Breaking the “Betrayal Barrier”

Recently I spent three hours with a christian doctor.  After talking at length about my life, he made several suggestions.  One of those suggestions was to read several of R.T. Kendall’s books. Yesterday one of my daughters saw one of those books lying on a table next to my reading chair in my living room and commented that I should go to her church’s website and watch one of the past videos where R.T. spoke.  So, this morning I did just that and what he said hit me right in the heart.

The message title was “ Totally Forgiving God” and the following are excerpts from Kendall’s message as he told about how he and his father both had faith that his mother, after suffering a stroke at the age of 43, was going to be healed and she was not.

“How do you totally forgive God when you feel like He has betrayed you?  Have you ever considered what a privilege it is to practice having faith in God even when He has not answered your prayers the way that you wanted Him to?

1.  Count your blessings.  Do you not have something to be thankful for?

2.  Be honest.  Tell God your complaints.  He can take it!  He’s not offended.  Psalms 142:2 says to pour out your complaints before God.

3.  Fight self-pity and a feeling of entitlement.

4.  Choose to believe that there’s a purpose in what’s going on because one day you will see that there was a purpose and you’ll be so glad you made that choice.  You’ll see that it was exactly what was right for you.

Can you break the betrayal barrier?”

Here is the link to that message if you would like to hear it in its entirety.  Be sure to click on the little TV on this webpage to view the video:   http://newvisionlife.com/sermons/sermon-archives/2012-sermon-archives/rtkendall-2012/

I thought I had completely gotten over my feelings of being betrayed by God, but I found myself weeping throughout this entire message.  This was my prayer at the end:

This plan hurts, Lord, but I’m choosing to trust You anyway.  And, I’m going to continue to run this race and look forward to that day when I look on Your face and hear you say to me, “WELL DONE, Candy!!!  WELL DONE!!!”

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Introducing New Widow Lorraine

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Today I would like to introduce you to one of my blog readers Lorraine who became a widow just 6 months ago.  She and her best friend husband Mark were married for 43 years.  Lorraine first came to my blog after searching google for widow information to help her own widowed aunt.  Never ever did she dream that she would become a widow a few years later.

Lorraine has now begun her own blog called The Continuing Journey about her widow journey that continues to be a blessing to me.Last night she shared a devotional from Grace Gems that so spoke to me and I felt I had to share it with you this morning with Lorraine’s permission.

Love Photographs Them in the Heart!

(William Thoseby, “Foot-prints on the Sands of Time” 1869)

“The righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death!” Isaiah 57:1-2

It is true there are strong consolations and compensations in Divine providence, but even the Christian consolations cannot drink up all the heart’s sorrow in the hour of separating death. We cry with truth, but yet in tears, “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” “Yes in all these things we are more than conquerors,” but we are conquerors with bleeding wounds and scars of the conflict upon us.

When a dear life is taken from the near presence of our own life, no antidote of reasoning, nor cordial of promise even, can make us oblivious of the loss. In the moment of most entire submission and most exultant faith–we feel the pang of separation. Our affections grope and wander uneasily in the vacancy that has been made, and we return home companionless and sorrowing. We are awed by the voiceless room, and the vacant chair affects us with sadness. Every relic and memorial of the life that is ended, tells us that it is ended indeed. The dearly departed live in the chambers of our soul. We see their lovely forms, hear their sweet voices, feel their tender touch, and almost grasp their hands. Love photographs them in the heart!

When therefore a dear life is taken, the person who is left must suffer. And since so it is, we come, through “many a winding maze” to conclude that thus it ought to be. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” “Now we see through a glass darkly.”

But in our ignorance and blind unbelief, we are too apt to arraign the rectitude of the Divine procedure, exclaiming:
How bewildering is this afflictive dealing!
How baffling is this mystery!
Where is now my God?
This sickness–why prolonged?
This thorn in the flesh–why still buffeting?
This family blank–why permitted?
Why the most treasured and useful life taken–the blow aimed where it cut most severely?

Hush the secret atheism!–for the day is coming when every dark hieroglyphic in the Roll of Divine Providence, will be made plain and clear. When what are called . . .
“dark providences”
“harmful calamities”
“strokes of misfortune”
“unmitigated evils”
trials, sorrows, crosses, losses, adversities, sicknesses–
the emptied cup,
the withered gourd,
the lingering illness,
the early grave,
the useful lives taken,
blossoms prematurely plucked,
spiritual props removed,
benevolent schemes blown upon
–over all these, will not this grand motto be written as in characters of living light–which may be read on anguished pillows and aching hearts, yes, on the very portals of the tomb itself, “This also comes from the LORD almighty; He is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom!” Isaiah 28:29

Let us “be still and know that He is God.” “We know” says the apostle, “that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!” Romans 8:28

We do not always see the bright light in the clouds, but it “shall come to pass that at evening time, it shall be light!”

