I will never forget the first day of summer, June 20, 1988. I had been at my awesome new job only two months when the first family emergency struck.
A dear friend was watching my children that summer while I was working. Her children were in the same age range as mine and they had a pool in which to cool off every afternoon from the hot, muggy New York summers. A set-up for a perfectly fun summer for my children.
Now, I should digress and give a bit of background before I continue. I was a registered nurse and preferred the boring and mundane medical-surgical hospital units. I was not an adrenaline junkie who loved the ER and trauma. I also had two fears: eye injuries, eeeewwwww, and injuries involving the top of a chain link fence, after almost being caught on the top of one.
So, on this beautiful first day of summer, THE CALL came. My friend and her husband were taking my son to the ER, because he caught his arm on the top of a chain link fence. 🤢
It seems that at five years old my son was already trying to impress girls. (Oy vey!) He was showing my friend’s daughter the way to his house from hers by scaling the chain link fence in the woods that separated our homes. Only, he did not quite make it. As his friend was screaming, he decided to stop the bleeding in his forearm by packing sandy dirt into the wound. I am not sure where he learned this trick!
The ER is another tale in itself, but suffice to say that after an hour of irrigating the sand out of the wound and twenty-seven stitches later, we were ready to head home. As the ER doctor was finishing, he looked at me and told me to keep his arm “quiet” while the wound healed. I looked at him with the “you have got to be kidding” look. As a father of young boys himself, we brainstormed how that could be done. We decided to put his arm in a sling.
Well, it sort of worked. Two days later, while my son was playing with a stick, with the same arm that is in a sling, he pokes his sister in the eye. 🤢🤢🤢
It took all of me to pry her hand away from her eye as she screamed. The Lord was oh, so gracious to me!! The eye was intact!! Off to the optometrist to find that the stick had only scratched her cornea. So, we leave the optometrist with daughter in an eye patch and son in a sling.
I had survived my two worst fears!!! I figured I could handle anything after this! WRONG!
It is a funny thing about being a lover and follower of Jesus, He continues to refine and prune us on our spiritual journey with Him. For me, He has gently and consistently shown me other more subtle fears in my life and has gently walked me through them to victory.
Most of you are probably familiar with this story in Matthew 14:23-36:
And after He had dismissed the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water. He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
As with Peter, when I take my eyes off Jesus and try to handle my circumstances of my own doing or another’s that has affected me, I drown in anxiety, depression and crippling fear. Yet, when I put my focus back on Him, even in a puddle of tears and with all that I can mutter is “Help, Jesus, help!!”, He is there reminding me to “Take heart” and “Do not be afraid”.
Well, Noreen, that is easier said than done. Yes, I know. Yet, as I have clung tighter and tighter to Jesus, He has walked me through the death of loved ones, loss of income, food insecurity and homelessness stretching me and growing my faith. He has refined and purified me, the process we call sanctification; my becoming more like Him. And done some amazing miracles along the way!
So in this time of COVID, racial and political strife and loss of loved ones, jobs or housing, how are you embracing this time? Are you pursuing Jesus/clinging to Him? Or have you given up on Him? Or are you seeking to embrace this tumultuous time allowing Jesus to refine you into more of Him - a beautiful, bright shining light of His love, goodness, mercy and grace?
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
Choose Jesus! And if you need prayer or encouragement on your journey, I would love to come along side you in encouragement and prayer.
Just a little farther down the road on the journey with the love of my life, Jesus,