There’s this space in our lives where sorrow and joy collide, where highs and lows converge and where good and bad embrace. This is a new space for me. But this is a space that many of you may be familiar with.
Usually, in my “Job Seasons” as I like to call them, horrible things happen and keep happening. And they happen often. Those seasons give new meaning to the term “When it rains, it pours”. Unfortunately, I have grown accustomed to these seasons.
For the past 6 or so months, I have been in this new season of this in between space. Picture this…devastating circumstance then joyous circumstance then disastrous circumstance then fun circumstance then overwhelming circumstance then delightful circumstance. Exactly!!!! Now you have a small glimpse of what my life has been like recently.
It’s felt as though I have had spiritual whiplash. Back and forth and back and forth. It’s been one of the hardest times in my life. I’ve been drained in every sense of the word…emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Most of my prayers have sounded like moans and tears.
I’m coming out of this season, but there is still a remnant of whiplash. But God has met me there, at every turn.
“But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:18
The first part of this verse and a few other verses have reminded me of my Heavenly Father’s faithfulness to me, not only in this season, but in all seasons. Whether the season lasts how long I want it to or not or ends the way that I want it to or not…whether God moves in the way I want Him to or not, some core truths remain.
“But even if He does not…”
God is still with me.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”Deuteronomy 31:6
God is our Father. He loves us and pursues us. He never gives up upon us. He goes before us, behind us and surrounds us. And He delights to do so. Regardless of what we do or what is done to us, He is our protector and provider. He longs to defend us and bring us healing. He longs to simply do what good fathers do.
God is still good.
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 136:1
God is good and faithful and loving and kind. Even when catastrophic situations occur, He is still good. He cannot be or act contrary to His nature. It’s impossible.
The details of this life don’t dictate the goodness of God.
God still has a purpose for me.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Seasons come and go. That’s the beauty of them. They don’t last forever. When dark seasons come, God’s purposes for us are not nullified, they are only sidetracked. It’s up to us whether or not we allow those times to further equip us for our callings. It’s up to us whether or not we keep the faith that God’s purposes will prevail.
But even if He does not…
God is still with us.
God is still good.
God still has a purpose for us.
Are you in an in between season experiencing a bit of whiplash? I’d love to pray for you!
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
Karina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.
Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”
I am struggling.
My heart is ripping in two with the thought of how I hurt you.
My defensiveness is boiling, spilling over, with the burning effect of protect or be harmed.
My guilt is cascading onto those I love.
My fears seem to keep me stuck immobile, feeling more like a pillar of salt than the salt of the earth.
There is a insidious inclination to look at myself, in these moments, and to say, “I hate you.”
“I hate how you can’t get things right.
I hate how you don’t love properly. I hate how you make others feel.”
In these moments, it seems like I’m riding a roller coaster that is only descending, that is only heading into the swamplands of no movement, no progress and eternal frustration. I don’t want to go…still though, I move there, even despite my best efforts.
God, why can’t I be all you want me to be?
Why can’t I do better and be better?
Why do I fall into my own traps of defeat?
Why can’t I beat my mind so I can be a “good” follower of you?
Love. Do you feel it? Do you know it? This is all I have reserved for you. It is the only seat I offer you, it is front row to my unending offering of everything I have. For you are mine and I am yours. Love. Move in and let it sink in.
Even when you may feel like you are pulling up the covers, turning off the lights and laying down in disappointment and discouragement, flick the switch, see the light and dead-stare into my eyes. I wait, not to give you the evil eye, but to let you know that you are mine.
I want all of you. I delight in all of you. The places where you are falling, are the places I am uprising. Will you trust? You see the skinned knees, I see the miraculous renewal. I don’t just bandage and regrow, but heal and remake a zillion times more abundant than your smallest comprehension of new.
My work transcends earthly and rebounds into the spiritual
which far surpasses what you consider – natural.
For nothing will be impossible with me (God). Lu. 1:37
So, dear child, don’t be angry at yourself, for this is all part of the process. Don’t cast your efforts into class “loser”. Don’t tell yourself you need to go to bed with no dinner. You will fail, fall and falter. But, here is the truth:
I don’t want to return you to the orphanage and wipe my hands of you.
I don’t want to drop you off on the side of the road, unless you put a smile on your face.
