Holy Moments, Inspire

What about Those Roadblocks?

 

To her friends, Debbie Lascelles was known as “the Texas cream puff.” She knew all the current makeup techniques, could style her hair into the perfect “Texas’do” and could paint her nails to match any outfit. But there were some things Debbie couldn’t do, like change a flat tire. She had adopted this philosophy of life: “Don’t learn to do something you don’t want to end up doing.” For instance, never ask your husband to teach you how to use the lawnmower unless someday you expect to be trimming the grass. I’ve been told that Debbie wouldn’t even screw a new license plate onto her car.  Instead, she asked an able-bodied maintenance man working on staff with her at the YWAM base in Tyler, Texas, to do the job for her.

She was at the top of her class when she graduated from nursing school and was voted the most likely to succeed. Everybody knew that Debbie was destined for a prosperous career and would probably marry a doctor. But God interrupted her plans by calling her to the mission field, despite her previous protests. At 35, she and three other like-minded Christians joined Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) on a missions trip to the Sudan. They were to bring much-needed supplies-clothes, medicine and books-to a remote village in the middle of the steamy jungle. The team was also asked to teach their native brothers how to win their enemies to Jesus.

It was a sweltering hot day as they loaded the supply truck, and the Texas cream puff felt like she was melting. She poured herself into the seat next to another missionary dripping with sweat and fastened her seatbelt for the bumpy ride ahead. They knew they must travel all day to make their destination before nightfall.

Halfway through the trip a tire blew, and their hearts deflated too. The only way to change the tire in that heavy-laden truck was to empty its contents. When the team finally overcame the obstacles of unloading the truck and changing the tire, too much time had been lost. They would never reach the village before dark. Disappointed, they decided to turn back.

Suddenly there was a rumbling out of the afternoon sky. Their escorts feared the worst, saying, “Those are enemy bombers! Everyone hit the dirt.” Debbie the debutante was now sweaty, dirty and scared. But to her amazement, the planes roared by without noticing the team or the truck. Like heat-seeking missiles, the bombers remained locked on their target-the very village where Debbie and her team had been headed. The time of detonation? Just before dark. A flat tire saved their lives.

Making the long, grueling trek, only to be disappointed when she could not reach her destination became a holy moment for Debbie. God had said no and placed His loving hand as a roadblock in her path.

Has God ever answered one of your prayers with a deafening no? Take time to reflect on the reasons why. Perhaps He was protecting you from a bad decision or attempting to lead you to greener pastures. If that’s the case, you’ve had a holy moment. Look for supernatural surprises in unexpected places-not only when God leads you through an open door, but also when He closes it.

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Holy Moments, Inspire

Where Can I Trust Him More?

It’s easy to believe in providence when it’s working to our advantage. But if things get shaky, we mistakenly think God has fallen asleep at the wheel. Charles West said, “We turn to God when our foundations are shaking, only to learn that it is God who is shaking them.” Providence can be a double-edged sword. Remember Queen Esther? In order for Esther to be in, Queen Vashti  had to go out. In the moment, Gods providence can appear harmful, but it will become helpful after future realities come into view. God promises His children that all things will always turn out for the best in eternity. Paul said, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28). Only time will tell the whole story of God’s providential care in your life and in the lives of others.

The life of Joseph perfectly illustrates this concept. When Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, it seemed that the hand of providence was against him. But slavery led Joseph to Egypt where he was made second in command to Pharaoh. Through Joseph’s interpretation of a prophetic dream and his wise counsel, Egypt was sustained through a terrible famine. Years after his brothers’ betrayal, Joseph told them, “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Gen. 50:20).

Perhaps, like Joseph, you’re experiencing a season of being misunderstood, falsely accused or imprisoned unjustly. Don’t give up! This situation is exactly where you can trust Him more. Allow God to work all things together for your good and His glory as you wait patiently for His deliverance. A bad thing can become a good thing if it leads you to something better! When you’re in a situation that you don’t quite understand, ask yourself, In what area is my trust challenged?

