Unwrapping a Sweet Lesson
I opened the front door. “Yikes! You scared me,” I screamed feigning fright. “Who’s that?” I peered down at the three-foot little person.
He wore a mask framed with wild hair, black and purple. A huge lumpy nose, droopy eyes, and a mouth revealing jagged teeth gave a new meaning to the word ‘ugly’.
A muffled, “Trick or treat” wafted from behind the mask.
“Goodness, you really scared me.” I chuckled as I dropped hard candy into the orange plastic pumpkin.
Those are memories of times my little boys also dressed in strange costumes and dashed from house to house with their daddy trailing behind. I stayed home greeting the neighborhood trick-or-treaters.
But now, years later, Halloween masks resemble those I try to slip on. They come in handy to cover the real me.
When people ask me how I lost my sight, I give the routine answer: “A retinal disease deteriorated my retina and took my sight.”
A simple answer to a simple question.
When asked about how I dealt with the unexpected tragedy, that’s a different story. I’m tempted to pull down the mask over my heart and give a bland answer.
“It was tough at first, but in time, I adjusted.”
But underneath that mask is a whole different script with the real answers: “I wanted to die, I hated my life, I wanted to give up, and wondered if my little boys would survive with a mommy who couldn’t see.”
Then God’s Word nudged me to remove that mask and allow the glow of truth to shine through.
The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth. Proverbs 12:22 NLT
In obedience, I resolved that when asked a question, I would give information reflecting what truly stirred in my heart.
Here are the results:
- When my words are strung with honesty without omissions, deletions, or embellishments, I can breathe easier.
- When the mask is off, the air is fresher and the view is clearer.
When it comes to sharing my feelings or relating events in my life, I’ve developed a motto: Don’t omit the negative nor squelch the positive.
Not long ago, a good friend called and asked about my writing. I started to blurt out that it was great, moving along fabulously, and my agent is working on my behalf.
Gulp. Masks are stuffy, binding, and often ugly. Instead, I decided to slip the mask off. And with conviction, the truth shines—although my agent is working for me, I’m furiously laboring on the first edit. Writing a novel is grueling. It’s demanding. And at times, the work is so hard it makes me wonder if I’m really supposed to be doing this.
Ah! The feeling of telling the real scenario with honesty is like opening the window to a stuffy room; letting the fresh Spring breeze come in and caress your face.
While our little ones dip into that candy, the sweetest thing we can unwrap for them is the lesson to speak the truth. The trick is to obey God’s Word and the treat is the image reflected in the mirror that sparkles with honesty.
Psalms 119:67, 71 67Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.
71It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
There are times when we need affliction, be it physical, mental, or emotional. If it is indeed good for us, as the psalmist here declares, we should be careful not to ask to be delivered from it too soon. We are to pray for the healing of one another, yet we need to discern God’s timing for that healing. Some would consider all afflictions the work of Satan that must be rebuked and immediately healed. There are times when Jesus healed all, that is, all that came to Him (Luke 6:19). There are other times when He walked through a crowd of sick folks to pick out one person who was to be healed (John 5:3).
When we are afflicted we should look for a lesson to be learned or an insight to be gained. We learned from Job that even though Satan may bring the affliction, God uses it to reveal Himself to us. It may be a time of stretching your faith and trust in God. It may be an opportunity to be still and learn in what way your decisions have varied from God’s leading.
In this passage the psalmist implies he was not obeying the Word of God. His illness was due to his straying from God’s Word. So, when we are ill, we should look to see if our lives are lined up with the Word of God. In the second verse he said the affliction was good for him because through it he learned what God had decreed. Our lives often get in such a busy state that we tend to run on autopilot. An affliction stops us in our tracks and shows us that life goes on even when we stop our busyness. If we are too busy to hear, God may, in His mercy, stop us with affliction so that we will take time to get His direction. Which would you prefer, a week of the flu, or a fatal head-on?
Remember: Next time you are afflicted, first ask what God wants to work in your life through the affliction. Recognize it is good for you. Then, after you have heard God’s answer, pray for healing.
Streams in the Desert – October 30
- 202130 Oct
Let us run with patience (Hebrews 12:1).
To run with patience is a very difficult thing. Running is apt to suggest the absence of patience, the eagerness to reach the goal. We commonly associate patience with lying down. We think of it as the angel that guards the couch of the invalid. Yet, I do not think the invalid’s patience the hardest to achieve.
There is a patience which I believe to be harder–the patience that can run. To lie down in the time of grief, to be quiet under the stroke of adverse fortune, implies a great strength; but I know of something that implies a strength greater still: It is the power to work under a stroke; to have a great weight at your heart and still to run; to have a deep anguish in your spirit and still perform the daily task. It is a Christlike thing!
Many of us would nurse our grief without crying if we were allowed to nurse it. The hard thing is that most of us are called to exercise our patience, not in bed, but in the street. We are called to bury our sorrows, not in lethargic quiescence, but in active service–in the exchange, in the workshop, in the hour of social intercourse, in the contribution to another’s joy. There is no burial of sorrow so difficult as that; it is the “running with patience.”
This was Thy patience, O Son of man! It was at once a waiting and a running–a waiting for the goal, and a doing of the lesser work meantime. I see Thee at Cana turning the water into wine lest the marriage feast should be clouded. I see Thee in the desert feeding a multitude with bread just to relieve a temporary want. All, all the time, Thou wert bearing a mighty grief, unshared, unspoken. Men ask for a rainbow in the cloud; but I would ask more from Thee. I would be, in my cloud, myself a rainbow — a minister to others’ joy. My patience will be perfect when it can work in the vineyard.
When all our hopes are gone,
‘Tis well our hands must keep toiling on
For others’ sake:
For strength to bear is found in duty done;
And he is best indeed who learns to make
The joy of others cure his own heartache.
“Sibbecai the Hushathite struck and killed Saph, who was among the descendants of the giant … There was war at Gath again, where there was a man of great stature … he also had been born to the giant.” – 2 Samuel 21:18, 20 NASB
David emerged as a hero when he killed the giant Goliath. As a result, he was asked to lead the army of Israel. Under his command, Israel experienced many victories. Yet Israel never was freed completely from threats. Even after the death of Goliath, there were more giants in the land.
David and his men learned to stay vigilant. They had to be prepared to face these giants as well as other foes. They would have ongoing battles and always needed to be alert and ready to fight.
This is a picture of the spiritual warfare we face each day! We may feel relieved after winning a victory, but we cannot let down our guard.
In David’s time, they learned there were many kinds of giants. In similar ways, today we face many adversaries. Our enemy, the devil and his demons, never stops attacking or looking for weaknesses to exploit.
In Jesus’ name and through the power of the Holy Spirit, you have authority over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19). But you still can be attacked. You still need to be prepared. Make sure you are on guard and alert all the time.
Remember that our adversary “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Stay vigilant, armed, and ready for battle. You are protected by the armor of God and the shield of faith. Stand firm (Ephesians 6:10-18).