God Ordained Darkness

Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Jonah 1:17

It wasn’t until Jesus showed me that my husband was just as broken as I was that I began to see my husband through new eyes and with a new heart . . . a heart of grace rather than with an attitude of accusation, while learning to be as patient and loving with him as Jesus had been with me.

Winston Churchill wrote, 

“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”

God’s word tells us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb. 13:8) Therefore, Jesus is Lord over our past, present, and future. Before I understood that, I used my past as ammunition against those who had wounded me while justifying my actions, wrong as they were. Sin can always find ways to justify itself. I spent far too many years wading through the muck and mire of my past, and my attitude was beginning to reek with the stench of bitterness, anger, and contempt.

Eventually, I learned that the only way to revisit my past was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as He walked me safely and securely through the maze of the most painful and confusing times of my life. With gentleness and compassion, He revealed to me of gross misinterpretations and misunderstandings with others in my life who were just as damaged as I was, and how those deeply embedded feelings and ideas became a door of opportunity for the enemy to use his most effective weapons against me, and I fell for every lie.

Jesus also revealed to me of His constant Presence and Protection, even when I chose to go my own direction. I shudder now to think of what could and likely would have happened without His divine protection and intervention, and my love for God grows deeper still. I also will never forget the night I felt God remove my awareness of His Presence from me. I believe He was still there; He just allowed me at that moment and for a short season to feel the absolute void and darkness of a life without Him. I had taken Him for granted for so long, thinking I could hide from Him.

However, there are consequences for playing games with God, like the story of Felix after hearing Paul preach of righteousness, self-control, and future judgment, he said to Paul, “Go away for the present, and when I find the time I will summon you.” (Acts 24:25)

And that’s exactly what I was saying to God.

“Go away for now, and when I find the time I will summon you.” 

More so, when I find the right time—the time that I decide—when I’m finally ready to get serious about what I’ve been calling myself for years—a Christian.

Sound familiar?

The problem is, 

Sin doesn’t tell time; it knows only how to makes excuses.

So, I am thankful for that period of God-ordained darkness, my season in the belly of the abyss. God’s deliverance was one of power and pain, of blessing and bitterness, of glorious truths and gut-wrenching realities, and of struggles and supplications, until I finally found myself safely on the shoreline of my calling.  (Jonah 2:10) 

Thank you, Father, for restoring to me the joy of Your salvation and creating a clean heart within me to sustain me as I enjoy the full life to which I was originally called. Forgive me for buying into the lies of the enemy even while I declared my love for You. Thank you for revealing to me how broken people so easily hurt others and how my brokenness only added to the chaos. It boggles my mind now to even imagine how I could think that way. I am so grateful for the freedom I have in Christ and for the means with which to share that with others. Help me to do so with grace and love, through Jesus Christ, amen.  (Psalm 51:10, John 10:10, John 8:36, Ps. 90:17, Colossians 3:23-24)

Open my eyes, Lord!

I am blind as a bat without my contacts or glasses. I am not too far off from the long-standing eye doctor joke, ending with, 

“What chart?”

I’m not sure exactly how long I went thinking the world around me was blurry. Maybe I thought everybody saw the same thing I did. I do remember in the fifth grade, my desk was located in the farthest row possible from the blackboard. (Yes, I know blackboard dates me) I had discovered that if I pulled out on the outer corners of my eyes, that my vision became clearer, long enough for me to read the blackboard. I learned later doing that was actually reshaping the eyes, thus clearing up the vision. It certainly worked, but I looked like an idiot and it tied up my hands. 
My teacher consulted with my mom, and it was off to the optometrist for me. I would soon reappear fitted with those lovely “cat” glasses of the early 70’s. But, it was the trip home with my new glasses that left a lasting impression. I’m sure I resembled the family pet in the front seat as I sat gazing out the window at my new surroundings. For the first time, I was seeing things like birds, high line wires (I knew there were poles, but no wires), individual leaves on trees, house numbers, clouds, airplanes and even faces at a distance …..things I could not see before. I was amazed! I was beholding a whole new world. 
Years ago, a pastor friend of mine, gave me invaluable insight into a “whole new world”. As a spiritual toddler at that time, I was developing a hunger for The Word and wanted to be able to read it and understand it accurately, but some of it was “fuzzy” to me.  He recommended that each time I sat down to read, to first pray using the scripture from Psalm 119:18, 
“Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from your law.”
And God honors His Word! The fascination I had experienced as a child beholding my new world with my “new eyes” was a mere flicker in comparison to the unspeakable wonderment I have beheld in the light of God’s Word. And each new year, God continues to reveal new things to me as I pray and seek His Word, beginning always with “Open my eyes, Lord…..” 
If God’s Word seems “fuzzy” to you, I encourage you to pray Psalm 119:18 the next time you sit down to read and see if you do not behold wonderful new things.  No matter where you are spiritually or what stage you are in, God will open your eyes to what may be needed for the moment or perhaps even a new direction He desires for you.  You will stand amazed as you behold a whole new world! 

Is your perception of me merely a reflection of you?

“They think you are stuck up.”  
The words of a friend cut through me like a searing knife. 

“They said you snubbed them when you walked by.” 

She was talking about a group of girls from the opposing team we were playing at a high school basketball game in 1976. I walked by the group while on my way to the concession stand. The thing was—I didn’t snub them. I was actually completely intimidated by them, so I kept my eyes on the path directly in front of me, trying my best not to trip over my fear.

Our perceptions of others, we learn, are not always reality. Perceptions can be biased, often skewed by factors such as our background, culture, past experiences, misinformation, attitudes and even emotions, and are often the very reflection of our own messed-up selves.

"We see the world, not as it is, but as we are." -- Talmud

Divine Appointments

He loves His children so much and gives us each day just what we need for that day. 

One afternoon, a young man came to our home to install a new “high-tech” thermostat. Little did I know, or he, it would turn into one of those precious “God moments”. 

As soon as the contractor entered our home, I felt an instant connection with him, and he confirmed that connection within only a few minutes. He was a brother-in Christ. So we enjoyed our faith discussion on and off as he worked. 

After about an hour, he wrapped things up and prepared to leave, and with a deep sigh he added he still had a long trip ahead of him to another customer. He was tired. I felt I needed to ask if I could pray for him before he left. He eagerly accepted and removed his hat. 

I will admit to you that asking to pray for someone is still a bit difficult for me, and it truly is an act of obedience. However, it does seem the more I do it, the easier it becomes, and the more I also begin to see that it’s not so much about my words, but about God speaking through me if I allow Him. He can’t speak through a closed mouth. 
“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27) 
The words began to flow out of my mouth with ease, and it actually shocked me a little. I continued until I felt it was time to stop. 

“Amen and amen.”  So it is, and so it shall be. 

I looked up and the young man was wiping his face. He went on to share that the prayer confirmed what he felt the Lord was calling him to do. In addition, it gave him a peace and comfort regarding his life right now. He revealed that he had just lost his wife, the mother of their young children, two months ago to an aneurism, and times were very difficult for them. Now the prayer made sense. Once again, I stood in awe of the goodness and faithfulness of God and how He can use someone as flawed as me to bring a word of encouragement to someone in need.

Making yourself available to God can align you with some of the most awesome experiences.  With God, there are always hidden blessings. Just when I had begun to wonder if I was doing anything, or if I was making any difference at all, God assigned an appointment, giving me a booster shot, so to speak. Glory to God!

Give God permission to use you to comfort others and I promise you, He will provide the opportunities. Ask Him for the desires of His heart and He will give you those desires for your heart. And when He brings it, be obedient, and allow the Spirit of God to minister through you, and you will be blessed indeed. 
"Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak." (Col. 4:2-4, KJV)
Stay alert. Keep your eyes open. Watch with eagerness for those opportunities which the Lord brings into your day and often right into your path, even when you least expect it. Fine tune your spirit with prayer and a hunger to fulfill God's will for that day. There is an appointment coming with your name on it.

Lord of Glory, God of all comfort, thank you for Your goodness and lovingkindness. Thank you for the Prince of Peace who guards our hearts and our minds in difficult times. Help us Lord, to receive all that is ours in Christ today, for our specific needs. Use me, Lord, to comfort others as You lead. I give You permission now, in Jesus’ name, Amen and amen.


I remember the day I held our firstborn in my arms, and suddenly our lives were changed forever. We weren't really sure we even knew what to do with this new blessing. But like all parents, we learned. In fun, I remember calculating the year of his high school graduation. At that time, 1999 sounded eons away. But then--we blinked--and it was here. We blinked again…and our middle son left in 2002. One more blink…and our daughter left in 2006. 

And as quickly as we became new parents, we became empty-nesters, and suddenly our lives were changed again. And again, we weren't really sure we even knew what to do with this new blessing.