Sarah’s Story Part 1—Abraham’s News

Sarah’s story didn’t look very promising from the beginning—at least from the perspective of natural circumstances. The first mention of her in the Bible describes her as Abram’s wife, Sarai, who is barren and has no children.[1] (Eventually God changed both Abram and Sarai’s names to Abraham and Sarah.) When her husband’s brother, Haran died, Abram’s father took his family from Ur of the Chaldeans where Abram and Sarah grew up and traveled toward Canaan, but stopped short of their journey and settled in Haran where they lived until Abram’s father died.

Here’s where things get interesting. Sarah and Abraham’s family worshipped other gods, yet the Almighty God spoke Abraham and asked him to leave everything familiar to him and Sarah—their country, their extended family and the friends they did life with every day—and go to a land they had never seen.

The Lord said to Abram: Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you. I will bless you and make your descendants into a great nation. You will become famous and be a blessing to others. I will bless anyone who blesses you, but I will put a curse on anyone who puts a curse on you. Everyone on earth will be blessed because of you. Genesis 12:1-3 CEV

I can just imagine God saying, “Pack your family, tents, and all your belongings and start walking. I’m going to show you this great land. If you do this, I am going to make you into a great nation. I’ll make your name great. If you follow me I will bless you, and bless everyone who blesses you.”

Now imagine Sarah’s response. Abraham comes in and tells her the Only True God promised him a blessing—a promise to become a nation, and all they have to do is go to a land God will show him. I can’t help but think she said what she thought. Maybe she told Abraham,, “Well, how’s God going to do that? I’m barren. Everyone knows I’m barren. We’ve been married for years and tried to start a family without success.” And if she did believe, it’s highly likely she imagined different scenarios of just how God would do such things.

Perhaps she struggled with the grief of leaving everything familiar. I’m sure she had lots of questions. How far is it to this place God is going to show us? When will we get there? I won’t know a single person. What if the people are unfriendly, violent and savage? On the other hand, maybe she embraced this new directive  with excitement and expectation.

How might you feel if God called your family to leave everything familiar and travel to a place you have never been? Have you experienced times in your own life when you struggled to believe God’s promises belonged to you?

[1] Hebrews 11:29-30


The Floodgates of Hope

God has given us many promises for this life. Think of a dam that holds water back from a city. The city needs water but the water levels are monitored and the water is released at the most opportune time. Few people know when the floodgates will open and release the water. Now think about a particular promise you hold in your heart. You trust God for the promise to come, but you don’t know exactly when you’ll receive it.

Five hours after our youngest son was born, doctors informed us he was deathly ill and gave him a 50/50 chance of survival. My husband, Blaine overheard the nurse who admitted our baby into the NICU tell another nurse when she came in the next day, “I’m surprised the Gregor baby is still here. I didn’t expect him to make it through the night.”

Each time the doctors tried to tell me my baby wouldn’t make it, I couldn’t process it.

I think they thought I was crazy.

What they didn’t know is that I had been on bed rest most of the time with my firstborn, and he came five weeks early. So, when we decided to have another child, I put my trust in God and believed for a healthy pregnancy, and he delivered. So, once our second son was out of the womb, I couldn’t believe the doctor’s report. I knew in my heart of hearts he would survive.

Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses] (Hebrews 1:1 AMP).

The doctors came to us each day for four days with little to no hope. Our baby was on complete life support. My only hope rested in God’s intervention. God gave us His Word. He spoke a scripture into my heart and into Blaine’s on separate occasions—He will live and not die and declare the works of the Lord (Psalm 118:17).  Did I have moments of doubt? Yes! Did I struggle to hold on to hope at times? Yes.

After four days, our baby opened his eyes, and the doctors were optimistic. At seven days old, he no longer required life support but still needed a little help from the oxygen tank. The doctors admitted to us he was, “definitely one for the record books.” We held tight to that promise, trusting God would eventually open the floodgates of hope and completely restore our child–and He did. We took our completely healthy baby home when he was 12 days old. Our son is an adult today with no lasting affects from his traumatic first days of life in the NICU.

Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all… As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.

The Sky Kissed the Sea

My husband, Blaine and I took advantage of the beautiful sunrise and sunsets every morning and evening during a special vacation on the Florida beaches. The gulf coast waters are my most favorite of places. The sands always sooth my heart. Those particular beaches are the places where I find the most peace and rest.

One evening the sky hung low with clouds that threatened to open up at any moment and drench us with a cold shower. We risked getting caught in the downpour for a chance to see the wonders of the low tide—a pelican scooping up his evening meal, a sand dollar that survived the crushing waves, crabs running here and there—thinking they were hidden under the safety of the water.

After walking for more than half an hour down the beach, the rain clouds made good on their promise. We had no place to run. We braced ourselves to endure the cool water.

The sky opened up and kissed the sea.

Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed (PSALM 85:10 NLT).

Delighted, we found ourselves caught in the middle. We stood for a moment and breathed in a sweet peace. In that sliver of time we were unaware of the cold sprinkles, then suddenly they pricked our skin. We laughed as we both turned to hurry back down the beach toward our condo.

“There’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.”

Moving the Mountain Inside of Us!

I have heard the messages most of my life of mountain-moving faith. You may be even more familiar than I am of Jesus’ words in Mark: I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt in his heart [in God’s unlimited power], but believes that what he says is going to take place, it will be done for him [in accordance with God’s will].[1]

So the other day, I’m thinking about Jesus’ words here. I’m thinking about the mountains that tested my faith and I saw thrown into the sea. Blaine and I experienced some big mountains in the first five years of our marriage. Only by faith in God and a lot of work, we overcame those relationship obstacles and built a strong marriage. I experienced many challenges with my first pregnancy including an inability to gain weight at first, anemia and preterm labor (which resulted in bedrest) and premature delivery. I delivered our second son full term with a very healthy pregnancy only to begin a fight for his life just five hours after I delivered him. Each time God proved faithful—and the mountain eventually went into the sea!

