Friday, September 19, 2008

The REAL thing works

Guys, I am so excited... and I am going to try to peck this out so that you can make a little sense of what God has just done. I think that most of you (all 5 or so) know how important it is to me for people to be real, especially the church. I think that many Christians spend most of their time trying to pretend that their lives are perfect... so that no one will know the truth; and that is that we are all far from perfect... and all the while, others live completely defeated because they know they can never live up to the "perfect" that they see in others. Feeling like they need to pretend too... so that no one will "find them out" So everyone just plays the game. Make sense??

Anyway, I have been very real about the financial struggles that I am going through with my family. They are not really pretty... but they are what they are. I would hate to think that my family would go through this, and it be for anything other than God's glory.... so....

Several months ago, I had dinner with a friend that I had not seen in a long time. We spent time talking about what was going on in our lives... and in the lives of our families. Things seemed to be going great for her family. I began to tell her all about our financial stuggles and the hard times that we were going through. I was real. I was honest. I also spent time telling her what these times had done for my Christian walk. I was so excited about what God was doing. I knew that God was calling me into a deeper relationship with Him. I knew that no matter how bad things got, that I wanted to be exactly where God wanted me to be. Those are the times that we grow to love and trust Him more than ever before. I told her that I didn't want anyone's pity... that this is exactly where I wanted to be because this is where God wanted me to be. We talked about His plan. We talked about how perfect His plan is... even when it doesn't look like our plan. My friend told me that she was struggling in her Christian walk.... she hadn't been in the Word, she hadn't been spending time in prayer, she was still bitter about losing her mom.... and she wanted things to change. She knew that it wasn't that she didn't have time... she had plenty of time to read other material....

I encouraged her to stop reading the other books, to read her Bible for at least a few minutes every day. I told her that my favorite thing to do while in my prayer time is to journal... that maybe she should try it. We agreed to be in contact over the next couple weeks to see how things were going. I have to confess that I feel like I failed her on this... I didn't call her as often as I should have... but I did talk with her several times. We emailed back and forth, and I began to see a real change in her talk. I began to sense that she was back on the walk that she wanted to be on. I sensed a real difference in her attitude about life. I was overjoyed for her. I was so glad that she had been honest with me about what was going on. Wow, it really helps when we are real.

Today... I recieved another email from her. She wanted to let me know that her husband had just called her to say that he had been laid off. Her email was sprinkled with such hope, faith, and trust in the Lord. She asked for prayer. BUT not for him to get another job quickly... but that they would be open to God's plan and His guidance. Well... what do you know.... I quickly sat down and emailed her back. I talked from experience. I told her that she needed to take her concerns to the Lord and not to her burdened husband. To minister to him. Not to let him see her fear. He would take it hard enough... that how she handled this would make all the difference in the world to her hurting husband.

Do you see that???

In God's great wisdom... at the exact same time.....

He allowed her to struggle in her spiritual walk,

He prompted her to seek help from someone she hadn't seen in a long time,

He had allowed our finances to go down the drain,

He had pulled me into such a deeper relationship with Him,

He had filled my heart with such joy and peace over our situation,

He had given me a full heart so that it could overflow to her,


That her husband would be laid off and that I could use my experience to minister to her.

What if we both had played the game... pretending to be "perfect"?? Wouldn't things have turned out different??

Real is where it's at!!

That is another reason that I am so pumped about doing the next book study hosted by Lelia at her blog, Write From the Heart. It is about being real. How about joining us??

God uses us when we are real. I know that I have said this before... God can't use a bunch of perfect pretenders to reach a dying world... he needs real people to see a REAL GOD redeeming a bunch of real people.
post signature


Tracy said...

Wow, wow, wow!!! No wonder you're excited. Don't you positively love when you can trace back a step at a time and see God's hands all over the situation? Praise Him for your faithfulness in being REAL. There is much Godly wisdom in your words. Your example has encouraged me greatly tonight!


Regina said...

That is just too AWESOME!
I can't wait for my book to come in the mail so that I can start this study. I know God has great things in store. I'm glad that you were there for your friend. I'm confident that when the church learns to be real the world will see a difference in us.

Amanda B. said...

I am so pleased that God is speaking to you and showing you all of this!! He is such a great and gracious father!! If you have read my post today you will see that I am so convinced of what you said that I am praying that my parents would let this "real" walk with the Lord be used to strengthen their family...but more importantly I know firsthand how it will increase their own faith. It wasn't until I finally became "real" with my family that God gave me an Isaiah 58:6-11 life. Now I see it EVERYWHERE!!

This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.
What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'

A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places
9-12"If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people's sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You'll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You'll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.

God Bless you.

Beverly said...

Whew! God is really working in your life and maybe He's not met each financial need that you and Brad have but He has shown you many insights so that you can show others. And OH how this spoke to me. I pray that I'm real with everyone, but always God first, because if I can't be real with Him I might as well hang it up. Thanks so much for sharing and helping to keep me on my knees where He needs me to be so that I too can be of service to others.

Love ya,

Jill said...

What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing and you are so right - His timing is perfect. My husband and were discussing the very thing last night as I have watched this happen in my life the last few months. A quick summary of the story - Rachel, a girl I've known for four years, and I have became friends in the last 6 months rather than simply neighbors and people who go to the same church. Two months ago we started a Bible study together and became more real each week. A few weeks into that I shared with her this book I had written. She shared thoughts and we had some good discussions. Three weeks ago I experienced a miscarriage and she was one of the first to call, offer prayers and listen. After calling almost daily, she called 12 days later saying she had a miscarriage. Yesterday we had a great talk as we have over the last couple of weeks, but it's obvious this was all in God's hand and in His time. It is amazing to see Him even use the difficult times to draw us closer to one another and ultimately to Him. So yes, let's keep being real!!

Tammy R said...

Is hard to have faith when you can't see where God's taking you but that's what faith is?

Thank you for being open,honest and willing to share just like you did with your friend. You never know how God will use your open-book life to ecourage others.

nothingcanseparateme said...

This is so exciting!! I am sure that it makes the "financial struggles" a little bit easier to deal with when you can see God's hand at work as you are REAL with your friend.

It is only chapter 1 and I am feeling the "stretching" that God is doing in me. I can't say that I like it but I am excited to see how he works all this out for HIS glory!! My prayer time last night was spent in just being REAL with HIM. Really getting to the "nitty-gritty" of me-it wasn't pretty but it was REAL!! I am trusting in him to do a good work through me.

Can't wait to read more of your insight as we journey through this book!

Kim from PA

**we have a lot in common--married 21 years, 3 kids and we have financial struggles also although I have not been REAL enough to blog about them yet.

Kim@Seasons of My Heart said...

What an amazing...amazing..testimony of the transformation work God is doing in and through your life and heart.

Our family too...has been going through some things....I'm thankful you have found a refuge in frinds to be open and honest with. (we...haven't been so lucky...rather, we've been judged, and criticized by the body)

Yet, through our hardship, God is teaching me, to dig deep...deep from the well of his provision, strength, wisdom and help!

For truly, God is my great provider...and he WILL make a way!!!

I'm SO glad I found your blog!


Amy L Brooke said...

Thanks for stopping in and reading not only the study post but also the post about depression. If felt like a risk to put it out there in that way. But, it seems like God is honoring that.

Great insights on the study. I can't wait to get to know you better!