Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

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Friday, February 17, 2017

When You Follow the Path of Love You Have to Stoop Down



When he proclaimed his love for me out there on the top of the 'Anne' bridge at the peak of winter it didn’t much matter that is was way below freezing and the river had frozen over.


When he let his innermost thoughts fall on my ears, that it was his desire for me to be his wife, he slipped a diamond on my finger and the sun dropped behind our backs and left us standing in the stark cold, flushed with a longing for life together. We ran off the bridge and rushed into our future.



Winter faded into spring flowers, which ushered in a busy, blistering summer and we were married on the rainiest fall day in the history of ever afters. No one could have prepared us for what was to come.

You could say, we started off well-watered for all the pruning that would come into our lives and into our marriage.

We were young and had carefully guarded our hearts. We looked forward with honorable intentions and stood before God and made solemn vows to one another.

Somewhere in our house are copies of the vows we spoke. We committed them to memory, and boldly they soared from our lips and every day since then we have been committed to live them out. We’ve learned a lot about love since that frigid day on the 'Anne' bridge. We’ve still got more to learn than we know. 


It’s a lot easier to speak a vow that to live one.

To say you will love and cherish someone all of their life, all of their days is rather simple, especially if there is any affection or attraction to that person.

But, what happens when the hard part of the vows knocks on our door?

Love faithfully prefers the other even when the happily ever-after becomes sorrowfully exhausting and brutally demanding right now and from this day forward.

When life twists and turns, when loss heaves and health fails, then love risks and keeps on risking. And I’m not only talking about love within marriage now. We have been commanded to love our neighbor, love one another, and Christ went so far to call us to love our enemies.

Love reaches far. Love goes low.



The path of love is humility. Lowliness. Servanthood.

This truth is either falling on deaf ears and hard hearts and is slandered and spurned or is landing on ears that hear and it is sown in the chambers of contrite hearts ready to follow the glorious example of Christ.

Do you hear this? God has demonstrated his love toward us and we are to walk this very same path of love, dying to self, taking up our cross.




The only way to be delivered from the bondage of self-centredness, is to walk in the freedom of humility.

Humility sets us free from the idol of self, slays the pride of our souls and releases us to value others above ourselves, and to consider the interests of others.

Humility and love must go hand in hand; they are inseparable. Humility is our friend, pride is our foe.

C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity explained:

Pride . . . is the complete anti-God state of mind . . . As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.

Lewis continued “Pride is a spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love or contentment or even common sense.”

No small wonder Solomon wrote: “Pride goes before destruction.”

Humility is the opposite of pride. Clothe yourself with humility.

Humility allows you to love others not only if and when they are worthy of the love, but because in humility, whether they are lovable or not, you have regarded them to be worthy to be loved. In humility, you have considered them worthy for you to serve them.

In stooping low, you esteem them worthy of being lifted up, encouraged, built up. 




Look to the example of Christ and as Paul gently appealed in Philippians 2:5-8:
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather,
he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Consider the descent of Christ’s humility.

Christ Jesus, who was with God in the beginning and was God and who is God eternal, never ceased to be God when He climbed down from the glories of heaven, curled Himself up in a cramped womb, unfurled Himself as a baby in Bethlehem. From the heights of heaven to a lowly manger.

The Son of God who is “ . . . the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature . . .”, the shining of the shining, made himself nothing by taking on the nature of a servant, the likeness of man. There we see the nature of God and the nature of man in one Person; the climbing down of Deity to be garbed in humanity.

He descended lower.

He stooped to serve. He healed lepers, he washed dirty feet, He bent down and wrote on the ground, He allowed the betrayer’s kiss.

He descended lower.

He humbled himself to the point of death. He who is life, the author, agent, and sustainer of life, became obedient to death.

He descended lower.

He endured exceeding sorrow, was covered in horrific shame in the sight of God, and suffered great contempt and God’s wrath on a cross.

