The past week has been a sweet reminder to me of how much the Lord loves us all. Clay and I have been ministered to in so many ways. There were two very specific needs on my heart and I have been mentioning them to the Lord since we decided to enroll in Hospice.
This week, the Lord met both needs. I’m only going to tell you about the first one.
Yesterday, I felt like Clay and I were on one of those “fix-it” TV shows. 20 people from our church showed up at our house at 9 am and worked all day cleaning the outside of our house and repairing some things on the inside. I was bothered by the fact that the outside of the house was dirty because we’ve been having so many visitors and I want people to enjoy being here. So, God provided for my need. He lifted that burden off my shoulders.
And, now, my house is more beautiful than it’s been in a long time. I wish you could all come sit on the patio with us because it is so nice, now. Clay really loves to be outside. He loves to swing and rock. We have a balcony outside of our bedroom, where he spends a lot of time, and I wanted the balcony to be clean for him to enjoy. We hung curtains to shade him and keep it cool, and added some rocking chairs so people can sit with him and visit. I love this spot, now.
Just before Clay got diagnosed, I took my grandmother on a trip to Branson to visit family. After Clay’s diagnosis, I was able to look back on that trip and see some amazing things God showed me that were preparing me for the moment when our world would change. While on that trip, I bought this stained glass window. I never had time to hang it, and for over a year, it has leaned against a wall on my patio. Travis (and Angela) hung it for me yesterday. It makes me smile every time I look at it. I know it’s just a simple thing, but it reminds me of something God did to prepare me just 2 weeks before we got Clay’s diagnosis.
So many people came and helped and I feel like everyone really enjoyed their day. We ate together, laughed a lot, and worked really hard. It was such a blessing. I got very emotional when they started walking in the door that morning. I just can’t believe how much people (and God) love us. Thank you so much to everyone who came. Thank you, Eric and Stacey for organizing this day. Thank you, God, for demonstrating your love to us through these dear friends.
The Lord put it on my heart to invite a few of our close friends over for a time of prayer and worship Thursday night. We had been pretty busy for several days leading up to it, and I was wondering when I was going to have time to figure out the food we would need to feed about 20 people. That morning, my dear friend, Danielle Musso, snuck into my kitchen and delivered a huge tray of baked ziti. It was more than enough. She did NOT know that I needed food for that night. The Lord just put it on her heart to prepare food for 20?! Yep. That’s what He did.
That afternoon, my friend Angela Kinchen called and asked if she could get me something from the grocery store because she was there and wanted to stop by with some things for us. So, she delivered salad and bread. The meal was complete. I didn’t ask, I didn’t even really pray for this, y’all. The Lord just knew the need. He told me to invite the people. Then, He provided everything we needed to make it enjoyable. I didn’t do anything. It was so amazing to watch.
Then, He came and visited us as we prayed and worshipped. We were praying for healing for many in our church who are sick. But, the cry of our hearts is for God to reveal His glory to the world through our lives. We have been crying out to God to use us and make us more like Him…..that’s what He’s doing. The difficulty we walk through is making us more like Him. It’s the refiners fire. And, we are holding each other up as we walk through it together. There are different circumstances, but it’s the same work that God is accomplishing.
I encourage you to surround yourself with believers. Find a really good church and make sure that you are closely knit together with people who really love God. When you are in your pit of despair, you will need them. You will need their prayers. You will need their encouragement. You will need them to remind you that God is working in your life. You will need them to help you. God will demonstrate His love to you through the believers in your life. He lives in us, so we are the demonstration of God to the world.
Earlier this Summer, I was thanking God for all the miracles He was doing. He was providing every need we had, and there were so many stories I was telling people about the cool things God was doing for us in the midst of our fire. One day, I said, “I feel like the disciple whom Jesus loved.” That thought captivated my mind and I began to really ask God to speak to me about this.
One thing I knew, for sure, before I even prayed this prayer, is that God absolutely does not love me more than He loves anyone else. He didn’t love John more than the other disciples. He loves us all the same. He died on the cross for all of us. So, why was John “The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved?”
