I trust you, O Lord

Today is my biggest little’s birthday. It’s a bittersweet day for me because I remember life before he came to us, and I remember his birth, and I remember too easily the jumble of my mind in the months that followed.

My kids are three of God’s greatest gifts in my life. They shower me with His love and devotion and they give me a reason to press through difficulties. Their smiles and laughter make even the greyest day brighter. While this has been true since I first held them, the months immediately after they were born defy words.

Excruciating. Confusing. Intense fatigue. And fear like I’ve never known. What if something happens to them? What if something happens to ME? Who will take care of them? Will they know and love Jesus? A thousand other terrifying scenarios played through my head every day. Not one of them could I foresee, prevent, or control. It became – and to this day remains – an issue of my trust in God.

As I remember my first days of motherhood, fear tries to wrap itself around my heart and head again. Back then I couldn’t even see clearly enough to turn to the Bible for perspective and truth. But today I can. Psalm 31:14 says, “But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying “You are my God!” And a confession of truth changes the fear in my heart to faith.

I trust you, O Lord.

It takes conscious effort to trust God sometimes. Obedience to willfully turn from what I fear and choose to believe He will take care of my family with love and kindness. But we must turn from what is slowly killing us and embrace the One who loves us.

My prayer is that I gift my children with faith in the living God, that I teach them to turn from fear and embrace Him. It is the best gift I can imagine giving them.

What do you fear? Do you trust God in the midst of it?

 

I will be still… again

Gotta admit, sometimes I have to be still because I’m just speechless. It doesn’t happen often enough, but let’s take advantage of it while we can, yes?

Okay, moment’s over. Let me explain my reticence:

I’ve been lurking around on someone’s blog and her story struck such a chord that I can’t find words to even say anything to her. Like, “You have an awesome voice and an awesome blog.” Or, “Those voices you hear? They’re really Satan’s attempt to break you. Don’t let him.” Because those things seem to minimize what she goes through. And none of them lets her know that God is there through it all, even if she doesn’t feel Him or hear Him or want Him.

Maybe I’m speechless because I know some (a very little) of what she fights. Crippling fear. Can’t leave the house or tell even my best friend what’s going on inside me. Can’t stand the sight of myself in the mirror. Can’t beat back the mean little voices that scream inside my head that I’m not enough, can never be enough, should just stop trying. And suddenly I’m paralyzed in the middle of a bloodbath with arrows and swords and bullets slinging away, and I have no defense.

And yet I do.

To be still before God is a powerhouse of activity. Not my activity. This is not my battle, and the sooner I recognize it, the sooner I give Him room to fight, the sooner I will be delivered. The truth is that I’m a spoil of war. In Ephesians 2:10, Paul says we are God’s masterpiece, so the attack on my well-being is meant for God. To realize the incredible weight of my prayers – or godly silence – takes the battle to another level entirely, and takes me out of the war zone.

I will be still and know that He is God.

He is love. He is mercy. He is grace. He is my strong tower, my refuge, my rock, and my redeemer. He is power. He is God. I will be still… again.

Will you confess it with me again? What do you hear when you’re still before God?

I am complete through Jesus Christ

I watched one of my favorite movies this weekend, Pride and Prejudice. It was the BBC A&E version, fabulous in all its five hours of Jane Austen, Elizabeth Bennett, and Mr. Darcy. “Mr. Darcy’s good opinion, once lost, is lost forever.” So. Worth. Five. Hours.

But it got me thinking about the characters and the actors and their real lives. Which led to thinking about other actors, and in this day of instant information via the World Wide Web, I got to researching. And what I found made me sad. As if God opened a door into someone’s heart, I reeled, lost and hopeless in dark world. I chased one rabbit trail after another, searching for understanding, love, companionship, and some way to ease the ache that seemed rooted in my spirit. Lovers, drugs, travel, acting. Some of it might have helped for a moment, but nothing lasted.

It’s not uncommon that people surrounded by fame and fortune go haywire. Even if they have a solid upbringing in the truth, they can get caught up in other things that promise fulfillment. The same is true for everyone. When we don’t get the answer to prayer that we’re looking for, or when prayer comes with difficulty, when life is much less than what we planned, we can easily go searching for something to ease the pain. Something to take the edge off our disappointment. Something to fill the void. And it doesn’t take long before we’re looking to that other thing instead of to God for our solutions.

