If you are looking for my examination of the uncut Cultures of Revolution video, click on this link to go to the MAVI MARMARA report.
July was a month of changes. The first thing that happened, which is awesome, is that on the 11th, I was able to raise my arm again! Friends and ministries were praying that my frozen shoulder would unlock, and I listened to a lot of Andrew Wommack's teaching videos to remove blockages to my faith in God's willingness to heal to me. As Andrew says, Christians don't doubt that God can heal. After all, He made the whole universe, so why should healing bodies be a problem for Him? No, he says that where Christians stumble in their faith is in believing that God is willing to do this for them.
That is exactly how I have felt over the years. In my heart, I felt so unworthy of God's blessings that I figured that they would work for others, but not for me. I have been like my grandson was when he was five–years–old and learning about money. He found a loonie and asked me if the storekeeper would let him buy things with it when he took it to the store. My heart went out to him that he thought he might be an exception; I assured him that money worked for everybody.
In the same way, faith works for everybody. If we have faith in God's love and goodness and power and willingness to bless, He will respond to our faith. I condemned myself for not having enough faith, as that seemed to be part of the problem, too. What was wrong with me? For years, I beat my head against a wall, trying to break through to the things I was believing for. I felt like a spiritual retard.
I knew that my circumstances were only an illusion, comparing them to a story I read where a wizard cast an illusion that there was an inpenetrable rock face, whereas there was actually a passage way. The people who were fleeing him had to overcome what their eyes were seeing and walk forward. But if they still believed that there was solid rock in front of them, they couldn't move forward. It felt like solid rock to them.
Doubt and unbelief works like that movie The Matrix, which I DO NOT recommend that anyone go to see so that they will know what I am talking about. A lot of people have seen it, but for those who haven't, here's the gist of it. Somewhere off in the future, machines took over the world. They got their energy from people's bodies and had them hooked up to machines that drugged the people to keep them in a coma. While they were in the coma, they thought that they were living normally, but they were actually just creating their own reality in their minds. This was their matrix.
Satan has created a matrix through various types of programming (such as through the media) to promote doubt and outright unbelief in God's existence and His goodness and power. He doesn't want people to know that God loves them and to tap into God's power. Satan wants to keep us in captivity, so that he can feed off of our negative thoughts and emotions, draining away the awesome inheritance that God intended for human beings to have in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Andrew pointed out the incongruity of how people who have obvious sin in their lives, like pimps, prostitutes, and drug dealers, seem to receive healing with ease. This is because they are usually hearing for the first time that God really does love them, has forgiven them, and wants to help them, and they receive this good news with joy and accept the gifts of salvation, healing, and deliverance that He wants to give them.
Christians, on the other hand, who have been walking with the Lord for some time, have developed such sensitive consciences that they will remember having missed a Bible study ten years ago, come under condemnation, and feel that they don't deserve to be healed. The truth is, nobody DESERVES to be healed. Regardless of how much we do for the Lord, it is no more than what we ought to do. Healing is a gift – not a reward.
A couple days before I was able to lift my arm, one of my friends felt strongly impressed to pray for me about my shoulder. Then the evening before, my five–year–old grandson Jake watched a video with me of how the Mouk people in Papua New Guinea were reached with the Gospel. He heard the wonderful story of how the missionaries preached to them twice a day for two months, and the villagers never missed a meeting. Even when women went into labour, they refused to miss a meeting. A privacy screen was set up for them nearby, so that they could have their babies while listening to the sermon. At the end of two months, when the missionaries finally came to the end of the story of Jesus by showing them a dramatization of His crucifixion, nearly everyone in the village received Him as their Saviour. Then they celebrated their salvation for two hours with singing and dancing.
Jake turned to me when the video was over and said, "I asked Yehoshua into my heart before." This was the first time that he has voluntarily acknowledged that he asked Yehoshua into his heart when he was three–years–old. Then he offered to pray for my shoulder, which I was very glad to encourage. The next morning, remembering Jake's prayer of the night before, I tested my arm, as I often did, to see if I could raise it above my head, yet. To my joy, it went all the way up! I could touch the lintel of the door without any strain. The biggest thrill is praising God in dance again with both of my arms raised. But just being able stretch that left arm again to do simple things like put some bread in the toaster, instead of turning and using my right arm to reach, is really great.
I felt pretty excited about being able to get back on track with my career as an Administrative Assistant. After all, I took a year of Business Management and don't want that to go to waste, nor to have my dream to come to nothing. The thing that got me started on a career is office work in the first place, was a powerful dream from the Lord where He showed me as an Executive Assistant, handling my duties with confidence and ease. I made an appointment that day to see my Job Counsellor and started looking again for work.
A few days later, I pondered my healing, wondering if it really had any supernatural elements in it. Certainly, focussing on getting healed must have had a good effect on my body, but maybe it was just the work of the natural healing process that God has built into our bodies. After all, the specialist I saw said that 75% of people with frozen shoulder regain the mobility of their arm within two years. Well, whatever, to God be the glory. I decided that whether this was a natural healing or not, I was going to go forward and continue to contend for absolutely perfect health because it is in the atonement. Not that I have any serious health issues now, but PERFECT health is what Yehoshua paid for through His suffering. That includes not having to wear glasses anymore.
I figured I had better phone Revenue Canada to find out if they had sorted out my 2009 tax return, yet, as I would not have the time to make those calls during their office hours once I was working again. They had stopped sending notices telling me that I owed them $1000.00, which possibly was an indication that they were getting it sorted out.
The reassessment was an understandable error. I knew I wasn't going to get a T-4 slip from the company I worked for in 2009 because it had gone bankrupt, so I photocopied my pay slips and sent them in with my return. The trustee who was wrapping up the loose ends sent Revenue Canada the figures for the employees' 2009 earnings in June, after I had filed my return, and someone at Revenue Canada added the income reported for me onto what I had already claimed, double accounting my income from the company.
When I got the letter from Revenue Canada saying that I owed them money, even before I opened the envelope, God spoke to my heart and said to not be dismayed. I thought that was odd, as I was not expecting any bad news. The warning kept me calm when I read the letter. I used to hate it when people made mistakes with my finances and I had to fix them, mostly because I could not abide loose ends, but God has helped me to put the loose ends in His hands and not let them bother me so much.
