A SCARLET LETTER

When I was a teenager in school I read The Scarlet Letter.  I cannot remember all the details of Hester Prynne’s story but if you read the book you too may have walked away with one picture of that scarlet A embroidered on her breast. She was punished for her adultery and was daily reminded of her adulterous act.

In some ways I can identify with the shame. To carry that weight everyday of your life is unbearable. You are always reminded that you are viewed as someone who is unworthy and unclean. I lived a crazy, wild lifestyle before I became a Christian in 1970. I partied a lot, drank alcohol, smoked and lived a lascivious life. When I entered high school I felt like people viewed me in a similar manner as many did Hester Prynne. However, my letter was an S for slut. Sorry, if that shocks you but that is how I felt. Your reputation goes ahead of you and the things I did in my life before Christ certainly left many people judging me in this way. Today I am thankful that I was being pursued by the Lover of my soul before I ever knew He was trying to chase me down. There came a day on June 10, 1970 when all that changed when I had an encounter with the love of God for me and I exchanged my filthiness for Jesus’ righteousness. But that was just the beginning of my journey of wholeness.

For years I had other letters that I wore upon my chest. Yes I was saved but I was so wounded in my soul because of my childhood that for years I struggled with rejection, unworthiness, and control issues. My spirit was free but my soul was still bound. Today I am whole and walk in victory but it was a long journey to wholeness. I am thankful everyday for the grace of God that has brought victory to my life.

What about you? Do you have a letter that you wear? Maybe yours is a D for depression, L for lonely or S for shame. Perhaps it is an F for fear or U for unloved or unwanted. As in the story of The Scarlet Letter you may be constantly reminded of what has you ensnared. Always reminded that you are not free of the baggage you carry. You do not have to stay that way. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” We received salvation and our spirits become new but so many times no one explains that our soul has to become whole too. Knowing the truth of the Word of God is key to wholeness. We cannot be changed by our own strength but we are changed as we submit to a life surrendered to the Holy Spirit. We have to have a revelation that we become different as we begin to embrace the truth of what God has given through His son Jesus!

If I understood earlier who I was in Christ earlier I would not have suffered in my soul for so long. You don’t need to be defeated and struggle constantly either. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” It is God’s plan for you to succeed and walk in victory. It is time to identify what letter is pinned upon your chest and take it off! Replace it with a large V for VICTORY! God has a future and a hope for you. He loves you and He is chasing after you with everything He has because He loves you!

Make sure you make that V extra-large!

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

 

 

WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?

During the past few months I have been stuck on how we are daily presented with choices. It seems like an odd thing to be dwelling on but I can’t shake it. Do you realize that each and every day we make dozens of choices, perhaps even more than that. From the start of your day you may have decided to hit that snooze button one more time instead of promptly rising from that warm bed. Perhaps you decided you will take time for one extra cup of coffee before you shower. You chose what to wear to work, what lipstick to wear, the path you drove to work or to run your errands. CHOICES! We make them constantly. Except for involuntary bodily functions choices are a very large part of our daily life.

The important aspect of choices is that we have them to make. God gave us the freedom of choice. Whether you are a Jesus follower or not you make choices. However, as a Jesus follower your choices can touch someone’s life for the good or the bad. So perhaps to ask the question “What Would Jesus Do?” is not such a silly idea. When the bracelets became popular back in the 90’s from a youth leader in Michigan you would see lots of Christians wearing them. Some thought it a little silly but during its day it had an impact. It was a simple reminder that worked.

Now you don’t have to ask Jesus silly questions such as “Should I put gas in my car when it is empty?”, “Do I wear pink lipstick or red today?”, “Do I put the car in park before getting out?” this is surely not necessary. What about when you are tired after a long day and you just want to sit down and relax but a friend calls with an emergency? Do you choose your comfort over their need? What happens when the person in the checkout lane is 35 cents short and they have to put the can of baby formula back? Ask what would Jesus do? He would give them the 35 cents! When someones heart is aching due to a personal struggle why not call them to say you are praying? How about a smile instead of a frown when you are doing your grocery shopping? These are choices we face daily.

We are the book people read by the life we live in public and in private. Jesus gave us the guideline to life in His Word. It is LOVE! Mark 12:30-31 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” NIV

This is what Jesus did and it is what we should do. This is the requirement we are to meet…..LOVE not a to do list. If we will remember to ask ourselves what does love require of me we will always make the right decision. When Jesus was faced with what to do He chose to sacrifice His life for us. That is love! When we choose to sacrifice our desires to choose His we are loving as Jesus loves. It is not a list of do’s and dont’s but living from a position of love. Asking what would Jesus do can seem like a ridiculous plumb line for us as Jesus followers but truthfully it is that simple but oh so challenging because we must die to our choices and choose His.

Let’s all do something radical in this crazy culture we find ourselves living in. Let’s challenge ourselves to live like Jesus lived and love like Jesus loves. It is our choice….let’s choose LOVE!

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

CHOICES

Have you ever given a lot of thought to choices? I have. It is something I think about often. Do you realize that on a daily basis almost everything you do comes by choice with the exception of your involuntary body functions. Right now if you are reading this blog you did it by choice.

As Christians we should be keenly aware of choices. Our lives are built upon choosing life or death. The choice that Adam and Eve made in the garden set the stage for all mankind to discover the inevitable results of making a bad decision. The serpent set the stage to deceive Eve. She actually did not listen very well when God warned them that they were not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. So because she had not completely grasped the truth God told her she was deceived by the serpent. She said to the serpent these words, “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.'” That was NOT the truth! He only said to not eat of it. So since she was not clear on the guidelines it was even easier to be convinced to make a wrong choice. Here is the scenario as told in Genesis 3:6-13 “The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

Wow, that is quite a story isn’t it? One wrong choice changed their world! Yes, Eve was deceived but her God-given mate and covering went along with it. He heard the truth too but allowed himself to be convinced as well and their innocence was destroyed! I actually think it quite interesting that they both heard God walking in the garden and God addressed Adam first about what happened not Eve.  That is just my side note. It was Adam that could have stopped this because he was there beside her and also heard what God said. Oh well, it is all too late now but proper spiritual covering prevents a lot of deception.

Okay, let me get back to choices. So now since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden there has been laid before us good and evil, life and death. We get to choose. Doesn’t it seem like a no brainer to you? It does but this is where the rubber meets the road. God forever has given His creation a choice. “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20.

Every day our lives are filled with choices. Some of them are not a matter of life and death. For instance when our days begin we decide what shirt or top we are going to wear, which jeans or casual pants go well with it. We decided on protein shake or sausage and eggs, you choose to take a different route to work, whether you get angry at the car that cut you off at an intersection, what radio station to tune into or listen to that special CD you like. You choose to be impatient or calm. You choose fear or you choose to trust God. Are you getting the picture yet? Most of our days are a series of choices.

Of course, the most important choice is whether you choose His ways or your ways. He came to give us life. He wants us to live a full and fruitful life. He is not interested in you being his puppet that He controls but rather He wants you to choose his ways so that your life is full. He is the life giver not the life taker! John 10:10 says, “The thief comes but to steal, kill and to destroy but I have come that you may have life and life more abundantly.” Choose life!

Today can be a new start if you have been trapped in a pattern of poor choices. But you have to do the things that can bring that to fruition. God is not going to do it for you. He will assist when you make the good choices that are necessary in your life. It is the process of “If-Then”. If you do the if’s then He will help you as you go. I am not saying it is easy but the only way to life abundant is making choices that are in agreement with scripture. He has given us guidelines and promised us that if we choose his ways He will carry us across the finish line. I am not saying it is easy. It may be one of the hardest things you do to say “NO” to the devil, sin and horrible choices and say “YES” to life now and life everlasting. What will you choose? I promise right choices brings forth abundance!!

