Trust Walk

It was a hot, sunny summer day and family was in town, so we decided to spend the day at the beach. It sounds so simple, but a day at the beach actually includes lugging lawn chairs, umbrellas, towels, blankets, sand toys, sunscreen, snacks and drinks from the parking lot across 400 ft of blistering sand to the water.  There is a lot of stuff to carry!

We set up, enjoyed the water and sunshine and wore everyone out as we dug in the sand and played in the surf. When it was time to head back, we “broke camp” and gathered up all of our belongings, with my husband taking the lion’s share of equipment across the long, scorching beach.

Something happened to my husband on the trek back to the car.  He became so dizzy and lightheaded that he handed the keys to our son and asked him to drive us home.  On the short drive home he became drenched in a chilly sweat, despite the hot day, and began vomiting.  When his left arm began to hurt, he decided he needed to go directly to the hospital.

When you walk into an emergency room and say the words, “Heart Attack,” people respond immediately.  He was rushed back to a bay and hooked up to electrodes, amid other blood draws and tests.  Eventually it was decided that he would spend the night for observation and have more tests in the morning.

If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and walks like a duck, you would suspect it is a duck, but all tests showed no sign of a heart attack.  They released him in the afternoon with the diagnosis of “most likely acid re flux” and advised him to follow up with his primary physician.

The primary physician disagreed with the ER diagnosis and ordered MORE tests.  These failed to show anything that could have caused the “episode” but did reveal a rather significant partial blockage of the small intestine.  He was referred to a GI specialist.

This is scary stuff.  Most Googled remedies toss around the word “FATAL” way too much for our comfort.  The GI Dr. ordered even more tests and scheduled a colonoscopy  a couple weeks out. 

It is hard not to “future trip” when frightening medical reports surface.  It is a real battle to keep your focus on Jesus and daily renew your mind, making the choice to trust Him, no matter what the results.  (In reality, what other options are there?)

We received the results of the very detailed testing just before my husband was wheeled back for the colonoscopy and the findings were good.  After the colonoscopy, the GI Dr. spoke with us and said, ” I have no idea what showed up as a partial intestinal blockage, because everything looks fine.”

How often do we carry stuff we don’t need to carry when we hear bad news?  Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11: 28-30  We can trust him in the middle of bad news.  1 Peter 5:7 instructs us to cast all our anxiety on him (Jesus) because he cares for us. Despite the struggle to keep my focus on Jesus, I was incredibly relieved to hear the Dr. say that the blockage was gone and everything looks fine!

Someone asked me, “So, was it a miracle or a smudge on the film?”  I don’t know.  I DO know that I serve a great big God who is fully capable of performing miracles.  I have seen God’s hand work in miraculous ways many times in my life and in the lives of others.  And I know that with Jesus there is peace in the midst of frightening medical reports and an uncertain future.

This incident just provided another opportunity to practice my “Trust Walk;”  just another opportunity to trust Jesus.

 

 

 

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And The Lord says, “Trust Me.”

My trust muscle is getting stretched some more today. It has been a grueling summer of selling our home (twice!), moving cross country, and a blur of packing and unpacking. I have purged, and packed, and wept as I have let go of items of sentimental value, and said good-bye to dear friends and a house and property that I loved.

On the flip side of all that stress, is the awesome revival of a dead dream. I lived here before and hated leaving my church, my friends, my home, and my life. And now, years later after all hope was gone, The Lord opened the door and made a way for me to return. But, my joy today is tempered with a dose of frustration.

And, this frustration is over a house! I want to be settled into a “forever house” with a yard for a garden. For months I have been long-distance stalking home sales via the internet, but was never in a position to seriously look, until now. I have watched most of the homes that I have liked and could afford to buy progress from “for sale” to “pending” to ultimately “sold.” Apparently my tastes must be similar to most other home buyers; the houses I like seem to be snapped up in a hurry.

