Category Archives: Spirit Life

Rescued from Drowning

Standard

When I was in elementary school, my dad was hired as our church youth pastor.  I thought it was the best thing that could ever happen to a 4th grader because my sister and I got to go to all the youth group events:  hay rack rides, roller skating nights, camp outs, and bon fires.  On one of these summer events, we went tubing down the Apple River, splashing each other and flipping each other’s tubes as we floated down the lazy river.

The top end of the river had been dammed to make a small lake with an island in the center.  It was a small dam because at its headwaters, the river is not much more than a creek.  The small dam was sloped in a way that we could ride our inner tubes down it like a big water slide and at the end of the slide we were rolled and tumbled in the curl of water where the dam met the river.  It was great fun!

While we were waiting our turns on the dam slide (haha, I just made myself giggle) we paddled around the little lake and explored the island.   Some of us invented a sort of game where four of us would all sit on the sides of the same tube and on the count of three we’d all fall backwards into the lake.  Over and over again we’d scramble back up the sides of the tube, laughing and splashing the whole time.  It was great fun to be included in games with the teenagers!

I was having a blast until the very last moment.  No one gave a single thought to the fact that this last load of kids on the inner tube was very mismatched in weight.  We all counted to three and arched our backs to flop into the lake, but since I was the lightest in the group, the inner tube flipped over on top of me.  Before I could get out from under it, the other kids were scrambling back on top of the tube, their feet kicking me as I was trapped under the now fully loaded tube.

I was running out of breath, but I decided that to get out from under their feet I needed to swim deeper and then to the right.  Unfortunately when I sank deeper, my feet became tangled in the weeds at the bottom of the lake.  That’s when I got scared.  I could see the circle of sunlight in the center of the inner tube above me, legs dangling through the hole.  I reached up my hand, but I couldn’t touch anyone.

My lungs were burning.  I was scared.  “This is it,” I thought sadly.  “I’m going to drown within inches of the surface of the water.”  I stretched my arm a little higher, praying that someone would see me.

Suddenly, one of the teenage boys plunged his hand into the water and grabbed my hand with a strong grip.  He pulled me up hard.  As I broke through the surface that had seemed so far out of my reach, I gasped for air.  The boy didn’t say a word, but he draped my arms over the edge of the tube and began paddling towards the shore.  Everyone else on the tube was giggling and splashing, completely unaware of the fact that I had just nearly drowned.  The boy and I did not say a word to each other.  When we got to the shore of the lake, he held me by the shoulders to steer me as I weakly staggered to a sitting position on the narrow strip of sand at the edge of the water.  I sat there trembling.  Then he ran back to join the others for more fun.  I think he knew he had just saved my life, but it was too heavy of a thought to press into words.

I think about that incident when I read the Psalms.  David often speaks of times of sorrow or trouble when the waters are over his head.  He sings of how God lifted him up and put his feet on solid ground.  That’s what God does when we call out to him.  He reaches down and pulls us up.

“Save me O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold.  I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.  I am worn out calling for help.”  (Psalm 69:1-3)

“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice, he heard my cry for mercy.  Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.  The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me.  I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.  Then I called on the name of the Lord, ‘O Lord, save me!’  The Lord is gracious and righteous, our God is full of compassion.  The Lord protects the simple-hearted.  When I was in great need, he saved me.  Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” (Psalm 116:1-6)

Advertisements

Under Heavy Attack

Standard

I walked to the refrigerator to begin making dinner.  My hand felt heavy and weak as I gripped the handle of the fridge.  I didn’t open the door.  I just laid my forehead against the back of my hand still gripping the handle and sighed.  This depression was so heavy that I physically felt tired and drained.  I whispered a silent prayer, “Lord, call off the attack.  I can’t fight this anymore.  I’m too weak and tired.”  A few tears fell from my eyes and splashed on the tile at my feet.  I know He heard my prayer.

From that moment on, I felt a turning of the tide.  I admitted my weakness and asked for help- two things I don’t do very often.  Though I don’t like it, I have begun to acknowledge and respect my own limitations because I no longer feel the imagined condemnation beating me over the head for not being stronger.  That was not from God.  That was the attack of the Enemy- and I finally recognized it.  When I asked for help, God rang the bell and called the match “over”.  HE had won on my behalf.

If you are fighting discouragement, read these words from Brother David Wilkerson and relax.  You can let God do the fighting for you.  You’re not alone.

