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Restless

The clock reads 10:50pm when I hear his shuffled feet outside our door. “Son?” I call to him. “What is it?”

Husband gets up and lets him in and asks if everything is okay.

“I just can’t sleep,” he says.

An hour later I’m having the same problem. I keep thinking about silver and gold and what must I do to have a “get up and walk” kind of life.

I feel the stirring inside. I was made for more.

I was made to reflect and pour out His glory. Indeed, it burns within.

I was made to bless with my mouth.

I was made to nourish with my life.

I was made to succor with my arms.

I’m a woman; I was made to birth and nurture life, wherever I go, from dawn to dusk.

But I have to be real honest. My reality doesn’t live up to my calling.

I feel like the prodigal, feeding on pig’s pods. I should be supping at the table with my Father.

I should be anointed with His oil, overflowing with His wine, spilling out onto others.

Why this wallowing?

The restlessness twists me until I can’t stay in the bed and I get up. I turn to the familiar passage.

“I say this so that no one will keep defrauding you with their well crafted arguments.” Colossians 2:4

And just like that, I know what happened.

I had hopped on the computer before bed to check for an update. While there, I decided to take the risk: I clicked on the link and it took me to a lovely woman’s blog…but she talked about herself and gave all her suggestions for everyone else and it made me think about myself and I thought about everything I’m not doing, everything I’m horrible at, everything that’s wrong or missing or….

I listened to the wrong voices.

“Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.  For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. And you are complete in Him.” Colossians 2:8-10

How quickly the mind is captured with what others are saying and doing! How quickly we forget where our nourishment and support and life come from. How quickly we fall away from the grace provided us in Christ.

We rely on so many other things, forgetting that He is pleased to give us the kingdom!

He brings to my mind The Flightless Cormorant and there, I see the date these words were written: exactly one year ago.

“Do we only have silver and gold ministries to offer the lame beggar on the temple steps? Or can we, like Peter, say, “Silver and gold have I none, but what I do have, I give to you: In the name of Jesus, WALK!” (Acts 3:6)

All year these things have niggled me. All year I have seen how we, as a culture and for the most part, live the Christian life in the flesh. All year I have been sickened by how much of my life, my 12 years in the ministry as a church planter and missionary, have been lived relying on secondary skills.

The secondary skills aren’t the problem.

The forgetting what we are made for is.

We were made for Spirit wings to indwell us, fill us, empower us, carry us to places secondary blessings never can. We were made for “abundantly above all we ask or imagine,” from Him and to Him and by Him and for Him.

We were made for the kind of indwelling power that raised Christ from the dead. And we are content with diving?”

I’ve discovered something from my time online over the past year. Many, many things out there teach us how to be better swimmers. But very few indeed tell us how to soar.

My friend, we were made to live “get up and walk” kind of lives. Silver and gold can buy a crowd and pay for speaking lessons, but only the power of God can anoint you to tell a lame beggar to get up and walk! My restless heart is finally grounded tonight: In Christ is all the fullness.

And we are complete in Him.

I pray we are not moved away from the simplicity of Him.

**In praying about what God would have as my theme for the coming year, I’m convinced that it is to be “In Christ.” So during 2012, my topic of personal study will be what we have in Christ, who we are in Christ, and how to appropriate His life. I am very excited about how the Lord has led me to this and can’t wait to get started.

The Answer is Yes!

I’m clothed in drab, human skin and feel every inch of humanity as I get on my knees before Him.

“Lord. You have laid hold of me…let me now lay hold of You. Both hands, Lord, both hands.”

“As the Father loved You, so You have loved me, Jesus. Help me abide in Your love.”

Throughout the days I keep finding my knees, keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. Until I realize…it is becoming a way of life for me.

Then. Today. Little one tells me her cup is out of water. “Okay, what do you do?” I prompt her.

“May I have some more water please?”

“The answer is YES!” I tell her.

We have done this particular little exercise hundreds of times, me trying to teach her to ask and she will receive… Her asking time and time again, and me saying “YES!” And I wonder, when will she really get it? When will her relationship with me reflect a deep, abiding trust? When will she KNOW that she is part of me, of us, and when will she not hesitate to put me out for her sake?

But this time the words come back at me, a response from Him spoken from my own lips: “The answer is YES!”

