I wanted to take a moment to expand on this morning’s devotion a bit. It was SO GOOD. I honestly have never read Psalm 119 in its entirety, which made it even more enlightening for me. When I came away from my time in God’s Word this morning, I was energized. Which was really good, because I had been feeling sort of icky lately. I mean REALLY ICKY. Fatigued, apathetic, achy and discouraged, all things I felt were the cause of a bug or something.
As I made my bed and prepared breakfast for my kiddos before work, the thought continued in my mind, “Do I pant after God’s Word?” David said he panted after God’s Word, verse 131. The weeks during the challenge I was excited to get up and get into God’s Word. I was ready to see what Jesus had to say to my heart. But recently, I had been dragging myself out of bed in the morning. Many areas of my life had been “thrown off”: no longer Whole30 (huge for me), exercise has been non-existent, sleep has been ok, not taking supplements, all this combined seemed to be creating stress in my mind and body again. To compound the situation, I chose to read a book explaining a religion many detest right now, as a result I felt a huge weight and heaviness I couldn’t really explain.
Last night in prayer with my youngest daughter, there was an refreshing anointing in my words I haven’t felt in a while. This morning I was wide awake at 4am, and into God’s Word by 5 (I tossed and turned but could not go back to sleep). I am so glad God led me to Psalm 119. So glad. It caused me to ask questions… Do I allow the Word of God to encourage, revive and place in me hope? Or am I just reading to read, because it is the right thing to do? Do I pant after God’s Word? Better yet, does my life compel my family to crave God’s Word, or is it causing them to crave something else? Ooohhhh……this is a big one.
The whole idea behind Shepherdess Rise Up is to inspire those of us responsible for the well-being of others, to become better care givers of their souls. To genuinely look after them in ways that draw them to the Lord, rather than away. If I read and read, but use what I have read to “hit someone over the head” with what I have learned, they likely won’t be drawn to God’s Word. If I sense God has shared something meant to address something for me personally, but judge others because they’re not doing the same, I’m guessing I won’t draw others to the Lord. However, if I read a revealed truth or will of God, I allow it to search my heart, ask God to make it real in my life by causing me to live it out, others may witness the authenticity of my demeanor and WANT to know more. If I accept correction as meant only for me and go about my day loving others where they are and trusting God will move in His timing and ways, I may better represent God’s love to them, during their process of revelation.
Many of us know intellectually it is a good idea to read the Bible and to study God’s Word. Yet, we sometimes choose to allow other things to take its place. Or we choose a devotion written by others to fill in this spot of our lives. Not that there is anything wrong with this, but be encouraged to get into the Word yourself, and see what God has for you. There may be a gift of deliverance that will help your relationship with your husband. There may be knowledge received that will encourage you with your children. There may be a liberating gift to repent and more freely walk with Christ. There may be a gift of conviction empowering you to honor purity and sanctity.
Just a few things to ponder as we move through the rest of our week, and pray about. I hope you're intrigued and dig deep :)
understand about Christianity. What you think you know about the point of being a Christ follower at all. And what you think you should believe about the Holy Spirit’s role and very real presence in your life. Yesterday’s devotion jarred a memory in my mind. It took me back to a place and time where I listened to the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life. I sat by the bedside of someone who was dying. I prayed with them, witnessed them raise their hands as they called out to Jesus, and later that evening, held their feet as they drew their last breath.
So what? So you knew someone was dying and you went to pray with them, like a good Christian should do. That can hardly be deemed as your obedience to the “Holy Spirit”. At most it is a good person, trying to be good to a person who is going to die. It was so much more.
You see, this person I sat beside, praying with, witnessing them raise their hands to the Lord, crying out the name of Jesus, held a very key part of my life in their hands. They literally held the life of my father in their hands. This person, someone I loved, someone I had had many challenges with, someone I had learned to forgive – had literally taken my father’s life when I was just shy of one year old.
I hadn’t learned that until I was about five years old. The information would forever be a dark shadow over my life and cause more issues than I could have possibly known or understood. These shadows, only a select few would know I entertained. I recently saw a post stating, “Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you have made. If you want a different result, make a different choice.” I disagree. I did not choose to have my father taken away. I did not choose the step father that would do his best to take his place. I did not choose how people around me would respond once they found out whose daughter I was. I did not choose the depression that settled in my heart at such a young age, and would truly take a miracle to loose its grip on my life. My experience of life was a reflection of the choices of others.
However, it is true the depression and my experiences did cause me to make poor choices as an adolescent, teenager and young adult. Choices I later had to take responsibility for. The loss of my father and the story behind his death, was buried in my heart. It caused me to fight the stigma, seek a better life, rise above my circumstances. And I did. With a lot of “grit and spit” I guess you could say, and the help of God in my sophomoric relationship with Him, I was able to not allow the choices of others, and soon my own, to imprison me in a life I was statistically condemned to live.
Fast forward about eight or nine years to a time when God had helped me to get through periods in my life where the shepherds placed there did not do the best job in the world to help bring healing, strength, rest, nourishment and light into my life. In fact, many had failed miserably (I'm sure they were doing the best they knew to do), but God in His relentless pursuit of me had brought folks into my life who shared truth and love with me. He came and found me Himself, I could say! Praise God He did, because He began to paint a picture of what living in Him, and He in me, looked like. I began praying and seeking His will. He would share visions and compel me to do a thing, only to turn around and have it happen. My faith was growing as He was solidifying His very nature and existence in my heart and mind – casting out previous doubts, questions, and fears (yes I had plenty even as a proclaimed Christian).
