Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Rise Up-Rise Up Higher_You Dont Say

Rise Up – Rise Up Higher
You Don’t Say

If I told you that I began writing this piece four drawn-out months ago, you might wonder what took so long. Then, when I planned to post this about three weeks ago, believing it would only take a few days to organize my thoughts and write, once again, it was delayed. Yet, if a message is anointed of the Lord, then one would make haste to post it as soon as possible, would he not? Indeed, after I understood that the Lord was leading me to set forth a message to His glory, it should easily be accomplished after some prayer for His anointing, wisdom and guidance.  Should it not? 

And if I am too slow, then the Lord speaks through other vessels to accomplish His will and to speak forth the message He intends.  It has seemed to me that I am often behind others in the giving of a message.  I have seen the Lord do that time and time again, even to the point where I wondered if I should present the message at all, since it can appear that I am merely echoing others. Perhaps the Lord prefers that I act as a confirmation to a given message from Him to others, or perhaps it is to keep me from pride or from thinking more highly of myself than I ought. 

Perhaps the reason is to confirm to me that I am hearing from Him.  He is a good Creator, organized, timely and perfect in all His ways.  It is in the times that we lack understanding that the depth and genuineness of our faith and trust is revealed. We must continue to trust God even when, and especially when, we do not understand what He is doing or why He allows what He allows.  Be that as it may, it is understood by me that when the Lord God speaks, the same message ripples throughout the entire body of believers and followers of Jesus Christ. 
God never operates in confusion.  It was always His intention for the Body of Christ to work together in unity and love, not competitively, not jealously, not arrogantly or proudly, but working as one unit in perfect harmony (unison) like well-trained troops.  Whether God places us in a squad or field army (or any group in-between), and whether we are a foot soldier or a multi-star general, the armies of God obediently follow His commands, trusting, establishing and performing (carrying out) the will of God.  We all have different personalities and express ourselves differently, but God’s intended message always goes forth globally.
The Body of Christ is fused together as a living organism.  The Creator of all things provides a beauty and variety even in mankind, in the different races.  God’s people are scattered throughout the globe, in every nation, every tribe and every clan.  He speaks in a multitude of creative ways, means and methods, and people.  He has been known to speak through unbelievers, or even an animal, any way that He so pleases.  After all, He is Sovereign God.  Who can command or counsel Him?  Even in countries that worship other gods/idols, or are Communist or atheist, the Creator still has His children hidden away in the most unexpected places.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.  [Is 55:8, 9]

The Lord has His own timing.  This I should keep at the forefront of my memory bank because that is one lesson I have learned and continue to learn well.  It is true that even after prayer my thoughts were along the lines of: “How Lord? How can I possibly comfort Your people at this time in my life?”  Maybe I misunderstood.  

If I had a message, then what was it? Yes, I must have misunderstood.  After all, I had only been out of the hospital a day or two and I had not been the most gracious patient.  Perhaps I have gone slightly ahead of myself, but the scriptures which I speak of (that started this message) are posted below. Again, bear with me. You will see how God is into every detail, even when it seems that He is far off or has shut the heavens to prayers with a strength beyond that of brass gates.

So much had been happening, including visiting a woman that I had not previously known and who was in the final throes of stage 4 cancer. I had only seen her three times in two weeks before I myself ended up in hospital for a week. Perhaps a day or two after my discharge from the hospital, I opened the Bible at precisely the beginning of Isaiah 40.  That was also the day it occurred to me that I should go to see my new friend in hospice and let her know why I had not been around to visit.

Comfort you, comfort you My people, says your God. Speak you comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she has received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  [vs 1-3]

If truth be told, when I first read over the words, I was deeply moved.  I had instantly thought that the Lord was speaking to me, that He was comforting me through His Word and by His Spirit, assuring me that He understood the intensity and continuity of the pain I was suffering.  He was letting me know that He was with me, that He would bring me through. There had also been intense spiritual warfare going on as well and from all appearances, it seemed like I was heading for defeat.  Satan, the father of lies! 

It had been a heck of a couple of months when I first came upon the words that seemed to illuminate the page that day. So much had transpired, physically and spiritually.  Genuine thanksgiving filled my heart as I read the words. Indeed, I believe I did thank God for not only His understanding, but His compassion. When we go through a season of suffering, no matter what level, whether physical (body), mental/emotional (soul) or spiritual (spirit), the natural man does tend to seek soothing and reassurance, but even more so, strength to endure and wisdom to overcome. 

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.  [Prov 13:12]

I certainly do not know everything. In fact, when it comes to the broader scope of things, I know very little.  I have often quoted the adage, the more I learn, the less I knowThe well of knowledge is wide and deep, even bottomless. Yet, whether we are in Christ Jesus (Yeshua) or not, we all constantly experience and learn in this life. 

Age does not matter because from the day we are born until the day we pass from this earth, we are constantly learning, unless we have suffered some malformity, disease or injury that halts, disrupts or hinders the normal brain function and/or brain plasticity. Otherwise, we are either stagnant (unable or unwilling to learn) or we are dead.  Even our spirit, as long as it remains in the outer shell, the earthen vessel (body) in which we reside, is keenly aware of its surroundings, even if it is dead (not born-again). [Jn 3:3-8]
Have you ever been in a hospital when a loved one is comatose and someone tells you to speak to the person because they will still hear you, even if their body cannot respond? Have you ever witnessed or had someone who believes that to be true quickly shush or remove a person from the room, if that person speaks negatively about the unresponsive person or their condition?  If so, then you can rest assured that it is because it is believed that the spirit of a person is aware and sees and hears, even if the body cannot respond. 

There was a time where Jesus put people out of a room (unbelief in Jesus or His power) before He performed a wonderful miracle. A synagogue leader named Jairus had asked Jesus to heal his dying daughter.  Sadly, she had died before the time Jesus arrived at Jairus’ home.  The people at the house were quick to inform Jairus and Jesus of the demise of the twelve year old handmaiden.  

In those days, mourners were often hired when someone passed on.  People were making a great noise and weeping for the girl until Jesus said she was not dead but merely asleep, at which time they laughed him to scorn.  He put the unbelievers out of the room and brought with Him only the mother, father, Peter, James and John. Then Jesus (Yeshua) raised the young girl up alive.  
[Mk 5:21, 38-42]. 
The apostle Peter did the same thing when a disciple named Tabitha had died.  Tabitha is a Hebrew name that means “grace, beauty”.  The Aramaic meaning of the name Tabitha is “gazelle”, as in “dorcas gazelle”.  Tabitha is “Dorcas” in Greek.  The women were mourning and weeping, bringing out the beautiful garments that the godly woman had lovingly made, thus unveiling her kindness and her good works.  

