Friday, February 22, 2019
God spoke to me recently from the story of 1 Kings 19, where Elijah was on the mountaintop. It’s a funny thing how God meets you where you are and desires to comfort you in that place.
Elijah had been running from Jezebel and got to a place where was just tired. Tired of running, and he said to the Lord, “I have had enough Lord. Take my life, for am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” Then the Scripture says an angel of the Lord came to him and told him to eat (and drink). For the journey ahead of him is too much for him. The Scripture doesn’t say that he needed to eat again, it doesn’t say that he was tired anymore. God fed him and sustained for 40 days. The food and drink that God provided gave him enough strength to travel 40 days and nights until he arrived to Horeb, the mountain of God, then met God at a cave. Know this, IF God provides for you, it’s going to be enough to sustain you for whatever time or function is needed.
Then the Lord appeared to Elijah and God said, “What are you doing here?” Funny how God asked Elijah what he was doing there, when God was the one Who sent him there. God has a purpose for bringing us to the things He brings us to, He asks us the questions to see if we know. And Elijah said, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. And then he starts talking about the people and how they rejected God’s covenant, and torn down altars and did this and that, and then he says and I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.” Isn’t that just like us, blaming stuff on people, pointing the finger at them and then say how they’re out to get us. Hmmmm.
Then God tells Elijah to go before Him on the mountain, and we know what happens, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm came. But the Lord was not in the wind. Then an earthquake, then a fire, then finally the sound of a gentle whisper. And that’s where God was. My hubby, Pastor Jeff, did a four-part series on the Hearing the Voice of God and how important it is to hear Him speak. God speaks in a whisper. With all these things going on, God spoke to Elijah in a whisper. Seemingly back to back, the windstorm, the earthquake, the fire, because the Scripture doesn’t break, much like our lives. Things happen, back to back. And God speaks in the midst of it all, in a whisper. Do we hear Him? Are we hearing Him?
Then God asked Elijah again, “What are you doing here?” Same exact question as before. God wanted to know if Elijah’s answer was going to change. Did Elijah hear Him? But Elijah gave the same exact answer. The SAME EXACT ANSWER. How many times has God asked us a question, presenting us the opportunity to change our responses but we give Him the same answer? The same exact answer.
Then God sends Elijah back the same way again, almost dismissively, answering his complaint, the same complaint as before, of being the only one, but letting him know, he yet had a job to do. So go on back and do it. He said to Elijah, “Go back the way you came.. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Mehola to succeed you as prophet… Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” And in His mercy and His grace (for it is SUFFICIENT), He gives Elijah help.
Spoke to me in so many ways. Sometimes we get to the point in ministry, in life even, that we are tired. Tired from ministry. Tired of fighting. Tired of trying to tell people about God and they refuse to listen. Tired of serving. We feel alone. Like we are the only ones doing things. We feel used. Abused. Let down. We feel like someone of the enemy is always out to get us and we get to the place where Elijah did, just plain tired. I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to fight anymore. Just end this now, Lord. Take me away from here. Take me out of here. And God in His sovereignty, and comfort, provides for us. He shows us and gives us something to sustain us (His grace is sufficient… there it goes again). A word, food for the Spirit. Something to build us up, to encourage us. Then once He sees that we are built up, He send us on our way to the next place He has for us. A place where He can do further work to build up our character and make us more like His Son. More like Jesus. Isn’t that what all this is about anyway? To be conformed into the image of the Son. He brings us to a place of solitude to do that. Where the only place we can turn to, is Him. Where the only thing, the only One we can see is Him.
Elijah was in the cave. Alone. Then God does all these things before Him. Right before His eyes. And they were destructive things. A windstorm. The Scripture says that it was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then God sends an earthquake, and we know how destructive they can be, we’ve seen the destruction with our natural eyes. Then God sends a fire following it, all of this right before Elijah’s eyes.
God allows us to go through things. Turbulent things. Destructive things. And things happen right before our very eyes, but in the midst of these things, God wants us to see Him. To hear Him. In the midst of all the noise, He spoke in a whisper.
And so He asks Elijah again, (as He does with us), to see if he “heard” anything. Because He wants Elijah to know, I am with you, Elijah. In the midst of the storm, raging in your life, I am with you. Hear Me. In the midst of things breaking apart; the ground falling apart beneath you, I am with you. In the midst of the fiery furnace, I am with you. You shall go through the fire, but you will not smell of smoke, I am with you. HEAR ME.
