Miraculous Preservation

A common concern among caregivers, especially parents of children who have disabilities, is what will happen to our children if they outlive us. And as middle age comes, depending on the degree of toll in caregiving and other life circumstances, we caregivers tend to fear that our bodies may wear our long before we actually die. What then?

And so we pray a lot. As we’re able, we do some planning. Having an estate plan in place offers some peace of mind as does doing lots of documentation for those who will be inheriting the caregiving responsibilities. Our family has had many conversations about this and those are always very reassuring as well. But at the day’s end, when my body is aching and I’m weary to the bone (as they say), I’m left with taking it all to the Lord in prayer and begging him to preserve and protect my husband and I for as long has He possibly will!

Today I was reading the accounts of a missionary who travelled a ship between England and China in the 1930s. The ship’s route took them through the Red Sea with full views of the desert places where the Exodus occurred. Audrey Johnson’s pondering jumped off the page at me with reassurance that God’s capacity to preserve and protect His children is not limited by our physical bodies and minds.  

Audrey wrote:

Probably no one who reads Exodus can fully enter into that miracle of absolute dependence upon our faithful God who revealed Himself so clearly that throughout Israelite history and Psalms this miraculous preservation and protection was never forgotten. Think for instance of Deuteronomy 29:5 (which says): 

“For forty years God has led you through the wilderness, yet your clothes haven’t become old, and your shoes haven’t worn out” (TLB).

Audrey Wetherell Johnson

I want to remember this verse and the underlying promise it carries for our family too. Nothing has changed about God, His promises or His abilities. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday as He is today and forever. His character, power, goodness and accessibility remains as certain for me as it was for Moses. In fact, it’s even better because I (we) have access to God through the indwelling Holy Spirit!  

The very same God who so faithfully cared for the people of Israel makes the same kind of promise to me. His protection may look differently than I’m expecting but it remains dependable and will surprise me in the best of ways.

Whether you are a fellow sojourner down the caregiving road with me or someone who just needs reassurance, let us be confident of this — God is creatively preparing all kinds of “miraculous preservation” for us and for those we love.

Jeremiah 29:10-13
This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.”

This post was inspired by the book Created for Commitment by A. Wetherell Johnson, founder of Bible Study Fellowship.

Christmas Worship Like the First Time (Part 2)

One definition of worship is “to express reverence or adoration of someone or some thing.” By this definition we have all been guilty, at one time or another, of showing more affection, appreciation and priority for other people, places, objects and activities in our lives than we have shown toward God Himself.

Jesus knew that true children of God would make it their priority to follow Him into the world proclaiming the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:57-62). People who are awakened to the joy of their salvation want everything about their lives to reflect the One who has rescued them.

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:7-14

Jesus Himself often told people to go tell their friends and family what God had done for them (Mark 5:18-20, Luke 8:39). But there were also many times when Jesus didn’t specifically instruct someone to go and tell. They just did. They did because they were so moved by Jesus’ compassion toward them and His power of transformation in their lives that they couldn’t stop talking about Him! And the passion of their testimony paired with the evidence seen in their renovated lives caused people to be amazed and worship God (Mark 2:11-12).

Oh, that our enthusiasm and gratitude would overflow as worship (Psalm 23:5, Romans 15:13, 2 Corinthians 4:15, 2 Corinthians 8:2, 2 Corinthians 9:12, Colossians 2:7)!

“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9

Lifting our eyes to see God and then giving voice to what we see is worship. What we see and say about God will also lead other people to worship.

This reflection on worship is excerpted from “Living Your Glory Story” available at Amazon and the Walk Right In Ministries store.  Copyright © 2013 Walk Right In Ministries. All rights reserved.

Jamieson’s “Toughest Struggles” Interview Re-Airs

A couple of years ago, Larry and I were invited to do an interview with WORDS TO LIVE BY RADIO. We shared about how we experienced God in the early years of Carly’s life when disability was devastatingly new and we struggled to ask for help so Carly might thrive. That episode is re-airing again this coming weekend, Saturday and Sunday, September 13 & 14

I hope it’s encouraging to you. Please join us in praying that God will use this once again to reach into things like broken heartedness, hopelessness and loneliness. 

To learn where you can hear the interview on a station in your area, call 616-974-2210 with your zip code handy or just visit this link — http://words.net/2010/06/04/finding-hope-in-one-of-life’s-toughest-struggles-–-larry-lisa’s-story/

For more of the story about those early years, read Finding Glory in the Thorns — the book about how Carly, her family and the community surrounding them experienced love, hope and unexpected miracles in the midst of shared struggles.  Finding Glory in the Thorns and the small group curriculum Finding Glory Group Discussion Guide are both available at the Walk Right In Ministries store and Amazon. Finding Glory in the Thorns is also available for your eReader on Kindle, Nook and iBook (Apple).  

