“For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” ~Hebrews 13:14
Dear praying friends,
I apologize in advance that this entry is very long. God has been grabbing my heart the last few weeks, both through circumstances and through what He has been teaching me about Himself. If you don’t have time to read this entry in its entirety, please read the updates about Sono and Joni at the end of this journal entry. Thank you for your patience with my processing through this topic. This has been the hardest one for me to write. I so want to handle accurately the Word of truth and not make the blog about me. I long to encourage not only my heart as I preach the gospel to myself, but yours as well. I pray the Lord may bring you fresh grace and life in His name!
THE KINGDOM OF GOD…NOW AND TO COME
This past weekend, my children and I attended our church retreat where we considered the topic of the kingdom of God. As we sat with our brothers and sisters in Christ listening to the teaching, worshiping together and fellowshipping over meals, I was struck anew at what a unique privilege we have as the people of God to walk in the love and unity that the life-changing power of the gospel makes possible! It is a joy that is unequaled by very little else in this life, and our time together reminded me that one day this joy will not only remain forever, but will also be overflowing in its completeness!
For being citizens of God’s kingdom here on earth is only a foretaste of what being in the kingdom of God will be like when we get to heaven. Though our time here living as Christ’s people is sweet—so sweet—it is still incomplete. And even though we have been given every spiritual blessing in Christ in the heavenly places, our redeemed lives are still mingled with the reality of sin and death.
The sweetness of Christ we taste and the sweetness of walking with God’s people we experience in this life, is only a down payment of what, in its fullness is yet to come. I’m learning that much of what we experience as believers has both an “already there and not yet” aspect to it. We see the evidences of God’s kingdom here on earth, yet must wait for its perfect fulfillment in heaven, when all things will be made new (Revelation 21:1-7).
This facet of God’s kingdom was profoundly driven home to me in the last two weeks, particularly two Sundays ago while listening to Pastor Mark Mullery from one of our sister churches preach on the topic of “Miraculous Healing.” It was the most biblical exegesis I have ever heard from the Scriptures on this topic, and I only wish Chris could have heard this sermon while he was still alive. (For those interested in hearing it, it is available for download here via this link: http://www.gracecommunity.ws/node/7331)
THOUGHTS ON PRAYING FOR HEALING
I’ve always believed God can supernaturally heal. His Word teaches it (I Corinthians 12:1-11) and I’ve seen Him do it, not only with my twins, but many times in my own and others’ lives. I know as well that ALL healing comes from the Lord, whether by natural processes or by miracles. Yet, at times over the years I found it difficult to reconcile praying for Chris (and others) to be healed with what seemed to be God clearly orchestrating circumstances otherwise.
The role of faith when it comes to healing seemed to place a greater burden on me than on God. It wasn’t that I felt I was responsible if someone I prayed for didn’t get healed, but it did have the effect of making it harder for me to pray boldly for someone’s healing, particularly Chris’s, when it seemed that God had definitely decided to only have him get worse with the MS.
That’s not to say that I didn’t pray. I prayed for 15 years that the Lord might lift the awful disease of MS off my husband’s shoulders. This also isn’t to say that God didn’t hear our prayers! God did reveal mercy again and again to Chris, preserving him from breaking a single bone, even though he fell hundreds of times. The Lord did deliver him from depression and mental oppression on several occasions. My Father also brought about relief and some sense of healing from some of the effects of MS countless times in the 15 years Chris had it.
GLORIFYING GOD IN OUR HEARTS
God chose ultimately, however, not to heal Chris but instead, to let the power of Christ be shown through his weakness. As Mark Mullery pointed out in his sermon, God is glorified when we believe Him and suffer well (in faith), as well as when we believe Him by faith and are healed. What glorifies God isn’t the healing as much as the expression of faith in our hearts before an unbelieving world that God does and can heal and is worthy of our trust whether He heals us now in this life or later in eternity (Luke 18:40-42).
Oh, how God loves to repair and heal all that which is broken! Nothing that isn’t whole (body, mind, heart and spirit) is outside the realm of God’s love and care. He encourages us to bring every need before Him, crying out for His mercy and rescue. Pastor Mark said that “God is actively involved in every aspect of all of life, and there isn’t a single moment in which God isn’t working and very personally and intimately involved. Miraculous healing is just a less common way God heals. He is always healing in many and various ways.”
I think I’m learning that the role my faith plays concerning healing fits with the “already there and not yet” reality of His kingdom. His Word tells me to come to Him in faith and ask Him to restore and mend, believing that He can, and ask for His grace to trust Him when He doesn’t answer my prayers the way I want Him to. Faith in Him regardless of the outcome of our prayers brings Him glory!
GOD’S KINGDOM & WAITING FOR HIS PROMISES
Every day we see the evidence of God’s kingdom in many ways. Yet, because the kingdom of God has not yet come in all its fullness, God at times chooses to allow some brokenness to remain in our lives, so that the glory of His goodness, love and power can be seen in us as we walk out our days trusting in Him and His goodness, love and power.
The heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11 were called such, not only because they did great deeds for God. They were heroes because they believed in God, even when they did not receive the promise in their life (Hebrews 11:39). They believed in the future fulfillment of ALL God’s promises in His eternal kingdom and this brought much glory to His name!
Oh, you who are broken and weary, if you are in Christ, you have been the recipient of God’s greatest healing, that of the regeneration of your heart and soul! Your life is made new in Christ, and His Spirit seals this with a promise—you will rise again and reign with Him forever in heaven! Is this not cause for great joy?
You may not see the fulfillment of God’s kingdom in your broken marriage being healed, in your body being restored, in seeing every one of your children follow after God and walk joyfully in His Word. Yet, even if you don’t experience these things, the promise of God is for you. We believe that God makes healing possible now and certain later. (Matthew 8:14-17)
This is His promise, upon which we have set our hearts. He is with us now, giving us His grace and power, being perfected in our weakness in this present life, and one day giving us the joy of all things being made new—no more tears; no more pain; no more sin. Oh, what a glorious day that will be!
UPDATE ON SONO HARRIS
That day has just come for my dear friend Sono, who went home to be with the Lord Sunday night, July 4th. She is standing in the courts of heaven with her beloved Christ and my dear Chris! She has received the full promise of God and no longer has any need for faith. Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!
Thank you, friends, for praying for the Harris family. They have experienced much grace their last days with their beloved wife and mother. Furthermore, her passing was peaceful, and Sono herself was so joyful with anticipation of seeing her precious Bridegroom, even though she endured much pain at the end. My heart grieves for these dear ones in their loss, but I know that their joy is great as well, as was ours when the kids and I said good-bye (for now) to Chris.
Please continue to lift the Harris’ up to the Lord that He might continue to show them His grace and mercy and be their strength. And again, if you desire to help out this wonderful godly family in a practical way, you can send cards, notes and financial gifts directly to the Harris’ at their home:
The Gregg Harris Family
6920 S. E. Hogan Rd.
Gresham, OR 97080
Gregg would like express his thanks, on behalf of their whole family, for your love, prayers and support. He also asked me to invite anyone who would like to come to Sono’s memorial service this Saturday, July 10, from 10:30am – noon. Here are the details:
Good Shepherd Community Church
28986 Southeast Haley Rd.
Boring, OR 97009
The Lord has encouraged their family with these verses from II Corinthians 4:16-5:6 –
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
UPDATE ON JONI EARECKSON TADA
Joni had her surgery a week ago, and is doing remarkably well for having just gone through a major surgery. She shares this in her blog post from today, about her and Ken’s holiday weekend:
After a scrumptious picnic lunch, it was an afternoon of singing hymns and celebrating the grace and sovereignty of God. Singing, for me, has become a prescription for healing. And not just harmonizing with friends or singing ‘in my head’ in the middle of the night — late in the day on Monday, Ken and I remarked that the backyard birds have never sounded sweeter. I wondered if they might be messengers of Zephaniah 3:17 for “[The Lord] will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Funny how a thing like cancer can make you treasure every snippet of God’s smallest blessings.
I would encourage you to visit Joni’s blog, Joni’s Corner, for ongoing updates: http://www.joniandfriends.org/jonis-corner/special-message-joni/
The same Lord that was with Sono, lovingly bringing her home, is with Joni, giving her grace to live by His power, power being perfected in her weakness. Both women have glorified God by their radiant, passionate affirmation of God’s glorious kingdom and by clinging to His promise. By God’s gracious gift of faith, Sono believed until her very last breath, and Joni continues to believe with every breath she continues to take. And oh, how pleasing this is in His sight!
Thank you Sono, for letting go when God’s perfect time came, with trust in your Savior and joy in your Reward. Thank you Joni, for continuing to press on in hope of His future promise, knowing that you can “do all things through Christ who strengthens [you].”
Soli Deo Gloria!
Grateful, as ever, for your encouragement and prayers, and for the bond we share in Christ,