“…[Jesus] cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.'” John 11:43-44 (ESV)
My husband and I stood at an impasse. He longed to move ahead with adoption. I wanted no more than the two kids we already had. My mind was made up after waffling for years.
It hadn’t always been that way. Steve and I had long envisioned a house filled with both biological and adopted children.
But a diagnosis struck during my second pregnancy, making any future attempts potentially deadly. Two kids, 16 months apart, the stress of two in diapers, two potty training, two requiring so much of me while I still reeled from a life-changing diagnosis – I came to believe even one more would be too much. Our dream needed to be buried.
Guilt pressed me. I longed for Steve to understand, to realize that the blessings we already had were enough, to grasp that anything more could push my health over the edge and literally kill me.
And so we lived for several years – teetering between our original dream he refused to release, all the while loving me completely, and the dream I’d placed in the ground and grieved. Disunity gnawed. Fear held me back from nakedly approaching God to hear His heart.
A friend watched my children one day so I could get some work done. After just a couple of hours on my own, I felt the Lord stirring me, drawing me near. It was my lunch break, but food was the last thing on my mind.
Walking to the center of my silent living room, I hit my knees, tears slipping down my face. I finally had the courage to ask the question I’d avoided for so long: “Lord, what’s holding me back from adopting?” His response was swift, kind and loving, yet holding nothing back.
“Fear. And your distrust that I will take care of everything.”
His words struck like a pinprick in my heart, piercing the deepest parts of who I am. A question hovered in that thin place: Would I continue to be ruled by fear, or would I choose to trust Him completely?
In a span of minutes, the buried dream came to life. Everything I’d known five minutes earlier fell away, adamant refusal transformed into exhilarated longing.
When my husband came home, I laid out my resurrection story, giving him the gift of a wife who refused to cower before fear. God performed a miracle before our eyes – hearts reunified, vision restored, hope uplifted.
The Lord knows where our children are. He’ll put all things together in His perfect timing. He’s got this. After all, He’s still raising the dead to life.
Is there a dream you’ve buried? Are you willing to place it before the Lord?
Yesterday was one of those ugly, in-the-trenches mom days. Hours spent in the car shuffling around town to all the places we needed to be. A long wait at the doctor’s office with two kids and a baby in tow. Feeling well-covered in all the fluids that babies make (I’ll leave that one there…). Two kids with questions that seemed never to end and a baby who just wouldn’t sleep…at all. And it seemed that everything that possibly could go wrong did.
Some of the thoughts that passed through my head included:
I don’t know if I can make it…
If I hear “Mom!” one more time, I swear….
It would feel so great to throw the remote straight at the TV right now…or punch a wall…
You know? One of “those” days. Just. Barely. Hanging. On.
Then, this morning, my alarm went off early, as it does on Wednesdays so I can go write. But I was confused. In all the mess of yesterday, I’d completely forgotten that today would be a new day, with new hopes and new happenings. I could get up, grab a cup of coffee and spend some time doing something I love, soaking in grace and the fresh mercies that come with every morning.
Here’s the problem with those problem days…When we allow ourselves to be defined by our fears, our feelings, our failures, rather than be defined by the Father. The problem isn’t that the difficult days come. We were told that they would.
It’s not strange to have a difficult day where everything feels upended. But what will we do with those days? What truths will emerge from those fiery trials? Here are a few truths I walked away with after yesterday:
My God is incredibly gracious and forgiving. Without Him, I am utterly lost.
My husband is my hero. (Thanks, babe, for listening to me vent, dropping everything to pick up the kids from class, picking up dinner, checking on the baby when he started to cry, handling the moments of discipline the evening brought, tossing in some laundry, and still managing to put up some drywall in our current room under renovation…all after coming home from your own long day at work.)
My kiddos have amazing brains and hearts that want to help. All their questions just reveal the depths of their inquisitiveness and the honor I have of guiding them into wisdom and knowledge.
Showers wash away the ickiness on my skin and mercy washes away the ickiness in my soul. Pretty simple. I just need to choose to grab that shower when I have a free moment and receive the mercy handed to me at every moment.
So, what will your day hold? What has it already been like? And what truths will you carry away from it?
