Friday, October 30, 2015

Your Esther 4:14 Moment

"For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time,then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: 
who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
Esther 4:14

Esther was an ordinary girl chosen by God for an extraordinary purpose.
She didn't set out for greatness.
She didn't consider herself as being anything other than everyday typical.
She was content to live an average life.

God had other plans.

As I look at the story of her life, I am amazed at the details,
and I am enthralled as I trace God's hand.

It is like connecting the dots.
Remember doing that as a child?

Growing up, we didn't have a lot of money,
but Mom and Dad made sure I had plenty to do.
One of my favorite pastimes was doing the connect-the-dot activities in my coloring books.

I was always so anxious to find out what the object would be, once all of the dots were connected.
Then, it was fun to go back and color it in after it was done.

Life is a lot like a connect-the-dot that is created as we go...step-by-step.

We take step one, as God allows it to unfold.
After we take the first step, He opens up step number two.
Once we take the second step, He permits step number three to appear.

He never shines a flashlight far enough ahead to reveal multiple steps in front of us.
How often we wish He did!
So many times, throughout life, I have longed for God to lay out a plan before me
that would include the next several years.

While life is happening, it seldom makes sense.
But, once it occurs, and we look back in retrospect, we can see why step number one
had to happen before step number two, step number two had to take place before step number three, etc.

I find it intriguing to connect the dots that comprise the completed picture of Esther's life.
It never ceases to amaze me how God deliberately ordered her steps from the very beginning,
strategically placing her where she would be most adequately enabled and available to make the most powerful and effective difference, when it mattered the most.

He looked ahead and saw the impending annihilation of His people.
He prepared a heart.
A heart that was courageous, in spite of fear.
A heart that was strong, in spite of jeopardy.
A heart that regarded the lives of her people more than her own comfort.
A heart that was willing, in spite of personal sacrifice.

We see Esther as she takes the daring step to come before her king husband's throne, uninvited.

What we may have failed to see are the many steps that led up to her step before the throne...
the dots, if you will, that had been connected beforehand that led up to that moment.

Every happening, every circumstance, every trial, heartbreak, and hardship of Esther's life
had led her to what Mordecai referred to as "such a time as this".

Nothing that happened to her heretofore was by accident.
Losing her parents and being left an orphan at a young age,
taught her the preciousness and value of human life,
and how it feels to be plunged into the painful, devastating throes of grief.
Being uprooted from life as she knew it to be relocated in the home of her cousin, Mordecai,
who spent his days in the king's court,
instilled in her the ability to accept change that was against her will and beyond her control.
Hearing Mordecai's stories of palace happenings at the end of a long day,
prepared her for what living life as a royal would be like.

What about her failures?
Surely she had them.
She was human.
Could there have been moments of doubt, questioning her lot as an orphan?
We see her as this stellar hero of the faith,
but what about those times she may have slipped, picked herself back up by the sandal straps,
and pressed on, regardless....before the moment of her Bible-worthy triumph?
We remember Esther because of her strength.
Could there have been a lifetime of weakness she had to overcome to attain that strength?

The everyday, seemingly mundane events, along with the happenings of larger consequence,
were all working together to prepare Esther for the fulfillment of her life's purpose.

And, so it goes with you, my friend...and me.
We are like clay in the hands of a Potter Who has a completed product in view
as He spins the wheel.
Some turns around the wheel are sharp-cutting and piercing,
but the pain prepares us for our life's calling in ways unseen at the time.

I want to take a stroll with you down memory lane, if you will.
Care to join me?
Some spots are not going to be easy to revisit, but we'll go together.
Here, take my hand.

