Friday, January 19, 2007

Weekly Word for January 19, 2007

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord raises up those who are bowed down;
The Lord loves the righteous; . . .

(Psalm 146: 1 & 8)

He seemed so big, and so angry - to the little girl I was way back then. He sat in the corner, with his cigar always in his hands - and didn’t seem to talk very much. When he did talk, it was more like barking at us - his grandchildren. As he sat in the corner, one hand always seemed to rest on his face and cheek, and it was only later that I learned of the pain that was constantly there. As a little child, I only knew that this man never smiled - and always seemed angry at me. For me, he was nothing like the other grandpa I knew - and so I didn’t miss him - when he was gone . . .

The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord raises up those who are bowed down; . . .

It was only as I became an adult, that I learned about the man who was my father’s father. As a little girl, I didn’t know him at all. I didn’t want to know him, because I was afraid of him. What I did know, was that he only had a few of his fingers on each hand. He had been a baker, and while working with a slicing machine - there was a terrible accident - and some of his fingers were lost. He had made cakes for my birthday. But I don’t remember them. I have seen the pictures, but the memories have somehow faded away. What I do remember, is wondering why he was always so angry, and being afraid to ask.

As I got older, I learned the truth about my grandfather. He had nerve damage in his jaw and face. The pain was always there, and he didn’t know how to stop it. His head always hurt, and the yelling of little children made it worse. When my grandmother died, my grandfather seemed to get even more distant - and more angry. As a little girl, I didn’t understand about pain, or even heartache. I didn’t understand about life at all - - - until I had to face my own heartache and pain . . .

How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God; . . . Who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free.
(Psalm 146: 5 & 7)

I was sure that “no one” understood the pain I was feeling. I knew that my husband didn’t understand, and my children seemed tired of their mother always being sick. I had been seeing a therapist, trying to get over the emotions and the pain of being abused throughout my life. But the pain was growing, and I didn’t know what to do.

I can still remember the day, driving my car, and knowing that the pain I felt inside of my being - was more than I could bear. I was supposed to pick up Mike after school. But it had been a roller coaster of emotions the entire day. So as Mike got in to the car, I hoped and prayed that he wouldn’t see what a mess I was. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I could feel the terror - just below the surface. To this day, I don’t remember what we talked about. What I do remember, is hoping that I would sound OK. The radio was playing, and I was trying to pretend that I was alright. But I wasn’t. All sorts of strange thoughts kept going through my mind. I started to wonder if my son would have been better off without me. I started to feel guilty and sad - for all that my children had gone through in the past few years. As these thoughts went through my head, my hands started to shake, and soon my heart was pounding in my chest. The panic had hit, and I couldn’t stop it.

I saw the road to the counseling center up ahead of me. When I came to it, I turned right, instead of going home. As I did, I tried to explain to Mike that I just needed to stop there for a moment. But he started arguing, he wanted to go home. As I pulled in to the parking lot, I turned toward him, trying to explain. That’s when I saw his face - before he could hide it. He looked so tired and disgusted with me. At that moment, he just didn’t understand anything. And I didn’t know how to help him. How could I make him understand about the pain and heartache - - - that had overtaken my life . . .

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous;
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
(Psalm 34: 18 & 19)

That day happened over 16 years ago. So much has happened since then. But the memories are still as fresh, as if it had happened yesterday. I know that my son loves me, but he did not have the ability to understand all that I was going through in my life. It is the same for most of us. We can care, and even love another person - and still not understand the deep pain and heartaches that they are experiencing. That is - until the Lord opens our eyes, and our hearts . . .

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.
The righteous cry - and the Lord hears, . . .
(Psalm 34: 15 & 17)

I belonged to a woman’s bible study. It was a group of women from different churches, different ideas and beliefs, with one common thread. Each of us came to that group - hoping to learn more about, and grow closer to - the Lord. At least that was my hope for the group. I was the assistant pastor, and I had known most of the ladies for many years. Quite a few of the ladies had helped me, when I left my first husband. They had offered me furniture and household necessities, when I had none. Norma had been a part of the group, until just before she died. Each of us, seemed to draw support and help from this one group of ladies.

