I am venturing out into the podcast world to spread love and encouragement through sound. Check out my new Podcasts page and let me know if you are interested in more podcasts!
I am venturing out into the podcast world to spread love and encouragement through sound. Check out my new Podcasts page and let me know if you are interested in more podcasts!
In October 2018, Hurricane Michael impacted my region approximately three short weeks after my last blog post. That experience had a lasting impact on me, and it has taken time to process how that disaster has affected so many, how I experienced it personally, and where God was through all of it. With the 2019 hurricane season now upon us, I want to share with you what God has been teaching me.
It all started with a dream…
Over the rolling hills, I flew. Swaths of evergreens intermingled with dots of yellow, brown, and red patches stretched as far as my eyes could see on that cool, Fall day. Below, thin strips of pavement snaking narrowly, disappeared and peeked through the surrounding green before weaving out of sight once again. Office buildings, universities, shopping centers, neighborhoods, and grocery stores poked through the natural colors in the patchwork beneath me.
“So beautiful,” I thought, gliding above, weightless and carefree. I squeezed my eyes tightly together, inhaling the air around me with tremendous happiness. I felt great pride knowing this beautiful area was my home. However, those feelings didn’t last long.
When I gazed upon the landscape below once more, I realized something was terribly wrong. Broken pine trees lay bent and bowed like crushed, thrown tinker toys. Buildings were collapsed. Roofs were torn, missing, and scattered across neighborhoods. I felt a lump in my throat and a heaviness in my heart. Destruction was everywhere.
As I floated above the more populated areas of my hometown, the devastation grew: twisted metal, fallen trees, bent fences, and broken lamp posts, snapped in half. Although, I couldn’t see the people below, I felt their sorrow as if it were my own. The deep sense of loss and pain, anxiety and depression, and utter hopelessness overtook me. In my soul, I knew what had happened — a powerful hurricane hit, and no one saw it coming. No one was ready for it.
Why weren’t they ready? I asked myself aloud, feeling utterly helpless. It wasn’t like we hadn’t experienced hurricanes before this one, but this one was…different.
I sped across the sky to my neighborhood, longing to know what had become of my neighbors and home. The long, winding road below, leading to the entrance of my street was covered in tree debris and limbs, rendering it impassible. Towering, ancient pines had destroyed many of the homes. Most of the houses had massive trees toppled across roofs, through living rooms, bedrooms, and garages. Cars in driveways were crushed, and their windshields smashed.
The scene was strangely still like a photograph. No one was standing in the roadways. No lights were on inside homes. No wind blew. No rain fell from the sky. It was as if the earth stood still. It all just looked so…lifeless. I choked back tears and covered my eyes.
“No more!” I whimpered as I felt a strange shifting sensation around me. The feeling was unfamiliar, and I felt uneasy. I held my hands tightly around my face, trembling until the sensation stopped; and although I didn’t want look, I opened my eyes.
I blinked several times, feeling disoriented at first, but quickly understood I was inside my home, standing in my bedroom. Before me, my husband and I lay asleep, unaware of the world around us. A sense of dread filled me, deep in my belly. I wanted to wake myself up, but I didn’t know how.
Wake up! I cried, but the sleeping bodies before me didn’t stir.
That’s when I heard it — a terrible cracking sound outside the bedroom window. Before I could react, the sound grew louder and was quickly followed with a tremendous thud and crashing noise inside the master bedroom. I turned away, cupping my ears to avoid the terrifying sounds.
Suddenly, it was silent again.
“No, no, no, no!” I yelled as I dropped to my knees, trembling. A seventy-five-foot pine tree had crashed through our master bedroom, straight through the center of our bed. The sight stole the breath from my body.
My eyes filled with tears as I cried, “No, Father. This can’t happen!”
Suddenly, the dream was over. I found myself awake, shaking, weeping, and extremely confused. I was in my master bed. My husband was sleeping soundly next to me. My home was intact. No tree had come through our roof or across our bed. We were safe.
There were three days left before Hurricane Michael could be at our doorstep, assuming it stayed along the same path it was threatening to take. I quickly thumbed through my smart phone to the weather app tracking the storm. No change. The storm was still heading North, but the forecast models appeared to be drifting slight West towards us.
Many thoughts swirled through my head. We had a friend coming from Texas to stay with us for a few days while she sold her house, and it looked like the hurricane bearing down upon us would arrive the same day she would sign her paperwork. What if she got stuck in town, unable to get back home to Texas for days or weeks? Losing power and water at our house was a certainty if the storm touched us at all. Should we stay in town? Should we evacuate? Should we go to my parents’ house? Should I convince them to leave too? What about elderly family members? It was all very overwhelming as the imagery and emotions of all I had dreamed played in my head over and over again on loop. Fear tried to take hold, and all I knew to do was pray.
