When you pass through the waters

To say the last several months have been difficult is almost an understatement. They have been a rollercoaster, complete with twists, turns, and steep drops. If you were to capture all the emotions and feelings that have gone on in our home since the Fall on canvas, you’d end up with a Picasso-like painting, a scramble of shapes and colours and contours.

I admit that it has been hard to remain positive and see the good in all of it…to understand how all of these things, some more than others, bring glory to God. But maybe it’s not the things themselves, but rather my response to them that should be glorifying to God. Instead of having a frustrated, sad, angry, and tired response when we take two steps forward and five steps back (which does not glorify God) what if I respond patiently, prayerfully, lovingly, with self-control and gentleness? I’m pretty sure that would glorify God.

Throughout these last few months, a text that keeps coming up is Isaiah 43:1-3. God is speaking to Israel, but this is one of those times when what He is saying holds true for all believers.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

    I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,

I will be with you;

and through the rivers,

they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through the fire you shall

not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the LORD your God,

the Holy One of Israel, you’re Savior.”

These verses reminded me that I should expect suffering and hardship and trials and difficulty and sadness in this life. Just because I follow Jesus doesn’t mean I am immune to these things…neither are you. We all experience these things because we live in a broken world. That’s part of the curse. In the verse above God doesn’t say “IF you walk” or “IF you pass through”, but “WHEN you walk” and “WHEN you pass through”. But our focus should not be on the “hardships” that He lists…and I don’t think that’s God’s focus in these verses. Before He gives a list of “hardships”, God says ,”Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine.” And after every “hardship” is named, hope is given…”I will be with you”, “they shall not overwhelm you”, “you shall not be burned”, “the flame shall not consume you”.

WHY? Because He is the LORD our God, the Holy One, our Savior. And if He says He will be with me, then I can trust that He will be with me because He says He will. And as I walk through these difficult days, prayerfully keeping my eyes focusing on Him*, the difficult days will not overwhelm or consume me. Instead, with the power of the Holy Spirit living in me, I can respond with the fruit of the Spirit, glorifying God.

*This doesn’t happen every time something difficult comes along. Often times my eyes are on the suffering and difficulty. What can I say? I am a work in progress and am thankful I live under grace.

Like a Tree Planted By Water



It was movie night. The kids were engrossed in the action on the TV, while devouring a huge bowl popcorn. Paul went to the bathroom, soon afterwards calling for me to come help him. Sitting down, he said he was having extreme pain in his side and felt like he was going to pass out.

I helped him to the couch, where he laid, curled in a ball of pain. The kids sat…still engrossed in the movie, devouring a now half-eaten bowl of popcorn.

I somehow knew immediately it was either an appendicitis or a kidney stone, which his father has and which I, honestly, have been waiting 10 years for him to develop. Either way, it was clear after less than five minutes he was going to need to go to the hospital.

I called Justin, our teammate. After apologizing for calling so late on a Friday night, I explained the situation. We decided it would be better for Justin to take him to the hospital and for me to stay at home with the kids, who are still glued to the TV but done with the popcorn.

I packed a bag just in case he had to stay overnight. Justin and Santei (an intern) came as quickly as they could, and after helping Paul down the stairs, I put him in the van and sent him to the hospital…without me.

I promptly returned upstairs to put the kids to bed. The movie had ended and they finally noticed Daddy wasn’t there. I calmly explained Justin was taking him to the hospital because Daddy was in a lot of pain and we weren’t sure why.

I crocheted and watched a movie and prayed. I waited to hear something.

Because that was all I could do.

And while I wanted to be at the hospital, I knew that even there, I would be doing the same thing and not even in the same room with my husband.

During this whole process, I remained calm. I did not once panic or cry or freak out. I don’t know that my reaction would have been the same a few years ago. I’m prone to dramatics, so needless to say, remaining calm during high stress situations is not my forte. My dad has always said there is something to be said about being steady, even during difficult times. He is the epitome of steadiness though. I’ve seen him break bad news several times, and the words that would always comes to my mind as I watched him were calmness and steadiness.

I have been reflecting on how it is I was able to stay calm. The one thing that keep coming back to my  mind is something I read several days before the kidney stone attack, which we learned it was about an hour after he got to the hospital. It was Jeremiah 17:8,”He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” The preceding verse tells us whom “He” is referring. “He” is “the man who trusts in the the Lord.” Who is speaking? God. God is telling Jeremiah the man who trusts in the Lord will be blessed, though trials come, he will remain steadfast, strong, and bear fruit because he is rooted in the Lord. Back up a few verses and he tells us what happens when we put our trust in “man and makes flesh his strength.” Basically, nothing good.