“All those requests you are making…all those desires for righteousness and truth and love and grace you are pouring out before Me…all those tears that have no words… the answer is YES!”

“And when will you finally get it, that you are part of Me, of US, and when will you not hesitate to put Us out on your behalf? You know you have the entire throne room of Grace at your disposal… you know I say ask and you will receive…”

Right there at the lunch table I jump up and leap for joy! “The answer is YES!” I say again and again and they laugh at their crazy momma.

And I know something new today: Some prayers are best made on bended knees. Others, on leaping legs.


“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are YES in Christ.”

II Corinthians 1:20

 

Repost from the archives. The answer is YES!

Invitation to Feast {With Guidelines for Online Time}

 

Everyone was rushing.

Everyone was gushing.

Everyone was talking and going and doing and I thought I had to be on the going train too.

It was the latest, coolest, most important thing.

But every time I got to the station, the train had already filled up and closed it’s doors and there wasn’t room for me.  I could see the laughter and fun and partying going on inside.

“It looks so warm in there. So necessary to really thriving.” I thought this as the train slowly passed me by.

“Everybody who’s anybody is in there,” I thought as the last car passed, leaving only the wind to brush my face.

So I tried to make the next train.

Then the next.

Until finally, with each defeated attempt, I realized. God doesn’t want me on the train tracks.

He has another path for me.

{And I have a feeling it involves hiking.}

It seems to me that many of us are spending our lives trying to make the social train, or the success train, or the have-it-all-and-quick! train… not realizing that perhaps God wants us off the tracks altogether.

Dare we hear the Lover’s voice beckon?

“So I am going to take her into the desert again; there I will win her back with words of love.” Hosea 2:14

Would we slow enough to understand that it is in the absence that God reveals Himself?

It isn’t in the bustling, moving and shaking that God woos and speaks tenderly. It’s in the deprivation.

 

And this week when our tables pile high and shopping bags bulge, would we sit down to a fare of broken body and atoning blood?

It’s the bread and the wine and Abraham knew it: Less can be better.

More…prosperity…abundance…nightstands piled high and inboxes overflowing…sales pitches for everything under the sun…they can send a very subtle message, deadly in its power. The more I have, the more I think I need... The more I’m convinced I don’t have.

Will I, like Abraham, be vigilant to guard my heart against subtle {and not so subtle} messages that draw me away from the simplicity and sufficiency of Christ?

 

 ”The whole idea of television (and I would add advertising and promoting and many other things) is to produce discontent. The goal is to make you discontent so that you think you need something you don’t have. The goal is to make you buy things. The idea is to appeal to your discontent and make you believe you need something and compel you to buy something you think you need.” John MacArthur

{And will I be honest enough to recognize that our Christian culture is just as consumer-driven as the worldly culture around us?}

 

“O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?”

Just like the Galatian believers were drawn away from the pure gospel of Christ with extra “things,” I’ve found it doesn’t take a whole lot to “bewitch” me. I see an ad for some Christian bible study or a conference or a latest resource from so and so, and I’m off thinking I need it.

And just because something is good and available, doesn’t mean it is right for me. Because it can actually distract me from Christ.

Let no one tempt you away from the simplicity of Christ.

For in HIM we live and breathe and have our being.

And we are complete in Him.

So this week, my prayer for you and I: as we feast and shop, may we enter the desert place and eat the richest of fares. May we withdraw to the quiet place. May we come aside with our Lover and drink deeply of Him. May we set aside all the good stuff for the Precious. And may we be filled.

 

**When I started blogging a year ago, I realized the unique dangers of spending time online: being sucked into trying to build a blog or get in on all the online social stuff, etc. I realized there are so many temptations away from the simplicity of Christ! So I established some mental guidelines for when I’m online. I’ve been practicing these for some time and they have helped tremendously. {This means I am very careful about my online time, even with good, Christian sites.}

Guidelines for online time:

Ask, “What message am I coming away with?”  When you feel competition, insecurity, inadequacy, or performance/ self-reliance (and a host of others) rising up within you, this is a good indicator that you are at the wrong place for you. If what you read encourages your faith and motivates you in what you already know God has called you to do and points you back to Christ, then that’s a safe spot for you to be online.

