Tag Archives: God’s faithfulness

Look For His Shirt

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Sometime in the fall our church joined the other churches in our community for a prayer walk, and for probably a mile or so we all came together asking God for so many things we want for the Highlawn area. We prayed for the school, other churches, the hospital – you name it, it was covered. It was a beautiful day, with colored leaves on the trees and on the sidewalks and in neighborhood yards.

There are few things I love more than finding a big, extra crisp one, stepping right on top of it and hearing the crunch. During the walk I was distracted by these beauties and when I looked up, I realized I wasn’t in the same place in our large group. I couldn’t see Shawn anymore. I was looking all around me, but wasn’t having much luck finding him.
Everyone was taller than me so couldn’t see very far ahead of where I was, but then when I peeked around the right side of the group, up ahead I could see a bit of a red shirt. I knew he was wearing red, and felt pretty confident it was him. It was just enough for me to keep my eyes on until our next stop when I could meet back up with him.
Sometimes I find myself losing God in my crowd. Things pile in around me and I can’t see over the doubt, the fear, the uncertainty. Looking around I can find the tall disappointment, and I can see the broad-shouldered comparison, but where is God?

Then without fail, He will come into view and I can see a smidgeon of red, wondering if that just might be his sleeve. It is the hope I need to keep going.

In Luke chapter 8, a woman had been sick for 12 years, and no doctors could help her. She knows Jesus is passing by, and knew that if she could just get so close to be able to touch his clothes, it would be enough. She knew she just needed to be near Him.

She was right. Immediately, without even a word said, He did what doctors could not.
And I love so much that Scripture says “she could not go unnoticed.” She was settling for just being near Him, but He wanted to see her, up close. He called her “daughter.”

Being near did the job, but Jesus didn’t want it to stay that way. He got closer.

Are you facing something that seems much bigger than you, and you can’t seem to see God in it anywhere? Pray for a glimpse. All we really need is to know He is near.

Are distracted by all the things – the doubt, the comparison, the lies of the enemy? Look for His shirt.

Thankfully these times aren’t the norm. Often I feel like Jesus is right there, in my line of vision. And there are other times I feel like He is close enough to be holding my hand. But for those moments when I just can’t seem to find Him, I am so glad I can look for His shirt and that will be enough to keep me going. He is always close by.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

Remaining Hopeful in the Waiting

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“If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”
II Timothy 2:13

This has been a weird year. Last year about this time, Shawn made a New Year resolution to play more basketball. He loves it and it gives him some exercise in the process, so it’s a win-win. But the first game he played in January resulted in knee surgery, a new-used ACL and a meniscus repair, followed by 3 months of physical therapy. (His resolution the year before was not to wear pants… Neither lasted very long).

The year trudged on, with me going back to work some, difficult times at church that have brought me to a time of what feels like grieving, and a writer’s block that would leave me sitting at my computer with no words to spill out on my screen.

I’ve stared at the blank page far too many times to count. There was nothing to say that could benefit anyone who might read it. I prayed for words, but felt nothing.

I am not a patient person, and it’s hard for me not to get answers right away (and, by the way, they need to be the answers I want). And while it hasn’t been a terrible year at all (many good things have happened – Noah likes high school, I like my job, our family got away for a weekend trip to Tennessee, and God has faithfully provided), it has felt like a year of chipping.

A bit of chipping away at our self-sufficiency, when so many friends and family have given and blessed us in ways we never would have asked. A bit of chipping away at my selfishness of my time, time I was wasting and didn’t realize it until I had to fill those hours up with working. Some chipping away at my comfort, seeing that new or different isn’t always worse, even if it hurts a little.

And I’m learning some patience. If God has words for me to write, first I must spend more time with Him to hear what that is. If He wants me to wait on His words, and not just fill up a screen because I need another blog that week, that’s okay too.

But the waiting is hard.

I was reading in Luke this week, and in chapter one, Zechariah gets big news. He is old, and so is his wife. While we don’t know exactly how old, “well along in years” doesn’t sound like something you would say to a 40-year-old. But Zechariah gets a visit from Gabriel, telling him, “Your prayer has been heard.” He and Elizabeth are gonna have a baby! And not only that, but a baby who will do great things for God’s people, and who will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from birth. Now that’s an answer to prayer.

But it made me wonder, how long did Zechariah pray for this? How long did he go month after month, waiting to see God bless them with a child, only to find out that again, it hasn’t happened? Did his prayers lose their punch, as months and then years start to add up, without seeing any result?

