June 30, 2015

Provision from the Lord

Zechariah 10:1 NLT says, "Ask the LORD for rain in the spring, for he makes the storm clouds. And he will send showers of rain so every field becomes a lush pasture". 

Today, I am praising God for He has provided a way for me to go, He has met my needs with sufficiency, and He has shown me the provision of His hand.

I have blogged about this before, and I know I may sound like a broken record, but I cannot help it, I cannot help it. I believe that God always provides what we need, and that He ensures our sufficiency is met at each turn in the path or road we are on. I know that there are many Christians who are experiencing lack right now, they are behind on their bills, over their heads in debt, and struggling to make ends meet. I don't know why this is so, and because I don't know each person's story, I cannot offer a "pat answer" that will help them turn their situation around. For instance, I don't know how that brother or sister in Christ got themselves into debt? Furthermore, I don't know why they cannot pay their bills on time. For some people, these issues are self-induced by choices that were made many years ago or by unrestrained living. For others, this is not the case, and they simply are living "hand to mouth" because they lack the ability to earn more income or move into a more suitable line of work. So what I can do is pray for them without ceasing. I can pray, and I can ask Jehovah-Jireh to help them through this difficult time, to educate them on ways to right their financial situation, and to open a door of opportunity that may bring extra income or a new way to go.

Personal Experience

I know that in my case, I have lived at the borderline financially speaking as a result of choice. I lived meagerly for many years, and I suffered greatly from the stress and strain of never having "enough" income at the end of every month. For a very long time, I thought that the lack of financial security was simply a matter of time, you know, just a matter of working a bit harder, longer hours, finding more jobs (contracted), etc. I believed that earning more income was up to me and my husband, and it meant doing more work. Work harder, my ex would say. Take every job that comes to you, he would demand. The only thing that came from this approach was stress, and the feeling that I was spinning my wheels, but never getting anywhere, never moving forward.

This pattern of never having enough began to change when I separated from my ex-husband in 2010. As my son likes to say "correlation does not equal causation," yet I have to believe that the moment I separated from my husband's authority, I began to see a change in my ability to produce good income. Let me explain so that I don't say this incorrectly, and lead someone to believe wrongly...

I can bear witness to the fact that neither my ex nor myself were walking with the Lord in every area of our life. I did try to do this, but over time, I found it difficult. It was like walking in shifting sand. As the Lord would press upon me to do certain things, to let go, and to let Him lead, my ex would withdraw and refuse to follow. So we lived in this push-pull way, where I would believe that the Lord was saying to us to stop doing certain things, and he would tell me I was over-reacting or being unwilling to support him in his chosen line of work. The problem, of course, was that I did believe the Holy Spirit was convicting me, calling me to abandon the self-motivated and self-centered lifestyle we practiced, and that He was begging us to return in humility to the way of the Lord.

After 21 years of disobedience to the Lord and living in agreement to the sinful desires of my ex-husband, I decided to confess and to repent of my sin in 2006. I made the decision to turn my life around, and that day will be forever marked on my life because it is the day the Lord lifted me from the pit of slavery, and He set my feet on the solid path, the solid ROCK.

Over the course time, I had become a shell of a person.  The person I was when I married was filled with life. I was dedicated to following the Lord. I was committed to living a Godly life. I wanted to please the Lord in every area of my life. I believed that my husband loved the Lord too, and that together, we would build a Godly family. Instead, I became this "other person," a person filled with repressed anger over the sin choices my ex made during our marriage. I hated the direction we were going, and I hated the way I felt as an enabler to his sinful behavior. I was ashamed of the person I had become, and I was ashamed of the choices I made in order to keep my marriage in tact. Moreover, I was ashamed at choices I made, willingly engaging in sin myself, often to medicate the pain and emptiness I felt in my marriage.

You see, I had lived with a disagreeable heart for nearly all of our marriage.  I blamed my ex-husband for the way I felt because he had chosen to follow after worldly riches and new age mysticism in order to 'get rich' quick. He had left a good job in 1988, after just 3.5 years of marriage, and began to walk away from God in order to figure out the "secret" to wealth and prosperity. He became immersed in New Agism, and he dabbled in the occult. He would ask me to participate, and I would refuse. I would pray about it, but I felt so uncomfortable with it, that I couldn't follow along with him. The more we disagreed, the more miserable I felt. I was miserable beyond words, and I felt the oppression of demonic influence during those years. I cannot tell you how black our life was then, but it was dark, so very dark. 