Let's go back to those moments you thought you would never make it through.
The dark places.
The lonely nights.
The broken-heartedness.
The big, black, ugly secret...
you know...that one...the one you keep hidden from the view of the ones who know you now. 
The glaring failures.
The not-so-glaring ones.
The times you doubted so much you wondered where God was...
or if He even exists at all...
and if He does exist, how He could love you and still allow that to happen to you.
The day you cried so hard you could cry no more, and no one even noticed the tracks of your tears...
or cared enough to mention your red face or swollen eyes.
That time you were passed over and made to feel invisible for the hundredth time.
That moment you wanted to scream in self defense,
but the agony smothered your anguished voice.
The night you cried yourself to sleep because the guilt over what you did that day was overwhelming.
The aftermath of the afternoon you walked away from the freshly-dug grave,
the smell of funeral flowers, and the remains of one you held more dear to you than life itself.
That time you were rejected, after it taking weeks to muster the courage to put yourself out there like that.
The day you were told you were not good enough...and never would amount to anything.
That night you made a choice you will never stop regretting.

Bad choices.
Failure stacked on failure.
Wrong turns.

Haven't we all been there?
Who among us can say we have never sinned?
Or fallen?
Or had life crush the very air out of us?
Whose closet among us hides no skeletons?
Which one of us harbors no regret?

A common thread is woven throughout and among us all.
Broken humanity.
Created by a loving Potter Who knows He will have to allow us to reach a place of brokenness,
in order to make us over again....and Who goes on loving us anyway.
(Jeremiah 18:1-6)

God has seen every wrong turn.
Every moment we walked away from Him.
Every act of rebellion.
Every mess-up...both unintentional and those on purpose.

He has watched.
And though we have all broken His heart, He lingers.
He waits until we reach our breaking points...of brokenness,
and we do an about face, as the realization dawns upon us that we have reached the end of the road,
and we can run no farther.
So, we turn around, and we see the Potter's house,
and we find Him waiting still.
Longing in His eyes.
Welcome in His smile.
Genuine warmth in His embrace.

And, He lets us know we are worth more to Him than His Own life.
And, He points our eyes to the scene behind Him...just over His shoulder.
And, it is a cross.

Splintered and jagged.
Where He took our sin...and our hurt...and our disappointments
and opened His arms wide and said, "These reproaches are Mine."

Everything that has happened in your past has led you to this place, my friend.
Where you are right now...reading these words.
Nothing has been happenstance...or coincidence.

And, now you step forward to your own Esther 4:14 moment,
checkered past and all.
You are equipped, because you've been there.
You've lived the sting.
You've breathed the remorse.
You've swallowed the hurt.
You've buried the beloved.

God was there...through it all....not always preferring it, but allowing it, just the same.

If video doesn't load, click here.

He knows all about it, my friend.
He knows, and He has chosen you, just the same.
And He has worked it all...every bit of it...the good, the bad, the shameful,
into a vessel, fit for His use, adequately-prepared, shiny and new.
And you are His Esther!
And this is your time!
And now is the moment!
For you to shine.

Whether you are a man, woman, boy, or girl, 
God has placed you where you are in His Kingdom...
"for such a time as this."
This, my friend, is YOUR Esther 4:14 moment.

God is raising up an army of Esthers who will not bow, who will not bend, who will not burn.
Who will toss complacency aside.
Who will shake off the temptation to bury their heads.
Who will walk forward, out of the ashes of apathy and excuses,
 and take that giant leap of faith God is seeking.
Who will take personal responsibility.
Who will say, as Esther said two verses later, 
"If I perish, I perish."
Esther 4:16

Embrace your past, checkered parts and all,
and realize that without it, you would not be the person you are today.
Trace God's hand.
Connect the dots...of your life's picture, and find the beauty there.
Instead of focusing on and obsessing over the ugly dots, or gloating over the dots that conjure pride,
look at the whole, and realize that, to God, you are a work of art.
His masterpiece.
A beautiful vessel, fitted and ready for Him to fully use.

Shake off the guilt and remorse.
Jesus allowed your sins...and be nailed to His cross...
to never be brought up against us again.
Praise You, Jesus!
We are forgiven!
Pardoned from death row.
In the nick of time.

Let go of your past.
It already happened.
At the end of the day. it has all worked together for good to serve a glorious purpose.
Now, you are ready and fully-equipped.

