At times it has been difficult to wrap my brain around all that has happened in the last two years. The last 7 months especially have spiraled quickly like a storm that completely surrounded us too fast to prepare for it. In the midst of the whirlwind, I have watched my husband physically struggle day by day. It has not been easy to witness as I have known that in the natural I could not help. If those in the medical field had no answers, how could I as a wife know how to help?
What has been the lifeline in a storm that has pulled us to safety time and again? The truths found in God’s word. Our relationship with our Savior. That’s where we find the peace that guides us when the enemy attempts to create a chaos of accusations and taunts, “Where is this God you have talked about?”
As we sat with a friend last week, we were discussing prayer and our faith to trust God even during trying circumstances. While speaking about praying from the knowledge of scripture, my husband spoke these words, “The devil doesn’t listen to clichés. Just to the Word of God.”
The Word of God. Nothing can stand against that Word. In our years of pastoring, Raphael often gave the question, “Do you have a verse for that?” Anyone who knows my husband well knows two undeniable things about him – Raphael Anzivino knows scripture and can literally quote books of the Bible. Raphael is a man of prayer – one who doesn’t just throw a simple line or clichés up to the heavens hoping God will hear. He is a man who has spent literally hours at a time in prayer. During many times in prayer, he has been to the throne room of God. Like John who wrote the book of Revelation, he has been shown things by God during prayer.
Sitting and pondering his statement about clichés, my thoughts went to the reality of how often we in the body of Christ are guilty of this very thing. We know the ‘proper response’ when we hear about needs. We speak those responses without thought. Satan is not impressed with our knowledge of ‘knowing the right thing to say at the right time.’ It is only when we start fighting him with the very words of God that he starts to tremble and run!
While talking with our friend that day, we also talked of childhood memories and laughed at the stories Ralph shared of the Anzivino and Rice boys antics while growing up. Even though my mind was still focused on his statement about our words, I laughed at the stories being told. As so often happens, God chose that time to whisper a song in my spirit.
See, I was sitting there still feeling the weight of our circumstances. Raphael was still talking with our friend about the prayers of his mom and Mrs. Rice. He was still telling their stories. And even though I heard the talk and I laughed at the stories, I still found myself searching for peace in my heart. In a moment that peace came as words flowed in my spirit of the song Untitled Hymn penned by Chris Rice, one of those 6 young boys.
Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
Oh, raise your head for Love is passing by
Come to Jesus. Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live
This caregiver wife has been exhausted. She has felt weak and to top it off has been wounded by people and circumstances within the years of ministry. Like blind Bartimaeus, I needed only to acknowledge that He was there.
Now your burden’s lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain.
So, sing to Jesus. Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live
As I sat there allowing my spirit to be comforted by Jesus, the burden started getting lighter. I closed my eyes and felt the song washing over me.
And like a newborn baby
Don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk sometimes we fall
So, fall on Jesus. Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live
Jesus. He loves me so much! I have had moments of doubt and fear. I have struggled at times to hear His voice. I have let Him down and I have made Him proud. Yet each time in my hurt I finally allowed myself to fall into His waiting arms, I felt strengthened by His love for life’s trials.
Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain
So, cry to Jesus. Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live
Loneliness is often a constant companion these days for a caregiver’s work is never done. At times I have sat and just cried for something as simple as a hug. Or went to bed in tears from being totally exhausted and feeling inadequate for the task given me. Although it is appreciated that people try not to just stop by in case my husband is having a rough day, that thoughtfulness also creates more of isolation for myself. Those are the times I must turn away from thinking of my own feelings and think of how much more of those very feelings Ralph must be experiencing lying in bed hour after hour. As I change my focus, I am able to stop the self-pity and cry to Jesus who brings life back into my being.
Oh and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can’t contain your joy inside.
Then dance for Jesus. Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live
With your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side.
And fly to Jesus. Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live
Fly to Jesus. Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live
After going to Jesus, falling in His arms and having a good long cry, His love always spills over and fills my heart with joy. It’s a love relationship like no other. One day I will kiss this world goodbye and will fly to live with Him for all of eternity. Yet for now, it’s still time to walk this life leaning on His arms and on the promises He has given to us in His word.
When my mind and spirit get back into focus on my Savior, I am once again ready to arm myself with His word to quieten those loud taunts from the enemy. One of my favorite verses comes to my mind as I am typing this.
“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24
During this journey, I can honestly say I am walking in the truth of this verse. Daily I watch Him surprise us with an unspoken prayer already answered. And each time I “come to Jesus” through His word and prayer, I receive His provision of life.
Full disclosure – I have the song on repeat and tears are streaming as I type because I feel His presence and love in a tangible way wrapping around me.
Wherever you are today, go to Jesus. Let Him comfort and encourage you. Then open His word and let Him give you the battle plan to set the enemy on the run.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28