I gave thanks in the situation right away, as the Bible tells us to. That always eases away my frustrations. I reminded myself that sorting out a problem is not a big deal. It was just an office task, albeit one that involved my own finances. Having experience in office work has helped me be more realistic about how fast things can be done, and also about how mistakes can be made, and that they are not always because of incompetence. Sometimes they happen simply because of lack of information.
I realized that the person at Revenue Canada who handled the trustee's information only saw what was on a computer, rather than my actual tax return. There might not have been anything on the screen that showed that I had already reported income from that company. In any case, it wouldn't help to get mad at the people from Revenue Canada for having made a mistake. I was just going to have to make phone calls until the matter was cleared up.
People tend to blow their stack when the government makes mistakes, even little ones, because they hear so much criticism about squandered tax money and bureaucratic inefficiencies that they become predisposed, if they are not careful to guard their thoughts and attitude, to be impatient and judgmental when dealing with government clerks. It not smart to be impolite to people who have the power to delay progress on rectifying a mistake. They might convince themselves that other matters are far more pressing, and leave your file at the bottom of a stack. Besides that, it is unkind to create stress through talking down to people. Yehoshua did not win the hearts of tax collectors, whom nearly everybody despised, by being unkind to them.
I have found that getting rid of a judgmental or defensive attitude towards government people makes it easy to be polite to them. Some people tend to react against inconveniences and slights that bureaucrats subject them to by declaring that it is their taxes that pay government wages, obstreperously crying, "You work for me, so do your job!" That probably makes as much impression as water on a duck's back, at best, and or is like throwing acid in their eyes, at worst. Dumb de dumb dumb.
If they are not in the position to pay income tax, some tend to think that they are entitled to benefits, that the world owes them something because of their disadvantages in life. They are entitled only because they fulfill the criteria to receive them, but the public does not owe it to the disadvantaged to support them. It's a compassion thing; not an obligation. Being thankful for benefits, while knowing that one does not owe it to anyone to compromise their integrity or to forgo their rights because of favours done for them, is a much healthier attitude that has a better chance of obtaining respect and cooperation.
I was also helped by some wise advice given to me by a public servant many years ago. He said to not set my hopes on money I expected to recover, but to accept that it is usually a long process when dealing with a government agency, and to consider it "found" money when I finally received it. I am passing that tip along because it made a huge difference in lowering my frustration level about how long it took to get the matter straightened out. If I had been counting on that money to pay my bills on time, I would have been blowing my stack over and over again, blaming circumstances for leaving me in the lurch, rather than dealing proactively with an unpleasant situation.
I figured that if worse came to worse and I got no action from Revenue Canada, I could always visit the MP for my area and ask them to use their influence. My ex–husband and I had to do that years ago. We discovered when his father retired that the clerk who had filled out their Social Insurance Number forms when they immigrated to Canada had gotten their numbers switched. According to their files, the man who was using the number my father–in–law was using wasn't old enough to claim his pension.
When we visited the office that handled this matter, the gentleman we had to see set aside his newspaper to listen to my husband explain his problem. I think our first mistake was the attitude we took when we saw that this man had been reading a newspaper, as we assumed that he had not been on a legitimate break. We despised him for slacking off when he should have been working, as well as for the lack of energy in his movements, but we held our tempers in check. We did not expect him do anything for us; he did not disappoint us in that. We did give him any positive motivation to want to help us by considering possible emotional strain that he was under in his life that was rendering him an apathetic, ineffectual individual. It seemed evident that he was bored with having to listen to us explain our problem and was just enduring our presence until he was free to get back to his newspaper.
As it might have taken years to get the mix–up with the Social Insurance numbers sorted out, at the rate that people responded when we tried to handle it ourselves, we talked to our MP. He got people moving on it, but not without having to make a lot of noise. He was furious that he was met with apathy, as well, though he was a Member of Parliament. I did not have to resort to visiting an MP this time. God gave me the wisdom to recognize that people who work for the tax department are not my enemy, and that there was nothing extraordinary about my problem because the handling of a huge amount of income tax returns is bound to result in errors made from time to time.
Over the course of a year, I plodded through the process of getting this matter straightened out. Sending in photocopies again of all my pay slips and writing a letter didn't seem to help, but the third or fourth time I called, the person I talked to decided to have my file physically pulled from storage. When I phoned on July 14 to find out what was happening with my return, the good news was that it had been resolved on the 11th, and that they acknowledged that I did not owe them any money. In fact, they discovered that they owed me $10.00.
I was thrilled when they told me the date that it was resolved. It was the very day that I was able to lift my arm again. God spoke to my heart and said, "You see, Lanny, I was doing some things for you that day." Yes, God put His signature on my healing, confirming that He had accelerated it. Maybe my shoulder would have become unstuck eventually through the natural healing processes of the body, even without prayer, but not this soon. Or I might not have ever been able to raise my arm very high again. After all, there is that 25% who don't recover. I am so glad that I discovered Andrew Wommack on the Internet because his teaching really helped keep my spirits up when my shoulder was stuck.
That is not to say that I was not at all depressed. After my shoulder was released, I felt so happy that I felt enthusiasm about going to church again. My attendance had dropped off after the problem with my shoulder developed. You would think that the normal reaction would be increased attendance. After all, wouldn't it help to have brothers and sisters praying for one's healing? Well, I did get prayer at church for healing, but I only ask a few times for prayer for a need and then decide that I just have to believe and give thanks. After that, to ask for prayer again seems to say to God that I don't believe in His goodness or that He is more powerful than the devil.
I don't think that I stayed away from church because I was mad at God. I was reading the Bible a lot and listening to a lot of preaching videos. I think that I just didn't feel up to dealing with other people and their ideocyncrasies when my body was at a low ebb, unless I really had to, as in the case of my grandson's teen rebellion resulting in him frequently staying at my place.
Infirmities and sickness are never a blessing, regardless that some Christians think they are. Physical challenges wear a person down emotionally; one is better company and can be much more active in ministry when they are in good health. Certainly a Christian can develop patience and other beauties of character when they are ill, but that is in spite of their illness, not because of it. Illness tends to make people cranky. It is maturity that helps make a person patient. When a person is patient, though they are ill, it is a marvel, but it would be interesting to see how much more patient they could be, if they were not ill.