This is the attitude we are to have toward one another. Go lower and lower and even lower still. That is where you will find love rising higher and higher.




Love doesn’t live in fairy tales. Love abides in Christ and is poured into our hearts.

Love shows up when you stoop low.

When you reach out to the hurting, when you sit with the sick, when you welcome the outsider, when you are the hands and feet to the least, the lost, the lonely, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked and serve them, giving of yourself, thinking of others as better than yourself, then love flows over.

Love increases when self decreases.

Love grows when by the power of God, you set aside your life to care for a sick child or spouse or aging parent, you sacrifice your status to serve the body, you lay down your rights to honour those above you, and you strip away your entitlements and do all that you can to live peaceably with all.

Love takes the lower place.

When you see yourself for what you really are: one guilty of sin, but by grace you have been saved through faith by the atoning work of Christ and raised in Him and called His Beloved, you will stay at the foot of the cross.

At the cross, you see that Christ is all-sufficient and you don’t need to pamper your own happiness and stoke your own identity, because your aim is Christ, your pleasure is to delight in God’s pleasure, and your joy will be full in Christ.

At the cross, we look up to Jesus, follow after Him and go low. At the foot of the cross, we lay our selves down, and take up our cross as we walk the path of love clothed in humility, and we rejoice that in life and in death our hope is secure and our future is bright.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Love that is Going to Cost You Everything




I’m at a loss to merely sketch the cost of love. How do meager words strung together explain something that needs to be proven and established for the whole structure to stand secure?

As I contemplate what love really is, I am humbled and perplexed. Humbled because of the great love that God has demonstrated and perplexed because of many times that I have been nothing but a clanging cymbal.

To be honest, I don’t know if I have ever loved well. Only God knows.




I know I have known great affection. I admit I have gushed how I have loved something. Don’t we say, ever so rashly: “Oh, I love your outfit!” or “Ahh, I love my morning coffee!” or “I love to run barefoot on a sandy beach!”

We may like these things because we savor the taste, or are attracted to the appearance, or feel energized from the exercise, or the beauty around us captivates us.

But, this is not love.

Love is not simply words of friendly appreciation or frisky attraction, or a tantalizing sensation of romance, or sending a dozen red roses on Valentine's Day.



Isn’t it worth the cost of love, if without it you are left with nothing? Not even your own soul.

When we seek to comprehend the love that comes from God, when we trace the love that God has been faithful in demonstrating all through the narratives of His redemptive plan, we will say like John the Baptist: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

We will see that the Father loves the Son and this love leads to our eternal life.

We will see there is a cost to love.

Real love is not cheap, or comfortable or convenient. On the price tag of love is sacrifice. Our eyes will see that death is at the centre of love, but this is where new life rises.

We behold the perfect, steadfast, loyal, selfless, merciful, unchanging, eternal, self-giving, costly love of God when we look to the cross of Jesus Christ.



We catch a glimpse of this loyal love reflected in the life of Ruth.

We are first introduced to her mother-in-law, Naomi, who had been left a bitter widow and suffered the loss of her two sons in the land of Moab. When Naomi heard that the famine that had come to the “house of bread”, in her home land of Judah, was over she set out to return to Bethlehem.

Ruth, a Moabite widow, gave up everything in order to follow Naomi, her mother-in-law. She left her family, her people, her gods, her prospect of marriage, perhaps any hope of a future and became a foreigner, a stranger, a nobody and clung to Naomi.

Her brief declaration of her loyal love is breathtaking:

“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” {Ruth 1:16-17}
In her life, Ruth journeyed with loving-kindness, remained true to her promise, and trusted God and she experienced great reward.

She denied herself, loved mercy and walked humbly into a life of redemption and landed herself in the lineage of the promised Messiah.

The cost of this love was denial of self; the result was life.

