Titus 2 Thoughts #3 and Surgery Update

I have been home since Monday evening. I cannot remember a time when I was more exhausted than I was on Monday night. My meager post-surgery strength did not match the demands my body required of me. That night I deeply second-guessed coming home instead of going into rehab. I could barely move, much less properly engage the specific mechanics required of me to consistently keep the weight off my right leg.

My week was filled with focus, practice, adjustment, and caution. I had little to no pain in hospital, but as my previous painkillers worked their way out of my system and I reduced the amount of new painkiller I was taking, my pain increased slightly. Was this a bad sign? Was I doing something wrong? Should I cut back on physio? Increase it? More meds? Less? Not sure.

The surgeon wanted to see me two weeks after my surgery. After returning home I called to make the appointment. I discover that the ortho clinic will be closed two weeks after my surgery, and closed for the entire week. My follow up is now 3.5 weeks after surgery. Will this be ok? Will my dressing last? What about my staples?

As the meds work their way out of my system, I struggle with fatigue, ennui, enervation, and depression. I hesitated to write about this, but it is my reality. When we share what is going on in our lives with the body of Christ, we do not share only the blessings, but also the struggles. The love and prayers of God’s people are a great encouragement in times of struggle.

Slowly I am seeing improvement. I am better able to hop using my walker and keep most of the weight off my injured leg. I discovered I tend to hold my breath when I am concentrating. I need to talk myself through the steps. Remember to hold in my abs, breathe, hold my arms straight, and move forward, keeping my foot barely on the ground for balance. And again. And again.

How did my appliance fail? How did I go so long without knowing it? Did the doctor do something wrong? Was it something I did wrong? Am I doing something wrong now? Is it even possible to find the truth about this?

Why hadn’t my hip itself hurt? The last month before the x-rays I felt crooked and was unable to stand straight. I felt the tightness in the muscles of my back and in the thigh of my right leg, but when I poked the hip area, nothing hurt. I thought it was my fibromyalgia. I now realize that not every muscle pain is fibromyalgia.

I become aware of many others who are struggling physically, emotionally, spiritually, and I pray for them. Sin has touched and cursed us all. We all need Christ and His truth and His salvation. We need to speak truth to each other in times of sorrow and in times of joy. We are family. We rejoice and we weep with each other.

Today as I heal and continue to work to strengthen, I am enjoying some special blessings. My family has arrived from China and I get to hold and talk with my grandchildren, listen to their dreams, join in their imaginings. This morning my grandchildren picked the first of my garden peas to share with me. Well-formed, sweet and delicious, they are consumed with gratitude and satisfaction.

I am abundantly blessed through this ordeal to have my daughters living nearby ready to sacrifice to help in any way possible. God has also blessed me with many children of the heart who visit and write and stop by to help. They bring their little ones, my ‘adopted’ grandchildren, to visit Purple Grandma and hand me sweaty fistfuls of flowers or grasses or other treasures selected just to cheer me.

Truth is, just like many others who suffer unexpectedly, I may never know why this happened. God chose it for me for His glory and my good. I do not understand what that looks like right now or how it helps me and the body of Christ overall. I struggle to rejoice in infirmity. I struggle against self-focus and negative thinking. I struggle to rejoice in the Lord always, but by God’s grace, I am not content to be disobedient.

The prayers and love of God’s people are very precious to me. Thank you to each of you who have prayed for me and continues to pray with me. I pray God will bless you for your love and concern.

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Heartaches – “God Can Create Peace in Trouble”

No advantage in life can shield us from heartaches7-15-10 (70)

Heartaches. They afflict us in every area of life: marriage, pregnancy, child rearing, family relationships, health, jobs, finances, our dealings with other Christians, our interaction with the unsaved. No one is exempt from them: the young or the old, the weak or the strong, male or female, educated or unschooled, handicapped or healthy, PhD or illiterate, debutante or derelict, virtuoso or unskilled. No advantage in life can shield us from heartaches.

There is help in God’s Word

Who among us has not felt stabs of anguish or the pangs of sorrow over certain, maybe even many, unexpected or uncontrollable events in our lives? We women are emotional creatures. God has made us that way and formed us to accomplish His unique will in our lives with full knowledge of that emotional nature. He does not give us this nature, then allow events to stir up and touch that nature, without also providing us a remedy from these troubles that so weigh us down. There is help, solace, and comfort in the Word of God.

Hannah and her heartaches

In 1 Samuel 1 we get a glimpse of Hannah and her heartaches. Hannah was one of two wives of Elkanah and grieved over her childlessness. Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, bore sons and daughters for him, but his love was directed toward Hannah. Can you imagine the tension in that home where it was known that the husband loved one wife more than the other? Day after day Hannah was taunted and mocked for her barrenness so that she was in anguish of soul.

Overwhelmed by anguish

Truly Hannah lived under great stress. As she focused on her troubles, she was dismayed and despondent. To make matters worse, Elkanah did not seem to understand the depth of her anguish. We too, find ourselves in situations where we are overwhelmed by circumstances we cannot change. Often those we turn to for comfort do not seem to understand our distress.

Hannah changed her focus

Somewhere in her grief Hannah changed her focus. She was able in the full emotion of her heart to lay her burden before the Lord in prayer. Perhaps she realized that there is no human comfort to help in the midst of certain griefs. Maybe she understood that no earthly intervention would alter her circumstances.

Pouring out our hearts before God

We do know that she poured out her heart before the Lord, laying her heart bare in all of its distress and sorrow. “And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore.” (v. 10) When Eli observed her lips moving without sound and rebuked her for being drunk, she reiterated that she was bringing her distress before the Lord. “I am a woman of sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.” (v.15) “for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.” (v. 16)

In the Lord there is relief

In earnestly entreating the Lord, Hannah had come to the point where she understood that with the Lord there is real relief from the deepest of troubles. We need to honestly and without reserve, entreat the Great Physician to provide remedy for our every heartache.

Peace and joy

Hannah came away from her time of prayer with peace and joy in her heart. “So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.” (v.18) God spoke through Eli to assure her that her prayer would be answered.

Casting all your care on God

God gives us assurance through the Holy Spirit that He will hold our burden for us. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (I Peter 5:7) Where better to leave our heartache than with the “One that inhabiteth eternity”? (Isaiah 57:15) God knows all things. He is able to sort out even the most impossible mess in our lives, change the most stubborn of hearts, soothe the distresses that cause us to turn our focus from Him to ourselves.

Fix your focus on God

In coming to a place of peace in the midst of her circumstances, Hannah gives us one of the most wonderful poems of praise recorded in the Old Testament. “My heart rejoiceth in the Lord…, I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.” (I Samuel 2:1-2) Hannah’s focus has become fixed on the Lord and His mighty attributes. No longer is her focus on her self or her circumstances, but on the Lord and His greatness. Her focus now rests on the One who can change any circumstance, relieve any heartache.

“The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.”

Unbeckoned heartaches will descend on us at many points in life. Our natural man responds by focusing on the trouble causing the heartache. Thomas Watson, seventeenth century preacher, aptly observed, “If God be our God, He will give peace in trouble. When there is a storm without, He will make peace within. The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.” Only when we remove our focus from ourselves and our circumstances, as Hannah learned to do, will we be able to overcome the heartaches that are an inevitable part of the life of every Christian woman.

Genuine or Fake

Genuineness is a blessing

One of the things I have deeply appreciated about our ministry at Lighthouse Baptist is the genuineness of the believers in their ??????????????????????????Christian walk.  It’s not uncommon to ask a brother or sister in Christ how they are doing and have them answer along these lines:  “I’m struggling with _________.  Please pray with me that I will glorify God and trust Him to help me come to a biblical response.”

Genuine Fakes

Bud and I were amused on our biblical studies tour to find a merchant at Ephesus who advertised ‘Genuine Fake Watches’ and the wanna be in Israel whose green coffee shop sign read ‘Stars and Bucks.’ At first glance it looked authentic, but not so!

Sometimes we can be become genuine fakes.  We are burdened, or beset by temptation, or bound up by unbiblical thinking.  Instead of pouring our hearts out to God and carefully sharing our burdens with our Christian family, we fake it.  Like mindless bobble heads with pasted on fake smiles we nod robotically and tell people we are fine when what we desperately need is for God to help or change us.

Bethlehem commerce You can fool others…

While perusing a bookstore in Rome we noticed a Gypsy woman entreating the customers for ‘donations’ as she pointed toward the entrance. Outside a Gypsy man sat on the ground, his legs twisted and deformed looking, crutches propped behind him, while he called out in a plaintive sing-song voice for passers-by to pity him and drop some money in his upturned hat. Imagine my total shock and surprise when at 5:00 the clock chimed and the woman walked out of the store and joined the man who jumped up, grabbed his crutches and strode away!  Fakes indeed!

But you can’t fool God

God hates it when we put on an act.  The Pharisees were known for their great pomp and attention-getting devices in their outward worship.  Christ condemned them multiple times for this and held up as an example those who acknowledged their weaknesses and humbly entreated God for help.

God is teaching me to be more open and genuine.  He puts us together in the local body of Christ for corporate worship and mutual edification.  I’m praying for God’s grace and help to both share my burdens and bear others’ burdens genuinely.

Choosing Delight – My Walk with God

This session was recently prepared for the pastors’ wives at the National Church Planters’ Conference in Mentor Ohio, sponsored by ARCH Ministries.  These sessions were adapted from my ladies’ Sunday School series on Biblical Womanhood created for Meadowlands Baptist Church of Edmonton.

Choosing Delight

Spending time each day with God in personal study, prayer, and worship is called by many names including:  a walk with God, having devotions, meeting with the Lord, spending time with God, or having a quiet time.

When we spend time privately communing with God do we delight in that time together?  Why, do you ask, are you addressing pastor’s wives on this topic?  Aren’t they among the spiritual giants of the church who don’t need to hear this?  I may be ‘preaching to the choir’ but in my years in ministry this spiritual practice has at times been a struggle for me and other missionary and pastor’s wives due to our busy schedules and the burdens of the ministry.  It’s profitable for us to be reminded not only of our need to walk with God, but to also delight in it.

My devotional time is a specific time set aside each day to meet with God for the purpose of communicating with our Lord – to listen to what He has to say to us through the Bible, and to talk with Him in prayer.  The goal of a daily devotional time is to worship God and to grow in the Lord – to adjust our thinking and behavior- as we read how He expects us to conduct ourselves as believers in this world. Too many times we can find ourselves, as my former pastor’s wife used to say,  “dragging our eyeballs across the page” when reading God’s word, and not deriving any benefit from it.

So how can we delight in our walk with God?  First, we need to define what the word “delight” means.   The definition of delight is: to give great pleasure or, a high degree of gratification[1]; to take great pleasure or joy[2].  The scriptures speak of God delighting in His children and of believers delighting in God.  Do we take great pleasure in spending time with God?

God Delights in Us and We Delight in Him

God delights in the obedience of His children.  Who can forget the scathing words of Samuel the prophet to Saul as the disobedient king tries to justify his actions?  “Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22.)  We are told several times in the Proverbs that God delights in the prayers and right behavior of His children. (Proverbs 11:20; Proverbs 12:22; Proverbs 15:8.)

God delights simply in those who are His children.  Don’t we as parents delight in our children?  Our God delights even more in us. (2 Samuel 22:20 & Psalm 18:19 and Psalm 16:3.)

Not only does God delight in His children, but His children delight in the person of God (Job 22:26; Isaiah 58:14; Psalm 37:4,) His attributes (Nehemiah 9:25: Psalm 94:19,) and His presence (Isaiah 58:2.)

