A Journey of Faith

Sunday, November 25, 2012


"Many Christians are prisoners of fears that are nothing when pushed up
against. Satan can do nothing against a son of God, but he loves to put
barriers of paper mache in the path of a believer to make him think he is
This was part of a sermon I read online. The writer told a story about a jail that was being excavated. The door was strong, reinforced, impenetrable  But the walls were merely paper made to look like strong iron. The prisoners could have simply pushed against the walls and escaped their prison.
And we are no better. We let satan put us in prisons of fear and doubt. Of things like depression and anxiety, sin and disobedience... simply because we believe his lies that we are incapable of escape. And every lie we believe clicks the lock closed on our personal prisons...
He whispers to us..."you are too weak, too unqualified" and we believe him and decline to serve. click
He pokes us..."you are worthless, life is overwhelming" and we believe him and sink deeper into the pit of despair. click
He points out our every flaw..."GOD can never use you, you disgusting sinner you" and we believe him and stay in our comfortable little boxes, never realizing that that there are amazing opportunities to serve HIM. That to serve HIM in ways we never dreamed we could will make our faith grow stronger and bigger than we ever imagined it could. click

Every time we allow ourselves to be stuffed into that prison, every time we choose to believe the lies of the evil one, we pull away from GOD just a little bit more.  Thankfully, HE will follow us whenever we stray from HIS truth. Like that wonderful shepherd that HE is, HE will follow us... lost little sheep that we are... to bring us back. To let us follow HIS fingerprints back to the safety of HIS fold.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Owning It

I went to a conference this past weekend for church. While there I was blessed to attend a number of great workshops and worship sessions. One thing that has stuck with me is the keynote speech from Friday. The speaker talked a little about his past, about the trials that he had faced growing up. Then he talked about how we all have things in our past that have shaped us, that are maybe difficult, and that we may still struggle with. Then he said something that has gotten my brain spinning. He said that we need to own our story. Own it, and accept it, and share it.
Now, I have had struggles in my past. Nothing earth shattering. No one thing that could be seen as huge flood of trauma that threatened to wash me away. No, my struggles were more of a constant rain of things that have added up over the years to become a tsunami of difficulty that came to be a flood of anxiety and depression over the last year and few months. The speaker went on to say that we should be willing to share these things, and how GOD has worked in them and thru them to shape us, and heal us, and grow us. And that if we do share, we are showing others a part of GOD's character that they may not have seen if not thru us.
I have seen His character... and His fingerprints... everywhere this year. Everywhere. In the sermon that spoke to me about the very thing I was struggling with. In the mid week devotion that rebuked me for my spiritual temper tantrum even while reassuring me that my God was always there for me, even in my disobedience. And the one that helped me see His call in my life. In the words of a friend that were just what I needed to hear in the middle of an especially dark day. In the words of a song, or a prayer, or an email that was like a balm to my sore heart. HE has shown me so clearly that HE is a God of love and mercy and grace, that HE cares so much for His children that He would bend down from His throne to place His fingerprints just where they were needed.
Some of His fingerprints I know were there just for me, like the time I was at an especially difficult appointment.See I have this friend who, when she can tell that I am really struggling, will look at me with this silly look and say "Cheeeese..." in a silly way that always makes me smile. On this day I was really fighting the anxiety, and while sitting in the waiting room I happened to look over at a bookshelf. Sitting on the shelf was a book titled "Who Moved My Cheese". I started to giggle, picturing my friend and her silly grin. GOD knew that that would make me smile and reduce my anxiety. He made sure that book was just where I would see it at the moment I most needed to be lifted up. It may seem like a little thing, but to me on that day it was what I needed to survive what was a real challenge to my spirit. He knew that and gave me a glimpse of His character.
He amazes me. His character humbles me. His love and mercy sustain me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Approved. Unanimously.

