Lord, I come to You now in the presence of every person whose eyes land on these words. I know that it is not by accident. Lord, we NEED you now more than ever. Our friends and family members are sick and dying, but YOU, God, have the ability to heal them and to obliterate this virus from the face of the earth. We know that nothing happens without Your knowledge and we know that You are ultimately in control. Help us to sit in that truth and remain good stewards of Your Word and Your Church. Help us to be kind to one another and to put other people—even those we don’t agree with—first. Help us to take care of one another the way that You intended. Help people see past the political party lines and remember we are all made in the image of You. Help people to not put personal freedom over compassion for their fellow man and help those worried about this virus to be met with understanding and compassionate responses rather than fighting and mocking. Help me God with my own fear as I lean on You and trust You while using the sound mind you gave me to make safe choices that are right for me and those closest to me. Touch our world and our country, Lord. Heal us from border to border, every family, every person. Eradicate COVID 19 and make it disappear as quickly as it came. Hear our pleas, Lord. It is in Jesus’ mighty name we pray. Amen and Ehmen.
Writer’s Note: This was originally written in 2017 after I left my fulltime job of almost a quarter of a century and began an almost three-year long journey of working for myself. While I have become pretty skilled at creating order in the home workspace, this pandemic has rocked many of us, making waste of the sense of order we knew. Three months in, many of us have found our way to a new normal, but some I have spoken with recently are still struggling. Don’t be ashamed. It happens to all of us at one time or another. Truthfully, I still struggle with letting my life get out of order at times. Always have, actually, even before the pandemic. If this is you, I hope this post gives you a little hope today.
June 12, 2017
It’s okay child. I know your brain and emotions are scrambled right now, but I am here and I know your heart. Just breathe. Speak My name when you feel overwhelmed or at a loss. Let’s come up with a schedule together. Something to keep you on track. Do not feel less because you need this. Order is necessary for all of life. Order, in fact, was the second most important ingredient in Creation, second only to love. Can you imagine a world with no order? What if the sun rose only when it felt like it? What if the moon and the stars were random about their appearance and nighttime blanketed the earth at unplanned times? Yes, child, everything must have an order to be successful in the long run. If it was and is important for all of Creation, it is important for you. Let’s start with your daily schedule and then we will continue to work on your schedule for fulfilling your calling and purpose. I am proud of you, child. You have a mission and a calling and I am so pleased that you desire them so. Together, we are unstoppable. You are unstoppable. Don’t ever forget that. And, if you do, just come back into My Presence where I can remind you. I’m always here, day and night, from beginning to end, creating your present and your future with beautiful mixture of love and order.
The Beautiful Order of Creation…
Genesis, Chapter 1:
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse[a] in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made[b] the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven.[c] And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth,[d] and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants[e] yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,[f] and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds[g] fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man[h] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Genesis, Chapter 2
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation…
Writer’s Note: Today, amid all the pain and uncertainty of the coronavirus, I feel, more than ever, that we are living in the “day in between”, a day of seeming silence on the trouble that commands our attention; a day, which if allowed to remain grounded in fear, will continue to be crippling. Yes, we are battling an unseen enemy and, though we have dubbed this enemy COVID19, I believe in my heart of hearts that it is the same unseen enemy that we have battled all along, Satan. He’s sifting us, y’all. But, I truly believe, in the deepest reaches of my soul, that Sunday is coming and Jesus Christ, our resurrected Savior and Miracle Maker, has another HUGE Miracle in store for us all. Spend this Saturday sitting high atop a foundation of trust in what tomorrow brings…a day of true joy and hope for the world! And, remember, it all started with HIM, but it continues with us….spread The Word! Sunday is coming!
The Day In Between
It’s sometimes called Holy Saturday, the Great Sabbath, Black Saturday and Easter Eve. But what is today, really?
Well, I think today—the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday—is just that, the day in between.
The silent day that lay mournfully and mysteriously between the brutal crucifixion of our Lord and Savior and His joyous resurrection. The day between a promise and its fulfillment.
