After my most recent trial I began praying a new prayer.
"Father God, please prepare me for whatever You choose for my life…may I be rooted deeper in my faith and knowledge of You than ever before...may I not be shaken..."
I use the word “trial” to describe what has been, by far, the most life-changing experience I’ve been through to date. I wonder as I choose the word if it is worthy to convey such an experience of feeling the breath of God upon me. It just doesn’t seem to qualify.
Last year, my husband and I were overwhelmed to learn he was stricken with Stage 4 Lymphoma. Our lives abruptly shifted from a restful season of floating down the lazy river on a breezy Sunday afternoon to a season of white knuckling our faith, fingernails digging deep into the bedposts of life as emotional tidal waves and tornados of despair competed for the joy we had found in walking with Jesus Christ.
I look back now and know as sure as I can see my hands that it was not me or my husband holding on for dear life and sanity, but God. It was the Lord who stepped into our trial and not only held on to us, but gently covered us from the pestilential storm of cancer. I have never, in all my roller coaster life, felt the divine protection and peace of heaven as I knew last year.
The Spirit of the Lord was upon us.
I clung to His promises like a life preserver. I knew without them I would drown in my own deluded mind. God’s Word became a brilliant lighthouse leading me through the fog of uncertain tomorrows and protected me from temptations to walk by sight rather than faith.
Isaiah 26:3 was and still remains one of my daily staples.
“You will keep in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You; because he trusts in You.”
This leads me back four years ago when my two daughters and I traveled to Washington State to spend some much needed time with my little sister (“little” meaning, she is younger than me; God happened to bless her with the long legs and me with authority; I happen to think He favored her just a bit), and her kids. She left California over a decade ago. Since, our relationship has blossomed into a thing of vibrant beauty. It is said, "Distance makes the heart grow fonder." This has been the case between us. The long years apart have established and strengthened an intimate bond we failed to embrace during our younger years. My heart gnaws with longing to spend time with her, and our visit was long overdue.
While there, the four cousins, little sister and I were blessed to go to Church together. A quaint body of kind faces and warm greetings gladly welcomed us. I followed little sister’s leading through the sanctuary and sat down to be fed. The visiting pastor's teaching was compelling and full of fire. I chewed on every word, taking notes as best I could. My pen flew across the stark white pages of my journal. Within the hour I had reproduced the preacher's message in chicken scratch; somewhat appearing to be secret code, of which I alone could translate. I was full-and satisfied.
During the service my eye caught little sister discreetly flagging for my attention. She passed me a manila colored note card that she had previously tucked in her Bible. I received the mysterious card with delight anticipating a special message just for me.
"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe."
As I eagerly read the typed words, unexpected thoughts flooded my mind.
“Why is she giving this to me?”
“Know Him better?”
I settled my confused and slightly insulted disappointment with my very own brilliant rationale.
“Obviously, she has no idea how well I know Him these days.”
(Little did I know just how rich and powerful and personal those very verses I had so hastily passed off as for someone else would mean to me one day.)
Months and years came and went and every so often I’d happen upon the manila colored note card. Each time I would grow increasingly curious.
“Why did she give this to me?”
“Does she know something I don’t?”
I began to allow God to teach my heart what this meant for me.
Surely I was in a deeper place with the Lord than ever before. I was thirsty and hungry for more of what He was willing to show me. Regardless, I was all over the place at times verses being the woman of a quiet and gentle spirit; I was still learning what the Psalmist meant when he wrote, “Be still…”
It wasn’t until I received a picture text from my beloved niece, little sister’s daughter, smack dab in the middle of my most recent trial, that it hit me!
My little sister may not have had any particular reason for giving Paul’s words to me that chilly Sunday morning in Washington, but God had every particular reason. He knew exactly how and what He was going to reveal to me in the future-
His indescribable presence.