Live Like You Were Dying

We are studying the book of Revelation for the Youth and Young Adult Retreat for Louis’ Church this weekend. In prepping for this study, I have learned much.  This is a book of the Bible is most people stay away from….even Pastors don’t preach on it much….because it can be confusing and controversial.  I look forward to diving into it some more.

The biggest thing I have learned during studying it so far is to “live like you were dying!” I know it is a morbid subject to think about…but what would you do if you thought you were dying? How would you live?  What would you change? Would you be willing to face your maker and answer for your decisions and your life?

Recently, I thought about Frank….dying on the street outside my house. He didn’t know what was coming.  But, God has given him another chance to live in a way that brings Him glory.  Unfortunately, even after EVERYTHING that he and his family went through…the pull of the street was too strong. He went back to his old life and landed himself in prison for about 10-11 years.  So far…it’s 1 year down…10 to go! I pray that he meets Jesus in a powerful way and is changed…for good!  Jesus makes ALL things new!

But, we are not to judge!  Every day…we go back to our lives as we knew them.  It’s that constant struggle that Paul referred to.  While we are on this earth…there will always be the struggle.  But, there will come a day when we will struggle no more.  Like Francis Chan’s wife said in the Surrender video…I want to hear him say “Well done, Marti!!  Well done!”  I WANT to hear…

Well done, Marti!  You listened to me…you didn’t move to St Louis even though you don’t know what is next.

Well done, Marti!  You obeyed Me.  You moved into SBH and stayed even after some really crazy and scary things occurred…because I called you there.

Well done, Marti!  You lived on mission with me in spite of what others thought and said.

Well done, Marti!  You take my commandments seriously.  To love God and love your neighbor.  Your neighbors are everyone you meet…at work, at home, in the grocery store, at church, on the corner filled with drug dealers and prostitutes.

Well done, Marti!!!  Come on in!

But, I must confess…there are many days that I do NOT rise to that challenge.  There are days that I want to pack up and move.  There are days that I fail miserably in my marriage and not love Louis like I should.  There are days when I just don’t feel like stopping to fix Everett a sandwich because he is hungry.  There are days when I’m “too busy” to hang with the kids and listen to them.  There are days when I don’t spend time in the Word and in prayer like I should.  There are days of being a “pastor’s wife” that are a little too much to ask!  (Just to name a few of my many, many faults!!! Don’t see this as me “beating myself up”. This is just the plain reality of it… here on earth.  I am sinful…)

I am so thankful God knows my HEART!  That He doesn’t have a checklist of aaaallll the things we on earth call religion that are not Biblical.  The long list of man-made “do’s and don’ts” that so many of us think we won’t and can’t live up to….so we stop trying.

I appreciate that I am Saved by Grace and NOT by works.  I could NEVER do enough good works to earn his forgiveness and salvation!

I am grateful for a loving, merciful, holy God who loved me way before I loved Him and just wants a relationship with me…not that routine checklist surface relationship….but an intimate, deep, close relationship.

And, you know what?!?!?!?  IT’S FREE!!!!!

Come…all who are thirsty….

Take a long deep drink of God’s Perfect Love….

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For Melissa, Michelle and Jeannine….the list grows!!! :)

If you are late in coming to the story…you MAY want to consider reading the past posts….go to the bottom and click Louis and Me!  This is where you will find each post in order…telling the story of how I met the other ½ of my pair!

OK…picking up where I left off in the story of how I met the other ½ of my pair.

So…I had asked the Women’s Bible Study on Faith to pray.  Which they promised me they would!  I was still believing in what God had told me….that I would meet the other ½ in December.  My buddy Marc had confirmed it stating that he felt I would meet someone in 4th quarter.  Again…we could both be right!

Early December comes, and Marc asks if I had met “him” yet.  I responded no, not yet…God still has another 21 days.  He hung his head hung LOW!  I had never seen him quite like that before.  He starts apologizing to me….telling me that he thought he had heard the Lord correctly….thinking that I wasn’t going to meet him.  I would have NOTHING to do with it.  Telling him NOT to give up…that I was STILL believing.  That is what God told me…and I am holding Him to it.  I may not have mentioned this before, but when I prayed….I kinda gave God a deadline.  Having heard that you should pray specifically, I prayed that I would meet him by the end of the year.  Then, God said it would be in fact be December.

Previously, Don Coleman had told me about this guy that he thought I should meet back in the summer, but he never called.  Other than that…there had been ZERO interests!  But, I was believing!!!

At that women’s study, I had the great pleasure of meeting my now good friend Jennifer.  On Saturday, December 22 we went to dinner after church.  We were just getting to know one another and were just hanging out when she asked if I had met “Mr. December” yet.  I obviously said No.  But I was still believing…God still had 9 more days!  We laughed at the Mr. December idea and continued to eat.  Then, Jennifer paused, set her folk down and said…so, I’ve been praying about this…and I think I am supposed to tell you.  There’s this guy….

I was like WHAT?!?!  This “guy”?  She continued to tell me about him.  I sat there and shook my head “No!  There’s no way!  He’s not interested!”

I couldn’t believe it.  My new friend Jennifer was sitting across the table telling me about the SAME guy that Don Coleman told me about months prior!  I just KNEW it was the same guy….and I said….JP, he’s not interested.  Don’s already told me about “this guy” (I didn’t have a name at this time!).  Jennifer was convinced that it couldn’t be the same guy. She didn’t think that Don and “this guy” knew each other.  So, I got Don on the phone.  Once I filled Don in on our conversation, he simply asked…what’s his name?  And Jennifer told me….Louis Williams.   Lo and behold, Don AND my new friend from the bible study were telling me about the SAME GUY!!!  6 months apart!!!  Needless to say…we were a little in shock!

