This time of year is full of angst. At least it is for me. It is mostly this feeling that I need to do something bigger, better and bolder than last year, but the problem is – I have this sinking feeling – I won’t.
Add this to the swirling questions:
What if something catastrophic happens in 2017?
My children get hurt?
I find out I have cancer?
My husband and I lose our great relationship?
What if I accomplish nothing of importance?
I let God down?
Terrorism hits close?
This list goes on and on and the fears grow bigger and bigger the more I recite them. Before I know it, the bump on my face will surely become cancer and heartburn is, no doubt, a heart murmur.
Me + Fear = An atomic combination
It blows up my life, because I walk around with the destructive air of anxiety. This bad air, then makes others glow with frustration at my bad attitude.
Fear clouds my view of God. While once I could see and admire him, front-and-center – my constant trepidation quickly makes me lose heartfelt dedication… Worry covers wonder, action plans cover the idea – God-has-the-best plan, and prayer gets lost under despair.
Sometimes this is the best first step, I think. Any separation from the trepidation falling on you, is always good. If you give God an inch, He can work with that.
And, as I do, as I step back from the angst of 2017 in full motion, 3 calming words and 3 consoling verses come to mind:
Know:“Be still, and know that I am God…” (Ps. 46:10)
Grow:But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Mt. 6:33)
Go: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. 46:10)
These 3 words help me see, I’ve complicated things. I’ve worried about the future, yet, God is in the present. Have you missed God too?
Perhaps, we don’t need to know the future, but we simply need to know that God is God. Perhaps, we don’t have to fear growth, progress or accomplishments, but simply seek first his righteousness, knowing we’ll grow as he adds everything to us Perhaps, we don’t need to get paralyzed by what ifs and hypotheses, but simply Go! in God’s strength and protection.
We move as he moves and trust him; he is trustable.
This idea awakens my heart, because when we fear, it is hard to be in God’s plan. Yet, when we know God is near, we lose fear.
This 2017, these 3 words will be my Fear Fight. A rather unconventional fight – one where I remember Jesus has already fought the fight – and won. In this, I’ll stand in his victory. Will you?
Interested in joining the Fear Fight?Want to leave behind your tremblings to walk into unbelievable calling? Order my book,Fear Fighting, today!
I cuddled with coffee (which is no doubt one of my favorite things to do). It warms me better than mittens on a cold day, which it was. I was sitting on my outside bench and enjoying the frosty morning. Not expecting to see what I was about to see…
Because, after you’ve sat on your porch day in and day out, things start to look, well…monotonous. Been there…seen that – the tree placed on the side of the yard, the bird house a little off to the side and the neighbors car – almost out of line’s site.
I know what’s out there – I can see everything.
My kids? I know their story and what their day will entail. My husband? I know him well, if not, too well. The blog? I know what I do each day. My problems? I can see them ruining me.
I know things – and maybe, this is precisely my problem.
What if by knowing everything, by relying on what I see, I am missing the chance to believe in what I can’t?
What if by seeing things as they are, I am not seeing by faith?
What if, by slightly changing perspective, I could change everything?
If, by believing in what I do not see,…
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Heb 11:1)
I might receive what is best for me…
…so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. (Gal. 3:22)
Why don’t I full rely on God’s eyes to see…
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Eph. 1:18-19)
Maybe my life feels dull and ordinary because I’ve relied far too much on my own vision. God wants me to push pasty my might so I adopt his sight of that frees the captive, that brings beauty out of ashes and that overpowers the forces of darkness. I think I’ve missed out. And, what hits me is – when I seek to see like God sees, I experience a new way to be.
What appears like a shut door,
is really God’s way of sending me off in His new way.
What looks like a kid with a bad attitude is
really an opportunity to bring the gospel to her heart.
What lives like a long waiting period is really time
for me to prepare my heart for what God might want to do.
What comes at me like an in-your-face rejection,
is really a reminder God gives better gifts.
What appears to be time-lost is the chance to see God reclaim, miraculously, what was lost.
If we don’t believe, how will we ever see – God’s greatest works?
For the one who believes God can do all things, for them, they get to see these things – and greater things.
When did I become such a jaded Christian? I am sorry God. Heal my unbelief. Restructure my faith. Pour out grace. Enliven me in belief with no bounds. I don’t want partial faith in your goodness, but an all out allegiance to your way, your truth and your life. Amen.