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

 

Let Freedom Ring in 2018

Today is the last day of 2017. Tomorrow is a brand new year. It can be a day of new beginnings if you choose that path. Yesterday as I was reading and thinking about the new year let freedom ring in 2018 kept coming to me. So I began to look up different scriptures on freedom. There are many that speak to the freedom given to us as Christians. The biggest problem for most Christians is that they don’t choose to open up the gifts given to them and partake. It is a choice. God is not going to force you to live free. He has provided everything you need but you have to take the steps to enjoy them.

If 2017 was a difficult year for you make a determination you are not going to enter this new year trapped in the unhealthy patterns that you did this year. Walk into 2018 with a desire and a plan to be free from the poor choices that stole the abundance God wants for you.

If there is any verses that come to mind concerning choices these are the two I would say we each should embrace. Deuteronomy 30:15-16 is the first “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the Lord and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.” Now, don’t get bent out of shape about the word choices. Command just means to give you a charge. He wants you to understand how important this is. Then the next scripture is John 10:10 “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and to destroy . My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

God has always laid before us a choice. He leaves it up to us to choose. So if you dragged around old stinky habits that produced nothing but defeat and death then make a change. Choose life! When Jesus died on the cross he canceled the power of sin to keep us bound. This means that we can choose to be untangled from the ropes around us. They can be broken because Jesus won the victory for us on the Cross. There is no power in hell that can keep you bound but YOU! Romans 6:22-23 says, “But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Your freedom and my freedom was purchased 2,000 years ago. That gift is there for whosoever will. You have to choose it. Do you want to be free from an addiction? He has provided the escape. Do you want to be free from fear? He has provided the answer. Do you want to be free from lack? He has provided a path to abundance. Do you want to be free from anger and rage? He has an answer for that too!

As the year is closing out why not make a list of the unhealthy choices you want to change. The Bible has verses for every need. If you will take the first step toward spiritual health God will be there. He never forces us to walk in freedom. He has always given us a choice.  “Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples IF you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

It is knowing and choosing his ways that brings freedom. Make the choice for freedom and let freedom ring in 2018! Happy New Year and may blessings overtake you in the new year!

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

God Has Always Had A Plan

Aren’t you glad that God always has a plan? Since creation He has had to rescue His creation over and over again! As I sit this morning in my study on the day before Christmas Eve I was reminded that man has always needed to be rescued from himself. Since the beginning of time the endless stories can be told of how man was knee-deep in a mess and God showed up.

When Adam and Eve made the biggest mistake ever while living in the midst of perfection to this very day God’s human creation needed someone greater than themselves to get them out of a mess.

God had to banish Adam and Eve from re-entering the Garden by placing two cherubs with flaming swords so that man would not be trapped in that state forever without hope of deliverance. (Gen 3:23-24)

When the children of Israel had been slaves in Egypt for a hundreds of years God had a plan. Don’t you know they knew there had to be a better way? Even in their bondage they were longing for an Exodus. When it was at the darkest moment God sent a deliverer named Moses. A chosen Hebrew raised in Pharoah’s palace to lead a million of his own kind to freedom from a horrible task master. (Exodus 3:7-15).

The people of Israel had cried out for a king since the Lord delivered them from Egypt. They begged for someone besides the God whose name they did not know to be their leader. God spoke to Samuel to choose a young man named Saul to be the first King of Israel. (I Samuel 9). Unfortunately for Saul because of his wicked heart his kingdom was taken and given to another. God had a plan all along.

God spoke to Samuel to quit mourning over Saul and choose another to be king of Israel. God had a plan for the youngest of Jesse’s son to be anointed as the next king. David a young, handsome teenager would be chosen and anointed to reign as king after Saul. But there was more to this story because the Messiah of the world would come from the lineage of David. Our Deliverer was not yet here but he was already a part of God’s plan. Approximately 490 years before the answer to man’s salvation would arrive the plan was in place.

