From a dear sister in Christ–Autumn
From a dear sister in Christ–Autumn
It was a long time ago. But I can still remember.
My parents and brother were gone from home. Watching the house and the dog, I must have been 20 something years old when the NEWS crushed my world and called my whole existence into question.
Earlier that year, my family had been shocked by the murder of my cousin’s baby girl. She was not even one year old, found outside of the house, and drowned in a ditch.
Babies like that don’t get up and walk outside while her parents are taking an 8 minute stroll, walking the dog together. It should have been perfectly safe for 8 minutes alone in her perfectly safe crib inside her perfectly safe house. Instead, someone came in, took her outside, dropped her in a ditch, and left her to die.
It had shocked our family.
Shortly after the girl had died, Jack helped me find a way to understand that perhaps her story on earth was fulfilled. Perhaps there were things God saw in her future we could not yet see, but God thought it better for her to come Home to Him. She would rest in His peace.
The biggest shock came a few weeks later. I was alone at the house when I heard the news. The woman who was supposedly responsible for the murder of my cousin’s baby was being set free by
the Justice Department because of lack of evidence. She was known to be ‘confused’ and there was a pretty clear vision of what had happened that night, but not all of it could be proven. So she was set free.
Hearing that news sent my head spinning and my heart crying out!
HOW?! How could this be? How could this young life end and this woman not pay for it? What kind of justice is that? What kind of
God would let someone get away with something as unforgivable as this!!?
My anger demanded some kind of punishment, some kind of justice, some kind of sign that God was Watching this! and Judging! DOING something!!!
To hear of this woman being set free, was just one shock too many for my fragile faith. This was not the God I had believed in for so long as a child. Not the righteous, just, and honest God who punishes the wrong and loves the right. If HE could not do something about this, who could?
I felt the ground fall from beneath me. I was lost! It felt as if God had abandoned me. If He were not around, then what had I been believing in?
Perhaps my parents and brother were right after all, and it was all just stories that they told children in school. To my family, it was a mystery how I had kept believing in the stories from the Bible I heard in school. They did not believe there was a God, and I was feeling like my certainty, my childlike trust in this God I had heard about, may have been a mistake indeed!
I needed not call my family to talk about this. They would have answered “God is not real.” But I was not ready to accept that kind of an answer.
That evening, I had to show up for duty at the local radio station. I was to be technical assistance for a few program makers and then spent the last 2 hours playing non-stop music until the airtime was over.
I rode my bike over to the studio and tried my best to get through the first two hours without too much talking.
The second program maker left the studio, the board meeting had finished up early as well, and the station manager dropped by the studio to let me know that I would be the one to close up the studio for the night. I closed the door behind them, making sure I would not be surprised by anyone coming in that had no business being there.
And started playing songs. Just random stuff I pulled out of the cd boxes next to me. And while I did, I could feel my questions just keep on whirling around in my head.
WHY?!! Why would she be allowed to walk free when my cousin and his family would have to live the rest of their lives with this loss?
While closing up, wandering about in that old house built in 1875,that we used for a studio, I found myself crying.
Angry tears. And then whispering. Angry whispers. Talking. Urgently talking. Shouting. Screaming. Yelling. Angry words. Angry questions. Questioning God out loud. Telling Him how angry I was, how unjust He had been. How much He had let me down! How furious I was!
And then, after a while… how sad I was, how confused and afraid I was, how lost I felt, thinking about a world without Him. But also how difficult it was for me to still believe that He was still true, still around… if He would let stuff like this happen.
Ain’t it funny, how you can tell whether someone is listening or not? How you can tell the difference between someone listening to you or reading the newspaper, while hidden behind that newspaper…?
Alone, in the last room that was still lit, I sat down on the floor and realized that He had been listening. All the time. To my yelling. To my whispering, my shouting, my screaming, my questions, my doubt and my fear.
And that it was all right. But it was not. NOT enough. It was NOT alright! My stubborn mind needed proof! Because I had believed Him there before hadn’t I? In spite of what my family said, I had believed God was there!
And yet, He could not be. Because why would He let this woman walk free. How COULD He?!?
So if there really was a plan for this, if He really had this covered, and most of all, if He wanted me to believe that He was real, He was going to have to show me. And I told Him, it had to be rather obvious, because I was really not gonna go ahead and fall for “just anything” this time.