Holy Moments, Inspire

Tomorrow’s Too Late

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever heard of Dr. Helen Roseveare, the famous British missionary doctor to the Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo)? Her life’s motto was, “If Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” As a single woman, she served for 20 years overseas while enduring incredible hardship. At one point she was taken captive by rebel soldiers. During the five months of her captivity, she was brutally beaten and raped. But Helen knew that her relationship with God had not been damaged. In fact, God redeemed those horrible events by asking her a counselor to female missionaries who have been abused. Now in her 80s, Dr Roseveare continues to serve the Lord. She travels tirelessly as an internationally acclaimed spokeswoman for Christian missions, mobilizing people by showing them that God uses imperfect people with real struggles to be his ambassadors to the world.

She tells about a holy moment that displayed God’s incredible hand of providence in the lives of some young orphans. One evening, she attended a young mother giving birth to a premature baby girl. Despite Dr. Roseveare’s best efforts, the mother died, leaving the tiny infant and a crying two-year-old daughter. Dr Roseveare knew that without an incubator or electricity, it would be difficult to keep the baby alive because of the cold, drafty nights. She asked a native assistant to fetch the hot water bottle to keep the infant warm. However, they discovered that the hot water bottle had burst. Dr Roseveare instructed the nurse to hold the child as close to an open fire as safety would allow to help the child survive the cold night.

The following day, Helen gathered the other orphans for prayer time. She told them about the newly born baby, the two-year-old orphan and the broken hot water bottle. Ruth, a precocious 10-year-old, prayed. “Please God, send us a hot water bottle. Tomorrow will be too late, God, because the baby will be dead by then, so please send it this afternoon.” The staff was shocked by the prayer’s boldness. Yet Ruth continued, “While you’re at it, would you please send a doll for the little girl, so that she knows that you really love her?”

Helen said she knew in theory that God was capable of doing anything-the Bible said so. But she had her doubts. Besides, she hadn’t received any parcels from England for nearly four years. Also, who back home would think that they needed a hot water bottle in tropical Africa?

Later in the afternoon, while making her rounds, Dr Roseveare heard a car drive down the dirt road. When she returned to her apartment, she was astounded to discover a large parcel on the veranda. As tears welled in her eyes, she called the orphans so that they could open the box together. In addition to clothes, bandages and snacks, a new rubber hot water bottle was in the box! Ruth, who was stirring in the first row, shouted, “If God sent the hot water bottle, he must have sent the doll too!” Then she dug to the bottom of the parcel and pulled out a beautiful little doll. She insisted that they take the doll to the little two-year-old girl so that she would know that Jesus loves her.

The parcel had been on the way for five months sent by a women’s Bible study group. One inspired women had been so obedient to God that she even sent a hot water bottle to the equator. And one of the ladies had given a doll, 5 months before a 10-year-old African girl would pray, “We need it this afternoon, God.” The words Jesus said are true: “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8). God saw what was needed before the prayer was uttered. Through His divine providence, He was able to arrange the details of the past to benefit a situation that would take place in the future. His fingerprints were all over that parcel!

Holy Moments, Inspire

He Will Bring It to Pass

Providence best describes the final phrase in Psalm 37:5: “He shall bring it to pass.” This is a simple step to discovering God’s fingerprints in your life. Be confident, delight in Him, develop holy desires, commit everything you do to the Lord, and trust God with everything-He will surely do His part of bringing about that which concerns you.

While most commentators agree on the meaning of “He shall bring it to pass,” some of their remarks impart a fine distinction to explain its intent. I’ve listed some of their different interpretations to help you grasp this key phrase better:

-He will work.

-He will secure a happy result.

-He will take care of your interests.

-He will accomplish what you desire to be done, but cannot do yourself.

-Leave the guidance of thy life entirely to Him; He will gloriously accomplish all that concerns thee.

