Tag Archives: illness

A Closer Walk: That First Faint Whisper

I remember after my accident the first faint whisper God spoke. I sat every day in the ashes of my burned-down-life, not sure if I even wanted to recover from all the devastation I saw.

life falling apartA weariness had enveloped me that was beyond anything I had ever experienced before.

That place, right in the middle of all my MESS—God showed up.

I wish I could tell you I was in this super-spiritual place but the truth is I was trying to contemplate a life without God. My disappointment went far beyond my rage at my circumstances. I was just “finished” and God and I both knew it!

That had been our deal.

I had returned to my faith from “the world” as beat-up prodigal who didn’t believe “a God of love” even existed. So, before I was even willing to try out this “Christian” thing again, I wanted a new deal between God and myself.

I wanted total transparency with no head-faking-bull.

I wanted no part of the phony church stuff I had seen growing up.

Actually, things worked out well for the first few years. I jumped into the discipleship thing for all I was worth. I studied my Bible each morning. I regularly attended church. I devoured every Christian book I could get my hands on. I began serving in church in all kinds of different ways. Life was good. I was growing. You might even say I was thriving.

Then life fell apart. An undetected illness and the resulting visit to the Emergency Room brought everything crashing down.

Each day I sat in the ruins trying to decide if my “return to God” had just been another colossal mistake in a long line of mistakes.

Was this Christian-thing just one big con job? I felt betrayed. I was recoiling from all the stuff I had believed.

If you tust God is THIS what you get?

So I stopped reading my Bible.

I couldn’t pray.

I wanted nothing to do with a God like this!

world in ruinsHow did I get here?

My doubts that had begun as whispers were now shouting at me, “Is this what obedience brings?”

Everywhere I looked I saw only devastation and chaos!

I wondered, “What kind of a loving God loves like this?”

God hears even the faintest whisper in our hearts.

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is hidden from God. He was “listening in” on all my doubt and inner rage. I didn’t know it then, but He was counting each broken-hearted tear. He was letting me grope my way along in the dark for awhile—just waiting. Waiting for me to finish venting all my frustrations, and for the silence to descend.

Now in the inner quiet He began to whisper.

I grabbed a pen and began to write.

journal

ONLY CHANGED

You there.

Yes YOU sitting in the ashes.

These ruins you see all about you? They are not who you are.
They are not your final destination or your destiny.

I AM!

You are in Me and I AM in you.

Our two lives are as inseparable as a brook that flows into a river. Where does the brook end and the river begin? Hah, you can’t tell Me! That’s how it is with us. My life flowing in you. Your life flowing in Me.

ashesYou look at these ashes and think, “It’s all over now.”

You see ruins where once stood bright hopes and shining dreams, and you think, “What’s the use of dreaming?”

But Sweet Heart look up.

Turn those tear-filled eyes toward Me. I AM still here. You are still here. We are not going to dwell forever in—this place. This is only for a moment in your eternity. A wink! I AM your true Vine not your dreams. Your life flows from Me, not from people, possessions, or calling. Come, dry those eyes. Life is not over. Only changed. But remember what I told you? “I do not change!” I AM the One you can always count on. I AM the Foundation that does not move.

We will be leaving here soon. As we step out of these ashes to begin again? You will see Me transform these ashes of yours into radiant beauty.

You’ll see.

a closer walk

 

“To all who mourn… He will give beauty for ashes.”

Isaiah 61:3Isaiah 61:3
English: World English Bible - WEB

3 to appoint to those who mourn in Zion, to give to them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Yahweh, that he may be glorified.

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A Closer Walk: Storms That Shipwreck Our Beliefs

I didn’t believe anything could shipwreck my beliefs but I had never been in a storm like this one.

If I were to say that my doctors didn’t take my response to their diagnosis well—that would be putting it mildly.

These guys were men of science.

arrogant doctors

They thought my faith was absurd!

I was told in no uncertain terms that if I did not follow their diagnosis their would be consequences!

Prayer—What is that?

My beliefs only made them angry.

