Category Archives: Testimony

What Would You Give for the Pearl of Great Value? Part 1

44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

45 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”

Matthew 13:44-46  NLT

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure, like a pearl of great value…  Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, Son of Man, King of kings and Lord of Lords, is the Treasure; He is that Pearl of great value!  Now, when the merchant and the man discovered this great Treasure, (Jesus), what did they do?  They sold everything they owned, so they could get that treasure.  There was nothing more important to them than getting that Treasure, the Pearl of great value.  Likewise, nothing should be more important to us than Jesus, our Pearl of great value…

23 Then He said to the crowd, If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow Me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. 25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? 26 If anyone is ashamed of Me and My message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when He returns in His glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:23-27  NLT

These words of Jesus are offensive to most people, including we, who call ourselves Christians.  Instead of trying to follow Jesus on our own terms, we must do as He says…

23 Jesus replied, All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make Our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me.

John 14:23-24  NLT

Do you love Jesus?  If you do, you will obey Him.  If you don’t obey Him, then you don’t love Him.  Do my words sound harsh?  They’re not my words.  Jesus said they’re not even His own words, but those of His Father. 

Before you take offense at what I’ve written, I should let you know that it’s taken me almost a week to write about this Pearl of great value, because I’ve had to deal with the fact that I haven’t been treating Jesus like the Treasure He is, for far too long…

Father, please forgive me for giving up on You.  Forgive me for doubting, Lord, help my unbelief!  Please forgive me for ignoring You, Lord, my Pearl of great value.  Forgive me, Lord, for trying to live on my own terms, and for refusing to carry my cross daily, following You.  Forgive me, my Lord, for trying to hang on to my life as I wanted it to be, instead of giving it up for Your will, instead.  Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love.  According to the greatness of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions, and cleanse me from my sins.  Against You, and You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are just when You speak, and blameless when You judge…

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit away from me.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.  Then, I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You!

As we study this parable about the treasure and the pearl of great value, the story of the rich young man immediately came to my mind.  Do you remember how the young man questioned Jesus about how to obtain eternal life?

17 As Jesus was starting out on His way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to Him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”

20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Mark 10:17-22  NLT

This man seemed to do everything right.  He obeyed all of God’s commands, but when he stood before (Jesus) the Pearl of great value, he failed to recognize His worth.  Although he was willing to obey God’s law, he was unwilling to give up his earthly treasures, unlike the merchant and the man, who discovered the buried Treasure and the Pearl of great value.  Jesus, who felt genuine love for this man, even tried to make everything clear to him, saying that if he sold everything, he would have Treasure in heaven, but the man failed to recognize the Treasure (Jesus) speaking to him… and so, with a sad look on his face, the man walked away from the greatest Treasure he could ever hope for, because he already had so many possessions that he couldn’t bear to part from…

23 Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” 24 This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. 25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

26 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

Mark 10:23-27  NLT

Hear me now…  People throughout the world are seeing Jesus’ miracles, signs and wonders, even in this day and age, while here in the United States, we see few, if any.  Do you wonder why this is?  It is because we already have so many treasures of our own, that we don’t hunger or thirst for that Pearl of great value.  Even the poor of this nation, (and I am counted among the poor) are not truly poor in comparison to the rest of the world…

You see, though I have very little money to live on each month, it is still more than others around the world have…  I still have plenty of food to eat…  I have a car (it’s old, but it’s paid for, and it runs)…  I have a computer…  I have medical care when needed…  Do you see?  In this nation that I love, I lack for nothing that I need, and I praise God for that.

Yet, this fact remains.  My poverty is not poverty as the world knows it.  Because all of my needs were met when I was able to work, and now they are met by the government, to whom do I run, first, when another need arises?  Who am I depending on?  When my back pain became unbearable, did I turn to Jesus first?  Or did I turn to the doctor?  When the doctors could offer me no help for the pain, and offered instead, a very risky surgery that could do more harm than good, was I angry with the doctors?  Or did I get angry with Jesus, that Pearl of great value, who still hasn’t healed me in the last four or five years? 

Until right now, I haven’t even admitted this to myself.  I stopped asking Jesus to heal me, because I didn’t want to be disappointed if He didn’t.  So, I became more and more depressed, for the last four years, and my faith began to shrink.  I just gave up on the great Treasure.  Now, instead of praying regularly, I seldom bothered to talk to Him.  Instead of enjoying His presence, I wallowed in my pain.  Unlike Job, when I lost my health, I also lost much of my faith… much of it, but not all of it. 

For the God who saved me many years ago, remained faithful to me, in spite of my unfaithfulness.  Though I had lost hope in Him, in His great mercy, He restored my hope.  Then, as I began this study, about the great Treasure, I was convicted, because I have neglected this Pearl of great value.  How could I write about this great Treasure, when I have failed to fully appreciate His value?

For almost a week, I watched TV, played video games, and did what I could, to ignore this study.  I didn’t want to think about it.  I didn’t want to deal with the fact that I had not treated Jesus as the great and wonderful Treasure that He is.  Then, yesterday, as I tried to nap, I heard a still small voice whispering to my spirit, and reminding me of other times when He’s healed me.  In 2004, I had a hyperactive thyroid that was so bad, the doctor was talking about doing a procedure to burn out my thyroid gland.  I was taking blood pressure medicine, and still my blood pressure was through the roof.  I shook with tremors constantly.  My heart rate was super high, and I suffered many other symptoms because of it, but I remember praying for God to heal me one night at church, and He did!  To this day, my thyroid is normal, and so is my blood pressure, heart rate, etc.  

As I thought of how the Lord has healed me in the past, I felt His presence strongly, and felt as though He was saying, “Trust Me. Ask Me to help you, and believe that I can and I will do it for you.”  I had stopped asking Him to heal my back several years ago, after living with the pain for more than a year, because I couldn’t bear the thought of asking Him for this, and being disappointed.  Instead, I chose to live with no hope, and without hope, there is only disappointment…  

Then I began to wonder,  “What if I’m the one who keeps derailing me?  What if God is ready to heal me, but I keep giving up on Him, before He can act?  What if He chooses not to heal my back?  Does this in any way devalue Him?  Is He not still, the great Treasure?  Isn’t He still the Pearl of great value?”

There is much more to this study, but for today, I leave you with this thought…  Is Jesus your great Treasure?  Is He your Pearl of great value?  Or do you, like I have done, treat Him as something of much lesser value?

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

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He Restores My Soul

Survival

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate? Here are the steps to get started. (Prompt idea by Biola ‘Leye.)


In response to today’s Daily Prompt, I’m simply going to share yesterday’s post, which is the best example of my current survival story.  Because of God’s grace, I’m not only a survivor, He has made me an overcomer!


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:3-4  NASB

For the last four years, I was in a dark and heavy place, and though I still breathed, I was dead.  You see, I was in the valley of the shadow of death, and in all truth, it was so overwhelming, that I gave up.  In the depths of my pain, both physical, emotional and spiritual, I fell down in that dark and deadly valley, and I had no will to get up and begin walking through it.  I just didn’t have the strength.  I thought my life was over, and what a horrible way to leave this world.  My faith was shaken, my heart and my body were broken, and so, I spent almost four years, sitting in my recliner and feeling sorry for myself.

Meanwhile, the dark valley of the shadow of death just got darker and darker, until the darkness was so thick and oppressive, that I was overwhelmed by fear and hopelessness.  My physical pain was so great, that I took multiple pain medicines, all prescribed by my doctors, and instead of lessening my pain, they only helped me to sleep through the last four years.  My mental and emotional state was so fractured, that I needed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications to stop the pain inside my heart.  The problem with this was that these meds only helped me to stop caring.  They stopped the strong emotions that all of us were born feeling.  The sad thing is, though the anti-depressants were supposed to stop those painful feelings, in truth, they stopped my feelings of life and joy and hope, while the pain never completely subsided.

teen-prescription-drug-abuse

And then, two weeks ago today, I stopped taking all of my medication – cold turkey.  Hear me, beloved, this is not the smartest way to stop taking addictive pain medications and anti-depressants, unless the Lord leads you to do so.  The Lord led me to do this, and I went through withdrawal, but amazingly, it wasn’t as bad as I was afraid it might be.  I had headaches, diarrhea, hot flashes, chills, nausea, and extreme weakness.  I cried when I read, cried when someone spoke to me, cried when no one spoke to me.  I just cried, and cried a lot.  And yet, despite these side-effects, life began to stir within me.  I was feeling.  I was alive.  My emotions had awakened, and even more important, my spirit awakened.

As for the chronic back pain that I have suffered with, for the last four years, it’s not that much worse without the pain meds.  Indeed, I now realize that they weren’t helping my pain at all.  If anything, they caused a whole different kind of pain, on top of what I was already suffering, and now that I’m no longer going through withdrawal (thanks be to God!), I find that while living with chronic pain can be devastating, living with deadened feelings and the emotional pain that comes from that, is infinitely worse.

I share all of this, not because I want sympathy or pity, but because I want to testify about what God has done to me.  I was dead, although I continued to breathe.  I could no longer hear the voice of the Lord through the fog that surrounded me, and consequentially, I lost hope.  I lost my joy, and those who have worshiped with me in the past, know that God has given me a wonderful spirit of joy.  Indeed, the joy of the Lord was my strength, and when I lost that joy, my strength ebbed away.

After leading me to stop taking all of my medications (yes, every single one of them!), something amazing happened, in the midst of going through withdrawal, and feeling pretty rough, some of the thoughts that have tormented me for the last four years returned to me.  In the last four years, I had to stop leading prison ministry, which I loved doing… I lost my job, because I was no longer able to work due to the pain… My husband and I became impoverished (no exaggeration)… My mother died, and a month later, my daughter and her family moved over 700 miles away… My daughter-in-law went through brain surgery, and she and her husband moved nearly 325 miles away… I had no ministry… I lost my family…

Suddenly, for the first time in four years, I heard the voice of the Lord, clearly – not through a dark foggy tunnel.  “Cheryl, My beloved, I have given you all of your heart’s desires.  You never dreamed of a career.  All you ever wanted was to get married and have children, so that you would finally have a family who loves you.  I gave you a husband who has loved you and treasured you for more than 35 years.  I gave you two children, who married, blessing  you with two more children, and they love you and treasure you.  Even though you came from a small family, you always wanted a big family.  I’ve given you 10 grandchildren.  You have that big family, and though they are far from you now, they are closer to you than many, whose children live near them.  Yes, you have chronic back and leg pain, but you are loved by your family.  More importantly, child, you are loved by Me, and that’s why I have given you your heart’s desires.  You are no longer able to minister in prison, but your ministry has not ended.  It has changed.  Now you minister by writing according to My will.  Even though you have suffered, My Son suffered more, for your sake.  Even though you were impoverished, I still moved on the hearts of others, to give you a home to live in, and food to eat.  Beloved daughter, your future is secure.”

As I heard those words so clearly, the withdrawal symptoms and my physical pain became tolerable.  I suddenly realized how blessed I am, and I repented and asked the Lord to forgive me for not appreciating all that He’s done for me.  And then, in the midst of going through withdrawal, I began to praise Him for giving me my heart’s desires.

Then, last night, I read a post about an upcoming evening worship service, and the Spirit within me leapt for joy.  You see, in the last four years, I’ve only been to corporate worship services a handful of times, because Sunday mornings are so difficult for me.  Arising early in the morning has been impossible for me, because the pain is always worst in the mornings, and when you stop attending worship services, you lose contact with the friends you had made over the years, because their lives have moved in different directions than yours.  Also, I felt lowly in the sight of faithful church attenders, because I was no longer able to attend regularly, and I was sure they were judging me as one who was lost.  Indeed, some did judge me, but certainly not everyone, as I had thought, in the midst of my depression.

Also, there were a small handful of people, who genuinely loved me, even while I was in such a dark place.  Many people have lots of friends, but I never have.  However, the few friends that I do have, are priceless.  Those friends sought me out, when I had shut myself away.  They prayed for me, and encouraged me, even when they were unable to visit me.  Two friends in particular stand out to me, my beloved friend Tammy, who would talk to me and encourage me on Facebook, and my beloved friend Laura, who lives with chronic pain as well.  Yet despite her chronic pain, Laura has gone out of her way to visit me, pray for me, listen to me and love me, even when I was unlovable.  You see, God didn’t give me a bunch of friends.  Instead, He chose to give me just a few exceptional friends that I truly treasure.  I remember, during my depression, thinking that if I died, no one would come to my funeral, and be there for my husband, and perhaps there won’t be, but God will be there for him, if anything ever happens to me, and really, how many people have the kind of friends that I do?  Many simply have a lot of acquaintances.  I am blessed.

You see, the demons from hell may have thought that I was down for the count.  I thought so, but that’s because I had been blinded to the great power of the God who loves me and created me.  You see, He has always pursued me with His love, and He will always continue to do so.

Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Psalm 23:6  NLT

The most wonderful thing to happen to me these last two weeks is the realization that came to me last night, as I was rejoicing over the upcoming worship service I’m attending.  For, the Lord has restored my soul.  I can feel, love and rejoice again.  I have hope in the God who has loved me, when no one else did.  I have hope in this God who has healed me from so many other problems, and now He has once again healed me and delivered  me from prescription drug addiction and a four year bout with the darkest depression imaginable.  Hallelujah, I am alive again.  He has restored my soul!  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:3-4  NASB

I have shared this testimony for two reasons.  First of all, I share this testimony to give others hope.  For if God would deliver me from living in darkness and death, He will surely do the same for you as well, if you will allow Him to.  You must simply obey His voice.  In my case, He commanded that I stop taking all drugs, and He made it unbearable for me to continue taking them, despite what the doctors said.  I don’t know what He will command you to do, but whatever He commands, do it!  Then, watch Him restore your soul!

The second reason I have shared this testimony is very simple.  I share my testimony for my sake and for the sake of others who read it as well.   There is still a devil who wants to steal from me, kill me and destroy me.  Indeed, he very nearly did, except for the unfailing love of the Father, who loves me.  He wants to do the same to you.  Therefore, there is only one way to overcome him, and that is by the blood of the Lamb, which has already been shed on my behalf, and by the word of my testimony.  You see, in the face of Jesus’ blood, and my testimony of Christ’s salvation and the goodness of God, the enemy is overcome!  He is defeated.

10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,

“It has come at last—
    salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of His Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
    has been thrown down to earth—
the one who accuses them
    before our God day and night.
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
    and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
    that they were afraid to die.

Revelation 12:10-11  NLT

Beloved reader, whether you are dealing with the same or different issues, be encouraged.  The God who unfailingly loves me, loves you just as much as He loves me, and He wants to heal and deliver you from the dark hole that you may find yourself in.  Simply cry out to Him in Jesus’ name, listen for His command – then obey Him!  Fear not!

13 But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. 14 The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Exodus 14:13-14  NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

My Forever Friend

Friend

by Ben Huberman

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

I am a woman who is truly blessed.  I don’t have a lot of friends, but the friends I do have are wonderful, and would do anything for me, and I would do anything for them too.  My husband of 35 years has been my best friend, and rock, through many trials in my life.  Frankly, I don’t know how I could have gotten through many of those trials, if it hadn’t been for him.

Yet, much as I love my husband, when I read the prompt, “friend,” the One that I thought of was Jesus.  Jesus knew me before I was born.

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. 

Ephesians 1:4 NLT

When I think about that, it blows my mind.  I don’t know you, but I do know me, and if I’m going to be totally honest with you, I was not born holy and without fault.  In my life, I’ve lied and cheated, cursed God and others, and murdered those whom I hated in my heart.  Yet, in spite of this, Jesus chose me!

16 You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name.

John 15:16 NLT

Not only did He choose me,  but He chose me to be holy and without fault in His eyes, and the only way for me to be holy and without fault, would be for Him to recreate me.  And, He did just that!

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
16 for through Him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through Him and for Him... 

…  21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result, He has brought you into His own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault.

Colossians 1:15-16, 21-22 NLT

Imagine that!  I was an enemy  of Christ, yet He chose me!  Then, through His death and resurrection, He changed me and brought me into His presence and presented me holy and blameless, without a single fault to His Father.  How amazing!

Yet, as wonderful, merciful and kind as all of this was, it wasn’t enough for my Savior.  I would have been happy to be His servant all the days of my life, but Jesus had a better plan…

John 15-9

I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. 10 When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is My commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in His slaves. Now you are My friends, since I have told you everything the Father told Me. 16 You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name. 17 This is My command: Love each other.

John 15:9-17 NLT

This scripture passage explains the relationship I have with my best Friend, Jesus.  The first sentence sums up His feelings for me, when He says, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me.”  Jesus is the One and only Son of God, the Father, and here, He states unequivocally, that He loves me (and all of His disciples), the same way His Father loves Him.

As a woman, I can’t say that I know for certain how a father loves his son.  However, I would imagine that a father’s love for his son would certainly be as strong as a mother’s love for her son, and as a mother, I have a fierce love for my children.  I would go to war to protect my children from harm, and when I think of the love God has for His Son, I know that it must be stronger than you and I could ever imagine.  Therefore, when Jesus said, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me,” He was speaking as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  He was speaking of a strong and passionate love, that we cannot, in the frailty of our human emotions and thoughts, even begin to conceive.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Jesus then ordered His disciples (all who love Him and follow Him), to remain in His love.  The Greek word for “remain” in this passage is menō, which means:

    1. to remain, abide

      1. in reference to place

        1. to sojourn, tarry

        2. not to depart

          1. to continue to be present

          2. to be held, kept, continually

      2. in reference to time

        1. to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure

          1. of persons, to survive, live

      3. in reference to state or condition

        1. to remain as one, not to become another or different

    2. to wait for, await one

When we examine the Greek meaning for this word, we get a clear understanding of what Jesus meant when He ordered His disciples (those of us who follow Him too!) to remain in His love.  He was saying, “Stay here in My love.  Don’t depart from My love.  Tarry (wait) in My love.  Continually be present, here in My love.  Endure, survive, live in My love.  Remain as you are now, in My love.  Wait, here in My love for Me.”

He was essentially saying that He wants us to remain in His love, just as He remains in His Father’s love.  In other words, He wasn’t asking us to do anything more than He did, by remaining in His Fathers love.  Honestly, I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be, than in the midst of His love.

So, how does one go about remaining in Jesus’ love?  He makes this abundantly clear to us…

10 When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.

John 15:10 NLT

The way to remain in Christ’s love is to obey Him.  Obedience isn’t a very popular concept in today’s culture.  Indeed, most people prefer to live in total rebellion to God’s word.  Yet Jesus says that if we obey His commandments, we remain in His love, as He obeys His Father’s commands and remains in His love.  Many people look at obedience as drudgery, but Jesus’ outlook on obedience was entirely different…

11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

John 15:11 NLT

He wants us to be filled with His joy, so He tells us to obey Him and remain in His love, so that our joy will overflow!  So, what exactly are we supposed to obey, in order to be filled with this overflowing joy???

12 This is My commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:12-13

Jesus’ commandment is a very simple one.  We are commanded to love each other, the same way He has loved us, stating that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  We are afforded the hindsight to understand that Jesus spoke these words to His disciples on the night before He was crucified.  They had no way of knowing, as we do, that Jesus was getting ready to demonstrate His great love for His beloved friends, (which includes every disciple then and since then), by laying down His own life, for all of mankind…

Then, He finishes this discourse by telling His disciples how much they (and we) meant to Him…

14 You are My friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a Master doesn’t confide in His slaves. Now you are My friends, since I have told you everything the Father told Me. 16 You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name. 17 This is My command: Love each other.