John is referred to in this way 4 times in the Bible. All 4 of those verses are found in the book of John. Who wrote the book of John? John. But, he never signed his epistle. He didn’t write about himself in a way that would make it obvious that he wrote it. He didn’t intend to receive any credit for it, or any recognition for that epistle. In a way, it seems like he referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved, so he didn’t have to mention his own name.
So, why? Why did he refer to himself this way?
I believe it is because this is how he saw himself. It was his perspective. John KNEW that Jesus loved him deeply. He spent time with Jesus. The Bible says that John laid close to Jesus and would sit very near to Him as He taught the disciples. John was with Jesus at some very important moments in His life and ministry. John positioned himself to be near to Jesus. And, because John drew near, he felt the love. He knew the affection Jesus had for him.
I don’t think there was pride in this reference. If John wanted attention, he would have signed the epistle and boasted of himself as he wrote it. He didn’t. Instead he almost hid himself behind that label.
It’s all very simple to me, now.
This is how John saw himself. He was so convinced of the love of Jesus toward him, that he labeled himself “The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved.”
How do you see yourself?
Have you spent time at Jesus’ feet so He can demonstrate His love to you? Have you allowed Him to shower you with His love? Have you laid on His bosom? Have you listened to His words and become convinced of His love for you?
When we walk through difficulty in this life, we have a choice. We can let it destroy us. Or, we can let it bring us closer to God. We have to choose to let God receive His glory through our lives. Then, as His power is displayed, He can demonstrate His love to us, as He stands in the fire with us.
If you are convinced of His love for you, you won’t ever believe that He is causing suffering in your life because He is cruel or unloving. You will stand on His promises and believe that His love for you is immeasurable. So, if He loves you so deeply, then surely, He won’t allow anything in your life that He doesn’t mean for good.
I’m telling you, friends. This perspective will change your life. If you can have the same perspective John had, you will have so much peace. He loves you. He loves you. It’s so simple. He loves you with a holy, unselfish, immeasurable love.
So, if He loves you, He will help you.
If you cry out to Him and believe Him for the things you need, He will help you.
I beg you to ask God to reveal this truth to you. Let Him help you in your need. You all have one. Don’t compare your situation to mine and Clay’s situation. You may not be facing death, but you are facing some difficulty. The world is broken and filled with heartache, so I know that you are dealing with some sort of struggle. Let God show you how your situation can bring you closer to Him.
In our trials, we learn that God is real. We experience Him in a way we never have because we become desperate for Him to help us. Don’t let your trial destroy you. Don’t let it drown you in depression and anxiety. Cry out to God. He loves you. Let Him come and help you.
He may not deliver you from your circumstance immediately, but He will give you peace and He will make sure you know that He is with you.
You can experience His love…
No matter who you are…
No matter what you’ve done….
No matter how difficult your circumstance…
You can experience His love.
Cry out to Him. Pray for Him to speak to you. Read the Bible. Go to church where you can experience His presence. Surround yourself with other believers to encourage you. Ask God to give you a testimony to share. Tell others about His goodness. Remind yourself of His love.
Your life will change.
You won’t be afraid. You won’t be depressed. You won’t be lonely. You won’t be mad. You won’t be sad. You won’t be swallowed up by your anguish.
You will be filled with trust, love and peace. Does it still hurt? Of course. Do you still wish that it didn’t have to happen? Of course. Do you still desire another way? Of course. Do you still long for healing? Of course.
But, your trust in God will overcome those emotions. And that’s when you find true joy. Joy in knowing that nothing can separate you from His love.
God is amazing. His ways are too high for us to understand. But, His love is something we can feel. Let Him love you today.
You all continue to be vessels for God to love on my family and I’m so thankful for it. Clay enjoys seeing people and having the chance to talk about the Lord. Our hearts are lifted because of your compassion and concern for us. Thank you. This blog has gotten too long for me to mention everyone that has come and all the food, dessert, cards and sweet things that have been done for us. But, here are the pics so you’ll know how great the past few days have been.
We love you. We are so thankful for so many of you who are following our story. May God bless you so richly today.