Saturday, September 15, 2012

He Who Is in Me Is Greater

Photo credit: Benutzer Darkone Nov. 2004


I have never experienced Satan fighting as hard to keep my husband Richard and me from sharing our dance ministry as he did at our most recent competition. A warning that Satan would vehemently oppose this venture came long ago. As we began choreographing our new dance, I opened a sealed bottle of water, only to find a dead fly floating on top!  But Praise God that He overcame all of the devil’s obstacles and worked all things together for good! (Romans 8:28)

We are old enough to be parents or even grandparents of most of our fellow competitors, and our favorite style of dance is extremely demanding physically because it involves overhead lifts and other feats of strength and stamina packed into a four-minute dance. The average life span of a male competitor in this division is about two to four years, and many have had to retire had because of shoulder, back, or other injuries. So we know that each day we can continue in our dance ministry is a gift from God (James 4:14), and He has blessed us to be able to perform and compete for more than 23 years!

After we were saved and began using our dancing as a way to bring Gospel music and Christian themes to largely secular audiences, we met with opposition from judges and even well-meaning coaches who told us that our placements would suffer as a result. We have also experienced physical setbacks (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), problems creating distractions, and spiritual oppression (2 Corinthians 10:3-4; Ephesians 6:11-18). Yet over and over God has proven to be faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9; Deuteronomy 7:9) in allowing us to overcome these challenges and continue to spread His Word to this unique mission field.

Our most recent competition, a highly prestigious and well-attended event, started off with opposition to whether or not we were eligible to compete, even though we had done so each year for the past five years! Help came from surprising sources (but clearly pre-planned by God!), and we were ultimately allowed to dance. However, this was not resolved until several days before the event, adding to the usual pre-competition stress.

Several weeks before, Richard had injured his thumb, not from overhead lifting but from leaning on his thigh as he rose from a kneeling position. Often injuries happen in the least expected, even routine movements simply because the dancer lets his guard down. He continued to have sudden shooting pains, although he was able to get through rehearsals reasonably well.

Also several weeks before, I began having increasing pain in my left shoulder, most likely overuse from supporting my weight on my outstretched left arm in an overhead lift where my left hand is placed on Richard’s shoulder, and other lifts involving twisting, turning, and hyperextending the shoulder. But God used this injury to encourage me to start a new exercise program to stretch and strengthen the shoulders, with good results as the competition drew nearer.

One of the interventions to improve my shoulder was to change office chairs, as my day job (and blogging!) requires much time at the computer. But Satan was on the attack again – the base on the chair turned out to be too small. As one of the wheels caught the edge of the carpet protector, the chair tipped over – with me in it – hurling me onto the floor with the chair on top of me, re-injuring my left shoulder, as well as scraping and bruising my hip!

God used that to show me that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Even when we are at less than our best, He is more than able to see us through it, if He has called us to it! (2 Corinthians 9:8)

A few days later, I was enjoying my usual daily handful of “medicinal dark chocolate” morsels, as I like to call it because of all the health benefits of the polyphenols and other healing nutrients in dark chocolate. I would have swallowed what I was chewing had I not felt a sudden warning to examine what was in my mouth. To my shock I found a metal pin, about 1 inch long with two sharp ends, wrapped in a sharp metal wire! Had I continued chewing, this would at best have pierced my tongue or mouth, and at worst, I could have swallowed it, causing a fatal esophageal tear.  More praise to God for His protection from seen and unseen threats!

We were competing in two events at this competition, three nights apart, and just as we left the floor after competing the first night, around midnight, Richard’s phone rang. His mother, who is 89 years old and living in an assisted living facility, had been vomiting and felt weak and light headed for several hours, but refused to go to the hospital. We spent much of the long ride home and sleepless night in prayer. Just as we had finally drifted into sleep, the phone rang at 6AM to let us know that an ambulance was now taking her to the hospital.

Although she was coherent and had no pain, her heart rate was around 20, which is incompatible with life! They rushed her to the cath lab for an emergency pacemaker insertion. Also in the waiting room at the cath lab was a young woman whose 59 year-old mother was having a procedure. An ominous announcement came over the loudspeaker: “Code Blue to the Cath Lab.”

Two lives hung in the balance, and it was one of those situations where only the Holy Spirit can intercede for us, as we don’t know how to pray (Romans 8:26). Richard’s mother is 89 and has lived a full life, recently professing Christ as her Saviour. The other woman was only 59 and her salvation status was unknown. “It’s in God’s hands – He’s in control,” Richard said to the woman’s daughter.

After 15 minutes that seemed like an eternity, the cardiologist came in and escorted the woman’s daughter to another room, to deliver what clearly was not good news. We don’t know the particulars, but we pray and trust that God is working even in this situation to bring others closer to Him (Romans 5:3-5).

Meanwhile, Richard’s mom did fine with the temporary and then a permanent pacemaker, and returned to her usual state of health with strengthened faith. All three of us had reason to be thankful for His healing mercies! And for His perfect timing – had she not fallen ill, her fatally low heart rate might have gone unnoticed!

Finally it was the night before the big event. We went to bed early, hoping to get a good night’s rest to make up for all the lost sleep and crises of the preceding days. But just as Richard reached over to shut off the light, he spotted a huge spider on the bedroom wall adjoining the cathedral ceiling, high up and maddeningly beyond reach. He got a long broom and attacked it, but it fell out of sight where we couldn’t see if it were dead. I was sure it was waiting under the bed to pounce on us in the middle of the night. No restful sleep in store tonight!

Richard put the broom away in the garage and came back rubbing his thumb, which he had reinjured just by positioning the broom against the garage wall! The next morning, it was no better. I suggested he take an anti-inflammatory.

“I can’t,” he replied sadly. “I just threw up.”

So here we were on the day of the competition, each fighting an injury, Richard struggling with a stomach virus and unable to keep food down, and both of us still reeling from emotional turmoil and lack of rest. I began to feel ill myself, drained of all energy, faint, and light-headed. No matter – His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9); I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13); and with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

“Do you think God is trying to tell us not to do this?” Richard asked.

“No, Satan doesn’t want us to do this, but He Who is in me is greater than he who is in the world,” I answered (1 John 4:4). “Just get in the car, please.”

That night, as we began to dance to the packed house and remote audience viewing by live streaming, I thanked God for using us to spread His Word in this unique way. Loudly, boldly, the narrative at the beginning of our dance proclaimed over the speakers:

Transformed – darkness to light; earth to Heaven; death to everlasting life.”

We danced well, to His glory, and the audience response was very positive, praise God! A man who passed me in the hall afterwards said “You are blessed and highly favored.”

A woman highly positioned in the dance community said, “I’m a Christian and I appreciate your message. You just keep doing what you’re doing, because this crowd really needs it. So many of them have hearts of stone, but I look at their faces when you’re dancing and I can see their hearts softening a little.”

We won’t know until we reach Glory what impact our ministry may have, but we thank God for appointing us as His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and for His faithfulness in opening doors (1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3) and leading us through them, holding us in the palm of His right hand! 

So we’ll just keep doing what we feel He has led us to do, Lord willing, until He comes again!

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 


© 2012 Laurie Collett






51 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment, Inspired by you! From your blog, I know you have shown great perseverance in the face of trials. May God continue to bless you!
      Laurie

      Delete
  2. what a unique ministry, Laurie...how encouraging that you and your husband continue as God leads :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Dolly! I appreciate your encouragement.
      God bless,
      Laurie

      Delete
  3. Wow! This is a great story of Satan's opposition against you and your husband's ministry and how God helps to overcome. You were surely put to the test in this recent competition. God bless you for your faithfulness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Joyful, for your kind words! Praise God that the battle is His, and the victory is already won! God bless you too!
      Laurie

      Delete
  4. Oh this is such an amazing testimony of God's grace and how our enemy would love to sabotage us. I am so happy that you were able to perform and that you were received well. The personal remarks you received from the on lookers was encourging also.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Hazel, for your encouraging comment. God's grace is amazing indeed!
      Blessings,
      Laurie

      Delete
  5. Something very similar I experienced im ny group of poets. When I started to write poems about God's glory, godly reflections and even protestants celebrations - nobody understood me and most people told, that these poems were bad. Now I create the cycle of 12 sonets about the eastern part of my city on the surface, but deeper they are reflections about time, people and God. In my country circa 90% of people claim, that they are Christians, but most of them are nominal Christians. Greetings and blessings for You, Laurie! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Zim, Yes, Jesus spoke in parables to deliver the truth in ways that would not meet with as much resistance and opposition. May God bless you and your ministry.
      Laurie

      Delete
  6. It's wonderful when HE protects, encourages, responds to needs, breaks through fear and frustration... only HE can do it.

    [I wouldn't have slept knowing a spider of any size was wandering nearby, maybe dropping into bed... this summer I ended up with a pile of bites on my stomach from some very small ones in our area mostly connected to the drought season that hit our bed. On Guard!!!]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen, caryjo! Only He is our rock, fortress, & shelter from the storm!

      Do be careful -- spider bites can be very dangerous, especially those of the brown recluse!

      Love in Him,
      Laurie

      Delete
    2. So far I'm OK. These aren't the dangerous kind. Just annoying.

      Delete
    3. Glad to hear it! God bless!
      Laurie

      Delete
  7. It's good to recognize and acknowledge the signs when He delivers them. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen, Jessica! He speaks to us in so many ways -- especially through His Word. May we always hear Him!
      Blessings to you,
      Laurie

      Delete
  8. Fortunately, because of our lousy climate, we don't have dangerous spiders here in the UK, nor for that matter, rattlesnakes or anacondas!
    I admire your perseverence in your faith despite the misfortunes you had to endure. The metal shard in the chocolate, for example, would have been very dangerous if swallowed, especially by a child, and the makers ought to have been prosecuted. Aslo fortunately, animals found in food, whether dead or alive, is extremily rare over here as well. But a few years ago someone bought a glass bottle of milk, only to discover that it contained the body of a dead mouse. It made national news, both on TV and all the newspapers.
    But thanks be to the Lord Jesus, who gives us the ability to persevere as part of his salvation package.
    Having posted this, tomorrow morning, while making breakfast for my wife and myself, I ought to look carefully at all food items to make sure it's fit to eat. You never know...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment, Frank! Praise God for His indwelling Holy Spirit giving us strength in trials. Glad you don't have to deal with dangerous spiders & snakes in the UK, and have safe food for the most part. But it's always wise to be careful.
      God bless,
      Laurie

      Delete
  9. You do have to know the difference between God's voice and the devil's. Great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, bettyl! Praise God that His sheep know His voice and follow Him!
      God bless,
      Laurie

      Delete
  10. Great post! Thanks for sharing. It's so true how much resistance we can get when we try to do something good. When crazy things start hapenning it could be that a certain someone is trying to thwart our efforts and discourage us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Nicole, for your visit & comment! I've often heard it said that when a Christian starts to become productive for God, Satan paints a big target on his back. Praise God for equipping us with His armor.
      God bless,
      Laurie

      Delete
  11. One of the greatest statements of faith ever is Daniel 3:17-18. "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." Daniel's three friends knew God could save them if he chose, but they were going to obey him whether he did or not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen, dfish! God is infinitely good and infinitely powerful, so we have reason to trust that whatever happens, He will use it for our good and His glory.
      Blessings to you,
      Laurie

      Delete
  12. Wow, that is a great story of Satan's opposition and I love the end where you two still came out in all God's glory. God is good! Where's the spider? Did you find it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Crystal! God is good all the time! Never did find that critter, though!
      God bless,
      Laurie

      Delete
  13. Satan will try all sorts of tricks to stop us as we seek to serve the Lord! But praise God for your perseverance!! You know, your dance ministry made me think of a dance couple who comes by my mom's place. (She lives in a retirement apartment...and my dad, as you may remember, died 2 months ago). Anyway, there is a wonderful couple who come in once a month and dance for the group during dinner...then, they come out into the crowd and ask people to dance. Some say no, but others jump at the chance. My mom and dad were dancers ever since they met (my mom was my dad's dance teacher at Arthur Murray's back in 1946). So, I know she misses dancing now...Well, what a blessing it was (and is) for my mom to have this couple come by. Both of them asked mom to dance during the evening and she had a great time. At one point, when the woman was dancing with my mom, she "let" mom lead, as she know mom used to be a dance teacher! What a joy for her! I don't know if this couple is Christian, but they sure seem to be as they certainly are doing his work! Blessings to you and your husband as you minister in this way as well!

