Fear at 35,000 Feet

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O Lord, supported me.

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.

 Psalm 94: 18-19 NIV

It started out as an ordinary day.

Little did I know that evening I would face a brush with death 35,000 feet in the air; arriving in a far away city, surrounded by unfamiliar faces.  And in my despair and anguish, all I had was my faith and my Lord.

The morning of May 29th, my mind was focused on the trip I would be taking that afternoon. Employed as a flight attendant for 32 years, I have been on many trips. Thankfully, most have been uneventful and there was no reason to think this day would be any different. It was a quick one hour flight up to Charlottesville, Virginia from Atlanta. Nine hours in a hotel and a quick flight back to Atlanta the next morning. Sure seemed easy enough. This day, however, easy was not part of God’s plan.

We departed from Atlanta on time. As we took off and began our climb, I made the welcome announcement to our passengers. We leveled off and the captain signaled that it was safe for us to be up in the cabin and begin our service. I went into the aisle and leaned over to offer our snack basket to a passenger seated by the window when a sudden and severe pain wrecked havoc in my chest. It was searing and debilitating, but I did my best to keep my smile and continue the service.

Returning to the galley area, I doubled over from the physical pain and from the mental fear that was entering my thoughts. Lord, what is this, what is wrong here? I was pleading to Him to allow it to pass. Struggling, I was able to make the requested drinks and deliver them to the passengers.

By now the pain had gravitated between my shoulder blades and it was all I could do to stand. I went to sit on my jumpseat away from the view of passengers and leaned over in intense pain. Fear grabbed me. I knew I was in trouble and needed immediate medical attention. I instructed another flight attendant to call the cockpit and request paramedics meet our flight.

I have done that many times in my thirty-two years of flying for passengers – BUT, never for myself. I was blessed to have two gentlemen on the flight with medical backgrounds to assist, and I was fortunate that we were already on our descent into Charlottesville and on the ground in less than twenty minutes. Once at the hospital, it was immediately determined that I was having a heart attack and I was prepped for surgery.

Wait. This can’t be happening, Lord. No. Please. My girls have already lost their daddy. Please, spare me, Lord. They still need me. 

Pleading. Frightened. Hurting. Questioning. I was rolled into the surgery area. One of my main arteries was 90% blocked and a stent was placed. Five hours after the onset of this nightmare, I was finally placed in the ICU.

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.  Psalm 94:19

During those five hours of uncertainties in my life, I could hear the words of the medical staff explaining the diagnosis and the procedure to repair my heart. Most of those words were jumbled in my head. But, the words that I did hear loud and clear came from the great I Am. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Our mind is a complex machine. It can digest a multitude of thoughts in a matter of minutes. Many of those thoughts come and go with no aim or purpose. Yet, in a crisis, there is only one area that gives us comfort; those pertaining to God. It is here we find rest and peace. It is here where calmness can control our anxieties. It is here where God is our refuge, an ever helping presence. No matter how many thoughts cross our mind, there are thoughts of God, of Heaven, of hope, of faith, of love.

It is when His promises meet us face to face and the prospect of eternity with Him is revealed, that our hearts are warmed and our souls experience joy.

And in that five hour crisis of the unknown, it was only Christ that could offer me this peace. It was only Christ that assured me of His love for me and all that He still has planned for me. It was all I had.

And, it was all I needed.

So, while I could look at this bump in the road as another trial, another headache, another annoyance, I choose to look at it as another moment to glorify God for His graciousness in my life. We are each called to walk individual journeys. And along these journeys we may face obstacles and trials. Some of us may get bigger challenges and some of us may get more frequent challenges. As widows, we have certainly walked and continue to walk many trials. It really does not matter what they are or how many there are; what matters is how we respond to them.

What matters is that we claim His truths for us and allow Him to work through these rough spots so His glory may shine.

As I recover from this physical challenge, I am grateful for life. I am grateful I can go forward tending to the business God still has in store for me. And while I tremendously miss the support of my husband walking this challenge with me, I will lean even more on God to see me through. Yes, sisters, He is all I need.

