No Matter How Things Turn Out

“Faith is not about everything turning out okay, faith is about being okay no matter how things turn out.” -Author Unknown

It is interesting to me that this is the ‘Fixed on Faith’ post that comes up this week. I originally wrote a quick post about this months ago when I had a Facebook page and am now just getting around to blogging about it. Just recently, my husband was telling me how challenging it is to have faith that God does knows all, sees all, and has His own timing. And in that timing of His, He wants us to trust. “It is one thing to trust God with my salvation, my health, and my life,” he shared, “but to get down to the nitty gritty details about scheduling of doctor appointments, do I trust Him that much?” In the last year, he has been tested for skin cancer, and thankfully, any sign of cancer was removed in the early stage. Now he is battling thyroid problems. There have been signs for nearly two years, but it has been more apparent in recent months that something is definitely ‘off’. John is scheduled to see an endocrinologist next week and we have been waiting for the days to go by for this appointment. What could be wrong? How serious is this? What is the next step? If he had his way, the appointment would have been scheduled weeks ago before Christmas break was over. He is going back to college and a big question was if he should even start classes this semester. It could be a simple ‘fix’, sure. But since the word ‘cancer’ has been thrown out there, even a small chance, it is still a concern.  And trying to interpret blood work results can make your head spin! But the God who ensured that the doctors would see this through an MRI that was actually for shoulder pain, and the God who made it possible for him to go back to school, can He not oversee an appointment scheduled at the right time? We both agreed that, yes, He knew about the timing. We even tried to get an appointment sooner, but no openings were available. With His timing, His intention is always for us to trust Him. And we are going to be okay no matter what.

It seems as if life is full of detours. I had ideas of how I thought my life was going to turn out, and then reality hit and things changed. We have changed. Circumstances (health, of course, included) changed. But through everything, we can look back and say, “You know what? We are still okay.” And why can we be okay no matter how things turns out? Because..

“…we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

In waiting with John for answers and praying for a time when he feels ‘decent’ (his words) again with health and energy, I have to take this personally as well -not just that we will be ok, but that I will be. Faith in Jesus Christ is personal after all.

Through Christ I can see clearly, live confidently, and be fixed on faith that not only we as a couple will be more than okay but that,

  • I am more than able to overcome new territory/changes in direction.
  • I am more than able to gain or acquire courageous faith, more strength.
  • I am more than able to master obstacles and oppositions that come my way.

Questions, doubts, illness, trials, ‘nor things present, nor things to come’ – none of these are the victors. Nothing has more power than the bond we have in Christ through His love. When we are fixed (established, unmovable, settled) in our victorious faith, it is much easier to  move forward with grace no matter how things turn out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing Through The Fog

“Faith is like a radar that sees through the fog–the reality of things at a distance that the human eye cannot see.” -Corrie ten Boom

Radar: definition-  “a device for determining the presence and location of an object by measuring the time for the echo of a radio wave to return from it and the direction from which it return;  a means or sense of awareness or perception”: synonyms- direction finding, tracking system, beacon, lighthouse, watchtower

Faith is the way to determine the presence and location of God no matter what the ‘weather’. It is a means or sense of awareness that He is always there, He always cares, and He always has a plan. When my confidence in His plan is being tested, where is my focus? When my hope that He will deliver, heal, and salvage wavers, do I walk away or do I trust in the ‘evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1b)?

  • True faith does not worry or fret.
  • True faith does not become preoccupied with problems in life.
  • True faith sees any opportunity to witness the power and grace of God at work.
  • True faith is not in a hurry and will wait on God.
  • True faith keeps vision on the Source of life as He leads down “paths of righteousness for His name’s sake”(Psalm 23:3).

Let God Show Up

Sometimes my faith falters, not in my salvation, but that God will provide, heal, salvage. In the next few years, our goal is to get out of debt, have a sizeable savings account, an emergency fund, cash to pay for things, and be able to give more to missions and to other causes we would love to help. We are dreaming big here. First things first, though, get out of debt. And with our truck in the shop needing repairs, it seems we just took two steps back! Frustrating. But I need to remember that God doesn’t work in ways we understand.  He works when we become available to let Him provide without expectations of how it is to be done. I need to pray, confide, trust, and be willing to let God show up in unexpected ways.

Proverbs 4:25, 26 “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.”

