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!

 

The Goodness of Pain

Oh no!  There was no way around the large puddles now. I splashed right through them. My pants were already soaked through so that I could feel the coldness upon my legs. The sudden downpour caught me unexpected and soaked me through and through. Pain I did not like but with or without a good attitude, I tolerated it. 

The sound of the small drip, the sight of steam rising up from the coffee pot, the smell.  My brain was already enjoying the promise of a hot cup of coffee. After a hot shower and putting on comfy pajamas, nothing was a better ending to this cold day than holding a hot cup of coffee between my fingers. I slowly lifted the the large mug to my lips and, to my delight, the soft touch of my lips told me the contents of the cup was much too hot. Pain I enjoyed. 

I knew the seriousness of the moment as she slowly and solemnly entered my room. I put down the shirt I was ironing and simply looked into her eyes, telling her she had my attention. As tears rolled down her face, we collapsed into a chair and I held my arms around her. She recounted the guilt over a wrong and poured out her broken heart. There was no further need for discipline, her heart had learned the lesson well. Pain she learned from. 

There were even times that I intentionally brought pain on my own daughter that I love so much!  Lack of treats when she was craving them, remaining loyal to a sports team when she wanted to quit, shots at the doctor when she did not understand, stitches at the hospital, the natural consequences of forgetting to do her homework. I used pain for her own wellbeing. 

I didn’t know them all that well. But I hear that they’ve lost their two year old daughter in a drowning accident. I can not begin to explain this. I do not understand. But I take comfort in knowing the God who knows us through and through promises me that one day all the wrong will be undone. One day I will look upon his face and I will have no more questions. One day it will be all the better because in this oh so short life I have suffered real pain and real hurt. 

Simply put, the existence of pain is by no means an explanation that there is no God.  How could I ever question God, mere man that I am?  He gives and he takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!  And he simply looks into my eyes, showing me that I have his attention. We collapse into a comfortable chair, he wraps his arms around me and tears roll down my face. I tell him of my wrongs and my lessons learned. Blessed are those that suffer and they suffer for righteousness!

Spiritual Flesh and Blood 3

The funeral of my mother at the age of five altered my life forever.  We had been a happy family.  I was not only provided for, but I had been invested in.  I had been the child of my parents’ happy marriage which had spilled over into a happy home.  My father, a manly man, had been so pleased to work hard to provide for his wife and children.  He felt he was good and he felt God was repaying him with this happy life.  With the death of my mother, I also lost my father.  He could not be father and mother, so he decided to be neither.  I lost my childhood.  I lost my innocent happiness.  I stood at her funeral, holding the hand of an aunt that I did not know, and so unsure of the new emotion that I felt:  fear.  I was a motherless child.  

After the ceremony, the few people my family knew in our little town gathered at our house.  It was a small simple farmhouse but my mother had made it a home.  With her death, even our home died.  Now it was just a house.  It suddenly lacked the charm that comes when there is happiness in the air.  I stood in the corner near the staircase.  I was blocked by a wall, but around the opening I could hear relatives whispering, “What will Matthew do with these children now?  What a burden for him.”

No, I was not the only child of Matthew and Grace Parker.  I was one of three children.  I had a brother, David, who was four years older and a sister, Fern, who was two years younger.

The whispers continued, “She always spoiled them and now he is going to have to pay the price.”

“Well, I think he deserves it.  He should have taken better care of her.  It is his fault this happened.”

“All I know is that children are expensive.  He doesn’t have any money.”

“Well, I happen to know where he can find a new wife.  That is the only solution I know of.”

“You are exactly right.  I mean it.  I agree with you.  And he’d better come to terms with that sooner than later.”

This was followed by small snickers.  They were not possessed by demons.  These people had been saved by God.  But they had been stopped in their footsteps.  They refused to fight.  They stood in their comforts of life and did not want to be burdened by the troubles of this world.  When they were tempted, they quietly gave in and kept it hidden.  When demons told them to judge, they gladly obliged.  They were modern day Pharisees.  The demons could not enter their bodies, but they could sit on their shoulders and whisper into their ears and influence their thoughts and actions.  The demons promised comfort in this world in exchange for their cooperation.

This is how the community felt about their responsibility to fill in the motherly gap that we now inherited.  There was never a solution or an attempt at one.  Our happy home was never happy again.  We had lost Eden.

To be continued…

Spread the Secret

There are many me, there are lots of me’s that enjoy a big pot roast, me’s walking the isles at Publix, I see me picking up my kid at school, or even the multitude of me’s sitting in churches across this Western World. 

I have lived my life following the crowd of the must have. The media has influenced what I say. Oh!  Don’t get me wrong!  I have spoken out enough to make enemies with those I don’t like anyway, but never enough to get a label. I have lived my life in search of bigger and better, prettier and stronger, richer and more powerful. 

