My name is Rhea.
I shared my story on The Grace Mask last year.
The photo shoot last year was very out of my comfort zone. But Aurelia made the process so beautiful and really helped me see myself as the Bride of Christ. Sharing my story was a powerful tool that ministered to many people. I still get emails sharing how it impacted others. There’s something very powerful about putting a face to the bride of Christ… It gives others permission to share their stories as well. It removes the veil… I love that about The Grace Mask.
Over the last 12 months I have learned that Jesus is faithful and trustworthy. Already knew it, but He showed me again, and again, and again.
…That I will be ok. I don’t need my security blankets when the Creator God covers me under His feathers and hides me in the shadow of His wing. My security blankets are actually chains that keep me from fullness in Him.
Many people have encouraged me over the last 12 months… People speaking that right word at the right time to encourage me without even realizing they were doing it. My husband especially living our his faith so consistently in our home, in the midst do tossing waves and uncertainty He was like the lighthouse leading me back to shore.
And now here I am in 2014, with the next chapter …
“Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple. (Luke 14:33 MSG)
This year was a process of letting go. A process of Jesus truly becoming the most important thing in my heart again. It was sometimes messy, there were moments I acted like my 4-year-old when he doesn’t want to share his favorite toy, but what came out of it was so beautiful. My prayers have always been something like this: “God use my life for your glory. Wherever you call me I’ll go. Whatever you want me to do I’ll do.” Sometimes I think we pray these bold prayers, not realizing that heaven is listening. We ask God to use us, but on our terms. As long as it doesn’t make me too uncomfortable, as long as things can stay the same– I really like the same. I think when God calls us to spiritually or physically pack up and move into new territory, there’s a season of letting go of the old to receive the new. Everything must go, there’s no room for it in the new place He’s prepared for you. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19) God, in His infinite grace and wisdom doesn’t force us into a place of reckless abandon. But He gently woos His bride out of the shadows, showing her only glimpses of the life He’s prepared for her. “My bride, stop clinging to the past. I’ve done great things. But I want to show you greater things. Do you not perceive it?” He began to stir in my heart that He was about to do a new thing. It began with a prophetic word from my 6-year-old on January 1st, 2013. “Mommy, God is preparing you to have so much joy this year!” And this was the year I learned that true JOY is directly connected to OBEDIENCE.
My church of over 15 years was going through several transitions and looking back I see that it was Gods tender way of getting me to the place I need to be. The location of our church was moving. I cried almost daily (ridiculous I know) but it held sacred memories for me. It was the right thing for our church, our leaders were prayerful and made very wise choices, but I went through a time of grieving the “death” of this very special place to me. It was the place I was discipled, the place I met my husband, the first place we ever ministered together, the place my husband said he loved me for the first time, where he proposed, where we got married, dedicated our 3 sons and witnessed our oldest son be baptized. I loved my church. It was where I was going to grow old with my husband. It was where I felt safe, happy, secure, loved, comfortable. I loved doing life with the people there. But the Lord began to show my husband and I we were called to lead worship, together as a team, someplace new. We couldn’t hide from His call. It was clear, almost burning. At times I found myself telling God “shhhh!” Ridiculous to think we can quiet His voice in our life. And why I would want to I’ll never understand. I didn’t think I had the courage to do what I knew in my spirit He was asking me to do. I was afraid. I was afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone. It meant I might be (God forbid)… uncomfortable.
During that time of waiting for our new marching orders, God presented us with an amazing opportunity for my husband to lead worship in Israel for 2 weeks with Zealous, the young adult branch of Bridges for Peace. A group that takes young adults and connects them with Gods heart for Israel and gives them opportunities to serve the Jewish people. Totally unexpected. We had 3 months to raise A LOT of money for this to happen and there was no way we could do it on our own. God provided every last penny. We saw mountains move! It forever rocked our faith. It was also the first time in 7 years I had ever been away from my husband even for a day. So for 2 weeks I and our 3 young sons went about life without Daddy. There were nights we all cried ourselves to sleep. It was a pain I had never felt before or since. Trying to be strong for my sons and feeling like part of my heart was countries away. Letting go… It’s hard for me. I like control. I like predictable.
