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Through All Of It

A dear friend recently turned me on to the song “Through All Of It”, performed by Colton Dixon.

Sometimes the lyrics or melody of a song hit you right in the gut.  In this song, both of them do for me.

Here are the lyrics:

[Verse 1]
There are days I’ve taken more than I can give
And there are choices that I made
That I wouldn’t make again
I’ve had my share of laughter
Of tears and troubled times
This is has been the story of my life

[Chorus]
I have won
And I have lost
I got it right sometimes
But sometimes I did not
Life’s been a journey
I’ve seen joy, I’ve seen regret
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it

[Verse 2]
You were there when it all came down on me
When I was blinded by my fear
And I struggled to believe
But in those unclear moments
You were the one keeping me strong
This is how my story’s always gone

[Chorus]
I have won
And I have lost
I got it right sometimes
But sometimes I did not
Life’s been a journey
I’ve seen joy, I’ve seen regret
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it
Through all of it

[Bridge]
And this is who You are
More constant than the stars up in the sky
All these years of our lives, I
I look back and I see You
Right now I still do
And I’m always going to

I have won
And I have lost
I got it right sometimes
But sometimes I did not
Life’s been a journey
I’ve seen joy
I’ve seen regret
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it

http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/c/colton_dixon/through_all_of_it.html

I can relate to almost every word in this song, as I assume most of you can also.  The second verse really gets to me, especially given all that we’ve journeyed through these last four-and-a-half years, “when it all came down on [us]” and “[we] struggled to believe”.  God was there, and continues to be, through all of it.

Through the pain of intentionally bad choices and unintentional disaster, my God has been present in my life.  I could always feel Him, faithfully and patiently waiting for me.

I hope that you can experience Him today, no matter what mountaintop or valley you may be in.  He has demonstrated His love for you through His Son Jesus.  God loves you, through all the circumstances of your life.  Be encouraged…

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2015 in Spiritual and Emotional

 

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You are not alone

Some people very close to us are going through a very difficult time.  When we heard this song today, we could not stop thinking about and groaning for them.

This song is for them/you.  Please remember that you are not alone.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Mat 28:18-20, emphasis mine)

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2015 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

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Faith

This past week I listened to someone preach through Hebrews 11, the “faith” chapter of the Bible.  I began to think about what faith really is and looks like.  I thought that I could write a post about faith, Hebrews 11, the faith “hall of fame”, and so on.  But as I recently laid down and had a few moments to meditate, the thought came that I should write about what faith means to me.

First of all, how do I define faith?  Well, let me use the Biblical definition:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb 11:1)

If I could put this into my own words, I would say that faith is my conviction to trust God’s promises, that I have a future hope better than this world, which hope I cannot see at this present time.  I can understand that there are things invisible through observing the things that are visible.  I understand that there is a Creator by observing the things that are created.

My faith comes from believing that God’s Word is true and that He demonstrated His love for me by sending Jesus Christ to take the penalty for my sins in his flesh.  Through believing in His Son, I receive the Holy Spirit of God, who helps me and strengthens my faith.  Through believing that, on God’s accounts, I am now crucified and raised with Christ, I now have guaranteed eternal life and victory over sin.

As I read through Hebrews 11, I see many great Biblical “heroes” who demonstrated great acts of faith.  I read about Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the Israelites, Rahab, and so forth.  I read that people subdued kingdoms, stopped the mouths of lions, escaped peril, received ones back from the dead, and more.  But then I read that others were tortured, mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, cut in half, tempted, killed, or were nomads.  The Scripture says that the world was not worthy of this later group and that they did not receive the promise of their faith during their lifetime on earth.  However, they, along with us, will receive something better from God.

Faith is not just mountaintop experiences, although such experiences are wonderful.  Faith is also walking, well faithfully, though the valleys of life and still trusting God’s promises even when we cannot see.  In Scripture, I don’t see the faith that some of these preachers on television and the radio speak about.  I don’t see God instructing us to speak the word and believe without wavering to get a new car, house, job, or money, money, money.  I once heard someone say that the world will be drawn to God when they see how he causes us to prosper.  I could understand the point trying to be made, but wouldn’t unbelievers also consider God when they see someone trusting Him when their world is falling apart around them and they have a worldly reason not to trust Him?  I’m not saying that the only way to point people to God is through suffering, and believe me I am not going about looking for more, but I want us to consider what would really make a lasting testimony of God’s grace and faithfulness in someone’s life.

