“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
We all know the popular cliché, “you are what you eat.” Most people hear that and think food. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that thrives off of junk food and industries making money off of supersized burgers and Sour Patch Kids cereal (yes, that’s a thing, I freaked out, too, when I saw it on the shelves). For the most part, we know that when we choose to eat junk food, we won’t feel good. Our organs start to fail, endurance decreases and energy will start to trickle away until we are left feeling drained and empty. Bad fuel = a car that won’t start.
When I hear that phrase, I also think of it in the spiritual context, “you are what you spiritually eat.” If you choose to consume negativity, hours of Netflix and comparison traps on Instagram, the same thing happens. Our hearts grow weary, energy to trust God declines and our endurance to hold on to hope start to trickle away. We are left feeling drained, again, but this time of good spiritual food.
These two areas of wellness are so tied together, a package deal really. You cannot have one without the other. In the bible, an analogy is given that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we are to honor God with our bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NIV). Scripture doesn’t just say our bodies are temples, but they are temples OF the Holy Spirit, meaning we hold God inside of us each day. We are chosen to carry the Holy Spirit each day, so what happens if we aren’t feeding our souls in the right way?
Scripture goes on to say our bodies are not our own, that we were bought at a price, and so we are to honor God with our bodies. I read that and realize that when we don’t take care of our physical body, we are refusing to value something that is God’s possession. When we choose to not take care of it, we are choosing to not take care of something that belongs to God. Throughout history, temples have always been built with purpose and created to be a place of beauty where people can come to worship. Temples should be well taken care of, as they are a dwelling place for God to move. What if we saw our earthly bodies in the same lens? What if we consistently valued our body enough to give it the proper nutritional fuel and care it deserved?
God pulled back the curtain on this concept of physical and spiritual wellness about 4 years ago during graduate school. My life in grad school looked something like a juggler at a circus. Dozens of colored balls traveling in a circle, labeled as “straight A’s, volunteer, work, student teach, relationships, sleep, time with God, physical health.” Unfortunately, the “time with God” and “physical health” balls often bounced right out of my juggling routine.
I am not sure when the switch happened, but at some point I realized that I would not be successful post-grad if I didn’t get my physical health and spiritual walk in check. I felt like God was pushing me towards complete obedience in wellness. While I wasn’t totally sure what that was going to look like, I knew that I need to make room for God to show me how to properly take care of my physical body and make room for him to speak to me about what it meant to live deeply with Him each day.
Let me be clear in saying this was not an overnight transformation. Even 4 years later, this blend of physical and spiritual wellness is still something that I have to often submit back to the Lord to ensure I am still walking in obedience. However, that idea of “you are what you eat” could not be more accurate. I work as a health coach now (in addition to teaching) and my main focus is ensuring my clients can learn the importance of prioritizing those areas of wellness to see maximum progress. When we eat well and exercise every day, the brain functions better, metabolism and organs work efficiently, we have more energy and we are actively reducing our risk of chronic diseases. When we spiritually eat well, I believe we reap similar benefits: greater brain functioning reaps greater discernment, increased physical endurance leads to increased spiritual endurance for hardships, and heightened energy for our day-to-day activities heightens greater energy in believing God is working victories in our life. When our body is well, our soul is also well, too.
I want to leave you with a few healthy habits that I have implemented over the years that keep my temple physically and spiritually well each day.
Remember, God has IMMENSE GRACE for us. There is not an expectation to have perfect nutrition and never watch Netflix again. There is power in conviction for areas of your life that aren’t being fed in the right way, so take it just as that. God doesn’t want you to make room for condemnation, just room for you to treat your temple well and place God at the middle of your health so you can reap an amazing harvest.
Written by: Tori Fantasia, Health & PE Teacher, Wellness Coach
Song: Make Room by Jonathan McReynolds
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8 NLT
Though not physically tangible in and of itself, I’ve noticed that most people hold on dearly to hope. When we are hopeful about a situation, we are always talking about it. We are dreaming and we hold whatever precious thing near to our heart. We cling to it.
But what happens when your situation, your testimony, the order of life events, the sudden lack of faith or vision, the unanswered prayers, the doubt or the fatigue in believing for something for so long eats away at that hope you once held so tangibly to?
What do you do when you feel there’s nothing left to hope for?
