‘Sunning Ourselves in the Smiles of God’

A boy stood on a windy hillside, flying a kite. He continued to release the string of the kite and it went higher and higher until it was completely out of sight. One of his friends walked up and asked how he knew there was still a kite on the other end. He replied. “I know it’s there I feel it tugging on the line.” Like the kite, we can’t see heaven with our eyes, but we feel it tugging at our souls!

As a person with Bipolar its easier in some ways to think about that place I am journeying to.  Through many cycles of mania and depression I find this present life gets old, and the more I hear about heaven, the more excited I get.  I imagine a life without meds, and the constant monitoring of my moods.

 Heaven is described as:

  1. a great reward, Mt 5:11
  2. present suffering not worthy to be compared with future glory, Rom 8:18, 
  3. eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 2 Cor 4:17,18,
  4. surpassing riches of His grace towards us, Eph 2:7, 
  5. beyond all we could ask for or even think, Eph 3:20.

I think of my infirmities and pain.  I can’t wait to “shed” this mental illness. 

To be free from it will be one of best thing I can think of.  To take off my depression, like a heavy coat on a warm day. To sit with Jesus in a garden with living water, that’s more refreshing than any iced tea. Eternity is my favorite thing to think about–

“Where the unveile’d glories of the Deity shall beat full upon us, and we forever sun ourselves in the smiles of God.

—Ezekiel Hopkins 

I want to encourage you who are struggling now, with depression, anger,  schizophrenia, paranoia, abuse, OCD, addictions, PTSD or Bipolar, etc.  There is a day coming for us, when we will forget the agonizing battles that have gone on within us.  I boldly tell you with all the strength I can muster–there is coming the day.  So take hope and journey one more day, thinking of heaven.

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Tears with a Purpose

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I’ve been thinking a lot about tears lately—in part because Pastor Bryan pointed out to me how many hits my post titled God Keeps Your Tears in a Bottle has had, in part because I’ve cried more than a few tears this year, and in part because I’ve been listening to Johnny Cash’s Cry, Cry, Cry in my car all week—and I thought I’d share my thoughts with you all here.

People cry for a lot of reasons. Earlier this year my sister died of breast cancer at only 61 years old. I cried, a lot. It’s normal and even helpful to shed tears over the death of a loved one even if we know where they are going when they die, because it allows us to express the grief we feel over not having them in our lives any more here on earth.

I remember a time I had a previous boss say some very cruel things to me in front of other people. She accused me of having done things I had not based on motives I did not have. I was very angry, hurt, and frustrated. And I cried, a lot. I didn’t cry in front of her, mind you, but afterwards I did. And it was good to express that anger to others.

Just yesterday I experienced unexpected tears. I was reciting the prayers of the people in church, which I’ve done many times. Our church has many prayer concerns for members, family, and friends with health concerns and more. Towards the end of the prayer I began to lift up prayers for a church member’s brother-in-law who is a pastor back in New York because he is faced with conducting the funerals of two teens who had been killed in an accident last week, and with comforting the families of three other teens who are in critical condition. I unexpectedly had tears in my eyes and my voice cracked praying for these teens and families that I don’t even know. But they were good tears because they touched those who heard my prayer and I know they touched our Lord, too.

I have cried tears of loss, anger, indignation over an injustice, frustration, compassion, and even of joy. I sometimes cry tears of regret when I hear a beautiful song about the sacrifice of Jesus, knowing it is my sin that required him to suffer.

Tears often serve a purpose, as expressed in this poem that I wrote recently:

Tears

Tears of sorrow, anger
drench my soul
course without end
eroding pain, anguish

Where once only aching
occupied my heart
now is a deep empty ravine
carved by a river of tears

Tears of forgiveness
water my soul’s riverbed
allowing flowers of love
to flourish and grow

Peace arises in my heart
held aloft by God’s promises
the fragrance of sweet alyssum
blossoms of my soul

I think the saddest tears of all, though, are the tears of major clinical depression. These tears are so sad because the one who cries them doesn’t know what purpose they serve.

I remember when I was suffering from major depression sitting in a chair and just crying. When someone asked me why I was crying all I could say was, “I don’t know.” And I truly didn’t. The tears didn’t wash away pain; they only seemed to make it all the worse.

In the midst of such tears, there is One who knows their purpose. Romans 8:26 says: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Through prayer God can sometimes lead us to an understanding of the purpose of the tears of depression, and ultimately to healing. Often the wounds are so deep it takes years and a great many groaning prayers to heal. But we must accept our weakness and our need for God’s Holy Spirit to intercede for us.

