Friday, October 24, 2014

In Alert Expectancy


24 straight posts I have published on this “sweet” blog. As I take a minute to reflect on that fact I am completely in awe of God and His ability to do ANYTHING. Ask Tyler, I am the opposite of a “morning person,” and yet for God has managed to get my lazy self out of bed early to type these messages from Him!

A friend asked how I have been able to do this writing challenge; it’s a daunting task. I loved her asking that question because I could be honest and say that the night before I begin to feel butterflies in my stomach over the next post. I tell God, what in the world will I write about tomorrow? And so clearly, in my spirit, He says, “Haven’t I provided the words every. single. time.? Go to sleep and have faith that I will equip you for this thing I have called you to do.” And each morning I pray about what needs to be said and He has provided. 24 straight times.

 Any other time of my life I would have been way too afraid and insecure to try a writing challenge like this, but after the trials I faced with my dear friends this past year and sitting with people in their grief, I can now attest to the fact that our God is indeed bigger than what I had previously thought. Even though it’s not like I had a picnic my whole life either and I probably should have already learned this about Him.

 “There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” Romans 5:3-4 msg

Y’all. I can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God is doing.

I cannot say my patience is passionate as the verse says necessarily, but I get what Paul is saying. I have been on high alert for months now and witnessed the fruit of waiting as God’s perfect timing is revealed. I didn’t say I wait perfectly, but I see the benefits of allowing God to work His plan rather than rushing ahead of Him causing myself pain and anxiety. I type that last sentence very hesitantly knowing there will be a time one of you will have to remind me that I said it!

So what do we do in this waiting period? We praise Him and we continue to ready ourselves for battle. Then we feel all “equipped” to fight and the only thing left to do is be still and know that He is God.
http://biblia.com/bible/esv/Psalm%2027.14
I received a text the other day from a friend right in the moment I felt like things were not moving along the way I thought they should be, 

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:14

It was just a short little verse that changed the trajectory of my day. It let me take a deep breath, lower my shoulders that have been up around my ears from tension for weeks now, and instead of feeling the need to be heard, it reminded me to be a listener.

Later I looked up the context of the verse. Moses was fleeing with his people to escape the Pharaoh and his Egyptian army. Just when they thought they might be getting away, they come across the enormous Red Sea in their path.

Imagine their desperation. Moses obeyed God and this is where He led them? The Israelites start questioning it all and whining about being brought to such an impossible place. God then parts the sea right down the middle and allows his people safe passage.

Who gets the glory after being delivered in that manner? Almighty God. No one else.

I feel power, peace and energy from the prayers so many of you are sending on behalf of my sister’s family…but this is when we wait expectantly for God to be who He says He is. I know He will provide. He is faithful.

What sea do you need parting in your life? Do you believe God can do it?

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” Ephesians 6:13-17 msg

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fear


Where does fear lead you?

I think back six or so years ago and I wonder if the person I was then would read the blog I have today. It’s a weird thought, but interesting. I have changed so much from that person I used to be. I think I would read it but when the post got a bit wordy about God I would skim through it and not believe it for myself. 

What a difference a few years makes.

When Thomas died where did the fear lead me?

I hadn’t thought much about that question until I read some of the comments under this morning’s www.ifequip.com. The passage is from Genesis 19 after God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot took his daughters from where they lived into a cave in the hills because of his fear. There some terrible decisions were made that affected generations.

What I am learning is that decisions we make out of a place of high anxiety or fear need to be monitored. I am praising God today that I had an army of wise people around me in my time of severe crushing. When I turned to ask “why” or had to make choices for my kids and myself in that place of depression there were many sound minds grounded in God’s truth ready to listen and guide me if need be. My flesh really wanted to just escape from the place of pain…to retreat or self-medicate or whatever that might be. In God’s mercy, He even used my pregnancy to help me make healthy choices. 

I believe if I had chosen to follow God during that awful time He would have still blessed the decision and provided what I needed to make it through, but by God’s grace, I had chosen to follow him just a short few years before the accident at age 19. The decision was made at a time when I did not have crushing persecution or fiery trial in my life. I just chose Him and went to church. That’s it. He definitely guided me through those early years as a Christian, but it wasn’t until the time of intense pain did I see the bounty of fruit from that “simple” decision.
In my fear I believe I would have tried to retreat from the world. Isolate myself as Lot did in his cave in order to feel in control of my situation. Very bad decisions tend to be made in a place of fear unless there is aid of outside godly counsel. 