I sat there and waited, but nothing happened. Nothing. Well, beside the clock ticking on and the building getting colder from the heater being automatically turned off…
So I got up and finished the closing up. Numb and sore from my outbursts, I put on the alarm after cleaning up the last dishes, and locked the door. I turned around on the steps to the front door, to walk to my bike. The same steps I had stood on, so many nights before this one, doing the exact same thing.
And this time, I looked up and saw it. A HUGE star. Glittering like a diamond, almost as if saying
And all the way home on my bike, that big glittering star was shining ahead of me. It seemed to be there every turn I made, every corner I took. Staring me right in the eye. Right until I arrived home.
My sign from God that He is here. Everywhere. If I care to look.
I felt peace knowing that He would listen to me, and even answer my cry, however futile I may be in this huge world. That I mattered enough to Him to have that star shine brightly for me.
Now that I had proof, I had 2 choices. I could go insane trying to hold on to my control, my ideas of what justice is and what should happen.
Or I could give it up. Give up trying to understand what His reasons might be. Surrender my need to know, my need to understand, and trust in Him. No longer question Him, or His presence.
And that is what I did. I surrendered to Him. I didn’t have to understand anymore. I just had to believe. Trust. And surrender.
Sounds so simple, don’t it? It does when I write it down now. But that was only the first time I have surrendered to God. Because control is hard to give up. My need to understand is strong. I am proud enough to think I know a lot and curious enough to want to learn more. But to give up that pride, that need to know, need to understand… is one of the things that I have had to keep on doing on a conscious level or I would slip right back in to my questioning.
One thing I have not questioned like this anymore, ever, is whether God is real or not. Since that day, I have been sure of it. I have been talking to Him, although I hardly ever visit a church, although my family still has no idea why I am so certain of God. He has been there on so many occasions, if only I put my ego aside and care to listen to what He wants from me. Through relationship trouble, addictions, re-organizations at work, and depression, I have seen Him there. I have felt His Hand on my back, felt His Arms around me, felt Him listening, guiding me.
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another Italian sonnet
A Seasonal Sonnet
“It came to pass…” eternal Scriptures read.
Once mist-air-dust, then mud with breath combined
Becomes a form that now can feel and bleed
To dust a trail that choices leave behind.
The frozen branch that’s leaf-forsaken, still,
Though dormant through obstinate seasons, waits
With life protected, hidden in the Root,
And beauty sleeping, quiet ‘neath the chill
In hope, will bud again on springtime dates
To be rewarded with a harvest fruit,
That is the Seed where life is introduced
With love and song and laughter to be loosed.
A fruitfulness in winter is absurd,
So faithfulness near death is then preferred.
Barriers to Freedom
Deception vs. Truth (study 1 John 1: 5– 2: 2)
Are you aware that you have been believing any lies concerning life, yourself, others, etc.? _________
Are you aware of any of the following self-deceptions?
___Denial of reality
___Attempts to identify self as someone else
___Attempt to retreat to earlier stage of life
___Venting feelings on people weaker than those who hurt you
Are you given to defending yourself by any of the following?
___Covering up your weaknesses by overdoing your strengths ___Blaming others for your own problems
___Rationalization to justify yourself
Bitterness vs. Forgiveness (study Ephesians 4: 31– 32)
Ask God to bring to mind every relationship in which you have feelings of resentment or bitterness (including God), and list them. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________
Ask God to reveal to you every person who needs to forgive you, and list them. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Rebellion vs. Submission (study Romans 13: 1– 5)
Examine yourself with regard to any rebelliousness in relation to each of the following.
Notice that each passage promises a blessing for a submissive response.
Pride vs. Humility (study James 4: 6– 10)
Examine yourself to see if you are consciously or unconsciously seeking your will more than God’s. Record any thoughts that come to you in this regard. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Bondage vs. Freedom (study Galatians 5: 1)
Examine yourself in the light of the following passages:
Romans 1: 24– 31
1 Corinthians 6: 9– 11
Galatians 5: 19– 21
Revelation 21: 8; 22: 15
Record any thoughts that come to your mind in this regard. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Taken from Two Hours to Freedom by Charles H. Kraft Chosen Books, a Division of Baker Publishing Group Grand Rapids, Michigan (Pages 157, 158).
God Still Heals! My Testimony.
