"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
November 8, 2017
I began to get quite a bit of gray in my hair when I was in my early twenties, so began coloring my hair at that time. I kept it up, because I was young and unmarried and didn't want to look like an old granny on the prowl for a man. Jon and I met when I was 38, and then married two weeks before my 40th birthday; but Jon was 5-1/2 years younger than me, so I didn't want to be a newlywed and look like I was a cougar (term used for an older woman who is with a younger man).
Finally, after I was in my 50's, I asked Jon if he would mind if I went gray and stopped coloring my hair; after all, he was the one who had to look at me every day and introduce me to others as his wife. He said it was fine to try it to see how I would look. Honestly, we both could see that I had a whole lot of white roots, but neither of us could really visualize how I would look with my natural hair color; and whether it would look pretty or dingy, make me look my age or look older, or if the color would be darker in patches and lighter in others, etc. We had no idea!
Growing up, my natural hair color was black. Black hair dye doesn't look good and generally looks too dark, so I had used a dark or medium brown for about thirty years on my hair. During the last several years, as I got more and more gray roots, I had to color my hair about every three weeks to keep it looking nice and not have white roots and temples.
You cannot immediately go from a dark hair dye to gray or white; and you can't just strip a dark dye from your hair and your hair be its natural color. It is a long process. Many women will let their natural hair grow out and get longer and longer white roots, with the dark on the ends; which takes a really long time. I didn't want to go that route.
My nephew's wife is a beautician, but had never done this process before, so she was excited that I let her loose on my hair. It was a learning experience for her. She had had a little training on what the process would entail, then asked questions of some who had been in the business a lot longer than she had, and did some research on what we would need to do. She came up with a plan and I made an appointment in May of 2016. It was a lot more work, took a lot more time, and was much more involved than either of us had ever thought it would be! I was there for about six hours. She had to put something on my hair a couple of times to try and strip as much of the old color out as she could. Then she used hair bleach on my hair a couple of times. I really cannot remember what all we put on my hair that day; but each time we applied something, we then had to wait a specific period of time for it to process, then wash it out, then see what my hair looked like and go from there. I believe I arrived at 11:00 and it was almost 5:00 before I left.
When I left the shop, my hair had processed from a dark brown to a reddish color. She put a glaze, which fades out instead of having to grow out, on my hair so that the color would look more even all over. Over the next four months it faded to more of a blond color and finally to my natural color. It took several months, and several haircuts, for all of the old color and the glaze to completely get out of my hair and for it to be my all-natural color.
My hair was very wiry and extremely dry after all the processing that was done on it that day to strip out all of the old color. It felt horrible; as if it had no moisture or softness in it. It took a long time for my hair to recover from all of the harsh treatments that were put on it.
The top picture on the left was taken in May of 2016 by my beautician before we began the process, and was what my hair color had been for many, many, many years. The bottom pictures were taken 4 months later in September. My hair still had some reddish blond mixed in with the gray. It was probably at least another 4-5 months before all of that color was completely out and my hair was its completely natural color. But finally, success!! The picture on the right is what my hair looks like now: a year and a half later.
I have had several women who have complimented my hair, upon seeing its natural color. What is almost always a common thread to many of their comments is this statement: "I would stop coloring my hair and let it go natural, if it would look as pretty as your hair does! But my hair wouldn't look as good as yours does." "If I knew that my hair would be as shiny and pretty as your hair, I'd let it go natural; but I know that it won't." "I wish I would look as good with gray hair as you do, but I know that my hair would just look dingy and wouldn't look very good."
I generally don't really say much, other than thank the person for complimenting my hair, but my thought is, "You have absolutely no idea what I went through to get my hair to look like this, and how long it took! It wasn't easy, and I had no idea what the outcome would be! I had no idea when I started the process if my hair would look good or not; I didn't know if it would be worth the hassle or not; I didn't know if my dry, wiry, over-processed hair from trying to get all the old color out and bleaching it would ever be soft and manageable again. I didn't know what I'd look like with white hair, and if it would age me and make me look a lot older, or not. I had no idea just how much white/gray/silver I had, until I took the chance and decided to try it and see what it would look like."
There are some that see what my hair looks like now; after sitting through 6 hours of processing (which cost money), the extreme dryness and damage that was done to my hair that took a long time for it to recuperate from, the months of watching the reddish color and then the blond fade out, and finally my natural color be revealed; and they want what I have. But they don't want it bad enough to put themselves through that same process. They are already convinced that their hair wouldn't look good; they want instantaneous results without the work; and they want what I have, but don't think it's possible.
So why did I share all of this with you... what was my purpose?
We do that very same thing as christians! We see a minister or strong christian that we admire who are being used greatly by the Holy Spirit and we want what they have; but we don't want to go through what they did to get it. In fact, many times we don't seem to think that we should have to go through what they went through to get it, but that if we just seek God a little more and desire spiritual gifts and have a hunger for revival, then God should reward us with the same spiritual gifts that He has given to others. If that doesn't happen in the timeframe that we feel that it should, then we grow discontented and discouraged and give up. We think, "Well, God must not want me to have that gift or must not want to use me in that way or something must be hindering me from experiencing more of the glory of God."
Last week I wrote about a group from our church attending a service that David Hogan, a long-term missionary to Mexico, ministered at in Tulsa. Many look at his ministry today and think, "Wow! It would be amazing to experience the same type of things that he has! I want to be used to heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons, like him." But we don't want to give up our lifestyle and live like he and his family have for the past forty years. We don't want to fast a total of seven months every year like he does. We don't want to sacrifice our comforts and go through what this man has gone through, but we want that same power.
I was reading a bio on David Hogan that said after he decided to seek the gift of raising the dead, it took four years of him fasting and praying before he was able to raise his first dead person. Many of us would have given up long before then. We wouldn't have kept seeking and fasting and praying and asking, but would have assumed that God must not be going to use us in that way. But David was persistent about going after God, while keeping busy ministering to the people in Mexico, until God finally answered.
I've heard him tell the story about the first time he felt God tell him to raise a dead boy. A young boy died, and David was there and heard the mother mourning and weeping over her son. He felt the Holy Spirit tell him to go speak to the boy and tell him to wake up -- to raise from the dead. But he was fearful that it wouldn't happen when he spoke and he refused to obey. The little boy stayed dead and was buried. David went home and fell into a deep depression, because he knew that he had failed God. He knew that God had finally answered his prayers and had given him the ability to raise that boy from the dead, but he didn't respond and disobeyed and failed. Finally, his wife told him to either pack up and go back home to Louisiana or get back out there and do what God had called him to do; but he wasn't going to just sit around the house and feel sorry for himself anymore. He went back out there, and a very short time later, he was used to raise his first person from the dead.
Bill Johnson has probably one of the strongest churches in America and God has done miraculous things through his ministry....absolutely amazing miracles. He is known world-wide and is very revered and honored; a man of great spiritual wisdom. But he went through a long, long period of depression and not seeing God working through him. When revival did hit his church and miracles and deliverances began happening, there was a church split over half of his congregation walked out. I believe there was over 1,000 people who left in one big exodus. But Bill Johnson persevered, and it is absolutely amazing what happens in that same church on a regular basis. He travels all over the world and is greatly used by God.
We see what others have and think, "Wow! I want that! I want to pray for the sick and they miraculously recover. If there was ever a situation when someone needed raised from the dead, I want the kind of power to be able to do so. I want to be able to speak to demons and they flee, setting people who are in bondage free. I want my life to be so spiritually powerful that when I walk into a room, people know that there is something different about me and will be drawn to the Holy Spirit that is within me. I want to be like Peter, whose very shadow would be cast upon people on the street and they would be healed. I want people at Walmart or the grocery store to be drawn to the Holy Spirit that is alive and working within me, and I have an opportunity to pray with them and they get saved or healed. I want that!"
But we don't want it badly enough to really go after it. We don't want it badly enough to go through the process to get it. We don't want to have to fast and pray and give up.... anything. We want the power, but not have to work for it or wait for it.
Just like my hair. Women think their hair would never be the same color as mine and wouldn't look as nice, so they don't want to risk seeing what theirs would look like natural. Who knows?! Their hair possibly would look a whole lot better and be much prettier than mine is, should they be willing to take the chance. Women want to see what their hair would look like with its natural color, but don't want to go through the process of getting there, due to fear that it wouldn't look good. They want what I have, but don't want to put forth the effort and take the time to get there. That's not how it works.
We can go through life content with whatever spiritual nuggets we receive from time to time; or we can choose to fully go after God and His gifts and allow Him to reveal Himself to us in big ways. None of us know what God can truly do, until we choose to risk everything and go after Him. The truth is, God wants to reveal Himself to us; He wants us to experience His glory; He wants us to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons; He wants to share His secrets with us; He wants to speak to us and reveal Himself to us personally and us really get to know His heart. That's what God wants for us... but do we really want what He wants enough to risk everything and go for it? I am!!
I've prayed and prayed that God would give me patience. Eventually, I finally gave up. I got out of bed and went to the bathroom. (Okay, that is my attempt at humor, here!!)
We are each members of the Body of Christ. Some of us are eyes, some hands, some feet, and so on. I honestly don't know which part I am most of the time. Maybe I'm just a blood vessel, helping make sure the blood flows where it should. Or a tendon pulled back and forth by a muscle to make sure a toe knuckle works right on each step.
Maybe if I prayed and fasted long enough, I could become a heel instead, and become more useful. But the idea of being ground into the dirt again and again doesn't appeal to me. Or maybe I could pray to become a finger that could rub dirt in someone's eyes to cure their blindness. But then I'd probably have to touch lepers, too.
Or, I could pray that God would simply use me in the best way I can be used, whatever that might be.
Crockpot Hot Chocolate
1/2 cup cocoa
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups water
2 teaspoons vanilla
Mix all ingredients in crockpot. Set on high. Ready when hot.
A little boy was visiting his grandparents when he saw the big family Bible and opened it. He was fascinated as he fingered through the old pages. Suddenly, something fell out. He picked it up to find that it was an old leaf that had been pressed flat between the pages. "Mama, look what I found!" he called out. "What is is?" his mother asked. With astonishment in his voice, the boy answered, "I think it's Adam's underwear!"
The flesh must submit to the Spirit, not the Spirit to the flesh.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon