2018 was a whirlwind. There were days of pure delight, and, days I wondered if I would ever feel settled. It is so easy to second guess myself when life gets messy. So often, I have walked through the door of doubt into rooms of misgivings and confusion. And, if the truth be told, those moments of uncertainty most frequently come when I am forced outside my comfort zone, when the Lord’s plan looks totally different than my vision of the plan. Upon listening to Pastor Michael Todd preach about vision and release, I asked the Lord to whisper where He would have me grow for 2019. I needed a word He wanted me to study – one to implement more into my daily walk with Him. Trust. It wasn’t the word I necessarily wanted, nevertheless, it is an area He said I needed to grow. Trust in His process, trust in His preparation, trust in His provision, simply trust in Him. Steven Furtick asserted this, “Trust takes time,” and I would have to agree. It does take time, it takes a lifetime of trusting in His ways, and in His love, because He is the One who orders all our steps. He knows the end from the beginning, and all the in-between. Lisa Bevere admonished, “Often knowing when you are is more important than where you are.” With every single day of this new year, this becomes more evident to me. To make a move toward Him is sometimes to simply sit still at His feet, listening and learning, right where you are. Trusting He allowed you to be there for a reason.
How could the day have begun with such frustration, such longing? She is on the backside of her forties, living for Jesus, married, and has more blessings than she can count. And, it was Valentine’s Day. So why had her heart found itself so sorrowful? She needed to know. As a cyclone of emotions whirled through her soul, her mind wandered back over her day. Her Father seemed to gently guide her memory to an early morning moment – love had switched tracks with disappointment and derailed her focus. She had built up an event in her mind that turned out to be a non-event. No flowers, no grand gestures of love – an argument was left in their stead. All day she had allowed herself to walk with the scoundrel comparison. The smooth criminal was dressed for success, and had happily stolen pieces of her peace with every “why can’t my husband be sweet like that?” It had been easy to feel justified in her envy – and, in her disappointment – until she remembered the truth of His word. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. She knew her husband loved her, she knew she loved him too. So, she told him all that was in her heart, and listened as he shared his with her. She let go of comparison’s hand and held on to her sweetheart’s – the precious man her Maker had given her to love and cherish. Peace restored, focus regained, and love revived. A little later that evening, when the waiter handed her a complimetary rose and wished her a Happy Valentine’s Day, she knew. She knew her Father had been listening intently to her heart. She knew His love for her was true and steady, it was strong and perfect. She knew His banner over her would always be love. He would be her forever Valentine, and she was content in the knowing.
God is forever challenging us to be who He wants us to be. I’m thankful He never gives up (even when we get discouraged.) When dreams get lost, or disappointment and failure crop up, unfortunately, it is easy to grow frustrated. Before we know it, we are in a place of coldness and doubt, and sometimes, even unbelief. I reached that place, and stayed there for many years. I thought God would heal me completely if I could just be a good Christian. I had unwittingly put limitations on my faith. My willingness to accept God’s grace was severely hindered. I lived a defeated life, feeling I could never measure up, nor could I be deserving of God’s blessings. It took me a while to realize the truth is I can’t. I never will. That is exactly why it’s called grace! It is a divinely unmerited favor. There is such freedom in realizing this truth – in believing fully He wants so much goodness for our lives. John 10:10 exclaims He came not only to give us life, but that we might have it more abundantly. His healing for me has come on a different level, and in ways that I can’t explain or comprehend. He has shown me a strength and quiet grace that can only come from Him. So, even though pain, heartache, and moments of frustration come, there is a peace in knowing relief can be found in Christ. His strength is made perfect in our weakness, and His mercies are not limited (or withheld) because of our performance. He is teaching me daily it is not about me at all, but rather, it’s all about Him!
He gives us everything we need. ❤
God’s timing is often a hard thing for many of us (especially me) to understand; it is easy to allow impatience to confuse us. Yet, His ways are always perfect, and trusting this truth clears the way for His purpose. His word assures us that we are not the first ones to have to wait on His timing, and we most certainly will not be the last. He is always working for our good and His glory. So, the next time we wonder why things aren’t happening right now, or why it seems prayers are going unheard, let us encourage one another to remember His promises. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we could ever think or ask. God knows best how to work the land of our lives. He has already surveyed the path we walk, He knows what lies ahead, He will bring more contentment and joy than our “right nows” could ever bring.