When you are under attack from the enemy’s spirit of discouragement, you will
not feel like praying. But you still must go to the secret place and be in
Jesus’ presence. Do not worry about trying to pray your way out of despair.
This is the time for God’s Spirit to go to work in you to lift you out of the
pit.

When you go to the Lord, be honest with Him about how weak and helpless you
feel. Let Him know, “Jesus, I’m dry. I have no strength left. If I’m ever going
to get out of this depression, You are going to have to make it happen.”

In such low times, the Lord is very patient with us. He does not expect us to
exert some intense, fervent effort in prayer. He knows our condition, and He
sympathizes with us. Just sit in His presence and trust His Spirit to do in you
what He was sent to do. It doesn’t matter how cast down you are, He will never
forsake you!

We have the notion that every time we fail the Lord, the Holy Spirit flits away
like a bird because He is grieved. But how could God’s Spirit abandon me when I
need Him most? If He leaves me whenever I fail and fall deep into
discouragement, how can He be my Comforter?

Jesus promised us, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another
Comforter, that he may abide with you forever . . . I will not leave you
comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:16, 18).

When the devil’s heavy spirit of discouragement settles over your life, you may
be so distraught you cannot even whisper a prayer. But even so, you can talk to
Jesus in your spirit. Just tell Him softly, “Lord, help me. This attack is too
much for me. I can’t do anything but sit here in faith. I am trusting your
Spirit to drive it out of me.”

Do Less, Accomplish More

Standard

“Demonstrate your trust in Me by sitting quietly in My Presence.  Put aside all that is waiting to be done, and refuse to worry about anything.  This sacred time together strengthens you and prepares you to face whatever the day will bring.  By waiting with Me before you begin the day’s activities, you proclaim the reality of My living Presence.  This act of faith- waiting before working- is noted in the spirit world, where your demonstration of trust weakens principalities and powers of darkness.

“The most effective way to resist evil is to draw near Me.  When you need to take action, I will guide you clearly through My Spirit and My Word.  The world is so complex and overstimulating that you can easily lose your sense of direction.  Doing countless unnecessary activities will dissipate your energy.  When you spend time with Me, I restore your sense of direction.  As you look to Me for guidance, I enable you to do less but accomplish more.”

~Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young

Frail and Weak

Standard

“Grow strong in you weakness.  Some of my children I’ve gifted with abundant strength and stamina.  Others, like you, have received the humble gift of frailty.  Your fragility is not a punishment, nor does it indicate a lack of faith.  On the contrary, weak ones like you must live by faith, depending on Me to get you through the day.  I am developing your ability to trust me, to lean on Me, rather than on your understanding.  Your natural preference is to plan out your day, knowing what will happen when.  My preference is for you to to depend on Me continually, trusting Me to guide you and strengthen you as needed.  This is how you grown strong in your weakness.”  ~Sarah Young, Jesus Calling.

Photo credit: i am brad / Foter / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: i am brad / Foter / CC BY-NC

Fingerprints all over the place

Standard

The Book of Esther in the Bible is a fascinating story about a Jewish girl who won a royal beauty pageant and was chosen to be queen.  She became aware of a plot to wipe out the Jews, and she determined to beg the King for mercy for her people at the risk of her own life.  The most famous verse in Esther is where her uncle is counseling her in how to proceed and spurring her on to courage. He tells her, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”  It is an inspirational story that is still celebrated in the Jewish holiday of Purim and in the commencement speeches of Christian schools all across America.  But the astounding thing about the Book of Esther is that the name of God is not mentioned once.  Not Once!

Even with the lack of direct mention, no one can doubt that this book belongs in the Bible because we see God’s fingerprints all over the arranging of events and lining up of “coincidences”.  In the olden days they would have called that “Providence”.  In modern Christianese we call these “God moments” or “Divine appointments”.  It doesn’t really matter what you call it.  There are just times when God reaches down into the space-time continuum and gets involved in human lives or in history on a grand scale.  God is not a far off, distanced ruler.  He is intimate.  Another name for God is Emmanuel which literally means “God with Us”.

I love those moments when you look back and see that God was guiding the details of your life.  I love finding God’s fingerprints all over the place, evidence that He is God with Us.  Part of my responsibilities as Vice Principal include beating the bushes for new teachers.  This year nearly our entire staff changed.  Some of the positions were filled from connections that other teachers had.  Some of them came directly from my circle of acquaintances.  And some of them were Divine appointments- pure God.