“Father, turn this storm another direction. Fling it into the sea away from everyone, or drive it into open fields. Move it far from our town. Protect us. Your Word says You hear the cries of your children. Please hear me.”
In response, the Holy Spirit reminded me God is in control:
Matthew 6:25-34 TPT – “This is why I tell you to never be worried about your life, for all that you need will be provided, such as food, water, clothing—everything your body needs. Isn’t there more to your life than a meal? Isn’t your body more than clothing? Look at all the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they? So, which one of you by worrying could add anything to your life? And why would you worry about your clothing? Look at all the beautiful flowers of the field. They don’t work or toil, and yet not even Solomon in all his splendor was robed in beauty more than one of these! So if God has clothed the meadow with hay, which is here for such a short time and then dried up and burned, won’t he provide for you the clothes you need—even though you live with such little faith? So then, forsake your worries! Why would you say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For that is what the unbelievers chase after. Doesn’t your heavenly Father already know the things your bodies require? So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly. Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”
As I continued to pray, a sort of righteous anger rose up within me. It seemed the nightmare might be the Enemy or my own imagination trying to scare me into cowering and giving up authority in the spiritual realm, but I know our words have power in Jesus when we directly speak to things that try to come against us. Therefore, I spoke directly to the storm in a forceful whisper (trying not to wake my husband): “Go away! Dissolve! You can’t come here! May you be pulled apart like Hurricane Irma! You aren’t welcome here in Jesus’ name!”
When my husband woke up, I told him about my dream, including the tree that came through our roof. Surely, if a pine tree that size crashed through our home and into our bed, it would kill us where we lay.
We believed and agreed the storm would not hurt us if we asked our Father to cover us. Why else would I dream such a horrible thing if not to intervene? So we prayed. We prayed over our bedroom, every doorway, every closet, our kitchen, and our living room. We prayed for the large pine trees in our backyard and commanded them to remain strong and rooted. All the while, the Weather Channel in the living room displayed warnings across our television that Hurricane Michael was suddenly projected to reach a Category 5; and we were still potentially in its path.
Over the next couple of days, I experienced a mixture of faith, hope, and fear. I believed God would protect us, but the human side was still afraid. I kept seeing the dream in my mind as if it had actually happened in real life the way I saw it. Every time I saw the images, I prayed for God to move the storm, not just for us but our whole community.
The next day, a Wednesday, the storm hit. It wobbled unpredictably slightly to the right and to the left before the eye of the storm made landfall. My family and I sat huddled around the television, watching the storm. I was thankful my friend had gone back to Texas and was out of harm’s way. We stayed with my parents in case we needed to help each other for the next few days if we lost power.
I felt an odd peace, knowing although we were totally unable to control of the storm, the One who could control it knew exactly what would happen and where it would go. It may be a scary next few hours, days, or weeks ahead; but He was with us. I knew we were going to be okay, despite the fear constantly pulling on the deep thoughts in the back of my mind.
The next few hours were dark and noisy. The wind blew erratically and harshly. The trees bent and cracked. Limbs fell to the ground, roof, on the backyard fence, and across the neighbor’s cars. We lost power. We lost cell phone service, but our safety was never an issue.
When it was finally safe to travel across town once the storm had mostly passed, we made our way back home. The neighborhood was a mess. There were trees and yard debris everywhere. It was exactly what I dreamed. I tried to be brave and held back tears as we drove towards our home. Were our neighbors okay? Would there be a tree through our bedroom?
As we pulled into the driveway, all looked amazingly well with our home and property. It was a surprise to be honest. I almost expected a tree through my bedroom, but God is better than my fears and expectations. Nothing had damaged our home, and our neighbors were okay.
The next morning, my husband and I visited our house again and stood at the back door, watching the final lingering hurricane winds gust through the trees, when we noticed something we hadn’t seen before — a seventy-five-foot pine tree at the back of our yard, the very one that fell in my dream, had pulled
up at its root system and was leaning. It had fallen uphill (our bedroom was directly downhill), away from our house. Somehow (only God), the tree was securely nestled into the branches of a neighboring tree, keeping it from hitting the ground. The only threat posed now was damage to our fence and our neighbor’s fence. I was blown away. It was a true confirmation that God was working on our behalf to protect us. It would have surely crushed our bedroom, straight through our bed. I was in shock.
The next days were hot and tiring without air conditioning, but I was thankful. We were protected through it all, and we knew it. We learned as we
gained connection back to the rest of the world that we had missed a direct hit by the terrible center of Hurricane Michael by only a few miles. The areas that were directly hit were coastal towns. Many people had lost everything they had in the storm. My heart broke for them. It was difficult to see the images of devastation without wondering why they weren’t spared, and we were. But I know God’s heart weeps with us when we hurt and cry. A tragedy to us is also one to Him.