I don’t want you to know that you better – shape up or ship out.
I just want you, all of you, in my hands, moldable, breakable, pliable, makeable and malleabe so that I can make you incredible as you lay back into the warmth of my will.
Stay with me. Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with me.
Ps. 27:14 MSG
Don’t fear my process of remake, but open yourself up to it. Let love sink in – into the cracks, into the chaffed edges and into the unseen – so I can revive every cell you believe is of disrepair. I promise, I work wonders for beauty.
You see, my love is the healing point of all pain. My love is the answer to your lash-outs. My indwelling love is the answer to your out-dwelling peace. My love is the end of condemnation and the beginning of affirmation. My love is the termination of avoidance and the conception of acceptance. My love is arms around you when agony is too. My love is the only current that removes the constant buzz of unbelonging.
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again;
rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.
And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Ro. 8:15
Will you give it a chance? A chance to just – be? A chance to sit on your heart as you sit quiet on your couch? A chance to change you? A chance to remake you?
Cherished child, don’t let love become cliche. Common. Normal. Ordinary. See it afresh. Consider it anew. Resign yourself to know that you can never know the fullness of my love; there is always more and more to it.
So, step back, hold on tight and let it flood your insides so that it floods your world, not with proper actions, but with me.
You will be astonished at what comes out when you let my love move in.
When I find your heart, things change. What was up is down and what was down is up, meaning you, God, move down, and the enemy moves far, far, away. Rather than feeling like all the walls are caving in, rather than feeling suffocated by sub-par Christianity, I feel young again. I feel uninhibited, released and restructured. I feel like running downhill, arms wide open, body receiving, will disappearing, all the same emerging. Emerging into a better me, not because of me, but because of you.
The wind of your gentle Spirit strips away the old, the useless and the unneeded, to pack in new, useful and entirely needed. You bring me to your destination and, as I trust you God, it is great adventure, with great joy and great power in distinct and purposeful movement. God, keep me there. Keep me in the place where my heart says let’s go! Let’s go wild and free down your journey of adventure.
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25
You love me, oh how you love me,
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
Faith is easy when life is simple. Faith is tested when life gets infested.
Infested with: trials, trauma, ticks, testing, tainted people, tiny bank accounts, T-Cell Cancer
Then, we start to lose our marbles, we run after them as they spread left and right and downhill and diagonally. We think that somehow they are our source of pleasure, our primary need, our must haves to stay in this competitive game called life. When they go wild, we go wild. We zig and we zag, frantic with the what ifs, the how comes and the if onlys. We run tired with metastasized doubt.
Just the other day, my bag spilled out.
Kids were going to bathroom in places they never should go.
Water was being poured faucet-to-floor.
Shoes were being protested as we headed out the door.
Bad news was arriving via telephone.
Later, I sat in my car, zoned, and seeking: “Dear Lord, please help me right now. Send me some encouragement that will uplift my heart.”
I stared out the front windshield, a tad dazed, yet I still saw it, a beacon of hope, a blessing in the making and a little valentine from God – I was sure this card tucked under the wiper was the answer to all my days wrongs.
“God, this must be it. What is on that card, you have written for me, to encourage me. Please Lord, let it be.”
I plucked the card out and, with excitement, read it, sure of my oncoming peace. But, what it said shocked me, it nearly broke me, “Alert: You park like an idiot.”
And, boom! There it was, the hammer that broke the frozen dam of pent up wild, the final condemnation I needed to lose and the final word on what was already written up as horrendous day.
Have you ever been there? Just needing a little pat on the back, only to get a great whack?
What I never considered, until I got the chance to consider how much of a parking idiot I really am, is that no one ever really knows our situation.
While that person placed a card on my windshield to help all mankind, they had no idea that a man of my kind was near her breaking point. They had no idea that I parked the car like that because kids will not be able to open the backdoor if the car is too close. They had no idea that leaving two littles in the center of a crazy parking lot to back up and load them in is frankly idiotic. They had no idea that my head was going to explode from the pressure of all the marbles that were already hitting all the walls of discouragement.
How often do I judge someone before I know?
How often do I see bad moves and curse the person for not moving another way?
How often do I miss the chance to love and lift for a decision to kill and destroy?
That person had the chance to change my whole day for the better, I bet they had no idea.
