Last night, I told my son, “Don’t get out of bed after I put you to sleep or we won’t be able to eat pie for breakfast.”
An hour later he was downstairs and next to me. It broke my heart. The fun of eating the mud pie we prepared the night before – for a breakfast party while my husband was out of town, was now going to have to be rescheduled. I wanted to give, but now I had to take away.
For many of us, we believe God is always taking away just like I did from my son. We believe God is constantly removing goodness from our life, food from our table and providence for our future – because, we figure, we are messing up somehow.
It is easy to fall into this mind of thinking: I must have done something wrong. God is angry at me. I’ll never be blessed. I’ll always be stuck.
Yet, looking at the Word of God, paints a much different picture. I hope these verses encourage you. I pray they remind you what a provider God is. You can never fall out of his love.
12 Verses to Remind You: God will Provide
And my God will fully supply your every need according to his glorious riches in the Messiah Jesus. (Phil. 4:19)
Pop Quiz: What is 1 thing you likely take for granted, yet could bring monumental joy, growth and connection if paid attention to it?
Answer: Your marriage.
Friends, most days I hardly look at it: I rush through breakfast, trying to start my day; I give a little hello near the Keurig; I listen and quickly respond; I go through the bare-bottom motions, trying to make sure I’m at least good enough to get by; I get ready to watch TV instead of to connect; I respond based on my own opinions, rather than hearing his; I focus on the kids and then remember he’s there too.
Uh-oh. Can I admit to you all? I am not the model wife.
And, while it pains me to write this, I have found such encouragement in the book, “A Wife’s Secret to Happiness” by Jen Weaver.
Right off, in the first chapter, her words meet my heart: “God will not call us anywhere his presence does not go with us,” she says, “He will not ask us to do what he has not equipped us to complete. The Lord longs to lead our marriages into spacious place, interwoven with his peace and strength…the day you made your vows He participated in an active agreement, invisible, yet majestic in glory.”
Thank you, God…we are not doing this thing called marriage alone. The Creator of our universe is creating something new, as we listen, go and respond with him. He is working within the confines of our arguments, annoyances, and mishaps to create space, love and peace. Bring it, God! I need that.
To ignite his power, one question remains: Will we let him in to work – by listening, seeking and following or will we continue doing the same ‘ole stuff?
What does it look like to let Him work?
I’m finding, it’s:
Prayer over panic.
Listening rather than responding in flesh.
Trusting God’s timeline to change, rather than my own.
Seeking to notice his good, before his bad.
Jen Weaver breaks down specific ways to see these high and lofty goals through (Thanks Jen!):
Write down index card prayers. Carry them with you.
Ask God to bless your husband right when you’re in the heat of battle.
Remind yourself to welcome God’s presence. Put reminders around your house with verses.
Scribe 5 pain points you have about your marriage. Bring them to God and ask them how he wants you to work them out.
Remind yourself, through scripture, how God has been there for you and won’t abandon you now.
Marriages that work, take work. If I’ve learned anything – it’s this. But, I’ve also learned, when God is at work, things seamlessly fall into place. Like Tetris. Bing! Connection happens.
Where do you need to let God take the lead? How might he want to put things together again? How might his small nudges be leading you to a greater outpouring of love?
Love that looks like:
A listening ear.
An open fist.
A generous portion of time.
An opening of your whole heart.
A letting down of guard.
A soft-spoken word.
An offering of grace.
A handing-over to God (Re: the past).
An excitement for the future.
Reliance on the Sustainer, Overcomer, and Creator.
Wherever God is calling you – if you step in, He’ll meet you there.
The two girls, in position, knew their job. They steadied their bent knees for the small gymnast to climb up and, before not too long, they supported her with their strong arms as she stood tall. Victory!
The girl at the top was tall. Radiant. Glowing.
But, what about the women at the bottom? I can’t help but think, no one really likes being at the bottom. In the place without glory. In the place, unseen. In the place not valuable.
We find that place hard. It is hard to:
– Encourage a person who speaks with a tone of meanness.
– Pray for the girl you’re always sizing up.
– Be generous to one who already has so much.
– Give precious time to the neighbor who needs help with the groceries.
