This Could Be the Day!

As I considered a long-lost loved one – one about and for whom I have prayed many times, and one for whom the Lord has given me assurances over the years – the thought came to me, “This could be the day. I could get a phone call, or they might finally see their need for Savior Jesus and receive His love.  This could be the day!”

There was another time I lived in that state of expectation about the possibility that this could be the day.  My father, whose mental and physical health had deteriorated to the point that he needed to move to North Carolina to be closer to me, lived in Georgia and refused to consider the needed move.  From a hospital stay, he was moved to a rehab facility for no longer than six weeks.  He was adamant that he could return to his home and take care of himself, though the one who had been helping care for him (his older sister by twelve years) was leaving to receive help, herself.

I knew there was a definite end point to the wait; yet, it looked like an impossibility.  Legally, there was nothing I could do against his will.  As I struggled with worry and doubt, trying to figure out how it could ever happen, Holy Spirit encouraged me with something He promised me months before – that Dad would move.  I released the worry and trusted Him to do what only He could do, in ways I could not imagine.  From then on, I began each day with the thought that this could be the day for the phone call saying he had agreed.  I really believed it. At the end of the days when the call hadn’t come, I refused to be discouraged, despite the rapidly-approaching deadline.

Ancient olive tree continues to stand in Israel – through drought and war.

Sure enough, in the latter part of that 6-week stay in rehab, it was the day!  My aunt called to say that Dad had agreed to the move.  It had come in a way only God could have orchestrated, yet it had happened as He promised it would.

I am not aware of a definite time period in which this loved one must see and receive, but there ends the difference between the stories.  My God does not lie.  He is faithful and trustworthy.  I can trust Him with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding.  He loves this loved one more than I, and He knows all the intricacies in their personality and all the circumstances in their life.  By His Spirit, I have released any worry or doubt to Him.  Now, instead, I receive His peace as I thank Him in advance for what He is doing.  No matter how many days must pass until that time, I know this could be the day!

Lamentations 3:21-23  AMP  21 But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation: 22 It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not.  23 They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.

This could be the day for you, as well!

Well-Pleasing

I saw it last night.  It had been there all my life, but I never saw beyond the surface.  Before I say more, let me tell you what led up to it.

At the end of another episode of Undercover Boss, the boss was emotional as he reflected on the people with whom he had worked.  The common thread was family, more specifically parents or parenting.  After having reached out financially to help those specific people and their families, he went on to say he hoped his father, dead for many years, would be proud of what he was doing.

That reminded me of another frequently watched show at our house – this one on the Food Network, Chopped.  Almost without fail, one of the four people vying for the title of Chopped Champion tells the judges they want to win to make a parent proud, or to prove they really have value, basically.  In so many cases, though, the ones they want to make proud are no longer alive.

This has always bothered me – whether the target of their efforts is dead or alive.  Oh, that they might know how accepted, approved, and loved they are if they are in Christ.  That nothing they can do will ever bring them that sought-after approval until they receive Christ and His amazing love and forgiveness.

In reality, people who have died will never approve or disapprove of what someone does.  The only approval that matters is the Lord’s, yet it’s not a matter of performance that merits this longed-for approval.  Because we never could do life perfectly, we’ve been given one simple requirement – believe in and receive the finished work of the One He sent, the only One in Whom He is well-pleased.  In the perfection of Jesus Christ alone we are approved – not because of what we do or don’t do, but because “This is My beloved Son.  In Him I am well-pleased.”1

As we discussed this apparently widespread emotional problem at a Bible study, I saw it.  While I have always known, without a doubt, that my earthly father loved and was proud of me – not based on anything I did, I never saw it as a reflection of Jesus until now.  I spent many years wishing he had raised me in the Lord and His Word so I’d have had a better foundation early-on.  All along, his life revealed the unconditional love of my heavenly Father towards me.  Other than eyes to see, what more did I need?

Now my memories reveal what always existed.  In the very early years, when Dad happily included me in his outings.  As I stepped into adulthood with my arm through his as he prepared to walk me down the aisle.  Even in the nursing home, as he beamed with pride and told anyone in the vicinity, “This is my daughter!”  It had nothing to do with what I did, and everything to do with my being his.  Accepted.  Approved.  Loved.  Without condition.

What an amazing glimpse into how my heavenly Daddy feels about me! It makes me shout with praise and thanksgiving to the One Who loves me so much that He adopted, approves of, and is well-pleased with me – in Christ – as He beams with pride and says, “That’s My daughter!”

1 Matthew 3:17, 17:5, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22, 2 Peter 1:17

The Spark For My Party

I was in the middle of a big party.  Actually, it was a party gone too far – from pity-party to temper tantrum – all because of some physical issues in my body.  Right in the midst of all the tears and rants toward my Daddy, I was shown an old, yet vivid, snapshot of a precious dog named Sparky.  Why was the Lord reminding me of him now?  If I share the specifics, maybe it will make sense to both of us.

Sparky was a full-grown cock-a-poo (more cock than poo) when I rescued him from the side of a busy thoroughfare.  With a long, barrel-shaped chest and short legs, he was never a swimmer (too much body and too little legs).  As a healthy younger dog, that was not an issue, since he avoided the pool unless he sat on the float with me – one of our favorite pastimes.  With aging, however, came blindness from cataracts and strokes that left him unbalanced in his walk.  Because he usually confined himself to a small area in the fenced backyard, though, we continued to let him out on his own for short periods of time.

