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Safe with God

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)

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Waiting is preparation

Yes, it is. While we are waiting, God is working deeply in us and preparing us for the next season. If we forget that, we may end up wasting the time wanting the season to be over.

When we wait..we pray and ask God for things that we desire and that is as it should be. We can’t be sure that everything we ask for will happen.. but we can be sure that He has heard. Knowing that this is true brings peace in the waiting if we trust Him to only bring those things that are good for us.

All of the above implies a deep faith and trust in the character of God and His goodness. It requires us to remember that we are not forgotten, that we are not being punished and that His love for us is underlying evrything.

I don’t know about you, but I get amnesia when I have to wait too long. I forget who brought me this far and I forget how much I have to be grateful for. God has His ways of bringing it all back to me. He brings to mind other seasons that were similar and the way He was working to prepare me for the life I have now. He cures me of the amnesia and brings hope and encouragement to my weary heart and mind.

So.. in the end I am thankful for His ways, for the trials and tests and for the wisdom He uses in not giving me everything I want when I want it. He loves me too much for that!

“But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you.He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.
God takes the time to do everything right—everything.
Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.”

Isaiah 30:18 ( The Message)

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He goes before me..

and you! God is ahead of us, paving the way for us and working behind the scenes on our behalf. It is so easy to rely on our senses..we cannot see therefore nothing is happening. I am guilty of this and I’m sure I am not alone.

God’s sovereignty over every situation is the cure for this thinking. He is behind us, with us, and ahead of us. He knows our past and has cleansed us. He is with us in our trials and challenges. He is leading us and has a  plan that is unfolding. Our part is to pray and when it is clear to take the next step..trusting Him as we walk in faith.

Doubt can creep in and try to rob us of our peace..but God is bigger than our doubts..His hands are not tied when we struggle with unbelief. He created us and knows our weaknesses. We walk on the road with Him wavering at times.. but confident in His goodness. We can rely on Him because of His great love for us..His faithfulness..His holiness and His righteousness.  Let’s keep walking.. asking..believing and trusting.

You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
 You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
 You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
 You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.    psalm 139:2-5   

Lord, we trust you and we put our hope in you. Nothing is too hard for you and we know that your hand is on us. Our hearts turn to you and away from every distraction. Keep us safe and provide for us.

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The last stretch..

It is already December 3rd and Thanksgiving is behind us. Isn’t it amazing how fast time goes as the year comes to an end? It happens every year, but each time I am taken by surprise. We are definitely in the last stretch. This year was full of challenges and surprises..some wonderful, some painful.

I have to laugh as I look at the title of this post..the last stretch. I was thinking about how we are on that last part of the road.. finishing the year and looking ahead to another new beginning. Looking again it seems to mean that it is God’s last chance to really stretch me beyond my comfort zone for 2013.

Yes..2013 was the year that stretched me way beyond anything I might have imagined. What I mean is God has been at work in the deepest part of my character..teaching me to trust Him in some pretty dark moments. Asking me to believe when His presence was impossible to find. Continuing to assure me of His love when my feelings were not in agreement. At the same time He has given me so much more than I could have ever asked or imagined.

I hope that you have time to revisit this year before it is over and take some type of inventory.. remembering all that has happened and how He has been with you through every bit of it.

The journey continues and we put our hands in His..trusting that He has great things in store for us as we commit our way to Him.

He has promised us so many things and here is one of my favorite passages from the Message.. Jeremiah 29:11

“This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” 

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Still sailing..

My last post was written on the stormy sea..the waves were treacherous and threatening. The sea is calmer today. I still don’t see land and have no idea where we are headed, but I feel confident that the Lord has our course planned and when it is time we will arrive at our destination.

This morning I was looking back at all the other times in my life when I felt like I would drown in the stormy sea and God rescued me. He reminded me of how He answered my prayers.. not in the way I expected..in fact, His answers were better and more amazing than I could have imagined. As I remembered His faithfulness.. suddenly I realized anew that He is totally and absolutely for us.

