Unabridged Blessings

close up photography of four baseballs on green lawn grasses
Photo by Steshka Willems on Pexels.was com

A few years ago, it made the news when I some fellow caught a baseball at a big game, and he was giving it back to the player who knocked it out of the park—only, the gift tax on the market value of the baseball was so much that it would be impossible to keep it. I can’t remember all the details, but to me it was just so absurd that a tiny little leather ball could create so much of a conundrum.

If someone were to give me a big yacht, or a sprawling mansion, or for that matter, a pet giraffe, that person would be unthinkably generous. And while it sounds as if it would be nothing but a #blessing, in truth, the maintenance and upkeep of any of these things would be something that I could neither do myself nor afford to pay someone else to do.

You know, God, the supreme gift-giver, has something to say: “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” (Prov. 10:22). Wow. A blessing that’s not pulling a ball and chain behind it of regret, error, buyer’s remorse, penalty, dread, fear, painful toil, fractured relationships, high maintenance, or strife. Yeah, that’s got my attention.

He’s also not toying with us here…not humoring us or trying to use psychology on us. He’s not baiting us with the carrot-and-stick approach. He’s initiating trust and patience while He teaches us perspective on what’s really good and what’s…meh…only good at first.

Could it be that, as we look to Him for provision and blessing and the fulfillment of dreams, He knows exactly how to bless us without those blessings becoming a burden to us instead? Pause and reflect! We can’t get those sorrow-free blessings by the strength of our own hand–so we learn to patiently anticipate and petition them from the One who knows exactly what will satisfy our deepest longings, without cheapening our relationship with Him or stunting our spiritual growth!

There is nothing wrong with being wealthy. There’s nothing wrong with a Christian or even a preacher (uh oh, some religious bristles just rose on a few people’s necks) being wealthy. I want to be. I want to have the means to do some generous, righteous, benevolent things I can’t do on a grand scale on my limited income. I want to be able to buy necessities like a new car without making the lenders…wealthy.

But, even as I pray daily for my needs (and a few wants) to be met, and as I look to a very generous but wise Father, I trust Him to bless me in ways that won’t be a curse as well as a blessing.  Yeah, who wouldn’t want to get behind the wheel of a Maserati on a stretch of highway with no state troopers, and open it up just to see what it had under the hood…smile…even a few state trooper friends would have to smile at this fantasy…but do I want the insurance payment, property taxes, extra security measures, and the sheer cost to service that baby? Nope. Do I envy or judge the person who has the means to own one? Absolutely not! 

Lord, I pray for myself and my friends reading this today. We all have needs and we all have wants and dreams. And we all have to find a balance between our focus on this life and the eternal life to come. I ask You to meet our needs. Lord, for some, that need might be extra food to last through to the next month. For others, it might be money for college. Or healing from cancer. I’m asking You, Papa, to then bless us with a blessing that makes rich and adds to sorrow with it.

Your blessings always go above and beyond, because that’s just who You are. That overflow is meant to be used for a worthy purpose. I pray that we will have more than enough to meet our basic needs and reasonable wants—and that when You do pour out Your blessing, we will have the good sense to manage it well. You are not a God of waste and ostentatiousness even though You own the cattle on a thousand hills!

Teach us to stop envying others and coveting what they have! Teach us to stop railing on others who do have wealth and talking about them for how they spend their money. Teach us to be better planners with what we have. Teach us to have neither a poverty mentality nor an obsession with material things. Teach us not to judge others by what they have or don’t have. Teach us not to use our lack or thrift or frugality or even our better management as some measure of being holier than someone who has more than we have! Ouch! Conversely, teach us not to look down on someone who has less than us, as if our prosperity is a measure of our level of holiness compared to his or hers. Help us throw away the measuring stick, period! Destroy that comparison mentality which stems from pride, period! And send us the blessing in the form You know we can handle, that accomplishes great deeds but doesn’t take our eyes off of You. We will not rob You of what belongs to You, either!

Over and over again, You warned the children of Israel not to forget You when at last the blessing of the Promised Land would come. Some of us prayed to have healthy children and got them, and now we don’t even teach them about You. Some of us have taken job promotions that keep us so busy, we never have time to worship You or pray or spend time with our families. Some of us have received miracles and extended lives and we went on our merry way and forgot to come back and thank You, just like the other nine lepers Jesus healed. Some of us prayed for talent and we have squandered it or used it in ways that bring You shame. Lord, in whatever ways we have failed You—in whatever ways we have forgotten You and where our blessings come from—we repent.

Build in us great character so that You can entrust great blessings in our hands! Cause us to be faithful over what we have now—in our time, talents, and treasure—so that we can handle promotions, divine favor, and blessings, without our increase becoming our downfall. Who we are with little is who we will be with much, just on a bigger scale. May we be wise, generous, and ethical in all our dealings whether seen or unseen! We will do the right thing. We will be the servant capable of ten talents instead of misusing the one. Bless us, Lord, but in proportion to our character, maturity, and our ability to use that blessing wisely and not recklessly.

We receive today those things from You which money can and cannot buy…and we will put nothing or no one else before You. So as Jabez prayed, bless us indeed, increase us, and keep Your hand on us that we might not cause (or incur) pain. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Release and Renew: Prayers for Those with Heartbreaking Jobs

”I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13 NAS1977)

Be deliberate today in your pursuit of the goodness of God. I speak especially to those in careers where you daily see the ugliest side of humanity, or perhaps the most hopeless-appearing situations. Soldiers, law enforcement, social workers, oncology nurses/doctors, ministers, teachers, counselors, and others–at the end of your day you must find a way to disconnect from the despair, lest you become a casualty instead of a catalyst for healing and hope. You can find that in prayer. At the beginning of your day you have to coat yourself in the hope of the Word to shield yourself from what you’re going to encounter. You might say, “why aren’t you suggesting I pray for the people I encounter instead of myself? This feels so selfish. What about their problems?” I’m writing this today to help keep you strong enough to do the hard work you do. You can’t help others if you wind up taken out by despair. It’s time to gear up because we NEED you doing what you do. Please, stay strong! Take care of your spirit!

Our world is sad. It’s bad out there. There’s so much despair and so many wicked activities taking place. There’s so much sickness and tragedy and cruelty. So many children, elderly, weak, innocent who are preyed upon. So many people operating under demonic influence inflicting pain and suffering on themselves and others. So much ADDICTION.

I’ll be honest. I went through my Twitter feed earlier this morning and the bad news was exhausting. I wanted to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head. I honestly thought, “Death’s not such a bad thing…it’ll be a relief to leave this world and go on to heaven!” But then I remembered what Paul said about it being more expedient (needful) that he remain behind to help others instead of going on to be with the Lord. I want heaven. I want to go and be with the Lord and be away from all the madness for all eternity…eventually. But what I really want to do first is effectively hold back the worst of evil by collectively offering up effectual fervent prayer. I want to point others to Jesus and be someone who hammers signposts in the ground of life that show a lost world the direction in which to run to find hope. THE ONLY way I can remain objective is to have God’s Word tattooed on my heart and mind, and to stay close enough to Him to hear His voice. Otherwise I just disappear into the sludge of despair with everyone else who’s given up and is waiting to die.

So for all of you who are so bravely doing the jobs I could not do (or rather, don’t necessarily WANT to do), I just encourage you this morning to cover yourself. Even if you’re already well into your shift, there’s no time like the present to start. Pray with me:

“God, thank You for helping me survive all the situations I encountered yesterday. Your Word says Your mercies are new every morning. Today I receive Your new mercy. Clothe me with salvation, with humility, with strength. Just like the “whole armor of God,” I put on my tactical gear. My head’s covered with salvation. My heart’s covered with righteousness. My tactical belt is truth…I can attach every tool I need to do my job to this truth. My feet are covered with peace. My shield is faith. My defense weaponry is Your Word and Your Spirit! That said, Lord, I’m getting ready to walk into the unknown today. I will encounter messed-up lives. I will meet hurting people. My heart will break over what’s not fair. Use me to make a difference, to be Your light bearer in a dark place. Help me to respond not out of anger, but with great wisdom.

Help me to do my best while I’m on the job and then help me to LET IT GO at the end of the day. Lord, help me not to carry these problems home to my family. I need my family and they need me. Help me to appreciate and be ministered to by the innocence of the home I’ve worked so hard to build and protect.

Keep me safe today, guard me against burnout; help me to strategize with the mind of Christ about how I can use my gifts to bless others and my strengths to help those who are in the place of need. Help me not to lose my sense of compassion nor my sense of duty to minister to the disparaged. I don’t want to be callous or insensitive when someone is needing treated gently. Help me to be just and fair with all people, even those who aren’t just and fair with me. Remind me that I represent YOU and can’t afford to let my words and actions go contrary to Yours. Help me not to think as the world thinks, but as YOU think about situations. Keep me from being jaded. Keep my heart tender even as you keep it from breaking in two at the things which also grieve YOU. In Jesus’ name.”

And at night (or the end of your workday, whenever that is 😉 ):

“Father, thank You for helping me to make it to the conclusion of another day. These burdens I bore all day long, these suffering people I worked with, the situations I can’t necessarily fix with an easy button…these worries and cares all want to come home with me. The memories want to invade my ability to wind down, to hear my spouse and children’s conversations, to keep me from the place of prayer and the much needed place of recharging and sleep.