John 15:14-17 NLT

If I remain in Christ’s love, by loving my fellow disciples, then I am no longer merely His servant.  When I am obedient to His command to love one another, I have become a friend of Jesus Christ, Messiah, the Anointed One, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

It is as I remain in the love of my best Friend, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that I am able to love others, as He loved me.  It is because of His great love, (He calls me His friend!), that I am filled to overflowing with unending joy.  How thankful I am to have the Friend, who sticks closer than a brother.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Fight the Good Fight

Fight

by Ben Huberman

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate?


What does it mean to fight, and is there ever a good reason to fight?  Is there anything worth fighting for?  Or against?

There are several different definitions for the word fight, in dictionary.com.  However, for the sake of this post, I will use the following definition:


verb (used without object), fought, fighting.

7.

to engage in battle or in single combat; attempt to defend oneself against or to subdue, defeat, or destroy an adversary.

8.

to contend in any manner; strive vigorously for or against something:

He fought bravely against despair.
verb (used with object), fought, fighting.

9.

to contend with in battle or combat; war against:

England fought Germany.

10.

to contend with or against in any manner:

We are currently living in a time, when many of the values that we hold dear in our hearts, are being turned upside down, and those of us, who call ourselves Christians, are expected to accept these changes silently.  If we don’t, we run the risk of being labeled “intolerant,” “homophobes,” “bigots,” “haters,” or worse.  So, we’re left with a question, “Do we strive and fight against these changes that seem to be inevitable, no matter what we do?  Or do we meekly accept the changes that grieve our very souls, in order to keep the peace?”

Fought the Good Fight
I’ve thought and prayed long and hard about these things, and, no matter what the world thinks of me, in the end, I have to be true, not to myself, but to the God and Creator of the universe, the One whom I serve, and love with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength.  When I am at the end of life, here on earth, as we know it now, and I meet with my Father, face to face, I want to be able to look at Him and say, the same words that the Apostle Paul said at the end of his life…

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.


So, what things are worth fighting for?  Certainly the lives of those, who are unable to care for or defend themselves, specifically unborn children.  Although, those who have been pro-choice have tried, for years, to claim that life begins only after a baby is born and takes his/her first breath, ultrasound and many other tests that are done routinely, prove otherwise.

Those of us who are pro-life, know that the instant the sperm fertilizes the egg, life begins, because in order to grow, something must be alive.  We know this from a physical standpoint, when at 12 weeks, we are  first able to hear the heartbeat of that unborn baby, and we know this from a spiritual standpoint, because scripture tells us of this fact…

 


13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in Your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

Psalm 139:13-16 NLT

The Lord gave me this message:

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
    Before you were born I set you apart
    and appointed you as My prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 1:4-5 NLT


Psalm 139-16

According to  the word of God, we live before we are even born, because He already knows us, even then.  Now, whether someone shares my spiritual beliefs or not, is beside the point, because I believe this with all my  heart, and because I believe this, I must fight for the life of every unborn child.  An unborn baby is  not merely a parasite, he/she is a living human.  Therefore, according to the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Regardless of whether you agree with me or not, the fact is, that abortion is the murder of an unborn baby.   Whenever someone snuffs out the life of the unborn child, you are stealing the very rights that every man, woman and child has been endowed with.  With every life that has been taken by means of abortion, you are taking the place of their Creator, and saying that their life is not as important as the mother’s life.  With each abortion, that is performed in this country that guarantees these rights, the child is denied the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

These are the very things our forefathers believed were worth fighting for.  Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are God-given rights (They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…), NOT man-made rights.  Therefore, mankind DOES NOT have the right to take away someone else’s rights, whether those of grown men and women, those of little children and infants, or those of babies, who have yet to draw their first breath, while they grow in the safety of their mothers’ wombs.

As a follower of Christ, I must fight the good fight for these precious children, who are unable to speak for themselves…  Jesus made His love for children very clear, and He also made it clear that those who harm children have a heavy price to pay…

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”

Jesus called a little child to Him and put the child among them. Then He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalf is welcoming Me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in Me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Matthew 18:1-5 NLT

Beloved readers, when I think of the millions of abortions that have been performed in the United States, since Roe vs. Wade in 1973, my heart breaks, because for every single one of those millions of unborn babies who was not welcomed into this world, millions of mothers, fathers, nurses and doctors were not only denying the children their right to live, they were also telling Jesus that He was not welcome in their lives either.

So we come back to the word fight.  Are there things worth fighting for?  Absolutely.  It is certainly worth fighting for the life of every unborn child, who has yet to draw his/her first breath.  Is there anything worth fighting against?  Again, the answer is absolutely.  Until we draw our  final breath, we must fight against evil, no matter what form it takes.

We must fight against the evil of racism, whether it comes in the form of white men hating black, hispanics or other ethnic groups, or whether black men hate white men.  For, no matter what form it comes in, racism is ugly, and those who hate others because of their skin  tone, also hate the God and Creator, who created ALL MANKIND in His image.

We must fight against the evil of sin, in every form, because it, like cancer, kills.  Until we draw our last breath, we must fight against hatred, bitterness, cruelty, and anger.

We must fight against anything that is detrimental to the family, as God created it to be.  For, in order to truly create a family, there needs to be a father (a man), and a mother (a woman).  Since the beginning of time, this has been the only way for a child to be conceived.  Without a man’s sperm, and the woman’s egg joining, mankind will cease to exist, and the fact remains that no matter how man has tried to alter this fact, both a man’s sperm, and a woman’s egg are still required to create life, and it will always be this way, no matter how man may try to alter or procreate in other ways.

Perhaps many of you  are now calling me intolerant, because I say that homosexuality and lesbianism are abhorrent to creation, because no matter what attempts they may make to change this, it cannot be done.  Lesbian women still need man’s sperm cells in order to procreate, and homosexual men still need women’s eggs and their uterus, in order for procreation to occur.  I didn’t design it this way, God our Creator did.  In fact, the Apostle Paul felt that homosexuality was a battle worth fighting over, more than 2 thousand years ago…

24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator Himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, He abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

Romans 1:24-32  NLT

Now, more than 2 thousand years later, this is still a fight worth fighting.  Numerous children are being led astray by the lies the homosexual community spouts as they try to convince the public that homosexuality and lesbianism are normal, and should be accepted by all.  Yet, the fact remains that this lifestyle is not, nor has it ever been normal or right.  Those who choose to maintain this lifestyle choice do so, in rebellion to God, our Creator.

