Today is day 11 of Lent. The season is 40 days and lasts until Easter… we are about to enter the second week of Lent officially starting tomorrow. Interestingly as I have started taking this season seriously.. God has been revealing things to me. It seems that the pattern is the same during Lent and actually any other season. Once I decide to eliminate some things that take too much time(and in the end add up to nothing) God moves into the empty space and speaks things I need to hear.
First I decided to spend less time on the computer and that meant getting off Facebook.. then it seemed like He asked me to give up something that I thought was a positive in my life. I sensed the Lord asking me to let go of trying to help people with problems that seemed overwhelming. As a counselor.. that is my work and I understand the support I give people is needed and part of God’s plan for my clients and for me. Outside of this setting.. I can be a type of rescuer.. wanting to fix people and give them lots of my time and energy.. So it was very interesting to realize that I need to have better boundaries in my personal life and trust God with the people who are struggling. He continually reminds me that I have limited energy and He does not want me to be depleted by taking on burdens that don’t belong to me.. This has been a process for me.. it is not something new, but this time He is going deeper and asking more from me.
It is all a matter of trust. Trusting Him to help those I cannot help. Trusting Him to comfort and encourage the brokenhearted. Trusting that He will bring others into the places I cannot go. So.. I am continuing the journey and asking Him to forgive me for the things He is identifying in my character that I need to give to Him and trusting that this will be a fruitful 40 days…believing that I will see things in a new way by the time we get to Easter!
I have posted a few pictures of my little Lent art journal.. staying in His word and creating art together is rich and a good use of time:)
This sentence that has been floating around my mind for the last week. I am surprised at how much I say this to people and how important it is for us to understand. When we let go of something or someone to the Lord, we are not giving up on that desire or that person. We are also not hanging on.. it is a bit of a balancing act.
What happens is we release our desires, longings and unfulfilled dreams into our Creator’s hands. We tell Him that we are trusting Him and that we know that we cannot make these things happen on our own. We are actually giving them to Him for safe keeping and if they are for our best..He will bring them back to us. It is an act of Faith..and Trust.
The problem we have is we believe this means we are giving up.. throwing in the towel.. We try to kill our hearts where these desires and longings live. We pretend that we don’t care..we say that it does not matter. The truth is they do matter and we do care.. there is nothing wrong with that picture.. with those emotions.
Our God is in the business of fulfilling desires and longings.. He is the giver of all good gifts and the one who cherishes the deep things that we have in our hearts. This does not mean that everything we desire will happen or that all our dreams will come true.. but it does mean that we can trust Him to decide ..to choose the best road for our lives.. to unfold the perfect plan step by step.
So if you have unfulfilled desires and dreams.. and who doesn’t? Together we can go to God and tell Him about them and ask Him for His very best for us.. once this done I know we will find ourselves in a place of rest and peace..We may need to do this over and over…to do it as often as we need to until it becomes a habit.. we will never regret it. He is for us and many of the things that we long for are exactly what He has in mind!
“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (psalm 37:4)
This is the word that keeps coming to mind “This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” I hear this verse in my head and believe that it is His word to us in these times.
The world does not feel like a safe place. We have access to so much bad news and we hear about tragedy that we never imagined could happen. Our hearts are heavy as we look around and realize there is so much we cannot change in our own lives and the lives of others. At the same time, there are things that we can do and they often take courage. It is surprising how much courage is involved in our decisions. Just stop and think about something that you want to do, but somehow fear is keeping you from moving forward. What do you need ” courage “and God wants to give it to you. If His command is to be strong and courageous then we have to trust Him to provide strength and courage.
Courage often means stepping out and making a decision that others think is foolish. God may be calling you to do something they cannot understand. He is asking you to follow him and not the voice of reason or logic. He is asking you to do something that only you know is from Him. He is leading you down a road that no one sees except you. Often He leads us forward into a new adventure and it looks crazy to other people. At times He tells us to stand still and wait ..that may look even more crazy to others. In our culture waiting and standing still patiently are not very popular. In the kingdom of God it is the opposite. “Now stand here and see the great thing the LORD is about to do.”
Are you struggling with circumstances that make no sense? Are there things in your life that you never anticipated? Are there more questions than answers? If so, then you are not alone. Many of us are in the same situation and God is with us. He is asking us to trust Him. He is growing our faith and He is deepening our relationship with Him. He is our shelter in the storm.. our safe haven. Let’s pray for strength and courage and trust that He is more than willing to give it to us.
