Monday, November 9, 2009

True Obedience

I know I haven’t written in a while. I haven’t really known what to say, but something has been heavy on my heart and I feel as though I should share it with you. Jonathan was a great leader, especially at home. He led by example. He taught me so much about true obedience. He wanted to be obedient to Christ at all costs. Let me give you a few examples of how just in the past year he helped me do this. Last summer (2008) we made a move from Gainesville to Lavonia to pastor Shoal Creek. We had been praying about this for some time. We had prayed, okay God, if you give Abby a job we will move. Jonathan came to me one day and said that he felt that we were saying to God that we would only be obedient to His call if it was financially secure and that he felt that we should go regardless of whether or not I had a job . . . so that is what we did. It didn’t make sense and a lot of people thought we were crazy. At the end of July, just before school started, a job miraculously appeared at Stephens County High School, by the grace of God.

Another example: The trip to Zambia. Jonathan and I were so excited when we decided to go together to Zambia. Not long after we made that commitment, we found out that we were expecting our first child. This trip could potentially put our child in danger with vaccines, diseases that could be contracted, the long plane trip, etc. I couldn’t even use bug spray! Again, it didn’t make sense for me to go and people thought we were crazy, but again Jonathan said, Abby, we cannot say to God that we will only be obedient to You if it is safe for us. Jonathan reassured me that God knew I was going to get pregnant when we felt as though He wanted us to go, should we change our decision to be obedient now? So, Jonathan, our baby, and I went to Zambia and made it back completely unharmed (except for the bug that Jonathan got).

When I was struggling with this decision, Jonathan brought me this scripture. I feel as though God was preparing me for what was coming in the future. Jonathan used the scripture to teach me that even if we did suffer in some way by going to Zambia, it was for the sake of Christ and we would be blessed for it.

14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
-1 Peter 3:14-17

I felt that God was telling me that Jonathan and I would suffer for some reason in the future. Honestly, I assumed it would be in relation to our precious child we were expecting in February and prayed that God would not take this child that we had prayed for so long. I never imagined that I would suffer the loss of my wonderful husband. I especially never imagined that Jonathan would have to suffer what he did. However, based on the scripture above, I know that Jonathan will be blessed for his suffering and is being blessed now for being obedient regardless of what it cost him. I am proud to have been his wife and bear his name. I will always be thankful for his spiritual leadership and for teaching me to be obedient even in the face of suffering. I will never understand why God did not spare us this tragedy. I will never understand why our child will never truly know how wonderful his father was this side of Heaven. I will never understand why God allowed us to suffer so . . . but I do find comfort in knowing that hopefully soon, Jesus will return to take His children home and I will see my beloved Jonathan never to be separated from him again. We will be able to worship Jesus together forever, which is something that we loved doing.

I want to extend a challenge to anyone who reads this blog. Don’t be afraid to be obedient to Christ. Don’t put stipulations on your obedience. Obedience is not true obedience if you have an attitude of “I will be obedient as long as it is financially secure or physically safe.” I think this is especially hard for most “American” Christians who are more than likely the top 5% richest in the world. Don’t be afraid of God’s calling on your life. You will be rewarded for your willingness to obey, maybe not in this life, but for eternity in the next. Use the scripture above as an encouragement from Jonathan himself to be truly obedient!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hope In Eternity

The sorrow and sadness of living without Jonathan sometimes seems too much to bear. I have lost the spiritual leader of my home, the love of my life, my best friend, and the one in which I confided the most here on Earth. That void seems hopeless at times during every day and during every week. I know that there are many who are suffering with me. I wanted to share some scriptures that if we let them, can give us hope of a better day and life . . . not here on this Earth, but in Heaven if you are a believer. We have to keep in mind the eternal side of this. We do not belong in this world. We are of another, better, not full of sin, beautiful world. If we don’t think on these things, I think at least for me, I will lose sanity. I hope that at some time, these scriptures can be comforting to those of us who are grieving.

*For when I am overwhelmed thinking about what Jonathan went through . . . and for what we are suffering through now . . . and for when I feel like his death was in vain and that nothing good can come from this for the glory of God . . .

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

But if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed but in that name let him glorify God. I Peter 4:16

Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. I Peter 4:19

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy, meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8

And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

*For when I need hope of a better day that I will not be without Jonathan and will be forever with the One who died for me . . .

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

So that the proof of your faith, being much more precious than of gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. I Peter 1:7

Come now, you who say “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet, you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. James 4:13-14

*For when the grief, sorrow, sadness, and the future become too much for me to consider . . .

And he has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. II Corinthians 12:9

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalms 46:1

*For when I think I can’t take another step, I can’t say another word, I can’t live another day (I have learned from reading Dr. Frank Cox’s Trusting God’s Heart that temptation=a putting to proof by adversity). . .

Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man, but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. I Corinthians 10:12-13

*For when I am scared of forgetting the life I had with Jonathan, scared of presently living without Jonathan, and scared of the future without Jonathan . . .

Do not fear for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you! I Peter 5:6-7

When you pass through the waters I will be with you and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire you will not be scorched nor will the flame burn you. Isaiah 43:2

The eternal God is our Refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms and He drove out the enemies from before you and said “Destroy!” Deuteronomy 33:27

Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. Proverbs 3:25-26

*For now when my heart is utterly shattered and when I feel like my life is forever ruined . . .

The righteous cry and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near for the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers them out of them all. Psalm 34:17-19

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His namesake. Psalm 23

*For when I feel utterly alone . . .

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

*For when I can’t make sense of the situation and can’t understand why this happened . . .

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

~I also wanted to share with you that based on the work that God allowed Jonathan to complete on his blog, a man from Alabama is now part of the Kingdom of God. I was able to speak with him on the phone about Jonathan and about how Jonathan is no longer here on Earth with us, but he is in Heaven because He trusted Jesus to take away his sin. This man prayed with me on the phone and told Jesus that he wanted to put his trust in Him as well. Praise God! This man knows now that when he dies he will be with Jesus in Heaven!

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Baby Boy

I wanted to let everyone know that yesterday I went to the doctor and received good news! In February, Jonathan and I will be having a little boy! Psalm 112 has given me so much comfort during this time in my life. It talks about a righteous man. Jonathan was and defnitely is full of a righteous fear of the Lord. Because of that, Psalm 112:2 says that "His children will be mighty in the land, the generation of the upright will be blessed." Because Jonathan was faithful to the Lord, our child will be blessed. Amen.