Ephesians 6-12

I’m sure that there are some, who are very angry and offended by what I have written here, but I don’t write these words to stir up strife.  Let me be very clear to all who question my motives, I do not hate homosexuals and lesbiansIndeed, I love them, for they are men and women, just like those of us who do not participate in that lifestyle.

My children have done many things that I didn’t like, when they were growing up.  Indeed, the truth is, that I hated some of the things they did, but I never once hated my children.  I never once stopped loving them.  The same holds true with those who call themselves gay.  Although I hate the homosexual acts they commit, and though I abhor many of the things they say, I don’t hate them.

Perhaps some of you reading, think me intolerant, and you’re absolutely correct.  As I have stated all along, in this post, there are some things that are worth fighting for, and some things worth fighting against.  Homosexuality, lesbianism, transgenderism, beastiality, pedophilia and other sexually deviant practices are sin against one’s own body, and against the bodies of others, and should not be tolerated, much less encouraged, under any circumstance, and while I have breath, I will speak out against such practices, and I will write against them, because such lifestyles are unhealthy and deadly.

More importantly, I fight against these things, regardless of the consequences, because these practices are against God’s will, and when I stand before my maker one day, I want to be able to say these words to my Lord and Savior:

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

2 Timothy 4:6-7 NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Don’t Tell a Soul!

Evasive Action

by Michelle W.

What’s the most significant secret you’ve ever kept? Did the truth ever come out?


Don’t Tell a Soul!

I grew up in a house of secrecy, where things weren’t what they seemed.  To the world outside, we seemed to be a normal, happy family, but inside, was a different story.  That’s not to say there weren’t happy times, because there were.  However, the abuse within, made my happiness fleeting.

Within the house, there was a lot of fear, anger and bitterness, which was hidden from the rest of the world.  The most significant secret I ever kept was when my stepfather began molesting me as a little girl, and for several years after.

The first time it happened, I did exactly what they tell children to do in school…  I called my mother at work, and told her what he had done to me.  Thus, the biggest secret in our household began.  I called my mother at work, around 3:00 that afternoon, as soon as the man I called “Daddy” left the house.  As soon as Mom answered the phone, I burst into tears and told her what my “Daddy” had done to me.  She spoke softly, so no one else in the office could hear her, “Did he rape you?” she queried.

“No,” I responded as I tried to hold back my tears and listen to her.

“Okay,” Mommy replied.  “Your sister will be home in a few minutes, so you should be alright until I get off work.  He won’t do anything else to you, while she’s there.  Now don’t say anything to her, because you don’t want to hurt her, right?”

“Yes Mommy.  I won’t tell her.”

“Good.  We’ll talk about this more, when I get off work tonight. Okay?”

“Okay, Mommy.”  I was disappointed that she wasn’t going to come home right away and hold me, because I was so scared.  I then began to imagine what would happen when Mommy got home from work.

I pictured her coming home and telling my “Daddy” to leave, and never come back.  Things would be hard, I figured, but I would help my Mommy with the cooking and cleaning, and I would take care of my little sister, too.  It would be hard, but we loved each other, so it would work out.

Isn’t it sad that things seldom turn out the way we hope and imagine they will?  When my mother got home from work, instead of confronting my stepfather with the truth, she kept the fact that she knew the truth, secret.  Instead, she simply told him that I had called her up and told her that I was afraid of him.  He then, kept His secret from her, and responded that I was afraid of him, because I had been bad, and he’d had to spank me.

My mother, then came to my room, and asked if my stepfather had spanked me for being bad.  I was genuinely confused.  “No Mommy.  I told you what happened.”

She nodded her head, and then said, “I don’t think you have anything to worry about anymore.  I told him you’re afraid of him, and he said you’re afraid because he had to spank you.”

“But Mommy, that’s not true!”  I cried.

She nodded and continued, “Now, don’t tell your sister what happened.  You don’t want to hurt her, do you?”

“Okay,” I choked out, but inside, I was crying, “What about me???  Don’t you care about hurting me?”

“One more thing,” my mother said.  “Your daddy wants to talk to you.  Okay?”

What could I say?  Did I really have a choice?  “Okay,” I said, trying not to cry.

Mom walked out, and a few minutes later, my stepfather entered my room.  I had a hard time looking at him.  My eyes stared into the distance, at nothing.  I just couldn’t make myself look at him, as he told me that he had talked to Mom and told her that he had spanked me, and that’s why I was afraid of him.  He told me not to say anything else to Mom or anyone else, because I didn’t want to hurt my sister, did I?  I’d already been through this with Mom, so I just nodded my head in agreement.  He then left my room, and Mom entered the room again.

“I don’t think you have to worry about anything happening again, but if it does, just let me know, and we’ll figure out what to do next, okay?”  I nodded silently, as she continued.  “Let’s not tell anyone about what happened, okay?  You don’t want to destroy our family, do you?”  I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders, as I agreed to keep the horrible secret.  It was abundantly clear that my feelings, and my safety weren’t as important as everyone else.

And so, I kept my secret for more than twenty years, because I didn’t want to destroy my family.  Meanwhile, over the years, I felt as though my life was crumbling around me.  I felt unloved and unlovable, until I met Jesus, who began to rock my world.

As I came to know and love Jesus, He began to speak truth to me.  It was He who told me my worth…

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

Psalm 139:13-14  NASB

As He began speaking life to me, He also spoke the truth to me.  It was He who led me to let go of the lies and the secrets that had bound me for so many years…

Layout 1

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

Psalm 51:6  NLT

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32  NLT

Jesus wanted me to let go of all the lies and secrets, and to begin living my life in truth.  I wanted to obey Him, but I was extremely frightened.  After living for most of my life shrouded by secrets and lies, I was afraid to let go of them, and begin living a life of truth.  What if I destroyed the family?  Finally, after living a life of secrecy and lies for most of my life, with the love of the Lord enveloping me, I broke the vow of secrecy that I had been forced to agree to, as a child.

I was terribly afraid that when I revealed the truth, I would destroy my family, but it didn’t.  When I first revealed the truth, my family drew closer together, in their anger and rage against me.  It broke my heart, as it became clear that my pain didn’t matter to them.  Yet, although my family turned against me, God was closer to me than ever before, as were my husband and my children…

Even if my father and mother abandon me,
    the Lord will hold me close.

Psalm 27:10  NLT

I can truly say that during that difficult time, God remained close to me.  And though my family forsook me, He held me close.  Eventually, over time, I was able to make peace with my family, though my stepfather never repented or apologized for the sin he had committed against me.  He went to his grave without apologizing to me, even though he had claimed that I had caused him to molest me.

