Trusting God with the Timing of the Miracle

whenContinued from here.

Of course, I wanted this miracle to happen right away. I’ve cried oceans of tears over this area of bondage over the past few decades. I’ve felt deep shame over my brokenness. I’ve cried out about how unfair it was for me to suffer in this area of my life as I have, and I cried double because of the effects my bondage had on the people I love.

If God had waved a magic wand and healed me instantly the first time I asked, I would only have received the healing. Because of His perfect timing, I not only have the healing, but I also have a close, deep, personal, and intimate relationship with God! I have learned to trust Him – that He will carry me through, strengthening me where I’m weak and enabling me to go on when I have lost all strength or even desire to keep going.

In one of her Bible studies, Beth Moore noted that God is not concerned about our comfort. That rubbed me the wrong way when I first heard her say it, but I now better understand what she means. It’s not that God wants us to be uncomfortable – it’s that his primary purpose for us is fruitfulness, not comfort. Pruned vines bear more fruit than vines that have not been pruned, and pruning is uncomfortable! God allows us to endure uncomfortable – and even painful – experiences … sometimes for decades! … in order to make us more fruitful. Yes, I endured much pain in my life in this particular area, but I now have the testimony to bear much fruit for a particular segment of society who suffer in ways that I once suffered. I can look them in the eye and say, “God is GOOD and bigger than this pain,” and they will know I speak truth because I can show them my scars.

If you are in a difficult or impossible situation, don’t give up! Your Heavenly Father is much bigger than your problem. Your slow miracle may be in the works right now. Just because you cannot see the roots forming underground doesn’t mean the seed is not transforming into a beautiful tree.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace holding up a pocket watch and asking, “When?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]


Believing that God is Able to Do Even This

believeContinued from here.

Some people do not believe that miracles happen … or if they did happen in the past, God no longer does them today. They point out that if God was still in the business of doing miracles, we would see evidence of them all around us. Some believe that what the people of Jesus’ time called “miracles” can be explained away through reason and science.

All I can tell you is that I have personally experienced God’s miraculous work in my life. He healed my post-traumatic stress disorder, my anxiety disorder, my eating disorder (all slow miracles), and now this – the one area of brokenness that I did not believe God would ever heal … and yet He did. I don’t think He did it just for me: I believe He is going to use this testimony as part of my ministry as He leads me to shine the light of hope and healing into the lives of people who lack both.

If you don’t believe that God will perform a miracle in your life, you could block yourself from receiving the miracle. Jesus would ask people whether they believed he could heal them, and they would be healed according to their faith. Don’t let your own lack of faith stand in the way of receiving a slow miracle. If you lack faith, follow the example of the father who asked Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief. God will provide even the faith, but you must be open to receiving it.

I know how disheartening it is to have faced the same problem day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, and even decade after decade. That was my story for most of my life, and yet I stand before you today HEALED! I don’t know how God did it, nor do I know why it took Him soooo long to do it. All I know is that I was once in such heavy bondage in this area of my life that I had no hope of it ever improving. I was simply grateful when this part of my life transformed from being less painful. Today, it’s a JOY! I marvel at how God can take something that was so ugly & broken and make it something beautiful that brings JOY!

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace holding up her hands and saying, “I believe!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]


Keeping the Miracle Private for a Time

shhContinued from here.

When Jesus performed miracles, he told the recipients to keep the news private: between themselves and God. Here’s an example:

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: ‘See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.’ Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere” (Mark 1:40-45).

This miracle in my life was so profound that it took me close to six months to share it. And even then, I am only sharing the news to glorify God. For example, I recently shared the news with someone who I used to complain about the issue with “back in the day” as a way of encouraging her to hold onto her faith amidst a very difficult (impossible) situation that she is currently dealing with in her own life. I want her to know that God is bigger than this seemingly impossible situation, that He is faithful, and that He is capable of carrying her though until the miracle comes. And my motive for sharing about this miracle in general terms on this blog is to encourage you along your own journey – to give you hope that God can heal your impossible situation as well.

Something shifted six months ago, awakening me to the reality that God was very close to healing this area of bondage. And then one piece of evidence after another happened that validated that God had, indeed, performed a slow miracle in my life. I only talked with God about this miracle for months because it was private – an intimate experience between my Heavenly Father and me. Not only did this slow miracle glorify God, but it also invited me in to a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him as He and I shared this “secret” together.

