When there is a loss, God provides a gain

By JC

With thanks to Dr. B., whose wise words inspired today’s post.

When people ask the question “Why?” to God, whether it is, “Why is there evil?” “Why didn’t You answer this prayer?” “Why did You allow this?” or “Why did they die?” an approach might reference we are the clay (Isaiah 64:8), His thoughts are higher (Isaiah 55:9), and God’s response to Job (Job 41:11). That is certainly one method to understanding the questions we have of God.

Another approach says to look to God’s character. Of course, we read the Word to understand who He is and what His patterns are – His character. No matter how much we question Him, He is Love, He is Truth, and He is Light.

Credit: Snow

I want to highlight one such pattern – how each time someone in the Bible lost something, there was a gain. We could look at Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:35-43) or Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15) – they lost a life or lost an illness (were healed). I want to focus on Lazarus.

“A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, ‘Lord, your dear friend is very sick.’ But when Jesus heard about it he said, ‘Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.’ So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days.”
John 11:1-6

Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, yet, when there was a cry for Him to come because Lazarus was sick, He did not answer that cry. He did not come. At least it appeared He did not answer, because the people making the cry wanted Jesus to answer, “I am coming now.”

We offer up many prayers, daily, about all kinds of things. I do believe that we have hopes of how He will answer our prayers or we might think we already have the best answers: “I have put a lot of thought into the matter, Lord. I saved You the trouble – here is the answer to my prayer.”

Even the Son of God prayed, “Thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42). So, if the Almighty Son of God submitted to the Father when He prayed, how much more shall we?

I am not suggesting it is wrong to ask for specific things, but, rather, that whatever we pray, before we say “In Jesus’ name, we pray,” add in “Thy will be done” and work hard to mean it.

The sisters of Lazarus wanted Jesus to come right away. They thought He could heal him, like He had so many others. However, He failed to answer the way they wanted and expected. Instead, He let two days pass before making the journey.

“Then [Jesus] said, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.’ The disciples said, ‘Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!’ They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. So he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.'”
John 11:11-15

Jesus had a reason, He always has a reason. And if we claim to believe in all of Scripture, then we believe all the verses that talk about how much He loves us and how all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).

We also would claim to believe Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

Out of a loss, God brings a gain. We may not see it right away or even this side of Heaven, but trust His character, trust who He is.

“‘Where have you put him?’ [Jesus] asked them. They told him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, ‘See how much he loved him!’ But some said, ‘This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?’ Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. ‘Roll the stone aside,’ Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, ‘Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.’ Jesus responded, ‘Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?'”
John 11:34-40

Jesus shows up after Lazarus has been dead for days. The sisters, who earlier had been so eager for Jesus to heal their brother, now discouraged Him – Lord, the smell.

Jesus was undaunted by a stench, He had bigger things in mind – that the glory of God Almighty would be shown. No smell was going to stop Him from glorifying God.

As we go through life, there will be stenches we must endure in seasons where God is waiting for the right time for Him to receive the glory. Your time of stench in the tomb may be four days, it may be four years. However, trust in these things:.

  1. Jesus knows exactly where you are. He has not forgotten about you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
  2. Sometimes, you need to be still and ask Him to help you deal with the stench while He is waiting on the right time. (Psalm 46:10)
  3. Know that He is at work while you are working through the stench. (Isaiah 43:15-19)
  4. Know that when He is ready to release you, there will be an incredible gain. (John 10:10)

Never take your eyes off Jesus, never stop believing in Him, never stop trusting Him – through loss of freedom due to a quarantine or loss of a job or loss of your retirement because of the stock market – never stop trusting Him.

When you waiver, read the Bible. See His character, His heart, and His patterns – when there is a loss, He provides a gain.

“So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.’ Then Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, ‘Unwrap him and let him go!’ Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.”
John 11:41-45

Everyone thought Lazarus was dead – they buried the man. He began to stink. Then, Jesus showed up, and the loss became a gain – a life was restored better than before and most important, God was glorified. People came to know God’s character through Lazarus’ death and Jesus’ miracle of bringing life to where death reigned. That is His pattern. Cling to who He is, not what is going on around you.


During these chaotic times, when I feel overwhelmed with bad news, I listen to “It Is Well (With My Soul).” Because you know what, brothers and sisters, it is well. Jesus Christ holds our very souls, so it is well.

Credit: Bethel Music (YouTube)

Why did God let me down?

Please see JC’s “The Cycle of Trust” for background on today’s post.

By JC

So many prayers for healing. She was so young. Maybe I did not pray enough. Maybe I did not pray the right way.

I have heard non-believers say, “How can a loving God allow that?”

When you are crushed and cannot breathe, yet the hits keep coming, believers ask that, too. I do.

I begged Jesus through sobs of pain. Crying out, “Please help, Jesus. Please.”

Nothing.

Silence.

I watched her take her last breaths while in pain.

I prayed for her to be healed, but I also know that we are to pray for His will above all else. So, I dutifully prayed, “Father, please heal her. If that is not Your will, then please allow her to pass peacefully in her sleep.”