Paul Miller, in his book, “A Loving Life” points out:

“Ruth’s hesed love of Naomi created the possibility of this resurrection. God’s hesed love of us by the gift of his Son gave us our resurrection as well. That’s what love does. It creates the opportunity for resurrection.”
Behold, what kind of love the Father has had for us! See what love is!





Jesus told his followers:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” {John 15:12-13}
Charles Spurgeon summed it up this way:
“Our Savior stripped Himself of all His glories, and by a thousand self-denials proved His love. But the most convincing evidence was given when He gave up His life for us.”
The apostle Paul wrote of this love to the church in Rome:
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” {Romans 5:7-8}
The apostle Peter declared not only the cost, but the purpose of God’s great love.
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God . . .” {1 Peter 3:18}
That He might bring us to God! God sent the Son of God to bring us to God! It cost Him an agonizing death. The eternal, holy God tasted death that sinners could be covered with the righteousness of Christ and could have eternal life.



God is a pursuing God who is faithful to His own faithfulness. He remains faithful to His love because He remains faithful to Himself.

The Psalmist sang of the faithfulness of our pursuing God, 
“surely goodness and lovingkindness shall follow me all the days of my life . . . ” 

We see a picture of God’s Goodness and Hesed, like two sheep dogs, chasing us down to dwell securely in God’s presence.

And we like sheep, gone astray, each to our own way, struggle to get to the real meaning of love. We don’t really want to face the cost of love. But, God will not stop chasing us with His relentless love. He gave us His beloved Son and He has called us to Himself and to this same love.




The author of 1 John, who brings the reader to the basics of the Christian life, wrote:
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” {1 John 3:16}
A thousand self-denials: that’s how we lay down our lives.

At the right time, God sent the Son of God, who stepped down from heaven, made His dwelling among us, took on flesh that as God-man he would suffer for us.

Peter proclaimed:

"'He himself bore our sins' in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; 'by his wounds you have been healed.'" {1 Peter 2:24}
The cost of his love was his death. The result is that we might die to sin and live for righteousness and lay down our lives with a thousand self-denials.

This love, if shed abroad in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit, will lead us on a journey of love. Yes, a love that costs us! Yes, a love that brings us to deny self! Yes, to sacrifice the idol of self!



Although Thomas Watson, lived over three centuries ago, his exhortation tenderly cultivates our souls. He wrote:

“Self-denial lodges but in a few hearts. It is a sacred, exotic herb which has grown very scarce.
Self is an idol, and it is hard to sacrifice this idol; but this must be done.”
Watson explained how this is done:
Love for God will devour self-love. 
Self-denial does not grow in nature's soil. It is a fruit of the Spirit. Beg God that He will plant this heavenly flower in your soul. Say, Lord, whatever You deny me, do not deny me self-denial.
Is this the cry of our contrite hearts: for God to grow in us, by His grace, a greater love for God and for others?

Yes, it will cost us our very lives, a thousand self-denials, daily laying ourselves down, and preferring others above ourselves.

To live a life of love like this is to take up our cross and walk our way home by bearing our cross beam and say with Paul:

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” {Galatians 2:20}
Is this a cost you count?

Do you reckon the reward of knowing Christ far richer than the cost of self-denial and death?

Do you consider everything worthless that you may gain Christ?

It is in the garden of our souls that dying to self will result in resurrection and a life of love that bears lasting fruit.



Come back next week as we discover the path of love.

Friday, February 3, 2017

When Love's Got ***Everything*** To Do With It




I wake up these days with a husky voice from a persistent cough and I suppose it about sounds how I’m feeling. I could crawl back under the warmth of the wool blanket these mornings and hibernate from the brash words and careless actions out there. The whole world howls gruff.

My bare toes touch the cold wood floor, my head pounds, my chest tightens, the ache of this world hurts. I slip on my black robe, press on, do the next thing, take the next step, in a world blinded in darkness.



Our world has lost its way when it comes to love.

We’ve become loud, hard, coldhearted, and self-centred people.

We rise up and demand justice, but seldom go low and die to self.