So..the first thing I do is google him….NOTHING.  Yes guys….we google you!!!!  So, be careful what you put out there. do the same!  LOL.

The rest of the night, I kept saying…Jennifer, really?  Is this for real?

Long story short….Louis had spent some time with Don back in the summer sharing his heart.  A few months later he had dinner with friends Becky and Lowell.  Becky felt called to pray for Louis that he would meet his “God Woman”.  She is a busy woman, mom, wife, volunteer and professional.  Becky doesn’t have time to be a matchmaker, but she mentioned to Jennifer that she was praying for Louis to meet someone.  This was shortly AFTER I shared the “Mr. December” with my Bible Study.  Rather than jumping on it, Jennifer took time to pray about it first, which I sincerely appreciate.

Now it’s 12.22.07 and Becky and Jennifer went to work to get Louis and me connected….just a couple days before Christmas….when folks are busy, traveling, prepping for the day.  But, I think we all had forgotten about the December deadline.  Plus – I was now kinda freakin’.  Could this ACTUALLY happen?!?!?!? Really????

Side note:  Now, before you think too poorly of Louis….there had been a break down in communication back in the summer.  THAT is why he never called.  But, later you will learn that God’s timing is PERFECT!

Just for my friend, Jeanine…

I have to admit…I have been very preoccupied the last couple of days.  I typically write the first draft of my post a day or 2 in advance….and then tweak it as the “due date” looms.  Well…due to distractions that regular life has brought me AND the recent funeral today plus the death of my neighbor’s grandson…I’m doubly distracted and not processing very well.  So, I’m picking an easy (and welcomed!) topic today!  Back to Louis and Me!!!  YAY!!  I can hear my friend Jeanine cheering!  She encourages me to write more…and not to leave her hanging because she hasn’t heard the story before!  So, Jeanine…this is for you!!!  Thanks for your encouragement!!  I need it!  btw – check out her beautiful photography blog by clicking her name anywhere in this post!

Ok…so I left off with praying for the other ½ of my pair and Don telling me about a guy who never calls….right?  If you need to catch up….click Louis and Me! in the sidebar to the right…

Our 3 Lists Written in 02.07. 1 down...2 to go! (Yes...out of focus on purpose!!!)

Marc continued to come into work…encouraging me…and telling me that he had been “puttin’ in knee time” for me!  I still had my own copy of the list that I was praying over…along with my 2 friends’ lists (who I am STILL praying for!!!!!).

The work merger had been announced in the spring…and we were alllll wondering…whether our jobs were moving to St Louis (StL).  That fall, the word came.  Yes, my team’s jobs were moving.  I was a leader of about 40 people in 2 locations, Richmond and StL….with about 25-30 people in Richmond…and they were deciding that all the jobs had to located in StL.  I was praying for my team and me…for good decisions. (btw – some of them are still looking for jobs if you know of any open HR/Recruiting gigs in Richmond!!!)

I spent a many many night on my face asking the Lord if I should move to StL.  I said…if that is what you are asking, then that is what I would do.  I asked Him if I would meet my other ½ in StL?  But that just never landed on me right.  The Lord had said I would meet the other ½ of my pair to serve SBH.  So how could I move, right?

But, I prayed for confirmation.  And received it.  I told my manager that I would NOT make the move.  No amount of money or job position could convince me to move. But, fears set in.  How would I make a living?  Where would I get a job, etc?  It was definitely a faith building time for me!  I had to trust the Lord.

Meanwhile, I was sooo sure that I was going to meet the other ½ in December 2007, I stopped praying for it!  Yes….let me repeat, I stopped praying for it to happen.  I even told Marc to stop praying…but he insistently prayed although I said that God had already answered.  (Love me some Marc Lundy!!

Before long, I joined a short 6-week Bible study at Needle’s Eye Ministries on Faith.  It was now October-November 2007…coming up on the December date the Lord gave me!  Figuring…if there was anytime I needed faith…I needed it now.  This group of about 25 women gathered every week for 6 weeks at their office.  I barely knew a soul!!! After Susan led us in our study, we always closed in prayer.  I shared my story and asked them not to pray for my other ½ in the same way – that he would show…but to actually pray FOR him to prepare him.  I often wondered if he knew what he was about to get himself into.  So, the ladies agreed to join me in praying FOR him.  I thank God for these ladies, whose names and prayer requests are in that journal!  As I look down the list this evening, I wonder what other prayers have been answered?!?!

But, allow me to remind you…nearly 2 years had gone by since I prayed for the “bone” in December 2005.  I had been praying for God to send me a husband.  Over the following year, 2006, the Holy Spirit had used many situations, Don Coleman and Luke 10:1-7 to change my desires and my prayers. In early 2007, I had started praying for the other ½ of my pair in ministry to SBH.  I had begun praying the will of God instead of Marti’s.

Learnings for me,

  • Take prayer requests seriously.  If you say Yes to pray for someone, be sure to do it.  Don’t take it lightly.  It’s serious business!!
  • Be careful what you pray for….you just might get it!
  • I’m often astounded at the sheer number of people God uses in this story.  He doesn’t need to use us, but it is sooo fun when He does.  At any point, if someone said “NO! Lord!”…the story may have turned out differently.  Just like the story of Marcellous.  If Marc, Emmanuel or I had said “NO! Lord!” at any point…the results might look different.
  • These stories consistently remind me of the importance of listening and obeying.  We are robbed of the blessing of being used by God when we say “NO! Lord!”  Like the Nike slogan….”Just do it!” comes to mind!

Jeanine…sorry, I am going to leave you hanging…..AGAIN!  Hugs to you!