Where do I begin? I haven’t written in quite some time. Of course, I journal most every day. But I’ve been waiting….waiting on the coming oasis that I wrote about last time. And I have found it! Oh, the inexpressible faithfulness of God! How to describe it….you must experience it for yourself. It is for everyone who knows Jesus. But testimonies we hear of others build our faith, so I will be obedient to continue to tell my story.
One year ago my daughter Shawn and I were able to attend the Woman Conference at New Life Church, my home church at the time, in Conway, Arkansas. It was amazing. Lisa Bevere was our speaker, and I remember her main theme centered around being courageous in Christ. It was the first time we had worshiped to Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) (Hillsong United, 2013). And I remember clearly during the chorus, the Spirit spoke to me. The chorus of Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) is this:
“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”
As I worshiped with all my heart, the Spirit spoke to me and told me something was about to happen in our lives that would take great faith to walk through, but that He would be with us. When I returned home that evening, Mark was sitting on the couch starting at the T.V. He doesn’t watch T.V. It was then he told me he had gotten a call from our Christian financial broker. Having made a commitment to diversification, he had violated his own standard without our knowledge and made an unwise investment decision, and our money, along with that of the other investors, had been stolen.
We had been living on the interest on that investment to fund our ministry, Hope Preserved, since 2010. When the Lord called Mark to this ministry, He told Him that He would have to leave his job, but that He would provide for us. A couple of months later, his department where he worked downsized, and he was laid off. We tried to wisely use what funds we had, and they were sustaining us. Now what we had to live on was a limited amount of money in savings and a small rent house which we soon sold. But God said He would provide, and He is reminding us to exercise our faith in His promise.
This happened before we had ever been called to Waco, first to teach a ministry workshop (that came a couple of months after this), and then two month-long visits earlier this year to do ministry and continue to seek God’s will. We were led to Antioch Community Church, and taken in warmly, invited to lunches and people’s homes and finally settling into an amazing life group of Christ-followers. Through much prayer of our own and prophetic words from various persons, both in Waco and Arkansas, it became clear we were to move here.
God was leading us here to Waco to plant this ministry in a spiritual climate where we are learning humility and sacrifice and community in a way we hadn’t experienced. Precious, broken people continue to come for help, more than we can handle, but the Lord has brought someone forward who wants to learn the ministry and take some of the load. We are able to bring some of these persons in need to our life group for prayer and words of encouragement, and our comrades are always ready to help.
Now exactly a year after the Woman Conference, Mark and I attended the World Mandate Conference hosted by Antioch Church at Baylor University. Since we have been at this church, we have learned about God’s heart for the nations. I am truly seeing that there is a world past my front door in middle-class America, a world for which Jesus suffered and died.
Worshiping at World Mandate with thousands of others, the Spirit reminded me of His faithfulness throughout my life. It was like a video playing in my mind of all the times the Lord had been there to sustain me, from my childhood through raising my children, through the death of my former husband and the years of widowhood, through the move to Texas and the difficulty in leaving children and grandchildren. I was moved to tears.
And then as we began to worship to Oceans, and the Spirit spoke to me again. What did the Spirit tell me? He said something like this,”You thought your life was winding down. Everything you had envisioned yourself doing has changed, and you haven’t known exactly where you fit in. But you have only begun to live, really live, for me. I love you, my daughter, and I have chosen you to be a part of my great adventure. It will take great faith, but I will be with you. You need only to stay close to me.”
I have been walking toward the oasis, my dead branches cut off, fruitful ones pruned back, waiting on the Lord to show me what it is. I have found it. It is Christ! He is the vine, my life source (John 15), and I am soaking in His Spirit. You may be thinking, “Didn’t she already know Jesus?” Yes, of course. But He is showing me there is much more for me ahead, more than I could have imagined. And I don’t have to figure it out or worry about it. All I have to do is abide, live connected to the vine. When we are connected to Him, the ultimate outcome of every trial will be greater faith.
Jesus, yes, I understand. I get it, and with your help every day, I will surrender. How could I not? You are the lover of my soul, and you are faithful. Forgive me for trying to make my life work in my own strength. Fill me with your Spirit. Submerge me in your love. I want nothing more than to live for you the rest of my days. I won’t try to figure out where we’re going or what we’re going to do. I simply want to abide in you. Rest and peace. Freedom. Life abundant! Yes, Lord!
God bless you, and thank you for reading. I know it is a very long post!
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…..I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain (abide) in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-2, 5.