A Covenant in Crisis!
Genesis 16: 8 … “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.
Have you ever been in a crisis - I mean a life or death crisis where everything was on the line? You had to make some tough decisions. You knew that one decision made or not made and your world would likely change forever. I feel like that’s the story of my life. I read a quote that said “We are all one decision away from a different life.” One choice can forever change the course of our lives.
In Genesis Chapter 16, Hagar, the slave of Sarai, was running. She was running from a decision that she made, but the consequence was unbearable, so she ran. She ran to get away from the known – seeking the unknown. She ran!
She was in crisis. She was hurt, disappointed and ready for her new unknown life. But as she was running she ran right into an angel of the Lord, who told her to go back and submit to her mistress. Wait? What? No… I imagine Hagar asking, “you see that I have been mistreated and you want me to go back to the very place that I have been mistreated, stay there and be content with the foolishness that made me want to run away?” And God answers… “Why yes, my child, that is what I want you to do.”
You see God had promised Sarai and Abram a child and not only that, but that their offspring would dominant the earth. However, Sarai was tired of waiting on God (that’s a“whole”nother blog post) and took matters into her own hands. She decided to have Hagar sleep with her husband, Abram, in order to conceive a child – the child of promise. The plan worked and Hagar became pregnant but she began to taunt Sarai because she was infertile. Long story, short, Sarai was upset and told Abram it was his fault. He placed Hagar in her hands and Sarai dealt with her harshly, so Hagar ran away.
Could Hagar have said no to Sarai? I’m sure. Could she just have run away when asked to sleep with another woman’s husband? I’m positive. But she stayed and complied and then when things got too far out of hand, she ran! Sounds like us, huh? Well let me make it personal. It sounds like me! Now this is the part where God’s grace can supersede any problem, situation, circumstance that we have gotten ourselves into. Aren’t you glad God can bless y(our) mess!? God, our loving father, meets Hagar in her place of wilderness. He asks her questions that He already knows the answers to; Where have you come from and Where are you going? (Genesis 16:8). Hagar replies… I am running.
Listen! I love her honesty! I love that she tells the angel of the Lord, I am running. We need to rest in our truths - rest in the place that we find ourselves in and become honest about how we came to that place. Hagar was running! Sis, are you running? Maybe from a different scenario, but running nonetheless. Perhaps you are running from your past, your grief, a husband, a job, a child. Confess to God like Hagar did that you are running. Many of us, yes I said, US, don’t want to confess because we don’t want to hear God’s answer. I was a little taken aback by the answer too. Go back! What? Wait? Huh? To that husband that I am trying to divorce; to that job that I hate? To that situation that is harsh and hard? And not only go back, but be obedient when you go back - submit. Say what? What you talking about, Willis? No sir! No ma’am! So many of us continue to run, because we don’t want to hear or obey God’s instruction.
But see God didn’t just send her back to that same place in the same way. He sends her back with covenant – with a promise that He gives directly to her, not from a prophet or medium, but from God’s mouth to her ears - the ears of a slave girl, Abram’s concubine. He says, I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count (Genesis 16:10). Have you heard that before? That is similar to the covenant that God made with Abraham (Genesis 15:5). I am so excited that in the midst of my crisis God creates covenant with me. God created covenant with a slave girl who had slept with a married man. God had a conversation with her, Himself. Are you shouting yet? Your situation is NEVER too bad, too impossible, too insurmountable for God! Take about 15 seconds to just shout right here!!!
We often try to hide from God when we have done some things that are wrong or against His will, but in Genesis 16:13, Hagar says you are the God that sees me (El roi) and she goes on to say, I have seen the one who sees me. Wow! Have you seen the one who sees you? Have you experienced the one who sees you? Do you know the one who sees you and yet still loves you? Sis, God sees that situation, that circumstance, that crisis. You don’t have to hide from Him. You can’t hide from Him! He sees you and yet just like He did with Hagar, He wants to come into covenant with you. He hasn’t forgotten you or any of the promises He’s made to you! Stop running from your problem and run to God. He’s waiting – arms wide open. Remember to Live in the RED! ~ Loved and Forgiven.
Jesus + Therapy = Healing
Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14
In 2016, I had my first panic attack. It had been a rough year. I mean, I lost one of my best friends to the same invasive, evil, malicious cancer that my mom suffered from. I watched him lay dying helpless once again. Prayer and crying were my only means of relief. I slept very few hours each night. I was always nervous. My stomach was always hurting. I felt nauseous. When he died, I had a permanent frown on my face for months. I went to work and tried to be normal, tried to laugh with friends and go out, but his death, the void, the emptiness was always on my mind, in my heart.
I was not okay! But it was not okay, in my opinion, to tell others that I was not okay. I lost my mother at 24 and started the journey of raising my sister. I wore strength like a brand new jacket and believed the mantra that you should “never let them see you sweat”. But guess what? I was dripping wet with sweat and “they” saw it. I wasn’t hiding it from the people who truly knew and loved me.
For months my cousin told me to get help. She insisted that I was not okay and that something was terribly wrong with me, but I deferred each time. I am just tired. I just can’t sleep. I’ve just been busy at work. But deep down, I honestly knew that I was a shell of my former self.
I attended church, dived into the word of God and prayed. Intrinsically, I knew that I would be okay. I knew that weeping would endure for a night, and that joy would come in the morning, however I was struggling to make it to the morning. It was dark, cloudy and raining in my world, even on my best days.
It was in September of 2016, 5 months after my best friend had passed that I experienced a panic attack while on the phone with my cousin. I was in the parking lot of my job and as I walked out, I just lost it; I started screaming and hyperventilating. It was terrible. It was like I knew I was supposed to be able to snap out of this, but I couldn’t.
At lunch a few days later, I shared with a friend that I would often wish for a fender bender – nothing major, on the way to work so that I would not have to go into the office. I was just that miserable at work. With eyes and mouth wide open in awe, she told me that I needed to talk to someone and soon. She said that it was imperative, that I get help and that it was not normal to want to have a wreck to get out of work.
It took a few more conversations with my friends and cousin, before I dialed the number. The stress had continued to build at work, my heart was mending slowly, my nights were sleepless. I decided to call a therapist. IT WAS THE BEST DECISION OF MY LIFE!
In the midst of going to therapy, I had several more anxiety and panic attacks. My therapist recommended that I get more intense therapy and she recommended that I go get tested for depression and anxiety. No ma’am! I am a strong black woman and I am not depressed or anxious! LIES! Against my better judgement, I went to the doctor and sat through a battery of tests that determined that I was suffering from severe depression and high anxiety.
I was taken off of work for six weeks and enrolled in group sessions, one - on - one therapy, and mental health classes. It was WONDERFUL. I learned to integrate spirituality with mental health. I learned about setting boundaries and saying no and putting myself first. I learned that I had been in survival mode for 15 years since my mother had passed away and that I was not only grieving my best friend, but for my mother. I went immediately into survival mode so quickly after my mother’s death, that I never really grieved. I learned that the fight or flight response was supposed to last for an hour, but I had been in fight mode – survival mode, for years.
I discovered a brand new me in therapy which made me more aware and in tune with who I was, whose I was, and who I was striving to become. Therapy, for so long, has been a negative word in our communities. In many homes, therapy is synonymous with the four letter words that you better not say unless you are prepared to get your mouth washed out with soap. BUT our communities are suffering. We hide and cope by using drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, marijuana and popping pills.
The Christian community often feels like all you need to do is pray and I am a firm believer in the power of God and Prayer. It works, but sometimes you need to sit down with an unbiased professional that can help you identify your root cause, the behaviors that have you bound, the people that may have contributed to your brokenness and help you develop a plan for working out the kinks of life. Therapy is not a bad word. Even the Bible says that in a multitude of counselors there is safety (Proverbs 24:5). Seek wise counsel. Find a therapist, and get the help and healing that you need.
Try God and then Try Therapy. Jesus + Therapy = Healing! Be Blessed. Be Healed. Live in the Red. #Loved and #Forgiven.
Matthew 11:12 … The Kingdom of God suffereth violence and the violent take it by force.
Have you ever seen a real live street fight or an after school fist fight? It always starts with words. One party will say the “wrong thing” and another party will counter with their “right thing”. This exchange normally goes on for a couple of minutes before fists are thrown, hair is pulled and pummeling begins. As an educator, I have seen my fair share of fights. That’s one of the reasons, I started San’s Child, Inc. to counteract anger, aggression, bullying and fighting, but I digress.
Normally, a good fist fight starts with words. An insult that really hurt the other’s feelings at the core, but turned into anger as it manifested. As a result, the fists fly. Matthew 11:12 says that the kingdom of God suffereth violence and the violent take it by force. That means that the violent - those that are inflicting violence are coming with the heat. They didn’t come to play and so they don’t play. We have an accuser who comes with the heat everyday. He takes no days off. His only job is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).
This accuser, however doesn’t attack us with sticks and stones, he attacks our minds and thoughts. He attacks how we feel about ourselves; he attacks our self-esteem, our relationships; our families. It’s a mental attack. In order to win this attack with the enemy, you have to have some fighting words! An arsenal of resources that will help you when each battle. I mean you have to be prepared to issue a 1 – 2 verbal punch that will send him running. You have to hide the word in your heart so that when, it’s time to fight, you’re ready blow for blow.
When sickness hits, you have to say I am healed by the stripes of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:5). When financial pressures come you have to declare, I am a lender and not a borrower (Deuteronomy 28:12-13); I am blessed in the city and blessed in the field (Deuteronomy 28:3). When depression hits, you have to declare that he shall turn my mourning into weeping and give me a garment of praise for a Spirit of Heaviness (Isaiah 61:3). Listen! You have to have some fighting words.
When Jesus was tempted by satan, He didn’t say “Leave Me Alone” or “Go Away”. He used the word of God to defeat satan. Things are no different now. We can’t fight satan with fists or stones like David fought Goliath, we have to fight him with the word of God. But not only do “Fighting Words” fight the enemy, they encourage you.
The Bible says that David encouraged himself! David was being chased by King Saul. He wanted to kill David. It was simply a matter of jealousy, but the Bible says that when David got low, he encouraged himself. He reminded himself of who he was in the Lord.
There will be times in life when you have to encourage yourself. You will have to use your fighting words to remind yourself who and whose you are. Satan wants to take your courage, but when you encourage yourself, you take that courage back! Speak over yourself. Declare the word of God over your life. Don’t let the accuser keep you in the past. Daily repent and work on being better. You have to remember that you are in a rigged fight with a defeated foe! We have already won!
Find you a couple of scriptures that are near and dear and whenever the enemy attacks, use them to fight. The word of God cannot return void (Isaiah 55:11), it has to accomplish what God wants it to accomplish. Remember to stay in the RED – loved and forgiven.