No Longer Forsaken

When I was in college, a friend of mine challenged me to start memorizing scripture with her. I learned in that season that writing the word of God on my heart changed the way I thought of Him, the way I talked to Him in my prayer life and the way I worshiped Him. I’ve been feeling challenged recently to start writing scripture on my heart in this season — to make it a normal part of my devotional life again. So every Monday, I’m sharing the scripture I’m memorizing that week, with a story and song to go with it. Because it matters that we write the word of God on our hearts, and that we think of Him and worship Him from that place.

SCRIPTURE:

Isaiah 62:2-4

The nations shall see your righteousness,
    and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
    that the mouth of the Lord will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
    and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
    and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
    and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
    and your land shall be married.

STORY:

I heard someone say once that history belongs to the intercessors. That those of us who pray are the ones building and writing history with God & in His kingdom. What walking closely with Jesus for almost 10 years has taught me is that there is so much truth to that statement. That something powerful happens when we write these promises from scripture on our hearts and call them forth in our lives.

Church planting is not for the faint of heart, y’all. It is the hardest and most amazing adventure I’ve ever been on with God. We literally moved into a desert valley, just because He asked us to, believing Him to bring streams to the desert & rivers to the wasteland… and He’s doing it!

I started praying these words from Isaiah 62 over Salt Lake City a couple of years ago, when God first spoke that this was the land He was calling us to. I started believing Him to redeem and restore this place that’s been so long forsaken by the Church. I started imagining that perhaps the mountains that encircle our city are the prophetic picture of that crown of beauty mentioned in this scripture.

I prayed these words over Salt Lake City like they were a promise written just for this place.

A couple of Sundays ago, a lady in our church pulled me aside after the service and asked if she could pray for me. She began to quote these exact words from Isaiah 62, and I wept as I realized in that moment that me and Salt Lake City are not so different.

Broken and barren. Desolate and discouraged. Marked by a long and exhausting season of feeling forgotten about or overlooked or outright neglected by God.

And then I began to recall all the ways I’m seeing God fulfill these promises from scripture in our city. Transforming lives that will transform a city. Renaming it for all the rest of history: A city no longer forsaken.

I felt challenged in that moment to believe the same is true of my story. That I shall no longer be termed Desolate. That I could believe and declare this promise from scripture is true of my life also — the same way I spent years declaring its truth over our city, and now am seeing God do exactly what He promised.

I felt challenged to believe again that a God of miracles is the Author of every piece of my story. That it is far from over. That my Champion is not dead, but alive — and that He intends to bring life to everything that feels dead in my story.

So, here’s to making history, believing that everything He says is true. Even when we can’t see it. Even when we don’t feel it. The miracle is on its way. It has to be — it’s just what He does.

SONG:

“God of Miracles”
Chris McClarney
Everything and Nothing Less

(Listen on Apple Music or YouTube)

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That time I didn’t know he was carrying me: revisited.

In the spirit of seasons of waiting, I’m sharing a story from six months ago again today. In the midst of learning how to fight for big things together in prayer, my husband and I have both been so refined this year. I can’t wait to build on where we’ve come since then in posts soon to come, but first, a look back at one of the most pivotal moments of this faith journey we’ve been on with God this year.

January 2014:

Marriage is the most awesome, most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Figuring out how to do life in unison with another person is a serious learning curve.

You have personality differences, communication differences, organizational differences, anatomical differences (sorry, just thought it’d be funny to throw that one in there. I didn’t have brothers growing up. Living with a BOY was new to me a year and a half ago).

Here’s the one that I think has been the weirdest to try and connect on: the way Noland and I communicate with God is different.

We spend time with God differently in the mornings. We’re spiritually gifted in different ways. His prayer life looks different from mine. We read scripture differently. We see things of the kingdom through different lenses.

Sometimes that’s a huge blessing, because we tend to point out things to one another that we wouldn’t have seen on our own. But sometimes it’s hard, like when we’re believing for big things together, but we don’t necessarily fight for those things in the same way.

Prayer is communication — a conversation with God, right? So let’s talk about how Noland and I communicate.

He’s a linear thinker. He goes from here ———> to here ———> to here.

I’m all over the map. Up, down, left, right, do a few somersaults, stop and smell the flowers, moonwalk … and we’re there.

Noland processes things externally. He needs to talk things through. His brain lives outside of his body.

I process internally. I need to get some space, write some things down, connect the dots, and then talk about it.

Then you throw in our emotions, because communication is emotional!

Noland is steady. Even if he’s about to explode internally, he has this cooling filter that all his words go through to calm them before they come out. It’s quite remarkable.

I lack said filter. My feelings are coming out the same exact way they look on the inside. Blood, guts, tears. It all comes out.

So when we’re praying through the things we feel like God has promised, the things we’re believing for in our life, it looks different.

Noland speaks things forth in such a way that makes you think they must have happened already. He’s already thought logically through the whole thing. So nonchalant. For him, it’s as simple as, “ask and you shall receive.” He’s confident and cool, and he’s so good at that part that sometimes makes me feel anxious to say out loud, “Your will be done.”

He always says to me when I get anxious about our future, “Sara, God doesn’t give us second best. We get the best. He knows.”

Well, I’m a little bit more of a shout-down-the-gates-of-hell prayer warrior. Still just as confident as Noland that the things God has promised will come to pass, and just as eager to partner with God to see those things happen. I just pray for things with a little more volume and a lot more tears. I feel them through every step of the process.

So as we’ve been believing for some big promises in our life this year, we’ve had some conflict about whether or not we’re on the same page with the things we’re praying. I’d get frustrated because he didn’t seem as emotionally involved as me. He’d get frustrated because he felt bad for not seeming to feel things as deeply and emotionally as I do.

It was hard! It’s not fun to feel disconnected from your spouse. I had to reconcile with God that I knew Noland was believing for the same things I was.  I had to reconcile that I still believed, although he didn’t carry them like I do, that he cares for them like I do.

This had gone on for months. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I was in Charlotte. When I have to work away from home, I use our iPad, which is connected to Noland’s phone on the iCloud. So I opened the iPad late one night to make a few notes of what I needed to do the next day for work, and I found something.

It was a note Noland had made on his phone, that popped up on the iPad when I turned on the wifi. I saw in the sidebar something titled, “Prayer for Sara.” Obviously I opened it.

In this note were 10 different prayers. Each of them was a paragraph long, beautifully crafted and quoting scripture throughout them. He was asking God, on my behalf, for some of the deepest longings of my heart. And he was asking Him using God’s own words. (And now I’m feeling a little convicted that, although I pray for him daily, I have never prayed such beautiful prayers for Noland.)

I’m weeping. I mean, like, ugly crying, in my friend’s living room alone.

All this time I’m wondering if he’s carrying God’s promises the same way I am, and all this time he’s simply carrying me. Alone, in the secret place with God, I’m the one he’s talking about. And I never would have known it had I not stumbled upon that note.

I read it over and over. It was the best bedtime story I’d ever heard.

I thanked God over and over, and I repented over and over for ever believing a lie that we weren’t fighting for the same things.

Never again will I be uncertain or insecure about us being on the same page in our prayer life. Those words Noland always speaks were ringing in my head as I fell asleep that night in North Carolina.

“God never gives us second best. He knows.”

I had never been more certain that I had been given the best.

cameron_park_waco_marriage_love_photography_kelsey_cherry

That time I didn’t know he was carrying me.

ImageMarriage is the most awesome, most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Figuring out how to do life in unison with another person is a serious learning curve. 

You have personality differences, communication differences, organizational differences, anatomical differences (sorry, just thought it’d be funny to throw that one in there. I didn’t have brothers growing up. Living with a BOY was new to me a year and a half ago). 

Here’s the one that I think has been the weirdest to try and connect on: the way Noland and I communicate with God is different. 

We spend time with God differently in the mornings. We’re spiritually gifted in different ways. His prayer life looks different from mine. We read scripture differently. We see things of the kingdom through different lenses. 

Sometimes that’s a huge blessing, because we tend to point out things to one another that we wouldn’t have seen on our own. But sometimes it’s hard, like when we’re believing for big things together, but we don’t necessarily fight for those things in the same way.

Prayer is communication — a conversation with God, right? So let’s talk about how Noland and I communicate.

He’s a linear thinker. He goes from here ———> to here ———> to here.

I’m all over the map. Up, down, left, right, do a few somersaults, stop and smell the flowers, moonwalk … and we’re there.

Noland processes things externally. He needs to talk things through. His brain lives outside of his body.

I process internally. I need to get some space, write some things down, connect the dots, and then talk about it.

Then you throw in our emotions, because communication is emotional! 

Noland is steady. Even if he’s about to explode internally, he has this cooling filter that all his words go through to calm them before they come out. It’s quite remarkable.

I lack said filter. My feelings are coming out the same exact way they look on the inside. Blood, guts, tears. It all comes out.

So when we’re praying through the things we feel like God has promised, the things we’re believing for in our life, it looks different. 

Noland speaks things forth in such a way that makes you think they must have happened already. He’s already thought logically through the whole thing. So nonchalant. For him, it’s as simple as, “ask and you shall receive.” He’s confident and cool, and he’s so good at that part that sometimes makes me feel anxious to say out loud, “Your will be done.”

He always says to me when I get anxious about our future, “Sara, God doesn’t give us second best. We get the best. He knows.”

Well, I’m a little bit more of a shout-down-the-gates-of-hell prayer warrior. Still just as confident as Noland that the things God has promised will come to pass, and just as eager to partner with God to see those things happen. I just pray for things with a little more volume and a lot more tears. I feel them through every step of the process.

So as we’ve been believing for some big promises in our life this year, we’ve had some conflict about whether or not we’re on the same page with the things we’re praying. I’d get frustrated because he didn’t seem as emotionally involved as me. He’d get frustrated because he felt bad for not seeming to feel things as deeply and emotionally as I do.

It was hard! It’s not fun to feel disconnected from your spouse. I had to reconcile with God that I knew Noland was believing for the same things I was.  I had to reconcile that I still believed, although he didn’t carry them like I do, that he cares for them like I do.

This had gone on for months. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I was in Charlotte. When I have to work away from home, I use our iPad, which is connected to Noland’s phone on the iCloud. So I opened the iPad late one night to make a few notes of what I needed to do the next day for work, and I found something. 

It was a note Noland had made on his phone, that popped up on the iPad when I turned on the wifi. I saw in the sidebar something titled, “Prayer for Sara.” Obviously I opened it. 

In this note were 10 different prayers. Each of them was a paragraph long, beautifully crafted and quoting scripture throughout them. He was asking God, on my behalf, for some of the deepest longings of my heart. And he was asking Him using God’s own words. (And now I’m feeling a little convicted that, although I pray for him daily, I have never prayed such beautiful prayers for Noland.)

I’m weeping. I mean, like, ugly crying, in my friend’s living room alone.

All this time I’m wondering if he’s carrying God’s promises the same way I am, and all this time he’s simply carrying me. Alone, in the secret place with God, I’m the one he’s talking about. And I never would have known it had I not stumbled upon that note.

I read it over and over. It was the best bedtime story I’d ever heard. 

I thanked God over and over, and I repented over and over for ever believing a lie that we weren’t fighting for the same things.

Never again will I be uncertain or insecure about us being on the same page in our prayer life. Those words Noland always speaks were ringing in my head as I fell asleep that night in North Carolina.

“God never gives us second best. He knows.”

I had never been more certain that I had been given the best.