Tag Archives: faith

Turning Your Eyes

For many years prayer meant praying the problem away. Right? A little like Clairol washing the gray away by covering the grey. I’d pray and pray and trust that God had it in His control. My focus was on the difficulty that was beyond me; the need that threatened my well-being.

    Sometimes it seemed that God answered my prayers.

    Others times it appeared that He said no. It would be too easy to think there was some problem in me or how I prayed. God seemed distant and silent.

    But as I grew not only in age but also in understanding I began to see the key to praying was who I was praying to – the Lord. He was the Almighty One. He was my Provider and Protector. He supplied my needs. It all went back to Him.

    As a nine year old I didn’t fathom why God didn’t heal my grandfather of lung cancer. My older brother and I prayed. I remember that time now more than 60 years later.

    There in my brother’s bedroom, we opened our Bible and read that verse “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20.

     We held each other’s hand and prayed with full hearts and simple words. Can’t quite remember what we prayed but God knew. We wanted our fun-loving Grandpa to live. After praying I was relieved. I knew that we had done what we needed to do. Asked.

    No one could have been more surprised than I when a few days later we got word that my Grandpa had died. Died.

      Just gone. I could hardly take it in.

      My brother and I never discussed it. I didn’t share my crushing disappointment with others. My parents were already dealing with the pressing needs of the moment. Deep within I knew that something was wrong. God had not answered our prayer.

      My experience with prayer had shaken me. Not that I questioned God. Not at this time. But I felt somehow we hadn’t prayed correctly. It was only weeks later that as I sat on my bed and read books about prayer that I began to understand that sometimes God says yes, sometimes He says no and sometimes He says wait.

     But the Lord Who loved me had not chosen to hurt me, No He comforted me through my pain of loss and disappointment. His Will was not my will. And although my Grandpa died I could trust the One Who said no.

    Yes, I already knew that sometimes my earthly dad said no. Not because he was mean or delighted in causing me grief. No, more often than not, because he knew what was best for me and loved me deeply.

    Slowly my prayers grew to be focused on the One Who was far bigger, far greater, than I could imagine. He loved me.

    “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV

    Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Romans 8:35 NKJV

     Just thinking about that blew my mind. That Jesus loved me.

     Honestly I think if I’d been older I would have been more shaken by God’s answer to that simple, innocent prayer we made. But I was a child who had already learned in a way that only a child can know to depend up the Lord. And even though I was surprised by the answer it didn’t separate me from knowing that Jesus loved me no matter what.

     Life and studying God’s Word showed me that my focus must be on the Lord – not on the just the answer. As I learned to know the Shepherd who tenderly cared for the sheep, I also began to trust His care. There were times of disappointment and grief, there were times of illness and loss but always as I read His Word I saw that He was there.

     It was that growing understanding of His loving Presence that held me secure through the storms, some unexpected upheavals, and drew me to increase my focus on knowing Him and making the Lord the focus of all my prayers.

     That beloved hymn that I often was drawn to play on the old upright piano taught me the marvelous truth that as I turned my eyes upon Jesus, those things of earth would truly fade in importance. Gazing into His Face even when there were no words at all to say continues to bring a peace that holds.

    Many times as we look around the darkness surrounds us and we see no light. But as we lift our eyes to Jesus we discover a Light that is brighter and the brightest lights here on earth.

    No, His Word will never fail us and knowing that we can serve in our world and keep sharing His promises. He is the Source of Power. He is the Answer to every need. And our loving Lord is the One Who will never fail us.

     This is no magic wand, no simplistic response to complex challenges. No it is the Truth. Jesus can be depended upon to not only understand our hearts but to meet us at our point of need. In Him is the Light of His Glory and Grace. And we can know Him personally.

    

 

 

 

     

Learning To Trust

     From the time I was a young girl, I prayed. I knew without any doubt that this life was way too big for me.

     I needed God.

     I desperately needed Him. I learned to fold my hands and bow my head and talk as I would to a friend. But that was hard. I had no close friend with whom to even compare it. Frequent moves had me constantly longing for a friend. Always standing at the new classroom and dreading that moment when the door would open and I would need to find my desk and sit down.

    No, not having friends was not easy.

    But I had my books. From Heidi, and Anne of Green Gables, to Little Women and F.B. Meyer, Tozer and George Mueller and so many more. Shelves and shelves of books. Wherever we moved my books went. Even now I can remember each house where we lived and exactly where my book shelves were.

    But remembering back I think I learned how to pray the most through need. One situation after another – my grandfather’s sudden illness, my brother’s being kicked in the head by a horse, my mother’s slow recovery from polio, and yes, praying that we’d raise enough money to buy the sugar maple farm in upstate New York.

   I prayed and nothing every seemed to happen. No lightning in the sky. No miraculous healings. Instead my grandfather died.  And I limped along wondering about this whole prayer thing.

    As I grew I learned that God always hears us when we pray. But sometimes He says yes. And sometimes no. And more often than not He says wait. So I kept talking to Him and pouring out my simple prayer requests.

     Somewhere in my teen years facing so many challenges and changes, I began to talk with the Lord. At set times and throughout the day I prayed and listened. In the strange silence I felt comforted and encouraged. I knew that although I was quiet and lonely, He was there.

     I kept talking with Him – through long walks to school crunching those leaves beneath my shoes. I spoke to Him sitting by the peaceful Susquehanna River and pondered the strangeness of life. Life began to take on a calm settledness and I hated the thought of going off to college.

     But that was what I was supposed to do – to get an education so that if the man I married suddenly dropped dead, I’d be able to support my family. Interested to think back and reflect on the reasoning. I never married until later in life. And he didn’t suddenly drop dead. But I did discover not only the marvelous career of teaching children that I loved but also the joy of praying.

    There wasn’t a day that I began teaching that I didn’t pray. Pouring out my heart to God. Asking Him to be with me and give me wisdom to meet the needs of each student. Yes, day after day I prayed and experienced the fullness of knowing that I was doing exactly what the Lord wanted me to do with my life.

    But there came a day when I knew it was time to change. Yes, deep within my heart I sensed there was something else the Lord wanted me to do. No, I did not hear an audible voice. But there was a subtle shift. Whereas before I had been settled in my profession, I suddenly felt the tinge of grief.  I argued and resisted. Hadn’t I been more than happy for so many years?

     Yes, I had but I kept sensing those words, “There is more.” Whatever that might be I had no idea. And it was three years before I began to know.

     I didn’t quit my job. I didn’t rush around and share with others. No, I kept living one day at a time knowing that God would show me. I knew from His Word and my personal experience that He doesn’t play games with people. No, the One Who was my Friend throughout the years was faithful and true. All I needed to do was follow.

    Trust grows slowly when we are with a trustworthy individual. My trust in the Lord grew similarly. He was always there through every big change and little change. Helping me cope with things that were bigger than I. Yes, He was there. He’s always been  there.

   

   

 

 

 

 

House Arrest?

Her words caused my breathing to stop. For a moment.

How could it possibly be?

“You are under house arrest. You must stay inside and talk to no one,”

My thoughts raced in a million different directions.

What had I done?

Here I was thousands of miles from home.

I was in the process of completing an adoption

and suddenly this.

Instantly there was fear.

How long would it last?

What if? A million what ifs.

 There was no way to communicate with my family in the states.

No. There I was.

So what do you do when suddenly life changes

and the unexpected happens?

What do you do when you realize that you are helpless to change things?

“O Lord. I really need your help.”

I prayed and prayed.

Hours dragged by as I sat in the small room with only a narrow bed.

One minute at a time.

I never expected that my desire to adopt would lead to this.

Simple meals were brought to my door.

No words.

Then my worse thought  hit me.

Would I ever get out?

To see my little girl at home?

My parents?

Ugh, but I was seemingly helpless. No phone.

It was at a time of unrest in the world many years ago

and for me a time of awakening.

These things really do happen to ordinary people. Like you. Like me.

I just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time it seemed.

House arrest?

Me?

Well, after a few days I was released

and was flown out of that part of the country

and back to a safer city.

But I’ll never forget that scary experience.

While the world kept turning

I sat and prayed for release, for freedom.

And in His time

God made it possible for me to be safely released

to board a small, very old, rickety plane

and to fly. Just me and 3 other foreign men.

Hair-raising moments? Yes.

Today as I remember

I’m grateful beyond words

that I was released.

Quietly set free and flown out of that hot spot.

Grateful to once again experience God’s hand in the details of my life.

And while we experience all kinds of changes and unsettledness today

it’s reassuring to know

that God hears our prayers.

He knows exactly what is going on

where you live

and where I live.

He knows how trapped some people feel,

He knows how much we miss what we used to do.

Yes, He knows.

And even though we don’t understand everything

we can trust Him

with all of our moments.

He has us safely in His care.

We do not wait in vain.

Let’s just rest in His arms while we wait

knowing that we are not alone.

And nowhere could be safer

than in His tender care.