Armoured Up

Archive for the tag “Friend”

Peace, Perfect Peace

peaceIt must be maturity…yeah, that’s what it is! The willingness to lay down your sword, give up your right to be heard…for your side to be known.

Deliverance….what a beautiful thing and you don’t fully realize its power until you are resting in it, feet firmly planted in it, soul at ease and free.

Being raised in a full house and being one of the youngest, I clamored for attention, fought for my right to be heard, was overdramatic and was super hurt when I was misunderstood. I carried that behavior with me through the years and was stung quite a bit as I was forced to take tests over and over (those stinky life tests, I mean). Ever wonder why you have to take tests over and over? It took me a minute to figure out that once I passed them, they passed, with the exception of an occasional refresher course followed by a quiz or two…or three!

My mind wandered this morning to the friend that got away.  Thank God for “friends” that get away…go away, move away, force a “walk-away.”  As I recalled the “situation” I marveled at how curiosity never got the best of me to reopen doors that should remain closed; I was astonished that I never felt the need to “tell my side” to those with whom my “friend” no doubt excoriated me.

Here’s the thing and it’s a big thing that I have pounded into my kiddies. Your reputation is all you have and it should be protected to the point that when other people hear stories and you are a principal character,  those who hear should know you well enough to know there must be more to the story. Those who hear and lean in and shake their heads and form opinions…well, they just don’t know you. There is no value in expending precious time and energy setting records straight when He who knows you best can set the record straight if He chooses to do so.

How am I benefitting? Peace, perfect peace – for some friends give, then take, then give some more, while others just take, then take, then take some more.

And so today I pray for those who are still learning lessons, being hurt and seeking peace.  That you would allow Him who loves you most, knows you best and has great plans for you, to heal, protect, sustain and strengthen you without you having to say a word.

“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind, both its inclination and its character, is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock the Rock of Ages.” Isaiah 26:3-4 AMP

 

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“Those words…those beautiful words…”

The word of God is living and powerful…it is able to reach into the darkest of places and bring light.  God showed this truth to me during a hospital visit and it served a dual purpose.  I received word from a friend’s sister that my friend had been hospitalized.  She was heavily sedated and would not even know I was there, but Marie thought it was important for me to know where my friend was, just in case.  With my bible in hand, I walked into her dark room and was met by her nurse who said I was welcome to visit, although my friend would be asleep throughout our time together.  Once we were alone, I approached my friend and I prayed for her and then decided to sit for a while with her.  She never moved as I pulled the chair across the floor to get closer to her.  I opened up my little book of healing scriptures and I began to declare the word of healing over her, personalizing each one.  It went something like this…

Ann, Jesus bore your sins in His body on the tree; therefore you are dead to sin and alive with God and by His stripes you are healed and made whole.  Ann, Jesus bore your sickness and carried your pain.  Therefore, you will give no place to such sickness or pain.  For God sent His Word and healed you.

I continued in this vain until I heard “Ann’s” voice.  It was groggy and soft, but I clearly heard her say…”Those words…those beautiful words…thank you.”  I approached her, encouraged her and then sat back down and read the rest of the book to her until she fell asleep again.

Recently, Ann and I were having some time in the word on the subject of prayer and I asked her if she recalled the above incident.  She said it sounded familiar, but she wasn’t sure.  On my way home from our time together I thought of the time my brother was on life support.  My sisters and I prayed together for his healing.  After we hung up, as I was washing the dishes I closed my eyes and saw my brother in a casket and I was shown who his pallbearers would be.  I immediately called my sister and told her we should change the direction of our prayer from healing to assurance of salvation.  I wanted to get that message to my other sister who was on her way to the hospital.  I wasn’t able to reach her but the Lord heard and later my sister told me that she had a strong unction to get in my brother’s ear and talk to him about Jesus.  His vitals had been on the decline, but while she was talking my brother was reacting, even though he wasn’t able to do so outwardly.  He passed away early the next morning and the Lord has shown us in many different ways that my brother heard and received.  This may be doctrinally challenging for some, but it has brought peace to our family.  When we met at my brother’s apartment to clean and pack his belongings, next to his favorite chair was a letter from me sharing my testimony and desire for him to come to Christ.  I know I will see my brother again.  Those words…those beautiful words!!!

The word is living and powerful…it is able to reach into the darkest of places and bring light.

My Friend Ruth

I was blessed with an opportunity to teach at our church’s school of ministry on the subject of prayer, one of my favorite subjects ever!