God works all things together for good, though, if a person loves God, and He worked this illness together for good. That is not a platitude; it is a fact. My situation was not an exception. Only a week after my shoulder froze to the point where I couldn't get a job with it in that condition, my daughter called on me to help her out with my oldest grandson. He was testing boundaries, and she needed me to keep him at my place for several days a week.
It did him good to have to get up at 6 a.m. to get ready to go to school, and compare it to how it took him only five minutes to get to school when he was at home. When summer holidays began, he wanted to be able to visit his friends from school, which he could not do when he was staying miles away at his grandmother's house. He realized that he needed to be more cooperative with his mother, if he wanted the privilege and convenience of being part of her household. Eventually, my daughter did not need to send him over to my place so often and for so long.
The stress of having to deal with a rebellious child probably slowed down my healing, but I am very glad that I got to spend a lot of time with my grandsons during this past year, particularly since Heather decided to move out of town. She wants to live in the country and I sure can't blame her for that. I lived in the country in my earliest years and loved it. Of course, I was a toddler when I lived with my grandmother on her farm and didn't have to do any chores, which made it pure pleasure to be a farm kid. Okay, well maybe not 100% pleasure because my grandma was old–fashioned and put clothes on us that most people stopped wearing in the 1930's, but other than not being as attractively dressed as my cousins, living with my Grandma in the country was great.
Heather's decision to move up country was sudden, coming only a week after my shoulder unfroze. She had been wanting to go there for a long time, but it hadn't seemed feasible. One of the basement tenants in the house she rented gave her the motivation she needed to make it happen. The young woman was evidently selling drugs. People were coming to her door frequently for the purpose of buying them, and Heather found a crack pipe in the yard. That is not a good environment for children to grow up in.
Heather reported this problem to her landlord, who said that he would evict the other tenant. I was thanking God for the problem right from the start, and not just because the Bible says to give Him thanks in every situation. If the landlord did not act appropriately to take care of it, it would give Heather legitimate cause to get out of her lease. She was paying too much for rent, considering her budget, even before she felt it necessary to ask her room–mate to move out. Also, the landlord had persuaded Heather to put the hydro in her name and collect the other tenants' share of the bill from them, instead of having it in his name and taking on the responsibility of ensuring fairness in that matter.
The other tenant did not keep up with her obligations either to Heather or the landlord. She didn't pay her rent, and it was Heather who was paying for the woman's hydro. The landlord did not serve the tenant with an eviction notice until several weeks after he promised to do so, and the tenant did not make any effort to comply with the order. She undoubtedly knew that it would be weeks before a sheriff came on the scene to enforce it. Little Jake's father was intending to move into the suite when it was vacated, having worked out a deal with the landlord so that Heather could afford to stay instead of moving again so soon, but it was not being made available to him. Then the landlord changed his mind on how much he agreed to rent it for, intending to charge $250.00 more.
Heather was in a very bad situation. The tenant downstairs cut off her phone for several days, as she had access to the equipment, until someone pleaded with her on Heather's behalf to reset it. The hydro bill was increasing. The tenant had a habit of leaving lights on even when she was not home for several days. She cranked up her music really loud when Heather was home, turned off the power from time to time, was possibly smoking some kind of drug downstairs that made Jake feel sick when the smoke came up through the vents, and she threw Heather's clean laundry on the floor of the laundry room. The situation was a miserable mess, but as I say, it was providing Heather with justification to get out of her lease.
Initially, I hoped that Heather would find a cheaper place that was closer to me, but rents are rather high in this area. Heather didn't want to go back to the subsidized housing option. In her experience, when she lived in subsidized housing, the landlords did not keep up with their obligations and they charged more for rent than what they were supposed to. These places also tend to be high crime areas.
I had to admit that it would be a really good thing for the kids to live among farms and the bush. Connor wanted to go fishing. Heather could buy fresh produce and eggs from farms near at hand. The rents would be cheaper, the air cleaner, the pace of life slower. We have lots of relatives up country and Heather has friends who said she could camp on their property for free until she found a place to rent. New bathrooms and showers had just been installed and the camping grounds are fenced. Camping for a month will give the boys a better sense of having had a vacation before they start school again in September.
Of course, I feel sad about not getting to see Heather and the kids as much, or so easily as previously, but it was going to happen eventually. Seeing as I will be working, I won't have as much time to give them as before, and not having them around will reduce distractions from my writing. When I babysat the grandsons, I never got any writing done except very late at night when they were asleep, but I could not do that very often. I needed to get sleep, too, so that I would not be cranky with them during the day.
I reconciled myself to their move. I looked after the boys for several days to keep them out of Heather's hair while she packed, hauling them to the library with me when I needed to hook up to the Internet. That worked out okay. Jake was fairly quiet for at least an hour, as I kept him with me while Connor used my time on the public computers and I used my laptop. Otherwise, if Jake had been with Connor, he would have been running all over the library and making noise. When his time was up on the computer, Connor took Jake out to the playground on the library grounds and kept him occupied for a while. I could actually get some stuff done, though I could not stay as long at the library as when I am on my own.
Finally, Heather had her stuff packed, her friends jammed it into a U-Haul truck, and they drove it to the Okanagan to put it in storage for her there. Heather and the kids were to follow by bus, after spending a night at my place. I was thrilled to have all three of them under my roof all at once, even if it was only for a night. Heather's landlord had promised to be there at nine o'clock the next morning to pay back her damage deposit and reimburse her for the other tenant's hydro before they left.
Things did not remain happy for long. Her friends ran out of gas at 1 a.m., before they arrived at their destination, and had no money of their own to buy more. We were shocked. Heather had given them $500.00 for gas, which we thought was more than enough to get them there. It was, but we discovered later that an extra $200.00 had been used up because of an error. They had been told what button to push to put the truck in hauling mode, but they did not realize that it shut off when the truck stopped, and had to be reset every time it was started up again. I never heard of this gadget before, so I can't blame them for not knowing.
There was nothing Heather could do about the situation in the middle of the night. She had to wait for the bank to open in the morning before she could make arrangements to email them her bus fare, so that they could buy more gas and get the U-Haul returned to a depot before it cost her yet more money in late charges. She couldn't sleep that night for worrying about it. The next morning, she called her landlord when he didn't show up at nine. He told her that he was in White Rock, which is quite a distance away, and couldn't deal with it just then. Nice guy. I told Heather that it wasn't surprising that he had let her down, considering how tardy he was about evicting that other tenant after she had told him about the drug dealing.
