New Year’s Resolutions

As you craft your New Year’s Resolutions, think about this…

Nicki Edwards

Resolutions

Resolution: 1. A firm decision to do or not to do something.

A New Year’s resolution: 1. The commitment a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects or the reforming of a habit.

“I am about to do something new! See, I have already begun! Now it springs up. Do you not perceive it? Do you not see it? Will you not give heed to it?” (Isaiah 43:19)

Just as a new Christian becomes a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), New Year’s Eve marks the start of a new day for many people. It signifies the start of a new year. It can symbolize the ending of one thing and the beginning of a new season. A new chapter. It can represent new opportunities. It can represent change. A chance to do something different. It can represent hope for the future.

For me, there is just…

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2 Kings 4 – Wasted Faith

2 Kings 4

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.     ~ Romans 8:28 NIV84

How many times in your life have you prayed for something, big or small, to have it not happen the way you wanted?  Maybe it was as simple as finding a lost item, or as complicated as repairing a broken relationship, or as miraculous as healing someone on their death bed.  Have you bargained with God?  If only, then I will…. or take me instead….. I have.

When I read the story on 2 Kings chapter 4 in the book Greater by Pastor Steven Furtick, at first I was astonished that the bible should depict a story of a faithful woman losing her son.  The son she didn’t ask for but was a gift from God in her later years.  I found it amazing that from the perspective of Greater, Elisha the prophet had a servant lay his staff on the child and the child remained dead.  Pastor Furtick used this part of the story to show that our prayers are not always answered in the way we want and they are not always heard in the way we ask them.

However, when I opened my bible to read 2 Kings 4, I realized that once Elisha arrived at the scene, he did indeed revive the boy.  As wonderful as this is, it made me mad.  (Yes, I am admitting these horrible feelings.) A miracle should not make me mad, but in the context of what was in my book verses what is in the bible, it did make me mad.

You see, when my son was sick with cancer, I prayed.  I begged.  I bargained. I would have done anything to keep him alive, including dying myself.  Most parents would.  I remember sitting at my kitchen table with my pastor just a couple of days after Louis died and asking him, “Why are there so many accounts of God bringing people back to life in the bible, but he couldn’t bring my son back to life?”  Honest, raw question from a newly grieving mother.

I have spent the past 6 1/2 years learning.  Learning more about God.  Learning more about the bible.  Learning more about myself and my relationship with God.  And as I learn more, I question less.  As I learn more, I ask for less.  This balance, this relationship, is built on faith.  A faith that does not require Why’s and I Don’t Understand’s.  A faith that just accepts.

I don’t know why my son got cancer.  I don’t know why he died.  I don’t know why God didn’t bring him back to life for me.  But I have stopped asking those questions.  I don’t doubt that He could, I just don’t need to know the answer.  As much as I don’t like the situation, it is not about me.  I can’t see the whole picture, but I need to trust the one who can.

God is the almighty Creator.  He never leaves us.  When things get difficult in our lives, we are the ones who walk away from Him.  If we remain steadfast in our faith, especially through the most trying times, we will reap His rewards now and in heaven.

Wasted faith?  I think not.  It is those times when we feel the most lost, the most out of touch, the most like God has forgotten us that we must remain faithful.  God sees the whole plan and He will see us through, always.

GOD-fidence

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. ~ Hebrews 11:1 NLT

I do not find it ironic that our verse this week is on faith.  Last week, my husband cut his left, middle finger off below the nail in a lawn mower accident.  Sparing you all the gross details, trust my word that it was ugly.  We rushed to the emergency room with tears and fears.  My husband is left-handed, and more importantly to him, he is a piano player.  He plays for our church each Sunday and this is his passion.

The ER doctor did not give us much hope.  He stitched the skin back on.  The bone was obliterated, so really, it was just skin.  He wrote a prescription for pain medication and sent us on our way with a referral to see a specialist the following Monday.  My husband, Pat was devastated.  He was in pain both physically and emotionally.  Here we are at the beginning of advent and he can’t play piano.  He can’t go to work and he can’t really do much of anything.

