Feb 28, 2012

Tuesday SHINE...


Today's Reading: Romans 11

Happy Tuesday, SHINE girls! Can I just say.....I love you girls! 

Seriously, even when I am in a big huge pit, you girls reach down and pull me up with your encouragement and love of Christ. Thank you so much!

I received the Spotlight SHINE girl's testimony yesterday afternoon. I could not believe how her story came at just the right time for me. Wow. 

Get ready to be blessed...big time.

Sandy Clark's introduction:

What a joy and privilege is mine to introduce this week’s SHINE Spotlight Girl!  I am so blessed to call her my friend and my sister in Christ.  At a time when I was completely burned out as the “preacher’s wife,” God miraculously called my LEM to a new ministry, not in the pastorate.

  We had to find a church home, and this amazing lady became our “preacher’s wife!”  We’ve been through a lot together, and even though we don’t get to spend a lot of time together physically, I know she is always there for me, praying for me and mine and loving us unconditionally.  I could call her for prayer (and have) at any time, day or night.  

She has proven herself time and again to be a faithful friend, prayer warrior and daughter of the Highest.  She has a grown, severely disabled child, lost the love of her life to cancer, and has fought her own valiant battle with cancer.  Yet her unwavering faith has been an inspiration to all who know her.  But wait!!  I don’t want to tell her story!!  I could talk about her all day long because I love her so much!  Please read and be blessed by what our Sweet Lord has to say to you today through Marsha Sandridge.


Marsha's Story:

My dear friend, Leslie Jones introduced me to SHINE Girls.  I’m so grateful she did because this blog has strengthened me in my spiritual walk.  Jill, you are a blessing from the Lord!  I love your transparency, the beautiful ways you express your love to Him and how you encourage us through the Word.

To Leslie and her mother, Sandy Clark, “I thank My God for every remembrance of you.”  You are my sisters, not by birth but of the heart.  We are family because we have blood ties in Jesus!  Your unconditional love is such a grace-gift from the Father to me.  I love you both sooo much!

My life is blessed and highly favored.  Not because I’ve done anything to deserve it, but because of my gracious God!  The Lord has given me a beautiful family: 3 great sons and 2 extraordinary daughters-in-law, whom I love as daughters.  My middle son, Matthew, has autism.  He is severely disabled, but God is using Him mightily for His glory.  He is dearly loved and so precious to my family and me.  Matthew’s behavioral issues and disability is definitely a challenge—but he is never a burden!  By God’s grace, Matthew is a joy.  In our family circle there’s also a little girl who calls me “Nana.”  Gabby is 2 yrs. old, a delight to my heart and a miracle from our Father.

Time spent with my Lord and time spent with family, both biological and spiritual, brings much joy to me.  At one point in my life I couldn’t have truthfully written that about my Lord because my husband and family took place above Him.  So I wasn’t allowing Him to be Lord in my life… I see that more clearly now than I did then.

As a young girl I always dreamed of being a wife and mother.  I married Dave, a wonderful, godly man---my soul mate and dearest friend on this earth.  Dave was called to ministry and already serving in a church when we met.   When Dave proposed to me, He promised that he would always love me “second best.”  That was fine with me; I knew his first love was Jesus and even as a young bride-to-be I realized that there could be no stronger foundation upon which to build a marriage.  My joy increased as over the years God gave us our 3 precious sons:  David, Matthew and Stephen.

However, during the years I was plagued with “what ifs.”  In other words, I was taunted by Satan with some of my worst fears.  Now I was in Christ and He was in me so Satan had no authority to destroy me, but he would threaten to destroy me.  And I’m sorry to say, I allowed him the victory many times because I did not fully trust God.  I didn’t trust Him because I wasn’t digging deep into His Word and spending intimate time with Him. Some of my “what ifs” included:

  • What if I have a child with a disability
  • What if we suffer severe financial hardship
  • What if I get cancer
  • What if my husband dies

All of the above and more came to pass.  I also need to say that many of my fears never became a reality!   But my Father had to bring me to brokenness and in that brokenness I became desperate enough to seek the Lord with all my heart in His Word and through prayer.  The process of brokenness is painful but the product is more than worth it!  On the other side of brokenness lies new intimacy with God and new power to serve Him.  I would not dare say it’s easy or that I would want to go through it again, but this I know:  The Lord has used each situation to purify me and mold me more into His likeness as I’ve yielded to Him.  So brokenness is not a curse, but a blessing!

