The scenes from Oklahoma are beyond imagination. It is hard to take it all in. The massive storm, the fear of those fleeing its path, the destruction left behind, the loss of life, the heartache. How does one even begin? I would imagine you’d just want to sit down and quit. Give up. But from what I have seen and heard on the television the folks affected are not quitters…they are looking out for each other and pitching in to do whatever they can to take care of the wounded, comfort the grieving, clean up the debris and begin to rebuild.
Fortunately, God gives the grace of shock. Being in shock grants a numbness which allows time so we can slowly absorb what has taken place. It is a mercy. If we had to absorb it all suddenly, it would be much too overwhelming. So God in His mercy gives us “shock absorbers”. Like the dawn that arrives slowly so that we can adjust to the brightness of the sun, we are given time to adjust to what has happened.
I think at a time like this we always ask , “Why?” I know I do. For me there is always in the back of my mind that God is withdrawing His Spirit from our land because of our godless ways. (No, God is not specifically targeting Oklahoma or the people there but it is part of living in a fallen world that is rejecting God and He is slowly withdrawing.)
But we do live in a fallen world – terrible things happen everyday. But the terrible news brings us to more questions. Couldn’t God have prevented this? Couldn’t He have intervened? Couldn’t He have protected those children? All those questions can be answered with a “Yes.” He could have prevented it. He could have intervened. And He could have protected the children. To live fully is to live in double reality – to know our pain and loss but also to know His love. Where was He during the storm? Where He always is – right in the midst of the destruction and pain, comforting, grieving with us, strengthening us.
It is difficult. We cannot understand. And sometimes there are no answers. We just have to live with unanswered questions. That’s where faith comes in. Faith is not easy. It is courageous. It looks at the hard stuff and stands up to say, “I will believe.”
As we see all that has changed, all the destruction…that’s when we can look to the unchanging character of God. He is almighty, bigger than the storm, compassionate, deliverer, enough, faithful, gracious, our hope and help…He does not change. We can rest in His eternal character.
As Job did. Job must have experienced a tornado-like event. “A great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died.” He lost all his children and his livelihood in one day. He struggled to understand why but he stood firm in knowing God was sovereign and could be trusted even though Job did not understand.
We too, are given an opportunity to trust God. Let’s not waste the opportunity.
This was sent to me this week. I thought it was special and wanted to share it with you all.
May we all build strong bridges for the next generation that faces a much more uncertain future than we did.
The Bridge Builder
BY WILL ALLEN DROMGOOLE
An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”
Source: Father: An Anthology of Verse (EP Dutton & Company, 1931)
Today started out as drizzly and cool…now it is 60+ and sunny. I love it!
Friday I went to Dallas to speak to the Christian Women in Media conference. Neat ladies. I had a message all ready but then last Wednesday it was as if I heard the Lord tell me it was not His message!He asked me to change it. I hate when He does that!
He seeemed to want me to speak from Psalm 143. That Psalm is a desperate cry for deliverance and guidance – and who doesn’t need that? Those of us in ministry (mothers, dads, workers, teachers… every believer) feel often under attack and need to know how to respond, where to turn, who to trust…all the things King David was feeling. I love his honesty.
David faced perilous times…as do we. He didn’t turn to friends, shopping, drink, pornography… He didn’t try to find a temporary escape. David needed deliverance – so do we. Not usually from guns and swords…but from fear, pride, anger, jealousy, self-righteousness. The Bible teacher, Jill Briscoe, calls them “snakes in my garden”. King Solomon called them “little foxes that spoil the vines”. What are your “snakes”, “little foxes? We all have those things that wear us down. Weaken us. Defeat and discourage us.
I love the way David approaches the Lord – not with a particular posture or fancy, spiritual words he just says, “Hear me! Pay attention, Lord! Lend me you ear. And answer me!” He reminds himself of God’s character…”Be true to yourself, God, in your faithfulness and righteousness”. We dare to reach out for God because of His character. We have nothing in ourselves.
But then David sort of backs away from God’s righteousness because David knows he deserves judgment…so he appeals to God’s mercy!
