. So where was Joseph’s comfort? How was God with Joseph this whole time? And on the flipside, how was Joseph unwavering in his faith? It certainly was not in seeing God change his circumstances, or end his suffering. The answer is in abiding in him, and holding fast not onto how God would work, but onto the person and character of God himself and having unshakable faith in a faithful and unchanging God.

It is easy to think we have faith in God when in fact without always realizing it, often we fall into having faith in how we want Him to work, what we think He will do, how we believe He will make us feel, how He will change someone….

When our faith is placed in the “what, when, where and how”, this is where we are sometimes disappointed, and our faith is shaken.

When our faith however truly rests in the “Who”, we shall never be disappointed; for our focus is on the unchanging character and nature of God and His promises to us, that are not always about our comfort, but about our good and His glory.

“”Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.”

Isaiah 49:15-16

“and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8:27-28

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

John 10:27-29

(Also see the entire chapter Psalm 139).

To those with chronic illness that betrays them on a daily basis in their physical bodies and even in their minds and emotions; I know the agony of hopelessness, I know the pain and despair of seeing no end to suffering. Some of us will get well. Some of us will receive partial healing. Some of us will see the path of suffering go on to the horizon with no end in sight. We do not always know the answers, sometimes God is gracious to show us the reasons in this life, like he did to Joseph. And for some of us the answers may not come. It is here that our faith rests that God is relentlessly intentional to us, and the promise we rest on is that everything works together for our good and his glory. Disappointment comes when that good and glory doesn’t look the way we think it will look or want it to look.

I am in a season where so much has changed for the better, yes there are still struggles with chronic symptoms including unexplainable fatigue that hits me from time to time, seasons of brain fog, the relentlessness of inflammation and autoimmune reactivity…. But I am grateful that the last couple years has brought me to a place of peace with where I am in my life and with the Lord.

I am in another season of a faith journey which is stretching me, but which I face with equal appreciation as I do struggle.

The reason being is that there is a very sweet spot that you find with the Lord and a reliance on him during times that your faith is being stretched, that you cannot experience in any other way. Right now I find myself in a beautiful place of abiding, in a place of praying without ceasing; which is less about actual prayer than it is a constant commune with the Lord and an acknowledgment of Him in every thought I think, everything I do, in every waking moment of the day where He is my director, my comforter, my shield, my guide, my peace.

In the past I have given over more years than I can count to darkness and being in a place of mourning over things lost, and suffering that robbed me of so much life. I told God recently that I have spent too much of my life in a dark hallway grieving over closed doors. It is with extreme gratitude that several years back I had a friend challenge me out of that place, that I was to give my grief as an offering to the Lord and let him exchange it for a different vision, and He was faithful to do so.

So today, I have less to say about the particulars of the symptoms and sufferings of chronic Lyme disease along with its coinfection’s and complications, and less about the emotional place of agony we find ourselves in chronic illness.

Today rather I try and speak from a different place in the journey, a place further up the road, which is more a spiritual place than a physical one. There’s still so much in life that has not yet happened for me, that I have not experienced, that I have not reclaimed from the lost years of the past… and yet, God is with me.

Why I’m grateful for the struggle

I’m just now waking up on New Year’s morning and although today begins a new year filled with possibility, blessings, and good things ahead, first I have to deal with a morning filled with a spike in inflammation and pain.

I had an amazing surprise for my birthday yesterday and was flown back to Seattle to spend a few days with my good friends, people I love like family. It was a wonderful relaxed evening and one of my friends even labored to make me a grain-free cardamom cake (my favorite). This morning (although there were no “major” cheats last night), my body is reminding me of it’s intolerance of normalcy, and well, eating in general :/

I’m not enjoying the feeling, mostly the fact that my face and limbs have enough fluid to sail a boat on…

But I digress.

Although I’m very uncomfortable physically and psychologically (I’m pretty self conscious of my layers of puff), I am also not dismayed and this present discomfort is small compared to past suffering, or what I know many others have to bear on a daily basis .

Lately I have been meditating on gratitude for the years of illness, for the struggles, the isolation, the lack of normalcy and the divergent path my life has gone down. I know It’s a strange thing to say I’m grateful, and I know I felt differently when I was in the midst of my worst years; the years of numbness and apathy, the years of neurological Lyme, the years of being in bed most of the time…..But I had to go through those times, get through the layers of treatments, of having hopes and dashed hopes, having health discoveries, having to make the climb if you will……

But more importantly it was the steps that God was taking me through in my spiritual journey; the stripping down and restructuring of everything I was, including my priorities and my paradigms. Fire cleanses.

Why am I writing this now?

Well I have to admit I don’t do as well in my spiritual walk when things are too easy. Not to say that my life lacks struggle (see the first sentences of this page), but that said I have been very blessed as of late with entering a good season of my life. I live in a new area I love, my living situation has improved and i have a wonderful new job working with great people. Now I certainly haven’t forgotten God, not even close, but I find I am not crying out to Him in need as of late, and I actually miss that.

There is a depth of relationship with the Lord when you are hurting, or scared, or have heavy burdens and don’t know where to turn other than to Him. There is a sweet place in misery where an intimacy with God can be cultivated. In these times you recognize Him as the All In All in comparison to the frailty of the world that is crumbling around you. That’s why I’m thankful. My roots have been anchored in dark and lowly places of desolation. Through many years and seasons past I think what God was doing in the toughest times (although for so long I couldn’t see it), was driving my growth down and deep and not up into the light. I think left to my frailty and the messiness of my own character, I would so easily fall into step with the world and be charmed and wooed by things that don’t last and offer only menial pleasures, and in the end starve the soul, if not for having lived in the valley for so long.

The writer of Ecclesiastes is spot on when he calls the treasures of the world vanities.

Where am I going with all this? I think what I’m feeling is that I’m entering a new season, a season where I get to put into practice all that I have learned (not that the learning or growing ever ends), and it’s time to practice discipline and obedience in my spiritual journey. Discipline is something I have always struggled with, at least when it comes to scheduling and organizing certain aspects of my life. The words for 2019 seem to be “gratitude” and “obedience”. It’s a theme God seems to be sprinkling me with here and there, little words from different people and different sources that together make a clear picture of what He is saying. When God tells you something He usually reinforces that message by giving it to you multiple times and in different ways to affirm the word.

I am happy to find that I am not fully contented in my present circumstances taking them at face value, it’s good that I want to keep moving forward as closely partnered with the Lord as I can be, to not put my time or relationship with Him on a sidebar, but to keep digging in deep even though I finally have some spring leaves in the light of the sun.

So, I will keep pressing on to try solve these autoimmune issues, the ones that still cause pain and challenges, I will enjoy and give thanks for the positive changes that are new in my life, and most importantly I will keep my focus on Jesus and my ears open to what He has to say in this season and the new commissions He has laid on the path before me.

Hello 2019, welcome.

Where Did That Come From?!?!

Words. Nothing more powerful. More encouraging…..Emotive. Destructive. Attractive, And about as many more adjectives as you could come up with.

But that first word, powerful is maybe the one that overshadows the rest, and gives all the other adjectives their weight. Also the one we maybe too often forget.

Words that carry the most weight and power are often fueled by the most driving force in our humanity: emotion, and that is both wonderful and scary depending on the circumstances.

I’ve been thinking lately about my communications and where my “ugly” words come from. Not necessarily horrible, but just the ones that come off wrong, are misinterpreted, lack tact and just in general convey a “me” I don’t like.

Where do those come from? Well, after some thought, I believe they usually they come from places of fear, hurt, desperation, frustration, and the like.

There have been a couple instances lately where maybe the gist of what I said was fine, but in hindsight I really didn’t like the reflection it painted of myself to the person I was communicating with and maybe caused hurt or frustration.

The most recent example was an email to a doctor. Nothing basically wrong with my content, but I had to think after his reply that I hoped I wasn’t frustrating him or questioning his wisdom. This really made me think about my feelings when I was writing, and I realized I was frustrated, worried and a little desperate, both with myself and what was going on in my body.

