Musings on Personally Perceived Strangeness of this Christmas Season

Many things are on my heart and mind and it is all in general very connected. We are at the time designated to celebrate God’s birth, His incarnation. The focus is on family and sharing love through gifts and fellowship. For me this time, this season is strange. Currently am moving in and out of feeling my own pain and connecting with the pain of those around me. Currently my brother and his family is in town. It is uplifting to spend time with them, knowing that they have come through a tough time with the death of my sister-in-laws mother from breast cancer and their issues with dealing with her father. They also are caring for their son, Anant, who embodies a joyful creativity even at four going on five years old. All this is rather normal. Here are the things that have gone to make this season strange.

If you are a follower of this blog you know that the central portion of the strangeness is the health of Janie Blake. When Cancer returned a few years ago, she reported having a word from God, “you shall live and not die.” Then she went on to engage the battle and appeared clear of cancer cells, only to have them reform to the point where her very life is in jeopardy. It was a shock hearing the news back in mid-October and even more shocking the rapid degradation of her health. Today is first I have seen her since stopping by to help the clean in preparation for her brother’s visit. The sight was heart breaking. For I really appreciate how God has used Janie in my life and the life of those I love. Yet, what God’s sees is even beyond what I see. He knows His will and His plan. He is always faithful to what He promises our job is to surrender no matter how things look. It means letting go of our will for His. He can heal. He can restore. He is the one that makes all things new. We submit to Him alone. I really want Janie around, but that is up to God alone. There is life here and greater life in His presence.

Janie’s health is not the only aspect of the strangeness of this year. There is my mother’s ongoing vision loss and going through a process of learning. She deals each day with great pain and loss while focusing on learning how to function without depending on vision. My mother has endured and survived through a lot of suffering in her lifetime. Now she faces this challenge. Yet, I know God is using this to strengthen her and use her in the lives of others. He has given her special moments one of which will eventually share on this blog, as it likely connects to all that has been going on. Now, my mom’s vision loss is nothing new. It has been ongoing. But it is one more dynamic to the strangeness of this year.

Now not all that is going on is dealing with health and illness. For my wife has been going through and interview process for a potential promotion to service manager. My wife really does posses natural talents that would make her a great manager. Her prayer has been for those interviewing her to see what God wants them to see in her. Her heart she simply wants whomever they promote to be someone that will build and strengthen the team. We know it is in God’s hands and the promotion would be a great blessing to us. As I am writing this, in my mind the elevation of Daniel standing out over all others in Babylon would fit, if that is God’s will for Liz. We simply await the answer, hoping one thing but surrendering to whatever the outcome.

In my own life, still am working through matters of reluctance and holding self back. Yet, my workload is increasing and there are things on the horizon, yet many obstacles still stand with my-self being one of the obstacles. There is the ongoing question as get busier whether I can take on more or how can I find ways to improve all together. There are lessons learned as always in this process. The key principle to all here is coming back to surrender. There is much we cannot see in terms of what is ahead. Some like my mother have to learn to operate without sight. My stepmother appears quickly headed to death. My brother and his family already faced loss, may face more, are loving and building up their adopted child who is God has made as one who is joyfully creative in the midst.

So it is a strange season, this year. There is hope of seeing God give blessings and doing amazing things. There is the need to move beyond the visible. Ultimately, it is surrender to God regardless of the outcomes, walking not by our sight, but depending on Him alone. For He alone is the Rock. He alone is our safety. By Him alone to we stay or go. By Him alone do we rise or fall. He is the one who gives life or takes it. Yes, our choices and actions play a role we can walk His path and walk his way or go our own. One leads to life, one to death. God allows us our choices and then simply calls for surrender and walk the way He leads even if it seems impossible. There will be barriers from inside and outside. We want to make everything about us, but it is always about God and His glory and purpose which ultimately is to show and reflect His love in pain, in sorrow, in struggle, in fear, in reluctance, in anger, in pain, in joy, in blessing, in hope and so on which is all in His life in us.

Prayer request update: Janie Blake- Cancer battle continues

Yesterday received some sad news.  Previously reported that my step-mother Janie Blake was cancer free.  She had battled breast cancer that had metastasized to liver and the last remnant were spots on brain. So since June of 2009, the battle against Cancer appeared to be over. Yet, there was trouble unseen.  She had a recent scan with the expectation from all of us that the results would come back that she has remained cancer free. However, her last scan did not come back with those results.  Instead she was informed she has small spots returning in her liver and brain.  So the battle against Cancer renews.  This like all the suffering and battles in life is hard to understand.  God giving victory only to have the battle return anew.  What is even more confounding is that her energy had been returning and they were well on way to putting time into establishing and moving forward with a ministry Servants of Christ.  Yet, now the cancer cells have returned.  Here is a truth that remains, God is God and we are not. He is in control. His ways are not our ways.  The pain and suffering we encounter in this life are but temporary and help serve to shape us more into God’s image.  The battle continues.  There are real threats. Threats to health. Threats to truth. Threats to the Gospel. There is ongoing and enduring pain.  So the question is, in these battles where is the focus.  Do we bow under the tyranny of suffering and simply hold on to get by to another day ordo we enter into the fellowship of suffering and embrace the battle. The battles with the suffering in this life and in this case a raging pestilence that seeks to consume and destroy serve to give us deeper connection to Jesus and what he suffered.  There are two verses that have come to mind that highlight the fellowship of suffering that is a move beyond surviving under the tyranny of suffering to embracing the fellowship.

Romans 8:16-18 (ESV) The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. I consider that out present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

 

Phillipians 3:10 (KJV) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

So, please keep Janie Blake in your prayers.  God still has the victory.  The prayers that come to my heart and mind are to pray for clarity, wisdom, and understanding particularly in reference to how God is calling them in this time.  Pray for God to give clarity of vision and strength for the battle.  Previously the word from God has been that this battle is not unto death. Janie’s time has not been yet called to the end, that she is to face and enter into the battle that comes in the fellowship of suffering not just for herself and in her own life but in the lives of others.  And this battle is one that serves to lead and establish further what that call and ministry is and will be.  Perhaps what Dad and Janie envisioned and thought what there call and ministry will look like is different.  Whatever the difference is between what they saw and what God will do through them, God difference is greater.  For he gives us out of his exceeding abundance so that He may be glorified and that me may grasp an inkling of the enormity of His love.   And part of moving from living under the tyranny of suffering into embracing the fellowship of suffering is accepting and knowing that what we face and endure in relation to suffering gives us an new opportunity to grow and experience God’s love.  And ultimately, whatever twists and turns unfold in the path ahead, the end result is God’s glory.

So please take time to seek God and pray over this situation.  Then take time to reflect and pray in relation to your own life. What stress and suffering are you under?  Is your stress and pain in your life something to be endured as a tyrant or is there an embracing the fellowship of the pain that can open eyes to recognize more profoundly the awesomeness of God?  Please feel free to share any ongoing requests in your own life or thoughts related to suffering in your own life.