I love the movie ” Finding Nemo” because it is all about courage. Remember this part?
I promised I’d never let anything happen to him.
Hmm. That’s a funny thing to promise.
Well you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.
It makes sense doesn’t it. Courage involves risk and without risk life is not worth living..
Many years ago a friend told me that she felt like she was riding in the car with God.. making Him sit in the backseat while she was driving. I am constantly reminded of that picture these days.. How many times recently have I said to God..” get in the backseat.” I want the wheel because I think I know how things are supposed to go.. I want the control because I am afraid to trust that You know where You are going.
Writing this has also reminded me of a story that Corrie Ten Boom tells in one of her books. She is riding in the car with someone who came to pick her up from the airport.. she is in a foreign country and the driver is drunk. Instead of worrying, she decides that God is bigger than her situation and falls asleep. What a picture of peace in the arms of our Heavenly Father!
So God is teaching me to LET GO.. continually of everything. It is actually tiring to be reminded constantly that I am holding on to things that are too heavy for me..but I want to learn the lesson. It is very related to my word “Rest”… We can only rest once we are have released everything to Him.
Trust Thing to Him
God gave me these acrostics at the beginning of 2014. By the end of the year, I want them to be deep in my heart. Praying for His work and my obedience to produce this fruit in my life. Do you want to walk with me for the next 3 months.. learning to rest and trust and sitting peacefully in the backseat?
A simple truth.. but profound. Lord help us learn to trust you fully and release our worries and cares to you..You are faithful.
I’m focusing again on my word for this year ” Rest.” It is elusive.. hard to truly find in this world. When I think about resting, I envision a place where there is no pressure.. or stress and lots of time that is not filled with responsibilities. Definitely not life on earth, is it? No, while we are here we will have trouble.. that is what the Lord has said and He said it for a reason. We cannot escape the pressures of this life.. when one lets up another seems to take its place.
For me, I just want a season where it is less intense..some space to recover from all the changes of the last decade. I am asking God for this and hoping that He agrees. Meanwhile I am taking a couple of weeks to reflect on my life.. a practice that I totally believe in. It is helpful to look back and see what has happened..especially when you are weary. Instead of feeling condemned for feeling tired and worn out.. I can have grace for myself. It is absolutely OK to need ” rest.” I know this is counter intuitive when it comes to our busy culture. but God invented rest and rested Himself. It must be important.
So I am learning to ” rest” outwardly and inwardly. To trust God when I am too exhausted to accomplish anything.. to contribute..to make a difference. He understands my limitations and all the pressure comes from my own expectations.. not from His heart.
“And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.”
Waiting is a central theme of my writing… the emphasis on this topic is tied to the long periods of waiting in my own life. I also feel strongly that waiting is a lost art..especially among believers. We live in a culture, both outside and inside the church, that does not value or understand waiting, yet it is a key to experiencing the abundant life.
We read in scripture that “God’s ways are not ours”..but do we truly embrace that knowledge? When too much time passes, we feel forgotten and wonder if we are going to be waiting forever.. in truth, we want instant answers and we look at time from our earthly perspective. God does not.. He is doing things in us as we wait and we are learning to trust Him when that is probably the last thing we “feel” like doing. He takes us past our feelings into a deeper level of faith.. one in which we know who God is and we trust Him to provide for us and come for us when we need to be rescued.
As believers we have our history to show us how God has always taken care of us.. we can look back and realize that every single time things seemed to be dark and we felt lost.. He was there. He came through when we wondered how we could take another step. His hand reached for us when we were sure we would fall. Our Father in heaven held us as we fainted from fright or felt so depleted we wanted to give up.
Who can doubt His faithfulness? Why risk taking things in your own hands when you can “wait upon the Lord”.. knowing you are safe and that everything He does is because of His great love for you!!
“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
letting go of old ideas, plans, and dreams so we can embrace the new thing that God is doing. Faith is being ready to take a step when there is no one to say “what a great idea.” Faith is trusting in our invisible God..the one who is faithful in all things at all times.
When God calls us to take risks with Him, we are exercising our faith by following Him as He leads us down the path. Often the path is dark and all we can see is the next step.. He is ahead of us and has prepared the way. We may not feel confident and fears can raise their heads, but He has promised to be with us and to protect and guide us.
