My Strong and Mighty Tower

If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you know my husband and I have seen our fair share of struggles over the past eight years; however, we’re probably not that different from you or someone you know. Let’s face it — sometimes life is hard. When we face difficult times, we have two choices. We can choose to give up and walk away from God, or choose to rely on Him for strength and believe the struggles do not define us, claim us, nor are they the end of the story.Lighthouse

As our family is facing another scary life situation, I am humbly reminded that I am not in control. Although anxiety no longer plagues me, I am still awake to visceral pain and anger I feel. I must acknowledge these feelings if I am honest with myself and others around me. It would be a lie to say I don’t battle myself and my humanity when facing problems; however, these emotions cannot be allowed to control me. The One who has control gives hope, and I’m called to remain hopeful and place all my cares upon Him.

Some people have suggested we should “give up and curse God” like Job’s wife once suggested to her husband because of all the struggles we’ve seen in our marriage, but why would I do that? God has always been faithful to deliver my husband and me from prior situations and has even positioned us mentally, physically, and circumstantially better than before the trouble started. Why would He change His promise now? The Bible promises His faithfulness is unwavering even though our lives shift like the sands with the tide, and my life can testify to this truth. He is my rock, my firm foundation, and my strong and mighty tower, shielding me from the storm. I am not promised a life without struggle, only that He will be there along the way to protect my heart, mind, and soul.

I have been asked before, “How can you believe in a God who is supposedly good who allows suffering, pain, and evil in this world?” My response is simple: He gives us free will, and the struggles we face are not the end of the story. As promised in Scripture, great suffering is equivalent to great blessings. Also, encouragement, love, and mercy are stronger than ever in the face of adversity. How many terrible events have you witnessed personally or seen in the news only to have stories of heroism, compassion, and love overshadow the negative outcome? Good will always prevail, and God is always for His people. Our personal testimonies of enduring and overcoming situations break the shackles that bind other people who are going through the same struggles. Our testimonies are hope and freedom.

Although the evil forces likely delight in causing or participating in the chaos that surrounds my husband and me, they cannot possibly fathom the depth of immeasurable goodness that has resulted with each trial. Our marriage is stronger than ever because God is at the center and binds us tightly together. Our personal fortitude endures because He sustains our strength. Our foundations cannot be shaken even as our lives shatter around us because He is steadfast and stable. If at the end of the day, all we have is the almighty God, we have all we could ever need.

If you find yourself in a rough situation in life, remember: rejoice in the testimony God will give you to bring hope to others around you! Your struggle is not the end of the story, and God will never let you see the battle withut first giving you the victory.

Confessions of a (Mostly) Reformed Control Freak

Okay, I admit it. I’m hopelessly addicted to trying to control my own situations and the outcomes — or at least I was. Now, I’m jumping into the abyss with both feet, and I’m learning how to not be afraid to fall.

Take a dive

People who don’t know me well may perceive my new found disregard for over-planning and over-strategizing to be reckless or naïve, but I assure you this assessment couldn’t be further from the truth. After years of trying to do things my own way, I’m finally learning to let go of my controlling death grip one finger at a time and just trust God. He is constantly faithful even when I fail to trust His plans and timing (Psalms 136:1-7).

My over-planning antics aren’t working so well. I have spent the majority of my life meticulously planning, strategizing, and implementing all sorts of scenarios, attempting to anticipate the outcomes. I feared the “what ifs?” of life, and anxiety was usually the root cause of the need to feel in control. Although I no longer battle the same level of unhealthy anxiety I once did (see blog post “My Encounter with the God of Love“), I’m hardheaded enough to still demand to do things my own way; and, as a result, I cause needless turmoil for myself along the way. I want to live a life without surprises and without heartache; but God continues to lovingly remind me that I’m never really in control no matter how hard I try (James 4:14-15).

Sometimes, painful experiences amplify spiritual immaturity or weaknesses. The biggest revelation regarding my control freak issues occurred within the past couple of years. I was confronted in my spirit that my struggle for control over the little things in life have caused me to be less willing to relinquish control over big things. In essence, I was indirectly demanding for God to take a backseat while I handled whatever the issue of the day was on my own. In my blog post “He is Worthy to be Trusted, Part 1: My story of hope during financial crisis”, I described the terrifying situation when my husband’s job and the family business was simultaneously lost shortly after he and I married. This was one of many circumstances God used to show me just how out of control I am and how sovereign and trust worthy He is. Glory be to the God who hears our cries and lifts us from the miry clay of our circumstances. As difficult as some situations can be, I don’t regret the out of control moments. The most spiritually growing times of my life have occurred in the midst of trial or pain.

God is a loving father. Do I believe God caused the job loss or the turmoil surrounding the situation? No, I have never believed He would do harm to His children, but I do know that He will use a bad situation to strengthen us, to teach us how to trust, and to grow closer to Him. Also, I believe the submissive act of relinquishing control allows God to use us. If you are willing to trust, He’ll never fail you, and you’ll never be too afraid to jump (Romans 8:28).

In Summary. I’m not trying to suggest with this blog post that planning and strategizing are bad efforts. They are good practices for aiding us with achieving the optimal goal. After all, you will rarely go anywhere without first planning to eventually end up somewhere. However, it’s important to remember that sometimes we don’t have all the answers and we need help. Sometimes, life is difficult and a situations get out of control. The good news is that God knows every situation and its outcome; He is always in control. The only way to know for sure if what God says about being worthy of trust is true is to hold you nose and take the plunge.

