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Archive for the ‘storms of life’ Category

 

 

In a town nearby there is an old mill which was filled with all kinds of artisans.  I would look forward to my visits.  Each time I went there over the last five years, the shopkeepers seemed to improve the interior a bit more. Whenever I visited you could hear the sound of saws and see men building new shops for yet another artisan.  It was a place for students to exhibit their work, visit artists and housed so many beautiful shops offering all kinds of beautiful things in this huge three story mill.

Yesterday I drove by the remains of so much work, destroyed by fire and all of a sudden my worries seemed to vanish.  All those people who had invested their time and energy and funds into a joint effort that was ravaged by the fire.  I sat in my car looking at the devastation and thought about each shop representing that person’s work. I thought about all the crushed spirits of these people.

I had been consumed all day with my woes and cried at the thought of my burdens.  Then I turned on the news and saw so much tragedy being reported all over the world.  Just like the mill, there were circumstances in the world that people were enduring which certainly shook their lives and perhaps their faith.

Yesterday was a very gray, cool and windy day.  The starkness of it seemed to spell sadness, but instead it was as if that very starkness made me look at God’s blessings.  When my day at started out, I had read in my devotional:

“Then He spat on the ground and made mud from the spittle and smoothed the mud over the blind man’s eyes and told him, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam” (the word “Siloam” means “Sent”).  So the man went where he was sent and washed and came back seeing?”  John 9:6.7

Perhaps Jesus was trying to show us that when He takes His spirit and covers our eyes in the mud, we are able to truly see how He blesses our lives everyday.  We are able to see and feel compassion for others because we have endured the mud in our own lives. Through our own adversity we are able to see the pain of others instead of dwelling on our own.  I am not a Bible scholar and certainly a pastor or theologian could bring life to this scripture that would normally elude me.  But maybe, just maybe the way I saw today brings this scripture to life.

Jesus somehow removed my blindness by showing me how not to dwell on my own suffering.  By taking the mud of my own suffering, with His spirit He had led me to know compassion.  Through that compassion I was able to see the pain of others instead and pray for them.  I believe my wealth is the treasure of compassion that the Lord has taught me to know.

Sitting in that car I couldn’t help but feel that the Lord had sent me there to witness the pain of others.  He took the mud of my burdens and made me see.

“We went through fire and through water: But thou brought us out into a wealthy place.” Pslam 66:12

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The Storms of Life

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves and it was completely calm.” Matthew 8:26

I watched from my window as the trees swayed with the windy day. My eye caught a remarkable sight. I watched as this bird perched high above the others clung to the branch he was on in a large evergreen tree. The tree swayed feverishly caught in the gust of the wind. He did not budge…he hung on despite the moving branch. I thought about how small he was and how dainty his strength compared to the strength of the wind, yet he was able to hang on never-the-less. Today my petty worries were getting the best of me. Thoughts of fears about my children, finances, and minor difficulties were festering at me like the wind. These thoughts were blowing through my mind making me fearful, and pecking at an otherwise glorious day. As I watched that bird hanging onto that branch, I thought about how I should hang on with faith, despite the windy thoughts blowing through my mind. To have faith that the Lord is in charge and I have no reason to be fearful. That little bird did not look afraid, in fact I am sure that the lack of fear helped him to withstand the heavy wind. Some days like today, thoughts that should make me fearful and fret need to be ignored. I need to be just like that little bird and hang onto the branch in faith and know that the Lord will provide. I need to present my worries to the Lord and dwell on the things I am thankful for today.  I must pray believing that He has already answered my prayer and give thanks instead of giving way to worry and fret.By being thankful and singing praise, I will still the winds of negative thoughts and regain my perspective. Perhaps then I too can cling to my branch despite the winds of adversity threatening to take away my joy.

“He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” Luke 8:25         

 

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I recently finished reading the book The Gift of The Red Bird by Paula D’Arcy.  It was published in 2000, and probably has been on my bookshelf unread for that long.  The book is a small volume, but spiritually rich in enlightenment and contains her personal journey through grief and her quest to know God on a more personal level.  At a very young age, newly married, with a small child and expecting another child, suddenly her husband and daughter were killed in an automobile accident.  I can’t even imagine the grief, no less without a strong faith to carry her through.  She followed the road back from grief, by seeking her quest to know God.
 

