Where Do Miracles Come From

Monarch Butterfly Photo by Sherri Woodbridge

you want the pain to stop
the emotional pain
caused by the physical
the mental
caused by the emotional

you want to live again
the way you used to

but used-to’s
don’t come too frequently anymore
and you’re left
stuck in the circumstances
you never signed up for
and you try
you try so very hard
to make the best of it
but your best
measures so much lower
than it once did

and you think
there is no God
you are sure
for how could God –
a God full of grace and mercy –
do this to you?
to one you love?
and you don’t understand
and you are confused
perhaps
angry
bitter
grieving
despairing
and you’re lack
of understanding
doesn’t mean
there is no God
or that He is cruel

you hope for a miracle
but where do miracles come from
if there is no god?

do they float out of nothingness
a just become
because we will them to
or do they come from that God
you say doesn’t exist

or does he?

your answer may not come
in the way you are expecting
it may not come
at this very moment
when you are desperate for it to come
it may not come for years
it may not come at all

but still there remains
a real Father
you can run to
fall into
and find rest
and peace
and strength
and if you think about it
isn’t that a miracle itself?

My Superhero

img_0346Who Is Your Superhero?

My family and I were sitting around the dinner table, talking about how our day had gone. My youngest son, then 15, began to tell about an assignment he had been given by his teacher earlier that day.

He was to research a career choice that he was considering after graduating from high school and pursuing college studies in that field. He has held an interest in the medical field and has often talked about becoming a Physicians Assistant. Since this choice had already been taken and couldn’t be duplicated, he was asked what his second choice was, at which he promptly replied, “A Superhero”. At that point, his teacher informed him that he needed to take this assignment more seriously. To that, his response was, “What about all the little kids who need Superheroes?” Needless to say, he ended up doing a report on Lifeguards.

Everyone at the dinner table laughed. Except me. I admit that a slight smile did creep across my face, but given the mood I was in, I silently muttered under my breath, “I need a Superhero.” Within seconds, a small voice from within whispered, “I’ll be your Superhero. ”

A true friend will usually stop what they are presently doing and give us their undivided attention when we need it. Their words of comfort and encouragement can often be all that is needed for us to press on. Their words of advice may be just the key to solve our current dilemma. They can be just the vessel from which the wisdom of God will flow. But how often do we, in our cries of distress, seek out someone who we hope will rescue and save us from the doom and destruction that surrounds and threatens to destroy us? If we hang around long enough, we learn that our friends, our family – they aren’t Superheroes. They can’t remove the darkness. They can’t fill the void that was left by a loved one.

How desperately the creator of our hearts, our minds, and our souls, desires the place in our hearts that we give away so readily to others. When all our other resources have been exhausted, we often have the tendency to turn to the One who knows us best – last. The One who searches us, has examined us, knows us, understands and sees us – He who is intimately accessible – He is the one to whom we should most readily run to in our time of need. The One who sees the beginning from the end, who knows every turn, sees every obstacle. He is the One best able to help.

By the time dinner had ended that evening, I had already gone through my list of help in the last 24 hours. I had enlisted my husband, to whom I poured out my heart. I had confided in a dear friend and cried with my daughter. The darkness lay heavy upon my heart, with no hope of light piercing its clutches. Even my son, the “wanna-be Superhero” tried some counseling techniques on me. It is not until I cried out for a Superhero did I actually find One.

As I sat there, knowing that gentle whisper to be the heart of God, shame quietly filled my soul as I realized in my own efforts, I had sought answers in my own way to help ease the pain that I was experiencing. While thinking about God in the midst of the battle, I hadn’t seriously called upon Him to instruct me. He is a God who sees the smallest details of our lives, sees the beginning from the end, makes the earth shake and the mountains tremble. He has the power to turn every pain into a purpose. Surely – surely – this God, my God, can win this battle for me. Surely my God can zap my foes and turn them around, running for cover. In that moment of truth, as I confessed my sin of having other gods before Him and neglecting to call upon His power first, a supernatural strength empowered me. Hope was restored and peace permeated my heart and destroyed the despair that hung over my head like a raging Godzilla. The demons disappeared. My Superhero had saved me.

