Posts Tagged With: sovereignty

The “What If” Game IS A Dangerous Game To Play

 

Saturday was a busy day. It was raining when we headed out to watch my oldest son compete in the conference Scholar Bowl tournament at a nearby school. In early afternoon, as his team finished and we left the school, it had begun to lightly snow. But we were on our way to another school so he could participate in a basketball tournament. As soon as this tournament was over, my husband left to take him to a third school where the high school varsity teams were playing (he keeps stats for the girls and boys team) while my younger son and I headed home.

By this time, it had been snowing for several hours. Snow was beginning to pile up. Road crews were out working but they just couldn’t keep up – it was coming too hard and too fast.

My son and I walked in our home and I fell on the couch, exhausted from the day but mainly from the drive home. It was stressful. My road had not been touched yet and I was slipping and sliding everywhere and my youngest son was in the backseat. What if I had slid off the road? He could have been hurt or even killed.

I’m so glad that my husband is such a good driver and is so careful that I don’t have to worry about him.

Then my phone rang.

It was my husband and he had slid off the road.

Another family that we knew stopped, picked our son up and took him onto the ball game.

But my husband was still stuck on the side of the road and needed help. I called a friend who lived nearby. He willingly and happily went to help my husband. Our friend was able to pull him out but within half a mile my husband slid off two more times. Finally, the friend just brought him home.

This evening we went to get our truck. It’s a small Ford Ranger without 4 wheel drive. Not much good in the snow. It took us nearly twenty minutes to get it out of the driveway he had left it in.

While driving back home, I couldn’t help but to notice the sides of the road. It was lined with steep drop-offs. Yet my husband and son slid onto level ground.

But what if they had slid off here instead?

What if the truck would have rolled?

What if it had crushed the cab with my husband and son inside?

What if… What if… What if…

Tonight as my son and husband went to sleep, I kept praying and thanking God for the protection that He had given to them. I thank Him for always taking care of my family when I cannot. And I just wanted to watch them sleep and hold them close, having been reminded of what a treasure they truly are.

But when it is my turn to go to sleep, my mind turned to the “What if…” game.

For me, personally, it is worse at night when I’m trying to go to sleep. That is when my mind really starts working and going crazy. I suppose during the day I can keep busy enough to not think about it. But at night, well, the night makes up for the day. That means more worry and less sleep. That results in a more tired and stressed mom/wife. Believe me, nobody in my house wants that!

You can probably relate. Maybe you haven’t been in this same exact situation, but you have probably been in some sort of a frightening situation. And you have been left wondering “What if…”

While I am certainly not proficient at this and still need lots of practice, I would like to make a suggestion on how to deal with the “What if…” game. Even though the weather was bad and my husband and son slid off the road, God still looked after my family. As much as I love them, God loves them more. Even as precious as they are to me, they are more precious to God. So instead of playing the “What if…” game, I am going to say to my mind, “No, I’m not going to allow you to go there. Instead I am going to thank the Lord that He did not allow that to happen. I am going to thank the Lord for His sovereignty, love, and grace. I am going to sing praises to the Lord.”

Playing the “What if…” game is a dangerous game to play. It totally discounts the Lord’s sovereign will. In the Lord’s sovereign will, He allowed our truck to slide off in a relatively safe place. He did not allow our truck to roll or the cab to be crushed. So why do we allow to let our minds dwell there? That is not honoring, glorifying, or praising the Lord – the very thing that we, as His children, are called to do.

Colossians 3:2 tells us “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Basically, that verse is telling us to think of things that are eternal and praise the Lord for them. It is telling us to trust God. It is telling us to think of Him in ALL things. Don’t worry so much about the “What if’s…” because those are not things that are eternal. He has already taken care of them.

We all have deep, dark places that our minds want to visit from time to time. If we allow them to dwell there, they can very easily lead us into a depression.

These are real fears. I’m not taking away from that. Yet, we cannot allow our minds to reside there. In fact, the Scriptures tell us not to. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “…Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” That verse is speaking of the importance of training our minds for Christ. And it sounds simple to do. But it is very difficult and challenging.

Consider this; we are all training our minds for something. So what will it be? Self-pity or admiration of the Lord? Praise and worship or fear and terror? Unbelief or praise? Fear and fright or trust of His faithfulness?

 

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalm 73:28)

 

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I Am So Weak

 

My son began running a fever in the night. He is crying for me. He wants me to rock with him in the rocking chair. He asks me to sing to him. He throws up. He cries because his throat is sore. He cries because his ears hurt. He cries because he feels so lousy.

I want to cry because this is sixth time this has happened this year and I know what the doctor wants to do – extract his tonsils and adenoids.

Oh the weight of that decision!

I had a cousin who died from malpractice while having his tonsils removed.

What if the doctor makes a mistake?

What if he does not wake up from the anesthetic?  I know it’s rare, but it does happen.

I REALLY don’t want to have this procedure done.

But it’s time.

 

A month later my son and I walk into the hospital. I am working with all my might to compose myself in front of him. I remind him of all the yummy ice creams, popsicles, yogurts, and puddings we bought for the afterwards.

The nurse gives him a stuffed rabbit. He names it “Sign”.

The doctor comes to examine him and make sure he is healthy enough for a surgery. He is.

The nurse gives him a “drink” that will make him sleepy. He says it taste terrible but drinks it anyhow. I tell him that he is a Big Boy for doing that. Within a few minutes, this “drink” is clearly affecting him.

Then the dreaded words come, “You cannot go any further. You may wait in the waiting room and we will come get you when you can come back.”

Immediately I feel like panicking. I don’t want them to take my baby away. “Please, please, please let me go to. I promise that I’ll stay out of your way. Just let me be with him,” I want to scream. But of course I don’t. I knew this was coming. I just watch them wheel my baby away then go to the waiting room as directed.

In the waiting room, I pretend to read a magazine but I’m really forcing all my energy into keeping myself composed. I am thankful that I am not the only parent in here. There are several.

A doctor comes out to speak with another mother and father.

Oh my goodness… Their daughter was having open heart surgery!

I’m over here nearly hyperventilating because my son is having his tonsils and adenoids out and their daughter is having a major surgery on her heart. Her heart! And they seem so calm and collected.

Talk about putting things in perspective!

 

That happened eight years ago but I remember it like it was this morning. I remember every little thing. I remember the sound of wheels from the beds being pushed in the hall. I remember that time seemed to stand still. I remember wishing I hadn’t told my husband that I could handle this and he could go to work as usual. I desired his strength terribly! I remember those poor parents and the feeling of anguish that I felt for them. I remember the look of seriousness on the doctor’s face.

I remember them.

I do not feel that I had acted silly. After all, when it is your child having surgery, there is no small surgery. But I do feel that I acted foolishly.

Because here’s the thing, God is still God. He never changes. It doesn’t matter if my son is playing happily at home, if he’s running a fever, having his tonsils out, or having open heart surgery. God is still God. He is still sovereign. He is still on his throne. Nothing is going to happen without Him ordaining it.

And I might as well face it, the reason I was so anxious is because this whole situation was out of my control. Which points to the root of the problem, sin. To think that I am in control of anything or any situation is pride. And yes, pride is sin. Sin is a rejection of the Lord.

So what can an anxious Momma do? Storm the gates of heaven for their child! Talk to the Creator. He made your child. He knows exactly what it is that needs to be done to help them. Pray that He gives knowledge to the surgeons. I have never once had the Lord tell me that He was too busy to listen to my concerns. He is always there. Always!

Don’t forget to repent. Repent? Yes, repent. Because He just revealed a sin, pride, to you. Because sin is turning away from the Lord. Because you want to be closer to Him. A sin is a problem in all of our lives. Including you. And your pastor. And your son or daughter. And your next door neighbor. And the person who is typing this right now.