As I reflect on Hurricane Michael, I mostly remember God’s goodness, the kindness of neighbors, and the heroism of the first responders and linemen during and after the storm. I am still processing the grief and the chaos and especially my dream, but it was a clear reminder of the One who is always in control even when things look most uncertain. I don’t have to be afraid because He is with me.
If you’re facing a life-altering event or wondering if God sees you in the middle of a storm of life, I hope this post will encourage you. He hears the cries of His children; and no matter the outcome of whatever you’re going through, you can rest assured that He has you securely held in the gentle grip of His hand.
Let Love Roar
Starting a Journey
Over the last few years, the Lord has taught me about the importance of being a leader in different capacities of life. Honestly, it’s not a role I ever
aspired to become or wanted. Maybe that’s why He continuously draws me to do it? The role of a leader is a continuation of a theme in my life to become more engaged with a community of believers, understand the value of getting involved in messy relationships, and embody the call to build each other up. The goal of sharing my journey is to inspire you, fellow future and current leaders, to “find the gold” (recognize and encourage the strengths of others around you within your sphere(s) of influence).
About five years ago, I was living within my fairly comfortable bubble of shy introversion. I had the same small group of friends and the same familiar routines of life; but, as is often the case, God had other plans. That was about the same timeframe I began going to a new church and shortly after God had intervened in very real way in my life. God was setting me up for growth and self-discovery in ways that I could have never imagined.
Becoming a Spiritual Mother
My new church became home for me. It’s my family. I can’t imagine being anywhere else. It’s where I first encountered other people who are sensitive to the voice and move of the Presence of God and obediently respond. It was also where I was first called a “spiritual mother” (the first role of leadership that God would quickly instill and develop within me). The person who gave me that informal title was a young leader within my church; but, when he said the words to me — “God is growing you as a ‘spiritual mother’ and your husband as a ‘spiritual father'” — I laughed. I thought at the time he was mistaken. I told myself I didn’t have the personality to raise up other people, nor did I want to do it. I was not a mentor or a coach. But God was speaking truth to me through that church leader that day. His words spoke to the deepest parts of my heart, and he was absolutely right. God was about to show me the awakening of my true identity.
Awaking the Passion of Discipleship
The same year I joined my new church, I had the amazing honor of mentoring a close friend who was a new follower of Jesus. I had no idea where to even begin growing someone else in their spiritual walk, but the more I asked the Lord to guide our daily interactions, the more He provided opportunities. As a result, we both grew; and I discovered a passion for teaching about the Word of God and discipling others.
Shepherding and Coaching
A year later, I became a supervisor in a new career. Supervision wasn’t something I looked for, but it was something that found me at the right time. I agreed to do it, knowing it was
going to challenge me in uncomfortable ways. I had to be assertive and confident. It demanded the best qualities from me: grace and mercy; tenderness; modeling the right attitudes and responses to difficult situations; dealing with conflict; working alongside my employees and serving their needs; but, most importantly, shepherding and coaching.
In the moments when I felt like I was failing, God used my manager who hired me to push me further. She saw the gold within me and knew what I could become. Over the next three years, I grew into the role until finally one day, I felt like I was beginning to understand the most basic levels what being a leader actually meant.
Leading Others through Worship
The past two years have rapidly accelerated the growing process for becoming a leader. I left my supervisor job for a different role that no longer required the management of people. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved. Supervising people can be tough! But if I thought I was done with leading, I was
mistaken. Again, God had other plans.
I joined the temporary choir we had a church for about a year (our praise band took a temporary hiatus). I never sang in front of other people before that point. A few months later, I was asked to lead worship for a few songs. The act of leading worship radically shifted my perception of how to guide others into an encounter with the living God through words and songs.
The year before I joined the choir, I had a dream about singing and leading worship at church in the setting of a worship team. I truly believe the Lord was using that dream to prepare my heart and teach me boldness for the next step — co-leading worship as part of our newly revived praise band. What an immense blessing it is to see other people connecting with God in their own ways as they sing with us. It will mess you up in all sorts of good ways to see people singing their hearts out, crying, and praying during worship. It’s all for the glory of God, and has very little to do with me. I would not consider my singing particularly remarkable. I just have to be obedient, and God will use it.
Putting it All Together
Most recently, God provided opportunities to lead other young leaders within a small group and within my other spheres of influence.
The Lord is using the skills of leadership He’s been honing within me for the benefit of the Kingdom of God and the building of leaders. He’s showing me how to find the other “king makers” (leaders who raise up leaders) and to recognize the gold hidden within others and draw it out. I am a spiritual mother. I am a mentor. I am a shepherd. I am a worship leader.
Is God speaking to you about fulfilling the role of leadership? I challenge you to look for the gold in people in your life. Ask the Lord how you can encourage or disciple someone He highlights in your life.
