Rain is a God thing

So after my week in a half of being way too deep in my own head I finally came to a point of utter done-ness. If you haven’t read my last blog and learned about my little freak out, I encourage you too- if nothing else you’ll probably get a good laugh.

Back to my moment of done-ness. First let me explain some things about me. 1) I am a ridiculously independent person. Tyler is one of the only people who has ever seen my full range of raw emotions, most people will think they’ve seen me mad, sad, or even happy but it’s usually a very tamed down version of my true emotions. 2) Even though Tyler has seen those emotions and is so good about helping me through them, the first thing I want to do is be alone. In fact, if he tries to comfort or talk to me, the emotions usually end up turning on him in a blaze of angry fire eyes. (love you honey!) 3) I am a control freak. As much as I try to “let go and let God”, “let it go”, and all the other needlepoint sayings about releasing, I just can’t. I’m working on it, but it’s definitely an uphill battle. Now that that’s covered, here we go:

So Tuesday night we have our ABS Bible study. We usually go from 7:30-9pm and have a really good time. This Tuesday night was a little different because instead of studying a specific topic, we decided to come with questions and discuss them. Not surprisingly, a lot of our questions had to do with the differences in denominations and why we believe what we believe. So 9 rolls around and Mama Carmen’s start shutting down, but we do not. We decide that what every person needs after Coffee and Jesus is Ice Cream and more Jesus, plus we’re still discussing so we head to Braum’s. Flash forward about an hour and most of the ABSer’s are gone with only a handful left when Michael asks me how my week’s been going. Word Vomit. That’s what comes out of my mouth, Word Vomit. I unload on this poor guy all my questions about concerns about living in the “But if not’s” (again see last post for clarification). And my awesome self does this in front of one of my bosses, my huzzyband, and a few other ABSer’s that I’m supposed to help lead. Neat. So they ask me about it. I explain that I’m great in the “but if not’s”, in fact, I tend to live there most of the time. I have an issue with believing God will do what he can do. It’s not that I don’t believe in miracles or that God has the power to work miracles, it’s just that in my experience the answers have been “but if not’s”. I’m stuck in this place of head knowing God can do it but not truly heart believing that He will.

Reminder, when I get like this I have to work problems out in my head, at least a little ways before I can discuss them with other people.

Tyler and I head home and he asks if I want to talk about it which I decline wholeheartedly. He goes off to do some work and I set up with my Harry Potter book and my Bible. Weird mix right? I switch back and forth reading for a few hours until it’s around 1am. I get ready for bed, Tyler tells me goodnight because he’s still working and then he asks if I want to pray. Y’all I said no. I just couldn’t. As silly as it is, the last thing I wanted to do was pray with this private school kid to a God that I felt like I was failing. So Tyler, being the kind and wonderful fellow he is says ok and that even though I don’t want to pray he wants me to know he has been and will continue to pray for me and he goes back to his office. What do I do next? I lock him out. Not because I was mad at him, but because I knew I needed some alone time with God to hash everything out and pour my soul out (super independent emotional remember?). I get in the floor because suddenly my bed felt uncomfortable, started praying, and flipped open my Bible. I knew I wanted to land in the Psalms, but had no idea where so I started flipping pages until something caught my eye:

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah
You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I consider the days of old, the years long ago. I said,1 “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search: “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah
Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side. The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook. Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flockby the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Psalms 77 was exactly what I needed to read. I don’t know if you caught the third paragraph, but notice “I will remember your wonders of old” and “You are the God who works wonders”. Ummm What?!?!? Now skip down to the 4th paragraph “yet your footprints were unseen”. I felt like God was flicking me in the forehead with this!

Confession Time: I ugly cried. Just me, myself, and God. With my Bible open, my door locked, and my face flat on the floor I cried and cried and begged God for a sign that He will work miracles. I specifically asked that He would send rain the next day. Rain is one of my absolute favorite things so it just made sense to ask for rain to be the sign, plus it’s been so hot lately. I wake up the next morning (yesterday), still asking for rain. I go about my day still asking for rain. Nothing happens. Well, things happened but no physical rain.

So tonight Tyler and I go to dinner. I haven’t told him about my cry fest yet, so we start talking about it over food. I explain what happened and how I’m not even that disappointed because I live in the “but if not’s”. I’m comfortable in them. And then he asks me something “If God had made it rain, would it have changed anything?” Honestly no, other then I would’ve felt better. I still believe that God is God and He is good. I still believe the Bible is truth. I still know that God can work miracles and has in the past. I just don’t expect him to. So we go on about our evening and I start cleaning the house. He takes a break from work to come take the trash out and when he comes back in he says he needs to show me something. I’m thinking someone has broken into our cars or the trash busted and we’re going to have to pick it all up. I walk outside and am met with flashes of light. At first I don’t get it, and then Tyler just looks at me and smiles and I get it. While it’s not quite rain, it’s lightening. It’s a sign of rain to come. Not 15 minutes later I’m sitting on my front porch watching it rain and laughing at myself because I remember what I asked for. I asked God “to make it rain tomorrow” as a sign He still moves and works miracles. I prayed that pray about 2:30am Wednesday Morning. It started raining Thursday evening. Tomorrow. Today. God showed up, even with me doubting.

While I will probably always live in the “but if not’s” and be comfortable there, I have assurance that God does rescue, He does save, and He does answer prayer. And just as a fun fact for you, Tyler wasn’t going to help me clean tonight, he was busy with a proposal for work. He just happened to decide to get to a pausing point to take a break and decided to see if I needed help cleaning. As we were cleaning, he just happened to take the trash out and see the lightening (because we could’ve waited until tomorrow to take it out). Because he had taken a break and helped me clean, we got done earlier so I just happened to decide to stay up for a bit and read. Because I was reading and not watching TV, I just happened to hear the rain start. Y’all, that’s a whole lotta coincidences in my “tomorrow”.

Tonight I am humbled by God’s love and provision. I praise Him because no matter how many times I pull away or try to fit Him into my god-box, He shows me who He really is and pulls me back to Him.

Tonight, I am praising God for rain.

Do I really?

Do I really believe God is who He says He is? Do I really believe God can do anything, and be everywhere, and save me? Do I believe that God is and does what He says He is and will do?

I know in my head that God is good, gracious, just, and merciful. I know in my head the attributes that make God, well, God.  But what I’m not sure about is do I really believe it. Do I live like I believe it?

Somewhere along the way, I seem to have gained a fairly good head knowledge of God but I’m lacking in the heart and hand knowledge. Please don’t mistake this, I know that God saved me many moons ago and that He is continuously drawing me closer to him. He is continuously refining me, chiseling off my rough edges bit by bit. Even when I’m in the middle of a mess, I am fully confident that God is molding me and preparing me for something (even if I don’t necessarily appreciate that). I know that. What I’ve come to realize though is that as much as I believe God can do anything in my head and say as much with my mouth, in the very darkest corners of my heart I’m not sure I believe He will.

I’ve lived through God’s not healing. I understand that sometimes that in and of itself is a greater testimony and answer to prayer than healing would be. But somewhere in the mix of my past experiences, I’ve stopped believing that God is in the business of miracles. I’ve pushed God down into a predictable little box that I can understand. Even when miracles do happen in my life and I say with my mouth that it’s God, in my heart of hearts I tend to lean toward luck or coincidence. Even though I know with my head that God’s fingerprints are all over so many miracles in our lives, (prime example: Tom’s Visa) there’s a block in my heart that keeps from believing it wholeheartedly.

Even though God answered my prayers and gave me the desires of my heart in meeting and marrying Tyler, I tend to wait for the rug to be pulled out beneath me.

I’ve been listening to some old If:Gathering messages (and they’re AWESOME btw), and maybe that’s what brought this all on, but I can’t help but see these amazing Christian Women who are so open, so real, and so raw on stage and I envy them.  How cool would it be to get to encourage and teach women about God for a living? And then I think “I could totally do that- I’m open about my issues, and my heartaches, and my life; I’m an open book!” And then I start thinking about how many times I’ve offered up this hand just so you wouldn’t look at that one. I am so open with some stories just so you never think to ask about others. I confess the flashy neon sins just so I never have to talk about the others. Sure I’ll go to the altar to pray during church, but I’m always aware that I can’t loose it because then I’ll have to walk back to my seat and I don’t want to have to answer question. I live in a constant illusion of taking off one mask and throwing it as far as I can just so you don’t look too closely at me.

