I’ll See You Just Now

09182014 gia and maya

My roommate in college used to tell me all the time “I’ll see you just now!”

I’d be heading out to class and she’d call at me as I was leaving the room, “see you just now!”

At first I didn’t get it.  As one of us was leaving, she’d be saying we’d see each other “just now”.  It didn’t make sense to me, since we’d obviously be seeing each other later, not now.

She explained to me that in South Africa, this saying simply means “I’ll see you in a little while.”  I grew to love this expression.  I felt like “just now” was sooner than later, and it made me feel good.

This morning, one of my best friends in all of the world drove out of my driveway on her way to South Carolina.  Maya and I watched on the porch as they packed up the last few items from their overnight bags and refilled cups with juice.  As I tried to keep the sobs from coming (which came in full force, as soon as they pulled away!), I thought to myself…

I’ll see you just now.

Today, “just now” doesn’t seem sooner than later.  It feels like a long time away, even though we’re planning to see each other around Thanksgiving sometime.  It’s never easy to say goodbye to people you love, people that have shared lifetimes of ups and downs and everything in between.  It’s not easy, but…  God willing, I’ll see you just now.

These two little girls squealed and screamed with glee as they painted each other with “chalk tattoos”, dumped out every toy we owned onto the bedroom floor, shared trains surprisingly well, and ran through sprinklers with pure joy on their faces.  As they were leaving, Maya held me tight and said “I’m sad, mama.”  I squeezed her back just as tight.

“It’s okay baby girl.  We’ll see them just now.”

***I’m a little sad today, I may have sobbed on the bed after they left and my little girl might have consoled me with her ring pop as snot was dripping down my nose.  But in all honesty, I am more excited for them and am eagerly anticipating what God will continue to do as they wholeheartedly run towards Him and what He has planned for them there.  If you remember, keep Krista and her sweet little family in your prayers as they travel, and pray that I would be able to survive the upcoming winter without her. ;-)***

Rachel Signature

 

Who Pays for the Window?

09112014 window

Hi Y’all.  I’m sorry I’ve been MIA, I’ve been in southern California visiting family and friends!  I fully embraced being present with those I don’t get to see but a few times a year, and my soul was smiling because of it!  :)

While I was home, I visited the church I grew up in.  It’s always a treat to see people who I’ve known since I was a small child!  I’ve been able to see the church transition, grow and change while still maintaining the same great love and close-knit, small-town feel. Growing up, Pastor Harold led the the church in rich, deep truth with a vision for mission locally.  As a teen, I saw him retire while his son continued the vision for the church.  Now, as an adult, it is amazing to go back and see Harold’s grandson also preach at the church.  Talk about generations being blessed to be a blessing because of God’s extravagant grace!  I am grateful for their faithfulness and leadership over the years and am confident that God will continue to bless and lead the church as they continue to seek and pursue Him.  If you live in the southern California area and want to visit a unique, diverse, LOVING, family oriented and Jesus focused church, I know Emmanuel church would love to have you!

While I was there visiting the Sunday night service, I heard a story about grace that has stuck with me even since I’ve come back to Jersey.  While this was just a quick metaphor, for some reason I can’t stop thinking about it.  It goes something like this…

Growing up, I loved to play baseball.  One day, I was playing in the yard and I hit the ball high up in the air, straight through a window in our house.

My parents forgave me, but the window was still broken.  The broken glass had to be fixed, and someone was going to have to pay to have the window fixed.

Grace is forgiving whoever broke the window, and then paying to have it fixed.

Will you pay to fix the window?

I don’t know about you, but I have always thought of grace as solely the single part of this dual.  I can forgive the broken window, sure.  But asking me to pay to have it fixed?  Are you crazy?

They deserve to pay for the broken window, surely.  They were in the wrong.  They should make it right.  I am not responsible for paying to fix the window!  Why are you asking me if I will pay to fix the window?!

I don’t know about you, but growing up in my house we learned that we have to take responsibility.  We have to pay restitution for the things we’ve done wrong against someone else.  Yet I was also taught to forgive.  Once I accidentally hit my brother in the eye with an aluminum bat while we were playing baseball outside.  He was the catcher, and I was the hitter.  I was too close to him and when I swung– bam!  Straight in his eye.  He was mad at me, but he forgave me.  I apologized.  He continued to let me play baseball with him and his friends.  I believe this is right; owning our mistakes and forgiving those who wrong us.  I will teach my daughter to do this.