I remember that day so vividly not only because my son had his tonsils out. Or because of the revelation of my sin. I don’t even remember it because of that mother and father.

I remember that day because as I heard the surgeon speak with the parents, I began to pray. Not for my son, but their daughter AND her parents. While I did not know exactly how those parents were feeling, I understood the magnitude of their situation. The doctor left them and I continued to pray. A nurse came to get them and still, I prayed.

But something hit my hand.

I opened my eyes. There was a small folded up piece of paper lying on my lap.

I opened it up. It simply said, “Thank you for praying for us. We pray that your child is well too.”

I remember that day because the Lord reminded me of Who He is. He reminded me that nothing is too big or too small for Him. Encouragement can be found anywhere. Brothers and Sisters can be found everywhere. And when we are at our weakest, He is at His strongest.

 

“For we are weak, but You are strong,” 1 Corinthians 4:10

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Rules For Dating My Son

 

Have you noticed that girls seem to be chasing boys these days? Just this evening a girl asked my twelve year old son to be her boyfriend. Hello, he’s twelve years old! No twelve year old needs a boyfriend or girlfriend. But I do realize that some of these girls may make a fine wife for my son in some twenty or thirty years. So to help these girls out, I have compiled a list of rules for dating my son.

  1. My son does not have his own cell phone. Feel free to call him on mine. I should warn you that a customer service representative will be listening.
  2. You may talk with him at church. Bring your Bible.
  3. Do not touch my son. Do not even pick lint off his shirt. He can do that himself. You may only touch him if you are standing on the edge of a cliff, have lost your balance, are about to fall off, and he is the only person around. But I would prefer you to grab a tree instead.
  4. He cannot borrow my car for your date. He is only twelve. He has a bike. If you have a wagon and can attach it to his bike then you can ride in that.
  5. Here is a list of all the places approved for your date:
  6. I realize that it is popular to wear “Rihanna” styled clothing. My husband and I want to be open minded and fair about this. So you are free to show up in such clothing. Just please know that I may use a hot glue gun to properly affix it to your body. I may also attach more fabric to you.
  7. His uncle is the principal at school. If you pass him a note, his uncle will read it – for grammatical purposes of course.

Please know that my husband and I have been praying for this boy since before God gave him breath. We pray that if the Lord wills him to marry, that it is a Godly woman. So please chase Jesus first. Search His Word for direction in your life. Study it to learn how to be a Godly wife and what type of man to look for. Pray that the Lord brings a Godly man into your life. Seek out Godly women to watch, study from, and to be discipled by.

Categories: parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Evangelize?

 

I met *Jason the first time when I switched school in fifth grade. He was smart, funny, and very silly. He was the class clown. He could make anyone laugh. He was everyone’s friend.

But as we grew and advanced through grades, he seemed to find trouble more and more. And it wasn’t just in the classroom. Or with teachers or school officials. The first time he had a run-in with the law, we were in eighth grade (I think). He fought. He stole. He cheated.

The fun boy that we all knew and loved was gone. This mean kid had taken his place. And this “new” Jason seemed to only be getting worse.

And then he moved.

I did not see or hear from him until we were in our late 20s. Imagine how surprised I was to see him at a church’s VBS! I spoke with him for quite a while. He hadn’t graduated from high school but chose to get his GED. He met a nice girl. Got married. Became a police officer (that was the one that really shocked me!). Had three children. His wife left him and he continued to raise his children. Alone.

At this point, you could have sneezed and I would have fallen over!

And most of all, he was a wonderful dad. He played with his kids. He enjoyed his kids. He loved his kids. He worked very hard to support them.

We talked more and more. I was still so shocked that this was the same Jason that I had gone to school with. I was elated to see the changes he had made in his life. Before we left, he gave me his phone number and asked if I would please let him know the next time we had a class reunion (I was surprised he had any interest in coming).

Just a couple months later we did have a reunion. I called him and he did come. We were all thrilled to see the man and father that he had become.

And then life went on and things went back to normal and I never saw him again.