All the same, in that moment, for a split second, another marble came loose. It was the marble with the name God on it, for a split-second it started to roll – away, far far away.
I watched it. Would I get it? Not sure.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Ro. 8:28
I know this verse, but sometimes it is hard to believe this verse. Sometimes it is hard to live in the eye of tornado and still keep an eye on truth.
Truth like: God cares less about wiping our feelings clean and more about wiping our souls clean. God sometimes let’s us go through the fire, so we get a chance to see the miraculous undoing of our self. God is holding our heart, even when we lose heart. More important than earthly mayhem is spiritual peace. Mania makes us motivated to find it. People don’t drive our standing in God’s Kingdom, Jesus did.
If I stop chasing marbles, I start to get back into God’s game. I start to think strategy, promises and peace to myself. I start to find life abounding in the face of myself rebounding.
I start to think of how all this bad is made for all God’s good.
I start to feel calm again, steady and ready to stick solidly to all that really matters in this world.
Sense starts to boil up from all the nonsense – and that is enough for me.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. James 1:2-3
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
It is that thing that pretty much all of us hate. It’s what we would rather run from – than run straight into. It’s what makes us think bad thoughts, nasty thoughts and mean accusations to our closest. It’s what drives us batty and crazy because we wonder if we will ever be understood. It’s what sends us to mindsets of sin instead of the peace of holiness, faster than one can whip out a quick retort.
It’s conflict. The worst 8 letter word around.
It is that thing that we don’t know why, we as Christians even have to deal with, but, still, we do. Somehow and sometimes, we are bound to hit it. And as ugly as it is, we often stand right in the midst of it, wondering how something so icky, so yucky and so unsavory, could exist in one who is trying to pursue God so hard?
How a God seeker could turn into more of a raging lunatic than a calming saint?
How this very growth of mold could threaten to swallow whole God’s very light shining on it?
But, yet, if we stop and think, this is the point isn’t it? There still is light.God’s light is still shining on it, right? There is no amount of disgrace, shame and darkness that can remove the ray of light that is above you. Light won’t let go of your hand, it won’t stop warming you and it won’t stop quenching darkness. So, even though you feel your feet stand in the death and decay of relationship, have you ever considered…
…maybe it’s more about focusing your eyes on the land of repair, instead of the face of despair.
Maybe, just maybe, instead of focusing on all that person didn’t do, it is much more about focusing on what God is about to do – in you…
How God is preparing you.
How God is molding you.
How God is bettering you.
How God wants outstanding for you.
How God uses people to reconstruct you.
How God cares more about his life in you, than your happy life around you.
How God can fix the most complex junkers into complete beauties in his perfect timing.
In any rotten moment,
God extends his hand of love out to you.
Will you take it?
Hold on to it. And let him lead you?
Conflict is the body shop of God’s repair, for it is here that he points out, kneads and buffs out the greatest defects of our hearts.
But, it requires we get open, real and ready for his work; it means we get humble.
For a heart bowed down, clears more space for the light of Christ to rest over it.
The light is always the answer. It is the proving point to a mind that thinks like this:
Be not discouraged, he is helping us.
Be not dismayed, he is with us.
Be not disgraced, he calls us to see.
Be not downright angry, he leads us to listen.
Be not debased, he calls us to set our ways down.
Be not defeated, he calls us to victory in Christ.
Be not dejected, he calls us to new ways of thinking.
Be not defamed, you are always loved in his eyes.
Be not defensive, the correction spoken might be your ticket to fullness.
Be not down and out, you are always Christ’s new creation, created in his image.
Be not disqualified, nothing can remove you from the hand of God.
Be not denied, Christ already died to fully accept you.
Thinking like this leads a person. When they feel ready to fall prey, they simply fall down and pray. Suddenly and often, what they find is – God has the best way. Imagine that.
They find themselves being and doing the wild and crazy things they never dreamed they had in them or available to the mean folk who love to come against them: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Col. 3:12
And, what they find is – real love. From God and to man.
Easy Subscribe! Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
Dear eyes,you have looked through the glasses of not enough for so long. You have gazed upon other’s lots wishing to grab their “a lot”. Their kids, cars, houses, smarts, clothes, cars and blessings. You crave it all. You have hoped and dreamed, pleaded and called, but still, your eyes constrict when you see all you don’t have. There is hope.
