• DANCE IN THE RAINLife is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain.- Vivian Greene

Joni and Ama+

 

Can you imagine living with 50 years of quadriplegia? Relying on others for your every need, unable to care for yourself, needing help even to blow your nose?

Joni Eareckson Tada can. On July 30, 1967, when she was 17 years old, Joni was paralyzed from the neck down when she dove into deceptively shallow water in the Chesapeake Bay. This month marks 50 years that Joni has lived as a quadriplegic. From an outside perspective, it seems impossible to endure what Joni has endured and come out praising Jesus. But she has.

In her latest devotional, A Spectacle of Glory, Joni shares, “I happened to hear recently the old Beatles classic “Here Comes the Sun” – a song I listened to when I was first injured. It reminded me of the dark, depressing days in the hospital when I thought I would never smile again, would never see the sunlight of hope. And now, nearly 50 years later, I still find myself thinking, how in the world did I ever make it? But here I am, living in joyful hope as though it were sunshine. How did that happen? Here’s how: day after day, month after month, year after year, I simply cast myself on Jesus. I clung to his name, crying out constantly, “Oh Jesus!”

Joni, who lives in joyful hope as though it were sunshine, has had to endure more than quadriplegia. She was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer in 2010. And she lives with crushing chronic pain. To Joni, quadriplegia isn’t a big deal anymore; she’s learned to live with that. But the pain is hard to get used to, as it invades her life every day.

This week I had the privilege of speaking with Ama Cruz, who helps serve Joni. Ama is the mother of Nathan Cruz, who is a summer intern for my husband Joel. What a joy it was to discover that we both knew Joni. When Ama first started serving in the Tada home 1 ½ years ago, she was excited about getting to know Joni personally. But more importantly, she wanted to meet God through the lens of Joni. And she has. She has seen firsthand the faithfulness of God who lavishes grace on us.

Someone from Joni’s wake-up crew, affectionately known as “the Get-up Girls” who are pictured above, is there every morning to get her ready. And they get her ready regardless of whether Joni has slept well or not, whether she’s in agony or not, whether she wants to get up or not. Because she relies on helpers who are scheduled in advance, Joni doesn’t have the luxury of changing her mind at the last minute. Joni can’t hit the snooze alarm and decide she wants a little more sleep.

Often she is exhausted, but she continues to persevere. As she prays in her devotional, “Lord Jesus, sometimes I think my worst enemy is just being so tired – tired of the physical hassles, tired of the pain, tired of fighting off the whispers and mockery of the enemy. My stamina is almost gone and my tank is almost empty. Come quickly to my side. Be the strength and song I can’t pull together on my own.”

In a podcast interview, Joni said As a quadriplegic, I wake up in the morning and it’s hard. It is so hard having somebody else come into your bedroom [to brush your teeth and your hair]. It’s overwhelming at times,” she said. “During those times, I say, ‘Lord God, I cannot do this, but I can do all things through you as you strengthen me.’

Those who serve Joni can attest to the fact that Christ is her strength; she doesn’t complain. Ama says, “She doesn’t rant or grumble even though she is immersed in chronic pain and cannot use her body. Suffering is her constant companion, yet the Spirit of God is her comforter so she is always gracious. This is an act of the Holy Spirit.”

Joni sees that her response to suffering matters. In A Spectacle of Glory, she says, “In your natural self, you might complain about your routine or difficulties. In God’s strength, however, you bite your tongue and refuse to grumble, because you recognize God in those very situations.” She goes on to say, “I want [God] to gain glory through the way I live out this “normal” day… that people would see a difference between the way I would naturally respond and the way [God] enables me to respond by [his] Spirit. May people who observe my life see that gap and give the credit to [God].”

Joni doesn’t want the credit for herself. She wants it all to go to Jesus and encourages believers not to take the credit for strength in the midst of trials. Joni says, “Yes, we may show flashes of great strength in dark and desperate times – but it’s not our strength. For those who battle daily with chronic pain or physical disabilities, the reminders of our weakness are even more stark; we can never really forget how powerless we are. But that’s good!”

