Yesterday I was able to catch up with a dear friend and was encouraged to once again read one of my favorite devotionals. I enjoy having them in different places around the house and reading throughout the day. This year I have been faithfully reading through Streams In the Desert. It's been so good and encouraging each time I read it. So, this morning I picked up "A Very Present Help" by Amy Carmichael. I read the first entry and though I have read this devotional a few times over the past 15 yrs or so it was like I was reading it for the first time all over again. There is something to be said for how God's Word ministers to your heart exactly where you are. It's been a really rough past 6 months or so. As many of you already know, my back is a complete mess. It's been deteriorating for years, but this past Spring's visit to the states revealed just how bad it is. Without God intervening or surgery the doctor said I probably won't be able to walk very well in a year. So you can be praying that we find a good surgeon here and we will have perfect peace because it is extremely scary to me to have a surgery-especially in a country where I am not fluent in the language!
The entry today 'God will not fail you during the Winter season of your life'. The scripture for the devotion is Lamentations 3:19-33. I encourage you to read this portion of scripture! It's a great reminder not only for ourselves, but to remember to share with others as they go through struggles.
If you would indulge me as I write down this illustration from Amy:
You were like a leafy bush, and many little things came for you to shelter. You were not great or important, but you could help those little things.
And it was the joy of your life to help them.
Now you can do nothing at all.
Some desolation—illness, monetary loss, or something you cannot talk about to anyone, a trouble no one seems to understand—has overwhelmed you. All your green leaves have gone.
Now you cannot shelter even the least little bird. You are like a bush, with its bare twigs. No use to anyone.
That is what you think.
But look again at this bare bush. Look at the delicate tracery of its shadow lines on the snow. The sun is shining behind the bush and so every little twig is helping to make something that is very beautiful. Perhaps other eyes, that you do not see, are looking on it too, wondering what can be made of sun and snow and poor bare twigs…
The spring will come again, for after winter there is always spring.
But when will the spring come? When will your bush be green with leaves again? When will the little birds you love come back to you? I do not know. Only I know that the sun and snow are working together for good. And the day will come when the memory of helplessness and inability to give help to anyone else, or the memory of hard financial times, of loneliness, loss, or isolation—these will all pass as a dream in the night. All that seemed lost will be restored.
Now, in the midst of so much unhappiness, engulfing your heart in cold, let these words seep down—like fingers of sunlight, like trickles of first-spring rains—to refresh your inmost soul: He will not fail you, who is the God of the sun and the snow. Amy Carmichael Figures of the True
I find it comforting that when we lack the ability to put into words what we are going through, God has gifted someone else to pen these thoughts. And to know that had they not gone through pain and suffering they would not have been able to express in such a way the very thoughts that are racing throughout your very own mind.
How often I have felt like that barren bush these past months. The one who was always on the go, full of energy, wanting to do this and that, go here and there. Years ago I was one of the best runners in our school and now I have trouble just walking for more than a couple of hours. I don't think anyone likes to feel useless in life. The beginning paragraph so wonderfully depicts my thoughts of late.
All the years we lived in Hungary and how many of the women would come to me for help and how much joy there was in being a part of their lives and watching them grown in their walk with the Lord. To see their eyes uncovered and experience the love of their Savior they never thought possible.
And now, I feel like that barren bush-with no leaves that are flourishing upon it. Nothing to show for its existence. It is just there. I picture this barren bush in a field and there are no other bushes around it to help it stand and the winds come gusting forth and blow and try to topple it over. Not just one storm, but storm after storm trying to knock it down until twig by twig it is broken into little pieces. The bush is trying to hang in there and wait for Spring, but Spring doesn't seem to come fast enough. There are hints of Spring and the hopes are high and then another storm comes and with that another twig falls to the wayside.
To read the words "When will the Spring come? I do not know....I only know that sun and snow are working together for good" Wow, just wow!! We always want answers, at least I always want them. I want to know when, I want to know why, I want to know how....but the truth of the matter is that we don't always know but God knows and He is indeed working all things together for good-even when I don't see it, even when I don't believe it-He is!
God has given me a task and I have put it off for quite some time. I started it and put it aside for lack of motivation. Today I realized that I need to be diligent in picking it up again. He's allowed this season of my life for a purpose and I want to believe that He will use it. You can be praying I will complete writing the devotional I once started. In September, when Terri and Carol were here, the Lord gave me the title "A Gentle Transformation".
No matter what any of us are going through-whether it is physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, whatever it is...He has promised that He will not fail us.
Though He brings grief, He will show compassion,
So great is His unfailing love.
For He does not willingly bring affliction
Or grief to anyone. Lamentations 3:33