Twist and Turns

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it”

– Hebrews 12:11

 

Do you ever ask, “Why God? Why?!” and then immediately wait for the clouds to separate and for God to bring down the answer? No? Just me? Well, I have done this several times in my lifetime, and never has God answered my questions as quickly as he did one early Friday morning.

A few weeks ago while on an evening run, I lost my balance and rolled my ankle. I was only a few blocks away from home, so I opted to hobble jog all the way back home. Probably, not the most brilliant idea but I didn’t want to alarm my sister. Well, my decision lead me to make my injury worse and therefore I have been on a running sabbatical for three weeks. Now, as you can see from previous blogs, running is my safe haven, it’s the moment where I am “still” before God, it’s my outlet where I go to find clarity. So, it’s been hard.  It hasn’t just been hard because I’ve had to put one of my passions to rest, but it’s been hard to just slow down, sit still, and wait. So one Thursday night, after some reading before bed, I took the time to be honest and sincere with God and asked:

“Father, why?

Why did I have to get injured? Just now, when I am making so much progress? I feel like I am regressing? I don’t understand!

Help me to understand.

Help me to see you in this injury.

Help me to see purpose in this…”

And then I went to bed.

The next day, I woke up a few minutes earlier before my alarm went off. So I decided to start my day early, got dressed for my morning workout, ate my breakfast, and began to read chapter 5 of my Beth Moore study. That day’s lesson was about Jacob and how his name meant “deceit” and it told the story of how he deceived his Father Isaac, received (stole) Esau’s blessing, and Jacob fled from his home in fear of Esau’s retribution. After many years, the LORD asked Jacob to return to his homeland which meant Jacob would be facing Esau soon. Genesis 32: 24-32 depicts the night before Jacob and Esau’s confrontation. After sending out his family and company ahead, Jacob was left alone and wrestled a man all night.

“When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. The he said, ‘Let me go, for the day has broken.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me’ And he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob’ Then he said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed’. Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name’. But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered“  – Genesis 32: 24-30.

On that night, Jacob was permanently injured, yet he received a new identity at the same time that would have never happened if he hadn’t wrestled with God.

In that moment, I saw the answer to my prayer. I heard the verse in the epithet above, Hebrews 12:11,  echo in my mind reminding me that this injury, though not pleasant, will serve a purpose, teach me a valuable lesson, and produce a harvest in time. I realized that in the midst of the recovery process, God is creating something new. He is bringing forth self-control, discipline, and increasing wisdom. He is teaching me the value of being still (literally) and letting patience take its course. He is teaching me to analyze and take a look at my schedule, and consider slowing down. He is teaching me to delight in every moment throughout my day, whether it’s good or bad, happy or sad. Beyond that, He is teaching me the value of friendship and support. I have had some many people speak truth and wisdom into my life, speak comfort into my restless heart, speak peace over my anxious thoughts. He is teaching me to trust the process (the recovery process), that building back up my strength will take time, and it will be a day to day process. And that’s the beauty of it, God has a way of surprising us like that. He just shows up out of the middle of nowhere the  to teach us, to comfort us, to speak to us, to remind us we are never alone and He is always there ready to embrace us when we are ready to come to Him.

Only He can take any situation and turn it for good for those who love Him [Romans 8:28].

So, maybe you are not physically injured, but perhaps you can relate to any of the other needs listed above. Perhaps, you are going through a tough time and you’re seeking answers. Perhaps, you are in a restless place and needing God’s peace in your heart. Or perhaps, like Jacob you have made some mistakes in the past and are in the process of resolving them. Whatever the need, know that God is always there ready to listen, ready to comfort, ready to resolve. Trust Him. Father knows best. And even when you are faced with many unknown confounding variables, if you call out to Him, He will answer.

As always, I appreciate you for stopping by and reading. I pray that these few lines brought forth some type of encouragement to your soul today. Remember, God loves you so much!

-S

 

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Fairy Tales in the Bible

“…and by this I will know you have shown kindness to my master”. – Genesis 24: 12-14

When I was a little girl, my mom would read bedtime stories to me. There was one in particular, I was quite fond of, and almost every night I would ask her to read me that story. She would smile at me and try to convince me otherwise; she would give me other options such as the one about “Persephone” or “The Odyssey” attempting to lure me with adventure, sometimes she would even throw in “David and Goliath” since she knew I also enjoyed that tale, but every night I would win and she would lose. Almost every night she wound up reading from the same book. She had read this story so many times, some nights she opted to tell it to me from memory, but I enjoyed the words and if she forgot a detail, I adamantly encouraged her to read the book by saying, “No mom, read the story, don’t tell me the story”, as I would take her hand in mine and tap her fingers to the page – the story was Isaac and Rebecca.

My mom never understood why I enjoyed the story so much, perhaps it was a father’s desire for his son to find marital bliss, perhaps it was the way the young lady in the story is depicted as a compassionate thoughtful woman, or perhaps it was the illustration of “love at first sight”, but for some reason her youngest child would end her day pleading for her mom to read “Isaac and Rebecca” as she fell asleep in her mother’s arms. As a child, I thought the reason I enjoyed this “fairytale” was because of the underlining theme of “Happily Ever After”, but as an adult I have discovered “happily ever after and love at first sight” were just two aspects of the story, the real reason why this was my favorite was the depiction of answered prayer.

Like all other young girls, I grew up in the world of Disney. I was introduced to the idea of fairytales one Christmas day when my next door neighbors gifted me a “Beauty and Beast” VHS (yes I am that old). This film marked my first introduction to the idea of romance, love, and marriage, following this film were Sleeping Beauty, Little Mermaid, and Snow White. I was only three years old, but all these films had a common theme: “Man meets girl, girl meets man, love at first sight, conflict arises, love wins, and they lived happily ever after” (Boring). Although I did enjoy these tales (and songs) and watched the films many times over, they were all the same to me, it is no wonder why when my mom first read the story of “Isaac and Rebecca” I fell in love with their story. Here was a “fairytale” that was different, a story about a father who wanted the best for his son, so he entrusted his servant with a task to go find a bride for his son, the servant not having much to go on other than “go to a land” decides a bold approach, the servant prays to God for direction, and God answers his prayer…word for word! Don’t believe me? Take a look at these verses:

“Then he said, ‘O LORD God of my master Abraham. Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’ – let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac..” Gen 24:12-14.

This was the servant’s prayer for God’s direction in making his decision. Fast forward a little ways, and we find this:

“And the servant ran to meet her and said, ‘Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher’. So she said, ‘Drink my lord.’ Then she quickly let her pitcher down to her hand, and gave him a drink. And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, ‘I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking’. Then she quickly emptied her pitcher into the trough, ran back to the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels” (Gen 24: 17-20).

-What?!

-Did she just do exactly what the servant had prayed? How awesome is that?!

-Incredible!

That section right there was what captured a four year old’s heart, mind, and attention. A servant prayed and God answered that prayer word for word. I knew as a little girl, that these cartoon fairytales were “make believe”, but what about this? Could this be real? Is this possible? After all, it comes from the Bible.

I didn’t know it then, but there in the midst of a “bedtime” story, God had gifted me with His fairytale for my life. A fairytale that one day I would revisit at age 23 and would cling to, not believing so much for that “prince charming”, but rather believing that my Heavenly Father has my best interests at heart. Isn’t it romantic, the idea that we can draft a prayer, and have faith that the LORD will answer this prayer for our lives?

This post has been written on my heart for over two years now, but I could never work up the courage to write it. Perhaps, along the way I lost hope and stopped believing that this type of prayer is attainable? Perhaps, the thoughts were too vulnerable for me to share with the public? Perhaps, I began to doubt God? You know what I think the reason was why I haven’t written this post, – timing. The moment had not taken place yet for me to type this up, nor for the audience to read. So I am believing boldly here, that whomever is reading this, it is one of those kairos moments where you were meant to read this in God’s timing dear one. I hope it has encouraged you. To the young mother, believe and dream BIG for your children, start praying for their spouse now while they are young. It will make a great difference in their lives, especially with all the sorts of ways society bombards young minds. To the young woman who waited for her answered prayer (spouse), share your story. Your tale of how you met your husband and how you prayed for him before you had even met him will encourage and inspire many young souls. To the adult single woman, have faith. God has His best interests for your life at heart (Jer 29:11). He has purpose for you, and trust me if you have not met “The One” it’s because God’s timeline is different than your own timeline. To the teenager, talk with your parents, seek their advice, matters of the heart are meant to be treated with great care, who better to discuss this than with an adult who cares for you like your mom, a guardian, or your group leader/youth pastor.

And if you are wondering dear one, I have list. It’s not lengthy nor does it involve drawing water for camels, but it’s my list. The One God inspired in my heart many moons ago, and I pray over consistently believing that one day God will answer my prayer just as he answered Abraham’s servant.

My prayer and hope for you precious one, is that you found encouragement within these words. I appreciate you for pausing at my blog and reading. You are fearfully and wonderfully crafted out of God’s great love, keep smiling, keep hoping, keep believing, God’s great purpose unfolds over you every moment of your life. Remember, God loves you! And his mercies are new every morning.

Until next time,

-S

Why 139?

Hi! My name is Sarai (technically it’s Sarahí and it’s my middle name but since it’s in Spanish I omit the “H” and accent mark to make it simple to pronounce). I am in my late twenties trying to do what everyone else seems to be doing at this time: figure out this wonderful life. The best way I can describe my journey after college is by referring to Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”. I think I like this poem too much because “two roads diverged and I took the less travelled”, but it has been a wonderful journey. I chose a meandering path (leave it to me to make things complicated) but it has been full of beauty and adventure. Psalm 139 is my second favorite passage in the entire Bible, and that is my hope for this blog. Through this psalm I learned to embrace the truth that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” by the Almighty LORD God and I hope you do too. Welcome to my blog, I appreciate you and I hope you have a lovely day.

In Christ’s love,

-S