Did daily prayers to God turn into weekly, then monthly, then an occasional, “Please God,” when he saw another new baby in the neighborhood? Until at some point, he just resolved that it was too late.

In verse 18, he questions Gabriel, saying, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” That didn’t sound like a guy who had just faithfully prayed that morning for a bouncing baby boy. And Gabriel responded with a bit of a punishment – he will be silent for the remainder of the pregnancy, “because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”

God’s proper time is rarely what we want and hope for it to be. We are really like toddlers, wanting it now, sometimes throwing in a tantrum to show we mean it (just me?). But God is a good Father, and He knows far better than we do what we need, and when we need it. He knew Zechariah’s baby was going to be special. John would bring many people of Israel back to their God. He paved the path for the ministry of Jesus, then was blessed to baptize Him himself. God knew when this needed to happen. He knows best. He always does.

Don’t lose hope. Our prayers aren’t always answered in the way that we want, nor in the time frame we want, and sometimes it seems like they haven’t been answered at all. But we can trust our Father.

Remind yourself of God’s faithfulness in the past, and His faithfulness to others around you. He is a good Father.

Don’t lose hope in the waiting. There is always hope.

 

 

 

A God we can count on

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2 Samuel  24 :10  “David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”

Four months. After a simple basketball injury, tearing his ACL and his meniscus, my in-great-shape husband underwent a seemingly simple surgery that we thought would be followed by a seemingly simple recovery. I thought a couple of weeks would be the maximum recovery time needed, but his physical therapist thought otherwise.

He said there is a real possibility that it could be four months before my husband is able to return to work.

I won’t lie, it was tempting to freak out. While his job is great and a definite blessing from God, it provides nearly no “sick days” and what little they do give disappears at the end of the year. So he had two weeks of vacation leave he could use, and after that, we were on our own.

So I started counting. In my mind, I remembered our savings account (thank you, Dave Ramsey, and my dear husband who doesn’t like to waste money), not to mention the gazillion church friends and family since then who have insisted on helping financially, and with dinner and in other random ways – (we LOVE each of you!). I was able to remain calm, knowing we were going to be okay.

Counting it all up made me feel secure.

David tried something a little similar in 2 Samuel 24. He chose to comfort himself by counting all the military guys he had at his disposal.

He was even advised that this was a bad plan by his wise friend, Joab. Joab knew that regardless of the number of men, God could provide whatever military force they needed.

But David didn’t listen. He had all the men who were fit for fighting tallied up, and between Israel and Judah combined, there were 1.3 million able-bodied men.

Then David’s conscience got to him. He saw what he had done as sin.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I had never thought of counting as being sinful in any circumstance.

David says to God, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” (v.10)

Counting wasn’t sinful, but not trusting God was. By counting his guys, David was ultimately trusting in his own power. He was trying to be self-sufficient, and he knew that God prefers quite the opposite.

God wants us to trust Him. He has shown us over and over again how trustworthy He is, both to others in biblical accounts and to ourselves in the past.

David knew how God had already provided for him, from the very beginning – saving David from a lion and a bear, winning the fight against Goliath, and blessing David’s reign as king. And somehow he lost sight of that for a minute, and became immersed in figuring out his own capabilities.

He forgot to trust in God.

Thankfully as soon as he realized what he had done, he quickly turned to God and repented for not trusting. David was a man after God’s own heart.

My first inclination in most circumstances is to see if it is something I can handle on my own. It’s easy not to worry when I can see I’ve got the resources to take care of it.

But if I don’t, that’s a different story. Worry creeps in and gets comfy, making itself at home.

I have a lot to learn from David.

While I have already counted our own resources and I can’t really un-count them, I have decided not to worry regardless of how things go. If every appliance we own stops working all at once, and if Shawn is told it will be twice the time off, I will know that I can still trust God to take care of us one way or another.No matter what.

God has proven himself trustworthy to David, to me, and to you. Thank you, Lord!

Take a couple of minutes to make a note (mentally, in the comments section, on the back of a receipt, or otherwise) of some of the ways God has already proven himself faithful and trustworthy to you. I’d love to hear about it!

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

Hiking, hillsides, and dads

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“…There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son…” – Deuteronomy 1:31

Saturday was such a beautiful day, it seemed a shame to spend any more of it inside than we had to. So by afternoon when we had some free time, we decided to go to the park and enjoy nature. Our idea of enjoying nature and Noah’s is usually a little different. Mine is a walk, or sitting under a tree, reading. Noah’s is soccer, Frisbee, badminton – things that make me tired. So this time Shawn and I decided it was only fair to do both. We did the hike first (genius, btw. After a 4-mile hike, he wasn’t as ambitious with the Frisbee).

