Thursday, September 17, 2020

“Failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts”

I don’t remember much about the rest of that afternoon. 

I stumbled about the house in a fog. 

It was like living in an other-worldly experience. Maybe God was inviting me into a “Come away, my beloved” moment (Song of Solomon 2:10, 13). 

Life moved in slow-motion. But at least I was moving. I was living what Elisabeth Elliot had once experienced: “Sometimes life is so hard you can only do the next thing. Whatever that is, just do the next thing. God will meet you there. 

Yes, He did meet me there. As the Old Testament saint, Micah, said would happen, God heard the cries from my parched heart. Though I’d fallen, I would arise (Micah 7:7-8). He offered me a hand up from the rock bottom I’d hit. 

The Bible records an utterly desperate time in Elijah’s life—he was running for his life, exhausted. When he hit rock bottom, an angel of the Lord came, twice, to encourage Elijah, saying, “The journey is too much for you. Get up and eat” (I Kings 19:7). 

Many years ago, Amy Carmichael wrote about Elijah’s dire circumstances, but she didn’t let the old guy stay stuck down there. She also pointed out God’s grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). 

Amy wrote of the times you and I fall into despair, when the “journey” has become too great for us. She wrote: “Is it not good and comforting to know that the angel of the Lord came again the second time? We never come to the place where we pass out of reach of the compassion of our God. ‘His compassions fail not. They are new every morning,’ never tiring of us, always strong for our help.” (Lamentations 3:22-23; Edges of His Ways) 

Though I could barely sense it, God was at work. In His loving grace, He can do His most profound work in our biggest struggles. 

Looking back now, I recall that day with a great deal of pain. No doubt you, too, recall pain from the past.

But did you know there’s good pain and bad pain? That suffering pain can hurt but it can also help? 

Come back next week—we’ll look at both destructive pain and valuable pain. 

In the meantime, take courage, get up, and get on with life. Remember Winston Churchill's words: "Failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts."  And find comfort from God’s words to Joshua: “I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous. . . . Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:5-9).


Thursday, September 10, 2020

“God does His deepest work in our darkest hours”

Dear Henri Nouwen wrote, “Our inclination is to show our Lord only what we feel comfortable with.”

How true that is.

But how foolish we are to believe we can hide anything from God! He knew all about my ugly messes and desperate struggles during my first few days in Lomalinda. (See several recent posts.)

Nouwen continued, “But the more we dare to reveal our whole trembling self to Him, the more we will be able to sense that His love, which is perfect love, casts out all our fears.”

We can be vulnerable in God’s presence. We can’t be anything else!

But—oh! Being vulnerable with God hurts. It hurts our pride. We feel ashamed of our failures and weaknesses, ashamed of our sins—ashamed of ourselves, ashamed before God.

And yet, when we feel the bonds of guilt overwhelming us, God brings us dear encouragers, people like Marie Chapian, who points us to God’s words in Isaiah 44:22, “I have blotted out as a thick cloud your transgressions, and as a cloud your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” (Amplified Bible)

Then Marie writes this, as if God were speaking to us:

Confess your sins so I can forgive you, relieving you of the painful burden of sin and failure.

“You tend to see yourself as unclean, as far removed from all that is heavenly. I see you as My precious child.

“You tend to see yourself as a hopeless backslider, a poor refugee. I see you as Mine.

You can never dig too deep a hole for Me to pull you out. . . .

Do not think of your Lord as a man, quick to anger, vengeful and spiteful. . . .

The Father abundantly pardons. . . .

Hear Me in the wrestling of your mind. . . .

I shall lift you up above guilt and shame. . . .

Confess to Me your wanderings. . . . Feelings of guilt do not make you holy or clean. . . .

Yield all your guilt to Me. In return I’ll give you a new and cleansed heart.” (from His Thoughts Toward Me by Marie Chapian, based on Isaiah 55:7, 8, 9; 54:11, 14) 

What loving, healing, hope-filled words! Heart-changing words! Life-changing words!

Indeed, from personal experience, AW Tozer knew the truth of those words when he wrote: “God does His deepest work in our darkest hours.”

Henri Nouwen knew the truth of them from personal experience, too: Lord, I promise I will not run away, not give up, not stop praying, even when it seems useless, pointless, and a waste of time and effort. I love you . . . and . . . I hope in you even though I often experience despair. . . .” (A Cry for Mercy)

Hope. Hope is what God asks of us. Hope in Him. Hope in what we can become in Him, hope in what He can do even when we’re in our darkest hours.


Noticing the good stuff, finding the joy

I began to notice more good stuff going on in Lomalinda .     God was offeri ng me new opportunities. He was offering me a new perspectiv...