Their threats became nastier.

They informed me I couldn’t leave the hospital until they ran more tests.

More tests? The bills were already in the stratosphere and now there would be no job and no money?

How had my beliefs brought me here?

shipwreck

My life was spiraling out of control!

So I called for the Patient Advocate because even in the hospital we have legal rights.

I asked him for a clear explanation of what my legal rights were.

He told me my options and I checked myself out of the hospital A.M.A.  which means “against medical advice.”

I went home still experiencing all of my negative symptoms.

That’s when God “showed up” in an interesting twist of events.

The hospital wouldn’t let me check out without giving them the name of a personal doctor.

So I gave them the first name I could find but they faxed all my tests to the “wrong” doctor. Except he really was the RIGHT doctor!

He told me what was wrong with me, prescribed the correct medication, and most of my symptoms disappeared in a few days.

angry doctorAnd my angry doctors?

They made good on all their threats.

I lost my freedom because they revoked my driver’s license.

Losing my driver’s license meant losing my job.

The hospital costs for all their tests put me into medical bankruptcy which meant my five-star credit rating was gone!

My family whispered in corners looking at me like, “What did you DO to make God so angry?”

What about my remaining symptoms?

I still could not walk from room to room without leaning on the walls for support. I had blinding headaches that stayed with me all day. It was tough to focus my eyes to write; forget about reading or TV.

I sat on my couch each day in stunned, hurting, lonely, silence. I was numb with pain, both physical, and emotional. Forget about feeling anything “spiritual.” I didn’t want to read my bible. I didn’t want to pray. I did not call for the church or pastors to see me. I didn’t want to talk with anyone.

depressed womanI had nothing to say to God or anyone else.

I was angry and afraid.

My life as I knew it had been destroyed. I felt as if I had been shipwrecked.

How was I supposed to fix this mess if I couldn’t work?

I thought each day about ending my life. My anger, doubts and uncertainty made everything look darker and darker as I stared into that black hole called hopelessness.

Questions kept circling in my mind like, “What had I done? Where had I messed up? Why was all this terrible stuff happening?”

Wasn’t obedience to God supposed to equal blessings?

I was caught up in one of the worst spiritual storms of my life.

Just when it seemed that the darkness would swallow me whole—God showed upagain.

a closer walk

But now the Lord who created you, O Israel, says: Don’t be afraid, for I have ransomed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.   When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you… you are precious to me and honored, and I love you.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

Isaiah 43:1, 2, 5Isaiah 43:1, 2, 5
English: World English Bible - WEB

43 1 But now thus says Yahweh who created you, Jacob, and he who formed you, Israel: Don’t be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle on you. 5 Don’t be afraid; for I am with you: I will bring your seed from the east, and gather you from the west;

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A Closer Walk: A Storm That Terrifies

Have you ever been in a severe storm?

Man, I have. It was driving back from the airport in Wichita to Hutchinson, Kansas to stay with friends.

It was my first time in a “tornado watch.”

We left the airport under sunny skies but soon after a storm began to brew. It looked like we were driving into the wrath of God with pitch black skies in the middle of the afternoon. Lightning was hitting the ground all around us and the peals of thunder were so loud I thought the sky was splitting in two!

A storm unleashing its fury can be terrifying.

But what about spiritual storms?

They can be just as terrifying.

motoring through lifeWe can be motoring through life with our destination firmly fixed in our minds and “Wham!” we can find ourselves unexpectedly hurled into a cyclone of  emotional devastation wondering, “Where is God?”

That’s how I remember January 1999. My life turning upside down and inside out with all of my nice neat expectations shattered and in broken pieces all about me—caught in my own Hurricane Andrew.

Remember Andrew? Not only did Andrew erase everything in his path as he swept through central Florida, the tornadoes that spun off the main storm created all kinds of chaos and collateral damage.

That’s what I want to talk about.

Storms that catch us off guard. Storms that flatten and confuse us. Storms that test everything we believe and then leave us asking questions like, “Will I survive this? How will I survive this? Do I even want to survive this? What will I believe afterward even if I do make it through this?

