In the shalom of this morning's soft rainfall I am reflecting on the past two years of Shabbats, which John and I were (for the most part) able to observe as a true day of REST. We would get up when we felt like it, but not get dressed! Heading straight for a cup of coffee or tea, we would grab our Bibles and find a comfy, sunny corner where we could get into the Word of God and spend the whole morning with Him, delighting in the revelation the Spirit would bring as we read and talked together.
I had many seasons like that before I was married also; quiet seasons with my Lord and Husband, when He would spend hours teaching me and writing His Torah upon my heart. I am grateful for those seasons now, for I perceive that everything has shifted, and we are in a time of mighty acceleration, urgency and testing. For me, it has been a tough year indeed, a roller coaster ride of profound and life-changing events. John's very serious heart attack in January left us reeling with concerns about his health, but did not deter us from the plans God had to send us to Israel in March and Kenya in June! He used those amazing journeys to produce far more fruit than we could have imagined. We grasped the whole, enormous vision of Yehovah's restoration of all Israel, re-gathering His family and restoring His Land. It became so real and personal as we met the people in Israel who work tirelessly toward this Godly goal, guided and empowered by His Spirit. And we could not have imagined that as we made the challenging treks through the mountains and valleys of northern Kenya, teaching in the schools and bringing greatly needed financial aid to the orphans, it would spawn a whole new effort to establish a foundation there that would equip and facilitate the work of Jesus in this area, begun by our very dear friend, Rev. Samuel. Indeed, even a medical clinic was established to visit the sixty-plus children on top of that mountain and many urgent life-needs never before met are now being provided. All glory to God!
After Kenya we felt we had surely come home to a time of rest and refreshment, but instead I entered into a stressful, but holy time of seeing my parents through their last days. As you know, they passed away together in late August, right in the midst of the amazing time when God was leading us to found a whole new fellowship here in Eaton. There wasn't much time to grieve my loss! We have thrown ourselves mind, body and spirit into transforming this old, abandoned church building into a sparkling, newly-painted and carpeted tabernacle for the Living God! Last Shabbat we had exactly 80 people come into the Sanctuary (including 25 children) and this old 1908-built church was filled with worship, prayer, the flowing of the Ruach and the teaching of the Word.
We can know for sure that this is all the plan and the work of Yehovah, because the enemy has persisted in trying to take out my husband! He was taken to the hospital by ambulance from our home on October 20th and spent that whole week there being treated for a serious G.I. bleed, losing about half the blood in his body! Scripture tells us that "the life is in the blood," and this was all so clearly demonstrated for me as John once again battled for life! Ultimately it took a blood transfusion and two endoscopies to bring him back to health and today he is on the mend once again. We are calling John "Lazarus," now -- he has defied life-threatening situations three times in our short 3-1/2 year marriage and by God's grace he is still with me.
It is indeed a season of testing, and in last week's Torah portion I gleaned more understanding of what this is all about. In Genesis 12:1 the LORD says to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you." The Hebrew for this Torah portion is Lech Lecha, which means "go forth" or more accurately, "go for yourself" or "go by yourself." It is a call to radical obedience; a call to live a life separate from all that you knew, and all that was comfortable. It also implies, as our friend Rabbi Jay Howard, pointed out: "a question God asked Abram: 'ARE YOU READY TO DO MY WILL?'
The season of quiet shalom in God's Word was of great value. We needed to have it written on our hearts so that now, in these days of great testing and trial, we could walk it out, doing HIS will (not ours), and being equipped with the faith Abram had to overcome the attacks of all the enemies in the land, and prevail with God's grace and great love.
It is not because of anything that we have done that there is a powerful move of God on the mountains of Ephraim in Israel, and the mountains in northern Kenya! It is not because of anything we have done that John continues to conquer the enemy's attempts to take his life. It is only because we believe in YESHUA (Jesus), our Mighty Redeemer, and have faith that whatever HE causes us to do and wherever HE leads us is the right way. Undoubtedly it will no be the easy way or the way we have gone before, but it WILL be the right way. Yeshua was the Promise given to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 - and He is the Promise given to us. And so I do not fear. My life and my husband's life are in His hands. And I know that I know that when we lech lecha (go forth believing) God has the power to do what He has promised.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him. He did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised. (Romans 4:18, 20-21).
Kelly Ferrari Mills