Will you choose to be defined by the fears that attack? Or the feelings that shift? Or the failing moments? Or will you, rather, be defined today by the Father who’s standing right by your side, hands full of forgiveness and grace just for you?
photo via Pixabay
Sitting easy at a coffee shop, hugging the warmth of my cup, struggling to know where to begin when the hardness pounds me upon waking. Having opened my eyes to a message of desperation and despair, beginning a day with heartbreak where hope was anticipated, I could pray for so many answers, but the only true answer is Jesus. For my loved ones in the midst of messy custody battles, I hurt, I ache, I pray. I want smoothness and ease and resolution. I want safety and communication and forgiveness. But, most of all, I want Jesus to be on both sides of the wall that now separates. With wars and disease, genocide and slavery everywhere I look, everything I read; with marriages on the rocks and children caught in between; the walls stand tall, seeming to grow each day, between the sides and differing perspectives.
When I look around, I see heartache and very real, very intense pain. I see children abused, ripped from the only families they know, and oftentimes returned to the place where the abuse first occurred. I see little ones used as pawns in domestic disputes. I see the depth of pain when the color of skin divides. I see the hardened hearts, attempting to protect themselves from further attack. I see the disillusioned and the bitter.
Can we look just beyond? Can the eyes of our hearts – covered by the rubble left from a lifetime of battles – can they begin to see again?
There was a time when life and knowledge grew on trees and we could see them. There was a time when the sound of rustling leaves we heard was the swinging legs of the Almighty walking in the Garden – where physical and spiritual met, where our eyes could perceive with equal clarity the physical items before us as well as the spiritual. This time will come again.
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations…And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:1-2, 5)
While the hurt and broken and disillusioned may feel stuck like a pawn in the middle of God’s twisted game, the truth is just beyond. God isn’t pushing us around on a giant chess board. He’s never wanted control of robotic, unfeeling, disconnected pawns. He longs for mutual love, which is a choice, which can never be forced. So the choices we make and the choices other imperfect humans make are what move us. Some of those humans listen to the truth of God, some listen to lies of the enemy, but each one directly intertwines with and affects others.
Those things we ask for – clarity, justification, revenge, the upholding of our cause – those things, themselves, aren’t the answers. The answer is freedom. “Freedom is when you engage the presence of God and become the person you are created and redeemed to be.” (Bob Hamp)
And freedom is found in truth.
And truth is found in Christ.
In a relationship, not a religion or a set of rules.
In intimate knowing, not intellectual ascent.
Adam and Eve looked upon life dangling from a tree branch. Jews and Romans alike stood looking up at the Source of life hanging on a tree. And all forsook life in favor of a lie. Their intentions weren’t to seek out death. The lie appeared to them to be wisdom.
What brokenness to do you face today? What heartache and uncertain thing? Without a doubt, the enemy will take that difficulty, that pain, and give you his interpretation, full of lies. Will you listen?
Or, will you choose to believe that God has a word about that very same situation? Will you step out and hear the truth He’s speaking? Will you choose His life over the lie?
How do you deal with loss? When you’ve had no say in a situation and you find yourself with a huge, gaping hole in your life. Here’s Shiuli’s story, a young Nepalese woman who found hope in the face of tremendous loss.
Amidst the 700,000 people living in Kathmandu, Shiuli was entirely alone. At 21 years old, the young woman had been taken away from her friends and family and had lost her husband, leaving her to fend for her three daughters all on her own. And the next tragedy was just around the corner.
Hardship began when Shiuli was only 14 years old after her parents arranged her marriage to Tarun. She had grown up in a quiet mountain village of central Nepal with her family and friends nearby. But after the couple got married, Tarun decided they would move to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal.
There he found a job in the carpet industry. The young bride later began working there as well. In the years following, the couple had three daughters. At one point, Tarun got sick—and never got better.
After seven years of marriage, he died, leaving Shiuli a young widow with three daughters to care for in a city where she had no one to help her out. Things only got worse.
Because of her desperate poverty, the widow didn’t have enough money to provide for her children.
She watched her youngest daughter starve and die of malnutrition.
Woman in Anguish Seeks Answers in Many Religious Centers
With all the calamities that had struck her family, there was nothing and no one the young mother could depend on. She worried she would die, leaving her two remaining daughters completely helpless to defend themselves against abuse.
There are as many as 300,000 Nepali girls who have been sold into the sex trade in India alone.
Shiuli desperately needed answers—so she went searching for them.
Shiuli had seen little difference between the religion she had grown up in and the two other major religions she knew of, so she figured she would solicit all three of them.
She went to many religious centers and offered the little money she had, along with other sacrifices, to the gods, hoping for a response. She also sought the help of different religious figures.