But what about the other side of grace?

What about when someone wrongs you and there’s still “broken glass”?  What if there’s still a mess of “spilled milk” on the floor and you certainly weren’t the one who knocked over the glass?  Will you pay to fix the window?  Will you mop up the spill?

I am seeing more clearly than ever before that I am not by any nature one to pay for the window.  I want the person who wronged me to willingly pay for it and then some.  I want that broken glass vacuumed up cleanly, without a shard left, and a double-pane window installed professionally.  This is my nature.

But…

But…

But GOD!

But God does things so differently, so lavishly, so excessive, so absurdly inappropriate for what we deserve.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Romans 5:8

 But God, being rich in mercy,because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 2:4-7

God paid to fix the window…  Grace stacked on grace stacked on GRACE.

Lord, can you teach me to pay too?

Just the other night the hubs and I were talking about just this.  Later on in the evening we began a “lively discussion” in which we ended by looking at each other with complete defeat in our eyes.  “Weren’t we just talking about this?”  He said to me.  “Neither one of us wants to pay for the window.”

Fail.

Paying for the window will not be easy.  It’s not one of those easy elementary Sunday School lessons.  I am in for the long haul here.  It’s easy to say we want to pay until someone cracks a ball straight through the glass and suddenly there’s a real window to pay for, right?  When the rubber meets the road– when the ball smashes through the glass– Lord help me to open the wallet of my heart begin paying for that window.  Even if it’s penny by penny, let me start now.  Will you join me?

***Praying for our little online community as we close the summer season and enter into the fall!  Fall is a time of great transitions… School, namely, along with the weather and more structured routines and holidays on the horizon.  I pray we would be rested well for the season ahead and our hearts would be open to where God is leading us.  Also, if you read Krista’s post earlier this week, please pray for her family as they prepare to move to South Carolina!  My heart is so incredibly happy for her (and a little bit sad for me, if I’m honest!).  Lots of transitions ahead, and I’m so grateful for our Urban Hallelujah community who has shared with us through all of them and will continue to share in what is to come.  You guys are the best!***

Rachel Signature

A Reward For Listening In The Next Week

 

A REWARD

Tuesday

- Stand Still -

This was the promise:

“….Don’t be afraid. Just stand still, and watch the Lord rescue you. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm…” The promise I have desperately clung to for the last 212 days.

This was the fortune:

 …You will be rewarded for listening in the next week…” A fortune opened on Tuesday, July 29th, the day before I was headed home to NYC.

The following chronicles the events of the next week, a week I wont soon forget…

Wednesday

- The Calm Before The Storm -

Between bouts of turbulence and handfuls of Cheez-its, I scribbled down a rough outline of some of the things God had been teaching me that week. Titling it ‘When God Drags You Through The Wilderness,’ I considered for a moment if it would make a good blot post someday…

As the turbulence picked back up again, I quickly jotted down the things I had found in Exodus 13-14.

God saying,“…I know you thought you were in the clear, but it’s going to get BAD! … And then its going to get WORSE! Even more surprising, I planned it that way!

I continued, paralleling the Israelites cornered by the Red Sea, the idea that, “the circumstances you are up against are equally hopeless as they can be potentially miraculous.”

The seatbelt sign dinged on just as the turbulence sent my ginger-ale spilling over onto my notebook. Furiously I scribbled one last sentence into the corner.

Barely legible it reads, “What God has led you to, He will walk you through…”

Tucking my journal away in my carry-on bag, I could have never anticipated that 8 hours later those thoughts hurriedly written on a soda-splattered sheet of notebook paper, would be the only things holding my crumbling world together…

Thursday

- Complete Devastation -

Only God knows how close I was to giving up on everything; the complete devastation, and shocking revelations that had been awaiting me once the wheels touched the tarmac the night before.

It’s all such an intense fog; my Dad pleading with me over the phone to get some sleep, my thoughts held captive by …who would get the bedroom set? …the TV? … Sweet Jesus, the toaster? …. the two Tylenol Pm’s that had finally put my tormented thoughts to rest.

I had only one question left for God, “…How did I get here?”

His response was exactly like I had written on the plane, “…I know you thought you were in the clear, but it’s going to get BAD… and then it’s going to get WORSE. And I planned it that way!

I put the weight of my head in my hands, “…You planned THIS?” I questioned, surveying the wreckage left of my life.

My thoughts then turned in disbelief at the events on the calendar for the following day… 

… How was it possible that the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth could have such horrific timing?

Friday

- Don’t Give Up -

The events scheduled for the weekend of August 1-3 have been on the calendar since October of last year …Long before my life imploded!

It began as a favor for a college friend; a speaking engagement at a summer camp that would have us traveling down to South Carolina: the land of sweet tea, barbecue, and our favorite church in the universe. Interestingly, a church we had never actually been to! But this would be our chance, and we were ecstatic to think that once the camp was over, we could make the few hour drive to one of their services (along with 30,000 other people) after being touched by so many services online over the years.

Come December though, the plot thickened.

The pastor of that church in South Carolina – the church we were already SO excited to be visiting the following summer – was (coincidentally) on vacation in NYC of all places! Even more exciting was that he was looking for someone to give him and his family a tour of the city, and the duty fell effortlessly into my husband’s lap!

Even better, was that this well-respected public figure and my husband hit it off so well they agreed to meet once a year, every year. To say we were ecstatic was an understatement, and whether we ‘happy danced’ in the kitchen is something I will neither confirm nor deny! :) In every sense of the word, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! 

When asked when they should meet first, my husband thought of the camp he was scheduled to speak at (…the camp that was in the same state as the church, if you remember) so they both marked their calendars for the first weekend of August.

Weeks later though, the camp got cancelled, leaving just this chance opportunity.

It seemed perfect, almost divine…

….And for that, I was enraged at God!

This trip that had us giddy with excitement, this opportunity that magically just fell into our laps months ago, also had us scheduled to leave TODAY, and just hours after we had been faced with unbearable heartache! Anyone looking in would agree, this dream opportunity seemed unfit for two people living in a reality that resembled more of a hellish nightmare.

As I continued to question God and throw punches at His horrendous timing, a text came in from my friend. A devotion in which God addressed my greatest concerns head on, 

“As you journey along your life path with me, refuse to let your past define you or your expectations of what lies ahead. The future is in my hands and I can do surprising new things with it. Your gravest danger is giving up; ceasing to believe I can do wondrous new things in you and your world. [For I have said] I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

I felt the weight of what God was asking, but questioned if I possessed enough strength to listen. I was beat to a bloody pulp, on my knees in surrender, my circumstances crushingly hopeless…

Again I was reminded of what I wrote on the plane just days before; that just like the Israelites up against the hopelessness of the Red Sea, “ the circumstances you are up against are equally HOPELESS as they are potentially MIRACULOUS….”

I thought of the curious fortune, the promise of “ A reward for listening in the next week…

God had my attention. And in the end I would give in to what He was pressing me to do and go to South Carolina, but not without a final proposition: He had only till the end of the week. 

And my demands didn’t stop there-

As I packed my bags I outlined two requirements to my husband for our impending trip; that if given the opportunity we would be honest…

… And for the love of all that is holy, that we NOT celebrate our wedding anniversary…

Saturday

- The Defeat Of Unworthiness -

Somewhere along I-95, between pit stops and Starbucks runs, somewhere after the bustling city skyline faded into the rearview mirror (and with it the horrific events of the last 48 hours) somewhere along the endless stretches of trees and Cracker Barrels paving the way towards a dream opportunity we in no way deserved, my most incapacitating insecurities started to surface.

….What were we thinking? ….Who were we kidding? God was done with us …and seriously, who could blame Him?

Even during dinner with the Pastor and his family later that night, the thoughts never let up. It felt like a circus; wrangling monkeys… and elephants…and the roaring feelings of unworthiness that were being blared over the megaphone. Despite the outstanding performance, lighthearted conversation, and hugs goodbye, only we knew the chaos going on behind the red curtain….

The last thing I remember before closing my eyes to go to sleep that night, was asking God to hold me; to calm my restlessness, and to speak louder than my greatest insecurities….

…. almost instantaneously I drifted off to sleep…

Sunday

- The Power Of His Providence -

Sitting in our seats at church was everything and more that I thought it would be, and yet I couldn’t get past how unfit – how incredibly undeserving – we were to be experiencing it.

Again I pleaded with God to speak louder than my inadequacy. I knew how hopeless my marriage and my future looked, and how unworthy we were of this dream opportunity, but I desperately needed to know what He thought…

Moments later, the Pastor spoke these words that I will never forget,

“…You may feel too messy, and like you don’t deserve to be here, but here you are! And it’s not coincidence, it’s providence!”