I’ve always thought about the external mountains—those external forces that reside outside of us. This time as I thought about this verse just this past week, a new question popped into my head. What about the mountains on the inside of us?

We all have stuff. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be human. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, but our experiences shape us, whether we want them to or not. Those deep hurts and pains can become emotional mountains in our minds. Oh, we try to hide the hurts, to press down the pain, to ignore the wounds and to replace the losses—but they remain. When we least expect it, they come forward, much like a volcanic mountain rises up over time with each small eruption.

So, what do we do? We look to Jesus’ words again and realize that even the mountain inside of you has to move when you speak to it and believe.

One thing I’ve learned is you don’t have to take the mountain alone. Not only do you have Jesus’ word, his promise, but you have all of heaven backing you up—cheering you on. You also have other believers who will stand with you, agree with you and encourage you.

What external mountains are you facing today!  Please share your comments. I’d love to hear from you.

[1] AMP

Pioneering Faith

No matter how many times we’ve believed God and experienced the results of our faith, there is always a fight to stand firm in the next challenge. I don’t just set my heart and mind on something generic, I imagine what it will look like when the answer comes. I set my expectations high. I think about what it could look like, feel like and taste like. I imagine where we’ll go and what we’ll do as we begin to move forward in obedience to God’s plans.

The challenge is I can get ahead of God. I allow expectations—a picture to develop in my mind that I’ve created, and eventually I discover it’s not even close to the image of what God wants that particular thing to look like.

That brings about a crisis of belief. Did God really say we are supposed to move to another state? While we knew the answer as we began to journey forward, doubt creeps in at the first obstacle. We have this crazy idea that God’s going to come in with his bulldozer and go ahead of us, giving us a clear path, when in fact, He’s actually called us to blaze the trail.

Think of the pioneers of the Wild West. They traveled over rough country. They had no roads laid out before them. They were fortunate to have a path of travelers that have gone ahead to follow. They had to do all the firsts. They made the road; they dug the well and the outhouse.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4 ESV).

When God asks you to move, it usually involves putting your faith muscles (and natural muscles) to work. I want to think it’s going to be easy—and every once in awhile—it is! But usually, as a pioneer of faith, it means starting from scratch and building something.

So, when you don’t see the results of your faith produce in the way you imagined, take a deep breath and let it go. (Can you tell I’m taking a deep breath now?) I believe God has my best interest at heart. He has something that looks different—and it’s better than I imagined. It’s exactly what I need, even if it’s not what I thought I wanted—or not in the timing I expected.

Ruth’s Reward – God-given Friendships

The relationship between Ruth and Naomi has always amazed me. Naomi was so overwhelmed with grief in the death of her husband and sons that she changed her name. Her given name, Naomi, means pleasant, but she no longer felt worthy of that name. She asked her friends to call her, Mara, which means bitterness (Ruth 1:20). That puts a whole new light on Ruth’s determination and commitment to stay with her mother-in-law. She chose to love and support a bitter woman, who possibly felt angry toward God. No doubt she was suffering a crisis of faith when Naomi decided to stay with her.

I want to imagine when times were good for Naomi’s family living in Moab, Ruth saw something in Naomi—something to believe in—that carried her in the touch times and caused her to make the decision to stay with Naomi. Perhaps at some point Ruth witnessed a strong faith in the God Naomi now was angry with.

What about Ruth’s own grief? She had lost a husband, a father- and brother-in-law. She’d lost security that came with her status as a married woman. Yet, the story is about Naomi’s grief, crisis of faith, and Ruth’s decision to follow her.

Ruth walked with Naomi when she decided to be Mara. Eventually God provided for Naomi, restored her faith and family and used Naomi to do it. Two women who needed one another and held on to each other long enough to see God perform His promise . Ruth’s reward for her love and faithfulness brought her a second husband and a son, and eventually the Messiah was born through Ruth’s linage.

Where will a God-given friendship take you? Are you willing to endure with unconditional love to see God’s plan come forth?

Your App for Spiritual Navigation

Anyone who knows me, knows I am really challenged with directions. I have no natural sense as to which way is up or down (north or south). Before navigational apps, I called my husband to help me when I found myself in a place other than where I should have been.

The navigational app on your phone gives you a clear picture of where you’re going, and I’m very thankful for it.

Have you ever considered how prayer can serve as a spiritual navigational app for life. Spending time with God in prayer opens your heart to receive the route wants you to take.

The things you do each day can often have a ripple effect in your life. You make a lot of decisions every day. Some of them are little—like what to have for lunch, when to do your homework, or what games to play and with whom. But sometimes your decisions—good or bad—define consequences tonight, tomorrow, and for the rest of your life. I’ve found it’s important to be in the right place at the right time in order to serve Him and fulfill His purpose for for my life.

You can be sure God hears you when you pray. Sometimes the answer doesn’t come right away, but He is at work behind the scenes bringing answers you need so you know where to go or what action to take. In Daniel 9, Daniel wondered why God had not answered his prayer for  many days. When God finally responded, he said, When you first started praying, an answer was given, and I came to tell you, because God loves you very much. So think about the message and understand the vision (Daniel 9:23 NCV).

Prayer can guide you toward the right decisions that keep you on the right course for your life. Choose to spend time in prayer every day.