Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Today started out like an ordinary day... I was feeling a little sluggish and behind in my morning schedule. You know, not quite ready to start the school day and all the chores... not dreading it, exactly, but not looking forward to it either. I sent birthday greetings to two friends on Facebook and found my ex-step-sisters and their families... in general, I was procrastinating working out and schoolday prep that needed to be done before the kids were up and school started. I admit I was feeling a little selfish and just wishing I could sit and write, have an extra cup of coffee, maybe read a little, maybe workout for a whole hour and simply not deal with teaching, disciplining, instructing, training, feeding, cleaning, cooking, bill paying, and so on. I wasn't excited about a few phone calls I needed to make, either. Whatever I was, I was not "doing my work heartily as to the Lord and not to men..." But I got up, spent what little time I'd left myself doing some stretching, ab exercises, and those maddeningly difficult 'advanced' judo push-ups, and got ready for the day.

Around 8:00, I had settled into Aria's reading lesson while waiting on Nate to finish up in the bathroom. Just as we were finishing, the telephone rang. As is my schooltime habit, I let the machine get it and heard the voice of an old friend whom I had not heard from in a while on the other end. Something in her tone told me to pick it up, so I did. I was in for a shift in perspective.

She had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She had surgery on August 19, and she was gracious enough in the midst of this heart wrenching trial to think of me halfway across the state and take the time to call and tell me personally. She had an amazing tale of God's provision of wisdom, help, and strength. He is there with her, very palpably with her, through this and her faith amazed and humbled me. Because of His guidance, the cancer was caught early and the prognosis is good. She is continuing to homeschool her children despite having chemotherapy treatments starting next month. She sounded incredibly positive and steady and as even-keeled as ever. I wanted to cry, then I wanted not to cry when she was not. I wanted to laugh that she has such a good attitude. I wanted to hang my head in shame that I had been so caught up in ridiculous self-serving thoughts just moments before. I wanted to get on my knees and beg forgiveness from God for not trusting Him in my petty, little trials. I wanted to praise Him for preserving her life and for helping me to remember that all things, all trials, all troubles will someday pass away. Thank You, God, for Lori and I pray that You will protect her heart through all of this and that she will be around to bless us all for many more years.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

In the Light

As you may know, I have been troubled for years by roller-coaster emotions which coincide with physical symptoms. (Admittedly, the rollercoaster metaphor is an ugly cliche but it is still a good analogy because I often find myself screaming maniacally on the "downs!" ) At any rate, in the throes of this chemical fluctuation I have more and more often felt burdened by my own sinfulness and despair of ever attaining to a righteousness that is evident in my life both within and without. More and more I have felt trapped by selfish desires which seem to elude every effort to leave them at my Master's feet. I have felt that I am failing in trusting Him completely, failing in complete surrender... failing as a follower of Christ. These things, among others, torment me during the "downs" of my cyclical psychosis. My one desire, developed keenly during these trying years, is to live quietly and at peace, continually aware of my Father's presence throughout even the mundane points of each day and to wake every morning with praise to Him in my heart. It is during the storms that I long for this most; it is during the storms that I seem to lose sight of Him and fall into despondency.

It was during the latest and most vile of these low times that I began the daily reading of 1 John. At first, the exhortations to walk in the Light and walk as He walked only added to my sense of gloom. I would weep before my Father, begging His pardon and asking Him to give me only enough faith to even ask, believing, for greater faith! I would also rail against Him, angrily wondering why He made me thus and why I had a free will when I am so clearly not responsible enough for it. My anger made me question whether I was even His, I was so disrespectful and arrogant in attitude. Slowly, He began to quiet my inner storm and to make me aware of Him reading along with me, whispering to me to take note of what I was overlooking.

As I read, with His guidance I realized that if I was not walking in His Light, I would not even be aware of the extent of my sin. By walking more closely with Him, even the faintest stains are exposed in glaring contrast to His absolute purity. The proper attitude of my heart should be thanksgiving for the cleansing power of Jesus' blood which has allowed me, sinner that I am, to stand so near, to have fellowship with Him at all. Rather than being consumed with sorrow over my sins, I am better served to put them entirely out of mind. It would be best to remove my focus from myself and place it onto Him, where it solidly belongs. This was lovingly pointed out as I read 1 John 3:19-20, "By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him, for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and knows everything."

My Father reminded me that, while my heart does sometimes condemn me, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). As I read, prayed, and reflected, He helped me to see that much of my problem was simple emotion. Praise Him that our salvation is not dependant on our emotional or physical state! In many ways, I am imprisoned in my flesh; engaged in continual warfare with not only "fleshly desires" but also with sleep deprivation, hormonal flux, and bad broccoli. But Christ came to free the captives and those who are bound (Isaiah 61:1). Yes, I struggle, yes, I suffer, yes it is difficult. He helps me remember, however, that "suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us," (Romans 5:4-5). All this life, all this battle with my own flesh and against the enemy's attacks, all this is meant to produce a more steadfast resolve, a more complete love, a more firm foundation--not for now, but for eternity. I am being prepared not only for this life, but for the time I am truly set free of my flesh and may worship Him unfettered by it. It is not the physical me, but my spirit that is being refined. The fact that I never stop loving Him and never stop loving my brothers and sisters in Christ is far more important than the fact that I lost my temper or allowed my thoughts to stray. My heart is His, firmly His, and that is something that no state of fatigue, illness, or indigestion will change. And again, I praise Him for deigniing to be my strength when I have none!

One final point that brought me to once more pondering the greatness of God as I should be rather than mourning my own worthlessness, which leads only to spiritual death: That is the fact that, in 1 John 5:19, it is written, "...the whole world is in the power of the evil one." Equally true, however, is that once I gave my life to Christ, I am His possession and no longer belong to this world (1 Corinthains 6:20, 7:23). Since He has overcome the world (John 16:33) I can rest assured, knowing that "greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). The most comforting thought of all, however, is that my salvation is not dependant on my mood or the state of my hormones. And God knows my frame; He remembers that I am dust (Psalm 103:14). Friends, when my emotions are overwhelmed by a malfunction of my flesh, I take heart in that!

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.