Extreme Faith in Extreme Circumstances....

Three years ago the Lord showed me the great deception that lies in the New Age religion which I had been living and believing in for 25 years of my adult life. On November 1st, 2020, it will be two years since I gave my life completely to Him. It has been a journey and a half, but all worth it. August 2017 through to this year, have been extremely challenging years, but, I am deeply grateful for how the Lord has matured me. Besides losing everything materially, I lost both my parents in a space of one year. Because we lost my six figure income due to me shutting down my New Age business which I had built up over 21 years, we lost our home, all our household contents and motor vehicles. I was the sole breadwinner at the time. Due to giving up the lie we were living, me and my family had to move into my childhood home at the time of my mother's death in January 2019 mainly to look after my dad who was now a widower, alone after 55 years of marriage, terminally ill and suffering from dementia. The timing was perfect, albeit it under sad circumstances because we were officially homeless. It was one of the toughest seasons of our lives. My four children were also heavily impacted by our changes, which added to the extreme circumstances we were dealing with. Fast forward to January 2020 when my dad passed away. Although we were expecting it, it was still a shock. Added to this was our dire financial situation, which was worsening by the month.

As challenging, at times very worrisome, and draining this season has been, I have learned that not everything that "bad" happens is Satan attacking us. I have learned that God's discipline can be very uncomfortable too, but most certainly for our highest good. God often allows extreme circumstances to unfold because He is disciplining us in extreme faith in Him. He is disciplining us to be disciplined in trusting Him for and in EVERYTHING. Surrendering fully to Him can feel like having every hair on your body plucked out one by one without a breather! Although we lost everything of the world, we gained so much in the Lord, and the way He has protected and provided for us is worth more than anything the world can offer us.

He has proven to us beyond a shadow of a doubt that He knows exactly what we need, and if we trust this truth about Him, He will never disappoint us. And He never did. It is human nature to worry, yet He tells us not to worry (Matthew 6:25-27) and in every situation to pray to Him, and He will guard our hearts and minds with His peace (Philippians 4:6-7). This is often easier said than done, however, when extreme circumstances are being faced, instead of worrying, which changes nothing, extreme faith and prayer are the ONLY answer. There are no words to describe the relief that comes with God's peace filling you.

It's been three years in total of the Lord tearing down the old in our lives and rebuilding us in Him. Three years of learning what a blessing extreme faith is and that truly, worry is a sin. Living in my childhood home over the past two years has felt like a prison sentence because I don't have good memories of being here. I complained and fought this season because I so badly didn't want to be here. The more I fought it, the harder it was to endure, until I stopped rebelling. The most extreme part of our faith boot camp journey unfolded over the past few months. It was during this time that the Lord, because of my prayers and surrendering to Him and His Will, began showing the wood for the trees. I believe this came about because my faith and trust in Him grew with each passing day by witnessing how He answered my prayers. Why? Because I was surrendering more and more to accepting His truth and His Word.

We are so accustomed to doing things in our own power. Sorting things out ourselves. Seeking answers and solutions with our minds. Leaning on our own understanding rather than truly digesting what God's Word instructs us to do. This is why God disciplines (teaches) us. The Latin word for teaching is disciplina, which means to give instruction, discipline, training, knowledge, tuition. So God is not necessarily punishing us. Being independent and being totally dependent on God for everything is what we are to learn. We can be independent in that we have a job, take responsibility for our lives AND in doing this, RELYING FULLY on the Lord to GUIDE us in every decision and in everything we are doing as independent and responsible individuals. Who we marry, what job to accept, who to trust as friends, where to live...everything! The world teaches independence to mean that we don't need anyone; that we must self-help. That we must do everything for ourselves. I certainly learnt that growing up. This is a dangerously misleading New Age worldview that separates us from God and what He wants from us, which is to be TOTALLY DEPENDANT ON HIM FOR ABSOLUTELY EVERY PART OF OUR LIVES. Since the age of 15 I had been supporting myself, and others financially. 38 years of doing it for myself, until God taught me otherwise. I'm sure you can imagine what a learning/maturing curve this has been for me, and my family. Perhaps you are in the midst of this training with the Lord, or you've been there and know what it takes. It's NOT a sign of weakness to surrender fully to the Lord and trust Him with and in EVERYTHIG. Adapting and surrendering fully to the Lord's Will instead of following our own will is no walk in the park. It takes MASSIVE STRENGTH, ENDURANCE, PATIENCE AND COURAGE to do this. Strength and courage the Lord provides BECAUSE we are trusting Him and believing His Word and His attributes.

Living as a STAUNCH BELIEVER in Jesus Christ is not for sissies. When you have a true relationship with Jesus Christ giving up is NOT an option. When you have truly tasted His Living Water quenching your thirst, turning back doesn't even enter your mind and what the world has to offer in the form of fame or fortune disappears. You ONLY want Him and what He can give you because you know it's genuine and everlasting. You absolutely know that you are weak without Him because you have experienced His strength getting you through the darkest of days. What the world offers is temporary and can be taken away or lost in a heartbeat. Challenging seasons and good times come and go. Money, friends, success and recognition come and go, but the Lord is consistent, faithful even when we are unfaithful, and unfailing in His love for us. His grace is a gift no money in this world can buy and knowing that He is the ONLY one who can give us eternal life is priceless. Knowing this truth is what fearing the Lord means.

God rewards those who walk in faith and trust Him. He rewards and blesses us when we surrender fully to Him and let go of trying to self-help and enforce our will. My family and I are now experiencing the blessings from the Lord because we have learned His lesson. I inherited my childhood home when my dad died as well as his motor car. On the 18th of September, 2020, the house was transferred into my name. On the 28th of September I contacted real estate agents to put the house up for sale. On the 12th of October we accepted the second offer that had been made on the house. We have been informed that the buyer's bond has been approved by the bank and we will be moving into our new home in December. Our house was sold in two weeks! This is God's hand at work. The money from the sale of the house is the new start we need to get back on our feet. Trusting in Him has set us free. Job opportunities are opening for my husband. I have an opportunity to do volunteer work at a baby sanctuary for abandoned babies. Something I have always wanted to do. All of this is GOD'S GIFT, BLESSING, MERCY AND GRACE, because we have FAITH and TRUST HIM!

I want to encourage you today NOT to give up. If you're going to give up, then let it be your rebellion, your lack of trust in Him, your self-help tendencies, fear and your worry. Repent of this and lay everything at the Lord's feet and let Him take over. HE WILL SET YOU FREE!!! HE WILL GIVE YOU THE STRENGTH, PEACE, ENDURANCE AND COURAGE TO FACE AND GET THROUGH WHATEVER IS CHALLENGING YOU RIGHT NOW. Without Him there is no lasting peace. Trying to do things in our own power is prideful and considered idolatry because we are putting ourselves ahead of God. We are saying we are more capable than He is. Repent of this too and know that our Father is forgiving and will remember this sin no more (Hebrews 8:12 and Isaiah 43:25).

In closing, I want to thank everyone whom the Lord used to come to our aid in our desperate times of need. You know who you are. May the Lord bless and keep you for your obedience, generosity, love and kindness. We love you!

"I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along." Psalm 40:1-2

God bless and shalom!

Michelle Manders

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