Thanksgiving Dissonance: Going Deeper

Thanksgiving Dissonance: Going Deeper

“How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” (Psalm 137:4 KJV)

I keep hearing this plaintive cry of the Israelites from the pain-laced Psalm 137. Though I’m not living in exiIe as they were, I am living in a strange land of my own. It is strange for many reasons, some sharable and some not. As I near completion of radiation for breast cancer, I am also struggling with glaucoma issues that cause me to live my life between the radiation clinic and the ophthalmology office—and the couch. And November is always my month of special thanks-giving.

Read More

Gutsy Gratitude

Gutsy Gratitude

“I feel as if I can never cease praising God. Come and rejoice with me over His goodness.” The words keep echoing in my mind. Really, in my heart. They’re the introduction to a paraphrase of Psalm 34 that is, in a sense, our family Psalm. More on that to come.

“Really? Praising God? Now? In the midst of this mess? As I sit by this hospital bed? After I’ve just buried my husband? When I am so desperately concerned about my child’s special needs? While it seems I’m always waiting for a doctor to call back about the next diagnosis/surgery/meds? When my marriage is struggling so? Rejoice? Really?” These are the other words that echo in my head—and heart.

Read More

God’s Waiting Room: My New Home?

Is there anyone else out there who feels as if you’ve been sitting in God’s waiting room for so long that it’s beginning to feel like home?  For months you’ve been camping out there, thinking “surely this is only temporary!”  OK, so you’ve brought in the coffee pot and a few beloved books.   But now, let’s face it:  You may as well move in all the furniture.  Looks like you’ll be here a while.

That’s how I feel on this February day.  2013 has gotten off to a rough start in a lot of ways.  But the house . . . It’s been on the market over ten months now.  Approximately 75 showings.  It sold.  And then it unsold (due to buyers’ personal circumstances).  And now the clock is ticking toward the closing on our next home.  And we are still waiting.  And praying.  And praying.  And praying.  And praying.

I think a lot about God’s sovereignty in the waiting room.  I feel like those three young men faced with the fiery furnace in Daniel. They knew what God could do. But they didn’t know what God would do. Either way, He was still God. Either way, they would still worship Him.  And only Him.

As I sit here on my bench in the waiting room, God keeps reminding me of words from Andrew Murray which seem to have been written directly to me:

“In time of trouble, say, “First, He brought me here.  It is by His will that I am in this place; in that I will rest.”  Next, “He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.”  Then say, “He will make this trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He intends to bestow. “  And last, say, “In His good time, He can bring me out again.  How and when, He knows.”  Therefore, say: “I am here  1) by God’s appointment,  2) in His keeping,  3) under His training,  4) for His time.”

—Andrew Murray, quoted in Calm My Anxious Heart, by Linda Dillow, p. 171

Hmm.  God’s appointment.  His training.  His timing.  And words about grace: He will “give me grace in this trial to behave as His child . . . working in me the grace He intends to bestow.”  How should His child act in this trial?  What does “grace bestowed” look like?  Well for starters, not the way I often act: anxious, fearful, pacing, worrying myself and everyone around me to distraction.

So here I am, still in the Waiting Room. Under His training. I have a lot left to learn. But I want to share with you just a few tips I’m learning in my prolonged sit-in. Call it “Things To Do While Waiting”:

  1. Cry when you need to.  God hears our cries.
  2. Vent when you need to.  That’s what friends (and husbands) are for.
  3. Read the Psalms.  A lot.  Almost any will do, but good starters are Psalms 42-43, 46, 37, and 34.
  4. Whine as little as possible.  I should say, “Don’t whine.”  But I’m just being realistic.
  5. Follow Oswald Chambers’ advice and “Do the next thing”—whatever that may be.
  6. Try living Philippians 4:6-7, turning your worries into prayers.
  7. Remember that you are not alone.  God sits with you in the Waiting Room.
  8. Remember that, despite what may seem evidence to the contrary, God is good—all the time.  And loving—all the time.  And sovereign—all the time.
  9. Keep praying.  Keep talking to God, even if your voice is barely a whisper.
  10. Ask Him to help you with trust, which is the bottom line.  “Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief.”  Help me, Lord, to learn to trust you more.

This is definitely not a finished list, but just some thoughts from my bench in the Waiting Room.  I pray that one or two might help someone else out there in another Waiting Room.

Learning from the Little Ones

I used to say that everything I know I learned from my kids.  Now my grandkids are taking over—and teaching Nana a lot! Consider my latest life lesson, from our granddaughter Hannah.

Hannah and her family go to a church where they sing a number of hymns based on Psalms.  Recently they have been learning a song based on Psalm 22.   She knows a lot of the words.  But she knows more: how these words of God can comfort and sustain us.

Recently there was a particularly violent thunderstorm during the night in Pensacola, where she lives.  Her parents, our son Lars and his wife Kelly, awoke to great flashes of lightening and loud cracks of thunder.  They immediately listened for the kids, but hearing nothing from the children’s rooms, went back to sleep.

In the morning, Hannah, who will soon be three, told them, “I cried in my crib last night.”  Surprised, they asked, “What did you cry about?”  “The thunder was so loud outside my window.”  Lars went on to ask, “What did you do when you cried?”

Hannah’s answer: “I sang ‘Be not far off…’”  Words from the Psalm song they have been learning at church.

Wow!  I was immediately reminded how powerful it is to help our very young children “hide God’s word in their hearts” in their earliest years.  They learn so much more than we ever imagine.

But it was also a great lesson for me.  It’s exactly what I need to do when I feel afraid.  It may not be fear of thunderstorms.  It may be concerns about a medical report or procedure, an unknown or uncertain future, or a family member or friend who seems to be running in the wrong direction.

Singing the Psalms.  I remember reading somewhere a very long time ago about a conversation between Martin Luther and his friend Philipp Melanchthon at a time when Luther was undergoing deep depression.  “Come, let’s sing the Psalms.  Let’s sing the Psalms.”

Thank you, Hannah, for reminding us.  Let’s sing the Psalms!