Unanswered Prayers at Christmas Time?

Years later when another Christmas was fast approaching, my children and I were coming home from a medical appointment in the city. It was somewhere around 5:00 p.m. and the sky was already dark as I drove in a southerly direction  back into town. My children could hear me praying out loud as I drove. A very dear neighbour was terminally ill with cancer, and I was begging God for a miracle of healing. The next day I planned to stop in to see her at the hospital, if she wanted visitors.

She had been battling stoically, but privately, and even that summer when I happened to bump into her on the sidewalk with her rainbow toe socks, and Birkenstock sandals, she didn’t want to talk about it.

I dropped the girls off at the house. Our son was away. I then turned around and went back to the office to finish up where I left off. When I got to the shop my husband’s face said it all. She was gone.

With my head buried in my hands, I quietly sobbed behind my desk. With only an hour left until closing, my husband insisted I go home. For some reason I picked up the phone, and called our eldest daughter to give her the devastating news, and to announce I was coming home early. God then prompted my daughter to be an instrument of hope in the moments that followed.

We lived only a few blocks west of the store, but the blocks stretched into miles. I pushed my foot down on the gas pedal, but the van belligerently crawled along. Streetlights lined the road, but not one of them seemed capable of beating back the darkness. The bleak winter night grew blacker than ever before and threatened to swallow me whole. My lungs lamented beneath my ribs. Why had God not answered my prayers?

“Why did you allow her to die?” my spirit screamed into the darkness.

“Her children needed her, her husband needed her, and I needed her!”

My emotions were all over the map. I felt betrayed, and deeply wounded. For one very dark moment I believed God had abandon us all. I cranked the wheel to maneuver up our driveway. There on the peak of an enormous white snowdrift, which had conquered our front step, was one small candle propped in a mason jar, shining defiantly.

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God could have healed my friend, he could have made the moon stand still, but instead he chose to reveal himself to me through a tiny yellow flame, and the love of my children. The vast expanse of snow was indeed a vicious cruel reflection of the unfair world we live in, but the candle’s flame profoundly commanded the view, and spoke volumes.

“I hear you, and you are not alone” I heard Christ speak as I stared at the incredible view.

Christ’s presence lit up the sky and surrounded me. I went into the house and embraced my children. Together we walked to the window and silently watched the flame of the candle burn brightly.

Cindy Palin

My Paradise and Heaven

These past few days have carried heavy news to my heart, and the hearts of those I love. When I feel helpless to find comfort or bring comfort to others, I know where to hide. I cozy up on my Heavenly Father’s lap and close my eyes and let the tears fall. Psalm 56:8 tells us that God catches our tears in a bottle. He sees them. He feels our sorrow. He hears our prayers. And there in my hiding place I beckon you to climb up on his lap. There is room for you too.

My Paradise and Heaven

Dedicated to Amanda and her family, and to mine, and to ours together, as one day we will enjoy such sweet reunion.

Is He a mere three letter word, this God I put my trust in?

Is this presence that calms my fears, a ghost of my imagination?

Have the prayers I’ve prayed each day and night sailed into some abyss?

Have the tears I’ve cried, and all my sleepless nights gone unnoticed?

Is my reflection of pure peacefulness, a mask or a mirage?

Who then has quenched my thirst and grown my courage?

Who washed away my hopeless state, and turned my eyes upward?

There is a God my heart knows well, I take Him at His word.

Upon the wind, under the sun, the earth expounds His praise.

Shall I not too be wise to share His wonder all my days?

Is He a mere three letter word, this God I put my hope in?

He is my breath, my life and death, my paradise and heaven.

by Cindy Palin © August 24th, 2017

When No One Understands the Pain

My workweek was experientially rich. I could say “rough”, but I am going to choose the word “rich”. In my line of work debriefing is mandatory. In most cases a debrief means communication between two people in order to process confidential and often challenging  information. This communication practice, in my work setting, is to help me process what I’ve heard, and to help me leave the information in God’s capable hands.

This week I didn’t get the chance to debrief so I wrote instead. As I wrote down each experience a new realization came to the forefront of my mind. Sometimes, even when we are able to debrief with someone we are often still left with an unexplainable unsettledness deep inside. Why?

Even when the hearer is listening, a part of the speaker’s heart is never heard. I am not saying those whom I have talked to in the past have not heard me. I am not saying those who have talked to me have not been heard. I am realizing that as mere human beings, we are incapable of doing what only God can do. We cannot hear the heart. We hear sound bites only.

As I watch my adult children growing and learning and developing in their unique vocations I see a similar frustration across the board. We are family. We have genetic commonalities, personality similarities. Our faith heritage contributes to the way we experience this world as well. But despite our kinship, as we come together to share our deepest concerns, there can still be unseen tension. This tension or inner frustration isn’t because we don’t love each other. It exists because we cannot hear one another’s hearts like only God can.

No matter how much we love each other, there is a limit to our hearing and our understanding. I often think of this song lyric “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, nobody knows but Jesus….”

If I could give my husband anything, if I could give my children anything, if I could give my friends anything – it would be these words:

When no one understands debrief with God – He hears your heart.

