Mirrors I by Jeannine Fogwell

Mirrors I

Speak That Which We Know:

If You Look For Me, You Will Find Me

by Jeannine Fogwell

Mirrors have become an important part of decorating our homes in the last few years. Where once mirrors lived solely on medicine chests in the bathroom, suspended over chests in the bedroom, or hung above fireplaces, they are now showing up all over the house as decorative pieces, just as a painting or picture.   As far as I can tell, there is no place where mirrors are outlawed by the interior design authorities, although they rarely appear in garages.

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Mirrors can be of any size or any style, from tiny in a simple frame to huge and gilt-edged. Mirrors are wonderful pieces because they reflect any available light, making a room appear larger or lightening a dark corner. As I was thinking about mirrors, I realized that there is a parallel to believers in Christ.

Christians, like other humans, come in all shapes and sizes. Our physical bodies may be short or tall or anywhere in between. Our hair might be dark or light, any color at all or non-existent.   Our personalities may be gentle and quiet, or we may be incredibly animated and boisterous. We may be more comfortable wearing pastel colors, or we may choose the deep royals. We may wear only a simple necklace or solitary ring, or we may shimmer from top to bottom with jewels or metal. But we are certainly not rubber-stamped!

However we are, inside or out, we are created to bring light to a darkened world. We are made to bring to the world hints of a greater life, a deeper life, an expanded life – the kind of life Jesus displayed while here on earth.

This is why Jesus compared us to a light on a hill or one not hidden under a bushel. Candlelight and electric lights don’t have to work like mad to shine in the darkness. They just do. And when Jesus is comparing us to the light, He is also implying that we do not have to stress over shining – that we just will shine because He is in us.

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Some years ago, a video was made called “Matthew.” It was called the Visual Bible and made by Nest Family Entertainment. (It is still available at Christian Book Distributors.) It is the book of Matthew, narrated by an aged Matthew, with people speaking only the dialogue that was written in the gospel of Matthew. Bruce Marciano, a believer in Christ, was chosen to portray Jesus. His portrayal, after long months of memorizing the whole of the book of Matthew and praying for God’s guidance, is a Jesus full of energy and JOY. I think he captured the truth of Jesus’ humanity – that He was more ALIVE than any other human ever was before or will be again.

We look at Jesus in the Scriptures, and we are told that HE was the very essence of God. Hebrews 1 says He was the exact representation of God the Father.

The Bible gives us many names for God. These names help us to understand Who He is – His character. But there is one name that is extremely hard for us to believe about Him, especially when we think of Him in relation to ourselves. That word is GOOD.

In The Chronicles of Narnia, written by C. S. Lewis, four siblings are transported through a magical wardrobe into another world called Narnia. They are found by some talking beavers and are taken into the beavers’ home. Mr. And Mrs. Beaver tell the children that the very fact of the four of them appearing together in Narnia shows that the wicked queen’s rule will soon be over. Plus, they add, “There are rumors of Aslan being on the move.” Now as the beavers talk about Aslan, it becomes apparent to the children, and the reader, that Aslan is the rightful King of Narnia, and that the wicked queen has usurped His throne. The beavers obviously love and respect their King, who is a picture of Christ. However, the children are suddenly taken aback when the beavers speak more of Aslan.

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“Is-is he a man?” asked Lucy.

“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly.  “Certainly not.  I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea.  Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts?  Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man.  Is he – quite safe?  I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver, “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you?  Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.  He’s the King, I tell you.”

(from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis, 1950, HarperCollins Children’s Books, New York)

Within ourselves, we also ask of God, “Is He safe?”

Somehow, whether due to our sin nature or to wounds very early in life from all too imperfect family members, in our deepest hearts we doubt that God is good. The sneering question that Satan raised in the Garden of Eden appears to be also raised in our hearts. When Satan asked Eve, “Did God say…,” he was implying that God was not acting in the best interests of Adam and Eve. He was implying that God’s motives toward them were less than stellar. And just as Eve bit the lie as she bit the fruit, so we also receive that lie.