I can’t even begin to imagine how those who loved and followed Jesus must have felt on this day; just hours before having watched as God’s own promise hung tethered to a rugged cross; bloody; lifeless; hopeless.
I just can’t even imagine how they felt when the world’s only hope that God Himself had so lovingly poured into the flesh of a baby more than three decades prior was taken down from the cross, a crumpled and shattered shell; breathless; dead.
Oh the grief, the fear, and the sense of loss they must have felt. Their friend and Messiah was gone and laying in a tomb; his bruised and battered body as well as their hopes and dreams swaddled in burial clothes and sealed in darkness.
I just can’t even imagine.
But, wait, you might say. What about the miracle of Jesus’ birth and all the miracles and prophecies fulfilled throughout Jesus’ life on earth? What about all the wonders—the feeding of thousands from a single lunch; the healings; the raising of Lazarus from the dead? Can you even imagine how in the world the men and women who witnessed these miracles could even spend one day doubting, grieving, hiding, scattered, and scared?
You know, at first I couldn’t imagine it at all. That is, until I realized that we live in this same place every day.
We live in the in-between day, suspended between the promise and the fulfillment and, just like the disciples and those who knew Jesus as a man, we doubt; we grieve; we hide; we scatter; and we certainly fear. We, too, search for hope in a dark world. We, too, sometimes lose our trust that God can make something holy and beautiful and good out of a world that often looks more like hell than the creation of a good God. We wonder how or even if He will bring beauty and order to a universe spiraling out of control. We, too, have moments of doubt. Or least I know I do.
But, thank God, for tomorrow; for Easter Sunday and the empty tomb which has become an everlasting symbol of a promise fulfilled; the rebirth of hope for all the generations to come; for the disciples; for the early churches, for all our descendants and for you and for me.
Thank God for His promise of everlasting life which eternally lives in the breath of His one and only son, Jesus Christ, and for the unyielding sacrifice Jesus made so that we can enjoy that promise just by believing in Him. I believe in Him and I hope that you do, too.
And, if you are still just checking the whole Jesus thing out, I pray that He will open your heart and eyes so that you, too, can take part in the miracle of Easter and the promise of everlasting life. God loves you. He always has and always will. You are His child and he really wants to have a relationship with you. But, you have to do something. You have to take the step and ask Him into your heart. He is not going to do it without an invitation from you. You yourself have to acknowledge that Jesus is your Lord and Savior and that he died on the cross so that you can have eternal life. You yourself have to accept Him and invite Him into your heart.
When you’re ready, you just have to say a prayer something like this. It doesn’t have to be word for word and you don’t even have to understand it all. And you certainly don’t have to be perfect, for no one on earth is perfect. Just say something like this:
“Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. Please forgive me for my sins. I believe that your son, the Lord Jesus Christ, died to pay for my sins and I trust Him now as my personal Lord and Savior. I ask Him to come into my life. Amen.”
It’s that simple. If you pray this prayer and truly accept the Lord Jesus as your personal savior, you can be assured of going to heaven. No matter what you have done on earth; no matter what you did in your past, you will be reborn and resurrected and headed for everlasting life alongside the Almighty Creator, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Oh, my, what a way to celebrate this day in between! Congratulations and welcome to the family! Amen and Ehmen! And Happy, Happy Easter! 🙂
And The Word of God Says:
John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. (NIV)
Romans 1:4-5 And Jesus Christ our Lord was shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised him from the dead by means of the Holy Spirit. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name. Romans 6:8-11 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
Philippians 3:10-12 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (NIV)
Matthew 27:50-53 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. (NIV)
Matthew 28:1-10 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (NIV)
Mark 16:1-8 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ “
Through all that our world and each and everyone of us is going through, through all the scary and sad news, it’s important to remember the things that are most true, i.e. We are loved by a real and awesome God who promises to be with us through the end of time AND we all need to laugh. I hope my next post or two gives you a little chuckle. The following is a true story from Quarantine Life in my home. It’s sometimes scary to be me. 😂
Those who know me KNOW I have an unnatural, but very real fear of opening cans of biscuits etc. So much so that My daughter learned to open them at a very young age, while her grown mama ran in the other room with her hands over her ears.
