Thursday, April 30, 2020

Valley of Trouble Transformed into Door of Hope

It was only weeks ago that I was at Disney World celebrating my daughter's 10th birthday. We laughed and danced and savored every minute. It was more fun than I have had in a long time. 

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At one point, as I was dancing and laughing at the Magic Kingdom, I felt like the Lord spoke to my heart to "prepare" for what was ahead. I tucked that fleeting thought into my heart and kept having the time of my life. God saw what was right around the corner. He knew what was about to crash into our happy world. And I'm sure His heart hurt. If Jesus cried as a man, and we are made in God's image... then you have to wonder if God cries. 

In a matter of weeks, Tim would lose his ability to work as a dentist. Our second income (rental house in Florida) would be shut down as the beaches are closed by the government. We would begin living in a world of fear, masks, isolation, and me trying to make sure I can feed our large family. I think I was living on adrenaline for the first 2 weeks. 

My 2 year old got a 100 degree fever so I had to quarantine her within our quarantine. Just me and her as I wonder if she has IT. 
 Would she die? Would I die? 

While I was quarantined with Belle, a tornado comes raging through Chattanooga. At almost midnight, I had to scoop children out of bed and cram us all into a tiny pantry with a mattress as we prayed. The tornado did not hit us but it did hit our friends and cause some of the saddest destruction I have ever seen. 

We certainly weren't at Magic Kingdom anymore. Meanwhile, Tim is trying to figure out what his new normal looks like. He can't work for an undetermined amount of time. He is the provider for 10 people. Who could have ever dreamed that dentists and beaches would both be CLOSED? We are now living what feels like a weird end-times movie that certainly isn't believable. I grieve that my children have been exposed to so much scary stuff at such a young age. I try to "shelter" them as much as I can. 

Stress is high in our home as I am battling fear and worry. The teenagers just lost their ability to do ANYTHING with ANYBODY. My little ones are stir crazy (2 and 3 year olds are not built for being stuck inside for months!). There are a lot of apologies happening in our home these days. We are all doing our best to respond to an ever-changing scary situation.

God is purifying us through it though. We are all uncomfortable. We are squirming like LIVING sacrifices as God changes us through this trial. 
 The dross of our ugly ole flesh is surfacing. But as we give God control to USE this for good, and purify us, He gently wipes our dross away...
leaving us stronger and more vibrant. 

"I have refined you, but not as silver is refined.

Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering."

Is 48:10

"For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver."
Ps 66:10
The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
But the LORD tests the hearts.
Prov 17:3

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. 
Mal 3:2

This refinement through trials is not a fun process but it is "necessary" in the lives of believers.

"In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, 
IF NECESSARY, you have been grieved by various trials"
1 Peter 1:6

Tim and I have gone through our share of HARD. I think the Christian life can (in some ways) is harder than the non-Christian. Because of the warfare and because of engaging in other people's lives in an intentional way. It would be a lot "easier"  to be sitting in a recliner watching reality TV or doing whatever we wanted to do rather than actively being engaged in a war. People who live for themselves and are "checked out" to others' problems  never even know there is a war in the spiritual realm. 
But that isn't what God has called us to. Even stuck in our houses, we are still engaged in battle. We can war in prayer and by digging into the Word in order to hear God's voice about which direction to go in this dark wilderness.
We can still call people and tell them we love them and we can pray for them. I tried to call 5 people everyday for the first few weeks of this. It blessed me to reach OUT.

God promises to use all things together for good for who?


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If you love God, that promise is FOR YOU! What the enemy intends for evil (and the enemy absolutely intends this virus for evil, no doubt about that!), 
God uses for GOOD!

The enemy desires to kill, steal, and destroy, but Jesus gives ABUNDANT LIFE!!!

I love this verse that God keeps bringing to my mind...

"I will return her vineyards to her

and transform the Valley of Trouble into a DOOR OF HOPE."
Hos 2:15

God transforms valleys of trouble into doors of HOPE! How cool is that? He can totally transform all of this trouble into HOPE!

I don't want to waste this time of trouble. I want to surrender to God's work in my life and in the lives of my children. His Spirit is actively working! Doors of hope are opening for the gospel to be proclaimed.
The Holy Spirit is being poured out if we can just stop worrying long enough to see it.

 I don't want to hyper-focus on the trouble. I want to fix my eyes on JESUS the author and finisher of my faith and the TRANSFORMER of trouble. 

The Bible says that Jesus sought out lonely (desolate/wilderness) places to pray.

"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."
Luke 5:16

We can pray in this lonely place. God loves spending time with us in prayer. He moves mountains and performs miracles in response to our prayers. He deeply cares about you. Spend time in this wilderness TO PRAY.

The enemy is bent on destruction. He wants anxiety and worry to wear us down. Especially our minds. 
But God has not given us a spirit of fear... He HAS given us a spirit of love, a spirit of power, and a spirit of a SOUND MIND.
He has given us the mind of Christ.

Fight to protect your sound mind by taking every thought captive and soaking in the Word as it literally RENEWS YOUR MIND.

Ask Him to give you fresh vision. 
Ask Him to give your your daily bread!
The disciples asked Jesus how to pray and this is what He said!

This, then, is how you should pray:
“ Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one."
MattHEW 6

This prayer helps reset my vision on heaven. And on the basics.

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If you don't know Jesus Christ as your Savior, cry out to Him for salvation right now. Don't put it off any longer. He loves you. He doesn't desire to punish you. He took your punishment! Ask Him to forgive you and HE WILL! Begin a new relationship with God today as you start reading your Bible and learning more and more about WHO HE IS! He is faithful and true and you can trust Him with your anxiety and worry. Cast it on Him! He tells you to!

I am not minimizing the effects of this pandemic. Our family is being HIT hard. We just have to keep walking by faith that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And that His promises are YES AND AMEN.

I love you and I am with you in this! God will prove Himself faithful. He cannot deny WHO HE IS!

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True."

Rev 19:11
Be Blessed!

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