What has Ama learned after being with Joni? She’s learned to be grateful for all things. She understands that God intimately knows our pain and suffering. He doesn’t just meet us in our pain and suffering – he’s already there, waiting for us. And through serving Joni and her husband Ken, Ama has seen the great God they serve. A God who meets the disabled around the world and offers them his grace.

Ama has also worked with the ministry of Joni and Friends (JAF), and is quick to say that the ministry is not fundamentally about Joni. It is about trusting God and relying on his grace in all aspects of our lives. It’s about loving and embracing the disabled and disenfranchised, rather than overlooking them. It’s about ministering to the families of people affected by disability all over the world, sharing the gospel of hope.

Joni and Friends and their Wheels for the World program is changing lives. Ama, who has visited numerous countries with JAF, shared how people with disabilities in poorer countries struggle with no relief. They are marginalized and shunned, often treated as cursed. Ama vividly remembers a woman, lying prostrate on the dirt floor, begging God to let her live one day longer than her disabled son because otherwise no one would bother to care for him. Ama was heartbroken for her, yet marveled at this woman’s extraordinary walk with God.

Joni, along with countless disabled people and their families around the world, lives with a breathtaking dependence on Jesus and a supernatural sense of God’s presence. Joni says: “I wish I could adequately describe what it’s like when I’m aware of the overwhelming presence and power of God’s grace in my life. It’s like “living above” my wheelchair in a strata of heart-splitting joy that comes with God-breathed courage to tackle whatever lies ahead! Frankly, I believe that the more aware you are of God’s grace, the more joy and courage you will have. This raises the question: when are we most aware of God’s grace? It isn’t when we are riding high with the string of green lights and open doors before us. No, it’s when we are needy and feeling spiritually impoverished.”

Heart-splitting joy, God-breathed courage, the overwhelming presence and power of God- what a spectacular testimony to God’s grace.  Looking at the life of Joni Eareckson Tada, who after 50 years of quadriplegia is even more convinced that God’s grace is sufficient for her, I am in awe. Not in awe of Joni, but in awe of the God who comes to us in our suffering, gives us courage to tackle what lies ahead, who alone is worthy of all honor and praise.

 

 

 

  • July 21, 2017 - 9:41 am

    Jennifer - Beautiful tribute Vaneetha. To God and to Joni.ReplyCancel

  • July 21, 2017 - 1:29 pm

    Ama Cruz - Thank you, Vaneetha for showcasing God’s “iron clad” faithfulness, everlasting love, and always-amazing grace on Joni’s life. Joni is a living example to us all, to strive to be like Christ, making holiness our daily pursuit.ReplyCancel

    • July 21, 2017 - 5:21 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Ama. It was such a joy to talk to you.ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2017 - 5:00 pm

    Barbara Allen - Thank you for sharing what you have learned from zjoni and her “storm”. I can identify with what you have witnessed. My brother, at age 19 was injured in a football accident and has been a quad for 47 years (if I have the years right). God brought a lovely young nurse into his life, they married, and have three adopted daughters and one natural born son. Like Joni, he has determined to live for Christ and ministers in so many ways to others. He has been used in Michigan to help handicap people learn how they can become independent. Their family has attended and benefited from Joni and Friends Csmps. From theses two, who struggle to get ready to meet each new day I have gained a new love and respect for those who have physical difficulties and do not use what they go through as an excuse for not allowing Gid to use them. Your article was a good reminder for me, a 76 year old, who still works and desires to be used of God in all I do.ReplyCancel

    • July 23, 2017 - 9:03 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you so much for sharing that, Barbara. Your brother sounds like an amazing man. I love hearing about people who honor the Lord, even in the worst of circumstances. It’s such an inspiration to us all.ReplyCancel

  • July 25, 2017 - 8:39 am

    Cheryl - Reading about Joni was very moving and made me realize how small my troubles are. I remember hearing about Joni’s story, and watching the movie about her life, but it’s been years since I’ve read about her life today. Thank you so much for sharing.ReplyCancel

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begged God+

 

In the middle of giving a talk a few years ago, I almost broke down. As I was recounting how I had begged God to save the life of my son, I felt my chest tighten. I remembered how desperate I felt. How sure I was that my begging would be effective. How much I wanted God to do what I had asked.

