The Cost

Luke 14:25-30

25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them26 If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone elseyour father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sistersyes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

28 But dont begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.30 They would say, ‘Theres the person who started that building and couldnt afford to finish it!’

According to “experts,” the 5 MOST STRESSFUL LIFE EVENTS are as follows:

  1. Death of a loved one
  2. Divorce
  3. Moving
  4. Major Illness or Injury
  5. Job Loss

My friend, we have suffered three of these in the last fourteen months. Yes. Three. My mother died unexpectedly in April 2021, we moved from NC to FL in July 2021, and my husband was laid off unexpectedly in June.

Why are we surprised?

The Lord said that being a disciple would be costly. He even warned me in a dream before we said “yes” in following Him to the Promised Land.

Jesus counted the cost.

In return, He is simply asking, “are you willing to do the same for me?”

He suffered.

And our family is suffering.

He carried His cross.

And we’re carrying our cross.

He chose to obey the Father.

And we’re choosing to obey the Father.

Why?

Because we love Him – as He first loved us.

A friend recently sent an encouraging text, letting me know she was praying for and with us, asking if we felt a bit like Job in this season. Indeed. We do. In fact, that very morning, before her correspondence, I re-read his story. Like Job, we have suffered much loss. Like Job, we’ve been encouraged by those who’ve simply sat and wept with us. And, like Job, we’ve also been discouraged by those who’ve misrepresented the Father’s heart, in comforting His people. I throw no stones. In my religious zealousness, I too have tried to give the right answer to the questions people have when grieving. Many times, I accurately recited the law, but in the end, I failed to love. It breaks my heart, as it does His.

Regardless, this season of suffering is not about our friends, it’s about us. Specifically, it’s about our hearts. The Lord is allowing the Accuser to test us- shaking the walls of our protection, our property and our prosperity (Job 1:6-12). As we’re being sifted like wheat, I see areas of pride that hinder me from pursuing the Lord with all my heart. THIS is Good News! Our circumstances haven’t changed, people haven’t changed, but I am being changed.

My friend, HE is worth it!  

Matthew 13:45-46

45 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

Who is my Mother?

Matthew 12:46-50

46 As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.47 Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they want to speak to you.”[a]

48 Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 50 Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”

The Lord began highlighting this passage of scripture years ago, when He called me, like Abraham, to leave my father’s land to go to a new land which our family would inherit. In the midst of the process of uprooting from North Carolina, God continued asking: “who is my mother?” Simultaneously, He continued confirming His call to leave everything and follow Him over and over again through Scripture, dreams, visions and divine appointments with complete strangers! One dream in particular, He whispered “consider the cost…” I had NO way of knowing at the time, what that Word would require. Sure, I knew to some extent the “cost” would include physical hardships in selling a house, buying a house and moving a lifetime of stuff from NC to FL. And I knew there would be a spiritual battle as I obeyed. But what happened, was completely unexpected, as warfare often is. At some point in the process, many people I love opposed the Word in me. Yes, friends and family, alike, knowingly or unknowingly partnered with the accuser of the brethren against the promise I carried. The enemy would not go down quietly, without a fight. He wanted my soul to stay in Egypt; in bondage to Pharaoh, enslaved to the work of churning mud into bricks without straw (He literally gave me this vision at a corporate prayer meeting one night). Battered and bruised, I would not be moved! That slithering serpent even sucker punched me, with one final low blow beneath the belt when we arrived in Florida.

I realized pretty quickly, once we got somewhat settled into our new home and covenant community that I needed to come off the battlefield to rest and recover in the RED CROSS tent.

I’m still there.

It’s a strange thing to be living and growing and learning in the fertile land God promised, while simultaneously allowing the Lord to bind up my broken heart. In this season, I am surrounded by mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters in the faith who are caring for me in ways I cannot begin to comprehend. It’s miraculous. I’ve found my family!!! And we are living together in our Father’s house; a house of prayer- in central Florida, surrounded by cows and citrus farms! Multiple times a week, I meet with other intercessors who carry a burden to see His Kingdom come, His will be done. I often praise the Lord on my drive to and fro, “THANK YOU, Lord. You are faithful! You fulfilled your promise! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!” Gratitude explodes from my heart. And yet, sometimes…even in the proceeding moment- I cry out in the deepest grief.

How can this be?

