My dear friend Sharon thinks my life is an amazing and exciting adventure. She has to check in at least once a week to keep up on what God is doing with me. I told her this life could be anyone’s life. It is all in how you look at it. I could have written the story much like most people feel and it would go something like this. “Life is not fair, look what that jerk did to me, I don’t have time to go visit an old woman who has little to say, why do I have to endure all these trials.” But instead, I looked for the nuggets of wonder and as Sharon says “the treasures” that the Lord brings when our eyes are on Him. Here is a simple story about a day in the life of two ordinary people who trust Jesus.
In the midst of chaos, persecution, defamation of character and threat, God can do some of His best work. We just have to do our part which is to let Him fight the battle and be obedient to what He puts in our path.
While reading from my favorite devotionals, Utmost for His Highest and Streams in the Desert, I was inspired and comforted by several thoughts. “If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a number of experiences to make you useful in His hands and to enable you to understand what takes place in the lives of others. Suffering is a way that allows God to stamp out our personal ambitions and supernaturally implant His desires in us.” Utmost for His Highest Apparently I was about to be used by God. There was plenty of suffering going on.
“Grain must be ground to make bread. Isiah 28:28” “Being a blessing of His often requires sorrow on our part. Things that are most precious to us today have come to us through tears and pain. Difficulties challenge our energy and our perseverance but bring the strongest qualities of the soul to life. God has chosen opposition as a catalyst to our faith and holy service. To burn brightly, our lives must first experience the flame.” Streams in the Desert Apparently it was necessary to be ground in the teeth of lions in order to make the bread to feed His children. The most prominent characters in the Bible were broken, threshed and ground into broken bread for the hungry. There was absolutely no reason for me to complain. I was being prepared to feed the hungry.
But God, I cried, what about all this persecution, what about all these false accusations? Then a gentle voice reminded me what they did to Jesus. “Combat comes before victory. If God has chosen special trials for you to endure, be assured He has kept a very special place in His heart for you. A badly bruised soul is one who is chosen.” Streams in the Desert
Then God brought to mind my favorite events from the Old Testament. He invites us to command Him to act. His power is available to us just for the asking. Joshua used it in the moment of his greatest victory when the sun stood still long enough to achieve the victory. (Joshua 10:12). Elijah used it when he stopped the rain for 3 ½ years.
And so I prayed for God’s power and intervention in my daily challenges. He knew the truth and He saw the deception. “At the cross, Jesus scorned its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2. In that instant it was easy to trust Him for the outcome. God says “Strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” Hebrews 12:12-13
A confident calm came over me. God’s promises were claimed as mine. His power was available to me in the asking. It was time to minister to others and so I went for a visit to a friend. But first I went to the grocery as I knew her cupboards would be bare and she loved my cooking.
I arrived with a cooler full of food. She was sitting on her front porch. She opened with the bold statement that she had tried to smother herself a few days before. We discussed the moods that created such blackness where she felt she had no hope but to end the pain.
We talked about the atrocities she experienced at the hands of her father when she was a young girl. She told me that her mother was aware of what the father was doing but never came to her rescue. She covered her face with her hands and began to cry as she told me about the time when her mother set fire to the curtains hoping to burn down the house. This is when she entered foster care. This is when she wound up in a mental hospital because no one believed her and she just wanted to end the pain.
And in that moment, I reflected on my devotional reading. God was using an experience in my own life to show me what it is like when the truth is not believed or remembered. I looked into her eyes and told her that I believed her and I understood how a lifetime of abuse and abandonment could take its toll. It was not a simple matter of “think happy thoughts.” It was a matter of someone else believing her and having compassion. And then I reflected on the power of God when we ask. I brought my devotional to her house and I read to her the very words I had read that morning. Her wall of Jericho was the fear from her life of abuse and abandonment. My job was to pray her through.
But first she needed help to use the bathroom. Since my new job involves a special focus on these sorts of things and I knew her 27 medications caused constipation, I pretended she was my client and I asked when she last had a BM. It was long enough ago that we both realized today might be the day that she had to drink the dreaded prune juice. Oh how she hated prune juice. So as I helped her to the bathroom, I paused for a moment and I prayed for a BM. She got the funniest look on her face and she said, “Guess what!” Sometimes God answers our prayers instantly. Especially when we go to Him for our every need!
We went back to the porch and I took her hands to pray. “Lord free Ruby from the pain of her past. We trust you to deal with her parents who have now had to answer to you for what they did to their child. Lord I ask you to renew Ruby’s mind and fill it with your love and assurance that she is your child and you will be there for her every moment of every day. When she has dark thoughts, Lord I pray she comes to you. Cast out the thoughts planted by the evil one and instill in Ruby your joy. In Jesus’ name we ask these things. Amen.” She said she felt so much better. I reminded her to reach out in prayer whenever these thoughts took over.
We had lunch and I was so glad I cooked before I came for the visit. I would be hard pressed to make a smoothie with the contents of her refrigerator – prune juice, sour cream and mayonnaise. Hmmm… I can do a lot with a little but I don’t think those ingredients would have a good ending.
There are many things not right in the world and sometimes our circumstances are distressing, but on that day Ruby and I chose to make the very best with what we had. We laughed and I listened. I shared the abundance of what I had to give. We prayed and put it all in God’s hands and He was well pleased.
“Nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 NIV
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 NIV
“Everything is possible for him who believes.” Mark 9:23 NIV
“No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” Matthew 19:26 MSG