Tag Archives: God’s Love

The Fog

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The Fog

When Paula came home from Atlanta the last time – she was in, as they say in Hospice, a very delicate condition.  In fact she came home in a private medical jet because the hospital believed she wouldn’t survive the 10-hour drive.  Her friends rallied together so her husband could continue to work and we took shifts caring for her.

When I initially walked into her home for my first shift and saw my beautiful friend laying on the couch it dawned on me that this might be the end and I bit back the tears that threatened.  You see, Paula has cancer.  If you’ve read me for a while you recognize her name.  She was diagnosed before me but was there for me through every step of my treatment, leading the way, plying me with ginger chews and bible verses and toasty socks and lotions, and a safe, godly ear for me to whisper into.

Walking through her door that first day was shocking. She was flat out on the couch under a pile of blankets and could not speak well, walk, or control the shaking in her hands that were puffy with steroids. She was on oxygen 24/7 and a regimen of oxycodone and other drugs and was only occasionally lucid.  As the weeks went on I continued to take my turns sitting with her, helping her eat, and perform other vital necessities.  Since she slept most of the time I busied myself with reading, writing, working on my book, and dozing off myself every once in a while.

We continued on like this for weeks and even though I prayed for healing a part of me was watching my friend sink further and further away from us and I asked God a few times if this wasn’t the end.

That was, until last week.

My ‘visiting’ day that week was Friday and I walked into Paula’s house to find the morning-shift friend smiling at me and Paula sitting up on the couch, her eyes bright, and a wide smile on her face.  I can tell you now, I was more than a little freaked out.  My friend was back to her perky self.

“It’s so good to see you.” She said.  A weird thing to say when I had just seen her the week before.

But as the day progressed I was to discover that Paula remembered nothing of the past eight weeks.  Nothing – save the constant ringing of the doorbell on Halloween.

She remembered going to Atlanta that last time and then … nothing until last Sunday when she, as she said, “Woke up from my fog.”

I was dumbfounded.  Had God spared her the mental anguish of the last eight weeks by closing her mind to what was happening to her physically?  No one had an answer for it but I wouldn’t put it past Him to do such a thing.  That’s how much He loves us.

But that wasn’t the half of the miracle – here was my lovely friend Paula.  Sitting up – and I mean UP (not propped up!) eating, talking, joking, laughing, with only a small shake in her hands to offer any lasting evidence.  Her legs and arms were still mighty weak but that first day she walked with her walker, crossed her legs on the sofa like any proper lady, and held lasting coherent conversations.  Even though she continued to freak me out as I watched her, I praised God for His miraculous healing.

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It’s been four weeks since that day and Paula’s now moving around without the walker, has been out of the house to shop and dine and go to a Christmas party, and continues to amaze.

God is truly astounding.

Never give up praying.  Never stop praising Him.

Never give up believing that God will intervene.  I know that many times He doesn’t, and we won’t ever know why this side of Heaven, but sometimes He does.  In both times, in all times, we must pray, and believe, and have faith, and praise Him continuously.

I’m learning that now, more than ever.

 

ScripturePicture: Ephesians 3:17

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It’s so true, isn’t it?

The longer you’re in God’s Word and following Jesus, you build up trust and faith in Him and strength in His continued love and faithfulness.

When God tells you he’ll never leave you, He’s serious.  If your roots are strong, you can weather any storm or trial you might encounter.

So sink your roots down into His fertile soil and get ready to grow stronger in your faith.

 

 

Feeding 5,000 & Other Miracles

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Feeding 5,000 & Other Miracles

Recently we discussed the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in a Bible Bite of John 6:12, which if you missed, you can just click HERE and have a nosh.

But let’s not stop there.  I wanted to turn that Bible Bite into a full blown Scripture Snack and look at the next verse too!

So they collected them and filled 12 baskets with the pieces from the five barley loaves that were left over by those who had eaten. ~ John 6:13

What’s so interesting is that along with John, Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record this miracle and each mentions 12 baskets of scraps.  In the Bible, the number 12 usually signifies God’s power and authority.  There were 12 tribes of Israel, 12 disciples, 12,000 of 12 tribes (144,000) to witness in the end times. {Check out biblestudy.org which goes into great detail about the number 12 in the Bible.}

It’s certainly a marvelous display of His divine authority to multiply five barley cakes and two fish from a young boy’s sack lunch!