Now, twenty years after revealing that terrible secret that I had held onto for so long, I can honestly say that I am thankful the Lord helped me release that secret.  You see, as long as I held onto that secret, I also held onto the lies that I had been told…

… the lie that it was my fault that I was molested.

… the lie that if I told the truth, I would destroy my family.

… the lie that my feelings didn’t matter.

… the lie that I was unimportant.

I no longer hold onto secrets and lies, because I’ve been set free from the terrible secrets and lies that destroyed my life for so many long years.  That’s why I’m so grateful to Jesus for setting me free…

32 “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:32  NLT

36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

John 8:36  NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Victory in Jesus

Victory-In-Lord-Jesus-Christ-impending-doom-8956674-1024-768

17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.  

(James 4:17 NLT)

I haven’t written anything in months and months.  Actually, it’s been more than a year since I’ve written anything.  I’ve been dealing with pain and medication issues, sleep depravation, and depression, so to tell the truth, I just haven’t felt like writing, and the few times I started to write something, I fell asleep.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t spent a lot of time reading or studying God’s word.  Truth be told, I haven’t spent much time with Him either.  So, when I saw something that reminded me of the scripture above, I felt motivated to do something good.  Therefore, even as I write this, another scripture comes to mind, and I am sure the Lord is speaking to me, yet when I just now turned to that scripture, so I could paste it here, I backed up so I could read the scripture in its context, and again, I can hear the Lord patiently speaking to my heart…

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

(Philippians 4:4-9  NLT)

I’m in the midst of a spiritual battle, which has been raging against me and wreaking havoc in my life for three and a half years, and the truth is, at some point, not too far into this battle, I gave up.  Unlike Paul, the apostle of Christ, I stopped fighting the good fight.  And I deceived myself into believing I couldn’t do anything about it, because I can’t do the things I used to do.  Yet now, as I write, I again hear the Lord’s voice whispering to me…

10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,

“It has come at last—
Salvation and power
And the Kingdom of our God,
And the authority of His Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
Has been thrown down to earth—
The one who accuses them
Before our God day and night.
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
And by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
That they were afraid to die.

I sense the Lord urging me to share my testimony of the last few years, that led me to my current state.  I feel Him pressing me to once again, place the belt of truth around my waist as I wear the rest of God’s armor and carry the sword of the Spirit.  So, please, bear with me, as I take you back approximately three and a half years.

I had been in constant pain for more than a year.  My back hurt so bad, that it felt as though it would snap in two, yet I struggled to hold on to my job, because neither my husband or I are rich, but it was getting more and more difficult to go to work.  I can remember praying as I walked across the employee parking lot to the building, “Please Lord, help me take just one more step.  Oh God, help me to make it to the building.  Lord Jesus, please help me.”  The pain was excruciating, but it didn’t end once I was in the building.  Then, I had to pray for Him to help me walk down to the basement and to the time clock.  Then, once I punched in, I prayed for the Lord to help me walk all the way down the long hall to my office.  It was horrible, and it got to the point that I started writing my time down and having someone initial it, so I could have my co-worker in the office, who did payroll along with me, manually enter my time into the system when I clocked in and out.  The pain got so bad, that I would avoid going to the bathroom, which was just next door to my office, until I absolutely had to go, because it hurt so bad to walk.  Then, at lunchtime, my co-worker would go and get my lunch for me, so I could remain sitting.  Of course, sitting at the desk all day caused another kind of pain, but it was certainly more tolerable than standing or walking.

My mother, who lived in the nursing home, where I was employed, lived two extremely long corridors down from my office, and my pain was so terrible, that I stopped visiting her as often, and when I did, I waited until I got off, and made the long walk to my car, then drove around to see her.  I came to regret that I didn’t visit her more often, but in all honesty, I was struggling just to make it through the day, and by the time I got off, I was in too much pain, and I was just too exhausted to visit her.

I wasn’t sleeping at night either, because the pain kept me awake. Therefore, my husband had to drive me to work the last few months, because I was in so much pain, and I was so worn out, that I was afraid of falling asleep at the wheel.  I started missing more and more time, and at the end of August, my boss told me I’d better file for FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), or I was in danger of losing my job, so, I filed for intermittent FMLA.  However, when my boss and the HR (Human Resources) department saw my many diagnoses and my prognosis, they told me that I didn’t qualify for intermittent FMLA.  Instead, I would have to go out on a full FMLA, and I couldn’t return to work, until my doctor signed a release stating that I was now able to work full-time.  Both the company and I knew that I wouldn’t be returning, and so, August 31, 2012 was the last day I worked.

I was also a prison minister, and at the beginning of January, 2013, I had to resign, because I was unable to sit or stand long enough to minister to the inmates.  Also, I was feeling too defeated to to minister the gospel of hope to the inmates.  It broke my heart when I had to stop ministering in jail, and I began to dip into depression.

Then, my mother became ill, and had to be admitted to the hospital.  It was extremely difficult to see how sick my mother was, but I went to see her during the day, and the long walk to the elevator, and then to her room was nearly more than I could bear.  Sometimes, when my husband came with me, he would get a wheelchair and push me to her room.  However, he had a job, so he couldn’t always come.  My sister worked, and because I was now not working, I wanted to help her and stay overnight at the hospital with Mom, so she wouldn’t have to, but my pain was so bad that I just couldn’t stay every night.  I did stay a few times, but the pain was horrid.

At that time, I was taking massive doses of pain medication, which made it hard for me to even function, and although I was taking hardcore pain killers, they weren’t killing the pain, which continued to increase.  From April of 2011 until sometime in 2014, not a day  went by that I wasn’t in pain, and it was wearing me down.

On top of that, my sister and I were having issues.  I’m sad to say, we’ve always had a difficult relationship.  I love her with all my heart, and I think she loves me, but we’re two different people, or maybe we’re both an awful lot alike.  Still, whatever the reason, we’ve always had trouble communicating and getting along.  Perhaps my sister remembered all the times I played hookie from school by faking illness, and though she never came out and said so, I don’t think she believed I was really in as much pain as I was.  Whatever the case, every time I went to visit Mom, I could feel her anger fill the room, as she ignored me, or spoke sharply to me.

My response to the situation was equally wrong, I tried to pretend nothing was wrong, so I would sit there watching Mom in silence, engulfed in self-pity, because I hate conflict, and I was afraid of making her angrier than she already was.  I really wanted to be there for my mother, but I also wanted to just run away from the painful situation, like I had done my entire life.  Whenever things got too painful or difficult, I tried to run away and avoid it, by trying to ignore the problem and pretending it didn’t exist.  If I couldn’t physically avoid the painful situation, as was the case at that time, then I tried to zone out mentally and think of other things.  I sometimes asked friends or my husband to accompany me, so I could feel that I had at least one person there who loved me.

