Possessing Canaan

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About seven years ago, I was sure God promised me something specific. When I found His words tucked away in the pages of Jeremiah, I just knew He would send me back to my hometown in Virginia. For it was the place I longed to be.

Yes, a holy confidence was instilled deep in my soul as I read, “I will gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you… I will restore you to the place I deported you from.”

As to the prophet’s message being for God’s chosen people, Israel, that mattered naught. Because in the Spring of 2010, God whispered them into my spirit. No doubt Jeremiah’s words were meant for me. Because there was absolute certainty. Oh yes, I knew God would send me home.

Naturally, I told more than one person about the promise. And when it actually came to pass a mere six months later, I was elated. Because His words were proven. What God promised – to me – came true.

Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day…  Joshua 14:12

This verse from Joshua stirs me nearly every time I see it. Because God made a promise to Caleb, too. Something specific. Yes, he was to receive a certain tract of land and eventually, it happened. Not within six months, though. Unfortunately, he had to wander the wilderness forty years along with a disbelieving nation.

But Caleb did believe God. When all others didn’t, he did. He knew God could give them the land. He had absolute certainty. A holy confidence must have permeated his soul. Because he was only one of two who believed.

And so after a forty year trek, Caleb was finally able to utter those moving words…

“Give me this mountain.”

From Caleb’s story, we see that what began as a promise turned to reality. God’s words proven. In contemplation, I feel Caleb’s mountain can be interchanged with promise. Because he didn’t just lay claim to a piece of property that day. No, He claimed God’s promise. One specific to him. One version of the Bible says it like this…

“Now give me this hill country the LORD promised me on that day.”

Yes, Caleb believed what God said. His reward? A particular portion of the land. A mountain, no less. And so after four long decades, Caleb’s dream – or promise – or mountain – was realized.

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

The very first promise specific to me came from this passage in Jeremiah. God used the prophets words and I was assured. Alas, because of my single-mindedness, all I could see was the promise of Virginia. And I set my hope in my homeland. But in doing so, I neglected to see the deeper promise housed within the message…

Yes, God promised something more than just a different zip code. Something weightier. Something that affects me infinitely more than moving to Virginia ever could. Or would. Or did. I just couldn’t see it in 2010 when I set all my hope in my native soil.

And yet, it’s there. A promise I couldn’t see till years later. For only now can I know what God intended by sending me home. See, it was an answer to a heartfelt prayer. I had prayed to know Him. I determined it.

Yes, my determined purpose was to know God.

Funnily, hindsight allows me to see my hometown (my personal land of promise) was not really the promised land after all. Really it was more of an exile period. Because once I settled, I descended into a black hole of sorts.

But it had to happen that way. Because only by obtaining that which I wanted most in life could I learn the truth. That it wasn’t a land my soul longed for. It was God. And truly, He was and is my real promised land.

That realization couldn’t occur until I discovered my home didn’t satiate me as I’d so hoped. That’s when I was forced to really place my hope in Him. Perhaps for the first time.

Because home didn’t work. It didn’t free me from what ailed me though I thought it would. No, my hometown didn’t cure me and it for sure didn’t fill me. Thus, I finally comprehended truth. I needed God. Not a land.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.           2 Corinthians 3:17

In 2010, God promised to return me home. But in obtaining a land that didn’t satisfy my soul, I was forced to turn to Him. And that’s when I uncovered an even deeper promise through the passage of Jeremiah.

Turns out I was a prisoner. Before Virginia, though, I didn’t realize I’d been in a cell. Oh, many things made up my bars. Regret, a covered up past, and shame just to name a few.

But somewhere along the line, I realized what God really offered to me so long ago within that very first promise. A homeland that led me to God really led to more. Because ultimately, it was freedom God promised through the words of Jeremiah. I just couldn’t see it.

Yes, it seems that freedom is my next dream – or promise – or mountain. Freedom from all the junk that confined me for way too long. It’s there for the taking. I just have to claim it. And for a time, I had the faith to do so.

Like back in 2010. Oh, so bold. I had no doubt my God would deliver on His promises. And the woman I was in 2011 was no different. That’s when God made a new promise. Yes, a holy confidence was instilled in my soul. He would do it!

