Stillness. A place my soul is learning to rest in. It’s a place where I am all alone with my thoughts and the Lord.
It’s been a gradual journey to get here. Little by little He sets activities aside, narrowing the focus to Him.
Some days my introverted side loves the quiet, other days the extroverted me wants community with hearts most like mine.
At the core of this stillness is surrender. So I press in, soaking up the truths that He makes me aware of … and for the most part I get them immediately. Then there are times when He has to thump me on the head like a ripe melon.
Today the stillness finds me at my middle son’s hospital bedside. Sickness has a way of bringing life to a halt.
So I surrender my thoughts and plans for this time … to wait, to focus, to listen, and to rest in His unwavering faithfulness.
I eagerly anticipated this day … to celebrate my risen Savior. There’s a sadness that we couldn’t be in the Lord’s house as a family today. No festivities, fellowship, or good food.
Of course Aaron’s sickness didn’t catch the Lord by surprise. So with every detail or event that the Lord allows to touch my days … I linger … waiting to hear His voice. Today in the quiet He reminded me of a few simple constants that my heavy heart needed to recall.
1 – When life takes a curve rendering you helpless and powerless … He is fighting for you and stands guard over every overwhelming detail.
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:14
Then I said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them. The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes. Deuteronomy 1:29:30
2- When you are tempted to worry … pray instead.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
3- Let your faith kick in.
And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:22-24
Yes sometimes those directives are easier said than done, especially if fear creeps in. But though we go through these life bumps … He hasn’t deserted us.
In fact, it’s for the sicknesses we have … that He hung on a cross and died.
It’s for the many regrets that nag our memories … He willingly laid down His life.
For all the brokenness, the mistakes, the hurts, the barren places … for every inadequacy we are or feel … He became the sacrifice.
And finally the stillness reminded me that … one day when I see His face … all the longings in this patched up heart will become obsolete. He will fill in all the cracks of my soul with a love that completely fulfills.
I’ll be whole. What a comfort. What a faithful Savior.
So if and when you find yourself at a place where you are forced to be alone with your thoughts … there is a good chance the Lord wants to remind you of a few things.
It’s good to hear from the Lord.
I challenge you friend … Don’t resist the stillness.
I tripped over a memory today and lost my balance for a while.
You know the type of memory….a voice from the past that comes back around to hurt? It reminded me of a devastating experience. Horrible words, overwhelming circumstances …a flood of tears.
Along with the memory came the voices provoking the details.
Before long, the memory exploded like a glorious Fourth of July fireworks display. Only the emotions accompanying the fireworks are anything but glorious.
The emotions reveal insecurities…feelings of being unworthy, unwanted, unloved.
I entertained the voices. I listened, and since I didn’t shut them down immediately…they continued.
Then suddenly I realized what was happening….and I cried out to JESUS.
I went to the Word of God. Reading three different translations…I grasped my failure. God opened my eyes clearly.
“This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life or death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.” Ephesian 6:12 The Message
We Christians can be guilty of being too casual about the enemy’s intentions.
Our attitude must be that of a soldier tiptoeing through a mine field.
Because we don’t palpably see him….we forget about him.
We must get smarter than the Devil.
We must watch for the traps…deceptions…the dangers.
When it comes to the Devil and his schemes, we must live on the defensive but pray on the offensive.
We must be wary of our weaknesses before he uses them against us.
We must assert truth to our situations when he whispers lies.
We must affirm the word of GOD when he hurls the accusations of the world.
We must prepare ourselves for the life and death battle to finish well.
We must prepare for the battle…every day.
Any negative thought, past sin or hurtful memory that comes to us…..is of the Devil. God will not bring up your past, or feed the hurt. Simply refuse to listen or think on it. Instead replace it with scripture, prayer, worship, and truth.
When the Devil tries to dig up your past, immerse yourself in truth. Believe who you are and take authority over his ploys.
Be a fierce soldier and put on the armor of God before you take your first breath of the morning.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:14-18
Suit up soldier and use your battle plan, don’t let the enemy gain any ground.
So I tripped over a memory and lost my balance for a while….and then I remembered who I am.
How can a girl ardently seek Jesus every day and still worry? How I’ve wrestled with this question so many times.
“Those who have faith, deep abiding faith in an artist who has all things under his control, have no need to rehash the past or predict the future.” Michele Cushatt
Such wise insight from Michele’s new book, Undone.
Bottom line, if we don’t choose faith….we won’t have faith.
Michele’s story is probably similar to the rollercoaster story we all find ourselves riding, yet somewhere between the hurts, the heartaches, the losses, the failures and even the cancer….
Michele finds the beautiful artist, lovingly at work……one brushstroke at a time…..in a life that is undone.
“Faith isn’t rooted in the past or the future. It’s birthed in how we approach and handle today.” Michele Cushatt
This resolute heart for Jesus has met him in the tender, swollen and irritated moments of weakness…and found….his presence is enough for each moment.
She reminds us that even life with the most imaginable hurts is in the here and now.
You see….when life becomes undone…..in just one phone call or one indiscretion or one bad decision…..we are forced to stop in the middle of the road.
We can catapult to the pits of worry and despair.…
Or we can breathe in the presence of the great artist and choose faith.
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”
What has worry ever done for you? Nothing friend…nothing.
“Worry like cancer consumes life, eating away at a person from the inside out. It exaggerates the unknown and clouds the known until the worried person sees only the horror of what might be, rather than the beauty of what already is.” Michele Cushatt
Worry seeks to take what good there is in life and condemn it with the hurt, the pain, the cancer and the loss.
This beautiful memoir met me in a recent battle that had turned into a stronghold of worry. A blessing from God that I thought was secure in my life….all of a sudden became unsure because of greedy man.
Two days ago I hit my knees at 1:36 a.m. and …..I chose faith.
Life is going to come at us with both fists wielding. It may knock us down, but we can look up before we get up….and remember who is in control…trusting him to help us in each unknown moment.
This is a beautiful book, one that you must read. It is a book for the divorced, single parent, the perfectionist mother or wife, the blended or new foster family, the career professional, the struggling faith walker and yes even the cancer patient.
Michele relays the poignant details of her struggles refreshingly real….. yet agonizingly raw. She can take a simple bible story and retell it in a way that makes you forget you have heard it before.
Filled with gospel truth yet soaked in intimate honesty, I feel like I have known Michele for years.
I can’t wait to meet her face to face one day soon and put my arms around her neck, and give her a holy kiss. This brave woman gives me hope…and a new perspective.
Reading this book will be a wise investment to your spiritual bank…..it will greatly strengthen and prepare you for the undone moments of life.
I just want to share one more nugget of wisdom from Michele, plucking at my heart strings for this undone life I too am living….
“Only a marred life gives birth to the most beautiful redemption.”
It seems we don’t see the richness of the struggle and how we mess it up at times….until after we have experienced the mercy.
What a beautiful work the great artist can do when we trust him in the unexpected and unknown.
Oh thank you, thank you Jesus.
If you find yourself at a place in life that is undone…..take heart my friend….God’s presence is here and now….so choose faith. He promises to never leave you nor forsake you….even when life is undone.
It is an unspeakable honor to be a part of Michele’s launch team for this beautiful book. You will be able to find it in stores on March10th or go to the Undone website and preorder it now. You can also read a sample chapter and find out more about this awesome lady.
Everything changes in this vacuum of time called life.
The babies grow up, the loved one passes away, the job ends, the divorce becomes final, the friends come and go.
Resistance is the human reaction we all grapple with.
The seasons of life can bring great joy as well as great pain.
The good changes are easier to deal with, the scary changes with consequences not so easy.
With every change the uncertainty of life as we know it becomes a distance memory and if we’re not careful…..it can cloud or stall our future…..but be cautious because our faith is our future.
Don’t get stuck living in the past…….it can be a miserable place to exist …I know….I’ve wasted too much time living in the past.
GOD allows change for good….even though we don’t like how it comes sometimes.
We may face life events that seem catastrophic or heartbreaking….but if we are abiding in JESUS….HE will work it all for our good.
The fact that HE allows change….regardless of how it comes….. shows HE doesn’t want us to stay as we are….HE knows change can bring us closer to HIM if we will let it.
Its when we resist HIS change that we stumble and stray….getting lost in the foggy circumstances.
We can choose to stay the way we are….. where we are at……or we can embrace the change….and become more.
More like HIM is the change HE wants.
I know many are wrestling with big changes in your lives……but instead of dreading and fearing them….let GOD’S peace rest in your heart.
Take time to grieve or regroup…..but …don’t linger too long in the pain because that’s the place Satan uses to trip us up……the pain can cause us to become bitter, hardened….hopeless.
The bible says there is an appointed time for everything….for every event under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
If change wasn’t part of life there would be no long summer evenings on the porch….we wouldn’t have the splendor of fall to look forward to…..there would be no winter for the earth to rest…and without the rest….the spring wouldn’t bring new life.
The same is true in our spiritual life.
Fervently trusting JESUS will change the shades of our faith, making them more brilliant…..no matter what season…. be it the hurts and the joys…. seasons of change spin abundance from GOD’S heart.