When He calls you to walk upon the water with Him, will you trust Him to guide you atop the violent waves of this life? The most liberating decision I ever made was just to trust God at His word and let the rest go.

 

 

 

My Encounter with the God of Love

I suffered from an anxiety disorder most of my life. In addition to this disorder, I felt shame and unworthy of God’s love and grace even though I had been a Christian for almost 20 years. But now, I can’t deny I’m loved.

In September 2012, I found myself sitting in a prayer service thanks to the strong urging Joy and freedomof a good friend. I remember listening to the live praise music and other Christians around me worshiping God with a love and adoration I didn’t yet understand. I felt nothing. After months of crying and begging God to pull me out of a desperate situation that had only deepened my anxiety and depression, I was completely drained.

“I know you’re real and powerful God, but where are you?” I remember thinking.

The prayer service message that night was all about oppression, mental and physical bondage and how our spirits are affected by these things. As the prayer director spoke, I realized I was the person who needed to hear the message.

“What an odd coincidence,” I remember thinking. But now I know it was a divine appointment.

When the message concluded, there was an opportunity for prayer and worship before we were dismissed. That’s when I felt a tug on my heart as if God was saying, “Go ask for prayer” – so I went to the alter. As the prayer director began to pray over me, she motioned for an intercessor to join us. The girl who assisted didn’t know my story, but immediately said words I’ll never forget, “God wants to know He hears your cries. You think He’s not listening; but He hears you, and He loves you. He calls you His precious daughter.”

After the young intercessor spoke, the prayer director placed her hand on my forehead and prayed for God to break the hold of spiritual oppression and restore my joy. Suddenly, I was overcome with an immediate feeling of immense love and joy. It struck me so hard and so fast that I felt like I might stagger backwards during the prayer, and that’s when the giggles started — and I couldn’t stop. During prayer, happiness overpowered me and the silly giggles increased into laughter. I felt the love of the Father completely engulf me, sweeping away the pain and the darkness that I have suffered from for so many years.

When the prayer ended, I realized I was a different person. My anxiety disorder was gone and peace had replaced it. I undeniably know that God loves me. I will never question His love for me again. For the first time in my life, I have learned to trust with my whole heart.

Thank you for reading to my story, and I hope it has encouraged you.

He is Miraculously Wonderful

A Friend’s Curious Question

A friend once asked me, “How can you live in this day and age and possibly believe Jesus was anything more than a good man? How can you believe ‘miraculous’ events of the Bible like Jesus being born of a virgin, living a sinless life, performing miracles, or resurrecting from the dead can be real?” Years ago, I had trouble explaining why I believe these things beyond retorting something like, “I believe it because the Bible says it happened.” These days, I know it must be true from the deepest corners of my soul.

When I was walking through some of the darkest moments of my life a couple of years ago, I was struggling with life events that left me feeling like my problems were bigger than God could possibly be. My heart ached for a God who was in control of all things, but my mind and my physical person were beaten down and unwilling to believe. I didn’t even realize at the time I had already replaced His sovereign ways for a lesser version. Although I had seen Him come to my rescue several other times before, the memory and passion of those events dulled over the years because I stopped looking to Him to provide for my daily needs. Suddenly, I found myself aimlessly drifting through this life, attempting to provide my own self-sufficience when faced with problems, and I was regularly overwhelmed by my circumstances.

A Hard Look

Through my battle with darkness, I was forced to take a hard look at what I believed and who I was as a person. In those moments of soul searching, I found a frail person, clinging to faith and truth by a wisp of understanding. Thank goodness for His mercies in providing eternal life for those of us with so little faith! I realized at that moment I didn’t understand even a hint of who He truly is or what He is capable of doing.

Day of Truth

At the climax of my struggles, I realized I couldn’t move forward another step without divine intervention. I had reached my limits; and, in my complete brokenness, I cried out for Him to release me from the burdens shackling me.

As I’ve learned time and again over the years, the moments that cause us to release control is when we see His powerful glory manifest. He is a loving father. He is a powerful healer. He answers prayer and fulfills the needs of His children. He was powerful in ancient times, and He’s just as powerful now!

At the risk of sounding a little crazy, here is a list of what I’ve seen Him do in my life and in the lives of others:

– He redirected the path of my life in an instant of hearing my cries for help with too many coincidental factors for it to possibly only be coincidence.

– He completely healed a young man of an inoperable, supposedly fatal case of lymphoma.

– He healed a close family friend of spinal cancer.

– He healed a pair of legs (mine!) from severe shin splints without a trace of pain, discoloration, or swelling left behind — within an instant!

– He touched a dear friend of mine who was coming down with the flu, immediately curing her and removing fever from her skin during prayer.

– He has powerfully transformed the lives of people close to me who simply found the courage to trust Him as their Savior.

I’ve also felt His nudges, heard His voice, and literally felt Him peel away the oppression tormenting my troubled spirit through those dark days. I’ve never looked back because I’ll never be the same person. As promised in His Word, I am a new creation (Ephesians4:23-24). It’s undeniable to know He is real when He shakes us to the core!

Final Thought

As each day passes, I find it easier to believe what’s been written about Him in the Bible. After all that’s happened, how could I not believe He is real? What do you believe?