I believe it’s all a part of the process ….of being transformed into His image.

You see, it was His Spirit that whispered the promise my elder Brother heard from Our Father in heaven. It was His Spirit that gave me the faith to obey His command. It was His Spirit that prepared me to leave Egypt. It was His Spirit that sustained me in the wilderness. It was His Spirit that enabled me to continue marching on towards the land flowing with milk and honey. And, it is by His Spirit that I am coming up out of this present wilderness, leaning on my beloved as I grieve the loss of my mother, leaving my father and sister, my spiritual mommas, and extended family and friends.

He is still with me; in gratitude AND in grief, He is with me…

Comforting me with His rod and staff.

Leading me through the valley.

Renewing my strength.

Guiding me.

Preparing me.

Honoring me.

Pursuing me.

And I will dwell in His house forever and ever, Amen!  

and a

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

New Living Translation

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

For everything.

Every. Thing.

There is a season.

My great grandfather, grandfather, and father were all farmers at various times in their lives. I, however, did not inherit their skill of plowing, sowing, waiting and reaping. In the physical sense, anyhow! But by the Spirit, I’m beginning to catch a glimpse of the Father’s heart regarding times and seasons.

Solomon, in all his wisdom, declares that there is a time to plant and a time to harvest. Instinctively, we tend to focus on the doing part of this verse (plant/harvest), but what about the being part; the “and a” season of transition?

A time to plant = doing

and a = being

A time to harvest = doing

Every farmer knows you never reap in the same season you sow. That “and a” season in between allows the seed TIME to die, take root, grow, emerge, and produce after its planted. Every parent understands the same analogy. There’s a transition between the seed being fertilized at the moment of conception and delivery. It’s the growing season called pregnancy! Nine months of developing until the appointed time for the child to be born. I’ll be honest, this child of God doesn’t really like transitional seasons. I can easily become impatient with the PROCESS. Often times, my impetuous nature tries to convince me to push through the transition because it’s so hard to just BE! To be still. And know that HE is God.

In this “and a” season, I am learning to embrace the PROCESS of death. For to know the power of Jesus in His resurrection, we must participate in His suffering, becoming like Him in death, amen? (Philippians 3:10)

The literal death of my mother.

The physical death of moving; our home, our church, our community.

The relational death (rejection, betrayal, denial) of family and friends.

From my vantage point, it has been a long, hard, painful season of:

Killing

Tearing down

Crying

Grieving

Scattering stones

Turning away

Searching

Throwing away

Tearing

Quietness

But from God’s vantage point, this PROCESS of transformation is but a moment in the timeline of eternity. His time and seasons have a PURPOSE. He wants to PRODUCE good fruit in me! He’s a good Farmer, He knows what He’s doing. I simply have to trust Him.

For everything.

Every. Thing.

There is a season.

On the Shore and On the Sea

Matthew 4:18-20

New Living Translation

18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothersSimon, also called Peter, and Andrewthrowing a net into the water, for they fished for a living19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.

Like Peter, when the Lord first called me over twenty years ago, I obeyed; leaving my nets on the shore at once to follow Him.

And, when He called me to move to Florida, I obeyed; stepping out of the boat and onto the sea in the midst of a storm of people’s opinions.

Now my faith, like Peter’s, is being tested.

Matthew 14:22-31

New Living Translation

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home.23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three oclock in the morning[a] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “Its a ghost!”

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. Dont be afraid,” he said. Take courage. I am here![b]

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if its really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

29 Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong[c] wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. You have so little faith,” Jesus said. Why did you doubt me?”

A few years before our move, I received a prophetic word from one of the elders in our church. He foretold that I would step into a stormy season and like Peter, I would begin to sink. He encouraged me not to be afraid- reminding me that the Lord would be with me. He said that in the end, I would be OK. Then he pulled out his phone to show me a picture that captured what he was seeing by the Spirit: https://www.amazon.com/HavenLight-Yongsung-Kim-Painting-Reaching/dp/B076HSJBL8?th=1 (I bought a copy of that print when we moved; I’m literally staring at it as I write!) I’ve never reacted so strongly to a prophecy. Quite frankly, it pissed me off!!! How dare this religious leader tell ME that my faith would fail!?

Spiritual pride, much?!

Absolutely. It may have been hidden below the surface of my self-righteous heart at the time, but the Lord knew it was there.

Nine months into our Promised Land journey I started realizing that storm was churning in the sea of my soul. All of my coping mechanisms of control were failing. And I came face to face with the reality that I was sinking….

Staring at the wind and waves, I began to lose sight of the One who beckoned me to, “come.” I cried out, “Lord, HELP!” Desperate attempts to save myself led to sinking further and further into the darkness. I couldn’t pray it away. I couldn’t cast it out. I couldn’t get delivered from it. Exhausted from trying to tread water on my own, my faith was failing. Grasping for answers, I contemplated another way out. Maybe I needed others to pray it away or cast it out or deliver me from evil? None of it was working. Don’t get me wrong- this is all biblical! (If you’ve followed my posts, you know I am a HUGE fan of Spirit led Healing & Deliverance Ministry! I’ve received & walked with many on their journey of freedom in Christ over the last 10 years.) But it’s NOT what the Spirit was saying. No quick fix, miracle, sign or wonder was coming to rescue me. Instead, in His goodness and for His glory, He’s allowing me to walk through this valley of the shadow of death called: PROCESS.

This PROCESS is painful.

But it’s necessary. And it’s beautiful.

Just like it was for Peter.

Yesterday, after my counseling appointment (part of the PROCESS) I stopped by Lake Morton. As I sat on the shore, feeding the birds, I watched another summer storm roll in. As the wind blew and the waves moved across the surface of the water, I felt such peace.

For a brief moment, my soul settled as I realized, He is with me. He will not leave me. He will not forsake me. AND, He is seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for me!

Yes, I am in the midst of a storm.

Yes, I am being sifted like wheat.

But… I am gonna be okay.

His Word is true!

He IS a good Shepherd; on the shore and on the sea.

Are you in the midst of a PROCESS, my friend?

Let me know how I can partner with the Lord in prayer for you.

Please share your story in the comments section below.

“The difficulty in surrendering to process is that there is no road map. I can’t tell you what you will experience along the way, or who you will be when you get there. I can tell you that it isn’t going to be easy, that it may get worse before it gets better, and that the alternatives to taking this journey are worse than the journey itself. These alternatives may include depression, prolonged numbness, decreased satisfaction with your remaining relationships, addiction, emotional difficulties that manifest as physical symptoms, or significantly less zest for living…the one thing that I do know with certainty from my own struggles and from being a midwife to countless others as they face their dark sides: Feelings that find expression change. And THAT change is the process that brings transformation.”

-The Jewish Book of Grief & Healing 

The Shadow

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd,
[a]shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside [b]quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the [c]paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the [d]valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no [e]evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You [f]have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
[g]Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will [h]dwell in the house of the Lord [i]forever.

I’ll be honest: I was hoping to be out of the valley by now. For heavens sake, I’m IN the land God promised me and my family! Away from the bondage of Pharoah. Out of the dry, barren land of Egypt. *We left the circus. No more Sunday morning show. No more ring leaders juggling the praises of men and people pleasing. No more clowns performing for the crowd. The lions have been released from their cages and they are ROARING!!! (*a prophetic picture of the church in Egypt) We are IN green pastures. We are being pastored by shepherds after Gods own heart. No more manna. We’re eating delicious milk and honey. We are part of a family of believers who truly desire to “give God what He wants.” Worship is focused on THE Man; Jesus. Prayer is intercession: seeking Gods will and declaring it back to Him. Teaching is the Word of God. God’s will has become our reality.

My Spirit is jumping for JOY!!!

My soul, however….is not.

The shadow of death is longer and wider than I expected. There was so much loss and letting go in the wilderness. I assumed once I got out of the desert, it would all be over. But its not. I’m still grieving the death of my mother. I’m still grieving the death of our homeschool. I’m still grieving the death of our ministry. I’m still grieving the death of our home. I’m still grieving the death of relationships with family and friends.

Death is over, but the darkness surrounding it remains.

This is the shadow….

This is the shadow of the cross.

This is the shadow of resurrection.

And,

This is the way…

This is the way of the Good Shepherd.

This is the way for His sheep.

His sheep know His voice.

His sheep walk through the valley.

His sheep are not afraid of the shadow.

His sheep follow Him unto death.

His sheep receive His rod and staff.

His sheep lie down in green pastures.

His sheep drink from quiet waters.

His sheep are restored.

His sheep just want Him.