After all, he is God. Nothing is impossible for him. I had never wanted anything so much in my life, and it was almost inconceivable that God would say “no” to such an earnest request. It seemed good and right and in keeping with God’s character.

But God did say “no.” Even as I was pleading for my son’s life, he was dying. How does a good God let that happen? I couldn’t understand that. And I remembered with vivid clarity many other times that I had begged God for things that he refused.  As a child, I begged God to heal me. In my twenties, I begged God to repair a broken romantic relationship. And several years ago, I begged God to bring my husband back.

I wondered even as I was speaking, “Why doesn’t God answer my deepest prayers?” Of course, I had thought through my theology before delivering my message. My talk was about finding God in the middle of our mess. The point of my talk was that God uses all things in our lives for our joy and his glory.

But as I was saying the words, “I begged God…” I was flooded with the emotions that I had felt decades earlier. Once again, I felt the raw pain of begging God and wondering why he had not answered me the way I wanted. At the time, I had felt abandoned. At the time, it seemed as though God didn’t care at all.

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  • July 6, 2017 - 11:16 pm

    Marquida - Beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • July 7, 2017 - 4:18 pm

    MIke R - Thank you, Vanessa. Your comment, “…temporary pleasures and perpetual emptiness” is truly what I would choose, if left up to me. I have often failed to see that to be free of sickness is a temporary pleasure. It is the crucible of trial that has given you your ministry…and your credentials, a PhD in Pain and Suffering.

    “…smooth sailing in spiritually shallow waters” is another truth that applies to me. I want relief from trials, not to know God in the great depth. A magic wand instead of spiritual surgery. Happy mountain instead of dark valley. And honorary PhD instead of one that is earned.ReplyCancel

    • July 8, 2017 - 4:43 pm

      Vaneetha - A PhD in pain and suffering. Great analogy. Judging from your past comments, Mike, I know you have earned this degree yourself. Though not probably what you would have chosen, one day it will indeed reap untold rewards.ReplyCancel

  • July 7, 2017 - 5:48 pm

    Cindy - Vaneetha, this has put a big lump in my throat. Thank you for sharing your heart. One day in heaven….ReplyCancel

    • July 8, 2017 - 4:41 pm

      Vaneetha - You’re welcome, Cindy…it will be so great to meet all of our fellow sufferers and saints in heaven!ReplyCancel

  • July 7, 2017 - 7:46 pm

    Effie Darlene Barba - Beautifully written. I hope you enjoy this poem I wrote and that it will warm your heart whenever a bad day comes

    TO GOD-MY LOVE, MY HOPE, MY JOY

    My life-so filled with hopes and dreams
    Lay shattered at Your feet
    So many tears, so many pains
    I laid before Your seat

    Can I look upon Your face of love
    And question what You’ve done?
    For You have been my only hope
    My only morning sun

    You’ve seen my heart when crushed with pain
    Your hands have held it tight
    When I have been so weak, so frail
    You’ve shown Your strength, Your might

    You’ve held me close within Your arms
    When darkness filled my night
    And when I could not see my way
    Your eyes, they gave me sight

    I lay my life within Your hands
    That You may heal my soul
    And keep my eyes upon You Lord
    That I may reach Your goal

    Shine forth Your grace, Your mercy Lord
    And let me be Your light
    That all may see Your eyes of love
    The blind, they might have sight

    Let not the sorrows, nor the pains
    Bring bitterness within
    And give me strength to walk this path
    Protect my heart from sin

    I lay my heart, my soul, my dreams
    Before Your throne of love
    I lift my eyes to You, My God
    And seek Your will above

    You are the only one I need
    To fill my heart with glee
    It is Your face, my one true love
    Tis all I need to see

