Cancer Free

****I wrote this in February of 2017, the day Natalie received her official cancer free diagnosis.  But, this time two years ago was when Natalie was first diagnosed with cancer, and I’ve asked her mom’s permission to share this story, from my own perspective. I hope you read it…and celebrate Natalie’s beautifully victorious life with me.**** 

I remember it now.

Vividly.

The phone calls came, one after the other.

“Hey, I told Rhonda about the lump on Nat’s tummy, and she said we need to go to the doctor right away.”

“They think it’s a tumor. She will have a biopsy done today.”

“Natalie has cancer….they are hurrying to get us admitted to St Jude’s.”

I didn’t want to believe it; I didn’t want to move. I wanted to stand, frozen in time, pretending that this wasn’t happening to our closest friends.

But it was happening, and so I went to support our friends.

I stayed in the hospital for hours to play guitar for Natalie.IMG_0817

And then, we heard the treatment plan estimate.

Two years!

So, we did what we could. We brought food; we helped pack; we made a care basket for the road. We made a list of how we would help look after their house…

And then, we hugged.

We said goodbye

(Here we are, minutes before they walked out the door.)

All in just TWO days.

As I left their house, I began to weep ugly, big, fat, rolling tears.  I was devastated, scared, and most of all, angry!

I wish I could say I was angry over the injustice and brutality of cancer, especially, childhood cancer.

That would be normal and unselfish and…..righteous, even.

But, at the time, all I could think about was how our life would be forever changed. This cancer was taking away our best friends, leaving us on the outside, in a completely different world, watching, helpless, out of control….

Yet, here I was, angry that our weekly coffee dates were gone. There would be no more last-minute dinner invites. Our weekly habit of putting together our leftovers and other random foods (the extreme opposite of formal dinner parties) would not be resumed.

(In actuality, there would be more dinners.)

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I was angry that my own daughter would lose a very special presence in her life. Natalie, you see, is the closest thing to a sister Isabela has. How could we bring her through this? How could we show her hope in the face of this destructive and life-threatening cancer?IMG_8335IMG_8299IMG_3643IMG_0268

I was angry and there was nothing I could do to save the day….

Because, that’s what I do, you know? I’m that friend who swoops in, brings food, cleans your house, helps you move, takes you to the airport at 3 a.m., watches your kiddos, helps wherever and however  I can. I am there, and I want to be there for my friends.

But this time I couldn’t. There was absolutely nothing I could do but pray, wait, pray, wait, pray wait, pray wait and OH, how hard that is for a broken and fallen person, such that I am.

So, with shaking hands and faith,  I pulled over into the parking lot of a mall and I wept.

Loudly …

I felt like I had experienced a death, yet I knew even in that moment, it wasn’t about me at all.

Still, I wept.

wept selfishly at how everything would change for us, yet I knew that this was the least of things to weep over.

Oh, how I wept.

wept bitterly over the loss of our strongest support system. Yet, I knew that in reality, they were the ones losing their support systems, their home, their community and quite possibly, their daughter…

Yet, however self-consumed I was, I never said a word. I have never shared those feelings about that day. Part of it was shame – man, I felt guilty – but mostly, it was because it wasn’t a story that needed to be shared, from me, at the time. It wasn’t my right, it wasn’t my priority, and most importantly, it wasn’t my truth.

Somehow, even in my anger, even in my grief, I knew this.

It wasn’t about me.

It was about them.

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It was about Natalie, her family and doing everything we could to be positive, even if we were scared out of our minds. It was about sending small gift packages and funny memes, even when we were depressed and questioning God’s providence.

It was about always respecting and valuing their faith and never-ceasing to share scriptures of hope with them. Even when hopelessness was raging inside me so much so that all I could hear was the rushing winds of fear and the howling screeches of anxiety….I could NOT give in. I needed to be strong.

And, in the dark night of my anger,  I realized I could not stay. I could not live there. That knowledge gave me gumption. It gave me the ability to speak back to the storm around me.

