Updated: Feb 22
("God's Unfolding Message" Series 1, Post 5)
*If you have not read my post entitled, “The Bride has Made Herself Ready,” or watched my video with the same title, please do so as it will greatly add to your understanding of what you are about to read. God is building upon His message!
Last summer I greatly struggled with a lack of peace and depression that stemmed from knowing I had a great message and testimony locked inside of me but, at the same time, not knowing what to do with it. God has greatly over the years told me that He will use my testimony, giving me some specific promises. And so, not wanting to move ahead of Him or to put it out there in the wrong way, I became locked in a state of fear. I didn't know how to balance God's future promises with everyday steps of faith. This led me to participate in an on-line Christian conference, hoping to find some direction.
Well, I found it, for God greatly spoke to me through one of the speakers at this conference. This lady essentially talked about the importance of taking the first step. Using a visual, she brought up a little video of her GPS. She talked about how she liked Chick-fil-A and how she always tried to go there whenever she could while on her travels. She talked about how she would put Chick-fil-A into her GPS and then head out. Her video then showed us how she would get rerouted until she got to Chick-fil-A. What God ended up showing me through her example is that even if you know your destination, you don’t always know how you’ll get there. As I mentioned, God has clearly told me my destination, having given me some actual specific promises about my future, but He hasn’t really told me the specifics of how I will get there. This has always been where I have tripped up. Even back when I was believing God concerning my promise that He would return my bridegroom to me, God told me to simply take the first step in belief. My own testimony lays all of this out before me as something I have been through before. Haven’t we all, likewise, been given a promise about our true Bridegroom returning to us? And are we not also always tripping up on the specifics about what we should be doing as we wait with expectation? Isn’t it becoming harder to simply live in expectation of a promise and not to try and define our own expectations concerning that promise? It is for me.
The speaker then went on to ask, “When in the past did you go for it, when you didn’t have to live with the regret of not going for it?” I instantly thought about my dad, and this wasn’t the first time either, for God had been bringing this scenario to my mind prior to this conference. Before my dad died, we had to make a decision as to whether or not to try and resuscitate him. After praying about it, God led me to tell my family that we should try because we wouldn’t ever want to live with the regret of wondering what would’ve happened if we didn’t try. Because we did try, although it didn’t work, we don’t have to live with the regret of wondering if my dad would be alive today. It didn’t work, but in the end, it still brought peace and I will never forget the nurse after my dad died taking us back into a room and talking to us. She said, “There’s always hope until hope is gone.” In terms of my dad hope was finally gone and we could let him go. King David experienced something similar in 2 Samuel 12:14-22. He fasted and prayed and wore sackcloth over his son dying. But once he learned that his son was officially dead, He got up, washed his face, and kept going with life.
Like I said, God had been bringing that story to my mind because I had been struggling with putting the ball in God’s court. I desperately wanted to reach a place of peace, knowing that I did all I could to get my story, my testimony out there, and in the end, if it didn’t go anywhere, then at least I wouldn’t live with the regret, thinking about all the things I could’ve done to bring it to life. It really went back to Jesus feeding the five thousand and the parable of the talents. Jesus fed the five thousand, but only after, in faith, the disciples gave Him all they had to give, all that was within their means. In terms of the parable of the talents, I began to realize that my lack of peace was stemming from the fact that I had buried my talents, my testimony, or the gifts God had given me, in the ground and had thus been living in fear of my Father’s response to my actions. However, He doesn’t want us to live in fear, He wants us to step out in faith and to do everything we can to multiply those talents, just like He ended up multiplying those fish and loaves. He wants us to give Him what we have. He wants us to live empowered.
I cried and cried during this woman’s talk because God was greatly speaking to me, truly bringing to light what was happening to me at that time, which as I alluded to was greatly struggling with a huge lack of peace from what I now know was holding back my God-given gifts and talents and testimony, from the world. God was pointing out that I needed to take steps of faith, even if small ones. Even if all I had was a few fish and loaves.
