This thing, this terrible thing that I have struggled with for years, is something I cannot seem to shake.
So what is a girl to do?
I did what any good church-going gal would do. I signed up for every single bible study, every retreat, and any and every special session. All the things, I believed would help me finally understand why I don’t do what I like, but instead, do what I hate.
Among my friends and acquaintances, I was known for my devotion to the study. The study of that which they believed was an adoration for my God, but in reality was a desperate attempt to finally break free.
Bible Study Sister.
A Proverbs-31 woman.
I did all the things. The things that were suggested, the things I believed were essential to 1. Freedom. 2. Worthiness.
Yes, I believed I must earn my salvation, and when I finally achieved this worthiness, maybe then I would be able to overcome this thing. The thing, the thing that I cannot seem to get over, that I cannot leave behind.
Perfection evades me. As much as I love order and perfection, I love this … this monster I call my sin.
What would I do with my time, with my mind, if not for the sin I tend to?
So back I went to my studies, with my highlighters, fancy pens and markers. The bible bag I carry with all my tools has a fancy cross embroidered on the front. It is decorated with pins asking “what would Jesus do?” But as much as I study, as much as having memorized, I swear.. I do not know.
I did not know what Jesus would do.
And I could not figure out how to be just like Him.
Truth be told, no matter how much I dedicated to the study of my sin, the sin was all I knew. And then a friend brought this to my attention.
I wanted to write the girl a message of encouragement, but felt… embarrassment.
It wasn’t that I did anything horrifically wrong in the past. I handled our interactions the way I believed God wanted me to. But I didn’t know if she thought I did so well. There were some tensions. This bothered me. Greatly.
I hate tension.
So, I kept testing the waters. I sent her little messages, trying to gauge her emotions as it pertained to me.
I didn’t get much back. Blank messages. Which irritated and inflamed my injuries even more.
The idea that she didn’t like me made me imagine her spreading the word to everyone that I was:
It made my heart twist, tie and snap almost like raw rope.
They all hate me, miscategorize me and misunderstand me.
Perhaps I unfriend them first. I must push all them away.
Have people hurt you in this same way? Misunderstanding your motives? Misconstruing your efforts? Ruining relationships?
My friends, what strikes me today is: Jesus.
Jesus was offended. Jesus was misunderstood. Jesus was miscatagorized. Jesus was taken to trial, when he wasn’t guilty. Jesus was hurt, when he didn’t do anything wrong.
Jesus knows these feelings. He also knows the depths of our heart. He knows the cry of our pain. He knows our little schemes to make things right. And most importantly, I believe He knows…
There is a time to speak.
A time for space.
A time for prayer.
A time for grace.
A time for (Add yours here)
And, ALWAYS a time to love, unconditionally, without strings attached.
What is God calling you to?
In order to accomplish #5, we often have to lean on God to see which specific response (see: #1-5), He is calling us to. Sometimes, the best way to love someone who is against you is to just pray for her. Sometimes, the best way to breakthrough is to see life through their eyes. Sometimes, the best way to reconcile is giving space so God can heal their heart. Sometimes, the best way to love is to just let things go and trust God to be faithful to defend you, restore you, renew you and reestablish what was lost, over time.
But never is there a time to let fear be our driver. Fear steals what God is working out in faith. We cannot permit this. It moves us from free-to-love to chained-by-fear. It keeps us endlessly worried rather than expectantly wondering what our Almighty God will do next. Fear always is a failing mission.
Never should we do in fear what God welcomes us to do with unfailing love.
What no-strings-attached love is God calling you to unleash today?
Remember Bam Bam? He was the prehistoric cartoon baby who walked around with a bat.
Well, I feel like mean Bam Bam is chasing after me out of nowhere. He’s trying to make me go starry-eyed, hitting me over the head with questions.
What I you’re not really good enough for God? Bam.
What if you do things wrong and you eternally offend God? Bam.
