Did You Know?

I look at hearts for a living. I assess their function, blood flow, sizes, and valves. All day long I get to watch them beating. Something we rarely think about and honestly take for granted.

Because I use an ultrasound machine to visualize them, I work in a dark room most the time. When the lights go off, the test begins. This morning, as the lights went out, my patient asked if this was also a sleep study. I laughed and said “You’re welcome to sleep through it if you want to, your heart beats the same awake or asleep. The results will be the same.” It was then, that the thought came to my mind of how we can take the love of God for granted in the same way. It’s present and consistent every bit as much as our physical hearts are beating in our chests. Awake or asleep.

We don’t think about the fact that our hearts beat all day and all night from the time we are conceived until we pass away…We don’t notice them unless they are racing or hurting or skipping. And then we get concerned and get them checked on…or should. Just like the love of our God who created them, we don’t notice or recognize His consistent and unfailing love. This is how the quote by C.S. Lewis rings so true to me…

Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

My ultrasound machine suddenly makes patients aware of their heart that has been working for them their whole lives.

Just like it’s in our physical pains and concerns that we get our bodies checked on and become more aware of what they’ve done for us all our lives or what they “should” be doing now that they aren’t, it’s in our pain where we usually wake up to His love. The love we crave. The love that has always been there and has never stopped. More than likely it’s because our pain causes us to cry out for Him. Just like we call an ambulance or a doctor in a physical emergency, we call out to our God. And, He is so thankful we do. I imagine Him saying “I’m here child, I’ve always been right here.”

As amazing as the human body is, it was created by an even more amazing God. A loving Father who didn’t put us on this earth to condemn us or to scowl at us, but to love us. He doesn’t need us, He chose us. He made us with eternity together in mind.

Even those who don’t choose Him, He lovingly lets go. He would never force our love and knows that if He did that wouldn’t be love at all. He chose us first. He loved us first. He loved us always. He loves us still.

Many of my patients watch their hearts beat on the screen in amazement, sometimes it grosses them out and they can’t watch at all, and sometimes they sleep through it. Oftentimes, I hear how amazing the technology and the organ itself is when it’s in their face and they are actually able to see it. It is truly amazing that we can visualize our hearts beating inside our chests with no cutting or surgery these days. Watching their hearts beat usually leaves them with a sense of awe and awareness they didn’t come in with. And, for those it doesn’t, I wish it would. It does for me too when I take the time to consider what I’m actually looking at.

Take a moment to think about how God’s love has never left you. It made you. It was with you in that situation, at that moment, when you were completely unaware. When you didn’t believe it, when you thought you didn’t need it, when you didn’t want it, when you walked away, when you felt completely alone. When they said that. When they did that. When you did. His love was there. Always beating for you.

Is your heart beating right now? Regardless of what you’re doing or what you’ve done. God loves you too.

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In the Ring…

A boxing match kept coming to my mind….The punches, the spit, the blood, the countdown, the adrenaline, the exhaustion…

I’m not a fan of boxing. I don’t like watching others fight for fun or money. But, I know many are. I admire the athleticism and endurance it takes to fight, but I still don’t like to watch it. This correlates perfectly with the punches we take on in this life. It’s not pretty to watch others get hit over and over and it doesn’t feel good to be hit so hard that your head spins and your “teeth” fall out.

Do you ever feel like you are in a battle? Like you may get hit multiple times in one day and then out of nowhere once you manage to get up on to your feet, you’re taken down again? Each and every time you wonder if this may be it? The big one. The KO. But, it’s not. You wake up the next day with one heck of a shiner, feeling weak and sore from the fight, but a little bit stronger and quite honestly surprised you’re still going.

If you feel like you are in a battle, it’s because you are. And it’s warring every day. We are in a battle and it’s not against flesh and blood. It’s not with the people throwing the punches or our own bodies. It’s not with the bank or your boss. It’s not with your spouse or your ex. It’s not with your parent or your child.

Paul writes…

 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)

Our opponent thrives on division, wars, conflict, stress, and despair. His MO is to give us a KO. To knock us out of the running. To keep us from sharing that God is LOVE, still loves, will always love. To keep us from sharing how He works and how He is already wearing the Championship belt.