And, as I sit there on that bench, surrounded by commonplace things on a commonplace day, I see something far less common. I see, beyond a stone’s throw, a leaf – one I had never seen before in my life. It was oddly shaped, as if it should be in some exotic locale. It is beautiful, awe-inspiring and special. It teaches me – when we get expectant to see, God puts his beauty before us.
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My dad and his older brother have a favorite tale they expose about their youth. Their younger brother was a studious boy. He would finish his homework and then go to bed before the sun went down, in an effort to be well rested for school the next day. After he’d been sound asleep for about an hour, my dad and his brother would wake their younger brother for school. The poor boy would get up, dress, and scramble upstairs for breakfast. Their mother would be the first to alert the poor dupe of the prank.
Recently, alone in a hotel, I was so duped. I fell asleep at 8:45 in the evening. We have seven children, and I had been hectic away from home at speaking engagements. I was exhausted. When I woke I barely recognized my surroundings. I got up, made a pot of coffee, pulled on my cozy robe and opened the light blocking drapes. I was pleased to see the sun wasn’t up yet. As I opened my computer, I smiled to myself; I would have an entire day to work alone in the hotel and I was eager to get started.
That is when I saw the time.
It was only 12:15 am. I had been asleep less than four hours.
Granted four hours of uninterrupted sleep at home is nothing short of a miracle. Between the teens texting to ask me if I am awake, the toddlers requiring comfort after a nightmare, and the baby demanding a bottle – I rarely get unremitting sleep.
I turned off the coffee pot, closed the drapes, and climbed back into the crispy, hotel grade, Egyptian cotton sheets.
It was both a relief… and a burden.
I lie there giggling to myself. And then, I worried about my husband, home alone with our brood. He was probably exhausted too. I felt dejected I wasn’t there to help him.
Unable to fall back to sleep, I got up and worked until 5, fell asleep on my keyboard and was startled awake at 7:20 when the neighbor in the adjoining room started his shower.
I felt all the pangs of a protracted night and my keyboard was firmly imprinted on my left cheek.
I drug my weary body to the shower and stretched the kinks out of my neck and back. Steam chased me from the bathroom and I poured a cup of stale coffee into a sorry little Styrofoam cup and added powdered cream. I stared out of the window at the foreign town, straining to spy a Starbucks on the horizon.
As bitter java assaulted my tongue, I bemoaned the day before me.
The sun poured out the freshness of a new morning, yet I felt less than fresh. Scripture floated into my mind, “Come to me all you who are weary, I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Yet, in spite of the rest, He offers me, I sleep on my keyboard and then bathe in culpability when I put my feet up to take a break.
I associate rest with something shameful rather than a blessing.
Curious, the Maker of Heaven and Earth produced this body for survival in an unconscious state. Eyes closed, breath steady, mind in a playground of non-sense, unprovoked folly, escapism, and suppressed considerations. Occasionally, darkness creeps in and a chase ensues or great terrors play out, still, He fashioned me for slumber.
Society demands I work harder, invest more and rest less. He waits for me. The blessing of rest in His gentle hand, and instead of wrapping up in His majestic creation of slumber, mind, and body – I analyze, supervise, and contrive.
I am weary. And I am most weary of the weariness. Self-induced standards of being most effective, crowning production, and the bragging rites of minimal repose.
If He were here now, if I stood before my Lord and He presented me with a lovely package; a medium sized box wrapped in shiny paper, an enormous bow, glitter, and streamers, would I decline the offering?
Would I boastfully retort, “I don’t need that from you.”
Oh, my stars! The mere thought slays me. Yet, I refuse Him… often.
But not today. Today, I closed the heavy swathes of my room. With lotioned flesh and a soaking wet head, I slipped back into the pajamas I had tossed aside before my shower. I hung the “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on the outside doorknob. A mischievous smile crept across my face. I poured another cup of coffee and snickered when I uncovered two tiny cups of liquid creamer underneath the packets of dehydrated Coffee-mate powder. How had I missed those?
A gift of rest. I might write. I might watch the I Love Lucy marathon on channel 18. I might nap. A package of crackers and bottled water sit on my nightstand. Today, I accept the gift of rest. This is a rare occasion, still, I wonder, how many days I neglected the gift? A load of laundry dominates the opportunity to cuddle on the couch with my babies. Running to the grocery store in lieu of a lunch date with my husband, or staying up another hour to catch up on that which will never actually ever be fully settled.