Dear hands, you are trying, you are fighting and you are walking by faith, but sometimes the work of your hands falters. You trip up and chip up your nails, your best efforts, which only seems to send you into a cycle of defeat and discouragement. You feel like you can’t make it holy enough. Don’t give up.
Dear mind,you carry around the self-condemning thoughts of “I wish I could be better, love more, do more and be more.” You tend to miss the mark and punish yourself for doing so. Honestly, the way you run circles, chasing the tail of “perfectly all together,” may just rip you apart. There is more.
Dear feet, you go to the places of need. You rise to the moments of emergency. You run to help others. You go far lengths. But, still, you wonder, do these feet travel far enough? Are they making a difference? Are the steps futile? They count.
Dear other person, I wonder, will you still love me entirely with my flaws? Will you be able to look past all my frame is not to see all I am? What would happen if I trusted you? Take a risk.
For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it. Col. 2:19
Suddenly, my eyes open, my ears listen, my mouth waits, and my hands reach out to see God’s nourishing truth. While I always thought the freedom was centered on me, I am realizing it transcends time-sensitive bodies – it transcends our body. It is not just about one flawed and damaged part, but it is entirely about the whole part. The part he is moving and making into his greatness, for his greatness.
His body that makes my body. Why? Because my body is his body (I am his temple). His body is the church (we are his people). The church is God’s primary mission field to repair damaged bodies (if we let it work).
Founded in Christ and deployed through our willingness, we – together – become the healers of the awkward thoughts, the repairers of hidden shame and the bringers of the most hope inducing words ever – “me too.”
Unity creates immunity. An immunity that wards off loneliness, unsteadiness and unsightliness. We were at our worst, but together, we hit the potential to become our best.
If we give unity a fighting chance, we give let progress walk in – shuffle around –
and do it’s victory dance.
For then, a collaborative voice emerges, saying, “We can do it, make it and conquer it. We can see our bulges, our wrinkles and our indents and say, this body is very good.” (Gen. 1:3) Not because everything is perfectly beautiful, but because everything is beautifully transparent in a way where one needs Christ, where one needs another.
Holding hands, there is joy, there is a sliver of something – a glorious sunrise emerges in the center of the darkness of night and what appears is the new beginning to a story that we thought ended.
We see our ill-formed bodies, as a whole, formed into the image of Christ.
Our body emerges remarkable, radiant and restored.
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. Song 4:7
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
It makes you sleepless and hurried and doubting and fretting.
It makes you freeze like a statue of uncertainty in the face of family issues.
It makes you lash out at those you love because of how they’re treating you.
It makes you avoid truth, because you can’t handle facing it.
It makes you not want to leave your house, breaking at the thought of happenstance situations.
It makes you turn from the face of God towards the face of your man-made solutions.
It makes you run ineffective circles to try to calm and fix yourself.
It makes you quiet when you know you should be speaking out.
It makes you grab on to those you love in unhealthy ways.
It makes you a worrier, an anxiety ball and a mangled line of hooks that hurt.
It makes you a spectator and not an promoter of Christ Jesus.
It makes you forget God and remember self.
It makes you takes your “this little light of mine” – and hide it under a bushel.
Have you ever considered?
Perhaps fear is the exact place the enemy wants you to be.
For then, you won’t see God. You will miss him only to see the shape of dark clouds taking form over your head. You’ll see them move, like a harbinger of all you don’t want to happen, they’ll consume your eyes with the possibilities and then divert them from the one moving them all along. Suddenly, you become so fixated on colors of dark and shadows of gray, you become certain you are alone, unprepared and ready to be drenched.
Yet, all this while, what you did not realize, is that the Lord, with his clouds and his movement, was creating a dramatic masterpiece in this sky. Perhaps, he was just showing his ownership of everything below it. Perhaps, he was showing his ability to water the world, not to ruin it. To create new seeds, not to demolish them.
What will we see? How will we see it?
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. Lu. 1:30
Truth is – you can’t follow fear – and the Lord – with the same fervency.
You can’t be a shiner and a hider.
A complainer and a worshiper.
A victor and a cowerer.
A force and a fort of self-protection.
You will either be thrilled by God
or thrilled into shock of all that surrounds you.
