This is dedicated with prayer to those in Moore, Oklahoma as well as all those whose “soul feels crushed.”
Such a great devotional from the book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:
Follow Me one step at a time. That is all I require of you. In fact, that is the only way to move through this space/time world. You see huge mountains looming, and you start wondering how you’re going to scale those heights. Meanwhile, because you’re not looking where you’re going, you stumble on the easy path where I am leading you now. As I help you get back on your feet, you tell Me how worried you are about the cliffs up ahead. But you don’t know what will happen today, much less tomorrow. Our path may take an abrupt turn, leading you away from those mountains. There may be an easier way up the mountains than is visible from this distance. If I do lead you up the cliffs, I will equip you thoroughly for that strenuous climb. I will even give My angels charge over you, to preserve you in all your ways.
Keep your mind on the present journey, enjoying My Presence. Walk by faith, not by sight, trusting Me to open up the way before you.
Psalm 18:29; Psalm 91:11-12 (AMP); 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV)
With “life stuff” swirling around me, I’m in danger of being sucked down into the vortex.I’m on the Pastoral Search Team with weekly meetings & lots of responsibility, weekly Bible Study, full-time job that sometimes stretches to 9-10 hours, a high school senior in the midst of college applications, school activities, a college senior studying in Istanbul, Turkey, worry about jobs, money, and the future. The daily life of family and friends who need me. Trying to listen to God, trying to be what He wants me to be. Trying to be “Jesus with skin.” Trying to ignore the discouraging whispers, lies, deceits. Fighting off a horrible cold that finally knocked me off my feet and into bed last week that I’m still recovering from. And the holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s….a time that should be joyous, full of love, hope, thankfulness, family. A time to focus on the most precious Gift ever given. The most stressful time of the whole year for me at WORK!!! Deadlines, crazy projects, problems, things that could have been done months ago but all of a sudden, someone realizes it’s the end of the year, and other such nonsense…besides the additional rush of gift orders to fulfill. Along with the other seasonal stressful obligations that I try to avoid but somehow can’t…..How has this wonderful time of year become such a drag?
Time for some Advent Attitude Adjustment….but that’s another post…..
I’ve been reading Moses’ last speeches in Deuteronomy to the Israelites in my Chronological Bible, and I just can’t get past it. Not for a bad reason (other than I’m dragging my feet about reading all the laws that are gathered in one place in the Chronological Bible). But I just keep reading and re-reading what Moses is telling them….how God is faithful, about His promises, about how they messed up so many times and warnings NOT to anymore, etc. God is talking to me so much in these passages.
And He is talking to me through conversations with a friend who is going through some frustrating struggles. My words to her are God’s words to me:
The words about God shaking you up and control and surrender….it’s just that is what came to my heart as I was praying….I know that when things are out of whack for me, I struggle to keep things under my control – things that I really have NO control over at all but I’m grasping so tightly that I am not surrendering & trusting God. And that only frustrates me more & causes everything around me to spin more out of control….the image is that of those bouncy balls bouncing all around a small room or a chicken running around with his head cut off (that image is a literal image that I got from my grandmother when she slaughtered chickens for our dinner….seriously! Still gives me nightmares!)
I know that things are so totally up in the air at church right now. It can be frustrating & I think we’d all like things to be “put to right” IMMEDIATELY. But unfortunately, that’s not what’s going to happen…I really feel, though, that it’s going to be all right. Better than all right, actually.
I’ve been reading in Deuteronomy – when Moses is giving the Israelites his last speeches, reminding them of what God’s done & is going to do as they go into the promised land…and how they didn’t trust or have faith & had to keep wandering for 40 years. I can’t seem to get out of that book because I’m learning so much. God is talking to me so much…I keep going back & reading & re-reading!!! Anyway, there is a verse that I keep coming back to & seems appropriate here: Deut 7:22 “The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you.”
Then I read in a blog (thank you Dean Gutch) that it’s the journey….little by little…..if we depend on ourselves and not God to do the work He is doing in us, if things always happen at once & not little by little according to His plan and His way, then some of those “wild animals” will multiply around us…..that could be pride in our accomplishment, complacency due our security, etc. And I think He has more in mind for us and our situation.
