Forgiveness…Can’t be done..Or can it? “Victim” to Victor

I was literally gasping for air…physically choking on my own avalanche of emotion and confusion.  What did they just say? I can’t grasp this? What does this mean? Does it mean what I think it does? The relationship was severed….instantly with nothing I could do but reel physically in shock and the crushing kaleidoscope of emotions that were threatening to drown me….. trying to come up with a way to take the next step, let alone walk to my car and drive away…

I had trusted that person with my soul, my deepest pain, my heart, and they had simply dismissed me with a “flick of the hand.”  They had promised to support and help and assured me they were trustworthy…. and then..BANG they were not!!!

….when I most needed them to be.  It reminded me of the words of a song

“I leaned my back up against an oak…I thought it was a trusty tree…but first, it bent and then it broke (Bob Dylan).”

Only in my case, there was no bend!  It was an instant SNAP and CRASH!  What was even more crushing is I had no one to talk to about it. No one who could understand what this terrible tear meant in my soul. Part of me died that day and I was sure it would never EVER revive again!  The ensuing weeks and months were lived in a mindless numb shell as I carried on the functions of life without a soul.  I literally felt like a switch had been snapped between rational logic and emotion.

Those of you who know me may be shocked to know I felt that way..after all,…I am the MK (missionary kid) who knows more verses and Biblical songs by heart than most people I know…. because I was raised memorizing them and loved singing so have been called a walking hymnbook by some… But that was my reality at that point. My world was instantly catapulted into an emotional vault that words could not touch for a time.

I had been trying to learn how to trust again and the one person I thought I could trust to help me, had proved untrustworthy and walked away.  The picture I had in my mind was of being rowed out on a dark night into deep water and then told to get out of the boat and start swimming. The assurances of support and guidance were there until I was in the water and then… they were GONE! I was left to find my way back to land in the dark in water over my head… good thing I had learned how to swim as a child… but in the depths and not being sure which was land????…. God led me back to land in ways no person could.

I felt like I had been taken in for open heart surgery and then left on the table to figure out how to sew myself up, get up and walk out of there without any help from anyone. I did sew up and walk out by God’s grace alone. But in the process infection set in… and I was in a dark place of confusion between indescribable grief, despair and anguish once I processed what had happened. I would certainly never trust THEM again or ANYONE else for that matter.  Because I had no one to talk to at that point, the pain, gut-wrenching sense of loss, and confusion got buried into deep crevices in my soul like puss does in infection.  God left me alone with that dark place for a time, because we all need to know how helpless we really are before God can do anything with us… before He intervened … but that is for later. It took a full year for the emotional confusion to clear enough for me to fully grasp truth again and for God to use some wise people to carefully reinvite me into the world of trust again.

I was driving to a place of retreat and on the way was begging Him to help me out of this, to find a way back to hope and light and life if it was ever possible to recover from this kind of utter crushing? I was listening to the audio version of Andy Stanley’s Enemies of the Heart.  Trying to figure out how to get past this to a point of forgiveness… I finally understood in a powerful way how Jesus felt when his disciples deserted him in his hour of greatest need for emotional support. Andy’s book was a HUGE help in unraveling how to think about all this, but it took time for me to absorb the truths while battling the emotional blocks.  My mind still whirled and at times would be caught in a downward spiral of “How could they? and I  didn’t deserve this!!!  They completely misunderstood and misused me!! and I am all alone!! and No one understands!!”  You may also be familiar with the  “beat me up” or “beat them up.” ideas that plague the mind in these dark moments of the soul? The Psalms are replete with David’s thoughts like this.

I was aware in the fog of emotion that I was in a battle of a lifetime to regain control of my mind and in doing so I would be able to stop this emotional volcano. I had no idea how to do it. So I begged God for help and below is what I did.  (I have now told enough people these steps that I thought it was time to put it in one place so I can send people here who ask me how I was able to, not only forgive, but enjoy spending time with this person again.)