Madelyn’s Glory Story “Today’s Tests are Tomorrow’s Testimonies”

Today’s Glory Story comes from Madelyn who has just been given an overwhelming cancer diagnosis but the gift of a great sense of God’s purpose. She is embracing what lies ahead in a way that is refreshing and profoundly inspiring to me. Many times over the years, I’ve wondered how I would respond if a doctor gave me such news. Have you wondered the same? Since both of my parents are survivors of aggressive forms of cancer, the possibility of receiving that kind of report seems too real sometimes but, thankfully, so does the hope of leading a thriving life after God’s merciful miracles of healing and protection.
Madelyn’s story reminds us that we need not—must not—be afraid of adversity. Hope rises out of adversity because we live on God’s sure promises and can always anticipate the surprises of His love.  
I’m 63 years old and have been married for 42 years. Mike and I have one stepson, two sons, two daughters-in-law and three granddaughters. I have been physically active most of my life playing tennis, quilting, roller blading, riding bike, etc.

On December 18, 2013, my husband took me to urgent care. I’d had three days of high fever, chest pain, and coughing with what we thought was the flu. When the nurses took my blood pressure it was 89/54 so the doctor insisted I go to an emergency room by ambulance. I was immediately given IV fluids, an array of tests and then, despite my resistance, a CT scan.
The ER doctor explained that I had a large mass growing on my tailbone and he suspected cancer. I was given an MRI and more blood draws to confirm this. Hospital staff said that I must have had angels bring me to the hospital, as most tests would never have shown this tumor. My pain was in my chest and not in the lower areas of my body. The ER doctor just felt “led” to request the CT scan of the pelvis! (Of course we know it was the Holy Spirit guiding him.)
I was given the oncologist’s contact information and told to call in the morning. We met within a few days and a biopsy confirmed plasmacytoma. Then I had a bone marrow biopsy that confirmed multiple myeloma as well. Mike and I have been in shock because the oncologist said this has been growing in me for a couple of years. I’ve had very little pain and thought my lower back pain was from too much tennis!
I’m sharing the details about how I came to find this out because both Mike and I realized it wasn’t us making the decisions and guiding the doctors—it was God! We’ve had tears, disbelief, and lots of questions. We are gaining wisdom about cancer and medical issues that neither one of us ever wanted to learn. But because I know that God is in this life with us, and as I see how He has directed and orchestrated what we couldn’t have thought to do, then I know God is in the rest of this battle called cancer too.
Madelyn has already started radiation and chemotherapy. And God is already breathing life into her testimony. Consider this excerpt from a letter she shared with family and friends just a couple of days ago:
I had asked the Lord to provide hands that need holding and for me to give comfort to others as I began this journey. Today I recognized a man from Trilogy in the chair across the room from me. I went over to him…he and his wife used to live right behind our house in Trilogy. He has lung cancer in both lungs. He said that if this series of chemo doesn’t work, they’ve given him several months to live. Please add this couple (I used to play tennis with the wife) to your prayers.
I got to hold both of their hands and tell them that the Lord is with them and will provide them with healing and hope however that should happen. They said they believed that too. Their daughter also has cancer!
I see how God has provided for me this opportunity to serve Him, praise Him, and be a witness even when life seems to have handed me a “rough road to walk.” …Isn’t God faithful!?!
The verses that I am reading and praying are from Philippians 4:4-9

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.  

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

I’m looking ahead and not behind me for today’s tests are tomorrow’s testimonies.
Madelyn told me yesterday, I’m actually excited to see the opportunities that lie ahead of us in all this! I feel a new boldness yet gentleness about who God is and how I am His dearly loved child! I am looking to Jesus Christ who is the author and perfecter of our faith.”
One of Madelyn’s family members who has struggled with addiction is encountering God too. She shared her excitement with me saying, “It is absolutely God who is at work in the lives and hearts of the people all around me through getting this cancer! So many things are happening that I can hardly take it all in! Praise and honor to God who provided the way of salvation in Christ Jesus!”
WOW. This wife, mother and grandmother is being called out to unknown waters but she knows Whose child she is and her encouragement comes from knowing God is already doing marvelous things with her story. Though her experiences are fresh and raw right now, her heart is fully yielded to God’s ways and purposes. She and her family will need our prayers.
HEAVENLY FATHER, thank you for showing us how intimately powerful You are in the details of our lives. Thank you for showing us Your mighty hand in Madelyn’s proper diagnosis. Please use her experience to soften and strengthen many in relationship toward You. According to your will, we ask for a miracle of complete healing in Jesus’ name! Put the spotlight on Your power and compassion so that doubters are reassured and skeptics can’t help but turn toward You. Thank you for being Madelyn’s strength, comfort, guide and shield. Let her not be shaken, Lord, and equip he for every good work according to the riches she has in Christ. Give her family peace and joy as they walk through this together. Surround them with supporters who will stand with them as practical and prayerful helpmates. We rest in Your faithfulness, Oh Lord!  AMEN