Today’s pending home sale was the last home on my original “watch list.” It has an accepted offer and is no longer officially on the market. Sales contracts sometimes fall through; I personally experienced it this summer on the FIRST sale of our home. The Lord is faithful, and ten days later we received an even better offer and were able to close the sale.

This is another opportunity to trust Jesus; another opportunity to reflect on His faithfulness, restoration, and love for me and not get tangled up in the weeds of circumstances. But, silly human that I am, I tend to be short-sighted and lose focus on the big picture. My gerbil-brain forgets all of the times The Lord has provided for me time and time again. I get caught in the thistles of here and now and am easily distracted. But He is faithful, and The Lord says, “Trust me.”

Feeling Sheepish?

“We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way;” Isaiah54:6

Last summer my family and I visited a Celtic Festival. It was an afternoon filled with great bagpipe music, River-dances, cooking lessons (haggis!), jousting, games, and sheep-herding.
Of all the events, the sheep-herding demo was the most impressive. One shepherd and one border collie v.s. a flock of ornery, strong-willed, cantankerous sheep. As the shepherd signaled the dog with whistles, hand motions and calls, the little collie rounded up the band of sheep and deposited them safely in their pen. The sheep tried everything they could to outwit the dog, breaking formation and running in the opposite direction of where they were intended to go, but eventually were secured within their safety zone.

Sheep are obstinate, stubborn animals and are determined to do what they want to do. They lack discernment and will happily eat poisonous plants, and will nibble the grass down to the root if the shepherd does not move the herd to prevent over-grazing. When one sheep decides to run off a cliff, the rest of the herd will devotedly follow the leader. The shepherd and his dog must be on constant guard for danger and take immediate action to protect the herd.

Interestingly, the Bible often calls US sheep, and there are definitely similarities that we share with these creatures.

For example, we know that some things are just not good for us, but we insist on trying them anyway. We reason, “I won’t EAT it, I just want a LICK! One little lick won’t hurt.” And before we know it, the carton of ice cream is empty!

We are obstinate and strong-willed. These can become the great traits of determination and single-focused mindset if they are used to accomplish great things for God’s Kingdom, but too often they are used to satisfy our own fleshly desires and prevent us from achieving God’s best.

Despite God’s great love and plans for our life, we rarely cooperate on our own own, forcing Him to “herd” us by means of the Holy Spirit. Have you ever been “herded” by God?

I used to attend a little country church in Pennsylvania. The small congregation felt like a family, with everyone concerned about one another and involved in each other’s lives. When one person stubbed their toe, the rest of the congregation said, “Ouch!” I loved that little church family and was deeply grieved when my husband’s job relocated our family to the metropolis of Hampton Roads, VA.

We found a much larger church (4,400 members) and fled after a few weeks in desperate search of discovering a little country church in the big city. Although we visited many smaller churches, we always felt a strong “NO” in our spirits until we surrendered and returned to the larger church we had originally found. Transitioning from the little country church to that big city church was a culture shock. It was much like moving from a one-room schoolhouse to a university. But it was there that the Lord moved us into ministry and taught me how to lead small groups and teach. He had good things in store for me, but I had to be “herded” there to find them.

One would think that a sheep would reason, “Every where that dog herds me, I find a soft bed, good drinking water, great food and safety. I think I’ll just cooperate with him.” But, the sheep is always looking over its shoulder, wondering what it is missing. Every time God “herds” us, He has good things in store for us, too. But how often do we surrender and cooperate with the Holy Spirit? Whether out of a lack of trust, or out of our own self-centered desires, we often act like those Celtic Festival sheep. We race around, expending unnecessary energy, trying to avoid the very things that our shepherd has designed for our good.

Our God gives good things to His children. He has a wonderful plan and future for us if we will only cooperate with Him. Remember that God always has your best interest at heart and is completely trustworthy. Cooperate with the leading of the Holy Spirit and don’t act like an ornery, cantankerous sheep.