Rollercoasters and Sharks

I know that this first photo makes us laugh, and it should, but I want to share just how terrifyingly accurate it can feel. Unlike my sons, I loathe roller coasters. And almost any analogy I think of for a faith walk sounds terrible. If it’s walking on water, I can’t swim. If it’s a marathon, running hurts. There are times when I can summon the courage for 15 minutes to write about God’s faithfulness, but much of the rest of the day I feel like that boy on the ride and I’m internally yelling, “Lemmeoff! Lemmeoff! Lemmeoff!” The ride ends, a new day begins, and it happens all over again. Lately I have been feeling the physical effects of a spiritual battle. I have no other explanation for the weight and fatigue and pain. Yesterday, however, I realized more of what is happening. I have felt like this has been a fight for provision, but that’s wrong. It took me arguing with a man about a quarter at a gas station to start to see it. He was upset that I was helping a lady put air in her tire because that was his hustle. He wanted a quarter toward buying a beer. Get outta here. I didn’t want to give up a quarter because I was gripping on to what little I had so tightly and I was tired of giving. Truthfully, we both wanted a quarter so badly because neither of us could see a way to make it otherwise. The question the Apostles asked Jesus about the blind man resurfaced: “Why is this person this way?”

For God’s glory.

That’s it.

I have felt as if I was fighting for provision, but that’s wrong. It has been a spiritual battle for vision – where are my eyes? I have been digging my heels in on the waves saying, “Nonononono…” as the water continues to crash over me. I have heard the cries from the shore of, “Don’t do it! That’s crazy!” And it’s terrifying. Maybe it was because of the people praying for me, maybe it was listening to worship music for 9 hours straight while I worked, but I did not feel the physical effects last night. I felt a bit more like the second image here. Jesus reminded me that he controls the waves. But even still…

I can talk about anything that I write, but it does not work the same way in reverse. I have times when words won’t come out. On Friday morning when I took my oldest son in for x-rays, I didn’t know how my other two sons would get to school. I clammed up. My son reminded me of my uncle’s offer to help from even before the school year. My son called him and he was glad to help. Yesterday I was speaking with my mother over the phone and internally I was trying to form the words that I need help for provision, but I couldn’t. It was Mother’s Day, they have already done so much, maybe I should have…and the words fell into the waves.

The problem with testimonies of faith, with authentic worship, with the Gospel, is that it shows you the truth of what’s possible. It looks terrifying and it by no means feels safe. But it is secure. The battle was for vision, and I’m trying to keep my eyes on Christ and not the waves. God always provides for the work He wants to accomplish. Whether I help someone or not will not end all of the brokenness in this world.

At one time I was the person who saw with spiritual eyes only, “Let me pray for you” and I would move on. I came to understand that there are physical needs as well, and I have given until it hurts. I see a new season for me, and it includes both – able to meet a physical need but also being like the Apostles to the blind man and seeing that there is more than a need for a little change.

I am writing this because of the power of words and the power of testimony. I trust God to accomplish the provision while I focus on maintaining the right vision. I love all that I do when I have helped people; I know it is not wrong to do as I have. It’s an honor to be trusted with someone’s most difficult struggles. I have asked for the Spirit to move in a way beyond my imagination as I stop digging in my heels and jump in the canoe. It may sound silly but I’m going to show you what I saw in just a short amount of time. Last night someone asked me if I could pick up a bag of chips. While I was working, I used my rewards points to purchase some food for myself. When I did that, I was given a coupon for a free bag of chips. When I selected that bag of chips for the person who asked, a quarter fell off from the shelf. I had eaten, the other person would eat, and I gained a quarter. Sounds silly, I know, but I see when God moves. This morning I was starting to make breakfast and I discovered a pan of steak and chicken and potatoes that did not come from this house. Even if there is (and was) a reasonable explanation for it, I didn’t see it coming.

I’m asking for the Spirit to move and I know that He will. I wasn’t in a battle just to reach a timeout, it was for a particular victory. The Spirit will move on my behalf and intercede for me when all I can do is groan. I have imagined some of the possibilities of how the Spirit will move and most of them sound just crazy enough to be possible. I have imagined some of the things that the Spirit may say to you in your life and all I can say is, “Listen.” There are some of you who need to hear that it’s okay to take the next step. If that’s you, I’m saying, “Yes! Do it! Get on this wild ride!” There are many of you who have been testimonies of faith in my life, and to you I say, “Thank you for being in the great cloud of witnesses for me – but seriously a warning would have been nice.” However the Spirit moves, I will submit and obey. If the Spirit is moving for you, please do the same. Fight with vision and trust God to supply all that you need.