Child of sorrow! Mourning over the withdrawal of some beloved object of earthly affection–dry your tears! An early death has been an early crown! The tie sundered here, links you to the throne of God. You have a Christian parent, a brother, a sister, in Heaven! You are the relative of a redeemed saint. “He shall enter” (he has entered) “into peace”–the “rest which remains for the people of God!”

We can only see one side of a Christian’s death–the setting side, the expiring breath, the vanishing life, the cold clay corpse. We cannot see the risings on the other side–the angel convoy, Heaven’s open gate, the Savior’s welcome of the enraptured departed one. Yet it is none the less real.

Death to the Christian, is a birth into heavenly life–a life more real, more sweet, more calm, more pure than could be enjoyed on earth.

“Beloved! think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, but rejoice!” Soon you shall hear the sweet chimes wafted from the towers of the heavenly Jerusalem, “Enter into the joy of your Lord!” “The Lord God shall wipe away all tears from off all faces!”

Christian Mourner! Do not go to the grave to weep there. The devourer shall be devoured! The resurrection shall restore to you, all that death snatches away. And then, Oh! joyous hope, “death shall be swallowed up of life!” Glorious day! “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection!”

The Beauty of One-Half

Leon Fleisher has considered music to be his whole life. At the age of four he began learning the piano. Four years later he made his first public appearance and at the age of sixteen he played with the New York Philharmonic under Pierre Monteux, who described him as “the pianistic find of the century”.

But by the age of 36, Leon could barely write his name.  “I was preparing for the most important tour of my life when I had a minor accident.  I cut my thumb on a piece of cheap garden furniture and required a couple of stitches.  When I started practicing again, things didn’t feel quite right on my right side.  My fourth and fifth fingers seemed to want to curl under.  I practiced even harder, not listening to my body when, through pain, it warned me to stop.  Things got progressively worse and in less than a year those two fingers were completely curved under, sticking into the palm of my hand.  No way could I play the piano. I was desolate.  My life fell apart.”  It was as if his arm were a rope becoming unraveled, with creeping numbness in his fingers.  Engagements were cancelled, recordings put on hold.  The doctors were baffled and could do nothing to help Leon.

After a few years, Leon realized that his connection was with the music itself and not just with playing the piano with two hands.  He began playing again – with one hand and became a left-handed concert pianist.  From his half came the most beautiful music.

When we become a widow, we became the half of a whole.  We flounder with our identity thinking that there is nothing about our half that is good without our other half.  Yet, Leon’s story gives us encouragement that from our half can come beautiful music.  It gives us hope that, in time, we can play the piano of life with one hand and create something that fills the air of our lives with sounds that we never dreamed could be created alone as a half of a whole.

Click on the link below to listen and watch Leon as he plays the Left-Handed Concerto Cadenza.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0LBezQGLNo

Who’s Taking the Lead?

Have you given much thought to whom you are allowing to lead now that you are without your spouse?  When a couple is dancing through marriage, their dancing is structured, controlled, full of intensive attention and effort, and full of moments that expose both the superb or inadequate, elegant or awkward, expert or senseless.  Yet, as the couple works together to synchronize and perfect their marriage dance, they find it not only challenging but also exhilarating!

The one thing that is most important in the marriage dance is the connection between the husband and wife.  Because the husband is the leader and the wife is following his lead, the wife has to drop her defenses and allow her husband to occupy her space.  In order to do this the wife has to let go of her control and trust her husband.

But what happens to the dance once the leader is gone?  Whom do you allow to take the lead? Sadly, some widows feel so lost and alone in their grief without their husband that they too quickly jump into a new relationship just to have someone take the lead.  Many times later on they see that filling that position too soon was a mistake.

What would it be like for a widow to really allow God to take the lead?  How much easier is it to be the follower when you have the perfect One taking your hands, holding you close, and leading you across the rest of your dance floor of life?

But, I have such trust issues with God now!  He didn’t answer my prayers the way that I wanted Him to!  He gave me the most wonderful husband I could ever have and then took him away much too quickly!  How can I really trust that He is going to fill that place my husband left empty and take me to places that are happy, safe and peaceful?” you may ask.

Yet, you trusted Him enough to accept His gift of eternal life.  How can you now not trust Him to take you in His arms and guide you through the rest of your life?  It all boils down to a choice that you and I have to make.  Just as you chose to allow your husband to take the lead in your marriage dance, you now have to choose to allow God to take the lead. You may be able to allow Him to fill that position overnight.  It may take some time to rebuild your relationship with Him.  But, who better to replace your husband than God!

