Someone has taken advantage of me. By all appearances, it seems they’ve used a position of power to force my hand. They’ve taken from me. It smells like trickery because I am left the fool. Now, I have no choice but to do what they want. Grr…
Yet, the more I pray, the more I feel God nudging my heart: not to fight back, but to give-in. Yes, to give in to what they want.
It feels like the lesson of this situation wants to stick to my heart. It tries to teach me that I am weak. It wants to convince me that people will take advantage of me again.
I can’t trust again. I must rise up and be powerful, so I don’t get hurt.
Yet, God speaks differently.
In His Word, I am reminded of the time the Arameans were coming against Elisha and the Israelites. Here, the enemy had the whole city surrounded and was about to strike. Elisha was trapped; the others had a clear advantage.
At this point, Elisha used wise prayer; He asked God to blind His enemies. When the forces finally opened their eyes, they quickly discovered they were defeated. They went in the wrong direction. The Israelites had won.
Although Elisha used a powerful powerful prayer strategy, this is not the part that most speaks to me. The part that speaks to me is how Elisha appeared to give way, to give in, to an enemy.
Take a look…
Once they had the Arameans trapped, “The king of Israel … shouted to Elisha, “My father, should I kill them? Should I kill them?”
“Of course not!” Elisha replied. “Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master.”
So the king made a great feast for them and then sent them home to their master. After that, the Aramean raiders stayed away from the land of Israel. (2 Kings 6:21-22)”
The enemy didn’t just get food, they got a feast. Why was this able to happen? Because they trusted God more than the people who hurt them.
And, this is what speaks to my heart today. I can trust God more than the person who hurt me. Why? Because God holds all power. God holds the purse-strings to everything. God makes armies bow. God brings redemption where things were stolen. God restores. And, He is always faithful.
Much more do I want to rely on God, than to allow a person’s actions declare who I am or how I will act. No. I won’t do that. God wins. He knows.
So, I go ahead and prepare a feast for someone who is acting like an enemy.
Common to man is the subtle inclination to stop trusting God.
“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field…” (Gen. 3:1) Just as the snake came subtly to entice Adam and Eve in the garden — out of trust — so his tactics work similarly today. We must be on guard.
We seem to live in an era of confusion. Some things seem right, but they are not. Others seem wrong, and we get angry. In this day, it is easy to become afraid, disoriented, or unsure about the future. It is easy to feel unsure about what is really happening.
With our eyes on all that, we can lose focus on God. With emotions at peak levels, they can flood us and make us feel far from God.
So, what can we do about it?
I always think it is good to examine our own heart, first: Are we trusting God or beginning to take things in our own hands? Are we at peace or are we worried? Are we thinking more about God or ourselves?
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt?” (Mt. 7:1-1)
Our own heart tells us heart things about us — apart from the world we live in. It shows us if we trust — or not.
“Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.” (Ps. 37:3)
When I see my trust waning, I do three things:
One: Repent from what has distanced me from God, then let it go. To dwell in it too long is to become far too self-focused (aka. self-centered).
Two: Reflect on the lies I have been believing. If it doesn’t line up with God’s Word, it should be out-of-line.
Three: Re-establish God’s greatness in my mind. I remember who God is and who I am. I remember that He is Mighty, Able, and All-Powerful. I remember nothing can stop my Lord Almighty. I remember He is Conqueror and Overcomer in all ways and at all times. I remember He has good for me, His child. I speak these things out. I dwell on them.
Trust is not always natural, sometimes it has to be fought for. Just like in any marriage, sometimes you have to fight to keep on loving and believing in the one you most love. Likewise, focused attention gives way to a greater relationship with God, so that lesser offenses and the world around — don’t subtly pull us away.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6)
Sometimes He doesn’t rescue, heal, restore, free or resurrect on this side of heaven, but that doesn’t mean that He is unable to.
What does it mean then?
The night before Jesus faced the fiercest trial of his life, he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).
Why was the Father not willing to let this cup pass from Jesus, His beloved child?
Was it because He was displeased with the one praying? Was God angry at him, ignoring him or apathetic towards him?
Not at all.
Jesus was His Son, the beloved of the Father. So why was He not willing to deliver His Son from the horrific, grave circumstances that He was facing?
It was love.
Not just love for Jesus but undying love for all of us. God allowed this suffering because He knew the end result would greatly impact the world forever; providing the way to a restored relationship with the Father and life everlasting with Him.
