Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Pillar of Salt

Recently, I marked the anniversary of my mother's passing; Mom left me a little over three years ago. During these past three years, my grief and feelings for her have been bittersweet, to say the least.

In my younger years, Mom and I were very close and we enjoyed a wonderful relationship. She was my encourager and confider. She had the shoulder I would cry on, lap I would sit on, and a heart full of love for her daughter. However, as I grew up, our relationship changed into one of distance, selfishness, and competitiveness. As I cut the apron strings and began to spread my wings and fly on my own, my mom became resentful of the person I was becoming and the accomplishments I was making without her. She could not separate herself from me and desired that I not seek my independence. Her words and actions often left me hurt, confused, and trying to find ways to regain her love and approval.

As the years past, the distance grew between us. And, with the sudden passing of my father, we were thrust together in living arrangements as I tried to care for her as she struggled with Parkinson's disease. It devastated her emotional, physically and spiritually. The spiritual warfare was in full swing. My mom became increasingly bitter, resentful, and manipulative. She lied continuously, spent her money recklessly, and had hallucinations. Mom often accused my husband and I of stealing from her. Needless to say, I was devastated, heart broken, and constantly on my knees in prayer. We felt we were doing the right thing by caring for my mother as a widow. So little did I truly understand about what was taking place and it laid heavily upon my spirit.

In the midst of this scenario, my family and I were driving to church one day. We passed the community where we had lived before moving in with my mother. I gazed longingly at the hillside dotted with homes silently wishing things hadn't changed, that my dad hadn't died, that we hadn't moved and made some other decisions that we'd made in recent months.

It suddenly occurred to me (by no coincidence I'm certain) how wrong I was in thinking such thoughts! I was no better than Lot's wife as she gazed longingly at the city she was leaving behind rather than ahead at the path that God set before her and her family! Yes, the path was full of uncertainty as was mine. Yes, it was going to be a difficult journey as was mine. Nonetheless, God promised to be with her as He did me, that He would guide her and provide for her, and bless her as He would me. Did I truly believe Him or was I, too, going to turn into a pillar of salt?

I realized that, for many years, my mother had been 'existing' as a pillar of salt. She was pining for the past that she had left behind, for many things that 'should have been', and trying to regain what she had lost. Seeing her inward struggle and pain, I decided to seek His will more fervently desperately not wanting to look over my shoulder anymore. I plunged, head first, into the situation at hand taking my faith as my shield and my God as my strong tower. "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe." - Prov 18:10

A pillar of salt can be:

  • A past 'life', a part of your life that you cannot let go of yet it has somehow changed;
  • A past sin for which you cannot forgive yourself;
  • Unforgiveness in something that has happened in the past or toward someone that has wronged you;
  • A longing for something that has never been a reality, an unfulfilled dream or expectation that keeps us from moving forward or hearing God's call and direction;
  • Wanting a path of life that is not in line with God's will for you; or
  • Refusing to acknowledge or accept God's power to work in and through you.

In essence, by ignoring His Word "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me" - Phil 4:13 you are resisting His power and may be misaligned with His will. Without this life experience and trial with my mother, difficult as it was, I would not be the 'new and slightly improved' version of myself. If I had chosen a path of regret, longing, anger and resistance rather than choosing to hear God's voice and follow His lead, I, too, would have become bitter and resentful as my mother had become. I would have been stuck not being able to move either forward or backward.

The experience has taught me to love those who don't necessarily 'deserve' to be loved as Christ has done and continues to do for us. My prayer life has improved immeasurably and I am mindful to look for the hand of God in all circumstances and in my surroundings. I trust Him with the outcome of most things (doubt occasionally creeps in and I have to go searching for my Godly armor) even when things seem darkest. I now look for the jewels while in the cave knowing His lessons, His wisdom and His blessings can be found anywhere at any time. I remind myself He has a good reason for EVERYTHING, not just some things, and is motivated by love. I pray continually to see others through His eyes, love others with His heart, and forgive as He forgives (even when I don't feel like it).

He has built His character in me through this tough experience in order to accomplish His purpose. He has brought me closer to Him and improved our relationship which He so desires and has increased my desire for Him as well. I have learned to redefine love in many, many ways. St. Teresa of Avila stated: "Unless they endeavor to understand and remedy their most miserable plight, their minds will become, as it were, bereft of movement, just as Lot's wife became a pillar of salt for looking backwards in disobedience to God's command."

And, yes, through my heartache, I have been blessed. I have come to know and draw closer to the Lord in a more intimate way. I treasure each day much more not wanting to waste any of God's precious time. I value relationships, both with my Creator and the people He has placed in my life, above all else. And, though I still dislike facing adversity, I look at those that come my way in anticipation of those teachable moments and for that inevitable silver lining in the dark cloud.

May we both continue to yield our hearts and surrender all of our lives to Him. And, may His will be done in my life and yours for the greater good and for His glory!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Prayer

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth.
Job 19:25

My life is filled with many blessings--physical, material, spiritual--that I thank Him for on a daily basis. I enjoy watching my children blossom, visiting with my friends, traveling, and experiencing everything this life has to offer.

