Sin and Sovereignty

Well, the Holy Spirit has used this blog to share His story, His word, and His love to many people throughout the world. And in order to use me as the typist, He found me in my hard, roly poly shell and convinced me to uncurl it. It was scary to show my belly, but He brought so much love, joy, and encouragement from that exposure that I covet the memory as one of my lifelong bests. Yet, over time as the crises and attention were diverted; I rolled back up. Whether it was intentional or not, I have struggled with being open and vulnerable toward God, not just on the blog. I realize now that I blamed receiving the terminal diagnosis, especially that last time, from Dr. Litton, for killing off part of me. But now I recognize that it wasn’t what was done to me–I’m not the victim, I’m the villain, but if I cling to Christ now, He will mold me into the victor.

It began a few years ago when I realized, and boasted, that everyone I had heartily prayed for had been healed. Please recognize that my stomach aches as I recognize the pride in that statement. I was on a faith “high”, and all five of the terminal people I had prayed for had been healed. All cancer gone. No cancer here. Total remission. Cancer free. No evidence of disease. He healed those people! I should never have claimed some sort of credit for that by attaching my prayers to His work. I desperately want to defend my arrogance, to sugar-coat and explain it away. But, I belittled the God I serve when I took credit for such healings (He had me pray for them, He answered those prayers. It is about Him, not me.). Like when God told Moses to speak to the rock for it to yield water, and instead Moses (pasted below, Numbers 20:8-13) said to the congregation, “shall we bring water for you?” and struck the rock. Moses had the same end game as God’s plan, which was to get the water to the people. But he took the credit with his statement and took the glory. For someone who desires to live in order to give God glory, stealing it from Him is the worst sin I can imagine. And, yup, I do believe He rescued me from certain death specifically so I can glorify Him in word and deed. In other words, Mission: Failed.

Proverbs 16:18 is true–pride and a haughty attitude come before a fall, and I guess that was where I tripped big time. I’m sure there were little things leading up to it that I’ve forgotten about. But after my boasting He stopped answering my prayers. People started suffering more and dying all around me. In fact, two of the people I had believed were healed have since passed away. Of course, my faith wavered, the truths He taught me seemed confounded, the deadness within me grew and I felt unable to control it, but too distracted to care.

Until yesterday that would have been the end of the story. I had deep questions for God and had been praying for Him to help me “feel” again, but I didn’t think there was any unrecognized awesome thing He had done. But now He is showing me this and I’m really, really grateful that the Holy Spirit blocked me from trekking further down the dark road I was on… Proverbs 2:13 says wicked men “have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways”. He saved me from straying toward a life away from Him, where I would lead His sheep astray. He cares so much for His flock that He protected them from me. And me from me!

God showed me all this in the last hour. It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to outsiders, but He has been preparing me, cultivating this revelation for a long time coming, yet I had no hint of what was going on. I never thought about my pride in that context, just felt like He had abandoned me. And since then I couldn’t really “feel” anymore. And I didn’t always mind. I was wrong. I was wrong to be prideful. Wrong to embrace the ensuing numbness. Wrong to refuse to face my feelings of abandonment. And in all those wrongs, there was One who was right. All along, God was right! How many times do we tell ourselves, “He has a reason for everything…maybe one day in heaven I’ll understand”, with no expectation of ever “getting” it? He reveals Himself to us on EARTH, if we just ask, and keep asking, and keep asking, then ask again! He did not abandon me, He protected me! He didn’t do it just as a discipline or a test, but for the good of His people. Don’t get me wrong, God didn’t let sick people die to teach me a lesson, He aligned the timing of all that would happen for the sake of all those touched by it. Every one of us is learning, struggling, being challenged, and growing, simultaneously. He put those people into my life and heart to pray for so I could experience the blessings and lessons from unanswered prayers. And He blessed countless others in praying for the exact same people with the lessons and experiences individualized for them.

THAT is our God. He will not ever leave us nor forsake us. He is closer than a brother. He knows your name and the hairs on your head. He loves you. He loves me. Not in a distant, bored, “dead-inside” type of way. He loves you with the raw and jagged emotion that is sensitive enough to want better for you. And to not overlook your sins and struggles because it would be easier in the short run. Hallelujah to Jesus Christ, our Savior, who lived the perfect life, suffered more than we can ever understand, and carried our burdens and shame. He dragged my pride along with the cross and I was forgiven for it at Calvary. Because after He rose from the grave He ascended into heaven where He intercedes for me. He was already punished for every one of my sins, and loves me anyway! He accepts me, even though it’s hard to accept myself these days. I am not worthy of His love, His sacrifice, His forgiveness, or His company. Even if I finally get it together and become closer to perfect, I will need a living sacrifice for when I fall short. Before Jesus came, the priests who atoned for the sins of the people walked back and forth all day, offering the sacrifices to the Lord, because the sins were endless. Jesus did it once, and nothing can be added or taken from that. All we can do is accept it. No matter how awful or great you are, you need a living sacrifice, and He is waiting for your prayer! The angels rejoice when a sinner turns to Him (Luke 15:10). If you aren’t sure that you’ve ever made those angels sing, do it now–ask Him to be your true Lord and to dwell within you. And ask Him to alert the angels!

