- Written by Callie Neff
1 Peter 3:5-6 (CJB)
5 This is how the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves and submit to their husbands,
6 the way Sarah obeyed Avraham, honoring him as her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not succumb to fear.
In 2008 our family was faced with a decision, do we continue in the work of maternity & mother-child housing or do we call it done?. We were transitioning from houseparenting to leadership and facing many challenges and trials "without and within" [Psalm 40:12]. Sitting in the theater with our children the Lord spoke very clearly through a Veggietale movie. The characters were faced with a whirlpool directly in line of where they needed to go. They had to decide to keep going towards the whirlpool, trusting they would be protected and fulfill the mission they were called to or turn back and return to life before the call to this adventure. When they hit the winds and waves the whirlpool disappeared and all fear ceased and the entrance to their destination appeared. They trusted in the One who sent them and made it past their fear.
There have been many occasions when that imagery has come to mind and I am gently reminded by the Holy Spirit that what is in front of me is only a "mirage" and I must not succumb to the fear. Most times the mirage is an illusion,a distraction, or a lie from the enemy meant to dissuade from taking the path where Jesus is leading [especially leading others to freedom]. I hear the crashing of the wind and waves, see what appears to be a chaotic whirlpool I cannot avoid, and feel the increase in tension and resistence. I must choose to believe that going forward it will give way to the will and way of the Lord. I am no longer a daughter of the slave woman, no longer bound to the rules and lies of the enemy; I am, in fact, a daughter of the free woman, given instruction that I can trust, provision that will sustain and hope that will endure.
FInally, as a testament to the goodness of God towards me, I had the honor of attending a conference that was a gift. I was sitting with two beautiful new friends: one on my right a rescuer and fellow warrior living out Isaiah 61:1-3 and on my left a daughter whose life is being restored from bondage and slavery, on many levels, a living testament of Psalm 35:9-10. All three of us making the choice to face the whirlpools in the path to freedom and hope. I am more than settled in the truth that Jesus can, does and will restore all things, and that restoration does not have to wait until we get to heaven. When I live as a daughter of Sarah I can turn many from the bondage of sin and death and choose to press on until we are all made free.
Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV)
The Year of the Lord’s Favor
61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
Psalm 35:9-10 (CJB)
9 Then I will be joyful in Adonai,
I will rejoice in his salvation.
10 All my bones will say,
“Who is like you?
Who can rescue the weak
from those stronger than they,
the poor and needy
from those who exploit them?”
- Written by Callie Neff
- (of a person's future) developing as though according to a plan."she could see that he was destined for great things"
- certain to meet (a particular fate)."she was destined to become a life-long friend"
- intended for or traveling toward (a particular place)."agricultural exports destined for the United States"
Hebrews 10:32-39 (TPT)
32 Don’t you remember those days right after the Light shined in your hearts? You endured a great marathon season of suffering hardships, yet you stood your ground. 33 And at times you were publicly and shamefully mis-treated, being persecuted for your faith; then at others times you stood side by side with those who preach the message of hope.
Days of not having an answer. Days of not having the funding needed. Days when it seems no one understands or grasps the vision in your heart. Days of long suffering watching helplessly as someone remains trapped in their hurt and their pain. Days when you have to hold a hard line and it means a person will choose to walk away from help and hope. Days when the enemy seems stronger and the roadblock to the hearts and minds of those you are fighting for seems impenetrable. Days when loss seems the only constant.
34 You sympathized with those in prison and when all your belongings were confiscated you accepted that violation with joy; convinced that you possess a treasure growing in heaven that could never be taken from you.
I can think of many losses that I have accepted with joy in this fight for life and dignity. I have had physical challenges, emotional challenges, lost possessions, lost relationships, moved from place to place, remained in transition and change, faced confusion, hopelessness and despair. The things confiscated from me do not compare to what I am after. If all of this is for only one life to be transformed, then it is all worth it.
35 So don’t lose your bold, courageous faith, for you are destined for a great reward!
I need the strength and courage that can only come from Jesus. I must keep my eyes fixed as I stand firm on His foundation. The waves come, they always come. The seasons change, they always change. The dust settles, it always settles. The truth that Jesus heals, restores and binds up is always true even when I feel at a loss to live it out, explain it or need a reminder that it is true for me too.
36 You need the strength of endurance to reveal the poetry of God’s will and then you receive the promise in full. 37 For soon and very soon,
“The One who is appearing will come without delay!”
38 And he also says,
“My righteous ones will live from my faith.
But if fear holds them back,
my soul is not content with them!”
39 But we are certainly not those who are held back by fear and perish; we are among those who have faith and experience true life!
May hope return to you! May loss be only temporary! May you receive the strength of endurance as you look towards the promise of great reward!
- Written by Callie Neff
29 “‘No,’ he said. ‘If you pull out the weeds you might uproot the wheat at the same time. 30 You must allow them both to grow together until the time of harvest. At that time, I’ll tell my harvesters to make sure they gather the weeds first and tie them all in bundles to be burned. Then they will harvest the wheat and put it into my barn.’”
Let the weeds and flowers grow up together.
