A couple of weeks ago I found an old email titled, “A time for major change.” It arrived in my inbox this past July but found its way into my spam folder, hidden away with a few other paid blogger campaigns I missed out on… oops!
2016 hasn’t been an easy year for me. I lost my dad to cancer in February, it was the worst way to start the new year… I spent the spring emotionally spiraling out of control. Then some things happened over the summer with church… Yes, I’m being vague. I started to feel like I was dying inside, wanting to run away to greener grass… Surely there was a better place for me out there?!
I’m not alone in grieving all sorts of loss this year. It has been a rough year on a lot of my friends and family, and for people I know in church ministry. For some it was a physical loss but for some it was the loss of dreams or ideals, and for others it was an attack on their hope.
I know the scripture Jeremiah 29:11 backwards and forwards, but when you feel like you’re drowning in loss and disappointment, these words fade and actually hurt to hear. I’ve questioned His plans for us many times during these dark times.
After reading the email from July, a few times over, looking back on this past year I can say God knew everything the year would hold and He constantly showed His hand and heart for us at every turn. Hindsight is marvelous… now to trust Him moving forward while wearing blinders… that’s having faith! After all, God did say he would take care of us, not abandon us, His plans are still to give us the future we hope for!
Let me give you some background on the person who sent the emails (I got a few of them throughout the summer but missed them until now. They were hidden…) This person doesn’t know specifics, he just prays for us. He is someone who operates in the office of the prophet. Here’s a little history lesson in Christianity for you. 🙂 That is a person “who receives supernatural revelation and speaks by divine inspiration. Prophets are used frequently in the spiritual gift of prophecy as well as the revelation gifts: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, and discerning of spirits.” The Bible tells us they are an important part of the five-fold ministry giftings (Ephesians 4:11-13) along with those called to be pastors, teachers, evangelists, and apostles. I fall under the gifting of a teacher with a prophetic bent and my husband has an apostolic gifting who holds the title of pastor and teaches.
In the email, he says to watch in July for a reconciliation and repayment for financial losses experienced in 2013–2014. To say something so specific for your life… it grabs your attention! He wasn’t aware it cost us close to $50,000 by the time we settled the lawsuit in the fall of 2014, my ex-step-mother-in-law wanted to take us to the cleaners. In mid-July, just like he said it would happen, we were able to pay off all of our bills and outstanding debts incurred during that time-frame. In typical God-like fashion, the reconciliation and repayment which came in was more than enough, we were able to sow a few thousand into the need a pastor friend of ours had.
The email also talked about a cleansing that would take place, a bunch of people left the church in offense this summer, before it happened, he said it would be part of the first wave of what God needed to do for revival (new life) to come. Powerful encounters with God and healing would follow in the second wave. I believe we’re in that phase now.
In the letter, he continued to share God’s will for our lives in ministry. God was not done with us even though people may have said at the beginning of the summer we were finished, our church was done. Since then God has spoken multiple times through many people across the globe, it is not the end. The devil has tried to take us out, to end our ministry. My husband has withstood an attack against his integrity but God said He will vindicate [uphold, contend for] Dave. It is not the end, it is the beginning of something great. (A pastor from Washington came up to Dave during the conference we were at in October in Vegas and shared this with him, we’d never met before.)
“Not everyone will understand or will use discernment and be a part of the last part of this prophetic word; those who have ears to hear the call for change and have been seeking the Lord will stand and ride the wave that is to come.”
That word discernment has come up a lot since the summer. Earlier this year I had a dream. I believe it was a prophetic dream where God revealed the spiritual maturity of specific people in our church. A lady was praying for people and the skin beside her mouth began to disintegrate. Her teeth and gums and skeleton were revealed. As she continued to pray for someone (that person never came into focus) other people I recognized surrounded her, they were enamored with her, “Oh listen to her pray, she’s so spiritual.” They were blind to the wound. They couldn’t discern the disease. Lack of spiritual discernment will cause you to fall into deception. It will cause decay. It will cause division. It will cause you to get off the path God wants for your life. God wants us to pray for this gift of discernment, we all need it!!
God used this year to reveal the cracks in our foundations. He has asked us to shore things up, heal unhealed issues, things in our soul (our mind, our will, and our emotions), etc. and move forward to what He has in-store.
In mid August I received another email (which again was in my spam folder) saying he felt we needed to embrace the change (I wasn’t doing a good job embracing it) – help was on its way! “This truly is an exciting season and I would encourage you to stay focused on what God is doing and not the negative rumblings.”
In the midst of turmoil and confusion, God wants us to keep our eyes on what He has been speaking to us—He was working beneath the surface all along. I’ve had to repent for getting caught up in loss, negativity and bad reports – the email warned that those things were a smokescreen from the enemy to get us distracted and sidetracked.
We continue to expect scales to fall from our eyes as God reveals strategies and His plans for our next wave/season, plans which have been hidden until now. He is opening new doors.
Every where I turned in September I heard this phrase, “”God is turning setbacks into setups…” Every time I turned on the radio, the TV, or on the internet that phrase was there. An email I received in September from this same person, that I just saw now… “September is the start of the turnaround. God is turning setbacks into setups. It will increase in October, increasing throughout December as well. God is moving in your midst—because 2017 is going to be a strategic time.”
In October when we went to Vegas for a church leaders conference, I felt all the pieces come together. Dave and I were both spoken over, encouraged by people from around the world. One of the speakers, Dr Michael Maiden said, “Stop praying for God to move you someplace better. Pray for the place you’re in to get better!” It hit me like a hammer over my head. While we were there we also received the hidden picture for the puzzle pieces of plans and dreams we’d had for the church. Hope was rekindled, Faith began to be restored, Love began to bloom again.
I didn’t realize until Vegas that I was like a mighty oak which had been knocked over, it’s roots exposed, slowly dying. But what I couldn’t see, maybe too angry or offended to want to see… in the midst of the decay, there was a little bit of green (new life – new hope) trying to push through.
I need to be patient and gracious with myself (and others) but also take responsibility for my part in this process, take ownership for my thoughts and words, my actions and reactions. I can’t keep blaming others for where I am, how I’m feeling, for the dark days and nights. I also need to be proactive and protective as new growth is fragile and needs to be cared for. I am making a daily decision to forgive, to not walk in fear, to not get caught up in the negative around me, to put on my boots of peace and to lean on God, for with Him all things are possible.
That’s when new life, new hope can flourish!
If you’re feeling lost, I encourage you to do what I did and read Psalm 121 – daily if you have to.
It’s wonderful to look back and see what has come to pass. I have hope that some of the greatest times we’ll ever have are yet to come!
The song, “Great are you Lord” has become my anthem this year. Three times this year (since July alone) God has spoken to us about the dry bones coming to life. Ezekiel 37:1-14. One of those dry bones is finances. As 2016 comes to a close, the finances at church are better than they’ve been for the last few years, giving is up! Increased giving = increased budgets, which means we can do more for our community, our nation, and have a greater impact in the world. We look forward to be a bigger blessing in people’s lives in 2017! Great are you Lord.