With His disciples, He left the crowd behind, and traveled by boat to a new place on the far side of the lake. A furious storm suddenly raged. Waves crashed over the boat, and they nearly drowned.
Meanwhile, Jesus slept on a cushion in the stern.
If you think about what he had been doing before this little boat ride, his deep sleep makes perfect sense. At least from my introverted (and sometimes-exhausted Mom) perspective. He had been teaching crowds of people, eating meals with people, and traveling about talking with them and healing them.
Mark 4 tells us the disciples took Jesus along in the boat, “just as He was.” And what He was, was completely exhausted. Fully human…
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“Mama, the monsters are coming at me,” my son said.
He stood by the bed with his face inches from mine, hands animated. My mid-REM cycle brain lingered between sleep and reality.
“What?” I asked. I saw that my son was disturbed by something. After realizing I was going to have to get out of bed, I stumbled to his room. I gave the bunk a full examination before telling him to get back in.
Five minutes later, he reappeared. The monsters were still there.
For some reason, the miracle of a flashlight never occurred to me. Thank God for my husband who came to the rescue with not just a flashlight, but a headlamp. Under the pillow it went.
Sweet, uninterrupted sleep followed. The next morning, I realized this tool I took for granted revealed the truth: the “monsters” were in fact shadows. There were no creepy things waiting to grab him in the night. He was safe.
It’s amazing what a little light can do.
Even in the darkest place, a flicker of it can go a long way.
Recently, I needed some light of my own. But for months, I didn’t tell anyone. I went through a dark season where I listened to one lie after another. Lies telling me I wasn’t enough. Lies telling me I should do better as a mother, wife, writer and friend. Lies telling me I wasn’t going to make it.
I thought, “If I can just make it through today, things will get better.”
Good days came and went and when the darkness hit again, I thought, “I’m just having a bad day.”
Somehow, bringing my struggle out into the open seemed threatening. I convinced myself if I could carry it a little longer, it would go away. I thought telling someone would make it my reality.
But in truth, it already was.
One day I sat in church operating the media projector while the worship band played Healing Is Here by The Deluge. My eyes were wet with tears as I mouthed the words.
Sickness can’t stay any longer
Your perfect love is casting out fear
You are the God of all power
And it is your will that my life is healed
Did I believe that? Did I believe God wanted me to be whole, complete, and fully secure in his love?
As I sat there asking myself this question, a miracle took place. The pastor called a sister forward to pray over the offering, but the Spirit had something else for us that day. A rescue. A release.
“There’s someone here who’s suffering from depression,” she stated without hesitation. She said God wanted that person to know his healing power was for her.
The tears ran freely down my cheeks. But still, my butt remained glue to my seat. In the next half hour, our church literally became what Jesus referred to in Matthew as “A House of Prayer.” Service stopped. The sermon was postponed.
This woman’s husband stood up and extended a second invitation, and I knew I had to go forward. And as a stood there at the front of the sanctuary with my head bowed, her hand reached through the crowd and grabbed mine.
Music played in the background while this sister prayed over me, naming lie after lie that I’d listened to for months. It was a God-ordained moment.
And what I realized was this: Even when no one else saw my pain, God did.
“…for your Father knows what you need before you even ask him.” Matthew 6:8b NIV
I finally understood that hiding our struggles does not diminish their power. It increases it.
But when I gave my problem a name, I was able to take the first step toward healing. I said, “I’m not going to let this rule me anymore.”
When we bring our darkness into his Light, he shows us truth.
Like my son with his headlamp, we can see the shadows aren’t able to defeat us. Though they lurk, they can never stand a chance against his perfect love.
Friend, no matter what you’re going through today, know this: God sees. Bring your fears, your problems and your sickness into his Light today. Tell someone you trust. Take a step forward.
His healing power begins when we reach for his hand.
Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.
I took a walk the other day. God blessed me with a walk was on the beach (yippee!!!). I inhaled; it was peace. I listened to the pounding of waves, the strength of his wind and the might of his strong-hitting waves. All was good.
I passed a woman. She sat in a camping chair pressed against the rolling waves, bible in her lap, head down with a bandana around it. As I saw her, something in me called to reach out to something in her. I almost felt as if there was something God wanted to say to her, but I hadn’t the faintest idea what, so I kept walking.