Sweet Father, Thank you for every moment, every challenge and every blessing in our lives. Help us to keep our eyes focused on You and Your plans for us. I am so grateful You were with me during this moment of crisis. It is such a blessing to know You are with us in any situation. Amen


Bonnie is a mother of two awesome daughters who bless her life every day. When she’s not enjoying long walks along the Florida coastline, she is flying through the skies as a flight attendant. Life took a radical change in the spring of 2009 when her husband was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. The walk through that journey was the hardest she had ever walked. How did she make it through? And how is she surviving? The answer is simple. Jesus. His love. His mercy. His grace. He carried her when she was at her lowest.  And Bonnie carried Him in her heart even when she did not understand. He has been faithful in His promises – “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5) Bonnie has been called by God to share her story through writing and speaking.

To book a speaker email us at admin@anewseason.net

For more articles by Bonnie, click here

Read more about faith during illness from Lori and Sherry

Was God Surprised?

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.

The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!”

Job 1:21 ESV

 

God gives and takes away.

It’s a harsh reality.

He GIVES

And

He TAKES away.

Recently I went to the home-going service of a twenty-nine-year-old, mother of three: twenty-two months, three years, and five years. It was a very unexpected death. She woke up to a normal day, but didn’t feel well. At some point during the day, she lay down to take a nap with her youngest children, but never woke up.

God gave her parents twenty-nine years with her.

He gave her husband and her children far less.

She was a wonderful mom and a bright light for the world, with a smile for everyone. Yet, God gave and took away.

Many people might argue that it is not God who “takes away”, but the enemy. While the Bible is clear the enemy tries to kill, steal, and destroy, it is also clear that God knows our days. He numbered them and He ordains them. He is the giver of life and the one who sees from beginning to end, throughout the sands of time.

He knew the number of days I would be married, because He knew the exact day my husband had a divine appointment with Him. He was not surprised to see my beloved, since He ordained the very moment. Thus, I have a choice to make, to believe My Father chose it and all things will work together for the good, or to believe He was mean, mad at me, or wanted to punish me for some reason.

The Bible says, He is the giver of all good things.

                “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights

with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:7 ESV

God is not a cosmic bully, any more than He is a cosmic bellboy. He does not punish us, although He may correct us, as any good Father would. Nor is He at our beck and call, to bring us anything we ask for, although He longs to give us good gifts that serve Him and His will for us, instead of only serving our flesh and our own selfish desires.

He is a creator, a redeemer, a restorer. In the midst of the valley of the shadow of death, these things are sometimes hard to remember. No matter the level of difficulty, it is still the ultimate truth. God gives and takes away but He loves us more than we can ever imagine, and He is with us, always.

God, please be gentle with us, as we lean into You and seek Your face. Comfort us, and bring us hope, as we rest in Your arms and under the shadow of Your wings. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


 

closeup teriDr. Teri Cox is an international education consultant, speaker and author. Teri is the Production Director for A Widow’s Might. She joined the team in October of 2012 after losing her best friend, Daryl, in March of 2012. She looks forward to a life of music, missions, and ministry with God in control. Teri counts it an honor and a privilege to be allowed to share the Gospel message through word and song. Her desire is to make God’s name more famous and allow His mosaic of her life to become a more beautiful picture than she could ever have imagined.

Would you like to schedule Teri or another team member to speak at your next church event? Contact her at admin@anewseason.net

Other great articles by Teri, click here!

More articles you might enjoy: Terminal by Danita and Beauty for Ashes by Kit

 

Go North!

And for many days we traveled around Mount Seir.  Then the Lord said to me, “You have been traveling around this mountain country long enough.  Turn northward and command the people.” 

