April McGowan

Maybe I’m Amazed

file0001298768905I haven’t blogged for several weeks now. We’ve been going through some insurance changes that put me off my medication schedule and I started to feel pretty lousy—I don’t know about you, but I have serious problems writing when I feel lousy! Thankfully, my supplies showed up two weeks ago. Even so, it put me and my immunobuddies off schedule and invited bronchitis to stay a while. Don’t worry though–this blog post is germ free!

I was pretty amazed at the fast turn around this time in getting my medication approved so quickly. Maybe for two reasons. Usually, these things can take quite a while. The other had to do with prayer–but maybe not the one you’d expect me to make. I prayed that if this medication wasn’t necessary (read I can get by without my immunobuddies) that the Lord wouldn’t let me get approved at all. This has to do in part with the huge burden they put on us financially. And…truly…it’s still not an enjoyable treatment.

Well, I got approved in 2 days this time. Unheard of. I think I knew all along I needed them (see paragraph one)–but I wasn’t sure how God would provide for us to pay for them this year. And He surprised us with an answer to that, too. I can’t share details, but I was amazed.

Do you ever feel like you really need one prayer answered? Not just for the answered prayer–but because you need a faith boost? I know that the Lord hears my prayers–His word says He does and I believe it. But, sometimes they take a long time to be answered, or are answered in such a way I don’t see them. Well, that’s where I was. I needed a boost to my faith. He sent one just in time.

If you’d like, I’d love to hear about ways God has intervened on your behalf during trials—and left you completely amazed. Leave me a comment?

Jeremiah 32:17 Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. (full text here)

 

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Count Your Blessings

Here in the US it’s Thanksgiving week. It’s a time when a lot of people sit down and consider their lives and give thanks for what they have. I’ve struggled with this a lot since the diagnosis of my illness. It’s hard for me to thank the Lord for things that other people don’t have. Well-meaning people were telling me to be thankful I wasn’t sicker. But, when I joined support groups for my disease, there were plenty of people who were more ill than me. Did I feel I was more blessed than them?

People thank God for their houses and cars and their health. They thank Him for their secure job, their wonderful marriages, and their perfect kids. I mean, we’re told to count our blessings. But, what if what we think of as blessings aren’t limited to these things?

There are millions and billions of people who don’t have a laundry list of what the world would consider to be good things in their lives. They were just diagnosed with a scary disease, their spouses have betrayed them; they might be losing their homes, their jobs, their kids. Does this mean God doesn’t love them as much as the guy in the big house in the fancy neighborhood next to you?

Very simply: no. God’s Word says He loves His children and cares for them.

So, what if blessings aren’t all about these things; what if the Father’s ‘good’ is something different? His ultimate goal for us isn’t that we live in cushy houses and have everything we think we want. Rather, it’s having a personal, real, intimate relationship with Him.

Don’t get me wrong—it’s not bad to thank God for all the good things in your life—our hearts are to be grateful. But, we’re told to be thankful in ALL things. Thankful for suffering? Yes. Thankful for heartache? That, too.

Think of this: if we’re only thankful for the things we like, then when we hit on hard times (and there will be plenty) then we’re going to be tempted to think that God is displeased with us. That maybe He doesn’t love us as His word promises. That maybe He even hates us.

I can stand here today and say I’m thankful for my illness. I mean it. It’s not easy to say—but it’s true. I’ve seen a lot of blessings come out of this. I’ve met some amazing, encouraging people. I’ve been astounded by their faith in the Lord. Most importantly, I’ve become more assured than ever in the reality of the Father and His hand in my life.

So, as the song says, when we count our many blessings—maybe you should be thinking about the friends you’ve made during your trials; about your ability to come alongside others in their sufferings; and ultimately about the closeness you feel to the Father when He carries you through another day.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (full text here)

John 3:16-21 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (full text here)

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Perfect World

Because of my family’s food allergies, we’ve become major label readers. And I have to admit, it’s disheartening sometimes. I mean, they sneak gluten into just about everything. Egg and dairy are all around us. Sometimes, just walking through the store, you feel like food companies are out to get you!

I was at the grocery store today, looking for relish that didn’t have food coloring in it. I know…food coloring? Cucumbers are green! Silly companies! Guess what? Couldn’t find any. My thought processes started buzzing. American food companies are following the way of the fashion industry. You’re probably wondering what I’m talking about—try to follow my though process, it can get a bit convoluted at times. American food companies are doing what the fashion industry has been doing for years. They are covering up imperfection in foods with dyes (rather like style mags cover up their models with airbrushing). But…in pickles? I’ve seen homemade relish and pickles—yep, still green. But, dare I say, not green enough? (Just an FYI—the foods the US exports to Europe have to be free of dyes because of a ban they instated due to safety concerns. I’ll let you ponder that one.)

Now, take a leap with me: our striving to cover up imperfection can get in the way of our spiritual life. A lot of people get so focused on the surface, they don’t ever take a peek inside. They are worn out trying to live up to other’s expectations. They are exhausted trying to be perfect and to do it all. People might put off starting a deeper relationship with their creator until they’ve got it all together. I do that sometimes, too. I plan to have a time set aside to spend with the Lord. But, I’ve got to get all these other things out of the way first! Or worse yet, people try to become perfect enough to approach God on their own.

The Bible says we can’t do it by ourselves. That we’ll never measure up, never be perfect enough to approach God. In our American perfectionism, this is rather a bummer. You mean, I can’t cover up my sin enough to approach God on my own? Mix in a little food coloring to make myself brighter and more appealing? Not so much. The good news is, Jesus says that if we accept Him as our savior, He’ll approach God for us. He’ll be our intercessor. God will forgive our imperfections and sins because the One who is perfect died in our place. We don’t have to wait until we have it all together, or cover up our sins or short comings, to deepen our relationship with God. We just have to accept the gift of grace Jesus offers to us.

Romans 5: 7-11 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Read in context here.)

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