Failing, To Succeed

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“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” -Michael Jordan

Wow! Those are encouraging words for me today. And perhaps for you, as well. Seems like, at this point in my life, I fail far more than I succeed. But the Bible says that when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10) Through our failures, God yields His strength to us. And, in these cracked, clay vessels, our

imperfections allow God’s light to shine through. The imperfections are still there. Yet they serve the greater purpose of allowing others in this darkened world to see God’s glory radiating through us- failures and all.

Like Michael, let’s keep on trying!

2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

2 Corinthians 12:9,10: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (ESV)

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God’s Tapestry of Grace

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“’Every day, in every situation and life circumstance, God is doing 1000 things you cannot see and do not know.’ These words by John Piper encouraged me earlier this week as I’ve been struggling with pain. Oh, what a wonderful Day it will be when finally the underside of the embroidery will be flipped upright and we will see how every painful thread fit beautifully into God’s tapestry of grace. So join me in persevering, friend!” – Joni Eareckson Tada

I often find much uplifting and inspiration in the words and illustrations of Joni Eareckson Tada.  Sometimes life can be overwhelming as it bears down upon us.  And those of us who battle chronic pain, fatigue, or illness understand that it can make life’s challenges seem multiplied ten fold.  But God is always in control and He is faithful to finish the work He began in each of us.  By His Spirit, we have the power to accomplish whatever service He has called us to do and whatever task He has set before us!  I love Joni’s illustration, “God’s tapestry of grace”.  It is God’s grace and the power of His Holy Spirit that enable us to keep going, even in difficult circumstances and despite all obstacles!  Praise the Lord!  Be blessed today in HIM!

Lamentations 3:22-24: “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,  “Therefore I hope in Him!”
 

Stand in the Bright Spot

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Looking back over the year 2013, I must admit it was a year of seemingly relentless difficulty for me.  Perhaps you can relate?  As soon as one trial had passed, another would quickly follow.  And often there were multiple trials all at once which became an almost insurmountable struggle.  One day, in a moment of weakness, I was praying and literally crying out to the Lord to ease my load, feeling as though the darkness might soon completely overtake me.  I longed for a reprieve from the seemingly endless barrage of attacks from the enemy- a breakthrough!  Then, softly and intently, the Holy Spirit spoke to me, “Angela, stand in the ‘bright spot’.”

I cried out in desperation, while in the middle of a particularly bad flare, “What bright spot, Lord?”, overwhelmed and struggling at the time to see the tiniest glimmer of light outside His immediate presence.  Surely, in the midst of all the trials- a year-long whirlwind of family chaos and turbulence, the effects of chronic pain and fatigue, months of difficulty getting resettled after a necessary summer move, nearly three months of fighting not to succumb to depression, and not to mention the current ice storm with thirty-two hours of no power, no heat, and no running water at home- I thought surely, there wasn’t a beam large enough for me to stand in.  “You’re all the light I see, Lord,” I said.  “Where would You have me stand?”

And then, like a vision, it came to me.  Though the circumstances that weighed so heavily upon me were like walking through dark shadows that seemed to engulf me, I began to imagine beautiful rays of light as they broke through the clouds of darkness.  In those rays of light- the “bright spot”- there was hope, warmth, even joy, and renewal.  So I asked the Lord, “Father, where is the bright spot in all of this?”  I longed to see it and to feel it’s warmth flood my spirit. Then I felt Him saying to me, “Look around you to those things where I am and you will find it.”

