Hand’s Off!

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In the past, I have tried to make things happen or tried to figure out how I think God should make something happen!  I have a detail-oriented brain that likes to organize everything under the sun, lest –gasp!—the whole world should come to a screeching halt.

One time, I returned from a trip where I had met a bunch of neat people—including a guy.  Once home, I got on the Internet and searched for his name on Facebook.  As soon as I went to click the “Add as Friend” button, God stopped me and told me not to initiate.  I was irritated at the thought, but after a few minutes of mental war, I pulled my cursor away from the button.  The next day (yes, the very next day!) I went to church and got further instructions from God through a traveling evangelist: “The favor factor is on your life.  Don’t mess it up with looking.  Don’t check. God has a plan.  When it’s right, the plan will be perfect.”  Okay, okay, I get the message!

Later there were times when I still had to control my impulses. I was so tempted to try to look up a potential candidate on Facebook, or “innocently” ask questions about so-and-so.  As God pointed out to a friend of mine, who will you thank when you initiate the relationship and get the guy?  You would only be able to pat yourself on the back for the relationship.  That doesn’t honor God, and in the long run, it doesn’t satisfy you.  Better to step back and let God hold the reins.

I’ve heard a pastor put the faith-and-wait issue like this: “Faith is the constant; time is the variable.” Your job is to keep your faith solid and unchanging.  The only thing that may seem uncertain is the timing that only God can handle.  Since God’s capable of doing everything and anything, it would seem logical that He should be the one working out the details.  If you’re anything like I was, though, you want to help God take care of His business.  You know, take some of the load off His shoulders….

Abraham tried to do just that—and paid for it.  While God had a great plan in mind to get Abe’s son, Abraham tried to step in and choose the method himself.  He had a baby through his servant woman.  From then on, nothing but chaos ruled in the house.  Abe ended up sending the woman and his new son away, never to be seen again.  After a good discussion with Abraham, God put His plan into action.  Even when it seemed naturally impossible, the promise showed up through Isaac.

Like Abraham, God wants your dreams to come true through the promise He’s given you, not through your human efforts.  God instructs you in Proverbs 3:5, 6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.  If you’re truly trusting God with all your heart—including those romantic dreams—then you’ll be willing to let Him do the work.  Your tiny mind can only reason things through so far before you come up short.  Your benefits result in letting Someone else be the mastermind behind it all.

To be continued…

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My Story

 

The following is “my story,” my marriage testimony of how God brought my husband and I together.  It took years of waiting – sometimes in faith, sometimes in doubt – but God was faithful through it all.  I hope it encourages you to apply  your faith toward God’s will and His very best.  His dream for you is bigger than your dream for yourself, and He is more than able to get the job done if you’ll trust Him! (Lyrics to the songs I mention can be found under the “I Found Him” pages above.)

For years I, like many other girls, dreamed of being married.  I set my dream in motion in several ways. In 2000, when I was nineteen-years-old, I wrote “A Dream Come True,” a song I planned on singing to my husband as I walked down the aisle.  I also sketched out wedding plans with a pencil on lined paper. That same year, I wrote the song “I’ll Find Him with You,” declaring that God was my matchmaker.  Over the years, I invested in my friends’ weddings with the anticipation that it would one day be me.  Even then, despite the strong desire and declaration of my trust in God, my saga toward marriage took longer than some.  Though I turned down several potential suitors (including some complete strangers and brash coworkers), the faith adventure behind my dream began when I was around twenty-six-years-old.

One night in 2007, I walked across a dark parking lot to my car.  As I drove to my tiny apartment, I felt the urge to pray for a husband. Though the desire in my heart was real, I hadn’t really prayed for one in the past.  That night was different.  I had just left a prayer service and I was spiritually sensitive.  Somehow, I just felt that it was time for me to send my petition—seriously—to heaven.  “God,” I prayed quietly, “I pray for a husband.”  Within moments, I received God’s response. As tears pooled in my eyes, I distinctly heard God speak to my heart, “Request granted.”

