Author Archives: lynwake

Week 51 – BE Held!

 

This week’s chapter in Heartbreakingly Beautiful came from a place deep within me that I had no desire to share. I still feel very raw about this particular period of the journey and it all feels intensely personal. I am trusting God to use this vulnerability to help at least one more soul going through the same kind of torture.

This was the day in my life when sheer darkness enveloped my soul and only by the grace of God did I come through it. I could hold onto God no longer, and for a time didn’t even want to. But I know now that He was still holding onto me and as I accepted His loving embrace, oh the rays of light He has shed to reveal what was really going on during this time!

But as you read through this week’s devotional, please know that at the time, I did not feel God holding me. In fact, I felt utterly cold and abandoned that horrible day. I had a great need to BE Held, but just sat in the corner pushing every form of physical, emotional and spiritual comfort away.

There are times in your life when nothing else will do but a great big hug! Psychologists tell us that we actually need hugs to survive and thrive in life. When the pain is so intense and words do not suffice, our human being (made up of body, soul and spirit) has a desperate craving to BE Held. We may have the blessing of people in our lives who can hold us for a while, protecting like a father or comforting like a mother as we weep, rock and moan in our suffering. But much more than this, our very spirits need to BE Held and there is only One who has the right to hold and can actually fulfill this need properly. The Word of God clearly tells us that God, our Creator, is holding us as Father, Mother, Brother, Rescuer and Friend throughout all our trials. Here is just one gem and perhaps you can find some more…

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!” Deut 33:27

Thank you Lord that in spite of, and through all my dark feelings, you were with us – You are with us!  Your hold is tender, firm, secure and never-ending!

There is a great difference between someone carrying a sack of potatoes and carrying a precious child. I am so grateful that our Father not only carries us, but that He also holds us close to His heart. When we think of being carried by the Father or being carried Home by Jesus, we need to imagine ourselves being held very close to His chest, not at arms length. Babies and children who trust their parents will nestle in, relax in the carrying and allow the whole embrace and presence of the parent to envelop them.

This week, yet another family connected to ours has had to say ‘goodbye for now’ to a precious loved one. While they have full assurance that Mum is with God now and that her suffering is over, they are hurting bad – as you may be too. Yes, they too are being held and carried by Jesus through this dark valley, just as we were. But it is often very hard to have a sense of His arms around us when the pain is so intense. My prayer for them is that they will be aware that they are held in His love and grace. May they choose to nestle into His strong arms and cry on His broad shoulders through their days of sorrow.

At the end of the road, there is One who desires and is able to carry us through. His loving arms are open.  Receive His embrace, hop on His lap and BE Held dear ones, just BE Held.

Songs to encourage you:

Be Held by Casting Crowns

Held by Natalie Grant

He Will Carry Me by Mark Schultz

I Was Carried by Roma Waterman

 

Footprints in the Sand:

One night I had a dream…

I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and
 across the sky flashed scenes from my life. 
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; 
 One belonged to me, and the other to the Lord. 
When the last scene of my life flashed before us, 
 I looked back at the footprints in the sand. 
 I noticed that many times along the path of my life, 
 there was only one set of footprints. 
 I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life. 
This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, 
 You would walk with me all the way; 
 but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, 
 there is only one set of footprints. 
 I don’t understand why in times when I
 needed you the most, you should leave me.”
 The Lord replied, “My precious, precious
 child. I love you, and I would never, 
 never leave you during your times of 
trial and suffering. 
 When you saw only one set of footprints, 
 it was then that I carried you.” Author unknown

Week 50 – BE a Pure, Radiant and Joyful Bride!

“I delight greatly in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

This week’s chapter in Heartbreakingly Beautiful belongs to Beth’s Daddy. He was able to lead her to the threshold of her Eternal Home and take her down the aisle to hand her to her Bridegroom Jesus.

Our wonderful son is recently engaged to be married and so weddings are on my mind quite a bit at the moment. Oh how our Beth dreamed of being a bride one day! I grieve that I will not see the fulfillment of this dream here on earth. But the Lord has comforted my heart through His Word, yet again, in this matter too. Our Beth is not going to miss out on being a bride – no way! Bible teacher Beth Moore teaches us more about what it means to be the Bride of Christ in her powerful Bible Study, Breaking Free. She comments that every little girl has at least four dreams and I tend to agree with her because they are the same dreams I had as a little girl, and they are the same dreams that Beth and my other girls share:

(1) To be a bride; (2) To be beautiful; (3) To be fruitful (which we usually define as having children); (4) To live happily ever after. Pretty basic hey! (The dreams little boys have tend to be more along the lines of being warriors and saving the princesses – but you get the picture J)

If we capture the truth in our imaginations that we are eternally youthful, beautiful, fresh, fruitful brides in Christ’s eyes, everything changes! This is the very thing the enemy of our souls does not want us to understand. If we grasp this fact, then we will live life differently. We will live our lives with great expectation and spend it in preparing ourselves to be ready to meet the One our hearts truly long for: Jesus Christ face-to-face, embrace-to-embrace.

This week’s Bible passage in Revelation is one that shows us that all these bridal dreams will be met in Christ. And what amazing things our Bridegroom has in store for His beloved bride! He even comes to rescue us on a white horse! (See Revelation 19:11.) Hey, where do you think they get the raw material from for all those fairy tales if not from the resounding echo of the true story and the aching eternity in our hearts? Friends, it is planted deep within us – ALL of us long for ‘happily ever after’ and to live in the realm of great beauty and perfection – loved, cherished and fruitful forever! Yes, thank you Lord that all of Bethany Joy’s dreams, and mine, will be fulfilled in greater measure than we can currently see.

David and I have just celebrated 25 years of marriage and we are so grateful for the rich blessing of our union. We are fortunate to say that we have a ‘good’ marriage. Not perfect, but very good. But through all that has happened, even our very good marriage is not enough to satisfy and take away all the pain. I am not being ungrateful here. I am just saying that if you currently desire to be in a marriage relationship, or are living with a difficult one, it is easy to think that all of life’s problems will be solved through a good marriage. However, if you do venture down that path, then you are in for a disappointment.  Remember, all good marriages are a mere reflection of the real one – that between Christ and all who love Him.

So in the midst of all life situations, we would be wise to keep our hearts pure, waiting in wonder for the consummation of our eternal union with Jesus Christ. It is only by placing ourselves under His cleansing blood that all our filth can be covered. In Him, we can indeed BE Pure, Radiant and Joyful Brides – a reality we can live in right now, even while we wait.

To finish, here is a bit more biblical bridal imagery for you to ponder this week…

“The bride, a princess, looks glorious in her golden gown. In her beautiful robes, she is led to the king, accompanied by her bridesmaids. What a joyful and enthusiastic procession as they enter the king’s palace!” Psalm 45:13-15

The Parable of the Ten Virgins:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+25

Songs to encourage you:

Come Away With Me by Jesus Culture

Coming To Take You Away by Kerrie Roberts

Beloved by Kari Jobe

Walking Her Home by Mark Schultz

As a young teenager, Bethany came to love the songs of Mark Schultz, a talented American songwriter. Mark’s songs weave poignant, inspirational stories that tend to bring a lump to the throat of even the bravest warrior!  Beth’s favorite song was called Walking Her Home.  It speaks of the beauty of an earthly marriage and much more. I realized that Beth understood the song’s significance when we were traveling in the car one day, just before she fell ill. I turned around to see her sitting in the back seat listening to this song with tears streaming down her face. Little did she know then that she would soon meet her beloved Jesus and need Daddy to walk her Home.

A book to build you up:

His Princess Bride by Sheri Rose Shepherd

A little more inspiration:

In the weeks after the Christmas of 2010, we read aloud to Beth from her ‘life journal’. This was a little notebook where I had recorded all of her significant life events, including lots of funny things she had said and done. I had intended to give her this keepsake on the day she left home to start her own family. Now instead, David and I read it to her to help prepare her for her real departing and Homecoming.  It was a painful experience, but the exercise also brought a lot of laughs as we remembered our funny, outgoing ‘Bethy to the Max’!

The other children were usually with us as we read and we are so grateful that we had the opportunity to remember the good times together in this way. After advice from the doctors that her hearing was not yet affected by the disease and by witnessing small responses from her, we were confident that Beth heard all the love we spoke into her life during this time.  She was loved and knew she was loved – what a gift! Maybe you could think about recording significant life events for you and your loved ones in some way. Journaling works well for me, but maybe music, photos, video or arts and crafts are your thing?  Ask the Lord to help you create records of special memories in ways that are not burdensome to you. It is important to be able to recall and enjoy all He has done while blessing others in the process!

Week 49 – BE Quenched with Living Water!

 

We are drawing to the end of our journey together in Heartbreakingly Beautiful. Over those last weeks of her life, Beth lost all ability to move any part of her body. So in order to change her clothing, we needed at least three people to roll her, hold her and care for her needs. As her mum, I could no longer bear changing her ‘nappies’ and hearing her painful moaning during the process. It was around that time that a couple of close friends came to my rescue and took over for me. David managed Beth’s personal care with the help of those treasured friends, and I am forever grateful for the care they gave my girl at a time when I no longer could. Those girlfriends who helped were deeply affected seeing Beth in her miserable plight, yet I know they cherished her and wanted to care for her while protecting me at the same time. Girls, the Lord saw all you did and your reward is great!

While we were living through Beth’s horrendous ordeal, the concept of any kind of  ‘good’ coming from that miserable time seemed absolutely impossible!  However, in the time that has followed since her suffering and death, David & I have come to recognize that God is using aspects of Beth’s life as a kind of metaphor to teach other seeking people some eternal, Kingdom of Heaven principles.

For instance, this week’s lesson on what it means to spiritually thirst. Have you enjoyed the sea theme of the book? The theme is not just for visual affect. It has been our hope and prayer that going deeper into Beth’s story has made you thirsty for much more than this temporary life can offer. Many have prayed over Heartbreakingly Beautiful that it would be ‘salty’ and make people thirsty for the righteousness of God and the abundant life He offers. Beth’s life ‘tasted’ different. She did not follow the flavor of the world in the way she lived and died. Indeed, in and through all her imperfections and trials, she was the ‘salt and light’ Jesus asked her to be and because of her testimony, many are praising God. (See Matthew 5:13-16.)  Yes, many thirsty souls are learning what it means to BE Quenched with Living Water.

Jesus says this in Matthew 5:6… “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” What are you thirsty for at the moment? I have learned that not all of my thirst needs to be quenched in the way I think it does. Maybe what we think we are thirsty for is not really what we actually need. Jesus Christ, the Living Water of God, offers to quench our deep, inner thirst like nothing else can. He invites us to come and drink from His well of life that flows like a never-ending fountain!

But sadly, I still take visits to other wells, other places of temporary refreshment in order to try to quench my inner thirst. Going to the Living Water takes discipline and the route to get to the well of Jesus usually involves such work as forgiveness, repentance, swallowing pride and moving through the cloud of negative feelings, etc. So, sometimes I try to take short cuts and drink from the ‘stagnant pools’ and ‘dirty cups’ I find along the way. Sources of ‘dead water’ that are readily found without me doing the hard miles. I get lazy and tired. Oh Lord help me learn once and for all that there is only one true Fount that can satisfy and that You are worth crawling over the hot, dry, rocky dessert to get to. You Lord are worth every single, painstaking step to the Source at the top of the mountain – please help me!

It seems from scripture that God’s people have always had the tendency to try to take short cuts in the dessert. We seem to be born with the inclination to be drawn to lesser things to satisfy our thirst. The prophet Jeremiah addressed these matters of the heart…

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13

“Those who turn away from you LORD will be written in the dust because they have forsaken you, the spring of living water.” Jeremiah 17:13b

Why do we keep drinking in the wrong places? I believe the answer is not too far away but alludes many. Those of us who have by faith embraced Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour have received eternal life as a free gift – wow! But as Bible teacher Beth Moore puts it, “We freely receive salvation, but we have to seek satisfaction.” The gift of salvation in Christ does not mean that all our needs are automatically satisfied in Him. Yes, the salvation is totally free, but the working out of that salvation and finding true satisfaction in Christ will cost us absolutely everything!

The truth is, we want the satisfaction part for free too, but it does not work that way. Jesus Christ, the Living Water of God wants to come and fill every single crevice of our parched lives. He invites us to dive down deep into Him where we can be completely satisfied and have our thirst totally extinguished. But all of this does not just happen. There are daily choices to make here. There will be some work to do. In order to BE Quenched with Living Water, you and I are going to have to make some tough decisions. Choosing the high road to travel to the living well, the fountain of Jesus, takes a truckload of courage and some determined intentionality! Let’s lock arms and take the journey together – it will be so worth it!

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters… “ Isaiah 55:1

Are you not thirsty? said the Lion.

I am dying of thirst, said Jill.

Then drink, said the Lion.

I could but would you mind going away while I do? said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.

The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

Will you promise not to do anything to me, if I do come? said Jill.

I make no promise, said the Lion.

Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.

Do you eat girls? she said.

I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms, said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

I dare not come and drink, said Jill

Then you will die of thirst, said the Lion.

Oh dear, said Jill, coming another step nearer. I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.

There is no other stream, said the Lion.

C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair

Songs to encourage you:

Come to The Well by Casting Crowns

Hurt and the Healer by MercyMe

A book to build you up:

Come Thirsty by Max Lucado

Week 48 – BE Patient!

 

While it seems apparent that waiting is a given in this shadowland life, by the grace of God we do have a choice in the midst of all our waiting. We wait for lots of things in life don’t we… the little problems and frustrations, the massive, life-changing matters and for everything else in-between. So if we have to wait, the big question is: “How will we wait?” Will we wait with fear, anger, doubt and impatience or learn from God Himself how to wait well? Will we choose to BE Patient and therefore grow in character in our all our waiting?

Learning how to wait well has been one of the key lessons God keeps teaching me as I grieve for Beth and one day I hope to share with you in more detail.  But this week, please join me in delving further into our verse of the week. It comes from one of my very favorite chapters in the Bible – Romans 8:24b-25

“Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

I am waiting on God for some pretty big stuff – as I suspect you are too. I don’t know about you, but the patience required to wait faithfully for all God has promised has often alluded me. So where does all this patience that is commanded come from? (Remember the command in Psalm 37? “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”)

Years ago, I remember a joke about patience and prayer that was going around. Do you recall the woman who supposedly said; “I earnestly prayed and sought God for patience – and He gave me twins!”  The expression ‘The patience of Job’ is often used when describing someone who has a great deal of patience throughout a trial. Our family uses another expression – ‘The patience of Valerie’. (Valerie is a lady who showed our family extreme kindness and patience, a dear lady who has nursed her severely disabled daughter for 22 years.)

From what we could observe, Bethany waited well and was very patient throughout her ordeal. As her mum I know that this was not a natural trait she was born with, but one granted to her supernaturally and developed in her by the Holy Spirit of the Living God.

I am sure you have already guessed the common link that ties these people together – the secret of their virtue of enduring patience.

Our brother, the Apostle Paul, says it best…

“…but we rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance (patience), and perseverance (patience) produces character, and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:3-5

How did all these people attain the patience they needed not only to endure their trials, but also grow in Christ-like character? They waited on God in the very midst of all their suffering for His very power and the gifts they needed in order to wait well. They even rejoiced in their sufferings and let suffering do its work because they knew eventually these trials were going to lead to amazing good!

Patience is a gift of the Holy Spirit, one of the fruits of the Spirit that our loving Father has poured into our hearts when we are united with Jesus Christ. (See Galatians 5:22.) But like any spiritual gift, the gift of patience needs to be exercised and put into practice. Friends, being patient and waiting on God to fulfill His promises cannot be done without His enabling. Yes, it is our choice whether or not to wait on the Lord, trust His character and thus open up the way for Him to give us what we need. But never forget that it is all initiated and fulfilled by Him. Our waiting draws out in us the kind of faith that is pleasing to Him. This then leads to a transformation of our character to become just like His Son. But it all begins with the unconditional, everlasting love of God that we are invited to partake in. If your head is spinning around with these concepts, it helps me to think of it like a circular equation…

THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST + WAITING ON HIM IN TRIAL = THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT POURED OUT (INCLUDING THE VIRTUE OF PATIENCE) -> TRANSFORMATION OF CHARACTER ->JOY AND HOPE ->WAITING ON GOD AND EXPERIENCING HIS LOVE POURED OUT AGAIN AND AGAIN…

When we are SO tired of waiting and our hope is waning, may God in His love and mercy empower us to BE Patient through all kind of suffering. May He help us to join with His waiting heart in the shadowlands. Remember that He came to us physically and experienced the depths of the shadowlands so that He could take us by the hand and lead us safely Home! Let the ache in our hearts for Him (the ‘godly impatience’ we now experience, which is an echo of His ache for us) beckon us Home. Hear Jesus whisper to your broken heart today, “I have come for you, now hurry up and come to me My precious one – I can’t wait!”

A quote to inspire you:

“Why love if losing hurts so much? I have no answers any more. Only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I’ve been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.”

C.S. Lewis Shadowlands

Songs to encourage you:

Soon and Very Soon by Brooke Fraser

Wait by Sons of Korah

A book to build you up:

Shadowlands by C.S. Lewis

Week 47 – BE Helped and Ministered To!

 

This week in Heartbreakingly Beautiful I share some stories of a few of the special visitors Beth received in the last weeks of her life here with us. The story of the angelic visitor is something I contemplate often. Wow – it sure would have been great to see that angel in my girl’s room! But the Lord instead entrusted these glimpses to others. Other trusted people were eyewitnesses to these events and others. The Lord has given me the job to ponder these things in my heart and record them for you.

The usual visitors including family, friends and medical staff were constantly with us, but I was amazed at the new visitors God brought into our midst during the last stages. Although Beth could no longer communicate with us in words or by signs, her eyes sparkled with a knock on the door and we knew that she was still very keen for visitors. Taking the lead from her spirit of forgiveness, when friends came to visit her in these last stages (even friends who had not been there for her during the year) we welcomed them into our home. I admit this was not an easy thing for me to do. But as people came, I saw incredible healing happen in people’s hearts as they gathered around our girl. Some visitors came simply through curiosity and we had to closely guard Beth during those times. But most of the new visitors were those who had been afraid to come previously, especially if they had experienced the loss of a dear one in a similar fashion.

Such a variety of visitors graced our home – the very young and very old, families, orphans, widows, school staff and friends, distant relatives and even a group of God’s Squad bikers! To help protect Beth, a couple of dear friends acted as ‘guards’ to shield us from too many visitors.  (I am sure that guardian angel seen in her room was constantly hovering and shielding too!) We also set up ‘visiting hours’ to try to help control the influx. As far as I am aware, we only had to say no to one family who were living interstate and could not make it during the times we had set. To some of us in the house, the amount of visitors was totally overwhelming, but again God strengthened us. I am sure this time would have looked very different if Beth had been a shy introvert!

Beth had often prayed throughout the year that each visitor that came to bless her would be ‘doubly- blessed’ by God. We have no doubt that ‘double -blessings’ were poured all over the place as Beth’s room and very life became a sacred place. God used her like a magnet to draw hearts to Him, especially toward the end, and He continues to do so.

We have talked a lot about ‘pouring out’ and ‘giving offerings’ to the Lord lately, but the lesson I want us to take away this week is that while all this pouring out of blessing is wonderful, the Lord also wants us to be open to receiving the help we need. If we do indeed want to pour out our lives as a fragrant offering like we talked about last week, we need to be filled up by Him – again and again! Sometimes for a person who is a giver, it is very hard to ask for help. It is a difficult thing to BE Helped and Ministered To. Yet, we all need the very help of God Himself, through His Spirit within us, to be able to pour out love and give to anyone else.

I have said it before but it is worth repeating. I believe that the key to Beth’s fragrant offering – poured out for many – was her soft, surrendered heart. Yes, she had the desire to love, give and to bless the Lord and others in His name, but she knew that she was utterly powerless to do so on her own.  She asked the Lord for help and accepted all He had to offer her in her time of great distress.  Some of the help did not come as she had hoped, but her willingness to BE Helped and Ministered To by Him – in whatever way He chose to give her – is another marker of her life and one I am attempting to learn from. In her cry for help from the Lord, she accepted the help He offered her. She received all her visitors with love – the practical ones, the medical ones, the pastoral ones and the supernatural ones. Most of all, she received the visitation of God Himself deep into her being.

