The Purifying Fires of Suffering in Your Story

I am fortunate to be digging into a thorough study of the book of Revelation with some incredibly amazing women.

We’re examining the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3 right now, and one of the commentaries I’m referencing is by John F. Walvoord.

Walvoord’s quote about the suffering church of Smyrna really got me thinking about the challenges I’ve gone through.

What about your own sufferings? What about your own choices, words, actions and deeds in your agony? What about the story being written about your next steps?

We all have a story.
We all have sufferings. 
We all have an opportunity to have our story be used for a greater purpose.

In time and when you are ready, be encouraged to let your story burn brilliantly like a lamp on a stand.

Someone out there needs to see the Light.


Advertisements

Making Choices of Value


Our choices, our words, our actions and our deeds have the ability to impact others for the positive or for the negative. What is done in the world WILL be of the world, but what is done in the Spirit WILL have everlasting value.


I wrote the words above in 2012, during a period of time when there was a lot of darkness surrounding me in the challenges I was experiencing in life. I wasn’t alone, yet I was. I had a lot of uncertainty in my next steps, yet certainty filled me. Life was falling apart, yet pieces were being moved into place.

I’ve written about the ideas of choices/words/actions/deeds on this site, too, and if you’d like to read further, you can do so by searching choices in the search bar on the home page of Hope Surrendered, or you can click here, here, here or even here. [There are other writings, but if you’re still clicking on those re-direct links, you’ll find them.]

So today…six years later, as I read the words I wrote during that dark time, I can see how much has changed in me. 

A lot.
But not much.

Weird, I know, but if you’ve been through your own “stuff” (and who hasn’t?), you understand how a lot can change, yet still find yourself dealing with much of the same.


None of us is perfect—we all fall short, yet our imperfections, our real-ness, our challenges and our choices can be worked for so much good…the kind of in-the-Spirit goodness that truly does have everlasting value.

Looking back over the last six years since penning those words, I can ponder and pray about the women I’ve met, the stories I’ve listened to, the insights I’ve shared, and the treasures which have been tucked away as the result of wise choices, words, actions and deeds done and made in the Spirit. Many of these memories make me smile because of the relationships that have resulted, yet they also serve as a reminder of how broken we all are. It’s brokenness that has often been the result of un-wise choices…choices which are of the world.

Let me encourage you to keep making wise choices, and when you aren’t sure what the wise choice is, pause and pray. Then wait, standing ready to choose when wisdom comes.

The choices you make,
the words you use,
the actions you take,
and the deeds you do
can have an everlasting value.


I welcome your thoughts about this subject and the difficulties we face in making wise choices and ones which have everlasting value … especially when the world around us isn’t or doesn’t see the need. Please feel free to share below!


 

Enjoying the Moment & Missing the Pic

A coyote emerged from the woods this morning—right from where we send the dog to poo—and then he played in the snow for about 10 minutes, running, leaping and doing a prancy-pounce thing.

I didn’t take a picture of him. I just wanted to watch him, as eerie as it was to have a coyote visible in the daylight. [Those if you who have coyotes around know that they are more often heard at night than seen in the day.]

I didn’t take a picture of him.

Does anyone else feel like we spend too much time instagramming our lives instead of enjoying the moments in the moment? I felt the temptation this morning, but didn’t give in. I just wanted to watch him, not photograph him.

 


 

Finding Trust (Because I Quit My Job)

IMG-1062

Trust is a weighty thing. It’s a two-way street in our relationships with others, but when it comes to God, it’s a one-way street. We don’t need Him to trust us, but we do need to trust Him.

Today is a new day, and it’s a first step into the days ahead. That’s the case for all of us each and every day. But today, it’s quite magnified for me.

I’ve taken some steps toward changes in my life—leaps of faith, as I see them—to move away from circumstances that didn’t honor God or me, but now I’ve moved into the unknown as a result of my choices.

I quit my job.

I gave my notice a few weeks ago, and yesterday was my last day. I don’t have another job yet, but I felt as though staying at that one had become something I could not continue to do. My husband has lovingly supported my decision, as he’s repeated to me that I “haven’t quit or retreated from anything,” but that I’ve chosen to “advance in a different direction.”  


My husband’s words of encouragement are extracted from Oliver Prince Smith—a decorated, four-star general and retired Korean War veteran—to encourage me: “Retreat, hell! We’re not retreating, we’re just advancing in a different direction.” My husband has repeatedly repeated the shortened version to me as I wrestled through making the decision about my job, and he reminded me of these words again last evening after I finished my last day in the office.


I’ve been wrestling with trusting God in my next steps. Today was a new day in the wrestling match of trusting Him.

My study time this morning took me into a lesson about time…and about how He knows the plans He has for us…and about how the plans He has ordained for us have already been written. Then I decided to read through Psalm 138 and 139.

My husband’s Bible was beside me in our library room, so I grabbed it and flipped to where Psalms would be found. The page I turned to quickly and randomly had a verse circled:

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”

My husband had written “burden” above “cares.”

No coincidence.
None of it.
It’s yet another God-incidence.

When this morning’s Bible study turned out to be about time, I smiled a bit and said a few “Oh, of course it is!” thoughts under my breath. Those of you who know me well have heard me talk about the importance of trusting God’s timing, but I always throw in a “…but He’s so slow!” comment about my own experiences.

But this!…here’s another God-incidence in a lickety-split moment, found as I was moving into the next course of study. I needed to stop to write my thoughts (that you are reading), because I knew Psalm 138 and 139 were going to keep His reminders coming.

He knows the burden and worries I have been carrying. He knows why I needed to leave my job. He knows why I have struggled to trust Him in these next steps. He knows I need to feel His strength and His love and His confidence and His “I’ve got this,” especially today—on this new day into the rest of my days.


Oh, Lord. I thank you for your presence in my life. You are full of such mercy, grace, love…and hope! I am working on trusting you…on surrendering my wondering hopes to you…on having expectant hopes, instead. Thank you for your patience with me. 


Burger Saturday—It’s about a Burger and a Prayer!

Most of us think nothing of having a burger. We can zip through any drive-thru window, order a burger, devour it, and we can do it almost anytime we’d like to do so.

Saturdays have become burger days in our household.
They are a reminder of hope.

…might sound silly…
until you know the background.

At “The Hut,” burgers are served on Saturday. When you’ve spent a few months or years in a place where you don’t get to choose what food you get to eat, burgers on Saturdays are something to look forward to.

When he came home, it meant a lot for him to be able to choose to eat a burger on a Saturday. It was a way of remembering where he’d been, those he left behind, and the fortunes of being able to choose what’s for lunch.

“Do you mind that we eat burgers on Saturdays?” he asked me the other day.

“Not at all. I enjoy sharing burgers with you.” I told him.

We don’t eat them every Saturday, but we’ve had a lot of burgers on Saturdays over the last five months.

He prays for them while he’s grilling the burgers—for those who are still there…for those looking forward to their thin, dried hockey puck with a razor-thin slice of tomato and a paper-thin ring of onion (except for every 5th Saturday—for some reason, the tomato and onion aren’t on The Hut’s menu once every five weeks).

I still see it in him after every first bite of a burger…
I see him savor that bite as he takes a long time to chew it.

Sometimes, there’s such a long pause.
Sometimes, there’s a quiver of the lip.
Sometimes, he quickly wipes away a tear from the corner of his eye.

I don’t think he realizes that I watch him take that first bite, but I do, because I will never forget the day he took that first bite of burger on the first Saturday after he came home. Never.

You just can’t forget something like that.

He enjoys his tomato, his onion, the mustard, ketchup and mayo…
He sometimes tops it with avocado, or bacon, and a creamy slice of real cheese…

He enjoys his burgers, and it makes me realize—yet again—how much his life has changed over the last few months. Every bit of time we get to spend together is a blessing to me. I’ve learned so much from him about appreciating the little things.

To Clyde, Dave, and so many of the others…
We think of you when we eat our burgers.
Today was Burger Saturday, and we prayed for you today.