Thank God for His everlasting goodness and His patience. Thank God for always luring us back to the truth. Thank God for today’s confession, which shines light and hope into the lives of all who believe in Him. “So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority” Colossians 3:10.

I am complete through my union with Jesus Christ.

I do not need to go looking for answers and comfort in every corner and from every person who offers it. I need to look only as far as Jesus Christ, evidenced in the Bible, and feel His spirit in me.

How does it change your outlook and actions to realize you are complete through Jesus?

God is able

Today’s confession removes the focus from myself. This life is not about me. It’s about God. It’s about giving Him glory and honor and power (Revelation 4:11). This life is about Jesus Christ and His worthiness to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing (Revelation 5:12).

Something happened in our world to bless us abundantly. The entire world celebrates, but few believe. Jesus’ birth is a myth to them. I choose to see it for what it is: salvation. He has saved me from eternity without God, from trying (and failing) to live by the Law, from living and dying in darkness. Jesus saved me from myself and from hopelessness and from a world trying to beat me down.

God is able to do abundantly more than we can ask or even think (Ephesians 3:20). If we look, we can see that in action everywhere. People waking from comas hours before going off life support, being healed of cancer and other afflictions, marriages and relationships being restored. I choose to believe in His ability over my own. Whatever situation this life holds, God is able, through his mighty power at work within me, to accomplish infinitely more than I might ask for think.

God is able.

All glory to Him!

Do you believe God is able? Do you believe He wants to rescue you?

The Lord hears my voice

Do you ever feel like the Invisible Man or Woman? Talking and no one is listening?

It’s not an uncommon thing in my house for no one to hear my voice. If the littles aren’t screaming or the dog isn’t barking, my husband is running a very loud power tool. I get drowned out in the gaiety of life. It’s easy to drown out others, too, in the enormous tide of noise happening at all hours. Our minds are cluttered with news, music, cell phone texting, ipods, portable computers, traffic, and the demands of others. Even when there is silence, there is deafening noise inside our heads.

And if it’s easy to drown out the physical voice of the person beside us, how easy is it to ignore the voice of God?

What a relief to realize that God hears my voice inside the rubble, no matter if I hear Him or not. Psalm 55:16-17 says, “But I will call on God, and the Lord will rescue me. Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice.”

The Lord hears my voice.

This scripture is so rich with comfort because it promises even more than God hearing me. It says that he will rescue me. When I read further, it says that He ransoms me and keeps me safe. What a great and loving God! In these difficult days, we should be crying out to Him morning, noon, and night with the certainty that He hears us, He rescues us, He ransoms us, and He keeps us safe.

Be blessed today knowing the depth of God’s love and protection over you. And when the darkness tries to crowd in and say your prayers are pointless, remind yourself that the Lord hears your voice. No prayer is ever pointless if it’s directed in honesty and sincerity to the Almighty God.

Has the Lord heard your voice today?

God is the lifter of my head

Ever hung a millstone or a yoke around your neck? Not likely on purpose. Neither have I, but life throws upheaval that catches us around the shoulders, slinging weights and mimicking a millstone or yoke. Job loss, health concerns, relationship strains, family responsibility, bills, hunger. There are so many ways to experience the pressure and weight of a situation.

One of my spiritual gifts is compassion, which means I often feel what another person is going through. That millstone becomes a physical disturbance:

It’s painful beyond description. My back and my neck ache all the way to the bone. My shoulders curl and threaten to crumple under the pressure. My head throbs, my eyes bulge, my chest heaves. Nausea roils my stomach. Before long, my nose and forehead scrape the rough wooden planks of the floor beneath me. Emotionally, my heart caves. My thoughts are dark and relentless. There is no way out. No light. No air. I can’t breathe. Hot tears burn my eyes and my throat closes.

It takes everything I have to remember the truth. I confess it out loud, over and over, until it seeps in and becomes real. “But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.” (Psalm 3:3)

And then Someone lifts the millstone. He anchors me, straightening my back, shoulders, neck. He wipes the tears from my cheeks. With His gentle and insistent touch, I stand. His fingers tip my chin, lifting my head. Bright light shines, sweet air fills my lungs, and I see the way out.

God is the lifter of my head.

Whatever weight is hanging around your neck like a millstone, remember the Lifter of your head. Take a few minutes to turn it all over to Him. Ask Him to take the burden and help you stand. And when the burden threatens to come back, repeat the truth.