Powerful, godly leaders leave a lasting influence and legacy on others the people around them. May you leave an imprint on others that lasts for generations even if no one remembers your name.
God has taught me a lot lately about the value of “finding your tribe.” The word “tribe” in this sense is a tight-knit group of
My personality type allows me to dangerously get too comfortable with being self-(in)sufficient — alone with my thoughts, alone with my goals, and lazy about my dreams. Although I have a few close friends from high school and college, my recent years as a young, married professional have been a barrage of busyness and distraction. There’s so much to do and seemly not enough time to get it all done. It’s so easy to disconnect if you don’t actively cultivate the friendships around you. Unfortunately, disconnection usually means slow or little spiritual growth and maturity.
The past year and a half was certainly full of changes in my life. I changed jobs during the summer of 2016 and greatly missed the daily interactions with a few close friends that I had in my previous workplace. My social circles at church also radically changed as many of the people my age moved away or left our church. None of these changes were necessarily bad. It just left my husband and me with a bit of a social-spiritual deficit, and we suddenly found ourselves craving a community of people looking for the same godly growth and interests we were. We felt an acute awareness that we needed more — more relationships with a body of believers outside of ourselves, more deep meaningful conversations about what the Lord is doing, and more stretching in all the healthy ways we were lacking.
Before I changed jobs, I was surrounded by daily interactions with fellow believers. It was a true blessing that I’m sure is very rare unless you work in some sort of ministry environment. I asked God to help me find
similar friendships in my new workplace — not to replace my other friends, but to grow my social circle and continue the daily interactions I realized I was craving so deeply. Our wonderful, giving Father God heard my prayer and placed me in a group of fellow believers; and the friend I interacted with the most became a reliable, trustworthy friend who embodies honor, leadership, spiritual discernment, and exhortation.
In my church life, God introduced my husband and me to a powerful group of believers with similar Holy Spirit-given giftings and slightly different strengths. These people have become family. They are safe. They listen. They are prayer warriors. They are encouragers. They are challengers when you need to be pushed to reach higher. They are mentors. In addition, God is teaching me to see the same qualities within myself that I never knew existed.
I challenge you, friend, to cultivate the friendships in your life. Find a community of people who see the gold in you and hold you accountable. Engage with people that are going after God because those are the people who will ensure your fire for God will never be snuffed out from the troubles of this life, and you’ll have opportunities to do the same for them.
Your Sister in Christ,
This post was written by my hero — my husband Clay White. ♡
Recently, I attended a Bethel Music concert. The event was worshipful and set a reverent tone for spending quiet time with the Lord.
However, as the concert concluded and the lights flickered on, the song “Something Just Like This” by The Chainsmokers & Coldplay played through the sound system. I remember thinking at the time, “That is an odd song choice to play after all of the worship music we just heard.”
I heard the song “Something Just Like This” again over the last few days and listened closely to the lyrics. Suddenly, the song made since for the worship venue — at least to me. The words reference heroes and legends like Hercules, Achilles, Batman, and Superman and how the singer doesn’t feel like he belongs in that list. Reading these lyrics provided a profound revelation to my heart. I imagined God singing the lyrics about me: “How much you wanna risk? I’m not looking for somebody with some superhuman gifts. Some superhero, some fairytale bliss.”
I have honestly felt several times in the past like everyone else in my Christian sphere of influence has more spiritual gifts, hears God better, is more connected, and so on than I am. What I felt God saying through this popular music song was those people are human just like I am. They are not any more special than I am. God is not looking for a member of the Avengers or Justice League. He is just looking for normal people who are willing to say yes to Him. He wants people who are open to stepping out in faith to be used for His purposes.
If you step out in faith, God will show up. It may not be in the way you expect, but I love that about God. I love that He can take a pop music song or something that seemingly has nothing to do with God and blow your mind with a spiritual revelation.
I want to encourage and challenge you. You may feel like you have nothing to offer God. I know that I feel that way more frequently than I should. There have been many times I had a word for someone that I was nervous about giving to them, but when I finally stepped out in faith and gave them the word, it was total confirmation for them. Take a risk and step out in faith; God will not let you down.
It’s an odd paradox to have all you need yet still feel discontent. If you are skeptical of this seeming contradiction, all you have to do is read or watch interviews of professional football players, rock stars, or other very successful people who state they have everything they ever wanted but still feel empty. As a result, their hearts wander. The direction of their lives cease to contain the same vibrancy it once did in their youth when they thought, “I’ll be happy if I can only achieve [insert ideal moment/thing here].”
I am not trying to say we should not have dreams and ambitions in life. Setting goals and working towards them can be a rewarding process that brings honor and glory to God because it is an expression of who God has created us to be (1 Corithinians 10:31). But, with that said, the dream or ambition itself should not be our center focus. When it becomes the ultimate goal, discontentment can lead to an unhealthy spirit and elevate the process of filling a perceived lack to an idol. It’s a heart issue that affects non-Christians and Believers in Christ alike.
