It’s amazing how many times and how many ways the Holy Spirit tries to get our attention. But, what’s more astounding, is the lengths some of us will often go to ignore Him.
Sometimes He whispers and sometimes it’s as if He is standing on the runway of life, trying everything to wave us down and get us to the right place. But how do we often respond? If you are like me, you sometimes look the other way and then come up with every excuse in the book for your state of total oblivion.
“Sorry, I didn’t see you,” you say, knowing full well both of you know that’s a lie from the pit of hell.
“I don’t have time right now,” you whine, knowing deep down that His timing is always perfect.
And, sometimes, you question Him or, worse yet, just downright ignore Him
We’re human. We all do it at some point. Some of us, more than others. But we are warned, this is a very dangerous practice, particularly when we do it for too long. For, if we do it too long, our hearts can become hard of hearing.
I cannot imagine forever living without the two-way communication we get when we accept Jesus and His Holy Spirit comes to reside in us. What comfort there is in knowing that we are never alone. No matter what is going on around us, He is there to guide us and give us wisdom, to protect us, to comfort us and to empower us to share our God-given talents and gifts with the people of the world so that they, too,
can see Him through us; so that they, too, will want to partake in the joy and power that comes from knowing Him.
In being completely transparent, I have been very sporadic in allowing the Holy Spirit to fully guide me during the tumultuous parts of my story that have unfolded over the past few years. Don’t get me wrong here, though, He has been with me every step of the way during this time, comforting me and giving me everything I need. Thankfully, no matter where we are, He is always all-in with us. The real beauty happens when we are all in, too!
This morning, as I breathe in all the peace and love that He has to offer me, I desire to bring myself to that same all-in status. I want to hear and feel every word He has for me; I want to embrace every bit of direction; every bit of promise and light and hope and joy and love.
Stop with me for a moment. Turn off all screens, close your eyes and breathe Him in. His breath is healing and full of abounding energy. It is rhythmic and melodious like a beautiful symphony. What’s that I hear? Ahhhh, it’s the clock keeping time, synchronizing its rhythm too. Oh, and the sweet birds outside the window are joining in the chorus.
What do you hear?
Breathe. Breathe. He loves us so much. Thank you, Lord.
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 continues to guide me through a series of other storms, bringing my mind back to this very event. Thankfully, 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!
Oft times when I am driving, I choose to drive in silence; opting instead to spend time in prayer. Yesterday was one of those times.
As I headed up the interstate for an appointment in a neighboring city, I continued a prayer that started pretty much after I got laid off in November; a request for holy guidance to whatever most meets God’s purposes for me as well as my financial needs. And, though I feel confident that God is leading me and that the right opportunities are being revealed and validated, the truth is I still have moments of doubt. I’m human.
A glimpse of that humanness presented itself yesterday and I was convicted before I could even finish my opening sentence. These are the words that came from my heart, “Lord, I need You to…”
I came to a screeching halt mid-sentence as the Holy Spirit kindly flipped on the light switch for me. Was I actually about to tell God what to do? Was I really going to tell Him what is best for me? I mean He’s not a genie in a bottle. He’s not my slave. He’s not my employee. He’s the Almighty. The Maker of Heaven and Earth. The Maker of me. He’s the Alpha. The Omega. And he’s the Beginning and the End.
Thank goodness the Holy Spirit waved me down and, instead of me finishing a sentence drenched in complete obstinance, I began to profusely apologize to the Father.
What He reminded me of in that moment was this: I may want God to do a certain thing for me, and I can always ask, but what I really NEED is Him. Plain and simple. I NEED God and His plan and His will for me. Period.
If what I desire falls within that will, then nothing can stop Him from giving it to me. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. There is no chance in Heaven or on earth, that something I really need is not in God’s will for me. My job is to stay in His Presence; to follow Him and His lead and love Him with all of my heart, mind, and soul. He really does know best and He is always there for us, even when we are being stubborn.
Indeed, though my prayer session started out a little rocky, it ended with me feeling more loved, more cared for and more secure than ever. Thank You, God, for always, always being there and never giving up on my stubborn self.
Amen and Ehmen.
And the Word of God says:
“You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 14:14
“If we ask for anything according to his will, He hears us.” John 5:14
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!
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.
God, I hear You calling and I’m trying desperately to catch up with You; to walk beside You, to synchronize my steps with Yours. But, I’m continually running into obstacles.
As if on cue from satan himself, out of the shadows step the demons of doubt, fear and deprecation. They stand in front of me and block my path, arms locked together as if to engage me in a game of Red Rover.