The trail we picked was the River Trail at Barboursville Park. Noah used to think it was a little scary, so it is not his favorite. I like that it has very few inclines #gettingbywithaslittleaspossible #lazy. It also has some beautiful spots, like this one. (Right before this picture, I pointed out to Noah how beautiful it was, “I hate this trail,” how that stream of water could be on a postcard or calendar, “the other trails are better…”)

The trails Noah prefers are the ones on the side of the mountains, up and down all over. Once we were geocaching on a muddy trail (never found the cache, btw, so if anyone wants to cheat and tell us where it is, that would be great 😉 . We had climbed up this steep, muddy hillside to check out an area. The trick was getting back down. We couldn’t do it. Noah was scared, and I won’t lie, I was scared too. Naturally Shawn went back down with no trouble, but Noah and I were apprehensive, to put it mildly. Shawn planted his feet firmly in the ground and reached for Noah, placing him safely back on the trail, easy peasy.

In the Bible, Moses reminded the Israelites of the times God also did the same for them. The Israelites had wandered around in the desert for a super long time after leaving Egypt. In Deuteronomy 1:31 he said, “…There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son…” He was recounting all the times God had been there for them. He didn’t want them to forget how they were once slaves in Egypt, but in ways only God could do, he set them free.

Each time God helps us through something, or carries us, our faith in Him should be a little bit stronger. When we see how much He cares, how He rescues in ways that we know can only be from Him, we become more certain that the next time we face something, we can count on Him.

There are so many times God has done this for me. When depression overwhelmed me to the point I didn’t want to keep living, God carried me. When we suffered two miscarriages, God carried us. When my marriage was at it’s roughest point, I was sure it was over. But God carried us.

If you are in the middle of your own desert, questioning if you will make it out, carve out a few minutes right now. Make a list – mental or on paper, whichever works best for you. Remind yourself of the times God has been there for you. The times He has carried you, as a father carries his son. Pick a couple that come to mind and keep going until you feel your faith in God renewed.

I’d love for you to share with me a time or two that God has carried you…

“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.'” – Psalm 31:14

4/29/2014

Olympic chatter, rocks, and God’s faithfulness

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The Olympics pretty much rock. I’m not athletic and I don’t follow many of events, but when I do see them, it is awesome. A couple of nights ago I caught just a few minutes of the halfpipe event, and was excited that Shaun White (the only name this non-athlete recognized) hadn’t gone yet. I tuned in just in time. It was hard to watch though, as he crashed the first time, and then didn’t score high enough for a medal. Bummer. (All of this is really unrelated to this blog post, I just wanted to look like I was cool for a second 🙂

Another Olympian I heard about yesterday was a free-skier named David Wise. But the story wasn’t about his event, which may or may not have happened yet – not sure. It was a simple story about how anytime he goes away somewhere, whether a trip, a hike, fishing, or a skiing event, he finds a heart-shaped rock to bring back to his sweet wife to let her know she was thought of. This is a picture from his Instagram of the one he is bringing back to her from Sochi.

David Wise

Sweet, right? It is good to have reminders. His wife collects these rocks, and when she sees them, she can remember all the times she has been thought of and missed while he was away from her.

I was reading in my Bible not that long ago about some other stones that were used as reminders. In Joshua chapter 3, Joshua was following God’s direction and leading the Israelites across the Jordan River. God explained with detailed instruction that He would divide the water in the river, allowing the Israelites to cross right through it.  God wanted to give them the confidence they would need for the situations they would soon face. On a side note, I LOVE that God did this. Chapter 3 verse 10 says, “This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites.” He knew what they would need to trust Him, and cared enough to make sure they would be ready.

So moving along, in Chapter 4, they had finished crossing the river, with things happening just like God said they would. He told Joshua to set up 12 stones that had been in the middle of the river bed, one stone for each of the 12 tribes of Israel. In verse 6 and 7, he explained why. “… In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

Then at least four other times, rocks were used as reminders for other things that had happened.

I think I need some rocks. There have been so many times God has answered prayers for me. A few days ago God brought a few of those to mind. It is so easy to forget the goodness and faithfulness of God. Sometimes we focus on the times God answered our prayers differently than how we wanted, and we start doubting the power of prayer. But we must remember however it is answered, it is always for His glory. And there are other times prayers are answered exactly like we asked, and in a way that is only possible through God, and soon after we just go on about our daily lives, and those times get put way in the back of our minds.