For me, after much prayer of my own, the blessed prayers of others, and the intercession of the Holy Spirit, God led me to an understanding of the purpose of my tears. They were tears of anger and unforgiveness; they were tears of lament that I had allowed myself to remain in bondage to the sins of another for so long. Ultimately, with God’s help, the tears did lead to healing once I truly understood why I was crying.

Peace, Linda K

 

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Linda has a good and perceptive blog at http://lindakruschke.wordpress.com/. Please do pay her a visit.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Great Physician

I wrote this poem the other day for ‘Thankful Thursday’ on my own blog. Knowing that many who visit Broken Believers struggle with illness and pain, I thought this would be good to share here as well.

There are plenty of cracked clay pots around this place, and God is in the business of using and healing cracked pots.

Our Great Physician

Illness comes to everyone –
pain, fever, fatigue, and tears
Chronic or acute, it’s such a trial –
these clay pots we inhabit
are so incredibly fragile
even in the hands of the Potter

But our Great Physician
provides strength, comfort –
Sometimes He brings doctors,
nurses, and medication –
Wisdom and talents used
to do His will, to heal, to mend

Sometimes all it takes
is to touch the hem of His robe –
Like the woman who bled
for twelve long years, outcast
one moment, then healed
completely and wholly

The greatest good –
spiritual health and salvation
for the least of us, for all –
each clay pot used to help others
as grace leaks out of cracks –
Cracks that never seem to heal

Sometimes what the Physician
has in store is our ultimate healing –
A new body, new life eternal
in a place of no more pain,
no tears, energy galore –
as death brings everyone home

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (NIV)

Your Sister in Christ,

Linda K.

 

Check out Linda’s blog:  www.lindakruschke.wordpress.com

Led Aside by Jesus, [Consideration]

“He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

–Mark 8:23, NIV

Here I can imagine the gentleness and the kindness of Jesus–we see Him leading this man out of town to a quieter place. Showmanship?  Not on your life.  Jesus has made the decision to avoid the theatrics of a blind man given sight, and ducked the paparazzi for a moment to touch this man.

In a way, we are all like this blind man.  We stumble around and try to make our way.  But it is raucous confusion– the fields of philosophy, religion, psychology, politics and art are not much more than a blind men tapping with his cane, trying to find their way into the light.  This may be rather simplistic, but I believe it’s more true then we care to admit.  The entire social history of humans is based on confusion and conflict.

We grope in the gloom, and there is none to take our hand and lead us out of the darkness.  We stumble and fall, and come no closer to understanding then when we first started.  It is hopeless.  Our striving borders on madness and insanity.

The blind man in Mark 8 entrusted himself to Jesus’ care.  He willingly went with Jesus, following down the path and out of the village.  Jesus carefully leads him by the hand, which is quite remarkable.  (I guess I’m envious.)  Jesus would have led this man past every obstacle.

Each of us have to encounter Jesus for ourselves.

We are born blind, having no awareness (zero, zilch, nada) of spiritual truth.  We must be taught to see.  At the airport in Salt Lake City recently, I saw a young blind man being led through large crowd.  I was fascinated by his trust in his guide as people jostled to try to make their connections.  There was a quiet composure in him.  (In his place, I would be terrified.)

We must trust Jesus, with that same composure and grace.  When we cannot see, we must trust.

“I do not try to see my way,
Before, behind, or left, or right;
I cannot tell what dangers gray
Do haunt my steps, nor at what height
Above the sea my path doth wind:
For I am blind. 

“Yet not without a guide I wend
My unseen way, by day, by night;
Close by my side there walks a Friend,——
Strong, tender, true: I trust His sight;
He sees my way before, behind,
Though I am blind.”

by an Unknown Author

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He Will Come and Find You

“The Blind Beggar” by Jules Bastien-Lepage

When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Mark 10:47

What a gritty, hard life Bartimaeus lived.  How terribly desperate and lost he must have felt.  He has spent years and years without any real hope.  The future to him had been emptied of all purpose and meaning.  Life, from his point-of-view was worse than non-existence.  It was brutal and vicious, and when he had bad times he could barely look up.

He had a customary spot beside the busy road.  Routine had become his coping skill.  As a blind man knew that routine kept him from really losing it.  Seated on a dirty mat, he focused in on the voices of the passing crowds.  There seemed many more than usual and Bartimaeus began to try to piece together what was happening.

Someone to the right of him, shouted “Hosanna, Son of David”!  In that stark moment Bartimaeus jumped up and began to shout himself.  He shouted and shouted until he was hoarse.  He waved his hands, desperate to be seen.  There were those around him who told him to sit-down and shut-up.  There were hundreds of people reaching for Jesus, arms outstretched and pleas being made.  In this crazy and confusing scene Bartimaeus will not comply, he must speak, he must, he is desperate!

Jesus doesn’t walk alone, but is mobbed by well-wishers.  But suddenly He stops, Jesus can hear the voice of Bartimaeus.  Jesus wades partly into the jumbled mass and asks someone to bring Bartimaeus into the open.  We see him wriggle through the crowd, he is shaking and he is filthy.  His hair is matted and he has rotting teeth.  He hasn’t bathed for several months.  A filthy rag is wrapped over his eyes.

Is Jesus passing by?  Do you call out for Him? Does he call for you?  He often touches His most needy disciples, outside of the confines of the Church.  Jesus’ travels wherever He wants, He goes where He wills.  Jesus passes by us as we sit in our youth meeting, our marriage counseling or on a short-term missions project to Mexico.  He interrupts and pulls you out of the crowd.  All to heal you, for Himself.

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A Bit More Than We Think

”The angel showed me a river that was crystal clear, and its waters gave life. The river came from the throne where God and the Lamb were seated. Then it flowed down the middle of the city’s main street. On each side of the river are trees that grow a different kind of fruit each month of the year. The fruit gives life, and the leaves are used as medicine to heal the nations. God’s curse will no longer be on the people of that city. He and the Lamb will be seated there on their thrones, and its people will worship God.

Rev. 22:1-3, CEV

 John has a remarkable thing happen to him; he is given a perspective that others have sought diligently to have.  However his is quite extensive without any ’embellishment or elaboration’.  He sees, not imagines, the creativeness of God.  The things that are happening are quite exceptional, yet cohesive.  A river that is mighty, flowing from the throne.

This particular river brings ‘life’.  Whatever it touches, it makes it alive.  Giving life is a tremendous work of God.  We can only stand back and wonder.  The river flows down ‘main street’. There has never been anything like this. Living in the bleak shadows, our hearts and minds have been starved of any real beauty.

We look and see trees on the bank of this special river.  Leaves are being pulled off. These leaves are bringing healing to the peoples of the the earth.  The fruit of each tree brings a comprehensive work of healing deep within.  There is nothing but blessing coming from these trees.

This seems like a fanciful dream, but it is reality profound.

I think that most exceptionally, there is a lifting of the wrath of God.  The specter of being judged is eradicated.  There is no sense of lostness, or damnation.  There has been a release from that bitter darkness.  Life rolls out without the impediments of sadness, sin or doom

“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’  

Romans 8:1

Some of us have struggled a great deal.  The ‘blackness’ has definitely tried to destroy us.  We’ve come through, aware of the bleak despair and living in despondency.  And yet God comes prepared, bringing His spiritual ‘bulldozer’ to clear the way.  It’s funny, but these things at one time seemed permanent, and forever attached to our spirits.  But He thinks otherwise.  We now have fully become His possession.

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The Gift of Sight, [Our Blindness]

“Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”

Mark 8:23

What an amazing and gentle thing for Jesus to do.  He offers his hand in order to guide this one to a better environment for that which he is about to do.  Jesus really is quite considerate, and very aware of the “circus” he causes in the town.

In many ways, we are so like this blind man.  We have no spiritual sight, we stumble and bumble through life.  We are doomed to live this way, blind to anything of significance.  But along comes Jesus, he takes us by our hand.  We walk through the streets, with him leading us.  Little do we know, that in just a moment we are going to see.

This blind man is being led by a stranger, who is leading him down dusty streets to an undisclosed location.  Yet, for some reason, he trusts Jesus, and allows himself to be led.  As he walked holding the hand of Jesus, his faith grows.  By the time they arrive at the spot outside the walls, we just know what is going to happen next.

Jesus spits!  Right into each eye. He puts his thumbs into them and brings a complete reconstruction of each eye.  Jesus is standing right in front of him. He asks, “Now can you see?”  I can see him blinking, and rolling his eyes, squinting and trying very hard to see.  And he does– but only limitedly.  Things are still blurry.

Jesus doesn’t berate the man, or belittle him for not getting a complete healing.  He just repeats this process, and within a minute the blind man now sees the world that before he only staggered through a moment ago..

If you must know, I am that blind man, I walked in spiritual darkness.  Things have not ever been easy.  I have stumbled and tripped through life.  I have been the butt of schoolboy pranks, and I have begged for crusts.  I have gone hungry a lot of the time.

But this man, Jesus found me.  He healed me. And my ugly, pathetic life was changed.  I am now a witness to what he can do–and does!  I added nothing to my healing, it was a miracle. I just opened my eyes.

“Of all the senses, sight must be the most delightful.”

–Helen Keller

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