He tells God what is going on…he has an enemy that has gotten inside him persecuting his soul. It had gotten under his skin and was eating him alive. David is really low. He feels like he is living in a tomb – gloom and unhappiness surround him. He’s overwhelmed, barely hanging on. He’s not in a good place. Where are you?
If you look at the Psalm you can see the 3 steps down: he is focused on 1.) the enemy, 2.) the darkness, 3.) his emotions. That focus will defeat you every time!
When you get overwhelmed you can’t get out by yourself. David had been there before. What had he learned? “Be still and know that I am God.” Turn our focus on to God and His unchanging character. And then David remembers what God has done for him in the past. The times He delivered David. The comfort and encouragement from God. It it is important to remember what God has done for us in the past. And if you are like me, I tend to forget so I keep a journal. And I review it periodically.
David physically appeals to God with outstretched arms. A posture of desperation and surrender. Are you weary and desperate?
David tells God to answer him quickly. I love that! He needs God NOW! He doesn’t want God to hide from him.
Have you ever felt like God was absent? Heaven’s doors were locked from the inside? You feel like you are suffocating. You are not alone. Many saints have experienced that from time to time. It is such a valuable – but hard – learning time.
David speaks to God as a friend. He is our friend, too. We can be honest with Him. He can sort through the anger and 4-letter words. He is so much bigger than all of that!
David wants to hear God’s loving-kindness in the morning. Does God have your ear in the morning? Or are you distracted by the television news, your day’s schedule? Do you read your email before you hear from God?
David declares His trust in God…How ’bout doing that first thing in the morning while you are still in bed? Just say, “Lord I trust you today.” David trusts God’s unchanging character. We can too. But we have to know what His character is. I challenge you to make a list of God’s characteristics…holy, just, faithful, redeemer, help, near…
Then David asks God to teach him ow to walk and where to go. David wants to move forward but needs God’s help. How many of us as parents love to have our children look to us for help and advice! God loves us to acknowledge our dependence on Him. And why should God do that? David say he offers “all his heart” to God. That delights God. And David asks for deliverance because his refuge is God Himself. David has learned that the only basis for life is God.
He asks to do God’s will, to lead a balanced life and to be revived. Not for his sake but for God’s name’s sake. Is that our motivation?
David appeals now to God’s righteousness. He now sees it as his only way. His hope. His refuge. The way through the situation.
David asks that his enemies be silenced and destroyed. David is specific.
What enemies in your life need to be destroyed? Silenced? Negative self-talk? Self-importance? Pride? Comparison? Insecurity?
Are you nearing burn out? Are you desperate for God to answer? Do you need direction?
Follow David’s example by pouring your heart out to God, being honest with Him, declaring your trust in Him. He will deliver you. Maybe not in your time or way. But in His perfect time and way.
This has been a busy travel season.
Last week I had the privilege of going to Bluefield College in Bluefield, VA to speak 4 times. What a jewel it is tucked in a beautiful mountain setting! It is a small college but under the leadership of Dr. David Olive they have added a nursing school and are starting a dental school. They have learned to “work smart” and it is making a difference in that part of southwest Virginia.
Wednesday night I spoke to a women’s community event – they had several hundred and we had a great time…I love getting together with Southern women!
Thursday morning I /Users/ruth/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Modified/2013/Apr 14, 2013/IMG_0099.jpg breakfast with some of the faculty and staff…dedicated people. I was able to share what my calling and mission is. At noon I shared lunch with a fine group of students…they ranged from those studying education to psychology majors to music majors to law enforcement and everything in between. I loved being with the students – so bright, engaging, serious in their commitment…I was honored. We had a stimulating discussion on a variety of issues. That evening I had a relaxing dinner with the President and Mrs. Olive and some of the leadership before speaking at The Celebrate Appalachia event. The music was heavenly – the students sounded like an angelic choir!/Users/ruth/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Modified/2013/Apr 14, 2013/IMG_0099.jpg
What a great visit to Bluefield College!
