Tag Archives: peace

Waiting Well

Tuesday morning, my prayer ended with me crying out, “God, what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to start praying for a different result? Am I supposed to ask You to give me a new plea, a new prayer, a new passion? Or am I just supposed to continue to wait?” His answer was a deafening silence.  

Now God does not answer me audibly, so silence is not new. When I “hear” from God, it is a new thought, a new impression upon my spirit, a new sense of direction; accompanied by peace. Those responses are how I have always known that God “answered,” my questions. So when “none of the above,” happened after my heartfelt, hollered, hopeless, “What am I supposed to do…?” inquiry, it hit me like a ton of bricks: If I am not sensing the Holy Spirit’s prodding to pray in a new direction, then I am to keep praying and continue waiting. 

I know how to keep praying; I have done that many a time. I have frequently assumed God thought I was similar to the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15. Jesus’ disciples urged Him to send her away when they became annoyed with her repeated requests.  But I am always encouraged that the story ends with Jesus blessing her because of her faith. 

I wrestle with the waiting. Although I am pretty good at impatient, irritated waiting, waiting well with an uncomplaining, unfazed, unwavering spirit is not a talent of mine.

Waiting well takes a conscious and intentional effort. Psalm 31:24 (ESV) says, “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!” Maybe part of the courage He expects from me is in returning to Him over and over with the same prayer and believing that He is not getting sick of me or my request. Maybe the other part of that courage is believing that His silence is not avoidance and boldly believing He is working in unseen ways. 

On Tuesday, I chose to wait well. By Wednesday, I experienced some moments of not waiting well. And on Thursday, I felt led to start my day in front of my computer writing about what I had been contemplating. 

I asked God to speak to me about what waiting well truly means. At that very moment, my eyes directly went to a “Verse of the Day” email in my inbox. I opened it, and it “happened” to be Psalm 27:14: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

My first thought was, “Wow, God, thank You for an unbelievable direct answer to my prayer!” My second thought was, “Wow, God, if only You could answer this other prayer so quickly and directly.” My third thought was, “It is up to You, isn’t it? I’ll continue working on this blog post and learning how to wait well, and You continue being God. Thank You for showing me that verse when I needed it and teaching me how to wait well.” Between you and me, I spent entirely too much time dwelling on my second thought.

Apparently, God still has some work to do in my heart. Thankfully, doing great works in our hearts is one of His areas of expertise. 

As I continue to wait for God’s response, God will continue to work in my heart, and I will continue to have a choice on how to wait. Waiting well may take more discipline than waiting with impatience, but it will always afford more opportunities to watch our powerful God work in ways that only He can. 

**This was my November contribution for devotableapp.com – Great place for encouragement  and hope!

I Thought I Heard God’s Voice

I heard God’s voice. Loud and clear.

I had been praying unceasingly for a breakthrough in a difficult situation, yet I had such an unsettled feeling about how it was going to turn out – until that day. God replaced my tension with His peace. I heard God voice the reply I had been waiting for: “I’ll come through.”

As time moved on, I continued to tell myself, “There is still time for God to come through; I know I heard Him correctly.” However, time kept moving, and then time ran out. The breakthrough I had fervently prayed for did not come to pass.

Then doubt crept in. Did God really say what I thought He said? Was it my imagination? Was it wishful thinking? Perhaps Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known,” was meant for someone else. Maybe it was meant for EVERYBODY else. Except for me.

Then the questions started. “God, did You forget what You told me? Did You forget about this situation? Did You forget about me?”

I got frustrated that God did not do what I expected Him to do. I considered giving Him the silent treatment, at least temporarily. Then I had guilt about being frustrated with God and also about avoiding Him.  

While I tried to sort through those confused feelings, I came to the realization that I DID hear God’s promise correctly. However, I filled in the blanks as to how He was going to accomplish it. When He did not do it the way I supposed He was going to, I doubted He was going to do it at all. 

I had happily accepted His assurance, but I had assumed His approach.

If we compiled a list of adjectives to describe God, the words predictable and conventional would not make the cut. Our unpredictable God frequently employs unconventional methods. 

When God grants us His unmatched “calm down, I will come through,” peace in relation to a promise He has made, our jobs are to 1. accept the peace, and 2. allow Him to choose how and when He will bring the promise to completion. What a blessing to know He is a promise-keeping God who always comes through.

Prayer: Lord, help me hear Your voice and trust Your ways. Help me feel Your Presence as I wait in confidence and expectation. Amen.

My sheep recognize my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 (TLB)

Does God Care About Our Happiness?

Friends, this is my July contribution to devotableapp.com, a website I write for monthly. Check them out on their website, and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter for daily inspiration!

A quick internet search on, “Does God care about our happiness?” displays titles of blog posts and articles that provide positive, negative, and “somewhere-in-the-middle” answers to that question. Some declare that God definitely wants us to be happy. Some assert that our happiness is likely not on His list of top concerns. And others make the case that He absolutely does not care if we are happy or not. 

Personally, I am going with the “somewhere-in-the-middle” answer.

Am I saying God does not want us to be happy? Not exactly. Don’t get me wrong. God cares deeply about each one of us, and Zephaniah 3:17 says He takes great delight in us. I certainly do not think He wants us to be unhappy!

I AM saying that in general, we have become a society that places our happiness (which is a feeling that wavers and waffles) as way too high of a priority. Statements such as, “I’m just not happy anymore,” “You no longer make me happy,” and “I just can’t remember what it feels like to be happy,” often precede unhealthy, self-centered thought patterns which can result in selfish, destructive decisions. It is not our spouse’s, kid’s, co-worker’s, friend’s OR God’s responsibility to make us happy or to keep us in a happy state. That is an unfair amount of misplaced pressure to put on anybody! 

I AM saying that joy and happiness are not the exact same thing. It makes me happy when I wake up to sunshine, breakfast in bed, or an encouraging message. My happiness may be affected if I wake up to dark skies, complaints, or a sharply-worded email, but I have a choice about whether or not I remain joyful in the midst of it all. Our temporary circumstances frequently seem to dictate the level of our happiness, but trust in an everlasting, eternal, and enduring God brings genuine joy.

I AM saying, “Friends, let’s be aware of what we are truly seeking!” If we seek happiness, our fickle feelings will prevent us from reaching the point we are striving toward. But knowing God is in control, and that He is willing to walk with us through anything we face brings a joy we can depend on to be an anchor in our life throughout all situations, even disappointment or disaster.

Enough about what I am saying…what does the Bible say? In God’s Word, it tells us that being in His presence and remaining in His love produces joy. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” And John 15:10-11 says, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

If we change our internet search and our focus to instead wondering what God truly does care about, we will find His concern is not whether or not we feel happy, but rather that we are seeking joy in His presence. That is definitely a joy worth searching for. 

Home Sweet Home

Years ago, whether our family was arriving home after a week-long vacation or a day-long excursion, our kids could accurately predict that the words out of my mouth as our car pulled into the garage would be, “Home sweet home.”

I have always loved going away. However, when it was time for a family trip to end, an undeniable joy would grow inside of me as our car neared our house. As much as I love family time in exciting locations, and even though these trips provide treasured memories to reminisce about, the truth is, I love being home even more. I feel comfortable, content, and cozy. I feel “at home.”

My husband and I have four children and two daughters-in-law, and all six of them are in varying stages of their college or career pursuits, which means “coming home” has an entirely new meaning these days. 

When our adult children come to our house to stay for a day or two, they open the refrigerator for refreshments and are aware that they are more than welcome to use any household items. It feels natural to them as they “make themselves at home,” and I would not have it any other way.

John 14:23 says, “Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”  Ephesians 2:22 says, “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Clearly, God’s Word reminds us that we are to be a dwelling place for our Lord – that He is eager to make His home in us with His Spirit. 