Pause for a bunny trail…you know if you ever wonder what your strength is or what your calling is, take a look at your book shelf for a hint.  If you were to take a peek at mine, you’d see mostly books on prayer.  I love prayer…I see my prayers…I see myself in the throne room; I see myself seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus.  I love prayer…I’ll probably touch that subject another time…back on track now.

Towards the end of the class I was sharing about prayer hindrances, unforgiveness being one such hindrance.  I told a story of a friend who had called me for prayer.  I knew that she and another friend of ours were involved in a scrape of some sort and I listened as she shared her prayer request, noticing that it was something that she had been anguishing over for some time.  I told her to get her bible and turn to Mark 11:23-24 “For assuredly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”  She was squealing with delight as she read these scriptures aloud and I could hear her highlighter screeching across the page.  I then asked her to read the next verse...”And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”  “Hello, hello, are you still there?”  <silence>.  Exactly!!!  I shared with the class that I didn’t know if she ever “got it.”  She claimed she and our friend had settled their differences…I knew they hadn’t at the time.  I encouraged my class to pursue peace, seek forgiveness early…release in order to receive.

After class, there were people who stayed behind for prayer mostly and I noticed a woman in her seat watching me.  She got up from her seat when everyone else had left and asked me if she could speak to me.  She told me her name was Ruth.  She was a petite woman and I towered over her in my heels and my instinct was to remove my heels to come down a little closer to her.  She was crying as she asked me to forgive her.  Huh?  I asked her whether we knew each other.  No, she said, but I have talked about you, I’ve said mean things about you.  I was a bit surprised.  This was a first for me.  “Have we met?  Have I been mean to you?”  She said, “No, you asked me to move over a seat in church.”  I asked her if I was rude and she said I was not and she realized it was her…all her.  I just melted as I listened to her ask for forgiveness as she tried to make sense out of something so senseless.  We embraced and I took her hands and we prayed and of course I released her.  That took some boldness.  Ruth is my hero!!  I have made it a point to look for her at church to squeeze her.  Ruth has become one of my greatest encouragers.  She has no idea, unless she reads this, that the Lord used her in a mighty way to encourage me.  She had grown accustomed to seeing me in a particular seat during a particular service.  She had not seen me and reached out on more than one occasion to encourage me and to reiterate how much she missed seeing me in my normal spot.  She was looking for me…she was missing me.  I’ll not forget that!  Thank you Ruth, mi hermana!!  Te quiero mucho!!! ❤

And when you least expect it, you find yourself forgiving someone for something only they were being tormented over; and when you least expect it, you release and encourage a new friend; and when you least expect it your new friend becomes one of your biggest blessings.

Forgiveness….necessary…empowering…strengthening…healing…building.

“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.” James 5:16 The Message Bible

“Be…quick to forgive an offense.  Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 The Message Bible

Me and my friend and sister, Ruth

Me and my friend and sister, Ruth

Remembering Miss Mary

I love a good prophecy…love a good word.  I don’t chase after them though.  We’ve all heard of folks who run from meeting to meeting hoping to be spotted and called out and given a word.  I learned early on to file those away.  I don’t disregard them…no, not at all.  I’m just really careful not to adjust my life or position myself in such a way to force a word given to come to pass.  I figure, if it’s God, it’ll be good and in time it will come to pass without my assistance.  I learned that long ago from Miss Mary and so today I’m remembering Miss Mary.

One of my first spiritual mothers was Mrs. Hopkings.  She was quiet and strong, full of wisdom and she could lift the roof off with her prayers.  I called her one day for prayer.  I was due to return to work after maternity leave and I was sad and broken at the prospect of leaving my son.  I was a mess and needed some encouragement.  After we spoke for a while, she asked me to hold on while she added her prayer partner, Miss Mary to the call.  They prayed for and encouraged me tag team style and at the end of the conversation, Miss Mary told me that soon I would be home for good to care for my son.  I hung up from that conversation filled with peace, strengthened and encouraged.