Instantly the tears welled in my eyes, remembering this weekend that had been put on the calendar long before I could understand it’s purpose. There was no controlling the tears streaming down my face as I thought of how close I had been to giving up… the strength I could barely muster to continue listening to what God was asking of me; to trust Him, even if only for one. more. week. I placed my hand on my heart thinking of all the times I had wondered if the Lord saw the state of my broken heart, the times I wondered if He would do what He promised and fight the raging battle before me.

I looked to my husband and found him wiping tears from his own eyes, and it became apparent we were right where God intended for us to be; broken, messy, and standing in awe of a God who continues to bless his people, even when we are most undeserving.

It wasn’t pretty, but like the pastor said, it also wasn’t coincidence… it was providence!

That day I rushed out of the service, my fingers dialing my mom long before I could even make it out to the parking lot. Some time later and after I’d given my mom the play-by-play of the last few days, my husband opened the car door in a fury, speaking fast, and demanding that I drive!

I looked up to find him pale, and stumbling to sit down and catch his breath…

“…Th-ey’re… gonna… offer me a job…”

“Mom, I gotta call you back.” I said dropping my phone to my lap before I could even finish my sentence.

Monday

- Be Honest -

Nearly everyday I am reminded of the influential man that sat across from us that day eating Chic-Fil-A and discussing a mind-boggling job prospect like it wasn’t THAT big of a deal.

Every day I see his inspiring quotes being retweeted, and his motivational blog posts being shared on Facebook, and I am reminded of all the years we had spent watching his messages online from across the country, how him and my husband (coincidentally) got to meet in NYC…

But above all else, I remember this moment in time, when between sips of sweet tea, we told him our marriage was crumbling.

He had asked, and unfortunatly for us, we had promised to be honest.

I can remember my husband and I smiling nervously at each other, for a moment fearing the outcome if we were “exposed”… nodding in the direction of my husband, I gave him permission to answer honestly, and listened as he spoke words of brokenness, and burn-out, mistakes, and a desperate need for restoration in our family.

My eyes watched the man across from us, listening intently to my husband as he spoke.

He never flinched.

And I realized something powerful, that God doesn’t flinch either….

God sees what we are up against and upon the surveying the wreckage that is left of our lives, He exposes us for the mess we really are. And yet upon hearing our sob story, our slip-ups, and greatest shortcomings, He looks on us with love and sees the potential greatness in us even still!

Oh, what a great day that was! Calling friends and family with praise on the tips of our tongues; praise of a new job (…a DREAM job nonetheless!) but even more, praise thanks to a new revelation that came just days after our world came crashing down;

That God was not done with us yet!!!!

Tuesday

- The Lord Himself Will Fight For You -

The last 6 months have been best described as waking up each and every morning wondering, praying even, that it was all just a horrific nightmare…. but on the morning of Tuesday, August 5th, exactly one week from the fortune promising, “a reward for listening in the next week,” we woke up for the first time in 6 months wondering, praying even, that our reality wasn’t just a DREAM!

…And on our wedding anniversary nonetheless!

A day that will go down in history as the best anniversary we never celebrated!

The day God confirmed that we are a mess, but that He was not done! That while the damage is devastating He is a God who makes pathways through the wilderness and rivers in the dry wasteland. He doesn’t flinch at what we are up against, and even when our past is most agonizing, He is able to do surprising and wondrous new things in our future! No matter how brutal or hopeless, The Lord will fight the battle before you as long as you stand still, stay calm and NEVER GIVE UP!

My friends, there is SO much more I wish I could tell you, and so much more hard work ahead of me and my family, but the most important thing I want you to remember is that What God has led us to, He will walk us through.

He is not done-

….So NEVER underestimate what God can do in a week!

Krista Signature

A Promise, A Fortune, And The Day God Blew The Roof Off My Marriage

airplane blog

Before the piercing screams, before the sobs that went on into the night, before the two Tylenol PM’s that had been the only conceivable way to silence my thoughts, and before my almost 3 year old had to pry me out of bed, I was at an altitude of over 30,000 feet pondering a promise, and a fortune, and completely unaware of the devastation awaiting me once the wheels touched the tarmac.

“…You need to come up with a backup plan,” my father had said a few days prior, ” in case things get worse.”

His words ignited my greatest fears, roping me into succumb to my most crippling insecurities.

…A backup plan?? …WORSE?!?!

His concerns were valid, his loyalty to his daughter unquestionable, but he was wrong. 

God had asked me to do something entirely different,

Absolutely NOTHING!

I wrote about it here back in March, and another time just days before my world came crashing; the one thing – sometimes the ONLY thing – God has said, over and over:

“Don’t be afraid. 

Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you… 

The Lord himself with fight for you. 

Just stay calm.“ (Exodus 14:13)

That’s a promise!! A promise made to me, but a promise made first to the Israelites when they were up against the staggering hopelessness of the Red Sea.

Just like the Israelites, it was my choice whether or not I listened and believed the Lord’s promise to fight the battle before me. ‘Listening’ meant there could be no backup plans… safety nets… or desirable outcomes… it meant adamantly ‘standing still’ when I was most tempted to run FROM my problem, or run TO something in an attempt at fixing that problem on my own.

Listening and believing God’s promise meant doing NOTHING, and by doing nothing, willingly sacrificing EVERYTHING!

“…I know that’s what God wants me to do,” I had relayed to my mom over Vietnamese sandwiches one day at lunch, “ I just don’t know how much longer I can keep doing it…”

I noted the concern in her eyes as the same I had seen in my father. They knew that.

 I needed God to rescue me soon! He was running out of time…

The only question was, did God see that?

…Did God see ME?

…Sleepless, and sobbing in a heap on the bathroom floor? …Crushed by depression, stricken with anxiety? …Sitting amongst the wreckage of my derailed dreams? …The devastation left of my heart, my bank account, and my marriage? … Forgoing all other options to face my greatest fears knowing that the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth COULD lead me through the magnitude of my hopelessness just like he did for the Israelites, but secretly wondering if He WOULD?

As I thought back to the conversation I had over lunch that day, I rummaged through the abundance of Us Weekly’s, Cheez-Its and coloring books in the bottom of my carry on bag until I found the crumpled piece of paper that I had tucked away for safekeeping.

I unraveled it, remembering my mom squealing in delight at the arrival of two fortune cookies proceeding our lunch that day, her barely being able to contain her excitement as she pushed the cookies to my side of the table in the name of some lighthearted fun (…and at the very least, a decent fortune for the tortured soul across from her!)

I had complied, rolling the cookies around in the palm of my hand for dramatic effect until I was certain which cookie I would claim as my own. She volunteered to read her’s first and we giggled at its absurdity, but when it was my turn the mood changed entirely.

My mom hung on every word that I said…

“ …You will be rewarded for LISTENING in the next week…”

As my flight prepared for landing I took a deep breath and considered the events of the last few days; the promise that at times was the only thing in my frailty that I could hold onto while the waves of life beat violently against me, tossing me mangled and lifeless onto the shore. The war that had been waged for my soul, and yet that simple promise holding me together when everything else was so ravenously threatening to tear me apart…

Don’t be afraid. Just stand still. The Lord will rescue you. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.

I considered my curious fortune, entertaining the thought that maybe… just maybe… God’s deliverance was on the horizon! Possibly even in the next week!!

…I quickly snapped out of that delusion. After all was only a fortune cookie! :)

I tightened my seatbelt, as if to verbalize that I was ready for whatever God had for me. I didn’t know what the outcome would look like but I had regained enough strength to stand to my feet and daringly accept the fate awaiting me.

I trusted Him and would listen to what He asked me; To stand still and stay calm until HE rescued me!

I then asked God for something I will never forget: Either blow the roof off my marriage or provide a miracle.

…Never anticipating that in the next 36 hours he would do BOTH! 

Even more surprising, were the events that would unfold just like the fortune had said!

… A reward for listening IN THE NEXT WEEK!

Krista Signature

 

 *** Part II of this story will have you wondering, are you listening to God? And if you have been but are considering giving up, what if you hung in there just a little longer? Maybe even for just one more week…

See you back here next Tuesday! 

A Smile for the Soul

IMG_4889

This post will be short yet full of deep, intellectual thoughts.

JUST KIDDING! :)

We have been living it up over here with my mom and dad.   A Yankee game, a trip to Coney Island, shopping in the city, lunch at a pizza icon, a fabulous date with my husband, the farmer’s market, walks every morning, wine around the dinner table, a late night movie, cookies, the most delicious homemade siu-mai, splashing in the kiddie pool with the cutest two year old, and starting some really fun projects.

