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.

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Psalm 139:10 (NKJV)

10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.

Even there...there is no there that you are not.  There is no there that I cannot get through.  There is no there, where I have no way out, no where to go or no where to be safe.  Even when there are no answers, Even when there is no reason, Even ...

There is much to learn about being the light in the darkness.  The "there" I go with those I am walking beside can take me places I wish never existed, consequences that seem irreversible, a future that appears hopeless.  When I walk in the "there" I find that there is a way out, a way through and a way home.  

Even through the realities of the traps of sexual exploitation, drug addiction, abuse, abandonment, torment, and fear...Even there.

Even through disagreements, broken relationship, disunity, and discouragement...Even there.

Even through illness, discomfort, rejection, loss and phyiscal pain...Even there.

Even when my sensebilities are challenged and I cannot see the step ahead...."Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me." 

May you know and experience the presence of the Lord in your "even there"!  

 

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Hebrews 11:1 (ERV)

Faith

11 Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see.

Hebrews 11:1 (CJB)

11 Trusting[a] is being confident of what we hope for, convinced about things we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

There are seasons when the realities in front of me begin to erode hope, assurance and confidence.  I find that I no longer am walking  in Trusting Confidence but in a watered down version where I settle for less than.  I stop engaging fully in prayer to see someone made new.  I begin to join in the process of patch work almost afraid to really ask, to believe and to move in the unseen.  I leave the door only partially open not risking catching a glimpse of what God sees so that I will not be disappointed.  The work becomes moving away from disappointment rather than moving towards full assurance.

How does this translate into daily living? . . .my prayers become focused only on immediate needs, I pull back my interactions to the surface, I start to go down trails of discontent and it was not meant to be.  It is true that I must leave room for "other" and individaul choices but I must walk in faith when I cannot see evidence of what I am believing for...I am asked to seek the Lord to fully understand and fully encounter the what could be, the what will be, the what is the heart of God not only for me but for those I am working to serve.  If I do not carry in my heart a confidence that the "other" can move out of their place of despair, pain and disease than I am not truly standing in the gap to show them the way.  I must be moved to certainty...to a place of keeping my vision for them and the purpose of the work motivated by love fixed and settled.

Definition of certain 

1FIXEDSETTLED

I have learned in Equine therapy that there is a principle of congruence that a horse, through relationship, will respond to people whose insides match the outside.  That working with the horse can help me recognize where I am emotionally, cognitively and behaviorally incongruent.  This means my words and actions and thoughts must match or the horse will not fully engage.  When we walk through hurts or have worked with people intimately for a long time we become good at this too.  Recognizing if the person we are encountering is "congruent" , "safe", "sincere" helps us more fully respond and build trust with those who "match."  The principle of faith is no different...if what I hope for is not congruent with what God sees and has promised, then I will not be fully trusted nor potentially able to stand in the gap where I need to.  I will not be fully present remaining fixed and settled in the promises and hope given through the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is the one thing and one place from which I can be fully equipped and fully certain.  This is where I need to allow realignment and open the door fully in faith.

May we hold onto hope in the full assurance we have in Jesus Christ!  May we remain fixed and settled in seeing beyond the broken! 

May we be aligned in faith to move in congruence!

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Psalm 31:20-22  (CJB)

20 (19) But oh, how great is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you,
which you do for those who take refuge in you,
before people’s very eyes!
21 (20) In the shelter of your presence
you hide them from human plots,
you conceal them in your shelter,
safe from contentious tongues.

22 (21) Blessed be Adonai!
For he has shown me his amazing grace
when I was in a city under siege.

The eye is so calm because the now strong surface winds that converge towards the center never reach it. The coriolis force deflects the wind slightly away from the center, causing the wind to rotate around the center of the hurricane (the eye wall), leaving the exact center (the eye) calm. [google search: Why is the eye of the hurricane so calm?]

We are surrounded by "strong winds" but are promised to remain safe in the shelter of our God.  Many of us are working directly and indirectly to be and to create places of refuge for those ready and wanting to step out of the storm.  We work to bring together people and communities to care for and walk out love for our neighbors.  We work to go beyond the indifference and apathy brought on by being "tossed to and fro by every wind of teaching." [Ephesians 4:13-15]. 

We are promised refuge in our God.  We are promised that the enemy will "never reach" us. We are promised to be safe in the eye of the storm.

Psalm 31:24-25(CJB)

24 (23) Love Adonai, you faithful of his.
Adonai preserves the loyal,
but the proud he repays in full.
25 (24) Be strong, and fill your hearts with courage,
all of you who hope in Adonai.

 

 

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John 12:24-25 (CJB)

24 Yes, indeed! I tell you that unless a grain of wheat that falls to the ground dies, it stays just a grain; but if it dies, it produces a big harvest. 25 He who loves his life loses it, but he who hates his life in this world will keep it safe right on into eternal life!

 

Unless a grain of wheat .... dies.  Unless  a life is given for a life.  Unless someone is willing to give up freedom and hope in exchange for someone else's freedom and hope!  This is the life of love we are called to.  Dying to the need for control.  Dying to the pride of being capable.  Dying to the misunderstood place of wholeness and health as an individual pursuit.  Willingness to lay down.

John 15:12-14 (CJB)

12 “This is my command: that you keep on loving each other just as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than a person who lays down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends, if you do what I command you.

We choose to lay down our lives.  We choose to walk as those oppressed.  We choose to become as one rejected, lost, minunderstood.  No greater love... 

These are the truths that ring in my heart when I face the ones in my life now.  When I face the realities experienced, the nightmares lived, the long road ahead for each one.  I willingly must choose each day to die to my sensibilities, my affections, and my understanding.  I choose to go beyond understanding and keeping myself safe...I choose to lay down my life and enter into death.  I am asking this of those I walk with.  I am asking them to lay down all they have known and understood and to step into the risky place of walking by faith in a Creator they do not know, to follow a path that is unfamiliar, to experience the raw and amazing pain of love, grief, hope and rebirth.  There is nothing glamorous here.  There is nothing finished.  There is nothing  familiar.

And so I must find courage to go, to face the pain, to accept the limits of free will...my inability to force or make another choose this path with me.  Each day I go.  Each day I pray.  Each day I lay down my life...knowing it will be kept safe on into eternal life!!

May you go!  May you pray!  May you be kept safe as you die to self that others may live!

 

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This phrase caught my attention: "Yes, Seeing requires something,..." [pg 9 Second Touch, Brodie and Brock Thoene] 

Seeing...Seeing the hurt, discerning the unjust, understanding the need.  

Matthew 25:37-39  (CJB)

37 Then the people who have done what God wants will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and make you our guest, or needing clothes and provide them? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’

 

The journey of "seeing" has required something...it has required introspection, engagement and sacrifice.  Over 13 years ago "seeing" is what opened the way to our family journey into the world of housing ministry.  Day after day my husband and I would see young men and women walking up and down the city streets, see the progression of a young pregnant woman turning into a young woman pushing a stroller accompanied by different friends.  We would see the going in and out of houses and the apparent random families that were being created in response to broken down family systems.  We began the introspection of what does this mean, what am I seeing and who is reaching these young, random families in our community, who is telling them that there is another way, who will go?  This finally led to the decision to engage through the sacrifice of leaving the life, comforts and possessions we knew to step fully into our roles as live in house parents.  

This seeing has continued...with each young woman and child and family encountered, seeing the realities of brokenness, sexual abuse, neglect and abandonment...being asked to open the door of our hearts to the realities of sex trafficking and the slope of decline when our sexuality is used outside of God's design.  Seeing the link of pornography, abortion, sex trafficking and the cycle of drug addiction.  The seeing continues to press and require a response.  The seeing continues to challenge and to change.  The seeing and being seen continue the introspection, engagement and sacrifice.

Ezekiel 47:6 (CJB)

He asked me, “Human being, have you seen this?” ...

 

May your eyes be open to see!  May you press in to understand the need!  May you wait for the Lord to direct your path to respond!