Monday, October 1, 2012

My Testimony tonight on 1 to 10

What is my only comfort in life and in death?
That I am not my Own, but belong body and soul, in life and in death to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.
For the past few years, the Lord has been re-ordering my life. There were things I said I would never do – live in the South (done that), be a secretary (done that). There were things I thought I could control – my fertility, my time.

Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” Or in other words, “Life happens while you're making other plans.”

I believe I am like most of my peers. I like to plan ahead. But God doesn't give us a view of the future. And if He did I'm sure I would try to change the areas in which God wants me to grow.

When my children were two and three a friend invited me to Bible Study Fellowship. After a year I was asked to be a children's leader in the childrens department. I asked a lot of people what they thought I should do. Surely I must have enough to do raising two preschoolers without being asked to teach other people's preschoolers. It seemed God was telling me to stop asking people what I should do. Then God reminded me of the interchange between Jesus and Peter who asked whether John would remain alive and Jesus' reply “What is that to you? You must follow me.”

I prayed for a month and still didn't know what the answer was. Then at Tuesday Bible study we were reading in D. Martin Lloyd-Jones' book “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount.” And the words “the man who hungers and thirsts after righteousness is the man who never misses an opportunity of being in those certain places where people seem to find this righteousness. And then, of course, he seeks the society of people who have this righteousness.” When I walked into BSF then next day I saw the assistant childrens supervisor and felt the Lord was telling me that if I hungered and thirsted after righteousness, this was the person to spend time with. Then I knew my answer.

Since then I have been so blessed. The women I have met have challenged and encouraged me. My life has been so much richer because of that “Yes”. A little over a year ago I felt the Lord wanted me to do something different but not outside of BSF. When the teaching leader called to ask me to be an assistant childrens supervisor I knew the answer was yes.

Almost every year there is a theme for my times of growth. The year we moved back from Georgia the theme was “God is GOD!” Consequently wherever He told us to go we should go.

The years of infertility and miscarriages where the years I learned that “Control is an illusion.” We cannot really control anything. A loving and faithful God controls it because he is sovereign and all the days of my life are numbered already. And He has a plan for me to give me a future and a hope.

The year my father died the theme was “The seed is never wasted.” I had given up praying for my father years ago because I doubted a heart like that could be turned to the Lord. I didn't know that my father was in the last year of his earthly life. But my Heavenly Father knew and he prepared me by convicting me for not praying for my father. My father died within 3 days of hitting his head and I don't know whether he is with the Lord, but I do know that my Heavenly Father is sovereign and am grateful I had the opportunity to be faithfully praying and witnessing.
In big and small ways the Lord goes before us. This summer our cat had to visit the vet about a week after our garage sale. Things were tight because of extra expenses. But we made $96.50 at the sale and a few days later sold a piece of furniture for $100. My Heavenly Father knows what I need before I ask. Our vet bill was $196.91.

A month ago we met a Bulgarian student who was selling books in Tacoma for the summer. We liked him and enjoyed his company. And we bought a couple of books. A couple of weeks ago he called because the person who was gong to drive him to make his deliveries of books could not make it and it was the night before the books were to be picked up and delivered. Uncharacteristically the things I had to do by Tuesday were done the night before he called and I was free to help him out. The children and I made deliveries with him in the afternoon. We had him over for dinner in the evenings and Mike took him for deliveries at night. We estimated we spent about $75 in gas. But my Father in Heaven knows what I need before I ask and an unexpected reimbursement check arrived that week for $78.

God is showing me that He is faithful to provide what we need when we are asked to help others. This summer I walked into the wrong bank branch to turn in a safe deposit box key and ended up talking to the right banker who facilitated a nice refinancing on our home saving us a nice little sum of money. A month after the refinance we had an urgent need in our extended family which a month before would have been difficult to take care of, but which was able to be paid for the same day because my Heavenly Father knew what we needed before we asked and providentially connected me with the right banker that day a couple of months before.

Along the way, God brings to mind hymns of encouragement. Hymns like “It is well with my soul” come to mind when I have experience a loss. Especially the loss of my first baby inutero. When my grandmother died it was “For all the Saints”. When my father passed away, God brought the hymn “Father, I know that all my life is portioned out for me.”

The past few weeks have been exhausting and overwhelming. And I'm just taking one day at a time. My sister-in-law suffered a bleeding stroke 7 weeks ago and should have died but didn't and miraculously she is back home. My brother-in-law has been encouraged by Paul's words “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” And I have taken that verse too as my theme.

The challenges of parents getting older and children still in the home make me cry out to the Lord. And two hymns are giving encouragement to me these days: How firm a foundation” and “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.”

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said—
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled? .

Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not harm thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.