Sometimes It's Best Not To Know

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Recently, I invested in some intolerance tests to investigate if my diet, environment, or vitamin/mineral deficiencies may be contributing to my health issues. I wanted to be armed with the knowledge of how to best care for myself, hoping to regain strength and energy, both of which I desperately need these days.

The results came back in five days, but it might as well have been a lifetime. I was eager to see the results. I had high hopes the key to the “new me” could be found in avoiding a few things giving me grief. I knew the testing was extensive, but I had no idea the list of things to which I’m intolerant would be SO LONG!

The tests are broken down into four categories: food, environment, deficiencies, and metal toxicity.  The food category is organized according to levels and colors corresponding to a traffic light. Level 3 is red and means stop eating these foods as there is a severe intolerance. Level 2 is yellow, indicating the participant should slow down their intake of these foods as there is a decent level of intolerance. Level 1 is green, meaning proceed with caution. These items show a slight intolerance level and should be evaluated at a later time, after addressing the foods on Levels 2 and 3.

I cannot describe my horror as I scrolled down the list of Level 3 (RED) foods and saw the word, “cocoa.” As in chocolate! I’m pretty sure the blood running through my veins is nearly 50% chocolate. I love the stuff! I eat it all the time and have for as long as I can remember. Everyone who knows me knows chocolate is my favorite of all favorites. And now, it must be banned from my diet. Kill me now!!!

As I shared the results of the tests with Jason, he looked at me sympathetically and whispered, “You wanted to know.” He’s right I did. At least, I thought I did, but now that I know, I’m not so sure I want to.  After all, if I didn’t, I could continue to enjoy my chocolate in ignorance. But now that I know, I have a duty to do something with that knowledge. And I can’t say I’m particularly happy about it!

I wonder, though, if that’s why God often keeps things hidden from us. It’s not that He's sneaky or cruel. I think He does it because He knows we can’t handle the truth. . .at least, not yet. We think we want to know. We believe we want to see around the bend. But do we really? What if there’s heartache? Disease? A miscarriage? Bankruptcy? Or, heaven forbid, an intolerance to your all-time-favorite food? What would we do with such knowledge? How would we handle it? My guess is, not well! And God knows that.

They say, “Ignorance is bliss,” and in some cases, I can see where that could be true. Sometimes, it really is best not to know. As for my intolerance to chocolate (and a long list of other foods), even though I’m not happy with the results, it’s good for me to know because now I am armed with the knowledge to do something for my health.  After all, if the intolerances are as severe as they seem, I’ve been poisoning myself for a long time without even realizing it. So, in this area, ignorance would not be blissful. It would be deadly.

God knows best, dear friends. He will tell us what we need to know when we need to know it. And if there’s some area in which you feel He’s keeping you in the dark, please know that He has a good reason for doing so. Maybe you really don’t want to know. Remember, He has your best interest at heart. Trust Him. Sometimes it’s better in the dark.

If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
— Psalm 139:11-12

Relief From My Unbelief

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“There is great joy in serving Jesus.” I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard this statement. I’ve even said it many times myself. And deep down, I know it to be true, which is why I’ve had such a hard time reconciling the feelings of stress and overwhelm swirling within me over the past months.  After all, I’m serving Jesus to the best of my ability. I am doing all that I know to do to live for and honor Him. So, why am I not basking in joy? Why am I struggling to find my song?

As I poured out my heart to God about this, I felt so ashamed. I thought of how many Christians are serving in horrible places and dreadful conditions, yet they praise the Lord with every breath. Here I am with more blessings than I can count, yet I can’t seem to ease the ache within my soul. I feel so alone, so out of place. Some days, it seems as if the task of deputation is far more than my body and mind can take. I long for the peace of God to overflow in my heart and life. I crave the joy I know can only be found in Christ. To quote a line from a song, “I want to believe there’s beauty here.” Yet, I weep in the in-between moments when I finally have a chance to stop and catch my breath. When I can lay down all the masks and costumes of “the good Christian girl who has it all together” and just be me. The real me. The confused me. The disheartened me. The shamed me.

I know it’s a privilege to serve the Lord, and I count it as an honor that God would use me. So, why, at this point in my life, doesn’t it feel like a privilege? Why does it feel like a trial? Why is it causing anxiety and stress instead of peace and joy? And what kind of lousy Christian must I be to feel this way?

I’m happy to say God met my questions with some powerful verses that opened my eyes to some precious truths. While there is joy in serving the Lord, that does not mean we will always be happy with where He leads us. In fact, sometimes, we’ll be heartbroken and afraid. . .just like Jesus was. Yes, Jesus. He came to this earth to do His Father’s will. He knew He would have to die for our sins. He knew the price He would have to pay, and He was more than willing to do it. But that doesn’t mean He wanted to go through it. He prayed the cup would pass from Him.