There are many verses which speak of the believer’s delight in God’s Word.   His law Psalm 1:2; Psalm 119:70, 77, 92, 174; Romans 7:22,) His commandments (Psalm 112:1; Psalm 119:35, 47, 143,) His way (Psalm 37:23,) His will (Psalm 40:8,) His statutes (Psalm 119:16,) and His testimonies (Psalm 119:24) are aspects of God which we should delight in.

All believers should have a daily walk with God.  This is a personal, daily, intimate communication with my God where we listen to what God says to us through the Word and speak to Him in prayer. How much more important this should be for those in spiritual leadership.

Meditating on God’s Word

When we listen to the voice of God through reading and studying His Word, the Bible, we need to meditate or think carefully about the words we read.  To help us understand what we are reading it helps to ask the following questions:  What does the passage say?  What is the setting and why are these things happening? What lessons are taught here? How does this principle or lesson apply to me?

The Bible tells us that this process of meditation has results.  Your meditations indicate what kind of person you are (Proverbs 23:7 – As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.)  We are instructed to place our thinking under the control of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5 – Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.)  In addition, believers are reminded to continually meditate on God’s word (Psalm 1:1-2 – meditate day and night; Joshua 1:8 – meditate therein day and night.)

When memorizing a verse or portion of a verse, it helps to think on it throughout the day.  We first read the verse, then repeat the verse, then practice saying or writing the verse, then quote the verse from memory.

Prayer Is Talking with God

Not only does God speak to us and reveal His will for believers through His Word, we have the opportunity to speak with Him and communicate with our creator and Savior.  Prayer is talking with God.  God did not appreciate the stilted self-righteous prayers of the Pharisees, nor does He rejoice in the impersonal rote prayers of His children today.

Prayer is not just talking for the sake of talking. When we pray we are talking with the One who created us and intimately knows us.  He understands our innermost thoughts, desires, and struggles.  We need to lay out our heartfelt burdens before Him, as He deeply cares for us and delights to help us.

Praise and Adoration Brings God Delight

Our prayers should first be full of praise for God and His attributes.  Too often we minimize this step because our hearts are burdened or we are in a hurry.  We should thank Him for His care and His answers to prayer.  We must also search our hearts and confess any sin we discover or know of to Him.  Not only are we to take our own burdens to the Lord in prayer, we are to remember the burdens of others before God’s throne.

Part of our devotional time should be dedicated to worshipping God through praise and adoration.   It is encouraging to sing, read or quote hymns as part of your devotions.  Why not take a few minutes and rehearse some of His many attributes and praise Him for them?  He is Holy, Just, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Infinite, Immutable, Eternal, Loving, Merciful, Good, Sovereign, and many more things for which He should receive glory.

Each life is launched down the stream of life.  Our walk with the Lord provides delightful fresh, flowing water to help propel us down that stream.  The stream bed is full of boulders, logs, garbage, and sandbars.  When we do not walk with the Lord consistently the water level drops so that the obstacles stick up and strike our boat as we pass by, causing us trouble.  When we walk with God as we should – when we spend time knowing Him, and praising Him, and speaking to Him in prayer, and growing more like Him – our stream is full and flowing.  The obstacles are still there, but our walk with God lifts us over them and bears us through them so they do not hurt and damage us the same way.

By God’s grace let us take time each day to walk with our God and delight in Him.

Bibliography

Collier, Mardi. What Do I Know About My God? Greenville, SC:  JourneyForth, 2006.

Collins, Nell. To Glorify God.  Indianapolis:  Colonial Hills Baptist Church, 1999.

DeMoss, Nancy Leigh.  A Place of Quiet Rest Journal.  Chicago:  Moody Publishers, 2005.

DeMoss, Nancy Leigh.  A Place of Quiet Rest.  Chicago:  Moody Publishers, 2000.

DeMoss, Nancy Leigh. Seeking Him:  Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival. Chicago:  Moody Publishers, 2004.

Pope, Janet. His Word in My Heart. Chicago:  Moody Publishers, 2002.

Ryle, J. C. “How Readest Thou?” Moscow, Idaho:  Charles Nolan Publishers, nd.