So it was this group, who listened as the woman told us about her heartache in leaving her husband. With tears in her eyes, she asked for prayer and support to leave the man she described as controlling and abusive. As she spoke, many of the woman spoke to her in words of encouragement. Their eyes showed concern, and they promised their prayers and support. That night, I sat there biting my tongue. I didn’t say a word, I only watched. I knew the woman’s husband as a friend, someone who had offered kindness and laughter - when Jenny and I were alone and homeless. “How could this be true?” I wondered silently. But I kept quiet as she talked.

As the women left the bible study that night, I knew that most had believed what she had said. But I didn’t. As I got ready to leave, I told my friend and partner that I thought she was lying. “You may be right”, she said. And I left feeling heartsick for the man I knew, the man she was about to hurt.

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

When I saw him again, his heart was broken - and I could feel it deep inside of me. My heart seemed to skip a beat, the day he walked into the room. It surprised me, how I could feel both happiness at seeing him - and heartache for what he was going through. That was the day, that Ted came back into my life. He had been one of the friends who had helped me, when I was alone and homeless. Now - he was the one in need of help.

Over the next few days and then weeks, we started talking. Soon, we talked to each other every day. I listened as he poured out his heart to me. My heart broke, as he talked about the pain that she had left inside of him. We talked and talked, about anything and everything. We had become - best friends.

And then one day, as Ted was doing some work around the ministry, the head of the ministry invited him to come to one of our meetings. Many of the ladies from the woman’s bible study - would be there that day. I watched his face, and knew that he was hesitant to go. He wasn’t so sure he should join us, especially since he would be the only man there. I have to admit - I wasn’t so sure he should be there as well. I knew what these women had heard about him - all those months earlier. But despite our fears , he came to the meeting anyways . . .

Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord raises up those who are bowed down;
The Lord loves the righteous; . . .
(Psalm 146: 1 - 8)

As the ladies came into the room, they tried to hide their surprise at seeing him there. I watched them, as they carefully looked him over. I could see it in their eyes, they had believed her - and didn’t trust him. They politely made room for him, as he sat down next to me - fidgeting uncomfortably. I didn’t know what to do. Silently, I started praying - hoping that the meeting would go by quickly.

As the meeting started, the leader went over what was going on at the ministry. She told the women about the work Ted had being doing - fixing things around the property. She then went on to other business that needed to be discussed. I don’t remember much about the meeting. But I was glad - when it was almost time to leave. We were almost finished, and so it was time to pray. We didn’t have a set form of prayer. We tried to let God lead us in “what” and “who” to pray for. We also allowed anyone who felt the urge - to do the actual praying. As everyone closed their eyes, I peeked over at Ted. He had closed his eyes, and his hands were gripped together. At that moment, I wanted to protect him. He hadn’t said a word during the meeting, and I knew he felt judged. So as we started to pray, I silently prayed for Ted. And then, it happened . . .

The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord raises up those who are bowed down;
The Lord loves the righteous; . . .

I heard one of the women start to pray out loud, and then I heard her tears as she reached over to Ted. “I feel your heartache” she said. “And God is going to heal it” she continued. The tears were running down her face, and then I heard others crying. They knew, and I hadn’t said a word. The Lord had made sure that they knew Ted’s heart. As the prayer continued, I started to cry. On that day, The Lord’s presence was right there - filling the room. He was there - for all of us.

Since that day, so many things have changed. The friendship that Ted and I had, became the basis of our love. And on the day that we were married, we asked God to continue walking with us - into our forever . . .

I will give Thee thanks with all my heart; I will sing praises to Thee before the gods.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me;
Thou wilt stretch forth Thy hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Thy right hand will save me.
The Lord will accomplish what concerns me;
(Psalm 138: 1, 7 & 8)

All of us have faced times of heartache and pain. We all have times in our lives when we wonder if anyone can understand what we are going through - times when even those who love us - cannot understand the hurts that fill our being. At those moments - there is One who does. He knows just what we need, to heal our broken hearts - and set us free to live our lives.

As you walk this road we call “Life”, will you ask Him to walk with you? When you do, miracles happen. And our world is changed - - - forever . . .

“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)

God bless you and keep you - until we meet back here again!

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers


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