About six months later I was cleaning and found the scrap of paper he had written his phone number on. I certainly did not want my husband to think that I had any ulterior motive for keeping Jason’s number so I threw it away. I had done my job anyhow.

The very next day I received a phone call that he had unexpectedly passed away during the night.

I was stunned. Shocked. He was what, 28 years old? People are not supposed to die when they are 28 years old! I felt sick at my stomach. I thought about his sweet children.

But most of all, I thought about him. I wondered about him. Where was he? There was no doubt that a huge change had occurred in his life. Was that because Christ had entered? Maybe. After all, I did see him at a VBS. But I didn’t know for sure. Why didn’t I ask?

Why did I never call him?

Why did I never share the gospel with him?

How many months did I have his number? It was available to me and I did not seize the opportunity. I could have invited him and his children over for supper. I could have asked his family to meet mine at the park to play. I really do think he would have liked that.

But I didn’t.

And the sad truth is that I didn’t even think about it. Didn’t even cross my mind. Why? I don’t even know. Laziness, maybe. Selfishness, maybe. Out of my comfort zone, maybe. Or maybe just believing there will be another day.

I do understand the sovereignty of God. I realize that Jason’s ultimate fate was not/is not dependent upon how obedient I am in sharing the gospel. So I’m not saying that I have a huge amount of guilt. I just realize that I missed an opportunity and a blessing.

And that grieves me.

So what is my point? None of us is guaranteed another day.

With every breath, brag on Jesus.

Keep him foremost in your mind. This is not in our human nature to do, so pray that the Lord increase your love for Him and His word.

Don’t pass up an opportunity to love another person. To really love them. After all, we are all created in His image (Genesis 1:27).

Pray that God gives you opportunities to share the gospel. And then look for them so you recognize them when you see them.

Put away selfish desires and selfish motives.

Take time to commit Scripture to memory. You might not always have your Bible with you. Be prepared.

And most of all, cling to the cross.

Maybe you will be outside your comfort zone. But so what? Do you think that the Apostle Paul was ever outside of his? Probably. Yet, he is known as the greatest evangelist of all times.

All we can do is be obedient when the opportunity arises. The rest is up to God. I am so thankful for this. It is not up to how well I present the Scriptures, how good of a speaker I am, or anything else. If a work is done in someone’s heart, it is the Lord who did it. I am merely a tool in His hand. And if He is able to use something as broken and shattered as me, I am humbled and honored that He chose to use me.

I pray that I arise when the opportunity comes. No more Jasons.

 

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God have the growth.” –1 Corinthians 3:6

“…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” –James 4:14

 

*Name changed to protect privacy

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How God Used a Wedding To Remind Me To Pray

 

I have two brothers that are much younger than me. I was twelve years old when one of them was born, and a year and a half later, the baby of the family came. The scary thing was that about a week after my baby brother was born, my mom came down with a horrible case of pneumonia. She was hospitalized for nearly a week.

My stepfather was a farmer and it was late spring. (If you don’t know much about farming, this is a very busy time for farmers. Most work more than twelve hours a day). Add to that the time he spent with my mom in the hospital, and time he spent driving there and back home again (about a forty minute drive). He helped with the boys when he was able but realistically, that wasn’t much.

That meant that my sister (sixteen years old) and I (thirteen years old) were in charge of not only the upkeep of the house, meals, laundry, etc, but also taking care of our brothers. And did I mention that one of them was only a week old?

A month ago that baby brother got married. When you watch such an event, floods of memories come pouring back. I remember him playing Batman, riding his tricycle, his love for cookies, favorite stories that I read to him. And as he grew, watching him play sports all the way through school. His high school and college graduation. And the first time I met his Bride.

But most of all, I remember that week. That absolutely horrifically terrifying, yet precious week. I remember cuddling him, rocking him, changing his diapers, feeding him, singing to him, loving on him. As he stood before us on the altar, taking vows to be the husband God has called him to be, I couldn’t help but to wonder how he’s still even here. How is it that two teenage girls that don’t even know what they’re doing, can not only take care of, but also keep healthy, a week old baby and an eighteen month old toddler? How did we keep them both alive and healthy?

