Lord, I come to You now in the presence of every person whose eyes land on these words. I know that it is not by accident. Lord, we NEED you now more than ever. Our friends and family members are sick and dying, but YOU, God, have the ability to heal them and to obliterate this virus from the face of the earth. We know that nothing happens without Your knowledge and we know that You are ultimately in control. Help us to sit in that truth and remain good stewards of Your Word and Your Church. Help us to be kind to one another and to put other people—even those we don’t agree with—first. Help us to take care of one another the way that You intended. Help people see past the political party lines and remember we are all made in the image of You. Help people to not put personal freedom over compassion for their fellow man and help those worried about this virus to be met with understanding and compassionate responses rather than fighting and mocking. Help me God with my own fear as I lean on You and trust You while using the sound mind you gave me to make safe choices that are right for me and those closest to me. Touch our world and our country, Lord. Heal us from border to border, every family, every person. Eradicate COVID 19 and make it disappear as quickly as it came. Hear our pleas, Lord. It is in Jesus’ mighty name we pray. Amen and Ehmen.
Writer’s Note: As I have mentioned on this blog before, I often “record” my personal God and prayer time by opening a blank page and typing the two-way conversation that ensues. It amazes me how much I get from it as it happens as well as later when I re-read it. How do I know His part of the conversation is definitely His part?Well, simply put, I am just not that smart. If anyone finds it helpful, I will continue to post some of these “blank page” conversations on Amen and Ehmen! Feel free to comment and let me know if any of my posts ever help you. And, remember, prayer is just talking and listening to our sweet, sweet Father in Heaven. Talk to Him. He’s always ready and waiting. Amen and Ehmen.
January 23, 2015 7:32 AM
It’s me. I really am going to try and do better about spending uninterrupted time with you in the mornings; time when I can record on paper my observations and thoughts as well as your answers and teaching. It still amazes me, when I only give you a few minutes of my day, just as I did earlier this week, you still spoke and shared with me such wisdom and love. As you know, I shared what you told me on Facebook, and it obviously helped others. I love this about our “blank screen” conversations and I love you, wanting nothing more than to do your will. Why, then, oh my Lord, do I not sit in front of this page more often? Why am I not going bed earlier so that I wake up earlier and have this time with you? It’s always fruitful. Always. Lord, I pray that you help me overcome any satanic attacks or even just plain fleshly laziness, so that I spend more time learning from you, taking instruction and then sharing that wisdom and love with others. I know that this is your will for me and I want nothing more than to please you and bring your lost children to you so that we can all one day live in the heavenly realms with you as one big, happy family. Amen and Ehmen.
Dear Child of Mine,
You are learning. Just keep your eyes trained on me. Keep your heart and your ears tuned to me. Together, we will overcome the temptations that threaten to steal the mission that I have assigned you. You can do this, if you just stick we me. That is the key, however; sticking with me. Apart from me you are nothing. And, in sticking with me, you must fully and completely trust me. This is where most of my children, including you, go wrong throughout life on earth. You say you trust me, but then you don’t listen to my instruction; you don’t obey my word. Do you not see how hypocritical this is? Now, don’t be deceived. You are not the only one who lives like this. It began with Adam and Eve and has continued throughout history. Even those after my own heart fell and still fall prey to this. I say this not to offer you an excuse, but to make you understand that this is not unique to you. And why is this important to understand? It is important to understand, because Satan will unceasingly and unfailingly try to convince you otherwise. Satan will tell you that you are a failure; that your disobedience is a sure sign that you must not love Me or believe in Me like you should. Or, even worse, that I, your Creator, could not possibly love someone like you. This is a lie from the deceiver; from the enemy. I love you unconditionally. No matter what.
This, however, does not mean you won’t be tested.
