God in the Storm

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“May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the Holy Spirit Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality.” Ephesians 3:16 AMPC

This is what Holy Spirit did on Monday, 4/17/17. As I heard the suggestion to perhaps fast and pray, my coming into agreement with the Spirit launched a fresh in-filling, a re-aligning if you will, of the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now hear me. Fasting and I don’t necessarily play well together! At the mere mention of the word “fast” I become ravenously hungry. But that day was different. Driven by tumultuous tumbling in the huge waves of stormy seas, I was desperately grasping for anything to anchor me, to help me get my feet back under me and set upon solid ground. I had been being rolled in the stormy seas for a few weeks and I knew somehow that if I didn’t find my way soon, I might perish in the hurricane.

So, the thought of “fast and pray” came in. Coincidence? I don’t believe in such things any longer. No, I believe the Holy Spirit was attempting to give me direction. After all, I had been crying out in my pain and fear for over three weeks now, “oh God, show me the way through this mess!” The anguish I was feeling had resulted in an emotional breakdown of sorts on Tuesday, 4/11/17. I knew I was out of order, falling victim to fear yet, just as being tossed around after a huge wave catches you unawares at the beach, I was flailing with my emotions. I knew I was allowing the enemy to tumble me like rock in a broiling, violent storm of circumstance, I just couldn’t figure out how to turn the tides on the barrage of flaming arrows being sent my way. I was being attacked and the enemy was winning. I was drowning…

I was desperate that Monday morning, crying out once again for the Lord to show me the way through. “How can I get my feet back under me Lord? Do you not hear me?” I cried. My husband was gone, doing several errands and the house was still. I sat on the couch, a position I’d found myself in quite often over the course of the past eight weeks or so as I was aware that depression was once again knocking at my door. “But you delivered and healed me Lord of depression many years ago. How can this be happening?” My despondency was pitiful, yet here I sat, not knowing what to do next.

And then there was that thought again. Fast and pray. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I decided then and there to fast. Now what? I think back on this and almost want to break out into hysterical laughter for the insanity of the whole thing. I was like a stubborn child; “ok then God, if you want me to fast, I will! Are you happy now?” I demanded. And then, very quietly, I knew I needed to pray. I needed to thrust my entire self into this decision I’d just made.

Honestly, I don’t know how long I sat there on that couch, looking out on the clouds and the sky, fervently putting everything I had into praying in my spirit language. It started out flat, a recital of sorts, of words in tongues that really meant nothing to me because I do not know what I uttered. I just kept going. I didn’t know what else to do, so I continued. In the past, when I’ve been incensed by something, my words in my prayer language have become rapid, full of the intonations of rage that I was feeling. Not this time. I was spent, dull, rote. The words came out, one after another, for an hour or two or three, I honestly don’t know how long. One by one the words flowed, until the unfamiliar contortions my mouth must go through in order to speak out loud in my prayer language made my mouth sore. I had to stop. And now I just sat there.

At what point do I feel the Holy Spirit made His entrance? I’m not sure but it took awhile. All too subtly I sensed something. I didn’t hear His voice audibly. No, it was simply an impression. A question. But with the question came familiarity. It was my dear, Holy Spirit once again.

“How did you survive cancer?” He asked. That was it. Five words. They were all that were needed.

Ten years ago I found myself in another battle of my life, this one literally a potential life ender. It was the one word I feared ever hearing and yet there it was. Kidney cancer! Oh noooo!

The way through came in a book given to me by a friend, perhaps two or three weeks before I was diagnosed. A book by a 1970’s evangelist, T.L. Osborne, called, “The Good Life.” A book filled with scripture yet ordered in such a way that you can find your need and the promises of God flow. Right there. Meeting you. In the middle of the storm.

The way through didn’t turn out how I imagined it would. But it was the way through and I am a cancer survivor of ten years! And once again, I was at the crossroad of terror, this one concerning finances and someone attempting to steal from my inheritance, for me, my son, and our grandchildren. It was no less intense, no less tumultuous.