We pursue happiness and demand all our rights.

We want love, but we’ve lost what it means to give it, to live it.

We give in to our feelings and run off, we cut off, we build walls, we turn away and we check out.






Have you ever wanted to move to Australia?

My ‘baby’, who turns seven next week, brought me a book to read to her, so we cozied on the couch in the morning light and once again I read: “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst. Some of you may be all too familiar with the story.

Alexander woke one morning with gum in his hair. From there his day got worse and worse. He tripped on his skateboard, he didn’t get any prizes in the cereal box, he got smushed in the car. No one listened to him, his best friend deserted him, and his mother forgot to pack desert for him. He got hurt, he fell in mud, he was called names, he fought, he never got what he felt he deserved. As his disasters persisted, Alexander determined that he could not endure, and decided the only way to deal with the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad was to give up and move to Australia.

At the end of the day, Alexander’s mother told him some days are just like that.

We can all relate to Alexander, can’t we?




It’s true some days, some relationships are just like that. It’s also true that too many are giving into their moodiness without caring how it affects others and choose to respond to these difficult days, difficult relationships by fleeing through the easiest exit.

In this age, when like in the time of Judges, everyone is doing what seems “right in their own eyes”, when we base our actions on our feelings, we need to consider what love really is in the context of our interpersonal relationships.

Most of us could recite a portion of the love chapter that Paul penned to the Corinthians, but do we live it, do we do it?

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.   
Love never ends.” {1 Corinthians 13:4-8}
The word used here for love is the Greek word ‘agape’. In many ways ‘agape’ expresses the concept of the Hebrew word ‘hesed’ in the Old Testament.

We tend to base our actions today on our feelings. Whether we lean a little more on the emotional side or remain more stoic we’ve lost what it means to love without an “exit strategy”. 




We toss away people as carelessly as our empty Starbucks cups and we relentlessly pursue our own happiness. We’ve left a trail of broken people, broken relationships, broken families, broken communities, broken churches, broken countries, a broken world.

Hesed is not a feeling for someone, it’s not a careless or causal relationship. It is never merely an abstract feeling of goodwill.



Like a brilliant diamond with many facets, ‘hesed’ is translated as: “mercy”, “kindness”, “faithfulness”, “steadfast love”, “strength”, “loyal”.

It’s a difficult word to define, perhaps even more difficult to live.

It’s a practical action expressed.

It is a committed love. It is an enduring love. It is a costly love. It is a self-giving love.

It is central to the Gospel: God pursues His people with a loyal love.





Through the narrative of Ruth and Naomi, Paul Miller focuses our attention on the extraordinary treasure of hesed love. In his book, “A Loving Life” Miller writes:

“When you love with a hesed love, you bind yourself to the object of your love, no matter what the response is . . . Your response to the other person is entirely independent of how the other person has treated you. Hesed is a stubborn love . . . Hesed is the opposite of the spirit of our age, which says we have to act on our feelings. Hesed says, ‘No, you act on your commitments. The feelings will follow.’ Love like this is unbalanced, uneven. There is nothing fair about this kind of love.”
Miller continues:
Hesed love is a determination to do someone good, no matter what, to be faithful to a covenant regardless of its impact on you. It wills to love when every fiber in your body screams run.”


God’s hesed has been described as “combining the warmth of God’s fellowship with the security of God’s faithfulness”.

We understand that we are to love the Lord God and we acknowledge that we are to love others, but we fail to grasp what this means and it’s not even possible to do hesed in our own power. 




Hesed is never deserved. But, as Christians hesed is something we are to do.

This loyal love is going to cost us. Jesus says,
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34).
Jesus also says, 

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)
Miller confronts us with the reality that:
“ . . . commitment love lies at the heart of Christianity. It is Jesus’s love for us at the cross, and it is to be our love for one another . . . This [loyal] love is at the heart of Jesus’s relationship with His Father, and it is at the heart of ours as well.”


So, the next time you are struggling to love someone and you want to ‘skip town and move to Australia’, consider hesed love.

It’s going to cost you, but the eternal reward will be far greater.

Come back next week, as we count the cost of hesed love.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The One Test You Don't Want to Fail




We’ve made it to the last few squares of January. Already we’ve been given days of grieving or days of great joy. We will flip the page in a few days, blink our eyes and find ourselves at the end of another year.

How are we doing with the things we set out to do? We don’t want to get to the end of the year, the end of our lives and realize we missed the most important thing in the world.





My family is off skiing today on some crispy snow-covered slopes puddled with white slushies at the base of some hills.

Life can seem pretty amazing when we are high over top with spectacular views, but when you get down to the bottom of things, well, there may seem like there is a lot of slugging to plow through.




I don’t have the strength right now to strap on skis all day, and my blood has been too thin from the blood thinner medication I’m on for the rest of my life, to chance falling or being run into and tripped up, and I woke this morning with a little chest congestion that makes things even harder.

So, I'm home all alone for the day. Not something that I get to experience very often.

I wasn’t discouraged that they all drove off and left me behind. Maybe I should say, I wasn’t until they sent a snapshot of smiles under helmets and goggles on their way up a chairlift. I truly am grateful for the day they all have together, but I do miss being a part of it.

I miss the gliding down gentle hillsides, enjoying the winter wonder of the beauty of God’s creation, the laughter, the six year old trying to race her fifteen-year-old sister, the fresh air, being on the adventure together. I don’t miss the cold fingers and toes.





Today, I sit at home alone. I appreciate the quiet, the space to think, to wrestle with some hard things. To seek God in His wisdom and grace and truth and steadfast love.

It’s a difficult exercise to examine your own heart. It’s really easy to see the speck in another’s eye, but remain blinded to the log in your own.

First and foremost, I must confess, I do not think I have it all figured out. I am aware of my own short-comings and at the same time recognize that, too often, I am more willing to ignore my own log while determining how I might help another see their speck.

But I keep coming back to my one thing for this year: to know Christ. 




I will likely keep coming back to that. It is worth giving up everything in this world “for the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord.” That’s what the Apostle Paul claimed in his letter to the Philippians. That is what I want. But, when I examine my heart, my life is it truly how or why I press on each passing day? Is it what I am living; could you tell by the blisters--or lack of blisters--on my knees.

Paul also warned the Corinthians to:

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
He tell us we are to scrutinize our own souls. Examine, prove, test our own selves. Are we in the faith? Do we realize we are in Christ? Is it evident that Jesus Christ is in us?




Faith is not persuading our selves. It is graciously given to us by God; it is inwrought in us, but we are to examine ourselves to see if we have come to this quiet confidence in God.

Faith always pleases and glorifies God.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones suggested two factors that determine the strength of our faith.

First, and the chief factor, he said is our knowledge of God.

Do we know God? Do we seek to know God by reading and studying His Word? Do we seek His face by coming into His presence in prayer? Do we wait upon the Lord with a quiet resting? Do we consider His greatness, His glorious attributes, His power, grace, mercy, holiness, His character, His promises? Do we realize who He is and what He has done?




The second factor, Lloyd-Jones said, is the application of what we know. Do we apply what we know and bring our knowledge of God into consideration?

Do we stand on His greatness? Do we look to Jesus and to eternal things or do we get hung up on things of this world?

Are we living out what we know?

Robert Murray M’Cheyne asserted, 

“What a man is alone and on his knees before God, that he is, and no more.”






We may fool others. We may even fool ourselves.

Dr. David, my heart surgeon, had no idea how sick my heart was because even the scores of tests did not indicate how frail it was for it was all turned and twisted and on the wrong side. I didn’t look like the typical heart patient and until the surgeon pried open the cage holding my broken heart no one knew that it was ready to quit beating at any moment. Until my heart was examined on the inside they couldn’t fully explain my symptoms on the outside. Until he cut out the hard, he couldn’t replace it with healthy.

Don’t be fooled: God knows every heart. We are to examine ourselves to see if the delight of our heart is the Lord.

It is the power of God that works in us to bring us to saving faith, to give us life. What is inside, deep in our souls, will come out in our actions. Faith always leads to actions that please God and give Him glory.

Do we seek to glorify God in all of our lives? That is the secret of faith.

Whether I am on the mountaintop or in the valley, in elation or in disappointment, am I resting in God, waiting on Him, seeking to know Him more or am I more interested in preserving my own name, setting up idols when I need to get down on my knees? 





My skiers crash through the front door chasing after their laughter, fragrant with fresh air, wearing contented grins on pinked faces, and animated with tales of jumps and tumbles as I roll out dough for turkey pot pie. We are back to the noise rattling the bones of our home. The bustle is loud after a quiet day. I slip the fluted pie into the pre-heated oven and in a moment of distraction I toss the oven mitts on top of the stove and nearly start a fire.

We are so easily distracted from the things that really matter.


I breathe a prayer of gratitude for God’s hand of protection and when the famished skiers gather around and dish up large slices of pot-pie and thank-you portions of greens we quiet down for a few minutes to listen to familiar lyrics of a song.

Jimmy Needhem penned this song, entitled, “Clear the Stage” that begs us to examine ourselves. There are many things in this world to take our devotion away from He who is is the most worthy of all our adoration. 





{The second verse and bridge of "Clear the Stage".}



“Take a break from all the plans that you have made
And sit at home alone and wait for God to whisper
Beg him please to open up his mouth and speak
And pray for real upon your knees until they blister
Shine the light on every corner of your life
Until the pride and lust and lies are in the open
Then read the word and put to test the things you've heard
Until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken

Anything I put before my God is an idol
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol
Anything I can't stop thinking of is an idol
Anything that I give all my love is an idol

'Cause I can sing all I want to
Yes, I can sing all I want to

And still get it wrong.

Worship is more than a song.”


Friday, January 20, 2017

How To Have Peace in a World full of Affliction {What it Means to Take Heart}



“Would you do it again?” He threw the question at me in the examination room 18 towering floors up above the bustling city.

I faltered as if the wind may have caused the skyscraper to sway.

“I can’t.”

I reached for a better response, squarely planted my feet, and lobbed it back.

“It will never be an option again. It was a one-time surgery. They told me, ‘there is no way my body would ever be able to handle it again.’”

He swivelled on his chair. I had misunderstood his question.

He leaned it, tossed another from a different angle: “Was it worth it?”

“Would you recommend the surgery to any other childhood cancer survivor if she needed it?”


The radiation oncologist who destroys cancer cells in children probed me with these questions. He was curious to know what I would say now that I had come through this non-conventional surgery done out of desperation—now that I was on this side of the stacks of medical files, all the pokes, and scars, and ongoing difficulties.

I finally got his point.


He asked me, if ever there is another patient that has come to this same long term side-effect--where the treatment killed the cancer and saved the child, but left the child scarred and made her heart so calcified it would shatter like eggshells at the surgeon’s touch--could I say: “Go ahead. Lay yourself on the cold operating table, and surrender your very life . . . to get more life?

Could I tell someone else to brave all the hazards to have the heart surgeon crack open your sternum when your one functioning lung may not draw in the breath of life once your body is taken off the lung-heart machine?

Was it worth all the risks, the pain, the weakness, the struggles, the delusions, the complications?

Ahh . . . well . . . “Yes!” Looking straight at him, I flung my answer across the room with tears teasing the corners of my eyes.

“I’m here; here with my family.”

I still get to be a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbour. I know to live is Christ and to die is gain. And, here I am living. 

No, it wasn’t easy in any sense of the word. It broke me; brought me to the lowest I had ever been, left me cut off, hemmed in, confined, lonely. But, it didn’t destroy me. At the bottom of the bitter cup I was longing for a better place.