It is not by my strength that I am able to do anything. My weaknesses are made clear to me on a daily basis. Like Paul, I want to be content with “weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities” because “when I am weak, that I am strong.” I want to be steady and calm when the hard things come not out of vanity but because I believe it points to the power of Christ in me.

My strength would have failed me that Friday night. I would have been crying, worried, anxious in my own strength. I believe the Holy Spirit began doing something in me long before that night: showing me my weaknesses and finding strength in Him, giving me a thirst for Him so that I spend time with Him not just in the morning but throughout the day, and learning to allow Him to be the roots that hold me fast, steady, calm, bearing fruit. Because of these things that He was doing in me (and that I was allowing Him to do) I was steady and calm in a moment when I normally would have been anything but.

Let the Meditation of My Heart

I’m a thinker…not that I think great thoughts that become ideas which turn into some kind of invention that changes the world or anything.
I just think. Alot. About lots of different things. Sometimes the thoughts are fleeting, lasting only a moment. However, sometimes those thoughts turn into meditation, which is, according to dictionary.com, “continued or extended thought; reflection; contemplation.”

I tend to meditate on worldy things, especially books, movies, and TV shows. I can discuss a good movie or book or show for a couple of hours with someone who is just as into it as I am and enjoy every second of it. I have several friends who “get into” books, movies, and shows as much or than I. One such friend is Vince Rice. You can read his musing on his website, and I highly encourage you to do as at your earliest convenience. He’s a great writer and so insightful.

I recently decided I was going to give the show “Mad Men” a try. I had heard it is well-written with great acting, and since nothing else was appealing on Netflix at the time, I gave it a go.

And I got sucked in to the world of advertising on Madison Avenue in the ’60s. The 60’s have always been a time that I have found interesting for one reason or another. Thus, I found “Mad Men” intriguing. The fashion, the food, the manner speaking, not to mention the world of advertising…all of it was intriguing. So I kept watching.

But what I ended up watching was men degrading women at every turn (which I understand for the time period is probably quite accurate and have subsequently decided that God was correct in NOT placing me in that era because I would have been revolting at every turn), men unsatisfied with their lives so they look for satisfaction in their jobs, alcohol, and the arms of women who are not their wives, and women who are ok being “the other woman.”

And these were the things I was meditating on.

Until last week.

In my morning time with the Lord I read Psalm 19:14, which says,”Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”

I read it over and over and over again. Here I was meditating on fictional characters having affairs and making sexual jokes about women. I’m gonna take a stab in dark and say that that stuff probably ain’t pleasing the Lord.

When I am meditating on things with a heavenly purpose, on things that the Lord would deem acceptable, my entire outlook on life is different. My attitude is better, and I am able to handle difficult situations in a more loving, less selfish way because I am dwelling with the One who gives me the ability to do or be those things.

But when I put garbage into my head and meditate on it, that’s exactly what will come out. Straight up garbage. My words will be unkind, my thoughts will be even more unkind, my actions will be selfish. I’ll be hard to live with. I won’t like myself, much less expect anybody else to like me.

From the beginning to the end of the Bible we are instructed to meditate on things of God. The Bible is filled with examples of people who did just that.It is also filled with examples of people who did the opposite. And what we see is when they took their eyes, then their minds, and then their hearts off of the things of God, bad things happened.

David is a great example. In 2 Samuel 11 David decided to stay in Jerusalem instead of going out to battle with the army, as he should have done. While taking an evening stroll on his roof he sees a woman bathing. Does he go inside, protecting the woman’s privacy and keeping himself from at the very least lusting after her? Nope. I’m going to guess that he watched her because he decided she was beautiful. He thinks of her and his desire for her. She is sent for and David’s desire is fulfilled. She conceives and David, after several attempts at some trickery that fail, finally has success after ordering her husband to be put on the front lines of battle, was killed.

David took his eyes off of God. He allowed himself to meditate on someone that was not his to meditate on, and in doing so, fell into sin.

This is not unlike me and I’m gonna guess many of you. Instead of meditating on things that are “good” for me, I meditate on things that aren’t so good for me. That’s not to say that thinking critically about movies, books, or shows is a bad thing. It’s not. However, when those things have questionable subject matter and I can’t NOT dwell on them…then it’s not a good thing to put in my head…and subsequently, my heart.

If my desire is for the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart to be pleasing in the sight of Lord, then what goes in must also be pleasing. For what goes in, comes out.