Struggling With Adversity

Have you been there?

I have.  I am still struggling with the most extreme adversity I have ever experienced.  On May 18, 2016 my world exploded.  My son, David Glasser, was a Phoenix Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty on that day.

I have experienced quite a lot of death in my life but this is – by far – the hardest.

Davey was a unique young man who was dedicated to serving his community and dedicated to living life to its fullest with fun, going everywhere and anywhere, while collecting a vast number of friendships. He did all of this with an obvious devotion and love for his family.  My husband and I lived 1 1/2 miles from Davey and his wife and 2 children the last 5 years of his life.  We talked with him daily and saw him almost every day for one reason or another.

I don’t have the words for how painful this last 2 1/2 years has been.  It defines adversity.

As I begin to read the book of Job, I look forward to reading Job’s story as he deals with all the terrible things that happen to him.   He had people saying strange and wrong things to him.  I can relate.  He had more tough things that happened to him after the first big shock.  I can relate.  He questioned God and wondered why this was all happening to him.  I can relate.  He was overwhelmed with sorrow.  I can relate.

Job was confident that his redeemer lives and – in the end – he wins.  I can relate.  He knew that God was in total control and all-powerful.  I can relate.  He  understood that he would never totally understand God.  I can relate.

Job committed his life to being faithful to God in spite of his circumstances.  He praised God in the middle of all of the pain he was experiencing.  I can relate.  He knew that is was wise to turn from evil and love God.  I can relate.

Job had a long conversation with God.  I can relate – I have had many long conversations with God about my son’s death.  Job confessed that he did not understand.  I can relate – I will never completely understand this.  Job’s eyes were opened in a new way to the reality that God has a plan and purpose for each of us and that God’s ways are not our ways.  I can relate.

God gave Job peace in the middle of his pain and blessed him.

I can relate.

I love you, Abba Father. 

My Only Inheritance

It’s not my house.

It’s not my IRA or retirement.

It’s not my bank accounts.

My relationship with God is the only thing of lasting value that I have.  Everything else will be gone when I leave this earth.  And that could be tomorrow.  Or even later today.

Only God knows.

So am I putting the right priority on all this stuff that is so temporary?  Am I spending my time and money on things that matter?

God tells Ezekiel that he was the only inheritance the priests of Israel were going to have.  The priests had no possessions and they ate from the offerings the Israelites brought to the temple.

God wanted the priests to focus on him, not their earthly possessions.

God wants the same for us.

I learned an important lesson about this about 15 years ago when we downsized from a big 4-bedroom house with a pool to an apartment in order to join the Apartment Life Ministry.  If you haven’t heard of them, look them up.  Awesome ministry.

But back to the move!  So much stuff.  We had lived in that house of 14 years while my children were growing up.  The house was pretty empty right after we moved in but it was full when we started moving out.

Whole rooms of furniture and ‘stuff’ needed to be sold or given away.  I knew God was calling us into this ministry but I just didn’t know how I was going to get rid of all these material belongings.  It was too much.  Then God told me that the secret was to hold the material things of this world loosely.  I remember walking through my house crying with my hands out, “letting loose” of all the things that surrounded me.  After that, it became easy to pick out the things that needed to come with us and the rest went.

It was a relief.  It was refreshing.

And when we got all moved into the apartment, we had everything we needed.  Only the extra was gone.

That experience changed my attitude toward earthly possessions.  Less really is more.   Less means less to clean and organize and store and maintain.

Having less “stuff” has given me more room and time for my relationship with God.  Just like he planned.

Thank you for the life-changing lessons you give us, Abba Father.

Really Alive

A valley of bones.

Millions of bones.

Then God breathes into them – “they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army.”

Wow!!

Growing up in church, I always thought this vision of Ezekiel should be preached around Halloween because a valley full of dry bones suddenly connecting and stand up is creepy as well as scary.

How time changes things!  Now I love this visual because it’s exactly what happened when I turned over my whole heart to God.  His breath went deep into my soul and – for the first time – I was truly alive.  I have a purpose.  I have been re-created into one of the soldiers in his army – wearing his armor and working hard next to my spiritual brothers and sisters to push back evil.

God gives me hope.  Not the ‘I wish’ hope.  This hope is cemented into my heart by the promises of God.  I know who is in control and I know he has plans to prosper me.  I know where I’m going when I leave this earth.  I know who wins in the end.

His redeeming love has turned my dry bones into something good and useful.  His breath moves my soul and brings new life each day.

There are no more dry bones here.

What about you?

Thank you for your breath of real life, Abba Father.

Define It

What is your definition of a blessing?

Is it getting something that you want?  Or is it getting something God wants for you?

I figured out quite a few years ago that I want what God wants for me.  I realized that he gives good things – better things than I could dream of.  He gives important things that only come from him which money can’t buy – like peace and love and purpose.

God tells us in Ezekiel 24 that he is planning ‘showers of blessings’ for his sheep, for his people.  I imagine my Abba Father in heaven  looking through his huge warehouses of great stuff  as he plans to bless me saying, “Oh, I’ll give her that – it will help her balance all the priorities in her life.

“And that!  She has no idea how much peace that’s going to bring into her days.

“And – in the middle of all that – I have some very special surprises for her.  Their  names are Micah, Eden and Sydney (my grand darlings) and they will bring her much joy and happiness.”

Thank you so much, Abba Father, for the blessings that you shower down on us.  Please give us what you want us to have because you always know what’s best for us.  We love you.

 

Accountable

I hear them.

I read them.

I study them.

I even memorize them.

God speaks into my heart and mind as I do all of these things with his Word to me.  I know his truth and I am accountable for it.

God expects me to respond.  Obey.  Let him change my thinking and change my actions.

God tells us this as he speaks to Ezekiel, “My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice.

God expects me to put his word into practice.

God expects that his words to you will be evident in your life.

We are accountable because we have read and we have heard.

Dear Father, Thank you for your Word to us.  Thank you for revealing your truth to us.  Please help us put your Word into practice in our lives.  Mold us and renew us, Father.  Convict us, Holy Spirit, when we fall short.  Open our eyes.  Open our hearts.  In the awesome name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Troubled Times

So many problems.

Surrounded on all sides by pieces of our broken hearts.

Bent under a burden of grief.

Confused and disillusioned.

Our dark days on this earth are many.  The writer of Lamentations joins us in making a long list of the trials and issues around him.  Then – right in the middle of the mess – he writes some of the most well-known words in the Bible.  Here is a 2018 version:

Because of the LORD’s great love for us, our pain and problems do not consume us.

God’s compassion for us is renewed every morning.

Great is your faithfulness, Father.

My faith, my hope and my joy is found in my Father God.  He is always beside me.  I trust him to provide the strength and wisdom I need each day.

He is a good, good father to all of us who seek him.  Those who walk closely with him will find peace and grace.

Great is your faithfulness,  Abba Father.

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Standing in the Gap

Our country is going crazy, right?

It’s frustrating.

It makes us angry,

bitter,

and disillusioned.

So – what am I doing about it?  What are you doing about it?

Are we too busy just talking about it and shaking our heads?  Are we spouting off negativity to everyone around us and filling Facebook with our rants?

Or are we doing something positive to help turn the trend one small step at a time?

When Israel was going down the tubes thousands of years ago, God told Ezekiel that he was looking for someone – anyone – who would build a wall against the injustice that was happening.  A wall that would keep out the lies and oppression.

God was looking for someone to stand in the gap before him on behalf of the Israelite people.  “But I found no one.”

Is this same thing happening today?  Is it all just talk?  Or are you and I figuring out how to do our part in standing in the gap for our country?

Let’s pray daily for our country.

Let’s put feet on the ground and work together to help turn our country back into the land which was founded with “In God We Trust”.

Please help each of us start a ripple that will become a bigger and bigger wave as we all join in the movement to turn our country back to you, Abba Father.  Nothing is impossible for you.

Restored

Forgiven

Made new.

I’ve made mistakes.  You’ve made mistakes.  We have all messed up – ending up dealing with some degree of mud and pain as consequences.

I had a period of my life where I wandered very far away from God.  When I realized how lost I had become, all I wanted to do is go back.

Be restored.

Be forgiven.

Be renewed.

The really awesome news for all of us is that God is the creator of second chances.  He stands ready with third, fourth, and more chances – how many do I need?  The only answer I have to that is ‘more’.

God promises us in Ezekiel 11 that, when we turn back to him, he will give us a new perspective.  He will change us from the inside out – starting with our hearts.  He will open our hearts so we can feel the peace and joy only he can give.  When we focus on loving God and loving others, we will experience all the blessings that come from a good, good Father.

Do you want to be restored?

He’s waiting.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

Fill It Up!

“The cloud filled the temple and the court was full of the radiance of the glory of the LORD.”

This was one part of a vision that God have to Ezekiel and I love visualizing this when I’m in a worship service where something annointed is happening.  The church family I was a part of before our last move gave a simple explanation of the Great News at the end of each teaching and then invited anyone who had not accepted God’s gift of grace to do it that day.  I love this because I think too many churches assume everyone who is sitting in the pew is a Christ-follower.

During the prayer that always followed their invitation, I got into the habit of watching in my mind as the Spirit of God filled the room.  This huge cloud of grace and love and goodness would roll in over our heads, filling the space and hanging there – crowding out worries and disbelief and regrets – blessing us with the glory of God’s radiance.

I know God is with us all the time but I got goosebumps when I visualized the cloud of God’s spirit billowing in and changing people’s lives – redeeming them from their past mistakes and giving them a light for their futures.

Thank you for filling our lives with your grace and love, Abba.   You are a good, good Father.

Attacking the Mountains

Ezekiel prophesied that God was going to ‘bring a sword’ against the mountains.  God was planning to destroy the high places where the Israelites worshipped other gods.  He was going to smash the altars they used when they made sacrifices to their pagan gods.  Their idols would be demolished – everything would be wiped out.

God had clearly told the Israelites many times through several prophets to get rid of their idols and take down the high places once and for all.  They hadn’t done it so God was now going to let the Babylonians do it for them.

God was attacking the mountains because they wouldn’t.

How does this relate to my life?

Is there anything that God has told me to get rid of in my life that I haven’t done?  Has God been telling me to change any of my priorities?  Are there places or people or things that I care about more than I care about God?  Because – whatever they are – those would be my idols.  That would be my high place.

There was a time in my life when God pointed out an idol I had – it was my career.  In the middle of a Women’s Bible study, he whispered into my ear that I was on the wrong path.

Honestly, my first reaction was anger.  How could I possibly be on the wrong path?  My family and I went to church regularly, I was in the church choir and volunteered in many different areas at church.  I was a good person who worked hard.  How could this possibly be the wrong path?

But – in my heart – I knew exactly what God was saying.  My career goals had become too important to me and my priorities needed to change.  I didn’t stay angry very long because the truth was very evident in my life when I took some time to think it through.

I am very grateful that God identified that issue for me so many years ago because I changed my thinking and adjusted my priorities which put me on the right path – next to my Father God.  I still had a great career from which I recently retired but it no longer was more important to me than God was in my life.

As I read God’s message in Ezekiel, I can imagine that, if I had not responded to his whisper, God would have eventually ‘attacked’ my career in order to get my attention and motivate me to change.  I”m glad it never got to that point.

I need to listen closely to God’s whispers.

So do you.  Has he whispered anything to you lately?

Please open our ears, Abba Father.