Recently, I’ve been going through chemotherapy. It is currently one of the most enduring times I have ever experienced. It literally takes strength to get up every day. Though rough, every single day since starting my chemotherapy journey on January 8th, I’ve heard the song, “Never Lost” by All Nations. It has rung through my head when I wake up, when I’m in pain, when I feel like worshipping God, or when I feel like yelling at God because I have no idea why this is happening to me in the first place.
I love the lyrics because they ring true to God’s character in that He has never lost a battle before and He never will. That’s most of the song on repeat. It’s a reminder that God does not lose.
That has been my hope I hold on to when I feel like I can’t go on anymore - that God has a perfect score of winning ALL battles (big or small) and that He’ll never lose. That is what I sink my hook of hope into.
My encouragement to you is to guard your hope. Guard it like it is one of the most sacred jewels in your jewelry box protected by armor. If the enemy can snatch away your hope, it will take your perspective off of God and then you’ll walk around feeling defeated. A defeated, downcast life is not one that God has for us!
So, what do you do when you feel like there’s nothing left to hope for?
Written by: Roneka Spady, Every Nation Campus Minister, Divine Unity Community Church
Song: Never Lost by All Nations
Scripture: Isaiah 40:8 NLT
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9
While Nehemiah served as a cupbearer for a king, he was informed that his home, hundreds of miles away in Jerusalem, had been destroyed. The walls that protected the city were demolished and the gates had been burned down. Immediately, Nehemiah wept, prayed, and fasted before God. A burden for his people weighed on him, and he was granted favor with God to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem. The king released him to return back home, and he provided Nehemiah with an army of protection and other resources for the journey. Nehemiah left the comfort of the palace to fulfill a mission God placed on his heart. What I love about this story is God’s favor and provision over Nehemiah. When God calls us to fulfill a purpose, He will provide everything we need to complete it. In Jerusalem, Nehemiah recruit other men with a shared vision to help him rebuild. God gives him strategy and a team to restore the wall and protect the city.
Now, we all know that we have an adversary who doesn’t like to see God’s plan unfold. The enemy will try to stop us when we decide to live on mission, and we see that all throughout the book of Nehemiah. Three men, Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem, repeatedly try to interfere with the rebuilding of the wall. The used countless tactics to get him to come down from the wall. They mocked him, circulated slander, conspired to kill him, and other unrighteous ploys to distract him. But Nehemiah was a righteous man who knew God and obeyed His word. He knew God’s plan was a plan that could not be ignored nor abandoned. Throughout all of the attacks the enemy threw at Nehemiah, God gave him discernment, wisdom, and strength to withstand and fight against their schemes. Nehemiah did not lose focus of his mission despite the fiery darts that tried to take him out. The hurtful words and deception of Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem did not prevail, and the wall was rebuilt! Don’t let the enemy pull you down from your wall!
What is your “wall”? What burden has God placed on your heart to fix, resolve, or restore? Who are your “haters” (Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem) that keeps you from building? Whose lies are you believing about your calling? If you notice in the reading, Nehemiah never stopped what he was doing to correct or challenge what people were saying about him -- even when they were lying. He stayed focused. He didn’t write a passive aggressive post on Facebook, go moan and complain to a friend, or blast Taylor Swift’s song “Haters Gonna Hate” while secretly plotting his revenge. He was not frightened or anxious. He stayed the course. He drew near to God and prayed for strength. He unceasingly labored and gave his everything to something bigger than himself. In the end, the enemy was defeated.
The next time someone tries to pull you down will you respond by asking God for strength to continue the mission or will you react emotionally and take matters into your own hands?
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9
I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but I pray your eyes are open to the enemy’s attempt to pull you down from what God has called you to do! May your heart be fully submitted and yielded to God’s will. He will use you to accomplish His great works. You are needed, my friend. You are not discredited from the divine assignment no matter what your friends or family tell you. When you face opposition, I urge you to stay posted on the wall. Do the work God’s called you to do!
Song: "See A Victory" | Elevation Worship
Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His word] Hebrews 10:23 AMP
The week of my 31st birthday, I allowed disappointment to steal my joy, celebration, and belief in God. My mind was clouded with negative thoughts like “You are still alone. You were supposed to be married by now. Your hopes and desires aren’t going to come true. Can you trust God?” These thoughts were seeds to emotional turmoil I felt for three straight days. I was believing the enemy’s lies about the things I was seeing externally; not understanding the pronounced impact those beliefs were having on me inside.
Romans 8:5-6 says Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. God revealed to me that my mind was set on things of the flesh -- my earthly desires and expectations -- not God’s goodness and faithfulness. It led to feeling a great deal of disappointment --“ sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one's hopes or expectations”. My disappointment was birthed by the realization that my desires, His promises, and the prophetic words over my life had not happened when I had expected them to; specifically, the desires of marriage and motherhood. I mourned the unmet expectations of my life, and admittedly, I briefly lost hope.
We often have to wait on the Lord for things we long to see happen in life. I am still praying for the salvation of family members, freedom in my finances, and of course, some hard rock abs and chiseled arms. But when disappointment accompanies us in life’s waiting room -- it can be a dark place. If we hold too tightly to our expectations (especially in long periods of waiting), we will lose sight of GOD and only see empty rooms and closed doors. Our hearts can become heavy with the void instead of full of hope in Him.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14
Perhaps, you have been where I was just last week. There is something you are longing for, there’s a character trait you are hoping to develop, or a sin pattern you are wanting to break; and the lack of those desires has brought you into despair, displeasure, or the mourning of hopes. It has brought you into a DEEP moment of UNBELIEF. Your foundation is no longer God’s truth, but in your unbelief in His truths. When disappointment doesn’t act solely as an emotional compass to notify our head and heart of where we are emotionally -- it can easily become an endless stream of deception.
Disappointment deceives us when any one of these six statements below becomes our truth. I encourage you to break agreement with and repent from the sins associated with these beliefs.
I have not perfected the ability to continuously align my beliefs and thoughts to God’s, but thankfully, I was able to recognize the enemy’s influence and my own participation in these deceptive thoughts. As a result, the Lord revealed to me key truths that helped me to remove the distraction of disappointment.
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. Hebrews 11:1 (MSG)
You will always be disappointed when your desires and expectations are outside of God’s will for your life. When your foundation is in Him, you will remain true to His promises, His timing, His desires, and His truth. His ways are far better than our own. He has not given up on you, so don’t give up on Him! Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
No other time in my life have I been this convinced that His promises for my life are still true. In the meantime, I will do my very best to focus on my assignment and live a purpose-filled life. I refuse to be distracted any longer -- I hope you will, too.
Song: Prophesy Your Promise by Bryan and Katie Torwalt
See a list of scriptures to meditate on when feeling disappointed
God will reveal our areas of brokenness and bruises in order for us to live in wholeness and spiritual wellness. He desires is to heal us and lead us to His way everlasting. Exposing places of hurt is painful, but it is in the place of exposure where God comforts us and receive healing.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow]. Psalm 147:3 AMP
When you are finally able to look in the past and see the broken pieces as stepping-stones towards a greater way of living - your heart will feel lighter, your mind clearer, and your spirit stronger. When you are moving forward through the hurt and disappointment, and into the depths of joy and healing - your laughs become more frequent, smiles more radiant, and love for life deeper. When you can pray to God and say "Here I am, Lord. I am Yours, and all I need is Your love, Your acceptance, Your friendship, Your approval, Your affection, Your strength" …and you truly believe this with every ounce of your soul - then you've won.
Some of us have been buried in our broken pieces for so long that we’ve lost sight of God’s word. The promise of healing becomes this distant hope. Friends, I pray you find HOPE again. I pray you BELIEVE again. Healing is your birthright as a child of God, and the truth is GOD DESIRES YOU TO BE HEALED! He sent His son to bind up the broken hearted. That’s you and me. Your wounds are not too deep for a God who loves you deeply.
“Beloved, I will strengthen you and I will help you. I determine the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Like I care for the stars, I care for you. Step aside and allow me to put the pieces back together. I am here and healing will be yours. Simply put, I love you - brokenness and all.” Your Heavenly Father
Psalm 23 informs us that Jesus is our shepherd -- a reference to John chapter 10 when it says He is the good shepherd and we are His sheep. This Psalm affirms the loving actions of Christ, our Shepherd.
At my previous church, the pastor would literally pour anointing oil on our foreheads during altar call. I would leave the altar not knowing what to do! Is it disrespectful to rub it off? …Because I’m pretty sure it’s about to run all the way down to my cheekbones. Although, it can be a comical thing to imagine (for me - I’ll admit), I wish I had the reverence for this spiritual practice back then like I do now.
