Whatever is Pure - January 2008
Living Today In God's Hands
The concept of trusting God is an ongoing process of practicing to trust God. There is a difference between verbalizing the notion of "Trust God", and internalizing the reality into a life experience of revelation through prayer & it's fulfillment. When we have fears, we are not trusting God. When we have doubts, we are not trusting God. When we have overwhelming insecurities, we are not trusting God. For most people the idea of trusting God is all they hear, and on occasion read about. It hasn't been internalized through trials, difficulties, or trusted into faith. We are, for the most part, impatient, refuse to trust that God's timing is better than our own. Often our prayers are so desperate they get in the way of God's work. Our worries are so great, our own answers, so few, we want to push God's hand through self-centered prayer and place God on our own short deadline.
We never know our true mission in life till we learn the real internalization of trusting in God. I am not a theologian, I am a skilled craftsmen, somewhat trained in psychology, who attends an anxiety group nearly every week, for years, trying to come to simple successful terms of living, yet hard to comprehend, till you see the structure of the works, in life experiences. Trusting God is a matter of faith, yet our desperation & forcing of God's timetable for our lives- demonstrates to God our true lack of trusted faith. We want to push the time clock. For this reason of pushing the time clock, God will often offer mercy and grace (more concepts most of us don't truly understand)- keeping us in position till he determines the timing, in the larger plan, yet to unfold. In our darkness, of clutter and confused thought, we do not see the clearing; unable ourselves to unravel the misconnects of our own thought patterns.
I was trapped in such an dilemma. Full of worry, self doubt, fears-some very real, some imagined. Self-employed, low income, rising health care costs, the internal unset of personal health issues that were threatening my job and ability to generate income as I got older, now age 59. What would I do since, in my case, there would be no retirement? I had little support and no real family structure to count on- tended to be a loner of sorts. I saw a depression coming. I knew the symptoms. After all I’ve spent a lifetime learning to identify them. Even though I didn't feel like it I immediately sought out help with local social service resources before the emotional crash. But crash I did. Then I was bed ridden: ignoring all but basic necessities, the days passed. I prayed, then prayed, listened to church music and Christian messages, then prayed some more. Nothing happened. Silence was gouging in my ears. I felt as if God had slammed the door shut on my prayers, and said, "I got the message, n let me work". When faith is weak, hope is less; when hope is gone, faith weakens more.
It's a cycle out of control with thoughts racing for self solutions. When the personal wall of emptiness is hit, and you realize you don't have solutions, that it is now beyond your control and all you have is your nest egg of twisted thoughts-it's then that God, often, will intervene quietly behind the scenes. It was here, I truly relieved my pain and suffering- made a total commitment to God‘s will, turning over the worries, the problems, the issues, and faith for solutions to someone other than myself. I wrote a small inspirational piece and placed it on my desk with scotch tape and read it daily before doing anything in my day. The sense of relief is enormous. Rather than losing control I actually gained control by giving my need for control up. It was here I internalized the true concept of faith and giving my will over to God's plan not my own:
Today there is peace within me.
A transformation started at this point. In my case, the medication started to kick in; a trusted friend came into my business since he was getting older with his handyman services, and longed for something that would be less physically demanding; a personal lady friend came over daily offering support and structure to my unstructured life; my mother of 98 years passed away, leaving a small amount of monies that would help offset the rising cost of health care Then another intervention that would prop up my laagering self-esteem during a time of trial & lose. I had a huge box of unfinished, nearly forgotten poems beneath my work desk. Poetry seldom pays anything but self-esteem. There were poems dating back to early 1967, literally sitting idle in a box for over 40 years. I had no incentive, Most of the papers were tattered & torn, wrinkled old napkins folded over with
In my distress, fledgling hope, I noted on the internet the advent of electronic poetry submissions making it easier to submit, quicker to get responses than the old fashion way, submitting via mail. Knowing from early experiences in the 1970's that the chance of an unknown poet (especially one that failed creative writing class in university) getting a poem accepted for publication, with a quality journal, was about 3% or less out of a hundred submissions. I revised a few poems and submitted them, expecting nothing. To my astonishment, immediately poems were getting picked up for publication. Knowing, in my own mind, I was not a good writer, with each success I attributed the victory to God. Perhaps, my self perceptions was in error again. Just perhaps. Within four months I have published over 141 poems, in over 54 different online literary, poetry journals! No money, but a lot of self-esteem at a time of depression.