Coffee with a friend; bubble baths or just a moment alone on the closet floor begging His help maneuvering homework and dinner – so that I might sleep just an hour before the baby wakes.
A good Father, Creator of the gift of rest. And more than this rare occasion where I celebrate loneliness, I know I will need the rest He offers in times of worry, heartache, and grief. What will I say then? Lord, I pray I remember you stand in wait with the majesty of rest. Rest only you can bring me.
Thank you for that, my Lord. Thank you.
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Jami Amerine is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her onFacebook or Twitter.
I got to the end of the day, pulled into the driveway, stared out the front windshield and laid down a verdict, “I didn’t succeed at loving. My morning goals – looked like a blown-out tire by afternoon.
Sure, I began the day with aspirations a mile long – I’d do great things with God, we’d pour out love on people, we would encourage the world with the love of Jesus. But then, life happened. Ugh. I felt much more like a woman on a treadmill – working up a sweat and getting nowhere – than a woman on a mission of grand importance.
I exhaled. Scrunched down in my seat. Clenched the steering wheel.
I stink. God, I am sorry that I didn’t win for you today. I am sorry that I let you down. My heart is to go all out for you, but I lost.
Have you sat like me –
wanting to make progress only to end up discouraged?
I recently signed up for Michael Hyatt’s Free To Focus Productivity Summit. Reason being? I have a minuscule amount of time to complete a massive amount of ministry. I need help.
Learning a ton, Michael said something that struck me; it clicked: Not keeping up, makes you feel like you are losing. Feeling like your losing diminishes productive confidence.
My confidence ride likes waves. I go high when I am confident, but when the waves crash – so do I. I eat it.
With this, I wonder, shouldn’t my confidence look more steady, more consistent?
More like Jesus?
More grace-filled, less about getting ahead?
More locked and loaded on eternity, less concerned with check-marks?
More set on God’s big mission, less engrossed with endless busyness?
How does God see confidence?
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Heb. 4:16
I might say,“Do more”, but God says, “Be more with me. Come more – to me.”
What if I no longerlived like a temperature gauge –
hot and on fire with passion one day, cold in defeat the next?
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;
no one will snatch them out of my hand. Jo. 10:28
Godly confidence is knowing that God will never let you go.
It is less in what we do,
or how we see things, and more in who He is – and what he does.
He has our future. Confidence!
He knows our way. Confidence!
He will be faithful. Confidence!
We can fly arms wide open into his will. Confidence!
We can fall and he will still make my fly. Confidence!
We can not know the way – but he will. Confidence!
Confidence in Jesus, can’t be stolen, revoked or denied. It is a solid rock; it does not waver.
On what ground does your confidence stand confidence?
Achievement? People pleasing? Perfection? Performance? Busyness? Perhaps it is time to exchanges confidence that crashes like waves for rock-solid confidence that can’t be stolen.
4 Foundational Truths that Breed Confidence
There is no effective building of anything unless the Lord truly resides over everything. Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. Ps. 127:1
God’s work is less about what you do and more about what He’s already decided to do. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:6
You don’t need to fear, God protects you from the snares. For the LORD will be your confidence And will keep your foot from being caught. Prov. 3:26
You don’t have to know where you are going, just that God is going there with you. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Heb. 11:1
The real power of confidence transcends our natural eye. When we pull our strength from the supernatural, something amazing happens – we often do the supernatural. Suddenly, focus is exactly what we have and progress is exactly what we get. It never comes by our strength – but always comes by His. This removes the pressure. It is a heavenly movement on our behalf, not a heart-attack ridden movement by our striving.
This kind of confidence? It makes all the difference.
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Occasionally, you know you met someone with a heart of gold – this is how I feel about Gwen Smith. Her all-in pursuit of Jesus, her authentic spirit and her ability to instantly connect, as both a teacher and a girlfriend, is a gift that is so unique to her. I have gotten a chance to deep dive into her new book, “I Want It All” and her words have helped me grab hold of the fullness of God’s extraordinary that he has uniquely carved out for me. Thanks Gwen.
I am delighted to welcome Gwen Smith to Purposeful Faith. I hope you will too.
The book of Esther shows us what our lives can look like when we trust in the sovereignty of God and expect Him to be powerful in the midst of desperate circumstances that could cause us to cower in fear. God positioned this young Hebrew girl to be queen of Persia so that she could rise up in His strength and courage when her people, the Jews, faced imminent death. She fasted and humbled herself before the Lord through prayer. And though it was risky to the point of death, she went to the king and courageously spoke up on behalf of the Jews. The result? God used Esther to save her people from genocide.
