Tag Archives: trust

How to Walk 101

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tommybw

Have you ever had a struggle that you felt like you would never get past? You would never be over? Maybe something wears you down and you feel like you’ll never learn how to get through it or triumph over it?

We are definitely creatures of short-sightedness.

If only we could have God’s perspective on our life! Shoulda woulda coulda.

I will never forget the wise words from one of my youth minister’s growing up. I was going through a struggle (one which I honestly can’t even recall! ha!), and he told me “This too shall pass.” Why I had never heard that before, I don’t know. I hear it all the time now! Or maybe you’ve heard people tell you, “It’s only a season.” And for goodness’ sake, you feel like the “season” is lasting all of your life!

Either way, we have such a hard time seeing past our current circumstances into the future where we experience the triumph or the character building from the struggle. Tunnel vision. The problem is that the tunnel seems so dark and the light so far away.

If you’ve ever had children, you remember those milestones through their infancy and into the toddler phase. First, you think they’ll NEVER sleep (or at least that’s what I thought with all three of my boys…I’m pretty sure I thought I was going to die several times through that “season”). And then one day, you wake up for the first time at 7 a.m. (instead of 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. and…) and you do the victory dance (and then quickly peak at the monitor to make sure baby is alive). Secondly, you think they’ll NEVER get those teeth in that seem to bother them for months (seriously?! what is up with that? I could collect drool and sell it for a small fortune). Then one day, you see two little teeth pop through their gums! Next, you think they’ll NEVER crawl. Then one day, you watch the movement from belly to hands and knees, see the rocking and they take off! Then you think they’ll NEVER walk. And then one day, they’re cruising around the coffee table and all of a sudden they let go and take a couple of steps to your open arms (and then for the next 2 years you wish they had never learned to walk because then they get into everything!). And so it goes year after year, milestone after milestone. You think they are never going to learn something, but then they do. And of course they do! Have you seen many adults who don’t sleep through the night and require multiple feedings at night? Any adults with no teeth? Any adults who only crawl everywhere? How absurd! Of course not! It’s all a part of our development as humans.

So why is our spiritual life any different? We drink the milk and move on to the meat. But we grow over time. We can’t start off with the meat anymore than a baby can start off walking and talking.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

These struggles can be to us “light momentary affliction” with the right perspective. These things that we deal with everyday are the “seen” and are transient.

tran·sient adjective 1. lasting only for a short time; impermanent. Synonyms: transitory, temporary, short-lived, short-term, impermanent, brief, short, momentary, fleeting, passing, here today and gone tomorrow.
So we look to the unseen! How strange to look to something we can’t see. It’s almost laughable! But it’s exactly and ironically what we must do. We look to our Father who knows our frame, He knows our struggles, He’s well acquainted with our griefs, and we cast those cares on Him. We put one foot in front of the other, and we do well some days to stay focused on Him and other days we fall flat. But the next day we get up and put one foot in front of the other, and we seek the unseen. We develop spiritual muscles, we depend on Him who alone makes us holy. And then one day, we start to sleep through the night. We start to get teeth. We start to crawl. And then we walk. Walk in step with the Spirit. Ever seeking, ever depending on Him. One foot in front of the other.
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I’ve Got This Sinking Feeling

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BOAT ON THE SEA

But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ Matthew 14:30

I know I am weak. Weak-hearted. Weak-minded. Weak-bodied. Oh, I’m sure I have my moments of strength just like everyone else, but I’m mostly just weak. Sometimes I’m okay with this. Other times, I get super frustrated (this is what I say to my kids so they’ll understand that I’m REALLY frustrated and not mad).

I get easily discouraged at times. This usually happens when things aren’t going my way, and though these times aren’t frequent, it’s enough to make me wilt. For example, when I play tennis, I don’t try as hard and my resolve to win weakens when I’m not hitting my shots well (and this happens to be quite frequent). Any great tennis player has learned that you not only need to be physically fit, but you also have to be mentally fit. You’ve got to learn to deal with the ups and downs. And though you have a perfect game as far as shots are concerned, you could still lose the whole match because you crumble under pressure. Weak-minded.

Then there are those times when I start my day with a cup of spilled coffee all over my workbook and with a child that is bent on doing anything opposite from what I say. Every moment after that seems to be one wrong turn after another. My spirit weakens. My lip quivers. I’m already throwing in the towel for the day. Weak-hearted.

I’ve got my eyes on the waves instead of on the One who called me out onto the waters (something which, like Peter, I requested of Him).