Not a good foundation, because my words came from that emotional base.

The Bible of course has a good deal to say about the tongue and our words:

Proverbs 11:9 “Evil words destroy one’s friends; wise discernment rescues the godly.”

Proverbs 11:12 “It is foolish to belittle a neighbor; a person with good sense remains silent.”

Proverbs 11:17 “Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel.”

Proverbs 15: 1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.”

Proverbs 18:4 “A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.”

And of course most of James chapter 3 in regards to the tongue. The majority of a chapter of the Bible devoted to the destructive power of words!

Great! But, it goes deeper than that, and deeper is where I have been introspecting myself. A few quick questions to cut through the layers to get to the source:

Where do words come from? The brain.

Okay, what prompts the brain to create the words? Um, thought processes and emotions.

Hmmmm, what fuels those thought processes and emotions? Character.

Whoa, So basically who we are.

Who should be in charge of our character? God.

So this is a great (although be it uncomfortable) process to go through with the Lord when you find your words lacking, hurting, harsh, sarcastic, condescending, always being misunderstood, or falling short of kindness or clarity. In some cases just focusing on your recipient and not your agenda is all you need, but more often than not you need Jesus to take a magnifying glass to places in your heart you didn’t even know needed work. Trust me, there is no better heart surgeon than Jesus.

Being opened up is always uncomfortable, but having tumors removed is ALWAYS profitable.

❤️

Psalm 139:23-24

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

Psalm 51:10

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me”

Trusting God In The Process

GONNA’ MAKE IT

“God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where rust destroys and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where thieves do not break in or steal;”

Matthew 6:19-20 (abridged)

Make the goal.

Make the deadline.

Accomplish the task.

Make enough money.

Be a success.

Attain the stuff.

Endure/put up with/get through The trial or difficulty simply with the goal of having it be over so you can get back to doing all of the above.

In our humanity and our society we are very much goal oriented as far as how we consider success. But we are also very much that way when it comes to trials or difficulties; just get to the end and have it be over with! We see the entire “goal” of difficulty to have it be over.

This seems to be very much magnified in our modern Western society where we are driven by comfort, accomplishment, acknowledgement and success. These things are the alter at which we worship and pay tribute to with our very lives.

How opposite we are of God in our viewpoint due to our finiteness.

Because you see God is all about the process. Backwards thinking huh? Or as one of my best friends would say “upside down Kingdom”.

EVERYTHING IS BACKWARDS

…we will stand amazed to see the topside of the tapestry and how God beautifully embroidered each circumstance into a pattern for our good and His glory.

Joni Eareckson Tada (quadriplegic for 50 years)

Anyone who has seen the hugely popular Stranger Things understands the concept of the “upside down”. A world in perfect mirror of ours only it is dark, decaying and full of monsters.

Of course in this Sci-Fi series the “good” world is our own natural one.

But in reality (not tv) we exist in the fallen world where there is death, evil, disasters and pain. It is hard to imagine the perfect Eden God created and what this world was meant to be. But having an awareness that Christ’s death ripped the veil and brought about the Kingdom age of the earth (the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and direct access to heaven in prayer) can change our perspectives of being in defeat, to coming into awareness that victory has already been won.

The enemy’s number one goal at its heart is really about destroying our victory and awareness of who we are in Him.

Ahhh but spiritual warfare is a lengthy topic for another day….. (But hold onto that knowledge!).

Are you downtrodden and disappointed right now? In deep suffering and trial? Is it bringing you poverty, loneliness, oppression, discrimination? Are you low on wealth, love, employment, friends, family, health and comfort?

Those are all super important and the basics in life, and yet they are still things and count as treasures on earth.

No, it doesn’t seem fair and before you think I pass judgment, I am also poor and suffering in many of those same things and have been for years.

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

ACCEPTING WHAT IS UNACCEPTABLE

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6

Once we have an understanding and acceptance and even appreciation of God’s process (especially when it comes to our own situation) this doesn’t always mean that our attitudes or emotions at every given moment reflect this understanding.