For all her searching, she couldn’t find any peace—until one day when visitors interrupted her at work.
Visitors to Carpet Industry Bring Answers
The women who walked in told Shiuli they were followers of Jesus. They explained about Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. As Shiuli listened to their kind words, she felt like she had finally found someone to turn to.
She confided in them, pouring out her whole, sad story to the women. They shared God’s love and told her He could free her from all her burdens.
These women were missionaries, sharing the hope of the true God with people like Shiuli who desperately needed Him.
Women missionaries like this one are able to bring hope and peace to women whom male missionaries cannot talk to because of cultural restrictions.
Shiuli realized they were telling her the answers she had been seeking from the other gods. The words they spoke gave her the peace she needed, and she knew she could take refuge in Christ.
The missionaries connected her with a church, and as she continued to learn more about the Lord, she chose to take Him up on His offer of peace!
Now Shiuli is part of a Gospel for Asia-supported church, and she is growing in the Lord with the help of the pastor and other GFA-supported women missionaries. She has found the answers and the peace she was looking for and the One she can turn to as her refuge from calamities.
“The Lord has blessed me in such a wonderful way that He has provided shelter, food, special care and attention through His people,” Shiuli says.
“The most important thing is I am receiving fellowship,” she adds.
I was really deprived of love and affection, but here, everybody loves and takes care of me. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ and His people.
Give Answers to Someone Else in Anguish
Millions of other women in South Asia need someone to turn to who will tell them of the God they can take refuge in. But many of these women cannot or will not talk to a male missionary because of the cultural restrictions against male-female relationships. They can only be reached by other women.
Walking out of my office with my family yesterday May 22nd,2013 at 6:47pm, across the street from Southlake Town Square(population not too many, last murder over 15 years ago), we were getting ready for a Daddy/Kiddo date while Mommy had a dinner with the girls. It was just then I heard pop, and I turned around immediately to see where it came from. Looking for a commotion….pop……..pop…pop..pop.pop.pop more shots rang out. The sound was too loud and had a pattern too recognizable to be fireworks. From the distance I was at (about 50 yards) it sounded like a .38, .380, or 9mm.
There were no screams, no squealing tires, no one running away like you would imagine if there was a altercation or what I have come to expect from a drive by. People were not running around in a chaotic fashion afterwards for what seemed to be eternity which made me start to doubt, my assessment of gun fire and then the sound of a heart broken woman in panic for the life of her beloved. I couldn’t see the shooter for the cars in the way, but I did see the panic of a man flagging down a police officer, the officers efficient yet cautious dispatch request and survey of the scene, the panic and heart break of a woman in shock of what just happened and the surreal reaction of the many onlookers. BTW..I had told my wife and kids to get in the van because I didn’t see were the shooter had gone and I needed to be able to have them in a controlled location and able to flee if need be. The ambulance came and went and the hustle of emergency crews grew. It was over, the man had lost his life, we woman had lost her husband, his son lost his dad and the threat was gone…..
“Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy. Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity: Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words: That they may shoot in secret at the perfect: suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not. They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search: both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep. But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded. So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves: all that see them shall flee away. And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of his doing. The righteous shall be glad in the Lord , and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.” Psalms 64:1-10 KJV
Is the threat gone? Is it truly over? The scripture above tells us the wicked are scheming. I love how although the writer does mention the fact that God will take care of our enemies, he is not asking for revenge or retribution, judgement of them or their families. He asks for his Father’s, yours and my father’s, protection. Protection not from the people themselves or their evil schemes, but form that fear associated with the knowledge that they exist. As I started writing this earlier this morning the sound of a police car is ringing in the background.
We live in a world full of spiritual, physical and emotional challenges. Evil’s existence means that for now there will always be threats. Evil is being evil at every moment, not just when we see it, but we do not need to be fearful, bound by that spririt of fear.
“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment…”1 John 4:17-18A ESV
Who do you know of that lives and strives to cause punishment? It is not God and if you think it is then the Liar has you fooled thinking he is God and I would love to introduce you to the One True God, The Creator and Finisher, The Life and Salvation of the world, Jesus, the perfect love mentioned above, Son of the Great I AM. Remember there is no fear in Love(if you know and Trust Jesus as your savior), because we know we are forever going to be with Him no matter what happens in this life
Please feel free to comment and leave your opinions. If you need help dealing with the situation please feel free to contact us as we can help get you in touch with a great ministry that can walk beside you as you are set free.