Our God is Awesome! ~ Psalm 33:8

“Let all the earth, fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.”

It was a few years ago that I had the privilege of meeting the most precious, never to be forgotten, little six year girl. She was beautiful inside and out. She had big brown eyes, brown hair tied up in pigtails, a smile that was missing its front teeth, and a personality that just made you laugh. She made sure that I noticed her new, pink dress and white shoes that she was wearing. Yet, what I remember most was her conversation. She loved to talk, with anyone who would listen. I loved talking to her because she had some very good things to say. Have you ever had a conversation with a six year old kid about God? Now, that is one priceless conversation, let me tell you!

She did her very best to describe God to me: “God is smart probably the smartest person in all the world. He’s probably old, older than my daddy and of course older than my papa! My papa says that God is older than dirt. Do you believe that? And God smiles like me. I know because he gave me my smile and see, see what it looks like! And I think God might laugh too, but not as good as me. I work hard to keep my laugh funny. My papa likes my laugh so I think God does too. But, you wanna know what I like best about God?”

And with this, she stood up, spread her arms out as wide as they could go. Her eyes got big and glistened in the sunlight. And she, rather loudly and boldly proclaims: “God is wha-some! He really really really really is wha-some! I tell you he is wha-some!”

Bless her little heart, she couldn’t say the word awesome; it just came out as wha – some! I LOVE that word! It is just so priceless! I couldn’t help but smile and join in on her jubilant praise party! “Yes, my dear little friend, our God is wha-some!”

Now, every time that I am outside, hiking, picnicking, gardening or simply taking the time to sit and enjoy God’s beautiful creation around me, I think of that little girl. And I smile. She’s almost all grown up now, but I am pleased to say that she still thinks her God is wha-some!

God is definitely wha-somely awesome! And He is worthy of all our praise!

The Psalmist David loved to sing out the praises of God’s awesomeness as well. Many of his Psalms reflect his own attitude of worship and praise to an awesome God. One such Psalm is chapter 66, where it says, “Make a joyful shout to God all the earth! Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious. Say to God. ‘How awesome are Your works! . . . All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name.’ . . . Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard . . . ”

So, what about you, my friend? When was the last time you thought about your awesome God? When was the last time you stood in awe of His creation round about you? When was the last time you burst forth in jubilant praise to your awesome God? Ah, go on, try it!

With the joyful enthusiasm of a six year old, not caring what anyone else thinks, start your own praise party for God. Why not shout loudly and boldly proclaim, “God is wha-some! He really really really really is wha-some! I tell you he is wha-some!”

It’s guaranteed to make God smile!

“Oh, That I had the Wings of a Dove” ~ Psalm 55:1-7

“Give ear to my prayer, O God, And do not hide Yourself from my supplication. Attend to me, and hear me; I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily, Because of the voice of the enemy, Because of the oppression of the wicked; For they bring down trouble upon me, And in wrath they hate me. My heart is severely pained within me, And the terrors of death have fallen upon me, Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me. So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness.”

Ever have “one of those days” when everything seems to go wrong, when nothing is going the right way , or when you find yourself wondering why you even got out of bed? You’re troubled and distraught over circumstances beyond your control. You’re overwhelmed and fearful of news that you just received from the doctor. You’re not certain if you will have a job tomorrow. You wonder where your children’s next meal is going to come from. You hope you will be able to meet this month’s rent in time. You simply want to run; far, far, far away from the stresses and struggles of your life. Ever have one of those days?

Take heart, my friend, the Psalmist David knows exactly how you feel! He was no stranger to the tough, discouraging, frustrating, overwhelming moments of life. He faced many a crisis! Psalm 55 records one of those days.

We don’t know the specific details of the circumstances in this Psalm, and we really don’t need to know. But we do know that the problem involved one of David’s closest companions, as he gives us that clue later on in the chapter (verse 13) “But it is you, a man my equal, my companion, my close friend.” Obviously David was betrayed by his close friend. Reading through these first seven verses of the Psalm, we realize that David was deeply hurt. And that hurt, led to the desire to run away. Ever have one of those days?

