Month: November 2018

  • A Steadfast Heart

    Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

    Psalm 112:6-7

    When things are going really well and life seems calm, do you sometimes find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop? Do you allow worry to cast a shadow over your present blessings? I am currently coming out of of a long season of difficulty and waiting. Even though I am generally an optimistic person, some of the recent knocks of life have led me to be cautious, keeping me from joy in the present.

    A few years ago, my husband and I both found ourselves out of jobs in the same weekend. When I heard the news, I had no idea what we were going to do. It felt like the air had been sucked out of the room. In the back of my mind, I believed that God would work on our behalf to bring purpose and blessing in our situation. What I couldn’t anticipate is how long it would take.

    I was fortunate to find work fairly quickly, doing something that I love. My new income provided just enough to squeak by each month.

    Despite my husband’s efforts to find a teaching job, not a single door had opened for him. We continued to limp along and I convinced myself that I just had to rally a little longer, keep burning the candle at both ends, to make it all work. When you have been waiting a long time for a rescue, you begin to feel like you have to make it happen. It is easy to grow weary and start doubting God’s faithfulness and provision. I was foolishly deceived into thinking that our survival depended on me, because it was the only thing I felt I could control.

    Finally, our season of waiting was coming to a end, and by God’s provision, my husband started substitute teaching at the local Christian school where our children attend. It filled the financial gaps and provided just what we needed, right when we needed it. By the end of that year he was offered his dream job, a full-time teaching position at that school.

    After what felt like forever, we had two incomes again, stability in our schedules and in our finances. Despite all this, I never relaxed. I hadn’t switched out of survival mode. I still stressed out over the finances and felt stuck in anxiety. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I didn’t truly believe the storm was over and that I could stop and take a deep breath.

    I had been so busy worrying that bad news was just around the corner, that as a result, I was missing out on the joy of answered prayers. That’s why Psalm 112:6-7 touches a tender place in my heart. (Verse 7 especially)

    “Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

    While this is a struggle I am still growing through, it is a comfort to read these words and be reminded that I don’t need to fear bad news. I don’t need to take matters into my own hands, I need to loosen my grip and trust my Heavenly Father. When I slow down and zoom out to the big picture, I can clearly see God’s constant and steadfast presence in every detail.

    Circumstances are ever changing. But God remains strong and steady. He will never change. His goodness and love endures forever. God has already planned ahead for my needs. So today I choose to rejoice and be glad in the day the Lord has made.

    I will live in the moment and appreciate what the Lord has done for me, in any circumstance, good or bad. As I trust in Jesus, he makes my heart more like Him-steadfast and secure, and unshakeable.

    In whatever season you find yourself, I pray that you will step back and pause and look for Jesus. He is there, ready to provide for your every need and hold you steady. Trust in Him and have no fear.

    Read more

  • Worry and Idols

    Show me your worries and I’ll show you your idols.

    Matt Gioia

    I’ll admit the first time I saw this quote I didn’t like it. Not because I disagree, but because it hit a little too close to home. I felt physically uncomfortable, because I am a worrier. I tend to perseverate on things that God has taken care not once or twice, but countless times, consistently. Things like finances, having more month left than money, the kids getting sick, getting stuck in traffic, worries about parents long term health, car problems, fill in the blank…

    These are not all small things, and one could feel justified in feeling some worry or stress over them. And please hear me dear friend, I’m not talking about clinical anxiety or depression. I have struggled with both of those challenges at different points in my life, and was grateful for the incredible support and resources that God provided through doctors and loved ones.

    I am talking about a heart issue. A trust crisis. I think we all crave reassurance that everything will be okay when times are tough. The problem occurs when I crave reassurance more than I crave a deeper faith. Sure, my initial intention is to give my worries to God, to allow Him to provide in His perfect timing, but when my patience runs out, I cling more to my worry than to the One whose grace is sufficient for all my needs.

    As ridiculous as it sounds, when I’m like this I remind myself of Gollum from The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings. In placing my worries above God’s Sovereignty, I am no different than Gollum–weak and cranky, clutching to “my precious”, but instead of a ring, my worries has become my idols.

    The only thing that snaps me out of that state is a major perspective shift. Looking at things through human eyes, my solutions are short-sighted and a band-aid at best. God’s perspective is limitless. He can see the beginning, middle and end of my story all at once and knows exactly what to do and when. In Luke 12:27-34, Jesus reminds the disciples of the bigger picture and resets their perspective.

    “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

    “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.'” Luke 12:27-34

    Jesus calls the disciples (and us) out! He lovingly says to not worry about the things of this world. Even birds (not nice, pretty songbirds–squawking ravens) have all their needs met without striving or panic. Jesus draws the disciples attention to the real issue-their hearts.

    When our hearts are set on worrying about material things, our focus in inward, our treasure becomes our security in those things. Jesus invites us to a better way. He calls us to set our hearts on heavenly things by seeking His Kingdom. Then, everything else will fall into place.

    I have seen this play out in my life more times than I can count. When I am consumed by worry and stress, God helps me zoom out to look at things from an eternal perspective. I see ways to serve others and it’s life-giving. He helps me prioritize and grants me peace that passes understanding. He reminds me of my worth in Him, because when I let worry take over, I’m really believing the lie that I am beneath His notice. Dear sister, this is just not so.

    You are precious to Him. He knows the number of hairs on your head and treasures you. He knows what you need before you need it and delights in providing above and beyond all you need.

    If worry has become an idol for you, lay it at the feet of Jesus. Let him speak peace to your soul and help you realign your heart with His. He will continue to work on your behalf and provide for your every need. If you are in a season of serious need, please don’t feel guilty if it feels too heavy to bear or if you are not a picture of perfect peace. There is grace in Jesus. He walked this earth and experienced all the same things we do. He will not abandon you in your time of need. He will sustain you and gently turn your face toward his loving gaze.

    Lean into Him, set your heart on His Kingdom and leave your worries in God’s capable hands.

    Read more

  • Peace Beyond Understanding

    And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

    Philippians 4:7

    Sometimes in life we find ourselves in situations that just don’t make sense. When life takes a turn we weren’t expecting like a sudden job loss, a broken relationship, or a loved one who falls ill. During times like this it can feel like our world is out of control and the chaos of emotions threaten to overtake us. How do we find the peace we crave in the midst of these situations?

    I have looked to this verse in Philippians many times when my life has been turned upside down. This verse brings me comfort because it speaks directly into these circumstances. It says that God gives us a kind of peace that transcends all understanding. It’s the kind that doesn’t have to make sense. As we allow God into our situation, He guards and protects our hearts and minds with His peace.

    Is there a tender part of your heart that you need God to guard? Do you need God to bring His peace to calm your anxious mind? He will show himself faithful in protecting your inmost heart and mind. Take the mixed up and messed up of life and lift it up to God in prayer. Whatever you are facing, He is there to carry you through it.

    Almighty God, when we are facing a situation that is beyond our understanding, we need your loving peace to guard our hearts and minds. We lift up to you our circumstances and and know that we may not always have the understanding we crave, but you promise to carry us through it because of your great love for us. In Jesus name, Amen.

    Read more