Heather went out and sent the money off to her friends. She kept calling her landlord, leaving messages and texting, telling him that she needed it before her bus left at 2 p.m. I told her that she needed to tell him that she didn't have the bus fare anymore, because he was just stalling, figuring that once she was on that bus and gone, it wouldn't be so easy for her badger him about the money he owed. He didn't care anyway, even when she told him that she was homeless until she could get to the Okanagan. This man owns businesses and houses, but he lamented to her that he had no money left because he had just gotten home from vacation in Palm Springs, and he was sure that she would understand. Yeah, we understand.
The landlord said that he couldn't do anything for her before Monday, which was several days away, but I had my doubts that he would do anything more for her on Monday than what he had done for her at 9 a.m. that morning. I don't think he realized that I live in a little bachelor suite and that it is pretty crammed when four people are staying in it, but he might not have cared anyway. I stayed home all morning on Monday, waiting for him to come and collect the keys to the house and drop off Heather's money, or at least get her forwarding address, but he didn't show up.
Ah well, the delay gave me more time with my babies; I was glad for the reprieve. They weren't though. The boys were anxious to leave, especially Connor because he is older and had a better idea of the fun they were going to have when they reached their destination. He was furious at the delay, and when Connor is furious, it is quite unpleasant to have to deal with his whining and rants. He kept saying to Heather, "You lied to me! You said we would be leaving today!"
I explained to him that parents are not gods, and regardless that Heather had said that they were going to catch the bus that day, sometimes things spin out of a parents' control. They can't always make other people live up to their obligations and they don't have inexhaustible reserves of money to fund alternative solutions. Then he was angry at the landlord, but that doesn't help either. The landlord wasn't around to hear him ranting, but we had to.
Heather cried about the situation and just wanted to nap, so that she could forget about it for a while. The kids and I tried to cheer her up with funny animal videos, but it was like pulling teeth to get her to look at the CAT THAT BARKS LIKE A DOG and another one about a DOG WITH A GUILTY CONSCIENCE. She laughed at them, and also at a video about a CAT BURGLAR named Dusty, but refused to watch the next video, which was of a COCKATIEL dancing to a song called I Whip Ma Hair Back and Forth, though the kids said she loves that song. She just curled up under a blanket and it was left to me to deal with Connor. Having the kids stay with me wasn't turning out to be a lot of fun.
When Heather woke up, I figured that I had better get her to do something that would help her situation, rather than let her mope around here and cry some more. Her friends had forgotten three of the packing blankets for the U-Haul, so Heather brought them to my place. She had to take them up country with her and return them to the U-Haul depot, or she would be charged $10.00 for each of them. I had put them in a large suitcase on rollers, as I figured they would stay cleaner in there than in the cart that Jake's other Grandma had given her. I now phoned U-Haul and asked if she could return them down here, and get a receipt so that she would not be charged for them. The person I talked to said that she could do that, and she wouldn't be charged extra for them anyway.
I urged Heather to take care of it, as I had put her stuff in two roller cases, and really only wanted to give her one of them. If she did not have to take those blankets up with her on the bus, I could keep my smaller case. She reluctantly set out, her feet already blistered and sore, but she had obligations to the U-Haul company and to me. Connor headed off to the library to get onto the Internet, so that gave me a few peaceful hours with Jake. Those two hours of quietness were a little oasis in a tempestuous day.
Connor returned before Heather did. We had a fight. I needed to use his cell phone to call Heather about a problem that had arisen in her absence, but he said that I couldn't, and he did not clearly explain why. I thought it was simply because he wanted to act like a little jerk, because of the tone of voice he was using. I ended up tossing him out of the house and locking the door, telling him he could stay outside until his mother got back. He got on his phone to her and complained about how mean I was being to him, but, other than that, he stayed quiet and orderly outside in the yard. In the end, I discovered that he was running out of minutes on his phone, and that he knew that Heather was already aware of the problem that I wanted to phone her about.
I wondered what was taking Heather so long. It turned out that the nearest U-Haul listed in the phone book was not there anymore. She went to the next nearest one, but it had no equipment onsite. The man there sent her to the nearest U-Haul that had trucks parked at it, but that was the outlet that had told her before that she had to return the blankets to the same place as the truck. She went there anyway and got the same answer. They would not take the blankets back, regardless that a U-Haul employee at another location had said it was okay. Her feet were now in really bad shape. The flipflops she was wearing had ravaged them and she felt totally discouraged about having wasted her time and energy and suffered all that pain for nothing.
After I became aware of what a bad problem she had with her flipflops, I gave her pretty pair of sandals that I found comfortable to wear. I apologized for sending her off on a wild goose chase, but I didn't feel totally sorry about it. If she listened to me and thanked the Lord in every situation, she would not be so frustrated and mopey when things don't go as expected, but Heather has not felt ready to commit her life to the Lord, so she hasn't paid attention to advice like that. For the sake of not having to look at her drooping around here and me having to listen to Connor nag her about the delay, I was glad to have gotten her out of the house for a while, and I was proud of her that she made some effort to take care of a task that needed to be done, regardless of her doubts about the outcome and the physical discomforts in carrying it out.
Her compliance showed respect for me, which has been very difficult for her to develop because her father worked so actively to undermine my children's respect for me when she was a child. When I got my kids back from him, they soon realized they had been told a lot of lies, but battered emotions don't always heal instantly once the truth is known. Heather gave me a really hard time back then, but she has come a long way since.
After more calls to the landlord, Heather resigned herself for having to remain in the Lower Mainland for another couple weeks, until she got her disability cheque. (She suffers from anxiety disorder, which is not surprising, considering the tumult in her childhood.) She didn't want to ask anyone to lend her money, as it is rather humiliating to have to do that. I didn't have enough to lend or give her for bus fare, and I really didn't want her to go right away anyway. If only she would cheer up and Connor would calm down, we could all have a good time together.
Heather complained to a friend on the phone that she did not have a change of clothes with her, as she had expected to stay only one night at my place. I took her out to the shed and dug through the clothes I had stored there, giving her several pretty tank tops and a black and white crinkle skirt that looks smashing on her.
Connor, by this time, had apologized to me for his previous behaviour. I knew that he really meant it because, when he asked several times afterwards if he could use my laptop, he didn't get nasty when I kept saying no. When Heather and I were busy in the shed, he saw his folding picnic table that I had stored there, sneaked it out while we were distracted with the clothes, and set up a tea party for us by the side of the house in the shade. It was a wonderful surprise when he led us to it, cups and beverages and food in array. That kid is really such a darling, in spite of some of the difficulties that he gives us. We all settled into a relaxed and pleasant mood, enjoying each other's company. Heather and I were glad that now neither of us had to cook supper, and I pointed out to Heather that she would not have gotten those nice clothes if she had left that morning. Jake added to the pleasure of the party by taking all the condiments back into the house afterwards.
The prospect of staying with one's grandmother's doesn't hold much attraction for a young boy when he knows he could be fishing and camping in the outdoors instead, so it is not surprising that Connor became restless again as the evening wore on. And Heather was still depressed about the prospect of sleeping on the floor with her boys for the next two weeks. She put a DVD into her laptop for them to watch, to keep them quiet while she again sought escape from her troubles in sleep. Well, what is the point of having her stay with me, if all she is going to do is sleep or cry? I asked to borrow her cell phone and then went outside to call some friends, to ask them to pray that Heather's landlord would relent and bring her the money he owed her, so that she could get on with her trip.
Neither of the people I called were home, so I left messages. Only half an hour later, an uncle phoned to ask Heather if she needed money. One of the friends who helped drive the truck to the Okanagan, after not being able to get Heather to agree to phone this uncle, phoned and told him about the situation. An hour later, the uncle arrived and put a wad of cash in her hands, enough for bus fare and to buy food on the trip, insisting several times that she did not have to pay him back. Thank God for generous, kind–hearted uncles.
I quickly realized that I was the one who had been holding up the trip, because God was waiting for me to release Heather and the kids. I had been able to accept the first stage of separation, which was when Heather announced that they were leaving. When I had asked my friend Val to pray about Heather's difficult situation with her fellow tenant a few weeks earlier, she had prayed that I would detach from the kids. I recognized that the Holy Spirit had led her to pray that way, and had supplied the power to fulfill it, as I could clearly see the advantages that moving would have for them and be happy on their behalf, rather than being focused only on how much I would miss them.
I was reconciled to their leaving and thought it was interesting that my son Andrew is now in the Okanagan, though he didn't know that Heather was moving there. I was so glad for the delays, though, thinking of them as reprieves that enabled me to have the kids around for extra days. When they arrived to spend the night, Connor rolled his eyes and said, "This is the third time, now, that we have said good–bye!" The means for them to leave, though, did not come through until I finally was willing to let them go.
God's kindness and patience and gentleness amazes me. He used this situation to show me that I have more influence with Him than what I realized. He was kind to me as He was kind to Abraham, when Abraham had to separate from his family.
Preachers have criticized Abraham because he took his father and brother with him. They think that he delayed in obeying God about leaving his kindred, but the Bible says that Lot was his nephew, and they never chide him about taking Lot to Canaan with him. When Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees, he probably left a lot of relatives behind.
The relatives that Abraham was closest to were his father and his brother, and the children of a brother who was deceased, one of whom he was married to, for Sarah was his brother Haran's daughter. Her name was initially given as Iscah. Just as it is nowadays, people frequently had more than one name. Abraham's brother Nahor was married to Haran's other daughter, Milcah. Lot was both Abraham's nephew and his brother–in–law. God let Abraham prolong his contact with his father and his brother and his niece Milcah, rather than wrench him totally and immediately from his whole family, when there was no urgent need to do so. He also did it in consideration of Sarah and Lot, to help them make the transition of leaving their culture, their relatives, and the lovely home they were raised in.
It is not an easy thing to go from living in a mansion to living in a tent. Just living in an ordinary house and then roaming about with a tent is culture shock. I read of a person who was raised in Coober Pedy, where the people live underground to escape the desert heat. This woman moved to Adelaide, but had to move back to Coober Pedy because she thought it was too creepy to live in a house that creaked, rather than in one that has been carved out of rock.
As for the matter of Abraham and his brother marrying their nieces, the only kind of incest that was taboo in those days was sexual relations between a parent and their child, which is extremely emotionally unhealthy for reasons that are obvious to people who have sane minds. Brothers and sisters married in the beginning, because there was nobody else for them to marry, and their health was so perfect and strong that they could sustain the practice without producing children with genetic defects due to inbreeding. Since brothers and sisters could marry, it was considered acceptable for uncles and aunts to marry nieces and nephews, as well, such as was the case with Moses's parents. His mother was his father's aunt. Generally, though, when uncles and aunts married nieces and nephews, the couples were close to each other's age.
I think that it would have been considered an abuse of trust for an uncle or aunt who was old enough to be the niece's or nephew's parent to marry them, if they had ever acted like a surrogate parent. The exception would be Seth's wife, for she was born before him and designated to be Abel's wife, but after he was killed, she had to wait for her parents to give birth to another boy. Weird, eh. Can you put yourself in her place and imagine holding a baby in your arms when you are already an adult, knowing that some day he will be your husband? Men might not have much trouble with marrying someone young enough to be their daughter, but women generally like their husbands to be a little older or the same age, or at least not much younger. If husbands are too young, they tend to be immature, and immaturity gets on the nerves. If they are much older, they tend to be patronizing and bossy, and that gets on the nerves, too. Abraham was only ten years older than Sarah.
As time went on, human health degenerated due to environmental issues. People noticed that marrying close relatives frequently produced deformities in the children, so marriage to close relatives became less common. If this were not so, Abrahram could not have fooled people into thinking that he was not married to Sarah when he said that she was his sister.
She was his sister, in the sense of the word at that time. People referred to all of their descendents as their children. Sarah was actually Terah's grand–daughter. That was how she could be the daughter of Abraham's father, but not the daughter of Abraham's mother. Her mother was Haran's wife, Abraham's sister–in–law. Abraham still did not completely own up to having misled Abimelech and his people, after he was caught in his lie. To save face, he left them with the impression that Sarah was his half–sister, rather than admit that she was not even that closely related, but was actually his niece.