Friends, may our eyes be opened to all the ways the Lord wants to help us and minister to us right now. I know first hand that pain in its various forms can block us from seeing the help on offer. I also know that when anger and pride has hardened my heart, I am unable to receive His ministry. If you also have those kinds of blockages to receiving God’s visitation, turn back to Him and cry out again. Ask Him to open your eyes and soften your heart. Help is certainly there and He longs to bless your socks off!  BE Helped and Ministered To in everyway the Lord is offering you – this very moment!

David’s Email:

Gaylyn just shared with us quite an experience she had while looking after Bethy on Saturday night. As she was watching over Beth, she felt a presence of peace enter the room and when she looked up, there in the doorway was a very large and very bright angel. The angel’s head nearly touched the ceiling and the face was like a kind mother. Gaylyn says she has never seen the like of it before. She only saw this angel for a short time but was filled with such happiness and peace afterwards. It is a reminder to us that God is here and watching over us and helping us each step of the way. Thank you for your prayer for us all. David, February 2011

Songs to encourage you:

I Was Carried by Roma Waterman

Psalm 91 on your Heartbreakingly Beautiful CD

Books to build you up:

Heaven by Randy Alcorn

Heaven for Kids by Randy Alcorn

Week 46 BE A Fragrant Offering to God!

 

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2

What does your life smell like at the moment? Can people around you ‘smell’ something unpleasant, or can they sense a beauty emanating from your being? We certainly can cover nasty smells for a while by applying some deodorizing spray. But eventually, the cover fades and if the cause of the smell is not dealt with at the core, the odor eventually comes back in full force. What good news we have that in Christ, our rotten sin-stench has been dealt with right at the heart. Our transformed life in Him can now be like a fragrant perfume – an offering that pleases the Lord and invites others around us to participate in this abundant life as we imitate Him!

In practical terms, how can we  BE A Fragrant Offering to God?

You know, any offering we make to Jesus is a reflection of His offering poured out for us. If we are clean and smell good it is only because the stench of our sin has all been totally covered and absorbed by His precious blood, poured out as fragrant offering to God. So the secret to becoming a fragrant offering ourselves is to copy Christ in ever increasing ways. Like today’s verse tells us, LOVE is the key here – loving Him, others and ourselves in His name is the essence of our perfume! What matters most is faith expressing itself through love! (Galatians 5:6)

What if my offering is misunderstood or seems to go unnoticed?

Mary of Bethany, whom we refer to in this week’s devotion, has given us one of the most profound examples of what it looks like to pour out a fragrant offering to Christ. But to many people who witnessed Mary’s extravagant act of worship, her offering seemed like a complete waste. In the same way, some looking at Beth’s offering to Jesus could not see any beauty but only tragedy. I love this gem of a verse that I have discovered in the Old Testament. It illuminates for us what God plans to do with offerings poured out to him…

“All of us must eventually die. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him” (2 Samuel 14:14).

Rest assured that any life poured out as an offering to God is not going to be wasted and it is certainly not unnoticed by the only One who really matters. The pouring out will be costly and may not make sense to you or to anyone else at the time. It may even seem like a total waste. But be at peace. El Roi – the God who sees – will gather it up, spreading more blessing than you can imagine! (See our brother Paul’s example in 2 Timothy 4:6-8.)

Friends, in due time, others who are attuned to the sweet fragrance of Christ will get to ‘smell’ Him on you and be totally blessed. You know, the love (or lack of it) that we share around will be the ‘smell’ we will leave behind after we have departed this world – and it can linger for generations to come. So let us be filled with love, imitators of Christ in every way and follow the example of the many others who have left behind a lasting ‘Christ perfume’. If we do this, we will indeed BE A Fragrant Offering to God and to the world! And this stinky world sure needs it!

Inspiration for the journey:

Hey, if you are willing to ‘sniff around’ a bit, you can get a whiff of the perfume of the saints that still abides on the earth today. Many amazing testimonies serve as a sweet offering to the Saviour and a blessed example to us who are still on our way Home, still slogging through the smelly stuff. One perfume that still lingers strongly is that of Dr. David Livingstone, the great missionary to Africa. He once made this statement when asked about what he had sacrificed by following Christ and surrendering all to Him… “I have not sacrificed a thing!” To him, following Jesus did not seem like a sacrifice at all for the satisfaction and joy of fellowship with Jesus.

