Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sending Down Deeper Roots

Just as the clearing was coming into view, another obstacle entered in. Ted is back in the hospital and our routine is anything but normal. Behind on sleep and overwhelmed at times, I press on to the priorities in life. I know that God is in control and that He equips me for all that He calls me to. I struggle but hold on, realizing He must be taking us deeper. And for that I can be thankful.

When I feel that I am not enough, I try to remember that He is. I am to trust in the Lord with all my heart and I am not to lean on my own understanding. (Prov. 3:5-6 NIV) What does this trusting look like?

Last night I was refreshed by the words of Jeremiah the prophet, "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out is roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." (Jer. 17:7-8 NIV)

When I had opened my Bible in the middle of the night, a card fell out that Ted and I had prepared together several summers ago to lead devotions when camping with our friends in the Sylvania Wilderness. Interesting that it was six years ago to the day (on Sunday) that we had shared this devotion together.

It brought back memories of canoeing in the pristine waters and hiking amongst towering trees on mossy earth, spongy from years of a naturally rejuvenating forest. We had gathered the dozen adventurous campers around a crackling campfire for a time of Sunday morning fellowship. We talked about the above verse, discussed how a tree illustrates trusting, and explored what is involved in sending out roots. It was one of those sweet spiritual conversations I have treasured among close friends. Just as we were wrapping up our devotional time, someone looked up and noticed six bald eagles circling in the clearing overhead! Overflowing with thankfulness, we watched them for quite awhile.

It refreshed me as I thought of how that devotion is just as relevant today. "Just as we have received Christ Jesus as Lord, we continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as we were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." (Col. 2:6-7 NIV)

When times are tough, it calls for deeper roots. I envision sinking my roots deep into the stream of Living Water, abiding in Him, trusting in Him to make my path straight.

How can we strengthen our "roots" today?

Dear Lord, Creator of the vast heavens and everything lovely on earth, you make all things beautiful in your time and we will put our hope and trust in you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hold Fast to Him

Hiking in the Smokies in April 2010.
This summer is turning out so different than what we anticipated or planned. The activities we had in mind now seem so far away... camping, canoeing, biking, hiking and backpacking. Ted is now on oxygen 24/7 after a few surgeries and two weeks in the hospital. I've been on PTO from work and we've cleared our calendars to work full-time on restoring Ted's health. We were not prepared for this.

...Or were we?

As I reflect, it is clear that God has been equipping me. For several months, God has been impressing me to be still and know He's in control. I'd been inspired to commit more time than usual to God's Word (now I find I've been fortified by reading half the Bible since last summer). I'd also read several books by authors with extraordinary faith in various difficult situations (see my reading list). In my previous blog posts, I am reminded of all God has been teaching me... like how He's there to guide us through the storms, how He provides all we need for each day, and how we can beat incredible odds by trusting Him!

I am not unprepared. And my strength is certainly not my own.

As a couple, we work at surrendering our lives to the Lord to use however He chooses. We often don't have a clue how He is working in our lives, but we do know that God is good and He has a purpose in all of it. In my reading of the Old Testament I have seen repeatedly the command to "hold fast to Him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul" (Joshua 22:5 NIV). That is what we strive to do every day.

Whether we are out and about traveling wide circles, or limited by health issues, God uses us right where He has us. We are His servants and we let Him make that call. It is a privilege to hold fast to Him and serve Him wherever we are.

How about you -- has your life been "detoured" lately? How will you serve Him through it?

God, you are all good. Anything that happens to us must first pass through your hands. We trust in your design for our lives. Thank you for equipping us, guiding us and providing for us. We hold fast to you and follow you wholeheartedly through the storm.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Whole New Level of Abiding

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Is. 41:10 NIV)

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal. (Is. 26:3-4 NIV)

These are some of the scriptures I'm clinging to while facing the unknown.

What we thought was Ted's cancer morphing to another form appears not to be the case. The next step was to go back into surgery to sample some lung tissue after all. (This was the surgery that was avoided on Sunday.)

So, on Wednesday afternoon, back into surgery he went. The early examination of the samples identified a serious lung condition with any number of causes. Determining the cause will help pinpoint the treatment, but the process is long and tedious, with labs now being sent to Mayo Clinic.

After surgery Ted was again on a breathing machine and would be on it at least overnight. He was heavily sedated to keep him comfortable. I sat helpless in the darkened room with only the hum and hiss of the machines and the constant activity outside his room in ICU.

While I had rested in perfect peace just a few days before, that night I wrestled desperately to find that peace again. I realized God was taking me to a whole new level of abiding.

I had relied so heavily on Ted when making important decisions; now he was unable to communicate. I had relied on the doctors to find the cause and fix it; now even they were dealing with uncertainties. I had felt relief knowing what it was on Sunday; now all that had changed. I had leaned on our family and friends for prayers and support -- and while all that has been wonderful, there is no substitute for fully relying on God. There are times we are so alone and the ONLY answer is God.
"God, I am so lost, but help me remain in you. You are my Source of all I really need. Give me your perfect peace again. Strengthen me for the road ahead and give me your wisdom. Give the doctors your wisdom," I pleaded...
A few have reminded me of the words of a beautiful song by Scott Krippayne that fit so well at this time:

"Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child..."

While the wind and waves were wild that night, with the morning came a strength and, once again, a sense of indescribable peace. A peace that only He can give. A peace we can only receive as we look to Him for all our needs.

Lord, I don't even know all my needs, but You do. There are so many unknowns on all our paths. But I will trust in you, abide in you. I will rest in your comfort and draw my strength from you.