What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Post Surgery Thoughts

So, I’ve had both surgeries now and can see better without any glasses. The surgeries were uneventful and routine according to the doctor. However, they were not routine for me and, since I’ll never need the surgeries again, will never become routine for me. I’m glad that the doctor did not have any problems or complications to deal with. I’m glad I did not move or wiggle at the wrong moments. I’m glad that I’m now on the road to recovery and am able to see, with the help of reading glasses, enough to get back on the computer and write.
However, I’m not totally without disappointment. At the one-day-post-op appointment the doctor gave me some news – bad news to me. I will need glasses once the adjustment period for my eyes is up. The lenses they put in my eyes did not totally correct the distance vision so I will need glasses, just as I was getting used to looking at my face without glasses on. This is disappointing to me. It will probably be back to the bifocal thing since I can’t read without any glasses on.
Again, there’s a “however.” However, God was ultimately in charge. This is the way He worked out the details. I need to accept that this is God’s will for my life (and my vision). It calls into question my willingness to believe that God is in control. Am I totally convinced about God’s omniscience, omnipotence, love, mercy, grace, etc. Or do I just profess a faith that is surface deep and not part of my inner being. I think at times like this – when believing with my head is so difficult because things didn’t turn out the way I planned – I have to rely upon my heart. What does my heart really believe?
When I ask that question, I’m brought back to the time in my life when I did not know Jesus in a personal way. Life was so much worse and I had so little to hope in. Over time the joy of first meeting Christ has waned and surged many times. Right now I’m in a waning stage, but if challenged, I still know and believe the Truth. My hope and faith will surge again sometime. History has proved that.
So even without the perfect, as I see perfect, outcome to my surgeries, deep in my inner being, I recognize that this is somehow God’s perfect outcome. I wait expectantly for God to reveal to me why this was His perfect will.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Trusting God in Scary Situations

This week I had cataract surgery on my left eye. I’m writing this a week early because I don’t know what condition I will be in sight-wise after the surgery. The doctor and the nurses tell me I will be able to see better pretty much as soon as they take the patch off my eye the day after surgery. Other people I know who have had the procedure also say I will be able to see right away and I will notice a big difference. However, I wanted to have this blog article ready to post for June 18th just in case.
So why did I title this blog “Trusting God in Scary Situations?” It is primarily because I’m able to come up with the worse case scenarios so easily. It makes the anticipation of the surgeries (I’m having the right eye done the next week) a frightening proposition. It is a scary situation to me because of the worse case scenarios I come up with. Yet, am I to believe the experts and trust them to do everything right without any reassurances? No. My reassurance comes from trusting that God ultimately has all things in control. He knows I rely on my eyes to write, to read, to do Bible study, to see my family, etc. If, for some divine purpose, my vision is not made better, I can trust that God has a plan in that also. I can trust God because He knows the plans He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11).
There’s only one problem to all that positive thinking: I’m depressed and I find it hard to notice the way God is working in and around my life. That also makes the surgeries scary situations. Everything seems scary right now. That’s how it normally is when I’m depressed. I go through each day worrying about my kids, my husband, any traveling I have to do, any thoughts I might have that are not the trusting God kind of thoughts, worrying about when/if this mood will ever lift (without ending up in a mania again), etc. So what do I do? I rely on friends and family to remind me of God’s grace. However, they are not always aware that I need those reminders (I hide how I’m feeling most of the time pretty well; although today, Mike husband asked me what was wrong, but I couldn’t answer him because all my worries, when they come out of my mouth, seem so trivial).
So today I’m listening for an encouraging word – maybe even from The Word. Does anyone have some for me? Maybe by the time you read this my first surgery will have gone so well, that I will already be encouraged. I’ll let you know.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Summer Time

