Sunday, December 31, 2006

Humble and Helpless....but not Hopeless

I dedicate this post in loving compassion and encouragement to my dearly beloved friends online and elsewhere who are experiencing difficulties in their lives. In the words of our Lord, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." [John 16:33]
Some time ago our local Christian bookstore shut their doors after determining that they could not compete with the online booksellers who were able to offer bigger discounts. It was a sad occasion for us as we had been loyal customers for years. They were located practically within walking distance of our home, had been an oasis in the desert (aka The Northeast) for me as a newer Christian, and had witnessed Anna-Rose growing from a child in the womb to an adorable but haughty-looking baby they christened "The Princess" to a charming little girl who loved being the store helper whenever we dropped in.
Dwayne stopped by one day during the final week of their going-out-of-business sale and bought me a book I had been longing to own called The Valley of Vision. Next to the Bible, this book has been the source of more encouragement and inspiration to me than any other book I have read. The prayers and devotions were selected from the works of several Puritan men of great and lesser reknown, including Isaac Watts, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Thomas Watson, and Richard Baxter. The first prayer in the book reads as follows:
The Valley of Vision
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee
in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold
thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from
deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter
thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.
The start of a new year usually prompts me to devise all sorts of plans which inevitably look good on paper but, when the realities and responsibilities of day-to-day living materialize, they not only wither, fade, and fall to the ground, but get trampled underfoot!
"Many are the plans in a man's heart but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." [Proverbs 19:21]
Having been afflicted with physical pain that has become a handicap to accomplishing that to which I aspire, I am brought to my knees, and know that it is a good place to be. The Lord does not desire sacrifice, but a broken and contrite heart he does not despise. After a long struggle with my flesh, I am in that place of brokenness wherein my only plan is to seek his leading. The Lord has designed us as unique individuals and each one of us is a child of our Father's heart (I speak to his disciples here); his desire is to conform us to the likeness of Christ. As unique individuals we each require disciplines tailored to our personal needs and weaknesses, and, therefore, are going through trials meant to mold, refine, and perfect our faith. What I am enduring is not necessarily what my brother or sister is enduring; theirs may be physical, emotional, financial, spiritual, or one of many others. I can think of several fellow bloggers who are experiencing trials of one type or other. Despondency may have overtaken some of you; despair may have become the state to which you are accustomed; depression may be driving you to tears several times a day.
But my brothers and sisters, I say to you: let us be humble and helpless, but not hopeless! For we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, and not only that - we are victorious unto death!
Peter says,
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." [1 Peter 1:3-9]
Fellow pilgrims, I beg you to abide by these words as your journey takes you forward. May the coming year find you filled with a desire to walk humbly with a servant's heart, submissive to the will of the Lord, and filled with the joy and peace that only he can give. Onward and upward!


Blogger Patti said...

Well said Sister! Thank You

5:12 PM  
Blogger Peggy said...

What a wonderful post. I am going to have to check out that book!

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Emily!

What an inspiring testiment to your faith that even tho you are going thru physical trials, your spirit is growing and being strengthened by His love!

Thank-you for your kind words about my sister's poetry!

May God's love be with you and your family throughout this coming new year and always! May He give you His peace thru these troubled times!

12:17 PM  
Blogger Marci said...

Praise the Lord for the encouragement He is giving you. Thank you for sharing it with us!!! I am still praying for you Emily!!!

3:55 PM  
Blogger TNfarmgirl said...

Hi Emily,
Wonderful post - you might want to take a peek at my blog today :)

10:19 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Thank you everyone for your kind words and encouragement. I cherish your prayers. May we continue to look to our Father for direction and spur one another on!

10:29 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Hi Emily,
Such a wonderful post. It's so easy to look at circumstances, and I thank you for pointing us to our true source of strength, which is only in the Lord. Unfortunately, I am having to learn that over and over again. Maybe some day I will actually get it, and not keep trying to change things in my own strength. I need to check out that book. Blessings to you and your family.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Walter Jeffries said...

Excellent. Never give up. And if things really get too much - reboot. Take a nap...

You asked about the weather over on my article about the mists on SugarMtnFarm. We actually visited NH today. Clear skies there along the Connecticut River Valley. We went down to my folks to celebrate my son's birthday.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Thank you for the encouraging words. It helps me to know I am not alone in my struggles. I very highly recommend The Valley of Vision to you! In keeping my eyes off my situation and pain, I must have another focus and that must be Christ. To keep my eyes on Him, I must be continually renewed by His word. Like a cold drink of water in the desert! :)

Thanks for stopping by. Great advice! Naps are good especially when accompanied by an ice pack and a comfortable sofa. :) I try to get one in each afternoon if possible. Many happy returns to your son and a Happy and Blessed New Year to you and the family!

1:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your encouraging comment. Your post is inspiring! I have been reminded lately of man's superb talent of making lists plans, but not carrying through because God had other plans. If only we asked Him for His input BEFORE we made our new years resolutions.

Thank you for your wise words.

2:54 PM  

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