Satan Does Not Want Me to Suffer

DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?!  The power of God Almighty that raised Jesus Christ from the grave lives inside of me!  The power of Him who will fling Satan into eternal Hell is alive and well in my body!

Pain of cancer, hateful glares of the unaccepting popular majority, discomfort of living without, financial difficulty, hunger, any pain this human body has to throw at me ain’t got nothing on the book of suffering!  I have been crucified with Christ!  I find myself dead to my past life, of all that I know and hold dear.  Being willing to serve God above my human nature.  Dying to self and giving and giving when all I wish and long for is to retire into solitude.  All my sinful body longs for is relief and comfort.  OF COURSE IT HURTS TO FOLLOW JESUS!

And does Satan want me to suffer?  Hell yes!  It is his all ending goal, to drag me to Hell with him forever and ever.  Does he want me to face cancer fearless where others turn and question where my peace comes from?  Hell no!  Does he want to give me a testimony of overcoming pain and fear?  Hell no!  Does Satan want the suffering majority to find hope in my story of love and peace in Jesus Christ, to share how all this world will pass and fade but we are adored by the Father who calls us to be His princes and princesses?  Hell no!

Satan holds the longest bluff of all time!  His chains have long been broken and all we need do is call upon the one who sets us free!  When we know this, we call upon the name of Jesus  and the blood of the Lamb and Satan flees!  We fight with demons and we win!  We crush Satan with the power of the Almighty alive and well that dwells in our very hearts!  It is not pretty, it is war!

With great determination, Satan stood in glee and pride with the Son of God crucified upon the cross.  And with the completion of the death of the beating heart of Jesus, HE FORGAVE THE WORLD!  HE DEFEATED SATAN!  Satan has learned his lesson well that suffering can lead to victory.

While being stoned, Stephen, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God!  We have no fear even of death!  Just seconds later, Stephen stood before his Maker and proclaimed that he gave all for his Name!

With comfort, oh how I retreat!  And in health, the lesson is hard that IT IS ALL FOR NOTHING!  None of it, I want NONE of this world!  I want no one to look at me and declare the love of how I dress, please see no beauty in my humanity, I want no one impressed by my home or my abilities, and I don’t want to seek those accomplishments any longer.  One thing I want, only one I desire to be said of me:  She loved Jesus Christ with all her heart, her soul, her mind, and her strength.  I want to be loved and hated for this!  And I want the Prince of demons to be terrified to let me suffer because every moan and every breath of my pain will be to call upon the name that he loathes to hear!

 

She Praised God

“I can play it?”  Her eyes lit up with curious excitement. 

“Sure you can.  Let me get my bloodwork done and then we will go down there.”

She turned and gazed at the shiny black grand piano with great admiration. Then she looked up at all the floors it would reach through the open halls and the massive waiting rooms that would all hear her music. With a nervous second thought, she changed her mind, “No, I don’t want to.”

She had already ridden with her Daddy and I the good time of seven hours from home to our hotel. She had missed school this very day, which believe it or not, is a huge negative to her. She had woken up early to sit and wait during my neck ultra sound. She sat again and waited through, not one but two doctor appointments. She now sat waiting again for me to have bloodwork accomplished. After that, it was promised we were done for the day and we could hit the road again. Late night travels would ensure she could go on the field trip with her class the following day. She didn’t really want to make that linger. 

“I’ll let you change clothes into your new dress before we leave like you wanted to.” I offered up as a bribe. 

“Ok.”  She gave in, a bit happy to be persuaded, because she wanted to play that beautiful piano anyway. 

After being poked and prodded, the day of appointments were done. But there was one more thing we had to do at Duke.

Standing in the basement is a grand piano. It is surrounded by cancer patients and their families waiting on the Doctor. The ceiling opens up to four more floors of more cancer patients, families, and waiting rooms. 

She shyly sat down at the grand piano, much finer than her usual instrument and she laid her small nine year old fingers across the keys. 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen. 

The tunes of the Doxology rang throughout the hospital. It was melodic, soothing, and cheerful for its surroundings. It was even more impressive at the hands of a child. 

But, for her story, it was more. Heaven above raised their voices in song. The angels sang praises to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Time stands still in heaven and Madison’s entire life played out. 

The specialist told her parents that they probably could not get pregnant. They said that even if her Momma did get pregnant, she probably could not keep the baby. And then after no problems and a beautiful pregnancy, a little miracle is born. And then the doctors say that she has 50% chance of having cancer. But where there is no time and they did not have to wait three months to know that she tests negative for the gene. This little miracle girl grows up taking her Momma to doctor appointments at Duke. 

She did not think, as her fingers struck the keys, of the beauty of her little life joining with the angels in song, as she sat in the hospital where science said she would never be. 

Praise God from who all blessings flow!  My little girl was born to praise God. Amen. 

And how many times will she do something so very simple and not even know the impact it has on eternity?

My Panic is Healed

I turned the corner of the isle in Target, panic struck my face. Panic struck in an instant to the center of my core. 

“MAADISOOON!”  I yelled at the top of my lungs. 

From just the next row, in the other direction, a very young Madison stepped from the end of an isle. She had slipped away for the eternity of just a few seconds. 

I hugged her tight with real love and continued with our day. 

My daily life consists on spending time making my hair look the best, using my very best manners, correct posture, and choosing my words correctly. I care what people think about me. But there is a time that it all goes by the wayside. 

He had one thought on his mind. Sight. His life was a dark one, full of handicaps and inabilities. He was consumed with one idea, something that the crowd never gives a second thought. 

Bartimaeus cried at the top of his lungs, “Son of David!”

The streets were busy with religious people. It was the beginning of Passover and many were setting out on the holy journey and beginning their religious preparations. But they were even more blind than this man with no sight as they urged him to hush and be quiet. 

What is that thing?  The one you dream about?  It consumes your mind. You would not care to be made a fool if it meant that you could possess it?

As Bartimeus sought his miracle, he did not listen to the advice of the crowd. When he was summoned by Jesus, he did not stop to fix his appearance.  He did not have all the theological answers. He looked away from the religion of the synagogue and the Pharisees to the man, to a relationship with Jesus. 

And Jesus did summon him. He is not safe. Jesus is not the feminine, PC Sunday School story. He was on the road to torture and the most extreme suffering ever endured by a human. But he has a heart for the hurting. He is here for those that do no have it all together. 

While I am the first to know my shortcomings, I also know my strength:  “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Take Up Your Suffering and Follow Jesus

Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. 

Jesus sent him out with a strong warning, “See that you do not tell this to anyone.”

Why?!  Why not tell anyone?!  Hey!  Knowing from experience, if that was me, I’d tell the world!

Facebook update status:  JESUS HEALED ME!

Text message to the world:  are you sick?  Look what he did for me!

News report:  Let me share my story:  Sick. Healed. Jesus. 

WHY NOT TELL?

This is not the only verse where Jesus heals someone and then warns them to keep it a secret. It used to really get to me. And then I lived. I learned. I suffered. I matured. Sat under some good teaching. Had cancer and realized, “This life is so fleeting.”

HE IS BIGGER!  He is more than the here and now!  He heals more than this physical body!  Like a father, he looked on them and had compassion, he healed them but in their excitement they could not see that he was healing more than their bodies. 

To my live news broadcast, Jesus would respond, “I told you not to tell anyone because you don’t get it!  I did not come to heal bodies. I did not come to be king and ruler of this earth. I still had a lot to show you. I would suffer. I would die. Not what you were expecting?  Huh?  But watch. I’m going to do something even bigger than that!  I want to heal your soul. Not just the now, the eternity.”

Jesus is not the quick fix. “Take up your cross and follow me.”  And that is when the masses say, “oh never mind” and walk away. 

Then he performs a miracle, he tells the woman that had suffered for so many years, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”  

Do you think she never suffered again on this earth?  She did. She was a human living on this earth. It happens daily. But she got it. When Jesus healed her body, he healed her soul. That is what matters!  You know she saw every single day that her suffering  actually led her to Jesus!  If she had not suffered all those years, she would not have been determined to just touch the hem of his garment.

