Life Beyond The Valley of The Shadow.

Restores

“He restores my soul…” – Psalm 23:3

This life is a series of mountains and valleys, and those valleys cause me to pray with intensity, “God, I need You to keep my heart alive!”

“The Lord is my Shepherd.”

I’ve had their books sitting on my desk for a quite awhile now, just waiting for the moment I knew I was to begin reading them.  My dear friends in ministry, Chris and Rahnella Adsit, have an amazing ministry to those wounded by war.  Here’s a partial quote from one of their writings that rings true in the heart of this lamb, so desperate to be led by her Shepherd.

“I will not let this journey be the end of my joy.  Satan’s lie is that.. (I, you, we) will never get out of this darkness, that.. (our) new, permanent address is the valley of the shadow of… (fill in your struggle).  God’s word tells us the opposite.  His word says we are traveling through the valley, not building our homes there.”

It’s human nature to go into hiding and self-protection in times of fear and great trauma, and we are sheep in need of a Shepherd.  If left on our own we will run blindly into the mouth of a wolf, or we will fall down with no ability to get back up.  We must remember, as heirs to Christ’s kingdom, we have our Shepherd who comes to our rescue, both from the wolves and from our own failings.

“Even Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

Nebuchadnezzar was a ruthless and blood-thirsty king.  He held all the power and possessions this world could offer, but one day he found himself far from the kingdom he built.  He became like one of the beast in his fields, eating grass, dirty with earth, his hair covering his body, and his nails like that of a wild bird.  Physical trauma is one thing, but can you image the trauma to his mind?  He went from palace ruler to being ruled by wilderness beasts.

Then, this beast-like creature lifted his eyes toward heaven.  His understanding returned to him, and he gave praise and honor to the Most High.  The glory of his kingdom and his honor was returned to him.  King Nebuchadnezzar declared God’s works true and His ways just.  He was wounded by his personal war, but now was able to proclaimed, “I was restored.”

The Shepherd allowed this king to taste the wilderness for a moment, but He did not allow it to devour him.  If anyone deserved to be devoured during that time it was King Nebuchadnezzar, but God is able to redeem from the vilest of valleys, even those valleys that are self-made.  Like that king, we must be willing to look up and give praise to the only One who can redeem us.   If we will keep “traveling through” and not choose to “build our homes there,” we too will be able to proclaim, “I was restored.” 

Our past is a part of our testimony but it does not have to become our identity.  There is life beyond the valley of the shadow.

“He restores my soul.”

Will you let The Great Shepherd rescue you?

Will you let God keep your heart alive as you walk through this life’s journey?

~Shannan
Finding diamonds in the trials!
 
*Quote from, When War Comes Home, Christ-centered healing for wives of combat veterans, ( ) Shannan’s words.
*Story of King Nebuchadnezzar found in Daniel 1-4

The President’s Speech – 2014

http://www.foxnews.com/live-coverage/2014-state-union-address

STATE OF THE UNION

I am burdened to hear how so many chose to purposefully tune out from the President’s speech last night, simply because they don’t want to deal anymore.  To turn off, tune out, and don’t look, does not mean that it, whatever the “it” is, does not exist.

When I go to the doctor and have to have a needle stuck in my body, I cannot look at it.  To look or not to look, the reality of the needle still remains.  I’m still going to feel the sting of it.  A needle is uncomfortable, but if I refuse it now I may feel a much deeper pain later by not finding out what information that small sting will expose.  By facing the needle now, the lessor sting, I may spare myself from a deadly outcome later.

IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS

&

for the professing Christian, it’s not Christlike.

God is not uninterested in what’s happening in our government.  He calls us to pray for those in leadership and to fight for what is right.  We cannot do this if we refuse to engage and learn in what’s going on in the world around us.  With that being said let me make myself very clear here, I am fully against any form of ignorant hateful banter or off-color jokes from either side.  So please, let’s think before we speak.  Am I one of the so called “uptight”?  Possibly, but I have never felt so compelled and burdened to pray for our nation as I do now.  There’s a silent war happening, and because it’s silent were not losing our freedom we’re giving it away.

“So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation… that’s what I’m going to do.”*  In my opinion, there should have been no applause from either party at this comment.

To turn off, tune out, and don’t look, does not mean that it does not exist.  Try this mindset on for size with your child as they’re about to run out into the street, and see what happens.  That’s right!  What a crazy thought!  The same will happen to our great nation if we continue not to engage.  I am proud to be an American, but I refuse to be so arrogant to think that we are above a great fall.

To think that what’s happening in the middle east cannot happen here is pure arrogance.  After all, King Nebuchadnezzar, Sodom and Gomorrah, the great indestructible city of Tyre thought the same.