This might be hard for you to accept, because there’s nothing left for you to do. Now it’s time for you to simply wait, and watch God move, look for His handiwork in your life. As Moses exhorted the children of Israel just before the Exodus, it’s time to “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today” (Exod.14:13).

Moses and the people had done all that God had asked them to do. They obediently celebrated the Passover by sacrificing the Lamb, sprinkling blood on their doorposts, and preparing unleavened bread. After the Angel of death had killed the Egyptians’ firstborn, the Israelites asked for back wages in the form of precious metals. Then they departed in haste into the wilderness to meet with God. But the hardhearted Pharaoh changed his mind. He order his army, including 500 chariots, to chase and subdue the renegade nation.

With the army behind them, desolate wilderness flanking them on the left and on the right, they faced a dead-end at the Red Sea. There was nowhere to run and no place to hide. It was humanly impossible to escape. So Moses reminded the people to let go and let God intervene on their behalf, trusting that “He will bring it to pass.” As an act of faith, Moses simply stretched forth the rod in his hand and then witnessed God’s salvation.

How about you? Has God been asking you to make a symbolic gesture of faith? Perhaps He’s asked you to fast and pray. Maybe He’s told you to keep quiet and believe. Or you know that you must stop trying to accomplish God’s will in the power of your own might. There’s nothing you can do to change the situation or make things better. That is the perfect place for God to work. Jesus said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27). Today could be the day that you simply raise your arms in surrender.

Holy Moments, Inspire

Dedicate Your Direction

Do you find it difficult to make commitments? Is it even harder to live up to them? After saying yes to something, do second thoughts plague your mind? Or does the dread of starting new projects or setting personal goals immobilize you?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re probably suffering from commitment paralysis, which is due, in part, to the power our commitments possess. Truthfully, nothing determines your direction and destiny more than the commitments you make.  They’ll either define you or they’ll undermine you. Commitment holds the key to future success and experiencing holy moments. It is how we dedicate our direction to the Lord.

The fear of saying yes torments countless people-and it prevents them from discovering God’s best.  In The Yes Anxiety: Taming the Fear of Commitment, author Blaine Smith looks closely and compassionately at the struggles Christians have with commitment phobia.  He says, “People dislike losing freedom and assuming new obligations; thus, commitment fear is at heart the dread of losing control.”

Assuming that you are in control, is at best, an illusion. Think about it, can you prevent a drunk driver from shattering innocent lives? Can you stop cancer from ravaging the body of someone you love? Consider Job, who thought he had it made- a place for everything and everything in its place. In a matter of days, he lost it all; his business, his family, his health and his reputation. It didn’t take Job long to realize that there was very little he could control. Although God had proclaimed him the most righteous man in all the earth, he was, after all, merely good-not God. Job cried “uncle” when he admitted, “I know that You (God) can do everything, and that no purpose of yours can be withheld from you” (Job 42:2). When Job relinquished control, he was able to commit his life to the One who ruled the universe.  As a result, Job’s future was even better than his past. “Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12).

Holy Moments, Inspire

When Do I Trust God?

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The psalmist wrote, “O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge” (Ps. 62:8, NLT, emphasis added). Some people believe that trust is just for the big stuff, like when a doctor says, “It’s incurable!” Or the banker says, “It’s overdrawn!” Or your spouse says, “It’s over!” However, failing to trust God with the small stuff is where I often stumble. My problem lies in holding false assumptions. I mistakenly think that I can handle the little things as long as God takes care of the big problems. But that’s not trust at all. Trust is for the big stuff, the small stuff and all the stuff in between!

Trusting God, a profound book written by Jerry Bridges, offers this insight:

[A] pitfall in trusting God, which we are prone to fall into, is to turn to God in trust in greater crisis experiences of life while seeking to work through the minor difficulties ourselves. A disposition to trust in ourselves is part of our sinful nature. It sometimes takes a major crisis, or at least a moderate one, to turn us toward the Lord. A mark of Christian maturity is to continually trust the Lord in the minutiae of daily life. If we learn to trust God in the minor adversities, we will be better prepared to trust him in the major ones.