The Bible warns us about discontentment because it can be a symptom of disobedience. Why? Instead of looking to God to provide for our needs and give us the desire of our hearts, we develop a mindset of looking for a change in our circumstances to bring us happiness. See the example of Adam and Eve who ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because they felt they were lacking something good that God was withholding from them. As a result, they willfully disobeyed the command not to eat of the tree. It is the heart of the natural man to constantly look at our own lack and try to fill it because we are looking for something eternal that only God can provide to us.
As a person who has climbed the proverbial career ladder and sought financial success for all the wrong reasons in the past, I recognize I must heed God’s whispered warnings to my heart about avoiding the discontentment trap. When things are going well, it can be easy sometimes to feel in control. When you cease to feel desperate, it can be seemingly easy to live a life without God at the forefront, steering the way. Ironically, it’s in those moments when I find I often need Him most, even though I don’t feel like I do.
How do we find contentment when our hearts are restless? Paul gives us the “secret” in Philippians 4:11-13 (AMP): “Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. 12 I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. 13 I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]”
In short, Christ is the only one who can provide peace, where our attempts to answer the “if I only hads” of life cannot. I encourage you, Brother/Sister, if you find yourself discontent with the situation you’re in, meditate on the passage Philippians 4:11-13 and ask God to show you the root of your dissatisfaction and remind you of the source of your hope. Remember your God will supply all your needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
I hope this post will encourage you and bring perspective about the important things in life. God is in control and has your best interest at heart. He intends to maximize the potential of who you are created to be and increase the effectiveness of your ministry in your life and those around you. He would never deprive you from something better.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4
With much love,
What is the price of five sparrows — two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. – Luke 12:6-7
I couldn’t believe it. God just used a faithful friend to give me turn-by-turn directions for something seemingly insignificant. How could it be that the God of the universe would care about something as small as a piece of code I was writing for a work form? Even now, my mind has a hard time catching up with my heart which knows God cares about all of the details of our lives, big and small. I hope my true story (from two weeks ago!) will encourage you.
As hour four quickly closed, I felt no closer to figuring out how to write a particular piece of application code that my supervisor wanted than when I first started. I admit to feeling a little hopeless at that point. I may be in the computer field, but I am not a programmer. I stared at the code with frustration for a long minute.
“Ask me,” the Lord stirred within in my heart in that familiar still, small voice.
“Okay,” I responded obediently, unsure what to ask exactly. “Lord, will you point me to the right resource?”
A few minutes after hearing nothing more, I texted a friend who knew the code language that I needed (I laugh now as I write this post because I think I felt like I needed to help the Lord answer my prayer). My friend tried to help and pointed me to a couple of sites, but my particular code issue was not something he was familiar with writing. The sites were useful suggestions, but after another hour fiddling with the code, I realized I was getting nowhere fast. As a last resort, I used my lunch to post a plea to Facebook for help.
“Now, what do I do, Lord?” I sighed.
A minute later, my smart phone buzzed with a message from another friend named Faith who responded to my request for help on Facebook (my friend’s name is not actually “Faith.” However, per her request, I changed her name as part of the permission she gave me to use her part of the conversation that you will read below).
“Did you ask the Holy Spirit about the code?” Faith asked.
“I asked Him for a solution,” I wrote back quickly.
“I agree He’ll lead you to a solution. I’m asking for a word of knowledge about it. I have no idea in the natural [physical world]. I’ll let you know what I hear in a few minutes.”
About ten minutes later, I received a follow-up message from Faith, “There’s something in the second part of the code. Does that make sense at all?”
I went back to my original code and started at the second sub statement, which happened to be the part I was struggling with all morning. Knowing that she had not seen the code and wasn’t a programmer, I started laughing at my excitement at what the Lord was doing through her, “Yes, your response makes perfect sense! I still need to get clarification on what to do with the second part though.”
“Okay, I didn’t know if codes have parts. LOL! I’ll ask what to do with it,” she confirmed before shortly continuing a minute later, “Delete something is what I heard. Like there’s too much maybe?” she mentioned.
I instantly recognized what she meant. “Yes, I think I did add too much to my code,” I agreed.
Although Faith could not hear me, I was laughing again as I looked at the code and removed what I suspected was incorrect from the overall module. When I was done making changes, I eagerly tested the code, but encountered an error. However, I remained determined and I felt in my spirit that we were on the right path.
“I have no idea what I’m talking about,” Faith texted.
“That is funny to me, because I do know what you’re saying,” I confirmed. “I deleted the problematic code, but something is still missing.”
“Okay, I’m asking,” she responded and quickly followed up with “I am hearing something about a closing statement. Do they have those in programming?”
“Yes, closing statements are in programming” I confirmed.
I scrolled to the last closing statement, but nothing looked wrong. Everything appeared to be in order, and the syntax appeared correct. While I was still searching for my mistake, I received another message from Faith.
“Maybe not in the closing closing statement but one further up in the code?” she urged without knowing I was still struggling.
Her words suddenly made sense. Of course, the issue was with the end sub statement at the tail-end of the second sub command. It was the same code I had wrestled with all day. Immediately, I found the syntax error and corrected it. My fingers couldn’t press the run button fast enough when I realized that error was likely the last barrier to making the code work. Believe it or not, it worked! Perfectly! Only God could do that. I am still in awe.
I’ve thought over the last several days why God would do such a seemly small thing. That piece of code would never have cured cancer or solved the problems of the world. It was a mundane script for a simple operational purpose at work. Why would God bother to help me with something so menial?
I believe God is involved in the details of our lives for many reasons. He’s a good Daddy. He loves us. It’s also a testimony of His great love in the little adventures of our everyday lives for others to see. If the whole event teaches someone about His love in even the smallest way, I feel it was worth doing and certainly worth sharing.
Peace and love to you, and may you experience His reality in your life — even in the smallest of things. If He cares for each tiny sparrow, He will certainly love you that much more!
“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” – 1 Corinthians 4:20
Does God still give gifts of apostleship, prophecy, miracles, healing, discerning spirits, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, tongues and interpreting tongues to Christians today? Theologians and other Christian experts frequently debate this subject. As a result, I decided to write a post about this question, not from an argumentative standpoint, but as a way to understand my own personal journey and remain grounded in the Scriptures. Over the years as I studied the Bible, examined the Greek, and witnessed God’s hand in my life and the lives of others, my thoughts about the existence and use of miraculous gifts has shifted.
Early in my Christian journey, I regularly dreamed of real events involving friends and family which had not yet occurred. These dreams were so startling they prompted me to engage and encourage the person I had dreamt about. As I interacted with friends about what was happening to me, I quickly learned these gifts were not considered “normal” within my Christian social circles. As a result, for many years I ignored these gifts which I often called “curses” because I did not understand them. I usually kept them to myself. At the time, I was very young, and I didn’t understand what those gifts are, why they happen, and from whom they are given (1 Corinthians 12:11).
As the years passed, I saw spiritual abuse by people within other denominations who claimed to have gifts like mine, using it as a gimmick to get money from gullible people. It became easy to distance myself from those false prophets. I already wanted nothing to do with my gifts and primarily went to churches that believed in cessationism, meaning the miraculous gifts ceased with the 12 Apostles. I convinced myself, despite my own experiences, that all people claiming to operate in the miraculous were frauds and fakes or they were fooling themselves.
More years passed. I knew doctrine. I knew Jesus saved me, but my spiritual life was stunted and without power for various reasons. Life was often distracting and difficult at times. God was real, but I didn’t see Him actively moving in my life; and at the time, I so desperately needed Him to show up.
Then the year 2012 happened. That was the year God encountered me and everything changed. He used a tiny prayer room, Spirit-filled Christians from different denominations, and the wife of the minister to physically heal me from an anxiety disorder that I had suffered from my whole life. I was healed in an instant, and my life transformed forever because God heard the prayers of Brothers and Sisters that night.
As I walked through the days and weeks that followed, the transformation in my life became more evident. I wanted others to know what Jesus did for me. Most of all, I wanted other people to be free. If he did it for me, I knew he’d do it again for someone else. However, as soon as I shared my testimony, I met familiar resistance. Many people around me didn’t know what to think of my story. Some try to argue that God didn’t use that night to heal me, but it was tough to disagree that I was not the same person. What really happened to me?
Soon after being healed, I moved to a non-denominational, charismatic church and witnessed believers and non-believers become healed from cancer, injuries, mental oppression, and illnesses. I also met other
Christians who prophetically dreamed like me. Suddenly I was normal and ordinary which was comforting.
Experiences are great, but they can be deceiving. I appreciate them because they provide valuable perspective, but what do the Scriptures say about the miraculous gifts? The best answer I can give you is “read your Bible.” His Word is my litmus test. To settle the issue in my own heart once and for all, I researched many verses and dissected them in their original Greek. Some of the verses I reviewed were:
I hope the verses above help you come to your own conclusions, because after all the research I’ve done, I have decided the answer to whether or not God still regularly gives these gifts is not definitive. Phrases like “prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless…but when the time of perfection comes, these things will become useless” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10, emphasis added) and “[Miraculous gifts] will continue until we all come into such unity in our faith…” (Ephesians 4:11-13, emphasis added) are not easily discernible. What is the “time of perfection” and “unity in our faith”? Do these passages refer to Jesus when He walked among us, or maybe they refer to when we die and we’re united with Christ? There aren’t clear answers to these questions, and the Greek fails to define these verses in enough detail. And what do the experts say? That answer also varies depending on whom you ask. What now?