    In Him, JOan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Joan! Wow, I'm so glad your mom was blessed by this couple's dance ministry! There is an amateur association that meets at our ballroom monthly, and they also have an outreach program that goes out to entertain residents at local nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It is a blessing not only to the audience but to the performers also! Small world -- my dad was an Arthur Murray's instructor for a brief period between jobs -- sometime around 1946!

      Delete
  14. Thank you for your comments that I must take care of myself as I grow older (mush older). We do need to heed the signs that our bodies give us to change things and patterns in our lives. I am happy that you were able to perform and show forth the love of Jesus in your dance. May God continue to heal the thumbs, shoulders and NO MORE spiders please. Thank you for sharing at "Tell Me a Story."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen, Hazel -- none of us are getting younger, but we're all babies in eternity-years! Thank you for your kind words and good wishes and for hosting Tell Me A Story.. May we be in His perfect will until He comes again!

      Delete
  15. Wow! What challenges you all have faced. I could tell as I read this how passionate you both are about dancing. How beautiful that you are using this for His glory!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Eileen, for your visit & kind comment! May God bless you in all you do.
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

      Delete
  16. So glad you can see God's hand in your life! I was kinda hoping for a YouTube video of your dance:) Thank you for sharing and linking up with Simply Better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Leslie,
      Thanks for your comment & for hosting Simply Better! We don't have a YouTube posting yet for this dance, but here is the link to the dance we performed & competed with last year:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0zDf86eaIU
      God bless,
      Laurie

      Delete
  17. Thank you for your heart for the Lord and your desire to do His will in all things. Your story inspires me to keep my eyes on Jesus. Thank you for linking up with NOBH! Smiles!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Amy, for your kind words! May we continue to keep our eyes on Him. Thanks so much for hosting NOBH, & God bless!
      Laurie

      Delete
  18. I so agree with what you said, "So we’ll just keep doing what we feel He has led us to do, Lord willing, until He comes again!" That's all He asks any of us to do - do the thing He has led you to do - and don't give up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement, Jerralea! Amen to not giving up on whatever path He leads us!
      Blessings to you,
      Laurie

      Delete
  19. i appreciate the way you fight, laurie. bless you. e.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Emily, for the support! Praise God that He has already won the victory; we just have to put on His armor!
      God bless,
      Laurie

      Delete
  20. Just like Richard asking, "do you think God doesn't want us to do this?" and you saying that no Satan didn't want you to... it's so hard to tell sometimes!!

    Kudos for persevering.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, mail4rosey! May we always be led by the Holy Spirit and follow His voice!
      Blessings to you,
      Laurie

      Delete
  21. wow, praise God you fought through and came out victorious. You overcame so much and what strong faith you have to have kept going. What a blessing you are!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Alecia, for your kind words & encouragement! You and your writing are a great blessing to me!
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

      Delete
  22. This was a long post but I was totally taken up with it. Glad your husband's mother is okay. I once read a blog where the girl described herself as an "extreme lover of Jesus" and I thought, 'that's me!'... blessings to you. Best wishes, Linda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Linda, for the kind words! From one "extreme lover of Jesus" to another! God bless,
      Laurie

      Delete
  23. Praise the Lord! Your story gave me goosebumps! Keep writing and keep dancing for the Lord. Thanks for linking up at www.moretobe.com, too!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thanks, Lisa, for your sweet comment! I appreciate your encouragement. Thanks for hosting, & may you have a blessed week in Him!
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  25. I featured you today! I have a featured button if you'd like!
    http://passionateandcreativehomemaking.blogspot.com/2012/10/beautiful-thursdays-link-up.html

    ReplyDelete