Everyone, my child, is tempted and tested, because everyone who has and will ever live has a purpose and a part to play in fulfilling my plans. Absolutely everyone. Satan, on the other hand, seeks to kill and destroy; not because he hates you, but because he hates Me and will do anything to try and thwart my plan. You are just a toy to him, a tool to be used and discarded. He even tried it with my own Son. Why, on earth, do you think you’d be immune?
Note what I just said, he “TRIED” it with my son. To try is to attempt and his attempt failed miserably. My son is pure and my son died for you, giving you the promise of eternal life and the ability to also fight back and come back. You can’t lose with Me on your side. Together, we turn temptations into failed attempts. And, I do one better than even that; for, if Satan is successful at tripping you, I will be there, not only to help you back up and to dust you off, but to use the dirt, the muck and the mire into which you fell to build something more; to teach you and those who witness or hear your story how to move even closer to me. I will never turn my back on you. Ever.
But, know this, too, My child, Satan is the quintessential deceiver and once he gets you down, he will use every trick in the book to keep you there. He is a master of smoke and mirrors and will turn every human weakness into a tool to keep you in bondage; to keep you wandering in the desert and as far away from your mission and path as possible.
Do you remember when my people wandered in the desert for 40 years on their way to the Promise Land? It took 40 years, a whole generation, to traverse a section of land that should have only taken a few days, had they followed my lead and direction. And, because of that, the majority of the generation that left Egypt for the Promise Land, died before they were able to enjoy the promise. This is to be a warning to you. Your life is a journey to your final destination, the promised land of heaven where you will live in peace and joy with me for all of eternity. But, you must follow my lead and fulfill your purpose of leading others into this glorious kingdom. If you don’t, you, too, may very well spend a lot of unnecessary years wandering in the desert where you are easily swayed by Satan, perhaps convinced that you are lost forever when, in reality, you are on the fringe of where your heart longs to be, with me!
You are close enough to touch me; to grab my hand. Don’t let the deceiver use your weakness, your hunger, your own personal pride to convince you otherwise. The desert, you see, can be simply a place you pass through on your way to Me, a place of training and learning. Or, counter-productively, you can allow it to simply become Satan’s sandbox.
May we all reach for His Hand today and stay far away from satan’s sandbox. Amen and Ehmen!
Writer’s Note: Today, amid all the pain and uncertainty of the coronavirus, I feel, more than ever, that we are living in the “day in between”, a day of seeming silence on the trouble that commands our attention; a day, which if allowed to remain grounded in fear, will continue to be crippling. Yes, we are battling an unseen enemy and, though we have dubbed this enemy COVID19, I believe in my heart of hearts that it is the same unseen enemy that we have battled all along, Satan. He’s sifting us, y’all. But, I truly believe, in the deepest reaches of my soul, that Sunday is coming and Jesus Christ, our resurrected Savior and Miracle Maker, has another HUGE Miracle in store for us all. Spend this Saturday sitting high atop a foundation of trust in what tomorrow brings…a day of true joy and hope for the world! And, remember, it all started with HIM, but it continues with us….spread The Word! Sunday is coming!
The Day In Between
It’s sometimes called Holy Saturday, the Great Sabbath, Black Saturday and Easter Eve. But what is today, really?
Well, I think today—the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday—is just that, the day in between.
The silent day that lay mournfully and mysteriously between the brutal crucifixion of our Lord and Savior and His joyous resurrection. The day between a promise and its fulfillment.
I can’t even begin to imagine how those who loved and followed Jesus must have felt on this day; just hours before having watched as God’s own promise hung tethered to a rugged cross; bloody; lifeless; hopeless.
I just can’t even imagine how they felt when the world’s only hope that God Himself had so lovingly poured into the flesh of a baby more than three decades prior was taken down from the cross, a crumpled and shattered shell; breathless; dead.
Oh the grief, the fear, and the sense of loss they must have felt. Their friend and Messiah was gone and laying in a tomb; his bruised and battered body as well as their hopes and dreams swaddled in burial clothes and sealed in darkness.
I just can’t even imagine.