That is not how it happened. It was not peaceful or painless.

If another believer were to ask me, “How can a loving God allow that?” I would quote Isaiah 55:9: “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

I would also say that He loves us more than we can understand, so there must have been worse things ahead. Worse pain, things unbearable to see. So, He called her home before things reached that point.

Haven’t we been through enough? So much death and pain in such a short time, so many loved ones gone despite prayers and fasting. Why God, why do we now have to go through this, too? We are still recovering from the last tragedy. The last wounds are still raw.

“Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

I believe Scriptures. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I believe He died for my sins. So, I read this verse and know it to be true. But God, how weak do I need to be?

The pain is more than I can bear, Lord.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
Psalm 34:18

I seek You. Why am I seeking, though? I have the Holy Spirit. You are already right here with me. Help me to feel You. I need You, Lord. I need to remember that I am not like King Saul.

“Now the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul, and the LORD sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear.”
1 Samuel 16:14

You will not remove Your Holy Spirit from me.

“God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 5:5

I do not have to fear like King David, when he saw the Spirit removed from Saul and penned Psalm 51.

“Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.”
Psalm 51:11-12

While this pain is unbearable, I cannot let my heart doubt You or Your love.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Proverb 4:23

My own heart works against me.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
Jeremiah 17:9

So, where do I go from here? I am to guard my heart, which is desperately wicked, but I cannot guard it properly.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7

But because I believe Jesus is the Son of God, I have His peace that is beyond understanding. I have peace when I should not. I have peace when the world says, “How can a loving God allow this?”

The answer is, I do not know. I may never know this side of Heaven. But I know God is love (1 John 4:16).

I also know I am not to focus on such thoughts, nor allow my heart to ruminate on such things.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Philippians 4:8

It is not easy. Pain crushes. Feeling like God let you down crushes.

I do not believe that time heals all wounds. Instead, I believe that you find your new normal. Through Jesus, you find the way to move forward with the hole in your heart and determine your new normal.

Why did God let me down? I don’t know that He did. I know my heart is telling me that, but my heart can be wicked.

No, I cannot guard my heart. I need Jesus for that. We must stay anchored to Him for peace and joy that is beyond understanding.


“Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭57:1‬

Credit: JC

Dear God, please forgive me

For background on today’s post, please see previous posts where JC has shared her story – including “Spiritual Abuse” and “The Cycle of Trust.”

Credit: JC

By JC

Dear God,

Please forgive me. I am sorry. I am sorry that I did not trust You during my storm.

Funny thing is that I know the story about the disciples and You sleeping in the boat, commonly known as “Jesus Calms the Storm”:

“Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ Jesus responded, ‘Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!’ Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. ‘Who is this man?’ they asked. ‘Even the winds and waves obey him!'”
Matthew 8:23–27

I read your Word everyday so I know this story. And yet, for a long time, I have doubted Your control over the storm I am in. I never said it that way or thought about it that way, but that is what I did. While I never doubted that You love me, I was not hearing from You. Despite my faithful prayers, the many times I cried and begged for an answer, You were silent. I felt like the disciples – scared and crying out, “Lord, where are You?”

I prayed to You, Lord, asking for You to bend me and break me to Your will. I kept handing over the situation to You, reminding myself of Philippians 4:6: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

But then I would take the situation back from You:

Lord, You are not moving, I do not see anything improving for months and months, despite my prayers and fasting and my broken heart. I do not understand, I know You love me. I have been a Christian for over a decade, so I know what to do when prayer goes unanswered–Fast, ask God if there is unconfessed sin in my life, check if what I am asking is in line with Scriptures, talk to Godly people, and sometimes understand no answer is an answer.

I was trying everything just to survive.

Then, I was listening to K-LOVE at work this week and I heard this: God waits until you truly surrender to Him. Then, He kindly says, “My child, I was just waiting for you to be done.”

That hit me hard. I was trying to do this or that. While I was praying and fasting and removing sins from my life, I had not fully surrendered to You. It was unintentional, I believed I had surrendered. But, what I was saying was “God, please fix this . . . just not that way please.”

I was not fully surrendered to You. I then started praying, “Lord, please do whatever You want. I no longer care. Just please do something.” [I am not recommending this exact prayer, as I had a bad attitude.]

I spent a few days praying this and inviting the Holy Spirit to work on my bad attitude.

Then, You moved.

And You moved in a big way.

I am sorry I did not trust You. I am sorry I kept handing over my burdens and then taking them back. I am sorry I did not fully surrender to You.

Thank you, God. You have taught us so much. May we never forget these lessons:

  • You provide (Philippians 4:19)
  • Trust in You (Proverb 3:5)
  • Be still (Psalm 46:10)
  • “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6)
  • Rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4)
  • Owe no one a thing, except love (Romans 13:8)
  • Love Jesus first
  • Seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33)
  • If it’s His will, He will
  • “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28)
  • “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good” (Genesis 50:20)
  • And nothing can separate us from Your love (Romans 8:38-39)

Amen


Doctor Lois Evans, beloved bride of Texas-based pastor and author Doctor Tony Evans, went Home on December 30. Doctor Evans on January 5 provided a poignant sermon as a tribute to her, embedded below or available directly on YouTube. JC notes, “He talks about being close to God, how you can hear and see Heaven when you stay close to Him. She trusted Him in her death. We must always stay close to Him and trust Him no matter what.”

 Credit: Tony Evans (YouTube)

The miracle of Rahab

By Snow

In the lead-up to the battle of Jericho, Joshua, leader of the Israelites after the death of Moses, sent two spies into the city. There, they spent the night at the house of Rahab, a prostitute. The king of Jericho found out about the incursion and sent word to Rahab that she was to oust the Israelites. Instead, she hid the men and claimed to the king that they had already left (see Joshua 2:1-6).

The passage below begins with a quote from Rahab as she talks to the spies:

“‘Now swear to me by the LORD that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.’ ‘We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety,’ the men agreed. ‘If you don’t betray us, we will keep our promise and be kind to you when the LORD gives us the land.’ Then, since Rahab’s house was built into the town wall, she let them down by a rope through the window.”
Joshua 2:12-15

Using a scarlet rope, the men descend the wall of the city from Rahab’s window. They return to camp and report to Joshua (see Joshua 2:21-24).

Credit: JC

The Israelites mount an offense, crossing the Jordan to Jericho (see Joshua 3). The Lord gives Joshua specific instructions on how to conquer the city in seven days (see Joshua 6:2-5). Following the Lord’s instructions, on the seventh day:

“When the people heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it. They completely destroyed everything in it with their swords—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys. Meanwhile, Joshua said to the two spies, ‘Keep your promise. Go to the prostitute’s house and bring her out, along with all her family.’ The men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, brothers, and all the other relatives who were with her. They moved her whole family to a safe place near the camp of Israel.”
Joshua 6:20-23

What I love about this story is not that the Israelites lived up to their promise of sparing Rahab.

No, it is God who saved Rahab. For her house was built into the walls of the city – the very same walls that collapse in the above passage. Only after the collapse did the spies retrieve Rahab and her family. For her house to survive collapse was nothing short of divine intervention – a true miracle.

In the New Testament, the author of Hebrews includes Rahab in the faith “hall of fame,” noting:

“It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down. It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.”
Hebrews 11:30-31

James also references Rahab, placing her faith in the context of her actions:

“So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.”
James 2:24-26

What an amazing God! Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.

He is my strength

Credit: JC

By Snow

Nearly six months ago, Jesus blessed me with a rest from working. He extracted me from a toxic environment and provided for my needs. I remember doing quick math in my head the day I lost my job and thinking, “I’ll be fine, as long as I find something by October.”

October came and went. No job. No sign of a job. Yet, He continued to provide.

While looking for work, both JC and I prayed that God would “open and shut doors” so we would know His will. In the past, I would apply for two or three jobs, and one would come through for me. This time, I applied for more jobs than ever. Dozens. For a few of them, I admittedly would have been a stretch, for others, I was overqualified, but for many, I appeared to be a perfect match.

Only one door ever opened, though.

One of my initial concerns about this particular job was that the absolute maximum annual salary they would be able to offer was $X, whereas I had already figured out I needed a minimum of $X + 5,000 to make ends meet, and preferably $X + 10,000. However, I went forward with the process anyway. After all, it was the only door. While I was certainly not challenging God, I did have the stray thought that “If the offer comes in at $X + 10,000, I’ll know that is God at work and He wants me to take this job.”

When the call came on Tuesday, I was on the way to a park. I let it go to voicemail. I knew I would probably find out whether I had gotten the job when I called back. Rather than immediately return the call, I decided to take my walk first and spend time praying to God. Though pelted with freezing rain, I managed to get in nearly three miles of walking.

Back in my car, my fingers were numb. Once I warmed up, I called back. I was the successful candidate.

The offer? With absolutely no negotiation on my part, it came in at $X + 10,000. I almost cried.

He provides.

When I think back on this rest, the main purpose was for me to learn to trust God – to realize that I rely on Him for everything. All of the wonderful aspects of my life are blessings from Him.

I am blessed that I was never in danger of missing a rent payment or even a meal. Though eligible, I never had to file for unemployment. God was right there, every step of the way.

I am grateful for my new job, which I am starting near the end of this month. In the meantime, I want to wrap up a few personal tasks. I also want to continue my spiritual focus while I have this extra time. I have recently been walking every day, which is one way I connect with Him. He now tells me that He wants me to write every day leading up to my start date as well. I have no idea what I will be saying, but look for daily posts from me for the next couple of weeks.

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.

