Tag Archives: faith

When winds turn turbulent the One who calms storms is still Lord! Wave after wave buffeted the hull of Noah’s ark, yet all mankind still descends from his sons. Joseph, though tormented in dungeons, still brought to bear his ministry of deliverance for Israel. Persecuted and scattered, Christ’s own disciples wondered if they’d come so far for nothing, yet they sit as fathers of the Church. “In his heart a man plots his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9, NIV 1984). Special waypoints confirm themselves, but the steps in between call for faith in the One who set the stars.

When winds turn turbulent the One who calms storms is still Lord!

In July, I reported a miracle of God’s providence when He landed me an unimaginable job ("Nurse Todd takes a Job"). The Lord planted me in an intensive care unit when I had never dreamed of asking for such a distinction. Since then, I have toiled, wrestled, grieved, and strived, only to find myself involuntarily moved to another assignment less demanding. I grieve the loss of the work family I developed in the ICU, and the blow to my pride since I can no longer say, “I am an ICU nurse.” I would be remiss, however, to think that such was never His will. Any one of the patients I’ve served, the families I’ve comforted, the coworkers I’ve encouraged, the complex health issues I’ve studied, the severe situations I’ve experienced, or even this recent lesson in humility I’ve been dealt could be reason enough for me to have been brought through this season.

I can no longer say, “I am an ICU nurse.”

I well remember that a missionary is not called to do what is easy, but what is necessary. That very notion has helped me to make a decision about where to plant my next footfall. Given the option of a sparklingly attractive job in predictable, routine orthopedics or a more clinically demanding medical-surgical unit, I have opted for the latter and have already joined the ranks of my new work family. They seem to be happy to receive me and, only two days in, I’ve already had an opportunity to make an impact on patients and coworkers alike.

a missionary is not called to do what is easy, but what is necessary

I am learning that the key to living through loss with grace is gratitude. I am grateful for the knowledge that God is sovereign over my circumstances and has a plan for me. I am grateful that my end destination is not God’s only plan, but that every stepping stone en route is no less carefully designed and appointed. I am grateful for relationships built, experiences had, and ministry opportunities capitalized. Today, I honestly thanked God for the lesson in humility represented by my reassignment. I don’t need to know what lies ahead to trust the Navigator.

the key to living through loss with grace is gratitude

Whether you are experiencing turmoil in your life or not, I hope you will remember that the Master of the waves and wind is also the Architect of your soul, sinews, and senses, and He will plant your every step if you surrender your course to His will. That said, I cannot overstate the value of faithful encouragement. The words of my friends through this have really propped me up when I needed it. My hope is that every child of Christ has a family of encouragement to prop them up. The entire purpose of the Church is to glorify God by caring for one another in the manner Christ taught us.

the Master of the waves and wind is also the Architect of your soul, sinews, and senses

Copyright © 2015 HarperCollins Christian Publishing.

I confess I am much like the Israelites delivered from Egyptian slavery. A few days in the wilderness with Moses, and they seemed to forget the mountains of water between which they walked across the Red Sea on dry land, and instead began whining about where their next meal might come from. Here I am, a new graduate from nursing school, draped in honor cords, after repeatedly begging for deliverance from what seemed like countless narrow brushes with disastrous failure. My feet are dry and the fish are watching my onward march from the confines of their heaping habitat. No sooner have I heard the crashing of the waves behind me before I’ve turned my eyes to peer past the pillar of fire and smoke to what lies ahead.

Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced... (1 Chronicles 16:12, NIV)

How will I pass the nursing boards? Where will I work? Who will hire a middle-aged man when there are so many young kids graduating with me? Why did my first-choice hospital pass me over? Why haven’t I heard back from the other recruiters? How did s/he land a job ahead of me?

What is this manna? Did you lead us out here to die? When will we get some meat? Surely we were better off as Egypt’s slaves than being stuck in this wilderness!

“…remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability…” (Deuteronomy 8:18a, NIV)

As it turns out, God is already doing new and wonderful things. Allow me to share a miraculous demonstration of His undeserved goodness:

I was invited to apply for a nursing job about which I was eager but mysteriously uneasy. It seemed perfectly tailored to me with elements of corrections, addiction, and youth all rolled into a low-stress environment which was even conducive to continuing education. It tempted me with its apparent answer to my ongoing question: “Why would God make a nurse out of a retired police officer?” The drawbacks were that it would not give me much clinical nursing experience and it seemed like a step back toward law enforcement rather than forward into nursing. I prayed with friends at church about it, that God would make the right decision obvious, and that a clear “Gideon’s fleece” would be if the nurse I would be replacing decided not to submit his notice as anticipated. The next day, I woke up horribly dizzy (a condition that passed in about 6 hours and was likely related to a recent sinus surgery). When I contacted my friend to postpone our meeting about the job, she informed me that there was no rush to meet because the nurse I would be replacing decided not to submit his notice as anticipated. Soaked fleece identified! The job is not for me. Out of respect for my friend and her invitation, I proceeded a few days later to meet at the rehabilitation facility where she affirmed in several ways that, while this was a good paying job and a wonderful ministry, it was not a place to build the experiential nursing skills I will need to be a productive missionary nurse.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

(Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV)

The very next day, at precisely 3:06pm, my friend and pastor sent me a text inquiring about my health. I shared with him the details of my progress and the soaked fleece story. He responded prayerfully, “Ok God, send Todd the next test on your agenda.”

At 3:24, only eighteen minutes later, I received a call from a recruiter who represents my first-choice hospital, one I had been informed had passed me over. She informed me that, if I was still interested and not turned off by the prospect of night shift, she had a spot open for me. We scheduled an interview for later this week, and I am over the moon with excitement about the prospect. Other options continue to become available, and I am reminded that, whether I get the whole picture of the destination on the horizon or am blinded by the blazing cloud in front of me, the One in the pillar is directing my steps and I have nothing to fear.

I do believe, Lord Jesus! Help me overcome my unbelief. *

"And if I could tell you all, you would see how God has done all, and I nothing.”  - Florence Nightingale

“After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. …How quickly they turned away from the path of their ancestors, who had walked in obedience to the Lord’s commands.” Judges 2:10, 17b NLT

I am ashamed to confess that my faith is like multiple generations of the Israelites who, even after deliverance from Egyptian slavery, began to doubt that God would do the next good thing. Just like those who walked across the Red Sea on dry land, I have come out of a bondage and through terrors all my own, only to stand in my current wilderness wondering what's next. I have no doubt that He can do a new, good thing or that He is sovereign over my every circumstance and condition, but I still find myself doubting that I would be the recipient of any more of His wonders. I know it is the religious prejudice in me that judges myself as unworthy of God's delight, but it is a profoundly deafening voice. I need to constantly recall that, through Jesus Christ, God's answer to me is not "If, then," "either, or," or even "maybe," but "yes and amen!"

The storm of nursing school has swirled to a single funneling cloud and it looms over this week, slurping up hope and spitting out turbulence that obscures my vision of deliverance. I remember Peter, who began to sink when he "saw the wind and waves" (Matthew 14:30), and I'm trying to keep my eyes on the Savior rather than my carnal condition, but the stinging surf laps at my ankles and the blistering winds blast my face. 

Plotting a course through my obstacles feels like naming the winds and waves I see, but trusting God to get me past them requires I let go of my illusion of control and perfection concerning them. It also counts as prayer requests when I meter and chart them for you my prayer supporter. So know that this week is a torrential beast. On Tuesday I see a dermatologist to have several precancerous (actinic keratosis) lesions removed from my face. On Wednesday I take our unit exam. Then Thursday I will sit for the standardized nursing school exit (Hesi) exam, which determines whether I graduate and am eligible to sit for the national licensure (NCLEX) exam in about four weeks. Following that, we have our final exam next Wednesday, and the celebratory proceedings including the nurses' pinning ceremony on May 8th and college commencement on the 11th. 

...through Jesus Christ, God's answer to me is not "If, then," "either, or," or even "maybe," but "yes and amen!"

I am surrounded by classmates, some of whom face this week without the advantage of knowing a Savior who has their future in His hands, some who do, and others like me who do but have a hard time keeping Him in view amid the thick, dark, cloudy demands of nursing school. I pray for them faithfully, even when I am too overwhelmed to pray for myself. I do so hope to encourage and inspire them rather than capsize anyone's already unsteady vessel!

This spiritual swamping is why I need friends like you on stable footing to throw out lifelines and prayer from dry land. I covet your intercession and thank you for your support. God bless you as you read, as you pray, and as you go into your own mission field of life, spilling out grace that overflows.

I'm having a hard time knowing where to stand between a position of faith and one of humility and diligent stewardship. On one hand, I know that I need to let go of every aspect of control in order to let God have complete rule of my life. On the other hand, I am told to be diligent, to strive after knowledge and wisdom with everything I have, and to pursue learning as a precious jewel. Every time I share my concern about Wednesday's final exam I am met with well-meaning statements of faith: "Oh you know God will be there for you," "You've got this, and there is no reason to worry," "Oh, I'm not even concerned because I know God will give you the grade you need." I just can't be so presumptuous to expect God will do everything I want Him to do every time I want Him to do it that I shirk my responsibility to diligently study.

I'm reminded of Daniel's friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who were thrown into the fire. Before their date with the furnace, they exclaimed that the God of Heaven was able to deliver them, but that even if He didn't they would never bow to the idol (Daniel 3:16-18). I want to stand like that, completely assured that God is capable of getting me through this and delivering the miracle I believe I need, but content to know that, even if He doesn't, I will walk in His way for me.

To put it more in terms of Elijah, I believe that the altar has been built, the trench has been dug around it, the wood and the offering have been saturated, and the ground all around is soaked with water (1 Kings 18:30-39). What I need now is fire from Heaven to come and blaze for the glory of God in my grade-book. But even if God chooses instead to administer a lesson of patience and humility, I will walk in His way for me.

