That is what I experienced in the last couple days..God’s unchanging grace. We are going through an unexpected trial right now ( are they ever expected!) and I had a very bad day yesterday. I felt like the grace of God was not to be found..I was left with my own raw emotions. It was not a pretty picture. Old angry feelings emerged..scenes from the past haunted me..I could not find God. I felt so alone.
Thankfully I had the presence of mind to cry out and ask God for faith and encouragement..even though I was angry at Him for allowing these circumstances. Of course He was right there and even before I went to sleep I began to sense the grace again..the encouragement and the hope that I thought was lost.
This small experience was enough to remind me that I need Him every single moment and that there is no place to go during the trial except straight to Him..even with all the anger and unbelief. He does not change. His heart is the same and He is not at the mercy of His feelings..because His love for us is much deeper than anything we understand.
I woke up this morning with a scripture that God has given me over and over again..He gave it to us at our wedding and it is a promise that I hold on to with all my heart. I hope it brings encouragement to you today.. He is our redeemer and His promises are forever.
Here it is:
“The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you. Once again you will have all the food you want, and you will praise the Lord your God, who does these miracles for you. Never again will my people be disgraced. Then you will know that I am among my people Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and there is no other. Never again will my people be disgraced.”
Sometimes it seems to me like God is issuing secret orders..or directions. They appear in different ways in my life when I least expect them. They are not especially complex..in fact they are often simple. He will tell me to go somewhere or call someone. It happens through ideas from other people or just a simple thought that surfaces when I am alone with Him. I usually wonder why I need to do whatever it is.. sometimes it makes no sense at all.
Later I may realize that it was a secret directive..a step in a new direction. There is something on this path..an unexpected turn in the road is leading me to a wonderful blessing that only He knew about. These times help me to appreciate more fully the truth that God is intimately involved with us. Not only is He ahead of us..He likes to surprise us by not revealing the bigger picture and leading us step by step.
I am reminded of the feeling I get before Christmas when I look in my closet. There are presents in there..each of them picked out for members of my family..surprises. I can’t wait to see the look on their faces as they open their gifts. The delight in their eyes..the amazment that someone took the time to know exactly what they might want. Now that I am a grandmother..I have sharpened the skill needed to do this.. I enjoy it more and more each year.
Do you believe that God feels the same way about us? Each year that we spend in relationship with Him.. He knows us better. He has a file on us that tells Him what will totally surprise us. He keeps the details secret until just the right moment. Suddenly He beckons us forward to an unknown place..a turn in road that will lead us to life-giving moments with Him. He plans our route and directs us in unique ways..teaching us to trust Him and to follow Him.
We are on an amazing journey..following our great God..what will He do next?
“I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.”
We don’t find it in the world..do we? Or in our circumstances. Do you long for it? A place where you are safe..some feeling of stability..a resting place. I need this in my life and so do you. We may try and get it from other people..seeking security in our relationships. It never works. It turns into idolatry and becomes unhealthy. People disappoint us..they fail..we fail..the relationship deteriorates.
Our circumstances are never predictable..we cannot rest there either. So where do we find this place of peace? Inside the heart of God. He is our safe place. He never changes..He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We can wake up each morning knowing that we are safe and secure in Him. He watches us as we chase after false comforts longing for us to tire of our own solutions. He waits with infinite patience as we try to get our needs met without Him.
When we finally get tired and worn out..He is ready to take us in His arms and renew us..to restore us..to hold us..to refresh us. We have this amazing God who created us in His image and understands us perfectly.. there is nothing more we need to feel totally secure.
” The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”
That’s where we are..being held by Him. It doesn’t always feel like that..we forget it..or maybe we don’t believe it. God could not be that focused on me..He is so big and there are so many of us..yes it is unbelievable. He is able to know each of us intimately and to remember the details of our lives individually..how is that possible? We will never truly understand..it is part of the mystery. He is infinite and we are finite.
He is our creator..provider..refuge..sanctuary..father..mother..friend…our safe place. There is so much that we cannot comprehend..God is not in a box..He is larger than our imaginations. We try so hard to interpret and understand Him..in reality we see “through a glass darkly.” The holiness of God..the trinity..His sovereignty..omniscence..providence..all of it is amazing and we must live in the tension of not fully comprehending our God.
He never promises us full understanding. He tells us to live a life of faith..based on believing what He tells us and knowing He is for us. Our human minds can be like a plague..always analyzing and trying to guess His next move. His ways are not our ways..do we really get that? We can make idols of our ideas and interpretations..He breaks through those to reveal Himself as different from any of these preconceived ideas.
One thing we can know is His heart..it is for us. We are His. We belong to Him. He loves us and He pours out His grace into our lives. He is sufficient. We are in the palm of His hand.
” See! I will not forget you… I have carved you on the palm of my hand.”
Let’s start with me. My heart is heavy..reading about the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and praying for that situation..realizing how unsafe the world is..it weighs me down. Nothing can change what has happened to that woman and those that love her. It is a tragedy. This is not the first shooting that makes no sense and it won’t be the last. We live in a fallen world..a broken world. Our fragile lives can be lost so quickly and easily..we live in a state of constant insecurity as our culture moves into a more chaotic and frightening state..we all feel it.
Sounds depressing doesn’t it? I know. It all adds up to one thing..we need to be rescued..over and over. We need to be saved from all of this each and every day. We need to be comforted and encouraged. We need to be reminded that this is not all there is. We need to draw near to God and to be filled with courage and strength. We need to be thankful that we have our lives..to appreciate each new day. We need to live fully with the knowledge that God is with us.
