Friday, September 29, 2023

The Tapestry of our Lives

Romans 8:28 in the Bible promises us that in both the pleasant circumstances and in the tragic circumstances of life, God is working for our good.  It is a blessed promise.  We can rest in that promise and trust in it when the world around us seems to be falling apart, but it is also a promise with which we may at times struggle.

I remember first struggling with the promise of Romans 8:28 when my dad was suffering the excruciating pain of cancer and radiation. I wondered how "all things" could possibly be working for good in this case?  It is also something I pondered when my first husband was diagnosed with a devastating neurological disease. It was something I thought about when I was struggling with the challenges of care-giving, and I saw the effects my husband’s disease was having on his body. It was something I was confused about when my husband passed away four and a half years later.  It is still something I wonder about as I go through some very difficult trials in my present life.

The key to understanding this verse is to realize that not all things are good in themselves. Sin has wracked havoc with our world, and there are many experiences in this world that are not good or pleasant in themselves. God, however, works both the "good" and the "bad" events of our lives together for our ultimate good.  We also must remember that even though God is sovereign and the victor through Jesus's death and resurrection, the final victory when all creation will be made perfect and whole again has not yet occurred.

It has been said that life is like a tapestry. When you look at the backside of a tapestry it does not look beautiful. There are knotted-off ends and threads that seem to have no meaning or beauty. When one turns the tapestry over, however, one sees a beautiful picture or design.

Dear reader, when you see the difficulties and heartaches of your life, you are seeing only the backside of the tapestry of life. God, however, is bringing all the threads or events of our lives together-both the good and bad, into a beautiful tapestry. The Lord already sees the top part of our tapestry of life. The Lord already sees the beautiful end result of what He is accomplishing in our lives. When we do not understand the reason for the difficult circumstances in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones, we must simply trust that the Lord is working out all things in our lives for His glory and to accomplish His plan. He is also working out all things for our ultimate spiritual good.

The ultimate spiritual good that the Lord God is seeking to accomplish in our lives is that we might become more like Jesus in our thoughts, attitudes, and actions (Romans 8:29). In order for this to happen, there must be a conforming process taking place in our lives. This conforming process often can only occur during times of trial and difficulty in our lives. Gelatin is only able to be conformed or shaped to the mold into which it is placed after it has been dissolved in hot water. So we often have to go through the heat of trials and difficulties to become more conformed to the likeness of Jesus. 

God has the pattern for our lives all figured out. He knows and understands the beautiful tapestry that He is weaving for our lives. He knows the beginning from the end. We must trust the Lord to do His beautiful work in our lives, even in times when life's events and circumstances seem very difficult and overwhelming!

If you missed last week's blog post, "His Grace will Lead Us Through"  you can read it bt clicking on the following link:

Friday, September 22, 2023

His Grace Will Lead us Through


I have been going through some issues and trials lately that makes me realize that I need to depend on God's grace and strength alone.  He alone is sufficient.  Through a book I'm reading and in other formats I have been reminded that I need to depend on the Lord to work His plan whatever it may be.  I need to surrender to Him; and I need to let go of  all my fears, anxieties, and my tendency to try to fix things and control things.  That only wears one down to a frazzle.  I further need to put my arms up with open hands each day and surrender to Him anew each day.  He alone can fill me with His living waters of comfort, satisfaction, strength, and joy.  His grace alone can carry me through this life with all it's trials and challenges.

Below is the words to a song we are practicing in our church choir.  I think it says it all.  

"Though the trials come, though the road seems long, it is in the valley His arms are strong.  When we lean on Jesus in all that we do, His grace will lead us through!  His grace is sufficient; He's merciful and true. Till all have heard, we will stand on His Word!  His grace will lead us through,  God's grace will lead us through.

Come with grateful hearts to the throne of grace and see our Savior face to face!  Our help through the ages; our hope to come; His grace will lead us through.  His grace is sufficient; He's merciful and true.  Till all have heard, we will stand on His Word!  His grace will lead us through.

O-grace, grace, God's grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within; O grace, grace, infinite grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin.   Till all have heard, we will stand on His Word!  His grace will lead us through, God's grace will lead us through,  God's grace!"  (words and music by Mary McDonald)

You can hear the the song above by clicking on the following link.  On this link it is sung by a group of young people (not our church choir).

Friday, September 15, 2023

The Valiant Rose


possessing or showing courage or determination.


The dictionary defines the word valiant, as possessing or showing courage or determination.  Our rose bush arbor along the side our deck was full of roses in June. Right now the roses have all but disappeared for the season anticipating fall's arrival right around the corner.   Until a few days ago, however, there was one persevering and valiant big rose, which greeted me every morning when I sat in my sun room looking out on my deck having my devotions.  This rose was there in spite of the other roses' disappearance for the season.   

This rose reminded me that I need to persevere and be valiant in the Lord.  Life can be and is often difficult.  Yet there is blessing in perseverance (James 5:11).  Whatever you or I are experiencing in this life, let us trust and rest in the Lord and persevere in the faith.