What an unbelievable blessing that Jesus chooses to abide in us and take up residence in our lives. Regardless of the fact that we are unworthy of such a gift, He sincerely desires that our hearts will be His home. Friends, our Lord longs to “make Himself at home,” in us!

What are some ways that our hearts can be a more welcoming place for Him? Are we striving to live our lives in such a way that it will feel natural for Him to dwell in our hearts, as He opens our eyes to His plan for us and uses us for His glory?

As we boldly love Him and bravely live for Him, let our prayer be that we will be a “home sweet home” for Jesus Christ! 

Purposely Falling On Your Face

IMG_EB8A45BD7AEF-1When you are in the midst of a trial, do you ever purposely fall on your face?

Although it may sound crazy, I recommend it. Allow me to explain.

Sometimes breathing a quick prayer of, “Lord, please help,” is all we seemingly have time for when we are facing problems. As we go about our everyday lives, short, to-the-point prayers are occasionally all we can manage. He certainly hears those kinds of prayers.

But how about making time for frequent fall-on-our-face type of prayers?

Would you agree that we are living in a world that has forgotten the awe with which God deserves to be revered? Making time to come into God’s presence in a literal or figurative flat-on-our-face, prostrate posture reminds us how amazing He is and who we are in comparison to Him. It reminds us that our prayer is being heard by the One who is not only in control of the situation, but also cares about the situation and the people involved to a degree that nobody else is capable of.

When we pour out our heart’s cry and also take the time to listen to what God is telling us, it is an exquisite exchange, and eventually we will come to the point of being enfolded in His perfect peace.

That peace is described in different Bible versions as “surpassing, transcending, and exceeding” all understanding. Stop and think about that for a moment. It is an overwhelming blessing that assures us that God is in complete control of the very situation that is causing us to feel powerless.

That peace does not necessarily mean that He is going to answer our prayer exactly as we hope. It can sometimes be a peace that prepares us for the possibility of Him answering it in a different manner than we prayed for. A peace that says, “I’ve got this, Child. I’ve got you, Child.”

I will not forget the times God has granted me that gift of peace. Two times stick out above numerous others. Once, before the answer to my prayer came, I had seemingly cried every tear I was capable of crying as I prayed in desperation. And then suddenly in an extremely memorable moment, which can only be explained by the Holy Spirit completely doing an overhaul of my emotional and mental state, I came to a point of indescribable peace that even if the worst possible outcome occurred, He was going to keep His promise to never forsake me. I had absolute assurance that He was going to walk me through it. When all was said and done, He answered my prayer in the way I hoped, but He also taught me that there is no circumstance that I will ever have to face without His loving arms embracing me. Regarding the other situation…you guessed it, the worst-case scenario did happen. What I was praying against, because I did not know how I would ever, ever handle it or ever, ever get through it – it happened. And here I am on the other side of it, stronger in faith and hopefully character as well. God helped me handle it and get through it, just like He said He would. Were there moments of pain and sadness? Definitely. Was God carrying me through it with His tremendous peace? Definitely. He is a promise-keeper.

My hope is that when you face your next trial, you will fall down on your face, pray until you reach the point of His powerful, perfect peace, and then rise up prepared and primed for any possibility, knowing you will withstand it, because God will stand with you.

Lord, thank You for Your matchless peace.

 

