To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. II Thess 1:11-12
We sit in a circle, the six of us, each in her usual place. Like old parishioners in church, we each have our “pew,” though our sanctuary is a living room and we rest in comfy seats. We are middle-aged or more, black and white, married and widowed. Each of us is a mother. Every other week we come to pour over the Word and pray and help each other sort out the tangles in our lives, for we have this in common: We want to know God more.
Life sometimes overwhelms in waves. Last year, God’s breakers were pouring over me, drowning me in salty splashes, rocking me off my feet, leaving me gasping and breathless. First, there was the “spot” on my mammogram followed by the need for a biopsy. Then came my mother’s breast cancer (at age 86). The next month, I lost half my job and all my benefits. Then a routine colonoscopy landed me in the hospital for four days with a torn spleen. And Hurricane Sandy dropped three huge 100-year-old oaks on our house. All this, in three months. All this.
On wobbly knees I brought my shaky heart to my friends, my fellow God-lovers, and we prayed. We prayed, not just over my problems, but over theirs as well, over difficult marriages and loneliness, over financial problems and health issues, over unsaved loved ones and hurting children. We sought joy in the midst of our struggles, hope in the darkness of this life.
During this time, I tried desperately to keep my eyes on Him, not the waves buffeting me, to find joy like sea mist refreshing me. One morning, I was out walking our Sheltie, Keira, and listening to a sermon by John Piper on II Thessalonians. “We live by faith in the ever-arriving power of future grace,” he said, and in a moment, I could “see” that grace arriving like ocean waves in my circumstances—grace in the waves breaking over my head, grace in the waves lifting me, and grace even in the waves knocking me flat and dragging me through the abrasive sand. Every one of my problems was a means of shaping me, molding me, refining me, changing me. Every one was an opportunity to move forward in faith, or fall back. Every one was a chance to glorify the One who stretched out his arms and died for me, or wallow in self-pity.
A year later, looking back on that season, I can see each wave was shaped by God’s mercy. I had the biopsy and they found no cancer. My mother’s breast cancer was non-aggressive. My spleen repaired itself without surgery. The trees primarily damaged the screened-in porch, missing the main part of the house by inches. Each trauma was measured by His hand, constrained by His love.
My faith deepened, I brought this message back to my friends: Grace, grace, God’s grace was carrying me all the time.
Linda J. White is a journalist and author of “white-knuckle fiction”—FBI thrillers with a twist of faith. Her most recent release was “Seeds of Evidence” from Abingdon Press. “Words of Conviction” releases in April 2014.
Seeds of Evidence:
Shaken by an unwanted divorce, FBI Special Agent Kit McGovern retreats to her grandmother’s Virginia island home for a little R & R. But her vacation comes to an unexpected end when the body of a young Latino boy is found on the beach.
Kit teams up with D.C. cop David O’Connor to investigate the murder with the smallest of clues—tomato seeds and acorns found in the boy’s pockets. Using plant DNA evidence, Kit traces the young boy to a huge farm where more than a killer looms. With grit, determination, and a growing interest in David, Kit pursues her case and discovers that, to truly move forward in life, justice has to be tempered with mercy.
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