I admit it — the only way I got through high school math was because of Todd Williams! Almost every morning before class I was in a state of panic until I found him in the hall and begged him for help with my homework. I gave him gum and candy and a thousand thanks and he tried his best to help me survive algebra. I squeaked by with a C and I give Todd the credit for lifting me to the level of my glowing mediocrity.
It’s not any better today. If I have to count, I still use my fingers and break out into a sweat if one of my kids asks me a math question from their homework.
Here’s what is totally weird — I can do retail math. Give me a clearance rack in Macy’s and I morph into a mathematical genius — I can tell you exactly how much that cute blouse costs if it is 20% off the lowest price with an additional 15% off, subtracting the $17 from my gift card — in less than five seconds! It’s freaky. I am like a living, breathing retail calculator!
But, there is a math I am learning now while I am in the glorious middle of my life — a math I am trying to get really good at by doing it every day. I’m learning to number my days.
Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. (Psalm 50:15 NKJV)
God promises He will deliver us. So… how is that promise working out for you? Have you asked God to deliver you, but still find yourself sick or sad or scared or stuck? If He is our Deliverer, why isn’t He delivering on His promise?
Sometimes the way God keeps His promises is painful for us. And sometimes we don’t even realize He is delivering us because we don’t recognize the way He does it.
If you are sick or sad or scared or stuck, I want to show you the ways God delivers you.
We all have stuff in our lives that we could easily define as problems. Go ahead, insert yours here! The car breaks down. The roof is leaky and it’s been raining since Tuesday. Your dog… well, you know what dogs do to the carpet! You get it, problems.
Then, there are some things in our lives that we think are problems, but in actuality, they are facts which create problems.
Okay, okay… stay with me. This will make sense and it can really make a difference in your life.
When I went to China, I got to meet some of Phil’s students. Oh, I guess I should tell you that was the reason we got to go on such an amazing once-in-a-lifetime trip; Phil was invited to teach at Liaoning Normal University in Dalian, China. While we were there, I got to visit his Venue Management class and meet his students.
Phil had told them I was blind and they were curious and asked lots of the usual questions like, “How do you ___?”(fill in the blank). There are a million “How do you do___? ” kinds of questions when you’re blind, but one young woman’s question totally blew me away — it was very revealing.
In broken, but very good English, she asked: “When you became blind, were you afraid people would be ashamed of you or your family would not love you?”
We all have it. It’s that thing in us that we don’t talk about because we don’t know how to put words to it. It’s that feeling that rises in us and makes our throats tighten and our voices tremble.
It’s the disquiet in our soul, the ache we always feel but never get used to; the silent companion who takes up too much room in our hearts. It’s our unspoken broken.
The mom who tries to manage her mentally ill adult son — she feels the sting, the ache. When you see her on Sunday and she smiles and hugs you and asks how your week went, can you hear what is not said? Can you hear her unspoken broken? It is there, screaming to be heard and held and helped.
As a college student, I volunteered at a youth camp for several summers. Most of the time, I led worship and hung out with the girls, but this night, the altar was full of teenagers and the youth minister asked if I would help counsel. Within 10 seconds of my “yes,” a young man made a beeline to me. He was middle school-aged. I knew his name but that was all I knew. I asked him why he came to the front and he told me it was because he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart.
I reviewed what that meant with him and then asked him to pray with me. “Nope.” was all he said.
Okay, so this is not what I expected! It made no sense. I explained the gospel and asked him again. “Do you want to pray to receive Christ?”
I asked “Do you understand?” He answered, “Nope.”
So, I explained again and thought we had a breakthrough. Again I asked, “Do you want to receive Christ?” You guessed it! “Nope,” was his answer.
I was so frustrated and confused. I hadn’t had much experience with middle school boys, but, seriously? I just couldn’t tell if he was rebellious, pulling my leg or truly didn’t understand.
The youth minister must have seen me looking totally perplexed and helpless so he rushed over.
I found an old tattered audio book at our local used book store. It was recorded on cassette, so you can imagine how old it is, but I bought it because it was by Elisabeth Elliot. Oh my goodness! I am such a big fan so this audio book is a treasure — she even reads it herself. The book is called These Strange Ashes and it’s about her first year as a missionary to a small group of native women in the Ecuadorian jungle. She is gut-honest about her doubts and questions and the cost of obedience.
In the book, she recounts an African legend about Jesus. It is not in the Bible — it never happened! It’s a made-up story, but the message sure does preach the truth. The legend hit me right in the heart and made me consider why I obey the Lord… for whom do I carry the stone?
Do you need comfort from God? Is there somebody in your life who needs comfort?
I sure did.
Last fall, I was crumbling on the inside. I didn’t feel strong at all. I traveled every weekend, and in between, I flew to Florida to be with my dad who was very sick. One Sunday morning, Phil and I headed to the airport, for probably the ninth week in a row. I had flown home the night before from Virginia super late and I was tired on Sunday morning. But, I tried to think of one good thing to focus on because I was so discouraged and felt so empty, alone and weak. “Heroes coffee!” I decided I would get a cup when I got to the airport.