Running for a Drink of Water

What a week.  Full, overflowing.  I don’t think it could have possibly been packed any fuller than it was.  My spirit wanted to scream, “save me!” as I went through the days, one foot in front of the other.  As I sit here today, I’m grateful for a day to totally unwind.  No appointments, no obligations, just quiet here in the house.  Ahhh, wonderful.

I’ve been learning some things these days.  God is keeping me in the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19.  It is turning into a watering hole for me.  You know, one of those places in the Bible that you go back to over and over again because there, in the midst of the words, is life, refreshment, power, instruction.  I was caught unaware of my need to rest in this Scripture yet as I read these words, I keep receiving.  I love it.  As in this story where the Lord asked Elijah in chapter 19:9, ” What are you doing here, Elijah?”, I find the Lord asking me similar questions.

“What are you doing here Linda?  What is happening in this particular space, place, time in your life?  Where are you going girl?  Why are you rushing around so much?  Come and rest with me here.  Eat a little, drink a little.  Spend some time with me, won’t you?”  That’s the invitation I’m hearing from my Lord.

I’m in a transition space in my life.  There are many changes coming.  In my past, it was just these kinds of transitions that could totally undo me.  “Oh my gosh, what am I going to do now?  I can’t just sit around here and wait for things to happen, I’ve got to make something happen!”  That was my mindset.  If it’s not unfolding right before my very eyes, then by golly, I’m going to pull up my sleeves and get something going on my own.  This comes from world views like I am the master of my own destiny, nobody is looking out for me except me, and if something is going to happen, then I have to be the one to make it happen.  I would guess that God sits on His throne, shaking His head, and saying to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, “oh no, she still doesn’t understand, does she?”

I’m working really hard to try and listen for the still, small voice of God.  I hear God in other ways like pictures, through my writing, etc., but I’ve not practiced much in listening for His voice.  I’m trying to change that right now.  I want, more than anything, to hear my Master’s voice.  I’m realizing I need to bring it all before Him and actually ask for His wisdom and perhaps even His permission about many, many aspects of my life.  Why?  Because I can see the mess of my past ways in not bringing it all before Him!  I’m just beginning to understand the meaning of the word surrender in my life.  Oh yes, this is a learning time.  I think I’ll go get another cup of coffee and sit by the watering hole for awhile.  Where are your watering holes?  Run there…God is waiting for you!

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Forward ho!

I spent a week with eight others earlier this year at the conference on Biblical counseling techniques that I mentioned on my “Just Encourage” page .  The other day I was impressed to write to them all and ask how things were going in their lives.  Something thrilling happened.  I’ve heard from five of the eight (including me makes six) in the last few days.  Here’s the wonderful thing.  All six of us reported growth, action, movement in the forward motion.  I was thrilled to the point of tears.  The remarkable thing about this is that at the beginning of that week in April, none of us knew each other.  After five short days and an intense week of learning and sharing, we knew each other probably better than anyone else in our lives (other than spouses perhaps), we all committed to going home and doing something about what we learned, and those reporting back have all moved forward in their lives and their struggles.  The other two members have grown too, I have no doubt, but just haven’t gotten back to me before I started this blog.

I’m not going to mention names, initials will suffice.  Co. overcame doubt and fear to step out and begin a new business.  S. gave it all up to the Lord and ended up in Africa this summer on a mission trip that may mean continued contact and visits there.  R. has jumped into God’s river of life completely, and is on a fast track to get her licensing credentials in place and learning about herself.  Ci. has made numerous changes in her job and personal life and put it all in God’s hands.  G. completed a licensing course, joined a group with others where they are going deep with God, and she and her husband are teaching pre-marital classes in their church.  And I have done much the same as the rest, joined a group going deep, have learned more about myself in the last months than in a very long time, and am making some changes in my life that I’ll continue to share down the road.

The thing that brought me to tears about their responses is that all this change and movement has happened in just five (count ’em, 5) short months!  Now I haven’t talked intimately with very many of them about these past months, but I know what each of us went through during our week together; it was hard work and it required a willingness to be vulnerable.  As I continued to read their emails the other day, I could feel this emotion welling up inside as the Lord allowed me to get a glimpse into each of them, comparing what they were sharing with what I learned and knew about them just five months before.  I don’t have a clue whether any of them have had this same epiphany or not.  I don’t know how difficult (or easy) this five months has been for them individually.  All I know is what my own five months has looked like — hard!  I would make a guess that they have struggled no less than I have.

Here’s the wonder, joy, and miracle of this realization.  Each one of us began something last April, whether we fully gripped the reality of that decision or not.  We each went home, and had some decisions to make.  Evidently, we each decided to plunge in completely to what God had waiting for us.  It was hard work, this continuing on without the other seven who knew so intimately what each others’ struggles were about.  Five, short months later, God allowed me to see what He was seeing in our group…people who were moving forward because they understood that standing still, or worse, that going back, was unacceptable.  Each one of us took God’s hand and told Him we were ready, all in our own ways.  And we went.

