Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Ministry of Misfits

The past few months have been an extremely hard season for me, my husband, our family, and our ministry. People betrayed us. People turned their backs on us. People deserted us, abandoned us, and left when we needed them most. We had to break fellowship with people we have been connected to for decades. We began to question why we do this, and if we are still supposed to be doing this. We began to feel alone. Like we were the only ones who cared about the addicts that are dying in the street- dying without knowing Jesus. The devil did his best to destroy us. To make us give up. To walk away. To turn our back on ministry. To throw in the towel.

BUT GOD had another plan. A week and a half ago in North Carolina, we held a 3 day crusade with 3 other ministries. God showed up and showed out! People were healed, delivered from drugs, demons were cast out, people were slain in the spirit, people left speaking in tongues- filled with the Holy Ghost. The presence of God was so heavy that everyone who walked into that place left changed. Including myself. Things that we, and all of the people that we brought with us, would have never experienced if we would have given into discouragement and walked away. Little did we realize then, but we felt so out of place because God was shifting and positioning things. Change was happening- and change hurts. God was taking our will- and what we thought should or would be happening- and was instead making things work for His purposes.

For months, my husband and I have been feeling out of place. Like we don't belong. Like no one  really, truly understands what we go through in ministry. We have felt so unsupported, so misunderstood. Like we were the only ones fighting to keep this thing going, and questioning if maybe we weren't supposed to keep it going at all.

Proverbs 3:5 tells us to not lean on our own understanding, but to trust in the Lord with all of our hearts, and He will direct our paths. Very wise advice, but much easier said than done. Our flesh wants us to lean on our own understanding, on our own logic. We always want to know how things are going to turn out, what the future holds, why things are happening the way that they are. But if this weekend has shown me anything, it's that Isaiah 55:8 has become my new life verse- "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways" declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than that earth, so are my ways higher than your ways."

You see, little did I understand then, but God was working His perfect will together through the rejection, through the abandonment, through having to cut people out of our lives, through feeling detached and alone. You see, EVERY single pastor that was in North Carolina had been feeling the same way. They had had the same exact things happen to them and their ministries. They had people turn their backs on them, betray them, they had to walk away from people. They had felt alone and detached too. What we thought was people, was actually God orchestrating things for His purpose. God used that detachment and loneliness that was brought on by people in ministry hurting us to bring all of us together. He separated all of us for HIS purpose, not ours. He used what we had been going through to connect us with each other. To allow this crusade and revival to happen- and for the many more to come.  What we thought was people kicking us to the curb, was actually GOD positioning us where we needed to be, and removing people from our lives that would hinder His plan, so that HE can move through us as a ministry team the way that HE needs to- with no constraints, no looking towards the approval of people, no boxing in the Holy Spirit. And in order for that to happen, He had to remove all of us from where we were at, to take us to where we needed to be- and He loved us enough to make sure that people who would hinder or hurt us and what God wants to do didn't come with us.

So here we are. A rag tag gang of misfits being used by God to make a difference in the lives of the lost by preaching the gospel. Being a misfit has given me enormous sympathy and love for other misfits- the outcasted, the unloveable, the rejects, the addicts, the gangbangers, the prostitutes, those who don't fit in with "proper" society. I have a heart for misfits. And so does Jesus. His entire ministry was built on misfits. He preached to lepers, prostitutes, murderers. He was not in the synagogues preaching to the Pharisees and the "proper" people of society- because not only did He
come to heal the sick- and those who knew that they needed God rather than resting in their own righteousness and good works- but He (God Himself!), was a misfit and not accepted by the Pharisees. He knew what it was to be rejected, to be abandoned, to be mocked, to be looked down upon, to be talked about, to be persecuted.