Fast forward to today as I decide to make my 91 year old mom who lives with me (and thus quarantined with me) her favorite cinnamon rolls. I go in to have her open, but she’s snoring. I decide that it’s time “to just do it.” It takes me 10 minutes to get up the nerve to peel back label. Check on mom again. Still asleep. My heart is literally racing. Read the instructions to “press here with a spoon.” They make it sound so easy. So nonchalant. I get a spoon and lay it on the printed line. I try to cover my ears, but can’t while trying to keep can from rolling away and pressing with a spoon.
What are these biscuit people thinking? I panic and step away. Check on mom. Still asleep. Deciding I can’t let this can defeat me, I went and found the largest beach towel I could find and wrapped it around my head like a mummy heading to the beach. But, aha! It worked and I’m still alive to tell about it. Sure hope mom likes these cinnamon rolls after what I’ve gone through this morning. 😂
Though they are often the “butt” of many a joke, I have always had a special affection for donkeys. And, every year around Easter, that affection grows. Have you ever wondered why Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem oh so many years ago on what we now call Palm Sunday? Why not a strong, valiant horse? A horse worthy to roam the king’s pastures?
This week, in reflecting on that very question, I thought I’d ask God himself. And so, during my God time earlier this week, that is exactly what I did. As I sat quietly with nothing but a Bible, a blank page and a deep affection for The Father, these are the thoughts that came to rest deep in my spirit.
“Child, do you remember the verses in My Word in which I told you that the first will be last and the last shall be first; those that remind you to be a humble servant? My friend, the donkey, is a fitting image of what I expect from my children. Humble, hard-working, peaceful. I don’t need pomp and circumstance from you. I just need a willing, servant’s heart.
I asked for a donkey to ride me into Jerusalem for many reasons, one being to remind all of my children that it matters not how the world sees you, but instead how I see you. This donkey, considered one of the least among his kind, was fit for a King. With a servant’s heart and attitude, he escorted me into Jerusalem and into my destiny and this is exactly what I ask of you, dear child—a servant’s heart and attitude that I can use to take me to the people of the world and into my ultimate and eternal destiny. I want ALL of my children with me in eternity. Even one lost grieves my spirit so. Think of those parents who have lost one of their children to drugs, alcohol or depression. Think of the parent whose child has run away, who they’ve lost all contact with. Oh how their heart grieves! Now, multiply that by infinity and that is how I feel about my lost children. My heart is not complete without them. My kingdom is not whole. They are MY children. All of them. No matter what they have done. No matter what they haven’t done. They are MY children and I love them. And, I need you, to help me bring them home. I need you to be like that humble, willing donkey that will take me to my children; to my destiny as Father of All. Go read the story of the Prodigal Son. I will open your eyes to new things, my child. And, go through this day aware of my presence. I’ll be right beside you all the way. It’s going to be a good day, child. A very good day.”
Thank you, God, for this. Thank you for the donkey and thank you for now giving me a reason to smile when someone calls me one. Last but not least, thank you for being such a creative Creator. Whether the legend of the cross on my favorite furry friends’ back is true or not, it is quite a beautiful touch. 🙂 Amen and Ehmen
I have tried pretty hard to stay positive this last week, but these last couple of days have seen my emotions catching up to me.
Honestly, I feel a lot like I did after 9/11. The world as we know it is changing and so many things are out of our control. It’s not that I’m wrestling with my faith over this. Quite the contrary. He is my one constant. I know He is in control and I trust Him. But, I can’t hold back the emotions anymore.
Fortunately, I don’t have to, because I also know that, even on days like today when there have been more tears cried than words prayed, the Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf and Our Father Who Art In Heaven hears.
