Monday, April 7, 2008

Waiting beside the Jordan...

Friday morning, during my prayer time, I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me, telling me that I had passed the "test," I had come through my "Spiritual Jordan." I was elated, of course, as it has been a long and tiresome trial for me, one that I had never made it all the way through before. To be honest, I also felt that doors would begin opening right and left for me to go forward into marriage and ministry! But on Sunday and today, I found myself feeling pretty miserable and discouraged.

Physically, I came down with a bad cold or sinus infection and ended up sleeping most of these two days and just praying and hoping I've gotten past the worst of it. Emotionally and spiritually, I have all of sudden not known what to do with myself. I'm not moving forward in my life yet and I feel like I'm just standing/sitting here on the bank of the Jordan waiting for my directions and God has not given them to me yet.

A little bit ago, I was resting and trying to calm my emotions and not venture into disbelief, when a picture of the disciples in the upper room came to mind. After Christ had died and the disciples had completely forgotten that He was to rise again on the third day, on Sunday, they were gathered together in the upper room, behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. I'm sure they also were feeling quite discouraged and miserable, wondering what to do next. Although Christ had risen again, the disciples were not aware of this yet as Christ had not appeared to them.

In the Bible in John 20:19-22, it reads, "19 Then that same first day of the week, when it was evening, though the disciples were behind closed doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them, and said, Peace to you! 20 So saying, He showed them His hands and His side. And when the disciples saw the Lord they were filled with joy (delight, exultation, ecstasy, rapture). 21 Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! [Just] as the Father has sent Me forth, so I am sending you. 22 And having said this, He breathed on [them] and said to them, Receive (admit) the Holy Spirit!"

A short time later, in a matter of days, Christ met with the disciples again and gave them their instructions, their commission (see Matthew 28:19-20), which is also our commission. But even then, there remained a slight waiting period. In Acts 1:4 the Bible says, "And while being in their company and eating at the table with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, Of which, He said you have heard me speak (meaning the Holy Spirit). A little later Christ ascended unto heaven and the disciples returned to the upper room where they were indefinitely staying to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as Christ had commanded them.

So, what did they do during this waiting period? In Acts 1:14, it says, "All of these (meaning the disciples and the others gathered with them) with their minds in full agreement devoted themselves steadfastly to prayer, [waiting together] with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers."

Although I am struggling a bit with still more "waiting," I realize that I need to do as the disciples did and devote steadfastly to prayer. The doors will open, God will give me my directions, but just as the disciples had to wait a little while yet, so must I.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Call me Mara [bitter]...

First, let me say, "Thankfully, by the Grace of God alone, I'm not bitter!" But, what the title of this post is referring to is what Naomi, in the Bible in Ruth 1:20-21, had said upon her return to Bethlehem.

"20 And she said to them, Call me not Naomi [pleasant], call me Mara [bitter]; for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty; why call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?"

This past week, these words kept coming to mind as how I felt. I have felt these past several months that "the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me." I have been afflicted and tormented and left empty and maybe that's where God needed me to be. Maybe He needed me to become completely empty, empty of pride and self-sufficiency, empty of my goals or dreams, so that I could be filled with His Spirit, His goals, and His desires for me.

I like the part that follows these words of Naomi...Starting in Chapter 2 of the book of Ruth, God begins his restoration of Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth. He works miracles in their lives and brings about physical and financial redemption to them through Boaz. He doesn't just leave them there, afflicted and tormented, but provides for them in miraculous ways and I believe He is going to do the same for me. He will bring healing and restoration to my life and redeem me spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially. He will work miracles within my life. He will fulfill His promises to me!