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God Has Given Us Strength

God Has Given Us Strength

Today I want to talk to you a little bit about what’s been going on for us. My incredible husband and I have been pastoring for two years now. We took our first church in July 2017, a few weeks before we tied the knot. We left that church in June of 2018 and moved an hour and a half away into Virginia, to fall in love with our second congregation. Now, we are planning to leave, mid-June, to go back to Tennessee where we started. We are planning to step out of full-time, solo pastoral ministry. It was a tough decision but one we had to make for our mental, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing as well as for the good of our marriage. In a couple weeks I will give you a window into what it’s been like, a little bit about the struggles and the incredible victories that have taken place in the past two years. Right now, I want to talk to you, love, about waiting, staying faithful, and more waiting.

I would wait to write this blog to you until after our wait is over to say, hey, look how great it all was! But we always hear those stories, right? The ones that we walk in at the end of and all the suffering is over and the celebration has just begun. The ones that we look at and don’t actually believe it was all that hard because a lot of times, even the people who went through it don’t remember all the pain. It’s like labor; I’ve heard it said that child birth is some of the most extreme, excruciating pain known to human-kind. However, the second the mother sees her child, she forgets the agony she was in moments before. Many times, I think, we do this in difficult seasons. So, here I am, inviting you into the waiting with me, with us.

We have 19 days left in Virginia. 19 days left with some of the best people, in a small town that we have cried in, sweated in, and worked our butts off in. 19 days to pack up our whole house, all our belongings, 19 days to find a new place to live, new jobs and gear up for a new adventure.

You might be like, hold up chick-a-dee. You waited until you were 19 days away from all that to get jobs and a home nailed down? WOW, you guys are last minute.

LOL.

Yeah, we’ve waited on God until T minus 19 days and we will keep waiting on Him until day 0. Why you ask? WHY?

Psh, I mean because… well because He’s given us no choice.

Yep. Not a one. I know right, you thought I was gonna ride off into a delusional sunset on my high horse. Nope. I WISH I was just sitting here waiting on the Lord to deliver, all calm cool and collected and a lot less like a certain feathery creature who’s just lost it’s head… I really don’t know why we use that analogy, it’s kind of morbid… regardless. You could say there’s been stress. You could say there has been breakdowns and blubber-fests on the kitchen floor when we feel like we’ve just got nothing left. No energy, no future prospects, no nothin’. There have been days that I’ve woken up, made coffee and then been like, what is even the point of starting this day? It’s just going to be one more day of no change. We have applied for every job that Indeed, Glassdoor and your mom has to offer. We have been interviewed, been called and been left to dry in a very dry state of soul. Now here we sit, 19 days out. Staring into a detail-less future and all we have to hold onto in God’s promises- that He provides for His people and that He will take care of us. John and I put our “yes” on the table when we met each other and fell in love. Our yes to wherever God wanted to send us, whenever, however. We committed ourselves to the Lord. I cannot lie though that lately we have questioned if doing that gets you here, a seemingly bleak and dry place to be. But I think that we as humans also do this thing where we forget the good things in the midst of the bad. We are just so big picture focused sometimes, whether it’s focusing on the victory after the struggle and forsaking the struggle along with all its blood sweat and tears or focusing so much on the endless wait that we miss the little victories and blessings along the way. So, I have to stop and show you how faithful our God is and has been through and through.

Let me tell you Lady, every time we have felt completely used up, dried out, like we can’t go anymore, God has given us the strength to go on. To enter into the next day and do it all over again. Every time we have gotten to the point of inability to go another step without a drink, He has given us hydration. He brings family to stay with us or friends to surround us or prayers miraculously answered. He has not left us. He’s allowed us to struggle, He’s allowed our faith, resilience and patients to be tested but not once has He let us go. He’s made us stronger through it all, and even still being in it, we can already see that, but it’s not without a concerted effort on our part to indeed, see it. My husband started keeping this log of prayers and fills in the dates of when and how God has answered them. When he writes one down, we pick a scripture we believe informs us of God’s feelings on the issue and His promises to us. We pray using the scripture and then we worship God for all that He is going to do. It’s a powerful practice. But that’s what we see modeled in God’s Word. Moses used scripture to remind God of His promises to not destroy His people. And God didn’t (The book of Exodus, chapter 32 verses 1 through 14).

This kind of prayer changes things and we have seen it firsthand. We have truly seen some incredible things happen in this very difficult season and each time they have reminded us that God has us and it’s going to be okay. Each time we have taken a token from the experience so we can remember that God is faithful and comes through. We also see that modeled in the Word (The book of Joshua, chapter 4, verses 1 through 7).

When it comes right down to it and you are staring unemployment and homelessness in the face, do we as Christians start grasping at straws or, do we turn to our Savior, knowing that He has a plan? We have tried the former and the latter and I can definitely tell you that you’re going to spin your wheels a lot less with option number 2.

We have struggled with the idea of not being lazy bums and wanting to apply ourselves verses resting and letting God take care of it. I think that in there, there is a healthy balance. I think that we prayerfully do all we can do, apply ourselves and knock on doors and ask questions and pursue opportunities and then at the end of the day we rest, at peace with God, knowing we have used our gifts and talents to serve Him and His kingdom. Knowing we’ve done all we were permitted to do that day and not worried about what might come tomorrow (“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” Matthew chapter 6, verse 34).

It’s taken 6 months or so for this concept to actually become a reality and a practice for us.

When we hope in the Lord we’ve gotta know what He says He will do and then we have to believe Him. When push comes to shove we have to either strengthen our faith or abandon it and thank God He offers us the strength to hold steadfast and stay standing. One of the parables Jesus tells comes into play here, about building one’s house upon the rock or the sand. You might not know until the storm comes, but when it does it will become all too evident (The book of Matthew, chapter 7, verses 24 through 27).

Knowing what God says He will do for us isn’t all that hard, we just have to pick up His word and read it. And we will find things like the passage in Matthew chapter 6 where Jesus talks all about worry and anxiety and assures us that our Father will take care of all our needs.

Believing that God is going to do what He says He will do begins with knowing who God says He is and then believing that it’s true, which is a choice and a change of heart.

Then it’s staying the course.

Listen to me Lady, I know it looks bleak and hopeless, like it will never end. From one person in this season of waiting to another, I get it. But you have a choice, stay the course or ditch the faith and try to find purpose, joy and truth somewhere else, which, also from someone with experience, it’s not going to happen. God is the only one that provides those things. He is truth, He gives joy and He creates purpose. It is worth holding fast to Him because He is all there truly is.

It’s okay to question, it’s good to cry out and call out to God. I have confidence that in 19 days I will have an incredible story to tell about how God came through in ways we never imagined. I have that confidence because I know He is who He says He is and through this struggle, while it may have felt bleak, I knew my cries were being heard by Him and that none of them fell by the wayside or upon deaf ears. So, Lady, if you are waiting, keep doing it. Stay strong and stay the course and know that we are in this together. God hears you, hold fast to Him and wait on Him. It will all be worth it.

 

For Love,

Lydia

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