2012, all good. Bold and expectant. 2013 brought more of the same. But somewhere after that, I threw away my confidence. Delay birthed doubt. And eventually, I just stopped
believing God for the promises. And there are many.
Yes, God has sweetly whispered to my spirit. He’s made promises – specific to me. One after another… beginning with Himself. And freedom. But so much more. A whole mountain chain of dreams. How could I forget them?
Today, though, my God reminded me. The promises remain. And just because my faith faltered, He has not. That’s when I felt my heart beat anew. A holy confidence inspired me to lay claim to what He said I should. Yes, I prayed like I haven’t in a long, long time. It was fervent prayer. Believing prayer.
And I told God I believe Him.
And as I laid claim to the promises, it was as if I echoed Caleb’s cry. “Give me now this mountain!” Or dream. Or promise.
Thus, I am confident. And expectant. Because a new dream, which is really an old dream, will soon be realized. I have faith that He will do it. Because my captivity is coming to an end. The bars of unbelief that stunted my prayers for much too long have been broken.
In fact, I think they’re already gone.
Because I believe Him.
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I just love how God works. I love how He confirms things. See, I wrote out His promises today one by one. From 2011 and 2012 and so forth. And I prayed over them like a woman on fire. And this evening, he blessed my prayers with a rainbow.
His bow the symbol of his promise to mankind (Genesis 9:13), but tonight it seemed like it was just for me. Like God was saying He heard my prayers. And that my next mountain – or promise – or dream is within reach. Yes, it’s right there before me. Because I can see what He wants for me.
Beyond the freedom. All I have to do is lay claim to it. To boldly pray, “Give me now…”
Like Caleb did. For sure, his words are stirring. Because he spoke of more than just a mere mountain. It’s a promise he referred to. The promise of God.

 

See, God made a specific promise to Caleb. Same thing with me. A promise proven over time. But there’s more promises to be had. As countless as the stars. More mountains and more dreams. But not just for me.

More for you. Specific to you. You just have to believe Him. Let a holy confidence settle in your soul. And then, with absolute certainty, claim His promises. Like Caleb did.

You can start there. Repeat after him…

“Give me now this mountain!”

“Today I am setting you free from the chains that were on your hands… Look- the whole land is in front of you. Wherever it seems good and right for you to go, go there.” Jeremiah 40:4

What Mary Said

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And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

Who doesn’t love the Beatles? Don’t most of us sing along with Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison? When we hear those familiar tunes, don’t we all love to belt out the lyrics to “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” or “Twist and Shout,” or “Here Comes the Sun.” I do. When I hear them, I can’t help but join in.

And so, this morning’s revelation kind of stopped me in my tracks. Because today was the day I realized that the Beatles sang Scripture. And so, when millions of people sing along with Paul McCartney, they too, are singing Scripture. For “Let it Be” is biblical. It’s found in the book of Luke, chapter 1, verse 38. “Let it be…” And the words belonged to Mary. It’s what she said.

Sing along if you know the lines…

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be…

Today I contemplated the lyrics of this song for the first time. Ever. Despite having heard the song hundreds of times, and having always understood that Mary is the mother of Christ, today I paused to consider their deeper meaning. “Let it Be.” What Let it Be could have meant to the Beatles. And what Let it Be means for us today. What wisdom lie within those words uttered by Mother Mary. Let’s consider…

Mary was a young virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph. And like any young girl who is soon to be married, don’t you think her mind was filled with what was to come? For she was soon to be a woman. She would soon leave her family to be joined with a man… becoming one flesh. But one day, everything changed.

An angel appeared to her, startling her with his greeting, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” Mary was troubled, and so the angel encouraged her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” He proceeded to tell her of what was to come, but she couldn’t imagine how that could be, for she had never known a man. The angel’s reply…

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”

Imagine. This was a young girl. She had never been intimate with a man but she was told she would conceive. Do you think she was joyful? Or full of trepidation? For a woman didn’t have as many rights then as she does today. No, an unwed, pregnant girl would surely endure hardship.

And what of her engagement… what would Joseph think? If we had lived then, and found ourselves in similar circumstances, would we have responded as Mary did? In the face of harsh reality, could we have done the courageous thing.

Knowing with certainty that people would scorn and ridicule her, Mary accepted her fate. She was destined to be the mother of God’s Son, and she welcomed her circumstances. And despite what was sure to come her way, Mary said the courageous thing. She spoke words of wisdom and replied, “Let it be to me according to your word.” Let it Be. To me.

Mary may have been a young girl, but she was wise. God chosen one. And blessed was she who believed, for there was a fulfillment of those things which were told her. For she knew with God that anything was possible. Thus, she faced what life served up. She walked in courage and in strength for she dwelled within the shadow of the Most High. And as she poured herself into Jesus, her Son grew within the shadow of her love.

But over time, as she watched Jesus grow in stature with God and with men, she realized her destiny was complete. Because God’s love for the world, which was housed in a man called Jesus, soon eclipsed Mary’s love for her own. For Jesus was God in the flesh, and He had His own destiny to fulfill. And so, again, Mary had to let it be. Circumstances were beyond her control.

Let it be were the wise words of Mother Mary. They were also the words of the Beatles. And I just learned that circumstances may not have been so favorable at that time, for “Let it Be” was their breakup album. Perhaps those young men were drawing strength from Mary’s words at a time when they needed to be encouraged. Because Paul McCartney cries out no less than 36 times, “Let it Be!”

See, the band was parting ways, soon to venture off on individual paths. Was it an angry split? Or was it just time? Regardless of the reason, I’m sure a bittersweet season hovered upon their souls. And so Paul’s words must have come from a deep place. Words spewed forth from a turbulent heart. And ours too, as we echo his refrain, “Let it Be.”

I’m sure Paul meant what he sang. And may we feel the same. When life serves up something we’re not quite sure how to handle, may we face it courageously. And in our darkest hour, may Mary’s words be planted deep inside sprouting forth the peace we crave…

“Let it Be, unto me… according to your word, Lord.”

As for Mary, she was wise indeed. And she had a way with words. Even after Jesus was a grown man with His own ministry. For there was a wedding but the wine ran dry.

Mary knew what to do, though. She turned to Jesus. He replied, “My hour has not yet come.” She must have been persistent, though, for she directed the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

More words of wisdom from Mary.

And the people listened to her. And did what she said. And what He said. Then, they beheld a miracle. Water turned to wine. And Mary? She probably wasn’t surprised. For she knew…

With God all things are possible.

And she knew her Son. For she grew up in the shadow of His love.

Mary turned to Jesus in an hour of need. And she pointed others in the same direction. She did so by speaking words of wisdom…

Let it Be…

It’s what Mary said.

 

She Believes

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“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:45

My sister-in-law has a lot going on, as I think most women do. We’re just busy. So busy. We become hurried and rushed and before we know it, we’re covered up by a list of to-do’s that keep us distracted from the things that really matter. Like our kids. For me, it’s the dishes and the laundry and the work emails and the paperwork and the cat boxes and the appointments and the practices and so on and so forth. So much. I scurry here and there and before I know it, it’s bedtime. And that’s when guilt sets in. Because that’s when I have time to contemplate my day and realize I did nothing that I really wanted to do. Like pour myself into my child. Oh, I may have accomplished some things on my to-do list… but what about my child. Did I put any of myself into him before tucking him into his bed?

Rushing. It’s part of a mother’s life. For me… this leads to the wilderness mentality. Some of you may know what I’m talking about. God’s chosen people, the Israelites, wandered in the wilderness forty years. Basically, a desert land. And sadly, just about every one of them died in that desert land for they were unable to enter the land of promise. It was disbelief that kept them out. But two made it. There were who heard what God had to say. And they believed Him. Those two entered into God’s promises, for they believed.

Yep, the wilderness. Too often, this is where I find myself. Because my busyness leads me there. And when my to-do list is not finished by the end of the day, I feel upset. What Jesus said to Martha, He says to me, “Pam, Pam, you’re worried and upset about many things.” It’s no coincidence I read this passage of Scripture on Monday, for it’s a picture of me. No doubt, this week has been busy. So busy. I’ve been so distracted and have accomplished nothing that I really wanted to. You know, the things that really matter. Those items that end up at the bottom of an undone list. Like pouring myself into my child.

The funny thing about the wilderness is, I believe it’s a necessary destination for each of God’s children. The only difference is the duration of the stay. Some may remain there forty years, like God’s chosen people. Or perhaps, some are more spiritually grounded and wander only a short while, like Jesus. He was in the wilderness forty days and nights. Or what about John the Baptist? I can’t be certain, but I believe he was in the wilderness until he was about 29 years old. And it was this John who was chosen by God for a particular task. But he had to be ready. And it was during his wilderness stay that God prepared him for what he was created to do…

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” Luke 1:76-79

You know, we’re no different than John the Baptist. Like John, God created each one of us for a specific purpose. While we were in our mothers’ womb, He knew what He had in mind for us. But through the course of life, we can become busy. We get off track from His course. And it’s those times we can feel like we’re roaming the wilderness. However, we can still be used by Him. Even when we have dry, parched seasons and we feel that we’re running and running but getting no where, even there… God can use us. Like John, we can be a voice of one crying out. Like John the Baptist, we too, can be heard.

A voice of one crying out: Prepare the way of the LORD in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. Isaiah 40:3

Yep, this week has been busy. My sister-in-law can attest to that. And I’m sure that through her busyness, she’s become dry. I bet she feels like she’s been running and running until she has nothing left to offer. I guarantee you by the end of her day, when all is quiet, she has regret. I’m sure she beats herself up, thinking, “I should have done this…” I know she wonders if she poured enough of herself into her children. And you know what? I think she has. I think God used her even while she trudged through a wilderness land. For she’s the voice of one crying out. Isaiah 53:1 says, “Who has believed what we have heard? And who has the arm of the LORD been revealed to?” And I think my niece. For she has heard her mother’s voice. And more importantly, she believes. For my niece’s heart overflowed onto her mirror sometime this past weekend…

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Oh, the belief of this child! Who has believed what she has heard? She has. And who has the arm of the LORD been revealed to? To her. For she proclaims, “O Lord, how powerful are you! For how beloved I am! My God O mighty is the only one that is on top of all of us! O how I love Him!” You know, Isaiah 40:22 declares, “God is enthroned above the circle of the earth.” The writing on the wall (or mirror) essentially proclaims the same. God’s word is in this child. She is a voice of one crying out. For the One who is worthy of all praise will be praised. If we don’t open our mouths to do so, even the stones will cry out (Luke 19:40). And if we don’t open our mouths, even the children will cry out, for “You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength…” (Psalm 8:2).

Yes, it’s true. Mothers can become overtaken by hectic schedules. And it’s true that we can end up in a desert land. It’s a fact that we sometimes wander through the wilderness because of our overstuffed days… but those times are necessary. It’s a season of preparation. For it’s then that we’re strengthened and we grow. And it’s through our wilderness roaming that we turn to Him.

You know, every day we have a choice. We can be a Martha or a Mary (Luke 10:38-42). And no doubt, we will be both of these women throughout our journey. However, when we find ourselves in the way of Martha, let’s not beat ourselves up. Let’s not wallow in guilt and regret, thinking, “If only I did this…” Because praise God, today’s a new day! Today, may we opt to be like Mary and choose that which is better. For His word won’t be taken from us. And let’s take that which is better, and pour it into our children.

And for those who find themselves in the wilderness today, take heart. He can still use you. Like John, be that one. Be the voice of one crying out, “Prepare the way of the Lord…” I guarantee you, there will be someone to listen. And more importantly, there will be someone to believe. Like my niece. She believes.

And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel. Luke 1:80

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I am Forgiven

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This past weekend was lovely. I gathered with close to thirty women in His name. We laughed. We cried. We shared. We sang. We studied God’s word. And we prayed. Sunday morning we talked about Mary, the mother of Jesus. And as I meditated on her, and thought about Him, my heart was moved. Tears hovered on the edges of my lashes as I gazed at pictures of Him, and for once, I was without words. Afterward, we shared communion. Just us women. And I don’t think communion has ever meant more to me. And I believe that’s because for the very first time, I see myself as I really am. A sinner. And for the very first time, perhaps I really believe it… that I am forgiven.