It is a difficult thing, living this life and waiting for Him. To be in the world but not of the world. Temptations are plentiful and constant. There are many 'gods' to place our trust in--wealth, body image, fame--that are so much more tangible. How easy it would be to step over the line, compromise, and take the easy way out.

Yet, I have to choose, on a daily basis, to take that road less traveled. Why? Because my heart truly longs for the day I can see Him as He truly is and be like Him. My spirit cries out for His reign upon the earth putting an end to all the suffering, sorrow, and sin. If I stay on this road less traveled, my future with Him is secured; if I deviate from it, my future is truly uncertain.

Things of the here and now take our focus and energy for today. They often distract us or tempt us away from our true purpose and what is truly important. It often seems like the 'right thing' at the time. But to focus on things unseen means life eternal in ways beyond our imagination. My prayer for us lies in His power and strength and His hope for tomorrow....

I pray for you as you struggle and stand strong and stay steadfast with me today!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Welcome to Be of Good Cheer!

Welcome to our "Be of Good Cheer" blog! We've designed this blog with the hope that will inspire and edify those who walk in the faith or are searching for direction, hope and answers in a confused world. We hope that it will provide encouragement for those who seek THE abundant life that only our Savior, Lord, and King can provide both now AND in the Kingdom to come! The entries here are a result of inspiration, life experiences, trials, studies and the living Word of God Who gives us every reason to be encouraged and put our hope and trust in Him.

In the words of the One who is faithful and true: "These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:32-33

Sunday, June 27, 2010


A deluge. And, what a deluge it was, too. Torrents of rain came tumbling out of the charcoal colored sky with what seemed like the force of a waterfall. It came fast and furious without warning, proceeding to drench the house and everthing around it for a least five solid minutes. For a fleeting moment, I thought of Noah and his ark and wished I'd had one. Thankfully, the rain began to subside gradually turning into a sprinkle and then, in a moment, became a faint drizzle.

All the while, I sat in my very warm, very dry home enjoying the sound of the rain clacking on my roof and windows. I was amazed by the volume that poured out of the sky and was thankful for the many wonderful things that water brings and the God that created it. And, yet, I was ever so very grateful for being inside rather than out, dry rather than wet, and for the provision of having a solid roof over my head with no cracks, crevices or leaks. No matter how the rain came down, I had a roof over my head.

This downpour did bring to mind another time, in another very wet year, when our first home could not keep out the rain. It seeped through the outer stuccoed walls creating damage to the insulation, dry wall, and flooring. Our home could not weather the storm. It was hastily constructed by unskilled craftsmen and a builder of little integrity who was very eager to put quick dollars in his pocket. Several public protests and a lawsuit later, our family and home went through the painstaking process of months of mold remediation and repair.

My mind and heart, prompted by His Spirit, was suddenly reminded of the trials that come our way, seemingly out of nowhere, trying to drown us with confusion and dispare much like this torrent of rain.Then, ever so gently, our everpresent, everfaithful God reminded me as to just how much greater is He that is my covering and my shelter than the temporary structure around me. He reminded me that He is my only true source of comfort and shelter in any storm that life brings my way. And, if I diligently seek Him, the intensity of those storms and resulting damage will be much less than if I travel through it relying on my own self sufficiency.

My God is the Master craftsman who is the expert at molding me and shaping me to be like Him. Nothing is too difficult for Him. 'I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.' Psalm 139:14

He will never abandon me to weather the storms of life alone. In Deuteronomy 31:8 and throughout His Word, He tells us that "The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." In 2 Samuel 22:2, David says "The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer."

God's love is infinite and unfailing. Romans 5:8 tells us "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

With Him, there is no doubt of His faithfulness to us. James 1:17 states 'Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.'

God cannot lie; He is true to His Word and promises. "The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8. And, from Titus 1:1-3 '..... according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, ....'

My temporary dwelling may sprout leaks in every corner reflecting the unreliable work and false promises of men but God's provisions will stand strong and fail not. Psalm 27:5 says 'For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.' As I struggle against the torrents life brings my way, I must dutifully remind myself of in what and in Whom I should be placing my trust. I must pray for others who do not know of Him, nor embrace His power or provision.

In times of distress, who do I call to shelter me from the storm? My Lord and my God. When life's circumstances hit me with a downpour that seems will never end, who is the guide who leads me through the raging waters to a place that is warm and dry and safe? The Light of the World who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Despite my faults and failings, who covers me with His blanket of loving grace? My Savior who is the Bright and Morning Star! In times of tumult where my life has seemingly turned upside down, who guides me to a place of safety under the covering of His wings? My Abba, my faithful Father. Who covers me with His armor when Satan fires his fiery darts at my weaknesses? My Protector and Prince of Peace. Whose blood has covered all my sins, past, present, and future, and cloaked me in a robe of righteousness? My Redeemer and my King.

Psalm 18:30 says 'As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.' And, He, the Great I AM, promises me, when the storms of this life cease, that I shall dwell in the house of the Lord which will stand forever and ever....