Speak up! Does it lighten your load to know that God lifts your head?

His peace guards my heart and mind

I wonder sometimes what the world, what life, looks like to people who don’t know Jesus. Is it as bright as they want others to believe, or is it dark and fearsome? One thing is certain: if it’s not fearsome now, it will become so.

My dear friend is a nurse in the ER and posted a beautiful blog recently about heartache and loss. But while the world is often dark, her life is not. She knows Jesus.

Yet another financial road bump hit my family this week. Costly repairs on our car come at a time of low income and high bills. The world is dark (and expensive, she says, laughing), but our lives are not.

And today a woman told me that she and her husband are out of work entirely. They have no income, but her smile was bright. I had to wonder if she knows Jesus.

The darkness makes me turn to the Bible and soak up the peace in those pages. Today’s confession is important today, but we might find ourselves turning to it more and relying on it more in the near future.

His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

This scripture is encased in the instruction not to worry, but to pray about everything. “Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

God knows what you need, but tell Him anyway. He wants to hear from you! And while you’re telling Him, acknowledge this truth:

Your peace guards my heart and mind.

Blessings on you today, dear reader. Leave a comment and let me know how I can pray for you.

Anything is possible

I’m becoming an optimistic person.

It would be nice to believe that I’ve always seen the brighter side of things, and I have had moments of brighter-sides, but the truth is that I would not be writing a blog on confronting fears if I always saw the world through rose-colored glasses. Not long ago, I cowered in the darkness, craving the sunshine in my spirit. I even cowered in the sunshine, afraid of the moment it would diminish and clouds would once again cover me in chilly despondence.

But the healing power of Jesus Christ is complete and amazing in its immediacy. I no longer fear the darkness. I don’t fear the end of the sunshine. Now I live in the sun and bask in its warmth. I know how to deal with impending doom and darkness.

I believe.

Take a minute to read Mark 9:22-24. A father, a possessed little boy, and Jesus. The father says, “Help us if you can.” And Jesus says (with amused indignation, in my own mind), “If I can? Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Jesus isn’t talking about the power of positive thinking, or believing in magic or dreams. We can’t ask to win the lottery and then go on a spending spree. He’s talking about having faith in the power of the Almighty God. Read that again: having faith in the power of the Almighty God.

Today’s confession is one of faith and trust. Say it with full realization of the One worthy of your faith, trust, and belief.

Anything is possible because I believe.

What is the ‘anything’ in your life, and what do you believe about it?

Peace that surpasses all understanding

Don’t you love it when everything comes together? The sun shines, a gentle breeze blows, my kids get along, and I can think. Thinking is highly underrated in my opinion. On days like this, I can muster every marble in this feeble brain and string together a sentence or two that actually makes sense. It doesn’t happen often enough. But it seems to be happening today. So I give thanks for a break in the relentless fear that tries to drown me. I give thanks for a moment of calm in the midst of chaos. I give thanks for His peace.

And I wait for it to end.

Confession: Even on these good days, I’m plagued with thoughts of the darkness. When it will return, how dark it could get, and how long it might last. I know this is not His perfect will for my life. The God of the universe loves me and desires my peace. Why else would He give it to me?

Truth: Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

What truth are you declaring over your situation? I’d love to hear about it!

Make the darkness flee

Confession: The sun shines today, but my soul hides in darkness. I cower from what I think is the truth. That God will not provide, that He doesn’t think enough of me to bring me out of the disaster that I’ve become, that I’ll never get better. Self-publishing my books won’t happen because I don’t even have the measly amount required to put out a decent product.

In the midst of this downpour on my mind, I pray. Please show up, God. Forgive me for my unbelief.

God shows up in two ways this morning. Probably more, but these two I can see for being His.

First, my critique partner sends me a very encouraging blog by an author who recently began self-publishing. The author didn’t listen when people told her something wouldn’t work. She found out how to do it, and she did it.

Second was the verse of the day on Biblegateway.com. It amazes me how the dark always flees when I turn to prayer and the Bible. I leave that verse of the day as today’s Truth.

Truth: Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. Hebrews 10:35-36

And this: The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Jeremiah 31:3

BONUS! Yahweh Yireh: And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” Genesis 22:14

What about you? Are you discouraged today? How has God spoken encouragement to you in the darkness?