I remember when I was the farthest I’ve ever been from my dream…and when faced with a choice, I shared a dream of being married, to a Christian man, living a life for Christ, raising my kids to do the same.That was my dream. I know it sounded crazy to the person I shared it with at the time, because I was in no way living a life that followed Christ. Nevertheless, it was my dream.
Through a series of events that only God could have orchestrated, here I am. Living that dream. Only the kid part is a LOT harder than I thought. Honestly, as I look back… the marriage part has been hard at times too… really hard at moments actually. Still… God gave me the desire of my heart, even when I wasn’t actively pursuing it. Why? Because it was a desire that HE planted there. It’s been a crazy wild ride so far. There is no reason for me to think, based on precedent, that the future will be calm and peaceful… I guess another adjective could be boring. There is definitely nothing boring about God! Have you read any of the Bible? Definitely NOT boring…. or normal… or predictable. Why should I expect anything different? That’s ok. Even in the difficult situations, I would rather be in the middle of the mess…serving him, than anything I would have come up with. Let’s be honest. I would have planned a perfect life. A perfect family, perfect kids, I would be perfect. Do you notice anything missing from that sentence??? GOD. My desperate need for GOD.
FACT: If everything in my life was perfect, I would still need God. I just wouldn’t realize it!!!
So… I will continue to live out this dream life… with its good times and it’s bad times, with a happy and grateful heart. I am and will be grateful that God has blessed me with my dream… and enough trouble to cause me to press in to him, to seek him, and to pray “Show me your ways Oh Lord, teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me. For you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you ALL DAY LONG!!! Psalm 25:4-5. I’ve had that memorized since I was pregnant with my first child. It is STILL my prayer. I don’t see it changing any time soon. Won’t you join me? What dream has God planted in your heart? He can make it come true.
Tip: If you seek Him, it will help…
Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV) ” For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”
Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.”
Luke 8:22 “And Jesus got into a boat with his disciples and said, ‘Let’s go to the other side of the lake.’ “
Are you in the boat with Jesus? Has he asked or directed you to go somewhere or do something? I hope each of you reading this have responded to his invitation to get into the boat and give your heart and life to God. The next step then, is to respond to the invitation “Let’s go.” He will most definitely guide you, direct you and ask you to go and do. Are you listening? Are you open and trying to hear his voice? It might be as subtle as a fleeting thought or idea to call that friend or see that person who you learned is sick or going through a difficult time, maybe it is to invite that acquaintance to dinner and get to know them better or invite them to church. He is always prompting us to reach out to others and ask them “what’s going on in your world?” Just the other day I thought about going to see someone I had learned was in the hospital. I was tired and it was inconvenient timing so I didn’t. It keeps haunting me. I now know that it was a prompting from the Holy Spirit. I intend to follow through with that prompting! How about you? I challenge you to pay attention to the promptings. What is God leading you to do? Sometimes it is more than a gesture. Sometimes it’s a journey, a job, or a ministry. So If we agree “To go” then we know it was his idea and he is in the boat with us.
For a minute let’s think about what it was like to be one of the disciples of Jesus during his ministry here on earth. What a wild ride that was! They witnessed the blind being healed, leprosy disappearing before their eyes and even the dead coming back to life! Of course they also were there when he was arrested, tried, convicted, beaten, and crucified. That must have been confusing, heartbreaking, even frightening!
Luke 8:23 “So they set out, and as they sailed, he rested and fell asleep and a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger.”
Have you ever been in a situation or position in life that you know God led you to, then found yourself in the middle of a storm? I certainly have. Maybe you are in that situation right now. I definitely know what that is like! There have been times when I knew God lead me there, and even showed me in many ways that he was there with me. Then thunder would shake the walls around me. Lightening would strike too close for my comfort. Do you know what I mean? My heart would grip with fear, my emotions so strong, I felt overwhelmed. My faith would begin to falter. Have you ever felt that way?
Luke 8:24 “And they went and woke him saying, Master, Master, we are perishing!”