Peter ordered all the distraught people out because they had accepted that Tabitha had died and they were speaking forth her death. Their faith had not led them to expect or believe for a miracle.  Once Peter had sent them all out of the room, he raised Tabitha from the dead and invited the believers and the mourners to return to the room and see the woman alive. [Acts 9:36-41]

In part, that is the reason I introduced myself to the woman with cancer and read the scriptures about healing aloud to her, when it was obvious that she was in a deep sleep physically.  I was speaking to her spirit man. Skeptics contend that such things are preposterous.  Be that as it may, there are still a myriad of psychological and medical reports that document the testimonies of those who have had out of body experiences when comatose or even pronounced dead.  Patients are often astounded when their bodies become awakened and they are once again able to speak, marveling as they share about their supernatural experiences. 

There are thousands, possibly millions of reports from people over the centuries, who spoke of what they saw and heard, complete with intimate details that could not possibly be known unless one had had such an experience, bearing witness that they had indeed seen and heard what was going on whilst comatose or dead, before returning to consciousness.  It is their spirit man that saw and heard, for the body could not know or at least, could not even respond to such things.  I believe this is God’s design. 

Nevertheless, in His mercy and by His grace, we who are in Jesus the Messiah are well aware of that which the Lord reveals to us at His choosing, as well as that which we have learned through God’s Word, listening to others, or through life experiences during trials, tribulations, blessings and miracles.  We learn and grow through God’s precious and Holy Spirit – the One Jesus said He would send – the Comforter, Teacher – who would lead us into all truth.  

Those who seek and find truth come to see how much we need Jesus.  A burning desire to love Him is ignited by how perfectly He first loves us, as well as a desperate yearning to be with Jesus and walk with Him every moment, every day of our lives from here and into eternity.  Our heart delights in being with Him, communicating with and obeying Him.  We long to please Him.  We were created for the purpose of fellowshipping with our Maker.  There grows a longing beyond mere words in the hearts of God’s children for increased deeper intimacy, to know our Saviour fully and to wholly realize and embrace the purity and absolute power of the love that saves, heals and delivers.  His Spirit covers and indwells us.

Comfort My People
Comfort, what is comfort?

[As a] Verb: ease or alleviate the grief, sorrow, disappointment, distress, worry, pain of a person; to relieve and to strengthen

Comfort comes in many forms, but the greatest comfort to a soul is TRUTH, and Jesus the Messiah (anointed/chosen one) is the way, the ‘truth’ and the life and no one comes to the Father but by (through) Him  [Jn 14:6] which is the way of the cross.  He is also the greatest Comforter and our blessed Saviour. Howbeit, before Jesus (Yeshua) was crucified, He spoke at length with His apostles at the last supper before departing for the Garden of Gethsemane (which means “oil press”, where indeed Jesus/Yeshua would be “hard-pressed” to pray earnestly regarding what He was about to endure). 

He would later select Peter, James and John [Mat 26:37] (the inner circle) out of the eleven apostles (Judas, one of the original twelve had already departed from Jesus’ company during the last supper in order to betray Him) to come deeper into the Garden to “watch and pray”, while He went into a secluded area to pray alone to His Father.  However, the three disciples would soon fall asleep due to the heaviness (fatigue) upon their eyelids. [Mk 14:40] The weight of what Jesus (Yeshua) was about to endure was heavily upon Him.  His inner anguishing and travailing had begun. 

At one point during His conversation with His men at the last supper, He said:

If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray to the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter that He may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive because it sees Him not, neither knows Him: but you know Him; for He dwells with you and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you[Jn 14:15-18]

The Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of Christ Jesus, is our first promised Comforter, the one sent to become our Saviour through His death, burial and resurrection.  Knowing He was going to ascend to the Father 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus made a promise to send a Comforter to His people.  Indeed, it is the Holy Spirit that speaks and comforts us in times of great trials, tribulations and heartache, as well as in times of prayer. 

It is He who always directs us to look to, abide in and obey Jesus, always pointing to and exalting the Lord Jesus (Yeshua) the Messiah (Christ/Anointed one).  I do believe that the Holy Spirit leads us to a place in the Word that Abba wants us to read.  Jesus told us that Father’s precious and Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth. It stands to reason that if we pray that the Lord would guide us to the place in His Word that He would have us read, then by His precious and Holy Spirit, He will do so.

Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. [Jn 16:13]

Before I had opened my Bible that first time after my hospital discharge and came upon Isaiah 40 , I had quickly prayed for the Lord’s leading (more like an arrow prayer, quick and to the point), and had randomly opened the book, as many of us often do, unless we are searching for some scripture, story or author in particular.  As previously stated, I had first thought the Lord was comforting me through His word.  My second and next thought had been slightly delayed, but it had occurred to me that the Lord was instructing me to “comfort [His] people”. 

I had heard that vast numbers of people have been going through inconceivable trials and tribulations, desperately needing prayers, spiritual comforting and strength in these dark and turbulent days – even if the reasons for the need of comfort are different.    Many have been suffering and going through their own personal tribulations, heavy trials and demonic attacks.  Too many have been going through much for quite a season, some even for years.  

Determinedly and faithfully, they have continued hanging onto and abiding in Christ, despite the efforts of the world and demons to destroy faith, steal destiny and kill covenant relationship with Jesus by severing communication lines.  People overwhelmed with condemnation and guilt are often afraid to approach God with their burdens.  Satan lays the condemnation on thick. If there has only been a mustard seed of faith when the battles are intense and confused, we remain prisoners of hope in Jesus.
For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.  [Is 9:5]

Indeed, we are in spiritual warfare, warriors for Christ.  Even though prophet Isaiah writes of the fury and confusion of battle in the above verse, he immediately prophesied of a child being born (our Messiah/Saviour), Jesus the Christ! He acknowledges the bloody battles endured by God’s people, but in the very next breath, he offers hope in prophesying of the coming Messiah.

However, it was not just in the beginning of his recorded messages that Isaiah prophesied of the coming Christ, but the Holy Spirit kept the prophet keenly aware that the promise of the coming Messiah had not been forgotten. Like John the Baptist, Isaiah, as well as other ancient prophets, were voices crying out so the people would repent and “prepare themselves” for the coming of the Lord.  Just as Isaiah 40, verse 3 speaks boldly:
The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Pain itself can bring confusion when the constancy and the potency of it demand all focus and attention.  Soon enough, condemning thoughts came to my mind, which were kindled by a couple of experiences that happened during my week stay in the hospital. Now, in order to get the full impact and understanding behind this message, I am going to have to give the reader some background as to the series of events that transpired, leading up to the final writing of this message.  Please bear with me because the ending of this message will either remind or introduce the reader to the amazing ways of the Sovereign Lord God, and how suddenly and how unexpectedly He does things.

