Man gives one day and takes-away the next. Man cheers today, then whispers behind your back the next. The applause of man is waning.
Just think…Jesus was cheered by the people… yet, not too long later, people shouted, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”
For the longest time, I wanted man to recognize me. I wanted to be chosen. I wanted to prove I was good enough. I wanted to climb to new places because people would finally “see” what I carried. I wanted them to give me things. I wanted them to make a way for me to get to some higher place. Yuck. Writing this is sickening.
Why? Because you can’t really love people when you are constantly wanting from them. You can’t hear them when your mouth is too busy proving things to them. You can’t be about others when you’re all about getting what you need for yourself.
Plus, as I said before, man’s love is fickle, while God’s love is solid.
Even Jesus knew this…
“Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.” (Jo. 2:23-25)
We don’t need a testimony from others about how great we are, for then we will miss the testimony God is working. God is our best portion. We can trust Him to take care of us. We can trust Him to provide for us. We can trust Him to show up for us. We can trust Him to move for us. And, He will — when we trust HIM.
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Ro. 5:5 NIV)
God’s love is so rich that it can more than take care of your every need, want and hope!
Prayer: Father, I confess, I sometimes want man’s approval and validation. I confess sometimes I have relied on my own self-efforts rather than your providence and sustenance. Please forgive me. I don’t want to exchange your love for love of another. In this, I rely more on them than I do on you. Forgive me for doing this. You are my greatest portion and my highest reward. I thank you that you created us all to love. I thank you that you have created me for relationship. However, please help me to put my trust in you and not in man. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
There is one spiritual weapon many of us forget about. We don’t think to use it, to leverage it. It’s too bad, because this weapon keeps us strong. It prevents us from getting battle-weary and war-torn.
Before I tell you what it is, let me tell you a story…
My daughter, Madison, loves to fall. She will look at me and say, “Hey, Mommy, I am going to fall backwards. Catch me.”
She will make her body rock-hard and strong like a plank of wood and then she’ll fall backwards. Knowing I’m behind her, I catch her.
She calls it a “trust-fall.”
Again and again — she trust-falls. Everytime, she knows I will catch her. Because “I-have-her”, this INCREASES her joy. This adds to the fun. This makes her feel strong and taken care of.
How many of us are trusting God to catch our fall?
To trust-fall is to know that your All-in-All will save you. Will help you. Will strengthen you. Will be there for you. Will even — add to you…
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jer. 17:7-8)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)
Trust. It has promises and benefits tied to it.
Parents hopes their kid trusts them when they say not to have candy before dinner. There’s a good reason why…
In the same light, God has good reasons why He’s completely worthy of our trust. May we trust that He will make good even when in the bad. That He will help us, even when we don’t know how to change. That He will show us, even when we see no answers.
When we fall, we can trust God to catch us. He is the best trust-fall catcher, ever.
Rather than relying on our ability to catch ourselves — our understanding — we rely completely on Him and His better plan.
“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.” (Is. 40:31 NLT)
Prayer: Father, give me the grace to trust you more today. I want to trust you with all my heart, all my soul and all my strength. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The group was going one way; I was intent on going another. I wasn’t about to eat ice cream this late. That was fattening and I still wasn’t over my eating disorder.
Walking away from the retreat group, I headed back to the cabin. That was –until I felt God stop me in my tracks. It was as if I got hit by a 2×4. God placed on my heart, “Turn around. Go back with the group.” I knew to ignore His pull would be direct disobedience. Direct disobedience comes with consequences.
So, I turned around and, somewhat begrudgingly, walked all 23-years of me back into that line. And, as I met up with a group of girls I recognized, I discovered — He was already there.
The man I would marry. He was already there. He saw me pass Him and that’s when he caught up with me to get to know me. Thank God I obeyed God. Not only that, but Jesus was already there too. After that weekend, I accepted Him into my heart.
Jesus was already there. Do you know that whatever boat you may find yourself in today — in singleness, in financial ruin, in hopelessness, in defeat, in confusion — that Jesus is already there?
“So they left the crowd; the disciples got into the boat in which Jesus was already sitting, and they took him with them. Other boats were there too.” (Mk. 4:36)
Jesus was already in the boat where a wretched storm was about to hit…. He was already there. He knew. He could see. He was aware of what was to come. He was already a step ahead.
“Suddenly a strong wind blew up, and the waves began to spill over into the boat, so that it was about to fill with water. Jesus was in the back of the boat, sleeping with his head on a pillow.” (Mk. 4:37)
Just because a storm is raging doesn’t mean that Jesus isn’t already there.
The disciples woke him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to die?” (Mk. 4:38)
Maybe you are saying… don’t you care God? Why am I here? What is happening?
Jesus hasn’t fallen asleep on you. He hasn’t lost touch on what you are going through. He goes ahead of you.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8)
God is already there — His love goes ahead of you. Be not afraid, my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world (1 Jo. 4:4). This isn’t a cheap line, but truth.
Prayer: God, you are amazing. You go ahead of us. You care for us. You are with us. You strengthen us. You empower us. We say thank you, thank you, thank you. Please add all these things to us as we come into loving you more and more and more. Great is your faithfulness! We do not waver, but trust you today. You have not fallen asleep on us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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.