Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Bridegroom

Weddings pop up all over the place this time of year. I love the idea that Jesus is my bridegroom. I like to think about Jesus looking at me and seeing me as His innocent bride; pure as the white lace and satin of an elegant wedding gown, as untouched as the petals of a white rosebud.

Because of the abuse, I didn't feel like an innocent bride when I married my husband. Instead I felt damaged and dirty. I went through the motions of wearing the white gown, knowing inside that I was not the pure bride that the white was suppose to symbolize.

My innocence had been stolen from me as a young child and I hadn't felt clean since. But Jesus changed all that. His crimson blood washed me clean through, made me "white as snow".

In a class on the Blood Covenant at my church, the teacher, Linda Apple, gave us some information on a bridgroom according to the Hebrew tradition:

"When a young man decided to marry a young woman in ancient Israel, he would prepare a contract oe covenant to present to the young woman and her father. The most important part of the contract was the bride price, the price that the young man was willing to pay her father in order to marry the young woman.
The bride price was generally quite high. The groom was willing to pay it. This was an indication of the love that the young man had for the young woman. If the bride price was agreeable to the young woman's father, the young man would pour a glass of wine for the young woman. If the young woman drank the wine, it would indicate her acceptance of the proposal.
At this point, the young man and woman would be betrothed. Betrothal was legally binding, just like a marriage. The bridegroom would then leave to prepare a place for her. She would bathe herself, make herself beautiful for him, and consecrate herself as a way of showing she was betrothed. She didn't know when he would return. She had to be ready for him. When the bridegroom returned, as he neared her house to get her, he would shout and blow a ram's horn as a way of letting her know he is coming and for her to gather her things."

I am so thankful Jesus sees me as spotless and wants me as his bride. I'm awed over the price He was willing to pay for me. He has given me His cup and I have accepted it. He is my bridegroom. I am His bride. He has gone to prepare a place for me and I am readying myself for His return. The we will celebrate.

"The time's drawing near
When He will appear
And, Oh, We will stand by His side
A strong, pure, spotless bride.
We will dance on the streets
That are golden
The glorious bride and
The great Son of Man".
(We Will Dance by David Ruis)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lessons From a Toddler

My daughters and their daughters have been here this week for Spring Break. It has been a lot of fun. The youngest granddaughter is 15 months old. She is a non-stop dynamo; the "Energizer Bunny" and "The Roadrunner" all in one, with a little bit of "sugar and spice and everything nice" thrown in.

I had forgotten what it's like to be the mother of a child that age. That's why God gives babies to young women and why He made it physically impossible for women my age to have babies. She wore me out, she wore us all out, but she never wore out.

My daughter has to constantly hover over her because she thinks she can leap off the top steps, put small and sharp objects in her mouth, and stick interesting things into electrical outlets. She doesn't yet know fear, or safety, or that her way isn't best.

It reminded me of how God takes care of us. He is concerned about the smallest details of our everyday life and He protects us from countless dangers that we don't even know about. We think our way is best so He has to teach us differently. We hurt ourselves over and over until we learn the lesson that His way is the best way. Praise God that He is patient, kind, and loving towards us, like a mother is towards her little toddler.

"Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you", I Peter 5:7. NLT

"Fear of the Lord leads to life, bringing security and protection from harm", Proverbs 19:23. NLT

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Up To My Neck

In the words of Charles Spurgeon, "Sad hearts have a peculiar skill in discovering the most disadvantageous point of view from which to gaze upon a trial. If there were only one slough in the world they would soon be up to their necks in it, and if there were only one lion in the desert they would hear it roar".

Boy, does that describe me! I grew up with a "glass half-empty" view of life. Certain that because of the abuse I was damaged beyond repair. Like Eeyore, searching out the only thornbush in the meadow then sitting under it and lamenting my helpless fate.

My attitude is no small source of frustration to my eternally optimistic husband. He sees everything in the world through "rose-colored glasses". I wish I was like that. I used to have a pair of sunglasses with rose-colored lens and I understood where that saying came from. Everything looks better through rose-colored glasses. In the spring the trees are greener, and in the autumn, oh my, the colors are neon bright.

Alas, now I have a pair of transition sunglasses with plain-Jane brown lenses. I miss my rose-colored glasses. But with Jesus help and an unshakeable faith, I can still see the world as if it's brighter than it is. I can allow Jesus sun to shine down into the darkness. I can look for good in the midst of my chronic health problems. I can be up to my neck in sunbeams.

Charles Spurgeon says it best, "Faith's way of walking is to cast all care upon the Lord, and then to anticapte good results from the worst calamities. Out of the rough oyster-shell of difficulty she extracts the rare pearl of honor, and from the deep ocean-caves of distress she uplifts the priceless coral of experience".

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

God's Way

I've been praying this past year that I would become Jesus-conscious and less self-conscious. Because of the abuse, I've grown up self-absorbed, spending copious amounts of time and energy each day battling depression and trying to feel better. I've reached for the world's quick fixes time and again (whatever will medicate me, vegetate me, numb me or enable me to escape the quickest) instead of relying on Jesus' power to help me.

As often happens in God's way, things get worse before they get better, as He matures us and grows us up in the faith. OUCH! That usually hurts! I find myself in that situation now. In dealing with this chronic pain condition, there are no easy answers from the world. My tendency is to spend even more time focused on myself as I try to find solutions.

 But there are no easy remedies, so I'm kind of forced to depend on God more; claim His promises more, search the scriptures more, pray more, cry out to God more. And the result is that I've become more focused on God. Amazing, how God's way is just the antidote for whatever ails us. Amazing, how God knows just where to lance, stitch and bandage to facilitate healing. Amazing, how God's way is to bring good out of whatever bad life experiences we are dealt.

"Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; as thy days so shall thy strength be", Deuteronomy 33:25.

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel", Isaiah 43:2-3.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Daffodil Season

My husband and I returned home from our getaway to Florida to sunny skies and daffodils blooming in the front yard. It feels so good to have escaped winter. We had a wonderful time in the 80 degree warmth and beauty of Naples. Naples is one of the prettiest cities I have seen in the USA.Too bad it's such a long drive down the length of Florida.

I was able to get my walking program for my back pain going well down there and I have continued to walk 45 minutes to an hour every day. But I am still in a lot of pain and I'm trying to get an appointment with a Rheumatologist to see if I also have fibromyalgia. This journey I'm learning to navigate living with chronic pain is hard. When I'm in pain all my thoughts tend to focus on the pain and I lose my focus on Jesus. Then I'm really a mess.

I am praying that Jesus will help me keep Him as my singular focus. When I think about how bad I am hurting, I try to refute that thought with "He was whipped so we could be healed", Isaiah 53:5; or "Surely, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows", Isaiah 53:4.

It's a constant battle most days but everything seems better now that daffodil season is here, the season of hope and change. And the rose bush is budding out, heralding the season of new life and new beginnings. And the sun is shining brighter, the season of lengthy light-infused days is around the corner. And the popsicle blue skies remind me of the goodnes of life, of the simple pleasures of each day.

"I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven, we keep looking to the Lord our God for His mercy", Psalm 123:1-2.

"O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress", Isaiah 33:2.