Learn what sites incite you to fleshly reliance and pursuits and what sites spark your faith and reliance on God. Black list the first ones (yes, even if it is Facebook!)

Does this site make you a spiritual consumer or a spiritual server? Does it prompt you to go consume more Christian resources and stir a spirit of discontent? Or does it cause you to turn to your husband, child, or neighbor and wash their feet?

Coming back to these helps me make wise decisions about where I go and what I do online…and have deep peace and satisfaction about whatever trains I may miss…

 

What to do when the storm won’t pass

THE CAULDRON OF HOME LIFE BOILED OVER and I spilled too, making a mess and scalding little hearts and I wondered when I will ever get it right.

Evening came and so did the storms again, one right after another. We huddled together on the couch, listening to the sirens screech their warning and sang “Your Name is a strong and mighty tower….”

When the kids could stay up no longer, we put them to bed and risked turning on the computer to check the news.

“There’s been nothing like this,” they said, “one system after the other, with no breaks, no rest, no relief.”

From Mississippi to Ohio, the question’s on everyone’s mind:  “Will the levee’s hold?”

We can sandbag and pitch water with a pail, but we need those levees. We can minimize the loss, we can replace broken windows and clean up debris, but we need those levees to hold.

I finally fall into bed, storm tossed from the inside out, teary eyed and worn. I wonder how much more I can take of these storms that have been stretching one after another. These storms our family has been weathering going on four years now.

“Can You hear me, God?” I ask, and laugh at the absurdity of it. “Really hear me? Because I don’t know up from down anymore. I don’t know right from wrong, I have no idea what to do.”

Lightning flashes bright through the wood blinds and thunder shakes the light bulbs in the vanity. I beg a few hours sleep before my shift starts again.

In the morning I drive oldest to school. He is strangely quiet, except to ask, “Why is it so dark, Mom?”

“The storm clouds are so thick son, it blocks the sun. The beams can hardly get through.”

We pass by ponds swollen to overflowing, trees knocked down, see broken car windows.

Storms do their damage. Boiling cauldrons burn straight over.

We drive by the lake with the overflow tanks, the tanks that have been pumping water under the road to the back up pond for weeks. Even the overflow is backed up, unable to handle anymore. The water laps the edge of the road, hungry to devour pavement.

“Much more rain and this road is going to flood. They’re gonna have to close the road down.” I mutter it to myself. I feel my own backup tanks overflowing. I feel the flood waters lapping at the edges, the panic rising of being swept completely away.

I feel the maxed overflows and the stressed levees and the storms that won’t stop coming and the sirens that won’t stop screeching.

I wonder how much more I can take. I wonder if the levees will hold.

I drive home, back over the road that gets closed an hour later. I think of the white picket fence Christianity I had for so long. Oh, it looked good, girl. It looked good.

Then the storms started and pushed that thing clean over. There is nothing cute about me anymore, and maybe I’d mourn the loss except losing that version of Christianity wasn’t a bad thing…just shocking for others who looked at me and expected to see the white picket fence, perhaps.

As I ponder these things, open and bare before God, hidden no longer behind cute facades, I hear His voice, a rumble deep within, quite unexpectedly.

“Your levee’s gonna hold, my girl. Your levee’s gonna hold.”

And He opens my eyes and I see so clearly the storms of testing, the tearing away of all worthless, the strengthening of the Foundation.

The Levee’s gonna hold.

The storm may leave some tossed trees. The overflow may max out, the boiling cauldron may spill over every now and then. The living room may flood and the roof get torn sheer off.

But the Levee’s gonna hold.

They call at 10am, saying roads are impassable and schools are closing. It was inevitable.

But the Levee’s gonna hold.

Right there in the middle of the storm, mingled with torrent of rain on a few inches of soaked soil on a planet spinning in perfect orbit, a few salty, grateful tears.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house, and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the Rock.” Matthew 7:24-25

 

It’s raining today and I’m thinking about the Levee that holds. Repost from April of this year.

When you want to scrap it all and start over…but you can’t

**Updated to include video at end.

 

For months now it’s sat in a box, right there on top of the bookshelf.

And when I take it down one night after the kids are in bed, my friends stop over for a look.

They even help glue a piece or two on before telling me, “The rest is a lost cause. You best scrap it and start over with a new one.”