I came through the waters with a greater desire to know Christ more. It brought me to a deeper place of soul-searching for the ultimate meaning of our ‘being’.

Charles Spurgeon once said, “We get more good out of our adversity than out of our prosperity.”



So, I sat in the oncologist’s office at the Pediatric Cancer Aftercare Clinic, a year and a half after my heart-salvaging operation, where he can’t promise me a long life, but one marked with continued side effects that make living in this life challenging. He hurled hard realities at me.

He told me, if ten children had have been treated with the rare type of cancer that was rapidly growing in my body in 1979, seven to eight of them would not have made it to their eighth birthday. It was a terrible cancer and aggressive treatment.

These unofficial statistics are sobering. I sit with this awareness.

They keep me from asking “why me?” Instead I ponder: “why not me?”

Life is full of questions. And if we knew all the answers there would be no more questions.

I didn’t deserve to be spared; as a three year old fighting cancer or as a thirty-seven year old with a failing heart.

There was nothing that made me more deserving than any other to be rid of the cancer in my body or for my heart to be patched up to go on beating, ticking like a steady clock in a quiet room, keeping time to all the days that God has purposed for me.

I keep grappling for answers for the fundamental question: “Why am I here?”

We’ve been created to glorify God, to love Him, and enjoy Him forever. We turned from God and exchanged the truth of God for a lie. We worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator. In Adam, death reigns. In Christ, grace reigns. Grace is infinitely greater.


Sin has had its effect on this world. “The whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” {Romans 8:22}

Our mortal and corruptible bodies will suffer disease, decay, and death.

But as Christians, ones who have been justified by faith, who have been made new and been given new regenerated hearts that love God and know Him, we are no longer under the reign of sin. We have died to sin and we now live in the reign of grace.

That is why we take heart!

This is not some self-help, self-promoting scheme. This is the truth that God, the Father “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” {Colossians 1:13}


We are in Christ. We are children of God awaiting the final redemption, the full and final salvation that is absolutely certain. In Him is our peace.

To ‘take heart’ is to have confidence, to have courage, to be unafraid.

A quick word study reveals that the original meaning behind the word used is "showing boldness" and it comes as the “result of the Lord infusing His strength by His inworking of faith.”

Jesus said to his disciples just before he was taken away to be made sin, to die the death that we deserved, to suffer incomprehensible agonies as He conquered sin:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” {John 16:33}
Christ has made a way for us to be brought back to God, to no longer be slaves to sin, but to be made children of God.

It is the by the power of the Spirit of God working in us, that makes our hearts adore Christ, that makes us yearn after God, that opens the eyes of our hearts to know God, to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Jesus assured his disciples that there would be tribulation in this world. But, He promises a peace which co-exists with tribulation, a peace which is realized in and through conflict and struggle. Our peace is in Jesus Christ.

Christ bolsters our confidence, gives us courage. He has overcome the world—all that is opposed to God, all that would turn our desires away from God, anything that we would want more than God Himself.

For those of us in Christ, we will not escape tribulation.



Some of my tribulation has come from a diseased body, but this world is temporary. I am looking to that which is eternal. As a citizen of heaven, I gaze beyond the heavens and all the glory that is on display there and I realize a greater glory. That Jesus Christ has come to give us eternal life: that we might know the only true God and Jesus Christ.

We can take heart, show this unflinching, bold courage, live out the inner confidence that is Spirit-produced while we face tribulation because Jesus Christ has overcome the world.

Again, I quote Spurgeon, who reminds us: “As he died for us when we were ungodly, what will he not do for us now that he has sought us as his own? He gave the highest proof of his love to us when we were most unworthy of it, so will he leave us now?”

Whatever difficulty, tribulation, or affliction that is nearly squeezing the life out of you, take heart Jesus Christ has come to give eternal life to all that the Father has given him.
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