And another verse that keeps bouncing around in my head is Deuteronomy 8:2: “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” YIKES! That’s what I keep thinking about myself! That’s why I’ve been in the wilderness for so long?!?!
Also, please don’t let the enemy steal from you…..the accuser of the brethren who wants to destroy our relationships…with the Father, with each other. He wants to spoil things. I am reading a book called Listening Prayer & this is what I read this morning:
“Satan’s voice may make you feel defeated, isolated, hopeless, helpless, cynical about life, full of despair, etc. He has a way of spoiling your attitude so you will turn your concentration away from the Lord and lose your sense of closeness to Him……Satan uses discouragement. He’ll try to convince you that God isn’t working quickly enough on your behalf. He’ll suggest that you should take matters in your own hands and manipulate the situation to your benefit instead of waiting on God’s ways and timing. (!!!! I’m just copying the words here!!!!! The above stuff was what I was already trying to figure out how to write to you!!!!) He is trying to make you distrustful of God. He wants you to question if God really knows or wants what is best for you.”
Ok, yes, I’m understand & am trying to take to heart. But I’m still struggling with the worry about projects, money, those things I am grasping onto, those things I’m trying to control….
As I am inclined to do, I woke up in the middle of the night/VERY early morning, with these things on my mind and heart. I cried out to the Lord for help, not really sure what help, just help! When I looked at the clock, I realized that it was almost 3:30 a.m. and smiled. Becaaaaauuuuuussse….a few months ago, God gave me the gift of a Joyce Meyer program that comes on at 3:30 a.m. my time. I just knew that God would talk to me through her as He has quite a few times. She just puts everything so plainly.
What did she talk about? The Shield of Faith! You can listen to it here. There is a part 2 also. Think I’d prefer to hear it online later rather that at 3:30 a.m. though.
She reminded me that faith doesn’t just stop at believing in Jesus…that it is much more….
That faith can grow….only as we use it! Joyce used the analogy (heard it before but had forgotten) of muscle mass growing through effort….exercise, lifting heavier and heavier weights as your muscle has reached its plateau with each weight so that you need to lift heavier ones in order to continue growing. And of course, we are the same in our faith walk. We may get past one faith crisis/growth period, but unfortunately, God doesn’t want us to plateau out. He wants us to keep growing in our faith, stretching us. Faith grows THROUGH EXPERIENCE WITH GOD.
She spoke about several facets of faith, including waiting when we don’t think things are happening fast enough or God isn’t working on our behalf quite as fast as we’d like Him, too. That faith dispels fear & worry. That we need to learn to LIVE in that faith, to exercise that faith…every single day, little by little. Hmmm…..is there a theme here?
Joyce reminded me to LIFT UP MY SHIELD OF FAITH! Not just drag it around with me. LIFT IT UP!
We have this hope as an anchor of the soul, firm and secure.
What a comforting verse! I came across it this morning in my reading and was instantly drawn to it.
Some people think of these synomyms of an anchor: confining, binding, constraining, controlling, etc.
But these synonyms fit an anchor (something used to hold something else securely) of the soul: safeguard, protection, support, comfort, defense, mainstay, pillar.
Amidst the storms of this life, I am so grateful for and comforted by the ANCHOR OF MY SOUL. Hold me securely, Lord.
….my heart has been heavy and unsettled with a lot of things. Not much time to dig deep into His Word & rest in His Presence. And I feel down in a pit.
But God is loving and faithful. He sent Words to me this morning from my friend through her devotional. The EXACT Words I’ve given her before. The EXACT Words that He usually gives me…the “do not fear or be discouraged,” the “I am with you,” the “I have gone before you,” the “come to me,” the “take every thought captive.” My friend and I laughed through our tears at His wonderful sense of humor. Just perfect. Nothing new or earth-shattering. Things I already know. Things He has to keep telling me in His patient, loving way. I can just hear Him saying, “Chrystal, Chrystal. How many times do you need to hear this? Here it is once more.”
Last Sunday, our message at church was about Psalm 84. THIS, too, is perfect.
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young– a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. “Selah” 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. 8 Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty; listen to me, O God of Jacob. “Selah” 9 Look upon our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one. 10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. 12 O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.
