Trials to Triumph and Everything In-Between

hopelessness2

On May 16th, our 45th wedding anniversary came and went. We were still without a home of our own. This year, 2009, was proving to be such a mix of blessings and stretching, trials and triumphs. The Matt Redman song, “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord,” became a tune on repeat that warred against the depression in my heart.

“Every blessing You pour out

I’ll turn back to praise

When the darkness closes in

Still, I will say,

Blessed be Your name…”

Over and over He pulled us through our down days. When I caught myself complaining or stressed beyond words to express, I retreated.  I cried into my pillow, hoping only God heard me.  I wanted to remain cheerful and caring in our household of uncertainties.

He was there to comfort, encourage and give me strength. He was there. That was the bottom line. We were not alone in our waiting and stretching.

On May 21st, I woke up with Chris Tomlin’s song, “I Will Rise.” The chorus played over and over on my inner jukebox.

“I will rise on eagle’s wings

No more sorrow, no more pain.

I will rise…”

Later that day, I recorded in my journal.  “Our offer on the Valley Springs house is finally on the table for consideration. A new appraisal is being ordered and we should know in a week or so what they decide.”

Two weeks later and counting, the house hunt saga continued. But at the same time, my joy grew as I became more and more acquainted with Kevin and Genevieve Horn. They were the pastors of the group meeting at IHOP – International House of Pancakes.

“Kevin is so laid back for a pastor,” I wrote in my journal. “Nothing ruffles him. He loves everyone. We have people from the business world, dressed in suits in our meetings. There are homeless that come and young people with tattoos and piercings. Grey-headed grandmas and grandpas and single moms with their children attend. Every person is loved and cared for with dignity and compassion.”

“Here we are in a public setting, a separate dining area separated from the rest of the lunch crowd by a wall of glass. Those in the public area can see everything that is happening even if they can’t hear. I was a little uncomfortable at first until I put my eyes on Jesus.  Then there I had the freedom to worship or pray or whatever.”

“We usually sing a few worship songs and then Kevin or Genevieve give a short message. Afterward, Holy Spirit gifts begin to flow in every meeting. Healing, deliverance, words of knowledge and prophecy are present.  At times waitresses join us and get prayer or healing. And there is almost always someone getting saved.”

“The only concern we’ve caused is when people are overcome by the Spirit and fall to the floor. We have to assure the management that 911 is not necessary.”

“Unlike other pastors from my past, Kevin’s main goal is to equip the Body to do the works of Jesus.  He and Genevieve want to activate the five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11-13.

‘And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…’ ”

“Kevin constantly encourages us to join in prayer when people need healing or help. He is not a one-man show, but is ever-teaching and equipping anyone who is willing. I’ve never been in a church group where God is able to move as He wants. But, if things get out of kilter, Kevin steps in with gentle firmness and uses it as a teaching moment for all.”

My IHOP meetings were during the week, I could still continue attending Mike’s church with him and Mom on Sundays. The group had a need for an adult class teacher, so, I volunteered. Mike and I had been through a set of DVD teachings by Irvin Baxter, while we were still in Missouri. The series was about the book of Revelation and we found them helpful for understanding.

All went well to start with but the class became a battleground. A couple of the members were not pleased.  We weren’t using ‘church curriculum,’ and they raised their objections.

One Sunday, after a volatile exchange in class, I came home in tears not knowing what to do. I went to our room and poured out my heart in my journal:

“Holy Spirit, I believe we handled the confrontation today in love, but it was not fun. You know the lessons before us. I need your leading through this valley of shadows and threats. Give me eyes to see You and hear Your voice.”

I flipped open my Bible, to look for a psalm that would lighten my heart but the first thing my eyes fell on was Ezekiel 2:6-7,  “Son of man, do not be afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briars and thorns are with you…do not be afraid of their words or be dismayed by their looks. Speak My words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear.” 

“Thank You, Holy Spirit for Your counsel.”

Next, I opened to Acts 18:9-10, “The Lord spoke to Paul in a night vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but speak and do not keep silent. For I am with you and no one will attack you or hurt you for, I have many people in this city.”

“Lord, by Your grace I will fulfill the good things You’ve planned in advance for me to do, here in this place.”

The following Sunday, I decided to put the class to a vote. “Do you want to go forward with this material or not?” The two members who spoke up before weren’t there. Every member present voted to continue.

Later, I talked to the other two and their hearts had changed but they didn’t want to attend the class.

By the end of June, we were still in the waiting mode. We’d been up to see the house several times and noted that the trees and shrubs were dying for lack of water. I wanted to take care of them, but couldn’t, except for the few gallon jugs of water we hauled up in our trunk.

I went into my secret place the next morning warring with discouragement, but did my best to keep my eyes on Jesus.

I heard Him say, “Sing little songbird sing. I love your songs. Sing.”

And so, I sang as the words came to my mind:

There is a song

Deep within my heart

A song for only You

The melody

The harmony

Is filled with love for You.

Then, I heard Jesus say, “Shall we dance, Beloved?”

“Yes, Lord.”