Today, she is the author of many books, she is the founder of The Red Bird Foundation  and is a public speaker and helper to many about grief.  Since experiencing her loss, she counseled people,  wrote numerous books on grief and spiritual awakening, and leads retreats and workshops throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

As I read her story and saw the familiar spiritual stops along the way, I couldn’t help but notice how God had allowed her to bear such a burden of grief at such a young age.  Her anger, bitterness and questioning was short-lived and was replaced by her spiritual quest.  As God held her hand through the powerful emotional turmoil of grief, and introduced her to the power of faith, she not only healed, but her healing was shared by many as she continues to teach.

How many stories in life can we see of how God has taken brokenness and healed the outcome for a divine purpose.  Perhaps viewing another’s life makes it easier than to accept our own adversity.  To witness how God has taken our own brokenness and allowed this adversity to share so that we might comfort others.  All He asks is that we seek Him.  In my own search for answers,  I have read many books about being alone with God and the wisdom that we can find in solitude.  Adversity with only regret cripples our heart, but to be open to God it can lead us to not only healing but to our purpose.

It seems that God continues to write the Bible through people like Paula D’Arcy.  Stories of people through a journey with God, who have been able to accept their adversity and as they search for the answers are willing to share their stories.  I think that when we examine the path and instead of asking why, we can pray that God turn our circumstances into a blessing. 

I wept this morning as I saw the body of work that Paula D’Arcy has created to help so many people walk through grief.  I wept because I could see the hand of God on her life, allowing her to experience such a profound loss, because He trusted her.  Only someone who had reached the depths of despair by such a loss, becoming intimate with that pain, could have become such an effective teacher on the subject of grief.  He knew that where others given the same set of circumstances, might have become bitter, and lost their way, she became open to know Him better.  Through that obedience God was able to use her life and her brokenness to teach her His ways of wisdom, and along her journey pointed out ways in which she could impart those truths to us.  I believe that God anointed her purpose to touch the hearts of many.

“God never uses anyone to a great degree until He breaks the person completely. Joseph experienced more sorrow than the other sons of Jacob, and it led him into a ministry of food for all the nations.  For this reason, the Holy Spirit said of him, “Joseph is a fruitful vine…near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall”  Gen. 49:22.  It takes sorrow to expand and deepen the soul.  from The Heavenly Life.

The story of The Gift of the Red Bird, A Spiritual Encounter, describes how “Paula journeyed alone into the wilderness for three days, allowing the Creator to speak through that creation.  As she surrendered to the power of God alone, a red bird appeared and without words began to teach.”  She found her inner voice and began to see with her heart.  I don’t remember who gave me this little book The Gift of The Red Bird, or if I purchased this treasure myself.  It has been on my bookshelf for a very long time.  I don’t believe in coincidence and all I can say is the timing was a perfect gift.  As I sat reading this treasure, tucked safely away inside the book was a beautiful bookmark with a red cardinal on it.  

“It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile…things such as love and duty, work and rest and living close to nature.”

by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I read in Streams In The Desert the writing for January 20th; “Every person and every nation must endure lessons in God’s school of adversity.  In the same way we say, “Blessed is the night, for it reveals the stars to us,” we can say, “Blessed is sorrow, for it reveals God’s comfort.”  A flood once washed away a poor man’s home and mill, taking with it everything he owned in the world.  He stood at the scene of his great loss, brokenhearted and discouraged.  Yet after the waters had subsided, he saw something shining in the riverbanks that the flood had washed bare. “It looks like gold,” he said.  And it was gold.  The storm that had impoverished him made him rich.  So it is oftentimes in life.”  Henry Clay Trumbull

We all have to walk through the journey of grief at some point in our lives. The Gift of the Red Bird reminds me that walking with God and holding His hand in faith I can trust that he will take all things in my life to work toward His purpose.  By keeping our hearts open, bravely accepting our circumstances and surrendering our pain, God can take our brokenness and in comforting us in the middle of a storm, feed the hearts of many.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,

who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28


 

 

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“And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude],” Ephesians 4:23

Recently I have endured one trial after another, leaving me quite weary. The Lord is faithful though, He knows how my faith is depleted and has sent me wonderful messages and messengers to remind me of how important it is to keep my faith. Just because I get tired doesn’t mean that He does. He is the same yesterday and today, it is my feelings that vacillate.

