It was in one of my quiet moments with God, while diving into His word, reading devotional blog posts and trying to get my spiritual fill for the day, that I heard Him. I heard the Lord whisper to me – “How will they know who I Am unless My people tell them who I Am. How will they know who I Am to you if you don’t tell them your story. You must tell them who I Am through your story.”
It was a pretty sobering moment. Here I was reading and searching, wanting to hear from God for my own daily encouragement and that’s the word I received. “Tell them who I Am. My people must tell them who I Am.” Not only that but I had to tell them who God is by telling others MY story.
“Lord I’m not sure that I can do that!” was my first response. Really the answer in my heart was, “Lord I don’t really want to do that!” My response was as though God didn’t already know what was truly in my heart. Yet I tried to hide behind my words as if I had forgotten that God is omniscient (all-knowing).
My next question to God, “Why…..why do I have to tell it?”
In my heart of hearts I knew the answer. I proclaim Christ as being the center of my life and that, my friend, is all the answer one needs.
“If one is claiming to have Jesus Christ at the center of their life then we are to try our best to walk in His ways, profess His Holy word and be willing to share our testimony so others may see how Christ has worked throughout our lives. To show how we were brought to the point of wanting to claim Him as the center of our lives.”
Wow….just in recapping that quiet moment between the Lord and myself, I guess that means I’m about to get a lot more personal in sharing my walk with Christ.
I have a home church that I attend but throughout the week I also listen to a lot of sermons. Of course right now with the quarantine we all are listening to sermons online. It’s interesting because one of the sermons I listened to this week was titled, “Who’s the Minister Here?” The sermon is from a Pastor named Michael Todd who leads Transformation Church in Tulsa Oklahoma. In the sermon he explains that we all (the body of Christ) are not only meant to, but actually called to minister. He goes on to say that many people will look at the Pastors or Bishops who lead our churches as being the ministers but really they are the teachers of God’s word. They teach the word to their congregations and then the members of the congregation are to go out into the world to minister to others. One of the ways we minister is by sharing who God is to others. However, as it was revealed to me by God, it’s not only sharing who God is but sharing who He is to us. So on the heels of writing this particular post, in God like fashion, He allowed me to listen to the sermon from Transformation Church just to confirm that what I heard from Him about sharing my story was exactly what I was called (by God Himself) to do.
Can I just make an honest statement here……sharing my story and testimony in such a public way makes me feel uncomfortable. I mean REALLY uncomfortable. It took me many years to share even a small portion of my journey with others. I have my circle of people whom I trust and that’s basically where the beginning and the end of my sharing was at! However over time God urged me to open up to others whom I didn’t know well, and share more on a one to one basis. Well I guess God wants to up the ante on me and have me share in a more public way. As uncomfortable as I may feel I’ve found that being obedient to God’s prompting only leads to spiritual growth and to more blessings from God. It’s my life long goal to continuously grow spiritually and then let’s be real….who wouldn’t want to experience more blessings from God?
In thinking of what best to share at the beginning of this series I’m reminded of the words of Isaiah 41:10.
It’s one of those scriptures I have seen a lot in the last few weeks as the world navigates the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s one that I too am holding on to. This verse speaks volumes to me because of the FAITH that it takes to believe that God will uphold me in times of uncertainty.
In the study portion of my bible it states that this verse speaks of the Lord commanding the Israelites not to fear which was in contrast to what the pagans of that time were doing. In today’s term, pagan means someone who worships several gods at once, or they have no interest in a god at all. So what God is commanding is that His people (we as Christians) are not to fear even as we watch the people who don’t have a relationship with God feed into the fears and anxieties that seem to be prevalent today.
God’s command to the Israelites had already been backed by many examples of when He had been with them. We can take it back to Moses and the Israelites being set free from Pharaoh. Joshua and the march around Jericho, Gideon and the battle against the Midianites and we see it all throughout the life of King David.
In the same way, yet against different circumstances, God has called me not to fear and in His grace He has backed it up by reminding me of experiences in my own life.
The first time this verse caught my attention was back in 2014. It actually happened to be around March and April of that year (funny how the timing has come back around to the same months only 6 years later) and it seemed like everywhere I turned I saw this verse. Isaiah 41:10 was mentioned in sermons I listened to. It was mentioned in devotions I read, and when I would visit our local Christian store my eye would be drawn to trinkets that had this verse on it. It got to a point where I started telling God that I was starting to worry about the things He kept telling me not to be afraid of! It was becoming the fear of the unknown. Then one day, the Lord made it known.