And here it is in music. Perfect again. My heart feels lighter. Thank you, LORD.
It seems there are just some days more than others…..some hours……some minutes….some SECONDS……but really, we should always be needy….”Give us this day our DAILY bread.”
Heard that powerful quote from Sunday’s sermon by Pastor Wes, entitled “Jesus’ Way to Overcoming Worry, Anxiety and Fear.” That’s right. I LAUGHED when I read the title in the message notes. Then I started CRYING. The sermon was all about the dangers of worry and that seeking the Father and His Kingdom first was the key.
My Sovereign Lord was trying to bring the whole thing to a close for me on Sunday. That thing that has been my struggle for a long time, but has reared its ugly head especially the last few weeks. That thing that has been draining my strength. That quote from Corrie Ten Boom was actually the second time I’d heard that concept in the past week. He had already been telling me that even if “something bad” did happen, worrying about the possibility was not going to change it. So the quote just cinched it. I have been exhausted with the weight of worry and fear. It’s just too heavy. And it’s been choking me and tormenting me. Pastor Wes talked about the definition of worry on Sunday, and I’ve also blogged about that here and here.
I had truly been making some progress the last week or so – in turning over my worry and concern to God, in releasing some of my need to control situations, in giving my fear to His Hands, in trusting. My “mantra” became “He’s in Your Hands, Lord” concerning my son and “You’re in control, not me” and “Your Will be done.” And every time I’ve said the words, I’ve received peace. Hopefully, the Lord will not grow tired of hearing those words, because I imagine He will hear them many more times from me during my time here on earth.
Obviously worry and fear have been long-time companions of mine. My son’s leaving for Istanbul was not the major issue…but just a catalyst for this particular go-round.
When I was looking up the quote from Ten Boom, I found this site that lists several of her quotes and read another that pierced me: “Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”
OUCH!!!! It HAS been hurting!
God also has been telling me to let my son go through devotions about Abraham and Isaac. YES, can you believe it? I have actually received a couple of devotionals from Genesis 22 PLUS my friend also did…which she read to me. GC, GC, GC all over the place!
I may be stubborn, but I’m not stupid.
I want to be over this! I’m so done with it. I’m sick of myself. When I think of Corrie Ten Boom and many others who actually had/have a real reason for fear, worry, concern, I especially am disgusted with myself. Whiny baby.
God is so good to me, and He is so faithful, patient, and loving. I AM making strides. I AM learning. I AM growing. Sometimes I forget how far I’ve come because all I can see is how far I still need to go. I’d like it better if I had already learned everything I’m supposed to learn because this is all pretty tiring. But I guess that won’t happen until I’m Home. In the meantime, one step at a time. I’m getting one step closer each time.
Here are more of Ten Boom’s nuggets of wisdom that I loved:
Sounds like a soap opera title, doesn’t it? There ARE some commonalities actually – conflict and tension, among them.
God is trying to batter down my walls and door about my need to control…about surrendering to Him. And I’m feeling battered. I woke up this a.m. with so many thoughts running through my head about this – God was trying to show me how so many things – my lack of trust (not only of Him but others), my fear of the unknown, my worry and anxiety, my fear of being betrayed so I keep thoughts to myself (that was kinda hidden in the corners of my mind because good grief, I certainly pour it out in my writing), my dislike of chaos, my attempt to keep a tight rein on everything, etc. – are all tied together with sin – the original sin and my own. This particular sin laid out in lots of my previous posts – especially the last couple of weeks – about the above issues.
This morning God also reminded me of what I read recently in my Bible in Genesis. I had noticed something that I had never seen before. In Genesis 3:16 after Adam & Eve listened to satan and disobeyed God, He said to Eve: “Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” THEN in Genesis 4:7, God says to Cain when He banishes him for the murder of Abel, “…..and if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you but you should rule over it.”
Near identical wording. Interesting, is it not? I knew I had to investigate this further.
John Piper makes the parallel connection:
The key comes from recognizing the connection between the last words of this verse (3:16b) and the last words of Genesis 4:7. Here God is warning Cain about his resentment and anger against Abel. God tells him that sin is about to get the upper hand in his life. Notice at the end of the verse 7: “Sin is crouching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it (literally: you shall rule over it).”