But, wait, you might say. What about the miracle of Jesus’ birth and all the miracles and prophecies fulfilled throughout Jesus’ life on earth? What about all the wonders—the feeding of thousands from a single lunch; the healings; the raising of Lazarus from the dead? Can you even imagine how in the world the men and women who witnessed these miracles could even spend one day doubting, grieving, hiding, scattered, and scared?
You know, at first I couldn’t imagine it at all. That is, until I realized that we live in this same place every day.
We live in the in-between day, suspended between the promise and the fulfillment and, just like the disciples and those who knew Jesus as a man, we doubt; we grieve; we hide; we scatter; and we certainly fear. We, too, search for hope in a dark world. We, too, sometimes lose our trust that God can make something holy and beautiful and good out of a world that often looks more like hell than the creation of a good God. We wonder how or even if He will bring beauty and order to a universe spiraling out of control. We, too, have moments of doubt. Or least I know I do.
But, thank God, for tomorrow; for Easter Sunday and the empty tomb which has become an everlasting symbol of a promise fulfilled; the rebirth of hope for all the generations to come; for the disciples; for the early churches, for all our descendants and for you and for me.
Thank God for His promise of everlasting life which eternally lives in the breath of His one and only son, Jesus Christ, and for the unyielding sacrifice Jesus made so that we can enjoy that promise just by believing in Him. I believe in Him and I hope that you do, too.
And, if you are still just checking the whole Jesus thing out, I pray that He will open your heart and eyes so that you, too, can take part in the miracle of Easter and the promise of everlasting life. God loves you. He always has and always will. You are His child and he really wants to have a relationship with you. But, you have to do something. You have to take the step and ask Him into your heart. He is not going to do it without an invitation from you. You yourself have to acknowledge that Jesus is your Lord and Savior and that he died on the cross so that you can have eternal life. You yourself have to accept Him and invite Him into your heart.
When you’re ready, you just have to say a prayer something like this. It doesn’t have to be word for word and you don’t even have to understand it all. And you certainly don’t have to be perfect, for no one on earth is perfect. Just say something like this:
“Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. Please forgive me for my sins. I believe that your son, the Lord Jesus Christ, died to pay for my sins and I trust Him now as my personal Lord and Savior. I ask Him to come into my life. Amen.”
It’s that simple. If you pray this prayer and truly accept the Lord Jesus as your personal savior, you can be assured of going to heaven. No matter what you have done on earth; no matter what you did in your past, you will be reborn and resurrected and headed for everlasting life alongside the Almighty Creator, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Oh, my, what a way to celebrate this day in between! Congratulations and welcome to the family! Amen and Ehmen! And Happy, Happy Easter! 🙂
And The Word of God Says:
John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. (NIV)
Romans 1:4-5 And Jesus Christ our Lord was shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised him from the dead by means of the Holy Spirit. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name. Romans 6:8-11 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
Philippians 3:10-12 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (NIV)
Matthew 27:50-53 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. (NIV)
Matthew 28:1-10 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (NIV)
Mark 16:1-8 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ “
I have tried pretty hard to stay positive this last week, but these last couple of days have seen my emotions catching up to me.
Honestly, I feel a lot like I did after 9/11. The world as we know it is changing and so many things are out of our control. It’s not that I’m wrestling with my faith over this. Quite the contrary. He is my one constant. I know He is in control and I trust Him. But, I can’t hold back the emotions anymore.
Fortunately, I don’t have to, because I also know that, even on days like today when there have been more tears cried than words prayed, the Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf and Our Father Who Art In Heaven hears.
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”—Romans 8:26
Come close and touch my soul. Quieten my spirit so that my internal being may bask in the same peace and silence that envelopes this beautiful morning, a blank canvas inviting us to become one with new beginnings, abounding love, and eternal promises—with You.
Lord, synchronize my heartbeat with Yours so that I may dance through this day to the tune of Your glorious and holy rhythm and purpose.
