Tag Archives: christianity

Peace In The Void

24 Jul

Have you ever had to walk only by faith in God’s promises because you can’t see or feel Him? Worse yet, a time when you need God most and He chooses to step His presence away?

C. S. Lewis stated “during one of the most painful times of my life, I cried out to God and got… a door slammed in [my] face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become.”    He wrestled with his faith, this man that gave us a glimpse of light in his words.

He added: “There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once… Why is God so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of need

Walking through such a time myself, I praise God for writers that share their testimony or the bible with stories of Joseph, and David. The sharing of testimonies help us relate and help us walk this life, including heartbreaking times in our journey where He simply doesn’t feel present.

I recently walked through a time feeling the void where God had been steady. I really had to dig deep in my faith and examine what I really believe.

He calls us to constantly grow in knowledge and strength of faith so we are better equipped to do His calling on our life. Our faith is not by sight and our faith will be tested and stretched fully. This time of void, where I can’t feel Him or find Him has been the greatest, hardest lesson of all for me.

He chose for me a time when I was already experiencing aloneness physically, and the loneliness of my divorce.  He decided to use this time to step back His presence. This void felt so devastating, cruel even. Yet, even as I could not find Him, I knew He was there, as if behind the door. I had to strain to find grace, strain to remain in His mercy. I had to work through deep anger at this abandonment, fear of rejection by Him.  I had to really stretch to draw nearer to Him and understand the blessings of grace even in this moment of empty.  I had to know His love remains. Grace is grace. It isn’t dependent upon our circumstances nor our sin.

Grace and God remain steady regardless of our feelings.

Learning to trust that He is still there because He says He is, I held tight to His word in my heart. I began to see Him everywhere, though I still didn’t “feel” Him. He was there in the sunrise and sunset.

I cannot find adequate words to describe this time. It was so lonely, so powerful in that I longed for Him in a way I never have and yet even in that longing, I was confident that He was there.

This was His great purpose for teaching me; Growing and developing my confidence in Him so I can be better prepared to fulfill His purpose for my life.  His refinement of my past, my belief of my worthiness for this journey, removal of all works based religion and the lies of the enemy.

This time. ‘A time such as this’,  there is a sense of peace from this growth. He promises us that joy comes after pain. He reminds us in His word, that hope lives on. We are here but a moment of time, like the wind. He remains. He is always there is the midst of darkness and trial as much as He is there in the mundane. He always has been and always will be.

This journey of life will bring times of abundance and times of lack.  King Solomon summed it up best when He said nothing matters but God.  God remains the same regardless of our circumstances or sin. Whether this world loves us, leaves us alone, recognizes us or ignores us;  God never loses sight of us. We are always within His hands.

What immense peace it is to know that I can sit in the center of His amazing love, feeling the fullness of the hurts and sorrows, joys and triumphs of this life, knowing with all that I am, nothing compares to just simply being in His presence.

Jeremiah 23:23-24 tells us: “”Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the Lord, “No, I am far away at the same time. Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens  and the earth?”says the Lord. “

 

Take Heart

19 Jun

There is a line in the movie “The Shack” that I really liked.  “Papa” is explaining what grace and trust look like when evil harms us; In those circumstances that we are collateral damage when someone’s free will results in grave sin.  “I am not asking you to excuse what he did. I am asking you to trust me to do what’s right and to know what’s best.”  He means inspite of what we see.  Forgive and trust God in all circumstances.

He knows our storms. He knows our sin and He knows the sins done against us. He is beside us, faithful, even when we can’t feel Him.

Faith is like a muscle. In our good times, our faith may not be getting a work out. Our gratitude may be strong, our worship may be strong but our faith truly is only tested in our trials.  Endurance is for the long term. Is faith really faith when the minute it gets painful, we fall apart?

Romans 5:3 tells us that our trials, through persevering, strengthens our character and builds us up in Hope.

He knows our circumstances and he knows our relationships. He knows where we are overwhelmed by the storms, uncertain how to navigate our way through. In Matthew 14:27 he says to Peter “Take heart; It is I. Do not be afraid”.   It is the middle of a storm, and the seas are raging, the disciples see the impossible, Jesus on the water. Peter, though he only had a small amount of faith, and probably a good dose of fear in that moment, was willing to trust and get out of the boat and walk to Jesus. “Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water: Jesus said “Come”.

Faith like that, faith that says “ok Lord, I am overwhelmed by the storms of my life right now, I long for answers that don’t come quickly.  I struggle to let go of the resolutions I planned for the outcomes you have planned. Lord, hold your hand out to me, help me find my way safely, and I will step out in faith”

How confident we can be friends, that He is there in the storms. In him we can find our peace, our hope, our courage. We can cry out “Father, our little faith can let us step out of our terror, even in the midst of storm, and walk on the water with you. You ask us to trust you, to take courage in you, in your presence, even when we don’t feel you near. You help us walk on the water in the storm.”

It is then that we find what cannot be found anywhere else. Peace that surpasses all understanding. Calm that belies the storms. Hope that even if it isn’t what WE planned, we know it will lead us to the exact place to bless us and to bless other’s with.

Lord you are just that amazing and good. Us of little faith, seek you and find you when we seek you with all of our hearts. Imperfect, scared to death, hurting and lacking in grace and mercy for other’s and for ourselves. We find perfect peace in all of that, the storms that this world brings.

Thank you, Father, for never letting me drown in this storm. Thank you for giving me the courage of Peter to step out in faith I don’t always feel!

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 14:27

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:13

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b]boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:1-4

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phillippians 4:7

 

Dweller On The Threshold

29 May

As I watch and listen to the thunderstorm off in the distance, I am struck by the sheer peace I feel. It is the answered prayer we prayed for, my God-Given, God-Designed friend and I.

Peace was not what I felt earlier today. I was angry and the angrier I became, the more my heart broke and the harder I cried.  The unexpected end of my marriage followed by my daughter and grandson’s unexpected move out of state is a trial I tell myself deserves a bit of a good old fashioned meltdown.  I know other’s are suffering greater loss than I, and I feel so selfish in my pain. I do know however that pain, whether great or small,  is still covered in the same way.  Faith and hope in our Lord and Savior.

God shows off most to me in the friends He brings to my life.  My Bou as I call her (she calls me Blondie), prayed with me, talked with me, and spoke truth back into my soul.  Because He is a God of amazing abundance, three more friends checked in on me.  I see Him. I feel His provision and closeness.

The night is near pitch with only a sliver of a moon. The fish are jumping in the water next to me, the thunder rolls quietly after a beautiful lightning display, Van Morrison is singing to me quietly. I am just sitting here taking it all in.  Peace. Calm. He reminds me in no uncertain terms, that He is not just near, He dwells here.

This warfare wears on me; this world is broken, people will get sick, they hurt us, disappoint us and sometimes they leave us.  Those are the hard things that break us or make us stronger. The depth of my faith may be tested, but my faith stands strong. When we lean in, when we trust Him in it, we are humbled. We may not always calmly endure the journey through our valleys, but journeying through them all the way, with God beside us, allows us to grow stronger. We grow in our faith, wisdom, courage,and in the end, what is lost will not go without, because something truly is gained.

I am not through the valley yet, but the path is becoming clearer and I am starting to feel that hope begin to flicker again. God breathed daylight into me when he formed me and my light has grown dimmer, my hope weaker and my heart was heavy much of the time.

I know there is something coming, I feel it. I am being put to the fire to prepare me for whatever is to come. I know there is purpose to this time of refinement, of loss, pain and trial. There is a purpose and He plans to bless people with what is gained in this. I know this as much as I know the reflection of my own face.  This path may feel too hard at times, but he has given me great strength and I have grown so brave. This is the path He laid before me, and it is stick straight. I just can’t see ahead yet.

He beckons me to look inside my home from outside. I see what He wants me to see. There is restored peace in my home. Where there was dark, there is a warm glow. Where there was careful wariness, there is comfort. Where there was apprehension, there is calm.

This is a restoration of the peace that I haven’t rested in, in a very long time.

Weeping may last for the night, but there is a song of joy in the morning. Psalm 30:5b

Double Minded

20 May

I posted something on Facebook that touched me. This quote felt relevant to my studies, but also to where I am at in my trials.

Humility is perfect quietness of heart, It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble.

– Andrew Murray

Someone responded from her heart the following statement. “I hope you can do this, but it’s just not me. I am a worrier. I’m trying to change that to a warrior!”

I wanted to respond with something powerful. Something God breathed. But I didn’t have any words.

