My Life’s A Paradox?

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I’m coming to the end of a book study entitled, ‘The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows’.  One of the questions asked is, “In your own life, have you experienced the paradox that weakness and vulnerability allows Christ to shine most clearly?”

YES!

My struggle is learning how to rest, especially when most everyone around me insists that I do or be something that will make them feel better.  It’s been said to me, “We just want to know you’re ok so that we can move on.”

I’m now aware that these pressures have caused me to fight against God and His attempts to teach me that it’s completely ok to rest at His feet.  We are often critical of Martha’s busyness and praise Mary as she sits at Jesus’ feet,* but then we turn to those around us and demand that they need to be doing something more.  Once they start doing more we then ask them, what’s next?  More is never enough.

Abide, to rest and rely on Jesus, in who He is and not in what we do.

In May 2012, I went back to speak in the town where my husband, Warren, was killed.  I stood on the platform, but before I could speak a word the people stood to their feet and honored me with applause.  I cried.

Six years prior to this speaking date, my whole life was stripped from me in a matter of seconds, (Click here for Testimony).  Over the years I have wrestled through the loss of my husband and my career.  I’ve talked with the press, I’ve fought a corrupt legal system, and I’ve felt the blow of people who told me I was letting God and Warren down by not keeping our ministry team, The Parker Trio, on the road.

In addition, many people told me “you will be great when…”, and then they gave me their ideas of what they felt would bring value to me and an adequate reason for Warren’s death.

There I stood six years later, not doing all that some thought I would do, and it left me feeling not so great for not measuring up to their expectations.  To say that I was humbled by the people of South Carolina who so sweetly honored me is an understatement.  In all of the messiness of the court hearings, the media, and the grief, I was unable to fully recognize those who had been quietly and prayerfully walking this journey with me.

That weekend in May, God began to open my eyes.  He took me back so that I could see forward.  God wastes nothing.  As a friend of mine, Joseph Watson, so beautifully pointed out, “Whenever we find closure from something major in our life, it translates into opening doors for others around us.”  Many of you reading this blog have been tenderly watching me walk through a dark valley, and for this reason I want to openly and honestly share all that God is teaching me.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony…”  – Rev. 12:11

Wax On, Wax Off!

I still feel a lot like the Karate Kid in training as he questioned the purpose of the “Wax on, wax off” exercise, but I know now that God’s purpose will be revealed in His time like it was that weekend in SC.  After each service, people shared with me their personal stories and how they found strength to forgive.  They witnessed my willingness to let God reign over my darkest season.  I had two men speak with me that Sunday to tell me they hadn’t forgiven the man who killed my husband, but because I was willing to release him then they would also.  To God be all glory!  So many times I have felt worthless as I walked the tiresome and lonely path through the valley of the shadow of death.  Now I stand amazed at the way God has been working the entire time.   I do not need to feel guilty for the season of solitude God has me in with Him.  I mustn’t waste my energy fighting Him but embrace the season of rest.  Like Elijah, I need to rest and “eat for the journey is too great”*.  I need to allow God to quiet me so He can teach me all that I will need for each new journey ahead.

“He takes that which is broken and mends it by His grace, and He reaches out to others through those places where His grace is most visible in us.” – The Good and Beautiful God, page 165

God truly is transforming me.  People meant well when they came to me with their suggestions and I took their thoughts as caring.  Warren’s life and death are a part of my story which needs to be told, but it is not all of my story.  I am who I am because of God living and breathing in me, for all of my life’s events, from my birth until now, until the day of my death.  I must not let my, and other people’s, feelings cocoon me in a specific event in time.  I must allow God to walk me through each past memory and present emotion, so that I can be ready to embrace every new adventure He has planned for me.  Seasons do change and new will come!

My glory is not in what I do but in whose I am – one in whom Christ dwells.  I am His.  I am accepted.  I am enough.

I don’t know if my life is a paradox, but God certainly does call me to do things that go against all logic, things that are out of the box, yet in time His path makes complete sense.

“Most of all, I want to thank my Redeemer and Saviour, Jesus Christ.   Thank You for choosing me and reminding me that You are in control of every situation.” – Warren Parker, Written homecoming day, Jan. 7 ’06

Now it’s your turn.  In your life, or in the life of someone else, have you experienced the paradox that weakness and vulnerability allows Christ to shine most clearly?

~Shannan

Walking Forward Victorious and Loving Deeper, 2013!

“If he’s not Lord of our past, then he cannot be Lord of our future.  We never know how many people will find freedom whenever we do.” – Joseph Watson ,Youth With A Mission.

