The Hole in My Soul

Folks in my current age bracket grew up in a society where God was mostly recognized and honored; we had a healthy respect for Him, even in homes where He was not regularly worshipped. Our home was like that. As kids, my siblings and I went to summer Vacation Bible Schools. We did the yearly Easter visit—mostly to show off our new clothes. Sometimes we did the Christmas visit, especially to the annual Love Feast at the Moravian church around the bend. Other than that, we didn’t do church. The habit of our household was to sleep in late on Sundays.

But inside of me, in the very center of my being, I knew there had to be more than that. I had this terrible, lonely—almost suffocating–emptiness that couldn’t be filled with records or clothes or anything that I thought I just had to have. I remember hearing BJ Thomas sing, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and knew I’d never live another week if I didn’t have that record. So, I bought it. I listened to that song over and over for about two weeks. And then, I found something else I needed if I were to live through the next week.

Nothing lasted.

I was left at the end of each quest still searching for that one thing that would permanently fill my soul. Looking back, I see that this was more than just teenage angst; it was a burning desire placed inside of me by a Holy God to know Him and embrace His son Jesus as my Savior.

It wasn’t as if I hadn’t searched for God. I remember that as a child I would lie in the grass and look at the clouds and all the beauty around me, and I just knew Someone big had made all that. I just didn’t realize how personal that “Someone” could become in a life.

In the summer of 1972, just after I graduated high school, a friend told me about Jesus. I was in a time of crisis, and when this friend shared Jesus, it was literally as if the light turned on inside of me. Indeed, it had, because when I heard about Jesus, I understood beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was the only thing that would fill my empty, lonely soul. Once I understood that Jesus was the answer to all my need and that only He could take away the sin and anguish I felt, I asked Him to be my Savior and take control of my life. That is exactly what He did; and in the days that followed making that decision, I knew that I’d never need anything else to fill that gaping hole. The Holy Spirit moved in and sealed every crevice of my fractured life and brought me hope.

If you know anything of my life after Jesus, you know that it hasn’t been a smooth ride. That’s another story for another time. What I want you to understand is that God has never left me alone. The peace of Jesus still guards my soul. The Holy Spirit still moves and guides as I navigate the challenges of this world.

His love amazes me. Before I was born, He loved me. Before anyone told me about God and His Son–and by His design–my heart was already searching for Him. He has filled the empty places.

He can do the same for you. Jesus really is the answer. He’s not promising that you won’t experience difficulties—He did, after all. What Jesus promises is that He will never leave you, never forsake you. He is what makes each day better, no matter the circumstances of our lives. I pray you have trusted Him for the salvation and peace only He can offer, and if you have not, I pray you will.

Victory!

On Sunday, November 22, 2020, Dave had his final proton beam treatment for prostate cancer. The doctor assured him he was leaving the Center prostate cancer free, and on his way out the door for his last time, he rang the Victory Bell to signal his recovery. Because we can’t see it with our eyes, have faith in the words of the expert that there is no more cancer. Praise be to God!

What can’t you see? What is happening in your life that requires you to exercise your faith? We believe by faith the words of a doctor who is an expert in his field even though our eyes can’t see it, so what is keeping us from trusting in the Sovereign God, the ultimate expert? If God says it will be, then it will be. If God tells us to keep trusting, even though the road ahead is pitch black, we can believe Him to keep us in the middle of that road.

We don’t know God’s timetable for the answers to our challenges, but we know God; by faith, we must move forward. 

Life disappoints, people disappoint, our worlds might suffer hit after hit. No fun. At. All. It’s okay to cry for the disappointments and mourn the losses. Jesus cried. Just remember to surround your life and your prayers with faith. Dry your eyes, move forward, and show the world what trusting in a faithful God looks like.

 

Thought for the Day

Maybe you had this idea that you were going to show the world how to raise the perfect family, have the perfect life, live a blissful Christian existence. Then real life got involved, and many of your dreams went south. Blow after blow knocked you in the teeth, leaving you reeling in shock that things didn’t work out the way they “should” have because you are a Christian.

Maybe God had a different idea.

Maybe God’s plan is to show the world how He raises HIS children to respond to the blows of life.

Want to be a witness to the goodness of God? Stand firm in your faith, NO MATTER WHAT. Life isn’t “fair,” but God is ever present, no matter the storm. And the world needs to see that.