Deuteronomy 2:1-4 KJV

My sister, Kathy, has been reading through the Bible using a journaling study.  This is where you read scripture and pray about what God is saying to you. Then using a special Bible with wide margins, you draw a piece of artwork to represent the scripture.  My sister is a very talented artist, amongst other things, and she has been posting on social media some of her beautifully inspired artwork.  The other day, she posted the artwork associated with this verse and God used her artwork to catapult me out of a rut.

I’ve been circling a mountain for a long time.  I’ve been wanting something for a long time and asking God for it and His answer has been, “Wait, my child, you’re not ready yet!”  So, I’ve been circling the mountain and re-asking, re-hashing, beseeching…over and over and over again.

I think as widows we often get stuck circling mountains and sometimes we need help moving north, so to speak.  We circle the mountains of anger, jealousy, hurt, longing and self-indulgence, to name just a few.  We fill our back packs with: “This shouldn’t be happening to me.” “I don’t want this.” “I shouldn’t have to do this.”  “I’m tired.” And of course, “Why?”

This week as I was scrolling through my social media account up popped my sister’s post and her beautiful artwork, which further and much more directly gave me the answer God has for me.  It is His sweet answer to my prayer!

Stop circling this mountain and move north!  God spoke to me and basically told me to pick myself up and move north – look to Him and move toward Him.

Do you sometimes find that when you want something and ask for it and don’t get it in your time, you float away from Christ in the process?  You don’t mean to, but you do.  It’s a gradual wearing down, a slow movement south.

I find it so interesting that God knows me, knows what I need, when I need it and sends the perfect message in the perfect person at the perfect time.  His answer always feeds my soul and sustains me.

I’m finding that when I start circling a mountain, it is often a man-made mountain.  And as I am wearing a trail around its base, I am adding to the height of the mountain I am circling.  I get caught up in the circling and looking at the mountain and I forget to look north…true north.

So, this girl is going through her backpack and I am leaving some of my stuff on this mountain trail – the stuff I’ve added.  I am lightening up my backpack and looking north…going north.  I’m still hiking, but I’m looking to my beacon- my true North – Christ, my Savior.

Who’s with me?  Let’s open our backpacks up and get rid of some of the stuff we’ve been carrying!  Let’s leave this trail and go north.  I’ll meet you on a new trail and we can encourage one another along the way.

Stop circling this mountain and move north!  Thanks, Kathy, for sharing your God-given talent and allowing God to work through you to encourage others!

Dear Lord, Thank You for Your scripture which is new every day!  Thank You for using people in my life to encourage me and to speak light and truth into my life!  I am moving north and leaving this mountain trail for a new trail being paved by You.  Amen 


sherrySherry Rickard is a writer/speaker with A Widow’s Might/aNew Season Ministries, Inc.  Sherry lives in the Washington DC area of Virginia.  She works in the professional community management industry and is very active in her local church.  She has one daughter who is 19 years old and just completed her freshman year at college.  She also has a dog, Sophie, and a cat, Brandon.  Sherry lost her husband on February 14, 2011 to cancer after a bone marrow transplant did not engraft.  God has called her to this ministry to share the Hope that only comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is Sherry’s hope that Christ can shine through her and that Christ can minister to those who have a similar journey.  She is still here, so God has a wonderful purpose to fulfill with her life. 

Want to read more articles by Sherry? Sherry’s posts 

If you are interested in having Sherry or any of our team come visit your church or group please email us: admin@anewseason.net

If you liked this article, you might like:

Moving Forward by Teri

 Full Victory by Erika

In the Silence

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Luke 5:16 NIV

I sat on the tarmac filled with thoughts of our recent conference in Dallas. Grateful for the opportunity to lead worship and meet several of you, our readers. It was a God-filled time of healing, tears and laughter. During my teaching time, I encouraged our participants to journal their grief journeys. As I sat on the plane, the following day, I knew it was time for me to begin journaling, in order to process and prepare for this post. The following is an excerpt from my entry:

Father,

I look to You. You are where my help comes from; Your Word says so. You are the keeper of the pen that narrates, designs, and illustrates the scenes of my life. YOU SCRIBE MY STORY.

