Friday, August 4, 2017

Out of the fiery furnace

One of the stories I loved as a kid,  back in the days of Sunday school,  was the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3). It was one of those stories that allowed me to visualize the amazingness of God as I imagined three men walking into a big fiery furnace and surviving. It was such an awesome and powerful story. But as a kid, it was all about the fiery furnace.

It wasn’t until the adventures of adulthood that I began to see a different part of the story. The part of the story where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego make a bold statement before the king.

You see within this story these three men refuse the command of King Nebuchadnezzar to bow down to another god and so the king then commands that they be tied up and thrown into a fiery furnace for not complying. And that is when the grand move is made and these three men take a stand and proclaim that God could deliver them from the furnace but even if He chose not to deliver them, He is still good. What a powerful statement in the face of death. This story brings such clarity and a perspective change.

Sometimes we find ourselves thinking our life circumstances are so horrific that there is no chance of survival. It appears that the darkness seems to consume everything around us. The pain seems too great to handle. And in those moments of desperation it is easy to lose sight of God.

I know for myself personally, I find myself questioning God. Asking Him why. Why is this happening? Questioning His purpose and His plan. Unable to look ahead to the bigger picture. But I believe that those moments are simply part of our humanity which leads to the development of greater faith. Because it is in those weak moments where He reveals himself in the strongest ways. Where He reaches out His hand and reminds us of exactly who He is and what He is capable of doing. Just like He did for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as they walked out of that fiery furnace. And just like those three men, God is with us, standing beside us and waiting to walk out of the fiery furnace with us (Deuteronomy 31:6). It simply requires trust and surrender.

Now as simple as that all sounds, it doesn’t mean we won’t have those moments of weakness where we doubt His goodness. Where we doubt His plan. But thankfully, even in our doubt, He doesn’t desert us. Instead, He is always there waiting. Patiently waiting for us to take His hand as He too leads us out of that fiery furnace.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Expose the dark places

Last week I shared a story. I shared a part of our story. I woke up Monday morning feeling weary and defeated. The nudging of the Holy Spirit prompting me to write, to be open and to share. His voice was so strong and not something I could ignore. He was asking me to expose the dark places that have become a part of our life. To be real. Because it is only when we are willing to expose the dark places that God’s light can begin to heal and restore.

Being real is never an easy thing to do. However, when darkness is beginning to consume all those things around you, sometimes the only thing left is to reach out to those who will listen and to ask for prayer.

It’s an amazing thing that happens when we respond to the nudging of the Holy Spirit and choose to listen to His voice and trust His prompting, even when it’s scary and difficult. When we obey, He begins to work in ways that can change the entire direction of our life.

Little did I know when I shared our story on Monday that by Thursday my world would be yet rocked once again. That at 6:45 in the morning, I would awaken to discover a secret that would totally change my world. But God knew.

You see the day I shared our story a friend recommended a book which I immediately ordered and began to read. The words found within the first few pages began to calm my spirit and minister to my heart. The more I read the more I could feel God’s presence and the Holy Spirit speaking to me. The encouragement that came through the realization of not only sharing our stories but being authentic was timely.

We all are going through something and we each have the ability to help others when we’re real with people. But not only that when we share we give room for the Holy Spirit to begin to work miraculously in our own life.

You see, Thursday morning when I discovered this secret, my initial reaction would have been to run. It would have been to give up and go the other way completely. But God knew what my Thursday was going to look like and He provided a way (through a friend and a book) to prepare me for what was about to happen. Through the tears and the darkness, His still small voice screamed into my heart, “I am here! Trust Me!” He knew and had already prepared the way for me. His peace consumed my heart which allowed me to trust and move ahead.

You see it’s easy to get caught up in the cries of darkness found in this world. To surround ourselves with people who would rather tell us that we should give up or stay silent. It’s easy to hide in shame or to pretend like hard things don’t happen. And often times we don’t want to share with others because of our own shame or the guilt we feel for our own sins, but when we stay silent we leave little room for God to move.

Last week was just another reminder of how amazing and good God is. How He provides for us in ways that, in the moment, we may not understand. But oh how undeniable His awesomeness when we are able to look back and see His hand and know that everything is going to be okay because He is always there!

We live in a world that attempts to silence God. Where people discourage us from sharing our stories and attempt to shame us from being authentic. But use your voice and don’t be afraid to share! We serve a great God who is able to do far more than what we can comprehend and this world needs to hear it!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Before the ending...He is good

Just when you think things can't getmuch worse, a phone call or a text brings to life a whole new secret you weren't expecting. Just when you think you can't take another blow, you get the wind knocked out of you which leaves you doubting and asking "why" once again.

