2. How can I hear God speaking?

Hello again!
If you read #1 in this series, you know that I can point to 3 SIGNIFICANT LIFE EVENTS in the past 25 YEARS that have brought me to THE POINT where I can  better recognize WHEN GOD IS SPEAKING — not just to me! I can tell (within a reasonable doubt ) when He is TRYING TO GET THE ATTENTION OF America and countries around the globe.
1. God grabbed me at one of my LOWEST POINTS — I’m talking about HEALTH, loss of CONTROL in my relationships, and concern and FEAR about my FUTURE.  MY HEAVENLY FATHER “suggested” that I notice HIS VERY SUBTLE HINTS … He wanted to be in control of my journey.
In this post I’m going to elaborate on the FIRST of those life events with the hope that YOU WILL BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND where I’m coming from …

I married when I was 18 — fresh out of high school with a Disney, fairy tale mentality. Not a good way to begin. I thought I would go to college and become an elementary school teacher. But that was not to be. (I’ll post some excerpts from my Kindle book to fill in details.)

In 1977, after my second child was born, I discovered that I was dealing with what doctors labeled as “severe clinical depression.” That in itself is a long, ongoing story, but what I’d like for you to know is that the Holy Spirit was with me throughout my suffering, my wondering, and my QUESTIONS about the faith that I had developed from infancy in the CHURCH of my childhood through young adult years, the things I thought I knew from personal Bible study and a multitude of sermons, and my personal experiences with the supernatural.

I managed to make it successfully through raising my daughter and son from infancy through elementary school, middle school, and my daughter’s high school graduation in 1992. After she left for college, my son still had three years of high school to go. He was saved by grace and the outstanding choir / drama teacher who nurtured him for three years. (I will tell you more about that in subfiles.)

Things were FUN and CHALLENGING and MOTIVATING despite my horrible bouts of depression, and I was loving every moment. Then in January 1994, I began feeling sick in ways I hard trouble describing. … After 18 months of numerous specialists and test of many kinds, I was diagnosed with FIBROMYALGIA SYNDROME, which very few people knew about — not even most specialists!

So in January 1995, the middle of Jon’s senior year, I was still trying hard to stay in the game as a lead volunteer at the high school, but I was experiencing extreme all-over “tender spots” and fatigue, plus other unmentionable symptoms. I stayed in bed late into the mornings most days. AND I FELT SORRY FOR MYSELF big time!

For Christmas 1994, Jon had given me a gift  certificate to a local Christian store. So several weeks after that, I decided to drag myself out of the house and go shopping. I was actually too weak to stay long, so my plan was to grab a couple of things that caught my attention and head back home. When I got there NOTHING STOOD OUT TO ME — not books, not decorative items, simply NOTHING. That was highly unusual.

I was discouraged and ready to leave, thinking I’d have to come back another rime. Then something totally unexpected GRABBED ME. I literally turned around in my tracks and walked over to the book shelf that seemed to be calling out to me. It held books about PROPHECY  — something I’d decided years earlier that I had ABSOLUTELY NO INTEREST IN. I was of the opinion that Revelation was a bunch of jibberish that I was not meant to waste time on. But that was all about to change.

I don’t want any of my posts to be wearisome, so I’m going to stop here and give you the opportunity to read some of the devotions in my book that will take you down the road to LIFE CHANGING EVENT #2. You’ll find them listed underneath main file heading, God is speaking … are you listening.

46. Divine Guidance

“Man without God is a beast,
 and never more beastly than when
 he is intelligent about his beastliness.”
—  Whittaker Chambers

 

It was January 1995. Fibromyalgia symptoms had begun attacking my body and mind one year earlier, nearly to the day, and I’d undergone every test that my doctors and specialists had been willing to order for me. I still did not have a satisfying diagnosis and wouldn’t get one for another six months. Once again, I felt like I was doing battle with some unidentified, relentless foe.