Loaves and FishesWe don’t know how large the baskets were.  Were they small handmaiden, Sunday-go-to-meetin’ baskets or were they large collecting hay and straw baskets?  Does it matter?  There were over 5,000 people that ate their supper on a mountainside that day provided by a blessed-by-God sack lunch.

Who is this then who can feed over 5,000 with a few choice items?

And does He continue to send us the miracle of multiplication today?  He sure does, and I’m a witness.

Dateline Chandler, Arizona and I was attending a small group going through the ALPHA program.  The hosts are a lovely couple and each Wednesday night as we gathered for group, they would feed us dinner prior to our worship and study.  Eventually the group began to divvy up the responsibility and soon we were each bringing a portion – making it a pot luck meal.  It’s also important to know that the hosts have two sons that were both steeped in ministry in different churches.  So we had a core group of 12 participants plus at any given time we might have up to 4 guests.

One week, close to the end of the program, we had planned a fried chicken dinner.  Two people would each bring a 20-piece bucket of chicken from KFC and the rest of us added the sides and desserts.  On that Wednesday night I arrived with my ‘famous’ potato salad in hand, and walked into the house where an issue was erupting – one of the group members’ car had broken down and two people had forgotten their food.  The main concern was that the person who had broken down was one of the ones that was supposed to bring chicken making our total 20 pieces chicken for 13 people.

We decided as a group that we’d start by everyone having one piece of chicken and load up on sides.  I took a thigh and passed the bucket to the man next to me who loaded his plate with three pieces!  I started to say something but then realized that (1) he hadn’t been in the room when we discussed the one-piece business and (2) the bucket was almost around the table so everyone would get chicken.

After we’d finished eating a couple of the participants had gotten up for seconds and the guy who had been next to me walked back to the table with another piece of chicken!  My mouth watered as I watched him tuck in so I got up hoping that there might be a wing left in the bucket.  I peered in and was surprised to see two pieces of chicken left – a wing and a thigh.  I scooped up the wing and made quick work of it.

We finished dinner and moved into the living room to begin the study.  While we were immersed in Pastor Gumbel’s video message and subsequent discussion, the host’s two sons arrived.  I overheard their Mom tell them that there probably wasn’t much left but they were welcome to whatever was there.  We continued to discuss our study and both sons filled their plates and came in to join us.  I was amazed to see that BOTH had TWO pieces of chicken on their plates!  Driving home that evening I contemplated chicken.

When I took the last wing out of the bucket there was one piece left – a thigh.  I quickly start to think about what everyone ate at dinner.  I know that 4 guys had (at least) 2 pieces each (8), I had 2 pieces (10), the guy next to me had 4 pieces (14), and everyone at the table ate chicken so I figured that the remaining 4 women and 3 children each had one piece (21) and then the boys came home and had 2 pieces each (25).  I was astounded!  I counted up the numbers over and over making sure my math was right.

Arriving at ALPHA the next week I was so enthusiastic to discuss my observations I didn’t even sit down before starting, “Before we get started I have to discuss something about last week’s dinner.”

The group looked expectantly at me and the host blurted out, “The miracle of multiplication!”  Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had caught what God had done.  I smiled and looked at him, his eyes were twinkling.

“We witnessed a miracle, didn’t we?” I asked.  He agreed and we filled the group in on what had happened.  As I laid out what I deduced I was interrupted as several of guys revealed they’d actually had three pieces and a couple of the ladies had two rather than the one I’d concluded.  If all that wasn’t amazing enough … remember the guy who sat next to me stuffing down all that chicken?  He pronounced that he couldn’t believe I’d left that thigh in the bucket and figuring that everyone was done eating, he ate the thigh!  That meant that by the time the host’s sons arrived, there actually was an empty bucket – should have been an empty bucket and yet they pulled out 4 pieces of chicken.  Isn’t God great?  We had such a glorious time of worship that night … pouring out our love to our Father … our amazing Provider.

In hind sight it was silly, really. God providing chicken to some of the best fed people in the world.  He didn’t have to do it, no one in that room was anywhere close to actual need, no one was going to go hungry, and no one was dying of starvation.  But He did it anyway ~ He broke chicken and fed us all until we were full with no scraps left over.