One particular evening, He compelled me to pray. Pray for the person who had taken my father’s life. The one who had seemingly set into motion a series of events it felt like a life time could not erase. But Jesus could. As I prayed for this person, now facing a terminal illness, a vision began to take shape I simply could not believe. A scenario was knit together, literally causing me to shake my head, laugh out lout and say, “God, only YOU could do this. Only You.”
In my mind, there was way too much pride, resentment, anger, frustration, doubt and disbelief on both our parts for ANY measure of what He shared with me, to ever come to fruition. After this time in the prayer closet, I could not shake the Holy Spirit’s directive to reach out. To visit. To talk. To ask questions. To reconcile a relationship that had been estranged for many years, due to different circumstances. I would go. I would pray the whole way there. I would tremble. I would hate every minute of the drive. But I would rely on His Spirit in our conversation. I would rely on His grace in our encounters. I would depend on Him.
The last morning this person awoke, I was set to go to church. However, I had a strong sense I needed to go to their side instead. I sensed I NEEDED to go and pray. I had to forget about the tasks at church I was to see about. I had to trust someone else to fill in my role for my church ministry. I had to obey God’s Holy Spirit. And I did. I walked to their bedside, talked a bit, and asked if we could pray. A quick affirmative, and prayers were underway. As the vision God had shared so many months before took place with a certainty, I could only sense peace and gratitude. As I left, I knew the Lord had just brought this person I cared for, back to Himself. Later that evening, I knew He was holding their hand, as I was holding their feet.
Only God would know the irony of the events that would play out. Only He would know my temporal suffering would be traded in for an eternity of sorrows. Only God knew the events He would utilize to reach me. Only He could know I, as the once lost sheep who desperately needed a Shepherd, would then be called to help Him bring home another.
I will forever cherish the the decision to follow. I will forever be passionately devoted. Not because the Lord demands I do, but because He sought me out through unimaginable circumstances (though not as bad as some, but worse than others) and caused me to rest. Loved me. And soon loved others through me.
Almost two weeks since my last post! There has been a ton of good stuff going on. Well there was a hiccup in there with a virus, but even with that, all was good. My family and I had a great day at an amusement park a couple weeks back and I had a great evening with girlfriends, enjoying the weather and good music. I know school is in full throttle with homework, and running the kiddos to volleyball games and basketball practices. That, and the endless invites for sleepovers and get-togethers (because the kids simply do not get enough of one another as it is ;) ). I also had the opportunity to take my oldest to watch the Women’s National Team for U.S. Soccer, which was amazing and inspiring for her on so many levels. Yeah, you could say it has been quite the crunch for a couple of weeks - which is part of why I haven’t blogged recently.
The other part? God has had me prepping and planning for the LiveEatSweat45 challenge. I am so excited about this! Several gals have signed up to do the challenge, which involves growing stronger spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically, as we share in devotions, eating Whole30 foods, and workouts for forty-five days. The pre-planning God has been sharing with all of us has been empowering. We are being exhorted to pray for God’s direction leading up to the beginning of the challenge (and during of course). We are being encouraged to create SMARTER goals, or goals that are specific, meaningful, adjustable, responsive, timing of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit and rejuvenating; a spin on the corporate world’s SMART goals, which I love. Finally, we are identifying smaller, specific goals we have direct control over and aligned with God’s vision, are the goals to set in order to reach an overarching goal. There is SO MUCH MORE He has on my heart to share, and I’m looking forward to digging into all of it with the group.
As for my current challenge, I’m still chugging along and have just under three weeks left. Right after I finally had a pound and a half loss, the cold set in and I was out of the workout routine for over a week. My nutrition did the work last week, and I basically came off with a maintenance week, neither gaining nor losing, which is good. My husband asked if I am going to finish strong. Absolutely! I may not win the Ultimate Oxygen Challenge, but I have already won in my mind. So many things have begun to take shape, including my body and soul, I am extremely motivated to keep going well beyond the end of this challenge.
Here’s a quick and funny story about change in my life. In the past week I have had several people run into me and not recognize who I am. I have been taken a little of guard by it, because I don’t think I really look all that different, but apparently different enough for people who were a regular part of my life to not know who I am. As I was thinking about it on my way into work one morning this week, God spoke to me. The fact that I am unrecognizable is a good thing. It means that He has truly created a change in my life the past several years, which is what He desires. He desires to have people who knew the “old” me to acknowledge there is something peculiarly different about me. He desires they become so curious by the transformation in my life, they begin to wonder WHY. Hopefully, as a result of that curiosity, they will be led to the One Who has been transforming me from image to image and glory to glory, to better reflect Christ in my life. Wow! What an answer to prayer!
God is so good. It is never too late to change. If you trust God and not give up, before you know it you will become the more like the person you always knew God intended you to be (although still not perfect). Now I wish I would have posted this yesterday for Transformation Tuesday ;)
Have a great Wednesday!
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