Praying into His Will

I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. ~Revelations 3:8

The day I got back from China I lost ALL my IDs. It was scary, it was freaky… but by the end of the day God assured me I was safe with Him. I still haven’t recovered them yet, but I know God’s got me because I know this is His Will to be here.

While I was in China, a guy from my church who is divorced with a daughter was one of the few who had a non-censored messaging app and we got to know each other a bit better. When I came back, he was the perfect companion for my insomnia/cold since he works nights and could text me while I was up coughing up a storm and jet lagged. Eventually he revealed he had feelings for me and wants to date.

The next day, we met up as part of a group and I mentioned that maybe I could hang out with him after a bible study and he replied maybe. 9PM rolls around and I’m at my brother’s house post-bible study where it was hosted and the guy texted me saying he was outside the church (where it is normally held) and could hang out if I wanted. He eventually revealed with prompting that his daughter was with him- I freaked out. I asked for us to take a step back and pray if this was God’s Will because to involve his daughter this early into things was more than I could handle. The weight of how things would affect her if it wasn’t God’s Will was more than I want to bear.

In all our time talking, I just couldn’t get why this guy was divorced. I asked him about his dating process with his ex-wife- decent timeline. I asked him if he prayed about her, he said yes repeatedly. I asked him if there were any warning signs and he said nothing major. I have continued to ask him about it including today… but today I think we might have found the big thing: praying into God’s Will.

He has repeatedly expressed that he has been praying to God that “I have to believe You know what You’re doing in my and [my daughter’s] life, Lord”… almost a plea to do better than before since he truly believed that God had brought his ex-wife into his life. But today I asked him one simple, but powerful question: did you pray if she was His Will?

The more we talked about her and his whole situation, the more I had the nagging suspicion that he had given God a list and asked it be fulfilled – he even had told God what name he wanted his future wife to be! To him, when this woman with his list came into his life and she even had the name he had asked for- BAM! God’s Will! But as I told him about how important it has been throughout my whole life to make sure my prayers were submitted into His Will and then ended with that question, he had to pause and could not say that he remembers actively submitting his list and his ex-wife into God’s Will, He assumed it must be because there was his list in living flesh, with even the right label!

My life has been His- step by step – even when it HURT to even THINK of things not being His Will- I have MADE myself pray that- the act of praying it into life (‘God, if this is not Your Will, please stop this, please don’t let it come to pass”)  being my way of lifting the knife to various “Isaacs” (jobs, location, schools, men; Genesis chapter 22). Each time knowing that the release of knowing that it IS His Will when things come to pass being completely freeing.

There IS a door that no one can shut but it opens only in His Will. When you are walking in the center of God’s Will, having actively submitted yourself and those things in your life into His Will, NO ONE can stop it!

Readers, 
Submit yourselves to God and His perfect Will and find yourself unstoppable. This does not mean that nothing will go wrong, but it does mean that nothing is unfixable in your life and trying times all ultimately give Him glory and work together for our good (Romans 8:28). 

Having talked with Rebekah A on this, we decided to joint blog about it so look for her Part 2 on this coming soon!

In Jesus,

Rebekah M

 

Just a Shred of Hope

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. ~ Romans 15:13

I am about to embark on a trip to China tomorrow to help an international adoption agency as one of their volunteer physicians helping to convert mandarin medical files into ones prospective American families might understand in hopes of getting these children to the right, loving families. I leave knowing it is 100% His Will that I do so. When I come back, I start a new job that is so full of so much promise.

When I think back on this year, I think of how so much of my year was marked by such darkness. Such deep pain and fear that everything would fall apart because… the only way I can explain it is my soul was feeling ripped to shreds. I myself was not ever physically hurt but something in me broke. Deep within me, at the center of my being, I was shredded by continued feelings of worthlessness, fear of the future, and a strong sense that nothing good would/could happen to me. Not because God couldn’t do it, but because I wasn’t worth God’s doing good things for me. I hadn’t committed huge sins- no drugs/sex/etc but somehow it got in my head that I was hopeless and that even God did not want to help me.

I cannot tell you how everything turned around other than “because my God is good” for how I am now living the life I lead. Everything FELL into place. I am about to leave for China tomorrow and when I return, I start a new job with incredibly supportive staff and colleagues. This is a dream job for me- incredible pay, incredible location (I am living with a 5 mile radius of work, church, and my brother and his family), and the hours are supposed to be something where I can participate in life/church.

This past summer God gave me the ability to take time off and spend it with my parents. I was able to hear my dad laugh, watch my mom cook, feel their hugs that reached all the way down. Then I moved and have spent a nice month just settling in.

Every day this month I have woken  up feeling like I was living a dream. I kept wondering when I was going to wake up and find out I was still back where I had been… but that is not reality and I’m now accepting it more and more.

I was suicidal. I wanted to die. I did not make plans but I wished for death EVERY DAY for a while… yet something in me reached out to God. I procrastinated because I feared the future and yet God STILL brought it to pass. In my darkest hours, God sent that same prophet that I have spoken of in past posts to remind me that good things were about to happen. It felt so much as times that I was beyond hope and yet what tiny sliver of hope I did have in me, I used to reach out to this God of Hope. He has proven that He is over the last few months. When I could not keep going, God helped me by doing it all. I felt I was moving a snails pace in things but they still came together. God is so good. I cannot say it enough, He is SO good.

Dear readers,

The ONLY thing that can stop us from the future God has for us is ourselves- in allowing fear to stop us from doing the things we know He wants for us to do that day. I am living proof that God provides everything we need (Matt 6:25-34); that He gives us the desires of our heart (Ps 37:4) – I didn’t say God give me x,y,z- I asked that He help give me His desires for my heart. I implore you today, if you are in a desperate situation, use what ever sliver of hope you have in you to reach out to Jesus, our God of Hope, and find Him more than able to give us above and beyond all that we could ask or think- for I am living proof of it.

So thankful for this abundant life in Him,

Rebekah M

You’re Seen. You’re Heard. You’re known (and you matter).

soul-searching

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” ~Romans 8:38-39

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you “Do not fear; I will help you.” ~ Isaiah 41:13

I don’t have much for you guys today, just a quick story. The other day I was riding the subway home, as usual. I’ve been listening to preaching lately on the commute, because I find that when I’m home I get distracted and so the subway allows me some focused time with God. But not necessarily time to pray out loud, so preaching is a good alternative. 

This particular day was similar, and I started a sermon. It didn’t resonate with me (this is unusual. I have been known to actually CRY on the subway because of sermons moving me. No I’m not kidding.). I switched to another one, trying to find the one that God had for me that day. In the end, I felt a pull to not listen to preaching, but to listen to worship instead. 

I had to download some worship apps on my phone first, but I did and I started listening. Immediately I felt the quickening in my heart. This was right where God wanted me today. Standing with my eyes closed, not drawing in intellectually or learning anything, not even actively consciously listening (I don’t think I could recall a single lyric line now)….not DOING anything. Just being with Him and letting my soul soar to the sounds of praise.

Letting my soul soar. 

And it was perfect. I felt that quickening of the spirit, and I let the music wash over me, and though my eyes were closed I saw before me a lion. The Prince of Peace Himself. It was as if the cry of my heart beckoned to Him and He came to receive and join in the song. It was the most “right” I’d felt in awhile. 

How often do we let ourselves do that? To just be free in His presence? Free from the burden of needing something or giving something or doing something. Free from asking and appealing. Free from praying the “right” way. Free to be ourselves and let our souls express what’s truly inside.

Because what’s truly inside, my friends, is beautiful. I don’t care where you are in your walk. Maybe you’ve known Jesus for years. Maybe you’re just meeting Him today. Maybe you’ve been on a righteous path for a long time; maybe you’ve fallen away from one. Maybe you’ve yet to start one. Maybe you’re broken. Maybe you’re hurting. Maybe, just maybe, you aren’t even sure if it’s worth being here in this world anymore. 

I’m here to tell you that it’s ok. It’s ok if you’ve known Him and want to sing with Him in harmony – He’ll join the refrain. It’s ok if your song is a cry of anguish – He’ll show you His peace. Behind every broken heart is a soul waiting to be restored to take flight. The point is, you’re heard. You’re known. You’re seen (even the ugly bits. He sees them. He always has. He sees the very depths of you, just like He saw it 2000 years ago and STILL – even with all the ugly – counted it worthy to die for). And you matter. Oh do you matter.

I guess my point here is, don’t hold back anymore. Draw in to Him today. Let your soul soar (or limp or even crawl, if that’s where you find yourself these days). Just don’t shut it down anymore. Don’t hide from Him. Let go of the stuff around you, shut your eyes, and let your YOU come out. Give it to Him. He is waiting to receive it. He’s waiting to hold you up. He’s waiting to walk with you, to run with you and to fly with you. There is no deed too dark for Him to see, no place where He can’t reach you.

You’re seen. You’re heard. You’re known.

And you, beloved….you matter. 

God bless and know that I am praying for you.

~Rebekah A

 

In His Timing

I’ve been asked to speak at church tomorrow and was going to put some thoughts down here about it (the topic being the above title) but had asked the guy I’m interested in the most if he’d be willing to be my soundboard and now I’m just… In our discussion about seeking to do things in God’s timing, he brought up that he actually had just bought a house. When I heard that it changed how often I would likely see him, my heart just… hurt. I had felt like finally, finally I might know for sure if something could happen between us and now… I wish I could just get over him but I just can’t seem to shake my attraction. He sent me a link and there are things about his house that looked VERY much like things I had posted to pintrest years ago for my dream house… I even looked at those posts again for this blog and it is painfully similar.

I want to just forget him.

I wish I could just finally have my heart free of this man who has me so far in the back of his mind he doesn’t even tell me he got a house.

I wish that seeing pictures of his new house didn’t make me simultaneously hope he’s actually my Isaac while also wanting to run, as fast and as far away from a guy who hasn’t spoken to me in 2 weeks and the silence only broke when I texted him to see if he’d be my soundboard.

I wish that part of me didn’t feel so let down that he no longer will be attending my brother’s church on a weekly basis and therefore I have no clue how often I’ll see him. When I asked “so does that mean I’ll never see you?” (mainly because I have a hard time thinking when I speak to him so the filter is just… gone haa!) he only said things about how he might visit the church from time to time since his brother still does as well to keep up the fellowship (they don’t have sunday night services and his brother is his pastor).

I hate how it has made me realize what level of hope I had that maybe something would finally, finally change between us is broken.

I have not posted in SO long- I have been plagued by SEVERE depression- I was passively suicidal, barely getting out of bed, almost quit multiple times. Through God’s grace I finished residency, ended up with a job that pays amazingly well and it starts in a few months.

I finally have time to put myself back together. To search through what broke me so badly. To finally deal with how the shock of my father’s cancer diagnosis was so devastating to me that, even though by God’s miracle a cancer known to kill within mere months was found early enough to be completely taken out by surgery, my heart and mind have been in a state of fear and only tonight at lady’s prayer did I start to finally feel God wash over me like He had in the past.

I told God today that I was leaving my future husband in His hands. 

The irony as I remember that hits me.

Lord,
I place this back into Your hands. I want to run. I want to erase his number from my phone and walk away. Run away more like it. But I feel you tell me to be still. Lead me in focusing on me and what You have for me to do- in reaching out to others and finding Your daily appointment with me. That moment I believe we all have in our day to be Yours hands and feet. Help me live in Your timing. 

Rebekah M.

Breaking Out of the Box

Hi everyone! Rebekah A here. I took a long break from blog posting, most notably to focus on planning my wedding and doing all the fun wedding-planning crafts that it entailed, but something happened to me the other day that I just have to share with you all – however many of you are still reading this. 

I was riding the subway home from work the other day, much like any other day, standing because let’s be real: it’s NYC during rush hour and my stop is in the middle of the line. No seats to be found. Ever. Anyway, a homeless woman boarded the train, much like any other homeless woman. She sat in a seat facing me, and then moved to a seat behind me. Then she moved again, to the other side of the train. She glared at me as she passed. 

I WANTED her to know how valuable she is. I WANTED her to know that I saw her. I WANTED her to know that she matters. And so…..I smiled at her. She glared, and continued to the other side of the train. I heard her yell out “hey b***h in the blue dress, I ain’t your f***ing daughter.”. Well….I was the only one on the train in a blue dress, and it’s true: she was indeed not my daughter. 

I’ve talked to a bunch of people about this incident, and everyone has a reason why it happened and why it’s to be expected. She was mentally ill, it’s New York City, sometimes when people are so beaten down by the world and in the grip of the enemy they’re uncomfortable being seen and noticed. 

I get that. But in the moment it felt very spiritually profound. This encounter mattered. And I pondered it for awhile – if there were less of me and more of Jesus, would it have showed in my smile? Would it have mattered to this woman? Would she have felt love rather than discomfort? I realized that it doesn’t matter what I want to tell her, it doesn’t matter what I want her to feel. What matters is what JESUS wants her to know. 

And the more I thought about it the more I realized something else. The point to this entire encounter, the REASON why it felt so profound, is this: Jesus does not want to be bound by the constraints of the world. Yes, she was mentally ill, it’s expected and even commonplace for her to cry out; Jesus wants to transcend that. Yes, I only had a split second of eye contact with her and it’s hardly time for a deep conversation or prayer; Jesus wants to transcend time. Yes she’s in the grip of the enemy and beaten down by life; Jesus wants to transcend that. Mental illness? He’s the great physician! A split second, a quick glance? Jesus is the author of time! In the grip of the enemy? Jesus already overcame the enemy!

In the moment, and after the fact, all I could hear was the cry of my heart, a still small voice telling me that Jesus wants to move beyond the extraneous stuff. The world is going to be its normal broken self, cloaked in logical reasons why. And Jesus wants to push past it. He wants to take that normalcy – the so-called “human condition” – and replace it with freedom. And He wants to do this in step with His bride. That’s me. This is why Adam and Eve were created – made in God’s image, to work with Him and steward His creations. We may have had original sin and thousands of years, but God’s desire for us hasn’t waned. And this is why encounters like this matter.

And I, for one, don’t want to get in His way. So I’m learning, slowly, through experiences like this one, to go lower. And in so doing to lift Him higher. For all the world to see. For my gaze to be His. For my steps to be His. With no constraints and no boundaries. He is so far beyond them, you guys, and the only times He needs to follow is when we put Him in that box.

So let’s shed the fear together. Let’s stand for revival. Let’s stand for restoration. Let’s stand for healing. Let’s stand for Jesus.

As for me, I’m sure I’ll plenty of more chances to practice.  

 God bless!

~Rebekah A

 

Empty

I am so thankful for parents (and thus a mother!) who love me very much. I am thankful for a God who sends messages through a prophet to my parents about me when I need it most. I am thankful for their and His love when I don’t deserve it.

But I have to say that to myself because I just don’t feel it. I am empty, broken, poured out with nothing left within me. I am not being successful at work like I should be. I am constantly plagued with feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness.

I have this God but He feels so far away at times- I know He’s reaching out, but why can’t I feel it? What is wrong with me that i cannot seem to reach back out to Him? I feel as if I am holding on by a thread that is breaking.

I recently was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. As I was diagnosing a patient with that last week, every answer she gave I responded in myself with a resounding “me too.”

I have been hiding this emptiness I feel within myself from almost everyone. I cannot do this anymore. I would never commit suicide since Toshi’s death was one of the hardest things I have ever had to come to terms with, but I am the walking dead.

I have been told I hide it well. I have been told no one would suspect since I am still bubbly and smiling while in public… but that is mainly because it takes every bit I have within me to do that then I go home, go to bed, and only leave when I know I would be discovered.

It feels as if I am running a marathon to shower, brush my teeth, or do any other number of normal activities of daily living. It feels so nice to only think of “this next bite, I can do that. I can handle that.” Thankfully I’m not gaining weight like crazy but mainly because I have a hard time going to the grocery store so it ends up being that I go only when my cabinets only have my unsweetened cocoa powder left essentially.

Part of me knows that God is my answer but I don’t even feel the energy within myself to pray or seek Him. I just want to lay in bed and wish that somehow, it will get better. That I will be home with my parents and the world will be right again.

That this void within me would stop overwhelming my every move.

Rebekah M.

 

Reflections

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. –Psalm 27:14

When we first started this blog, I was a single woman still grieving a breakup that had happened a couple years prior. I struggled to move on from that relationship even though I knew it wasn’t God’s will for me. Every year that went by became more distressing as I saw my chances at motherhood waning.

There were times during this period that I was blissfully aware of God’s presence and provision. I was content to wait for His best for me. I recognized that my singlehood brought unique opportunities to serve Him. Yet, there were painful stretches of time where I failed to see Him through my loneliness and despair. There were many difficult days. The years of being alone weighed on me. I constantly felt guilty because I knew that He was everything that I needed, and yet I still desired human companionship.

Today I am a married woman with three beautiful step-children. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for these precious gifts in my life! My husband is so loving and caring. He is very attentive to my needs and treats me far better than I deserve. He treats me so well that I have trouble accepting it. I never quite believed that anyone could care about me enough to treat me the way he does.

My step-children are sweet and respectful. They accepted me into the family almost immediately. Growing closer to them has probably been the most fulfilling aspect of my life to date. It was the day I met them that I knew my relationship with their father could work. I would not allow myself to fall for him until I knew I could love his children too. Really love them. It would not have been fair to the children or their dad if I could not.

I wish I could go back and tell my single self that she will be okay. I would tell her that the years of singlehood will be worth the wait. That God is setting everything up and not to lament the period of preparation. I would tell her that I couldn’t have met my husband sooner because neither of us were in the place we needed to be yet, but that it would make our meeting that much sweeter when the time came. People tried to tell me this, but I struggled to believe them.

That’s not to say that marriage and step-parenting is all sunshine and rainbows. It’s hard work. It’s draining. But it’s so rewarding. It is so beautiful. It is everything I hoped it would be.

God has been by my side through all of it. Through the lonely days that came before and the sometimes all-consuming days I experience now. God truly has our best in mind. He sincerely takes care of our every need. He loves us more than anyone else ever has or ever can. He is all in all. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him.

If you are single (or in some other period of waiting), please believe me, God is working things out for your good. He sees your struggle. He knows your tears. He’s allowing this trial in your life because He knows you are growing through it. Lean into Him and give Him all your cares. Put your trust in Him. His timing is impeccable.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.