Emotions fluctuate.

It took many years but I did finally come to not regretting years of illness and the loss of so much life to something that was out of my control.

I came to appreciate all that God had done in me and through me and continues to do. That said, in the years since that understanding I have not always been happy about it, or always appreciated or not reverted to regret.

I have to admit right now being in the season where negativity has been over- running any kind of positivity and I really don’t like myself very much right now.

I have experienced the ebbs and flows that go on in my body, my mind, my emotions and my spirit for so many years that I feel like I can never find level footing as far as where I am in my life, or my spirituality or my own personality. This can be incredibly frustrating especially when I am very much aware of it and how it is affecting myself and others.

As is usual during the more negative times I am quite aware that there is very much a physical component to my outlook comprised of how my internal organs are functioning, my hormones, my toxicity levels and many other factors. But that does not mean I am not responsible to take control to the best of my ability my relationship with God in these times and with others.

Whether I feel like it or not it is in these times that I should all the more dig my feet in as hard as I can into Jesus and into the Word to counterbalance the chaos and negativity inside my mind my body.

What happens when I act out of obedience and do just that? What you’re reading right now is a fruit of what happens. God opens up a channel and I’m able to do the best I can with his help to write for him.

SEEING INSTEAD OF LOOKING

We know that as long as we have breath in life that God is not finished with us. When he is “done” (for reasons that are wrapped in the mystery of his will), we go home. So while we have life whether we be in the midst of trials and difficulties or if we are blessed enough to have things easy; we should never stop seeking, growing, learning, exploring all the things that God has for us in our hearts and souls.

Because that’s why we are here right now, for those things in ourselves and in others.

We’ve Got stuff to do. And if we don’t know what that stuff is right now, at least we know Who to go to to ask.

Knowing God is the beginning of knowing His will and getting to understand what He is up to. Because when we are going through horrible trials we lose our comforts and the very things that (we think) bring us stability (such as money, a steady job, a loving relationship or our health). When we lose our foundations our world is rocked and we have nothing to stand on.

But I think that is the point. When we lose our false foundations we truly do know where we are spiritually, how much faith is real and how much we do or don’t trust God. That is why we are told to consider it all joy when we have trials, because we know we have God’s loving attention and He is looking to building the gold inside us by removing the costume jewelry we have surrounded ourselves with.

“You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.”

~Corie Ten Boom

If you have not read Corie Ten Boom’s story I highly recommend it. She survived a German concentration camp and witnessed the murder of her family as well as countless others.

“”Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”

Isaiah 48:10

CONCLUSION

We will all go through trials and difficulties. It’s not a maybe it’s a sure thing. The difference is how we choose to face them and Who we choose to face them with and what we allow Him to do in the midst.

One thing that is assured in Christ is that (hear this!) it’s not for nothing and it’s not pointless!!! Quite the opposite. Rather instead we have blessings that would have been unattainable otherwise. I don’t know about you but if I’m going to suffer I sure want to be looking for the treasure and not miss out. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it means I will continue to ebb and flow in this journey of life and go through the cycles of negativity only to bob my head free again and recognize the truths God keeps reminding me of and giving me a better understanding of as I work at running the race.

Healing and God’s Will

I wrote this earlier this year in June. I was inspired while out walking and listening to the audio book of The Cost Of Discipleship by Dietrich Boenhoffer. 

For my non-Christian followers this may not feel like it directly applies to where you are in your Lyme journey, but I hope you will still find encouragement.
I have been reflecting, reading and meditating on a few things over the past few days and (hopefully) have some things to share that God is teaching me about some subjects we have hit on including suffering and God’s will.

We are multi-generations in now in our country to a very western (and worldly) mindset regarding our “rights” as human beings; the right to comfort, contentment, worldly pleasures, wealth and prosperity. I think this culture has ingrained itself into our way of thinking in ways we probably do not entirely comprehend. We as Christians are called to a different view, but in the same way the kind of family a person is brought up in effects the way they view the world and their heavenly Father, so to does our culture do that to us in how we approach interpreting all things having to do with God. I think because of this it is easy to come at scripture with a “here and now” mindset, especially when it comes to what we expect from God. 
  

