My Hiding Place

“You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble 
and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

—Psalm 32:7 (NIV)


Remember the old airline commercial that asked, “Wanna get away?” It has been rolling around my mind lately. For all the obvious reasons, too.

Life gets hairy. 

Circumstances pile up.

The usual relief valves stop working.

And the natural response becomes—RUN AND HIDE!

You may be more mature than I am (most people are), but I think we all have felt this way from time to time. So I’m not ashamed to admit it: I want to hide, and I don’t want to come out again until it’s blue skies and happy feelings. 

Well, good luck with that, right?

“In this world you will have troubles,” Jesus told his disciples (John 16:33). 
Here’s a man who knew troubles, but more than that—He knew the future.

He knew our future and our future troubles. But more than that. He knew the purpose of troubles (growth) and how it all fit in with His Father’s will. 

But even more than that.

He knew the temporary nature of our troubles, how we would receive comfort during our troubles, and the blessed outcome for those who persevere.

It’s good to know someone who knows, isn’t it?

Just last week I tried to escape my problems (if only for a few hours), and God promptly put me face-to-face with another person engaged in the same struggle. So we ended up talking about—what else? The very thing I was trying to avoid!

God clearly sent the message: You’re not going to run from this. You’re going to run to Me with this.

Then, in case I still had doubts, the minister mysteriously delivered a message on how God doesn’t want us to escape our problems, but instead look to Him and be overcomers in Christ. By His strength and by His wisdom. 

Maybe skywriting is next, I thought.

So, hey! I couldn’t escape the situation physically, but that rarely solves our problems anyway. It only gives temporary amnesia. Life always returns, and with it…problems. People with problems. Relationships with problems. Jobs with problems. And like I said, these things pile up.

How to “get away” without leaving home?

In Psalm 32, David tells us:  we escape by spending time with the Lord. Verse 7 says, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” 

The Lord responds in the next verse, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you.”

It’s true…God puts these messages right in our path, and He speaks through His Word, but we have to have spiritual discernment.

Keeping spiritual eyes open is a discipline I’m learning, and these three ideas may help you, too.



Prioritize:  Decide in your heart that time with God will take precedence over other activities. We all have hundreds of choices to make each day. We must prioritize. What’s most important? Should I worry about dust accumulating in my house or try to discern God’s Word by studying it? Should I engage in fruitless grumbling with a non-believer or keep a prayer journal recording God’s faithfulness? What’s going to net eternal rewards and peace of mind right now? What pleases God?

Plan:  Once you’ve resolved to make time with God a must, set a few goals to keep you moving along. Join a small group or attend a mid-week service that you normally wouldn’t. Set a reading plan. Finish a book long ago started and glean what you can from the message. Write out what you’re learning for future reference about God’s work in your life.

Persevere: Life is not a science; it’s an art!  Practicing flexibility without self-incrimination when plans fall through is the key to persevering. Jump back on track by talking with God, confessing your shortcomings, and taking the next right step.

Let Him be your hiding place in difficult circumstances. Our God delights in this and promises to make His strength perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

As a result, I’m learning to hide while staying in plain sight. How about you?

Journey Along!

Beckie

Getting Picky

“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”

—Isaiah 55:2 (NIV)


It’s amazing what you can do with just 26 letters.

I recently found myself wandering around a public library looking at various titles (literally only the titles because that’s all I could read), and the atmosphere took me back.

Back to a time when I used to read every scrap of print on a Nancy Drew mystery:  front, back, side, copyright page, reviews, page numbers, etc. Nothing was left unsearched by my eyes and brain.

I feared I might miss something. I figured it had to be there for a purpose—otherwise why would they include it?

You know…I just didn’t feel good about myself if I left something unread.

This was my job.

I even went so far as to cut out mistakes found in the local newspaper and mail them back to them with a complaint! Imagine the person’s face who opened my childishly handwritten envelope.

What a weird kid, they probably thought.

Later, when I worked for that same newspaper as a proofreader, I delighted in reading and finding mistakes. (Thankfully they never connected me to the kid who mailed in typo’s all those years before.)


While my obsessive reading may seem fine for books and newspapers, it even extended to other items—like shampoo bottles and toothpaste tubes. License plates, menus, maps. I loved them all. 

It’s true. I knew exactly what the manufacturer wanted you to do with their product. But, seriously, does anyone really “Repeat” after 
“wetting, lathering and rinsing” ?

Author Anne Fadiman talks about this reading obsession in her book, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader. I read it many years ago when I had the eye power to do so. In it, she admits to reading a car manual simply because it was the only thing available.