"If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, 
sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work."
2 Timothy 2:21

That's you, dear friend.
This is where you are.
The Master needs you.
Time's a wastin'.
Your people are in trouble.
Your nation stands at the brink of disaster.
Souls are at stake.
Generations to follow cry out for your faithfulness.
There are those in your life, your circle, your realm of influence,
who desperately need to know that you once stood where they now sink.
And you made it through, all glory to God!!

Your testimony is unique...and much-needed to be told.
Your role in this is vital.
No one else can fill your shoes.
You must put them on, wear them...and step forward.
Don't waste another moment looking back.
The past is over.
You have come full circle, and you, by God's amazing grace, are enough.

Embrace your Esther 4:14 moment, 
and now, go do what He is asking you to do!

Friday, October 23, 2015

What About Hur?

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
I Corinthians 15:58

The spiritual warfare in which my family and I have been engaged is intense.
A lot of my part of it has been inward turmoil that results from my own need to analyze and figure out what God is doing in our lives.
I have this innate need to do and scurry and make things happen.
In my conscientious nature there lies a heavy sense of responsibility...
like I am supposed to make sure everything goes right and turns out the way it is supposed to.
Like I really have the ability to do that or have any control over anything....

Spiritual warfare is made up of individual battles.

There is this one, united war, but it is divided into many unique confrontations with the enemy.

This morning's round has been violent.
His continual, steady incidents of attack have been particularly cruel and specifically targeted.
Unfortunately, he knows me.
He knows where to aim.
He senses the slightest spot of vulnerability.
He has no mercy.
The aim of his fiery darts is precise.
I have felt weakened from the incessant need to hold on to my shield of faith.
The constant flow of incoming fire has left not an instant of reprieve.
I am exhausted from the continual pounding, and my arms are tired.

Remember Moses?

If anyone ever felt the weight of heavy arms, it was Moses.

We find the specific part of the story I am speaking of in Exodus 17:10-13.
The battle was long.
His men were looking to him.
To be strong.
To stay focused.
To remain encouraged.
To continue to believe that the eventual outcome would be victory.
His job was to stand on top of the hill at Rephidim and hold the rod of God in his upraised hands.
Joshua and his mighty army were fighting the Amalekites down below the hill,
and Moses, along with two faithful companions, Aaron and Hur, had climbed the hill and were elevated to a point where Joshua and his men had a clear visual of them.

"As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, 
but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 
 When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. 
Aaron and Hur held his hands up--one on one side, one on the other--so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword."

I think it is an amazing thing that God did not allow Moses to climb that hill alone.
He knew Moses was human.

"For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust."
Psalm 103:14

"O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.
Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off.
Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways."
Psalm 139:1-3

"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: 
but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken."
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Another thing that I find amazing is this...
God didn't send just one supporter for Moses....
He sent two.
Because Moses had two arms.
Both arms needed to be raised.
God knew that this situation would require a threefold cord...
three men who, together, would not give up until the victory was completely won.
The soldiers needed to have clear visibility.
It was imperative for Moses to be all in and to stay all the end...with both arms raised.
God knew what...and who....and how many Moses needed.
To keep Him encouraged.
To provide necessary support.
To enable him to fulfill his mission.
To force him to persevere and to not allow him to give in to the temptation to quit.
To remind him of what God had told him to do.
To hold him accountable to his calling.
To help him see the battle through all the way to a victorious end.
So, God sent two men with Moses, as he climbed that hill.
One was his brother, Aaron, an obvious choice, for several reasons.

Aaron was dependable.
He was by Moses' side from minute one.
He was chosen by God to be Moses' mouthpiece when Moses complained to God that he 
wasn't able to speak eloquently.
Though Aaron was three years older than Moses,
you never detect a hint of sibling rivalry or jealousy or questioning why he wasn't "the chosen one", instead of his younger brother with the checkered past.
Aaron knew his role.
It was to support Moses.
He fulfilled his role faithfully, humbly, and without questioning.

That day on the hilltop, it made perfect sense for Aaron to be on one side of Moses.
What better choice could God have made than to pick Aaron to be the one who held up one of Moses' hands?

But, what about the guy on the other side?
What about Hur?
What do we know about him?

I spent a good deal of time trying to figure out who exactly Hur was.
The name "Hur" is mentioned in other Scriptural references,
such as in Exodus 24:14, when he and Aaron were left in charge of the people
while Moses went up Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from God.
Josephus mentions that Hur was married to Moses' sister, Miriam,
which would have made him Moses' brother-in-law,
but I could find no Scriptural proof to support this.

Since I cannot give concrete Biblical proof, I dare not make assumptions,
and we will just have to omit speculation and accept what we do know as fact.

A man named Hur was chosen to go with Moses and Aaron up that hill,
and even if he is the same Hur that is mentioned in other places,
the other mentions do not make him a prominent figure in the Old Testament.

Either way, Hur is somewhat obscure.
As far as we know, his life was somewhat ordinary.

Thank God, He chooses to use the ordinary to do extraordinary things.

On this day, Hur's job could not have been more important.
Had he not been there, the man of God would not have had adequate support,
and the chosen people of God would have lost a major battle.

Have you ever wondered what Hur thought of his assignment?
Could he have yearned to have Joshua's job,
loyally and heroically leading his men on the battlefield below?
Was he wishing he were one of Joshua's soldiers,
facing the enemy head on, engaged in hand to hand combat?
Did he deem Aaron's role of much greater esteem and feel inadequate standing next to him on that hill?
Did he feel invisible?
Did he wish he were God's chosen leader...
did he long to be the man whose hands he supported?
Is it possible that he thought his job of making sure the prophet's hands remained held high
was of such insignificant, unimportant nature, it was hardly worth doing?

I can't say what Hur was thinking, because his thoughts are not recorded.
What I can say, is that he was faithful.
He absolutely fulfilled his mission.
He was available when God needed him, and he took his assignment seriously.
He didn't shirk his duty or refuse to do what was asked of him.

And, you and I are still reading about Hur all these thousands of years later.
We still peruse this story, and we remember him and his faithfulness.
And we wonder about him...his life, his family, his hopes, his dreams.

Standing there on that hill with Moses may have seemed like an inconsequential event in the life of Hur.
Yet, it made the pages of God's Holy Word.
Nothing in God's Word is of little significance.
Every Word that proceeds out of His mouth is of utmost importance.
And every Word is relevant to our times.

Hur's story is pertinent to your story...and mine.

May I ask you a personal question?
Of all of the men involved in the story of the battle of Amalek,
to which do you most closely relate?

Is it the foot soldiers on the ground, 
who must have consistently lifted their eyes to see if Moses' hands were still upraised?
Is it Joshua, the fearless under-leader, who also looked diligently toward the hill?
Is it Aaron, the prominent, well-known first high priest and brother of Moses,
who stood holding up the hand of his brother, the man of God?
Is it Moses, the steadfast, faithful leader of God's chosen people,
who was fatigued, exhausted, and in dire need of support?
Or is it Hur, the nearly-unheard-of, quiet, unsung hero of this story,
who may have thought his job was of little importance, yet, without whose contribution to the equation would have changed the outcome.

Are you a foot soldier in God's army?
A spiritual leader of other foot soldiers?
The one who all eyes are upon,
the one upon whom so many depend for encouragement?
Are you the one who holds things together,
who valiantly remains, regardless how uncomfortable things get?
Do you feel invisible and insignificant?
Are you in the background lending support to and steadying the arms of the man of God?
Do you wish to have a different role?

God knows you...inside and out.
He sees your potential.
He instilled your personality.
He recognizes your strengths...and weaknesses.
He orchestrates your circumstances accordingly.

Whether He has you in a role similar to Joshua, Aaron, Hur, one of the unnamed fighting soldiers,
or even Moses,
He knows what He is doing.
He never makes a mistake or calls the wrong person to do a job.

You are beautiful in His eyes, my friend.
He cares about the smallest, most minute detail of your life.
He has called you, and He has endowed you with gifts that match your calling.

What you do may seem hugely important to you.
Or what you do may seem hardly worth the effort.

But, what you do is beyond precious to God.

He doesn't call us all to do the same thing.
This would create imbalance in His Kingdom.

"If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? 
If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?
But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be."
I Corinthians 12:17,18

He places us in our unique, individual mission fields based upon where we can most effectively use the gifts He has given us, and where we can shine for Him the brightest.

Whether your lot be to stand and preach to thousands, holding high the "rod of God",
persevering through your own pain and exhaustion for the sake of those who look to you for strength,
or whether your lot is to stand beside and support the one whom God has placed in that position,
your job is of equal significance in the eyes of God.
Whether you are on the front lines of battle or off in a place of seclusion,
you are where you are by His Divine design.
Whether the whole world knows your name or you are recognized only by the ones who call you "Mama", you are making an eternal, amazingly important difference.

Stand firm, and be encouraged, dear friend.
Don't give up the fight.
God esteems your post of duty, regardless what it is or where it is located, 
as an assignment that is worth the effort, and He will reward you for being faithful.

"The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel,
under Whose wings thou art come to trust."
Ruth 2:12

I want to encourage you to press on...wherever you are, whatever your circumstances.
You are important.
Your lot in life is significant.
God values you so much that He sent His only Son to bring to you a more abundant life.
(John 10:10)
All of Heaven is cheering for you.
You are the apple of God's eye.  
(Deuteronomy 32:10 & Zechariah 2:8)

Moses, the man of God....Hur, the unsung supporter....
both of them faithful to their post...
both of them equally loved by our Lord....
both of them now members of Heaven's hall of fame.

One day you will be inducted too, my friend.
Stay faithful to God.
Reward day is coming!

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
Galatians 6:9

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Still Standing

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, 
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

It just occurred to me this morning that on October 1st, 
Homespun Devotions just passed its four year annblogiversary!
Has it really been that long?
Oh, doesn't seem possible.
So much has changed.
So much is better.
So much water has flowed under the bridge...
water that I am glad to know is behind, instead of ahead of, me.

When I started out on this blogging journey,
I didn't know if I would make it...not so much the blog,
as I really had no long-term ambitions or goals there and was merely trying to survive,
 but me.
I honestly didn't know if I would make it.
I wasn't sure I would survive the onslaught of circumstances we were living through.
Then, 7 months and 27 days after Homespun Devotions was birthed,
God called my dear, sweet Mom home to Heaven.

Oh, the grief!
That, on top of the other anguish my family and I were experiencing, just about did me in.
With each new step, I have slowly and gradually regained life and strength...
and courage, and in this process, I have proven over and over again,

During the four years I have been writing Homespun Devotions,
God has shown His love to us in countless ways.
He has permitted us to rest in green pastures.
He has led us beside still waters.
In the process, He has restored our souls.
He has made my heart soft.  (Job 23:16)
I can honestly say I have never loved Him more.

I want to thank each one of you for walking this path with me.
For holding my feet to the fire, when I wanted to quit.
For encouraging me countless times...
through your sweet emails and your cherished public comments left on the blog.

I feel I have come to know so many of you.
Many of your names are on my prayer list, and I lift you to the Father on a regular basis.
I am continually astonished at the many precious friends God has introduced and brought into my life
because of this blog over the course of the past four years.
Had He never led my family and me down the radical path He has chosen for us,
I would more than likely have never started this blog,
and I would never have met any of you.
I would have missed out on so much and so many relationships that consistently enrich my life
and walk with Jesus.

For several years, my family and I have consistently prayed the prayer of Jabez, 
found in I Chronicles 4:10.

" Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! 
And God granted him that which he requested."

And God has granted us that which we have requested.
Surely our coast has been enlarged!

I could not be more grateful.

It's been several days since I posted here.
I know it must seem that I have fallen off the face of the earth!
Thank you to those who have written and expressed concern.
It means more to me than I could ever express, and I promise,
I will get back with you as soon as I can.

To be honest, I have started several blog posts, only to be deterred
and even discouraged, to the point that I have just walked away,
wondering if I would ever finish one again.

There is so much going on and so much on my heart right now,
it is hard to write anything rational.

When you come by here and take time out of your busy day to read,
I want the words you find on this screen to matter.
I want them to challenge you to walk closer to Jesus 
and to become more active, and definitely more proactive, in your Christian journey.
I want the words to encourage you to press on and to stay the course.

I once heard a minister say, as he stood up to preach,
"I don't have to say something, but I do have something to say."

 I love that, and it stuck with me.

He had something to say because God, through His precious Holy Spirit, had placed it upon his heart.

 I don't want what I say here to just be idle words.
I don't want to post unless God prompts me to post.
I don't have to say something.
I want what you read here to be HIS words...
thoughts that He has placed upon my heart...
thoughts that He presents...that flow through my fingers as I type.

What else matters?
What else will last for eternity?
Other than what God feels, says, and reveals?

One thing I have learned, during this blogging/ministerial journey,
is that, oftentimes, God takes me through an experience or a trial, 
because He wants me to share the lessons He teaches while going through it.

Even if I don't feel led or at liberty to give exact details,
I can always share the lessons, in hopes that they will bless you and teach you, too.

This morning, I was so heavy-laden in prayer.
Just so weighted down, filled with so much uncertainty and so many questions.

As I prayed, He spoke.

"Child, imagine that you could find a person who knows you, your husband, and your child
inside out.
One who sees the deepest desires of your hearts, your dreams, the things that fulfill you,
the things that make you happiest, the things that make your life abundant.
Imagine that this person also sees the future and every available situation and circumstance,
and this person would be willing to take the time to match your family with the most fulfilling situation.
Wouldn't you want to trust this person?
Wouldn't you go to them and release your fears to them?
Wouldn't you allow them to take over and orchestrate and introduce the best possible circumstances
for you, your husband, and your child?
I AM that Person.
I see every detail of your lives.
Every desire in your hearts.
I also see the other side.
I see what would absolutely be best for the three of you.
I see the path that would most fulfill you and allow you to be most effectively used in My Kingdom.
And, it is my desire to bring the two elements together...the three of you and the right circumstances.
But, you must relinquish control.
What control do you really have anyway?
Can you guarantee anything?
Now, I want you to picture yourself with a 50 pound appliance strapped to your back.
It is so heavy and cumbersome and hard to cope with.
You never take it off.
It is ever present...when you sit, when you stand, when you lie down.
Now imagine a strong man coming along...a father-figure type...
and calling you "daughter" and asking you to allow him to unstrap the appliance,
so you can walk away free and unencumbered.
You ponder his offer.
It is tempting.
Oh, how you would like to feel free and be rid of this awful burden!
But, you are afraid he will not handle the appliance the way you do.
You nurture it and protect it and always put it first.
You make sure it is never damaged, and it is completely safe.
You just don't feel that this man, no matter how noble his intentions,
would ever be as careful with the appliance as you are,
so you refuse his offer.
You long to give in and let him take it off your back,
but holding the control over that appliance, regardless how heavy it is,
is just too important to you, so you walk away, 
bowed down, back aching, and feet tired.
And you continue to carry the load....
even though someone else has willingly, even eagerly offered, to take it off your back.
On you plod, dejected, exhausted, and without hope of reprieve.
Child, are you seeing My point?
I am in control.
I am sovereign.
Whether you relinquish your delusion of control or not.
My eye is upon you, and I am absolutely working out the details of your life.
So, why not turn loose of the burden?
Why not let it go?
Think back over your life since you handed Me the reins.  
Have I steered you wrong?
Have I ever led you astray?
Haven't I blessed you and comforted you and made a way for you where there was no way?
What makes you think I will do something different in the future than I have done in the past?"

