Aside from some of the other things I dabble in, I also run a Facebook page supporting awareness of childhood cancers. When I saw this post today it set me back and made me truly reflect on my own faith and inner strength. At the end of the day I can turn off my computer and retreat to the den. Or I can go crawl into bed and leave reality. But the daily struggles that parents of children with cancers face is their reality. This post was very humbling. I invite you to read her story, then visit and “LIKE” their Facebook page, Pray for Grey – The Journey Continues
I’ve stepped away from this page for a while, searching my own heart, seeking God and trying to make sense of life in general. I am human, I am weak and my faith falters at times. It has always been my desire to keep this page positive, uplifting, encouraging and hope filled… but in doing so, I sometimes wonder if I have created a false view of who I am as a person and as a mother to a child with such huge health challenges.
Our life is filled with ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses, rejoicing and heartache, trust and fear… It is a roller coaster ride of emotions that one cannot fully understand until they have walked this road themselves. Faith is built up and torn down, sometimes prayers seem to fade into the distance and silence seems to be their answer.
It is amazing how loud and overwhelming silence can be when that silence seems to be coming from the God in whom we believe and trust. Have you been there? Have you ever felt that God had walked away for a while… taken a stroll when you needed Him most? Have you ever looked up and asked, “Where are You and what on earth are You doing?”
When we find ourselves drowning in adversity or overwhelmed with heartache and brokenness, it is human nature to desire… no… to demand answers as to our sufferings.
When it comes to heartache and suffering there is no greater example than the man, Job. He had everything… God’s blessings had been upon him and he prospered immensely. But one day events unraveled and all that Job had was taken from him; all of his possessions, all of his livestock, all of his servants, all of his children… and then, even his own health. In his suffering, his friends accused him of wrong doing and turned away from him.
Who would have blamed Job for crying out in anger against the God that he had loved and served? After all… what kind of loving God would allow such heartache to fall upon one who had served Him so devoutly?
How many times I have heard this question posed… “What kind of God”… or “Where is God when…” It is Satan’s snare to trip us when we are weakened emotionally and spiritually… when life has beaten us down and we find ourselves worn and completely overwhelmed and we are at our most vulnerable… It is then that the enemy attacks and places doubts and questions in our minds and hearts.
This snare trapped Job’s wife. In the book of Job, chapter 2 and verse 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” I can imagine that Satan was never so close to a smile than at that moment as he leaned in to hear Job’s reply, confident that Job would fall to his wife’s words and his current circumstances. Everything hung on Job’s reply to his wife.
Job’s reply is both magnificent and astounding. Job 2:10 records Job’s words… “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks”.
I’m certain that is not the reply she was expecting. How magnificent and inspiring that even in all of his misery and brokenness, as he sat there covered in sores not knowing if his life would ever change, Job stood firm and even posed a question back to his wife. “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity”?
Isn’t that our way? Every single day there are blessings in our lives. Some are huge and we cannot deny them, others must be sought out, but they are there. But how easily we accept those blessings, and even feel entitled to them or we credit ourselves for their existence… but the very second something doesn’t go our way we begin the blame game with God.
“Why? Why me? I live a good life; I go to church, tithe, I give to the poor, feed the hungry, care for sick children, help the elderly, and protect the animals; donate to a worthy cause… I’m a good person… I don’t deserve this!
But Job acknowledged that he served a God who had every right to do whatever He wanted to do, to allow whatever He needed to allow without obligation of explanation. Notice… I said ALLOW. I do not believe God to be the author of pain and suffering… these things come from Satan, but they are ALLOWED into our lives to shape us, mold us, grow us, restore us and even break us for the glory of God. God has no obligation to step into a hospital room and say, “Now let me offer you five reasons why this has happened to your son.” God is full of compassion and His heart breaks with ours as we face adversities, but His plan is beyond our comprehension.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”. Isaiah 55:8-9
So we say, with Job, “God… I trust you. I don’t begin to know why I am going through this. But You see me, You know me, You know this hurt and Your heart breaks with mine. If I must walk this road, if there is something that I can learn, reveal it to me. If there is something someone else can learn, help me be what they need even in my brokenness. Lord, I give this to You, just get me through it. Hold me close. Deepen me. Change me and restore me”.
Job knew God was God, and that someday all that was mystery would be revealed. When we leave this life for eternity and we step into God’s presence… for the first time we will be given the panoramic view… We will see from beginning to end and then (and not until then) we will respond, “So THAT’S the reason! Now I get it!”
God is totally and completely and absolutely in control.
If you lose every single member of your family, He is in control.
If your marriage crumbles and you find yourself alone, He is in control.
If you finances crash and lead you into bankruptcy, He is in control.
If the test results are not what you had prayed for and things could not be worse, God is in control.
There is a greater plan behind it all. One day, that plan will be revealed and we will see beyond the pain and suffering and find purpose. How absolutely amazing and magnificent to see those who choose to trust Him to the very end of this vale of suffering saying;
“May His name be praised… I don’t understand it. I can’t explain it. Nevertheless, may His name be praised.”
May God enable us to raise our faith to such heights.
Covered in grace,
“But who are we to tell God how to run his affairs? He’s dealing with matters that are way over our heads.”