Ignorance and arrogance are never bliss.

Please hear me when I say, I’m also not for living in fear.  God is my source not the government.  That does not mean I live in a world of make-believe where all the things that bore me, confuse me, or simply rock my happy boat can be ignored.

This is not written to convince someone of which party to support.  I have red and blue friends.  This is written in hopes that more will choose to pay attention and engage in listening and learning, and then get out and vote.  If you don’t, then you do not have a right to voice an opinion when things don’t go the way you think they should.

Just some thoughts and opinions of this free American.

~Shannan

PS.  I want to say thank you to all of our soldiers, both home and abroad, who fight for our freedom.  I have not forgotten that this freedom has come at a great price.  I am grateful, and I pray for you.  You are the true leaders of this nation.  THANK YOU!

* Full comment, “So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”. – President Obama

Are You Ready To Drop Your Fig Leaf?

“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6

There is not a good deed, a job well done, a self-sacrifice, or a self-condemnation that can cover our sin.  There’s not a fig leaf fancy enough that can atone.  It is God alone.  His boundless love for us propels Him to relentlessly pursues us.  He can’t help but to call for us.  Our job, our sacrifice, is to humbly accept His offer of forgiveness and allow Him to restore all that we have forfeited.

He can & He does!

Moses murdered a man.  David had an affair, got the girl pregnant, and then had her husband killed.  King Nebuchadnezzar, of Babylon, was an arrogant and bloodthirsty man.  He liked to watch people burn alive!  Peter walked side-by-side with Jesus, his friend, and still denied Him when things got a little scary.

BUT GOD!

God passionately pursued them all.  When a heart repents and turns from wrong, God restores.  God gives new hearts.

After 40 years of living a quiet hidden life, stripped of all titles, Moses was chosen to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt.  God even allowed Moses to see His glory.  God sheltered Moses in the cleft of a rock, because our physical selves cannot handle the weight of His full majesty, but God still allowed Moses this intimate moment.  He was Moses the murderer, but now he is Moses the forgiven and the redeemed.

There were some tough consequences for David’s sins, but there was also amazing redemption.  When David repented, God continued to bless him with many victories.  David, a mighty king, was named by God with an honorary title, “a man after God’s own heart.”

God loved the wicked King Nebuchadnezzar so much that He stripped him of every earthly blessing, all his social status and his power, to get his focus on what is truth.  Through the storm of losses, God already had a plan in place for Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom to be restored.  After 7 years of eating dirt this earthly king lifted his eyes to heaven, and then his “understanding returned”.

“My reason returned to me…  Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.”  Daniel 4:36-37

Can you see now?  Do you realize that you and I are not so special that God cannot redeem us too?  It’s pure arrogance to think we’re beyond His reach.  But do you also understand just how uniquely valuable we are?

“Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?””  –Genesis 3:9

God came walking in the garden like He did every day.  God already knew the choice that Adam and Eve had made, the choice to ignore His warning, the warning any loving parent would give a child, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,”.  God tried to protect them from harm, but instead they chose to listen to the voice that led them to believe a lie.  Thinking God was holding out on them, they reached for what appeared better than what they already had, and they ate.  Their eyes were opened.  That voice did not tell a complete lie, because now they did understand more than they had before, now they knew the weight of shame.

So often we trade the whole garden for the knowledge of shame.

Shame’s voice always sounds just like the voice that reasoned us away from God in the first place – the voice of the thief.  The thief’s voice also mocks us after we concede to his tempting.  Why does he temp us?  It is his hatred for God not his want for us.  God loves us, so the thief reaches to take from God what God holds so dear – YOU!

BUT GOD!

But God already had a plan in place to free Adam, Eve, and all of us who’ve been tempted and shamed.  The very moment He comes calling, “Where are you?”  He’s ready to show us the way back to fellowship with Him.

“But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Rom. 5:8, (amp)

“Where are you?”

At one tree we picked shame up.  At another tree we can lay shame down.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” ~ Jesus

Are you ready for a new heart?  Are you ready to drop your fig leaf?

Fig Leaf

It doesn’t cover much anyway!

God already knows where you are.  Nothing is hidden from Him.  Love stands waiting for you.  Are you ready to follow the voice of truth?

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” – John 3:17

Jesus left heaven for you!

We’re not so special yet we’re so uniquely valuable.  So let’s drop our fig leafs and come home.

Are you ready yet?  Are you ready to allow God to restore all that’s been forfeited?

~ Shannan

~ A big thank you to my editor, Kimberly Wyse.  I could not be so clear without her.