What God has done for me is not intended as “entertainment” for the world. It’s not something that God did to wow people to come see for themselves so they can get healing. The purpose of the miracle was to draw me closer to God, and it did … in ways that I cannot even put into words. As my relationship with Him deepened over the past six months, my perspective of Him shifted. Now, I am able to share the great news about his profound healing power from the perspective of God being the focus of the story, not the miracle itself.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace holding her finger to her lips and saying, “Shhhhh.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]


Guarding Your Mouth as You Wait for Your Long Miracle

oh_reallyContinued from here.

The area of my life in which a miracle has recently taken place plagued me for decades. If it’s true that God saves all of our tears, one huge ocean is filled with nothing but the tears I shed over this particularly painful area of bondage that plagued me for my entire life. I used to complain about this problem – A LOT. In fact, friends who knew me “back in the day” who read this blog may have a good idea what I’m talking about … and will be SHOCKED to read this!!

Several years ago, as I was crying out to God about this area of bondage for the millionth time, God placed heavily on my heart that He was going to heal it. I didn’t believe it. I actually asked, “In THIS lifetime??,” thinking that perhaps there really is such a thing as reincarnation and that God would start again in my next lifetime. I then asked, “In THIS relationship??” because I couldn’t see how this area of bondage, which involves the dynamics of another person and thus brings an extra set of challenges to be overcome, could possibly ever change. God’s answer to both was, “Yes – In THIS lifetime and in THIS relationship.” The Bible says that if someone states that God said X and it does not come to pass, then he is a false prophet. I was careful not to tell anyone for a very long time about sensing this promise from God because it seemed so unbelievable, and I didn’t want to bring judgment on myself by misrepresenting God’s words.

That’s not all I stayed silent about, though. I completely stopped talking about my area of bondage. I stopped saying things like, “I’ll always have this problem” or “This is never going to change.” I decided that if God was working in this area of my life, I needed to shut my mouth and not speak against whatever God was doing. This was difficult because for a very long time, from the outside, nothing seemed to be changing. However, way deep inside, like a seed planted deep within the soil, a miracle was taking root.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace looking surprised and asking, “O RLY?!” <Oh, really?> Courtesy Bitmoji.]


The LONG Miracle

God has recently performed a miracle in my life. It’s not one with lots of bells and whistles so that others notice it. In fact, the person close to me who is most affected by it did not realize it had taken place until I pointed it out. However, if you took a snapshot of that area of my life 15 years ago and held it up next to my life today, your jaw would drop. You would find it hard to believe what you were seeing because transformation like that doesn’t happen … and yet, it did.

I’m not going to share the specifics on this blog for three reasons: (1) It’s a private area of my life; (2) It affects someone else, so sharing the details publicly would not be considerate of that person’s privacy; and (3) By not sharing the details, I can paint the concept with a broader brush and, hopefully, inspire you to believe that God has the power to transform your long-term area of struggle as well.

I love this line from the movie Faith Like Potatoes:

The condition for a miracle is difficulty, however the condition for a great miracle is not difficulty, but impossibility.” ~ Angus Buchan

Everyone wants to experience a miracle, but none of us wants to have to endure the conditions necessary to require a miracle. We don’t want to be paralyzed for 38 years or experience blindness since birth. And yet, those are the very people who experienced Jesus’ miracles – those with long-term, impossible situations that only God could change. And God’s intervention brought Him glory.

The primary difference in those stories and mine is that they were healed in an instant. That isn’t my testimony for my miracle, even though my miracle is every bit is powerful as those. Instead, God brought about my transformation a teeny, tiny bit at a time. It happened so slowly that it’s only through hindsight that I can see His hand at work years before I had any awareness that He was moving in this area of my life.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Faith Like Potatoes. Courtesy Amazon.


Miracles Don’t have to be Uncommon

magnifying_glassContinued from here.