I returned to work just fine and 16 months later I was on maternity leave again and this time, just as Miss Mary had said, I did not return to work.  Months later I was at Miss Hopkings’ birthday party and seated behind me was a beautiful older woman dressed in african garb.  I was instantly attracted to her.  We spoke for a long time until dinner was served.  As I ate I looked around for Miss Mary.  Surely, she had to be present.  After dinner, I asked Miss Hopkings for her and she laughed and said that I had been talking to Miss Mary the entire time.  Of course!  I went over to Miss Mary and took her hands and introduced myself to her.  I introduced both my children and told her that I was at home with them now, just as she had said.  Her eyes filled with tears and she spoke such beautiful words over me and my children.  We exchanged telephone numbers and Miss Mary became my spiritual mother.  We began a phone affair, encouraging one another, sharing prayer requests and praise reports.

During one of our last telephone conversations, Miss Mary began to speak into my life.  I was sweeping the kitchen floor as she was speaking and it was the strangest thing, but whenever she would have a word for me her voice would change…everything about it…the tone, the volume, its cadence…and I knew to stop and listen.  This time I stopped, grabbed a pad of paper and sat down and began to take dictation.  She stopped abruptly and instructed me not to write down what was being said.  I was startled and looked out the window half expecting Miss Mary to be outside looking in.  She said that I would remember exactly what she said as it came to pass.  I did just that and have marveled through the years, as much of what she said has come to pass in my life.

Today I’m remembering Miss Mary…that powerhouse woman of God…so tender, so wise, so strong, full of love.  Here’s to you Miss Mary.  I can’t wait to tell you how spot on you were!

Moses, a Friend, and a Stranger

I have been walking with the Lord…oftentimes limping…sometimes even being dragged  for 15 years now.  Along the way, there have been people who have imparted such wisdom and have shown me such love, whose witness has impacted me, who have left an indelible imprint on my life.  There have also been people whom the Lord has used to woo me, who never knew the impact they would have on me.  They were simply living their lives (some louder than others) while I was watching and listening…while He was wooing me…drawing me.

I was probably 13 years old when “Moses” became our new neighbor.  I don’t believe I knew his real name.  My brothers named him Moses because he carried a bible constantly.  I never saw him leave the house without it and the only time he ever talked to me was to ask me whether I was saved.  Saved from what?  Naturally, we thought he was a nut.  He was bold and brash, a strict disciplinarian.  I felt sorry for his daughters.  He both intimidated me and sparked a curiosity within me and all these years later, I never forgot ole Moses.

Then there was my co-worker friend, Clare, a bubbly, charismatic, Irish Catholic girl who it seemed left one way on a Friday and came back a totally different person on Monday.  I never quite got the back story of Clare’s conversion because she simply freaked me out.  I secretly judged her while at the same time I was completely taken by her and totally intrigued.  I thought surely she was confused and certainly hell bound having left the Church, but I was so curious about this new Clare.  I wondered what happened to the old Clare.  I could not get over the change and as she spoke I thought “how in the world does she remember all those scriptures and what in the world do they mean?”  I don’t remember Clare ever trying to impose her beliefs on me although she certainly was not shy about what she believed.  She seemed so confident and knowledgeable about this Jesus thing.   We eventually parted ways but the impression she made on me was a forever one.  One thing that was undeniable about Clare…she had been touched and I saw Jesus in her eyes.  I never forgot Clare.

Years later, I was sitting by myself having lunch, in the middle of a pity party in the Plaza, when out of nowhere this young woman approaches me and takes a seat next to me.  She wore a pony tail and a smile and had a soft voice.  She began probing into my life and I wasn’t budging.  I rather enjoyed being pitiful, okay?  She finally got around to inviting me to her church.  I told her I was a Catholic (a non-church going, infertile, depressed, fighting with her husband, Catholic) but hey, I had a church..had no idea how long it had been since I’d visited, but I belonged there!  She persisted, telling me that her church meets in a gym while they are believing for a building.  I totally thought she was a part of a cult.  No thank you.  Every day after that I would duck when I saw her – even pretending to be asleep many times and this girl was relentless. She would pass by me calling my name…”Arlene, is that you…are you sleeping?  Just wanna tell you that Jesus loves you.”  Ugghhh!!!  She annoyed me…Eventually, she moved on and I never saw her again, but I never forgot her.

Three different people over many years in three different states; three memories forever etched in my heart and one big, loving, relentless God in hot pursuit of me.  Know this…someone is always watching your witness, recording your words, being impacted without your even knowing and those times that you are seemingly rejected as you share your faith, recognize that you have planted a seed and He will see to it that that seed gets watered and after the harvest, many, many years later you just might meet up again…if not here, then there for sure.  Oh happy day!!

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” 1Corinthians 3:6

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