In listening to these If:Gathering talks, Jennie Allen shared some insights from here book Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked my God and my Soul. Here’s a quick excerpt from it:

“If I was the devil, I’d tell you what I’d do.  I would try to deceive you and get you into error.  I would get you off base.  And if you still stayed true, I would try to disqualify you.  I would get you immoral, I would get you where no one would believe what came out of your mouth.  I would make you a tabloid, where nobody would believe you.  I would remove your confidence until you were afraid to speak because your life was a shamble.  I would get you into sin.  I would prowl like a roaring lion to devour you morally.

And if I couldn’t do that, I would try to make you successful.  And I would distract you if I couldn’t disqualify you.  I would get you busy.  I would get you so distracted to the gospel that no longer would your prayers be about holiness and souls.  They would only be about the bottom line in your business.  I would get you materialistic, and no longer concerned about the spiritual nature of life.  If I couldn’t do that, I would divide you.  If I couldn’t divide you, I’ve almost lost you.  You know what I’d do then?  I’d discourage you.  And then if I couldn’t discourage you, I’d try death.  I would try my best to kill you.  That’s what I would do to take you out.”

Not only is Jennie a fantastic speaker and author, she hit the nail on the head with this one. And now let me add one to it: “If I were the devil, I would make you think you believed God by giving you a god you can understand. A god that does things the way you would do them.” After all, that’s what most of expect. This is NOT God.

God is greater than anything we can imagine. He performs miracles all the time if only we would have eyes to see them. He gives us glimpses of his divine love and amazing nature through creation. Every single day He gives us little blips of joy and happiness straight from Him. But we don’t see it. I don’t see it, because I don’t look for it. I don’t ask for it. I don’t prepare for rain when I know God is more than capable of sending a downpour.

I don’t know what the answer is to this. Even as I write this I think of Elijah on Mt. Caramel with the prophets of Baal (1 King 18) and I can’t imagine being in his shoes. Not because of how amazing it would’ve been to see God take those fake prophets out, but because I doubt. Elijah went up against 450 prophets of Baal (PoB) to prove that God is God. To summarize, Elijah challenged the PoB to set up an alter with a bull on it and whichever God accepted the offering (by burning it) was the true God. For ~4 hours Elijah waited and watched as the PoB’s danced and prayed and begged their god to burn up the offering. In Elijah’s sassyness he tells them ,”Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” (Seriously E? He definitely had on his sassy pants!) So the PoB yell louder and end up cutting themselves to try to attract their god’s attention. Finally, it was Elijah’s turn. He built his altar and then commanded 4 big jars of water to be dumped on it. He then commanded the same to be done again and again a third time. There was so much water on the altar that it was soaked! It even filled the ditch around it with water.Remember, the sign of the true God was going to be if the offering burned up on the altar. So after Elijah douses his altar he prays. He prays that God would answer him so that the people would know God and have their hearts turned back to him. And BOOM! The fire of God consumed the offering, the altar, and all of the water that Elijah had dumped on it. So in a matter of seconds, a bull, an altar (made of stones, rocks, and wood), and 12 big jars of water that had drenched the aforementioned all burned up.

I can’t imagine being in Elijah’s shoes because I can’t imagine being that confident that God would come through. Oh and since I forgot to mention it, Elijah had a price on his head during this time so not only was his reputation on the line, his life was too considering he did this in front of King Ahab. If God chose to limit his power when Elijah asked, not only would the Israelite’s have turned even more from God, Elijah would’ve been killed. Talk about true faith!

So do I really have the kind of faith it takes to believe God. No. Do I have even an ounce of the kind of faith Elijah had? It sure doesn’t feel like it. Y’all I want to pray that God will continue molding me so that one day I’ll have that kind of faith, but if I’m being totally honest- I’m almost scared to say those words. Do I really want the kind of faith that demands action? Do I really want to be like Elijah and stand against the odds and face my own demise? Do I really want to change the world and win souls for Christ even if it wrecks my idea for my life? Or would I rather stay sitting on my couch in Fayetteville enjoying my favorite show on Netflix? Do I truly want to be moved to action or am I comfortable in complacency? Do I really want to surrender my entire will and my entire life or do I just want to give God pieces?

These are the questions that I have to answer with my heart. These are the questions that require a life change. I’m not sure I’m ready to try to answer them, but here they come whether I want them to or not. What’s your answer?

 

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Is aight wrong or right?

I’m doing an online Bible Study through LifeWay for the Armor of God. (It’s fab, check it out here. Not too late to join in!) Anyway, I’m just beginning Week 2 and am now learning about the Belt of Truth.

We’ve learned over the last week that the enemy is the devil (obvi) and that he is a tricky little feller. John 8:44 tells us that Satan is the father of lies. He is an illusionist giving us just enough truth to let our guards down. Then he pounces!

I was talking to a good friend a few nights ago and we got on the subject of Dave Ramsey. She was telling me about one of his illustrations using Cheetahs and Antelopes. Although Ramsey was using this illustration to show the dangers of Credit Cards, it also fits in pretty perfectly illustrating the devil. In essence, he says that although Cheetahs are much faster than Antelopes, the Antelopes still have a chance as long as they have their Cheetah tracker on. It seems that the Antelopes have discovered if they are alerted to a Cheetah in close proximity and bob and weave as they run away, they can survive! The Antelopes have figured out the Cheetah’s plan of attack and creates their own plan of survival. How cool would it be if instead of a Cheetah tracker alerting us to their proximity, we had a devil tracker. If we could know when he was getting ready to pounce, would we do things differently?

While we don’t have a neon sign letting us know when the devil gets near, we do have the belt of truth. You see, if we will start sifting our lives through truth (God’s word) we can tell when things don’t quite line up. For example, you meet this really awesome guy, he makes a ton of money, is handsome, is kind, and loves his momma. Awesome right? Then you find out he doesn’t love Jesus and you remember 2 Cor 6:14 about not being unequally yoked. You have a situation don’t you! Do you continue on ignoring the verse and hoping you can convert him or do you trust that God’s word, the truth, actually is truth?

I use this example because it’s the one that resonated with me best. Y’all, I was a pro at convincing myself that my way was right (still am, bless Tyler’s heart). But I used to be very good at explaining away the things I did that didn’t line up with God’s teaching. I still struggle with this all the time. Control is one of my biggest issues- don’t believe me, ask some of my High School Friends (Sorry again for being crazy pants guys!). There’s a difference in knowing the truth and girding your loins, or literally folding yourself, in truth.

gird-up-your-loins-2

You can wear the belt of truth all your life and never actually gird your loins with it. Just look at the illustration above, box 1 and box 6 make a huge difference in battle!

Which brings me to our bible characters for the day. Eve and Samson. I know I know, we all know about Eve and her epic failure. But when I was studying about the differences in right and wrong and right and almost right, I realized the devil has a lot more success using almost right then he does using wrong information. Let’s look at a part of Eve’s story found in Genesis 3:1-5.

 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

From the very beginning the devil has been crafty, little trickster. Do you see what he does? He asked a question that contained a half truth. The end of verse 1, read it again, I’ll wait……. He asks about any tree, not the one tree he knew to be off limits. And what does Eve do? She adds in her own stipulations. Oh not only can we not eat it, but we can’t even touch it or we’ll die. (Side not: They hadn’t even seen death yet, Adam and Even had no basis to know what death was so that’s kinda crazy pants!) The devil in his trickster ways responds with “Oh honey, surely you won’t die! I think God just got confused because all this does is let  you see good and evil just like Him. Unless that is why he doesn’t want you to be like him?” TRICKY TRICKY LITTLE SATAN MAN. Do you see how Satan never actually told her the wrong thing, he didn’t tell her the right thing, he just told her the aight thing. And he minimized the consequences in doing so.

Now on to Samson. Y’all, he used to be one of my favorite characters and until I actually read his whole story. He’s still a really cool guy, but he was kind of a turd head. You can read his whole story in Judges 13-16, but for now I’ll just paraphrase.

Samson meets this Philistine girl and falls in love with her (not Delilah). During his wedding week festivities, he gives the attendees a riddle that if they solve it he owes them clothes and if they don’t they all owe him clothes. After 3 days they still can’t solve this riddle so they go to his almost wife on the 4th day. They threaten her and her father by saying they’re going to burn them alive. So she goes to Samson and begs him to tell her. For the rest of the feast, she cries and begs and cries and begs and cries and begs until finally on the seventh day he caves. He tells her the answer to the riddle, so tells those he challenged with it, and before the night ends on the seventh day Samson is indebted to them for all those clothes! So he gets mad, storms off, and doesn’t end up marrying almost wife. Flash forward to Chapter 16 and here comes Delilah! He notices her, the Philistines notice him noticing her so they tell her to seduce him. “Oh little Delilah, how about you use your wily woman ways to figure out how we can beat him? He has to have an Achilles heel, just figure out what it is.” So she tries to. Three different times she asks and pleads just to have him tell her a lie and finally she nagged him enough that his soul was “vexed to death” and he tells her about his hair. Keep in mind that after each of the 3 false alarms he gave her, she sold him out. Every. Single. Time. Every time she would wake him up after having done whatever he told her would zap his strength to be met by Philistines. Surely Samson wasn’t a dumb man, but come on. 3 different times this woman tries to hurt you and what do you do? You tell her the truth, jeez- men! (jokes)

Y’all, sometimes the devil is like Delilah. He just keeps nagging and nagging and no matter how many times we try to bob and weave our way away from him he just catches back up and starts again. The only way we can wake up to his nagging and schemes is by using something outside of ourselves to judge. If Samson had a best guy friend, the friend probably would’ve told him how crazy Delilah was and to not get involved in the first place. Luckily for us, we have an unchanging, objective standard by which to judge whatever comes our way. If we judge whatever decision, problem, or life happening we have by what is in God’s Word, it can give us a clear perspective of ourselves. Are we letting our emotions run away with us like Samson? Are we letting our imagination get the best of us like Eve?

If we affirm the Word of God above our feelings, our desires, our fears, our hopes, our dreams, and ourselves, then we’ll be able to resist the lies, schemes, and tricks of the devil. He will have no foot hole into our lives. If we know truth, there will be no room for almost right. If we have what is right, we can pick out what is wrong and what is aight (almost right) and learn to stay away from them.

Have you come to the end of yourself?

So today has been my “How can I pray for you?” day. Every few weeks I get a wild hair and text random people in my phone that simple question. Nothing else, just “How can I pray for you?”

Today I decided that one of the people I would text is Tyler’s cousin Sarah. I had her number in my phone from a while ago (apparently) and didn’t realize she had gotten a new one. The response I got from ‘Sarah’ was simply “Who is this?” I responded and then got “Where u from?” and that’s when I thought “oh no….”

Sarah was not actually Sarah, but was a man named Chris. I admire Chris because without hesitation he told me that he needed prayer. He was facing the possibility of cancer and had recently had a biopsy done but didn’t have results yet. Y’all, I wish I could be more like Chris. Instead I hope and pray that no one responds asking how they can pray for me.

You see, there are things that I desperately want prayer for but they’re private. I can’t quite bring myself to open up about them, even to my closest friends and family. So I want to challenge myself {and you} to live and pray intentionally. I want us to break down the walls and have real relationships where we share the real hurts. So here it goes:

Tyler and I made the decision a little over a month ago that while we wouldn’t necessarily try to get pregnant, we also wouldn’t necessarily not try either. For those of you that know me, being a wife and momma has been my hearts desire for as long as I can remember. And because I know next to nothing about pregnancy, babies, anything of that nature, I started to research everything I could about it. And then I was late. Fear. Excitement. Terror. Joy. I had such mixed emotions because I really didn’t feel ready to have a baby, but I also yearned for one more than anything else. And then the test came back negative. Y’all, this crushed me. I had to tell Tyler right before a big meeting that I was in charge of that 1) I had taken a pregnancy test and 2) That it came back negative. I felt like such a weenie! But my mind immediately went to the what if’s. What if I end up having fertility issues? What if we never are able to get pregnant? What if we can’t adopt? What if? What if?

Needless to say I’ve been on the verge of tears for about a week now because my mind is bombarded with the fear and uncertainty of not being in control. Of not knowing what’s going to happen. I’m not pregnant, but I do need your prayers.

I need your prayers that I could let go of the death grip I have on this part of my life. That I would relinquish my control over to the Creator. That I could trust that His plan and timing is better than mine. That ultimately I could find contentment and peace in Him and nothing else.

Y’all, I need your help to break down these walls surrounding our hearts desires and our deepest hurts. I need your help to keep me accountable. Friend, we have to start being vulnerable with each other and letting God move in us. Let’s start today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Side note: Once again, I’m not pregnant. Please don’t ask when/if I or any other young married’s will get pregnant. When the time comes, if the time comes, we will let you know. Until then, hush your mouth 😉