Musings of What I Learned in the Lion’s Den

I had no idea what it was like to come down from a year long endurance test.  We thought when the house was once again ours that we would just be back to normal immediately.  Not so!!  When your physical self is in constant adrenaline flow, that fight or flight response that comes when you sense danger, even when you are walking in faith, you don’t just immediately “get back to normal.”  For one thing your soulish realm (mind, will, and emotions) has to come back into a rest and let go, without constantly focusing on the one thing you were believing for.  I couldn’t afford to let down my shield of faith for even a moment.  I have experienced weird sensations of exhaustion and irritableness.  It has been kind of like that letdown after Christmas as a kid.  Something you are so into that it consumes you and then, just like that, it is over.  I found myself longing for the constancy of the trial, believe it or not.  I was so close to Jesus throughout the ordeal for survival, that when it was over I had to make a conscious effort to keep that presence going in every day normal life.  I missed Him.  I realized whose fault that was right away; certainly not His.  So, back to the dining room table  I went (where I meet Him in the mornings) and began my journal talking to Him once again;  Onto bigger things with Jesus.  Only I don’t know what those bigger things are yet.  Another adventure!!

First I must look at what I learned throughout this trial of huge proportions.  I still marvel at how it all happened and the miracle that no one can refute was straight from God.  People who know us are still shaking their heads and marveling.  It truly was not just about us.  That I do know.  It is not that we are different or have more faith than others.  I believe we have been examples, used by Him to help others realize the full potential of how we were all meant to live; In the Gospel of Kingdom living that He so completely provided for us.  If this walk speaks to even one that He is all powerful and no respecter of persons, and that He will do the same for anyone who calls upon His name it will be worth it.

So many times I struggled with feelings and perceptions about losing my house.  But soon realized that feelings could not be the basis of what I was standing for.  Faith believes in things you cannot see or feel.    Faith comes from knowing Him.  The more we have an intimate relationship with Him and listen to Him, either through His word or through time just spent sitting at His feet, the more we trust Him to do what He says He will do. As I look back over the blog of the whole story I realize that I went through the throes of grief in the whole process until I had finally accepted His perfect will and if that meant giving up my home, then I had to be willing.  The biggest thing I now see in clarity is that His deliverance came from us losing the house altogether, when it sold out from under us in a day’s time.  If we had not lost the house we would never have witnessed  His miracle working power in getting it back to us, with smaller payments, and with such a huge opportunity to buy it back at less than what we owed in the first place.   I ask you.  When does that happen?   Difficulty does not necessarily mean disaster.  Heavy winds and seas don’t necessarily mean you’re on the wrong course.   It sometimes means we are right on target.

Keeping the faith requires a fight.  2 Timothy says to “fight the good fight of faith”.  At times the evidence against us stacks up so high against the assurances that we figure there is no way this could happen and we are tempted to just give up.  If we had given up and moved out even a day before our eviction date we would not have seen His promise come to pass.  Oh, I believe He would have had a plan B for us elsewhere, but oh the glory of His miraculous power of the moment that we would have missed.  Boy, the absolute adrenaline that flowed that day before the deadline, when we knew that if we had to leave we had no place to go because we decided to make no provision for ourselves, was all consuming.

But, you know, the biggest thing I can say to you at this point about faith is this:  We can know what the bible teaches us about it.  We can hear the testimonies of others that will build our own faith.  We can sit under anointed teachers who teach us about it.  But, for me, the real answer is in knowing Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith.  Without truly knowing Him in that intimate sense of Him being your everything, or being so connected to Him you don’t make a move without His peace, or building your intimacy with Him to the place where there is absolute trust that He has your back, you will struggle with believing He has your very best in His hands.  If we don’t know Him intimately we don’t trust Him with our whole beings.   That, to me, is true Kingdom living.

Coming in the next blog:  Does God Still Use Angels, really?

A Sure Dwelling Place, Part 8, The final outcome!

Well friends, God did it!!!  HE DID IT!!!!  He was faithful in all that He said right up unto the very end.  When we thought all was lost on many occasions throughout this ordeal He always revealed to us that He was the third person standing in the firey trial with us.  Words cannot express our gratitude to all of you who stood with us and prayed fervently and believed with us against all odds.  So many of you I don’t even know.  Wow!!  My prayer is that this journey is a testimony to all of you to never give up and always look to Him for your answers, because when all else fails, there is NOTHING impossible to our God!

February 13, 2012

The day started out with phone calls from Sandee whom we have called our mighty warrior, with much fondness by now.   She confided in me today that the in the pressure of being the “mighty warrior”  she has at times in this journey felt like laying down her sword and shield and giving up.  She laughingly says she is getting rusty and is ready for a rest now.   She has been caught in the cross hairs of the battle throughout this whole ordeal.  But, honestly, if God had not sent her we would not have had a clue what to do.  But remember when I prayed in the midst of the winds for the Lord to please send a warrior……He sent her.  So, Sandee, if you are reading this which I am sure you are, He chose you!!  He planned it 22 years ago when you first met Greg.  He knew it was for such a day as this.  Words could never express the gratitude that flows from our hearts.   Thank God for your obedience and bull-dog perseverance!!

God has not only used Sandee, but others and many we never met as the whole of the drama played out.  And not people we would have guessed that He would have used.  As a matter of fact, most of the people He actually used to make this all happen were people we didn’t even know 6 months ago and some we still don’t know because they wish to remain anonymous.  I keep seeing a giant chess board with God in control of where the pieces are moved to accomplish check mate and God wins!!!

Sandee shared that she was in Santa Barbara having dinner with her friend and sharing our story with her.  A man at a table nearby was eavesdropping and interjected into their conversation that all the parties involved in this deal need to read 1 John on what it really means to walk in His kind of love with our brothers and sisters in Christ.   He asked our names and said he would pray on our behalf for this to work out in God’s perfect timing.  God has His people everywhere and is not limited to our acquaintances.

So, this is what came down.  God raised up a friend in another state who heard about our plight with Bank of America, after they had sold our house. I think they were actually following this blog. We had not called him.  He said he wanted to help.  We gave him Sandee’s number.  Through a long set of negotiations they finally arrived at the agreeable number he could contribute to buying our house back for us.  But it was less than what the new owner wanted.  We needed to raise another $45,000. Two weeks before the deadline an investor came forward with $25,000.  We were then down to $20,000.  Time was running out and not a clue who would be the final one that God would call to do this.  On February 11th we got a call that another call came in from someone who would provide the final amount to complete the transaction.  If this all comes about, in the timely manner that is required, we will rent the house back with a lease to buy it back in two years when it is legal in our state after a foreclosure and auction.  We will buy the house back for less than we owed on it when it went into foreclosure.  Is that not God?

Now it is two days before the time to move and all day the negotiations are going on.  Back and forth…the need for assurances, collateral, and all the necessary things that come about through a home sale in real estate that I don’t have a clue about.  We are still waiting as of now for the final outcome.  We will not be assured until it reaches escrow we are told.

Wish I could say that we are feeling great and have no doubts.  It is still a battle of the mind and spirit….there have been so many times in this journey that we climbed the peaks to only be dashed back down to the ground in disappointment.

 

Valentine’s Day, 2012:

Happy Valentine’s Day Lord!!  I love you and am already beginning to feel the weight of this house lifting off my shoulders.  It feels like slowly coming out of a cocoon into the bright of day.  This is what hope restored feels like!!  I am sure of it!!  Even though I still don’t have the surety yet that this transaction is complete I can actually feel in my spirit that the battle is over.  Victory is here.  You are an awesome God.  Everything that you have spoken to me in the past months has come to pass.  Amazing!!  You carried me through in Your capable arms.  You want no man to receive the glory but You.  This house is a memorial to You and You alone.  And I already know that your justice will be carried out in the future…..you have proven that the world’s system cannot hold down your children.  When our eyes remain on you I believe you will continue to show us true Kingdom living at it’s best.  It is not the house.  The house is just a symbol of your faithfulness to Your kids.   There are so many mansions out there and the best is yet to come when we come home to live with You.  But this little modest house was chosen by You to show Your glory and I am humbled that You fought on our behalf to prove to the world that you always win. 