The best part?

It was all with my mama and my dad.

For those of you who live near family and have the wonderful privilege of sharing life on a daily basis, don’t let the everyday mundane moments rob you of the beautiful joy it is to be a family in close proximity.

For those of you who are far away from loved ones, I feel you.  But oh what a smile for the soul when you are together!

Grimaldi's!!!  One of my favorite NY style pizza joints.

Grimaldi’s!!! One of my favorite NY style pizza joints.

Mom and Dad  in the city

Mom and Dad in the city

If you know my dad, you know he has this pose in every picture in every place he's ever visited :)

If you know my dad, you know he has this pose in every picture in every place he’s ever visited :)

Park time with her grandma!

Park time with her grandma!

Coney Island!  It lives up to every expectation you'd have of it!

Coney Island! It lives up to every expectation you’d have of it!

Ice cream, hot dogs, the ocean, her grandparents... Doesn't get much better than this!

Ice cream, hot dogs, the ocean, her grandparents… Doesn’t get much better than this!

The girls :)

The girls :)

Go Yanks!

Go Yanks!

My soul is smiling. :)  Until next week,

xoxoxo,

Rachel Signature2

 

When God Drags You Through The Wilderness

waterfall

“Get up right Now!!!! ”

Startled, my eyes opened in a fury, darting across the room with more questions than I had gone to sleep with …What time is it? …What day is it? … Please Lord, tell me it was all just a terrible nightmare…

Still disoriented, I strained to make out the figure still standing in the doorway, the lanky frame of my 3 year old slowly coming in to focus. I noted the stern look on her face was one I had never seen before…

No mo’ sleeeeepin’, Mama! Get up RIGHT NOW!!!” she demanded.

Out of duty I complied, positioning myself upright in bed as I continued my search for answers long after my daughter dashed down the hallway praising my awakening.

My eyes fixated on the nightstand by my side, a bottle boldly labeled ‘PAIN RELIEF’ brought the events of the last 36 hours flooding back…confessions made in the dark… phone calls to different timezones that began with, ”I don’t even know how to say this…” and sitting alone on a balcony feeling the paralyzing weight of decisions that would have to be made, and yet ZERO willpower to begin making them. 

As I recounted the events of that night, I picked up the bottle of pills, recalling each of the 33 hours I had been too tormented to sleep… 

The piercing screams….

The sobs that went on into the night while my husband looked on helplessly… 

The hours that felt like days, watching the stillness of the city transform with the rising of the sun into a bustling spectacle that offered no more than the cruelest reality; that the world never stops, even though mine so devastatingly had…

The two Tylenol PM’s that had been the only conceivable way to silence my racing thoughts…

I rolled the bottle around in the palm of my hand, pondering the irony of its promise to provide “Pain Relief” when in no way could the contents relieve me of the pain I had been confronted with. 

I put the weight of my head in my hands, tightly closed my eyes, and declared to the universe that if for the last 6 months I had been ‘breaking,’ than this final blow had left me shattered.

Game over.

I had only one question left for God, 

“… How did I get here?

His response was as infuriating as it was comforting,

“… I led you here.” 

In Exodus it says, “God did not lead them [the Israelites] along the main road even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land… God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.” (13:17-18)

You see, God led his people tirelessly through the wilderness, to a place of complete hopelessness. Even more alarming, He planned it that way!

He goes on to address the people of Israel by saying, “…And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display my glory.” (14:3)

It’s as if God is saying, “Listen, I know you thought you were in the clear (finally free from a lifetime of slavery and all that ish) but mark my words, its going to get BAD! Here’s whats on the agenda: I’m going to take you on an emotionally taxing, physically exhausting journey through the wilderness until you reach a place of complete and utter hopelessness and have no where left to turn… Oh, and if thats not bad enough, it’s going to get WORSE because I am going to have Pharaoh chase you!!!

P.S. I planned it that way!

XOXO,

God

… Sound familiar? 

 But it’s what He said next that struck me most, “…My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh, and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers…” (14:17)

In other words, God will reveal his mighty power through the very thing that has us on our knees and is threatening to take us down! 

He knows what we are up against – be it broken marriage vows, heartbreaking infertility, or a paralyzing journey through depression – whatever it is, it is in our most terrifying times that God will point us back to how strong and miraculous HE is in spite of those circumstances, and maybe even because of them!