What do You want me to share? What do You want me to reflect upon?

What is it that You long to say to us?

God is not dead.

God is not gone.

God is not silent.

GOD SPEAKS…

But, do we listen?

Listening….. for widows, it is HARD!

There is SO MUCH for us to attend to and manage.

SO MUCH to be done.

SO MUCH to be thought out and gone through.

LISTEN?

How can we hear when the noise is SO LOUD?

How can we hear when the SILENCE is deafening?

How can we hear You Lord?

“Be still and know that I am God”

That’s it. It’s where I landed, on Psalm 46:10. God’s reminder that He is “in it” with us.

So, let’s break this verse down.

“Be still”

How good are widows at being still?  Are we good at it, or are we uncomfortable in it? Unless stillness leads to sleep, which is desperately sought after but often elusive for us, perhaps we are not good at it. To be still means we pause our responsibilities, and stop our dialogue (in ALL ways, be they in person or electronically). It means we put aside distractions-whatever they may be for us,  then we sit before the Lord and soak up His goodness. In stillness we pray, study, journal, meditate on His Word and hide it in our hearts. In stillness, we REST in Him.

“and know”

This could read, “and KNOW.”  KNOWING is radically different from thinking, feeling, or wanting. Thinking is using our brains and reasoning skills, but knowing is fully trusting.  Knowing is different from feeling, which is based on our emotions. Our emotions will often play tricks on us; thus, they are unstable.  Wanting is rooted in our desires, but knowing is not dependent upon how I feel or what I want.

KNOWING is unshakable.

We KNOW the sun is HOT. We’ve seen proof, like burned skin if someone is out in it too long. We’ve felt proof when we walk outside on a sunny day. We’ve measured it scientifically. Our sun is hot. The data proves it.  If we KNOW this about the sun, and we know who put it into orbit, why is it that we struggle with God? Sometimes, we struggle to KNOW that God is who He says He is, and that He loves us beyond our wildest imaginations, and wants the very best for us.

Did death triumph over Him? Did we lose trust for Him? Do we fear what will happen next?

Do we struggle to KNOW, with every part of our beings, that God is real, He has a plan for us, He treasures us, and He has not forgotten or forsaken us? If we are honest, maybe we do.

“that I am God”

GOD creator of the universe, God lover of mankind, God partner to those who fail daily, God maker of the stars, God Father of Abraham and Isaac, Esther, and Mary Magdalene God…THE GOD!

The I am BIGGER than finances, I am BIGGER than marriage, I am BIGGER than widowhood, I am BIGGER than anger, I am BIGGER than depression, I am BIGGER than grief, I am BIGGER than DEATH, I am BIGGER than the forces of evil and darkness, GOD!” 

Be STILL sisters, and KNOW that He IS GOD!

Lord, help us to KNOW that You will love us through the valley of the shadow of death. In Jesus name we pray, AMEN!


Tcas1Dr. Teri Cox is an international education consultant, speaker and author. Teri is the Production Director for A Widow’s Might. She joined the team in October of 2012; after she lost her best friend Daryl, in March of 2012. She looks forward to a life of music, missions, and ministry; with God in control. Teri counts it an honor and a privilege to be allowed to share the Gospel message through word and song. Her desire is to make God’s name more famous and allow His mosaic of her life to become a more beautiful picture than she could ever have imagined.

For booking information, please contact her at admin@anewseason.net or call 501-438-9028

To read more articles by Teri, click here.

Other articles like this: Be Still and 5 Things

Breathing In Hope

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”

1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV

None of us envisioned THIS as our future.

We didn’t walk our wedding aisle gazing at the pure love and joy on our groom’s face with thoughts that we would one day be widowed.

But THIS is where we are.

It is our “current”.

The pain is real and the grief is raw.

We cannot alter the circumstances that have brought us here. No matter how much we wish we could.  Time doesn’t flow in reverse.

There is a time to grieve. We cannot skip out on this.  We only harm ourselves if we try to rush the process.