Capture and reshape all my thoughts and desires so that they line up with Your pre-destined desire for me. Heighten my awareness of Your presence and make me more sensitive to Your leading so that I may not miss a single opportunity to serve You, to please You, to praise and love You.
Help me to hear Your voice in everything I see and hear as all of creation sings of Your majesty and glory, and help me, Father, to fine tune my own voice as I join in that chorus.
And, lastly, my dear Lord, help me to turn loose of those worldly things which I hold too tightly. Though I recognize that it is impossible to grasp hold of Your hands when mine are full of things I was never intended to carry, I still find it hard to let them go.
Abba Father, I need You more than I need air and I love You with all my heart and soul, with everything I am today and everything I know I can be as I submit myself to Your will and purposes. Help me, Lord. I am yours.
Amen and Ehmen.
Songbirds tweet in harmony as I willingly and excitedly step into the silence. Silence, after all, is the threshold that one must cross to enter the heavenly realms and the presence of our Precious and Mighty God.
His voice is clearest in the quiet, intimate times and it often seems as if I can hear His very heartbeat. His love for me is overwhelming and I pray that mine for Him is just as obvious and abounding.
As I breathe in His breath, I exhale peace and love. I’m here, Father. Use me. Send me. Heal me and equip me for the journey. Fill me with first trust, then with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
I want to be everything You created me to be; to accomplish all that You planned for me; and, at such time I enter Your Presence for the rest of eternity, to hear these words: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done.”
Amen and Ehmen.
Writer’s Note: I first recorded this blog entry in February 2016. It was during a time of storms and health scares and God showed up to comfort me in a miraculous and undeniable way. I share this again because God guided me through this same health scare yesterday as well as a series of other storms that have occurred over the last month, bringing my mind back to this very event as He continues to comfort me and let me know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He is right here with me and it is indeed going to be all right. I don’t necessarily know the details of how it will all work out, but He is PATIENTLY teaching me that I don’t have to know. I just have to know and TRUST Him. If you are going through anything at all right now, if you feel scared, alone, or simply need something to boost your faith, I hope you will read this. God loves us, y’all. He really, really does!
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.—Hebrews 11:1
What a beautiful, hope-inspiring verse. It flows like honey from the lips of whomever recites it and gives comfort to all who struggle with the troubles and tribulations that are guaranteed to come as long as we continue to live and breathe this side of Heaven.
However, when you are in the midst of those troubles, most of us would be less than truthful if we said that we did not ever doubt. Indeed, sometimes our confidence in what we hope for DOES wane. Sometimes we’re NOT so assured that the things we cannot see are fully under the control of a loving God who will use them for our good.
The fact is, sometimes, when life gets hard, uncertainty will often fuel fear instead of hope and, if you are like me, it becomes more about survival—just putting one foot in front of the other—than it does about resting in peace and hope. It becomes more about drifting in seclusion and fear than living in the presence of God and trusting His promises fully and completely.
Truth be told, as much as I love God and as much as I know in my heart that He is always present and always worth trusting, I have still loitered in a self-imposed seclusion at times; wandered aimlessly through shadowy valleys where cares and concerns take the form of dark and menacing shadows hell-bent on blocking the light in my life. In fact, over the past few months, it feels like I have stood frozen and wrought in fear more than I have walked in peace and rested in trust and faith, even though I absolutely know better.
Thank God I know better. Thank God for the proverbial and omnipresent life-line that He continually invites us to grab hold of and uses to pull us back to a place where we can see Him, hear Him, and feel Him. Thank God, He never gives up. No matter how many times we drift away and lose sight, He just keeps offering Himself to us over and over and over, repeatedly reminding us that He is right beside us and worthy of our trust.
So, as I continued to occupy that valley between fear and worry and complete trust in Him, God started pulling me back to Himself. And, just as He often does when there is something He wants me to really hear, He began putting the subject in my path so many times and in so many ways that it was simply impossible to deny. It seemed that He used practically every thing I read and heard to assert the same truth. Trust Me, He said again and again.
