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Finding Healing in the Midst of Bitterness 

The other day as I listened to a sermon the words jumped out to me: “It is when you are getting close to God coming through that we turn the other direction.”

Heard these words preached, posted on social media, in writings, and in songs more times then I can remember. But this time the words had my attention like never before. 
See God has had me in some really hard places over the last four years. So much pain came from those years. I desperately long to be healed of the pain. But more than not I find myself in anger over the time I lost. 
If those four years had not happened I would be:
-Employed with benefits. 

-Going into my third year of my Masters, which I just might have been in my last year. 

-Able to take vacations. 

-Have a savings.

-Out of debt. 

But instead the opposite of everything I listed above is what is currently going on plus more.
Therefore, in order to break down the bitterness of what has been taken from me the Spirit finds ways to lead me into deep reflection for healing and to let go. 
I sit here now full of Jesus on the inside but empty in my surroundings. I wonder does Jesus really hear my prayers? Does He really see what I am going through? Am I that bad of a person that I made so many wrong choices to be where I am today? For the one that stands and boost how great their life is with little blemishes in their years, are they better than me to have not seen the life I have? 
One thing God has shown me is the things that I prayed for others He answered. Not only did He answer the prayer He used me to help the answer prayer come about. 
That sounds heavenly doesn’t it? I should feel some type of awe. But I don’t. Instead I say, “Lord, did you see how they person persecuted me? Remember Lord when they did . . . Because I do. Lord, do you not remember how they slandered me? Lord, do you remember when I could not get out of bed because the oppression weighted me down too much and they skipped with smiles living their life in my face?” His response is, “Wendy, I answered your prayer on their life.”
I just stopped pleading my case and just started repeating what He said…I answered your prayer on their life. 
Tonight as I am cleaning out drawers I came across this prayer spiral. I had committed a certain time to pray for specific things for certain people and places. 
When I first came across it I was like I am not even going to read that. But I found myself opening it up to see what I prayed for excepting to see how my prayers were answered like before. 
Instead, I saw how my prayers cause me to be rejected by multitudes because what God wanted to do they would turn the other direction instead of letting Him have His way. 
I found that mind boggling. How one prayer was answered exactly like I asked. One prayer was answered totally opposite. 
I thought back to this devotional I read by Joyce Meyer. It was in regards to everything works for His good. As I read it she pointed out that His good does not mean it eliminates the bad happening. It means that in that bad He is bringing good that you can’t see for His glory. Because of that in faith we can be thankful and praise Him while it is bad. 
One thing I have learned through it all is I might have many dreams and plans that God agrees with but my first obligation is to go where He tells me in faith to save souls no matter the pain I have to go through to save them. Just trust He has better to come but I got to see His work in my life not the pain of the past.

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Nothing There

Okay, so in my first blog “Stray Dog” I pointed out we get strays in abundance. Well, a seed from that abundance has landed again. Which has gleamed insight on walking life out in faith.

Our house is situated a distance off from the road. There is a long, red dirt path lined with trees that leads up to an older, white frame, two story house. Mostly, when people let their dogs go on our street, it’s at the end of our driveway. Filled with anxiety the dogs stay in one location, not even trying to get past the gate that blocks trespassers.

They stay in that area for three days. Believing their former owner will turn back for them. Then reality sinks in, along with the stomach cramps of starvation, and they act on finding food and a place to reside.

img_1545-1Although, this time the story is slightly different.

After three days, the stray dog still had not moved to find her way to the house. It is summer in Texas, with temperatures passing 100 degrees. I grew concerned that the dog would become dehydrated. The images of her never moving from there appeared in my mind. She will starve herself to death waiting on her previous masters. I could not figure out why she would not join us at our home.

Baffled.

When we get out to retrieve the mail or newspaper we talked kind to her. Petted her. Told her to follow us. She would get excited to visit us. Wag her tail. She seemed as if she knew we were for her.

I could not take it anymore I gathered up food and water. Walking to where she was. As my daughter presented her the food, she ate it in record time. Afterwards, she lapped up the water as if she had nothing for days. I felt this would alter her judgment about walking to our house.img_1554-1

Nevertheless, after a couple days she still had not come.

In my heart, I knew if she would move up the driveway to take notice of the house, pond, and the other dogs she would give up that area.

I ended up taking food down there to show her the way to the house with a food trail. I reached my hand out to her, let her sniff the dog food, patted her, and reassured her how good of a dog she was. Laid a handful of food down for her to eat. After she ate, I gently stroked her fur, reminding her I was proud of her. I stepped distances in front of her in the direction towards the house, placing more food down. We continued this for a limited time. Going away from the gate. She would turn her head around, gaze at the gate. Reason about traveling back. Glance at me. Think twice about the food, and continue with what we were carrying out. We advanced half way down our driveway with food still in my hand. I perceived we would reach the house and she would understand how great it was to stay. Instead, half way down, at the curb, she turned around and walked toward the gate.img_1559-2

I guessed it was too soon. Saying, “Tomorrow I will attempt it again.” The following day I tried again. The results were the same. I questioned why she chooses to return to a place that was empty. No food, water, or people to give her love.

On one occasion, I observed underneath her that it was obvious she had puppies. I simply concluded she was a mom wanting her babies. Therefore, she could not give up the chance of returning to them. She had to get back for when the former owners returned.

One time, as I was working on getting her to the house, I watched her keep turning her head looking back. Finally, she gave into her thoughts and walked away from the house and back to the gate. In this picture before me was a display of God extending His love to us, and we decline it to go back to a point that is empty.img_1556-2

God will present a way He desires us to follow. Through the path, what is to come is unclear. All that is in our view is a dirt road and trees. God sees we need encouragement along with some cheerleaders to follow this route. He surrounds us with individuals just loving on us. Cheering us on. Telling us we can do it. Being there when we are at our weakest and fear has taken the greatest of us. People feeding us when we cannot provide for our self. On the trail, we stop. We turn our head and look behind. Then we glance forward. In that split second, we convince our self to return to the past because people and things are waiting on us. If we don’t go back, we will miss them when they show up. Therefore, we walk back to what is familiar, presuming the existence of something is still there. Only to realize, emptiness is all that is waiting for us.

In Ezekiel 20:6 ESV God informs us He will lead us out of the land of Egypt (our former ways not of God), into a land that is beyond what we have experienced.

“On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands.”

He does not just show us this is Ezekiel He assures us in:

Exodus 3:8

Jeremiah 32:22

Deuteronomy 28:1-68

Exodus 3:17

God informs us that this land, that we cannot see, is abundant in love. A lifestyle of richness, not necessary rich as one might imagine with wealth. Instead waking up excited to face the day. When somebody claims something offensive to you, your joy responses in compassion. The most glorious of all the lands. If I dwell in a place where people and the environment bring me down, it indicates it will be greater. If I remain in a place that I come up empty, with the people I hang with or the places I go, the new location will enhance my fullness. A place I remain satisfied and content. Where I hang around people or go places that have me overflowing with goodness.

Reflecting on how this dog prefers returning to a place of emptiness it leads me to pray for God to search me. When I am walking forward in faith but I turn to look back believing there is something there waiting on me. Finding any state of emptiness in me. Asking God to provide the courage to cling to what He has declared. Coming into what God has that is “the most glorious of all lands”, an area beyond my imagination.

Prayer: Dear Lord, when I cannot make out what is ahead and the suffering of where I am speaks louder than your promises. I ask that you quiet the voices of pain and bring in remembrance Your Word, giving me strength like I never have had. So, I can overcome the battle, walking fiercely towards all you have sworn. In Jesus Name, Amen

In the comment section below please share your thoughts. If you are unsure where to start here are questions to help you get going:

  1. Do you have a suggestion for the dog’s name in the picture?
  2. Do you believe God keeps His promises? Is there an area in your life God has promised you one thing but you return to something contrary to what He has said?
  3. Is there an area in your life that you are trying to walk forward but you keep looking back, thinking if you do not stay you will miss out? Explain.