“I love you, LORD; you are my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.”
Psalm 18:1-2

40 days in the desert

By JC

Today is the last day of the 40 day fast for my marriage. I completed at least one daily act of kindness for the past 40 days to try to show my spouse the kindness and love of Christ, regardless of his behavior. Prior to this fast, I was frustrated with my spouse’s behaviors and saw him differently than I do now. Doing the acts of kindness had an opposite effect than I would have expected. My spouse ignored or rejected all of my acts of kindness and instead increased his negativity.

I have been praying hedges of protection with the blood of Jesus at least once a day around the kids and the house to protect us from the increased negativity. There is so much power in the name of Jesus!!

Before I go any further with this post, I feel burdened to say that the 40 day fast approach is NOT intended for people who are in marriages where your health/well-being is at stake. I am not asking you to stay with someone for 40 days who mistreats you or your kids or anyone. Please get help. I learned over these 40 days that it takes 7 times for someone who is being abused to finally leave. More sobering than that, not everyone survives to their 7th attempt. If you are in this kind of relationship, please get help: www.thehotline.org. God created you in His image, and He did not intend for you to be abused by your spouse or anyone. He sees you as His temple:

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.”
from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

There are many other verses, but just know that you are loved by God Almighty, there is hope, and you ARE strong enough in Jesus to leave. I now know that.

I received so many insights during this 40 day fast. I mentioned one example of a fast in my last post, that one is for two married people who are both believers and one spouse does not hate the other. That is not my situation, as my husband has not spoken to me in many months and refuses to be in the same room with me, even though we currently live together. So, I modified the fast I used to better fit my situation, but still included Christ-like daily tasks. I will post the revised fast I created soon.

I recommend that if you create your own fast, daily pray and obey two sets of Scriptures. The first is:

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Ephesians 4:29-32

The second set of verses is:

“The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
from Galatians 5:22-23

Pray that you will show the fruit of the Spirit daily to your spouse and to others as well.

Armed with daily prayers and an open heart, the insights began to flow over the 40 days:

  • Working to be more like Jesus ALWAYS hurts because as sinners, we are so far from Him.
  • Everyone needs a “Nathan” and should be a “Nathan” for someone. Named for the prophet who confronted King David in 2 Samuel 12 after he sinned against God, a “Nathan” is the person in your life who will challenge you, call you out, tell you like it is, and hold you accountable.
  • If your spouse is saved and does not pray with you, read with you, worship with you, or help you feel Jesus, get on your knees and pray about it. It is a problem. Galatians 5:7-8 states, “You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.” These verses spoke volumes to me in my situation.
  • God never commanded us to obey someone in authority when they are leading us to rebel against God. There are many examples of this in the Bible, but I will note only one. From Daniel 6:6-10, “So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said [. . .] give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions. [. . .] But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.” We are never to rebel against God because someone in authority over us leads us that way. Never.
  • I had to realize the need for God to change my heart. Regardless of how my spouse acted. I needed to respond in a Christ-like manner and show my kids a healthy example of Jesus in marriage in my home. I needed to examine my own heart.
  • I must see my spouse as a child of God; Jesus died for my spouse. No matter how I feel about him or how he treats me, God loves my spouse. I prayed that God would help me to see my spouse as God sees him. Instead of frustration with my spouse, I began to feel deep pity. I then cried many mornings praying for my spouse as I saw how he is missing out on the incredible relationship that believers should have with Jesus. To be clear, my spouse says he is saved and has been baptized, but refuses to pray with me or the kids, I have never seen him read the Bible or heard him quote Scripture or say the name “Jesus.” It is not my place to judge his relationship with Jesus, all I know is I now pitied this person that used to frustrate me. I began to beg God daily that my spouse would come to know Jesus deeper that day then he ever had before. I will continue to pray this.
  • I asked my spouse, “How can I pray for you?” Note that I prayed for him daily already, but this was an opportunity for him to share with me, if he chose to, what his prayer needs were.
  • Share with your spouse that you pray for them daily. It is irrelevant if they care or acknowledge this. You never need anyone’s permission to pray for them.
  • Anytime you try to move your family to obedience, Satan will fight you hard. He wants the family out of alignment with God’s Word because the family is the foundation to everything.
  • I needed to find things for which to appreciate my spouse, such as, “Thank you for cutting the grass.”
  • I needed to acknowledge Christian things my spouse does, such as, “I am grateful that you were baptized.”
  • I wrote a letter to my spouse asking for forgiveness. As he has not spoken to me in many months, I still wanted to do this task, as I am sure I have hurt him over the years of our marriage. I did not want to write some generic letter, so I prayed about what to write that would be authentic and possibly heal my spouse. During my quiet time one morning, God showed me that I failed at Ephesians 5:22-24, “For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.” As a wife, I did not always obey these verses. So, I apologized to my husband for not consistently obeying Ephesians 5.
Credit: JC
  • As the hate and hurt flowed from my spouse, Pastor’s wife shared with me that it is the anguish in my spouse’s soul manifesting, which reinforced the pity I now feel.
  • I wrote vows to God on the last day of the fast. Pastor told me this fast was going to be more about me and less about my marriage. I admit I did not understand that in the beginning, but he was right.

