I pray each of you are enjoying the blessings of God today!
As we get ready for another Bible study, I challenge you to pick up your shovels and get ready to dig in to find the treasure in God's Word.
We have been studying about our fleshly nature or our carnal selves. I haven't heard back from many of you, so I hope you have completed that assignment. The whole point of our previous lesson was for each of us to understand that the Word of God says to "die to our self" and our desires.
The power of salvation comes through death. Jesus died so that we might have life. When we die to ourselves, we then can accept the life Jesus offers us and live an abundant life eternally.
I am not so sure if today is going to come out as a Bible study or a devotion, but I have things on my heart that I want to share.
I read a series of books by Ted Dekker (who by the way is my most favorite author of all times) called the Martyr series. The theme throughout the three books is- "In loving we die and in dying we live." The characters learn that when you truly love someone, you are willing to die for them, and it is at that moment -when you are willing to die for someone else, that you really begin to live."
It is very simple, yet very profound - and at the same time, hard to live out in every day life. Our affluent and self-centered culture can consume our lives. If we are not careful, we will buy into the philosophy that preaches material gain and daily comfort. But, what does God's Word say about trials and persecutions?
- Read 2 Corinthians 8:2; Hebrews 11; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 4:12; and 2 Timothy 3:12.
I don't know how to say what is on my heart without sharing this personal story, so please bear with me. Most of you know the story of Taylor's birth, but for the sake of those who do not know, please allow me to briefly summarize.
I was 29 weeks into my pregnancy. Because Mackenzie had been premature and because I was over 35, I was in the weekly office visit stage. I weighed in and had gained 14 pounds in 6 days! They immediately scheduled an ultra sound to investigate. Literally 5 seconds into the ultra sound, they sent me to the hospital because of the mass amount of fluid in my womb and in Taylor's abdomen.
To make a long story short, Taylor was not expected to live. We had to make the decision to allow them to treat her in the womb or to induce labor and let them try to treat her out of the womb. After prayer we felt God wanted to her out of my womb so they could work on her. The doctor's words echoed in our head, "Your baby will die whether we treat her in the womb or induce labor. The was no chance of a live birth."
My unborn child was going to die??? I would never see her smile. Never hear her laugh. I would never know what her voice would sound like. I would never take her to her first day of school? Never buy her a pretty dress for a special day? The room begin to spin and I reached for Rusty's hand. It was trembling. I looked in his eyes and saw the heartbreaking pain. The doctor left the room for us to have a few minutes. We clung to each other as if we were about to fall off of a cliff, both trying hard to be brave for the other one. We prayed a simple prayer and felt God's peace in allowing them to induce labor the next day.
The night before she was born, I had to make a decision. I had to decide where I stood with God regardless of the outcome. My heart was broken. I was scared. Rusty was scared. We were leaning with our whole hearts on our Mighty God. But before I sound like a "super spiritual saint", please know I battled that night.
I struggled with all of the normal questions. "Why?" "What have I done wrong?" "Why are you doing this to me?" "How could this be happening?" "I thought You would always take care of us?"
As tears streamed down my face and my heart breaking in two, feeling as if a giant elephant was sitting on my back, I heard God's gentle whisper, "Will you still love me passionately and worship me if Taylor dies?" "Will you trust me no matter what?" "Will you still serve me with your whole heart?"
I couldn't answer right away. I lay on the side of the bed. My heart was beating so hard I thought it would wake up Rusty next to me. My pillow and my hair was wet with the tears that had fallen continuously for over an hour. I heard the question and I didn't know if I could take another breath. This was it! This was a climatic moment in my walk with God. I had served Him almost my whole life. I had "surrendered all" so many times in altar calls I couldn't even count them. I had promised to follow Him all of my days. BUT - what if the all powerful God I served chose not to intervene and not to heal my unborn child? Could I still passionately pursue that God? Would I?
The clock beside ticked seconds that seemed like eternity. I knew this was not a question that I could just raise my hand in the emotion of the moment and say, "Yes, Jesus!" This question my Creator posed before me was one that placed my faith at the ultimate crossroad.
I was afraid to breathe. My hand traced my swollen abdomen. This little heartbeat had been inside of me for seven months. How would I handle not bringing home a baby from the hospital? - not seeing her take her first steps. - not having to change the diapers I had already bought. - taking the infant car seat out of my car not having a need for it?
Would I still serve God passionately? I knew I would still serve Him, but would I always have a resentment in my heart?
I wish I could say I knew immediately that I would love God no matter what. But it didn't happen that way. I had to choose. I had to make a choice to love Him and worship and adore Him regardless of the outcome the next day. I had to choose to let go of what I thought was a happy, normal life in order to let God be in ultimate control.
With a coarse, breaking voice, I whispered, "Help me, Jesus!" At that moment the floodgates of heaven released a torrent of peace that swept through my very soul. In that moment I knew I would passionately adore my Jesus no matter what the outcome. I knew He would strengthen me and help me. I literally lay my wishes, hopes, desires, and my very soul in His arms. When I "died" to what I wanted to happen, I felt more alive than I ever had before.
You may be at a crossroad in your life. You may have financial struggles that are weighing so heavy you feel as if you can't move. You may have teenagers that are wringing the very joy from every part of your life.
The frustration and bitterness is beginning to build. "Why isn't God showing up?" "Why can't He just do one small miracle for me this time?" "Why is He not answering my prayers?"
Can you let go completely, and say truthfully in your heart -
"Even if I have to declare bankruptcy, I will gladly worship and adore my Savior!"
"Even if my child continues the path he has chosen, I will gladly worship and adore my Savior!"
"If I never get another answer to prayer again, I will passionately pursue and love my Jesus!"
And that my friends is when you really begin to live. John 10:10 says "....but I have come that they might have life and have if more abundantly."
Okay, so I have shared with you one of the darkest moments of my life. What will you do with your situation? I challenge you to go back and read our scriptures from the last Bible study. Will you die to self on a daily basis? - even in the small stuff?
I leave you with my favorite scripture of all.
With a heart of worship,