Purposeful Faith

5 Tips When You are Tired of Waiting

I sat on the curb after practice, wondering, “Is mom ever going to come?” It was a particularly hard high school year. For one, my nose got hit with a field hockey stick. Even today, it sits a little crooked. And on this particular day, after all those sprints, shooting pains shot up my legs. I could hardly sit. Every position was agony. So with my teammates long gone, I moaned. Then, I replayed everything: the shots I didn’t make, the girls that were faster than me, and how I must have looked downright stupid.

Five minutes turned into twenty. Would she ever come?

Times of waiting are battles – the sense of “not knowing” compounds everything. Here, we tend to think, “If she isn’t there for me, God won’t be there either. I’m unworthy. I’ll be left behind. I brought on this problem. I’m stuck. Bound to fail. Surely, I’ll make a fool of myself again.”

I find it is here that old injuries, gut-wrenching feelings of abandonment, and age-old failures come back to attack. They often rob our faith.

Yet, I can’t help but wonder: If waiting times aren’t uncommon to Biblical men and women, why do I think they’ll be uncommon to me?

I mean, Sarah waited decades to have a baby. Blind people waited what probably felt like forever to be healed by Jesus. Mary waited while Jesus grew up. The other Mary waited for her brother Lazarus to get healed. Moses waited to get out of Egypt. Jesus waited decades to start His ministry, then about three years to die on the cross to defeat death.

Even in the worldly sense, waiting times have value. A delayed inheritance makes a son wise. A pregnant mother gives nine months time for the baby to grow. A toddler girl learns to swim before jumping in the deep end.

What if our times of waiting aren’t meant to torture us, but to grow us? And to prepare us for a greater land ahead?

“The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden… It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.” (Deuteronomy 11:10, 12, NIV)

The new land has new terrain. New obstacles. New preparation is needed for that place.

Consider, if you want to adventure through new terrain, you must prepare for it. If you’re traveling over rocky ground, you need the right wheels. Perhaps an SUV. If you are climbing a new mountain, you need to have a harness, and one you trust. Waiting gives us time to prepare to go to the places God has planned for us.

We can wait well. Here are few ways to do just that:

One: Remember the cross.

Encourage yourself by saying, “Jesus’ sacrifice fully covers me and now protects me from any assaulting words of the enemy. Even if I don’t do things perfectly, through the sacrifice of Christ, I am hidden in Christ.”

Two: Reconsider who you are.

Think, “I am a daughter of the most-High King. He knows how to take care of me.”

Three: Reestablish who God is.

Say, “God is on my side. He will pull through for me, help me and rescue me. I can trust Him.”

Four: Remind yourself: Waiting ground is faith-proving ground.

Choose to delight in and dwell on the little blessings God gives day-to-day.

Five: Reflect on the learnings.

Encourage yourself by saying, “God, teach me what I need to know through this time of wait, so I can grow in faith.”

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The Right Perspective

I didn’t expect this to happen… I stood at the window and watched multiple birds land on the bird feeder. It was an almost empty feeder. With this, time after time, bird after bird, none of them were eating anything. They just figured there was nothing left for them. So, they landed on the rod and…flew off…

But, one was different. He stuck his head in — and then — he got all the remaining food. He just sat there eating up what everyone else couldn’t see. Simply because he reached in…

I think a lot of us have lost hope. We have sort of given up on believing like we did before. So, we don’t reach up to heaven to pray anymore… We just sit there, and — worry, stress or fear…

But, for those who reach-deep and reach-up to God, who keep believing in “God’s more” and who keep seeking– they are the ones who find the bread of life.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13)

Remember when I prayed for so many of you weeks ago? God did breakthrough. For one, someone got miraculous transportation provided for her ministry.

Do not give up on prayer. God hears.

I was just reading this morning in 1 Kings 19 that Elijah prayed seven times — seven times!! — for rain. Even Jesus prayed more than once for the “man who saw trees.”

Just because you haven’t seen it — doesn’t mean you won’t. All is not hopeless. Keep persevering in prayer. God hears. It may not be on prayer #1, but on prayer #8 that breakthrough finally comes.

Persist. God is faithful.

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The Greatest Thing

“The greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13)

Who is God calling you to love?

Love is not always simple. Love costs something. Love is paramount in God’s Kingdom. It makes up the pinnacle moments in our life.

We tend to think it is what we’ve obtained. A level or a status. A house and some stuff to pass down to our kids. A good sense of self. A fine and respectable status amongst men. God conveys, “Nope. It’s love.”

Love me with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

Everything else is peripheral; love is the main thing.

Who are you loving? Who is God calling you to more greatly love? Don’t fear the outcome.

The outcome belongs to the Lord. The out-working work of love belongs to us.

And, it starts with us and God in the quiet. In the reality of what we face. In the truth of our heart. In the call of our soul.

Us, looking up to Him. Him, pouring out the love, grace, and mercy we so desperately need. We look-up. He pours down. We go out. He gives us the love to hand-out.

Are you making time for God’s love to so work in you that it flows out of you?

It’s a worthy question. Because the greatest of all things, the most enduring — of all things — is love.

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How to Change Our Focus to See God

For years, I didn’t realize I viewed God through a lens distorted by lies and half-truths. I lived as though he withheld something from me, and spent my days trying to measure up to some invisible standard.

I was kicked out of a private Christian school during my senior year, and I adopted the belief that God wasn’t happy with me unless I followed a rigid set of rules. Since I knew there was no way I could possibly measure up, I broke the rules instead of trying to follow them. I didn’t see how tired and angry I was toward God and the church until years later, when God removed me from everything familiar.

To shift our perspective, God often takes us out of the place where we’re comfortable.

This is what he did with me as a newlywed, when my husband and I moved over two thousand miles away from my hometown. The reason we saw was a job opportunity, but God’s reasons were quite different. He wanted to transform my thinking, and he knew a drastic life change would push me to seek him like never before.

For months after the move, I faced culture shock. The area of Utah where we lived was beautiful, with snow-capped mountains and an endless skyline. But the predominant beliefs were different than the “Bible Belt” area where I grew up. The stark contrasts forced me to ask myself, “What do I believe? Who is God, anyway, and what does he want from me?” When I discovered we were expecting our first child, my determination to find a firm foundation and belief system became even more crucial.

In the four years we lived on the Wasatch Front, I discovered many things I didn’t expect about God. He led me to books, friends, and a home church where I became grounded in truth.

But there’s one truth that continues to transform me today as I discover its vastness: God wants my joy.

As a matter of fact, before his brutal death, he prayed for each of us to experience it. Full and without measure. Not was the world perceives it- as the result of something we do or achieve, but a direct fruit of his Spirit in us.

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” John 17:13 NIV

If we think God is withholding something from us, our actions will reflect it, and its effects will cascade into every aspect of our lives. But if we view him through the lens of his grace, we will experience joy and peace. Every good thing we have is because of him. He doesn’t want our perfection, but our love and trust. This is what transforms lives, not endless to-do lists.

Instead of asking, “What is God withholding from me,” we can ask, “What has he given me?”

Rather than clench our hands with worry, we can open them with confidence that he’ll act out of his love and goodness.

When I became honest with myself after years of running from God, I realized I made a lot of poor choices in my early adult life. But God, being rich in mercy, protected me from a life of regret. My bitterness over addiction and codependency in my family turned to prayers for their release from bondage. My thinking shifted from being me-centered to others-centered.

God is still working on me, and he won’t be finished until his return. But as his Spirit continues to transform my thinking, my view of him is clearer.

Each day he shows me see that we don’t have to wait until we’re fully transformed or perfect to witness his hand. We can see it right here.

Sometimes, we just have to adjust our lens and change the way we look for God. We have to alter the ways we view him and uncover lies we believe. This is the journey I invite you to take with me. Will you join me?

_____________________________________________________________________________

Is there an area of your life where you want to see God, but can’t? Perhaps you had a clear sense of his purpose and will in your life at the begi

nning of your journey with him, but it’s become blurred and foggy.

If that person is you, I wrote my new book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God, for you. What I discovered is that we don’t have to wait until we’re on the othe

r side of the struggle or mess to see God. But if we want to see him, we have to change the way we look for him. Let’s do this in 2020.

If you preorder Shift today, you will receive several freebies, including a gorgeous “Forward-Moving Faith” printable and the first three chapters for immediate download. You can order right here, and claim your freebies here!

 

About the Author:

Abby McDonald is also a writer, speaker, wife, and mom whose work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, (in)Courage, Crosswalk, and more. Her passion is to empower women to grow in faith and hope, even when life is messy. She earned a BA in English from the University of South Carolina and teaches writing workshops both online and at conferences each year. Abby lives with her husband, three children, and mischievous lab pup in the mountains of western Maryland. You can download “The Daughter’s Manifesto” as her free gift to you and connect with her at abbymcdonald.org.


Do Not Give Up

Maybe you need encouragement. What I want to tell you today, is: don’t give up.

It doesn’t matter what things look like. The tomb looked empty, but what it meant was — Jesus rose up and out of the grave.

It doesn’t matter what things feel like. Mary and Martha felt afraid because their brother was dead, until he was alive again.

It doesn’t matter what you think will happen. It seemed impossible for David to beat a giant, or for Sarah to have a baby at her age, but they did.

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” (Ps. 37:5)

It is as simple as: trust God and He will act.
It is as easy as: be faithful to Him who is faithful.
It speaks-out like: “I don’t have to believe, to see.”

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (Jo. 20:29)

You don’t even have to believe, necessarily in yourself or your thoughts; believe in God. God is who He is and who He is — He will always be.

“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind.” (Nu. 23:19)

God is:

Faithful
Savior
Rescuer
Redeemer
Restorer
Deliverer
Fortress
Strong Tower
Lover of your Soul
Unfailing Love
Solid Rock
Care for the helpless
Refuge in a time of trouble
Hope for the weary
Instructor
Strength
Holy
Shepherd

God is who He is. The more you know who He is the more you’ll rest in how He’s bound to come through for you.

Do not lose hope; do not give up.

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Something Out of Nothing

God was leading me to attend an event. I didn’t want to attend, but, at the same time, I believed God wanted me there. It was freezing cold outside; I was warm inside my house. It took everything in me to pull myself off my chair and to head outside. But, desiring to be obedient, I did.

The only issue was — upon arrival, no one was there. The room was empty. Silent. Did I get the date wrong? Why Did God bring me here?

Absolutely nothing was going on.

I sat down on the one the chairs and said, “But God, I thought you had a plan for me to be here? I was trying to be obedient… But, nothing is here.”

At that moment, I was internally reminded of God’s biblical knack to bring something out of nothing

The blind man can see nothing, but because of Jesus — He can now see something.

The lame can do nothing, but by just a few words, the man finds he can get up and do something.

Death brings Jesus to what appears to be nothing — yet resurrection life provides us something, everlasting life.

There, all alone in that room — I was reminded that our God takes what looks like nothing and can make it into something — brilliant, powerful and wonderful. Extremely life-changing.

What ‘nothing’ are you facing? Nothing much of a future? Nothing to look forward to? Nothing in your bank account? Nothing left to believe? Nothing left to give?

I don’t think Jesus is fazed by nothing like we are. He knows — He can always make it, something. Just like He did for me in this room.

What might begin to happen if you started to look, expectantly — at your nothing — with the firm belief that God could make it — something?

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Ro. 8:28)

 

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Acting Like a Christian

Showy Christianity

I read a Facebook post by a Christian encouraging other Christians. . . it essentially said, “If you are left out of a get-together, don’t be offended. Some people want to hang out with other people. When they do, don’t be insecure about it. . .”

Something about the message didn’t sit right. Maybe it was because I was the ‘new person’. . . Maybe it was because I desire new friends. . . Maybe it was because I supposed the writer of it had a million people she was hanging out with. . . meanwhile, sad-people were left at home. The idea of it hurt me a little.

Not wanting to think too much about it, I navigated off that Christian webpage. I landed on my Facebook feed. There. I saw all sorts of secular posts.

One caught my eye. A woman wrote something like, “No matter where you are, remember there may always be someone who feels left out. . . be sure to include them. Think of them. Remember, that could be you. . . ”

Something like sadness filled me. Why is it the non-Christian post is more grace-filled than the Christian-post? And, how often is this the case?

I just sat there staring at the screen.

How often do I proclaim Jesus, but when push-comes-to-shove, or when the-rubber-meets-the-road — I don’t show Him? Instead, I seek my own convenience. I push my own agenda. I want what is good for me. . . I cause division rather than unity.

I am just as guilty as the Christian-writer I judged.

But, I don’t want to remain this way. I want to be the real-deal. I want to be pure and true. I want to be honest and inclusive. I want to think of the least of these.

God, help me. 

I’m not sure I’m there yet. But, I want to be. For to be this way, is to be like Jesus. It is to be a magnet for those: seeking love, desiring more, wanting to be included, hoping to be seen as they are and wishing they were wanted. It is to be like Jesus, who died with arms wide-open.

It is to resurrect faith in each other. It is to see people for who they are and to love them anyway, unconditionally.

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.” (Eph. 5:1 NLT)

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A Quiet Simple Resolution

This week, it is the time of year when almost EVERYONE comes out with their New Year resolution. On purple images, one person shares their dream to conquer their business, another person posts a long sentimental post about how they are going to be present more.

I don’t know why friends, but sometimes, I feel jaded about all these resolution posts. Maybe its because I’ve failed a time or two…and sometimes it is just easier to give up and to judge others than it is to keep trying…

…Anyway, I am trying again. Because, if God doesn’t give up on me, why should I give up on working with Him, in order to be like Him.

This year, I am pressing into one simple word: Patience.