April yellow team, I hope you all read this.  I love you all.  Thank you for your acceptance, encouragement, kindness, love, and commitment.  You each did what the Lord commanded, “that you love…”.  Thank you for your accountability.  We may not be communicating often, but it’s clear to me that things have been a’shakin in each of our lives.  Trust God…He has a plan and as we continue to put our hands into His, He’ll get us through.  In April, we truly learned there is healing in the Body of Christ!!

Where do you go when you don’t know where you’re going?  Forward…just go forward!

Who is running your life?

A visit from friends prompted a revelation about a period in my life that I would just as soon forget about.  We started talking about dreams, goals, things we’d like to accomplish.  It was great.  Good conversation and many morsels to think about.  I pray that our time was as encouraging for them as it was for me.

Later, after our friends had gone home and my husband and I had a chance to sit down and talk, we discussed a time many years ago when I was attempting to put a dream into action.  The outcome?  The dream is still a dream today.  What shocked me most was a new revelation the Lord gave me about that time period and its relation to right now.

This dream of mine was put into gear almost 25 years ago.  I actually did something about it by stepping out and putting some action behind my desires.  I was making progress and then no less than six major losses occurred in my life in the period of six months time.  I was devastated and I didn’t realize the impact of those losses until much later.  Five years to be exact.  By then, the damage had been done and the dream had died a quick death.

The Lord opened my eyes to see this right now.  Sad to say, He showed me that I have allowed the enemy of my soul to win in an area of my life.  “ Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”  1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV).  I was shocked to say the least.

A dream began to be realized 25 years ago.  I worked at it for over two years.  The enemy came and threw some roadblocks into my path and unfortunately, my focus turned to the roadblocks and I was toast!  I had not understood until last night the hard facts:  I took the enemy’s bait, allowed them to completely overtake my focus, got caught up in the emotions of the events, and allowed my dream to die.  As I consider the damage, I’m very sad at the outcome.  If I had been able to overcome, I might be sitting in a very different place today.  If only…

As much as I hate to admit defeat, I’m grateful that the Lord has allowed me to realize this bit of information, even these 25 years later.  It rather gets my dander up…in fact, more than my dander has been affected!  I’m finding something new rising up inside of me.  Determination.  I’ve been blinded for 25 years, but no more.  The dream is surfacing once again and time for me to take a good, hard look at it and decide whether it deserves my attention once again, or was it simply a passing desire.  Time will tell.

My prayer is that you might consider where you are in relation to your dreams.  Understand that the enemy will do anything to stop you from realizing your dreams and goals, especially if they have something to do with your God-directed paths.  The enemy doesn’t want you to make it.  Period.  Is it time to take back some territory lost?  I’m thinking so.

Listening…again

“As a loincloth clings to a man’s waist, so I created Judah and Israel to cling to me, says the LORD. They were to be my people, my pride, my glory—an honor to my name. But they would not listen to me.”  Jeremiah 13:11

I saw this in an online devotional today.  The writer, Diane Eble in her devotional, “Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-filled Devotions”, went on to comment, “This is God’s heart desire: to be in such a close relationship with his people that they cling to him.  He then pours out his blessings so that everyone can see how wonderful and good he is.  This is still his intention!  So–are you clinging to him?  Are you letting God be God in your life, such that you bring honor to him as people see clear evidence that God is active in your life?  Are you listening to God?  Not listening was his people’s downfall.  Don’t let it be yours!”

Oh my gosh, there’s this listening thing again!  It seems everywhere I turn these days, I keep running into words about listening to God.  I don’t know about you, but I’m really getting it that God wants me to LISTEN to Him!  The other day I heard some answers after asking a couple of questions of God.  I was astounded because the answers came so quickly.  Then I ended up second-guessing myself.  “Was that you God or was that me?”  I hate it when that happens.  The answers I received kind of made my heart leap, so I was really pleased with what I heard.  Can I trust it?  Can I trust God?  Well of course I can trust God, but it’s me I worry about!  Did I hear correctly or was it the pizza I had for dinner?  This listening thing isn’t as easy as one would think.

Then there was another answer I heard this past weekend to another question I asked of my Lord.  This was the same quick, softly spoken words I heard earlier however, these were words of correction in my life.  Ouch!  He told me to do something I didn’t want to do.  I had been having an attitude over an incident with my husband earlier and I very clearly heard God tell me what I needed to do about the situation.  I think I grumbled to God about it, but I relented and did what I was told.  Do you know what happened?  The next day, my husband made a comment to me that he really noticed a change of heart in me through my actions the day before!  That caught me off guard.

So, I come back to the devotional.  In listening, I heard something I liked one time, and something I didn’t like the next.  But I made up my mind to be obedient to what I heard and worked on both things.  What did I get in exchange?  A blessing.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  The last line of the devotional is still ringing in my ear…”not listening was his people’s downfall.”  I don’t want to end up there so I’m going to work on listening some more, whether I like it or not!