Jen's Jesus Journey

Psalm 23 & Lotsa Lotsa Thoughts

In December of 2014 my friend Joy connected me to a woman who was skilled in helping people know what God wanted them to focus on for their current stage of life.  The telephone conversation between the gal and myself reminded me of two fire hydrants let loose. We gushed all over each other with a zillion thoughts about our journey with the Lord, but at the end of the conversation she said she felt I should publish a book in the coming year. I felt like what she was saying was true and decided I would publish some of my poetry in a book in the coming year.

2015 had a lot in store for me. In May I moved across the country from Ohio to my new home in Albuquerque, New Mexico and began attending a new church, new job, new friends, new everything, new, new, new. My roommate graciously provided me a desk, chair and borrowed computer to help me work on my writing ventures. Through the fall I worked with another friend to edit poems and began working on putting together an e-book for publication.

In the end, I was publishing my little e-book through Amazon Kindle into the wee hours of the morning of the fourth of January 2016. I was literally falling down crying because I felt so challenged to put myself out there. I prayed through the tears and the trouble of not knowing what in the world I was doing with no one to ask for help or guidance to endeavor to do the thing I felt the Lord wanted me to do, to publish this little book.

The morning that my little e-book published on Amazon for a whopping $2.99 my bank account over-drafted from hidden charges on the car rental I had over the Christmas holiday visiting family in Ohio.  I was thankful it didn’t overdraft til I got home, so that I was able to pay for this and that on the trip and til I was home. However, there seemed a terrible irony that I couldn’t even purchase my own book that was only a few dollars.

The morning that it published, before I saw my bank account, I felt the Lord lead me to Psalm 23 in my Common English Bible. I had never been drawn to the 23rd Psalm. My familiarity with the 23rd Psalm seemed to be in WWI or WWII movies where some group of soldiers was walking into certain death and somebody in their group would begin to mournfully recite the 23rd Psalm. However, God wanted to redeem that Psalm for me and it’s what he brought me to that cold January morning.

Psalm 23 CEB

(1) The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing.

(2) He lets me rest in grassy meadows; he leads me to restful waters;

(3) He guides me in proper paths for the sake of his good name.

(4) Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger because you are with me. Your rod and your staff – they protect me.

(5) You set a table for me right in front of my enemies. You bathe my head in oil; my cup is so full it spills over!

(6) Yes, goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the Lord’s house as long as I live.

Beautiful cloud formations in Albuquerque.

God loves to speak into our circumstances with an “instead” word. Before I saw my bank account several hundred dollars in the hole he spoke to me that I lack nothing. I come back to this promise all the time. I lack nothing. That’s the truth. The true truth is I lack nothing in God. It doesn’t mean that I don’t face times without this or that. Yet, even when I am without, I don’t lack. The next several weeks I had every need met even though I had no money. I had food to eat, a way to work and back every day and night. And the craziest thing I remember about that time is that as I was closing in on getting my paycheck, I wanted to give God not 10%, but 20%. I needed to get a supplement at the store and I had some bills to pay, and I remember demanding that God make a way for me to be able to afford to give 20% even when it left me without money for much anything. I’m honestly

Intentionally celebrating BEFORE the victory.

not sure if it barely gave me grocery money and I mean like $20 maybe.

I’ll be honest, I’m impressed by that girl! I look back at her and the chutzpah to demand to give so sacrificially when I was earning so little money and pretty much the whole check was going to cover the deficit of my overdrawn checking account. God must have been doing crazy things inside of me for me to insist that he make a way for me to give even more to him. I know it was me that made the demand, but I think the desire had to start from God himself. How he works in us to desire things we should desire is certainly beyond my full comprehension!

Certificate of registration for my book.

I had a temporary work assignment that month reorganizing a file room in a credit union. It was a very physical job of moving physical files that involved leaning, bending, stretching and constant motion. I was super sore the first few days from the exertion and using so many different muscles I wasn’t used to. But that day I was quoting the second verse, “He lets me rest in grassy meadows; he leads me to restful waters.” Here I was twisting, bending, lifting and saying, “He lets me rest in grassy meadows” as I considered the restful nature of this physical job that kept me mainly in solitude from people allowing me to work diligently, yet with mental freedom to consider and ponder. So for me, it was a mentally restful assignment.

Such a pretty shot of the foliage outside my apartment.

I ponder the depth of the meaning of lacking nothing. I feel the culture in America today is such a society of abundance that personally I continue to resist a spirit of entitlement, a sense that I should have access to whatever I want, whenever I want it. So many of the struggles in American culture today come out of the very excess we have. There are hoarders and overweight, under-exercised people – these are issues I have struggled with personally and still have to daily come against. The last few years of living so lean financially, where I have literally prayed for shampoo and rent and various needs on a regular basis, where more often than not, I have not known how my need would be supplied, other than to know that God is faithful and he does and will supply.

Earlier in my life I suffered from great physical and emotional need. I have been healed and delivered from so much that I struggle to express all that Jesus Christ has set me free from. In other blogs I reference some of my physical healing although I’ve not yet written much about that. There are still different health issues that I continue to face and seek deliverance from. Christianity is such a unique balance of recognizing the reality of our circumstances, yet declaring a different reality than what we see and what we feel and expecting the Lord to deliver on His promise.

Recovered treasure on a difficult day.