Patience, that still listens and cares — when others talk too much.
Patience so that I don’t quickly cut-off others off with my views when they are sharing important heart-stories.
Patience that allows others to go before me.
Patience that trusts God to show up, more than it feels it has to cut its own Amazon rainforest path.
Patience that believes in people’s change — and my own — even if it is slow-coming.
Patience that keeps faith that God’s work is happening even if a breakthrough feels far.
Patience that endures through hard-conversations to see better outcomes come to life.
Patience that doesn’t respond quickly with anger or annoyance.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9)

I don’t want to give up. What about you? Is there something God is calling you to work with Him on? You don’t face it alone. You don’t go at it without help.

As you consider this “resolution”, I hope to encourage you with three ideas, I’ve learned over the years…

Sometimes there is value in:

One: Keeping it Quiet.

Even though I shared with you all today, not everyone needs to know your goal. Sometimes, if we think others notice our botch-up, we are more likely to quiet. Pick one or two encouragers and then keep the rest to you.

Two: Defining it.

Just as I defined what I meant by my goal, the more you can add clarity around it — the more easily you’ll be able to see it through.

Three: Giving yourself a ton of grace.

Allow this change to be so full of grace, you will keep trying to the end of the year. Giving-up is usually an indicator that we have stopped giving our self grace.

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Are you in a Funk?

I don’t know about you, but there is a lot going on in my life right now. With Christmas and The New Year here, there are family trips. With things to get done, there are demands. With a project due, there are deadlines. With kids off of school, there are needs.

Sometimes life seems to demand more from us than we have. Are you there today?

Does it feel like people have expectations of you that you just can’t meet? Or, that there is simply too much to do? Or, that you can’t handle all that you face? Maybe there is a person in your life that keeps breaking your heart. Another who can’t seem to right their ways.

The pain there is real and valid. For this reason, sometimes we can get stuck in an emotional-low. Or, in a confusing fog.

I notice that David, in the Psalms, seemed to get stuck here, occasionally. But, he didn’t stay there.

To move out he:

He honestly called out to God…from his pit…

“Come with great power, O God, and rescue me! Defend me with your might. Listen to my prayer, O God. Pay attention to my plea. For strangers are attacking me, violent people are trying to kill me. They care nothing for God.” (Ps. 54:1-3 NLT)

David chose to raise his thoughts above what he faced.

He went on to say…

“But God is my helper. The Lord keeps me alive!” (Ps. 54:4 NLT)

David proclaimed who God is in the face of risk.

We can do the same. We can announce — who God is when everything else is threatening — what it will do to us.

Finally, David, believed God.

“You have delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.” (Ps. 54:7)

Yes, David was confronted with enemies and attacks, but he also announced God’s triumph.

It is interesting to me that in the time of singing one song, David was already saying he was delivered. There is a certain mental deliverance that can come before a physical one. Either way, David trusted God’s ultimate triumph and proclaimed it! We can too.

 

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Dealing with Difficult People

Christmas is here. We all know it. You can’t help but look around and see all the blaring advertisements, the waiting-emails, the timely-coupons, the house-lights. At times, it all feels bombarding.

Also, with Christmas, comes get-togethers with people of all types — family members we haven’t seen for ions, cousins that are long lost, and get-togethers with people of varying opinions. Christmas can thrust us into conversations we don’t feel prepared for. . .

How do we keep things peace-full? Loving? And, uplifting?

You may encounter a complainer. You may talk with someone who 100,000% disagrees with your political outlook. Another may criticize you for something you did 10 years ago, lighting a flame under your seat.

How will you react?

Basically, no matter how you are triggered, annoyed or unsettled — every time, it comes down to: how will you react?

Our reactions are what we are responsible for. Even Jesus was tempted in the garden by a devil. Just because He may have had a momentary inclination to respond a certain way — He didn’t take the bait.

We can simply resolve, this season, to — not take the bait.
When a mean word comes, don’t take the bait.
When the assault hits, don’t take the bait.

When someone tells you what to do for the umpteenth time, don’t take the bait. Half the time, offenders don’t even realize how offensive they come off. It is not about you, but usually about some sort of inner anxiety or turmoil they haven’t yet figured out how to deal with.

Inhale. Ask God for help. Receive His peace. Wait for His words of life. Release them. Or, simply walk away until you can gather yourself.

“If you don’t know what you’re doing (you lack wisdom), pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.” (Ja. 1:5 MSG)

This is what wisdom looks like. Wisdom doesn’t walk into situations without a plan, nor does it do what its always done, banging its head against the same tinseled window.

Wisdom stops, asks God and then moves a new way, with His life-giving answer.

I am praying for you: Father God, sometimes we don’t know what we’ll encounter, until we are right in the middle of the moment, encountering it. I am asking for grace this Christmas season — as we encounter difficult spaces and places. Help us so that we can respond with wisdom and love. Protect us with your loving hand. Lead us in all your ways. Teach us what to say in hard moments. Guide our path. Give us all your words. Thank you that you always love us. May we, habitually, remember that. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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