Finally, Part 4 at last…meaning this is the last entry in the saga. If you’ve stayed with me, you deserve a gold star! But a thank you from me will have to do, so THANK YOU for letting me tell my story of what God has done in this church girl. The journey never really ends, but I’m able to close the loop, connect the dots, come full circle, or say what you will…it’s done! ….or at least I think is. 🙂
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Being in the desert sounds like a dry, desolate place, and it was for a time, but for me it did become a place of “streams” that flowed with NEW LIFE. I was given much grace and mercy, favor and blessing, was fed, loved and experienced many changes. Also, like Jesus in the wilderness, I had temptations, wanted to fall out, run, and leave the journey many times, but I was pretty hemmed in by God and some very well placed friends. As Psalm 139:5 says… “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” I couldn’t get far even if I tried.
As I left all I knew behind, God was already working, making a way in this desert for me. I should have known He would, but again, I wasn’t there yet. It wasn’t but a few weeks and I had a call out of the blue from a great Pastor friend offering me a job in Davis.
Check that one off my list. Whew!
I spent the next two and a half years working in a wonderful place, learning contentment, blooming where I was planted, and to pray.
Oh yes, to pray! I SO wanted to sing…but I spent that time working in the altar. Yikes, I’d rather sing a solo than pray for someone, truthfully.
S T R E T C H!
But I learned so much…to hear His voice and His heart for that person; to take my eyes off me and onto others; how to pray through and contend for answers till they came. To ‘see’ in the spirit – I had been given a few visions of what God was saying and was able to speak them out in faith. Mind you, I battled through this time. It was extremely uncomfortable…down-right rock hard… to choose to obey vs. pout. I do “pout” very well, God knows this and He pointed His finger on that place and said “come out!” Writing this now, all those memories are flooding back, more than I care to comment on, but I now thank God for pushing me out of my comfort zone and into the God zone, walking on water zone, with Him.
Back to singing…this season was my silent years. Worship was in my heart, private and precious, but silent and, with the exception of a few times in our home and traveling with my husband in ministry, the silence would continue for the next 8 years. That pruning hurt deeply. God and I had multiple….ummmm…let’s just call them “discussions” on this one, with me mostly complaining. I did say I had to learn contentment, right?
I can now, with all confidence and thankfulness to God, say that He has restored my song, but what has flowed into that pruned place in me is filled with so much more FREEDOM, LIFE and POWER than I ever had before. I don’t even recognize myself sometimes. It has been the most amazingly, over the top, above and beyond all I can think change. It’s true, pruning one area enables much more growth; stronger, fuller, and abundant…MATURE growth. If you’re being pruned…trust in this truth. As hard as it is to endure, the end result is amazing.
What have I taught you?
I’d like to share a window into one particularly soul stripping day during this desert walk. God asked me…”so what have I taught you?” Just like that. I was sitting in the Starbucks in Davis for a bit of early quiet time before work…you know coffee & God is a very good thing… One minute I couldn’t write a word, stuck and hurting, the next moment with that one question, it just flowed out randomly filling page after page in my journal…because He’s just that good. I’ve added the paragraphs, but this is word for word what I wrote and contains a glimpse of what I learned in the desert:
“You are with me – You are familiar with all my ways, not a hair on my head or a tear I shed You are not aware of. You created me, formed me in my mother’s womb – even before the world was created, You knew my frame. You love me with a love I cannot hope to understand, it’s completeness is beyond my thinking.
You know all my flaws, all the imperfections and failings (and they are so many, still). You know the outcome of this wilderness I’m in, You said You would be the lamp to my feet and the light to my path, that You would bring me through the valley of weeping to a place of quiet springs, that I would go from strength to strength.
You said you would teach me those things You want me to know. I am not a slave to fear, to apply the Word to each situation. You would reveal the truth to me and help me see that and not a lie. You do have a plan and a purpose for my life. Nothing can separate me from Your Love.
You want to perfect the areas in my life so that this vessel can hold more of You – to pour out. To not hold an offense and unforgiveness. To trust You even when my circumstances don’t change. That I am a daughter of God, of You. To worship You in spirit and truth – as a life in pursuit of You, becoming more like You.
To praise as a weapon against the enemy, as well as an out pouring of love to You. You are holy, You are righteous – my righteousness is as filthy rags. You clothe me with Your righteousness – this is to wonderful for me to comprehend. Your plan for redemption is all through the Word – it all spoke of Your son – a type and a shadow. To speak with other tongues – You intercede for me, my Lord. How to pray comes from You.
You are the author and the finisher of my faith! You are able to do exceedingly beyond with I would ask for think! I have a hope and a future in You! AMEN!”
F E A R (false.evidence.appearing.real)
When fear started coming off, it was like a scab slowing lifting, but still hanging on. Got the picture? TMI, I know. This “weed” in my garden had the deepest roots of all. It affected so many areas. I was always afraid… In fact, sometime during my journey I read the book “Hinds Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurnard, and I am so like “Much Afraid.” (Read it if you haven’t, the link is in My Favorite Things page.)
God must have decided it was high time to do some major digging to uproot this one, but His way was not my way, for sure! He wanted to push me to tackle one of the longest running fears I had. Now this may not be any big deal for y’all, but for me it was a doozy, going back more than 20 years.
It had always been a desire of mine to work for the State…my mom had for over 25 years. She’d say, “Carol? Why don’t you just go and take that test?” I’d smile, but my soul would immediately crush that thought, never even giving it a chance. Too afraid. I didn’t believe in myself much and always had to be pushed to tackle new things. (truth be told, I still have to fight that one)
I’d left my position in Davis – a door had opened to work downtown and God was putting His puzzle together, each piece having a purpose. The money was great, people were great, but the job wasn’t so great…boy was I board. I was way overqualified. After a series of promotional doors closed in my face (long story, but a God thing), I had some heart to heart’s with God. He said, “Go find out what you don’t know.” Which meant, pick up my big girl panties and search it out, MOVE FORWARD, find out how! *(%)#*%&!!! (just teasing) Replace that “false.evidence.appearing.real” with truth!
It was interesting though…my building was right across the street from the State Personnel Board building. Not funny God! So okay, I took the walk.
Knowledge is truly power and breaks the yoke of fear. Not only did I find out how that day, they told us to sign up online at such and such time for that dreaded test and everything went fast forward from there. Within two weeks I’d studied till my eyes popped (turns out there are books at the library on how to take these tests…who woulda thunk?), took that old test and passed it, BAM!!
Since then, I’ve had to take multiple tests. No fear! I love my job!
Bravo God! Bravo
Psalm 84:5-7 NLV
“What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk THROUGH the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem…”
I’ve said this before, but it’s truth for me…first the spiritual then the physical. Coming out of all that bondage to a life of faith enabled me to walk out loosing 112 lbs! Never could I have done that – didn’t believe it was possible before this. I made that statement when I wrote about my weightloss journey…now I hope that statement will make more sense. If you haven’t yet read the weightloss story, and would like to, go here Wings to Fly.
I’ll close that loop now… I’ve come WAY out of the valley and into a new season, with a NEW SONG in my heart. God has done great things and I give Him ALL the glory.
P.S. My husband gave me the best valentine this year, ever! He wrote, “You’re a great example to me of courage and strength. I used to see fear in your eyes, now all I see is faith.“
Psalm 29:1-2 MSG
“Bravo, God, bravo! Gods and all angels shout, “Encore!” In awe before the glory, in awe before God’s visible power. Stand at attention! Dress your best to honor him! We fall to our knees—we call out, “Glory!”
…or is it just the beginning?