Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

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When the Earth Shakes

  • Dena Johnson Martin blogspot for Dena Johnson of Dena's Devos
  • Published Oct 26, 2016

~~Oklahoma is known for tornadoes. But, did you know that Oklahoma now leads the nation in the number of earthquakes?

Most of the earthquakes we have are small. I’ve missed most of them simply because they have been undetectable to the normal person.

Several weeks ago, however, we had one that was impossible to miss!

It was a Saturday morning, and I was sitting in my room, reading my Bible on my phone. Suddenly, I heard what sounded like rushing wind, and I was convinced the entire house was coming down! I jumped up and ran into the living room, hoping I could see the brewing storm through the window.

Two of my kids came bolting out of their rooms. To our surprise, there were no clouds, no winds, no rain. But, the house was shaking and shifting. Light fixtures swayed, back and forth. Pictures fell off the walls. And I stood, terrified, not knowing where to seek shelter.

And that’s when I realized it wasn’t a storm. It was an earthquake. A large earthquake. An earthquake that left my light fixtures swaying for over 15 minutes. An earthquake that not only shook my house, but shook me.
I spent the rest of the day on edge. Everything made me jump, my heart pound, my anxiety rise.

I’ll take a tornado any day…

I guess the earthquake is pretty symbolic of our lives this year. Death. Surgery. Illness. Our lives have been shaken. We’ve felt as if everything was crashing down around us. We have found ourselves wondering what our future holds, how we can keep moving forward.

I went walking this morning and my heart cried out to God…even as the tears rolled down my face. I simply couldn’t handle the stress any longer, couldn’t keep it bottled up inside.

“Lord, I need you!” I cried. “I can’t keep going! I can’t handle it!”

Of course, even as the words escaped my mouth, I knew God was telling me it wasn’t my burden to carry. Instead, I needed to throw it on Him, let Him carry it.

He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:6

I honestly don’t know how anyone makes it through this life without God. He is my rock, my salvation. He is my foundation, the solid foundation upon which my life is built. He is my fortress, the one place I can run and hide when life is overwhelming.

Friday, I walked into the house to find my daughter having yet another seizure. I was convinced we were on the road to wellness, the seizures were behind us and God was leading us into complete healing. We were on a two year countdown, a plan to get rid of the medications and move forward into a healthy future.
Instead, here we were, back at square one. Resetting the clock to a new starting point, a new countdown to complete restoration.

Why, God? Why are you allowing my baby girl to suffer? I know you’ve heard me, heard my pleas for healing. Hasn’t she suffered enough? You know the pain she’s dealing with, the anguish of losing her dad. Can’t you give us a break?

I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. Psalm 16:8

Yes, He is with us. Cassie and I have talked often about the pain, about the overwhelming pain this year has brought upon us. I ask her how she is doing, and her only answer is that she is overwhelmed.

And yet, when I ask her how she is moving forward, she says, “I just remind myself of what God is doing in me, what He is preparing me for.”

Oh, isn’t that the most beautiful sentiment? Isn’t that the faith of a child? While I am out yelling at God, asking Him why, my daughter is clinging to her foundation. She is clinging to the truth that her God is right here with her, walking beside her through the earthquakes this life has thrown at us.

We are all clinging…and that would be about the only appropriate word to use. Perhaps even more appropriately, He is holding us as our fingers lose their grip.

But our lives are built on the firm foundation, the One who is always with us, the One who covers us in every moment of chaos.

I’ve been asking God how to help my kids, how to lead them to a place of healing and wholeness. I’ve been asking God to give me wisdom, to know how to keep moving forward, to know how to not be shaken. And this is what He has told me:

Pray. Pray for my children. Pray with them. Pray over them. Pray every night and every day. Pray without ceasing.

I am realizing just how much I continue to hang onto my kids, how I don’t want to let them go and trust them to God. But the truth is that there’s no safer place than in His hands.

Speak truth. We all know the power of words. If we speak self-defeating words, we will be defeated before we ever start. But when we speak words of life, we find meaning and purpose and strength and courage.

Scripture is full of truth…the truth of who we are in Christ Jesus. We are forgiven, redeemed, chosen. We are His masterpiece created to do great works. We are dearly loved children of God.

These are the words we try to speak. Words of life. Words of truth. And, I frequently remind my kids that God is using this pain, these trials, to do an amazing work in us so He can do an amazing work through us.

Surrender. Surrender is always the beginning of a true experience with the Savior. When we surrender our hearts, our minds, our wills, it makes room for Him to step in and work.

How can we surrender in the chaos? It often starts with a simple prayer of, “Lord, I don’t want this journey. But if this is what you want, I will take it. Just don’t let my pain be in vain.” That is a prayer of humility and surrender, one the Savior will always honor.

And, I pray Galatians 2:20 every morning, “Lord, I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. Live this life through me. Let me decrease so you might increase.”

Look to the future. As much as we hate the pain and trials of this life, we know from Scripture that He is using them to mold us and shape us into His image, to create a heart for Him and the things of God in us.

We also know that pain is only for a season, but joy comes in the morning. We know that one day we will see the good, the beauty that comes from the ashes. We know that now we only see in part, but one day we will see in full.

God is up to something. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what the finished picture will look like. But I know He is up to something…something good. I choose to trust Him in the journey and believe that the future will show me that He is always good.

Lord Jesus, as the earth quakes and life shakes us to the core, we proclaim that you are good. We run to your as our rock, our salvation, our hiding place. We thank you that you are always with us, never leaving us. We thank you that even as everything around us seems to crash to the ground, we can know that we are always safe with you. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.