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!  

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 

Rivers in Dry Land

Isaiah 43:18-20

18 “But forget all that—
    it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
20 The wild animals in the fields will thank me,
    the jackals and owls, too,
    for giving them water in the desert.
Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland
    so my chosen people can be refreshed.

We entered into the land God promised a little over a month ago. Naïvely, I expected to immediately declare “it is well with my soul!”  

I didn’t. 

Expectations are a finicky thing, aren’t they? They’re often prone to fail us when we create them in a mind that is still in the process of being renewed….

The Lord took me back to Isaiah 43 in the secret place this morning. It’s a familiar passage for me personally, and I’ve referenced it frequently in ministry to others. Today, I continued reading through Isaiah 44. You know how when the Holy Spirit BREATHES on His Word, you get that punch in the gut, that slap in the face, that AHA moment?! Yep. That happened. There it was, written in black and white, from ages past: the blessing of the Lord over me and my family. My mother received and prophesied this Word over me, literally on her death bed 4 months ago. She had an encounter with the Lord through a dream while my husband and I were shopping for houses in FL. (You can read about it here: https://deepintothewater.com/2021/04/19/go-on-to-glory/) I’m so grateful that God sent His message through her. It encouraged my soul, and it is a moment with my mom that I will cherish until my address changes to heaven too. 

As the revelation of Isaiah 44 hit my heart, clarity of Isaiah 43 came. My perspective immediately shifted. For so long, I was focused- fixated rather- on the dry wasteland I was living in. I was constantly frustrated in Egypt (believe me, I REPEATEDLY let God know allll about it!) 

I prayed for deliverance. Instead, He gave me dreams.

I prayed for rain. Instead, He gave me a plow.

I prayed for repentance and restoration in His body. Instead, He gave me the gift of prophesy to encourage His people.

I prayed for rivers. Instead, He gave me a well of living water. 

But the past is in the past, right? I’m no longer in Egypt. I’m IN the promised land, so I shouldbe shouting from the rooftops, “IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL,” right? Why look back? Just look forward, right? Wrong. By looking back, I see how the Lord delivered me from Pharaoh’s hand. I see that I am no longer in bondage to the empire he is building. I see that I am no longer a slave to the drudgery and demanding work he requires. I see that I have been set free from the oppression of Egypt. I see that I’ve walked THROUGH the wilderness. Yes! Amen!!! Praise and honor to the Lord for all that He has done. And all that He is still doing. Allow me to explain….

As I wrestled against dark principalities and powers in Egypt, real people spoke real words of false accusation against me. I was betrayed by those closest to me. I was rejected by my own people. As a result, the dry and weary land I inhabited began to invade my heart. My soul became a lonely, barren wasteland. Unaware of the cost of following the Spirit into the wilderness, I continued to pour my life out in intercession. I wept for those living under the oppression of Pharaoh. I preached the good news to them. I encouraged them to trust in the Lord. I pleaded with them to cry out to Him for deliverance. I wanted so desperately for them to taste and see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, as I had. I longed for them to encounter the Messiah at Jacob’s well as I had. Even to this very day, my heart breaksfor them. I wish I could relieve their suffering, but… I am not their Savior. I am merely a soldier in the Lord’s army. I follow commands, I don’t give them. I know this, but sometimes I fail to do this. Occasionally, in my effort to “help” people, I inadvertently start swinging the sword of the Spirit in my own strength; tearing down instead of building up. I continually need to be reminded that the battle is the Lords- not mine. I am simply His servant, His slave, His soldier. A soldier that needs time to rest, recover, and receive. 

How beautiful that He confirmed His Word through the elders and leaders of our new spiritual family (https://hotfm.org)shortly after we arrived. They knew by the Spirit that we were planted in infertile ground in the previous season, but that the Lord transplanted us into a rich land flowing with milk and honey, where we will flourish. They knew that we had suffered from the laborious work of plowing hard soil. But now, that assignment is over. It is finished. The sowing in complete. It’s a new season. It’s time to harvest, to heal, to build up, to laugh, to dance, to gather stones, to turn away, to quit searching, to throw away, to mend, to speak, to hate, and to have peace!

I fought the good fight of faith in Egypt (because God SENT ME to Egypt, just like He SENT ME to The Promised Land). But now, He’s doing something new. Do you see it? He’s creating rivers in my soul. Hallelujah!!!

Ecclesiastes 3

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.

God promised.

Numbers 13:25-31

25 After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned 26 to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. 27 This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. 28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea[a] and along the Jordan Valley.”

30 But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”

31 But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!”

The Lord had delivered His children from slavery in Egypt.

He was with them as they wandered in the desert.

And He was bringing them into a new land…He promised.

After the 12 returned from their scouting adventure, they gave their report to Moses and the people. They all agreed on what they saw: milk, honey andgiants. But their responses were divided:

2 of the men were filled with faith.

10 were filled with fear.

The report of the majority infected the ENTIRE community. By believing what the 10 said, the children of Israel doubted what God had said. Subsequently, they were willing to go back to bondage or just die in the wilderness! Paralyzed by fear, they refused to fight the giants in order to claim the land God promised to them. Witnessing the massive pity party, Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes in deep grief, pleading with their brothers and sisters to NOT rebel against the Lord- and NOT be afraid of the people!!! 

We’re currently facing the same test of faith.

A roadblock I continue to encounter in the wilderness, between Egypt and the promised land, is the fear of man. Being non-creative and unclever, it’s a tactic the enemy has used over and over again since my childhood. He’s convinced people- family and friends- even fellow Israelites to speak things which cause me to doubt what God has said. Most of the time, it’s very subtle and difficult to understand in the natural. But He is always faithful! When I ask the Holy Spirit for supernatural help, He gives me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand. Only then can I recognize the lies, be set free by the Truth, and extend forgiveness to those who didn’t know what they were saying.

God promised us a new land 7 years ago.

He sent us to scout it out.

We saw the milk and honey.

We saw the giants.

And…we heard reports from the 10:

Did God really say to move to Florida?”

Did God really sayto live in Lakeland?”

Did God really say to relocate to be a part of a CHURCH?”

Did God really say to leave your entire extended family?”

Did God really say to close the ministry & stop meeting (church @ home)?”

“Florida is so dang hot… they have LOTS of hurricanes- and alligators!”

“Lakeland is a terrible town….and it’s not near the beach.”

“There’s no perfect church…why not just stay here?”

“Family is everything….I can’t believe you’d abandon them.”

“You invested so much in your ministry…it’s a waste to give it up.”

Yep. There’s been a lot of chatter in the community.

But we’re going with the minority report.

We believe what God said.

So, it’s time to prepare for battle…. because we’re following Him into the land HE promised!