If he said at the outset that she was his niece, it would not have explained why her tent was situated so closely to his, and people would have been suspicious of the familiarity of his manner towards her. Women lived with their families, even after they married, as God commanded men to leave their fathers and mothers and to cleave to their wives. He did not command women to leave their families. Women stayed with their family after marriage, so that their male relatives could ensure that the husband treated her with dignity and fairness. If it was known that Sarah was Abraham's niece, he would have been asked why she did not live with her father. If he explained that her father was dead, as her protector, they would have expected him, as her guardian, to call her his daughter. A sister could talk to her brother as her equal, but a daughter or unmarried niece under his protection would always speak to him intreatingly.
At any rate, in Ur of the Chaldees, Abraham's family was very closely connected, all living in one household. The women were Terah's grand–daughters, and the men were his sons, so this is why they all lived with him. Haran's wife might have been one of Terah's daughters, which would explain why Haran's kids ended up with his father, rather than raised by another family. Abraham's father and brother were idolaters, but they were willing to leave Ur with Abraham, though he had turned to worship only the Creator and no longer bowed down to graven images. They recognized something in his relationship with the Creator that was superior to what they had, though they were not ready to abandon their idols all together. The other relatives probably were not as open to God, so they had to be left behind.
Contrary to what I have were heard some pastors say, Abraham did not disobey God, or delay to obey Him. He left Ur, he left kindred. Some of his kindred chose to go with him, probably due to his persuasion, but we should always try to persuade others to serve God, or at least, to get them into a situation where it will make it easier for them to make that decision, if they are not totally ready for it. Terah and Nahor were willing to travel with Abraham at least for a while, to see if they could trust God like Abraham was trusting God, though he was the youngest son. At any rate, he was going to go, even if they stayed, but when he went, he would be taking their beloved Sarah with him. They would be losing not one, but two cherished family members.
The fact that Abraham settled in Haran for a while, and did not leave it until after his father died, does not mean that he disobeyed God. God probably did not mean for him to go directly to Canaan. He may not have told him until after his father died where it was that He wanted Abraham and Sarah to settle. It could be that God was considerate of an old man's feelings and let him be with all his children until he died.
It could also be that Canaan was not ready for Abraham, yet. He might have been met with more hostility than he could handle, if he had arrived sooner, but when he did get there, he was able to make alliances with some of the inhabitants. It could be that the sins of the Canaanites had not yet reached the point where God would give their land to another, but He knew that they were heading in that direction, and would not turn back, so He could promise in advance the land to Abraham for his descendents. It just might not have been time for Abraham to actually set foot on it, until the inhabitants cemented their doom by further acts of outrageous rebellion against God.
Even when he left Haran, Abraham did not go immediately into Canaan. He obviously received direction, but still may not have been given his destination. Flavius Josephus said that Abraham ruled in Damascus for ten years. That length of time does not reconcile with the Bible's timeline, but it is probable that Abraham camped there for a while and had great influence in its affairs. His steward, whom he made his heir before he had any sons, was from Damascus.
When God tells us to do things, sometimes they have to be obeyed immediately, but sometimes His commands require a time of preparation before we can fulfill them. If a person is preparing to do God's will, according to Luke 12:47, they are in obedience mode, though their obedience will not be complete until they actually carry out the commands that they prepared themselves for, if God gives them time to carry out the orders. If we tell a kid to go rake the lawn, we have to give them time to put on their shoes and go to the shed to get the rake. If they drop dead before they get out of the shed, we can't say they disobeyed us because they didn't rake the lawn. Sometimes God's objective in telling us to do something that He doesn't give us time to fulfill is simply to get us to develop character through preparation activities, and we get rewards in Heaven for preparing to do His will.
God has spoken to me about things I have to do, which will entail some separation from my children. Many years ago, He gave me dreams that showed me travelling with a team, and I didn't even want to go. I would have been very happy to stay home, but He had gifted me in such a way that made the rest of the team want to have me along, regardless that I am a woman and there was danger, besides being physically challenging even for them. I started thinking about how I would make it clear to them that they were not to expect me to do the cooking.
I used to want to travel; such were the fantasies of my youth, but I eventually learned more (through books and the Internet) about the evils that are in the world and how difficult it is to travel. By the time I had those dreams about travelling with a team, I was approaching middle age and well on my way to not caring if I never left home.
The thought occurred to me that, even if I never travelled here on Earth, I would not be subjected to the type of regrets that unbelievers have when they reach the end of their life, but have not fulfilled their dreams. Life goes on for the redeemed. In Heaven, I will get to meet many people of many nationalities, and visit neighbourhoods there that reflect the best of the Earth life that those people knew. Some places are going to have a distinct English flavour, or Swiss, or French, or Australian, or Indian. Some places will probably reflect certain ages in time. Heaven is going to be fun, fun, fun! I won't have to be concerned about bandits, or bedbugs, or Montezuma's Revenge, or getting ripped off by a dishonest taxi driver up there.
After I had considered the fact that I won't have regrets at the end of my life that I did not live life enough, if I did not travel, I had to start praying that I would go, when God told me to, and that He would help me to enjoy it. Compared to the rest of the world, where I live right now is one of the most beautiful places going. It has mountains and a river and beaches, rich, dark soil, and lots of beautiful greenery. The streets are cleaner than streets in many other places of the world and it is rare to have to dodge bullets when venturing into them. I've never had to, so far.
It has resonated in my heart for a long time now that Moses was eighty before he started his ministry. He was almost ready to retire, and looking forward to it, when God told him it was time to go back to Egypt. Whenever God is ready for me to go, it won't matter how old I am. If He doesn't send me out until I am ninety, it's okay. The timing is up to Him and He will supply the strength for me to do what I have to do. I have a friend who didn't start to travel as a missionary until she was in her sixties or seventies, after she became a widow. When he was alive, her husband wouldn't let her travel because of her poor health. She is in her eighties and urging her friends to pray for her to gain enough strength to satisfy her doctor that she can go to Africa one more time.
Her kids probably insist that she meet the medical requirements, though I know of another missionary who was nearly dead from cancer, but got on the plane anyway, and as soon as his feet hit African soil, he regained his strength. His daughter said that he used to wake her at 4 a.m. with his singing to the Lord, and when she complained, he'd cheerfully urge her to get up because there was work to do.
Back when I had those dreams about travelling with a team, I thought my departure would be soon, but it didn't turn out that way. My daughter had a baby and she was only seventeen years old. The baby needed me, and I am thankful that I got to help out a lot with him. He became to me what Obed was to Naomi, my consolation for what I suffered when my ex–husband took off with my children and kept me out of contact with them for five years. I used to cry at the thought of leaving Connor, so I am very grateful that I got to be heavily involved in his life longer than I thought I would be. I wish I had gotten to be with Jake for as long, but I guess he doesn't need me as much as Connor did.
