Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Anne Ortlund and the Parting of the Red Sea

Did I ever tell you about the big miracle in my life? My loving God does quiet miracles all the time. However, I think God only gives the grace of “parting of the Red Sea” moments to weak people like me who occasionally need signs and wonders. Oh, unbelieving and perverse me! However, I accept these moments with the deepest of gratitude to a gracious Lord who knows my every weakness and even the number of hairs on my head.

I was in a job that was consuming me. One day I had made a mistake with the payment of a credit card, which I was able to correct at the bank in person. On my way to Towne Bank, I heard a voice in my head say, “You are worthless. Drive your Jeep into that tree.” I had no intention of doing so, but I realized that I needed some help.

On that very bad day, I came home to a newsletter from Renewal Ministries. Renewal works with pastors, missionaries and other church workers who need refreshment and a new perspective. Anne Ortlund and her late husband, Ray, founded Renewal Ministries. You can learn more about the ministry at

Ray was the pastor of the famous Lake Avenue Church in CA. They are the authors of many books (together and separately), including Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman; Disciplines of the Heart; Disciplines of the Home; Up with Worship; Children Are Wet Cement; How Great Our Joy; Joanna; My Sacrifice, His Fire; Lord, Make My Life a Miracle; Confident in Christ; You Don’t Have to Give Up; etc.

In my early years as a Christian, my husband was deployed a great deal. Submarine op-tempo can be up to 70% of the time at sea. Many the night would find me sleepless and propped up in bed surrounded by a spotted dog, rice cakes, peanut M&M’s and a pile of Ortlund books. Just in case you're confused, rice cakes cancel out the calories of M&M's, as does Diet Pepsi.

The “Disciplines” books are available as one volume. I am on my third replacement of this book and the third copy is getting pretty raggedy, rather Velveteen Rabbit-esque. Anne Ortlund has been my boon companion during a lot of long nights.

Another different and loving voice that tough day said “Call Renewal.” I couldn’t shake it. I thought being mentored by Anne Ortlund would be only for the super spiritual, which I was surely not. I read another blog of a much-published author who stated she had waited 7 years to meet with Anne.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss, a mighty woman of God and founder of Revive Our Hearts Ministries, has shared on her radio broadcast that she also met with Anne and Ray before starting her ministry. You can learn more about this ministry at

God parted the Red Sea for me in January, when I was privileged to spend 2 ½ days with Anne in her home in Newport Beach, CA being “Titus 2:3-4’d”, if you know what I mean. Me. Flawed me.

I have a confession to make. The love of God had never been particularly real or present to me. I’ve never doubted that there was a God. Since age 24, I have believed that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. The problem was that I used to see myself as being so incredibly damaged that while God could love all mankind in a general way, I did not see the triune God as loving me individually.

This is a big lie of Satan, a very successful ploy he uses with many Christians. No matter what we underline in our Bibles, we often do not see who we are in Christ Jesus. God sees me through Jesus-colored glasses. Nothing I can do personally will ever make me “unflawed” enough to appropriate the acceptance of God, but everything that Jesus did will. Jesus said, “It is finished,” as he died on the cross. At that moment, all of my striving was made as filthy rags and I was accepted in the Beloved.

Anne Ortlund helped me to feel the love of God for me, Annie, personally. He knew the exact miracle needed to help me understand that He sees me individually. Just for me, He would stop Anne from all her other activities so that she could help me see this.

It is a pretty terrific thing to meet your heroine. Do you know what is even more terrific? When your heroine is everything that you hoped she would be and a whole lot more. Anne had just had surgery on her scalp. Twenty eight stitches were needed, yet as you can see from the picture, Anne looked so beautiful in a wig that you’d never know it. She had recently lost her husband of many years and was giving sacrificially. Anne was a gracious, wonderful hostess who poured herself into us.

I speak with Anne from time to time and now call her my friend. I left my difficult job and the painful worship situation that came with it. We finally were released to attend Kempsville Presbyterian Church full time, where we had found respite during the dry years.

Just to show us that He is still personally interested in me, God showed me another little glimpse of the miraculous. The first worship song at our new church was called, “I Am Free.” Although she and I had never specifically discussed the church we longed to attend when we visited Anne, God confirmed that we were in the right place when I recently discovered that the same worship leader who sang “I Am Free” is Anne’s nephew.

God knows me intimately and personally. He knows you the same way. And you can take that to the bank.