   I have especially been going deep into how this effects the way we view God’s will and what we are to expect in this life with our walk with Jesus. In the gospel Jesus said :

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword”. Matt 10:34. 

 “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; Luke 12:51 

New Covenant verses on suffering below* Jesus in His ministry on earth did heal, but this was in accordance with the revelation of His glory and revealing Himself as the Son of God. All of Jesus miracles were much more about the glory of God than they were about the comfort of the healed. Even with Lazarus Jesus says of his sickness “This sickness is not end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son Of God may be revealed”. In these verses we are told the point and purpose of healing in these earthen vessels are for the purpose and glory of God. This is not only true in the time of Jesus but is still true today. That being said, Jesus was also very clear that entering into a relationship with Him is to take a walk into death…to deny ourselves, to take up our cross and follow Him. We enter into death and new life along with Jesus and we are called into the privilege to suffer as Jesus suffered. But nowhere in Scripture does Jesus tell us we will be free from pain and suffering and sickness in this life, quite the opposite. Which is why the New Testament is full of passages on sufferings, trials, enduring, and bearing all things … in joy. 
    Going back to God’s will; taking into account all of the above, we are to pray for healing and told to pray for the sick and He can and does heal, and in those times He miraculously heals we can trust that He is brought the most glory in that situation. For ourselves we have renewed faith, we give testimony to the unsaved and Jesus is revealed that He is still the ultimate Healer. I am a firm believer in the possibility of miracles. But if we err on the side of believing that healing and wholeness (in the strictly physical sense) is always God’s will we can then fall prey to spending our lives in disappointment, doubt, indecision, unfulfilled and lacking joy….which we are told we have in Christ in the midst of suffering. I think also if we believe that healing is always God’s will this aligns our minds not with Christ but instead with a world system that would tell us we are entitled to our own personal comforts and our selfish needs being met in this life. As it was brought up in last week’s discussion we have the promise of perfect and glorified bodies but not in this life. God’s will in every situation is unclear most of the time as to the particulars because we are not God and we have no foreknowledge of which outcome will bring Him the most glory and us the most good. 

   Going into Scripture of how we are told to pray we have the example from Jesus Himself “Thy kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. But what does that mean? What God has been laying on my heart that coming at a passage like this we can err in bringing along our western mindset and include ourselves in the equation; that in heaven there is no death or pain or suffering so that must mean we are entitled to that on earth. I believe that this is completely out of context the same way that 1Peter 2:24 is used out of context for faith healing when that verse has nothing to do with our physical bodies, in that this passage is not about us but rather about the Lord being glorified as He is in heaven. 

   Another danger zone I think we are more prey to falling into with believing God’s will is about comfort and healing on this earth is that this view can come dangerously close to aligning itself with universal spiritualism and a new-age “christianity” that is in our midst and growing, that focuses on world peace, love, healing and prosperity. This may be a stretch, but the spirit of anti- (in opposition to) Christ is alive and well today, and this spirit of false Christ will/does look good. It is the spirit of love without judgement, God in all things, acceptance without repentance…It is a spirit of the here and now instead of the glory that is to come and it is all about us and our happiness instead of Christ glorified. (Thank you Marcie for the reminder of the dangers of the antichrist, you rock). And going back to the words of Jesus that He came to bring division, that we will suffer for Christ, and that this life will not be free from pain and tribulation…we need to be steadfast and alert and stay in His Word not to fall prey the the false Jesus’s that will promise health and wholeness, peace and prosperity. 
I think there is great power in this! In knowing that we have the power of Christ in us to overcome all sickness and tribulation in knowing we have something far more valuable, that joy in suffering is ours to claim as part of our inheritence in Christ, a part of what we can have while in earthen vessels. There is so much richness here to be learned and explored. And of course as always there is great joy and power when Jesus does choose to miraculously heal, He still does and still will. The treasure is in knowing that there is a miracle in the healing and an equal and no lesser miracle in the overcoming. For we are first and foremost overcomers in Christ. 
To God be the glory forever and ever amen. 

      
* Romans 5:3-5 
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

James 1:2-4 
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Romans 8:18 

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
1 Peter 4:12-19

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. … 
2 Corinthians 4:8-10 

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies  

Finding Peace In Redemption

Finding peace in Redemption
I thought that at this time of year as we celebrate the birth of our Redeemer, it might be a good time to write a little about a spiritual truth that has been close to my heart the last several years; redemption.

We know Jesus is our Redeemer, the Savior of our souls, but there are great depths to the redemption that we have in Him every day of our lives. This is why we can find comfort, hope, faith and peace in pain and trial.

Redeem. Verb.

To buy or pay off

To buy back

To recover

To exchange

To convert

To discharge or fulfill

To make up for; make amends for

To obtain be release or restoration of

It was striking me today how we put our faith in Christ for the redemption of our eternal souls, and yet it is still hard to trust Him in our daily difficulties and the problems we face in life.

With God redemption is unique in that He knows all and has always known all. Before the foundation of the world He had our plan of redemption in place. While we were in darkness, while we were lost without any foresight on our own, He redeemed.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”‭‭ Romans‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭



“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,”.                          Ephesians‬ ‭1:4-5‬

Isn’t it somewhat the same when we find ourselves in bad situations in life? We have no foresight as to what to do, or whether the trial will end, or what the purpose of our suffering is, or how to better our situation.

But our greatest comfort can be found if we understand that everything is now under the covering of His redemption.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”        Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”.                          James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭

One of the hardest things in our walk is to be joyful in trials. I used to think that this verse was about just putting on a good attitude because God is good. But it is so much more than that. Firstly we can consider it all joy because we know that God is working to purify and refine our inner man, and He is much more concerned with who we are becoming in Him than earthly wealth or comfort. But also (and this is where we have to get out of our own headspace) He is working on and in everyone around you as well, and may be using you to do it.

“who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ”.‭‭.                                                2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:4-5‬ ‭

How much more are you touched by the testimony of someone who has gone through, or is in the midst of suffering who holds steadfast to their faith, than that of someone who seems to float with ease through life? God uses people mightily who He has called to go through trials.
Back to the promise of redemption; I am going back to the promise we have that ALL things work together for the good of those who are in Christ. This is huge! And it doesn’t mean menial gains and comforts. It means that everything that you do…before and after knowing Him, every mess up, every disaster, every hardship, pain, trial, mistake, crisis and suffering has the absolute promise of being redeemed for a greater glory. Wow.

This promise has great comfort for those that have been suffering long-term with illness and trials, myself included.
Up until about a year and a half ago I had been holding onto a lot of grief and loss; loss of my youth, loss of all the things in life I have not done and not had the opportunity to do, loss of so many years of my life that felt wasted by illness and apathy. Even though God had taught me so much, refined me and built me over the years, I was still grieving. Until He showed me that every day I spent looking backwards and mourning was another day I gave over to it.

Also by focusing on loss I was not giving God my full surrender and recognizing His plan for redemption in my life over everything that I felt was a “waste”. Because there is no waste in the kingdom of God.
The things we have been through and experienced are unique to us, and no one can have our ministry and our story. Redeeming what we have been through is not a possibility or a probability, it is an absolute promise and is ours to own with dogged tenacity.

It may be hard if you are still in the midst of suffering and can see no end. But it is comforting that even if you are lying in bed and in pain and don’t know when it will end, you do know that God without question has something in it for you and for others.
This is true:

What we have in Christ is a promise in every problem.

A blessing in every difficulty.

Hope in every trial.

These aren’t maybes, they are absolutes.

Sometimes we just need a little paradigm shift and as one of my favorite teachers Graham Cooke says “if we aren’t seeing things the right way we need a lens change”.
Nothing is ever wasted, ever.

Finding Peace In Redemption

Finding peace in Redemption
I thought that at this time of year as we celebrate the birth of our Redeemer, it might be a good time to write a little about a spiritual truth that has been close to my heart the last several years; redemption.

We know Jesus is our Redeemer, the Savior of our souls, but there are great depths to the redemption that we have in Him every day of our lives. This is why we can find comfort, hope, faith and peace in pain and trial.

Redeem. Verb.

To buy or pay off

To buy back

To recover

To exchange

To convert

To discharge or fulfill

To make up for; make amends for

To obtain be release or restoration of

It was striking me today how we put our faith in Christ for the redemption of our eternal souls, and yet it is still hard to trust Him in our daily difficulties and the problems we face in life.

With God redemption is unique in that He knows all and has always known all. Before the foundation of the world He had our plan of redemption in place. While we were in darkness, while we were lost without any foresight on our own, He redeemed.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭

“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:4-5‬

Isn’t it somewhat the same when we find ourselves in bad situations in life? We have no foresight as to what to do, or whether the trial will end, or what the purpose of our suffering is, or how to better our situation.

But our greatest comfort can be found if we understand that everything is now under the covering of His redemption.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭

One of the hardest things in our walk is to be joyful in trials. I used to think that this verse was about just putting on a good attitude because God is good. But it is so much more than that. Firstly we can consider it all joy because we know that God is working to purify and refine our inner man, and He is much more concerned with who we are becoming in Him than earthly wealth or comfort. But also (and this is where we have to get out of our own headspace) He is working on and in everyone around you as well, and may be using you to do it.

“who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:4-5‬ ‭

How much more are you touched by the testimony of someone who has gone through, or is in the midst of suffering who holds steadfast to their faith, than that of someone who seems to float with ease through life? God uses people mightily who He has called to go through trials.
Back to the promise of redemption; I am going back to the promise we have that ALL things work together for the good of those who are in Christ. This is huge! And it doesn’t mean menial gains and comforts. It means that everything that you do…before and after knowing Him, every mess up, every disaster, every hardship, pain, trial, mistake, crisis and suffering has the absolute promise of being redeemed for a greater glory. Wow.

This promise has great comfort for those that have been suffering long-term with illness and trials, myself included.
Up until about a year and a half ago I had been holding onto a lot of grief and loss; loss of my youth, loss of all the things in life I have not done and not had the opportunity to do, loss of so many years of my life that felt wasted by illness and apathy. Even though God had taught me so much, refined me and built me over the years, I was still grieving. Until He showed me that every day I spent looking backwards and mourning was another day I gave over to it.

Also by focusing on loss I was not giving God my full surrender and recognizing His plan for redemption in my life over everything that I felt was a “waste”. Because there is no waste in the kingdom of God.
The things we have been through and experienced are unique to us, and no one can have our ministry and our story. Redeeming what we have been through is not a possibility or a probability, it is an absolute promise and is ours to own with dogged tenacity.

It may be hard if you are still in the midst of suffering and can see no end. But it is comforting that even if you are lying in bed and in pain and don’t know when it will end, you do know that God without question has something in it for you and for others.
This is true:

What we have in Christ is a promise in every problem.

A blessing in every difficulty.

Hope in every trial.

These aren’t maybes, they are absolutes.

Sometimes we just need a little paradigm shift and as one of my favorite teachers Graham Cooke says “if we aren’t seeing things the right way we need a lens change”.
Nothing is ever wasted, ever.

