Saturday, October 11, 2008

God's manifest presence

My friend recently learned she has Hodgkins Lymphoma. Her doctor said, "If you were going to vote for the kind of cancer you wanted, this would be the one to vote for." That is one vote I think we would all pass on. She is six months pregnant. It was quite a blow to her and her friends and family. But it has been amazing to watch the faithfulness of God and how He is manifesting his presence in her life through circumstances, other believers and unbelievers. This diagnosis came Monday, and here is just a sampling of the things that have happened since.

She found out that a friend of the family had been through the exact same thing, pregancy and all, 8 years ago. Through that she learned there are three areas in the country that specialize in Hodgkins and one is in Omaha. She talked to her doctor here and he was thrilled she was researching and had found a group who dealt with pregnant women with the condition (very rare) and was very open to collaborating with them.

I had shared the following Paul Harvey story with her:
When the eagle sees the storm approaching, it leaves its nest with the expectation that the storm winds will push it higher and higher until it is flying above the storm in the warmth and light of the sun (Son). When the storm passes, it returns to its nest unharmed. Compare this to the chicken hawk who cowers against the cliff and allows the storm to buffet him, sometimes not surviving.
Just like Isaiah 40:31 says, "Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

This story meant a lot to her and she told her husband she was determined to face this storm like an eagle. A couple days later, she received this e-mail from her neighbor:

"I thought this was a very positive sign(as you know I am 1/100th Native American). There were two eagles soaring over your house today. No better word than soaring. They just stayed there. I have never seen eagles in this area before. They just were hanging out, making tons of noise and enjoying the nice sky. I could not figure out what the noise was until I noticed them over your house. As I said, that is a very positive sign to me( and I am a weird guy, but I took it as a sign!)
This was followed by another e-mail from a friend:

"Wow! This is incredible! You know it seems when you are in a crisis or trial you see God's hand in an amazing way. I remember in my depression, although I felt a deep sense of emptiness it was like God gave me signs along the way that He had not forsaken me. He knows how to show you in very personal ways that He is with you."

How true. I was telling Mark all the things that had been happening and He said, do you think these things are happening all the time and it's just that we're paying attention?" I kind of think it is God's grace being poured out in accordance with the need. It's why you look at someone and say, "I don't know how they can do that." It's because they are receiving additional grace for their need.
But wait, there's more! It seems every song I've heard has been for my friend, but one in particular stood out by Sanctus Real called "Whatever You're Doing". Here are the words:
Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos, somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Revaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow your will
or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is you want from me
I give everything I surrender...To...


Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I've wanted to say for so many years
Time to to release all my held back tears

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but I believe
You're up to something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
Something heavenly
It's time to face up Clean this old house
Time breathe in and let everything out
The part that caught my attention when I heard it was the phrase "You're up to something bigger than me." Before I could even share this with her, she called and told me that she had been up most of the night with a big dream God had given her. She said, "Is it possible to have the highest high and the lowest low in less than a week?" I answered, "Absolutely!" She had shared the dream with one of our pastors and he started laughing because he had e-mailed a few people with a dream of his a couple weeks earlier and it matched exactly her dream. Then I shared with her something our other pastor has shared with me several weeks ago and something Mark and I had talked about that also paralleled her dream! Wow! God is amazing.

But wait, there's more! I haven't even had a chance to share this with her yet. I listen to Chuck Swindoll on the radio on my way to work sometimes. He's been going through the book of Daniel. Yesterday it was the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abedniggo. I almost turned the station, so familiar I thought I was of the story. Of course we all know they refused to bow down to King Neb's golden statue and were ordered to death in the fiery furnace.

Here, I'll let you read for yourself:
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" They replied, "Certainly, O king."
25 He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."
26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

Perhaps you, like me, had never caught the fact that the only thing that burned in the fire was what bound them! They themselves were not harmed by the fire but God used it to loose what had bound them and set them free. They didn't even have the smell of fire but their chains were gone. Wow, what a powerful analagy. Really makes Isaiah 43:2 come alive: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
I could go on but you get the idea. God is at work and it is amazing to watch. Please pray for my friend as you think of it. (I'm not going to share her name in this format.) Please pray also for those who know her, that we might be sensitive to God's voice as to how we can come alongside and help her.


Carmen said...

Truly amazing! I keep humming the song Power of Your Love..."I'll rise up like an eagle and I will sour with You, Your Spirit leads me on, in the Power of Your love!

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