Anxiety vrs The God Who Fights for Me

Sometimes life is bigger than me. Actually, a lot of times life is bigger than me… My problem is admitting that little fact. Admitting weakness is not something that comes easy for me. I guess I come from a long line of the “never let them see you sweat” type. So not letting you see me sweat is my specialty. Not asking for help is one of my mantras, not necessarily a good one, but definitely one. So laying this out there is a little uncomfortable, but needs to be said. Mainly because I’ve been stewing on it for about a week. So someone probably needs to hear this…

You’re not alone. I know I need to hear that from time to time too.

A few days ago, I hopped in my car and opened my Amazon Music app. I figured I needed to find something new to listen to and one of the suggestions was Bethel’s new album, “Revival’s in the Air”. As I was listening, I was struck by the song “Egypt” with Cory Asbury. I’ve found myself listening to it over and over. As one who struggles with anxiety, I found the words comforting.

“You’re the God who fights for me
Lord of every victory
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
You have torn apart the sea
You have led me through the deep
Hallelujah
Hallelujah”

I’ve tried a lot of different things to try to bring peace while fighting the war inside of me through the years. Not that I don’t ever experience the peace, but the fears, the feelings, the thoughts, sometimes become more than I know how to fight. As an outspoken lover of Jesus, this seems to be a contradiction to some to admit that there are times that what I fight becomes bigger than my ability to see Him clearly in all my situations. Sometimes I doubt. Sometimes I fear. Sometimes I hide. Sometimes I struggle with guilt over things beyond my control. That’s why these lyrics resonated so clearly with me this week. I am clearly weak, but “in my weakness He is made strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 God is not surprised by my struggles, or yours for a matter of fact. He is the one who steps in where we are at and fights for us against the foes that are stronger than us, even if that foe is waging war between your ears- in your mind. The battle right now may feel greater than what you are able to endure, but He does not leave us alone in it. God assures us that “His grace is sufficient for us”.

Looking back over the years of my life I can see that God truly is the one “who fights for me, and He is the Lord of every victory.” He’s done it time and time again, and He will do it many more times. He’s not in the business of leaving us alone in disgust, because of struggles. He is the one who sees, hears, and moves on our behalf.

My favorite Psalm is Psalm 40. Especially verses 1-3, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him..” More than once, I’ve found God faithful to take me out of situations beyond me and set me in a place of security. He did not fail me then, and He will not fail me now. His faithfulness extends beyond what I’ve experienced. He has abounding Grace not only for me but for you where you are against your foe that is bigger than you. He will step into your Egypt!

We’ll Meet You There!

When you closed your eyes

And drew your last breath,

What looked to us as the end of your life

Was really not death.

You stepped from this world

Into glories unknown

You ran into the arms of Jesus 

Forever at home.

There in that Place of eternal delight

You were surrounded by others

Who have went on before us

What a glorious sight!

There they all stood:

Our Grandmas and Grandpas,

Countless others,

There smiling, was Dad!

You wait patiently for us.

Watching us from above

Cheering us on in that great cloud of witnesses

With the ones gone before us, the ones that we love.

We’ll soon be together

Eternally grateful Jesus’ words are true

One by one we will gather

We’ll be there together again with you!

(We love you Mom Nelson!  We’ll run our race faithfully for Jesus, and We’ll see you again soon!

We’ll meet you there!)

Thoughts on Life and Death

The plight of a middle aged woman… a new season is upon me. I’ve blogged quite a bit on it recently. My life is transitioning. I’ve went from minivans, toddlers, chauffeuring the kids to summer swimming lessons… to a sports car, kids in their 20’s (one teenager left), and spending the morning at the bedside of my mother in love in long term care as she lies here going through her own transitions as well battling the final stages of cancer.

Watching her as she steps one by one into the final stages of death has brought me to a place of great contemplation. (There’s plenty of time to think as you sit in the quiet watching someone breathe). When I was younger I was fairly certain I was the master of my destiny, or at least I had a pretty good say over it. Do everything just right, speak the right words, confess the right scriptures, and do the right stuff. Things will go my way and I will change my world. It’s easy when you’re in the middle of building your life: cars, houses, careers, kids, etc. Making decisions and taking action to forget how much you actually control. It’s funny, (not ha ha funny) that we can so quickly forget what we actually control until pain comes, tragedy strikes, or we sit watching a loved one slip away into eternity. The list of all the things we think we are in control of dwindles down to little or nothing. Thankfully God truly does control it all.

I’ve often objected to such a view of God because I felt it reduced me to nothing more than a pawn in God’s chess game of life. The older I get, I see the comfort of knowing that God truly has every aspect of my life in His hands.