I want to be brave like that. I want to live with so much God courage that I don’t go soft when life gets hard. So I take note of what Esther did. She didn’t cave in to fear; instead, she fixed her focus on God and His power to save her and His people. She fasted and prayed and asked for Him to intervene.
Like Queen Esther, we can live with great expectations of God because He loves to do amazing things through average people— people with worries and warts and weaknesses, like you and me. If we want it all, we need to be women who stand firm when our emotions threaten to overwhelm us and courageously believe God for big things.
So… how CAN we stand firm in faith like Esther
did when our knees knock?
The first step to standing firm in faith is to know Him.
Generally speaking, I don’t trust someone I don’t know. Plain and simple. I’m guessing you don’t either.
God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah about the importance of our knowing Him:
Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he under- stands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jer. 9:23–24 ESV)
The apostle Peter also wrote about the importance of knowing God. At the beginning of his first letter, he stated that the grace, peace, and power we need are connected to our knowledge of Christ:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Pet. 1:2–3)
How can you know God? Read your Bible, study His character, and remember the ways He has delivered in the past. Such things are Faith 101. When you are overwhelmed by life, don’t shy away from God. Don’t isolate: investigate. Look to Him. Explore His goodness.
I learned recently about the familiar “trust God” verses in Proverbs 3. You know them. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (vv. 5–6 ESV).
The second part never made sense to me. I wondered, Why would my acknowledging God motivate Him to make my paths straight? In the New Testament, even the demons acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God, so why would my acknowledging Him make my paths straight?
I looked up the root word and found a gold mine. The Hebrew word for “acknowledge” is yada’,1 the primitive root of which means “to know.” It means “to understand, to grasp or ascertain; especially to be familiar or acquainted with.” So, “in all of your ways acknowledge him” really means this: in all of your ways yada’ Him; in all of your ways know Him and seek to understand Him; be familiar with Him; be acquainted with Him, and He will make your paths straight.
The key to a straight path, the key to trusting God when doubt shoves me off balance is way less about my circumstances and way more about my God.
When we’re intimately familiar with God, when we don’t just know about Him but really know Him, the most crooked roads we travel are made straight. Not because life is easy. Sifting through emotions like anger, depression, hopelessness, insecurity, and so on is hard stuff! But because when we know God, we know all of this as well:
His STRENGTH that is accessible in our weakness
His COMFORT that meets us as we mourn
His MERCY that withholds the punishment our depravity readily deserves
His PEACE that defies our unrest
His JOY that kisses the cheeks of our sorrow
His COURAGE that makes our weary hearts brave and casts away fears
His REDEMPTION that reworks our brokenness into beauty
His LOVE that binds us to eternity and delights over us with singing
Even when the one-two punches come and feelings are frazzled, I can confidently trust God by faith. Not because I understand all the circumstances, or even like them, but because I know Him. And because I know Him, I can trust that He will provide all I need to process pains, heal from wounds, and move forward in strength, grace, and peace.
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Smith is quick to say that she is not saying more is better. More may include setbacks, more may include being misunderstood and discouraged, and more may include suffering. But more also means knowing God more deeply, even in the midst of pain. The deepest question behind this search for more from God is this: Do I trust Jesus? Smith helps readers explore this question in light of disappointment and unmet expectations in life.
Gwen Smith is an author and volleyball enthusiast who lives in sunny North Carolina and has been married to her college honey, Brad, for 23 years. They are tired parents to three tall, competitive-sport-playing teens who keep them on their toes and on their knees. Her online friends meet at GwenSmith.net to connect and be encouraged, and her goal is to help women think big thoughts about God and be inspired to live out the grace and truth of Jesus. Gwen’s new book, I Want It All, (David C. Cook) released on March 1, 2016. She speaks, leads worship, and eats potato chips at women’s events everywhere, and she is a cofounder of the conference and devotional ministry Girlfriends in God.
CHANCE TO WIN: Bloggers & readers, Gwen will be selecting one of you at random to win her books and music. Support Gwen today:
Not too many days ago, which, if I am completely honest with you – is about once a week – I have one of those pull-out-your-hair types of days.
Most of the time the impetus is my kids, and either some crazy mishap like poo on the floor, water all over the place, cooking extravaganzas gone horribly wrong or something else that is impossible to clean up.
