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541 W. 28th Division HighwayLititz, Pa 17543
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As I can I want to offer a fresh word of encouragement sharing from my experience how our Father God meets us in the middle of loving and living out our faith to draw others to freedom. The road to freedom can seem long and hard not unlike the experiences of those living as refugees from war torn nations, those walking out of years of abuse and pain in broken relationships, those facing the reality check that comes with unplanned pregnancy, and the great journey to healing from trauma. I fully believe we are offered so much more than we ever experience as Christ followers. We settle for a life in bondage to the elemental nature of this world and continue to live as Hagar when in fact we are daughters of Sarah.
Galatians 4:3131 So, brothers [and sisters], we are children not of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
An example of an assignment is homework given to a student.
An example of an assignment is the position of any US Ambassador.
An example of assignment is the act of the president choosing an individual to be part of his administration.
Assignment...being chosen to take responsibility...a position...a task. I am at the end of one assignment and the beginning of another. These moments often come with confusion, guilt and a momentary feeling of not being needed or wanted. How many times have I allowed myself to get so entangled in the assignment of loving someone else, carrying them in prayer, walking out a hard transition...but getting myself lost in the process forgetting that it is an assignment not my identity. Forgetting it is a season and my part will shift, will change, will be redefined. He has put me in this position and He hand picked me for this assignment...He is there before and He is here after...The passion that has drawn me to serving as I do, the heart cry to see the lost and hurting drawn out into the light and given release from their oppression, bondage, and imprisonment has come with many hard assignments. Seasons of intense prayer and fasting, seasons of living with hard to live with people, choosing a person over completing a task, giving up space, time and energy, constant rearranging and times of forced rest when I would not yield...Now I am entering a season laden with opportunity to enter a chosen rest from a place of humility and experience and not from desperation and exhaustion. I myself can experience restoration...restoration of health, restoration of relationships, restoration of my position as mother and wife and to some as friend. These were all in some ways set aside as the assignments before me took all of me...and now having wrestled with the Lord in the deep dark places not just of my heart but in the lives of those around me one assignment is ending and a rest from a season of "war" is in front of me. I am learning again or perhaps for the first time how to live after war. Isn't this what we are here to live out anyway? Aren't we all positioned to be living examples of those rescued, those saved, those who are able to enter rest because we put our Trust in the living God. The assignment is to live out my identity in Christ, to just be...If I truly am going to offer a place of breakthrough, of rest, of hope...then I truly have to step into it myself...If what I offer is no different then the confusion, separation and anxiety around me then I truly have nothing to offer.
Several years ago I shared on what I was learning about perseverance and the secret to perseverance in yielding to the Lord in trusting and resting in Him. Summarized in these points:
We quit moving towards godliness and stay stuck in the treadmill of self-discipline when we refuse to rest:
We quit because we are tired. We quit because it hurts. We quit because we do not see the end result. We think we have to make it work. If we try again…if we put everything else aside…but we refuse to return and to rest we refuse to yield to quietness and trust…we refuse to give up anxiety, we refuse to walk vulnerable…we must shore up our weaknesses, we must fix ourselves …. we must, we must, we must get it right…
The places that hurt, the loses, the questions, the concerns, the failures….are only endured through abiding trust and a willingness to walk away from a habit, a self defense even of what seems good and right allowing everything to be measured in the light of the true goal…Love
Three things you must give place for in your life:
Its sowing seeds in faith and feeling the Living Water starting to make them grow because even when He doesn't have to send encouragement, He does.
“If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King Jr.
43 But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel:“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
So may you give place to Process, Encouragement and Healing and learn to embrace the assignments while remaining in a place of trust and rest. Truly this is a process, we are not called to this alone, and healing is for you not just for those we are called to love and serve.
9 Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in anger. You have always been my helper.Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me, O God of my salvation!10 Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.
11 Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me.
There she was sitting in the small counseling room as we surrounded her. She was flanked by her Case Worker from the county, as well as the ministry team. She sat clutching her daughter to her chest, her head wrapped in a cloth, and though her stature was somewhat diminutive her presence spoke of a fierce independence. This was the beginning...the beginning of a love story. A mother's heart laid bare that day breaking in ways I could not imagine...that heart was mine. The love that infused my soul for this dear one and her child cannot be expressed in words, nor can I attribute it to a human origin. The connection of a Mother's heart to a lost child...those I have birthed and the many I have not. The cry of the lost and hurting can be deafening and the moments of clarity, seeing clearly the person in front of me is often enough to move me...move me to cry out on their behalf, move me to seek to understand, move me to give without expecting return.
I had become a vessel of the very compassion I have experienced as I have walked through seasons of wandering, seasons of heartache, seasons of stubbornly going my own way, seasons of separation from the knowing revelation that God is with me and working through me and seasons when I have tried to go it all alone. I am now at a season when I have learned how to express what is inside, but I still manage to hold back more than I want to of myself and the true depths of love and care I find in reflection and prayer. When I reflect I have seen myself as a fierce lioness rising to ward off the enemies of her children and felt the lows of the seasons of finding the quiet, lonely place to nurse my wounds. I ,however, no longer can bare the weight of need and endless sorrow that only grows.
The obstacles in the path of these daughters hidden in the darkness cannot be moved by my compassion alone. I am no longer moving from a place of desperation to fill a need and right a wrong, but from a place of understanding and revelation. Understanding that the one in front of me must come on their own to the Father and my part is to say: yes to a show of compassion, yes to what the Lord is asking of me, yes to mothering and allowing His love to move through me...These are the steps that pave the way out for a hardened, broken and scar ridden heart.
18 So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion.For the Lord is a faithful God.
Blessed are those who wait for his help.
21 All your people will be righteous and will permanently possess the land. I planted them there as a tender sapling, the work of my own hands to display my glory.22 I will multiply the least of you into a thousand and the weakest one into a mighty nation. I am Yahweh, and when the right time comes, I will accomplish it swiftly!”
Recently my mother gave my daughter a plumeria branch to root and grow. I found it most interesting that the best way to do so is simply by placing in soil and keeping in the light and warmth. I find this illustration to be such a clear example of what I have learned through many seasons of walking with women in day to day living. So many times running ahead thinking I need to "water" and "touch" daily in order to see growth when in reality many women come as that branch: cut off, bare without roots or leaves. Why do I think my job is to soak them when there are no roots to take up the water? What will be accomplished by pulling it up everyday to see if there is a root forming? Why do I think I have to disturb and control when really the best that can be offered is the right conditions : soil that has been prepared by the Holy Spirit, light water to provide initial moisture, and a place of warmth and light to sit and let the unseen work begin. As a housing ministry this is what our homes should be places with prepared soil full of light and warmth. Just as the tree will begin to root in these conditions when left undisturbed so the Holy Spirit is allowed to work when I stop interfering and simply do my part to keep the atmosphere and conditions clear of disturbances, warm and allow the light to enter. The Lord is the one moving in their hearts to remain in these conditions and He is the only one who can cause the rooting to begin...then it is time to water...then is when the growth will begin. How we fight and demand growth when it is not ready, before it is time and before this initial rest in the right conditions. The discipline of starting this process again and again can feel tiresome and this trust that the Lord is working when I cannot see it can be trying. Yet, again and again I see the fruit of starting at the beginning and pulling back from pulling out every tool, every process, every path to healing and starting in this place of rest and trust.
8 Yet some of the seed fell into good, fertile soil, and it grew and flourished until it produced more than a hundredfold harvest, a bumper crop.” Then Jesus added, shouting out to all who would hear, “Listen with your heart and you will understand!”
25 (0) By David:
(1) I lift my inner being to you, Adonai;2 I trust you, my God.Don’t let me be disgraced,don’t let my enemies gloat over me.3 No one waiting for you will be disgraced;disgrace awaits those who break faith for no reason.
4 Make me know your ways, Adonai,teach me your paths.
My eyes have been open to the Lord's provision in a new and intimate way. It says in Psalm 24:14 that "Adonai relates intimately with those who fear him; he makes them know his covenant." He has been faithful to do just that in this season of surreal change affecting individuals and communities globally. He intimately meets and opens our eyes as we lift our eyes to Him. He has been working so clearly in this season of uncertainty that in the moments when I rest in Him I can see Him at work. I see the gifts He is drawing out of our children and how vital they are to the work of the ministry, I see the passions and positions they have taken in our home that have been augmented as we have had to intentionally press in as a family to find a rhythm to continue to allow others in, adjust to new daily living patterns and remain a united team. I see them join with us in new ways as together we have been seeking His will and His path for our family, our ministry and our community. I see Him working in those joined with us in this work and making new avenues for ministry and connecters. I see Him working in those stepping in to meet needs not only for the work here but in the community, church body and larger community. I see Him working to open the eyes of those here in forced rest, in this place of refuge where the limits imposed have given no choice but to face self, to face the heart, to face harsh realities. In this season I have seen fruit surface from things once dead and see and hear His call to trust, to obey, to follow and not join in the disobedient response of fighting to have things the way they were when He is calling us to what they could be. He is calling to us and opening new paths of creativity, productivity and community. He is faithfully and gently leading us in paths of righteousness and making our treasuries full [Proverbs 8:19-21] and opening the way for new life, new hope and new provision.
May you have open eyes to the provision of the Lord! May you know that He is good and fair! May you be lead to do what is right and how to live His way!
Adonai is good, and he is fair;this is why he teaches sinners the way [to live],9 leads the humble to do what is rightand teaches the humble [to live] his way.10 All Adonai’s paths are grace and truthto those who keep his covenant and instructions.11 For the sake of your name, Adonai,forgive my wickedness, great though it is.
12 Who is the person who fears Adonai?He will teach him the way to choose.13 He will remain prosperous,and his descendants will inherit the land.
Psalm 25: 8-13
12 And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Three things that I have observed make a difference in a woman's readiness for change and openness to the journey ahead...a heart cry, a friend and her call to motherhood.
First, I believe that when a woman comes with a heart crying out to Jesus He is responding to her cry for help as it states in Exodus 22:22-23 22 “You must not exploit widows or orphans; 23 if you do so in any way, and they cry to me for my help, I will surely give it." Their heart cry has been heard by Jesus and we are His answer to love, to care and to meet her need to be seen.
Second, when a woman comes with a trusted, faith-filled friend who has already been through ups and downs with her, and remained availble and present it makes a difference. Our role as a housing mission is not a forever landing spot and has limits...we are here for a certain time, to meet certain needs in a certain way through a certain lense...but a friendship completely outside of this, that has endured, sets the stage for her to trust taking a life altering step. She will engage faster, stay longer and already have at least one experience with being open in a new relationship.
Third, when there is also a motivating factor of pregnancy, reunification or protecting a child from abuse she will come with a vision past herself. The call to motherhood is present inside each of us and as we experience the love of Christ and His mothering and fathering,we begin to trust and see beyond ourselves to a future.
It takes a strong cord to withstand the attacks that come when stepping from darkness into light. It takes many hands and hearts affirming, encouraging and interceeding and you and I are called to be those hands and hearts. These are the strands that work togther to construct the road out.
My heart cry is that those crying out to Jesus will come to our doors, that those already on the journey with them will remain faithful and remain on the journey and that we will not ignore or set aside the call to motherhood that the enemy so clearly means to decimate in the hearts of the women we serve.
He hears. He answers. He sees.
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