God Works on Both Sides of the Equation: Part II

Welcome to Part II of the story “God Works on Both Sides of the Equation.” (Click here, if you missed Part I.) 

When my pastor pronounced, “God works on both sides of the equation,” images of algebraic equations filled my mind. Normally, I enjoy the delicate balancing act of solving an equation and getting ‘x’ all by itself. However, the sudden shift caused the algebraic equation in our life off balance.  However, the  It aligns with my personality where balance, order, and control are essential.

When a health crisis in 2016 cascaded to a job loss, and the need to sell our home in 2017, I wondered if this equation was unsolvable.  But I held on to the truth I heard repeatedly, “God Works on Both Sides of the Equation.”

Months later, I sat on the deck and shaded my eyes from the afternoon sun. “Refuge is my word for 2017,” I shared with my friend Lauri. Over hazelnut liquid mercy (aka coffee), I shared with her the plan to rent our home on the Vacation Rental by Owner site, if our home did not sell by May 2017.

Lauri’s response was surprising, “How awesome April, God needs your house!”

Her response was unlike everyone else’s.  Most people nodded their head feeling the gravity of our situation.

“What?” I questioned.

“God needs your house! God is going to use your house as a place of refuge for someone else this summer,” she explained.

Our afternoon conversation continued, but her response lingered in my mind. Could it be true? Could the word ‘refuge’ have a wider scope than my heart? God can do anything, why would he want to use my house, I pondered?

The notion that God needed our home changed the trajectory of my prayers. Instead of praying, “Lord, sell our home.” I prayed, “Lord use this home as a refuge for others. Whoever enters through the doors, whether as a summer vacationer or as a prospective homebuyer, may this house be a place of quiet refuge and peace. Amen.”  

I walked through each room of our home praying for the future residents. I prayed for the restoration of family relationships, renewed faith, peace, and reconciliation. If someone else was going to sit in my red chair, I wanted him or her to feel the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Our home did not sell by May so we removed it from the market and listed our home on the VRBO.com website and within weeks, our home was booked for the entire summer! (Thank the Lord for my parents who offered for us to stay with them for the summer).

How could we know a family in Northern Virginia was interested in purchasing our home and they were in the process of getting things in order before making contact?  To their disappointment, the house was removed from the market in May. 

How were we to know that same Northern VA family was vacationing at Smith Mountain Lake in July? While on vacation the family spent a day house hunting. They asked the realtor to drive past our home. Later, Denise told me, “I wanted to see the house in person. Even if it was no longer for sale, I wanted closure.”

Denise continued, “April, you have no idea how many times I’ve stalked your home online. I had the entire house mapped out in my mind. I had prayed for God to open doors for us and close doors not intended for us. When your house went off the market I thought, ‘Ok, God that is a closed door.’  When the realtor drove us to your home and we saw that it was back on the market, I had to see it before we left. When my husband and I walked in, we knew this was the place.”

God works on both sides of the equation. Click To Tweet

Only God could allow our home to close without a hitch in record-breaking time. Chris and I had to opportunity to meet the homebuyers a couple of times. Once, when we stopped by to drop off paperwork, Denise invited us in to tell us a story.

“We have to tell you, the presence of the Lord is strong in this home, especially here,” pointing to an area surrounding my red chair.

The homebuyers also purchased most of our furniture including one of my red chairs. I shared with Denise, my blog, Red Chair Moments. “The area you’re pointing to is where I have spent hours reading God’s Word and in prayer. I can think of no greater compliment than to be told the presence of the Lord is felt in this place.”

I went on to explain my significance of the word ‘refuge’, how my friend said God needed this house, and how I prayed through every room. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears and she told me their family had a rough few years. “Restoration and refuge are what we need.”

Denise and I shared more stories of God’s faithfulness, while our husbands talked over home mechanics etc. There are many more stories of God’s amazing grace that she shared with me involving specific ways our home was a refuge for their family but will remain in confidence. Trust me when I say, God works on both sides of the equation.

Have you considered God wanting to use your crisis for a greater purpose? Consider changing the perspective and trajectory of your prayers. You might not see immediate answers, but know God works on both sides of the equation.

~April Dawn White

© 2018 All Rights Reserved.

God Works on Both Sides of the Equation

God Works on Both Sides of the Equation: Part I

 

From the pulpit, our pastor pronounced, “God works on both sides of the equation.” I scribbled down the phrase in my journal, pondering the significance. This eight-word statement befuddled and encouraged me.

