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 4:31
31 So, brothers [and sisters], we are children not of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

 

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!”

Isaiah 60:21-22

 

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.  

 

Luke 8:8 The Passion Translation (TPT)

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!”

 

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Ecclesiastes 4:12 (TLB)

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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Psalm 138:7-8 The Passion Translation (TPT)

By your mighty power I can walk through any devastation
and you will keep me alive, reviving me.
Your power set me free from the hatred of my enemies.
You keep every promise you’ve ever made to me!
Since your love for me is constant and endless,
I ask you, Lord, to finish every good thing that you’ve begun in me!

 

The lesson stirring in my heart may sound similar to lessons learned and shared over the seasons but many, including this one, are worth repeating.  With each season and lesson there is a layer removed, an addition to, or a repetition that creates new paths of life...This time the lesson is on journeying into the dark and devestating places of another's life and learning how to remain on course, neither turning to the right nor the left, nor staying too long in a dark place that has no resolution, no end and no justification.  Journeying with others as mothers and daughters and friends has taken me to darker and darker corners where the religious and the name of Jesus are interwoven with atrocities and abuses that are beyond comprehension.  My heart is drawn to those so turned around that they are repulsed by the light.  The place where the lie of NO HOPE and NO WAY OUT is branded into every fibre.

This is the devstation I want to enter and where I want to go to proclaim freedom, liberty and hope. I am not always good at looking away, I linger too long in an empathy that becomes a weight I was not meant to carry, I become overwhelmed and begin to drown in sorrow and oh so subtley conceed that maybe, just maybe that lie is true. I fight the need to expose all the evil and make it the battle cry to prove that I am not crazy, that others have to see and know how atrocious and without sense life can be and cry out for justice at all cost...yet, that does not honor the very reason I went into that place of devastation...I am here to draw out, to honor, to expose the treasure that is hidden under the layers or grime and filth. I am here to live out Faith in the face of Unbelief. I am here to give glory to my Father in heaven and to be a witness that He too is here and that there truly is a way out. Redemption, restoration and restitution are possible now, for me, for you and for each treasure hidden in the devastation.

James 1:18 (TPT)

18 God was delighted to give us birth by the truth of His infallible Word so that we would fulfill His chosen destiny for us and become the favorite ones out of all His Creation!

We are His favorite ones "out of all His Creation."  We are so loved He sent His son to die.  We are His.

Psalm 100:3  (TPT)

And realize what this really means—
we have the privilege of worshiping the Lord our God.
For he is our Creator and we belong to him.
We are the people of his pleasure.

He conceived of us before we were born, we were His.  We were always on His mind and are never far from His presence....Do you know what these words mean on this journey of bringing hope through loving, caring, sharing and giving through God's grace, anointing, wisdom and compassion?  Do you know that it means our role and part is a physical manifestation of His overabundance and care?  Do you know that it means He is never far from His Creation and that our part is not required?  He is present with each one...each lost and wayward daughter, each daughter bound and gagged in sorrow and grief...even there He is present!  He is writing the story and we are here to simply extend a grace and mercy not our own.  He is jealous for us and will never allow an extension of His love and mercy to be greater than our desire for Him.  He moves in and upon us, He is at work in and around us, we are His.

As we enter fully into this New Year, my greatest desire is to live so fully yielded and walk so fully alive in Christ that this House of His Creation is truly operating for His pleasure.  His heartbeat for each of us is so intimate and perfect.  I am at a loss to fully describe the heart of God that I have had the priviledge of bearing witness too.  The Spirit has opened my eyes to a new layer of His love for us...His love for those that are outcast, forgotten, left, appearing broken, missused, mistreated,...the time of healing appearing to be past and the long journey appearing to be too much.  He is so close to the brokenhearted and His love story is so evident in each story.  His desire to display us with love and care as a treasured and valued work of art worthy to be seen and shared. 

May you experience a heart revelation of what it means to be His!  May you know that your ministry of love is a gift!  May you know the value of the price that purchased you for Him!

 

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Psalm 18:30 (TPT)

30 What a God you are! Your path for me has been perfect!
All your promises have proven true.
What a secure shelter for all those
who turn to hide themselves in you!
You are the wrap-around God giving grace to me.

How many times do I settle for second best until I trust in the promises I have been given.  I was reading the story of Rachel and Leah, and much like Sarah, Rachel tried to fulfill a promise with a man made plan.  Again, another person was asked to be the bearer of the promise when the promise was for her.  The promise of a child was for Rachel, just as Sarah, these women were not given a hope and promise that could be or would be fulfilled through their own way of meeting a need, filling a hurt and securing their position.  I felt the conviction surge through me as I too have settled for second best, thinking that what has already come and what I have seen as success through my efforts helping others was what would fulfill the promise God put in my heart. My eyes were opened to the extra pain and trial I put myself and others through by not standing in faith and by dismissing myself from being fully part of the promise and waiting on the timing and leading of God's Spirit.  This does not change that the Lord, My God, is still holding out the promise for me, it is not for someone else to fulfill or live out.  It is my shelter, it is the perfect path for me.  The gifts, the talents, the place He has given me literally and figuratively can only really be fulfilled through my partnering and accepting the gift.  I can continue to say yes and I can experience the fulfillment of the promise.  For me this is the place I find myself, looking around and realizing I sidelined myself thinking that the places the Lord has used to grow me were already the places of the fulfillment of His promises to me.  Such little faith...such conflict in my spirit as I fight to hold out hope to others all the while resigned to seconds, leftovers and crumbs.  The Lord does NOT withhold good things from His children and He does not renege or shortchange us in promises.  They will prove true and He has so much more for us than we can ask or imagine...for me this is being fulfilled in the opening of rooms and doors to serve more women, to walk with them, to partner with others doing this work, and to stand firm and unwavering in principles, pointing people to the finished work of the cross and the current moving of God's Spirit to bring breakthrough.

May your eyes be open to see the promises proven true!  May you find shelter in Him! 

May you experience the wrap-around God giving you grace when you lose faith, sight or hope!