Candy blogs: I am honored to be guest posting today over at my new online friends’, Kevin & Melissa Main’s, blog … MainWriters: Faith and Family. Click here to read it. This is one of my favorite posts written as I was pondering and praising God for freedom in Christ.
Kevin and Melissa Main are avid writers with many gifts and talents to share with the Body of Christ. You will enjoy their work, photographs and their wisdom.
For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy! Psalm 149:4-5
Candy blogs: God only opens the door to the future one step at a time. I remember about 15 years ago I was right in the middle of a huge jam. I was raised to DO and WORK and SERVE in the church. I was raised to try to get more on the DO side and less on the DON’T side. More on the good side than the bad side. I did and worked and served and rarely said no because I thought that the approval of men would make me more loveable to God.
At the age of 38 I found myself to be an angry, exhausted, resentful, frustrated, powerless, empty woman. I saw my life then as a mini tornado that swirled and swirled in front of my face. And I could see “issues” swirling around in the tornado but they were moving so fast I couldn’t make out what they were. I knew these were things God wanted to talk to me about but I didn’t know how to make the swirling stop so I could focus on those issues.
When I finally stepped off the roller coaster life I’d been leading my whole life, I began to see the swirling slow and then stop. The issues became clear to me.
What I had feared, my Red Sea, was solitude. Quietness. Lack of activity.
Through a powerful class and God’s Word, I began to unpack those issues in quietness and stillness. I was afraid of the quiet because I knew that the knocking on my heart’s door would become so loud I would have to
actually DEAL with it. The first lesson? Stop all forward motion. Sit at Jesus’ feet. Listen and don’t speak.
This seemed impossible for me to do. I was a doer. I was goer. But the direction was clear. STOP. BE. What I discovered was that I had gotten to the place where I could no longer hear God’s voice. I was wandering around in the desert hitting my head on brick walls. But as I put myself intentionally into times of quietness, adding margin for stillness into each day … time to process and think things all the way through … reading His Word and talking to the Lord … and just sitting in His presence, His voice became familiar to me and I could begin to understand the other issues He wanted to talk to me about.
When I held up the mirror of God’s Word, I saw ugliness looking back at me. … pride, arrogance, self-sufficiency, dominating, cruel, irritable, easily angered, needing to be the center of attention, craving approval & applause. These were my bondage, my Egypt.
The journey out of that mess was long and painful. I faced a few armies and obstacles and changes of course. It felt like I was crossing the Red Sea, looking at the wall of water on both sides of me and wondering if they would hold, wondering if God was truly making a way for ME … but all the while being totally aware that I was walking on dry land.
I crossed into freedom and have never been the same. I don’t walk perfectly but I no longer feel guilty about things that don’t really matter. I have a strong sense of joy and purpose. I rest in knowing that no matter what I DO or DON’T do, God will never love me more or less. I don’t wonder anymore if I am good enough. I listen more than I talk. I lean IN to His will and purposes for me instead of running away from them. I serve in my God-given strengths instead of saying yes to every opportunity that presents itself. My spirit is teachable and ready to hear and apply Truth. I hear His voice when He speaks to me.
I believe that every step of our journey is a choice. We can shake our fists at God and question His ways (which, BTW, He can handle and doesn’t love us less for) or we can look for how He is building our character. We may not always control what comes our way but we can choose our response.
Now … the questions for pondering and discussion on the way to our transformation …
What is your Egypt? Are you in bondage to anything?
What is your Red Sea? What do you fear?
We all have our own list. Is anything standing between you and freedom?
But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? Galatians 4:9
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
There is an old song I used to sing. So meaningful to me at different times in my life. It came to mind as I was working through this post.
♥¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ Janet Pascal ♥¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥
Keep choosing His ways … they always lead to freedom.
Candy blogs: The Israelites are such a great example of what not to do, aren’t they? I remember the first time I read through the entire Bible, I was in my 20’s. I kept stopping to whine to the Lord about what idiots the Israelites were as they wandered around in the desert. God would do a big miracle for them and they’d be happy for about five minutes. Then they’d go do something stupid and get themselves in a huge jam that only God could get them out of. And God would save them. And they’d be happy for another five minutes and the cycle just seemed to continue until Jesus came.
In my 20’s this was frustrating for me to read over and over. I just wanted them to learn the lesson, love and obey God and WIN! Get on with it. Start LIVING the life God freed them to live instead of wandering around hitting their heads against brick walls all the time.