You know where else I have heard about a rag tag gang of misfits? In the new testament. The disciples of Jesus Christ- the disciples Jesus himself called- were misfits of society. God Himself did not recruit the religious elite for His crew.  Instead, He chose what was despised in this world to shame the pride of the haughty (1 Corinthians 1:27). A shady tax collector, a violent radical named Simon, two very arrogant hotheads named James and John, those who held non-elite jobs and thus weren't seen as "worthy" in their society (fishermen), and a violent Jewish thug who persecuted, imprisoned, and helped murder the very early followers of Jesus -Saul of Tarsus- formed the inner circle of our sinless God.  If Jesus had chosen the Pharisees or Jewish rabbis to be his followers, we might have reason to doubt the unconditional nature of salvation. We might question our own worthiness or ability to win His approval or beckon His attention. But the fact that Jesus chose men such as the disciples shows that the heart of God is not swayed by human convention. No one is beyond the reach of God’s grace.

Throughout history, God has always used the least likely and the most unqualified to provoke change. The Bible is full of misfits—those who usually lost out on man's approval but always won with a God-dreamed vision. They are the ones man overlooks but God notices and plucks from obscurity.
God almost always chooses the one who wouldn't get picked to be on man's team to be an all-star on God's team (Prov. 15:25).

It is the misfits who know that we are, without a doubt, nothing without God. We know that there is no good in us at all without Jesus. We know that through our own righteousness (what a joke!) and good works, we can do nothing. Peter and John healed a man, and when the Pharisees and High Priests brought them before them to be questions, the bible says, "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus."- Acts 4:13.

What made these unqualified, misfit servants of Jesus stand out as they went about preaching the gospel was not who they WERE but who they KNEW. The message of their lives said these men had been with Jesus, and they (and everyone else!) understood that without God's intervention in their lives, they were simply unqualified fools. They were feared by the religious and powerful, because they never relied on themselves to do anything. Their entire reputation was one that made others sit up and say, "These guys have been with Jesus!" - because everyone knew it couldn't be done through their own righteousness- since they had none! Their lives showed the power of God to all- just hearing about former murderers, tax collectors,  thugs, and the non-socially elite and uneducated healing people in the name and power of God pointed people back to Jesus- because everyone knew that these things couldn't be done out of their own human power- because of how screwed up they had been!

Being a misfit is a constant reminder to me, and the people I do ministry with, that we are nothing without Jesus, and can do nothing without His power. We are well aware at how powerless and screwed up we were when He found us and saved us. It is those who God has saved out of the deepest pits that understand just howmighty He really is, and how powerless we are on our own. The addicts and prostitutes and murderers and liars and gang members and thieves who have head on collision with Jesus and become set free and transformed are aware of just how powerful God's hand really is, and just how far He is willing to reach to accept us back to Him when we repent and surrender. Misfits are able to minister to other misfits- the ones who haven't been accepted into mainstream churches, the ones who need someone to go to THEM and tell them about Jesus.

God is awakening the misfits and the unqualified. Purity is the backbone of authority, and authority is determined by brokenness. It is brokenness that keeps us from exalting ourselves in pride but rather be humble, it deepens our compassion for other's suffering and have our heart break for them the way Jesus' does, it causes us to become dependent on his mercy, provision and grace since we can't accomplish anything on our own in our broken state. In brokenness, we become desperate and surrender with all our might to the only one we know can heal us. We get to know God much better in the pit than we ever will on a pedestal. God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalms 34:18).  The spiritual depth of the does not come from degrees on the wall or memberships in prestigious God clubs but from the classroom of brokenness. God has always confounded the wise. He calls forth the available, no matter how misfitting they are.

And I am proud to be one of God's misfits, no matter what the world may think.

2 Corinthians 3: "Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Needle marks and an identity crisis.

"Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9

Have you ever had an identity crisis? Have you ever doubted- even just for a moment- who you were? Doubted who you have been? Doubted who you will become? An identity crisis is  confusing and disorientating, and can come out of nowhere. It can be sparked by the breakup of a relationship, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or position, the loss of respect by someone close to you, your own thoughts, guilt and shame over actions that are out of character, regret over wrong decisions,  the criticism and judgment of others, messages from society, the way that people treat us, or a host of other issues can lead us to doubt who we KNOW we are in vulnerable moments. 

This weekend, I had quite an unexpected, short term identity crisis that really shook me. 

I went to the emergency room because I was having trouble breathing. While in the emergency room, they gave me a breathing treatment and took some blood for lab work. They discharged me and sent me home with steroids. No big deal.

The next day, however, I started having problems breathing again (which, I know realize, was from using excessive amounts of bleach in cleaning my basement a few days before). I went into urgent care, where they decided to give me IV steroids. When the nurse lifted up my sleeve to inject the steroids into my vein, she saw the mark on my arm from the night before. She sort of gasped and looked at me, then looked at her chart, and commented "oh, I see that's where they drew blood last night."

For a split second, I felt the condemnation and judgment that I used to feel when I WAS an IV drug user. Years of feeling unworthy, unwanted, hopeless and disgusted with myself when I was using heroin came rushing back like a ton of bricks. I haven't  been looked at that way by anyone in almost a decade, and I was not expecting that gasp and judgmental glance to hit me the way that it did, because I knew what the mark was from, and so did the nurse, so there was no reason for me to feel condemned over it. I wasn't doing anything wrong, I hadn't done anything wrong. If anything, I should have been appreciative that the nurse took the time to make the observation, since there is a very real, very big heroin problem in this area.  I brushed it off, and the nurse started to try and administer the steroid shot.

What people who haven't been addicts don't understand is that anyone who has ever been an IV drug user will always have some sort of trauma when needles are injected into your veins for medical procedures. Using intravenous drugs is an experience that is intimate in a way that I can't even put into words. The very ritual of using a needle becomes an addiction of its own. Addicts will shoot water when they don't have drugs, just because they are addicted to the needle. And the thing is, that even after long periods of time without touching a needle, once it's injected into your vein, your body remembers. Your mind remembers. Your addiction remembers. And, the hard thing is, in that moment, your mind doesn't differentiate between the fact that the needle is in your vein for a medical procedure, and not to get high. It just knows that there is a needle in your vein, and once you've had a romantic affair with the needle, floods of emotion come back no matter the reasoning.  

Usually, when I get blood drawn, it is over so quickly and I have been clean for so long that it doesn't affect me too much anymore. As long as I don't participate in the ritual and let my head go to a bad place- watching the nurse look for veins, watching them put on the tourniquet, watching them insert the syringe and pull back the blood- I'm alright. As long as I close my eyes through the whole thing, the actual poke doesn't bother me too much. 

However, this is where things got bad for me in Urgent Care. I closed my eyes, and the nurse tried using the vein that the ER had used the night before, and she couldn't get it. She inserted the needle four more times into the same vein, and still couldn't get it. Then she tried a vein in my hand, not once but 3 times, and couldn't get that either. She moved to my other hand, got a vein, but blew it out- meaning that the vein rolled and she shot the steroids into my tissue instead. She got up and said she had to get another shot- all the time saying that she never misses, and she didn't understand what was going on. 

I had managed to keep my eyes closed the entire time. However, when she came back in, I couldn't keep my eyes closed anymore. I was so tired of getting poked with needles that I was going to watch her and make sure she was doing it right. I was praying that God could let her get this, because it was really, really starting to mess with my head. 

I watched the whole thing. She put the tourniquet on, and went to use my "good vein"- the one I had always used when I injected heroin. I watched her insert the needle, and try to pull back blood- in the same spot I myself had done it for years decades earlier. She couldn't get it. She inserted the needle twice more in the same spot, and still couldn't get it. I had an overwhelming urge to scream at her to just let me do it- that I know how to inject things into myself. I had years of practice. I had been a junkie. I know what I am doing. I just wanted it to be over. I just wanted to get out of there. My resolve was starting to wear to a scarily thin place. 

In that moment, I forgot who I was. Who I AM. I was remembering what I had once been, and it scared the life out of me. Feelings and emotions that I never thought I would experience again in my life as long as I stay clean smacked me upside the head like a semi truck. I was transported back to a time in my life when I was a junkie, when I was desperate to find a vein in order to get high. My adrenaline was pounding. I was sweating. I was watching very intently to see blood drawn up into the needle, the same way that I used to look with excitement to ensure that I had gotten a vein before I injected my heroin, so I didn't waste my drugs. 