In a vision, I feel myself sweeping over a huge round dance floor with Jesus. The swish of my dress thrills me and the ease of movement as if I am gliding. Jesus is full of joy. We are in what appears to be an open gazebo.  I can look out over the landscape of mountains and the air is full of the scent of fresh pine.

“There is no striving here, Beloved. Only peace and rest. Joy and complete freedom, oneness with Me. All else pales beyond view as you enter into this dance of love.”

 “Dance with Me

I want to be your partner

Can’t you see, the music is just starting

Night is falling and I am calling

Dance with Me.”

Now I hear Jesus singing my song from His heart to me.

 “There is a song

Deep within My heart

A song for only you

The melody

The harmony

Is filled with love for you.”

 “Beloved. Waiting with Me is never too long. Rest in My love. Rest in My ability to fulfill all My promises. Shall we dance?”

Peace to wait returned. Being with Him calmed every storm.

For the next month or so, Holy Spirit stirred new songs in love and praise in my heart, almost daily. They lifted my eyes above the calendar and our one room existence to my ever living, glorious God.

In my effort to be a help around the house, I decided to give the kitchen floor a good scrub. Down on my hands and knees, I scrubbed and polished that floor until it shone. Yet, when it was time to go to bed and get some sleep, I was in such pain sleep was out of the question. Something was out of place– big time.

I saw a local chiropractor later, but there was little relief.

I don’t know about you, but when I don’t feel well, discouragement and depression love to pay a visit.

My journal holds the frustration—“Lord, help me find a place to talk and cry and pour out to You. I feel full of garbage and no place to empty it without being seen and heard. I so appreciate the space I have, but I still feel on display.

Father, send Your fire and consume this dung within that keeps me from moving in with You. Help me war for my inheritance, Holy Spirit. Show me. Give me a place. Help me fight the good fight of faith.

“It is well Beloved. It is well. Come to the waterfall with Me. Look at the fullness pouring out without measure.”

 Before me, in a vision, is a beautiful, pristine waterfall. It is full and pouring without hesitation or lack. I can hear the sound and feel the spray.

 “This is the availability of My Spirit to do all, provide all, sustain all in your life. There isn’t any lack. What is happening, is for My purpose and My glory. I have overcome and the victory is Mine. Rest in My provision for the house, for your peace, your health, strength, and the concerns of your heart. Nothing unnoticed. Nothing overlooked. All is well. There is nothing for you to do but believe.”

 “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”

 “Look at the waterfall. All is met in Me. Every lack in you is met in Me. Every need supplied through Me. All is well. I am pouring out without measure. Receive and Believe. Believe and Receive.”

Off and on for the next three weeks, the only way I could sleep was in a separate bed where no one moved but me. Greg and Karen’s house had a loft room of sorts with a bed. That’s where I camped out.

My heart continued to cry out to God, not only for healing but for a deeper heart connection. I was hungry for more of Him. I found this song on one of my old CDs and I put it on repeat and played it through the night as I tried to sleep.

“Breathe on me Breath of God

Burn bright Eternal Fire

Father, draw me near to Your heart

You are my one desire.

Chorus:

Flood over me like a river My God

Immerse me in Your living stream

Awaken the song that You placed in my heart

Spirit breathe on me

Spirit breathe on me.”

Music by Vineyard Music,  Album – Father,  Breath of God

One night as I lay there looking out at the stars, Holy Spirit started telling me about the vineyards. The back fields beyond Greg’s home were full of vineyards.

“Note that the vines are secured on cross pieces and wire. VinesThey are held there to support the fruit. And make it easier for harvest.

 As you secure yourself more and more to My cross the power of My blood flows through you. More and more fruit will produce in your life and bring a greater harvest for the King.

Unsecured vines produce fruit but they are more open to destruction. They lie on the ground and are open to disease and trampling underfoot. Little can be harvested for the use of the King.

 It’s all about surrender to My will, My way. It’s all about being willing to allow Me to fasten your life to Mine and trust in Me for all that you need. Through the pruning to the harvest, it’s about allowing Me to decide your daily supply, resting in My will.”

Again, the message of resting, believing, trusting. He was bringing these truths to me through new pictures every day. How I needed to learn to rest in His timing and faithfulness. I thought I’d learned these lessons already, over the years. I’ve not found many people who have graduated from this course of rest and belief. There always appears to be more to learn.

By the end of August, our ministry of feeding the homeless grew. The church bought a mini-van.  Every Sunday we invited men from the street to church for a Bible Study and Potluck meal. I created a class called, “Getting to Know Him.”  We discovered the attributes and character of the Lord out of the Word. I had to brush up on my Spanish too since many of the homeless spoke Spanish.

That first morning I was nervous. I prayed, “Abba, as I stand on the brink of this unfolding landscape, what is Your counsel, Your words of direction?

“Fear not, for I Am with you. I will enable you to be and do more than you’ve ever imagined, as you yield to your Potter’s hand. There is wet clay coming to your class this morning. There is also dry brittle clay that hasn’t been fired for endurance. Speak My words of love and watch the molding take place. Watch the care I take with each one. Potters are not hurried people. They know with the addition of water, clay can be reconstituted to begin again. There is never a pot that can’t be redeemed or recreated.