Someone mentioned the other day, the idea of us "airing dirty laundry."  It kind of made me laugh.  At this point,  we are far from airing dirty laundry. We have yet to reveal the details of the depths of hurt that we both have experienced.

Instead,  we choose to share our life and the struggles that we're dealing with because they take a real God to help overcome. And that's where we are right now. We are choosing to take one day at a time. No,  one step at a time. Choosing to believe that God has a purpose and a plan for the storm that we are enduring. But it is also making the choice to believe in God and choosing to believe in His goodness that allows us to move forward together and to share with others. We are able to have faith that God is with us and working in us to grow our marriage in a way that we've never known and will use this growth to encourage others around us.

He's allowing the difficulties and He is allowing this pain all as a way to draw us closer to Him so that we know Him in a way we didn't before this storm. But it all stems from not being afraid to say yes to Him and His will for our lives. Our prayer is: "God take us where you want us to go."  We aren't afraid to say "God do with us what you will."  But in asking these things we understand that there will be pain, there will be struggles, there will be storms. There will be a refining that takes place. It is in each of those things that our faith grows the greatest and we learn to be less self-reliant on our own plans and instead,  surrender to His will.

Not everyone understands our personal faith or our perspective and faith in God. And that's okay.  Not everyone has the same type of story. Not everyone is comfortable sharing their stories. Not everyone has experienced God in a certain way.

But for us,  we want people to know God the way that we know Him. We want people to have the hope that is only found in Jesus. The One who loves us enough that he offered up His life for us.

And so, even when life is messy and doesn't make sense, and we have yet to reach the end of the story,  we choose to share the struggles, the storms and the heartache but we do so with the anticipation that it will bring comfort to someone else who is hurting.

As the body of Christ, we are called to share our struggles so that others can be encouraged and directed towards God who is our source of hope. He is full of love and kindness and the only true source so of our comfort and peace.

And this morning, we are able to look at one another and confirm that God truly brings comfort and peace when we seek after Him with our whole hearts. His goodness knows no bounds!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

God IS good...no matter the ending.

I remember the day I first heard this song. My mom came to visit and told me she wanted to play a song for me. As we sat on my bed, I listened as the tears streamed down my face. The words speaking so deeply to my broken heart.

Never in a million years would I have thought that 8 years later I would be sitting on that same bed, tears streaming down my face, as I listened to the same song yet again, walking through another dark trial. But as I listen to the words again this morning, I am reminded of the experience He carried me through those many years ago. How in the deepest moments of pain and the great disappointment I was experiencing, He lavishly loved me and never left my side.

I know the goodness of God. I've tasted and seen His faithfulness and love when the choice to surrender our circumstances into His hands is made. I want to know that again. Even if it means that this trial we are walking through right now never ends. I want a faith that declares to this world that my God is good no matter how this story ends.

My heart's desire is for everyone to know His goodness and love. And so today, as I listened to the words of this song again, I realized that if going through this trial means that someone else sees God through my experience and learns of His goodness then all of this will be truly worth it. I may not always get it right and still have moments of asking God why but I will choose to trust Him in all things because He is faithful!

"What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise"

Blessings - Laura Story

Drawing us back

Today I've spent a good majority of time reading a book that is allowing me to view our life from a totally different perspective. It has encouraged me to take a step back and look at the various ways God has made His presence known.

With that said,  we are so thankful that God has placed people in our life who understand our faith, our trust in God, who understand brokenness but most importantly, who know how great our God truly is. People who have walked with us, encouraged and prayed for us and who have become our family.

God knows just what we need when we need it and is faithful to provide. He is definitely our Good Father who loves us more than we could ever imagine. But He IS God and He IS holy which requires something from each of us when we say we are going to follow Him.  It means total surrender. It means letting go of control of our own lives and turning that life over to Him allowing Him to to work in and through our lives. However, when we cling too tightly and try to control, things fall apart and become broken as we drift away from Him.

We are thankful for a God who loves us so much that He will pursue us and take whatever means necessary to draw us closer to Him instead of allowing us to fall by the wayside. Truly, how great Is our Father's love for each of us that He would allow us to endure suffering for a time so as to provide a way to draw us back to Him instead of leaving us a broken mess?