He doesn’t call us to fight as the world fights, but in the Spirit. In truth, peace, faith, His Word, and prayer. (Ephesians 6) This is war against an enemy who wants the EXACT opposite. He’s relentless in his pursuit to deceive, steal peace, intimidate, keep you away from the Bible, and away from heartfelt sincere prayer. I know this…because I’m fighting too.

When we fight with the weapons of the Holy Spirit, even to exhaustion, God promises…”no weapon turned against you will succeed.” (Isaiah 54:17)

In the heat and hurt of the battle, remember that He helps us fight our enemy. We are not on our own. It may feel daunting when you see that next fist coming at you, but his days are numbered and yours are infinite in the mighty hands of Jesus.

In preparation for this article, I looked up the word “Uppercut”. It’s defined as follows: “The uppercut is a punch used in boxing that travels along a vertical line at the opponent’s chin. It is, along with the cross, one of the main punches that count in the statistics as power punches.”

How fitting. I don’t know what a cross punch is, but it is because of the Cross that we have victory. No matter how beat up you feel, chin up fighter. I’m cheering you on, praying you through, and fighting in the ring next to yours.

But Why?

question

The ultimate question when things go wrong…….but why? I have my fair share of the same question. There are so many whys in this world. Why did she get sick? Why didn’t I get that job? Why didn’t he love me? Why didn’t God save my marriage? Why didn’t that relationship work? Why did a tornado hit that neighborhood? Why did it hit mine? Why does that person have a problem with me? Why did that child have to die? Why???

These questions will boggle our minds and test our faith. They can make us turn TO God for comfort and refuge or AWAY from Him in anger and disgust. Consider the story of Job in the Bible. God allowed him to be tested above and beyond what most of us have ever had to experience. Job was a Godly man with a blessed and happy life. He was a better person than most of us and the Lord allowed him to be tested more than most of us. First, his livestock died therefore his income was gone, then his children died (all of them), then his body was covered in painful sores, then his wife and his friends turned on him in disgrace, and he was left to wonder WHY Lord?? His story will leave us scratching our heads as well. What on earth did he do to deserve this? Why on earth would God allow that? How much can one person take? It’s just not fair!

I love God’s response to Job’s questions: “Job, have you ever walked on the ocean floor? How large is the earth? Who carves out a path for thunderstorms? Do you control the stars or set in place the Big Dipper? When lions are hungry, do you help them hunt? Can you count the clouds or pour out their water on the soil?” These questions are all from Job 38 (CEV). Wow! I mean, touché.

These answers may come off as insensitive when we are grieving and craving only comfort and need relief. The truth lies in the fact that an explanation won’t comfort us, only the presence and love of  God will. Some of the questions we want so badly to know the answers to may actually cause us more pain. Do you REALLY want to know why he or she doesn’t love you? Do you REALLY want to know all the details? I mean….ouch. The pain is already bad enough. Take the pain and turn it over to a God who loves you unconditionally. Ask Him to carry it because it is just too heavy and hurts too much. When our hearts are broken, He wants in so badly.

I believe one of the ways God loves us in a crisis situation is by sheltering us from some of these answers. Instead of demanding answers, maybe we should ask different questions.  Questions like: How do I forgive him for that? How can I show her love when she treats me that way? How do I stand up to him the way You want me to? How do I respond to that? What do I do with this broken heart? How do I deal with this anger? What do I do with this pain? How do I move forward from this? I believe His response to these questions is always positive. First, He’s thankful we are turning TO Him no matter the reason. Second, He wants us to be honest with Him and get real. Tell Him how much it hurts and tell Him why. This is how a relationship is formed. Yes, He already knows, but He wants us to come to Him about it. He wants to have dialogue, even if it’s messy and angry. Any communication is better than none.

Questions and pain are something we all have in common. How we deal with them is what sets us apart. We need to make peace with the fact that only God may know why and that’s for the best right now. And, we need to RUN to His arms when we are hurt. Don’t run the other direction. Let Him hold you and comfort you when the pain runs deep.

When our children get hurt, they naturally crawl, limp, run, or cry out to us for help. We should be just as inclined to cry out to Him when we are hurt. Sometimes the pain is our fault, sometimes it’s an accident, sometimes it’s inflicted by someone else, and sometimes we’ll never get our answer this side of Heaven. What matters most is that we turn TO our Heavenly Father when it hurts. This will not only heal our hearts sooner but it will also prevent us from hurting others in the process.