Planted By God to Display His Glory -Isaiah 61:3

Archive for March, 2011

Is This Real Life?

One little boy asks his dad, “Is this real life?”

Millions laugh.

Another little boy tells his dad, “Heaven is for real.”

Millions listen. 

 

 

Millions of people ask “Is this real life?” every day. And millions listen for an answer.

What will they hear from us? From the story of our lives? And will it be real?

What will they hear from me?

A three-year old is not afraid to tell his story. I am. But today, I need to do it anyway. Because I came as close to heaven as I ever have a few weeks ago. And there are things about my life to share. So refill your coffee because it’s a long breakfast today, and I pray you get a little taste of heaven along the way…

…Nobody told me Jesus was real when I was a kid. I knew him as the guy in the Bible who was born in a manger, walked on water, died on a cross, and came to life again. He was a cool story character, with superhero characteristics, that people liked to talk about on Christmas and Easter.

I never once remember a person talking to me about knowing Jesus. Or that I could talk to Him and He would answer. That He could be my best friend. That He was my savior. That the empty hole in my heart could only be filled by knowing and loving Him.

Jesus was served to me like one of those fake plastic dessert displays some restaurants mistakenly think will inspire you to want to eat them…dust and all. I couldn’t stick a fork in what was presented to me. It wasn’t real. So I wasn’t buying.

But that didn’t stop Jesus from pursuing a relationship with me, and showing me how real He really was. Like the time I was eleven, sleeping in a big one room cabin with my family at a country resort. In the middle of the night a huge bright light came in through the window across the room from my bed and woke me up. I watched it move over me and then over each of my sleeping family members. It was so beautiful and I was suddenly filled with incredible joy and love. It was as if I had taken a huge drink of heaven…like nothing on earth I had ever experienced.

My parents were baffled and unable to console me when we got home as I cried for three hours straight, telling them I did not want “it” to end. I couldn’t explain what “it” was at the time. All they could figure was that I had such a good time on the trip that I didn’t want the trip to end. That wasn’t it. I had experienced IT and I never wanted to lose it.

I was thirty-two when IT showed up again as I cried in the shower. I had just prayed “Jesus if you are real, I need to know, because I’m not going to make it.” By this time I had heard people talk about a real Jesus. One who would love me, guide me, forgive me, save me, and give me the hope I so desperately needed to go on. The tiny shower stall filled with the same beautiful glowing light and I knew, finally, that Jesus was real. And not only was He alive in the world, He was alive in me.

IT has shown up twice since then. Ten years ago, just before my mother-in-law took her last breath, I saw the same light move behind me as I lay on a recliner next to her bed in hospice. Immediately her breathing changed and I sprang up, grabbed her hand, and witnessed the miracle of passing from this life to eternal life as she left me for the arms of Jesus.

The last time IT showed up was quite recent. And it’s taken me weeks to be able to talk about it. Even as I write these words I have not yet spoken them to anyone. These memories are so precious, so personal, so mine.

I was alone in my hospital bed a month ago. It was the middle of the night, and it was dark, but I was not afraid. In fact, I had not been afraid for many hours. Not since 3:30 pm when the nurse left me in the Emergency Room waiting area alone. I suddenly realized that they didn’t believe me when I told them I had a punctured lung. I could feel my body wanting to panic, wanting to shut down. From my medical background I knew I was headed into shock. And that shock could kill me.

I wasn’t ready to die. Nobody in the ER was ready to help me live. It was up to me and Jesus.

At first all I could do was say His name. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Over and over. Then I could say the Lord’s prayer. Over and over. Then my body changed direction. It calmed. Someone else had taken control and I knew I would live, no matter how long it took anyone to believe me.

That calm never left me, even when they put a tube in my chest without pain killing drugs. And even in the middle of the night, as I lay there, with every painful breath, and all I could say was His name, and all I could pray was the Lord’s prayer. Over and over and over.

I closed my eyes and the light came in the door. My eyes flew open and I saw IT again. More familiar to me now, I rejoiced in His presence. But it was a quick visit, a fleeting one that left me wishing it had not passed so soon. But I had tasted a piece of heaven again. And it changed my life forever…again.

I want to live more now than I ever have. I want to love more than I ever have. I want to laugh more than I ever have. I want to talk about Jesus more than I ever have. He is my savior, and He’s saved me more than once!

That’s my story. Is it real life? You bet. If you asked me how I know Jesus is real this is the story I need to tell you. Just like that three-year old boy experienced heaven was real, I’ve experienced Jesus is real. And He’s not just with me when the light shows up. He’s with me 24/7, and I could no more deny that He exists than I could deny my own existence.

Jesus is real. He’s not some plastic superhero Bible character.

I have my story, you have yours. Live it, breathe it, and share it, because millions are still blind:

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 NIV

I pray sharing my real life story will help the light shine out of the darkness so others may see. This is real life, my life. If you want to share what I have it’s okay to ask, “Jesus are you real?”

Then stick your fork in this, the very first scripture He led me to after I asked that same question:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 NIV

Trust me, when that door opens, IT will flood into your heart.

Thanks for sharing a piece of real life with me today.

          – Linda

Faith Lessons My Daughter Taught Me

Join me  today over at the (in)courage site!

I’m so blessed to be sharing the story Jesus With Skin On from my collection of stories called Faith Lessons My Daughter Taught Me.

Just click the (in) courage button and enjoy!

Click the HUGS button to visit my dear friend (and gifted illustrator) Becky’s website!

Have a blessed day full of HUGS and the love of Jesus!

     -Linda

On the Job Healing

Join me today at Internet Cafe Devotions!

I’ve got things wrong with me.

Wounds of past rejections, bruises of past failures, hurts of past losses, and aches of unforgiveness…

Cinnamon Toast

I could have died last week.

How’s that for an opening sentence?

Yes, I’m being a bit over-dramatic, but the truth is I probably came as close as I ever have to realizing the possibility. But I didn’t get it at first.

It took too much time to get through my thick head that I needed to be in the Emergency Room, not driving around town looking for a doctor to tell me I did NOT have a partially collapsed lung, when indeed I did.

It also took too much time for the folks in the ER to believe me when I got there. Three hours to be exact. But when they finally saw the pictures, frantic people suddenly descended on me in a flock, and before I knew it I had a tube in my chest that was supposed to save my life.

I’m sure it did, but it didn’t work perfectly. It sprang a leak the next day that actually made me worse before it made me better. So yes, I was being a bit over-dramatic with my first sentence, but there certainly was drama in my life for a few days last week.

What’s toast got to do with all that? A few weeks ago I wrote a post called Bad Days Happen with the picture below.

I would classify last week as close to a burnt toast kind of day. Here’s a scripture I shared in that post:

God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

I can testify that He does help when the time comes.

Even more than a tube in your chest helps, God helps.

Not only does He help, His grace works amazing transformations and healings on the inside:

Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. 2 Corinthians 4:16 The Message

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 NIV

My translation of these scriptures (after last week’s drama):

Bad days happen. Stupid burnt-toast-bad days.

BUT

God takes the burnt toast days and transforms (renews) them by His grace into something yummy for my soul…

CINNAMON TOAST.

My favorite I-don’t-feel-good comfort food.

With lots of butter, sugar, and spice, cinnamon toast is like love on a plate when you’re served breakfast in bed the day your nose won’t stop running, or your tummy feels a bit yucky. That’s what my Mommy did.

And that’s what my heavenly Daddy does for me too. He gives me love on a plate of His grace in the midst of the smell of burnt toast. He feeds me with hope, faith, joy, and the strength to endure.

I had a few burnt-toast days last week, but feasting on God’s cinnamon toast I believe I’ll forever be sweeter.

Thank you God for your cinnamon toast love.

 

Thanks for having breakfast with me.

It was yummy. And restores my soul.

God Spaces

I love chocolate.

