"Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship"
Recently, I hinted about a new season our family was embarking on; today I want to share some lessons we are learning as we Yield.
In June 2015, my Mother went home to be with the Lord. We had the opportunity to celebrate her life and love surrounded by extended family and friends of various beliefs, all unified by our love for this woman.This event began a time of deep reflection for me. I became greatly aware of Legacy...what am I creating that will outlast me? Am I living a life of honor, vision, and purpose? It was through this time of reflection that our direction began to shift.
As a family, we had been walking through several "FROG" months...a time of "Fully Relying on God". When I say Fully Relying on God, I mean Completely! Within a two week period of time, our housing arrangement and income source ended and our vehicle became irreparable. It was in the midst of this seeming chaos that we felt the Lord ask us if we were willing to Fully Rely on Him. Our immediate response was YES...mostly out of desperation and realization that we had no other real options.
Now, we already knew our Abba Father as loving and good; we were, however, about to deepen our experience of Him as patient and faithful!
It was in the place of seeking God for our next direction that we received the call about my Mother's passing, and in that moment I felt a baton being passed to me. As I prayed and asked Father for peace, I could almost literally see my Mother passing a relay race baton to me; and when I asked what was this, I had an understanding of legacy. Being the oldest daughter in my family, I felt a shift of responsibility in maintaining fortitude of faith...one of my Mother's greatest strengths! With this shift came an endowment and empowerment to carry on. As if her mantle had been passed to me. How humbling and loving...to experience such love! Even as I reflect and type this, I am overwhelmed by such a sweet exchange!
With support from dear friends, we were able to travel to her celebration. To be with my Dad as a support and source of love and encouragement was Priceless! To hold and cherish things that my Mother held and cherished = timeless! And to reflect with my family on valued characteristics = Treasured! Throughout the entire time, I was very aware of God's presence! I could see His hand in Every detail as we were Fully Relying on Him!
As her celebration concluded and we began our drive back to Arizona, Jeff and I took the time to talk about God's goodness and grace. We found vision bubbling out of our mouths and saw a new season on the horizon. Thoughts and ideas were coming out of us that we knew could only be from God because in the natural they made no sense! We saw our family traveling Full-Time, and Ministering to those that are discouraged and disconnected from their source. We also felt empowered to minister from the place of preparation and knowing Father as the only source we ever need. We could see how we were being set up to demonstrate what "FROG" looks like...Ha!
Within a week of our return, we receive a call from a trusted friend asking us to pray about an opportunity she had discovered. She began to describe a need she had come across that she felt we were to be the solution. She described a disabled gentleman that needed some assistance in business and ministry. Everything she shared seemed reasonable, however, being in the place of "FROG", we purposed to pray and scheduled a time to meet with this minister. To my surprise, he was available the following afternoon. (At this point, we'd been FROG for 6+months, so nothing really surprised us anymore...Ha!)
In speaking with him, we learned that he required WAY more care and support than we thought we could offer. However, the exchange of care would address income, housing and transportation needs on our end. Could this be God? We left our first interview overwhelmed with the weight of Fully Relying on God! Isn't that funny, that relying on God felt weighty? I have since learned that truly FROG brings ease, relief, and great peace! But, in that moment, I wasn't sure I could do this even if God was lining it up...as if the creator of the universe was unable to position us.
As I type this, I can clearly see how we had surrendered up to this point but had not yielded! We were MROG = Mostly Relying on God or PROG = Partially Relying on God, but not FROG!! Again, we felt the Lord ask us if were ready and willing to FULLY Rely on Him. Our response, this time, was, Father, if this is your will, then equip and enable us to fulfill all that you are aligning. It was a place beyond surrender (where we can maintain control), our response was from a place of trust...knowing He was more than able! I felt my posture begin to shift.
We had left things with Howard agreeing to pray and meet at his home the following day. Jeff and I awoke the next day, overcome with peace and purpose. Agreeing, by faith, that if this is what God had next for us, He would enable us to fulfill every expectation. Surprisingly, we were in one accord and ready to proceed as Father directed. It was at our scheduled meeting where God completely confirmed His plans in numerous ways. He made things SO obvious that we could not deny His hand in this Divine Appointment, and so with great peace, we agreed to begin the following day.
For reference, Howard is quadriplegic. He cannot move any part of his body below his neck save a few fingers which he uses to drive a power wheelchair. In his great physical limitations, he is a licensed pastor,a non-profit organization CEO, published author and motivational speaker. He weighs 45 pounds and was only expected to live to the age of 5-12, and so now at nearly 44 years old is a living miracle. For more on Howard, you can follow him on social media as well as at howardbell.org.
So, it began. Over one year ago, we agreed to yield to all that God had for us as individuals and a family and FROG!!
I will go back and recount some of the various experiences we've had in the past year, but suffice it to say this has been the most difficult and rewarding thing we've Ever done! Little did we realize that FROG would mean we gave up all our rights...the right to control, the right to be right, etc. In Rom 12:1, when we are urged to present our bodies as a Living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God...I believe another way to say this is to FROG. Interesting, the next verse in Rom 12 reminds us to not conform to this age but to be Transformed by the renewing of our mind. So, dare I suggest that in my experience FROG is not about conformation, but transformation!! As we learn to FULLY Rely on God, we are sure to be transformed from the state of this world/flesh (selfish, etc.) into a place of peacefully considering others as our Father does.
Choosing to care for Howard has given us this opportunity to "Let Go and Let God" in EVERY area of our lives. We see God in our relationships, finances, time, talents, opportunities, "err-where"! We have been faced with the ugliness of surrendered ministry. What? you ask?? Yes, it is possible to surrender in ministry, and yet maintain control of our time, talents, etc. Prior to this experience, I actually thought I was a giving person...other's minded even...WRONG! I had simply adopted some behaviors that sounded good and even sometimes looked good, but was not FROG!
So, throughout the past year, Father has been changing us...rearranging us. I think our son, Tony said it best...(Like and Subscribe to his channel...he's Amazing!!)
As we FROG, I notice the FOG...The Favor of God!
Recently, we were driving to Virginia. It was late and dark, and a Fog rolled in. I was tired and a little scared, if I am being honest. It was then that I was immediately reminded of God's desire and ability to transform us. It is SO like our Father to surround us and envelope us in His presence, especially when things seem dark and we're tired or worn out. It is when we FROG that we experience the FOG!! It is my prayer that we continue to FROG. Likewise, I am in gratitude for the FOG. Join me next time as I share some of the many ways we are experiencing the FOG. God is good. He is Faithful, and His Love NEVER Fails!!