It was the previous week that God provided a vivid picture of me through my son. He’s been going through a shaky patch, birthed when he began staying after school. And for some odd reason – his faith in me has been shaken. The school actually called one afternoon because my son was in tears, terrified that I would forget him. I was almost speechless. Where in the world did this come from? First, I tried to comfort him. Then, I grilled him. And later, I exhorted him.  But alas, my son remained weepy and attached for weeks. The only thing that consoled him was a note I had written and posted to the refrigerator in full view. It detailed the dates and times and the whens and wheres I would meet my son. This seemed to work.

Finally, when my son’s after school commitment was over, I tossed the note in the trash. I told him we don’t need it anymore. But to my dismay, his little face crumpled up, and tears spurted. He wanted that note back up. But I refused. I sat him on my kitchen counter and peered into his eyes. I cupped his cheek and said, “Don’t you know that your mama won’t forget you? Don’t you know that I’ll always be there to meet you? Don’t you trust me?” And mouth askew, he shook his little tear stained face back and forth to answer. No. And I was stunned for my son told me that he didn’t trust me. And as soon as I helped him off that counter, that little stinker proceeded on his own with paper and marker, and made his own chart for my use. See, my spoken words alone were not enough to boost his faith. He needed written words to give him comfort.

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You know… one of the biggest questions that’s plagued me throughout my spiritual journey is, “Where is the love?” If I am really His girl, then why don’t I feel His unconditional love? And if I were truly His daughter, then why don’t I feel love towards every person I come into contact with? Furthermore, why have I held to a judgmental attitude all this time? And the answer to all these questions, I believe, is really quite simple. I think it has everything to do with what my little boy has been going through. For I’ve been lacking what he lacks. And it’s called trust. It’s called faith. Therein lies the real question, “Do I trust Him?”

Then one of the Pharisees invited Him to eat with him. He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  And a woman in the town who was a sinner found out that Jesus was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of fragrant oil and stood behind Him at His feet, weeping, and began to wash His feet with her tears. She wiped His feet with the hair of her head, kissing them and anointing them with the fragrant oil. When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching Him—she’s a sinner!” Jesus replied to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he said, “say it.”  

“A creditor had two debtors. One owed 500 denarii, and the other 50. Since they could not pay it back, he graciously forgave them both. So, which of them will love him more?”  Simon answered, “I suppose the one he forgave more.” “You have judged correctly,” He told him. Turning to the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she, with her tears, has washed My feet and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing My feet since I came in. You didn’t anoint My head with olive oil, but she has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Those who were at the table with Him began to say among themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Luke 7:36-50

In truth, I have always more readily identified with the Pharisee in this story. But today… today, I finally see a glimpse of me in this forgiven woman. See, I read something last week. Quite some time ago, I participated in a study called “Forgiven and Set Free,” but I had forgotten what was written… “Still don’t feel forgiven? Then believe it. Just believe it.” Ah. Belief. First comes belief. Simply take Him at His word and trust that I am forgiven. Then comes love… the love that seems to have escaped me. For Jesus said, “…her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much.” That literally means, “Her love shows that she has been forgiven.” Later, Jesus told the woman that her faith has saved her. Her faith. Her trust.

You know, I was horrified when my son told me that he doesn’t trust me. He didn’t have enough faith in me that I would be there to meet him. He thought I would forget him, and so, a few written words on a piece of paper gave him comfort. Those written words increased his faith in me. Just as with me, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. And don’t you know that just as much as I comforted and grilled and exhorted my son, God does the same thing with me. Every bit as much as I want my son to believe in me, He wants me to believe in Him. He wants me to take His word for it, just as I expect my son to take me at mine.

