Monday, August 8, 2011

Rhoda's Story, Part 3

Continuing with Rhoda's story of God's work in her life (hey, this is getting so good, let's see what will happen next!):

As time went on, I kept doing everything possible in every way, but I was getting better only at a turtle’s pace. And that kind of pace was not suitable to me at all! I held nothing back, I got medical attention, I went to the chiropractor on a regular basis, took extra nutrients, and I prayed like I had never prayed before. I felt like the widow knocking insistently on God’s door. I asked everybody I could think of to please pray for me.  And the funny thing was, the docs and chiropractors always told me they think I was almost over the hump and would be on my way to being well real soon. No matter what I did I was kept unable to return to work. And I could no longer really remember how it even felt to be able to stand upright and walk and be pain-free. Even though I was believing for healing, I began playing with the idea of going for long-term disability, getting a motorized wheelchair, and all that stuff.
I finally came to the place where I knew I had to give this whole deal completely to God; my job, my unbelief and doubts, my frustration, (and even anger at times.) I was tired of trying to hold on, and making this work, and besides I felt like I was dangling on a rope with nobody and nothing to hang on to except God. My own efforts were NOT working!
One evening, upstairs in the bathroom, this being one of the only private places in the house that was also warm in those cold winter months, I told God He can have it all. That job after all was something He had given me, and if He wanted it back, it was okay. And if He wanted that job back, He would surely have to help me out on that one too, because I had no clue how I was going to pay bills without a job.  As for my health, I decided to leave it to His timing and not mine. Whenever He wanted me well, He would make me well; my job was to keep believing and trusting. Whatever He wanted me to learn meanwhile, I would do my best to learn and pass the test, even doing my best to get good, passing grades! I would quit struggling and worrying and being stressed about finances and just let my Father work it out. It was a scary place to be, but I was never more secure in my Father’s love than that moment. I was growing more and more secure in the fact that He deeply cares and truly loves us. That evening He impressed upon me about how He cares for the sparrow that falls to the ground, and how much more He cares for us, His own dear children. That became my theme verse and I was encouraged many times by just thinking about it and remembering that. (Matt. 6:23-33, Matt. 10:29-31)
Soon after that, I felt impressed by the Lord to spend some time in fasting. The very first morning I ran across a verse in Psalm, and I decided to google it to help me further understand it. It took me to a blog called “Under the Waterfall of Grace,” and what I read there impacted me in a powerful way. God even had an extra special surprise, her name was no less then…. “Sparrow”! Now I really felt God was speaking to me!
That blog helped me immensely through the rest of the journey, and I am so grateful to God for it. Even though I have never met her, I love Sparrow! I love the fact that we can belong to God’s family and love each other because we share the same spirit and love of God.
I wish I had words to describe what all God showed me through this entire ordeal. There is so much content and so many different branches of what I did learn. First and foremost in importance, I experienced a love and an excitement for God’s Word. I began to be so hungry for those truths and promises. I clung to it with somewhat of a desperation, but also a deep love and appreciation. Sometimes I could scarcely believe what I was reading! I truly fell in love with God and His Word.
In addition to this, God used several other people and speakers that left a life-changing, faith-building impact on my life. And for this I am forever grateful. I could not have gotten through if these messages would not have been poured into my life at this time.
 God used “Under the Waterfall of Grace” blog in two big ways. One was to show me how big God’s love really is, no, not that I will ever totally understand how big it really is, but I came to understand that He is passionate and really just profoundly cares about us and our little, minute by minute details in our daily lives.  To really believe and know this truth has been something I have struggled with all my life, and to actually feel it in my heart was really revolutionizing my life and how I thought.  I listened to Brennan Manning’s sermon on “The Compassion of Jesus” with a burning gratitude in my heart. It blew my mind to think what I had been missing.  I had been a Christian all these years and yet had not grasped to such a depth God’s pure grace, the depth of His love and His desire to know us, His longing for us to know His tender love!
The other big thing God showed me was how much He really cares about what we go through, He cherishes us, and He is on our side. And even as we are going through the valley of despair and darkness, uncertainty and loss, I can still trust Him, yes even praise Him and be happy and have joy in spite of these circumstances. Because He loves us so much and wants so much good for us, we can abandon ourselves to that tender love, to being covered by His wings, covered by His blood and His grace. We can rest in knowing that absolutely nothing happens to His children that He cannot redeem for His good. Nothing happens that He doesn’t passionately care about. He orders each and every step of the Godly person. When we can’t walk on our own through the fire and the high waters, He does carry us all the way through.
Our part is to believe, to trust God, to offer up the sacrifice of praise, to praise in the dark…and this, I found, was the difficult part of my assignment. To begin to proclaim God’s Word in faith without seeing it happen first was so painful for me. I never realized how lacking I was in faith until I was put to this test. But God through His gracious Holy Spirit patiently kept directing me and prodding me and building me up in faith and in the wisdom of God though His Word and through His people.  He never did give up on me! Without fail, He had just enough of whatever I needed just for that moment. It could be something as simple as something I heard on Christian radio, a song, a verse I read, a word from a friend, a prayer offered by one of my sons, and the most special of all—the Holy Spirit himself speaking within my heart and mind. That is the most amazing thing about our God; He is never ever limited in any way. He can use whatever He chooses to bring about His purpose. The way God loves us is absolutely priceless, and I still can’t get over it.       (more to come soon!)           Rhoda

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May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14