These days, however, I have to limit my reading intake. Vision loss has forced this, but I’ve come to find a hidden benefit: 

I’m now more selective.

I don’t want to spend my “labor on what does not satisfy” (Isaiah 55:2). 

Some questions I ask myself before diving in to any printed material:

Does this have eternal value?

Is it going to grow me as a Christ follower?

Is it going to build a relationship?

Is it necessary?

Is it going to put me in a bad place emotionally?

You get the concept. Being picky feeds your spirit in a better way.

While YOU may not have to limit your reading because of physical issues, remember we all have time constraints. That alone should make us selective. 

Think about this next time you scroll through Facebook or are tempted to dive into something without lasting benefit. 

(The same thing applies to our listening and viewing habits, by the way.)

When you do this, you start to feel empowered.  And you don’t have to wonder why you mysteriously feel nasty, like, What did I just ingest?

You’ve been picky—and that’s a good thing!

Journey Along,

Beckie

Recalculating: 3 Ways to Find Your Way Back

“And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.’ “

—Luke 22:31-32 (NKJV)



I’d love to tell you about all the things God’s been teaching me over the past couple of months, but I’m not sure what those would be. I am in utterly confused-and-somewhat-bitter mode. Nothing’s turning out as planned! There are too many unresolved lingering issues. 

I trust you’ve been in a similar spot. I’m not trying to be vague here; things are just a little foggy right now.

“This isn’t what I thought it was going to be,” is a line we say around our house to describe how expectations are not being met. We once heard a relative give that as an excuse for why they were getting divorced: The marriage wasn’t what they thought it was going to be. Well, no kidding.

How often do our expectations actually align with reality? Not as often as we’d like—I think we’d all agree.

But what do we figure the problem is?

Many factors contribute, and wrong expectations top the list.  But for purposes of discerning God’s will and gaining clarity—getting back our spiritual groove after an attack as mentioned above—I think we need to “recalculate” our lives with God’s purposes by concentrating on the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Scripture, and worship.

At least that’s what I’m doing. Maybe you’d like to join me in tapping into these time-tested practices.

Prayer:  A mistake I often make and I know others do, too, is thinking (or talking) about problems, instead of actually praying about them. We end up feeling like, Why is this issue still around? It’s so old, and I’m so tired of it! 

But have we earnestly prayed about it? Prayed without ceasing about it? Probably not. James 4:2-3 says, “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…”

Sometimes I really don’t like what the Bible says. It’s just too convicting!

But let’s take away this from James: Pray! Pray in accordance with God’s will! And pray with pure motives! (Easier said than done, but try it anyway.)

While prayer is not a guarantee to having the issue resolved, at least once we’ve prayed, we know we are one step closer to God’s heart. 

Along with prayer, we need to check our obedience. Is God telling us something we don’t want to hear? Just like a child plugging his ears and chanting, “I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you,” we can try to ignore what we know God is saying. The basic choice is: His will or ours? 

Maybe we hesitate because what He’s saying doesn’t make any sense or because it is downright painful. (Don’t ask me how I know.) Just remember, God often asked His servants to do nonsensical things in trusting Him. And those crazy actions (think Moses and Joshua) brought about God’s will and ultimate peace.

Scripture: I love what Acts 17:11 says about the Berean believers:   “They searched the Scriptures daily.” How wise! This is our spiritual food, so let’s not subsist on the junk food served up by the culture. Of course, I’m talking about Facebook here. Instead, let’s head straight for proper nutrition.

As much as I love reading and collecting books, I know there is none comparable to The Bible. When I feel distant from God, it’s probably because I am not studying Scripture as earnestly as I should. The answers lie within. 

Truth is timeless, so while circumstances ebb and flow, human nature remains the same (that is to say broken). The Word of God gives it to us straight, but holds out the light of hope so that we needn’t despair. 

When in a spiritual fog, my humble advice is:  FLEE to the Word of God.

Worship: We were built for this. And the biggest benefit I find is it reminds us of who God is, and that—in and of itself— restores perspective. Who He is is Creator, Sovereign, Savior, Healer, Comforter, Provider, Restorer, Teacher, Judge, and so much more!

While corporate worship is great and necessary, I often find some of my best worship comes while I’m singing praise songs around the house. Worship isn’t limited to Sunday mornings; it’s a lifestyle—one worth cultivating in order to maintain connection to our power source. 

Try praising God throughout the day for small blessings that remind us of His provision. I find this practice keeps spiritual ties tight and makes trials more bearable.

