Message to my subscribers: I hit “publish” too soon on my draft of Mercy Reigns. I did erase it from the site but it still was delivered to your inbox. Please ignore that one. Here is the full post. :)
Things have been very quiet on this blog recently.
Major life events were happening and things just felt too overwhelming.
Here is the short version: A couple of weeks ago, we had to close the doors to our business.
Over three years ago, we had entered into a partnership with a family member. It turned out that our trust was horribly misplaced and we were betrayed.
We have lost our life savings, our investment, the college fund for our kids, the vast majority of our income, and we may lose our home. I can honestly say that we have experienced an unprecedented attack from the enemy as he has tried to destroy every aspect of our lives.
It has been heartbreaking.
It has been devastating.
It has been extremely scary.
The process of forgiveness was very ugly and it has taken me the better part of a year. (And it is still a battle some days).
This journey has called us to walk by faith in a way that we have never had to do before.
Here are a few things I have learned along the way:
1 ) I can trust my very good God.
As speaker and writer Lysa Terkuerst said this past weekend when I saw her at a local women’s conference: “God is good and God is very good at being God.”
Amen to that. He is in full control and nothing takes Him by surprise.
One of the things I love most about Jesus is that He never pulls any punches. He made it very clear to all who would follow Him that “…In Me, you may have perfect peace and confidence. In the world, you will have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer! Take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted! For I have overcome the world! I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you!” (John 16;33, Amplified).
The older I get, the less surprised I am when trials hit. Jesus told me to expect them.
It wasn’t until this brutal season that I realized how much of my life I have spent expecting things to be easy and smooth in this world.
They won’t be. This isn’t Heaven yet.
I no longer hold such illusions. I may have meltdowns from time to time, but I am tough. I have chosen to live through this as Jesus told me to.
I choose joy.
I offer my weakness for His strength.
I accept His gift of peace.
I ask Him everyday for a fresh infusion of His courage.
I am confident that I will see His goodness both in the midst of and at the end of this trial.
I have become the enemy’s worst nightmare. I will not stay down. Each time he hits, I may get knocked down and be black and blue, but I WILL get back up. Every. Single. Time.
I have heard it said that the enemy doesn’t mess with those he doesn’t consider to be a threat to his kingdom of darkness, so I am taking this present season as a badge of honor.
If he thinks I was a threat before, he hasn’t seen anything yet.
2) I MUST preach the gospel to myself every single day.
This is the only way that I have been able to forgive.
It is crucial that I remember the enormous debt that I owed a holy God and without Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf, I would be utterly without hope. He loved me when I was His enemy and hated Him. Every one of my sins drove those nails into His flesh and without His grace and mercy, I would be forever cursed.
How can I then turn around and refuse to forgive the one who has sinned against me?
Jesus doesn’t give any of His followers that option. “…even as the Lord has freely forgiven you, so must you also forgive.”—(Colossians 3:13).
Forgiveness does NOT mean that everything is okay.
Forgiveness does NOT mean forgetting.
Forgiveness does NOT mean that things will go back to the way they used to be.
Forgiveness on my part does not necessarily mean that the offending party will realize error of their ways.
Forgiveness does NOT mean that you won’t still have ugly feelings.
Forgiveness is NOT something you can do on your own. It is supernatural.
Forgiveness DEMANDS that you cooperate with your powerful Savior and allow Him to forgive through you.
The process of forgiveness may feel like it will be the death of you. It isn’t. He will carry your through it.
Forgiveness is ultimately the kindest thing you can do for yourself. Because it will kill you otherwise.
Forgiveness is the way of peace.
3) His Word is my lifeline.
I have had to cling to the TRUTH of God’s Word with all of my strength.
As Charles Stanley once said, “I don’t care what I see, feel, hear, or think. THIS is what God’s Word says.”
When my world felt like it was collapsing all around me and spinning out of control, His Word was my anchor.
He has given me promises to hold onto during this time and I have allowed Him to write those promises deep into my heart. They are and always will be a part of me.
So rather than face each day with dread, I look forward with a sense of expectation to see what He will do. When fear threatens to overwhelm me, I review those promises and His peace floods my soul.
I have several devotionals that I read every morning and without fail, He speaks to me through them and I have fresh hope to face another uncertain day.
4) He truly is Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider.
We have seen Him provide in miraculous ways for our needs time and time again.
I did a fantastic Bible study by Dr. Tony Evans last fall called The Names Of God. He said something that I will never forget: “God Himself is your Source. Everything else is just a resource. “
Our store was simply a resource. We were not ultimately dependent on it because Jesus is our Source and He has promised to provide for our every need. His resources are infinite so we need never worry that He won’t come through. He will. Every time.
At this particular moment, things look quite scary but we are choosing to rest and rehearse. We are resting in His promises and in His character and we are actively rehearsing the myriad of ways that He has been faithful to respond to our fervent prayers in the past.
5) Prayer is a powerful weapon.
We are incredibly blessed to have amazing friends who faithfully pray for us. (You know who you are and we love you dearly!).
We simply flat out cannot make it without prayer.
Sometimes, when things are dark and you are exhausted and feel like you can’t even pray anymore, just knowing that there are others who are willing to stand in the gap for you is an amazing gift.
Prayer moves the heart of our God. He is not unaffected by our pain. His Word tells us that He is deeply touched by our cries and moved by our prayers. He sees every tear that falls and He responds.
I remember a Bible teacher once saying that when we combine our prayers with God’s Word, it is like dynamite. I have found that to be true. It has been the adventure of my life to watch and experience how He answers prayer.
Those are just a few of the lessons I have learned so far. I will be writing about many more in posts to come.
This morning at church, we sang “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone).” One line in that song really touched my heart. It says this: ” And like a flood, His mercy reigns/ unending love, amazing. grace.”
I had tears in my eyes as I sang those words because I realized that even through all the pain of the past year, it has been true:
His mercy reigns.