We have been hit by sickness this week … my special needs granddaughter came down with Strep and it’s been an all-hands-on-deck kind of weekend. Praise God she is feeling better today, even perking up enough to eat a bit of dinner tonight. But it’s been a busy past couple of days and … well, I didn’t have the time (or desire) to break out my laptop until just now.
So we go to Plan B.
And Plan B is to share from another’s blog post that touched my heart and complements the theme of “2018: A Year For Hope”. So without further adieu, please allow me to introduce you to “Beauty Beyond Bones“.
I was taken aback by my own daughters eating disorder in her teens. Through a wonderfully terrible beautiful collision of heartbreaking circumstances, I overheard her mentioning to a doctor that she had been throwing up her food after meals. How was this happening? How did I not know?
“I know that God’s standards are spiritual, but I have a corrupt nature, sold as a slave to sin. I don’t realize what I’m doing. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate.” Romans 7:14-15 (GWT)
Maybe you’re the mom, brother, sister or friend of someone with an eating disorder.
Maybe you are the one wrestling with these demons.
Or maybe the issue isn’t food, it’s something else. Another inner suffering.
“But if there’s one thing that shows, it’s that “desert periods” will occur in life. We will go through the desert. We will feel alone. And forgotten. Maybe inadequate. Possibly despairing. But our suffering doesn’t negate the Father’s love, as hard as that is to believe. And when we find ourselves in the middle of that desert, it’s even harder to believe that one day, we will ever be whole, or useful, or thriving again.” ~Beauty Beyond Bones
My world turned sideways that night, in more ways than one. And thus began our (hers and mine) journey back to honesty, forgiveness, acceptance and finally healing. But it was a process. And that’s just from my side of the fence … I’ll probably never really know how difficult the journey was from her side … I’m just grateful that she made it through.
Have you ever noticed that just about the time that the seas calm, the winds still, and the fog lifts … so that you can finally see the destination for which your eyes have been straining so hard to see … up comes another wave! Of course you have! We all have. Countless times.
The scenario usually plays out something like this:
He has a good job but it does little more than pay the bills each month. Six months ago, he had an unexpected medical bill and had to put it on a credit card. That really bothered him because after attending Financial Peace University at his church, he made a decision to operate his finances in a way that honors God and he is trying hard to stay out of debt. So he put in some overtime, cut back on the grocery budget, swapped lunches out for PB&J sandwiches in a brown paper bag, and just sent payment in full to the credit card company so that he’s no longer paying interest. He’s thrilled. He praises God. He feels on top of the world, and is back on track. Until he gets his tax returns back a finds out he underpaid by over $3000.
It happens all the time! In finances. In relationships. In health. In work. Why? Well at the risk of sounding like a 5-year old, I think it boils down to two simple factors:
We live in a broken world (one that does not operate according to God’s original design for it).
We have an enemy (who is always… ALWAYS… seeking to steal, kill and destroy).
Over the years, I’ve become more and more convinced that the devil only has a few game plans in his play book. Bearing in mind that the Word of God reveals the will of God, almost every situation we come across in life that contradicts the will of God for our lives can be bucketed into a few basic categories (objectives) of game play.
get us to doubt the Word (the Promise and instruction) of God.
get us so distracted (by enticements or troubles) that we don’t hold onto the Word of God
get us to disbelieve the Word of God, in whole or in part
The Word of God says that every need you have is met in the riches of Christ Jesus. That all the work of your hands has a blessing upon it, and that you are blessed at your job, in your bank accounts, in your family, in your health, and that you are blessed so much that you have enough extra to be generous with others. That’s the Promise of 1 Timothy 6:17, 2 Corinthians 9:6, Psalms 25:12-13, Proverbs 11:24-25, and many others!
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. Romans 10:17 (NIV)
But your check book says …. err … nope! You’re as broke as the Ten Commandments! You’re job is a dead end job, for all your efforts your savings account has less than $50 in it, and every time you make any headway at all, something comes along and completely rips the rug out from under your feet!!
And this is where things fall apart … at the intersection of FAITH and FACT.
FAITH says you’re rich, an co-heir with Christ Jesus of the cattle on a thousand hills.
The FACT is that you need to pay $3000 for income tax that you don’t have.
And when you find yourself at that intersection, it’s critical that you pause (often) to examine what you’re looking at. What your vision is focused on. And who’s voice your listening to!
Don’t go by what you see, but go by what you hear. Because what you hear (from the Scriptures) is what will determine whether or not you can overcome. ~ Jentezen Franklin
Are your eyes looking beyond the current situation (of lack) to the destination God has promised (abundance)?
