I love the quiet times of reflection with my husband. We often look back over our unscripted lives together and see all the paths God led us down -- even when we were unaware He was lighting the way. Because I can tell you that left to ourselves, we would not have ended up where we are. And so I am thankful that we both were willing to let our spirits be shepherded. There were critical points along the way at which a crucial decision had to be made that would have far-reaching consequences. I am grateful that we didn't stumble in making those decisions.
And here is something that I believe with all my heart: God's purpose for each of us here on earth is written next to our names in the Book of Life. But that doesn't mean we always adhere to God's will for us, and both Mark and I can be stubborn and rebellious. So, I'm here to testify of the goodness of God in our lives; to use both His rod and His staff to guide us.
There have been many pivotal crossroads in our history, but I think the one that has yielded the most benefit to us [and fruit for God], was when we took the leap of faith to trust that we could make a living by means of Mark's God-given artistic talent. It has been just over 25 years since we made that momentous decision to trust in the Lord to provide for us in everything we needed in this world. We decided that we were tired of the rat race and the focus our lives had on our jobs and how society defined success. But this blog post isn't about just financial provision. I want to be clear -- we are not rich, never have been, and there are still month's when we are on our knees reminding God that He said if we were faithful to Him, He would be faithful to us. It's been about believing in that promise.
And I know there are not many of our friends or family who understand how rich that has made us. We don't take lavish vacations; have never been to Europe [which astounds some of our contemporaries]; we work through the holidays; don't dine at fancy restaurants, and don't indulge in lavish gifts at Christmas, birthdays, or anniversaries. But, as so many Americans are awakening to the possibility that our future [and prosperity] as a nation is in jeopardy, we are blessed with a sense of calm because God has trained us up for "a time such as this".
For 25 years, we have not had "company benefits". There has been no company-provided health insurance or 401k to ease us into retirement. In fact, we have laughingly stated that we've been retired for 25 years! The fact that the safety nets which the world offers have not been part of our experience, has given us the opportunity to learn to rely solely on God. I can't tell you how many times that we stared hardship and lack square in the face, and had no where to turn but God. And He never let us down! We've learned to live on a fraction of what most households do. And as we've gotten older, we've observed that people who climb the corporate ladder, or pursue high-paying careers, have not enjoyed the free, easy, and contented life we have. Don't get me wrong, we work more hours in the day than we ever did in our "before" life. But it is so much more satisfying at the end of the day than the stress of those jobs and careers.
Maybe you identify with us, and remember those years that you felt a prompting to store a little extra food, or you spent the time to learn how to defend yourself in the case of a national crisis. Maybe you, too, were looked upon as "conspiracy nuts" or suffered those smirks and rolled eyes. You were told that your concerns were unnecessary because "nothing can happen; we're the United States of America and the greatest country on earth". Or, maybe like us, your Christian friends kept trying to convince you that the faithful didn't have to worry -- Jesus has already won the victory, and where was our trust in Him that He would never leave us nor abandon us. But let me ask you this ... are those same friends (both believers and non-believers) now coming to you and asking, "How do I ____?", or "Where can I get ____?" or "Do you think Jesus is coming back soon?"
It's not that we were prophets or anyone special. It was just part of the journey that God was taking us on. In fact, my logical-thinking husband recently told me that he has realized that God has been training us up for this very time. Our Father knows the beginning from the end, and knew that we would one day face the very real possibility of a collapsing economy, with a shrinking dollar, food shortages, loss of jobs, a pandemic, etc. etc. He knew the people who would be trainable and willing to consider preparing by learning to plant a garden, store a little extra food, learn how to can, and learn how to live without.
For those who struggled with accepting or pursuing those considerations, life went on as usual. But you can see what our American lifestyle has done to the souls of so many. Broken marriages, children who feel ignored, and health issues abound in our populace. People have been so busy living "the American dream", that they are frightened at the prospect that that dream may disappear. I'm not trying to be a doomsday prophet, but I don't believe anyone has an excuse for not seeing the warnings that we have discerned along our journey.
And now it is time for us to lift our fellow Americans up and encourage them, because what we see happening applies to all of us, both believer and non-believer alike. The Christian community is looking for God to rescue them because He's already won the victory, right? And those who don't know Jesus are going to come to the realization that what they've achieved in their comfortable lives is not giving them the security they thought it would provide. Both groups are going to need encouragement to rely on Him; only Him. They are going to need to hear from those of us who have experience and a history of being trained up by God for this very time in our history.
We must be honest about the earthly difficulties we face, and share our wealth of practical knowledge and skills. But most importantly, we must approach them as servants of the Kingdom of God. We must share the fruit of God's training in our lives; how we've learned to endure, persevere, and trust in Jesus; and how our relationship with Jesus has taken on a depth that we never would have encountered if we had not decided to be "trainable" and open to submitting our will to His. There is so much fruit to be had! And it's found in a freedom from societal norms, a deeper understanding of our purpose on earth, a supernatural connection to the Holy Spirit and being aligned with our own spirit [which is seated in Heaven with Jesus] -- it has all led to an indescribable partnership with our Creator and a life that is full beyond anything the world would measure it by.
So, if our journey mirrors yours, then join us in being prepared to share it with all those who will need to know they can make it through whatever is coming our way. And if you are among my fellow human beings who are just not willing to stare reality in the face, let me give you hope ... you have been created to thrive in this season of your life. You are made in the image of God, and if you don't know Him, then I urge you to ask Him to come into your life. He's waiting to respond to your request. Your life will never be the same again, and I promise you that He is exactly what you are going to need as we face an uncertain future. Let my story become yours. I have overcome the fear and the worries that the world tried to convince me were mine, and I walk in the strength and power and security of belonging to the Lord -- no matter what comes! And it is my hopeful prayer that each of you can know the magnitude of His presence in your life. Let His fruit abound in you! Bless you and God bless America!
Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.