I really don’t know the answer to this question but I’m going to take a stab at it… It is possible that we did have an idea of what to do because of the older of the two brothers, the eighteen month old. We had been under our Mother’s feet the whole time and learned from watching and helping her. Yes, I do suppose that played a part in it.

But I believe there is greater reason why, prayer!

James 4:2 tells us, “You do not have because you do not ask.” He is saying that our failure to ask denies us of what God would otherwise give to us. When we pray, God responds. Jesus also says, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9-10). He is making a connection between asking and receiving.

We see this happening several times in the Old Testament. We know that Hannah desperately wants a baby. And she specifically wants a baby boy. She prays to the Lord, asking for a baby boy. And guess what? God gives her Samuel (1 Samuel 1).  Another time, God is so frustrated with the children of Israel that He was going to destroy them for their sin. But Moses prayed and God relented (Exodus 32: 10-14). And the Gospels are so filled with people making request of Jesus and He granting their request that I cannot even begin to mention them all here. The list could go on and on. I encourage you to search through Scripture looking for times when someone made a request of God and He answered. You may be blown away.

So what does all this prayer stuff have to do with two teenage girls trying to take care of two small children while their mother was deathly ill? Well, I believe many people were praying for us. They were praying for my mother’s health to be restored. They prayed for wisdom for my sister and me. They prayed for stability and good health for my brothers. And they probably also prayed for wisdom, patience, rest, and peace for my step father. Really, the whole ordeal was probably the hardest on him. But that’s a post for another time.

I believe sincere prayers were lifted up by friends, family, people we went to church with, and even some people that we didn’t even know on our behalf. I really hope that I prayed, but I don’t remember praying. And even if I wasn’t obedient in my prayer life at that time, other people interceded for us. They were honest. They were sincere. They asked for what was needed, not frivolous nonsense.

And God answered.

Thank You, God, that You answered!

I am convinced that if we really believed that God can do remarkable things through our prayer life, then we would all be much more diligent to pray.

And don’t forget that when we pray, we are communicating with God. So if we pray little, what are we telling God? That we want little communication with Him? Or that we don’t believe He will do much from our prayers? Or possibly that our prayers are ineffective, thus making our relationship with Him have no purpose?

I don’t want that sort of relationship with Him and you probably don’t either. He may not always give you everything you want, but let’s not limit His ability to show us His power by watching our outrageous request be given to us. Let’s get blown away!

Categories: prayer | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The “What If…” Game

In 2010 my family had the privilege of attending the Olympic Winter Games that were held in Vancouver, British Columbia. Although I was seven months pregnant with our youngest son, it was still a wonderful time. I consider it a once-in-a-lifetime event. Many, many memories were made there that none of us will ever forget. I want to share one of them with you now.

My son, who was eight years old at the time, and I got to attend the Closing Ceremonies. My husband did not want to go and chose to stay behind at our bed and breakfast. The Closing Ceremonies were awesome and was the favorite event for both of us. But what happened afterwards was so awful, we can hardly think of the Closing Ceremonies without thinking of this…

BC Place, the arena where the event was being held, has a capacity of nearly sixty thousand people. All those people needed to leave the arena and all began to leave at once. It took more than an hour just to get from our seats to the doors. We needed to ride the Skytrain back to our bed and breakfast. But I knew everyone else would need to ride it too and it would be chaotic. So I decided my son and I might as well have supper and enjoy the atmosphere for a while before even trying to board the Skytrain.

We goofed around for an hour and a half before making our way to the Skytrain. Still, it was a mess trying to get on. However, because I was pregnant they considered me handicapped and we got to go to the front of the line. We were waiting on the platform, next to one another, with thousands people around us (and no, I’m not exaggerating). All were trying to push to get their chance to get to the front. I have never seen a mob like this before.