Our loss was life shattering. Every single aspect of our world is now changed; every one of them, new.  This compounded loss that exists in each layer of us can plant seeds of fear.  Oh, we don’t necessarily recognize the little nagging thoughts as fear.  But it is there.

Fear we can’t possibly navigate this earth without the leadership of our husband manifests itself in constant thoughts of failure. If we aren’t careful, we can almost convince ourselves we are incapable without even attempting to accomplish something new.

Our fear of repeating a walk through such great loss causes us to hesitate in loving again.

Fear of the unknown nestles deep worry into our thoughts. Worry can begin to influence all processing in our brains, turning each situation into something potentially negative.  But we of all people should remember that this life is full of unknowns.  After all, we didn’t plan on being here, right?

What if it is time to come out from under the heaviness and start living again? Not living without the pain, but living around it.  Not erasing the memories, but cherishing them in their rightful place and looking ahead with expectation.

If you are not at this place yet, that’s okay. Do the work inside of your grief for now.  But, if you can honestly evaluate, and you are one who knows you should begin taking those bold steps forward, this writing is for you!

So which is it? Are you working through a healthy phase of grief, or are you stuck in grief because of fear?  Have you quit doing the work of sorting through grief and just settled in tight?  Are you stagnant in this life?

Friends, our God is anything but stagnant.

He is mighty and active.

He is alive and working.

He is NOT in the fear.  No, He is in the hope!

If these thoughts ring true within you, will you take time today to pray through your fears? Hand each one to God.  Name them and give them to the One who calms fears and offers hope.  Call on His mighty name with expectation of what He will do with your life.

Will there be unknowns?

Will there be things that seem too hard?

Will the newness at times be awkward to walk through?

I answer all of these with a resounding YES. But that “yes” is where hope lives.  It lives in the light that is revealed when fears are brought out of their darkness and surrendered.

Hope lives in the increased breaths as you contemplate that first step toward newness.

It resides in the accelerated heartbeat as you bravely walk into your future.

It is the combination of not knowing what comes next and the excitement of trusting that God will walk whatever path lies in your future with you.

Years ago, we had only dreams of beauty when we eagerly gazed upon our groom. Now we have lived more.  Pain has tinged our hearts edges.  What has happened, we cannot change.  We can choose to let that pain grow fear and leave us stagnant, or we can allow God to move us into a place of hope.

Lord, Help me lift the ceiling of fears I have self-imposed on my life and teach me to soak in the view of Your magnificent, limitless sky. I trust You with my today and my tomorrow.  Amen


 

Lori Reynolds StrellerLori Reynolds Streller is a mother of two who finds herself smack dab in the middle of widowhood.  She is choosing a life of gratitude by intentionally living this new life well.  She answers to Mom, daughter, sister, aunt and friend.  Her sanity is fueled by daily time with Jesus and a lot of coffee.  Boot camp workouts and running are her stress relievers.  As a writer/speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries, Lori uses her sense of humor and her reliance on God’s faithfulness to minister to others.  She boldly claims the goodness of her Lord in the midst of chaotic suffering.

Other articles written by this author: Lori Reynolds Streller

Other articles on this topic include: The Hard Side of Hope by Katie, Is This MY Hope by Elizabeth, and Hope Intensified by Sheryl

Family Ties

                                                 See what kind of love the Father has given to  us,

                               that we should be called children of God; and so we are.

1 John 3:1 NIV

It’s just not the same.

My family image is not the same as it was years ago. And it is hard to not let the hurt slip into my heart. The thoughts of what we had and the plans we made invade my thoughts.

A single event can change the dynamics of a family in an instant.

It is a fact that physical death will affect every family at some point.  And for us walking this road of widowhood, we have certainly experienced a deep loss within the walls of our immediate family.

The physical loss of a spouse can rattle a family to the core.  All that has been part of our daily lives and normal routine has been uprooted. We find ourselves wondering what will happen now that the comfort zone is gone.

