Monthly Archives: April 2010

Weights or Wings?

There is an “aha” moment in the life of every young eagle. The revelation comes at the most opportune time, during the worst crisis of its life, while it is plummeting towards the earth. Forces of gravity yank it faster and faster toward the ground. Utter panic sets in as it desperately scrambles to break its fall. It instinctively tries to lighten itself. As it attempts to push off the two “weights” that have dangled at its side, it discovers their true purpose. The weights catch air, giving the bird lift. It soars; visiting heights it could have never attained, if not for its mortifying freefall to earth. No wonder its mother pushed it out of the nest, catching it before impact over and over, until it learned a central truth of its existence, that those weights are wings.

The greatest crisis in my 50 years of life was an appointment with the ground during my battle with Stage IV metastatic melanoma. He had pushed me out of the nest to learn that my weaknesses are my true strengths. My education continues. He catches me each time I fall; each time I fail to flap. So be patient with yourself and others, until we all grasp a central truth of our existence, those weights are wings that lift us to God.

Paul said his weights were wings in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

Isaiah had an aha moment too, though it appears his readers hadn’t yet:

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary. And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:28-31).

What is weighing you down today? Only what can lift you up tomorrow.

His Shouts of Deliverance

A while back I was working with one of my students, and in the middle of the lesson he said to me, “Ms. Terri, did you know that we are made of more nothing than something?” He proceeded to tell me how science has proven that cells have more empty space, than filled space. More nothing than something. At first I laughed at him, and then I got excited because in Colossians 1:17 it says, “In Him all things hold together.” And in Ephesians 1:23 it says Jesus, “Fills all and is in all.” Made me think maybe there is more of Him in me than me, which opens up all kinds of possibilities.

The invisible is becoming more real; especially since what I see is often overwhelming and out of my control. Talking to an invisible God, Who holds everything together, is a faith walk into the invisible. So, reading Psalm 32:7, I say His words out loud to Him, “You are my hiding place; you preserve me from trouble, and surround me with shouts of deliverance.”

I want to hear His “shouts of deliverance.”
How do I do that?
I have to quiet my heart to hear.

He says they are “shouts.” Listen to these shouts.
*Nails pounded into His hands and feet (delivering me from punishment for my sin).
*Thorns placed
on His head (a reminder that He bears the thorns we deal with everyday).
*The vinegar He drank (drinking the comfort He gives in the middle of letting go of all my dreams).
*His tears
of blood (bearing the anxieties, worries and fears of future trials). 
*Dragging His own cross
(so that we could benefit from His Resurrection Life today).
*Then finally His last shout, “IT IS FINISHED.”

That invisible Resurrected Life keeps shouting to me to “see” His deliverance in the midst of the visible.
“You are complete in me” (Colossians 2:10).
“I will never leave you” (John 14:18).
“You are righteous in Me” (Romans 4:8).
“You are completely forgiven” (1 John 2:9).
“Enter My rest” (Hebrews 4:3).
“There is no condemnation for those who are In Me” (Romans 8:1).
“Take My Peace, it’s not like the world’s peace” (John 14:19).
“Abide in My unconditional Love” (1 John 2:28).
“Cast your cares on me, for I care for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
“I will help you overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:13).
“Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

More Than Enough!

During my battle with Stage IV metastatic melanoma, the Lord really used a devotional book, Streams in the Desert, to encourage me and to help me make sense of my sufferings. In one entry, there is a very inspirational quote from a pastor named Charles Spurgeon. The gist of the quote is that His resources are way more than enough to handle any need we have. It is a powerful illustration.

“The other evening I was riding home after a heavy day’s work; I was wearied and depressed; and swiftly and suddenly as a lightning flash, this text laid hold of me: “My grace is sufficient for you!” (2 Corinthians 12:9). When I got home, I looked it up in the original, and finally it dawned upon me what the text was saying, MY grace is sufficient for YOU. “Why,” I said to myself, “I should think it is!” and I burst out laughing. It seemed to make unbelief so absurd. It was though some little fish, being very thirsty, was troubled about drinking the river dry; and Father River said; “Drink away, little fish, my stream is sufficient for you!” Or as if a little mouse in the granaries of Egypt after seven years of plenty, feared lest it should die of famine, and Joseph said, “Cheer up, little mouse, my granaries are sufficient for you!” Again I imagined a man on the mountain top saying to himself, “I fear I shall exhaust all the oxygen in the atmosphere.” But the earth cries, “Breathe away, O man, and fill your lungs; my atmosphere is sufficient for you!”

So drink, eat and breathe in His super abundant grace to comfort, strengthen and heal you! And remember, there is more where that came from.

That Changed My Life

You know the saying, “That changed my life.”
Only once in my life was I ever able to say it, the day Jesus came into my heart to live.

Until Joe’s cancer.
That changed my life too… mainly in the area of battling thoughts.
I now have days I am assaulted with fears. I realize my life could change in a day with some unforeseen tragedy. I had thought my life was pretty much under control… but that was before.

I’m having to face God with the real “faith” I have, or don’t have. It has been humbling. But I can cast myself on His abundant grace while I am trying to set my feet on solid ground. His grace is my safe place right now.

I had thought my faith was about trusting Him to answer my prayers, hear my worries and help me be a “good” Christian. Now…
I’m hearing Him say He wants my friendship. He wants to tell me how He is thinking and feeling about stuff.

I think of what was said of Moses in Exodus 33:11, “The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.” Do I want that type of friendship? I realize it won’t be all about me.
It will mean more listening. It will be His voice I long for — His presence.

There might be long bouts of silence, where He is just with me, with no entertainment, or big mission to accomplish. He might share with me His heart and His perspective on suffering… which makes me wait for His timing to rescue, because He has a bigger plan.

Prayer changes for me… It comes from His point of view, and I know He hears me because He is sharing His heart and I am asking the things that delight Him.

This has changed my life… I have a Friend I’m learning to know and love, because He has loved me first and has chosen me to be His friend.

John 15.13-16: “Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”

YOUR Resurrection Day

When I was battling cancer, there was a topic that frequently crossed my mind, but I did not want to discuss it. Frankly, I did not appreciate it when others raised the issue with my wife, Terri, or I. We were so deep into survival mode, the last thing I wanted to talk about was the d-word – death. You see I was swimming for my life. Pausing to consider that I might not make it to shore seemed so counter productive. “I need to keep on swimming as fast as I can. Faster now. Faster.”

Yet Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, taught us a contrary approach to our own deaths. “It is better to go to a house of mourning than a house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). Death doesn’t go away because we refuse to think about it. Solomon is suggesting that whether we live seventy more years, or seventy more hours, we should be preparing for the next life, and living each day as though it was our last.

Jesus often attempted to prepare His followers for His death. He told them He would be beaten and crucified. Yet, He also taught them that He would rise; that ultimately death would not have the last word. Later, Paul extended Christ’s victory to us! “Christ is the first fruits, after that, at His Second coming, those who are Christ’s will also rise” (1 Corinthians 15:23). So Jesus’ resurrection is actually a foretaste of our own resurrection from the dead, that is, if we truly belong to Christ*.
Now I am definitely not suggesting anyone give up on their fight. No way. But I am saying that Easter helps us lose our fear of the ultimate unpleasantry, so that we can face it square in the eye, and proclaim with Paul, “Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting” (1 Corinthians 15:55). Thank you, Lord, for Christ’s rising, as it means that we too can rise!

*For more on how to know if you belong to Christ – click here.