Sunday, September 30, 2018

Sunday Praise & Worship - I Got You

Last Friday, I had a hospital visit to see my doctor and discuss the results of my surgery. I had gotten to the hospital early just to avoid the downtown Atlanta traffic. While I was waiting, I had a cup of coffee and a yogurt. The hospital was busy as usual with doctors, nurses, lab technicians, patients, facility people and a whole host of others walking briskly past where I was sitting. Each had a look of purpose on their face. Some looked like they were late to an appointment and were trying to get through the clumps of people in the hallway in front of the cafeteria. Some smiled while others acted impatiently. In short, it was a typical scene in a very busy hospital.

As I enjoyed my coffee, I looked outside at the sky and noticed that it was grey. It looked like it was going to rain. I was praying that I would not have to drive to my next doctor’s appointment in heavy rain with slick roads. As I was looking outside, a small, quiet voice inside my heart said, “Turn and look.” If there is one thing I learned from the Bible stories of Samuel and Elijah, God speaks in whispers or calls out in a voice. So, like Samuel, I responded, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” I turned and saw a woman wearing a black t-shirt. It had a message written in big, white letters. It said, “I got you. God.” I was amazed by the direct and exact message. Little did I know that that message would be words for the week and the weeks to follow. 

When the time of my appointment arrived, I went up and checked in. Once there, I noticed others sitting in the waiting area with me. Some had huge sections of their face surgically removed. Cancer, infection and a number of other things could result in that sort of radical surgical intervention. I became very uneasy and wondered if that would be my fate. Would my surgeon have to remove more tissue? What would my quality of life be if that sort of surgery is necessary? How would we be able to afford it? I let Satan start to whisper in my ear and I pushed God’s early direct and exact message of hope out of my head and heart. I gave in to the fear, uncertainty and doubt. I tried desperately to return to the Lord and seek His refuge but the words of the accuser began to sink further and further into not only my heart and mind but also my soul. I was wracked with fear. I felt like a small boat on a stormy sea about ready to founder in the waves.

Finally, I was called back to an exam room by the doctor’s nurse practitioner. She began the exam and set things up quickly for the doctor so that he could quickly get through my follow up. He knew I would have a lot of questions. As we talked, the news that he provided me was not bad nor was it good. It was the “let’s wait and see” response. After all I had been through, I was hoping for a glimmer of hope and a step in the right direction, but I did not get it. God’s message was now lost and I let Satan continue to whisper words of fear, discouragement and doubt. Part of me wanted to just break down and weep. The other part wanted to thank God for the work of the surgeon and what he had done thus far to stop the ravages of this horrible disease. You can easily guess which part won out over the other. I let the words of Satan get a foothold and he continued to spew fear, uncertainty and doubt. Just like he tempted Christ Jesus, he did the same to me. However, unlike Jesus, I did not regain my stronghold of faith in the Word of God. I felt alone and abandoned. I felt that all of the hard work and all of the times that I had sought God meant nothing to anyone, especially God.

When I left his office to go to my next appointment about thirty minutes away, I was devastated. I called my wife, Karla, and let her know about the appointment and how I felt. I was all played out and my faith was in tatters. I had hoped that I would receive some good news instead I received only more fear, uncertainty and doubt. 

After arriving at my next appointment, I reported to the doctor the findings from my surgeon. He had seen the notes from the surgery and knew that more tissue was removed than originally planned. He knew I was upset by all of this and he gave me some hope, but Satan’s words were still rattling around my brain and running through my heart. He and his nurses continued to give me more and more hope and were optimistic that things would work out in the end. 

As I left his office, I was still upset, depressed and dejected. I, like Job, said the same thing to God, “I have done no wrong. Why is this still happening?” My whole drive home was consumed with those questions. I called my wife and let her know that the last doctor was more optimistic and said that things would work themselves out. We just had to wait and see. It could take as long as four to six more weeks before we will know anything.

When I got back to Newnan, I stopped by Walmart to pick up a few items. As I was leaving, I saw my dear brother in Christ, Gino, at the door. I told him what was going on and let him know what I was feeling. He immediately got his wife, Kathy, on the phone and we began to pray. She prayed for healing and strength to get through this situation and reminded me that all things are done for the glory of God. After praying with her and Gino right there in a Walmart, I was weeping tears of joy. I was so glad that God reminded me of His earlier message. I needed time to let His words and message sink into my mind.

God’s direct and exact message and His message through Gino and Kathy began to work as I slumbered. Saturday morning was a new day and I had a choice to make. I could continue to wallow in fear, uncertainty and doubt or trust in the Lord and blood of Christ Jesus. It was purely up to me. I could ignore His message of “I got you” or I could embrace it as my rallying cry and rally my faith in the Lord. What was I going to choose as my path?

After praying with Karla, I began to feel my faith strengthen. I was reinvigorated by the Holy Spirit and knew that God will definitely see me through this. I began to focus on a particular psalm that I had provided to others many times. I turned in my Bible to Psalm 34 and began to read again with a renewed heart the words of that powerful psalm. The passage that caught not only my physical eyes but also my spiritual ones reads, “17 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. 19 The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. 20 For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!

As I began to let these verses soak deeply into my soul like water on parched soil, and the messages that He provided on Friday, I realized that all I need to do is to seek Him and continue to trust Him no matter what happens. By remembering the words and promises of the Lord, I know He will deliver me from my illness and my other problems. All of it will be done for His glory and His alone.

Once words and promises of the Lord began to refresh my spirit, I knew that I had nothing to fear. The whispers of the enemy disappeared immediately and I rested peacefully in the arms of the Lord and knew that He truly has everything under control. Another psalm that came to mind as I rested was Psalm 9. David writes, “9 The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. 10 Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.

We all face troubles each and every day of our lives. Sometimes they are big while other times they are small. But, in every case, we need to seek the Lord and know that if we do He will not abandon us and will rescue us from our troubles. He gives us the grace to be able to get through those tough times. As Paul so aptly states in 2 Corinthians, “9 Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

By allowing our weaknesses and frailties to become our strengths by relying completely on God’s grace and love and the power of Christ Jesus working through us, we know that we can get through all of our troubles. As you go through this week, remember the words of that woman’s t-shirt, “I got you. God.” Those words will serve as your reminder that God has got us and will not allow a single bone to be broken. With those promises firmly planted in your heart, mind and soul, you can without any doubts or reservations know that you can stand firm in His grace.
May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

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