It was wonderful to have a direct word from Him, but even if He had not chosen to say something specifically to me, I had two inspiring verses to stand on:  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (Mark 11:24) Now this is the confidence that you have in Him, that if you ask anything according to His will, He hears you. And if you know that He hears you, whatever you ask, you know that you have the petitions that you have asked of Him. (1 John 5:14-15)

A few months later a friend and I had a chance to go to a church conference out of town.  I preceded the trip with prayer, releasing the event to God’s purpose.  At one point, He stopped me and said, “Relax.  This is My gift to you.”  I stopped and started packing!  Toward the end of the conference I was introduced to a young evangelist.  This excited me because I had always felt called into the ministry.  I went to my hotel room later, praying that God’s will would be done . . . but deep down, I knew what I wanted.  Though this young man had acted interested, and it seemed like such a God-setup, he did not pursue. I went back home with anxiety attacking my mind. Why didn’t he pursue?  Had I done something wrong?  Was this part of God’s gift to me, but had somehow gone wrong?

For months I mulled over every detail of the event.  Thoughts plagued me day and night, disrupting my peace at work, church, and home.  No matter how hard I tried, I could never find any answers to settle anything in my heart.  The dream I had so longed for had entered my life but had disappeared just as quickly.  I was left floundering in self-pity, frustration, and anxiety. I had never been under so much mental strain before.  Hope deferred had made my heart sick (Proverbs 13:12).  I didn’t realize it then, but I was not trusting God. My faith had been shaken.

In June of 2007, one of my neighbors at my apartments – a clean-cut man in his thirties – asked me out on a date.  I didn’t have peace about going out with him so I politely declined.  I knew I had made the right decision, but I was still dejected.  How many times was I going to have to say “no” to someone’s advances?  When could I give my heart away and enjoy the company of my first boyfriend?  I felt discouragement overtake me.  That’s when I heard God quietly tell me, “Christa, let Me hold your heart until your husband comes.”  Those words were the inspiration of a song I wrote called “Hold My Heart.”

In May 2008, I penned the song “Can’t You See,” stating my love for Jesus and the treasure my future husband would receive when we married.  Then in July of 2008, I began to write an outline to a book called I’ll Find Him with You, inspired by the song of the same name. The book covered allowing God to design your love story, trusting Him, and keeping your standards when it came time to choose the right man. It was all I believed and lived by.

On January 23rd, 2009, God led me to pray for my future husband – whoever and wherever he was.  So I began to pray a general prayer of protection, grace, and guidance over him as I would do over anyone else.  However, when I began to pray in the Spirit, the prayer came out of me like a gusher.  My prayer language sounded different than usual, so I knew I was interceding for something specific. Just as quickly, the prayer language stopped and went back to normal.  I had no idea what my future husband might have been facing at that moment in his life, but I wrote in my journal that night: “My husband is only successful!  He has the victory!”

A few months later, in August of 2009, I was asked to move to Dumas, Texas to be on staff at another church. Shortly after the move, I was diagnosed with something that could potentially scare some men away.  However, I knew that God’s will for me was healing, so I stood on my redemption promises.  I believed that with God all things were possible, so I didn’t give up on my desire for a husband.  While I was at it, I added a request for a house to my prayers.  I called it my “Three H’s” – healing, husband, and house.  I thanked God for them every day because as I John 5:14-15 says, I had them the moment I asked!

As an act of faith for my future husband, I started to write the manuscript for I’ll Find Him with You.  Shortly after finishing the manuscript, I bought my first house!  It was a perfect size for a small family with a beautiful yard, trees, extra drive way, garage and workshop. (Little did I know that my future husband would take pride in taking care of a yard and working in a shop.  He would also own a trailer that would fit perfectly in the double driveway.)

In May 2011, a man – mutual friends of a couple ministers I knew – asked to be friends on Facebook.  I suspected it was for romantic purposes, but I gave “John” the benefit of the doubt and added him as a friend.  Sure enough, he asked me out.  I turned him down three times because of a lack of peace, but eventually caved, giving him “a chance.”  However, I disconnected after three weeks of communication, knowing he was not the one for me.  He was rebounding badly and had other issues that showed up after we stopped communicating.  I had disobeyed the Holy Spirit by going out with him, but God was merciful to protect me from a bad choice.  It proved to be a counterfeit set up by the devil to keep me from meeting the “real man.”