Numbers 20:8-13 (referenced in second paragraph)

“Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-4320K" data-link="(K)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” And Moses took the staff <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-4321L" data-link="(L)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>from before the Lord, as he commanded him. Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-4322M" data-link="(M)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>“Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?”,  And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-4323N" data-link="(N)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.  And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-4324O" data-link="(O)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>you did not believe in me, <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-4324P" data-link="(P)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”  <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-4325Q" data-link="(Q)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord, and through them he showed himself holy.”
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Heart of My Heart

The Lord is teaching me about my heart and Holy Spirit. The lesson is so deep, yet perfectly simple, and it touches me to the core. I’ve said many times that part of me has felt dead inside since my diagnosis. It’s not a depression, just something I wrestle with, and sometimes it’s helpful. In fact, Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”, and whatever I unconsciously do to keep from really feeling things can protect my heart. But, He has shown me how special it is to deeply care for people, which can’t be done when we are too guarded. And when we’re talking about letting our guards down to share God’s love with them, we’re really opening our hearts to Him. He is the only One it’s totally safe to trust. He said, “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes keep my ways.” Proverbs 23:26

There is so much pain in the world; brokenness underlies every sin, it’s hidden behind welcoming smiles, exudes from those lying at the foot of the cross and also from the worshipping at the feet of idols. We have to harden our hearts sometimes just to make it through our own day, let alone to stay standing in the midst of so much sorrow. It’s easier to put our heads down and keep trucking…the phrase “herd immunity” takes on another meaning to me upon this reflection.

I want to enjoy the life He has blessed me with, and to reserve the pain and misery for the sad parts of daily life. But, that’s not His plan. And His plan is better. His plan includes opening our hearts for more risk, more pain, but more reward. He has aligned my heart with the hearts of others, and my spirit mourns and delights along with them. 

It’s clear that He puts certain people and situations in our paths to pray for and meditate on more than others. I am so fortunate that He put my story on many of your hearts, and that you were obedient to pray for us. I’ve heard so many stories of how special it was to you all when I was healed, because it made it such a special answer to your own prayer to hear the news Dr. Rassam shared, “It’s gone, your cancer is all gone! I have never seen anything like it!”. 

When I prayed for Debora’s healing, my spirit deeply interceded for her. It was hard and exhausting and terrifying. But when we received the confirmation of her healing it was the most special news I could imagine. In many ways I was more moved than with my own healing. The joy of the Lord was so powerful I couldn’t sleep or even carry on a conversation about anything else. It is an incomparable memory of the Lord and me that I thoroughly cherish. Even in my guarded heart I would daresay that experience alone is worth being brokenhearted the rest of my days. I long for others to experience that, not to try to strongarm the Lord into doing more miracles, but to give all the chance to witness that side of Him. His love and power are incomprehensible, but more obvious when our hearts are open and watching for these things. 

“And these signs will accompany those who believe…they will lay their hands on the sic, and they will recover.” Mark 16: 17;18

We all have many opportunities to pray and care for others every day. I don’t know how or why He opens our hearts toward certain people and not others. I do know that He is the God of our hearts and opens and hardens them as He sees fit. So, I want to make sure to include some of the problems people contact me about on here, in case He opens your heart to pray for them. If you haven’t had the blessing of interceding deeply for someone who sort of “shares” your heart, dare to ask for such an opportunity. Dare to care. 

Some of these people already share my own heart. I imagine I know the depth of their despair, but all I actually know is Ps 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”.

Lyn received PET scan results, thanks to all for praying! Sadly, the scan showed no improvement with the medication she’s been taking, and a slight increase in the spread stage 4 breast cancer. This is totally devastating and confusing, they don’t know what treatment to do next, or what doctor’s recommendations to follow. Let’s pray that He shows Himself to be Lyn’s Great Physician and reminds the whole family of His sovereignty. Pray boldly that He fully heals Lyn, so His great name will be exalted throughout the land, and that many come to faith because of it.
A friend is having a PET scan today. We are believing in and expecting a perfect report of no cancer at all. Pray for peace, love, joy, and truth to reign!!!
Julie, Karen, Mila and Kelly are all fighting breast cancer. Daniel has malignant mesothelioma and his sons are 1 and 3 years old. Amanda and Meredith are young and are bravely battling different cancers. Pray the Lord will be close to them and that they grow in their faith and assurance of who He is. Pray for their hearts, souls, and bodies!

Alison needs total and permanent physical relief from the severe facial pain she’s been facing, it’s torturous. My friends Betsy and Natalie have been struggling with lyme disease and all it’s effects.  
Cheri needs prayer to be overcome by God’s goodness, that He nourishes the parched land with His living water, and that her soul finds rest and peace in His arms.

I’m sorry for the lack of details with all of these, but God knows everything about each of these people. He knows His plans to bless them all with abundant, everlasting life, and to lead them beside still streams. Every one of them faces agony in different ways, and has done so for many days. I pray they would persevere and never lose hope. That the glory of God will fill their lives and that they would reflect it back to our Savior.

Matthew 4:23, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.”

Faith for Glory

I’ve been treasuring something in my heart, I guess the way Mary did when Jesus delighted and surprised her–before He proved Himself to the world. It’s a doozy to me, but part of that is the timeliness of the revelation amongst the general struggles I’ve had. So, over the past few years my faith peaked, and has since faltered a bit. The peak lasted between my own healing and Debora’s, and I saw all things of God through a different lens–one I never knew existed. You know, faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb 11:1)”. When I was healed that took on new meaning, I discovered that God was so much bigger than the things we could see or understand, and that He would and does do more than we can see or understand. But, after the peak came the fall, where I witnessed less and less of His awesomeness and therefore have come to expect less and less of Him.

Some would say this lowered expectation of God is a more appropriate guideline. That it’s arrogant or ignorant to expect more of Him in this day and age. It’s certainly easier to fit that “God” into my schema and life. People don’t need you to explain or convince them to have faith in a God who helps our but isn’t a real Helper. That “God” is simple enough for humans without the Holy Spirit to understand. You don’t get disappointed by the One who Can answer but choose not to. I don’t cry as much this way. Don’t feel the need to lie prostrate on the floor before the Almighty God and plead for the needs of the people He created…

The burden might seem lifted when the only real prayer you say in a day is, “Your will be done”, right? Because it doesn’t bind us with the desires of our hearts. It pawns off the responsibility of intercessory love so we can get back to the hard work He has called us to.

But…that’s not real faith. That’s trusting in ourselves and hoping in a god as powerful as a turbo boost of good luck.

That’s not the God we serve.

We serve the One who created us. Who chose us, delights in us, rescues us, heals us, helps us, guides us, intercedes for us, who became flesh for us, who was cursed and hung on a tree for us, forgave us, and loves us. He loves us too well for us to overlook the hard parts of His calling and our faith. I will choose to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16), I will declare the works I have known Him to do, and I will not belittle Him by expecting things like that to end.

Jesus did many miracles and healed many in the gospels. Some say He doesn’t do that stuff anymore, but I’m living proof that He does. He is glorified when people see His hand at work like that. And He was in the healing business before He became flesh. In Numbers 12, Miriam complained about her brother Miriam. That was particularly offensive to God because it was like grumbling against Him. He punished her with leprosy, which would get her put out of the camp and eventually would be the end of her. Moses did NOT say, “Oh gracious God, your will be done!”, or, “Thank you for punishing her, she really hurt my feelings and obviously she deserved it.” Nope. This man, who God had just said is “faithful in all my house…and he beholds the form of the Lord” (12:7) saw the leprosy and “cried out to the Lord, ‘O God, please heal her–please“. We know this is a foreshadowing of how Jesus would pray for the lost from His place on the cross. But it was literal in this case regarding physical healing as well–God answered Moses’ prayer.

God didn’t look down on Moses for praying that way, Later he is described as the most humble man who ever lived. So it’s not prideful to pray like that. Not faithless to ask for miracles. He set a great example and it’s our job to follow it.

With that said, please join me in praying in faith for total healing for Lyn, Julie, Karen, and another unnamed friend, all with stage 4 cancer. Lyn has a PET scan tomorrow (Monday), and expects to get the results Wednesday. I noticed that Moses and all the sick people who Jesus and the disciples healed were not expected to explain why they wanted the healing. Perhaps it’s because the reasons don’t matter That every person is equally valuable to the God who doesn’t show favoritism. And because it doesn’t matter how righteous we are, we don’t deserve His salvation, healing, or anything else. But He blesses us with it anyway, because Jesus bore our sins. In Psalm 116:5, it says the death of every saint is precious to God. He cares about our lives and deaths! I’m not suggesting that life on earth is any better than eternity in heaven. But these ladies all have the desire to stay on earth longer, and I ask that we pray for His supernatural healing, not for the sake of their great doctors, but in spite of the doctors, for the sake of our precious, perfect father. May they be healed fully, in such a way that the One who does it receives the credit. To Him be the glory!