Looking back, I do feel there were times I was trying to declare the word and have faith, but now I look back and feel there were times I was trying to have believing but I wasn’t. There were times I said I gave forgiveness, but I didn’t. I was doing the best I understood at the time, but now I can see what I was actually doing was stuffing my emotions and minimizing the trouble I was facing. I don’t think from the outside the difference is clear – reading what I’m saying in this blog about having no lack when I didn’t have certain things – somebody could read that and say, you’re in denial and minimizing right there!

May 2016 Selfie

One of the Christian speakers I listen to encourages folks to make a list of all the things they struggle with, the areas they feel deficient in and write it out on a piece of paper. Then on another piece of paper, write an opposite list, or down the left side of a piece of paper write the negative list and then write across from that the opposite list. Then he says – burn the first list. You don’t need a reminder of that list. You know what’s on that list. You’ve been plagued by that list. Make a declaration and a prayer of the right side of the list, the second piece of paper and live in that. It doesn’t mean the left side of the list disappeared, but what we focus on we become, what we declare will become our eventual reality if not immediately.

Romans 4:17 ESV – As it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations” – in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Our God is a God who calls into existence the things that do not exist – how powerful and beautiful is that? He literally spoke the universe into order in Genesis 1.

July 2016 Selfie

Proverbs 4:20-21 NLT -(20) My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen Carefully to my words.  (21) Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart;

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (18) So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Another July 2016 Selfie – I had little work that month and time on my hands.

I have heard one translation of Hebrews 11:1 that refers to faith as the title deed to things not yet seen.

There have been a lot of experiences the last few years that have challenged me to enjoy, to appreciate, to understand the purpose for the pain of not being able to do or buy or access things I wanted or items that seemed to be legitimate “needs.”But I have also learned so many incredible, valuable lessons the last few years about how much I thought I needed, that I can get by just fine without and how to lean on God and look to the Lord and lean in to hear the leading of the Holy Spirit on what things I REALLY DO need to get at the store when I don’t have enough to cover the list I brought. And I’ve done it so much now the last few years that I have built such a TRUST in the voice of the Lord, that I am much more confident on what is just my emotions waffling and wavering and what IS the Lord. And now I know that I can come back and say, Wait, that really feels like you telling me to get this thing that doesn’t at all feel like a need. Can you help me understand, can you tell me why? Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t, but he impresses the sensation enough on me that I feel secure in getting the item. And sometimes, I have simply said on certain decisions, Okay Lord, I don’t want to do this, and I don’t know if this is actually you urging me, but I ask that you take note that the reason I am doing this is because if it is you speaking, I don’t want to miss your guidance, so please honor my heart to be obedient in this moment and matter.

One of my first meals in the new apartment.

I’ve been taught that in times of difficulty the Holy Spirit comforts us. I realize now that doesn’t mean that the pain disappears. It doesn’t mean everything is instantaneously okay and immediately enjoyable. But more and more, I do see the work of the Comforter in my life. I am realizing how much of a confidence and trust I HAVE developed the last several years in big, faith-filled moves like walking out of my apartment not knowing where I’d sleep, to daily living matters of knowing the Lord will help me in my grocery shopping and cooking to make a way and make a success out of what I have. I still think God stretches my stuff. And I pray for him to do that – but sometimes I stop and think, gosh, that thing or this product sure has lasted a long time!   The truth is that this deepening intimacy with the Lord has sorta crept in little by little so that I didn’t realize how much it’s become part of who I am.

Starting at the end of 2011 and especially in 2014 I had explosive, dynamic, life-altering interactions with God where I saw visions and heard Jesus telling me jokes and the Holy Spirit giving me instructions about things I couldn’t have known otherwise. After a ministry session of deliverance and healing the Prophet spoke a simple-seeming phrase that had deep meaning for me and resurrected the memory of a powerful God-encounter that I’d completely buried and forgotten from three decades before.

In the culminating session of an 8-week class on the prophetic, in our final “practice” time with each other I listened as the fellow student I was partnered with, a woman I’d never before spoken to, essentially verbalized an ongoing conversation/argument I had been having with the Lord. She spoke my part and she spoke God’s response to my concerns and agitation. It’s the strangest thing to sit and listen to someone you’ve never met reveal a very intimate dialogue you’ve been having with the Lord, and she did it with such tenderness, such gentleness, especially as she spoke God’s response to my fears and concerns.

After years of considering myself a Christian where I had little to no experience of encountering God, in a short span of years, I had shocking, surprising and incredible encounters with God. And yet, I can say that it has been in the difficulty and situations honestly of suffering over the last few years where I’ve come to TRULY KNOW and TRUST the voice of the Lord SO DEEPLY in so many matters to allow greater confidence of his leading and his guidance. There are so many places now that I stop and seek his voice and have confidence in the answer and the instruction.

Psalm 23:3b

He guides me in proper paths for the sake of his good name.

God will guide us in the paths that are proper for us. I saw a quote a few years ago about how we don’t know what someone else’s journey is about, and that has helped me immensely when I feel the pull to compare myself whether negatively or pridefully to somebody else’s journey. Whether I’m tempted to think I’m doing better than someone else, or I’m tempted to think I’m doing worse than someone else, I draw my heart back to the proper path the Lord has me on and remember that he is the one I am ultimately accountable to.

 

 

 

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