Unseen Path

by Sheila Keedy

Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the might waters- a pathway no one knew was there!  Psalm 77:19 (NL)

close-up-photo-of-dog-3397939We have a new puppy. Her name is Pearl and she is very strong-willed. (Eye roll!) She does not like to be told no and wants to go her own way.  When we take a walk she has to be on a leash as she runs away if not and we end up chasing her around the neighborhood.  (Double eye roll!)

The leash is her worst enemy.  Pearl does not like following where we lead and the leash takes the brunt of her disapproval.  She has literally dangled in the air as she’s jumped up and clamped down on the leash.  Mercy!  We are going to persevere through this and maybe one day she will come to trust that we are leading her down the best path and will follow more obediently. (And maybe we’ll be able to recover financially from the number of leashes we’ve had to buy.) 

Actually, I’m sure I’m a lot like Pearl.  Looking back over my life there have been paths that I did not want to travel.  Miscarriages, breast cancer, loss of a 17-year-old niece, loss of a parent to name just a few.  Many times though, on these difficult journeys were pathways to ministry, testimonies, sharing and caring.  Pathways I didn’t know would be there, but found hope and joy again in that part of the journey.  And best of all, growing in my relationship with my Healer, Comforter, Savior and Friend.     

Over the last several months, I have worked my way from Genesis to Kings and Chronicles.  I have read story after story in the Old Testament of people whose lives were changed by the power and presence of God.  One example? Sarah at 90 years old having a baby!  Only God could make a way for her when there seemed to be absolutely no way! As the journeys of others like Rahab or Ruth came to an end, I was ready to let out a cheer, or a hallelujah, what great things HE has done! 

Because I see it from this perspective, beginning to end, I sometimes get detached from the difficult details of their stories – the parts where they resisted the path they were on.  I revere them for being such amazing women of faith and perseverance, forgetting they would have struggled just as we do.  They were real women, with real problems and I tend to overlook the reality and pain of their difficult journey because I know the outcome.  They did not.  

Eve – experienced the death of a son. 

Sarah – had to wait for the promise of a child to be fulfilled.

Hagar – cast out and alone.

Leah and Rachel – dealing with sister rivalry.  (and jealousy over a man????)

Rahab – wondered if there was hope for someone like her. 

Naomi and Ruth – grieving the loss of a their respective husbands.

Hannah – longed for a child. 

Tamar, David’s daughter and Tamar, Judah’s wife – wondering if there would be justice for what was done to them. (should you say “sexual abuse” or “rape” for those who may not know?)

Not to leave out the difficult pathways of a few women in the New Testament, think about these: 

the shame of the woman caught in adultery,

the despair of the woman at the well as relationship after relationship fell apart,

the woman with the issue of blood searching for healing,

and the torment of Mary Magdalene before Jesus delivered her.  

Am I trying to focus on their difficulties? Not at all. What I want to draw attention to is this: they had to travel down paths that they didn’t know how long it would last or where it would end. 

We can take heart from their stories for many reasons, but most importantly because we see God was right there with them.  He didn’t miss one part of their journey.  In fact, their paths led to Him.  

Genesis 16:13  So she, (Hagar), called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” 

John 20:18 Mary Magdalene announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”

As we read their stories in Scripture, we get to see so many amazing attributes of God such as His faithfulness, grace and mercy.  We get to see that He is Redeemer, Provider and full of love and compassion.  We can be encouraged because what He did for them He will do for you and me. 

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

When it comes to our story, our journey, we are still in the midst of it.  We may not see or understand the path He is taking us on.  We struggle and resist.  What makes it worse is we don’t know the outcome of our stories like we do those of of the women in Scripture, and we want God to fix things now!  We want to know that what we’ve been through will be worth it.  But, this is where faith comes in.  Faith is believing in the unseen, the unknown.  

Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  (ESV) 

If you had asked Moses and Israel as they stood on the edge of the Red Sea what they saw, they would have said nothing but water in front and the enemy behind them.  But what happened next changed everything! 

Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the Lord opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land.  So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side!”  Exodus 14:21-22 (NLT) 

brown-colour-dawn-environment-132428There it is, a pathway no one knew was there.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”                       2 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV)

Whatever obstacle is in front of you, 

whatever storm you may be facing, 

whatever darkness lies ahead, 

whatever deep waters you find yourself in, 

there is a road unseen, unknown, a pathway you didn’t even know was there.   And right there with you is the Lord leading you and walking with you, step by step.  No matter how you struggle and resist, He will not leave nor forsake you.  He will remain faithful.  

Psalm 26:3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.  

One day, when we look back on the path He had us on, we’ll say along with the women in Scripture, hallelujah, what great things God has done! 

Luke 1:46-49  “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,… for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 

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Using the Scriptures below, pray them for your journey.  They will comfort you and give you the courage to keep moving forward.   

Deuteronomy 31:8  The Lord, himself, goes before you and will be there with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;…

Psalm 31:14-15a But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God. ”My times are in your hand;…

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

John 8:12  Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 

 

A Box of Faith

For we live by believing and not by seeing. 2 Corinthians 5:7 NLT

The irony of the conversation escaped me at the time. I made note of it; then later when I sat down to actually write it out, the irony was no longer lost to me. I giggled to myself when I thought back to the day the conversation had taken place. I had been at work and was taking any spare empty boxes and reserving them for myself. I had written a note and placed it on them in a corner.

“Please save for Amy Martin.”

My friend Faith with her thick Nigerian accent and last name that frequently befuddles the television announcer when he announces it during ball games, walked over to me and placed her hand on my shoulder. She was an Olympian, she married an Olympian, their offspring play sports with Olympic-like prowess. I adore her and I have often said she has taught me more in my adult life about Jesus than near anybody else. She is also the sole reason I have even a slight interest in SEC football.

“Amy Martin, why do you have all of these boxes?” She says my name in such a way that it sounds like “Am-Me Maw-tin.”

“I might be moving. I mean if nothing goes wrong, I might be moving.” She looked puzzled.

I clarified. “Faith, I sort of expect something bad to happen or something to go wrong. I know I should have more faith but…but well…I need a lotta faith.”

mustard-seeds

“I believe. Lord, help my unbelief.”

“Jesus say you only need a little. Like a mustard seed little.” She gently said back.

I had half braced myself for a Spiritual spanking on the hand, but Faith just patted my shoulder and said, “You’ve got the boxes and that’s a little bit of faith. You’ve got the boxes.”

With faith a paradox is created: not seeing is believing. I couldn’t see myself moving, couldn’t see myself in a new home, but I had just enough faith to gather the boxes. And then I had just enough to pack them. Those baby steps of faith turned into larger steps.

Sometimes I think I need to have it all, I felt that way about that move. I thought I needed all the faith from start to finish. But what I learned was that I just needed enough to take the next baby step. In trusting in the small, the King would help me to trust in the big.

Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen….By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.… Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:1, 3, 6 NASB

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My Story, His Glory

by Guest author Hope Hill (Re-printed with permission.)

A little over 3 weeks ago I noticed a gray cloud forming and moving across my left eye. One thing you need to know about me is that I am not a person who runs to the worst case scenario. I don’t go to the doctor on a regular basis (sorry mom). But all of that is because aside from the occasional cold or filling I have never been really sick. The blessing of health for someone like me is often overlooked and not appreciated until something happens. So I did what you are not supposed to do….I googled it. And all of my worst fears came true. I was reading about retinal detachment, permanent blindness and other eye-threatening issues when fear started to rush over me.  I noticed that I was fitting nicely into all of the right categories for a major eye problem.

The next day I phoned my optometrist to schedule an emergency appointment because a wise man once told me to never wait if there is an eye problem. As I walked in I started to explain my issue to the doctor. She took some tests, and I waited. I then waited a little longer. And even longer. Until finally the doctor came in and touched my shoulder. Uh-oh – this isn’t starting out great. She proceeded to tell me that it looked like a retinal detachment but I would have to see a specialist to determine the intensity of the issue. My worst fear in this situation came true. I was going to have to have emergency eye surgery that day. WebMD – 1   Hope – 0

Then came the tears. A bunch of tears. After 3 more hours of seeing different doctors to figure out just what kind of surgery was awaiting me, it was time. I was having a full-blown Vitrectomy. I will spare you the details of the surgery because that is definitely not the point of the story and super gross. What is important to know right now is that I have a gas bubble implanted in my eye. For 10 days I had to keep my nose pointed to the ground and sleep on my right side, so that gravity will use that bubble to hold my retina in place. If you do not do this properly the gas bubble can damage your eye and could cause blindness.

The medical term for my state (looking down) is called posturing. The word posturing suddenly captured my attention. I knew I had read it in the Bible, but I just couldn’t remember where. So two weeks later when I was allowed to sit up, I began my research of the word “posturing”.  I found many Biblical references to the posture of prayer. Abraham fell upon his face before God. (See Genesis 17:3, 17.) Moses prayed with his hands outstretched. (See Exodus 9:27–29.) King Solomon knelt in prayer. (See I Kings 8:54.) Jesus prayed looking up into heaven. (See Mark 6:41, John 11:41, and 17:1.)

Communication with God does not require a certain physical position, but postures do give expression to the attitudes of our hearts. Wow! What has the attitude of my heart been? Well, I didn’t know the answer to that question right away so I decided to sit in silence, face down, for one hour to hear from God. ONE HOUR, PEOPLE! First of all it is hard for a busy body like myself to be confined to the house, facing down, listening to podcasts. But now the Holy Spirit wants me to be quiet for one hour.

After many mental lists were made (ladies know what I mean) I began to really be still. As I began to listen a thought popped in my head to read the story about Jesus visiting with Mary and Martha. So I scrambled to my Bible app to read the story.

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Woah. I am a Martha. As a ministry assistant my entire time is spent running around preparing for events, meetings, etc. And even though all of those things are great and needed, I can’t let the preparation distract me from sitting at His feet. So is it a coincidence that I had a surgery that forces me to posture myself? Is it a coincidence that I am unable to be at work, events, and meetings? No, God is not a coincidence. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things together. It is important for us to sit at His feet each day and get a fresh word from Him. God sees and knows what we are going through. He wants to remind us that in whatever situation, He is there, and He wants to be exalted. Every impossible situation is a perfect opportunity for Him to display His power and magnify Himself.

All of this sounds really good when you are not blind in one eye. Even though I heard that awesome Word from the Lord, I was still upset that I had to go through this process. Not because I think I am above it, but because I know He is bigger than it. I wanted God to heal me before the surgery, take away the pain and discomfort and show up big in the situation. But it was at that moment I failed to understand that the greatest expression of our mission can be born out of the deepest pain. It’s the same way that a crucifixion was necessary to bring eternal hope – to transform sin and death into life and liberty. The same way this trial was necessary to transform my life and my ministry. My question to you is what has been your blindness, your darkest hour? Have you allowed God to transform it into the victory and the calling that He intends for you?

I encourage you not to waste a single heartache but to seek for God’s plan in the middle of it. He doesn’t let us suffer needlessly. And your suffering may be the catalyst to what is next!

“For we live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

Hope Hill – https://hopehill828.wordpress.com