A Place of Pause

Chuck Swindoll shares that the book of Habakkuk is all about Habakkuk’s wrestling, waiting, praying, and praising.  It is a dialogue between a very burdened Habakkuk and God.

The two questions that not only Habakkuk but we invariably ask God that He most often never answers are “Why?” and “How long?”.  Habakkuk said “God, give me Your game plan” and God’s gracious answer was “If I gave you my game plan, you wouldn’t believe it if I told you.”

Habakkuk is confused, uncertain, and doesn’t know what to think anymore.  So, he makes the most important decision in his ministry.  He decides to say nothing, lie back, and wait on God.  He stations himself alone at his rampart and says to himself, “Apparently there is something cross-wired in my head and I need reproof from God.  Certainly there is confusion.  So, I’m going to wait for God to speak.” And it’s then after Habakkuk stops and waits for awhile that the Lord answers.

There is something significant about that word “answered” in the Hebrew translation of Habakkuk 2:2.  It conveys the idea of being favorable, docile, amenable in one’s response.  In other words, God smiled when He answered, “Oh, Habakkuk. I’m glad you stopped and listened.  I’m glad you waited.  That pleases me.  Now I’m ready to answer you.”

A wise sage once wrote:

In every life there is a pause that is better than onward rush.

Better than hewing or mightiest doing.

It’s the standing still at Sovereign will.

The pause and the hush sing double song in unison low and for all time long.

Oh, human soul, God’s working plan goes on nor needs the aid of man.

Stand still and see.

Be still and know.

We are perhaps never more effective in all our lives than when we make a determinate effort to STOP and REST in God.  And, it may be that there are times when God forces us to step aside and just wait on Him.

The Berkley Bible translating Psalm 40 renders it, I waited and waited for the Lord.  Then He bent over to me and heard my cry.  He brought me up from a destructive pit, from the miry clay and set my feet on a rock steadying my steps.”

A widow is thrown into that place of asking God not only “Why?!” but “God, what is Your game plan now?!”  For a long time there is too much fog to see ahead to even take the next step. When the fog finally begins to clear, the future is uncertain.  We don’t know who we are now.  More questions arise about ourselves as issues in our lives that we have never dealt with float to the surface.

If we truly want our hearts to be in tune with God, we are forced to stop wrestling and wait.  We tend to look at these places in our lives of pause and waiting as bad places, but God see those places as still waters where we stop, wait, and then sit quietly as He communes with us.

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes in the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:17-18

Prayer – Heart Feelings

“As we grow older, prayer becomes more about heart feelings than results.  God hears the prayer of our hearts even when there are no words attached.  Any stirring of the heart whether it be pain or gratitude or even concern for someone else is more important than forming the words.” 

Linda Douty/PRAYING IN THE MESSINESS OF LIFE

Daily Laying Down My Will

One of the very things that I as a widow struggle with is the daily laying down of my will.  My mind stays wrapped up in what happened that I didn’t want to happen and what may happen in the future. This morning I was reading in the book HINDS FEET ON HIGH PLACES  and this is what it said about that very subject:

“As Christians we know, in theory at least, that in the life of a child of God there are no second causes, that even the most unjust and cruel things, as well as all seemingly pointless and undeserved sufferings, have been permitted by God as glorious opportunities for us to react to them in such a way that our Lord and Savior is able to produce in us, little by little, His own lovely character.

But the High Places of victory and union with Christ cannot be reached by any mental reckoning of self to be dead to sin, or by seeking to devise some way or discipline by which the will can be crucified.  The only way is by learning to accept, day by day, the actual conditions and tests permitted by God, by a continually repeated laying down of our own will and acceptance of His as it is presented to us in the form of the people with whom we have to live and work, and in the things which happen to us.  Every acceptance of His will becomes an altar of sacrifice, and every such surrender and abandonment of ourselves to His will is a means of furthering us on the way to the High Places to which He desires to bring every child of His while they are still living on earth.

The lessons of accepting and triumphing over evil, of becoming acquainted with grief, and pain, and, ultimately, of finding them transformed into something incomparably precious; of learning through constant glad surrender to know the Lord of Love Himself in a a new way and to experience unbroken union with Him–these are the lessons of the allegory in the book.

The High Places and the hinds’ feet do not refer to heavenly places after death, but are meant to be the glorious experience of God’s children here and now–if they will follow the path He choose for them. The experiences through which we are passing are all part of the wonderful process by which the Lord is making real in our lives the same experience which made David and Habakkuk cry out exultantly, ‘The Lord God maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon mine High Places’ (Ps. 18:33 and Hab. 3:19)”

Darien B. Cooper/Hannah Hurnard HINDS’ FEET ON HIGH PLACES DEVOTIONAL