For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities;
– Hebrews 4:15 KJV
We often joke in my household that I would never make a good politician because I tell everything about and on myself so there would never be any dirt to dig up…unless you looked under the carpet. I believe the wearing of my heart on my sleeve comes from having a testimony of a loving God that has been too good to me to keep it to myself. I pretty much live an open book. Or so I thought.
My ministry is the often sharing of being joyful in troubled times, trusting God no matter what and believing how He would restore all. Nice, tidy, wonderful sounding inspiration…missing one major detail. Maybe it was pride. Maybe it was fear. Maybe I could not stand to have to utter words aloud that would cause me to think and deal with it or myself.
But recently I was faced with three persons that “outed” me. One was struggling to hold on in faith when modern medicine said “no way.” Another because of past mistakes was wondering how God could ever love her. Finally, the third who had lost the roof over her head due to medical and legal difficulties. Each supposing lack in their faith because they were scared, they were hurt, and they were ashamed of the way they felt.
Normally, I would have an easy answer for their queries of “I don’t understand how you do it?” But God challenged me to pull the last bit from under the rug. It didn’t sound like such a testimony to me, but from each of the “three” I received either a “why didn’t you tell me” or “gee, you hid that well.” Finally I was convicted by “I really needed to hear that….I am normal”.
My secret you ask? It was simply the answer “ME TOO”.
Most of you already know that it has been close to 5 years now since my son simultaneously went deaf and into final stage renal failure. I have not been slack to share most of the experience… highs and lows. What I failed to share… and even now I hesitate to say it…..the day I got mad with God.
You see, after years of countless surgeries, repeated illness and thrice weekly dialysis treatments, a suitable donor match had been found. We immediately went into preparation mode to get the house ready for infection control, not spending a spare dime since I would be out of work for weeks, and tip toeing around family and friends because we wanted to keep the surprise quiet until after the procedure. We cancelled all travel, all vacations and even my participation in what could have been a career changing convention concert.
And then “it” happened! I was in devotions one morning and I clearly heard God say to me “Forget the Back-up Plan…” I didn’t have a clue what that meant at the time, but I knew it meant to trust Him. In my mind’s eyes I immediately applied that thought to my finances, my job and so on and so on. Everything except what would come next.
Just a few days before we were supposed to check into the hospital, I get a cold emotionless call from a third party nurse. She gave no explanation. She would not answer any of my questions. She offered no empathy or sympathy. She simply said a very technical version of “No Go. “
I don’t remember any reports of earthquakes that day. But I felt it. I didn’t know how I was going to tell my son, who was so excited about finally being free from the pain and isolation of dialysis. I was furious. Was God playing with me like a cat with a string? Imagine if you will, me going off by myself because I didn’t want any people to know though I knew in my spiritual mind God had a plan…..my heart and my head was all jacked up. I wanted to know what I had done wrong. I wanted to know what I needed to do better
As if God had not seen me, I reminded Him of all the nights I stood by my son’s bedroom door praying and listening for his breath making sure it was still there. I reminded Him, how we believed through all the extreme body pain when the high dose narcotics wouldn’t do. I reminded Him, how we stayed faithful even when were too tired to function. I even bargain that even if my prayers were no good, then surely somebody amongst all the folks that prayed for our family there had to be one….even just one… whose faith was greater.
My screams were met with simply “Forget the Back-up Plan.”
It became clear that God was telling me to trust Him even when I could not trace Him. We found out later than the donor had a sudden condition that disqualified him. If we had received that kidney, it would have failed us quickly. We would have been in a bigger mess than what we started with. Just like His Word says in Jeremiah 29, He has a plan that has a good and certain end. For our Good and not to harm us.
As I told my three friends, it didn’t happen overnight. Months have passed now and I still jump a little when the phone rings at night. I will be honest and let you know that this piece took days to write because tears started to flow amidst a whole lot of “God I am sorry. “
I reveal all these things to simply let you know that whatever you are going through, You ARE normal. Being faithful and believing is not always easy, but so very worth it. Yes, Philippians 4:4 tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord Always, “ and then goes on to say “Again I say rejoice. “ I surmise that if we have to be told and then reminded to rejoice then apparently it “aint” always easy.
Believe it or not, He knows you hurt. He is not a God so far out that He is not touched with our personal pains (Hebrews 4:15). He is okay with you being honest about it. He will not strike you down for asking questions.
Just remember that it is faith that moves mountains… not tears. Cry but keep pushing!!!!
“This is what He wanted to do and it gave Him great pleasure.”
(Ephesians 1:5b NLT)
Every day people are in search of someone to love. Someone to care for and be cared for by. They have an image in their heads of size, hair color, personality, affection and security. Most often, though, that plan is reduced to a simple statement of “I will know it when I see it.”
It is this search for not just a companion, but someone to take great care for, that sends many right past the specialty shops in the mall. Right past the big box gatherings. Right past the matches of pure perfection and straight to the misfit mutt at the local pound.
Yes, I am talking about a puppy. Or am I?
Amongst the human race, especially in these turbulent times, are many of us who feel very much like that “misfit mutt.” Discarded, dumped off, found in the streets. Caged in less than perfect circumstances and looked over because you might not be as gifted or trained as another. You might be that one with the good heart, but prone to stain filled mistakes. You might be the one full of painful worms of abuse, hoping someone will notice and help. Mangy, angry or docile. Overused and unable to produce. Though you have learned to beg and do stupid human tricks, your “best in show” blue ribbon escapes you.
Until the One “who knows you ….when He sees you” comes!
In Ephesians Chapter 1, Big Brother Paul encourages us that God already had an image of you in His mind. No matter what you may have done to make yourself unrecognizable, “God decided in advance to adopt (you) into His own family by bringing (you) to himself…This is what He wanted to do and it gave Him great pleasure.” (V5NLT)
That alone should make your tail wag! Your “pound rescue” includes so much! God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, adopts you as His own and gives us every good spiritual blessing as He unites us with Christ. Some of your “tags” in Christ are outlined in Paul’s letter:
V4: Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes
V6 “….glorious grace He has poured out on us”
V7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
V 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
V11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,[c] for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
V13 “……Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own“
V 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him
Take a quick moment if you will. Reread the parts I have underlined on your adoption certificate. Now take a praise break knowing that the Creator of the Universe, The Savior of the World, the King of Glory, promises all of this just to bring you “Home” with Him.
It gives Him great pleasure to be with you.
All He is asking in exchange is that you receive His love for you. No matter how imperfect or less than worthy you feel right now ……come on out the cage!
No matter how far back in the pound you feel, Christ took your place at the Cross. You don’t need to worry about life “putting you to “sleep.”
Don’t worry, He will never keep you tied up or on a leash, He wants you to experience the freedom of a daily walk with Him. He will provide. He will care for you. He will be your security.
Best of all, you can stop chasing your tail now. God has a plan for you! He chose you….. in advance!
“ But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” – Luke 2:19
In the past few weeks, I have heard so many complaints of not having money for “this” or not having funds for “that” when it comes to Christmas. Some to the point of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” for things they just can’t afford that will only bring them a momentary joy. Many are allowing themselves to drown in debt to prove that they are loved and that they do love. So much Christmas spirit lost to being “Christmas broke!”
Others still moan that the recent elections and darkness in the world around us just ruined the season for them. Politics, prejudice and pain instead of tidings of comfort and joy.
Listening to all of groaning (and a time or two participating myself), I now think of Mary on her first Christmas. If anyone had a reason to complain, it would be her. Though the Bible does not say so, so don’t shoot me, I imagine that Mary’s First Noel is a bit different than the meek and mild story we relate on Christmas Eve.
On what should have been her honeymoon season, she was married to a good man who, nevertheless, was most likely caring for her out of obedience to God and probably not such much out of love for his betrothed wife or her unborn child. She had been forced to exit home and leave family behind because an egotistical dictator wanted to count everybody. She had spent days upon days riding a donkey, which would not have been great on any regular day, but a nightmare at nine months pregnant. And adding injury to insult, due to a lack of accommodations, would soon find herself in labor next to the very beast of burden she had just used for transportation.
Yet, I don’t remember a gripe story in Luke 2:1-20.
But it does mention in verse 19 “she kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
No doubt she was amazed from the time the Angel told her that she was chosen to be the blessed mother. No doubt she was amazed when Elizabeth’s unborn child leaped in excitement at the coming of his cousin. No doubt she was amazed that Joseph chose to stick by her when he could have had her stoned. For now she was surrounded by a heavenly host pronouncing “Glory to God in the Highest” and a short time later a royal delegation would come to bestow great gifts.
But surely in her pondering, she must have thought of where they would go the next night. I wonder what her thoughts were when they ran to Egypt to escape Herod as he slaughtered innocent babies in a search to destroy the one she was cradling. Time and time again as he would be sought after, persecuted and ultimately crucified, what were her thoughts…… what might have been her complaints? Did Mary always know and consider the tests and trials of mothering the Savior of the World? How did she feel loving the one child she had that was destined to die.
I would like to think that she always knew that God would provide for her needs and for the ways of escape. I would like to think that she always trusted in God’s plan. Even in his last breaths Jesus made sure somebody was available to take care of his mother. (John 19:26-27). But I am sure, even as she sang sweet lullabies to the Son of God dressed as the Son of Man, she had her days. She was 100 percent human entrusted with the care of the 100 percent King of Glory.
Provision on the run could not have been easy. Watching Him give His all for a dark and devious world, could not have been easy. Certainly watching Him die for people who would someday complain about Christmas would be no holiday!!!!
So I admonish you (as I do myself) that if the season we call Christmas is “getting to you,” then I can almost guarantee you that your focus and pondering is in the wrong place. It isn’t in a line at a black Friday sale. It isn’t at a tree lighting ceremony. It isn’t at the annual pageant at your church this Sunday.
The true joy of Christmas is not even at the manger. It comes thirty-three years later at an empty tomb where the ultimate gift is given. He gave you salvation and peace and even a promise to be there during the lonely points when we miss those who have gone on before us. No gift you can or cannot give could ever top that. Stop trying and stop stressing.
But gift HIM your best gift. A surrendered heart that is willing to ponder Him.
See, your Christmas just got merrier!!!!
Twas the night before Christmas
And I had just closed my country store.
Turned the locks, shaded the windows
When there was a frantic knock on the door.
The sales were quite over. Merchandise was quite done.
I had had quite enough of Christmas.
Nothing left to sell ya, not a toy. Not a one.
I was quite tempted,
To shout “No Room At The Inn”
But remembered my Sunday School Teacher
She’d say “ Naughty, Naughty Sin”
It was a Papa, a Mama, and a few little ones
How could I pass?
Seeing chubby cheek chilled faces
Pressed against that last pane of glass.
The snow and wind came in behind them,
A huge chill filled the air
Yet there was a warm glow all about them
Oh so happy I was there.
“Patch of Ice You Say, Car in a ditch, Everything Tossed”
“Big Boom” the children said excitedly
Mama chimed “cold and lost”
On the phone was Papa
“ We can’t wait, no place to stay.”
“Sorry Buddy” the tow driver retorted
“Don’t you know it’s a Holiday”
Everything then in me
Wanted to hide under my bed and weep.
For surely in house full of strangers
This old shop keeper would get no sleep.
So I rekindled the fire,
Boiled milk for a cup of cocoa or two
Exclaimed not much food left in here
But all I have is open to you.
The Kids Got All Excited,
and Raced to the Tree
At the prospect of candy canes still hanging
And suddenly free.
