glimpse of eternity

I think I have something to say, but I’m not sure what it is. It has to do with God, and us, and the short blip on the radar of eternity that is our lives here on Earth. It has to do with making it count, making it matter, touching eternity with the ripple effect of our lives cast into the waters of history. There’s something just beyond the horizon…just outside of my grasp…like the memory of a dream that has mostly faded, leaving only vague impressions of emotions. I think it’s the certainty that there is more to life than endless laundry, arguing children, making something (anything!) for dinner, and the constant to-do lists that are always bigger than the energy I have with which to complete them. There’s a thirst inside me that can’t be quenched by water, although it’s soothed somewhat by a cup of tea with a friend; there’s a hunger I cannot fill with food (though every day I give it the old college try); there’s a longing for something I can’t quite put my finger on, but every once in a while the veil between me and eternity is torn and I catch a glimpse of what’s beyond me. What’s infinitely bigger than me. What is at once mysterious and beautiful; out-of-reach and yet within my grasp; what is both known and unknown.

It involves both something ugly and something stunningly beautiful. There’s an old, rugged wooden cross, that ancient instrument of torture and death, that is stained with blood. There are five-inch-long metal nails and thorny vines twisted into a headpiece. There is a sign, both mocking and true, about the King of the Jews. There is Death laughing and Sin winning and family crying.

But, wait.

That’s not all I see beyond me.

I see blinding, pure, glorious Light. I see a Man who is God who is gloriously alive and whose hands are scarred from five-inch-long metal nails. I see a beautiful face whose gaze is not bitter or condemning, but full of compassion. I see Sin losing and Grace winning. I see joy, truth, redemption, revelation, and rescue. I see a huge Man who is God who is holy and approachable, awe-inspiring and gentle, full of both justice and grace. I see a holy, eternal plan that was set in motion before the foundations of the world and continues today with ever-growing, far-reaching impact – like a snowball rolling downhill, gaining size and momentum with every rotation. He reaches his hand out to me gently, lovingly, and invites me to join him in his plan.

Me? He wants me? This is where my mind is blown. I’m humbled. I can’t do anything right, I don’t have the strength, the talents, the time.

Of course you don’t, he says. But I do. And I’m generous. And I have all you need, and so much more. Come. Be with Me. Get to know Me. And then just see if you can keep Me to yourself, or if you are compelled to tell everyone you know about me.

And this glimpse of eternity, of an eternal plan, of a God who was man, it rocks my world. It changes me. It makes me want more. I’m hungry. I’m thirsty. I’m needy. And I realize that this glimpse into eternity is the first thing that has assuaged that hunger and thirst. This communion with a revolutionary God who did everything differently from how we imagined he would has changed me forever. I want more.

More of Him.

More…glimpses of eternity.

10427264_10152891779014056_6348368959073028351_n

I’ve got good news!

Image

I have some seriously good news. Actually, in this case, “good news” is an understatement!

Let me explain…

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of leading worship for the Moms in Prayer International event, Come to Me, held here in Oregon. Most of you reading this are aware of the health problems I had all summer long. In fact, at almost any given point up until the event, even I would have admitted it was going to be a stretch for me physically to be there and to lead. But at Come to Me, God revealed part of his purpose in allowing me to be completely laid up for the summer. He gave me a testimony to share that was a perfect fit for the theme of the conference and the teaching from Fern Nichols (founder and president of Moms in Prayer International).

I’d been told I had two minutes Saturday morning to share my testimony. Two minutes? It would have been easier had I been given twenty! God had been doing so much in my heart, mind, spirit, and body over the summer, and he’d been evident in my family’s lives as well. And editing yourself is never easy! So I asked God to give me His words, the two-minutes-worth that was most important for those women to hear that day. What follows is exactly what I shared that morning (with some tears, I admit):

“By now many of you may have already read my testimony in your packet about God’s healing of my son Caleb. (You can read that testimony here.) What I didn’t know when I wrote that testimony a few months ago was that God had more healing he wanted to do, but this time in my own life.

Just two months ago I was lying in a hospital bed virtually paralyzed.  I had gone from a chronically fatigued busy mom to suddenly being unable to walk, dress myself, or hold a glass of water with one hand, unable to text or use my fingers individually.  To the doctors I was a mystery…but God had a plan. This summer, as I lay helplessly in bed, God showed me several things:

1-      His love for me has nothing to do with what I do, accomplish, or don’t do. His love for me has everything to do with the fact that he chose me before the foundations of the world to belong to him. The Bible tells me that he delights in me, and even rejoices over me with singing, simply because I am his. This summer I really knew those words to be true.

2-      I realized that my desire for control in my life was really a lack of trust in Him. This summer, he stripped away my ability to control even the tiniest details of my life – I couldn’t even cut my own meat, for goodness’ sake – but what I gained instead was the absolute certainty that God really is good and really will take care of me as he promised.

3-      I learned that true rest is found by bringing my concerns, hurts, and sins to Jesus and allowing him to set me free. I realized I’ve been carrying burdens for many years – some big, some small – in the form of un-confessed sin and un-forgiveness towards others. This summer, I confessed and repented of each sin and renounced any foothold Satan might have gained in my life.  I asked for the Holy Spirit to heal my heart and fill me with His truth. Each time I prayed this way, the Lord lifted more of my burdens and gave me his freedom and peace in their place. And as I gained spiritual healing, I also gained physical healing!

And now, I’m here to tell you that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is still at work today, lifting burdens, healing hearts and bodies, and setting people free. Hallelujah! What a Savior!”