And, trust me, I had heard quite a few messages in the last couple of weeks. Realizing my spiritual and prayer life was collecting dust, I had recommitted myself to the daily habit of spending my half hour drive to and from work either praying or listening to podcasts by various preachers and teachers. It’s something I had enjoyed for several years and I was hoping that it would get me reconnected and out of this cycle of fear and worry which I had fallen into. And, of course, never one to disappoint, God Almighty, the Teacher of teachers, showed up and picked up right where we left off.
Now, I don’t want to say that He harped on and on about that one thing that I was obviously needing most at this point in time, but I will say He was quite persistent. Days turned into weeks and podcast after podcast, sermon after sermon, in one way or another, all dealt with same subject: trusting Him; living in His presence; walking and dwelling with the Holy Spirit; not fearing; and, finally, believing in His good plan for my life, no matter what.
Everyday. It didn’t matter who was delivering it, the message was the same. Steven Furtick. Andy Stanley. Joyce Meyer. Louie Giglio. Over and Over. I couldn’t hide from it. Though, truth be told, I really didn’t want to.
I wanted nothing more than to honor God and find that place of peace for myself where my trust in Him is unbridled. And, so, on my way home one day, after hearing Joyce Meyer preach on the Holy Spirit, I turned off my radio and began to pray. From the Eisenhower exit to Hartley Bridge, I prayed for God to once again heighten my ability to sense the Holy Spirit as well as my ability and desire to follow His lead. I asked to hear His voice loud and clear and to once again be able to trust that everything in my life would be used by Him. I asked for reassurance that it—that I—really was going to be okay. “God, show me that it’s going to be okay,” I pleaded.
As I rode along praying from the deepest reaches of my heart, I suddenly became overwhelmed with this feeling that I was in danger. Completely out of the blue, I sensed that there were deer in the woods parallel to the interstate I was driving on and that, at any moment, that they were going to dart in front of my car. I can’t explain it, but it was so real and so intense that I began to feel panicked.
My first instinct was to brake and slow down, for I figured that slowing down would either keep me from hitting them or, at the very least, lessen the impact. However, when I looked in my rearview mirror, there was a car practically tailgating me, rendering that plan null and void. Next, I considered changing into the middle lane, thinking that I could perhaps put a little more distance between myself and them, but, yet again, a car was fast approaching there as well.
Finally, I did the only thing I could think of left to do, and I blurted out the following plea, “Lord, please just stop them in their tracks! Stop them in their tracks, Father!”
Just like that, the feeling of looming danger dissipated just as quickly as it had started. I took a deep breath and thanked God for this unseen, but deeply felt occurrence. The sense of danger had been so real, but, thankfully, this peaceful, safe feeling felt just as real. That in itself was enough, yet my impromptu lesson on trust wasn’t quite over. Just as I was exhaling a breath of relief, my eyes were almost magnetically drawn to the woods just beyond the road’s shoulder. I couldn’t believe what I saw. There, standing tall, his body half in the woods and half out, was a deer! Head held high, looking in my direction and poised like he had literally been stopped in his tracks!
Though I would have been content with the feeling of relief I experienced a split second earlier, God knew that I needed to see it with my own two eyes. In fact, if you recall, I had just asked Him to come close and to show me that it was going to be okay; that I was going to be okay; and He did just as I had asked! Astounded, I immediately began to gush words of thanksgiving and praise.
Oh, how very much he taught me in those precious seconds and in the hours that followed as I recounted this beautiful experience.
For one, my initial response, as you may recall, was to try and do something myself. I checked the rearview mirror to see if I could slow down and then checked the side mirror to see if I could change lanes. Then and only then did I call out to our Lord to take control of the situation. I don’t know about you, but I do that all the time. I try everything in my power first, when I could save myself a whole lot of trouble by just asking God for help to begin with.
