In the first few days after we came home from the three-week hospital stay, I’d be standing in the kitchen (something I do a LOT these days), either at the stove cooking or at the sink washing away the remains of another meal, and I’d subconsciously feel LeRoy coming up behind me. At least that’s what it seemed like, that I heard, or maybe just “felt” him moving up behind me to give me a hug, or put his hand around my waist, like he’s done a million times. It was just a natural movement in the rhythm of our lives.
But then, I’d realize no one was there. I only thought he was walking into the room, like so many times before. But no one was there.
Turning around to the empty room, I was hit again with the “new reality” that LeRoy couldn’t casually walk up to grab me for a quick embrace. The thought that he might not be able to slip up behind me ever again was a shocking jolt to my system. Eventually that “feeling” that he was coming in the room stopped happening. The “new reality” began to settle in. He still reaches out for an awkward embrace, but only approaches me now with great effort, pulling himself along with two clunky forearm crutches, making a slow distinct sound. He can’t sneak up behind me.
The thud, thud, thud of the crutches across the tile floor loudly announce his every move.
In my last post, I shared with you that I need “faith markers” to keep my heart pressing into the path God has marked out for us. When I’m tempted to wander through a wilderness of fear, deception, despair, or self-centered thinking (and yes, I do give in to those at times), faith markers direct me back on track.
Let me share with you an example of how this works by using the truths from Psalm 46.
Psalm 46 is a faith marker that keeps my heart:
- Ruled by Peace
Psalm 46:1-3 reminds me that even if the earth under my feet gives way, even if the mountains slip into the sea, I have no need to fear when I’m trusting in God as my refuge. When I’m hesitant in my walk of faith or making decisions based on fear, these verses are a good heart-check. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is there to rescue me every time.
My heart is ruled by peace when I turn to Him as my refuge.
Courage comes when my security is centered in God’s sovereignty.
In a recent post, I shared with you how God’s sovereign plan was woven throughout Joseph’s painful journey. That plan was at work in the incredible loss and physical attack that Job endured. God had a good plan that He was accomplishing throughout the suffering they experienced.
God’s scope is much larger and grander than my small existence. When He is at work, using the afflictions He appoints, it is for more than just you and me, it goes far beyond our limited lifetime; so much of the time what He is doing in our suffering will only be understood years down the road, or perhaps in eternity.
Joni Eareckson Tada was injured in a diving accident shortly after she graduated from high school. She severed her spinal cord and has lived the last forty-plus years as a paraplegic. (If you’ve never heard her share her story, I encourage you to watch this short video by clicking here.) The impact she has made on people’s lives, the countless ways God has used her, is really incomprehensible. And all of this from a wheelchair.
Joni has a simple statement that sums up why God allows us to experience the destruction of evil and suffering:
“God permits what He hates, to achieve what He loves.”
That’s a good way to settle my heart in peace, to remember what God is doing—even in the painful losses—God is achieving what He loves.
When I take my eyes off of the painful path, lift my sight beyond the frightening horizon, and instead place my steady gaze on Christ, remembering how He accomplished our ultimate rescue—through His shed blood—then I am ruled by peace. Then, I am reminded that He will always do what is best for us, no matter what form that “best” takes.
For more than fifty years, Amy Carmichael served in India, rescuing children from slavery and sex trafficking–long before that was an established form of ministry. (Moms, this is a good biography for your children to read if they don’t know her story.) She lived a hard life, sacrificed much, and eventually was bedridden for years due to an injury. Amy challenges the distressed reader to trust in her sovereign Savior, in a poem she wrote entitled: In Acceptance Lieth Peace.
In acceptance, there is peace. I often remind myself of this truth.
So many times, the first inclination is to fight against the hard things, to reject the gift of affliction, to run from the path God has set for us. When I feel like having a solitary sob-fest and screaming to an empty room, “I don’t like my life right now!” I have to battle my flesh and get to the cross fast. I remind myself that God is my faithful Father, He does have a plan, He knows what He is doing, He loves us, and He is at work beyond what I can see. And most importantly, His grace is sufficient.
Precious reader, if you are lost in a frightening wilderness right now, the Father does care for you; no matter what it may seem, He does, I assure you.
Keeping the trail markers of faithful truths in front of you as you navigate the unknown will protect you. If I fixate on the hard challenges the day holds, when I try to do this journey in my own strength, when I look into the future without seeing it through the lens of God’s sovereign care, I am paralyzed by dread and fear. But, when I remember that even if the earth under my feet gives way, even if the mountains slip into the sea, I have no need to fear as long as God is my refuge.
Today, I’ll stand at the kitchen sink, many times, and LeRoy will not silently slip up behind me to bring a hug, there’ll be no evening hikes together along mountain trails we love, there’ll be no laughter of little ones being chased through the house by their Poppy. Do I cry over this? Yes. Do I long for him to walk again? Yes, but that longing can root the peace right out of my heart, if it isn’t tempered by the knowledge that God is doing a sovereign work right now, and that means I must yield all desires to His plans.
I must remind myself, that even if the earth gives way . . . He is still our good refuge, He will catch us if the ground is jerked from beneath our feet.
How can I pray for you today?
I may not be able to respond to your comment below, but I do read every one . . . and I pray for you.