Change hurts…. but somewhere along the path….the evolution of the heart finds a harvest of mercy, healing, joy and new life.
Hold on tight to JESUS… embrace the change….and see what HE does next.
So my daddy told me a million times. I must confess I tell my kids the same thing even though they’re now adults.
Be sure your sins will find you
out….was another one of his favorites. He would be proud I actually listened to a few things he taught me.
He was the fun daddy, always willing to do something silly to make us laugh. The first with the quick comeback, the practical joker, and the ever amusing story teller.
He passed away unexpectedly two years ago.
The landscape of our family dynamic just isn’t the same anymore.
His passing left an incredible void in our lives collectively and individually.
His pictures are around us yet they bring little comfort.
We find ourselves saying…”Oh daddy would have liked that….or daddy would get a kick out of this or that.”
Death leaves a major hole in our hearts.
I’ve realized there is nothing in this world to fill it.
We’ve gone on with life….the family gatherings consisting of many firsts without him.
The longing in my heart will never go away as long as I live on this earth…..but knowing my daddy is in heaven is comforting to a certain degree.
One day…..after I enter heaven’s gates and run into the arms of my JESUS……
I’m going to have a good laugh with my daddy. He’s going to tell me how peculiar Noah is…..what a good singer King David is…..and he will probably make fun of Moses’s speech impediment….if he still has one.
I am sure he is spending time with Johnny Cash and perhaps the king of rock and roll, Elvis…if Elvis is there? Surely he is…..a girl can hope can’t she?
One thing for sure….I know my daddy is having a good time…..and I wouldn’t dare bring him back…..because he wouldn’t want to live on this old earth again after living in perfection.
While I cannot wait to see my daddy…..
JESUS is going to be the main attraction folks.
Do you realize when we finally come into HIS presence we will be complete…..and completely fulfilled?
All the longings of earth…..
the life altering events…..
the financial losses…..
the oppression of man……
all the holes in our heart will finally be filled….complete…..perfect.
“He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelations 21:4
Man …..that’s something to look forward to isn’t it?
My heart swells just thinking about that day…..makes me homesick for my final home.
If this Father’s day has you longing for someone….or something….take heart…this too shall pass away.
One day the longings of this old life will be no more and if we know JESUS as our SAVIOR…..our broken hearts will be made complete.
It doesn’t feel good when someone gives us the silent treatment does it? I’ve been guilty of thinking GOD is giving me the silent treatment at times. I have enough faith to pray…..”Why aren’t you moving here GOD? Can’t you see what I’m going through down here LORD?”
I know HE can move and fix my problem in an instant so why doesn’t HE? Then I seem to go through a cycle where I am up and down. One minute I’m trusting HIM and the next I’m bellyaching cause HE hasn’t moved.
I have failed the “silence during the test” class many times. It seems HE has been trying to teach me to “wait well” for the last few years. I once heard a pastor say, HE will keep putting us through the same lesson until we get it. I’ve been a real flunkie some days.
Then HE showed me the test isn’t just to learn to trust HIM but to learn to focus on HIM. I’ve realized when I am praying and just sitting here waiting on HIM to answer…I can get pretty discouraged.
In the eighteenth chapter of Luke, JESUS was sharing the parable about the widow who kept taking her case to the judge to avenge her from her adversary. She was persistent and the judge finally granted her request just because he was over her begging.
The LORD gave me two points to ponder from this scripture…..the first being….don’t give up asking.
JESUS shared HIS teaching of the Judge’s decision…..
“Hear what the unjust judge said… shall not GOD avenge HIS own elect, which cry day and night unto HIM, though HE bear long with them? I tell you that HE will avenge them speedily.” Luke 18:7-8
In other words JESUS was saying….if this unjust judge would agree to avenge the widow….don’t you think a loving, just GOD will avenge you one day? Give you relief? Come back around to settle things on your account?
So even if HE is being silent….HE doesn’t want us to stop praying.
But it was the second part of verse eight that really challenged my thinking about what HE wants me to do during the silence.
“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall HE find faith on the earth?” Luke 18: 8b
Shall HE find faith on the earth?
Sadly, I don’t think I have been very faithful in my waiting through the years.
Yea, I go to church, I pray a lot, I study my bible everyday. I fervently love my LORD…..but when I’m in the trenches praying about a problem….I’m not necessarily being faithful because I’m more focused on praying for GOD to come through for me….instead of really focusing on HIM.
There is a difference.
Faithfulness encompasses prayer.
Faithfulness is humbling myself in anticipation should HE say no instead of grumbling about the discomfort I’m in.
Faithfulness is asking the hard questions….GOD is there something you’re trying to show me here? Some sin?
