Wednesday, 8 May 2019

When Good Health Became My Idol


Christians and health


I never assumed my health could ever become an idol. I suppose I always took advantage of being a generally healthy person. It wasn’t until my good health was stripped from me with four months of a mysterious illness that I could see it for the idol that it had become.

I laid in my bed exhausted from carrying the sharp pangs of pain that daily coursed through every muscle and joint in my body. My brain could barely keep up with daily conversation, my heartbeat was irregular, and my blood pressure dropped so low the world would spin every time I stood up. I pleaded with God, “Lord, if you would just heal me than I can do more for You!” Yet, wave upon wave of my mysterious illness seemed to knock me over, and defeat was settling in.

Poor health was almost embarrassing to discuss among church friends, that should’ve been my first red flag that I had placed too much merit on this growing idol. I felt ashamed, like somehow I got it wrong and everyone else got it right. Admitting I was sick was like admitting my faith was weak. I knew that not to be true, but I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was a subpar Christian because my health took a hard hit. Looking back on it, I can see now that Good Health sat on a throne and became the dictator by which I measured my life with. 

It wasn’t until I was allowed to struggle in my pain that a profound truth began to sink in. Freedom isn’t free from, it’s free to. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, we are free from sin, but when we became free from sin, we became free to love and be loved by God without interference. Freedom isn’t being free from sickness, overwhelming circumstances, disease, debt, etc., it’s being free to be loved by God. When the chain of your sin was broken by the Lamb, interference from God’s love was abolished for all your eternity.  You do not need to be free from your circumstances to be free to love and be loved by God. 

We pray “IF you...THEN I will...”, but sometimes our “if” doesn’t come, and if the “if” doesn’t come, we are no less saved, no less loved, and no less desired by God. Your health will never distract God from his plan for your life. It will never cause him to place you on the back burner to make room for a healthier alternative. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:35, 37 emphasis my own)

In all these things, your distress, your persecution, your situations, you are conquerors through Christ. In your bed, wheelchair, pain, illness, less than ideal circumstances you are still prevailing. Why? Because not one single element of what plagues your life is enough to separate you from the freedom of receiving God’s love. Not one single aspect of your illness is enough to cause God to stumble in his desire to be near you. Not even a negative attitude is enough to push God away. In fact, I learned that as my misery grew, He drew closer. 

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18 emphasis mine)

Not even my misery was enough to turn God away from loving me, and being near to me. 

Having good health as an idol assumed that every other aspect of my life depended on my health for me be worthy. In doing so it lowered God by assuming that he can’t possibly love me or use me if I am sick. It assumes we are useless if we are imperfect. 

Wrong. Dead wrong. 

You are loved, you are desired, you are free.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Love,










photo credit: freestocks.org @ pexels.com

Sunday, 24 March 2019

From Embarrassed to Refined: How God Pulled me From my Hiding Place and Set the Record Straight


How God deals with our pride


Sitting in my chiropractor’s office having deep theological discussion, as we always do, he says something to the extent of this, “Can you imagine how Job must have felt demanding God to show up and defend why He let everything happen, then, in a bizarre turn of events, God actually shows up?!”

“Embarrassed!” I shrieked, “and it isn’t always a bad thing!”

Rewind that story to a few months prior...

We had been studying the book of James in our Bible study. As we read through chapter one this verse struck me:

 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)


It was as if God had just stood in front of me as I read this and asked, "Sarah, what do you want to know?"

For weeks I wrestled with this question. What DID I want to know? Anticipation began to grow. I asked him a lot of varying different questions. I figured since the offer was there, I wanted to take full advantage of His generosity. But then something happened...He went silent. And I mean absolutely cricket chirping silent.

It grew challenging to read my Bible without it stirring my soul, challenging to pray when there were no answers or changes in what I prayed for. My heart grew tired and weary in what appeared to be His absence. I asked him, “Where did you go?” I thought that had become a rather important question to ask, but again, the only thing he offered me was more silence.

Soon an exhausting health crisis moved into our household. Three out of five of us went down hard. I prayed again for answers, well, actually, I just kept asking “why” a whole lot.

One night, too exhausted to move, I slumped down on the couch and prayed an utterly weak and defeated prayer. Suddenly God began to shift my perspective. I began to realize that somewhere through the course of many layered events and multiple months I had shrunk God down in scale. I hadn’t doubted his existence, only his size. When I prayed I was praying (in my mind) to a God of microscopic stature, therefore I had very little expectation of what he was going to do with my prayers. Somewhere in this mix I had forgotten the power of the one whom I was praying to. 