Go where “wisdom gathers, not where wisdom scatters.” The outcome of the decisions made will be vastly different depending on where you are. Praise be to God that instead of retreating from Him, I ran full force to Him. I had heard enough sermons to know He is our refuge; He is not the author of pain, but deliverance. He will work everything for our good, but sometimes we need some wise people to point us in the direction of Him. The hard part to understand is that God gifted us with free will instead of forcing us to love and choose him. I had the wise counsel in place, but it was still up to me to decide to take it or not.
http://thebestyes.com/
Thank you all for intentionally directing me to Him. Six years later I am still seeing the fruit from those decisions made; it could have turned out much differently.

Where might fear be leading you?

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:2

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 22: Why?


I have been thinking about my kids reading this blog in its entirety some day in the future, Lord willing, and that they may decide based on what I have written it sounds like I have everything figured out about my faith. I do not want to give off that impression. I want them to know I have doubts about God’s goodness, that I get mad at God and I question Him as to why He allows things to happen. Because I do those all of those things and more.

More often than I would like to admit.

God created each of us down to the smallest detail. I love that about Him and honestly, I don’t understand it either. Why would He allow people to have heart conditions, anxiety, or cancer or have people live in a country where there is water in multiple rooms of our house and then others do not have access to clean water at all? 

The “Christian” answer I believe is that these “hardships” are to be reminders of the broken world we live in; God desired for us to have a perfect world to enjoy, but He also loved us so much He created us with freewill to let us choose a relationship with Him rather than assembling an army of robots wired to follow Him. The challenges we are created with help point us and others in the direction of God to find relief, so when we choose Him we find joy, goodness and freedom despite our “issues”, which is simply amazing. These conditions also makes us empathetic for others which directs us to loving one another and sharing with them how we found our strength to overcome in Jesus, and we all know the joy to be found when we take care of each other. Also, Paul talks about his own “thorn in his side” and there are many stories of believers suffering famine or persecution…so we are in good company. We read over and over in the bible that ALL things work together for our God for those that love Him. If you’ll allow me to conclude this as a second grader would…All in all, His ways are not our ways.

Okay. That sounds reasonable right now. 

But, then the time arrives where we hear about people committing unthinkable acts of terror or there is a new diagnosis for ourselves or a loved one, and my flesh side of me says: That’s all fine and dandy that He works it all for our good , but it just doesn’t make sense. I don’t like it. I think there could have been a better way in creating the world. How could a loving God let us feel such pain? Why do some people’s hardships seem so much worse than another person’s? It seems unfair. Wah, wah, wah… Yes, it sounds like I am whining, because I AM WHINING!

I look at those two paragraphs above and you know what? They are both what I feel and know depending on the day. And I have come to a place in my faith that there is room for both of those “arguments.” What it boils down to is whether or not I’m feeling God’s love, it is there and it is unfailing. I know my feelings do not always reflect what is really happening. Feelings are reactions to circumstances. I may question God, but so does Job and David, and if we are honest—don’t we all?? Unless you are Jesus, you are not complete yet. There is still work to be done in all of us until the day we are told, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” God knows our hearts. If we have accepted Jesus, our sins are paid for. He can take my unbelief of His goodness during those hard times, as long as I believe in Him. I wholeheartedly believe in God. It’s the believing God that is a challenge when in a trial. 

He does equip us for the trials we will surely face while on earth if we let Him. I have found His promises are true time after time; most days I have even come to terms with "His ways not being my ways." He eases this process by allowing me to have joy that overflows which is undeniably from Him. I will be obedient today, and choose Him. I will choose joy.

What are you choosing to believe today?

 “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24b

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts…
 You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.” Isaiah 55:8-9 &12-13

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day 21: Waiting

Click here to see all the posts in this 31 day series
While we anxiously await the date for my nephew’s surgery we are fragile. We are feeling God’s peace from all of your prayers, which is a tremendous blessing, but it’s like living in a hyper-aware state where even loud noises cause us to tremble.

There is a genetic component to congenital heart conditions so my sister found out yesterday while in Little Rock they will do an echo on Sadie and a fetal echo on Millie. Please be in prayer for the girls as well as Jett, as he will have an additional CT scan on his pre-op day.

God’s peace is so obvious that we have fears people will stop praying when they see we are “doing all right.” Please keep praying and adding this family to prayer lists please. Your prayers are what are sustaining us.

We also ask for prayers for the Roark family as Casey’s son has an important checkup today at Children’s. She has been such a blessing to spend time preparing us for what to expect during the week-long stay at ACH. She has also helped with tips on how to talk to Jett about the surgery which Becky and Travis are waiting to do until it is closer to the date. There is no reason to have him be anxiously waiting with us.

As I continue to process all of the events of the last few months, God gave us a gift of an answered prayer for a family yesterday. His timing is perfect so we are trusting and believing it for ourselves as well.

Many thanks and love to you all for your encouragement! You do not know how much it helps my sister to hear from you all and know that you are thinking of her and her family.

I know I used this verse already during a divine moment from God that I did not plan, but it's worth posting again:

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:26-28