My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:15,16

Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
John 11:40
See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands… Isaiah 49:16a

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I Hold, I Am Held

This is a testimony/sermon that my dad wrote about me when I was little. As I was reading it today, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to post it on my blog. I don't know who I was to do this for, but if it is for you, please leave me a comment and let me know how it encouraged you.

There I was driving down the highway, crying out to God with spoken words, crying out to God, it seemed from the very basement of my soul; "Please give my little girl back to me."
In a world where confusion and turmoil are the daily course from which little if any reprieve is often found, we are moved to ask the question: "Does God Really Care?" However, because this confusion and turmoil is often continents away from us living in North America, we find this to be at best, a passing though.

Does God care?

Every religion in the world at one point has to answer the question of pain. What sets Christianity apart from Buddhism, Hinduism, Muslimism, and Secular Humanism or other religions of the world? Is there something about the Christian faith that can make a difference when other religions can't? This is the challenge we have as Christians when we face the pain or share the pain of others in the Body of Christ.
Dorothy Sayers writes: "For whatever reason God chose to make man as He is-limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death - He had the honesty and courage to take His own medicine. Whatever plan He has with His creation, He has kept His own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that He has not exacted from Himself. He has Himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When He was a man, He played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile."
Knowing this doesn't provide a pat answer or automatic relief when we find ourselves in the midst of personal turmoil, but it does provide the perspective that God the Father did not play the part of an idle observer as we go through our pain. I get excited when I think of Jesus and how He dealt with the pain He was confronted with. Jesus wept when His friend, Lazarus, died. He identities with the pain and suffering of our lives and we should never be of the opinion that He enjoys seeing His children suffer.  
I think of the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus faced His suffering and He reacted much like any of us would. At first He cried out to His Father, "If there be another way let this cup pass from Me." Yet, knowing there was no other way, Jesus experienced -- perhaps for the first time -- that most human sense of abandonment evidenced by His cry from the cross, "My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?
The writer of Hebrews states in chapter 4 verse 15, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin."

On the edge of death

My little girl had been very sick and in the hospital for some days. We lived about 35 miles away from our community hospital and our jobs didn't allow us to be there for hours on end, everyday. When we did get in to visit, she looked absolutely terrible. She had been unable to hold anything in, as fluids and foods just seemed to pass straight through without stopping. We would try and hold her, and she was so restless that she would writhe and fuss. Through the day, she settled and began to hold some small amounts of nourishment.
The time came for us to leave and she seemed settled so we left for home. When we walked in the house, the phone was ringing. It was the physician from the hospital. He told us that our daughter had taken a turn for the worse and he was sending her by ambulance to a larger center -- Regina - to be cared for by a specialist.
I so wanted to turn around and go back as fast as I could, so I would be with her in the ambulance but the doctor said, "Just get in your car and head to Regina as fast as you can." These were not comforting words to say the least. In the car we got, mom and dad whose faith was being stretched by this turmoil, and a small boy who was oblivious to the whole matter.
I was praying with my words and with words of the Holy Spirit that seemed very guttural. These words came from so deep inside that I could not recognize the depth from which they came. My wife was in the passenger seat of the car praying and my boy was in the back, sleeping. I looked at my watch and it was around 10 pm. All of a sudden, I was enveloped in some kind of warmth and I heard a voice in my spirit or mind's ear say, "Why are you asking me for your daughter in bodily form? Do you not know that the body without the spirit is dead? Ask me for her spirit and I will return her to you."
My mind went back in time to Lazarus, Jesus' friend who had been dead for some days, to the point that his sister told Jesus, "He stinks." Yet, Jesus cried out: "Lazarus, come forth" and it wasn't long until others were crying, "He's alive, he's alive."
So, in obedience to the voice of the Lord, I asked for the spirit of my daughter. It seemed an eternity had passed before we reached Regina and the hospital. When we finally arrived, I was probably as amazed as the people standing around the grave of Lazarus when Jesus said: "Loose him and let him go." My daughter looked so well that if the specialist had told me I could take her home that night, I would have. It was a total transformation from just hours before.
When we find ourselves appalled at the overwhelming things happening in our lives we cannot always determine the source. It may be the world, it may be consequences of the choices we made, it may be opposition from our spiritual enemy, or it may be the very forces of nature in some disaster. We can wrestle over the probable or possible, as we seek to answer the heart wrenching, "Why?" Yet we cannot understand God nor can we always determine the answer to the "why?" even though we desperately want to. The only hope we have in times of pain and agonizing grief is the knowledge that God does care and He will help us through.

The rest of the story

So now, in closing, I want to tell you as Paul Harvey says: "The rest of the story." Some weeks later, I was speaking with the nurse that attended my daughter in the ambulance to Regina. She advised that around 10 pm, the intravenous that was putting fluid into my daughter to re-hydrate her had come out.
Because, my daughter was so de-hydrated, she was having difficulty finding a vein to get the IV re-started and felt my daughter was going to die, if she couldn't get the IV going. She had just about given up, when suddenly, and blindly, she found a vein, evidence by what is called flashback (blood showing in the IV initiation tubing). The IV started to run and over the next 45 minutes she was surprised at how my daughter seemed to improve when earlier, even with the IV, she wasn't doing so.
Is it coincidence that at the same time the IV came out, the Lord impressed me to begin to pray for the return of the spirit of my daughter to her body? Well, you can think what you will! All I know is that night Jesus cried out in the heavens: "loose her and let her go" and I received back into my arms a daughter -- just like Mary and Martha received their brother.
I never have understood all the twists and turns of my path as I journey toward heaven, but I know the One who has been my anchor through the storms of life and He longs to be your anchor also if you will allow it. He doesn't promise our lives will be free of trouble, yet He does promise to hold us close through it all. This was one of those times for me when I felt too weak to hang on any longer and then He reached out and held me.
I hold, until I am too weak to do so and then I am held by Him. This has been my experience time and time again and I wanted you to know it is as real as real can be. Never doubt God's love and care, or that He hurts when you hurt, reach out to Him because He is reaching out to you.

Written by Merv Tippe   April 12, 2007

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