 Enter into the joy and faith of your Potter. Be in joy to see the beauty come forth and in faith to believe it will.

 Kindness will go a long way and tenderness. While the wedging1 takes place, speak tenderly to My vessels. Tell them of their future and My love for them.

 Fear not Beloved. I Am is with you and this is a path we share. You are co-laboring with Me and I will not fail to bring a harvest. Rest in My ability, all is well.

 Remember, don’t’ feed them the whole semi-truck the first Sunday.  There will be more weeks to share. Let Me lead you. Watch My word transform and bring life. Love, laugh, rest and trust, all is well.”

Well, I could write another chapter on this class adventure. But I must leave it to say that not only were the men blessed who came, but the congregation came alive as well. We all learned to love. We all grew in our ability to look past outward appearances and see the hearts of others. God unearthed long-lost talents in the homeless. And He stirred true community in our little church family.

Our time with Greg continued into September. No more news on the house. I continued to search the internet daily for new listings, new possibilities. Frustration grew, but I knew God was calling me to rest and trust. On September 17th, I made some decisions. I wrote them out so I could sign them and look back and hold myself accountable.

Decisions:

  1. No more calls to our realtor
  2. No more house searches on the computer
  3. No more negative talk about the house
  4. Spend more time blessing and loving others
  5. Lay down and let You work out the detail and only do what You direct me to do.

“Lord,” I wrote, “You are big enough, powerful enough and You love me and Mike enough to take care of every detail. You are also capable and willing to let me know when I need to take part. So, by Your grace, I quit. I am off the housing project and I’m turning it over to You.”

“My help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 124: 8

Another blessing I was enjoying in my new California setting was connecting with a Messianic Bible Study. We studied together and celebrated the feasts. On September 20th, my 65th birthday, I taught our class all about Rosh Ha Shanah, the Feast of Trumpets. We dipped apples in honey and wished each other a Happy New Year. It was a hit.

Two days later, we got a call from our realtor. There was movement in our house purchase. After seven months of waiting since we made our offer, we were ecstatic.

On October 2nd, we received approval on the house. We would have to wait for the title and escrow to close before we could start working, yes, working. Almost all the inside doors were taken out of the house. All the appliances except for the dishwasher were gone. A huge mirror from the bathroom and ceiling fans were missing. Lights too and sliding doors for closets were missing. We would need to buy and re-install them. And there was painting. We could work on the yard later.  Now it was two feet deep in dried weeds and dead plants.

On October 10th, our realtor called, “You are homeowners,” she said.  Another chapter was about to begin.

~~ How About You? ~~

When you wait and wait, and wait, the enemy and your own flesh play havoc with the truth of God’s word. He tells us over and over that His word does not fail. Yet, in times of forever waiting, we question.

In Ecclesiastes 3 is full of God’s timing. It is always perfect. It is always ‘on time.’ I have an entire page full of scripture references in the back of one of my Bibles. All of them have to do with waiting on the Lord. I still refer to this page often.   These scriptures encourage me with His faithfulness and perfect provision.

Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.” Whatever ‘it’ is, if the LORD has promised it to you, it will come to pass.

Peace is not easy to keep ruling in your heart when circumstances threaten or look hopeless.  David dealt with many threats and trials and here is what he said:

Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.
He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me,
For there were many against me
Psalm 55:17-18

Ultimately, crying out for help is the solution.  While we are tempted to cry out to others for help, their help may be lacking in wisdom, timing, or character.  But, when we cry out to God, His answers are always wise, always on time, and full of holy character.  And sometimes, it doesn’t require any action on our part except to believe His word and rest in His faithfulness.

If you are faced with hopeless circumstances or threats that trouble your soul, cry out to Him.  He will hear and answer, as He promised.  The answer may delay, but His timing is always perfect.

In Psalm 56:9 David went on to say,

“When I cry out to You,
Then my enemies will turn back;
This I know, because God is for me.”

May God bless each of us with greater trust in Him and a life of peace and joy as we wait.

 

4 thoughts on “Trials to Triumph and Everything In-Between

  1. Thank. you. Seeing His love and faithfulness over and over is blessing me as much as it is blessing my readers. The counsel that God gave Israel still stands today:
    Psalm 78:4-7
    We will not hide these truths from our children;
    we will tell the next generation
    about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
    about his power and his mighty wonders.
    5 For he issued his laws to Jacob;
    he gave his instructions to Israel.
    He commanded our ancestors
    to teach them to their children,
    6 so the next generation might know them—
    even the children not yet born—
    and they in turn will teach their own children.
    7 So each generation should set its hope anew on God,
    not forgetting his glorious miracles
    and obeying his commands.
    Remembering and retelling the stories of His faithfulness strengthens us and our children.

  2. Thanks Nancy. From 2009-2017, our lives have gone through some amazing changes for the good. Trying to decide now how to cover those years without creating a 5 pound book..LOL. God truly has been faithful to His promises. Praying for His leading. More to come, but hoping to finish soon too. LOL

    Bless you Nancy.

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