Today starts the week of spring break for all of our local schools and many others. It is a week I’ve always looked forward to because it meant I could be catching up all of the yard and garden details where I spend my “hobby time”. Instead, however, of awakening with a cheerful heart this morning, I’ve been filled with anxiety. I hate to confess all of this because I don’t want any reader to think I am weak in my beliefs, yet, I made a promise to God that when I started this blog I’d be brutally honest about my journey’s steps. Thus, I’m telling this truth. All through my devotional time this morning I read how Jesus calmed the raging sea when the disciples awakened him thinking they were about to drown. Jesus even asked them about their faith. I know He is asking me the same question. I’ve told Him I want my faith to be strong but I simply am not strong. I want to trust that moving forward with this adventure of counseling is solidly of Him. I know it is, yet these voices/mental questions only increase in intensity as each day arrives. Because I am home I have more time to “stew” about them.
OK, I’ve told the truth. Now I’m telling another truth. I am weak, I do worry, I am incapable–BUT GOD IS STRONG, HE NEVER WORRIES, and HE IS FULLY CAPABLE. He has called me into an area where He wants me to offer Him to others who haven’t found what He has offered and given to me–FREEDOM from bondage. Yes, Satan wants to destroy all of this, but I’ve also given him over to Jesus too.
“I believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24
Well, as only God would have it, yesterday was a day of blessings. Not only were my brothers and sister in laws gracious, they were most complimentary. One sis said, “This just makes my day. God has put all of these pieces together and it is just so evident. I love it!” Others in the family also had good news so one said this was a day of God’s blessings. We can rejoice in all of this.
I look back onto the days preceding yesterday and wonder why I continue to become anxious over the lies which enter my mind? I know that God is a God of Mercy and Grace. Yet, over and over this has to be shown to me in the ways like yesterday. As I write this I am able to see something I’ve not clearly understood. As a child growing up I had very different “gifts” than dad. His giftedness was what he could do with his hands in the world of carpentry and mechanics. So everything I did was severely criticized. Over time, coupled with my brother’s sexual abuse, I began to believe I truly was a mistake and had to somehow prove my value. As an adult nothing I could do would ever measure being good enough to overcome this old belief system. Now that God has made it abundantly clear what my next steps are to be He is relentlessly showing me His Grace. My brothers are gifted like dad and I feared hearing a “dad message”. Instead, I heard another message of God’s Love and Grace with much support! Thank You God! What a wonderful Father You are!
Today my two brothers and their wives are coming over for our monthly get together. I haven’t told them about this new venture and today seems like it should be the right time to do so. I’m not sure why, but it is harder to tell them than another other. I think it has to do with all of the voices I hear in my head from dad. Any time someone says something which might resemble what my dad would have said, I cringe. I tell myself they will be great supporters, but then the voices start again. I think I’m past all of this until something arises like this. I’ll be glad if today allows for this to all come out.
I love today’s message again. Give abundantly as God nudges for He cannot be outgiven. Wow, our God is GOOD!
When Mary, the mother of Jesus, was confronted with the Angel telling her the message about bearing the Child of God, she questioned how that could be possible? After the angel explained to her, her response was simply, “Yes.”
My mom use to say that if you are wondering if something (a message) is from God wait three day. If the message has faded in strength it is likely from one’s emotions. If, however, the message is just as strong as originally or even stronger, it is likely from God. The strength of God’s Purpose never fades. I have felt strongly that this new area of lay counseling is something God is wanting me to do. However, there have been a multitude of times in the last month where I’ve silently questioned. Of course Satan has tried to plant the old seeds of doubt too which in times past I’d cowered to them. When I had read Mary’s response to the angel of God a few weeks ago, it stuck. I knew God was wanting this to be my message each time He talks to me (nudges me). He wants me to TRUST and simply say yes.
Yesterday I was able to talk with a gentleman connected with this same ministry in their church. It only confirmed more than ever that this new venture is God directed. This morning’s devotional message was: “Awaken my mighty soldier, awaken! The hour is late, and I call you to arise and run with me. I have prepared you for such a time as this. Do not be afraid. I will be with you….” There is more to this message but one gets the point. I have said yes and I’m ready to run this race.
It is so good to have some days now to be home. I’ve always loved spring break coming right when so much work can be done in the yard and this time is no different. I don’t have to be back at a school until the 28th giving me ample time to get things started and completed for the coming gardening year.
Last night we needed to have a meeting regarding a situation in our Celebrate Recovery group. An innocent situation had been turned into a much bigger event than intended which led to the meeting with our pastor who oversees the recovery ministries. I’m sure everyone had been praying for The Holy Spirit’s Light to shed clarity and that’s exactly what took place. I love seeing how God works!
