The winner of last week’s drawing for Jennifer Moye’s (Tuesday’s guest) soon-to-be-released book A Gospel Christmas is…. Rebecca Lynn, who commented on Anna’s blog. Anna will be in touch with you on the details of your gift. Thanks you for visiting and commenting on Anna’s post.
Today we meet Lindi. I have known Lindi for several years. She is a tender hearted, Godly woman and shares with us from her heart as one who has struggled to know her own worth, or believe God would lavish so much love upon her. Lindi has seen hardships, and shines the light of God’s glory through her father’s M.S, her mother’s battle with cancer and the loss of her son)). Each broken place is radiant with God’s perfect peace.
Wendy: “Lindi, who is your favorite character in the Bible, one you most relate to, and why?
Lindi: “This question was difficult for me. My first thoughts on the matter were that I wasn’t nearly as good as anyone in the Bible and to relate myself to any of them would be giving myself credit I know I don’t deserve. I am not putting myself down, just being real about the struggle of being a faithful follower. I struggle continually with keeping my quiet time, with holding my tongue when I become frustrated or angry, and with being patient with myself and others as we try to “do” life and please our Heavenly Father (let alone selfishness, wrong priorities, and the like). As I was pondering the question and praying for wisdom and direction, the Lord brought to my mind a woman named Gomer. Yikes! Gomer?! You know, the adulterous woman that God told Hosea to marry? Yes, Gomer.
First of all, I want to be very clear that I don’t relate to Gomer in the literal sense of her adultery. I have not been unfaithful to my husband. I love my husband very much, and although marriage is one of the most difficult things I have ever tried to “get right,” we are committed to each other because of Christ. However, God has shown me that I can very easily relate to Gomer’s infidelity in a spiritual sense. It seems God was using Gomer to show Hosea, and ultimately me, how very like her and His chosen people I can be.
Imagine the pain of seeing Israel continually leave His love, presence and protection to run into the arms of other gods – to find their joy and delight in created beings. He has used Gomer to reveal the nature of my heart at times to run to places other than Him to find love, acceptance and joy. How many times have I run to a friend to spill my woes before I’ve approached my Heavenly Father with the burden? How often have I, in my need for self-worth, taken on a project to hear the praise of people for a job well-done, when Jesus was already showing me my worth in His Word that I had not taken time to read? How many times have I relished in the joy of laughter and love with family and friends and not taken time to praise the One who gave me these dear people? Oh, yes, I can relate to Gomer.
Hosea 2:5b tells us that Gomer said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.’ I say “I will talk with my friend, who gives me much comfort”, “I will wow the world with my talent”, and “ My family and friends give me so much joy!” How many times have I gone to the world and its pleasures to fill my deepest needs?
A few verses later in Hosea 2:7-8 it says: “She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.’ She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold- which they used for Baal.” When will I realize that God is the One who gives me what I need? When will I finally run to Him first, in joy and in pain, and not just out of convenience?
In chapter 3 of Hosea, it says “The LORD said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” Wow, to be pursued by a lavishly-loving God, to be taken back, time and time again. When will I realize that the LOVE of my life is waiting for me, loving me, seeking me out, while I am off finding joy in another?
All of my struggles can be wrapped up in this: I am not being wholly faithful to the One who loves my soul, to the One who created me and called me. Yes, I can relate to Gomer.
Ephesians 3:17b-19 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled, to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Wendy: “Lindi, thank you for shining such an insightful light on Gomer. Truly, I’d never thought of her this way. How we all could stand to see how lavishly we are loved and ask ourselves if we are accepting God’s great love. This story in scripture is often overlooked.
I can see His word means so much to you. What is one of your favorite Scriptures and why does it mean so much to you?”
Lindi: “Choosing one verse that I love is hard. Right now one that keeps coming to mind is Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” When I keep my relationship with the Lord and don’t “run around” on Him, my heart is at peace and I know my worth. When I run to others I lose sight of His perspective and my heart lacks peace. I also dearly love Psalm 139. So many times, in tears and pain, I have sought comfort from God’s Words there. A place He shows me who I am, through His eyes.”