I finally knew my question.

“I want to know You are still powerful.”

Ok, ok, it’s probably more of a statement than a question, but I suppose in reality God’s power did have a giant question mark hovering over it. Is God really that powerful? Does he still work miracles? The 24 hours that followed were nothing short of a Job moment where God himself showed up and reminded me repeatedly of his power. 

That night my husband and I randomly decided to watch a sermon before bed (not our usual bedtime routine). We typed in one of our favourite preacher’s name into the search bar on YouTube and up came the top three suggestions. The first title made something in me VERY nervous, so I told my husband to hit play on either of the other two selections. Neither worked. I’ll bet you can guess which one of the three did work though! I was already uncomfortable before the first word was even spoken. 

Every single question that I had been hanging onto over the past few months was addressed in sequential form as the preacher spoke. Something that had been recorded months before I watched it (and on the other side of the world I might add) was being used in my home to answer my tiny questions that had yet to be answered. Every piece of scripture that had been at the forefront of my mind was used over the course of the next 30 minutes. I felt like crawling under my blankets and hiding!  I kept hitting pause just to catch my breath. God has been listening even when I thought he had gone silent. I wasn't watching a 30 minute coincidence, I was witnessing God's power in action.

A few days later I was overwhelmed by an outpouring of prayers and encouragement from people I hadn’t met before at our church. People who were being prompted to pray for our family at hours of the night that overlapped with moments when I would wake in pain or anxiety from my own health problems. People who unknowingly spoke words of life that struck right to the core of the matters of our heart. God showed up in all His power and glory and sheepish doesn’t even begin to describe how it felt!

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
“Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
“Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding,
Who set its measurements? Since you know.
Or who stretched the line on it?
“On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone...
“Have you ever in your life commanded the morning,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?
“It is changed like clay under the seal;
And they stand forth like a garment.
“From the wicked their light is withheld,
And the uplifted arm is broken.
“Have you entered into the springs of the sea
Or walked in the recesses of the deep?
“Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
Or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
“Have you understood the expanse of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this.
(Job 38:1-6, 12-18)

I can almost hear the sound of sarcasm in God’s voice as He talked to Job. “Have YOU understood the expanse of the earth? Hmmm?? Tell Me, if you know all this.” I can see God sort of leaning with His elbow propped atop the tallest tree, eyebrows raised. 
Embarrassed. Yup. Job felt embarrassed. I know, because I certainly did. By the time God got through revealing His power and might my knees were trembling in fear of His greatness. 

He had not answered my other questions prior to that day because they did not get to the core of where my heart needed stability. All valid questions, but in true God form He knew what I really needed to know before my “big” question was even asked. And, in true God wisdom, He knew exactly how to get me to see where my weak point was. His silence wasn’t his absence, but part of His lesson to me. 

Embarrassing? Oh yeah! But, I give God such praise for humbling me and shrinking me down in size. Not because He needs me smaller for Him to look bigger, it wasn’t just a slight of hand or an optical illusion. But because only when I realize my stature can I resume the humble posture of praise that He truly deserves. Only when I am smaller will I hold my problems less and become quicker to place them in His fully capable hands. Only when I am smaller I worry less about the future. Only when I am smaller can I fully understand the amazing ever-present, all-knowing, all-powerful presence and power of our Mighty God.

Has God grown small in your eyes? I might encourage you to ask Him to reveal Himself in the fullness of His stature and power, but prepared to be embarrassed. I promise it’s a good thing.

Love,









photo credit: Noelle Otto @ Pexels.com

Saturday, 16 March 2019

A Faithful God- the Extraordinary Testimony of My Otherwise Ordinary Life


The Backyard Missionary- testimony


Many people have testimonies filled to the brim of God’s redeeming grace. I LOVE hearing how God moved mountains to reveal himself to the abandoned, the sick, the outcasts, and the broken. In contrast I always felt that my testimony was a little drab compared to the jaw dropping testimonies of some. 

From a young age my parents placed my tiny hands into the hand of my faithful God. Every crisis, every major event, every decision was brought before God in prayer. As a result He became my “go to” in all circumstance. Not much excitement there in terms of God’s wild redemption. But here’s what has taken me thirty-six years to finally understand...

There are testimonies of God the Redeemer, God the Healer, God the Provider. While I don’t have one of those, my testimony is one of God the Faithful. I have had 36 years to bear witness to a God who has never failed. A God who has been faithful to his child even when this child wandered or fought against him. 