The truth is, I long to be that;The truth is, I am not, not all the time. I have however, had enough of the taste for that peace that goes far beyond what my circumstances are, to long for it constantly.

James 1 speaks right to the truth for our Trials and our difficulties. He says to us (James 1:6-8) “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

The truth is: I do worry,  I do obsess, I do have war inside. I get lost in my mind. I cry out constantly to redirect my thoughts. The truth is, I am completely exhausted from the battle. Job cried out to God and I relate. “Surely, God, you have worn me out; you have devastated my entire household.” Job 16:7

If we could just unleash, in all circumstance, at all times, complete trust in the power that we have been given by the Holy Spirit; if we could simply stop being so double-minded and just dwell in that favor of strength, peace and hope at all times! Wow! Imagine all we could influence in this world of hopelessness and sorrow.

When God feels so far away and my mind betrays me with all that feels so wrong, I have allowed my worship and hope to be weak and given satan a front row seat in my boat.  I have forgotten every single promise and every single truth of who He is, who I am in Him. The fruits of faith that I have experienced and know so well.

When I am tossed about by fears, I have allowed satan access to my peace, my hope, my joy, my future.  He fills my mind with comparison, with feeling rejected and abandoned, I beat myself up over all that I should have done or could have done.  I become obsessed with the lies and betrayals. These are the exact opposite of the words of God. The world shreds us, Jesus refreshes our soul!

When we surrender all this junk that has us so torn up inside, He takes it. He just removes it.  We can’t stand not seeing into the future, we can’t trust an unknown future to our all knowing God. We think we need to fix it all because we don’t trust Him with our hearts, with our lives.  Humbly submitting this all to God is so brave and so difficult. It is so hard to relinquish our lives to Him.

Identifying this key decision I make to whom I am surrendering to, allows me the choice to make a different decision. I am not a victim tossed around like the waves. I am beheld by the one that makes the waves and calms the storms. Big difference.

I have known great peace in terrible trials, and I have seen God move mountains in my life. I have sat in wonder and awe at the great things He has done, the miracles I have witnessed, and the moments where I am struck by His obvious presence. Where I can say, “Oh, my soul, that was God!”.

I love God with all my heart, my mind and my soul. I am so grateful for the Grace and Mercy, bought by the blood of Christ for me! I am also keenly aware that my journey is not about earning anything. He knows my heart. This isn’t about failing in any way. He wants me to be stronger, more trusting, for so many reasons.

My Father wants to protect me, to provide for me, to give me peace in my circumstance, to keep my heart from breaking so much, to keep my spirit healthy, to keep me strong. He is there waiting to lavish all this and more on me, but mostly, He longs to have me near to Him, to worship Him, to humble myself to Him so I fully embrace and share the gifts that He has given me.  He longs to bless me because His blessings never just touch me. They flow through me and bless so many other’s. It is His way. Grace pours out so fully at times, it spills over on people that don’t even know Him at all.

So no. I don’t always have peace. I am not always humble. I do battle my ego and my fears.

But…. At the end of the day, I will always find my way back to Him that never leaves me, never forsakes me, never hurts me or lets me down. I will always long to be in the safety of His gentle arms, near to Him. I will always seek to worship Him fully, to know that He is near, to know it is Him that whispers in my ear, ‘You can do this. You can endure all things because I live inside your heart and I have made you victorious, strong, and courageous. And my beloved daughter, I love you dearly.  ‘

Leggo My Ego

16 May

Every day, as I head home, I begin to cry. I wonder what people on the road think of me as they pass.As the days turn into nights, my mind begins to betray me.
Thoughts of what if’s and why’s, my strength turns into insecurity
I wrestle with the words God says about me and who HE is, and begin to listen to other voices.The storm that I allow to be weakness in my heart leaves me wondering what I have done to deserve this.

In my study of Esther, I am realizing something so profound. I see no difference between pride and meekness or insecurity.  If you feel entitled to something you are either going to feel slighted or you are going to want recognition. It is ego. God will take you down from that mountain in a real hurry.  We either lament not having what we thought we deserved or we take credit for what we think we deserve.

Haman in Esther (Esther 6) was an insecure man that longed for recognition. He needed to puff himself  up with false pride and envisioned great honor for himself. He had a very dark heart, clouded by his own needs of entitlement. God humbled him in a moment.

