Thursday, April 2, 2015

When Everywhere You Turn There's Trouble

Hey Friend,

I lie in my bed and the slow whining begins.  I look at the clock and it's 4 am.  I know what's coming...the whining will continue until it crescendos into a full fledged agitated bark.  I try not to be angry or upset; after all, my senior gal Zoe just recently escaped a life threatening battle with severe pancreatitis.  She has doggie dementia and periods of agitated barking punctuate my day.  I know she can't help it.  I love her dearly, but it's hard to start each day this way.

Half asleep I get the coffee going and notice the ants are still here.  Under my breath, I curse them, "There's no crumbs here; go away!"  Four visits from the pest control company and we can't conquer these tiny giants.  I step on Topper's squeaky duck accidentally and, startled, I spill my coffee.  I wonder if he'll bring me a dead squirrel as a prize like he did the other day?

I robotically take my medicine for depression and ocd/anxiety that I have taken for many years.  Like Paul, I ask God many times to take away the thorn, but yet it remains.  Right now it (anxiety) is flaring due to exhaustion and stress. Pouring a bowl of cereal feels like climbing Mt. Everest on days like these.  I look at the long list of to do's for the day and sigh as I brush aside the dust that continues to build on my counters.

It's time to walk the dogs.  I slip one excruciating foot into my sneaker (the only shoes I can tolerate).  After months of waiting, the specialist told me I have a rare post-surgical nerve disorder that will require burning, freezing or cutting of the nerve.  None of the options sound fun.  My son texts me to tell me he's lost his temporary tooth (awaiting dental surgery).  He's at work so he asks me, please,  to make an appointment this morning to get him in at the dentist.  Of course I will have to drive him (another long story).  "Sure, I'll try," I say.

After juggling my schedule and dropping him back at work, I set in on my day's task of helping my "son-in-Christ" work on his resume.  I will make calls trying to help get him a life-saving work visa to get out of the epicenter of evil that is the Middle East.  He fears for his life because they are rounding up Christians, beating and torturing them, throwing them in jail for long sentences or killing them.  Every day he faces this evil and every day I tearfully try to turn my worry about him over to the Lord. 

Sure, I could go on...but do you ever have that feeling like everywhere you turn there's nothing easy, but only trouble?  It's the continual piling up of difficulties that leaves me feeling like I'm in quicksand and will never get out.  I'm afraid to look around the next corner for fear of what it might hold.  I feel small and helpless and afraid. 

"God calls us to hard places to prove our inadequacy."  (Shannan Martin)

I am a doer, a fixer, an initiator and God has brought my prideful self to a total place of inadequacy.

The one verse that keeps repeating in my head is 2 Corinthians 12:9:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

I know that the Lord is speaking here, but to whom is He speaking and why?  I go digging. 

Interestingly enough, in this passage, Paul is talking to the church in Corinth and he has just described asking the Lord to take away "this thorn in his flesh".  Like my ocd, Paul had something the Lord decided not to take away.  Instead the Lord says to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

If we are too self-sufficient, pride and conceit begin to build.  God is not glorified when man boasts of his own power and does things in his own strength.  No, God's power is made perfect in our weakness.

Paul goes on to say, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."

So why have I told you all my troubles?  Not for pity, but so that when God brings beauty from these ashes (and He will) that He will be glorified, not me.  Also, read the words "so that". I boast in my weakness so that Christ's power may rest on me.  My admitting my weakness, my inadequacy provides the ideal opportunity for the display of divine power.  Power comes when I admit my weakness.

When I reach the end of my self-sufficiency rope, it sends me running back into the arms of my Heavenly Father.

I come from a long line of stubbornness and I will try with all my might to do things in my power until I finally get to the end of my rope and there's nothing to grasp but thin air.  It is then, when I am weak and inadequate that I know I have no where else to go but to run into the arms of the Lord. 

It is in dependence and reliance on Him that I find strength and peace.

It is under His wings that I find my refuge...

This Easter I will find my strength and my adequacy in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.  The power with which He overcame the grave and the power with which He defeats evil once and for all is power that is given to me by His death on the cross.  The power is mine for the asking...I need only lay down my pride.

Dear Jesus, thank you for being my very present help in times of trouble.  Thank you that in my weakness you are strong; in my inadequacy, You are sufficient.  Thank you for always being there with open arms when I get to the end of myself.  Erase my pride so that I might glorify You.  Thank you for what you did for me on the cross.  I love you Lord. To you be the power and glory forever.  Amen.

Be blessed...

ps.  Please, please continue to pray that God would place a hedge of protection around the school and its director.  Religious tensions are beyond "high" right now.  The good news is that Muslims are becoming disillusioned by their faith and are asking to get their hands on "The Book" in order to read what it has to say about "Issa" (Jesus) and His very different message about love, grace, and forgiveness.  God is good and His message of love, not violence, will triumph!