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Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Red Convertible

Today, my precious husband, gave me a surprise College Graduation gift. A red, mustang convertible.
Now, I know every girl in town is envious of me... I'm so blessed, excited and SHOCKED! Jeff Chavis is a very frugal guy, and for him to purchase this car for ME... well - I know it held a private message. 
If you have heard my "red convertible" story - you know that for quite a while now - seeing a red convertible has been my "sign" from Jesus - reminding me to Let Him Drive!
The story is so personal - I have only shared it a couple places upon God's leading.
So here's my "Red Convertible" story...
I was at our Ladies Prayer Retreat in October 2007. My sister Debbie led one of our devotions using an illustration from a Max Lucado book about "Tucker Town" - A town where all the residents pushed their vehicles around all day - with engines running... they just liked DOING THINGS for themselves! Of course, they were tired, worn out souls, with no life! We all thought that was pretty silly - then the devotion took a quick turn and she talked about how we try to do things "in our own power". God doesn't want us to push our car around all day - nor does He want us to get in and drive it. HE WANTS TO DRIVE! 
So at the end of the devotion, I was on the floor - face in the carpet - pouring my heart out in prayer... asking God to help me with the struggle to "be in control"! With all of the hats I wore and the responsibilities on my shoulders at the time, I felt overwhelmed, overworked, under-appreciated and exhausted most of the time! I was the Pastor's wife of a busy church, music director, choir leader, church pianist... just to mention a few of my duties.
I have never had a "vision" before - but that morning - I had one.
I saw a huge Bus sitting in our Church parking lot. People were everywhere - getting on and off the bus - and I could see myself there - running around with clipboard in hand - trying to create order in the chaos. I was delegating everything; from getting the tires checked to getting a logo painted on the bus. People were interrupting me, asking me questions and I seemed to have an answer for all of them. I finally walked around and started up the steps to get on the bus. I remember thinking... "I wonder if Jeff (my husband) or Brocc (my son and the co-pastor) should drive?" I knew it should be one of them, but I felt torn as to which one should be the driver. When I boarded the bus, I looked up and saw a man sitting in the seat just behind the driver's seat. His eyes bored into mine and immediately I knew... this man was Jesus. The realization made me gasp and I asked Him the craziest question... I said, "What are YOU doing here?" 
Very kindly, he replied, "I'm here to drive the bus." 
"YOU?" I queried, in disbelief! (I just felt like He should have a more important role than the bus-driver!) 
He stood up and looked down at me - and begin to gently explain. "You know that I have plans for this Church. Prophesies have been proclaimed about my plans for your future. Much prayer has gone forth asking me to take you to a new dimension. So, I have to drive, if you want to get to the places I want to take you." 
I was still confused. "But what are WE supposed to do?" (speaking of myself and my family)
His words hit me like a brick. "Just sit down, and ride." 
"What? That's it? Just ride the bus like everybody else? I mean, shouldn't we be recruiting more people... or monitoring or SOMEthing?" 
"No... I just need you to sit down - and ride the bus."
I began to sob - and that's what I did for the next half hour or so.

Later, I shared this vision with the Ladies group - and wept - asking them to pray for me - that I could learn to just "Sit down and ride the bus!"