    So lift me up and hold me close
    Reveal Your love divine
    That through the holes within my heart
    A world might see You shine

    And if the sorrows of my past
    Can touch a wayward one
    I thank you Lord for each dark path
    That lead them to Your son

    I praise You now from mountains high
    For each dark path I’ve trod
    Twas there I found Your heart, Your love
    Twas there I found You God

    What great and wondrous joy I know
    Because You are my king
    And though the path I cannot see
    My heart will trust and sing

    A song of praise unto You Lord
    Who knows what’s best for me
    You’ll hold my hand and lead me on
    In darkness, I can see

    Your love, Your help, Your guiding hand
    Is all I’ll ever need
    So hold me close unto Your path
    For this is all I plead

    I’ll skip with joy along this path
    Though darkness may surround
    Because I know You hold my hand
    My feet will e’er touch ground

    I cannot fall outside Your love
    I cannot lose my way
    I’ll hold my broken dreams once more
    And see them real, one day

    A song of praise unto You Lord
    Who knows what’s best for me
    You’ll hold my hand and lead me on
    In darkness, I can see

    Your love, Your help, Your guiding hand
    Is all I’ll ever need
    So hold me close unto Your path
    For this is all I pleadReplyCancel

  • July 7, 2017 - 11:48 pm

    Chuck Bean - And the struggles that have shaped you, continue to be used by God to bring comfort, truth and balance to my life. “He is not a tame lion.” (CS Lewis)ReplyCancel

    • July 8, 2017 - 4:45 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Chuck. So very thankful there is no waste in God’s economy…He uses everything.ReplyCancel

  • July 10, 2017 - 7:54 am

    Crystal - Wonderful article Vaneetha! It reminds me of the words Job said:

    “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”
    – Job 13:15ReplyCancel

  • July 10, 2017 - 8:49 am

    Sharon - Dear Vaneetha. I thank God every time I read your blog because He always gives you the right words to say to reach so many when we’re hurting. I’ve asked for the easy way out on many occasions too like mos sharot of us do but I can see some of the time why He says no. Sometimes I can’t. I’m back at a cross roads in my life again , single parenthood and substandard health except this time I know I have my Father at my side holding me up. Something I didn’t realise last time so I thought I needed to work it out myself but now I know my Father is sorting it out in the background the way He, not I needs it to be done. It’s still hard for me to get my head around it at times but looking back through all thst happens i see that i have received many blessings from Him too which keeps my encouaged when I’m feeling overwhelmed with life. Your blogs are teaching me how to take one day at a time and just ride with the flow as difficult as it at times. I needed to read your words today. Bless you sharonReplyCancel

    • July 17, 2017 - 8:56 pm

      Vaneetha - So thankful God used this, Sharon. Praying for you now that He would comfort you as you walk through this difficult season.ReplyCancel

  • July 11, 2017 - 1:58 pm

    Barbara H. - Thanks so much for this. Nearly 30 years ago when I was suffering from an illness which left me unable to walk for a time, Lamentations 3:19-33 were a major help for me, especially verses 32-33: “But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.” Knowing that these trials had some kind of purpose, even if I didn’t know what it was yet, was a comfort.ReplyCancel

  • July 12, 2017 - 3:22 pm

    Kanko - This is edifying on so many levels. I praise the Lord for you Vaneetha, I do!ReplyCancel

    • July 17, 2017 - 8:52 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Kanko. So glad this was helpful to you!ReplyCancel

  • July 15, 2017 - 10:35 am

    Laudable Linkage | Stray Thoughts - […] But I Begged God. […]ReplyCancel

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depend on+

 

In a world of continual loss, what can I count on? Can I trust anything to be unchangeable?

For years, I assumed there were things I could depend on. Things that would be there when I grew old. Things like my marriage. My children. My health and independence. My intellect. Financial security. A fulfilling career. Deep friendships. I built my identity around many of these things, certain I wouldn’t lose them.

But I did lose many of them. Often unexpectedly. Losses started piling up in my early thirties and didn’t stop.