I almost laugh again here. I realized this on Monday, that I was to get the book out and declare it’s truths, the actual Word of God, over the situation I found myself in. Tossing, tumbling in the waves of fear, doubt and rage, the book represented solid ground. Holy Spirit tossed me a life preserver this day…but it took me another four days to dig the book out and read it! Oh the insanity of man, or woman, as was the case.

I dug the book out on Thursday as a dear friend came for a visit and we were going to pray for each other; we were each going through difficult times. So there, in my living room, I read excerpts from the book that had once saved my life and witnessed it do its powerful turning of circumstances as we were both ministered to.

It was as if the life preserver found its mark in us both and we grabbed wildly for its life saving powers. Hanging on dearly, still bobbing precariously in the waves of a tossing sea of circumstance, we felt the saving grace of a God coming toward us, walking calmly on the waters. Oh, the wonder of realizing He was there!

“May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the Holy Spirit Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality.”

I’ve been camping once again in the pages of this book. Some would wag their finger and say, “oh no, you need to be in the Book, the Bible!” The Good Life contains page after page of Scripture, lumped together as the promises of a God that loves us so much. It is here, side-by-side with the Word of God, the Bible, that I find myself daily. Read a promise, or ten, and then go to the Word and read them in the context they were written. Is it a dilution? No. It is simply the loving words of a God who loves and cares for us so much that He still uses mere men to help us better understand the depths, width, and heights of His love for us.

Has God been in this battle, did He by chance allow me to be sifted as He did Job? I can’t answer that for sure, but I know there have been many lessons learned already in this battle over finances and it isn’t even over! One of the greatest lessons? That the man responsible for my angst, the man who is stealing from my inheritance, is a child of God too! God loves him just as much as he loves me. God showed me he is a prodigal son! The only difference is that I am saved; this man evidently isn’t…yet. God impressed me with this truth so much so that my husband and I are praying for this man’s salvation, for an encounter with the Living God we know and love. Three months ago, I was not capable of such a thought. But it has been in the furnace of testing, the fire that burns off the dross, that I’ve come to this understanding. My God requires me to pray for his soul now, and so I do.

What of the inheritance? That too has been laid of the foot of the throne. I was surviving before I received it, I will survive if it is taken away. Justice? While I grappled with that question in the early tumbling, I find I am oddly calm. Justice is something God will take care of. Now. Later. But I will not benefit from clinging to it. He will take care of it. And in that, I will benefit.

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And suddenly I find myself firmly on the beach again. The near-death encounter and wild tossing of my emotions and spirit are over. Seas are once again calm. Indeed, this statement makes for great drama here but I must be truthful; it felt for awhile that I was dying!  My Savior walked across the waters of my storm, grabbed me by the hand, and brought me safely to shore. The only difference is, I’m not standing in sand anymore. No, I’m standing on the Rock of my salvation, Jesus Christ!

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My Manifesto

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Writing has been a love of mine since I was a little girl. My first attempt at writing was a version of a mystery I’d read and loved. Shortly thereafter I learned what the word  plagiarism meant. So much for that story.

I wrote often growing up, mostly about what was bothering me on any given day. Those words are long gone, something I’ve regretted. I didn’t learn about proper journaling for many years and I must admit, I’m not very good at journaling every day.

I was brought up in a home where God was talked about. I didn’t much question my belief in there being a God, I just believed. Until late in my twenties. Then I questioned Him a lot.

Coincidentally, at the same time, I realized a few things about myself:

  1. All the decisions I’d made about my life once I left home ended poorly.  I was not the independent soul I longed to be,
  2. I needed help,
  3. I didn’t know where to go for that help,
  4. So I went looking for a church to find answers.

It took a little bit of doing but I eventually found a church I felt I belonged in. Different from the one I grew up in, this church began filling a hole I hadn’t realized was there. Over the course of a few years I realized I was loved and I had purpose. God loves me and He gave me a purpose. Whew! That took a lot to get out on paper!

Purpose in God needs tending because truth takes time. In some instances (ah-hem! Did I say that?) truth can take a very long time to sink in. But, loving Jesus Christ taught me that He’s not impatient and He’s quite willing to hang around with me, waiting for me to understand His love, purpose, and sheer determination to help me get it. Yep, it took time, but I finally got it.

Writing, and a few other creative inclinations I love, was a part of me because that is the way He created me to be. Listening happens to fall into that list of things I do well. Having empathy for hurting people was yet another quality I was given. Finally, after listening to others most of my adult life, as they poured out frustrations, hurts, pains and dilemmas, I began playing with the idea that I had also been given the creative ability to make sense out of people’s lives. Did I believe that right off?  No. Not so easy to think you may have been given a talent to put others at ease even when you’re having trouble doing that for yourself.

I’ve heard the saying that God doesn’t make junk. It was easy to discount for a long time. But when you love to write, you love to listen and help problem-solve, and especially when others tell you they feel better having spent time with you, I ever-so-slowly began to wonder if it could be true.

It has only taken approximately forty years to begin to trust in all this. God has honored my attempts to keep learning about Him and how not to lean on my own understanding. I think I’m making headway and this is what I’ve learned:

  1. I am a writer,
  2. I am a listener and a problem-solver,
  3. I am creative,
  4. And I love to encourage others.

Therefore, this blog is to Just Encourage!

Who ARE you listening to?

girl-140571_1280I decided to go with this thought again because I think there is so much we need to consider about this subject.  In a recent conversation with a friend, I realized that our internal self-talk can be so detrimental, and perhaps even downright dangerous, to our growth in Christ.

Many years ago I came across a book by Shad Helmstetter called, “What to say when you talk to yourself.”  It was a very thought-provoking book and it helped me realize for the first time that the chatter going on in my head was having a profound effect on my life.

Currently I’m reading a book by Steve Backlund called, “You’re crazy if you DON’T talk to yourself!”  This too is a great book, not so much about defining the chatter going on in your head, but to make you think about what exactly you’re allowing that chatter to say to you.  Backlund reminds us, “that Jesus didn’t think His way out of the wilderness…  He spoke truth to invisible beings and to the mind-sets that sought to restrict and defeat Him.”

We really owe it to ourselves to get savvy to this concept.  One of the voices in our head is not  a friendly voice; it belongs to the enemy of our soul and he just loves to twist, contort, and otherwise lie to us about the condition of our lives and our relationships.  Backlund contends that we are indeed supposed to talk to ourselves and also to talk to the things in our lives, allowing our relationship with Jesus Christ to blossom and thrive as we proclaim Biblical words and truths into and over our daily circumstances.

Let me give you an example.  I used to have a big problem with speaking negatively.  It wasn’t that I saw myself as a negative person, because I didn’t.  But someone close to me bluntly stated one day, “you are one of the most negative people I’ve ever come across!”  At first I was offended and angry.  But once alone, I started praying about this and asked the Lord to show me what exactly they were referring to.  Over time, I realized they were right.  I totally had a negative viewpoint about life.  I had a hard time trusting others because I feared their motives.  I was suspicious of people instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt.  I found I actually expected negative things to happen to me.  And do you know what?  Negative did follow me and my cozy little life around!  Shocking truth!

I’ve worked at attempting to have more positive expectations about life.  I can still get caught up in the negative (oh, so sad a fact that once caught in this lifestyle, it’s difficult to change that skew), but I try hard to allow for more positive things to happen in my life and, in my head!

One thing I know.  The Word gives us instruction about such things, most of them related to what we say with our mouths.  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21.  “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19.

I invite you to take a listen to the voices in your head.  Are they life-filled?  Or are they full of negative thoughts?  Very often what is happening inside our head matches up with the words that come out of our mouths; our words have tainted our thinking so much so that our minds have now embraced what the enemy wants us to — that life is hard, and there’s not much hope.

You see, your ears hear what your mouth proclaims.  This is hard to come to grips with in the beginning.  Negative talk equates to negative thoughts and the enemy loves to chime in with his two cents, in total agreement to your conclusions.  And to make matters worse, he then adds his own commentary to the mix.  And the more you agree with those thoughts, the more they rage, the more they come out of your own mouth, no matter your intentions.  Sadly, this is the exact point at which we begin to speak things out loud we truly didn’t mean to.  And therein lies the truth of “death and life are in the power of the tongue!”

But when I practice speaking good things, I’ve noticed there’s a correlation then to what thoughts are running in my head; my thoughts begin to fall in line with what I’m speaking.  I love that the more I speak about good things, the more I come to expect those good things in my life.  And if you’re tracking with me here, you begin to see that your words become contagious to your thinking.

Paul says it best:  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  Philippians 4:8 (NLT).  Paul was such a loving teacher and his words still ring true today.

Fix your thoughts.  Webster’s defines the word fix as:  to make (something) whole or able to work properly again : to repair (something); to deal with or correct (a problem).  That’s a definition worthy of repeating.  Fix your thoughts, make them whole, able to work properly again.

Do you have issues with negative thoughts in your life?  Do you seem to attract the negative?  Do you struggle with an automatic response of negative?  You’re not alone.  No, far from it.  I’d love to hear your thoughts about this and invite you to leave a comment on what you’d like to change in that area of your life or, how you have conquered this problem.

Let’s all adjust whose voice we’re listening to, shall we?  And let’s start proclaiming the Light and Truth of the Word and allow it to do it’s transforming power in and through us.

God, Where Did You Go?

binoculars-358032_1280I’m alone…with no thoughts, no inspirations, no sense that God is here.  Can you relate?  It causes me to look off into the distance, wondering if I’ve missed a turn somewhere.  Did the Lord go right while I definitely took that left turn?  How could I end up here, feeling like a door has closed on my relationship with Him?  Why is it that some days feel like this?

There are issues looming ahead of me.  My elderly parents and some health issues, the ministry focus of my life right now that needs attention, taxes need to be done, the dog needs to get some shots updated, renter issues that need attention, family members making questionable decisions that I don’t agree with (do you hear the edge of judgment there?  Oh, I must beware of that one!), friends leaving shortly for a mission trip to Africa whom I need to be lifting up in prayer.  Then there’s a topic I want to study up on and prepare a talk around, a schedule that seems to have little room for any of this, and oh my gosh, the dog just threw up and I have to figure out what that’s all about!  It just seems to go on and on, and I can’t see God in any of it at this moment.

At these times, I just want to crawl up into a corner with a good book and let the world go by.  It all feels so, so like life just picked up a shotgun, loaded a shell full of peppercorns, and let it blast at me.  I’m being peppered to death it seems.  So many things to think about.  So many people with needs.  So much in the world that I cannot affect.

These are days that I must call upon something else in my spirit, these days when I can’t seem to get my feet flat on terra firma and I’m being tossed to and fro.  I always think of the verse in James 1 that says being tossed to and fro is the worst place to be as someone who believes in Jesus Christ.  That particular verse doesn’t much help me feel a lot of confidence in myself on days like today!

Has God left me?  No, I don’t think so.  Is He punishing me for some unknown sin?  Nope that’s not it either.  Is He torturing me by just being silent at this time?  Absolutely not, for that is not in God’s nature.  So if this isn’t some plan of God’s to make me see something in particular, what exactly is this all about?

I need the confidence of the Lord for times like these. Where do I get it?  These are the days when I have to pull deep to my past circumstances to find what I’m looking for.  This is one of those days that I have to go to what I like to call is my “knower”.  I know that God is madly in love with me not because of anything I’ve done or because I’m such a wonderful woman of God.  No, He just loves me because I’m one of His kids.  I know God is for me.  I know God will take any adverse circumstance of my life that I might be going through at this moment and He will use it to help me grow stronger.  I know God will never, ever leave me nor forsake me.  I just know all these things at this point in my life.

This, I believe, is the point of such times.  God uses silent times to help us so we might come to a place in our ever-changing lives to realize that just because He is silent, He is no less close to me.  “Oh but God, it’s so much better for me when I sense your presence, when I absolutely see you in the midst of my day,” I might cry.  Yes, I love being on the mountaintop with God.  Those are sweet, sweet times of refreshing, full of joy and wonder at His known presence.  But just like a small child learning to be weaned from the comfort of her blankie, I must come to a place in my walk that I can comfort myself in knowing that while I might not sense Him, He is always near.  This particular lesson took far too many years for me to figure out, but I think I’m there.

This day, in my distress over the unknowns and all the uncertainties of my life, I am able to find comfort in the sheer knowledge that I know my Savior is here.  He’s quiet, but He’s here.  And, praise God, I’m good with that.  Tomorrow is another day!

Searching Out a Matter

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Hard things keep occurring all around us. This is a difficult time in our world and yet, the Lord has placed you here, in this particular time period because He willed it so. He knew what you would face, the hardships you would encounter along the way, the victories you would experience. Yes, He placed you here and now, because He needs you here and now.

It seems a world gone mad some days. We each have our ways of coping with that which is going on around us; some deal with it well, others not so much. Is any of it a surprise to God? No, I don’t think so because the Word tells us He knows the end from the beginning.

A new situation has risen in my life. I’m not looking forward to this. But as the news of this came to me today, I realize that my reaction is purely and simply up to me. My Lord isn’t surprised by this, He knew it was coming for a very long time. He’s been attempting to prepare me for this. I must turn my eyes heavenward in order to understand, or attempt to understand, His heart in this matter.

I love the verse in Proverbs 25:2:

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (NKJV).

As I search out the root meanings of this verse, my interpretation says, “it is the honor of God (our heavenly God) to hide a matter, but the honor of kings (royal) is to examine intimately a matter. What does that mean? Well, I take it to mean a number of things.

First of all, God is the God of the universe. Can we possibly understand and define a God who can call nothing into something? I don’t know about you, but I struggle with that. Where would I begin? How do I take nothing and create something out of it? It’s the most baffling thing, far greater than the very best magician who seemingly brings something into our sight when moments before there was nothing, without us even realizing the slight of hand. No there is no understanding or defining the things of God.

So it is that He decided to conceal matters from us. Why? To torture us? To show us whose boss? I don’t think so. His desires always line up with the fact that He is for us, He loves us, He never leaves us nor will He ever forsake (abandon or ditch) us. His word says so and to do otherwise would make Him out to be a liar.

No, God is God and He’s decided that He will conceal some things from us. I think it is so we might search His meanings out, look for the deeper things in our relationship with Him, try to determine if we can find out what His heart is in a matter. It is not done out of any other reasoning except that He wants us with Him, always. And as I search His heart out, I often find new understandings and meanings in situations I thought I understood in the past and suddenly, He brings new light onto the subject.

While this verse addresses kings, I believe it is aimed at us today. The root word of kings is melek and it means king, royal. What does the word say about us? We are royalty, adopted into God’s family by our relationship with Jesus Christ. While I feel anything but royal, it’s not about my feelings about this matter. The fact of the Word is that we are royalty, being of the house of God, adopted in, grafted into the main vine by our relationship with Jesus. There’s no word bending there.

So, while this verse insinuates there is mystery surrounding God, our Father in heaven, it also gives us a mandate. Search out the things of this world by comparing what we experience against the solid meanings in the Word. We are to examine our circumstances intimately against what the Word says. In doing this, I have found a truth, perhaps even a key to the Kingdom. As I take my circumstance and search out the scriptures for meaning of it, in spite of the fact that it was written in a day and age that I am totally unfamiliar with, I find new meanings, new understandings, new definitions to overlay onto my life.

So many times we are tempted to believe that the Bible is not for today because it was written over 2000 years ago. But as I dig deep into the Word of God, I find that my flesh, the part of me that experiences this life, here and now, just doesn’t have a clue what this life is about. We only see in part; we cannot see the spirit realm that surrounds us. And it is there, in that spirit realm, that our answers are hidden.

God’s word says He has given me everything needed to walk out this life. To me that means there is provision – but I’m going to have to look for it. It is not present necessarily in this physical surrounding, but it is hidden in the unseen realm, the Kingdom of our Father in heaven. To search for meaning in that unseen realm means that I need the help of my Father for my physical eyes cannot see it until I am trained up in His ways. And the only way in is through Jesus Christ, my Savior.