It’s easy, as the self made woman, when things are going my way, to feel good about my smart decisions, my fortunate circumstances, and how I deserve to pat my own back. When it all falls apart, I look around wondering where God was and why He didn’t bail me out. Questions and mistrust come in the wake of such circumstances. Knowing that God is in control in both the good and the bad, the big things and the little, brings peace. Because I am sure that the same God who values my life enough to send His son to die and pay the price for it, is the same God who values me and my broken heart more than I could ever know when I walk through pain and sorrow. He doesn’t leave me or forsake me. He has all this and eventually it will turn around for my good. Even if “my good” is leaving behind my temporary home, my body, by dying. It is then I receive my eternal body, my eternal home, The ultimate good in store for those who are in Christ.

Sitting here today has brought to mind that it would do me good to not be so attached to all the things here. I am passing through. The focus that brings peace is a life centered on the Holy One, Jesus, who assures me that this earth is not the end all. He has went away to prepare a place for me so where He is I can be there also.

Even though there is much here I love about my life and many more joys I plan to experience here, this cannot compare to Heaven. This life I live right now is just the prelude to the “Masterpiece of Heaven” God has written for my life to play a part in. For my mother in love, lying in front of me, the full orchestra of her life has only heard the tap of the conductor’s baton. The beauty of the Eternal Concert in Heaven has barely begun.

(Much comfort was found looking at this book that was placed in my Mother in Love’s hospice room.”Hope in the Dark” by Bart Larson. Years ago I knew Bart’s wife. I knew he was a hospice chaplain. That piqued my interest. It is where I found these quotes. Once again God weaves the details of our lives together. It is a good read.)

“Farther Along”

I grew up the daughter of the church pianist (my mom) and grand daughter (my grandma) of the church song leader, what they used to call worship leader in some churches back in the day. As the regular part of church worship service, someone would come prepared with a “special”. Usually a hymn or song that they sang solo or duet with someone. With all the music running through my family line, I would be asked on the regular to sing or play something on the piano. It wasn’t my favorite experience since my fingers would shake so hard on the keys of the piano from nerves. I usually had a few screw ups in each song. The small church of 30 or less would talk about how wonderful I did when I sat down. (Very generous of them)

My mom and grandma usually sang a special every week. Their voices blended smoothly as they sang songs outside of the usual congregational music, hymns, that were sang.

Frequently, they sang this song , “Farther Along” (a little differently) as a “special” when I was growing up. Since I was an “80’s Rocker” in my teen years, I didn’t really think too much about it. It wasn’t my style. Funny how things change… I often think of them singing this song now. I finally get why Grandma loved the words of this song.
I came across the verse above this morning in my Bible reading. I’ve had a hard week. My mother in love has spent this week in the hospital after a fall that broke her femur. Cancer has complicated things and we have been left with a great need for a miracle.

There has been a wide range of emotions within our family as we’ve tried to help her and be there for her the past few days. Probable one of the hardest things is not understanding why.

Suffering is hard to wrap your mind around when stacked up against the fact that God is good and He loves us. There’s been many books written, sermons spoken, and ideas expressed on the “Why?”.

I’ve had to conclude during my 49 times riding around the sun that it’s ok to not understand everything that happens on earth. I’m not God. I am finite. I don’t see the full picture. The comfort is that that when I see Jesus, I will understand. Because I will finally see Him as He is and all the secret things will be revealed. Quite honestly, when I do see Him all the things that I didn’t understand won’t matter so much any more. Because it is then that I step into the place where there will be no more pain, no more crying, no more dying, etc and I experience fully without anything holding me back, God’s love: the heights, the depths, the length, the width of its infinite bounds.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.””
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:3-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Pour Out Your Heart to Him- He Already Knows What’s Inside

I’ve often thought that the Psalms of David in the Bible are perfect examples of how God does not expect us to live in denial for the sake of “Faith”. David had this way of taking the good, the bad, and the ugly to God. At times, his writings were gut wrenchingly honest. He told God about his fears, his doubts, his trials, his anger, etc…and still God commended David not for how perfect his faith was, but how in all things David pursued Him and was “a man after God’s own heart.”

This morning I have been contemplating Psalm 62:8.

I am a “stuffer”. I’ve been one for a long time. Adversity hits and I try my best to push down the feelings that arise from dealing with it. I’m not British, but the whole “stiff upper lip” thing would be my mantra if I could only achieve it, but quite honestly, that isn’t working so well for me. Apparently “stuffing” oozes out after awhile, whether it be in depression or anxiety, or both. After awhile it begins to take it’s toll. It’s the little things, like lack of sleep, loss of interest in activities, etc. that start to add up to the big things and boom, you’re overwhelmed. That is where David’s words written thousands of years ago offers wisdom for a “stuffer” like me. “Pour out your heart to Him”.

