Monday, March 15, 2010

The day my frown turned upside down

Yesterday, I was in a bad mood. And just in case I had forgotten about my said bad mood, my two daughters reminded me about it this morning, pointing out several things I had done or said which proved that I was, in deed, in a bad mood.

I have to admit, I was in a bad mood.

But I had good reason.

On Saturday morning, my family and I piled up in the car and drove three hours to visit my step-mother, who was admitted to the hospital last week. In her battle against lung cancer, she has had to have her lungs drained of fluid a couple times, and this time, one of her lungs collapsed, requiring hospitalization and around the clock care.

When we arrived to her hospital room, she was laying in the bed, looking very weak, frail and quiet. As I watched her lie there, speechless, breathless, helpless, and motionless, my heart began to feel heavy. I had to fight back the tears and remind myself that I had to be strong, for the kids, and for my daddy.

But in my heart, I was weeping.

I so longed for the days when she was scurrying around the kitchen, making cinnamon bread and delicious Paula Deen recipes, spending lazy days on the porch smelling the beach air, and playing with the grandkids.

But now, the scene is much different. She has very little strength left, and what she does have, is slowly fading. I wanted to do something for her, anything, but there was nothing I could do, but wish to the depths of my heart that I could scoop her up, nurse her back to health, and help give her the strength she needs.

But I have no strength to give, and any strength I might have will do her no good. My strength has no power.

This morning as I read Gods Word, I came across a verse that crept into the little cracks in my heart that so needed to be filled with something sweet of God today.

Deuteronomy 11:8 "Therefore, be careful to obey every command I am giving you today, so you may have strength to go in and take over the land you are about to enter."

In this passage in Deuteronomy, through the mouth of Moses, the Lord is instructing the Israelites about their soon-to-be entrance into the Promised Land. He has been reminding them of all the miracles and amazing things that have happened during their journey, but He knows, based on their history of actions and attitudes, that they are easily tripped up with things that pull them away from God, cause them to doubt His sovereignty, and take their eyes of Him.

The Lord warns them about taking their focus off of Him, and reminding them that the only place they will find strength, is through Him.

But, He also wants them to understand that their strength will not come from an overwhelming desire to be good or simply believing in Him. Their strength will not come from carrying out rituals, sacrifices, or processes.

Their strength would only come from full and wholehearted obedience to all of the Lords commands - including how they live their every day lives.

Deuteronomy 11:9 says "If you obey, you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors and to you, their descendants..."

Verse 18 then says "So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine."

The Lord made it clear to the Israelites that He was the only One that could give them strength, and today, that is where we must look for strength as well.

Christ is where our true strength comes from, through obedience.

Not merely obedience to a special task that God calls us to do, but obedience in our willingness to walk in His words and commandments every day.

To walk in His light with our thoughts, words and actions. To walk in His peace when we face doubts and fears. To walk in His joy when we cant find any reason to be joyful in the middle of a hard trial.

Each day brings new challenges and hardships. And every day we are required to get out of bed and make a choice about where our strength will come from.

Thank goodness, that every day we are given new opportunities for us to get stronger and stronger in Him.

What struck me today about this verse in Deuteronomy 11:8, is how God is telling us to walk with Him, and in His Word, and follow His ways - every day - not only when we are feeling too weak to face life on our own.

He is commanding us not to try live life in our own strength, and then one day when a storm hits, suddenly turn to Him for strength.

Daily obedience = strength for every day. Even if our physical weakness is a reality, our spiritual weakness only comes when we take our eyes off the source of our power.

Philippians 4:13 is a popular verse that people use when talking about strength, because it says "For I can do everything through Christ,who gives me strength."

This verse is commonly used to encourage people who are going through a tough time. But what is most important, is the understanding that this verse does not just mean that strength will come because we know Christ. That kind of strength only comes from a personal relationship with Christ; a relationship based on love, obedience, and a full, unwavering commitment. A relationship based on a promise to obey.

The inner, emotional strength we desperately need when faced with hard times, can only come through our daily obedience of trying to live a life that pleases Christ, and our daily repentance as we fall woefully short of doing so.

Today I am still sad about the situation of my sweet daddys wife, who has been a part of our family for over 16 years, but I am in a better mood. I do trust God to give me strength to face the hard days when they roll around. And believe me, I will be fully relying on Him to provide the strength that I cannot find on my own.

Knowing that He will be there with me, holding me up, helps turn my frown upside down, into a smile.

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    7 comments:

    pipedi said...

    Wow!!! I read the verses in Deut. this morning too, but came nowhere near gleaning from it what you did. I just had to sit here and thank God for your post. Bless you!

    Mary said...

    Tracie,

    I have felt God's strength when going through some very difficult times with illnesses of my in-laws. I felt God wrap his arms around me and say "Be Still and KNOW I am God". That gave me the strength I needed to get through those years. I pray for strength for you, your Step-mom and your Dad.

    Have a blessed day.

    ~Grace and Peace said...

    Tracie,
    I am so sorry to hear about your step-mom. Reading it took me back a few years ago when my own mom had the same procedure done. She's also in heaven now. I just want to extend my ((((HUGS)))) to you from one daughter to another.
    P.S. I was just thinking about you last night not knowing all this was happening because I remembered the treasure box verses I got from you. I have used those to bless at least 4 people now. I pray that you have that treasure box out now and may God speak to you today.

    Tabitha@ichoosebliss said...

    I lost my aunt two days ago and although I felt overwhelming sadness I also felt extreme gratitude for knowing her and for her now being forevermore pain-free.

    Van said...

    Tracie, I am greiving with you as you begin this long journey and realease your loved one. Today I wrote in my blog about the losses we are experiencing as we face the aging and passing of our parents. You and your loss were in my thoughts and prayers as I wrote. I am praying for your heart and your daddy's heart heart today.

    Joyful said...

    Tracie, I am just reading this now and lifting you and your family in prayer. So sorry to hear of the challenges you are facing. Sending hugs.

    Love & prayers,
    Joy

    Janie said...

    Tracie,

    I have a co-worker whose daughter is battling diabetes. Her kidneys are only working 60% (she found out yesterday). I am not sure if my co-worker is a christian, I know she attends church. I don't believe her daughter is a christian (she is 30. She asked me to get her something from God's words about encouragement and I knew I could find it on your blog. Thanks for you posts. I read my Encouragement for Today everyday.