Wednesday, February 17, 2010

40 Days and 40 Nights

Today is Ash Wednesday, the very first day of the Lenten Season. I don't know about you, but I'm excited. 2009 was the most challenging year I have ever had to face. The enemy attacked us on all sides - physical, emotional, spiritual, financial - you name it, we struggled with it. But much like Joseph's brothers in Genesis, what the enemy meant for evil, God meant for good. The hard things that could and should have ripped my marriage, family, sanity and relationship with the Lord apart did not have the affect that the devil intended. No, he meant to use them to destroy me. He wanted me to fight with my husband over money (or the lack thereof); to isolate from my family when we lost my dad; to become easily offended with people who were insensitive or far away; to not trust God with anything because of all the pain and the piles of problems that loomed before; to get lost in sadness, anger, grief and loneliness; and to allow physical problems to sideline me from life with the ones I loved. And while there were days when I succumbed to the pity party the devil was throwing in my honor and all of the tricks he was using to pull me out of the race, God used all of these things to make me stronger. How does He do it? How does He always take my weak, pathetic excuse for faith and build it into an amazing testimony of who He is? I really don't know how, but as I look back on this excruciating year I am humbled by the outpouring of love and grace that I see from Him. My marriage is stronger than it ever has been, and I enjoy my husband more every day. I see more and more what a strong, capable, considerate, loving, honest and godly man I married. He embodies the word integrity, and I am so proud of the man that he is. My children are truly a blessing from the Lord. Every time I look into Elijah's eyes, I see my dad and I am overwhelmed with gratitude because I know that although he is not here with me, he will never be gone. I and my children are still reaping the blessings of his faithful service to the Lord, and we will continue to do so. And I know that he is heaven with the Lord, and we will get to join him one day. Paige's smile has been a great comfort to me, Patrick and my mom. On the days it seemed our grief was at its worst, God used Paige's innocent and sweet smile to bring about so much comfort and peace. Even today, nearly a year later, her smile and gentle love reminds me of how God gently loved us during that difficult time. Our finances were a roller-coaster ride this year, and continue to be. Patrick went from bad job to bad job to finally finding a wonderful job that he loves. But despite the financial shortfall we encountered every single month, God has provided for our every need. We are current on every bill, and have never had to go without. God miraculously provided us with not only what we needed, but also what we wanted throughout the entire year. He showed Himself in a big way to us, using little miracles (is there such a thing?) here and there to provide for us. From $350 worth of diapers on our doorstep, to unexpected bonuses from jobs Patrick no longer held, to people buying my jam, gift certificates coming in the mail, boxes of clothes being sent at the perfect time (check out a few previous posts to know more) - God astounds me with His creativity in blessing us. I am humbled as I look back on 2009. And honestly, I think I am grateful for that awful year. Does that mean I'm happy my dad died, or that we struggled? - No, but I now see that I didn't go through those things alone. God gently lead me through them, and shielded me from so many things in the midst of it all. If I did not have Him, I would have had to go it alone, and I would be fighting against the devil by myself. I would have given up long ago, and not only would I not be receiving the peace and blessing I do now, I would be defeated, depressed and struggling all the more. As I look at the Lenten season and begin to fast from the things the Lord has called me away from, I am filled with anticipation. What now Lord? What things are You going to reveal to me now? How will show Yourself in these 40 days? How much better will everything be the closer I draw to You? I realize that so much was stripped away last year, but in a lot of ways that was a good thing. My false sense of security in this life or in people or in a job or in money or in my health were all ripped from my grasp and I was left with the truth - that God is my rock. He is the only thing that never changes. And with this truth came so much freedom. The stripping away was painful, but it left my heart and hands open to receive all that the Lord wants to give me. And He is the giver of every good and perfect gift, so I want whatever He has to give me. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 has always been my life verse, and now I see even more His power being perfected in my weakness. I pray that this season of self-denial that will, I'm sure, be wrought with even more attacks from the enemy and leave me feeling weak, will be another opportunity for God to demonstrate His infinite power. I invite you to be weak with me, and watch God move, because I think last year - the ups and downs - are only a preview of what's to come.

1 comment:

Zann said...

You're amazing Regina and I just love everything that you had to say. God is faithful and it is truly evident in your life. I love hearing how much this past year has stretched you and grown you. It's amazing what the Lord does in the hard times. I love you and I'm so happy that the enemy could not destroy all the beauty that you posess.