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Thursday, May 8, 2014

50 DAYS

Acts 1:3-5  During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. and he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.  Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, "Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.  John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (NIV)

     Walking out of my attorney's office, I clutched a manila file folder which held a copy of our divorce decree scribbled with my notes.  There was not much time to allow my swirling thoughts to settle down before I would reach the counseling office where my children met for another session of play therapy.
     Everything appeared normal in this area of Brownsville.  How could this be when my insides felt like a Van Gogh painting gone wild: streaking lines, unbalanced shapes, with blotches of color going this way and that?
     This is not the life I dreamed of throughout my teens.  I wanted harmony, purposeful living, affection and a soul mate who would listen to my dreams and share his heart as well.  I married a man going into the ministry who I had believed loved and honored God as I did. 
     At only thirty-one years of age, I enjoyed raising our four children.  I admired and looked up to my husband as he sang at the piano or shared his Sunday morning message.  I listened to his ideas.  I read his chapters as he wrote and gave him my feedback.  I enjoyed his presence and being close to him.
     All of my hopes and dreams for our family appeared to be swirling down the drain based on the whim of my husband's recent decision.  Warmth and love escaped my wistful embrace.  
     I figured that every couple struggled through ups and downs of sorts.  We married young, he was twenty and I was nineteen.  We were together for thirteen years and shared so much together.
     I breathed a prayer asking for the strength and for help to care for the family.  A warmth surged through me now as and I welcomed hope, my new companion.  
     The car key slid easily into the ignition, and soon my white Oldsmobile backed up to leave the parking space.  
     As much as I longed to have instant answers, I knew that I would find them as I walked this out.
     Stepping into the counselor's office, I was greeted with smiles and hugs by my four chatty children.  They were comfortable with the staff by now.  And after a brief consultation, the smiling counselor reassured me that all four of them appeared well balanced considering, and so I took some more notes on any behaviors that might cause a reason to be concerned. 
     I'm sure my four brave children never comprehended how they saved me from feeling like a total wash out.  God used them to encourage me and keep my mind on current activities and busy schedules rather than drowning in depressing thoughts.  His love touched me so much through their loving ways and innocence.
     The gravel crunched as I pulled into the driveway of our parsonage.  Questions still flooded in concerning where we would live, how would I afford to finish three more years of college.
     While I tucked in the boys that night, my eight year old, Nathan, took me off guard with his question.  
     "Mom, are we going to be street people now?" he looked earnestly into my eyes to read the expression as I answered.
     "Why do you ask that?"  He had to be wondering how we were going to live without his dad providing for us, since they knew he went off to work and I stayed at home most of their lives. 
     "We have to leave this house and you don't have a job.  So how will we get another house?"
     "You know that God knows about everything we need.  He will take care of us."  I continued as I rubbed his back to soothe him.
     "No matter how bad things look right now, someday we will look back and see all of the ways God was with us and took care of  our needs.  Why don't we pray and ask God to help us find the right house for our family, okay?"
     That became my answer to many challenges that came up.  I would simply stop and pray and leave it to God to deliver a solution. I kept hearing the words, "You have not because you do not ask."  So I decided to ask, do the best I could do, and trust Him with the rest.
     Those years had their challenges, but greater than that, they also had their miracles and blessings.  
     I was feeling a bit inadequate and too busy with college courses that forced me out of bed at three and four in the morning to complete a project, or read an assignment.  Yet, my kids since have told me that those years were some of the happiest of their childhood.
     Our Comforter, the Holy Spirit, filled empty places and allowed us to see all the good there was to enjoy everyday.  He warmed my heart with a full house of happy children.  He brought answers to prayer to provide for our needs.  I grew so much in faith during this time, and in compassion for hurting individuals.
     In those first few days after the crucifixion, the world was also turned upside down for those early believers and especially the disciples.  Their dear friend who had spent three years with them would on a daily basis perform miracles, heal, and teach.  
     I can imagine the questions and the doubts that plagued them when he declared that he was leaving to go back to his Father. Jesus encouraged them and told them it was far better that he go from the earth so that the Holy Spirit could come and dwell inside every believer.  They had witnessed his miracles, his words of wisdom, and his compassionate nature.  They did not want him to leave them.
     Jesus finally commanded the disciples to wait for promise of the Holy Spirit.  These early believers saw Jesus for forty days and then he ascended into Heaven to remain with God.  
     Ten days later... 50 days after the resurrection, while they waited in the upper room, the Spirit came down from Heaven and filled them all.  
      Come Holy Spirit!  This has been the cry of intercessors over the years.  It has been the hope of the violated and the wrongly imprisoned through the the past decades.  This has been on my heart on and off throughout my life, but presently, it seems to be ringing in my mind daily.  COME HOLY SPIRIT COME!
      The Holy Spirit is here in us as believers, but my heart cry is that we release God to work on the Earth.  Let's relinquish our lives to allow God to work through us as never before.  The whole earth is groaning to be freed and rid of evil. 
     Fifty days and the promised Spirit came to empower them.  Then, as Peter preached to the multitudes, he invited them also to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  
     I ask you, Holy Spirit, to disturb me.  Stir me up to spend time in the Bible.  Let me rest in your presence.  I want to hear your voice, and I desire to respond obediently to anything that you impress me to do.  Let there be a mighty outpouring of your love and your blessing on all the earth. 
     Jesus said that all who believe could do anything he did and even greater exploits.  He set the bar high, now God, help me to live up to your expectations.
 


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