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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Taking The Bait

Almost immediately after I hit the 'publish' button on my last blog it felt like the walls came tumbling down, like my faith in "God can do anything" was about to be tested.  I have to admit, I buckled in the force of the storm, I stepped out of the boat to follow him across the water, took a step and then realized I was walking on water-how could that be?   I began to sink, the water and waves crashing around me, enveloping me and sucking me down into the deep.  It's dark down there.  I didn't like it.  I was angry at God, I blamed Him for putting me into this crazy situation of giving up my home, my family and friends.  I was consumed, even if just for a day in the foggy haze of hopelessness.   We had no prospects of where to live and funds coming in to send us to Brazil have been slow and time it seemed had sped up days flying off the calendar.  I began to doubt our path, had we really heard right?  Is this really what we are supposed to do? I spent the day wallowing in self-pity and self-doubt-I cried out to God in anger in a way I have not done since I gave Him my whole heart nine years ago.   Friends rallied, prayed for us.  Slowly, I felt my anger drain.

Over the course of the next week things took a turn.  We managed to find the perfect investment property that we can live in until we leave for Brazil and rent while we are gone.  This seemingly huge decision that could have felt like a burden seemed to lift off a lot of stress.  We now had a place to be until we leave and a garage to store the things we aren't ready to let go of but can't take with us.

So, what did I learn in that storm?  I learned I have a long way to go on this faith journey, and that in the midst of the turmoil if I had kept my eyes focused on what I know to be true instead of my inward worries, doubts and fears I would have avoided a lot of anger, distress and despair.

One of the scriptures that helps me to keep that focus is Jeremiah 29:11

"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."

There is another force at work in this world, and his sole intention is to pull us away from God, he uses our fears, doubts and troubles to try to make us believe that God does not want what's best for us.  Often when we step out in faith to follow God we become a target for attack, the dark enemy baits the trap and waits in the shadows to devour us.  I took the bait...this time, but next time I hope I will recognize the signs sooner, and not succomb to the temptation to turn inward but instead cling to the promises I know to be true.  I am so thankful to have friends around me, who were able to cut the snare, shine a light into the darkness and get me free from the trap.

Recently, I was at a huge worship concert at Darien Lake.   It was amazing to see thousands and thousands of people, hands raised and united in their beliefs.  One of the performers sang Amazing Grace, a song that always, even when played on the bagpipes, makes me cry (it was played at my mothers funeral).  During that song we all held candles that in the wind kept blowing out and friends or strangers would turn and relight your candle each time the fire turned to smoke.  It struck me at that moment, that that is what it is like living in a relationship with God, and other believers, each time the wind comes to take that light out there is someone there to help you light it again, it's up to us to receive the gift.

We still have an uncertain future, we still don't have the funds necessary to support the work we will do in Brazil, the difference between now and two weeks ago is that I have hope again and not in the things seen but in the things unseen.  If any of you are struggling right now, and life seems dark and without hope, don't stay in the trap, reach out to someone for help, for prayer.  You don't need to fight the fight alone.  

This is the version of Amazing Grace, sang by Chris Tomlin have a listen:


Liv said...

Well said, Jen. That was a good reminder for me. I've been on my walk for almost 2 decades but I still haven't even remotely understood that simple truth. How much different life would look if we really only grasped that we can walk on water!

Scott said...

That's the challenging thing about this faith voyage: you have to have the storms in order to know who you place your faith in. Every time that the storm hits (and it will continue to hit) you will both have that question put to you. The best advice I have is to live for today only. Look for God's hand TODAY... Oh storms - no faith.

Rebecca said...

Jen, your honesty is refreshing and inspiring.

Psalm 40: 1-5
1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
and put their trust in him.

4 Blessed is the one
who trusts in the LORD,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.[b]
5 Many, LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

LT said...

Good words, Jen. I especially appreciated the analogy of the candles and how we can relight each others when they go out.
May the Lord continue to renew your hope, as you keep fixed on His face.

Living India said...

You do know Jen, that if you had absolute assurance that all would be well in all circumstances you would not need to have faith.
"Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
John 2:29
The struggle is part of the walk; and you are doing just fine!