Thursday, April 25, 2013

God Loves You and Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life

“God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” is the refrain of modern evangelism. Know someone who is unhappy or suffering? The answer to your problems is Christ, so the modern church says if you accept Christ all your troubles will go away. Not surprisingly, many get discouraged when they find this untrue, and turn away (those who weren’t truly called of God).  So many times Christ is presented to the unsaved as a cure all. Scripture tells us that as believers, God does love us. For the unbeliever, the Bible is clear that God’s wrath abides upon them.

While it is true that if we are truly His, He provides us an escape from the punishment to come, by having taken the punishment of our sins upon Himself, can we say that all who know Jesus will have a “wonderful life”? What does the Bible have to say about this subject? Jesus told us to expect the world to hate us and persecute us, as it hated and persecuted Him (John 15:18-20). We can be assured that in this life troubles will come. Just because we bear the name of Christ does not mean we will never experience hardship, pain, sadness, etc. James 1:2-4 tells us “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

So, what does change when we are followers of Jesus Christ? Does God have a wonderful plan for the life of a believer? ABSOLUTELY!! But, let me explain. For starters, it is a matter of defining our terms. Recalling the story of Joseph in Genesis, he tells his brothers that what they did to him (sold him into slavery), they meant for evil; but God intended it for good (Joseph was used to deliver God’s people).

As we come to know God and His word more fully, we come to realize that our perception of things is not correct. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us not to lean on our own understanding. We cannot trust what our hearts might tell us is “good” or “wonderful”. How do we come to know the difference? Psalm 111:10 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  For starters, we learn more about God by reading His word. While we may never understand fully all that we are called to endure, we can trust that all we go through will be for His glory and our good. As we come to trust in Him, we find that even in the midst of suffering we have joy. Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is an emotion that is fleeting as it relies on having good feelings from events in our life. Joy, on the other hand, is something that is rooted in Christ. We have joy because we are saved from the wrath to come, not because things are going well today. Our joy is not based on what we have or what we are going through, BUT it is found in who God is, and He does not change. Our joy is rooted in the fact that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39), all the trials, sufferings and pain we have in this life are but a temporary light that is soon extinguished. Will you spend this time feeling sorry for yourself that your life doesn’t live up to your expectations of  “wonderful” or will you cling to Jesus Christ and His word and allow these circumstances to mold you more into His image. Will you allow Him to give you true, lasting joy and stop seeking a temporary happiness?

What is really at the heart of the matter is what our understanding of “wonderful” is.  As sinful humans we think the world revolves around us. We strive to make ourselves happy. We seek praise and attention. When we come to a correct understanding that we are not the center of the world; God is to be the center.  Life is not all about us. It is the chief end of man to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. When we exalt ourselves to try to take His place, we can strive all we want for “happiness”, but will find it elusive and fleeting. It is God and God alone who deserves the praise.  As long as our eyes our focused on ourselves and our problems instead of Christ, we cannot begin to understand that our lives are indeed wonderful!

If we are His and can grasp that this life is not about us, but about Him-serving Him, bringing glory to Him-we will know that God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Remember Me?

Been a long time since I posted anything. So much has happened in regards to my health. Here is a quick run down on what has been happening.

The predisone caused many difficult side effects, and I am slowly getting back to my old self now that I am no longer taking it. My insurance has approved the long term medication and I should start my IVIG infusion at the end of next week. We are hopeful that this will help.

Also, I received another grant from the Challenged Athletes Foundation to purchase a rowing machine. This is a HUGE blessing, as it paid for everything except $9. The timing could not be more perfect, as the doctor is really wanting me to work my upper body and lose some weight.

The Lord has continually proven Himself faithful through each day. He shows His love for me through family and friends. I am so grateful for each prayer, each word of encouragement. There have been so many low days these past couple of months, and at times it seems hard to trust that He is with me, but in God's perfect timing, and with His still, small voice; He gently shows me that He is right here.

Be encouraged! Even in the midst of suffering, if you are truly His, "He will not leave you nor forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6). Whatever you might be going through, no matter how difficult and dark the days seem, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths." We cannot trust our own understanding, that would tell us we are alone in our struggles, that no one cares, that this will last forever and we cannot handle our circumstances. But when we trust and acknowledge the Lord, He will direct our paths. This may not be the path we would have chosen, but it will be the paths directed by the Lord. We can take comfort knowing that He is with us, guiding us, and molding us more into the image of His Son along the way!

What are you going through today? Are you trusting in Him or leaning on your own understanding?

Have a great day! Hope to write a little more often now that I am feeling better :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Unexpected Events

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. Many of you know that I went to visit a good friend in Virginia last week. The day before I left to return home (Saturday) I woke up with some blistering on my left leg. I decided to go to urgent care since I can't feel that leg, and was on immunosuppressants, and I didn't know what caused it. Turns out it was cellulitis (infection of the deeper layers of skin), due to the Prednisone weakening my immune system. So I started on an antibiotic.

Sunday morning I got up early and packed up to head to the OPC church about 3 hours from where I was staying, to visit another friend on my way home. We had a nice visit and lunch. I started not feeling so well following the meal. After getting back on the road, I was feeling even worse-dizzy, headache, and felt pressure in my chest. I stopped at a CVS, and while there I decided to take my blood pressure, which was 175/110. I asked the pharmacist for directions to the local ER (My hubby is not happy that I did not call 911, but I did have the foresight not use cruise control just in case I should pass out and the car would keep going). I ended up being admitted and having a bunch of testing. My heart is basically healthy, the high blood pressure is also a side effect of the Prednisone  which I AM HAPPY TO REPORT--I officially finished as of yesterday! (unfortunately, it can take a couple of months for the side effects to subside.)

As God would have it, I stayed in the hospital near the church I visited, so the new friends I had lunch with, were able to stop in and sit with me, and the local pastor came and prayed with us too. I love the way the body of Christ works. No matter where we travel, we are not outside of God's control. He orchestrated every detail so that people at a sister church would be there to help out, got Chad out to Virginia to drive home with me, and even provided Christians on the hospital staff that prayed with me. We may not know each other and live miles apart, but we are all united in Christ.

In my morning reading today, the commentary on Exodus chapter 2 said, "There are no accidents or chance happenings in a world presided over by the living God. There are times when everything appears to be going wrong for us but, despite everything, God is working out His purposes." How true and how comforting! I obviously would not have expected or planned for the ending I had to my vacation, but how amazed I continue to be by God's grace. My friendship has been deepened with those who came to my aid in Charlottesville. My faith has been strengthened by the outpouring of love from the body of Christ. God has continued to strengthen me, and for that I am utterly grateful. Once again I am humbled and in awe of how amazing our God is!

So, as an update for everyone, I am following up with my family doctor on Friday afternoon. I was told I should see a cardiologist, so I will see if he would like to refer me to one. My follow up with the neurologist was yesterday, and I am currently waiting to see if the insurance is going to cover the medication that he would like me on long term. Please pray that this process may be quick and be approved. I do know that God is ultimately in control of this as well, and am willing to accept whatever He has in store. I continue to pray that His will would be done and not mine, and that He would continue to enable me to deal with all that I am going through. I couldn't do this without Him. I am thankful for all my faithful friends who regularly pray for me. You are so truly appreciated!!