a year of adventure, adversity, challenge, struggle, and yes…. blessing too.
i am always the pessimist, choosing to look at the dark, negative and frustrating, but this has been one hard year. It felt literally like we were scratching to make our keep, working on a treadmill, going no further, no advance, no decline… bills got paid, but by god’s grace…
and then the light began to dawn… business exploding, job for hubby… as we approach the end of a long and arduous year i am thankful to have hope for a new and bright 2013 filled with promise and hope. so pray with me… and lets all keep our eyes open for the blessings of the new year.
Despite my attempts at being entirely honest and bare in this blog, I do hold back. I assume everybody does, to some extent, even in their most secret of diaries. You see, twenty seven years of life is a lot to fit into just over a year's worth of writing.
At first, I thought running out of things to say and confessions to admit would happen quite quickly.
Years ago that was a very popular expression in the city churches… and i remember hearing a large african american woman say that all the time. Her life was a story of challenge, trial, adversity, and loss. It seemed that at almost every turn she expereinced yet one more departure from normal and mundane life.. but she always came back with that response “god is good… all the time… and all the time… God is good.” Intellectually i understood her cry, and in my head i knew this to be true. Every passage of scripture backed her statement up… and in every instance where an older saint came to the notice of the world for something heroic, startling or shocking it was always the same song… God is good… all the time.
I am not heartless, and i do not forget to connect my heart to my knowledge, but there was one thing missing from my life those years ago… it was that direct and immediate application of this principle in my own life. Until our job loss my view was that God was indeed good… he provided cars, a job for each of us, and good health, all the food we wanted, and a life filled with stuff. We could buy whatever we wanted.. well, almost everything. He provided warmth in the winter, and fresh cool breeze in the summer…. and we were very insulated from the palpable cry hidden in that woman’s statement. For we knew a god that prevented us from knowing the pain of joblessness, or of death. He was a God of the mountain tops….
and it was only when our jobless adventure took us deep into the valley and the shadows of death that we really understood the goodness of God, walking us through times when we were not certain how any bills would be paid, or if we would have food on the table. He provided. Never beyond exactly what we needed, but his provision has been right on time, precise, calculated, and a blessing. And he has held us in those emotional times when the world just did not seem right, or we wondered what else would be taken from us… but as the dust settled we knew he was looking out for us. He cleared our plates of the burdens of excess, providing just what we need. Is God Good? Amen
Is God’s way my way? Not on your life. But is his goodness better than my very life? You Bet.
So i think back those many years, and still hear that deep growly voice shout from the depths of her soul “God is Good… all the time”… yes, in the death of a son, and in the loss of that job, and in the time when a spouse walked out, and when the car died, and the house is falling apart. Is God able to meet the need? Absolutely. Does he want us looking to him for everything – Yes? Does he take joy in being our provider, our savior and our friend – Amen.
So the God of the mountain tops does visit the valleys, the deep places where there is great pain, and challenge. And he walks with us through these places, and stays with us as we ourselves change, shed the garments of materialism, and of greed, and of selfish desire… For you see, we had worn worldly garments of self fulfillment, of greedy behavior, of indulgence, and of taking for granted the opportunities he had placed in our lives. That valley shook us to the core. Bankrupcy – of our souls, emotions, spirit and of our wallet… everything felt like it was stripped away, or ripped away. In those moments i remember saying to God over and over “Please dont let us be homeless!” And slowly we emerge from those rags we once wrapped around ourselves, naked, sad that we have gotten it wrong for so long. The message of worldly materialism is a distructive one, masquarading itself in a cloak of luxury, and desire, appealing to the deepest fleshly desires… and it was in direct opposition to the God of Creation. He had other plans. He allowed us to have alot stripped away – naked emotionally, financially, spiritually. And naked we find ourselves being handed garments of praise, richly appointed clothing of humility, of dependence, and of selflessness. We are no longer our own, and we no longer look like the world. We emerge from the valley dressed in the garments of our God, prepared for us, that we may proclaim to every ear that will listen “God is Good… all the time”. The climb up the mountain from the valley is challenging. Rebuilding our lives is not for the faint of heart, but God has known that he designed us for his service, and for surrender from the world.
Perhaps you ar e there… the economy has thrown you down for the count, left you wondering what your life is about or how you will ever regroup and move forward. That same God who is Good will be there for you, and see you through this adventure, until one day you kneel in his presence in heaven, with this world’s struggle ended, and eternity beginning free of all of this. My challenge is look to Jesus… fix your eyes on him, read his word, and yield your emotions and your mind to his spirit. Stop letting the emotions lie to you, and let Jesus show you his goodness, his kindness, his mercy and his grace.
What is keeping you from yielding to his sovereign will today?
How many times have we looked at a friend who smiled, was cordial, and warm, loving, and yet their heart was breaking apart? How many times have we looked at a totally devistating situation and only seen the devistation, and not the opportunity to rebuild. things are not as they always seem.
i am telling myself this today because it is the sunniest day outside, with a gentle breeze blowing into the windows, and yet my heart wants to ruminate on loss and grief, of the struggles, and not the god who is making the sun shine.
