About 37 years ago I was called out of the darkness into the light. God revealed Himself to me and I have followed after Him for over three decades. Recently God reminded me of my commitment to Him.. to stay on the path He has prepared for me and to trust Him with everything.. not because I forgot, but because the pull of the world is strong. It is easy to want those things the world says we must have to be content.. so easy to be distracted by the things that pull us away from Him.
I needed the reminder..to be called to a walk in a deeper level of faith.. to admit that I was double minded. He chose me to come into a relationship with Him and I owe Him everything. All the good things in my life come from the hand of the Lord and all the trials passed through Him before they reached me. My life is in His hands and it is His right to give and to take away.. He is the one who knows what is best for me. I want to finish this life with the same level of faith I had over 30 years ago.. trusting in this mysterious God who came close to me and made Himself known to me.
I need to be convicted of wanting things to be easy and wanting to be comfortable.. He never promised me that. He did promise to be with me and to hear my prayers and to come for me when I need to be rescued.. that is more than enough.
Thank you Lord for the fresh wind that blows through our lives.. reminding us of your presence. Thank you for loving us enough to show us when we wander away and long for things that are not important. Thank you that this life is a gift from you and since we belong to you, we want to honor you by being willing to follow you fully… trusting you to take care of us and provide for us.
I’ve been thinking about sharing more of my life on this blog..it is the internet and that makes it difficult for me, but at the same time I have hinted at the struggles I’ve gone through for the last few years and it seems like time to open up. Five years ago my Dad died and I was left with the responsibility of my mother. She is blind in one eye and has advanced glaucoma in the other. Dad was her caretaker.
She moved out of their apartment into assisted living.. that had to happen instantly..there were many other things that had to be handled as well. It was a huge adjustment for her.. she was married to my Dad for 63 years and was 85 when he died. She turned 90 last November and is almost blind and in a wheelchair . She fell several times over the last 5 years and broke one leg in so many places.. it is basically a bionic leg now and not one she can use. This has been a stressful season for her and I came alongside her in every way that I could.
I was also busy helping my daughter with her 3 children. The youngest one was born a few months before Dad died. At the same time I had a busy season of counseling..something that God had prepared for me and I needed to take the assignment He gave me. The result was..my grief had to be put on hold.. not something I recommend. There was no real choice.. but it all caught up with me at the beginning of this year.. all the stress and all the unresolved grief. I fell apart emotionally and physically.
So.. now I am grieving..missing my Dad..feeling the loss..crying..crying..crying. My body is releasing the pain little by little. My emotions are coming to the surface..it is intense..but needed. Unresolved grief will destroy the emotional life and eventually the body. God designed us to grieve our losses..and do it thoroughly. Loss is a huge part of life..it cannot be ignored. The grief I experienced as a widow in 1999 was the catalyst for change in my life. I decided to learn everything I could on this topic and eventually become a Pastoral counselor to help people through their grieving process.
Grief is a rich and deep topic ..not one we embrace easily in our culture. Loss is an inevitable part of life.. loss and disappointment go hand in hand and we can’t escape. As I grieve the loss of my Dad.. I am reminded of other losses.. old grief comes to the surface. It is a challenging time, but easier for me because there was much fruit from my first grieving season..that will be true this time. God designed the grieving process and it often results in spiritual growth. I find myself clinging to Him with a greater intensity during this time..realizing my great need for Him in order to survive the pain and sorrow.He comes close reminding me of His faithfulness and His greatlove for me.
When I was growing up I lived in Los Angeles in an area inhabited by celebrities. It was a very different world. There were movie and TV stars but we knew they were just people. We were intrigued by them, but the world did not revolve around them. My sister and I both knew children of television stars and two girls from my high school went on to be very well known actresses. It was a different time and we knew that famous people were not gods..not idols..not even role models.
Things could not be more different now. The internet has made being famous the highest calling. Nothing is more important than being so well-known that everyone else in the world wishes they were you. What is this doing to our culture? and what is it doing to us? It pulls us away from the things that really matter and makes us feel like our small lives are unimportant. We can easily be seduced into believing that the things we do everyday are insignificant unless we are impacting large numbers of people..unless we are making a huge difference.
Nothing could be further from the truth. If your life touches one other life..you are making a difference. If you do one small thing that helps another person.. you are living your life fully. God values people..each person..every single human being. His kingdom is in direct opposition to the narcissistic culture that surrounds us. It pays to stay awake and take inventory in this area. Do you feel like you aren’t making a difference? How are you viewing your life? Are you looking through the lens of the celebrity driven culture or through the eyes of God?
His ways are not ours. The path to fulfillment cannot be found on the road to success. Your life is meant to be lived fully, richly, and abundantly as you follow the path He has carved out for you. Don’t underestimate who He created you to be and how He wants to use you in this very needy world. Your life has a purpose and everything you do matters to Him.
” Then the King will say…I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.”
No one does.. He is always with us even when we don’t know much about Him or realize that He is accessible. I was raised by atheists and have been spending time thinking about what this did to me as a child. Fortunately I did not believe my parents when they told me that God did not exist..children know the truth. I knew He was real but never had the courage to tell my parents that I didn’t believe what they said. I whispered a memorized every night just to make sure that we were on good terms during the night..
He was with me all those years when I wondered about Him and never met anyone who could tell me how to connect with Him. I see how He protected me..pursued me.. and eventually captured my heart. His plan for my life was unfolding throughout my childhood. There were people who treated me with kindness and cared for me when my parents were too busy..there were movies with themes related to faith and heaven that touched my heart. No one grows up without God.
He is still with me and with you. He continues to pursue us through people, experiences, movies, books and creation. He cares for us when others are too busy to notice our pain or our broken hearts. His faithfulness is unchanging. He gives us the desires of our hearts.. even those things that we have forgotten or buried. He treasures every word that comes out of our mouths. He watches every step we take. He is our Father..the one who gives extravagantly and loves to surprise us. No one lives their lives alone..some people don’t know He is there..but He will continue to run after them until their last breath.
We are the people of the God who set the heavens in place..the Creator.. Jehovah Jirah.. our provider. Let’s rejoice in His goodness and remember His presence!
“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take”
( 18th century prayer that I discovered as a child)
Have you ever let yourself realize that everywhere you go He is there? We might mention that idea in passing..but what about really letting it sink in. He directs our steps and when we go into new circumstances God is right there with us. He can use us in each and every new environment. He is not limited by our doubts..worries..or fears. He has assignments for us..opportunities that are unlimited.
All we need to do is take that next step. My nature is to want stability and to stay where I am planted. God sees it differently..He is asking us to be flexible to follow Him wherever He decides to take us and only stay as long as He wants us to. If we are truly following Him He will take us to the very location where He can use our gifts to encourage others. Every adventure with Him is a season and we have to be ready to move on to the next chapter. I struggle with that..but as I put my hope in Him and not in my circumstances..it is easier.
Your journey and mine are filled with twists and turns. He leads us into unknown places..out of our comfort zone. He takes us down dark alleys without a glimpse of light. He removes the barriers that prevent us from staying close to Him as we trust in His leading. Our God is faithful to take us to every new destination at just the right time. It is an exciting life..filled with surprises and gifts from the heart of our true Father.
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.
Some of us are experiencing this right now. It is always on the rise during the holiday season. At the very time of the year when we are expected to be enjoying ourselves..there is a flip side. Our struggles have not ceased..our pain is not eliminated by the holiday lights. We cannot escape our lives by overspending or overeating. We are human and our lives are not perfect..relationships are still challenging in December..there is death, loss, and illness in December. Life is life.
We are drawn into the Christmas drama this month..remembering the birth of Jesus. The nativity scene is portrayed in churches around the world. Is our view of it accurate? Not really. Mary and Joseph had nowhere to turn..she was a teenage girl pregnant under suspicious circumstances. They were not surrounded by friends and supportive family members. The baby was born in a stable..not a glamorous birthplace. There is no record of the birth. Was it long and drawn out? Did Joseph wonder if Mary was going to die.. would the baby be healthy? It is safe to assume they endured hours of uncertainty and pain. Did they wonder.. “Is God with us?”
They were people like we are and I am sure they did not go through this time perfectly. Their hearts were heavy..they grappled with fear and anxiety. Just like us they questioned Him and prayed for a safe and easy delivery. The event that we celebrate was a real time in the lives of real people. The birth of Jesus was surrounded by uncertainty and insecurity that required this famous couple to trust in their God.
Are you struggling with fear and uncertainty right now? Depression? Anxiety? You are not alone. We are all facing it in one way or another. Let’s remember how things turned out in that manger. God was with them as He is with us today. That amazing moment in history changed the world and our lives. He will meet you and take your hand and hold you as you trust Him. He is our God and He is faithful.
Remember Mary’s song
” Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For He took notice of His lowly servant girl. and from now on all generations will call me blessed!”
Thanksgiving is a mixed bag for me. I loved it growing up..since we did not celebrate Christmas I enjoyed this holiday that seemed to belong to everyone. Later..as an adult there were some difficult family issues that came to the surface on this holiday. Now.. I anticipate that things will go well because many of the people are gone and the issues are resolved..but let’s face it there are no perfect family gatherings. Anything can happen and the meal itself is quite a bit of work!
So..what am I anticipating? Another opportunity to thank God for being God. To remember His goodness. Another day when I can tell Him how much I am thankful for the life I have been given. Giving thanks..something that can drive away anxious thoughts..depression and fear. He is there for us and we can thank Him for that assurance. He will surprise us this Thanksgiving with blessings we don’t expect because that is His nature. He is giving and loving towards us even if we don’t deserve any of it.
So I am anticipating rejoicing in the Lord..praising His name..praying to Him..singing to Him. Loving Him and receiving from Him. I hope that you are too! Prepare your heart to remember your God and give Him thanks in all things at all times !
“And this same God that takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
The kingdom of God is not of this world. It is more real than the world we see around us every day. In His kingdom God is on His throne. He reigns. He is sovereign over everything and He has amazing things to show us and do for us. In the kingdom of God our lives have meaning and value because God created us. In His kingdom we are treasured and our hearts are protected. We belong to Him and He knows every thought and desire that we carry with us. Our tears are collected and He knows every hair on our head.
This is the way our God is. He is not impersonal or remote. He is not behind a wall. He is not inaccessible. He is with us. Immanuel. When we choose to follow Him He asks us to believe that His way is better than our way. He wants us to choose the path that leads us away from the things of this world..to walk away from our own selfish insecurities and trust Him. He promises to fill our lives with good things..not the things we see around us..but the things that really matter. His love, grace, protection, wisdom, provision, meaning, joy, faithfulness, fruitfulness, and protection. He will be our all in all. We will be like Him..not of this world.
We make a new decision every day..we will either run after the things that our culture is selling us or we will run to Him. What do you have for me today God? Help me to walk in your ways as I savour every moment of this day that you have given me. The choice is yours. He is waiting.
” Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again–My Saviour and my God.”
How do we find it when we are hurting? Not an easy question to answer..but one that we must explore thoroughly. We can’t go on without hope..we were created to be hopeful people. Life brings many opportunities to lose hope..to give up..to shut down. We lose someone we love..through death or separation..our dreams die..our life takes a turn into a dark place.. our health is threatened..our financial picture is bleak. Our human response is grief..a natural response to loss of any type.
Once grief hits we find ourselves on an emotional ride that is overwhelming. We may analyze the loss and blame ourselves for what has happened..or we may blame others. Our hearts hurt and we can’t find an answer that releases the pain. God takes us down a path that is filled with deep emotional darkness and we wonder if we will ever see light again. Where is hope? Where is God? What happened? How did we get in this situation? Fear tries to speak lies to our heart. We get depressed, angry, frustrated and sad. All of this is normal..yes normal. It is the grief process.
Our hope is in God. He is with us when we cannot see Him. His plan is still for good and not for evil. His eye is on the sparrow. He has not forgotten. He will restore the years the locusts have eaten. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is the comforter.. He knows your pain. He sees your tears.. He feels it all and He is with you. These are not just words..we are talking about the Living God..the one who set the heavens in place. The God who made you and spends every moment of every day with you. He is your hope and He will come through when you need Him the most.
“Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”