What a blessing!  How astounding that the Creator of the Universe provides for us!

Has He provided for you in some manner?  Let me know!

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*** One other juicy tidbit: this miracle (the feeding of the 5,000) is one of only two miracles that appear in all four Gospels.  The other being Jesus’ own resurrection.

 

Through Jesus’ Eyes

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Through Jesus’ Eyes

I was thinking the other day about how Jesus loved everyone while He walked on earth.  Of course He loves everyone even today, but think about it.  He loved every sinner … the lame, the diseased, the hungry, the poor, the disciples, Herod, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and even us, before we were born.  Every. Single. One.

And we’re supposed to be like Him.

Huh?

I can’t do that.

I want to, but I always seem to fall short of the goal.  My selfish nature worms its way into the mix and trips me up.

Oh, I’ve gotten better at it the longer I’ve walked with God, but it’s still a struggle and I often wonder if I’ll ever be like Christ.

Some of my favorite scriptures about this can be found in 1 John 3: 16, 18, and 23:

16 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us.  We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.

18 Little children, we must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth;

23 Now this is His command: that we believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another as He commanded us.

Can I love others better?

Absolutely.  I’d hate to think that I couldn’t grow from where I sit today.  But how to do that?  Where to start?

I started by asking God to help me to see people through His eyes.  He didn’t waste any time answering me.

Within days I noticed a slightly perceptible change in the way I was viewing people.  I might be able to describe the change like this … people started looking softer to me.  Fuzzy around the edges.  More pliable, perhaps weaker … but not in a bad way.  Easily injured.  Almost as though everyone’s heart was very close to the surface, even if they thought that they had thick skin.

Lots of changes came quickly for me after that, but most importantly was the way I treated others.  I became outwardly kinder – more considerate.  I’m softer with others.  Not so quick to judge.  And if I do make that mistake, I apologize – quickly – to the person and to God.

I also started really listening to the way people spoke to each other.  Sometimes I overhear one person talking to another and I cringe.  I wonder … if we even had half a clue about the damage our speech does to others would we stop?  Would we zip our lips?  If we could see the internal destruction, would we place our heads in our hands and cry?

If we didn’t I don’t think we could call ourselves Christ’s followers.

Will you try this, this weekend, dear friend?  Will you ask God to show you how He sees people?  Be ready.  He will do it and you will be astounded.

Prayer:

Father, please be gentle with us.  We know you want us to grow into a mirror image of your Son, but we are mere humans, warriors for you and yet fragile beings in this sinful world we live in.  Help us to view others through your eyes and keep us strong through the reality we will begin to see.  Through this change in understanding we will become stronger and more able to bring your love to the world.  In the name above every other name, our Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

ScripturePicture: Deuteronomy 32:2

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De 32-2

I’m thirsty.

Are there days when you get up and get moving and don’t stop to read His word?

Me too.

And on those days do you find yourself, perhaps mid-day, craving Him?  Oh you know immediately what the “problem” is … you know what’s wrong.

You didn’t allow Him to talk to you that morning and now you feel empty.

It’s not enough to pray – I pray all the time.  Devotionals are not enough – I read a few of those most mornings.  But I need HIM in my life – daily.  As surely as some people need their hit of caffeine in the morning – I need my full measure of God.

I’m writing this Tuesday (yesterday) afternoon after running around all day from about the moment I fell out of bed.  If I don’t go talk to Him right now and let His love and His teaching wash over me, I’m going to go cray cray … I think literally.

If you haven’t yet today, go pour yourself a tall cool glass of Him and quench your thirst.

I’ll see you by the water cooler,

Felecia

 

Bible Bite: Mark 4:41

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Bible Bite: Mark 4:41

A Bible Bite is a little tidbit that I run across that irks me and controls my thoughts until the Holy Spirit helps me to break through the miasmas to teach me some lesson. 

During Paula and my bible study, we were talking about standing stronger by walking in faith (Day 27 of the 28-day study).  I grew increasingly distressed during the scriptures of Mark 4: 35-41.  Jesus had been teaching using several parables (vv. 1-34) at the side of the Sea of Galilee.  As night fell, He told the disciples they were going to go over to the other side of the sea and they all hopped in a boat.