 

 

Dayspring from on High

We celebrated today the ‘dayspring from on high’, the dawn of our faith, the horizon where the Son of God visits us every single day. The magnitude of that takes my breath away. Every day, Christ shows up and is as dependable as the sunrise. He shows up to give light and to guide our path. May we never forget the tender mercies of our Lord and Savior and always look to the Light. Merry Christmas.

Luke 1: 76-78, “And thou, child [John the Baptist], shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring [Christ] from on high hath visited us.”

Satisfied

“Happiness is not a goal…it’s a by-product of a life well lived.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

Last week, I mentioned my thought process as of late concerning resolutions. With the end of the year approaching, I wondered if I had accomplished nearly everything I had set out to do back in January. That can be frustrating because life gets busy, family members get sick, company comes and disrupts the ‘flow’ of every day living. There are resolutions that can be kept no matter what is going on. The first resolution was mentioned last week. God has a timing for everything and I will trust Him, not rush Him.

Resolution With God #1: I will not hurry through my journey.

This week’s resolution was about contentment, being satisfied with God’s provisions of grace daily, and not letting the restlessness and hurry of the world (even other Christians! yikes) manipulate me into thinking that what I have or who I am isn’t enough. Every thing God gives me is enough for the task at hand that He has for me. I want to look forward to each day with peace and ease knowing that God is aware of my needs and my need for Him. The Bible verse that caught my eye in the beginning of the week was 2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”
‘All sufficiency in all things’…I love that.

Resolution With God #2: I will live satisfied with God’s provisions in the here and now.

In my ‘meditations’ and studies on this topic, I began thinking that maybe living life well is a key to contentment. A phrase in Philippians 4:12 grabbed my attention in light of  being resolved to be content. “I know how to abound”. Wow. Paul learned to be content (and yes, it’s still a learning process to this day) in all situations, no matter what God allowed in his life. And he knew how to abound (thrive, advance, be alive!) by doing everything through Christ which gave him the strength and grace to live life well. Paul was a good steward with what he’d been given both in flourishing times and in times of need.

Another thought I had was that a lack of contentment is linked to a lack of confidence. I am getting better about not worrying over what I don’t have (in comparison to others) and being more confident that, really, what God gives today is enough and that it is good. Sure, it’s okay to dream about having more things when financially able, but contentment stems from being a good steward with what I already have–living life well. What the world says I need to possess or who I need to be doesn’t line up with what God measures out to me and who He made me to be. So the next time I start comparing and feeling discontent, I will remember that it’s not who I am that holds me back, it’s who I think I’m not. I read somewhere that discontentment with God is like poking Him in the eye. How’s that for a visual? Psalm 118:8, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

Living satisfied with God’s provisions in the here and now is a spiritual lesson in faith. It is to be able to ultimately pray in all situations, “Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10) –to be confident that He is all wise and does work all things out for our good and for His glory.

“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.” -Elisabeth Elliot

I may not understand where God has me right now. I may not grasp why God has allowed different things to happen in life. I may not know why God created me a certain way. But I do know that when I take my eyes off Him and look to self for answers, I lack wisdom.

James 1:5-7, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”

God gives wisdom generously and without scolding when we ask for it in full faith. But when I go back and forth between trusting and uncertainty, He knows that I am like a wave in the sea moved easily by winds of doubt. And God does not reward a double minded mindset. Faith in God still has questions. Lots of them. But true faith is confident to take those questions to the throne of Grace and leave them there.

“Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them. ”
-Elisabeth Elliot

Living satisfied with God’s provision is an act of faith. A test of self-will. And Satan uses dissatisfaction in life as a distraction from God working out His purpose in us. Satan is always challenging God by using Christians as test subjects. Am I failing or flourishing in with what God measures out to me? Do I live life well with what I’ve been given no matter what I have? This week’s resolution has me thinking about ‘abounding’ like Paul.

When “Thy will be done” becomes my heart’s desire, it is then that my mind is stable and satisfied with what God is doing and providing in my life.

 

A Resolution With God

I don’t know about you, but I always feel rushed when this season rolls around. Before you know it, Valentine’s Day stuff will be out for sale and I feel a sense of (mild) apprehension that those winter boots I’ve been looking at online (and do actually need) will be gone before I have a chance to go buy them.