Could He have led us down an easier route? Without a doubt.

But two things are certain: Had He not dragged the Israelites kicking and screaming through the wilderness, (1) they would have both avoided their problem altogether by bypassing the Red Sea completely AND (2) missed the chance to be front-and-center to one of the greatest miracles of all time when God made a way straight through their biggest problem by parting the Red Sea!

So when it feels like God has taken us on a roundabout journey… through the wilderness… to a place of complete hopelessness… recognize that just like the Israelites, we are also on the edge of something equally MIRACULOUS!

Because our God is greater than what we are up against, and more relentless than the enemy pursuing us! He is able to RESCUE your struggling marriage and your dwindling happiness, and like a mighty warrior, The Lord will FIGHT for you to overcome your most overwhelming addictions and illnesses!

What you have been led to, our God will see you through. So let us not cower in fear at the circumstances racing towards us, or crumble at the sight of the sea of hopelessness we are up against…

With God as our strength, we can stand our ground, face our greatest fears head-on, and watch for the miracle to unfold.

… Because that’s what God does when he drags you through the wilderness. 

Krista Signature

Two Sides of the Same Coin

08062014 slide

Sometimes my daughter gets scared to go down the slide.  She climbs all the way to the top, looks down and suddenly starts her descent down the stairs.  “Let’s go together,” she’ll say, and one of always obliges.

When we get back up to the top, she’ll look down and then up at my face.  “Let mama go with me.”  She’ll start climbing on my lap, and squeal with glee as we make our way down the slide.

What’s scary and seems unsafe suddenly doesn’t seem as bad when plopped on her mama’s lap.

And so it is with us sometimes and our Heavenly Father.

I love this quote from Perry Noble’s book, Overwhelmed:

Well-intentioned people all too often try to reduce Christianity to little sayings and formulas that are absoutely ridiculous.  Most of the “Christian” bumper stickers out there are pretty off base.  The one that bothers me most, however, is the one that says, “The safest place to be is in the will of God.”

Doesn’t that sound so beautiful?

So poetic?

So inspirational?

But SO WRONG!

If the safest place to be is in the will of God, then what do we do with Jesus?  No one on the planet has ever been more in the will of God than He was, and He wound up beaten, mocked and crucified.

God’s will is good, but it’s anything but safe.

~Perry Noble, Overhwhelmed (p. 214)

Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den– ultimately an extremely dangerous place to be!  But God.  BUT GOD!!!  But God closed those lion’s mouths and revealed His glory, His power, His purpose.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a blazing FIRE so hot it killed the men throwing them in!  I’d say that’s slightly unsafe. ;-) But God shows up again, literally in the fire with them, and His purpose prevails as always like He says it will.

Job lost everything.  EVERYTHING.  His house, his job, his family, his health.  But God again shows up and blesses him even more in the second half of his life than in the first.

Don’t even get me started with the Israelites and Moses…  Stuck between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s vast army?  NOT SAFE!  Death seemed imminent!   But God swoops in with his ever abounding love and performs an incredible miracle in their lives.

Pretty much we can expect to experience trials of many kinds.  James 1:2-4 says: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

On one side, we can be sure that the life God calls us to is anything but mediocre, boring, or even safe.  Yet on the other side of the coin, we know that the same God does not sleep in his watching over us (Psalm 121).  Ultimately, everything that has been committed to Him truly is safe because it is under His control and His perfect purpose.

What’s hard for me to grasp is that the God who did these amazing things in the bible is the same God working in my life, too.

He is the same God in that fiery furnace, in the lion’s den, at the red sea…  If He did it for them, He can surely do it for me, amen?!  Even so, I have to be in a place where– with reckless abandon– I trust and give and allow God to come in and do His miracle.

Had Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego caved and obeyed the king, God never would have had the same opportunity to walk with them in a blazing fire.  Had the Israelites not trusted God to lead them out of Egypt, they never would have seen the parting of the red sea!  Had Job followed his wife’s advice and just killed himself after all his “bad luck,” God never would have been able to bless him so much more in the second half of his life than the first.  We’ve got to get to a place where we give Him a chance to do His miracle.

Just as my little girl fears the slide at times, knowing she is with her parent gives her the courage to take that plunge and experience something so wonderful.

Yes, I’d agree with Perry Noble on this one.

We’re not safe, yet we’re so, so, sooooo safe.  You get me?

Rachel Signature