As they sailed, Jesus slept in the aft of the boat and a wind brewed up that whipped up the waves so forcefully that they were crashing over the sides of the boat and threatening to capsize.  Yet, Jesus slept.

The disciples woke Him up concerned that He was going to let them drown and He got up and rebuked the wind and the sea with, “Silence, be still!”  He turned then to the disciples and asked, “Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?”

What amazed me most was the next verse, Mark 4:41:

“And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”

Terrified?  Why were they terrified?  I didn’t get it.  The disciples had been with Jesus for a while at this point and had seen miracle after miracle.  What terrified them now?

And they asked each other, “Who is this then?”  How could it be that they forgot who Jesus was?

Part of the keys are in Jesus questions.  First He asks, “Why are you afraid?”  I love being on this side of the situation.  We’re reading about an incident in the Bible and have the benefit of being able to take a global view. Do you (like me) often find yourself shaking your head at what some Biblical one is doing or saying at any given time?  I do that until I realize that in some way I’m just like them … ahem … and then keep reading to learn from these Saints who have gone before.

“Why are you fearful” (my HCSB states)?  Why are they fearful?  Jesus said when they got into the boat that they were going to the other side.  Surely He knew the boat would be caught in a storm, but He wasn’t worried because He fell asleep.  (Another aside: I like to see Jesus’ humanness here – He slept because He’d been teaching all day and was tired.  The Son of God gets tired. I love that little bit of insight.)

But back to the question at hand.  In Warren W. Weirsbe’s Exposition Commentary, he notes, “… for the greatest danger was not the wind or the waves; it was the unbelief in the hearts of the disciples.” Further, “It was their unbelief that caused their fear, and their fear made them question whether Jesus really cared.  “We must aware of an evil heart of unbelief.” (Heb 3:12).1

“Do you still have no faith,” Jesus asks?   Jesus asks these questions as a way to test the disciples.  Just how far have they come?  How much do they or don’t they believe?

How often do we continue to wonder if God is really all that He says He is?  How often are we shown His grace, His mercy, His faithfulness, His very deity, and still we forget the works He has done?  Can we be that stiff-necked?  That hard-hearted?  Nincompoops to the core?  Yep.  And still He loves us!  Still He’s patient with us and He who started a good work in us will carry it on to completion. (Phil 1:6)

It was true that the disciples had seen Jesus’ many miracles. They’d seen him cast out demons, heal people, and forgive sins but now – Weirsbe ends the section this way, “Now they discovered that He even had authority over the wind and the sea.  This meant that they had no reason ever again to be afraid, for their Lord was in constant control of every situation.”2

Is Jesus your Lord?  Then we must understand completely – we have no reason to ever be afraid.  Ever.

That, my friends, is freedom.

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1 Warren W. Weirsbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: New Testament Volume 1, 2nd ed, (Colorado, David C. Cook), 125.

2 Weirsbe, 125.

 

ScripturePicture ~ Psalm 8: 3-4

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It’s one of the questions I wondered aloud to My Guardian (aka: The Lord).

Ps 8-3 LG

Its something I don’t think I’ll ever understand this side of Heaven.

I remember a time when I was mentioning to an unsaved friend that Satan had been pestering me in my dreams.  I told her that I was going to have to remember to ask God to keep me safe from him while I slept.

She said, “You really think God cares about your dreams?”

“Yes.” I stated.  “He loves us so much He cares about every little thing that affects us.”

Something to remember when you think you have no one to turn to.

Turn to Him and speak.

He’s listening.

 

Cross to Bear ~ 2

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This story started on Friday.  If you missed that, you’ll be lost today. So here’s a quick link to pop back and catch yourself up!

As I placed the nozzle back in the pump, I walked around the back of the car and my newest decal loomed large … a reminder of who’s I am and whom I’ve just disgraced …

† = ♥

I hung my head in shame and slid back into my car.

In my head I replayed what I said to the station manager.  Was that anyway to treat another human being?  What did that outburst say about me as a Christ follower?  I shook my head in disgust.  Some witness!  Paul can survive beatings and floggings and stonings and I can’t persevere through an argument without coming unglued.  I still have so much to learn!

