Seven years ago, I was in what, to me, felt like a dungeon of despair. I was an addict who mourned a life she could only dream of. I remember the call of my spirit to be His girl again. I remember even in my sin and sorrow, His word was my conviction, and, it was my comfort. The dates in my Bible seem like a lifetime ago now, but what a difference seven years, and a marvelous Savior, can make!! I am grateful His hand is salvation, and He heard me even though my sins had hidden His face from me. My paths had undoubtedly been crooked, and finding my way back home was an arduous journey. Oh how thankful I am He heard the prayer of my soul, and no matter what, I will always be His child.
So, dear soul, remember this – the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. No matter how far you run, no matter your struggle, He will hear you when you call out to Him. He is the loving Father who runs to meet you on your way home – you will always be His, and, He sees you afar off.
A few days ago I read Mark chapter 3, and found the powerful truth of what it means to be chosen, not because of who we are, but because of who He is. Jesus knew all that was within the hearts of those who sought to kill him, and, so, it was safe for me to assume He surely knew all the secret thoughts of the men he chose as His disciples too (among whom stood the doubter, the denier and the double-crosser.)
Think about it for a simple moment. Christ knew all that was and all that was to come, and He still chose them, in all their messiness. He loved them so much He used them for His glory. He loved them so much He died for them. He loved them so much He chose them.
Two days of procrastinating, not being to articulate what it was I had in my heart, has been a tad frustrating. Nevertheless, I will leave you with this thought – He knows all about us too, and He chose to die for us. He chose to call us friends. In all our undoneness, He loved us with omnoscient mercy, He loved us with Calvary.
Amazing love. Amazing grace. Amazing grace. Amazing Choice.
Over the past little bit I have questioned my calling, and, I have wondered if (sometimes) I spend my strength for no purpose. Yet, as I slowly perused the verses of Isaiah 49, I felt an old familiar nudge to sit still, and listen. That’s a difficult task for a girl who is always talking, for a woman whose mind is forever wondering.
Nevertheless, His truth is patient. His correction is compassionate. He reveals what we need, when we need it. There is great comfort to be found in both the chastening and chiseling hands of our Father, the Potter.
Mining the gold in Isaiah 49 brought me back to the right focus – Christ’s glory. He is the One who saves us and calls us to do a work for Him. He shelters us with His protection, and in the shade of His authority, He tests us and sharpens us – to be arrows, hidden in His quiver, used for His honor and praise. His plan is bigger than we can comprehend – with an eternal value. I often forget that. Our reward is always with Him. He’s faithful – rest in that.
A few years ago, I spent a little time in the beautiful country of Laos. One day, while on my daily walk through the market, I saw a sweet girl resting at the end of her ten hour work day. Just an hour before laying her sleepy head upon her table full of goods, she had been smiling (with genuine joy) as she worked alongside her mother. Her two younger siblings had been laughing and playing, so full of life and joy, but they too had settled into quiet. Tonight, just as I did then, I thought about my own walk with the Lord. I thought about how sometimes I am busy working for Him, doing my best to be a smiling little girl working alongside her Father. But then, there are moments like now when I lay my head on His table full of His goods – mercy, truth, grace, love and forgiveness – and I fall fast asleep, peacefully resting, knowing He has me covered.
Photos Taken by Tonya Brown
2018 was a whirlwind. There were days of pure delight, and, days I wondered if I would ever feel settled. It is so easy to second guess myself when life gets messy. So often, I have walked through the door of doubt into rooms of misgivings and confusion. And, if the truth be told, those moments of uncertainty most frequently come when I am forced outside my comfort zone, when the Lord’s plan looks totally different than my vision of the plan. Upon listening to Pastor Michael Todd preach about vision and release, I asked the Lord to whisper where He would have me grow for 2019. I needed a word He wanted me to study – one to implement more into my daily walk with Him. Trust. It wasn’t the word I necessarily wanted, nevertheless, it is an area He said I needed to grow. Trust in His process, trust in His preparation, trust in His provision, simply trust in Him. Steven Furtick asserted this, “Trust takes time,” and I would have to agree. It does take time, it takes a lifetime of trusting in His ways, and in His love, because He is the One who orders all our steps. He knows the end from the beginning, and all the in-between. Lisa Bevere admonished, “Often knowing when you are is more important than where you are.” With every single day of this new year, this becomes more evident to me. To make a move toward Him is sometimes to simply sit still at His feet, listening and learning, right where you are. Trusting He allowed you to be there for a reason.