My faith in God has caused me trust Him even while in the darkest valley of my life.  Faith has helped me to realize that God knows what is best for me at all times, even when evil happens to me.  He can turn that evil around to work good in me, if I don’t fight against Him.  Faith has led me to trust God at a deeper level and to set my eyes more on the unseen than the seen.  OK, that part is not always true because there are days when what I see pulls at me to indulge in…well whatever.  But through faith in believing God’s Word that says I am crucified with Christ and dead to sin, I can overcome the temptation and press on towards Christ and my promises awaiting in Heaven.  If I do stumble, I also read that even the great “heroes” of the faith stumbled at times, but God was merciful to them and he is also merciful to me.

So, what is faith?  Is it believing that God will give us our wants, or that He provides us with all of our needs?  What is our greatest need?  Is it not to have His forgiveness and mercy?  I believe that is my greatest need.  Through faith, I believe that all of my sins are forgiven and I am completely righteous in God’s eyes, not because I feel like it (because I don’t) but because God says so.

I don’t believe that faith can be stagnant.  I heard someone say that faith is not like a pond but is like a river.  We can’t rely on a one-time faith experience, but should exercise it daily to keep it vibrant and growing.

Blessings,

Andy

 

 

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Bent Over, Broken, and Uprooted

IMG_20140714_193107

Last week, a severe thunderstorm swept through our valley.  The storm came quickly and its fierceness was unexpected.  The wind was strong and the rain was heavy.  After the storm, we assessed the damage.  Several trees in the neighborhood were either bent over, broken, or uprooted.

Bent over

Bent over

Broken

Broken

Uprooted (well, almost - but bear with me!)

Uprooted (well, almost – but bear with me!)

Such are the storms of life.  Sometimes, an unexpected tragedy hits us out of nowhere.  Spiritually speaking, the storm can either leave us bent over, broken, or uprooted.

  • Bent Over – We are doubled over in emotional pain and spiritual exhaustion.  We can barely stand on our own two feet and need to lean upon someone or something to get us through.  We may even be on our hands and knees.  Hopefully, when we are in this posture, we turn our hearts in prayer to our Heavenly Father who loves us.
  • Broken – We are more than bent over but not quite uprooted.  Something in our midst was weak that allowed the storm to break us in pieces.   A bit of us is still standing, but our shape is marred.  Further pruning may be required to salvage the remaining stump and encourage new growth.
  • Uprooted – Our roots were not strong or deep enough to allow us to withstand through the storm.  Our life’s foundation has been totally destroyed.  What is left of us can only be cut up and burned in the fire.  We must plant new life and allow it to grow.

This analogy has caused me to think about my own spiritual walk and how the storm of Isaac’s death has affected my life.  I don’t think I was uprooted because my spiritual roots were in Jesus Christ and they still are.  I was more than bent over, which left me feeling broken.  I still feel as through some of my broken pieces need to be cleaned up, even as new growth has sprouted out of my remaining “stump”.  Lord, will you help me to feel whole again?

If you have experienced an intense storm in your life, in which of these three positions has it left you?

Blessings,

Andy

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2014 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

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The Lord Gives, the Lord Takes Away

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. (Job 1:20-22)

You may have read or heard about the recent storms and tornadoes that swept through areas of Arkansas. Below is a link to an article about families who experienced loss from those storms. Having a loose connection to the FamilyLife ministry, and because children were involved, we are especially touched by this tragedy.

The Lord Gives, the Lord Takes Away#.U2IiRIXy3zN

 

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Not So Poor and Powerless…

Today we are re-blogging this post from Holy Ghost Bumps. We could relate to so much that Guy writes about and were greatly encouraged to be faithful to our Lord. May you be richly blessed as you read these words today.

Holy Ghost Bumps

Hand-to-HeavenA dear friend of mine shared this story with me recently, and I thought that I should share it with you here.  The story was in a totally different context than in the spiritual realm, but something he said opened the door for this post.  He said that I’m sure that you (meaning me) can find a way to relate this to the bible and your walk with Christ.  He was right.

He was raised in a poor household, in much the same way I was.  His father, though, gave him the tools that he needed to build a better life for himself.  They weren’t physical tools, mind you.  They were tools designed to help you persevere through life’s trials and difficulties.  Two of which were frugality and pride.  The frugality helped him to purchase his own lawnmower that he used to make money with as a young boy.  The…

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Posted by on October 22, 2013 in Grief, Spiritual and Emotional

 

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Almost Two Years

calendarToday is Sunday, March 24.  Next Sunday we will celebrate Easter/Resurrection Day.  Then we will turn the calendar over to April.  The date stares me in the face – the eighteenth.  18th.  18.  One-eight.  That combination of numbers used to intimidate me; however now they are no longer as daunting.  I remember when I used to expect every 18th.  Now, months can go by without noticing that another 18th has passed.

It hardly seems possible that over 23 months have passed from the day our lives changed forever – Monday, April 18, 2011.  That year, it was the Monday before Easter/Resurrection Day.  That day, our son Isaac suddenly passed on into the presence of Jesus.  Now, as we remember the death, burial, and resurrection of the Son of God, we also remember the death and burial of our son Isaac’s body and promotion of his spirit into Heaven.

What has happened over these months and years?

The darkness and the fog of the first months and year have lifted.  We don’t feel as heavy in spirit as often as we used to, as reflected in my early writings.  We’ve experienced joy, happiness, and peace.  We’ve also experienced anguish, sorrow, and regret.  We’ve experienced healing and relief through sharing our journey with others and receiving encouragement from others.  We’ve smiled and cried when someone shared a memory of Isaac (and those tears are healing and full of gratitude – so please continue to share!).  Though we live with continued confidence in our Savior and the goodness of God, we still have a painful scar deep in our heart.

This experience has resulted in us being known in our local community.  If we’re not careful, we can feel self-conscious in public as we imagine who may know us as “that family who lost a son”.  Positively, our experience has opened doors to relate with others that may never have been opened any other way.  We’ve been able to interact intimately with other parents who have “lost” children and other mourners.  We’ve been able to witness to God’s faithfulness through the darkest of days, even when it seemed that He had abandoned us.  We’ve tried to comfort others with the same comfort that we received.  When we don’t know what to say, we’ve learned that our presence, a hug or a firm handshake, and/or providing for some material need can speak more than any words could have at the moment.

Personally, we are being tested to go deeper and be more honest in our spiritual walk with God.  Our hearts have become more tender, especially towards others.  We’ve reexamined our lives, wondering if God was seeking retribution for some past sin.  Instead, we’ve comprehended more deeply the price that Jesus fully paid for us through his suffering both before and on the cross.  The punishment for every sin that we would ever commit (past, present, and future) was laid on Him.  I don’t see where Isaac’s death was God’s way of “getting us back”.  Do we not realize that we all die at some time?  We are all in need of repentance towards and faith in Christ.  We are not God and therefore cannot understand all of His ways.  We continue to believe that there are greater purposes in Isaac’s “untimely” death.  We are experiencing some of these purposes now in how our relationships with others have grown deeper and richer.  We expect that we will perhaps see more of these purposes, if not on this earth, then when we enter into Heaven.   Don’t get me wrong – I would rather selfishly have Isaac here with us than go through this pain of separation.  But I am content knowing that I will see him again someday – all praise and glory to Jesus Christ for that truth!

Some days are very challenging and difficult for me.  I find it hard to handle some of the trials and challenges of everyday life.  I have to remind myself that I am constantly serving God, even as I go to work.  There is no area of my life that God is not interested in.  He wants me to be a loving husband and father.  He also wants me to be a faithful and diligent employee.  I know that God will not give me more than I can handle, but these past two years have been very difficult.  When will I learn to stop trying to handle things on my own and completely rely on His strength?

Overall, we have learned to take this grieving process slowly.  One area that we are being deliberately slow is in addressing Isaac’s belongings.  Although we have passed on a few items, we still have a closet full of memories that we have not yet addressed.  We expect that, when the time seems right, we will decide what to do with Isaac’s creations and earthly possessions.  For now, we will keep them tucked away behind the closed door.

So, as April approaches and Spring begins to show its signs here in snowy Central PA, we can also feel the budding of the season of Spring in our hearts.  The long, cold winter seems to be behind us and our new lives are beginning to shine with renewed hope.  Lord, please help us to walk in the beauty and newness of Spring in our hearts day-by-day.

Blessings,

Andy

 

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