You will either walk on water, keeping your eyes steadfast,
or you will sink fast into the waters around you.
You will either walk by faith, and not by sight
or your sight will become marred, mangled and, ultimately, blind.
You will either be determined, diligent and dedicated to the race or you will fall on the sidelines.
Small choices make all the difference.
Think Judas. This disciple took his own life.
Think David. He fell right into adultery.
Think of Lot’s wife. She looked back towards sin, and became a pillar of salt.
Fear makes a whole lot of people do a whole lot of things they never wish they did – but still, they did.
We have a decision to make.
Will we move nowhere in fear, or will we move somewhere – even towards the face of God – in spite of it?
Is this too intense for you? Maybe this is the point, intense is what we need. Intense is what we crave. Intense is what we have to be to fight back intense.
Intense times call for intense measures.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Rev. 3:15-16
Never let your mind forget: God is not a fan “I fall somewhere in the middle.”
He is a fan of small movement towards something different, of small beginnings, of pivots…and he is a tremendous fan of you …
A big fan. A huge fan.
A fan that he wants watching his game.
The game of encouragement, hope and life.
The game that will rise you out of your seat and make you chant his name.
That is the game that counts – the one to watch.
The one where its fans get a little roudy – on his behalf.
The one that never ends.
The one that looks bad, but ends well.
If you watch this star, you are sure going to win.
You are sure going to make strides.
You are sure going to do his will.
You are sure going to find hope.
You are sure going to be sure.
You are sure to be equipped.
You are sure to be carried through.
You are sure to get all you need.
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?
We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Mt. 2:2
The star in the East.
It hits us.
Dropping us first to our knees.
In submission to the magnitude
of the force that is forcing nature to move.
Then it raises us up in worship,
it beckons us to look high,
to notice what is high,
to take notice of our lows,
and to thank God for this glow.
Our hearts are compelled to worship,
and worship him we do,
then our feet move to follow.
They follow to the place,
a place we don’t know,
but he does,
and that is all that matters,
for he is there,
the beating love of Jesus.
And he waits for our will to want him,
for then we can
breathe it in
and consume every part of goodness.
We can inhale love
and exhale grace. And when we do, nothing is ever the same again.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
I love the picture presented here of a path. It’s not a room filled with light or the light as bright as the noonday. It’s just enough light for the path ahead. God’s Word is the source of light.
You may have your own dark cloud that looms directly overhead causing everything to seem dull and difficult to see. Darkness comes in many forms. For me it can be ignited by circumstances beyond my control, fear of the future and discouragement that quickly turns into depression. You may not have a cloud of fear and feelings like me, but your darkness may manifest itself in the form of shattered dreams, prayers yet to be answered or circumstances that make you wonder if God has completely forgotten about you.
As I think about my dark clouds and the light I know I need and desperately desire, God is drawing me near. When I allow His light to brighten my path, my thoughts are transformed and I remember the familiar essence of His light.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17
I had been a Christian for seventeen years at the time my fourteen-year-old son Jacob and five others were killed while on a missionary trip in Mexico.
Over the next eight years I demanded an explanation. I wanted to trust God again. They say trust is earned, could God re-earn my trust? Is that a fair question to ask? It eventually occurred to me that there’d be no one better to trust than the One who died for me—no one had invested more.
I decided to return to the place I first met God, I opened my bible and let Him reason with me through His Word. I found that pride was standing in the way of my healing. The only way out of this bitter downward spiral would be to admit that God was blameless and release the resentment held against Him. It was after humbly laying my broken heart at His feet that God revealed Himself in a way that healed my broken spirit. I finally was able to form these words, “Lord, this isn’t the life I would have chosen, but I’ll receive it. Please teach me from it.”
I found God again. He had been waiting there at the core of all my pain. I discovered something else—pain and joy could coexist within me. I could experience the sting of Jake’s death yet at the very same time feel the joy of the Lord without having to pretend I was OK with what happened. You see, I’m not OK with it; I’m not going to be OK with it. I loved Jacob and losing him hurt. The truth is there’s no explanation for his death this side of heaven that will ever satisfy me. Jacob is irreplaceable in my life—but so is Jesus Christ and I couldn’t afford to lose them both.
