Sunday, September 22, 2013

This Hope

I'm going to be honest. The last year has been one of the most difficult of my life. So much has happened. Sometimes it feels like my heart is breaking daily. There has been too much cancer, too many close calls with the lives of infants, too many murders,  way too many deaths. I'm starting to lose count, but in the last year alone, I believe 7 people (maybe 8) have died. People I know, people I care about. Most recently, my kind, gentle Uncle Dave. The cancer won in the end, and there was nothing that could be done. I'm going to miss him, so much. His crackly voice, one-of-a-kind laugh. He was cantankerous in only the best ways. He was one of those guys that would give you guff with a twinkle in his eye. He was a great guy, and he will be missed...by so many.

It is so hard to say goodbye so many times. So hard to stand strong and carry on through pain. Some days I don't know how I'm going to make it through. But then I remember. Hope. I have hope, as an anchor for my soul (Heb 6:19). My soul, the core of my being is securely fastened in the loving arms of Christ. No matter what happens, no matter how hard things are, He is always there. He will never let me go. And he will never give me more than I can bear. I know I can get through anything that comes my way, because He believes in me. He knows I can withstand the storm. He knows how much strength He's given me.

Pastor Levi said something today in his last point that really struck me: "It is an incredible honor to be trusted with pain." His message was about Paul. I mean, think about it. Of anyone on this earth, Paul probably had the worst year/years/decade imaginable. He suffered so much (if you're unfamiliar with his story... read your Bible...it's got some good stuff in it). Yet he persevered, he never blamed God. He knew. God uses the hard times as a tool. He will put to use the pain. When things are unbearable, I need to remember: God is TRUSTING me through this. He believes in me, He believes that I'm a heck of a lot stronger than I can imagine. I am a valued child of His, and I'm probably doing a lot of things right.

When we are proving ourselves worthy to be called God's children, Satan attacks...with a vengeance. He doesn't want us to be making progress for the Kingdom of God. He wants us to be hiding in the corner in the fetal position, sucking our thumbs. He wants to hit us where it hurts and make us never want to get back up and fight. Honestly? Satan is SCARED. He is SCARED OF ME. He's using his darts to rip into my heart. He's trying to slow me down, he's trying to keep me away from the work of God. Well guess what? I'M NOT BACKING DOWN. I WILL NOT COWER! I will carry on, no matter how hard it gets. I can't let him win. He has no power over me. I am a child of God, and HE will guide me to finish my race.

I'm not going to lie...I'm scared. Terrified of what's coming next. There are so many people I care about in this world, that I simply couldn't stand to lose. But at least I know, God will provide me with what I need. He will be there with me. He will guide me. I don't have to be alone. I can't imagine what it would be like to go through life without that hope.

Always,

Jaci

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Condition of the Heart

Meet Naomi:


She was born a week and a half ago. She's beautiful, sweet, perfect. What you wouldn't know from looking at her? She has a severe heart condition. It's called pulmonary atresia. This sweet one had open heart surgery one week after she was born, and will continue to have heart surgery for the rest of her childhood. To the naked eye, she looks perfectly healthy.

That's how it is with all of us. Each and every person on this earth has a severe heart condition, an invisible monster, chipping off years of joy and peace. We are all selfish, hurtful, demanding. We want people to do things our way, bend over backward, serve us fully. We want to be happy, no matter what it costs someone else.

When we become Christians, we are saying, "I am putting Christ and others above myself." But we still struggle. As a Christian, we face years of open heart surgery. God knows our weaknesses, He knows where we need to grow. He knows what part of our hearts is focused solely on serving ourselves. And He knows how to teach. Many of us are slow learners. We need a cold, hard slap across the face to realize what we're doing is wrong. For myself, it's taken a year of heartache to discover the patience and trust He has been teaching me. And it's not over yet. By no means have I learned all that I need to about these things.

Being a Christian isn't easy. It isn't a crutch. It doesn't make the pain go away. Being a Christian gives us hope. Hope that when newborn babies have a life-threatening heart condition, no matter what happens, God has a plan. His plan is to prosper us, to grow us. His plan is to teach us how to be more like Him, no matter how incredibly painful those surgeries can get to be.

Be open to God's plan for your life.

Always,

Jaci