A Heaven Sent Reminder

A year ago at this time I was dealing with a soggy bag of books sitting on the floor next to the wall air conditioner in a hotel room I rented at a reduced 30-day rate when I thought I was finally about to find some affordable housing in that area within those 30 days. I had stumbled across a publication I found at a grocery store specifically for seniors looking for affordable housing, and I was absolutely giddy with the prospect that my two-plus year hunt (at that time) for low income housing was possibly about to come to a productive end. The publication was filled with apartment complexes in the area that catered to seniors in all income brackets, but as I started working my way through the various ads and contacting the apartment complexes, I discovered that I was not going to get the answer I was looking for (but instead I got more very long waiting lists or being told I didn’t make enough income to rent from them), and unfortunately, the 30-day rate at the hotel was nonrefundable.

The soggy books incident occurred the first week I was at that hotel. The books were in a cloth bag that I placed next to the wall air conditioner located under the window to the room. It was the first time I had been in a room that had a rocker recliner next to the bed, and the recliner was located between the bed and the wall air conditioner. It wasn’t until a day or two later when I got into the bag of books that I discovered, much to my dismay, that the air conditioner had leaked water all over the carpet directly below it and around where the bag of books as well as two suitcases were located, and the bag of books took the greatest toll with the books sopping up the water like sponges into their pages and bindings. Needless to say, they were ruined. I called the front desk to have the maintenance man come and fix the air conditioner (it took him two weeks before he finally got it to stop leaking water all over the carpet), but I was told nothing could be done about the books.

Among the books, there was one small book that I had purchased for my birthday last year about a month before I arrived at this hotel. Unfortunately, it was as waterlogged as the other books, but I decided to see if I could dry it out and still use it (see pics). For several days I placed the book in front of a large box fan opened at various places to try to dry it out section by section, and within a week it was dried; however, it was still very much water damaged (wrinkled, crinkled pages and covers but still very readable). The book is by Joyce Meyer, one of the world’s leading practical Bible teachers, a New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and president of Joyce Meyer Ministries, and it is titled, Let God Fight Your Battles (2015). I guess you could say that book had already been through it’s own soggy battle before I even had a chance to read it.

When I left that hotel a year ago, I also left the city and state where I had been looking for affordable housing since the end of March 2014. I’ve continued the search for affordable senior housing during this past year but, well . . . I have yet to find it. And I’ve been living in a hotel during this past year while looking for it (it’s my only housing option since I can’t find anything to rent on my low income). The other day I ran into this book by Joyce Meyer while I was trying to figure out what to do since I have now spent another year in another city and state looking for the same thing (affordable housing on a very low income) that I spent well over two years doing in that previous city and state, and still the result has been a big, fat Z-E-R-O.

I mentioned in a recent blog post that I discovered on June 21st that I had come down with a case of shingles, and I have to say that in the past two and a half weeks since I was diagnosed, it has left me with very low energy among other things. During this time I have not been my usual perky, energetic self; however, the shingles is running its normal course and it can take up to five weeks to fully recover. All I can say to anyone reading this post who had chickenpox as a child and you are now over 50 years old, you should consider getting the vaccine that can prevent shingles. If I had even had a clue, I would have gotten one by now (and even if you’ve already had a case of shingles, it’s not too late to get the vaccine which is good for six years).

I tend to be a go-getter. Since I have been single all of my life I learned a few decades ago not to wait around for someone to come alongside to help me do anything that I was capable of doing on my own. Sure, the company would be nice but people can be fickle, too. So, if it was something I could do on my own I just did it, whether it was something as small as going to a movie I wanted to see (and not waiting to be asked or trying to find someone to go with me) or as big as a career move that lead me to a different location.

About the time I got shingles two plus weeks ago I was so antsy to move on after being here for a year with no “open door” in the way of low-income housing opening up for me that I was feeling ready to move on again. However, I knew I didn’t want to go back to where I came from as that would be just more of the same losing proposition that I had already spent two plus years going through there with zilch to show for it, and the hotels back there are more expensive, too. It was during this quandary that I came down with shingles, and it put me flat on my back for the first week I had them, too. All I could think about that first week was how not to have shingles anymore. Everything else paled in comparison.

I tend to get very restless when I’m sick, and this shingles episode is no different. By the second week I felt like I was even fighting with God trying not only to get over the shingles but also trying to understand all that I have gone through during these past eight years of first trying at a breakneck speed to find another job for several years after losing my job in Houston eight years ago; and now adding on this frustrating going-nowhere search for low-income housing that has gone on for over three years now. I was well aware (and I reminded God several times, too) of what 1st Corinthians 10:13 states, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” And again I reminded myself of what Jesus told his disciples at the beginning of his parable about the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8. Jesus told them this parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

There’s something about being sick that can bring everything to a frustrating head. It’s like a final straw of sorts. I haven’t yet been able to see how God will provide a way out of my current circumstances, and a few years back when I was still in a massive job search I thought I had an idea of how he was going to do it but it never happened. Then three plus years ago this low income housing search started and only made things worse. By the way, it isn’t news to God that we often think we have him figured out even in some small way when we are actually totally clueless. I’ve revisited Job’s circumstances a few times, too, as regardless of the facts of his particular circumstances compared to our own, we are all guilty of the same thing he was guilty of–presumption–when it comes to God.