It was a week before our Christmas Musical at church and I so wanted to sing for the Lord and bring glory to His name.  Singing is one of the things that brings me joy and gives me inspiration.  I so enjoy singing with our Praise  Team and worshipping our Lord together.  And for nearly three months, I had longed to once again find the ability to connect with the passion and inspiration I knew God had placed within me for His ministry.  So, in that moment, and for that very time in my life, singing in the Christmas Musical became my “bright spot”. For a little while, I was able to bask in the rays of light from my “bright spot” and felt God’s warmth pour over me as His joy began to renew my spirit.  Making an effort to attend weekly practices and listening to my performance CD at home and in the car, I had been looking forward to singing with my sweet Sisters on the Praise Team and to the program God had inspired our Music Minister to lead.  But my basking wouldn’t last long.  The next morning I awoke with a scratchy throat.  And, by the following morning, it had turned into the worst sore throat I could ever remember having.   This time the Holy Spirit led me in a different way.  But I’m certain it was His direction which prompted me to call and make an appointment with my doctor, something I usually don’t immediately do.  A visit to the doctor is certainly not one of my favorite things!  But this time was different- I knew I needed to get to be seen as soon as possible and suspected it was strep.   Sure enough, the test confirmed I had strep throat!

It seemed my “bright spot” had vanished. But I soon discovered it had only moved.  Often in challenging circumstances, the Lord’s desire is to inspire our faith to grow as we continue to trust Him and follow His leading.  So I prayed for His strength and the ability to trust faithfully and to keep my focus on Him, instead of on my circumstances.  The circumstances surrounding me were still very difficult.  That had not changed.  But just as He always had, by His mercy, grace, and love, the Lord brought me through.  Each day, as I followed my doctor’s instructions, took my medication, and placed everything in God’s hands, I began to improve.  Slowly, I began to practice using my singing voice a little at a time and was soon able to sing again!  More importantly, God helped me realize that His gift of inspiration doesn’t always come from within.  Sometimes His desire is that we rest in Him for a while and be carried by and become part of the inspiration He bestows to others. I’m continuing to learn, when the dark clouds of gloom and uncertainty loom over me, I only need to ask the Lord to help me look for the “bright spot” and to stand in it!

No matter how dark the clouds looming overhead or the shadows surrounding you, there is always a bright spot- a place where God says, “I am”.  It may be uniquely different, depending on your circumstances.  Where is your “bright spot” today?  Is it the love in your children’s faces?  Is it spending time with your grandchildren, lending them your love and guidance?  Is it something God has gifted you to do that brings you joy?  Perhaps it’s having lunch with a friend, or a phone call to a loved one.  Maybe it’s giving of your time and talents to minister to others.  Or it’s spending time studying or teaching God’s Word.  Maybe it’s a walk in the park or a drive through the country, enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. Look for your “bright spot” today.  Stand in it!  And the Lord will give you warmth, hope, His unspeakable joy…and He will renew your spirit!

John 8:12: Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the Light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (HCSB)

Standing in the Bright Spot,

Angela 🙂

 

God’s Power In Our Weakness

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I was feeling rather disheartened and frustrated, even discouraged, like I was being pulled in many different directions, all the while trying to offer my best to the Lord and to those around me. Yet, no matter how hard I tried or what I had given, it seemed as though it was never enough.

Have you ever felt that way? I’m certain you have.

In those moments of desperation I cried out to God, “What do I do now, Lord? I love my family and am doing everything I possibly can to be there for them, to serve others in the ways You have called me to, to be a good friend, and to live according to Your Word. But it seems like I just can’t do enough! I’m weary, worn and discouraged…please help me, Lord!”

Have you found yourself in a similar place? Have you felt as though you couldn’t possibly be everything others seemingly need or want you to be? Have you felt as though others just don’t understand there is a limit to what you can be and do for them? That’s how I was feeling at the time and how I have felt at various other times in my life.

Because of a chronic illness, I find that often my body just will not cooperate with what my heart and mind long to do. In my weakness, I find myself  feeling inadequate at times, like I’ve let others down, especially my family and those closest to me. Though the desire of my heart is to fulfill every reasonable expectation others may have of me or whatever task I am needed or have committed to do.  Yet my body doesn’t always cooperate. As a result, I am forced to limit myself to what I am actually able to accomplish. And this may vary from day-to-day or week-to-week, even throughout the course of a single day.

Joni Eareckson Tada once wrote concerning human weakness,

“Deny your weakness, and you will never realize God’s strength in you.”

Based on what Scripture has to say, I have to agree with her.  Throughout the years the Lord has taught me that with perseverance there is sweet reward in drawing nearer to my Savior and operating in His power.  It is in those situations that I must rely on His strength to carry me through to accomplish the task before me. During those difficult days, when I have given all I can give, and still, to those around me (and even to myself), it seems like it just isn’t enough, I find comfort in knowing that my loving Savior understands my weakness.  And He is always there to be my strength as I am yielded to His will.

The Apostle Paul expressed it so well, speaking about our Lord, Jesus Christ, in 2 Corinthians 12:9:

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

I have come to realize, through adversity, that it isn’t about me or my weakness.  It’s about His power and that power is brought to perfection in the midst of my frailty, even in my brokenness.  God’s light, the Savior’s light,  comes shining through all the cracks and flaws!  He is my source of strength and power!

God uses imperfect people to accomplish His perfect plan.  All you and I must do is trust in Him, yield to Him, admit and embrace our weakness, knowing that HIS power is an ever constant source of life and regeneration– not only for ourselves, but for those we serve!

Romans 5:3-5:

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

In Christ’s Love,

Angela

I Am a Child of God

An encouraging Affirmation for those living with Chronic Illness & Pain

by Angela Hall Dobbins © 2010

child_of_GodIf you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then the Bible says you are a child of God!  And, as a child of the Most High God and Creator of the Universe, you have an inheritance!  You are a joint heir with Christ and you will join Him one day in Your Father’s Kingdom.  Isn’t that awesome!  Yet, not only are you a joint heir with Christ, chosen to receive a heavenly inheritance, you have an earthly inheritance, as well.

Jesus said, “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10b

No matter what circumstances surround you today, God has promised that He will never  leave or forsake you.  As His child, He looks at you through the endearing eyes of a loving Father, always there with arms wide open to comfort you in every situation.

In 2 Corinthians 1:3,4, we read, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

Chronic illness may have changed the way you live your life on a day-to-day basis.  Granted, it has surely required you to learn to pace yourself, set limits, even discontinue some activities, and to rearrange your life and daily routine.  But it can never prevent you from being the person God created you to be!  That’s because God, as your ever loving Heavenly Father, in His wisdom, has a plan for your life.  And He is working that plan to your advantage and for the good for all eternity!

Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

God has given you a promise and, no matter what circumstances you face in this life, He will never go back on that promise.  Your life is important and special.  And He has an important purpose for you!  You are His Child, unique and adored, and He wants to shine His light through you today, right where you’re planted!

Some of God’s richest blessings are bestowed through adversity.  When we give, especially out of our own need, God has a way of blessing us immeasurably.  So, no matter what limiting circumstances surround you, remember that God is still on His throne and that He is in control!  You are His Child, whom He loves.  He has gifted you with certain talents and abilities with which to share His love with others.  And He has placed before you, even in the midst of chronic illness, opportunities to fulfill the very purpose for which you were created!

Romans 8:14-17 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

Let’s pray together:

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your loving provisions in our lives.  We thank You for Your love and care and for understanding our feelings and our needs.  Lord, help us to remember that You are in control, no matter what our circumstances and that chronic illness can never define “who we are” in You nor prevent us from being all You created us to be.  Help me to realize and to remember that, while I may not be able to do all the things I would like to, nor even to go at the pace I would like to, still You have a purpose and a plan for my life.  And that plan applies every day, no matter how I may be feeling, physically.  Help me not to waste a moment of this precious life You have given me, but rather to use it for Your glory and to spread Your love.  Help me to seek You daily and to take advantage of opportunities to use the talents and abilities You have given me to share Your love with others and to tell them about the awesome grace You have extended to us through Your son, Jesus Christ.  Lord, we thank You that You hear and answer our prayers. We ask these things in the precious name of Jesus. Amen and Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, I would love to hear from you.  Please feel free to write to me so that I may continue to pray in agreement with you and to offer you encouragement.  If you have questions or other prayer requests, please do not hesitate to contact me. I’m here to listen and I care. 🙂

May God bless you abundantly today and guide you to becoming all He created you to be!

Love in Christ,

Angela

lifecoachangelad@yahoo.com