 

Images of algebraic equations filled my mind. Solve for x. If 2x = 12, then x = 6. As a science major, math saturated my college years. Algebra was my favorite over Calculus and Physics, not because it was easier, but because it made sense. I enjoyed the delicate balancing act of solving an equation and getting ‘x’ all by itself. It aligns with my type-A personality where balance and order are essential.

God Works on Both Sides of the Equation Click To Tweet

Like my kid’s rock collection that crashed and fell in the rock tumbler for months, this phrase continuously tumbled in my mind. Unlike the simpler algebraic equations in life that I could solve, life had abruptly changed. A domino effect beginning with a health crisis in 2016 cascaded to a job loss and the need to sell our home in 2017. The sudden shift caused the algebraic equation of our life off balance. Worse yet, I wondered if it was unsolvable.

 

No longer was our life simple, clearly defined, and controllable. Our life was much more complicated and beyond my control. The simple equation of 2x = 12, then x = 6 was gone, replaced by a much more complicated equation that I could not solve on my own. 

But God continued to whisper our pastor’s phrase, “God works on both sides of the equation.”

One of the first steps in solving an algebraic equation is to get ‘x’ by itself.  During this period of abrupt change and insurmountable challenges, God reminded me to get alone with Him and to seek His face. When life is beyond our ability to comprehend, we need to get ‘x’ by itself—and get alone with God.

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  (Psalm 91:1)

Alone with God, we can surrender our overwhelming circumstances. Alone with God, we can surrender our doubt.  

God invites us to trade our sorrows for joy, ashes for beauty, our weakness for His strength, and trust for control. (Isaiah 61:3, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Is there a complicated circumstance in your life?

Knowing God works on both sides of the equation, what would happen if you got alone with God and surrendered to the One who can solve any equation. 

I don’t have all the answers, but I know can solve any complicated circumstance for our good and for His glory, because “God works on both sides of the equation,”

“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.” (Romans 8:28, AMP)

Please join me next week for Part II of this story. I will share how God worked on both sides of the equation for our family and our homebuyers.

~April Dawn White

© 2018 All Rights Reserved.

Finding Peace When All is Lost: Guest Writer Angie Nolen

Finding Peace When All is LostAs part of Advent, our church invited my dear friend, Angie Nolan to share on peace. Angie writes on Finding Peace When All Is Lost.  She knows full well the supernatural peace extended to her during pain and loss. Like the Apostle Paul, who also wrote from prison, Angie’s voice carries the tune of praise and peace in dark circumstances. 

Last week, my friend Sara and I visited Angie in prison, I asked her permission to use this powerful message as a guest writer for Red Chair Moments. Today, Sara and I will read Angie’s message to our church congregation during the Christmas Eve service.

Pour a cup on liquid mercy and settle in for a blessing. ~ April

Finding Peace When All Is Lost by Angie Nolen

My mental image of peace usually involves water—walking beside a tranquil stream, sitting on the dock at the lake, or soaking up the sun by the ocean while wiggling my toes in the sand. It’s easy for me to find peace in those beautiful places…when things are going well and life is good.

How do you find peace when life is the worst it has ever been? How do you find peace in the middle of the storms?How do you find peace when you’ve lost everything—your home, your career, your father, and your freedom? How do you find peace when you can’t be with your child; unable to protect her and guide her as she grows up without you? How do you find peace when people have failed you and you even feel like God has abandoned you?

The answer is you don’t.

But true peace has nothing to do with your circumstances, your environment, or your feelings. Peace is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Click To Tweet

The reality is there is nothing you can do to find peace. You have to go to the water—the living water. Jesus told the woman at the well “If you only knew the gift that God has for you…you would ask me and I would give you living water” (John 4:10).

Did you hear that? “I would give.” Jesus gives the water. He IS the living water.  In the 23rd Psalm, David says, “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” That sounds like peace to me. He leads. He restores. Christ says in John 14:27, “My peace I give to you.”

 There is nothing I can do to find peace. God gives it.

It makes no sense that I am able to put aside my sadness, worry, and fear to sleep through the night on a metal bed in this terrible place but I can. Paul, who also understood prison life, wrote Philippians 4:6-7:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

 The keywords from Paul’s script are “prayer” and “peace of God.” Every night when I lie down, I pray and recite scriptures until I fall asleep. When I am too overwhelmed by emotions and I can’t seem to pray, I know that my brothers and sisters in Christ are praying for me and that Jesus himself is interceding for me, and rest eventually comes. “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe” (Psalm 4:8).

The world defines peace as a state of tranquility, quiet, and harmony, freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. The prison in which I am forced to live for now is not a place of peace. It is a place of self-centeredness, anger, resentment, noise, conflict, disrespect, foul language, and nasty attitudes. It is very hard to feel peaceful here; it is hard to settle your mind and find rest.