He has us in the palm of His hand. This world may be out of control..but He knows and He sees. He cares about the condition of our heart. It matters to Him more than it matters to us. He is the rescuer, healer, and comforter. We can’t deal with all this stuff on our own..we need to run to Him and let Him hold us and reassure us. I am desperate for Him today.. how about you?
“Oh Lord, the hope of Israel, all who turn away from you will be disgraced. They will be buried in the dust of the earth, for they have abandoned the Lord, the fountain of living water. O Lord if you heal me I will truly be healed; if you save me I will truly be saved. My praises are for You alone!…You alone are my hope in the day of disaster”
A word that is thrown around quite a bit these days. We know we all have it..but what does it mean? It means we have a past..and the older we get the more that past is a part of who we are. We can’t just walk away from it. We can pretend that nothing has happened to us.. that won’t work. We have baggage that impacts our relationships and our ability to embrace the future.
The good news that is that this does not mean we have to be stuck in the past or that we need to keep re-visiting the past over and over. Somehow we need to make peace with the past. To work with it until it has no more power over us. We need to process it but not obsess over it. The past can be a trap.. at the bottom of that deep well lies resentment and bitterness. We can’t change what has happened to us..we can’t relive it all or erase it..we can only accept it and ask God to help us live in our present reality without being chained to past hurts and woundings.
Once again we must come to the Healer and ask for His help. Our willingness is all He needs. He knows we have no ability to fix ourselves..or anyone else. He is able to take all that has happened.. all our baggage and make it into something beautiful. It doesn’t matter what you have done or what has happened to you..He is able to restore your broken heart.. to remove your shame..to diffuse your anger..to lift you out of your depression and to put you on solid ground. His ways are not our ways..He heals our broken hearts and restores our lives.
” To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.”
As you walk through this day I hope you are able to rejoice in Him remembering that He is the gift. His presence..His provision and His love for us. Let’s anticipate together all the good things that He has in mind for us as we wait for Christmas to appear. It is only a reminder of Him..we have Him every single day.. throughout our lives no matter what we are doing or where we are.
God impressed that upon me yesterday. As I was thinking about a future plan and feeling insecure.. God spoke ” I am with you” today and that day in the future. He says that He will never leave us or forsake us. He promises to take us through every valley and be with us on every mountain top. His arms are around us..holding us and keeping us from falling.
His gifts to us are His faithfulness, His unchanging nature, His sovereignty, His amazing Grace and His unconditional love. Let’s unwrap each one on Christmas morning..receiving them and holding them close to our hearts. He knows every need you have and every dream you are dreaming. He adores you..more than you will ever know.
I pray that God’s blessings will overflow as you celebrate..that His presence will be more real than you ever imagined..tomorrow and every day after.
That is the goal for most of us.. and for some of us this is a huge challenge. We are wired to feel things deeply..to react emotionally to the challenges of life. What do we do with all these emotions? Did God make a mistake by giving them to us? No..He did not. He wants us to experience them.. to embrace them.. and to understand how they work.
We were created with feelings for a reason. God works through them and He reaches our hearts this way. Our problems begin when the feelings dominate and control us. Some of us react by trying to get rid of them..this does not work. We hope to bring get them under control through medication, alcohol,obsessive exercise, sexual relationships, shopping, over eating, starving ourselves or any other activity that turns into an addiction. It won’t work in the big picture..they will re-surface and we will have to deal with them.
Remember God gave us emotions..He wants us to have them. Without them we cannot choose anything that He has to offer us. So how do we deal with them? There is no easy answer.. if they are really out of control.. get some help. Find someone to talk with and begin to dig deeply into the issues that may be triggering your present situation. If you have unresolved grief and loss your present feelings are tied to the past. They are trying to tell you something..they need attention.
If you have done this work and you are still struggling than remember that God wants us to learn to manage our emotions..to keep them from dominating our lives. We need to return to Him continually and confess our need for emotional stability..asking Him to guard our hearts. This is very helpful if you are longing for things that have not happened. He will help you keep the longing alive but at the same time to keep your balance so you are not desperate or overwhelmed.
God wants us to have emotional health. His desire is that we are emotionally, spiritually, and physically as whole as we can be. He knows the challenges we face in today’s world and He has not abandoned us. He is with us and He will meet us as we keep running into His arms.
Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, ” Come and talk with me.” My heart responds, ” Lord I am coming.” …Don’t leave me now, don’t abandon me…the Lord will hold me close.
Soft means pliable, able to be molded, tender, and gentle. God has a soft heart. As we follow after Him He gives us this type of heart. He also guards our heart so that the trials and tests of this world don’t cause us to become hardened.
Disappointment and discouragement threaten our hearts and weight them down. This is the time to cling to God and wait for His deliverance. He knows us and He will not require more from us than we can give..it may seem like He does.. but He truly knows when we are at a breaking point. Just when we feel like our hearts will break and we cannot go on..He will come in and do something to bring us hope and relief. Amazing but true. Our limitations are known by Him. He stretches us and challenges us but He also watches over us. The tension of this life is not easy.
We are being taught to believe in His sovereignty when we cannot see even a foot in front of us and all seems lost. We are being trained to walk close to Him through suffering and loss. He is with us and His plan for us cannot be destroyed. We have an enemy who uses despair and hopelessness to drive us away from God..if we run toward Him we are safe in His arms. He loves it when we turn toward Him..when we step out in faith..when we trust Him..He rewards us and showers us with blessings as we walk in His ways.
“He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries.”