We do not always see how God is moving all the pieces. We usually see the problem not the plan that God has. Our focus is narrow and we cannot imagine that the mess can be part of the path for the plan to unfold.

So, those 490 years of waiting became the future. A young girl named Mary was betrothed to Joseph who was from the lineage of David. He would be the father of Jesus. Isaiah 9:6 is becoming a reality. “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called”Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!)

Yes, God had a plan! Jesus, miraculously conceived, born according to prophecies spoken and He came in human flesh so that He could be the One offered for the sins of all mankind in order to bring back what was stolen all those years ago in the Garden.

And now as we celebrate this weekend the Joy of Christmas may you remember this one thing…..God has a plan! He has a plan for you and your life. If you cannot see past the circumstance staring back at you remember that God has not forgotten you. He is not withholding, He is waiting! All the years since creation God had a plan. In the fullness of time Jesus came! In the fullness of time your answer will come. You may not be able to see it now but hold onto the truth found in scripture that God is not withholding. Psalm 84:11 says “For the Lord God is a sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.”

God brought a Savior for all mankind to be the bridge back from what was broken in the garden. Celebrate this weekend with gratefulness because though there may be trouble all around us God still has a plan! One day the Savior of the world will break through the eastern sky riding a white horse and written on His side will be King of King and Lord of Lord! YES, HE TRULY HAS A PLAN!!

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

 

ARE YOU IN IT TO WIN IT?

I am not a runner. I have never entered a marathon with aspirations to win the race. However, I am in a race. As a Christian I became a long distance runner from the moment I became a believer. I am sure I had no idea on June 10, 1970 when Jesus snatched me out of my captivity that I was preparing for a long-term race for an eternal prize. Now after forty-seven years I am aware that I have a prize waiting for me when this earthly race is over. I want to finish my race well.

Unfortunately, there is are many things that occur in our lives as we are racing toward our prize that can take us out of the race. The enemy of our soul surely wants us to fail! He takes great pleasure when a Christian throws their hands up in the air and declares “I just can’t do this, it is too hard.” But remember he is a liar. He is the father of lies and truth is not in him. So you have a choice you can be a quitter or you can buck up, lace up your shoes and keep running.

There have been times in my own life since becoming a Christian that have offered me opportunity to quit but I could not throw in the towel. Jesus invested too much for me to turn and run the other way. I have had heartache, I suffered from a tremendously crippling spirit of rejection for some years, loss of family relationships, seen my husband lose jobs, watched a son stray from truth he was taught, seen a son struggle to find success in the workplace. I could add more to the list but I prefer to boast in the Lord that He has strengthened me in every circumstance.

I am sure you have things you can share that nearly sidelined you but you are still here. That is a testimony. We are still here! Still in the race and have probably worn out quite a few pairs of shoes too.

I am reminded this morning of many places in scripture that we encouraged to stay strong and complete the race. Here are a few. Proverbs 24:10 “If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.” Jeremiah 12:5 “If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses?” Galatians 6:9 “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”  And one of my most favorite verses Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”

We have an example in Jesus on how to run the race. He ran His race for the prize and the prize was us! Now we have a race to run and our prize is eternity with Jesus! That is more than a fair exchange. We need not give up. Stay the course. Stay strong in the Word, guard your heart, keep the devil under your feet and practice running everyday. Keep your eyes on the prize and remember you are IN IT TO WIN IT!

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

 

 

 

 

NEVER GIVE UP!

I am sure many of you have seen the graphic of the large bird, possibly a crane, with a large frog in its mouth that says “Never Give Up!”  That is our story. What occurred yesterday is the fruit of staying the course even when we felt like we were being swallowed up by hopelessness at times. I would like to share briefly the story.

Our oldest son is by far one the finest young men you will ever meet. He is a 2005 college graduate from the University of Memphis with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. He knew from the age of seven he wanted to be an artist. He received a full honors scholarship to the University of Memphis. After five years he graduate Cum Laude and fulfilled his dream. However, his degree never gave him the opportunities he had hoped. He soon found out it was not necessarily what you know but who you know. He is so crazy smart it amazes me but in today’s electronic age you never get the opportunity to impress with those smarts to someone face to face until you have sent hundreds of electronic resumes that get deleted before you can ever say hello.

He is like just like his dad. He works hard. Is faithful to his job committment but he has rarely been rewarded enough to make a substantial income. Thus, with the exception of fourteen months, he has lived with us. He was not and is not a slacker but in all good conscience we could not toss him out because of what people thought about our situation. Believe me, both he and I have struggled with the opinion of others many times. He felt uncomfortable so many times and my heart was overwhelmed with concern for him and his self confidence. I wanted nothing but good things for him but felt like he was being swallowed up by defeat.

As godly parents we see such potential in our children. It certainly does not change when they become adults. We are so proud of them and we want people to see that too and for them to be rewarded for their diligence and gifting by their employer. It does not always happen though. When that happens it can crush you as a parent and it can certainly crush them.

Perhaps you have not ever walked in such a situation as we have. I certainly do not know if you have or haven’t. But let me say it can be gut wrenching! For me it became more than that. As Mike and I approached our mid sixties and Matt his middle thirties I began to think God had forgotten us. Were all my prayers ignored? Were we destined to stay on this course for several more years to come? Would I be able to survive all this emotionally and would Matthew’s dreams and desires ever become a reality? I had no answers but deep down in my spirit I knew I had a God that NEVER failed……even when I could not see a glimmer of hope!

Now, let me take you back almost six weeks ago. God began to speak to my heart. He began to reveal to me that my hopes and dreams for my son had become an obsession and that I had linked my future peace and hope as a Christian to whether or not Matt moved out, had a raise or new job, and perhaps meet the future Mrs. Matthew Greganti. I wanted it so bad I was consumed. I was like a dog with its bone and I was not going to let it go! Then on October 9th one of my dear friends and I meet together to pray. God showed us both that I was so tangled up with my dreams for him I had none for me. God showed me that I had to totally release my grip and allow Him to untangle my heart from all the dreams I had for Matt and begin to live my life without it being tethered to what I wanted for Matthew.

I promise that very morning when I completely let go and agreed that I was allowing this to consume me I found FREEDOM! My friend and I finished our prayer time and I started a brand new journey.

That Friday, October 13th I went to our Women’s Retreat. It was an excellent time away. I was able to see even more clearly that God was never withholding…..He was only waiting! He gives good gifts to His children. He knows when it is time to give us things and it was not my business to know the time.

After the retreat was over and I was driving home I called Mike to tell him I was almost home. He said he had some great news to share when I got home. Oh my goodness was it ever great news! Matt had found a little house that he could afford and his offer was accepted!! It was confirmation that when we take our hands off the things that are none of our business we give God the freedom to work. Basically, it is called getting out of the way……COMPLETELY!

So here I am typing on my laptop at the end of very busy day after moving our son Matt into his new house. He is sleeping in his first house knowing that this is the beginning of many good things that God has for him. I prayed over him in my study this evening and he messaged me a few minutes ago that he went through is little house and prayed over it and dedicated it to the Lord. He prayed for angels to guard it and protect him from all harm. The journey has begun. I feel the flood gates are open and many good things will happen suddenly.

Isn’t it amazing to see God move when we get out of the way? Also, I must say God was so good to Matt today. We discovered the washing machine that the seller left was gross so we were in need of a washer and BAM Mike’s brother had a decent Kenmore washer in his garage he had not disposed of yet so Matt got it for free. He also gave us great favor today with the weather.  The forecast was for rain this morning until the afternoon. It did not rain until we finished our second trip and returned the U-Haul at 2:00 this afternoon. When we got the restaurant to eat lunch the bottom dropped out of those clouds and dumped a ton of rain. The move went super smooth and all we had were five adults and one ten year old.

I stand amazed at my Daddy God for His love, patience, favor, understanding and provision. I am thankful for all He has done and I know that my obedience opened the door for God to move! How great is my God!

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

 

JARS OF CLAY

Early this morning I was reading from one of my Beth Moore devotional books. She was sharing about how we as finite beings with frail human flesh can have the mind of Christ. That we can have his thoughts if we are so willing to yield our flesh to follow His Spirit versus our own carnal choices. This led me down a whole other path of not only can we have the mind of Christ but we house the very spirit of God within us. He dwells within us His jars of clay!

II Timothy says this, “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable.” ESV. The meaning of the word honor is to value as precious, it is treated with dignity. The meaning of dishonor is to disgrace something or allow it to become vile, shameful.

As Christ followers we have a choice how we live our lives. We can forget what God has done and choose our own way if we so desire but we need to consider the immense responsibility we have to live our lives as shining witnesses because Jesus changed our lives. We can bring honor to Him by living our lives as living, breathing stories for people to read each day. We walk around with Jesus on the inside of us and that should be visible to those around us.

Or we can choose to live a life that is dishonorable. We can convince ourselves that we can contaminate our vessel and live for ourselves and nobody else. We can disgrace the precious Spirit of God that lives in us and live only for ourselves but is it worth it? After all that Jesus has done why become a vessel of dishonor. Why become a container for trash when the Spirit of the living God brought you out of darkness to be the light to a dying world?

Jars of clay can all look the same on the outside but the honor or dishonor given to the vessel is determined by what the vessel is filled with. How amazing that we as fragile human flesh can house the King of Kings in our spirits. We can walk around as kings, queens, and priests if we will honor our vessels or we can allow our vessels to dry up and become a waste can for all the ungodly things we were delivered from.

The incredible miracle that Jesus came as flesh to live in flesh by his Spirit is beyond my understanding. But this one thing I know I was a broken and shattered clay pot that Jesus put back together. He took every chard of clay and molded it into a vessel that would be better than it was before. He poured Himself inside of me and said, “Go, let my light shine from your jar of clay and bring honor to my name.”

You may still have a few scratches or dings in your jar just like me but that’s okay because He still uses cracked pots! So go forth and be a cracked pot for Jesus!

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

God Is Not Withholding, He Is Waiting

How many of us have been in a holding pattern sometime in our life as we wait to for an answer to prayer? The waiting can be gut wrenching at times. It is especially difficult when it is something that we want it so much we can taste it! I know that feeling all too well.

Recently I became very aware that my desires for my two grown sons became more of an obsession than just prayers I brought before the Lord. God began to speak to me that my heart had become tangled up with my hopes for their future that it had a stranglehold on me. I had linked the vision of my future with whether or not my desires for their lives came to fruition. God spoke to my spirit a couple of weeks ago and reminded me that my view of my future could not be linked to whether my dreams and desires for them came to pass. I was missing out on the things God wanted for me now because I was obsessed with the what if’s in their futures. I had to repent and lay it all down.

All of this happened just before our women’s retreat last weekend. This brought such a peace and freedom to me that it had me pumped up for our fun weekend. During a scheduled thirty minute quiet time Saturday afternoon I went out to sit and listen to what the Lord wanted to say to me. I was reminded of the of the verse in Psalm 84:11, “For the Lord God is our sun and shield. He gives grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” He let me know that He was NOT withholding, He was waiting!

All of us who are parents can relate to this. How many times did we have to wait to fulfill the wishes of our children because it was not time yet. We were not withholding because the time was not for then but later. They did not see the wisdom in that but as parents we surely did.