But true peace has nothing to do with your circumstances, your environment, or your feelings. Peace is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

It’s the quiet assurance in your soul that God is in control; He’s got you in the palm of His hand, from your first breath to your last—your past, your present, your future, and your eternal home.

So, if you are looking for peace—stop and ask. Finding Peace When All is Lost

The Holy Spirit freely gives us His peace, and we must shoe our feet with that peace so that we can stand firm against the attacks of the enemy and walk forward in faith.

~Angie Nolen

6 Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected Test

Rachel flipped through her stack of vocabulary note cards. Tucking her legs crisscross applesauce style, she moaned, “Mom, can you email the teacher and ask what the test will be like?”

“Nope.”

“Please,” she begged.

“Rachel, I could contact the teacher but you need to know this information backwards and forwards.  If you know you will only be given a multiple choice test, you will only study to recognize the answer. You need to know this information inside and out. You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested.”

As soon as I uttered that last sentence, the Holy Spirit nudged me. I did not feel a tangible nudge, but rather a nudge in my spirit. You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested, echoed my words. Where those really my words to begin with or did the Holy Spirit plant those words in my mind to speak to Rachel? Either way, those words penetrated my soul with a deeper significance than my daughter’s upcoming vocabulary test.

Are you ready for your test?

The fact is each one of us will face a test in life. Sometimes we have ample time to prepare such as preparing to launch young adults to college or transitioning aging parents into an assisted living facility.

Other times, tests strike like a bolt of lightening leaving us blindsided and dazed. Caught off guard, these pop quizzes feel more significant. Unexpected health diagnoses, the death of a loved one, an accident, separation, or job loss are weighty pop quizzes.

You need to be prepared no matter how you are tested Click To Tweet

Pencils ready.

Unexpected tests are inevitable. The good news is God’s Word gives us detailed instruction on how to prepare for the tests and pop quizzes of life.

I am not a theologian or Bible scholar. I am a Christ follower who has survived the tests of a miscarriage, depression, a strong-willed child, betrayal, and most recently an unexpected health diagnosis resulting in an invisible chronic illness, the loss of my job and our beloved home.  I do not pretend to have all the answers but by remaining rooted in these six areas have helped me (and my family) through our tests and crisis of faith.

6 Ways to Prepare for the Unexpected Test:

  1. Seek: “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11
  2. Abide/ Remain: “Remain in me, as I remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4
  3. Surrender: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Mark 8:35
  4. Obey: “You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.” Psalm 119:57
  5. Trust:“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
  6. Pray:“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

Extra Credit

If you want to dig deeper into God’s Word read the following verses for extra credit.

  1. Seek: Jeremiah 29:13, Deuteronomy 4:9, Psalm 27:4, Psalm 119:2, Isaiah 55:6, Lamentations 3:25, Hebrews 11:6, and Matthew 7:7
  2. Abide/Remain: Exodus 33:14, Psalm 92:12-15, 2 Corinthians 5:7, John 16:33, John 15:7-10
  3. Surrender: Isaiah 64:8, Psalm 37:7, Mark 10:28, Matthew 16:24-25, Galatians 2:20, Romans 12:1
  4. Obey: Luke 11:28 Psalm 119:88, 168, Ecclesiastes 8:5, Matthew 8:27, John 14:23-24, Romans 2:13
  5. Trust: Hebrews 6:19, Psalm 20:7, Isaiah 26:3, Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 37:3, Psalm 44:6-7, Jeremiah 17:7, Isaiah 26:4
  6. Pray: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Matthew 6:6-9, Matthew 5:44, Matthew 26:41, Luke 22:40, Romans 8:26

“He is a faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9

~April Dawn White

©2017 April Dawn White, All Rights Reserved.

Life is Hard, but God is Good

Is God good?

I don’t know what prompted my husband to ask the question. It was an ordinary day. We were zooming down the road to Rachel’s (aka Pop Fly) softball game. Shifting into fifth gear, my husband turned toward the backseat and asked, “Is God Good?”

Rachel, our twelve-year-old, immediately answered, “Yes.”

Non-verbal sounds emanated from Andrew’s throat with a not-no-sure moan.

Chris asked again, “Andrew, Is God good?”

“Well….um…” He began.

Panic raced through my veins. Have I failed as a mother? I wonder.  I pray, “Lord, why isn’t he answering this question? Lord, help him to know the truth.”

“It’s just that…” He continued struggling to form his thoughts.

Memories flash through my mind of all the bedtime prayers, family devotions, long discussions about hard topics, vacation Bible schools, and even private Christian school. Yet my fourteen-year-old son struggles with this three-word question.

Sighing, Andrew spoke, “God is good, it’s just that life is hard right now.”

Continuing he said, “Mom has an illness and is unable to work. Dad has all the weight on him right now. I broke my ankle and we need to sell our house.”

Keeping his eyes on the road, Chris nodded, “You’re right Andrew, God is good and life is hard right now.”

Turing to look at him in the back seat, “Andrew, both of those statements are true. The reality of our current situation does not change the fact that God is good.”

I realized the delay in Andrew’s response was not due to a lack of knowledge, but rather a crisis of faith. Deep down he knew the right answer taught by his parents, the church, and even his school. However, his teenage brain had developed deeper thought processes. Truth and reality wrestled in his mind.

Life is Hard, but God is Good. Click To Tweet

There will come a time in everyone’s life when there is a crisis of faith.Surrounded on every side Truth and reality will wrestle in our minds.  Which one will win? Much of the outcome depends on our perception of God. Do you perceive God as good? If you struggle in this area, try this this exercise in faith: for one-week jot down everything, you are thankful. Big or small, write them down and give God praise for His faithful provision.

© 2017 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

Exercising Our Spiritual Muscles: Guest Post by Amy Ahrens

I am honored to introduce you to my friend, Amy. When she shared this principle with me, I asked her to share it for Red Chair Moments. Enjoy! ~April

Exercising Our Spiritual Muscles

by Amy Ahrens

Recently, I pulled on a sleeveless dress to wear. Observing myself in the mirror, I realized I needed to start working on toning my arms. At the gym, I asked the physical trainer about toning my upper arms. Once I was taught the exercises, I began to implement them into my routine. If I put on that same dress today, would I miraculously have toned arms? No, it will take several weeks of exercise before I start seeing results of this discipline.

Later that week, I facilitated the Experiencing God, Bible study by Henry Blackaby. The class discussion for the week focused on the difference between being self-centered and God-centered. One of the women raised a great question, “Now, that I’m aware that I’ve been more self-centered, how do I change to be more God-centered?”

I responded, “Just as my upper arms were not toned overnight, in a similar way, becoming more God-centered is not going to happen overnight. Once you become initially aware, ask God to help you become more aware of the Holy Spirit’s voice in your day-to-day life. Ask for the courage to listen and obey.  As you begin to “exercise” this muscle of listening and obeying, the more strengthened and toned this muscle becomes.”

However, the more we ignore and disobey God’s Spirit, the harder our hearts become to hear His voice.  It’s like each time we put another cotton ball in our ears, until there are so many we can’t hear anymore.  The hardest times to listen and obey are in the tense situations, such as an argument where you sense the Spirit cautioning you not to speak hurtful words,  but you are so angry that you find yourself doing it anyway.

Take baby steps. Start exercising your spiritual muscles by obeying in the non-tense situations. This could be when you feel the Spirit nudging you to reach out to someone who is hurting or by praying if God wants you to fast.   Fasting is a spiritual discipline like communion, prayer, and reading your Bible.  It is the act of denying yourself of particular foods, drinks, or a meal, or activity (such as TV or social media).  When you deny yourself, and feel that craving for whatever you are sacrificing, reach out in prayer. Cry out to God in a hunger for Him.  It makes you more aware of what He is doing in your life.  By fasting, your prayers will be more fervent, and it exercises that spiritual muscle of becoming more God-centered.

This year for Lent, my daughter felt led to fast from ice cream and soda. It was difficult for my husband and two teenage boys to remember. However, it was a great learning experience for her. Shed had to stand firm when people around her were eating or drinking those items, and not bring attention to herself. Ultimately, it deepened her relationship with God. Each time she cried out to God during those difficult times of craving ice cream and soda, was reevaluating why she was fasting to begin with.

Sometimes God calls us to fast when He knows we are about to encounter a trial. It strengthens us as we shut out the noises of the world and connect to the Vine (John 15:5) When we remain in Him, we produce His fruit (Gal 5:22-23) in every area of our lives.   Trials would be those “tense” times, and after strengthening those muscles, then we are more likely to be “toned” and to act in God-centered ways in the midst of the hard times.

The more we obey and experience God at work, the more we trust Him.   We see in the Bible how God works in unexpected ways, and as we see Him working in our lives. We also see that He answers in unexpected ways. Trusting in God’s promises when we can’t see His hand will tone our spiritual muscles.

Amy is married to Peter and together they have 3 teens.  She works from home as an administrative professional in addition to owning her own Mary Kay business.  She serves in her church as a middle school small group leader and coaches and mentors moms of young children through a ministry called Moms & More.

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