Monday, February 28, 2011

One May Be Overpowered

I feel very thankful today for a group of women who surround me with prayer when I’m falling apart. God revealed some hard truths to me last week. While He works to bring the good out of what He’s revealed, I am working to be obedient to Him and to choose faith and joy over fear. This must be a deliberate choice for me because in my flesh, I would default to fear and giving up every single time. It is only through the strength of Christ that I continue to stand! The prayers of my sisters spur me on.

Last week when my emotions nearly overtook me, I sent an SOS message and the response brought incredible peace in the midst of my storm. We have to walk in truth, not as our emotions dictate, and I was not doing well on my own! My sisters in faith helped me to know… and see with my eyes… that I was covered in prayer. As the day progressed, I began to feel it, and become sure of what I could not see.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three stands is not quickly broken." I was in danger of being overpowered and I am oh, so thankful that I did walk through my struggle alone!

I have prayed for each of you this morning, asking the Lord to provide a prayer support system. I pray that you have someone in your life that you can call, e-mail, or Facebook message with an “SOS” and that you will have full assurance those friends will be on their knees for you! It is one of the greatest blessings of all.

I’m just going to put this out there: If you need prayer support, I will pray for you. Please keep in mind that this blog is on the Internet so please use discretion if you comment with a prayer request. Only provide information that you are willing for the whole world to see (that’s how I try to use wisdom in my Facebook posts).

I know some of your names, but this blog is beginning to reach many readers who I do not know. It has now spread to 10 countries and if that’s not the hand of God, I don’t know what is! I would LOVE to get to know you – will you please sign up to be a follower? See my November 18, 2010 post to learn how. I look forward to praying for you by name!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Voice of Truth

Mike and I attended ministry training on Sunday. The beginning activity involved blindfolding one of our classmates and asking him to follow directions as the rest of us spoke a variety of commands to him. He had to choose one voice to follow and try to tune the rest of us out as we rambled on with instructions.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself blindfolded with a room full of people shouting commands to you. One is telling the truth; the others are trying to distract you and lead you in the wrong direction.

It sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it? We have many choices and hear many tempting voices throughout the day. Go here! Buy this! This won’t hurt you, try it! Just once won’t do anything! You could get rich if you ___! That attention feels nice! He’d surely notice you more if you ___!

The voices can be confusing, overwhelming and be so very tempting at times. Our tempter, the author of lies, will do all he can to deceive us and trick us into moving his direction. He wants to pull us away from our Savior, even if it is just ½ step at a time. He feels victorious when he can turn our heads in his direction. His voice then becomes even louder and more persistent.

As we walked through the exercise, I imagined myself many years ago at a troubled point in my life. Watching our classmate receive the bombardment of commands helped me to imagine the activity in heavenly places as I fell into a particular sin. The Holy Spirit was one of the voices, but I couldn’t hear Him clearly. The lies were too loud and the temptation too great. Suddenly, last Sunday night, I could see myself nearly 20 years ago as a deceived captive, overcome by emotion-feeding lies of the enemy.

I can tell you that I do not ever want to find myself in that position again. Had I been the blindfolded volunteer that night, I likely would have broken down into a heap of tears with the imagery confronting me. The moment was powerful.

I want to know my Savior, really, truly know Him so that I can recognize His voice, and obey His commands. John 10:27 says "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (NASB). This fuels my time in the Word. It spurs me on when it’s hard to find quiet time in my day. It drives me to ask daily to be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9). Will I be deceived again? It is likely that I will, but I pray to become so familiar His ways that I quickly recognize when I’m pulled aside and rely on His strength to right my path.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Discovering God in the Everyday

As I said in my prior post, I love to be near the sea. I wish I could describe the peace that it brings to my spirit! I’m home in Colorado now, missing the ocean breeze but happy that our local weather is warm this Valentine’s Day.

Sitting on the beach last week, I asked the Lord to show me how I could better know Him through His creation and through my daily experiences. I am completely awestruck at the presence and availability of God in our lives. He is everywhere, and when we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find Him!

God answered my simple prayer in mighty ways. I saw Him in the sunlight and the way it reflects on the water, in the birds of the air, in the starfish and even in kayaking! For instance, as I sat in the front of a 2-man kayak, I learned that the rear person really has all of the control. I may think that I am steering the vessel from the front seat, but when Mike (my kayak partner and love of my life) put his oar in the water, I could feel the power and the control that he had from the rear. My job was to help paddle and keep us moving forward but Mike was in command. The Lord whispered to my spirit, “Cathy, I want you to keep paddling and keep your ministry moving forward, but I will steer you and take you where I want you to go.”

When the sea became choppy, Mike instructed me to pull my oar from the water. The current pulled us to the left and as I alternated rowing from the left and right sides, I was in his way of keeping us on course. Again, the Lord revealed Himself. Sometimes He wants our hands off our situation so that He can have full control. When I surrendered my effort and allowed power that was stronger and better positioned than my own to direct our course, we began to head right to our destination. Little by little, Mike and I found a working rhythm and before I knew it, we were working together again seamlessly.

We kayaked to an island where we could explore small caves and find beach treasures, but the treasure I found was far greater than anything I expected. I drew closer to the Lord that day and found joy in the discovery!

“Speak, for Your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Finding Beauty

I’m in beautiful San Carlos, Mexico. It is cold here too, but cold is a relative term. The night before we left, the temp at home in Colorado plunged to an overnight low of 35 degrees below zero (with wind chill). That makes it hard to say it’s cold here when it reached 56 degrees yesterday, but locals are dressing in layers and long underwear. “Muy Frio!”

I love to be near the sea, calmed by its majesty and soothed by the beauty of His creation. Cold or not, we walked along the beach this morning dressed in hoodies and jackets. I wore both. Mike convinced me to shed my shoes and socks and walk barefoot on the sun-warmed sand. I was delighted by the foot massage.

John and Marjorie (my in-laws) met us on the beach. We are staying in their condo and they have been coming to San Carlos for nearly 20 years. Marjorie collects sea shells and her greatest treasure is a tiny shell with a slight pink tint. Some days she doesn’t find any, but this morning she found 13 as we walked along the water. The weather seems to have stirred things up a bit on the shore.

Marjorie told me this morning, “I’ve learned a lesson here.” She then explained, “When I search just for this one type of shell, I miss a lot of beauty.” Her message spoke clearly to my heart.

How many times have I missed something beautiful from the Lord because my focus is so firmly fixed on exactly what I want? How many blessings have I refused because they didn’t appear the way I thought they should? When we make our own plans and cement them in our hearts, we risk turning away what the Lord has for us. It begins to feel like an unwelcomed path – one we should not take because that is not where we planned to go – when, in fact, it is the most beautiful path of all.

I pray that I will be open to the Lord’s leading and not limit His work in my live to what I expect from Him. Lord, please help me to accept the plans you have for me and to find the beauty in each of them. Help me to put my trust in You alone, and help me want to turn when you ask me to turn. Fix my gaze upon You, my Lord, and not what I want from you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)