And those trials will come. With Satan on the prowl and wanting to “sift” us like wheat, we need to work our battle plan.

So take heart, friends! God is greater, but He does allow these times of testing in order to grow us.

No, it’s not pretty. But you already knew that, right?

Still Journeying,

Beckie 



Staying Relevant

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?”  —Romans 8:24


I’ll be honest:  there are times when I’m making cookies or peeling corn-on-the-cob that I feel a lot more job satisfaction than I do when I’m writing these blogs. The reason is obvious. I get direct results with the corn and the cookies. They turn out right the first time, and I know people enjoy them. It’s tangible. (Maybe that explains why I recently discovered I had four bags of flour on my kitchen shelf! I’m subconsciously trying to stay relevant.)

These blogs, on the other hand—who knows?

We writers wrestle and revise. We pray and post. This craft rarely turns out great the first time around. And as far as people enjoying them…You do your best and put it out there.

And wait.

And wait.

Then it starts to feel like yesterday’s news. But you decide to pass out your blog cards anyway, and when you do, someone looks at you like, “What are you selling?”

You ask yourself: What AM I selling? Why it’s a relationship with Jesus, of course!

One woman I gave a blog card to (in church, no less) said, “I don’t do blogs!” But when pressed by her neighbor, the lady admitted she didn’t even know what a “blog” was. Then she said, “Oh, OK.”

You know, I’m kinda shy to start with, so a perceived indifference can rattle my sense of WHY am I doing this?

But, alas! It’s back to the beginning, where I felt called—and still do—to tell people about God. It is, after all, the most important thing, and it just happens to be intangible and invisible. And His news never grows old or irrelevant. On the contrary! Our culture is what’s irrelevant.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see,” says Hebrews 11:1. 

So…I’m putting my faith and confidence in what I hope to accomplish—spreading God’s Word and strengthening believers. I will not know the full results until I die.

When you think about it, there are a ton of references in the Bible about what we do NOT see. 2 Corinthians 5:7 summarizes it this way:  For we live by faith, not by sight. A great comfort to those of us who are visually impaired and may feel like we’re missing something important. God is saying, “No, the most important things are unseen.” You know,   like faith, hope, love, and eternal life.

Sometimes it seems to me that God’s ways and the world’s ways are 180 degrees apart. I have to remind myself about this truth constantly because I can get so fixed on the here and now, fixed on only the things I can see. Know what I mean? 

It really calls for us to be intentional about pulling back, getting quiet, being in the Word, and actively seeking Him.

It is THEN that we will experience true satisfaction—living water for our thirsty souls in a spiritually-barren landscape. No worries about concrete results or immediate knowledge of the outcome.

I’m grateful we can do this. Grateful that God makes a way and gives us the gift of His Word, His assurance, His hope and promises. It’s enough to get us through. 

So let’s be sure to seek Him out. Let’s keep wrestling with the work He’s called us to do, and put our trust in the only trustworthy source—Jesus.

Your Fellow Traveler,

Beckie

Invisible Ties

“And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.” 
—Matthew 28:15


Some stories are very old, indeed, and the fact that they are not true does not hinder their circulation. Like the one referenced above, about Jesus’ disciples stealing the body of Christ while the guards slept.

On the flip side, we love a new story. And true stories rock!

It seems like we never tire of a good story—at least I don’t. That’s why I wrote an essay about the power of stories and how they unite us. 

It’s posted on a friend’s blog, and this friend is actually a former professor of mine from Geneva College. What a gift it’s been to be re-connected with her in recent months. She’s a true inspiration:  a retired Fine Arts & Humanities Professor, an active visual artist, a writer…and OH! Did I mention that she happens to be blind??

Yeah, well it’s only slowed her down a little. I remember Lynda as a colorful, energetic, positive, and productive artist about campus. She’s much the same today! Still making art and submitting her writing to various publications. And encouraging former students to follow their passions.

Check out  “United by Stories” on the SCANdalous Blog:
Recollections | Essays on Humanities and Faith

https://llambert363.wordpress.com

Check the Door

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
—Revelation 3:20



“Knock, knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Jesus.”

“Jesus who?”

“I was afraid you’d say that.”

“Jesus who?” I hope none of my readers would answer Jesus that way. I hope my readers would throw the door open wide and invited Jesus in to stay. Many already have! But for those of you who haven’t, do we need a daily look at the obit’s to tell us time is short?

Revelation 3:20 says, “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…” How fantastic is that? Jesus is knocking, which shows how much He wants a relationship with us. But we must also do our part—OPEN THE DOOR! 

While some of us may not actually say, “Jesus Who?”— a lot of us are living our lives like we don’t know who Jesus is. This makes God so sad. We accept His blessings without returning praise or otherwise showing that any impact was made. 

Remember the old question: “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” It’s a good thing to ask ourselves, and what better time than now?

Jesus gave His all for us to have a relationship with the Father, and He invites us to open the door. It begins with a simple, “OK, Jesus. I’ll let you in.” 

We just celebrated Easter, and I’m sorry to break it to some people, but this holiday is not about bunnies or chocolate. We do our children a terrible disservice if that’s all we teach them. Yes, spring is about rebirth. GOD’S rebirth, you know, God, the Creator of the seasons? And rebirth as in a new life in Christ.

The way we celebrate major holidays reminds me how hypocritical it is when people want to talk about God ONLY at funerals. When someone dies, it’s everybody on board for God. 

“All Aboard!!!!!”

But in our daily round? We make up our own rules for living, our own theologies. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. I hear people say things like, “I was talking to a stray cat the other day, and I thought it was mom. You know, she always took in a stray cat.”

Well, Mom passed six years ago, and she wasn’t a believer. Now she’s a cat. Or she’s “in a better place” or something…We don’t need to ponder this too hard, do we? Because it’s all good, right?

This is a totally non-Biblical thinking, and I’m totally non-politically correct (PC) for pointing it out. But the last time I checked, Jesus wasn’t PC either. So there’s that…


WHY do we make up our own theologies instead of believing what Jesus taught? 

We can’t bear to think of our loved ones in hell. It’s that simple. Our minds play tricks… or more accurately, we believe Satan’s lies. Chiefly this old one from the Garden of Eden:  that there is no hell. “You will not surely die,” Satan says to Eve in Genesis 3:4. 

She goes for it, and many of us are still going for it today. It’s so appealing to our flesh that a no-hell doctrine is a basic tenant of many cults (Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.). It allows us to not surrender our wills to God with no fear of consequences. No change required…it’s simply, “I’m OK; you’re OK.”

Please re-think!

Well, I hope this hasn’t been too heavy for you. It’s what God put on my heart for this time and place. I want you to know there is tremendous life and HOPE in a changed life for Christ. It is not to be feared, but embraced. It is JOY UNSPEAKABLE (1 Peter 1:8)!

Journey Along,

Beckie

This Could Have Gotten Ugly

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.”
—John 10:10 (NIV)

“Suicide is the ultimate temper tantrum,” a counselor once told me when I said I didn’t want to live as a blind person. It was all too hard.

Ultimate temper tantrum?  I wanted to say,”What do I care about that?  And your point would be…?”

Oh! I guess she wanted me to care about how other people would feel. But I didn’t. Pain tangled around my mind making empathy impossible.

What did she know about anything anyway sitting there fully sighted? Nothing. Just like the rest of the sighted world. No concept of anything. I would have liked to climb up on a rooftop and taken them all out. Except I couldn’t see well enough to do that, and I didn’t know how to work the gun. Or even own “the gun,” for that matter.

It all strikes me as sort of funny now, but it wasn’t funny at the time. It happened many years ago, and PRAISE GOD! I’ve come out on the other side. But I wouldn’t have on my own strength. My life is a testament to God’s power at work. Every time I hear the words, “Beauty from the ashes,” I think, “Hey! That’s me. I was in the ashes.”

All this came to mind recently as I heard about the Germanwings co-pilot who may have had vision problems and definitely suffered from depression. I wish I could have talked to him! To tell him, “Yes, I know it stinks. I get it. You can’t picture ever getting past this. Can’t imagine not being a pilot. But just hang on…there is life on the other side. God is bigger than vision problems or depression.” 

He’s bigger than so many of the things we face. But in our own head and heart, we can’t conceive it. The enemy loves that! To keep us locked in our own fears and limitations. Not turning to God.

When we do turn to God, even if it’s in anger—as it was with me—he will respond. You don’t need to get past the anger and depression to turn to God. TAKE IT TO HIM! He is the healer, and He can handle strong emotions. However, you’ve got to allow time for His plans to unfold, and then reach out for whatever help is available at the moment. 

That could mean imperfect people. That could mean medication. (Depression has chemical roots.) That could be the healing balm of music. Maybe some McDonald’s french fries? (Just saying’ !) Whatever it is…go day by day, but don’t stop talking to God and seeking His plans.

