Hope and the BLESS System

During the summer of 2017, my church is utilizing a system to BLESS our neighborhoods. The acrostic works like this:

  • Begin with Prayer
  • Listen and Engage
  • Eat (because we all connect better while we’re eating)
  • Serve Others
  • Story (be willing to share your faith story)

Although I like this concept, I am purposely NOT engaging in this system. Not that I disagree with any of it – I’m just pulling back from any kind of service while I recover from ministry exhaustion.

The ironic beauty of this BLESS system is that God Himself is helping me engage with him. He is blessing me.woman - worship

It’s almost a replay of how God took care of Elijah when he was discouraged and depressed after a massive battle. (If you want to read that story, check out First Kings 19.)

Now, I don’t believe I am anywhere close to being a powerful servant such as Elijah.

I just know God loves me and he’s taking care of me.

Here’s how it works:

Begin with Prayer: At times, I’ve been so depleted, the only prayer words I could speak were “God oh God” or “Jesus, help!” But the sweet truth is that God still heard me. We don’t have to pray a certain way or follow a formula for Abba Father to hear the cries of our hearts.

[Read more about Redefining Prayer]

Listen and Engage: In the quiet of the night when all I hear is the cat’s snores – I sense God near. He is listening to me and for me, and I for him. Sometimes he speaks a verse I’ll look up and journal through. Sometimes it’s just the inner warmth of knowing he’s engaging and connecting with me. I love that. Sometimes it’s whole paragraphs of guidance and truth.

Being listened to = being loved.

Eat: This piece of the acrostic is a bit more eclectic because I’m not talking about real food. Although a healthy recovery does include nutritious eating as in blueberries, dark chocolate, lots of water, repeat.

Emotional and spiritual eating means filling my mind with the words of God and helpful books – fiction and nonfiction. I am inhaling without exhaling, filling up my emotional bucket that has been scraped raw. This type of eating never adds empty calories, but spiritual nutrition flows into every tissue and emotional gap.

Serve Others: It seems impossible to turn off the button of ministering to others. Sometimes I have to catch myself and say, “No! You cannot organize and promote a new ministry, no matter how much it is needed. Stop it!

I am letting go of all expectations and reveling in how God is serving me.

Now, I know some of you out there in cyberspace are thinking, How selfish! Who does she think she is? What would Jesus do?

I’ll tell you what Jesus would do. He would climb right up in Abba’s lap and tell the Holy Spirit to come and comfort him.

When he walked on this earth, Jesus rowed across the lake and took some down time. He had weekend getaways at the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. He strolled through a garden and prayed, inhaling the presence of God so he would have strength later to heal and save.

So don’t judge me. I’m telling you Abba is such a personal God he knows when to send me an encouraging word.

He calls me to the deck at just the right time so I can watch a rabbit nurse her bunnies. He commands a flock of geese to fly over me with joyful honks. He whispers to a baby in Wal-Mart who turns around and gives me a single-toothed grin. He plants a book in my hands that helps me understand how ministers become codependent. He tells someone to send me a check so I can pay that climbing electric bill. He heals my son so I don’t have to live in worry.

God knows exactly what I need and when I need to be reminded how much he loves me.

Story: I’ve just shared part of my story with you. It continues to grow and the plot lines interweave. More will be coming in the weeks ahead.

Keep checking in with me to see how God wraps hope around every gift, how he is himself the author of hope.

The guideline God is helping me learn is this: it’s okay to take care of yourself. That means telling others “No” when they ask you to do something. It means setting healthy boundaries. It might even mean getting away from the mess.

So that’s where my story is so far. I’m sticking to it. Be blessed and let God bless you.

©2017 RJ Thesman

Sometimes They Forget       Goals E-book Cover      Rev_G_Cover

 

 

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4 Treasures in Dark Places

Today I welcome a writer who shares the same publisher with me, Cross River Media. Angela D. Meyer is the author of “Where Hope Starts,” a story about God’s redemption in the middle of a crumbling marriage. Angela lives in Omaha, NE with her husband of more than 22 years. She home-schools their daughter and recently graduated their son who is now off to the Marines. She has taught Bible classes for over 35 years and served for almost three years on the leadership team of her local Christian writers’ group. Angels loves God, her family, the ocean, good stories, connecting with friends, taking pictures, quiet evenings and a good laugh. Someday she wants to ride in a hot air balloon and vacation by the sea. 

 “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Isaiah 43:3 (NIV)

I worked in the kitchen and attempted to bury my emotions. I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but I do remember feeling sorry for myself. I tried to dump chicken bones into a garbage bag, but spilled them onto my freshly cleaned floor. Angela Meyer

Past overwhelmed, I bent to clean up the mess and began to cry out to God. His peace crept into my heart.

God used a moment of despair to bring me to my knees: the place I needed to go to find my strength. I couldn’t help but laugh. The method was not my favorite. Who wants to clean up old chicken bones? 

God’s ways may not be conventional or expected, but He does redeem our seasons in the valley. Some of the blessings I have uncovered when I turned to God during the dark times include:

Strength. When we stop trying to do everything ourselves, God steps in and supplies the strength we need. He is stronger than anything we face.

Peace. Once we experience His presence with us through the dark places, trust comes a bit easier. We can rest assured that no matter the circumstance, He keeps us in the palm of his hand.

Wisdom. Experiencing God’s provision first hand gives us an understanding of His character. This translates into other situations and teaches us how to behave in a way that brings glory to God.

Gratefulness. When we intentionally take notice of all that God is doing around us, even in the middle of a trial, it helps us pull our head out of the muck and be grateful.

The times I need Him the most seem to be the most difficult to let go of my will. But it’s worth it to allow Him to fill my heart with blessings.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)

 What blessings have you found in the dark places of your life?