By the time I was ready for bed that evening the weight of the sin-millstone around my neck was palpable.  The incident and the implications of the fallout weighed heavy on my mind for the rest of the day and I knew I couldn’t go one more minute before I had to get down on my knees that night and cry, begging forgiveness from my Lord and Savior.  I went to bed with a beautiful peace on my heart, but still mortified by the way I had acted that day.

The ever-present oily pit of black goo roiled in my soul.  I imagine it to be a pool of sin sloshing back and forth in my soul.  Sometimes it lays dormant for a while, other times it bubbles up and leaks out.  Now, I don’t want you to think that I’m in a constant state of consternation – far from it.  I fully accept the grace God affords me after I repent and ask forgiveness for my sin.  My heart and spirit are somehow lighter knowing He forgets my sin “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 (NIV).  It’s just that as I come to love the Lord more and more I am ever so much more saddened when I sin.  I know I hurt His heart.  I know I disappoint Him.  All sin is an act against God.  I love how Jerry Bridges puts it in his book Respectable Sins:

“Even though our hearts have been renewed, even though we have been freed from the absolute dominion of sin, even though God’s Holy Spirit dwells within our bodies, this principle of sin still lurks within us and wages war against our souls.”

Even though we are believers, we have a tendency to evaluate our behavior by how it relates to the society in which we live.  Since as Christians, we’re usually operating at a higher moral standard than those around us, it’s easier to get caught up in feeling good about ourselves and how we behave – even though we are sinning all along.  We must watch out for that trap.  Can’t you just see Satan grinning with joy?

Unbelievably, I hadn’t even read Day 14 when the incident at the gas station occurred.  As I opened up the bible study the following day I couldn’t help but see my sin all over its pages.  Convicted over and over again (but not condemned because I’d already received forgiveness from God).  Unfortunately, there were other recent incidents where I had opened my mouth inappropriately and these occurrences tugged at my heart.  I hadn’t confessed those to the Lord yet.  I’d pushed them aside as acceptable sins.  The bottom line – would I ever learn to keep my big yap shut?

Kay asks, “If I want to live this life (a life sold out for Jesus), am I willing to pay the price?”

Am I willing to really come to grips with my inability to keep my mouth closed when it isn’t necessary to speak?  Am I able to look with such love toward others that a critical thought never enters my mind again?  It’s certainly become a prayer of mine.

Think this week about your cross.  Or at least one of them – because I know I have many myself!  What can you, once and for all, give up to Christ by next weekend?  What can you cut out of yourself like fisherman gutting a newly caught snapper – all for the sake of Jesus?  I don’t think we have time to waste, my friends.  Jesus may arrive at any time and I want to see you on that narrow path with me!

Bolder Prayer Answered

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Bolder Prayer Answered

This part of the current series began Monday, so if you’re lost, please feel free to go HERE to catch up.

Reminder: Events detailed in the last post happened on a Wednesday evening.

My phone rang Thursday afternoon and Lisa was at the other end.  Not only had she secured the full-time job and was due to start on Monday, she also happened to meet a man that morning who happened to have a 2-bed apartment for rent at a decent price.  On top of it – the apartment was within walking distance of her new job.  Additionally, the landlord waived the application fee (which normally runs $65 – $75) and asked only for first month’s rent and a security deposit.  On top of all of that generosity, the landlord decreased the price of the security deposit asking only 1/3 of what he would normally ask.  Yet, even with all these breaks she was still $20 short.  I agreed to meet her the following day to assist with the $20.

Hanging up the phone I was overcome with excitement.  I praised God so hard my cheeks hurt!  GOD IS ABLE!  We asked and He immediately delivered!  An apartment and a job within 24 hours!  I instantly called the ladies at my table and informed them of the good news.  But we also had more work to do.  Lisa literally had nothing except for some clothes and her car.  She was going to need everything to start a household and food for at least two weeks before she got paid.  We prayed and once again God came through.

The ladies from my women’s ministry table responded with a variety of furniture ~ a bureau and mirror here, a bookcase there, a table and two chairs over here, and someone got two brand new beds donated by a neighborhood shop!  It was amazing.  It was incredible!  The love poured out of us and the community just for this one girl and her son.

