Struggles of the Heart

It has been a while since I have posted. Not that I haven’t had anything to say, but sometimes, the chaos in my mind does not slow down enough to get it all in order. This past year has been quite an adventure. I felt as though I was being drawn into all the vitriol, bitterness, and hatred that seems to revel in our society these days. There is a lot to be angry about, and I was indulging.

Unfortunately, as a born again Christian, it is not my place to be standing in contempt of anyone, and I took it to God. I prayed and basically told God that I was tired of being ‘mad’ all the time, and didn’t believe He wanted me hating anyone, so what do I do with all of this? Immediately, a new prayer fell from my lips … ‘God, help me to focus on the eternal rather than the temporal’. I had lost my sight of all that is REAL and was being sucked into the popular cynicism prompted by people and events in my beloved country that I never thought I would ever witness, and I knew my attention was on the wrong things.

Within a couple of weeks, I was led to a book … ‘Flight to Heaven’ written by Dale Black. Intrigued by the title, I read the synopsis, then bought a copy and had it read in a day. I could not put it down. Little did I realize the impact this book would have on my life, as God was using it as the first step in answer to my prayer. So affected by the message in the book, I bought several copies and gave them out to people, including my youngest sister, who was taking care of my Mom, who was in hospice care at home. I told her I was sending her the book, with the instructions she was to read this book to Mom.

Sadly, she never had the chance… she got it started, but Mom took a turn for the worse, and almost immediately after I had sent her the book, she called with the dreaded phone call… “Barb, it’s Mom… we are not looking at weeks or months, but days’. I closed down the business and flew out on the 8th of April… Mom died on the 18th… a day that will hover in my thoughts for the rest of my life.

What did I do during the 10 days before Mom died? I read to her… the very book I had sent Kim insisting she read to Mom. Mom could not speak, so we had to work out a ‘blink’ code, since, as I would finish a chapter in the book, she would be lying there with her eyes closed and I would wait. She opened her eyes, and I would ask her if she wanted me to continue… she blinked at me a ‘yes’, and I would continue. This is how we finished the book, and sitting there by her bedside, reading this wonderful book to her during her last days are actually the most powerful memories I have of that time.

The night she died, most of us were around her bed… talking, singing, and even some laughter, although subdued. Mom and Dad both loved song and laughter, and someone in the room started the ball rolling, and insisted that I sing one of her favorite songs… I insisted that I did not feel like singing, but ended up doing the song, tearfully, reminiscing during the entire song of the days Mom taught me both the melody and words. I sang it to her.

Before I get off subject, I must take the time to admit… I did not have it all together, although I was telling myself ‘I can handle this’. One night shortly before Mom’s death, I lost it. Total control, out the door. To make a long story short, it was so bad, I woke up the next morning praying. I asked God to forgive me for messing up so bad, and asked Him to help me love the ‘unlovables’. Then, as I started to let the tears flow, I told Him, ‘I am obviously not handling this other very well, either’. I knew He knew what I was talking about.The words were no sooner out of my mouth, when part of a scripture from Isaiah popped into my head … a verse I had not read in a long, long time…. “for surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”. I admitted to God I had never understood that scripture and boldly asked ‘if He has already done it, then why do I feel so crappy?”

My praying continued on for a while, and just when I attempted to think on the verse I believed God had given me, I discovered I had already forgotten it!!! How could I do that?? I almost panicked and asked God to help me remember that scripture! Well, it did come back and stayed this time.

After Mom’s funeral, I returned home and tried to start pulling myself together again. One day not long after returning home, I tuned in to a preacher on TV (Joseph Prince… I had never heard of him). He was talking about our works versus the ‘finished work of Christ on the cross’. I honestly don’t remember anything of his message but those words, and as he spoke them, I was instantaneously taken back to that morning I had cried out to God when my Mom was dying and was reminded of the verse God had given me that day “for surely, He HAS borne our griefs and CARRIED our sorrows’. I am not delusional, but it was almost as if God had tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘the work is finished… it is a done deal… you just don’t know it yet’.

That was back in April, and since then, it has been more lessons on the same track… God’s grace and the finished work. I guess the question is: ‘how do we walk in that grace? In that victory? How do we get to the point where we realize with all of our being that God has already done the hard part and we do not have to carry the load? Since those initial prayers and pivotal experience in my life, my times with God have been consistently pulling me toward ‘abiding in Him’, finding the ‘secret place of the Most High’ that Psalm 91 talks about, and being quiet… not just not talking, but quieting everything … body, mind, and spirit, so I can really get close to God and get to know Him. God says in His word: ‘Be still and know that I am God’…. Psalm 91 has been prominent in my study as well … “He who dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of His wings’. … I probably have the words mixed up, but the point is … where is the secret place? I think God wants us to seek it out. Abiding under the shadow of His wings? When I read that, I think of the proximity we have to have to anything to be in its shadow … we have to be pretty darned close. And if we are that close to God, the maker of all that is, how difficult would it be to distract us from His Presence by all that is going on around us?

On closing, as I was reading a part of Genesis one morning, I discovered (I love to do word study) that “Noah” means ‘rest’ in Hebrew… Noah entered the Ark and was saved from the storm. Abiding under the shadow of His wings, to me, denotes a safety and rest. I believe what God was trying to tell me was all I need to do is rest IN HIM… that is the only place I will find it, and that means stop striving, in mind, body and spirit.

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