What if you don’t save yourself from your problems and end up unwanted? Bam.
Bam Bam attacks. How is He attacking you? Make no mistake, although he may be sneaky, Bam Bam is our enemy. He is. He chases our heels with questions of what if.
What if God doesn’t really love you?
What if you really did mess up your kids forever?
What if you can’t ever change?
What if that person never changes?
What if you lose your house, your family, your dreams, your salvation?
We have to stand up to Bam Bam. It is the only way. We have to speak back at Him and chase him in the other direction with evil-repelling truth: God’s promises that make him run scared.
“His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Ps. 91:4
If you have a personal Bam Bam, talk back. Fight back with promises, such as:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Eph. 2:8
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 Jo. 4:18
“So then, it does not depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Ro. 9:16
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will certainly not cast out.” –Jesus, Jo. 6:37
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned…” Jo. 3:17
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Jo. 10:28
Take whatever is fighting against you and be like Jesus when he was tempted in the wilderness. (see Mark 4:1-11) Fight back with truth. Done. Period. Adios Bam Bam. We’re not listening to you anymore!
So recently a friend of mine passed away. His name was Steve. He was 39. He left behind a wife, Gayla and 3 young kids…Joseph (8), Hanna (6) and Karleigh (4). He battled Cancer for the last 2 years. Boy, did he battle! He fought the good fight and indeed finished the race. He lived and died well.
I babysat for Gayla’s sister in law the week before he died. Her mother recently passed away from Cancer as well. We had a conversation about the tension we live in as citizens of Heaven. Her mother was desiring to go to Heaven, but she was sad for the family she was leaving behind.
Losing loved ones is never easy, but if we are in Christ, we get to have an eternal perspective that the world desperately needs. This perspective brings us and the hurting world around us encouragement like nothing else can.
We are made for Heaven.
“…but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20
No matter how comfortable we are here, here is not home. It was never intended to be home. Our 80, 90 or 100 years here on earth pale in comparison to the length of eternity. Here, is preparation for there. The lives we live, the fruit we produce, the souls we impact, all carry eternal weight. In our every day, this truth brings joy. But, when we’re faced with the loss of a loved one, there is a bit of sadness attached. That’s okay. God can handle our sadness or anger or confusion. All He desires is that we lay that at His feet and allow Him to work in our hearts in order to gain His perspective.
Healing doesn’t always come how we envision it.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
Here’s the thing…healing comes in many forms. It comes at different times. God is sovereign and omniscient. He is the author and sustainer of life. Unfortunately, we don’t get to decide when or how healing should happen. That’s hard for me. If you’re like me, you want to know oh so far in advance how circumstances will play out. Most of the time, that is not how the Lord works. He gets to do that, because He is the Creator and we are the created.
When loss occurs, this truth doesn’t tend to be fun or something we easily embrace. We must hold fast to the fact that He knows the end from the beginning. He knows what outcome will bring Him the most glory and bring others closer to Himself. We need to trust that His ways truly are higher and He wants nothing but good for us.
Our hope is not in the healing, but in the Healer.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
Healing is amazing! It’s amazing when you are the one healed and it’s amazing when your loved one is. But healing is not the goal. It should never be the goal. The goal is always and has always been Jesus. He is the source of all life, salvation, healing and hope. Healing comes and it goes. But Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. If our hope is found in Him alone, we will never be disappointed or defeated with how a situation turns out.
We believe for healing in ourselves and our loved ones. We pray for it. We align with God’s word about it. But, we anchor our hope in His character and His deep love for us.
Sometimes hope and healing hurt when what we hope for doesn’t come to fruition, but all is not lost. Hope is available to us. Hope’s name is Jesus.
Share with me a situation in your life in which hope and healing are hurting. I’d love to pray for you!
About Karina Allen
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.”
Recently some good friends of ours had a prayer, a very important prayer, go unanswered. Well, perhaps it was answered in a way that they have yet to see. Now, in this moment, it feels unanswered. They feel as though they were not heard. They are left to grieve.