We have the privilege of knowing the rest of the story, but what if we were there in the Garden with Jesus or there at the foot of the cross as He hung upon it? Would we question God’s Sovereignty? Would we wonder why He wasn’t willing to save His Son?
Faith is being sure of what we do not see (see Hebrews 11:1) We choose to believe even when what we see seems contradictory to our beliefs. God is who He says He is or He is not.
I’m not trying to explain away your pain. I just know that sometimes our finite minds are limited and our eyes are short-sighted.
If God is not willing to let the cup pass in your life, I believe that it is for a greater purpose than what we can see at present.
God is Sovereign. Trust that He is Loving. Rest assured that He is Just.
You can take shelter in His Sovereignty and rest in His ability to cover you and keep you underneath the shelter of His wings. He cares deeply for you- so much so that He was unwilling to let the cup of His wrath pass from Jesus. He was willing to let His Son die so that you could live.
You are precious in His sight and loved beyond comprehension. You can be confident as you rest under the umbrella of His will, because He is faithful.
He is able to do anything. He is willing to make you clean through Jesus. He loves you that much. He did everything for you at the cross with arms spread wide open in love for you, that you may be saved.
I’ll leave you with a song declaring His power and His ability to do the impossible.
Nothing is impossible with God
Nothing is too hard for Him
He is able, more than able, to do anything.
He is Sovereign, He is Wise, He is Great, has limitless strength.
He’s the God who sees, the God who knows, the God Everlasting, the God of me.
Daniel 3:17-18 “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 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.”
Katie M. Reid is an author and speaker who encourages you to find grace in the unraveling of life (look for her first book coming out next July with Waterbrook!). She inspires you to embrace your identity in Christ and live out your God-given purpose. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in the Midwest. She is a fan of cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea. Katie and her husband host the popular Facebook Live show, “Stop! Hammock Time” (which airs Wednesdays, 9pm EST). Join in the fun and unwind in this vibrant community.
With His disciples, He left the crowd behind, and traveled by boat to a new place on the far side of the lake. A furious storm suddenly raged. Waves crashed over the boat, and they nearly drowned.
Meanwhile, Jesus slept on a cushion in the stern.
If you think about what he had been doing before this little boat ride, his deep sleep makes perfect sense. At least from my introverted (and sometimes-exhausted Mom) perspective. He had been teaching crowds of people, eating meals with people, and traveling about talking with them and healing them.
Mark 4 tells us the disciples took Jesus along in the boat, “just as He was.” And what He was, was completely exhausted. Fully human…
Head to Angela’s Blog to read the rest of this post! Also, LINKUP your own encouraging post there for the #RaRaLinkup this week.
My daughter and I attended a gymnastics meet at the local university. We were mesmerized as the athletes leaped over the vault, spun around the uneven bars, and soared through the air during their floor exercises.
The coach gave each gymnast a pep talk before their routine. I imagine that he reminded them to focus, breathe deep, and remember their training. They ended with a fist bump and a “You’ve got this.”
As I watched one of the athletes get ready for her event I noticed that her hands were shaking. She looked nervous and unsure of herself but she charged ahead when her time came to compete.
That’s when it hit me.
The gymnasts practice facing their fears and have learned to compete, in spite of feeling afraid.
Theydon’t let fear stop them from doing what they were made to do. They put in the time day after day to improve their skills but there is a still a strong element of risk, uncertainty, and fear as they approach each apparatus during a meet.
Even if they are confident in their abilities, they realize that something could go wrong, they could come up short, or their body might let them down. But they forge ahead anyway. They are committed to their goal. They are focused on what is before them and they are driven to
do their best.
How many times do I avoid something because I over-analyze the risk factors or focus on my fears?
Of course, it can be a good thing to be cautious, but an overly cautious outlook can cripple forward motion.
The heavy weights of “what ifs” are “who do you think you are?” have kept me from living free. The news, the reports, and the suffering all around threatens to paralyze purpose; to live fully for Jesus, delighting in His company and following His ways.
What if we practice facing our fears by choosing to go forward, when we are called? Ready or not we spring ahead and give it our best. We put in the time day after day and choose to listen to His instructions and flex our faith muscles.
We still might feel afraid but we decide to follow God’s Word anyway, to trust His voice, to breathe deeply and focus on what is set before us.
Has He led you to travel to a far off place or to get to know your neighbor better?
Has He told you to forgive a loved one once and for all or to forgive yourself?
Has He asked you to move or to stay?
Whatever lies before us, let’s face it…knowing that we can do it because God is cheering us on as we face each challenge.
Let’s move forward, even when we feel afraid, knowing that we don’t go alone.
Katie M. Reid is an author and speaker who encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life (look for her first book coming out next summer with Waterbrook). She inspires others to embrace their identity in Christ and live out their God-given purpose. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. She is a fan of cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea. Katie and her husband host the popular Facebook Live show, “Stop! Hammock Time” (which airs Wednesdays, 9pm EST).
It is true that hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12). When your hopes are delayed, deterred, or detoured you are left with emptiness. Like a stomach that just heaved, you feel hollow; left with a bitter taste in your mouth.
But, when your longings are fulfilled, you are satisfied, like partaking in a delicious, savory meal with loved ones gathered ’round the table and laughter filling the air.
Dreams may come and go, morph and change, but my Hope is lasting and unwavering.
The outcomes of your dreams may not unfold as you picture them. Don’t be so distracted or despaired by your losses that You fail to see the greater miracle of My faithfulness.
True Hope is Me, found in Me; a Hope that does not fade, spoil or quit.
I do not change, nor leave you or forsake you. When others let you down, when you let yourself down, when your hopes sink rather than float, remember that My Hope is upon you: steady, unchanging, and anchoring you with Truth.
I know all about your dreams, I do. But I have bigger plans that you can fathom. I have greater ideas that you can ever muster up(Ephesians 3:20-21).
Hope in the One who holds you tight, who holds you close, who is capable of holding you together when you fear you’ll fall apart.
I am He who made you, understands you, and loves you with more love than you dare to imagine.
Come, let’s walk together, with Grace, through this brand new day; full of hope.
Katie M. Reid is an author and speaker who encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life (look for her first book coming out next summer with WaterBrook!). She inspires others to embrace their identity in Christ and live out their God-given purpose. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. She is a fan of cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea. Katie and her husband host the popular Facebook Live show, “Stop! Hammock Time” (which airs Wednesdays, 9pm EST).
We sat in the parking lot staring blankly ahead with the doctor’s words still ringing in our ears.
“Some people just can’t have children. Now is when you need to start working on accepting that.”
We were stunned in spite of the clues. The previous years’ experiences had pointed to this moment – the months of negative pregnancy tests, the losses, the testing and exams and poking and prodding, they all pointed to the possibility of infertility. Except now it was real. Now it was our story.
In the weeks that followed our diagnosis I found myself facing a critical juncture in my faith. I could refuse to believe that God might have plans for my future that include infertility and I could live in a state of anxious denial (a place I’d been sitting in for too long already.) Or, I could do as the doctor suggested, and work toward finding acceptance and faith and peace. For several weeks I chose the former and it twisted my stomach and heart in knots. Then one day I chose the latter.
Sometimes peace is a choice. Peace is a choice that doesn’t always come naturally for me, though. I tend to be an anxious person who likes to be in control of, well, everything. I want to know exactly how the day will go and I want to be able to manipulate my surroundings to fit what feels safe, secure, and right to me. But life doesn’t often comply with my version of how things should be. This is where faith and fear collide for me.
Life has taught me I have a choice in how I respond to things outside of my control. Things like infertility. I can’t always control how I feel about these things – if I could take away my grief and pain I would… who wouldn’t? But I can choose to believe in peace and love and hope.
On one of the worst nights of my life – the night I returned from the hospital after losing our first baby – I turned to my Bible for something that would bring me comfort. I don’t think I really believed peace was possible in my grief, but I just wanted something to get me through the night. I flipped the pages and they eventually landed in the book of Isaiah, chapter 54. My eyes fell on verse 10 and I began to read…
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”
In those words, I found everything I didn’t know I needed…
Unfailing love from the Father in the midst of tragedy and loss.
Peace that will never leave – no matter what.
And compassion for my broken and baffled heart.
In the months that followed, I found myself navigating the often lonely waters of grief and learning that I often wouldn’t feel peace, but Isaiah had told me it was there. So I made a choice to believe it, whether I felt it or not. Still today, I choose to believe that the peace that surpasses all understanding still covered my life even in times of turmoil. I choose to believe that hope is a fact.
I believe this is what Horatio Spafford had in mind when he penned the words to famous hymn, It Is Well with My Soul. After losing his son, his business, and then his four daughters (who drowned in a shipwreck) he wrote,
“When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know* It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
It is well. Or, as my son has taught me to say, “It’s Okay About It.” Saying, “it’s okay about it” or “it is well” doesn’t mean declaring that we are unaffected in the face of hardship and loss. It is simply choosing to believe that love, peace, compassion, and hope are true. That they are promises we can believe no matter what comes our way.
So though my heart broke in the pain of infertility and the grief of miscarriages I choose peace and hope, knowing that God will redeem my pain.
When my children suffer I remember God’s compassion for us.
When I face disappointment and rejection I declare the truth of God’s unfailing love.
When I face anxiety and panic over an unknown future and circumstances beyond my control I choose His covenant of peace.
Because of the truth of God’s word and the hope of heaven I can say with assurance, “It’s Okay About It.”
Lauren Casper is the founder of her popular blog, where she shares her thoughts on life, parenting, and faith. She is a top contributor to the TODAY Parenting Team and has had numerous articles syndicated by The Huffington Post, the TODAY show, Yahoo!News, and several other publications. Lauren speaks in various locations around the country at conferences, retreats, and church events. Some of her topics include: adoption and foster care, infertility, parenting children with special needs, building meaningful community, and facing fear.
Lauren’s first book, It’s Okay About It, released May 2, 2017. In it, Lauren shares poignantly simple yet profound wisdom about removing the barriers we construct around our hearts and doing life full-on, all from the least expected source: her five-year-old son, Mareto.
A fun project popped into my head. The idea had the potential to strengthen families and spur on meaningful conversations. Instead of attempting the project on my own, I took a risk and asked a few others if they wanted to collaborate. To my delight, they were intrigued about the project and willing to be a part of it. I was thrilled!
It seemed like a God-inspired idea! The door of possibility was open wide.
We worked hard, against difficult odds, and pressed on. And then (due to unexpected circumstanced beyond our control) it all fell apart. Out of left field, a windstorm appeared and we wisely took cover.
Disappointment set in; I felt like I’d let the team down. Although I hadn’t realized that wind was in the forecast, I could have been more prepared for something like it.
Had I heard God wrong? Had I run ahead hastily? I don’t think so.
Just because something doesn’t turn out the way you want it to, doesn’t mean you weren’t supposed to do it.
Risk-taking has a variety of results.
Right around the same time, I took another risk. I reached out to a fellow writer and basically said, “I think we should be friends”. It felt awkward and vulnerable, but I had experienced that “take a risk” nudge again—so I followed through.
I’m happy to say that this risk had a more favorable outcome. I had a hunch this friend and I were cut from a similar cloth, and that has proven true—”two peas in a pod” is how she describes it.
We have encouraged each other, helped one another, and celebrated work milestones together. It would have been a shame if I had let the failed-project situation keep me from risking again. It would have been easier to ignore the prompting and save face in case rejection ensued…yet we both would have missed out.
Time after time, in Scripture, we see God’s people faced with a choice:
They could believe what they saw with their eyes or they could believe what God told them.
They could take a step of faith or turn back in doubt.
They could risk their current comfort and follow God or they could settle into sinful patterns in rebellion to Him.
Has God prompted you to take a risk? Are you dragging your feet…afraid to step into the sea before you?
When God’s people stepped into the Red Sea (and later, the Jordan River) He parted the waters. They took a risk in believing Him and He faithfully took care of them.
No, it wasn’t often comfortable.
No, it wasn’t free from difficulty.
No, it did not always turn out like expected.
Yes, it was worth it.
Yes, it brought them blessing even amidst challenging circumstances.
Yes, God was glorified and exalted through it.
Risk-taking is not easy but it is a part of our faith journey. As we follow God’s lead (whether into deep waters, dry desert, or high ground) we risk, yet we find comfort in knowing that He first took a risk on us.
God gave us everything we need for life and godliness, in the form of His Perfect and Only Son, Jesus. He left us with the choice to receive or reject Him.
Let’s take a risk and follow the One who leads us…through the depths, heights, and middle ground.
Katie M. Reid is a writer and speaker who encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. She inspires women and youth to embrace their identity in Christ and live out their God-given purpose. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. Cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea is one of her favorite things.
I approached him, “Get your backpack. We need to get in that car.”
He marched right past me holding the shovel like a sword, swinging it as if he just won a war. He wasn’t going anywhere, this I knew. My words floated over him like the wind. His eyes were dead set on the game he was playing.
I was annoyed, for what stood between me and peace – was a 5-year old, a pretend game and a wrestling match of words that was about to explode.
What is standing in between you and peace? Between you and God?
For me it is distractions. Consider this: Just 5 minutes before my son’s victory march I was praying to God, asking him to be with me and wanting to walk forward in his love. So, what happened?
(Deep breath.) 3 distractions bubbled up – ones that so often pull me off track:
I let the demands of this world, steal my delight in the Creator.
I allow urgency to replace intimacy – between me and God.
I let destination take precedence over God’s invitation to let loose.
(Another deep breath.) When I am worried about time, (I don’t have enough of it, I am stressed out by it, I am going to be late, I am missing out, I am too old, I am too young, I should be somewhere already, I don’t want to wait, I must think about my future, rather than be present) I work myself into a tizzy. And, here, in all my trembling – I can’t see God.
…But all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life…so no fruit is produced. (Mark 4:19)
I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord the best, with as few distractions as possible. (1 Cor. 7:35)
If I am distracted I can’t as easily be engaged with God. If I am worried about many things, I can’t be enthralled by the One thing. If I am trying to press through a tight knit schedule, I can’t as easily press peace into this world.
I want more. Do you? I want to take God through my day with me. Not just in the morning time, but all the time. Not just when I think of him, but as I do everything. I want to invite in his love so I can spread his love.
No longer do I want to fear the rush, the clock and the game – that calls me to sprint ahead, but I want to stop and sit and savor and sip up God’s goodness. Maybe you do too…
For we serve a God who is limitless and unbound by time. The truth is, he can work within any barrier that lays before us. He just outstretches his hand and it expands in a way where we can do what we once thought we couldn’t.
Staring out the backseat window, my daughter noticed a van in the next lane. I wondered why she cared about which cars shared the road with us. Questioning her further, I learned my 8-year-old daughter was afraid of dark vans.
When I was her age, I had the same irrational fear.
For me, it started with a Crime Stoppers commercial. I accidentally saw a piece on the news one night, about a store robbery and a couple of men pulling away in a big, black van. I couldn’t forget it. It changed my life, but not in any good ways.
Fear consumed my thoughts and ruined activities I previously enjoyed.
When a black van drove down our quiet, country road, I imagined a man would jump out and stuff me into the back. Or take my Mom away. Some days, it kept me from playing outside. I thought about it often, always measuring how far I was getting from my parents.
They tried coaching me through this fear and praying with me, after noticing changes in my behavior. But mostly, I didn’t speak my fears aloud. I kept them on the inside. Maybe this was the reason the enemy had a hold on me through fears, at such a young age.
When my fear of dark vans went away, other fears arrived, one after another.
The temptation to ponder my worries, cares, and fears rather than give them to the Lord has always been a great struggle for me.
1 Peter 5:7 (AKJV) says, “Casting all your care on Him, for He cares for you.” I would cast my cares on the Lord, but then reel them back in, holding them tightly in my own hands.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be a believer in Jesus Christ, who can say with certainty, “I trust God for everything.” I’d rather not own this struggle with fears. But trust is an action verb, and sometimes, I do not trust.
Sometimes I hold my most precious possessions back from God, as if I have any control over them.
I’m still learning to trust the Lord completely, with my life’s most important pieces (or people).
Speaking of what’s most important in our lives, what are your greatest fears? Your answer will show you what you fail to entrust to the Lord.
Through seasons of life, our fears may shift. When I had babies of my own, and when they were no longer “safe” and warm inside me, my fears not only shifted. They metastasized. Maybe you can relate?
One of the greatest lessons I’ve been learning is the same truth I repeat to my own children night after night—
God is good, and we can trust Him.
We live in a scary world, and we hear of scary things happening to people around us all the time. In this world, where bad news abounds, we must battle for trust in God over fear.
“Do you fear God—living life in awe, in anticipation, and in adventure? Not fearing Him in a way where you get all shaky and nervous and defensive, but in a way where God moves into position number one. In a way where He gets to stand above everything else you fear.”
When we give in to fear, it’s a lot like putting our faith in something other than God. Instead, may we trust in the all-powerful, cares-for-us, praise-worthy God Almighty.
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in You.
whose word I praise—
in God I trust
and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
Psalm 56:3-4, NIV
Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.