I used to pride myself on the lists I could make and accomplish.
If I didn’t finish the whole list, no one saw the list, even the things I’d done. I’d sulk and be surly to my family, which was an expression of how I felt worthless inside.
God’s Word says the following about me, oh and by the way…I can do nothing to earn it! I am the apple of His eye, I am a Saint, I am redeemed and forgiven (Hallelujah!), I am free from condemnation, I am established, anointed and sealed by God, and most of all I am complete in Christ!
What broke me free from worthlessness, list making, and achievement-based love was confession and then choosing to believe God.
I have made a reference of scriptures identifying who I am as a new creation in Christ. I try to read them every day to ingrain into my heart so I have a new go-to thought for when Satan tries to tempt me to think the old thoughts.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. Psalm 94: 19
How might the pain, hurt and fear I’ve experienced since a little child be worked into something good?
As a child, I started trusting the actions and words of brokenness above the actions and words of God in my life. Idolizing the love and acceptance of humans exacerbated the fear within me. And with anxiety multiplying within me, the inherent fear that I would never be good enough, I lent into my own prideful self-control to numb it away. I sought to deny the existence of the fear by striving to perform, to be the best possible student, lover, wife, mother and friend.
Fleeing from fear gave me a semblance of control, but also festered an anger and exhaustion within me because no matter how hard I tried, I could never live up to the perfection I strived after. And so the fear would rear its ugly head repeatedly and I’d turn to anger to stifle it, anger at myself boiling within me and compounding the exhaustion from my attempts at perfection.
If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you’ll lose it, but if you let that life go, you’ll get life on God’s terms. Luke 17: 33 (The Message)
I am choosing to trust that just as His Word promises He WILL go before me (Deuteronomy 31:8), preparing the path (Isaiah 43) and working ALL things together for my good (Romans 8: 28).
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. Isaiah 11:3-4
Do we imagine Jesus sees through the same judgmental lens we do?
He doesn’t. He couldn’t.
Jesus looks past our outward self. Past our lazy or selfish actions. He doesn’t hear the harsh words we spoke in fear and anger. He doesn’t seek out the dirty windows of our situation, glorying in the smears of our circumstances.
Jesus’ eyes look upon us in love, His ears hear the cries of our heart because he isn’t fooled by outward appearances.
He’s not fooled by my surface niceness that overlies a judgmental heart. He’s not fooled by the outward actions that hide a broken heart.
Jesus sees and hears our inward selves. There is no hiding or pretence around him.
Have you had to make a choice that you knew was right but that you thought you would regret? I have. Over and over again.
Recently, I turned down a job offer. For a position I’ve prayed for for years. With enough hours to bolster our bank account. Every bit of knowledge I have dictated that I ought to find a way to make t work, that this was the opportunity I’d been waiting for. The Lord told me no. When I said yes to Him and no to the offer, I thought I would regret it soon.
Romans 8:27-28 tells us that “He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (MSG)
God erases regret because regret is about my way –and when that slate is clean…
He makes beautiful works of art that are better than anything I could ever dream.
Today I’m glad I turned down that job. I’m so glad we didn’t get the cat then with all the housing turmoil we later unexpectedly experienced (and the dog we were able to get eventually instead!)
I’m glad that money has kept us at times from making decisions to do things more “typically” because we’ve had some amazing relationships out of it. I’m glad for some of my worst moments because without some of the mistakes and brokenness I’ve regretted, I would never have let people into my heart as far as I have.
Each of us gets a bit overgrown at times. We settle into our habits, our routines. We relax into the momentary mundane. It happens. God knows that in order for us to continually be growing and maturing, He needs to prune away the dead, unfruitful leaves and limbs.
He needs to carefully trim the excess, the residue that weighs us down and prevents us from growing, from becoming, from thriving.
Pruning isn’t a punishment. Pruning is an act of love. God loves you. He celebrates you. He longs for you to experience the fullness of your identity. He delights in His handiwork. He declares you beautiful. Whole. Complete.
In John 15:2 (NIV) Scripture says, He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
James 1:2-4 (NIV) tells us to, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
“You are my rock and salvation, my fortress and strength…”
I continued to repeat my mish mash verse. In the chemo chair, waiting for lab results, watching my kids giggle, receiving a meal from a friend, fighting nausea, popping pills.