Oh, what a picture. A sweet little boy sitting on a counter looking into his mama’s eyes. His little heart broken and shaken. He didn’t believe. And then, there’s me. A little girl sitting on a chair, looking into my Father’s eyes. My heart broken and shaken. I spoke words into my son’s heart, and God speaks the same into mine.  All this time, He’s been saying to me… “Don’t you know that I won’t forget you? Don’t you know that I’ll always be there to meet you? Don’t you trust me, Pam? Don’t you believe Me?” For so long, He must have seen me looking back at Him, mouth askew, shaking my tear stained face back and forth in answer. No, God. I don’t believe You.

But today… today, is different. I say, “Yes, Abba. Yes, Daddy, I believe you! I am forgiven.”

And His daughter will walk forth in love. For my love shows that I am forgiven.

“Ah!” His disciples said. “Now You’re speaking plainly and not using any figurative language. Now we know that You know everything and don’t need anyone to question You. By this we believe that You came from God.” Jesus responded to them, “Do you now believe?” John 16:29-31

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mother and child reunion

Mother and child

I think we’ve all heard it at least once in our lives. I believe we have all been cautioned by some well-meaning person with the phrase, “Don’t get your hopes up.” And perhaps in accompaniment to the words of wisdom, their heads shook back and forth, or maybe their faces displayed the most severe expression to fully demonstrate the foolhardiness of one who hopes. Because any sound person can tell you… hope surely will be dashed to the ground. And the well-meaning person… likely a loved one… was really only trying to help you when they told you what they did. But truth be known, after hearing it so many times, a person who was once full of faith may fall into the same mindset. Despite the faithful’s best intentions, she may sink down into that grim sort of outlook on life, expecting the worst out of circumstances… and of people. But then, when least expected, hope glimmers and faith renews. And those are the times, for me at least, when the words, “Get behind me, Gehazi,” come to mind. Believe it or not, this will make sense by the end of this blog. After reading this, may we all cry out, “Get behind me, Gehazi!”

It was three years ago that I had great hope. I knew that I knew that I knew that I knew that God was going to return me to my hometown in Virginia. I felt it in my bones. I had come across Scripture, and I felt assured that it was a promise to me, despite being written to the children of Israel so long ago. And so, I was fully expectant, full of faith, and full of hope that my God would bring it to pass. No one could tell me otherwise. And believe me, some tried to. You know those cautious phrases, “Don’t get your hopes up,” and “I’m just saying,” and, “I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

And so, in reflecting on those nay-sayers of days gone by, I cannot help but think about the Shumannite woman in contrast. It’s in the fourth chapter of Second Kings that we read about her, and we find that she was wealthy with no needs. She even took care of others’ needs, including Elisha the prophet. Whenever he passed by, she would urge him to eat. And so eventually, after some visits, she asked her husband if they could prepare a room for this man of God to rest in. And so it came to pass that the man of God wanted to do something for this kind woman who had no needs. When asked, she said, “I dwell among my own people…” Translation, “I’m fine, I don’t need a thing.” Elisha turned to his assistant, Gehazi. It was Gehazi who named something she didn’t have. He knew that the wealthy woman had no son, and not only that, her husband was old. Translation, chances of a child were slim to none. But see, with God all things are possible. Elisha informed the Shumannite woman that she would indeed have a child. He said, “About this time next year you shall embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my Lord. Man of God, do not lie to your maidservant!” Translation, “No way!”

Elisha told the woman who had no need that she would indeed have a son and it must have seemed impossible. Could a baby have been a long forgotten desire that had been buried deep away? Or could it be that this woman had yearned for a baby for years, the longing never extinguished… the burning ever fresh? We don’t really know, only that she in fact conceived and gave birth to a son. And as any mother today knows, this woman had to have loved him with all her heart and soul. And so, what happened next came as such a surprise to me. The child grew, but one day his head began to hurt. So, he was carried back home to his mother. And you know, that Shumannite woman held him on her knees until noon, and then, he died. He died… right there on her lap. Here is a woman who didn’t ask for a child, and yet, the man of God promised her a son. And she bore that son and loved him. But then… death? How could that be?

