Sunday, June 24, 2012

Oops - Revisited

I recently made a request on our homeschool group website for recommendations of midwives in my area who attend births in birthing centers and at home.  One response I got was a reminder about an article that was sent to me called "Faith Healing - Trust in God, But See a Doctor".  It was about a little child (and another) who died because the parents/church believed that prayer would heal the child and that taking the child to a doctor would reveal a lack of faith in God.  Following, were some comments about people with such beliefs having their babies at home and the dangers of not getting any medical assistance.  The following is my response (edited for posting).  I spent a lot of time thinking through what I have come to believe and thought it would be appropriate to post it here.

My edited reply:

Thank you for the article.  I meant to read it, but it got away from me before I got back to it.  I read it just now and I totally agree that the use of medical care is appropriate and what happened to these children based on such beliefs was lamentable.  You did not offend me at all.  I am apparently sending the wrong message.  I hope, by the following, to clarify what I truly believe, for it is my desire to know the truth and to share the truth about God to give hope, so that others might be filled with the joy that my family and I now have in Christ Jesus, through our faith in Him.  I am still learning and I may not have everything just right, but I trust that God will lead me and teach me as I seek Him through prayer and through His word.

Please understand that I am not opposed to medical care, when needed.  I do not consider it a lack of faith, if I pray for my kids and they continue to be sick.  I consider that it might be a lack of faith, but I recognize that there may be another reason, so I ask God to heal them, and I expect that they will be healed, but I do not kick myself for lack of faith if they continue to be ill.  I remember that God is good all the time and that He works all things together for good for those who love Him and who have been called according to His good purposes.  I figure that there is a reason that they are not healed, and I do not know what the reason is.  I remember Job.  God never told him why bad things happened to Him.  Clearly, Job never wavered in his faith.  I know that our physical bodies die eventually, so it would be rather silly to think that we would always be healed of everything, just because we asked.  Eventually, my day will come, sooner or later.  Eternal life is to know the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom He sent (John 17:3).  If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord.  Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's (Romans 14:8).

What I was trying to communicate that day (when I offended a hurting woman) was my own personal experience with the Living God as I learned to seek Him and trust Him.  I sought God, and He revealed to me that not only was He able to heal my family, but that He would heal us.  We were sick and struggling because we were living in fear and anxiety all of the time.  God showed me that He does not give me a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and of love and of self-control.  He showed me that love was needed to bring healing to our family.  He showed me that He is love and that I needed to believe Him and trust Him.  I always believed that God was real and that He was able to do anything, I just never knew IF He would.  Therefore, I found it very difficult to pray, except in desperation, because I never expected to see any results.  Now, I pray for everything expecting to see results, because the prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective, but I do not judge why my prayers were answered immediately, slowly over time, or seemingly not at all.  God knows why.  I have prayed for many things, with the expectation that I will see it answered with a resounding yes, and I have been blessed to see miraculous results, all glory to God, but there are some things for which I must continue to pray.  I DO seek Him and I search His word to see if there is something more for me to learn, but ultimately, God's will WILL be done.

I have learned that bad things will come our way.  God's word says that in this life we will have trouble.  Sometimes it is a direct result of our own rebellion (Psalm 107).  This was the case for me and for my family.  Sometimes it is allowed by God to test our faith (Job).  Sometimes it is the result of the enemy defending His territory when we step out in faith and proclaim the truth (Paul and believers in the early church, many died and suffered for their faith).  We can not judge that all bad things happen because of a lack of faith.  I never said that if bad things happened in someone's life that it was because of a lack of faith.  I never meant to imply it, either.  The things I said were true.  It was my testimony and my testimony is real.  Our healing was miraculous, but I wasn't seeking healing, rather I was seeking God.  My message was to seek the Lord.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.

I know I said that I asked the Lord for faith to believe and that He gave it to me.  I believed and we were healed.  That is our testimony and it is true.  My testimony is the same as those who approached Jesus physically and were healed, as Jesus pronounced, because of their faith.  God's word is true.  The testimonies given by the writers of the four gospels are true.  Therefore, it is clear that many are healed by faith, but it does not necessarily mean that if one is not healed that it was because of a lack of faith.  Clearly, sometimes it is.  I continue to walk in faith.  I continue to seek the Lord.  We continue to see healing and improvements even now.  I could write pages about all that I have to be thankful for.  I spent most of the day yesterday praising God for all of the good things I am seeing in our lives.  This does not mean that there is not any trouble in my life, just that I am not afraid of it anymore, because I know that God, who is good, is in control.  We still have a tad bit of eczema on the girls.  We still have bedwetting issues.  My three youngest children had one of the worst bugs (coughing fits followed by throwing up because it gags them, sore throat, fever, stomach pain from all of the coughing) and now my older two kids are going through it.  I do not berate myself for lack of faith because these things remain even though I prayed for healing.  I continue to pray, with thanksgiving, and I ask God if there is anything that I need to learn.  I do not know why, but I know there is a reason.  I trust God through it.

Also, we lost our fourth baby to a miscarriage.  I never believed it was a lack of faith that caused it.  I never looked back and thought that, if only I had believed a little bit more that things could be different.  We remembered how many seemingly bad things happened to Joseph, but all of it was necessary to prepare him for and to position him for the work that God had prepared for him to do, which God revealed in advance through his childhood dreams.  We thanked the Lord, after grieving the loss, for the gift of life, though short, and trusted that there was purpose in it, though we did not know what would come of it.  Indeed it was a blessing, and we still talk about our baby, named Joy, as we look back and consider the good things that have come from her very short life.  Because of her unexpected conception and her unexpected loss, we have now graciously received two, soon to be three more amazing children into our lives.  It taught our children to trust God through painful events and it taught them that they can and will recover from loss.  I'm sure there is more, but we can see that much good can come from difficult and painful circumstances.

I may be wrong, but I perceived (because of your reminder about the article being connected to my inquiry and because of the mention of home births in the comments section) that my inquiry about birthing centers and home births may have been interpreted as a rejection of medical help.  My inquiry was not because I am against medical help.  I will gladly receive it, when needed, and I would encourage others to do the same.  I am currently praying for a man related to someone in our group who had a massive heart attack.  I would never suggest that they walk away from the medical help he is receiving right now, but I pray that God would heal him.  I am praying for a seven year old boy, who recently drowned and is recovering from a brain injury.  I would never suggest that they walk away from the medical help that he is receiving.  God is working through that, and the boy's recovery is still miraculous.  When I went to the hospital for preterm contractions at 20 weeks with my third child and was told that my contractions were labor strength and five minutes apart, my cervix was 80% effaced and dilated one centimeter, and that my baby would not survive, I accepted the medicine and medical help.  I prayed through the night for my child's life, but ultimately gave her up to God, realizing that I had no power of my own to do anything to change anything that was happening.  She is now eight years old.

I have my reasons for looking into other birth options, but it is not because I am against medical help.  I am not planning on having this baby at home without any assistance, and I do not consider it a lack of faith in God to have my babies in a hospital setting.  I know that you did not say anything about this and you may not even have thought that these might be my reasons, but I wanted to clarify anyway, for my own pride.  I am fine with having my baby in a hospital (and that may be where it happens), it is just not my preference.  I am fine with medical assistance, if it is needed.  I think it would be foolish for me (me, not others) to have my baby at home unassisted because there are just too many things that I do not know.  So there it is.

I thank you for the article and for the thought it provoked.  It was good for me to think through where my faith lies and what I truly believe.  I'm still learning.  I do not think I have it all figured out.  I am constantly seeking my Heavenly Father to teach me, as I am His child and I may need Him to straighten me out on a few things here and there as I grow.  I think about how my own children think they have things figured out and those of us in the family, including our older children, who are more mature know that they have a ways to go, but we are patient with them as they grow and learn and we trust that they will get it down the road when they are developmentally ready to get it.  I figure that I am still a child and that God will teach me and correct me as I go.  I am thankful that He leads me in paths of righteousness.

