God in the Storm

stormy sea

“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.

surf-279503_1280

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!

Advertisements

Extravagant Dad

waterfall-141771_1280

We are told a story in Genesis, chapter two. God made Adam and then the Garden and finally He made Eve. When Adam and Eve were formed, they were given the Garden to live in, to tend and care for. They were given responsibility by God about this place. God told them to name every animal, bird and all the creatures. What the Lord did was give Adam and Eve the authority they needed to take care of everything in this place of beauty. Then God would come every day in the cool of the evening to spend time with His two favorite caretakers.  Can you imagine what this might have looked like?

The Lord, the God of the entire universe, came each evening and spent it with Adam and Eve. When you read the biblical account, it doesn’t go into much detail because well, I imagine that God knew He had a lot of territory to cover in this book for the ages, and He knew He couldn’t tarry with details. But it is in our pondering that I believe we receive clues as to what the heart of God is for you and I concerning our lives. I don’t believe He meant for us to read the Bible straight through like one reading a novel. Yes, it is full of fascinating stories and accounts of many different people’s lives but it is in the pauses that we learn about God’s intent for us from this most important book we call the Bible.

Adam and Eve were given the most productive, beautiful and flourishing place on earth. It was full of life and vegetation of all kinds. Therein we are told were rivers, four of them to be exact. Rivers bring water and water brings life. So I can make the leap to the fact that there were probably waterfalls as well as ponds and/or lakes.

Think back on the last time you were at a lake, perhaps taking a walk in the evening. Birds sing, talk and dart daringly through the trees. Fish leap out of the water. If you’re lucky you might see a deer walk down to water’s edge and take a deep drink. My last time at a lake was this past fall and while my husband and I were not the only people out there, it was a most peaceful place. It’s not a place we get to savor all that often and so when we go camping there, it is in these evening walks that I am propelled into the presence of my King.

Walking at water’s edge, I am almost instantly aware of God’s amazing creation. I love everything about being there. As we walk, we are mostly quiet. I often talk to the Lord as I go. I love hearing from Him in this place, His place, much unchanged from how it might have been so long ago. It is there that I realize how generous God was for our forebears. He gave them the very best of His creation. He didn’t give it with strings attached, save for instructions about one particular tree (I’ll tell you more about this in a later post). The rest of the Garden was Adam and Eve’s, to enjoy and oversee.

Our God is an extravagant God. He gave to mankind everything He’d created. This translates to the fact that He gives us individually everything as well. At the exact moment we accept His Son, Jesus Christ, into our lives, we are instantaneously brought into the family of God. We are adopted into the family of God, not as an outsider, but one with all the privilege of belonging to this wonderful family. In Ephesians we are told,

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7 (NKJV)

Do you hear this great and wonderful news? Although we were dead in our sins, when we accepted Christ, we were raised up and made to sit in heavenly places with Christ! In this passage is deep, deep mystery; we are given the same authority and responsibility of God as He gave Adam and Eve. When we say yes to Christ, we are brought into the family, given authority and responsibility now to carry on with the family business.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in God’s creation because this is where I hear God most often, and where I receive understanding of His ways. I believe you and I, once saved, receive the authority of God from our heavenly post to disperse His love and ways back here on earth. I’m just getting my head wrapped around this but I believe it is truth, His truth. As I understand more about His intent, my walk gets stronger and stronger and I begin to see evidence of God at work in and through me more and more.

During my childhood my faith was one of fear. I read OT accounts of God’s anger toward His people and somehow that translated into a fear I had of God Himself. In my 60’s now, I understand that God is to be feared yes, out of reverence for who He is, but not fear for my life. No, He’s my dad in heaven and He has nothing but good for me. Does He get frustrated with me? Of course. Does He discipline me? Oh yes He does. But I finally learned that God is for me, not against me and He has so much good waiting for me.  God is extravagant to me and to you.  He willingly gives because we are His kids and He gives good gifts to His children.

This is a truth that we must all learn. I pray my words today will help thrust you right into the lap of Papa God. When He adopted you on the day you said yes to Christ, He gave you the Kingdom, much like He gave the Garden to Adam and Eve. He gave you authority to walk in His ways, but it is up to you to find the path through the Kingdom. The path will be difficult at times because of our own decisions, not His intention. But every time we make a course correction and come running back, He will be waiting there, ready to swoop you up into His loving arms. We are the prodigals come home and our extravagant Dad put his ring on our finger, a robe over our dirty clothes, and new sandals on our feet. He loves me and He loves you.  He wants to walk with you in the cool of the evening and talk all about your day!