Where Are You God?

 

We have all had times when God seemed so far away. Those are the times when life seems to be throwing everything it can at us and we feel like we just can’t get a break! The Bible tells us though that God never leaves us, never forsakes us, and He is always right beside us! Isaiah 57:15 says, “For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (NASB)

For me, that time came when my first husband had two strokes and was in a nursing home until God took him home. I felt like God had abandoned me right when I needed to feel Him close to me. In my head I knew He was there, but in my spirit, it felt like I was facing this trial all alone. The days were so hard. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and months turned into years. Anyone who has gone through being a caregiver understands how one could feel like they are fighting the battle all alone.

But God never abandoned me, no matter how it felt. He was right there. I can look back now and see His Hand in what was going on. He took care of me by placing people in my pathway to help me, especially with my finances. He placed me in a loving church that went out of their way to make sure I was doing ok. People would slip money in my pocket without my knowing, anytime I needed to vent He brought me a friend who would let me unload on her when I was so stressed I couldn’t see straight. When my washer and dryer went on the fritz, people from my church helped me get new appliances. Everywhere I turned someone was there right at the time I needed help.

God was also there when I would cry out to Him to fix this, to heal my husband, to bring me some peace, to help with the loneliness as I sat in an empty house. Even in the depths of my depression He was there. It got to the point where I wouldn’t even open the drapes in my living room, because I couldn’t see anything but darkness and couldn’t even let sunshine in my house.

He did answer my prayers, maybe not in the way I would have wanted, but they were answered. My husband did get his healing ultimately with his death. God was my husband through it all, taking care of me and healing me from the inside out. My emotions were raw, and little by little He would wrap me up in His arms and let me cry on His shoulder. He kept me from going into a financial sinkhole by providing the help of a good friend from my church. Eventually, He opened my heart enough to allow me to find love again and brought me an awesome husband. Now God guides us both in the good times just like He did in the bad times.

I love the part of the verse that says He revives “the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the contrite.” That’s exactly what it felt like. He was reviving me from the inside out. I had felt so dead for so long and as He was healing me, life started blooming again in my heart. I had been in the valley and He began leading me toward the mountain top.

Today, life is much brighter, I have a wonderful husband who loves the Lord just as much as I do, our goals of ministry are aligned, and we are enjoying this time of sunshine in our lives. We both look toward the future with a new perspective, anticipating whatever God has for us and trusting Him no matter what may come.

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Well Done Billy!

Matt2521On February 21, 2018 the world said goodbye to a legend of the Christian faith. Dr. Billy Graham went home to be with his Lord to hear the well-deserved words, “Well done faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matthew 25:21 KJV)

Billy Graham’s life and death impacted many people, either directly or indirectly. In my life, indirectly. My father was saved when I was two years old and my mother got saved shortly after that. From that moment on, every time Billy Graham had a crusade that aired on television, my parents would watch the crusade. I remember as a little girl sitting in front of the TV listening to the many sermons Billy preached and listening to the magnificent voices of George Beverly Shea, Cliff Barrows, and the Crusade choir.

When I was in college, my family had the opportunity to be a part of one of Leighton Ford’s (Billy’s brother-in-law) crusades as part of the crusade choir. On the final night of the crusade Billy came to preach. Unfortunately, I had to work that night and so I missed being able to hear him in person. But singing in the choir was such an awesome experience! I had never been a part of something so massive. It’s a great memory.

When I got married, my husband was the chief engineer for a number of Christian radio and television stations. After we followed my brother and parents in a move to Montana, my folks were a part of a committee to bring Franklin Graham (Billy’s son) to our city for a crusade. They were part of the planning committee and made contact with all of the churches and did a lot of the leg work needed before the crusade came to town. My husband and I, brother, sister-in-law, and parents also sang in the crusade choir. I became one of the counselors to pray with people who came forward to receive salvation. It was an awesome experience, and one I treasure in my heart.

Billy Graham will go down in history as being one of the most influential people to impact the world. His life and messages reflected the love and dedication he had for Jesus Christ, and he spent his life’s work proclaiming the Gospel to anyone who would listen. Millions of people have come to faith in Christ through Billy’s ministry. He was a man who lived his life above reproach. No one could ever accuse him of not living out his faith in front of them. His was a life that was scandal free. He lived what he preached. Jesus was Billy’s best friend, Savior, Lord, and Master, and he wanted everyone to know it.

My heart is sad because he will be greatly missed, but I also rejoice in the fact that Billy Graham is home. He will no longer have to deal with the frailties of this life, and he is now in the presence of the God who loved Billy so much that He gave His Only Son to die on a cross for the world, including Billy Graham.

The world is saying goodbye to a great leader of the Faith, and our hearts are heavy because if we ever needed a man like Billy Graham to point the way to Jesus, it is now. As the Bible has prophesied, the world is becoming worse. Evil is running rampant, and the only solution is Jesus. God has told us in His Word that Jesus is coming back to take His Church away, and we must be ready. In Biblical prophecy, that is the only thing left to happen in the Biblical timeline. Jesus is coming back for those who have committed their lives to Him and will take us to live with Him forever.

If you have never accepted Jesus into your heart and life, do it today. The Bible says we do not know the day or the hour when He will return. When He comes to Rapture the Church away, it will be too late. Jesus loves you and He wants you to be part of His family. Turn your heart to Him, repent of your sins, ask Him to forgive you and wash you clean. Then promise to live for Him the rest of your life, endeavoring to follow Him and make Him Lord, Master, and Savior. When you do that, Jesus brings peace to your heart and soul, and a joy that cannot be explained, and that the world cannot give.

When Your Heart Hurts

Within the last two months there have been two school shootings that I’ve heard of. Some news outlets are saying that there have been 18 school shootings since the beginning of 2018, however; that figure is being disputed as inaccurate. The latest one was on Valentine’s Day, of all things. It has taken me a couple of days to process this all, as the latest one was only two days ago. The one last month occurred not far from where I live, about an hour and a half away. This region has been rocked to its very core. Two students died at the hands of another student, and the shooting recently took 17 lives by a former student. These were high schools. Parents and whole communities are being rocked by the violence being inflicted on our children.

I never was able to give birth or adopt, however; I am a step-parent and grandparent, and it gives me such joy to be able to say that. Even though those kids and grandkids are not of my own blood, I love them as if I raised them myself, and I would be absolutely insane at the thought of any one of them being hurt or killed by another person.

Once again, the debate over gun control is raging as everyone from politicians to parents are screaming for something to be done. I usually don’t get involved in political debates, however; this time I feel I must put in my “two cents worth.”

I lived in a state for 10 years that is very much pro-gun. There are a lot of hunters, and as you drive down the road, it’s nothing to see a pickup truck with a gun rack in the back window with guns on it. I’ve also lived in a state where that was not allowed. What I discovered was, there was less gun violence in the pro-gun state than in the, for lack of a better phrase, anti-gun state. I’m not going to go into the pros and cons of gun ownership, just let me say, I’ve never seen a gun shoot itself. The problem isn’t with the gun, it’s with the hearts of those who engage in gun violence.

Romans 1:28 sounds like our society today, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” (KJV) The New American Standard Bible puts it this way, “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind to do those things which are not proper.”

I believe we can trace the beginning of this time of violence and flagrant disregard for others, back to the day that prayer and the Ten Commandments being displayed in school was banned. At that point, our society basically said, “We don’t need God.” The whole separation of church and state thing is being totally misinterpreted. There no longer is discipline in our schools, parents are afraid to physically discipline their children for fear that DCFS will come swooping in and take their children away, and in the meantime, our children are suffering because of all of this. They no longer know the Bible stories the people of my generation all knew well, because they have never stepped foot in a church. They don’t know that they can have a friend in Jesus who can help them when they are confused and hurt. The children grow up with a sense of entitlement because no one has ever told them, “no,” and therefore they go out into the world believing the world owes them. When they don’t get what they want they throw a hissy fit in various ways.

Granted, this is not the only issue plaguing us. There are a small minority who seriously have mental issues, and the community sort of throws up their hands and says, “We don’t know what to do with these folks” and hand out pills that may not alleviate the situation. Notice, I said may not. In a vast portion of people, the medication does work. However, not all, and there are so many variables in how to help them.

I believe that mostly our problems today stem from the fact that our country has rejected God, and so God has finally said, “OK, if that’s what you want, have at it” and He has taken His hands off of us, and we are left with the situation we have today.

From where I stand, the only solution to resolving this problem, is for our country to get on its knees, repent, and turn its heart back to God. America needs an attitude adjustment! The Bible gives us the solution in II Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” It is time we, as a country, get on our knees and beg for God’s forgiveness for our rebellion.

Through all of this, God sees what is happening. He sees the violence, He sees those whose lives have been snuffed out at the hands of another, He sees the hurt, anger, sorrow, and grief of those left behind. Psalm 86:15 says, “But thou, O Lord, are a God of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” (KJV) God’s heart breaks at all of the suffering we endure. His heart also breaks because we refuse to hearken to His voice and follow His leading. Jesus demonstrated His compassion when He looked over Jerusalem. Luke 19:41-42 says, “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes.” (KJV) Jesus was saddened that the people refused to see who He was or listen to His teaching. They rejected Him. Matthew recorded it like this. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wing, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37 KJV)

God today is looking down on us and lamenting the disobedience, rebellion, hatred, and refusal to come to Him and weeping. His heart is broken!

Those who have lost loved ones in these tragedies, please know that God knows exactly how you feel. You see, He experienced the sorrow of seeing His Son be sacrificed on the cross. God knows your heart is breaking, He knows the pain you are suffering, and He longs to take you in His arms and hold you tight. He also longs to draw you to Himself and wants you to become His child. If you would surrender your heart to Him, ask for His forgiveness, and make Him Lord, Master, and Savior of your life, you will have peace in your heart like nothing you have ever experienced. The Bible says, “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:2b KJV) Accept Jesus into your life now, you will never regret it!