It wasn’t until about 100 feet away that something struck me. I suppose it was the word – “faithfulness.” I looked down at my little footmarks in the sand, leading forward. I decided they needed to do “a turnaround.” They needed to loop back. They needed to address something.
But what God? What am I supposed to say?
His nudge was: pray.
Feeling all happy that God has great ideas, I went over and asked my sister in Christ if she needed prayer. Her feeble head lifted up slowly from her phone and she said, “Yes, my husband is in the hospital with a heart condition and I need strength.”
Indeed. Of course she does. Of course God knew. He always does. He also knew this prayer time, as she stated, would be “just what she needed,” a “confirmation from God.”
I’ve been realizing the turnaround is powerful. Because for once, I’ve been doing it…
I made some ongoing rash judgments about people.
Turnaround: After much stomping of my feet, I apologized.
I was quick to respond when tiredness, hunger and overwhelming feelings conquered me. I normally brush my reactions aside.
Turnaround: I’ve been seeing truth for truth. These days, I’ve been humbling myself and saying sorry.
I forgot friends. I don’t want to get caught up in my world, but I do.
Turnaround: I’ve asked God to help face them (despite my shame).
To turnaround is to see God again. It’s to face him outside of the realm of shame, and let him welcome you to healing, whether it belongs to you or someone else.
Where do you need to turn around? Where are your foot marks in the sand headed? Your way? Or home, into God’s arms?
He never hurts children who’ve done bad. He welcomes you in. He’ll lead you to his better thing. He’ll nudge you with the words to speak. He’ll uncover the greatness of freedom in the error of your ways.
“Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.” (Joel 2:13)
Right before a recent move, someone told me, “I hate __ city. I hate everything about it. It is busy. It has mean people. It is a bad environment for living.” I had to pray for God to remove that from my mind so I wouldn’t allow their declaration to become my reality.
Another person essentially told me, “Kelly, you’re not a good enough writer.” I also had to erase that from my memory, so I could do what God wanted me to do without letting their words take life and speak over me day in and day out. But even now, I remember them.
Someone else told me, “All boys with the name __, act a certain way. You never want to name your kid that or they’ll be …” Again, I had to recognize this was something I could be prone to believe. I had to seek God’s truth and his ways, rather than to let those words take root in me.
What have people spoken over you lately? What have you permitted to become a part of you? What words might not be from God?
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
What ruler, authority or dark agency has spoken within you? Does it sound like love? Or does it sound like…
An Authority Saying, You’re Ruined: There is no time. There are no people behind you. You will fail. You don’t have enough __. You are always without ___. God is far.
An Agency Stating, Take Care of Yourself, Only: There is not enough to go around. Protect yourself first. Give later. The world has limited resources. Take first, give later.
A Hard-Driving Ruler demanding,Perform! Perform! Perform! Work, strive and push yourself harder: Imperfection is not allowable. It’s an all or nothing lifestyle. It’s black or white thinking. It’s thrive or die. People are liabilities and injuries just waiting to happen. If they don’t help you, hurt them. That’s what you say.
An Authority proclaiming, You’re Incapable: You’ve always done bad in life. Why change now? You know you are unlikable, but there is no use trying to be different. Your past has marked you. The world, the hurters, owe you. You’re a victim. You don’t really have what it takes, anyway.
God is not a Father who enslaves you to a chamber of fear.
He is a daddy who loves you. He gives us… A Daughter mentality: He loves me, oh, he loves me. Every day, he loves me.
His voice sounds like this:
I choose her. I want her to feel my love. I want her to dwell in it and to feel the fullness of my presence around her. I want her to know I am both behind her, in her and working out through her. I rejoice over her with singing, I write her name on my hand, I prepare a room for her, I have good works ready for her to walk in, and I want to give her all my riches. I want to pour out my glorious inheritance (shout out to Jesus Christ) all over her. I want her to walk knowing she has the biggest, baddest and strongest security behind her at all moments. I want her to see she can do anything through me. I want her to know her faith can part seas and make her walk to lands unimaginable. I want her to hear my words of truth before she relies on her perceptions, because then she’ll know my love.
I want her to know I’m always cheering for her, leading her, loving her and ready to help her.
When my mom was sick a couple of years ago a palliative care doctor was assigned to her case.
Palliative care is the multidisciplinary approach to specialized medical care for people with life-limiting illnesses, focussing on providing relief from pain and physical and mental stress of the terminally ill patient and their family.
But Dr. Robinson was more than that.
Though she was first trained in neurology it was obvious her heartbeat was in palliative care. I could tell early on she was gifted from God for this vocation because she gained my sister’s trust which is nearly impossible to do.
Dr Robinson naturally doled out comfort, concern and love in the most difficult of situations. She was warm and caring like the favorite blanket you want to wrap up in on a cold, raw day. And raw was a good description for the way my sister and I felt in the days leading up to Mom’s death.
Dr. R. took time to know each of us. We exchanged business cards. She even said she would read my blog and to my surprise she actually did.
After my mom’s death I wrote a post on advanced directives, I re-titled: Love to Perfection, Leave Direction. You see, a lot of our emotional trauma in those last days came from the fact we didn’t know what my mom wanted and she could’t tell us. She had always talked about a living will but neither my sister nor I could remember her writing it up or where it would have been placed if she had. After reading my post Dr. Robinson asked if she could share my blog with her colleagues to help them understand what families go through. I, of course, said yes. Goodness, what blogger wouldn’t want a few more clicks on their site?
A couple of weeks ago my phone rang. I let it go to voicemail when I didn’t recognized the number. When I listened to the message I heard the kind, soft-spoken voice of Dr Robinson. I was touched. I returned her call and we chatted. She asked how I was and about each of my siblings. Then she told me something that floored me.
As the need for palliative care has taken root, over the last year and a half Dr R. has traveled literally around the world (even Russia) delivering lectures and instructing doctors on the intricacies of her vocation. But that’s not what gave me goosebumps, after all that’s her heart. But what she said next, did.
She told me she had been taking the words from my post and using them in her seminars around the globe.
In a world where quotas matter, to-do lists keep us running and one more click to your website is paramount, her words spoke like a prophetic message straight from God.
Numbers don’t count, only people do.
So why do you do what you do? To be liked? To stay competitive? To get it done? Get ahead? Or for the sheer joy of being in your gifting and bringing glory to God however He sees fit?
And what do I want? More numbers to my website or more hearts equipped and trained to love those in need?
I have no doubt God orchestrated my meeting of Dr Robinson in December of 2015. That’s the kind of God we serve. While I was thinking about possibly raising numbers God was thinking about possibly touching hearts.
Perhaps we get too caught up in what people expect from us rather than what God wants to do through us.
Work out our purpose.
Because it is in living out our purpose we find true joy. And I’ll have to say, on this day, I found it.
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About Christy Mobley
Christy is an award winning writer, national speaker, wife, mother, mother-in-law, and first time grandma! She is passionate about helping women see God working for their good in the midst of their circumstances.
When Christy isn’t with family, speaking or writing, you can find her on the tennis court chasing a fuzzy yellow ball. You can connect with Christy on her blog, Joying in the Journey, Facebook, and Twitter
Yesterday, I went to the local cafe to write. I sit in the back where all the employees congregate, gossip and chit-chat. I usually try to keep my head down, but this time my eyes got the better of me. I couldn’t help but watch and listen.
A man marched through the front door. Chest up, he huffed and puffed all the way to to the back full of disdain at what he saw laying around him. Immediately grabbing a napkin and wiping a chair, he proceeded to attack the mess. He also decided to speak out from under his breath, saying, “This place is a mess.” He wanted his co-workers to hear. They did. Loud and clear.
Each belabored move to tackle crumbs, tables and spills, was all a message telling them, “You aren’t on it, but I am.”
A minute later, he pointed out two chairs and said, “Are those chairs supposed to be like that?”
He knew full well they weren’t. Then, he strutted over and fixed them. The two women employees next to me raised their eyebrows and gave each other the look, which I took to mean, “He’s up to it again…”
With their look, something pierced and shifted in me. Something called me to look within myself. Why? Because I knew his ludicrous behavior was also my ludicrous behavior. I am often, “up to it again.”
I speak a word under my breath, “Ugh…this place is such a mess.”
I send a silent message to my child, “Can’t anyone throw out these used paper towels on the counters?”
I leave a complaining spirit around my house, “He didn’t put his shoes away. Now, I have to do it.”
I am “up to it again” often.
I never knew how this practice appears. How it comes off. The arrogance of it. The looks it produces in people. The retaliation it produces. The spectacle of it all.
It makes me consider how I could approach things differently.
You know, the man could have come in and:
Chosen to connect with hearts by first caring for those around him.
Been straightforward with his request for help in cleaning up, saying, “Hey, would you all mind helping me clean up?”
Connected with others during the process.
Given thanks to them for helping him out.
I can do this too.
It was interesting as I watched this situation transpire. The women retaliated and called the man out on his “junk.” They said, “Hey Jim, are these your bags of chips out here on the counter?”
They were. Embarrassed, Jim walked back to pick them up.
None of us are perfect. Usually, what we huff and puff about are things we are equally guilty of.
Why not give everyone a break? Ourselves included.
Why not be honest? In need? Straightforward?
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Eph. 4:24
When the box arrived, he immediately tore it open, throwing pieces of tape behind him. It was the gift he’d saved up for after setting up summer lemonade stands, selling books online and doing odd chores around the house. I couldn’t be happier for him. Joy oozed out of him.
He pulled the metal detector out and held it high, seemingly admiring the little switches, dials and sounds it made. Now he could search for hidden treasure in the lawn. And that’s just what he did. He searched. Like a lawnmower, he went back and forth in precise lines…making sure not to miss a blade of grass. He worked so hard.
But he wasn’t finding anything. Nothing.
My heart sank.
He pressed on. He wasn’t going to give up. He even pointed to the other large lawn across the street and asked if we could go there. I motioned for him to finish up on this strip, before moving on to the next. Head down, he kept working at it. Nothing.
Wanting good things for him so badly and to reward his work, I had an idea. I snuck my hand into my purse, opened my wallet, grabbed a quarter and threw it onto the grass.
My son, pursued finding “treasure” with such heart, diligence and perseverance…I couldn’t help but secretly reward him.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Mt 7:7-8)
I can’t help but think, just as I couldn’t help but reward my searching son, God rewards our search too.
We keep asking…we get.
We keep seeking…we find.
We keep knowing…the door is opened to us.
God secretly drops a blessing right along our path, because he loves us. He sees us doing our part by faith, and he rewards us. It is not because we deserve it or because we earned it, but simply because he is good. He is a good daddy.
He sees our persistence. He sees our pursuit. He sees our dreams. He sees our hopes. He sees our desires. He sees our life. He sees our joys. He sees our pain. He sees how we drop down at his feet or ask him for help again and again and he doesn’t push us off or tell us we whine too much. Instead, he notices how we seek him as if he is our greatest treasure. Then, undeservingly, we dig up something amazing. Something that is just what we wanted. He does it in just the right way.
Because he knows us, we are his daughters. He is a good daddy.
My confession to you is this: I’ve gone lax on spending time with God. Things are busy. Family needs are high. People need stuff. Kids have just a little time left before they go back to school. We are looking for a new home. We are having issues with our current new home. We are in a new place with new stuff to figure out. There’s too much to do. (Insert my thousand other excuses here).
Life needs tackling, so I’ve done just that: tackled life alone….
…blazing ahead according to my thoughts, telling others what they need to do, fretting details, wondering why God hasn’t given me better answers, waiting poorly, pushing around like a bull in a China shop…
…until this morning, when I finally settled and heard God’s voice. It essentially said, “Kelly, the quiet place is your victory place. Here, you learn what you desperately need to know. Here, protection and covering push out sin and shame. Clarity trumps confusion, hope beats impatience and love rules over isolation. I put things in your heart in this place.”
Yes, God!!! I want that!
I couldn’t help but think God was right.
My victory is always found in the quiet. It is found in searching out God, in reading his Word, in praying, in seeking, in noticing, in abiding, in trusting, in faith, in praise, in thanksgiving, in expectant hoping, in longing, in asking.
God is right. This is my victory. And it is not one God casually calls me to. It is one that is critically important for me to respond to.
God gives us all a standing invitation to come into fellowship and communion with him, everyday, every moment. Do we respond? Or, like me, do we turn to other pressing issues, people, problems and life happenings?
Today, hear this word like an alarm: Responding to God is serious business.
Failed fellowship means we could:
– miss a word that could change our whole outlook on our horrible and frustrating ever-present situation.
– be unable to find God’s compassionate heart for that person we are so angry at.
– forego insight into that outstanding question we just can’t figure out.
– divert God’s love and walk in anxiety, worry and anger day after day.
– see no life change when God has huge transformation waiting for us.
– walk in the flesh, rather than the renewal Jesus prepared for us.
– miss the leadings of the Holy Spirit that will help us love, care and minister to our family in powerful ways.
– stay in a rut
Our “I’m busy, I’ll meet with God later” and “He can wait” moments don’t steal from God. They steal from us the very best God wants to give. We miss his gems. The transformation He’s prepared for us to dig up.
Obedience is quiet patience, securing us in God’s providence. Why would we ever want to miss that?
7 Tips to Powerful Fellowship Time with God:
Pray the Psalms over yourself.
Replace your fretting time with fellowship time.
Create open space, free of future demands, to be, hear and unite with him.
Wait on the goodness of God’s word. Don’t move fast.
Seek God, and expectantly trust that he will answer.
Take time to notice the beauty of God around you.
Let him be the first one in your thoughts in the morning.
My biggest fear came true, the exact one I couldn’t stop mulling over as I lay on my shaking, rattling bed. My 6-year-old was on the top bunk of an Amtrak train bed.
Would it hold him? Would he roll over?
At home, my son was protected. He knew his surroundings. He had comfort. His fall wasn’t 6 feet down. But here, in this new situation? In a bed half his size? One really couldn’t tell what might happen…
I got word in the morning. Husband told me he fell off the bed. My heart stopped. My eyes stared. I looked the kid up and down for train wounds. Nothing.
Husband explained, the safety straps next to the bed (the ones I completely took for granted), caught him. They wrapped him as he fell, like a cocoon, keeping him in a deep well of safety. So dear son was just chilling there, swinging and safe. Unaware of how protected he was…how he’d just been saved. He wasn’t even aware it happened. Dad pulled him back onto his bed without waking him.
How often does our Dad “save” us without us realizing? Pull us onto our bed of safety without us noticing? Wrap us in a cocoon of protection so harm can’t touch us?
Many of us, myself included, never give thought to the family wars, the bitter arguments, the looming bills, the accidents, the woops moments, the injuries he saves us from.
We see the things that hit us, and blame God, but we never consider how he saves us, and thank God.
He’s probably protected you a bazillion times, because God is mighty to save.
“He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber.” (Ps. 121:3)
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.” (Zeph. 3:17)
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Is. 41:10)
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:8)
Long ago, our kids asked for a dog. A puppy is a lot of work, I said. So we gave them fish. But nobody can cuddle a fish, and next we appeased them with a guinea pig. That’s a long, smelly story for another day.
Soon we were back on the puppy train. The dachshund train, because I grew up with this sweet breed. I don’t know if you’ve encountered many dachshund owners, but there are no other dogs in the world, once you’ve loved a doxxie. My husband simply humors me.
The day came to choose a dog, and we picked Blaze. If we had known about his issues—how he would chew through shoes, bag straps, blue jeans, and even mess with the legs of our kitchen table—we might have named him Marley. 🙂 But we only knew his sweet baby eyes, that tiny whimper, and the way he snuggled into our necks and stopped crying when we sang to him.
Eight months later, the little guy’s quirks and offenses are clear, but so is the laughter he inspires.
Blaze lays at my feet nearly every day when I’m making dinner. He sits down and places one little paw over my foot. As I move about the kitchen, he follows me. While I know he wants to be near the food I drop, he also wants to be close to me.
No matter what I’m doing or where, if his eyes are open—they’re usually on me. He wants to be near me, all the time, no matter what.
It’s had me thinking about the way I long to be near God, and the times I’ve been too busy to be with Him.
God loved the world so much, that He sent Jesus to pay for our sins—not to condemn us, but to save us.
When we believe in Him, we are given the privilege–the blessing–of being in His presence.
We are able to talk with God and listen to Him. To come to Him for all the help we need. To go to Him boldly and with confidence as His beloveds, without any fear.
Jesus came near to us, so that we might move toward God.
And when we come to Him, we find incredible joy, blessing, and goodness. He fills us, He satisfies us, until we echo the psalmist’s words, His nearness is my good. There are many benefits of drawing close to God, but these can only be understood by experiencing Him. When we draw near to God, we experience His love, and we want more.
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22, NIV
Have you moved toward God with a true heart and full assurance of faith? If not, will you call on the Lord in a prayer of belief today? Will you seek out someone who knows the Lord, to show you the way?
Those who believe—think about your heart. Are you drawing near with a true heart? Let us lay at His feet, longing for more than the food He drops, longing to be close to Him.
Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.