January 17, 2009

January 17–Commanding Strength and Courage

God’s Word often challenges us right to our very core. God calls us to trust and obey Him when the circumstances around us seem absolutely overwhelming. Out of God’s love for us, He demands our trust. It is our only way for peace. We must remember: God never asks us to do anything without Him. The LORD our God is with us wherever we go. 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Personal Reflections from Sylane                                                                            I lost it. I totally lost it. I was okay right until that moment. God had held me together through His amazing and powerful grip on my spirit, on my mind and on my words for over the past week. I had been able to share my faith openly and honestly with my family–who usually didn’t want to hear about Jesus. Not again. Not from me.

May 1981. Dewitte, my just-turned-24-year-old brother, was dead. There would first be all kinds of logistical issues–and another funeral service–down in Maryland where Dewitte’s girlfriend and 18 month old daughter lived. And where he had died. But Dewitte would be buried in our hometown cemetery in upstate NY.

My precious husband Tim was traveling when I first found out that Dewitte had died. And during that week before our own family gathered for Dewitte’s funeral, I stayed at my own home in Rochester, NY–alone. God used that time powerfully.

My mom, my dad, my sister and my (now only 2) brothers–who were either not-yet-believers in Jesus OR had great wonderings about, or wanderings away from, the Lord at that time–each called me. Privately. I was the Christian in the family. So they called me. They had deep, heart-broken, faith questions. Real, soul-searching, God-searching, eternity questions.

And by God’s loving grace and His perfect Word of truth, I quietly shared from Scripture and from my heart. Mom even asked me to help plan the funeral service and choose the Scripture.

God was using all of the pain over the death of our Dewitte–to open up ways for God’s Word and Love to be poured into my family’s life. I had been praying for each of them for years. Witnessing to them for years. Much of the time their response was ridicule. Or at best, I was blown-off and ignored.

I was so thankful for that one week before Dewitte’s funeral. I was given time to share God’s hope. To share the eternal love and salvation of Jesus with my mom, dad, sister and brothers.

But then I lost it. Totally lost it. Driving back from the viewing hours at the funeral home, we hit a bunny. 

And with the death of that little bunny, I was absolutely flooded with all the pain I was feeling from the shock waves of my brother’s sudden death. I was overcome with all the passionate urgency I felt for each member of my family to accept the salvation of Jesus.

I desperately wanted each of them to know and accept the love of God. I ached in my deepest soul for each of them to stop living lies. To stop denying the hurt and ugliness within our family. For each of them to turn around. Run into the arms Jesus right now–before it’s too late.

But it wasn’t happening. I wasn’t seeing it. I was blinded with grief. Blinded with fear for my family members. Death does come suddenly. For people. For bunnies. I was blinded–from hope. I was terrified and discouraged.

WHEN would my family turn to God? WHEN would the twistedness and sickness within my family be ended?  HOW was I going to keep going in my relationship with them? HOW was I going to keep sharing Jesus with them?  They had wanted some of Jesus privately–on the phone. But now the dynamics were back to keeping me at a distance. Keeping me shut out–even from loving them. WHEN would they ever be saved and healed?

Tim drove towards my parents home while I sobbed out-of-control–in a nearly full-blown hysteria. Then Tim yelled at me. Just once. But very loudly. He needed to command my attention–so that I could obey the command of God.

I had lost it. And God used Tim to remind me that not only is God trustworthy, but God also commands me to trust Him. To be strong and courageous. Not because I am so strong and courageous–certainly not. And not because I have all the answers to my fear-filled questions–I certainly don’t.

God commands me to trust Him, to take on (and remain in) His strength and courage. I am not to be blinded by my fear, but to open my eyes to God’s powerful and peace-giving truth: God is with me, and God will be with me, wherever I go.

Oh, yeah. My God of Commanding Strength and Courage–is with me. I can–and I am commanded to–trust HIM.

I did…and eventually (although our personal, inner-healing is at different stages), so did all my family. Thanks be to Jesus.

In love, peace and purposeful passion,                                                               Sylane