My friend, Dianne, told me the following story. It illustrates perfectly the concept of trusting God at all times.

A wealthy employer, who possessed an estate on the ocean, a yacht docked at the shore and multiple foreign cars parked in the garage, invited an employee and his wife to dinner at one of the finest restaurants in town. Because they couldn’t afford this kind of extravagance, they were intrigued and a bit intimidated.

As the three entered the exclusive eatery, the boss stopped suddenly, stared down at the pavement and then stooped over to pick up a penny lying on the street next to a cigarette butt. He held it up in his manicured hand and with a smile placed it in his pocket as though it were a pearl of great price.

How absurd, the employee’s wife thought to herself. This man needs a penny like he needs another pebble for his handsomely Landscaped yard.  Why bother picking it up? Throughout dinner, the strange scene plagued her. She casually mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection and asked the wealthy man whether the penny he had found was valuable.

Grinning like Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire cat, he removed the penny from his pocket and held it out in front of her.

“Look at it,” he said. “Read what it says.”

She read aloud, “United States of America.”

“Not that; what else?” he challenged.

“One cent?” She questioned.

“No, keep reading.”

Impatiently she said, “What? In God We Trust?”

The well appointed gentlemen nodded, saying, “If I trust in God, then I believe that His name is holy, even on a coin. Every single coin minted in the United States has that reminder stamped on it. But most of us never seem to notice. It’s as if God dropped a message right in front of us to trust Him. Who am I to pass it by? So, when I find a stray penny, I stop to ask myself whether my trust is in God at that moment. Picking up that penny instead of passing it by is my way of telling God that I do trust in Him. I think it’s God’s way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!”

How about you? Do you trust God with the daily minutiae as as well as the major dilemmas in your life? Philip Bennett Power, Scottish minister and author, wrote:

The daily circumstances of life will afford us opportunities enough for glorifying God in trust, without our waiting for extraordinary calls upon our faith. Let us remember that the extraordinary circumstances of life are but few; that much of life may slip past without their occurrence; and that if we are not faithful and trusting in that which is little, we are not likely to be in that which is great…Let our trust be reared in the humble nursery of our own daily experience, with its ever recurring little wants, and trials, and sorrows; and then, when need be, it will come forth, to do such great things as are required of it.

As you reflect on the passage above, ask yourself, When do I trust God-rarely, sometimes, or always in all ways?

Holy Moments, Inspire

Destined for Divine Encounters

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Imagine having X-ray vision like Superman.  You could see past obstacles and through walls.  At parties, you could mesmerize guests as you revealed the contents of their unopened purses and wallets.  Finding the elusive belt hiding somewhere in the bowels of your suitcase wouldn’t be a problem either. What an incredible asset X-ray vision would be!

Superman not only possessed X-ray vision, but he also was blessed with telescopic vision, enabling him to span the solar system in a glance. As well, he had microscopic vision, allowing him to see the tiniest dust particle. But there were two things Superman could not see: anything encased in or hidden behind a wall of lead, and future events.

God has it all-X ray vision, telescopic vision, microscopic vision and future vision. He declares, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand and I will do all that I please” (Isa. 46:9-10 NIV). Nothing, not even kryptonite, can prevent Him from accomplishing His will.

Biblical scholars define God’s future vision as providence. The word “providence” comes from the combination of two Latin words: pro, meaning, “before”, and video, meaning “I see.” It literally means “foresight.” Merriam-Webster’s defines “providence” as “divine guidance or care; God conceived as the power sustaining and guiding human destiny. Not one detail of your life takes Him by surprise. He sees what you do and why you do it. The motives within the human heart are penetrated by God’s watchful eye. “The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).

Through His providence, God not only orchestrates details in the lives of individuals, but also that of entire nations. One of America’s Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, said “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of man; and if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?” You might say that history is “His story”!

Kings, presidents and military officers unwittingly fulfill God’s plan as agents of providence.  For instance, around the time of Jesus’ birth, Cesar Augustus needed more money for his war campaigns. Like most politicians, he thought that raising taxes was a good way to get it.  So he legislated a tax initiative mandating that all citizens be registered in the city of their birth (see Luke 2:1,3).  If you were looking over Caesar’s shoulder, you may have thought, Hmmm, That’s incredible.  This decree could fulfill a prophecy given nearly 700 years ago by Micah, making sure that the Messiah is born in Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2).  The census tax forced Mary and Joseph to travel to their hometown, Bethlehem, while Mary was great with child. Was Caesar a powerful ruler? Perhaps. Was he a pawn in God’s plan?  Absolutely!

How can we, as finite human beings, grasp the immensity of God’s purview and knowledge?  Perhaps a simple analogy will help. Have you ever stood on the sidelines and watched a parade, such as the famous Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California, go by?  You have to wait to see each float, each marching band, each equestrian unit. But if you watched the televised parade, you could get some aerial shots from the Goodyear Blimp that floats over the parade and see the beginning to the end, and everything in between.

Let’s pretend that you and I go to the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California. We arrive the night before and camp out on Colorado Boulevard right in the middle of the parade route between Orange Grove and Sierra Madre Boulevards. The next morning we’re thrilled when our favorite float, depicting a winter wonderland glides past. Next comes the marching band we’ve been waiting for- The Canadian Massed Pipes and Drums-dressed in their mixed Scottish tartans playing traditional music on their bagpipes and drums. Just then, some late-comers push their way to the front.  Breathlessly, the lady asks, “Did I miss the Rose Queen? She’s my second cousin.  We were delayed by traffic.”

We assure her that she’s made it in time. In fact, if she walks back a few blocks, toward Orange Grove Boulevard, she’ll be able to see what is yet to come-she can view the future before it becomes our present.

Her husband interrupts, “But did we miss The Canadian Massed Pipes and Drums? I’m Scottish.”

We’re sorry to tell him, “Yes, but if you run ahead, toward Sierra Madre Boulevard, you can see what has already transpired.” At the moment, my cell phone rings. It’s my mother, in Michigan, calling to say that she’s watching the whole thing on her television.  They just showed an aerial view of the parade from the Good Year blimp. She has seen the end, the beginning and everything in between. She tells us, “Don’t miss the equestrian unit of miniature horses. They’re adorable.”

As you can see from our parade passing by, perspective is everything. Depending on your vantage point along the parade route, you can see the past, the present or the future of this wondrous spectacle.

In a limited sense, the aerial view is how the timeline of history appears to God. He has a birds-eye view of the events taking place on planet Earth. He can observe all aspects of time simultaneously. Therefore, He is able to act providentially in our lives. He knows what’s going to happen before it happens; and He knows how the past can intersect the present.

Holy Moments, Inspire

A Divine Appointment in a Skybox

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Not many people have the opportunity to save a nation or become royalty.  But God’s divine intervention is just as powerfully displayed in the most ordinary places.

Michelle never dreamed of having a holy moment in the midst of changing diapers and doing laundry. Life changed radically the day she became the mother of twins. They were double the blessing but twice the work. On June 16, 1999, before the girls woke up, as Michele sat staring at the newspaper, God entered her consciousness through the door of her heart.  She burst into tears and intercessory prayer after reading the headline in the Fort Worth Star Telegram: “A Family Shattered: Mother of 3-Day-Old Twins Faces Loss of Husband, Son.” Since Michele also had twins, she immediately developed a supernatural bond with the unknown woman who had experienced birth and death simultaneously.  She made a covenant with God to pray for her daily.

For days, the newspaper was part of Michele’s daily devotions as she searched for more insight on how to pray for Kathy Mogayzel, the bereaved mother. One day she read what the babies looked like and what they had been named:

Joy and sorrow, with few emotions in between, fill the beige house with blue trim where Kathy Mogayzel brought her twin infant sons home…the healthy brown-eyed boys who weighed in at just over five pounds each are already distinguishing themselves. Bradley appears to be the fiery one, like his older brother, Zack. And C.J., who takes his name from the middle initials of his father and older brother, is more laid-back, like his father.

Days turned into weeks, and still God burdened Michele’s heart with the desire to comfort this widow. But, how? She simply trusted that her prayers would be answered in any God saw fit.  She knew she didn’t have to be the one who embraced Kathy, as long as other hands reached out to hold her.

Months later, Kathy Mogayzel left her house for the first time since the tragic accident when a friend invited her to see the Baltimore Orioles play the Texas Rangers. Because the Orioles were the favorite team of Kathy’s deceased husband, she agreed to attend. And because Michele’s husband, John Wetteland, happened to be the clean-up pitcher for the Rangers, she too would be at the game. And that’s when Michele and Kathy had a holy moment. While buying two-for-one-hotdogs, these two women ended up in the very same line. Michele struck up a conversation that led to the discovery that they both were mothers of twins. Suddenly Michele realized that this was the women she had been praying for. Immediately she invited Kathy to watch the rest of the game in her private skybox.  At the end of the evening, God used Michele to introduce Kathy to her deceased husband’s hero, Cal Ripken Jr., who offered to sign her jersey. As they parted, Michele told Kathy, “When you think of this night, remember that there’s hope in Christ who will bring joy to your life again.”

Later Kathy wrote:

Where do I began to thank you? Not only did you make one of my biggest dreams come true (meeting Cal Ripken) you have put a smile back on my face that I never thought would be there again…You are the closest thing I’ve met to an angel…I do believe that God put me in the right place, at the right time and then opened a little window in the clouds.

Holy moments occur when we’re in the right place, at the right time, with a righteous cause. They begin the second that God’s providence intersects our lives, setting in motion a series of events that sweep us into action.  Michele’s heart had been burdened with a righteous cause-prayer for a widow. Then, through God’s providential hand, she and Kathy met at the right place and at the right time. All things really are possible, especially when we delight in God and faithfully respond to the desires He plants deep within our hearts.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Though you are one of the teeming millions in this world, and though the world would have you believe that you do not count and that you are but a speck in the mass, God says, ‘I know you.’” While the possibility of Kathy and Michele ever meeting was slim to none, the odds didn’t matter: God had arranged a remarkable rendezvous to show a hurting woman that He knew her by name and saw all her pain.

Providence means that the hand of God is in the glove of human events.  Make no mistake about it. God will have His way. Though He remains invisible, He is in no way indifferent. Former president of Rochester Theological Seminary, Dr. Augustus Hopkins Strong (1836-1921) wrote, “Providence is God’s attention focused everywhere.”

Make certain that the next time God places a desire within your heart, you follow wherever it leads, whether to the jungles of Africa, the courts of a king or a concession line in a sports stadium. Who knows whether you have come to your place of influence for such a time as this?  Your holy moments may be just around the corner.

Holy Moments, Inspire

We Need To Let Go

Prayer-for-The-Sinner672x345I used to have a dog named Cleo. She had a favorite squeaky toy that had been slobbered on, chewed apart and buried in the backyard. It was her prize possession. If I would try to snatch it from her mouth, she would run in the other direction. Even if I walked into the backyard with a T-bone steak to tantalize and entice her to drop the dirty squeaky, Cleo would still rather have that old toy.  There was simply no reasoning with my canine companion that her favorite thing was a piece of junk.

But aren’t we like that sometimes? Don’t we treat our “stuff” as beautiful when, in fact, it’s banal? We may strut about proudly, like the Emperor in his new (no) clothes, only to discover that our wardrobe is rather threadbare. What we must do instead is exchange our filthy rags for Christ’s robes of righteousness. We must let go of some of our favorite things in order to pursue God’s favorite things–His holy delights. And God has an amazing exchange program. Just look at Isaiah’s prophecy, in which God promises “to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isa. 61:3).