– Tell the truth when no one is looking or when it could hurt someone.
– Praise others, even when we feel they are better than us.
– Acknowledge and praise Jesus on hard days.
– Get on bended knee when our finances, future and relationships all are tumbling around us.
– To work hard onto the Lord even when you have a horrible boss or a critical husband.
But, getting in the position of bended knee, with the goal to lift high is tremendously valuable. Just think, how would that small gymnast find her position if no one lifted her?
Are we willing to lift Jesus, no matter how difficult it is not to be seen?
Will we lift the one who:
– Left the riches and glory of eternal paradise.
– Was born in a stable.
– Rode in on a donkey.
– Took our every whip and lash.
Jesus reminds us we can. He reminds us the value of losing our self to find something far greater. He died to his flesh, so we could come alive in our soul.
A lot of times, we must do the same: Die to our flesh, to come alive to our soul. Die to our flesh, to help others come alive in their soul.
The sun shone bright in the kitchen the day I realized I had no one I could call. Standing at the counter, slicing a pear into bite-sized pieces for my 10-month-old firstborn, I’d instead sliced my finger. I stood silent at the sink, letting water wash over the wound and watching blood swirl in the basin. After bandaging my finger, I reached down for my son, placed him in his highchair, spread the pears on his tray, and in what seemed the very next moment, I woke up underneath the kitchen table. I had fainted, and it felt as if my brain was rebooting after being switched off. My body felt clammy and weak, and as I lay there, immobile, my initial panic subsided as I heard the happy gurgles of my boy, safe with his pears.
It was then that the thought intruded: Who will I call to come help me? I did not have an answer, because I did not have a friend. The knife had opened my finger, but it seemed to have opened a far greater wound, a wound I’d tried desperately to ignore, hide, and resist–the wound of loneliness.
At that time, I was a young pastor’s wife, a young mother, and young in my understanding of God’s grace. When I picture myself in those years, I think of myself in two places: in my home and all tangled up in my own head.
After college, I’d waited for friends to appear, as they’d appeared in every other era of my life–through youth group and band and softball teams and housemates. And they, in fact, hadn’t appeared. I felt as if I’d forgotten how to do friendship and wondered if I was no longer friend-able. In my insecurity, I remained isolated, both in my home and in my head.
I remember hoping another mother would invite me out after morning Bible study. I remember desiring one of the older pastor’s wives to take me under her wing. After my pear-eating boy received a devastating diagnosis, I remember wishing others would intentionally step into my shoes and walk with me, tell me what to do, or care for me in some way.
I was lonely for a friend.
Many women are, I know this now. Many feel forever on the outside. Many have been hurt by other women, so they intentionally stay on the outside so as not to be hurt again. And many feel their genuine attempts at friendship have produced little fruit.
Friendship is not as simple as we’ve been led to believe. But here’s something else I now know: loneliness isn’t always as complex as we’ve been led to believe either.
Sometimes Loneliness is a Gift from God.
Whether we’re new to a neighborhood or a church, whether a good friend has moved away or died, or whether a once close friendship has shifted, any type of change or separation can arouse a sense of loneliness and longing in our hearts. When we have them, we long for healthy relationships and happy life circumstances to remain static. We long for deep community and a sense of belonging. We long for the good old days when friendships came easy and we could enjoy those friends without all the adult responsibilities and burdens mixed in.
Longing is not a misplaced desire. In fact, the longing for friendship is a good one. How we pursue or respond to that longing, however, is important. We must remember that perfect relationships and perfect community and perfect circumstances do not exist on this side of eternity. Knowing that life and friendship will always be imperfect helps us embrace what we do have as grace and gift, even if the current gift is aloneness.
Our aloneness is a gift because it teaches us to turn our desires to the Lord in prayer and swells our hearts with a hope and eagerness for our true home with Jesus. Sometimes God may love us best by calling us to aloneness, precisely so that He can meet us intimately in a time when He has our full attention. We can be at peace with our aloneness, knowing that we have access to God and can cast all our cares and desires upon Him. Because all is gift and grace, we can wait in aloneness with eager expectation of how God might also give us the gift and grace of togetherness.