“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons
are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end,
but by His making us wait,
bearing with us in love and patience
until we are able to honestly pray
what He taught His disciples to pray:
Thy will be done.”
~ Elizabeth Elliot
(for those who may not know her story, her husband was killed senselessly.
You can read about it, in this book. Through Gates of Splendor)
I love how God patiently waits when we are in these dark places until we can see Him and then gently helps us to walk out of it. He truly is the Gentle Shepherd!
I  have learned a great deal in the months and years since then, but to begin with, this was the first most important step and lesson. .. I can say much more about the Biblical verses. I knew those but I had never been in a place like this where words meant nothing and I could not control the raging emotional overload. A pressure cooker had exploded all over my soul and I had to find a way to put the pieces back together.  I will develop more of the Biblical part of this in the coming weeks but for now, this had to be step one!
 I am going to be very practical with this because the pat “you just need to forgive them” was simply not working!!
I needed a real way to get out of this tunnel of emotion!!!
The first thing I needed to think was “not forgiving was actually giving ammunition to them. It was hurting me, not them. It was allowing them to continue to ruin my life.” That was NOT ok with me. I NEVER wanted them to ever have any control over me again!
Once I fully realized that I was not willing to give them that kind of control over my emotions and mind anymore. They had betrayed me.  Jesus Never did. He had to be the controller of my mind and emotions!
Then I learned that forgiveness is a process… it’s not a one-time Act. Every time thoughts of that person came into my mind I had to intentionally tell God I needed help to forget them.
Then I had to force my mind to go somewhere else regardless of how my emotions were raging.  It truly was one of the most difficult things I have ever done!!! But I was determined to win by God’s grace!
I knew I could not take it on all at once so I picked one the specific times of day that were often trigger points. Usually, times when I could be alone with my thoughts, like when getting dressed or showering or driving to work.
I picked…
driving to work time.
Then EVERY day for 3 weeks, I refused to allow thoughts of that situation to control my mind for that time.  When a thought would hit, I would intentionally force my mind elsewhere by praying, singing good songs, like these ones,   Beside Gentle Streams: Hope for Hurting Hearts.  or this one Don’t be Afraid, reciting verses, calling someone to encourage them, or things like that.
The first day was impossible but I  got a few mins of relief, the rest of the week was nearly impossible..lots of tears…begging God for help…
When God wants to do something big,
He starts with an impossibility,
then it is difficult,
and then it is done!
~Hudson Taylor
The second week got a little bit better. I would play good music, I would think about the things I loved…I would pray, I would sing or play good music.
By the third week, I could see the thought pattern was finally breaking and with it some of the deep crushing emotion. So I picked another point of the day that I used to dwell on those thoughts and went after it in the same way. It was easier but still a challenge.
I kept working at it till each point of the day was broken, despite setbacks, and in time the pain Eased, the soul-crushing grief became manageable and I could move on.  I learned the real truth of the verse “having your senses exercised…Hebrews 5:14” (that word exercise in greek is the word we get  “gym” from. We develop brain cells just the way we develop other muscles in the body by working them which gives all new meaning to Romans 12:1-2 and especially the phrase “renewing your mind…”.  I have learned lots about the science behind mind, emotion connection as well. (more later)
My motivator was that these people were no longer allowed to control my emotions and my life. God was the only one who got to do that!
Thinking this way rather than trying to determine whether or not they deserved it, helped,….they didn’t deserve forgiveness…neither did I….none of us “deserve” it, we were all eternally condemned till Jesus died for us… We have to turn to Him, recognize him as God, believe that his death on the cross paid the penalty and ask for His forgiveness ourselves to guarantee a place in heaven. Keeping this truth in focus also helped!
It really had to be about getting back my life, my heart, my emotions, My Hope in Christ, My joy in Him, my ability to serve Him, separate from any other person.
What God has done since then is more writing and God’s work in progress.
Gentle Shepherd
Oh, the Lord is my Gentle Shepherd showing me the way.
Through the darkness, through the sunshine,
He will never lead astray.
He is with me ev’ry moment, He’s in my heart to stay.
Oh I feel His arms around me, and I hear Him gently say:
~~~~~
I am the Gentle Shepherd watching over you.
I am the Gentle Shepherd and I’ll surely see you through.
I have been where you’re going and I know what you have to do.
Oh, I am the Gentle Shepherd, and I gave my life for you.
~~~~~
If you’re looking for a Saviour, looking for a friend,
Oh let Jesus be your Shepherd, He will love you till the end.
The door is always open, come now and don’t delay.
And He’ll be your loving Shepherd; He will guide you all the way.
~~~~~
He is the Gentle Shepherd, watching over you.
He is the Gentle Shepherd, and He’ll surely see you through.
He has been where you’re going, and he knows what you have to do.
Oh, He is the Gentle Shepherd, and He gave His life for you.
He is the Gentle Shepherd.
words by Duane Nichols, music by Duane Nichols and Mary Lynn Van Gelderen
recorded on Come and Sing by the Stouffer Men.

“Ginger” a Boylston Home Story.

Ginger came through the door of the Boylston Home with a 14-year-old sullen look on her face. She slumped in a chair and glared at me and her social worker. I was amazed at how many 14-year-old girls we had come through the doors. Did you know that being 14 is a very difficult age especially for girls? The hormones are raging! They’re trying to figure out who they are separate from their families, and life is very difficult at that age! She had been brought in as an intervention between home and some other place where social services was going to place her. She was absolutely NOT happy about being there. As we talked our way through the initial interview, when I mentioned the fact that this was a home where we believe the Bible and where we attend church, she angrily protested that she wanted nothing to do with religion, that we were not going to make her believe our stuff.

I immediately agreed with her because Christianity is not just a religion, it is a way of life, it is an understanding of who Jesus is. Nobody can force true belief on anyone else!  Only God can touch a heart and help them to see and understand their need for Him. Jesus does say “no man comes to the Father but by me (John 14:6).” We continued to talk and the social worker told her quite simply she had two choices, stay with us and comply for the three weeks or she got to go spend some time in a much more restrictive placement. She really did not want to go there so she grudgingly accepted the terms of staying with us.

We always gave a Bible to every girl who came through the doors, so we gave her one. She took it almost like it was going to bite her and set it on the table. As those three weeks progressed she would comment on and off about how stupid all this stuff was and that nobody was going to make her believe it. We quietly agreed with her, it wasn’t up to us and that we simply were giving her truth and information that she was fully responsible to choose to accept or reject on her own. The night before she left, she was packing up her things and I glanced into her room to see how things were going. She was nowhere near as angry as she had been when she first came in and she had settled into a routine and realized that we really did care about her and was actually somewhat upset about moving on. We chatted for a bit and then I left her room. When I went downstairs, Brittany, the house parent’s daughter, came up to me and said, “I’m really feeling led to give Ginger a Bible.”

I curiously replied, “Well that’s interesting because we already gave her one, but if you’re feeling that strongly about it then you go right ahead, maybe she’ll give it to somebody else.”

The next morning was a set for her goodbye party. Whenever a girl left the home, if we could anticipate her date and time of leaving, we took time to go around the table and talk about and encourage the characteristics that we had seen in her life, areas where she demonstrated solid character and growth and areas where we felt that she was gifted and could do things that would make a difference in the world. Most of the girls came to us completely crushed by life and we wanted them to leave knowing that they were specially created by God and could do great things for Him if they chose to follow Him. And we would usually give her some things to take with her.
Ginger was laughing and enjoying the party and opening the gifts.  However, when she opened Brittany’s gift, her eyes grew wide, and she dropped it on the table like it was a snake and gasped, “I can’t believe this!” Brittany gently said, “Open the front cover, I wrote a little note in there for you.” She reached out with a trembling hand and opened the cover and looked inside and then snapped it shut immediately, staring almost wildly at Brittany and then at me, she exclaimed, “What in the world! I can’t believe this! This is just too freaky! This is like, Beyond unreasonable! What …….she trailed off, “I can’t hide it, How did you know?..
We were all completely baffled by her response and I asked, “Ginger? You’re going to have to explain yourself, what’s going on?”
She looked at us with this strange expression of disbelief and stammered, “I tore up the Bible you guys gave me last night and threw it in the trash because I told you I wasn’t going to believe this stuff and God’s not real and I certainly wasn’t going to take it with me!! And here it is in front of me completely intact!!! The exact same color and everything…. same style…the same Bible….that’s just beyond weird.  What is even crazier is knowing that I tore that other one apart and then reading what Brittany wrote inside here is insane.”

I asked her what Brittany had written. She read, “A Bible that’s falling apart belongs to someone who is not.”
I could not help smiling as I thought about how God had made Himself and His Word powerfully real to her and every other person sitting at the table.

I asked, “Well Ginger, are you going to tear this one apart too?”

“No way!” she retorted “I can’t!  This is too crazy! This is too real. I guess I need to take this a little bit more seriously than I did.”

I agreed with her, “Yes, God has gone out of His way to make sure that you knew that the Word of God could not be destroyed in your life and He has something He wants you to do with your life for Him will you read it now?” She promised she would.

God’s Word will stand forever.  The Bible will prevail, and you can trust it.  More importantly, I loved that all the other girls were sitting there watching what God had just done in her heart to help her realize that His Word is real, and He is real.
1 Peter 1:24 The grass withers. The flower fades, but the Word of our God endures forever!

Light in Brokenness

I have so many dear friends who are going through such deep waters right now. My heart aches for them as they deal with death and cancer and loss of other ones. it makes me thankful that I know the Incredible God of Comfort who has comforted me, (2 Cor 1) can comfort them. As believers we sorrow not as others, but we do sorrow. One of the greatest comforts to me when my father died was the verse, “Jesus wept.” We have an intercessor who knows our grief! He is touched with the feelings of our weaknesses and prays for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. Roms 8:26 And we weep with those who weep! Ecc. 3.  We wonder why we, or those we consider dear, go through hard things. It is because when we are broken our light shines to others around us who need to see Jesus.  His light then enters into their hurting places and gives them peace that passes understanding!  My friends are doing this! Shining radiant lights of Christ in their broken places!

When I was a student at the NBBI, one Christmas my roommate gave me a Precious Moments bell as a gift. I loved that bell and I put it in a prominent place on my dresser. This cute little clown on a roller skate upside down just spoke of joy and for most of my life, I have had that interior sense of adventure. I love music, I love going to new places, I love experiencing new things, I love being with new people, I love the fun of friendship and adventure. One day when I wasn’t paying attention I was moving some things across my dresser too quickly and knocked that bell on the floor and it shattered into a thousand pieces. As I began to clean it up, getting ready to throw it away, I noticed the back piece had not broken. It was still intact, and it said, “Our life will always be in balance when we keep our eyes on Him.” I knew right then I needed to put that bell back together and keep it for the rest of my life. Like another Precious Moments figurine, it has a prominent place wherever I have lived because of the lessons that it taught me. First of all that we have to keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross; despising the shame. (Heb 11:1) Being broken, we shine out the light that is inside of us much more effectively than we ever would when we aren’t broken. The light shines through all the cracks in our armor. Then people want to know what that light is inside.  Doctors and nurses need Jesus too! Paul said, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering.” (Phil 3:10.) We all want the power of the resurrection. We do not want to embrace the fellowship of suffering! But things happen in us when we suffer. You don’t get to really know someone till you walk with them in pain and suffering! God in His faithfulness breaks us so that we are more effective in shining His glory and His light to the world than we would be if we kept our nice neat perfect life intact. We have to be willing to deal with brokenness and let it change us and the process that it takes for God to put us back together when our lives are shattered. When he’s done we might look at it and think it’s not perfect anymore but He has put it back together in a way that allows the light to shine for the world to see. “Most gladly, therefore, will I glory in my weaknesses that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor 12:9-10) But let it be [the inner beauty of] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, [one that is calm and self-controlled, not overanxious, but serene and spiritually mature] which is very precious in the sight of God. But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy–acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:4, 15 AMP)

“Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, The one that remains faithful. “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. “Trust in the Lord forever, For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock. The way of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level. Indeed, while following the way of Your judgments, O Lord, We have waited for You eagerly; Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls. At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. Lord, You will establish peace for us, Since You have also performed for us all our works. O Lord our God, other masters besides You have ruled us; But through You alone, we confess Your name. O Lord, they sought You in distress; They could only whisper a prayer..(Isaiah 26:2-4, 7-9, 12-13, 16 NASB)

Wasps and Spiders

This is a true story that happened probably 15 years ago. It is one I love being constantly reminded of and so I kept a visual.
When I was teaching in Greenville County, I taught students who had emotional struggles that made it difficult for them to learn. It took a great deal of emotional energy and spiritual courage to work with them every day and help them grow and learn. I often left my house at 6 in the morning and never got back to it till 7:30 or 8 at night. One thing I did learn early on was I had to leave school at school because with that kind of intense work you can’t take it home, so when you get home you choose to rest.
One particular day when I was especially exhausted I came home to find a problem on my front porch. I generally like most critters but there are some critters I’m not friends with….wood-boring wasps would be one of them. As I stood at my door getting ready to unlock it, I happened to glance up and saw this wasp nest that I have pictured here being built in the corner of my front porch. I looked at it and literally said, “Lord I’m exhausted, you said you would be my father, I need you to take care of that wasp nest. I’m too tired to even play with it and I just don’t have time to go buy wasp killer right now.”
I didn’t give it much thought. I just went in the house went about my business getting supper, went to bed, and slept. The next day I got up and took off for school, worked all day and came home again just as tired.
Out of curiosity I glanced up in that corner thinking I wonder…. and when I did, I saw this Giant spider….to this day I wish I had taken a picture of him….well he may have been a she… I didn’t get the pic…., but he/she was probably a solid half inch across just in the body, forget about the legs. He really was one of the biggest spiders I’ve ever seen in North America ( I have to say North America because I was born in Ethiopia…. we saw big spiders there.) As I stood there watching him I said.. “Really Lord? First the wasps and now a spider? Is my house going to be overtaken by insects?”
And then I stopped and watched more closely. Proverbs talks about going to the ant and watching the insects and learning from them. As I stood there and watched, I realized the spider had methodically built its web so that it completely encompassed and enclosed the wasp nest. That spider was after those nasty wasps. Up until that moment, I had not thought about the fact that spiders eat wasps. I learned something new that day! Within a couple of days all of the wasps were gone and with them, so was the spider. I took the nest down to keep as a reminder!
More importantly, I learned a lesson about God and His care for us. He really does command His little creatures to do what He wants them to do. It reminded me of a story I read once of a man who was in enemy territory somewhere in the world and he was trying to escape for his life and as he ran he saw a cave, so he ducked inside the cave hoping to elude his pursuers. As he lay there hunched in the corner gasping for air praying and begging God to spare his life, he noticed a spider building its web across the entrance. He immediately thought, “Well that’s pretty ridiculous how flimsy is a spider’s web? That’s not going to stop them from coming in to get me!”
But like me, he was too tired from running to do anything about it, so he laid there and watched the spider. If you’ve ever taken the time to watch a spider build its web it’s truly fascinating… I have.
But I digress,… several minutes later the enemy came running, saw the cave and started to come in to check and see if he was in there. But they immediately stopped when they saw the spider’s web and said: “he can’t be in there, he would have broken the web.” So they went on their way. He waited a long time and then was able to get out and escape and tell the rest of the world this amazing story.
Do you watch the little creatures around you? Do you know God has lessons He wants to teach you through them?
My lesson that day was that God truly does take care of his own, He knows our frame He remembers that we are dust Psalms 103:14. He is Our Redeemer our Father and husband as Isaiah 54 talks about. And He is the Good Shepherd who takes care of His sheep. Ps 23, John 15
What’s really sweet is that He cares about the little details of our lives as well as the big ones. I never would have thought He would have taken care of my wasps for me. but on that particular day, He truly understood how weary I was and how much I needed to know that He was going to take care of all of my needs. It reminds me what an incredibly patient caring loving Father we have!

Jada

“It’s yours really it is!”

“No I don’t believe you, I think you are wrong!”  Those words still echo in my mind years later when I  think of this story that happened in 1994. I remember the date because I have it written on the bottom of the figurine and who gave it to me.

In the years that I was working at Boylston Home, I had lots of adventures with the girls.  All of them were wisdom developing experiences.

One spring afternoon Jada came bouncing in the door from school with a beautiful little Precious Moments figurine in her hands. She pranced up to me with a delighted look on her face and proceeded to hand me this little figure with joy. I said “thank you dear, but where did you get this?”  My heart was already sinking because Jada was known for having slippery fingers and coming home with things that did not belong to her.

“It’s for you Miss Ruth! I got it for you!” She gushed happily, pushing the figurine into my hands.

I asked her again, “Where did you get this?”

“I got it at school, Miss Ruth.  It’s for you! I got it for you!”  She was not to be discouraged.

“Are you sure are you telling me the truth or Did you steal this from someone?” I was sure I was going to have to take her to someone again and make her give it back..

“No, no! I got it for you honestly I did.”  She was starting to look a little crestfallen at my continued questioning.

“Jada, I’m sorry I can’t believe you.  You’ve taken things from people before that weren’t yours and I’m afraid you might have stolen this too.  I have to call your teacher and she going to tell me where you really got this from so you need to tell me now.”

She barely paused but firmly reassured me, “Yes, Miss Ruth, yes ! I know you like precious moments, so I got if for you honest!”

I walked away from her with a heavy heart knowing that she had probably stolen it wondering “how am I going to deal with this?  I’ll try to give her the benefit of the doubt and I will call her teacher tomorrow.”

The next morning I called the teacher.

“Hello, Miss Smith? I’m sorry, I hate to bother you, but you know how we have this history of Jada taking things that don’t belong to her?  Well, last night she came home with a Precious Moments figurine.  It’s really cute and I have no idea where she got it from can you help me out?”

“Yes Ruth, I would love to tell you what happened with that. Jada knows we have a prize box and a month-and-a-half ago I brought in that figurine and put some high points on it because it has value.  Jada took one look at it and she said, “I know Miss Ruth loves Precious Moments, I’m going to earn that figurine for her!” She spent the entire month earning the points, by good behavior, by working hard, by doing everything that she was supposed to do and getting along with her classmates so she could “buy” that from the prize box for you. That figurine is really yours!   I have been very proud of her effort and you can be as well!”

I wanted to crawl under the table where I was sitting. Not only had I misjudged this young girl. I had completely missed how deep her love was for me that she would sacrifice her earnings for an entire month, not tell me about it and not pick something for herself, but pick something to give to me!  My mind immediately goes to a couple of different verses when I think about this situation. “No man knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person ” (I Corinthians 2:11). and 1 Corinthians 13 where it says “love keeps no record of past wrongs” and, “thinks no evil.”

When Jada came home from school that day I sat down with her and asked her forgiveness for thinking evil of her and wrapped her up in a hug thanking her for her incredible young sacrifice for me! Needless to say, that figurine has always had a prominent place everywhere I have lived and worked to remind me never ever to misjudge a student/child until I knew all the facts! Many times since then I’ve had other situations where, because I took the time to stop and ask all the questions, I was able to save those students the grief of being misjudged by an adult. In one case because I asked all the questions first and was willing to ask forgiveness of a student it saved another student’s life. But that’s a story for another chapter.

Endurance chapter: a sneak peak.

This is the first part of the chapter I wrote that is published in Endurance going the distance.   If you want to read more feel free to order a copy of the book  here. Endurance: going the distance from the valley to the mountain.

Hebrews 10:35-36  Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great recompense of reward.  For you have need of patience, so that after you have done the will of God you might receive the promise.

Ruth E. Meed BA MAT MS

I keenly remember the unusual extreme anxiety that gripped my chest. The unexplained pain in my back would not ease. The desperately itchy rash covering my body had not subsided with the doctor recommended medications. I was alone, pacing my house, praying, with no answers to handle the pain and itching. As I did, a sudden shock wave of electricity started to burn its way from my neck down through my left arm causing it to curl and stiffen up until I could not move it anymore. This searing sizzle continued down my left side to my leg which then also curled up, then across to the right leg which instantly froze. I collapsed into a chair because I could no longer move and all my muscles were tightening up to complete rigidity. I had just three fingers of my right hand still moving and I used them to dial 911. This began the story of the last seven years. I was getting no answers from the medical professionals. Two days later the paralysis happened again, this time my entire body froze for 20 mins. I was conscious but unable to move. Doctors varied from saying something was very seriously wrong with me to telling me I had a self-created mental problem. I had no answers, I had no hope medically.  I was getting weaker and sicker and helplessly wondered if I was dying.  I had to hope in God or give up and die.

I languished on the couch that next Sunday unable to do much of anything, let alone attend church. I turned on the radio to listen to a local church broadcast. The preacher said, “Today we’re going to talk about storms and how you can handle that storm, so let’s look at the life of Peter and his walk on the water.” (Matt 14:23-34) He spent the next 30 minutes talking about trusting God and how sometimes God puts us in a “boat” and sends us into the middle of a storm to show Himself strong. He also pointed out that even when we fail to trust Jesus, sinking like Peter, He still reaches out to help us the minute we ask Him. I felt in that moment like God in His kindness had reached down to personally encourage me.

When that broadcast finished, another service came on. This next pastor said, “Folks, I want you to turn in your Bibles to the passage in the New Testament about the storm on the Sea of Galilee and today we will discuss how we deal with storms by looking at Peter’s walk on the water…”  I nearly gasped aloud realizing that My Loving Shepherd had providentially orchestrated both of those messages, one right after the other, to encourage me to trust Him when I had no answers.

After lunch, I listened to the morning service from my church. My pastor was reviewing what he had covered so far in Isaiah. He repeatedly rehearsed the theme of Isaiah ‘Trust ye in the Holy One of Israel alone, for He only is salvation.’” He related this concept to how we deal with troubles in our lives. “We can be distressed.  Life can be full of questions and hard things, but we can always trust the hand of our Loving Father to guide us THROUGH them.”  I lay there basking in the feeling of those healing Words washing over my soul.  The almost palpable hug from God, assuring me He was walking with me, through these three messages from three different sources over four hours’ time, could not be mistaken. My Loving Lord in His Sovereignty had orchestrated that day’s programing to tell me that I could trust Him in this storm.

That was August 2010. By January 2011, I could no longer walk, or balance myself.  I could not think straight to read or write. Something was very wrong. The doctor told me there was nothing more she could do and to pray that my body would get better.