But just like a set of coveralls, I choose to unzip the activities of the day and I step out of them. What I couldn’t fix today, I will deal with tomorrow, but for now I let it go. I’m not God–You are. I trust You to put things on hold, to keep the people I can’t help 24/7, to send others alongside to help, and to keep this world spinning on its axis for another day. In Jesus’ name I reject the effects of constant exposure to negative forces. I will not cope with frustration and sorrow by engaging in substance abuse or destructive relationships. I will seek out things that keep my heart pure and guileless, I will freely laugh at every possible opportunity, and I will give mindful thanks for the simple blessings You afford me, like a beautiful sunrise or the giggles of a small child.

I boldly declare that the helmet of salvation will keep my mind and protect me from becoming a walking case of PTSD. You are strengthening me, You are renewing my mind, You are restoring my innocence, and You ARE my joy, my strength. I will run to You and not be so “tough.” You’re the One I run to when I’m out of my league. It’s ok for me to be vulnerable in Your presence because You heal me and help me. I plead the blood of Jesus now to wash me clean, to cleanse the portals of my mind from what I need to let go of. Thanks now for blessing my family time, my worship time, my downtime and strengthening me to fight another day. I love You and trust You. Amen”

Cast Down, But Not Destroyed

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This is Dana and me, pictured just doing what we’d loved ever since 2001.  We logged thousands of miles on motorcycle rides and long road trips. Who knew that one seemingly uneventful night in October 2010, just miles from our home, it would all take such a frightening tumble?

 

 

In commemoration of God sparing our life on a cold October night, I’m expanding a little devotional I wrote in April 2011.  Most of what’s in here is taken from the piece, “Trust and You Won’t Be Crushed.”

It was just at the edge of dusk, 6 years ago this evening, when I woke up to find that I was lying flat on my back on the cold pavement. I remembered seeing the dog run out in front of our motorcycle; and I remembered us bracing and hitting it, then it was like being tumbled in a dark clothes dryer. There hadn’t even been time to be scared, much less avoid the impact. How long had I been unconscious? Someone had already stood up our motorcycle, and a couple of men were looking through the tour pack for some ID. I could see out the corner of my eye that Dana was lying about 10 feet away from me, but I couldn’t hear him speak and I couldn’t see if he was moving. People standing over us were saying things that indicated to me that we were both bad off.

At first I couldn’t even talk, and it was so hard to breathe—I suppose from having had the wind knocked out of me. My helmet was shattered. Later I would find that I had a basal skull fracture as well as a fractured bone in my neck. I vaguely remember a woman holding my helmet and talking about how messed up it was. Someone commented that my head was bleeding. I wanted to get to Dana but I couldn’t raise up; and they were trying to keep me still so they could put me on a backboard. My arm was twisted over my head and I thought it was dislocated, but was told later that the shoulder was broken in two places. In the midst of the confusion and the excruciating pain, reality began to set in about what had just happened.  The loud noise of onlookers and emergency workers was making me more and more uncomfortable as I struggled to get someone to tell me whether my husband was ok.  A couple knelt on the ground and asked if they could pray with me; and as they prayed, the Holy Spirit rose up inside me and I began to pray loudly in Him.  It sounded like an authoritative voice not my own was declaring boundaries around the two of us!  As the noise of urgency began to subside in His presence, I could hear, quite clearly, the Lord whisper just one word to me…“COVENANT.” And in that moment, I knew exactly what He meant. I began to cry and say, “Thank you, God, for rebuking the devourer for our sakes!” A peace I can’t even begin to describe rested on me, one that would get me through the longest night of my life.

I’m told for a little while at the first hospital, Dana was conscious, and he was giving them fits; wanting to come and get me and take me home.  We were airlifted, one at a time, from Williamson Memorial to St. Mary’s.  I begged the paramedics to elevate my head.  I felt like I would absolutely smother to death flat on my back, and would feel that way for the remainder of the night.  No one would move me though, for fear of a spinal cord injury.  I was more afraid of suffocating than I was of being badly hurt.  Once at St. Mary’s, my stepson Coby held my hand and coached me to breathe in sync with him while they repositioned my broken shoulder.  The only relief I had from the discomfort was to occasionally lose consciousness.  Then, as I lay on a gurney in the hallway, waiting to go into a CT scan, a doctor came up and with no expression whatsoever, told me, “Your husband is unconscious and has a serious brain injury. His brain has begun to swell. We’ll do what we can.” With that, she turned and left. I had to make up my mind right then and there…am I going to trust God or am I going to collapse under a weight of fear? I chose to trust God, and that’s exactly what I called out to her back as she was walking away.

For just a little while, they wheeled me into a holding room with Dana. He was lying there, eyes closed, not moving.  I reached my fingers through the bars on our gurneys, gripped his hand, and prayed for him. Looking back now, I wonder whether the doctors might have thought he was going to die, and they were giving me a chance to say goodbye. But I spoke to him this Scripture which came to my remembrance, before they wheeled us in two different directions, “(You) shall live and not die, to declare the works of the Lord.” (Psalm 118:17) 

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Dana, lying near death and comatose for 17 days after our accident. Swollen almost beyond recognition, he had multiple brain bleeds, and fractures throughout his body, and had developed the deadly condition called Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. This picture was a couple of weeks into the ordeal…I couldn’t bring myself to photograph him at first, and wouldn’t again for at least another month.

That was a long first night in the hospital.  Eventually, by the wee hours of dawn, I felt like I could breathe again, but I would have to watch for the next several weeks as a machine did the breathing for Dana.  Angels on assignment kept vigil over him, as did family and friends around the clock for the first nearly three weeks.  I was too sick and injured to sit up with him for the first week or so, even though I stayed nearby and spent as much time as I could in his room.

There are those times when we have to choose to believe, or be crushed under the weight of despair. And there are times when we can’t just think it or hope it…we have to hear ourselves say it—I CHOOSE TO BELIEVE.  I learned to say it out loud, and often, beginning that first night.  I stood on the Word and quoted Scripture as I stood in the gap, and prayed day and night over my husband.  When anxious or despairing thoughts tried to do war internally in my soul, I smiled on the outside in front of others; and I would privately share my sorrows and fears with Jesus.  I bet some folks thought I’d knocked my brains out on that pavement, when I’d counter the negative news with what God’s Word says… but I really didn’t care.  This was a battle for my husband’s very life.  The Holy Spirit cautioned me to set a watch on my lips.  Had I allowed myself to give voice to fear or unbelief, my actions would have followed.  Sometimes I actually wanted to let my vulnerability show, to cry on someone’s shoulder, but the Lord made me brave in the face of a lonely secret:  my words were declaring what I didn’t always feel in the natural!  Faith does it even when we are scared, friends.  And God proved faithful.  When pneumonia and infections came, He kept Dana from succumbing.  When acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) threatened to cause his lungs, one of which had already been collapsed, to just deteriorate and stop working altogether, God was there.  When Dana lay so long with his eyes partially open that the whites turned into what looked like pink sponges, God spared his sight.  Through blood clots, through huge wounds that were left undiscovered and untreated on the back of his head because of the position he had to lie in, through an unbelievably high fever that could have cooked his already-damaged brain, God kept him.  And when they had to bring the crash cart as he came out from surgery for being trached, God did not let him die.  When I had to sign consent for them to give him a special paralytic drug that totally disabled his functions so that his body would stop fighting the respirator, God gave me peace that He would keep Dana alive.  So many miracles that came, so much blessed assurance just in the nick of time.  I still marvel over how the Lord preserved my husband through the next six weeks without a bite to eat or even a sip of water in his parched throat and mouth.  He was tube-fed and intravenously hydrated all that time.

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Dana had to go 43 days with nothing by mouth. In this picture, he had not yet gained the ability to swallow and had to be fed through a tube in his stomach. We still had about 5 weeks to go before we could leave the hospital, and then another 5 months before we could move back into our own house.

When Dana regained consciousness in the second hospital, he couldn’t speak, but because he made eye contact with us and seemed to understand us when we talked to him, we assumed he was ok; however, when at last they capped his trach and he was able to speak,  it became apparent that the head injury was affecting his personality and his cognizance significantly.  He was hallucinating, saying things out of character, behaving not like himself.  I didn’t recognize the man inside the man; and I thank the Holy Spirit for holding onto me and numbing the pain of uncertainty of how long Dana would be this stranger.  His behavior begin to grow worse just as we moved him to the rehab hospital, and the brain injury made him very combative and angry and hard to handle.  Because he only slept for very short periods of time, so did I.  He acted at times like he despised me, but would go into an anxiety mode if I even left to step into the restroom.  He couldn’t even walk yet without a walker and a person or two at his elbows; but one night managed to get out of bed and wobble around on that walker, swearing he was going to find the exit and go home…in 6 inches of snow.  I had to lie to him (forgive me, Lord!) and tell him they bolted the exits from the outside after visiting hours were over…it was the only way to settle him down and make him go back to his bed!  At one point, the hallucinations were so bad, he even thought he was married to two different women at the same time–me and me.  He told me, “She’s good to me, but YOU are the one I love.”  Folks, this wasn’t a cake walk.  At times it has been downright scary and it took every ounce of faith I could muster.  If God hadn’t held us in His hand, we couldn’t have made it.  I only share these very private memories with you because I want you to understand what God’s brought us from, and how He kept bad situations from spiraling completely out of control. I knew from the start that there were ways this situation could’ve been infinitely worse…yet the Lord was merciful.

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Learning to stand—and walk—again. It was at times a very hard process.

