A Glory Story Interview with Melody Richards

A Glory Story tells how you are seeing or experiencing the presence of God in your life. In the Bible, the word “glory” means a couple of different things. Sometimes it refers to the Lord’s fame and renown. Other times, it is rooted in the Hebrew word “shekinah” which refers to a visible manifestation of God’s Divine Presence.  For example, that word “shekinah” is the one used when referring to the presence of God resting or dwelling between the cherubim on the Mercy Seat in the Tabernacle and in the Temple of Solomon.  It is also the term used in connection with the pillar of cloud and fire that led the Israelites to the Promised Land.  This understanding of the word glory sheds critical light on the reality of who Jesus is when we see it in Hebrews 1:3 where it says “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.”
When we talk about “finding glory” at Walk Right In Ministries we are aiming to discover how God is present and active in our lives today.  Through a relationship with Jesus Christ we can personally and intimately experience the Divine presence of the living God.  Every time you see God at work in your life, there is an opportunity to tell a Glory Story.  It is your opportunity to bring honor and fame to God by making the reality of His presence known to others.
Today’s Glory Story interview with my friend Melody Richards will encourage you but it may also challenge you.  Melody’s story causes us to ask hard questions about how God reveals His presence to us even in life’s most difficult circumstances.
On May 17, 2008, Melody and her family experienced a tragedy that changed their lives forever.  They were awakened by the sound of a knock on their door. Melody faced a mom’s worst nightmare as a police officer explained to Melody and her husband that their lovely daughter Danielle had been in a car accident and did not survive. This devastating news rocked Melody’s world. Initially, she did not think she would be able to survive.
Melody’s experience has profoundly affected me and many others who know her.  To be sure, Melody and her family still struggle mightily with their grief and yet Melody is increasingly assured in God’s peace and purposes despite her pain.  I am grateful she is willing to share her deepest sorrow because it helps us to better understand God’s heart for our grief and it inspires us to draw near to Him when our hearts are breaking.
How has what happened to your family affected your relationship with God?
It’s common for individuals to react with anger against God when tragedies occur.  The untimely death of a loved one can elicit feelings of being abandoned and forsaken by God. But He never abandons us.  Personally, I did not have feelings of anger against God.  He became my source of comfort and healing as He gave me the hope, the assurance that I would see my precious Danielle again as she had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.  I clung to God’s promises in His word that He would never leave me. 
Second Corinthians 1:3-5 states that we receive comfort from the Holy Spirit SO THAT we can share that same comfort with others.  How have you experienced this promise in your circumstances — others sharing the Holy Spirit with you and you having opportunity to share Him with others?
I find that one of the best healing factors for grief is finding some way to touch somebody else’s life, This helps to change the focus of your thoughts from yourself to other people. God has provided me with many opportunities to comfort others through my counseling practice, through Danielle’s website, and through speaking opportunities.  I have a passion to help others who are struggling with the significant grief associated with losing a loved one. 
Many have said, “God doesn’t waste anything.” Given the tragedy you have faced, what does that statement mean to you?
God has given me opportunities to reach many people who I never would have encountered without this tragedy.  God has also used this tragedy to strengthen my faith and help me to focus on priorities that have eternal consequences.
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33 NIV) He also said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 ESV)  What have you learned about experiencing abundance while also in the midst of trouble?
Even though my heart was breaking, God gave me something worth trusting – and that’s Him, and Him alone.  “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD” (Psalm 31:24).
Have you struggled with confusion, doubt, anger, fear or other difficult emotions as a result of the crisis?  
Absolutely. The unpredictable timing and odd combinations of emotions that hit you during grief can leave you confused and despairing.
What has been helpful for you in processing those feelings? 
Taking them to Jesus. David, in the Psalms, provided an excellent example of one who expressed his highs and lows to God.  Bring all your questions and feelings honestly to God. Appeal to Him; cry to Him; and then sit back in His arms and trust.
From a Kingdom perspective, what do you believe are the two or three most urgent things people need to learn about facing life’s struggles?
An eternal perspective — God has given me an eternal perspective to help me overcome the grief of such a shattering loss.  When you start seeing heaven as your true home, you begin to develop an eternal perspective that understands all sorrow as transient. Looking at life’s tragedies through this eternal view provides us with hope to face the future. 
Truly believing in the sovereignty of God – that everything that happens to us is filtered by His hands.  It was important for me to continue to believe that God is good and He never makes mistakes even though this was the most devastating experience I’ve been through. 
The number one most urgent thing is “Are You Ready? When you take your last breath on this earth, do you know with 100% confidence that you will spend eternity with God in heaven?  According to God’s Word, only those who have received Christ can go to heaven.
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Thank you, Melody, for sharing what God is teaching you.  May God increasingly give you and your family deep and lasting comfort while encouraging all of us about His powerful and loving presence among us.  We are grateful for every opportunity to see the reality of His nearness!
To learn more about Melody’s story and read her daughter’s testimony of faith, go to www.daniellepound.com.

FINDING GLORY Wednesday

What a wonderful summer it’s been reflecting together on the presence, love, power, and purposes of God. Especially when life is hard, it is easy to get confused or angry and tempting to question our faith. It is such a privilege to have God’s Word to keep us rooted in the Truth! These weekly reflections have been designed to keep us all focused on those Truths while providing an opportunity to explore how they apply to us personally and how they relate to the circumstances of our lives. Being able to discuss these things with an online community of people from all over the world is another of God’s great gifts. We certainly pray that this summer’s study has been that for you — a gift.

As we wrap up this cycle of “FINDING GLORY Wednesdays,” we hope you’ll continue to join us on Wednesdays as we circle back to the beginning and start a new discussion series this fall? In churches from Apple Valley, Minnesota to Brooksville, Florida, we are hearing about new groups starting, old groups continuing and some individuals just joining us as part of this “cyber group” online. We are praying new friends will join us and we hope you will help spread the word. If this has been a helpful process for you, please tell us about your experience and talk about it with others. May the Lord use it to encourage and bless many in their walk with Him.

Your “Glory Story” has influence with others by the power of the Holy Spirit. Talking about how God is present in Your life and heart has the power to change eternity for someone else. And besides that, sharing a faith story is part of your spiritual act of worship! Consider today’s scriptures and discussion questions:
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” Revelation 12:10-12
In this passage, what two things have the power to conquer the accuser?
If you had 60 seconds to give someone the “word of your testimony” today (knowing it has this kind of power), what might you say? In other words, what would your Glory Story be?
Please consider sharing a Glory Story right here in the comments section below today’s post or by writing us at info@walkrightin.org. I can already envision God’s enemy shuddering at the idea that we are all sharing boldly of Christ’s power and presence in our lives!
This series has been based on the Finding Glory collection of resources by Larry and Lisa Jamieson and has included copyrighted excerpts taken from Finding Glory in the Thorns: Group Discussion Guide. For more information about Finding Glory Groups, visit http://www.findingglory.com/findingglorygrou.html.