Ego is a tool of Satan whether your ego is bruised or puffed up. You may not be arrogant; You may be insecure instead, but don’t think for a moment that this is humility. It is so ego driven, and because you think it isn’t self-centered, you may feed it more frequently than someone that is arrogant may. You may be easily offended, you may feel slighted more frequently, hurt deeper than most. You may focus more on what you are getting verses what you think you should be getting.

Humility is the opposite. Humility is only full of worship. Humility isn’t self-seeking in any way; It isn’t self-satisfying. Humility isn’t self-deprecating. It is a dying to self (ego)and knowing your worth. How we find true humbling of our self, is to look up to Him in full on worship and faith (obedience), regardless of where the latest trials or successes have taken you.

When you are truly humbled in your experience, though you feel the pain of trial,  you will know you are exactly where you are meant to be on this path of life. Humility let’s see that even though everything looks shattered and war torn, you can breathe. You can sigh deep within your heart and know, really know, that this is the plan. It is good.

It is painfully difficult but it is good.

Letting go of ego, starts with worship. If you read David’s words in Psalms, he often begins with statements of dire conditions and pain of heart. His circumstances are awful. But he turns to praise and worship of who God is.  I am turning to worship. I am worshipping Him for all He has planned and for all He is doing in my heart. He is removing all seeds of ego, He is replacing ego with humble and noble fearlessness*. He is reminding me of His powerful love and mercy. His Grace is pouring down on me in so many ways and when I am lost in ego, I miss it. I don’t want to miss that!

As a woman of faith, I have courage. In Him I can do all things for He gives me strength.  I am brave (in Him). I am strong (in Him). I am loved (by Him). I am purposeful (by Him). I am gifted (by Him). I am not alone (with Him).

I don’t have to earn anything. Not respect, not honor, not my place in Heaven. I am an heiress. I am in the will. It isn’t about what I do. It isn’t about my worth. It isn’t about me at all. It is who He is. It is what He has done. It is His love for me. I am worth more than rubies to him. I am His and He is mine.

Peace like a river. Even in the painful times. I trust in a perfect Father and believe Him and who He tells me He is. He is working out everything for my good. Yeah!

*Noble fearlessness is trusting in a higher purpose for every single what if, and why. The root work for noble in Hebrew is the same as Valor.

[b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies. Proverbs 31:10

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose Romans 8:28

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Deja Vu

13 May

If you have Facebook, you know there is a folder that reminds you of posts from years gone by.  Looking back at 3 years ago, I am watching my world unravel, to the beginning of spiritual warfare that I was not equipped for.

Prior to the spring of 2014,  my faith had matured and I had grown in so many ways.  I was surrounded by strong Godly women and I was doing alright; I was content. I was between trials.

Suddenly,  I found myself in the midst of change, a huge trial, everything was challenged. My daughter decided to move back to Minnesota and I was mourning her move.  My job was unstable and I was struggling terribly financially. I found myself suddenly lonely, for the first time in ages.  Moving into summer, things got worse and by July, I was worn out from the battle.

I honestly didn’t realize the depth of spiritual warfare I was dealing with at the time. It is only in looking back that I see the extent of the battle.

One night in particular I hit a new low.  As I cried out in sheer panic over finances, over my weaknesses, lack of faith, my temptations, a friend sent me a note in the middle of the night. She said I was on her heart that morning and she wanted me to read Isaiah 54. She emphasized Isaiah 54: 5. This is my response to her:

Last night, as I fell asleep. I cried out. I was deeply afflicted with sorrow and guilt and shame over how I am so double minded and feel so abandoned by God. I am surrounded with temptation and I don’t feel strong. I felt so distant from Him. So alone and abandoned, rejected, unwanted, I felt I had failed God in every way. I am weary of being alone and money and I felt like He was mad at me. That I must be such a disappointment to him. As I read Isaiah 54 my heart knew.. He wanted me to know He is there. “Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; But you will forget the shame of your youth, And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. 5 “For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the Lord of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth. 6 “For the Lord has called you, Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,” Says your God. 7 “[c]For a brief moment I forsook you, But with great compassion I will gather you. 8 “In an [d]outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,” Says the Lord your Redeemer.

Then, I went the exact opposite direction and began dating my husband.