Sometimes Loneliness is Self-Imposed
Curiously, many of us seem to be standing beside one another, holding identical longings for friendship yet resolutely believing we’re alone in them. The truth is we aren’t actually wandering alone; we’re practically tripping over each other as we grasp at our dreams of friendship that is perfect and easy. These ideal dreams of friendship are often created and watered in our loneliness, and these dreams produce bitterness as we begin demanding from others and from God according to our exacting standards.
I certainly speak from experience. As I look back at my twenties, I see a lonely girl with a stubborn wish-dream. I see a lonely girl because of the stubborn wish-dream. A friend, according to my dream, would have been in her twenties (like me), been married and had children (like me), and understood what ministry entailed (like me). At the same time, I was afraid to ask for help, afraid to initiate, and deathly afraid of being vulnerable. I wanted the gift, but I was unwilling to do anything to receive or unwrap it.
I did pray, and I did cry. And all throughout that time, God was answering. He was good to me in my aloneness; He was the friend who was constantly present. But He was also answering with real people, imperfect people (like me), who lived beside me and went to church with me and who were a few steps ahead and behind me. I see this now, but at the time I couldn’t see past my wish-dream, my standards, and all my bitter longings. If I’d just looked around and if I’d just have been willing to take a few risks of vulnerability and initiation, I would have experienced the answer God was trying to give me.
That’s what I learned that day when the knife cut my finger and opened my heart. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anyone I could call; it was that I was afraid to call. It was that I would have rather drowned in self-sufficiency and isolation than risk reaching out or admitting my loneliness.
Are you lonely for a friend? Loneliness is nothing to be ashamed of; turn to God with your deepest desires and needs. While His love is steady and sure, know that nothing is constant about our relationships with one another–there will be times of abundance as well as times of aloneness. Cultivate a heart posture that receives both aloneness and togetherness as gift and grace. Perhaps this will give you fresh eyes for the women there all around you.
Christine Hoover is a pastor’s wife, mom to three boys, a speaker, and the author of several books, including From Good to Grace, and her latest, Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships.
When Christine and her family moved from Texas to Charlottesville, Virginia in 2008 to plant a church, she got a much-needed re-do on making and deepening friendships. She now loves to help other women discover the surprising reasons friendship often eludes them, and she also loves helping them find the community they crave.
God, please teach me not to judge. Please. Teach. Me. Not. To. Judge.
Not…to judge the mom at the coffee store who is looking at her phone
when all her toddler wants is her undivided attention. I do that myself.
Not my husband who is tired when he walks through the door and is looking for rest. I always want what he requests, but I am terrified to admit it.
Not the driver who nearly side-swiped me last week and then gave me a dirty look. I nearly drove a car off the road and into shoulder this morning.
Not the woman I consider self-indulgent, self-seeking and far too self-interested. Many a day, I’ve tried to dress so well, so right, to look perfect. I want to be seen.
Not the family member who is always letting me down, getting under my skin. God, you really do know, my timely, ordered ways could drive anyone nuts.
Not the person who believes, politically, things far more different and strange than I. I’ve never walked a day in their shoes.
Not the person I look nothing like. Just because they don’t reflect me,Jesus, doesn’t mean they don’t reflect you.
Not the person making every single wrong decision in the book. I made so many bad decisions, I nearly killed myself way back when, but still, hope was never lost.
Not the one who offends me and continually tries to drive me nuts. Before I run forward with insults, I should remember they likely have a background of pain.
Not me, and all the hundreds of ways I’m offensive. I let you down all the time, but immediately, Jesus, you toss my offenses on the flip-side of this world when I say, “Sorry.”
Just as much as they are developing, I am too… We are too…
Our stories are complex. Our growth is slow. Our faith is increasing. You’ve planned it this way, God. It takes trust, piles of it. And, space, room to make allowance for others and ourselves.
Yet, when we run to cast labels, decisions, verdicts and opinions on people, we steal this space. We steal the space you’ve given us to observe. Don’t let me steal the wonder of your works. You are working something. You are moving as you will. As I give leeway, you give way to the wonderful work you’ve always intended to do.