Oh, my.
I sat my prayer chair...and I felt His love.
It was precious to me.
There were many other things He said,
some too personal to mention here.
I soaked in each word like a thirsty sponge.
I felt such a sense of relief.

I thought of my own dear, earthly, departed father,
and how he always wanted the best for me.
How he sacrificed to make sure I went to Christian schools that taught curriculum that incorporated
a strong emphasis on the Bible.
How he worked so hard for us.
I recall so many times after Kevin and I were married that we needed help in some way,
and regardless what time of night it was, or how degrading the job,
Dad was there.
He was absolutely the most humble man I have ever known.
No job was beneath him.

One of my favorite childhood memories includes my Daddy and my doll.
I named her Marsha, and she had legs that would "walk" when I stood behind her and guided her.
Those legs would often come off and become detached, and I would become so upset.
I would run to my Daddy, and he would stop whatever he was doing,
and he would sit down and "operate" on those legs, so that soon she and I were "walking" together again.

It occurred to me that, in order for him to fix the problem,
I had to hand the doll over to my earthly father.
Had I clutched it tightly and refused to trust him to care for it tenderly and fix its problems,
it would have remained broken.

As much as Dad loved me and loved to help me and was there for me always,
I know, deep in my heart, that God loves me even more.

So, why am I so reluctant to release life's problems to my Heavenly Father?
Why do I hold on to them with such a tight, white-knuckled grasp?
Why do I insist upon carrying the heavy weight on my shoulders, 
when He is standing next to me, imploring me to let Him unstrap it?

I absolutely believe that He knows what is best for my family and me.
So, why do I worry and fret and analyze and try to figure things out on my own?
When all along, He is there, working, orchestrating, and planning our next step,
basing it all on the best possible outcome for us.

God, the Father's love is unfailing.
It is unconditional.
It is contingent upon nothing.
It just is.

How frustrated He must feel as He watches my feeble, incompetent, futile attempts to fix things,
when all along, He waits and bids me hand it all over to His capable hands.

God is gentle.
He will not wrench our troubles away from us.
Instead, He softly invites us to come to Him, in the tenderest of tones.

"Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30

I Peter 5:7 says,
"Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you."

The word "cast" here means "throw".
In my mind, I picture a fishing line with a huge hook on the end.
And I envision all of my cares being dumped into a big garbage bag
and the bag being attached to the hook.
I sense the heaviness as I draw the rod back over my shoulder, 
then throw the line and hook forward, spiraling it as far into the water in front of me as I possibly can.
As I cast the line, I feel a great release, as His mighty hands reach down to remove the bag from the hook.
Suddenly, I am light and free of the burden, and a sense of His peace replaces the anxiety.

I would find no relief in just gathering my troubles and dumping them in the bag.
The deliverance comes through the casting.
It takes effort to cast our cares upon Him.
To let go.
To acknowledge that He is better able to work out our lives than we are.
To release everything over to Him.
To trust Him that much.

This morning, as He spoke to me, in that sweet, forever precious, still, small voice,
I was brought to a new place of surrender.

Surrender is a funny thing.
We think that by surrendering our all to another,
we will be brought into a form of bondage, in the process.
The truth couldn't be more opposite.
Totally-reckless abandonment of self and surrender to God brings about a complete release.
It results in a severing of chains, and a thorough liberation from enslavement.

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Four years later, I am still standing, by God's grace.
The enemy has pulled out all stops....
he has been relentless.
God is greater.
He is more powerful.
He has brought about overcoming victory time after time after time.

I may be weak...and tottery....and a bit quite trembly, at times,
but, praise His name, I am still standing.

"On Christ the solid Rock, I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand."
Edward Mote

Thank you for your love, your friendship, your encouragement,
and most of all, your prayers.

Your support of Homespun Devotions...
and of me and my family...
are priceless gifts to us.

We love each one of you so very much,
and we look forward to seeing where God takes Homespun Devotions from here!
God bless you all.