The Word and our prayer partners kept me together as I stayed for nearly three months either right there with him or close by.  I only left Huntington to come home a few times to catch up my work, to get clean clothes, pay bills, etc., then right back to the hospital.  Until he was able to be moved to the rehab hospital in December, I’d stayed at a hospitality house. I’d come come home on a Thursday afternoon, work for 24 straight hours on the parts of my job that couldn’t be handled remotely on my laptop; and then Dana’s dad would drive me back (I was in a neck brace and a sling, so I couldn’t drive for quite some time).  At the rehab hospital, I was finally able to move into his room with him.  I just set myself an office up in the corner and kept working! And, friends and family kept driving the nearly two-hour drive to Huntington to those three hospitals. We had a steady stream of visitors.  I’ll never be able to thank them for being there for us…that they even cared this much for us moves me to tears.

On January 21, 2011, Dana was finally released from the hospital.   Even now, he remembers nothing about his hospital stays except for vague little bits the last couple of days or so.  Leaving the hospital was another chapter, and another time when trusting God was critical to survival.  I still was concerned about his healing brain and whether I’d be able to do anything with him if he had another “episode” like the night he tried to leave the hospital!  We weren’t able to go directly home.  We would spend the next four months in his dad’s den–him in a hospital bed and me on a couch beside him, because Dana was still in a wheelchair and walker and couldn’t climb the steps to our house.  He also still had to have his liquids thickened and his solids very soft, to keep from choking on his food from his damaged trachea.  God bless Joe and Thelma for persevering right there with us.  We couldn’t have made it through this without them.  Near the end of May, seven long months after our ordeal, we got to sleep in our own bed again for the first time.

Dana spent 82 days in 3 hospitals, and couldn’t even swallow an ice chip for the first 43 days. He lay in the ICU trauma ward for 17 days comatose, and running an insanely high fever for several days. He had multiple fractures, multiple brain bleeds, and a series of serious complications; but when Satan tried to take him out, God drew the line and said, “No.”

Though it’s been at times a physically and emotionally exhausting 6 years for both Dana and me, we have not lost our joy and we have not lost our love for life and one another. God has been so good to us.  We have adjusted to a “new normal,” and part of it is to lighten up a little and find humor in what would otherwise be frustrating or difficult or just…different.  The head injury left Dana’s personality and behaviors a tad changed from before, but mostly in very good ways.  I think of it as “Dana’s personality—on steroids.”  😉   Dana has a childlike, literal faith that God can and will do exactly what He says.  I’ve watched the Lord transform a lukewarm/backslidden man who’d completely stopped serving God before our wreck into a mighty man of God who prays for hours each day, witnesses to others continually, and encourages folks to believe and speak the Word. (I will draw an exception here however, and I would be remiss in leaving this out:  when he had stopped professing faith and attending church before our wreck, he was still diligent to tithe and give.  He would repeatedly tell me on payday:  “Whatever you do, don’t forget to pay tithe and give offerings on my check.  I may not be living right but I won’t rob God!”  Could it be that, in the time where our lives hung in the balance, God honored a man’s tenacity in this small thing????). What God has done and continues to do in Dana’s life, inside and out, is quite miraculous.  We still confess and believe for the areas of restoration that are yet to manifest.  We believe that what still needs to become whole will be whole again– as our friend Cathy had confessed over us repeatedly, “nothing broken, nothing missing, nothing lost.”  We have surely come from a mighty long way.

And God proved to me that He doesn’t leave;  He didn’t leave me and He won’t abandon you, either!  Even on those days when you feel frightened, alone, ashamed of your personal struggles, numb to all emotion or crying uncontrollably, He’s there.  He watches over His Word to perform it.  Our job is to take that Word and keep speaking it over our lives even when there’s no evidence whatsoever yet that it’s doing a bit of good.  We are to speak it even when our hearts are hollow and the words seem to fall to the ground.  The answer will come if you and I will pray and not faint; or if we fall, we keep getting back up as often as it takes.  There were days when I was so overwhelmed that I wished I’d died that night on the pavement, but God restored joy to my life and a stronger faith in His faithfulness!  God helped Dana and me to emerge from a catastrophic situation to become more resolute in our faith, more devoted to one another, and hopefully better people for having persevered during this detour on our journey.

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10/28/2014 – Standing in the approximate area where our bike went down four years earlier. A sobering feeling of gratitude washed over me as we looked around this spot where God spared our lives! Even now when I drive through that area, sometimes emotion wells up inside me as I ponder the goodness and mercy of God.

I’m telling you, friends, you need Jesus. You need Him, your marriage needs Him, your family needs Him to carry you through times like this.  It’s not a matter of if you’ll ever have to go through hard seasons, but when..and when you do, faith in God can preserve your very sanity.  Covenant relationship with God doesn’t mean you’ll never face difficulty. It can, however, mean the difference between you surviving or being mowed down by the enemy.  It will keep you when you go through depression, through loss, through grave uncertainty, through the outright unfair happenings of life in this fallen world; and on the other side of your storm, God will pull out a mysterious parcel and hand back to you.  You will find that you didn’t lose your joy and innocence after all; He’d wrapped it securely in the Holy Spirit’s comfort and kept it from being annihilated by the tribulation of life.

Sooner or later, we all have to face the most difficult time of our lives. Are you prepared? God can keep you from falling apart. I can say that because, six years later, Dana and I are still held together by the duct tape of God’s wonderful, saving grace. Even these fractured pieces form something beautiful…like a prism of glass that scatters light in every direction, testifying that truly, love never fails.

“But the LORD God keeps me from being disgraced. So I refuse to give up, because I know God will never let me down.”  Isaiah 50:7 CEV

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Obedience Above All

Years ago when I was just starting out in my young adulthood, I acquired a secondhand hot plate that had only one temperature:  wide open.  It was this Frankenstein monster of a thing—big, heavy, and depending on what you needed, handy—well, handy perhaps if you were planning on smelting iron ore.  You didn’t dare turn your back on it for a second if you actually desired to EAT what you were cooking.  It was a dumpster dive contraption that served a very temporary purpose, and I was so glad to retire it at the earliest possible opportunity…before I burned out the whole neighborhood and not just the scrambled eggs.

Sometimes we as believers are a lot like this old hot plate.  We mean well; but we have no thermostat, no discipline to read, listen, and obey.  And for that reason, God can only use us for very limited purposes.  If we’re stubborn enough long enough, we may find ourselves completely disqualified for the Master’s use…still saved, but not submitted; still rescued, but restricted.  We may be offended and affected by anything that has the ability to tip off our emotions; so although our zeal for the things of God may be genuine, it’s all over the place…instead of targeted where and to what extent God actually wants it.

The Church in the Wilderness had a lot of testing to endure; but it was as much a mercy as it was a proving ground.  There were mindsets to change in between liberation from poverty and the stewardship of promise. God had to prove He could trust them for destiny.  Oh, He fully knew their capabilities, but their very survival as a people—HIS PEOPLE—would depend upon how well they listened and obeyed.  He wasn’t setting them up for failure:  no, to be certain, the try-and-try-again course they were on was setting them up to succeed.  He loved them; He was qualifying them for where He would take them, but He also required their allegiance.  He was aware that some would simply refuse to be obedient—further validating what He already knew about the incompleteness of the Law.  We would need a Savior.  Even then, however, with a Savior, we would still have to choose to be followers and not just freelancers!

James gave us the perfect example of how serious rogue Christianity can be:  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. (James 1:22-24)  It’s very possible, if we just hit-and-miss with our time in the Word and prayer, to go away and forget who we are and why we’re here.  Our carnal impulses begin to render His commandments powerless in our lives because there’s no discipline to hold to the purity of obedience.  We become religious rather than submitted; self-righteous rather than humble and attentive to His every instruction.  James says we deceive ourselves at that point.  The knob is ripped off and we run wide open, so therefore God can’t trust us for a second.

God winked at (tolerated) our ignorance initially, but He’s calling us all to repentance now. Change must come.  We are in critical times where one misstep, one wrong “my way or the highway” attitude on our part can completely abort a mission, defer an entire movement.  His merciful, extended testing time offers us daily opportunities to grow, to strengthen, and to prove ourselves as fit wineskins to hold His anointing; or we can go around and around the same dumb issues in our lives, unchanged and burning everything entrusted to our care.  At some point, regardless, we must decide whether to follow Him wholeheartedly or be left in on the sidelines.  God won’t entrust His harvest to those who’ll let it be left in ruins while they bicker about who’s in charge, who gets credit.

While He’s pruning us for fruitfulness, you can be sure He’s going to test us by changing up our plans to see whether we’ll accept His will as the final call, or whether we’ll pout and get in strife.  I’ve seen it (and had it happen to me) time and again.  Work toward a particular end—maybe have a new song rehearsed and ready to use in the worship set—just to have the Holy Ghost show up and shut it all down for a different direction entirely.  When it happens, can we joyfully handle submission, or will we instead defy Him by trying to “get ours” while we’ve got the chance to do so?  How you and I respond in these these testing moments either adds to or depreciates our stock value!  Can God trust us?  Is He REALLY Lord of all?

In my prayer time last night, God gave me the perfect example of how critical our obedience really is.  Imagine a “SWAT team” trained for duty, who’ve rehearsed every scenario and know every drill.  But someone on that team is overzealous for a chance to use that newly-acquired skill.  Frustrated.  Impatient.  Chomping at the bit.  In a hostage situation where lives are at stake, that drive to break bad can override the Commander’s instructions; and the undisciplined desire to ACT can result in unintended casualties–maybe even among that rogue member’s own unit.