You know, looking back, I’m glad I stopped to weep over my selfish concerns. I’m thankful that I got it all out, then and there. I needed to take a few minutes to release my fears over the situation and even the ones pointed at myself, the “what if I won’t know what to say,” and the “what if I won’t know how to be a good friend through it all” kind of things…

I needed to release it so I could see clearly. So, I could stand on the other side of fear, and say, ” No! I will NOT  hide out. I will not be so distracted by my day-to-day that they will have to go through this alone. I will be a constant. I will listen. I will supplement fear with faith. I will pad frustration with gentleness. I will finish negativity with reminders of blessings and truths,  however I can.”

Sitting in that car, I calmed down and made an internal vow to not just encourage my friend, Natalie’s mom, to be strong. But, I also made a vow that I would stay strong too, even if I had to fake it….

My friends, I have truly  failed at a lot of things; I have truly failed a lot of people.

But, this is one thing I might have done good on.

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Still, I do have regrets. 

I wish I had visited more. I wish I had quit my job so I had the freedom to leave and give Natalie’s mom a break when she needed it most (this is a big one).  I wish I had sent more care packages. I wish I had texted more often. I wish I had prayed more; I wish I had cleaned her house more while they were gone.

But most of all…I wished I had loved Natalie more. I wished I had hugged her more. I wished I had enjoyed her laughter and freedom to just be who she was more.unnamed

(Beautiful Natalie, home from St Jude’s)

I wished I had given more attention to her, I wished I had talked to her more. I felt so ashamed when I thought of the type of friend I was to my own best friend’s daughter.

I felt intense regret for not playing with her more or playing the guitar for her more, all day if she wanted……

This precious and beautiful life, our Natalie. So full of joy and perfection, our Natalie.

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This is my greatest regret…..

But yet, there is hope, you see. Read on…

Today, I received a phone call from Natalie’s mom. I had been waiting all morning for this phone call; I knew it was the day of her scan. When the phone finally rang, I ran around the house, desperately searching for my phone, answering it when I heard it.

This silence was tinged with anticipation, and in a split second, I thought “No, please do not let this be the silence of mourning.” But, her voice broke through the tension, choked with tears, saying, “ She is cancer free, Natalie is cancer free!”

I don’t remember what I said. I’m quite certain there were no real words spoken, anyway. Whatever it was, it was lovely, shattering the darkness with one loud, beautiful and deafening crash!

It’s over!

It’s finally over! This time, I can cry tears of joy, defiant joy! No more death, no more disease, no more cancer, fear, anxiety and no more insidious and ruthless cancer lurking behind us!  Life has won today! Life has won; Natalie has won; God has won and hope has returned. Thank you, God. 

Thank you, God.

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(cancer-free and home-coming party)

-A.

“Why do we doubt the Lord of the seas

Who has parted its waves; made a way from the enemy!

Why do we doubt the God of miracles

Who has raised the dead, created the world!

From dust, He made flesh

From death, He raises LIFE

His works never stop

His word stands through time….”

Hosea 11

Sow in me righteousness,

Reap in me steadfast love,

Break in me fallowed land

 

It is time to seek You, Lord…

 

Come like the rain,

Your goodness pouring down.

 

For though I run, scattered in sin,

You do not lose me.

 

Your faithfulness reels me in,

Your fences protect my life

The boundaries of Your mercy secure me,

Your blood brings me into Your family.

 

O tender love of God,

It is time to seek Your face.

Change

A few months ago, or maybe many months ago, I was asked to do the Wednesday night service teaching over Genesis 34:1-36:43

This is an tiny excerpt, my conclusion, and my call to allow change to seep into our souls.