Finally, the train arrived. I could feel the pressure from the other people all around me. Fearing my son and I would be separated, I grabbed ahold of his hand as tightly as I possibly could. The doors opened and immediately the whole platform began pushing, everyone trying to crowd in. But in this, our hands got torn apart. I screamed his name. Nothing. I screamed his name again. Nothing. It was so loud he probably could not have heard me. The train began to pull away from the station. I was on the train, but where was he?

I looked out the window for him. But there were thousands of faces. There were too many for me to have time to pick him out. Where was he? My heart was beating like it had never beaten before. I began to hyperventilate. Again, I screamed his name as loud as I could. This time, I saw his arm sticking out of a crowd of people waving up and down to me. He could not see me either but heard my scream and wanted me to know he was okay. I grabbed ahold of his hand and pulled as hard as I could. And I pulled him out!

I have never been so frightened in my life, before or since. We held one another as tightly as we could all the way back. Both of us were crying. We were both terrified.  He hadn’t known where I was either. I did not let him out of my arms until we got back to our bed and breakfast. And even then, it was only to use the restroom. That night I slept beside him, holding him the whole time. I cried most of the night.

That night as he went to sleep, I kept praying and thanking God for the protection He gave my son. I thanked Him for always taking care of my son when I could not. And I just wanted to watch him sleep and hold him close, having been reminded of what a treasure he truly is.

But when it was my turn to go to sleep, my mind turned to the “What if…” game. What if he had not made it on to the train? He did not have a cell phone. What would he have done? How would I have ever found him in that mob? What if someone would have taken him? What if I never saw him again? What might they do to him? If given a line-up, would I recognize someone who had been there that night? What if the authorities were slow to act losing precious time? What if authorities would not help me because I was a foreigner? What if… What if… What if…

For me, personally, it is worse at night when I’m trying to go to sleep. That is when my mind really starts working and going crazy. I suppose during the day I can keep busy enough to not think about it. But at night, well, the night makes up for the day. That means more worry and less sleep. That results in a more tired and stressed mom/wife. Believe me, nobody in my house wants that!

If you are parent, you can probably relate. Maybe you haven’t been in this same exact situation, but you have probably been in some sort of a frightening situation. And you have been left wondering “What if…”

While I am certainly not proficient at this and still need lots of practice, I would like to make a suggestion on how to deal with the “What if…” game. Even though we got separated, God still looked after my son. As much as I love my son, God loves him more. Even as precious as he is to me, he is more precious to God. So instead of playing the “What if…” game, I am going to say to my mind, “No, I’m not going to allow you to go there. Instead I am going to thank the Lord that He did not allow that to happen. I am going to thank the Lord for His sovereignty, love, and grace. I am going to sing praises to the Lord.”

Playing the “What if…” game is a dangerous game to play. It totally discounts the Lord’s sovereign will. In the Lord’s sovereign will, He did not allow us to be separated more than a few moments. Nor did He allow my son to be kidnapped. So why do we allow to let our minds dwell there? That is not honoring, glorifying, or praising the Lord – the very thing that we, as His children, are called to do.

Colossians 3:2 tells us “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Basically, that verse is telling us to think of things that are eternal and praise the Lord for them. It is telling us to trust God. It is telling us to think of Him in ALL things. Don’t worry so much about the “What if’s…” because those are not things that are eternal. He has already taken care of them.

We all have deep, dark places that our minds want to visit from time to time. If we allow them to dwell there, they can very easily lead us into a depression.

These are real fears. I’m not taking away from that. Yet, we cannot allow our minds to reside there. In fact, the Scriptures tell us not to. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “…Take every thought captive to obey Christ.” That verse is speaking of the importance of training our minds for Christ. And it sounds simple to do. But it is very difficult and challenging.

Consider this; we are all training our minds for something. So what will it be? Self-pity or admiration of the Lord? Praise and worship or fear and terror? Unbelief or praise? Fear and fright or trust of His faithfulness?

 

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalm 73:28)

Categories: Lord's sovereign will | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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