Archive for Surrender

The Prayers of My Farewells

One final trudge up the hill, bearing the sandy trappings of our last day on the beach: chairs and towels, cooler and blanket, boogey boards, books, and a backpack. One last trip in the roasting car, A/C blasting, merging onto the highway. Elbowing our way into line, we joined the throngs of beachgoers headed back to civilization; even more so for us, as our plane would be leaving tonight. My heart said goodbye to Hawaii.

These last ten days had been more than a vacation. The Lord not only granted us respite from the daily grind, but relief and some healing from a heartache back home. Just when I reached the point where I could simply watch the waves break instead of hearing my heart break, it was time to leave. Oh, for a few more days on Kona! But this sacred time will hold a special place with the prayers of my farewells, safe in the arms of God. He’s been gathering my sorrows where I left them on the sand like a beachcomber scavenging treasure.

When I was young, the tide was always rushing in. With each swell came fresh opportunities, new responsibilities, and a fullness of life that kept me afloat. Now the tide has turned, slowly pulling back the demands but also the richness of relationships that sprang from community. Once we were all in this together, but the ties that bound us have loosened. We’ve scattered: to different churches, different towns, different jobs. I’ve had to let go, not only of friends, but of family members, of my children, and of souls I’ve met through work and service. Some of these partings were easy; a few were welcomed; but most just tore the hole in my heart a little wider. My only comfort is the assurance that Heaven is coming. For those who know Jesus, the sun will someday rise on a beautiful, distant shore, and all those I love will be there. God will mend all that’s tattered and torn; He will wipe away every tear; He will heal every broken heart. Meanwhile, the prayers of my farewells rest safely in His arms.

The sun set over the Pacific as we flew from Kona to Oahu, rising over Asia as our planet welcomed her new day. From Honolulu we flew east through the dark of the night, until dawn broke over the Rockies on our way back into town. It’s time for me to welcome my new life in the light of the rising sun. The time for heartache has passed, and I’m ready to face the dawn. As always, and forever: To God be the glory. Amen!

©2011 Rachel Ophoff, Coconut Mountain Communications LLC. All Rights Reserved.

To see my favorite books on Heaven, visit Coconut Mountain Communications Resource Pages

To visit my website for resources and more, visit Friendship With Jesus

One Ordinary Day at a Time

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.”- Mary Jean Irion

It was crazy cold that Sunday, twenty-two years ago this weekend in Aspen, Colorado. Well below zero before the sun came up, I snuck into our church’s early service, my last drink not twelve hours past. In the course of an hour on this ordinary day, God spoke to me through a passage (or rather, He thundered) assuring me He would help me get sober today, but to make no mistake: Today was the day.

Every ordinary day He’d been whispering a warning, and every ordinary morning I had wallowed in defeat. “Oh God, Oh God, I’m so sorry. I won’t drink again tonight, I promise. Please forgive me.” But the addiction was as relentless as the pain in my soul, and every late afternoon the demon demanded her due. She’d smile as I poured my first tumbler of brandy, and I caved in to the warmth that flowed through my veins.

“Don’t you feel better now?” she’d purr with each glass. And each refill welcomed the haze that sheltered my shame until the sun rose again. When I’d open my eyes my heart would break, and she’d throw back her head and laugh. Lest I lean toward the hope of a new day each dawn, she’d grab me by the bottle and dance me down the hall, to late afternoon, to the time of the dark. This was the way of my life, one ordinary day at a time.

Until this one Sunday morning. Having whispered His warnings for months up ’til now, the time of quiet prodding had passed. This morning’s thunder through the words of Isaiah left me terrified in the presence of a God I’d barely met. New to the faith game, my best intentions led me to substitute alcohol for all my other illicit substances. The seemingly perfect answer was legal, socially acceptable, and could hold the sickness of my soul at bay. Attending church on Sunday I felt I could pass for “normal”: a young wife and mother, just trying to fit in. No one need know about my afternoon retreats into the realm of the numb, in the privacy of my own home.

But sickness of the soul has a way of escaping, and she came out of hiding at the least opportune times. Refusing to remain within the boundaries I’d set for her, she’d also invite that blackberry brandy that kicked like a mule. “Come join us!” she’d say. “Take the afternoon off! You know you want to.”

So, the hazy days passed, first weeks and then months. In the fall of 1988 I surrendered the hope of a life without alcohol. I couldn’t bear the thought of living in my own skin without anesthesia, and despite my best efforts, I was unable to leave the bottle alone. She laughed as I struggled, the willing prisoner who didn’t even blame the demon; she only blamed herself.

