Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day 12 Sarah

           A caravan crosses the hot, open desert. A woman walks alone, tired and dry.  Her heart and spirit are empty.  The humidity fills her lungs as she breaths in the sticky, warm air; her body longs to sit and rest.  Her mind wanders to far away places, anything to remove herself from this weary procession.  Her imagination fails to conjure images, happy reminiscences or good times.  Dreams are all but a memory.  Her hope had faded years ago, like the sand under feet as the miles stretch from camp to camp.  There were no more tears to cry, no more hope to give life to the emptiness in her womb.  Sarah looked across the wilderness; nothing, just like her empty heart.
            Have you ever felt spiritually dry? Have you ever experienced the constant search for peace or a word from the Lord, but nothing seemed to ease this void? I have “wandered” myself in the “wilderness”.  The wilderness can seem dry, vacant, joyless and depressing.  Your heart and spirit long for spiritual wisdom, comfort and security to get you through to the other side; I’ve heard many say this is “God’s waiting room”.  I even scratch the surface of this season in Day 7 of Abigail.  A preacher I like to listen to, Perry Stone, once taught the “dry season” as a season of planting. You may be thinking, I’ve been “a plant’n” a long time! The key to this season, as Pastor Stone preached, is to not give up, keep sowing those seeds and patiently wait on the Lord.
Sarah was childless.  I watched a movie once regarding the life of Abraham and Sarah.  Barbara Hershey portrays the matriarch and during one of the opening scenes, a baby is delivered.  Sarah, I am sure, witnessed many births, was probably there to support and act as a midwife for the baby.  When the child was born, one of the midwives exclaimed, “It’s a girl!” This exhausted and fatigued new mother looked over in disgust and said, “I don’t want a girl.” She rolled over on her side, her body language screaming repugnance.  The scene continues with Sarah quietly standing, gently taking the baby in to her arms and a wail escapes her mouth.  Her cries and screams to God of frustration, anger, sadness, mourning and weariness encompass this display of travail.  All eyes look on in embarrassment and shame as the new mother turns over realizing her insensitive remark, arms open to take the baby more joyfully after witnessing Sarah’s agony.  This scene was powerful, for your own heart knew and could feel the pain of her empty womb.
 In the wilderness, this season of planting and sowing, is where you learn patience, trust and contentment.  Patience to wait on the perfect timing of the Lord, trusting God he is there and has never left, believing the Lord will give you the contentment in all things while you wait.  During this season of my life, I studied, prayed, fasted, and sought God’s wisdom.  I had never been through a time such as this where I did not understand what was happening.  I tithe, I pray, I worship, I believe, I know God hears, but nothing is happening.  It felt as if I was walking through quick sand everyday. Years had gone by and I did not understand WHY I still sat so alone in the wilderness.  Sarah did not understand why she could not have a baby.  To encourage you, God’s ways are not our ways; his thoughts not our thoughts.  This woman had no idea that on the other side of that desert was laughter.  She did not understand joy was just around the corner.  Sarah could not perceive the will of God to perform a miracle inside of her own lifeless body and through her a great nation would be born.  She was “stuck” in the wilderness mindset.

The wilderness mindset can leave you trapped, confused, wandering and perplexed. At times you know exactly why you may feel hopeless and lost.  I talked to God during these times honestly and transparently shared my feelings.  I mean, he already knows them anyway, so why not get honest in your prayers.  I remember praying, “I don’t want to be in this season anymore.  I don’t want grumble, complain or pretend I know best, but Lord, you will have to show me how to wait patiently and trust you.”
            Do you tithe and have yet to receive a harvest? Do you work hard, your boss reaping the benefits while you sit in disbelief? Do you pray for a sick relative and they only seem to get worse? Have you prayed for friends and God has yet to bring a godly Christian companion to lean on? Or, are you in prayer for a spouse, waiting patiently, a bridesmaid at your girlfriends’ weddings and no particular person has set foot in your life? Each of these instances were a season for either myself, Tommy, a family member or a friend of mine. 
            Tommy would come home, his face and body weary from work, would just shake his head and say, “I’m tired.” My girlfriends have cried and asked, “Why doesn’t God send me someone?” I have sat in my home, believing and praying for my own season of giving, teaching and writing, asking the Lord, “Do I not know enough?” “Is my past sin just to great for me to spread the Gospel?” We’ve all sat in the wilderness, the key as Pastor Stone taught, is to continue planting your hope.  Continue planting that seed of faith, tithe and contentment as you ask, seek and knock for the door to be opened. 
            Throughout the Gospels, Jesus asked a question, “What do you want?” Some wanted healing; others wanted prestigious positions in Heaven, while many just wanted to follow him.  In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus teaches a parable regarding a persistent widow, “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
            This parable gives me such hope for the things I continue to pray about.  My prayers in regard to my children, Tommy’s walk to deepen, family of mine who are not believers, situations where I can spread the Gospel and advance the Kingdom of God and be a blessing to those who have blessed our family, drive me to be this persistent widow.  I am determined to continue in my faith, hope and belief that God can do all things through those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). I will be confident that he who began a good work will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (1 Philippians 1:6). I will believe that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). 
            I have seen God work miraculously in Tommy’s and my own life.  I have seen the work of the Spirit through healings, prayer and the faith Christ can do all things. Remember, Sarah laughed when she heard what the Lord had in store for her.  Her laugh was out of disbelief, for she had lost all hope.  Abraham laughed when God revealed his plan of Isaac.  Why wasn’t Abraham rebuked as Sarah was? Because Abraham laughed at the power of God, his plan and purpose for know one would believe if not witnessed with their own eyes the birth of Isaac (Genesis 17-18).  
God has a plan.  Maybe our finite minds would be unable to comprehend the preparation if it was laid out before us. If the Lord had shown me what would happen to me in the first five to eight years of my walk with him, I am not sure I would have been able to handle it.  I have cried more in the last decade than the first part of my whole life! The pruning process, the expelling of worldly views, the forgiveness of those who tore my heart apart, the prayers and fasting for God’s plan for Tommy, and the consistent training of my children has been challenging to say the least.  But, the day Tommy, Nicholas and Maddie were baptized, I as Abraham laughed.  All those prayers, all the days of fasting were answered.  I know God hears my prayers, just as he hears yours.
            I want to encourage with Sarah’s story.  The “wilderness” and “desert” are very dry places.  It is during these times we are to fast as Jesus, rebuke the enemy’s lies as Christ, believing in the hope God has placed in your heart. The Bible says Jesus was hungry while in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2, Luke 4:2). In the “dry season” we are weary and hungry for the Word of God.  Our spirits cry out for other Christians to come along side for prayer and hold our arms as Aaron and Hur, fighting that spiritual battle coming against us (Exodus 17:11-12).
During a battle against the Amalekites, as long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites triumphed, but as soon as his hands were lowered, the enemy gained favor. When Moses grew tired, Aaron and Hur took a stone and put it under him; they held Moses’ hands up so they remained steady till sunset (Exodus 17:11-12).  In our dry season, we are to pray with friends and come along side one another.  If you are in this season, sit on the “Rock” and remain steady. Pray to Jesus for the strength in all things (Philippians 4:13). Call your friends to pray with you for wherever two or three are gathered, Christ is in the midst (Matthew 18:20). We are to rebuke the lies as Christ did, knowing God has a plan to prosper and not fail. Put on your armor from the Lord and stand firm with the readiness and peace knowing God is in control (Ephesians 6:13).  As Aaron and Hur steadied Moses hands, we are to steady ourselves, standing firm and praying in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Ephesians 6:18). 
When the Roman soldiers were in battle, they wore spikes on the bottom of their shoes.  With face to face combat, the soldiers positioned themselves to stand firm, steadily fighting and their feet did not slip.  Paul writes, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” We armor ourselves, plant our feet in for the long haul, have fellow believers stand with us, holding our arms and helping us to sit on the Rock, Jesus Christ.
One last comment to note before we pray, in the dry season, we may be tempted to fulfill our destiny by trying to hurry God’s plan along.  Remember Sarah and Hagar? Sarah attempted to “hurry” God’s plan along and we can see the disastrous effects from that.  Jealousy, anger, bitterness, taunting and provoking all played out daily in this family’s life.  Wait on the Lord.  Do not rush out before the “perfect” timing as you may regret your decision.  I attempted to step out and have a small group for teaching and training women, but it was more “work” and I was not ready for the task at hand.  I was not prepared in my knowledge of the bible, in my family life at home or in my prayer life as a believer.  Do not stop planting those seeds (Galatians 6:9).  “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Remember, the end of a matter is better than the beginning (Ecclesiastes 6:8).  Laughter is on the other side if we do not give up.  While you wait, remember the words of Christ, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gently and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Let us Pray and CONFESS the Word of the Living God;

 I am dry.  I feel spiritually, mentally and physically dry.  I desire to seek your face and dwell in your temple (Psalm 27). Strengthen me for all things, believing in the things I can not see, the faith and hope in your Word (Philippians 4:13, Hebrews 11:1). I know the end of a matter is better than the beginning and I know there is a time and season for everything under Heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6:8) Strengthening me to fight this spiritual battle and may I learn what I am to be taught during this season (Ephesians 6:10-19).
 My heart longs for the foot of the cross.  Help me as Mary of Bethany to lay it all at your feet, at the cross and fill my spirit with your fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:19). Help me come to you when I need rest for I am weary and I know that you are gentle and humble, not hard, harsh, sharp and pressing (Matthew 11:28). Lay me down in green pastures, beside living water where I can rest and sit on the Rock (Psalm 23).  I pray for godly women to come alongside and hold me hands as Aaron and Hur, standing in the gap with me for I know where two or three are gathered, you are in the midst (Matthew 18:20, Exodus 17:11-13).
 I believe as Jesus did in the wilderness, to confess the Word of God.  It is written
I am to be determined in my faith, hope and believe that God can do all things through those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). I will be confident that he who began a good work will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (1 Philippians 1:6). I will believe that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). It is written you word will never return void and will accomplish what you desire and achieve the purpose for which you sent it (Isaiah 55:11).  It is written I will go out in joy and be led forth in peace (Isaiah 55:12).  It is written he who goes out weeping, carrying out seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him (Psalm 126:6). It is written a man reaps what he sows, so I will not become weary in well doing, for at the proper time I will reap a harvest if I do not give up (Galatians 6:7-9).
            I give you all praise and glory.  I exalt your name on high. I believe you will give me rest, as I am tried and weary (Matthew 18:20). I know this time is but a season; show me how to be content in all things whether abasing or abounding (Philippians 4:12). In the name of Jesus of Nazareth I pray, Amen.

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