So when we are puzzled by delays we all have to be reminded that our God is a good God and He does not withhold good things from us He is simply waiting for the right time. Most certainly God will not slight us and give us something that we did not ask for anymore than a good earthly father would do that to his child.  Luke 11:11-13 says, “You fathers-if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for any egg, do you give the a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”  Jesus was simply teaching his disciples that He would honor their persistence in wanting to know how to pray and have an intimate life with Him. He told them all they had to do is ask. However, we must wait on God’s timing.

If you are waiting remember God sees the whole picture and we see one small single camera shot that limits our view. God is good and He is well able to take care of our needs, dreams and longings. So when you seem to be drowning in the ocean of what if’s and why’s just stop, look and listen. You may find, as did I, that you were all tangled up in something of your own making and God is waiting for you to remove yourself so that He can do what only He can do. Isn’t it amazing how simple it is when we take our hands off a situation?

To leave you on a very encouraging note let me share the very good news I received when I returned from my retreat last weekend. Our oldest son who has been living with us for a long time due to his job situation, finances, etc,. was finally able to get approved for a mortgage a couple of months ago. But the best news of all was that while I was on my retreat he found a house and his offer was accepted by the seller with no counter offer. He is closing before November 30th! When I released my unhealthy grip on the dreams I had it created an environment of freedom and things began to move in a very positive direction. Now we have one miracle down for him and two more to go. I am anticipating several breakthroughs for him because I obeyed God.

So be encouraged. If you find yourself in a holding pattern and have discovered how unproductive it is then release your grip on your dreams and God will provide a ram in the thicket at just the right time. The best is yet to come!

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

Puzzle Pieces

My husband and I started a jigsaw puzzle last weekend. We are still putting pieces that look similar in different piles to make it a little easier to locate different areas of the picture. We now have the border completed and we are continuing to fill in each piece. It can be so daunting sometimes.

There is also another scenario that can be daunting to each of us and that is when the circumstances of our life don’t seem to fall in place quite like we had anticipated. I certainly have become aware of this in my own life due to a dream I have had for approximately the last seven years or so. I am turning 65 in two weeks and I really wanted my grown sons to be married by now and for me to have become a Mimi, Granny or Nana by now. I have wanted it so deeply that I became consumed with it. It is not that wanting those things is bad but what if my dreams and desires are not God’s plan for my sons? I began to link my future happiness to whether or not that dream became a reality in their lives.

This past week a friend and I sat down in my family room and discussed my circumstances and through prayer together I was able to see more clearly that I had misplaced my passion for the good things I have in my life for something that may never come to pass. I was missing out on God’s plan for me because I was frustrated over a piece of a puzzle that did not fit!

I actually began to see how it is just like working a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes we become obsessed with that ONE piece and we cannot rest until we find it. But we end up wasting lots of time looking for a piece that is still hidden while you can be filling in the puzzle with pieces that we do have. It is kind of like missing the forest for the trees. And most of the time if we will simply step back and look at the picture from a distance we can begin to see how things fall together. Before long the pieces reveal a wonderful end result and we enjoyed the process.

I have made a commitment to release my dreams on an altar. It is not easy. It hurts!! But God has always directed my steps. I know the voice of God and I also recognize the voice of the enemy of my soul too. Today I am choosing not to force puzzle pieces into a place where they don’t belong. God says that if we “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6.

I feel a little like Abraham walking up the mountain with his son Isaac to offer him as a sacrifice. All the while hurting on the inside but trusting that God knew what He was doing. When Abraham made the choice to obey, God provided the answer. There was a ram in the thicket! I have a God who loves me and he delights in me daily simply because I am his daughter. So for now I am going to enjoy the rest of the journey and watch the future unfold with peace and hope instead of anxiety and grief.

So remember that we all make plans but God directs our steps! And you know what I think I may become a volunteer in the nursery with the sweet little babies where I can give some love and snuggles! Sure sounds like a good idea.

Living by the brook,

Marilyn