You are looking at a miracle. The miracle here is not only that our daughter Sharayah graduated Summa Cum Laude with Honors from Liberty University on May 9th, but that Teri was able to attend, and go through a grueling 11 hour day of navigating TWO graduation ceremonies and over 34,000 people swarming the Liberty Campus to celebrate the over 7,000 graduates that day! This photo was taken toward the end of the day, and Teri, while tired, was still holding up well. Amazing!
Just 8 weeks ago Teri was in the hospital with Septicemia, and still going through harsh Chemo treatments. The Chemo stopped on April 2nd, but she was left with 2 large and deep open wounds, debilitating exhaustion, and a pic-line coming out of her left arm. Today the pic-line remains, but one wound is closed, the other almost closed, her hair is growing back, and her energy is back to where she can navigate graduations, Walmart, and even my busy schedule! Praise God!
At the end of the last blog, I gave a personal quote that so many of you graciously responded to:
"To be accepting of God's will and leading, but then not accepting of what the enemy has in store for us once we are there, is a skill in timing and discernment that all who would be abiders and fighters must learn to navigate well."
I promised to elaborate more on that, as Teri and I have been learning and living it out daily. And it comes down to this truth laced throughout the Old and New Testament: two things are many times true at the same time: We are eternal beings, but our flesh is wasting away. Concerning Salvation, we are Justified if we are "in Christ", but we are still being Sanctified, and we will be Glorified. And we are feasting on the goodness of God and his provision, and yet we are surrounded by enemies (Psalm 23). Peace can get "hostile" in Philippians 4:6&7 when it stands ready to take down anything that comes to attack your heart and your mind. And we can fight, and abide at the same time.
There is a special place, a place of no fear, a place of perfect peace, a place full of joy, a place that is forged with an eternal weight of glory in the face of light momentary afflictions, a holy place that is reserved for those who would fully "Abide in Christ".
One of the greatest lessons I will take from this season of life and the front row seat I had in watching a godly woman of God wade through it, is that if one is abiding in Christ, where their identity, their self-esteem, their life, and their very future is hidden in Him, they are safe from the tyranny of the possible and they are protected by a shield of faith and a helmet of salvation. One who is abiding in Christ is much better positioned to take every thought captive unto the obedience of Christ whilst the temptation to fall into the fear of dying a horrible death due to a degenerative disease stalks their every waking thought. One who is abiding in Christ sees themselves as already seated with Him in the heavenlies, and therefore understands their very life, and the value of their life, is measured by nothing else except the perfect will of the God who is free to spend them as He will, and nothing will befall them except that which is allowed within His will, and nothing will happen to them except whatever He has already sovereignly decided will give Him the greater glory.
I find that as I journey through this life and encounter others who are dying or in pain, even the persecuted church that faces far greater dangers than Teri and I have been facing, that those who do not give up in despair are those who have recognized that by abiding in Jesus' words of truth and the Holy Spirit's indwelling presence of power have gained a higher perspective, an elevated level of living, that does not succumb to the decay of this world and the victimizing shackles of self-pity, but rather projects the fragrance of Christ, the economy of heaven, and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
I have had the invaluable privilege of being married to a woman who is doing this, who is living this, who is literally abiding in Christ, and my walk with Christ, even as a missionary, a musician, and a preacher of the gospel, will never be the same, but will forever be impacted by the force of a peace that went beyond all understanding and has inscribed our lives with the autograph of Jesus.
I hope the sharing of our journey has encouraged you. Thank you for journeying with us, and encouraging us along the way. Thank you for your love and prayers. Thank you for bearing our burdens, and thus fulfilling the law of Christ. May God bless you with all the fulness of what He has in store for you, as you Abide in Him.