Home from the Land of the Enemy
By Wanda Chavis
I still have a copy of Cortt’s military orders to Iraq in my old Bible. One glance at that tearstained paper reminds me:
God doesn’t always say yes.
I had trust issues.
I had FAITH God was going to delete those orders. He was going to keep my son at home. My faith ended there. I did not TRUST that Cortt would come home safely if he went to war during the invasion of Iraq. Yet, he was gone.
For days on end I could not pray. I was afraid and worried. But let me be honest; I was also angry. Why talk to God now? He had obviously ignored me the last four months while I prayed and fasted.
Finally, I sobbed out my frustrations and repented when God showed me my trust issues. He assured me He would bring Cortt home safely; He had a plan and purpose for Cortt in this time of war.
I prayed the weirdest prayer for the next year. Can I share this prayer with you who are praying for prodigals? In reality, your child is away at war – in a foreign land. Perhaps missing in action; even a prisoner of war. You feel it is a place far from God. But is there such a place? If God is omnipresent, how can you get far away from Him?
God assured me Cortt would come home safely, so my prayers were not for His physical safety. My prayer was always for his morale and mental health. I would intercede desperately for this and didn’t understand why. I finally looked up the definition of morale: “moral or mental condition with respect to courage, discipline, willingness to endure hardship; capacity to maintain belief in oneself and others.”
I remembered Luke 12: 28, which says, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” I wanted my son to return home “whole.” I rebuked and threatened the enemy from damaging Cortt’s mind or causing him to question his worth or value. I prayed against feelings of isolation, depression, and loneliness. I prayed for his spirit to be encouraged.
As you pray for your prodigal, pray for these same things. Cover their mind with the blood of Jesus. Even in the story of the prodigal in Matthew 18, when he came to himself, he remembered how good it was at his father’s house. He had left home, disappointed everyone; but through it all, his morale wasn’t destroyed. Re-direct your prayers. Your child will return home from this war, safe and sound.
“Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy” (Jeremiah 31:16).
Note: Wanda Chavis and her husband, Jeff, have served in pastoral ministry at the United Pentecostal Church of Spring Lake, North Carolina, since 1981. Wanda serves as the District Ladies Ministries president and owns Picture of Health & Thermography, LLC.
(Info from: Ladies Prayer Intl March 2021 Newsletter – UPCI LM – firstname.lastname@example.org)
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4).
The tabernacle in the wilderness had both gates and an outer courtyard. To enter, one had to first pass through the gates. The courtyard was just beyond the gates and served as the starting point for everything else that went on, whether it was sacrifices, offerings, consecrations, anointings, or corporate worship.
Being thankful is key in our approach to God. How can we expect to receive anything more if we’re not thankful for what we’ve already been given?
But the same verse that tells us to enter His gates with thanksgiving also says to enter His courts with praise. (See Psalm 100:1-4.) Praise is an outward expression. It enumerates and evaluates the things we’re thankful for, and then emancipates us, setting us free to give our good God the recognition He deserves. In so doing, we magnify Him and His goodness. By our praise-filled testimony we lift Him up so others can see how good He really is.
Praise is His due. All of nature praises Him from the birds that sing and squawk to the trees that wave in the breeze and the waves that beat against the shore. The heavenly host praises and worships Him. All these were created for that very purpose. Yet His heart yearned for praise given on a deeper level. Praise from beings created for that purpose is not the same as praise coming from a thankful heart that chooses to do so just because.
That’s where we come in. When we praise God out of a heart filled with love for Him, He responds to our praise. It draws Him like a magnet and opens His eyes and ears to our situations. This kind of praise is not out of a desire to push Him into doing something for us, or to gain credit in the eyes of our peers. It springs up and out of an overflowing heart. No wonder the psalmist connects thanksgiving and praise; they belong together like salt and pepper!
Early in the day, before its challenges, before its daily-ness, before its highs and lows, we need to approach Him with His goodness in mind. Just remembering His mercies is enough to keep us thinking and moving in the right direction.
(Info from: UPCI Ladies Ministries – email@example.com)
How the Loser Wins
By Cindy Meadows
No one likes to lose; it just feels so bad. But life is full of losses. We will really never get away from the losing.
I’ve come to understand in perhaps a fresher, keener way that losers really aren’t losers. They are “winners in process.” Losers really do win and become greater successes — if their vision allows them to see with God’s greater depth and clarity.
In Genesis, Jacob wrestled with an angel and lost the wrestling match. He walked away with a limp and his perceived defeat. But if we look more intently, Jacob really won in his own loss. He obtained what he desperately wanted in the belly of his soul; he captured his deepest longing. His new name (and nature) meant “a prince that has power with God.” The truest of trophies — the loser won!
Maria Woodworth-Etter, a great woman of faith who lived in the late 1800s, endured debilitating of losses. She suffered the death of five children. Yes, five. Year after year, loss after loss, God seemingly did not hear or heal. A woman of great prayer, her prayers went without the victories she longed to see, just agonizing defeats. In those extreme losses, in the breaking of her heart over and over again, God birthed an unquenchable passion and burden. She became violently desperate to see His power manifested in the lives of hurting people. Those losses fed her hunger; and in the process, her hunger prevailed with God. She had one of the most powerful healing ministries in church history. Books were written telling of God’s healings and miracles performed through her life. The loser won!
The caterpillar struggles inside its cocoon, scratching and clawing to break free of the prison of its birth. I’m sure at times it thinks it will never break free or move forward. It doesn’t understand that through its struggles, wrestlings, and frustrations it becomes a different creature in the process. Its scrapping, effort, and energy literally knead something necessary into it. The struggle develops muscles that will make the caterpillar strong enough to fly when it breaks free as a butterfly. Interfering with the process will prevent it from developing the muscles needed for survival.
And so it is with us. When we lose and agonize, weep in frustration, give up and start over again, over time we become a different creation – changed. It is largely because of the process of working through our heart-wrenching losses — accepting them, digesting them, and leaving their ashes at the altar. The new creature we become is purer, more refined. The loser becomes the winner.
God’s Holy Purpose
Difficulties should be viewed through eyes that comprehend God has us all in processes, with His ultimate intentions worked in. He can discern the battles and the multi-faceted purposes of those battles – losses allowed with holy purposes in mind. (And perhaps with no intervention.)
I recently read of twin sisters who were beaten and assaulted in a foreign country. It was beyond horrific, and one sister died from her wounds. The surviving sister explained how she was left with anger, fear, and great insecurities. Her bereavement left holes and emptiness. As she wrote, she explained that she had worked through much of her pain and sorrow. But her closing thoughts revealed that after all of it, she was no longer the same person. Life’s brutalities, and the processing of them, had shaped her into someone softer and kinder. How could we ever explain or comprehend her ordeal? Only God!
John 23:10 says, “He knows the way that I take.” Every road, every victory, and every loss. Are there really losses along our way (oh, yes), but the losers are the winners on His path if we let Him mold us into strategic vessels of power.
(Info from: UPCI Ladies Ministries – firstname.lastname@example.org)