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!

God Loves…You!

There are a number of keys hidden away in the Bible.  It used to seem odd to me that the Lord would hide things in the Bible however, over the years, I’ve discovered a few of them and I think I have better understanding as to why they were hidden in the first place.  When something is given to us, we tend to not take as good care of it as something we’ve had to work for.  Now I realize that may be an overstatement because there are always things given to us in our lives that become treasures.  But, as a general rule, I’ve found I take better care of those things I’ve worked and/or searched for.

When it comes to my faith, I feel I’ve had to scratch and work at every bit of truth I’ve learned along the way.  I was one of those skeptics; “Lord, you prove to me that you’re real and I’ll follow you!”  Yes, I was a hard case.  But, true to His nature, He actually answered the hard cries of my heart and my skepticism melted away.

So this is it. God loves me.  Not because I worked for it, but because He loves me and He gave the gift freely.

Let me explain. The Bible is full, literally overflowing with God’s feelings toward us:

-You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psa. 139:1
-I am familiar with all your ways. Psa. 139:3
-Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matt. 10:29-31
-I chose you when I planned creation. Eph. 1:11-12
-You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psa. 139:15-16
-And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1
-Every good gift comes from my Hand. James 1:17
-My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jer. 29:11
-My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psa. 139.17-18
-I will never stop doing good to you. Jer. 32:40
-I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jer. 32:41
-If you will seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deut. 4:29.
-I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Eph. 3:20
-For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thess. 2:16-17
-When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psa. 34:18
-One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Rev. 21:3-4
-And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Rev. 21:3-4
-For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26
-Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Cor. 5:18-19
-I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Rom. 8:31-32
-If you receive the gift of my son, Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23
-My question is…will you be my child? John 1:12-13
-I am waiting for you.” Luke 15:11-32
Excerpts taken from “Father’s Love Letter” by Barry Adams

I could go on and on, quoting scripture after scripture of what God has to say about us. He didn’t say it just to me, but to you too!  And while I was the hard case, I really didn’t work for this truth…it was there all along, just for the acceptance.

God loves you. Tomorrow marks the day that Love came down, from heaven to earth, to serve us and become the sacrificial Lamb so we all might live. I pray that this, the Christmas truth, will somehow touch you. Is there more to this story? Oh yes there is. But you must make the first move.

He’s waiting for you. Will you come?

Merry Christmas my friend.

Step Over the Fence

Today a friend called. She was struggling with fear and hoped I might have something to say about the subject. Yes, I had something to say. Fear is a monster, brought about by our own false notions. I love what Dr. Henry Cloud has to say about the matter:

“Make sure you scare yourself today by stepping out of your comfort zone somewhere.  Life only gets bigger by walking through fear.  Fear is a fence.”

Fear is a fence. Does that say it all or what? If allowed, fear rules us. It confines us. Strips us. Stops us. And I believe that is exactly what the enemy of our lives had in mind when he created fear. Fear has this incredible strength to stop us dead in our tracks.

I’ve had a lot of fears in my life. Some were actually quite silly but they stopped me nonetheless from doing or accomplishing various things. I’ll never forget the sage wisdom of a counselor in my life many years ago. My problem concerned a job I was working in at the time. This job, while fulfilling at first, became my nemesis. I allowed it to eat me up inside because I didn’t know how to handle the stress of the job. And after doing it to the very best of my abilities at the time, I wanted a change. But, I didn’t know how to make a change.

I sought out and went to this counselor. Saw him exactly one time. I told him the dilemma.

“So what do you want to do about this?” he asked.

“I want to quit the job.”

“And so why don’t you?”

“I’m afraid to. I’m afraid of disappointing my boss and leaving her with the mess of finding someone else to do the job. I’m afraid of disappointing my parents and family because they’ve been so proud of me for my accomplishments in this job. I’m afraid of disappointing my husband,” and my voice dropped off.

He looked at me. “So if you quit your job, what would be the worst thing that could happen?”

“Well, I wouldn’t work there anymore,” I replied.

“And what’s the worst thing that can happen after that?”

“I wouldn’t have the money from working there?” I asked.

“Yes, that’s true. Can you think of anything else?”

“Um, no, that’s pretty much it,” I replied.

“So, if you quit and these things happened, would you die?”

I was shocked by his question. What kind of a nincompoop did he think I was? “No of course I wouldn’t die!” I stated.

“Then what’s the problem?” he asked.

And that was it. The crux of the problem. I was allowing fear and probably a bit of pride to stop me from doing what I wanted to do. Of course the financial ramifications were something that would have to be worked out between me and my husband, but we had already talked it over and I knew we’d get through that part. Fear was stopping me. Fear had indeed fenced me in as Dr. Cloud so eloquently stated.

The reality became clear. Fear was nothing but a thought that I had given permission to mess with me, a notion I wrongfully gave too much power to and it was smothering me. And it was that thought, that lost power of mine that gave the enemy permission to torment me with this job. I’ve never forgotten this lesson in my life.

Remember truth. Fear is a thought. Fear is not from God. God loves me and He wants the very best for me. He says it over and over, in countless ways throughout the Bible. God is for me, not against me. When I allow fear to rule, I’m trapped within the confines of the thought. Frozen, unable to move. Fenced in.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Step over the fence and see what happens. Will you die? More than likely not and you might just find the freedom you’ve been looking for. Brilliant! What’s the worst thing that might happen? Power…to live a life full of all the possibilities!

Freedom vs Busy-ness

I met a very special woman the other day as the result of a divine appointment, arranged by God for the day. She is married to The Lord now, her husband of many years having passed away and gone home to be with Him a few years ago. I asked her what she might be doing next. She wasn’t sure, but she said she would know when The Lord gave her her next marching orders.

Something in our conversation really stuck with me. As we talked and were getting to know one another, I asked if she participated on Facebook; I was trying to figure out how we were going to keep in touch. “No, I don’t have a computer right now nor a TV.” She kind of laughed about it but her next words really made an impression on me.

“I haven’t had a TV or internet for awhile, something that my late husband got us into. I’ve had both before and I’ll tell you something about them. When you don’t have them, you have a lot more time to spend in the Word and with The Lord. You begin to hear Him better. It’s really quite lovely!”

As I’ve pondered this and why it made an impact on me, I realized something. A lot of my busy-ness is tied to my computer and TV! I’m not a compulsive computer person but it does play a role in my life. I check my email and check out what’s up on Facebook at least once a day. I enjoy spending time writing and inviting Holy Spirit to give me words of encouragement for some of the people my life touches. At the end of the day, after dinner, there are a few programs that we like to sit down and watch most evenings. TV doesn’t control us like it used to, but we do watch television.

John 8:32 says, “…and you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.” Simple words meaning that as you spend time in the Word, with The Lord, and pursue His way of life, you will live in more and more freedom. Jesus came to set the captives free and His way of helping us gain that freedom is time spent with Him and in His Word.

Are you feeling the effects of gaining freedom through your relationship with Christ? If not, you might want to take a closer look at what you are giving your time to each day. This simple conversation the other day has caused me to ponder this exact thing. I am feeling more and more freedom in my life however, I know more is available. I’m asking myself whether I need to cut back on TV (hmmm, perhaps even eliminate it for awhile?) and/or whether I might need to disconnect from Facebook. I just might be able to gain some precious time to do something I feel the need for more of…spending more quality time with my Lord!