When God Has You in a Place

Do you remember a time when you thought you needed something and it didn’t come? Maybe it was a report from the doctor, a friend to show up, for a situation to end, for a situation to begin, or a hug. But it didn’t come. What did you do? Did you cry? Did you pray? Did you question God? Did you harden your heart? Did you praise God? Did you give thanks to God? Did you complain to others or to God? What did you do?

Sometimes God has you in a place. Sometimes that place has no door for exit and no window for hope. What do you do? What can you do?

There’s a sense of powerlessness. Whatever you desire is not in your control to fix or attain. You can’t push things along. You can’t escape.

God has you in a place and you are forced to do things His way. You are forced to beg him for His intervention. You are forced to seek His perspective. You are forced to praise Him. You are forced to give Him thanks. 

Not too long after you begin to be honest with God and you quit carrying the desire, burden, need, hope, or longing, then you realize there is a burden bearer. There is a caregiver for your soul. There is a tear wiper and a compassionate ear. Even though He may seem silent, He is not inattentive. He is present.

When was the last time you poured out your heart to God? When was the last time you gave up being strong? When was the last time you went to your knees in surrender?

For the follower of Christ, this is where Christianity is proved. These are the places where no human can fulfill. You may know that God doesn’t even want you to share this with another human. It’s just you talking to Him. You didn’t think He was enough. You thought you needed a friend. A human. He is teaching you that HE is enough. He is your best friend. He is the one who can fix, fulfill, and fan into flame whatever the plan is. No matter how long you have to wait. Even if you don’t see Him do anything. Even if what you thought you needed never happens.

I could tell you what the Bible says about how valuable giving thanks is, being content, how He gives perseverance, how He gives strength to the weary, and so on. If you are a follower of Christ, you are familiar with all these promises. It’s your choice to cling to them.

What you may not be familiar with is waiting the way He wants you to wait. We will do most anything other than wait well. It seems so counterintuitive. But that is where the presence of God is. It’s that still, silent place, sometimes full of peace, sometimes uncomfortable.

Let’s not rush the process and ruin His plans with our own plan. He is a God of love who longs to give His children good things. Wait.

Waiting silently is the hardest thing of all.

Elisabeth Elliot

Destinations Matter

For a decade or more, my husband and I led a Bible study in an apartment complex community room every Tuesday night. The gathering was part of our weekly life, much like going to the grocery store. We did this because a resident in the complex requested we come there because she said the residents needed hope. When we learned of this, the timing was perfect since we were new in the community and trying to build relationships and reputation to birth a church. Establishing small groups was part of that strategy, so this invitation fit the mission. The years in the apartment complex yielded a harvest of Christ-followers, some precious friends, and vivid memories.This story is about one particular night Clark showed The Nativity Story film to the residents in that room. This movie is a cinematically beautiful one with music riveting its viewers to the story throughout the film.

At the conclusion, Clark presented the Gospel. The room was hushed as each was hanging on his every word. It was clear the Spirit was working after the dramatic depiction of Jesus’ birth in the movie. I thought surely no one would resist the palpable presence of the Spirit and prayed that no one would. Clark led in a prayer to give anyone a chance to ask Jesus into their heart. Immediately after, since the room was quiet, it was easy to hear a very old gentleman talking to his wife. He shared that now they knew for the first time how to get to heaven. Everyone at their table called Clark and me over as the man and his wife signed their commitment card, which stated they’d prayed to receive Christ. All around understood the significance of what had occurred.This lifelong Catholic couple was in their 90’s. He’d been a high school teacher in the community for his adult life. But for those few moments in this community room, he recognized that stability didn’t come from longevity or even a significant career. He realized that his need for stability, for certainty, would not come from anything he had done. It all came clear to him that salvation in Jesus was the only way to heaven.From that point on, this couple came to Bible study faithfully. Within a few months, the husband died. Did it matter that we’d been obedient to that complex when invited? Yes. Did it matter that this dear, aged couple know the One who saved their soul? Yes. Do spiritual destinations matter? Yes. Where you choose to go could have a direct impact on someone’s destination for eternity.

Jesus answered, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except by me. John 14:6

He Died For Me

He died for me?

How can that be, that Jesus chose to die for me?

Nailed to a tree, unjustified.

His blood applied. What news! That Jesus died for me!

He knew His purpose, He knew the Plan.

God would come in the form of man.

To live with us and dwell with us.

For me, for ME? He died for me.

The joy before Him, He endured the cross.

He suffered and scorned its shame.