Lisa was back at college in Phoenix after Christmas break. Jonathan was on the treadmill toward high school graduation. For years I had convinced myself that I would be overjoyed when that moment finally arrived, but now I was realizing that I would miss the delightful madness of my volunteer work with teens. And since I didn’t know what was happening with my health, my future as an “empty nester” seemed much more bleak than I’d been willing to consider up to that point.

That winter afternoon I was at a loss for something to do. My immediate desire was to crawl back into bed and cover my head with pillows … many pillows. But I knew that wasn’t the route I should take. Then I remembered the gift certificate to the Christian store in town that Jon had given me for Christmas. I’d tucked it away and had all but forgotten about it. A shopping trip would hopefully relieve my doldrums. So I located my shoes and purse and dragged my sorry self off to the car.

When I entered the store, I felt surprisingly underwhelmed. Ordinarily, I would have immediately noticed any number of things that I wanted to buy, only to realize that I didn’t have enough money. Or I wanted to browse but didn’t have the time. Now I had both time and a generous gift certificate, but absolutely nothing clamored for my attention.

I strolled past aisles of books, stationary, gifts and artwork. Then I started over and did the walk-through thing again. Nothing – nada – seemed of any interest to me. I was just about ready to exit the store, when my eyes drifted toward a corner shelf filled with books and labeled “PROPHECY.”

My first impulse was to turn away. I was not in any way interested in the opinions of men who were convinced they knew the mind of God concerning the future. I actually felt a mild swell of bitterness toward the authors. But then I felt a gentle urging…. Go check it out. I want you to….

As I walked closer, my eyes were drawn to two books in particular. One was Planet Earth: 2000 A.D. by Hal Lindsey. The other was A Woman Rides the Beast by Dave Hunt. I remembered that, when I was a kid, I’d seen a book lying around my grandma’s house called, The Late Great Planet Earth, also by Hal Lindsay. But I had no idea who Dave Hunt was, and at that moment I could not have cared less.

A small spark of curiosity encouraged me to step up to the plate, pull the books down and flip through them…. Interesting. So, since I had not found anything else that I’d even remotely wanted to purchase, I decided that these would do. And as a result, I was introduced to the pre-tribulation rapture theory and a select history of the Catholic Church.

When spring rolled around, I accepted an invitation to go shopping at an outlet mall about a 45-minute drive from my home. I was still struggling with pain and unanticipated onsets of fatigue, so I wasn’t actually convinced that I should tag along. Once again I had nothing in mind that I was shopping for.

We came upon a bookstore, and as I was strolling and browsing, the same thing happened that I’d experienced at the Christian store in town. Two more random books commanded my attention! The first was The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church by Marvin Rosenthal. The second was written by Robert Van Kampen and titled, The Sign. The subject matter of both newly found books seemed very different from what I’d been reading in Hal Lindsey’s book. I felt burdened to buy them – and after all, they were deeply discounted.

Those four books and my Bible became my companions as the debilitating “fibro” symptoms pulled me away from the company of family and friends. I was hard-pressed to stay awake during the day, but when night rolled around I was wide-eyed. So I would sit in my favorite recliner and read and read and read. I’ve never been a fast reader, but that didn’t matter. Nights can seem unbearably long when there is no relief from physical pain. Fastidious reading helped to occupy my troubled mind.

As time dragged on toward the beginning of a new century, it became apparent that I’d been led to those books for a purpose. I just had to figure out what God wanted me to do with the information.

 

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.'”

(Isaiah 55:8)

 

A RUST REMOVER …

Think about it: “The supernatural is the native air of Christianity.” — Dora Greenwell

 

29. Go Home

“The Bible does not say very much about homes;
 it says a great deal about the things that make them.
 It speaks about life and love and joy and peace and rest.
 If we get a house and put these things into it,
 We shall have secured a home.”
— John Henry Jowett

 

It was January 1996, and my nest was empty. Lisa was away at college in Arizona. And with the exception of a brief trip home for Christmas, Jonathan had been living in New York City for a little over three months. I was struggling to deal with the new realities in my life, including the continuous pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia syndrome.

Lisa loved the mild weather of Phoenix winters. But Jon had been dealt three rare blizzards in NYC following the Indian Summer that had welcomed us there in the fall. I kept watch on the weather channel and prayed for protection, wondering how he could possibly be surviving in the extreme cold and the abrupt change of culture that he’d been thrust into.

The phone rang. When I answered it, I heard a familiar voice say, “Mom … I think I need to come home.” Jon sounded frail and struggling to keep his voice steady. He explained that his roommate had been dealing drugs, and he admitted that he had tried a few. We talked about the ramifications of a decision to leave AMDA. He would have to begin work in the family business and agree to obey our house rules. Then he repeated: “I think I need to come home.”

I remembered the character that Jon had portrayed in “The Fantasticks” – how “real life” had treated him so unyieldingly. We would welcome home our weary traveler, and I looked forward to hearing all the stories he would have to tell.

But Jon didn’t talk much. He moved back into his bedroom, began work at the store and earned his driver’s license. Chuck helped him find a suitable car. He was eighteen and he had lived alone in one of the biggest cities in America. It made sense that Chuck and I should back off and let him make his own decisions … live his own life.

Then Chuck found drug paraphernalia under the driver’s seat of the Jeep that he drove daily, and we knew a conference was necessary. So the two of us faced off with Jon. Chuck revealed his evidence and I said, “Think about what could have happened if Dad had been pulled over for some reason and a cop had found those things in his car.”

Jon was calm and matter-of-fact. He explained that he thought there was nothing wrong with using drugs. And he intended to continue. He was smooth on the surface. But I saw in his eyes the same defiant spirit that had manifested during the disturbing conference with his high school teacher nine months earlier.

Chuck and I glanced at each other, and I said to our son, “Well, I guess that means you’ll need to find another place to live.”

Life went on and it eventually became apparent that nothing short of a miracle was going to rescue Jonathan from the pernicious lifestyle he had chosen. I prayed continually, asking the Spirit to do whatever was necessary to restore Jon’s love for the Lord. “But please,” I pleaded, “spare his life.”

Jon moved into an apartment on the beach with a couple of friends. They invited Chuck and I for a barbeque that they had prepared and cooked themselves. The meal was delicious, and we enjoyed the afternoon. Though we suspected that drugs were still in the mix, things seemed to be going better than we expected.

Time went by. I didn’t see our son much, but I knew that he was checking in daily with his dad at work, so I managed not to feel anxious about him. Lisa and Tim had become engaged, and she had moved back home while she was working and planning their December wedding. So on November 7, 1997, when I was awakened around 10:30 pm by a voice outside our bedroom door, my foggy brain told me that it must be Tim.

I recall saying, “What do you need, Tim?” And the voice answered, “It’s me … Jon.”

What followed, I can only describe as “of the Lord.” Jonathan was terribly shaken. He told me an astounding story of tainted drugs and fear and barely escaping death, of driving his car and passing a patrol vehicle and thinking, “This is it. I’m going to jail.” Then he heard the words, Go home. He thought he might be hallucinating, but the words kept repeating, Go home; go home.

Jon looked at me through repentant eyes and said, “God told me to go home.”

Our prodigal son had returned.

“This is my beloved Son,
in whom I am well pleased.”

  — The Lord God (Matthew 3:17)

 

 

A RUST REMOVER …

Read Jesus’ parable of the lost son in Luke 15:11-32. Take note of how you should treat a family member who “comes to his (or her) senses”. … Just in case you ever find yourself in that position.

 

27. Give Me A Break!

“The salvation of a single soul
 is more important than
 all the epics and tragedies
 in the world.”
— C.S. Lewis

 

June, 1995 … I sat in the bleachers at the high school’s graduation ceremony, watching my talented son receive his diploma, and thinking, We made it! I was surrounded by family and friends, who were aware of how treacherous the journey had been for both Jon and me. I knew that Jon had been carried through to this moment on the prayers that many had so faithfully offered up on his behalf.

But there was a part of me that questioned God. Like Job, I was in doubt about the future, and I was asking for answers. Shortly before graduation day, Jon had received confirmation that he’d been accepted into AMDA, the American Music and Drama Acadamy, headquartered in downtown New York City, for their fall semester.

God, I trusted you not to let that happen. How can he possibly manage to go to school and live in New York? By himself … with no safety net to catch him when he falls? And I had little doubt that he would.

Chuck and I had been through the audition process in L.A. with Jon for several years, so it came as no surprise when he approached us to take him to just one more tryout before his senior year ended. He explained that it was a long shot – there was “no way” he could possibly get in because auditions were taking place in cities all over the country. Hundreds of hopeful young people would be giving it their best and only a select few would be chosen. He just wanted to enjoy the experience one last time.

Since we had not allowed him to get a driver’s license (due to a trustworthiness issue), Jon had to rely on us to get him to the event, which would take place in Hollywood. So his dad and I agreed.

Jesus, we talked about this. I said I would let him audition IF you would hold him back. You know about my struggle with fibromyalgia and Chuck’s eyes are giving him trouble again. And how will we financially manage a trip to Manhattan?

The ceremony ended. Everyone in the bleachers made their way down to the football field to find and congratulate their graduate. It was a sea of humanity. I searched the crowd, and then, there he was – my baby. A divine sense of peace washed over me just then. It was without question, the answer I’d cried out for.

I heard the Spirit whisper, He’ll be okay. I have a plan.

Fast forward to October, on the rooftop of the Beacon Hotel on Broadway, where I found myself standing with my husband and our most honored son, overlooking the sparkling, jeweled skyline of New York City. The weather was unseasonably fair – just one more amazing blessing that the God of Heaven had bestowed upon the three of us.

The deed was done. Chuck had secured a loan for Jon’s fall semester at AMDA with the understanding that he was on probation until he could prove to us that he was responsible enough to handle life in a shared dorm apartment.

I stood there in silent awe. Then I spoke the obvious: “Oh Jon, I would never have had this experience without you.” I felt my six-foot son move next to me. He wrapped his arm around my shoulders, and I heard him say with a man’s voice,  “I’ll be okay, Mom.”

Chuck and I made sure that Jon had everything he needed. Then we drove our rented car up the coast of New England for a few days of sightseeing. We had decided to give him time to settle in, fully expecting that he would change his mind, and we would take him home with us in the end.

But when we returned, Jon was reveling in his freedom. He had spent $300 from his newly opened bank account on a pair of rollerblades. He figured he would need “transportation” since his classes would be taking place in various buildings spaced blocks apart. We were introduced to his roommate, a seemingly pleasant young man from a very wealthy family. The two of them appeared to be getting along well, and Jon was learning his way around and through the unfathomable bustle that defines New York, New York.

The three of us said goodbye on a street corner, under a street lamp. The peace that I had experienced at graduation washed over me again, so I was able to walk away knowing that God had a plan and would watch over our son.

Chuck managed to walk away too. But he wept against his pillow, late into the night.

 

“Call to me and I will answer you,
and show you great and mighty things
that you do not know.”
Take up the helmet of salvation …”

(Jeremiah 33:3)

 

A RUST REMOVER …

One of the hardest things a parent can ever experience is turning away from a child. Just imagine how difficult that must have been for our heavenly Father when His only Son hung nailed to a cross as payment for our sins. Meditate on Luke 22:41-44 and pray the prayer that Jesus prayed: “Father, if it is your will, take this cup away from me; nevertheless not my will, but yours be done.” Amen.

 

 

26. Something Wicked This Way Comes

“Demon possession is present in Scripture
 as a dreadful reality.
 The supposition that the demoniacs of the Gospels
 were only mentally  ill
is fallacious.”

— Harold Lindsell

 

Elementary school was a conundrum for Jonathan. Each of his teachers from first through fifth grades admitted to me that his mind was a mystery. His grades were consistently low, but his intelligence quotient was extremely high – so much so that he was placed in the Gifted and Talented Education (G.A.T.E.) program upon entering middle school.

In sixth grade, his English teacher recognized that Jon was an auditory and sensory learner, so she encouraged him to give his book reports orally rather than in writing. With that, Jon demonstrated a talent for acting! And his middle school teachers from that point on made use of that fact to help him experience success whenever possible.

When eighth grade rolled around, the school district imposed a year-round schedule to avoid classroom overcrowding. A majority of the children were able to adapt fairly easily to three months in school, then one month off. But for Jon, it just didn’t make sense. He didn’t get the fact that school wasn’t finished each time vacation came around, and at the end of the fourth quarter, he had failed to keep papers that were necessary for a final passing grade to move on to high school. Fortunately, because I had been vigilant in connecting with his English teacher – and because she had also taught his sister three years earlier – we were able to work out a compromise so that Jon could move on to high school.

During the “off-track” time periods, I signed Jon up for a Parks and Recreation sponsored Drama Camp. The counselors perceived that there was something extra special about this young man. They nurtured his acting ability and encouraged him to try out for the summer youth production, “Hans Christian Anderson,” at the community amphitheater. The next thing Chuck and I knew we were watching our son on a huge public stage, portraying the character Peter. And, just like his sister, he could sing!

Three years before Jon began high school, I began to prepare by volunteering in every way possible, as Lisa worked her way from freshman to sophomore to junior. It was no less than miraculous the number of opportunities that opened up for me to work with counselors and various teachers. So after Jon began high school and was cast in the spring musical his freshman year, I knew what to do when he started complaining about the drama teacher – I prayed that God would open a door for me to walk through.

I quickly made parent/teacher contact and asked, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” She couldn’t think of anything, so I asked if I could write bio’s for each cast member and create bulletin boards to display them. She immediately accepted, and her friction with my son was easily resolved. That provided admission for Mom during rehearsals, and an “in” with Jon’s peers as well.

The play was “The Fantasticks” – about a naïve young man from a small town who longed to explore the seductive unknowns in life. But when the boy was suddenly given the opportunity to step out of his comfort zone, the adventure resulted in catastrophe. Jon was cast in that prophetic role.

Performing arts became Jonathan’s savior through high school. He was awarded lead roles in plays and musicals, and he earned a coveted spot in the Show Choir. He experienced ups and downs, but he had to earn at least a C average to participate in the activities he loved, so that motivated him to try harder – and it allowed me to give him more personal space.

Then, in Jon’s junior year, something happened that Chuck and I did not see coming, and we were totally blind-sided. I found out that Jon and some of his friends had been experimenting with marijuana and “huffing” gas vapors. The next thing I knew, his history teacher called me to complain about a behavioral problem in class. So Jon and I met with her, in her classroom after school.

He and I sat side-by-side, across from the teacher, and she explained that Jon had behaved disrespectfully toward her in class. She wanted an apology. Such rudeness was so uncharacteristic of our son that I was speechless. I gently touched his arm with my hand, and he immediately he drew back, sneering, “Don’t touch me.” Then he got up and bolted out the door.

I offered my apology to the teacher. Then I walked down the hallway to a secluded area, leaned against the building and sobbed. What I had seen in my son’s eyes was pure evil, and I had no idea how to deal with it.

Lisa was attending college in another state. She was the only one I could think of who might remotely believe what had just happened. To my amazement, the college choir that she sang with was scheduled to perform in a nearby city that weekend, so we arranged for her to come home overnight.

That evening, she asked Jon if they could spend some time together, since she hadn’t seen him for a while. I was lying sleepless in bed when I heard Lisa’s knock at the door. She came in and sat next to me. With eyes wide, she calmly said, “I don’t know who that is, but it’s not my brother.”

It would be another three years before we got our Jonathan back.

 

“Your enemy the devil prowls around
like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, standing firm in the faith …”

(1 Peter 5:8-9, NIV)

A RUST REMOVER …

 Many Christians believe that demons cannot dwell within a follower of Jesus. I learned that this is simply not the case. If you suspect that someone you love is behaving under the influence of demonic spirits, I suggest that you consider reading, Larson’s Book of Spiritual Warfare by Bob Larson. And remember to pray, don’t panic!

 

 

13. Discerning Truth

“I felt like a child
 playing with pebbles on the shore
 when an ocean of truth
lay all about me.”
— Sir Isaac Newton

 

When Lisa was five and Jonathan was two, I taught swimming lessons for the YMCA’s Backyard Swim Program. By the end of the summer months, I’d seen so many young faces that few remain in my memory. But one little face I will never forget.

Tommy came to swim class with five other preschoolers from his daycare program. The color of his inquisitive eyes matched the clear aqua blue of the pool water. His soft brown hair was parted in the middle and evenly trimmed just above his small shoulders. And though he never panicked or cried, I could tell that he was terrified of the water.

After several sessions, I managed to convince Tommy that he could trust me to keep his head above the surface of the water until he let me know he was ready to go underneath it. Early in the second week, he was confidently blowing bubbles and allowing me to take him under the water briefly while he held his breath. But while I worked individually with the other children, he would attach himself to the edge of the pool like a starfish suctioned onto aquarium glass. I felt absolutely certain that he would not let go.

On the last day of lessons, I helped each child review the skills we had practiced. During one brief moment of that process, I turned my back on Tommy. When I pivoted back around I saw staring up at me, from about a foot under the water, a pair of frightened blue eyes framed by a mop of floating hair!

I quickly attached the child in my arms to the edge of the pool and grabbed Tommy. Lifting him up from the depths, I wrapped the little boy in a remorseful hug, expecting him to start screaming as soon as he’d caught his breath. But to my surprise, he calmly brushed back his drenched hair, looked at me and said, “You almost wost me there!”

I can recall many times in my journey when I felt “wost” – I mean, lost. Or perhaps “insecure” would be a more accurate term. Especially when trying to comprehend the spiritual realm. Whenever I contemplated my position in God’s kingdom “what ifs” would nag at my conscience: What if the Bible translation that I’m reading is inaccurate? What if I’ve become trapped in tradition, and I’m teaching erroneous doctrine? How can I be sure that my lamp is filled with the right brand of oil?

Though my experience with depression had been diagnosed as “clinical” – a byproduct of chemical imbalance – I knew deep inside that unanswered “what ifs” were pulling me under, like lead weights drawing me down, down, down into a deep pool, filled with doubt,  guilt, and fear.

When fibromyalgia claimed control of my body in January 1994, I couldn’t understand why God was allowing such a debilitating illness to take me away from my family, my work, my ministries, and all the things that I’d been pouring my heart, mind and energies into for over a decade. I managed to muddle through my chosen activities until Jon’s high school graduation in June 1995.

But when I was finally diagnosed in July of that year, I felt so hopeless that I rarely left the house. I needed help with driving, grocery shopping, house cleaning and a list of other functions that I’d been able to easily handle just 18 months earlier. And the “what ifs” began pummeling me like 10-foot ocean waves: What if God is punishing me for something I’ve done wrong? What if I keep getting worse? How will I fill the empty hours of this pitiful, painful life?

Looking back from the vantage point I have now, I can see that my heavenly Father had a plan. He wanted to address my questions and answer my prayers. He intended to teach me how to discern truth and recognize false teaching. It would take time. And He would not take me under until I was fully prepared to accept incredible facts that He was ready to show me.