When I fill it that space with negativity, captivity, critiques and prognoses, I steal peace, growth, hope and new life. I don’t want my mind, heart and soul filled with these degrading and base motives. What a waste! What a rip-off for them and me!
Stop me from doing that.
God, give me patience to lift others, rather than to hate them.
God, give me eyes to see your beauty in them; it is always there.
God, give me a mouth that affirms differences, not one that pushes them aside.
God, make me into a peace-maker, not a finger-pointer.
God, make me aware of my faults, so I don’t ever believe I’m too good for your calling.
God, make me need others, so I never stand above them.
God, strengthen humility, erase my pride.
God, show me the low road, so I can lift others high.
God, soften my impulses and slow down my need to decide.
God, open a door so I can walk much-needed love inside.
God, soften my heart so I can bridge great divides.
God, remove my tough skin, so you can sink inside.
Pots and pans where flung everywhere. I didn’t really know what I was doing, except I knew dinner needed to get on that table, before the two screaming heads even more flipped a lid. Move faster, Kelly.
I tried to maneuver around the crumbs and grease that were splattered everywhere. I tried to manage a deep conversation with my husband while pulling the salmon out of the oven. I threw it on the stove, checked the hardness of the fish (yep…rock-solid, alright) and then proceeded to grabb the handle with my bare hand….Yeee-oww!!!!
I burnt the living-cells right off my palm of my hand.
I’ve decided, in manic-mode, I do dumb things.
I guess you could say this is a theme in my life.
Manic-mode at work: I’d rush so fast, I’d send the “I am so frustrated at my boss” email not to my co-worker two cubes over, but directly to him.
Manic-mode in the car: I pulled out so fast out of school, I crush metal like it’s nobody’s business. Car’s totaled.
Manic-mode with kids: I fear someone is going to fall in the bathroom, so I lean over to shut the door with a baby in hand and her toe gets slammed. It busts wide open. Baby gets stitches at the ER.
My heart longs for manic-mode, sometimes. I don’t know what is wrong with me? It’s like somehow I think I am more productive there, like the hot-flashes of anxiety are going to produce something, like more will get done and somehow I’ll end up being recognized as the shining star mom of the universe. It never happens.
What is it producing? Burnt hands. Angry bosses. Ruined cars. Babies with stitches. Internal frustration. Residual guilt. Kitchens left half cleaned up because I’m either dealing with the likes of insurance agencies, ER rooms or burn marks. FAIL.
What is manic-mode producing in your life? Where do you see it show up? Why do you chase it?
I think I believe if I rush, the loud sounds of my life will hush and I’ll make space for peace. Like, I’ll run to the destination real fast and then I’ll have time left over to chill there. To lay down. It doesn’t work that way, I’m learning.
“My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Ex. 33:14
To make peace, it works much more like this:
You ask God to be with you through everything.
You trust him to be with you through everything.
You don’t become a marathon sprinter.
You look out for God to be with you through everything.
you still don’t let yourself become a marathon sprinter.
You notice God be with you through everything.
You find some peace, and even some rest, through the process.
Why? Because He’s taking lead. The destination is not your destination, but God is the destination. And, when God is the destination, you’ve arrived.
I am annoyed one way or another, yet seeking more.
I am discouraged by people, circumstances or problems and attempting to see things through new light.
I am thrown off, but working my way back to God.
Many days, I’ve used this blog as a counseling session. I like it this way: I come with issues – God comes with strength. I come weak – the Lord comes strong enough to change me. I come needy, he comes increasingly ready to feed me.
This is our power, coming weak. This is our life change, coming needy. This is our faith, being reliant.
God answers this approach.
But, I don’t want you to ever think, not for a moment, that I am not entirely thankful. You see, my posture of leaning on him, almost always, helps me discover how he holds me up. It reminds me that, every time, he is faithful. It helps me see that through every bump in the road, He’s the shocks softening the jolting impact of life. He smooths my ride.
I call. He answers as I keep seeking.
I cry. He catches my tears when I focus my mind on him.
I am in pain. He understands and draws near as I pursue his Word.
I need. As I wait (which sometimes feels like forever), He faithfully and, in his timing, rushes in.
He’ll do the same for you.
What kind of grief do you need to lean up against him to know he is strong enough to hold it?
