What then shall we do?

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.  I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”  Jeremiah 29

I offer this passage for those of us who are Christians and are worried about what may come here in the United States.

I offer this passage for those of us who are recovering from serious illness and feel vulnerable or too weak to act in our own strength to try to change things.

I offer this passage for myself to remind me WHO is in charge of all things:  past, present, and future.  And I will add this reassurance as well:

 

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6

Why is it so easy to forget the Lord’s faithfulness in my life?  First, He led me to Him when I was finally ready to stop striving out of my own determination to make something out of my life, MY WAY.  Second, He gave me a reasonable life as a baby Christian only for it to spiral out of control, my control.  His hand was upon me and wanted me to depend only upon His grace.  Third, He brought me exceedingly sweet restoration, the desires of my heart, and a love worth waiting for in the arms of my intended beloved.  Fourth, He allowed exceedingly difficult weakness to strengthen our faith and prepare us for His return in glory.  Yes, I believe He will return soon.

More important than looking for what disasters may bestow us in this once great United States of America is to ready ourselves and WATCH for the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”  Luke 12

What then shall we do?  Wait without worry; meditate on His Words, instructions and promises; carry on with the events of living; and share the hope within us.  If I must bury my nose in His holy Word for hours to calm my fears then that is exactly what I shall do.  I know I will find You there my Lord . . . in sweet fellowship until I am in your presence forevermore.  Just writing this has lifted my spirits.

Just reading this, can you sense His peace too Gentle Reader?  I hope so.  JJ

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P.S.  I’m thinking of putting together a group Skype devotional and prayer time once per week with others who are largely isolated for whatever reason.  The focus would be open and based upon belief in God through the person of Jesus Christ of the Bible.  Please leave me a comment below if you might be interested.  I’ll do a separate blog on this soon!  Take care, JJ

Let us gather together for prayer . . .
Let us gather together for prayer . . .

 

Puffy white clouds and 5 sparrows

 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  Luke 12

At first it looked like a gentle breeze flowing through the branches of the variegated dogwood bush outside our bedroom window.  Puffy clouds drifted past the backdrop of the truest “sky blue” you could desire on an early summer afternoon.  Such a simple scene, peaceful too.  Then again the rustling appeared to come from below my view.  Was there, wait, yes maybe there’s a little critter in there moving the branches about?  And lo there she was:  a lone house sparrow spritely jumping about within the leaf cover in and out of my view just a few feet away.  Better not move a muscle or I might disturb the work of my feathered friend.  Does she know that I could almost reach out and touch her marbled wings if the screen window didn’t separate us, didn’t provide secluded freedom for your Saturday play . . .

The little one flew away as my gaze returned to the light blue walls next to the bed inside the window.  Maybe if I waited just a little longer another visitor would appear?  To my delight the green-with-white birdhouse was rustling again from the top, the bottom, and even just beyond my view!  Let’s see:  there’s one, two, three . . . a fourth appeared and darted deeper into the cover of leaves as a fifth little birdie perched right in front of me too.  Silly little one.  He began preening his ecru-colored chest feathers without a care in the world as the branch bobbled up, down, and all around.  He reminded me of my brother’s childhood parakeet, Perky.  How they flex their necks so steeply to reach the soft feathers that form a collar of fluff I’ll never know.  Such a curious, skittish, carefree creation indeed.  Then in a matter of a few seconds, they all flew away . . .

I was alone again.  Maybe I could try to move my head and adjust the comforter covering my chilled shoulders?  Yes, that’s good.  But to move my legs and arms was not to be just yet as my attempt to do so triggered another mini seizure attack episode.  Sigh.  I thought I would be recovering by now.  Not so.  Oh well, when my husband comes back I’ll ask him to bring me the lunch I had made myself earlier and put into the frig in case we were to go out on our tandem outrigger canoe this afternoon.  What a nice treat I thought it would be to have something made ahead of time that fit my special diet and tasted yummy too.  Not quite.  Gratefully it wasn’t too long before he returned to check on me, brought me the container of rice paper finger sandwiches and fed me several bites, one by one.  Then he put the bicycle water bottle to my mouth so I could sip some water and wash down the food sticking to my throat as I lain sideways on the bed.  A few bites, a long sip, a few bites, a long sip.  He has this routine down pretty well by now.  Thankfully these complete neurological collapse episodes only happen every 10 days lately.  They used to be every couple days . . .

In time my strength returned and I was able to put a pillow under my own head and feed myself.  Unfortunately something triggered a major seizure jolt when my beloved returned, setting me back again for awhile.  He was sitting close to me and I suddenly needed some fresh air from outside the window.  Stevers obliged then left me alone again to recover per our routine for these sort of things.  Again I revived.  Eventually I was able to weakly get out of bed and start to put on some clothes.  That’s a nice thing to do after a shower at 2 in the afternoon.  I was feeling a little funny lying there naked rolled up in the comforter.  Oh well.  It’s the best I could do after beginning to collapse in the shower an hour earlier, struggling to dry myself off, and Steve helping me lie down as it appeared I would be falling over any moment.  Flash forward almost two hours as the episode was resolving I was grateful to be able to move my left arm again.  Looks like I would be o.k. albeit shaken for several more hours anyways . . .

