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.

 

I Know

I have read.

And studied.

And memorized God’s word.

I know about God’s relationship with humans since the beginning and I understand the promises he has made to those who trust in him for our future.

I know that God has been very clear that my first priority is to love God and love others.  Period.  End of story.  Everything in this world fits into one of those two categories.

So I know.

I know what God wants me to do today – and tomorrow.  I know how God wants me to act.

God reminds me as I read Daniel’s discussion with King Belshazzar that I know all these things and God expects me to let his truth change how I think, what I say and how I act.

Daniel told the King the he knew all about God but the King did not honor “the God who holds in his hand your life and all of your ways.”  As a result – that very night – the king was killed.

I know all about God as well.  And I need to let God transform me and my life through this knowledge.  This is not a Christmas and Easter or just Sunday thing.  God’s truth should to be evident in my life today – and every day.

Because I know.

Please transform me through your truth, Abba Father.

The Plan is Unfolding

And I have to wait for it.

God reveals one step of the plan at a time.  He knows the whole plan but he also knows that I can only handle one step at a time.  He knows you and he knows you can only handle one step at a time.

So my job is discern the small part of the plan that God has revealed to me today and do that.

While trusting him about tomorrow.

In Psalm 106, God tells us that the Israelites did not wait for his plan to unfold in the wilderness as they journeyed to the Promised Land.  They gave into grumbling and complaining.  They tested God by craving other things and he gave them what they asked for.  Their choices brought pain and death.

They did not wait and watch.  They did not obey and do what God had told them to do today.

Waiting isn’t easy.

Being obedient with the things he has told me to do today without worrying about tomorrow is not easy.

Trusting him with it all is not easy.

That’s why I need to focus.  I need to persevere.  All of my energy and concern needs to be used in being obedient today – knowing God’s got tomorrow and he will reveal the next step when its the right time.

God never promised me that this journey would be easy.  But he has promised that he is always beside me giving me strength and wisdom and peace as I wait for the rest of his plan to unfold.

I trust you, Abba Father. 

Where Is It?

Where can I find it?

Where can you find it?

Wisdom.  Understanding.

I could spend a lifetime searching for wisdom – trying to understand.

But I would never find it.  Because I’m not going to find it on TV or the Internet.  Twitter and Facebook will not help me grow wise.  Human knowledge does not bring wisdom.

God tells us through Job – “No mortal comprehends it’s (wisdom) worth, it cannot be found in the land of the living.”

S0 – where do wisdom and understanding come from?

“God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells”.

And God tells us, “The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom and to shun evil is understanding.”

This fear means to respect God and submit to his will.

Respecting God and obeying him makes me wise.  Turning away from evil and avoiding it brings me understanding.  I don’t have to look any farther than my relationship with God to find wisdom and understanding.

I love how clearly God speaks about these very important items…..

when I’m listening.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Call It What is Is

I see it.

I know you see it.

But do we call it what it is?

It’s the evil that Satan is wreaking upon our world as he is ‘roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it’.  This was Satan’s answer to God in the beginning of Job when God asked Satan where he had come from.

Satan is still roaming the earth, going back and forth on it – creating havoc.  Just watch the news one time and you’ll see all of the publicity Satan is getting as he spreads his evil and hatred over the world.

I don’t understand why people get mad at God when bad things happen – that’s what Satan is doing.

All day, every day.

Why don’t they get mad at Satan?  We need to call it what it is.  Call it WHO it is.  Satan loves it when someone gets mad at God for something he did.  He won that round!

Satan is working very hard to distract us having a relationship with God.  He draws our attention to things that would normally be ‘good’ but then they take all of our time so we have none ‘left over’ for God.

Satan can win the battle using good things – as long as they distract us from God.

When Adam and Eve sinned, they gave Evil a role in our world.  When we sin, we give Evil a personal role in our lives.  Yes, God is in control.  But we choose to sin.  And, as we sin, we give Evil more power as He roams the earth, going back and forth on it.

So let’s not be distracted by Satan.

Let’s not listen to Satan’s lies and his twisted half-truths.

Let us focus our eyes on God who has already won the war.  It is finished.

And let’s call the evil and the pain and the hatred in our world what it is – it’s the work of Satan.

Please help us win our daily battles with Satan,  Abba Father.

Ezekiel 36, 2017

I have been separated from the crowd and I am set apart.

God has sprinkled water on me, making me clean –

from my rebellion,

from my blindness to his truth,

from my sins.

He has given me a new heart and he has put a new spirit inside me.  He has removed my stubborn heart of stone and has given me a soft, open heart.

His spirit within me moves me to want to please him and accomplish the plans he has for me.  He has a purpose for me.

He is my God.  He has saved me from myself.

Thank you, Abba Father.

This is How….

I’ve always done it.

This is how I was taught.

My parents and my family have always done it this way.

Do you hear these things coming out of your mouth?  Thoughts like this pop into my brain but I try not to say them out loud because – everything changes.  God is a God of change.  Things are constantly evolving, changing.

My God is a God of transformation.

He is renewing my brain, opening my heart and growing my perspective and understanding.  I need to change.  I have missed God’s work in my life if I do things the way I’ve always done them.  If I act like I’ve always acted, it means I’m not letting God’s spirit move inside of me.

God told the Israelites through Jeremiah that they needed to change.  They needed to put away their idols and turn back to the One True God.

The people responded that they were going to continue to worship idols ‘ just as we and our ancestors’ did.

God was giving them a chance to turn back from disaster and they chose to continue traditions and habits that were going to destroy them.  They refused to obey.

They refused to change.  And the consequences were devastating.

Please open our ears so we will listen and obey, Abba Father.