Friday, September 22, 2006

Weekly Word for September 22, 2006

Weekly Word - September 22, 2006

I sought the Lord, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.
This poor man cried and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.
(Psalm 34: 4 & 6)

It was one of those days, when the worries and fears seemed bigger than anything I could handle. There were bills to be paid - as well as shopping and errands to do - but I couldn’t stop worrying. I hadn’t been able to work in almost a year, at least not working to make any money, but the bills were still there to be paid. Ted was working so many hours, and still - we never seemed to catch up. I worried about how tired he always was - I worried about Christmas and how to buy presents - I guess I worried about everything. As I thought about all my worries and fears, I couldn’t help but wonder “why”. Why had I had the accident? Why had I gone through so much? Why did Ted and I have to struggle so hard . . .

O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
O fear the Lord, you His saints; For to those who fear Him, there is no want.

(Psalm 34: 8 & 9)

“Why me?” So many times in our lives, we find ourselves asking that question. “Why?” Why do bad things happen to us? Where is God in the middle of our struggles?

I have to admit, I’ve asked those questions quite a few times in my life. As I think about it now, I remember back to times when I wondered if God was even in my life - or if I would even survive . . .

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.
(Psalm 34: 15)

We had gone on vacation to the mountains. It was a yearly event that we never missed. But this year was a bit different. I had gone into therapy just 6 months earlier, working hard to deal with just who I was. I knew it had been difficult on my husband and children, as my emotions always seemed to be so raw. I tried to explain it to them - I tried to keep things normal - but nothing seemed normal at the time. I was always crying, and there were times of panic - as I dealt with being raped and abused as a little girl. So as we headed off on vacation, I hoped - and I prayed - that everything would be alright . . .

The first few days seemed to go just fine. We went to the amusement park, and we went to the beach. We took a boat ride, and then walked downtown to see the shops. Each night we walked down to the beach near our cabin, and fed the ducks that came up on the shore. It all seemed so peaceful, and so beautiful. And then one day, we took a trip to a nearby river. My husband and the kids all had their bathing suits on, and they were going to take tubes and float down the river. My job was to pick them up when then got to the end. So I dropped them off, and got in the car and drove down to the bridge where I would be picking them up. I had to wait for a bit. And so I walked up on to the bridge, just watching the water as it rushed underneath it. As I waited, I thought about my children and my husband. I thought about all the things that we had been through over the past few months. As I watched the water pounding on the rocks below, I started to feel the despair well up inside of me. Why did this happen? Why did he do it? Why did my kids have to go through this? For just that moment, I wondered if my children would be better off - without me . . .

The righteous cry and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34: 17 & 18)

For just that moment, I thought about jumping. I thought about letting go of the pain I felt inside of me. And then - - - I thought about my children - and how much I loved them. I wanted to be in their lives - I wanted to live . . .

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

At that moment, I found myself praying. I asked the Lord to help me to live and get healthier. And He did. But it didn’t happen overnight, or even in the next month, or the next year. It all took time. I hadn’t been abused just one time - but over a period of years. And the emotions of that pain and betrayal took time to heal. It took time to learn just “who” I was, and accept the person I could be.

The righteous cry and the Lord hears,

Over the next few years, I had to deal with “me”. I had to deal with the mistakes I had made, and the ways that I dealt with those I loved. I had to deal with my marriage and the hurts that were there as well. As I got stronger and healthier, my marriage seemed to get worse. Both of us, had hurt the other. Things weren’t getting better. And as I faced the choices before me, it came time to leave . . .

It wasn’t easy, but I started a new life with my daughter. We had moved into a house, and I was working to become a counselor. I was babysitting to make ends meet - and then I got sick . . .

Many are the afflictions of the righteous;
But the Lord delivers him out of them all . . .
(Psalm 34: 19)

I was so sick! I couldn’t even take care of the baby. As I sat in the doctor’s office, I wondered what was wrong with me. She had taken blood, and done tests - and still there wasn’t an answer. As I sat there looking at her, I burst into tears. “What is wrong with me?” I asked her. But she didn’t have an answer. As I drove back home, I was so confused. I had just seen my ex-husband, and the things he had said - had hurt terribly. That night, all I could think about were the words he had said. What if he was right? What if I had made a huge mistake? Why was I so sick? Was God really cursing me?

The Lord redeems the soul of His servants;
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.
(Psalm 34: 21 & 22)
Why? I finally did find out “why” I was so sick. I had been bitten by a disease-carrying tick. The disease attacked my lungs and my heart, and it took quite a few months for me to get better. During that time, I fought with myself - wondering if God had left me. I prayed, and begged - and the Lord answered me . . .

And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

So many times in our lives, we wonder why bad things happen to us. We wonder if God has left us, or if He is even in our lives at all. But the truth is, we also seem to turn to Him - when times are tough. In the midst of my pain and sickness, I prayed a lot. During those times, I turned to my friends for help, and prayer. In the middle of my weakest times, I always found Him there - holding my hand - and answering my prayers. All I had to do - - - was ask!

My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.
(Psalm 34: 2 &3)

Norma didn’t have much time left, and we both knew it. She had just gotten home from the hospital, and her movements were very slow. She had asked me to help her up, and so I did. We slowly walked outside, and I thought she might want to sit near her birdfeeder. But as we got closer, she just kept on walking. Slowly, she made her way to the side of the house. Very carefully, I helped her to sit down. Then, she spread her hands out - to touch the grass below us. We sat there, not saying a word, I watched her take in the world around her. At that moment, I knew she was saying “good-bye”.

As I drove away that day, I remember the sobs that came. She had never asked it, but I finally did. “Why Lord?” “Why?”

I guess that’s when the Lord gave me the dream. In it, I saw myself working in a vineyard type place. There was fruit that was in this square field. I knew that I had a job to do - and so I was working there. And then it was as if I saw the place from farther away. I saw roads and square fields - and I saw her. She was working somewhere else - roads away from me. It was another field, with fruit that was all white. I kept trying to see more - but that’s when I woke up . . .

But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.
Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

(Psalm 34: 10 & 11)

That night, Norma slipped into a coma. She left this world just over a week later. Each day I visited her, talking to her as she lay there - wondering what I was going to do without her. And then the last day finally came. I got there that morning, and somehow knew it was time. I asked her husband if I could visit with her alone. As I sat there by her side, I held her hand. And then I started to just talk to her. “What am I going to do without you?” I asked her. As I spoke, I watched her eyes move. And for that brief moment, I felt like she was there. “I will miss you” I told her. “But I know you must go, as you have work to do in Heaven - and my job is still here on earth”. As I talked to her, I couldn’t stop the tears from falling - as I told her how much I loved her.

That day, I told Norma “goodbye”. I know that I will see her again - someday. But I miss her. And even though I know that God has His reasons - I don’t always understand them. And that’s the truth. I don’t always know the reasons for the things that happen to each of us. I don’t know why I had an accident and my back was injured. I don’t know why it seems so difficult sometimes to pay all the bills. I guess I don’t know the answers to a lot of things.

But what I do know - is that God knows all the answers. He knows what Ted and I need for each day. He knows what job I need to do - for the ministry - as well as for my health. All I have to do - - - is ask . . .

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity - to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29:11)

Each of us will face times when we wonder - why. All of us face times of trouble and sorrow. Those are the moments when we need God‘s Love in our lives. He is always there - always waiting. All we have to do - - - is ask . . .

God bless you and keep you - as you walk on this road - we call “life” May you hold tight to His hand - through it all!

In His Amazing Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers


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