Every year around the middle to end of summer, I suddenly realize how many weeds I missed that have grown up with the plants I intended for the garden. The differences in the plants are now more defined and easier to see and I can identify weeds from flowers. Early in the season it can sometimes be hard to distinguish weeds and intended plants. If I try to pull weeds too early, I unintentionally pull up the flowers or uproot part of a wanted plant. If I patiently wait for a day after some rain and a time when the plants are easily distinguishable, I can beautify the garden and remove the unwanted usupers. I recently have identified this similar principle when walking with women in our program. When they come, I can quickly identify what I consider the "wheat and the weeds", but as I am just getting to know her; it is too early to start plucking up and digging at all that appears as unwanted, not good or wrong: whether actions, behaviors, thought patterns, or responses. I need to let relationship and roots of love establish in order to allow the good and the bad to "grow together" so that, when it is time to "harvest", not only will I be able to distinguish between what should stay and go but she will be part of the equation. She will be more willing to respond to correction, sound teaching and see for herself what should stay and go in her life. I have to lean heavily on my Father's gracious wisdom and patiently allow both so I do not uproot the good seed He has already planted in her heart that has not fully matured. I am so glad He does this for me and I continually am learning how to do this for and with others. Sometimes even the weeds turn out to be a beautiful addition to the garden that I keep and make room for where they are not harming a maturing plant that I want to be there; and sometimes even the weeds with beautiful flowers get ripped up at the end of the season to make room for the intended, purposeful ones.
May you have patience to trust the leading of the Holy Spirit as you wade through the weeds!
- Written by Callie Neff
24 For a true servant of our Lord Jesus will not be argumentative[t] but gentle toward all and skilled in helping others see the truth, having great patience toward the immature. 25 Then with meekness you’ll be able to carefully enlighten those who argue with you so they can see God’s gracious gift of repentance and be brought to the truth. 26 This will cause them to rediscover themselves[u] and escape from the snare of Satan who caught them in his trap so that they would carry out his purposes.
2 Timothy 2: 24-26 [TPT]
Being gentle, being kind...skillfully helping others see the truth. There are many days when I fall short of consistently, gently leading. It is hard to daily persevere in the hope that love will overcome the lies, the stubborn foolishness and immaturity that are so evident in so many of those coming for our services. The disconnect between reality and personal responsibility seems an impossible divide. The hurts and abuses that have changed thought patterns and responses seem so ingrained they will not change. The lure of the world's way of thinking and living seems more appealing then the simple, other focused way of living we are offering.
It is only the slow, methodical, gentle, direct and clear responses and requests that begin to soften the hardness and bridge these divides. The arguments do not often come in word battles but in the overt unresponse to requests, non-committal to plans for personal betterment, and in oppositional actions. Is my heart really set at seeing another daughter rediscover herself?...The answer is resoundingly yes, but do I have the patience and grace to be the one to walk it out with her? This answer is also yes, but not in my own strength, not based on past experience and not based on the program and structures in place. The only way I can live this out is as a follower of Jesus, through the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit and daily yielding to the will of the Father.
Every day brings new opporunity to gently and lovingly help others see the truth. Every day brings a layer of unyielded resistance in my heart and opportunity to practice what I want to teach. Every day brings opportunity to practice the skills of walking with someone in their immaturity with the hope and promise that they may escape the snare of the enemy so they can carry out their purpose.
May the promise of another's escape from the snare of the enemy motivate me to persevere!
May I allow myself to be gently led so that others can follow!
May my faith increase to believe that the divides and disconnects can be repaired!
- Written by Callie Neff
Proverbs 15:29-31 (TPT)
29 The Lord doesn’t respond to the wicked,
but he’s moved to answer the prayers of his godly lovers.
30 Eyes that focus on what is beautiful[a] bring joy to the heart,
and hearing a good report
refreshes and strengthens the inner being.[b]
31 Accepting constructive criticism
opens your heart to the path of life,
making you right at home among the wise.
Matthew 6:22 (TPT)
22 “The eyes of your spirit allow revelation-light[a] to enter into your being. If your heart is unclouded, the light floods in!
When our gaze is constantly drawn to what is crooked, what is broken, what is flawed, what is in bondage . . . we can quickly become what we behold...we can begin to walk as one enslaved and no longer carry ourselves as children of the freedom we have been given in Christ Jesus. It is hard not to constantly look at what needs to be fixed, what is undone, what is wrong. It is also hard to model the freedom we desire and profess for others if we forget what it looks and feels like. This has been a hard, long and ongoing lesson for me. In each journey with a new woman, hearing, seeing, feeling her bondage and pain I quickly position myself as a victim alongside of her rather than positioning myself out ahead to show her the way through. I begin to see change, uncertainty, and offers of hope as opportunities to be hurt, rejected or exposed. There is a very fine line between walking out compassion and empathy and walking as a carrier of hope, joy and freedom without taking on the burdens of fear, doubt and shame. I have not mastered that line, but I know that when I become consciously aware that I am walking again as one enslaved and I make the decision to embrace the hurt, pain and bondage of another I must CHOOSE NOT TO experience it as something that I will be victim to but as something I can trust to Jesus. Only then can I turn and walk again the road unencumbered, full of joy and unashamedly professing my hope. Then I know I become a bearer of something worth fighting for!
May your eyes be fixed on the beauty of Jesus! May revelation-light fill your being!
May your heart be unclouded so you can walk in freedom!