I don’t have a sweet tooth, I have sweet teeth!

Enamel weak sweet teeth, which have resulted in more unpleasant visits to the dentist than I care to remember.

Especially those that involved the brain vibrating jack hammer drill I’m convinced has turned some of my white matter to Jell-O…

<<Shiver>>

Those memories were all too fresh in my mind last week as I lay captive once again, supine in the cold brown vinyl chair, bib in place, bright light blinding me, with two young perfect teeth-ed dental assistants smiling down at me.

Hands clasped to help me hold myself together, I was trying to find my “happy place” until I could make my escape back to reality, when someone hit the <PAUSE> button…

So I’m laying there, cotton mouthed, left face numb, with a nub of my tooth exposed waiting for the dentist to give it a makeover with a new crown. A 20 minute appointment starts to stretch into 30, then 40 minutes. The dental assistant and assistant-in-training nervously try to make small talk.

They’re probably afraid I will get mad.

It’s hard enough to wait for food when you’re hungry. Waiting for a tooth while drool runs out the side of your mouth and you can’t even swallow your own spit is even harder.

Here’s how the conversation went while life was on <PAUSE>:

Assistant 1: How long have you been married?

Twenty-two years. And I love my husband more now than I ever have.

Assistant 2: Can I ask you a personal question? When you met your husband did you “just know” he was the one?

<cotton-mouth laugh> Yes, actually I knew when I heard his voice. My stomach did a flip and then I thought “if he’s blond I’m in trouble.” And he was!

Assistants 1 and 2: Wow, really?

Yup, we both knew instantly and we were engaged in two weeks and married in five months.

My eyes were still blinded by the light, but I could tell their jaws were on the ground. We started talking and I found out they were both single and had become hopeless about ever finding love. Time suddenly didn’t matter anymore…

Then someone hit <PLAY>

Enter the dentist, who jumped in with his own love story of knowing he was going to marry his wife the first time he met her.

No longer professionals, they shared their hearts like we were sitting around a dinner table, laughing and encouraging one another. I forgot about the bright light and my drooling, unclasped my hands, and suddenly realized what was happening…

A God space.

A pause in my everyday life created by God as an opportunity to share about God. I knew the time for sharing was starting to run out as my crown was now in place. So I interrupted the suctioning and said:

There’s one more thing I should share. My husband is a strong Christian man. I cannot imagine making it in marriage or in life without our shared faith.

That’s really good, assistant one said.

You’re right, I need to get more involved with my church, assistant two said.

Then it was time to go. The two assistants were a giggly-gooey mess by now and thanked me profusely for the “girl time” we had shared. I promised to bring them chocolate the next time to make the experience complete!

Thank you for giving me hope, one said.

Thank you for helping me believe in love again, said the other.

That was so cool! I heard them exclaim as I was checking out.

God spaces are cool.

Doug Pollack, author of the book God Space says a God Space is where:

  • God is felt and encountered in tangible ways that address the longings and cries of the heart.
  • The natural gives way to the supernatural.
  • The invisible principles of God’s kingdom are made visible in ways people can see, touch, and feel.
  • Spiritual curiosity is aroused, and the message of Christianity becomes plausible.

When God hits the <PAUSE> button in our lives we should recognize how cool the opportunity really is. And pray that we are ready for it:

Pray that I’ll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, telling the mystery to one and all… Ephesians 6: 19 (The Message)

Let’s do that right now:

Lord, we pray that we would be sensitive to your Spirit and recognize the times you desire to put our lives on pause to create a God space. Help us to know the words to say and give us the courage to say them at just the right time so the message of Christ becomes tangible in the listener’s heart. Even when our mouths are full of cotton and we feel less than prepared, may we be willing to speak up and share of your transforming love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thanks for sharing a God space with me today.

     -Linda 

By the way, when I got home from the dentist I went and kissed my husband, told him I loved him, and thanked him for being a Godly man. It’s because of him that I came to know Him. I’m so grateful for the God spaces of my past that have changed my future forever.

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