The counselor waits.
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
Maybe, like me, you’ll come out from an eating disorder, depression, financial trials, huge health issues or relational problems, thankful, in awe, and amazed at what he just saved you from – if you’ll just turn in.
Before you know it, He’ll work: soften your edges, sand off your rough spots, make space for his movement. Love and peace will come busting into your heart.
I’ve found this, after day-in-and-day-out writing on this blog…
I see God’s goodness in the land of my living grief, fear and guilt – when I run after it – hard.
What all seemed impossible, turned possible. We have the ability to reach God’s transcendent, his abundance. He loves us.
All this is the source of thanksgiving. As God enters the nitty gritty, the down and dirty of your life, you can’t help but lift your arms, lift your voice and give a good shout out to his character.
Today, I am thankful. What might you need to offer to God, knowing that soon enough, by faith, you’ll be giving thanks to God?
I’m stumped. My heart is far from God. Problem is, I don’t know how to pull it close again. It runs off. It’s a stray dog, trying to smell it’s own pee, rather than the roses of God. It gets antsy. Pushy.
The fact of the matter is it’s a determined, distracted, annoying little thing. It tries, but, I fear, it gets it all wrong.
How do we really love God more?
We love because he first loved us. 1 Jo. 4:19
This verse teaches me, we so often have it backward. We run out to love, with nothing. What love can we give, if our love compartment is empty? What gifts can we bring, if we allowed God to wrap and deliver none within us? What can we share, when we feel empty.
God’s love in us is paramount to his love flowing out from within us. We must let in, what he desires to send out. We must open the confines of our comforts, to allow his voice, truth and life to console us first.
How? We draw up next to God.
Not like a stray dog, but like a close companion. We stay right next to his heart, because we want to hear his words, his tender mercy, and his uplifting charges. We naturally pull in tight. It only makes sense.
We do it in these 5 ways:
Get alone with God. Meet him in your place of refreshment: a walk, painting, journaling, singing, dancing, being alone.
In every situation, choose not to work hard, not to do more, but simply, to love God. Posture your heart towards him.
Imagine him delighting in you. Imagine him smiling down upon you as you invite him into the hiccups, hurdles and the down moments of your day
Seek his guidance and leading in the little decisions, the words you speak and even your thoughts. Keep returning in need and he’ll feed you with his wisdom.
Let God’s heart become yours. Do your work, do your life, allowing his goal to be yours. Let the outcome of love, rule your intentions. Let the pursuit of peace be your ultimate cause.
The more we do this, the more we realize, the story of the prodigal father, is not just a story for a wayward believer. It is a story for all of us. Each day, we stray. Each day, we go our own way. Each day, we fall away. And, each day, God waits, arms wide open waiting for us to run to him. He stands there, I believe, hoping we’ll sprint like a bullet into the fullness of his all-consuming love that eats away at what’s eating us.
His love heals our love-empty heart. His love reworks our capacity to love. His love placates our wandering soul. His love draws us home. His love sets a table for us. His love welcomes us to eat. His love sends us out into the world – full.
I wouldn’t admit this in church, but there’s one verse that continually ticks me off. It’s this: In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:6
I guess you could say I have multiple issues with it:
In all ways acknowledge God. When you acknowledge someone it’s as if you’re offering a late gesture. Like, they did something for you, and you can’t forget to bring them up, lest you feel guilty that you didn’t pay them back well enough. I mean, you certainly don’t want them to feel slighted or, even worse, to punish you afterward. “Acknowledge” plays out like an after-thought. I did all this stuff…oh, shoot, can’t forget – I’ve got to acknowledge so-and-so. It lacks authenticity.
Make straight your path. I imagine someone walking down the sidewalk, picket-in-hand, yelling in my face, “You better acknowledge God, or else! You better let him make straight your path – or you’re a goner!” This thought entirely stresses me out. It burns my insides with the fear that no matter how good of a daughter I think I am, I’m going to burn in hell one day. It somehow makes me feel like there is no good that is good enough for God. Why try?
Sitting today, just me and this verse, I decided to decode it. If I’ve learned anything it is this: If God’s Word doesn’t give you more vision, it’s probably because you’re looking at it through the wrong glasses.