I felt like a heroin addict again, without touching a drop of drugs. 

What made it worse, is that for the next few days, I was walking around with needle marks and huge bruises from being stuck so many times all over both of my arms and hands. It has been almost a decade since I have had to walk around branded with the track marks of a junkie. While in my head I knew that they were from the hospital and urgent care, my emotions were screaming something else. 

Some photos of needle marks after this weekend. 

It has been so long that I have had to walk around with needle marks on me, that I forgot what it felt like. Every time I looked down at my arms, memories of my addiction popped up. I remember when those marks WERE there because of drugs. I remember how hopeless and horrible and judged I felt. I was conscious of the fact that people could see the marks on my arms and hands, and I remember knowing how visible they were to other people when I was a drug addict, and that they read as a clear sign to others to stay away from me- branded as junkie garbage- even though what I desperately needed was someone to reach out and try to help. Someone to make me feel human. Someone to let me know that needle marks didn't define me. Someone to let me know that there was a way out- that Jesus could free me from my scars, from my hurts, from my hopelessness, from the needlemarks on my arms. 

I know who God is. I know what He delivered me from. I know His power. I know who I am in him. I know that I am no longer a drug addict, that I am no longer lost, that I am no longer enslaved to drugs. I remember what he brought me from. I look at the wonderful life that I have now, and can describe it as nothing short of a miracle. I know I am beloved and forgiven and saved and set free. 

But knowing that doesn't stop Satan from trying to convince me- or to convince you- otherwise.

He will pull out every attack that he can to make us doubt our identity in Christ, and the power that we have over every bondage, stronghold, and mistake in the power of Jesus. 

He doesn't want you to walk in freedom.
He doesn't want you to realize you are forgiven.
He wants you to give up hope.
He wants to distort God's power.
He wants to make you believe you aren't worthy to be called a Christian. 
He wants you to have a false identity- the one he has branded you with through condemnation and sin, rather than the one you have gained through Christ. 

That's why it is so hard for drug addicts to get clean and find freedom in Jesus. They live with the belief that the false identity Satan had them under is who they are, instead of who Christ says that they are. That false identity is just reinforced by the bad things they have done, the mistakes that people won't let them forget, the police records they accumulate, the judgmental glances from people, society writing them off as a lost cause. It is so hard to walk in a new identity in Christ when everywhere you look there is guilt, shame, and condemnation screaming that you are worthless, and that God would never want anything to do with you. Most people don't make it out of addiction because they can't hear God's voice telling them who they are in Him over all of the other noise their addiction and mistakes have caused. That can't hear who they are in Christ over the voices of the people that they have hurt who won't let them forget what they've done, people who want to keep them there.

The truth though, dear one, is that Jesus gave you His identity. No matter WHAT your identity was before, once you accept Christ, you are a new creation, and your identity is in Him. The trick is walking by faith in that truth, and holding God's word about who you are up as the only truth. God's voice and scripture are the only ways to refute the lies that the enemy uses to condemn you. And in order to recognize the lies, you have to tune into God. Pray without ceasing. Repent. Read your bible and study the scriptures and write them on the tablet of your heart, so you can recognize the voices and thoughts that don't line up with them and refute them.. Arm yourself for spiritual warfare- for identity crises that tell you you aren't who God says you are- because I promise you that they will come. 

The beautiful thing is, that even when you DO mess up, even if you relapse, when you make a horrible mistake, when you sin, when you act in an ungodly manner- when you repent and turn back to God- you are STILL His, no matter what you've done. His grace is enough for anything. Your identity is still in Him. Even if those needle marks on my arms would have been from heroin, Jesus still would have loved me. He still would have forgiven me.  The enemy doesn't want you to know that. He wants you to believe that if you fall, or fail, or sin, that you are a hypocrite. He will remind you of all of the horrible things you have done and try to convince you that Jesus wouldn't want anything to do with someone like that- and that if you were REALLY saved, it wouldn't have happened, and God doesn't love you.

The truth, though, is that Jesus came for the sole purpose of saving sinners. He came just for the purpose of saving people who screw up. People who sin. Drug addicts that relapse. Not perfect people, but people who need to be forgiven. It is all throughout scripture. Any voice that tells you anything else is lying, and satan is the father of all lies. 

Who you were- no matter WHAT you were- before God, does not define who you are now in Christ. Never forget that, no matter who or what tries to tell you otherwise.

Do you really know who you are? Where are you getting your identity from? Whose voice are you listening to? 

Listen to Jesus, and walk boldly in your identity in Him, because His voice is the only one that matters. 

"The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned." - Psalms 34:22

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." - 1 John 1:9

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." - 2 Corinthians 5:17

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The storms of life prove the strength of our anchor.

    The storms of life prove the strength of our anchor.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
                                                     Proverbs 3:5,6 

The past few months, our lives have been filled with storms- and I'm not talking tiny ones. Not "my kid spilled juice on my new carpet", "I'm fighting with my best friend", "we are tight on money this month" kind of storms. I'm talking earthshaking storms, the kind that change your entire life. The kind that will either force you to panic and lose all faith, or make you cling to your belief that God will get you through the other side of the storm. 

We lost our home.

While we were camping with our CROSSroads group at LifeFest (a huge 3 day Christian concert in Osh Kosh), we got a call telling us that our apartment had flooded. The tenant above us broke a pipe, and water drained down into our apartment for over an hour, and the damage was so bad that we would have to move out for them to be able to fix it. 

Now, as a woman, your home is a safety net. It's where a lot of our stability comes from, and the place we offer stability to our children and spouses. To have it pulled out from under you with no warning leaves you in a state of panic that I can't even put into words.

The home we had spent years building, caring for, and making memories in was just suddenly gone.

We had to do an emergency move- and thanks to some great friends, it got done pretty fast. Thankfully, NONE of our stuff was ruined or even wet- only the walls in the apartment were damaged. We were put in a temporary upstairs apartment in the same complex, but told we would need to find somewhere else to live. We were basically homeless- technically having somewhere to stay for awhile, but not able to have a home, and living out of boxes with most of our stuff stored in the garage because we knew we were just going to have to move again. 

For weeks, I prayed and fasted. I didn't understand why this was happening, but I knew God had a reason. I've been walking with God and doing ministry long enough where I have seen God use crazy, confusing circumstances to orchestrate His will, and use bad things to bring blessings.  

Knowing that, however, didn't stop me from worrying. Or grieving. Or hurting for my little boy- the little boy that I am responsible for giving a stable life-  who was so confused about where his home went and didn't know where he was supposed to sleep at night, that he walked around with his blanket crying until finally settling on the floor and falling asleep, because he no longer had his bedroom. I felt like I had lost a big part of our lives, without the chance of closure.

Being in limbo is a horrible feeling- especially if you are someone who isn't blessed with the spiritual gift of patience. The not knowing what is going to happen next is a nightmare for someone with control issues. 

How were we going to find somewhere else to live? How were we going to move everything? Where we were going to come up with all of the extra money to do this? I had tons of thoughts racing through my head, until a still, small voice reminded me that He has never failed me before, and He won't start now. I had to trust Him- because ONLY He could turn this situation around. He was allowing this situation to force me to give up my control, and depend completely and utterly on Him. 

God uses the hardest times in our lives to get us to cling to Him the most. I have grown the most as a Christian when I was personally suffering the most. It is in the times of confusion, of fear, of doubt, of wondering, of feeling forgotten or hurt of lonely, that we grow the closest to Him. It's in the valleys of life where we can truly see God walk with us, and when we come to the mountain on the other side and look back, we can see He was with us all along. 

It is in the valleys where we realize that He alone is enough. When there is nothing that we can do to fix a situation, He shows just how powerful He truly is. Seeing His faithfulness in impossible situations shows us just how much He is God, and just how much He loves us. Seeing Him work things out in ways that no human could, keeps us in awe of His glory and omnipotence. 

 Through all of it, God kept reminding me to put my trust in HIM. Was my security in where I lived at, or in God? Was I putting my faith in a home, or in the one who made all things- including our home? The one who had given it to us to begin with, the one who promises to never leave us or forsake us, the one who has taken care of me through the years even when I wasn't walking with Him- was I really going to believe that He would stop taking care of me now?