The parallel here between 3:16 and 4:7 is amazingly close. The words are virtually the same in Hebrew, but you can see this in the English as well. In 3:16 God says to the woman, “Your desire is for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” In 4:7 God says to Cain, “Sin’s desire is for you, and you shall rule over it.”
Now the reason this is important to see is that it shows us more clearly what is meant by “desire.” When 4:7 says that sin is crouching at the door of Cain’s heart (like a lion, Genesis 49:9) and that it’s desire is for him, it means that sin wants to overpower him. It wants to defeat him and subdue him and make him the slave of sin.
Now when we go back to 3:16 we should probably see the same meaning in the sinful desire of woman. When it says, “Your desire shall be for your husband,” it means that when sin has the upper hand in woman she will desire to overpower or subdue or exploit man. And when sin has the upper hand in man he will respond in like manner and with his strength subdue her, or rule over her.
It’s a CONTROL ISSUE!!!! Eve’s sin was that she didn’t submit to God’s command but took control. And it seems to indicate that there would be struggles for control from then on. Self-exaltation, self-sufficiency, and pride always result in the desire to dominate and rule and control. The opposite of submission.
That’s right…..I blame it all on Eve. Well, Adam did, didn’t he? And she blamed it on the serpent….
THEN later I read what D.A. Carson said in his book The God Who Is There – Finding Your Place in God’s Story comparing the two verses: “The tentacles of rebellion against God corrodes all relationships.” Definitely our relationship with God.
My devotional this morning is ANOTHER GC!
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
God “appoints” people before they are born in the sense that He has a plan and purpose for each person. Some believe this divine plan cannot be resisted. Others assume that, although God has a specific purpose for each of us, He also gives each of us the freedom to either accept or reject His purposes. As for Jeremiah, though he tried to back of out of his calling at least once, he found he couldn’t, and finally surrendered his will to God’s. (emphasis mine)
Maybe God battered down Jeremiah’s walls, too.
That’s what I believe God tells us….and what He’s certainly been telling me for years. That He is going to accomplish His Will one way or the other. So why on earth would we…would I….want to choose the hard way? YOUR OWN WAY may be pride, anger, etc.. But whatever OUR OWN WAY is, the root of it is SELF-SUFFICIENCY and lack of trust. Of course for me, the hard way – MY WAY – is….drum roll please……….
Yeah, you know it if you’ve read any of my posts…….Here comes the C-word and the T-word and even the F-WORD! Control and Trust and Fear.
I’m sure you’ve heard the claim that 85 percent of what we worry about will never happen to us? According to this, there is absolutely nothing we can do about 10 percent of our worries, and that only the other 5 percent of our worries are legitimate. When we look at our worries in the light of these statistics, seems like most of our worrying is useless….
…..so again, I ask, WHY? Why would I choose the hard way, my way? Why would I worry so much about things unlikely to even happen?!?!
Obviously, Jesus knew a little something about those statistics. Matt 6:25-34
25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Yesterday, I heard a sermon (thank you Alex!) based on Matt 18:1-5. I’m not really sure if the intent of his message was truly this…I was actually concentrating on certain aspects of it…..but this is what God was saying to my heart. Alex said that little children are not self-sufficient. They depend wholly on the adults in their lives – their parents – for their existence. They trust. I like how one version put it: “I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven” or “unless you change your whole outlook…”
I need to stop trying to be self-sufficient and depend wholly on my Father. I need to be vulnerable, humble and open like a child. I need to relax in His Arms, in His provision, in Love, and in His Goodness. I need to cry out Abba, Daddy, and let Him take over. To let go of my need to control. I need an Inside-Out change.
These words are from an email devotional this week – just another GC:
The decision to trust God or to carry the worries of the world yourself is up to you. Either road you decide to take requires an action decision on your part. One road leads to fulfillment and peace, the other road leads to frustration and anxiety. By all means choose the road called trust! God’s Word has never been proven wrong.
Either road you decide to take requires an action decision on your part. We CHOOSE! We can either take God’s Way or our own way – the easy way or the hard way….