I want so badly to just change the channel on this life i am living because the story is hard, and the struggle is real… but then i hear him say that the testing of my faith works patience and let patience complete her perfect work. OK, you got me. You look down and know what rough edges need to be sanded down, and what needs to be polished, or what surgery needs to happen to refashion me in your image. I dont want to be the clay telling the potter what to do. I yield all to you God. Make my life new, precious, and in the image of your son. You have taken so much from me, yet i will praise you because i realize what i clinged to was not necessary. So things are not as they appear. You know why the doors remain closed, and work is not happening, and you know why we are down to the dregs of savings and living on the fumes… but you know the best plan for us. Yielded i cry out please dont leave me this way. Give me dignity, purpose, life. Give me the ability to pay my bills, and have daily bread. (and gas!)
I keep getting reminded to not look at or put stock in what i see, because my mind wants to lie to me… the news tells me the scary things, the world tells me that if i am not a certain size, or have white teeth i dont fit in. But then i open the word of god and my lord tells me another story… he tells me that i am his beloved, that he has called me by name, has chosen me before the foundation of the world, and he has purposed my life for knowing him, loving him, living for him. His life, the life that the word speaks of is not always visible, tangible, or spoke of by the world….. so this living by faith is a challenge.
When i think of faith i turn to the book of Hebrews 11, the “Hall of Faith” chapter. And i think all of us want to live in the first half of that chapter, where glorious glowing examples of faith like moses and abraham live…. but the chapter ends with stories of struggle, hardship, and even death for the faith…. and few of us want that… These days it has felt like we live in the end of hebrews 11, with some beaten, some tortured, and some put to death. I think now of the many persecuted christians world wide, and pray for strength for them. And i realize that it may be our time too. Are we strong enough to stand the crucible of trial, of torture, of death, to live for Jesus?
“Lord, first thank you for loving us, for calling us, for calling us to be your beloved. May we draw closer and closer to you. And as we do, may you strengthen your believers world wide. may those in direct harm stand for you, and draw all men to you through their faithfulness to Christ. Stand in their presence, draw their captors to you, compel those who oppose you to bow to your authority, and leadership. Rise up big in the church, captivate our hearts, use us to build your kingdom. We stand free in a nation that is slowly erroding from freedom, and thank you that you still permit freedom here. Grant your people boldness and wisdom, grace and power to reach this world for your name. And may we live by every word that proceeds out of your mouth. Amen.”
I’ve known for a long time that I love to write . But there is one thing about writing – it takes discipline in time . and I will be the first to admit I am not very disciplined it sitting down to write . so is a blog idea came to mind, partly because it could be quick and short . I love the thought of of selecting from what is going on in real life and spending a few moments thinking about it . perhaps I missed my calling in should have gone into journalism . at the heart of this blog was the goal of documents in my thoughts and I most difficult time in my life . I had a job that was challenging ,and I worked with people that were very strong willed . throw my personality and my sense of faith in and this was quite a dynamic and challenging environment . Faith was not something that was valued in that environment . Curiously my faith upheld me through this time of difficulty.
the writing is cathartic ,it’s healthy, and helpful to me to find ways of expressing what’s going on . and perhaps writing is a means of document in my life .
Last night I had another powerful reminder that our lives are fragile and our God is a strong defender and protector.
Our neighborhood is older and so is the infrastructure. The gas company is working on updating all the gas lines and moving meters out of our homes. Last night was our turn to let 5 men with tools and hard hard loose in our basement to complete the work. Here is the miracle: the gas company found for big leak in our gas line in the basement . the more amazing thing was the biggest lake was at our furnace and the repair guy said the furnace it is blowing up and killed us all . But god is good and he watched over us to protect us from that happening repairs are almost all done no more gas leaks and I’m thankful I’m alive . last night when the news broke off valve leaks I was a bit frantic and then I realized how good god is to me. initially the gas repair people told me the gas would be turned off we have to hire a plumber and thought we would then have to call to get service turned on. steve was at his name and study and I didn’t want to disturb him but I was alarmed and needed to pray with him . we prayed together and then steve spoke with his mom’s bible study . they prayed for the situation and offered several opportunities of christian man who do plumbing . but here’s the miracle the gas company came back about 45 minutes later realizing they had been using 1 gauge that was hyper sensitive . dan hypersensitive gauge was showing leak that did not necessarilly hold true . when nate and tested the line with another gauge it has been fine . the valve to the furnace is captain waiting are on completion repair however the gas service was turned back on and hallelujah we have no other leaks .
so this is the miracle that god does ip knew that big ass would be leaking can you get it could kill us it wasn’t hard time and more than that he put on parts of the gas company none the idea to test with a different gauge . I know now how clearly god wants to answer prayer . and I saw his good hands responding in very short order . so I am thankful I’m alive and I’m very thankful that I know the lord and more than that I’m thankful that he loves and protects us . god is good all the time .