Thursday night I drove to Roanoke to spend the night so I could catch a plane for Alaska on Friday morning. That is a long trip! Roanoke to Atlanta, Atlanta to Minneapolis and Minneapolis to Anchorage! I was warmly greeted and taken to the hotel where I immediately hit the hay! One advantage of long airplane rides – I get to see movies that I haven’t had a chance to see. Going up I saw Trouble with the Curve starring Clint Eastwood…good film. (I don’t vouch for the language, though!)
Saturday morning I was “chauffeured” to the fundraising “tea” for the Crisis Pregnancy Center of Anchorage. They had about 800 folks…/Users/ruth/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Modified/2013/Apr 14, 2013/IMG_0106.jpg Each table was decorated in a special way – there was one in “Downton Abbey style”!/Users/ruth/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Originals/2013/Apr 14, 2013/IMG_0104.JPG Fun. They had a live auction…more fun. A box of Twinkies went for $300. I felt they might have gotten more if they had billed it as a “collectible” item! All in all they raised $125,000!
This is the “break-up” season in Alaska – the snow is melting and every car is dirty! This is the back of one car I saw – they all look like this!!/Users/ruth/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Originals/2013/Apr 14, 2013/IMG_0103.JPG
On Sunday I went to the newly established Central Christian Church – planted by Central Christian in Las Vegas. What a grace-drenched place! They are reaching a very diverse group of people…those that the traditional church isn’t comfortable wiht. There were 5 baptisms that morning – in a feeding trough! Much like it might have been in the early church. The young pastor, Scott Smith, is dynamic. I had lunch with he and his wife, his in-laws, a missionary couple and Mike Daniels./Users/ruth/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Originals/2013/Apr 14, 2013/IMG_0112.JPG We had a great discussion around the table about the cultural differences in Alaska – how to cross-culturally communicate the Gospel. It was very interesting – I take so much for granted! They have a great vision for Alaska, “Rescue Alaska”. It is multipronged and desires to meet the whole person with the Gospel. Love it! It’s a big vision…pray for them when you think of it. I got an invitation to return!
After lunch the Rees’, the pastor’s in-laws, took me for a drive up to the glacier and a ski resort. I got to see the snow up close and personal. /Users/ruth/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Originals/2013/Apr 14, 2013/IMG_0116.JPG It was about 20 degrees! (I left 80 degree weather back home – it’s like whiplash!)
I flew home Monday getting back to Roanoke about 10:00 then drive on hom e and arrived by midnight. Long trip!
In the meantime, my oldest daughter called to say that her roof had leaked – big time! They were having the roof redone and we had a terrific rain storm so it leaked from the attic to the basement. They were going to have to take everything back to the studs…(wet insolation) and they needed to bunk at my house. So the next morning I was greeted with 4 happy voices saying “Hi, Mackie” and two very weary parents. They have been through a lot – a month ago their sewer backed up into the basement and that had to be repaired…It would have been easier if they had moved! They had to pack everything up and put it in the living room and dining room. So much upheaval. They are good-natured. I’d be pulling my hair out!
We are headed to Montreat. They are going to stay for a while – til the house is done. I am going for my dear Uncle Bev Shea’s service on Sunday. What a dear man! Heaven is getting populated with people I know and love! What a great celebration there was in Heaven with Mother, Uncle T.W. Wilson, Uncle Grady Wilson and others that we considered like family who co-labored with my father.
Heaven seems nearer.
None of my photo inserts worked! Woe is me!! I’ll keep trying!
OK I have complained about my trip to Denver but I failed to tell you about the exciting time I had there.
I was part of the “Life Giving Leadership Round Table” at the Journey Church in Conifer, CO. in the foothills of the Rockies…I had to be sure to drink plenty of water so as not to get altitude sickness (it sits at 8200 feet above sea level)…even so, on Sunday I got a huge headache. Like a jack hammer inside my head. But I spent my time with a group of dynamic pastors, leaders, counsellors, concerned folks to talk about how to speak/model grace into the culture of the church today. Right up my alley. It was so exciting!