Some Christian songs make mention of miracles being rare, but I disagree. I have experienced many miracles in my life, three of which I have written about throughout this blog series: healing from an eating disorder, emotional pain from childhood abuse, and marital strife. There’s nothing special about me that invited in these miracles. They came about as I chose to obey God and live my life as He commands. I had to choose to turn to God for comfort instead of food (no idolatry), forgive my childhood abusers, and humble myself in my marriage. As I walked in obedience in these difficult areas, God transformed me closer to the image of Christ, which invited these slow miracles into my life. This can be your story as well.

Whatever you are facing in your life, God is bigger. Study your Bible and find out what God has to say about your situation. Then, do what God commands you to do, even if it is really, really hard. If you will make the choice to start living your life God’s way in a particular area, God will enable you to do it, which will usher in the miracle you have been seeking. Miracles are not infrequent events reserved for particularly special people. The Bible is a handbook showing you how to tap into God’s power and experience His miraculous power in your life, not because you are special or because you deserve it – it’s grace.

I challenge you to try this in the most “impossible” area of your life. If you simply cannot get over the pain of a betrayal, commit to praying for that person every day and repeatedly ask God to help you forgive him or her. If your marriage is dead, work through Alex Kendrick’s and Stephen Kendricks’ The Love Dare and learn how to humble yourself in your marriage. If finances are your challenge, start tithing 10% of your income to your local church and see what happens. Bring God the driest desert in your life and start doing things God’s way. The miracle may be slow, but it will come if you will live your life in that area as God commands you to live it. GOD’S WAY ACTUALLY WORKS!

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace peering through a magnifying glass. Courtesy Bitmoji.]


Slow Miracles Lead to Transformation

barbellContinued from here.

One reason we are on this earth is to transform into Christ’s image. Transformation does not happen quickly: by definition, transformation is a slow process. As you pray for your miracle, you might not see anything happening, but God is much less concerned with changing your circumstances than He is with changing YOU.

The lesson we all need to learn is that GOD’S WAY ACTUALLY WORKS. When we choose not to forgive those who wrong us, we are refusing the slow miracle of God’s healing. Our pain is not caused by the wrong that was done to us (although I know it feels that way). Instead, our pain is caused by our reaction to what was done. When we choose to think negatively about someone and feed the bitterness, we build our own emotional prisons. While God could miraculous tear down those prison walls for us, without transformation, we will simply build them right back up again. God tells us to forgive and to pray for our enemies, not because they deserve it but because that’s the door to opening the miracle of healing. How quickly or slowly that happens depends upon your willingness to live your life God’s way.

The same holds true for healing your marriage. Marriage only works God’s way, which involves humbling yourself by deferring your preferences to your spouse. Because you are one, the more you lash out in anger toward your spouse, the more wounds you inflict onto yourself. Conversely, when you defer your preferences to your spouse and honor him or her, you open the door to the slow miracle of healing your marriage. Many of God’s slow miracles are invited in by simply doing things God’s way.

While my preference at the time would have been quick miracles for healing the eating disorder, childhood pain, and marital woes, if I could go back in time and change this, I wouldn’t. Quick miracles would have only been temporary fixes because my disobedience to God’s ways would have simply placed me back in the same situation as before. The slow miracles transformed me so that I am no longer tempted to go back. I know how much effort was required to experience God’s miracles, and I refuse to return to the bondage from which God has freed me.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace holding a barbell above her head. Courtesy Bitmoji.]


Slow Miracles Focus on Who We are Becoming

Continued from here.

God cares more about who you are becoming than where you are going. When we are in pain, we want our miracle NOW, but God wants more for us than simply deliverance from pain. God certainly has the ability to heal us instantly – God healed one of my close friends from cigarette addiction instantly, and she hasn’t smoked again in decades. However, quick miracles happen too quickly for much character develop to take place. The blessing of the slow miracle is that is provides much time to transform us closer to the image of Christ.

While we are waiting on our slow miracles, we aren’t just sitting around doing nothing. God expects us to do our part, and that’s what drives us to transform. Of course, we need to be in prayer about our miracle, not only asking God to perform the miracle but also thanking Him for what He has already done. If the miracle involves not doing something (such as not drinking, smoking, eating, etc.), we need to be in prayer throughout the day to help us stay the course and not give in to temptation. As we do this, we are learning dependency upon God: how to stay connected to the Vine.

Some of my slow miracles did not begin until I started doing things God’s way. One example is that God did not begin healing my deepest pain from the childhood abuse until I started praying for my abusers with the intention of forgiving them. As I obeyed God by choosing forgiveness (which is a process), God gradually healed the pain until I one day realized that the pain was completely gone. Another example was healing my marriage. God did not heal my marriage quickly. Instead, he led me to work through Alex Kendrick’s and Stephen Kendrick’s The Love Dare as I learned what unconditional love looks like in practice. I had to humble myself in my marriage, doing marriage God’s way, to experience the slow miracle of His healing. Not only did God miraculously heal both me and my marriage, but He transformed me closer to the image of Christ.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of The Love Dare. Courtesy Amazon.]


Slow Miracles Lead to Compassion Rather than Judgment

struggle_is_realContinued from here.

In areas of our lives that have never been a struggle, it can be easy to judge others who are struggling. For example, I am not vulnerable to alcoholism. I can drink a beer one day and go months, or even years, without having another beer. Then, if I have a beer again, I have complete freedom about whether to drink a second beer or not. Addiction to alcoholism has never been an issue for me. Thus, in my flesh, it could be easy for me to judge an alcoholic as I expect that person’s experience with alcohol to be the same as mine.

However, I have been addicted to food through an eating disorder, so I have a frame of reference for how difficult it must be for an alcoholic to choose not to drink. I remember the internal drive inside to “stuff down” an entire bag of Doritos in one sitting and how “impossible” it was for me to stop eating/bingeing once I started. Because God healed my addiction slowly, I have deep compassion for someone working through the Alcoholics Anonymous program. I know the challenge of making a healthy choice minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, and day-by-day and how easily months of progress can be cast aside in a moment of weakness. I would not have this empathy if God had not healed me with a slow miracle.

Being judged in an area of one’s deepest weakness is particularly painful. I have been on the receiving end of that type of judgment, and it cuts deeply when someone pours salt onto your open wounds. God fully understands our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and He is gentle with us as He guides us toward what we need to do to participate in His slow miracle. Being healed through a slow miracle helps us better understand how to demonstrate this aspect of God’s character to others who are struggling in their own difficult or impossible situations.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace grimacing and holding up her fist while saying, “The struggle is real.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]


Empathy Developed through Slow Miracles

forgive_youContinued from here.

As I shared in my last blog entry, God healing me from the pain of childhood abuse happened slowly as I obeyed His command to forgive them. I did this by praying for them day after day, week and week, and month after month for over a year. I knew I had forgiven them when the pain was gone. If God had miraculously healed that pain instantly, I never would have forgiven them, which would have led me right back to where I started – mired in bitterness, which would have brought more pain. Instead, I am free and refuse to go back into the bondage of bitterness. I choose to forgive anyone who hurts me immediately and pray for each transgressor daily until I no longer feel pain. God not only gave me the tools to participate in the slow miracle of healing the pain from childhood abuse, but He also showed me how to apply those tools in my day-to-day life so I am not mired by bitterness today.

Because God used a slow miracle that required me to exert much effort in obedience to Him, I have deep empathy for those who are mired in unforgiveness. I have not forgotten how difficult unforgiveness is or how distasteful the thought of forgiving a wrongdoer is. I vividly remember all of my own objections: “But they don’t deserve it! You have no idea how deeply they wounded me! Nobody could forgive what they did to me! I have every right to hate them, and I DO hate them!” This deep empathy helps me be gentle as I guide people toward obeying God in this sensitive area.

As an example, I have shared that I am the executive director for a statewide prison ministry. A woman called about potentially volunteering for our post-incarceration ministry. I told her that ALL are welcome, from shoplifters to murderers. I also mentioned that even sex offenders are welcome, which was a stumbling block for her. She had the wisdom to recognize that she was not yet spiritually mature enough to offer comfort to sex offenders who were reentering society. Rather than judge her for this, I told her I understand – and I do! – because if we were having this conversation five years ago, it would be completely different because I used to feel the same way. I told her that I had been victimized by sex offenders as a child, and I was only able to develop compassion for sex offenders after God led me to forgive my own abusers.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace with a halo and angel wings saying, “I forgive you.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]