We can be so scared of what brokenness is going to require us…scared of what God may do to us…scared of the cost of being broken.  With that fear comes spiritual paralysis—I know that so well.  We take our eyes off of Jesus and look at the circumstances we’re so afraid might come our way.  Then we forget about the grace, mercy, strength and joy that God promises He will give us in those times of adversity.

You’ve heard it said, “The will of God will never lead us where His grace will not keep us.”  We never get grace until we need it!  If someone had told me in advance about some of the things I would experience in these past few years, I would have been overcome with fear and been spiritually immobilized.  I would have been focused on a future trial, but without the future grace!  Only by His all-sufficient grace and clinging to the promises in God’s Word have I endured.

I had just fully recovered from cancer surgery, chemo and radiation (that’s another testimony of God’s grace) when my beloved Dave became ill.  The diagnosis was liver cancer; no treatment would help and he was ineligible for a transplant.  We were stunned…heartsick…and went running to the One Who embraced us so lovingly and tenderly.  And oh, how the Body of Christ prayed for us and cared for us!  Even now, it moves me to tears...

Every day I would pray for Dave’s healing, not bargaining with my Lord, not sobbing my heart out, but with perfect peace in my soul.  This was NOT me—this was truly the power of Christ in me, carrying me. What grace…what all sufficient grace!  In those weeks, one particular scripture would come to me as I prayed or read.  I would hear it in a song, in a message on Christian radio, and I would hear the Spirit speak it to me in a still, quiet voice.  Time and time again I would hear, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5) 

Dave did receive healing, not as I’d asked but on a greater level.  He received his ultimate healing, which came much more quickly than we’d thought. God was merciful in that he didn’t suffer as much as the doctors predicted.  Every day grace was lavished upon us from our Father.  It would take pages for me to give testimony to how our Lord was so merciful, gracious and tender towards us.  He did numerous miracles in our midst---and by His grace we were still able to laugh together…sometimes in the midst of tears.

So my beloved went home to be with his First Love.  And the Lover of My Soul has, just as He promised, never left me nor forsaken me, but continues to strengthen me and uphold me with His righteous right hand.  (Isaiah 41:10)

It was a week or so after Dave went to be with Jesus that I picked up a devotional book to read.  The scripture for the day was Hebrews 13:5, which certainly got my attention.   My heart was overwhelmed by my Father’s love when I saw the explanation of the verse in the original language (Greek) in which the word “never” has 5 negatives.  I love that Father was confirming this truth to me and making sure I “got it!”  It reads, “I will never, never, never, never, never leave you or forsake you.”  That’s Truth, dear sister, and I’ve experienced this promise in ways that could only be attributed to God and God alone!

There’s a gravestone in a cemetery a few miles from my home that has my husband’s name and a scripture that he chose inscribed on it.  When he made that choice, I told him, “It’s perfect---it so describes how you’ve lived!”  The verse says, “My grace is sufficient…” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I now believe the Holy Spirit prompted my husband to also choose that verse for me.  I’m reminded of my Father’s all-sufficient grace every time I visit Dave’s grave.  My name is inscribed on the gravestone, as well.  It doesn’t bother me to see it, instead I’m encouraged to live out the rest of my days as a vessel of His grace…because I’ve received such an abundance from Him.   Even when I am faithless, He remains faithful!

The complete verse reads: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

I am weak…He is strong.   Jesus, Your grace still amazes me—what a wonder You are!
I love You so…with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.  Thank You for giving me the grace to sing with joy:

“Every blessing You pour out, I’ll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say…

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name!

You give and take away,
You give and take away.
But my heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your Name.”


In the Grip of His Grace,

Marsha

Vows and a promise to love "second-best"

The family celebrating Jesus' birthday


Our precious Matthew
Mother and son remembering and missing their loved one


Marsha with daughters-in-law and sons (and granddaughter in the womb)

Nana and Gabby singing "Jesus Loves Me"