For a minute, let’s not look at our own situation, our own story, but look at what is being played out in Luke 8. The disciples find themselves in the boat WITH JESUS and they are worried about a storm. I can easily point my finger at them and judge them. I mean, they are worried about a storm when Jesus is LITERALLY WITH THEM in the boat! Do they really think God is not paying attention? It’s easy to judge them, isn’t it?
Now let’s step back into our own story. I KNOW I’m in the boat with Jesus. Do you? When the storms of life come, and the weather turns dark, it is unnerving. What does your storm look like? Maybe you lost your job, a relationship ended or you lost a loved one. Sometimes life can be very difficult. When the thunder, lightening and waves get so big and so strong, our emotions can begin to overwhelm us and we might focus on the problem and what we are feeling. Sometimes we are distracted by the problems and emotions and forget to THINK and remember that he is there….in the boat….with us. When despair knocks on the door of our heart, we have a choice of how we are going to respond.
Luke 8:24b-25 “He awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?”
God knows we are only human. He knows we are going to get focused on the storm from time to time and forget he’s in the boat with us. Nevertheless, he is calling us to look and see where and what we are putting our faith in? He is calling us to trust him more than our circumstances. This is my favorite miracle that Jesus performs in the Bible. It shows us that there is absolutely NOTHING, that is not subject to his authority. He is the Creator of the universe and everything in it. In the same chapter of Luke 8, in the verses that follow (Luke 8:26-32 & Ma. 8:32) Jesus encounters two demon possessed men. Before he even speaks, the demons know who he is and they beg him not to send them into the abyss. Scripture says he gives them permission to go into some nearby pigs and with one word “Go” he sends them. People…..what are we worried about??? When we find ourselves in the middle of a storm, we need to ask ourselves “Did God ask us to go here? We need to look around. Isn’t he with us? We need to ask ourselves “Where is our faith? Is it in our own abilities? Is it in the circumstances, or is it in God?
Food for thought:
It’s easy to judge others.
Don’t look at the storm instead of the One who has authority over it.
Is Jesus in your boat?
Are you willing “To go” wherever he wants to go?
Where is your faith?
Do you ever feel like life is getting the better of you? Maybe that weakness is rearing its ugly head? Maybe you feel like there is trouble or defeat everywhere you look. Sometimes life can feel that way. This morning I was reading some of the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 13. This chapter was such an encouragement to me. In this chapter he speaks of the kingdom of heaven, our life in him on this earth.
Ma. 13:32 “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
This scripture is encouraging to me on many levels, both personally and as a parent. When we hear the Word of God and accept it, believe it and apply it to our lives, something amazing happens. It germinates and transforms and grows into something that looks different, acts different. It transforms into a strong, beautiful plant that serves a purpose and even repopulates.
Hebrews 4:12 “The Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
The Word of God is ESSENTIAL to our lives. It is the water to our soul. It is essential to us becoming what God calls us to be. We don’t have to become or be this amazing person on our own or in our own power. We can’t! We need to water our soul, mind and spirit with the Word of God. He will transform us.
Philippians 3:9-10,12 “Not having righteousness of my own that comes from following the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, that DEPENDS on faith, that I may KNOW HIM and the power of his resurrection. Not that I have already obtained this or am perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Jesus Christ has made me his own.”
We need to water with The Word. In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus tells us the parable of the weeds. In this parable the servants see weeds in the wheat field. They ask the master if they should go pull the weeds. The master says no. He says that if they pull the weeds now, the wheat might get pulled up with them. The wheat is young, their roots are shallow and it is hard to tell them apart from the weeds. He says to let them grow together with the weeds, then at harvest (When they are grown, healthy and strong with deep roots, they will look different from the weeds) the weeds can be pulled and the wheat will not be affected. THIS WILL PREACH!!! We can apply this principal to our own walk as well as guidance for those of us who are parents. Notice that the master is not worried about the presence of the weeds. HE KNOWS, FOR CERTAIN, that if the field is watered and cared for, that the wheat will grow, transform and produce a harvest and that the weeds will not overcome the wheat. HE KNOWS that the weeds will be destroyed at the end. He knows that if he de-weeds the field before it is time, he might lose some of the wheat and he is NOT WILLING TO SACRIFICE ANY LOSS of the wheat. Doesn’t that make you feel so loved? He is not worried about the weeds. He knows the end result. We don’t need to worry about the weeds, just water our soul with The Word. In our lives, if we will simply feed our mind, soul and spirit with the miraculous, nourishing Word of God, we will slowly transform into his image and he will fulfill his purpose in our lives.
WORD TO PARENTS: As parents, we can have this same confidence. “His Word does not return void.” Is. 55:11 We need to keep speaking The Word of God over our kids and to our kids. We need to let our life speak his words and take them to church so they can be fed The Word. We can have confidence. “Raise a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (Notice there are no promises while they are young) When they are in the weeds, have faith!
“He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it.” Philippians 1:6
In Matthew 13:33 Jesus tells a parable of a woman who hid leaven in three measures of flour until it ALL became leaven. The Word of God is powerful!! We can have confidence as we hope in the Lord. He is not worried about the weeds.
We need to keep our eyes on our Savior, The Creator of the Universe, the great I AM. We need to get in his presence, keep teaching our kids about him and pray scripture over our family.
So be encouraged. Whether you are in the thick of it, surrounded by weeds, or it’s someone you love, you can have his confidence. You don’t have to worry about the weeds, just water with The Word. He will take care of the rest!
Have you ever attended a funeral? I just attended my second one in two months. In both services there was a common theme. People got up and talked about the lives of these women and how they loved God and served him. They had raised their children to know God and serve him. They loved and served others and pointed them to God. I sat there listening with a strong desire to live my life this way. I want to leave a legacy like that. When it is my turn to go, and someone plans to speak at my funeral, I want the first thing they think of when they think of me, to be “She loved God, she loved her family and and she loved people, and her life was spent walking out that love.” What do you want people to say about you?
Luke 6:45 “The good person, out of the good treasure of his heart, produces good, and the evil person, out of the evil treasure of his heart, produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
This verse speaks of treasure and abundance. It causes me to stop and ask myself, “What is the treasure in my heart?” “What are the most important things in my heart?” “What is there an abundance of?” What about you? What are the first two or three things that come to your mind, that you love most? For me, there are many things that fill my heart and my life. I think it’s probably safe to say we all have good and a little evil in there too. The question here is “What is the treasure and what is abundant?” If after some self reflection, we wouldn’t like how hard someone would have to work to say good things about us at our funeral, then we need to figure out how to get more of that good treasure in our hearts.
Psalm 119:11 “Your words have I treasured in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
Matthew 6:20 “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” vs 21 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
The treasures in our heart, are the things that are most important to us. They are what we love most, think about most, do the most. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the things of this world. God made them to bring us pleasure, but not to be our treasure. I love to travel, probably more than any other pleasure this world Has to offer. I enjoy it most, when I can do it with people I love. I love to share a beautiful view, a good glass of wine and great conversation with a friend or loved one. I enjoy pretty things. All of that is ok, as long as it isn’t the first things that pop into my head when I think of what is most important to me. What should fill up the abundance of my life, should be the time I spend with God, “Your Words have I treasured in my heart” and the time I spend with my family and others, loving them and serving them. What takes up the abundance of your time? Luke 6:45 “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” We do what we care about.
Self reflection is a good thing. I know there are some adjustments I want to make in my life. How about you? Do your treasures have an eternal legacy? What do you want your life to speak? One day when someone sifts through the story of our lives, what will the abundance of it look like? No one is perfect, least of all me, but I want the abundance of my life to be spent loving and serving God and others. I want to produce good. I want to make a positive difference in the lives of those I come in contact with. Let’s leave this world and the people in it, better for having known us.
I love this song. It is an oldie but a goodie!
As I sit down this morning in my usual spot on the couch with my cup of coffee in hand, I’m listening to an old hymn playing from my phone and I’m brought to tears.