I guarantee you that our God does indeed search our heart for intent, motive and genuineness, allowing our love, faith and trust to be stretched and tried beyond what we thought we were capable of.  When situations arise and people come against us wrongfully or to the degree where we could easily become embittered, will we instead lay down our lives and pray blessings into their lives, whether it be for deliverance, healing, or another good thing that the Holy Spirit leads us to pray for?  Will we offer the same forgiveness, mercy and love that have been extended to us from God through Jesus?  

I guarantee you that the living God has been doing a good work.  For those who have been obediently walking the walk to the best of their ability, not perfectly or without flaw, perhaps even falling down at times, but who have surrendered humbly to the will of God and trust Him despite negative outward appearances, are about to see the power of God in their lives in the most creative, mind-boggling and breathtaking ways. 

God’s People Learn to Wait
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.  
[Rom 5:3, 4; 8:25]

Long awaited prayers and requests for salvation, healing, deliverance, restoration, reconciliation and other urgent petitions are answered and about to be seen, my friends.  Prophetic dreams and visions, some of which are from many moons ago, are beginning to manifest and shall continue.  I learned long ago (and still need the gentle reminders) that God’s timing is not ours.  
pulling at the bit - photo credit: J. MacNeil-Traylor
My “soon’ is many times His “wait, it does not tarry”. We can fully trust God and still be pulling at the bit, impatiently learning to wait.  If it takes several times, it takes several times, until we learn to come to rest confidently in the Creator who loves us.  Like the forerunners who went before us, we must learn patience, learn to wait.
We read the stories in the Bible, such as the trial of Joseph that began after he had two spectacular dreams in which his brothers and his father bowed down to him.  Shortly after the two dreams, everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong.  Suddenly, everything came against Joseph to the degree where it seemed that his two dreams were not prophetic dreams at all.  Jacob had angered at his son’s boldness when he revealed his dreams, but he pondered the meaning silently.  By all “outward appearances” it seemed that Joseph had been deceived either by his mind or Satan (adversary).  

He dreamt his family was bowing down to him as he ruled over them, but instead Joseph was sold to slave merchants heading to Egypt, where he himself would bow down and be ruled over by others.  Instead of awe and wonder, Joseph’s brothers were filled with anger, hatred, envy and jealousy.  They wanted rid of their father’s favourite son.  By God’s mercy, Sovereignty and plan, he was sold rather than killed.  Joseph was separated from the very family he was to rule over. It was a hard, dusty journey to Egypt.  Joseph’s wait had just begun.

Potifphar held a high and prestigious position in Egypt as the chief of the guards for Pharaoh. Being pleased with what he saw, he purchased Joseph as a slave. Although he had favour in Potiphar’s eyes and rose to an honourable position as overseer of Potiphar’s house, Joseph’s rejection of the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife brought false accusations against him, landing him in prison. She had kept her eyes on Joseph for some time, intent on seducing him into committing adultery.  She was repetitively inviting him to lie with her in bed, but Joseph refused to listen to her.  [Gen 39:10] 
How was she going to hide or even explain Joseph’s garment that was left in her possession when she forcefully grabbed him before he fled?  Her men servants and her handmaidens would recognize the garment of the household’s overseer.  Potiphar’s wife had to come up with a story to protect her reputation, her marriage and likely her life.  Therefore she called the male servants and concocted the story that Joseph, a Hebrew, got into her bed to lie with her.  Her protests caused him to flee so quickly that he left his robe behind.  [Gen 39:15
The fact that Joseph the Hebrew was not executed immediately before the Egyptians makes one wonder if Potiphar was more persuaded of Joseph’s innocence due to his integrity, loyalty and love of God than he was of his unfaithful wife’s calumny, her most unconvincing allegations.  Potiphar saw that Joseph’s God prospered all the man set his hand to. Even in prison, Joseph was head of the prisoners.  Would Joseph’s God prosper a man caught up in sin?  The Bible does not even give the woman any honour by naming her.  The shameful adulteress remains known throughout history only as Potipher’s wife. 

When we read the story of Joseph, we understand the incredulous hardships, the hatred, rejection and betrayal of his brothers, the shock of being in a foreign land with a foreign culture and many strange gods/idols.  We understand the pain he endured when his feet were locked in iron fetters in prison. [Gen 39:20; Ps 105:18]  Most of us know what it is like to be falsely accused and worse yet, to have all the evidence stacked against us, but few of us know what it would be like to stand accused where the lies and fabrications of a false witness could lead to a death sentence.  

Imagine the doubts and thoughts that Joseph must have fought regarding his prophetic dreams from God, especially when he stood accused of a very serious crime.  Joseph was faithful, a man of integrity who trusted God. Undoubtedly he faced times where he had to cast down negative thoughts, and overcome all doubts and fears.  He was merely a man, after all, not infallible, not perfect, but surely a man who loved His God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!

Did Joseph ever wonder if his dreams were indeed from God or if they were just the zealous dreams of a visionary young lad?  As he grew older, did he ever ask God when the dreams would come to fruition, or why the vision tarried, or how God was going to perform the miracle, or if the dreams were even from God?  Did Joseph’s spirit man also wrestle with his flesh, his mind and thoughts, as our spirit wars against our flesh? [Gal 5:17]  

It seems that he was able to overcome all fear and doubt, all carnality, as day after day, month after month and year after year passed since God revealed His personal promise to Joseph.  From the time of Joseph’s dreams until the day they became reality over a decade had passed, approximately thirteen years.  Joseph had to learn patience, to learn to wait.

Perhaps we have entertained the hopeful thought that we ourselves could go through Joseph’s trial just as bravely as he did, knowing that God is with us as He was with Joseph, and knowing the victorious outcome Joseph experienced.  But once we see the outcome, it is no longer faith.  When hope becomes a reality, it is no longer faith. But faith believes the victorious outcome even when it remains yet unseen or when all seems lost.  Most assuredly, doubts will knock loudly on the door of faith. Do not answer!

Hold Fast to Faith through Jesus
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  [Heb 11:1]

We read about Abraham and how an angel stopped him from killing Isaac, just in the nick of time.  We know God was with Abraham and strongly tested the love and faith of the patriarch.  We may tend to think that we too would be as faithful as Abraham because we too have faith, love and trust God.  But the trials of our faith come in ways that we would never expect and most assuredly would not personally choose.  

Guaranteed, it will seem like our trials are more than we can bear at times.  Yet we cannot give up or give into fear, friends.  No matter what things look like, keep trusting God. When we have no strength and desperately cry out to Abba, He strengthens us, comforts us.  We can trust Him in all things.  Yes, that might sound like a ludicrous blanket statement when we are in the midst of impossible situations with no way out in sight.  Nevertheless, it is true. He never leaves or forsakes us.

Yes, it is one thing to saytrust God’ in times of peace, but quite another to actually trust God when the pressures and stress of trials and tribulations are locked down so intensely, one can barely breathe.  Abraham and Sarah waited over a decade also, two and a half decades, twenty-five years before their personal promise from God came to fruition (manifested).  

Although the couple floundered once trying to help God with His promise (Ishmael was the result), Abraham and Sarah learned to wait.  Was their wait lengthened due to their excitement of finally having a child?  Is that why 25 long years had to pass before Isaac was born?  We will not know the answer to that until the day we are with the Lord, and by then...it will not matter.  All God’s people must learn patience, learn to wait and trust

When I came across Isaiah 40 just a couple of days after my hospital stay (first week of March), there were two more times over the course of the next three weeks (until the end March) that the Bible opened there. No bookmarks or dog-eared pages.  The Lord was preparing me to accomplish His will, but I did not realize that His timing was not just yet

So, at the end of the previous article I announced a “Comfort My People” message forthcoming in a few days, but had written that it would not take a month to post. Aha! And here we are…a good month later and still I have been working on the message to post it.  But again, God had more things to do. His ways are stunning. His timing is impeccable!
Wait, wait, God is right on time!  Even if everything seems hopeless, wait a little longer.  There is a reason the Lord allowed delay after delay, causing me to wait before I wrote this message.  He had an ending for it that even I would never have anticipated.  I promise you that our Maker has been doing a good work in His people, yet so many cannot see it in themselves.  He takes that which was meant for evil and turns it to good.  How, why, when and where – it is God’s to decide.

Have you ever gotten ahead of the Lord?  Obviously, I have.  There were more things I had to go through before the fullness of the message could be achieved, but I only knew in part when I came across Isaiah 40 those three times back in March.  I will spare the reader in-depth details regarding every single thing that took place over the course of the past four months, but I will paint enough of a picture to hopefully illustrate the intensity, confusion, struggle and warfare that was happening all around and inside me at full force. I would not call it an onslaught, but events certainly were fast-paced and extreme.  Victory was nowhere in sight…yet.

This is a testimony to the glory of God, true enough, but it shall also be a comfort to anyone in trials or tribulation right now, where everything seems to be in direct opposition of what you have been waiting or hoping for.  Even if it seems that God is not paying attention, or that He is uninvolved, or that He is somehow punishing you, or that He is moving too slowly, I can promise you that God is always working in the unseen realm and that His timing is perfect, even when it seems that He will miss the golden opportunity to help. God is the one who makes opportunities, and He makes the impossible possible.

 It is true that when the Lord seems the farthest, He is actually the closest.  Do you know how many times He has and will carry you when your strength has failed you and you do not think that you can possibly go a step further? When we are in hardships, we want out. We want out of the fiery furnace. Yet, to those of us who believe, we must gird up our loins and look to the empty cross.  Jesus was victorious on the cross.  He has risen and is alive!  He is well able to help us. He is the one raised from the dead, sitting at the right hand of the Father, interceding on our behalf. [Rom 8:34]  He is still the one who walks with us through the fire, and the one who sends His angel to shut the lions' mouths.

Falling Short of God’s Glory
So, let’s begin.  Firstly, I had sought help for an excruciatingly painful knee, but instead of getting help for the knee, I was hospitalized when an MRI revealed two tiny clusters of blood clots in my lungs.  Being so small, they were not considered life-threatening, but certainly had to be addressed. Ironically, I had no chest pain, coughing or trouble breathing.  Despite my mentioning the original reason behind my seeking medical attention, the pain in my knee was neither addressed nor alleviated whilst in the hospital. The severity and continuity of the pain robbed me not only of sleep, but of my patience. 

I had a run-in with one nurse who was laughing and carrying on in the room with a delusional old woman (in mid to late eighties) at three o’clock in the morning.  Later, I felt it was necessary to apologize to the nurse for telling her in an unwelcoming tone that she could be more considerate of others at that time of the day.  It would have been better to shake my head and ignore it all, but I had not.  Many Christians are often praised for their attitude when they are sick and in pain, but I reckon I am not one of them.  I had to be a grouch that day.  The apology had been accepted.  My ‘grouchiness’ was understood, but I did not want to wiggle off the hook too easily.  I gave myself quite a mental lecture. 

The elderly woman and I had gotten along quite well until the last day.  She was caught up in delusion yet again, not understanding or even realizing that she was.   She had asked me to get her screwdriver and take the two television flat screens down off the wall because she had paid $2,000 for them and did not want to leave them behind when she left the hospital. 

As carefully and honestly as I could, I explained to her that I could not do that.  I told her that she must be mistaken, that maybe the screens simply looked like hers, but that those screens were hospital property. Besides, I informed her, I saw no screwdriver in her hands. Well, that went over like a lead balloon.  I made another enemy.  She turned her wheelchair away and would have nothing to do with me after that.

That scenario took place just a couple of hours before my discharge.  So, when I was back home and opened the Bible to Isaiah 40, yes, my first thought was that I was the one being comforted by my Lord…and boy, did I think I needed it!  But before too long, I sensed that the Lord was telling me to comfort His people.  Guilt taunted me as the memories of the nurse I had offended, as well as the woman in her eighties, came flooding back to memory.  Surely the Lord was asking the wrong person.  How could I comfort others and not be a hypocrite?  I was not the smiling, pleasant patient, but rather ornery – short on patience, long on grouchy. 

I had been asked if I would go to the hospice and pray for a woman dying from cancer. The first time I went I had never expected what I saw…a beautiful woman who had become a skeleton with skin, no muscles, no fat, so gray in complexion and so cold to the touch.  She was in a deep sleep brought on by the morphine she was on.  I had no idea what to do.  Should I stay, should I go?  She did not know me.  What if she awoke?  It was an awkward moment and I felt quite helpless.  Another arrow prayer!

The Word of God
The grass withers, the flower fades: but the word of our God shall stand forever.  [Is 40:8]

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.  
[Rom 15:4]

Deep within my spirit I heard, “Read her the word.”  I had pre-selected healing scriptures and had bookmarked them, so I sat on a small chair and introduced myself before I began to read.  She remained asleep.  After an hour and a bit later, I closed my Bible and bid the lady goodbye, but still, no response.

The Word of God – our Messiah is the Word that has come in the flesh. The Word sustains us, guides, teaches, exhorts, directs, instructs and comforts us.  Without Jesus/Yeshua, where would hope be?  The Word is food and drink for our spirit man. 

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoso eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  [Jn 6:54]

A great number of disciples walked away from Jesus that day when He spoke those words. To them, His words were an abomination. They must have thought Jesus was a madman, encouraging what seemed to be cannibalism.  The Messiah is the “Bread of life” (meat) and “Living Water” (drink).  Those who walked away and left Jesus (Yeshua) were void of understanding.

At the last supper, His words took on full meaning, making it all abundantly clear to the apostles, His disciples, what He meant.

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and broke it and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat; this is My body. And He took the cup (filled with wine) and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, Drink you all of it; for this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.  [Mat 26:26-28]

And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life: he that comes to Me shall not hunger: and he that believes on Me shall never thirst [Mat 6:35]

The Lord’s word does not return void, but accomplishes what He pleases and prospers where He sends it [Is 55:11].  The night after my first visit to the hospice, a small group of us were gathered together for prayer when a call came in, reporting that the woman with cancer was sitting up in bed having a private Bible study. THAT is God and the power of God’s Word. Glory!

The pain in my knee had progressed to the point where it woke me up and sleep deprivation was getting the best of me. I had no idea what was wrong.  The knee had not been banged or suffered any damage in any fall. Weeks were turning into a month and onward. It was mysterious.  When I would arise to stand, it was very difficult for me to walk without a limp at first, but after a couple of minutes of movement, I could walk without anyone noticing any problem. Swelling lifted my calf a couple of inches off the floor.  Yes, the swelling was that dramatic. I did kneel to pray a couple of times, but not for long.
Satan is the accuser of the brethren [Rev 12:9-11]
When I knelt, my knee throbbed terribly. It was also with great effort that I arose. Needless to say, as soon as I knelt to pray, the adversary whispered that I was only pretending to be humble, but that God knew better. The words, “hypocrite, self-centered’ flashed through my mind.  The devil accused me of considering only ‘self’ and of trying to pray so that God would be moved to grant my requests, my petitions.  Yes, Satan accuses us even when, and especially when, we do what is right in God’s eyes.  He will still find some fault, either real or imagined. He is the accuser of the brethren. [Rev 12:9-11]

That’s Satan’s idea of a two-edged sword that cuts both ways.  In accusing us, he still must acknowledge that it is God alone who has the power to grant our requests, yet at the same time, Satan subtly suggests that God will not answer because the prayers are ‘selfish’.  When one is racked with pain, there is a tendency to pray often and ask for relief and healing, or wisdom to find the cause so it can be attended to.  

For these two reasons, condemning thoughts from the devil and physical pain, I did not kneel for long.  Not certain that my heart was honourable before God in the matter of kneeling, I cut the time short ‘just in case’, but also due to discomfort and pain.  The effort it took in standing up made me feel like I was a hundred years old.  My leg could not seem to hold up under any kind of pressure.

The Word of God, which is Spirit and life, was spoken to a dying woman I knew not, who was suffering from terminal cancer and was in a deep morphine-induced sleep.  The Spirit of the Word was heard and welcomed by her spirit and the next day she awoke, alert and studying her Bible.  Only God!  Yet, even though those of us who are in Christ know that Satan is the accuser of the brethren, we do well to remember that he is also a liar; the one who seeks to steal, kill and destroy, the roaring lion that prowls, walks around seeking whom he may devour. [1Pet 5:8]
I knew it was the enemy’s voice seeking to condemn, yet his accusations gave me pause. Satan is expert in his evil ways.  The help of the Holy Spirit to search my heart was invited.  Rising from kneeling was awkward and clumsy.  Satan knows our weak spots. He has always had armies of watchers that report back to him. Since he is not omnipresent, he depends upon his cohorts to keep him informed about everything, including any negative experiences we personally went through, and what destructive messages heard throughout life impacted a soul, whether the accusatory or abusive words came from a parent, sibling or another relative, a teacher, peer, a Christian, or anyone else of influence. 

Demonic activity brought on by a number of reasons and allowed in by various means and methods, may have even been behind some of our bad experiences in life. I knew the condemning thoughts were a lie initially, but I began to doubt.  The times that we are worn down and without strength in every way are the very times Satan enjoys launching attacks.  After all, even if Christians are sick, we should always be smiling and a sheer delight to be around, right?  We know there are times that excruciating pain can make us delirious, or at the very least, miserable to the point where we may prefer no company.  Most of us do not want people to see us at our worst and physical distresses can certainly rob us of our charm. 

My smiles were on strike in that time period, perhaps making the odd appearance, and maybe I had gotten selfish or self-focused with all the pain over the months.  It is right and proper to kneel (humility) before a holy King, so any voice that condemns kneeling is obviously from the adversary.  On the other hand, the devil knows when we are weak and weary, frustrated and out of strength.  When defenses are down, Satan moves in a cloud of confusion and distraction, seeking whom he may devour.  He will increase pain in the body in order to decrease the strength of faith in the spirit man.  He will create great turbulence intended to shake loose the shield of faith that protects, to penetrate the breastplate of righteousness with a fierceness intended to make us doubt who we are in Christ – God’s workmanship.

A Heart Searched
The pain that had begun as an acute ache grew to be overwhelming. It is understood that the pain in the knee has been mentioned often already, but it was so excruciating, it consumed me. There was no escaping it, not with sleep or medication. Tylenol 3 with codeine did not even touch it.  An opiate, which I prefer not to take, Oxycodone, was prescribed, but a high dosage had to be ingested before it even dulled the pain.  As stated, my seeking help led to an admission to hospital, but for a matter completely unrelated to the knee.  The Lord is constantly looking out for us.  What Satan intends for evil, God intends for good (worth repeating).  Our Creator’s wisdom and care for us is beyond measure or limit.

I could not even sit down long enough to type either.  No position, whether sitting, standing, walking or lying down could alleviate the pain.  It was becoming a constant focus, but oh, how I was trying to keep the focus on my Lord.  My spirit man was losing strength.  I did not understand.  Why was no doctor trying to find out what was wrong with my leg?  The Lord had not left me.  I knew that, yet He was silent about the suffering in my body. Why?  

When condemning thoughts came, I searched my heart to see if there was any unforgiveness, bitterness or resentment, but I could not think of anyone or anything.  Countless times over the years, I have heard different folks mentioning the scripture about how deceitful and wicked the heart is, so, in order to be sure of where I stood with the Lord, I asked the Holy Spirit to search my heart also, in case I tricked myself or was in denial about anything.  We can blind ourselves to our own sins sometimes.  I did not want to take any chances.

Before quoting a scripture from a certain passage, we may well need to read the whole chapter as well as the verses before and after, in order to know the context in which the author intended.  Sometimes we may need to quote more than just one verse to keep the meaning in correct perspective.  Yet how often do people only quote part of a verse and leave a remaining portion unspoken, thus changing the meaning or full impact of the statement?  

The whole scripture or verse should be said.  It makes a huge difference. Just to say, “…the heart is deceitful and wicked, who can know it” and leave it there is enough to cause hopelessness, but kept in context, we can rejoice in trusting God!

Below scripture is posted in order to get the context in which the verse about the deceitfulness of the heart is written. (Emphasis and emboldening are mine)

Blessed is the man that trusts in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD isFor he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreads out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat comes, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.  [Jer 17:7-10]
It sounds like the "reap and sow" principle, doesn't it?  Well, it is precisely that in part. But also, when God searches a heart, He will expose any sin or wrong-doing. He will correct and chasten (discipline, reprove, correct) His own children. 

For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens (corrects, disciplines) not.  [Heb 12:6; 7]

Everything makes a difference, a significant difference, when one trusts in the Lord.  Who is it that circumcises the heart?  [Rom 2:28, 29]  Who is it that molds, shapes, conforms us, including our heart, into the likeness of Christ? [2Cor 3:18; Rom 8:29] Although we are told how the heart can trick us, the Lord immediately assures us that He is in control.  He who began a good work in us will see it through to the day of Jesus Christ. [Phil 1:6]  

Our heart can deceive us, yes, but God searches the heart, testing us.  He is faithful to reveal ungodly things that are hidden in us, the impurities; the dross that must be purged, the dead branches (even branches that are fruitful) that must be pruned and thinned to sheer (pardon pun) minimum.  God lovingly disciplines His people. As Jesus, He teaches us obedience through the things we suffer.  [Heb 5:8]

With that being said, when I asked the Holy Spirit to search my heart at that time, nothing was revealed. When we are in the midst of confusing and incredulous times, the adversary enjoys reminding us of how far we have fallen short from God’s glory.  He will suggest that we somehow brought all the trouble upon ourselves, or that we are being punished for some wickedness, some hidden sin, or accuses us that our faith is too little (shallow) or not real. He must have forgotten the scripture that states that faith as small as a grain of mustard seed can move mountains (of troubles).  [Mat 17:20]   

Family, friends, work associates or even strangers can lay unnecessary burdens upon us without intending to.  Some overreach in their efforts to help.  Some judge erroneously.  Some flounder or halt between two opinions.  It is a truth that we all fall short of the glory of God.  [Rom 3:23]  Some who misjudge or flounder in their effort to help often suffer from JFS (Job’s Friends Syndrome).  They mean well, but miss what God is doing and end up saying all the wrong things.  Others tend to be more like modern day Pharisees, usually unknowingly.  Today folks call them legalists instead of Pharisees.
For they bind (tie on; lay upon) heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.  [Mat 23:4]

Jesus was speaking to His disciples about the Pharisees and scribes, the synagogue rulers who kept the law of Moses. Christ Jesus (Yeshua) most certainly was not coming against or condemning the law. He told His disciples to do what the scribes and Pharisees bid them to observe (do) according to the law of God (given to Moses), but cautioned the people not to do their works. Jesus (Yeshua) warned the disciples about the hypocritical ways of the religious leaders. 
They had huge phylacteries (normally a small leather box with the scriptures on parchment, worn during prayer as a reminder to keep the law, worn on the forehead or left arms). They made their leather boxes large, so that it looked like they kept the law more devoutly (more piously) than others, and their long prayers would be heard as a result.  

The knowledge that the scribes and Pharisees had of God’s law was something to be respected (they were learned in God’s laws, statutes and commandments).  However, the things they demanded of the people were so cumbersome that none could bear up under them, not even the scribes and Pharisees themselves.

They boasted of things they did not do, but insisted others do. Hypocrites, brood of vipers! They were filled with self-righteousness, pride and strict disciplinary rules, statutes and traditions to keep the people and their money under their control. That is what Jesus condemned. Teachers/preachers today who take God’s word (a scripture here or there) to validate their argument, debate or instruction cause confusion and division. 

If they preach false doctrines from God’s word, or use scripture to line their pockets with money, it is a burden to the people.  The resulting heaviness and offense that comes from truth being obscured have been known to drive multitudes away from the churches, from Christianity and away from Jesus Christ.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.  Woe unto the world because of offenses!  For it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!  [Mat 18:6, 7]

No wonder Jesus called the Pharisees whitewashed tombs, beautiful outside but full of dead men’s bones; at times He called them serpents, a brood of vipers [Mat 23:27; 33] Preachers do well to teach about the grace and mercy of God, as well as the forgiveness of sins, available to all through the cross and blood of Christ. Jesus came to the world purposely to be the sacrificial Lamb of God, without spot or blemish, through the blood that was poured forth to cleanse us, and the name of Jesus exalted on high because He willingly went to the cross to die in our place for the redemption of sins.
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. [Jn 15:13]

Sin is destructive, and the wages of sin is death. [Rom 6:23] Yet, God’s love pours out undeserved mercy upon us, and by His grace we are saved through faith. It is so true that without Jesus, we can do nothing … nothing of eternal importance or significance. His grace continues to offer salvation through the cross and blood of Jesus/Yeshua, and the same grace helps us in our struggles and all of our troubles, if we keep repentant hearts and cry out to our God. 

His mercy sees past outward appearances and looks upon a heart with such compassion and love that we cannot comprehend the height, breadth or depth of it all. He still offers forgiveness that we do not deserve to the broken and contrite, the repentant. His grace helps us to be saved by faith [Eph 2:8, 9] and to overcome. God grants each person a measure of faith [Rom 12:3]; and we overcome the adversary by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, and love not our life unto death (surrender/dying to fleshly desires/appetites/ways).  [Rev 12:11]  Our confessed sins are hurled into the depths of the sea – covered. The precious blood of Christ, a lamb perfect in every way, redeemed us from our sins.  [1Pet 1:19]

He will turn again, He will have compassion on us: He will subdue our iniquities; and You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. [Micah 7:19]

Even in His judgment and justice, God extends mercy.  He could utterly destroy us and our sinful, corrupted world, yet He waits patiently for His plans and purposes to come to fruition in His timing; until all prophecies are fulfilled according to His Word.  It was His mercy that sent His Son Jesus (Yeshua) to redeem us.  He still saves the lost.

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy that it cannot hear. [Is 59:1]

Again, scripture goes on to speak of our sins that separate us from God. Glory to God for Jesus coming in the flesh and doing all He did so that we could be saved and reconciled back to our heavenly Maker. Can you imagine where we would be had Jesus given up before going to the cross and spilling His precious blood, saying it was “more than he could bear”?  He is our example.  

When Peter cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant Malchus, Jesus healed him and reminded His apostles that He could call upon His Father to send forth twelve legions of angels to help Him, but He would not because the scriptures had to be fulfilled. [Mat 26:52-54]  We too must come to drink from the same bitter cup as our Lord. There are times in our lives when things happen that seem to be more than we can bear, greatly humbled (sometimes crumbled) under heavy burdens and devastating events and circumstances.

Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me. Nevertheless, not My will but Thy will be done.  [Lk 22:42] 

I wish I could say that those words flowed from my lips in times of great duress, but I cannot. More than once I cried out like Elijah, “It’s enough! [take me home]”  In the times that we may find ourselves in anguish, we too long for the bitter cup of suffering to be taken from us. When we are in the fiery furnace, we need to see the Deliverer walking with us in that fire.  Although our flesh may cry out to be released from the furnace, we learn to persevere step by step.

We discover how much we love and trust God, and learn to go deeper with both.  If we find ourselves afraid, we learn to rebuke the spirit of fear and offer up praises for the spirit of heaviness (evil spirits).  We learn to rest in God’s love and power with a sound mind.

God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified. 
[2Tim 1:7; Is 61:3]
We learn to speak God’s word to Satan as Jesus (Yeshua) did in the desert wilderness when Satan came to Him during his forty day fast and tempted Him. We come to learn about, experience and know the power and authority of God’s word. Sometimes the flames obstruct our view or the intensity of the heat (situation and circumstance) distracts us, hindering our eyes from looking to Jesus. Indeed, Jesus is our strength when we stay close to Him and follow His lead. If we put our hand in His hand spiritually (sweet surrender), clinging to Him, then even when we cannot see Him, we are assured of His presence and guidance. 

We learn that we can only say “Thy will be done” and mean it when we fully trust God to perform His promises when we simply obey as Jesus did. It’s quite one thing to say the words, and quite another to actually do God’s will, especially when it comes to not only trusting God with the impossible, but to wait (hard waiting, but not impossible) on His timing.
Jesus (Yeshua) anguished. He travailed. He prayed to the point where His sweat was as drops of blood falling [Lk 22:44], but in the end, after He poured out His heart to His Father, Abba sent a holy ministering angel to His Son.  After that, Jesus was strengthened and He obeyed God completely unto death, thereby defeating Satan and his armies. For this reason Jesus came – to go to the cross and to die, so we could be reconciled with our heavenly Father.  

But God knew that His Son would carry out the mission.  And through Jesus, we too can endure and not give up.  He will help us if we faint along the way and encourages us to “rise up”, even to "rise up higher". The Lord is our strength, and if need be, He will carry us.  It is usually in retrospect that we finally see the times we fainted or fell, having no strength to even stand.  We come to realize that it was then that our Creator carried us, as surely as does the wind beneath the wings of a bird carries it.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith: who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds.  [Heb 12:2, 3]

God sees our heart and does not judge us by outward appearance.  There is nothing we can do (works) to be “good enough” for salvation. It is a free gift due to God’s mercy which comes from His great love for mankind that we can be saved by grace through faith. We cannot boast because it is not something we accomplished ourselves.

But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved); And has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Eph 2:4-8]

Even Samuel had to be reminded of God’s ways. When the prophet had seen all of Jesse’s sons, the Lord impressed upon him that none of these were the ones to be anointed as king. That is why Samuel asked Jesse if he had any more sons, which he did. Jesse had not considered bringing his youngest son before the prophet Samuel simply because David was yet a lad, a shepherd boy.  He had to be fetched from the fields to stand before Samuel because he was out in the pastures tending the flocks of sheep. The Lord told Samuel not to consider height (how tall he was or his age) or his countenance (face/expression).

David was not full-grown and seemed too young to be made a king over God’s nation, His people. All eight of Jesse’s sons were called, but only one, David, was chosen.  For many are called, but few are chosen.  [Mat 22:14]

But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him (a son of Jesse, tall and strong): for the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks upon the outward appearance, but the Lord looks upon the heart. [1Sam 16:7]

The above is another fine verse in scripture to counter the “heart is wicked and deceitful” verse, which is so often held up to countless people as a sharp, threatening sword in the face.  All scripture is good and blessed, as it is God’s word, but it must be kept in context, not manipulated to fit some hidden agenda! Satan manipulates and twists the intent and meaning of God’s word. 
God alone can see if there is light or darkness ruling a heart, as surely as Jesus saw the heart within Judas. God alone knows what people can bear. He is there ready to help us when things overwhelm us, if we will but cry out to Him and trust Him…then wait, and wait some more. He is faithful always. 

In December last year my back had been troubling me, so I finally decided to go to a chiropractor.  The fifth or sixth time I saw him, he did something to my back that instantly caused pain to the hip.  He had initially thought he could fix the error, but when it was apparent that he could not, he instructed me to go to a doctor and get an anti-inflammatory and painkillers and return in a few days. However, the next day the pain was not only in the hip, but manifesting in the right knee also and rapidly worsening. I did not return to the chiropractor.

Whether a trial or a test, we learn to worship God, not leaning on our own understanding, reasoning or logic, but rather trusting. Is that a hard lesson?  Yes, when we are drowning in troubles, the last thing the flesh wants to do is worship God. However, our spirit must rise up stronger than the carnal nature and overcome it.  We have to keep looking to Jesus, from where comes our help.  And even though I know that, keeping my focus on my God instead of the pain that had invaded my body at that time was becoming an increasingly serious struggle. Therein was the test.  

Would or could I still trust God to heal me when all outward appearances screamed the exact opposite?  ‘Eyes off the pain; eyes on Jesus’, I would remind myself. That is hard to do when a person awakens, already weeping and groaning aloud, already grumbling, due to pain. In the struggle between my body (carnal nature) and my spirit, spiritual warfare increased.  It was a real work to cast down all the negative thoughts coming speedily and furiously as condemning fiery darts of the enemy.

It was time for a bigger shield, increased faith, to quench Satan’s weapons. [Eph 6:16]  It seemed like everything in my walk was being tested to the point where I was beyond weary. Instead of being on the offensive, I was on the defensive.  The pain was causing me to become sensitive, fatigued and miserable.  