I think about resolutions made at the beginning of the year. I try not to make many anymore because, well, “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” and I don’t like for the year to end up in disappointment over things that didn’t ‘get accomplished’ while I was living life – the good, the bad, and the ugly. As in unforeseen illness, doctor’s appointments, two guys in college and their schedules, unexpected home projects….

There are godly resolutions, however, that I should always purpose to keep no matter which way the wind blows. Things like resolving to be content, resolving to honor femininity in a world where the desirability of it has been diminished. Things like valuing myself and the gifts that God gave me- and being faithful to let God define my worth and not others. Resolutions with God.

Resolution: the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose

Seeing resolutions and the hard work it takes to get them to fruition takes time. In a world that (especially now) is rushing through entire seasons to get to the next, I want to stop the clock. I want to savor. Our journey with God is not on the fast track. In fact He tells us that to know Him, we need to be still. How can I be resolved in the right things if I don’t know what He wants me to do? Where He wants me to go? Or maybe I do know, but I’m too busy trying to ‘keep up’ that I have forgotten to pay attention. If I allow myself to be pulled along with society and rush from one day to another, I will have missed the joy in the journey.

I’m thinking of doing a series of posts on the topic of godly resolutions with each concept having to do with a resolution with God – a reminder of what’s important. Concept number one being,
“I am resolved: I will not hurry through my journey.” 

There is no disappointment in making any resolution with God when I remember that His timeline isn’t mine. He is always working in me. He is patient and not in a hurry. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6 

He began a good work in me the moment of salvation. And He has been working on me, and will be working on me until the end. So even though the world may be rushing through from one season to the next, any spiritual season I am in needs time. It can’t be forced or rushed. Because God isn’t the author of confusion, He knows where I am and what I need and where I need to go from here.

“I am resolved, and who will go with me?
Come, friends, without delay,
Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit,
We’ll walk the heav’nly way.” 

 

The Only Way Out

The only way out of Egypt was through God’s leadership. The only way out of the flood was through it by obedience. The only way out of the den of lions was to believe on God to change a king’s heart. The only way out of the belly of the fish was through repentance. Countless examples in the Bible are recorded of hardships. And the only way out of them was through. And the ultimate example: The only way out of death on the cross for salvation of sins was through it.

I Corinthians 15:57-58–“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

The believers of old? Their labor of trust, obedience, sacrifice, and faith was not in vain because their victory was through God and Him only. And because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He still honors trust. He still blesses obedience and sacrifice. And He always proves our faith in Him is worth every mile. That doesn’t mean things are going to turn out the way we want. Personally, our family is waiting on news to see if my husband has cancer. A big chunk of skin was cut out from his back last week and was sent out for analysis. And if the answer comes back that more testing needs to be done, are we still going to be steadfast? Unmovable in the belief that God is not lost or confused as to where we are? Going through trials in life can keep us humble in realizing that we don’t have control over many things. We cannot by sheer will make everything ‘go right’ in life. But faith knows that even when our ‘situation’ changes, God’s doesn’t.

Because God does give victory, our labor of trust, obedience, sacrifice, and faith are not in vain. Whether or not we see the victory here or in Heaven, God is faithful to His word. He doesn’t work by our calendar, clock, or time-line. His promises were from the beginning until always. Extending beyond life on this earth. His name “Emmanuel” means in itself, “God with us”.  No matter what we’re going on in our lives, He isn’t the light at the end of the tunnel; He’s the Light that gets us through it.

 

 

 

 

 

The Habit That I Wear

 

“A nail is driven out by another nail. Habit is overcome by habit”. -Erasmus

Habit: Synonyms: addiction, custom, groove, manner, mode, nature, pattern, set, style Definitions: an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary; customary practice or use; a dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality

When I was growing up, my parents worked to instill in the 3 of us kids good habits. We made our bed every day (yes, even on Saturdays). Every day, we were to shower, comb our hair, and get dressed. Every day, we each had chores that needed to be completed by the end of the day. It was to teach us discipline and responsibility and they are habits I instilled in raising and training my son Jonathan. This post isn’t about these types of habits, however, but of spiritual ones.  One of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, mentions habits in one of her journal entries.

“A habit is what we wear. A habit is the way we wear our days.”