We are in the spiritual world war of the ages; and if there were ever a time to be with our faces to the ground seeking God’s instruction, it’s now.  Captives are in peril and He’s calling us to pull them from the very jaws of death.  Many are in vulnerable, volatile situations.  It’s just as important to recognize and obey the command, “stand down,” as it is the command to “open fire,” because our spotter has a better vantage point than we do.  If we go by merely our own driven-ness and instincts, we can even forget who the enemy really is.  We then stop engaging in heavenly warfare and just turn on anyone earthly who appears to oppose us and what we preach.

If we crucify our tendency to run wide open all the time (some things go out only by prayer and fasting), we can come out of this with more than just ourselves intact; we can rescue lives.  If we have the attitude of “Don’t tell me to pull back, Lord.  I came here to git-er-done and I’m not going to waste all this adrenaline on waiting and patience and doing it Your way,”  however, then we forfeit His ability to use us in those very ways we long to be used.

Remember, God will always choose the most obedient, least ego-driven to carry out His will and establish His kingdom. Believe it or not, obedience will prove to become the greatest skill in your arsenal of spiritual warfare.  Your qualification to open the valve all the way in those appropriate times will be determined by your willingness to hold a controlled, unambitious grip during the slow-and-steady maneuvers.  If you can contain all that power but handle it with delicate precision that hears only one Voice calling the shots, God will entrust you to complete great exploits in His name!  Remember, obedience above all.  Master it.

File Thirteen: The 490 Principle

IMG_4775“Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”  Matthew 18:21-22 (New Living Translation)

I’m going to share a personal insight on the above Scripture that may or may not get a round of applause from seasoned theologians; but for those of you who struggle in this area, it may be what you need to help set you free.

I went through an ordeal once where, for about 5 years, I was done terribly wrong by someone very close to me.  I was hung in an endless loop of hurt and self-permitted abuse, and one of the biggest tethers which had me bound was my own inability to let it go.

You see, often when we deal with a deep-seated or long-term hurt, it becomes as much our “friend” as it is our enemy.  Our hurt becomes our identity, something we nurse and justify and protect.  Without it, we no longer know who we are…why, what would we have to talk about with others if not for “it?”  Without it, on whom or what could we blame the weight gain, those pesky gray hairs, or that once-in-a-lifetime dream gone down the tubes?

During this season of my life, I was faced with a crossroads and not much time in which to choose.  On the one hand, I had a lifetime ahead of me to continue carrying that overloaded briefcase of offenses, stuffed haphazardly with the file folders of my memory.  I might be humpbacked from straining and dragging it behind me, but at least I’d never be alone as long as I had my hurt!  I’d never have to reinvent myself because at least I recognized and had learned to co-exist with the long, pitiful face staring back at me in the mirror!

On the other hand, there was a clean slate and a pure conscience; there was love and opportunity and peace of mind waiting through a narrow passage…only I couldn’t squeeze through that passage with my knapsack stuffed with past hurts.  What if I got to the other side and missed being able to thumb through the pages and pages of things gone wrong?  What would I have left if no one else were made to remember the martyr I’d been for having gone through all that hurt?  What glory was there in people suddenly forgetting my sacrifices and longsuffering?  What IF?!!!

Perhaps I’m being overly illustrative, but I truly was struggling and I wanted desperately to do the right thing.  Deep in my heart, I was tired of being sad, and tired of having an excuse for not rising above that series of incidents which kept me stuck in first gear.  It was at this point that in my prayer time, God began to not only edge me toward a new level of maturity, but He also began to reveal something simple yet profound enough to help me actually want to be free.  He’s a really merciful Father…He loves us too much to allow us to stay the way we are!

I had read the Scripture many times about forgiving 490 times in a day, and had a whole different idea of what it meant.  Although my offender at times came pretty close to meeting quota by my estimation (smile), I never actually had to release 490 separate sins committed against me in one day EVER.  But, this Scripture came to life and began to grow with greater revelation when I suddenly made the course-altering move to speak the words that very first time, “I choose to forgive.”

I had thought all my life that, once you forgive someone, you forgive…and the forget part comes automatically.  Well, eventually perhaps, but not always.  For situations like what I overcame, and what you’re getting ready to become free from, there comes “File 13.”

Beginning today, I want you to set a goal to get out from under that one hurt you’ve babied and protected.  Jesus had your situation in mind when He commanded to forgive not seven times, but seventy times seven–or–as often as it comes to your mind.  Our memory can be pretty active when it comes to instant replay, and unless we discipline ourselves to shut that button off, we can consume entire days with reliving hurts over and over.  What a waste of a perfectly good life!

Get serious about this thing, because not only is it toxic to your spirit and to your physical body, but if you want to receive forgiveness from the Lord, you’re going to have to learn how to dish it out.  Right now, say out loud with me, “I choose to forgive __________ (name).”  That person can be dead or alive…doesn’t matter…you’re doing this in obedience to God, and you’re doing it for YOU.  You need to let him or her off the hook more than your offender needs to be let off!

It will feel almost like a self-betrayal at first–and your carnal side is going to kick and scream for retribution and that proverbial pound of flesh–but stick to your guns!  Oops, you just now thought of it again…so say it again:  “I choose to forgive _________.”  Don’t be surprised that, since thoughts seem to travel at warp speed, you may have the occasion to forgive the memory of one act 490 times in a day.  Your mental trashcan will probably have wadded up papers flowing out on all sides.  Keep confessing forgiveness and tossing the offense into the garbage.

Know this:  if you have to re-do the act of forgiveness, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you didn’t truly forgive in the first place.  That doesn’t make you a failure any more than having to die to sin each new day makes you unsaved.  Don’t give up and say, “I just can’t forgive!”  You CAN—with work.  It’s as much a process as it is an action, and sometimes you have to speak with your mouth and then let your attitude follow your intention.  The power of life and death is in the tongue, and you’re in a battle for the quality of your life!  You may not even feel your heart 100% in what you’re saying, but keep saying it anyway.  Trust me when I tell you that for every time you say it with as much faith as you can muster, that hurt has less and less a hold on you.  Eventually the day will come when you really will forget to hurt!  You may not forget the incident, but you will forget to let it control your life. That’s freedom indeed.

I’ll never forget an object lesson Debra Catron taught on a Wednesday night at our church several years ago, when she recounted a difficult season in her own life.  She said, “There’s a little trunk of painful memories in the attic of my mind.  Now, I can open that trunk and go through the contents at any time, or I can leave it locked.  I simply choose not to go there anymore.”

©2011  Lisa Crum.

Please feel free to share, but if reprinting, please use acknowledgments!

Bedtime Bread

compressed_hands-tearing-bread-homemade-largeI remember well a story Pastor Adrian Rogers shared a couple of decades ago in a series on the Lord’s Prayer. Back during World War II, several war orphans were taken in who’d survived unthinkable atrocities; hunger and living in wreckage on the streets had become a way of life in their once-secure world. Their caregivers were grieved at how the nighttime was the worst for these children, many of whom would wake up screaming in the middle of the night or were unable to sleep at all.

Finally, an idea came to one of those adults. He went over to a shaking child in the bed and slipped a piece of bread into the child’s hand, who immediately stopped his fitfulness and drifted into a peaceful sleep. From that time on, all the children were allowed to go to bed with a simple piece of bread in their hands: an assurance that they could actually enjoy having a full belly that night without fear of waking the next day to starvation and uncertainty.

Most of us have never known what it’s like to have experienced so great a lack; and yet, spiritually we can go through life just as petrified with fear that tomorrow will bring problems which cannot be solved. If we are new to the faith, or just not in a deep relationship with God, we may not have learned to fully trust in His Fatherly love and provision.

Begin to go to bed at night having spent time in the Word, and let thoughts of His faithfulness be the last thing on your mind as you close your eyes. Whatever issues you’re dealing with, if you’ll begin to compile and recite Scriptures which reiterate the Lord’s promises never to leave or forsake you, you can be as David who wrote, “When I go to bed, I sleep in peace, because, Lord, you keep me safe.” (Psalm 4:8) Having spent time with Him and feasting on His nourishing supply, you can have assurance that He will not leave you orphaned from His presence. From my childhood on, I’ve found great comfort in sleeping with a Bible under my pillow; and just like those war-traumatized children, I need only to slip my hand under the pillowcase and feel my daily bread waiting on me for when I wake up hungry again.

We are never to lose our hunger for God; but His will is that we be totally delivered from the FEAR of Him not being there to fill that hunger! You can trust Him to always take care of you…

Healing Confessions that Shatter the Spirit of Fear

shatteredNote:  Scriptures taken from The Voice translation of the Holy Bible.   The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society  All rights reserved.

 

1 Tim 1:7 You see, God did not give us a cowardly spirit, but a powerful, loving, and disciplined spirit.  FATHER, THIS PANIC ATTACK I’M FIGHTING IS STRAIGHT FROM THE DEVIL.  YOU DID NOT INSTILL THIS WRETCHED FEELING IN ME.  YOU HAVE INSTEAD MADE ME BRAVE, CALM, EMPOWERED, FULL OF LOVE FOR YOU AND OTHERS, AND I AM ALSO DISCIPLINED “LIKE A WEANED CHILD.” I REJECT IN JESUS’ NAME ANY TYPE OF EMOTION THAT WOULD CAUSE ME TO DOUBT WHO I AM IN YOU, AND WHO YOU ARE.  YOU ARE DWELLING INSIDE OF ME AND THERE’S NOT ROOM FOR BOTH YOU AND FEAR!