Monday, June 18, 2012

It's All About Relationship

I was walking this evening, after tucking the little ones in bed, and I was talking to the Lord about what it means to know Him.  God is love.  He made me in His image.  He made me to love, and He commands me to love Him and to love others.  I can't genuinely love others unless I love Him, and I can't love God unless I spend time with Him and get to know Him.

I realized this.  I can read His word to learn about Him, but I am capable of knowing lots about God and who He is without actually getting to know Him.  I can accept a theology or develop a theology about God without having a relationship with Him.

I also realized this.  I can pray to God just like I might speak to a judge, or a doctor, or a teacher with whom I have no relationship.  I can make the same requests over and over.  I can repeat the same prayers over and over.  I can actually say a prayer without acknowledging Him in my heart.

Adam and Eve walked in the garden and talked with God.  They had a relationship with the Creator of the Universe.  Jesus died for us so that we could be brought back into relationship with the Father, who adopts us as sons.  "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God!"

I want to know God.  I can not remember where I read this, but I will find it again in my Bible, but it says that eternal life is to know God!  I want to know Him!  I want to have a real, genuine relationship with Him!  I want to read the Word and know that these are God's words to me.  I want to pray in relationship.  I am not just speaking to God.  I am talking with God.  He hears me and He answers me.

In order to have a relationship with God, I have to read His word, because they are His words to me.  I have to talk to Him as if He were right there with me, and He is.  I have to act on what I learn about Him and what He reveals to me, then I learn that He is with me.  Then, I learn that hears me.  Then, I learn that I can trust Him.

Reading God's word isn't enough!
Memorizing scripture isn't enough!
Having the right theology isn't enough!
Praying everyday isn't enough!
Trying to obey in my own strength isn't enough!
Trying to love in my own strength isn't enough!

It's all about relationship!
It's all about relationship with HIM!

Having a right relationship with HIM leads us to have a right relationship with others.

God is Love. (1 John 4:8)
A new command I give you, Love one another.  (John 13:34)
The entire law is summed up in one command, "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:14)
Love is the fulfillment of the law.  (Romans 13:10)


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Trying to Understand the Why of it All

(I began this train of thought a week or two ago and thought that I should bring it to a conclusion.)

I know certain things to be true:  God is sovereign.  God is love.  God is good all the time.  His love endures forever.  His faithfulness continues through all generations.  Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.  God rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

I sought the Lord, His kingdom and His righteousness (and continue to do so), and the Lord healed me and my children and has been providing for us and has been teaching us.  I have noticed that there is a direct correlation between sin and sickness in my life.  I have also noticed that when I begin to get bold and share on my blogs and with those around me, Satan attacks.  I might be tempted to come to the conclusion that all sickness and trouble are the result of sin.  Indeed, when things begin to fall apart, I look to see if there are any idols that have crept back into my life.  Usually there are, and I repent and get rid of them as fast as is humanly possible.

But...I was reminded of Job.  His friends suggested all kinds of reasons for his suffering, but the ultimate answer was that God is sovereign and we do not have the right to question Him and His ways.  He can do as He pleases with any of us.  Job had not sinned.  God allowed Satan to test Job.  Job passed the test!

From this, I learn that not all bad things that happen to me are a result of my sin.  Sometimes things will come my way.  My job is not to find out what I may have done to deserve it, but to act in faith, love and righteousness through the storm.

So, I find these things to be true.  Sometimes bad things come our way as a result of our own sin.  Sometimes bad things come our way because we are advancing the kingdom and the enemy is defending his territory.  Sometimes bad things come our way for no apparent reason.  In all of this, God works all things together for good.  Our faith is strengthened.  God's word is always true.

Confirming What I Know

Sometimes I just do not understand myself!  I know something to be true, but I act like it isn't true.  For example, I know that I need to spend time in God's Word everyday and that it helps me to live according to His Word, if His Word is in me.  I know that I need to talk to God all day everyday about everything.  I know that He is real and that He loves me, cares for me, provides for me, and so much more, but then I go and make an idol out of something by making that something more important than God.