But there is even more we can smell out. In Mark 10:28-30 we read the account where Peter tells the Lord Jesus that they have left everything behind, giving up all to follow Him. He and the first disciples were wondering if it was all going to be worth it. Take a look at the Lord’s reply and I wonder if you can imagine the gleam in Jesus’ eyes like I can and smell the fresh air… “Yes Peter, it sure is going to be worth it!” Yes, one day Beth’s surrender and perfumed offering through such a heartbreaking trial will seem like no sacrifice at all! One day my surrendering through grief and the taking up of my cross will seem like nothing when I look upon the face of the One I love most and receive my reward. Yes, one day the pain of your poured-out, fragrant life will be worth it too. Take a deep breath and imagine… all injustices made right and made new. Reconciliation with our Heavenly Father and reunion with the precious ones who are with Him now. Ultimate joy, peace, purpose and rich love overflowing in abundant life that will extend throughout eternity. Imagine what it will be like to share our glorious inheritance together with Jesus Christ!  YES! It will be worth it in every possible way! Breathe it all in again… mmm… now that smells good!

Songs to encourage you:

Pour My Love on You By Phillips, Craig and Dean

At Your Feet by Casting Crowns

This is My Offering by Third Day

A book to build you up:

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Week 45 – BE Confident in the Sufficiency of Jesus Christ!

 

We are pondering questions this week and considering not only our own questions, but also the questions the Lord is asking of us. One question that continues to plague me is one I don’t voice out loud but my thoughts and actions seem to be forever asking this question … “Is Jesus Christ really enough to get me through this?” Amidst all the unanswerable questions we may be in the middle of asking, one thing I am certain of is this: we can indeed BE Confident in the Sufficiency of Jesus Christ!

There are still so many questions in regard to suffering that I do not have an answer for yet. But while my questions are real, I am choosing to trust in an overarching truth that surrounds all my questions and uncertainties. The truth that Jesus us enough is one that our Beth discovered and is one I am seeking to understand further as I entrust each moment to Jesus through the joy and pain. Friends, while God may not give us all the answers to our questions right now, He has given us a solution! It is up to us as to whether we will trust God’s solution (our Lord Jesus Christ) in the swirl of our questions  – or not!

These days, I find myself asking some different questions than I did at the beginning of the trial… “Could it be that Jesus did not respond to my cry to immediately heal Beth in this life because He wanted to enlarge my request for the greater good and greater glory of His name? Could it be that this is not about me or about Beth at all, but all about Him? Has He, in fact, delivered my girl and answered my cry in a far more glorious way than I ever dared imagine? Did Jesus meet Beth’s actual need rather that just her temporary, immediate needs in this life? Is she now experiencing the healing she needed and the relationship with Christ she desired?   I sense that the answers to these questions are a resounding YES! – but only because of His sufficiency.

Although the whole thing is still a mystery to me and I still have my unanswered questions, what I do know is that my desire to see more of God and His glory have grown through our trials– exponentially! Beth’s desire to know God and see more of His glory also grew in leaps and bound the more desperate she became. My prayer life has matured through this whole process. For instance, the requests I had of God at the beginning of the journey all centered on my pain and the pain of my loved ones. But while my cries to God are still tainted with my own pain, I find they are much more centered on God – His will and His glory. My heart, with all its imperfections, is more aligned with God’s heart than before. It is more accepting and desiring of His agenda rather than my own personal comfort. Only He could do that work within me, within any of us.

Now that’s not to say that the ‘personal comfort prayers’ don’t keep popping up and are not important to God. But as I battle this life, filled with the blessing of His grace, there is a greater understanding that has come through believing in Jesus and watching Beth’s mature response to her suffering.

Fellow sojourners, in light of the promises of Jesus and the examples before us, let us rest and BE Confident in Jesus our Messiah. He is sufficient, more than enough. He can deliver you through each and every situation and offers you every kind of resource you need. One day, the questions that need to be answered will be and those that don’t won’t matter any more!  So let us be open to accepting that we have questions but we don’t have to get stuck in confusion of them. Let us move on to know the sufficient Christ more and more because of them! Will you entrust the all-sufficient One with every question and uncertainty you have? Will you believe with me right now that His grace is truly enough?  For you, for me, for everyone forever and ever, Amen!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Songs to encourage you:

New Song by Jordan Worner

Right In Front of Me by Josh Wilson

Questions by Steven Curtis Chapman

I Believe in Love by Barlow Girl

Psalm 42 by Sons of Korah

Quote to inspire:

“Some people pray just to pray and some people pray to know God.” Andrew Murray

Books to build you up:

Prayer by Andrew Murray

Where is God When it Hurts? By Philip Yancy

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis

Week 44 – Be Sure and Ready!

 

It was interesting to witness how different family and friends coped through the time when we knew Beth’s body was dying. For some, the goodbyes were more agonizing because death seemed so final. They believed that this world is the totality of existence and therefore viewed this time as utterly tragic. For these people, it truly was ‘goodbye’ and hopeless grief flooded their souls.

Other family and friends who came to say goodbye during this time did so with a glimmer of hope that perhaps there just may be something beyond this world to count on – but we can’t be sure.

While we do not deny that the preparation to part with Beth (as described in Heartbreakingly Beautiful this week) was incredibly painful, we are so grateful that our separation from her is temporary. We have a certainty that death does not have the final word and we do not grieve as those with no hope. Our sure hope in the person and promises of Jesus Christ, the resurrected and living Son of God, make all the difference!

