For a week and a half, I’ve had this one scripture on my mind. I really thought it was what I was supposed to write about but while reading tonight, God put a different message in my heart. So, let’s talk about Jesus feeding the 5,000. I’m sure some of you reading this are already having a difficult time thinking about Jesus taking five loaves of bread and two fish from a little boy and feeding 5,000 people. I’ll admit, that is a lot of hungry mouths. It makes me cringe to think of feeding my 20 or so people at Thanksgiving each year. In our human minds, it seems nearly impossible. Some want to argue that events like this one are merely symbolic for some greater meaning because they can’t possibly fathom it actually happening. Others use events like this to discredit the bible completely, you know, since it doesn’t seem plausible and therefore isn’t. Me? I choose to read the bible and believe exactly what it says. If it says Jesus fed 5,000 people then I believe that was one happy, and full, crowd. Who am I to put a limit on what is possible for the Almighty God? I mean, I can’t even remember to put the clothes in the washer into the dryer. I’m in no place to put a limit on my Creator. In my humble opinion I think it is us humans who put a limit on what God will do in our lives. We exist on choice. We have a choice to believe in Jesus Christ, Buddha, Allah, or nothing at all. We have a choice to believe what God is capable of, or is not capable of, and we have a choice to exercise faith. As I used to tell my students, and still tell my own children, while we are free to choose, we are not free from the consequences of our choices. So, if I “put God in a box” so to speak, and don’t allow him to move freely and miraculously in my life, I will live with the less-than-miraculous consequences. I know and speak with experience because I have been guilty of stifling God and his mighty power and I have freely enjoyed the benefits of wholly believing in his goodness, faithfulness and merciful nature. Let me just tell you a little about what God has done for me.
There are a million and one small things I could tell you about that have happened over the years, mine and Nick’s salvation for example (because I’ll be honest, we used to enjoy being the last ones to leave the bar) but I’m going to try to condense it down to a few of my favorite moments with God that were nothing short of divine intervention.
About a year after our middle child was born I found myself surrounded in darkness at every turn and completely overwhelmed in one of the scariest situations in my life. I have never, even to this day, talked about it with anyone but God. It’s deeply personal to me and it’s only because I feel led to share with someone who might need to hear that there is a way out of the condemnation and fear that I am even discussing it now. I can’t describe the feelings that overcame me but it was as if I had the blackest, darkest spirits in hell smothering me and I was consumed with an unwelcome fear and dread. It was much worse than what I would describe as depression and yet not suicidal, although I did find myself consumed with death and dying. It’s hard to even type that from where I stand today. I had been pressing in closer to Jesus and was maturing as a Christian but yet here I was, with these feelings. I heard Joyce Meyer say one day, “new level, new devil” and I immediately knew I was under a spiritual attack. (ha! I know some of you science-y people are reading this and thinking, ‘no, you were depressed’ but I’m telling you it was much deeper than that). I did what the bible instructs us to do. I fasted and prayed. I gave up food completely for two days and prayed that God would lift this feeling from me. Each time I would be struck with fear or dread, i would sing whatever hymnal came to mind and praise the Lord without ceasing. When Wednesday night finally came around, I ran to the alter to be prayed for. My bible tells me to let the elders of the church pray and anoint you with oil and that is just what I did. I even remember what i was wearing. As soon as my pastor laid hands on me, I fell to the floor, slain in the spirit. Now, I know I’ve probably got some eye-brow raising but that’s okay. I’m here to tell you that spirit of darkness broke off of me and I was delivered completely from it. Never again did I feel, nor have I felt, that dreadful and consuming spirit. Chris Tomlin sings a song that says, “my chains are gone, i’ve been set free, my God my savior has rescued me…” well, that is what happened to me on that day. My fear was replaced with the joy of the Lord. Testimony 1.