Again, I was in the midst of a spiritual battle, and my enemy was not my sister, yet, rather than remaining firm in my faith and standing against the enemy of my soul, I reverted to my childhood ways, and responded to things the way I did when I was a little girl.  You see, instead of humbling myself and completely trusting my loving Father to carry me through the pain, I simply gave up without a fight, and allowed the enemy to steal my faith, my joy, my health, and my peace.  I forgot one very important thing that could have sustained me through everything that was happening…

13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

(Philippians 4:13  NLT)

Instead, I reverted to a passive-agressive state.  I became a self-pitying martyr, and I felt very justified about it.  But the fact is I should have clung to my faith, instead of reverting back to the little girl I once was.

On February 15, 2013, my mom passed away, and it ripped my world apart.  At almost fifty-two, I became an orphan, and Satan’s demons and my own mind waged a terrible war against me, and by this time, I was incapable of fighting back.  I was a basket case.  I was wracked with guilt, feeling that I should have done more to save my mother’s life.  I began having nightmares about dying, and I was terrified that I would die and go to hell, because I didn’t help my mother.  I was so disappointed in me, that I was sure God must feel the same way about me.

After all, I was supposed to be a strong minister of God, but I was a failure.  Worse yet, even though others tried to tell me it wasn’t so, I knew that God knows my heart, so how could He possibly love me or forgive me?  I couldn’t even forgive myself.  After the funeral, I couldn’t bear to be around my sister and my other relatives, who I was sure hated me too, so I went home with my husband and my children, who comforted me.  Yet, I couldn’t believe that the Lord would want to comfort me, and so I fell deeper into depression, as I walked in the valley of the shadow of death, forgetting this important thing…

Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for You are close beside me.
Your rod and Your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.

(Psalm 23:4-5  NLT)

It is only now, as I sit here, writing these words, that I can see the truth.  God was with me in that dark valley.  Not only was He with me, He was close by me, protecting me and comforting me the whole time, yet, because I had given up on myself, and more importantly, on Him, I felt no comfort.  It is only now, as I read the timeless words of the 23rd Psalm, that I realize if I had gone to the gathering after Mom’s funeral, that He would have honored me by preparing a feast before all who were against me, and anointing my head with oil.  Instead of allowing Him to fill my cup to overflowing with blessings, I allowed self-righteousness and self-pity to fill my cup to overflowing, a cup that also overflowed with pain, fear and illness.

Two weeks after my mother died, I was admitted to the hospital with C-diff, a horribly debilitating and sometimes deadly stomach infection.  I was now out of work, uninsoured, living on only $500 a month, and so sick I thought I was dying.  I remember praying in the ER this scripture from  Jeremiah, more to convince myself, than out of faith, because I was truly convinced that I was dying, and going to hell.

14 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
Save me, and I shall be saved,
For You are my praise.

(Jeremiah 17:14  NKJV)

I was quickly descending into the deepest, darkest depression of my life, and I still had a little farther to fall.  A week or two after I left the hospital, my daughter and her family, who had been living with us at the time, moved more than 700 miles away.  Suddenly, our house was empty.

Then, there was the church that I was attending at the time.  I was no longer in church every Sunday, and whenever the doors were open.  Instead, the pain and the medication I was taking, made it very difficult to go to church and sit for hours, not to mention the fact that I was afraid to drive myself, because I would fall asleep at the drop of a hat.  I also found myself dozing in church, which made me feel extremely guilty.  Then, there were different “ministers” who would pray for me.  Some would declare I was healed, and because they said so, I should feel better, but the fact was, I wasn’t better.  I also felt that the Lord told me that this was something I was going to have to walk through, and when I expressed this, I was accused of having weak faith.  One visiting “minister” even said that I had brought this chronic pain on myself, because I wasn’t faithful enough.

In my ever deepening descent into the dark pit of depression, I found myself at the bottom.  I no longer left the house, except to go to my doctors’ appointments, and I cried constantly.  I was consumed by pain, both physical and mental, and I saw no way out of the darkness.  When my husband treated me with lovingkindness, I felt so unworthy of his love, but he never gave up on me.

Through his kindness, and through the wisdom and kindness of the Christian counselor I saw, I began to ascend out of the deepest darkness.  However, I never fully recovered.  I still struggle with depression, and I still live with chronic pain, although thankfully, it is no longer unending.  I hurt most of the time, but occassionally, I do have  good days, and I am thankful for them.  Yet, there is one area that I haven’t fully recovered from.  You see, I felt that I lost the purpose for my life.

Chains are Gone

And then, the Lord began to minister to me today, reminding me that anyone who knows the good he ought to do, and doesn’t do it, sins, and as I began to write and ponder on that, He led me to the next scriptures…

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

(Philippians 4:4-9  NLT)

Do you know what?  I’ve forgotten to rejoice in the Lord!  Do you know that my husband and I have lived off of his small pension only, for more than three years?  Yet, the Lord made a way for us to keep our home, and during a time when we’ve had less to live on than ever before in our married life, our house looks better than it ever has, and we’ve actually had more through the generosity of others, that God moved to act on our behalf.  Isn’t that a reason to rejoice?

You see, I’ve been so caught up in my pain and depression, that I took my focus off God, and those things that are true and honorable, and right and pure and lovely, and admirable, and I looked within myself, at my chronic pain and the losses that I’ve suffered, and as I did so, the blackness smothered me with hopelessness.  I stopped fighting the good fight, until today, when the Lord spoke so clearly to me, urging me to put on my armor and fight back against the enemy of my soul, and against the darkness of my own mind.

Therefore, let me share the good things that God has done for me in the midst of my pain.  He has given me a few good, pain-free days, and even though most days are still really painful, some days, the pain is actually tolerable, and I rejoice in that too.  After more than three years of doing battle with Social Security Disability, I finally won my case, and I now receive my disability pay, and though it might not seem like a lot by some people’s standards, to me, it is huge.

In the midst of our poverty, my husband and I didn’t starve, for God provided us with food assistance.   Although it has been very hard for me to live so far away from my children and my ten grandchildren,  He has made a way for us to see them a couple of times a year.  No, it might not be as often as I’d like, but a little is better than none, isn’t it?

Then, what do I do, when I’m at home, so far away from the children and grandchildren that I love so much?  I have a wonderful and loving husband, who has been patient and kind to me.  When I have so much, why should I dwell on the bad things in my life?

I serve the Creator of the universe, and He loves me.  He never stopped loving me, and it was only when I began to focus on my problems, rather than the good things He has done for me, that I fell into darkness.  And now, today, even though I’ve been fighting nausea and sickness all day, I found that as I began to focus on Him once again, even though I don’t feel well, it is well with my soul.  Thank You Father, for Your unending kindness and Your undying love.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Letting Go – The Pain and Joy of Being a Mother

My daughter, son-in-law and family
My daughter, son-in-law and family

As I sit here this Mother’s Day, with all of my children and grandchildren living miles and miles away from me, (some live 350 miles away, and the rest of them live more than 700 miles away from me), I am contemplating what it means to be a mother…

When I was a little girl, growing up, feeling unloved and unwanted, I dreamed of one day having children and a husband, who would always love me, no matter what.  When I grew up, and became a mother, that dream changed…  Oh, I still wanted my children and my husband to always love me, no matter what, but that was no longer my main goal.  As I held both my son and my daughter in my arms after each one of them was born, I felt an overwhelming love for them, which cannot be described.  Then, as I looked at the man that I had vowed to love, honor and cherish as long as we both shall live, I was awash with a flood of love for him as well.  Suddenly, having someone to love me was no longer my priority.  For, in an instant, God had changed the selfish longings of a little girl into an unselfish desire.  Now, my number one priority was to make sure that my husband and my children always knew that they were loved, no matter what.

My son and daughter-in-law
My son and daughter-in-law

In a world filled with condemnation and hatred, I’ve always loved my children, and I strove to ensure they knew that they were loved.  When they sinned or did anything wrong, I always wanted them to know that although I hated their sin, I still loved them.  When I was angry with them, still burning brightly within my heart was a deep, unending love for them.  After all, these were my babies.

Like most mothers, I was and am very protective of my children.  I struggle with the desire to shield them from all of the pain that every man, woman and child has endured, since Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, and yet, I know that this is foolish.  For the scriptures make it clear that everyone must endure troubles, in order to grow endurance and to become complete in the Lord…

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.  ~ James 1:2-4  NLT ~

At times, I have felt like a mama bear, protecting her cubs.  There’s a built-in radar within me that KNOWS when someone is hurting one of my children, and nothing infuriates me  more than to see my child in painl. So, just as a mama bear will attack anyone that may only seem to be a threat to her cubs, I have been known to do the same, spending my rage on the person(s) I deemed dangerous, only to look back on the situation, years later, and understand that there may have been an important lesson that God wanted to teach my child.  Yet, rather than trusting in Him, with His unlimited power and love, to protect my children, I trusted in myself, with my limited mortal imperfections, and in the process, sometimes did more damage than good…..

One of the hardest, most painful lessons anyone, who desires to be a good and godly mother, must learn, is that our children, who are such a wonderful gift to us, are ours, only on loan.  From the time we first hold our infants in our arms, we must remember to hold  them lightly and gently.  For if we hold on to them too tightly, we may squeeze the life out of them.  If we look to the bible for examples of women, who were good mothers, the mother, who comes to my mind, is Hannah, mother of Samuel, the prophet of God.

Hannah was so desperate to have a child, that she cried out to the Lord, praying fervently.  In her desperation, she made this vow to the Almighty…

And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to You. He will be Yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.”  ~ 1 Samuel 1:11  NLT ~

When I think of Hannah’s desperation for a child, I remember when my husband and I decided to have a child.  Would I be able to conceive a child?  What if I couldn’t have a child?  Did you experience that same desperation for a child?  Does every woman that wants a child experience that desperation?

Look at the price Hannah was willing to pay just so she could have a child to lavish her love on.  For, when Hannah held her beloved baby in her arms, she knew that she would only be able to hold him for a very short time.  Then, she would have to relinquish him to her heavenly Father.

What pain intermingled with everlasting joy, Hannah must have endured, when her beloved baby, Samuel was born.   As he suckled at her breast each time she nursed him, did Hannah contemplate that the time was nearing, when she would wean him, and she must let go of her hold on her beloved Samuel and release him to Eli, the priest and into God’s service?  Mothers, as you hold your infants in your arms, and let them nurse at your breast, do you understand that each time he/she nurses, you are one step closer to letting go of him/her?  With each new development, he/she achieves, holding his/her head up, cooing, laughing, you are one step closer to that moment, when you must relinquish your hold on your child, and let him/her go.

As I look at Hannah, I see much to admire in her.  She longed for a child, so much so that she made a vow to give him back to God, if only He would give her this child.  How exquisitely precious, yet painful it must have been as she held her child to her breast, knowing that as soon as he was weaned, she would keep her covenant with God, and return Samuel to Him.  What bittersweet joy she must have felt, as she changed each dirty diaper, knowing that as long as he nursed and dirtied his diaper, he would remain with her.  Yet when he was weaned, she must let him go.

Surely, she must have been tempted to “forget” her vow to the Lord, yet she remained true  to her word,  and her son grew to be one of Israel’s greatest judges and prophets.  In her obedience and willingness to let go of her son, she enabled him to be all that he was created and called to be.  How sad it would have been for both Samuel and Israel, if this brave and faithful mother had refused to let her son go!  In refusing to let her son go, she could have ruined Samuel’s great destiny.

Then, there is the father of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32, who let go of his beloved son, knowing that in doing so, his son would leave home  and probably live a life of sin.  Indeed, the son did exactly what his father had feared he would do.  He squandered every penny of his inheritance on loose living and loose women.  Then, after losing all of the money his father had entrusted him with, the son really hit rock bottom, living on the streets, homeless, because of his recklessness.  Don’t you think the father grieved for his son, longing for him to return, so he could rest assured, knowing that his son was safe in his presence?  Though the father longed for his son’s love and obedience, he let him go, just as God lets us go our own way.  By letting his son go, the father won his son’s heart in the end, and his son returned a better man after living a sinful, adulterous life, because he was now humble and appreciative of his father’s love.

Mothers, when your child walks away from you, even though you know they’re walking into a life of sin, don’t be afraid to let him/her go.  For the tighter you hold your child to yourself, the further you are pushing him/her away from you.  Yet, by letting him/her go, you are giving God the opportunity to begin a good work in him/her, that He may not have been able to do, because you were always pushing Him away, as you tried to solve your child’s problems.

Are there other examples of mothers letting their children go?  Sure there are!  What would have happened if Mary hadn’t let go of Jesus?  What would have happened if Elizabeth had refused to let her son, John live in the wilderness, wearing camel hair and eating locusts and wild honey?  Beloved mothers, entrust your children to God, and let them go.  As long as we try to hold on to our children, we deny them the right to grow up strong and whole.

Do I wish my children lived closer to me?  Of course I do, but I choose to let them go where God leads them, and I trust Him to care for them and provide for their needs.  After all, my Father can do a much better job in taking care of my children, than I can.