Do you have any junk you’re having difficulty letting go of? One piece of junk I had a hard time letting go of was the need to please. I picked up that powerful compulsion shortly after my parents divorced, during my impressionable elementary school days. That tragedy left me with a sense of responsibility and blame. Perhaps it was my fault that Mom and Dad couldn’t stay together. I mistakenly believed that if I did everything just right, then events in our family life would turn out all right.

The day my mother told us of the separation, I set myself on a crusade to fix broken things through my behavior. I took on the role of the consummate middle child–placing myself in between two disenfranchised parties. If only Mom knew how much we loved Dad, she’d take him back.  Perhaps I could communicate this to her. If only Dad knew how much we needed Mom, he’d apologize and come home. I reasoned that if I wrote him the perfect letter, got better grades in school or dressed like an angel, this tragedy could be reversed.

When my older sister, Suzanne, cried herself to sleep at nights for months in reaction to the divorce, I shifted roles with her. I became like the big sister, thinking that self-will and determination could make things better. Somehow I must fix it. The truth is, no matter how hard we try, we can’t fix people. That is God’s business.

Trying to be perfect only created a façade. What was visible on the outside couldn’t begin to reveal the emptiness on the inside. By the time I was in college, I had developed two insatiable needs: to feel loved and to be unconditionally accepted by a man. The loss of an everyday father figure left me searching to fill a gaping void. If love couldn’t keep my parents together, I believed I would never be capable of loving a man enough to marry one. Since I had no concept of “real love,” I settled for counterfeits, moving from one unhealthy relationship to another.

But I didn’t stop there. I also tried to fill the black hole in my heart by having a “good time”–which included drinking, smoking pot and developing a vulgar sense of humor. Outwardly, I maintained a 3.5 grade-point average, worked part-time in a swank department store and, with a major in fashion merchandising, I dressed like a model on the cover of Seventeen magazine. But these “perfect” trappings couldn’t contain the turmoil I felt inwardly. So, like many others of my generation, I self-medicated to keep up the veneer. I was a walking contradiction.

Something happened my sophomore year that tore off my mask of perfection, exposing my true self just beneath the surface. My father changed radically from atheist doctor and law student to a born-again Christian and disciple of Christ.  One rainy winter day, at Pirate’s Cove in Newport Beach, he was baptized by Chuck Smith, the pastor of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California.

Everything I had embraced in life-including my disbelief in love–including my disbelief in love and my hedonistic lifestyle–was now challenged by Dad’s newfound faith. I began to fall into a downward spiral of depression. The years of living a double life were catching up with me–and none of my “medications” was effective enough to stop the light from shining right through my outer shell into the depths of my soul. These burning questions irritated me: “What if Dad is right and I’m wrong?” “What if there is a God?” “What if heaven and hell truly exist?” As I headed for Southern California on summer break, I was determined to check out Calvary Chapel for myself.

Every Sunday morning, Chuck invited people to come forward for prayer, but I was too ashamed to join the many others making their way to the altar. I couldn’t escape feeling dirty and unacceptable in the eyes of God.  Determined to find the cleansing and closeness I desired with God, I eventually left my seat on a painful journey to the prayer room.  As I walked down the aisle, each step caused my burden to increase to an unbearable degree. I thought everyone present could see behind my façade.

Musician-turned-pastor Malcolm Wild greeted me in the prayer room. This gentle man with the honest gaze was a huge fan of Charles Finney, the great nineteenth-century revivalist who helped to bring godly repentance to thousands of people’s lives and hearts, and it showed. Malcolm asked me a probing question: “Have you repented or of your sins?” At first, I was startled. After all, it was a very bold question. Even more, I was unfamiliar with biblical terms and thought repentance meant wearing a large sign that warned “The end of the world is near!” So I told Malcolm, “I have no idea what that is.”

He responded, “Repentance means to have a change of heart and direction, to turn from sin, and turn toward God. Sin separates us from God but confession brings forgiveness.” Then he quoted Isaiah 1:18: “Let us reason together,’ says the LORD, ‘Through your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.’ “And that’s when God’s compelling truth hit me: I had been too ashamed of my past to accept God’s mercy. But this passage declared that God was ready and willing to cleanse anything I might be guilty of!

As Malcolm spoke, my heart began to thaw like an icicle yielding to the sun’s warmth. Tears began to run down my face. My fake, “perfect” veneer was melting. When Malcolm asked, “Would you like to pray now for forgiveness?” all I could do was nod in agreement. With voice wavering and hands shaking, I repeated a prayer that set me free from sin and its destructive companion, shame. At long last I was letting go! Absolute relief and a newfound delight swept over me.

After that experience, my feelings of unworthiness never returned. My heart became like a fresh page, and I had a chance to rewrite the story of my life. The Holy One began making me holy as I made His delights my very own. I soon discovered that God reciprocated by delighting in me! The psalmist proclaimed, “He delivered me because He delighted in me” (Ps. 18:19).

Holy Moments, Inspire

Develop Holy Desires

Bethleham-or-Belen-672x345What would you do with a second chance?  If you could start your life over or change its directions, what would you do and where would you go? Not long after I surrendered my heart to the Lord, my fresh start began with an inkling of a thought dancing in my mind. Perhaps you could describe this as a desire freshly planted in my heart.  You see, never in my life had I experienced such delight and contentment in a pursuit as I had in seeking God.  King David said, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4).  I believe that as I worshiped Jesus, and as I learned His ways and obeyed His commands, He began to cultivate desires in my heart that were His very own!

My budding desire was to become a pastor’s wife. What’s so amazing is that this newfound desire seemed so natural, almost second nature, as though I’d always wanted to grow up and marry a pastor. My pastor, Chuck Smith, always said, “God moves supernaturally, naturally.”  In other words, you may not recognize God’s hand of providence in the now, but in hindsight His intervention becomes obvious. So, if you’d told me before I asked the Lord to come into my life that I was destined to become a pastor’s wife, I would have laughed out loud. But after I was born again, I assumed that every good Christian woman wanted to be a pastor’s wife.

One day I told my godly roommate about my little inkling. She looked at me like I was an alien and shouted, “No way! Get thee behind me!” She absolutely couldn’t relate. Apparently this desire was unique to my heart.  Honestly, I’d never met a pastor’s wife and didn’t have the faintest idea what one did. Nonetheless, the hunger increased and prevailed until God providentially brought Skip Heitzig into my life. Then my dream came true!

I wish I could say that everything I’ve ever wished for has been miraculously granted, but I can’t.  And maybe that’s a good thing. Because not everything I’ve wanted has been a good thing. Like the time I longed to become a buyer for a swank department store.  My major in college was fashion merchandising, and I had been voted “best dressed” by my graduating class in high school–I knew how to pull an outfit together and get the designer look for less. But God doesn’t focus on outward appearances; He places importance on the heart (see 1 Sam. 16:7).

I’ve since realized that my desires were shortsighted–God didn’t want me to spend my life playing dress-up.  Instead, God placed a new desire within me to adorn my heart. Peter wrote, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward; arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel–rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet. 3:3-4).

Oswald Chambers explains that delighting in God puts us in line with His will. When that delight is disturbed, by a hesitation within our spirit or a sense of caution, perhaps it is God redirecting our path. Chambers said, “When you are rightly related to God, it is a life of freedom and liberty and delight; you are God’s will and all your commonsense decisions are his will for you unless he checks. You decide things in perfect delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong he will always check. When he checks, stop at once.”

If your dreams have been shattered, perhaps it’s for a good reason. God might be trying to direct you on a different path. Maybe He’s opening the door to a fresh start that leads to the holy moment of a lifetime!