Where is God when I need Him?

A shadow grows above my left shoulder and I can’t breathe. Well I can, but it sounds more like controlled gasping. This is the steepest slope I’ve ever climbed. Not on my road bike, in my life. And I’m suffocating.

Where is God when I need Him?

Though I haven’t been able to exercise in two years, the residual strength in my muscles surprises me. Not to brag, but I was exceptionally fit when I got sick. My above average strength was the reason my doctor’s thought I was faking, or crazy. I’ll admit to being a little crazy, but I hate fake.

Unfinished business

My breaths came in rhythmic, audible draws as I shifted into low gear to decrease the resistance in my chain. This ride was monumental, for both of us. My riding companion was my faithful friend who has seen the inside of my junk drawers. We started this race five years ago, but we didn’t finish because she crashed; then I did.

The creeping brown bruise on the back of my left hand was evidence of the IV infusion I received three days earlier. I still swallow nine pills a day, but despite myasthenia gravis, I pedaled thirty-two miles and finished the race. No way could I have done it without my friend. Besides, my kids wouldn’t have let me anyway.

I’m right here

When the road was flat and open she rode beside me, but on the hills or in the crowd she stayed behind. Even when I didn’t see her shadow over my left shoulder, I knew she was there when I recognized her voice in the crowd. Occasionally if I couldn’t see or hear her, I briefly took my eyes off the road and glanced back. When I didn’t spot her, she reassured me,

I’m right here

The mountain I’m pedaling up now is the biggest challenge I have ever faced. I never imagined gasping for air like this. The top is shrouded in fog and I can’t always see where I’m going. Still I keep pedaling and watch for His presence.

Hebrews 13:5, “…Be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ESV

Where are you, God?

He promises to be there. Sometimes I feel Him by my side and other times He seems to lag back where I can’t see Him. My spiritual eyes are darting for reassurance and when He knows I need it, I hear His voice.

Isaiah 50:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.” NIV

I don’t want to walk in it

I would rather coast downhill. THIS, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. Not to brag, but I would not survive if I didn’t have some spiritual muscle beforehand. You can’t wait until you crash to put on your helmet. You can’t wait until your life turns upside down to get into God’s word.

Please don’t think for an instant my spiritual muscle is built by my own strength, I’m talking about:

The word of God hidden in my heart

The truth stored in my marrow

The history and milestones I have with my Savior

I trust Him. He has always been faithful.

Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” HCSB

I am surrounded by friends who are cheering me on. God gives me strength to do what I’m called to do –

I’ll finish the race

2 Timothy 4:6, “You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running.” MSG

Thanks for sharing the ride of my life with me. My thoughts, words and heart are in pieces sometimes. I included lots of links in this post to help you see the landmarks I’ve passed. When you have time, I hope you’ll click on the bolded, underlined phrases for the rest of the story.

How to ruin a friendship

Remember, it is your choice whether or not to read this. I found the perfect book to recommend to a friend who is struggling.

I’m a pusher

Absorbing the wisdom tucked between the pages of the book, an image of her face came to the forefront of my mind. Certain these words would smooth out the wrinkles in her life, I recommended the book to her. Yeah, I may have even bought it for her. I’ve done it at least 3 million times. If you were my patient, you probably were prescribed a book for all manner of ills. Let me just admit – I’m an advice pusher.

Proverbs 22:17, “Listen closely, pay attention to the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge.” HCSB

Good  Intentions vs. Bad Timing

We all know pushers. The food pushers say, “Don’t you want another piece of cake? It’s soooo delicious.” The clothes pushers say, “That is sooo cute, you have to buy it.” Hello, my name is Vickie and I’m an advice pusher. Tell me a problem and I’ll suggest a solution, or a book. It’s not that I’m trying to tell you what to do, I just want to share the freedom I’ve found. Not that I wouldn’t be tickled to tell you what to do, just please understand my motive.

But the reality is, sometimes when you are truly struggling, you don’t want to hear it. It’s the timing that’s the rub.

People ask for help. People need help. Those who have traveled the road should absolutely share their wisdom.

Titus 2:3-6, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

When the helmet meets the road

The steady whoosh of wind in my ears was splintered by a scream. I was forced to take my eyes off the road and crane my neck in time to see a flurry of spokes and tires. They landed sprawled on the asphalt with the right pedal still tethered to the rider’s right foot. My brain scrambled to keep up with tumbling arms, legs and the crunch of the cracking helmet. I don’t remember squeezing my own brakes or unclipping my feet, but within seconds I knelt beside my broken friend. To this day, I’m not sure why she wrecked but I never once thought about chastising her,

You should keep your eyes on the road

You shouldn’t follow so closely

You need to watch for loose gravel

Don’t overcompensate if you swerve

Seriously what idiot would do that? Yet, how many times have I offered advice when I should have offered a hand?

Before you offer advice, offer a hand #friendship Click To Tweet
Does offering advice ruin a friendship?

I knelt and rolled a water bottle under her shattered shoulder. My knees ached as I squatted for 45 minutes waiting for the ambulance. If I wrapped both hands around the bottle and elevated my knuckles her grimace was held at bay. I said little, I simply stayed by her side and tried to ease her pain. Imagine the absurdity if I handed her “The Big Book of Cycling,” and said, “You ought to read this, I think it would help you.” Oh but I am guilty of saying;

You ought to…

Have you tried….

You should…..

Ecclesiates 3:7 ,”A right time to shut up and another to speak.” MSG

The Right Time

People want help and I’m eager to oblige. But at times, I’ve regretted the timing. After a porch visit, the lady stood to leave. Her knuckles blanched as she gripped the handles of her purse. The corners of her mouth strained upward while the pools barely contained in her lower lids threatened to leak onto her cheeks.

“Will you pray for me?”

Words, tears and emotions gushed out as shared her heartbreak. She blew the whistle and cried for a lifeline. We hugged and prayed and talked. I gave advice and….

I recommended a book

I couldn’t help it. I’m an advice pusher. At least I am willing to admit it. Are you?

So how do you know when it’s time to help and when it’s time to hear? Maybe we should push pause and pray.

Waiting for emergency care at the crash scene is certainly not the time to lecture or fix. Sometimes the most powerful action is none, except a listening ear and a comforting presence.

But of course, when they ask, that’s a different story. Remember, it was your choice to read this. I even wrote my own book on forgiveness. Click here to order on Amazon.

If you admit you are an advice pusher share this post. Tell ’em I recommended reading it.

What if it isn’t really rejection?

I nearly ran the woman over with my car before I saw her. My right hand shifted into reverse while my left hand pressed my cell phone against my ear. Glancing at the clock, I knew I was already late to my next appointment. If only I had a third hand to roll down the window. I suspended my call as she leaned in to invite me to lunch.

Sorry, not today.

I wanted to go; I really did, but I couldn’t. I hope she asks again. I also hope my hurriedness didn’t come across as rudeness or even worse, disinterest. She took the risk, extended the invitation and I flat turned her down.

Most of us are guilty of interpreting situations through a distorted lens

DIFFERENT FRIENDSHIPS

Like childbirth, a few come easy but most are hard work. One of my friends is just plain difficult and if I didn’t know better, I’d think she didn’t like me. I have to twist her arm to go to lunch. I keep after her though. I don’t know if she really needs me, but I think I need her. She is stingy with her conversation, yet I wait for her to drop a phrase of wisdom into me. It’s like reaching for a bubble; catch it softly and memorize the iridescent colors before they burst. A couple of rare hours with her I’m filled with a whole month’s worth of one-line treasures. I’m jealous of parts of her life and aspects of my life excel where hers flails. Maybe that’s why we need each other and why we avoid each other.

She has hard struggles, so do I, so do you. Our struggles are different, but can we be friends anyway?

Ephesians 4:29, “Say only what helps, each word a gift.” MSG

WHAT IS A FRIEND?

A friend is “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.”

WHO IS A FRIEND?