Do you need more faith? The Bible tells us to ask for faith and God will provide it. Of course it is a risky prayer..once we ask for more faith , the Lord gives us an opportunity to exercise faith in new and uncomfortable ways.. but there is no other way to grow.
As we trust Him in ways that require us to let go of our own plans and embrace all that He has for us..He reveals Himself in new ways. We begin to see His hand on our lives and realize at a deeper level that we are not alone. He is our father, our provider, our comforter, our closest friend, our safe place, our deliverer, our healer and redeemer.
We are blessed beyond belief to be in relationship with the Lord who loves us and cares for us in each and every circumstance. He has invited us into a great adventure.. one that He has designed for us..we are His people and He is our God!
“Now the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him— those who depend on His faithful love.” psalm 33:18
My ” one little word” this year is REST.. I may have shared that in an earlier post. So I’ve been spending time contemplating the meaning of that word and asking God to help me enter His rest..
As a result of this journey with that word, I started thinking about feeling safe. For me, it is all connected. I can only rest when I feel safe. Makes sense doesn’t it? So am I safe with God? This topic opens up a can of worms for me. It is all related to that famous quote from C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. You probably know the one I am referring to, it is a reference to Aslan, ” He’s not safe, but He is good.” Many writers have taken off in one direction with those words..talking about how we make God too small and put Him in a box so we feel safe with our image of Him. I understand their point, but there is something else to consider.
God is not in a box and He doesn’t fit with our preconceived ideas and He is much bigger and more mysterious than we ever imagine. But at the same time, we are safe with Him. Yes safe. He cares for us and we can run to Him every time we feel threatened by people or circumstances. He wants us to feel safe. There is proof of this in the Bible..over and over again He says ” do not be afraid.” That tells me He wants us to feel protected and cared for and to know that we are always safe as long as we cling to Him and call on Him continually.
So.. I am learning to rest..feeling safe and secure with my God. How are you doing? Remember His goodness and relax if you can..knowing that He has you right next to Him.. He is keeping an eye on you.. watching your back.. You are SAFE with Him.
“This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.”( psalm 91:2)
That is the life that God has called us to, yet we often fail to realize what that truly means. Lately I have been reminded of His continual call “Follow me.” I am learning in a deeper way that He wants me to lay down all my own plans..even the ones that seem so right to me. I forget how easy it is to come up with my own good ideas and then believe that God wants the same thing for me. Things that appear so right and good in my own eyes may not be at all what He has in mind.
Every time I revisit it.. He calls me to look at the idols in my life and asks me to set them aside and look to Him. Trust is saying yes to Him even when I am afraid and doubting the outcome. Trust is knowing that He only has good things for me even when I think I know what will make me happy and contented. Trust is waiting even when it seems dangerous and counter intuitive. Trust is looking back and remembering His faithfulness throughout my life. Trust is being willing to leave my comfort zone and continue to walk with Him in faith..knowing that His ways are not mine. Trust is asking for a big role in this story that He is unfolding and not backing out when He asks for more than I think I can give. Trust is falling backward into His arms and knowing that He will catch me.
Lord, help us to walk in faith with you, trusting you in all things at all times. Strengthen us when we are weak and meet us when we are filled with fear and unbelief. You are the God who set the heavens in place and we place our lives in your hands.. Amen
Relinquish is the word that I heard God speak on Easter. . He got my attention with this one.. I don’t use this word in conversation..I knew it came from Him.
So what does it mean? It is bigger than letting go..it comes closer to surrender. It seems to me that He is asking me to stopping holding on to things that I desperately want and really give up on trying to make them happen. Very hard for a “doer” like me..I always want to make things happen..I get satisfaction from being able to help people..connect people..figure out a way to contribute..add something. Not bad things in themselves..but dangerous when God is really wanting to be at the wheel.
He wants a deep part of me to trust Him..the part that still enjoys figuring out what will happen next..and the way it will happen. He is drawing me to a place inside where I have no answers..a place that scares me. It means taking bigger risks with Him.. trusting Him with things that feel completely out of control.
The whole process is very humbling..I need God much more than I ever imagined. It challenges my individualist nature and my strong personality. Who am I if I really rely on God for EVERYTHING? Do I have a part? What does He really want when He says relinquish? I am writing so I can discover the true nature of this word and receive it.. then I can move forward with Him.
Has He said something similiar to you? What does it truly mean to relinquish everything to Him? .. feel free to comment, I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, or experiences.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”