And I don’t have the heart to tell them that this broken pitcher represents me…

…that one day I knew God was breaking me and I needed something tangible to represent what He was doing and so God and I, we had a ceremony. We went to purchase a pitcher.

We brought the pitcher home and went out on the patio and dropped the pitcher on the hard stones and it shattered.

I collected all the pieces and wondered how it could ever go back?

But we all know that God mends the broken-hearted and even though we can’t ever go back to the way things were before the break, we can be healed.

Right?

So I tried to put the pitcher together again.

Except I couldn’t.

And friends stopped by to help.

They couldn’t put it together either.

The best advice they could give was “scrap it and start over again. It’s too shattered.”

So the pitcher that represented me went into a box and sat in pieces up on the top shelf.

For months and seasons and a year plus of mornings and evenings, it sat.

It gathered dust.

And I wondered what the purpose was? What do we do with our brokenness?

Until one day I realized I had learned the first lesson: a lifetime of trying and effort and striving can never fix me. Neither is there a person on the face of earth who can fix me.

I can stop trying to piece the broken together.

So I started to live broken.

Then this:  As I lived broken, I began to embrace broken.

Bit by bit, when life pounded and I shattered, I let it.

I stopped resisting.

And when old temptations to fight back and avoid brokenness creep in, ancient words whisper across my heart, the story of another pitcher that was broken, shattered. Except this pitcher contained a torch and could it really be me?

“(Gideon) put trumpets and empty pitchers into the hands of all of them, with torches inside the pitchers.

“And they blew the trumpets and smashed the pitchers that were in their hands.  When they broke the pitchers, they held the torches in their left hands…” Judges 7

And aren’t I a jar of clay with the treasure inside

And can’t that precious light only be seen when the jar is broken… When there is nothing to hide it under? When the shell of self is shattered and broken away?

Brokenness is necessary for the glory that resides within to be seen without.

Brokenness is working glory for me.

Brokenness, therefore,  can safely be embraced.

After all, God promises to break but not destroy.

Isn’t this how Paul came to boast in weakness? In trial and distress and insult and difficulties and persecution?

He went from asking God to remove the hardship to exulting in the difficulty… because he learned  that through these very things  the power of Christ dwelt in him. (See II Cor 12)

And if he learned it, I can too… and you.

Oh, the power of Christ dwells within us. It’s never of question of “if.” The question is “how.” How does the life of Christ move from within to without?

When the clay pot is hammered, day after day, week after week. When month after month, the jar stays broken and shattered… and no effort is made anymore to try to put it back together.

When the pitcher is shattered and the torch is taken up in the hand, then Christ’s life can be raised high.

What is cracking your pitcher?

Can you see the wondrous purpose of the breaking?

And some days it is hard. The breaking hurts so bad. And I wish there were a sister nearby to stoop near and come alongside and say, “Remember the clay pot? I see the glory shining through!”

But there is none and I fall to my knees, wet hot lava dripping. It is true that we grow in dark, silent places. The seed breaks and births in it’s dark cave while the world carries on above.

There seems to be nothing celebratory about the breaking.

The babes see the lava, come to my side. “What’s wrong, mama?” And I hold them and say, “It’s okay, sweets. It’s good. It’s good.

And I force the words through the lips, even when the insides resist: “Thank You, God. Thank You for this breaking. Thank You that the life of Christ is manifest in me. Thank You that Christ is in me, Oh! The hope of glory!”

And I pray for these babes that see so much. I pray for others who may look on. I pray for the life trail I am leaving behind. May they see a broken woman, a shattered mama, one that manifests the glory of God.

For when the broken clay pot gets swept into the trash bin, the glory will remain…

The Glory will always remain.

Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.  II Cor 4:10 NLT

When you wonder what exactly God wants from you

4:54am and His voice comes softly, awakening me. “Understand what the will of the Lord is.”

I lay under warm mountain for awhile, pondering these words, especially in light of yesterday’s word, “Keep yourself in the love of God.”

I think of how my traditional upbringing taught me to understand the will of God in terms of “Glorifying God” and “Obeying His commandments.”

Surely these are a part of His will.

But His words invite me to find articulation for what He has been revealing to me over a period of time. His will is not primarily the things I do.

For the next 3 days I pour over scriptures, getting Husband’s help using the Logos Bible study software pastors and missionaries use. Slowly, articulation comes.