If your spouse is not saved, I highly recommend Stormie Omartian‘s The Power of a Praying Wife Book of Prayers or The Power of a Praying Husband. I prayed through this book nine years ago, and my spouse made a profession of faith and was baptized as I completed the book. Also, please refer to 1 Corinthians 7:12-13, “Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a fellow believer has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her. And if a believing woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him.” I was in that boat for two years where I was the believer and my spouse was not. Again, I am not at all saying to stay with someone who abuses you. Please get help.

As for Snow, his unbelieving wife is divorcing him. This situation is found in 1 Corinthians 7:15, “If the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the believing husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.”

As the 40 day fast concludes, I now see my spouse as someone to be pitied, and I cry out for him daily instead of the “mindless” prayers I used to pray for him. I now know that with Christ’s strength, I can respond to hate with love. I now trust God even more, for I was reminded that God has me and my kids; He always has. I now pray “Thy will be done” and mean it.

I thank God for this fast and pray that if you choose to enter a fast, you will receive the insights you seek.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
James 1:5

Never truly apart

By JC

During a fast where one of the prayers was to hit me with a 4×4 of what to do in my marriage, I felt led by God to meet with two friends – a pastor and his wife. In previous posts, I have talked a little about my marriage and the struggles that exist in the church family and assumptions and so on. There was a lot going on in my mind, how do I know what is from God? I do know that “God hates divorce,” for I have heard that over and over.

My friends both had been married before; they each had different experiences. They were brutally honest with me, which I needed. I came in with a list of reasons why I needed a divorce – self-justification of why Malachi 2 did not apply. They said, of course God will forgive you if you choose to divorce your spouse. That is not the right attitude, though. Out of love, they called me out, and asked, did I want their permission to divorce, or did I want a path that would deepen my relationship with God as I proceeded?

Of course, I wanted to deepen my relationship with God! I had mentioned Snow to them, and they asked whether I was having an affair with him, and I said absolutely not. Which is the truth. I shared that we pray together and read together daily, that we fast together. That we have been on this journey together since June of 2018. They then said that I was having an emotional affair with Snow. I had not seen it that way, but there was a 4×4 I needed.

It is true that Snow did many things my spouse refused to do, such as speak to me, pray with me, read with me, serve with me, and fast with me.

In order to be fully emptied out and healed, they said I needed to fast for 40 days from Snow AND show Christ’s kindness to my spouse during those 40 days. Based on Fireproof, there are little tasks, like do an unexpected act of kindness. Things I was already doing for my spouse prior to the fast included, praying for him everyday, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. I did not speak hurt or hate into his life, and I worked hard to never say a bad word about him to our kids. Those things continue.

This fast approach is to achieve two things:

  1. Eliminate the enemy using Snow as a temptation.
  2. Allow me to treat my spouse in a way that honors God.

Pastor and his wife had not left their previous marriages in healthy ways, and it caused them damage as individuals and brought baggage into their marriage to one another. They made it clear this fast was about ME and being emptied and healed and focusing on God and being fully dependent on God. I would come out stronger and closer to God.

I know that God used them to speak to me because I had been hearing whispers from God that I needed to fast from Snow (for both of us, not just me), but I would not listen because I did not want to do it. When it was mentioned by Pastor, I knew this was God, and I also knew that I would not be able to move forward without doing this. So, very unwillingly, I agreed to the 40-day covenant with God – broken only if my spouse left or a death occurred. Pastor then said not to tell my spouse or kids what I was doing.

I went to Snow’s place that very night and shared that I needed to fast from him for the next 40 days. That was harder than I thought, which only reinforced that I needed to do it. Fasts are supposed to be a sacrifice, that you give up a thing that is being placed above God or that is going to hurt to give up. Fasts are not supposed to be easy. They are supposed to have a cost assigned to them.

“David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. […] David replied, ‘I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.'”
2 Samuel 12:16,22

I was still on the food fast about my marriage, so I maintained that fast and kicked off this new one. As mentioned, it is combined with being Christ-like, regardless of how my spouse acts. The goal is to demonstrate to the kids a healthier example and leave the marriage knowing I treated my spouse in a Christ-like manner. I was not always doing this before, for when spouse got on my nerves, I would tell Snow things he did – a “no-no.” I had not seen it that way, as Snow is also my best friend – but they were right, I was having an emotional affair. I would add that I was also having a spiritual affair. As they said, the fast is more about me than it is about my spouse.

Driving away that night from Snow’s place, I was struggling to breathe, let alone drive – I felt like I was hyperventilating. I felt sick to my stomach – how will I survive without praying with him, reading with him, being challenged by him as we read the Scriptures?

Credit: JC

I have since learned that I do, in fact, feel Jesus through Snow. He is one way that I feel Jesus. I also feel Jesus on my own, of course, because I do have a personal relationship with Jesus, but I definitely grow in Jesus when we are studying or praying together. I learned just how much I love Snow and how spiritually entangled I am with him. So, yes, I definitely needed to fast from him.

I will not be leaving my marriage for a man, but instead leaving a marriage where I acted as Christ-like as I could and, yet, was ignored or rejected. Pastor said this was irreconcilable differences.

The first few days of this fast, God answered prayers left and right, and I started to trust Him more and more. He started to show visions in dreams and such of a future assignment. All the while, I was doing acts of kindness and my spouse was rejecting them at worst or ignoring them at best. This was exactly what I expected, but, again, this is about me and providing a Christ-like example to my kids and leaving this marriage knowing I acted as Christ-like as possible to my spouse.

We are now on the 14th day of the fast. Back on the 5th day, God wrote the following through me. I shot up out of bed and immediately started to write this poem. I don’t do poetry. It was flowing so fast, I could barely keep up, and the lines were being given to me out of order, so I was guessing where they would go. It just flowed, and I tried to keep up.

Praise You in this Fast

I will praise You in this fast.
I belong first in Your arms,
Healing me and sealing me from my past.
Blowing away life’s fiery storms,
I am being purified,
And I am being prepared.
I will testify!

Yes, this pain is more than I can bear,
In You, my salvation does lie.
Wash me clean,
Bend me, break me,
I must walk by faith, not by what I have seen.
You are my God!
I will raise my hands in praise!

Rip down any facade.
No matter how high the waves, You carry me and lift me above,
While this tears at my heart, I have never felt so close to Your love,
And now we know we are never truly apart.
I have learned incredible trust,
Work and purify and refine,
I did not want to do this, but now I see I must,
You are a jealous God and said “I want you both to be all Mine.”

With many tears, I obey,
Like clay, reshape my life.
Each day, You are showing me the Way.
At the end, I will be his wife.
I have learned I needed to forgive,
I needed to cleanse,
Being freed, I can truly live.
I needed to see through Your lens.

I have been ripped in two, my very soul,
This mourning has torn my heart,
Only You can fill this hole.
Now we will never be apart,
You have taught me to trust.
Love the Lord God with all your strength and mind,
Body, soul, spirit and might,
You are all I need to find,
You fill me with the strength to fight.
You fill me with confidence I will see him again,
It will be at the end of an aisle,
Though I don’t know exactly when.
At each thought of You and him, I smile,
I surrender all to You,
That is what this fast is about,
So the one can become two,
Removing each and every doubt.
I am Yours forever,
We will walk side by side always,
We belong together, wherever and however,
Never to be separated, not even by the end of days.

Our souls are intertwined with each other,
We are so buried in You,
We will never worship another,
This love is being purified and made true.
While we bend and break in Your hands,
Our love and bond in You grows,
May You always shield our marriage from life’s demands,
Running into Your arms is all we need to know.

Thank you, thank you for this fast!
While we lay shattered,
New clay molds are being cast.
Our bodies and souls will not remain battered,
You saw us in the womb,
Wove us together in history,
Freed by Jesus the second He left the tomb.
Drop these chains, release the hurt, you are now part of His story,
Who could ever fathom such love,
May we never forget the lessons of this fast,
Through life’s storms, we will keep our eyes on You above,
Our growth and trust, may it ever last,
Forged in pain and tears,
We will praise You in this fast,
As You gently wash away our fears.

The Cycle of Trust

By JC

I am going through a tremendous time of change in my life. While I met Jesus 11 years ago, I have not been fully surrendered to Him. What does that mean, “fully surrendered”?

The meaning I am applying here is that every corner of my life, every person in my life, every relationship in my life, AND my life itself belongs to Jesus. Saved people believe that, and we know it. How often do we live it, though?

I am sure there are times that we surrender situations to Jesus, ones that we know we cannot at all control – medical situations or other people’s behavior. But I am talking about even the corners of our lives that we believe we can control, such as where I want to work or where I want to go today.

For several months now, Snow and I have been working on fully surrendering our lives to Jesus and praying, “Bend me, break me to Your Will.” Within the past five months, we have both lost our jobs in the corporate world, we each lost someone incredibly dear to us to death (Praise God they both knew Jesus) and at least one marriage is ending.

For us, we daily give our worries to God, but we pick them right back up – sometimes within minutes. Daily questions we ask include:

  • “What is the plan, God?”
  • “What do You want me to do?”
  • “What is Your desired outcome so I can get there?”

I love clarity, and so there are times where I pray God would just tell me what to do: Where is the goal line? I will obey and move the ball down the field, but just tell me where You want me to wind up.

This is not how God works. I was studying Abram this week (before he became Abraham), and this man literally left all he knew for some place that God said He would show him at some point. WHAT??

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.'”
Genesis 12:1

Notice that word “will.” Leave all that you know and are comfortable with for this completely unknown path that I am not ready yet to reveal to you.

As I studied this verse and Abram’s reaction, I thought to myself, could I do that? I say that I want to fully surrender all to Jesus, and I do believe that, but could I really do that? Leave all that I know and all that is comfortable for some unknown path? That is fully trusting God – wow.

Credit: JC

Since Snow and I have been praying the “Bend me, break me” prayers for months, God has been removing toxic things from our lives. The work environments were extremely toxic. Certain relationships were and are extremely toxic. Both Snow and I were saved later in life, so we made stupid decisions before we were saved that are now being cleaned up, and God is at work in those corners of our lives, too.

All of that is an amazing blessing, but here is the issue: My heart.

Do I fully trust God with what He is doing in my life? Can I be like Abram and just obey without knowing the plan or the outcome?

The still, small voice reminds me of the following:

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28

As I think about this verse, I definitely love God. I do not always act like it because I am a sinner, but I do love Him. And I do believe that He has a plan for my life because of two specific verses, though there are others.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'”
Jeremiah 29:11

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”
Psalm 139:16

I believe in the Bible 100%, every word of it. So, based solely on these two example verses above, He has a plan, and the plan is for my ultimate good.

So why do I struggle with trusting Him? Has He ever let me down?

Yes, in my opinion, He did. Allow me to explain.

Two years ago, there was this sweet, amazing young girl that out of the blue got an aggressive cancer that began to ravage her body. The medical treatments were done, the surgeries occurred, etc. I believed in the power of prayer, and there were thousands of us praying for this sweet girl to be healed physically and remain in this world.

God chose to heal her a different way and ushered her into eternity. As a believer, I know that God knows best, and He loves her more than we can process, and I know He chose to call her Home, and it was the perfect response for her.

What about those of us who trusted God to heal her, though? There are several verses that talk about ask anything in My name and I will do it – so what happened here?

“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.”
Matthew 18:19

“Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”
John 14:14

Jesus and Snow are going to help me heal and dive into these verses more. There will be a future post on this topic, so I will end that trail here for now.

For the purposes of today’s post, I must trust God. Things do not always make sense to me.

Can I be like Abram and just obey without knowing the end game? Oh, but I do know – Romans 8:28. Maybe this hurts, and it is messed up in my opinion, but He is at work, and I must trust Him. I will trust Him for a short time period, then start worrying again: How will this work? What about that?

It is a cycle of trust for me. I see it as a spiritual battle. The enemy does NOT want me to trust God and fully surrender to Him.

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.”
Romans 8:5-8

Note those words God uses, “always hostile to God,” “never” obeys, and “can never please God.”

“Always” and “never” are words that leave no room for lack of clarity. So, if I am listening to the enemy, dominated by the fear, the worry, I will never please God in that state of mind.

I am working on replacing worry with worship, for the enemy hates when we give glory to God (that is the whole reason Satan rebelled, to get glory).

I would like to say I have conquered this battle, but the cycle of trust continues: I trust Him, I worry, He reminds me of His love and promises, I trust Him, I worry.

The two things that I am focused on are:

  1. Asking God to show me areas that I am not yet fully surrendered in and then listening to His response
  2. Working hard to apply 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

I cannot control every thought that enters my mind, but I can control what I do with each thought once it is there. I compare it to Scripture and assess whether it is light and love. If it is, I engage God about it. If the thought is not edifying, pure, or anchored in the Truth, do I dwell on it and allow it to seep into my soul?

“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:9

I see in the above verse, “Trust me.”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

I see in these verses God saying, “I got it, regardless of what you think based on what you see around you. I got it.”

There is a battle going on, brothers and sisters. Fully surrendering and unconditionally trusting in God is the way to disarm the enemy.

Guard your hearts and minds

Credit: JC

By Snow

Here we are in August, already. Not only is it August, but it is practically mid-August. How’d that happen? Where did the time go?

This is one of those days where I don’t have a preconceived post ready to go in my mind. I don’t know where today’s post is going to land.

I am sitting here in my apartment. I can hear kids playing happily outside. I love that sound.

After a wonderful day at the beach with JC on Friday, I allowed myself that evening to slip into a depression-like state. This was due to me not being mindful enough about my thoughts, for as Paul tells us:

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Saturday, I continued to let dark thoughts influence me. Though I did my normal quiet time of reading and prayer in the morning, I stayed in bed much of the day, not wanting to get up. When I became hungry, I ate peanut M&Ms for breakfast and then returned to bed. I never bothered to shower. I left dishes in the sink and clothes in the washer. I kept the blinds closed and the lights off. I wanted just to sleep in my apartment all day and stay away from the world. I even prayed to “help me make it through another day.”

JC finally snapped me out of it by coming by, getting me out, and making me go for a walk after she left. I have been blessed with true love, and I was created to serve Him at her side. She enriches my very soul. There is so much I want to experience with her, but, for various reasons, we are constrained right now. On that walk, I realized I was angry at God. I was blaming Him for not moving things along faster for us.

This realization was actually a help in and of itself. It forced me to remember that He has perfect timing and that I must trust Him. In fact, that is the main message I managed to hear from Him yesterday during my walk: “Remember, I said to trust Me.”