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Oh Lord, help us. Give us eyes to see, and ears to hear that which is unnatural to us here in this world. I pray somehow that my words today will open someone’s understanding to your mysterious ways. You don’t hide matters from us because you don’t want us to find them; You hide them so we might pull in close to you. Just as a mother will attempt to point across a field and show her child the hidden fawn, lying silently in the grasses, You wait for us to pull in close so you might show us the way through. Open our eyes, open our ears and help us search intimately for your hidden ways. Amen.

…and God Answered

alpine-marmot-cave-182908_1280Have you ever been in the bottom of a hole?  Has life ever dealt you so many blows that you felt like you were trapped in a deep, dark hole with no way out?  I have and I know this is a feeling that many of us have felt before.  One day you’re striding along minding your own business when what seems out of nowhere a hole opens up in your path and down you tumble.  Trying to gain an understanding of what just happened, you realize you are indeed trapped.  Feeling along the walls, there are no holds to help you get out of here.  And that’s the exact moment that fear settles in.

Fear is absolutely debilitating.  It blocks your way.  Now the mind races to times in the past that may have been like this and almost instantly, old tapes are racing through your brain, trying ever so hard to convince you that there is no way out.  Remember the last time this happened?  Do you remember what the family all said?  No one was understanding of this and no one was willing to help you.  You could replace the word family with many: co-workers, friends, lovers, and so on.  It sometimes feels like you’re the only one on an otherwise unpopulated island, surrounded by hounds baying in the distance and they too are closing in.

I’ve lived here so many times in the past it almost sickens me to remember.  What I’ve come to learn with the passing of years is that those times were absolutely a lie!  There were ways out, I just couldn’t see them.  Instead, my memories and recollections played tricks on me, intending to lock me into the rhythms of past thoughts.

Perhaps there’s another explanation.  There is the one, the enemy of our souls, who intends for you to get locked up with past failures.  I see him in my minds eye as a ninja of sorts, tossing wicked stars of destruction, one after another after another, so fast I am not able to keep up with their coming at me.  It’s the sheer rapidity of their flying at me that disarms any sense of hope; I’m too busy dodging and defending myself from their slashing edges to even dare to think I can win this battle.  It, in effect, becomes a battle for my very life.

The enemy of our souls wants to throw so many lies and untruths at us that we get caught up in trying to reason our way through.  It is then that the hole closes in around us and our resolve gets injured, sometimes beyond hope.  Yes, falling into the abyss of our minds can be a frightening place.

It is right there, that last attempt to somehow get out of the hole, that our emotions completely overpower us.  I can’t, I won’t be able to, I’m never going to amount to anything, I’ve done it again.  That unbelievable place we find ourselves in when we thought we were making progress and instead, we find ourselves here in the bottom of the pit.  When this happens enough times, we may actually despair and want to give up.

cave-555727_1280But wait.  There is one more thing to do.  Look up!  From the bottom of the pit it appears a long way up there, but I do see blue skies.  How do I get there?  This is the moment, the time when you cry out to Jesus.  Of course!  Why didn’t I think of this before?  It’s hard to cry out to Jesus when you’re so very busy defending your moves, or trying to claw your way back up.  Sit back down and ask Him to help you recall a song of worship.  Sing to Jesus.  I’m convinced that the melodic sounds of our song drift up to His waiting ears.  He’s been there all along, wondering how long it might take us to reach out to Him.  Due to the nature of our relationship with Him, He waits until we call and it is all He’s been waiting to hear.  How do we know this?  Because the Word shows us the way:

“While he lived on earth, anticipating death, Jesus cried out in pain and wept in sorrow as he offered up priestly prayers to God. Because he honored God, God answered him.” Hebrews 5:7 (MSG)

Jesus Himself shows us the way.  Look up dear one.  The pit is dark and its sides are steep but there is always a way out.  Look up!  Ah yes, He’s there waiting.  Cry out!  When we honor God, He will answer.

YES!

as-343456_1280Take a good look at this picture.  What does it say to you?  Does it seem silly, perhaps even a little bit trite?  I hope you will pause and really look at this picture for a moment before reading on.  Ask the Lord to reveal to you some truth about this photograph.  Go ahead, it just might be the exercise you need to do right now!