As lunchtime came around that day, I decided to go to Chick-fil-A. I had wanted to go the day before but chose to go somewhere else because I didn’t want to drive that far. But, still craving Chick-fil-A, especially after she had talked about it, I decided to just do it. I got in my car and starting on the highway, and as I drove, I began to think to myself, “How could God direct me or reroute me because I know my destination, I know how to get there, and because it’s the one I always go to, I don’t even need my GPS.” Well, God has a sense of humor for the exit I usually take to go to my Chick-fil-A was closed. Because of this, I had to be redirected to getting off at the next exit and drive all the way around the neighborhood to get back to the Chick-fil-A. God was speaking! He was pointing out that even though I know my destination, that I don’t know how I will get there and that it will be His job to show me and to direct me, to reroute me. My journey may not be a straight shot, like most of my defined expectations allude to. Instead, I may have to take a more roundabout way. But I will still get to my desired destination because my God has promised this to me. He promises this to us all!
Since this conference was online there was a chat box going on as the speaker talked. I very rarely posted, although I did occasionally read some of the comments, but as she began to talk about fear at one point, I was inspired to share: “FEAR=Fantasy Eating At Reality,” which as you may recall is a story and lesson from my life that I also have had to learn over and over again. (You can find these blogs and videos entitled "Fear = Fantasy Eating At Reality" and "Overcoming Fear") Anyway, I wrote that post during her talk at 10:40 AM and the reason I know this exact time is because that post, along with when it was posted, flashed through the comments almost every 2 to 4 minutes throughout the entire day. It was kind of embarrassing, especially not knowing for sure if others were seeing it as well. At 4:24 PM right as the conference was ending, I decided God must be trying to speak to me so I took a picture of my computer screen with my phone as it flashed on the screen one more time. I knew that it would flash again because it had been doing so all day long.
After taking the picture I heard God say:
Susan, let go of your fear. Fear is holding you back, mainly the fear of disappointing Me by choosing the wrong path. Susan, My love, I will not let you miss the mark. You are My arrow. You will land in My predestined destination for you. I promise. Take the first step Susan and believe. What are you so afraid of? Have I not proven Myself faithful? Remember and believe. Susan, your future is bright and lovely, full of adventure and excitement and I will be with you every step of the way. Believe Susan. I want nothing more than for you to believe. To believe that I will give you everything you need to move forward with My calling on your life. It is for My glory so you can be assured that ALL control is with Me. ALL control Susan. ALL control. My Love, move forward with confidence. I will guide you and lead you in the ways you should go. I open and close doors Susan. I will navigate you correctly. Take the first step.
What God was showing me through my reoccurring comment is that my own words were witnessing to me. As I had prayed about whether God wanted me to do this on-line conference, I admit I struggled to get an answer. I then came to realize that maybe God didn’t care, or at least didn’t need me to do it because the revelation that came to me was that these are lessons God has already taught me. He has already dealt with my fear before, my fear that was eating away at my reality. My own testimony held the key to helping me out of my current state of deception, but I wasn’t going back and letting it. I wasn’t going back to my own reservoir of faith that could help me to move forward within my current battle. Those words that kept flashing over and over all day were my own words. God was pointing out that if I can’t learn from my own testimony, how can I encourage others to learn from their own. I just needed to listen to my own words, my own testimony.
This last Saturday, before attending a memorial service for a dear friend, I spent time with the Lord and apparently, I needed this reminder yet again. Ug! My devotional ended up moving me to ask God if there was anything in my way, something that I was holding onto that He wanted me to let go of. He said, “Susan, you are holding onto the way you think things should go.” God was essentially pointing out my need once again to live in expectation but once again not to define that expectation. Oh, how we forget and have to be reminded of lessons already learned.
The memorial service was held in a hall at a botanical garden. As I sat there, God began to reveal some things to me. The last time my husband and I were in that room, it was to photograph a wedding, our last wedding, for this particular room was made for events like that. Our friend had worked at this facility which is why her family chose to use this room instead of a church. However, God began to speak through this particular environment, opening the eyes of this once wedding photographer.
Like I said, the last time we were in this room we were there to photograph a wedding. It was the one with the couple in their late 70s early 80s that God uses in His message "The Bride Has Made Herself Ready." Having already been buried a few weeks ago, the lack of a body and casket only added to the symbolism that God revealed to me. He revealed that this event was in fact my friend’s true wedding. As I looked around, I began to notice that everyone sat at round tables and that there were centerpieces on each table. I then noticed that on one side of the room that they had decided to display a bridesmaid dress that she had once worn to a wedding right next to 5 football jerseys, for she loved football and this particular team specifically, which meant that all the jersey’s matched. The bridesmaid dress actually looked like it could have been a wedding dress for it was a pale pink, almost white color. Having photographed many weddings, I can attest to how this setup looked just like a scene that I have photographed many times in the past. For I have often hung the bridesmaid’s dresses right next to the wedding dress for a photo of just the dresses. It is also most common, I might add, for a bride to also have 5 bridesmaids. After a “ceremony” with music and a message, a microphone was passed around and people began to share their stories about our friend and all I could think about was that these were the toasts. Then to end the celebration, we were provided with a barbecue meal, which again I can attest is the most common meal served at weddings. I had eaten my fair share.
Guests, round tables, centerpieces, a wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses, a ceremony, music, toasts, and barbecue. The symbolism was all around me, but it didn’t fully sink in until God strongly brought a scene from a movie to my mind. This scene came to my mind after my friend’s mother shared something about her daughter. She referenced a conversation that she once had with her about how it seemed that all of her friends were moving on while she was staying the same, still content living in her parent’s house. Her friends were moving into homes and getting married and having kids and she wondered if there was something wrong with her. The scene that came to my mind was from “Little Women.” On her deathbed, Beth talked to Jo about how she had never had a desire to move out of her parent’s house even though her sisters were moving forward with marriage, children, endeavors, and new homes. She said, “I don’t mind. I was never like the rest of you, making plans about the great things I’d do. . . Why does everyone want to go away? I love being home. But I don’t like being left behind.” But then with a big smile on her face she said, “Now I’m the one going ahead.”
She had a great smile because it was her turn to finally go first ahead of her sisters and family. She would be entering Heaven first and likewise, oh my own sweet friend, you too finally get to go ahead. You are the first among us that are still living to enter into a wedding to the King of kings. This is something to rejoice over, not to mourn about as God pointed out right after having photographed that last wedding in that room. He had said to me after having just found out that another friend had suddenly passed away, “Susan, there is no sorrow in death for those who belong to Me. True morning is reserved for those who don’t.” I am thankful that my friend knew Jesus. (Again, a wonderful word in "The Bride Has Made Herself Ready.")
The last few months in my life have been filled with a lot of death. No one in my immediate family thankfully, but several friends, and family members of friends, and it seems like tons of celebrities. All of this has only served as a reminder to me that life is short and therefore, we need to get to work. We need to get to work accomplishing the tasks that God has given us who are still alive to do, tasks that facilitate getting Christ's Bride ready for her wedding day. It is time to stop holding in those gifts and talents. It is time we stop burying them in the ground.
Wow! Right as I typed that phrase, "burying them in the ground,” deep revelation set in, as did intense grief from the Holy Spirit. God isn’t concerned with burying people in the ground, at least those that knew Him, for they are now officially married to Him. No, He is concerned with the other things we are burying in the ground, our God-given gifts and talents. Oh, how He grieves. I can feel it. I felt it back before that on-line conference last year. I can’t even put into words how that lack of peace felt. It was awful. But I know that was nothing compared to how God feels about His children burying their gifts and talents in the ground, or hiding their lights under a bushel, mostly due to fear, fear brought on by this crazy world around us. This world is putting out fear like never before: the fear of covid, the government, and cancel culture, just to name a few. But whom shall we truly fear? Man and this world or God? We know the answer.
After that celebration of life, or should I say my friend’s wedding day, I drove to see my friend Karen, who lives in another state. While I drove, I began to think about the sky and clouds and how God has spoken to me through the clouds in the past. I particularly thought about how God moves and speaks to me during this particular drive. After having these thoughts, I looked into the sky right as Steven Curtis Chapman’s song came on entitled “Whatever,” to notice what looked like a little line cloud. I thought to myself, almost kind of jokingly, that “God could use even this little cloud to speak to me,” and sure enough what instantly came to my mind, especially with the words of this particular song, is how much that little cloud looked exactly like a little cursor on a blank computer screen.
It had been a long time since I listened to this song, “Whatever.” I loved this song in college as God used it back then to help me to truly be open to whatever He had in store for me. For, the song talks about laying down our plans or “How we think things should go,” and truly give God a “Whatever you want to do in my life Lord” attitude. I had already noticed coming into this new year that it was the first year in a really long time that I didn’t have anything on my calendar. I literally have a blank calendar, no weddings booked to photograph or anything else, and so I already knew in my heart that God wanted me to live in expectation knowing that He was going to fill it up with a great adventure. Well, this also came back to my mind. So, with all that said, I finished singing that song, once again crying out “Whatever Lord,” and thanked Him for my blank slate, that blank page. I then heard, as I continued to look at that cursor in the sky, “Susan great adventure awaits you as you let Me fill your pages with My story.” So, I look forward in expectation as to how God is going to move that cursor in order to write a wonderful story, a glorious story filled with Holy Spirit ink. The next song to come on was “God of All My Days,” by Casting Crowns. How apropos.
I had a wonderful time with my friend Karen, especially after God began to make me feel once again like His bride. The night I arrived, being a cosmetologist, my friend highlighted my hair. The next day we got pedicures, and I ended up joking with the man working on my toes after he noticed our matching T-shirts that it was like we were a wedding party getting ready for a wedding. I had been inspired to bring and to gift Karen a T-shirt that matched one I also brought for myself. She ended up choosing to wear it so that we matched. Although I felt a little silly at first having matching shirts at our age, after the following event, I knew God had a reason for it. For, Karen decided all on her own that we needed to stop by the jewelry store where she worked so that I could get my wedding ring cleaned after noticing how dirty it had become.
It wasn’t until I stood in that jewelry store looking down at my sparkly ring that looked like new, waiting on Karen as she talked to her coworkers, that God opened my eyes and revelation set in. I felt like a bride. I had just had my hair done and my toes done and was now in a jewelry store having been handed what looked like a brand-new ring. Even at my age, I felt like a bride. But after all, aren’t we always the Bride of Christ? And like God said to me in anticipation of photographing that last wedding I did in that hall at that botanical garden, “Susan, My Kingdom is for all ages, for all people - male, female, young, and old. The words I speak to you concerning getting My bride ready is for all, not just young women. All are invited to the wedding of the Lamb. Take note of the joy you will see on the bride and grooms face today. My Spirit offers newness and joy for all ages. One should never think their life is ending for I have ALWAYS offered new beginnings, always.” I don’t know what God has planned for me, but I am ready for that blank page to be filled, as a bride of Christ, by my Ultimate Bridegroom.
If you die, and you know Jesus, then enjoy living within the fulfillment of being His Bride and reaching your wedding day. And, I will see you in Heaven when my own work is done. But as long as you are alive, join me oh Bride of Christ! Join me in testifying to the Lord Jesus Christ. Join me in getting the rest of His Bride ready for her wedding day. Male, female, young or old, those of us still alive, we have work to do. God wants to do a new thing through us. So, let’s stop living in fear and instead live empowered through the Holy Spirit.