August 27, 2013

#KingdomWoman... Her Joy! (Part I)

Have you ever met a woman and wondered why she seems to smile all the time? How she's always positive, hardly any complaints, and nothing negative to say?  But her lifestyle isn't glamorous, she's not filthy rich, she doesn't drive a fancy car, wear the latest fashions, travel the world, or lives in a big fancy home. As a matter of fact, she lives in an average home, drives a beat up jalopy, makes an income below the poverty level, shops at the thrift store, eats leftovers often, has short, jagged, bitten nails, crooked teeth, etc... You get the point!

I believe it's because she has the ultimate joy. She has the joy of The Lord deep down in her soul. She has the joy that circumstances can't take away. The joy that brings peace in the midst of a storm. She's learned that despite how things look like around her, God is in control, and she continues to abide and trust that He knows what's best for her. She is assured and confident that He's gonna come through no matter what.

I truly love the chapter, A Kingdom Woman and Her Personal Life. What stands out to me is the section on bearing fruit because it talks about how vital it is to abide in Christ, no matter what, as a pathway to fruitfulness. It speaks about the joy the Lord gives that goes deep down into one's soul.
If you are vitally connected to Jesus Christ and committed to obeying Him despite your flaws and failures, then don’t hesitate to tell Him what’s on your heart. It is His good pleasure to grant you whatever you wish. ~Dr. Tony Evans
I remember my mom telling me, in a moment of weakness and despair, 'Your blessings come in obedience'. At the time, I was struggling to make ends meet. I'd been used to a certain lifestyle but now I was finding it hard to rub two nickels together. I was living with four kids in a disgusting, roach infested, three bedroom apartment, barely enough food to eat, and she was telling me to tithe.  I kept looking at my budget and AFTER all my bills, I had nothing left to give. I remembered the widow giving her last but I just wasn't there yet. I was afraid to give my LAST. I felt stuck with nowhere to turn. My mom prayed with me and asked me to trust God again. He had never failed me yet. When I literally fled from a miserable, abusive marriage, He provided me with the necessary resources to start over again. She reminded me of how much He'd already come through and all He was asking me for was my obedience and faith. 

I'll never forget this year. The year 2001. I call it my year of miracles. I'd been working at the church and I would smile on the outside and cry my heart out to God on the inside. I was serving and praying but my circumstances didn't seem to move. They just didn't seem to be improving. I was on the verge of giving in and giving up. At our solemn assembly, I prayed specifically for a change in our circumstances. I needed a word from God to tell me it was going to be okay. It was that year that a lovely couple gave me the book, The Prayer of Jabez... and I began to really read and study. Except, still no tithing and still a defeated attitude.

Then one day, I decided, I'm gonna try something. There were some things I could cut back on and the kids are gonna help. There was an attitude adjustment that needed to be made. I sat the kids down and told them, I believe The Lord wants us to be good stewards of what He's already given us. Even if it's not exactly what we want at the moment, we need to be content and take care of what we have. Why would He give us more if we don't take care of what He's already provided? I began to take joy in the fact that I was being poured into daily by a wonderful ministry and so were my kids. I took joy in the fact that we had a roof over our heads, bills were paid, there was food to eat, and clothes on our backs. I was thankful and grateful to have a job that not only provided for us financially, but also spiritually. I changed my budget and put tithing at the TOP of the list BEFORE I paid anything else... We cleaned the house til it sparkled and removed the clutter. That's when it happened! The miracle of 2001.

My dear friend told me I was a walking testimony. I still smile when I think of it now because back then I felt I was just trying to be obedient and make life bearable for my kids... I really had that mustard seed faith that they talk about. And in the midst of the chaos, I had found something... Joy.  Unexplainable joy deep down inside that I couldn't explain. I had peace and I wasn't worried.

Come back tomorrow to learn of the miracle that came when I found joy!
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