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Moving On, Moving Up, Moving in Him

movingLast week I moved to a new apartment. I spent almost seven years living in a teeny tiny studio apartment. Though I recognize that many have far less than I do, it was just one room and was not even the kind that has a little kitchenette area. I literally slept four feet from my refrigerator. Let me tell you that you don’t realize how loud a refrigerator is until you have to sleep four feet away from one! The apartment was in a building with 16 units and mostly housed sketchy drug users and drunken college students. Being kept awake at all hours of the night because of the partying was a common occurrence. It was not the most spiritual of environments. That being said, it was a roof over my head and it afforded me the opportunity to completely pay off all my debts.

I had planned to only spend one year in that ratty little apartment, but one year stretched to two, then two to three, and at some point something weird happened in my psyche; I lost hope that I would ever get out of there. You see I was dating this guy who to me seemed to be the world. He promised me he would get me out of that terrible environment. We dreamed of the day we’d get married and he’d carry me over the threshold away from that place. When things fell apart between us I sort of just resigned myself to the fact that I would live in that horrible little place forever. Financially, I could afford something a little better for at least two years before I made the move. But I just couldn’t make the move. I didn’t feel I deserved any better and somehow moving meant giving up on the dream that he would take me away from that place. I had convinced myself that it was the last place I would live until I got married, so moving felt like admitting I would be single forever; I would never get anything better in life.

Thank God for that still small voice! In prayer recently God whispered to me of His love, His care, His intentions for my life. That drug infested place just doesn’t fit into those plans.  In a moment of letting that old fairytale go, I realized that I should never have been depending on a man to get me out of that place. I was still there because I believed a man was the answer to my problem, when the answer was in God! Jesus is the one who takes care of me. He is the one who provides for me! I realized He wanted better for me and He was willing to provide it!

So I prayed that if I should move this year that the landlord wouldn’t approach me with a new lease to sign until I found a reasonably affordable place. In all the years I lived there, the landlord was never late in getting the new lease to me, but this year he was! In fact, the landlord who never forgot, seemingly forgot for over three months! So while I waited for the new lease I began casually looking for a new apartment. At first I didn’t have much luck. All the decent apartments were way out of my price range. I had almost resigned myself to another year in my dilapidated studio.

But then just like that, the door opened! My co-worker found out her downstairs neighbor was moving out. I spoke to her landlord and agreed to go look at the new place. I prayed that if it was the right place that I would feel comfortable with the new landlord, the new apartment, and the new neighborhood. I also prayed that if it wasn’t the right place that the door would close and the landlord would rent it out to someone other than me. The day I saw the place, I knew it was for me. It isn’t a huge apartment, but it’s a huge step up from where I was living. It’s actually a two bedroom and has a decent size kitchen and living room. I had a good report with the landlord right away and he even gave me the keys that very day even though I hadn’t yet given him a dime of my money! Amazingly, the new rent is LESS than the old apartment was! And it isn’t in a building with 16 units. There are only two apartments in the house; mine and my co-workers. That means no more listening to partying at all hours of the night. Also, my cat absolutely loves the new place. That may seem trivial to most, but it was a big confirmation for me. My cat has experienced incredible stress every time I’ve moved. When I moved into that horrible apartment he cried non-stop day and night for three days straight. It’s been a little over a week now and he is still as happy as a clam in the new place. Instead of crying, he’s been purring non-stop. He is running around and playing like he used to when he was a kitten. I thought he had stopped playing because he is getting up there in years and his eyesight isn’t what it used to be, but now I’m starting to believe he was just as depressed in that other apartment as I was.

For me, moving was so much more than just a physical relocation. It was accepting that what I had with that guy is over – and that’s okay. It’s believing that God wants the best for me. It’s knowing that all good gifts come from Him!

What a blessing! The Lord is so good to us! Truly! I think we so often live beneath our privilege. The Lord wants us to ask of Him and depend on Him to provide for us. Our blessings don’t come through spouses or children or bosses; they come from the Lord! He is the source of our joy. I thank God for that still small voice that reminded me that He is the one who cares for me. The Lord is good!

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

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The Fruit Just Happens

I have been very disheartened lately by the new TV show Preachers of LA. I haven’t watched it. I probably won’t, so if the previews are misleading and the show is actually a positive thing for Christianity, someone be sure to let me know. I saw a preview, and this was more than enough to keep me away, in which one of them was driving a fancy car and another had a baby out of wedlock. I heard a quote saying “it’s ok to be saved, sanctified, and sexual” (the pastor saying it is a single man). Yikes. Lord have mercy on the Christians of California! I have many atheist/agnostic friends and this show seems like such a misrepresentation of who Christ is and what Christianity means. I keep thinking how difficult it is to witness to my friends, and how this is just reinforcing every negative idea they had about the church. And in their case, salvation is absolutely at stake….this show literally has the power to trade salvation for its own bottom line. Souls for money. Heartbreaking. Humanity has stooped to a new low.

So I have been bummed out about that, and also suffering a major case of writers’ blog, when my hope was officially renewed by this one clip. I was listening to this (Heidi Baker giving a word) today, and it really resonated with me. It doesn’t matter what happens to us and what suffering we go through (in her case, malaria and being shot at – yikes!); there is joy, pure joy, in his presence. Moving in our own strength is exhausting. Moving in Him is beautiful intimacy. Intimacy is the goal. Falling in love with Him all over again, falling deeper and deeper, is the goal. And the fruit just happens. In Him, in His holy and infinite presence, love bears fruit. So today my prayer is simply this: Lord, draw me in.

Fully Satisfied

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, In a dry and parched land where there is no water.” ~Psalm 63:1

I was reading Psalm 63 the other day (read it here in KJV or here in NIV) and was just really struck by David’s faith. I mean, here the guy is stuck in a desert. There’s no water. I don’t know about you, but if I were stuck in a desert with no water in sight, I’d be thirsty. Even if I’d brought water with me, knowing there was no more nearby would make me thirsty by default. avid was thirsty too, but not for water. His first thirst, looking around him and seeing nothing around that could sustain or nourish him, was for God. Looking around and seeing nothing, his being then longed for his Creator. That is faith. Big faith. I have faith, and yet my whole being would be longing for food and drink opportunities. David is on a whole other level.

He goes on to say that he’s seen God’s power and glory, and His love is better than life. Now, there are many of us who will pray when things go wrong; we will certainly lean on God when things go badly, and He is our ultimate Provider. But David isn’t leaning. David is praising. David is stuck in the desert thinking, “who cares if I starve to death or die of thirst? Who cares if I lose my life out here? God’s love is better than my life, and so I’ll get my praise on”.  He doesn’t really seem concerned at all about his physical circumstances or surroundings. He’s just interested in celebrating – in the middle of the dessert he is celebrating. Why? Because God is God, and that’s worth celebrating.

He even goes so far as to say that he will be satisfied as with the richest of foods. Without any food at all. I don’t know about you but that’s amazing to me. I am fasting sugar right now – I’m not going hungry, I’m just going healthy. I’m not going thirsty. And yet I have to convince myself to feel satisfied. My body is missing the carbs. David, though, his body could be missing everything, and yet he is ‘fully satisfied as with the richest of foods’. Incredible.

Only after this celebrating does he starting clinging to God. And even when he is clinging, he’s not too concerned. He knows God’s faithfulness too well to worry about much of anything – he knows God’s got him covered no matter what. He mentions being taken care of in the face of his enemies, and says “the king will rejoice in God”. Basically, no matter what his circumstances, this guy is rejoicing. Because God is God, and His very presence is enough to keep David fully satisfied.

What would our lives look like if we had a heart like that? If we were fully satisfied at all times, sometimes despite pretty bad stuff, simply because of God’s presence?

I am praying for that heart today, the heart to be satisfied as with the richest of foods, simply because I know God is there. The heart that celebrates God for being not just enough, but my everything. We should all be praying for this heart today.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

 

 

 

By the Word of His Power

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” ~ Hebrews 1:3

I had a completely different post in mind for tonight, but something happened this evening that I just have to share. You may know from recent posts that God has been putting intercession on my heart lately. Just emphasizing that He wants us to intercede, petitions us for it in fact, and desires us to stand in the gap between His righteousness and the brokenness of the world.

Ever since He’s told me this, I’ve wanted to stand in the gap. I’ve wanted nothing else. You can test me on this – email me with whatever is going on in your life (being.rebekah.a@gmail.com), and I’ll do battle for you. I want to pray all day. By the way: if you’ve emailed me, and I haven’t responded yet (or lately), I’m still praying for you. Don’t think for a second that I’m not. Anyway. When I don’t want to do spiritual battle, I want to worship. I want more of Him and whatever I do isn’t enough. I want more of Him. And more of Him. It’s this intense desire that I just can’t quench. And I’m not trying to. It’s an amazing season where God is having me plant seeds and sow into roots, and it’s so cool to even be along for the ride and watch Him work.

I digress. Tonight I was on the phone with my friend. She was at a woman’s house, with her pregnant Christian friend. The woman was painting the Christian friend’s belly and they were taking pictures. And she texted me saying, “intercede for me right now. I’m at this ‘spiritual’ woman’s house, there are idols everywhere, she has a book of shadows in the corner”. So I started to pray. I prayed for the pregnant friend and the baby first, because I couldn’t get a read on what to pray over the woman just yet. But I switched to her quickly enough, and it was like trying to walk straight ahead with a building in your way. I just kept getting met with a huge resistant force. Like my prayers were being boomeranged back to me.

So I switched to just praising and pressing in to Him, knowing there was something happening but not knowing what, and knowing that He would guide me in what to do next. He didn’t disappoint. He gave me a glimpse of what was going on in this woman’s house in the spirit. Sure enough, there was an actual wall erected to keep Jesus out. I saw it, and it looked pretty solid, and it had certainly succeeded in keeping me out

The only thing I could do was tear it down. With God guiding my every word, I prayed for this woman and I prayed for the destruction of this wall. I claimed authority in the name of Jesus Christ. I called on Jesus to tear this thing down at its foundation. I was shaking – not with fear but with power. I could feel that I was on the winning side. I knew in my core, I knew, watching everything unfold before me I knew without a doubt that whoever was holding up this stronghold would lose his wall. He had to. He had no choice. He simply could not stand up to Jesus. So I was praying in total confidence. And sure enough, an angel had a sledgehammer type thing and started whacking away. I have to give some style points to Jesus here, who was probably just humoring because in my zeal I embellished a little on various ways they could tear down this wall. But I definitely didn’t know angels used sledgehammers as weapons of choice, but it sure worked out well. The wall cracked like it was made of clay, and crumbled. And I instantly felt a peace in my prayers. There was no more barrier. No more resistance to my prayers. Free access for team Jesus. It was a major spiritual shift.

And then I witnessed the most beautiful part of all. Jesus was before her, looking at her with such love. He was drinking her in like a long-lost lover who’d been torn away from Him that He was finally getting to see again. Her heart wasn’t even His yet, and it still isn’t, but He was loving on her anyway. Content to be beside her. Grace abounds in Him.

This progressed to the woman and my friend getting into some deeper conversation about spiritual stuff. I prayed for them the whole time. And I was mentally exhausted after – my brain literally hurt – but it was amazing. I’ve never seen a stronghold fall before. I have interceded, and I have felt spiritual shifts, but to actually get a vision of God’s power manifesting itself was beyond anything I’ve ever seen. Beautiful, beautiful MAJESTY!!!!

Bring on the victory dance. Glory to the King!

God bless!

~Rebekah A

Learning to Trust

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10

Any followers of this blog will have probably read by now that I’m in a pretty bad place financially. I’ve been living in NYC for two years now and have yet to find steady employment. And yes, I’ve been looking. First it was the house falling apart, so I lived off of savings while we sorted it out. Then it was part of my contract as roommate to a man named Jimmy with muscular dystrophy – part of the deal was to be around on Mondays and Tuesdays (the two days of the week when he’s not at work). As it turned out, the work I was qualified to do takes place in schools or hospitals, and most definitely involves Mondays and Tuesdays.

So about the time I was looking for different work, Jimmy’s full-time aide got hit by a NYC bus. He’s been recovering slowly and painfully and still has a long road ahead of him. In the meantime, we’ve had a revolving door of aids while looking for a replacement and through it all I have been the one go-to backup. I’ve been permanently on call for the better part of a year. None of these situations are conducive to steady employment but I’m trying. Unsuccessfully, so far, but I do have a few potential prospects so be praying that one of them comes through!

Anyway, things have come to a head with some of my student loans this week. I basically ran out of deferment time and have to come up with a lot of money now. Which I of course don’t have. Whenever it came up with Jimmy, he made it clear that he didn’t have it either. As for my family….well, if they had it, I’d have it. And we all very much don’t. I don’t even many possessions to sell – most of my clothes are wearing out and I sold my car awhile ago.

So here I was. Needing more than I had. Owing more than I could give. With no crutch, no options, no man-made solutions left. I have to say it was a new situation for me. I have been in places where I’ve needed God….but never in a situation where literally my only hope for getting through it was to count on a miracle. Until now. And I wasn’t happy about it. There were a few days (and a few phone calls) where all I could do was break down and cry.

So I told myself that God knew best, maybe it was for the best. He does all things for our good, right? If I am floundering, maybe I need to redefine what it means to thrive. And that’s true. I do need to do that. Eventually. But what I need to do most of all, right this second, is stop trying to define anything. Stop trying to scramble and come up with crazy solutions and then pray that God shows me favor when I try to make them happen. No. That’s not trust. That’s self-reliance and looking to God to be my sidekick. That’s what I’ve always done. I’ve always landed on my feet, figured it out for myself, and just prayed to God for backup support. Sure I give Him credit. I thank Him for the blessing. But that’s not true trust. Trust is letting God do the defining, letting God do the planning and providing. I thought I trusted God. But this experience so far has shown me that I’ve never fully depended on Him. I’ve never fully, with everything in me, trusted His full provision. I’ve trusted Him for favor in my provisions for myself, but I’ve never given Him full and complete control. Until I had no choice.

So I told myself that I was going to trust this time. I was going to ride this ride, and let God stretch the boundaries of my heart. Let Him push the barriers of my control. That I would praise Him through every painful moment, and on the other side I’d come out like gold. That I would trust Him to turn this trial into a testimony.

And wouldn’t you know, even with nothing left the temptation to take the reigns was still there. In email correspondence about a potential job, I was thinking through how to word things and what would best work in my favor. I started to pray, but as I opened my mouth I realized I was about to pray for favor in my efforts. I wanted SO BADLY to ask Him for that. But I curbed the impulse and instead asked for His will to be done. For Him to give me the words to use to help His will be done. That I was trusting Him as my provider to do what was best for me. Typed the email. Hit send. And then I praised Him and worshiped Him with everything I had.

I haven’t gotten a reply to that email yet. But sure enough, our faithful God delivered anyway. Where yesterday there were no options, today there are. I mean it. My school actually bought my biggest loan and is giving me more payment options. When does that happen? With nothing to offer, no escape route, and nothing to save myself with, I am leaning on Jesus. And He is upholding me and seeing me through.

I am learning to go lower, to give up more control and lean on God harder. The more I do, the more I’m finding Him. When that’s the result, I can only be grateful for the hardship. He’s well worth the cost and He’s showing me that more and more every minute! I think of it like leaning on a wall. You can lean to different degrees, right? You can be standing just about upright and barely making contact with the wall. If the wall disappeared you’d stay standing. Or you could be doing one of those workout moves like a wall squat or pushups or something. If the wall disappeared then, you’d be in trouble. I’ve leaned on God before, but it’s not fully leaning if I’m still supporting my own weight. Up to now, were He to step away, I might startle or miss a step, but I wouldn’t necessarily fall. This time around, I’d faceplant and probably concuss myself.  And yet it’s working out better than it usually does. My relinquishing that last bit of control is letting God hold up this whole situation, and it turns out He’s much stronger than me. It kind of makes me wonder what I’ve been missing this whole time!

With that thought in mind, I leave you with a song that’s been on my heart today:

God bless!

~ Rebekah A

A Day of Thanksgiving

“For great is Your love, higher than the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” ~Psalm 108-4

If you are a regular reader of this blog you have probably heard of my ongoing saga to find a personal care aide for my roommate Jimmy, confined to a wheelchair due to SMA (spinal muscular atrophy). We used to have an aide – a great one in fact. This past February, he was hit by a New York City bus and has been engrossed in a slow, painful (and currently stalled) recovery.

This man, as a side note, was raised by a Muslim mother and a Hindu father. As he put it, “I was raised with so many religions, I figured I may as well celebrate the Christian holidays too.”. While this sounded promising, it didn’t exactly speak to a heart transformation. And so, after the accident, I prayed for him profusely. For a physical healing, yes, but mostly for a life-changing revelation of who Jesus is, for Jesus to rock his heart and his life and that he would experience the pure love and peace that comes from His arms. That he would know who he was celebrating.

I prayed…..and Jesus answered.

Today I went to what I thought was the Guyanese equivalent of Thanksgiving. I had no idea what was going on or what to expect. It turned out to be his and his wife’s personal day of Thanksgiving, of opening up their home to their entire church (via many, many chairs set up in the backyard) and giving thanks to the Lord for all they have.

Today I witnessed our former aide speak to his church. His face was contorted into a grimace of pain and he struggled to stand, leaning so hard on a cane that his arms were shaking. I knew he was using all his muscles to balance himself because he has yet to regain full feeling in one of his legs. But not a bit of that came into his testimony. Instead, the words out of his mouth were of such passionate gratitude that he started to tear up.

And so I have my turn to give thanks. I am so, so thankful that I serve a God who is so present in our lives that he can perform miracles – not just in the physical world around us, but inside of us. That we can know Him, walk with Him, live with Him, open ourselves up to His unceasing love and attention. Our God is not at an altar; we don’t have to go anywhere special to find Him. He’s not in incense, He’s not in fire, He’s not in flowers. He’s in us, with us and surrounding us, active in both the biggest moments of our lives and the minutia. He listens to the cries of our hearts – and He answers.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

 

Song of the Day: In Christ Alone

No guilt in life, no fear in death.
This is the power of Christ in me.
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand.
’til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand .

Thank you, Jesus for this life you have given me! Thank You for showing me that it is all through You, in You alone! I love You, Lord.

In His Love,

Rebekah L.