Better still, before we look for someone to understand – go to God first.

Climbing Mountains?

I don’t like climbing mountains, so I was surprised to find I am a mountain climber. The rocks are life’s challenges. The sheer height is fear of failing. The climbing gear is my relationship with Christ, and His Word. And the climb? My continuous choice to overcome.

I was looking for useful tools the other day for a friend who is fighting depression, and came across a podcast by John Piper (his youtube channel is Desiring God). Thanks Julie for suggesting it.

As embarrassing as it is to admit – I can’t remember which bible verse he quoted, but He tells us the best way to overcome depression is to gaze at God. At first I scoffed “oh come on – it can’t be that simple.”

You never want to give people advice that you can’t take yourself, so I pondered John’s words.

I didn’t understand.

“How do I gaze at You?” I asked God.

And then I sat very still and quieted my thoughts and waited. An answer came. You gaze at God by not staring at the world.

I personalized “the world”. What did that represent for me? I had been watching mystery/crime television, when I could have been playing music, or writing, or even resting. The information consumed left me feeling fatigued and restless. Images of struggle and death were the last flashes before I fell asleep. Not something a mountain climber needed to reach the summit.

A light bulb moment, fuel for the fire, energy for the climb! If you find yourself slipping, if you find yourself stuck, if you recognize you are out on a limb going no where – perhaps some reflection is needed on what or whom you’ve been staring at?

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:22 (NIV)

Guess what? I skipped television tonight and wrote instead, as well as visited with some friends. Our conversation was very focused on….you guessed it, my best friend. tonight I think we’re going to be mountain climbing in my sleep:)

 

 

WATERFALL

The song came before the picture, but one of my favourite lines….”if there’s any truth to ‘right as rain’, you’re my waterfall, fill me again.

Standing in a waterfall means all you can see and feel, and hear is the water. Many times life’s circumstances swirl around us and drain us dry. How can we keep a healthy perspective? I suggest you stand in the waterfall…..and for me that waterfall is God. David talks about great grief being swept over him in the waterfall, in the deep, in the waves (Psalm 42:7). But I see God’s waterfall as place of strength, standing on the rock, surrounded by His presence. The water not sweeping me away, but filling me with His truth.

WATERFALL

I’ve been here before, not so long ago

Almost missed the signs, now I know, I know

The sky can be blue, the wind can blow wide

But without you here, I’m desert dry

Gotta hear your voice before birds sing

Gotta say your name, as you grow these wings

If there’s any truth to ‘right as rain’

You’re my waterfall, fill me again

I will live by faith and not by sight

Where you roar is great, and the world’s dark night

is a shadow small, and a moment’s pain

You’re my waterfall, fill me again.

Worry’s at my door, thinking he’s at home

Sometimes he gets in, but it’s not for long

He stirs up the storm to empty and drain

But in the waterfall – I will remain

lyrics and music by Cindy Palin @Feb. 9, 2017 All Rights Reserved

The Best Posture & Presence for any Situation

Reading in John 8 this morning something very beautiful struck me. It is the passage where Jesus arrives very early in the morning at the temple to teach. There, a religious group of people bring to him a woman who has been caught in adultery, hoping to trap Jesus somehow, and with the intent to stone her.

Many of you may be familiar with this story, and Christ’s famous words, he who is without sin cast the first stone (John 8:7b). So profound. Of course no one threw a single stone. One by one her accusers walked away.

However as I was reading I was struck by Christ’s posture. The sinner is brought into his presence, and he doesn’t tower over her in judgement, as you might think the Holy God of the universe should, instead he bends down to the ground and begins writing in the sand.

If you were caught in a guilty predicament and brought before Jesus, would you expect him to lower himself before you? I don’t believe he was condoning what she had done, but he was creating an atmosphere of forgiveness and love, taking on a posture of humility.

If you have hesitated to check out a local church because you feel you do not qualify, please remember this story. If you have been mistreated before by people who claim to be Christians. Remember no one is without sin (Romans 3:10)

I have learned three very important truths to apply to my life today.

  1. I will remember your posture my Lord. [clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]When foreigners or truth seekers appear at my door, I will not tower over them with an ere of condemnation[/clickandtweet], but I will take the position of a humble servant, that which you have exemplified to me.
  2. When confronted by a controversial issue I will quiet myself as you did, Jesus. Wow wouldn’t my parents have wanted to hear this in my teen-hood? Wouldn’t my children have benefited from this wisdom when they were little, and I was so young. I will take time to wait for your wisdom to speak to my spirit before I utter a word out loud.
  3. And, last but not least, I will speak your truth in love, knowing that true freedom is not found in our own way – but yours.

There will be times in my human fragility that I will make mistakes, but with your help may I reflect your posture and presence to all I meet.

Jesus told the woman to go and sin no more. He loved her, he offered her forgiveness, but he also made the truth very plain. In our attempt to exemplify Christ’s love it is vital we share His loving boundaries with others. Often we confuse love with tolerance. The best way I can think of concluding this thought is by sharing these verses,

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones”. (Proverbs 3:7,8 NIV)

Find out for yourself, what God’s word says to you today!