Unknown to me, a man named Michael Madrid had started attending our church a couple months before I went out on a date with “John”.  Michael spent weeks attending and eventually noticed me.  While I was totally oblivious to his existence, he watched from afar as I came and went with the children I taught in children’s church.  He had started to get his hopes up when “John” and I sat together at two services in church.  Michael had thought I was single, but when he saw me with “John” and his two boys, he assumed I was married.  Once John was out of the picture, though, Michael discovered I was still single and made his move.

On June 23rd, 2011, he introduced himself.  He and other men in the church strode into my classroom carrying chairs.  The moment he walked through the door, he said, “You must be the children’s minister.  Better you than me!”  My first humorous thought was, “Hmmm.  A child-hater,” but I didn’t hold it against him.  That night he attended a meeting designed to help people get involved in the church.  Michael introduced himself and I was immediately attracted.

From then on, we talked regularly after church.  I was impressed with his character and standards.  Before long, it became clear that he wanted to date me.  Since I had no intention of dating someone I wouldn’t marry, I quizzed him on some key topics, including the doctor’s diagnosis.  He didn’t have a problem with it at all.  In fact, he stated, “The way I was raised, if you liked someone, you took the good and the bad.”

On May 27th, 2012, we got engaged!  Once I knew I would marry him, I asked him something I had simply “hidden in my heart” for the past three years: “What were you doing in January of 2009?”  He responded, “Oh, that was a bad year.  I wasn’t even talking to my family.”  That told me he was in serious trouble since he and his family are very close!  I was encouraged because I knew my prayer in 2009 moved God’s hand on his behalf!

I started to plan the wedding ceremony, pulling out of my keep-sake stash of notes I had made. The pencil-sketched plans came to life as I shopped for topiaries, a simple dress, and reception food.  I collaborated with my brother and recorded my song. On March 16th, 2013, I walked down the aisle to that tune and made my vows to the man God had reserved for me!

As I look back on all the steps that led me to my wedding, I stand in awe of God’s faithfulness.  He was faithful to honor my faith, and sent me a husband.  He was faithful to protect me from the wrong relationships so I could find His will and His best.  He was faithful to give me words of encouragement to keep me going when I was discouraged.  And I know He will be faithful to fill our marriage with His goodness so we can fulfill His purpose!  He indeed makes dreams come true!

Marriage: Commit to the Commission

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Though Jesus did the biggest work, God’s dream isn’t complete until everyone has heard the Gospel.  For the world to hear the Gospel, people like you and me (married or unmarried) have to be willing not only to share the Good News but also to live it.

 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.  And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:15-18).

Just like God desired that Adam and Eve duplicate themselves, God desires that you duplicate yourself spiritually.  Whether you are single or married, the ultimate purpose of your existence is to advance the Kingdom of God.  You do this by sharing your faith and living out God’s will for your life.  Some may receive the message; some may reject it.  Whatever the response, God’s greatest dream is being fulfilled through you.

How does marriage fit into the Great Commission? Marriage was designed from the very beginning to support the plan of God.  Adam was given the great responsibility of tending to the Garden, but God saw that He needed a helper to get it done.  When God sees your life in Him, He sees a willing vessel to be used for the furthering of the Gospel. This can be done as a single person, but two working together is always better than one (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).  When you’re married, you have the opportunity to do more for the Kingdom of God than if you’re single.  You strengthen your spouse, and compliment their strengths and weaknesses.  Though you may automatically think of marriage as something to gratify your own desires, its first and main purpose is to gratify God’s desire for His Kingdom.  It’s a Kingdom you are honored to represent, and a Kingdom you are anointed to support.

Note: The photo above is of the day Michael and I committed to further the Gospel and honor God through our union.  Three years later, the honor and commitment continues!

Praying For You by Mandisa

One of the greatest ways you can love your future mate, whether you know him or not, is to pray for Him.  God can do more for Him in your absence than you may realize!  No amount of dreaming and wishing could impact his life – and yours – than including God’s influence through prayer.

I am one who knows this by experience.  In the winter of 2009, God led me to pray for my husband, three years before we ever met.  Having no idea what he looked like or where he lived, I by faith lifted him up to God.  I prayed until I felt a release to stop.

When I finally met him and we were engaged, I asked him where he was and what he was doing in 2009.  His face serious, he admitted that it wasn’t a good year for him.  He wasn’t even communicating with his family, whose relationships were very close.