I wish I could be more consistently focused on Him in these fragile moments. I don’t want to be of little faith (Matthew 14:31), “incredulous, lacking confidence — in Christ” (from Strong’s). Trusting in the “Son of God” (v. 33) is truly a moment by moment choice. Jesus asks Peter why he doubted, and because I know my Jesus is not one who shames us, I think He asked it because He wanted to encourage Peter to trust Him. Jesus encourages us to have faith in Him because He is faithful. He is completely capable. It’s implicit in His question that He can be trusted. And why? Because His heart is good.

I would like to say that my struggle is not in trusting Him because I know with all my heart that He can be trusted. I like to think that my struggle is a problem of letting go and surrendering to Him. I always want to try to do it myself. But this is exactly a problem of faith. The problem is, I think that I can handle the situation better than Him. Well, that’s still an issue of questioning whether He can be trusted with the things of this life. He is more than able.

In those moments of panic and anxiety, I want to fix my eyes on the Author and Perfecter of my FAITH who can always and will always strengthen my faith in Him when I call out to Him (Hebrews 12:2). May I throw off every hindrance, and run the race set before me (Hebrews 12:1), intent on trusting Him during the moments of weakness. I think I’ll find that the weak moments get fewer because in my weakness, His power is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9). I can face the day knowing that I’m an overcomer and not defeated by the things of the world.

I’ll be able to stare hard at the waves and watch them shrink as I step into the boat with my Savior. All glory to Him.

Bragging Rights

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Family Pics '14 0150 (edit)

Have you ever taken one of those life events stress inventories? I’m pretty sure we win the biggest score this year (I’m all about winning, so don’t rain on my parade if your score is bigger!). Moving to a new state, starting a new job, starting seminary, building a new home, and having a baby are all BIG life events, and we get to check each one of them in one year’s time. It’s enough to make me want to lock myself in a closet for a week and just cry. I can’t tell you that it’s all been bad. Some of it is very exciting while other parts are frustrating and cause anxiety. But then you add to all of those BIG life events the “adventure” of learning a new location (my goodness, you people don’t know BIG until you’ve been to Houston…I’m saying….), finding a new church, and making new friends (did I mention I’m an introvert??). Someone get me a paper bag so I don’t hyperventilate.

For some reason, I’m doing fine! (well today…ask me tomorrow, I may not be so fine.) The insanity doesn’t seem so insane. That Reason is my God. Oh how I love Him.

I wrote about the blessing of the thorn as something that keeps us humble. I’d like to boast in my God for this post. He is the One who gives us good things. One of those things is faith or trust. I have seen Him turn my anxious heart into one of bold trust in Him. Here’s a simple, very real example. I am due to give birth to our third boy April 17 (can you imagine three little Farmer boys? seriously…I’m going to be one fit momma). We close on our house April 9. Now unless the medical world has come up with some medicine that miraculously allows you to have your baby whenever you want, I’m pretty sure I can’t depend on this little one to show up on his due date. I can’t even depend on him to hold off until after we get moved in. For all I know, he could come tonight. This REALLY bothered me for, oh, the last 8 months. I just want to have it my way. I would tell people at church, “Please pray that the baby comes on or after his due date!” But then I went to the doctor for my 36 week visit, and she tells me I’m already dilated and thinning out some. *GASP* Let the panic attack begin. I freaked out for a few days (packed my bags since I was so sure he’d come at any moment), but then I got wise and started to ask my friends to pray for me. Keep in mind every cell in my body and thought in my mind was set to anxiety overload. There was nothing I could do to change this, or the events that will soon take place. I was so pathetic, and yet God breathed peace into my heart and mind, allowing me to stop and rest in Him. He spoke truth over me, and I can have full assurance that whatever happens is going to be the best (and though the best may be hard, it’s still the best).

I can boast that my God is able. There’s nothing too big for Him to handle. There’s nothing too small for Him to care deeply about concerning me. He is able. (Mark 10:27; 1 Peter 5:7)

I can boast that my God is strong. In my weak moments when I lose perspective and begin to worry over the things in this life, He gives me sufficient grace so that when I’m weak, He is strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9; Deuteronomy 11:2; Psalm 68:35)

I can boast that my God is in control. Though everything seems absolutely chaotic, and nothing feels at peace or settled, He is unshaken. His plans are perfect and nothing can disrupt them. (Psalm 33:10-11; Job 42:2; Psalm 93:1)

When I’ve “got it together”, it’s only because He’s holding me together. It has nothing to do with how spiritual I am or how good I am at handling stress. I’m a wreck without Him (just ask my children when I’ve started out in a bad mood for the morning…oh Jesus, help me…).