This.  Was.  God.

The next day I met Lisa and her son at the local Chik-fil-A and pressed $40 that I could ill afford into her hands.  I told her I’d see her on Saturday because once she got into her apartment we’d be by with food and the furniture we’d managed to locate.  One of the ladies had also gotten a men’s group from the church to help load and unload the furniture and perform any other manly chores that needed to be done.

Later that day, as I was finishing up an emergency counseling session; I told my counselee that I was off to visit some yard sales to see if I could find dishes or pots and pans.  She looked at me quizzically and I filled her in on my young friend’s plight.  The woman sitting on the other side of the table just stared at me.  She told me she was preparing for a garage sale in a few weeks and I could come over tomorrow morning and see if the girl could use anything she was getting rid of.  What a godsend!  I jumped at the chance and arranged to drop by her place on Saturday morning.

I didn’t really know what to expect from what she was gathering for her garage sale, but I had my mental checklist – a couple of plates, bowls, and maybe some silverware and other cooking utensils.  When I arrived at her house it was obviously she’d worked putting together what she thought Lisa might need.  She’d already boxed up an entire set of dishware, an full set of utensils, silverware, 2 skillets, 2 pots, several pieces of bakeware, some platters, a creamer and sugar, plus – plus – plus.  I pulled out my wallet and asked what she wanted for the lot and she waved her hand at me.  She wanted to give them to Lisa and her son.  Her generosity was overwhelming and I couldn’t thank her enough.

I left my counselee’s home and headed toward Wal-Mart for food and other essentials like linens and basic kitchen implements.  I was thinking specifically of a coffee pot. I wanted to ensure she could feed herself and her son for the next two weeks.  On my way there I received a call from one of the ladies at our table who couldn’t participate in shopping but wanted me to have some cash to get what we needed and she met me at the entrance to Wal-Mart.  God is so good!

As I roamed the aisles I marveled at how God provided for His children within the small space of three days.  Each of my steps was filled with praise.  Each item I put into the basket was accompanied by words of gratitude.  People were looking at me oddly but I didn’t care.  I knew I was beaming with joy!  Sure, I was praising and worshiping God for His favor on Lisa and her son, but I was also praying for my bank account which had little to nothing in it.  There were a couple of times when I felt a pesky twinge to stop shopping, to stop giving, but I beat those thoughts back believing them to be from the enemy and let God know that I was looking for His provision as well.  I knew that He would either replace the money I was spending or that I wouldn’t miss it.

But God didn’t stop there.  He was going to give Lisa and her son immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20) whether we liked it or not!  On Sunday (day 4) another woman from our table who hadn’t been present on Wednesday and wouldn’t be with us the next week stopped me in the hallway before church with a donation for Lisa.

Then after one of the services that Sunday I prayed at the altar with an older woman.  As we finished up I watched her eyes flitter back and forth to my name tag.  I smiled and pronounced my name for her.  She smiled and shaking her head, asked me if I knew of a family who needed help.  I’m sure the look on my face was priceless and I briefly explained what was happening with Lisa and her son.  She then took a 20 dollar bill out of her Bible and gave it to me saying that God had told her to give it to me for the young family.

To this day, I cannot adequately explain my delight at being part of God’s blessing on Lisa and her son.  I remember walking out of the sanctuary that day like I was in some sort of dream.

Or maybe I was in heaven.

I could genuinely feel God’s pleasure in my bewilderment at what had transpired over the last four days.  If God were walking next to me at that moment I believe He would have poked me in the ribs and guffawed, “Aha! Gotcha!”

The following Wednesday our table met together and I filled the ladies in on the Sunday’s happenings.  Lisa had appeared to thank everyone for everything they’d done.  But we just laughed knowing it wasn’t us, but God who had performed miracles.

We asked Him for the impossible, trusted Him to provide, and He did.  AND HE DID!!!

When I mentioned the sensation of God being so pleased that He could stun us all into awestruck wonder, I was met by nods.  Seems I wasn’t the only one who’d gotten that feeling.

How great is our God?

Greater then we can ever imagine.

And join me on Friday for the rest of story.  Yes, believe it or not, there is more.

May His love fill you beyond measure.

