If You Can’t See God

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you couldn’t see?

Maybe you are blind or you have some other kind of disability. When we struggle with something or face difficulties, it can be hard to understand how God will work it out for good.

Meet Fanny Crosby. Fanny had a hard life. In fact, to hear her story at first, it’s hard to imagine that she found any joy at all. And yet, Fanny Crosby was one of the most joyful, talented, wise and influential women in history.

Fanny Crosby was born in 1820 in Brewster, New York. When she was only 6-weeks-old, she caught a cold and got very sick. Even her eyes got inflamed and painful. The doctors treated the little girls the best they knew how, but by the time she got well, Fanny had lost her sight. No one really knows whether her blindness was caused by the medicine or something that could not have been prevented.

Before Fanny was a year old, her father died so she was raised by her mother and grandmother. Both of them were devout Christians and taught Fanny about Jesus. They taught Fanny to study hard, read the Bible and memorize Scripture. In fact, starting at 10-years-old, Fanny memorized five chapters of the Bible every single week!

Fanny was only 8-years-old when she wrote her first poem describing her blindness. By that time, she had accepted the fact that she could not see as part of God’s plan for her and determined to use it to glorify Him. She said that if she were offered perfect sight, she would not take it. Fanny believed that if she could see, she might have been distracted by all the beautiful things around her and forget to sing and praise God!

So, Fanny used her talents to glorify God. In her lifetime, she wrote over 8,000 hymns and gospel songs including some of the most poplar hymns we sing today like, “Blessed Assurance” and “To God be the Glory”. In 1843, Fanny traveled to Washington D.C. to help persuade the government to support education for the blind, and she was the very first woman to speak to the United States Senate!

When Fanny wasn’t composing songs, she spent much of her time teaching at the New York Institute for the Blind. Once, when an epidemic of cholera struck New York City, rather than flee for safety, Fanny stayed at the NYIB to nurse the sick. She also worked hard to care for the poor saying, “from the time I received my first check for my poems, I made up my mind to open my hand wide to those who needed assistance.” Fanny is remembered for her rescue missions work almost as much as for her songs.

Does it ever feel like you can’t see God’s work in your life?

Do you ever ask God why He made you a certain way?

Do you wonder why you have to struggle with some things that don’t seem fair?

Next time you do, try praising God using one of Fanny’s songs. I think it will encourage you!

To hear some of Fanny Crosby’s songs follow these link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNVCcph6cnI&list=PLD75EEB725D137135.

Was, Is and Will Be

moving-forward-1445758-mIn March of last year, my parents threw a big party. It was a special event to show off their grandkids who live out of state and to celebrate the publication of my first book, The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story. When they chose the date, no one realized that it would land neatly on top of the same weekend they began moving from the house they’ve lived in for seventeen years.

It was a bit maddening for my mother! Half of her life had already migrated to a new address, while she was expecting up to 80 guests at the old house! But, the dynamics created by the convoluted schedule were magical; it was in the chaos that I found redemption.

Part of moving is inevitably going through piles of old “stuff”—letters buried at the back of the desk and forgotten five years before, stuffed animals loved right out of their fur, photo albums lovingly created and abandoned on book shelves, paperbacks enjoyed once but not worth reading again, dusty silk flower arrangements, school year books, gymnastics trophies…but, among the mundane, we found precious things like blankets crocheted by Grandma and handmade baby dresses.

I plucked a photo album from the stack and flipped through the first several pages. My own face, barely recognizable stared back at me. There I was, sitting in this same room, ten Christmases past, a shell of myself, a skeleton of a woman. My eyes were haunted by dark gray shadows and ringed with fatigue. Though I must have been watching someone open a gift, there was no light in my eyes. I remember now, calculating how many calories were in that cinnamon roll my mother made me eat and wondering if anyone would notice if I left and went for a run.

God says He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Praise Him that I am not so! Because He is, my was, is not my is. And my will be is even better.

One reason for the party was to celebrate the publication of my book. As I wrote the book, I effectively closed my “was” chapter, and stepped bravely into “is”. That weekend, plowing through my parents’ closets brought the differences between was and is into distinct contrast. I can see clearly what God has done to redeem my past.

Some things that marked this final stay in my parents’ old home as the dawning of a glorious is:

Every morning, I sat and sipped coffee with my Dad instead of leaving the house to go for a 20 mile run.

I took cat naps with my mother instead of fearing how many pounds I would accumulate while resting.

I looked at my baby pictures and thought, “I was adorable!” instead of despising my appearance.

I walked my mom’s dog and stopped to smell her neighbor’s flowers instead of trying to turn it into a power walk.

I ate some of my grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies.

I didn’t fall asleep in church because my brain was starved for energy. Instead I relished the pastor’s sermon and lifted my hands in worship.

I didn’t overhear my parents discussing my illness in anxious, hushed tones.

All of these observances culminated on the Saturday afternoon of the party. Almost 80 of my parents’ friends poured through the house. These were people who had prayed for me and held my parents’ hands when I went to college, and when they received worried phone calls from my dorm supervisor. These people prayed for me even though they didn’t know me. These people knew my story, knew my family’s pain in the middle of my eating disorder and held us before the throne. These people are part of the reason I am here today.

Today is new. I am fuller, happier. I am free from fear of food and compulsory exercise. Today, I see the world as so much bigger than myself. Thank God that I am not the same as I was.

And even more glorious? I’m the not same as I will be. God has promised that I cannot conceive of the good things He has planned for me. He has promised that one day I will behold the face of my Savior and I will be like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). He has promised me a future and hope.