God has moved my kids to the Okanagan, but I know He wants me to stay where I am for now. When Heather told me that she was making arrangements to move, I sensed Yehoshua reassuring me that He would help me cope with the separation, that He was holding out His arms to comfort me. The way the money came through for them so quickly once I released them in my heart to leave showed me that God cares about my feelings for them, and had been keeping them here until I was ready to let go. It was so gentle of Him to do that, and it makes sense. Why would He fill my heart again and again with His love, so that I could be more patient with them, and then expect me to feel nothing exceptional when I had to be separated from them? But I feel that I am being buffered; what I feel is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It is like I am wrapped up in layers of soft cotton.
When Yehoshua said in Luke 14:46 that we had to hate our parents and children and brothers and sisters in order to follow Him, He didn't mean that He actually wants us to hate them. He meant that He wants us to love Him so much more than them, that what we feel for our family and friends looks almost like hate in comparison. It means that we need to steel our hearts against their protests when He tells us to do something that they object to. If we put God first and way ahead of anyone else, He enables us to love others much better than what we would on our own. This is not only because He loves them and wants to bless them through us, but also because He coaxes us to forgive their offenses, out of love for Him.
Yes, that last day together sure had some rough spots. Connor gave us such a hard time in the first half of the day that I told him that the way he was behaving was making me happy that he was leaving and giving me a break from having to deal with him. I think that got through to him, after he had some time to think about it. It was a huge relief that he decided to be reasonable about the delay, instead of continuing to make it more miserable for his mother than what it already was.
The next morning, I had to leave the house for an appointment before the kids would be ready to leave. They weren't going to be there when I got home. I felt annoyed when Jake decided to tease me, when I wanted to give him a hug and kiss good–bye. He isn't as easy to get kisses out of, as what Connor was. All I had to do with Connor is to not kiss me, and he would be all over me while I laughed my head off and kept telling him to not kiss me. Jake never fell for that. He just figured, "Okay, I won't." He protests that other people are looking, so I cash in on that when we are alone and tell him, "Give me a kiss; nobody's looking." Having overcome his objection, he doesn't always know what else to say, so he gives in. He wanted to stick to his guns that morning, though.
I felt hurt. I pouted, and it bothered me that I was being such a baby about not getting a kiss, but I continued to acknowledge to myself that I felt hurt, rather than deny it. I told Jake that he didn't have to kiss anyone, if he didn't feel like it. I don't want him to be an unwilling pleaser. It was hard to pull myself together and not do the guilt trips, but I managed to get out the door without bullying him into giving me a kiss. Heather said that he teases her like that, too. I told her that his regrets would have to teach him, when he realized that he had missed his opportunity to kiss me good–bye.
As I walked up the street, I struggled with my feelings of frustration and sadness and anger about Jake not giving me a kiss. I remembered that two days before, when I had been reading a book in Value Village while the kids played with the toys, Jake sought me out and gave me a kiss, then went back to the toy section. That told me that he realized he was going to miss me when they moved away, though when I had asked him before if he would miss me, he said no. I willed myself to forgive him for not giving me a good–bye kiss.
I no sooner did that when I heard little bare feet slapping on the pavement behind me. After I left, Heather had gently said to him, "Are you really going to let Gramma go without kissing her good–bye? You won't see her for a long time." The look on his face told her that he wished he had kissed me. She told him, "I think you could catch up to her, if you run." It made my heart leap for joy when I heard running behind me and turned to see him there.
I always feel like I have catching up to do with Jake, because I have known him for only five years, whereas Connor has had twice as long to get attention from me. I want to have a special bond with him, like I have with Connor, and this last year, something important happened that helped bring Jake and me closer together. Connor was so sensitive to hearing God when he was a toddler, whereas Jake seemed to be missing that facility.
Then God gave me a dream in which Jake was sitting in a tub of water, and he slipped under the surface and drowned. I grabbed him and pulled him out of the tub, threw him on his belly, kneed him in the back to force the water out of him, and he threw up some really horrible stuff. To be quite frank, it was poop, and I had swab his mouth out afterwards to clean it. God showed me that the poop vomit represented a spirit of unbelief, and that the dream was a type of intercession that I made for him. After that, Jake no longer seemed indifferent when I talked to him about God.
It is ironic when one considers the kind of things that people say when they don't want to submit their lives to God. Some have said that the Bible is a load of whatever, but from God's perspective, it is their unbelief that is a load of you–know–what. This is probably because there is so much evidence in Nature that points to the Creator's existence and His goodness. The only way that a person can believe in the theory of evolution is if they ignore the evidence that contradicts it. As for worshipping graven images, that's even more ridiculous. And to believe that one's own self is a god is pathetic, seeing as the world existed before any of us did; we had nothing to do with making it materialize. We are all going to die, except for the redeemed who are still alive when Yehoshua returns. It behooves us to not theorize, but to diligently search out the truth, so that we can find out what the Creator expects of us, and make certain that we are prepared to meet Him when He calls us to account for our deeds. Eternity is way too long to take the chance that we just cease to exist after we die, or that God will let us into Heaven, regardless of having rejected His Son as our Saviour. By the way, an insincere prayer of acceptance doesn't buy fire insurance.
I had the wonderful privilege of baptizing Jake before he moved up country. A week ago, my study of the Bible took me to the passage where Paul talked about how God had not sent him to baptize, but to preach. I recalled how when Connor was seven, while listening to me read about the Ethiopian eunuch whom Philip baptized, he stopped me to ask, "Have I been baptized?" I said no and he demanded why not. I had offered to baptize him the year before, but he hadn't been interested. Now he wanted to be baptized.
I figure that you got to strike while iron is hot. I wasn't always able to get him on a weekend to take him to church, and he might have changed his mind, if he'd had to sit through a whole hour of teaching, or several classes on it, to prepare him for baptism. It doesn't take a whole hour to give a kid the basics about baptism. I no longer had the kiddie pool to baptize him in, so I sat him in a plastic tub of water in my shower stall, and baptized him with two pitchers of water. Ideally, I prefer total immersion, but God looks on the heart and makes allowances for what we have on hand.
I wondered if Jake was ready for baptism, having declared to me a day or two before, that he had asked Yehoshua into his heart. I asked him if he wanted me to baptize him, explaining what it was. He asked, "Will I go to Heaven, if I get baptized?" I said, "No, baptism is not what saves people. It is repenting of our sins and receiving Yehoshua as our Saviour that gets us into Heaven, if we are sincere, but Yehoshua told us to be baptized. It is like burying a dead body, like how He was put in a tomb when He died, and when we come up out of the water, that is like rising from the dead, like how He rose from the dead, and living a new life with Him. Besides that, at your age, if you died, you would go to Heaven anyway, because all children go to Heaven."
Jake appreciated that I didn't try to manipulate him into getting baptized and he agreed to let me do it then and there. I filled up a plastic tub with water, sat him in it, and poured a couple of pitchers over his head, as I had done for Connor. I cautioned him that this was neither bath time or play time, that it was a sacred time. He did not object to getting out of the tub right away afterwards, though he normally loves to play with his plastic animals in my tub. I told him that he could get baptized again, at some later date, by a pastor and have his church friends there, if he wanted to. I said that what I had done was good enough, but God would not object to him having a more formal kind of baptism later. I told him, "You have declared to satan and his fallen angels that you belong to Yehoshua."
It thrilled my soul to have the privilege of baptizing Jake before he left town, afforded by his consent to it. It comforted me a great deal about the increased spiritual protection that it gives him. Thank You, Lord! What a wonderful surprise that God brought this about, leading me to read that particular passage of Scripture that morning. By the way, there is nothing in the Bible that says that only pastors can baptize people. If a person is born again and has the proper attitude about baptizing someone, they are entitled to do it, particularly if there isn't anyone else on hand who has more spiritual authority. In regards to women performing baptisms, the Bible says that God does not differentiate between genders in spiritual matters.
So, now my little chicks are gone, but still covered by the Heavenly Father's wings. I came home late that evening, putting off having to see them gone, the bedding they had slept on all folded and stacked. I cried a little, but felt like Jesus was cuddling me when I considered how long He let me be around Connor before He took him away, and how He eased Heather and the kids away so gently the day before, holding them there until I was ready to let go.
Even so, I reverted to a bit of escapism that night to avoid thinking about them not being there. In spite of how I feel that we are better off not watching TV at all, I downloaded some Jane Austen videos onto my laptop when I was at the library and I watched them all night. Pride and Prejudice, Northhanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion kept me company. I knew I shouldn't watch them, but I still felt Yehoshua holding me in His arms, in spite of what I was doing. I knew in my heart that God had better things He wanted me to do, but I wanted to do this. At least, I picked the better kind of movies to watch.
Yehoshua was not only merciful, but He even used the last set of videos that I watched, another genteel, Victorian drama called Wives and Daughters, to speak to me, like He used to sometimes in the former days when watching movies was a habit that I didn't feel as convicted about as I do now. There was a situation in the movie where one of the squire's sons disappointed his father. He was a brilliant, young man whom everyone expected to do really well at university, but he flunked his courses and got deeply into debt. His father was furious and suspected all sorts of bad things about his son, but the truth of the matter was that the he had fallen in love with a French woman who was a servant, had secretly married her, and had borrowed money for her support. His father hated the French, would have considered the woman below their class, and he wanted his son to marry a wealthy woman because they needed money in order to maintain their property.
The son tried to hang on long enough to get training as a lawyer. He continued living with his father as if he were single, so that he would not be cut off financially, but the stress of keeping his secret undermined his health and killed him. I blubbered over the scene where his father carried the son's dead body into the house, weeping over him, regretting that he had been so hard on him while he lived, regardless of what he imagined his faults to be. When his son's friend told him the truth of the matter, he felt worse. The squire was comforted when he learned that his son had left behind a child. Initially, he thought the kid's mother would be okay with him taking him away from her, as long as he paid for her support, but friends persuaded him to accept the mother.
I thought about the regrets that old fellow in the movie had about how he had tried to impose his will on his son, and thought of how, because God cares about my feelings, He prevented Heather and the kids from leaving, though it was His will for them to go to the Okanagan. We sure can make a mess when get in the way of what God wants to do. What if there is going to be an earthquake soon and God removed them there for their safety? I am not predicting that there is going to be one soon, but you never know.
God's comfort continues. The next evening that I came home, feeling somewhat depressed, I looked to see if I'd had any messages while out. I discovered that my answering machine was unplugged, but when I hooked it up again, there was an abrupt message from Heather asking me to call her. When had she called? How long had the machine been unplugged? It looked like it had slipped. I called and told her that I got her message. She was surprised, as the answering machine had not been on earlier when she called, and she couldn't leave a message.
She just wanted to tell me that I could phone her for free anytime after 7 p.m., as she had gotten her cell phone plan down here, so it wasn't long distance. Oh joy! I can talk to them every day! Praise the Lord! They won't seem so far away if I can hear their voices. I can get daily updates on what they are doing. Heather loves her new home; she says it is so beautiful in the country. Yes, I remember how fresh the air was on sunny mornings when I ate breakfast at Grandma's house with the kitchen door open. And Heather said that the boys behaved surprisingly well on the bus trip there.
Later, I realized what happened with the phone. Heather must have called me when she was dragging those blankets around, trying to return them, but I was outside with the kids. When we got back inside, Connor misbehaved and I said I was going to call his mother. He unplugged the answering machine, thinking that he was turning off my phone. Then the phone stopped working shortly after that for a couple days because of network problems, so I didn't notice that the answering machine was off. I got Heather's message right when I needed to hear it!
Separation from loved ones is more bearable for me, too, when I consider how, in Heaven, we will never be separated again in a way that we feel lack. We will be happy doing whatever it is that God directs, and when it is time to visit each other, we can be together as quick as a thought. As Christians, we really need to think a lot about what Heaven is like. It gives us patience and persistance. Some have said that we can't be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good, but I heard a wiser person say that if we aren't heavenly minded, we will be no earthly good. Very little, at any rate. Life is not all about getting to have everything our own way. We have to grow up and make the best of the things that we can't, or shouldn't, control.
Copyright © 2011, Lanny Townsend
Page modified by Lanny Townsend on August 9, 2011
Scripture references on this website are closely paraphrased from e–Sword's King James Bible.