In His Keeping-For His Time

A couple of months ago I wrote concerning what to do when the jolt of the unexpected shows up unannounced. It can be a wild ride.  I wrote from a deep place in my heart because one of those out the blue situations had just shown up at my doorstep. I prepared myself to deal with it, focus on God to get through it, and then get through it.

However, I hit a snag. I expected something to fall into place on my time table, which surely was God’s time table. I discovered, once again, it isn’t. Again, I am struck with this truth: Waiting on God continues to be one of the hardest things I face in life. What have I felt? Irritated, frustrated, confused, fatigued. I find I’m not alone in this.

As I accept the reality of the situation I have a choice to make. I can stay in a place of desolation or entrust all to God knowing He loves me and He really will work it all out for good. I choose to let go of what I’m holding onto so He can do His deeper transforming work in me. That’s what I desire the most anyway.

I want to become more and more shaped into becoming the person God desires me to be, whole and complete.  The way to get there sometimes includes having to go through the turbulent waters in the trial of waiting.

At least forty years ago my husband and I were in a difficult place of ministry. My heart had been deeply wounded by some people I thought were friends. I remember thinking, “How long, Lord? How long will this heartache last?”

I happened to be visiting some relatives and came upon a book in their home written by Andrew Murray. If ever I’ve known that God was there to comfort me, it was then. These are the words that jumped off one of the pages of that book. These words renewed my hope for being strengthened, healed, and brought through.

First, He brought me here, it is by His will I am in this strait place: in that fact I will rest.

Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace to behave as His child.

Then, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.

Last, in His good time He can bring me out again—how and when He knows.

Let me say I am here

By God’s appointment

In His keeping

Under His training

For His time.

Today I dug out my old Bible where I wrote those words many years ago. I needed them again. Maybe they’re for you, too.

What place of waiting does God have you in, today? How can you apply the words of Andrew Murray to your life, today?

We know that those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31). Oh, Father, help us to trust You and wait well.

Surviving Turbulent Waters

I fell in love with the white sand beaches of Florida 40 years ago when my husband and I made a trip to Panama City Beach. We discovered other beautiful beaches too, but there’s nothing quite like these white sandy beaches that border the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Since discovering the awesomeness and wonder that come with the beauty of those vast bodies of water that give us sandy beaches, we’ve done an annual beach trip. We are now reveling once again in one of our happy places.

I’m an early morning riser who delights in sitting on the balcony which overlooks these gorgeous waters. There’s always so much to wonder about. This morning it was fun watching the orange floats, which mark the way for the jet skis to travel within, bobbing up and down. Those floats keep the jet-ski driver aware of where he can safely go.

 God has a good path for us to go on, too. It is a wise person who stays within the parameters God lays out. If we leave that space of safety, we will find ourselves in danger of drowning. As I watched the bobbing up and down of the buoys I imagined myself being one of them. What keeps the floats from going under? They are attached to a cable which is attached to a large and heavy object. As long as the float stays anchored to the cable and the cable to the anchor, all is well. However, there are two things that can go wrong: The cable can get weak and a strong enough hurricane that can dislodge the anchor.

Difficult unexpected things will happen in life. The storm clouds do come in. I visualize our faith being like that cable that connects the buoy to the anchor. It has to be periodically checked to make sure it’s strong enough to hold in turbulent waters. It’s like that in our spiritual lives: our connection with God is our faith in Him.  Our faith needs to grow in order for us to get stronger. This strength isn’t only for our benefit but it’s also for others in our life who need encouragement, help, and hope in their journey with God.

Is there a way to keep ourselves afloat, living above our circumstances when the unexpected storm comes? Absolutely! We stay attached to the Anchor! Our anchor is an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, unlimited-strength God. If we believe and cling to these absolute truths about God, we will not be defeated and lost at sea when turbulence shows up.

There have been times in my life when I felt like I was sinking but God held me up. Those difficult times have helped my faith muscle increase in size. What can we do to help ourselves stay strong when the storm hits instead of cowering down in fear, depression, hopelessness, and helplessness?

  • Daily meditate on the character of God. How do we know His character? We learn of it through the scriptures.
  • Be aware of what our thoughts and feelings are when hard times come. Is there fear? Is there sadness? Is there hopelessness? What attribute of God do I need to cling to during those moments? 
  • We can talk to God about what we feel. He knows all about it anyway. Conversation with God always strengthens us.
  • Seek God’s face through reading promises found in scripture. Memorize specific scriptures that you know are filled with words of strength, encouragement, and hope from our Abba Father who calls us his beloved sons and daughters.
  • Recall the ways God showed up in the past, and with faith expect Him to do it again. He will come through!

A few weeks ago one of those unexpected and shocking turns came. It jolted me. Even though I sensed God’s hand and direction in all, I found myself moving to dread, fear, and distress. But then I remembered a promise I put to memory years ago from Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

As I cling to this promise, the dread, the fear, and the anxiousness cling less to me. His strength is securing me.

How about you? What turbulent waters roar around you? What are you doing that keeps you from going under or swept away? What keeps you safe, secure, and serene?

It All Adds Up, or Does It?

 

 

 

I taught elementary school and remember the words used to teach subtraction. We use words like take away, decrease, reduce, and fewer than to teach the concept.  Before we learned subtraction, we learned addition. Addition was easier to teach than subtraction. We all like the idea of having more than having less.

There’s another kind of subtraction that happens which has nothing to do with math. It has to do with life. We have experienced reductions of all kinds since the tentacles of the COVID 19 began wrapping its ugly and vicious arms around us in different ways, some large, some small. Our lives have been altered.

How do we lessen the tight grip those tentacles have around us?  We can loosen that grip through addition. We make sure we add right things into our lives. The plan is different for each of us depending upon where we live and our season of life. Even our personality and spirituality play a part in the “adding” back.  I was delighted when told that my Yoga class had opened back up! Sure there was a bit of fear, but those fears were alleviated after I observed and experienced the precautions taken to keep us safe during this workout.

I had four summer trips planned. That was reduced to one. That “one” was the just right one. Blessings abounded!

As Jesus followers we are always in a place where we can make additions that make us more whole, complete, and joyfully satisfied. “Make every effort to add to your faith virtue and to virtue knowledge.” 2 Peter 1:5. Adding virtue (moral excellence and goodness) leads to virtuous living which shows itself to be authentic as we bless others through gracious acts of goodness.  Adding this kind of knowledge refers to a knowing that brings wisdom and discernment.  If we don’t see faith, virtue, and knowledge increasing then we are not maturing. We are underdeveloped. Our quality of life will be diminished.

Where do you see yourself today? How are you adding into your life the right things that will prosper your own well-being as well as the lives of others? What reductions have actually been good? Which ones have caused harm or great distress

A Step Toward Overcoming Depression

 

 

Mother never actually admitted it, but I knew. I could see it in her eyes, hear it in her voice, and sensed it in my soul. Then, I saw the magazine. She had earmarked articles on depression in her Good House Keeping magazines. You’d never know. She was beautiful, sweet, kind, friendly, and always neat as a pin but she battled times of soul darkness. No one told her how to get through those despondent times. But, God made her, knew what could help, and led her to a place of discovering one of the most beneficial things she could do to elevate her mood.

The discovery my mother made was exercise. Her favorite mode: walking. I truly believe she loved it! Mother didn’t have fancy in home equipment nor a nice gym to frequent. She certainly had no knowledge of the natural endorphins that, when balanced and elevated, could lift her spirits. But, she did have the outdoors, some walking shoes, and a house. She had all she needed. At that time in her life her goal was two-fold: to look good in her cute clothes and keep enjoying sweets.  So she was killing two birds with one stone. She was successful. There came a time in her life, however, when she couldn’t walk outside or ride her indoor bicycle because of physical limitations. What did she do? She walked an hour inside her house. Through watching her, I became a believer in the power of exercise. God uses it over and over in my own life to bring me out of pits of despair.

Our bodies really do need physical activity every day in order for us to function in healthier ways physically, emotionally, and mentally.

If ever there was a time that some kind of daily physical activity is necessary it is now. Most of us would have to admit we are threatened with pangs of sadness, depression, gloom, fear, loneliness and anxiety. It is normal to experience these feelings during something as severe as this worldwide pandemic. However, we don’t want these emotions to overwhelm us. God wants each of us who today are healthy to care for our bodies and souls.

Our bodies and souls are in the need of special care. Since we have extra time on our hands, we can show love and respect to ourselves by taking time to do whatever kind of exercise that daily will get us moving. My husband and I have increased our walking time each day to an hour. It has been a stress buster and a mood lifter.

For those who don’t already have an exercise routine in place, it’s never too late to begin. Just as an experiment, I walked 6 minutes in the house last week and was amazed at the number of steps I was able to get in in that amount of time as I weaved in and out of rooms. It was early in the morning. I was surprised at how much more awake and refreshed I felt at the beginning of the day. I also used that time to speak the names of the people in prayer who I personally know who are fighting for their lives because of COVID-19.

Many people say that their best times of prayer and worship are done on walks. I agree. Somehow a muddled mind can find clarity. Our whole self can find calm. Toxins can be released. Pain can be dulled. Anger can subside. Tears can flow. Thanksgiving starts to spill out. The benefits are endless!

How about you, my friend? Are you taking care of the amazing body God gave you through creating times each day for physical exercise? I hope so. It’s a good daily practice that will help us all better manage the place we’re in where we have no control. It’s never too late to get moving. What will you do today to renew your soul through exercise?

Quieting Our Souls

We’re all walking out our own story in this outbreak of COVID-19. The most important question for me today: How am I walking it out? Maybe you want to ask that question with me.

Am I walking it out knowing Jesus is with me? Am I concerned for others, even those outside of my immediate family? Am I ready to share? Would I let go of something I’d like to hold onto if someone is in need? Am I praying more than I’ve ever prayed? Is my soul worshipping God as I pray? Do my prayers include those who were already fighting intense battles of all kinds before this virus crashed in like a tidal wave? I hope so. In a way, I think those dear ones may need our prayers more than anyone else. They need to know they are not forgotten.

Many years ago I read a Christian classic, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. This classic has shown up on a required reading book list for The Soul Care Institute that my husband and I are a part of. It is good to be reading again about the life of Bro. Lawrence. I am reminded, through his life that my whole day can actually be God centered. It’s really possible for any person to practice the presence of God all during the day.

This pandemic has quieted our immediate surroundings – at least there’s less traffic and noise. But anxiety, stress and even panic have not quieted, and this is impacting our souls. Our souls long to be quieted. Our souls long for rest, hope and peace.

What an opportunity to give our souls what they long for. God’s presence in us and around us aids us in this soul posture. What an opportunity for me and for you to frequently set apart daily times to focus our gaze upon Jesus and pray like we’ve never prayed before.

We have the time.

Even Brother Lawrence, in his earliest days of his love journey of walking with Jesus, struggled with “wandering wild fancies that would invade his mind and take violent passion of the place of God.” During those times he kept calm, proceeded to rid his mind of the distractions, and returned to his commune with God.

Be blessed, dear ones, and stay close to the heart of Jesus. “Seek the Lord and His strength. Seek His presence continually.” Psalm 105:4