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Peace Beyond Understanding

Credit: @transformingloveministries,org

Reposted / Written By Elaine A. Lankford @transformingloveministries.org

So there I was, lying on a hospital stretcher in the emergency room, just a few weeks out from the first ever women’s conference my team and I were hosting. The team and I had been planning this event for 11 months, people had paid for tickets, speakers and bands were lined up, and here I was in pain and unable to comprehend what the next 24 hours would hold.

For almost 3 years I had been battling with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease similar to Crohn’s but with better outcomes. Every medication the physician treating me tried begin failing after a while. And then toward the end of February and the beginning of March, it became obvious that my body was crashing under the weight of this disease.

But that night in the emergency room, with all the chaos surrounding me, I was at peace. I was incredibly uncomfortable, but peace filled me. From the moment I stepped through the emergency doors, through the admission to one hospital and then a transfer to a second hospital, right before surgery and immediately after, His presence was so evident that I was at peace with what was happening.

Oh, in my younger years, I would have been freaking out!!! But now, having walked with God through several ups and downs, I am have learned – when the situation spins out of control, let go and let God!

Paul, who knew a thing or two about wrestling with difficulties, tells us in Philippians 4:7:

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. NLT

But wait, what is Paul’s instruction before the “Then” in this verse? I am glad you ask! Paul states:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6 NLT

Ah, there it is. I wonder how many times we wrestle to find peace, but forget to ask God to come into the process. Letting go and letting God is not an easy mindset to obtain. It takes practice, it takes commitment, and it is something we must choose to do. But don’t miss the second part of it. We need to thank Him for all He has already done. If God has ever carried you through a storm, that memory is what will help you through the next one. Oh, but how easily we forget what our great and powerful God has done for us. It is so imperative that we remind ourselves over and over again what He has already accomplished. It builds our faith and when our faith is built upon a thankful heart, God will always be there standing in the gap for us!

This past week I have been reading the book of Daniel. Daniel’s faith in God was so evident that those in the kingdom of Babylon, where Daniel was exiled, attempted to use it against him and have him killed. See, Daniel had the gift of revealing dreams and this gained him great favor with the king. He was promoted to a high ranking position within the kingdom. But the Babylonian officials of the king could not bare the thought of a Jewish young man outranking them. Since they could find no wrong in Daniel, these pagan worshipers crafted a plan to use Daniel’s faith in God against him.

These unhappy souls convinced the reigning king, King Darius, to sign into law that for 30 days everyone in the kingdom must worship the king himself. Anyone caught breaking this law would be killed.

And Daniel’s response? Daniel 6 tells us this:

But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Daniel 6:10 NLT

Daniel’s faith was indeed built on a grateful heart.

When the Babylonian officials found him praying, certain that their plan had worked, they immediately took Daniel to the king and demanded that he be punished as the law decreed. Reluctantly, the king agreed and Daniel was thrown into a den of loins. But when the king went back the next morning, this fierce den of lions was filled with peace. And there Daniel sat among these majestic creatures unharmed! Daniel had carried the peace that passes all understanding into that den of lions and the Lord protected him.

In awe of the great and mighty God of Daniel, the king releases Daniel and restores him to his position. The king then takes the Babylonians officials who plotted against Daniel and threw not only them, but their entire families, into the lions’ den. When that happened, no peace remained in the den and the lions consumed those who had been thrown in with them (Daniel 6).

When hard times come, which part of the story reflects your life more? Are you walking peacefully with God, thanking Him for what He has done? Or are you feeling trapped with your anxiety in a den of lions who are ready to pounce?

From the moment I opened my eyes after surgery, I knew God had delivered me from a disease that was holding me back. And I was grateful! The relief that I felt after surgery, minus some incisional pain, was all I needed to know that things were going to work out. A little less than 3 weeks later, we pulled that conference off. But I knew, standing on that stage, who had allowed me to recover in such a beautiful fashion so that I could indeed participate as planned and that peace has carried me the rest of the year.

I pray that in whatever you may be going through that God’s peace with fill you today.

Father God, teach us to lean into the process of learning how to receive Your peace. Tug at our hearts Lord when we forget to be grateful for all that You have already done. And help us to remember that the One who created the lion is also the One that can shut the lion’s mouth when he tries to consume us. In Christ’s name, I pray. Amen.

Founder, Transforming Love Ministries

Creator, She Steps Forward Women’s Conference

For more of Elaine’s story, you can find Love Echoed Back: I Cried Out; He Answered on amazon.com.

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PAIN: WHERE DO I BEGIN?

Reposted from Transforming Love Ministries / By Elaine A. Lankford / Article Written by Stacha Ashburn @transformingloveministries.org

Do I take it from a physical perspective? I have had pins in my right hip since I was thirteen years old. After the pin placement, I shattered my hip. The healing process caused my right leg to be shorter than my left leg. This in turn has caused back pain, neck pain, jaw pain, and knee pain that I still manage through today.

Do I take it from a mental perspective? I have been verbally assaulted all my life.

Do I take it from an emotional perspective? Thirty years I was hiding behind a mask, presenting what I assumed everyone wanted to receive. I was too broken to reveal the real me, so I created fantasies to keep from killing myself.

Do I take it from a social perspective? For so long, I couldn’t root myself into any community because I didn’t know how to push through the pain that comes with any authentic relationship, so I ran.

Do I take it from a financial perspective? My entire life I have never wanted for anything. I wore my heart on my sleeve and gave to folks until I couldn’t give no more. I have always had A-1 credit until one day I went to swipe, and I couldn’t swipe no more. The realization of being in over $100,000 of credit card debt alone grieved me!

Do I take it from a sexual perspective? I have had the unimaginable happen to me. I have stepped outside the covenant of my marriage in my space of dysfunction.

Or do I take it from a spiritual perspective? I assumed coming to Christ was going to be rainbows and kittens! That in my spiritual journey, I wouldn’t be caught up in conflict. I wouldn’t be hurt. That I would present myself to Christ and to HIS church and all the pain and negativity I had ever went through, I would never go through again. Now don’t get me wrong, Jesus Christ is a healer and every one of us needs to be connected to a local body of the Church. With that said, connection itself is not enough. It’s a process! Father God restores us all through different processes.

What I see now, on the other side of all the pain I have been through and still function through, is He will use it all for His good.

God isn’t in the business of wasting one single tear. His Word promises us in Psalm 56:8 that He has kept track of all our wandering and weeping. That He has stored up all our many tears in His bottle. Not one will be lost. For every tear is recorded in God’s book of remembrance.

We so often avoid working through the pain instead of growing through it. We want to be like Job’s wife. We simply want the pain to be over. What if, instead, we would PUSH (Pray Until Something Happens) through the pain to meet its purpose on the other side.

I wonder at what point Job realized that his tragedy wasn’t going to be over very quickly. That he was going to have to settle in for a long period of suffering. Yet his faith did not waver.

I believe that there’s a way to find joy in the suffering. It’s all in how we respond. We don’t control the cards life deals us, but we do control how we choose to play them. Attitude is everything in the pain management world. It can have a profound effect on how quickly we recover.

In Matthew 26:33-35, Peter is confident that he won’t be offended by Jesus even when Jesus predicts that Peter will deny him. In the King James Version, it reads, “though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” Pain often causes us to feel offended by God. That’s why we all need an “eternal perspective” adjustment at times, so we can see the good in discomfort. In every circumstance, the disciples would return to Christ, leaving any offense behind. Yet, sometimes as Christians, we don’t realize this is part of the spiritual battle we face, and we can be angry at God for years.

Questioning God is not the problem, but stumbling, falling away, and staying away are. God calls us to get in the ring and wrestle with Him. When we are going through pain at any level, He wants us to present our real selves to Him. We are not “always” blessed and highly favored. There are times we are ticked off and tired of feeling like everyone and everything is messing with us. If that is where you are, then meet God there.

During these times, not only is it important to come to God in authentic posture, but it’s important that you realize who you are doing life with, your inner circle is so vital. Having people around you that will pray with you, stay with you, and lock arms with you through the storms of life matters. The enemy wants to silo us or keep us in a circle of toxic people that birth death. Everything touches everything!

If you are someone who finds yourself isolated: Heavenly Father, I pray that You will lead my sister to someone, or lead someone to her, that is led by Your light, Your way, and Your truth, to do life in community with.

If you are in a toxic circle right now: Jesus Christ, we come to You and ask You to wash this circle in Your blood. Clean and purify them. If those in the circle won’t adhere to the mandate of true repentance and turn from their broken ways, reveal them to our sister and help her to release them. Help my sister to find restoration regarding whatever hurt she has in her life that is causing her to stew in such a dangerous space.

If you are thriving in a healthy circle of life-giving friends: Lord, we say thank you! Keep us thriving, not just surviving, and help us to remain in a space of wellness despite our circumstances. In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen!

Written by Stacha Ashburn

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Transforming Lives Through Love

Announcement…

I will be sharing more and more inspiring and motivational blog posts, encouraging graphic images, and exciting events as they become available from my favorite women’s ministry, Transforming Love Ministries.

Transforming Love Ministries is a sisterhood of women whose mission is to inspire, motivate, and coach other women while encouraging them across Hampton Roads, Virginia, the Nation, and the World.

Here are a couple events that are already scheduled:

They have a scheduled missions trip to Africa in February of 2020, and mark your calendars for their 2nd Annual “She Steps Forward with Grace” Women’s Conference scheduled for March 26-28, 2020 (tickets go on sale Oct 1, 2019).

You can directly follow them on their website at: Transformingloveministries.org #transformingloveministries