Our infant son Paul’s death was a huge shock, as my long-held assumption that my family would somehow be protected from disaster was shattered. Well-meaning people kept assuring me when Paul’s heart condition was discovered during my pregnancy that nothing bad would happen if I trusted God and prayed fervently. It all depended on my faith. So I prayed and trusted and begged God to give me the faith I needed.

But standing at Paul’s grave, I was jolted into the realization that nothing is certain. A strong faith does not shield me from loss.  God knows what’s best for me and all he brings into my life is for my eternal joy.

I still hold onto that truth, yet it is only in retrospect that I can find comfort in it. In the moment of loss, I feel overwhelmed. I want to cling to what I had.

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  • June 22, 2017 - 7:52 pm

    Dawn - I am sorry for the losses through out your life. I very much enjoy and relate to your articles, (although my losses are nothing compared to yours). Keep inspiring us. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • June 22, 2017 - 8:46 pm

      Vaneetha - Glad my articles are helpful, Dawn! Thanks for writing.ReplyCancel

  • June 23, 2017 - 9:14 am

    Julia Lund - Dear Vaneetha,

    Thank you for all you share. I recently read your book, The Scars that have Shaped Me, and it helped me navigate the early stages of huge changes, due to poor health, in my life. I recently lost one of my dearest friends to breast cancer, and she, like you, knew the reality of an utterly good and kind God. Though life is shaken and certainties dissolve, our God does not change and it’s the witness of people like my dear friend, like yourself, that help build faith and keep me focussed on truth. Thank you.

    JuliaReplyCancel

    • June 23, 2017 - 3:18 pm

      Vaneetha - I’m so sorry, Julia, both for your own struggles and the loss of your dear friend. Sometimes it’s hard to keep pressing on in the midst of overwhelming grief. I too am thankful that God doesn’t change, even though the earth gives way and the mountains are moved into the heart of the sea.ReplyCancel

  • June 23, 2017 - 11:10 am

    Jann - I am on a similar path to yours, and so appreciate your understanding and encouragement. So much in this world is overwhelming to me now. And, friends often don’t understand. Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • June 23, 2017 - 3:13 pm

      Vaneetha - I’m so sorry your life is overwhelming right now. I’ve been there. Praying now that the Lord Himself would encourage you and bring joy in the midst of darkness.ReplyCancel

  • June 23, 2017 - 11:39 am

    Cindy Brown - Thank you Vaneetha. I love your posts because they are so real, so true, so encouraging. Until heaven..ReplyCancel

    • June 23, 2017 - 3:20 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Cindy. “Until heaven…” Love that.ReplyCancel

  • June 23, 2017 - 12:08 pm

    Mike R - Vaneetha, you have turned your own suffering into a ministry to others. Today I find comfort for my own trials, only because you have traveled this road longer than I have and you can say, “Look! There is Christ! And he is more than enough.” You comfort others with the comfort that God has given you. Today you described precisely what I am facing as I try to juggle my life with increasing deterioration. Not only am I not able to do what needs to be done, even doing what I can do is too much.

    Here’s an analogy for those who may not understand. Stable disability is like this–you have a daily allowance to spend. Each morning you get your fresh amount of money to spend anyway you wish. Some activities cost a lot. Some just a little. If you manage your money well, you can plan things pretty well. Even creatively spread them out through the week.

    Progressive disability is like a bank account that will never receive another deposit. You don’t know what the balance is, only that everything you choose to do spends some of your remaining money. The more energy an activity requires, the larger the withdrawal. Worse, once in a while, for no apparent reason, the bank advises you that the balance has been reduced by a new fee. Oh, and by the way, they are still unable to tell you how much remains, just that it is less than you thought you had.

    I sit here this morning knowing that the peaches and plums need to be picked off the trees in the backyard, or the fruit will go to waste. My wife cannot pick them but she so loves that fresh fruit more than almost any food. She has poor health, but those silly stone fruit, fresh from the tree, bring her joy in eating and in giving to others. The kitchen sink is leaking and must be fixed. And next week I must go and cut weeds for a few hours at my ranch to reduce the fire hazard. My church members have helped a lot, but they have jobs and can’t do it all for me.