I had been aware that I was just existing instead of living in Joy every day. To me when I am just existing and getting through each day, I am not living in Faith. When I am full of thoughts of great promise my Faith sings. I was waiting for this period of weariness to pass, and then I remembered that it was my choice to dwell on the trials or remember God’s promise. It was not dependent on how I feel, but rather how I renew my mind until I am back on the road where I belong. How many times has he led me through difficult times and rewarded me with His blessings at the end of such a chapter. Yet if I am not renewing my mind consistently I fall into the same trap of sadness, despair and hopelessness. These feelings stoke the fire that dries up my faith.

I listened to the audio book Extravagant Worship by Darlene Zschech, she speaks at great length of praising the Lord and thanking Him in Faith. Praising Him in our pain even before we see the purpose for the trial and the blessing.

I watched a sermon by Joyce Meyer, in it she said: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

I read my book Blessed Beyond Measure by Gloria Copeland, “If you will keep going with God, refusing to be drawn off by disobedience or unbelief, you will find yourself walking in your dreams. You will look around and see the goodness of God poured out in every area of your life. You will see His goodness everywhere you turn. You will be living out His plan, and enjoying His provision and dwelling in the place He prepared especially for you.”

I read in my devotional Streams In The Desert: “Blessed are those whose strength is in you…As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs.” Psalm 84:5-6

“When the shadows of night needed night, gather over the garden of our souls, when leaves close up and flowers no longer reflect any sunlight within their golden petals, and when we experience even the thickest darkness, we must remember that we will never be found wanting and that he comforting drops of heavenly dew fall only after the sun has set.”

I just couldn’t find my way back to Joy. Someone approached me recently and said let yourself go, what are you afraid of…Live life to it’s fullest. I felt ashamed because I am usually the one cheering others on in their walk of believing all things are possible.

I had a dream two days ago that I was beneath this field of golden flowers. I could hear joyful laughter of those that were walking in this field. I was attempting to climb to get to the field, but I could not. I could just peek into the golden field beyond my reach and hear the joyful laughter in the distance. The Lord walked up to me and asked “Why have you lost your faith now?” When I awoke from this dream I wept, selfishly I wanted to stay in that beautiful field with the Lord. I felt sad that He had asked me that question, even in my sleep I felt ashamed that I had lost my faith after so many lessons of blessings. Yesterday I had struggled yet one more day looking around me for my answer going through a trial. Then I found a poem that made me see that I was choosing to dwell on the gloom and not on the promise:

One Day At A Time

Just for one day I will promise
To see God’s love in all things,
In the calm, the joy, and the peaceful
In the burden, the pain and the sting.

I will look to His love in the moonlight
In the wave of each swaying branch,
In each breath, in each step, in each moment
I will pause to my Lord and give thanks.

Though the turbulent waters surround me
I’ll be still as a calm peaceful lake,
For if He is in charge of this temple
Then the outcome to all will be great.

So with my new mind I’ll sing praises
And release alleluia’s sincere,
For if God and I are this temple,
Then the outcome to all will be clear.

So do not sway for a moment
When dark clouds are somber and gray,
Just look to the sunshine beyond them
And just let the Lord have His way
.
Chris Zambernard

Suddenly it was all clear…I had forgotten the basic rule in maintaining Faith…I had forgotten to count my blessings. I had forgotten to Thank God for my trial and that I believed in Him and that He had a purpose for my suffering. I ran to get all my journals to read, reminding me of countless times like this when He had allowed me to go through a trial for His purpose. He had always blessed my life and shown me why He had allowed me to go through a particular trial. I had my answer, even though He has not revealed the purpose yet for this trial, He clarified what I must do to climb back to Faith. Back to the golden fields of the Lord’s promise, back to walking on the path of golden fields with the right mind believing in God’s promise.

A Recipe for Finding Faith

To remember the Blessings the Lord has given.
To Praise Him in the middle of a trial,
To Believe that the Lord has a reason for any suffering,
To Choose Faith instead of Doubt mindfully,
To Renew my mind with the Word of God.

I stopped today and for the first time since I had that dream, I no longer wished that I had remained there. I knew now that we can have that dream on earth. When we look at the gloom all around us and fall beneath the fields of gold we cannot be blessed with joy. We walk through golden fields of heaven and laugh in joyful song when we have Faith in Our Lord and Savior. It is in the renewing of our mind that we build up our faith. We must keep things in perspective and focus more on the good, renewing our mind with the Word of God.

I remembered the verse from Romans chapter 10 verse 17:
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

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