The same Spirit says the same thing. And God is moving among His people to lead them to grace. There were folks from the East Coast, West Coast, North and South…I love big idea folks…and that’s what they are. So we had lively discussions and debate. I came away with a powerful new understanding of the Trinity that I believe will transform some of my thinking. Ted Haggard, my friend, explained that the Trinity is not a chain of command but a mutual love relationship. Because the Trinity is that way we are allowed to experience the love relationship with the Trinity. We have been invited into the dynamic relationship that the Father, Son and Spirit enjoy.
Sunday I spoke at the Journey Church’s 2 worship services. That place is so exciting! The pastor, Michael Cheshire, has assembled a team of dedicated men and women who have the heart of evangelism at their core. Everything they do has evangelism as its purpose. I recommend his book, How to Knock Over a 7 Eleven They started the church by the leadership forming a construction company – they would go remodel, fix up, build in the community and invite the folks to church! The church just opened The Angry Llama cafe with arcade games, staffed by church volunteers, so as to encounter folks from all walks of life. They have a driving school…They think outside the box!
Michael and his team have the heart of servants…they were so gracious and good to those of us who participated in the Round Table…the food was terrific – a barbecue to die for!
I love making new friends that share my heart.
For almost 2 solid days I worked with Tony Ferraro on a “Life Plan”…very interesting and helpful. 21 charts!! I came home with lots of homework. I’ll see him again in San Antonio next month where we’ll hammer out strategies and goals for Ruth Graham Ministries. He is such a gifted man with a deep well of wisdom and insight. He is one of our Board members. So that was great!
Warning! I am going to rant…have a hissy fit…complain…feel sorry for myself…so if you’d rather not listen go elsewhere.
How is it that the airlines are getting away with such poor customer service? The price is high. The accommodations poor. The food nonexistent or way over-priced. The seats not created for the human body. Over-crowded. Too cold or too hot. Everything has a fee from checking your luggage, to sitting in the emergency aisle to getting extra leg room – in coach class! – which takes room away from seats in the back so those customers are cheated. I even heard this week that there is an airline that charges for carry ons! When will it stop?
I flew to and from Denver this week – got home late last night. I chose to watch the movie – one I had been wanting to see. I had my own headset to listen (or I would have had to pay a fee) but the jack was broken so the volume was on VERY LOUD. I put my headset around my neck and could still hear the audio. It would have blown out my ears if I had worn them normally. The seat on the plane from Dulles home was designed by a gorilla! There is a bar just under the slim padding – actually just a covering rather than padding – that hits one’s tail bone. The seat is curved in a way that you cannot possible sit up straight!
The carry on issue is ridiculous! People are bringing on more and more – though it says, “one personal item and one carry-on”. I guess it depends on how you define “one”, “personal” and “carry on”. Planes are delayed at the gate because the overhead bins fill up with all the large items that eventually have to be checked – for free! It pays to bring it to the gate to by-pass the checked luggage fee. The airlines should charge those people to check luggage – not those of us who try to follow the rules. And once when I was trying tp lift my bag up and asked a flight attendant for help – not to do it, but just to help, she told me it wasn’t her job! Now that I am older I am able to ask a nearby gentleman to help me. They usually take pity.
Who designs airplane seats? They ought to get the Volvo people involved. When I got in my 12 yr. old Volvo to drive home I actually said, “ahhh”. Why can’t airplane seats be comfortable? They are not only uncomfortable and bad for you, they are too small. A visit to my chiropractor is usually scheduled after every trip.
One my way out to Denver last week, my plane was to be 3 hours late so I was able to go to another gate and hop on a plane leaving right then. However, the only seat left was a middle seat between two large men who spread out. I mean s-p-r-e-a-d out! The only way I could move was to lean over to reach my purse on the floor! By the time I got to Denver I was in pain!
Every executive officer of every airline ought to have to ride in coach regularly. But most of them are men. Make their wives fly coach regularly – we might see some changes!
Airports are getting busier and the planes smaller. And we are letting them get away with it!
If other businesses were run that way they’d go out of business. Well, actually it seems customer service has left the building…or airplane as the case may be.
While I am at it…no, nevermind. One complaint at a time.
This weekend I fly to Alaska!
Thanks for listening! Happy travels!
He is risen!!