  • GOD can bring good out of EVIL.
  • God is able to use the evil that people do, bringing about positive results.
  • God’s has the ability to overcome any obstacle; His covenant will always advance
  • God cannot be bought and his favors are not for sale. Instead, He has purchased our brokeness and our stench of death and mended us! With his blood, He has set the righteousness of His life in us, and he does not even charge us!
  • God is the ultimate changer: life-changer, heart-changer, emancipator King, our God.
  • We cannot pay him or ever afford to pay him. No amount of money in the entire universe would be enough to afford His mercies. We can only give him tokens of love and worship him for who HE is to us and for us.
AND
  • WE can change by renewing our minds and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us, transforming our attitudes, leading with love, not holding God to our humanistic expectations, not trying to fit God into our systems of accountability, and by not treating Him as a mercenary providing favors that can be bought.
  • We CAN change because the Holy Spirit strengthens us with grace! We can change because we are laid down to death with Christ and we are crucified with Him. We live raised to life and seated  with Christ! And, if our God is for us, nothing can stand against us, in between us or separate us!  The accuser cannot condemn because GOD is the judge and He, by  dying for us, paid our debts and won the victory over death’s grip! We out of spiritual debt and  get to thank GOD forever for his abundant mercies.
  • We can change, because we are together in this! I may be one of a few or many who do not have blood family near. You guys are my family. We are a spiritual , covenant, broken family living in a broken world, but we are bound together by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and united in faith, love, worship and the precious blood of Christ.
 God….He does not demand instant perfection. And Hallelujah! For He leads us little by little, making inroads of our self-centeredness and doing his work in our lives one step at at a time.

For us…sometimes the best word we can give to the Lord is “thank you.” Thank you Lord!

 

Healing In Our House, an appeal for Grace

Release grace upon my tongue

Welling up in me

Kindness and tenderness

Be upon me

 
In my home

Manifest

Your goodness

Your gentleness

Through me

 
Release wisdom upon my heart

Curating me

Patience and understanding

Be upon me
 

In my home

Manifest

Your goodness

Your gentleness

Through me


Release yielding in my spirit

Mercy filling me

Peace and humility

Be upon me

 
In my home

Manifest

Your goodness

Your gentleness

Through me
 

Under God,

May we repair, restore,

Mend our brokeness

Every injury- tended

Every failure-  forgiven

Every appeal-  in compassion

Til there is healing in our house.

In the wake of injustice…

I can’t even formulate the right words..all I can say is that I am truly heartbroken over the recent tragic events.I have tried to capture my feelings, to chase the argument of justice, but the words are elusive.
The heartache is deep….and because of that, all I can think of is one word.
 “Kindred.”
Are we not all flesh and blood, created by God? Are we not all brothers and sisters, worthy of love, justice and freedom?
I believe so.
Moving forward,
I have no cool meme or graphic to add.  Yet, I do have prayer ,and so do you. And prayer, which will last much longer than changing our profile pictures across social media and unite more powerfully than human hands, is transforming.
We NEED prayer.
We NEED prayer….to open our eyes, to empower us to do far more and abundantly more than we could ever imagine.
We NEED compassion. The essence of the cross is COMPASSION.
Sacrifice.
Mercy.
We never have and never will deserve mercy. Yet, still Jesus extends it. And, so should we.
God, help me to be an extender of your love and mercy and courageous enough to speak out in the face of injustice.
Lastly,
Dear, CHURCH, my fellow Jesus followers,
We must reach out our hurting LGBT brother and sisters and not IGNORE, be apathetic, judgmental or persecutive. We must do our part in healing wounds that we, ourselves, have allowed to be inflicted. We must be a safe-haven, a refuge…a SANCTUARY.
For, violence and hate are not in any part of our journey. Bigoted words and jokes are not in any part of our calling. IF they are part of your calling, then you are not following in Jesus’s footsteps.
 The light of the world, the lamp on the stand, the city on the hill – this is what Jesus asks of us.
Defender of the defenseless, advocator of the orphan and widow, mercy for the undeserving, grace for the adulterer, healing for the sick, freedom for the captive, forgiveness over and over and over and over and over and….THIS is Jesus, Whose compassion does not fail and Whose mercies are new every morning. 
Church,
If we say we are believers and followers of Jesus, than let us not hesitate to reach out.
In an event-heavy, busy, world, in our disconnected though social media states, we must endeavor to reach out, doing our parts in our every.day.average.routine-scheduled.day.
Let us do so with great intention.
I leave you with one of my favorite hymns, written by John Fawcettpub.1782
  1. Blest be the tie that binds, Our hearts in Christian love; The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
  2. Before our Father’s throne, We pour our ardent prayers; Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, Our comforts, and our cares.
  3. .We share our mutual woes, Our mutual burdens bear; And often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.
  4. When we asunder part, It gives us inward pain; But we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.
May we all allow the Sacred and Divine to intertwine through the whole of our lives SO that we can infuse God’s love and tender mercies in every interaction.
A.Stephens

The Woman With The Issue of Blood

We don’t know her name, but Jesus did…
And, just like the world doesnt know our secret sins, our shame,  the infirmities of our hearts, our bones…
Jesus does.
And still…
He waits, among us, Jesus WITH US, and He does not sit still.
No, JESUS continues in HIS work,
Yet….
All the while waiting for a touch made in faith.
TODAY,
As we casually bump into him,
Press into him,
Bumping, shoving, rushing…
HE walks among us and waits for that touch of faith,
Fearful , trembling, but believing.
He makes available to  us the outer garments of His GRACE.
And so…
Let us bring our bodies, weak, trembling,fearful, and stricken with humanity.
And then,
Let us bring our hearts, believing, expecting, hoping, and forging a path through the chaos of distraction.
And finally,
Let us bring our confessions, with great joy!
For now, we are made whole, clean, free; we are justified, vindicated, emancipated, LIBERATED.
For You, Jesus, desire mercy.
You, Jesus, delight in Mercy, abound in mercy AND
You know our names.
You know our names and YOU have made us to be a people on our knees before You so we can arise in the heavenly places BESIDE YOU.
You, Jesus, know our names.
So… we surrender.
We surrender in good faith, and  the fount of our bleeding ceases as the well springs of living water rush in to mend the violence of sin.
Psalm 67: “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you”
GOD,
We praise you.
Your grace is inexhaustible. Your affection is without end. Your mercy has no boundaries……
and
You know our name.
Surely, surely, we are blessed.

