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?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Where Your Eyes At, Girl?

"We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." 2 Chronicles 20:12

If ever your feet are going to travel the road God mapped for you, you must keep your eyes on Him. Put them on your circumstances and you'll get a jankety view of God. Circumstances judge all of Who God is by only what's happening in the moment. Not good.

Put your eyes on your fears and they paint high-definition, ghoulish pictures of all the bad that might happen. Fears make you want to stay where you are and never move forward or pack it all up and go back from where you came. We ain't goin' there!

Put your eyes on other people and you'll get confused because everybody's got an opinion about what you should do and why. Trouble is, they may be speaking to your life based on who they are and where they've been and sometimes on what's in it for them. Even well-intentioned loved ones can only go so far in directing you. Only God should have ultimate say because He is the only one with the original blueprint for your life.

So where are your eyes today? A good indicator is your emotional state. If you are experiencing anything other than peace, your eyes are not where they need to be. Resist the temptation to look everywhere but where the answers are. Fix your eyes on the One Who will counsel you with His eyes on you, for you are the apple of His eye. I suggest you get your eyes in His Word and on the back of your eyelids in prayer, My Friend. That's where the answers are when you don't know what to do.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Nobody Like Him!

" To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One." Isaiah 40:25

There's nobody like Him! To whom are you gonna compare Him? Anything you line up next to Him is ridiculous. He's in a class all. by. Himself.

He makes claims nobody else can, and He backs up every one of them. EVERY one! No one else can claim to never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 11:25b) and then have the omnipresence to keep that promise. (Psalm 139:7-10)

All others say "Work your way up to me, appease me."

Our wonderful God says, " You don't have what it takes to make it to Me.  How about I come to you instead? You don't have enough good in inventory to appease Me. Let me provide that too. Let me grant the very righteousness I require so we can be together."  (Romans 8:3-4) Who does that!? Our merciful God, that's Who! Nobody like Him!

Then He has the glorious nerve to provide this to everyone. No special license, background, education, pedigree, skin color, or credit check required. Whosoever will may come. ( Romans 10:13) Nobody like Him!

Then there's the love. He's more than a God Who's bigger than you, requiring whatever tribute the King of the Universe has every right to demand. He is relational, personal, compassionate, and intimately acquainted with all your ways...not a dry, mute statue to bring incense to, but a living, concerned, and conversational God. (1John 3:1; Psalm 145:8; Exodus 34:6; Psalm 138:3) Nobody like Him.

I wouldn't dare leave out the resurrection. Nobody else has the patent on that but our God. Death was a snarling, ferocious, and carnivorous beast whose dungeon was the grave. Our Mighty God defeated that beast and turned that very dark dungeon into a doorway to Heaven.

Can anyone be silent about such a God as He? Let the idols of the earth be satisfied with incense and fearful appeasement. A God as mighty and unique as ours deserves so much better. Reserve your worship, best love, and service for Him precisely because there is nobody like Him. (Romans 12:1)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

When You Feel Like Quitting

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. "Galatians 6:9


You know quitting is not cool, but when you're discouraged you don't care, do you? You start to wonder what in the world you were thinking when you started all of this. You try to convince yourself that you're ok with throwing away all the hard work you've done so far, but deep down you know you're not.

I've been there.

Halfway through the classes to get my degree, I hit a wall. This was all harder than I thought it would be, and my enthusiasm ran out of gas. I had applied for a scholarship and didn't get it, which meant I would have to keep working that part-time job after my full-time one. I was exhausted and wanted to quit, and I did.

 My I'm-throwing-in-the-towel announcement met with strong opposition. That's when I realized people had been watching me and  were secretly cheering me on and counting on me to finish. I was surprised that what I was doing mattered to them. Those were humbling moments. This wasn't just about me.  If I finished, it meant they could too. I called and got my old job back and got back on course. I wanted to be a source of encouragement to the onlookers in my life, not a quitter.

God used that experience to teach me that
my actions have nerve endings connected to the tender places in other people. This is true for you too. Working to bless others gets better mileage than just doing it for yourself.

Who's counting on you not to give up? Think of them and be encouraged. Let their faith in you recharge you to keep going when you feel like giving up. Persevere, My Friend. Your journey matters more than you think!