(If you missed my blog post of  last week on trusting God's timing and plan you can read it by clicking on  the link below.)    


Saturday, September 9, 2023

Trusting God's Plan and Timing

God is good.  We can depend on that no matter what is going on around us in our world.  God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.  That is easy to see when we think about all our blessings and good gifts that the Lord gives us.  It is easy for me to see when I look around at God's creation when I am taking my daily walks.  It is less easy for all of us to see when our worlds become shaken and when our expectations are not met the way we hoped they would be met.  It is difficult to see when our lives are shattered and even ground to dust.  Lysa Ter Keurst talks about this in her book, It's Not Supposed to Be This Way.  Following is a rather lengthy quote from her book.  It is worthy of our meditation and contemplation when we have difficulty understanding God's timing and plan:

"When His timing seems questionable, His lack of intervention seems hurtful, and His promises seem doubtful, I  get afraid.  I get confused.  And left alone with those feelings, I can't help but feel disappointed that God isn't doing what I assume a good God should do.

There isn't any timing that seems like the right timing to be shattered into dust.  There isn't any plan God could present where I would willingly agree to be broken into unglueable pieces,  I just wouldn't.

And what a tragedy that would be.  My controlling things would prevent the dust required for God to make the new He desperately desires for me.  And isn't that what all His promises hinge on?  Old becoming new.  Dead things coming to life.  Good from evil.  Darkness turning to light. 

If I want His promises, I have to trust His process.  I have to trust that first comes the dust, and then comes the making of something even better with us.  God isn't going to forsake you, but He will go to great lengths to remake you.

What if disappointment is really the exact appointment your soul needs to radically encounter God?"

And yet in the here and now before God has finished His work in us, His recreating in us, life can be painful.  What are we supposed to do in the extremely painful emotional and physical moments, in the here and now?  What if it seems as if God is not answering our prayers?  Perhaps a family member has been diagnosed with a terrible disease in this past year.  Perhaps someone you love or you yourself have experienced physical pain of some sort this year.  Perhaps you have found yourself estranged from a family member in recent months.  Perhaps you have lost a family member to death in the recent past.  Perhaps some other difficult circumstance or all the circumstances above have hit your family this year.  All these things are very painful. 

In all these things, we need to consider that God sees the big picture which we can not see.  We need to trust God beyond what our physical eyes can see.  The pain will still be there, even if we trust Him.  It makes no sense to pretend that we do not feel pain, but in trusting Him we will feel much less fear and frustration.  In trusting Him we will find comfort in His love even when we do not always understand His ways.

We need to let go of our own rationalizations of why God does not always answer our prayers when and how we think He should do so.  We do not have to figure out the whys and wherefores of what occurs in our lives.  We just need to trust that God always acts at the right time and in the right way.  

Instead of trying to explain things and understand things in our own mind, we need to turn to Him.  We need to look to Jesus and fix our eyes on Him and not the circumstances.  That is how we endure the suffering in the here and now.  Also Jesus knew the ultimate in suffering and pain, so He does understand our pain.  Nothing we suffer compares to the suffering He experienced.   

In the process of suffering and trials the Lord is drawing us closer to Himself and into a sweeter relationship with Himself. In this process He is helping us to see the Lord with spiritual eyes and not just knowing about Him on a superficial intellectual level.  The pain process is also preparing us for Heaven.  To quote Lysa Ter Keurst once again, "God is powerfully at work in your life and situation.  What would it look like for you to rest in that truth today?"  

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Sing to the Lord a New Song

So much joy comes into our lives when we thank and praise the Lord, when we sing a new song of joy to Him each day.  We can find joy even in the midst of deep trials in our lives.  A thankful heart and singing helps to facilitate that joy.  The Psalms are a beautiful place to find expression to this kind of joy and thanks. I  have developed a great love for the Psalms.  For this post I will be quoting and paraphrasing Psalm 96 and 97 and the first verse of Psalm 98 in the following paragraphs.

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.  Sing to the Lord; praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day. (Sing a new song of vibrant joyful worship each day, a song new in power and joy to us.)  Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among the peoples.

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;---Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and glory are in His sanctuary.  Ascribe to the Lord, O families of nations.  Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. (Submit to Him.)  Ascribe to the Lord  the glory due His name.---Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns."---He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His truth.

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.  Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.

Fire goes before Him and consumes His foes on every side. (God's presence does and will one day completely burn all that is twisted and sinful in the world and in our lives.  This is the fire of God's holy love, because He hates anything that is ruining our lives.)---

The heavens proclaim His righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory.

All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols.  (An idol is anything or anyone we make more important to us than God.) Worship Him.  (Worship the Lord alone.)  Zion hears and rejoices and the villages of Judah are glad.  (God's people rejoice and are glad) because of Your judgments, O Lord.  For You, O Lord, are most High over all the earth.  Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for He guards the lives of His faithful ones---Light is shed upon the righteous and joy in the upright in heart (sown in by the Holy Spirit).  Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous and praise His holy name.  Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things.