Today was pretty fun – it was an interesting Halloween. I sang at church this morning. Then the sermon, “Epic Fail”, was on how we can use our failures to help us grow if we learn from them & let the grace of God transform us. Afterward, we came home for lunch @ Canyon Creek, then hurried back out to catch the chaos at Halloween in the Village. We had no idea how many kids in costumes would be there! All of Multnomah Village was sectioned off and every business was handing out candy to hundreds of wee ones all dressed up.
On our way home as the kiddos munched on their sugary collections, we passed through Beaverton. Ricky and I talked about how so many places we passed brought back memories – most of these businesses were places he’d applied, the first 7 years of our marriage, but had gotten nowhere so many times. What a tremendous struggle that season was. Looking back, we laughed at just how many jobs he had – the variety of them all. We kind of sat there, in awe about how only the prayers of loved ones got him through that season of rejection after employers’ rejection.
It was only when when we moved to Medford (9 months later, actually) that The Lord began to answer a long-time prayer of mine for Ricky – to find his purpose or passion as his profession – using God-given abilities. He’d been given a chance to work as a Graphic (catalog layout) Artist, by a friend in mid-2004.
After that chance he was given, he learned so much on his own and just became better and better at his craft. Adding to Graphic Design in print ads, he learned Photoshop, some Photography, Web Design and Search Engine Optimization & Marketing. God has answered our last year’s prayers once again, by giving Ricky an opportunity to sustain work and truly succeed in his own small business…earning so much that we are excited to be able to give some away to those who God puts on our hearts. We’ve been given so much in grace and resources in our past, that we’ve wanted to be in the position to give back – for a while. He was making some good money in Texas for the first couple years, & we were able to give back to those in need, during that time. But we now have this opportunity to give from surplus of what he’s earned in his business, and somehow, it feels different. It feels wonderful…to pray for increase and to now be blessed with the answer to that prayer.
Psalm 37:4 comes to mind, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart”. Funny how it doesn’t give a certain amount for a waiting period. But that’s what faith is all about. There are many people who delight in the Lord that are not realizing the desires of their hearts….yet. But the Word is still true. As is the opposite – for those who do not delight themselves in Him, there is no real hope for them for ever receiving the desires of their heart.
There were times we nearly lost that faith, but never did we doubt in the Lord’s plans for us to succeed – in his unbelievably deep love for us – or in his willingness to cover us with his protection. Psalm 139 & 92 are both so comforting to me, with truths so ingrained in my spirit. These scriptures have power too great to penetrate my heart with any flaming arrow.
Our God has protected us from so much – natural disasters, car accidents, broken bones, serious sickness and debt, hospital stays, addictions, child abduction or abuse, poor business choices, detrimental spiritual abuse, separation, depression, financial ruin, anxiety and much more. Not that any of those were eminent, but they were just a few of the things that came to my mind that we haven’t had to deal with in so many years, if at all. There is no question his hand of grace has been on us, and his voice has been whispered in our hearts – words full of wisdom and revelation. For this, I am so grateful.
While in Portland today, I saw a billboard that read, “Rather than dealing with adversity, let it propel you forward”. I pointed it out to Ricky & smiled. It made us think of one of the sermon points from just a few hours prior, “Falling on your face is still moving forward”.
Adversities God has not protected us from, he has allowed us to experience, but with his foreknowledge & insight, he trusted us, in a way, to trust him through it. To learn. To eventually be humbled by it and look to Him for help – something none of us want to do – or feel compelled to do naturally. I’ve failed. Some failures were “epic”. Some were as a friend, as a mom, as a wife, as a musician, and as an employee. I tend to not want to dwell on these or even really think of them much, but many came to mind, just now as I typed those roles. And I want to just lift my hands & twirl around in a dizzy dance of praise to my God – my Sustainer & my Rock. He alone is what made me an overcomer and who I am today. And who I will be 7 years from today.
Yes, we make out own choices and must own them, but if we live a life with Christ, there’s no living in the past – no letting shame define it – no allowing ourselves to be identified by our poor choices. The past is just that. I hate that word shame! We don’t ever say “shame on you” or “you should be ashamed of yourself” in our house & never will. Shame is an imprisoning, disfiguring tool of the enemy of God that keeps us behind invisible chains – far away from the potential that awaits us.
1 Corinthians 2:9 (New Living Translation)
9 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (- Bible Gateway.com) – Check this scripture out in contrast to the same reference only the 2nd book of Corinthians (2:9):
2 Corinthians 2:9 (New International Version)
9The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything.
I am so looking forward to our future – even with all our failures that lie in wait. We’ll have times of obedience and of disobedience. All I have to do is look at our past, & see how it’s been used to grow us and others too (by grace and faith at work within us). And it makes me so happy as I look ahead.