A couple of year’s ago my life was in the lowest valley I had ever come to. My husband and I were on the brink of losing everything we had ever owned, and our marriage was holding on by a thread. How had we come to this place?
On this particular day, Ryan told me in our office that we could not keep our Home Health business of seven years anymore. We were literally drowning with no way out. This news was not a surprise to me at all, but I could not come to terms in letting it go. We had watched God perform miracle after miracle in and through this place. Why would He want to take away something that was doing so much good for others? I had to get away from reality, so I did. I picked up my purse and headed to the car. I wanted to drive and keep driving with no real destination in sight. I really didn’t have it in me to be around people at all. I wanted to be alone. As I drove, I passed my church and looked down at the clock to see that it was time for the weekly bible study that I normally attended. My girlfriend, Stephanie, was preaching her first sermon on this day, and somehow I found the courage to turn in. I put on a fake smile as I passed many familiar faces, and no one knew what I was going through.
I found my spot at the table and we opened in worship. The words to Matt Redman’s “Blessed Be Your Name” caused tears to stream down my face. The words were almost too much for me.
You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say Lord,
blessed be Your name.
I felt God very close as I chose to repeat those words and lifted them up before Him. There was a real release taking place, and I knew God had me there for His purpose and glory.
It was time to dive into the scripture and hear the message. We were in the book of Acts and we were breaking down the story of Peter’s Miraculous Escape from Prison in chapter 12. Peter, one of Jesus’s very best friends, was doing just as Jesus had instructed and was going and telling the good news. King Herod was enraged by the new church that was spreading and was on a mission to end it. He already had James put to death when he seized Peter and placed him in prison. I want you to picture Peter. He was placed in shackles and there were four squads of four soldiers each surrounding him. This means there were 16 guards surrounding him while he was chained up. There was no way out.
Meanwhile back home, there were many people gathered in “Mary’s House” to pray. Mary’s house was believed by many theologians to have been the very place where the last supper took place, upstairs, which they called The Upper Room. They were earnestly praying and seeking God for Peter’s release. God was actively hearing and answering their prayer as they prayed. Isn’t that amazing! Literally as they prayed God sent an angel to Peter to wake him up from his sleep and released him from his chains. The chains literally fell off his wrist. He was freed! He went back to Mary’s house to knock on the door and they were in disbelief that it was actually Peter. They were praying for it but when it actually happened they couldn’t believe it.
Don’t we do that? We pray with unbelief thinking that what we are praying for seems impossible. Tears swelled as I felt the Lord speak to me so intimately in hearing His word. I immediately realized I had been praying the wrong prayer. I was asking Him to save a place that had become an idol above Him. Slowly over time this beautiful place that He gave us had become the very thing that separated me from Him. Sometimes when He takes things away it is to SAVE us and bring us right back to where we belong…to HIM! My eyes began to see that I needed to be praying for my “Peter” to be broken free from the chains. My Ryan was just like Peter, surrounded on every side. Suddenly everything made since. I didn’t care if we lost everything, I wanted my Ryan FREE. I knew that I had to go to Mary’s House to pray fervently for his release.
After 6 long and hard months in prayer we were able to walk away from the business by handing it over to the new owners that would keep it open and continue the good work in bringing healing to many. We were able to get a fresh and new start. God was 1st in my life, there was no one or nothing above Him and redemption was happening. My marriage was restored in a way that seemed impossible to me. What Satan tried to use to destroy us, God used to make us stronger. There is POWER in PRAYER!
I’m not sure what you are walking through, but I do know that we have a faithful and generous God that GIVES and TAKES AWAY! Our job is to PRAISE Him and TRUST Him through it all and REMAIN in Him.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
I’m not sure where I would be today had I not turned into that church on that difficult and dark day. When troubles come and isolation seems to be the best solution, that is the enemy speaking. DON’T LISTEN! Get into community where the word of God is spoken and let them be your strength when you are weak. “We can do ALL things through CHRIST who gives us STRENGTH.” Philippians 4:13
Instead of concluding in prayer, I leave you with His powerful word: