Monday, June 20, 2011

How long and how far...

Have you ever been hiking a trail that is much longer than you realized and is taking much more energy than you had planned on or were prepared for?

Just before the start of my senior year in academy (high school), I moved out to Scottsdale, Arizona, to Thunderbird Adventist Academy. I was planning to start my senior year there and had gone out during the summer before so I could become familiar with the school and begin working to help pay for my room and board and tuition.

I don't remember if it was a youth group or some other group that I joined with, but whatever group it was, we decided to take a trip up to the Grand Canyon. We wanted to hike down the Bright Angel trail (9.3 miles) to the campground, spend the night, and hike back up the following morning. Going down was fairly easy, although near the end it was starting to get dark, which made it a little scary, but we all made it down quickly and spent the night on the floor of the canyon.

The next morning, bright and early, before anyone else got up, I decided I wanted to get a head start going back up the canyon. I had come to know that the Arizona sun was indeed very hot by mid-day and there was no way I wanted to still be climbing the canyon. What I didn't think about when I had this bright idea and as I got started on the trail back up is that I didn't have enough water in my canteen to keep me from getting dehydrated and enough food to keep my blood sugar normal. To say the least, as I kept climbing and climbing up the canyon, I became more and more dehydrated and my blood sugar dropped further and further and it was harder and harder to put one foot in front of the other.

As I continued to hike, I began to feel as if I would never make it back up that canyon and began to worry about dying out there. I didn't know any of the other people on the trail since I had left all of my group back at the camp, which was very dangerous for me to have done. Thankfully, I wasn't the only one on the trail that day, otherwise I might would have died. Near the end of the trail when I was just barely functioning, someone gave me an orange to bring my blood sugar back up. Someone else gave me water from their canteen.

Well, I did make it back up to the top of the canyon, but was severely reprimanded by the park rangers at the station. I had to lay down for several hours, while they gave me water to rehydrate me and kept a close watch over me until my own group members arrived and we all headed back to school.

I remember thinking several times on the grueling climb back up that day that I just didn't know if I would make it. I could barely force one foot in front of another. It was the feeling of reaching your limit, of being stretched, whether emotionally, physically, spiritually, or mentally or in every area, and wondering if you are going to make it or if you might just lay down and "die."

This is what this jobless and moneyless situation feels like to me. I feel stretched to the utmost and I think, Lord, how far and how long are you going to stretch me? Can we have a break? Stop and rest and have some water to drink? How long, O' Lord, how long?

Well, I didn't die that day, hiking up the Grand Canyon, and I daresay that somehow I will survive this too. Only God knows just how far and how long I can be stretched before "breaking." And only God knows why He has chosen to allow this "stretching" to happen and to allow it to continue beyond anything I had imagined, but I sure hope I come forth as "gold," and not just "silver" out of this one! LOL!

On to another day of being "stretched" to the utmost!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I've been sifted...

Have you ever been "sifted"? Let me explain. In Luke 22:31-34, Jesus told the disciple Simon Peter that Satan had asked to "sift" all of the disciples, including Peter.

31"Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has asked excessively that (all of) you be given up to him--out of the power and keeping of God--that he might sift (all of) you like grain, [Job 1:6-12; Amos 9:9.] 32But I have prayed especially for you [Peter] that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren. 33And [Simon Peter] said to Him, Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death. 34But Jesus said, I tell you, Peter, before a [single] cock shall crow this day, you will three times [utterly] deny that you know me. (Amplified Translation).

Oh yes, I've been sifted. God has allowed the "moths to come in and destroy" (Matthew 6:19), and allowed the "devourer [insects and plagues]" (Malachi 3:11) to consume what I had because I was not faithful in fulfilling my vows to God. Even though I had promised God I would do something six months ago, a year ago, two years ago, I have not done what I promised; I have chosen to "put off" paying the vow when I could have and should have paid.

Oh Lord God, please do not let me do this again! Please remind me of the pain and stress my disobedience causes. Help me to be faithful to You at all times, not just when it's convenient. Amen.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My prayer today...

O' Lord God, please have mercy upon me today. Please give me a grateful heart, a heart that sees Your blessings, kindness, mercy, and faithfulness. Please help me to see myself as I really am, a sinner in need of mercy and grace, and a daughter of The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Please give me a humble, contrite heart, a heart "sensitive and responsive" to Your touch and voice as You have promised in Ezekiel 11:19-20 (Amplified Translation). May I learn to forgive others and myself, just as You have forgiven me. Help me to "run the way of Your commandments" and please "give me a heart that is willing" as You have promised in Psalm 119:32 (Amplified Translation). Thank You. Amen.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Feeling "Hemmed In"

Today, when thinking about my circumstances of no job, no income, no money in the bank (in fact, the account is minus as of today) and plenty of bills that are already past due, I realized that I feel "hemmed in." It's like no matter if I try to go forward, backwards, or sideways, there is no way out of the "box" of my circumstances; there doesn't seem to be anything I can do to make it change and nothing I do seems to change anything. 

I've only been in this "box" one other time that I can readily remember and it was for similar circumstances, except at that time I had a job, an income, but my income wasn't enough to cover my bills. I had just enough to cover food, gas, electric, and very little else. Eventually, the situation eased up, but it took quite a while before it did.

Now I'm in similar, if not worse straits financially and today I wanted to know more about what God may or may not be doing by "hemming me in." In Psalms 139:5, David talks about God "hemming him in," or at least that is what the NIV says. In the Amplified, it says, "You have beset me and shut me in behind and before, and have laid Your hand upon me. " When I read the whole chapter, the "hemming in" sounds more like protection and blessing than negative. But I continued to look up other verses. In Psalms 4:1 (Amplified), David says, "Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness [uprightness, justice and right standing with You]! You have freed me when I was hemmed in and enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me and hear my prayer." This is obviously an example of being "hemmed in" by enemies and God has freed him from the circumstances.

The interesting thing when comparing the two different verses above is that in one, it sounds like God is doing the "hemming in" (Psalms 139:5) and in the other (Psalms 4:1), God is doing the freeing from the "being hemmed in." So, it appears that sometimes God hems us in and sometimes He frees us from being hemmed in.

While looking up Biblical information on the topic, I came across a couple of blog postings that talk about being hemmed in. One author, MTJ, at the blog site, My Thought-filled Journey: Hemmed In , talks about the Israelites at the Red Sea and how they were "hemmed in." According to MTJ, "They feared Pharaoh and his army. But God wanted to move them from the place of fear to the place of faith. To get them to the place of faith," (MTJ, 2010) i.e., God had to "hem them in" so that He could then "deliver Israel and demolish Pharaoh's army." (MTJ, 2010). They needed to see God as their Deliverer, their Savior, the One to turn to in faith and hope.

In the case of the Israelites, it appears that God brought them to a place where they were "hemmed in" so that He could show them His power and as noted in the paragraph above, move them from fear of Pharaoh to faith in God. I expect this is the type of "hemming in" I'm experiencing in my life. I have felt that unless God saves me, I'm finished, I'm done in financially. In fact, one of my greatest fears has been and is the lack of money. The lack of money to pay my bills and take care of my needs, and it may be that God is wanting to move me from my place of fear that comes from a "lack of money" to a place of faith, dependent upon Him, my true source. I desire to be delivered from my love/hate relationship with "mammon" and the only way God can deliver me is to require me to face the fear with Him at my side.

Another interesting point brought out by MTJ was that when he has been "hemmed in" he is not without hope. He will trust God to deliver him. He will "walk to the shoreline." He will do his part "and trust God to make a way." (MTJ, 2010).

So now, reflecting upon these verses and the story of the Israelites, it does give me some hope. I can better see why God would bring me to this point again and in worst circumstances than before. I have nowhere to turn, but to cry out to my God, "Please save me," and walk forward, trusting Him to open a pathway when the time is right, doing what I can like applying to DHS (Oh yeah, that was fun!), protesting the UIA's determination to deny unemployment benefits (Such joy!), and continuing to apply to jobs, knowing that eventually the right one, at the right time, will be there. Hopefully, growing in faith and recognizing that "mammon" or money is not my source, God is!

Reference: MTJ. (11/2010). Hemmed in. My Thought-filled Journey blog. Retrieved June 2, 2011, from: