The Option God Offers Us {{Week 4}}

In Ephesians 4:20-24, we are met with the reality of our sin nature. We are reminded that, it is is gross and reeks. Yet, then, we find something in the Bible that can soothe the weariest of us.

“Instead…”

See, the God we serve. While we could continue to be entrapped and tackled on by the team of our entire old evil nature, something else happens.

Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, offers us another way!

Each day, we make choices on whom we will serve. Will we do this, or that? Will we go here, or there? Most of these choices, we don’t think about. Most of them, we go through the motions – not giving much thought as to what we are doing. We just do them.

But, what if… we took a different path today? What if, we deliberately sought after Jesus today? What if we took His path more seriously today than ever before– and intentionally lived our lives centered on pursuing Him (who first pursued us)?

“Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes… You are a new person created in God’s likeness (see Eph. 4:23-25).”

Yesterday is gone, my friends.

Today is all we have.

Today is what is sitting in front of us. We may be intensely struggling with routines, habits, addictions, and sins we have struggled to overcome, but let today be the day where you press into Jesus – letting Him hold you and direct your thoughts/attitudes.

Because Jesus is the key!

Everything we are fighting to overcome, Jesus is that key we have long time been searching for.

Jesus is offering Himself to you and me at this very moment.

Let’s not delay in turning to Him, seeking His Presence, and pouring out our hearts to the One who has made them. He knows every single thing about us (see Ps. 139). He is just waiting for us to come close, so He can whisper to us (see James 4:8).

Tuesday Link-Up: Gracefully Overcoming – Our Testimonies

I have wanted Gracefully Overcoming to be a place, where we can vent, pray, and praise God – together. My story is a unique one. I began this blog, as the result of “coming down” with some health issues. This is “Testimony Tuesday”. I want us to be able to share how God is working in our midst. Maybe, it’s your own testimony, a Scripture you read, or song lyrics that encouraged your spirit. I invite you to share them with us.

Because the truth is, God is constantly on the move, working in our lives.

I invite you to share your story in our community of graceful overcomers. How is God moving in your life? I hope you will join me for “Testimony Tuesday”.

IIWK15: I Fight for Understanding

This week is Invisible Illness Week. I have debated about how involved I would be, but I have composed a two-part-blog-post-on-understanding-and-its-counterpart-support. This is what I fight for.

I Fight for Understanding

When you face chronic, invisible illness, one of the most evident blessings is understanding. There is comfort in knowing others understand, or are pursuing understanding.

Understanding invisible illness is not an easy task. It is not a skill you can develop in school or pick up on a whim. It takes deliberate action. Understanding places us in the place of choosing to stay by our friend’s side and understand what they face – as much as we can.

Understand allows us to know how to be there for our friends. As we fight for understanding, I have compiled a short list of things we can immediately put in action – to help and be there for those we love who face illnesses that might not be highly noticeable to the outside world.

Typically, for me, you probably wouldn’t know my struggles…

Unless you visit my blog

Unless I confide in you about them.

Tips on Understanding

These are strictly understanding tools. When we know what their ailment is called, we can research it. If we don’t understand, we can ask questions. Most people, well I know for me, I love it when people ask me questions.

When you ask me questions, you show you care!

Research

We are blessed to live in a time, where medical information is literally at-our-fingertips. When we learn that our good friend has been diagnosed with something, we can go on a venture to learn more. Why, learn more? When we know what our loved ones face, we can know how to offer them support.

A Played-Out Example

An example would be good, right? Okay, so I have what is called Neuro-Cardiogenic Syncope. We will refer to it, as NCS for short. When I share my struggles with people, they have no idea what NCS is. It’s sorta like, “N.C – what?!?” “NCIS?” Um, no. NCS (which I mistakenly refer to as NCIS when I am incredibly foggy in thinking). When people know my struggle, it won’t come as a surprise to them when my best friend is salt and caffeine. I have had others who haven’t understood that.

So, this is why understanding is a part of my fight – gaining awareness to help my friends know my battle… Because when I have friends that take the time to understand the mechanics of my condition (NCS, for example), it is comforting to me. They have taken the time to know what I face, and it is written all-over-our-friendship that they deeply care for me and my health.

Ask Questions

**This is likely the most lengthy part of this post. Bear with me. Or, come back when you have the time**

Questions. Hmm. What kind of questions are the best to ask someone who faces a life and health that is likely different from your own?

We want to ask questions that are geared toward understanding their battle a bit more. The best way to do that, is to focus on our hearts/attitudes and then the questions.

Here is a list of questions to break the ice in your conversations with those with invisible illnesses.

  1. What is the hardest part of your health struggle?
  2. What do you wish you knew earlier in your struggle?
  3. What do you wish your friends and family knew?
  4. Can you share more about your health issues?
  5. Do you have to follow a specific diet, because of your health issues?
  6. How has your faith in God given you hope in the midst of your trials?
  7. Is there a specific Bible verse you cling to, more than most?
  8. What advice would you give to sufferers?
  9. What advice would you give to those seeking to be a support to sufferers?
  10. What resources are out there for those with loved ones who are sick?