I’ve said it so many times of late, but I continue to love the way God is having my devotional and bible reading coincide each and every day. I journal about the things on my mind and what concerns me (things which want to give me unrest) and then I read in my devotional about God’s Holy Spirit’s desire to give peace in the unknown trusting Him to shed the penetrating Light when the time is right). I then begin my bible reading only to read how God sent His Holy Spirit in the form of the dove for His Son Jesus when John the Baptist was baptizing him in the Jordan River. This significant moment was preparing Jesus for His time of temptation for 40 days when He went into the wilderness. As I read this, this morning, I was reminded that God didn’t just do this for His Son, He wants to do this for each one of us who come to Him with our submission to do His Will regardless of the cost knowing God’s Plan is perfect. Any time we try to manipulate this perfect Plan, we delay what God wants us to do at the moment. He promises us The Holy Spirit Who gives “perfect peace” in the midst of the storm if we will only Trust and Obey. I needed this reminder this morning. The foundation is swept clean for today. I will trust and obey!
Yesterday I knew I was to have a conversation with the director who puts together the sites where I do my consulting. The zoom meeting was at 8:00 am. I knew I was going to talk with her regarding my new assignment of “lay counseling”. I was going to leave open whether I’d completely step away from all consulting or maybe limit the consulting to one site which means one day a week. When I told her what I had been asked to do she teared up. She said, “Earnie, this is exactly what God wants you to do. You’ve wondered what He would want for you and He has made it clear.” We both choked up. Shortly after this zoom meeting my phone rang and it was our senior pastor. He was calling for two reasons he said, one to thank me for this new step I was taking with the church and to let me know how much all of the pastoral staff supported this decision. I was just overwhelmed! Even now I keep taking deep breaths as I write this.
I must confess at this moment how much my flesh is screaming at me with the “what ifs”. What if we have to simply live on our retirement income? What if our kids have an emergency and need our financial help? What if something drastic happens to Kathy or me–we’re not young anymore? I keep hearing God’s Voice whisper that He is right here and He IS ALMIGHTY GOD. I know this and want to solidly believe without question. So I’m putting into place what the Serenity Prayer says, “One day at a time, one moment at a time….” I do believe and I do trust this wonderful God I serve. I also thank Him for this glorious opportunity to serve Him in this capacity.
I had a remarkable discovery take place this morning as I was having my bible reading. I have begun to read the book of Luke in The Passion. In the first chapter, vs. 37, it reads, “Not one promise from God is empty of power. Nothing is impossible with God.” As I read this I knew immediately it is true. However, just as immediate was the thought, “why Jesus if this is true, did you not keep the promise of I Corinthians 10:13 while I was growing up and even through all my adult years? This verse says in part,…”And each test is an opportunity to trust him more, for along with every trial God has provided for you a way of escape that will bring you out of it victoriously.” How do these two verses align with the abuse of my brother and dad and the torment of all my adult years?
As I began to reflect on this as a “new creation” I was reminded that the tools of a new creation were not in place for my use during all of these years. These tools are: belief, trust, faith. I have learned so much about believing who I am in Jesus Christ and who He is to me. I am learning to trust the unknown and have faith that God will and does use every ounce of our past for His Honor and Glory. Huge in this is the truth that God’s way of escape for me has been to keep me from ever participating in the abuse as I entered my adult years. Satan has always tempted for this to happen, but God has been fully faithful for me. Lastly, the grip of the past is broken and the past mess is now God’s message He and I use for His Honor and Glory! Praise God!
Today, after our two worship services, is our Celebrate Recovery (CR) leadership monthly meeting. I am to bring the devotion and provide the training for it. I usually have a training topic in mind for the meeting well in advance, but that was not the case this time. Yesterday, getting home from the Montana trip, I realized I needed to get this together. I was immediately “reminded” of The Spiritual Man I had been reading. In my present reading I kept thinking about the content’s application to our daily living and I should bring this insight to our CR leadership. So, after being reminded of this, I went ahead and put together the parts I’d highlighted from a series of chapters.
This morning as I was having my devotions I was impressed with the devotional reading. It was all about obeying the Holy Spirit within us and praising God for what He is doing that we know nothing about. I then realized I had the devotion in hand which God wanted me to use today and it perfectly coincides with the training I’d typed yesterday.
Our GOD is AMAZING!
It is good to be home! I always think trips like this that take one away from routines of home feel like time warps. I get to the location and from that point until I get home I’m only focused on it. Then, after 2.5 days I’m home again and wonder, just what happened? Anyway, the trip was very worthwhile. The evidence of God’s work and His Light shining into darkness is obvious. The penetrating Light of Jesus exposed more darkness, and now He will shed continued Light in the ways to address it. God is so GOOD! All I need for today is a long nap this afternoon.