Trusting God is a process, an evolution of faith, grace, mercy; it happens over time, not on your time, but God's, personalized plan for you on his time. God hears the simple prayers. When you truly place your life in Gods hands, the fears, the doubts, the insecurities lift, reside in a much quieter place in your mind. Knowing each day that you
God had waved his wand over me; taught me a lesson about faith, turning my will over to God & his ultimate plan. When you turn your will over to God; make sure your praise him for your blessings as well.
God Is Love
My soul searches for a definition of who I be
My Times Are In Your Hands
Daylight Savings Time had ended and it was time to fall back. As I rest the many time pieces in my apartment, I chuckled as Psalm 31:15 came to mind. I am sure that the psalmist David was not speaking of clocks but the verses were apt to my unique method of setting the time. My clock radio is set a half hour later than the actual time in the vain hope that it might actually startle me to get out of bed at the first buzz rather than hitting the snooze button. My microwave's clock is always five minutes fast as is my CD player, they appear to tick to the beat of a different tocker. My cell phone refuses to acknowledge the passing of Daylight Savings Time, no matter how many times I reset it and I won't even mention the rebellion that dwells within my DVD player. Within the four walls of my apartment, I have many mini-time zones. When visitors need to know the exact time, I turn on my computer, confident in its precision.
Yet even with this embarrassment of riches of clocks, I am constantly running out of time. More times than I want to admit, I race out the door in order to successfully rendezvous with friends or to arrive promptly for scheduled appointments. So often at the end of the day I sadly realize 'time just slipped away' and much I had hoped to have accomplish was left undone.
Father God, in this hurry-scurry world we live in we have dictated our own schedules and attempted to manage our own time, only to be met with frustration and anxiety. We have failed to remember that we are no longer our own and that we've been bought with a great price. Our days are no longer solely ours to do with as we wish. Indeed, our time belongs in your hands. Father, we choose to wait on you as we pour over our day planners and we plan our monthly calendars. We surrender, giving you your rightful place - allowing you to change our schedules and rearrange them as you see fit, for our own benefit and so that we may bless those around us. We declare that you are the Lord of our lives and that time is no longer our master.
Fevers and Focus
"Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?"
It's good to be vertical. Especially after spending last week in bed, courtesy of a flu/respiratory virus that made Chinese water torture seem mild by comparison. One thing about an illness. There's nothing like a nasty virus to slow you down and give you time to think and focus-whether you want to or not.
We Type A personalities don't like slowing down. We have one speed: 90 mph with our hair on fire. Anything less seems slothful and snailish. We also tend to measure godliness with the dual "golden standard" of Punctuality and Efficiency. It's amazing what happens to plans, calendar, and coordination when the Big Accomplishment of the Day is going two minutes without nerve-numbing nausea or a coughing spasm to wake The Dead.
Know what I found last week, lying there tickling the thermometer at 102'? I found that when life is reduced to bare minimums, bare minimums matter. A lot. Staring at the ceiling, I started a mental "Thank You List:" Chicken broth. Fluffed pillows. My eleven year-old cooking breakfast. Sun pouring through the window. Ginger Ale. Books on tape. Hot water. Music.
I learned something else from last week. Illness can be humiliating. You see, I'm a do-er. Busy, busy, busy. As one who's rarely sick, I figure that any day I haven't completed two or three dozen projects and planned twenty more is a "waste." There's nothing like being flat on your back for a week to take the wind out of that sail! No committee meetings to chair, no lessons to plan or teach, no meals, menus or multi-tasking. Even my hair hurt.
Worse than not being up and doing, active, I felt like I was failing my family. When I had to lean over a basin, too weak to stand, and let my seven year-old wash my hair, I choked on every Punctual and Efficient bone in my body! And "humbling" doesn't come close to describing my feelings when my husband, Lord love him, spoon-fed me chicken soup. Too sick to sit up, I felt infantile and helpless. Later, I couldn't help but wonder how those with chronic illnesses or permanent disabilities must feel. And what incredible God-sends committed care-givers are.
Being strong and healthy is a gift I take for granted far too often. I saw that it takes a special grace to allow others to care for me. And those who are ill or infirm? Are they any less valuable than those who are healthy and strong? In some cases, I wonder if the former aren't moreso: "… I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." -- Matthew 25:40.
Now that's a focus worth remembering!
I Fell In Love With Jesus
I fell in Love with Jesus as I began to pray
My daughter, I have loved you before you were ever born
I fell in Love with Jesus as I began to praise
He has changed my whole heart inside and out
He showers me with Love like a spring time rain
I fell in Love with Jesus and I gave him all of me
What Does Anna Need?
