Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Checklist

I'm dealing with a hard reality this week.  Something that could make me curl up in a ball and hide under the covers if I let the "what ifs" take hold in my mind.  But just about the time I felt ready to give up, God sent me an email.  No, it wasn't addressed from the heavenly realms, but it was something that spoke directly to the issue.  I'll share that story later, but it reminded me of another time God spoke to me very clearly and very powerfully.  

It's a story that will be included in the memoir I feel like I've been writing forever. I pray that it gives you encouragement and provides you with proof that God hears our prayers, sees our needs, and lovingly lets us know that He is there and He is in control.

"I’d been in a bit of a funk all day, really listening too intently to a number of Satan's lies.  I felt like I was taking hits from all sides–finances, work, the kids, and my estranged husband.  

I was feeling inadequate, incapable, and overwhelmed.  

I had just spent the little money I had on some groceries when from out of nowhere I was overtaken by despair so deep that I just lost it.  I didn’t just cry...I sobbed.  My shoulders heaved uncontrollably as I wept and the tears that cascaded down my cheeks obscured my vision to the point where I was struggling to see the road.  

As I gulped for air in between the racking sobs all I could manage was, “Oh God, oh God, oh God!”  

The emotion was gut-wrenching and I prayed that I could reach home without driving off the road. 

Once I arrived, there was no room to park in front of my house.  I pulled up in front of my next door neighbor’s steps and sat in the car continuing to cry.  As I looked up at the full moon and pleaded with the sky, God felt further from me than those stars burning millions of miles away.  He was like the moon… immense and beautiful, yet distant and untouchable. 

“God…I feel like the whole world is against me.  I feel so alone!” 

I laid my complaints at His feet, all the while feeling like there was no way to get out from under. 

“I can’t function anymore God…I just can’t do this on my own!” 

Words were pouring out of me now….

”God, I have no money, how can I take care of my kids?  My kids, Lord…I’m so worried about the road they’re going down.  Lord, I’m so alone…help me!” 

I cried out to God for a good half hour until the tears began to subside and my neighbor began to peek out the window wondering what on earth I was doing.  It was almost 11:00 before I pulled myself together.   I grabbed some of the grocery bags, walked up the sidewalk toward my porch, dropped them off and turned back toward the car as another neighbor drove up.  

Maria had lived across the street from me for at least a decade.  I knew she was a Christian.  Our children had attended the same Christian school, but mostly we just exchanged pleasantries on occasion.   She knew nothing of what I was currently going through. 

 “Hello, Toni, how are you?” she asked. 

“Okay.”

 I responded as cheerily as I could.  I knew she couldn’t see I’d been crying because it was late and the street light in front of my house had gone out.  It was pretty dark. 

“My sister says the Holy Spirit is telling her that you need prayer.  Are you sure you’re alright?”

I stopped dead in my tracks.  I didn’t realize there was someone else in the car, and how did she know….”No Maria, I’m not.” 

“Can we pray for you?”

“I think God sent you to do just that.” 

Maria’s sister got out of the car, grabbed me by the hand and led me to the porch steps nodding and smiling.  Maria parked her car and joined us. 

“This is my sister from Costa Rica.  She’s a missionary to Italy but she’s visiting for a little while.  She doesn’t speak English very well.  She says you need to sit on the porch so she can lay hands on you…you’re too tall.” 

Maria laughed.  She and her sister were at least half a foot shorter than my 5’ 8” frame.  I understood the predicament and dutifully sat.  To my left, Maria’s sister stood and placed one hand on my back and the other on top of my head.  She prayed in Spanish in the most powerful way while Maria laid her hand on my right shoulder and translated. 

“God says you are not alone, He is here with you.”

She placed her hand on my shoulder.

“Don’t say you can’t …you can do all things through Him.  I bind the spirits at work in this house–I pray for your children....” 

I caught my breath.  How could she possibly know what to pray?  Her prayer was so dead on that the tears welled up in me again and I thought if anyone was up and about at that hour we would make quite a spectacle–me weeping, her speaking in Spanish followed by Maria’s translation. 

Finally, she placed a hand over my heart and said...

“You've been bearing a large hurt for a long time and in the name of Jesus you are released from it.” 

She prayed for His peace in my life and it was like the burden just fell away.   The crying stopped and I was flooded with peace.  I knew immediately that God Himself had spoken clearly and personally through this woman I had never met.  

Everything... absolutely everything I brought before the Lord in the privacy of my car that night, that dear woman addressed through her prayer for me.  

It was as if she’d had a checklist of my concerns and God gave them to her one by one to tick off.  

It was proof that He not only heard my desperate cry, but that He cared about my pain and wanted me to know He loved me and was there for me.  It was a a beautiful answer to prayer!"

I am in the middle of a pile of rubble today.  I want to pick up the stones and throw them at something...hard.  But then I remember this beautiful encounter with God during another time I felt like my life was in ruins.  And I remember how God picked up the pieces and rebuilt the wall...stronger than it had ever been. He surrounds me with the wall of His love, protecting me from harm.  And I am ever grateful.

3 comments:

  1. Toni, you are such an inspiration to others who feel they can't go on, because of one hurt or another. I have sent your website to my eldest daughter, who has struggled with bi-polar disorder and mental illness since she was a tween. She loves your site. Thank you for any and all encouragement you bestow on friends and strangers alike. You are an amazing person, and I am honored to know you. Much love, Anne Backes

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    1. Anne...how did I not know about your daughter's struggle? I'm so sorry to hear that you both have that burden to bear. I've mentioned in several posts like this one (http://lakesidelessons.blogspot.com/2013/01/hope.html)that my son suffers from anxiety and depression and I know it is not an easy road. I'm so glad she enjoys the posts and gets encouragement from them. I'm humbled by your comments! I hope you're well - miss you at our get-togethers, but appreciate being able to stay connected via Facebook :) Blessings to you and your daughter!

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  2. Wow Toni! What a powerful testimony...God surely hears and answers our cries. Bless you!

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