The vote was unanimous. I wasn't expecting that. I figured a few of the people on the committee would approve me, but I was fully expecting that I would be told that while they recognized my call and supported me, that I had a lot of work to do before they were willing to approve me. But they all voted yes. wow. WOW. I am going to be a pastor. I am going to serve GOD.
It is sobering.
 Not in a scary, what am I thinking, way. But in a wow, all these people are behind me, and what a huge privilege and responsibility. In a 'there's no turning back', only forward way.
Am I up for the challenge?
 I lay awake last night, replaying the meeting. I was sure at the time that my answers sounded weak and unintelligent. That I didn't really answer some of them, and that the ones I did were just too vague. When they brought me back in and the chairman started by saying the vote was unanimous... and then paused (how is it that that little pause... probably only in reality a second or two... seemed to stretch on for an hour???) I was bracing myself to hear that I had a lot to work on, and would I please come back in a year or so to ask for approval again. I even had ready what I would say... something along the lines of 'thank you, and I will work on these things, and I will see you in a year' or something like that. When he said that they had voted to approve me, I almost cried. These ten people all agreed that I am pastor material. I guess it surprised me because I am still trying to figure out how it is that so many people see it in me, when I still don't. I just figure GOD has His work cut out for Him, making me strong and giving me the skills and knowledge I need to do what HE wants me to do.
I was asked what I look forward to most as a pastor. I answered service. The other parts are exciting too. I like the planning parts, and the learning... there is so much I don't know that I want to. I am learning more about how the church works and feel more comfortable with the idea of being in the role of administrator. But when I think of serving a church, it's the serving... the showing up and getting stuff done, the going out and being the hands and feet of JESUS, the hands on working of being HIS disciple, that is what I am looking forward to, what fills my heart.
The only other question that stuck with me was when I was asked how it is with my soul. That one made me pause. I struggled for a minute how to answer it. There were a number of people on the committee that know what I have gone thru the past 14 months, well, they know a part of it. So I know why she asked that, but I wasn't prepared to answer in a way that didn't share too much. What I wanted to say was that I know what Paul meant when he said that he had learned to be content no matter what the circumstances. That I knew, because of the struggles I went thru, that no matter what is going on around me or even in me, GOD has me so tight in the palm of HIS hand that I am safe. That even if I don't have the spiritual or mental or physical strength to survive, HE will hold onto me until I do. Until I remember that HE is offering all the strength I need, I just have to humble myself and accept it. I wanted to say that my soul recognizes all the fingerprints GOD has left for me to find in my life this year, and that those fingerprints have been uplifting, and convicting, and healing, and humbling. That I am constantly amazed at how much my GOD loves me, that HE would take the time to send me 'love notes' in the form of a devotion, or a sermon, or a comment from a friend (or stranger for that matter!)or even something as little as a title of a well placed book. That how can I not be 'well in my soul' when I have a GOD who sees my trials and gives me glimpses of HIS love and grace and mercy (and how can I not be amazed knowing that those glimpses are just a tiny piece of HIS power and grace!). And that I am blown away at how often HE comes to me in the middle of pain and darkness to remind me that I am HIS beloved child and HE has an amazing plan for me. I wanted to say all that, but I didn't, couldn't. I was afraid if I tried to articulate it I wouldn't do the thoughts justice.There is so much more I could have said, but how do you put into words what HIS love has done in your heart and soul, it is just too big and too powerful to assign words to it. I don't think I could.
So now I have approval from PPRC. Now I have to get the approval of the church. I am nervous about that, probably more nervous than I was about last night. But I am also calm about it. Terrified but not worried. I know that it will happen when GOD wants it to, that my timing isn't the important thing. I have decided to just take it one step at a time, not to think beyond the next step unless I have to.
Unanimous. Wow.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Annointed... and Hungry

An amazing thing happened to me this week. Are you ready for it? Are you ready to hear the amazing thing that happened...it will knock your socks off... I promise!!!

I was hungry.

Yep, that was the amazing thing that happened to me this week. Right about now you are probably thinking...'um, ok. I get hungry all the time...what on earth can possibly be so amazing about that (maybe she has finally lost it???)' Nope... it really is amazing. Let me explain.

The last year or so has been a very challenging time for me. I have struggled most of my life with depression, every so often I would have a few days, or weeks that I was just really depressed. I would get over it fairly quickly. But for some reason, this past year has really been mostly a blur of depression and anxiety that I just couldn't shake. For me, one of the main ways the depression manifests is a significant loss of appetite. I don't feel hungry, and food holds no interest... so I don't eat. Not really a problem if you are talking a few days or even a week or two. But when the time stretches to over a year... then you have a problem. Since the depression grabbed ahold of me last fall I have lost 40 pounds... not a great thing when you are already on the slender side. Needless to say, it was beginning to become a real concern.

Then I went to church last Sunday.

I need to preface this by saying that our church has been blessed with a pastor who has the gift of discernment. When the HOLY SPIRIT nudges her, she listens and acts. It is a gift that has blessed not just me personally, but our whole church. I am so thankful for that gift!

So the sermon that she preached on Sunday was about healing. At the end of the sermon she invited anyone who wanted to, to come to the altar and be annointed for healing and have hands laid on them. So I went. To be perfectly honest, I don't know that I expected much. I figured that it couldn't hurt, but my hopes weren't really that high. After all, I had been prayed over, with, and for many many times over the last year plus, and things hadn't really changed very much.

I underestimated GOD's power. and HIS love. and HIS grace.

After church I was talking to Pastor about the annointing and she said something that really got my mind spinning (not that that ever happens...). She said that now nothing mattered... meaning, I assume, that none of the struggles that I have had are important, they can't hold me anymore.

She was right.

On the way home so much was going thru my mind...
  ...depression has no right to hold me... I have been annointed
   ...anxiety has no right to hold me.... I have been annointed
   ...anything that hurt me in the past has no right to hold me.... I have been annointed
and so it went, with all the things that have dragged me down being added to the list of things that have no right to hold me. It was freeing, and healing.

Then I realized that I was hungry. Not 'I guess I had better eat something, because it's, you know, biologically necessary' but 'I can't wait to get home... I am starving... and I can't wait to eat! And why are we going so slow?!?!?!?!'. It was the first time in a year that I was hungry and wanted to eat!

And I feel like me. Not a shadow of me that is struggling to function, afraid someone will see that I am in the midst of a struggle with this monster called depression, worried that something will happen to bring me down again. No, I feel like me. Strong and capable and ready to finish off that monster.

Because now I know I will win... I have been annointed....

My amazing, powerful GOD... Thank you doesn't cover it. I don't even have words to express what awe I have at Your power and grace. Just when I think that I get it, that I see how You work... You surprise me and humble me. Thank You for Your healing touch. For the leading of Your Holy Spirit... for a pastor who listens and obeys...for her godly influence and compassion and patience.  For opening my heart and mind to the power of Your healing. And especially for never ever leaving my side. You are Amazing!!! In JESUS' name... Amen.