God was using that time to build my faith- to trust and depend on Him alone. I believed He would come through- He had to, because there was nothing I could do to fix the situation. I know God well enough to know that He doesn't fail, that He loves me, and that He will never stop caring for me. Yet, everyday, I had to fight the doubt that would creep into my head with the word, prayer and fasting. I had to hold fast to my faith, and trust that my God would come through for me- no matter what it looked like. He will always provide, sometimes just not the way we envisioned. 

I had to fight fear with faith, I had to believe that God would move, I had to recall all of the times He has shown Himself faithful and come through for me before. I had to tell the little voice in my head that would pop up to taunt me with doubt to go for a hike. I had to really, truly stand fast in my faith. The only other option was to completely crumble, become hopeless, and give up.

I have a tattoo on my ankle of a cross, a heart, and an anchor. I got it to remind me of  Hebrews 6:19- that hope in God anchors my soul. I also have a tattoo on my wrist of a cross with a semi-colon to remind me to keep going when I could give up and stop, because God is not done with me yet. I have spent a lot of time in the past month looking at those two tattoos.

I chose to try and look at the positive in the situation. I could have blamed it on the devil- that He had taken our home from us, that we were being punished for something, that God didn't love us anymore- but the more I prayed and fasted, the more I heard God tell me that HE was using our apartment being flooded as a way to move us to where HE wanted us and needed us to be.  It was time for us to move on. He was in control, and I just needed to give my control up to Him, and let Him work out our situation.
So I waited. 
And God showed up.
The end result of all of this chaos was an answer beyond our wildest dreams. God gave us a home that we could never have imagined having. A beautiful, huge house, with tons of room to run and a big back yard for our little boy, a park basically in our backyard, a giant screened in front porch, and wonderful Christian neighbors that uplift and help us. It is literally everything we wanted, and everything we dreamed. It is everything we thought we would never have- and wouldn't have if it wasn't for Him. He has placed some wonderful people in our lives that I will forever be grateful to. 
It's a far cry from our two bedroom apartment that was surrounded by neighbors who hated the fact that we were Christians. 
We are happier than we have ever been. I am astounded and humbled that God loves me the way that He does, because I don't deserve it. That He cares so much about us that He would do whatever He had to (including a flood) in order to get us to His blessings and plan for our lives is amazing. The fact that the creator of the universe knows my hearts' desires and provides in a way that is miraculous is astounding to me. I am nobody, but I am somebody to Him- a beloved daughter of a father who has a good plan for my life, and chases me down to show it to me. 
What we thought was home in our apartment, is not what God intended for us. It was never meant to be permanent, but a stepping stone. He had better things in store. We just had to let go of the old, so that God could give us the new- and not complain about it in the meantime. 
I read a story once about a little girl that had a costume jewelry ring that she loved. She wore it everywhere, and wouldn't take it off. It was fake and made of plastic, but to her it was her most treasured possession. One day, her father came and asked if she would give him her ring. She clung to her little plastic ring, and cried and pleaded to keep it, because she loved it so. Little did she know, that behind his back, her father was holding a real diamond ring. He had something better for her- something better than she had ever known- but she needed to give up what she was holding onto to receive it.
God works that way with us to. His ways are not our ways, and He sees the big picture. He knows what we need, where we need to be, and how we are going to get there. He wants us to trade our plans for his- to give up our plastic ring for his diamond one. Yet sometimes we become so attached to what we know, to what is comfortable, that we lose out by not following God into the unknown. 
God knows. If he takes something away- even if we believe we really need it- it is only to give us something better, or to get us to where we need to be. We just need to trust him in the journey.
In the unknown, in the midst of the storm, is where we learn just how weak we are, but how powerful our God- our anchor- really is. We gain a closeness to God that we would never get any other way.  And in the end, that makes it all worth it. 
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

1 Peter 1:6-9 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. 

Hebrews 6:19-20

 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

   Job 1:21 
He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’