I want to suffer and let it lead me to Jesus, to the greatest healing of all!

I want to learn from my mistakes and change. I want to suffer and learn, get the big picture, not live for the now. I want to have eternal healing, not just of my body, but of my soul. I have decided to follow Jesus, I will take up my cross and follow him. 

The Time Has Come

The house is quiet. I awake before the rest. There are words I read:

The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News!

These are the words of Jesus. 

I take one more sip of coffee and stare out the window. There is a light mist that falls outside. 

There is a light mist that falls inside me. My coping mechanism has been to shut it out. Save it for another time. I am not ready. 

But here, I sit alone and I must face that it is there. That is all I will do. I will know that it is there. 

But I turn back to my Bible and read his words, “Good News.”  Jesus, who had lived eternity past in perfection, knew the brokenness of this world like no one else, looked at those he loved, in their suffering and their pain, and proclaimed, “There is Good News.”  He knew of something far better. 

And I will read his words and I will feel my hurt and I will believe. 

The Soul of My Body

The AC is blowing a little colder than I prefer to the preference of my family. The road curves, winding around the tall mountains.  I know these roads well. 

Madison did not take long to lay aside the iPad and ask, “Where’s my book?”  Even with the new apps, she isn’t much impressed by electronics. 

Our family photo books are splattered with pictures of our family exploring Duke Gardens and the college town restaurants. Madison handles these long drives and nights in “our hotel” like little family adventures. She doesn’t know life without them. 

But smack in the very center of the whole rondezvous is a very long visit that could turn into hours of waiting followed by a possible spontaneous scan, traveling on to bloodwork. It has happened that we plan another doctor appointment and then pre surgery scan, surgery, nights in the hospital, follow up, babysitter, missing school, makeup work, time off work, reconfiguring medication……

I just never know. And I stare out the window at the mountains passing by and I wonder what is ahead of me. Oh thank God that this world is temporary!

“To live is Christ and to die is gain.”  I used to think Paul’s words were morbid, but now I get it. They are more alive than ever. In fact, the more I love this life, the more I know, I know this is not life and I am just packing and getting ready for what really matters. This soul in my body is not made for this world. 

And the visit is fast. We are in and out of there and James and I take a deep sigh of relief and thank the Lord for a boring doctor visit and Madison doesn’t know there was the possibility of anything else. She is just smiling while I praise her manners and we start to anticipate the fun night on the town that awaits us. 

And I take Madison’s sweet little hand in one of mine and I hold the strength of my husband’s in the other and my heart knows the living meaning of a family that loves me. And I thank God for the answered prayers of a good checkup and for doing what it took for me to know that I have a body that is of this world but this soul will live forever. 

Awareness of the Road, Cancer Awareness Month

To walk the road alone.  The road is paved, others go before me, but a cold wind blows and I pull my thick sweater around my body.  I have a sweater.  I stare into the sky, my mind wandering.  I do not know where I travel and I question where I came from.  The season is early Fall and there are sprinkles of changes.  Oh yes, change will come.  It always has and always will.  The only thing to stay the same is change.

And I have things to do that will not be done and things I’ve done that I should not have bothered with.  It is these moments of great wondering and wonderment that I see it all so clearly.  For in my confusion of meaning, there are those that are all that matter.  They are the ones I love and want and those that will always be because they are part of what makes me me.

Was I what I was made to be?  I ask the one who did make me.  It all came and is going so very quickly down this road that I do not know where it leads, but it leads so ever quickly.  When I started, there was no thought but now it is all that consumes me.  The virtues that are of another world, to what lives on.  Now I see.  Did I love for love or did I serve just me?

They Find Me

It is Autumn, but the weather promises the winter cold. Gray skies drizzle endlessly. All consuming to my bones, the weather mirrors my heart. 

There are things. There are things in my past. They are hidden in the “everyone makes mistakes” and “you are a good person” comforts where I seek to be consoled. 