A few hours after this prayer,  Sandee shows up at our door.  In her hand she held a stuffed red monkey and a bag of homemade cookies.  The monkey was holding a rolled up piece of paper.  The three of us sat down and she gave us her Valentine’s gift.  The monkey, she said, was in reference to the monkey we have had on our back for a year with the ordeal of this house.  “He is now off your backs,” she said.  “He is here to remind you that it is over.”  We unrolled the paper and it was a hand drawn picture of our house, drawn by Sandee’s daughter.  At the top of the paper was a number in the sign of a rainbow over the house.  Our escrow number!!!

THE HOUSE WAS IN ESCROW!!!!!   It is DONE!!!!   Everything went through!!!! There’s more. We learned that the day before this occurred the first investor had fallen through.  Five minutes after Sandee found this out I got a call from another person that said they knew someone who wanted to invest in our house.  I told him we already had all we needed, but then I called Sandee to tell her.  She very calmly said to have him call her in case we needed a back up.  Unbeknown to me, she was sitting there wondering what to do now that the first investor with the $25,000 fell through.    She called this new person wanting to invest and within the hour she had it all together and with the help of her partner and so many others, they put the deal together and the owner signed the agreement.   So, it all came down to Valentine’s Day being the day she presented the gift of our home back.  THANK YOU GOD!!!

God did it, folks.  Happy Valentine’s day to us!!  Words cannot express our gratitude but you can imagine.  And there is no way anyone can explain this away as not being a complete and total act of God on our behalf.  He said it all along.  He said he had it and that the battle is great.  He said there would be mighty winds blowing.  He said we would see His deliverance and He would get all the glory.  He held me all the way through this.  I truly have never felt closer to my Jesus than I do now.  The pure joy of having survived this trial and testing to only know my Jesus more intimately is beyond description.

The day before we found out, God gave Greg this scripture from Ezekiel 12:28 ….

“Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign LORD.’ “

Satan is defeated.   Lord, I can truthfully and with true feeling, not just by faith, now say with a surety, that You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.

My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.   Isaiah 32:18

A Sure Dwelling Place, Part 7

This will be the last post before the final outcome of our journey.  This next week we will either have a miracle or we will be moving to wherever the Lord will lead us.  This story as I look back has been an unbelievable journey of faith and growth.  We are so tired, but know the end is in sight.  If nothing happens, we will have to move out by next Wed. the 15th.  We have made no provisions for what we will do.

February 10, 2012

We have all the money for the price of the house except $20,000.  Our warrior is scrambling and insists that the house won’t be lost for such a mere amount.  Yet, without it we will have to move out.  We’ve been cleaning cupboards but not packing.  Words cannot describe the tension we are battling every moment of every day.  Yet, we both feel His presence in the midst of it.  It is about the fight now to rise above our human natural tendency to panic.

We have been attacked on every side.   We have friends judging us and calling us crazy because we have not moved by now.  We have friends who want to run the show but have produced nothing.  We have had friends flippingly tell us, “Well, I guess you’ll be moving” , with not a clue how that would affect us.  We know we are being judged and condemned as foolish and unwise.  Hmmmmm…seems like I remember a lot of other people in the bible who were also thought crazy.    We just smile and continue in forgiveness. Throughout it all we have been taught many valuable lessons.   The disillusionment with people has only served to reveal that if we are DISillusioned, then at some point we were living in an illusion.  Who wants to live in an illusion?  It is not truth…we see what we want to see.  But people are people.  They say a lot of things.  We are called by God to minister His kingdom living to them.  But the minute our eyes focus on people to deliver us we open the door for the works of the flesh to enter in.