It is crazy that we could forget something so awesome as the God of everything listening to one simple human being among the other 7 billion humans living and breathing right now…and not just listening, but caring and working things out because we are asking.

Maybe piles of rocks all over my house wouldn’t be the best plan, but something more doable in terms of space, like a prayer journal, would be a way to do that. A place that I can remember when I fasted a weekly meal and prayed for weeks for specific friends to get closer to Jesus, and they did. A way I can remember that I prayed for God’s presence to be felt in Noah’s school, and a Bible study was started there at lunchtime by a pastor I don’t know. A place I can remember when many people prayed for my sweet niece to be born healthy, while tests were showing she wouldn’t be, yet she was. A reminder of when a kid in Noah’s class kept getting in trouble and having problems with school work, we prayed for him daily, and by the end of the year Noah said that kid was doing so much better in class.

All we do is ask God; He answers. He loves and cares that much. The least I can do is remember, and to share those stories with my child, and with anyone else who will listen.

What kinds of things could you set up some rocks for?

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,

   for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; 

   great is your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23

 

2/13/2014

 

Birds, brokenness, and God’s track record

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Peregrine falcons are interesting. They are fast and they are committed. These birds keep the same mate for life.

The only reason I have even heard of these particular falcons is from working at the Ironton Tribune and doing a story once about some fledglings that were in a nest on the Ironton-Russell Bridge. The falcons were going to be banded and named in a ceremony of sorts, open to the public.

I was able to climb on the bridge and be close to their nest and get a couple of pictures and it wasn’t pleasant. I am terrified of heights and water, so a bridge that is in such bad shape it is about to be torn down was not my favorite. I prayed a bunch.

These tiny falcons were to be temporarily removed from their nests by wildlife experts, taken to a picnic shelter at the base of the bridge, and given a tiny ID bracelet around their tiny falcon legs. Then some students who had been studying them were going to name them.

Though the little falcons would only be away from their parents for a short time, and then carefully returned to their nests, their mom and dad had no idea what had happened to them.

The screeches and squawks above the Ohio River were kind of heartbreaking, knowing that these loving parents were so scared and so helpless, swooping and flying all around the bridge in a panic, and not realizing their babies and their situation were safely in the hands of professionals.

There have been so many times in my life that I have felt like that falcon couple. I felt fear and panic, and began my own screeching and squawking, wondering why something has happened, why it seemed like there was no one to help and nothing I could do. And, like the falcons, I didn’t see that I had a Professional in control of the situation the entire time.

My parents’ divorce – God was there.

My Mom’s sickness – God was there.

My loss of two pregnancies – God was there.

Just a few of my own examples. These situations were ugly and messy and didn’t go the way I wanted, but I was never alone for even a second. It may have felt that way sometimes. There were many times I felt desperate and heartbroken.

In Psalm 77, the writer says in verses 1-9,

     “I cried out to God for help;

        I cried out to God to hear me.

     When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;

        at night I stretched out untiring hands

        and my soul refused to be comforted.

     I remembered you, O God, and I groaned;

        I mused, and my spirit grew faint.

     You kept my eyes from closing;

        I was too troubled to speak.

     I thought about the former days,

        the years of long ago;

     I remembered my songs in the night.

        My heart mused and my spirit inquired:

     ‘Will the Lord reject forever?

        Will he never show his favor again?

     Has his unfailing love vanished forever?

        Has his promise failed for all time?

     Has God forgotten to be merciful?

       Has he in anger withheld his compassion?'”

We aren’t the first to feel abandoned. This writer wasn’t afraid to let God know how he felt and we shouldn’t be either. Our screeching and squawking to God also keeps us listening for His voice. In verses 11 and 12, the writer goes a different direction. He begins to remember all the times God has clearly been present throughout history and focuses on God’s power and faithfulness.

     “I will remember the deeds of the Lord;

        yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

     I will meditate on all your works

        and consider all your mighty deeds.”

If you are in the middle of your own squawking and screeching, hurting and brokenness, remember your Professional is close by. Remember the times He has been with you before, and the times before that He has been with others. You probably know some great examples from your own life, the lives of your family and friends. And the Bible is full of some too.

He has it under control. He wants the best for you and He will not leave you.

“…As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Joshua 1:5b

 

5/19/13