“You are my rock and salvation, my fortress and strength” Ps 62:1-2
Little by little the fears started to loosen their grip and trusting the Lord seemed easier. I found that when we allow God into our pain, He loves to sit with us, hold us, rub our backs and remind us who we are.
At my weakest, when the emotional and physical pain dragged me into the slimy pit, clambering onto God’ rock was impossible unless I clung to God’s promises.
Repeating God’s promises defeats the enemy, sparks hope in our bellies and throws fuel on the fire of faith. With that flicker of hope fanning the flames of faith we are able to trust God with anything. And I mean ANYTHING.
Because when you’re diagnosed with rectal cancer the bottom falls out of your world and then, I’m afraid to say that, the world falls out of your bottom. Laughter and God’s promises really are the best medicine.
The problem is that when we lose our job, when relationships end, when our home goes under foreclosure, when the money we take home dwindles and when our past haunts our future – we begin to question ourselves.
We feel like damaged goods, valueless.
We feel insecure and vulnerable.
However, when we base our worth on who God says we are, everything around us can shake, yet we’re able to stand firm. With an identity in Christ, we’re able to tear down strongholds and strip away labels.
It’s not who you are but whose you are. It’s not what you did but what He did.
Who were are derives from who God says we are, not society.
The Bible says we are, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm, 139:14)
The Bible says we are, “chosen, holy and blameless before God.” (Ephesians 1:4)
The Bible says we are, “an incredible work of art.” (Ephesians 2:10)
When we grab hold of truth, we no longer face an identity crisis. Instead, we’ll see an identity breakthrough.
When Jesus found the disciples failing in their nightlong fishing trip, He could have told them to take up their nets and follow Him to a new, bountiful area of the sea.
They moved their nets, only seven feet across the width of the boat, and cast it on the other side. And as their weary hands obeyed the Master, the bounty came forth.
Do you feel discouraged today, my friend?
Is it the same boat, the same spot, the same fishing technique, over and over again for months, perhaps years?
Remember: If you are in the center of God’s will, walking in obedience with Him, you are where God wants you to be. The circumstances you are in may be uncomfortable, and you may be ready to move on to a better fishing spot. However, unless the Master calls you to move from where you are… Remain…
He is working a fruit eternal in your life. He is molding you as you cast your net over and over again. He is strengthening you as you choose to trust Him, even though you are tired and weary.
And when you feel too tired to go on, remember this: It is the Master Himself, who, after your toilsome, disheartening failures, keeps calling out to you:
And let me tell you, it was the most beautiful Christmas season I can remember in a long time.
God provides for His own. It is pointless to get up early, work hard, and go to bed late anxiously laboring for food to eat; for God provides for those He loves, even while they are sleeping. Psalm 127:2 Voice
I gave up my belief that taking time to rest was being lazy. I thought I’d see if what others said was true… that I would still be able to get everything done in time–and probably more–if I took time to rest.
I can’t sit here and say it was easy, because it wasn’t. I battled my entrenched habits and pretenses. But, the desire for God to have His way in me was greater than the desire to strive for the perfect holiday, and end up being sick again.
The Eternal, the Everlasting God, The Creator of the whole world, never gets tired or weary. His wisdom is beyond understanding. God strengthens the weary and gives vitality to those worn down by age and care. Young people will get tired; strapping young men will stumble and fall. But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength. They will soar on wings as eagles. They will run—never winded, never weary. They will walk—never tired,never faint. Isaiah 40:28-31 Voice
We may think we don’t have time to rest, but truly, we can’t afford not to.
How everything around me moved from the safety of
white-picket fences and neighborhood playgrounds
to a territory where the wild things are?
What will happen to me? Is this world going to eat me alive? Will my kids be okay? Will I be punished for my beliefs? Stripped of my goods? Hurt?
Today, we seem to live in risky territory. Raw territory. Hunt and be hunted territory. Even a head in the sand can’t hide this fact. It can’t take away the feeling that we don’t know what to do or, really, how to even prepare.
Fuzziness ingrains fearfulness.
Panic invokes more panic.
Rage makes us rage.
Then the unknown makes us certain our demise will become known.
The potential of “anything” swirls like a reality-bomb ready to explode.
The people against us become big and the people with us – become little.