A basic definition of anoint is to smear or rub. Real sheep herders or shepherds actually do this with their flocks. They smear this remedy of oil over the sheep’s heads in order to keep bugs from crawling into their ears which would severely harm the animal. Without this oil, the sheep would be defenseless to pests and insects. So, the oil would act like a repellent. Jesus knows we need a heavenly repellent in our lives to keep away the demonic pests from around us! Shepherds protect their sheep from the big bad wolves that we can clearly see, down to the tiniest pests that our eyes and spiritual sensitivity may miss.
And with this, I heard the Lord say, “I have sent you a Good Shepherd. He is always right there by your side, tending to your needs, and in Him you lack nothing. He protects you from the biggest of threats to the smallest of infections. Some of you can get too focused on the BIG problems that the small flies of your lives can often go unnoticed. Pesky things like your anger, negative self-talk, or response to hurt. These things can plant seeds in your ear like shame, doubt, worry, and fear -- causing spiritual complications. But I am here to protect you from all of it! You are safe and secure. I anoint your head with my holy oil because, beloved, I care for My sheep. Now, you may be a little greasy and shiny afterwards, but you are divinely marked with My hedge of protection. I will be your defense and I will fight for you. You need only to be still and rest with Me.” (Psalm 23, Exodus 14:14)
Picture Jesus right now squatting away the enemy’s plans like flies! Picture Jesus pouring oil over you in an act of protection. Perhaps, you know exactly what lies and attacks you’ve tried to protect yourself against. Open your hands, surrender your control, and give yourself permission to be cared for by the Good Shepherd.
1 A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
I’m standing on the sidewalk of a busy street with cars racing back and forth. I’m stuck in both fear and anger as my god son defiantly walks into the busy street. As I roar over the noise of the cars, “Come back over here right now!” using the best authoritarian-auntie voice I could, he stops, looks at me with this look that’s both innocent and mischievous, then turns and continues to walk to the other side of the road. Prayfully, he makes it to the other side without getting run over.
Frustrated, I run down the sidewalk and wait for the sea of moving cars to no longer be a barrier between us. I cross the street already contemplating in my mind how I’d take advantage of the spanking…I mean “discipline” privileges his parents allotted me. I pull him up close to me really quickly, grip his dark blue hoodie, kneel down until my eyes meet his, and begin to express my concern for his rebellious acts -- using only my words. I forfeited my spanking privileges and decided that a strong talking-to, cased in loving words, were most appropriate for this four-year-old.
Seconds later, I wake up from this dream. I laid in bed recalling the intricate and vivid scenes of the night, and unsurprisingly, my Heavenly Father spoke to me about this particular dream involving my rebellious god son.
And the Lord said,
“Indeed, my dear child, this is you. Recently, you have been trying to avoid Me calling after you. You have attempted to hide in the busyness of your life and responsibilities thinking the noise would drown out My calling. You know full well that you are running away in disobedience, and yet fear propels you further away from My reach. My child, my eyes will always be fixed on you; ensuring your safety and care regardless of your stubbornness. I will be right there to snatch you up and bring you into my presence. I will meet you where you are. For you have been called specifically for My mission. I love you too much not to pursue you even as you run in the opposite direction of your purpose, place, and position. Will you stop running? Will you hide in my everlasting, relentless love? I will be waiting. Love, Your Heavenly Father.”
As I reflected on His words so graciously spoken over me, I became overwhelmed by His perfect heart that calls to me and speaks security and love over me. I will be the first to admit that I have run away from a few assignments the Lord’s placed in my path – or at least I have tried. For me, I typically ignore him and distract myself with work and busyness. Can anyone else relate? I often use the excuse that I am doing for God already. Why, how, or when will I be able to add in this “extra” assignment. Ha! Like He really NEEDS me to do anything. And yet, He calls me anyway.
God pursues us so fervently despite the fact that we may, and oftentimes do, disobey Him. He calls us to partner with Him – to be His hands and feet. Not because He needs us, but because He wants us. Because He knows what’s good for us. This is His character. He is father, and no matter how much we kick, scream, slam doors, pout, or pretend we don’t hear Him, He will always be there – prepared to shower us with forgiveness, courage, and reassurance. The Lord is ready and willing to always take us back. Are you done running?
Hebrews 3:18-19 says, “And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So, we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.”
It was very clear I had been a rebel and thankfully God would not allow it! I avoided His invitation to share my writing publicly for years. I hid in the lies that it wouldn’t be good enough and no one would want to hear anything I had to say. I convinced myself that any wisdom God wanted me pour into others through a public platform was already being communicated to people by another committed Christian. Why repeat? What difference would it make coming from me? What could I add to the world that isn’t already being provided? These thoughts produced fear, doubt, and unbelief; so, I ignored God’s call to act. I was disobedient and I realized it was because I didn’t believe God would do what He said He could. I, unfortunately, made an agreement with unbelief.
What assignment, mission, or directive has God given you? Where have you allowed unbelief to settle in?
The seed of disobedience is unbelief and the fruit of disobedience is separation from our Father. When we fail to honor God with our compliance and submission, we create distance between ourselves and the trinity. We slowly lose sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s counsel, Jesus’s voice becomes more and more faint, and God’s presence is less and less tangible. We mustn’t allow ourselves to hide in the current responsibilities of our lives thinking, “Well, God. Aren’t I already doing enough?!” We mustn’t allow pride or fear to steal our belief in His power to complete the work He began in us.
Is that calling too big for you? Absolutely! Are you really ill-equipped for this new promotion? Perhaps! Will you make some of the same mistakes your mother did as a parent? Quite possibly! But how amazing and glorious is it that He doesn’t call the qualified but qualifies the called! He is doing the work. We are His vessels! Bless the Lord that we have a Father in Heaven who desires us to participate in His plans, and guess what? He’s going to do the work through you!
Will you just take the small step toward obedience as I did and trust Him? Be humbled that He not only desires to use you, but He will equip you each and every step of the way. All He calls you to do is walk. Take that first step. Sure, go kicking and screaming. You can go palms sweaty, knees weak, and arms heavy. Just go. Your Father is waiting.
My prayer for you is that He facilitates an opportunity to speak to you concerning your call to action. For me, He speaks to me through dreams. For you, it may be through a scripture, a mentor, a sermon, or conviction by the Holy Spirit. Listen for Him. Seek Him. Remove the distractions that keep you from being still long enough to know His voice. If you’re one of those children of God who tells Him “no” a lot, I pray He will give you a new heart and new spirit; removing the spirit of disobedience and giving you a heart that is responsive to His call. A heart that says yes even when you don’t see the whole puzzle. And personally, the best way I knew to accomplish such a task is to ABIDE. For I cannot bear fruit in and of myself unless I am connected to the True Vine…and neither can you.
Some of you are right at the edge of a breakthrough and answered prayer. You’ve experienced long periods of resistance, and have come up against hardships, challenges, and struggles. You decided to keep going, but then resistance became a secondary antagonist to the weariness covering you. And it’s right there, in dark exhaustion, you would want to stop, quit, and slack off; refusing to move through the force that’s pushing back at you -- but you mustn’t! You have to keep pushing!
Joseph, the son of Jacob, was betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused, taken to prison, and then forgotten. For thirteen years, Joseph experienced a unique dichotomy between suffering and favor. Even in his hardships and bondage, he was graced with relief through God’s repeated favor. But the relief wasn’t the resolve.
The resolve is in the breakthrough.
When Pharaoh appointed him as a ruler over Egypt, he was no longer enslaved. He was appointed and anointed the second in command to Pharaoh. It was that very moment was Joseph’s rightful breakthrough. (Genesis Chapters 37-45)
I believe the Lord is saying that some of you are experiencing the pitfalls of life, and throughout your journey there have been some breaks of relief (God’s favor). But then you find yourself right back enthralled by life’s circumstances. You are currently at the point where you may not be experiencing any pause. Lately, there hasn’t been any Joseph moments of becoming a head officer of the king’s home or chief jailer in Pharaoh’s prison. And it’s right there, in the dark exhaustion, you would want to give up. The Lord is saying DON’T! Your breakthrough is right around the corner. Do not settle for the breaks or pauses. For in My proper time, I will break the veil of adversity on your behalf. I have anointed and appointed you to be more than a chief or an officer. I am bringing you RESOLVE.
My friends, if this is your season of pushing through, you may be at the very last leg of the race. Whenever you feel resistance, push back and keep going. We often throw in the towel too soon; not knowing that we’ve almost arrived. You are almost there. Don’t give up!
“So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up or quit.” Galatians 6:9 MSG
“See, I have inscribed your name on the palms of My hands.”
You are a permanent thought to the Lord. Not once has He forgotten your name; and you are not too far from His reach. He desires to be close to you and for you to fall deeper into His all-consuming love. Fear has prevented you from experiencing the fullness of His provision, and unbelief has propelled you away from His Truth. He is asking, “Will you let go of the worry and look up to see Me - I am here. My love and attention are gifts you don’t have to fight for. I see you. I am beside you. I long to be near you.”
“See, I have inscribed your name on the palms of My hands.” You are engraved into the thickness of Jesus’ skin and it can never be erased. Not even your sins can wash away the inscription. In His hands, you are claimed, protected, and secure. He will never separate Himself from you. Will you trust Him? Will you believe that He is the Good Father who’s given Himself to you? Will you surrender your own ways and allow Him to be the Way? Will you let go of the control that petitions to take over His design for your life? Will you let Him fill that void?
He says, “Forgotten is not your truth. Rejected is not your name. Abandonment is not your portion. I have called you Chosen, Adopted, and a Holy Possession. This is the truth I urge you to capture. Because I have not forgotten you. See, look at the wounds of My hands. Your name, My beloved, is written there.”
Without pause, God has thought of you. Search Him in the stillness of your soul. Sit with Him. Allow your ears to be pressed against His lips. He is not too far from you and you are not too far gone. He is calling you to come.
Will you take hold of the very hand He carved your name into?
In 2019, the focal theme God gave me was “She Kept Pouring”. It comes from the biblical story about a widow and a jar of oil written in II Kings 4. In this passage, the woman cried out to the prophet Elisha saying that her husband had died, and she had incurred all of his debt. This widow had no money and became fearful that she would have to offer up her two sons as indentured servants in order to pay off the debt.
Elisha responded to her cry, “Tell me...What do you have in your home?” She answered, “Nothing, but a small jar of olive oil.” Elisha then instructed her to ask her neighbors for empty jars and to not just ask for a few. He then said, “Go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour the oil into all the jars (or vessels) and as each one is filled, set it aside.”
The widow with the small jar of oil did as she was told. She collected jars from her neighbors, went home, closed the door behind her and her sons, and her sons brought the jars to her...and she kept pouring. When there were no more jars, the oil stopped. She went to tell Elisha and he said, “Go and sell the oil to pay back your debt, and there will be an overflow for you and your sons to live on the rest.”
If there were two words to describe my last year, it would be “Closed Doors”.
Last year in January, God led me to the widow’s testimony, and He spoke three words: Sustain (Endure), Maintain, and Gain. As I reflected on 2019, I realized that I was in a season of sustaining. A few definitions of sustain reads “to endure without giving up; to keep going; to continue for an extended period of time without interruption”. The definition of endurance that I liked reads “the power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult situation without giving way”.
I’m not sure how many neighbors the widow had to talk to, nor do I know how many jars she collected. My guess is a lot. She had to walk all over her neighborhood and carry the jars back to her home. I can only imagine how long it took her to just begin the task especially without quality transportation. Endurance. She then had to pour and pour and pour and pour the oil into each and every jar. Endurance. The Lord spoke to me saying that 2019 would be a year of me pouring and pouring and pouring. He will build my endurance and be my strength for what I’ve been called to do and build my character for who He’s called me to be.
I cannot express how badly I’ve wanted to give up this past year in various areas of my life. It was draining and exhausting. It also increased my anxiety and depression. It felt like I was running on a treadmill with no breaks, and every so often, my Heavenly Coach would increase my speed and incline. I'd reach a maxout and He'd be there saying "Go! Pour! Don't give up." And folks, I wanted to. But this widow who had lost everything -- her husband, her possessions, and was on the verge of losing her sons -- she didn’t give up.
She kept pouring.
It was behind a closed door that God provided for this woman, saved her sons from slavery, and encouraged her to have faith; knowing that He can do exceedingly more than she could ask, think, or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). I believe 2019 was not only a year of building my endurance, but a year of testing my FAITH. There were many prayers answered this year; countless things to celebrate and be thankful for. However, many of the answered prayers and high hopes were followed by closed doors. Whether my attempt to restore a familial relationship, decision to purchase a house, battle to overcome depression, or the start of a new relationship; the outcomes resulted in anger and resentment, anxiety and denied offers, continued recommendation of medication, and unexpected bruised emotions. It sucks and it’s painful, but the encouragement is that I chose to live on the basis of my faith not my feelings. I took risks and leaps of faith, and my Father honors that.
“Taking a step of faith doesn’t mean there’ll be no pain, and just because pain exists doesn’t mean you are defeated.” DeVantae Dews, Divine Unity Community Church - ENC Leader
You see, God loves me through closed doors. I know some people may not understand. We are supposed to be hopeful, expectant, and yearn for open doors. But I find there’s this one-sided view of favor. God’s blessings aren’t always pretty nor wrapped up in positivity. Jesus dying on the cross for our sins is a great example of this. Therefore, if our only frame of reference of God’s blessings are open doors, healed hearts, and times of joy - we will miss it. We will miss the beauty of God’s love, intentionality, and care of our souls. We must gain the awareness that God’s love for us comes in a variety of packages - the pretty and the ugly. I’ve learned to appreciate the ugly blessings - maybe even more than those advantageously wrapped. God loves me through the conflict, struggles, and obstacles. So, I get excited about the inaccessibility of closed doors! Closed doors are God’s kisses on my cheek because I know without a shadow of a doubt, He is working out everything for my good!
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
My faith in God overrides what I experience here on this earth. And every mile I have walked to collect my jars, and all of the oil I’ve poured without stopping has been a test of faith. I’m not sure I’d be able to stand firmly in joy and contentment in 2020 if I didn’t endure the hardships of 2019. My hope, faith, and trust are in His processes and promises.
Now, I would be lying if I said I didn’t ask God “why”’. "Why give me the gift I’ve prayed for only to have it taken away? Why tell me to go only to have me stop? Why haven't I overcame this yet - You promised?!" I’m sure I’m not alone in questioning God. In the scripture, you’ll notice there wasn’t one time the woman questioned Elisha. She didn’t ask why jars, why my neighbors and not the flea market, why can't I just ask for a few - I don't want to be a burden, why do I have to shut the door, why use the only oil I have left. There were no questions, excuses, or bargaining like many of us do today in our earthy relationships. She committed herself in faith to Elisha’s instruction knowing that God’s provision and His strength was be her portion.
This revelation changed the posture of my heart and my dialogue with God. What I desire more than figuring out the reasons why crap happened to me is the reassurance and revelation my Father gives in spite of. The reassurance that He still loves me, He has not left me, His promises are still true, that I’m still worthy of love, I am enough, I am not too much, and that my PURPOSE IS STILL INTACT. We cannot hang our hearts on others nor put our confidence in people. People disappoint, and your response should not be based on the person or the thing that hurt you. Let’s not give power to the enemy through how our flesh wants to respond. Empower your spirit by responding with praise and thanksgiving.
You can always tell where your foundation lies based on how you respond and react to life’s circumstances. If your foundation is in Christ Jesus, the firm foundation, you will not waver, and your heart will not harden. Instead, your response will be joy and the pouring out of your worship and praise onto our Heavenly Father. When you worship in the weather, it doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t terrible, and it doesn’t mean you can’t cry or want to throw a chair across the room. (Healthy ways of dealing are important, folks!!) But when you choose to worship, it loosens the enemy’s grip, it gives your heart permission to accept the oil of joy instead of mourning - because if your hands are lifted high in praise - you can give your wounded heart permission to let go of the pain and place it in the hands of the Pain Reliever. He loves to have your worship, along with your tears; and through it all, He is faithful and just.
Romans 12:12 "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
There were a lot of answered prayers in 2019; followed by people walking away, crushed hopes, and promises being unfulfilled. But Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold unswervingly [and maintain] the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” This is my scripture for 2020. I’m hanging my heart on His faithfulness and truth. To maintain an unwavering faith in Jesus and the promises He has for me!
I don’t know what horrible things happened to you last year. Perhaps, you’ve had to conjure up “the power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult situation without giving way” just like me. I know that God will provide the revelation to you in His timing; and like the widow with the oil, your faith will not only give you enough to get through, but there will be an abundance left over to sustain you for life. Behind a closed door is the incentive and empowerment to choose Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.
Could you treat your closed doors as a blessing and an opportunity to be the trusting, empty vessel, He longs to pour into? #BeEncouraged
Scripture: 2 Kings 4