The trial was overwhelming because it was not just physical.  It was not until recently that I understood, but at the time of visiting my friend with cancer, my own hospitalization and suffering, my mind was becoming confused.  I was forgetting things, even having one day where I temporarily got mixed up in directions when I was driving through town to pick up supplies. 

The town where I shop is small, but routes that I was familiar with and had often driven, suddenly seemed foreign and new to me.  It was taking me great effort to get where I wanted to go.  I am now convinced that the amount and dosage of Oxycodone (painkillers) I was taking were causing confusion, depression, agitation and anxiety.  There was also a personal matter going wrong. The trial seemed to be affecting me in body, soul and spirit.  

A great trial is very humbling.  In all my desire to please Jesus, abide in Him and be obedient, it seemed that I was failing Him. He has shown such love to me, and taught me love in the most incredible ways that I long to please my heavenly Father.  However, things were about to get worse.  I kept pressing in, often in tears and anguish.
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  [Rom 10:17]

Mankind constantly faces all kinds of devastating situations. It is only when we have to stand upon our own raging waters that we come to understand Peter, who stepped out upon the water by faith. Our eyes tend to focus on the impossibility and/or the impact of a thing and we begin to despair in our fears. It can cause us to panic, at which time the thing will begin to consume us, affecting our appetite, sleep, prayers and every other area of our life. 

We know Jesus is with us at all times, even in the most illogical, impossible and desperate times, but like Peter, our focus shifts to the natural.  Our reasoning, logic and understanding do try to overrule our faith in Jesus. Most of us tend to look at the mountain in front of us and become overwhelmed, instead of having faith as a child.  Suffering is suffering, whether it occurs in the body, soul or spirit. 

Whatever the fearful circumstances are, they can be incredibly difficult to ignore, but not impossible.  The Holy Spirit helps us, comforts us. Ah, hindsight! Yet hindsight is wisdom for future reference. Wisdom comes in many forms, all of which originate in God. Now I do not wonder how Peter could lose focus and begin to fear the wind and the turbulent water beneath his feet when Jesus was right there in front of him.  Now I fully understand how Peter lost focus.

I saw my new friend in the hospice only three more times before I had to halt visiting again.  This time I had walking pneumonia and I certainly did not want to pass any bug along.  The last time we visited together, I had taken my friend down to the dining room.  She had put on a bit of mascara, did her hair and put on a fresh pretty blouse. She looked fantastic, the best I had seen her look since I had met her back in late February.  The staff member in the kitchen had made a delicious-looking, four-layer chocolate and cream cake.  My friend hungrily ate the generous slice that staff had given her.  

Visitors were asked to put on plastic “duck” shoes. That is what I call them.  They are the plastic clogs that have holes cut out in them. Many people wear them when they swim in rivers, lakes or oceans.  I had forgotten to exchange them for my street shoes. There was still snow on the ground.  I fell going down a hill and kept slipping all over the place.  It was not until I returned home that I noticed that I still had the plastic shoes on, which meant I had to return to the hospice.  I had been talking with the Lord on my way out of the building.  

Why had He not mentioned the shoes to me?  Doubts began to prowl around the corridors of my mind.  Did I not know my Lord’s voice anymore? The Lord does not leave or forsake us.  What was happening?  My own understanding and reasoning powers began to try and figure things out again. The sifting of Satan had well begun.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.  [Prov 3:5, 6]

New Beginning

It had only been a few weeks earlier, about the third week of March, when the winter had not yet ceased and snow was on the ground, when my friend pointed out the window of her room. I failed to see what she was pointing at.  She told me to look at the tree.  Small, light pink buds had appeared on the tree, despite the cold weather and the snow upon the ground.  

It is a rare oddity in Canada to see any buds on trees before the first thaw. There had not even been a warm spell yet.  My friend said that the Lord told her, “New beginning.”  My very first thought was, “Oh no, He is taking her home.”  But when I saw her smiling face, I could not bear to say discouraging words, but I never meant to give her words of false hope either. 

You’re going to be healed!”  I blurted out. She grinned and gave me a high five.  Yet deep within, I could not help the nagging thought that the ‘new beginning’ was with Jesus, but I kept it to myself.  Some pictures were taken (see below), but it was already dusk (approaching 4:00 or 4:30 pm) and the flash on my camera was failing.  The picture quality is poor, but one can follow the arrows that point to the buds.
After that visit the pneumonia kept me away for about ten days.  The end of April (2017) was already approaching.  Another friend that I had recently met called me and asked if I would like to visit with the woman with cancer.  It was this dear sister and saint of God that had originally asked people to pray for the woman with cancer.  

They had met when my friend was visiting her own mother in hospice.  I said I would like to go since the pneumonia seemed healed and there was no danger of passing any bug along.  Only painkillers helped me to bear up under the significant discomfort and agony caused by the knee.

When we arrived at the hospice, I was not prepared for what I saw.  Our new friend was back in the same condition she was in when I first saw her.  Asleep under the influence of morphine, gray complexion and cold again to the touch, she appeared to be on death’s doorstep.  I was shocked.  

What happened to the humourous, bubbly Christian woman eating a huge piece of chocolate and cream cake?  What happened?  I was told that in the final stages of cancer, people can appear to be on the road to recovery, having several good days, only to slip right back into the sickly state they were in before. 

My heart sank.  Why had I given her false hope when she pointed out the new buds on the tree and stated, “new beginning”?  Had I not learned that if I was uncertain what the Lord meant that I should say nothing at all?  But no, when I saw her smiling face I wanted her joy to remain.  And I know the Lord has done miraculous healings involving people with cancer.  He could heal her.  

Little did I know though that my new friend wanted to go home to be with the Lord.  Her one desire was that she not die alone.  Her husband had passed away only the previous year.  It never dawned on me that she truly wanted to go to be with the Lord.  Fiery darts of condemnation were flying by again. Doubt came knocking loudly at my door, with unbelief tagging along… and Satan began sifting even more strongly.

Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.

I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against Him, until He plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold His righteousness.

Then she that is my enemy shall see it, and shame shall cover her which said unto me, Where is the LORD thy God? my eyes shall behold her: now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets. [Micah 7:7-10]

Part Two is forthcoming.  The end will surprise the reader, but it will also encourage and lift up your spirit.  The Lord is moving.  He has said, “Enough is enough!

Alright, now proceed to Part 2 here

for His glory


Bonita                 dovesofthevalleys4@gmail.com

1 comment:

  1. "God is the one who makes opportunities, and He makes the impossible possible." Oh, so true Bonita! I love this. It's never too late for God. Loving this post as it sounds like you have had a major victory! God Bless you my precious friend.

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