But last week, I took a trip that I didn’t want to take. Remember the day I had to write?  Remember me holding in the tears in Target?  Well, my levels were up where they shouldn’t be up and my oncologist ordered lots of scans. It sounded just like the previous six times that led to surgery. And not all surgeries are created equal. Add the C word for a dramatic effect and as the surgeries multiply, the risks and recovery are harder. Well, that time I wrote about what I couldn’t write about, it was that. Last week, Nana stayed with my girl and James and I took that oh so routine trip to Duke Medical Center. It is worth the drive. It is the difference between life and death. 

A sick feeling rises in my stomach while I try to prepare myself, thinking about things I had not let myself think about before. But my husband slips his hand into mine and then it can’t all be wrong. What I care most about is right. And I get an email from my mentor sent around the 5 o’clock hour and she has prayed in the presence of the Holy One on my behalf. And I get a text and another text and more that dear friends are praying and what more can I ask?

It all begins with an ultra sound, I grab James’s hand and I am prepared for the worst, “Completely normal. Nothing to worry about.”  Followed by a CT Scan and a bone scan:  My oncologist sent in his PA. (Pause here. I absolutely adore my doctor but when he sends in his PA, that is the news I want!)  All normal. 

But, ya see, this is the third time in 2015 that I have lived a similar situation. It never gets easier, maybe even harder, but each and every time I learn something. And they will continue. I am a 19 year cancer survivor. Since 19 long years ago, my blood levels are off. My doctors continue to search and scan to locate that microscopic cancer that they know is somewhere. But their hope, and my prayer, is that I live my life being poked and prodded and that it never grows to a size where they can find it. It has before. Six surgeries. But I live my life with routine medical bills and visiting the best doctors in the world and this cancer is slow growing therefore I proclaim that my life is a beautiful life with cancer. 

And living my life from this perspective teaches me enough to write about it. The thorn in my side can also become the blessing. Although I would have never picked this road on my own, and I would switch lanes at any point that I could, the suffering is never wasted. And what did I learn this time?  

I learned MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Yesterday, I accompanied my eight year old and her classmates to an assisted living home to spread some holiday cheer. My daughter, her friend, and I sat across from an elderly man coloring a picture.  As Madison chatted, like Madison does, the man must have told her a hundred times how smart she is. I smiled and introduced myself. He followed suit with his whole name. I then introduced my daughter and her friend. The sweet man we just met, smiled and told me he had two children, he pronounced the full name of one of his children and then paused with great pain on his face, “I am not smart like her. I forget.”

Not able to fathom the pain of forgetting the name of my own child, we moved on with the conversation. Because my God is awesome, he moved my daughter and her friend to share their recent memory work. They memorized all of Luke 2. (All 20 verses!)  As they recited the story, this precious man beamed. It was spiritual. 

When I do not have the option to take this life for granted, THANK YOU JESUS FOR SHOWING ME WHAT I LIVE FOR!  There was this tiny little baby, he was God Almighty coming to earth to save me!  There is no other religion where god loves me like that!  No other faith that says that I am good enough. No other spiritual life where I measure up to the God of the universe pursuing me! 

There are so many me’s walking around this world. We know God but we don’t want to get too weird about it. Ladies and gentlemen, ISIS is cutting off the heads of the infidel, mass shootings are the new norm, our president does not even recognize our enemy…this world is headed straight to hell!  I will strive to be more like my eight year old daughter:  “Here is the story of Jesus.  And when life hurts more than possible to endure, there is hope!  The story starts with a virgin birth, announced by angels. Hosanna in the highest!  I have good news of great joy for all the people!”  

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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. 

No Faith

“Alleluia,” was sung from the voice of a young girl that was me. I took his hand and I walked away from this world. I did not know the way, but I would follow his plan and not my own. 

There are so many others, the blur of the crowd passes me by. I lay. I lay down. I lay down in the mass and they pass me by. The rain falls, it pours upon my face. Cold soaks my body to the core, my bones shiver. I feel the mud and the water rise around me. 

“Where are you?!”  I cry. “Where did you lead me?  Do you even know my terror?  DO YOU EVEN CARE IF I DROWN?!”

He passes through the masses, they give him no notice.  He kneels down and picks up my body. He helps me to my feet. 

Turning to the nature he made, he rebukes the wind and he talks to the rain, “Quiet, be still!”

Then he says to me, “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?”

And I am terrified. Who is this man?  When I have seen all that he has done for me, why does the storm still scare me?