Q~&~A

For fun, I have decided to just take the extra time (and making this an unexpected lengthy blog post) to answer the questions that I want people to ask me. I am not answering all of them, because some are a one-on-one kind of answer. I openly share with others, but sharing on a blog post – kinda different.

What do you wish your friends and family knew?

I wish they knew how much I need them to reach out, and keep encouraging me in life and my walk with Christ.

How has your faith in God given you hope in the midst of your trials?

My faith in God has grown through my trials. God is the One who keeps me going. These past several months, He has shown me that He alone is the One who continually sustains me. He is my purpose and reason to keep going. His will doesn’t pass over me, just because I am sick. God continually uses me, and that’s part of my testimony.

Is there a specific Bible verse you cling to, more than most?

There are a few Scriptures I like to hold onto. Mark 5:1-20 and John 9:2-3 are among the top ones. It just reveals to me that it is for His glory, and how much God cares. Even when I feel like I am going crazy during my time of sickness, Jesus is there and cares deeply!

What advice would you give to sufferers?

You may not feel or see it, but God is exactly there with you in your time of struggle. He is with you, ready to be your ever-present-help. Turn on praise music and draw near to Him. Try and find a way to get in the Word (the Bible), even when it is difficult. Even if you can only read one small verse, do it. Focus on Him and how He is working in and through you.

What advice would you give to those seeking to be a support to sufferers?

Continue to be present in their lives, and show them you truly care. For sufferers, they can friendships dwindle away due to their affliction. Just be there. Check on them. Find ways to offer support.

What resources are out there for those with loved ones who are sick?

I highly recommend Rachel Lundy’s Chronic Illness and Friendship.

Condition of Faith in Trials

Trials on a Tuesday is a weekly series that focuses on a topic relating to trials, and how we can glorify God in the midst of hard times.

Trials on a Tuesday is a weekly series that focuses on a topic relating to trials, and how we can glorify God in the midst of hard times.

“See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name (Rev. 3:8, NIV).”

When hard times come, our strength is tested. Perhaps the most memorable event of trials is not the trials themselves, but the strength preserved through the trials. In our trials, we see where our faith truly lies.

Is it in the gutter, but we think it is as high as a mountain top?

Trials, as painful as they are, reveal the truth – where we would otherwise remain blind – ignoring what is staring us in the face. Like James says, we would be like “a person who looks in the mirror and walks away forgetting what they looked like.” We can’t walk away, ignoring our great need for Jesus Christ and to fully trust God.

Our need for Jesus is far too great. Trials reveal the desperate need we have for Jesus Christ as our Lord, Savior, and Companion whose unfailing love wraps us like a blanket on a cold morning.

My Summer Trial

Oh God knows, how I hated it.

It was one of the difficult things perhaps, that I have ever faced (thus far!). Yet, it did something powerful. It showed me where my faith was in need of serious growth. It showed me how much distrust (rather than trust) that I have going on in my spirit!

If I were to label this summer. it would be called. . . learning to trust my God.

While it was hard, concerning, and scary, God’s great grace is what remained. It is Him who sustained me, not the concerning thoughts. Our trials remind us of our need to dance in dependence with our Savior. God is the One who created us, gives us the power to breath, and walks this road before we ever begin to take the first step. Our great powerful God, holds our hands and helps us to overcome our trials. As we depend upon Christ, He makes us into overcomers – where we are not defeated but strengthened by hard times.

In my summer trial, He sustained me like none other. The trial of being knocked down, has build me up spiritually. He continued to sustain and give me strength.

Reflection

How is God revealing to you the condition of your faith through your trial? Is it firmly in place, where it cannot be crushed by adversity? Bring it to God in prayer.

“Lord Jesus, I pray you would deeper my faith in you. Help my faith to be firmly planted, where nothing can ever come close to crushing it. Center me on you, despite what I face.”

Five Minute Friday – Here

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300Welcome to this week’s edition of Friday Minute Friday! This week’s theme is “here”. To learn more about Five Minute Friday, please visit Kate’s blog for more details…

Presently, I sit. . . Where exactly? The circumstance involves, sitting on a mattress on the living room floor propped up by blankets and pillows. Plagued by low blood pressure I am expected to wait out (which honestly I am more than fine with. My home is more comfortable than a hospital by far!) This form of tiredness plagued by my body is not only unique, it is also unsound. “Here”. This is where I am.

By the grace of God, I have developed contentment in this. Not always. But, overall the contentment is pretty solid…So, my spirit can focus on other areas that need “attention”.

Is there anxiety in facing my days? Of course. Some, more than others. Some, not as many as others. When it first came, what got me was the fear.

Then as the days progressed, it really taught me trust. Trusting Jesus.

That is what this summer has been about, as I faced many unwell health days – trusting Jesus, focusing on my relationship with Him – just that, not “being a Martha”.

I don’t know how many times God told someone “I am here” in the Bible, but I am sure it is an awful lot. The truth is, He is our ever-present Comfort. He loves us no matter where we are or what we are going through…

While this is true, He is present with us in all circumstances….

I wonder how many times His Holy Spirit begins whispering to us: “Come here”… Right in the middle of our storm. Right when we are going through it.