Last year, I recognized redemption. One weekend was a microcosm of the span of my life and I can see clearly how God redeemed me. It is in that context that I am more excited than ever, more grateful than ever that God has redeemed my soul. I love is and new, I am joyful now, but I am ever so excited about what will be.

Questions:

What is one evidence that Christ has made your life new? How is your “is” different than your “was”? Can you use this to share the Gospel with others?
2. Are you still struggling with the guilt and fears of “was”? What do you think you need to truly feel new?
3. If you let your imagination run, what do you think “will be” will look like?

 

In the Wake of the Storm–Protecting Our Own

I write as one blooming in puddles the aftermath of a tempest. In the wake a horrific storm—the kind that turns the sky sallow, rips roots from the ground, lifts homes and drops them in strange places, I am watching it. I am watching the clouds recede but know they are merely bearing their cruel chaos forward to other homes and lives.

My readers here know my story. For more than a decade I was caught up in the storm of anorexia. Some could see it happening; those close enough could see the toll taken by, even feel the gusts of metaphorical winds. Others, a bit farther way saw the storm as one watching it on the horizon. It looked menacing enough that some took shelter, took precautions to guard their daughters and loved ones from this tsunami.

It finally dropped me. A bit ragged—worn, but whole. And in it’s wake, there are huge puddles, inches of water and the sun has come up and a rainbow welcomes me to life again. And so it’s from this place of awakening, this place of stretching wide in the clear blue of freedom that I now watch the receding clouds and wonder of the havoc they will wreak on someone else.

Storms have varying impacts. Growing up in Oklahoma, on more than one occasion we saw side-by-side homes—one left the other taken. Winds vary and shift; what struck from the north may swing wide and assault from the south next.

And so when I read this story, my heart shook. The memories of shame, fear, confusion, anxiety and loneliness are fresh enough that I empathize with a broken heart.

I was 14 when insecurity and shame overtook me. In response, I constricted my entire being hoping to control at least what remained of me. But this little girl, this little Fern, hasn’t yet taken first steps. She has not yet said, “Mama” or beheld her own face in a mirror. She hasn’t picked a favorite food or color or experimented with a hobby and already the vicious storm that is our world is assaulting her. Already, the cacophony of personal opinions, thoughtless remarks and ignorant stereotypes are pounding on her tiny doorstep. Already the mold has been cast into which she will never fit.

The storm against identity, individuality, sacred life and undefinable beauty was already raging when she arrived—has been raging for all time. From the day Satan persuaded Eve that she was not created with all that she needed for a full, God-intended life—since then we have been searching, sure that God’s design of and for us is deficient.

Let this not be our legacy. We cannot control the weather; no more can we control the ebb and flow of societal opinion and cultural paradigms. But, within our homes, beginning within our own hearts, we can practice, preach and promote the truth that God has done all things well, every one of us is exquisite in His Creator-eyes. Who is the world to say otherwise?

I love the words of Fern’s mother:
“She is not abnormal. She is not normal. She is individually her and as she grows into a girl, a teen, a woman, she needs to always know to her core that she is exquisite and indefinable by the words of people and by the standards of this world.”

Book Review, God in the ICU

There may be “no atheists in foxholes”; there are certainly few in the intensive care unit of a hospital. However, for the same reason a recent Air Force chaplain was criticized for quoting former U.S. Military Chaplain William T. Cummings, many Christians are reticent to invoke the name of Jesus in a public hospital even in darkest days.

God in the ICU, by Dave Walker, is the story of one doctor who found the courage to pray publicly and privately over his patients and saw the miraculous efficacy of prayer.

Dave Walker wasn’t always bold in his faith. In fact, the story starts with a humble retelling of his first years as an anesthesiologist at a hospital in South Africa. Following a series of personal losses, Walker doubted God’s existence and, if there was a God, certainly doubted His character.

Like so many of us, Walker’s heart cried out, “How can a loving God let things like these happen?”

But that’s only the beginning. God re-introduced Himself to Walker in a very personal way. As he began to grow in his faith, Walker felt supernaturally compelled to pray over his patients. It started slowly, one at a time, then intercession became a habit. Not only did he pray quietly in the operating room, but he asked his patients personally if he could pray with and for them. He approached grieving and terrified family members, asking again if he could pray with and for them.

The first part of Walker’s book tells his own story of reawakening to the God of love, the God of miracles and the God who is sovereign over even the most painful circumstances. The last two thirds of, God in the ICU, tell a wide variety of individual stories.

Walker recounts supernatural, instantaneous healings as a result of prayer. He tells of finding and sharing the comfort of Father God in the midst of long drawn out illness. He describes how prayer transformed difficult relationships. Perhaps most importantly and most applicable to the reader, Walker tells how, through prayer, his own spirit was quickened to hear, understand and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit, even when they seemed contrary to logic.

This book is much more than a good read. Personally, it created a hunger in me to learn to speak to God in such an intimate way. Walker is an excellent writer with unique metaphors and poignant descriptions. I couldn’t put the book down. It is remarkably entertaining, but simultaneous it reaches the reader on a much deeper level.

Walker’s book directs immense glory to God. He reminds us of God’s majesty in the fantastic creation of human bodies. Walker highlights God’s unparalleled goodness and mercy. He tunes our ears to God’s voice and our points our eyes to search for God’s good purposes in all things.

Finally, God in the ICU is a bulwark against anxiety concerning evangelism and intercession in public places. Walker proves that God is in our darkest hours, in the moments when we need intensive care. He cannot be banished, and it is only to our good that we acknowledge Him, praise Him and point to Him. God alone brings healing and God alone is our salvation. Let us take courage and follow Dr. Walker’s example boldly bringing God, through prayer, into every moment of our lives.