We went to the specialist and he told us that he wanted to “see how it heals”.  He said it was a long shot, but IF the skin stays viable, and IF scar tissue forms inside where the bone used to be to fill in the finger, and IF he doesn’t get any infections, then MAYBE he could keep his finger length.  The nail is gone and won’t come back, and it may look a bit funny, but for the purpose of playing the piano, it would work IF all these things fall into place.  Did I mention that the finger was actually cut OFF?  Below the nail at that first knuckle?  Yes, it’s a long shot.

He was dizzy.  He was nauseous.  He was in pain and he was depressed.  However, we prayed.  We prayed prayers of thanksgiving mostly.  We thanked God for sparing his life, his hand and for allowing him to make it into the house to get me to take him to the ER.  All miraculous things to me.  He could have passed out in the driveway and I may not have noticed since I was watching a movie with my girls inside.  We kept praying prayers of thanksgiving and were faithful in our prayer that he would heal in whatever way God wanted him to heal.  We didn’t ask for anything.  We were just grateful.

About a week after the first doctor visit, I started noticing some black skin on the wound.  This was a sure sign to me that the skin was dying and that surgery to remove part of the finger was most likely sooner than later.  I even called the doctor’s office and they confirmed that my thoughts were on track and that was most likely the situation.  We were due to see the doctor in 2 more days and they said we could wait until then.

We went for that appointment just yesterday, feeling scared and nervous.  We knew God was in control and we accepted that, but anxiety was creeping in.  The doctor looked at his finger and told us it was healing beautifully.  (WHAT?)  He said it looks exactly as he hoped it would. (IS HE LOOKING AT THE SAME FINGER?)  He said to keep doing what we are doing and he will see us in a week. (WHAT ABOUT THE BLACK SPOT?)  So, I asked him about it and he said it is dying skin, but it is one layer on the surface.  From what he can see, there is good, viable tissue underneath and that black skin should shed off just like we shed off skin each day!   He made no promises to us that Pat will or will not need surgery in the future, but he told us right now, it is not necessary.

This moment, this situation to me is a miracle.  I saw my husband’s finger in two pieces.  I know he is missing bone.  I see the black skin each time I change his bandages, yet, God is healing him in a way that is practically impossible and against the odds.  I can’t even explain it, but I see God working where no one else can possible work.

I have faith in God.  I have confidence that he can heal my husband’s hand.  I don’t know if he will choose to allow Pat to keep his entire finger or not, but he is doing great things at the moment.  He gave us such a gift and lifted my husband’s spirit so much, that Pat went to church last evening and played piano, less one finger, with our pastor.  He played until he bled and smiled the entire time.  Maybe God is healing his hand completely. Maybe he is boosting his confidence and showing him he doesn’t need that finger to play.  Either way, he is building our faith and he is working greater things in my husband.

I hope this story which is real and very much happening as we speak will inspire all of you to look at what you have and pray thanksgiving for it.  As small or  insignificant as it may seem, God can do miraculous things with what you have.  He created you and he can use you for wondrous deeds if you let him.  However, it all starts with thanksgiving and faith.

Mary

I spent a great deal of time this week trying to figure out what I wanted to blog about.  I even had a draft that I wasn’t thrilled with all drawn up and ready for some revisions.  Today, on the way to school, it hit me.

Who inspires me?  Who do I look up to and strive to be like?

Mary

Mary was a young girl when Angel Gabriel appeared to her.  Gabriel delivered a message from God.  “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:30-33)

Mary, young and frightened did not understand how this could happen.  A virgin, betrothed to Joseph, the carpenter.  Did she run?  Did she freak out?  Did she reject this Angel of the Lord?  No, she faithfully replied, “I am the Lord’s servant, May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38)

Do you know any 14 year old girl who would react in this way?  Or respond in this way?

Do you know any woman today who would respond in this way?

Mary is the essence of faithfulness in God.  She portrays a woman who realizes the implications of what God is asking her, yet she readily accepts the invitation.  She knows she will endure ridicule and mocking from the towns people talking about her being with child out of marriage.  She may even be stoned.  She realizes that this could ruin her engagement.  She knows she will need to tell her parents that she is with child and that they may not believe her that she was visited by an angel and conceived by the Holy Spirit.  I mean, would you believe your 14 year old daughter if she told you this?