At this point, I pray. I ask God for wisdom. I ask Him for discernment. I examine my experiences with a critical eye. I ask myself if those experiences have been tested or can be tested (1 John 4:1-3). Do the experiences proclaim the Gospel and point to Jesus, or do they simply exalt a person? If they do not point to Jesus, they are not from the Lord.
No matter what stance you take on this issue, it’s not the primary focus of our lives. That designation is reserved for Jesus alone. I hope this post encourages you on your faith journey.
In His love,
She stared at the monumental task before her. Its completion seemed impossible. She understood how David must have felt with only a sling and a stone to take down a giant. Her mind raced. Her heart jumped. How would she get through this moment? Wasn’t she in the center of God’s Will? Didn’t she go where the Lord had called? Why was each step such an enormous effort? Did the Lord intend for her to fail?
I can think of countless times I’ve experienced that exact distressing scenario, wondering if maybe I heard God incorrectly or somehow removed myself from His Will and protection over my life. It’s not a fun place to be. Sometimes, we further confuse ourselves when we agree
with well-meaning but uninformed clichés, suggesting God will always remove every obstacle and open every door when we’re on the right path.
It can feel distressing when you reach a new chapter, a momentary “promised land” in life and quickly discover it’s not going to be easy due to “giants” (obstacles, challenges, struggles, problems or seemingly impossible situations) in the land before you, threatening to spoil your victory and ruin you at every turn.
One evening a few months ago during my prayer time with God, I was particularly upset and confused about a giant in my life. I complained to my Abba Father for thirty minutes, asking Him why my mission field was enormously difficult and expressing how discontent it made me feel. I can almost imagine as I whined that God was calmly listening with an “are-you-done-throwing-your-pity-party-yet-so-I-can-talk” type of look on His face.
“Please speak to me through your Scripture, Lord,” I asked piously after concluding my rant (I understand if you’re snickering at me, dear reader). Little did I know how much God would use that request to teach me about how He felt my journey was going.
Soon after I voiced my request, the reference Acts 20:19-21 came to mind. As I wrote it down, another reference, Zechariah 4:10, popped in my head. I quickly wrote it below the first reference.
I was curious to know what the verses said as they were not immediately familiar references to me. I opened my Amplified Bible and leafed through until I found the first passage from Acts:
“Serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and trials which came on me because of the plots of the Jews [against me]; [you know] how I did not shrink back in fear from telling you anything that was for your benefit, or from teaching you in public meetings, and from house to house, solemnly [and wholeheartedly] testifying to both Jews and Greeks, urging them to turn in repentance to God and [to have] faith in our Lord Jesus Christ [for salvation].”
The verse and section in context was Paul explaining that his ministry was difficult from the first day he entered his mission field in Asia and often accompanied by tears and trials. However, he concluded the end result was worth the struggle because it furthered the Gospel and glorified God.
I was floored. Did I just read that right? Did I not just complain to God about the giants in my mission field being too tall and the road too hard and too long from the first day I began this journey?
“Okay,” I mused aloud. “You’ve got my attention.”
I flipped eagerly to the other verse, now acutely aware the Lord was speaking clearly about that which I was groaning:
“Who [with reason] despises the day of small things (beginnings)? For these seven [eyes] shall rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the Lord which roam throughout the earth.”
The second piece of Scripture was a bit more difficult to figure out because of the metaphors, but with some simple research, I eventually understood. The passage was about the construction of the Temple and God’s pleasure as He oversaw the building process. Maybe I’m just seeing what I want to see, but the message was clear in my mind: The Father saw the construction within me, His Temple, growing pains and all, and was pleased.
I sat in my chair for several minutes, staring at the verses I just read. I was speechless. The words were not easy to read. God was delighted with how my journey was going. But was I? Not so much.
I wanted God to simplify my mission and agree with me to take away the obstacles, but He didn’t. Instead, I found myself having to face my giant head on. But I never fought the battle alone.
God often shows up in the most incredible ways in those dark moments when we find ourselves in Goliath’s shadow. Defeating such a giant requires faith and trust, even when the current circumstances look a lot like failure. It often means we keep fighting until we’ve reached the end. Only then do we realize God is always for us (Romans 8:28) and He’s always with us (Deuteronomy 31:6). He uses our weaknesses as His strength. Our victories over the giants in our lives grow us and prepare us to fight bigger battles. It witnesses to those who don’t know our loving God about His reality. Our testimonies of overcoming adversity teach others and build their faith to believe that they can do the same with God by their side.
“Everyone wants the promise, but no one wants to be pruned.” – Kris Vallotton
The journey of life is full of new beginnings, unexpected turns, and course resetting. Often times, when we feel like we’ve arrived, a new change shakes us or grows us. Many times, this process is painful but necessary for maturity.