Secondly, I fully believe the woods are symbolic of things that have been going on in my life. Unknown things, such as my health, have been weighing heavily on me and causing angst. But, in just a few moments while driving down I-75, our beautiful Father in Heaven sent me a reminder that just like He controlled that deer in the woods that He was also in control of my health, my future and anything else that I might not be able to see. All I have to do is call out to Him.
Lord, I will never be able to thank You enough for answering me when I call out to You and for being relentless in Your pursuit of me. No matter how many times my trust falters, You never, ever leave my side. Thank you for SHOWING Yourself to me when I need it most and doing so in such a way that I know, without a doubt, that it is You. I shall never forget the image of that deer standing on the roadside, half in the woods and half out, obviously stopped in his tracks just by my asking. Your word says, “Ask, and it shall be given; seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.” And, as always, you are true to Your word. My dear sweet Jesus, I promise to work on trusting in You completely; to remember that You see everything that is going on—even the things behind the scenes—and that, no matter what, you will use it all for my good, all because I’m your child and I love you. Thank you for loving me so and for teaching me to look at everything through eyes of faith and trust. Oh what a difference it makes. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen and Ehmen!
Writer’s note: As I forge ahead in writing the story that God has written me into, I must face with honesty the obstacles that I have allowed to slow me down and sometimes bring me to a screeching halt. For me every obstacle, no matter its weight or size, has been constructed of fear. It’s something I’ve battled my whole life. It’s something, I still battle every single day. Including today. What I’m learning is that it is okay to treat fear as a caution light and check whatever it is saying to me against what God is saying…both to me and about me. When I allow faith to hold hands with my fear, faith and God win every time. This is a little un-edited snip-it from what I’ve been writing of late. I can’t really share the story behind this little editorial excursion as that story needs to be told all together, but I felt the need to share this as I continue on this purposed path….as a reminder to keep going and as I way to create more accountability in my life. Keep me in your prayers as I pray for all whose eyes land on any words I may write. May God bless you and keep you today and always. Amen and Ehmen.
Unless it’s the healthy kind which shows awe and reverence to God, it’s just plain destructive and crippling.
It’s what led me to reject the mantle with which Jesus was trying to clothe me and it’s what convinced me to reject the gift which He tried to personally hand me.
Fear is a lie which the enemy is all too happy to plant and which I ultimately transformed into an excuse to justify my disobedience and, if I am completely truthful, my lack of trust in God. That last part, by the way, is where the real sin comes in, because, let’s be real, shall we? At the very root of it all, fear is sin. Period.
I know this and, yet, this sin was so deeply rooted in my spirit that it became like another gear in my autonomic nervous system; a non-OEM part supplied by someone other than the original manufacturer.
For those who may have skipped out on biology like me, the autonomic nervous system is essentially our body’s version of autopilot. It is the system that controls our heartbeat, our breathing, and our digestive processes—all those important life sustaining functions that we do not consciously direct. It also includes another wonderful system crafted by God to trigger our fight or flight response when we are in imminent danger.
I’ve actually experienced this a couple of times in my life, one of the most memorable being as I traveled on a very busy street one sunny afternoon. A car accident happened right in front of me and I escaped being a part of the collision by mere inches. In an instant, adrenaline was racing through my veins and, without so much as even a pause, I jumped out of my car, and ran over to the driver’s door of the car directly in front of me. Her door was crumpled and jammed and the car was filling with smoke, but an uncommon strength allowed me to rip open the door and lead the driver to safety. I didn’t know I had it in me, but was sure glad that I did.
However, I’ve also experienced this fight or flight phenomena when there was absolutely no danger in sight. It was years before I figured out that I was having panic attacks when this happened. Fortunately, those days seem to be behind me, but the memories are still there. If you have ever had a panic attack, you know why. They are absolutely terrifying. I can’t help but wonder if undiagnosed and sinful fear was at their root.
I suppose it’s possible, as there has always been plenty of fear in my life. From the time that I was a little girl and my family was forever changed by the murder of my father, my life has been filled with moments and events that either ripped or threatened to rip my security blanket from my hands. This, in turn, created a perceived need for me to turtle up; to pull back into my shell and emerge only when I absolutely had to. Internally, that is.
On the outside, I became very skilled at covering up my fears and worked very hard at playing whatever part made me most acceptable, most liked and, of course, most self-sufficient. I told myself that if folks didn’t know my weaknesses, my fears, and my secrets, I could hold onto my self-constructed security blanket a little longer. I did not yet understand that true security comes in Christ and once you have accepted His gift of Salvation, nothing but nothing can snatch it or you away. (John 10:28)
Truth be told, I’m still learning the expanse of His great love and promise, but I have definitely come a long way. Not of my own doing, mind you, but by His sheer grace. I also have a really long way to go as He so poignantly pointed out in both Andrea’s dream and in mine.
After all, I did run from Him. Twice.
Note: Thank you, Lord, for sending these written reminders to me; for leading me to just the right blog post or journal entry; for walking with me everyday and being available for intimate and wisdom-filled exchanges anytime I want. It’s up to me to lace up my shoes and open my heart and my ears to you. I love you and our time together Amen and Ehmen!
As I stepped outside, the sun just peeking up from beneath the covers of the horizon, I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief as a cool morning breeze greeted my skin.
It has been really hot lately. And humid. So humid, in fact, that it feels like Mother Nature wraps me in a warm, wet blanket every time I step outdoors.
But not this morning and, as the cool air energized my spirit, I couldn’t help but send audible thank you’s heavenwards.
Man, it felt good to feel good. It felt even better to sense Jesus’ presence by my side. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not always in step with my Maker, but today was different. The heat and heaviness of life did not exist in this moment and off I went feeling light on my feet and loved in my heart.
I’m pretty sure I had a bounce in my step and I definitely had a smile on my face as I stepped from my driveway onto the asphalt in front of my house. I turned to the right as I have so many mornings, but instead of tucking earbuds into my ears, I decided to listen for God’s voice. Prayer, after all, isn’t always talking and presenting requests to God; it is a two-way conversation which requires us to sometimes close our mouths and open our ears.
He didn’t disappoint. As we strolled along, He began to whisper words of comfort and direction deep into my spirit. He told me that this time and situation were not a punishment, but rather a gift. That this was my time. Our time. A time for reconnection and reinvention. A time of complete trust and dependence on Him. Himdependence, if you will. The time and place our lives intersect; the very place in which His will meets my purpose.
His words washed over me like a comfortable garment. Oh, how long I have waited for this moment. The moment that I could truly take hold of this purpose and dream that He has placed within my heart. How I have longed to harvest what He has so carefully planted.
I breathed another sigh of relief as the mantle that had once felt too heavy to bear, now slid over me like a breeze and rested gently upon my skin. I was surprised at how soft and comfortable it felt. He spoke again. “This, my child, is what I mean by ‘my yoke is easy.’
At this word, I felt the urge to stop and, as I stood in the middle of the road, I noticed that I felt surprisingly relaxed, unlike two weeks earlier when I had felt too uncomfortable and restless to stand still, afraid that someone might see me and wonder what on earth I was doing. I had always felt that I needed to be moving or else I must be wasting time.
But not this day and, as I stood still, He led my eyes to a beautiful flower standing proudly in the distance amid trees and weeds. It was obviously not planted by human hands, but it was unbelievably breathtaking under the spotlight of the morning sun. How could I have not seen this before? How could I have missed this beautiful thing? And, as I stood there and questioned myself, He stood right beside me ready to answer. “See, my child,” I heard His Spirit whisper. “This is what I mean when I say ‘be still and know that I am God.’”
“You, my child, are to be like that flower amongst the weeds,” He continued. “You are to be a hope among the desolate. A flower for which I can bring the winds and scatter your seeds, giving birth to new growth and new hope in places you have yet to see and some you may never see with your own eyes.”