“All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give. I will ever love and trust him, in his presence, I daily live, and I surrender all….” In my mind I picture a hope chest full of boxes. On each box there is a word written. Plans, marriage, career, children, pride, control…that one is a BIG box, mistakes, health, finances, ministry, relationships, anger, eating habits, time, talents, weaknesses, faith, patience, expectations, disappointments. I could go on and on. What is in your hope chest?
I have been on a journey for the last year. It has been exciting….scary….AMAZING…heartbreaking….and precious. Yes that description is all over the place! A lot like my emotions have been! I haven’t reached the end of this journey yet… I will let you in on a secret. If you know me well, it may not be such a secret. I do not have a slow bone in my body! My mind works very quickly. Unfortunately, my mouth is attached to it, so that’s not always good! 😮 Anyway, I do everything with an underlying sense of urgency. What that means is, I hate waiting!!! Maybe you can identify with me. On this journey I have had the Lord prompt me to “Go here” and “Do that” in some areas of my life, while in others, he has prompted me to “Wait” and to “Be still and know that I am God.” So as I said, my life has been all over the place while on this journey. Along the way, I have unpacked some of those boxes from my preverbal hope chest and laid them at the feet of my Savior. Each time I think I have things figured out, I see another box I need to unpack and lay down. Sometimes…..I lay one down at his feet, then go back later and pick it up. Do you ever do that?
Ps. 25:11 “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.”
Here it is Lord! I surrender my control. I surrender my expectations…. my timeline. I surrender all….
Ps. 25:12 “Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him, he will instruct in the way he should go.”
Ps. 27:8 “Lord you have said “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
Ps. 25:13 “His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land.”
My friends, I encourage you to unpack your boxes and lay them at his feet and seek his face. In my earlier description of my journey, I used the word “precious.” I have been seeking his face and every now and then, I bump right into him! He will meet me in a very personal and specific way that shows such love and intimacy… I can barely believe it when it happens. When it happens, it reminds me of the scripture where David says “What is man that you are mindful of him?” It also reminds me of the song “His Eye is On The Sparrow”
Ps. 25:14 “The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.”
“I will ever love and trust him, in his presence I daily live, and I surrender all….. I surrender all….. I surrender all, all to thee my blessed Savior, I……surrender……..all. I hope you will be encouraged by these words and seek his face and his presence. It’s a precious place to be…
This scripture sums up how I feel right now in my journey. My declaration.
Psalms 26:6-7 ESV
“I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O Lord, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.”
Have you ever watched a really good suspenseful movie twice? I love to rewatch my favorite movies over and over again. However, it is never as emotionally intense as it is the first time I watch it. I remember watching “Saving Private Ryan” with Tom Hanks. The battle scene on Omaha Beach left a mark on my soul. As I watched it the first time, I emotionally and mentally put myself in their shoes. I felt hopeless…It was like shooting fish in a barrel. The bravery of those men to get off of that boat and try to move forward under that heavy attack is absolutely astounding to me.
The feeling of hopelessness makes it extremely difficult to fight, to keep going, to even try. Fortunately for the whole world, the men on those boats DID fight, did keep going, did try…..and succeeded! Now that I have seen the movie several times, I don’t feel hopeless when I watch that scene. I just sit with tears streaming down my face and watch in amazement at the bravery of those men. The stress and worry about what is going to happen and who’s going to make it, is gone. I know what is going to happen in that scene. In fact, I know the ending of the whole movie. Wouldn’t it be helpful in stressful, or difficult situations in our real lives to know ahead of time how things are going to work out? Maybe there is something you are going through right now that is difficult. You may be worried about a marriage, a health diagnosis, a child or a job situation. I can certainly relate. I think we all have been there a time or two, maybe even right now.
In Isaiah 43:1-4 God speaks to us. “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.”