I read a post from someone today that put my mind to remembering.  I’m not sure where it all began, perhaps in the story I wrote about in Step Over the Fence.  In what I want to share with you today the context is different from that example, but the theory is much the same.

There came that point in my life, somewhere in my 20’s, that I wanted to do something but my thought pattern automatically went to, “I can’t do that!”  It was the moment when I dreamed a little and wanted something I currently didn’t have or hadn’t experienced yet.  Why exactly my censor/flesh/thoughts seemed to automatically go to the place of can’t I’m not sure.  But this was a thought pattern that was very, very familiar to me.

OK here’s where the above photograph comes in.  See the opening way back there, the space where the arm has entered?  I’m going to liken the thinking process of what I just described as that place, the spot where the idea first occurs to us.  Now imagine with me that you leaned down and looked into that hole, wondering where it led.  All kinds of thoughts might come into your mind:  eeuuww, that’s a dark hole, or I wonder where that hole goes, or I’m not putting my arm in there because there might be spiders/snakes/scorpions in there (humor me, I live in the high desert!).  Can you relate?

I have a cousin who, when we were kids, might have looked at this hole and it would have immediately represented the makings of an adventure, something that had to be conquered.  I never looked at things quite like he did, but I’ll tell you something; when he decided to go on an adventure and his sister and I were invited along, we indeed found adventures galore.  There were sometimes scary adventures (the time we were following the creek behind their rural property on a hiking adventure and kids on the other side decided to bombard us with rocks) and there were also exquisite quests that left us breathless from the daring thing we just pulled off (the time we dug a tunnel more than just a few feet and it didn’t cave in on us)!

Back to the hole in the photo above.  Life is kind of like that hole.  We look at something in our surrounding lives and make all kinds of assumptions, without much thinking about what we’re really saying about the situation.  To a risk-taker like my cousin, this hole may provide a sense of adventure.  If this hole is the only opening in an otherwise solid wall, the risk-taker sees a question:  what lies on the other side and can I see it through this hole?  My cousin would have stuck his arm right into that hole and I can imagine him giving that thumbs up signal once his hand reached the other side.  To me, the wall appeared a barrier and the hole seemed a taunt, nothing more.

There came the day in my life that something shifted. I was working at a struggling-to-survive alcoholism treatment center.  I was the bookkeeper and well aware of the financial state of the place.  I knew we needed a rabbit pulled out of a hat.  I was a brand new Christian, and Jesus Christ was wooing me to conquer fears; I didn’t know how to do this risk thing, but He was about to show me.

I thought one day, “we need a big name person to come and put on a benefit fundraiser for us.  But who?”  I labored over that until one night as I lay in bed reading a book by a well-known author, it came to me.  Why can’t I ask this man, the author of the book, to come and do a benefit for us?  My censor told me, “no way girl!  You can’t do that.  It’s impossible, and he will think you’re nuts if you ask.”  But then something very foreign, a timid form of wisdom spoke through my thick wall of objections and the place at the other end of the tube, called to me in a whisper, ever so softly:  “You can certainly ask because you know what?  What’s the worst thing that can happen?”  And I had to answer that question.  The worst thing that might happen?  He might say no.  And then I had to ask the question, “if he says no, will my world end?”  Of course it wouldn’t.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  And that was the point it all changed.  That was in 1977 and I still have a copy of the letter I sent to this famous author.  (By the way, he said no!)

I’ve applied that truth to oh so many seeming obstacles in my life and do you know what I’ve found?  In most instances, I experienced the surprising success that I thought impossible!  I came away from so many situations, shaking my head in disbelief at the ease in which the solid wall of the impossible came tumbling down, right before my eyes.  I got jobs I never thought I’d qualify for.  I was able to try things that my experience certainly didn’t add up to.  My husband and I held a rock concert we thought impossible with a well-known performer.  Successes went on and on but I always had to go through the process of asking.  It was absolutely a case of stick-your-arm-into-the-hole and WA-LAA!  There was a freedom waiting on the other side of no way — YES!

So go through the process today and see what happens!  Go ahead and ask.  The worst they can say is no.  And your world will go on.  I promise!