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)
For the last period of time I have been trying doors to see if any of them would open. I was eager to find that next thing that God had for me. I had two distinct experiences. Some doors would open and as soon as I was on the other side I just knew I was in the wrong place. Other doors did not open at all..nothing happened..I could either accept that outcome or try to break down the door..bad idea 🙂
I started to feel like a participant in that game show from decades ago. Let’s see what was it called? I know..it was ” Let’s make a deal”.. the contestants had to choose a door and they received the prize that was behind that particular door. Instead of getting the prize I felt like I was getting nowhere. I just couldn’t seem to find that right door..the one that would open up to the future. Was God hiding from me? Did He want me to remain in the dark with so many questions and no answers.
No..He was waiting for me to stop trying the doors. To stand still and listen..to tune my ear to His still small voice. Once I did that I saw the door..the one I had been searching for and as soon as I tried it..I knew I was headed in the right direction. I am reminded of that verse that says “His ways are not ours”..we do not have the mind of God. What we do have is the ability to keep seeking..searching.. and listening until we see the path and realize we are heading in the right direction.
So..which door do you choose? How about the door that opens our hearts..the one that relies on the guidance of the Holy Spirit..the one that leads to the throne room of God. The door that takes us into His presence. That is the only door that we need.
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”
Have you ever been in the quiet place? It is not just a place where it is silent..like sitting outside on a beautiful day in a very quiet neighborhood..everyone is at work except you and it is sooo quiet. No.. I am talking about a quiet place where you can’t seem to hear the voice of God. You know He is there..you are not doubting His presence..but He is not speaking. He is not asking you to do anything in particular..only to be still.
For me that place is a challenge. I am not comfortable..I like doing things..accomplishing things..making things happen. Apparently God is not all that impressed with activity. At least not just activity for its own sake..busyness. He is very interested in teaching us to be still..to wait..to seek Him..to pray..to be OK in the quiet place.
Recently I have realized that my own attempts to fill the silence are not working. Every door I push on ends up slamming in my face. He is saying..wait..be still..listen..learn..receive..allow me to take the next step and I will lead you to the next destination. He is not in a hurry..He is panicking or worrying. He is filled with peace..I want some of that peace..don’t you? I want to enter into His rest..to rest in Him..to trust Him in the silence.
So..let’s learn to be here..in the stillness..waiting patiently..not anxious..resting..trusting..believing..hoping..knowing..receiving..being.
“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him and He will help you… Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait for Him to act.”
Another big one. So subtle and so toxic. Legalism masks our unbelief. We may appear to be performing perfectly..reading scripture..praying..serving..giving..but something big is missing. Beneath the surface of our lives is unbelief. It works its way into our hearts..constantly questioning God’s intentions toward us..helping us doubt and worry.
It is insidious because we can seem so ” Christian” or so pious.. so right..when the truth is we are very troubled inside. Our hearts deceive us..our behavior is a mask that we hide behind. God sees all this and He grieves for us. His promises become memorized passages or empty words. Our future may look bleak and empty. Our hearts are weighed down..we are diagnosed with depression and anxiety.. the doctor prescribes something to fix us.
The cure is not going to be found in behavior modification or medication. The only solution is to return to our first love. To bring our unbelief and doubt to the one who can turn it all around. He holds the keys to our hearts and wants to renewour faith. He asks us to confess..be real..authentic..and transparent. He wants us to stop playing games..to stop faking it.
Our God is the redeemer. He has turned the world upside down and He wants to do the same in our lives. His desire is to infuse us with a passion and faith so strong that we can’t stop thanking Him. His heart longs to transform us into His people..a people of great faith who long for more of Him. We can’t experience any of this unless we are ready to let go of unbelief..He won’t rip it our of our hands.
Do you want to walk with Him in safety believing all of His promises? Do you want to be an encourager..speaking faith wherever you go? Do you want the abundant life with hope for the future? He wants to give you all this.. He is waiting for you to desire all of this more than life itself. Take a risk..live life for Him and with Him..you will not be sorry.
“Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life!”
I often picture life with God as an adventure in following. Life itself is uncertain and we face trials and tests that threaten to overcome us. The only sure way to stay on course is to follow Him closely. The storyline of our lives is similar to the stories that we watch in movies, read about in books, or even stories that we may write..if we are gifted in that area. Our lives move forward without our permission..new circumstances face us at every turn. Some seasons are more obvious challenges..others are more subtle.
There is no question that the trials will never stop.. not while we are here. It can be tiring..but would we trade it for a life in which nothing happens? Life in a comfortable cocoon..a life where we feel safe and secure..a life where we never need to take a risk or trust. I don’t know about you..but that life sounds sad and small to me.
Once we understand His offer of abundant life..we begin to see the ways we can choose to accept that offer. We move forward down the road of life..staying close behind Him..sometimes walking beside Him..always looking at Him..realizing that He is with us and knowing we are not alone. He guides us through the rough patches..taking us to new levels of faith..finding resting places when we need them. Let’s stay close to Him and continue on..
” The Lord is my shepherd.. I have all I need..He lets me rest in green meadows..He leads me beside perfect streams..He renews my strength..My cup overflows with blessings..and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”
This is a question I need to keep asking myself. As we go through the motions of daily life..what really matters? Our culture says accomplishing things matters..the church says serving matters. Where do we go to find the answer? To God. He says He really matters..His ways..His plans..His direction for our lives..His truth..His larger story..His promises..His character..these are really matter.
