Wednesday, February 5, 2014

When the Road is Unclear, Hang on to What you Already Know

I remember many years ago, while facing a storm on the home-front, it appeared to be the end of my life as I knew it. Circumstances had brought me and my young daughter to Dallas, where my twin sister lived at the time.

On our first evening there, I found a small spiral notebook and wrote these words: 2/17/93 - Flew with Anna to Dallas. Cloud cover so dense, like the uncertainty and fear inside. I am so afraid. Yet, from somewhere within I also feel a strength (it can't be my own) to put one foot in front of the other, to plod on and seek a way out of this fog. There must be a clearer place ahead.

On the nightstand, Gayle kept a small box of promises from the Bible. I drew one out and read: "In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:6).

The next day found me on my knees, asking God to direct my steps.  That evening, I scribbled these words in my makeshift journal: 2/18/93 — My predicament is ever before me. At breakfast, at lunch, and in the strips of evening sun on the floor, I see sorrow’s face. My prayer today has been, 'Lord, I need a word from you.' And while I would like directions, I'll settle for just a word.

Looking back at this entry, I remember the desperation I felt to hear a definitive word from God. Something I could sink my teeth into and know, without a doubt, what my next step should be.

Perhaps you've experienced a similar time in your own life, a time when you had no direction and wondered how on earth you would be able to cope if so-and-so happened. What on earth would you do? How would you manage without an instruction booklet?


The morning after that despondent journal entry,  I picked up a book from a basket on my sister's living room floor, a collection of quotes and passages from a host of sources. 


On Page 137, I found these words from Francis de Sales: 


“Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear; rather look to them full of hope that, as they arise, God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them. He is your keeper. He has kept you hitherto. Do you but hold fast to his dear hand, and he will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand, he will bear you up in his arms. Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same eternal Father, who cared for you today, will care for you tomorrow and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering, or will give you unfailing strength to bear it. So be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings."

It's easy, in times of distress, to allow circumstances to cloud our thinking, but reading these comforting words, at a critical time in my life, it was as if God had sent me a personal letter to remind me what I already knew—that no matter what happened tomorrow, or any day after that, He would be there helping me through it all. I'm not sure I've ever experienced a more powerful moment of reassurance. 

As the next nine days unfolded, my sister and I prayed earnestly together, and every evening brought another amazing promise from the Lord. I could tell you much more, but, in the end, we witnessed a small miracle. The hard circumstances that brought me there totally reversed. A door that had been slammed shut, suddenly opened. The way was made clear. But it could have gone either way. Life can be like that.


Many years have passed since I first discovered the words of Francis de Sales, but I've never forgotten them; they are stamped in my memory. And in the years that followed, I've shared them with a host of friends who were in the midst of their own struggles. Even today, whenever I'm trying to stay above water, I recall these words and am strengthened and encouraged.

Until next time, dear friends, should you be traveling down uncertain roads, don't forget what you already know: “The same eternal Father who cared for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering, or will give you unfailing strength to bear it. So be at peace then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”





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20 comments:

  1. It's interesting how at this time in my life, with so much turmoil and uncertainty, I keep bumping into this same similar message. My daily mantra is to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart." I have copied and pasted your quote from Francis de Sales onto my desktop. Thanks for this.

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  2. What words of hope, words to stand on. Thank you.

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  3. I just sent the last 2 paragraphs to one of my sons tonight to encourage him. And I'll write the quote in my journal. Thank you so much...this was perfect timing. God bless you my friend, Diane

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  4. I'm so grateful that I was a small part of such a big miracle. It was an amazing few days together. How great is our God!

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  5. "...and in the strips of evening sun on the floor, I see sorrow’s face." Wow. beautiful. So glad you commented on my blog, and I went looking for you. You definitely have a way with words. Many Blessings!

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  6. The good Lord certainly is there for us. all we need do is ask! So happy that he heard and answered your prayers. So fun that you have a twin sister! thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

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  7. Dayle, thank you for sharing this very personal experience and testimony. I plan to print your post out and keep the section of page 137 in my Bible. I have been there, where you were on those days, and I probably will be again. Those words speak such truth.

    Blessings,
    Debby

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  8. Dayle. Thank you for sharing your heart & encouraging words to hold onto!
    God Bless You XO

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  9. Wow, this is beautiful. Not forgetting what we already know is key!

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  10. LOVE this! It is going in my journal now too! Thanks for sharing it!

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  11. Hi Dayle! This prayer from St. Francis de Sales is our family prayer. Whenever we are all together, or I am with my Dad, we say it before we eat dinner. My Mom gave all of us kids a plaque with this saying, and I have it in my living room. It was such a comfort when she died, to know she left this beautiful support for all of us. What a lovely surprise to see it this morning.
    Thank you!
    Ceil

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  12. This is a beautiful uplifting prayer. Thank you.

    FlowerLady

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  13. God knows you and His timing is perfect. To pull out a promise in a drawer, to having a book pop open to such a timely promise.
    I'm glad you could pass on this remarkable time in you life, for those of us who need these very words!
    This post is one that needs a bookmark!

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  14. Dayle, I'm following you around on link-parties! :) I just linked to Lyli's and who was the blog before me? You. I'm a good rule follower. Teachers always liked me, so I must follow Lyli's rules. That led me back to this beautiful post. I also love the photo. I grew up in Southwest OK. When I saw the picture, it reminded me of Texas. Did you take it there?

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    1. Thank you, Andy. Yes, I took this photo not far from home here in Southeast Texas. I blogged about that particular morning here, if you'd be interested.
      http://dayleallenshockley.blogspot.com/2012/10/one-morning-on-ordinary-road.html

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  15. How amazing it is that I read your post today, at this time of day. The prayer holds true even if "the way" has been made clear. Once again, I feel your post was "just for me".

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  16. Such beautiful words of encouragment. Thank you.
    Blessings,
    Beth

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  17. As always, I leave here blessed for having taken the time to stop, sit down, and visit for a few minutes. Thank you, Dayle.

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  18. I love this quote and will put it in my journal book also. I might even share it on face book as it will encourage others who might be in a process. thank you

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Dear Readers, I adore your company and your comments. If you ask questions here, I respond to them here, so please check back when you have a chance. Kind regards, Dayle