“Stand firm then,
with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.”

(Ephesians 6:14)

 

A RUST REMOVER …

Do you believe that God has a plan for you? How secure do you feel when you think about that possibility … that certainty? Learning to swim takes time, effort and a willingness to build confidence. It can be fun, but it can also be challenging and dangerous. Living within the scope of God’s plan can seem challenging, and even dangerous. But He is always there to lift and sustain us when we’re feeling lost and helpless.

1. Rusty Armor

“Tis not enough to help the feeble up,
 but to support him after.”

    — William Shakespeare

 

I grew up in a culture of “us vs. them” — cowboys vs. Indians, Popeye vs. Bluto, Bugs Bunny vs. Elmer Fudd, the Coyote vs. the Roadrunner (“Beep, beep!”). I was born near the end of the Baby Boom that exploded after “our guys” returned from fighting “their guys” following World War II. Back then, the “good guys” always won, and the “bad guys” always lost. (All that changed during the Viet Nam War era, when it seemed like everything from politics to pantyhose was thrown into a blender and served up as the new “normal.”

When I was in kindergarten, little boys played with cars and trucks, built structures with blocks and stayed together in their corner of the classroom, separated from the kitchenette toys and baby dolls that were only for the little girls.

A girl anticipated grow up, getting married and becoming an impeccable homemaker. She would be adept at gossiping with girlfriends at neighborhood coffee cloches and at raising three or more children. Or if she had an unfortunate face or figure and was unlucky at love, she could choose to be a librarian or a secretary or a teacher. She could even choose to be a nurse or a missionary, if she felt gifted in one of those areas.

I was one of many little girls who adored “us vs. them” animated Disney movies — especially the ones featuring castles, princesses, and knights with flashing swords, dressed in gleaming armor. So in retrospect, it’s not surprising that I spent my childhood expecting to grow up and fall madly in love with Prince Charming. Then he and I would ride away on his grand, white stallion to begin life in “happily ever after.”

Now, from my perch overlooking the past — and with many years of acquired counseling skills under my belt — it’s easy to understand why I loved the regalia of the 1973 movie “Camelot,”  and why I related to one character in particular. Not the lovely Lady Guinevere, but the pitiful King Pelinore. “Peli” (as he was affectionately called) was a disoriented old gentleman who was discovered tangled in brambles while being held captive inside a suit of rusted armor. And he simply could not comprehend his plight!

That’s how I began to feel when the early, dragon-like symptoms of clinical depression began rocking my self-esteem at the tender age of seventeen. So it’s not a wonder that I was swept off my feet when a charmingly devoted “older man” — by three and a half years — came along during my senior year in high school, overlooked my insecurities and said, “After you graduate, I’m going to marry you.” I reasoned that my prince had arrived.

Rationalizing that Chuck embodied God’s compassionate answer to my naïve prayers, I reached out to him for rescue from my adolescent longings. Without a doubt, I was certain that he was “the key” to my future happiness.

At eighteen, I wasn’t able to envision how difficult it would be to keep the idealistic promises made on the eve of my fairytale wedding. And soon after that — when an avalanche of reality cascaded over me — I wasn’t capable of comprehending the quality of love and the depth of forgiveness that it would take to lift me out of an unexpected pit of despair.

But the God of heaven knew His plans for my life, and they were much bolder than I could ever have imagined.

 

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord,
‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

    plans to give you hope and a future.'”

(Jeremiah 29:11)

 

A RUST REMOVER …

Remember a time when you felt caught in the brambles of life. Realize that specific situations, which may have seemed dragon-like at the time, could still be causing you emotional pain. Read 1 Corinthians 13:11-12, and spend some uninterrupted moments with the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to release any destructive thoughts that could be grounded in childish reasoning and to provide healing, so that your future may look brighter and steeped in hope. In Jesus’ Name!