Oddly enough, he begins with a spoiler alert! He tells the ending in the very first verse! Verse one says “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” He then goes on to tell us that we may encounter difficulties, even disastrous circumstances where we might feel frightened, exhausted, discouraged, even hopeless, but he says you WILL NOT be overwhelmed or consumed by these circumstances. Remember, he says at the very beginning, I HAVE redeemed you….not I WILL redeem you, but I ALREADY HAVE. It’s a done deal. The victory is SURE. It may be frightening, it may be exhausting to fight the battle. At times the battle may ebb and flow and look like there is no hope for victory, BUT…. you can have peace in the middle of the battle, even when the bullets are flying in front of your face. You can have confidence that the battle is already won. You just have to keep moving forward. Keep praying, keep spending time in worship and reading his Word. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. You do your part. He has ALREADY done his. Why has he already won the victory? Verse four tells us, “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.” He starts with the spoiler alert, in hopes of relieving the intense emotions that we can feel as humans when we are facing something devastating or seemingly hopeless, like when you watch that suspenseful movie for the first time. So, take a deep breath. He says in verse three “For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One, your Savior.” Scripture tells us that sometimes life will be hard, even frightening. So how do we walk through the river of troubles and the fire of devastating circumstances and not be emotionally overwhelmed and consumed? Over Christmas holiday I spent some time with my husbands grandmother, who has since passed on to be with her Savior. She was a mighty woman of God. I asked her this same question….I asked her how she did it. She gave me a scripture that got her through the tough times. Isaiah 26:3 (Yes Isaiah again! There is a lot of helpful scripture in that book!) It says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in You.” I will admit that it sounds easier than it is. I struggle. I do believe that every word He says is true. I have faith that he will keep his promises. The peace part is where I struggle….What did that verse say again? “he whose MIND is STAYED ON THEE.” So that is how I survive the stressful situations in my life. It’s not rocket science. The answers are right there in black and white. However, it does take mental discipline. I KNOW he is faithful. I know the ending. I just have to keep spending time in worship and scripture to remind me of who he is. One last time, lets look at scripture to remind ourselves of who He is. Of course, it’s in Isaiah. In Isaiah 40:28-31 God speaks to us himself…
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable (His thoughts are higher than ours…He sees the WHOLE picture, while we only see a part) He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no more might, he increases strength. Even young strong men will get exhausted; but they who WAIT for the Lord (in faith, in his presence, while HE fights and WINS the battle) shall renew their strength; then they will mount up with wings like eagles (having rested in his presence) and will be able to run and not be weary; they will walk and not faint.”
I hope these scriptures encourage you when you are being attacked by the enemy. They are a light and a hope for me. I will add one piece of advice. Don’t go through it alone. Find some trusted prayer warriors to support you. If you don’t know any, call or walk into a Bible believing church. They will have a prayer team that will dutifully pray over your situation. Never forget, He says, “Fear not, I HAVE redeemed you.”
One of my friends posted on Facebook this morning a cute picture with a saying…”When I get to the pearly gates, He’s going to say, boy did you keep me busy!” FOR REAL!!!!! I am about to launch my last child into high school this week and I feel like if I were at the pearly gates right now, I would be rounding the corner from “Well done faithful servant” to “We need to talk!”
Do you think God would FaceTime me? I feel so unqualified to do this mom thing. Some days I feel like a failure. Other days not so much. I don’t know about your world, but that’s about where I am these days!!! I DO know with absolute confidence that God is in complete control and is taking this all in stride…Now how do I do that??? As my last child goes begrudgingly back to school, I will immerse myself in the presence of my Lord and Savior through worship and reading his Word until I feel like I have FaceTimed with God himself! Then maybe I can walk with grace and dignity….(ok…..maybe) I can walk through this next season of my life with confidence that even though I can only do MY best….God will be doing HIS best, and he will complete that which he began, and fulfill His purpose in my children’s lives, as well as my mine and my husbands. THIS is my hope, my prayer and my confidence. It’s my confidence BECAUSE my God keeps his promises. Period. As all parents of school age children know, our year starts now, not in January, but at the end of August. So here we go! With faith, hope and a promise. On your mark, get ready, get set, GO! Go hug your children and your spouse. Go pray. Go read his Word and get some face time with God.
Philippians 1:6 “He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it.
1Peter 5:7 “Cast all your care upon him, for he cares for you.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways, acknowledge him and he will direct your path.”