What will survival look like?

I want to take you on my journey through a personal hurricane.

I want you to meet a God who walks in when the rest of the world walks out and marvel at a Savior who treads on the top of our storms.

I hope you will also hear a Holy Voice whisper, with a Voice so quiet that sometimes He must shut out everything else in our lives, so that only His Still Small Voice can be heard.

Okay, so here is where my story begins.

It’s January in the Central Valley of California. The weather is cold, foggy and miserable, which is normal for our winters.

I love my busy life. I have a job I love with people who are depending on me every day. I am tired most of the time but who isn’t in these stress-filled days we live in? When I’m feeling exhausted (which is most of the time) I chug another diet cola, get a new caffeine fix, and motor-on.

Flu is everywhere. It’s the season for flu. So I don’t think it strange when I wake up one morning feeling like I’ve come down with a “bug.” It’s a pain, but a minor inconvenience, not a devastating catastrophe. I curl up on my couch under my favorite quilt and resolve to endure a week of misery. But you know how flu is. As the day wears on I begin to feel worse until it feels like everything in my stomach is about to hurl, so I run for a bathroom. That’s the last thing I remember until I wake up on my bathroom floor lying in a pool of my own blood.

I’m laying there trying to figure out how bad I’m hurt. What happened and why does my face feel like I’ve been kicked by a mule?

I holler for help so a family member can call 911. Minutes later paramedics are putting me in the back of an ambulance and I am on my way to an emergency room at a local hospital.

a storm that terrifiesAfter three days of running tests my doctors come to my room to share their results. Starched white coats with grim faces and official looking clipboards begin to paint me a picture black and bleak.

They tell me of the health issues they believe I am facing.

Their findings were all based on erroneous information but that will only come into the light—later.

My doctors get it all wrong but in the meanwhile…

Me? I’m doing my best to listen and not freak out!

I try to listen hard to what these men are saying, but their “conclusions” don’t fit with the facts that I’m remembering and the evidence on my face.

In addition I am missing the most important thing I need. I don’t have the “inner peace” I depend upon when making life-altering decisions.

These doctors are telling me I need to begin a drug therapy program immediately, but when I ask them about side effects, they freely admit these drugs will cause great harm if they are the “wrong” stuff.

So I tell my doctors, “I have to pray about this.”

They just stare back at me in stunned silence. These men are used to being obeyed without question. They do not take it well when I tell them, “No, I will pray first—then we will talk about what to do.”

They argue with me but I stand my ground. They threaten dire consequences but I stand my ground. They storm out in anger but I am still holding on to my ground!

I want to talk to God FIRST.

In the middle of my storm I reach for the Gideon Bible next to the bed, trying my best not to panic.

Praying  a desperate prayer I say, “God I am in DEEP trouble. I don’t know what to believe. You HAVE to show me what to do—and I mean RIGHT NOW!”

I don’t usually talk to God like that, but when you’re caught in a TERRIFYING storm flowery prayers are the last thing on your mind!

After I prayed I opened the Bible to Isaiah 51 and this is what I read,

a closer walk“I, even I, am He who comforts you… so what right have you to fear mere mortal men, who wither like the grass and disappear? And yet you have no fear of God, your Maker? ~ You have forgotten Him, the One who spread the stars throughout the skies and made the earth. Will you be in constant dread of men’s oppression, and fear their anger all day long? Soon, soon you slaves shall be released; dungeon, starvation, and death ARE NOT YOUR FATE.” [Isaiah 51:12-14Isaiah 51:12-14
English: World English Bible - WEB

12 I, even I, am he who comforts you: who are you, that you are afraid of man who shall die, and of the son of man who shall be made as grass; 13 and have forgotten Yahweh your Maker, who stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and fear continually all the day because of the fury of the oppressor, when he makes ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor? 14 The captive exile shall speedily be freed; and he shall not die and go down into the pit, neither shall his bread fail.

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I closed the Bible and said, “Okay God, that’s good enough for me.”

 

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