And that, friends, is good news. It’s VERY good news. I’d say it’s great, amazing, life-altering news!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. Matthew 9:35

Floodgates of Heaven (My Health Crisis, Part II)

Immediately after the rheumatologist entered the room and shook my hand, he said, “Well, I think you win the award for the most services received by Kaiser in the last month! I don’t think I’ve ever had a patient that’s gone through such thorough testing and is still without a diagnosis.”

“I wish I could be happy about that award,” I replied with chagrin. We continued the appointment only to conclude with yet another inconclusive result: as badly as this doctor had wanted to be The One Who Figured It Out, he could not; and so, a few more tests were ordered and I went on my merry way.

The good news? Even without a diagnosis, I am improving. This weekend, I was able to make my own smoothie for breakfast (twice!), play the piano for about 15 minutes, and even do a little bit of watering in the garden (that last one was probably not one of my better choices…but, whatever!), and these were all things I couldn’t have even imagined doing just a few weeks ago! I chalk this improvement up to a few different things:

1. PRAYER. I have never had so many people offering up so much concentrated prayer on my behalf. God loves to act when his people humble themselves and pray, and he’s certainly been acting on my behalf this summer. I will be forever grateful to my prayer warriors – many of whom I don’t even know. I myself am also learning some new ways to pray this summer. I have been taking care of some unfinished business between me and the Lord with the help of the Wellsprings prayer ministry that has also helped bring spiritual and physical healing.

2. REST. I have an UH-MAY-ZING husband, and equally amazing parents and in-laws, that have stepped up and filled in and done everything for me so I haven’t had to lift a finger. In addition, we’ve been overwhelmed by good people from the body of Christ who have helped share the load of childcare, meal prep, housework and yard work. This has allowed me to get complete physical, emotional, and spiritual rest. And it’s working! My body is slowly coming back to me. The more I rest, the more my “energy bank” gets filled up. (It empties verrrry quickly, so I have to be extremely picky about how I choose to use it up.)

3. DIET. About a week and a half after I came home from the hospital, I decided it was time to get serious about what I was putting into my body. For the last year or so, I’ve consumed a fair amount of grains (albeit gluten-free ones) and refined sugars, and I always noticed more inflammation and pain in my joints afterwards. This can be indicative of an auto-immune disease, and while I do not have an official diagnosis at this time, I decided that the one thing I could do to help myself (besides rest) was to view food as medicine and begin to eat accordingly. So, I adopted a Paleo diet and am following the 30-day meal plan for auto-immune conditions as recommended in the book Practical Paleo. I feel that it’s helped my brain to clear, my stomach and intestines to feel calmer and happier, and I have less joint pain than before.

So, things are looking up. It’s all happening too slowly for my liking, but maybe that’s the point. You see, I’m beginning to realize that I’d been operating at a very high stress level for a very long period of time. I was over-scheduled, going a million miles a minute, and under-rested. Even when I wasn’t feeling well, I would adopt a “mind over matter” philosophy and just push through. I never asked for help, because I was proud and I wanted control and I expected too much out of myself. I tried to do too much for too long, and my body finally couldn’t take it anymore. I neglected to mention in My Health Crisis: Part 1 that another subject the doctor covered while I was in the hospital was something called Caregiver Syndrome. I don’t know a lot about it, but he said it’s a very real thing that can come upon a person who has the role of a caregiver to someone with special needs. He mentioned that it could be another factor in my current health crisis.

I’ve suddenly found myself with a lot of time to think and reflect. I don’t know what it all means yet, and certainly I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know one thing: I’m going to have to change. It wasn’t easy to type that. I’m going to have to change. Sometimes we decide to change, and sometimes circumstances force change upon us. Sometimes our loving heavenly Father allows things to happen because in his infinite wisdom, he knows what’s best for us. And when we can’t see that on our own, sometimes he allows circumstances to make it very clear.

I’m feeling very much like a broken, used-up, tired old “jar of clay” right now. Everything that was once a source of my identity and pride has been stripped away for the moment. I can no longer take care of my children, my husband, my home. God has made me STOP. Stop striving, stop stressing, stop running, just…STOP. REST. It’s hard to come to that place, but you know the miracle in all of this?

God has SHOWERED his love upon me!!! He has opened up the floodgates of heaven (see verse below) and has shown me just how much he loves me! And it’s crazy, but I’m beginning to understand a bit more that it has nothing to do with what I DO or DON’T do. He has demonstrated to me that I am his beloved, and he is rejoicing over me with singing! It brings me to tears of joy. He has used so many other people to rain down his love upon us. The elderly couple from church who stopped by with tons of vegetables from their garden and a beautiful bouquet of roses. The families who bring us beautiful meals (in spite of being intimidated to cook for us with our strict dietary needs!). The friend who comes twice a week to give me foot reflexology treatments as a gift. People who have surprised us with money or gift certificates. Pastors and friends who have come over to pray for and with me. The friends who have taken my children on fun outings or given them rides. The entire small group that blitzed all my house work and yard work one Saturday. The ones who stop by with flowers or a card or books to read. The friend I only just met who helps take care of my children. The countless ladies who’ve cleaned my house, fed my son, brought me meals on a tray, done our laundry, changed Caleb’s countless diapers, played with my girls, and then asked if there was anything else they could do?…I could go on and on. Are you beginning to get the picture? Little old, tired, broken-down me certainly doesn’t DESERVE this outpouring of God’s love. He loves on me lavishly simply because I AM HIS (Eph. 1:3-10). He is helping me to receive this truth more than ever before through all these amazing people and through this unexpected season of rest.

The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zeph. 3:17, NKJV)

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10 NIV)