Learning to be content, learning to be still, and learning to lean are all difficult for me. I wonder why I get so easily discouraged sometimes, and then, I remember – the enemy of my faith is more subtle than any other foe. However, as I was listening to a Tony Evan’s sermon once, I heard him say this, “God’s perspective changes the way you look at things.” God will use the mess to create beauty. He made us out of dirt didn’t He? Rahab, a prostitute. David, an adulterer. Saul, a murderer. Peter, a liar. All called out from the muck of sinful attitudes and lives to be used mightily of God. Let the Word put things in the right perspective. As His child, we are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (I Corinthians 6:11) Jesus redeems, His blood cleanses from all unrighteousness. Enough said. When our dreams are centered in His will, they can never be too grand because it is the Father’s good pleasure to give His children the kingdom. It is when we are not looking at things from His perspective that desires become inundated with the world’s expectations and become distorted. We are more than conquerors through Christ, and when we seek to make Him foremost in our lives, nothing is impossible with Him. Nothing. Today we can rest in the great and capable hands of the Father – learning, and leaning, content in the stillness
A blank page can either be exciting or frustrating. I know this, because as a writer, I have felt both exileration and annoyance when trying to communicate my thoughts through script. Both experiences require a generous supply of patience and grace. I have a passion to share what an amazing friend my Jesus is, so, sometimes I rush through a process meant to take time. Conversely, there are some days I procrastinate sharing what I should because I am unsure of how to say it. Patience. Grace. Both encounters need them. Life is like that too; we need a deep reserve of patience and grace to draw from. Guess what. We have a reserve like that – His name is called Wonderful, Counselor, Jesus. He knows what we face each day – the good and the bad. He daily intercedes for us in prayer with divine patience and grace we cannot fathom. So, on the days when my eagerness is hard to contain, He steers me away from rash decisions and fills me His patient wisdom. And, in those irritating moments when I am disappointed and confused, He has forgiving grace to see me through to a peace that passes all understanding. Life, it’s a blank page of sorts. And, I am ever learning, the Author of mine is a best-seller.
As I sat in a classroom the other day, I was struck by a simple, yet profound, truth – our struggles are never wasted. Five years ago, when I was sitting in my college Algebra class (with my hand covering my tears,) if you had said I would be a Math tutor one day, I would have laughed out loud – seriously! I mean, even now, in our upper learning center where I work, there is a joke – if it’s a Math problem ask Mr. Taylor, if it’s English, ask Mrs. Brown. Truth. And, honestly, I have been super with that. However, God had another plan, and it involved my dislike of numbers. I knew this as soon as I looked up at the problems I had worked through with a struggling student. You see, because I know what it is like to battle mathematics, I understand every frustrated tear falling down my sweet student’s face. I get it. And she can tell. As we work our way through, I see the loving hand of my Father teaching me He is always working things out for our good. Every difficulty we face, each weakness we muddle through, and all the battles we fight will be filled with potential to bring Him glory. And yes, I know all-too-well the struggle is real. Yet, when we are weak, His strength is made perfect. God will use our inadequacies, weaknesses, and areas of difficulty to make us better encouragers, better teachers, better friends, better human beings. Remember, struggles are never wasted if we allow them to be used – for real.
“The devil wouldn’t tie you up if he wasn’t afraid of what would happen if you got loose.” Pastor Steven Furtick, Elevation Church You Must Be Important
As a woman loosed from the chains of addiction, I know what its like to be “tied” up and struggling. There are chains you feel you’ll never break. But when Jesus set me free from all that, I knew God had a purpose for me. And although it has been 7 years since those shackles fell off, the enemy of my peace, the opposition of my joy, the naysayer of my faith is always looking for new ways to constrain me from fulfilling my divine destiny. But oh my soul, and with all that is within me, I will keep praising the Lord, for He that is within me is greater than he that is within the world. I don’t know much y’all, but I know this – Jesus loved me enough to die for me. That kind of love is more than powerful enough to bring me into His purpose for my life. He who begins the good work in us is faithful to complete it!
A few years ago, my Father saw me afar off and came running to meet me on my way back to His house. These past years have been filled with His patient forgiveness, His abundant grace, His passionate devotion, and His abiding peace. I long to be an instrument of His peace in the lives of
of others who need encouragement as I did (and still do.) My heart is to be an arrow in His quiver, spreading the good news of His love and power to others.