There is always far more going on in this world around us than we can ever fully comprehend. We often get so wrapped up in our own small world that we are pretty clueless about “the bigger picture” going on around us. This is actually nothing new. For example, a president of a corporation knows far more about the operation of the entire corporation then the individual employees might know who know enough to do their own particular job within the corporation. Sometimes we might get a sneak peak at “the bigger picture” but it may not be something we ultimately want or need to know because it usually encompasses something far, far greater than us and our own particular set of circumstances.

In this regard, the shingles showed up at a time when I needed to slow down in order to bring my own presumption about my circumstances to my attention as I had reached a point where I was trying to fight a battle that is much, much bigger than I can fight on my own. I couldn’t understand because I couldn’t see the bigger picture, and I was trying to see it so I could try to do something about it to change my circumstances.

Too often, it’s our own “independent spirit” that can get us into trouble. If we who claim to be Christian would really take to heart what Paul told us in Ephesians 6:10-18 about the spiritual realm, we’d stop trying to fight so many battles on our own. Here’s what Paul had to say to us:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV)

Getting back to the soggy book that I kept by Joyce Meyer, here is a section from her book that is important for us to remember:

Total Dependence on God

Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NIV). The first time I read this verse, I had not even begun to realize how true it is. I was a very independent person, and God began highlighting this Scripture to me early in my walk with Him. One of the keys to receiving anything from God is entire dependence on Him. Without faith, we cannot please God (see Hebrews 11:6). Faith is the channel through which we receive from Him, and the Amplified Bible describes faith as the leaning of the entire human personality in absolute trust “in His power, wisdom, and goodness” (2 Timothy 1:5).

We are to lean on, rely on, and depend entirely on God, taking all the weight of our problems and burdens off ourselves and putting it all on Him. Think of it this way: When I plop down in a big easy chair, I am putting my entire dependence on that chair to hold me. I take all the weight off myself and put it all on the chair. It is amazing that we trust a chair more than we do God many times. We often say we lean on God, and perhaps we do partially, but we have difficulty leaning entirely on Him. We often have a backup plan just in case God does not come through. . . .

Without God’s help, we can’t change anything in our lives. We can’t change ourselves, our spouses, our families, our friends, or our circumstances. Truly apart from God, we cannot do anything that will have lasting value and be done correctly.

We often try to figure out things we have no business even touching with our minds, and we forfeit peace and joy by not giving God total control over our lives. Some things are simply too difficult for us understand, but nothing is too hard for God. God is infinite, but we are finite human beings with limitations. God has surpassing knowledge, but ours is limited (see 1 Corinthians 13:9). We know some things, but we don’t know everything. There are some things we just need to leave alone. We won’t ever know everything, but we can grow to a place where we are satisfied to know the One who does know. When we arrive at that place, we enter God’s rest, which also releases joy in our lives.

One of the most liberating things we can say is, “Lord, I don’t know what to do, and even if I did, I couldn’t do it without You. But Lord, my eyes are on You. I am going to wait and watch for You to do something about this situation, because there is absolutely nothing I can do about it unless You give me direction.”

When we are faced with difficult or impossible situations, the enemy may whisper over and over in our minds, “What are you going to do? What are you doing to do?” Our friends may say, “I heard about your situation. What are you going to do?”

These are the times when we should say, “I’m going to do what Jehoshaphat did (see 2 Chronicles 20). I’m going to turn it over to the Lord–and wait on Him. He will do something wonderful, and I am going to enjoy watching Him do it!” (Quote source: “Let God Fight Your Battles,” pp. 14-16.)

Let God Fight Your Battlesis filled with encouraging true stories from the pages of the Bible. The last story in the book that Joyce reminds us of is the story of Queen Esther and Mordecai found in Esther 1-10 (a summary of the story is available at this link). At the end of the story Joyce states the following on page 137:

I believe the encouragement in Esther and Mordecai’s story and throughout this book is something many people need right now–maybe even you. No matter what you are going through or what storms you are facing in life, take your position. Don’t give up. Stand still. Enter God’s rest. See the salvation of the Lord. Quit worrying and trying to figure out everything that is happening around you. And above all, worship God. Remember, no matter what your battle is, it is not yours; the battle belongs to the Lord, and He has a plan to bring you to victory. (Quote source: “Let God Fight Your Battles,” p. 137.)

So don’t give up, do stand still, enter God’s rest, and quit worrying and trying to figure out everything that is happening around you. Worship God, and remember . . . .

No matter what your battle is . . .

It is not yours . . .

The battle belongs to the Lord . . . .

YouTube Video: “Revelation Song” by Phillips, Craig & Dean:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 and #3 taken by me
Photo #4 credit here

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