Friday, September 22, 2017

While You Are Hurting

 "I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.  Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live."  Psalm 116:1-2

It had been lurking in the shadows of my heart: a hurt I had incurred about a week prior. Busyness made it shy, but when the quiet came, the hurt limped back  to center stage. 
Then one night, I was in a noisy place, a place of worship. Most of the songs were unfamiliar; therefore singing while gleaning the truth made an awkward dance. 

Enter the beautiful blindsiding. 

The Spirit prompted the worship leader to break the cadence of the service with an invitation to lift up a burden. Without my permission, my hurt came to the forefront. I tried to stifle it's bruised hand reaching for the altar. It complied, but manifested itself in tears instead. No! No! I didn't want to cry in this unfamiliar place, but the woo to lay that burden down had an irresistible seduction. It was as though Jesus came to me, held my uplifted face between His hands and said, "Tell me all about it." Everything and everyone around me seemed excused from this private time with my Saviour.  I didn't say anything I hadn't said to Him before about this matter, and I knew this hurt wasn't going to heal overnight, but this time my keen awareness of His tender listening was enough. 

Sometimes listening to someone is the most Christ-like thing you can do. No rescue...just the loan of your time, attention, and ears. Though you say no words, a healing exchange transacts. A burden is cut in half, and it's weight redistributes. A lightness blows the fragrance of hope through the place once packed with heaviness. What a beautiful gift!

Know this! Jesus is an ever-present help in time of trouble. Sometimes His presence speaks and dead hopes arise. Sometimes He answers before You even ask. Other times His still, small voice says nothing, but the comfort comes in knowing He cares enough to listen while you are hurting. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Comfort in Your Waiting Place

"For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay." Habakkuk 2:3

Have you ever started out on a venture that took longer and was much harder than you anticipated? Maybe you've thought of quitting and writing it all off as a big mistake. You know you can't do that, but it feels good to talk about it for a moment, right? 

Perhaps you've been forging ahead so long you've forgotten what your initial goal was. That's OK. This happens when doing something bigger than yourself. 

You are in a prime place that I believe God finds irresistible. You are so dependent and vulnerable that if God does not step in, it's all over with anyway. You've run out of ideas, strength, and any other resource. Good! This may mean you've given your all for Him and He has to take it from here. He can and He will, My Friend. 

May I encourage you to find comfort in this place prickly with uncertainty? Lay your head on the stone of stuck and look toward Heaven. Rest your back in this corner you feel painted, pushed, and backed into and watch what happens next.  God has set the stage for His grand entrance.  (I've learned sometimes God doesn't make His appearance right away. His silence allows time for rest and contemplation.) Then, at the proper time, He steps in. It looks different for each of us, but it's always like a ray of light after a dark season; a word of hope or direction after a long silence. Before you know it, you're back on track. You're more certain, you're revived and full of purpose again. If you think back, you'll see you've been here before, the stakes just seem higher, but the Most High was still there! You didn't come this far to miss out on what's next. Each challenge is a muscle-builder against the next giant. Get rested, get realigned, and then get ready to rise to applaud the King because He IS coming! His shadow will fall on your circumstance and bring joy to your heart and glory to Himself. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

God in the Dark

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 89:1

When you're going through a trial, God's faithfulness can get fuzzy sometimes. It's not that He has fallen short; your perspective has. When stress gets thick, it can clog the artery that once flowed full and strong with remembrance of Who God is, what He has done, and what He promised.

When everything is going well, His goodness is easy to believe, but what about when life sucker-punches you and presses on the windpipe of your faith? Without a rescue, your hope can blackout.

 I have discovered that the Holy Spirit of God is the best  at invading the night spaces when anxiety has burglarized my peace. Sometimes, even before I'm fully awake, He gives my Spirit a word from His Word that turns a sharp and sudden light on the the shadows of fear that crept in. They run, and my heart decompresses. His peace rushes in like a flood.
Other times, I must go out and glean the peace I'm hungry for; but the True Vine is always my faithful Supplier. I  leave His presence full of encouragement and hope till the next feeding.

May the Lord sustain you in your time of trouble. May You find Him to be the positive to your every negative. May your heart be filled with joy by faith until the clouds clear and sight mirrors what your heart trusted would be there. Hang in there, My Friend! Your song of deliverance will make it to your lips in His perfect time.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Prayer of Faith When Life is Hard

Oh, God, I'm hurting. I know You are the Great Healer of hurts. Please heal me. Dry my tears and hold me. You've done it many times before. Do it again, Lord!

I wish for relief today. I desire an end to all that's uncertain, for the light to be turned on in those places dark with uncertainty. I know you can do it, Lord, all power is in Your mighty hand.


I also know Your ways are higher than mine, and You want me to trust You. I understand You are at work when I don't understand. Your power doesn't just work to fulfill my desire; it fulfills Your divine purpose, and I bow my heart and will to Your desire above my own.

I choose to trust Your timing, Your agenda,  Your love. As hard as my current hurt is, I submit to Your schedule for its relief. You are a Healer, no doubt, but You are also a Vinedresser, a Cultivator of character.( John 15:1) Cut, snip, prune, and take away according to Your wisdom. Only preserve my mind. Don't let me lose heart or sight of what is important since trouble tends to be a great liar when I'm hurting.

Thank You that You care enough for me to give me what I need instead of what I want. Take my hand and lead me on into the uncertainty that lies ahead. Whisper words of love and hope to me in the dark. Thank you in advance for what I will become and the heightened beauty I will see in You when we both come out on the other side.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Painful Places on Your Journey?

"My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word." Psalm 119:28

How are you these days, My Friend? Are you weary? Stressed? Anxious or uncertain? All of the above?

Sometimes our spirit droops from the hot sun of adversity, and we need a cool drink of hope, don't we? This has been my story daily for the past few weeks. Certain times of the day seem to be peak droop times. I told myself loudly enough for God to hear that I am sick to death of these daily attacks. I asked Him to give me strength to fight my bully so he will either go away with a sore butt or  just plain go away. (Sometimes I don't want to grow strong as much as I want to just be left alone.)

I have a feeling God is up to something good through this season. He always is.

What do you do in those intense moments when all your worst and most unreasonable fears gang up on you? Where do you go when your most vulnerable places are black and blue from sucker punches?

I have found two places: His Word and His people.

Each morning, God has been faithful to give me a word of reassurance. My spirit rabidly searches for it as I read. Sometimes it's a direct promise on the Bible page. Sometimes it's His presence that comes near while I'm drinking at His fountain of truth. Either way, it's wonderful. He'll do the same for you.

Sometimes a friend of His and mine will speak a word of encouragement. Some don't even realize they were His carrier.

If you are a fellow traveler in a painful season, be encouraged, My Friend. God has planted rest stops on your journey to get you through. I'd love to hear how He has shown up on your road. Maybe we can be each other's encouragers till we each make it to the glad-that's-over and let's-have-a-praise-party part of the road.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

All You'll Ever Need

"Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful." 1 Corinthians 1:27

Yeah, I know. The world keeps talking about being strong and slaying this, killing that, rocking the other. All of this high praise to be so tough, talented, and together can be intimidating, can't it? What if you're too weak or scared or insecure to be a slayer? What if you need a place to heal or to be inspired and encouraged? The world walks over people like that so we pretend "we got this" and pray nobody finds out we don't. It gets exhausting holding yourself together, doesn't it?

That's why I love being a Christian, My Friend. It's the only place I know where weakness is an asset; where not being cool and confident in yourself makes you a candidate to be used in a monumental way. Jesus welcomes the weak and infuses them with His strength. (2 Corinthians 12:9) He invites the weary one to take on His yoke that is so much lighter (Matthew11:29-30). Don't be ashamed to need that kind of mercy and grace! Jesus gets you and loves you  just the same. Knowing Him is not a disadvantage, it's the highest privilege and the surest way to live a life that's not wasted. If you follow Him, you will slay it, kill it, and rock it in His name. You can't do it on your own.

If you have it all together, my hat's off to you. But if you need a place to be vulnerable, to feel you won't be judged for being flawed, a place to expose your deepest self and still come away with dignity, look no farther than the face of the living Christ. He's more than you'll ever need!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Help for Growing Your Faith

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

As women of faith, the Word of God is as essential as air. You would agree that without it, everything is uncertain and up for debate. Thank God that guesswork need not be our work in any matter pertaining to life and godliness.

Why is it, then, that we doubt? Why do our lips profess a belief in what He says but our eyebrows furrow and our hands wring and our sleep shies away as if they did not get the memo? If our heart truly believes, why is it not flooded with peace without the bloody streams of anxiety that contaminate that clear flood?

  I had to tell the Lord I was sorry this morning. He revealed the very inconsistency I described above. It's almost as though worry has season tickets reserved in this heart of mine! I want to have so much joy in the season of not-yet that when faith becomes sight, there's hardly a noticeable shift in my demeanor. This is my prayer for myself and for you too, My Friend.

How do we work toward that? I am finding one particular exercise helpful: reading biographies of believers who trusted God and saw Him come through. These real-life stories seem to set my faith ablaze, burning off the dross of unbelief and kindling a holy jealousy to see God move in my life the same way.

The Bible is full of such stories; you can use Hebrews 11 as a reference point and look up their stories using a cross-reference tool. Autobiographies are another wonderful resource. My favorites are George Mueller, Brother Andrew, Lottie Moon, and Bruce Olson. How about you?

Here's to growing a fuller faith that goes beyond just our words and reaches your heart, hands, wee-hours, and whole demeanor. Are you with me?