Someone once commented on my writing, “I can tell you’ve been through deep waters with Jesus.” I guess that’s so. I’m grateful for that…that He cares enough to suffer with me. To suffer FOR me.

This week we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and victory over death. His victory over the enemy who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

People! This is what it’s all about! Jesus knows our suffering! His Holy Spirit is our comforter! He is our advocate with the Father!  Celebrate victory with Jesus!

And never let the devil steal your joy.

Journey Along,

Beckie

 

 

Allowing Time

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

—2 Peter 3:8 (NIV)

Need faster Internet? Mad because the guy in front of you is driving too slow? Don’t want to sit through commercials? Yep, it’s a common affliction—the “can’t wait” syndrome. I used to suffer from it myself…until I lost my central vision. Since then it’s become one long adjustment to life in the slow lane.

But you know what? It’s not that bad here in the slow lane. A lot less stressful, and plenty going on if you have eyes, ears, heart and mind to notice. Really it’s more like God’s timetable anyway when you think about it. Forty years wandering around the desert is like a big “whatever” to Him.

2 Peter 3:8 says, “With the Lord…a thousand years are like a day.” That tells us a lot about God’s timing and how off-base we are to indulge our human impatience.

When I first started back on this writing journey, I expected things to happen in newspaper-writing time. A quick turnaround. Deadlines that force you to leave an event early and race home to write something. A newspaper on the doorstep in the morning.

But with vision loss and working on God’s timetable, I’ve found a sweetness to the slower pace that the world’s buzz misses. Birds singing in the morning. That pretty good joke your kid just told. A memory floating to the surface as you smell bread baking in the sandwich shop.

How like God! He throws everything into a counter-intuitive spin and then surprises you with joy. You end up seeing His wisdom all over the fingerprints of time. (How right He was not to put us in charge!)

A recent example: Here I am putting along a year into my writing journey, getting irritated because it feels like nothing’s happening, and then the phone rings. I find out God is linking up a community of visually-impaired Christian writers and artists in surprising ways—through radio interviews, newspaper articles, friends of friends, and past associations. We are networking together for support and a higher calling. Amazing! And I thought the needle of life wasn’t moving.

Is there an area in your life where you feel God is delaying an answer? If so, rest assured…He has something surprising planned for EXACTLY the right time. Try enjoying the wait and keeping your heart open to what’s in front of you  RIGHT NOW.

We don’t want things to happen too quickly, because we don’t know the future as He does. And probably God’s working on us in the meantime. He’s in the chiseling business, you know. That was the case with the Israelites in the desert.

Sure I miss driving on the highway and passing someone with the wind in my hair. I miss reading as fast as I want when I want, too. And I wish I could see my son’s baseball game clearly, instead of through a fog, having to ask the person next to me what just happened.

But God does plant surprises. So I’m learning to savor those. And look for the ways in which He is moving to chisel me and those around me. His ways are higher than ours, of course, so I know He plans a purpose in our trials.

One of which is to share this message with you.

Journey Along,
Beckie

Who is Your Audience?

 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” —Colossians 4:2-6 (NIV)

One of the funnier moments I had in college was when my English prof invited a guest speaker/author into the classroom to talk about his book. It was the end of the semester, and here comes this lawyer to talk about his writing. 

He blew everyone’s mind by announcing, “Pay no attention to the audience!” We all chuckled nervously and looked around the room as we remembered our teacher’s constant admonition to “know your audience!”

The prof said, “Max, I’ve been telling them all year to write for their audience.”

Well, Max disagreed.

And our teacher (who was also an author) threw his hands up in the air, laughing.

“Next time, I’m going to be more careful about who I invite in to speak,” he later confided.

Such a dilemma!

How much attention should a writer or a speaker or a Christian (for that matter) pay to their audience? Because let’s face it:  we all have one. 

Another way to think of it is: we all have a sphere of influence. That could be your immediate family, extended family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or the guy you talk to in the store. Everyone’s life is intersecting with another’s somewhere.

have since heard this “audience” question answered in different ways by best-selling authors. And I sometimes puzzle over it myself. Am I talking to primarily women? Men? Christian? Non-Christian? Visually impaired? Who’s out there?

Of course, I want to speak to my supposed audience in a way that engages them; however, I don’t want to be “locked in” to just those I imagine. I have to think, “I’m speaking to whoever God has placed before me at this moment.” God is so much bigger than what I can imagine. What He does with our words…who can fathom?

That’s why the above verse from Colossians is a useful guide in directing our speaking and writing. Our living.

