Series: Paul’s Letters
Romans 88:26 ESV
Philippians 1:21 ESV
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 ESV
Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
Looking back over the whole of my life I can see the reason memorizing scripture is so important.
Here it is: when times get really tough, the Spirit has used verses I’ve memorized to comfort, console, and encourage me. I’ve spent many a night just sitting in silence with God. During those times I’ve found it’s difficult to pray. That isn’t because I am angry or upset…it’s because I have no words. I don’t know what to ask or say.
Paul wrote in Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
It comforts me more than I can say that when I have no words, the Spirit intercedes FOR me.
When I was in my early 50’s I’d been through trials and I thought I knew something about suffering. I was wrong. In a very short span of time my entire life unraveled before me. Everything I’d known was gone. I lost almost everything I’d known. I was dumbfounded. I was in shock and I couldn’t even cry.
Day after day, month after month I sat in silence. I’d been a pray-er all my life and for the first time I had no words. I didn’t realize it at the time but as I sat in silence, the Spirit was covering me and praying for me.
For months I sat while the Spirit carried me through each day.
I wasn’t sure how to “do” life on my own. About that time, a friend invited me to go to church with her because one of my losses was church (that can happen when you are ministry). My new church was very large and I thought I could hide there. I wanted to hide.
I discovered they had a Healing Prayer Service and I went to sit in the back. Eventually I became Director of that service. While there, God called me to go to Seminary. God gradually opened new unexpected doors.
In Philippians 1:21, Paul (genius that he was) wrote, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” I died to my old life and God gave me a new life.
Many many details eventually surfaced and as each layer emerged the Spirit helped me to deal with my new reality. Healing did come. I did emerge stronger.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 Paul wrote memorable words,“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”
Eventually I knew God had a plan. In Proverbs 3:5-6 wise King Solomon wrote, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
I said those words to myself every day.
The Prophet Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 29:11, “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.”
Just when I thought everything I’d known was gone forever, I was given hope that God had a plan.
I didn’t know the plan, but knowing that God HAD a plan gave me hope.
Then one fine Spring day when I went to a leadership conference sponsored by my church, God confirmed there was something specific He had for me. I told God I would do whatever He asked.
Within a few months, the Spirit started urging me to return to school. I love learning and I was excited about going back to school.
Then, the Spirit made it clear that school meant Seminary.
Whoa. Wait. What just happened here? I was thinking God wanted me to take one online course or one class. Seminary is a very long program. I knew it was nearly 150 graduate level hours. It takes between 6-7 years to complete a Master of Divinity degree.
I argued, pleaded, and urged God to find another plan, but the Spirit was relentless. After months of making excuses I submitted my application and paperwork to a Seminary that was four hours away from where I lived. I told myself getting accepted would take time.
But, God was in charge. Within 10 hours I had a letter of acceptance in my hands.
So…I closed my eyes and I jumped into deep waters. I was more unsure and more frightened than I can effectively express.
Seven years later I graduated with a M.Div. in Ministry Leadership.
It was way way more difficult than college but it changed me forever.
I loved it!
Going to Seminary was and is a great blessing!
There were times when I had to remind myself that I told God I would do whatever He asked. Over and over again I repeated Solomon’s words about trusting God.
The interesting thing is that my most difficult class was (and is) my greatest blessing. When I had to decide which language to focus on, I prayed about it. The answer surprised me, but it was very clear. Take Biblical Hebrew.
It was excruciatingly difficult but I love it! God blesses me immensely every day as I continue to study and learn more about Hebrew.
Overall, it wasn’t easy but it changed how I think. That’s what God is in the business of doing!
Spiritual Practice: Change Challenge
What challenges and changes have you faced? How did God help you? Or is God challenging you now?
In God, Deborah