2 Corinthians 10:5 We are demolishing arguments and ideas, every high-and-mighty philosophy that pits itself against the knowledge of the one true God. We are taking prisoners of every thought, every emotion, and subduing them into obedience to the Anointed One.  FATHER, IN JESUS’ NAME, WITH MY VOICE I SPEAK OUT AND REJECT THE SPIRIT OF FEAR FROM OFF MY LIFE.  FEAR CHALLENGES YOUR SOVEREIGNTY, AND I WON’T HAVE THAT.  I CORRAL INTO THE HOLDING CELL OF DISCIPLINE ALL THESE THOUGHTS AND WILD IMAGININGS THAT ARE LOOSE AND WREAKING HAVOC.  I IMPRISON ANY SUCH NOTION THAT YOU’RE NOT LOOKING OUT FOR ME.  I REST UNDER THE SHADOW OF YOUR WINGS NOW, AND I THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME TO SHAKE LOOSE FROM THE TEMPORARY STATE OF WORRY I FOUND MYSELF IN.  YOU MADE ME AWARE THAT I NEEDED TO PLEAD THE BLOOD OF JESUS…I’M PLEADING IT NOW OVER MY MIND, MY THOUGHTS, MY ACTIONS, AND ESPECIALLY MY WORDS.  I WILL NOT CONTRADICT YOUR PROMISES WITH WORDS OF FEAR AND UNBELIEF.

1 John 4:18 Love will never invoke fear. Perfect love expels fear, particularly the fear of punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been completed through love. THANK YOU, LORD, THAT MY LOVE FOR YOU IS GROWING AND GRAVITATING TOWARD PERFECTION.  IT MELTS AWAY THE FEAR THAT SAYS I CANNOT TRUST YOU TO STAY WITH ME AND NEVER LEAVE.  YOU ARE WORKING ALL THINGS TO MY EVENTUAL GOOD.

Genesis 18:15 Sarah was embarrassed and tried to deny laughing. She feared these were no ordinary guests. Sarah: I wasn’t laughing. Eternal One: That is not true, Sarah. You did laugh.  THANK YOU, LORD, FOR PATIENTLY ENDURING WHEN I SOMETIMES ACT AS THOUGH YOUR PROMISES ARE TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.  I ALREADY KNOW YOU CAN DO ANYTHING; THANKS FOR TEACHING ME HOWEVER, THAT YOU LOVE ME ENOUGH TO DO THE MIRACULOUS NOT JUST FOR OTHERS, BUT ALSO FOR ME…YES, EVEN FOR ME!

Genesis 20:11 Abraham: I did it for my own protection. I did it because I thought this was not a God-fearing place, and I was afraid you would surely kill me to possess my wife.  THANK YOU, FATHER, THAT I DON’T HAVE TO LET FEAR DRIVE ME TO MAKE DISHONEST OR FOOLISH CHOICES.  YOU ARE ORDERING MY STEPS TOWARD A GOOD FINISH.  I WILL OPERATE IN INTEGRITY AND TRUST YOU TO GUARD MY BEST INTERESTS.

Genesis 28:17 But even as he said this, a bit of fear came over him. Jacob: This place is absolutely awesome! It can be none other than the house of God and the gateway into heaven!  I AM GRATEFUL TO YOU, GOD, FOR THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REVERENTIAL FEAR AND CARNAL FEAR. THE AWE I FEEL WHEN I CONSIDER YOUR UTTER MIGHT AND POWER IS NOT ONLY OVERWHELMING ME, BUT IT ALSO CAUSES THE OTHER, UNHEALTHY FEAR TO DISINTEGRATE IN YOUR PRESENCE.  THANK YOU FOR BEING APPROACHABLE EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE!

Exodus 1:17 But the midwives respected God more than they feared Pharaoh, so they did not carry out the Egyptian king’s command. Instead, they let all the boys live. THANK YOU, LORD, THAT THE KNOWLEDGE OF WHO YOU ARE OVERRIDES MY FEAR OF MAN’S JUDGMENTS.  I WILL PERSEVERE TO DO THE RIGHT THING EVEN IN THE FACE OF A SINFUL WORLD THAT OFTEN DISREGARDS YOUR HOLY COMMANDMENTS.

Exodus 2:2 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that her son was healthy and beautiful, she feared for his safety; so she kept him hidden from view for three whole months.  THANK YOU FATHER, THAT I DON’T HAVE TO FEAR FOR MY CHILDREN’S SAFETY.  I STAND WITH ASSURANCE THAT YOU ARE WORKING OUT THEIR FUTURE AND THAT YOU’VE ORDAINED GREAT PURPOSE FOR THEIR LIVES–AND THAT YOU’LL EQUIP ME TO TEACH THEM WELL.  I DRAW THE BLOODLINE AROUND MY CHILDREN AND MY HOME, AND I DECLARE YOUR DIVINE PROTECTION OVER MY FAMILY.  I WILL NOT BE FEARFUL OF LOSING THEM TO THE ENEMY, BECAUSE I USE THE AUTHORITY YOU’VE GIVEN ME IN OUR HOUSEHOLD TO ESTABLISH RIGHT BOUNDARIES AND TO CLOSE ALL OPEN DOORS TO DEMONIC ATTACK.

Exodus 2:14 Offender: Who made you our prince and judge? Are you going to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday? Fear immediately gripped Moses.  THANK YOU, LORD, FOR BECAUSE YOU ARE HELPING ME, I CHOOSE TO REMAIN LED BY FAITH AND NOT BY MY FLESHLY IMPULSES.   I DON’T HAVE TO COVER MY TRACKS OR FEAR MY MISTAKES WILL BE DISCOVERED AND  EXPLOITED BY OTHERS.  EVEN IF I DO MAKE A RIDICULOUSLY FOOLISH CHOICE, I CAN TRUST YOU TO NAVIGATE ME BACK TOWARD YOUR PLAN FOR MY LIFE…SO THEREFORE, I REJECT LIVING IN FEAR AND ALWAYS LOOKING BEHIND ME TO SEE IF MY PAST IS CATCHING UP WITH ME.

Exodus 3:12 Eternal One: Do not fear, Moses. I will be with you every step of the way, and this will be the sign to you that I am the One who has sent you: after you have led them out of Egypt, you will return to this mountain and worship God.  FATHER, THANK YOU FOR NEVER PUTTING ME OUT THERE FARTHER THAN YOUR WILLINGNESS TO GUIDE ME AND PROTECT MY ACTIONS.  WHEN YOU REQUIRE GREAT THINGS OF ME, YOU ALWAYS ARE THERE TO HELP ME MAKE RIGHT DECISIONS AND CARRY THEM OUT.

Exodus 4:4 Eternal One: Reach out and grab it by the tail. Despite his natural fears, Moses reached out and grabbed the snake; and as he held it, it changed back into a shepherd’s staff.  THANK YOU LORD, FOR HELPING ME TO BE OBEDIENT EVEN WHEN I AM VERY AFRAID.  YOU ARE GIVING ME THE POWER TO TAKE AUTHORITY OVER THE DANGEROUS SERPENTS I ENCOUNTER–BOTH THE SPIRITUAL AND THE TWO-LEGGED VARIETY!  MY FAITH IN YOU IS BIGGER THAN MY FEAR OF WHATEVER I AM FACING.

Exodus 14:13-14 Moses to the people: Don’t be afraid! Stand your ground and witness how the Eternal will rescue you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians, for after today you will never see them again. The Eternal will fight on your behalf while you watch in silence. THANK YOU, FATHER, FOR EVEN WHEN IT APPEARS THAT THE ENEMY HAS ME HEMMED UP, YOU ARE PLANNING A DARING ESCAPE FOR ME.  I CAN TRUST THAT YOUR TIMING IS PERFECT, EVEN WHEN IT APPEARS TO BE CUTTING DANGEROUSLY CLOSE.  WHEN YOU DO MAKE THAT MEANS OF ESCAPE FROM THE ENEMY, YOU ARE BRINGING DOWN A WALL OF DESTRUCTION BEHIND ME TO ASSURE THAT I AM NO LONGER IN HARM’S WAY.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and brave, and don’t tremble in fear of them, because the Eternal your God is going with you. He’ll never fail you or abandon you!  THANKS, PAPA GOD, FOR NEVER ABANDONING ME!  I WON’T LET THE ENEMY SEE ME COWERING IN DREAD, BECAUSE YOU’RE THERE FIGHTING ON MY BEHALF.  I AM STRONG IN THE LORD AND IN THE POWER OF YOUR MIGHT!

Ruth 3:11 You may rest easy. You have nothing to fear, my child. I will do everything you ask. Everyone in this city agrees you are a woman of virtuous character.  FATHER, THANK YOU THAT I CAN REST EASY, FULLY ASSURED THAT YOUR FAVOR GOES BEFORE ME IN MATTERS WHERE I NEED AN ADVOCATE.  YOU ARE PROTECTING MY BEST INTERESTS AND ALSO MY REPUTATION.  EVEN IN MY SITUATION, I’M SO VERY CLOSE TO MY BREAKTHROUGH…AND UNTIL IT MANIFESTS,  I’M COVERED AT YOUR FEET!

2 Kings 6:16-17 Elisha: Have no fear. We have more on our side than they do. praying O Eternal One, I ask You to allow my servant to see heavenly realities.The Eternal awakened Elisha’s servant so that he could see. This is what he saw: the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha.  THANK YOU, O GOD, FOR OPENING MY EYES TO SEE JUST HOW HUGE AN ANGEL ARMY YOU’VE DISPATCHED TO RESCUE ME FROM DESTRUCTION.  THANK YOU THAT THE ENEMY TREMBLES AND IS SET TO UTTER CONFUSION AS THE REALITY OF SUCH PROTECTION OVER ME SINKS IN!  YOU WILL NOT ALLOW ME TO BECOME AMBUSHED OR CAUGHT DEFENSELESS.  THANK YOU FOR OPEN EYES TO SEE THAT YOU’RE LAUNCHING A FULL-SCALE INITIATIVE TO GET ME OUT OF THE TRAP.