For example, we had filled the 4th and 5th grade positions with relative ease.  But the 6th grade class was still vacant.  We interviewed several people, and nothing was fitting together right.  Both the principal and I decided to pray specifically that God would lead us to the right person.  I felt that God was saying to me, “This person is not going to come from YOUR resources.”  So I had no idea what God had in mind!  OK, God, surprise me.

One day the Assistant to the Principal and I were the only two in the office.  In walked a young lady who simply asked, “Do you have any teaching positions available for September?  I’ve been taking classes at the language school this summer and I’ve decided that I want to stay in Costa Rica.”  The Assistant and I exchanged big-eyed looks.  I interviewed her on the spot, exchanged email addresses with her, and that was that.  A miracle literally just walked in the door.

Photo credit: Jack Spades / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: Jack Spades / Foter / CC BY

Then this week, another miracle was handed to us directly by God.  As you know, our second grade teacher quit just 2 weeks before the first day of school… 8 days before teacher orientation.  That day I spent a lot of time in prayer, asking the Lord to provide the right person that He had in mind.  I posted the plea for teachers on Facebook, and over a dozen of my friends reposted my status or forwarded it to friends of theirs.  A friend of a friend connected me with the name of a girl and I sent her a message.  I explained the job and asked if she would be interested.  She told me that she had been specifically praying for a teaching position in Costa Rica for this school year!  And she could be here in a week!   “And who knows that you have come here for such a time as this?”  I am totally flabbergasted at how God pulled that one off.

I was at the end of my resources.  I had already asked every teacher I knew in Costa Rica during the previous teacher search.  I had exhausted all of my connections in every direction.  So when this need came up, I was empty handed.  I went to the Lord as a pauper, a beggar.  And I am astounded at His extravagance.  Divine appointment or God Moment… whatever… God was in the House and His fingerprints are all over the place.

Are you sure that’s what you really want?

Standard

I don’t think any of us really understand what we are asking for when we say we want more of God in our lives.

Photo credit: kevin dooley / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: kevin dooley / Foter / CC BY

Does that mean you want more miracles?  Then you will find your back against the wall more often.  You will be desperate for help more frequently.  You will face your own inadequacies over and over again.  You will face brick walls and impossible, impassable, unsolvable problems.  You will be drained of your resources over and over again until you have absolutely nothing to brag about in your own strength.  Is that what you meant?

Does it mean that you want God to speak to you more?  Then you will be forced to listen more intently.  And once you hear, you will be compelled to obey like never before.  So really, how MUCH more do you want to hear?  Is once a day enough?  Or once an hour, a month, a year?  What do you really want?  The Children of Israel saw the holy fire and cloud descending on Mount Sinai as it shook with divine power.  They heard the thundering voice of God and pleaded with Moses to ask God to stop speaking to them because they couldn’t handle it.  It was terrifying.  So what if God DID speak to you in an audible voice, would you be able to handle it?

Does it mean you want God to take control of your life?  Do you mean take control of every day decisions or just something vague like your destiny?  If you give up control, well… then you give up control.  Is that what you really want or do you expect to keep little corners of your life well within your grasp?  What if God does something with your life that you don’t like.  Will you want to take back the keys and drive yourself again?  What if God drives your life into an unhappy place.  Will you determine that you must be “out of God’s will” because you are uncomfortable and no longer FEEL what you expected to feel?

Photo credit: VinothChandar / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: VinothChandar / Foter / CC BY

Does it mean that you expect prosperity and happiness?  Because if you read about the prophets of the Old Testament who clearly had a direct line to God’s voice, they were some of the most miserable people of their day. No one ASKED to become a prophet.  Not many people even LIKED the prophets.  Think about Jeremiah, the weeping prophet who was stuck in the mud in the bottom of an old well when his beloved Jerusalem was sacked.  Have you read about crazy Ezekiel who was made into a human object lesson when God told him to lay on his left side for 390 days and on his right side for 40 days, and to cook his food over human excrement in order to demonstrate the siege of Jerusalem?  I’m sure he wasn’t happy about that.  Then there’s Elijah, the manic-depressive enemy of an evil King and Queen who was fed by ravens.  Or perhaps consider John the Baptist, clothed in scratchy hair shirts dipping his locusts in wild honey.  Is that what you had in mind when you asked for more of God in your life?  Yet these men had more of God than anyone I know now days.