There was such an assurance about Beth during those days as she prepared to cross the Jordan and enter into her eternal Home with Jesus. She set about fulfilling promises, giving gifts and saying her goodbyes with intention and compassion. There were still tears and there was certainly sorrow in all that was happening, but the closer she came to her time, the more we were certain that she was prepared in every way. Friends, you too can BE Sure and Ready when it comes time for you to cross the river into eternity!

Beth’s preparation for this inevitable journey began long before she became ill. As we read this week about Joshua and the children of Israel crossing the swollen river in a miraculous way, we may wonder how Joshua was ready to cross with such confidence when given his marching orders by the Lord. I believe that the clue to His sure and ready heart lies in this gem of a verse found in Exodus 33:11…

Inside the Tent of Meeting, the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Afterward Moses would return to the camp, but the young man who assisted him, Joshua son of Nun, would remain behind in the Tent of Meeting.

Joshua was ready to act when the time came because he had spent years seeking after God and building up his confidence in Him! I have seen this same confidence in God modeled by my own dear daughter and it is an ongoing example to me.

You know, the life of Joshua and the events of that incredible day all point to Jesus Christ. It is interesting to read in the Gospels that at the beginning of Jesus’ formal ministry He was baptized in that same Jordan River. Again, this is another highly significant event filled with symbolism and truth. When we talk about crossing over from death to life through Christ, baptism is the outward symbol of this spiritual experience (Colossians 2:12).

Beth was thirteen years old when she made that formal declaration of her trust in Christ and was baptized in the presence of her family and friends. By her faith in Jesus, she had already spiritually crossed the Jordan. By following her Lord through the waters of baptism, she gave us an outward sign of what had already happened in the spiritual realm. So in every way that matters, Beth had already crossed over from death to life. This was the basis of her assurance and readiness when it came time for her physical crossing.

This physical crossing was approaching at a fast rate, and far too early in our way of thinking. Although it was hard for us to accept, by this stage we were sure that the Lord was calling our girl Home and it was now time to help prepare her even further for her crossing. The Lord wanted Beth to receive all that He had promised to her – on both sides of the river! It was her turn to cross the Jordan into eternity and she did so in a way that followed Jesus’ example.

Friends, Beth had a passion to help those who would be making that crossing after her. Her heart’s desire while keeping those journals that have led to the Heartbreakingly Beautiful devotional was for the glory of Jesus and for YOU! That YOU too would BE Sure and Ready when it came to parting this world into the next. The only way you can cross that river with certainty, that leads to eternal life and not to eternal death, is by taking the hand of the Deliverer who wants to lead you through the path that is yet unknown to you, but crystal clear to Him – Jesus, the very presence and power of God – the one and only way to life that will flow in abundance forever!

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved….” Acts 16:31

Songs to encourage you:

There’s A Place For Us by Carrie Underwood

(Theme of Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie)

Rescue Me by Kerrie Roberts

An inspirational story:

This week, our family had the privilege to hear international speaker Ian McCormick. Ian has a truly remarkable story about how he crossed the Jordan into eternity – and returned to tell about it!

Check out his website and be inspired by his glimpse of eternity…

www.aglimpseofeternity.org/

Week 43 BE Promise Believers and Covenant Receivers!

 

The word ‘covenant’ is not one we often give much thought to in our culture, yet the deep significance of the word still permeates through our everyday lives, whether we are aware of it or not. As we look around, all kinds of covenants seem to be under attack from many directions. So it is great to be reminded of the significance of both the earthly and spiritual covenants we have entered into from time to time.

The term ‘covenant’ is of Latin origin (con venire) and means ‘a coming together’. It presupposes two or more parties who come together to make a contract, agreeing on promises, stipulations, privileges, and responsibilities.

You may be aware that in the Bible, two covenants are referred to: the Old Covenant (The Old Testament) and the New Covenant (The New Testament). Zillions of people have already commented on the richness and meaning of both these covenants God has made with His people, so I won’t even try to add any more. But this week, as we are meditating on God as the Promise Keeper, it is vital we do so in light of the New Covenant He has made with us through Jesus Christ.

It is so assuring to know that the covenant God has made with us is initiated, sustained and fulfilled by Him! I invite you to learn as much as you can about the New Covenant Jesus has made us partakers in – you will be amazed when you begin to grasp what the New Covenant means for your life! For me, this week I have had a visual reminder of what biblical covenant in Christ looks like. I was involved in the wedding of dear friends and witnessed the young couple making a binding covenant with each other. Christian marriage is supposed to reflect the greater covenant Christ has made with His Church (Romans 7). The big difference however is that Jesus has taken all responsibility to both make and to never break His covenant promises. Oh what a Bridegroom we have! He is the perfect husband, ever faithful and true to all the promises He makes His bride – a bride who is so often unfaithful, fickle and even adulterous.

Yet, even as unworthy as we are, Jesus calls us to BE Promise Believers and Covenant Receivers. It is a high calling indeed, but one that He Himself grants us grace to uphold. What mercy, what unconditional love!  In Romans 4 and 2 Corinthians 3 and Hebrews 10, we learn more about the Old Covenant God made with Abraham and how it was a forerunner to the New Covenant that has now been fulfilled in Christ. There was no possible way any human being could ever keep up our end of the first covenant – we are powerless on our own to do so. This New Covenant in Christ shows up the flaws of the old one. The New is glorious! It is superior in every way and to be partakers in it is the ultimate joy and the destiny of our lives!