Fast forward a few years and Nick and I made a series of decisions without consulting God. We up and moved to Tennessee. Nick was traveling all the time, I had no friends, no family and three small babies. Every church we went to was as dead as a door nail. Ugh. After a few months, I convinced Nick that we would all be happier if we moved back home to our family and our church. Because he is awesome, he agreed. We rented the house in Tennessee for a year, not quite sure we didn’t want to keep it. Ultimately we decided we were going to put it up for sale and buy a house in Kentucky. We fasted, again, and prayed before we put it on the market. We knew it would be a long shot since it was in an up-and-coming community that a buyer could custom build a house in. Eight days after being put on the market, a buyer bought it with CASH. Just like that. Testimony 2.
Three years ago, I began having blurred, cloudy vision. I would be in a room and it would appear as if everything in the room was foggy, only no one else saw it. This got me concerned so I went to the eye doctor. The eye doctor did some tests and told me I had significant optical nerve damage and was on the fast track to having full-blown glaucoma. He began aggressively treating it but cautioned me to educate myself on it because there was no cure. I’d be lying if I said this news didn’t rock me to my core. Once I realized that glaucoma ultimately leads to blindness, I couldn’t look at my babies without sobbing. I mean I cried ugly cries for like a week. I know it doesn’t always lead to blindness but in my mind, I was going to go blind. I was reading my bible and found a scripture in Acts that spoke directly to my heart. Peter was going up to the gate called Beautiful and a lame beggar was asking for money. Peter says, “silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” The scripture moved me so much that I claimed it as my own. When I was afraid, i would hold my hand over my eyes and repeat the scripture except I would say, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I can see.” I made an appointment with a glaucoma specialist and you guessed it: fasted and prayed. For three weeks, I claimed healing over my eye through that scripture and prayer. I happen to believe that the bible is a living document that I can freely use for my life at the expense of Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection. And for that, I am so thankful. I also went and was prayed for by my pastor and other’s in my church and was slain in the spirit for the only other time to date. I believe I received a full healing at that moment. Nick was out of town so I took my mom to the eye doctor with me. He ran all the same tests that the previous doctor has used but he couldn’t understand why I was there. He looked at me and said that I had, ‘textbook perfect’ eyes and no sign of glaucoma. I wept and explained to him what had happened. He looked at me like I had antlers growing out of my forehead as I told him of my miracle but I told him, nonetheless. I told the ladies at the checkout, I told my barista at Starbucks, I told anyone and everyone who would listen. My eyes were healed because I made a choice to stand FIRM on the word of God. I did not put a limit on what God could do and he proved limitless, just like always. Testimony 3.
Okay, last one. I promise. As many of you know, I was not very content my last year of work. I loved my co-workers and my students but I was exhausted and felt guilty for how little I had leftover to give my husband and kiddos. I guess you could say I was emotionally spent. I remember thinking, Lord, this can’t be what you mean when you say you want us to be filled with joy. The life I was living was hurried and mentally exhausting, I was cranky and worn out. In November we began praying that God would make a way for me to stay home if that was in his will for our lives. We had some land in Jeffersonville that we didn’t really need so we decided to put it up for sale. We didn’t need to sell it so it was kind of one of those go-big-or-go-home situations with the price. I remember standing in my classroom on the last day of school thinking, “okay, Lord, my mission field is at school and this is where you must want me” when the realtor called. A couple from Colorado had bought it for FULL ASKING price. They thought it was a bargain because land in CO is so expensive. Huh. I hurried and typed up my resignation and that was that. Well, when Nick and I sat down to re-work the budget for one income, we couldn’t believe what we found. We used the profit to pay off some big bills and when we added up our monthly saving from the debt elimination, it equaled my salary after taxes right down to the dollar!!! Now, go ahead naysayer and tell me that wasn’t a God thing. Testimony 4.
God is good, ya’ll. Don’t put him on a shelf or limit what he can do in your life. I told you all these things not to highlight me and what I did (because let me tell you, for every one thing I do right, I do about 10 wrong so yeah…) but to show you what God can and will do when you stand on his word and have faith that he can do what he says he can do. Nick and I definitely don’t deserve any of the things he has done for us because we are sinful and faulted, but we trust God to do what his word says he will. That is literally all it takes. And the t-shirts are right, ya’ll do need Jesus.
Matthew 7:7 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you.