Mama was ingenious,
what she did with that spam.
Totally convinced me and the Papa
Of the miracle of canned ham.
As I pulled blankets, and soft pallets
And strew them about the floor
I realized though I had made a killing this Christmas,
It was they that truly had more.
They played games, they told stories
They laughed about with glee.
They had a joy about them
That had long ago escaped me.
My head and heart couldn’t take it
I yelled for them to stop
How could they be so crazy happy
When their holiday was such a flop?
No real food, amiss from presents,
and sleeping on the floor.
Stuck in ditch and with a grumpy stranger
In an empty Christmas store.
When just then ,
a little hand tugged
at the hem of my dress
Said “ Hey Lady ,
in Jesus there are no strangers
and this aint such a mess.
See we headed to grandpa’s fancy house
Up on a really big hill
Though we were scared when the car went boom
Daddy said , “let’s find God’s good will.”
We came through the cold and snow
When God led us to your door.
And now you have shared all that you had
So I just know God will bless you more.
As I looked into those little eyes
It was very plain to see.
It was not me helping them that was God’s good will
But it was them helping me.
It’s not about the trimmings, not the money
Or any kind of gift
The true celebration of Christmas
Is seeking His will for who you are with.
As I settled in a rocker that night
Humming my little messenger to sleep.
I wonder if this was how Mary felt
And I knew why she did weep.
Though His gift was wrapped so quietly
In a manager filled with hay
He was destined to be presented triumphantly
On a Hill far away.
So if your Christmas spirit has escaped you
Look around for who you are with.
Seek the will of Him who sent you.
That’s your greatest gift.
Already bought and paid for
Precious blood, highly priced.
He Reached out for a stranger
And Gifted this day in paradise.
Michelle Gillison-Robinson, Christmas 2016
Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20-27 NIV
Our topic for the day was “God is Not Picking On You…..Trials Vs. Temptations.” It started as a lesson on discerning the difference between trials and temptations and how to rejoice in the trials that God gives you. However, very quickly, it turned into a discussion of past hurts, disappointments, and especially abuses in childhood.
As I watched several people compare stories and physical scars, instinctively I glanced at a recent one on my arm. A footprint shaped burn I received thinking I could cook a meal for my family the day after my youngest grandchild took his flight for heaven.
Forgetting I was the one teaching the class, my eyes began to well up on me, but the Holy Spirit nudged me to look again and then asked, “Does it Still Hurt?”
I was like “Of course Lord, it still hurts”.
“No, Chelle. You really mean that 6 month old scar still hurts?”
“No, Lord, of course the scar doesn’t hurt.”
“Okay then, give me all of it.”
Uggh, I felt it in my spirit and I asked the class and I asked you, the same question the Holy Spirit asked me. “Does it still hurt?”
In John Chapter 20:25, Thomas makes a bold statement, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe. This was even after Jesus had appeared to several of his fellow disciples during the 8 days since the crucifixion proclaiming that everything Jesus has said would happen had come.
Jesus had forewarned that He would take the sins and sickness of His people to the cross. That He would take on the pains of abuse, disappointment and despair. That He would whip these things to naught and deliver them and death to the gates hell, while snatching the keys from satan so that nothing the devil had could really win over us. And as evidence of His work, he broke the grave wide open and showed that freedom from all manner of trial and temptation could walk the earth.
However, how many of us now need to take on the title of “doubting” that history has given Brother Thomas? How many of us have received the written, heard, and Rhema Word of God and been flooded with the freeing testimonies of how others have seen the Lord move in their lives, yet still keep looking down at our scars declaring disbelief until we receive a full manifestation with our own eyes.
Jesus is still reaching out to you saying, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”…
He wants you to know, that though yes there is a scar on your body and your heart that evokes a memory that will move you…….and yes, He understands because He was touched with every trial and temptation you face….., it is paramount that you understand that He bears scars on His hands, feet, and side that are witness that He took it all for you. He doesn’t want you to carry the burden any longer. He does not want you to smell like smoke though you have been singed by the fires of life.