First, we are to be prayerful and watchful. That means we’re in touch with God and alert for His promptings. 

Second, God will open the doors He wants open for our message (which is His message).

Third, we are to proclaim it clearly, looking for opportunities, and guarding our speech wisely. People may be outsiders to us, but God wants to draw them in, and He’s using us faulty vessels. 

And fourth, know what you’re saying—be convicted. God wants His message to go forth boldly. Have your testimony smoothly set in your mind, so you may know how to answer everyone.

This job of evangelism is not simply for writers or preachers. Scripture makes clear it is the job of every believer to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I (Jesus) commanded you; and lo, I  am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

I love that Jesus’ great commission ends with a promise of assurance. He is with us on this journey! So regardless of who we perceive our audience to be, if we follow the guidelines traced out in Scripture, we can feel assured and leave the results to Him.

Journey Along,

Beckie

Half-Hearted: Lessons from Blind School*

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
–Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)


As far as I could tell, this was rock bottom. I stood in the basement of blind school, in the kitchen area, learning how to “feel” the difference between sugar packets and artificial sweetener. Learning how to differentiate between salt and pepper. And this final humiliation:  learning how to pour hot liquids.

I was 37 years old, so you could safely assume  I’d done some pouring in my previous life—the life of a fully-sighted person. Why, years ago… an elementary school teacher had even sent me to another part of the building to get him coffee. Surely this “pouring hot liquids” test would be child’s play! Yes, indeed, my years of pouring had prepared me well, and I felt confident going into the challenge.

The instructor handed me a white ceramic mug and cautiously asked me to pour her coffee. She was trying to assess my vision loss and said using my fingers placed alongside the cup to feel the rising level of heat was an option. But I didn’t need to do that. I could still see close enough to successfully pour the coffee…or so I thought.

“You didn’t leave room for cream,” she said, as I  handed her a full cup of coffee.

Seriously?  My expression said.

She wasn’t smiling—I could see that much. 

She seemed troubled and looked down at her clipboard and checklist.
“I don’t know if I can mark you off on this.”

I could feel myself getting defensive.

“You didn’t tell me you wanted cream,” I said.

I had her there. She hadn’t told me, and now the instructor had to check me off. Reluctantly she did so, though I secretly suspect she ratted me out to her boss. “Beckie didn’t leave room for cream, you know.”

Suddenly in my mind I heard the dad from The Christmas Story ask, “What brought you to this looowwwwly state?” 

In my case it wasn’t soap poisoning. It was a retina disease coupled with a  lack of confidence. Confidence so low I stood in this sad facility relying on someone else to tell me whether or not I could pour coffee. 

Understandably, adjusting to a disability can deflate your confidence, but this was a new low. But it was a good new low. Because as we all know, when you’re at the bottom, you start looking up.

The “pouring hot liquids” episode proved pivotal in that it drove me out of the blind school and home to my knees, praying for God to give me a “new direction.” And He surely did—in the way of a surprise pregnancy at age 38. Not the “new direction” I’d anticipated, but God often answers our prayers in surprising ways.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 describes exactly where the problem of a divided heart had gotten me. Up to this point, I was a “cultural Christian” not a “committed Christian.” I said I believed in God and went to church, but I did not fully commit my life to Him. I relied on my own wisdom when it came to daily decisions, instead of seeking God with all my heart.

But I found that when I prayed in desperation He listened, and I found Him when I sought Him with all my heart (and not half).

This is a common problem among Christians, I believe. I recently heard David Jeremiah of Turning Point say that we all have as much of God as we want. It’s like, “OK, God. This far, and no further!” Fear holds us back. We’re thinking, If I give God the reins, where will this end up? God thinks big, and that’s scary.

A curious thing happens though when we hit the bottom, as I did in blind school. We realize our ways aren’t working, and it might be nice to get in touch with the One who is really in charge. Because even though He’s the God of the universe and all powerful, He still cares about every detail of our lives. So we can invite Him in and watch what happens.

At that point, life becomes an adventure. With God in charge and leading you down surprising paths, things get interesting and so much more rewarding.

I’m sure many of my readers have experienced  a similar story with God. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

Lord, forgive us for the times we’ve relied on our own judgments instead of seeking You with our whole hearts. Help us to settle the trust issue in our hearts once and for all. And thank You in advance for all the wonderful plans You are unfolding in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Journeying Along,

Beckie

* This blog is Part 2 in a series of Lessons from Blind School. For Part 1, see the July 2014 blog entitled “Giving Grief Space.”