A Cloud of Witnesses

Right now God is  leading me through what is probably the most painful experience of my adult life. It has been more painful than I realized anything could be. And I’ve fallen on my face so many times. It has been miserable, frankly. But, God has taught me more about Himself, and I have experienced more grace than at any time in my adult life. Funny how that works…

Probably the most amazing part of this experience, though, is how God has surrounded me with people; precious, kind, encouraging brothers and sisters who understand my pain. They have been comforted by God, and are being used by God to comfort me, just like 2 Cor 1:3-5 talks about. And that has been a sweet experience, in the midst of a very bitter and painful journey.

This isn’t the course I would choose, if given a choice. I’d much rather run around a well-maintained quarter-mile track for the race I’m supposed to run with endurance. This definitely feels more like a steeple chase than anything you run on a track. And it is one heck of a long chase, too…it’s been going on for months…

This isn’t my first rodeo, so I know where in the Scriptures to turn for encouragement and comfort. But sometimes those words ring so hollow. They don’t speak to my heart like they have in times past. So I’ve turned other places…places like Hebrews 11, and read over and over again about the heroes of old, who didn’t get to see what I often take for granted. They didn’t experience the intimate, indwelling presence of God through the Holy Spirit. They didn’t have easy access to an entire library of inspired words to read or meditate on. David’s cry, for God not to take His Spirit is because David knew what it was like to live without that indwelling presence!! When he said he meditated on God’s Word, anIMG00051-20110501-0852d hid it in his heart, it was from listening at the tabernacle, not because he could read it for himself!!

We have so many blessings, but we can lose sight of them in the midst of challenges or suffering. Which is why Hebrews 11 has been a focus of late…I wanted to see what I could learn from that “cloud of witnesses” who are cheering me on as I run this race set before me. And in so doing, I recognized that the cloud of witnesses isn’t limited to the pages of Scripture. God gives us all our own personal “cloud”…right here, right now.

For me, that cloud has come in the form of other mature, godly followers of Jesus who have walked through heartache like mine and lived to tell about it. And so many have. They have listened to me, prayed with me, cried with me and encouraged me. In short, they have been my cheerleaders. They’ve also spoken truth when I needed it, even when I didn’t appreciate their honest words spoken with incredible love.

This journey isn’t over. I haven’t finished this race. In fact, it is only beginning, and promises to get much worse before it gets any better. Which is why I’m so incredibly thankful for that living cloud of witnesses…I need frequent reminders to keep my eyes on my Savior instead of on the storm. And I need friends to help me get back up when I fall down. Or friends who will point out that I don’t have to wallow in the puddle I’ve fallen into. And because God loves me so much, He has not only provided all the heroes of old, but He has surrounded me with living, breathing, modern day, flesh-and-blood heroes as well. What an amazing gift.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 NLT

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You’re Different…

“You’re different…”. Those words that caught my attention as Chris spoke with some Jehovah’s Witness missionaries in our home this morning. Gracious, courteous, but passionate about the truth, Chris repeatedly shared the difference between a personal relationship with Jesus and what they teach. At one point, one of the gentlemen spoke up and said “You’re different. You aren’t like most of the Christians we meet…you have confidence, and hope…” Wow.

During the course of the conversation, I was struck by two things…their broad knowledge of Scripture, even if they are interpreting it incorrectly, and their statement that their homepage is the most widely translated religious website on the internet right now. How to verify their statement, I don’t know, but that they are making such a claim is rather sobering. We have the message of hope the world is looking for. We have the message of truth the world is desperate for. We have the transforming power of an intimate and personal relationship with the very Creator of the world. Yet, so many are turning to false religions. And that begs the question…why? What is it about the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses that is so attractive? Or, what is it about how they deliver their message that draws so many in? Why are so many being fooled and led astray? Difficult questions, but well worth asking…

It is also worth asking why Chris’s faith is so notably different from the faith of so many others these missionaries have spoken to. What sets him apart? What gives him the “confidence” these men noted? And is it something any follower of Jesus can enjoy?

The Sunday School answer is Jesus, but it is really encapsulated in this article from Cru.org. It has made a tremendous difference not only in Chris’s life, but in the lives of countless other believers as well. It is one of the most spiritual disciplines anyone can develop.

It is our privilege to meet with people in Spokane and share with them not only the hope available through a personal relationship with Jesus, but also how to plug into the power available through the Holy Spirit, especially when life doesn’t feel good or make sense. If you live in the Spokane area and are interested in learning more, leave a comment below so we can get in touch with you.

You’ll Have To Pry My Cold, Dead Fingers Off Those Plans

Wise, insightful words from a dear friend and precious sister in the Lord. Thank you, Dayle, for sharing this piece of your iceberg, and for letting God encourage others through you.

Tip of My Iceberg

I’m a closet passive/aggressive control freak.

That was so much harder to admit than I thought. I’m the adaptable one. The easy-going, go-with-the-flow kind of a gal who doesn’t stress over curve balls or wrenches thrown into the works. The one others rely on to be steady when the brown stuff hits the fan.

As long as I’ve got a grip on things.

John’s recovery from surgery has gone slower than I thought it would. Not that I expected him to be running around the block IMG_5846now, but the pain is at a level where he’s hardly moving.

He went off his pain meds after two days. Made him sick to his stomach. Couldn’t bend over to throw up in the bathroom, so he puked in the kitchen sink.

My kitchen isn’t the haven it once was.

I feel so bad for him, but there’s nothing I can do to…

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