Friday, June 29, 2012

Here I am...

I woke up early this morning to dig into my new Bible study on Nehemiah.  The whole house slumbered as I prepared my heart through prayer and my body through coffee.  Asking for wisdom and petitioning for a heart that beats daily with a burning passion for Christ.

Late last night Darcy and I were deep in conversation.  Someone recently asked him, "What do you want to be when you grow up?  Aside from being a good husband and father, what is it you want to be?"  He pondered this question all day.  While discussing this, he explained, "Had I been asked this last week, my answer would have been quite different.  I really don't have an answer.  And perhaps not having an answer is actually better...a sign of growth and maturity."  We discussed the state of our hearts being one of  "Here I am, Lord. Take me. Send me."  That our plans are really not our own and sometimes the best outlook on life is just to be in a position of availability and willingness.  So, to answer that question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Our best reply is, "Lord, I'll be whatever you want me to be.  I'll go wherever you want me to go. I'll do whatever you want me to do."

We've recently walked through something pretty horrible.  As if there hadn't been enough dramatic events occur in our family over the past couple of years, this was the topper.  It could have ruined.  But it also could have been much worse.  This "rock bottom" could have been reached much lower, and we are thanking and praising God daily that it didn't.  Since then, eyes have been opened,  blinders lifted, layers have been peeled away, walls have come crashing down, and his grace envelops us.  A gracefall we cannot remove ourselves from if we tried.  We may very well be sitting in the worst set of circumstances we have ever found ourselves in, yet...Yet.  Underneath us are His everlasting arms.  Despite what it looks like, the peace, joy, confidence and contentment in our hearts is greater than it has ever been.  I have never felt more in love and more united with my husband than I am at this moment.  A revival has sprung.  I am so proud to be his wife and his friend.  We are walking by faith and not by sight. And it's a revelation. Circumstantially defeated, yet spiritually victorious.  I'll walk in this victory over any of the world's victories any day.

This morning while I was doing my Nehemiah study, I was referencing a verse in Colossians, flipping back between the Old and New Testaments.  When returning to Nehemiah, I glanced down at my Bible and it was opened to Jeremiah 31.  There was no bookmark there to encourage my Bible to land on that passage.  (And if you've ever seen my Bible, it is a bit cluttered with extras hanging out of it).  I immediately felt a strong stir in my heart.  One very similar to the stir I felt 2 years ago when the Lord first introduced the idea to us that we should leave the field of education and pursue a new career.  2 years ago this very month He led me to another passage in Jeremiah that confirmed this indeed was the direction He wanted us to take.  We've found ourselves at a crossroads recently (not in a career sense, but in many other ways).  I stand amazed at the way God steals our attention and speaks to us.  This morning I feel as if His hand, with much intentionality and purpose, reached down from heaven and flipped those pages of my Bible to Jeremiah 31.  A Word just for me...for us.

A long while back, I had written in my Bible that Jeremiah 31 describes a separation between God and His own, and His deep desire and readiness to close the gap.  As I began to read this chapter, verses popped out at me making my heart leap with revelation.

(Jeremiah 31: The Message and NIV) "They found grace in the desert, those people who survived the killing. Israel, out looking for a place to rest, met God out looking for them.  God told them 'I've never quit loving you and never will.  Expect love, love and more love! And so now I'll start over with you and build you up again.'"

These past two years have often felt like a wandering in the desert for us.  We've felt lost, abandoned, thirsty, unsettled, and desperately in need of His provision during this time.  He's taught us much through this wandering and given us the resolve that He indeed is for us and will never leave us.  We've also felt like a people who have "survived the killing"...even when the "killing" has been committed and induced on our part.  It has seemed that we've faced trial after trial after trial...with losing a business, a home, an unborn baby, living with in-laws for 2 years, a career change, a frightening and debilitating illness with our son, and then the latest dramatic event.  We've felt tired and beat up.  But He never stopped loving us.

"They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back.  I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble."
Jeremiah 31:9

"'I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give comfort and joy instead of sorrow.  I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty,' declares the Lord."
Jeremiah 31:13-14

"'Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,' declares the Lord.  'They will return from the land of the enemy.  So there is hope for your future,' declares the Lord."
Jeremiah 31:16-17

"I have surely heard Ephraim's moaning; 'You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined.  Restore me and I will return, because You are the LORD my God.  After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast.  I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.'"
Jeremiah 31:18-19

"I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint."
Jeremiah 31:25

"'Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,' declares the LORD."
Jeremiah 31:28

"I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts."
Jeremiah 31:33

"...The LORD Almighty is his name."
Jeremiah 31:35

I've learned that God is far more concerned about our hearts than He is our circumstances.  He allowed something pretty terrible to happen recently as a way to draw my husband back to Him.  Jeremiah 31 speaks loudly of rebuilding.  With hammer and nails, the Lord is building him back up again.  And as the head and lead of our family, the fruit of this is spilling from our household.  I can't even soak it all in.  There's just too much grace.  For He is good.  There's a Rush of Fools song called, "The Only Thing that's Beautiful in Me."  The lyrics begin with:
Just like the ocean waves 
You crash on me
Just like a tidal wave
You ruin me
Just like a hurricane 
You devastate everything that needs to change

Out of infinite love, this is what God has been doing.  Allowing circumstances, trial, failure and heartache to humble, crash and ruin.  It could happen no other way.  Yet...
Just like a mountain peak
You lift me up
Just like a desert stream
You fill my cup
And like a heart that beats
You are the blood that covers me
You cover me

We are covered by His saving grace.
And all I can say is thank you, thank you
And all I can say is thank you, Lord thank you
And all I can say is thank you, thank you

The passage the Lord led me to when Darcy and I decided to switch careers was Jeremiah 32.  The LORD had asked Jeremiah to purchase a field that had become desolate wasteland, captured by the enemy.  It seemed an irrational thing for a rational man to do, but he obeyed.  Darcy leaving a respectable, stable, well-paid job that he was good at and enjoyed, to take on a completely different career with an initial 50% pay decrease, no health insurance, and a ludicrous work schedule also seemed irrational.  It kept us up at night with fear.  But he obeyed.  And God gave me much peace.  In that original passage the LORD led me to 2 years ago,  He talked about restoring the land and allowing the people to enjoy abundant peace and security.  With the failed business and lost home, I felt that the LORD was leading us down this career path to rebuild us.  We were honoring Him with our finances and had come up with a wise plan to get out of debt, and then this business opportunity came up.  The LORD gave us so many clear signs that this was the road He wanted us to take.  We felt this was His way to restore us.  Yet, what we've found over these past 2 years is something completely different.  Financially, we are buried.  With mountains of medical bills, piles of student loans, and the need to charge simple things such as gas, groceries and utilities  from time to time, from a financial point, we have never been worse.  But we are OK with this right now.  Quite frankly, for the first time in two years, we are both at peace with this.  For the mighty work He is doing in our hearts recently is producing fruit in our family that is worth far more than gold.  There is abundant peace and security in this.

So, I find it no coincidence that after this horrible incident that just occured, where circumstances are stacked up against us and nothing makes sense, God leads me right back to the book He led me to 2 years ago, and speaks afresh.  This time, He brought me back a chapter.  To chapter 31. A chapter about restoration.  There is no doubt we are moving onto a building and planting stage in our lives.  A separation had occurred and through unfortunate circumstance and immeasurable grace, He closed the gap.  He can finally begin a good work.  We humbly thank and praise Him for this.  A marvelous Romans 8:28 promise He is fulfilling right now. Rebuilding may now begin.  And although I originally thought that this rebuilding was going to take form in a different sense, I see now that it will be taking form in a kingdom sense.  I want and need nothing more.  I'm ready for the harvest.  Here I am Lord.



    (I wish I had more to give)

  2. Astounded by His timing in all of this...looking back at my old devotional and the passage that He first led me to, I see that it happened on June 30, 2010. Had this not been a leap year, this new passage He led me to this morning would have occurred two years ago to this exact day in June. Yes, He was giving me a Word.

  3. Wow, Amanda. Wow. Your reaction here can only be from the Lord. No person can be battered in the storm and come out with praise on their lips and hope in their hearts unless they are Filled. I don't know about you but I often hope good things will come to
    Me while here on earth as well as in my eternal home. Moments of clarity remind me of this pin-prick of time on the eternal timeline and I once again regain perspective. How much more important is my heavenly future than this? And then I feel foolish and recall "seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God and his righteousness then all these things shall be added unto you (alleluia ;))Feeling like you are taking a beating (and believe me, I have had some awful seasons of that) can become wearisome as well as planting a bitter seed. The mark of someone well rooted in Him is the trust, fortitude, and peace that you have expressed.

  4. Would you believe blogger wouldn't let me type further?
    All I need to add is Carry on, Sister! Carry on! When people like you represent Jesus the kingdom is furthered! xoxo

  5. Love you Amanda! God's grace is sufficent and always just in time!