Archive for May, 2012

(Editor’s note:  If you have not read the background story to this devotional, please do so now by clicking on this link:  Oh, God, Not Me. All the devotionals this week flow out of that story.)

You are the light of the world,

a city on a hill that cannot be hidden…

Matthew 5:14

I am reminded daily that the way I live my life not only is seen by those around me but also impacts their day and leaves an influence in their life.  I have asked myself several times as I face the daily challenges in my own life, what is it that others see and will remember about my situation.  Will my life matter for Christ?

From the night that I surrendered my tragedy and fell in to God’s arms, I have continually been stirred in my spirit to leave those I come across daily with a special blessing, enough to leave them wondering what the difference was in my life.  While all around me I may see sorrow, “unanswered prayers,” human limitations and painful physical/mental challenges…I see a Light of Hope.  It may appear to be a small, seemingly insignificant flame, but it is stronger than the powerful and overwhelming darkness.

Christ has risen from the dead, He has conquered death, He is alive, and He is the Light.  Faith in Him, like a small candle, shines in to the dark and in to the threatening tragedies of life.  John 10:10 says, The eyes of those who believe in Christ see light even amid the darkest night and they already see the dawning of a new day.

A candle can only give light if it allows itself to be consumed by the flame.  It would be useless if it did not surrender itself to being burned by the flame.  I so much want Jesus to shine in and through the daily struggles of my walk with tragedy.  I want others to see the light of Christ.  I want them to be drawn to that flame and become ignited as well.  So I have to allow my desires, my goals, my plans and my fears to be consumed by the love of Christ.

I am mindful of my own limited time as a light here on earth.  God…take the days, the moments I have, consume me with your flame.  Shine the light of Christ, enlightening and igniting others.  Consumed by Christ, my light will end but the flame that is shared will continue to burn.

On those days that I focus on the struggles, when I allow my selfishness to cover the light of God’s promises, I find myself alone in the dark.  Yet the flame of Christ is still burning, I have allowed it to be covered by my own selfishness, doubts, anger, and desires.

I praise God that in Him, His strength and love, He will not allow the flame to be extinguished.  For it is the light of Christ that burns in me.  On the cross, the Light of the World was consumed by sin as Christ surrendered to His Father’s plan and gave His life in death for my sins…the world went dark.  There was no light.   That darkness did not conquer.  A bright eternal flame ignited and Christ conquered death.  He strengthens me and fans the flame in my life, allowing the light of Christ to once again shine through…The Light of the World.


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(Editor’s note:  If you have not read the background story to this devotional, please do so now by clicking on this link:  Oh, God, Not Me. All the devotionals this week flow out of that story.)

Life is like a maze.   It changes directions often,  it is impossible to know the direction it will go in the future, it can feel frustratingly endless.  At times, we find ourselves lost in the maze.  When I found myself lost in the maze of my life, standing frozen not knowing what was ahead, frustrated with emotional and physical exhaustion, I desperately sought an answer.  I needed something or someone to lead me on through the maze of life.  Bookstore after bookstore, both Christian and secular, counselors and friends, both Christian and not, others who have found themselves stuck in the maze of life…  How do I walk forward when all I see is the tragedy and permanent change placed in my life?

For you did not

receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear,

but you have received

the spirit of sonship [daughterhood of God]. 

And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that

 we are God’s children.

Romans 8:15-1

Being led by the Spirit brings peace, ends worry, and lifts fear!

As I have continued to walk through the struggles, pain and unknown paths of my maze I have found comfort in the book of Job.  It was not with worldly knowledge or religious beliefs that Job had strength and faith.  It was the Spirit of God in Job assuring him of God’s love and promises, reminding him of God’s faithfulness in his and others lives.  Job’s friends used their own knowledge regarding Job’s suffering.  They were dead wrong.  It is the Spirit in a man that gives him understanding.  Not my mind or others answers, but the Spirit of God.

I will never forget the night I found myself face down at Jesus’ feet.  I had no answers;  I had the knowledge given to me by the doctors, religious guidance of well-meaning friends, and the encouragement of the worship service…but the absolute direction for my life still battled with my mind.  How?  Where?  Who? When?  All unknown!  Then the hand of God – slap – not in angry correction but as an awakening in my spirit saying:   Follow me…I will lead you…I will strengthen you…Trust me…Surrender!

I still shed many tears, I collapse on my bed in exhaustion, I ask God why, what does he have in store for me and others through this struggle, and how will I continue on.  The answer continues to be His promise, to be led by the Spirit. (Romans 8:14)

God didn’t enlighten me with the outcome of tomorrow and He hasn’t handed me the map to my maze.  No, it is as I daily, moment by moment surrender myself to His will, led by the Holy Spirit a step at a time.  Praise God for His promises!

