For those of you who have followed or know me personally, you know that the past few months have been quite challenging. And in the midst of difficult circumstances, I imagine that few of us understand or can grasp the long term ramifications of the trials that befall us. And yet, we serve a God of the big picture. He sees the end from the beginning and declares, "It is good!"
It's three and a half months from the passing of the eye of the storm. I've been doing all I can to make sense of the debris that was left from the destruction of what I knew to be true for my life. Piles of wood, hay and stubble lay everywhere, and all I was left with were memories.
(1 Corinthians 3:11-13)
During the past week, I've re-consecrated my life to the Lord. I've been determined to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4-6) It's so easy during the dark times to allow your mind to take over, have it's fleshy way, and wallow in anguish, pain, frustration, hurt, offense, resentment and bitterness. I know that I know that there is absolutely, positively no good fruit born of these feelings. In fact, they are utterly destructive.
And I'm not going to tell you its easy to get these emotions under control because it's downright hard work. But ultimately, if they are not taken captive, they will take over. They will cause depression and despair that will kill, rob and destroy every good thing that God has planned for our lives, and we just don't have time to wallow here!!! Jesus came to bring us abundant life, and I believe with all my heart that this means He desires to see the plans He created us for come to fruition in our lives. Yes, I'm talking about those dreams again! The desires of your heart that you may have put up on a high shelf because you feel that you will never attain them.
I believe that "life more abundantly" has little to do with the procurement of material stuff. I believe that it is working toward and living out what our goals, dreams, hopes, and visions are as they line up with the plan and purpose God has for us. Think about it. John 10:10 says that the thief (the enemy of our souls) comes to steal, kill, and destroy. What does he want to steal? Our hope, dreams, and visions. What does he want to kill? You and me! What does he want to destroy? Anything that has to do with building the Kingdom of God. The more of US he can take out, the more successful he is in keeping the Kingdom of God from going forward.
And Jesus came to give life, and that more abundantly. What more abundance can I have but to know that what I'm doing is building the Kingdom of my Lord? Is there anything more joyous than knowing my life has purpose and that He will say to me one day, "Well done, my beloved?"
In Acts 3:1-8 Peter declared to the lame man at the Beautiful Gate, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” If Peter had possessed and had given the lame man silver and gold, it would NOT have changed his circumstances. Peter gave the man what God had given him in abundance, and of how much more worth was that?! The man's life was forever changed, and he praised God for it!
When we receive that abundant life, friends, it ain't for us! It is for the benefit of someone else! When we think of it that way, how selfish of us NOT to live this kind of abundant life!
Well, I just have to encourage you today. So let me continue with my own testimony. As some of you know, I've just begun a job working with a very abused population of adolescent girls. The training that we had was top of the line. It has completely changed my thinking about sexually exploited youth, and my new co-workers would totally agree with me. If you have the opportunity, check out http://www.gems-girls.org/ . The woman who began GEMS was our trainer. If you can, watch the documentary about the program called, "Very Young Girls." It'll rock your world and get your head out of the sand! But I digress...
As we were in this intensive training, God reminded me of something. Several years ago, I attended a Women of Faith Conference. During the conference, a woman came forward and presented a ministry to hurting teenagers. Several teenagers then gave their testimonies of having been runaways, sexually exploited, drug or alcohol abusers and/or estranged from their families. Because of this ministry, they had been totally transformed and gave their lives to Christ. I was so moved that I prayed repeatedly that weekend, "Lord, is this what you want me to do? Because if it is, I'll do it!" I even came home and told my family about it.
As I was suddenly reminded about this prayer during the training, it was the ultimate AHA moment of my life thus far! Here I was, several years later training for a job that was with troubled adolescents! A coincidence? I sincerely think NOT! But I couldn't remember the name of that ministry. After googling and several phone calls, I finally found it--House of Hope. http://www.nationalhouseofhope.org/ I then made phone calls and sent emails, and to make a long story short, I will be attending a training in October for those who are interested in starting a House of Hope! I've also just registered to begin my Master's in Counseling at Liberty University so that I will be well equipped for this adventure!
Perspective (hind-sight) really is 20/20. Had I not been laid off, had I not gone through what I did in ministry, I would have never had the job that I do now. It is because I am on this path that the Lord brought to my remembrance the prayer I prayed the weekend I was first introduced to House of Hope.
The rebuilding of my life continues. I have a new hope, a new perspective and vision. Clarity is overtaking the cloudiness that has covered my world. I am determined to find balance and peace with where I've been, and forge ahead into what lies before me. I know that all things ARE working together for good, and my Father has ordered my steps, so all I need to do is walk where He guides. And wherever that is, "It is good!"
And if you have been through the eye of the storm, if your dreams and hopes seemed to have been dashed by circumstances or nay-sayers (there are plenty of those for your penny, believe me!) and if you get nothing else from this post, let me encourage you that you make this your own today:
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.