When the sea is stormy and we are being thrust from one end of the boat to the other.. it is easy to forget that God is in control. He is not intimidated by the size of the storm and not deterred by our lack of faith. He will deliver us and bless us as we continue to trust Him..even when our doubts and fears try to overcome us. He knows us.. our hearts..our desires.. our longings and He will come for us.

How can I be sure of this? Because He has done this for me over and over again. I have so many stories of His faithfulness.. they could easily fill up a book. One day I will actually write that book and share those stories..for His glory!

The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.”     Psalm 91:14

 

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The journey continues

We are still in the fog these days..but God continues to break through at times and shine some light into the darkness. He knows that we need hope. Without hope we cannot continue..our faith grows weak and we wonder if we are totally lost.

I am so grateful that at just the right moment..He comes through with a glimpse of something..a possibility..enough to help us continue. I’ve noticed a pattern recently..just as I am on the verge of total hopelessness..God does something to encourage me. As I am walking down the dark path..suddenly He shows up! Just as I feel like I cannot walk another step.. I realize that He is with me.. that I am not alone and that He has lifted my spirits and given me strength for the next leg of the journey.

His desire is that we trust Him..rely totally on Him, no matter how bleak things may look. He is close even when He feels far away. He wants us to depend upon Him for everything..all the time. I know you’ve heard that before..and so have I.  Right now I am experiencing the truth of that message in a deeper way. All the time for everything. Wow!

So.. if you are discouraged. Keep looking to Him. Keep seeking Him. Keep asking. Keep trusting Him. We are doing it together and He is with us.

“Lord, as we stumble in the darkness, grab our hands.. lead us  and protect us. Encourage us as we wait on you. Bring hope for the future and keep us close to you.”

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In the fog..

About a week ago we visited the Sonoma coast area and went for a long walk along the cliffs above the beach. We started out in the mid afternoon and as we walked the fog began to settle all around us. Soon it was like a shroud that came in and made it impossible to see much of anything but the path in front of us.

As we were walking I kept thing that it was a visual picture of the very experience we were having with the Lord. We know we are on the right path yet we are unable to see much beyond the next few steps. The fog is thick .. keeping us from seeing anything that will happen in the future. There was a strange beauty in this foggy scene..not the type that is so obvious on a sunny day with blue skies and white puffy clouds or the amazing view of the foamy white waves breaking on the shore below us. There was a subtle beauty that was expressing itself in the grey mist all around us.

It was food for thought for me. Here we were in this place knowing that on a different day we would have seen all those things I just wrote about. But God brought us out there on this type of day..to be in the fog.. to be with Him. Later as I thought through all this.. I realized that He was in that fog with us..guiding us down the path. One day soon we will see those blue skies and the sparkling water. For now..it is time to take His hand and keep walking.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

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Walking in faith..

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

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Unchanging Grace

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.”

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Curve-ball

God is good at throwing curve-balls isn’t he? Just when you think you know what He might do next..He does something totally unexpected. Over the last year my husband and I have prayed continually that God would direct our steps..that we would stay on the path with Him without having any ability to discern His direction. It was been very challenging and sometimes I’ve wondered if we missed a critical turn. Whenever I checked in, He seemed to be saying that we were exactly where He wanted us and all we had to do was wait and pray.

In the midst of the waiting He has been working to get us ready for a new season. We still don’t know exactly what it will look like..but at least we are getting glimpses. He has a plan and it is unfolding in the perfect way..not the way I would unfold it.. but I’m not in charge. The waiting has been difficult and there were times when I felt so abandoned and afraid..yet God was fully present..He never moved away. It is important to remember how safe we are with Him.. even when we don’t feel that way.

Now that we are in a transitional time.. I am meditating on Psalm 23 and it is helping me immensely  as we are moving ahead. I found a book that helps you memorize the psalm and meditate on it as you go through your day. What a difference it is making .. I am finding myself resting more fully in His goodness and feeling secure in His presence. Isn’t it amazing how God loves to bring us closer to His heart as we trust Him despite our fears and anxieties? Here is the psalm.. it is a wonderful reminder of the heart of our Good Shepherd.

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

It is only 6 short verses..but what a treasure!

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Green pastures

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Still waters

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All the days of my life!