The woman laid her son’s body on the bed she had prepared for the man of God, and she called for a donkey and her servant. She said, “Drive, and go forward; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.” Translation, “Go as fast as you can and do not stop!” And so she departed, and went to the man of God. When Elisha saw her from a distance, he sent his servant Gehazi. He told Gehazi to check on her well being. But that Shumannite woman had none of that. She answered Gehazi’s questions, but left him behind as she reached for the man of God. See, it was Elisha who made the promise. It was he who was the man of God, and it was he that she was desperate to reach. And as she grabbed hold of him, Gehazi tried to push her away. But Elisha saw her anguish, he saw her pain…

Here we see a picture of a woman… a woman who dared to hope for a son despite the odds. But then, he died… and yet, the woman seemed to have held on to hope. Because afterward, she didn’t stop moving until she reached the man of God. And when Gehazi tried to deter her, she didn’t let him slow her down. When she reached Elisha, she said, “Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me’?” Translation,”I never asked for a son, and yet you told me I would have one. And so why, now, does my child lay dead on your bed?” Elisha then said to his servant, Gehazi, “Get yourself ready, and take my staff in your hand, and be on your way.” But that wasn’t good enough for this woman. See, her faith lay with the man of God, and so she clung to him and said she would not leave him. And so, He arose and followed her. And Elisha indeed performed a miracle that day. He did what Gehazi could not accomplish, and he roused the child.

I admire this woman because she never gave up hope. And it was at a ladies’ conference last fall that I first heard of the Shumannite woman and her persistence. It was Beth Moore who paralleled this woman’s trek to Elisha as our own trek to Jesus, and she said that there are just those times when no one else will do but Him. Beth said that when those “Gehazis” try to get in our way and block our path, we just need to push them aside and say, “Get behind me, Gehazi!” And essentially, that’s what the Shumannite woman did. And in addition to her unswerving hope and persistence, I also admire that she fully expected the miracle… She dared to hope against all odds. And more than once. When things looked the darkest, she didn’t lose her faith. Because she believed the man of God when he told her that she would have a son. This woman never gave up on her child… not once. And isn’t this what mother’s do today? Don’t we all hold to hope when it concerns our children?

You know, it would be way too easy to shut down. It would be pretty comfortable to keep one’s hopes low, so that hopes would not be dashed to the ground. It would be so easy to just close oneself up tight and to not hope for anything else, ever again… because that would be safe. Because when the Gehazi’s of the world tell us over and over, “Don’t get your hopes up,” we eventually start to think that way. And who wants to risk heartache, right? But that’s not biblical… at all. Because God is the God of hope! And without faith, it is impossible to please Him! And although with man it’s impossible, with God all things are possible! And let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, because He who promised is faithful! Believe Him. Just take Him at His word.

In all my life, there have only been a handful of times that I have felt assured of a promise by God. The first was that He would return me to my hometown. And upon return to my homeland, I felt sure that all of my people would one day be His people (those that are not already His). I felt confident of that when I read a particular verse in Isaiah, and I still believe that today. I claim that promise. And it was the fall of 2011 that I knew that I knew that I knew that I knew that I would have another baby. And sure enough, it was December 13, 2011 that I learned of my pregnancy. You can imagine my surprise when the sonogram showed that there was no heartbeat, and I had a miscarriage shortly thereafter. I didn’t understand… because God promised me a baby. And I did all the right things… I believed it, I hoped it, and yet, no baby. But the truth is, there is a baby. Just not here on this side of eternity… just not here where I can hold him or her on my lap.

It was a few days ago that I came across a note in my Bible placed beside Psalm 30:5. It says, “1/23/12, sonogram 1/20, no heart beat.”  When I read this portion of Scripture over a year ago, I felt assured of a promise: “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Yes, I’ll claim the promise I find here. For I’m promised God’s favor for life… And I’m told that joy comes in the morning. And so, that’s mine. I’ll believe it and I’ll hope for it.

You know, God promised me a baby. And he fulfilled that promise, for I’ll meet that baby one day in heaven. And so, for today, I have the hope of a mother and child reunion. And as of today, I will always choose hope. I shall always believe… for “blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” Luke 1:45

And to all those nay-sayers out there… to all those who wisely tell me to not get my hopes up, I forever shall say, “Get behind me, Gehazi.” For I’ll let nothing stand in the way of me and my Jesus.