Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Just Praising Jesus (Some more)

"These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy might be full." John 15:11

I know that it has been a long time since I posted, and I appologize to whomever might be out there in cyber-land that cares enough to check my blog from time-to-time.

Today I have a couple of items on my heart that I wanted to share with all of you.

First, I received notification from the Social Security Administration that my application for disability has been APPROVED!!! YIPPEE! I have been doing a happy dance since the call came in on Friday, February 27th. (Well, these days it may look like a happy 'shake,' but you get the picture.) This determination was super speedy, as most people don't hear anything for anywhere from 6-months to a year after initial application. I applied on December 20th, 2008. So, from application to approval was just over 2-months and we had all of the holidays in that time-frame too.

Folks, I know that the Lord's fingerprints are all over that one!! And, I will continue to praise Him, no matter what the future holds.

Second, I wanted to speak with you about some of the struggles of life. Today I woke up with a terrible cough and cold. Not only did I wake up with the 'crud,' but so did my husband and son. That in and of itself would have been bad enough, but any type of illness, such as a cold, coupled with my PD really wipes me out.

Although the struggle that I have faced today is mild when compared to what many others are going through, I began to think about how we often cope with the difficulties of life. How do we cope when life seems to be out of control?

I have a very dear friend who is currently dealing with a broken relationship. The struggle to hold on to faith and to reach out to God for comfort are very real. During times of crisis such as this one would not usually find joy.

I also have several friends who are dealing with cronic and debilitating disease. I know of others who have experienced the loss of a loved one lately.

It is during these very real and very difficult life experiences that we have the ability to make a huge impact for the Lord. People are watching all of us who claim Christ as savior even more closely during times of stress in our lives. What a powerful witness we can be during those times!

Is this an easy thing to do? Not at all! However, Paul tells us, "We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28 NASB)

I was listening to a Christian radio broadcast the other day and caught the tail end of a conversation between the radio host and a couple who had lost two of their four daughters at one time. From what I could gather they were shot and killed. The one thing that really hit me from the interview was at the end the radio broadcaster stated that this mom and dad had been able to meet the parents of the boy who killed their girls. The broadcaster asked the parents of the murdered girls how they felt about that meeting. Both parents were so gracious and they stated that the death of their girls was not the fault of the parents of the shooter. They said that as Christians we are all called to forgive as we have been forgiven. They said that blame and the what if's would not change the fact that their girls were gone, so they choose forgiveness.

Those parents really knew what it means to carry the banner of Christ high! Even in the midst of their very real pain and suffering they never once blamed God, nor did they loose the joy of their salvation.

Having heard that story, I had to ask myself, "How am I reacting to the stressors of life?"

This is what I discovered when I cut away all of the excuses and got through my 'pity party' and reached the bottom line: "When Christ forgives your sin and fills you with His spirit, you ought to know the joy of the Lord in your life." *1

Let's circle around to my opening scripture verse from John. It was Jesus who was talking and said, " These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full." These words were prayed by Jesus to His Father shortly before he was to die on the cross.

Now, if you are like me you are probably thinking, "Jesus is about to be crucified and He prays a prayer asking His Father for the disciples to have joy. What's up with that?

In his book, "Going the Second Mile," by Mel Blackaby, Mr. Blackaby explains things like this. "Knowing what had been entrusted to the disciples, His prayer is amazing. Notice that Jesus didn't pray, "Father make them to be great preachers. . . [nor did he pray] . . . give them insight to teach theology. . . Why was the Lord concerned about theri being full of joy? Because He knew their countenance would validate the message of abundant life in Christ. Their faces would testify that there's freedom from sin and hope in Christ." *2

As I look in the mirror today, does my countenance validate Jesus Christ and His life? Am I a testament to His power? Am I living our James 1:2, which says, "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials."

Okay, okay! I know how difficult this is! I know that the last thing one wants to do, when a loved one is taken too early by a senseless act of violence, is smile and shine for Jesus. Yet, the couple who lost two young daughters in just such a manner still managed to shine for Him! They maybe didn't have a smile on their face, but they made it clear that Jesus is in control of their lives and that they 'choose' to trust Him. They made it clear that their two daughters really belonged to God, and He had just entrusted their care to them until He was ready to call them home.

Huh? Oh, yeah, I said I was getting to the bottom line didn't I?

I am convinced that the Lord doesn't ask us to do things that come easy to us. However, He does ask us to do things that He, through His grace, has enabled us to do. It is God's grace that sustains us! Everything we enjoy about life in this world He created or allowed to be created. It is ALL HIS! This life is not about US! It is about us being created in His image (see Genesis 1:27), an image of radiance and light. Remember what happened to Moses when he spent time on the mountain with God? Talk about a joy reflector, Moses truly became one!

The sooner we begin to reallly believe and accept the fact, that apart from Jesus we are nothing, but with Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling us we are everything to God, the sooner we will be able to display His joy even during the most difficult time. When we fully grasp what it means to be a child of the King, our God most High, and we daily experience His love, it should not be difficult for us to be radiant for Him!

Off now to shine for Him. PD won't keep me down, nor will this cough and sore throat. What about you?

Disclaimer: I know that there are many people who are grieving and may have read this post and felt as if I slapped them in the face, rather than serving as an encouragement. If you fall into this category, please accept my apology. It is not my intention to hurt anyone, yet I ask that 6-months or a year from now you come back and read this post again. Read this again when you have been able to put some space and time in between you and the pain. I believe that if you know Christ, He will have restored you and carried you through the difficult time. Hopefully you will be able to praise Him for seeing you faithfully through, and your joy will be restored.