“Will” is “thelema” in the Greek. It means desire, pleasure, intent. It is what One wishes or has determined shall be done. It is Christ slain before the foundation of the world. In short, it is the purpose of God to bless mankind through Christ.

How skewed we are when we think of God’s will simply in terms of what He desires from us! I must discipline self to think first in terms of His intent towards me.

Ephesians 1 is a gold mine for discovering God’s desire, pleasure, and intentions towards me. His will is “kind intentions” and “lavish grace.”

It is His will to bless me with every spiritual blessing,

to choose me,

to consider me holy and blameless,

to adopt me,

to redeem me,

to forgive me all my transgressions,

to make me the recipient of His lavish grace,

to give me all wisdom and insight into His heart for me,

to give me an inheritance,

to grant me the fullness of His Spririt,

to rescue me from the domain of darkness and transfer me to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col 1),

to reconcile me to Himself,

to make me at peace with Him,

These things I “know,” but thinking of them in terms of His will for me adds dimension to the knowledge and empowers me in new ways.

After three days of searching, pondering, asking, it comes down to this phrase from Colossians 4:12, “Stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.”

This can be breath, blood, and life. As kids wake up and need me and Husband does too and I feel too broken and weak to give them what they deserve, I stand perfect on these words, “Fully assured in all the will of God. ” HE IS FOR ME.

As I dress tired, whiny child, I can do this. I can love and bless and give and pour out, because I am fully assured in all the will of God for me.

As older child grumbles about changing shirt, I can do this. I can take aside and breathe life words into him, exhort him to live up to his identity in Christ as beloved child.

As time presses and stress rises and lunches need packing and dress pants need ironing and children scatter toys, I can do this. I can focus on what really matters and stand perfect, fully assured in all the will of God for me.

Today is going to be a great day.

Repost from last November Can’t believe I missed Arabah’s one year mark~ smile~

Up for a New Thanksgiving Tradition?

I’m over at Raising Homemakers today, talking about what we’re doing for Thanksgiving. There’s time for you to incorporate some new things! Come check it out…

She Smiles

So…Husband came home early, a rare event. He kindly agreed to run to Walmart for me and he even volunteered to take 3 children with him.

Lord a mercy.

The 4th child was playing in the back and after the others left, I went to the potty. Alone.

It was wonderful.

As I was sitting down to tee tee, I prayed, “Thank you, Lord, for these few minutes of quiet.

Immediately after spoken, a man outside my bathroom window yelled a very loud and long, “HO!”

Cracked me up.

God humor.

We laughed together, we sure did. And I asked Him what He did to get that man to yell on cue? Did He poke him in the behind with a tack?

Well, He didn’t answer me that one…it’s none of my business…but we sure did have a good chuckle.

Reminded me of Proverbs 31, that busy little lady that no one can live up to. Out of all the verbs listed in that chapter, there is one that we are prone to overlook: “she smiles.”

We have God’s permission to laugh. Smile. Be happy.

So this weekend, that’s the verb I’m going to be intentional about: smiling. Laughing. {Forget the cooking, cleaning, and rising while it is still night. At least until my family asks what’s for breakfast! :) }

Smile! And have a wonderful weekend, friends. You are loved.

Scandalous

lonelyness

 

 

Eric and Woody were looking at me, listening intently, wondering what exactly I had discovered.

I’d entered that dark, cold prison cell with John the Baptist. With him, I’d asked, “Are You really the One?”

I’d agonized.

I’d wondered if I was really His.

I’d doubted God.

I’d done the opposite of what Jesus said the “blessed” ones do.

“My faith was obliterated,” I told them. “I needed to know where that left me. Was I shipwrecked?

“I did a word study on that word ”stumble.”

“It refers to a very specific condition, “to cease believing.”

In fact, one dictionary says it is to “cause a person to distrust One who is worthy of complete trust and obedience.”

It’s what Jesus said not to do to children.

“Furthermore,” I told them, “it is the word Jesus used when He went to the cross. He said all of the disciples would “fall away.” This is the same word He used. See, even the disciples stumbled in their faith.

“And Jesus told Peter, “Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith would remain. And when you have returned, strengthen your brethren.”

I looked into their faces, my own eyes wet. “Stumbling doesn’t have to be permanent,” I told them.

“When it all comes down, it is understanding that He holds onto us. That no matter what evil has been done to us, no matter what dark nights we have seen, no matter the fear and loneliness…no matter our own faithlessness and falling away, the depth of our sinfulness… HE IS FAITHFUL.”

“It is holding onto His character.”

And I don’t know how they understood the weak attempt I made, but they did.

Husband took over from there and explained the love of God and talked for another hour or more, doing much better than I did.

He shared how God was demonstrating His love that very moment, in bringing us all to this same place at this same time, out of every place we could and should be, the globe over…

Yet He orchestrated each of our lives so we could be together, in order for us each to know His hope and grace and speak together of His love.

“He loves you. He wants you to believe it.” And he quotes John 3:16. Such a simple statement, yet so rich.

Later, after we’d hugged Woody’s neck and prayed for them both and slipped a $20 in Woody’s old truck as an expression of God’s love, we left and returned home to our own babes and noise and busyness.

“What did the Lord say to you through all that,” husband asked me.

“I’m not sure yet,” I told him. “I need to think about it.”

I thought about what had happened to Woody.

I thought about what had happened to me, as a child.

I thought about Little Bit and the trauma she has experienced.

I thought about the depths of pain and sin and heartache and trauma.

I thought about what persecution did to John the Baptist and what disillusionment did to the disciples and what oppression did to the Israelites.

In each case, it skewed their perspective of God. It caused them to stop believing.

I thought about all the things that cause us to withdraw and reject and not believe God’s love for us.

And then it hit me.The word for “stumble,” that word that means to cease trusting the One who is absolutely worthy and deserving of our complete trust and obedience.

It’s the word “Skandalizo” in the Greek.

Scandal.

And there He is, reaching deep again and bringing me to my knees. I know what to tell Jackson. I know what it is He wants to say to me.

“It’s not what is done to you that is scandalous, my child. Distrust for Me is the real scandal.

This is what causes heavenly hosts to gasp and cover their eyes and bring hands to mouth. This is what causes those who know God’s nature to hide in shame….when one of us distrusts Him.

I thought of the abuse I experienced as a child…and that the real scandal is that I responded in distrust for God.

I thought about hardship and pain and trauma and rejection and abuse and neglect and poverty and deep suffering the world over…and yet still the real scandal is when our response is distrust for the Holy One.

Because the sufferings of this world don’t compare to the glory of Him.    If we could just see!

And isn’t this why Satan attacks our faith and starts even with the youngest of children? He wants to blind our eyes with pain. He wants to mar our vision with abuse, neglect, and hardship.

He wants us to keep our eyes on our own failures and sin.

He wants to scandalize the One who should never, ever, ever be doubted, the One who demonstrated the depths of His character by entering the womb of a woman…being cared for by sinful man…being vulnerable to other’s sin…then dying at the hands of us all.

Oh yes, Satan wants to establish early on a lifestyle of truly scandalous living…distrust for One whose very name is Love.

I drop to my knees and pray to the Holy One who is worthy. “Oh my God, may I never scandalize You again!”

“Satan has done everything he can to sift me and shipwreck my faith. But You have prayed for me and You are the author and finisher of my faith, Jesus, and You have been faithful to me when I have been faithless. Praise Your Name! Now, Worthy One, may I never scandalize You again.”

And I pray for a man named Woody, a man traveling into a Colorado winter and a painful, lonely death. “May he be saved,” I pray. “May You find him. May his dark, cold prison of death be where he discovers Your faithfulness….Your trustworthiness. May his stumbling turn to faith.”

And His whispered response reverberates deep within: “Strengthen the brethren, my child. Strengthen the brethren.”

Friend, are you stumbling? If you are, I have written you a letter that answers the question “How can my faith be restored?” I’m staying up late at the Lord’s prompting to write this :) It is my joy to share two simple lifestyle habits with you. To access the letter, simply click here. Love and blessings, friend. AJ

{Part I of this story can be read here}

“What if I’m an Esau?”

 

“We’re sending you guys to a bed and breakfast for two nights… will even take care of childcare too.”

Our pastor told us this three weeks ago and we were shocked and delighted and so Friday we dropped the kids off and packed our suitcase and drove an hour to the B&B.

