Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pasture Maker?

The last several days have been difficult. For different reasons I have been battling depression and haven't felt like communicating with anyone, not even family.  It's something I struggle with anyway and take meds for, but this has been something extra.

If you've battled it yourself, you know what it's like to feel like you're in a dark hole, you can see the light above you, but you can't seem to get out.  What you'd really like is to turn over and go back to sleep - for a very long time.   Well enough of that not-so-pretty picture.

Some heart-to-hearts with the Lord, some good talks with my husband, some scripture, rest, a good friends' well-chosen words - Christ has used all of these to bring me back to a brighter place.

It's another instance of His being my "Pasture Maker."  In case you've wondered why I chose this name for my blog, there are multiple reasons.  The term was first brought to my attention in a song by Nicole Nordeman called, "I Am."  She sings about different phases in her life and what she called God at those times, according to her understanding, and the ways He met her deepest needs.

At one point, she calls Him "Pasture Maker."  Then I was reminded of Psalm 23 which I learned as a child but never really appreciated the verse that says, "He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul."  Then Jesus says of Himself in John 10:9, "I am the Door. If anyone enters by me, he (she) will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture." Then there is the song I quoted in an earlier blog that starts out with, "In shady green pastures so rich and so sweet, God leads His dear children along."

All of these mean so much to me at this point in my life.  While He has always been my Shepherd, in these days I am keenly aware of fighting spiritual, physical, and mental and emotional battles, only to find myself very tired and limping back to Him once again.  When those times come, I have a sense of being in His pasture.  The gates around me are strong, keeping out harm and holding me in. I find rest, nourishment, and the love and care of my Shepherd. I don't have to understand what's going on out there or even within my own soul. I just rest my mind and body and know He is there, embracing me and protecting me.  Reminds me (I know - again!) of a phrase in another old favorite hymn,  
The protection of His child and treasure 
Is a charge that on Himself He laid; 
"As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure," 
This the pledge to me He made.

Dear Jesus, tender Shepherd, One who knows me inside and out, behind and before, my Redeemer, I love You, trust You, and lie down in Your green pasture tonight.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

It's Relative

By now you know that I love the old hymns - the messages they convey about God and His truth in Jesus Christ. This week I was mulling over the words to one of my favorites, which the choir that I play for is singing in the morning. The chorus of "God Leads Us Along" says

"Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood.
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song
In the night season and all the day long."

A dear friend lost her daughter this week. This vibrant, godly 36-year old mother of 6-under-the-age-of-9, a lover of Christ, and a deacon's wife, quite unexpectedly went to be with Jesus in her sleep on Thursday night or early Friday morning. It wasn't unexpected with God, but it has left a grieving husband, parents, children, and church family in Louisville.

Wow. Of all the difficulties we might face in this "vale of tears," I can imagine none more deep than this kind of dark waters. Losing a child? I would rather have a dozen illnesses than to lose my daughter or son, or grandchild, or to have them suffer great pain or loss. My trials seems nothing compared to theirs. I find myself asking God - please don't ever call me to go through that unimaginable pain and sorrow. And yet I know that He gives grace for every trial, as He is giving in mine. O Lord, be ever near them. Carry them as You carry me.

And so tonight, as I lay my head down on my pillow, my prayer is not for myself but for the friends I love who are grieving deeply. I bow to His sovereignty in all things, and simply say, "Thank-you for life, for breath, and each new day you may give me."

Being held,


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Treasures of Darkness

God has directed me, through some things I have been reading, to Is. 45:3.  It has captured my thoughts and I want to know more of it.

"I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches from secret places. so that you may know that I, Yahweh, the God of Israel, call you by your name."

Sometimes when I am at a new level of darkness (for me this means learning that my disease has progressed or having to come face-to-face again with the fact that I really am seriously ill), I am left with nothing to hold on to. My sinful self wants to hold on to hope, which I don't have at that moment, hold on to my husband, who cannot really do anything about my disease, hold on to my other family members, who also cannot improve my physical condition, hold on to food, to music-making, which will be hampered if this disease begins to affect my fingers, etc.  But these are all shifting and fallible - like quicksand.

So, as you can see, God pulls all these props out from under me, and puts me in a place of darkness where there is literally NOTHING I can rely on or stand on - except Him.  I want something else, but He gives me Himself. He reminds me of His love for me, that He calls me by my name - knows ME intimately - and He leads me back to that pasture of His love and comfort.

I find treasures in the darkness, and riches in secret places.  He takes me to places I have not been before, where it's dark, but then He shows me that HE is there.  And there is a sweetness that is hard to describe.

"Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know.
Fills my every longing, keeps me singing as I go."

The treasures and the riches I find are things I would not have otherwise known, had He not put me in these places.

Yes - I would have it differently if I could. But He knows exactly what is good for me, in the perfect time, in the perfect way - His time and His way.

Oh, precious Lord Jesus, keep showing me more of Yourself. I love You but my love is so weak and so cold compared to what You are worthy of.  Please continue to mold and shape my heart into what it should be.  Whatever methods You choose to use, I submit to Your wisdom, not always willingly, but it is ultimately what I want.

"When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand."

Monday, October 3, 2016

Eye-opening weekend

I know that scleroderma is affecting my muscles, but Sunday was an unusually weak day for me.  Thankfully, there is no pain associated with it. Jesus was sweetly near during worship, and my family is so accommodating and helpful.  Thank-you, God, for a lightweight wheelchair ( a gift from a dear friend) and people graciously and patiently willing to push me around!

I have been restless in my soul and not able to figure out what I was restless about.  God directed my thoughts to my yearnings for food.  For several months I have been subconsciously looking forward to the next time I would be able to eat, and basing my happiness around that.  Wow.  Is that idolatry or what!  "Comfort food" - He wants me to get my comfort from Him, and He is ready and willing to give it when I seek it. 

The over-indulgence in food is also making its presence known in my wardrobe.  = (
Think Sonny & Cher's old song, "And the Beat Goes On," and substitute the words "And the weight goes on." 

So He is tenderly showing me more of the unChristlikeness deep in my heart.  This is painful but the end result is peace, because when He takes something away He replaces it with a new and deeper knowledge of Himself. And if He doesn't show it to me, I won't turn away from it and turn toward Him.

Hebrews 12:11 says, "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

So Jesus and I walk on, hand in hand ("Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold my right hand." Ps. 73:23) down this path where only He can see what's around the next bend. I'm glad I cannot see it because I would balk at it and question my Lord's wisdom.  This way I have only to hold on to Him and know it will all be good.

"Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him,
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus,
O for grace to trust Him more."

Sunday, October 2, 2016


New at this blogging thing, but I want to use this medium to log my journey through an illness for which there is no cure.  I want to share my honest thoughts, feelings, struggles, lessons learned, amazements, and wonder at God's doings.

For now, suffice it to say thank-you for reading and sharing this journey with me.  I do not know the paths it will take me down, but I do know where it will eventually lead - HOME!!   = )   ~ Joy~