Sometimes when we cry out for help, the answers come simply.
Yes.
No.
Go.
Get out.
Problem solved.

Sometimes we learn the answers are not so simple and can be hard to understand.
Stay.
Persevere.
Trust.
Endure.
Wait.

Sometimes the answers do and will come through the voice of a spouse, a friend, a pastor or even a stranger. It is clear that God places special people in our lives, whom He supernaturally enables to help us through the hard times, but they are there as a catalyst and not as our cure-all. Only God has the power to do such supernatural things. Only He brings the comfort that eases the pain and heals the hurt. It is best to call on Him first and then allow Him to bring to us those who can best be used for His purposes.

I AM. To Moses who floundered in his doubt, he said, “I AM THAT I AM”. He is a shield, our protection from the storm. He is the light in the darkness. He is the Almighty, the great Comforter and Healer. He is all that is needed. He Is.

Bittersweet

IMG_7318.JPGdeath
bittersweet
tears shed more for my loss
a sadness turned to joy at your gain

a few hours back
I sat
while watching you struggle
your breathing labored
your brow furrowed
your grip loosening from life

not only did you no longer hold onto my hand
but it was evident
you were no longer holding onto this life

beginning to see the moment after
the beginning of forever

and in your pain
the lingering thought
never far away…

“It could always be worse.”

that’s what you always said
when pain
tried
to steal your joy

nevermore
will you have to lessen reality
nevermore
will you have to compare
your suffering
with another
nevermore
will you be asked to walk
through shadowed valleys

for
nevermore
will you walk
in the valleys
for you now walk
eternal life in green pastures,
beside still waters
forevermore walk

with the King

looking upon what was once you,
i am granted
a holy experience
unexpected
beautiful
glorious

death is a holy thing
it can be a thing of worship
a thing of praise

the final thing
you teach me
sitting beside you upon your bed.

a holy moment
with its depth of peace
with its loosening of this life
as the passing to the next takes place

a thing of worship
where the sovereignty of the Almighty
clashes with earthly desires and hopes
evidence

that He is

a thing of praise
when pain ceases
removed
by the hand of God
so as to take your hand
instead
leading you from death
into life

what gratitude fills me
to have stood on holy ground
to have felt His goodness, His presence
in that room

to see that the hand of God
had taken you – sick and dying –
and made you whole
made you alive again

to see that the hand of God
had removed the struggle in the living
removed the laboring in the breathing
removed the furroweing of brow from your face

your grip
loosened in death
holds tight to the hand of God
for eternity

i can’t wait
til I see you again.

Running Into His Arms

IMG_7318.JPGWhen my son was born, until the age of almost three, he had constant ear infections. After the third or fourth time, it became easier to identify that another was coming on and I could get him to the doctor before it became too painful. Most of the time.

I do recall one experience, having that motherly instinct of knowing he was getting another and taking him in to the doctor. His regular doctor was out and another doctor saw him. He assured me after checking him briefly that there was no cause for worry. I wanted to assure him that I was most certain he was wrong.

At twelve o’clock that night, my son woke up screaming, his ear filled with pain. I did everything I could to help him. I gave him Tylenol. I held him. I rocked him. I cried with him. He screamed in pain until morning.

A few weeks ago, I had an ear infection. It began with a gradual achiness followed by intense pain and pressure for about five days, at which time I felt it was going to burst and to be quite honest, I almost wanted it to just to relieve the pain and the pressure.

No one ever gave me Tylenol. No one held or rocked me or saw me crying in the dark when I could not sleep because the pain was so intense, but then, they did not know because I was not crying out in agony.

This is what I learned…

When my son, at the age of two, was in pain, he writhed in discomfort and screamed for release from the grip of his ear infection. Oh how I wanted to comfort him and hold him tight so that he knew he was not alone. I rocked him to try to soothe him and as I held him closely, I cried with him, wanting badly to be able to take his pain away.