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I just need U – Part 1

TobyMac writes some catchy songs – almost too catchy. I never enjoy them for very long because once he drops a good, new song, the local radio stations play it over and over and over and…very soon I’m done it. His song I just need U, however, is one that I need and can enjoy right now.

I’m mostly hanging on to the catchy cry, “Lord, I need you,” because I sure do. I’ve written about Sister Edith from Honduras a number of times, and it has been almost spooky to see how her testimony of faith has played out in ways for me as well. Edith heard a call to do more than teach in the Catholic schools. She went home, against the advice of all of her friends and family. And she waited. And prayed. There were knocks on the door and she said “Yes” to caring for children that families could not otherwise care for. God never overwhelmed her but he sure did stretch her. I think of the verse in Luke 6: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (verse 10a).

I’m learning more and more the truth of how God works, specifically why we have to wait to see the big picture. If God showed us all of what He will do, I firmly believe that most of us would run for the hills (and that may be exactly where He wants us). But God asks for a “yes,” honors our faithfulness with His, and repeats the process. When I met Edith, she was living in an abandoned school building that the city had given her. On any given day, there were 12-15 children living with her. Every. Day. Completely dependent on God. And God was continually faithful. She didn’t work but a few of the older children would go into the city to sell some food from the garden or find other ways to earn a little income.

Around the time that I was preparing for my first trip to Honduras, I said “yes” to a friend of mine who needed a place to stay. By the time I was ready to travel back two months later, I was ready to say “yes” to a child of 17 who had no home. Life has been a whirlwind ever since, leading me to repeating (often), “Lord, I need you.” I’ve lost track of all of those who have stayed under the roof I have. It’s rarely easy, and i have yet to see the big picture. This week, especially, has felt particularly heavy.

I don’t always write things because I want to share them. Mostly I write to clear my mind of the thought and because of the principle of testimony. Declaring what God has done in my life creates the opportunity for Him to do it again, either in my life or the life of someone else. It never fails. When I began sharing messages in the role of chaplain, the words always came back to me in some shape or form. Words have life, and words have power.

Take yesterday for example. I had thumbed out a post about Edith and faith and before the end of the day I had more virtual knocks. I’m feeling overwhelmed. God is faithful, always, but I keep wanting to know the big picture. Over the past year I have said “yes” to people who needed a place to stay. I have no other explanation for the timing and the provision but God. I have never asked anyone to leave, and, at appointed times they have moved on. And someone else knocks. And I say “yes.”

If God wanted to remind me that I don’t have this all figured out, He did. Maybe it’s that I started to think I could handle this. I can’t. Through a flaw in the family court system, I’ve been paying child support for my sons who have not lived anywhere else in over two years. I have fought and failed in court and now have to wait. So, for employment I have worked 50-plus long and exhausting hours each week, only to bring home enough for food and gas. My home just came out of foreclosure status this week (again) because of the generosity of my family. There is a shut off notice for the gas and for the water. There are other bills peeking right around the corner. And all I can do is say, “Lord, I need you.”

I don’t know what my paycheck will look like from week to week because of the variability of hours and gross sales. I had this wild hope that somehow this week there would accidentally be some extra zeroes attached. Nope. It was much less than the week before. I nearly crumbled. God is faithful, even when I’m not. God is good, even when I’m not. And God provides when I cannot.

I have been sharing more openly on Facebook so that people have an opportunity to watch God work. It’s hard though. If I don’t share, I feel like I should. When I do share, I feel like I shouldn’t. And I take arrows from people who say I’m doing it all wrong. Frankly, I am more of Job’s friends to myself than anyone else is. “You must have done…” or “You need to stop and repent…” and the questions keep on coming. But if this is from God, He will provide. He is faithful. He must supply what is needed for the advancement of His Kingdom. There is no other option.

So my whole point in all of this boils down to a very simple, “Lord, I need you. Please remove what is not from you or of you so that all which remains is your will. And Lord, I trust that you will provide perfectly and fully for every need that arises. Amen.”