During that trial,  I didn’t share the depth of my fears and sorrows with my friends. I didn’t tell them all that I was going through. I skimmed the surface and hid the depths of my fear,my shaky faith and loneliness.

Today, I find myself in a similar place. Almost a ‘Groundhogs day’ experience!

I am navigating the grief and pain the end of my marriage brings, and now my daughter is once again preparing to move away from me. This is an excellent move for her and my grandson, but my heart is torn in two.  I am shredded.

But God. But God. He is more than enough.  His love letter to me in Isaiah 54 still stands true.  I know His words are true.  Now I need to walk in it, to trust it completely.

How does one do that? It is a persistent faith;Believing what you don’t see or feel.

You start by sharing the burdens in your heart. You share your faith questions, you humble yourself and admit you are weak in trust, you accept that you are weak and need Him terribly. You let people know your journey. You let them pray over you. You ask the Holy Spirit to pray on your behalf. Then, you seek Him. You seek Him constantly. You pour your heart out to Him at all times. You yell, you cry, you beg, you bargain, you read His word back to Him.

And….you still your words. You quiet your mind and breathe. He is in the quiet. He is in the everything. He is in your tears. The quiet is when He speaks to you.  I can’t tell you the comfort of that time. When You just sit with Him, no words, just stillness.

The rest of Isaiah 54 has such promise. He makes promises to us all the time. He also gave us the free will to choose.

I am putting all my trust in Him whom has never let me down. Even when I falter, even when I run the other direction, He never stops pursuing me, never stops loving me. His covenant is forever.

Amen!

“To me this is like the days of Noah,
    when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
    never to rebuke you again.
10 Though the mountains be shaken

    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

11 “Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
    I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,[a]
    your foundations with lapis lazuli.
12 I will make your battlements of rubies,
    your gates of sparkling jewels,
    and all your walls of precious stones.
13 All your children will be taught by the Lord,
    and great will be their peace.
14 In righteousness you will be established:
Tyranny will be far from you;
    you will have nothing to fear.
Terror will be far removed;
    it will not come near you.
15 If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing;
    whoever attacks you will surrender to you.

16 “See, it is I who created the blacksmith
    who fans the coals into flame
    and forges a weapon fit for its work.
And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc;
17     no weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

 

 

Blessed Arms

7 May

It happens without warning.  You are doing something, or look up for a second from your task and the vision hits you.

Them….Him with her; It is almost a physical blow. You are thrown off kilter and it‘s as if your mind is betraying your fragile, broken heart. You can’t breathe.

Why does this thought come to me out of nowhere? Every time I think of them together,   a piece of me dies inside. I grieve from the depths of rejection, sorrow and abandonment.  Literally, it breaks me.

At a certain point, you have to let go, say goodbye… Grieve fully and let go. Only… he isn’t dead. He just became someone you didn’t know. In an instant.  In a moment, he changed your world without warning and without a discussion. You had no say. You were duped.

BUT… God. Amen.  God leans in and whispers in your ear,” I suffer this with you. You are my beloved and I suffer beside you. Your sorrow is felt by me as well. “

The Holy Spirit holds you a bit closer. God shows off a bit brighter, more brilliantly. Jesus shows up in unexpected ways, right when you need it. He is in a friends text, a friends voice, the friend that holds us and cries with us.

Jesus mourned. He suffered terribly from betrayal, from sorrow. He knows what we suffer. He cares deeply about our suffering. We are not alone. We are never alone. He understands.

Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow. Stay here and stay awake and keep watch with Me” Matthew 26:38

We don’t hold people, we don’t control them.  What they do with their free will is not really within our grasp to predict or direct.

What we do have, is a Perfect Savior, He is in our hearts.  In this moment, even in this devastation,  I feel so held, so loved.  I have been alone in my life, but the truth I have walked for 7 years, is the truth that holds me so tightly now.

I am not alone.

He is with me in this sorrow. He grieves with me. He cries with me. He hold my tears in a jar.  He won’t change this. Not now. Not in this time. This may not be what I chose, but He holds it all in His hands. I just need to trust that.

And I do. And I cry. And I grieve. And I accept.

Thy will be done. Amen.

 “My eye grows dim with sorrow. O LORD, I have called on You every day; I have spread out my hands to You [in prayer].”

‭‭PSALM‬ ‭88:9‬ ‭AMP‬‬