Left without a friend, obedient to the end.

This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

Foretold in Isaiah,

Spoken for by John.

Baptized in the Jordon, the sky would open,

The Father had spoken and the mission had begun.

This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

Tempted by Satan, proved faithful by Scripture,

He preached repentance and called His disciples.

He healed the sick so I could see.

This Jesus, yes Jesus, He died for me.

Spoke from a mountain and told of the fountain,

The life we could have in Him.

Love the lowly, avoid adultery.

Be salt and light, and love, peace and mercy.

Stay free, live free. His mind always on me.

This Jesus, merciful Jesus. He died for me.

Give it all away, pray and forgive,

Store up treasures where one day you’ll live,

Don’t worry or judge. Ask, seek and knock.

Enter the narrow gate and stay close to the flock.

He’s prepared a way.

This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

No houses on sand, build a solid foundation.

Have faith, be healed and let His glory be revealed.

Be devoted and follow, let Him calm your storms.

No sacrifices needed, only a heart turned towards.

This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

The workers are few, the LOST are many.

Pray to the Lord for more help.

He wants to save, let’s pray today,

for our families, friends and enemies.

He loves them all, we don’t understand.

This Jesus, unfathomable Jesus, He died for me.

He calls us out every single day,

Go, tell, and be sure to pray.

Love in my Name, and do all for Me.

I promise to provide and give rest when you’re weary.

Keep my Sabbath, stay faithful in meeting.

Your strength comes in numbers, love one another deeply.

His plan is good, better than your own.

This Jesus, Son of Man, He died for me.

Love as a child; stay on the straight and narrow.

I’ll provide your food, your rest and a bright tomorrow.

No worry for clothes or a place to lay your head.

All that is my joy to give, trust me, you’ll be fed.

Such love, such care we don’t deserve.

This Jesus, my Redeemer, He died for me.

He came as a babe, so lowly and small

no place for Him, but a dirty stall.

The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords

He came so I can live.

He humbled himself, our example, the Servant.

He taught us and so now, we can be fervent.

Our devotion is true and our lives shine,

All for His glory and none for mine.

Because He lives, I can live too.

This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for YOU.

Defeated and mocked or so it appeared.

They stripped Him, but couldn’t take His glory.

Even to the end, redemption told the story

For one who was on His side – paradise was his reward.

The curtain torn, they laid Him in a tomb, guarded by soldiers,

Oh, such doom.

But victory was coming, the women were running,

to tell that they had seen Him!

To many He appeared, even to those He loved dear,

And now He reigns on His throne above.

This Jesus, My Jesus, all for love, He died for YOU.

The day and hour is not known, but one day He will come.

For now, He reigns in our hearts and on His heavenly throne.

This Jesus whose blood was shed for me

has made my life worth living.

This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

It happened long ago we know, and yet the truth remains.

His resurrection ever told, through the truth of His claims.

They cannot prove otherwise, His followers know it’s true,

for we are forever grateful and try to show it in all we do.

He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. He is the only One.

He’s the God of all gods and the only true Son.

It is our joy today to honor Him and bless His Name,

For we know He lives because our lives are changed.

This Jesus, the Powerful Savior, it’s Him we celebrate.

The cross was the bridge for our sin sick souls

Our hellish lives could now be redeemed.

If we know Him in our hearts, we cannot help but sing.

The One who’s closer than a brother,

The One who calls us His friends.

It doesn’t seem possible, this personal Savior.

He’ll see us to the end.

Heaven is our future, Hell has lost its sting.

Through generations till He comes, His truth forever rings.

The best thing that has happened is we know deep down inside,

He makes His home in our hearts and there He now abides.

No more could He have done,

His love has set me free.

This Jesus, yes Jesus, He died for me.

by Valerie Rumfelt – based chronologically on Matthew’s gospel

Hope for Dolores

Rhode Island, geographically, is the smallest state in the United States. However, it is the second most-densely populated state. This unique state was our home for 11 years, as North American Mission Board, church planters. The state motto, HOPE, was harmonious with our assignment; to bring the HOPE of Jesus through the expression of a local, Christ centered church.

From the beginning we experienced God; sometimes in joys and results, and other times in silence and endurance.60-100-10273-2

Building relationships by the power of the Holy Spirit is necessary to planting a church. Even though some may never enter the church doors, relationships build the reputation of the church.