Down to the wire     There was neither fanfare nor chiming of any bells to mark the occasion, but the local state college has upgraded me from “provisionally accepted” to a registered nursing student, with classes beginning January 6th. Among the voluminous correspondence received by applicants was a study guide along with a hint that there would be a test administered on orientation day. Measurements, ratios, conversions, dosage calculations, medical terminology, and abbreviations, much of which looked like Greek to me, was to be mastered by Monday, November 16th. True to my nature, I studied every jot and tittle until I had found every typographical error in the packet and unraveled every mystery within its pages, but not without some measure of anxiety. There was that little voice in the dark corner of my mind whispering that I would not measure up, be enough, win the prize, shine brightly, or whatever it was I was after. Without my devotional exercises reminding me Whose and what I am, I surely would have been pierced by those fiery darts of the destroyer.

When I arrived for orientation, I was surprised at the number of future nurses who were completely unprepared for any such exam. “What study material?” was repeated by more than one horrified face gathered around me. Later, when the topic of the dosage calculation and medical terminology test came up, the proctor dismissed it as merely one of the many forms that would be passed out, signed, and turned in. It was, she said, just a pre-test to determine where the collective starting point was for the group. The “test” was actually a single leaf of paper with twenty questions on it, and would in no way count toward anyone’s grade. Simultaneously, I was relieved for my friends who had not prepared, disappointed that I had prepared so diligently and would receive no credit for it, and ashamed that I had worried for nothing. When will I ever learn to just do my best and let God control the results?

It was a good thing I received that remedial lesson in not fretting, because when I finished registering for classes I was shown the bill for the next two semesters. The amount was staggering, but includes all electronic books. I have been in person and on the phone with every financial aid, loan, and scholarship office available to me, but it looks like I will need $1,200 by tomorrow, November 19th. Those in authority have told me to wait until just before 7:00 pm to contact any of the others in authority, but by then offices will be closed and students will begin being dropped from classes for non-payment. The confusing, conflicting information I received boils down to a choice to go deeper into debt even though scholarships have not yet been awarded or risk being dropped from the nursing program. I sure am glad I learned not to fret! The God who owns all the cattle and all the hills on which they graze will make a way for this to all smooth out.

Dear Father, today, help me surrender the worries to You and to be obedient with the steps You orchestrate as I reach them, never more than one at a time.

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20140727-020945-7785155.jpgGod gave Man dominion, but Man passed on it.

In Genesis 1:28, as God was giving Adam his basic operating instructions, He declared that mankind was to rule over the earth, to subdue it, to master all the wildlife and produce of the entire planet. The next time we hear from Adam, he's ducking responsibility, pointing blame at Eve and at God Himself, saying (and I paraphrase Genesis 3:12), "That woman You gave me - she did it!"

From that point on, Man was separated from God, but Man's job was still the same: exercise mastery over all the earth. I've been thinking about this with regard to prayer.

I know that praying brings no news to an omniscient God. He knows what we need, want, and think before we do, even interceding on our behalf when we don't know what to pray (Romans 8:26). I also understand that there is significant power in calling things that are not as though they are (Romans 4:17), in the exercise of faith, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews11:1). Jesus cautioned His followers not to be "like the babbling pagans" (Matthew 6:7), but still taught them to persist as the relentless petitioner appealing to a judge (Luke 18:1). His instruction was for private, but repeated prayer.

So I have this dilemma: if God doesn't need me to tell Him what to do, and my prayers don't constitute His laundry list anyway, why does He want me to pray at all? There is something about me bringing my will under His that is hugely significant, but that just is not enough of an answer for me anymore. I am growing to believe that there is a link between prayer and our original mandate of dominion.

God's will is done in Heaven but not on earth unless it is called for as in Jesus' example (Matthew 6:10). We are promised that when we ask anything according to the Father's will He hears us and we have what we ask (1 John 5:14-15). When things are awry on Earth then, who is at fault? God, who said there was going to be trouble as long as we inhabit Earth (John 16:33); or Man, who was given dominion but keeps handing it over in preference for convenience, time management, other priorities, entertainment, and just plain apathy?

Even Jesus declared that the devil is a temporary "prince" of this world (John 14:30), but God gave mastery of Earth to us. We have a responsibility to assert our dominion, and, since Eden's fall, prayer is our only remaining connection with God, whose power we utilize for that purpose.

The condition of the world is evidence enough that Mankind is derelict in his duty of prayerful dominion. I have decided that prayer must be a priority, and not just the kind that realigns my spirit with God's, but intercessory, reach out and grab the globe by its horns and shake the devil off his strongholds kind of prayer.

Who's with me?

Caveat: one way I know I'm on to something is the spiritual attacks on me and my household have been intense lately. Be prepared. If you assume this role of prayer warrior and Heaven ambassador, then get ready for the smear campaign.