Folks offer their opinions.
“It wasn’t God’s will…”
“He has something else in mind…”
“There’s a lesson here…”
As I sat with my friend over tepid, half drunk cups of English Breakfast, I listened to her lament her devastation. Not just loss, but the loss and the unanswered pleas for help to her Father in Heaven.
“Good Father?” She is left to wonder.
The conundrum of the unanswered prayer is the mystery of why we stay Believers. Why stay in love with a mysterious Higher Power who sometimes fails to use that power to dig us out… to save?
Furthermore, surely there is a human explanation? A method to the madness, a reason for this season where it seemed like such a simple request? A request that would have increased faith, instead of shattering it. Still, I sat. I listened to my friend. Her voice cracked with grief, heartbreak shattered her disputes.
She had been faithful.
She did not know how to regain what she had lost in the midst of the catastrophe – in this season of unanswered prayer.
This is the dark space. This is the place where we want to offer encouragement, but often our words seem empty, and even we, who still believe, do not understand.
Let Jesus be Jesus.
This is a new mantra of mine. For so long I have wanted someone to be able to explain Jesus to me. The last shall be first, the first shall be last. Take out your eye, cut off your hand, go and sin no more. We could go round and round. But honestly, sometimes the best answer is simply, “I just don’t know.”
Is this when the greatest wisdom is the wisdom that comes from Him fully revealing Himself as good?
I know who I think I know Him to be.
I know Him. I love Him. But I can’t make you know Him or understand Him through my simple explanations. Nor, can I fully explain the depth of Him, although I often feel protective and I feel I must defend Him.
Well, yes maybe. Maybe when a prayer goes unanswered we are just as desperate to explain the “why not” to comfort ourselves too?
And this is where especially as a wordsmith who set out to write about unanswered prayer, the challenge erupts.
A place of quiet and wait. A gap, a searching – a longing for answers that can only come in waves of revelation from the One who died so that we might live and experience a peace that surpasses all understanding.
Jesus be Jesus… show up, and be Jesus.
Show up and show us how to make sense out of the senseless. Show up and be Jesus, because no one else will do.
The best answer.
The hardest belief.
The easiest yes.
I don’t know why some prayers are not answered. I refuse to try and reveal something about Him – for my explanation would fall short. But the Word promises if we ask… if we seek, if we knock… and I still believe.
The way, the Truth, and the Life.
Is there any possibility He won’t reveal Himself?
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
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 on Facebook or Twitter.
A boat is what you float around in so you don’t get wet. It is what takes you safely from one place to another. It is what feels comfortable. It is the go-to way to get where you want to go when you’re not on land. It is what brings you to where you want to go by your own driving efforts.
It’s an easy way. A man-driven way. Walking on water is a hard way. It requires God.
What would it look like to get out of your boat? To give God a chance to do the miraculous? To answer Jesus’ call to, “Come,” by putting yourself out there in ways that look risky?
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. (Mt. 14:28-29)
Notice, before you can ever walk on water, you have to get out of your boat. You have to get out of your boat, despite the high waves, the strong winds and the boat that’s tossing to-and-fro.
You have to do what Peter did and say, “So what? God is bigger than this stuff around me.”
What is your boat? Is it reactionary tactics that keep your heart safe from people who may hurt you? Is it manipulative words? Is it compulsive tendencies? Is it rote prayers? Is it going to church on Sunday but staying far from God on the weekdays? Is it a heart shut down to your husband?
We all have our boats. Mine is the fear I’ll go the wrong way and somehow not do right by God.
So what? Even if I fear I might not do right by Him, does that mean I stop writing? Or, do I get out of my boat and trust he will, “rescue those who love me and protect those who trust in my name.” (Ps. 91:14) Indeed, I don’t shut down. I hop out da’ boat. I write and trust Him to take care of my soul.