I have betrayed, lied, hated, and turned my back on need. Perhaps it is just my humanity, but sometimes the rain pours and the bitter wind can not be shut out by all the coats and blankets in the world. 

I know. I do know the freedom of forgiveness. I have lived the peace that can be found. But I know deeply, perhaps more deeply than others, the reason for a Savior. 

When I Suffer

When I am tired, I want to be exhausted because I have completed the work you have for me. 

When I laugh, fill me with joy to share.  Surround me with the Good News of your goodness. 

When I am rich, let it be in your mercies.  And when I am poor, may it be because I gave it all away. 

Speak the truth in me. When I open my mouth, let it be your words. 

And when I suffer, let it be because this world mocks me, let me count it joy that I am crucified with Christ and let it fill my heart with peace and assurance because I have stood strong when my body was weak and I shouted your grace when they told me to shut my mouth and when I suffer, may my suffering be worked together for good because I suffered loving Jesus!

When I die, let it be because your plan is done in me. And when I open my eyes in death let it be because I will forever have eternity by the side of my Jesus that I have longed for my entire life. 

The Culture of Negative Comments

Some of my greatest insights into her day come when I snuggle up beside her right before bedtime.  This is where she gained her nickname, “Chatty Maddie.”  Last night, as I cuddled up beside her, she taught me a great lesson, as goes much of parenting.

My eight year old daughter is training in a group of six girls (3rd and 4th graders) for a 5K race.  Madison begins to tell me about a new 4th grade friend she has in this group of girls and then she tells me something that stuck with me.  (I hope it will forever.)

“Mom, yesterday, we ran so much!  I was getting so tired and I said to my friend, ‘This is so hard.  I don’t think I can do it.’  And she said to me, ‘You can do this Madison!  You’ve got this!’  And know what?  It made me run faster when she said that.”

Drop the mic and walk away.  What more do we need to know?!  What a precious gem that my grown up culture needs to learn from that precious fourth grader!

Living in the year that I do, I get much of my news from the internet.  Call it positive or negative, one of our modern features is that the general public can comment on ANYTHING…and they do.  Aaaaaand I have pretty much stopped reading the comments.  Know why?  Because comment after comment, down to the one thousandth comment, they are mostly all negative.  And here is the thing, here is what gets me.  It is people that agree with the article (usually that is why they read it in the first place) but they feel the need to give negative feedback.  It usually goes something like this:

I agree with this but you should have also said this…

There was a mistake in your fourth paragraph.

I agree with what you wrote, but your outfit looks horrible in your profile pic.

If this insane impossibility happened, this would cause me to disagree with this whole thing.

“I could have written it better.”  And everything inside me screams, “THEN DO IT!  Stop talking and do it!”  We have become the culture of tearing each other apart!  When someone is tired, we just push them out of the way thinking it will make us look all the better when someone else fails.  Our culture is tearing itself apart from the inside out.

I adore the quote from Ben Carson that, “When the jihadists get here, they’re not going to ask you if you’re a Republican or Democrat before they cut your head off.”

Are we so worried with proving ourselves right that we tear each other down, weakening our world for the true enemy to invade?!  AND THEY WILL!  We need to learn to get along sooner than later before it is too late!

Speaking to myself first, I want to be more like my daughter’s fourth grade friend that sees people that are tired, that sees people that are about to drop out of the race and I want to encourage them, “YOU’VE GOT THIS!  COME ON, YOU CAN DO IT!”  I want to be someone that builds people up, rather than tearing them down!  I want to be part of the solution, rather than adding to the problem.

Let’s all remember the lessons of our childhood.  Stop tattling!  When is the time to speak up? When someone else is getting hurt.  Are babies being murdered?  This is the time to yell at the top of our lungs and do everything we can to stop it.  “Disagree comment” away!  And then there is a time to say:  Is this just a mistake the person made?  Keep my mouth shut.  Is this something that I should address with only the person and not all of public?  Go to them privately.

Or is this a time that I need to help this person?  Do I need to run alongside of them and encourage them, YOU’VE GOT THIS!  YOU CAN DO IT!