Faith In The Night Season: Nan's Own Story

Big Bear Lake

(The following article has been excerpted from Nancy Missler's book Faith In The Night Seasons.)

My Shattered World

It was July of 1990. We had just found out that we owed the IRS several million dollars (yes, million!); that Chuck's company was about to go into bankruptcy; that we were going to lose our "dream" home; that our insurance was going to be canceled; and that our cars and other valuables were going to be repossessed.

My world was about to be shattered, and there was nothing at all that I could do about it! There was nowhere to run for comfort and no one I could turn to. I was alternating between numbness and total disbelief, and I kept thinking, "How could this be happening to us? Disasters like this happen to people in their 20s and 30s, not responsible adults in their 50s!"

I was so devastated by all that was occurring (especially since these were circumstances I personally had nothing at all to do with), that I decided to run to the only Person I knew where I could find help. And that was to God Himself.

Back in those days, we lived in Big Bear Lake in the mountains of Southern California, and my favorite place to go and seek God began right across the street from our house - a trail that led to the top of the mountain. So, I put on my old hiking clothes, grabbed my Bible and began my hike.

Meeting with God

As I hiked up the hill, I could see the lake glittering in the sunlight between the trees. I found a perfect knoll where I could sit and see for miles around me. I was just happy to be there with Jesus, away from all my problems.

I sat back, turned my eyes towards the sky and began to think about my life. Up until this point, our lives had been blessed (even though early on we had had a few marital and family problems). On the whole, however, we had had a wonderful life. We had been married a little over thirty years, we had four beautiful children, a beautiful home, a fantastic job and future and many, many friends. Now, so very abruptly - so very quickly - all that had changed.

We not only were experiencing the bankruptcy, the IRS mess and the loss of our home, cars and insurance, but also at this same time, many of our close friends turned their backs on us. As soon as the local media began broadcasting news of our bankruptcy, the rumor mills began. Although we fully expected to be given a cold shoulder by the secular world, we weren't prepared for the reaction we received from some of our dear Christian brothers and sisters, some of whom had invested in Chuck's company.

As I meditated on all these things that had just occurred in my life, God directed me to 1 Peter, which talks about a fiery trial of faith about ready to begin (1 Peter 1:7; 4:12) and Psalm 102:3, which says "My days are consumed like smoke and my bones are burned..." These Scriptures were not very encouraging, but they explained a little of what seemed to be taking place.

Even before the final crash of Chuck's company, when everyone else was saying, "Don't worry, it's going to be fine," every time I would pray, I seemed to receive Scriptures that indicated just the opposite - it wasn't going to be fine; we were going to go down in flames. So, God had already forewarned me. I just should have been better prepared for the crash.

God ministered many things to me on the mountaintop that day, but the most wonderful thing He did was to give me some incredible personal promises through His Word. As I listened carefully for His words of divine guidance and encouragement, I was stunned by a string of almost unbelievable promises. Through the Scriptures and His Spirit, God spoke to me of a future ministry far beyond my wildest dreams. As I marked each Scripture fast and furiously, I understood how young David must have felt when Samuel anointed him for a destiny he couldn't even imagine.

Trial of My Faith

Yet as I waited and watched for the fulfillment of those promises over the next few years, I began to grow impatient. After walking with the Lord for over thirty years, I knew I had to rely on His perfect timing, but I was also a twentieth-century Christian, and this was one of those times when I was desperate for quick answers. My world had shattered almost overnight, so I naturally assumed that the Lord would move just as quickly to bring all these new promises to pass.

Because of this assumption, the hardest part for me over the next seven years was that those glorious promises God had given me up there on that mountaintop never came true.

Had I Misunderstood God?

Had I somehow misunderstood God? Were those promises only meant to pertain to my spiritual life? No, the Scriptures I had received on the mountain top that day had been far too specific to be "spiritualized." Then, why the incredible delay? Why was I having to endure such a long season of sorrow and dryness? Would I ever again feel the joy of my salvation? I felt like the words of Ezekiel pertained directly to me: "(My) bones are dried (up), and (my) hope is lost: (I am) (completely) cut off..." (Ezekiel 37:11)

Up to this point, I had never heard of the "dark night" or "night seasons" as the Bible calls them (Job 30:17), nor did I fully understand the sanctification process or what God was trying to accomplish in my life. Thus, I fought Him every step of the way which, of course, only made matters worse and much more painful for me.

Every time something else "bad" would happen, I'd come out fighting. At times, I felt like God had set me as His mark. And, in a way, I guess He really had. Only, it was because He loved me and wanted me to experience His fulness and real abundant life!

I had always loved and served God faithfully. Why would He allow all this devastation in my life? What was happening to me? I knew that I was not in rebellion against God. I had not given in to self-pity, nor was I holding onto unforgiveness, yet there was so much confusion growing inside of me. Although I had faithfully practiced confession and repentance for many years, sharp pieces of doubt were beginning to rise up from the depths of my soul. There seemed to be no answer for what I was experiencing.

The Need to Be Fully Persuaded

So often at the bottom of our struggles in the dark night is doubt and unbelief. It certainly was with me. We measure the validity of a promise by our own earthly standards which, of course, leaves us wide open for doubt. Doubt affects everything we think, say and do. How can we trust and have faith in God today, if we don't think He has been faithful to His promises of yesterday? We can't! Doubt in God's faithfulness not only causes us indescribable inner torment, it also prolongs our agony.

When I am totally honest with myself and I peel away all the garbage, I realized that I had trusted God, yes, but not to the point of abandoning all my earthly sources of comfort and security. I had faith in God, yes, but not to the point of setting aside all other supports and laying them at the cross. I had relied upon God, yes, but not to the point of accepting the fact that I didn't understand what God was doing, and trusting Him anyway. I still had my own human expectations, my own presumptions and my own ambitions, and when these "supports" began to be taken away, I crashed. Big time!Nothing reveals our true selves like the advent of hard times! In order to expose what is hidden below the surface of our pleasant religious exterior, God often must turn up the heat.

Real faith is not seeing, not understanding, not feeling and not knowing. Real faith is simply trusting, no matter what we see happening, no matter what we understand to be true, and no matter what we feel like, that God will be faithful to His Word and perform His promises to us in His timing and in His way.

This is the kind of faith that Abraham possessed, who "...staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform." (Romans 4:20-21 emphasis added)

Faith is allowing God to be God. Faith is allowing God to do in our lives all that He needs to do (good or bad from our point of view), in order to accomplish His perfect will. Faith is allowing God to strip, flay and crucify us, if that's what is needed to accomplish His will in us. Faith is simply accepting God's night seasons as part of His will towards us. Job came to know what true faith was all about when he said, "...though (You) slay me, yet will I trust (You)."

The turning point in my life came when I finally realized that abandonment to God's will and having human expectations cannot coexist in my soul…

(God's promises to Nan did come true. Please read more through the links below.)

Related Links:

My Own Night Season »- Koinonia House
Faith In The NIght Seasons Book »- Koinonia House Store
Faith In The Night Seasons MP3 Download »- Koinonia House Store
Faith In The Night Seasons Articles »- Koinonia House

Photo: Better Homes & Gardens

God's Thoughts Are Not My Thoughts
by Max Lucado

SITUATION Isaiah comforted the Israelites by telling them of God's power.

OBSERVATION God's compassionate on those come to him, but we cannot even begin to understand his ways and thoughts.

INSPIRATION We ask for grace, only to find forgiveness already offered. (How did you know I would sin?)

We ask for food only to find provision already made. (How did you know I would be hungry?)

We ask for guidance, only to find answer in God's ancient story. (How did you know I would ask?)

God dwells in a different realm. "The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." (1 Corinthians 1:25). He occupies another dimension. "My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Make special note of the word "like." God's thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are they even like ours. We aren't even in the same neighborhood. We're thinking. Preserve the body; he's thinking Save the soul. We dream of a pay raise. He dreams of raising the dead. We avoid pain and seek peace. God uses pain to bring peace. "I'm going to live before I die," we resolve. "Die, so you can live," he instructs. He loves what endures. We rejoice at our successes. He rejoices at our confessions. We show our children the Nike star with the million-dollar smile and say, "Be like Mike." God points to the crucified carpenter with bloody lips and torn side and says "Be like Christ."

Our thoughts are not like God's thoughts. Our ways are not like his ways. He has a different agenda. He dwells in a different dimension. He lives in another plane. And the plane is named in the first phrase of the Lord's prayer. "Our Father in heaven." (From The Great House of God by Max Lucado)

APPLICATION Make a list of several questions you have about God and about your life. Acknowledge that you can't even begin to comprehend his actions. Thank him that his is in absolute control over the universe.

EXPLORATION God's Superiority-- Psalm 36:5-6; 57:10; 103:11; Romans 11:33-36.

The Devotional Bible - Exploring the Heart of Jesus; Max Lucado General Editor, Thomas Nelson Publishers, New Century Version.

Completely by Ana Laura from her debut CD Ana Laura.
Provident Music Distribution 2006.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Blessings and prayers,

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