The demon was uncharacteristically quiet this cold Sunday morning: January 15, 1989. I drove from the church to a park near my home. With the temperature still well below zero I prayed in the car.

“Okay, Lord, PLEASE help me. I can’t do this alone, and we both know it. I can’t do it at all. You’ll have to do this. God, please. Help me.”

Once more I opened my Bible to the promise He gave me; once given to the people of Israel through the prophet Isaiah:

But now, this is what the LORD says- he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name, and you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.’

(Isaiah 43:1-3 NIV)

And on this bitter cold morning, on an ordinary day, the demon screamed, “foul!” as the Lord took my hand. She fled in a fury as we picked up the phone, calling a friend who would take me for help. The first lesson I learned was the gift of one day. One day at a time, I learned to live without drinking. One day at a time, He helped me recover. I began to realize that ordinary days are extraordinary days when the God of the Universe is the Lord of my life. For twenty-two years now of “one day at a time,” He has walked me through waters that have not passed me over. He’s walked me through rivers that have not swept me away. The fires of pain haven’t burned me forever, for He is the LORD, the God of each day.

On this, one of thousands of extraordinary days, I thank the Lord God Almighty, His Son Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, my husband Kevin, both of my kids, my friends and supporters for the gift of my life and sobriety. To God be the glory. Amen!

©Rachel Ophoff, 2011, Coconut Mountain Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Visit my website at http://www.friendshipwithjesus.com

The Great Divide

Between Denver and our home on Colorado’s western slope lies the Continental Divide. Since western states are fairly enormous, a distance of 175 miles is an easy morning drive, with views that define the word ‘scenic.’ We soar with eagles over two mountain passes and plunge alongside the rapids through rocky, rugged canyons. In three summer hours we fly along the Interstate, crossing the wild watershed and dropping down into the civilization of Denver. The vast divide is easily conquered.

Winter is another story. When blizzards blow in from the west, the freewheeling road trip of summer becomes a white-knuckle, fasten-your-seatbelt odyssey. The Eisenhower Tunnel, straddling the continental watershed, stands as a blizzard-shrouded sentinel that disappears upward into the clouds. On nail-studded tires we ascend the mountain on solid ice, hoping the driver next to us knows what to do if he goes into a skid. Crossing the Divide in winter takes courage, patience, and God’s grace. We are never quite certain whether or not we will make it. We literally thank God when we do.

When we absolutely must travel to Denver in the snow, we do everything in our power to journey safely. We equip the car with rugged snow tires, ice scraper, washer fluid, food, blankets, flashlight, and water. We pray and head out in the daylight. Then we surrender and trust God with every detail beyond our control: to guide our fellow travelers, for angels to protect us. We do what we can and leave the rest to Him. Sometimes in winter, only God can conquer the Divide.

As I write this, summer is rolling into town. We’ve opened the windows and inhaled the scent of lilacs and freshly-mown grass. We breathe a little easier and even consider driving to Denver for fun! Our summer is short, sweet, but notoriously fickle. Sometimes the calendar says June but the sky threatens snow. Still, we treasure our few shorts weeks of traveling freedom. The geographical gap is easily bridged.

This morning I surveyed the monetary gap that divides the towering stack of bills on my desk from my pitiful, flattened checkbook. Were this a summer of abundance, I’d fly over the Internet Interstate and transfer money from savings to bridge the Great Divide. Problem solved, no need to worry God, let’s go revel in the joys of June! But for us, as for so many others, the recession looms like a late-winter storm over the Colorado high country. Just when you think it’s safe to stick your coat in the closet, the clouds roll in and the snow starts to fly. Better leave the lug nuts fastened and the snow tires mounted. It seems we still can’t get there from here.

I never forget that God created the Continental Divide. It’s just that, sometimes in summer, I forget He’s listening as I head up the hill. Summer or winter, my job is the same- to prepare as best I can, to pray, and to head out in the daylight. Then I am to trust God with every detail beyond my control: to guide my fellow travelers; for angels to protect me. I do what I can and leave the rest to Him. Looking to cross the divides of our lives, whether they be financial, physical, mental, or spiritual, takes patience, courage, and God’s grace. We are never quite certain whether or not we will make it. We literally thank God when we do.

God’s grace, mercy, and power can bridge every gap and conquer every divide.

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