When I was in pain a few weeks ago, for the most part, I kept it inside. No one else needed to hear how much it really hurt. No one could rock me and comfort me and it made me think… Isn’t that what God wants us to do with him? Yet, we try to keep the pain in our lives and the heartache we experience hidden deep inside, when all the while He is waiting for us to cry out to Him for help.

A friend was saying that another of her friends was not going to be able to do an event that they had planned for this year. She said the other person had been having some recent struggles and had to cancel. Then she withdrew and ‘disappeared’ (not literally) from her network of friends. My friend made a comment that went something like this: “I’ve told her there’s still a spot for her on the team, but she’s got to walk through the door.”

I liked that.

Do I sit and suffer, failing to run through the door crying out to God for relief? The only One who can truly subside the pain? Do I writhe in pain when it hurts so bad inside that I think I cannot tolerate it for another minute or do I run quickly, first, to the One whose arms are always open wide and waiting? The pain of life can come in a foreclosure on the only home you have known. A divorce. An illness. The loss of a loved one. You lose your job. The list goes on.

Sometimes that is the only thing we can and should do. Sometimes that is the best thing to do. To become like a child and run into the arms God and just let Him hold you and rock you. Let Him soothe you and wipe the tears as He wraps you safely in His arms.

He is waiting to love you. Are you ready to be loved as only He can do? Then… Run!

My Burden Bearer

O God, listen to my cry!

Hear my prayer.

From the ends of the earth,

I cry to you for help

when my heart is overwhelmed.

Lead me to the towering rock of safety…

Psalm 61:1-2

 I am a big fixer.  I want everyone to be happy.  Smiling.  Content.  But that’s not reality.  The reality is that it is not up to me to fix everything.  And, it’s not up to me to keep everyone happy, smiling, and content. To do that, I’d have to be in control of the universe. That’s not going to happen. Ever

I realized yesterday I tend to coddle people.  I realized yesterday I don’t like coddling people.  I realized yesterday that I taught my son to do that.  I realized yesterday – that is not a good thing.  And, in all of my yesterday-realizations, I realized – I need to stop.  The world’s happiness has not been made my burden.  I am accountable for only myself in how I choose react to the next set of circumstances that this world throws at me.

Roger Crawford once said, “Being challenged in this life is inevitable. Being defeated is a choice.”

I have a chronic illness and how I choose to deal with it is what matters. Will I choose to believe and trust that my God is bigger than all of this or – will I demonstrate to others that life is a burden to bear and I want them all to know what I suffer?

It is one thing to suffer.  It is another to “suffer” for the sake of attention. That is the “suffering” I wish to avoid.  For myself and toward others. Pity is never pretty.

When I was a little girl, I used to lie in bed at night when I couldn’t sleep, pretending to be a patient in a hospital so people would come and visit me.  In my illusions, I received the attention I longed for. But I am not a little girl anymore and illusions aren’t real and certainly don’t bring comfort.

Now when I lay awake in bed, sometimes I think about those sleepless nights as a little girl and I don’t want to be that needy person.  I want to be strong for myself and supportive for others. I can only do that by pairing up with the One who said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.”* 

Not fully understanding, I use to cringe at that verse. Wasn’t a yoke heavy and bulky? Burdensome? I had seen those things. How could they lighten your load? Then I did a little research. A yoke is heavy and bulky – a burden. But – when paired with a fellow burden bearer – Jesus – it suddenly becomes much, much lighter. And Jesus, being a gentle and oh-so-humble-teacher, teaches us to carry our loads and find rest for our weary souls – when we are yoked to Him, our fellow burden bearer.

Whether it’s another day walking slow and painfully stiff, or whether it’s another morning weeding my garden without pain, I will be accountable as to how I spent this day. I want to spend it well and not end it pitifully seeking illusory attention. Besides, if I am yoked to Him, I’m getting all the strength and attention I need and I now can spend those restless, sleepless nights praising God for His gentleness and faithfulness while praying for others.

From my heart ~ Sherri

*Matthew 11:29 New American Standard Bible (NASB)