God, Moses, Fear, and Obedience

**** This is an older blog I wrote, 2 years ago on my old blogger page,  AliciaKristina.com
Numbers 14:1-12
That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. The LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”
I’ve read this scripture numerous times. Not just this specific one, but many like it in the old testament. The Israelites were saved and delivered by God’s miraculous and mighty hand. And throughout their journey in the desert, they grumbled. They complained. They were difficult, and in words my 4 year old would use, “naughty and not listening.”
 As a young girl reading these passages, I could not fathom why the Israelites were so untrusting of the Lord. Hadn’t He, in their lifetime, delivered them from slavery? Parted the sea to send them to safety? Sent food down from heaven? Led them, VISIBLY?
 But as an adult, I understand. The reality of the world and resulting hardness has affected me. My childlike awe and wonder is not so childlike anymore.
 My ‘AHA” moment from this passage is coming…
So, the Israelites cry out that they would rather have died in Egypt or the wilderness. You see, God has already promised them this land , flowing with milk and honey (abundancy). But in their humanity and unbelief, they asked to send spies to assess the land. Moses agreed- and he probably shouldn’t have- but he did. And out of the 12 spies, ( who represented each tribe) only TWO came back with faith in God’s promise. Only TWO remained faithful  that God was with them and that victory was theirs. The rest said something like, “even if God helped us, we would be defeated. They are too mighty…too many.”
Sound familiar? I certainly can see myself as an Israelite in the wilderness. And, that’s funny. Because as a child, I really related to Joshua and Caleb’s cry to the people, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
As a child, my heart was screaming, “ Trust in God people!” And now, as an adult, I’m saying, “Trust in God  (YES),”  but with also greater understanding of the humanity of the Israelites and their imperfection, fears, excuses…
Still..this is just leading up to my AHA moment.
While Caleb and Joshua pled with the people, Moses and Aaron fell prostrate before God. Most likely in prayer, because as their leaders, they knew too well the seriousness of this situation. Only falling before God and praying for his mercy would help.
So why…..why would God be angry? Or why would Joshua, Caleb, and God consider the Israelites words to be rebellious, contemptuous and faithless?
Here’s the thing,
Being afraid, fearful, and questioning on its own is NOT rebellion against God. Its pretty normal for us- actually, for me. I confess.
For example, Moses questioned his leadership skills before God. He wasn’t confident in his speaking abilities. And even Jesus, JESUS, was fearful of the upcoming Via Dolorosa. He knew all too well what was expected and what was to come. He said, ““Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
But AHA!
Jesus (and Moses) , although fearful and afraid showed us that even though we possess fear, we can still be strengthened, by the grace of God, into obedience. And, that, is the difference. The Israelites were not only fearful, afraid and questioning. They were fearful, afraid, questioning, AND disobedient. THIS constitutes unbelief. THIS constitutes rebellion against God. And, THIS rebellion was not accidental or unintentional; rather it was CHOICE.
I want to go back to Joshua and Caleb, for a moment, who tore their clothes in grief. Our pastor explained the symbolism of tearing clothes a few weeks ago at church. It was serious; It was done in mourning, because of death or imminent death. Joshua and Caleb may have been young, but the repercussions of the people’s rebellion were not lost on them. As a result, in a true rebellious spirit, Israelites conspired to stone Joshua and Caleb. “Who were these two young men? Who do they think they are, questioning us and our “faith.” We take offense! How dare they offend us; they know nothing!”
Now, this is me just guessing about feelings that led to this conspiring. As  fellow humans, I think we can pretty much guess the intensity of the conversation they were having. Yet, at this moment God appeared. And, He wasn’t too happy. And, the rest of the passage (not quoted here) is pretty long, and I won’t go too much in-depth over it. But, what happened is nothing short of spectacular.
Moses interceded for the people in an authentic plea for their mercy.  If you read the rest of the scripture, you can see how much Moses KNEW God. How much he yearned for His glory to be revealed…and how much He loved his people, despite their rebellion. You see, Moses was a leader who took the plea for his people seriously. But even more so, he took God seriously. He took God’s revelation of character seriously. And most importantly, because he KNEW God, he knew God’s character. He know God to be loving, patient, and long-suffering. With this knowledge, he asked God to display His power, not by a strong arm, but by mercy.
WOW!! This is a great example of intercession. Moses appealed to God’s power, His glory, and His promise, with a heart that was completely others-centered.  NO self-centeredness. NO agenda. NO insecurities. NO public dramatic self promotion. You get the picture.
Moses not only displayed that he knew Gods heart, but he also displayed that he shared God’s heart. This is why Moses’ intercession was so spectacular….think about it for a few minutes.
I really encourage anyone reading this to finish the scripture on their own.
Lastly, when I write or blog, most of the time, it is inspired by my own convicted heart. And I confess, that here, I am convicted.
I do not want to be fearful, afraid AND disobedient. I don’t want to live in rebellion of God….not even for a moment. That is not what I want to lay before God at the judgement seat.
GOD,
JESUS, 
I need….
Your
Courage,
Boldness,
Faith.
But always, Your grace. 
Give me grace to choose you.
To be obedient, 
despite my fears.
To be others-centered,
to be humble.
I want to KNOW you.
MORE.
I want to knowYour heart.
I want to LOVE others…
Like You.

Your grace,
All-sufficient.
for me.


-A.

Who can we bring to Jesus?

“Great crowds came to Jesus, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, those who could not speak, and many others. They put them at Jesus’ feet, and he healed them.” – Matthew 15:30

When I read this scripture, I was immediately catapulted back into time, thrown into an image of Jesus surrounded by a great crowd of people.