One morning, we got busy with other things and forgot about Sparky after we let him out.  When we remembered, we panicked when he wasn’t waiting at the door.  Though fearing the worst, we were greatly relieved to find him sitting on the top step of the pool.  Thankful, though filled with thoughts of what could have happened, we rushed to retrieve, dry, and reassure Sparky, but we were really the ones who needed the reassuring.

Sparky wasn’t frantically trying to get out of the pool by that step, a useless endeavor with his short legs.  He wasn’t trying everything else he could think of to save himself.  Nor was he even barking to attract our attention.  No, with complete peace, he simply sat on that step enjoying the morning sun, waiting patiently, fully assured that we would be there for him.

Ephesians 3:19 AMP  [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience];

Right now, I needed to think about why Sparky had such peace in what should have been a frightening situation.  It was the love we had shown in his previous trials.  How much greater is my heavenly Father’s love for me in the trial I face right now!  How much greater can my peace be!  I will only wear myself out trying to fix my situation.  But God!  From previous experience with His love and His Word, I am assured that He is always with me and is my rest!

2 Timothy 1:12 KJV . . . for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

I’d love to say the struggle is over, but it’s not.  It’s an ongoing process as He gently leads me from a head understanding to a heart revelation, without being troubled by my slowness.  I even asked why I’m not yet in that rest, even though I see what He’s revealed.  Lovingly, He pointed out that Sparky wasn’t staring at the step he couldn’t climb, nor the water in which he could have drowned.  His gaze was above the circumstances.  How simple.  My focus needs to be on Jesus, regardless of symptoms.  When I look for His face, I find His all-sufficient grace for my time of need.

Thank You, Lord, for Your all-sufficient grace and unconditional love for me!  Thank You, also, for sending Sparky to my party!

Just One Ingredient

What a difference a year makes!  A year ago, I had a procedure (endoscopy) in which the doctor looked into my small intestine, took some pictures and a biopsy, and confirmed the results of an earlier blood test for celiac disease.  In brief, this is an autoimmune disease that can go on for years without being diagnosed, in which vitamins, nutrients, etc., are not absorbed properly, if at all.  If it continues without diagnosis and treatment, it can cause many seemingly unrelated problems throughout a person’s body.

It was one thing to find out what was at the root of my problems.  It was another to know that the only treatment (not cure) is eliminating gluten completely from my diet.  Some of my symptoms had gotten bad enough that the thought of changing my diet to get relief was a welcome one.  When I realized how drastically everything concerning my food had to be changed immediately, however, the welcome turned into being overwhelmed!

Fast forward to the present.  Because of so much information available on the internet, as well as several well-written books I have read, I’ve learned much of the language of a gluten-free world.  I’ve learned how to navigate menus and ingredient lists, and to be assertive for my health in restaurants.  I still have to think about what I will eat ahead of time, since I can’t snack on just anything anymore, but that is my normal now.  What a difference a year makes!

Better even than the adjustment to a new way of eating, the major improvement in my health is wonderful!  The majority of symptoms I had listed as being related to the celiac disease have improved or completely resolved.  Other things I just considered “Kay quirks” have also improved since the gluten was eliminated.  Taking just one ingredient out of my diet has put my physical health on a path of improvement.  The longer I’m on that path, the greater my health.

Despite all the symptoms by the time of diagnosis, I could have decided it was too hard to make the required changes.  I could have continued eating as always, causing a decreased quality of life, as well as lifespan.  It really wasn’t much of a decision, as radical as it was, because just getting the diagnosis was God’s first answer to my prayers.  I had needed His grace in the midst of not knowing what was happening in my body, and I needed His grace now to live this new lifestyle.  As promised, His grace has been sufficient.  Now I can see the physical healing that I could only hope for a year ago.  Now I can see what He knew when we started on this path.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

I was only asked to give up one ingredient.  Just one.  But what a difference doing without that one ingredient has made in my life.  How much improvement has resulted, including the time I possibly gained to continue sharing the love of Jesus with others!  I need to remember this the next time Daddy points to something in my life that needs changing.

The Freedom of His Word

photo by Claudia Meyer, Paris

There was a time, many years ago, when I thought I was praying in earnest for someone who had some real problems.  Not only did she have problems, but she created problems for many in our congregation.  I understood enough about prayer not to focus on the symptoms that were obvious to all.  I wanted to know the root cause – why she acted like she did – knowing that the symptoms would leave when the root was removed.  When I asked the Lord to show me the root, His answer surprised me.

God responded to my question with a question. “What will you do with that information?”  With that simple question, He did show me a bad root – but it was in me.  He knew I would misuse the information I asked of Him.  Unbeknownst to me, I didn’t want to help this sister in her need, but to share the information with others as a prayer concern (aka gossip).  Any prayer that would have taken place as a result of my sharing this insight would have been tainted because of my wrong motive.

Gossip wasn’t the only problem here.  My motivation in praying for this woman wasn’t to help her at all.  I just wanted her to stop being such a problem for me and others in my congregation.  My motives were totally selfish and self-serving!  I had looked at her actions and attitudes only through my eyes of flesh, not through God’s eyes of unconditional love and desire to heal and deliver her into His freedom through Christ.

John 8:32 AMP  And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.

You know, the Lord never told me the root of that woman’s problem, for it wasn’t the truth I needed to know.  Instead, He told me the Truth I needed to know, that which needed to be worked into my life at that moment, so that I could begin to walk in His greater freedom for me!  Walking in the freedom of this Truth, I am now able to pray for others that the Truth might also set them free.