Friday, February 11, 2011

Milk and Honey

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character,
And HOPE does not disappoint us..."
Romans 5:3-5

As I prepare for Hope's first birthday party, I am overwhelmed with God's faithfulness. As most of you know, I was sick for YEARS and in a very long valley of survival. Survival of faith. Looking toward heaven and declaring, "You promised the abundant life and this ISN'T IT." I got so weary during those years. I wondered if I would ever laugh again.
I went back in my blog to read some of my writings from the wilderness... It was so good for me to "remember" those days even though I would rather not. God commands us to remember His kindness and faithfulness and to never forget where we came from.
Click here to read a post about the wilderness I wrote in February of 2009.
Click here to read a post I wrote weeks before I became pregnant with Hope and God healed me.

The weight of those days felt unbearable,
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed...

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Cor 4

I continued to press into Christ and His Word and prayer. I continued to ask for healing and more children. I remember seeing "normal" people doing "normal" things and get SO mad at them. LOL. The poor golfers that putt behind my house were usually the ones I would be most frustrated with. :) They seemed to have the easiest life in the world while I was sick inside wondering if I would be able to raise my children or know life without chronic pain. Didn't seem fair. And what about my non-Christian friends who were healthy and happy? The enemy loved to challenge God's love for me. "How could God really love you and let you suffer for so long?".

I don't like to remember those days and rarely do. It is too painful. But, what I LOVE to remember is God's nearness to me during those dark days. Teaching me His Word and proving His love--- IN THE DARKNESS.

My life is very different now. That season FINALLY ended. I want to encourage anyone out there who is in a LONG VALLEY that it will end. Either here on earth or in the presence of Jesus Christ at the sound of the trumpet (if you have received Him as your Savior from your sins).
I know how hard it is to take one more step when you are spiritually and physically exhausted from years in the wilderness.
God allows our paths to head STRAIGHT into the wilderness. Why? To show us His Glory. To teach us His Word. To draw us close to Him. To show us FAVOR.
I know it doesn't feel like favor.

I know it doesn't feel like favor to be single when your friends are getting married. Or to be unable to have children when all of your girlfriends are pregnant. Or when everyone else's marriage is thriving while yours crumbles.
God is summoning YOU to His throne room BY NAME?
To give to you- not take.
To pour His love into your life in such a magnificent way that your cup truly begins to overflow. "The secret place" is spoken of in Scripture as a very mysterious place. And it is mysterious. The way into this secret place is different for all. But the way out is always the same...
It is an unknown world that only the most loved are invited to. I know this can feel impossible but what if you looked at your trial as a golden-sealed invitation into the secret place of the King of Kings!
A place where you are given eternal gifts! And when you leave this place you will be changed... because you have been in the presence of God Himself.
You will be RADIANT!
"When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD."
Ex 34:29
"Those who look to him are radiant" Ps 34:5

"The secret place" can feel so lonely because you can't take anyone with you but YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You are in the very presence of Jesus Christ. He draws near to the broken-hearted and downcast. He is compassionate. He sees your every tear. One of my favorite verses in the Bible...
"When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry."
Luke 7:13
Your RSVP to this royal invitation into "The Secret Place" is critical. You can respond, "No" and allow your heart to become hardened by trial. Or you can respond "No" and try to take an alternate route through the wilderness... alone (I wouldn't suggest this- I've tried it). You can respond "No" due to shame or guilt that has caused you to doubt that God would want to personally invite you anywhere.
If only you knew His love for YOU knowing fully where you have been and what you have done.
Yes, YOU.
He STILL loves you.
"Of all the people on earth, the LORD your God has chosen YOU to be his own special treasure." Deut 7:6
"he rescued me because he DELIGHTED in me."
Ps 18:19
"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
Zeph 3:17

Or you can RSVP "yes" and fall on your face in the presence of The King-- offering yourself and your brokenness completely to Him. Choosing to praise and serve Him- no matter the cost. To lay it all down at the feet of your King and ask Him to use it for His glory.
"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights."
Hab 3:17-19
Then, begin to receive all the riches and treasures He has for you. You can leave the secret place empty handed and unchanged OR you can see with spiritual eyes what is really happening in your trial and begin to receive treasures and riches.
I truly believe if you are being summoned by name into the secret place, God is declaring His favor in your life.
He wants you close to Him because He desires to do GREAT things in your life.
If you want to be used by God, suffering is unavoidable.
We must suffer in order to have true fellowship with Jesus Christ.

"I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name."
Is 45:3
"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings..."
Phil 3:10
Did you know that the word for "fellowship" in the Greek means
to share
joint participation
This is the type of fellowship we can have during suffering--
Jesus is so close to you. And He wants to share with you.
What do we have to share with Jesus Christ?
We cast our cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7)and He shares every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm with us (Eph 1:3)!
Look carefully into the following words and understand what you give and what He gives in return...

" give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified."
Isaiah 61:3
You give: ashes, mourning, spirit of heaviness.
He gives: beauty, joy, praise, righteousness.
That is the type of sharing that happens during suffering.
Now, I know you are thinking... I am glad God healed her and her trial is over but there is no light at the end of my tunnel. She doesn't understand how hopeless my situation is. There is NO WAY OUT.
That is EXACTLY what I used to think.
I am not promising you a life free from pain but I will promise you God is leading you to a land flowing with milk and honey.
I don't know what that land is for you... but He does.
He has it all mapped out.
"Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you."
Deut 6:3
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"
1 Cor 2:9

God has so many amazing gifts for you. I could have never fathomed ALL God was doing during my wilderness experience. I felt abandoned. I felt hopeless. Hopelessness gripped me as soon as my eyes opened in the morning and didn't let go until I fell back asleep. BUT, I was determined to cling to the Lord with all of my might.
Similar to Jacob, I wrestled...
"I will not let you go unless you bless me." Gen 32:26
I want to encourage you to not lose Hope. God is at work behind the scenes and He is able to turn your tears into dancing.
"You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever."
Ps 30:10-12
We are having a big dance party for Hope's birthday celebration. Live Worship and then dancing the night away to 80's music. I can't wait. I am overwhelmed with thankfulness to my God.
He is faithful.
Did you hear me?
He has riches and treasures for you.
Never stop believing that God is good and that He is able.
The enemy will specifically lie to you about these two truths.
"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."
Eph 3:20,21
Hope is such a gift to me and (for a reason I will not know until heaven) I HAD to go to the secret place to get her. She is my favorite of all the riches and treasures He gave me during those years. She brings me so much joy. She teaches me how to worship as her little hand goes up as soon as she hears music anywhere. I call her my "milk and honey". She has made something inside of me come to life.
She has also made something inside of Tim's credit card come to life. LOL!
Thanks to things **like** this...
Sigh... I haven't bought that but I want to.
I did just buy her a bathing suit.
I love leg warmers.
I love ruffles.
I love pink.
"Taste and see that the Lord IS GOOD; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."
Ps 34:8
I love HER and the gift she is to me.
I am soaking in every second of this season.
"O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me."
Psalm 30:2

Thank you, Jesus.
From the bottom of my heart, Thank You.
Thank you for inviting me into the Secret Place.
May those you are summoning by name, respond YES...
Give them faith in the darkness.
Give them courage instead of fear.
Give them endurance instead of weariness.
Protect them by the power of Your Name.
Guide them by Your Spirit and by Your Word.
Give them eyes to see and ears to hear.
Give them riches and treasures.
Give them VICTORY.
Give them the land flowing with milk and honey.
To YOU and YOU alone be the glory.


Erin Southwell said...

Beautiful. I am celebrating with you in spirit ;) Happy birthday sweet Hope!!

Lydia Boaz said...

Steph, that was an amazing explanation of God's love for us as we go through trials. I needed it. Thanks. I have asked Liza how you were and she said great, but somehow I missed the fact that you are healed. Praise God! It is pretty obvious to anyone who has ever read your blogs that God used that time in your life to turn you into the most Godly woman I know. I am so proud of you! Happy Birthday to Hope. Yall have a great time partying.,,Lydia

Anonymous said...

These words, they were written for me....rejoicing for you, for all He has done~your Hope is precious!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written! Hope is precious! Thank you for sharing - you write wonderful blogs and I love reading them. Wishing you and your beautiful family love and happiness always!


B said...

I really needed to hear this, thank you!

Happy Birthday to Hope :)

Shelley in CO said...

A friend sent this to me as an encouragement. As I watch my daughter begin her journey into His Secret Place, just as he calls me, as her mom, into my Secret place with Him, I'm constantly reminded of His power! Thank you for speaking to me, today. I will pass this on to my daughter soon!