1 Chronicles 28:20 to Solomon: Be strong, courageous, and effective. Do not fear or be dismayed. I know that the Eternal God, who is my God, is with you. He will not abandon you or forsake you until you have finished all the work for the temple of the Eternal.  THANK YOU, LORD, THAT BECAUSE YOU’RE WITH ME AND FOR ME, I CAN BE STRONG, COURAGEOUS, AND EFFECTIVE.  WHAT YOU’VE CALLED ME TO DO IN YOUR NAME, YOU ARE FULLY EQUIPPING ME TO CARRY OUT AND ACCOMPLISH.  I WILL TOSS OUT MY EXCUSES AND MY SENSE OF INFERIORITY…YOU ARE FITTING ME INTO THE PICTURE AND ALSO SETTING ME UP FOR SUCCESS, EVEN IN DOING A NEW THING.  THANK YOU FOR AN UNDERSTANDING HEART THAT MAKES RIGHT DECISIONS UNDER THE CANOPY OF TRUST IN YOU!

2 Chronicles 20:17 Stand and watch, but do not fight the battle. There, you will watch the Eternal save you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or worry. Tomorrow, face the army and trust that the Eternal is with you.  FATHER, ALTHOUGH I AM IN A TIME OF WAR IN THE SPIRIT REALM, I DON’T HAVE TO SUMMONS COURAGE SND STRENGTH TO FIGHT.  I AM HERE AS AN OBSERVER TO PRAY AND WATCH AS YOU SHOW YOURSELF MIGHTY TO SAVE.  I RELEASE ALL FEAR AND WORRY, AND I SEAT MYSELF AT RINGSIDE TO WITNESS A FIGHT OF EPIC PROPORTIONS AS YOU ANNIHILATE THE ENEMY OF MY SOUL AND BODY!

Nehemiah 6:9 We knew our enemies’ intent was to intimidate us into stopping our work. They reasoned, “These Jews will stop rebuilding out of fear and discouragement. Progress will grind to a halt.” Instead I renewed my dedication, strengthened my hands.  THANK YOU, LORD, FOR SQUASHING THE SPIRIT OF INTIMIDATION. I RENEW MY DEDICATION, I STRENGTHEN MY HANDS, AND I WILL NOT BE DETERRED FROM THE MISSION TO WHICH YOU’VE ASSIGNED ME!   FEAR AND DISCOURAGEMENT WILL NOT, IN JESUS’ NAME, MAKE ME UNFRUITFUL; AND NEITHER CAN ACCUMULATING CIRCUMSTANCES.   IF “WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS” IS THE BUSINESS OF THE DAY,  YOU ARE SWAPPING MY LITTLE POCKET UMBRELLA FOR YOUR BIG STADIUM UMBRELLA AND A NEW SET OF RAIN GEAR!  I WILL NOT BE SOAKED TO THE SKIN BY THE ENEMIES LIES OR HIS CLOUDBURST  OF ATTACK, AND I AM FREE TO WORK THROUGH WHAT YOU HAVE ASSIGNED ME TO DO.

Job 3:25 What I feared most descends on me; my nightmare—now reality.  THANK YOU FATHER, FOR DELIVERING ME FROM CRIPPLING FEARS WHICH TORMENT MY MIND AND LEAK OUT MY MOUTH.  I WILL NOT OPEN MYSELF UP TO DEVIL’S SNARE BY VOCALIZING WHAT CAUSES ME TO BE AFRAID OR WORRIED.  I REPENT OF IDLE, UNFRUITFUL WORDS WHICH MAY HAVE GIVEN EVIL SPIRITS A CLUE AS TO AREAS IN WHICH I’M VULNERABLE, AND I COME BOLDLY TO THE THRONE OF GRACE TO OBTAIN HELP IN THIS MY TIME OF NEED.  YOU WILL HELP ME TO SPEAK FAITH WORDS EVEN WHEN MY MIND SCREAMS, “IT’S NO USE!  JUST GIVE UP BECAUSE YOU’RE WHIPPED!”  IT IS NOT TOO LATE FOR ME.  YOU HAVEN’T FORSAKEN ME.  I CAN MAKE IT ONE MORE DAY IN JESUS’ NAME.

Psalm 3:5-6 I lie down at night and fall asleep.I awake in the morning—healthy, strong, vibrant—because the Eternal supports me. No longer will I fear my tens of thousands of enemies who have surrounded me!   IN THE NAME OF JESUS, I AM GOING TO SLEEP LIKE A BABY TONIGHT AND AWAKE REFRESHED, KNOWING I’M PROTECTED BY ANGEL ARMIES.  MY FATHER HAS ALREADY SET ME UP FOR A WIN OVER THE ENEMY.  DOESN’T MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES APPEAR TO BE…GOD IS GOING TO SHOW HIMSELF MIGHTY ON MY BEHALF!

Psalm 16:8 He is ever present with me; at all times He goes before me. I will not live in fear or abandon my calling because He stands at my right hand.  HOW ABOUT THAT…YEAH GOD!  THE ENEMY WILL NOT SCARE ME INTO COMPROMISE OR BACK ME INTO A CORNER, BECAUSE YOU’RE ASSURING THAT I CAN DO ALL THINGS YOU’VE ORDAINED ME TO DO, THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME.  YOU ARE SETTING ME UP FOR A WIN.

Psalm 23:4 Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness, I am not overcome by fear. Because You are with me in those dark moments, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted. NOT EVEN THE FEAR OF DEATH CAN INTIMIDATE ME!  LORD, THANK YOU THAT I KNOW YOU’RE HOVERING OVER ME AND SHIELDING ME FROM DESTRUCTION. DEATH HAS NO POWER OVER ME BECAUSE JESUS PULLED ITS TEETH!  I REJECT THE ACCUSER’S SUGGESTIONS OF ALL THE ILLNESSES THAT ARE ATTACKING ME.  WHEN SICKNESS THREATENS, I CHOOSE TO GET INTO YOUR WORD AND SHUT OFF THE INTERNET SEARCHES OF SYMPTOMS AND DISEASES.  IF THE DOCTOR GIVES ME A NEGATIVE REPORT, I HAND IT TO YOU AND SAY, “I CHOOSE TO TRUST THE GREAT PHYSICIAN–JESUS!”

Psalm 46:2-3 No fear, no pacing, no biting fingernails. When the earth spins out of control, we are sure and fearless. When mountains crumble and the waters run wild, we are sure and fearless. Even in heavy winds and huge waves, or as mountains shake, we are sure and fearless.  FATHER, NO WEATHER PHENOMENON AND NO WAVE OF WICKEDNESS IN THIS WORLD CAN DRIVE ME INTO THE GROUND.  NO MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS, NO FINANCIAL CRISIS, AND NO FAMILY DRAMA CAN ROB ME OF YOUR PEACE.  I AM SURE AND FEARLESS, I AM SURE AND FEARLESS, I AM SURE AND FEARLESS…AND I DON’T CARE ONE  BIT TO KEEP REPEATING THAT TILL IT DRIVES THE ENEMY CRAZY!

Psalm 56:3 When struck by fear, I let go, depending securely upon You alone.  FATHER, HOW AWESOME IT IS TO KNOW WHAT WHEN YOU’RE ALL I HAVE, I HAVE ALL I NEED!  YOU ARE EVERYTHING TO ME AND BECAUSE I HAVE YOU, I DON’T HAVE TO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS IN THIS MOMENT.  YOU KNOW THE END FROM THE BEGINNING, AND YOU ARE ORDERING MY STEPS.  THAT’S ALL I NEED TO KNOW–THAT YOU LOVE ME AND THAT YOU ARE FOR ME.

Psalm 56:11 In God I have placed my trust. I shall not let fear come in,for what can measly men do to me?  FATHER,  IF YOU’RE FOR ME,  WHO CAN BE AGAINST ME?  I TRUST YOU TO HANDLE THOSE WHO OPPOSE ME.  YOU WILL NOT LET THE ENEMY HAVE THE UPPER HAND!  IF I’M ACCUSED FALSELY, THOSE WHO RISE UP AGAINST ME WILL BE SHOWN TO BE IN THE WRONG.  YOU ARE MY DEFENDER, AND THE ONE WHO ASSERTS JUSTICE ON MY BEHALF.  THANK YOU THAT I HAVE THE BEST LAWYER THAT FAITH CAN SECURE–MY ELDER BROTHER–AND THAT HE TAKES A PERSONAL INTEREST IN MY CASE!

Proverbs 3:24-26 Your mind will be clear, free from fear; when you lie down to rest, you will be refreshed by sweet sleep. Stay calm; there is no need to be afraid of a sudden disaster or to worry when calamity strikes the wicked, For the Eternal is always there to protect you. He will safeguard your each and every step.  THANKS, FATHER, FOR SAFEGUARDING MY STEPS AND ORDERING THE COURSE OF MY LIFE.  YOU ARE PROTECTING ME IN EVERY WAY–MY SPIRITUAL, PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, FINANCIAL, RELATIONAL WELL-BEING ARE LOCKED IN THE VAULT OF YOUR WORD, WHICH YOU WATCH OVER TO PERFORM!  FOR THIS REASON, I’M NOT GOING TO LIE IN BED TORMENTED IN MY THOUGHTS.  IN JESUS’ NAME, I’LL JOIN HIM IN A SOUND SLEEP IN THE HOLD OF THE SHIP.  OTHERS MAY BE PULLING THEIR HAIR OUT IN FEAR, BUT I WON’T BE PARTICIPATING IN THEIR DRAMA!

Proverbs 29:25 If you fear other people, you are walking into a dangerous trap; but if you trust in the Eternal, you will be safe.  THANK YOU, FATHER, FOR DELIVERING ME FOREVER FROM THE FEAR AND THE ADDICTION OF APPROVAL BY MAN.  I AM SET UP FOR SAFETY AND SECURITY BECAUSE I ALLOW NO ONE TO SQUEEZE ME INTO HIS MOLD.  I AM TRANSFORMED EVERY DAY, ALL OVER AGAIN, BECAUSE I RENEW MY MIND TO WHAT YOUR WORD HAS SPOKEN.

Proverbs 31:25 Clothed in strength and dignity, with nothing to fear,she smiles when she thinks about the future.  THANK YOU FATHER, THAT JUST LIKE THE PROVERBS 31 WOMAN, I MODEL STRENGTH AND DIGNITY AND THEY FIT ME LIKE A BEAUTIFUL, TAILORED GARMENT.  IF THE DEVIL WANTS TO MAKE ME ERUPT INTO LAUGHTER, LET HIM THREATEN TO MAKE MY FUTURE DARK AND BLEAK!  I’M NOT AFRAID OF GETTING OLD AND HELPLESS BECAUSE YOU’RE KEEPING ME STRONG.

Isaiah 35:4 Tell those who worry, the anxious and fearful,“Take strength; have courage! There’s nothing to fear. Look, here—your God! Right here is your God! The balance is shifting; God will right all wrongs. None other than God will give you success. He is coming to make you safe.”  THANK YOU FATHER, NOT ONLY FOR REASSURING ME OF MY OWN SAFETY AND FAVOR, BUT FOR ALSO GIVING ME A BOLDNESS TO DELIVER THAT SAME MESSAGE TO OTHERS.  YOU REALLY ARE RIGHTING ALL WRONGS AND TURNING AROUND SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE SITUATIONS, AND I’M GOING TO TELL OTHERS JUST HOW POWERFULLY YOU ARE WORKING.

Isaiah 54:4-5 Don’t be afraid, for there is no one to shame you. Don’t fear humiliation, for there is no one to disgrace you. The shame of your younger years and the sorrow of your widowhood are over. You’ll forget those days as if they never happened. Because the One who made you will be your husband; the One called Commander of heavenly armies will set you right again, the Holy One of Israel. It’s not for nothing that He is called “God of all the earth.”  THANK YOU, JESUS, FOR BREAKING THE CHAINS OF MY PAST FROM OFF MY LIFE ONCE AND FOR ALL.  ALTHOUGH I’LL NEVER BE PROUD OF WRONG DECISIONS I MADE, NEITHER WILL I LET THEM CRIPPLE ME OR DWARF MY TESTIMONY.  YOU ARE SETTING ME UP AS THE COMEBACK KID–AN ENCOURAGING, LIBERATING STORY THAT WILL HAVE OTHERS RUNNING TO YOU FOR DELIVERANCE, TOO.  NO ONE CAN USE MY PAST TO HOLD ME DOWN OR LIMIT WHAT I CAN DO, BECAUSE MY FREEDOM AND STRENGTH ARE IN YOU.  YOU ARE MY COVERING, YOU ARE THE ONE ENDORSING ME TO MOVE ON WITH MY LIFE–FORGIVEN, FREE, AND FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.  SHAME, YOU ARE NO LONGER MY LAST NAME BECAUSE I HAVE MARRIED THE ONE WHO BREAKS YOUR SOUL TIE TO ME!

Jeremiah 17:8 He is like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots beside the stream.  It does not fear the heat or even drought. Its leaves stay green and its fruit is dependable, no matter what it faces.  THANK YOU FATHER, FOR BREAKING THE FEAR OF LACK FROM OFF MY LIFE.  EVEN IN TIMES OF DROUGHT, MY ROOTS ARE SUNK DEEP TO WHERE YOU ARE KEEPING ME ALIVE, WELL, AND DEFYING ALL ODDS TO BEAR FRUIT.

Jeremiah 51:46 Do not lose heart or give in to fear and panic when the rumors start to fly in the land.Year after year, the rumors will come—rumors of violence reports of one ruler warring against another.  THANK YOU, LORD,  FOR WIPING OUT THE FEAR OF CURRENT EVENTS FROM MY MIND.  I’M NOT GLUED TO THE TUBE, DRAWN INTO THE NONSTOP NEWS NETWORKS WITH THEIR NEGATIVITY; INSTEAD, I LOOK UP AND REJOICE, BECAUSE THE SIGNS INDICATE I’LL SEE YOU VERY SOON!  I SUBMIT MYSELF TO THE PROTECTION, AUTHORITY, AND BOUNDARIES OF MY FATHER, I RESIST THE DEVIL AND ALL THIS ALLURING TEMPTATIONS TO BE GRIPPED WITH FEAR, AND IN JESUS’ NAME, I COMMAND HIM TO FLEE FROM ME.

Matthew 17:7-8 But Jesus—who was, by this time, used to His disciples being plagued by fear—touched them. Jesus: Get up. Don’t be afraid. And when the disciples got up, they saw they were alone with their Lord. THANK YOU, JESUS, THAT BECAUSE YOU CAME TO EARTH TO IDENTIFY WITH COMMON MANKIND, YOU’RE PATIENT WITH MY HAVING TO BE RESCUED FROM TIME TO TIME OUT OF THE GRIP OF FEAR.  WHEN YOU SEE ME ABOUT TO REVERT BACK INTO THE MODE OF FEAR AND DISTRUST, I THANK YOU FOR TOUCHING ME AND REMINDING ME ALL OVER AGAIN THAT IT’S OK…IT’S JUST YOU AND ME.

Luke 8:47 The woman now realized her secret was going to come out sooner or later, so she stepped out of the crowd, shaking with fear, and she fell down in front of Jesus. Then she told her story in front of everyone—why she touched Him, what happened as a result.  THANK YOU, JESUS, FOR MAKING ME BOLD AND NOT FEARFUL CONCERNING MY TESTIMONY OF DELIVERANCE.  I CAN SHARE MY STORY WITH OTHERS, TOTALLY NOT BOUND BY THEIR OPINIONS OR JUDGMENTS.  BECAUSE YOU’RE PERFECTING THAT WHICH CONCERNS ME, I NEED NO ONE’S APPROVAL BUT YOURS…AND YET, WHEN PEOPLE FIND OUT HOW YOU’VE SAVED, HEALED, AND SET ME  FREE, MY STORY PROVES TO HAVE A HAPPY ENDING THAT BRINGS YOU GLORY AND BRINGS OTHERS HOPE.

Luke 12:7-8 Since you are so much more precious to God than a thousand flocks of sparrows, and since God knows you in every detail—down to the number of hairs on your head at this moment—you can be secure and unafraid of any person, and you have nothing to fear from God either. That’s why I keep telling you not to be intimidated.  THANK YOU FATHER, FOR BREAKING THE SPIRIT OF COWARDICE AND INTIMIDATION OFF MY LIFE, AS WELL AS THE FEAR OF LACK.  YOU ARE EL SHADDAI, MORE THAN ENOUGH.  I REVERENCE YOU, BUT I DON’T DREAD YOU!  TODAY IS YET ANOTHER CHANCE TO WITNESS YOU AT WORK ON ME AND IN ME, TWEAKING THIS WORK IN PROGRESS AND CONFORMING ME TO THE IMAGE OF YOUR SON.

John 14:27 My peace is the legacy I leave to you. I don’t give gifts like those of this world. Do not let your heart be troubled or fearful.  JESUS, THANK YOU FOR LEAVING ME THE LEGACY OF PEACE.  IT WILL NOT DIE WITH ME, BUT I WILL NURTURE IT AND PASS IT ON TO THOSE WHO FOLLOW ME.  IT IS MY BIRTHRIGHT AS A CHILD OF GOD, AND I RECEIVE IT WITH GREAT JOY, RELIEF, GRATITUDE AND PRAISE.  THE BLOOD OF JESUS IS THE BOUNDARY AROUND MY LIFE THAT REINS IN PEACE.  MY ABILITY TO RETAIN MY PEACE AMID CHAOS IS YET ANOTHER WITNESS TO A LOST WORLD THAT YOU ARE CHANGING ME…AND THAT YOUR HOPE CAN CHANGE THEM, TOO.  TAKE THIS SITUATION I AM FACING IT AND MAKE ME SHINE FOR YOU, AS I DISPLAY GREAT TRUST IN SPITE OF WHAT SCARES ME.

Romans 8:15 You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God’s own family. That’s why we call out to Him, “Abba! Father!” as we would address a loving daddy.  THANK YOU, FATHER, FOR THIS FATHER-AND-CHERISHED CHILD RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU.  I’LL NEVER GO BACK INTO SLAVERY, BECAUSE I’M NOW ONE OF YOUR FAMILY.  YOU DON’T SHOO ME OUT OF YOUR PRESENCE, BUT INSTEAD, YOU ARE TENDER AND LOVING AND INVITE ME TO CALL YOU MY DADDY.  YOU INVITE ME TO BE HELD AND SPOKEN RIGHT WORDS OVER.  SO SINCE YOU ARE GLAD TO RECEIVE ME THE SAME AS IF I WERE NATURAL-BORN, I CHOOSE TO STICK CLOSE TO YOU AND NOT LET YOU OUT OF MY SIGHT.  I’M SAFE RIGHT HERE WITH YOU, AND NO THREAT OF SICKNESS, DEATH, LOSS, DEFEAT–NOT EVEN THE TAUNTS OF THE ENEMY WHO’D PULL ME BACK INTO SLAVERY IF HE COULD–CAN EVER PLUCK ME OUT OF YOUR HAND!  SO THERE.  I AM FIRMLY IN YOUR GRIP AND I WILL FEAR NO EVIL!