God in giving us free will has left us free to be faithless.  Every gift can be refused, for God has given us the terrible responsibility of being to go our own way.  God doesn’t just step in to my walk and allow the Holy Spirit to take control.  Jesus didn’t force people to accept Him, trust Him, or follow Him.  In Luke 9:23, it says, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  Surrender!

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(Editor’s note:  If you have not read the background story to this devotional, please do so now by clicking on this link:  Oh, God, Not Me. All the devotionals this week flow out of that story.)

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7

Walking by faith without the benefit of sight is extremely difficult to say the least and at times it seems impossible.  I have begged God to allow me sight, to see what is ahead, what I should do, what to expect.

When we have no answers, no plan, no reasoning of what to do next, we find ourselves totally needing God.  That is the time when we can grow intimately closer to God and in our dependence on Him.  If I walk by sight alone, I wouldn’t be challenged because I would stop my walk going forward due to limited sight.  My life would be controlled by me.  But if I walk by faith, I am able to go farther than I would ever believe possible.  My faith is limitless…God controlled.

My life plan, my walk, changed completely in an instant on that Spring morning, never to be the same again.  Walking by sight would have been an end…pull the plug on life support, accept my husband’s death, live in fear of the future.

Sometimes we think we want to walk by sight.  But if I had been able to see the difficult struggles ahead of me, I would have missed the blessings God had for me, the blessing of impacting others lives and of seeing the touch of Christ in their lives through a daily walk by faith alone.  If I had been able to see ahead, I would have emotionally and/or physically collapsed.

I praise God that I never walk alone, that as I surrender to His will and step out in faith my fears are lifted.  My human control is set free, the worries about the day and days to come are gone.  I never thought I would be praising God for a lack of sight, for not allowing me to see tomorrow.  But to God be the glory, I have!

From a lifeless man, broken and shattered, lying in a coma attached to a room full of machines to keep him alive, doctors telling a fear-stricken wife to pull the plug…  To a loving wife, sitting in church worshipping God, bowing her head in prayer over lunch as her husband prays in the local restaurant, seeing the smile on the waitress’ face as we share God’s promises with her…

Walking by faith is a blessing!

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(Editor’s note:  If you have not read the background story to this devotional, please do so now by clicking on this link:  Oh, God, Not Me)

One of the verses wonderful Christian friends, church members, and even well meaning family members shared with me was:  By His stripes you are healed, found in I Peter 2:24.  I was told to just hold on to that promise.  You are healed.  Prayer and strong faith in God will heal your husband.  Don’t let Satan defeat you.  Through Brett’s healing, God will be glorified.

I have heard this verse used for healing of self and loved ones many times.  When my mom had cancer, when my 8 year-old daughter had a stroke, when my dearest friend watched her husband struggle with Hodgkins Lymphoma.  Well…my mom died; my daughter had several strokes, heart surgeries, and today is in 1st stage heart failure; my friend’s husband breathed his last breath as she held him in her arms.

Is I Peter 2:24 true?  Could I claim this promise that by His stripes you are healed?

I remember being alone in U of M’s family housing unit, kneeling by the bed, pleading with God.  My Bible was laid out in front of me…I was underlining Scripture, journaling, praying Scripture promise after promise to my God.   God you promised healing.  You allowed your own son to raise his best friend Lazarus from the dead.  You healed the blind man, made the lame walk, and stopped the woman’s bleeding with just a touch of your robe.  All things are possible with you! 

It was the darkest, heaviest, most desperate time in my life, prostrate, lying on the floor weeping, pleading promises of God.  Then, just like a hand upon my cheek…not an angry slapping hand, but a shocking slap to get my attention…God told me to listen!   Ok, Annette, I will answer your prayer.  Whatever you ask I will give you…if it is not my will you will carry the burden alone.  But, if you surrender to my will, you will know that I will never leave you or forsake you.  I will bring TRUE healing.

This was my prayer then and it still is today…God I want your will.  I totally surrender to your plan.  Give me love, strength, and a testimony.

What I received that evening was complete healing.  Spiritual healing.  Yes, God keeps His promises.  God would have given physical healing, I totally believe that…but God’s will was to bring spiritual healing.

God is a big-picture God.  Yes, He is in the details too, but to us as human beings, we are defined clearly by space and time.  God on the other hand is a big-picture God.  He looks at everything and works in the light of eternity.  We tend to be consumed with the present reality (cancer, heart failure, brain injury, death) and we can’t see in to the future.  We can’t even see around the next corner.  God is able to see in to the past, present, and future all at once.  At this very moment He comprehends Paul and Silas in the dark jail centuries ago, sitting with me at the U of M Trauma Burn Unit, crying with my friend who lost her child, and you reading these words this very moment.

When God led Peter to pen the verse by His stripes you are healed, God was able to see my healing right before His eternal eyes.  Whether that be my husband’s physical healing, or an ultimate healing with Spiritual life, renewal, and eternity, God can see it all.

By His stripes we were healed.  His promise was fulfilled.  Christ’s love, God’s strength, and the Holy Spirit’s testimony…the answer to my prayers for God’s will then and now.