How could the day have begun with such frustration, such longing? She is on the backside of her forties, living for Jesus, married, and has more blessings than she can count. And, it was Valentine’s Day. So why had her heart found itself so sorrowful? She needed to know. As a cyclone of emotions whirled through her soul, her mind wandered back over her day. Her Father seemed to gently guide her memory to an early morning moment – love had switched tracks with disappointment and derailed her focus. She had built up an event in her mind that turned out to be a non-event. No flowers, no grand gestures of love – an argument was left in their stead. All day she had allowed herself to walk with the scoundrel comparison. The smooth criminal was dressed for success, and had happily stolen pieces of her peace with every “why can’t my husband be sweet like that?” It had been easy to feel justified in her envy – and, in her disappointment – until she remembered the truth of His word. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. She knew her husband loved her, she knew she loved him too. So, she told him all that was in her heart, and listened as he shared his with her. She let go of comparison’s hand and held on to her sweetheart’s – the precious man her Maker had given her to love and cherish. Peace restored, focus regained, and love revived. A little later that evening, when the waiter handed her a complimetary rose and wished her a Happy Valentine’s Day, she knew. She knew her Father had been listening intently to her heart. She knew His love for her was true and steady, it was strong and perfect. She knew His banner over her would always be love. He would be her forever Valentine, and she was content in the knowing.
God is forever challenging us to be who He wants us to be. I’m thankful He never gives up (even when we get discouraged.) When dreams get lost, or disappointment and failure crop up, unfortunately, it is easy to grow frustrated. Before we know it, we are in a place of coldness and doubt, and sometimes, even unbelief. I reached that place, and stayed there for many years. I thought God would heal me completely if I could just be a good Christian. I had unwittingly put limitations on my faith. My willingness to accept God’s grace was severely hindered. I lived a defeated life, feeling I could never measure up, nor could I be deserving of God’s blessings. It took me a while to realize the truth is I can’t. I never will. That is exactly why it’s called grace! It is a divinely unmerited favor. There is such freedom in realizing this truth – in believing fully He wants so much goodness for our lives. John 10:10 exclaims He came not only to give us life, but that we might have it more abundantly. His healing for me has come on a different level, and in ways that I can’t explain or comprehend. He has shown me a strength and quiet grace that can only come from Him. So, even though pain, heartache, and moments of frustration come, there is a peace in knowing relief can be found in Christ. His strength is made perfect in our weakness, and His mercies are not limited (or withheld) because of our performance. He is teaching me daily it is not about me at all, but rather, it’s all about Him!
He gives us everything we need. ❤
God’s timing is often a hard thing for many of us (especially me) to understand; it is easy to allow impatience to confuse us. Yet, His ways are always perfect, and trusting this truth clears the way for His purpose. His word assures us that we are not the first ones to have to wait on His timing, and we most certainly will not be the last. He is always working for our good and His glory. So, the next time we wonder why things aren’t happening right now, or why it seems prayers are going unheard, let us encourage one another to remember His promises. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we could ever think or ask. God knows best how to work the land of our lives. He has already surveyed the path we walk, He knows what lies ahead, He will bring more contentment and joy than our “right nows” could ever bring.
Learning to be content, learning to be still, and learning to lean are all difficult for me. I wonder why I get so easily discouraged sometimes, and then, I remember – the enemy of my faith is more subtle than any other foe. However, as I was listening to a Tony Evan’s sermon once, I heard him say this, “God’s perspective changes the way you look at things.” God will use the mess to create beauty. He made us out of dirt didn’t He? Rahab, a prostitute. David, an adulterer. Saul, a murderer. Peter, a liar. All called out from the muck of sinful attitudes and lives to be used mightily of God. Let the Word put things in the right perspective. As His child, we are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (I Corinthians 6:11) Jesus redeems, His blood cleanses from all unrighteousness. Enough said. When our dreams are centered in His will, they can never be too grand because it is the Father’s good pleasure to give His children the kingdom. It is when we are not looking at things from His perspective that desires become inundated with the world’s expectations and become distorted. We are more than conquerors through Christ, and when we seek to make Him foremost in our lives, nothing is impossible with Him. Nothing. Today we can rest in the great and capable hands of the Father – learning, and leaning, content in the stillness