I also must remember to be thankful for the time and experiences I do have with JC as well as for the other blessings in my life – including my apartment, a place of tranquility and light that I must respect and prevent darkness from overtaking. I just moved out of a place that was filled with negative energy. I sure don’t want that swirling around here.

Today, I made sure things were different. After my quiet time, I got up out of bed at a decent hour, made the bed, opened the blinds, made a real breakfast, attended church, did the dishes, did the laundry, and went for a walk without being forced to by JC. When I returned, I read more of the Bible. I even read Romans 8 out loud, though there was no one to hear. Putting His Word out into the air of my apartment surely can’t hurt.

Do I feel better today? Yes, very much so. But I know I have to be vigilant. Those dark thoughts from the enemy are always out there, trying to invade. We must capture and replace them.

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! . . . Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Philippians 4:4,7-8

A pathway through the wilderness

By Snow

In a span of 1 hour and 49 minutes on Monday, July 22, I lost my job, signed away my house, and saw my wife for probably the last time. It may sound like a bad country song, but I would more appropriately compare it to joyful praise music. I thank Jesus for these tremendous changes. I give my life to Him.

I had been at the same workplace for 11 years. To say that the environment had become toxic recently is an understatement. The last 17 months there in particular have been extremely difficult.

Two Fridays before I was fired, I went to my favorite park for a morning walk before work. Through the Holy Spirit, I felt God with me as I walked a path that I had never been down before. I thanked Him for my blessings as I cried happy tears. He revealed to me that morning that I would soon be fired.

Losing my job was a concern to me, as I was on the verge of signing a lease on an apartment as the sale of my house concluded.

“Should I hold off on the apartment? Find some other arrangement?”

No, He told me. I was to proceed with the apartment. I was to trust Him, for He would provide. There would be a severance package to get me by for awhile.

As I finished the “new” path, I noticed that I had actually passed it dozens of times in the past. It had been there all along. At work, I began to tie up loose ends and make sure I saw those I wanted to see.

I signed the lease that Sunday. The Wednesday before I was fired, I moved into my new place – my new life. With JC’s help, what was once an empty apartment has been transformed into a warm home, full of love. Full of Him. I am so grateful to her. I am blessed she is on this journey with me.

Credit: JC

On the Monday I was fired, I went to the park at lunchtime (at this point, I still had a job). At the park, I texted JC. Here are portions of our exchange:

Snow: I just hate that place so much now.
JC: You know you don’t belong there – it’s just where you are now.

Later, back at work.

Snow: It is so hard to breathe here.
JC: I love you.

While it is not unusual for JC to send me two or three verses a day, this particular Monday she was sending me one after another. Here is a sampling:

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”
Romans 8:38

“Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.”
Psalm 55:22

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”
Psalm 37:4

“Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.”
Psalm 27:14

“I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator and King. I am the LORD, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick. But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
Isaiah 43:15-19

Not long after reading God was about to do something new, I was called down to HR and told that I was terminated effective immediately. During the proceeding, I was calm. I was at peace. I thanked and shook hands with those who told me the news. As God had promised, there was indeed a severance package. I walked out with head held high, chatting with the security chief about how our lives are in His hands.

Within nine minutes of the phone call to come down to HR, I was at my car. I left work for the last time and drove back to the park. It seemed fitting.

JC, having just gone through a similar experience herself (we did, after all, pray for God to use a 4×4 on us), met me there.

We hugged. We prayed.

I soon had to leave, though, as I had to get to the closing on the sale of my house as part of separation and divorce proceedings with my spouse.

My main concern was finding the place and parking. There was only street parking available. While I have come a long way with overcoming anxiety when it comes to driving, parking is still a challenge to me. However, Jesus gave me a ridiculous amount of space to parallel park – not to mention stopping the traffic flow on an otherwise busy street so I could park without feeling like I was holding up everyone.

At the closing, my spouse was cold at best and on the verge of spitting on me at worst. I was peaceful, calm, and happy. Full of joy, actually. It took only 17 minutes to sign away the house I had lived in for 17 years – longer by far than any other. It, too, had become a toxic environment.

Spouse and I parted ways – likely not to see each other again, as attorneys will take care of the remaining details of undoing the mistake that was our marriage.

For King & Country has a powerful song called “Burn the Ships,” which we covered in a post last month. Ultimately, it is about letting go of the past in order to focus on the future.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I have at least three or four ships ablaze in the harbor. Now, two or three of them are ashes floating down into the depths of the sea.

Losing my job is a tremendous opportunity. First, He is providing me a rest. And then He will move me along to wherever He wants me next. Downsizing my life into an apartment is allowing me to focus on my spiritual journey, for I have so much to learn about Jesus, life, and myself. The ending of my marriage is freeing me to become who He created me to be.

Maybe I should be afraid, but I’m not.

I’m a child of God. I trust Him.

He’s got me.

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.

“Jesus replied, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'”
John 6:35