A Link to My Longest Writing Ever

I have entered my novel into a contest.  If you like what you read here, please visit the link below and download my book FOR FREE!  Each download gives me a vote.  THANK YOU!  I hope you enjoy what you read.

http://freeditorial.com/en/books/spiritual-flesh-and-blood

Naked People in Heaven

Instant bad mood.  I search around for my screaming phone on the floor under my bed.  The damn alarm clock continues to scream at the top of its lungs.  Slowly gaining control of my sleeping body, I step out of bed, pick up my phone and turn off the alarm.  The pain of waking up.  In heaven, I will roll over and enjoy the waking up process just as much as snuggling into bed and drifting off to sleep.  (That is if we sleep in heaven.)

My world runs about me in fast forward.  Honking impatiently at the slow moving car, spending what we don’t have for the newest item that hits the shelves, driving around our children to some place other than home.  Why do I join the insanity of the crowd?  I do believe in busying oneself with hard work, but that is not what is happening here.  We are all consumed with what does not matter.

Now.  What we want is now.  The admiring stares of those we don’t know.  Now.  The praise of what drives us around.  Now.  Winners of the race.  Packed pantries to overflowing.  Fashonable jewelry on our bodies and extra in the closet.  Fancy modern restaurants.  Everything that our neighbors have.  Our neighbors that we want to be like, not the ones outside of our neighborhood.

But all we think about is now and we laugh at anyone that suggests otherwise.

Ted Turner is famous for a lot of things, one of them is stating what is on his mind.  Hey, I can respect that.  He likes to chose his words so that other people listen.  He doesn’t just fit into the crowd.  I respect that also.  But I wish that someone would tell him, and a whole lot of the rest of the world, that they are on the wrong train.  When Turner quoted, “I’d rather go to hell.  Heaven has got to be boring.”  I wish someone would have asked him, “What do you want most in life?”….”It will be in heaven.”

Heaven is better than being a billionaire.  There is money to spare, Hey, let’s pave these streets with gold.  Heaven is better than pornography!  THERE WILL BE PERFECT BODIES WALKING AROUND NAKED!  And it will be a good thing!  No one will be embarrassed!  (There will be no sin in heaven.  Pornography is a destructive, cruel sin.  The point is, naked bodies will be good….and everywhere.)  Heaven is better than Hawaii.  All the food will be paid in full!  Heaven is better than Christmas!  That baby Jesus, he will be with us!  It doesn’t sound boring to me!

And what will not be in heaven?  Babies without mommies.  Wheelchairs won’t be needed in heaven, or medicine, or hospitals.  There will not be divorce, no one’s heart will be broken.  What have you been through?  What hurts?  What tugs at your heart and makes you cry out, “That is not right!”  God will end it.  He will make all the wrongs undone and he will wipe away that tear.

“Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we want is coming.”  Tim Keller.

So, look at this world.  Read the Bible.  Take a look at what is good in this world.  LORD, FIX MY PRIORITIES!  SET MY MIND ON THINGS ETERNAL!  Get ready.  It is going to be the best party of all of eternity.  Don’t throw away your invitation.

No More Hurt

Darkness could not conceal the majesty of the sanctuary. Several shades of ornate gold, centuries old. There was a romantic battle story of angels and demons and suffering saints, all within the walls. And now, gathered here in this place, just me and my LORD. 

I was not singing, but the music overtook the atmosphere. Her voice rang out, pouring from my soul. It was not her lips that moved and not mine. Overcome with two emotions that only mix in the presence of God:  power and humility, my body naturally longed to lift my hands in worship, but my soul knew all too well that it was no proper offering. 

Down. Down to my knees I found my appropriate posture, hands covering my face. Heart and body, mind and soul, calling to my Deliverer. “Hosanna!”  Interpreted, “Save me!”

He lifted my eyes and drew me to the cross. There I lay my sinner’s burden. There I am washed to a radiant righteousness with the sprinkling of blood, I am completely redeemed. 

I stood in my humility. I was strong in his power. And then the room was transformed, a modern setting. Stage lights searched the room and a band sang out. Voices cried out to God in great numbers. Diversity of the followers was unity in heart. 

And then I was all alone. Petified by the things people said, astonished at their deeds. “I want to go home!”  I cried out in my soul’s deepest place of fear. But I saw hungry hearts and empty souls and people longing for a Savior. “Tell them,”  my simple command. “Lead them.” Was his answer, “lead them to the cross.” 

So, walk with me and I will show you. Hold my hand and we can sing. I’ll tell you a story of the one who saved me, I was so very hungry, starving for a purpose and a joy, he filled me to overflowing, now come, come and see what my Savior has done. There will be no more hurt. He saved us, Hosanna.

Death Sting Defeated

If I go to nothing, cords of death entangle me. If this current happiness is all I experience, then pain and suffering are a mockery. 

But if I go to eternal life, then even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, it is only a shadow and I will not fear. 

Hope defeats even death. Where, Death, is your sting?  Where is your victory?

My God chose death, even death on a cross, and rose again to life, conquering you forever. So that when I pass through death, you will only be a shadow, for I will then be more alive than ever!