And this happened right out of the chutes. They had just barely left Egypt after the HUGE miracles of the plagues. They were all believing God and ready to BE FREE. God had been leading them with the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. They could actually SEE the presence of God every minute of their day and night. God’s presence was tangible. I like to imagine going to sleep at night in that camp and perhaps awakening to troubling sounds. But then looking over at the pillar of fire … there it was. God’s presence. What a comfort.
Pharaoh changed his mind about letting them go and sent his army after them to bring them back. So when the Israelites saw that the Egyptian army was coming after them, they were suddenly aware that they were a huge, vulnerable group of newly freed slaves, untrained and unaccustomed to war. The Egyptian army, on the other hand, was the best trained and best equipped army in the world. So they had 600 Egyptian chariots coming at them from one side and when they turned the other way, there was the Red Sea.
They were truly trapped. This was their first huge jam.
Well, of course they were terrified and started screaming at Moses about why in the world they were out in the middle of the desert in this horrible situation when they could be back in Egypt happily making bricks and living in slavery.
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But is it?
What would our first reaction be if we found ourselves figuratively between an army and the sea? We always SAY we would choose freedom. We’d choose GOD’S ways. We would be OBEDIENT because God’s side always WINS.
But the challenge the Lord put before me recently is this: WE SAY THAT GOD WILL MAKE A WAY. We believe this. We know God’s Word, the Bible, says this. We often say this to others when THEY’RE in a huge jam.
But when WE’RE facing adversity, often our life actually reflects something more like: BUT WILL HE MAKE A WAY FOR ME?
God usually leads us one step at a time.
Very seldom do we hear of someone who got the whole life plan from the Lord when they first came to know Him. It was the same for the Israelites. When they set out in the desert, no one knew exactly where they were going. They were just … going. They just followed the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. The pillars confirmed God’s presence and His leadership.
So that meant that God had led them directly to this very tight spot. It wasn’t a mistake. It wasn’t an error in judgment. It wasn’t rebellion. How could there possibly be so much trouble when they were clearly where God wanted them to be?
Moses was just following orders. He didn’t know what to do. He’d just spent 40 years on the other side of the desert. He didn’t know how to lead a million or more people. So God took over.
The pillar they’d been following then moved behind the people to stand between the army and the people. It stayed there all night. And while the pillar was protecting them, God told Moses to stretch out his staff over the sea so that the Israelites could go through the sea on dry land. This took all night long. I bet they weren’t expecting that.
What the Israelites feared (the sea)
became their way to freedom.
God’s plan for us doesn’t include coexisting with “the Egyptians”… he wants us free. Coping … getting by … settling for is NOT the plan. Overcoming is God’s plan. Staying in Egypt means slavery and bondage. God always wants to lead us to a better place. He always leads us forward to the promise.
What do I mean by God will “make a way”? Did God always intervene in the battles of Israel? Did they always win their battles? No. There were many, many years of enemy occupation of Israel. Does this mean that God will always get me out of all my jams … at least as I see jams? No. None of us
escapes hard things. The promise of God isn’t to spare us from conflict but to
help us overcome them.
God only opens the door to the future one step at a time.
This makes me think … does my life really line up with my beliefs, values and the words that come out of my mouth? There will be more in Part II …
This post was inspired by a lesson written by Daniel N. Berg
Candy blogs: In finally gathering all my writings from all over the house and all over my computer into one place, I stumbled upon this bit of journaling from 1997. It was another milestone, a monument in my spiritual journey, that I can now look back on to celebrate a new direction. My God never changes. How He works and speaks can change, but HE never does.
A testimony of God’s direction from 1997 …
Monday, February 17
I had been on several job interviews and I wasn’t at peace with any of them. A friend’s name came to my mind so I called her to see if they were still going to be hiring someone full time. She said yes!
Tuesday, February 18
In my devotions I read about the story of how the children of Israel came right up the Promised Land, grumbled and complained, disobeyed God and God told them they would not be allowed to enter. He killed many of them in judgment. Then, of course, the people believed God and said they WANTED to go in after all. They actually started to go but Moses said, “Do not go up! The Lord is not with you. You will be defeated . . .”
I was devastated because I felt that the Lord had really given me this verse and that it applied to taking this job. I tried to think of every reason that He wouldn’t want me to take it. I tried to rationalize that it didn’t apply to this job but to another issue Scott and I had been considering. I tried to go this way and that way but I couldn’t get away from the fact that God had given me this verse. I told the Lord I would continue to pray.
Wednesday, February 19
In my devotions I read the story of the budding of Aaron’s rod. The Levites had risen up against Aaron as the only chosen high priest. They didn’t think he should be singled out, that there were other holy men in the tribe of Levi. The Lord told Moses to have representatives from each of the tribes take a rod and write their names on it. Moses was to put all the rods in the Tabernacle overnight and in the morning, whichever rod had budded was God’s chosen high priest. The next morning, Aaron’s rod had not only budded (it didn’t just have a little bud on it!), it blossomed, it had leaves, it had ALMONDS on it!! I wasn’t sure what the message was here until I went to prayer (on the treadmill!). I felt very sure that God was telling me not to take the job because when the right opportunity came, there would be no doubt at all that God was directing me.
Scott and met with my friends for lunch and an interview. I was prepared to listen to their presentation but really felt that I would just be telling them I couldn’t accept the position. What they offered was much more than I ever expected in every way. I wanted to accept the job. The only thing that really bothered me was a 90 day wait on the health insurance. I knew that our son, Adam, was going on tour to San Francisco in April and I didn’t feel it would be responsible to send him off without health insurance. So I was very troubled again. Scott felt very comfortable with the position also except for the insurance question.
Thursday, February 20
In my devotions I received no word from the Lord! I went into my devotions expectantly, wanting to hear from Him because I so wanted to accept the job. I spent the day investigating the health insurance question. Scott’s insurance and Red Cross’ COBRA monthly amounts were the same – $378 per month. We knew we couldn’t afford that for three months. I struggled all day. I kept hearing the Lord say, ” I AM talking to you, Candy! You’re not listening!” I kept going back to the concept of the Experiencing God class where the four areas are to line up to determine God’s will. The circumstances and the Body seemed to be lining up but I wasn’t lining up in Scripture and in prayer. I struggled! I went to lunch with a friend. She said she thought I’d better be obedient since things weren’t lining up. Scott said only I could make the decision.
I was to have told my friends this day what my answer was. I was to have given notice to my current employer this day. I couldn’t! I didn’t! That evening Scott told me to call my friend and tell her my concerns. I really didn’t see what should could do about it – it was the policy of the insurance company. But I called her. She said she was going to call the insurance company and see if anything could be done. She also said that she might consider holding the position open until after Adam’s trip. I didn’t think that was realistic.
Friday, February 21
In my devotions I read the story of Balaam and his talking donkey. The children of Israel were moving through the Promised Land and came up to Moab. The king of Moab was afraid that they would overtake Moab so he sent word to Balaam, a diviner, to come and put a curse on Israel. Balaam told the messengers that he would have to consult with God to see what he should do. God told him that he was not to go with these men, and that the Israelites were blessed. The Moabite king sent more important messengers to again ask him to come and curse Israel. Balaam consulted God. This time God told him he should go with the men but that he should only say what He wanted him to say.
I wondered what the message for me was. In prayer (on the treadmill) I felt my message was that at first God had told me “not to go with these men,” not to take the job. Then that I could go ahead and take the job if certain conditions were met, namely the insurance problem. I felt the Lord’s presence so strongly during prayer this day! I knew I had been obedient and that I could move forward in this direction knowing I was in His will.
Later in the morning, my friend called. She said she was still waiting to hear from the insurance company but that she had decided that she would definitely hold the position open until after Adam’s trip if we couldn’t work out the insurance. I couldn’t believe it! Then a few minutes later she called with news from the insurance company. They said that since I was already with Blue Cross that I could simply transfer my insurance with no lapse! We were both flabbergasted by this news! The thought came to me, “Now THERE’S some ALMONDS!!”
I shared this story with my friend and she said it made her want to know God more so He would talk to her like that, too! I gave my notice to my employer this day. I am moving forward. Praise His name!
Reading this testimony from my past about how God carefully moved me where He was working reminded me that the God who directed me in the past will most certainly direct me in the present and future. My life is still in His loving hands. He can be trusted when He says to be still or move forward. This greatly encouraged my heart today. I hope it encourages yours.