As the weeks passed, it became almost comical... I would be running around on a Sunday morning with my list of tasks - stressed to the max - trying to get everything up and ready to go for service. Invariably, one of my sweet friends would saddle up to me and whisper - "Just ride the bus, Sis. Chavis!" I would laugh and joke back... "Well, the bus has four flat tires this morning, so if I don't get someone motivated, no one's going anywhere, anytime soon!" 
But in prayer, I would seriously plead with God... "Lord, help me! I really don't know HOW to sit down and ride! I've been doing what I do for so long - I don't know HOW to stop!!"
Month after month passed, and my daily struggle continued. I prayed, cried and even fasted - asking God to TEACH me how to sit down so HE could drive!
In January of 2008 - we traveled down to the Because Of The Times Conference in Alexandria, LA. During one of the altar services, I crawled down between the pews and found myself again, praying my desperate prayer. I remember saying, "I don't know how to let you drive this bus, Jesus!"
And immediately - I was back in the first vision - same setting - same bus in the church parking lot - and I had the same clipboard... running around trying to get everybody on board with this project.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a red flash - so I turned to see what it was. Spinning into the parking lot - pulling alongside that big bus - was a Red Convertible - and JESUS was driving it! He just looked at me and smiled - then kind of tilted His head towards the passenger seat. He didn't have to say a word! I dropped my clipboard and ran around the car - opened the door and jumped in that convertible! As He popped it into gear - I remember saying, "Oh yes! I can DO this!!" 
All of my frustration, confusion and struggle was gone! I got up off of that conference floor changed and relieved! I did not know WHERE He was taking me and I honestly didn't care. I just knew He was driving and I wasn't! 
You see, just a few weeks after I got into that car with Him, I was diagnosed with breast cancer - and He drove me through the curvy, foggy roads of two surgeries - 33 treatments of radiation - months of uncertainty and fatigue... but it was all just a part of the scenery with Jesus driving! 
My son came home from college and took over the music. Darling saints stepped up and took on responsibilities I could no longer fulfill. I had finally learned how to sit down and ride. The peace of God surrounded me like a warm blanket, as I watched leaders emerge from the woodwork. People who would have never stood up, if I had not sat down.
From that day to this - when I see a Red Convertible - my heart flutters - because it reminds me - that HE IS IN CONTROL! Sometimes, before I even realize it, I will gasp out loud! My husband has learned not to be alarmed... its just a Red Convertible moment.
So, today... when he drove up beside me in that Red, Mustang Convertible... I didn't know whether to laugh or cry! Its a lovely car that anyone would enjoy driving and owning... but to me - its more than a car. Its a message.
A message I am living - one day at a time!
I'm letting Him drive...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Living the Blessed Life!

Proverbs 10:2 Tainted wealth has no lasting value, but right living can save your life.
"Hi Mrs. Chavis", the lady sitting in the foyer of the restaurant said kindly. I greeted her and looked closely - trying to figure out who she was. She looked vaguely familiar, but my mind was drawing a blank. Her hair and clothes were disheveled and in need of washing. She looked to be in her 70's and was obviously not in good health. And was that alcohol I smelled on her? I pushed these thoughts out of my mind and stepped closer... "I'm trying to remember where I know you from, sweetie". When she spoke her name to me, I tried not to show my surprise. Could this be true? This was not an elderly woman! She was younger than me! My mind was flooded with the memories of her story... Living in a small town, you hear things about people...
Her husband was one of the wealthiest and most prominent men in our town. He owned several properties and when he divorced his wife (who was the Mayor of Spring Lake!) well... it made the headlines. Of course days after their divorce was final, he married a beautiful young woman - nearly 25 years younger than him - whom he had been living with. 
And now she sat looking up at me - 25 years later... unrecognizable. I sat down beside her and said, "It's so good to see you Cynthia... how have you been?" She began to pour her heart out to me. She pulled up her pants leg to show me a bandage - telling me how desperately she needed our church to pray for her. A six month old wound was not healing because of a circulatory blockage. She told me that she needed surgery to save her leg, but that she had no insurance. When I asked about her husband, she told me that he was in an Alzheimer patient in a sanitarium... and that all of his estate had been absorbed by the nursing homes and twenty-four hour care he needed for the past ten years. She only had one of the rental homes left, where she now lives... in near poverty. 
By this time the rest of our group was exiting the restaurant, and I gathered them to pray for this precious lady. We anointed her with oil and prayed a prayer of healing and blessing over her. She sobbed and promised to come to church... and then she claimed her healing right there. We rejoiced with her and I gave her our church card and contact information.  
My husband and I drove home reflecting on the last few times we had seen this family. Her husband owned a Garden Center where we frequently went for plants and such... we recalled how vehement he was against religion, God and Christians. I remember that his young wife would just shake her head and smile, because she went to church occasionally, and he would just rant about her wasting her time and his money. When the Garden Center closed, we heard through the grapevine that he was ill and that they had lost the business... and then later that he was in a nursing home. 
In my Bible reading this morning, this verse in Proverbs reminded me of the life of this couple. He was a millionaire - a prominent man in our city. She lived the high life. Wanted for nothing... but tainted wealth has no lasting value. When we come to the end of our days... right living is what will sustain us and give us hope! I am so grateful for my life today. I may not have tasted of the wealth of this world, but I'm living the BEST LIFE! I'm living a BLESSED LIFE! And I thank God for every breath!
 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Stop Whining and Get a Grip!