When Jesus, invited Thomas to “Thrust his fingers into His side”, Jesus was still bearing the evidence of His wounds (aka your wounds), yet they could not have possibly hurt to the touch if he would allow Thomas to do so.
In essence, Jesus was reaffirming that it was possible to be bruised, beaten, broken and horribly scarred, yet be so healed in the promises of God that the discolorations and disfiguration become “smoothed out proof” that God’s Living Word is still living.
Jesus wants you to receive that gift from Him. He took it. He bears the scars. He gives you the freedom from what life delivered. Though you bear evidence of it, He does too. And since His wounds healed, so did yours. That moment when we trust in Him enough to give the pain to Him, even when we can still see and feel the scar, He will take that anomaly on your heart and make it a tattoo of your testimony instead. He will make you a walking, talking, scar bearing evidence that He is very much alive!!!!
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless the seed of wheat having fallen to the earth dies, it remains alone.
But if it dies, it bears much fruit. – John 12:24 (DLNT)
It is an awesome blessing that, in very recent weeks, my earthly father, most certainly under the direction of my Heavenly Father, had taken great care into making sure that I would be united with my slightly younger sister, Tammy. The two of them had only reconnected a few months prior and though I had heard her name in conversation before, she never really knew I existed.
As I would soon find, timing is everything. On January 5, ironically on my birthday, Tammy’s mother died. My dad was devastated at the thought of his baby girl being alone and though we could not make the services, we had made plans to make a 6 or so hour drive to see Tammy. Daddy felt she needed him and that she would need me.
I didn’t fully understand his urgency, until just 30 days later, on February 5, both Tammy and I would lose Daddy.
As I went through Daddy’s papers in preparation to celebrate his entrance into Heaven, I begin to find “bread crumbs on a trail” leading me where he wanted me to go. I found Tammy’s birth card from the hospital where she was born. I found her younger brother’s newborn pics. Over and over, I found evidence of the six children he loved, lost in circumstance and had hoped to renew full fellowship with.
Tammy and I have not met yet, nor have I had the opportunity to meet two of my other siblings… yet. The memorial service is in a few days and I pray they will all be able to make the winter travel. But she and I have had a ball getting to know each other via text, phone and social media. We realized that we are actually pretty alike including our bad habit of not being able to sleep past 4 a.m. and that we are both warrior sisters who like to get stuff done and done right. LOL.
During one of our conversations, John 12:24 came to my mind… “Unless a seed falls to the ground…. It remains alone”. God knows we miss our parents. My mom died on a February day as well… on a day ironically important to Tammy’s mom too. But it seems clear to me that they had somehow planted seeds that are multiplying in us.
Seeds of wiping each others tears. Seeds of laughter. Seeds of hope. Seeds of forgiveness. Seeds of renewal. Seeds of never really being alone again.
Tammy says that she had always wanted a sister. She just inherited more than a few. My sister Melody says that the girls involved should never call ourselves half-sisters because we are all too chubby to be halfs of anything. Lisa can’t wait to embrace all of us.. thinking she was the oldest… but tickled to find out she was not.
I began to count out all the children from all the parents involved and realized that Tammy has a lot more sisters and brothers that she will be able to handle. All ages, sizes, colors and shapes ….not letting blood separate us …. But embracing each other as what my youngest sister, Cheryl, calls “grown orphans.” LOL.
Even though there are only 5 months between Tammy and myself, I am pleased that she thinks of me as a big sister. It remains to be seen if she will relish her role as a soon to be spoiled Baby Sis. I think we were both feeling loved when I got the chance to nag her this morning about making sure she lets me know that she got to work okay … snowy weather both here in Virginia and in New Jersey where she is. She agreed to comply with the request of this “mother hen.”
The seed has definitely been planted, Daddy.