More of God means less and less of you.  Less of your dreams being fulfilled.  Less of your money being at your own personal disposal.  Less of your decisions revolving around your own happiness.  More of God is a fearful thing to ask.  Yet here we are, asking and not knowing what to expect.  Perhaps God is being merciful in not granting our undefined requests, knowing that we, like those stiff necked Children of Israel, wouldn’t be able to handle the Truth.  Who is brave enough to ask for more of God?

I’m supposed to be on Vacation!

Standard

I’m supposed to be on vacation for one week before the week of Teacher Orientation.  One week.  We are done with teams for the year.  We have no more traveling planned for this week.  I only wanted to brush up on my Spanish subjunctive tense, devour a few books on my Kindle, and knock off a few Sudokus a day.  I’m supposed to be on vacation.

Photo credit: BrittneyBush / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: BrittneyBush / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

So if you read my blog yesterday, you will know that I started my day with bad news.  Now that it’s official, I can tell you that our 2nd grade teacher quit… two weeks before the first day of school.  I’m the Vice Principal, so of course she sent the email to me.  I saw a month’s worth of work unravel before my eyes.  I’m supposed to be on vacation.  I’m not supposed to be madly searching for a new teacher just days before the school year starts.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time in prayer and a lot of time hovering around my cell phone, email, and Facebook just communicating with those who needed to know and those who could help get the word out.  I could do nothing else.  It’s not like there are a bunch of American teachers just waiting around in Costa Rica, longing to be hired.  And anyone that we hire needs to move to a foreign country basically by the end of the week, two weeks at the latest.  How many of YOU could do that?  I certainly could not.  So you can see how limited my pool of teacher choices is.  So much for being on vacation.

Eight Facebook friends reposted my desperate plea for a new teacher.  And I posted the need on a prayer group board for our home church.  A friend of a friend of a friend connected me to a name.  My parents both wrote with a recommendation of their own.  Another teacher offered to ask a friend of hers if she was interested.  One of our sweet newly graduated students wrote offering to substitute until we found another teacher.  We were all beating the bushes simultaneously.

At dinner time I did a quick phone interview with one potential candidate and received a resume from another.  In the morning (today) I will have a meeting with our Head Director the Principal and myself.  We will discuss the situation and read the resume together.  They will probably want to do a Skype interview right on the spot.  None of us are supposed to be in the office this week.  We are all on vacation.

How will this drama end?  I’ll be sure to let you know when I come to the end of the story.  I am sure that God has a plan.  I am confident that God has the right person in place for this job.  I am totally convinced that we are seeing a miracle unfold even as I write these words.  It’s just excrutiatingly stressful to see the birth of something new even though it didn’t take God by surprise and neither is He stressed out by this contraction of my best laid plans.  I just have to remember to keep breathing.  Breathe, breathe, breathe and think about vacation.

Bad News, Good News

Standard

Good Morning fellow blog readers.  Sorry I’m a little late this morning.  I had fully intended to wake up and write you a lovely blog about my weekend in the cloud forest, then I opened my email and the sky fell on my head.  Bad news.  I got sick to my stomach.  My hands started shaking.  I lost my appetite for my breakfast.  I hate bad news.

My husband commiserated with me for a moment, then patted my arm and said, “It will all work out, you’ll see.”  And he was out the door.  Me, I shot off two messages asking for prayer from dear friends and family, and I ran off to find Jesus.  I felt like a little girl running off in tears to find her Father.  I needed to bury my head in his chest, feel his strong arms around my shoulders, and just cry.  Jesus, I breathed his name.

Opening my devotional and asking him to speak to me, I read this:

“Expect to encounter adversity in your life… stop trying to find a way that circumvents difficulties (and wasn’t my mind just spinning as I grasped for a solution to my bad news?  Wasn’t I just doing this?!)  The main problem with an easy life is that it masks your need for Me… Anticipate coming face to face with impossibilities:  situations totally beyond your ability to handle (at this I smiled as a tear eeked out of the corner of my eyes). This awareness of your inadequacy is not something you should try to evade.  It is precisely where I want you- the best place to encounter Me in My Glory and Power.  When you see armies of problems marching toward you, cry out to Me!  Allow Me to fight for you.  Watch Me working on your behalf, as you rest in the shadow of My Almighty Presence.”

Ok, God.  I throw up my hands, powerless to fix this problem.  I got nuthin’.  I trust that you have a plan for this, that you saw this coming before I woke up this morning and opened my email.  I’m going to trust you.  I don’t have any other options.  I’ve used up all my resources in this area, and I’m broke. I come to you empty handed.  I can offer nothing to fix this problem.  It’s all on You.  I need a miracle.