Every Christian Has a Story to Tell

At the bottom of a devotional from Our Daily Bread, I came across a interesting tidbit of information about influencing our particular audience, and it caused me to consider who it is I am trying reach with my story of Jesus. Of course, I’d like to reach everybody. I guess social media is a good platform for that sort of thing. But I also have a specific audience I’d like to reach with my personal life story. I began working on that story several months ago, and I was encouraged by this message to keep moving forward in that pursuit.

I’m not an expert, but I do have a story to tell that might help folks who were hurt by their past. Mine is not going to be tell-all type of story; instead, it’s going to be a witness to the sovereignty and protection of God through some pretty tumultuous years and how God was always with me–He never left my side–even when I didn’t know much at all about Him. 

What is your story? How might it benefit the world around you?

God gave us our stories so that we could share them as a witness to His goodness.

We should tell them.

From today’s devotion at Our Daily Bread:
“SCRIPTURE INSIGHT – Each of the gospel writers, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had a definite plan for how to tell the story of Jesus. Each had a different audience and wanted to reach that audience in the most accessible way (emphasis mine). In writing to a primarily Jewish audience, Matthew builds his witness around five major teaching blocks, beginning with the Sermon on the Mount (chs. 5-7) and ending with the Olivet Discourse (chs. 24-25), with three others in between (chs. 10, 13, 18). Some scholars suggest this would have resonated with a Jewish audience because the five discourses of Jesus would parallel the five books of Moses (Torah) and the five sections into which the psalms are divided. Additionally, Matthew relies heavily on the Old Testament Scriptures, quoting them around fifty times and alluding to them another seventy-five times.” -Bill Crowder (this devotion was printed at www.odb.org)

Final Thoughts on Cancer–Maybe (The Cancer Journals)

I’ve shared about Dave’s cancer a couple of times now, but I have some leftover thoughts I’d like to purge. Writing them down seems to be the best way to do that.

When Dave was first diagnosed with cancer, I must be honest and say that I didn’t handle it well at all. Having watched my mother and my brother both die from cancer, the mental pictures that filled my thoughts and devoured hours on end were just terrifying. My insides felt like jelly, and I couldn’t think of much else but the fact that my husband, the man I love forever, had cancer.

According to his doctor, he had two different cancers in his prostate. One was the kind that many men contract and which doctors just watch for years, because of its slow growth–the kind of cancer doctors say men might die with but they won’t die from. The second kind of cancer was labelled aggressive and lethal. You can understand why that would cause anxiety, right? Aggressive. Lethal. Those words beat like a constant drum in my mind. And the pace at which we were going about finding the right treatment to get rid of that cancer seemed to move as slowly as molasses.

I always thought I was strong. I always thought I could handle anything that came my way, that I’d be the bastion of non-wavering faith when the “big” challenge struck. I was none of those things. I was weak, scared, and felt as if my liquid insides wouldn’t hold the weight of me if I stood for long. I couldn’t sleep; and every time I did stand from my chair, I found the kitchen, and whatever was edible, I ate it. Pathetic.

But God.

It didn’t happen immediately, but it did happen. God sent friends to me, reminding me that God was totally in control. And they didn’t stop reminding me. I’m thankful for their constancy, because it eventually registered in my muddled brain and shook me awake from my stupor. Family and friends prayed for us, faithful folks that kept us in their minds constantly. We received cards, phone calls, texts, and emails full of concern and promise. And ALL of them shared the same message: “God was not surprised by this; God is in control; God loves you; God will be your strength.”

And He was. He is.

Dear friends and family, thank you for reminding us that we are not alone. Thank you for bearing me up in my weakness and trusting that I’d eventually recover my senses. Thank you for not being disappointed by my first responses.

I momentarily lost my direction and acted as one without faith. BUT—with the word of God being my lifeline each morning, His promises shining through the letters written by men with human frailties, and through the unwavering love and support of God’s people I don’t feel so “liquid” inside anymore.  

Having experienced a bit of a setback in his treatments, Dave is currently in a holding pattern. Hackers, it appears, have struck at the medical world and taken computer systems hostage across the nation. This has put Dave’s treatments on hold, and whereas he should have completed 13 treatments to this date, he has completed only ten. But God. God is in control. He is in every moment of every day. He knows that not only Dave, but thousands of folks are not receiving the care they need. He isn’t surprised, and one day He will take care of the evil in this world. Until He does that, I cling to this: “I will lift my eyes to the mountains; where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.” (Psalm 121:1-3)

I am not strong. But God is.