Sunday, October 28, 2018

Your Next Step

"What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee."
Psalm 56:3

When I was growing up, my family and I used to go inner tubing on the river.  I look back now and think of how adventurous I was back then.  To this day, I have never learned to swim, and to think of getting in such deep water and floating seven miles on an inner tube now isn’t even within radar-range of what I would consider doing.  Back then, I was young and much more openminded to risk-taking, and even though I remember being scared, at times, somehow the fun must have seemed worth it.  

One of the things I find most concerning about my memories of that river is the fact that you could take a step and think you were on level ground, then the very next step could be several feet deeper, creating a massive drop-off.  You just never knew what the depth would be even one small step in front of you, and you obviously couldn’t see anything when you looked in the water.  So much of it was unknown and mysterious.  Looking through eyes that are much older and more cautious, I find the thought of such far too foolish and daring.  I must truly be getting old, but I certainly prefer that over the alternative.  😊

(As a side note, I found it interesting to find out that there has been a ban on inner tubing in that area dating back to 1965, which is the year before I was born!  Reading that didn't do much to set my mind at ease concerning the dangers of my adventurous younger days, and it was surprising to find that we must have been breaking the law, to boot!) 

As I spent time in prayer this morning, I had a whole list of things I am feeling anxious about concerning our future.  Never has it been more unknown or unfamiliar.  My mind went back to that Miami River and how uncertain it always was to take one more step.  How the “bottom could fall out” at any minute, and just because the ground felt level the last step I took gave no indication whatsoever as to what that next step would feel like.  Where would my foot end up?  Would there be ground beneath it to even step on?  Or would the step plunge me into waters over my head?

Isn't this the way with life?  There isn't one among us who can predict what the next step of their life will look like.  Will it remain steady?  Will today be "business as usual?"  Will tomorrow be a blissfully ordinary day?  I have come to dearly cherish the beauty and steadiness of an ordinary day.  It is beyond precious to me when a day doesn't include any unexpected "drop-offs" and an overall sense of normalcy and "the same" pervades.  Back in 2013, I wrote a post called "An Ordinary Day."  You can read it by clicking here.)

Life never stands still, does it?  It is like a continually-flowing river that moves us onward, no matter how much we may want to stay firmly rooted in place.  We have no promise of what our next step will entail, but we do have a promise that we will never walk alone, and even if the step in front of us calls us into a place of overwhelm, there are three things we should never forget.

1.  Regardless how deep the waters, the arms of God are wide and all-encompassing and are always beneath the lowest point. 

“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”  Deuteronomy 33:27

"He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young."  Isaiah 40:11 (ESV)

"Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear."  Isaiah 59:1 (Berean Study Bible)

"I will steady him with My hand; with My powerful arm I will make him strong."  Psalm 89:21  (NLT)

2.  Regardless how severely wind-tossed the waters, Jesus walks in the midst of the storm, and the waves are always underneath His feet.

"About three o'clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water."  Matthew 14:25 (NLT)

"The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:  and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church."  Ephesians 1:18-22

3.  Regardless how mysterious and cloudy the waters, God sees clear through and is fully aware of every drop-off and peril that lurks in the darkness, and even though we can't see our next step, He can.

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you."  Psalm 34:15  (ESV)

"And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, 'This is the way, walk ye in it,' when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left."  Isaiah 30:21

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD."  Psalm 37:23

"He will guard the feet of His faithful ones."  I Samuel 2:9  (ESV)

"The LORD will always guide you; He will satisfy you in a sun-scorched land and strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."  Isaiah 58:11 (Berean Study Bible)

May God bless each one of you dear readers and guide your every step.  May you always have a strong sense of His guiding presence in your life, and may you rest in the knowledge that He is ever in control.  I am praying for every person who will ever read these words as I type.  May He meet your every need and draw you ever closer to His side!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Updates on Mom Smith and Barbara Smith

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
James 5:16

I wanted to post an update for all of you prayer warriors who are so faithfully lifting Mom Smith and Barbara Smith to the throne of grace.
I am so thankful to report that God has intervened and done so much for both of them!
Mom Smith is continuing to improve, after her surgery to open the blood flow to her right leg/foot.
She has regressed some as far as the blood flowing as freely as it did right after surgery, but it is still much improved over what it was before.
Lord willing, we are bringing her home from rehab next week!!!!!
We serve an amazing and awesome GOD who absolutely hears and answers the prayers of His children!  He doesn't put an age limit on healing, and He never sees anyone as too far gone.  We realize Mom Smith's condition remains very fragile, and she is far advanced in years, and still, God is SO gracious to have touched her once again.  As we watch the time of her life on earth edge closer to the moment Jesus calls her home, we deeply cherish every moment we are granted with her. 

The last time I posted an update about Barbara, I mentioned that she was diagnosed with an inoperable glioblastoma brain tumor.  The doctors were planning to send her home without much hope at all.  Between that post and this, the family was able to find a surgeon who was willing to operate on Barbara, and she came through the surgery just fine!  They removed as much of the tumor as they could, and she is doing so much better!  She is out of the hospital and will be undergoing chemo and radiation treatments.  It is just amazing how God has intervened and answered prayer on her behalf.  The family is most grateful for every prayer prayed for her and would so appreciate your continued prayers.  The journey ahead for her is long but filled with hope, praise God!

Dear friend, I don't know what you may be facing today.
I don't know what you are praying for or what you may look ahead and see as hopeless.
I don't know the particulars of what a miracle looks like for you.
The wonderful thing is that I do not need to know.
There is an all-seeing Father in Heaven who already knows what you need, and He is the only One who needs to know because He is the only One who can perform your miracle.
May I encourage you to keep looking to Him, regardless?
No matter what you face, He is enough.

When doctors say there is nothing they can do, 
He is Yahweh-Rapha, the LORD that Healeth.

"And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee."  Exodus 15:26

"Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by Whose stripes ye were healed."  I Peter 2:24

"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:  and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."
James 5:14,15

When life is dark and you feel alone and utterly forsaken, 
He is Yahweh-Shammah, the LORD is There.

"Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.  If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall cover me;' even the night shall be light about me.  Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee.  For Thou hast possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well."
Psalm 139:7-14

"Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off?  Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD." 
 Jeremiah 23:23-24

"And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."  John 14:16-17

When finances are depleted, there is no way to make ends meet, and you don't know how you will survive,
He is Yahweh-Yireh, the LORD will Provide.

"Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means "the LORD will provide"). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."
Genesis 22:14 (NLT)

"But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19 

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."  Matthew 6:33

Whatever you are going through today, remember this—
"And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men, it is impossible, but not with God: for with God, all things are possible."  Mark 10:27

No matter what,
because of who Jesus is, there is always, always hope!

"And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of Him through all the region round about.  And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.  And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.  And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written,The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." Luke 4:14-18

Look back over your life, and recall His never-ending faithfulness.
Bring to mind every time He has answered your prayers in the past.
Remember all He has done, and know this—
you, my friend, will see Him do it again!