Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cartwheels in Heaven

Well, I guess it seems that I was missing in action last week! Me and little Michael stayed so busy every day while the rest of the family was on the mission trip, that we both collapsed into bed each night, leaving no time for blogging!

But even though I wasnt writing with my fingers, I was writing in my heart. All week long I seemed to keep thinking of things I could post, but nothing just felt right. It was like I couldnt focus on anything in depth. My mind would race from one subject to the next, never landing on anything for any length of time.

The reason for that, apparently, was because my heart was missing something. My heart was void of something very very important, that gives me the motivation to write, speak and worship.

What was missing, was hope.

God has been talking to me all week about it, gently and very subtly. I dont know if it is for your benefit, or for my own comfort and reassurance, but today God has prompted me to write about hope.

There are a lot of things we are hopeful about, in fact we use the word "hope" quite flagrantly - "I hope I get to go to the beach this summer; I hope my child wins their ballgame; I hope I get that job I interviewed for."

Hope is simply a part of our every day language, and as a result, I think sometimes we forget how crucial real hope is.

I too have hope about many things, including the fact that I put my total hope and belief that Jesus Christ will one day return. No doubt about it. He died for me and you, arose from the grave, and will return. But what about having anticipation and expectation about other things in life until He does return? That is the hope that is hardest to hold on to.

My heart has felt like it had a two-ton boulder pressing on it lately, worrying about my sweet sister Christie.

Each day is a challenge for her, as she battles her Multiple Schlerosis, and each day/month/year seems to bring new difficulties. The disease is progressing, and there is nothing we can do about it, except watch with heartbreak and fear.

One day last week, my sister said she had a dream. In this dream, she was running, doing cartwheels, jumping and playing with her kids. It went for a long time, and she was happy and laughing.

Then she woke up. To reality. A reality where she cant run. A reality where carefree romping and playing is nothing more than a memory. A reality filled with pain and disappointment and a lack of hope. Then she cried. Then I cried.

I have prayed for her healing so many times that it has probably become a mute point with God. I have begged for comfort for her so many times, that God is surely tired of hearing it. I have pressured God for understanding so many times, that He is probably ready to give this daughter a spanking.

I have begged Him for a sign of hope, but have yet to see one. Hope seems to be just an illusion, beyond our grasp, taunting us about the unknown, testing our faith.

I found myself thinking, is hope really real? Is hope possible, when a situation seems hopeless? Is physical healing possible, when all odds seem to be against it? Is comfort and freedom from pain really attainable, when every cell inside a body is raging a war against itself? Is peace actually available, for those who find no end to the hurting?

Is hope nothing more than an unrealistic wish that we make out of the desperation of the longing of our hearts?

In my quest to find an answer, I looked up the definition of hope, and it is "the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best; to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence; to feel that something desired may happen".

Well that sounds all well and good; a nice, warm and fuzzy answer.... but seriously?

As I continued reading the definitions for hope, I came across the last one, which said: 'hope against hope', defined as "to continue to hope, although the outlook does not warrant it".

As I pondered that thought, my spirit leaped a tiny bit. I began to see that God has been trying to reassure me, and to help me find the illusory hope that has been missing from my heart.

In retrospect over the past week, I can see how He filled my days with gentle, subtle reminders that He heard the cries of my heart, and that my hope in Him can be strong. I see how He was trying to lead me to a place of acceptance that I can continue to have hope, even when the facts do not warrant it.

Dont ever believe that God cant send an email, because He has been keeping my inbox full lately! He "sent" me the following verses in email this week, through devotions and people:

John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."

Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you."

Jeremiah 17:14 "Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed;save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise."

If you think I just pulled these verses up because they seemed appropriate, think again kemosabi. They appeared in my inbox on their own, all with the same theme of believing in God without fail, trusting the unseen, finding peace, and believing in hope. I even came across an article about hope. And today, during our Sunday School lesson, we discussed the topic of hope. Irony? Absolutely not. God speaking? Absolutely.

God was plugging into my heart, using as many outlets as He could to infuse the power of hope back into my life.

