Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Circle Me, Lord

Circle me, Lord.
Keep protection near and danger afar.
Circle me, Lord
Keep hope within. Keep doubt without.
Circle me, Lord.
Keep light near and darkness afar.
Circle me, Lord.
Keep peace within. Keep evil out.

Prayer by David Adam.

For the past few weeks, our church services have started with the reading of this prayer. I have not yet been able to say all of the words before tears begin to well up in my eyes and my voice catches.

Three weeks ago, we came to Norwood United Methodist Church to attend for the first time the church that our family would be serving in ministry. My husband would begin preaching the following Sunday so our first Sunday we planned to just worship from the back pew and observe. This was the first impression I had and I knew that God was speaking to me during this opening prayer.

We moved three weeks prior to my daughter's surgery and packing and unpacking boxes was a nice way to take my mind off of the looming date. Whenever I let my mind wander, the fear is always there. The fear I experience isn't about the surgery itself. Instead, I'm taken back to the paralyzing fear from November 15, 2014, the fall that caused it all. The time I laid my daughter down and turned my back just long enough for our lives to be changed dramatically.

I hate to always talk about that day. I really hate to relive it daily. But the truth is, I see that moment in my mind almost every single day. I see her hit her head on the wood floor. I see her face, red and crying, as I picked her up. I see her eyes flutter as Joe and I shouted her name and shook her. I see Joe run out the door with her, heading for the hospital. It's with me, always.

Friday's surgery should resolve all issues that remain from the fall. From brain bleed and bone flap removal to bone replacement followed by the bone recessing, my child's skull has not been round and there has been a visible reminder to me daily of the accident that almost took her away.

Following the night of the fall, I struggled with my faith in a way that I never have since accepting Christ as my Savior. My child had been spared, but I felt so undeserving. I doubted myself and questioned my ability to keep her safe. I was living in fear and while I was so thankful to have her, for the first time, I began to feel like that would not always be the case. After being so positive for so long, I had hit the bottom and did not know how to come back up.

One night was especially awful. I wrote this blog about the nightmares I experienced nightly. After my writing and the prayers of so many faithful prayer warriors, things began to improve. I let go of the fear that was controlling me and began to trust God again to lead my path.

As we prepare for this surgery that will finally leave my daughter with a round head and remove the physical reminder of that dark time, I have felt some of the fear coming back. It's as though I'm being reminded that our time is not promised. Like my nightmares many months ago, Satan is creeping into my life and telling me to be fearful.

This week, when I feel the pull to fear I've been instead saying "Circle me, Lord". What a beautiful mantra to carry with me this week! I encourage you to read it again and join me in asking the Lord to circle us all. He is our protection, our hope, our light, and our peace. May we feel Him circle our lives.

Circle me, Lord.
Keep protection near and danger afar.
Circle me, Lord
Keep hope within. Keep doubt without.
Circle me, Lord.
Keep light near and darkness afar.
Circle me, Lord.
Keep peace within. Keep evil out.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

What Kind of World

In recent months, we've been fed a lot of fears. Here is a short list of things we have been told to fear: bathrooms, gorillas, nightclubs, Muslims, transgender people, guns, alligators, foreigners, police officers, radicals, conservatives, liberals, Mother Nature, and everyone running for president.

Over the past few months, so many friends have made social media posts that make mention of the "kind of world" they are living in or their children are growing up in. I understand the fears because so much we see is scary. There are so many people or things that would or could hurt us. I also know that we are not meant to live our lives in fear.

I know I am a white woman. I know I am a straight woman. I don't go to nightclubs or Disney, either. So in many ways, I'm on the outside. I don't know what it is like to be judged by my skin color or my spouse. I have a master's degree and while I'm not rich, I've never experienced true poverty. I can sympathize but never empathize on many accounts of struggles.

What I can offer is love. It may sound silly and like that's not enough. "Oh, love, like that's gonna save us!" Maybe it won't keep me from harm or you from harm. But, we are called to love our neighbors. It's the biggest Bible takeaway after "love the Lord your God." (Matthew 22:37)

I've been doing a Bible study on 1 John and there is a verse I read recently that sums it up. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

No fear in love. If we focus on God's love towards us, what have we to fear? I don't want to die but if I did, I know I will be with Jesus and free from the worries of this world. And if we show love to others, we show them God and give them the power over fear.

I know this seems very simplified and doesn't sound like it will solve anything. But honestly, is your Facebook post of fear solving anything? Do you think rules, government, signage, language, or elections will solve it? We can't wait on some major shift to happen without making minor changes ourselves. How about starting with love?

Instead of asking "What kind of world are we living in?" we could exclaim "What kind world we are living in!"

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

God Helps Us Handle What We Are Given

People often try to offer comforting and encouraging words to me as I care for my daughter with childhood cancer. One of the things that people say is "God only gives us what we can handle."

I want to discuss this phrase.

To start, let's look at the first part, "God gives us". This tells me that God has given me this situation. So when you say this to me, you are saying that God has placed that tumor in my child's head. God gave me a sick child. God is the reason that my child has cancer.

If I were not a believer in God, I'm not sure that would make me very interested in learning more about Him.

Then, let's look at the second part, "what we can handle". I assure you, I cannot handle this. This mass in my daughter's head wasn't placed there because God knew that I could handle it. I'm not any more equipped to handle it than you or anyone else.

Again, if I were not a believer, I would think that God obviously does not know me very well if He thinks this is something that I can handle.

Now, let's look at what the Scriptures say about  troubles.

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.  Psalm 9:9

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes,
with your right hand you save me.   Psalm 138:7    

In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.  John 16:33

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

These verses tell us that we will face troubles. Hard times will come. Not that He will send them, but that they are there. The verses also say that God is our stronghold, He saves us, He has overcome the world, and He will comfort us. It isn't about what we can handle but what He can handle alongside us.

Perhaps, instead of "God only gives us what we can handle." what should be said is, "God helps us handle what we are given."