God, give me new lenses to see. What does acknowledge really mean?
Yada. That’s the Hebrew word for it. It means to “come to know someone by observing, reflecting and experiencing.”
Now this makes sense.
I can almost hear God saying, “In all your ways, come to know me by observing me, by reflecting on me and experiencing me…”
And, I want to. I need to. Because to acknowledge God is to hang a welcome sign on your heart. It is to open your heart to his movement, rather than to demand your mouth to give him due credit. It is being a hostess rather than a hopeless speaker of things, even you aren’t even sure if you yet believe.
Here, there is no pressure, but peace.
No self-demands, just connection with the love of your life.
No hard work, but an easy yoke.
Less striving, more relaxing.
I feel content with the answer to my gripe #1. But what about #2?
What about the path?
God, do you yell in my face, “make straight your path, girl…or else!?
And, where God focuses my eyes, is here, on this very verse: “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Ps. 23:2-3
When we “acknowledge” or “experience” God, He sets us on a path of refreshment, restoration and righteousness. Where we are, the path is so straight, we get more of a glimpse of him at the end of our every road. Our vision, even more, focuses, targeted and clear. We know what we are running after. We see the end goal. We pursue eternity.
God is right before us. And, all we want is more. We’ve found our straight road.
Especially this week, with husband out of town and toddler girl waking nightly seeing “bad things”, repeatedly, nearly every hour – I am tired. It didn’t help she came down with pink eye, the mysterious condition that makes your eyes seep out goo that should only be reserved for icky monsters on kid cartoons. Needless to say, the goo spoke saying, “Get her to urgent care ASAP.”
Which was almost impossible because it was nearly blizzarding and pelting ice like hockey pucks. But, not entirely impossible, so we pulled on winter gear, slushed through the mush and made it, unscathed, to 3 urgent care locations. Closed. Each and every one of them. Closed. Closed. Closed.
I considered laying my head on the horn, making a SUV tribal sound, indicating to the world, “Rescue me.” I didn’t. I knew no one would come.
Upward and onward!!! Moms don’t give up. We got her meds.
Then, I got pink eye. Then, Madison got a mysterious fever only showing up during the hours of school. She got banned for 24 hours from returning. I got frustrated because every single mission I am trying to work on is getting thwarted. Every moment of time I have to do great things, is getting stolen. Every dream I am pursuing is becoming ruined by sickness and no sleep and storms and people and…the whole world is buckling, it is falling down on the sides. The box is breaking and I can’t hold it up. It isn’t listening!!!
Did I mention, I feel weak?
Jesus says, “Our flesh is weak.” (Mt. 26:41)
He knows how it goes.
He also says our “spirit is willing.” (Mt. 26:41)
“Spirit” in this case is the Greek word pneuma, our own soul or mind.
In translation, this means: Our flesh is weak and our mind is willing. Or better said, our flesh is weak and our mind tries…
Our mind tries, just like the disciples’ minds probably tried. They tried to stay awake, I’m sure, but, they didn’t. They fell asleep in Jesus’ hour of need. Jesus returned to find them, not praying and watching, but asleep – again.
I think if Jesus returned to find me, he’d find me, not praying, but weak to his power in my life.
That thought scares me.
But, what wakes my true Spirit up in me, not the try-hard, die-hard, spirit in me, is this: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Eph. 3:16-17)
When I get in the posture of prayer, I can awaken my Spirit of Faith. God wants to pour out revival in my own soul. He wants to replenish what is depleted. He wants to overpower my spirit with His. And this, returns me to power. It awakens me to purpose. It reminds me: My flesh is weak, my spirit is willing, but His Spirit is alive, moving and activating things that need tending to in my life.
Will you let God in?
Perhaps you join me today and pray this simple prayer: God, I pray out of your riches, you strengthen me with power through your Spirit in my inner being. Father, I want Christ to dwell in my heart through faith. You are the only answer when everything seems impossible. You are the only answer when I feel I can’t. You are the answer when everything goes wrong. My spirit is willing. My flesh is weak. Increase the power of your Spirit within me and by decrease my spirit response, so that I might live full of faith and full of you as I go through my day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen