January has been a rough month, taxing emotionally, financially, mentally and spiritually. December 31st filled me with promise for an amazing start to 2019 and if I’m being honest, it’s been anything but amazing. Financially, I had some setbacks, that really put me in a bad position and you know how frustrating that can be, right? Then, I found out an old friend of mine had passed away, in the most unexpected and awful way. It rocked me to my core and to be honest I think I’m still in shock. We were such good friends growing up and although we grew apart, I never stopped wondering about her and trying to keep up with her life, because well, that’s what you do when you love someone, it doesn’t fade away. It’s a complicated relationship, but I’ll just say, my heart was and still is broken. The sadness didn’t stop when another friend lost a dear loved one unexpectedly as well. On top of the fact that work was ridiculously stressful and I had to travel, I’ve been feeling really depleted.
I can feel the walls closing in and as they are closing my mind is going to that stinking thinking place filled with insecurity and doubt. Do you ever go down that road? It’s isn’t a fun trip. There are days where I feel absolutely useless. I take two steps forward and twenty steps back, and I want to scream, “God, what is going on?” I cry, uncle! I mean I’m trying here! I’m sure that’s the problem, I’m trying and not surrendering. How hard it is to just let go and let God? Although I know His way is the best way, and that he already knows the obstacles I will face and has it worked out, it’s still not always easy for me to surrender. That’s that pesky human ego side that fights the spirit tooth and nail.
I’ve been digesting the verse in Lamentations because it is a much-needed reminder of the Lord’s never-ending compassion and mercies that are new every morning. January has been a beast, but I can look back and see God’s compassion coming through. Whether it is Him calming my heart and mind, or a friend bailing me out of a tough unexpected financial situation, or help with my child after school, or a meal on the house from a kind person when I was traveling for work, God was present and his hand was in every situation. I didn’t have to do a thing but allow Him to work. He will never allow us to be consumed because His love is so great, so awesome and consuming! God’s love covers us and carries us. I pray that if you are feeling brokenhearted and weak that you read Lamentations and think about God’s mercies in your life…they are present, I promise you. Allow yourself to be consumed by his compassion and not your burdens.
Have you settled the matter of your sin? When we say yes to Jesus Christ as our Savior we have settled the matter. Christ paid for our sin debt in full, dying on the cross for every one of our sins, but the question is do we believe that the matter is settled? Or do we continue to live in bondage, shackled to guilt, and shame never fully resting in the blessed assurance of our redemption through Christ? The enemy stalks us with our sin. When we choose to continuously live in the shadows of our sin it distracts us from God’s work. Sin’s hold on you isn’t by mistake, it is a deliberate part of Satan’s plan to keep you distracted, and doubting your faith, and identity in Christ.
Our mind and spirit are in a battle with the enemy and every day we have to ask ourselves,”Who am I in Christ?” “Am I a new creature?” “Do I believe I am forgiven?” It’s one thing to say I am a child of Christ, it is another thing to live as a child of Christ. Jesus loved us enough and deemed us worthy to save us from death, but we must be willing to accept his grace and his forgiveness. Why is it that so many of us spend years living in shame, beating ourselves up and stuck in the past because we refuse to forgive ourselves for our sins?
Yes, we should repent, confess, turn away from sin, and be remorseful, but repeatedly punishing ourselves is useless. When we refuse to forgive ourselves we are saying that Christ’s forgiveness isn’t enough, that his death on the cross doesn’t cut it. There is absolutely nothing in this world you can ever do that Christ’s grace and forgiveness can’t cover.
You can’t live as a new creation if you’re living with an old mindset. You are divinely designed! God’s plans for you are bigger than your sin. Yes, your sin was like scarlet, red as crimson, but the Lord settled the matter, so let it be settled in your heart, mind, and spirit.
There are two powerful darts that aim to shoot us down, snatch away dreams and inject poison into our hopes and tries to deflate our faith. Those darts are fear and discouragement. Have you ever got shot in the gut by one of these darts? Most of us experience the unpleasant effects of fear or discouragement when we are burning up to do God’s work. When we are on purpose and intentionally trying to live out God’s will for our life, that when the darts come flying out of nowhere.
You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Some of you are probably licking your wounds as you read these words. Maybe it was just a few weeks ago that you had boundless energy to do God’s work. The path in front of you felt familiar because God had planted the seeds in your heart, to carry out his will and you felt fulfilled because that’s exactly what you were doing, then all of a sudden bam! You’re hit with a wave of fear, intimidation, pessimism and a stream of negative thoughts that scream how unworthy and ill-equipped you are to be on this path. After the fear gets cozy it ushers in discouragement. All the confidence and enthusiasm you were bursting with is slowly drained by the poisonous dart that has intentionally found its way to you.
Fear and discouragement are the heavy artillery used by the enemy to derail you and extinguish the fire you have as a follower of Christ. If you’ve been under attack you know how debilitating and paralyzing it is to your spirit. So, how do you loosen the grip of the enemy’s hold in your life?
Just as God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous he commands us to do the same. How can we do this when we can barely see above the fear that’s clouding our vision and the discouragement that invading our heart? We can only do it through the assurance that God is with us always. If God who is all-powerful, omniscient, never-changing, who is limitless in possibility is always with us then fear and discouragement are already defeated. The Lord is our shield protecting us from the darts of the enemy. Through our faith and assurance, our courage and strength are born. We can be encouraged by the knowledge of the scriptures that assure us that God has our back.
When I’m in my groove and on my path of purpose a huge mistake I make that gives the enemy a clear shot is when I become self-reliant. The courage and strength I experience in the beginning are born from Christ, but then that old prideful self-appears and foolishly I start to rely on my own abilities, skills, and strength, placing my protective shield in a corner. The enemy is crafty! When he sees I’ve taken off my armor he will take full advantage of my unprotected state, target my weaknesses and vulnerabilities with a full-on attack. Suddenly I’ve veered off course. I’m deflated, doubtful and feel like a balloon that’s been popped. All that zeal for God is replaced with a hesitancy to go forward. Ladies this isn’t what God wants for us!
The key to strength and courage is allowing it to pour in through Christ. Let him fill you with his blessed assurance, let him wipe away the tears of discouragement and resuscitate you with a heart of encouragement! You have nothing to fear as long as you continue to be rooted in Christ. We don’t have to be strong on our own, we can’t! We need the Lord of infinite power to permeate our life to be a force field against the darts of the enemy so that we can become the masterpiece the potter had always planned!
There are more days than less when I feel like anything but a conqueror. Instead of feeling like a conqueror, I feel weak, tired, less than, and defeated. There are days when I just want to put the covers over my head and simply give up because the day in front of me is so overwhelming that I don’t want to face it alone. When I slip into this pit of defeat, I’m reminded that it isn’t my strength, but through the strength of God who loves me that I will get through the day. Regardless of how stressful or impossible it appears to be, God lifts me up to higher ground.
I run into trouble when I throw on depend on myself. When I think that I’m in control and a conqueror of my own is when I realize how weak I really am without fully relying on the one who loves me. God created us to be conquerors, to withstand even the unspeakable trials that fall upon us and he empowers us to stand against the spiritual battles we face every day. When we accepted Christ we were endowed with the Holy Spirit and the real power that comes through Christ.
If you’re in a season that is getting the best of you, that is tearing you down I want you to read Roman 8:37 and remember that not only are you a conqueror through His love, you are MORE than a conqueror! Sweet sister, put your full faith in the Lord and you will see a mighty blessing take place. You will experience what God is able to do in any situation big or small through you! Meditate on this scripture and etch it in your heart and mind whenever you are doubtful and ready to give up. God isn’t finished with you he is just beginning and there is much to conqueror in your path, but you are equipped with an everlasting love and the most powerful ally that ever lived…Jesus Christ. Now, stand firmly in the conqueror God created you to be!
The Lord has been speaking to my heart to dive deeper into the scriptures, to look behind the words and their meanings to understand the context in a way that is powerful and applicable to my life. This scripture in Psalm 9:10 has three words that have been piercing my spirit in this season. The words are trust, seek, and forsaken. I want to give you my study notes as I let this Psalm sink into my mind and spirit.
Trust: To have confidence, to entrust, firm belief, reliability, the strength of someone or something. :
Seek: To search for, sought after diligently, to reach out, a desire to obtain, to resort to, to discover.
Forsaken: To leave behind in the sense of abandoning, to leave in straights or helpless, to set apart, to turn away from entirely or renounce.
There is no other word that brings more comfort than His Name…Lord. When we know His name, and really understand the significance of his name and who the Lord is in our life as our deliverer, our Father, and our Savior we should be overwhelmed with the assurance of his love.
We can trust in His name, meaning we can have complete confidence and a firm belief in the reliability of his strength in all our circumstances and in every season when we are weak. Our God is unchanging and stable in all his ways. We can believe in his promises and entrust to him every fear, uncertainty or hope we have because he will safeguard as only our heavenly Father can do.
God never leaves our side, even when we feel alone. It isn’t God that’s grown distant it is us. That’s why we need to diligently seek the Lord and the word that is life-giving. When I feel distant from God I have to ask myself have I stopped desiring Him, his word, his commands. Have I gotten lazy in discovering and digging deeper into who the Lord is to me?
We will experience seasons, where we will wonder, ‘where are you, God?’ In those difficult days, we have to remember His promise to never forsake us. God will never abandon you, renounce you, or leave you behind because His love for us is eternal. His death on the cross is an unbreakable bond of his love us in our sinful natural self. Even in the darkest days, you can trust that when you seek him and know his name that the Lord will comfort and keep you.
In a world that has an insatiable appetite for everything material, there are only a few things that really matter and are consequential. What matters above riches is a relationship with Jesus, wisdom, faith, and love. In these strange and trying times, I find myself angrier than usual, more easily offended and wanting to jump into the flesh in a New York minute. Everything seems a little louder, a lot more personal and there’s an underlying current of sadness and disappointment in and for the people in the world around me. I’ve been turning to the scriptures for solace and the word that is sticking in my head is wisdom.
Godly wisdom and not the world’s wisdom is an indispensable friend and guardian of my life as I weave in and out of situations that continue to surprise me. I am reminded to hold onto the instruction, to the God-breathed scripture and apply to my daily walk as a mom, a Christian and as a woman. I am so grateful for the blueprint of the Bible as I continue to walk along this crazy path called life. I know in this flawed world there is one thing that is flawless and that is the wisdom of the scriptures and my Savior Jesus Christ.
In August, I had the pleasure of going on a Church Camp Retreat with my daughter. It started out rocky with an insane thunderstorm that threatened the whole weekend, but God shined down and made it a beautiful and memorable couple days for everyone. It was also the weekend of the terrible events that occurred in Charlottesville. My soul ached for the hatred in the world and the toll it took on human lives and hearts. On the other hand, I felt comforted and protected by the love that surrounded us from my brothers and sisters in Christ. Our love crossed all the boundaries that society has a tendency to use for dividing us, but we embraced one another with the fruit of the holy spirit. It was refreshing watching the kids play without inhibitions in the wide open fields, laying in the hammock, sitting around the bonfire eating smores and taking an evening walk through the woods laughing with a little screaming along the way.
On Saturday, the ladies were taught a class by one of my favorite teachers ever (Isabelle if you’re reading this, you know it’s you 🙂 about the woman of the Bible, both villains, and heroes. Our ever so clever instructor had a different color of yarn that represented each woman and red yarn that represented God. We were all seated in a circle and passed around the red yarn, then as each woman was discussed we passed around that yarn that represented them all while continuously passing around the red yarn that weaved through the others. It was an amazing class exercise that I have thought about ever since.
Here are a few practical points I took from this exercise that I wanted to share:
- God is Woven Into the Fabric of Our Lives Regardless of Our Choices: Whether our choices are wise or unwise God is always present, we may not acknowledge or turn to him, but he is woven into our lives every day as a constant presence.
- It Takes Intentional Focus to be Aware of How God is Woven Into Our Life: It was interesting and humorous watching the women in the circle passing around the yarn, especially when there was more than one yarn going around at a time, it did get a little tricky. It made me think about how we should focus our attention on how God is working through our lives and how we have to be intentional about our own awareness of his presence even when we get tangled up by obstacles.
- God Creates a Beautiful Tapestry in Our Lives: We all endure different seasons in our lives. Some seasons are simple and flow easily just like the rhythm in the beginning of our exercise, but as the stories began to pick up so did the pace, and there was some struggle in keeping the yarn going around. At times it got a little delayed, but our sisters helped each other to get it moving again all the while weaving the red yarn through the colors. In the end, there was this beautiful, a little messy, but filled with love project. I think that’s how it is with us. We make all kinds of different choices, some good some unwise, sometimes we’re moving right along and then we get stuck. But, we have our family in Christ to help us get through the knots so we can keep going and all the while God is right there through the whole process and in the end there is something beautiful.
The red that represented God was dominant and I have to remember that as I face this full season in my life. That no matter my circumstances, or choices I make, God is always sovereign and in control. Isn’t it wonderful that we can take great comfort in knowing that He is the dominant force in our life? We can have faith that through it all he has a beautiful tapestry planned out specifically for each of us!