In light of ‘spiritual habits’, which ones should I ‘wear’?  I looked up the definitions for the word ‘wear’. Here are a few; to carry or to have on the body or about the person as a covering, equipment, ornament, or the like ; to bear or have in one’s aspect or appearance.

What am I carrying lately? What is ‘covering’ me? What is my equipment?? Stress, worry, doubts, perfectionism? Usually, yesKing Solomon in Proverbs 1:9 wrote about instruction and wisdom that they “shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.” Stress, worry, doubts, perfectionism are not wise habits to wear, especially if I believe that God is faithful to carry me through any situation.

Over the last year, I have been on a ‘minimalist’ kick. I haven’t nearly arrived at sorting through everything, but I did start with my closet. I donated bags of clothes that just didn’t suit me anymore. I stick to basic color schemes now that I know I feel comfortable in and that most everything matches most everything. I have a difficult time making (and sticking to!) decisions and having my closet cleaned out and simplified makes getting dressed much easier. Now that I have the basics I’m happy with, I rarely say, “I have nothing to wear”. I know what I like, I know what is comfortable, and I know everything ‘goes’ together.

I can compare that to a ‘spiritual’ closet and I know which thoughts are not comfortable..stress, worry, obsession over things I cannot change. I can choose to clean those out in favor of what is good. Stress, worry, doubt is really not supposed ‘to go together’ in the Christian outfit, anyway.

‘Put on’ bowels (depths) of mercies, kindness, humbleness, meekness, longsuffering.’ Colossians 3:12

In Ephesians chapter six, Paul writes about taking the whole armour of God; truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, faith, salvation, word of God… No stress, worry, or doubt mentioned here.

I can choose to decide that I don’t want to wear discontentment and doubt.  “Strength and honour are her clothing;”-Proverbs 31:25. I find that if I ‘take’ (mentally) the habits of stress, worry, doubts, obsessiveness over things I can’t control and put them away (far, far away), I find things I haven’t worn in awhile; mercy, kindness, longsuffering, faith, trust, the word of God. And if all that seems overwhelming, I can ‘try on’ one or two of them. I can work on kindness today instead of impatience. I can show mercy instead of an unforgiving spirit. I can let go of perfectionism in favor of a happier home.

‘Putting on’ habits is a choice. Driving out bad habits can be done by driving in a good one in its place. Difficult at times, sure. Painful, even. The natural tendency is to grip tightly to control, to discontent, and the right to feel this way. Which habits do I need to retire and which ones do I need to take on in order to be a better Christian, wife, and mom?  How do I wear my days? If I’m ever in doubt and am not quite sure how to drive out the bad habit rearing it’s ugly head, I can put on the one good one that never fails- charity/love.

“And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Colossians 3:14,15

Above mercy, kindness, humbleness, meekness, longsuffering. Above forbearing and forgiving, charity is the way to wear my days because if I don’t have charity, I am nothing and there is no profit to any other good deed I could do (I Corinthians 13:2,3). Is my covering, equipment, or ornament charity these days? Something to think about each morning as I decide what I want to wear and how I want to wear the day.

 

 

Enabling Grace

When God has a plan, He has already made provisions for the outcome, and has given me the power to overcome any obstacles that come my way.

When Caleb, Joshua, and ten other spies were sent out to observe the land the Israelites were to overtake, the men did not all agree that God would do what He said would do and just give it to them. All twelve men saw the grapes big enough to feed giants. All twelve men saw the pomegranates and the figs of the land. They all saw that the land was overflowing with cows, and goats, and bees. The land was fertile and all that occupied it. And of course, they all saw that the people in Canaan were strong, and that there were giants, and that the cities were walled. Caleb said, “We can take ’em”…in a manner of speaking. “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” -Numbers 13:30. (At once!, he raved.) He was excited and ready to go. This was what they had been hoping for. A promise that was @ six hundred years in the making.

The phrase struck me while this message was being preached by my dad: “We are well able”, Caleb reported…And after declaring Canaan to be conquerable, there were others who grew weak kneed and intimidated.

•They saw the people there were strong.

•They saw the cities were walled and were very great.

•And they saw the sons of Anak, ‘which come of the giants’ (Numbers 13:33

What the 10 spies (doubters) did not see that Caleb and Joshua did,
was the almighty hand of God.