Okay, part 2 of What A Difference A Year Makes

So yesterday I posted something I had written one year ago, it had hope and worship in the theme, but I remember how I was trying to pull that from a very deep place and was really struggling to “feel” it.
One year ago I just started my Lyme treatment after being on a couple months of “prep”, involving detoxing, being treated for mold, etc. I had just lost my job of 4 years and the herxing had begun. So began a few of the worst months of my life. From September into December of 2012 was when I was pretty much bed ridden except for maybe feeling up to going to the grocery store a few times a week. My friends can tell you I disappeared off the face of the earth, and really didn’t even feel up to taking phone calls.
But more than physical desolation was my spiritual and emotional state. I had to dig deep whenever I spoke of hope, because I wasn’t feeling it. I was really dealing with depression and hopelessness. I look at where I was then, and who I was then as a person, and I am struck with awe at how much God has changed me, and I mean this from more than just who I was as a sick person, but down to the inner core of my being.
He has brought me from timidity to boldness. He has changed me from fearful to strong and faithful. He has changed my outlook on life and reason for being. All these things He has been working on over time of course, but the amazing work He has done just in a year is striking. I am entering a place of peace now like nothing I have ever known, and all I can say is that it is far beyond me and my capabilities, it is divine.
I have been listening to Times Of Refreshing by Graham Cooke the last three days, it is about joy and rejoicing. So much is resonating with me…about not looking at the negative, but instead knowing that God has more abundance of joy available to us in suffering. We can reach an even higher level than otherwise possible in our rejoicing, our trust and our faith than we could if all was well. “Lamentation is the highest form of rejoicing, because it has a ‘though’ and ‘yet’. Though I am suffering, even if He slay me yet will I worship Him”
Let me tell you that this is true!!! God is doing something miraculous in me, I am attaining peace beyond understanding, joy despite circumstance! I am so happy right now! And I honestly can’t understand it other then God. Because I have literally spent the last eight years or so of my life grieving; grieving my lost youth, wasted years, my sick body, all my disappointments, my intense loneliness…Living everyday in grief is not living, and it only gives you yet another day of grief.
I know that a huge part of my countenance was my illness and what it was doing to my mind, even as I was starting to get better I was having a hard time pulling out of grief and hopelessness. Because of course if you start to get better after so many years of sickness it really hits you how much older you are, and just how much waste trails behind you…I came to a place of truly surrendering all this to God, and He replaced it with peace and joy.

So one year ago I lost my job and panicked. One year ago I was desperately ill and hopeless. One year ago I felt so unworthy of love or for anything good to happen to me.
Today suddenly I find myself without fretting. Instead of grieving I see how God has/is working all the suffering, illness and all the rest for my good and His glory. I am not the same. Now it is my job just to keep giving it back to Him when the doubts and fears try and creep in, because they have no business being a part of me anymore.

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Written A Few Years Ago, But Every Bit As True Today

Future and Hope

January 23, 2010 at 9:23am
Whenever things are difficult, or when we go through trials, or times when life seems hopeless, we cling to verses like Jeremiah 29:11, that God has a future and a hope for us. But so often it is easy to claim these verses for our own peace of mind, in accordance with our own selfish wants and desires for material things and happiness. At least I find that to be true from time to time, I think; “this trial will soon pass and things will get easier”, or I equate “future” and “hope” to be a promise for my own personal happiness.

Now I do not mean that we tend to be selfish in regards to wanting “everything all for ourselves”, but rather we forget that our future, hope, existence, and lives, are for the purposes and plans, and ultimately for the glory of God. Just the very fact that you belong to Him means you were predestined for a purpose, called according to His purpose. My friend if you belong to God, and have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, rest assured whom God saves He also predestines. From before there was time, your life had meaning and purpose. We think of high points and low points in our lives as sometimes moving forward, or slipping back, but God doesn’t work in these human terms. When He said He works all things together for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose, we can believe that everything that happens in life is for the ultimate glory of God, and you will never fall backwards in life, God does not “slip backwards”, or “get stuck”. Whether you are on the mountain, or deep in the valley, rest assured you are always moving forward.

Wherever you are right now, believe that just the fact that you belong to Christ, and that you exist, means you have a future and a hope, and that fact has nothing to do with any physical wants and needs, or temporal joy, (not that we will not have these things, but the big picture is so much greater). Tonight dwell on the omniscience of El Elyon, the greatness and vastness of all creation, the billions of people in generations past and yet to come, and then know that you were specifically called and chosen according to His very specific purpose.Image