It was the summer of 1973, 3:00 am according to the clock on my bookshelf headboard. I awoke to the smell of a cigarette, a man’s voice, and the feel of pressure on my back.
The man spoke, “Don’t scream. I have a knife.” For the next hour, I was shaken to the core, not knowing whether I would be alive by the time the sun rose. I prayed silently. Fervently. I clearly remember thinking that this was the moment every belief I had was tested. I begged God to protect me in this dire situation, but also remembered the words of Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego. I knew God was able to save me, I just did not know if He would. I remember thinking, “Can God really hear me?” I was home for the summer, and my parents were on the other side of the house. My mom was deaf. Besides, if I spoke I had already been threatened with a knife. I completely and deeply felt the presence of God’s Spirit as I prayed and boldly told the man that he would account to God for his actions and he needed to leave. Much conversation ensued. I never saw his face, thankfully. After nearly an hour, he told me he was leaving and did not know why. I knew why. He left, leaving me unharmed. He had planned to do “everything I had ever read about,” according to him. (If you want to hear more of the story, read My Morning Cup. https://ipibooks.ecwid.com#!/My-Morning-Cup/p/64183403)
This was the first time I was shaken to the core. The second time was last fall, watching my husband die after suffering from a cruel neurological disease. I had prayed faithfully and fervently, believing God could heal him. He could. But he didn’t. Here on earth, that is. He suffers no more and is with the Father. It is times like these that cause me to look inside my heart and ask, “What do I really believe?
The days we are presently living are nothing like we have seen in our lifetime. I have experienced some fearful times as I practiced “Cold War” drills by hiding under my school desk in case an atomic bomb hit (like that would help). I experienced turmoil during the Vietnam War era and 9/11, but I never sent my husband or children off to war. My life has been fairly comfortable, especially compared to many. COVIC-19 has stalled our world, and isolation offers a time to evaluate and determine our deepest core convictions.
This week I am preparing to turn in my final project as I finish my Master’s program. In a small portion of that project, I state my core convictions in eight areas of life including faith, emotions, relationships, finances, health, etc. Each conviction is accompanied by scripture, a goal, and a person to whom I will be accountable. It has been a wonderful exercise which I recommend.
This pandemic has shaken the world’s value system to the core. Thankfully, some values are emerging that have previously felt lost. Prayerfully, this situation has revealed your solid, faith-filled convictions. How is your faith? What do you really believe? Do you truly believe this world is not your home? Do you really believe Jesus rose from the dead and is returning? Do you really believe the only treasures of importance are those we store in heaven? Do you really believe Jesus hears your prayers and will be with you? Do you believe that the Scriptures can show you God, teach you how to please Him and how to love each other? If we believe these things, our contentment will be real. Our hope will make us resilient despite circumstances. Inner peace and steadfast joy cannot be taken from us.
I feel like my last few years, in many ways, have been a training ground for today’s pandemic. I have seen suffering and death “up close and personal” and have been tethered to home for several years. God has stayed close with me in the suffering and He promises to be close to all who are His. Because God lives with me, inside of me, I am never alone and I have something of great value to share with those around me.
My minister and friend, Michael Lamb, shared a quote from Charles Spurgeon that resonates with me. Spurgeon said, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” Can you kiss the waves? The Rock of Ages brings comfort, peace, and joy amidst the waves. I am grateful. I will find that sweet spot in the curl of the wave, riding it all the way to shore.
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Ps 16:7-8)
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah (Ps 62:5-8)
For reflection: What are your core convictions? Try writing them down and accompany them with scriptures. It’s best to know them well before they are tested. If we lack them, we can find and grow them. If our convictions are not solid, we will crumble. If they are solid, we cannot be shaken.
The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,…(Heb 12:27-28)
I am sitting in my bed waiting for our country. ( South Africa’s) lockdown to commence in response to rapidly rising infections of COVID19. Your insights rang true in so many areas. Most people in our country ( myself included) have experienced some violent, criminal attack. Our perception of the source of our security and well-being are tested on so many levels and now particularly so. Thank you for your profound, sincere insights . As one of my “outcomes” during this three week
Lockdown I’m going to follow your challenge and set down in black and white my convictions on the areas you described . My rock of ages can enable me to kiss the waves … past, present and future . Thank you 😊 🙏
It was so wonderful to get to know you in the class. We missed you, but I will send you the recording. Sending love.
Thank you Jeanie…for sharing your heart, experiences, and wisdom gained from them all. ❤️
Thank you, Tanya.
Thank you Jeannie for this message this morning. You and your family have been an example for all the 30 years I’ve been a disciple of faith, hope and love. I am so very grateful to have Jesus as my rock and to be able to trust in him. I love you and pray for you often.
Thank you so much, Carrie. This means a lot to me. Love, Jeanie
What powerful thoughts, Jeanie! Thanks for sharing them with us!
Thank you Sharon. Sending my love.
Thank you, Jeanie, for always bringing us around to what is really valuable and important in life–our faith, our relationships, and our perspective here on earth before the time when we a reunited with each other and our Lord Jesus.
Thank you, Debbie, for your continued encouragement. You inspire me. Love, Jeanie
I became a Christian at Crossroads in 1977 and I still live in Gainesville. I am so sorry for your pain and loss but also so thankful for you sharing your journey and your faith and encouraging words. I needed this today. Thank you!
You mentioned five of the eight aspects of life that you have convictions about. What are the other three?
Thank you for reaching out, Julia. The areas I developed the core convictions included faith, emotions, relationships, theological/intellectual, vocational/ministerial, health/wellness, and resource/stewardship.
You’ve really been tested in your life and I appreciate you being so vulnerable. It seems like the most terrifying occurrences in our lives can be the greatest lessons and faith-builders — if we have a godly perspective. Your life exemplifies that and I’m so grateful that you share with so many of us and give us courage to keep going. It took me a couple of years to stop feeling bitter and angry after my neck was broken, but thankfully the sisters crowded around me and kept my faith afloat. I thank God every day for the fellowship of Christ. I am equally thankful for the sisters I have met through blogging, like you. Thank you, Jeanie
I feel blessed to have met you through blogging. I admire you and am inspired by you. Your vulnerable, raw sharing is so helpful and you are like the Psalmist who brings your laments back to faith and trust. Sending love, Jeanie