Reminders

Sunday morning, I woke up to some dark clouds in the sky, and it was a perfect visual to match my emotional state. Discouragement and doubt clouded my mind right off the bat.
The night before had been filled with love and laughter as my immediate family gathered in our home. Times of togetherness are becoming fewer and farther in-between now that our kids are moving out of the house and on with their independent lives. That evening I went to bed with a full and thankful heart after my husband served up a deliciously grilled supper and we all visited for several hours.
However, the next morning it was as if I had no recollection of the night before. Nagging challenges advanced to the forefront of my mind even before I fully opened my eyes. I dreaded going to church where I was scheduled to be the song leader, because leading a congregation in upbeat songs of praise while feeling down seemed to be a difficult task.
Most mornings, (not all, and I am working on that) I make the effort to have Scripture be the first words I read, before emails or social media. On Sunday, when I opened the Bible app on my iPhone, the first verse to appear was Ephesians 3:20:  “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.”
I especially appreciate the way the Message version says, “God can do anything, you know…” Why yes, I DO know that. Sometimes, I forget or act as if I don’t know He is bigger than the difficult situations I am facing. Yes, I DO know He can do anything. I just happen to be in need of reminders sometimes.
Was it a coincidence that those words appeared on my phone screen that morning ? Nope. I am convinced that God does not deal in coincidences!  I believe He designed that moment so that those two sentences from His Word would be the first thing I read that morning. He knows exactly what we need, and He knows precisely when we need it.
God sees us when we are hurting. In the midst of our hurt, I believe He wants US to see HIM instead of our hurt. He wants our focus to be the God who “can do anything.” He wants us to focus on the Problem-Solver instead of the problems. To focus on the Burden-Carrier instead of the burdens.
I did lead music in church on Sunday, and I told the congregation about the beginning of my day. A few people thanked me for the reminder that our God knows what we need when we need it. Aren’t you glad we serve a God who orchestrates our days so that those divine reminders come at just the right time? Me too.FullSizeRender

Prayer, Perspective, and Peace

On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being “I know You’ve got this, Lord” and 10 being “Thanks, God, I know You are super-capable, but this situation is just not going to get better unless I fret and stew over it…,” I give myself a 5.5. Some days I can go through a twenty-four-hour period without a worry in the world. Some days there are burdens that jump into my thoughts, but they do not take up residence. And still some days I am a ridiculous off-the-charts worry-wart. Yep, I’m going to say I average out to a semi-solid 5.5.

The Bible says, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you,” in 1 Peter 5:7. Another version says to throw all your worry on Him.  No matter what version you are reading, the message is the same. God cares about you and your burden and desires to carry it for you. Of course, God knows our needs already, but communication with Him is vital in our relationship with Him.

I look forward to prayer time when I can get to a quiet place, worship God for who He is, thank Him for what He’s done, listen to His wisdom, and then lay my burdens before Him.

Obviously, finding quiet spaces with no distractions is not always feasible. Praying to a God who can hear our prayers through the chaotic symphony of family life is such a taken-for-granted gift. Whether the quality time happens in a serene location (My quiet places are my closet or on our rural gravel road as I run) or in the midst of rush-hour traffic, there is a delight in knowing that we serve a God who is not only accessible 24/7, but eagerly awaiting our decision to spend time with Him and bring Him our needs!

We should guard against allowing busyness, laziness, or disinterestedness to get in the way of communication with Him.

Instead of fretting and worrying about what our family and friends are facing, let’s actually lift them to God in prayer. We should never let a flippant comment of, “You are in my prayers,” be a substitute for actually praying for someone.

Whether my worry is about myself or someone else, I want to always remember that going to God with an explanation of why taking this problem away would be best for everyone really is not praying! I have been learning, slowly but surely, that while there is nothing wrong with praying for a specific outcome, my job is not to convince God of why that specific outcome should happen. Praying is not a closing argument monologue in which we are trying to convince Him that our way is the solution to the problem. I am beginning to realize His Word is the final one, and while I may need an extra dose of His comfort and assurance in handling a less-than-desired outcome, I am getting better at trusting that He knows what is best.

Friends, when I spend time with God in prayer, He grants me a sense of perspective and peace every time, 100% of the time. Seriously. Every single. time. It simply cannot be a coincidence that I feel recharged, refreshed, and reassured after connecting with God. In voicing my worries and requests to God, He often grants an insight that I had not thought of before. It isn’t because the problem is solved instantly and it isn’t because He says, “Yes, I’ll answer the way you want me to.” It is because He reminds me that even if His answer is “No” or “Wait,” He will be with me through it all.

Prayer changes our perspective and gives us peace. Let’s make prayer a vital part of our lives. God is enthusiastically waiting.

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18

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