What Movie Is-I Fear Nothing For I Walk With God God’s Redeeming Hand

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God’s Redeeming Hand

I don’t remember much about my parents living together when I was a child, but I do remember the day my dad left. It left such an impression on me and in my heart that I can still smell the rocky asphalt of the driveway in our apartment complex as I watched his car leave from me. It is the kind of scene you see in a movie and it rips your heart apart. Dad leaving, mom grieving, and daughter screaming. Yes, that was the day I realized that this world is unfair, disappointing, and painful! Some may come to that realization much later in life, but for me, I was only five.

I came to know Jesus at a tender age of 6. My neighbors reached out to me and invited me to church. I remember learning about God’s love for me and how much He wanted to be my Father. I had an emptiness inside and I reached up and grabbed hold of my Eternal Father whom I knew would never leave me! That is the second memory as a young child that left the greatest impression on me. I remember sitting criss-crossed on an old carpet in my Sunday school class that smelled of warm rubber. I will not forget how I felt that day!

I don’t come from a deep spiritual lineage. I come from your classic dysfunctional, alcoholic, divorced, and mental illness family line. I was the first on both sides of my family to make a commitment to follow Christ. A year later my mom started coming to church and soon came to Christ. Shortly thereafter, she met my step-dad who was a Christian and by the age of 7, I was tenderly placed in a loving Christian home. I grew up at an amazing Bible teaching church in the Bay Area called Peninsula Bible Church. I sat under the great teachings of Ray Stedman. My step-dad worked at the church and we lived a modest life in Cupertino, California with my two brothers. While I can honestly say I grew up in the church, I also grew up in the world as my dad lived a life contrary to the lifestyle of my mom and step-dad. I had the unique perspective of living in both worlds. My dad continued to be a strong and loving influence in my life but our value systems were very different. I was raised on hymns and the Eagles which is very telling about who I am today.

I was given a lot in terms of my faith: An incredible church and teaching of God’s Word, mentors, youth camps, 9 trips to Mexicali, endless trips to Mt. Hermon, Young Life camps, and ministry opportunities in my church, etc. If you were to look at my spiritual resume, you might be impressed. I was known in my church and my identity back then was in my Christian experiences and what I did for God and not what God wanted to do through me. I was comfortable in my faith and for many years things stayed status quo. That is until I married my husband and we moved away from all that I had known.

Twelve years ago Robb and I decided to move to Folsom, California. I think of Genesis 12:1 when the Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” In many ways my move was a lot like Abrams. My problem the first year was I told God where to take me. I want this kind of house, go to that church, serve in this particular ministry, have my husband make a certain amount of money, have this many kids, find these types of girlfriends, and look a certain way. For many of us, we tell God that we will go where He wants us to go but we are still in the drivers seat. And in His great patience with us, He watches us take those detours, back roads, and dead ends until we are LOST.

After a year living in Folsom, I found myself LOST. We couldn’t find a church, no one was interested in my spiritual resume and what I had to offer their church, women had enough girlfriends and seemed disinterested in me, my husband was working longer hours then he had been in the Bay Area, money is not all that it is cracked up to be, and we had three kids under three, yikes! In August of 2000, I went up to Portland to a Woman of Faith conference. I don’t remember much about that conference except that I finally recognized that I was LOST and had no idea where I was and how I had gotten there. I finally handed Jesus the wheel and said, “Where are we going now?” I am done trying to navigate my life on my own. It is unfulfilling, too comfortable, busy, and I feel like I am missing out. For the first time in a long time I felt excited about my life and venturing into the unknown.

God didn’t waste time giving me my first destination. The following day, my husband came home and asked me if I would be willing to move to Bucharest, Romania. Wow, who plans that with their life? With great expectation and some fear, we left once again the comfort of our home and country to go somewhere unknown. The experience living in a third world country was one of the richest times of my life. It also gave me a greater confidence in my ability to trust God. Romania was not a means to an end but the means to what would be the beginning of a changed course in my Faith Journey. When we moved back to Folsom, I began to embrace decisions in my life that would push me out of what I could do on my own, challenge me to be more dependent on God, and live more dangerously! This thinking was a new way of living.

My greatest weakness is being a people pleaser. The most daring step I have taken in my faith is to allow God to remove those areas in my life that keep me focused on what people think of me and not how God sees me. If there is one thing God wants us to live for, is to please Him and not man. God allowed two things to happen to begin my journey of freedom. As much as I tried to get plugged back into a church to serve, God would shut the doors. He also did this with my heart. I found myself thinking, praying, ministering, and reaching out to women and families who were not connected to a church or who didn’t know who Jesus Christ was and who were on the fringe, or teetor-tottering between the world and the church. They were everywhere- On my kid’s soccer teams, at their schools, at Starbucks, at the gym… Women just like me, raising their kids, struggling in their marriages, dealing with body image issues, caught up in the materialism of their culture, struggling with the same old issues, feeling defeated, lacking the Woo Hoo of life, etc. The only difference was I had Jesus Christ in the center of my life, walking through all of this with me, and they had NO ONE! This broke my heart and continues to do so today. The second way God began to free me up was going public with my faith. Yes, I came out of the closet 8 years ago when I told God yes to starting up a Bible study in my neighborhood with 18 women. The greatest risk I have ever taken in my life thus far, but one that has brought me the greatest spiritual growth and freedom as well. There is no going back to the status quo once you have experienced the blessings of being out of drivers seat!

World Vision has a plaque hanging at their headquarters that says, “Having hearts that break like Jesus does.” Ninety percent of most communities across America are not plugged into a local church. Folsom, like many cities, is poor in spirit. It is a city known for its prison thanks to Johnny Cash who put us on the map. Yes, there are men incarcerated but as I drive around my city I see many more men, women, and youth in their own prisons. The prophet Isaiah describes the ways the Spirit has changed my heart for those who don’t have all that I have been given. “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:1-3.

As I look back at my life I am not surprised where God has me today. We live in a messy world. We are all products of sin. And the result of sin has wreaked a lot of havoc, disappointment, regret, shame, and sadness for all of us. But God is in the full-time business of taking our lives, cleaning up the messes, and using us for greater purposes than we could ever imagine. Whether it be divorce, growing up with alcoholism, sexual abuse, addiction, lack of love and approval from parents, death of loved ones, chronic pain, cancer, financial struggles, unreconciled relationships, seeking the world’s approval, materialism etc., we are all lost and the question remains for everyone of us, when are we going to stop and ask for directions from the ONE who knows exactly where He wants to take us?

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