Tag Archive | change

Stillness in trials

A young friend is dealing with harsh realities and the changing of her normal.  She is learning stillness in this trial.  Her email revealed her pain but it could not hide her faith.

As I consider her place, my thoughts go back to the year 1982, the Thanksgiving when my mother’s cancer diagnosis tookMother in 1982 over our lives.  She sat at the table that year barely eating anything because she had trouble breathing, but she didn’t want us to know it.  She didn’t want to spoil our holiday.  That was my mother.

Before the weekend was over, she was in the hospital having fluid drained from her lungs, the first of several times during the coming holidays.  It was the beginning of the end of her earthly life.  And it was the beginning of the changing of my normal. The changing of my world.

I could not imagine my life without my mother.  I was 32, and he was still my best friend.

That Thanksgiving ushered in a change in me, and it sent me on a search. I had to face all the things I thought I knew about prayer and faith and believing.  My mother was dying, and I could not change that no matter how hard I tried.

It was a journey of several months that took me to God’s words about faith, about trusting Him even when I don’t get what I desperately want.  I learned in that process that the greatest faith is trusting Him even though.  Even though the fig tree is bare.  Even though the cattle stall is empty.  Even though the fields do not produce a crop. Even then, He is God and He is good and He is deserves my worship.

It was one of the hardest trials of my life and a lesson of stillness, resting the results with the Father who loves me and knows what is best for me and for those I love.

I try to figure out what others need and pray that for them.  I ask for my needs when I pray.  I am specific and sometimes I am vague.  I often feel like my prayers are feeble.  Yet I find peace in this: God knows what I need before I ask; the Holy Spirit intercedes for me according to the will of God; and Jesus my Great High Priest, has gone beyond the veil of the Holiest place to provide mercy and grace for every need.

One of my favorite authors, Jan Karon who writes about a small town called Mitford, often quotes in her book about “the prayer that never fails.”  She is referencing these simple words, “The will of the Lord be done.”

Some may disagree, that instead we should utter commanding prayers and believe to receive what we want.  I think the pathway to stillness is trusting a mighty God who can do the impossible and who will do what is best for me, for Sweet William, for my Tulsa family too-far-away, and for other family and friends.

I still get specific when I pray.  More often these days, I finish with “Your will be done in all of it.”  In my feeble way of expressing myself, God sees the deeper needs and knows how to accomplish His purpose in it all.

Your will be done, Father.  If it was good enough for Jesus, then it must be good enough for me.

Today  I am listening to this:

Expect a change

I tried to keep a diary when I was a little girl.

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On January 1st I had the best of intentions, to write daily, to keep a record of the days of my young life.  But by mid February or so, I’d skipped too many days and lost the desire to keep at it.  My perfectionist personality (even at this tender age) made me feel like I’d failed if every day was not filled in to my satisfaction.  Yes, I set high standards for myself.

Years later I took up journaling which was more to my liking.  I could write one day and skip several or even a week and it was OK.  Because journaling is a record of a life not just a daily record.

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Sometimes I read old journals just to remember what was going on.  Today, I found myself back at January of this year.  I was preparing to leave my position as Academy of Arts Director at Little Flock Baptist Church, where I worked almost seven years.  They were really good years but that season of my life was coming to an end.

My last day was January 17th and I had planned to finish a few more details of the job with my successor, say good-bye to co-workers who were friends now, and then Sweet William and I were going to celebrate at Olive Garden with a dear couple whose wife had recently retired.

But then the weather changed and the snow fell and my plans took a detour.

My successor could not get out of her driveway.  The  co-worker/friends were not at there desks for me to say good-bye.  The anticipated dinner at Olive Garden was canceled.  And I was a little let down that my retirement celebration was crumbling.

Then I heard a gentle whisper from the Holy Spirit.  “Expect a change of plans.”  That is what I recorded in my journal.

When such a message comes to me, I tend to pay attention.  My plans for retirement are subject to change so I had better be ready for it.

As I think about my first year of “being retired,” it has certainly been different than what I anticipated.  Things I’d wanted to do had to be let go.  A trip to Tulsa to see three precious grandchildren was canceled.  Sweet William had another surgery.  Projects I hoped to complete never even got started.

It has most certainly been a year of changed plans.  Sometimes change can lay me low as I try to adjust and regroup.  But what remains unchanged is ultimately what is really important, what lifts up my weak hands and strengthens my feeble knees.

I am still loved.  Prayers never vanish or waste away but are before the throne of the Almighty.  Our needs are met daily.  My sins are forever forgiven.  Grace is still enough.

God is ever faithful in His extravagant love for us. His plan for my salvation and an eternal home with Him is set in stone, the chief cornerstone of Christ’s death and resurrection.

And with a heart of thanksgiving, I can rest in His unchangeableness.