He was simply waiting on me to hear Him. To allow His reassurance to saturate my heart, and fill up that empty space that had been as dry and void of life as the hot, sandy desert in the middle of summer.

If you ask me, hope is as essential for survival as is food and water. When someone gives up hope, expectations, and anticipation of good things, then there is nothing to look forward to. Maybe nothing to live for. Hope is life giving. Without hope, there can be no life, and life is a gift, even when it involves suffering.

How many times have we heard that "God didnt promise a life without suffering"? Too many to count probably. How many more times have we forgotten that truth? I dont know about you, but I cant even keep count of my own forgetfulness, because I dont like suffering! I dont like to see anyone else suffer either. It makes me sad; and at times, angry; and I feel powerless.

No, I cant understand the purposes of suffering; I dont see the reason; I cant imagine what benefits could possibly be derived. But I also know that it is not for me to understand. God is God, and I am not. His ways, are not our ways. His omnipotence is not for me to understand. I may not like it, but I must still love Him, and trust in Him, nonetheless.

I can only maintain the faith and belief that God uses all things to His glory, in one way or another, and without hope in that truth, then life and sufferings, seem pointless. I have to maintain a hope that He may heal people now, he may heal them later in life, or he may heal them when He calls them home.

My sisters nine year old daughter responded to her dream that morning after she had it. She told mommy not to worry, because one day, they could do cartwheels in heaven together. Even though hearing that brought an instant tsunami of tears to my eyes, it also opened my eyes to what hope is really all about it. Out of the mouths of babes. Hope is a treasure that can fill the gaping holes in our heart if we reach out and drink it in.

I think the key is having that hope against hope. A hope that continues to believe that God does hear, He is working, and He can heal, even when everything I see with my human eyes does not warrant it.

I will never stop praying and hoping for Christies healing, and I hope that He chooses to knit her back to perfect form. What an amazing miracle that would be, what glory that could bring Him as we shouted His praises to the world!

But I have to commit to holding fast to my faith, and keeping faith in who God is, and not what He does. That will be hard, and there will be more days where I will need Him to help me have hope against hope. Maybe even tomorrow.

Whether any of us do cartwheels here on the green grass, or in heaven on white fluffy clouds, is Gods decision - but believing that He was, is and will forever Be, is where hope has to begin.

Psalm 33:18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

Psalm 62:5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;my hope comes from him.

Psalm 119:14 You are my refuge and my shield;I have put my hope in your word.

Psalm 119:147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;I have put my hope in your word

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Joyful said...

Tracie, the Lord has been speaking to my heart about hope too. Here are the 2 verses He has given me:

Zechariah 9:12 has encouraged me to be a "prisoner of hope" and not stop believing and trusting in Him. Not for what He can do, but for who He is!!!

"I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope." Hosea 2:14 God will take whatever circumstance or situation that is breaking our hearts and make it become an entrance of possibility. It is a door that opens to better things ahead. God takes a negative situation and uses it as an opportunity.

Tracie, praying for you and your family. Some day I too will do cartwheels.


Angie said...

You may have been MIA but you made up for it this morning. :-)

I have often felt the same things when it comes to hope. Having hope that eventually things will change, things will improve and things will turn out to my hearts expectations.If I don't have this hope, my heart will be totally devastated.

"God didn't promise a life without suffering-I can't understand the purposes of suffering." I totally understand and see where you are coming from when you say this. And I totally agree when it comes to the physical suffering that some people have to endure. Why does a mom, stricken with a disease that leaves her unable to care for her family, have to suffer on a daily bases. Unable to understand why God gives her a family, then takes away the ability to care for them. Or a young couple that sits bedside to their only child, that is 3 years old, watching him die. These sufferings.....I don't understand.

But I also know that He will give us sufferings to help us grow. I have been seeing this first hand for awhile now. It is my emotional suffering. I don't like it! It does hurt! And some days it is just stinking hard!

But because of this I am turning to Him more than I ever have before. I am starting to hear the voice of God. I am feeling a tug on my heart like I have never had before. I have prayed for a caring and compassionate heart and seen Him give that to me. I have prayed for Him to give me the tears that Satan has held for so long. As I sit here now my eyes are filling with tears but for that I am thankful.

Am I thankful for my suffering..yes and no. I don't like the hurting and sometimes wish He would just carry me to the other side of all this hurt. But then I look at where I am now, compared to where I was. If I am still going through His suffering now...just imagine what I will become when He is finished.

Thank you for sharing this today. It really has spoken to my heart.

Tracie said...

Joy and Angie - thank you for your sweet words of encouragement this morning, and for reminding me that we all in this journey together, despite the situations we are individually facing. You were a true blessing that I needed this morning! Thank you friends. :)

Life, or Something Like It said...


You are an amazing writer! This post spoke so very much to me. In addition to scripture, a quote I love is "Faith is believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe." Like your sister, I suffer from a horrible, evil disease that appears incurable. However, I pray for healing and a miracle despite the odds and severity of my situation. May we continue to pound the doors of heaven with our mighty prayers!

Ginger Craddock said...

Tracie, thank you for sharing. My father was diagnosed with MS when I was a teenager. It was one of many crossroads for me that challenged me to answer... God able to heal...will he heal...what if God doesn't heal my Dad can I still trust Him.....can I really trust God with what matters to me most....will I surrender to His perfect plan regardless of what my persective is...????

I am a "Daddy's girl." In retrospect, the roots of my faith went deep like an oak tree in that season of drought and suffering. I can confidently answer YES to all except will He heal... and to that I confidently know God will do what is HIS best and YES we can trust him with that, too.

In addition to my father becoming parapalegic my brother died in a car wreck at 18 years of age. My Dad & Mom made sure the hope of Jesus Christ was shared with a church overflowing with high school students. On disability and quadraplegic my Dad taught a Bible study to my brother's friends. Several of them came to know Christ during that time and many years later some of the others did, as well. God performed many miracles during this season of suffering.

I share this snapshot with you to encourage you and give you confidence. God is faithful and you can trust Him with the circumstances that shred your heart. That statement takes on a new light when your sister has MS.

My Dad and brother are doing cartwheels in heaven waiting for us to finish our walk on earth. The glory of the Lord is rising in our midst. Do not be afraid precious, Tracie; your hope is on solid ground. It is for such a time as this.

"Now, to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever."


Anonymous said...

Hi Tracie, Just a little something I read in my "musing" book this Sunday before going to church. (Recognizing Changes in Your Heart).
Reflections on the Sunday Readings for All who Catechize.

Reading come form Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24, 2corinthians 8:7-15 and Mark 5:21-43

I felt a nudge to pass this along to You and Your Sister.

Here is the Musing:

Today we have another Gospel story that is easily remembered. the circumstances are dramatic, the human element is gripping and the response of Jesus is memorable.

Jesus was walking in the midst of a large crowd. A woman, who thought of herself as "unclean," was going to try once again for healing. she drew near to him. All she could do was touch the corner of his garment. Her condition was immediately healed. Suddenly Jesus stopped in his tracks. "Who touched me? I felt power escaping from me? Who did it?"

She raised her hand. But instead of being angry, he broke into a huge smile. He stepped close to her. It was a victory moment. Jesus was impressed by her faith and hope. What healed her was not some magic touch, but what was in her heart. This nameless woman was a wonderful model of faith and hope.

Never give up. Keep on trying. What an important message for parents who struggle with children who are not perfect. Or for any of us who have tried one thing or another and have all too often failed. The woman we meet today in the Gospel ought to be added to the list of patrom saints for lost causes and desperate situations. there's St. Jude and St. Lucy and I propose the woman who touched Jesus.

Tracie I now send up a healing prayer for your sister along with everlasting HOPE.

Always Remember Never give up. Keep on Trying.

A truly truly God Bless!! You and Your Sister.

From a friend in Christ....Rhonda

Amy Carroll said...

What a beautiful post. My heart is with you during this heartbreaking time. You're in my prayers, friend.


Grace said...

This is just what I neded to hear. It reminds me of the hymn "On Christ the Solid Rock I stand." My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus love and righteousness.
Thank you for reminding where my hope and trust must lie.
God Bless, Grace