Today as I drove to work lost in my thoughts, only half listening to the Christian music station playing in the background, some of the words interrupted my thoughts, “You are not alone….”. I immediately thought of the scripture I had read on Saturday as I prepared my lesson for my Bible Study class I teach on Sunday mornings. “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to know! I can never escape from your spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you.” Psalm 139:1-12. I am blown away by these verses! Aren’t you? Just think about this revelation for a moment. The God of the universe, the creator of EVERYTHING, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God is attentive to you…to me! There is no place we can go, that He is not there with us! Even into the pit I sometimes take myself, where I think I am destined to fall in and out of…NOPE!….He’s there. When I’m walking through life, and everything seems chaotic, NOPE!…He’s there! When I’m laying in my bed at night, darkness surrounding me, only the sound of my husband’s breathing can be heard and I replay the day, trying to figure out how to make ends meet….NOPE! He’s there too! When I am alone and disappointed over something or someone….NOPE! He’s right there too! Recently I listened as someone prayed in church service asking God to reveal His presence….I was thinking, “Silly man, He’s already here!” The truth is this….we don’t acknowledge the truth that He is ALWAYS with us! We ignore His presence, run from His presence, look somewhere else for His presence, but according to these verses, His presence is already with us! We want fireworks, rushing wind or a pillar of smoke…not just His presence. He will not slap us in the back of the head and say “I’m right here stupid!” He waits for us to acknowledge He is there….I truly believe that. It’s in those moments that we stop, breathe in the truth that He is right there with us, that we “feel” His blanket-like presence wrap around us. I love that He is not chasing us around trying to get our attention like a child who repeatedly calls “mama” to get her attention, but He’s there, always there. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He’s looking ahead, checking out our path that He has prepared for us, He knows the words that are about to come from our mouths – even when they may not be pleasing to Him – He still knows. The idea that He would still place His hand upon our heads in blessing is just too big to comprehend! That is unconditional love, people! He knows my thoughts. That is just frightening! I know what goes on inside my head, no one would want to be there! But He knows… He is there to lift my head when I am weary, He is there to comfort me when I am heartbroken, He is there to hold me when I am afraid, He is there to push me forward when I need encouragement to go on, there is absolutely no place I can hide from or be lost from Him. We just have to acknowledge He is there to benefit from being in His presence… So, today, sitting there looking at this computer screen, reading my silly blog (which I appreciate, by the way!), close your eyes for a moment, and just breathe. Acknowledge that He is with you! Allow His presence to fill you and wrap around you like a warm blanket. I promise, you will feel it and you will be overwhelmed by Him.
I am amused, after the fact of course, at the way God uses little suttle hints to lead up to one of those “a-ha” moments. Little taps on the shoulder, or whispers in your ear to get your attention. I had one of those weeks. Friday I had an eye exam appointment and had no idea that one thought in the midst of that appointment would lead to a revelation about me and where I am in my walk with God. After having 3 sets of drops applied to my eyes, I sat trying to focus on anything around me. It is funny to me that they will initially put drops in your eyes that are supposed to “numb” your eyes, but follow up immediately with additonal drops that leave you feeling like you’ve been swimming in a chlorinated pool for about 12 hours! Then they proceed to touch your eyes with some contraption to test the pressure. Pressure from what, I ask you?? Too much thinking? Too much seeing? They never tell you exactly. But, I digress! I sat in the examination chair waiting on the doctor trying to focus on a display on the wall that showed every part of the eye in detail. Finally, I got up and leaned across the counter to try and read some of the medical terms for each muscle, nerve and part of the eye. It was amazing! Then the thought popped into my head, “How could anyone NOT believe in a God who created our eyes with such intricate parts with vital functions to insure that we see color and beauty in a way that our brains can comprehend and are often deeply affected by what we see?” Then on Saturday I drove across town to visit a friend who was at home recovering from surgery. I drove down Schillinger Rd. till it dead ends and turned on the road that passes the University of Mobile. It wasn’t very busy, and it was a beautiful morning. I enjoyed the beauty of the day. Tonight in our evening services at church, I listened as Bro. Greg read Psalm 145 and talked about the greatness of God. I sat alone in my pew deeply moved by the words David wrote thousands of years ago. “Great is the Lord and highly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.” He challenged us to meditate on the greatness of God. Not in the way we throw the word “great” around, as if it is one step above “good”…but in the way David wrote of the “bigness” (my word, not David’s OR Bro. Greg’s) of the almighty God. The God that created the universe and the millions of galaxies that fill that universe. Then Deann sang a song I have never heard before entitled “Don’t Let Me Lose the Wonder…” In that beautiful haunting voice she has, filled with so much feeling, the words and notes pierced my soul. I could feel the tightness begin in my chest as I knew God had been drawing me to Him this week with this same thought that now culminated in a moment of realization that He had been trying to get a message across to me. Somehow, in the midst of doing life, in the midst of running here and there, in the midst of trying to live a life that honored Him, in the midst of struggling to stay away from the “pits” trying to pull me to the the edge and into the darkness, I had lost the wonder of His greatness. I love Him, yes. I am thankful to Him for my salvation, yes. I have faith that He is there for me and will meet my needs, yes. But, I had lost that sense of wonder of who He is and how great He is. Tears slid down my cheeks as I listened to the sweetness of her voice and the piercing of the words. I had lost that wonder. I found it hard to breathe and sat down and put my head on my arms resting on the back of the pew in front of me. All I could do was whisper to the Lord that I was sorry and that I wanted that life changing wonder to return to my soul. I want to see His creation and be amazed. I want to be moved to tears when I see the delicate fingers of a newborn baby. I want to feel the stirring of the Holy Spirit in a time of prayer, and be filled with awe that God will allow His spirit to stir the very air around us in evidence He is there. “Great is the Lord and highly to be praised and His greatness is unsearchable.” So let me ask you as you read this, have you lost your wonder of a Creator who wants to hang out with us when we are so undeserving? Allow God to give you a nudge and stir your soul to wonder at His greatness. I promise you, you will be moved!
Today is a sad day in the Armstrong family. We are losing a member of the family. I’m sitting here at my desk, feeling guilty for complaining about the cost of “extraordinary measures” to treat Ellie and sick that the girls are clueless at this point that this is the end for their beloved Ellie. I have to admit that I do love the little chick! She has stolen the hearts of all of us…
Lynn called me this morning on the way to work and I could hear the struggle to maintain composure in his voice. Of all of us, I’m afraid that big man will be the most heartbroken. We teased him unmercifully about his devotion to that little girl (dog). He broke down and cried. There will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth about 4:00pm today….so if you happen to look at the clock and notice it is near that hour, say a prayer for us, this will be a difficult day.
It has been brought to my attention that I have made a tremendous error in my blog entitled “Blending with the wallpaper”. I inadvertantly miscalculated the number of really great friends I have had in the last 20 something years. I claimed only 3, and I was wrong. The 4th, who I will call L.B. (for I must protect her privacy, she is quite famous), who is, perhaps, the only person who read my complete blog, and gone one step further to call me and shower me with encouragement, was not counted in that close circle of dear dear friends. I want to take this blog to throw myself at her feet and beg forgiveness for this oversight. I promise to dedicate my next blog to the profound impact she has had in my life over the last 24 years. So, L.B., I raise my pen to you (or laptop in this case). Thank you for your friendship that I am absolutely sure I could not live without!
This week is…well…trying. Our dog, Ellie, has taken ill. She’s a cute little thing, I have to admit, and the fam is crazy in love with her. But, there is a limit! She is now being treated as an “in-patient” at the vet with some kidney disorder. She is being monitored around the clock. I called yesterday, and the bill so far is at $500. After I regained consciousness, I heard the sweet little voice of the office person at the vet say (and in the most drippy, syrupy voice you have ever heard) by Friday it will be around $700! I am sure I had a stroke at that point. Things went black and I couldn’t speak. I wanted to ask if I still had to pay if we changed our mind about using “extraordinary measures” to save her life. They kindly suggested we purchase “Doggy health insurance” for the future. DOGGY HEALTH INSURANCE!!! I have heard it all! Luckily I thought before I spoke…I wanted to tell her we would wait for OBAMACARE! I can’t rationally consider buying health insurance for a dog, when there are children in 3rd world countries dying from disease and starvation!!! I am sure there are some rich v.p.’s of these “doggy insurance” companies sitting by their pools, sipping a drink with an umbrella in it, chuckling at the fact that we Americans are absolutely lunatics! The family (minus me, of course b/c I work FULL TIME on the other side of town and refuse to take my lunch hour to go visit the dog in the hospital) have gone to visit her. She is able to stand now, and her kidney’s are functioning. But just like any regular doctor, the vet can’t say for sure what caused her kidney failure or if it will return or how long she will be there, or how much it will cost! I feel my blood pressure rising, but I can’t go to the doctor, because we are going to be paying for that stinking dog’s dr. bills for some time! UGH!
And then, last night, our precious middle daughter comes in the house, and declares that her car will no longer shift into 2nd…or 4th…or reverse for that matter. So now we have that to figure out. She seems unconcerned, as she usually does. She’ll continue live life by the seat of her pants, oblivious to money issues. I truly believe she is convinced that the little trees in our back yard produce money not Satsumas! So, it’s life…in true form…slapping us around and tripping us up! But, here’s a secret, I have plenty of callouses and I get up pretty quickly. I must rest in the fact that God sees our situation and He will meet the needs.
I’m finding that it WAS easier when they were little and I was in control and when I told them to do something they did it and their fun stuff was cheaper and they seemed to appreciate things more and their schedules were slower and they took naps and I didn’t work full time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!