Bible Study: Day One

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Bible Study: Day One

In the take away for Day One of the Bible Study, David Arthur asked us to write our story.  Here, then, is my testimony:

Hind sight is 20/20, right?  Isn’t that what they say?  When I recall my life in the years before I surrendered to Christ I can see that God was with me the whole time.

God was with me.  Through all of it.

He was with me through the pot-smoking, the speed-popping, and just half a Quaalude-please-taking.

He was with me when I was so starved for affection and acceptance; I gave my body to any man who showed any interest in me.

He was with me through all the years I spent getting educated and, I thought, sophisticated.  When what I really was doing was walking away from Him.  Determined to prove I didn’t need Him.  That I could do my life better.  Cut my own path through the forest, be self-reliant and self-dependent, and that I could make my own religion.

He watched silently as I took a little piece of most every ism and belief and new-age, occult idea that I stumbled across and somehow managed to crumple them all up in a little ball, wave a magic wand, and call the mess:  “What I Believe.”

Today, I can only shake my head in sadness.  I was so off-track.

Running the other way … the wrong way … and all the time away from God.

I told myself lies to pretend I was doing life right.  That I felt good.  That I was happy.

I told myself that I’d arrived.  You’re making great money.  You’ve got a great job.  You’re successful.  Your parents are proud and your friends are jealous!

Now this is living!

But it wasn’t.

I was dead inside.

There was a deep crevice inside of me.  A deep fissure in my soul filled with black goo that sometimes would lay dormant, sloshing around just enough to remind me it was there; but most of the time it would roll and boil and whisper that I still needed more to fill it up.  That the crevice might be closed with the wrong people and more possessions and alcohol and cigarettes and food.

I slaved away at work to fill the empty pit inside of me.  But I was never full.  I never was content.

I was existing … but I wasn’t living.

How do I know that God was with me through it all?

Because when I did drugs and got drunk I didn’t like the way I felt.  Something inside said, “Stop it. This isn’t what you need.”

Because when I laid down with which ever male walked into my life, and started to lose myself in fleeting affections, something inside said, “Stop this. You are worth more.”

Because even though I practiced divination with tarot cards, numerology, and astrology and offered praise and worship to the four directions with sage and tobacco; any time I had a big question … a really important question … something inside me said, “Open your Bible.”

Some thing inside … that ‘thing’ would be God’s Holy Spirit.

He was with me.

Waiting my whole life for me to need Him.  To be quiet long enough in my own head to hear Him.

And one day I did.

Like a rush of love and frustration and heat and passion and hope and glory, I looked at the shambles of my life and fell to my knees in the middle of my lonely apartment and cried out …

God!  I need you!

And as I cried, God loved me.

Then He told me how I didn’t need to cloud my judgment and dull my pain with drugs and alcohol – how I was His precious child and worth more than I was being treated by men who only wanted my body – how I needed to turn to Him for guidance and answers in my life and not tarot and numbers and stars.  How I was His beautiful daughter and He loved me.

No, God had never left me.

He had always been with me.  Waiting for me.

After I made the choice to follow Jesus, it took a while to kick the dust and dirt and disgrace of the world off me.  I lost some friends because I began changing.  I no longer wanted to sleep around and drink until I was drunk.  I only wanted to learn everything I could about the Messiah.  The man who died for me so I wouldn’t have to be a slave to sin and the way the world thinks and operates.  And as I learned my heart swelled with love for my Savior.

I discovered that the Bible is filled with so much wisdom and hope and love that you need no other book.  I understood that finding a church that teaches biblical truth is vitally important, and that meeting up with other Christ Followers who will help educate and inspire and encourage is the tender and beautiful fellowship my heart ached for.

Once I got my feet planted firmly on the path following Jesus a genuine peace settled in and began to pour into the pit of black goo, covering it … neutralizing it … cleansing it.  Once I received my spiritual gifting from the Holy Spirit, I began to use it for the church, both local and universal.  Once I started speaking to God, He spoke to me and our relationship flourished.  And now there is joy.  So. Much. Joy.

He Is Forever with me and I am forever with Him.

If you’re participating in the Bible Study with us, on Friday we’ll discuss “Who is God?” from Day Two.  Specifically, God’s attributes that most intrigue us and what verse we’re working on memorizing.  See you then!