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”—Romans 8:26
This post has garnered a little extra attention from website visitors recently and, after rereading it, I decided it was time to repost at the top of my newsfeed. His love for us blows me away…
January 3, 2015 6:35 AM
Dear Lord, thank you for waking me up this morning to draw me closer to you and to remind me just how wide, how long, how high and how deep your love is for me; for all of us. I have admittedly distanced myself off and on over these past few months as I have struggled quietly and internally with the changes in my world. I know that I am not immune to suffering, yet when I need you most, I sometimes do exactly what I have always reminded others not to do. I pull away. I don’t seek your face. I try to live in my own power. At times, I have been swallowed by doubt; not disbelief in you, but doubt that your promises are really for me; that your healing and comfort are for me; that I can really find joy in fulfilling my purpose and that I even have the tools to do so. I have continued to live in fear that my health will not hold up, that I will be stripped of what I have before I am able to finish what you started in me. I don’t want to live in fear anymore, Lord. I need you today more than ever. In this moment and in every moment that I draw breath on this earth. Come closer than ever, Father. Settle into my heart and deep into my soul. Send your Holy Spirit and allow Him to intermingle with my spirit. Speak to me. Comfort me. Heal me. Empower me. Use me. I love you with all my being, my dear Father, and I want nothing more than to please you. Keep me focused on you, Lord. Please. It is in Your One and Only Son’s Name that I pray. Amen and Ehmen.
Oh my dear, dear child,
I do love you so and I’ve missed our whole-heart time together. Just know that, regardless of whether you sit with Me in front of this page or not, I AM with you, always until the end of time and until such time that you are with Me in Heaven. I led you to Ephesians 3 this morning because, until the latter happens, I need you to truly understand the full breadth, length, height and depth of My love for you.
My love reaches across the width of all of time and space; from the heavens to all corners of the earth, covering all expanses and all people who live today and who have or will ever live; and that, of course, includes you right now where you are.
My love expands across the lengths of eternity. It started long before you were born, even before creation itself, and will continue forevermore.
My love reaches high into the heavens. It is infinite. It is with you at the heights of your life; in your elations and your celebrations.
My love delves deep, deeper than any pit of discouragement or despair in which you could ever linger and even deeper still. The fact is, my child, nothing, not even death can take my love from you for I HAVE DEFEATED DEATH in Jesus’ name…all so that your name could be written in the Book of Life.
If you never grasp anything else, I need you to grasp this. And by grasp, I don’t mean grab and hold on, but to understand; to truly understand, My blessed one, that once you have invited Me into your heart, you don’t have or need to do anything to hold onto My love. It is My love instead that holds onto you…for eternity.
Lay your doubts down, My child, and bask in my never-ending, unyielding love today. Don’t try to measure it, because you can’t. Just experience it; live in it; and let it live in you so that others will be drawn to Me and My Kingdom will be made complete. Go forth—go wide, go long, go high, go deep— to share this Good News to those around you; the Good News that they don’t have do anything to gain or hold My love; for, through belief in my son, Jesus Christ, they and My love will live on forever and beyond.
And, the Word of God says in Ephesians, Chapter 3, Verses 14-21:
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Oh, dear God. Amen and Ehmen! Thank you for the endless love and never-ending reminders. I guess I can’t hear it enough and I thank you for being willing to keep telling me over and over and over again.
Can I get an Amen and Ehmen!???? Have a blessed day knowing that you are LOVED! 🙂
Writer’s Note: I first recorded this blog entry in February 2016. It was during a time of storms and health scares and God showed up to comfort me in a miraculous and undeniable way. I share this again because God guided me through this same health scare yesterday as well as a series of other storms that have occurred over the last month, bringing my mind back to this very event as He continues to comfort me and let me know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He is right here with me and it is indeed going to be all right. I don’t necessarily know the details of how it will all work out, but He is PATIENTLY teaching me that I don’t have to know. I just have to know and TRUST Him. If you are going through anything at all right now, if you feel scared, alone, or simply need something to boost your faith, I hope you will read this. God loves us, y’all. He really, really does!
