Saturday, July 7, 2007

"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord THY God is with thee, wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

I was 16 when I discovered this verse. I was preparing for the worst disaster of my young life....BRACES!!! Now I know that you think that is ridiculous, but for me at that point in my life it was REALITY.

I don't do pain. I hate dentists (sorry, Jim) and yet my mother had been talking for years that I was going to have to have braces. Now when I was a kid, very few people had braces. There were no options either, just the beautiful, shiny metal kind that no self respecting teenager wanted. I had said to myself over the years every time she would mention the dreaded word "braces" that if she ever really tried to have them put on me, I would just run away from home.

But, by the time she really got serious about it, I was old enough to know that I had no future if I did. Where would I go? How would I live and support myself? So, the only way to deal with it was to stay and endure. I was terrified to say the least. But at least I had time to prepare. So for several months leading up to "B" day, I sought the Lord every way I could. I guess that was when I first learned how near and real He could really be.

I had a little daily devotional book I read called "Open Windows". It seemed as if God were writing directly to me during those days and I have many things from those devotionals still written in my Bible. They have been an enduring source of comfort to me through the years. This verse, Joshua 1:9, was my lifeline. God was promising He would never leave me. He was encouraging me to be strong, to not be afraid. I clung to that verse more and more as the day neared.

By the time the dreaded day arrived, I had fortified myself with scripture and prayed as hard as I had ever prayed in my life. Though still scared, I knew that God was with me and that He would get me through. It was a life changing lesson for me. I found Him faithful to all that H e had promised. It was one of many times in my life that I would press into Him in times of crisis, yet not once in all these years has He ever failed me. He never will.

I have also been able to share the comfort and assurance of this verse with many others through the years. Although my experience of getting braces was trivial in the great scheme of things, it was a testing ground for me in my life at a crucial point. With each experience of our lives, God teaches us something important about His character, about who He really is. He causes us to press into Him, to try Him and find that He really is always faithful and true. And those experiences are what prepare us for the next crisis in our life. Each one makes us a little stronger and a little stronger, each one teaches us more and more how much He loves us. That is another reason we can praise Him in the storms of life....because we are being drawn closer to Him through each one. My testimony of his faithfulness could be summed up in the words of this song:


In my own doubts and fears
Through every pain, every tear
There's a God who's been faithful to me
When my strength was all gone
When my heart had no song
Still in love, He proved faithful to me
Every word He's promised is true
What I thought was impossible,
I've seen MY God do!
He's been faithful, faithful to me
Looking back, his love and mercy I see
Though in my heart I have questioned
Even failed to believe
Yet He's been faithful, faithful to me.

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