Faithfulness is repenting of the not so obvious…secret….character flaws….keeping me from truly being clean.
Faithfulness is growing spiritually.
If I’m not growing while I am waiting…then I’m just missing an opportunity to know my LORD better.
My associate pastor says…….
“If we are walking with GOD….growth is not an option.”
If I am “waiting well”….I will be growing spiritually.
What I am doing in the waiting period is significant to being faithful.
I confess for many years I have not waited well. My actions didn’t show faithfulness….my words didn’t reveal faithfulness.
GOD may have withheld HIS hand on my behalf but HE never withheld his love, protection, provision or faithfulness to me….yet I withheld everything HE deserved.
GOD’S silence is good for me.
I can’t believe I said it….but it’s true.
GOD’S silence has taught me to evaluate how I am waiting…..
What I need to repent of…..
What I need to submit to…..
How I need to serve HIM regardless of what HE does for me….
And how I should love HIM….regardless the answer.
But here is the key to all this…..if you don’t take anything away….remember this please….
If we don’t seek to know HIM better during the trials….the heartaches….and the silent times…..we will lose hope.
The bible clearly tells us if we seek HIM…..we will find HIM.
If we repent…..HE forgives us.
If we submit…..HE blesses our humbleness.
If we praise….HE dwells with us because HE inhabits our praise.
HE reciprocates our efforts.
Let me say that again….and let it sink in…
Our GOD….will reciprocate any efforts we make to know him better….including…..
When we go to HIM with the desire to grow in HIM…..
To give him pure praise…..with no strings attached.
HE responds by granting peace…..
And if HE doesn’t answer the way we want….. we still have an intimate relationship with our precious SAVIOR……. and HE will grant HIS SWEET GRACE to us in order to accept whatever outcome HE deems HIS perfect will to be.
I’ve come to realize…
When I am walking close with GOD….its easier to accept his will and abandon mine.
Don’t just pray for the giver of all things to give you relief or what you need……get to know the giver intimately.
“He’ll never change,” the lady told me. “I’ve known him for over 20 years, he is what he is. He will just break your heart,” she added. “He will always be a drunk,” my loved one said. I felt defensive, ashamed. I started keeping the sordid details of my life to myself even amidst the turmoil in my heart. What had been an exciting, three month courtship now resulted in a young twenty-two year old disillusioned bride.
I fell hard for this man. He was unlike any I had dated before. Worldly, successful, funny and 15 years my senior. I felt safe with him, and there was no doubt I loved him. My friends gossiped and marveled I fell for an older man. My family just about disowned me and did their best to intervene, yet something deep inside made me determined to marry him.
We were married 2 months when I found out I was pregnant. This was the only child we had planned to have. Three months in I realized what appeared to be social drinking was really an alcohol addiction. Confrontations led to dismal fights which led to declarations of cutting back or doing better. We existed in a realm of illusory, he knew I wasn’t happy yet he tried.
The drinking fractured our family time, our relationship, our outlook. I started thinking about leaving, my adorable toddler gave me strength to insist we deserved better. Then I found out I was pregnant, again. I decided to keep trying but I had to have help.
I went to church but it wasn’t the right fit, I was gossip to those who knew me. It was hard getting myself together with a toddler in tow, to show up and make an appearance with a big smile on my face. I didn’t see other wives hitting the altar because their husbands had issues. Yet I had this overwhelming feeling I needed to be in church.
The addiction continued to take its toll on our family. In a drunken, angry state my husband quit a job providing a six figure income. In the 80’s, this was a substantial salary. Within months we found ourselves losing everything. He agreed to rehab only after he came face to face with financial ruin. Soon he was offered a job in Louisiana. It was a new start in a new place.
He went ahead to find us a place to live. Weeks later I came with our babies. We were barely settled into our new home when I realized he was drinking again. I was heart broken, hopeless.
GOD provided a Christian family next door. I went to church with them, I felt GOD’S presence. I saw hurting people on the altar, I let my guard down and shared my painful secret. They prayed and taught me to pray for GOD’S will. They shared with me it was GOD’S will for my husband to be a born again Christian and to be set free of his addiction. I had hope.
We were in Louisiana just less than a year when the job was over. The owner was selling out. We were going back to Tennessee. I was considering going my separate way when we returned home. It would be an easy transition during the move. In the process of packing, I found out I was pregnant with our third child. Yea….GOD has a sense of humor. I stayed.
The struggle continued to be heart wrenching, the finances were tight. My first born was pretty sharp and soon picked up on daddy coming home drunk. Thank GOD he wasn’t a mean drunk but a sloppy, affectionate, sentimental drunk. My feeble heart literally ached because my child could see the difference in a drunk daddy.