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.—Hebrews 11:1
What a beautiful, hope-inspiring verse. It flows like honey from the lips of whomever recites it and gives comfort to all who struggle with the troubles and tribulations that are guaranteed to come as long as we continue to live and breathe this side of Heaven.
However, when you are in the midst of those troubles, most of us would be less than truthful if we said that we did not ever doubt. Indeed, sometimes our confidence in what we hope for DOES wane. Sometimes we’re NOT so assured that the things we cannot see are fully under the control of a loving God who will use them for our good.
The fact is, sometimes, when life gets hard, uncertainty will often fuel fear instead of hope and, if you are like me, it becomes more about survival—just putting one foot in front of the other—than it does about resting in peace and hope. It becomes more about drifting in seclusion and fear than living in the presence of God and trusting His promises fully and completely.
Truth be told, as much as I love God and as much as I know in my heart that He is always present and always worth trusting, I have still loitered in a self-imposed seclusion at times; wandered aimlessly through shadowy valleys where cares and concerns take the form of dark and menacing shadows hell-bent on blocking the light in my life. In fact, over the past few months, it feels like I have stood frozen and wrought in fear more than I have walked in peace and rested in trust and faith, even though I absolutely know better.
Thank God I know better. Thank God for the proverbial and omnipresent life-line that He continually invites us to grab hold of and uses to pull us back to a place where we can see Him, hear Him, and feel Him. Thank God, He never gives up. No matter how many times we drift away and lose sight, He just keeps offering Himself to us over and over and over, repeatedly reminding us that He is right beside us and worthy of our trust.
So, as I continued to occupy that valley between fear and worry and complete trust in Him, God started pulling me back to Himself. And, just as He often does when there is something He wants me to really hear, He began putting the subject in my path so many times and in so many ways that it was simply impossible to deny. It seemed that He used practically every thing I read and heard to assert the same truth. Trust Me, He said again and again.
And, trust me, I had heard quite a few messages in the last couple of weeks. Realizing my spiritual and prayer life was collecting dust, I had recommitted myself to the daily habit of spending my half hour drive to and from work either praying or listening to podcasts by various preachers and teachers. It’s something I had enjoyed for several years and I was hoping that it would get me reconnected and out of this cycle of fear and worry which I had fallen into. And, of course, never one to disappoint, God Almighty, the Teacher of teachers, showed up and picked up right where we left off.
Now, I don’t want to say that He harped on and on about that one thing that I was obviously needing most at this point in time, but I will say He was quite persistent. Days turned into weeks and podcast after podcast, sermon after sermon, in one way or another, all dealt with same subject: trusting Him; living in His presence; walking and dwelling with the Holy Spirit; not fearing; and, finally, believing in His good plan for my life, no matter what.
Everyday. It didn’t matter who was delivering it, the message was the same. Steven Furtick. Andy Stanley. Joyce Meyer. Louie Giglio. Over and Over. I couldn’t hide from it. Though, truth be told, I really didn’t want to.
I wanted nothing more than to honor God and find that place of peace for myself where my trust in Him is unbridled. And, so, on my way home one day, after hearing Joyce Meyer preach on the Holy Spirit, I turned off my radio and began to pray. From the Eisenhower exit to Hartley Bridge, I prayed for God to once again heighten my ability to sense the Holy Spirit as well as my ability and desire to follow His lead. I asked to hear His voice loud and clear and to once again be able to trust that everything in my life would be used by Him. I asked for reassurance that it—that I—really was going to be okay. “God, show me that it’s going to be okay,” I pleaded.
As I rode along praying from the deepest reaches of my heart, I suddenly became overwhelmed with this feeling that I was in danger. Completely out of the blue, I sensed that there were deer in the woods parallel to the interstate I was driving on and that, at any moment, that they were going to dart in front of my car. I can’t explain it, but it was so real and so intense that I began to feel panicked.
My first instinct was to brake and slow down, for I figured that slowing down would either keep me from hitting them or, at the very least, lessen the impact. However, when I looked in my rearview mirror, there was a car practically tailgating me, rendering that plan null and void. Next, I considered changing into the middle lane, thinking that I could perhaps put a little more distance between myself and them, but, yet again, a car was fast approaching there as well.
Finally, I did the only thing I could think of left to do, and I blurted out the following plea, “Lord, please just stop them in their tracks! Stop them in their tracks, Father!”
Just like that, the feeling of looming danger dissipated just as quickly as it had started. I took a deep breath and thanked God for this unseen, but deeply felt occurrence. The sense of danger had been so real, but, thankfully, this peaceful, safe feeling felt just as real. That in itself was enough, yet my impromptu lesson on trust wasn’t quite over. Just as I was exhaling a breath of relief, my eyes were almost magnetically drawn to the woods just beyond the road’s shoulder. I couldn’t believe what I saw. There, standing tall, his body half in the woods and half out, was a deer! Head held high, looking in my direction and poised like he had literally been stopped in his tracks!
Though I would have been content with the feeling of relief I experienced a split second earlier, God knew that I needed to see it with my own two eyes. In fact, if you recall, I had just asked Him to come close and to show me that it was going to be okay; that I was going to be okay; and He did just as I had asked! Astounded, I immediately began to gush words of thanksgiving and praise.
Oh, how very much he taught me in those precious seconds and in the hours that followed as I recounted this beautiful experience.
For one, my initial response, as you may recall, was to try and do something myself. I checked the rearview mirror to see if I could slow down and then checked the side mirror to see if I could change lanes. Then and only then did I call out to our Lord to take control of the situation. I don’t know about you, but I do that all the time. I try everything in my power first, when I could save myself a whole lot of trouble by just asking God for help to begin with.
Secondly, I fully believe the woods are symbolic of things that have been going on in my life. Unknown things, such as my health, have been weighing heavily on me and causing angst. But, in just a few moments while driving down I-75, our beautiful Father in Heaven sent me a reminder that just like He controlled that deer in the woods that He was also in control of my health, my future and anything else that I might not be able to see. All I have to do is call out to Him.
Lord, I will never be able to thank You enough for answering me when I call out to You and for being relentless in Your pursuit of me. No matter how many times my trust falters, You never, ever leave my side. Thank you for SHOWING Yourself to me when I need it most and doing so in such a way that I know, without a doubt, that it is You. I shall never forget the image of that deer standing on the roadside, half in the woods and half out, obviously stopped in his tracks just by my asking. Your word says, “Ask, and it shall be given; seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.” And, as always, you are true to Your word. My dear sweet Jesus, I promise to work on trusting in You completely; to remember that You see everything that is going on—even the things behind the scenes—and that, no matter what, you will use it all for my good, all because I’m your child and I love you. Thank you for loving me so and for teaching me to look at everything through eyes of faith and trust. Oh what a difference it makes. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen and Ehmen!
Writer’s Note: Today marks four years since my brother drew his last breath, and three since I wrote this post. Today as I spent some time thinking about him and reminiscing, I felt comforted all over again. Please, if you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, consider taking that step today; if not for yourself, for your loved ones. Don’t take a chance on leaving them to wonder if they will see you again, for that grief is a grief like no other.
September 7, 2016
One year ago today, I heard your voice for the last time.
I miss you, dear brother.
Truth is, I have missed you every day since you left us, but as we move closer and closer to the one year anniversary of your death, it has been especially hard.
While the grief process continues and I have taken many strolls down memory lane remembering your life, these last few days have found me especially reflective of your death. Those were dark days, brother. Painful days. It was so hard to watch mama as she realized she had to let you go. No mother should ever have to bury her child.
It was hard to watch the interaction between you and Karen. It was obvious that she was the love of your life. As dim as your eyes became, the soul-depth love you had for her burst forth like a beacon in the darkest of nights. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time.
It was hard for all of us who loved you to say goodbye, but we didn’t have a choice. All of our days on this earth are numbered and, ready or not, one day the last day will come for all that have ever drawn breath. Still, I can promise you none of us were ready for it to be your time.