Being a very passionate, tender hearted, sentimental (a.k.a. EMOTIONAL) person it’s easy for me to go through life being led around by my feelings. I hold on so tightly to people and memories. In itself, there is nothing wrong with that. God gave us emotions so we can feel. So we can love deeply and with passion. But when our emotions keep us from our purpose, that’s the problem. When our security, our joys, our comforts are elevated above Jesus in our hearts, it’s an idol. Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” That tells me I can’t always trust my heart. My feelings won’t always point me in the right direction. I have to bury myself in Gods word and let His truth guide my life.
God was asking us to leave everything important to us and go into a new city and let Him use our worship and our lives for His glory. I remembered all the times I told the Lord I would do anything He asked me to. And those words now felt heavy, like they were rocks in my throat. After praying and fasting for a week, the Lord broke through my reluctant heart, filled me with courage and comforted me. In the process of saying our goodbyes, God used our church family to speak such life and encouragement into us. We got see their hearts and hear about the ways God has used our family, it was overwhelming. And that’s when I really felt that we are ONE body, ONE family, forever and EVER!!! That excites my sentimental heart. Goodbyes and transitions don’t have to be ugly and messy. The family of God isn’t meant to shrink. It’s meant to spread out and grow! Our season there had ended. We finished strong with the blessing of our leaders and started on a new adventure.
A few weeks later found myself needing my gallbladder removed. After a year of tremendous pain, I couldn’t deal with it anymore and was stuck in a hospital for 4 days. Being away from my children for the first time was torture. I could hear their cries over the phone and I wanted to jump out of the hospital bed and run to them. I didn’t trust God enough to take care of them as well as I could, I mean I said I did, but not really. On the outside I was fine, but I’m speaking of the deep issues raging in my heart. I had lost my church, my city, my comfort, even my gallbladder, (lol) my house was packed away and I was about to venture into the great unknown, and now I’m stuck in this hospital bed? Really God? Why are you doing this to me? Throwing myself a little pity party (always a bad idea) alone in my hospital room, God spoke to my heart– “why did the Israelites worship a golden cow while Moses was with me on the mountain? Because they lacked faith to believe I was working outside of their box. I didn’t do what they expected Me to, when and how they thought I would, and so they took matters into their own hands. I never asked you to understand Me. I asked you to trust Me!” How many of you know, when God shows up the pity party is over?! He’s a pity party pooper! Praise God for that!
Nothing can take His place in our hearts. Not because He is a cruel God, but because He knows nothing else works right if He isn’t the main thing to us. And we can’t fool Him. He sees our idols even when we are too blinded to see them. He is so merciful and so good and so forgiving. So we headed out on this new adventure with the Lord and we are right where God wants us, doing exactly what we were made for. He really did have our best in mind the entire time. We didn’t see what He saw, but I’m so glad we trusted Him anyway.
I learned some things about myself and about God’s love through this journey. 1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” His love has the power to make you FEARLESS! When you taste His love you don’t have to fear letting go of the things you grasp so tightly in your hands. He always has your best in mind. Jeremiah 29:11-13 declares “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord.” He knows what He’s doing. He’s not just making things up as you go along. He has a plan and a purpose for you!
Whatever you have to let go of to receive the new thing He wants to do… just let it go. You wanna know what happens after you release the things you hold onto so tightly? What happens after the extra weight from those idols you’ve carried around is gone? You can raise your arms, spread your sweet little wings and FLY in His purposes. “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Jeremiah 33:3- “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”
Luke 9:24-26- “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.”
Joshua 1:9- “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
2 Timothy 1:7- “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Philippians 4:13- “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
John 15:16- “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
James 1:22- “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
2 Corinthians 12:9- “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”