I remember crying out to GOD…..”I don’t know what to do, you have got to help me GOD.” Our third baby was born and amazingly GOD led me to a new friend named Debby. A vivacious, GOD fearing, spit fire full of faith. What a friend. She led me to a church with a pastor named Jerry. An evangelistic, friendly, soul winner man of GOD. What a pastor. Jerry shepherded a loving, non-judging church family with real problems too. What a church.
I started praying one night a week with Debby and another friend. I learned to pray specific, I remembered the precious family from Louisiana who taught me it was GOD’S will for all to find salvation. I believed and claimed this promise for my husband.
We prayed it would rain on Sunday’s so he couldn’t golf and maybe go to church with me. We prayed he would get hangovers….something he never did. We prayed GOD would wrap his spirit so tight around my husband’s heart he would suffocate in conviction. It rained 6 weeks in a roll and he attended church some. He started puking his guts out after he drank and I so enjoyed listening to his gut wrenching bathroom sessions. I specifically remember thanking GOD for hangovers.
One night he sat down and watched a Billy Graham crusade on television. I sat next to him on the couch as tears streamed down his face and he wiped them with his hand. For 7 months, we prayed, we prayed specific, we prayed expectantly, we prayed in faith.
Three days after we watched the crusade on television he was in his favorite local pub with all his golf buddies. It was a Sunday evening and my babies were loaded in their car seats as we headed to church. The pub was on the way….GOD spoke clearly and said….”Stop and send Matthew in.”
“Send my baby in a bar Lord?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from GOD. I literally sat in the parking lot for 20 minutes wrestling with whether to send my three and a half year old into a bar. Finally with a heavy heart, I stood at the door as my baby went in and asked his daddy to go to church with us.
We settled into our seats near the front, liquor on his breath. He wasn’t drunk but he had knocked down a few. I remember thinking, I hope no one smells the alcohol on his breath. The pastor brought a powerful salvation message directed at my husband. I knew he was under conviction when the invitation started. I looked at his knuckles white from griping the pew so tight.
The pastor offered one more verse, I was about to give up. Then all of a sudden he turned to me and said, “I’ve got to go Mel, he’s calling me.” He shot out into the aisle and hit the altar. The pastor went and counseled him. I waited and prayed but made it to the altar just in time to hear him pray the sinner’s prayer.
I remember my husband holding me on the altar after he asked Christ into his heart. I remember the taste of my salty tears as we embraced each other for what seemed like forever. I cried into his chest, he cried on my shoulder. The entire church was rejoicing and praising GOD.
GOD was so faithful to my family that precious night. I relive it often. He has brought us so far, replenished us financially, restored relationships, restored hope. What the devil took….GOD replaced.
We will be married 30 years in January 2015. He has been sober since giving his heart to JESUS on March 17th, 1990. What rehab and a devoted, young bride’s love couldn’t do…GOD did.
I have often thought about what would have happened had I not sent my innocent little boy into the pub that night? Crazy isn’t it? GOD told me to send my baby into a bar? I still scratch my head about doing so and I have never shared this detail of our story till now.
We’ve read countless stories of GOD telling our bible heroes to do crazy things haven’t we? So it stands to reason….why would he not tell us to do crazy things too? Remember the leper, Naaman? Elisha told him through a servant, go wash in the muddy Jordan seven times and you will be clean. Naaman was angry Elisha did not come out to meet him and call on the Lord. He questioned the choice of waters stating there were cleaner rivers around. He went away in rage. If not for his servants convincing him to go to the Jordan and obey Elisha’s directives, Naaman would not have been healed. (2 Kings 5)
Its a beautiful story of stubborn obedience, similar to mine. I have learned through my 49 plus years, GOD’S ways are certainly not my ways. (Isaiah 55:8) He doesn’t do things the way my flawed mindset would do them.
If I had been the one who went into the pub that spring night in 1990, I don’t know if my husband would have responded with a yes. It probably would have angered him I showed up….especially in front of his buddies. The little wife had come to fetch her husband could have been his embarrassment….but seeing those sweet, little, expressive eyes with arms reaching up…speaking a tender, innocent plea…. I believe GOD used our baby to move my husband.
This reminds me of the scripture in Corinthians….
“But GOD has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and GOD has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27
We don’t have a clue what GOD wants to use in our lives to bring him glory. Our ways are not HIS ways and HIS infinite wisdom will never be matched. It could be foolish things, the weak, it could be sickness, an addiction, a baby in a bar….but whatever he chooses to use…. we have got to be willing to do the things not making sense…. the crazy things…. if he asks us to.