As His words trailed off, we resumed walking. He nudged me down a path I’ve never taken before; hard to believe since I’ve now lived in this neighborhood for a decade this very week. What a creature of habit I can be!
He whispered that sometimes we must get off the beaten path to discover new things about ourselves and about Him. Routine, He declared, can bring death to creativity and creativity is one of the most effective ways to express love and to reflect who He is. “Look around,” I heard Him say. “I am doing a new thing.”
Although the last time I had taken a new route, I had run into a not-so-nice canine, today, I felt a peace in my spirit as I walked along; probably because I was accompanied by the King of Kings. The trees were beautiful and the aroma of honeysuckle chased after me, encircling my senses and making my heart sing. I couldn’t help but smile as I caught myself humming. I was practically skipping along. It didn’t matter that I really didn’t know exactly where this path would lead or what I might find along the way. I was just enjoying being with The Father.
I felt like a young girl in love. I marveled at how blue the sky looked; how green the trees and grass; how beautiful the birds and animals; a little bit of heaven just a few steps off the same road I had traveled so many times. But, almost as soon as I had gotten lost in the newness and beauty of the excursion, I realized the new road had come to an end and I was now standing in a cul-de-sac. I wasn’t ready for it to be over. Had The Father not just said that we sometimes need to get out of our routine?
Sensing my disappointment, He answered quickly. “Just remember, child, even what feels like an ending will always be a setup for something greater when you are walking with Me. I use every step of every journey to teach you and mold you; to open your eyes a little more.”
I drank in His words, knowing in my heart that He was not just talking about this morning’s walk, but instead about the current concerns regarding my life and career. God has been so good to me through my latest situation and, today—almost two months after the unexpected and abrupt end of a 22 year career—I am actually quite enjoying learning to trust Him completely. I am finally making choices based on what I feel is God’s desire for me as opposed to my natural tendency to search for the secure and the safe.
Back on the main road now, I turned to head home. The morning was gaining momentum and the heat was rising just as fast as the sun. I picked up my pace, ready to get home before it got any hotter. Thank goodness this homestretch was shaded by the many majestic oaks for which the street was named.
Again, however, I felt another nudge to stop in the roadway. And while I felt a little more than distracted as sweat began to roll off my forehead, my eyes were drawn to a tree just a few feet away from me. What? Are you kidding me?
I stood in awe as right there in front of me–growing on a random tree on the fringe of the woods–was a grape vine loaded with young grapes. How had I not seen this before? The flower earlier on our walk was pretty far into the woods. Had the sun not shined its spotlight on it, I may have missed it. But this vine, filled with clusters of grapes, was growing wild right along the path I have been walking for months. What’s more, I know grape vines. I have one just like it in my yard. In fact, He has used it to teach me throughout the decade I have lived here; so much so that I have often wondered if the grapevine is the reason God made this my home in the first place.
“You haven’t seen it before, because you weren’t looking.” God’s spirit said to mine. “To you, it was just another vine. It wasn’t until you really opened your eyes and the fruit started to emerge that you took notice. You, my child, are like this vine. You grow and prepare, I prune and tend, but, it isn’t until the fruit begins to materialize that people really begin to take notice. This is your time, child. Get to work and watch me multiply the fruits of your labor.”
Ahhhhhh. Happy sigh. Thank You, Jesus, for this walk; for this day; and, most of all, for this opportunity to be a part of Your plan and purpose. You gave Denny and I a very important assignment several years ago and I know that I know it is time to make it happen. Not ten years from now when I retire; not next year when things slow down. But now. I am honored, humbled and grateful. Help us, Lord, to stay in step with you as we continue to journey into your will and purpose.
We are ready, willing and—with your grace and help—I know that we are also well able. Amen and Ehmen.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
“Be strong…Be strong…and get to work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Heavens Armies, My Spirit remains among you, just as I promise…So do not be afraid.” Haggai 2:4-5