Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Motown Praise

This morning, as I was studying Ephesians 3:20-21 with the help of Priscilla Shirer, God showed me something pretty amazing.  I wanted to share it with y'all.

In her book, God is Able, Priscilla dissects every single word of the following verses...

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

In today's chapter "Totality" we focused on the word ALL. (That is why it is emphasized in the passage above.) ;-)

Priscilla writes,
Boy, I love that word. All. In fact, I took time to research it carefully in the original language of Scripture, trying to dredge up any more depths of meaning I could learn from it.  I wanted to wrap my head around exactly what was in Paul's mind when he penned his thoughts this way.  And I discovered a wide consensus of scholarly opinin that says the meaning of the word we translate as "all" in our Bibles is...
"All" means all.
God is able to do... it all.
I don't know about you, but this just makes me want to dance and shout!  As I read further in the chapter, I realized that that tiny, but super-powerful, word "all", is mentioned throughout Scripture... specifically in reference to what God can do, not just for, but IN and THROUGH me.

Here's another excerpt from the same chapter,
There is a  totality to God's ability.  It takes in all that concerns us.  "He forgives all your sin; He heals all your diseases" (Psalm 103:3).  He invites "all who are weary and "heavy-laden" to come and experience His refreshing rest (Matt. 11:28).  He says His lovingkindness "will follow me all the days of my life" (Ps. 23:6), which leaves me totally justified in trusting Him with all my heart, acknowledging Him in all my ways (Prov. 3:5-6), knowing that He is causing "all things to work together for good," for all the children He calls His own (Rom. 8:28).  When you "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness," God promises that all these things will be added to you" (Matt.6:33)---full provision, food and clothing, love and shelter, every need.
All of it.
He is able.

Being the girl who absolutely loves to worship my Jesus through song, I immediately thought of the hymn, "I Surrender All", and began to sing it quietly to myself...

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all.
I surrender all!
All to thee my Blessed Savior
I surrender ALL!!

But I didn't stop there.  As God often times does, He brought another song to mind.  (This is where the Motown part comes in.) As I was praying the words of that song, it changed... became a little more upbeat. 
A little more soulful.  All of a sudden, in my best Stevie Wonder voice, I began to sing...

Here I am Jesus!
Signed, sealed delivered, I'm yours!!!

Then other bits of this jammin' lyric began to flow out of my mouth... 

Like a fool I went and stayed too long

Now I'm wondering if your love's still strong...

Then that time I went and said goodbye
Now I'm back and not ashamed to cry...
Here I am Jesus!

Oh, you've got the future in your hand
(signed, sealed delivered, I'm yours)
I've done alot of foolish things...
That I really didn't mean...
And you know what?
I AM!!
...Signed (for) as Jesus has settled my debt.  Paid the price for my sin.
...Sealed for the day of redemption.
...Delivered from the power of sin, the sting of death, and the pit of hell!! 

Oh, my Sweet Peeps, if that doesn't make you want to boogie for Jesus, you need to check your pulse!!
Now if you'll excuse me.. I've got some serious rug to cut. 
Peace out, you jive turkeys!! ;-) 

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Somewhere In-Between

"Just let me get home, Lord.  Let me get out of this terrible place and home to my family.  I will be okay.  I promise."

That was my prayer for FIVE. STRAIGHT. DAYS.

Due to a horrible, life-threatening incident (brought upon by none else but YOURS TRULY) I had been placed in a medical facility to heal and recuperate.  I was scared out of my mind.  I wanted to go home. I wanted to "be okay".

But I wasn't.

After returning home, I slipped right back into dangerous and destructive patterns within just a matter of few weeks.  I was not thinking about the fact that the choices I was making were hurting me.  Hurting my family. Hurting my friends and loved ones. All I wanted was to "feel good" at that very moment.  No matter the consequence.

I did not create the storm.  No, this was a low-pressure system that Satan put in place about 3 years ago. But you better believe that I fed it.  My actions and thoughts and decisions were such that they were conducive to enabling the storm to grow.  In many ways they instigated the growth. From Tropical Depression (literally, a severe depression that lasted for months) all the way to a CAT 5 Hurricane.