Did I hear from God that day He told me to pray for Michael?  Absolutely!  I am confident that if I had not obeyed and prayed that day, we may not be married today.

The devil doesn’t want God’s plans to be fulfilled in your life.  He will send frustrations to both you and your future spouse to hinder you from meeting.  He only wins if you are overcome by frustration, discouragement, and pity parties.  But when you rise up and allow God to work through your prayers, great things happen!

All Things Beautiful

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In asking you to trust Him entirely, God is asking you to trust His ability to give you the best. He has promised that He will not withhold any good thing from you (Psalm 84:11).  However, you’ve got to trust that His heart is to lead you to that best in His timing.  That’s when a dream fulfilled is given the chance to become beautiful!

He has made everything beautiful in its time . . . (Ecclesiastes 3:1a)

Heart Like You by Love and the Outcome

If God were to take a microscope to our hearts, what would He find?  A heart engrossed in the desire for a relationship?  A heart craving romance?  Or would He find a heart like His, a heart that beats for His glory and is dedicated to His cause?  That’s the kind of heart He’s looking for.  That’s the kind of heart that is fulfilled with His perfect will . . . the perfect man and the perfect timing ordained by Him.

God’s Treasure #2

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No one really likes to be controlled.  The thought of being a puppet tied to strings really doesn’t appeal to any of us.  When we say that God holds our hearts, we’re really saying that He is in control of us.  Yikes!  Here come the strings!  But unlike man’s controlling methods, there is freedom in being held by God.  God gives us guidelines to live by for our protection.  When we allow God to decide what we do with our hearts, we can be free of worry.  No one likes to be stressed over making a tough decision.  But when God is in control, He makes decisions easy.  When a guy comes along, God will show us whether or not to open the latch to our treasure box to expose our hearts.  What He says is for our best, so there’s no worry involved.  Obedience is the only action that He’s asking of us.

There will be temptations every day to try to get us to pull your heart away from God’s hands.  I know how it is!  A guy comes along and pays you the slightest attention and you want to jump out of your treasure box and into his arms.  Proverbs 4:23 says to “keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”  It says to keep your heart, not give it away! Though God has possession of you, you alone have the final say about where your heart will go.  But by “keeping your heart,” you’re stopping the temptations from going too far and stealing your heart away.

The safest place in life to be is in the safety of God’s hands.  You are safe from men who don’t deserve you.  You are protected from making decisions that will harm you.  You know the treasure you hold will go unblemished because you’ve yielded to the protective hands of your Father.  When He holds the key to your heart, you can be confident that only the best of men will gain entrance to it.

All for Love

God’s greatest motivation for being a part of our lives is His love for us.  John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. He loves us!  He’s not trying to control our lives just for the sake of being boss. True love doesn’t demand our hearts; it asks for our hearts.  I John 4:19 says, We love Him because He first loved us. He doesn’t want our hearts out of obligation; He wants our hearts because we’ve chosen to love Him in return.

If we really love God, we’re going to want His will done in our lives.  We’re going to trust Him with every little detail.  It’s not hard to trust someone when they’ve proven their love for us.  God did His best show of love by sending Jesus.  Then He continued to show His love by giving us “great and precious promises.” (2 Peter 1:4) We can’t find a better show of love!

The greatest commandment that Jesus gave us was to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)  Loving God with all our hearts means allowing Him to do with us whatever He likes.  In return, God places His love on the inside of us, enabling us to love the way He loves.  The more we love Him and allow His love to work in our lives, the more we’re able to love a man.  It’s not the kind of love that gives up when frustrations and challenges come.  It’s the kind of love that puts others first, and sees their value through God’s eyes.  Without that kind of love motivating us, we can’t possible see God’s very best love life fulfilled in our lives.  Every relationship we may ever have will just fall apart because God wasn’t in it.

God promises that when we put Him first in our lives, His very best blessings will follow.  Psalm 37:4 says, Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Our dreams will come true, not because we were searching for them, but because we were searching for Him.  When we get to the point where we can honestly say that we love God more than any relationship, any dream, then we know God will move on our behalf.  He sees that He has our hearts . . . and that is the safest place to be.