In Quietness and Confidence

Don and I dressed nicely, business casual, anticipating getting together with our new tenants for the first time, as well as meeting soon-to-be neighbors at a community gathering. After greeting our tenants and taking the measure-ments we needed for our plans to upgrade the house before moving in later this year, we wound down the hill to the clubhouse, where we enjoyed a delicious meal overlooking the golf course, flowers, and the sway of the wind in the willows.

We wanted to be a bit early for the meeting to discuss external paint colors for the homes in our Village, so drove up to the Forest Community Center and parked the car. We wandered into the room, about two minutes early, to see 25-30 people there. “Good turnout,” I thought.

It seemed everyone was looking at us. I lip-read as one woman mouthed “Does anyone know them?” As we walked into the second row to take our seats, confident we were in the right place, a woman approached. “May I help you?”

“We own the home on Caledonia and are here for the paint color meeting.”

“I think you’re in the wrong place. This is the Village Voices.”

I pulled out the announcement and reread it … the meeting we wanted was the following night, Thursday. Oh boy! But the people were welcoming. A large man smiled, reaching out his hand: “I’m Ed. Stay and sing with us.” Another said “Stay and make a joyful noise.”

We left, chuckling at our mistake but also warmed by the welcomes expressed to us by those in the community chorus.

Do you sometimes feel there’s just too much on your plate? Too many appointments to remember? Between doctors’ appointments, physical therapy, and other commitments, I obviously wasn’t keeping it all straight.

Our cousins, Edith and Brian Peters, are visiting from near Winnipeg, Canada. Two nights ago Edie sat at our piano and began to play. We’d had a full day. Don, Brian and I sat in the living room, quiet, listening to the sweet music emanating from the piano under the skill of Edie’s fingers. And I remembered the scripture that says “In quietness and confidence is your strength.”

Quietness …

  • allows me to regroup,
  • to recharge,
  • to sort out the important from the mundane,
  • to let some things go.

It increases my coping resources for the challenges that face me daily.

And confidence in my God …

  • who never sleeps,
  • who is always present,
  • who has promised never to leave nor forsake me,

gives me strength that is not dependent on my own limited resources.

“Keep me still, Lord, before you; help me rest in Your presence, to hear your still, small voice, to follow your lead, to trust you one step at a time and let the chaos slip away as I move, cocooned in Your Holy Spirit.”

I wish for you–and for me–a week of quiet, confident strength.

Three Days that Changed the World

 

He is Risen, just as He said!

Friday: Jesus hung on the cross in agony, carrying my sin and the sin of the world.

His words?
“It (redemption for sin) is finished.”

Sunday: The tomb was empty. “HE is RISEN!”

And the hope of the world has never been the same.

Glorious Easter, reader!

 

 

Abandoned … for Me

Abandoned.

Left behind.

Completely alone.

Terrified.

It was noon Sunday. I was nine years old, and I realized my parents had left church–without me! Frightened, I wondered how long it would take them to realize I wasn’t in the car.

Would they expect someone else to bring me home?

Come back for me?

Be annoyed with me?

Thankfully, my childhood abandonment was short-lived. Mom and Dad heard the silence in the car(!), realized they’d forgotten one child and, to my great relief, returned to pick me up.

I had very loving parents and I was terrified.

I grieve for the many children who are abandoned emotionally, physically, spiritually by addicted, incapable, or uncaring parents. I remember a former acquaintance who, along with his waste collection buddies, found an abandoned, live infant in a garbage can.

But for Christ, fully God and fully man, to say “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” expresses incomprehensible pain.

At that moment, Jesus, carrying all the sin of the world on Himself, identified fully with my sin, and the collective sins of the world. Although He did not sin, Christ felt the separation from God that we sense when we have unconfessed sin in our lives. In heaven, the Son was One with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The three experienced perfect communication, complete alignment, sublime love, total Oneness. Leaving all that only to feel forsaken, abandoned–how great a chasm that must have been!

Truth set me free!

After a God-honoring memorial service for my first husband, I fell into a deep pit of abandonment, aloneness, despair. I was crushed by the question “What if everything I have believed is a lie … there is no eternal life with Christ … and I will never see Jerry again …” My conclusion was that if the Bible was not true, and faith in Christ was based on a lie, life as I knew it was over. No hope. No sustenance. No future. I might as well quit now.

I was alone in another sense. Because I had experienced God’s faithfulness, presence and hope during Jerry’s illness and death, people often commented on my example of faith, and how they were learning from me how to respond in adversity. How could I now disappoint them by revealing my doubts, the anguish I felt, my separateness from God and others? So I kept my agony to myself and wandered through murky darkness for several weeks.

One day God brought Peter’s words to my mind: “Where else would we go, Lord? You alone have the words of eternal life.” And suddenly, my heart was free. Truth won out. The gap closed, and I was again in union with my Lord, who went to the deepest of all pits in order to give me hope and life eternal.

A dear friend once told me that God wants to be God even in my deepest despair; and that however low my pit, God has gone deeper still.

Where are you feeling abandoned? Where do you need to have God reach in to rescue you from your pit? Tell Him. Allow Him to touch you and renew your spirit. If you’re willing to share with me, I’d like to pray for you too.

Jesus agonized on the Cross. He suffered the greatest pain possible, both physically and emotionally, and He died. But then came Sunday, the day the world changed forever! This Easter week, let’s praise Him for His sacrifice and His resurrection, which give us forgiveness and life and hope and peace.

He is risen!

“Go about, preaching the gospel, using words where necessary”

“She kept things ship-shape here. Kept the doctors in line–and they still loved her.”

“Oh, I miss her! Please tell her hi.”

Shirley and Fritz (right) on a girlfriends’ weekend with me.

One of my best friends, Fritz Buschman, retired two years ago from Washington Hospital’s Institute for Joint Repair; now I was there for a total knee replacement.

“She was always smiling. Very approachable.”

I was on an overnight stay in the hospital following my surgery on Thursday. As I’d asked hospital personnel if they knew my girlfriend Fritz, I got loads of wonderful comments expressing appreciation for Fritz, her hard work and her spirit. And I was delighted to hear these great comments about one of my dearest friends.

Fritz and I have been close friends for about twenty-five years. Not long after we met, she called to tell us her husband was in the hospital, needing immediate surgery. My late husband and I rushed to the hospital to sit with Fritz and their daughter, waiting to hear the results of Frank’s emergency stint in the OR.

Fritz was one of the close friends who visited me in Florida when Jerry was dying. She helped me understand the monitors. I remember her lovely blue eyes, full of compassion; her smile, which welcomed others in; her patience in explanations; and her loving support (along with other dear friends) after Jerry’s death.

He gave His life for me, and for you

So I totally understand why Fritz was admired and appreciated in her workplace. Hearing these warm sentiments, I was reminded of  II Corinthians 2: 15.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”

Through her competence and compassion, Fritz has been a pleasing aroma of Christ to those with whom she worked. She has let her love for Christ show in how she respects and treats others.

I want my life to be such a sweet aroma for Christ, one that reflects His character. At times I fail miserably. But I thank God for forgiveness and clean slates that allow me to start fresh, clean, whole.

And I’m grateful for Fritz’ lovely example.

 

STRUCK DOWN BUT NOT DESTROYED

Killing you’s too easy. We gonna carve up that one’s face so she’s not so pretty … and cut out that teacher’s tongue so she can’t talk about Jesus.”

These threats, coming through our phone from unnamed men in the inner city neighborhood into which we’d moved, filled our hearts with fear. Three other young women and I had moved into a house in the LA ghetto, believing God had called us to have a presence among those with whom we wanted to share Jesus’ love. Safe? Absolutely not.

Some mornings I could barely get out of bed. Some nights our staff men came to the house, kept us company and prayed with us ‘til 2 or 3 in the morning, when we finally thought we might fall asleep. Threatened with rape and mutilation, we learned the way to all the nearest police stations in case we were being followed.

Christmas season was peppered with robberies. Our low-income neighbors often went all out to provide gifts for their children, only to become victims of theft. My housemates and I had been busy making our own gifts. Standing on the ledge in front of a dining room window stood a 24-inch Paper Mache angel with a bib-like apron. Around midnight, two staff women were downstairs working on their own creations of leather work and stitchery when some gang members walked by and smashed the window. The glass shattered, falling into the angel’s apron!

“The angel saved us, the angel saved us,” called Arletta as we phoned the police to report the vandalism. We were struck down; but not destroyed. God was with us through every threat, every attack, and the break-ins we experienced.

One night I was particularly exhausted and terrified. I climbed into bed, pulled the covers up over my shoulders, and prayed “Lord, if you don’t waken me in the morning I don’t think I’ll get up for work. I’m too scared and worn out to hear an alarm.”

And at 7 am I heard my name—in a loving, warm voice that sounded like rushing waters—just “Carol”.  I looked around…and saw no one. But I recognized it as my Father’s voice.

“Thank you, Abba.” I lifted my voice in praise, got up and dressed, and headed into work.

It was moments like this—hearing my name spoken by an unseen Presence, looking at who God is through his Word, catching glimpses of eternity—through which God sustained me during those trials.

Today Christians are being tortured and murdered In the Middle East. They need God’s sustaining grace and peace in the middle of their trials—and they need to know Christians in other countries have not forgotten them.

Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (II Corinthians 4:17-18, NLT)

Good Father, be with your children who are facing torture, starvation, murder, uprooting from their homes and countries. I confess I can’t even comprehend what it would be like to have my child murdered and desecrated. Assure these sisters and brothers in the faith that, even as they are struck down, they are not destroyed. Give them moments of clarity about you. Let their roots go deep into the soil of your love so they can stand despite storms and wind and persecution. Grant them glimpses of eternity to sustain them, knowing you will never abandon them and that glory awaits. Show me how I can help. And please minister your peace that passes all understanding. In Jesus’ name.