When the two “good spies” said, “We spy.. GREATNESS!”, the other ten said, “We spy.. TROUBLE!” – and a riot ensued. They protested, so much so that the children of Israel ‘got on the bandwagon’ and said it would have been better if they had died back in Egypt or in the wilderness. “They lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night”- Numbers 14:1. Good grief. Get a hold of yourself! Such drama. And what of the great Exodus? And the parting of the Red Sea? And the cloud by day and fire by night? And the manna? And and and…..on and on God was showing them that He would provide, yet they forgot. Or were just plain ungrateful. We can see just around the corner because it’s recorded how it all works out that they were —just within reach— of gaining the promised land. So close in proximity, yet so far apart from God’s mindset. They despised the promise. Maybe it seemed too hard. Maybe they didn’t want to have to ‘work for it’ when in reality, God was going to do the work and all were to receive the promise. They knew what work was. They had been slaves, after all, before God delivered them from Egypt and her taskmasters. Yet, because of their rebellion and fight against God’s will, they missed out on entering the most incredible sights they ever would know. Joshua and Caleb are hailed as heroes for their trust in God’s way. And the ten trouble making spies? They are named as well (Numbers 13) and are forever etched in Scripture for all to see their lack of judgment. In Numbers 13:3, it even says that their little ones would know the land that their elders despised.

Not much has changed since then. God still has a plan and it’s to live by faith, to trust Him in any given situation. And there will always be those who say it’s impossible to live by faith and not by sight– ‘God simply can’t have something bigger out there’. Like Caleb and Joshua, I need to stand firm that blessings will come when I simply trust that God’s way is better. Big faith = big blessings. What God says about Caleb is incredible in Number 14: 24 -“But my servant, Caleb, because he had another spirit in him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land…” Another spirit…not a spirit of scorn like the whole murmuring lot, but one of humility and obedience. And Caleb followed God fully. Fully! Not half-way, not half-hearted, but he was “all in” for the long haul. No tears. No weeping and gnashing of teeth. No drama. In vs 38, it is said of Joshua and Caleb that they “LIVED STILL” when the unbelieving and unrepentant breached God’s promise and slandered the land (vs 34 & 36). The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years and died ‘by the plague before the LORD’ (vs 37). The doubters got what they wished for…to die in the wilderness (those twenty years old and up). Such profound sadness. It didn’t have to be that way.

To live STILL – when fear wants to take over. To live STILL – when I’m tempted to doubt that God will take care of me. To live STILL – when those around me are far apart from God’s mindset… Faith brings life and I am ‘well able’ to overcome anything that will test my faith in His plan…giants larger than life, walls higher than high, mean people, whatever -because He is the Enabler.

God doesn’t give me life and a plan to serve Him without making provisions. He always extends the necessary power and grace to overcome obstacles and to exceed expectations.

May I have the confidence and faith to say, “I am well able to overcome….”

Making Mention of You Always

Sometimes…I just don’t know how to pray. Illness, loss, divorce, conflicts, hardships…My heart is heavy for so many people and at times, I just don’t have the words.  What do I ask for? How do I pray? How do I form the words when the heart hurts, and the soul aches, and the mind is numb? The prayer that never fails; “Thy will be done”..but even if it hurts? Even if it means I don’t get my way? Even if someone still suffers, dies, walks away, gives up, or takes years to come back to God? My thoughts are not His thoughts. His timing is not mine. I’ve found some direction when I get to feeling numb with no words and no idea what to ask for.

“Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers.”
Philemon 1: 3, 4

GRACE to you (dignity, balance, thanksgiving)–for every mile, for every trial. New grace to face a new day even when there are no answers. Dignity to accept mistakes and to receive forgiveness. Balance through a diagnosis that will change a life forever. Thanksgiving that God’s hand can still keep, protect, and guide.

and PEACE (one accord with God, tranquility, quietness of spirit)— to be still and know that He is God. Period. And He alone can fix, bend, or mend people and problems. Not I.

“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”  Oswald Chambers

For those on your prayer list– for the faces you will see in your family, church, neighborhood, and even on Facebook who are smiling yet covering tears unshed–for all those on your heart and in your mind, when you find yourself making mention of someone always in your prayers…urge for GRACE, seek for PEACE. And give thanks for these gifts that He alone can wholly provide.

When the soul seeks for a voice, sometimes the only words you need to cover it all from the One Who covers all, are Grace and Peace.