This is absolutely essential to us as believers. We can always find something to do..someone to care for..a mission..a cause..a job. Yet..it is all meaningless unless God is in it with us. How do we know if He is? We have to pray and wait..yes wait..waiting is the key..seeking and waiting and asking. It is counter-intuitive and counter-cultural to wait. All around us we are hear the message of our society..get going..move on.. hurry up..do more..don’t waste another minute..time is short..now..now..now. The drum is beating faster and faster..messages are flying around the world from one electronic device to another.
God says “wait on me..trust me..remember me..look for me..cling to me..slow down..make time for me.” A totally different message. He wants to interrupt our lives with His grace..His love and His encouragement. He wants to teach us about Himself. His heart longs for more of us and we are the ones that need more of Him! Let’s agree to grapple with this together..to start waking up each morning and asking ourselves ” what really matters?” listening for the voice of God.
“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
Continuing with the theme of moving into the new year..this seems like an appropriate picture. Since I only paint with watercolors.. there is no canvas..but there is that blank piece of watercolor paper that I tape to my painting board. Usually I just take the paper and tape it without any idea of what I am going to paint. It may stay blank for days..or weeks. I wonder what if I will ever paint anything again.
Suddenly there is the first glimpse of a picture that springs to mind..and hope returns. Maybe I will actually paint again..maybe all my creativity is not used up. This process often happens during seasons of disappointment..sometimes in winter.. when the challenge is to remember the beauty of spring..new life..new beginnings. Painting revives that part of my heart that is feeling old, cranky, and tired.
We all need to discover those things that fill us up..that encourage our weary hearts..that bring hope..that remind us that there is more. God works through creativity..after all He is the creator. He is with us as we use the gifts He has given us..even when we really just feel like folding up and forgetting it. Look for the empty canvas in your life. It might be right in front of you..waiting for you to see it.
Meanwhile I am going to get out the watercolor paper..tape it to the board..and wait. Just take the next step..you don’t need to see down the road..He is in front of you clearing the path and preparing the way.
” Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
The new year can be a like a clean slate for us. An opportunity to start fresh. To move in a new way. This is not the same as making resolutions. Often they are impossible to keep. We decide to do new things and then life happens. I am talking about living in a different way.. living as though we are safe every day.. realizing that the uncertainty we face is not all there is..we are part of a larger story.
This used to be called living by faith.. I rarely hear anyone talk about it these days. Most of us worry and wonder what will happen to us..how will we make it?..where will the money come from?..who will take care of us? We look at our bank balance and shudder. We think about our aches and pains and wonder. We entertain fear, doubt, and unbelief as though they were close friends. We wake up with amnesia..God who?
Is this the life that God intends for us? A life filled with worry? antidepressants? insomnia? I don’t believe it is.. but many of us struggle to understand how to trust this invisible God. His ways are so mysterious and He is often silent. How do we navigate this road? By faith..continuing to trust Him..remembering His goodness..taking risks..living fully today..knowing that He is in the past, present, and future all at the same time. We do it day by day..step by step..moment by moment.
Our God will carry us when we need it.. He will rescue us before we drown in a sea of trouble..He will catch us as we fall..He is always reliable..always on time..always there for us. He wants us to live as though we believe this.
” That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life–whether you have enough food and drink, or clothes to wear…Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?..So don’t worry about these things..Seek the kingdom of God above all else and live righteously and He will give you everything you need!”
He only gives us enough light for the next step. Life with God is made up of next steps. No crystal ball that shows us the picture of where we are going. We are following His lead. Doing the next thing that He gives us to do. Lately life has been wild and confusing. It looks like I am going in one direction and suddenly I am moving in the opposite direction. Is God crazy? Am I crazy?
No life with God is unpredictable..risky..always new..not in the box. Our God has a plan and He will do everything He can to help us stay on track..even if it means turning us around and taking us down a road we missed. He sets the course and then asks us to follow after Him when nothing makes sense..when everything seems out of control..when we can’t see more than a tiny glimpse of light. He promises to take care of us as we do this..to be right beside us..to catch us when we fall..to protect us..to comfort us..to encourage us.
His plans are ” good and not for evil.” He delights in us and He wants to give us every good gift that He has for us. I don’t know about you but sometimes I grow weary of all the twists and turns on this road..just longing to reach some destination where I can rest and relax. There will be a time for that..meanwhile I want to keep my eyes on Him and continue to stay close so I don’t miss the next turn. He is leading..we are following. Step by step.
” Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend upon your own understanding. Seek His will in all that you do, and He will show you which path to take.”
One step. Yes…one step. The next step. We often only have enough light for one step. That means that all the other steps we will take are not visible and probably not as important as the one we need to take right now. No one can tell you what your next step is..only God knows and He wants you to live in the moment taking that step holding on to Him.
It is not our nature to be that trusting. We all have baggage from past experiences that says we should know exactly what we are getting into. The truth is we can’t live the life of faith and know the future at the same time. Life with God is risky. He wants us to rely on Him.. that means trusting that He is in the darkness ahead of you..preparing the way. Your responsibility is to draw near to Him..reach out to Him..believe in His goodness..trust in what you know about His character. His part is everything else…Everything else? Are you crazy? Isn’t there more for me to do? NO. Go where He leads you. Take the next step and then as He gives you more light take another step and be amazed at how He will meet you time and time again.
He is really good at this..trust me. He never fails to reward us for our faith..He brings encouragement when we need it and He has a wonderful plan that will unfold as you begin to realize that He is for you..He is with you..He loves you..He longs to give good gifts to you..His arms reach out for you..Our Great God!
” I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”