Are your ears tuned to the Promises of God (who says He will lead and guide you through every circumstance to a victory that glorifies His Name), or are you focused on the cries of your empty bank accounts?
Are your eyes locked on the emerging manifestation of what you have been praying and believing for … or are you overwhelmed and thereby overtaken by a time-limited storm and unexpected wave?
Friend, God has good plans for your life! The devil doesn’t like it and he’s got a game plan and strategy to get you to distract you from, get you to doubt, or convince you to disbelieve the promises of God for your life … but God’s ways are higher and superior to the strategies of the enemy. Who’s voice are you going to listen to?
WAKE UP YOUR FAITH by listening to the following message by Jentezen Franklin. Give it a good shake-up, and then open your mouth and start telling your circumstances what God’s word has to say about them!
Here is a link to My daily confession written in 2014 when launching my business. That was a HUGE leap of faith, and I needed to make sure that my ears were finely tuned to the Promises of God more than the screams of my half-starved bank account. It’s scripture based, and I declare it over myself and my family on a regular basis.
Faith comes from hearing God’s Word for your life, and if you are not in the practice of speaking God’s Word over your circumstances, please take this and begin speaking it over yourself and your family on a daily basis. And tell me what happens! Because I guarantee you, if you hold fast to the Word of God … stuff will happen!!
I’m working on a new piece … to reflect Miss Hope’s arrival landside. Come back next week to watch the word-picture emerge.
Water Walking [“Once you are walking on the water, the depth of the water beneath your feet is irrelevant.”]
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.
I just met “C” outside of the computer store picking up my laptop from weekend repairs.
Dear “C” If you are reading this, I want you to know that everything below the dashed line was actually written by me last night on my cell phone. In light of our meeting, I believe it is no ‘coincidence’ that I had scheduled to reblog something written by The Abuse Expose with Secret Angel. I am sure you will find much on their website (and I hope by my own story, starting back in the 2014 blog posts) that will be of comfort to you as you are walking out your journey. I am going to continue to pray for you, and of course you now have my name and phone number. #GodIsBigger #TheDevilHasAlreadyLost #ThisDoesNotDefineYou
Alas, I am without my computer (in for maintenance) and so instead of trying to type out my writings on my phone (I assure you, that would not end well), I am sharing this lovely poem entitled “A Pure Heart”
With a shared passion for the abused and broken, I have been following The Abuse Expose’ with Secret Angel for several years. I highly encourage you to check out their blog.
So much of my life has been spent in fear and/or influenced by fear. Fear of danger (and for too many years as a child, there was good reason for that fear). Fear of rejection. Fear of shame. Fear of failure. Fear of the possibility of being alone, and later the fear that comes from actually being alone. And so on and so on.
I’ve written about it a lot in various blog posts (see side-bar for category “Fear Not). And while I’m not immune to fear -no one is- it has lost it’s stranglehold on me.
If you have been following with me through this current blog series, you know that in my last post I mentioned a feeling that the season of wobbliness and soul fatigue I’d been in was ending. My Bible reading plan currently has me wrapping up Deuteronomy, and imagery is forming in my spirit about venturing into lands of milk and honey.
But just like the 10 spies who saw giants in the land and counseled Moses not to go in to possess what God had promised, you and I can’t take possession of the things God has promised us if we are bound by fear.
And so before my writings take on the shape and colors of new things God is whispering to my heart, I would like to share (reblog) another excellent post entitled “Becoming Fearless” by Jennifer Arimborgo, Feeding On Jesus.
“I had a dream last night”, she said. “I came to see you and show you my beautiful perfume bottle. I couldn’t wait to show it to you … It was ornate and beautiful, and I was so very proud of it. And you were so happy for me, relishing in my joy over such a lovely treasure. Then you turned around and picked something up that was just outside my vision. And when you turned back, you were holding your own perfume bottle. It was so much larger than mine. So much prettier. I was humbled by the comparison, and while still rejoicing over mine, I couldn’t help but be in awe of the beauty of yours.”
“One of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. So He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down for supper. There, a woman of the city who was a sinner, when she learned that Jesus was sitting for supper in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment, and stood behind Him at His feet, weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” Luke 7:36-38 (MEV)
This may not be the exact wording the daughter-of-my-heart used when she called me last year to tell me of her dream, but it is a fair representation. Then she went on to explain she felt the perfume bottle represented the beauty of my love for and relationship with God. (She knows my history, and knows the hard-fought battles won and sacrifices I’ve made over the years to get to the place of freedom I enjoy today).
Her interpretation of the dream stuck around with me for a few weeks after our call. It sounded so beautiful, depicting a precious and intimate relationship with God, of the kind that is symbolized by an expensive perfume bottle. But in truth, I was in a spiritual frump and had been for months.