“Red rover, red rover, send Brenda right over,” they chide, demonic laughter filling the air and assaulting my confidence and my faith. I can’t help but shiver as their Goliath-sized shadows hijack the sun’s warmth as well as its light. It becomes a battle just to see.
And, yet, their purpose is dreadfully clear. They have come to intimidate, threaten, frighten, scare, bully, coerce, terrorize, daunt and taunt me; to keep me frozen in place and far away from the purpose that You prepared for me before the first word of Creation was ever uttered.
“Red rover, red rover, send Brenda right over.”
My mind starts to reel; to unravel like a runaway spool of thread. I can either run away and live the rest of my life knowing that I gave up on You or I can face this thing head on. I breathe deep and step back a few steps so that I can gain more momentum. There is no way I’m giving up, I mutter to myself. I will simply close my eyes and run with all my might, straight through their arms and into Yours.
But, oh sweet Lord, the growls of my opponents are becoming louder and more obnoxious. And, as much as I want to walk with You–to fulfill my purpose–I can’t help but notice how grotesquely strong they look. How on earth will ever be break their hold, I ask myself, and, with no immediate answer, I shrink back in defeat without ever taking a step.
Defeated. Beaten. Overwhelmed and overcome. I look down at my feet frozen in place as the enemies’ taunts crescendo in victory. They win. Again.
The only thing I have left now is to pray. But I don’t even know where to start. I am so ashamed that I once again let the enemy defeat me, to hold me back. With the words “I’m sorry, Lord” rising up through my spirit, I begin to hear a still small voice. It is a warm, familiar and very quiet voice, but still somehow louder than the enemy’s raucous heckling. I immediately recognize that it is You.
“Get up, child,” You whisper sweetly. “Get up, but don’t try to run with all your might; this time, child, run with Mine.”
Your words, gentle and powerful at the same time, send a surge of encouragement and pronounced strength coursing through my spirit, mind and body. I rise up into a crouch position just like that of an Olympic sprinter and, with the sound of cheering angels ringing in my ears, I open my eyes. I see the band of demons still outstretched before me and I see their mouths moving. It sure looks like they are still talking trash, but the words filling the air about me are beautiful, peaceful, encouraging.
“It’s over, It’s over, Brenda come on over.”
I can no longer contain myself and, even though I still see the demons, I take off running toward the beautiful sound. And, as I run faster and harder than I dreamed possible, the heavenly cheers grow louder and louder and the demons grow smaller and smaller until I finally burst though their evil stronghold with the fortitude and power of a wrecking ball.
I hold up my arms in victory and as the dust settles around me, I see You standing there in all your Glory. You smile a knowing smile. You’ve been here all the while; waiting on me; cheering me on.
Lord, thank You, for never giving up on me, even when I give up on You; for having faith in me, when my own faith waivers. Thank You for sending Your spirit to intervene when the enemy lines look too strong to break through and for helping me to stand firm when I feel weak. Thank you, Lord, for Your willingness to keep reminding me that, with Your help, I DO have the strength and power to run full steam ahead into Your will and purpose, for it is there that You dwell and it is there I wish to dwell also. With all that I am, I praise You. Amen and Ehmen.
As Christmas wound down and New Year’s Day quickly approached, I started thinking about writing a New Year’s post as I have done in year’s past. There is just something about standing on the ledge of a new year—and, in this case, a new decade—that begs for a time of reflection.
This year, however, I just wasn’t mentally there at the time. I really can’t explain why. It is simply the way it was.
However, as the month has marched on, a post that has been percolating for several months has now bubbled to the top and I think is quite fitting to kick off this fresh, budding new year and decade.
It is a true tale about a tree.
Not just any tree, mind you, but a mini bonsai tree that God has used to teach me more about Him as well as myself, especially during the last half of 2019.
The story actually started about four years ago when I paid my first of two visits to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. After discovering this spiritual haven nestled in the woods on the outskirts of Atlanta, I scheduled a personal retreat weekend in anticipation of snuggling up to God and reconnecting with Him and the purpose that He has laid before me. I was hoping for a little more direction and a whole lot of inspiration.
Needless to say, He did not disappoint. He never does. Seriously, when He said, “Seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened,” He really meant it. After all, He is literally a God of His Word.
So, as I planted myself in the silence of that holy and beautiful place, He met me and filled me with more love, wisdom and inspiration than I ever imagined possible. I left revived, rejuvenated and ready to continue on my path, pen in hand, just as I had hoped and expected.
But, I also left with something else that I had not anticipated—a beautiful little bonsai tree straight from the monk’s green house and garden center. I had read about the garden center in one of the monastery brochures, but nothing prepared me for the impressive display of mini trees I actually saw there. It was like walking into a magical indoor forest. Apparently, the monks have been crafting these little beauties for decades, and I felt compelled to buy one as a memento of my trip. I picked out a small one that was reasonably priced and carefully transported it back home.
