These devotionals are for all of us who are chronically ill (hereafter referred to as CIs) and you able-bodied folks (hereafter referred to as ABs) can sneak in if you want to.
What is a devotional? It's a little story, basically, illustrating a verse of scripture that is noted at the bginning. It's a good way to start your day - thinking of God and His faithfulness to His kids, something to think about and chew on each day. Hopefully you will find something that "clicks" and will bless your sox off. I highly recommend looking up the full scripture at the end of the day, and think about it as you go to sleep.
Where will these devotionals come from? Well, basically, I'm sharing what I've learned from 20+ years of being ill, and being led and comforted by the Spirit of the Living God. This is an unabashedly born-again Christian blog. I depend on the Holy Spirit for each day's energy and needs. You may quote as much as you like, but please respect the copywrite and give due credit.
I make no claims of special holiness or being better than anyone else. I'm just a fellow sojouner, a sinner-saved-by-grace doing the best I can with what I've got, and turning it all, the good and the bad, over to Him.
Because being CI is not like being AB and getting sick, it requires a paradigm shift in your thinking - because we know that tomorrow when we open our eyes, by the grace of God, our illness will be there to greet us. The ABs have the hope that when they get sick, some medication and correct treatment has a pretty good shot at getting them better. We CIs know that won't happen. Each day we awaken to the fact that we are still sick, still make-it-thru-the-day challenged, fighting scary scenarios and self-pity, bed-bound or house-bound or wheelchair-bound and trusting that Jesus meant what He said in Hebrews 13:5, when He promised to never,never,never,never leave us (the implications of the Greek translation, emphatically promising to be there). And so far, He has honored that promise in my life. He has never left me, never failed me, never chastised me for failing Him. The Lover of my soul has carried me when I was too sick to walk, comforted me when yet one more thing was taken from me, and loved me through some of the the foulest moods known to mankind.
He is my rock.
So I'm sharing the lessons I've learned. Think about Him throughout your day and invite Him in - into the darkness and anger and fear and pain, or whatever else your day may hold.
And if you've never met Him, I invite you to do that also - He's waiting with arms open wide to welcome You to a kingdom that will open your heart to a new way of life. Just ask Him - something like,
" Jesus, Please come into my heart and be my Lord and King. I give my life to You, and ask for Yours in return. Thank You for dying in my place, for paying a debt You didn't owe when I owed a debt I couldn't pay. Teach me now how to walk daily with You, and learn Your ways. I ask this in the Name of the One Who, truly, died rather than live without us, Jesus. Amen"
If you prayed that prayer, welcome to the family! Get yourself a Bible in a translation that you can read - I prefer the Amplified Bible, which not only gives you a close to the original translation, but in parentheses the implied or alternate meaning of the words. And then read it - the gospel of John is a good place to start. Spend some time every day in the Word (church-speak for "your Bible"). Pray about anything that happens in your day - from your mood to an unexpected blessing. I'm not talking formal "thee and thou" stuff, just talk to Him the way you would your friend - your very best friend, who knows you deep down and doesn't get offended no matter what you say - because Jesus is like that. Find a bible-believing church that teaches through the Bible - a Cavary Chapel is a good place. You can find one near you by going to http://www.calvarychapel.org/ . You have chosen an exciting, amazing path to travel. The God Who created the Universe is actually waiting to hear your voice. And even more amazing, as time goes on you will begin to recognize His voice talking back, if you sit in the silence and listen. It won't be a thundering scary thing, it will be soft and quiet, the same way your own voice sounds to you when you are thinking, but He will be telling you things you would never think to say in a zillion years. Spend time worshipping Him - there are many praise albums out there to lead you on the way. And, this is very important, begin to trust Him. Things may be difficult, but He is there to listen, even when you are angry at Him, and He will love you no matter what.
By the way, the letters in parenthesis after the quoted verse refer to which translation I used : NKJB is the New King,James Bible, AMP is the Amplified Bible - and if I use any others, I will identiy them as they come up.
So, here goes:
"Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?... Do not fear, therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows."
(NKJB) Matthew 10:29-31 (NKJB)
It had been a really tough day. I'd not been ill very long and hadn't learned even one coping lesson yet. I'd never had a headache before in my life - and this one would recur every day for the rest of my life. Sound hurt. Light hurt. I had no energy and my body hurt so badly I felt like I'd been thrown into a clothes dryer with a sack of rocks and left by the side of the road to die.
I was not in a good mood.
Condemned to my shuttered bedroom, all the light was banished - except for a small, north-facing window that seemed to me my last link with the world (Did I mention I'm a bit over dramatic?) I plopped onto my bed and began praying, asking for some something that would give me hope or show me that He had indeed chosen this way of life for me at this moment in time.
I opened my eyes and looked out my window to the only light that didn't make my head feel like it was going to explode - and, dagnabbit! Smack dab in the middle of my precious, tiny rectangle of blue there was a huge, black telephone wire.
" Lord," I whined, " does there have to be a phone wire right there? There has to be about a billion other places for it. Why is it there?"
I continued in this saintly whining for awhile. I was discouraged. I was disgusted. I was in relentless spirit-crushing pain.
And I was scared.
Self-pity and I were having a battle. I knew that this grumbling stuff was not the way God intended this illness to change my life. So I was not going to give in to it. And the only way, in all these years. that I have ever found to beat self-pity is to yell, "No!" (inside my heart) and turn to the Holy Spirit saying, "If you don't take over I'm going to fall right into the middle of that pit. Please, Lord, Help me!" I had tears in my eyes, but I lifted my clenched fist to heaven and opened my hand, giving this whole mess to the One Who promised to meet my needs.
And God won.
I laid down again, looking steadfastly at that stupid wire cutting into my blue sky.
And then -
And then, a small yellow-rumped warbler landed on the wire (did I tell you I love birds)
And then it began to sing.
With tears running down my face and a ginormous smile, I was crying out to my Tender Loving Father thanking Him over and over, asking for forgiveness - how could I have ever doubted Him? My spirit soared out of that shuttered prison, singing thank yous and hosannas and joy.
I don't know how long the bird stayed - 2 minutes? an hour? Time seemed suspended. In the whole universe there was only this Tender, Loving God I was learning to trust, a beautiful, bright, yellow-patched singing bird.
And from that day forward, I have found it to be all I ever really need.
(uh...not necessarily including the bird)