Again, my idols are schoolwork and schedules.  These two things always get me.  I am a homeschool mom, so I need to be actually teaching my kids and I need to have schedules in order to get it all done.  There is nothing evil about schoolwork or schedules, but I make them into idols when I place their importance above spending time with my Heavenly Father and obeying His command to love others and forgive others, just as He loves me and has forgiven me.

God tells us not to worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, to present my requests to Him (Philippians 4:6).  We have some math to work on through the summer, I want to keep some semblance of routine going, and I do not want to have to reteach what they already know.  I begin to worry because it is difficult to accomplish anything right now because I am so tired everyday and I wonder how I am going to make it work this coming school year after the baby is born.  Worry leads to pushing the kids to stick to the schedule and using my anger and frustration to "motivate" them to get it done.  Now, I know this doesn't work, but my idol (sticking to the schedule and getting the schoolwork and chores done) is dictating my actions.

If I place God first, and get rid of all my idols, then I am driven by love to encourage the right behavior and to praise my children for what they are doing well.  I am patient with them when they fail and I lovingly discipline them and let them suffer the consequences of their actions.  They can be unhappy about missing out on snack or not getting to go on a walk, but my attitude towards them is always one of love, because God's command to me is to believe in the name of God's Son, Jesus, and to love others as He commanded us (1 John 3:23).  God is Love (1 John 4:8).  I am made in His image (Genesis 1:27).  I am made to love.  I know this, because God is love and He commands me to love others just as He loves me (John 13:34).  The greatest commandment is to love God with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind, and the second is like it; I am to love my neighbor as myself (Mark 12:30-31).  I have done this, and it works great!

However, this week, I skipped going on my walks in order to make sure we stuck to the schedule.  I have allowed myself to be critical and I have spoken unkind words to my children, because following the schedule was more important than obeying God by acting in love.  The result: wet beds, eczema, sickness, whiny and complaining behavior from the little ones, attitudes from the big ones, contractions, and a return of pain in my own body.  Not fun!!!  I know that I have already learned this lesson.

In the past, this is the point where I would feel guilty and ashamed for making the same mistake, AGAIN!  I would shut down and feel hopeless.  I would want to give up, because why try when I'm just going to keep failing again and again.  But God has shown me this:  Satan is the accuser.  Satan wants to shut me down.  Satan does not want me to be lead in paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3).  The Holy Spirit, who lives in me, convicts me of my sin (I agree with God that my behavior is wrong).  The Holy Spirit guides me (to move forward into righteousness).  The Holy Spirit comforts me (He reminds me of God's love for me and that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus).  I praise God that He does NOT let me continue in my sin (1 John 3:9).  If I go the wrong way, I hear a voice behind me telling me the way I am to go, and I get rid of my idols (Isaiah 30:21-22).  I rejoice that I recognize the voice of my shepherd (John 10:16).

So today, I turned my heart back to God, yet again.  I confessed to Him that I recognized how I had made an idol out of schoolwork and schedules and how I had broken the Golden Rule by treating my children in ways that I would not want to be treated.  I spent some time reading His Word and I spent some time talking to Him about who He is and Who I am in Christ.  I thanked Him for not letting me continue in my sin and for guiding me back into righteousness.  I praised Him for all of the marvelous and amazing things that He has done in my life and I thanked Him for keeping me and the baby safe through pregnancy and childbirth.

Already, I am free from the pain of the varicose veins and the contractions are not bothersome.  I trust that with some tender loving care and some patience on my part, that the kids will recover from their sickness, eczema, bedwetting, attitudes, etc.  God is love and love heals!  He has shown me over and over that this is true.

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word, Just to rest upon His promise, just to know, "Thus saith the Lord."  Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him, how I've proved Him o'er and o'er.  Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus.  Oh, for grace to trust Him more.

I love that hymn.  Blessings to all who may read this post.  I hope it gives a good picture of how to be free.  It is for freedom that Christ set us free, therefore do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).

Praise God!  He is good all the time!  His love endures forever!  His faithfulness endures through all generations!