Wendy: “What events, circumstances or struggles in your life have been and/or continue to be your deepest valleys?”
Lindi: “One of the major circumstances in my life that has been a valley for me is my father’s illness. My mom and dad were married in 1971 and only a few short years later my dad, in his late 20’s, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He lost his job pretty much immediately, causing my mom with two small children, to be the bread-winner for our family. I don’t really remember the early days, except for the fact that my dad was the one at home when I got back from school. It didn’t bother me much then. However, when I was in 5th grade he suffered from another attack, which greatly debilitated him and caused him to be in the hospital for what seemed like forever. My brother and I saw a great example of faithfulness from my mom. She was by his side for everything and worked diligently to make things somewhat normal for us. We got passed around quite a bit back then, but we managed fine. My dad’s abilities had greatly decreased. Though I am sure he longed to be a typical dad, he was not able to do the things that most boys and girls need their dad to do for them and with them. He was wheelchair bound, but was still able to get about with my mom’s help. However, it didn’t take long for me to feel some embarrassment when he was with us out in public. I don’t know why I was ever ashamed. Now I understand some of the courage and faith it takes for my dad to live the life that God has chosen for him.
As the years went by, his abilities continued to decline. Soon enough he was able to do very little on his own. I am not sure when I started realizing how important dads are to little girls. Looking back, though, I can see that I longed for someone to make me feel special. I made some poor choices out of my need, but God used them to expose my real need to find my worth in Christ. There are still days when I struggle greatly with self-worth. I fall prey to the thought that I am not worthy of love, that I am inadequate and that I am a failure. I wonder why God ever put me on this earth. But when I am walking in faith, hand-in-hand with Jesus, the struggle and the valley it comes from, actually bring me closer to my Savior. How can I doubt His lavish love, even in the valley, when he uses it to draw me into a deeper relationship with Him?
I am very thankful for my dad. I haven’t been angry because he couldn’t be what I think I needed. I think I have only ever felt sadness, for me and for him. I am sure he struggled greatly because he desired to provide for his family, but God didn’t allow it. He is now in a nursing home. (If you would take a moment and pray for him, it would bless my heart! He is a Christ-follower and loves Jesus very much.)
My dear, faithful mom, who cared for my dad for almost 40 years, passed away in December 2011. Her death was another valley that still grieves my heart. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August 2011 and died just over 3 months later. God allowed me to spend those last months with her and to be by her side when God called her home. It was awful and beautiful all at the same time. We were close and I grieve because she was a friend that I can’t replace. I grieve because she loved me and helped me to learn and grow and I can’t thank her anymore. I grieve because she will never see my kids grow up. Sometimes in my heart I wonder why life has to be so very hard. In those moments I have to choose to lean on Jesus who reminds me that I am not alone and that He will one day make all things right. I trust His provision for my need of a Savior, through his death, burial and resurrection, as did my mom and so many before her. I will see her again when I meet Jesus in Glory.
Because of these valleys, I have scars and wounds. When I choose to act like Gomer, my wounds fester. When I run to the lover of my soul and hide in the shadow of His wings, I find the marks of healing and I experience hope. Why do I ever give in to the temptation to act like Gomer?”
Wendy: “Lindi, thank you for sharing these are certainly places that are hard to navigate through.
In what ways have you experienced God’s nearness in these valleys?”
Lindi: “I have experienced God’s nearness in these valleys through His Word and through His people. His Word reminds me of the things that I have forgotten, like Psalm 139, which tells me that I cannot go anywhere outside of His presence; or, like Philippians 1:6, which reminds me that He finishes what He starts; or, like James 1:17 which reminds me that every good thing comes from His hand and that He never changes. His people have surrounded me: praying for me, cheering me on, providing for physical needs, and reminding me of His greatness.”
Wendy: “Often, people apologize to us for these deep valleys: for the loss, the grief or the hard of our journey, wishing they could take it all away. What would you like to say to people whose hearts ache reading of your valley?”
Lindi: Well, God has often given me a heart of compassion for hurting people and so I am one of those who would apologize to someone for their deep valley experiences. I think I can understand the motive or the heart behind this sort of apology. In my experience, most people wish that their friend did not have to feel such overwhelmingly difficult pain or circumstances that leave them feeling broken and paralyzed. Their desire is usually to communicate their love and desire for goodness and blessing for their friend, the opposite of what they sense the other is experiencing. That being said, I like to think it gives us opportunity to tell them about God’s goodness through the storms and valleys of life; to tell of His provision, His comfort and healing. I guess I would thank them for their presence in my difficulty (some people just run, not knowing what to say), for their love and concern. I would tell them that Jesus is carrying me and I am learning, through this valley, just how dependable and faithful He is. I would tell them He is teaching me to trust. I would ask them to pray that I would be willing to let Him use these circumstances for my good and His glory.”
Wendy: “I what ways have you seen God minister to others through your deep valleys?”
Lindi: “It’s interesting to see how God can use our pain to help someone else through theirs. One of the valleys that I did not mention earlier was the loss of one of my children. God called one of my babies home to heaven before I even got to meet him. He died in my womb at around 16-weeks’ gestation. Because of his size, I had to go in for delivery. I got to admire the beautiful body that God had given him, but I have not yet gotten to meet the person God created him to be. His name is Seth Nathaniel, meaning ‘chosen, gift of God.’ I long to meet him in heaven when I get there.
Since the time God called Seth home, He has allowed me to share His love and comfort with at least 2 other mothers that went through similar losses. I don’t know if these ladies were/are Christ-followers or not, but I shared Jesus’ love, His heart and the comfort with which I had been comforted. I pray that seeds were planted in their hearts.”
Wendy: “What obstacles have stood in the way of the ministry God has called you to through the hard? And how have you responded to these obstacles?
What has worked against community from forming or being built up through the hard? How have you and others responded to these obstacles?
Lindi: “One of the obstacles that I face in trying to allow God to use my pain and heartache to bless others is fear and inadequacy. When I see others in circumstances or valleys that I have seen myself in, I often feel fear that people will misunderstand my motives or that I will say something that only makes the pain greater. Other times, I feel like what I went through can’t even compare to the pain that they must be feeling and that my words will only be inadequate and futile. I think the only way to combat those feelings is to take them to the Lord and rely upon the Spirit to lead. That’s hard to do. It’s hard to be still and wait on the Spirit. It takes lots of time and practice listening to him so I can recognize his voice and then have faith that He will take care of the details.”
Wendy: “What is one piece of advice you’d like to leave with our readers from your journey through your hard thus far?”
One thing I know and have experienced is this: everything that God allows or initiates in our lives is out of His deep love for us. Nothing comes to us out of whim, indifference or inattention. We can trust the heart of God to use everything in our lives for our good and His glory when we respond in trust. I have no doubt about this.
We’d like to invite you to go into the draw to win a copy of Kara Tippetts’ and Jill Lynn Buteyn’s beautiful book Just Show Up. Just comment on today’s post or this Friday’s and we’ll put your name in the draw. Commenting on both posts gives puts your name in the draw twice.
Kara Tippetts’s story was not a story of disease, although she lost her battle with terminal cancer. It was not a story of saying goodbye, although she was intentional in her time with her husband and four children. Kara’s story was one of seeing God in the hard and in the good. It was one of finding grace in the everyday. And it was one of knowing “God with us” through fierce and beautiful friendship.
In Just Show Up, Kara and her close friend, Jill Lynn Buteyn, write about what friendship looks like in the midst of changing life seasons, loads of laundry, and even cancer. Whether you are eager to be present to someone going through a difficult time or simply want inspiration for pursuing friends in a new way, this eloquent and practical book explores the gift of silence, the art of receiving, and what it means to just show up.o