Then I start playing the mole in the hole game as one thing after another pops up to drive me mad:
I start stubbing my toe.
The cabinets look a mess.
I can’t organize worth a small stack of T-bonds.
I needed to throw out everything (about 10 years ago).
I am the worst mom.
I can’t do things well.
Before I know it, I grab my AK-47 and start firing.
Normally the bullets hit my kids first, leaving what I assume are critical care wounds from words like this:
You are not listening.
You are not obeying.
You are frustrating me.
You are going to be punished.
You better do ____, or else!
I don’t want to be around you.
I am leaving you here until you can shape up.
Why can’t you __________?
Perhaps you shoot down your spouse this way too,
this kind of thing has been known to happen.
It’s interesting, isn’t it?
The ones we most love are the ones we most love to shoot. The ones that are closest always land our stray bullets. The ones most invested in us are the ones we most often try to rob.
It is as if somehow we know that their belief in us –
is also our greatest risk.
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Prov. 14:1
God’s spiritual inclinations repel from our earthly inclinations.
He’s basically like:
If you have a house, why are you ripping it apart? If you are building something great, are you really going to be so dumb as to ruin it? If you are wise, get wise about the words of identity you declare –
they determine the path of the ones you love.
Then, he graciously teaches mom his love and how to speak love.
He says, My Child, watch what I do,
then you will see and know how to speak.
I say things like:
I love you always, no matter how badly you mess up (or how bad your cabinets look).
I want to help you listen and obey.
I am with you and will guide you in the process.
I won’t leave you or push you aside when you fail.
I want to encourage you in all your ways.
If you have questions about my approach, just ask.
I won’t keep reminding you of all you have done wrong.
I love how I made you; I approve of you.
I love watching your small steps of improvement.
I wait for you to be near to me; I love being close to you.
What if I was to talk – like God talks to me?
What if rather than tearing down, I start laying down new bricks of life-long security?
What might that do to a dwelling? To the attitudes inside – and to the mom who feels subpar?
Somehow, I can’t help but think, when we start speaking grace, we start believing it.
Then, when moles sneak out of their holes, rather than believing they are creating dugouts that will sink our house, we remember what we have built. We step back, we see our foundation and we know God’s words and reinforced love made it strong.
We gently hear his voice say: “I will be with you. Just do your best and I will take care of the rest.”
And, things feel okay – and so does everyone else.
When I was with her, like a mind-reader, I could sense her emotions.
I could feel her temperatures rising – to the heights of Pluto.
I could sense all was not well with her soul.
Her words were shorter, her breathing tighter and her laughter less.
And all I could think was – what can I do to make her feel better?
Do you ever feel like me? Responsible to make others happy?
It wasn’t that life was crashing in. She was just handling groceries, dishes and daily clean up.
Yet, still, no matter how I talked, or what I did, her feelings didn’t seem to clean up. They didn’t. Despite my underlying words of: “Pull it together, so we can have fun together,” she didn’t budge.
And, then, what I did made it ten times worse, I’ll tell ya’ll, because I literally walked over, picked up her feelings and placed them inside me. I attached them to my heart like a fungus that even armies can’t beat. I wore anxiety just the same as her.
If you can’t beat ’em, join em,
unless you’re trying to minister to ’em,
and then you have probably just wrecked ’em.
Stepping back has given me the chance to see some things:
The wounded can’t easily be rescued by the wounded.
The wounded often need the Master Physician not the master fixer.
The wounded are hurting and sometimes space is the place where their heart finds peace.
If you want to minister and not manipulate, you have to terminate your need to placate.
If you want to stay at peace, you have to let others own their own feelings.
I am not the peace-maker, the joy-jester or the emotion-keeper, I am just as much a sinful soul that could fall down right next to that person if I am not careful.
I could fall down with the thoughts: I did something wrong. It is all my fault. She will not return to happiness today. I will have a horrible day. I don’t know what is about to happen.
Knowing this, there is only one place to land oneself in a moment like this – at the melting-point of God’s Word:
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Ps. 118:6
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Prov. 3:5
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear… 1 Jo. 4:18
If God is in charge, I don’t have to be.
If I can leave him with my anxieties, I don’t need them.
If I trust him, I can trust he will work out that persons issue.
If I let him work, he will accomplish change in atmospheres better than I ever could.
If I let go of worrying about others, I can find peace.
If I step back, I can see his power at work between the space of me and them.
