There is nothing-no circumstance, no trouble, no-testing that can ever touch me until, first of all it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a GREAT PURPOSE, which I may not understand at the moment. As I refuse to become panicky, as I lift my eyes up to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, no circumstance will ever cause me to fret-for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is- that is the rest of VICTORY!!!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Swallowed up........

As I walk around the house I can't help but get overwhelmed at the piles and piles of clutter and stuff. With a 7 year old its easy to accumulate so many odds and ends. Barbie shoes, stickers, Legos, games, play-doh its like a grab bag of fun exploded in my dining room. The one area though that seems to always stare at me whenever I'm near is the bookshelves. I love books. I never thought I would be saying this but I love to read and find great comfort with my fuzzy blanket and nose tucked in a book. My husband and I have this running joke that the bookshelves are full so to him I need to clean out the books we have but for me I say we need more bookshelves :) My bookshelves are pretty tidy and neat but my daughters on the other hand is downright SCARY! From "The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Curious George and Skippy Jon Jones" there are tons and tons of various books that we have collected since Macie was born 7 years ago. Its always a neat moment though when I am thankful we haven't taken my husbands advice and cleaned out the books when we stumble upon a book we have read numerous times to our daughter and can still remember the sight of her little hands holding it and turning the pages with such wonder and excitement.

Yesterdays message was in the book of Jonah which made me think of one of my daughters favorites books when she was little about "Jonah and the Whale." It was one of those books that throughout the story there would be little symbols and on the side of the book you would push buttons to the matching symbols and it would play music or sound effects to go along with the story. I could hardly wait to get home from Church last night to try and  hunt down that book in hopes that we still had it on that shelf of chaos in Macies toy-room. To my delight there it was and the memories flooded my heart as I looked at the worn pages and dirty fingerprints as evidence of the many quiet moments and giggles spent reading that little book. I never knew then that this moment in time would come and I would be going back to that book and the significance it would have in my life but as I hold it in my hands God impresses upon me the power behind Jonah and that big fish.

Jonah was a man that tried to run from God. Instead of surrendering to Gods will and allowing Him to guide Jonahs steps Jonah did everything he could to run the opposite way from God and avoid submitting to Gods plans. See Jonah was convinced that he had it all under control and he knew exactly what he was doing and he didn't need God to tell him what to do with his life or where to go. As we read on in the story we find out that Jonah's disobedience causes him to be swallowed by a giant whale. For 3 days Jonah sits isolated, scared, empty and covered in filth in the belly of that whale. As Jonah is separated from the outside world he begins to cry out to God for another chance, for God to deliver him from the mess of his disobedience and his heart is broken and desperate for change and transformation. God hears Jonahs cries for help and impresses upon the whale to spit Jonah out and let him have another chance.

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.  He said:

“In my distress I called to the Lord,
    and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
    and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the depths,
    into the very heart of the seas,
    and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
  swept over me.  
I said, ‘I have been banished
    from your sight;
yet I will look again
    toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me,
    the deep surrounded me;
    seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
    the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
    brought my life up from the pit.
 “When my life was ebbing away,
    I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
    to your holy temple.
 “Those who cling to worthless idols
    turn away from God’s love for them
  But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”
 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

I have read this story a number of times and each time I read it I still stand in and disbelief that Jonah was really swallowed by a big whale. In my humanness its hard for me to look at the rationality behind "Jonah and the Whale" and imagine a man sitting in the belly of a fish but because of the power and awesomeness of Jesus who died on a cross for my messiness I believe that there once was a man named Jonah who tried running from God and because of his disobedience he was swallowed by a whale. But the same God that sent the whale to swallow Jonah up also heard his desperate, sincere, broken cries and orchestrated the events that caused him to be spit out on the shore and a second chance placed at his feet.

Now I live in this little town in Ohio and the only water I see nearby is a mud puddle outside my front door so I don't see any whales swimming by anytime soon today to swallow anyone up. As I look around my community and world though I see strongholds that the enemy has placed in the paths of Gods children that engulf their lives. I see destruction with relationships, finances, addictions, depression and at first it seems like you have it all under control and you know how to handle things but then you realize this thing has a hold on you and has swallowed up your life. Its separated you from the very people and things in life that you love most and has isolated you to sit empty, broken, hurt and confused.

I have to admit that I have been there. I have tried running from God and put this tough girl mask on thinking I could do it on my own but after making mistake after mistake I found myself a mess, broken and empty begging God for another chance and crying out for Him to deliver me from the path of destruction I had chosen in an attempt at running from Him. As I sat at the bottom of the pit caused by my own destruction God met me right in the midst of my pain and delivered me from the enemy, He broke the chains the enemy had placed on me through strongholds in my life and spit me out at the feet of Jesus with a second chance waiting. I made bad choices and He had every right to leave me stuck but because we are loved by the most gracious, forgiving God he not only helped pull me out of that pit but God took my story and redeemed it and is still transforming my heart each day. He changed the song in my heart and turned my mourning into dancing, He traded beauty for ashes.

Psalm 30:11

You did it: you changed wild lament
    into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
    and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song;
    I can’t keep quiet about you.
God, my God,
    I can’t thank you enough.

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