    Oh, if it were it were just the juggling of activities! Each one of those tasks will take a little more away from my failing knees. They will inflame my muscles, something I am told to avoid as it can worsen my condition. And any of them will land me on the couch or bed for a day or two trying to recover. And somehow I need to work things out that they don’t keep me from being able to attend worship.

    I’ve eliminated most of my trips to the barber, tied my trip to the grocery store in with the weekly prayer meeting. Reduced walking to the mail box to every three days. Learned how to waddle up the stairs one at a time. Moved everything but the toilet to my couch so I do have to get up and down to retrieve things during the day. Reduced my wardrobe to jeans and T-shirts to make laundry easy, and have gotten used to living in a cluttered and unkept house. Soap scum on the shower wall is now décor–a natural patina.

    Do I just stop living? That is bad, too. Insufficient activity, the doctors say, is also bad for me. Somebody give me a crazy pill!

    But then there is God. Each day brings me to him as a beggar. Despite all of this I can say that it is good that I have been afflicted. Vanity Fair has been shown to be a false God. Suddenly the salvation of my neighbors and relatives becomes more important than anything in this life. Heaven becomes something to be yearned for. God becomes large. Jesus becomes real.

    Prayers for healing become prayers for mercy, which become attempts to bargain, which become despair, which leads me to bow my head before God. Suddenly I find myself in Psalms, tears in my eyes, understanding what the psalmist meant when he wrote, “It is good that I was afflicted.” When this life becomes impossible, there is only Jesus. And he is enough. He is more than enough. He is life.ReplyCancel

    • June 23, 2017 - 3:07 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you so much for writing, Mike. Your words are always so poignant and encouraging. The bank analogy is exactly what they use for post-polio, so I deeply resonated with it. Praying for you as I write this that God would give you wisdom to know what you should do, and grace for all you can’t do. And joy in His presence.ReplyCancel

  • June 23, 2017 - 12:55 pm

    Elaine - The losses heartache all wake us up to living a real and authentic walk with the Lord. No matter how difficult the walk is we wouldn’t want any other way. You are one of the real, authentic and honest believers and enjoy what you share. Blessings on you, around you, over you dear Vaneetha.ReplyCancel

    • June 23, 2017 - 3:09 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Elaine. And I agree that trials make our walk with God much deeper, and in retrospect we see their Value. And it is precious.ReplyCancel

  • June 23, 2017 - 1:05 pm

    Martha Enns - Vaneetha, thank you for sharing honestly and openly. Praising God He is the constant and never changes. Loss and suffering are so difficult, but I thank God how He uses you because of what you have gone through, to encourage others and continually point them to Christ. He is all we need. Often praying for you, keep persevering dear sister. Much love and blessings.ReplyCancel

  • June 24, 2017 - 6:38 am

    Cindy Lewellyn - Your life has been full of pain and suffering, but God has used this to bring you closer to Him, and to be a beacon of hope for others. I appreciate your honesty, that you have struggles, find it hard to cope with it all, yet also have found strength and purpose in the Lord. Your writing is your ministry, and it helps point others to God, the One in whom we have hope and strength to endure life’s hardships. I do not understand why God allows His children to experience so much suffering in this world, but am thankful that this world is not all we have! I have been overwhelmed after the deaths of my parents, 12 days apart, layers of hurt and betrayals, and my husband’s progressive MS that has taken such a toll on his body. Some days I feel like I am barely hanging on to my faith, so your words are more encouraging than you know, helping me refocus on the Lord and not just on the pain and hurts of this life.ReplyCancel

    • June 24, 2017 - 5:11 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Cindy. I’m so sorry for all you are dealing with, which I can imagine has been beyond difficult. When struggles almost flood us with their frequency and intensity, its hard to understand what God is doing. But thankfully He is doing something, something beautiful and good, that one day we will see fully. In the meantime, you, me, all of us, must walk by faith and not sight…ReplyCancel

  • June 24, 2017 - 12:31 pm

    Arnette Bargabus - Dear Vaneetha — As I read this article, it rang true for me — almost everything you express is true in my life. Thank you for putting into word your heart’s desire to give it ALL to Him – it is mine as well.