Happy New Year!

Lamentations 3:21-23 has always been a favorite passage of mine-
"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."
 
And I am sure I've read that passage in context as I have read through the Bible many times. 
Today I read it in "The Message" translation. Now, let me preface this by saying that I LOVE the King James Version - it is my #1 baseline translation of the Bible. However I do like to read parallel translations just to get a better grip on the meaning of a particular passage as I study. 
I also consulted Matthew Henry's commentary and found this note: "Some think Jeremiah makes these complaints, not only as an intercessor for Israel, but as a type of Christ, who was thought by some to be Jeremiah the weeping prophet, because he was much in tears and to him many of the passages here may be applied.Reading this chapter, you can certainly understand why the book of Lamentations is so named... in our day this kind of "lamenting" is often called complaining - or whining... 
Here's an excerpt...
1 I'm the man who has seen trouble, trouble coming from the lash of God's anger. 
2 He took me by the hand and walked me into pitch-black darkness. 
3 Yes, he's given me the back of his hand over and over and over again.  
4 He turned me into a scarecrow of skin and bones, then broke the bones.  
5 He hemmed me in, ganged up on me, poured on the trouble and hard times.  
6 He locked me up in deep darkness, like a corpse nailed inside a coffin.  
7 He shuts me in so I'll never get out, manacles my hands, shackles my feet. 
8 Even when I cry out and plead for help, he locks up my prayers and throws away the key.  
   (Wow... have you ever felt like this?)
9 He sets up blockades with quarried limestone. He's got me cornered.  
10 He's a prowling bear tracking me down, a lion in hiding ready to pounce.  
11 He knocked me from the path and ripped me to pieces. 
     When he finished, there was nothing left of me.  
12 He took out his bow and arrows and used me for target practice.  
     (Poor guy... he's talking about GOD treating him like this... 
     can you say "depressed"?)

13 He shot me in the stomach with arrows from his quiver.  
14 Everyone took me for a joke, made me the butt of their mocking ballads.  
15 He forced rotten, stinking food down my throat, bloated me with vile drinks.  
16 He ground my face into the gravel. He pounded me into the mud.  
17 I gave up on life altogether. I've forgotten what the good life is like.  
     (Can you relate yet?)
18 I said to myself, "This is it. I'm finished. God is a lost cause." 
     It's a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God  
19 I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed. 
20 I remember it all - oh, how well I remember - the feeling of hitting the bottom.  
    (Okay... here comes my favorite part!)
21 But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, 
    I keep a grip on hope: 
22 God's loyal love couldn't have run out, 
    His merciful love couldn't have dried up. 
23 They're created new every morning
    How great your faithfulness!  
      (This is so awesome... keep reading!)
24 I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left.  
25 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.  
26 It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. 
27 It's a good thing when you're young to stick it out through the hard times. 
28 When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence.  
     (Here's some great advice!)
29 Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. 
30 Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face. The "worst" is never the worst. 
     (Wow... great insight!)
31 Why? Because the Master won't ever walk out and fail to return. 
32 If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.  
33 He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way:  
34 Stomping down hard on luckless prisoners,  
35 Refusing justice to victims in the court of High God, 
36 Tampering with evidence - the Master does not approve of such things. 
     God Speaks Both Good Things and Hard Things into Being  
     (What? See... some people don't think this is true - 
     but its in the Word!)
37 Who do you think "spoke and it happened"? It's the Master who gives such orders.  
38 Doesn't the High God speak everything, good things and hard things alike, into being?  
39 And why would anyone gifted with life complain when punished for sin?  
     (This is a powerful concept! Life is a Gift from God! Yet some    
    say "It's MY life! I'll live MY life the way I want to!" They don't 
    think God should give them guidelines or rules to live by? 
    Think again!
40 Let's take a good look at the way we're living and reorder our lives under God. 
     (Great place to start a New Year's goal-setting session!  
     Reordering... reevaluating... re-prioritizing... 
     Yep! It's gonna be a GREAT year!!)