Even when we tell ourselves “we are getting extreme again” and try to check ourselves in to a better mindset, we still don’t do well, for our mind comes undone, yet again, at the next catastrophic world blow-up.
We return to square one at this point, asking God, “Why do you allow this stuff?”
His answer looks something like this: “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Tim. 3:12)
God doesn’t hide the truth from those who want to hide their head under the blanket of this-all-can’t-really-be-happening. And, maybe, just maybe this is the point.
It is what it is. And God is who he is.
And fear is profitable when channeled properly.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling… (Phil. 2:12)
When I start to fear my big God, that stands over all world problems – I find peace. I find hope. I find resolve.
Hope that looks like:
He will save us from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover us with his feathers, and under his wings we will find refuge; his faithfulness will be our shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. (Ps. 91:3-6)
Open your eyes and turn from darkness to light, from the dominion of Satan to God, makes way for forgiveness of sins and a secure inheritance among the sanctified (Acts 28:18).
Protect us, God will. Because he loves, he will rescue. Why? Because we acknowledge his name. We will call on him and he will answer. He will be with us in trouble. He will deliver us as we honor him. As we satisfy him all of our days, he will show his salvation to us (Ps 91:14-16).
Eternal glory in Christ Jesus will be ours, after we have suffered a little while, for he will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Pet. 5:10
Hope that leads to RESOLVE. RESOLVE to believe. RESOLVE to stand, no matter what. RESOLVE with fear. But, RESOLVE, nonetheless. Not in a fake way, not in a shallow way, not in a comfortable way, but in a I-can-only-do-it-with-you way. In a you-won’t-abandon-me-way. In a if-I-stay-in-your-truth-you-have-me-covered-way.
Reaching to a God who saves. Expecting him to fulfill his promises. Searching for his teaching amidst the terror. Obedient to his steady promises above wavering feelings. Leading our mind to his dwelling not the dwelling of the agonizing, torturing and demoralizing. Vindicating and convicting, left to him. Entering the holy dwelling place of the Spirit to reside with the comforter, the leader, the teacher and speaker of all truth.
Resolve in the name of Jesus. Resolve in the name of true belief. Solid gold, unbendable, unbreakable and untorchable belief. Believe that he is protector. Believe he is mightier. Believe he is more powerful.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
Time takers. Kids.
Sometimes, the days feel more like I am stuck in an epic disaster than a classic romance story. I battle to push away wars not bubbles, tears not swing seats and fears not frozen stances of awe. Often, I feel like I am a baby entering a battlefield unprepared, rather than a soldier entering in with the arsenal of the Pinterest mommy.
Then, I feel guilty for being bad.
I feel the burden of being the deadbeat mom.
I feel shaken by the small blowups regarding small circles of cereal.
Before you say things to me, my mom friends. I know stuff.
I know stuff like:
Even though my heart longs for the quiet tenderness of God’s arms, God’s arms extend to the disheveled mayhem of my day.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)
A moms job is her highest calling.
Got it. And thank you for that.
Now that we have that out of the way, can I be honest with you for a second? Can I ask you one honest, woman-to-woman question?
Why did God take woman and tell her to be still with him,
only to throw her to the wolves of toddlerism?
Why does he seemingly remove peace with God
to replace it with war with kids?
My heart has taken these questions, ripped them apart, shred by shred, and sat with the fragments of ugly reality. The shards, torn even more apart by my apparent inability.
And, I realize…
Sitting in the center of shards – is just where God wants me. Sitting in the center of shards – is where God’s repair is found. Sitting in the center of shards – is sitting in the center of needy,
the place where he knows first-aid is crucial.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Is. 40:29
God doesn’t tell me to buck up and press on,
he tells me to hunker down and cry out like a child.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 18:3
He whispers, “Hand me the shards.
I will knit together a house called holy.”
“Hurry up and tantrum before me,
and I will calm your worst fears.”
“You don’t have to look like a Christmas portrait of excellence,
because I am your excellence.”
I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor. 12:10
God doesn’t leave the mess, their mess, our mess and call it an abomination to all his white-laced glory. He looks at it to say, “Dear child, don’t miss it, you are standing in the midst of my glory. And I love how you run to receive my help.”
Carry on, friends, carry on.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
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?
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.