Still, with all of that ahead of her, she gracefully said yes.  Yes to God, yes to Jesus.  She had no idea what her life might look like years down the road.  She had no idea that her son would be a miracle worker or a teacher to the rabbis, that he would heal the sick and drive out the demons.   She did not know that her baby boy conceived of the Holy Spirit would be crucified in front of her just 33 years later.   If she knew all of this, would she have accepted God’s greater for her?  Maybe – maybe not.

Fear of what’s coming stands in the way of many women today.  Sometimes the fear is real and sometimes we conjure it up in our minds.  Mary was a perfect woman.  She was perfect in every way that God could have wanted her to be.  Of course, He knew that and that is why He chose Mary to be the mother of His only Son.  He knew she would not question His plan of salvation.  (Did she even know she was such an integral part of Salvation?)

I am sure Mary had her doubts and I am sure she made mistakes as well.   We are human, Mary included.  However, her faith in God and her unwavering trust in Him to lead her, Joseph and Jesus to where He needed them to be is what inspires me.  Not that she knew what to do.  That she didn’t know what to do and did it anyway.  Not that she had all the answers.  That she didn’t have any of the answers and gave it her best anyway.  Not that she was the mother of the year.  That she was a humble, poor, girl who never carried a child and birthed the Prince of Peace anyway.

These are the reason I look up to Mary.  These are the reasons as a woman today, I need to have steadfast faith and unwavering trust, like Mary did at 14.

Breath of Heaven – Mary’s Song

Gearing up for Something Greater

I remember so vividly the Easter before my son died.  I remember so clearly thinking and saying, “Life is so great right now.  Everything is so perfect!” I felt blessed, lucky, happy.  Three days later my son was diagnosed with brain tumor and my world fell apart.  After feeling that life couldn’t get any better just days before, here I was in the bottom of a hole, trying to understand what was whirling around me.  I couldn’t make sense of it.

I have had several years to process these moments, 6 1/2 years to be exact.  The pain is still raw at times and I never stop missing my son.  However, I have come to many realizations.  My life, my perfect life 6 years ago was far from perfect.  It was full of busy, full of activity, full of friends and full of engagements.  What it lacked was time with God.  I believed in God and I never doubted His promises for me and my family, but I did not take the time to listen to Him or to read His Word.  I was too busy.

As I grieved my son and as I continue to grieve him, I have given myself an opportunity to slow down in my life.  I have even come to a halt at times.  I have allowed myself to “Be Still, and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10)  I have redefined “perfect” and “important” in my family’s life.  I have realized that God has plans for me and I was too busy to hear Him trying to talk to me.  I was satisfied with my mediocre plans that couldn’t be great if created only by me.  I learned that greatness comes through God alone.  Perfection is God alone.  Lucky doesn’t exist and happiness is a state of mind, not a life style.  Blessings are given freely to those who are willing to accept them.

These life lessons have helped me grieve.  They have placed a peace in my heart that cannot come from earthly things.  They do not negate the loss of my son, rather they embrace it and help me grow from it.  These lessons have redefined my life and have helped me put my priorities where they need to be, with God first and Family second, no exceptions.

My heart aches when I see others who have not figured out this beautiful gift yet, but I continue to pray for all.  I pray that others can learn to slow down and listen to God.  God has plans for each and every one of us that are Greater than we can even imagine!  God can help us through our trials, but we need to know how to stop and listen.  God can lift us up in good time and in difficult times.  He is always there, we just need to recognize this and accept it.

My life still has difficulties, just like yours does!  My daughter’s fight, everyday, my cat and dog wreck things and make me angry, my house is never clean enough and I am constantly doing laundry, grading papers and struggling to keep up with one thing or another.  The difference in my life now is that I recognize when I need to stop.  I recognize when I am piling on too much.  I recognize when I need to pray more and listen more.  And for that I am grateful!

God has Greater plans for me and  I will not miss out on them because I am too busy!  Are you ready for your Greater plans from God?

To join the GREATER Online Bible Study by Steven Furtick, visit www.MelissaTaylor.org to register.  It is FREE and FABULOUS! You won’t regret it!