I’m not sure what makes the proposition of telling God exactly what you’re feeling so scary. He already knows it. He’s God. Letting it out and leaving it in the open gives Him the opportunity to work with it. Stuffed away it is held on tightly by ourselves and He’s not going to barge in and rip it from our hands to work with it.

Mark 9:14-29 is an account of a man who brings his tormented son to Jesus. He had brought the boy to Jesus’ disciples prior, and they were unable to deliver him from the demons that haunted him. The man says something that does not fit comfortably in the circles of some schools of thought regarding faith. He says, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” to Jesus. Jesus responds with, “If you can?… Everything is possible for one who believes.” The man then says, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” I don’t know how many times I have sat in this man’s shoes. I’ve tried everything I know to fix a situation on my own. I find myself at Jesus’ feet, wanting to say “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us”. All the while, I know Jesus can do anything. I believe, but I need help to overcome my unbelief. The comfort I find is that in this man’s honesty he did not find Jesus turning him away saying, “You didn’t believe right. I cannot do anything for you.” Instead, Jesus cast the spirit out of the boy and brought wholeness and healing to a seemingly helpless situation. The man “poured out his heart” to Jesus. He did not hide what was inside, and Jesus responded.

The words of Paul in Philippians 4:6-7 have been rolling around in my heart as well this week.

The Passion Translation really struck a chord in me, “Tell Him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.” “Tell Him every detail…” that includes the areas of struggle, fear, anxiety, anger, bitterness, etc. Letting God in on everything, letting the “stuffing” out is the key to peace and answers for the struggles and questions we face.

Tough times are upon us: Nationally, Spiritually, and the daily stuff as well. To be honest, tough times are upon me. Denying the struggle does not make it go away, but taking every aspect, “every detail” to God and telling Him is the key. Letting the feelings out so I can let Him in: His answers, His peace. It is only at that point that I can experience God the way David did, as a “refuge” from the storm and the winds of adversity that blow and rest in His peace.

“There Was Jesus”

July 2nd 1984, 36 years ago at a small church camp, Camp Sharon, was where I had my awakening. It was where I suddenly became aware of God’s desire, not just for me to give my life to Him, but my awakening to His desire for me to be close to Him. It all started when He began calling to me to let Him have everything, my plans, my life, my hurts, etc.

For an 8th grade girl, I’m sure I had become quite a surprise to those around me. I wanted to do this relationship right, and I wasn’t sure how to get there. I went to the local Christian Bookstore and bought a book that talked about how to have a relationship with God. It covered praying and reading the Bible. It said I should read 10 chapters of the Bible a day. So that is what I did. I wanted to experience God. Not just know about Him. I would spend hours in my room reading the Bible and praying. It was such a surprising response that my mom, a faithful Christian, was worried about just how much I was reading and pursuing. She was afraid that I would burn out on it. I was just HUNGRY. Hungry to know more of that feeling of peace and love I felt kneeling and uncontrollably sobbing in the sawdust near the altars of an outdoor church camp tabernacle. I remember telling God, “If you really want me you can have me.” It’s funny how much I didn’t understand. “really want me”?!?! He wanted me so much He walked the lonely road of Calvary and died on a cross to make a relationship with me possible. He tugged at my heart so heavily that night at camp that no matter how hard I tried to walk away, I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I’m so glad I didn’t! I left that time of prayer new and free and filled with joy!

Through the years I’ve had my “hot on fire, so close to you” relationship with God, and others I’ve had my “It’s getting cold, where are you at God?” relationship. I’ve had my times of feeling like I had it all together and understood it. I’ve had times when I understood that I will never have it together and I won’t ever understand life. 36 years that Jesus was right there. His Holy Spirit living inside of me gently speaking to me which way I should go even when on my own I couldn’t figure out the way.

Lately I’ve been listening to Zac William’s album “Rescue Story”. I kind of have a tendency to get stuck on a song that speaks to me. Surprisingly to me, the song that sticks out to me the most off that album is a duet with Dolly Parton. “There Was Jesus”.

It hits where I find myself as of late. I’ve been looking at where I am in my life, where I’ve been, and where I’m going. The thing about the lyrics of that song that sticks out to me is that no matter where we’ve been, no matter where we are, no matter where we go, “There Was Jesus”. So the days of blessing that I laugh and smile through, He’s there enjoying the times of joy with me. The days that I struggle to understand and see, He’s there holding me up showing me the next step to take. He’s there with me when I feel nothing. He’s there with me when I feel it all.

I’ve been pretty open on this blog about my struggles and questions. It’s kind of the outlet I’ve chosen to let what I’m think about on the inside come out. You all get a little picture of what I’ve been contemplating as you take the time to read my thoughts. Most of the time I am able to lay out “the good, the bad, and the ugly”, but somehow take the turn back to the only answer I’ve found that resonates inside of me, Jesus. Struggles that we all face, whether they be depression, anxiety, addictions, PTSD, abuse, disappointment, etc. only find meaning and healing when looked at in the light of the presence of the only one who has been there for it all, Jesus, the love of our souls. The only One who is able to speak peace into storms of life, bring the dead things that we’ve given up on back to life, take a broken, wrecked life and make it a masterpiece is Jesus.

I can analyze my hurts, categorize my issues- give them names, and get understanding. These aren’t altogether bad things to do, but I shouldn’t stop there. I need to take the tools I learn to deal with the things I struggle with, and go to Jesus asking Him to heal what only He can heal. Do my part and let Him do the rest.

He has proven Himself faithful. I can trust Him where I’m going, even when I cannot see.

“There was Jesus”.

Jesus is there. Jesus was there, Jesus will be there.

Follower of Jesus- Shining Star in Dark Times

Corrie Ten Boom has been one of my more modern heroes of the faith. I’ve read her book “The Hiding Place” and watched the movie several times. Her courage as a middle aged woman to hide Jews in her home during the occupation of Nazi Germany and her survival of Ravensbrück concentration camp have long struck a chord within me. I’m not sure why. As I’ve watched the news unfold the past few weeks I’ve thought often of how she must have felt as the Germans began to occupy Holland and she was confronted with the reality of going with the flow of society or doing what is right in the eyes of God. I’ve spent this evening relaxing and looking at quotes from Corrie. There have been so many that have shaped me through the years. In my searching, I found one that has resonated greatly in my heart tonight. It is from a letter Corrie wrote in 1974. I was 3 years old when this was written, yet it holds so very true today. “The world is deathly ill. It is dying. The Great Physician has already signed the death certificate. Yet there is still a great work for Christians to do. They are to be streams of living water, channels of mercy to those who are still in the world. It is possible for them to do this because they are overcomers. Christians are ambassadors for Christ. They are representatives from Heaven to this dying world. And because of our presence here, things will change.”

Corrie Ten Boom and The Hiding Place in her home that saved Jews during World War 2

I too have been horrified at the murder of George Floyd, and I am greatly disturbed by the chaos that seems to spin more and more out of control, add all this to a global Pandemic. We are in the middle of “the Perfect Storm”. I have often referred to 9/11 as being one of the saddest times in my life as my heart ached for my nation. But I am sensing that the times we are in are starting to compare if not surpass that horrific event. The division, lawlessness, hatred, etc. It is heart breaking. It is as Corrie wrote 46 years ago, a world that is “deathly ill.” and “dying”. I’ve often told those around me things similar, but probably not with the urgency I feel for it today, and as Corrie wrote, the followers of Jesus are the ones with the cure for this death sentence because we are the “representatives from Heaven.” We have the antidote!! We have the cure!! The question that plays in my mind is “How do we administer this cure that our dying world desperately needs?” Really it is, “What am I to do?”

I live in the country. The other night, after a trip to the closest city and it’s Menards, we arrived in my circle drive and I stepped out of my car into the darkness that our few lights around our house provides. I looked up at the sky and breathed in the fresh air and was amazed by the stars. I can never get enough of them. They are so bright and they feel so close in the darkness that surrounds my rural home. I immediately thought of a couple of verses in Philippians that I had read recently “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” Philippians 2:14-15. My generation is “warped and crooked”. No right or wrong, good is bad, bad is good. Our hearts are far from God and this is a dark time. But those of us who know Jesus, are the children of God and we shine like the stars in the sky. When the darkness is great, His light shining through us is greater. When we shine the light of God’s hope, we are just as the stars I gazed upon that night, fascinatingly beautiful to a world that needs peace and answers. It also occurred to me as I gazed at the millions of stars on that clear night, It’s not just one star that makes me pause and breathe in a moment of peace. It is a sky full of them, doing what stars do best, shining. My dark world needs my star shining kindness to the cashier, shining generosity to my waitress, shining compassion to the lonely and hurting, shining assurance and peace to those around me rocked with uncertainty, shining love- God’s pure love to those pillaged and left to die in hatred’s wake. That is the light that when boldly joined by all the other Followers of Jesus, stars shining, breaks the power of darkness that cannot overcome God’s pure light even when the night seems to be as dark as our world has been lately.