Sitting outside in the sunshine helped me regain my strength.  Of course I had another one of my low oxalate snack concoctions (white chocolate!) and a refill of cool water in my trusty Summit City Bicycles and Fitness water bottle.  Little did the guys at the shop know how helpful that bottle had become when I needed a special flow-control mouthpiece to refresh me when in bed, not on the Fort Wayne River Greenway!  Maybe someday soon I’ll get back on my bike.  I am grateful to have had a test run of two miles earlier this Spring; I should be able to repeat a short ride on a better Saturday afternoon really soon, Lord willing.  How hard could it be to peddle a few miles?  Well anyways sitting outside on our patio later this afternoon with pretty gardens all around me and the sun still shining brightly overhead did me a world of good.  The puffy white clouds still filled the sky and I could hear sparrows, robins, and more in the distance.  I got up to pluck a few weeds, pick a few radishes, tinker here and there before returning into the house.  Perhaps my beloved would understand that this day would be better spent at home than paddling on a lake somewhere?  Change of plans.  Enduring these kinds of afternoons together makes it obvious what we should do, more than words can ever say . . .

The rest of the day was decent as I prepared a nice dinner and some food for tomorrow in case we are able to reschedule our outing on the water together.  I do try to be hopeful, eh?  As most Gentle Readers would recognize in this blog we tend to live our lives over here a bit spontaneously:  making plans more at the last minute, in the afternoon or evening, and after checking the weather report/Julie’s snack supply/whatever we can reschedule to be able to get away . . .

This evening?  Not so nice.  We are just not sure what is going on with these wretched evening episodes again.  After a full year of 1-3 hour episodes virtually every night after dark and up to 30 minutes most mornings, you would think one of these specialists I’ve seen would have figured it out!  Yes, my melatonin level is off the chart and melatonin levels change at night.  I am getting out in the sunshine just about every day, exercising at night, avoiding foods with tryptophan (that tends to elevate melatonin) and more per my internet research on the subject yet the excess must be persisting.  (Labs to follow!)  Then my new biotoxin doctor laid a good one on me yesterday, saying that if anyone could figure out what to do IT WOULD BE ME SINCE I KNOW MY SITUATION THE BEST.  Whaaaat?  Why do you think I pursued your clinic out of State?  I was hoping YOU could figure it out!  Even my brilliant functional medicine doctor in addition to your brilliant functional medicine colleague have largely set me adrift.  Now you are saying since I cannot tolerate Dr. Shoemaker’s biotoxin protocol that you cannot help me either?  If you think I was able to figure this out would I be calling you?  Geez oh man.  Lord, come what may . . .

Back to the story of the bird in the hand is worth two in the bush OR wait a minute:  there aren’t any birds here right now since it’s after 4 in the morning!  Yes, I’m back to my late night schedule again.  Let’s see . . .  perhaps Luke 12 can remind me that just as the Lord provided me a sweet distraction of His delightful creation in my time of distress, He cares for me and for Steve in our times of distress too.  He has provided for our needs despite the incredible expenses, sustained us during multiple special events when extraordinary measures were needed to keep me as safe as possible, and granted me the time and space to get well when I cannot work.  I am grateful for my incredibly loving husband, a pretty home and gardens to enjoy when I cannot go out, and sparing of my abilities to think take care of my basic needs.  Sometimes I need to wait for the Lord’s timing on some of these things which is o.k. too.  I have learned to appreciate blessings in smaller packages with gratitude as they present themselves each day . . .

So I choose to take to heart His statement, His promise to care for all of the details of my life.  He knows all about what is happening over here and desires for me to be courageous, not afraid.  He has laid it on my heart that He has a plan and a future for my life (Jeremiah 29:11) and that nothing will separate me from Him or His will (Romans 8:38).  I get this.  Perhaps it’s why I don’t spend as much time crying anymore when the wretchedness comes.  Instead I’ll say,

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Romans 5 (ESV)

With the lightness of heart shown to me by my Creator God this afternoon in my time of need, I’ll take the last word of the paragraphs granted by His grace and noted above:

This new day will come anyways, and no matter what may come or others may say, I will find a way to play with lightness of heart in celebration of the One who goes before me and will never go away!

Thank you Jesus for your Word, for your gift of words.  Thank you for helping me get through that to which you have called me and should any good shine through may it be for your glory Lord.  If it is your will I ask for your healing mercies and a time of blessing.  I lift up my husband (Steve), and my brother (Mike) too for your anointing and blessing.  If there is anything hindering our walk with You, please guide us, restore us through your Holy Spirit so that we may delight in sweet fellowship with you all of our days.

In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

HouseSparrow