The older I become, the more convinced I am that the process of sanctification is not only to change us but is also to clear up the faulty views we have of God. I am not saying our theology is bad. Often, our theology is excellent. But our actions reveal what our hearts really believe.

John 3:11 states, “Truly, truly, I tell you, we speak that which we know and bear witness of that which we have seen.”

I would like to tell you some of my story.   Just as the verse from John states, I wish to bear witness to what I have seen of God. I wish to share what I now know of His goodness.

MY STORY: HIS PRESENCE
In 2002, I went to have a mammogram. After the mammogram, I returned to the dressing room area, where about eight of us women waited, still in our hospital gowns, for the radiologist to tell us that our mammograms looked good and we could get dressed to go home. As I sat waiting, I realized that I could literally feel fear in the room, although I was at peace. One woman began to gently cry. I asked if I could pray with her, and she agreed. I prayed for her and for all of us. I then was cleared to go home, so I began to change into my clothes. As I did, a thought hit me: “What if I had had cancer?” Immediately came the thought, “Then God would walk through it with me.” And I went home.

Two years passed quickly, with our two daughters’ weddings in those two years and the death of my father.   After a trip to take my mother to visit my out of state brother, I returned home in early December. Since I was now a year late for a mammogram, my doctor said I should really have a sonogram.   As the tech ran the probe over my right breast and then my left and then my right again, very slowly and carefully, I knew. Yet I felt at peace.

Fairly quickly, a biopsy and a PET scan followed, along with visits to a surgeon and an oncologist.   Otherwise, life continued normally.

When I was a young mother, and never having been a “morning person,” I often talked with the Lord while driving around running errands after dropping our daughters off at school. This “prayer time with eyes wide open” has continued since then. A few days after the biopsy, I was driving, and a phrase came to mind: “the LORD in the land of the living.”   It certainly sounded Biblical, but I couldn’t place it and forgot about it.

But the next day while driving, the phrase came again. This time I decided I had better look it up! It took awhile, but I finally found the phrase in Psalm 27. I read the first part of the Psalm but didn’t especially remember it, although I eventually found written down in another Bible that I had memorized verses 1-6 in 2003. As far as I can remember, I didn’t pay attention to the end of the Psalm when I was memorizing the first six verses. But when I read the end of the Psalm at this point in my life, I understood immediately why God had brought it to mind: He was telling me that I should rest in Him during my cancer journey and that I should look for evidences of His Presence with me. And those evidences were everywhere throughout the nine months of treatment. In giving me the certainty of His Presence, He gave me the gift of immense JOY.   Psalm 16:11 is true: In Your presence is fullness of joy.

Let’s look together at the Psalm 27.

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the defense[1][Or refuge ] of my life; Whom shall I dread?
2 When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
3 Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall[2][Lit am confident ] be confident.
4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty[3][Lit delightfulness ] of the LORD And to meditate[4][Lit inquire ] in His temple.
5 For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle[5][Or shelter ];
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.
6 And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with[6][Lit of shouts ] shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice, And be gracious to me and answer me.
8 When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”
9 Do not hide Your face from me, Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help; Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!
10 For[7][Or If my father…forsake me, Then the LORD] my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the LORD will take me up.
11 Teach me Your way, O LORD, And lead me in a level path
Because of my[8][Or those who lie in wait for me ] foes.
12 Do not deliver me over to the desire[9][Lit soul ] of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence.

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Joy and Strength

Besides God permitting me to feel His Presence so deeply, He also used other believers to encourage me on the path set before me. Many years before, I had received a small book entitled Joy and Strength. I read it casually upon receiving it, but after my cancer diagnosis, I picked it up again and read it daily. On each page is a Bible verse and a quote from a Christian of long ago. What a treasure it became to me, as I read the words of those who are now the “cloud of witnesses” mentioned in Hebrews. Two of the writers quoted in the book are Saint Bede and John McCleod Campbell.

Saint Bede was a priest and scholar (lived 673 –735AD) who wrote, “Unfurl the sails and let God steer us where He will.” What a wonderful picture of the freedom we have in Christ – to let Him carry us in His hand wherever He chooses to take us!

John McCleod Campbell, a nineteenth-century (lived 1800 – 1872) Scottish minister and theologian who is most often remembered for his thoughts on the doctrine of atonement, wrote the following: 

“All things…work together for good to them that love God. …therefore, there is a good in all things, to be extracted from each thing as it comes, by receiving it in the light of love….that love which receives God Himself as the portion of every cup….”

In his book Nevertheless , Mark Rutland shared an important scripture: 2 Tim. 1:12 – “…I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that HE is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day.”

Also meaningful for me was a book by david Jeremiah, entitled A Bend in the Road.  While discussing his won unexpected cancer, his own ‘bend in the road,” Pastor Jeremiah shared meaningful thoughts on different Psalms.

Christian music surrounded me throughout that time. I had chemo every three weeks for six months. Two of those weeks I had to remain at home because the risk of infection, from a low white cell count, was too high to be out among a lot of people. Reading and music filled me with His Word.

And finally, I had been teaching a small group the gook of Hebrews, which reminded me that Jesus is our High Priest, Who understands!

Our Scars – His Faithfulness

After chemotherapy, I needed to have a mastectomy and radiation. Both left scars.

I was getting dressed the other day, and my 6 year old grand-daughter was with me. I have been her babysitter once or twice a week since her birth. This was not the first time for her to have seen the remains of treatment. But, apparently, it was the first time for her to apprehend the meaning of the scars. She said, “Neen (my grandmother name)!!! Part of your body is gone! You have scars!”

I reminded her of my cancer, something we have spoken of off and on over the years, and then I told her that the missing piece needed to be taken off so that the sickness wouldn’t spread. The missing piece of body and the scars may look bad, but to me they are a reminder of God’s love for me. He draws close when hard things come. He gives unexpected, special gifts in the midst of suffering to those who love Him. And these gifts help others to see that God is real.

Warren Wiersbe, a former pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, wrote, “When God permits His children to go through the furnace, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. His loving heart knows how much and how long.”

The psalmist says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good!”

I have been blessed beyond measure to walk where I have walked. I KNOW at the deepest level of my heart that God is good.   A. W. Tozer wrote, “The sovereign God wants to be loved for Himself and honored for Himself, but that is only part of what He wants. The other part is that He wants us to know that when we have Him, we have all the rest.”

Having cancer was a mountain top experience for me, even with the physical hardness of chemo, surgery, and radiation. I knew from the beginning that God was calling me to REST in Him and keep Him alone as my focus.

In the 1800’s Andrew Murray wrote, “Abiding in Jesus is…an entrusting of oneself to the keeping of the Eternal Love. …And so the heart has rest and peace and joy in the consciousness of being kept when it cannot keep itself.”

Never has my heart known so well that it couldn’t keep itself!   And until the chemotherapy knocked my system silly, I did not once have trouble going to sleep or falling back asleep if I awoke in the night.

But you need to know that I do not believe that this mountain top experience could have been mine had God not worked a deep healing in my life some fifteen years before. In Lesson Two, we’ll look a little more at mirrors and what God’s Word says to us about how much He loves us. There is more to follow.

 

Study and Discussion Questions:

1.) Jeannine tells us that the Lord used Psalm 27:13-14 to personally reassure her of His goodness. What other scriptures come to your mind that remind us of His goodness?

2.) How has the Lord used illness, tragedy, disappointment or other challenges in your life?

3.) Read Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28-29. How does this passage expand your understanding of resting in the Lord?

4.) Read Philippians 4:7. Recall a time when you had peace in the midst of a trial