We ask why.  We question if we will be able to hold it together for who is left – especially for ourselves. All the things done for us by our spouses are now placed on our “to do lists”, unwanted and screaming his absence even louder. The lack of his presence is a deep void. No help. No hugs. No conversation. And if you are a parent, you may be clawing your way through each day to keep things normal for your children — you question the very essence of your being and purpose in this displeasing journey.

And then I am reminded of one thing. Our earthly families may have change.

But.

WE STILL BELONG TO THE FAMILY OF GOD!

And that will never change. He will always be with us. After all, we were created for fellowship with Him. Our being and purpose is laid out and planned for our eternal destination.

I became a part of God’s family at the age of nineteen when I invited Christ into my heart. That decision is what has guided me ever since. And nothing will change that. Not even death. It is the only way I have been able to move forward in this deep sadness of losing my husband. And no matter how distant I may get from His will or slip in my life, He still loves me. Agape love. Unconditional.

Wow. I am unworthy, but, ever so grateful.

The confidence and assurance of being a part of God’s family comes with time and maturity. I have found that some of our biggest “maturing phases” happen when we are faced with trials.  This grief walk is certainly one of those times. I am leaning on Christ now to be my husband. I am learning to trust Him with EVERYTHING.  And I mean everything.

When I am sad and lonely, I spend time with Him in Scripture and meditation, or sometimes curled up in tears with only moans that escape my mouth.  When I am struggling or worried about finances, I tell Him my needs and I listen for His guidance on how I should handle my money affairs. When I need help with home or car repairs, I pray He will lead me to someone I can trust.  It takes time and a lot of trust, my friends. But, we can have the security of His family as we continue to move forward.

So no matter how many times I feel alone on this earth, I lean on this agape love from my Heavenly Father. I look forward to the day when I am welcomed into the Heavenly Home He has prepared for me. Until that day, I will keep my eyes turned upon Jesus and search His will for my life.

Thank You Lord,  for Your love and kinship in Your family.  May You touch each of these precious ladies as they struggle with missing their spouses within their families. Amen


Bonnie is a mother of two awesome daughters who bless her life every day. When she’s not enjoying long walks along the Florida coastline, she is flying through the skies as a flight attendant. Life took a radical change in the spring of 2009 when her husband was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. The walk through that journey was the hardest she had ever walked. How did she make it through? And how is she surviving? The answer is simple. Jesus. His love. His mercy. His grace. He carried her when she was at her lowest.  And Bonnie carried Him in her heart even when she did not understand. He has been faithful in His promises – “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5) Bonnie has been called by God to share her story through writing and speaking.

If you would like to book a speaker email us at admin@anewseason.net

For more articles by Bonnie, click here

Read more about God as our husbands with Sherry and Ami


God is Good

Over the last three months we shared a series on the Names of God.  We hope that series blessed you as much as it did us.  If you missed any of it, you can read those posts here:

Jehovah Sabaoth, Jehovah Shalom, Immanuel, Jehovah, I Am, El Olam, Jehovah Jireh, El- The Strong One, Adonai, El Roi, El Shaddai, El Elyon

Today, we start a new series… on God’s goodness.  Because God is good even if, even when, even still.  His goodness is not found in our circumstances, in our pain and loss, or even our joy and triumphs.  But, His goodness is found in who He is and what He did for us at the Cross.  He is good all the time.  He is constant.  He never shifts or changes, even if, even when, even still.

Please join us today for our first post in this new series.


“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of The Lord in the land of the living.” 

Psalm 27:13

As life has unfolded over the last few years, I’ve pondered this verse often.  It sits with me and it stirs my mind and heart almost daily.  It’s hard to understand or fathom at times, how this life and the horrific stuff that I see and experience could possibly be good or become good. How could God’s goodness ever be in some of these terrible circumstances? The suffering, the brokenness, the unfairness, the injustice, and just the messy world around me makes it seem bleak at times.

Yet, these are the things I do know: God is Sovereign and is always in control, ever working in our circumstances, walking alongside us, and allowing the good and the bad in life. As I pray and contemplate His goodness, I realize that God’s goodness is not found in my good or bad circumstances.  Focusing on my circumstances would cause me to never see His goodness, unless things were perfect every day and even then, my flesh would be unsatisfied.  Instead, I have learned His goodness is in His love and care for me, His constant presence and provision over me, and His healing power running through me.  And mostly, His goodness is in Jesus Christ and what He did for me at the Cross.

I am loved, cared for, and forgiven through Christ. I can experience that goodness every day, even if that day is the most gut wrenching, difficult day I’ve ever experienced.

~Erika


Please join us each Sunday over the coming months for our new series on God’s goodness. 

El Elyon- Our God Most High

Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified Him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; His kingdom endures from generation to generation.

                                                                                                         Daniel 4:34b

Today, let us join together and praise El Elyon – our God Most High! He is sovereign over everything for all eternity! There is tremendous power in this truth!

The death of our spouse can rock us to our very core. We can lose our ability to eat, sleep, and even think. Our bodies have to deal with a tremendous physical reaction to all of the stress, not to mention the extreme emotional stress. For months, I would go through situations that would trigger so much stress, I would completely forget what had taken place. It’s scary when you can’t even count on your mind to remember whole events.

As I struggled to make it through those horrific first months of grief, I found myself repeatedly meditating on these three truths:

  1. God is sovereign.
  2. God is good.
  3. God loves me.

And I still cling to these foundational truths today.

When I meditate on the truth God is sovereign, I remember He is bigger than any circumstance I will ever face. No matter how hard it is, how bleak the future might look, He is not surprised or unprepared.

When I meditate on the truth God is good, I remember that even though the circumstances may seem bad, God is working all things together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

When I meditate on the truth God loves me, it becomes personal. He is not just a far and distant king, He is the King of all Kings who loves me!

So if God loves me, and He is good, and He is the God most High, our El Elyon, then how can I possibly be afraid, of anything? Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments of doubt but He never changes. He was, and is, and always will be, El Elyon!

Dear Heavenly Father, We praise and worship You today El Elyon! You are our Most High God. We praise You for Your goodness, regardless of our circumstances. We praise You for Your love, which is wider and deeper than we can even begin to imagine. We praise You as the Creator of the heavens and the earth as well as the Creator of each and every one of us. Our hearts sing of Your Majesty, Our Most High God!  Amen.


Here are the other posts from our Name of God Series.  We hope this series blessed you as much as it did us! Stay tuned because next week we will be starting a new series on God’s goodness.

Jehovah Sabaoth, Jehovah Shalom, Immanuel, Jehovah, I Am, El Olam, Jehovah Jireh, El- The Strong One, Adonai, El Roi, El Shaddai

Jehovah Sabaoth- the LORD of Hosts

Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.

~Martin Luther, A Mighty Fortress

If you are anything like me, you have sung those words for decades. Let me clarify, I probably MUMBLED some of those words because I didn’t have a clue about what I was singing. I let it pass quickly through my lips without much concern for what it meant. Until recently…

Lord Sabaoth, what in the world does that mean?

Sabaoth is translated as “hosts” in the Old Testament. Every time you see “Lord of Hosts”, know that it means Lord Sabaoth. The hosts are armies. The Lord Jesus is the head of the armies of all created beings-heavenly and earthly! Isaiah and Jeremiah seemed to use it most often, but it is the prayer of Hannah I want to focus on.

Hannah was married but never had children, which seemed to be far more important to her than even her understanding but perhaps self-absorbed husband (“am I not better than ten sons?”). So, she went to the Lord Sabaoth to plead her case. She wept bitterly as she made promises to God. The priest saw her praying and assumed the worst. But through questions, discovered she was pouring out her heart.

And the Lord remembered her. And IN DUE TIME…

Going to her husband with her problem didn’t solve it. Like in the song above, she went to the “right man”, the “man of God’s own choosing”. The Lord of Hosts won the battle in due time, His time.

As we go to the Lord of Hosts, Lord Sabaoth, today, let’s remember this. Sometimes we think marriage or something “else” will solve our heart pain. But we have something BETTER. We have the Lord of Hosts, the “right man” of God’s own choosing, remembering us as we pour out our hearts.

Let’s worship Him today.


Other articles in our Names of God series: Adonai, El Shaddai, Jehovah Jireh, El-The Strong OneEl Roi, El Olam, Jehovah Shalom, Immanuel, & Jehovah, I Am

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Time to Leap


I’ve never been a “dip a toe in the water” kind of girl. I’d much rather jump right off the diving board and embrace the chilly jolt.

Everyone knows it’s easier to acclimate if you go all in, right?

I tend to face life this way also. Decisions are all or nothing. Likewise, indifference and apathy aren’t prominent character traits. I’ve been known to rush in, yet most decisions are actually preceded by intense thought and prayer.

But when I jump, I jump.

My husband and I had dated about a month when I told him I wanted to marry him. Indeed it was a bold statement, but I knew he wanted the same.

I like taking risks. Recently, however, a latent fear rose to the surface; I didn’t realize I was still afraid of future suffering. I thought I’d dealt with that one long ago.

Apparently it crept up again.

Sitting across from a man who wants to date me and has embraced my widowhood with immense grace, I finally confronted the sin lurking in the shadows.

“What if I have to walk through death again? If I let this guy in, I could suffer more.” 

Through tears I admitted the fear. Pulling me close, he spoke life giving truth.

“You know God is good. You know He does all things well. He sovereignly leads and plans the best things for your life. You may be a widow again. But you may not ever be. Because of the gospel we don’t have to fear. There is so much joy.”

He’s right.

And just like that I decided to leap. I don’t know what God plans for this man and me, but it’s time to take a risk and see what could be. I need not fear future suffering or future blessing.

For “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18.

God loves me perfectly. Jesus loved perfectly, even to death on the cross. Therefore, I don’t have to fear.

In How People Change, Tripp calls all the pressures of this life “heat.” The trials, blessings, responsibilities, sufferings, joys, and challenges, temptations—all are heat that produce either thorns or fruit.

At the potential of something new, my thorny response was fear. And in this scenario, fear is sin.

It is a result of

  • forgetting who God is.
  • forgetting what He has done.
  • forgetting who He says I am.
  • forgetting that He has provided everything for a God-honoring life.
  • forgetting that He’s committed to making me holy.

Sometimes I cherish things more than I cherish Christ—

My comfort.

My expectations for a well-ordered life.

My temptations to compare a new relationship with the old.

Therefore, I turn from fear. However, to merely change my behavior would be counterfeit and superficial at best. I need radical heart change.

“At the cross God meets us in our sin and struggle with His heart transforming grace.” -Paul Tripp.

So, I ask. “Who is God and what does He say and do in Christ?’

God is good. He is working all things out for my joy and His glory. (Romans 8) Because Jesus had joy in suffering, when suffering comes I can meet it with a settled confidence— with joy, peace, rest, and even cheerfulness.

He gives Himself.

He provides.

As I view the transforming grace of Christ at the cross, thorns become fruit, and I trust my unknown future to a known God.

As for this guy?

Well, I’m a little giddy. I can’t wait to see what God does next.

Here’s to the diving board.


Ami is a Kindergarten teacher turned Developmental Therapist turned writer. Ami also assists the elders at her local church through counseling and ladies’ ministry. She began writing two weeks after her husband died in January 2013. The ramblings were her honest, raw, thoughts as a 30 year old, childless widow desperately trying to process the tsunami. She felt strongly that she needed to let others see the journey and let God use it to break down stereotypes of Christian grief. Now she writes to equip, encourage, and comfort those on similar paths.

More posts by our team:

Fearless or Fearful?

Perhaps

Marital Bed