I received a phone call from my husband in the middle of the work day and he told me that he was about to be laid off from his job due to the company shutting down their offices in the city where we lived. At that moment it was like a strong gust of wind that stops you in your tracks and takes your breath away, when I was immediately reminded of Isaiah 41:10. I couldn’t believe it! Seeing the Isaiah 41:10 verse everywhere I turned was for that very moment! We heavily relied on my husband’s income and now that income was about to come to an end. I remember feeling a sense of calm after he relayed the news to me. It was the strangest thing. To feel calm when I had no idea how we would pay our bills or how long he would be without a job.
At the time I was trying to build up my photography business and I wrote a blog post about the changes that were happening within my business now that my husband was unemployed. I wrote the blog post on May 30, 2014 and posted the same picture on that post as I did above here.
*Keep the date of May 30th in the back of your mind.*
The year of 2014 was a pretty challenging year for our family. Within that same year of my husband losing his job I had racked up a few medical bills due to a knee injury and we no longer had health insurance. Later that year my husband actually suffered from cardiac arrest and a stroke which only added to the financial hardship we were already in. Even though I knew his hospital stay would add to our financial hardship I was just so grateful that my husband was still with us and there was little physical deficit for enduring such a serious health crisis.
Even though 2014 was filled with many trials there were many blessings as well. People within our school’s community came together to help us with gift cards for food and necessities. My husband survived his health crisis and 2014 was also the year that God planted the idea of Promise Chocolates within the two of us. It would be years before the idea of Promise Chocolates would come to fruition but that story is for another blog post!
As I mentioned, Isaiah 41:10 was the verse of promise that I held on to throughout 2014. But I had to keep reminding myself of the verse when times looked bleak and I felt discouraged or scared. Now let’s fast forward and take a look at another time God brought this promise to the forefront of my mind which again brought me great comfort.
We now jump to 2019. I had been diagnosed with DCIS which is an early stage of breast cancer in late 2018. I talk about that more in a previous post which if you’re interested you can access it by clicking here. It was now May of 2019, I am 19 weeks pregnant and about to have a lumpectomy surgery to remove the DCIS. I had been back and forth on whether I should have the surgery right then or if I should wait until after my baby was born. I was worried about complications for my baby and I had a past experience with anesthesia that made me nervous to be under sedation again. In a previous surgery I had a hard time relaying that I couldn’t breathe when I awoke from the anesthesia so I had no desire to go under again. I was trying my best to remain calm but my nerves were getting the best of me while I waited to be wheeled back for surgery. I prayed, asking for a verse that I could quote and stand on to bring me comfort and peace in that moment. While I waited for all of my doctors to arrive I looked on my Facebook page and a memory popped up with a picture. Guess what picture popped up? That’s right…..the Isaiah 41:10 post from May 30, 2014. Here it was exactly 5 years to the day later and the Holy Spirit reminded me of the verse that brought me so much comfort before. I praised God right there on the spot!!
Now in my Christian walk I’ve come to learn that there is no such thing as coincidence. The fact that this verse popped up on that day at that exact moment in time let me know that God saw me in my state of fear and He wanted to remind me that He was with me. I just needed to have the FAITH to believe it again.
And wouldn’t you know it but I never ended up having surgery on that day! Here again, that’s a story for a different blog post.
So let’s fast forward to the events happening now. The COVID-19 has already infected thousands and claimed the lives of thousands worldwide. If it’s not the T.V. news or the front pages of Yahoo or MSN, it’s in our Facebook feeds but someone is always talking about the coronavirus. I know that the phrase “Social Distancing” and the hoarding of toilet paper will forever be linked to the year 2020. But another thing that is linked to this virus is fear and anxiety. Now I’m not going to say that the worrisome thoughts have not crossed my mind. I mean I’ve been an asthmatic since childhood so I know what it’s like not to be able to breathe. But I find it interesting that when I first took hold of the promise of Isaiah 41:10 it was when my family and I experienced financial instability and when we experienced a health crisis not once but actually twice.
I read somewhere that the Bible states, “Do Not Fear” 365 times. I haven’t actually done the work to count it out so I don’t know that it’s really in there 365 times but what if it is? Wouldn’t that let us know that letting go of fear and trusting that He is upholding us is important to Him? Rather than fear, He wants us to lean on Him for our protection? I don’t know…..maybe during all of this down time and “Social Distancing” I will look up a verse a day that speaks on the phrase of “Do Not Fear”. Is there anyone out there that wants to take on this challenge with me!