 

Would you like a printable copy of today’s devotional?  Click here for a pdf version! Healing Confessions that Shatter the Spirit of Fear

Resisting the Spirit of Despair — A Prayer of Deliverance

push back“We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed…” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NET)

My prayer today is for those whose trials of life seem like more than you can endure. I understand fully what it is like to be stressed easily. I’m a quiet-natured person who tends to hold in my feelings to the boiling point. On the outside I am cool as a cucumber but inwardly, my cares and worries and stress can be chewing holes in my soul. Then, at the least convenient time possible, I’ve been known to show my vulnerability. Our mouths eventually betray us if we are focused on the negative or if our mentality is one of despair!

Our only defense is God’s Word, and our only righteous boldness is through the Holy Spirit. But that isn’t bad…that’s good in a FOOLPROOF way! When our defense is coming from God and not our own at-times weak abilities, we don’t have to wonder whether we are going to survive. God, our strength and the One Who goes before us in battle, will meet the enemy first and He will wave the victory banner right in Satan’s face. Take a deep breath, and pray with me. We are about to enter into a state of rest–spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally too.

Father, we come to You today asking You to throw up a shield that guards our speech from the ears of the enemy. We are hearing the taunts and suggestions and mockings of the devil, who would try to drown out Your voice…but Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and another they will not follow.” He didn’t say we would never hear other voices, but He did say that we would recognize and follow HIS. We magnify You today and tune our ears to listen for Your guidance.  We are determined that our speech will not betray us and give the enemy a foothold.  May only You hear our distress call and not the devourer…we know You stand ready to rescue Your children!

Help us to become glass-half-full people instead of glass-half-empty! Help us to crave Your Word and to dig in to its strength when we are hit headlong with bad circumstances. We realize that it takes no effort whatsoever to become obsessed with bitter, jaded, selfish, negative thoughts…but we are followers of Christ. Therefore, we have the MIND of Christ, and for that reason, we have a choice. We plead the blood of Jesus over our mind, will, and emotions.

When the devil shows us the bad, help us instead to focus on ways in which we are blessed. When he tells us that our circumstances are permanent and that we are trapped with no way to ever be happy again, remind us that to everything there is a season. We can even come to understand, as Paul, that what we are wrestling now are “light and momentary afflictions” in light of eternity. When we are physically feeling too weary and whipped to put up a fight, send Your ministering spirits to aid and strengthen us. We can trust You. Help us not to be angry and resentful for the season we find ourselves in at this time…and if anger and resentment must be felt, may we turn those emotions into prayer bombs launched against darkness. The origin of trouble is in the spirit realm; help us to stop warring against people, when these battles must be fought on a different battleground.

Father, help us to gird up our minds and to stop courting those things which invite depression and despair. Give us a distaste for movies, music, even news channels or foods that tamper with our state of well-being. Make us aware of what pushes our anxiety buttons, and give us the good sense to walk away from drama every time it tries to let itself into our lives. Curb our appetite for over-stimulation, and teach us to live in simplicity once again. May we value quiet time with You. May we learn to politely say NO to the world’s endless list of favors. Help us to learn from Solomon’s experience when he summed all that chasing after worthless things up to just that–worthless, meaningless pursuits. Help us to stick with fearing You and keeping Your commandments. Help us to stick to loving You first, wholeheartedly, then loving others as ourselves. There is no sorrow attached to the blessings You give us. Your blessings make us rich in ways money can and cannot buy.

Today we cast our burdens upon You, because You care for us. Remind us of that. When we are tempted to dig our burdens back out of the heap and take them home, rebuke us! Thank you for fresh mercy for today, for grace to cover our shame, and for Your Word which is the winning argument to every accusation of our enemy. Thank You for Your joy…the joy of our salvation, the joy which is our strength. Thank You for Your joy even on days we don’t particularly feel happy and satisfied! Thank You for a spirit of laughter to overtake us and wash away the heaviness in our hearts. Medicate us with laughter and lightheartedness as we stretch toward Your light and away from the darkness of our circumstances. Prepare that table for us in the presence of our enemies…so that the enemy is scratching his head saying, “Right in the middle of my worst attack, they’re having a joyous feast???”

We submit to You and in doing so, we make our lives a very inhospitable place for the enemy to camp out. Instead of running toward us, he runs away. The heat of having to hear us quote the Word is more than the spirits of wickedness want to expose themselves to. It reminds them of their own despair in the very near future!

Father, we lift our hands to heaven and receive Your strength. We are that tree in Psalm 1, deeply rooted by the river of water, bearing fruit, covered in leaves, strong, healthy, thriving, fixed, and stable. We do not stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful! We toss out sarcasm and carnality and instead we delight in You and what Your Word says. Our circumstances will NOT dictate our level of thankfulness and peace. When the circumstances are resistant or slow to change, You will work on our hearts instead…so that we can say that we are content no matter what state we’re in.  When we can say that, nothing can move us out of our center of peace! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Worth Its “Wait” in Gold

pot pieDear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.  (James 1:2-4 TLB)

One of my favorite treats as a kid was a pot pie.  Mom didn’t buy them very often, but I thought they were among the most wonderful things in the world.  These weren’t the microwave, done-in-60- seconds hockey pucks in today’s grocery freezer section…and, back then they still came standard with a bottom crust, too.  Lots of things were of higher quality before companies decided that they could make more money by giving you less.  The wait was sweet agony.

Now that I’m well into my adult years, I make my own everything; so I can’t tell you how the 21st Century pot pie is prepared.  Back then, you took a rock solid frozen single-serving pie, punched a few vent holes in the top, put it on a pizza tin, and popped into the oven for probably 45 minutes or so.  In my case the 45 minutes probably stretched out to nearer an hour, because I would keep opening the oven door to see how far along the baking had progressed.

Pot pies had a double-indemnity wait clause.  First, you had to wait for them to bake all the way through; and then you had to wait again, that much longer, for them to cool off just to be able to eat them.  Those of us who had patience for neither would wind up with soggy pie and a burned tongue.  Yes, I burned my tongue almost every single time Mom made them.

We are so conditioned, in every aspect of life, to disdain the wait.  A letter is an antiquated thing now that we have instant messaging.  We order some worthless gadget on the shopping channel, we pay extra so that we don’t have to WAIT.  We go into ridiculous debt for things we can’t afford, because laying something away until it’s paid for, why, we’re too good for that!  Gotta have it all right now.

Waiting is an art in the spiritual realm, as well; and one that, if you’re like me, is an ongoing process to develop. There is relationship built with God as we wait.  There is maturity and strength gained in the struggle that we won’t acquire if we have a microwave mentality.  In the pause before the answer to prayer comes to pass, we get to study and observe His process.  As we obediently step away from the controls, we come to appreciate His meticulous knack for do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think.  Quality is yet another reward for learning to wait…because there’s no such thing as rushed perfection.

I once had a coworker who could find a good meal in the most surprising places.  His advice to me was this:  when you go into a new town, talk to the locals.  Ask them where the best place to eat is, and when they offer the usual “tourist dives,” you tell them, “No, not where you send the tourists.  Where do YOU go when you want a good meal?”  Sometimes those secret gathering places were little hole-in-the-wall basement establishments.  Routinely, he would go in, sit down, and instead of taking a menu, asked the cook to surprise him.  There’s something about asking a chef to do what he or she does best—create!  It’s a welcome, refreshing, thrilling opportunity: to receive a request without restrictions, without picky substitutions, or conditions about how the customer wants the finished product to appear.  Because he considered dining to be an event rather than a means to an end, he didn’t care to wait a little longer.  The meals, according to him, were almost always something off-the-grid, because he dared trust the one doing the cooking to his or her best judgment.

What huge thing are you asking God to do today, if at all?  If you’re not asking for something big, I challenge you to ask Him for what “can’t be done.”  Ask Him to change the very person whom everyone around you says cannot or will not ever change.  Ask Him for something that brings Him glory, and surrender the how, when, and where to HIM.  Give Him an opportunity to roll up His sleeves and reveal what He is REALLY capable of.  Ask Him to do great exploits, and don’t set up conditions or a deadline for Him to have to adhere to.  We’re so shallow in our asking…we order straight off the menu, asking for the small things which require little if any faith.  God wants His children to boldly approach His throne, to ask Him to accomplish what HE wants in the earth.  After the asking, He wants us to wait.  Oh, He hasn’t lost our request in the shuffle.  He hasn’t forgotten or disregarded our prayers as unimportant.  He’s just waiting for the time He knows is best to bring it all to pass.

Make your petitions known to your caring Father today.  Don’t settle for a watery, freeze-dried, or second-rate blessing just so you can have it sooner.  Don’t get burned by trying to take what He’s promised before it has had time to cool down to the perfect moment.  There is blessing in the wait.  If you can allow Him to bring you His best in His time, it will be so worth the discipline.  Right place, right time?  Better than the best pot pie you ever ate!