So this week marks the beginning of summer break for my husband and one of my daughters (the other daughter has been on break since the end of April). Things change around the house when they are all here and not off at school bright and early in the morning. For one thing, nobody is getting up at 5:30 a.m. and are often in my way when I want to get around for the day (at about 7:00 a.m.). Also, with everyone sleeping in (sometimes to 8:00 a.m.) it makes it harder for me to get up in a timely manner.
It’s only been a few days and I feel totally off schedule. I almost forgot to write this blog article. It took me until 10:30 a.m. to start my morning routine. That could make me mad – at myself, at the other people in my way, at the situation. However, today I recognize that there were some divine appointments to be kept. Divine appointments are those things that come up in the day that weren’t planned by me, but are very important to deal with in a timely manner. For instance, one of the reasons I didn’t get started with my morning routine things (Quiet Time, Praise, Prayer, and writing my best friend) is because my 21 year old daughter was up early and we watched a little TV together and talked a little about our plans for the day. That’s important to do every once in a while. It was a divine appointment because in talking to my daughter, I gained ideas on things to pray for her in my daily prayer time. And watching TV was just a bonding time of sorts.
I feel out of sorts because it took me until 3:45 p.m. to send a note to my best friend – something that’s usually done well before 10:00 a.m. However, I was able to write about some situations and things that came up today, that she will pray about, which I wouldn’t have been able to share if I’d written earlier in the day. So all those interruptions to my day allowed me to share more deeply and from my heart with one of the people I know will be praying for my family and me. That only came about because of the divine appointments that came up earlier in the day. I could look at those appointments as interruptions to my day (which is what I tend to do), or I can acknowledge God’s divine appointments and trust that God will give me the moments necessary to do the other, ordinary important things in my days.
I don’t like being flexible and accepting of the “interruptions” in my day. I really struggle with this. However, if I remember that God has a plan for me and His plan is for my welfare and not for calamity, I can look at each day as an adventure. I’m going to try to do that as much as I can for the rest of the summer.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Thoughts on Galatians 2:15-16

For Bible study, I’m studying the book of Galatians. I’m using two books to help me with this. The first one is a NavPress Lifechange Series study guide and the second is a book that contains the sermons a Messianic Pastor, D. Thomas Lancaster, gave to his congregation. The second book, simply called Galatians, has given me some unexpected insights based on the history and beliefs of the Jewish people Paul was writing to.
One such passage that needed clarification was Galatians 2:15 – 16 which says,
We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. [NIV]
Lancaster says that we need to understand the definitions of three of the terms used in this passage if we truly want to understand what Paul was saying. Paul was not condemning Jews or “Gentile sinners.” He was trying to make a point and in order to understand the point Paul was trying to make we need to understand the definitions of Justification, Works of the Law, and Faith in Jesus Christ. Lancaster says that the following definitions should be used when reading this passage:
·      Justification: A legal verdict of exoneration (the opposite of condemnation) issued by a court of law or by God’s court of law.
·      Works of the law: The commandments of the Torah that identify a person as Jewish.
·      Faith in Jesus Christ: The faithfulness of Jesus Christ.
So we can reread Galatians 2:15 – 16 inserting these new definitions in (indicated by brackets) in the following way:
We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that [whether Jewish or Gentile] a person is not [legally exonerated] by [the commandments of Torah that identify a person as Jewish] but through [the faithfulness of] Jesus Christ, so we [Jewish believers] also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be [legally exonerated] by the [faithfulness of Jesus Christ] and not by [the commandments of the Torah that identify a person as Jewish], because by [the commandments of Torah that identify a person as Jewish] no one will be [legally exonerated].
            To me this says that the Jewish believers (don’t forget that the first believers were all Jewish and many of them followed the commandments of the Torah that identified them as Jewish – including Paul) were trying to force the Gentile believers to follow those same commands even though they were not Jewish. Paul said that was wrong because no one had ever (or would ever) be legally exonerated by the commandments of the Torah that identified a person as Jewish. Notice: Paul does not say people (whether Jewish or Gentile) should NOT follow any of the Torah, but that the Gentile believers should not be forced into following the things in the Torah that were meant to signify and identify the Jewish people as God’s chosen people.
Notice also how Lancaster changes “faith in Christ” to the “faithfulness of Christ.” That’s important in this conversation about how one is legally exonerated in God’s eyes. It has nothing to do with our faith in Christ (which would be some kind of “work”). It is all because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ apart from anything we do or don’t do, that we are saved.
Lancaster summarizes his view of this passage (where Paul is rebuking Peter) in the following way:
. . . Paul merely asked Peter, “Why would you require the Gentiles to take on the commandments of Torah that define a person as Jewish when even we Jews who keep those commandments know full well that those commandments do not exonerate us.”
This simply means for me as a Gentile that I do not have to follow the part of the law that was meant to identify the Jews (circumcision, dietary laws, etc.) It does not prohibit me from doing so (or for those of Jewish ancestry from doing so). It just means that following those guidelines will not exonerate/justify me or anyone else. It’s all by the faithfulness of Christ. That is a relief to me. I do not, as a Gentile, have to follow the guidelines. It can also be a challenge for those believers of Jewish ancestry to follow those laws that show they are Jewish (as Paul and Peter and many of the Jewish believers did throughout their lives).