“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”Jeremiah 29:11
I sat in my ashes each day thinking, “Is this what God calls abundant?” I really wanted to experience the abundant life Jesus spoke of, but how in the world was I supposed to look at the shambles my life had become, and see it as abundance?
I was raised believing in a God who was much too holy and righteous for the likes of me.
Whenever the “fire of heaven” would rain down from our church’s pulpit, I would shrink under my daddy’s arm, trying to hide.
I believed God was scary, angry, and wanted to send me to hell!
The church people I grew up with spoke of heaven, and going there someday “in the sweet by-n-by,” (whatever that was) but then they would do, or say, the most horrible things to, or about, one another!
All this got filed into my own internal file drawers.
By the time I reached eighteen, and was free to begin to make some decisions of my own, I was not sure of much, but one thing I was certain about. I did not want anything to do with God, church, or church people.
So I chose “the world” and a prodigal-road, which of course led to even greater hurts, disappointments, and failures.
At age 28, after being on that broken road for ten years I came to the conclusion that nothing I had found in “the world” was worth having, including Christianity.
I believed life held nothing but pain and I was weary of it.
I wanted relief and peace, so I came to the erroneous conclusion that the only logical thing to do was to end my life, thereby ending my pain.
Enter for the first time this Abba-God speaking and asking a very simple question.
“When will you trust me?”
That’s all I heard but it really spooked me.
Who was this Voice speaking?
And why was He talking to me?
I’ll admit I was shaken, but I was also intensely curious. Could I have been all wrong about God being absent and uncaring?
I had to know the answer to that question and so I began my quest to try to get to know who God really was.
I wanted to know if I could really trust Him?
I joined a church. I got baptized. (Admittedly one of the most wonderful days of my life!) I read through my Bible cover to cover, many times. I studied. I joined. I volunteered. I served. I did everything I could think of, all questing after this holy grail of “becoming an Overcomer-Christian.”
I wanted to be a Christian who not only knew God, but also one who totally trusted Him, and therefore God would be pleased.
See a pattern here?
So I wholeheartedly pursued God outwardly, yet still struggled to navigate all my inner-storms of unanswered questions and self-doubts that refused to be silent.
I kept thinking, “How can THIS be it!”
It all “looked right” from the outside but it all “felt wrong” on the inside.
Now fast forward to the days after leaving the hospital.
Once again, life is in ruins after having tried it ALL.
I reasoned that, “I had held up my end.” with my wholehearted devotion to The Quest—but God had not held up His.
I mean, twenty years and here I was sitting in the ashes, again?
How was I supposed to reconcile this promised “abundant life” with my personal world in ruins?
Where was I supposed to begin to start over again?
There is nothing happening in you that escapes My notice.
How often you come to Me with prayers and petitions about what is happening around you, when the greater issue is what is going on—on the inside.
The anxious thoughts and jealous fears.
The resentments and bitterness you feel over your losses.
The anger because of what others have done.
I AM much more concerned with the storms on the inside of your heart and mind rather than your outside issues of finances, possessions, relationships, and health.
Oh Sweetheart, it’s your heart and those inner storms you are fighting! First we must deal with those, then we can address all the wreckage from the outer squalls.
(You know I AM right.)
Come, take the time today for an inventory of the inner turbulence. We can deal with this. There is nothing we can’t handle together—and I AM here—right here.
I AM Jehovah-Shammah for those sins weighing you down.
I AM Jehovah-Shammah with forgiveness.
I AM Jehovah-Shammah with tender compassion.
I AM Jehovah-Shammah with wisdom and correction.
I AM present My beloved, My own.
How I love you. How I listen for your slightest sigh!
Come to Me. I have your peace. I have your joy. Only I can give you these things.
(You know this.)
I see the weight on your soul.
Let me lift, (ah yes,) lift those weary cares off your heart.
There is abundant grace here, in My arms.
“Lord, you know how I long for my health once more. You hear my every sigh.”