At the time, the worst part of it all, Gary, was not really knowing your spiritual condition; not being sure that you had accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Not being sure that you would soon enjoy everlasting life with our Father in Heaven. I know that it was said many times right before and after your passing that a man’s faith is a personal matter and that one doesn’t have to talk about it, but that just isn’t true. No words will ever be able to express the extreme heartache not knowing levies on the hearts of those who struggle with the thought of never seeing their loved one again.
It is the same wrenching heartache that I felt a few years prior when I, as an adult, began to deal with the tragic death of our daddy decades before. In talking to mom one day, I discovered that at the time of dad’s death, she wasn’t certain of his salvation. Like you, he was a man with a heart of gold and a man of great respect and humble attitude, but, unfortunately, they had never talked about it. Having been only eight when dad was taken from us, I never really got to know him. I can only hope for another chance on the other side.
But, back to you. Your last days were heavily laden with prayer, by me, by family, by friends and the church. Though I didn’t really get the opportunity to talk to you directly about God, our cousin Patty did. Still, we weren’t sure where you stood and that hurt more than anything. But, then something happen. I was getting ready for your memorial service. It had been an emotionally charged week and I really wasn’t thinking about anything. My mind and emotions were taking a well-needed time-out when, out of the blue at exactly 7:53 a.m. September 10, 2015, the following words floated into my mind. As clear as the spoken word I heard Him say: “I know his name, child, and he knows Mine.”
Now, Gary, that’s not a phrase that I had ever heard and I knew instantly that it was the still small voice of our ever-loving God. Powerful words swaddled in that unsurpassed comfort and peace that can only come from Him. I just knew and it’s all I needed.
I was so excited and relieved that when got to your memorial service, the first person I hunted down was Patty; and when we hugged, I excitedly whispered the good news. She, too, began to grin from ear to ear.
“Brenda,” she told me. “I prayed all night and all the way up here, begging God to show either you or me that Gary was with Him.”
Sigh. What a beautiful gift. I can’t tell you how much easier it made it to say goodbye. You know it rained during your service that day and I can just remember thinking that it was apropos. In fact, I think it was Heaven’s way of helping us mourn our loss while celebrating its gain.
Now, what about dad?
Though I have spent the last several years hoping and feeling like he is probably with you in our eternal home in Heaven, I have never received such certain reassurance as I did with you. Until this week. Enter another cousin. This one, Debbie, one of Uncle Don’s daughters. She had read a recent post about how hard it was to hear that daddy’s salvation was also unknown to those who loved him most. It spurred a memory that she shared, probably a nudge from God, if I had to guess.
As you know, Uncle Don also left this earth way too early. He died in a car accident when he was in his early 30s, leaving behind a beautiful bride and two beautiful young daughters. Daddy always made sure to stay connected to them and our families were quite close, I am told.
What I didn’t know was that Aunt Vera Lee, Uncle Don’s widow, had spent some time in the hospital visiting daddy during his last days. Debbie relayed a sweet story that her mom had shared before she passed about how they sang a hymn together and that daddy had been the one to start the singing. She also relayed how she had felt the presence of Uncle Don in the room with them, so heavy, in fact, that she said she actually spoke his name out loud.
“Brenda, Mama said that she was convinced that she felt Daddy Don’s presence so strongly because he had come to show Uncle Billy the way,” my dear cousin wrote in a note this week. “And we all know the devil doesn’t send someone to comfort and guide you on your journey home.”
Sigh. Another beautiful gift. We will see you both again! And Uncle Don, who I never knew. And Grandma. And Granddaddy. And our beautiful aunts, Aunt Hazel and Aunt Vera Lee. You are all there waiting for the rest of us and celebrating every moment with our Awesome and Beautiful Creator. I can only imagine, but boy oh boy do I enjoy imagining that day!
But, until then, I still miss you. And, yes, there are still tears, but they are no longer all sorrowful. They are also intermingled with tears of joy knowing you are enjoying everlasting life and that one day we will meet again.
Until then, to you and all of our loved ones previously departed, much love from earth to heaven.
Amen and Ehmen.