I am almost certain, that every person reading this blog can relate to David’s emotional heart-cry when he says,

“Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.”

David also said he would “wander far off . . . I would hasten my escape.”

Have you ever had one of those days?

My friend, if you could run away from your life hardships and struggles right now, where would you go? Would you – –

  1. Go back to bed and cover your head?
  2. Head for the bathroom, lock yourself in, and have a good cry?
  3. Call your mom or a close friend and meet for lunch and a good chat?
  4. Break out the credit card, get in the car, drive to the mall, and go shopping?
  5. Go to the freezer, grab a container of ice cream, pick up a spoon, and savor every single bite until the container is empty?
  6. Or would you do something else? (Write me a reply and tell me what you would do, where you would go to run away!)

David ran to the place that I’d like to go to. That place I should go to every time I want to run away from life and its struggles, but it’s the one place I don’t run to as often as I should. David ran to God! Listen to this – – “As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice. He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me.” (verses 16-18).

Running to God, is the safest place to go! He loves! He listens! He cares! He will comfort! He will give advice! He will renew your strength! He will eat ice cream with you!

Oh, that we would hasten our escape to Him! He is waiting patiently for us. He is listening to our cry for help. We really don’t have to be overwhelmed with life. We really don’t have to struggle with the circumstances of our life. Don’t run away! We’ve just got to learn to fly! Fly, my friend, to the God of David. He’s got this! Spread your wings and fly to HIM!

David gives us one final word of encouragement in this chapter, found in verse 22: “Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” He’ll take that burden, no matter how big it is, away from you!

Oh, that we all could learn a life-changing lesson from the Psalmist David. When you are having “one of those days” and you simply want to run away from it all, consider following David’s example instead. Mount your dove’s wings and fly! Fly straight to the God who eagerly awaits you. Find your rest in the God who cares for you!

Finding Treasure ~ Psalm 119:161b – 162

“But my heart stands in awe of Your Word. I rejoice at Your Word as one who finds great treasure.”

God’s Word is like a giant treasure trove! It is just bursting forth with the best ever treasure that one could ask for or hope to find. All that treasure is right there for the taking. But you won’t really know what is there until you start digging. Dig hard. Dig long. Dig deep. And you will surely find something precious and valuable.

For years now, I have had been teaching kids about the treasures found in God’s Word, the Bible. I tell them that it is kind of like a game of “hide and seek.” God has hidden within the pages of His Word, special treasures that He wants to share with His children. They are hidden in secret places and we won’t know what they are until we begin to seek after them. The Father invites His children to come “seek out those treasures I have left for you.” And with a keen excitement and joyful anticipation we should go and seek out those special treasures left by the Father. “Seek and you will find,” He promises. With a loving heart and a watchful eye, the Father awaits that gleeful shout from one of His children, “I found it!”

So, what kinds of treasures do we find within the pages of His Word? Oh, there are so many, many treasures! But, here is a brief look at four of them:

“Seek and You will Find”

God’s Love! This is an enormous treasure. It shines so brightly within the pages of God’s Word. It’s height and depth, its length and width no one can imagine nor strive to reach around it. It never goes away, it never fades from view and its guaranteed to never tarnish. God’s love is constant, faithful and totally unconditional. There is enough to go around for all of God’s children! Once you find this treasure you will never be the same. You will want more and more of this great love. And in the process of being loved by the Father, you will learn how to love others in the same way. It’s a treasure you can claim as your own, and at the same time, it is a treasure that you can pass on, sharing that love with others. “How precious is Your unfailing love, O God” Psalm 36:7

Sins Forgiven! This starts out as a dark treasure when it is first found. Dark for the sin that it contains. Your sin, my sin, and the sin of the whole world. The Bible talks about our sin and how that we are all sinners, in need of a Savior. The Father God, sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to this earth to bear the punishment of all our sins upon His body; He bled and died upon the cross to save us from our sins. When we believe in Him, and ask for forgiveness of our sins, He will faithfully forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all our iniquity (sin). The treasure that we find of sins forgiven may start out dark from the very sin it holds. But when we seek for and find that precious treasure, then something amazing happens. If we believe, if we confess our sins to Him, then He will change that dark sinful treasure into something that is whiter than snow. His forgiveness washes us clean. All that sin will be gone. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgression (sin) from us.” Psalm 103:12.

Eternal life! There is a story in the Bible of a rich, young man who came to Jesus and he asked this question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Great question! It’s one that we all should ask. The truth is that eternal life is not something that we will inherit from our parents. It is not something that we can buy, no matter the costly price tag. We cannot even work for it. But God’s Word tells us that eternal life is a gift – a free gift from God. It comes straight from the Heavenly Father, God, and is freely given to all who will believe on His Son, Jesus. God offers the gift of eternal life to you; have you accepted that gift? “He asked life from You, and You gave it to him – length of days forever and ever.” Psalm 21:4

Precious Promises! Within the pages of God’s Word, are recorded promise after promise from God to His children. Each one so very precious and extremely valuable. One could spend their entire lifetime, gathering each promise and claiming it as their own. And at the end of your life, there would still be promises waiting to be claimed. Here’s what I have learned of God’s promises: They are real and lasting! They are written just for me! They are mine to claim as my own! There are promises for every season of my life! They are something that I can cherish deeply within my heart! They are eternal! And they are never broken! “My covenant (promise) I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.” Psalm 89:34

If we were to start with just these four treasures found in God’s Word, then my friend, we are well on our way to building a wonderful trove of treasure from a great God! And yet, here is the good news; that’s not all the treasure! The rest is waiting for you to “come, seek and find” within the pages of God’s Word, the Bible. May I encourage you to pick up a copy today, and start digging! The treasure are waiting!

Fear That Comes Out of Nowhere!

“Be merciful to me, O God, for man (or dogs!) would swallow me up. . . Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, I will praise His word: In God, I have put my trust; I will not be afraid.” Psalms 56:1, 3-4

FEAR! Just the word can cause one to break out into a sweat, or send shivers up your spine, or make the adrenaline start to pump. Where’s the nearest place I can go hide? No one likes fear! So, what brings out the fear in you, my friend?

I’m afraid of the fear that comes out of nowhere! It’s totally unexpected and you are not one bit prepared for it. Do you know that kind of fear? Max and I encountered that level of fear and it was frightful for sure!

Max is my little, two year old, Maltese-mix dog. He loves walking and its not unusual for us to go walking through our neighborhood or at the park at least once a day. It’s his opportunity to meet all kinds of fun! He loves chasing after birds, crickets, lizards and rabbits; dodging cactus, sticker weeds, and certain plants that make him sneeze; stopping to smell the air, sniff at the local fire hydrant, or simply savor someone’s barbecue (that always includes the look that says, “and why wasn’t I invited?”) or on rare occasions, his idea of fun is sitting down in the middle of the street and flat right out refuses to move (and that would be accompanied with the look that says, “Nope, I’m not moving! You can’t make me Mom!) Together Max and I have met many of our neighbors and struck up some new friendships. He is quite partial to the four-legged variety of friends and he can lead you straight to each of their houses, usually pausing to bark out a little “hello friend!” We’ve watched many a sunrise or sunset while walking and admired all the different colors painted in the sky. Occasionally we get to finish our walk in the rain and splash through some puddles on our way home. But only once have we encountered FEAR. And dear Lord Jesus, may it never happen again!

It was 5:30 a.m. Max got so excited when Mom slipped out that little word “walk” in a conversation with Dad before he took off to work. Oops, there it was. No turning back now. How can you possibly ignore that whimpering look? Okay, okay Max! Let’s go for a walk! “Yes, yes mom, but first I gotta race through the house. Do you see my great excitement mom?” Whatever! Let’s see, there’s walking shoes for mom – check! Sunglasses, phone, house keys in Mom’s hands – check! Harness on for Max – check! Hold still Max, let me put your leash on – check! Oh, and don’t forget the poop bag, I’m gonna need that for sure – double check! Okay, now can we go? Please don’t forget the dog; he’s still doing laps around the kitchen floor, hoping you will notice just how excited he really is. “Come on, Max!”

The walk this one particular morning was rather uneventful. Until! Max and I met FEAR! We were just walking along, minding our own business, enjoying the fresh morning air. When out of nowhere – literally – two big German shepherd dogs charged at us! There was no warning! We weren’t sure where they had even come from. Just all the sudden there was this fierce barking, snarling, and jumping. Startled fear is an understatement, let me tell you! In that moment, I was so thankful that my husband insisted we buy a harness for Max when we walk him. I grabbed that harness and lifted my precious dog up off the ground and away from the slobbering dogs that obviously wanted their breakfast. I quickly hid Max under my baggy shirt (oh, so glad I wore that too!) and turned my back to the dogs. “Who on earth is that screaming?” – oh, wow! That was me! I honestly didn’t know I could scream so loud (good thing to know!) Instantly, I felt the dogs’ hot breath, mixed with warm saliva dripping down my arm. the heavy paws thudding against my back as they jumped up, scratching at me with all their energy, trying desperately and hoping to get at Max. “Oh, dear God, help! Please don’t let them bite me.” For what seemed endless moments, the dogs kept jumping, barking, scratching, snarling, hoping to get to Max. Over my dead body, you brutes! I’ve never known that kind of fear. It was intense. But, I gotta tell you, not only did the neighbors hear my screams – God did! He also heard my quick, panic-stricken prayer! And He answered me! He shut the mouths of those dogs and they began to back away. Finally, the owners emerge from the house with a “What did you do to our dogs?” Really? Are you people serious? What did I do to YOUR DOGS?

Thankfully, everyone was okay. The scratches on my back will heal. Yet, in all honesty, I have to tell you, I would choose to not have that kind of fear in my day ever again. Wow, it was intensely scary. And yet, fear is a part of our lives. It comes along with our human nature. Fear is not a gift from God, I can assure you of that truth. Some people grow up in an environment riddled with fear. Sometimes fear comes in waves at various times in our lives depending upon our circumstances. What one person is fearful of, another is not affected by it at all. But it is a guaranteed thing, fear will come to us all. Fear is something we all will have to face at some time or another.

When fear arrives, we have basically two choices. We can – Forget Everything And Run; run away from our fears, pretending that they don’t really exist and never deal with them. And yes, I will admit that some fears truly make you want to run, far, far, far away! And maybe we should run, given some of the fearful circumstances that we could encounter. But then, what do we do the next time, that same fear comes back upon us? Should we just keep running and never really face that particular fear that we are running from? Or we can – Face Everything And Rise; face our fears head on, bring them out of hiding, acknowledge our fear for what it is and rise to the challenge of eliminating that fear for good.

I personally like the advice and example of the Psalmist David. Now, he had some fears! As a shepherd boy, he feared that wild animals could come and harm his father’s flock of sheep that he lovingly care for. He faced that fear and learned how to kill those animals who came after the sheep. Fearing for his very life, David ran and hid from King Saul who sought to kill him. God intervened, protected David, and helped him solve the problem with King Saul. Or what about the time that Israel’s army were cowering in fear when the giant Goliath sought for one (just one!) to come out and do battle against him. In the midst of Goliath’s taunting cries, David volunteered to face that fearful giant. He chose to rise up in the strong name of the Lord his God and with five smooth stones and a sling he went to work on the giant, who was literally laughing in his face at the manner in which David came to him. God gave David the victory! The fearful giant was defeated!

I just love the words of David in Psalms 56:3-4 that say: “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, I will praise His word; In God, I have put my trust; I will not fear. . .” David makes a bold declaration of what he will do in the midst of fear. He said “whenever” and that means no matter what the circumstances are that caused him to fear. “Whenever I am afraid” this is what I am choosing to do – “I will trust in You.” David had learned that God was on his side. God was ever-present with David and He knew each and every fear that would rise up within David. While those fears were not from God, nonetheless God was there for him in the midst of those fearful times. David makes the clear, bold choice to trust in God at those times. He knew who God was and that He could be trusted. David trusted in God’s word; He would never say anything that was not truth. So if God told David that He would be with him in those fearful times, then David knew he could trust the word of his God. “In God I have put my trust.” For David there was no other way. He knew he could trust his God. “I will not fear” – that was David’s choice! With God on his side, there was absolutely no need to fear!

Fear or trust! The choice is yours!

What’s Happened to Repentance?

“I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Psalms 32:5

That’s such a great question! One that I have often pondered many times before. Repentance used to be taught alot in the churches that I grew up in. But, I’m afraid to say, that the strangest thing has been happening over the years as I have been maturing in my own faith walk with God. I am noticing that we are actually hearing less and less about sin and repentance being taught from the church’s pulpit’s anymore. That saddens me greatly, for we need to hear teachings about it all the more, now that our society is becoming less Christian (godly) and more focused on self and things of the world. We’ve become complacent to our sin. Dare I say that we’ve even grown to like our sin. We’ve come to accept it as a part of our lives, therefore, its okay to do wrong (sin) in the sight of our God. So, what happened to the idea of repentance? Well, I don’t think it crosses our minds too much any more.

It crossed mine this morning as I listened to a sermon by William Graham, who was the guest speaker at Shadow Mountain Church in San Diego, California. And yes, that IS the grandson of the well-known, well-loved evangelist, Billy Graham. He asked that question – What’s happened to repentance? He too believes that it is missing from our churches of today. Early on, in the sermon, he forwarned those listening that they would be given opportunity to respond in some way. Wow, that kind of makes you sit up and listen harder, huh? It did me. I prayed and asked God to open hearts and lead the people to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit (and God later on answered that prayer as I witnessed quite a few people going forward in church to confess their sins and begin a renewed relationship with their God!) But I wasn’t prepared for the work God wanted to do in MY own heart this morning. Yep, the Holy Spirit was a working on me too! I will admit that I was convicted and yes, even challenged – I was greatly challenged! I had to ask myself this question: Kathy, what’s happened to repentance in your life?

William Graham used 2 Samuel 12:1-15 as his sermon text. It’s the story of David after his sin of adultery against Bathsheba, after he had killed her husband Uriah to cover up his sin, after he refused to acknowledge his sin before others. After all that, David was confronted by Nathan, the prophet of God, who not only brought David’s sin to light, but shared with him the words of the Lord, which ultimately brought forgiveness and healing. In this sermon, six points were made that helped me look at repentance a little differently.

  1. Repentance starts with God (verse 1). God was the One who sent Nathan to David to be His messenger. God began the work of conviction in David’s heart, even though David wasn’t really aware of that working yet. God brought about the encounter David had with God’s word spoken to him, through the prophet Nathan. God started knocking at David’s heart to remind him of the sin that was committed, that now separated David from his God.
  2. Repentance reveals the stupidity of our sin (verses 1-4). Think about that statement for a moment, will you? Repentance reveals the stupidity of our sin. Sin happens in all of us, for “we are all sinners and fall short of God’s glory. (Romans 3:23). Our sin shows forth, all too many times, just how stupid we can be, just how many stupid things we can do in the heat of a moment. It reveals how quickly we can yield to the temptations of sin that is ever before us. If we are not careful, sin will get every one of us!
  3. Repentance arouses the anger of our sin (verse 5). Or so it should! We should HATE our sin! We should desire to turn against our sin and stop doing it! But we don’t! We just keep our secret sins to ourselves, hoping that no one else will know. We would rather that pastors in the pulpit never mention sin and repentance, for then we don’t have to deal with it, right? We would rather dwell with our sin, allowing it to become our invisible friend. We choose to allow any guilt and shame we feel that’s related to that sin, begin to grow into a hard and calloused heart. And eventually, we no longer pay attention to sin. We accept it. We sometimes even embrace it. Let that one really sink into your mind and heart! Ouch, God! Is anyone else feeling a little convicted here?
  4. Repentance is self admitting to our own sinful actions (verse 13). It’s not us showing forth someone else’s sin. Nope, its us, admitting to our own sins. Admitting them to God first and foremost; then, admitting them to others, especially those to whom we sinned against. This has to happen if repentance is going to do any good in our life and restore our relationship with God.
  5. Repentance is a beautiful picture of God drawing us back to Himself (verse 13). That’s what God wants! You and me, to confess our sin, and return to Him. He longs to “restore the joy of Your salvation” to us. He longs for a right relationship with us once again. And the picture of that restoration – well, it’s truly beautiful, beyond any spoken words!
  6. Repentance needs visable consequences before true healing happens (verse 14). Did David confess his sin before God? Yes! Did God forgive him that sin? Oh yes, He did!! David was then let off the hook, right? Oh no, he was not! There were consequences to pay. This sin cost David greatly. And those consequences were visable to all. BUT so was God’s love, mercy, grace and forgiveness! God drew David back to Himself!

So, what happened to repentance? It might have been hiding for a while from our lives. But it’s right there. Within you. Within me. I personally believe that we, as Christians, have hidden it long enough. It’s time to bring repentance back. It’s time to say we are sorry to those we have sinned against. It’s time we all got on our knees before our God and pray this prayer of David: “I acknowledge my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden, I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ (Psalms 32:5) This morning, I stayed on my knees until I KNEW God had answered my prayer of repentance.

“And YOU forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Oh, Praise you dear God! When we bring repentance back, we will know true forgiveness and restored relationship once again. In that moment, God showers us with His love, mercy and grace! We will know that we are a forgiven people! And this is good! So good! So freeing! So refreshing!

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” (Psalms 32:1) I can tell you honestly, God drew me, once again, to Himself through the sermon I listened to by His servant, William Graham. I brought repentance out of hiding today! And it was a very good thing!

What’s happened to your repentance? Are you hiding it? May I encourage you to consider this; Bring it out. Give it to God. Let Him show you His love, mercy, grace and forgiveness. Allow Him to show you a different picture of you. Receive His restoration today. Be blessed by the God who is seeking after you. He’s knocking right now on your heart’s door. How will you respond?

I’m Overwhelmed, but I Am Here God! ~ Psalm 61:1-4

“Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.” Psalm 61:1-4 (NKJV)

Have you ever been overwhelmed by circumstances in your life? I mean, REALLY overwhelmed?

I would venture a guess that we’ve all been there, done that before, right? Not a fun place to be. Regardless of what the circumstances are – – lost your job, financial difficulties, serious medical issues, trouble or rebellion from the kids, marriage going through challenges, etc – – we all face tough times at various seasons of our lives. It has often been said that “tough times in life will either make us bitter or they will make us better.” The choice will be ours.

Quite a few years ago I was hit with circumstances way out of my control, that hit me like a ton of bricks! To say that I was overwhelmed by these circumstances, well, that’s just the understatement of the year. After months of pain, agony, rashes, hives, coughs and choking spells, not to mention all the doctor visits and all sorts of tests I had to go through, I was finally given, in 2002, just one week before Christmas, the diagnosis of Toxic Mold Poisoning with Chemical Hypersensitivity Syndrome!

“WHAT? Mold, like in that green stuff that grows on cheese?” I remember saying to the doctor. “Oh, my dear, its so much more serious than that, I’m afraid. You have 14 different types of mold spores actively growing in your lungs. All 14 types (and he named them off) are all at high toxic levels and you are slowly suffocating to death. We have to start treatment right away.” My husband, Andy and I both sat there stunned!

Yep, I was instantly overwhelmed by my circumstances! It was on the drive home from the doctor’s office that the severity of my circumstances started to really hit me. It hit me hard! Trying to figure out where the mold had come from, I realized that I had brought back from my missionary days in Britain two souveniors: (1) my beloved English hubby, Andrew and (2) lungs full of toxic mold spores. Great! This is just great! Now, what do I do?

Well, treatment with large doses of antifungal medications was started right away. I don’t even remember Christmas that year. All my plans had to be cancelled. I was too sick to even care! And just like the doctor had warned, I got worse before I got better! And there were too many days that I really wanted to die rather than fight these “beasties” within me. I was totally, utterly overwhelmed with my circumstances. I remember picking up my Bible, knowing within its pages would be my comfort and hopefully some answers from the God who had allowed these circumstances to enter my life. I immediately went to my “go to” book – the Book of Psalms.

The first Psalm that I read after receiving that diagnosis was Psalm 61. All I could read at that time, was the first four verses. I burst into tears! And I cried like never before. Only this time I didn’t cry to myself, to comfort myself; I cried out to God for help, for understanding, for just a reminder of His presence for I felt ever so alone. In the midst of those overwhelming circumstances, I realized that I truly needed God! I needed Him to be my rock now that I felt like a wimpy lump of helpless clay. I needed to know that He would be my place of shelter when I needed to be alone in my pain and agony. He needed to know that a horrible “beast” had entered my body, wrecking its damage within, and I needed to know that He would be my strong tower that protected me from that “beast.” And I realized that no matter what my circumstances were, I still needed to run to the tabernacle of the Lord to worship, to pray, to read from His Word, to simply rest in His arms. I needed to learn to trust Him in a whole new way, while I rested under the shadow of His Almighty wings. I needed God in my circumstances!

During that time of dire circumstances, feeling isolated from everyone and everything, facing mountains of medical bills, ongoing battles with intensive treatments, and going between life and death – I learned to really cry out to God! REALLY cry out to God! I opened up my heart to Him in a whole new way! I learned what true worship was to be! I learned to cherish His words of hope and comfort as I read them from my Bible. I prayed with an insanely open heart before God! I had never prayed with such words of honesty in all my life, but now, I wanted to pray that way! I even wrote out a prayer to God. My psalm of lament over my circumstances. It’s my psalm to the God who, through my circumstances, quickly became my rock, my shelter, my strong tower, my tabernacle and my trust! I would like to share that prayer with you, my blog readers, in hopes that it might help you through your own dire circumstances.

“God, I am here in the midst of circumstances that I do not like!! This diagnosis is not one bit fair! I find these circumstances very difficult and extremely overwhelming. I know that I am not alone for YOU are here with me, never to leave nor forsake me! I recognize that YOU are the ONLY ONE who can help me right now. I need Your help God, now more than ever before.

In the midst of this overwhelming battle, may I always remember that:

  1. I am here by God’s appointment – – this is all part of God’s plan for my life! (Proverbs 19:21 and Jeremiah 29:11)
  2. I am here in God’s safe-keeping – – surrounded by God’s most perfect love; and so, there are no more pity parties girl! (Deuteronomy 33:27 and Jeremiah 31:3)
  3. I am here under God’s training – – good will come of these circumstances if I just hang on! (Job 23:10 and James 1:12)
  4. I am here for God’s time – – and that is ALWAYS perfect! (Psalm 31:14-15 and I Peter 1:6-7)

God, please help me to embrace this set of circumstances as a gift from YOU! Use this time to guard me from becoming bitter. Use this time to make me a better person. Help me to know that YOU, God, will meet me at my point of need with all the tender loving care that I need. Grant to me the assurance that YOU will still use me in spite of this horrible disease, that my life will still have some value to it. Grant me the opportunity to see YOU at work not only in my life, but through it as well. Oh God, please embrace me to YOURSELF — never let me go — hold me tight when I can’t hang on — and assure me that together we will be victors in this battle.

I am here God – – and I feel YOUR presence right beside me!”

My dear blog readers, I cannot tell you how many times, throughout many years, I have prayed that prayer in the midst of all kinds of overwhelming circumstances in my life. It’s truths have strengthened me for battle numerous times. And every time, it draws me closer to God. I truly have learned that YES – He is my rock! He is my shelter! He is my strong tower! He is my tabernacle forever! He is my trust! And I have grown to love those overwhelming circumstances that come into life’s journey. Because they afford me the opportunity to, once again, seek shelter under His wings. And that is such a comforting place to be!!

Praise the Lord! Psalm 113:3

“From the rising of the sun to its going down, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” Psalm 113:3

Our dog, Max, and I went out for a walk! It was still pretty hot and muggy from the long monsoon summer day. “I just wish it would rain and bring us a little relief from this heat,” I thought to myself as Max and I walked down the driveway and started out for a good night’s walk. Then it happened.

I looked up into the sky ahead as the sun was setting for the evening and this picture is what I saw. I stood there, with Max at my side, staring breathlessly at the beautiful sight before me. I took in its awesomeness. “Wow God, this is amazing!” And in that instant, God brought the verse Psalm 113:3 to my mind. I said it over a couple of times to myself. I couldn’t help it – but in that very moment I just wanted to burst forth in praise to God. Max and I sat down on the sidewalk. Yep, right there in the middle of the sidewalk. I didn’t care what the neighbors thought. After all, God had just given us front row seats to the sunset of the evening. I wasn’t about to miss this opportunity. For the longest time, we sat in silence, both of us watching God’s handiwork before us. And then, I began to praise!

Bazillion different items of praise to God came to my mind – – who God is, what He had done for me that day, all the different things I enjoy thanks to God’s provision, for all the health and strength given to me from God, for my home and luxuries in it to enjoy, for food on my table along with the cupboards and fridge loaded with more, for family and friends and new people that I meet every day . . . and on and on my list of praise went as Max and I sat there, in silence, on the sidewalk. Each phase of that sunset, gave me another reason to praise God. Not only is God’s handiwork awesome. He is awesome! And as the psalmist reminds me, His name is worthy to be praised!!

When was the last time you paused from your busyness to simply sit down and enjoy a sunset? When was the last time you burst forth in praise because you simply couldn’t help it? God gives us opportunities to do that every day. Do we take the opportunity laid out before us?

But then I thought about what my praise is worth to God? God gives me the opportunity to praise Him. I choose to take that opportunity and begin to praise. Something begins to happen within me. (1) I am silent before my God (that’s such a good place to be!); (2) Words of praise rise up within my heart and begin to come out of my lips; (3) There’s a sense of peace that surrounds me as my own heart and spirit take flight; (4) In that moment, God allows me to see Him as He is and I feel super blessed and peaceful in His presence. God uses that opportunity to change something within me.

But what does that moment do for God? As I sat there, enjoying the front row seat to God’s handiwork, I believe a smile broke out upon His face. After all, His child was taking a moment to spend with Him. Me and God time! What could be better than that! That’s got to make God happy, right? I’m almost certain that God was smiling down on Max and me as we sat there in His presence, on the sidewalk. And in that very moment, something else was happening. As I begin to lift up my words of praise to God’s ears, He was exalted! Praise words exalt our great God! They lift Him higher and higher! And I begin to realize anew that I have one marvelously great and powerful and awesome God!! Something else happens with God as He listens to the praises of His child. He takes great delight in what is being said. “Let them praise His name… Let them sing praises to Him… For the Lord takes pleasure in His people.” (Psalm 149:3-4). I tell you, God is smiling!

“Come on Max,” I finally said as I stood up, tugging on his leash, “its getting dark out here. We’d better go home.” Our walk back to the house was light. My heart was rejoicing. The praise just kept coming. And I realized, once again, through a beautiful evening sunset, just how blessed I am to personally know this great God. Praise the Lord!