I Peter 2:19:  A person might have to suffer even when it is unfair, but if he thinks of God and can stand the pain, God is pleased.

I Peter 2:20:  If you are beaten for doing wrong, there is no reason to praise you for being patient in your situation.  But if you suffer for doing good, and you are patient, then God is pleased.

I Peter 2:24:  Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross so we would stop living for sin and start living for what is right.  And by his stripes you are healed.

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Editor’s Note:  We are in the midst of a series asking the question Who is God?  The daily devotionals this week flow straight out of real life, a real woman’s inspirational story and how God was revealed to her in the midst of tragedy.  Please read on…

Memorial Weekend, 2005…Chelsea was overwhelmed with excitement.  With her permit in hand she ran down the walk to take her first drive with Dad.  Seat belt on, mirrors adjusted, gauges checked and ignition on…they were ready.  Daddy’s little girl was taking her first step toward adulthood, the first drive.

There were smiles on all our faces as the red Ford Ranger accelerated down the driveway with a nervous daughter and a very proud dad at her side.  Peace, calm, cool breeze, fragrant flowers and the smell of newly cut grass.  A memorable moment…little did we realize how memorable.

Really? (buzzzz)  Who’s calling? (buzzzz)  It can wait! (buzz).  I look down to see who was so persistent.  The number on the cell was Chelsea’s.

I killed Daddy, I killed Daddy, don’t come, I killed Daddy…

Silence shatters my world while my daughter’s screams hit my heart.  Disbelief and shock course through me as I run to the house.

Oh, God, not me!

Through two days in trauma ER, 5 weeks in coma, laying almost lifeless in the Trauma Burn Unit ICU…

Through 3 months of praying and striving for life, living at U of M Hospital in the rehab unit…

Through a torn aorta, shattered left side, 16 pins to rebuild his left arm, fractured skull, hip surgery, no feeling from waist down, permanent brain damage, unable to speak, read, write…

Trusting God’s heart, I prayed with struggling steps, all the way through bringing my husband back to our home.  A home he didn’t remember, void of memories, rooms filled with kind people he didn’t know, pictures on the walls of strangers he would learn to believe are his family.

In all those times I cried out… Oh, God, not me!  How could this happen in our life, our family, our future…  God held me, comforted me, and remained faithful and patient with me.

Oh, God…Not me!

The same cry, but now a whole new meaning!  The burden and life changes ahead were in God’s control, in His hands, in His purpose.  It was God, not me!  Praise Jesus!

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Who is God?  My God is Righteous and He calls me to Righteousness.  I can be righteous by following His perfect example of love.  Because He loves me, I want to exhibit my love in return to Him.   Acting towards others in God’s kind of love and mercy is the RIGHT thing to do.

How many of you grew up hearing an adult telling you that actions speak louder than words? The Bible tells us the same thing. Righteousness is acting in an upright, moral way. Righteousness is being virtuous. There are eyes all around us, watching us. God IS love and He wants us to take the love that He showers on us and share it with those around us.

1 Corinthians 13: 1-8a

 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love,

I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge;

and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,

but do not have love, I am nothing.

 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor,

and if I surrender my body to be burned,

but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 

 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous;

love does not brag and is not arrogant,  does not act unbecomingly;

it does not seek its own, is not provoked,

does not take into account a wrong suffered,

 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;

 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

 Love never fails.

How can you show all that you come across today God’s love and mercy? Are you speaking righteousness through your actions?

Dear God, thank you for the ladies who have spent this week with the words that You have provided for us. Thank you for Your gift of love and that we may pass it on to others. Please show us how to share Your love.  Amen.

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Who is God?  My God Heals—God provides the healing I need for spiritual, physical, emotional and mental sickness.  God can and does bring healing—in His time and in His way (not always the same as our way).

As I shared on Tuesday’s blog, I suffer from PCOS, the most common endocrine disorder – and it’s incurable. Now, being a child of the Great Physician, I know that if God were to choose to deliver me from PCOS He could. Because He has not yet chosen to provide physical healing I have had to accept my diagnosis. He is however providing emotional healing in the face of my physical ailment.

I went through a period of time where I was at a 1 on the peace scale. But I have come to place where I choose to praise God and thank Him for what I do have instead of wallowing in what I might be missing out on. He isn’t punishing me for something that I have done or might do in the future; He is allowing me to go through something so that I might grow closer to Him.

Psalm 103: 1-5

 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
 Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
 Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
 Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

Where do you need healing? Take some time to search yourself and ask God where you might be hurting and thank Him for what you are going through. Thank Him for the opportunity to lean into his everlasting arms. He loves us and wants us to lean on Him and draw on His strength and grace. He will renew you and lift you up! The healing process is not always quick, but take heart… He will heal you in His time! Please read these verses from Isaiah 40 before you pray, and rest in His promise!

 Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

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