22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
Candy blogs: If you know me, you know that I love to be a moment catcher … noticing meaningful moments and celebrating them … and hopefully with the camera! I’ve always called them “moments” and they are always unexpected so you have to be ready at all times to “catch” one.
I was inspired by a fellow blogger’s post, Elaine, at Peace for the Journey. It made me stop and think about my own, what Elaine calls, “sacred intersections”. I’ve had them. I even look for and anticipate them. What a wonderful tag for such moments! Sacred intersections … I’m not talking about the kind of moments where the music starts to build like in the movies and your moment unfolds dramatically. Like this one for me:One evening during our 20th anniversary weekend in Sun Valley we opened the door to the condo to go to a romantic dinner only to find huge snowflakes falling softly all around us among the aspen trees; it was silent … it was magical … it was unexpected. And it really happened. I could almost hear the music. It made us feel young and helped us remember when our love was young. (insert sound of scratching LP record)
Nice moment but I’m talking about moments when God interrupts our plans and routines and helps us remember HIS purposes for the day. On days when we are well into the details of a busy day, He comes to remind us that we have a higher purpose than checking off the items of a to do list. He interjects eternity into our day.
Our attitude, our interactions, our reactions, our kindnesses speak volumes throughout eternity. Why does the world give Christians such a hard time when their words or actions don’t reflect Christ? Because people are wanting to see if Jesus Christ truly makes a difference. How we treat the servers who wait on us in restaurants, the bank tellers, the grocery clerks, the floor sweepers, the person ahead of us in line, the customer service agent on the phone speaks loudly to the world. We can be demanding, impatient and condescending one minute, and then if God interjects eternity and we learn that person just lost a loved one or they are going through a painful divorce, our attitude instantly changes. Suddenly we’re thinking about their need and their eternal soul instead of how long it’s taking for our meal to arrive.
Recently God sent me some sacred intersections, some moments from eternity.♥ This week I went to have my haircut. The person ahead of me was finished right on time. I was thinking, “Good, we’ll get started on time and I can get on to the next thing before Scott gets home.” But this person was very chatty. She was chatting on and on about her illness and the conflicting advice from her doctors. I kept my head down reading a magazine but inside I was thinking, “Great. How long is she going to go on about all that?! She isn’t even concerned that my appointment time has come and gone. How rude. I would never do that to someone.”
Suddenly I noticed that the conversation had turned to where she could find a good Bible Study. (I didn’t hear the transition because I was talking to myself.) And my hair professional was saying, “Candy can help you with that. Candy, where would you recommend she find a good Bible Study?” God had interjected eternity into this moment! My “training” took over and I asked her a few basic questions to get some background. She was someone who loved God but didn’t feel comfortable calling herself a Christian. She had negative experiences with the Church and with Christians when she was young. She studies the Bible and her heart longed to know God.
Instantly my attitude had changed. I was thrilled to point this chatty woman to Jesus. All of a sudden I realized she had been chatting about her experience with CANCER. What was I thinking?! Here I was, a professed Christ-follower, only concerned with how long my haircut was going to take when this woman had come back from the brink of death and was reaching out to a loving God with her questions and her yearnings.
I was humbled by eternity.
♥ I looked around the room. I didn’t see any newcomers and few young women at this speaking engagement. I was wondering how God could use this event if everyone already knew Him. I didn’t want to play girlie luncheon. Then right in the middle of a very crucial part of my talk, a young woman walked in the door and sat down. There was some commotion as a place was made for her at a table, and I skillfully brought the audience back to attention. “Great,” I thought. “Another moment ruined by an interruption.”
Afterwards as we looked through the comment cards, there was a card from this woman who had arrived so late. She was from a local retirement center and had come to pick up one of those “older women” who already knew the Lord. This young woman had checked the box asking for more information about becoming a Christian!
God had interjected eternity. I couldn’t see His plan. But He was busy working his purposes, moving people into position to be touched in answer to prayer … I and the event leaders were just cogs in the wheel always in motion. Once again I had forgotten that God is ALWAYS at work. I don’t have to know or see all the details; I’m only responsible for my own obedience.
Eternity touches us when obedience meets opportunity.
Will you join me in taking time today to notice the sacred intersections (thanks for that beautiful tag, Elaine), the moments when we have the chance to touch eternity? We are God’s hands and feet and heart. The way we move through today does matter … forever.