A couple of weeks ago, "Hurricane Susanne" swept through 2121 Twin Bridge Drive and left massive destruction and devastation in her wake.

Once again, I had to leave.

Since that time, our state (South Carolina) has faced a Once-In-One-Thousand-Years weather event. Massive rainfall resulting in severe flooding. Widespread devastation. And is God is using this to mold me and shape me.  You see, He hasn't been able to get my FULL and UNDIVIDED attention for over a year and a half... He tried.  Wooing me. Gently correcting me.  Even saving my life!!!

Unfortunately, I was too blind to see. It has taken a GIANT OBJECT LESSON to teach this HARD HEAD a very valuable truth.  While the flood waters rose all around me, in a very literal sense, God also showed me that I have personally been stuck in an emotional flood of nasty, stinky, debris filled waters for far too long.

And if THAT wasn't enough, my Mom comes to me and says, "I have something to share with you.  Our Sunday School lesson this week is out of the book of Genesis.  It's dealing with Noah and the Flood." (That's what I said.  Noah.  Ark.  Flood. --- It's like Jesus was saying, " Hey, Susanne!! CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW??")

The lesson centered around the fact that Noah and his family stayed in the ark, for over a year, after the rain stopped falling.  Yes.  The storm was over.  But they had to wait for the waters to recede.  This is HUGE!! See, there have already been two times in the last several months that God has placed me in an "ark" of sorts. (That place I was describing at the beginning of this post, being one of them.) But here's the deal... I kept leaving that ark, that place of protection and safety, TOO SOON. I saw the rising water, the uprooted trees, the downed power lines, and all of the mess floating around me, but instead of resting in His arms, I ran away. I got out in the mess.  I played in it.  Dang, let's be real.  I threw a party.

When God placed me under conviction and correction for my behavior, I did not heed it.  Just like many people who were stuck in cars and trucks throughout our area during the Flood of 2015.  They did not not heed the warnings of state and local officials telling them to STAY INDOORS.  DO NOT GET OUT IN THIS MESS! Wait for the rains to stop and the waters to recede.  Wait for REPAIRS and PREPARATIONS TO BE MADE.  JUST BE STILL, hunker down, and WAIT!!

Well, peeps.  I've learned my lesson. There are severe consequences, broken promises, uprooted dreams, and damaged relationships floating all around me. Due to the horrible devastation of this terrible storm,  I have, once again,  been placed in an Ark. Where I can be safe.  Where I can be nourished.  Where I can heal. Not just me, but my husband and children, as well.

I am so ready to make a fresh start. I want so badly to go home and pretend, once again, that I am okay. That everything is okay.

But I'm not.

It isn't.

Not yet...

I need a FRESH START.... and THIS TIME I will wait as long as it takes.

"Fresh starts remind us that while past failures may be devastating, they do not have to defeat or define us. When we mess up we can't go back and undo what was done, but we can make a fresh start. Fresh starts often mean going through an interim period---one of those times of life when we find ourselves between what was and what may be. These in-between days offer us the opportunity to consider or reconsider what the future can look like. Noah and his family experienced more than a year's worth of in-between days when they lived in the dark with the animals..." (A quote from Mama's Sunday School Lesson.)

Right now, I am definitely in that 'in between" period.  God is working.  God is moving.  He has forgiven me for my sinful ways, and He is washing me in His Word, as I yield to it.  He is creating, in me, a clean heart, restoring the joy of my salvation, and renewing a right spirit within me (Psalm 51). Healing and restoration is taking place within my own life, as well as in the lives of those I have deeply wounded in the process. It is happening.  But there is still a lot of work to be done.  The troubled waters are receding, but it is not done yet.

In order to make a fresh start, I have to wait. I have to be still. I cant make a fresh start until all of the contaminated debris has been swept away. It will take time to make repairs and preparations. I will wait until he gives me the "all clear" that a fresh start is now possible.

Because that's what Jesus does...  He makes ALL THINGS NEW.

While I wait, I should pray fervently, (I humbly request that you join me in prayer) and allow God to show me what the future can look like... humbly submit myself to HIS will.  HIS plan.  HIS timing. HIS peace.

So that's what I'll do.  I'll wait.  Like Noah, I will wait....

Until God opens the door.

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