If I lean on God in the turbulence of fear, I can find strength in the face of hope.
Where might God be calling you to lean in?
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Do you miss it?
It is right before your eyes.
Waiting for your astonishment…
It is God showing off.
If you are head down in iPhone…you won’t see it.
If you are worrying your pants off about what is to come…you won’t see it.
If you are yelling to that person next to you in traffic…you won’t see it.
If you are looking at what everyone else is wearing…you won’t see it.
If you are more concerned with your ways than his…you won’t see it.
Not because he doesn’t care for you, because he absolutely does.
Not because you aren’t his loved son or daughter, which you hopefully are.
Not because he is angry at you, because he is not, he just waiting for you to run back to him in repentance.
You won’t see, because you don’t allow yourself to see.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jer. 29:13
Eyes that are looking for God, find him. Eyes that are distracted, miss him.
Last night, my son ran into my room with a mid-night dream he wanted to share. I hushed him up and pushed him back to his bed, deathly afraid I would turn into a walking-zombie mother the next day from lack of sleep. Success! He returned to bed.
Until, he came back. He woke me again, but this time I hugged him. I loved on him as Christ might. I enjoyed the quietness of the moment. Then, I looked out the window…and saw it. Bright as day, as close as the breath of my own child, as bold as a phone call in the middle of the night – it stood. It was the moon, except for one thing…this moon’s rays shined only two ways – horizontal above the earth, and vertical – ground to heaven.
This moon was emitting rays in the shape – of a cross. A cross that owned the world.
(This picture does the cross no justice, because its rays extended far and wide, long and distanced, crisp and sword-like, prominent and powerful. They went straight down to the ground and straight up to the sky…it was gigantic and breathtaking.)
This moon declared Jesus’ victory over the plains of the fearful and the plans of evil.
It proclaimed the earth as belonging to God.
It blazed like a victory flag over our mayhem-ridden land.
It shined eternal sovereignty, which will never, ever, fade.
It confirmed it can’t beat the the sacrifice that will always endure.
It magnified Jesus’ ability and desire to cleanse the world of all pain, agony and hatred.
But, what if I had missed it?
What if instead of stopping to let my eyes adjust to the light of God outside,
I let sleep lure me inside?
Awaken! God is all around, but when our eyes look down, we miss the exact places where he is found.
Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. Ps. 33:8
If we stop in the middle of rush, we will see – that it is us that God wants to touch.
If we look for wonder, we will find ourself wondering how we have such a great God.
If we pray to see, God will open our eyes up wider than they are after our third drink of coffee.
God waits to awe our socks off!
Nature testifies to the natural goodness of God. It is the present testament declaring both testaments of our living King. It confirms his majesty, administration and intentions.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Ro. 1:20
If you only see the white noise hum of “bore” before you – you’ll miss the “tremendously more” that God has – for you.
Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Ps. 2:11
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Stepping into an environment that is bigger than what we know and are familiar with, forces us to expand our knowledge and stretch our thoughts.
As uncomfortable as it is to step beyond the place of familiarity, true growth can only take place when we reach the end of our abilities and enter into the beginning of God’s. For me, this is the place where I rely on Him to show up in order to be successful. It is the place where my heart flutters in uncertainty of what lies ahead. It is the place where the shoe is a little big for me, but I chose to wear it anyway and trust that God will help me grow into it.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 Read More.
Where do I look, Lord? How do I do this, Lord? Who do I to turn to for help, Lord?
I need you, Lord, to guide me through this puzzle called life.
Holding my hand
So I can take the next step
Feeding and filling me with Your Word
So I can share it with others
Loving me – missing pieces and all
So I can love others in spite of their “missing pieces”
They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?” Then they remembered Jesus’ words. Luke 24:4-8 (The Message)
The chief of the Temple police and the high priests were puzzled. “What’s going on here anyway?” Acts 5:24 (The Message)
Even Jesus’ disciples, the Temple police and the high priests were puzzled… Read more…
A funny thing happened when I finally let go of my reputation – God intervened. First of all, I learned that God cares about how others perceive those who are His. He will always defend His children because He understands our pain. Jesus knows all too well what it’s like to have a reputation destroy you. He was perfect and without sin, yet He was laughed at and mocked to the point of death.
He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. – Isaiah 53:3 (NLT)
Secondly, God taught me what it means to seek Him first in all things… including my reputation. When we hold on to things and choose to use our own strength to defend ourselves, we aren’t allowing God and His strength to take over. God wanted to renew my reputation, but I refused to trust Him with it.
I felt like what I did made me who I was, “that pregnant girl.” Then I met Jesus, and the truth set me free.
What we did in the past doesn’t make us who we are; it’s what Jesus did for us that confirms our identity.Jesus had already taken my shame to the cross, it just took me a while to find that out. When Jesus overcame our shame, years of disgrace were replaced by grace.
I shared this story while speaking at a women’s event. After stepping from the stage, countless women couldn’t wait to say “me too.” This is why we need to tell our stories; because we overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
When we share how God brings beauty from ashes, our past story becomes part of our grace story.
So goodbye shame, Jesus took you away, and I will gladly step into the light and tell others about it.
I was so focused on trying to run away from my fear that I just made myself busier and busier. I was afraid to be still because I knew it would overwhelm me. So I tried to fight my own battle by doing everything but sit still and silent in the presence of God. But it wasn’t my battle to fight.
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. Ex. 14:14
We must claim our freedom daily.
Joshua was nervous to carry out all the big things God told him he was to do. God constantly reminded him that he had no reason to fear! There is no shame in going to God daily, moment by moment for reminders and encouragement.
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deut. 31:6
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Josh. 1:9
We are called to freedom for a purpose. God has something already set in motion for you to do! Don’t let your past, fears, or mistakes hold you back in chains! Use your freedom to serve Him and others.
When I opened my Bible the other day and ran across this verse: “And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting.”
Clearly, Paul, the writer of Philippians must have been mistaken. How can anyone think of suffering as a gift? Surely, suffering is not God’s will for us, right? Wrong. Maybe suffering is our own fault, and it will go away as soon as we turn back to God. Nope. Oh, OK, then perhaps God only allows us to suffer temporarily, so He can then show His healing power. Well, sometimes yes, sometimes no.
The Bible says that suffering, not just the release from it, is a gift from God.
How in the world could this be true? I dug deeper. What I found was a God who cares deeply about our suffering (Exodus 3:7) and hears our cries for help. And while sometimes He does rescue us, He more often delivers us in our suffering and speaks to us in our affliction (Job 36:15).
His purpose for allowing suffering is not to harm us, but to draw us closer to Him.
Sometimes I feed my children an improper view of God.
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but let me explain what I mean.
My (tween) boys love to play Minecraft on the desktop computer in our office-turned-schoolroom. Our oldest takes an online course which teaches him to code Java, and the class uses Minecraft as the platform to teach advanced coding.
So of course, he and his brother need to play in the worlds he creates, to see that it all comes together the way he planned.
I’m good with that. But only if they play by the rules.
In our house, the rule for using any kind of computer or video screen is–Ask First. Because there are a number of important things (like schoolwork) that must be done first. Not only that, but I’ve read too many articles about screen-time turning young minds to mush, and so I limit their time. About this, my boys are thrilled. 🙂
Evenso, the temptation is strong for them, to turn on the computer and click on the little Minecraft icon.
Sometimes I find them playing without permission, so I created a password for them to type in each time they turn on the computer.
The password I created? GOD-SEES.
Just a little reminder.
Just a harmless little reminder. Right? But no.
Recently, I read Psalm 32:8 on a friend’s blog, and it left me thinking about my snappy little password.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
What am I really saying to them when I’m saying God Sees?
I realized that my point was not that His loving eye was upon them.
I wasn’t exactly trying to say God will guide you because He loves you and desires the very best for you.
I realized I was feeding them the idea that the Lord is just watching for them to make a mistake. That He’s present where they play, but He’s waiting to zap them with a punishment, the way Mom sometimes assigns an extra chore or gives them sentences to write when they disobey.
But I was wrong. I don’t want my kids to believe God is just watching in order to punish them.
I want them to remember God’s loving eye is on them,
to guide them toward choices that are best for them.
I want them to understand He desires to lead them toward freedom and success, not always in the way we define success, but His way.
I want them to know His eye on them is the gift of His presence–at all times, in every place. That He wants to know them all the way down to their hearts, because of the depths of His love for them.
I also want them to want to know the Lord–to look into His heart and see who He really is.
My mistake led to an important conversation between my boys and me, and God used it to lead all of us back to the truth. I changed the computer password to what I really wanted to remind them to do in the first place–AskMom1st.
I hope we’ll never forget that God Sees—but that we’ll remember God sees all of us with His loving eyes.
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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.