In early 2011, I began to have serious spine problems with bone spurs all up & down my spine (was shown this in x-rays). Having jobs for decades where I had to stand several hours per day, I was fully convinced that the bone spurs were caused or contributed greatly to by this. In March of that year, I had serious problems where my spine was pulled straight by my pelvic bone, causing pain like I had never experienced in my life! (I felt like I was plugged into 220 volts during the 10-20 second episodes!).
During the worst week, paramedics were called who finally got me off the floor. With my loving, supportive wife praying like crazy, I decided one night to REALLY cry out to God.
I knew I could not live like that for the rest of my life and did not have any insurance to cover surgeries (& did not want surgery even if I could have it).
That night I set an empty chair by the couch I was on praying and literally praying and believing that Jesus would come during the night and sit on the chair and talk to me and heal me. It was an amazing night of prayer and I know God heard my cries!
The next day or the day after, I went back to my Chiropractor walking in like a normal person. The previous visit I had to use a big umbrella like a cane & walked like a 100 year old man!
They did new x-rays that I saw with my own eyes and still remember the 2 doctors standing in the doorway looking at me and going “wow…wow”. They wanted to know if someone at my church had prayed for me (they had).
The before & after X-rays looked like 2 totally different people. Another chiropractor in New Mexico who heard my story & viewed the X-rays said that basically God did an adjustment on me!
I pray that someone who is reading this who possibly has given up hope or you may think that something like this can’t happen to you would reconsider that perhaps this may be the time for God to show His greatest power in your life.
My favorite verse is the part in Jeremiah 32:27 that says “..Is there ANYTHING too hard for the Lord?”
Why not set apart a special time and place to meet with God alone in His presence (read Ps 34:15).
I know from personal experience (“the man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with just an argument!”) that God can heal anything-our hearts, our bodies, our relationships, our spirits & even our finances.
Nothing shall be impossible to those who believe. Jesus said
“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, ALL things are possible to him that believeth.” Mark 9:23
For more details, the before and after X-rays etc. http://dcgraphicsandvideo.com/march_2011/
“That’s not your stomach hurting, it’s your liver!” my local Doctor said to me examining my abdomen about a belly-ache that had been bothering me a couple weeks. It never seemed to let up. It hurt when I went to bed , it hurt during the night, and it hurt when I woke up. About a constant #4 pain. I was getting very tired of trying to treat it with the customary jello and mashed potatoes limitations. Buttermilk and crackers, cokes of whatever flavor; none of it helped.
My Mom had told me years before that I always had a “nervous stomach” and it had bothered me most of my life. I had been treating for acid reflux and it seemed to help until THIS episode.
The new blood tests showed the liver enzymes at 3 times the normal limit and my pancreas was acting up too. No meds available to fix this. Ugh! “Liver” and “Pancreas” are not words you want to hear when you get results back from blood tests. And the PAIN. No relief from the PAIN in sight.
Of course, I ran to God with it. I had already been praying but I prayed some more. I remembered a Bible teacher named Bill Gothard had taught that bitterness can directly affect the liver, so I began to search my heart and the Bible about bitterness that I might still be carrying. I listened to sermons I could find, reviewed old notes, and read a book that received great reviews called Total Forgiveness by R. T. Kendall. As I began to seek God further, God uncovered a bunch of junk that I had glossed over.
Reliving the memories of those hurts and those who hurt me was painful, but the liver pain drove me on. I had hope that as I repented, with God helping me forgive, the physical pain would subside too.
Forgiving is not easy. Releasing people from penalty of the guilt without them even apologizing or acknowledging they hurt me forced me to totally lose control of the situation. As long as I held them captive as guilty prisoners in my heart, I could take them out and scream at them, even slap them around in my mind when I wanted. (Please recognize that if you are in a dangerous situation that threatens your welfare or your children you don’t have to stay there, but you will have to forgive.)
Dr. Kendall’s book helped me to realize that I not only had to release them, but to bless them. Not only forgive them, but to actually pray for them to do well AND do something nice for them if I get the opportunity. Jesus said ” do what is good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. ” With the command, comes the ability by grace to obey. So I began the process. Daily.
Every time those faces would come into my memory, I had to forgive and bless them. Every. Time. The memories eventually went away, but I still have to forgive and bless when they come to mind.
The abdominal pain was still there, but I had hope. Life without the bitterness was better and I had some new joy too.
To be continued…..