Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Struggle and the Victory

There is a lie that I have allowed to shake my faith that I want to call down today:  "if it isn't easy, then it's not from God." That's a lie straight from hell that I want to expose.
 Jesus said to his disciples in John 16: 33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Then, Jesus' brother says in James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Google scriptures about persevering and you will find many references for verses that you can access that will clearly explain how FAITH is acting on God's promises when your flesh, eyes, heart, mind, and friends and family are all crying out for you to listen to them or seek safety/comfort/routine but God says something different. (Not that your family and friends aren't acting out of love for you.)

Look at the Israelites. There is story after story where their lack of faith when the going got tough almost cost them the promised land. Well, it did cost one generation from entering the promised land. Remember Exodus when the slaves were freed but in less than 40 days were crying out to go back to slavery? Clearly, it was not easy on God's path for them.  Why would you or I expect everything to be easy?

He wants us to depend on Him and seek peace from HIM.  
Was Paul's imprisonment illustrated in the book of Acts because he was not walking the good walk of faith? Was it because God was punishing him for some unseen sin or because he wasn't seeking God's will for his life?  Look up the story of Paul and Silas praising their way out of prison in Acts 16. Was the adversity because of their sin or lack of favor? Our pastor gave a sermon that accessed this tool of praise in the face of adversity. It hit home with me and made me question some false teaching from years ago.
I am telling you though that when favor becomes dependent on you and me, that we are negating the cross and what was done for us. When God calls you to do something, you know it down to the very core of you. (He is not going to call you to do something that is out of alignment with his word.)  No one else may know or understand why you are doing what you are doing but you and God. Actually, everyone you love may turn against you and judge you. That does not translate to God not calling you to do it and that does not mean when adversity strikes that you are "out of favor". What does that even mean? I'm saved. How can I ever be out of favor?

Whether something is easy or hard doesn't determine the amount of favor that you are under. We are all under the favor of Christ, and something requiring some faith and hard work may mean that God wants us to work and persevere/sacrifice for Him for the growing of our faith. 

I give all of this rhetoric to illustrate my struggle. When I took the leap of faith and applied for principal jobs all over the Denver/Dallas/Austin/Fort Worth/Katy areas to better my income and opportunities to advance, I got the call from my current district first which is in the Denver metro area. When they flew me out here, I was scared to death and endured about 10 varying rounds of crazy interviews with some very scary professional people who intimidated my socks off. It was not easy nor was it comfortable, but I had peace.

I prayed my way through all of the interviews and preparing for the community presentations. God gave me that presentation which was based on Faith, Hope, and Love as the theme to illustrate who I was to staff and community members. I laid myself bare to these people because that is what God told me to do.

A school chose me. There are so many things that happened over the next few months that God just sailed me through to the signing of the contract. It was a miracle, but it was tough and I felt raw and exposed after it all. Then, think about the mental piece of me preparing to move basically with my kids to a foreign land. (By the time any other metro Texas schools contacted me, I was already committed to my new one in the Denver Area but I knew that God was idiot proofing my path. I prayed every day that he would idiot proof my path. So, why question where He was leading me? I had faith. Regardless, I had a great school that I was under contract for if God had wanted to keep me right where I was.)

I had a buyer for my house, and things were lining out to leave. God gave me the money for the U-haul and down payment on my apartment here that were all totally His hand. I had friends and family who were supporting my move and others who were saying not to go, but God clearly was opening doors and clearing paths.

My son wanted to come live with me but was afraid to talk to his dad about it. I kept praying and having faith that it would work out before school started. Ben and I still weren't in a committed relationship up until 2 weeks before I left Texas. I moved believing that God wanted me here Ben or no Ben.

Adversity struck soon after I got to Colorado: my buyer backed out and my house didn't sell, my son didn't get the courage to talk to his dad until that October after school had started, my car broke down again, my daughter went back to Texas to live, school was gearing up to not be an easy transition, my commute was brutal because the small town girl was a wreck in city traffic. I was about to financially crack on top of everything else because of double rent and debts that I thought my new pay raise would cover but the move and expenses of carrying my house drove me deeper into debt because I had to take out another loan. Sigh.

Friends and family said come home. Ben said go home. The Holy Spirit said don't you dare give up on God's plan for you.  So, I pressed into God. I believe that His plans are for me and not against me. His plans are to prosper me in Him which doesn't necessarily mean that it will prosper me in this world. So, I had to sling some fleshly rebellion off time and time again. God had to take some pretty pathetic cries from me day after day for Him to rescue me from the circumstances. I wanted my son and daughter, I wanted financial peace, I wanted a commitment from Ben, and I wanted to prosper in my career. (I'm a pretty demanding somebody.)

Would God ask me to be without my son? Would God then ask me to be without my daughter? My church friends? My family? What all was God asking me to give up to follow this plan of His for my life? Would I live forever in this financial death grip around me and no solid commitment from Ben? Where was God taking my life, and how was I going to end up publishing my book and serving him with this gigantic mess?

"God does not ask us to give up things and sacrifice for Him; that is old testament and not true for Christ followers." That is another lie straight from Hell. Jesus clearly says to the rich man in Mark 10:21 the opposite "Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack", he said, "Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

He goes on to say in 27-31, "Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." The Peter spoke up, "We have left everything to follow you!" "Truly I tell you," Jesus replied, "No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields- along with persecutions- and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first."
I'm in the middle of a custody battle for my son. My house sold, but now I am paying lawyers fees, a monthly sum to my ex, flights, and paying towards a personal loan. So, I'm still in the financial vice grip of hell. Does that mean that I am out of favor with God? Does it mean that I am not on His path for my life? No.

God is my God. I love him, I will serve him, and I will praise Him no matter the circumstances. I have tried to offer my administrative services out there to the world to make some extra cash to crawl out of this debt, and nothing has come to me. I can only have faith that this trial will end soon. I will praise my way through the releasing of the financial prison cell doors and releasing of my son from the stupid geographic restriction that I agreed to so many years ago. I will not run back to Texas, and I will not lose faith in what God has called me to do and where He has called me to be. I'll fight anyone who tries to lure me off His path for my life to serve Him including but not limited to fighting me. (Internal battles are the worst.)

I know that God is going to show me the way, and I believe breakthroughs are coming this year to publish my book, bring my son here, and open ministry doors for me. We go back to court for round 2 when school gets out. 

What if everything doesn't go in my favor? I will praise Him anyway. I will write anyway. I will pray anyway, and I will continue to proclaim all that God has done for me because favor happened on the cross. I am believing though that something big is about to change, and I have faith for a miracle. I have seen them in the past, and I believe God will give me more in the future. He is the God of miracles and I have His favor under Christ. Amen.

Brothers and sisters, don't believe man's lies. Don't rely on your flesh. Stand on God's word, and believe what He tells you. He wants us to find peace in Him. He wants us to rely on him, and He wants us to persevere through struggles of many kinds to build our faith. If faith was easy, everyone would do it.

God bless you as you face battles. Life is not easy in His trenches. We have a victor who opens prisons doors and sets the captives free. I am praying for freedom today not just for myself but for my new marriage so that I don't drive my husband crazy with my worry. Did I mention that WE GOT MARRIED?? God answers prayers every day.  Amen. 

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