Though the circumstances looked grim, He would always shine through the darkest moments and lead me back to hope. What was meant for evil, God always managed to work  for the good (Genesis 50:20). And when I shook my fist in anger at the circumstances, he challenged my way of thinking to see clearer His Sovereign hand at work. 

As a teen, when my walk with him was weak, He was my Protector who kept me from wandering too far. When I lost two babies and was told I may not have children, He was my Provider and gave me three more. When my husband battled a drug addiction, He was my Strength to stay and fight. When my mom died from terminal cancer, He was the Comforter to my broken heart. When I questioned the church and those inside, He didn’t turn his back on me, He gave me His heart to see hurt as He sees. When I lashed out in frustration at Him over my health, He humbled me to see He is still in charge and trustworthy.

My God has been faithful.

It is hard to wrap my head around it that in spite of my seemingly lack of interest in him at times, though I have failed, He never has. I have walked away in anger, but he didn’t turn on me. I have questioned his motives, but he didn’t flinch. His faithfulness came through every. single. time. 

I don’t deserve a God like that. One who holds me and walks beside me and the emotional roller coaster I often ride. But, His ego doesn’t get bruised, His love is a fierce one, and his hands never tire of carrying me. "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39) 

I can’t tell you a grand story of being rescued from the streets, or from drugs. But I can tell you my testimony of how God has faithfully rescued me from myself time and time again. He is my God, the unfailing Faithful One.  

Whatever you are up against, I am a walking testimony to trust God. There are no obstacles too challenging, no frustrations too deep, and no questions that He won't guide you through to an answer. He is not a God who gives up, nor a God who walks away.

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Ps. 100:5)

To all my fellow rather-ordinary-testimony sisters, this one's for you. Never be ashamed of expressing the extraordinary steadfast faithfulness of our loving Father in your ordinary life.


Love,









photo credit: Edwin Andrade @ Unsplash

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

The Hidden Blessing of a Long-Term Illness


hope with chronic pain


Call me a medical anomaly if you will, but for the past few years I have been seeing a vast array of doctors, specialists, naturopaths, and basically anything ending in “ologist”. I’ve tried medications, natural remedies, exercise, and diet changes. Even still, I’ve yet to receive an official diagnosis, though I’ve heard several speculations. While I wait in the line up to see one more “ologist” I have come to realize the hidden blessing of my long-term illness.

What I do know for certain is that whatever is brewing below the surface, there are plenty of days where my body simply won't cooperate. Last week, driving home caused my wrists to become so inflamed I was unable to hold a knife to make supper by the time I walked in the door. A few days later it had moved on to a new joint once again causing my daily activities to be severely altered. 

If it sounds frustrating, it’s because it is. But, as frustrating at it is, God is faithful in walking beside me, but also in refining me to reshape me into something beautiful (even if outwardly I appear frail). 

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13 emphasis mine)

ALL THINGS.

Have you ever wondered what ALL THINGS includes? The better question, as I’m learning, is, “what doesn’t it include?” 

The answer is: absolutely nothing. 

God has given me a gift in this season, the gift of neediness. I am abundantly needy for his strength, and am reminded of that frequently. I continually find myself in circumstances where I once would’ve thrived in my own strength, but now my body will not cooperate, so I lean on him for strength. Something as simple as opening the stuck lid of a jar required me to pray on the spot, “not my strength but yours. Help!” It opened without effort after I prayed! I really should have started with prayer, but I insisted on grappling the slippery lid, banging the jar on the counter, and doing a weird dance with the jar held between my knees while pulling with my hands on the other end before surrendering and acknowledging my neediness once again. 

God is good like that. Just when we think we have a handle on a situation he humbles us and reminds us it’s not by our strength but by His that we stand. There is NOTHING too small to call on the strength of the Lord for. Our go to at the first moment of a furrowed brow should be to call on God to strengthen us in whatever way we need it. 

Maybe you’re like me and it’s physical strength you need, but perhaps for you it’s mental, emotional, or spiritual strength you call on for help. Whatever it is, I’ve learned the gift of neediness is truly a gift worth praising God for. It is in this gift that I am reminded of His goodness, His strength, His mercy, and His compassion. I needn’t worry about my own limitations when I’m walking with such a mighty God. 

The gift of my illness has carved out daily moments in my life where frustration has the possibility to take over, but instead I see the God who holds me and strengthens me. I see my desperate need for Him in a life where I would've otherwise missed it. Those moments where the forward motion of my life hits "pause" are a place to sing songs of joy to Him as I lean hard on His everlasting strength.


Love,










photo credit: John Towner @ Unsplash.com