To hop off the boat is powerful. Because it makes us see Jesus right before us. It puts us in a place of reliance, where all our soul needs — is Him. He is our only hope. I believe this type of walk is beautiful to God. It removes the waste on the left and the right and teaches our mind to need Him, Jesus.
How is God calling you, right now, to hop out of your boat and to need Him? Do it. It just might turn into the greatest miracle of your life.
Catastrophe hit my family, and while I can’t go into the details here, I can assure you it shredded my heart. It scared me silly and caused me to release tirades on people I love. I am not as good as you think I am. Nor am I as good as I thought I was. I’m a whole lot worse.
Yet, through this there’s a hidden blessing: I see how much I need Jesus. His light. Because apart from Him, my thoughts are dark.
Getting to this thought is freedom.
Jesus came “to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” (Jo. 9:39)
Apart from the nature of Jesus (love, kindness, goodness, truth, nobility, purity, loveliness, excellence, wisdom, humility or gratefulness) all I see is darkness. Worthlessness. Vanity. Diversions. Fear. Voids. Schemes. Faking. Swirling tornadoes of emotions that lead to an inward focus, plus a generalized sense God won’t come through.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Mt. 6:22
The choice is ours. . .
Light or dark?
Dark or light?
Reliant on the Living Water?
Departing from Him?
All Jesus, all the time?
Or me, myself, and I, all the time?
While our world hates calling things one way or another and we tend to desire shades of safety, sometimes one-way-or-the-other choices are exactly what God ordered.
What will you choose to be:
Or on fire?
All things hope, all things faith, all the time…not done with perfection, but certainly done from a heart of dedication?
What if we were to choose to see faith, hope and love activated by the grace of God, as we. . .
Pick our kids up from school.
Respond to annoying people.
Grab the bills from the mailbox.
Go to that doctor’s appointment.
Contemplate our yeses and nos.
Let go of our defenses.
Seek His guidance.
Deal with unanswered prayers.
Confront our emotions.
Go to sleep.
What if we chose to really believe?
“Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses.” Heb. 11:1 AMP
I have very good intentions to meet daily with God. As much as I can, I carve out morning time to spend with him. Most mornings, I put him first when I wake up. Although not lately.
This burdens me. Jesus is seed for my life. I either grow life, or…I don’t.
Many of us find seeds thrown down, but as shown in Matthew 13, one of these 4 things happens:
1. The birds eat them after they were thrown on the path.
The enemy comes and gets you caught in discouragement, despair or doubt. He steals clarity regarding this word and replaces it with confusion. Nothing takes root.
2. They fall on shallow soil with rock underneath. Plants spring up quickly, then die in the sun because they don’t go deep.
Your heart is not prepared to embrace it and the insecurity and worry underneath prevents it from growing. Trials become issues that cut off the life God wants to grow. Nothing takes deep root, so you fall over when heavy winds come.
3. Thorns choke out the tender growth.
Distractions of the world (phone notifications, schedules, agendas, television, worries and worldly pursuits) crowd out the faith, hope and love God desires to grow within you.
4. They grow deep into fertile soil.
Deep within you, roots grow. They reach not just the surface level of your being, but the inner heart-places of your being. They change you from the inside out with true and lasting transformation.
To let God in you, into the deep, is to have your life deeply changed.
What can you do to cultivate fertile ground? How can you prepare your heart to receive the best of God?
Here are a couple ideas and resources…
1. Seek God with humility: Be prepared to have him point out areas in your life He wants to change.
2. Get a good daily devotional. For example, I am a contributor to the 365-day (in)Courage devotional called, “A Moment to Breathe.” It is a great way to start your day from the place of the heart. Learn more.
3. Look for God. Take notice of themes and of moves of God in your life. He may be calling you to something or re-teaching you something he really wants you to grasp.
4. Yield to His ways. Rather than pushing forward with what seems right (see: #3), go with what God says is right and let him teach you through your discomfort along the way.