One of the first relationships began in the first place we lived. Our adjoining neighbor was Dolores. What a fireball she was! Born in Boston (with the accent to prove it), Catholic all her life, a widow, knowledgeable, with the composure to survive. She was in her early 90’s now, alone, physically limited, and although she didn’t practice her faith, she clung to it with all she had.

Then we came. The Mississippian’s planting a church in her town! After we met, we’d occasionally make visits to check on her. She watched TV and read, and seemed to accept her life as it was. We snatched as many opportunities to engage with her spiritual need.

One day, she announced she’d be moving to a single level,efficiency apartment. We exchanged addresses, phone numbers, assisted in her move, and soon, our neighbor was gone.

Part of building the friendship with Dolores was to establish who we were, why we came and who we served. Her move would not hinder our relationship with her.

We talked by phone. I would plan visits and bring requested donuts and coffee. One on one chats, sorting through her mail, and sometimes, assisting her with some grooming tasks were common activities.

Dolores often wanted to hear about our work. Talking about Jesus was a natural topic in our conversations. She was curious.

One divine visit, she answered the door agitated and panicked. This was most unusual. Glad to see me, she was anxious to sit at the table. As I divided the snacks, she started to tell me about a recent occurrence since our last visit.

While lying in bed one night, she began thinking about her husband and remembered a verse she’d heard in Catholic school – Jesus would come like a thief in the night. She then wondered if her husband was in heaven, but then fear gripped her heart as she wondered about herself.  If Jesus returned in that moment, would she go to heaven?

Hearing this thrilled my heart. God was at work and was revealing Himself to her! The weight of her experience melted away as she shared. She began to realize her day of salvation had come. Now she could receive Jesus into her heart. She could know if Jesus came “like a thief in the night”, she would be ready. Right then she prayed to Jesus.

She wept.

As we pondered the life changing moments, she wondered aloud why no one had ever told her about Jesus before now.

Gazing out the window, she reflected on the years she’d walked back and forth on the sidewalk there in town – going and coming from Catholic school. “I never heard about Jesus and that He could be mine.” I said, “Well, you know now, Dolores.”

Only a few more visits on God’s eternal calendar were allowed with her. I noticed a blanket of peace wrapped her. She started reading her Bible.

I can only imagine the relief she felt in those last days of her life. Going to bed was no longer a torment and one night that’s where she slipped into Jesus’ arms. The place where the Holy spirit had captured her attention ended up as a place of peaceful passage to her heavenly home.

HOPE had come to Dolores.

Praise be to the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ! In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…I Peter 1:3-4

 

Finally Forgiven and Free

It was a summer evening in a satellite prison when we connected with Cassidy. Middle-aged, postured to disappear into the doorway where she leaned; her brown hair draped loosely around her neck and shoulders and a slight smile on her worn face, she stood patiently.

My husband, Clark, and I were there to interview women as potential residents into a transitional home where we serve.

We greeted Cassidy and gathered in a small, sparsely furnished room of 4 plastic chairs and a table to get to know her.

As the interview began, Clark asked her to tell us her spiritual background. Some recent experiences in a large prison and even a baptism there were reported in a soft voice. She went on to speak of attending church services in prison she was now in. Yet, instead of bringing clarity, more questions came to mind. I think our problem was how impersonal the experiences appeared to be to her. We inquired of her upbringing, searching for more answers.  Church or Christian background was minimal. After listening and finding no path to Jesus, I launched a question to her. “Ok, Cassidy, so who is Jesus to you?” As her head drooped, tears cascaded down her face. In a raspy voice, she said, “well, ma’am. I’m not really sure.”

This let us know one thing for sure. She had been chasing God, trying to find Him through religious meetings, but she had not found Him for herself.

We explained this spiritual dilemma which struck a chord with her. I assured her, given the fact she was searching for God, she would undoubtedly find Him. Clark began to go through the scriptures using a tract, and her tears increased as she understood who she was concerned about who God is. As moments passed, her spirit continued to soften. It was apparent she was hearing what her soul needed. The presence of the Holy Spirit accompanied our talk, and soon Cassidy’s humbled voice prayed a prayer of salvation. Understanding who she was talking to and what only He could do for her engulfed her.

When she was finished, she wrote her spiritual birthday on the tract as proof of her eternally significant prayer. We gave her some “assignments” so she could interact with God’s Word and also some assurances and promises for the days ahead. We walked away in the summer twilight, knowing the search for God was over for Cassidy. Peace and gratitude looked good on her. In stripes or not, she had finally found the One who would give her identity beyond her past. She was…finally forgiven and free.

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Now the LORD is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17