All around him, people desperate for healing.
All around him, people desperate for hope.
All around him, people desperate for freedom.

Then, I imagined the people experiencing the healing ministry of Jesus, and:

I heard the cries of joy.
I saw the dances of jubilee.
I marveled at the fog cleared from eyes previously blind.
I cried at the sound of voices released into freedom.

And then, all of a sudden, I felt a question rising in my spirit.

 “Who can we bring to Jesus?”

You know, it isn’t surprising that humanity hasn’t changed much since Jesus walked the earth. We still live in a humanity teeming with brokenness and completely unaware of the Divine in the chaos.

To me, it feels like walking on a tightrope at times. On one end, there is faith in humanity and on the other end, there is faith in the divinity of Christ.  As novices we walk between the two sides, teetering, tottering, and sometimes falling, but all of the time crying out, “Lord, SAVE ME!”

And true to who He is, Jesus catches us, saying, ”Stop jumping on that tightrope and STAY AT MY FEET. Don’t you know that it is at My feet where faith grows, the fog is cleared, miracles happen, and freedom is released?”

So, who CAN we bring to Jesus?”

The scripture mentions that the lame, the blind, the mute, the crippled, and many others were BROUGHT to Jesus. They weren’t just brought into the general vicinity. They didn’t find themselves there by accident. No, they were PUT at his feet and then healed.

Immediately, I envision friends bringing friends.

I envision mothers and fathers bringing sick children.

I envision brothers and sisters bringing parents.

I envision friends rallying up everyone in their circle, yelling,

“Salvation is here! Salvation is here! Come and see Christ, the Messiah, He is here at last! Finally, all of our hopes are fulfilled! Salvation is here! Let’s go, all our lives are found today! Run with me, by His very touch we can be healed! He is here! Lets GO!”

And then I see this cord, this thread, weaving through everyone, binding and CONNECTING everyone together in perfect unity. And I realize that this cord, this thread is one of…

Relationship.

Friendship.

Kindredness.

They knew each other!  They were friends, relatives….simply put, they were friends.

In light of this, the the question changes. It is no longer, “Who can I bring to Jesus?”  but,

“Who can I bring WITH me to Jesus?”

I leave you with this question and a prayer challenge.

1. Ask God the question, “Who can I bring with me to Jesus?”

***** Listen for 5 minutes…wait and allow the Lord to answer.

2. Begin to pray for the person or persons the Holy Spirit brings to mind.

3. Pray for genuine friendships to be cultivated.

4. Pray that God give you opportunities to share of your walk with Jesus.

6. Finally, pray that God gives you the courage to invite them to church and that He will prepare their hearts for your invitation.

God,

Bless every new friendship of ours. Let our hearts be bound in Christian love. Let our fellowship be kindred in spirit. And, let us run with each other to the feet of Jesus, Your Son, who ministers to our EVERY need. Amen.

 

Elijah, A Series of Responses: Discouragement, Part 3

1 KING 19:9-10, NIV

 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

 

When Elijah was rested, he went into one of the many surrounding caves. This is the man who prayed for a drought for 3 years, and the Lord answered. This is the man who prayed for rain to end the drought and the Lord answered. And, this is the man who prayed earnestly to the Lord in his time of fear. Elijah did not hold back. He said to God, “I have been zealous for You. I have been obedient. And now, I am alone and in danger of death.”

Elijah unburdened his heart to the Lord, raw in his honesty.  Yet, it was God who subtedly prodded Elijah to unburden his heart, asking, “Why are you here?” Certainly, God knew. But, He wanted to hear Elijah’s heart in the words of his choosing.

God wants a real, authentic, relationship. The kind where we actually talk to him. A lot.  The kind where we unashamedly tell him the journey is too much, or that we have had more than we can bare, or that we feel abandoned and alone, despite our faithfulness.

Even in our deepest discouragement, even when our words are most bitter, even when we find ourselves surprised at the condition of our hearts, we can trust that God is not surprised at all. Instead, He is prepared and waiting.

