Monday, March 14, 2011

Torn in Two & Soli Deo Gloria Link-up

Welcome, Soli Deo Gloria Sisters!  I'm so glad to see your faces and meet some new ones as well.  This is a place of encouragement and blessing, and it is my prayer that you always feel welcome here.  If you are new (anyone is welcome), please read here for the heart behind this meme and some general guidelines (the button is to your right).  I hope you are blessed on your page and leave blessings for others, as well.  Also, if you would like to be put on the Soli Deo Gloria email list, please leave your contact information below in the comments.

My call to speak actually started last October when I attended the Women of Joy Conference in San Antonio.  It was in that place that God told me if I wanted to be "one in a million," (see Priscilla Shirer's book One in a Million) I needed to get busy learning His Word, His Heart, and His people.  It also meant a season of sacrifice and surrender.  The following post was born out of that.  You'll find it on my blog back from October, but I feel that because it signifies the real start of s(He) Listens, I wanted to share it again with those of you who may not have seen it then.  It is also the guest post over at Mindy's place today.  Thank you, Mindy, for having me.  I can't wait to get to know you better!  Here it is:

The waves were rough that day.

I had little Hannah standing next to me in the calf-deep water.  Grannie was sitting in front of me, in water that was just a hair shallower.  We chatted.  We laughed.  And we didn't notice the wave behind us.  All of the sudden we were smacked with a large, unexpected wave that lifted Hannah off her feet and nearly knocked my 88-pound grandmother under the water.  Hannah had already been holding my hand, but since her feet no longer found footing on the ocean floor, the rip tide was carrying her north.  I tightened my grip on her and lunged for my grandmother to help her keep her head above water.  I had two people who did not have enough strength to battle the wave and undertow on their own, clinging to me.  My arms were outstretched, one pulled north and one pulled south.  My heels dug into the sand beneath me and I held on as tight as I could, desperate to save them both.  The wave passed and everyone righted themselves, hearts beating quickly, relief settling in.

During my quiet time this morning, God replayed this event in my mind.  As I looked back at my physical being in that moment, I saw my arms extended in a straight line, each hand 180 degrees away from the other.  I saw a cross behind me.  And in some sort of weird image that only God can make in order to show His point, I saw myself super-imposed on that cross.  I was a sacrifice trying desperately to save two souls, unworried about myself, sure of my footing, but scared for my daughter and my grandmother.

No, I'm not saying I'm Jesus.  Not even close.  What I think God was asking me was if I was willing to sacrifice my life for those who have not chosen Him.  Would I choose to endure waves of pain so that someone else might find life eternal?  Then, would I not only live through the pain, but would I be able to eventually choose joy, despite the circumstances?

Can I really lay all that I have down at Your throne?  Can I trust You with all that I have and allow You to use me to the fullest extent possible to win souls for You?

Can I let You use my children?  Can I let You have my husband?  Can I give You free rein over our financial stability?  Can I give You my health?  My house?  My jobs?  Will I offer up everything, knowing that I might lose it all, to bring You more glory?  Will I willingly seek and find the joy and the presence of Your Hand, no matter what this life may bring?

At the Woman of Joy conference that I attended last weekend, the recurring theme was finding joy in the midst of the most tragic suffering.  Steven Curtis Chapman spoke about losing his five year-old daughter.  Carol Kent spoke about her son being sentenced to life in prison for committing first-degree murder.  Becky Tirabassi spoke about being a teenage alcoholic and her husband's battle with cancer.  All these trials.  All this suffering.  And yet, here they were, allowing God to use these things to win souls for Christ.  They weren't martyrs.  They were the embodiment of joy because they were living out their purpose.  In the midst of it all, at some point, they trusted that God was with them and would lead them, in the end, to victory.

Will I be willing to take the risk to actively surrender my life so that God can use it to the fullest extent possible?  Will I die to myself, to my dreams and do whatever heart work it takes to finish the race strong and in His name?  Will it be for His glory alone and not for a drop of mine?  Will I risk feeling as though I am being torn in two in order to be a part of the most amazing victory in the end?

I don't know if this act of surrender will end in the type of pain these people experienced.  I don't believe that God caused these horrible things to happen, but I do think He allowed them to happen so that these amazing people would testify to the power and divine surprises that He gives us in this world.  The truth is that there will always be suffering on this earth as we now know it.  There will always be pain.  It is what we do with that suffering and pain that has the possibility to reveal God's powerful and amazing love, grace, and mercy.

Would you risk it all for Him?

"That evening Jesus' disciples went down to the shore to wait for him.  But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn't come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum.  Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough.  They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat.  They were terrified, but he called out to them.  'Don't be afraid.  I am here!'  Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!"  John 6: 16-21


  1. good to read again, especially the last about "i do believe He allowed these things to happen...". true. i want to think on that.
    love ya!

  2. I'm new here, but I've been lurking for a little while. I look forward to being part of this community.

  3. I love how when you're seeking God you see him in every situation. Thanks for sharing this moving post.

  4. I love how God speaks to each of us. For the more creative He often gives imagery and words.... He is so good to us.

    Beautiful parallel Jen.... and beautiful post.


  5. I love your arms extended image, and it has me wondering if maybe when I feel impossibly pulled in opposite directions somehow that's when God has me right where He wants me.

  6. Life is a series of trials. It's in trusting Him that we are lead to great things. Thank you Jen for sharing with us and allowing us to have a venue to share with each other.

  7. Speaking volumes into the depths of this girls heart right now. Thank you for your challenging words. God is speaking through you. Thank you for allowing Him.

    @BFM, what you said is one of the most astounding truths I can't get over. He is everywhere - it's the seeing we struggle with!

  8. Jen, well you are right heart-to-heart with that deep cry of mine...though, I fall so short, everything you wrote here just said, 'AMEN SISTER! YES! YOU! ME! LET'S RUN THIS JOURNEY LONG FOR HIM! COME WHAT MAY!'

    I also thought of 'the Fellowship of the Unashamed.' that I first read in college (i think it's by an African pastor martyred for his faith) and now have been hearing again and want to put it somewhere on my blog. You can google will give you goosebumps! and make your soul tingle...yes!!! oh, and LOVE U!

  9. Would I choose to endure waves of pain so that someone else might find life eternal? That is a loaded question. I find myself wrestling with this question because years ago I would more quickly voice to Him that I would...much like Peter..Lord I would never deny you.
    With is so weak and selfish and when the winds blow pain hard and you really do feel the fingers of losing things that you hold dear you begin to question and there in begins our wrestling with God.
    Steven Curtis Chapman is beautiful really broke me. Hard Eucharisteo yes? I mean, it is when life does take the things our hearts love that we find out what we are made of. Wonder if that is one reason why beauty can come from ashes....
    love your words Jen...very moving...we are flesh, He is God and that is so HUGE..

  10. Those are tough questions and this is a thought provoking post! When I find myself getting fearful of letting go, fearful of what will happen, fearful of trials, I think on John 16:33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

  11. Agree with Christy - love the imagery. He does that and I love it...

    And yes...His ways are not our ways - He invariably always, always uses the bad to reap some good. He never fails.

    Beautiful words, friend.

    Natalie at Mommy on Fire

  12. Jen, I got word this morning that my sister passed away last night. I don't quite feel like linking up per se, but I have written a memorial of sorts. It reflects my perspective as I watched Martha become more withdrawn during the last weeks of her illness. Anyone who wants to read it can follow my "janicejohnson" link. The post is called "Truest Life." I hope it will be a comfort to someone.
    Love to all my Sisters!

  13. The imagery, Jen, and the message for yourself and for the rest of us, is so powerful. I love to read what God has shown you through the images of your own life.

    Therefore, let us be imitators of God as dear children, and walk in love as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Ephesians 5:1-2

  14. Yes, please - I'd love to be on the list to receive this newsletter. Enjoyed your post - thanks for repeating it as some of us have not yet seen it. email address = Thanks

  15. Would I be able to risk it all for Him? I'd love to scream, "Yes, yes", but in truth I whisper, "maybe, maybe".

  16. I'm with put it out there that "YES, I am ready for whatever is dished out to me so that I may suffer" it scares me. But, the thing about it is I know that when things do and have come my way the Lord ALWAYS gets me thru. Would Job have said yes to all the things that happened to him if he would have had the choice? But when it did he stayed faithful to the end. That is how I want to be.

    This is such a thought provoking post and I love it! I love how the Lord speaks to us, love it!

  17. Such a beautiful post! This is something i know I need to release to God because I don't know if I could. Well not 100%. I can do it if it comes to our finances or little struggles, but not with the bigger struggles like a death of a family or one of my kids going to jail.

  18. So I just got your email at 2:52 on Tuesday afternoon and I was startled. I thought, "Oh my heavens is it Tuesday already????" Spring Break has thrown me for a major loop!!!

    I love the image of you in the water. A bridge between the generations, a sacrifice for life. He beckons us to His place. A place of suffering and a place of grace. A great place.

    Let's keep in touch about our She Speaks plans, k?

  19. What a beautiful picture, and how faithful is our God to show you His heart for you!

  20. Those He calls, He equips. Simple words to say, harder ones to believe and live. A step at a time, friend. A step at a time.

  21. Some really tough questions you ask here, Jen. And truthfully I don't know how I would respond to that kind of sacrifice. I hope I would have the kind of trust and faith those speakers you heard had.

  22. My faith heros and models were/are my parents. (My mom is in heaven now.) They gave it all . . . with joy, lead thousands of people to Christ, and had a lovely life. When they were deciding if they should become missionaries and raise their family in Viet Nam, God gave each of them individually the same verse. Lisa had it in her blog today. I Thess 5:24 - "Faithful is he who calls you, who also will do it." I love this, Jen, because it is God who is faithful and does it. It takes some of the angst out of it for me. I have always loved this verse and watching my parents live it out.
    You have a sweet spirit and it will be fun to see how God continues to use you.


  23. Jen,
    Amazing post...It seems so right to give it all to Him and yet I find myeslf so often holding on to my own weaknesses rather than trusting His strength...
    Amazing story with tthe waves- frightening, but very powerful!

  24. Your post makes me think of the book...well, ebook, that I am currently reading - Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman's Guide to Finding Contentment by Linda Dillow. It was offered free for Kindle awhile back, but I think it's $8 now. It is exactly what you're talking about, and what the speakers at the conference talked about. I think you would enjoy this book. Not sure if it is at your library?


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