    “But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD. I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand; Psalm 31:14-15

    Praying for you as your journey and journal.

    A sister in Christ,
    xxxooo ArnetteReplyCancel

    • June 24, 2017 - 5:05 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Annette for your prayers and encouragement.ReplyCancel

  • June 25, 2017 - 3:54 pm

    Michael Anderson - i too have experienced loss and pain with bad health and divorce after 26 yrs of marriage-i have screamed at GODReplyCancel

    • July 6, 2017 - 11:45 am

      Vaneetha - I’m so sorry for your losses, Michael. I am sure they have been painful and continue to be. Praying as I write this that God would comfort you as you pour out to Him all of your pain, lament and questions.ReplyCancel

  • June 30, 2017 - 9:12 am

    Sharon overstreet - Looking forward to your bookReplyCancel

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pride of numbers+

 

My mom isn’t swayed by numbers.

I am.

She faithfully teaches the Bible study at their church, preparing for hours each week. While there is often a good crowd, sometimes just a few show up. Bad weather, illness, vacations all affect attendance, but it never matters to her. She’s happy to teach whomever comes. But I find it hard to prepare a lesson all week only to find out that just a handful can make it.

Mom always reminds me that numbers mean nothing. She says, “I’m fine having a small crowd. I know that God has appointed who is going to be there. I remember teaching Sunday school classes when only one child showed up. Those were always my best lessons because I could focus on one person. Besides, some of Jesus best sermons were given to an audience of one.”

I’m ashamed at my desire for many.

I look back at the times I’ve been disappointed because only a few people have shown up to a talk. Somehow I place my value in numbers.

It’s all about pride. Thinking my effort should be maximized. Thinking greater numbers mean greater impact. Thinking it’s all about me.

As I reflect on the ways God has used me, I am reminded of an unforgettable Bible Study, when God showed me the value of “one.” View full post »

  • June 9, 2017 - 10:49 am

    MIke R - It seems like Isaiah 55:8-9 is written all over you post. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

    I needed this TODAY, as I am facing a tough time physically, doing what I can no longer do. Prior to my change in health, I had gone from a long career in health care to working on a rural property. Oh, the joy of doing something with my hands in the wide open air. God had blessed my efforts as I found that I could live on half of my prior income and was learning all sorts of basic skills. And I saw amazing things happen. My anxieties about making far less money proved silly. God provided in ways I could have never seen, otherwise.

    And then came illness and disability. What now? Today I’m off to work on my property to begin the long process of selling it. The work seems impossible, and it sometimes is literally impossible. But God works through it and in it. I was always a self-sufficient man (and proud about it). Now I have to pray all the time for small things to get done. And that opens my eyes to the incredible way he provides for all of us.

    Well, I’m off for a rough day, wondering how it will get done. I was harboring dread this morning, but then came this article, reminding me that “numbers” are not important. I lamented that I would only be able to work for 2 hours rather than all day, as I did when I was healthy. And I will need a friend to help, even then. But God is not limited. His strength is made manifest in my weakness. Oh, not enough physical work will happen in my my eyes, but I am learning that Gods economy is above my comprehension. Bless you for your writing. May I learn to stop trying to fit God into my little box of limitations.ReplyCancel

    • June 11, 2017 - 5:55 pm

      Vaneetha - Thanks, Mike. I constantly need to be reminded not to fit God into my little box of limitations too…ReplyCancel

  • June 9, 2017 - 8:00 pm

    Jerry - Hi I’m Jerry from Indonesia. I’m (sometimes feel blessed,sometimes cursed) to work in finance and stock market where everything is about numbers and tangibles. I need constant reminder about life’s true priorities and right way of seeing things from articles like yours here. Thanks for writing it. God bless you.ReplyCancel