She was a beautiful, young woman with her honey colored hair and expressive eyes. She moved with feminine grace and spoke softly. She was kind and hard working. "Why?" I asked myself, God, or anyone that would listen. "Why would a man be unfaithful to a wife like her?" I don't know why her husband was unfaithful to her, but he had been. By the time I met her at our church daycare where we were both working, she had already survived the divorce. For the sake of her privacy, I am going to call her "Anna".
Anna came to work every day with her less than a year old son perched on one arm, towing her three year old son with the other hand, and somehow managing to lug along a purse, diaper bag, and three lunches. I never heard her complain. In fact, she showed up in much the same manner to all of the church services. She willingly took her turn serving in the church nursery. She took full responsibility for providing a home for her children.
After I had known her for awhile, I asked her, "What happened between you and your husband? She simply stated, "He was unfaithful. He wasn't sorry for it. I couldn't stay with him." She didn't elaborate on the story and she didn't dwell on it in her daily life. It was another woman that told me about Anna's coming home to find her husband with another man.
One Sunday night, she came for prayer during the church service. As the wife of the assistant pastor, I was often called upon to pray with someone. On that night, the pastor silently signaled for me to come to pray with her.
"What can I pray with you?" I asked her.
She was in tears. "I don't mean to complain," she began, "but, life is so hard. I feel so alone. I don't know what to do."
I calmly answered, "Let's pray." Inwardly, I did some hasty praying of my own. "Help! What should I pray for? What does Anna need?"
The answer came to me immediately. It wasn't a voice or a vision, but I knew in my heart what I had to pray for. Still, I hesitated. "What if my prayer isn't answered?" I might give her false hope. Worse than that, I might make myself look foolish.
I had hesitated for as long as I could. I had to do something; I had to plunge in. "Father, Anna is alone. We know that you care for her. She has been so faithful in her life. I believe that she needs a good husband to share her life and to help her. We are asking tonight that you give her a husband. Amen."
She arose from prayer with a radiant smile. I arose a little stunned about what I had prayed, but somehow, at peace.
A week later, our pastor announced in the service that one of our local navy men had suffered an eye injury in an accident on the ship. He asked that we pray for this young man. He had attended our church only a few times, so I really didn't know him, but joined the congregation in prayer for his recovery.
Anna put feet to her prayers. She visited him in the hospital several times. A friendship grew between them. After his time in the hospital, he attended church regularly and they began sitting together during services. The friendship quickly blossomed into romance. I was surprised, but Anna didn't seem to be at all surprised. She wasn't surprised when they began to date. Within a few months they were married.
I enjoyed seeing them become a little family. He was a wonderful husband to her and a good father to her children. She was elated. A year later, they added a third son to the family and moved away to a larger apartment. They eventually moved to another state when his time with the Navy was finished. I have lost touch with her, but I will never forget God's love for that single mother.
This story was previously published in God Answers Prayers compiled by Allison Bottke, published by Harvest House Publishers in Spring 2005.
What's In A Tune?
I Pet 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have (NIV)
You hear it every day at our hospital, the little lullaby that they play after every birth. Having recently had a Grandson at the hospital, you quickly remember how simple an individual shows up at the birth. Does that lullaby represent that simple being that eats sleeps and well you know. I think that song represents a hope that goes well beyond that little life. It starts before life, lasts a life-time, lasting perhaps to eternity. It's based on what we learn, and our relationship with the God of Heaven himself. Luckily, he has a sense of humor when it comes to new creations.
We all hear that song pretty much every day as healthcare providers. Do you ever wonder about our personal hope or are we so busy doing that we forget who we are? We are God's song in the universe. We are a hope that should go beyond circumstances and the beauty that goes beyond ourselves. This is what we have to offer our patients, our co-workers and indeed all around us.
Some have stopped listening to the music of their souls. It doesn't mean that the music isn't there. Some try to separate the secular from the spiritual world, but that was never meant to be the case. If your song is going to be heard you have to want to hear it yourself, and the place where it will be likely be heard will most likely be at work.
When you hear Brahms lullaby at a birth, remember hope. It seems like it's just a small thing. But like a baby, it grows and keeps getting bigger until it becomes enormous with massive implications. We just have to hear our songs and see them for what they really are. What song has God put into your heart? How are you communicating that song to the world?
As of May 2012, "WHATEVER IS PURE" ARCHIVES will no longer be seeking submissions. As most authors and poets now have their own blogs, we noticed a significant drop in submissions over the past year and felt it was best to move on to other endeavors.