The act of writing, of sharing the circumstances, the gifts and the graces planned and carried out by my Savior and God brings joy, peace, and contentment to know that He has my life in His hands. My prayer for those who read, who share in what I continue to learn each day, many times through my weakness, is that you will be encouraged to look for God's presence and grace in your life also.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
"Count it all joy...."
In retrospect, God's preparation for that Sunday and the days and years that have followed was crucial to how I would respond to the changes and the subsequent decision to continue to care for Larry, to carry out the vow I had made just eight-and-a-half years earlier.
Some women have said to me, "God knew that you would be able to take care of him. You are so strong!"
A few others have said they would do just as I had done if anything were to happen to their husband, but I know in my mind, that I wouldn't have. If I had known ahead of time what was going to happen, I would have run the other direction as fast as I could. But praise the Lord, I didn't know and while I didn't know what was coming, my wonderful Lord because of His steadfast love and faithfulness was preparing me, growing me in the knowledge and wisdom of His grace.
Funny thing is the preparation centers around the one thing—our knowing Him through His Word.
All those verses I had learned growing up in Sunday School and then in Vacation Bible School became very real to me. In those early years of my life, I earned many awards for Scripture memory. I even memorized whole chapters at a time and once for my memory work earned a week at Junior High Summer Bible Camp, a life changing experience.
Because of injuries in the accident, I ended up with double vision for months and found reading exhausting since I had to wear a patch on one eye, alternating eyes each day. But the verses I knew by heart came back one after the other as I got up each morning giving me comfort, truth and guidance.
"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
II Corinthians 2:9
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galations 2:20
"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
One passage that I said over and over again, especially as I laid down to sleep was Psalms 23....
"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever."
God was leading me. I wasn't alone. He was right there, in me, strengthening me. Since that day, I have been in the process of learning to be more and more aware of His presence. The Holy Spirit is always there reminding me of truth, leading the way, praying for me, helping me to be honest about myself and my dependence on God.
Soon after the accident I began receiving advice from friends and family about what I should do. But when the advice came, the Holy Spirit was able to impress on me certain verses of truth from Scripture that really kept me on that level path I talked about here. [click on here and it will take you there.]
I'm sure each of you can only imagine some of the advice—a few actually thought I should divorce Larry, "After all, you have your whole life ahead of you."
Or "You have needs that Larry can no longer meet."
"What about the children? You need to focus on raising them, not taking care of Larry."
Most of the time this came from those who weren't believers but some of it came from people I respected. Sometimes I wondered if they were right....as time went on, I realized it would be easier if I didn't have Larry's 24/7 care to deal with.
But always, always, the Spirit reminded me of the vow I had taken on August 17, 1968.
"...for better or for worse, in sickness and in health." This was certainly the "worse" and "sickness" part of that vow, but God had promised to never give me more than I could handle. Paul had said we would have trials.
I Peter 4:12
Just a few months before the accident, I had told my Lord that I wanted to be used by Him to bless others, to reach others with the Truth of His Gospel. I often thought about that request of mine and knew from the book of James that God has a purpose for our trials and running away wasn't the solution. Joy was.
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4 ESV