I just love how my God handles me when I’m a wreck. He’s no drill sergeant. He’s not interested in giving a guilt trip. He doesn’t even act disappointed that I can’t get myself together.

He’s so kind. And truthful. And compassionate.

So when I’m in negative mode, I don’t have to be down on myself and feel guilty that I’m just not trusting Him. What I should do is recognize my weakness (admission), go to Him (confession, utter dependence), ask others to pray for me (humility, intercession), and let Him do His work in my heart (sanctification).

He delights to give His children good things and to see us walk in truth (Luke 11:13; Psalm 145:9, 15-16). When we give thanks for what we receive from Him and when we know the truth of who we are, we bring glory to His name. When we have been overwhelmed by His goodness, may we be quick to turn to Him with hearts full of gratitude  and shout with joy about what He’s done.

 

Feeling Like a Foreigner

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hebrews11_13

I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to this. This place still does not feel like home. After only four months, I suppose this may be normal, but there’s something that keeps me very much unsettled.

Maybe it’s that I’m not in my own home yet. (Could the end of March take any longer??)

Maybe it’s that we’re still not completely settled into a church yet.

Maybe it’s that we haven’t gotten the chance to make friends yet.

Or maybe I’m just getting a glimpse of what we should feel like as God’s children living in a place that’s really not meant to be our home.

There’s definitely something about moving that can give you a perspective for eternity. In the deepest parts of my heart, I really don’t want to ever be comfortable in this place as long as I live. If I start feeling too comfortable, perhaps something is wrong. Maybe not wrong…but not completely right.

I’m thinking that my desire to be with Christ in heaven should make this earthly home pale in comparison. {Lord, may I never be too easily satisfied with what this world offers…} We just read from Philippians this Sunday about Paul being conflicted in himself about being with Christ or remaining on the earth with those whom he’s been able to teach (1:12-30). He said in v. 21,

For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.

It’s so short yet so profound. Now there’s a man who knows where his citizenship lies. Later in Philippians 3:20 Paul talks about our citizenship being in heaven and “from it we await our Savior…”.

I’m telling you, there’s nothing like being in an unfamiliar place, surrounded by unfamiliar people that makes you really long to be with what’s familiar – Jesus.

Even the writer of Hebrews addresses this in the famous “hall of faith” chapter (11:13-16):

13 These [Old Testament believers] all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.”

Sigh.

I’m so beyond grateful that He is my home.

When I’m with Him, I’m home. No more feeling like a foreigner. No more feeling unsettled in the unfamiliar. His Word gives me hope as I look forward to that home He’s preparing for me. In the meantime, I can look to Him and sink into those familiar arms, trusting that anything from Him is better than anything here.

God is good…so what? [Part 2]

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C.S.-Lewis

Many of you may be wondering, how is this girl going to tell me everything I should know about God in just 3 posts? Well, I’m not. But I do want you to take away one important characteristic about God that is crucial for our perspective on life. If you learn one thing today about God, it is that He is GOOD.

His goodness translates into kindness, love, moral uprightness. It really crosses over into a lot of areas. A definition of God’s goodness in my Systematic Theology book says it is,

“that perfection of God which prompts Him to deal bountifully and kindly with all His creatures. It is the affection which the Creator feels towards His…creatures.” (Berkhof, p. 70)

That one word. Did you catch it? Affection. His goodness is His affection that He feels toward us, and as you well know it produces a response in the Creator to act in kind ways toward us, not because we deserve it but because He WANTS to do it. He loves us for His own sake. How good can you get?

Can you see how your perspective may differ from the person who thinks God is malevolent and vindictive, desiring to punish and do harm to the people He’s created? You wouldn’t trust such a god. You would actually think that god had nothing good in mind for you or anyone else. So when a trial came your way, you might see God as punishing you because He certainly wouldn’t be looking at you in your trial with affection and concern, eager to work good in your situation or through your trial. A bad God, who can trust?

But a good God? Well we can trust Him! If you know deep in your heart that His intentions toward you are good because there is nothing else He can be but good, how could you question His heart when a trial came your way? Out of His goodness comes grace (unmerited goodness or love to those under condemnation) and mercy (the goodness or love of God shown to those who are in misery or distress, ready to relieve their distress).

This is not to say that you don’t have moments of doubt or wonder what God is doing. But it is in those moments that you go back to what you know to be true of Him. You KNOW that He is GOOD. You KNOW that His intentions toward you are GOOD. And you know that He cannot act in a way that is contrary to His nature. So you’re left with the choice…do you believe what His word says about Him?

[Stay tuned for Part 3]