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* Luke 10:38-42 * 1 Kings 19:5-8 * 1 Kings 19:19-21

There’s Only One Word For This!

I had no words, so I asked the Holy Spirit how I should pray.

I have so many people on my heart for various reasons, and I’ve come to a loss for words when I pray for them.  As I asked for this wisdom I was reminded of the most powerful prayer we can pray.  I was reminded where it is that we find everything we need and where all that we long for is discovered.  One word came to my mind to offer on behalf of my friends – “Jesus”!  This is all the Spirit spoke to my heart, and He is more than enough.  This is where restoration not only begins but where it is complete.

A Broken Heart – JESUS!

A Broken Home – JESUS!

Financial Issues – JESUS!

In Sickness – JESUS!

In Loneliness – JESUS!

In Need Of Forgiveness – JESUS!

In The Valley Of The Shadow Of  Death – JESUS!

In The Valley Of Depression – JESUS!

I offered no other words, but as I spoke His name over each person that came to mind all the trials of this world suddenly became powerless.

Throughout my childhood and into the beginning years of my marriage, I struggled with the words “thank you” and “I love you”.  I was full of gratitude and loved deeply, but when words are rarely heard, they can feel like a foreign language rolling off your own tongue.  I remedied this problem by putting into practice a very simple solution, I started saying them.  As silly as it sounds now, it wasn’t easy for me to speak these words at first, but the more I did the easier they became.  Now I value every moment I have to sincerely express these emotions.

About six months ago I realized how rare it was for me to say the name of Jesus.  I talked about God and had no problem with referring to Jesus as Lord, but to say His name was more rare than common.  I sang gospel songs for years that used His name, but to actually speak the name of the One that I call friend did not come easily.  With my new awareness I had to ask myself , Why don’t I say His name?  Why is it so uncomfortable for me to do?

I don’t know that I have one good reason to give you in answer to my self-imposed questions, with the exception of my previous childhood example.  So, I drew from the lesson I learned with those most precious words of “thank you” and “I love you”, and I applied the same prescription to solve this newly discovered language barrier – I started saying His name.

Having my tongue tied up in knots and unable to breathe His name out loud, as I would with any of my other friends, kept me from so many blessings and freedoms.  When I say “blessings”, I’m not at all implying Jesus to be likened to a genie in a bottle, that when called on He gives us all the earthly toys we want.  No, He’s a much better father than that.  The sweetest blessings to me are seeing a prayer answered for a hurting friend, or witnessing a lost soul meet Jesus and come to know that they are worth far more than their social status or job title.  This freedom can only come one way, at the name of Jesus.

“For this reason, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed upon Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11

When we are a part of God’s family, it isn’t bondage that makes us bow our knees, but the joy of our freedom in Christ.  I get more and more excited as I think on this topic and discuss it with friends.  Will you allow me to elaborate on my thoughts for just a moment?

The scripture states that, “every knee will bow…and every tongue will confess…”  I don’t know about you, but I always read this scripture with the mindset that this is a futuristic happening.  My mind heard it as, “When Jesus returns at the end of time, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.”  But that’s not what it says!  It says that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – PERIOD.  This excites me because I realize that now, at this very moment, there are knees bowing as I speak His name.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  -Eph. 6:12

If we are wrestling here and now then we need now power.  What is our now power?  Jesus!

““Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.  And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it (Again, it’s in the now, not just somewhere in the future).”  -John 14:12-14

If we are going to do greater works than Jesus did, then we must recognize how that’s even possible.  How can I have faith to be victorious if I don’t know where faith begins?  Just think, when we speak His name, all that we are wrestling in the spiritual world must bow and submit to the authority of Christ.

Many have given me the humbling compliment of “You’re Strong.”  My strength is knowing that my strength is only because of Christ in me.  I am not “strong” by my own merit.  I’m lost without Him.  I’m too tired without Him.  I’m too broken by this world without Him.  But JESUS!!!  He is my energy to press on.  He is my wholeness.  In Him alone I am found!

My Peace – Jesus!

My Hope – Jesus!

My Joy – Jesus!

My Healing – Jesus!

My Ability To Forgive – Jesus!

My Ability To Trust – Jesus!

My Ability To Love – Jesus!

On The Mountaintop of success – JESUS!

Anything Good In Me – JESUS!

My Source Of Strength…

“Darkness knows its Lord and the prince of darkness is not its lord.” – Pastor Austin Cagle

JESUS!!!

They Bow Down.

~Shannan

2011, Keeping It Real!