Just Do It

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I haven’t written in forever. I hate that I don’t have time to write because sharing on this blog has been truly therapeutic. You hear people say that all of the time, but it seems writing about the things God does bring new life to the soul. So what have I been doing?

Over the last several months, God has tapped me on the shoulder more than once to simply pray. This has happened to me before. I believe with my whole heart, God sees us when we struggle. He not only sees and feels our pain; He calls someone (or maybe many) to walk this road with us in prayer. And so, He has prompted me, awakened me at night and impressed on my heart to pray. Normally, this would be easy. I love to pray. But this time is different. He’s asking me to pray for someone I hardly know. Needless to say, it’s been a faith walk for sure. But I have learned some things about myself in the process.

I am reminded the problem is not really God’s concern. It seems He is more focused on the walk to the solution. You see, no problem is too big for God. He can do anything. But ultimately, it’s the journey He cares about. Along the way we learn to trust Him in ways we never would have before. We learn that He actually has a plan and all is worked out. My problem is that I think I will mess up His plan. But no, nothing I can do will ever change what God intends.

I also learned how fearful I am. It seems God has had to drag me along on this ride. He has had to persuade me. I have tried to walk away, but He simply won’t let me. He wants me to stay the course. I keep asking Him, “Why me?” I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. I don’t know how this person feels. I have no words of wisdom. I guess that’s precisely the point. It’s not about me. And how arrogant of me to think otherwise.

My scripture for this year is:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

I never realized how much fear hinders our lives. The reason we can’t seem to move forward with God is because of fear. It literally cripples us. It seems God is showing me this over and over. He’s making me do the things I fear the most.

This morning I had a special time in prayer. I have been agreeing in prayer with someone different for a few weeks and it seems God has answered our prayers. I was so thankful to pray with her. And I am praising God for His protection over her. But even more so, I sobbed because I felt so privileged to pray and encourage a sister in the Lord. I felt so honored to be chosen, really.

I don’t know where you find yourself today. Perhaps you are someone in need of prayer. God will send the perfect person to pray with you. Or maybe, He’s tapped you on the shoulder and invited you to walk the road with someone who desperately needs prayer. Whatever the case, know that He is in complete control and He really has a plan.

A Friend

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Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:4-5 NIV)

There once was a man who couldn’t help himself. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t work. A life sentence for a man like him was simply to ask. Day in and day out he would ask for enough to get by. He wasn’t going to get wealthy from his begging. He simply needed to provide enough for himself. I imagine he didn’t have a family but this man had friends. He had people who cared for him and wanted the best for him. They stopped at nothing to get him where he needed to go.

This story is a beautiful depiction of true friendship. This man could not get himself the help he needed but his friends could. They brought him and were met with crowds of people. There were too many people and no room to get in. So his friends tore the roof apart so they could lower their lame friend down. They didn’t give up, they found a way. You see, their friend would only be cured if he saw Jesus.

Sometimes, we are met with circumstances that are beyond us. They seem unfair, even wrong. We wonder if God has forgotten about us. We feel abandoned. And we find ourselves unable to pray. But God is always at work. He understands we are struggling. He knows our hurt. He recognizes that we are simply overwhelmed. That’s when He calls on someone to pray for us.

When God sees us unable to help ourselves, He brings in others to help. He calls in someone who will pray. When we can’t get to Jesus alone because the obstacles are too numerous, He provides a friend who will offer support. God brings in those who are willing to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. They lay us at the feet of Jesus because they know this is where we need to be.

Be encouraged today. God has not forgotten about you. He remains faithful, working out every single detail. And when you cannot pray, He will provide someone to do that for you too. He loves you and He knows what you need. When He calls upon you to pray for someone else, be honored. He is at work in the life of someone else and allows you to be a part of it.

Everything that Hinders

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I memorized Hebrews 12:1 and in the middle of it are these words, “let us throw off everything that hinders”. I’ve thought about those words a lot over the last few weeks. I’ve been thinking about them because I knew God was asking me to do something I’ve failed at in the past (or at least I considered a failure). I spent a lot of time praying and asking if He truly was prompting me. I reminded Him of my past failures. I decided someone much more qualified should step in. I really didn’t want to mess things up or make any part of this situation about me. It must always be about Him, His plan, His purpose and His will. And so after wrestling for several days, I told God I would do whatever He wanted.

During those days of wrestling these words made me realize I had been wearing my past mistakes as a cloak. They were weighing me down preventing me from moving forward. The hurt had turned to fear and the fear was stifling me. Worst of all, I allowed it. I lived there, in the safe place unwilling to step out for fear of failure once again. That was until God told me to “throw off” the very thing that was hindering me.

So, I sit here a few weeks later, after completing the task, with a thankful heart. He truly was my strength in weakness. He did the very thing He said He would do. I doubted. I was fearful. I was sure I’d fail. But He knew the outcome. And He allowed me to step outside of my natural inclinations to do something special. The thing about it was the task He asked me to do wasn’t all that magnificent. It was something terribly simple. But the effects were huge.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1 NIV)

Forgiveness is a Process

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In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. (Matthew 18:34 NIV)

I read Matthew 18 this morning. The end of the passage is a parable Jesus shares to answer questions about forgiveness. Peter asks how often he is required to forgive. He puts a limit on forgiveness. Can you imagine keeping track of every offense by each person in your life? I’m exhausted just thinking about it!!

I know Peter was simply trying to live as Jesus would expect. I imagine he was used to following a set of rules. It’s not like that with Jesus. He was not motivated by performance. Instead, love propels Him.

The servant in the story was jailed because he was unwilling to forgive a debt. He refused to offer the same mercy he had received from his master. Likewise, when we can’t bring ourselves to forgive, we are imprisoned. Our minds are consumed with thoughts of vengeance. We justify our behavior. We convince ourselves we have a right to feel this way. We think we are being righteous when we are actually judgemental.

The reality is, we will never be free until we forgive. God forgives us over and over. He shows us mercy and love every single day. We should offer the same. We have to if we want peace. But how do we? Sometimes, everything in us wants to but we just can’t.

True forgiveness is a process. It begins by allowing God’s will to override ours. We just have to tell Him we will forgive. Then we have to pray diligently for Him to change our hearts. He will but often times it takes work. It rarely happens overnight. And it has been my experience that I have to go to Him over and over recommitting to forgive. I know in the long run it is for my own benefit to forgive. And God knows that too!

Random Thoughts

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Writing was pushed to the side last week. I was too busy to put words to paper but I wanted to share some of the things that really spoke to me.

It began last Sunday with my pastor’s sermon. He used the scripture, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6 NASB) I had always applied this scripture to me. I am being perfected. I am becoming more like Christ. But he had a new spin. He explained when God uses us to do a good work, that work doesn’t die. God continues to bring His plan to pass even if we are not a part of it anymore. I was so encouraged and reminded that when God sets out to do anything, He never leaves it undone. And although we may never see the finished product, the Lord is still working. Your efforts are never a waste.

A few days later I read a blog post by Beth Moore. She is, by far, my favorite Bible teacher. She makes me laugh until I cry while striking the deepest part of my heart. She truly is gifted. She wrote a blog about memories. She shared some memories she’d like to forget. And she reminisced about precious things she cherished. Ultimately she came to this conclusion:

“So, today, Lord, I want to say to You that I am thankful. Because I remember. I remember the ditch You pulled me out of. I remember the hopelessness I’ve felt and the fears that I had no future. I remember a time when I wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. And I remember that the sun came up the next morning and the next and the next, glistening without fail on a heap of fresh mercies. I want to say that You have been right all along. And that life is such a gift. And it is precious. And passes with such haste. What we can hope is that there would be no waste.”

Every struggle and every joy creates a memory and that is a gift.  I do love her heart!!

Finally, I read a devotion in a Bible my hubby gave me almost 20 years ago. That man still makes me smile when I see him and shake my head in disbelief we’ve been together so long.  Warren Wiersbe writes in Live Like a King,

If life is to be rich and meaningful, then our joys must be the highest possible; and Jesus tells us that the highest joy possible is to see God.”

Know God is always working, even when you think He’s forgotten about you. Your memories are a gift. Use them to see His blessings in and through your life. And joy; always seek joy. We serve a God who is compassionate… and strong …and most of all, loving.

Where is God When we Fall?

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Soccer season is in full swing. Early morning games on the weekends make us yearn for the off season until we arrive on the open field moistened with dew. The air is chilled and there is an underlying hope that this game will be epic. It wasn’t any different this weekend. Parents stood there with coffee as the girls began their warm-up routine. They had to win or tie to make the finals. After an hour, the team came away with another win. Oh it wasn’t an easy win, they had to fight for it making the victory that much sweeter. In the end, it moved them into a tie for first place. Their only reward was facing the aggressive and sometimes dirty team again. Regardless, they marched to the next battle.

Four games in two days will wear out even the most physically fit person. But these girls didn’t show any signs of exhaustion. They went to the field determined to win. They knew the championship was within reach because they had tied this team the day before. It was a tough game. The girls were aggressive, insulting and obnoxious but our team charged on. Every girl on that field fought hard and when their opponent scored, they fought even harder.

The score was 1-0 with the opposing team ahead. The clock was running out when our striker got the ball and headed for the goal. She outran their defenders but only by a few steps. We held our breath. This was it. When she made this goal she would tie the game pushing the deciding factor to penalty kicks. She planned her attack glancing toward the defenders when all of the sudden she tripped. She fell to her knees sitting on the ball. Her moment was over. The hope of a tie score had diminished as the ref blew his whistle giving the other team a free kick. Our striker was devastated. Those of us cheering her on fell silent.

My girl’s team lost. They finished in second place even though they played well. The coach worked hard to encourage them but their disappointment was obvious. Our striker hung her head refusing to be consoled. Her Dad, knowing her regret, made his way to her. Lifting her head, she looked at her father. Immediately her eyes flooded with tears. That tough young lady stood there and cried as her father held her.

Life is a battle. It’s hard to balance all we have to do. We have demands placed on us. There are things we are required to do. We struggle day in and day out to do the right thing, to have the right attitude and to honor Christ with our lives. Some days are victorious. Others we want to forget. But always, and I mean always, whether in joy or in pain, our Father is there. He celebrates with us and He comforts us when we fall down. There is nothing that can keep Him from coming to us because His deepest desire is to be with us.

As you walk through this week, know He walks with you. He is cheering you on. He is for you. He will guide you and show you the way. And when you trip and fall, He will offer you a hand up and a shoulder to cry on. He’s that kind of Father.

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;  though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

(Psalm 37:23-24 NIV)

Trusting God with our Children

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A few years ago

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.(Romans 8:37 ESV)

Last week, I went to open house for my son. Since we talk a lot about life at school, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Some of his teachers greeted me asking who my child was. They offered kind words (whew!) which I always appreciate. Then they did their presentation. I was surprised though. I assumed the teachers my boy favored would be the fun teachers. What I realized is that my boy prefers the teachers who are personable. Those who took the time to shake my hand, look me in the eye and offer encouragement about my boy where the same teachers who have taken the time to get to know my child personally.

God knows each of us personally. He knows our children personally too. It has been a season of changes and I am thankful for this scripture. It has become real to me over the years and now I am reminded of it as I send my children off each day. He loves them. He will protect them. And He will draw each of them closer. Unfortunately, growth often comes when life is hard. Yes, God wants our kids to struggle so they can learn to rely on Him.

My tendency is to make life easy for my kids. I love to surprise them. I enjoy blessing them unexpectedly. But the reality is, those things aren’t going to increase their dependence on God. Real life happens every day and I’m not supposed to hide them from it. Instead, I’m supposed to teach them how to walk through it. They will come up against challenges and I have to let them pursue the solution. If I do it for them, they will never learn on their own. It is a hard road but I KNOW God is with them. It is comforting to see God has surrounded my children with wonderful people. Some of these people are fellow Christians. Others are not. All are welcome in my children’s lives because they all have something to offer and they care.

God never called us to an easy life. He doesn’t call our children to leisure either. Their spiritual growth will come when they fall down. They will learn from their mistakes. It will not ruin them if they have a misstep here and there. We just have to get out of the way and let God work.

Thank you Lord for those who surround us to teach us, guide us and encourage us. They are blessings from you meant to help us as we journey through this life.