Although baffled by the reasons for his suffering, Job affirmed God’s superior understanding by asking, “Who can teach God a lesson?” The way you respond to your personal struggles shows your attitude toward God. Rather than becoming angry with God, continue to trust him, no matter what the circumstances might be. Although it is sometimes difficult, God IS in control! We must commit ourselves to him so we will not resent his timing.
Recently I have been leading a small group at my home through the connection groups of New Walk Church in Zephyrhills Florida. We are doing a study by Louie Giglio called, “The Air I Breathe – Worship As A Way Of Life”. Although we are only a few weeks into it I have to tell you that it has sparked some remarkable conversation about what Worship really is and why we should do it.
I have spent the last ten years or so involved in Worship teams at multiple churches. I was part of a choir, then a contemporary vocal team. I filled in when the choir director wasn’t available on Sunday to lead the congregation in hymns (which was interesting). Then I moved on to a fully contemporary church where I participated as a musician and vocalist. Following that I took over as the Worship leader for about 16 months. Afterwards I stayed on as a team leader when they hired a full-time Worship leader. And when he left, I took back over those responsibilities for over a year again. Finally, after struggling with the direction of the church, and my desire to provide relevant and meaningful Worship to the almighty God, I left.
Now here I am at New Walk. It is a remarkable church that is reaching the community for Christ in a mighty way. If you just stop right there then all would be right with the world. But the reality is no church is without its issues and problems. At no place where human beings are in play will you find perfection. You can throw that out the window when the door gets unlocked on Sunday. There’s a “human” in the house. Problems are not unique.
Psalm 96:4-6 (Amplified Bible)
4For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He is to be reverently feared and worshiped above all [so-called] gods.
5For all the gods of the nations are [lifeless] idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
6Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.
Being a Worshiper and seeking Worship on new levels will really open your eyes to your surroundings in a church environment. There are so many people who find the time of Worship so unimportant that it actually gives them an extra 20 minutes to get to church because they don’t mind missing it. Heck, the head of our Administrative team at my last church was rarely ever in the sanctuary to hear the announcements or anything. Last guy in. Even at New Walk, people are up walking around, and going in and out of the room while the pastor is delivering the message. People, please go to the bathroom before you leave home for church! It’s a distraction and down right disrespectful to the pastor, and the congregation trying to listen.
And then there are Worship teams. This is not a jab at any team in particular, but just a general observation about Worship teams that I have watched, participated in regularly, or have done fill-in work for. For the most part I feel the majority of churches do their best to put God-loving service minded Christians in place to lead their congregation. However, some choose to hire players to get a more professional sound. Sometimes that works, and sometimes not. Yes, the band may play better, but they probably aren’t Worshiping better. As a matter a fact, if they didn’t get in from playing the club until 3:30 – 4:00am then they probably are not even giving you their best musical effort.
The same goes for vocalist. Speaking of which, I feel like vocal teams are the most anal position on a Worship team. I have seen so many of them focused on getting the exact part and pitch that they forgot the most important thing, “Worship”. This is not a choir or chorus, it is a band. You need to sing from your soul, find the groove, WORSHIP!
When vocal teams truly Worship, the congregation Worships with them. I don’t mean sounding good. I mean Worshiping. You see, if God is going to use your team to reach someone for the Kingdom, the mechanics aren’t in play. It is the witnessing of authentic Worship to the Lord our God that will set those people free. God will use that time of Worship not only as an offering of love to him, but also to bring others close to him. It is not an expression of perfection, but excellence; Worshiping God to the best of your ability.
I have heard many Worship leaders say that Sunday is the one day they just can’t Worship. Why? So much to do. So many things to worry about. But I challenge that. If a Worship leader cannot Worship on the one day a week he is given the task of leading others in Worship, he may need to look for another way to serve. Finding that place where you can turn all those Sunday morning issues over to God is vital to the Worship in your church. Without it, you may was well play the radio or show a video. It will be just about as natural. You see, it’s not about playing the top 5 songs on Christian radio, or blowing the windows out with volume, it’s about taking your congregation to a place where they can find God through authentic Worship.
Singer/Songwriter/Recording Artist Paul Baloche once said that it’s not the music, it’s the message. You can take a verse of scripture, put a melody to it, and that will be as pleasing to God as anything else we could sing. After all, it’s God’s word. Why wouldn’t that be pleasing to him?
I could go on forever, but to do so would mean a book, and that very well could be forthcoming. But I invite other Worship leaders to chime in and join this conversation with me. Not only Worship leaders, but Worshipers. It is the most important thing we can do for our spiritual walk.
Over a month ago now I was laid off by my employer of 13 years. It was actually a strange turn of events that led to it, but none the less I have tried to make good use of the time off and take comfort in knowing God is in control.
About two weeks ago today I interviewed for a job with one of my former competitors. They did everything but place the job in my lap. Yet today, I still am not officially employed by them. I was told today that they were 95% sure we would be good to go by Monday. Huh?
What they don’t realize is that I am good either way. God has filled me with a peace that passes all understanding. I have had very little worry or concern since the day I lost my job because I know God has something amazing in store for me.
It’s interesting that this weekend I will be ministering to the congregation of our church about “Why Bad Things Happen”. With the past month under my belt I can tell you that God does use all things for good.