And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. - Matthew 26:39

And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. - Luke 22:41-44

Praying. Pleading. Sweating blood. If this isn’t a picture of someone who is dreading an upcoming season of life, I don’t know what is. On the one hand, Jesus wanted to do the Father’s will. On the other, He didn’t want to face such cruel agony. To quote another song, “His humanity cried, ‘Lord, any other way.’ His divinity rose up and said, ‘This price I have to pay.’” And if those two passages don’t paint a vivid enough picture, check out what Hebrews says.

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; - Hebrews 5:7-9

Did you catch that? Strong crying. Tears. Fear. Oh, that sounds so familiar. Jesus, in the center of God’s will, cried out to His Father. He felt overwhelmed by the task to which He had been called. I see no joy or peace in these verses, only fear and anguish. I see Jesus being obedient but not jumping up and down for joy at the prospect. I see an example that makes me feel less ashamed, less like the worst Christian in the history of Christianity. I see Jesus as a man. A man with emotions. A man living in the nasty now and now and deciding to keep serving whether or not He feels like it. I see a man desperate for different circumstances, for a change of heart and attitude. I see someone seeking for joy amid a less than joyful situation. I see myself. . . and I smile.

Jesus has been right here. He’s walked in my shoes. He’s felt my pain. He understands the tears I shed in secret and my seemingly fruitless search for joy and peace in my ever-changing life. He can relate to my roiling emotions and aching heart. And through His Word, He’s reminded me that it’s okay. He’s shown me that while there is joy in serving the Lord, there’s also suffering. At first, that doesn’t seem like much of a comfort, but if we know the truth of that going in, we’ll feel less disappointed and desperate. We’ll feel less alone in our struggles. When we realize that even Jesus Himself dealt with fear and the sense of overwhelm, it helps us know that we’re not as “off track” as we thought we were as long as we continue to follow Jesus’ example and be obedient. And if you’ll look back at that passage in Hebrews, it tells us that Jesus learned obedience through suffering.  

My life right now may not be all that I hoped and imagined it would be, but through it all, God is teaching me to be obedient. He is showing me how to put His will above my own, to set His purposes before my peace. And in the midst of it all, He’s reminding me I’m never, ever alone, and I don’t have to hide my pain. I can be honest with Him because He knows what I’m feeling anyway. There is a brighter day coming, but in the meantime, I find comfort in knowing I can be myself, and that myself is not such a bad thing after all.

Running to the Master

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A few nights ago, I was awakened by a bright flash of light. Groggy from sleep, I lay still trying to determine what had disturbed my blissful slumber. A long roll of thunder confirmed my suspicions—a storm had rolled in. As the roar tailed off, I expected to hear the pitter-patter of feet on the hardwood floors, but none came, so I closed my eyes and did my best to get back to sleep. 

 Before long, another flash of light lit up the bedroom, and once again, a roll of thunder followed in its wake. This time, however, there was no hesitation. I heard Barnabas as he jumped down from his comfy place on the couch and made his way to our bedroom. Within seconds, his cold nose nudged my arm, and his big pleading eyes met mine as if to say, “Mommy, I’m scared. Can I sleep with you?”

I patted the space on the bed between Jason and me, and in no time, the area was filled with 95-pounds of dog. Barnabas snuggled into the space, breathed a sigh of relief, and promptly went back to sleep. Though the storm raged on through the night, Barnabas slept soundly because he knew he was safe with his masters.

As I watched/listened to my sweet pup go from anxious to completely settled, I couldn’t help but smile. I can relate. How sweet it is to run to my Master when I’m afraid. When the storms roll around me, and I don’t know what to do, it’s such a blessing to know I can find peace and safety in the arms of my Lord. Sometimes He actively comforts me, but other times, just resting in His presence is all it takes to ease my mind and calm my fears. And not once have I ever been turned away. Every time I’ve approached the Lord and said, “Daddy, I’m scared. Can I sit with you?,” He’s invited me into His presence. Every time! And I know He always will.

Are you afraid today? Do the storms have you running for cover? If so, seek refuge with the Father. He loves you and understands your fear. He longs to comfort you and give you peace in the midst of your storm. And He will never, ever turn you away (even if you do have a cold, wet nose!).

What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.
— Psalm 56:3

NOTE: I apologize for the lack of audio lately. Last week, I was sick and had little to no voice. This week, for some reason, my recording software is giving me fits and picking up a lot of background noise. Oddly enough, it’s noise that isn’t really in the background. I have no idea where it’s coming from. Lord willing, I’ll get it running smoothly before long and get back to recording the daily devotions. Gotta love technology!