Even though I am living in the truth of the New Covenant, I still slip into ‘Old Covenant’ ways. At times I still steep into deep sadness as I wait for the covenant promises to be fulfilled. The wedding this week has stirred up all sorts of emotions. On one hand, the wedding has reminded me afresh of the promises of God in Christ, strengthening my resolve to believe that my promise-keeping, covenant-making God has the power to do all that He has promised. But on the other, the grief is especially raw at special occasions like these. You see, it was Jade’s brother who just married and we really all missed Beth, celebrating with us there at the wedding.

After some tears, I remembered back to when Beth made Jade laugh during that last shopping trip together. Beth was determined to get that second ear piercing she had always wanted and wasn’t allowed at school. In the end, she was too unwell to sit through it, but her fun personality shone through for as long as it could. I remembered that as Beth went about keeping her promises in the best way she could, she had her mind set on what she wanted to buy that day… a gift for me, a gift for her best male friend at school, Jimmy, and a pair of sunglasses for herself. (This was the only thing she bought for herself during the whole year.) Jimmy scored a lovely shirt and tie. (She loved giving them to him a few days later and he really played it up as he tried on the outfit! He then wore her gifts when he spoke at Beth’s celebration service and looked pretty handsome!)

The gift Beth bought for me has been illustrated for you in this week’s chapter of Heartbreakingly Beautiful – a lovely white-gold pendant in the shape of a heart. As you can imagine, it is now one of my most treasured earthly possessions and a daily reminder that the promises I am clinging to are securely centred on the love of Christ as I live under the New Covenant in Him.

What kind of promises are you clinging to in your time of trouble? If you are desperately holding onto promises made by a doctor, specialist, husband, wife, child, parent or friend, please remember that these people are all merely human and may not be able to fulfill or even desire to keep their promises. But if you are clinging to the promises of God – signed, sealed and delivered by the sacrificial blood and saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ – then you are in sure hands! ALL the promises of God will be fulfilled in the light of eternity – you may have to wait awhile, but you will see!

Challenge:

Have you ever tried counting the promises of God given to us? Try this challenge:  Search the internet for: How many promises are there in the Bible? – you’ll be amazed with the answer!

Songs to encourage you:

Wait and See by Stephen Curtis Chapman

Promises Sanctus Real

Daily Covenant Promises:

A great way to remember God’s promises and live as covenant people is to sign up for the 365 Daily Promises by email. Here’s the link to help get you started: www.365promises.com

Here are some more scripture references to the New Covenant:

www.openbible.info/topics/new_covenant

Week 42 – BE Speakers of the Word!

 

As I think back to this time three years ago, I am so grateful that we had the opportunity to speak out words of love and hope to our girl in her last days with us. Some people continue to wonder how we survived through that time. How do you speak out those final earthly goodbyes to your mortally diseased child without totally collapsing? This week’s Psalm (23) gives us some wonderful answers. Just like He promised, we know that the Good Shepherd strengthened us all to say and do the things necessary to make this final journey with Beth in the most honorable way we could. Nothing was left undone or unsaid and we see now what a blessing we were granted. The God who promised to be close beside us through Death’s Valley was present and crying with us.  We were all aware of this truth, despite the awful load of pain.

While the conversations described in Heartbreakingly Beautiful were the last ones Beth was able to have with us, right until the final weeks she surprised us with little words that popped out. She was able to say, “I love you” to us a few times, even if just mouthing the words. I remember that her first word on this earth was “dad” and it turned out that her last word in this life was “mum”. Once, as I sat with her during this time, I told her that she was absolutely amazing. I did not expect a response but she mouthed to me, “You are.” All these words were precious last gifts from our daughter.

Words are so powerful aren’t they! The Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:21 that the power of life and death are on the tongue. Whether or not we are granted the blessing of actually speaking out our final words to our loved ones, we have the opportunity right here and now to BE Speakers of the Word – the most sacred words of all.

In recent weeks we have been thinking about what it means to BE Hearers and Doers of the Word. In recent years, I have been challenged not just to hear the Word and obey it – but to also speak it out!

The Word of God is powerful, living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and for those of us who have been blessed with tongues to use, we are invited to open our mouths, join in the chorus and let those words of life flow out! I believe that the most valuable gift we offered to Beth in her time of need was speaking out loud the words of Scripture. Jesus Christ, the Word of God (John 1:1-5), is constantly speaking over and into our lives – and His words are life indeed!

There are many words we can say in times of crisis. There are many good and beautiful things that can be said during times of great sadness and these can certainly bring a measure of comfort. But when we choose to BE Speakers of the Word, we choose the better way, the sacred way that sows eternal life into our own lives and into the lives of those who are willing to hear. These words arm us with all we need to journey through the mountains and the valleys of life. Yes, the mighty words of Scripture introduce us to THE WORD and at the end of the day, He is all we need!

May the words of my mouth and the mediations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

Songs to encourage you:

The Word by Jordan Worner

Say Goodbye Sanctus Real

Books to build you up:

Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore

Praying the Names of Jesus by Ann Spangler