This post is not one of my normal writings. This last week has been extremely rough, with trials knocking me flat. And yet, this week has been one of the most beautiful times for me, as moments of GRACE from the hand of my Jesus have slipped in around me all unaware.
And I would like to invite you in, to have a glimpse at the ways that Jesus met me and led me deeper into convictions and further in to His moments of giving and receiving.
Come along with me, for a week of small graces that changed my heart:
When I published my last post on Endless Lack or Holy Fullness, another dear blogger, Melissa McLaughlin, also published a post that same day, entitled “One Thing You lack.” You can click here to read her beautiful complementing and convicting post gifted from God. Later that day I began to enter into a very deep and painful RA flare. As the flare progressed on Tuesday, all of my typing ability was taken away, and the “rule-follower” in me had to admit that one thing I still lack: I cannot pridefully follow all the rules, I cannot keep up with all that I think is required of me. He took His conviction deeper in me, to show me yet again that Jesus is my only GRACE. And so my responses to your beautiful comments were delayed last week. But only so that HIS beautiful grace could be seen even more deeply in my heart. As He slowly began restoring strength, and relieving pain, I longed to enter more fully into those convictions, to depend more deeply on His Strength alone, to see less of my own pride ruling my days.
On the day I published “Endless Lack or Holy Fullness,” and my blogging friend wrote her post on “One Thing You Lack,” my dear friend Joy Lenton sent out a heartfelt post about surrendering all of our words and creativity to God’s design. You can read her beautiful post by clicking here. The Lord was sending ways to prepare for the days that would be spread out in front of me. When the pain hit, and I could not respond to those comments, when I could not find energy to even thank the dear one who had linked my post, God was opening the way for me to more fully surrender all of my days and strength to Him.
When the pain and inflammation knocked me flat, He reminded me of prayers offered by my young Granddaughters only days before. They had called to tell me that they felt Jesus in their heart saying that Grandma would be healed. And when the enemy came in like a flood to accuse me of ruining the faith of those precious young ones, as I lay covered in a pain that looked nothing like healing, Jesus interrupted the attack to remind me of what TRUE faith looks like.
He sent me back to the post I had written earlier this summer, when the Resurrection Lilies spoke a picture to me of the faith that had carried my brother through his struggle with an ugly cancer. “He won his battle with cancer,” I had written of his home-going to Heaven. Hope stirred in my heart as Jesus whispered to me that TRUE faith holds onto the promises of Jesus that lead us to full healing, of which every healing on earth is a reflection of the most perfect wholeness that awaits over there.
But the days of weakness did not stop, and I longed for more grace to see how Jesus could possibly be dwelling in my own cut-off and slowed-down days. As I was able to pick up my tablet for short amounts of time, I read the words of another dear blogger, Tammy L. Mashburn, as she so tenderly encouraged us to renew the gift of hand-writing letters to those we care about. You can read her post by clicking here. Another memory was stirred then, as Jesus led me to look for the stacks of letters from family members that my Mother had painstakingly preserved through the years. I easily found the box, and there on top lay a letter from the very brother who had won his battle, and was now at home with Jesus. This letter was the first one he had written home to my parents in 1967, when he moved away to attend Bible College. And here was his first mention of the girl who would become his wife–she who had won her own hard-fought battle with cancer and followed him to Heaven not many years after he went. More evidence of TRUE faith was being displayed before my eyes and my heart.
As my weakness continued, but my hope was being renewed, I sealed up that old letter and addressed it to be sent to my brother’s daughter. Perhaps God would encourage her as He had encouraged me. And while I was praying for my family, I suddenly longed to speak with my other brother. His youngest son had been injured in a horrible accident the week before, and I could not wait any longer to hear an update on how he was doing. Thank God, prayers were being answered, and my nephew was able to sit up and eat a meal for the first time on that very day, my brother told me. But when I wanted to pray with my brother, he could not understand what I was saying. His own loss of hearing, and my weakened voice were not a good combination. The more I tried to shout, the more my voice could only waver. We finally said “I love you,” and hung up. I cried bitter tears, as I so longed to pray with him.
In the middle of that call, my dear friend Anna had sent me a quote from the book she was reading. How could the words have been planned to so perfectly match the cry in my heart:
“God does not offer us a map so much as a promise to guide us on the journey. Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God reminds His people that though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”
And lest I think that all of these things were not truly God’s way opening before me, He sent one more confirmation, through yet another praying friend, Lisa Enqvist. You can visit her site by clicking here. Lisa knows well the struggle of dealing with RA, as she has walked this path for over 30 years. And when she says she will pray, I know that she understands what it feels like, and prays from a heart of compassion. She had sent me the title of a hymn that we both had loved, “Burdens are lifted at Calvary,” and my heart melted at the beauty of my Lord’s care for me. But further down on the YouTube feed for that song, was the very song that was the “trademark” song for my brother and sister-in-law who are now with Jesus. Over their many years of traveling with ministries and missions, this song was the one they both sang together in perfect harmony. It was the one that made me wish I could sing with them when I was young:
At the end of these several days, as I pondered all of the ways that Jesus had led me along His pathway of following with open eyes, I wondered whether He was asking me to tell about His gifts. Could it be that He would want me to share all of these small little bits in the life of someone who feels more like a “shut-in” than a “warrior” on many days?
I opened one more blog post, and there, in the precious words of a dear warrior who is facing his own ugly battle with cancer, Andrew Budek-Schmeisser, expressed those same thoughts that I know my brother lived: he will win the fight with cancer when he crosses that finish line with Jesus. You can read his post by clicking here.
Oh, my dear friends, so many of you have been part of my encouragement this week. Others that I have not mentioned here, have been just as vital to my heart’s comfort.
And Jesus wants to meet each one of you, reading this today, with those same kinds of small graces. Whenever we hear His call, whenever we respond to His convictions, He will make sure that the way is open for us to follow. He will make sure that we see the next step that will plant His truth more firmly in our hearts.
Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:20-21 NIV
While I may not be able to shout loud enough for you to hear me on the phone, I know that our prayers are heard by the ONE who is always listening. I would love to pray for you today:
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for Your convictions that lead us to Godly sorrow. Thank You that You always make the way open for us to turn and to walk with You. Thank You that whatever we lack, You have the true fullness that we need. I pray for my friends today who long to hear from You. Will You speak their names, and show them the grace step that is set before them even now? Will You gently lead them on their own trail of small graces that will open their hearts to more of You? We praise You Lord for the mercy that is showered upon us because of Your gift of love.
In Your Name we pray,
May we truly be blessed with a Thankful Heart this week, as we watch for God’s small and large graces to be scattered throughout our days.
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