I can’t get this song (below) out of my head lately. I’ve been trying to figure out exactly why…It’s like the exact concept is in there somewhere. It’s hovering in my consciousness, but I can’t quite grasp the complete idea that God wants me to hear……but almost. There are so many phrases in this song that just capture my heart, among them:
Although I cry every time I hear this song, that last phrase listed makes me cry especially. And trust me….I do not miss the GC of the word door. It just keeps popping up. See my posts here and here among other things. On a friend’s Facebook status this morning (Oswald wisdom: Unless you learn to open the door of your life completely and let God in from your first waking moment of each new day, you will be working on the wrong level throughout the day.) and then in an article I read this morning…
How was I feeling this morning? Feeling the walls closing in around me, that’s what. I’m feeling pulled in many directions – the pull of others and of upcoming responsibilities. Feeling the fear and anxiety of my son leaving to study in Istanbul, Turkey in 2 weeks. Yep, been struggling with that ALL SUMMER but trying NOT to. I’m truly having a hard time surrendering his safety to God, surrendering my control of the situation (Yes, I know…I don’t have any control of my son’s life – it’s a false sense of control but one I’ve been clinging to). Turning him and his life over to the One who Created him. My desire to hear from God. The desire to BE what God wants. I have a couple of devotionals that I really want to read and learn from that I try to fit in every day and am really feeling the NEED to read through the Bible as I talked about here. REALLY a big NEED. I’m reading and loving the Chronological Bible by the way. And I’m really feeling..at cross purposes…what’s the word I’m looking for…CONFLICTED! between WHO I AM right now/have been and WHO/WHAT God wants me to be….I think….I see glimpses of WHO God wants me to be, but I’m nowhere near it. I keep thinking, why am I not changing? Why am I still selfish? Why do I still feel like the old me? Why am I still dealing with the Same. Old. Stuff?!?!?
There are things that I KNOW are holding me back. That I just can’t seem to surrender. Why is it so hard? And then perhaps part of it is the working of the enemy. I know he doesn’t want me to move ahead…he wants me to feel conflicted.
Back to the article I read this morning – referencing the door – by John Eldredge:
“….in Revelation 3 (Yes, this is what I posted about in The Door), He says ‘I stand at the door knocking.’ Somebody locked that door, and it wasn’t Jesus. He’s speaking to Christians – that’s a letter written to the church – and He’s saying, ‘You’ve locked Me out. Please let ME in.’ We tend to interpret Jesus through our brokenness and create ways to lock Him out. For example, there’s the Christian who says, ‘Well, God doesn’t speak directly to me.’ It’s going to be very difficult for that person to discern God speaking to him because he’s already created a limit that says, ‘No, He doesn’t act this way.’
Now, what’s so beautiful about the heart of God is that He will live within these limits for a while because He wants relationship with you. He’ll try to come in through some other door, (kinda sounds like a window, don’t you think?) trying to keep the relationship open – as a loving parent would do with a teenager. You don’t just slam the door on the teenager. You say, ‘Okay, if these are the ground rules you’re creating, then in order to keep communication open, I’ll relate to you like this for while.’ FOR A WHILE. But Jesus says, ‘I’m still knocking. Please stop shutting the door.’
I am not the Christian referenced above who doesn’t think God speaks directly to me. I KNOW He does. And I’ve written about it and will write more about it. So what limits have I created to keep Him from transforming me? Maybe He already is doing that, and I just can’t see it. Can’t feel it. Am I just being too impatient? Is there some spiritual warfare involved? Are these just “growing pains?” Or am I just not responding to what He wants? Am I wrestling with Him like this post? I just re-read that post and am sobbing. Is God wrestling with me instead? It’s like a tug-of-war going on with my thoughts. I HATE this…being fearful, anxious, unsettled.
A lot of bloggers in this community write uplifting, encouraging, teaching words. I’m grateful for that and get much out of them. But sometimes that makes me feel like I’m the only one who struggles. But I really don’t think I am. From the beginning of this blog, I felt that I was supposed be open and vulnerable to allow others to take comfort in the fact that they didn’t have to be “perfect” Christians. We do not have to wear a mask, pretending to have it all together. I take comfort from the characters in the Bible. They certainly had their issues.