Fertile hearts get deep roots that keep standing during the worst of storms. The high winds and trials of life can’t knock them over.
About “A Moment to Breathe”
With 365 readings, from 80 writers (including myself) each day begins with a passage of Scripture, tells a story of everyday faith, and encourages you to take a moment to breathe with a simple but fun way to complete your day. So kick off your shoes and join us for a relaxing but special time, where friends come together and share the real stuff of everyday faith.
God, I can’t even trust myself sometimes, how can you trust me?
my ability to be deceived in the smallest way
my pride that so often fools me.
“God, do you really love me? How much?”
Do you love me when I forget you? Do you love me when I yell at my kids? Do you love me when I go the wrong way? Accidentally hurt you? God, do you really love me?
As if God answered my very prayers back, these questions came to mind…
Kelly, how could you have experienced so much freedom (release of fear, anxiety, worry), aside from my love?
(What freedom has God brought you within the space of his love?)
Kelly, how could I call you and not want you?
(In what ways has God called you to things, only He could?)
Kelly, how could I not love you after sending my son to suffer and die for you, as He did?
(In what ways does Jesus suffering cast new light on God’s love for you?)
Kelly, how could I abandon myself in you?
(How would God abandon his own Spirit within you? Sounds impossible.)
God loves me. He loves you.
Even when life breaks down…or people do…
Even when fears tumult all around…or uncertainties do…
Even when answers to questions do not abound…and problems still exist…
Still. Even then, His love still works. It pursues. It remains. It saves. It quiets rambunctious hearts. It sings over us. It moves on our behalf.
“The LORD your God is in your midst… a mighty one who will save… he will rejoice over you with gladness… he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17).”
What we have…the lengths, heights and depths of His love, cannot be stolen, removed or relinquished.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ro. 8:37-39).”
You, as a daughter, are in God’s love.
You are secure.
It was a Thanksgiving I’ll never forget. We gathered around a beautiful table and grasped hands for prayer. As I lifted my head and glanced across the table, I locked eyes with my dad, who had just been diagnosed with head and neck cancer. The incision on his neck was still healing and the extensive surgery to his mouth was so extreme it was hard for him to form words.
I tried to hold back the tears, but the sight of suffering was too much. I let the tears flow. We all did. No longer was Thanksgiving about the delicious turkey or pumpkin pie. Dad couldn’t eat any of it.
This Thanksgiving Day was different. It was a day to truly grasp hold of the people around the table and be grateful for their presence. We didn’t rave about the food or brag on the cook. We focused on each other this time.
We learned so many difficult lessons that year. We learned to live beyond the normal routines and traditions, and find joy in just being together.
We learned patience and strength as we watched dad struggle to speak and learn to eat again. We learned life is brief and you truly never know when you will sit around the table for the last time. We learned life is worth fighting for, even when it feels like the end is near. We learned to take our time and sit around the table for more than just the food.
Thanksgiving is always a time to remember and be grateful. But it’s taken on a new meaning for us. It’s still about gathering and gratefulness, but it’s more about who is seated around the table.
The seating arrangement changes from year to year, but I’m looking forward to glancing across the table at a cancer-free dad this year. And when I look at him this time, I will thank God for all we’ve been through because it bonds us, binds us, and brings us back to the table, stronger.
We might shed a tear or two, but what I’m looking forward to most is being together.
Who will you share Thanksgiving with this year? Let’s grasp hands and promise to be thankful for those seated at our table, for we never know when it’s our last chance to love, listen, and lean on each other.
Thriving through the hard times isn’t something that comes easy to any of us, but Micah has discovered the key to living a life full of God’s power when our circumstances make us feel power-less. You can find out more about Micah’s new book Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World at micahmaddox.com.
BIO: Micah Maddox is a women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, writer, blogger, and author of Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World. She is passionate about helping women find purpose, peace, and calm in our chaotic world. As a pastor’s wife and mother of three, she contributes her time to her local church – including serving as a women’s ministry leader.