I have come to realize that God can use people and usually does, but He is certainly not limited to that.  He can also bring people you don’t even know to invest in you so no one can get the glory for His deliverance but Him.  That is what we perceive He is doing in this situation.

God often causes delays in our lives that we cannot understand. It may seem our obedience is not getting rewarded. Jesus said He learned obedience through the things He suffered (see Heb. 5:8). Now, I know what that means.  So much truth comes into focus through these kinds of trials.  Imagine that – Jesus having to learn obedience. Sometimes God’s delays are simply because He wants more glory in the situation, more recognition, more Christ-likeness in you and me through greater patience and obedience. “Faint not, for the promise is yet come”, He says.

Lord, this is my prayer today:  Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord;  I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Even thought we are pressed on every side by troubles, we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. I will continue to rejoice in You Lord.  We are at the midnight hour and yet I am still alive.  I haven’t died.  Though I thought I might.  I have a smile on my face.  I love you!! (Hab 3:17-18,  2Cor. 4)

That afternoon I received the following email from the representative of the new owner:

Just checking in to be sure we are on track for vacancy on the 15th.  If you’d like me to stop by and pick up keys, openers, etc from you that day I can do so, or you are welcome to drop them by my office at 2540 Professional Pkwy.  Whatever is easiest is fine – just let me know either way so I can plan and advise the owner.”

You can imagine the thoughts running through my head at this point but I am not giving into them.  I will not be crushed or driven to despair.  Remember back a few months ago when the Lord told me to ‘Hold onto my hat, that the winds are blowing?”   I can now tell you that I have truly felt those spiritual winds like never before and I had no idea at the time what He meant…….

2 Corinthians 1:8–9, “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.”

Next week:   We will have the answer….

A Sure Dwelling Place, Part 6

I was hoping we wouldn’t find ourselves at the 11th hour, but here we are.   We are certainly caught up in the winds of adversity.  It is not fun, but in a way, to be totally at the Lord’s mercy for your provision in your home is kind of wreckless and a place of total surrender.  We have no choice at this point…if this is your first read on this story please start at Part 1.  Thanks for hanging in there with us!!

January 31, 2012

I am beginning to feel as if this trial is almost over, seriously.  This morning the Lord brought me this word out of Deuteronomy:  “You have circled the mountain long enough.  Now turn North.”  It made me laugh when I read it.  God is so good.  He is humorous with us if we have a sense of humor and can appreciate it.  Yeah , Jesus, I think I am sick of this mountain…thanks for the direction!!!  North is where I am heading.  Wherever that is…..I think it means ‘up’…….I know He will show me when the time comes.

I find myself waking up early in the morning trying to figure out where I will move all my plants to if we put things in storage.  And where will we set up our computers so we can continue to do our work.  I was working out the whole scenario in my mind until I realized what I was doing.  “Don’t think about tomorrow,” He says. “I will take care of your tomorrows.”

I am sure when this is over I will be overwhelmed with the things I have learned along this frightful and insecure journey.  Already I am beginning to feel like a well worn traveler, with wise old eyes, having walked the path of uncertainty and fear, and when I get to the mountain top I will be able to look around me  and tell others that it was well worth the pain to get to that place.  He certainly talked to me all the way through this and told me to rest in Him.  Why did I falter at times?  The God of the universe spoke to me!!!  Why would I still doubt?  One of the words that opened my eyes came after posting the last blog.   It was from a friend who said this:

“I sure empathize with you…it’s hard not to waver!  But what you said is what I believe God wants!

 “I know I sound like a child right now but that is how I feel. I want to cry “Papa, take care of me. Hold me. Tell me this will get better”……doesn’t sound very spiritual I know, but yet it is as spiritual as I am right now.”