    • June 11, 2017 - 5:59 pm

      Vaneetha - I worked in finance briefly and so I understand the temptation to measure success by the world’s standards. Of course, I still do it in other ways, but the financial world is particularly numbers driven. Thanks for writing, Jerry.ReplyCancel

  • June 10, 2017 - 10:56 am

    Kathy - Thank you for writing this and sharing it. The blogging world keeps telling us that we need more numbers of likes and email subscribers. It’s so easy to lose sight of the reason I started my blog: to encourage us to lean on Jesus in our weakness and infirmities. Thank you for reminding me. Did you start your Bible study as a individual or through your church?ReplyCancel

    • June 11, 2017 - 6:03 pm

      Vaneetha - I write (mostly)to remind myself of truth that I need to hear! So glad it was helpful to you. We started our study with a few believing women in my neighborhood. We do it every summer- this is our 22nd one!ReplyCancel

  • June 12, 2017 - 6:40 am

    Janet K - A friend shared your blog as one I would find helpful and I do! I always read it in its entirety when it comes and am blessed. Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • June 12, 2017 - 10:20 pm

      Vaneetha - I”m so glad its been helpful, Janet. Thanks for writing!ReplyCancel

  • June 15, 2017 - 1:03 am

    Van de Casteele - Hi, i am Josiane from Belgium, thank you for these beauthiful words, it thouches my heart.ReplyCancel

  • June 16, 2017 - 1:07 pm

    Victor Enite Abu - I recently deactivated my Facebook account because I felt like I was losing focus on the need to share my faith with others. I had gotten carried away by the likes and recognition by friends and I was always seeking for means to revalidate myself through my posts.. I decided to call it quits for a while and focus on Christ.
    This message has ministered to me in many ways.ReplyCancel

    • June 18, 2017 - 2:43 pm

      Vaneetha - Facebook can be such a trap, can’t it? I struggle with it myself as I love “likes” and “shares” and need to consciously stop looking at them and put my worth and value in Jesus. Thanks for your honesty and your example, Victor.ReplyCancel

  • June 16, 2017 - 3:18 pm

    Barbara H. - I’m here from a link on the True Woman site, and wanted to let you know I appreciate this. Sometimes I get caught up in numbers, too, feeling that I am sharing good truth and wish more people were hearing it. 🙂 But maybe God knows I couldn’t handle that. He wants me to be faithful to Him, whoever He sends along to read or hear. One friend said it helped her to think about it as feeding whoever came to the table, no matter how many or how few.ReplyCancel

    • June 18, 2017 - 2:49 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you for that example. I love this, “one friend said it helped her to think about it as feeding whoever came to the table, no matter how many or how few.” What a good word.

      Ironically and sadly, when I saw that True Woman site (which I love) mentioned it, I was so happy they liked it enough to link to it. Obviously I need to reread my own post about numbers and recognition. Clearly I need it more than anyone else!ReplyCancel

  • June 17, 2017 - 7:25 am

    Barbara Smith - Thank you so much for this. Last year, at the request of “many,” I began leading a Bible study in my home. Week by week, few showed, but one always did. We finished our study and *I* decided not to do another. The one has mentioned how she’s missed it and I have felt the gentle tugging of our Father to begin again. Through you, I have finally received His message in full and will begin anew, even if it is only for me and the one. After all, where two or more are gathered… Thank you for this post. May His Name be praised!ReplyCancel

    • June 18, 2017 - 2:52 pm

      Vaneetha - Praise God for your obedience, Barbara! I totally understand how hard it is do a Bible Study with just a few, or only one. I still struggle with it but God is continuing to teach me to look to him for what “success” is.ReplyCancel

  • June 19, 2017 - 5:51 am

    jassy - hi. i thank God i stumbled upon this post. this helps me with what I am going through right now. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • June 24, 2017 - 2:09 pm

    Laudable Linkage | Stray Thoughts - […] The Numbers Trap, HT to True Woman. […]ReplyCancel

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