Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me… Psa. 23:4
The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deut. 31:8
One thing I am learning after everything we’ve been through the past couple of years is that God never leaves me. Through all of my ups and downs, highs and lows, success and failure, good and bad behavior, He still is with me. Of course He was here when I chose to give my life to Him 23 years ago and grew with Him as a baby Christian throughout college. But He stayed with me when after that I got married and subconsciously decided that since I now had my husband, I didn’t need Him any more. He remained with me even when I was trying to ignore Him. He continued to pursue me and woo me and call me back, and thankfully He is persistent, because He succeeded.
He was with me the many years after that of married life during my long, gradual restoration to Him and slow growth in Him in which not a lot seemed to happen and you could have called me lukewarm. But no one else could see what He was doing on the inside. He had His master plan all along, continuing to lead me where He wanted me.
He was with me five years ago during a spiritual high. After convincing me that, though I had everything I could basically want physically, I was lifeless and depressed because I had not given Him everything. Then He amazed me with His love for me. I just could not believe that He could possibly love me that much. I still can’t believe it, and it continues to constantly amazes me to the point where it is that which I now am driven to try to convince other people of. And so I almost couldn’t resist agreeing to give Him everything, with His help, which launched me on the most amazing adventure of my life! I became amazed and captivated by Him and He was all I could think about.
Looking back, I believe one of the reasons for the previous experience was to enable me to survive the next chapter in our lives. A couple of years later, my husband lost his home-based business of 14 years. I’ve written about it many times over the past couple of years! Our life of comfort that I took for granted was changed forever. After having my husband home 24 hours a day, what had become the norm for the kids and me, he lost the business. He trained in the only thing that he knew would be hiring a middle-aged person starting over in his career. He became a truck driver and drove over the road for the first year. We saw him very little, and when we did, he was exhausted. He not only drove 12-14 hours a day but manually unloaded the entire truck, box by box, to the stores. He worked so hard he could not maintain his weight and became unhealthy.
Thankfully he has found other jobs since then that have kept him closer to home. But the jobs have been difficult and low paying. Finances, which were always fairly comfortable for us in the past, have now continued to be a challenge. We have had many months where we had no idea how we would pay the bills. But amazingly, during the past two and a half years of this uncertainty, every bill has been paid. God has provided for every need, as promised.
In addition to having my husband gone more often and struggling financially, we lost our church family of nine years, I had to go go back to work after being home for 14 years, and last year we also struggled with an illness with my older daughter that took a long time to diagnose and created a lot of fear, uncertainty, and eventually led to her being out of school for the second half of the year. It pushed me to where I had trouble trusting God because it seemed that it was up to me to figure it all out. Of course it wasn’t. He had it all figured out. And God was still with me through our lowest times.
I struggled to trust Him. I struggled with anger at him. I doubted Him, His goodness. I sent myself into despair and hopelessness. Because once we decide God may no longer be good or trustworthy, our whole foundation for hope and security is shattered. It is a scary place to be. But God did not give up on me then either. He patiently walked with me through my valley of the shadow of death. He even walked with me when my anger was turned towards Him, holding my hand. He did not leave, patiently leading me through.
There were times during all this that I just didn’t feel I could maintain a relationship with Him like I should. I didn’t have anything left to give Him. There was nothing. And that is when I found out that He was still with me. Even when I have nothing left. He is still there. And that is the lesson, right? When all else fails, when my strength fails, my ability to cope, my ability to respond in relationship to Him, my ability to give Him anything at all, He Is. He is enough. He is enough to maintain our relationship with Him. He is our strength. He carries us. He is here, always, to the very end of life on earth and then beyond.
It is an amazing lesson that I am learning, His constancy, which is not dependent on me. What a relief! Because I’m quite unreliable and inconsistent and emotional. It gives us such a sense of security. When I cannot do anything else, He will still be here to carry me through. Whether I have everything or nothing left, I can rest in the fact that He will never leave me and will carry me through to the end.
Praise You God for Your amazing constancy, patience, and committment, Your Love, that sees us all the way through this life and when we have nothing left, even picks us up and carries us ever so tenderly. We love You. Amen.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, no anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 8:38-39
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