Picking the edge with my fingernail, I finally caught the corner of the protective backing. Once started, it smoothly peeled away from the adhesive so I could stick the monogram onto my Yeti mug. There, I smoothed it down so it would stick through washings.

Truly knowing a friend also requires revealing and removing the protective covering. Bonds formed by sharing the secret pains in our souls are stronger than cement. Other bonds are more like scotch tape; over time they lose their adhesiveness and eventually flutter away.

Philippians 3:10, “I want to know Christ-yes to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in death.” NIV

RISKY BUSINESS

God designed us for connectedness, not isolation. How about making a new friend? If a name immediately came to mind, write it in your journal and send a message. Let me know how it works out.

Let me warn you, you may feel rejected. Maybe the message was not returned because it was never received. Haven’t we all typed out a reply text and forgot to hit send? There’s also the possibility her own life is falling apart and she isn’t feeling too social but needs you anyway. Don’t let your friends isolate.

And if someone walks up to your window to invite you to lunch, don’t run over her!

You can't always stay in your corner waiting for others to come #friendship #WinnieThePooh Click To Tweet

Proverbs 12:26, “The godly give good advice to their friends, the wicked lead them astray.” NLT

Cyber relationships are criticized for not being genuine relationships. While I completely agree we need face-to-face, flesh and blood friendships, I feel connected with you. Especially when I hear about your own struggles and victories. Thanks for giving me a little corner of your surf time to speak words of encouragement, not just to you, but ultimately to myself.

 

 

 

How to make a friend

How to make a friend

I clicked on the camera and the same message blocked the screen,

“unable to take photo, not enough storage.”

After all that work, I only freed up a few megabytes

Ugh, my storage is always full. I need a bigger plan. (Read about it HERE)

Moving on to text messages, I scrolled and scrolled and scrolled. I deleted conversations and saved the images to my phone. Yeah, yeah, I realize I replaced some of the photo space I just cleared.

Still need more megabytes

Ok, voice mails; all of those can go. Whew, inbox cleaned out.

Barely chipping away at megabytes

What about apps? I trashed Words with Friends and Sudoku. Second to my online Bible, Facebook is my biggest storage consumer. I don’t remember when I first joined, I only remember why – to keep up with my teenagers and their friends. Now they call it creeping. Whatever, I claim momma’s rights on that one.

WHO KNEW?

Facebook messenger takes up space and private messages can be deleted. Risking acute carpal tunnel syndrome, I swiped and deleted YEARS worth of messages. A particular one in the archives caught my eye:

I would be interested in getting together sometime

Yeah me too.

The old message was from a treasured friend who knows the crazy part of my mind and soul. Some mornings she leaves my porch before 8 a.m. with dried snot and tears on her shirt. I trust her with my life, literally. When my heart was out of rhythm, I called her at midnight to sit with me all night in the emergency room. Hey, paybacks are only fair; I rode in the back of the ambulance with her once, although it was during the daylight hours.

Proverbs 18:24, “Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” MSG

WHAT A RIDE

I’m glad she stuck by me. But understand, when she sent the original message, I barely knew her. Oh,our kids were similar ages, we attended the same church and I even knew her parents, but we were casual friends. She reached out and started a deep friendship.

Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times…” NKJV

 

DO YOU NEED A FRIEND?

 

MAKE THE FIRST MOVE

Our special relationship began with a Facebook message because she didn’t have my cell phone number. Social media opens doors to connect across town or across the globe. But it feels risky, doesn’t it? Often we think everyone else’s dance card is full, when in fact people sit at home and wait for an invitation from someone who is sitting at home waiting for an invitation. Take a chance and trade the standoff for true friendship.

Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” NIV

Reaching out to others helps us untangle our own messy lives.

Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that. ~E.B. White Charlotte’s Web

Do you need a friend?

Get out of your corner

MAKE A MOVE

reaching out to help others helps us untangle our own messy lives #charlotte's web #friendship Click To Tweet

I truly consider all of my readers friends. I hope you are encouraged by my posts. As always, I’d love to hear from you. It’s more fun when you join the conversation.