It was while standing in the kitchen with our host, Eric, that we knew. We weren’t here simply for a getaway. God had sent us on a mission.

“My friend Woody is here,” Eric told us. ”We won’t get in your way. He stopped by here to say goodbye…he’s on his way out to the mountains of Colorado. He’s got hot spots all over his body and he’s headed out there to die. Alone in the Colorado mountains.”

We tried to connect with Woody all day Saturday.  Mr. Woody made himself scarce.

Come Saturday night, we ordered Chinese take-out and sat on the bed with paper plates and chopsticks and talked about what we should do. “I say let’s go down and just tell them we don’t believe in coincidence and ask to pray for each of them and see what the Lord does,” I suggested.

My husband, he’s more direct. His fire is burning and he wants to just go down with his Bible and lay it all out.

Either way, if we want to talk to Woody, we’re going to have to be obvious and direct. No casual, “natural” opening is happening.

We finish up takeout with fortune cookies and husband cracks open his cookie and reads, “Don’t wait for others to open the right doors for you.” We laugh. There you have it, we have to go knock on some doors. The fortune cookie said so! {smile}

We go downstairs with our Bible tucked under arm and they aren’t inside and the two men are outside talking where it’s dark and cold …and we go out and chat and ask if we can share breakfast with them in the morning because we’d like to pray with them and talk to them about God.

Um hum. We did.

They said sure and it was clear they were just being polite and we wonder if Woody will really show up at the breakfast table. Did we do the right thing?

8:30 Sunday morning the four of us sit down together for breakfast.

“This is only the third or fourth time I’ve ever sat down with guests,” Eric tells us and we share some missionary stories and language blunders and we all laugh pretty good.

Then we get down to business. We ask Woody about his relationship with Jesus.

“You know,” he begins. “I used to have faith. But some things happened in my life that made me wonder if what I had was real. People done me wrong…I’ve lost absolutely everything. The only thing I have left is a guitar and my old truck…and now I have to sell my guitar.

He continued.I read through the Bible in search of some foundation…I needed to know if what I thought I had was real. I came to conclude that I don’t have real faith.”

What he said next caused my eyes to well up and I didn’t really fight against it because it was the love of Christ within me coming out and didn’t he need to see it?

“I think I’m one of those that have to be slaughtered for someone else to be saved. You know…like in the book of Job, all his children were killed for Job to see and know God better. God’s going to do what God wants to do and I’m one not intended for His blessing.”

“I’m okay with that if that’s the way it’s supossed to be.”

…And my heart is shattered and I can’t believe what I’m hearing…

“I’m not one of the elect,” he says.

Eric chimes in. “I feel the same way,” he says. “What if I’m an Esau? You know, ‘Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated.’”

And husband turns to me and says, “Do you want to share anything?”

Yes, I do want to say something. It’s burning within me. It’s so close to my heart that I’m breathing shallow and my pulse is pounding and oh, I get this.

“There’s a reason he asked if I want to say something,” I begin, breathless.

“It’s because he knows I’ve struggled with the same things.” And I wonder how I can boil everything down to a simple conclusion. How can I talk about stumbling and distrust and wondering if God really loves you…about dark nights when you think you had something with God and then you are shaken to the core and you wonder if you were ever founded on the right foundation?

I take a deep breath. Everyone is looking at me. The weight of responsibility for my words is heavy on my shoulders. How can I ever say the right thing?

“The conclusion I’ve come to is this,” I tell them. “It comes down to knowing and trusting the character of God.”

They’ve read the Bible before, so I explain. “You know John the Baptist? How he spent his entire life preaching Jesus and then he was arrested? And while he was in prison, waiting for his head to get cut off, he sent friends to ask Jesus, “Are you really the One?”

“His faith was shaken to the core. He was doubting and in a very stormy place.

“What Jesus said is very interesting.  He told John to evaluate things on the basis of scripture, not circumstance. But then He said something very important and insightful. He said, “Blessed is the one who does not stumble on account of Me.”

“And I looked up that word “stumble” and did a word study on it, because that’s where I was at: a doubting, stormy, afflicted place in my faith.

“And this is what I found that changed everything for me…”

{Part II of our conversation with Eric and Woody tomorrow}

This post is linked up to Ann’s Walk with Him Wednesday. Today the discussion is faith…

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