In closing,

When my daughter’s bestfriend moved away, she told me, “I am all alone now and there is no one to play with me. Nobody loves me now!” And then, crying loudly, she ran to her room and slammed the door. As a parent, it broke my heart. The sound of my daughter crying always pains me, no matter the circumstances. I suspect that God looks down on us as compassionately as I did my daughter. You see, I knew that her loneliness was real and justified. I knew that her sadness was real and untamed. Because I knew,  I did not tell her to stop crying or to stop feeling sad. Rather, I entered her room and sat beside her for a while, waiting. Eventually, she crawled into my lap. When she calmed down a little, I talked to her, validating her feelings and guiding her through them. Soon enough, the moment passed, and my daughter was ready to play again.

Just like a parent, God knows our circumstances. He knows that, just as a child, sometimes we run to our “rooms” crying and distraught. He knows that our pain and loneliness is big and real, and He does not prevent us from enduring all the difficulties living a faithful life yields.  He knows, just as parents do, that tribulations produce perseverance, character, and hope.

He knows and He waits beside us.  He waits for the crying to settle, the heart to soften, and the soul to calm. Tenderly and patiently, He waits.

And then, in the most perfect of moments, He speaks…(Please come back tomorrow to read my response to 1 KINGS 19:11-14

I leave you with this scripture:

Romans 5:1-5, NIV

 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have[a] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Elijah, A Series of Responses: Discouragment

Elijah.

A man. A prophet. Called by God and simply obedient. What can we take from his life, his story?

 

I am currently reading about Elijah and in the next few days, I will share parts of my writing (from my daily devotional times), along with a few quotes that I find striking.

Today, I respond after reading about Elijah’s greatest moment of discouragement.

1 KINGS 19:1-4

Even the prophet Elijah, this mighty man of prayer,  became discouraged, fearing for his life. This is interesting, because God just moved mightily though Elijah, and in front of hundreds of witnesses. How could Elijah, after all God had proven, suddenly distrust God’s protection ? So , Elijah ran, and certainly, this is a low moment. A failing moment, at that.  But instead of running from God into eternal rebellion, Elijah ran into isolation and prayed, saying, “”It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

What about his prayer? Can we not, in all our natural humanness, understand such a prayer?  While it was not necessarily honorable to run, this prayer to God depicts that Elijah still had a heart set after God’s.  Elijah was honest with God, praying earnestly in his discouragement.

We should all take note here. There will be times of uncertainty, yes? There will be times when we feel burdened by ministries, yes.  But instead of building walls, becoming disingenuous in our walks, or turning into rebellion, we should seek to be honest with God, trusting in his response. We should run into solitude, just to fall down at the mercy of Christ. When in despair, that is where our hearts should be found. It is there where God reveals himself as as tender God, full of love and affection, treating our frail humanities’ most offensive failures with the sweetest grace possible.

~May our prayers be unceasingly honest, as we can be sure to entrust God with our frail hearts and premature words. We may fall; we may arise. Wherever we are, we can be sure of God’s great affection,

A Stephens.

 

“Elijah failed in the very point at which he was strongest, and that is where most men fail. In Scripture, it is the wisest man who proves himself to be the greatest fool; just as the meekest man, Moses, spoke hasty and bitter words. Abraham failed in his faith, and Job in his patience; so, he who was the most courageous of all men, fled from an angry woman.” (Spurgeon)

“Elijah said, ‘It is enough,’ yet it was not enough even for his own enjoyment, for the Lord had more blessings in store for him … It was so with Elijah, for he was to have that wonderful revelation of God on Mount Horeb. He had more to enjoy, and the later life of Elijah appears to have been one of calm communion with his God; he seems never to have had another fainting fit, but to the end his sun shone brightly without a cloud. So it was not enough; how could he know that it was? It is God alone who knows when we have done enough, and enjoyed enough; but we do not know.” (Spurgeon)