Melanie and I go through a series of devotionals each morning. Sometimes it is startling how they build together and comment on our circumstances.
In April last year I wrote to several dozen chapters of the Order of St. Luke throughout central Florida, offering myself as a cheap speaker to invite for a small healing mission. Thursday I received a letter from one of these chapters expressing interest in the idea.
I called the lady who wrote and explained that my circumstances had changed. The stroke left me unable to easily speak or travel safely far from my house. She promised they would pray for me. I thought a lot that evening about God “closing doors” on opportunities I once enjoyed.
The next morning I read this from Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest:
When you have … no one watching and encouraging you, it requires the grace of Almighty God to take the next step in your devotion to Him, in the reading and studying of His Word, in your family life, or in your duty to Him.
I have been trying to regain a working swallow reflex since the stroke but this was, all by itself, tough to swallow.
Then we turned to John Piper’s Solid Joy:
You may be going through things right now that are painfully preparing you for some precious service to Jesus and to his people… The psalmist said in Psalm 119:71, “It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” He does not say it was easy or fun or pleasant. In retrospect, he simply says, “It was good for me.”
Before the day was over it would turn out that we had several opportunities to encourage other people in ways that were not typical in my past. One had already come in a phone call with a prayer request before 7:00 AM that morning, not the time people usually call us for prayer.
Later that day one visitor to our house ended his conversation by telling me, “Now I know why I came today!” because some encouragement from me had settled a worry troubling him. It would appear God both closes and opens doors.
In our devotional reading we check the Slice of Infinity page at Ravi Zacharias’ web page. Stuart McAllister had written:
Though at times we may find ourselves stuck in one stage or another, we … remember God’s involvement in our past, present, and future. Between the pages where Habakkuk cries out for God’s answer and where he ends in a mixture of fear and faith, we learn something of the ambiguity, tension, and struggle that is ours until the journey ends.
Ambiguity. tension, and struggle until the journey ends. Melanie seems to wrestle with these demons less than I do. She tries to encourage me. I, in turn, pray for the unique nature of the battle for her.
That evening a dear friend in the Lord came to sit with me awhile. I mentioned that I had been finding Oswald Chambers a bit hard to take.
I spoke too soon.
Last night, dropping in the bed next to me, exhausted, Melanie said, “This has been the hardest four months of our life.”
This morning as she tried to pour nourishing glop into my stomach tube to feed me, she poured too much and spilled it over my arm and clean clothes. After cleaning me up we went to do our devotions.
Brother Oswald’s selection included this:
Nothing can come between the love of God and a saint… The underlying foundation of the Christian faith is the undeserved, limitless miracle of the love of God that was exhibited on the Cross of Calvary; a love that is not earned and can never be. Paul said this is the reason that “in all these things we are more than conquerors.” We are super-victors with a joy that comes from experiencing the very things which look as if they are going to overwhelm us.
Thank you, Lord, for the reminder as we start another day.