If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may recall that in May of 2014 I stepped into the world of entrepreneurship. Much of my writings in 2014 and 2015 had to do with what the Lord was teaching me through the process of “Water Walking”, and if you’ve not read that blog and the continuing story up through “Crossing Jordan” I encourage you to take a little time to do so. Anyways, the painting below was a word picture the Lord gave me while I was praying about leaving my job and starting out on my own; an image to capture those very first steps leaving dry ground and venturing out into the waters with God.
Water Walking [“Once you are walking on the water, the depth of the water beneath your feet is irrelevant.”]But by the time I got this call in 2017, I was far enough out that all I could see was dark inky ocean. No matter where I turned, all I saw was “more water”, and to be honest …. I was getting weary.
“Lord, isn’t there supposed to be a shoreline around here somewhere? I thought we were going TO someplace, not just hanging out in deep ocean spaces …. where I could drown at any moment, btw!”
Yes, I was feeling discouraged, and weary, and as I like to say … “wobbly”.
And the more I thought about her dream, and this lovely perfume bottle I supposedly had in my possession, another word picture began to form in my heart. But in this one, Miss. Hope was no longer ‘water walking’ but was now kneeling in deep inky waters. Her head is bowed. Her arms are raised. And in her hands, she lifts the offering of an uncorked perfume bottle. Spent of all her own abilities and powers, she has come to the point of emptiness and with each new rush of wind blowing across the waters, the fragrance of her surrendered heart rises like the offering it is.
“And I’ve come to pour
My praise on Him like oil
From Mary’s Alabaster Box
Don’t be angry if I wash His feet with my tears
And I dry them with my hair
You weren’t there the night He found me
You did not feel what I felt
When He wrapped His loving arms around me
And you don’t know the cost of the oil
You don’t know the cost of my praise
You don’t know the cost of the oil
In my Alabaster box”
I have tried to paint this word picture at least seven times since that phone call, but I have never been satisfied … deeply, internally, and spiritually satisfied with my efforts until last week, March 15th. I woke that morning at 1:30 am and when I couldn’t get back to sleep, I decided to try again to capture what was in my heart. And this time, the Holy Spirit painted with me.
Personally, I think the Lord let me finish it now because it’s time to move on. I followed where He lead me, even out into deep water with wild and boisterous winds. He has received my sacrifice of praise and tears. And now, praise God almighty, we are moving to the shoreline!!
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, hurray for you and Miss Hope. But I’m still stuck out here in a leaky lifeboat, in the middle of nowhere, at midnight, during a full-blown squall! How is your finally heading off to the shoreline supposed to be an encouragement for me?”
I’m glad you asked.
When I began praying in December 2017 about the subject of a 2018 blog series, I felt impressed to write in response to the desperate need I saw (in my own life as well as in the world all around me) for a focus on hope.
Yes, we need more kindness in the world! Yes, we need more “positivity” and less fear! But that’s not the kind of HOPE I’m talking about.
What we need, and the only thing capable of effecting real change in this world, is Bible-HOPE in the goodness and willingness of God Himself to enter into the broken areas of our lives and bring about deliverance, healing, and change! Thus, what I’m calling for in my own life and hope to inspire in the lives of those who are willing to read this blog is a dedication to daily (throughout 2018 and beyond) putting our focus on the Author of HOPE, His character of lovingkindness and faithfulness, and His word as contained in Scripture.
For those of you who are in a leaky lifeboat … there is Bible-HOPE in the Word of God for you!
Maybe you can relate to my imagery of being out in deep waters with no shoreline in sight… there is Bible-HOPE in the Word of God for you!
Or perhaps the storms of life have been beating at you long and hard, even to the point that your boat is on the verge of sinking … there is Bible-HOPE in the Word of God for you!
This is what we need, my friends! We need to go to the Word of God daily, find the promises that relate to our current needs, and take hold of them as though our very lives depended upon them!
This is what it looks like to put your FAITH in the HOPE of God, and this is the kind of FAITH that God will always honor!! Maybe not in the time frame we want it … God’s timing is not our timing. But His timing is perfect timing, for He alone can see how all things are ultimately fitting together for the glory of His name as well as our long-term benefit.
I’ve got a new word picture forming in my heart for a new season of Bible-HOPE in the promises of God! I hope you will continue to journey with me, for there is much to do and much ahead for us who will dare to put our confidence and trust in Him.
When was the last time you uncorked your alabaster jar and surrendered up the fragrance of its contents? I’d love to hear your story, past or current.
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.
I'm on a journey to better understand the intertwining of FAITH & HOPE.