Three’s Company

“Come and knock on our door, we’ve been waiting for you. Where the kisses are hers and hers and his, Three’s Company, too!” Are you singing it? (I’m showing my age, but it doesn’t matter because I don’t look and, surely, don’t act it.) But, I digress.

This past weekend, my friend, Judy, moved in with Jake and I. This is a good move for us, considering we both could use the financial help and I had an extra bedroom. She and I haven’t ever had a roommate (since Jake and her mom don’t really count as “roommates”), so this is a new adventure for us.

As we prayed about the decision, I (possibly she as well, but I won’t speak for her) had the fear that this could ruin our friendship. We have a great friendship! We are supportive and encouraging of each other. We are each other’s prayer partner in so many areas of our lives and although we have walked different paths, we seem to be in a similar season. So, living together, I feared, would put a strain on that.

Although it has been only 3 days and the potential of a strained friendship could always be there, we have decided to just be honest about our feelings. For example, I was in a super cranky mood yesterday, I was suffering from severe cramps and hadn’t eaten all day. When I got home from work, Judy called me to help her finish move her stuff from her apartment to storage. I was in no mood to do anything except for lounge around the house, but I knew she needed the help, so I changed into my comfy jeans and headed out.

After a couple of hours, I was done. I just wanted to go home and my attitude was not hiding that fact at all. Later on, after we both were back home, I was still cranky because although I had dinner, I was still hungry and on top of cramps, I was now sore. All I wanted to do was just sit and relax. The 3 of us were in the living room watching television or on our respective electronic device. Judy was trying to make conversation and all I wanted was quiet. I wasn’t outwardly rude, but my tone was not loving in any kind of way. And instead of letting her know I would rather not talk, I gave short answers.

This morning, as I texted with Judy, I felt the Lord telling me to apologize to her. I did. She responded by justifying my behavior. Albeit, very nice of her, I reminded her that was not becoming nor was it conducive of a woman of God who is called to be set apart. I explained I was not having a pity party or guilt trip, but felt conviction to repent from my behavior. As the good friend she is, she accepted my apology, forgave me and that was that.

That simple incident reminded me that I am called to be set apart (holy). “As obedient children,” Paul says in 1 Peter chapter 1 beginning in verse 14, “do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’.” I struggle with this verse because I feel haughty thinking of myself as holy, but it is not haughty because as His child, God calls me to be holy.

I am, obviously, far from being holy and will most likely get aggravated with Judy and Jake before the day is done, but I pray as He did this morning, that the Lord will continue to remind me that I am called to be holy and that three can create a great company and not be a crowd!

I do

“Do you recall sleeping through that raging storm?”

Yes, Peter and the others were so worried over nothing.

“Yes, that one…”

What’s wrong?

“Well, I guess I feel like them…worrying over nothing, but like them, this ‘nothing’ sure does feel like something. And even if it is nothing, the storm is loud and scary and who knows how long it will last…”

I do.

“Yes, but I don’t.”

I told you it would last for a long time, but I also told you how it would end.

“I’m having trouble believing that.”

You mean, you are having trouble believing Me?

“No. That’s not what I meant.”

But it is and, although I know you didn’t mean it against Me, when you don’t believe something I told you, and you know in your heart to be true, you are not believing Me. 

“Oh…I’m so sorry! That’s so horrible of me. You’ve only been good and faithful to me. How could I doubt you?”

But you do.

“I do. I’m so sorry.”

Come here.

“What? No. How can I come close to You after all that? I sure wouldn’t want someone who doesn’t trust me to be near me?”

But I do.

Though it linger

Noah was told to build an ark because a flood was coming. Abraham was promised he would be the father of many nations. Moses was told he would lead the Israelites out of slavery. Joseph had a dream his brothers would bow down to him. David was told he would be king. What do they all have in common? The Lord made them all a promise…and they all had to wait!

Like all of these, many of us have heard God’s promises for our own life, but are discouraged when they do not happen immediately. We feel like we were either hearing things or God was just messing with us when neither is the case. Unfortunately, instead of waiting it out, we often try to expedite the promise and fall flat on our face in our attempt. However, despite our impatience, we can be confident that those promises the Lord has made to us will come true. The only catch is, it is hardly ever on our timing…

Noah waited 100 years for it to rain. Abraham did not have the child promised to him until he was 100 years old. It took Moses 40 years from hearing God at the burning bush until he went back to Egypt to talk to the Pharaoh. Joseph waited 27 years for his dream to come true (He was 17 when he had the dream, 30 when he went to work for the Pharaoh, and then 14 more years passed before his dream came true). David waited around 15 years to become king (He was anointed when he was a teenager and became king at 30).

I get it! Sometimes it takes time, but it still doesn’t make me any less impatient. I do, however, can hold tight and rest assured that though it linger, I will wait for it. For it will certainly come and will not delay (Habakkuk 2:3). For my God is not human, that he should lie or a human being that he should change his mind (Numbers 23:19).

Safety Bar

What do you do the second you are about to be hurled down a huge roller coaster drop? If you are like me, you avoid roller coasters at all costs, but on the rare occasion I do get on, I grab the safety bar and hold on tight…

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a doctor or a nurse practitioner, so in 2010, I decided to quit my job and pursue the more attainable goal of nursing. I quit my job in June of that year, took a nursing assistant course and became certified just a few months later in October. By December, I was working in a hospital. It was like a dream, I was not yet a nurse, but the passion and the desire had been reignited and it was burning strong. It wasn’t only a dream now, it was something I knew, through experience and the encouragement of so many, was something I could do. I prayed for a long time and felt that pursuing a nursing degree was the direction I should take. I attempted to go back to school, but due to previous failed attempts and deferred loans, I did not qualify for financial aid. I was discouraged, but not defeated. It just wasn’t the time, again.

You see, I have started and stopped the process of going back to school a couple of times, but something always seemed to get in the way….Right after high school, I went to Messiah College with the hopes of doing something in the medical field. I was torn between pre-med and psychology, but never really got to choose because 3 semesters in, I was kicked out because my tuition had not been paid. Several years later, I wanted to go back to school for nursing, but decided to go for Marketing instead because that was a degree my job would pay for. After 3 classes, however, I was laid off from that job and was not able to afford to continue school.  The desire never left me, but I had failed enough times, I was taking it as a sign that I wasn’t meant to go to school.

This year, however, a portion of my tax return paid off the balance of those deferred loans. So, I decided to go to Alabama Southern Community College here in Thomasville and see what I could do. I was told to apply to the college, for financial aid, request transcripts from high school and colleges and provide proof of state residency. Three weeks ago, I was accepted to the school and today received notice that I was approved for a Pell Grant. In my excitement, I went to the school to see what were my next steps (placement test on May 2nd and that will determine what courses I need to begin with), but in speaking with the student adviser, I was told that because I am still missing a transcript from the school I originally went almost 20 years ago, I would only be able to attend school for 1 semester. This was disheartening because the reason I do not have that transcript is because there is still a balance of over $8,000.

Now, let me tell you that $8,000 stipulation would have stopped me before. I would have been discouraged and would have shelved the idea, but this time it’s different; I am different. I know that this…is…the…time! I have no doubt the Lord has declared this is the time for me to go back to school. He has provided the financial aid, the motivation and the time to go to school. How can it not be the right time? So, I will take my placement test, complete the semester I can do and pray all the while that the Lord will reveal how that balance will be paid.

I am learning that sometimes things come in our way to keep us from going down a wrong road. Other times, God uses obstacles to let us know to wait on Him. And yet other times, obstacles are placed in our path so we can hold on tight and watch God bust right through them. Let’s just say this is one of those times, so I am holding on tight to my safety bar…Jesus!

In the Shadow of the Cross

Let’s make a promise that every time doubt casts its shadow over us, we will run back to Jesus, turn toward the light,
and stand in the shadow of the cross:

When you inadequate, God says: You are CHOSEN.
“‘You are my witness,’ declares the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he’.” Isaiah 43:10

When you feel afraid, God says: You are REDEEMED.
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

When you feel unloved, God says: You are LOVED.
“You are precious and honored in my sight, and…I love you.” Isaiah 43:4

When you feel forgotten, God says: You are REMEMBERED.
“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:16

When you feel insecure, God says: You are SECURE.
“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” Deuteronomy 33:12

When you feel unable or unstable, God says: You are ABLE.
“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”   Habakkuk 3:19

When you feel worthless, God says: You are CALLED.
“You are a chosen [person], a royal [priest], a holy [child], God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

– excerpt from A Confident Heart by Renee Swope

Committed to being committed

It is truly impossible to know all the characteristics of such an omniscient God. We could spend all of our days trying to figure Him out, but never be able to grasp and understand His Majesty. His love for us is unimaginable and undeserved; we fail time after time and yet He loves us all the same.

I have failed so many times, in so many areas of my life, but there is one that area that I just cannot learn to “perfect”; financially. I have learned to become a better steward than I have been, but that is still nowhere near the good steward I should be. I tithe regularly, but still overspend and don’t save as I should. I pray about big purchases, but don’t feel it necessary on smaller ones. I can’t seem to process that money doesn’t grow on trees and that if you do not have a job (and even when you do have a job), the money eventually runs out.

Although I have not yet fully learned how to be a good steward and there have been, and possibly will be more, consequences to my actions, my Lord does not keep record of my wrongs. He does not forsake me nor does He leave me to fend for myself. He provides when His children are need. He protects when His children are in distress. What I have learned is that God’s love and provision for me is not dependent on my behavior, but on my dependence on Him. He sees who He created me to be, not who I once was or even who I am. And as long as my heart is fully committed to Him, He will be there to strengthen me. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

I do not claim to be fully committed to Him, but do claim to grow in my commitment to Him more and more every day. Some days that growth is two steps forward and one step back, but if you do the math correctly, that still equals to one step forward. And with each step forward, I come to know another one of His infinite characteristics and His promises to me.

God’s names and characteristics all can be found in His Word. Here are only a few of them;

Living Word

“Sometimes I ask God, ‘Why did you let me down? Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by enemies?’ They’re out for the kill, these tormentors with their obscenities, taunting day after day, ‘Where is this God of yours?’ I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down. You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair. I’ve been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born.”

Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. Because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth, drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me. 

“God, you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for you, traveling across dry and weary deserts.So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open,drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath; my arms wave like banners of praise to you.”

I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back home to the place from which I sent you off. You can count on it. 

“The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace—a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—and to comfort all who mourn, to care for the needs of all who mourn, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them ‘Oaks of Righteousness’ planted by God to display his glory. They’ll rebuild the old ruins, raise a new city out of the wreckage. They’ll start over on the ruined cities, take the rubble left behind and make it new.

We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort. He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”

Hope is found in knowing that God’s Word is alive and speaks quite clearly to us if we only take the time to listen to what the Lord has to say and understand that sometimes it requires us putting the pieces together; Psalm 42: 9-10Psalm 51:3-6Isaiah 43:18-19Psalm 63:1-4Jeremiah 29:11-14Isaiah 61:1-4,  and 2 Corinthians 1:4-5