God is with you. In the midst of whatever it is you are going through, He says, “I am with you. Hear Me.”
Oh, that we would hear. Praying for the ears to do so. God is real and He is speaking….
A servant of the Lord,
Friday, February 15, 2019
Now since the holidays have passed, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year and what would have been birthday year 26, feels like I can move on and breathe again. Another season in the books without my Joseph… . But we made it through by the grace of God. Approaching another year without him. Year 4. Year 4 for us without him. Life forever altered by befores and afters. Withs and withouts. Death has a way of changing how you look at the calendar and the seasons.
Was a rough patch for a while. A rough season. A hard time filled with memories of other lost loved ones. A sister, a brother, a mother-in-law, whom we lost in the span since we’ve lost our Joe. Then there were visits to the ER, to the doctors (multiple), to ambulatory care units and then diagnoses… one, two, three… all in the midst of this season of just a few months, “my season of despair,” I called it. Someone called me Jobette. Sort of felt like that for a minute, still do on some days, but God. Covered by His grace.
And yet even in the midst of all of that, my family and I got to take a family vacation to Aruba, (far away from last year’s trip to Chicago). Weather was ideal, no lower than 78, no higher than 82. Perfect temperatures for the beach, where we spent most of our time.
The beach relaxes me, you know. It’s almost like I belong there. Like I was born there or something. It’s what I call my little piece of heaven on the earth. Mi paraiso. And I suppose it’s as close to paradise (and Joseph) as I will get. For now, anyway. So I’ll take it any chance I can.
Looking at the sand on the beach, I saw myself as a child just sitting and playing in it. I’m sure you’ve seen how children sit in the sand and are content to just sit there playing in it. Totally oblivious to what is going on around them. That is where God had me. That is where I felt like I was. In the sand. A child playing in the sand. Twirling my stick, oblivious yet aware. And God has sat me there in the midst of all the things that are happening all around me. I don’t know why they’re happening. There is nothing I can do about them happening. Right now anyway. I’ve just got to go along with it. But in order to go along with it, sometimes you’ve got to get out of the way. And so I sit. In the sand, where God has placed me. Twirling my stick until God comes along and says it’s time to move on. And tells me to put the stick down.
Truth is, it is only then that we can move on. That we can do anything. When God says so. We can only move by His grace. Until then, we must be content to simply sit and wait…
I don’t why things happen. Still don’t. I don’t know why my Joe had to die, but I’ve learned something from it. And I’m learning some other things, which you will hear about soon. God’s grace has been moving in my life in ways I had not seen BUT by His grace. His grace is sufficient.
I don’t know why we have to suffer and suffer so much at one time. Back to back, to back to back. I do know that the Word says that Jesus suffered. And that He learned obedience through the things He suffered. Maybe that’s one reason. Seems a harsh way to learn obedience. But I’m not God. His ways are not my ways, neither are His thoughts my thoughts. Who am I to question them? But thankfully in the midst of the suffering, God’s grace comes along and lightens the load. Never gives you more than you can bear. His grace is sufficient.
In this season, in these few months all I’ve heard and keep hearing is, “My grace is sufficient.” I open the Word and read it. I hear it from a preacher. I heard it out of my husband’s mouth. In devotionals. From things I just happen to pick up and read. From the very mouth of God. “My grace is sufficient.”
In 2 Corinthians, Chapter 7, the Apostle Paul speaks of a thorn that he believe he had. That thorn could have been an illness, could have been a shortcoming, an annoyance, the Bible doesn’t say; but Paul said to God, “Three times I asked you to take it away from me.” Three times… the number of the divine. His divine will. Each time he asked God told him, “My grace is sufficient. For when you are weak, then I am strong.” Then Paul got this revelation, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” His grace is sufficient.
Everything you need, everything you are going through, everything you shall face… God says, My grace is sufficient. That shortcoming… My grace is sufficient. That hardship, that persecution, that trouble… My grace is sufficient.
Your broken pieces… My grace is sufficient. Your missing ones… My grace is sufficient. Your health challenges… My grace is sufficient. Your financial burdens… My grace is sufficient. Your loved ones… My grace is sufficient.
Just continue to play in the sand (as I have) until it’s time for Me, until it’s time for My grace to move you on. My grace is sufficient to do so. My grace is sufficient to keep you. Sufficient to hold you. Sufficient to lighten your load.
His grace is sufficient. For you. And His grace is sufficient for me.
Because God is real, I am, still.