As my ex continued down this path, my heart began to grow hard toward him, and I prayed often to be released from the marriage. The Bible speaks of two reasons for a spouse to divorce only, adultery and abandonment. In my case, I believed that my ex had been unfaithful to me, but I had no proof. He refused to leave the home, and he said to me that he would never let me have our child, so I knew that there was no way I could leave him. I did my best to be a loving, God-honoring wife, but in truth, I bore this hardness in my heart toward him because I believed he had lied to me, and that he had taken advantage of me sexually in order to get his way.  He married me, and he promised me that our life would be predicated on God's word.  However, it wasn't long after we were married that I learned the truth about his life, the lies, and the behavior he engaged in regularly. He was one person on the outside, and a completely different person on the inside. I was fooled into believing that he was a Christian who honored God. In truth, he was a man who had been seduced by the darkness that promised him a life outside the Word, outside God's provision and His plan.

The last few years of our life were very rough. I turned back to the Lord with a vengeance. I adopted a rather legalistic approach, and I became involved in the "head covering" movement (fundamentalist Christianity). I have to say that while I have changed my views on head coverings, I can tell you that I understand why women do this. During my practice, I felt closer to God than ever before. I felt purified, redeemed, and holy. I cannot really explain it, but I believe the Lord allowed me to spend time in this practice in order to cleanse me from all the darkness going on around me. Of course, my behavior caused great contention in our home. My ex was not supportive of what I was doing at first, but eventually, he relented and told me that I could do whatever I wanted. He cautioned me saying that he never married an "Amish" woman, and he had no intention of being married to one.

I practiced this form of religious obedience for two years, off and on, and while I do not practice it now, I can say that I never felt so safe, secure, and holy before. I was absolutely in a special place in my relationship with the Lord, and it was a beautiful experience for me. My family didn't understand, and they made regular comments about my appearance, about my choices. It was hard for me, but I did it, and I am proud to say that it was a good experience for me, a really good experience. I would liken it to a person who chooses to join a monastery or a commune for a time. They forsake all worldly things and spend a certain amount of time in utter devotion to God. This was what I did. My time was spent doing three things: reading God's word (for hours each day), praying without ceasing (for hours), and practicing gracious living toward my husband, his family, and the church as a whole. I did these three things in addition to homeschooling my son, serving in AWANA, and keeping the website design and hosting business afloat.

In many ways, I thought that the Lord had shown me how to live in submission to an unbelieving spouse. He gave me a way to live holy, righteous, and free from the oppression WHILE I remained under my husband's headship. In 2007 and 2009, of course, we experienced severe medical crisis, and we almost lost everything due to the medical bills. My ex-husband almost died twice, and I believe that for whatever reason, the Lord spared his life (the doctor's told me he should have died). I continued to practice obedience, but in 2009, I discovered my ex was involved in a long-distance relationship with a family member. Later that year, I discovered that he was having a relationship (internet-based) with an old college girlfriend. I discovered a lot more evidence of his behavior over the months, and then in 2010, we made the decision to separate. We did seek counseling, well, rather I demanded we go through counseling. I did my counseling, but he only went 3-4 times before he quit the program.

I share my story simply to say that God redeems the broken, He restores the sorrows, and He reconciles the lost years in order to re-establish relationship with Him. In my case, I ended up separated from my ex-husband after 26 years of married. We divorced after 30 years of marriage. I bear no hardness, no anger, no resentment toward him. I pray for him, and my hope is that he returns 100% to the Lord. He does attend church, but I don't know if he has changed his beliefs. He still seems to be very far off the mark, but at the least, he comes to church and he listens to sermons that are Biblically-sound.

God Provides

Over the last five years, I have witnessed the Lord's provision for my life. I have seen Him move in mighty ways to provide for me. He has provided a home, a job, and a plan that includes my graduate study and a new career and ministry focus. I have been redeemed from the pit of slavery, and I have been restored to a place of honor. The Lord is my devotion, He is my desire, and I seek Him with intensity. He is everything to me, everything to me.

When I stop and think about where I have been, where I came from, and I look at where I am going, one thing is for sure -- God's hand marks are all over my life. I cannot take any credit for where I am today. I am living a blessed, highly favored, and fortunate life because of the work of the Lord as He leads and He guides me.

I believe the Lord has a great plan for my life. I am committed to following after Him, and to living in a way that is pleasing to Him. I have thought about returning to that way, that walk of obedience, again because there are times when I miss that spiritual connection, that deep sense of pleasing the Lord in all things. I believe that following a life of obedience, in word and in deed, reaps great rewards -- spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical rewards. The Lord is honored when we make Him our Source for everything. The Lord is honored when we choose holiness, when we choose righteousness, and when we choose to submit and yield to the inner callings and workings of the Holy Spirit.

Today is a good day for me. I feel so blessed, so blessed. God has provided for my needs for the 2015-2016 school year. I have my teaching contracts in place, and I have my school tuition paid for by scholarship. I will be OK going into the fall. Yes, my summer is still a bit tight, but I can see the end more clearly now, and I know the Lord will not let my account run dry. I will have enough money to pay my bills, to buy food for my family, and to help with the rent and other costs associated with living in this home. God is good. He is so very good to me. Selah!

"Let them praise the LORD for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them" (Psalm 107:31 NLT)

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