He wants us to be totally dependent and come to Him like a little child, just like you just did.  It’s OK to want comfort and reassurance. Maybe feeling out of control and weak is what He was waiting for.  I know you know the scripture 2 Cor 12:9. And He seems to like waiting until the very last minute to rescue us to test our faith. Hang in there!  He IS faithful!”

Wow!!  Such profound truth.  He was waiting for me to let go of everything and trust Him like a child, whose only source of comfort and provision was from Him.  It was a weakness that caused great fear and a feeling of being totally out of control.  But that left me totally where he wanted me to be.  That has to come in layers in our lives, and how can we ever get there without these trials?  It reminds me of when I was nursing my children.  I felt a profound sense of oneness with God as my child took his/her nourishment from only me.   They were totally reliant on me for their very life.  It is a wonderful feeling for a new Mom.    I believe we are to come to Him as an infant;  totally reliant on Him to keep us nourished and alive and in His will.  And we can let a very personal God rock us in his big ol’ rocking chair when we get freightened.

February 2, 2012

We haven’t heard from Sandee in 3 days.  This feels like free falling in darkness, not knowing where we will land.  Yet, oddly, in worldly terms, feeling a sense of wonder absolutely knowing I am a part of a huge plan that only He knows about and whatever comes He will get me through it with victory.  However, the minute I get into my mind and take it off the Lord and allow torture thoughts to come in, I lose ground.  And now the internet is down and I can’t work on my writing, check my blog, or work with my coaching.  Satan is the principality of the air.  He must be mad he is losing.

So many in the body of Christ enter a relationship with God that brings salvation through His Son, Jesus.  But God actually created us to experience not only  the gospel of salvation but the gospel of the Kingdom.  He wants us to experience His power and presence every day of our lives and see His hand at work in the details of our lives.  He must be more than an ‘honored’ guest into our house (heart) He must have the key to our houses (hearts) and our lives.  When I give Him access to every part of me and continue to surrender everything, including my dwelling place, to Him, He is free to work the circumstances so that I am walking in His perfect will.   For me, I am in a time of trial and persecution which I know won’t last forever, but will work His perfect will in me in the end.  If I was just walking in the gospel of salvation only, without a clue that He wants an intimate relationship with me, I would probably be on Prozac by now.  A miracle has already occurred in my heart and mind that while I am still uncertain of the outcome I once again find peace.

February 5, 2012

Here we are at the 11th hour.  I wish I could tell you about the warfare that has been going on, but trust me, it has been huge and very stress inducing.  We are almost there but satan doesn’t like it because he has been trying all sorts of diversions and attacks.  I have to continually run to the Lord and just cry, ‘help’.  I don’t know what else to say.  When the mind becomes clouded and the reasoning disappears I have learned to just shut down my mind and cling to Him with all that I can.  And you know what?  He is always, always there.  And somehow He brings peace in the middle of a tornado.

Lord, I don’t know what to say.  We are at the midnight hour, just about a week to know whether we move or stay.  No time to find a home now.  You know this.  In a way, at this point it is kind of exciting to be here, free falling into You with no end in site.  It is either you will perform a miracle and we will stay or you will perform a miracle in showing us where we will go.  You will not let us down.  Of this I am certain.  It is the uncertainty that plays games with the mind.  It is so against our common reasoning as mere humans to not have a plan when it comes to provision.  It is amazing how this ordeal is so out of our hands and into Yours.  I see myself sitting right next to You like that picture of the last supper and John is snuggled up to You with his head on your shoulder.   That’s me Lord.  Wrapped up in You forever.

Jesus says:  Pay no attention to the swirling winds.  Did I not say the winds are blowing.  They have been more vicious than you ever thought they would be.  Again, I say the warfare has been great and if you could only see the battle you would be astounded.  But my plan will not be stopped.  Just stay by my side through the next many days, keep your head on my shoulder and cling to me my child.  You are my joy and I rejoice over you with my awesome love. 

Stay tuned for Part 7!!