I have experienced many of my own twists and turns throughout my life journey; but through it all, God has been with me, guiding my steps and whispering reassurance to my heart along the way. You can read about my testimony and God’s goodness through my life struggles on my About Me page.
Earlier this year, I found myself at an unexpected crossroads in my career and life in general. I call it “unexpected” because I had known for years that God’s will for my life was to remain within my place of employment where I had been for the last 15 years in different positions. He confirmed His will for me to remain where I was many times by providing opportunities for me to minister to others through love and encouragement. He gave me moments to share His love and His nature with the lost, hurting, and broken. He gave me lifelong friendships for encouragement, correction, and growth. He even used my workplace to bless me with a husband who is the love of my life.
Amid the blessings were also job struggles and pains associated with maturing and disappointments along the way. In many ways, I believed my place of employment was my long-term “Promised Land” because it was where God had sent me. But then it happened — change.
Sometimes, the change in course is obvious, but sometimes it isn’t. In many previous crossroad situations, the choice was often not obvious; but in this particular case, there was no mistaking it.
Months earlier, I began to feel a deep stirring of the Spirit, nudging me and telling me it was a season of change. It was time to move. To be honest, I wasn’t excited. I know I should say I was giddy with anticipation about the prospect of moving on to a new adventure, but I wasn’t. I was finally feeling settled and comfortable in the position in which I had been placed. It certainly had its challenges and issues. In fact, there was a storm going on in that area of my life; however, I assumed it was one of those issues that would eventually get better. Plus, I knew I would give up many blessings to change careers — daily interactions with amazing friends, a position that gave me direct access to the organization’s decision-makers, and knowing how my role fits into the organization. But my heart became restless and many nights were sleepless.
I realized the first day I felt the tug of the Spirit on my soul that God was also giving me a choice. Although He told me it was time to change course, I also felt Him telling me I could remain where I was and He would bless me and others for His Kingdom’s purposes. However, I knew if I moved, it was the best choice that He had for my life. Even so, it was not an easy decision.
I asked God, “Where will you move me? Where do you want me to go?” When I didn’t receive an answer, I prayed and waited.
Although I really hate change and my stomach was quite unsettled, I answered one morning, “I am willing to go wherever you called me.” In that moment of submission, I felt like God was saying to me through unspoken words to my heart, “Understand there will be a sacrifice; but if you lean on me and relinquish control, I will give you new coordinates for your life and career. I know you’ve dreamed for many years about a specific type of job. If you go where I’m asking you to go, your dream will be realized. But it won’t be without a cost. Spiritual growth and trust in me will be necessary to see it through to the end.”
When I asked God what the path ahead would look like, desperately wanting a roadmap to make the process less intimidating, I felt like He was telling me it would look nothing like what I could anticipate, and I wouldn’t know all the answers until the end. But He knew. I just had to trust Him. As I considered the terms, I took a deep breath and watched as my season of change was set in motion.
The trust aspect became the greatest trial I faced. There were plenty of twists and turns and lots of confusion like a complex maze, just as God had warned. The process of moving took much longer than I thought it would. Patience is still an area in which God is constantly teaching and correcting me. Several days, weeks, and months passed before the process was complete. Also, there were multiple interviews at different places. When something appeared to be working out, it suddenly fell through, and I really didn’t know what or where to go until the last minute. Even after I arrived in my new workplace, I was in constant transition and helping in a couple different areas for several weeks. Although I struggled and change was hard, God was faithful and kept His promises, and I suddenly found myself with options to go into the field I love.
“Almost there! Just keep going!” I would tell myself. Some days, I said it to myself through tears. Did I mention change is hard? Sometimes, I wondered if I’d be in the Wilderness forever. For a restless heart, sometimes the waiting period can feel that way. It can be easy to lose your way and lose hope if you take your eyes off of Christ and focus on all the uncertainties. But God kept every word of the promises He gave me.
People often think of the Wilderness as punishment. They think of the Israelites wandering in the desolation for 40 years. Instead, it is usually a time of testing and trials intended to grow and strengthen us. It is a time of preparation for our next life chapter which requires more than previous situations had demanded. Wilderness moments, although sometimes extremely lonely and discouraging, is never without God’s grace (Mark 1:13). For me, the greatest experiences and often the closest I have felt to God occurred during my Wilderness moments. It makes the life struggles worth the perseverance when we see God move miraculous ways.
If you find yourself in your own Wilderness experience, take heart! You are not forgotten. God is preparing you for your next adventure. He’s giving you an opportunity to see Him move and to mature spiritually. You will see He is faithful, and you will eventually reach the end and discover your Promised Land.
May God’s peace, love, and joy accompany you along your life’s journey.