Friday, November 27, 2009

Do Not Fear...

I am ashamed to confess that although I have walked with the Lord since childhood, I am prone to fear. The trigger for the worse case scenarios that unfold in my imagination is the incomprehensible nature of the evil that can happen, the evil that I read about in the newspaper; the evil that sometimes strikes uncomfortably close to home.

When I shift my gaze from the Lord in order to look at the horror and grief that has happened to other of God's children, Holy Spirit flow stops. I can't see the Lord while I'm empathizing with their pain, and I then lapse to fear for myself and those I love.

When fear is motivating my prayers, the pressure to remain completely open and obedient to the Holy Spirit's guidance becomes intense. I begin to see myself as being in control of whether my own life events and those of people I love unfold for good or for evil. In this state of mind, I believe that I must remain perfectly vigilant (perfectly perfect); because if I fail to hear God's guidance then horrible things might happen.

This idea is based on a fallacy, and the fallacy is the concept that there can be an accident.

Before we are ever created, before God pulls back the bow and shoots us forth, He knows our path exactly. If He chooses to send us forward on a given trajectory, then everything along that path occurs according to His predestined plan; and at the end is glory.

Evil is an aberration, a tear rent in time and space by original sin; but it is not an accident. There is nothing random about the Lord’s control of our lives. God has incorporated into His perfect plan even those horrible events that would have destroyed us if it were not for Christ, so that the weaving of our lives is made more beautiful by those very things Satan intended for our harm. “No weapon forged against you will prevail…” (see Isaiah 54:17).

It is almost amusing that I am able to partake of God's amazing provision for my mother and our family through these five years since her diagnosis with Alzheimer's disease, but at the same time lapse to fear about the possibility of Other Horrible Things. In my perspective, Mom's Alzheimer's hasn't been terrible. We've come through because of God's provision for us, and I can say honestly that His yoke has been easy, His burden light.

I remember a friend whose three-year-old son died suddenly. I walked through this event with her in the Spirit, interceding for her through a darkness of grief when she was plagued with nightmares and tears. One day during that time I was visiting with her and she said, with a kind of amazed honesty, "You know, this hasn't really been that bad." We laughed together out of the shared understanding that the Lord had proven Himself to be sovereign over her terrible loss, and had provided for her through it.

Why, when I've partaken of the Lord's provision so freely through one of the most difficult times of my own life (Mom's Alzheimer's), do I continue to lapse to fear? "I shall fear no evil FOR THOU ART WITH ME" (see Psalm 23:4). With wonderful confidence in His own perfect power and sovereignty over the worse that the enemy can bring, God says, "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). This is my life verse, I have it written on the wall of my bedroom; I often awaken with those words in my mind.

I'm praying today to release my fears and to walk forward with confidence. Our God is with us! We don't have to give way to the despair of fear for the future BECAUSE HE IS WITH US!

Scripture: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" —which means, "God with us" (Matthew 1:23).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

No Accidents

I have a small library of often read books, old friends whose content I know is safe and comforting. These include the Mitford books by Jan Karon, the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, all of James Herriot's books, and a few other volumes whose careworn covers show that they are to me as a favorite stuffed toy is to a child.

These books are scattered through the house and I usually grab one of them to keep my mind engaged while I'm drying my hair each morning. Today I read a passage in one of these books that landed as healing balm over the aching places in my careworn heart. I don't remember which book it was in, so I'll paraphrase it here: The fact is, nothing that happens to a child of God happens by accident.

I knew that. Really, I did. But seeing it in black and white helped me today.

No relationship is safe but the relationship we share with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There is no safe harbor apart from Him. Those we love will let us down, even those who love us the most and who are most dependable. They fall prey to human frailty, perhaps through becoming so involved in their own pain that they can't see ours, or through betrayal, or they get Alzheimer's disease. Other people will abandon, betray, fall prey to sin or disease...and sometimes they die and leave us all alone.

But nothing happens apart from God's will.

God loves me perfectly. He is able to use even those circumstances that seem disastrous to me to bless me. I can trust Him for myself and I can entrust those I love into His capable Hands. He won't let me down. He won't let them down. He can be depended upon to bring forth beauty and blessing from the ashes of human failure and disappointment.

Father God, bless and protect those we love today. We praise Your Name.

Scripture: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Checking In

My life has been very busy and stressful these past few weeks as I publicize My Mom Has Alzheimer's: Inspiration and Help for Caregivers. I honestly did not understand, when I'd completed writing the book and had found a publisher, that my job was not done! Two book signings, a newspaper interview, and two radio interviews later, I am somewhat wiser and very tired. I much prefer the writing to the publicizing.

This afternoon Lloyd Hildebrand, CEO of Bridge Logos Foundation (the company that published my book) interviewed me at Blogtalk Radio. You can hear the interview by clicking the link in the side bar to the right.

Lest any of this goes to my head, my mother set me straight the other night. She called me on my cell phone (the instructions for making this call are taped to her phone) and said, "We need to get someone in here from housekeeping to clean up this mess the cat made on the floor."

Since I'm the nearest thing to housekeeping staff that Mother has, a few minutes later I was on my hands and knees scrubbing aforementioned mess.

The Lord knows how to keep us humble!