Once home, I found just the place for it on the sill of the garden window in my kitchen. There, I thought, it would get plenty of sun and, since the water faucet is right there, it might also have a better chance of me actually remembering to water it.
That last part was super important as I don’t have the best track record with plants. Not only is my thumb not green, my plants often aren’t either. Therefore, the closeness to the water source is more crucial than you might think.
Unfortunately, even its proximity to the water source didn’t work so well. Turns out you still have to DO something, and as my job got super crazy and I was working 80-plus hour weeks, that something happened less and less. I could barely remember to water and feed the dog, much less my little tree, which was now down to just a few cluster of leaves. Somehow, though, it survived.
Even after I left that job some two and a half years ago and I did better about watering my little tree, it still didn’t seem to really grow and eventually faded into the background of my kitchen window and my thoughts.
Until this past September, that is, as I readied myself to head back to the monastery for a little of what I like to call “me and Thee time.” As I hung up the phone after making my reservations, I stood in the kitchen staring at my pitiful little barren tree and began making plans to shop for a new tree and start over. But, as I planned away, God interrupted me.
In that still small voice that I will forever be thankful for, these words came booming through deep in my spirit:
“No, no, no. Dear Child, don’t you see? You are like that tree. When you don’t feed and nourish yourself spiritually, your fruitfulness and growth may stop, but I NEVER give up on you just as you should not give up on your tree. You are both special, one-of-kind creations that I love with all My heart and cannot be replaced. Come, let me replenish you and revive your mind, body and soil.”
That’s right, where you would normally expect to hear the word soul, I heard God say soil, and, in that very instant, I knew exactly what I was supposed to do. And, it was NOT to buy a brand new plant, but to repot the one I had in renewed soil, just as God was about to do with me on my weekend retreat—a beautiful Spirit-infused weekend which I really need to write about soon.
For now, however, I hope you’ll continue to indulge me in the story of my tree.
As the weekend came to a close, I popped over to the monastery garden center and spoke with one of the monks. I told him about my struggling tree and he suggested a small bag of new potting soil and some bonsai food. He explained why bonsais need repotting in fresh, nutrient-rich soil and how often to feed it after it has been repotted. He also reminded me to water it every single day as bonsai soil is designed to not only allow water to quickly drain from the soil, but to also allow fresh air to continually enter.
I couldn’t wait to get home! I was so excited to repot and literally breathe new life into my tree. I even thought about posting about it so that everyone could share in the miracle that God was about to perform.
“But, then again, perhaps I should wait just to be sure,” I thought to myself and closed my laptop as quickly as I had opened it.
I repotted the tree just as instructed and watched excitedly and expectantly. My tree, however, did not flourish overnight. In fact, it was quite the opposite, and, over the coming days and weeks, the few leaves it did have fell away until I was left with what looked like a twig sticking up out of the soil. A twig, y’all. No leaves, no nothing.
I was not just disappointed, I was devastated and oh so glad that I had chosen not to post about the miracle that God was sure to perform. Sadly, I didn’t take a photo of it either. After all, it was twig, y’all. No leaves, no nothing.
Still something inside of me wouldn’t let me give up. I continued to water and feed that little twig until finally, a couple of weeks later, I noticed a tiny little green bud bursting through a bleak nub on my tiny dried up little tree. Then another. And another. And another. And another. Until my little tree, in just a few short weeks, was starting to look like the tree I had purchased some four years earlier.
As a matter of fact, it is still growing and flourishing, and, this morning as I gazed on in utter amazement, I heard that still small voice again deep in my spirit.
“Don’t you see, dear Child, sometimes the old things must fall away to make room for new growth and for new revival to take place. I’m proud that, even when it looked like all hope was lost, you tended the twig and trusted in Me. Remember, dear one, your human perspective is very limited. You cannot see as I see. You cannot see what is happening behind the scenes and, even if you could, your human mind could not understand. Your job is to trust Me and to continue abiding in Me as I abide in you.”
“For I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; but apart Me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5
“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” Revelation 21:5
Happy sigh. Thank you, Father, for continuing to love me, to seek me and to tend my spirit and soil/soul, despite my stubbornness and propensity for drifting away and forgetting to fully trust in You. Thank you, Father, for planting eternity and a desire to know You in my heart. Help me to keep the soil of my heart refreshed so that Your roots in me grow stronger and stronger, allowing me to flourish like my little bonsai and to continue to become the fruitful one that You created me to be. I love you, Father. Forever.
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