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Posts tagged faith
When Life Piles Up

My last blog post on The Names of God, Jehovah Rapha (God Healer) was posted only six days before my father’s death. Thursday after it posted, I gave it to him to read after arriving at my parent’s home in South Carolina to be there for his surgery the next morning.

“Well done, daughter,” I can still hear him say.

God has such a beautiful way of letting this “life thing” play out. I’ve never been one to believe in coincidences. Nope. In my opinion, “coincidences” are just God at work in all aspects of our lives.

In March of this year, I dreamed God’s hands swooped down from the clouds to catch my husband and I as we were falling in midair down a cliff. He gently set us into terribly murky water but it was okay because I viscerally KNEW all would be well. He would carry us through.

In recent days, remembering that dream and the peace it brought once I awoke has sometimes been one of the few things that has gotten me through.

See, true to His mystery, God seems to fully understand the power of the “pile on.” Often, our challenges occur in clusters – at least that’s been my experience. So. Many. Difficult. Things. At. Once.

Because of this, I can’t say I was surprised that while at the funeral home deciding on my father’s funeral ceremony, caskets, and the like, my husband received a call to inform him of yet another hugely stressful challenge upcoming. As soon as we left, I quickly, dove into my phone’s Bible app to start a new plan. I found Battles and Front Lines by Rita Springer. This is what I read:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 (NIV)

Wow, God. I should be ecstatic!! Thank you??

Ever notice how good Satan is at his job? He can really stir up some emotions that can rattle you to your bones. Fear is one he’s really good at manifesting in us. And doubt. Doubt can do a number on me too – when I let it. Both of these emotions can come out in full force during the pile-on – extending it exponentially.

This pile-on effect truly makes me take notice of you, God and forces me to keep You close like never before. So often these days, my greatest solace is found in the Word.

The Bible shows us there is still more advice for us to be joyful in trials. In 1 Peter 1:6-7 we read: So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Throughout this year, I’ve witnessed how beautiful our struggles can be – if you’re intentional about noticing ALL of the pieces to the puzzle. These experiences have made it possible for me to keep and grow my faith.

I saw it so many times in the hospital in the kind words or gestures of people around whether they be staff or not. The nurse who had watched my mom, brother and I standing outside of my Dad’s room waiting for them to prep him to go into his second surgery. She watched how Mom wouldn’t take her eyes off Dad and finally asked my mom, “do you want to go with him up to the operating room?” In Mike, the man who insisted on purchasing our coffee as he was visiting his wife who had cancer surgery. In Mary, the woman in the waiting room who prayed for us right after Dad died.

We love each other because He loved us first. 1 John 4:19 (NIV)

I’ve also realized that although there is so much pain and so many angry people in the world, kindness is predominant. Most people genuinely want to help others. Phone calls, notes, texts, and hugs from family, friends and almost strangers made and still make, the hard days bearable. Like when Gail, whom I’ve met twice, hears my story and asks if she can send me an email. Reading this article through my tears, I recognized that my perspective was changing in ways I never imagined.

If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Ecclesiastes 4:10 (NIV)

With the current conflicts in our country, it’s easy to buy into the lie that we are doomed. Anytime we keep our focus on the negative (the divide), it will be impossible to create a positive change of unity. Let’s look around and keep our eyes searching to catch others being kind. Let’s make it our mission to always search for the silver linings. We must change our focus for positive change to happen.

Think about this, sisters, what would the world look like if we all were intent on finding and doing good? Who will stand for Jesus? Who will take that step and remind others how quickly our brothers and sisters stepped up to assist victims of the hurricanes or other recent tragedies? How many people step in to provide comfort and love in our daily challenges? I have seen first-hand that it is people’s first instinct to be kind.

We seem to be in a time in life where we must endure the challenge of the pile-on so we might become as humanly complete as we possibly can. For God’s plans are far greater and more beautiful than our own. Things are not hopeless, we just need to dig deeper and love harder. There is always a storm before a rainbow.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Angela

Proven and Justified...?

yellowlady photo Defeated, I blurt out  without thinking about it, the dishes are piled high and the kitchen is a mess and that makes me worthless.  I was taken back after saying that but continued on with the day.  I  knew it then it was a lie, and completely ridiculous!  I’ve got to laugh at the craziness of it.  Weeks later the words that escaped  from my soul in the hustle of  that awkward afternoon haunt me though.  It’s like that sentence has a mouth and asks me - Carin, do your actions, does your productivity justify you?  

Justify.  Like I’m an all-round better person when I have something I know I’ve accomplished.  When I’m working towards some goals, I’m an asset to this world in some way and can justify my time in light of accomplishments.  What are these sneaky lies that are perhaps a part of my unconscious thought life…?

Haunted, my pen literally grabbed me, I was it’s hostage now and it began to write:

Busy is as busy was.

What about this heart, beat, beat buzz

There’s a tower for me to build but I can’t quite get all the pieces filled

Can’t quite stack them high enough, clever enough, pretty enough

Never ending, always daunting

 

All my untouched expectations hang before me

Like a full length mirror taunting me

Expecting what..? I’m not quite sure, it’s all unclear

But there’s always more for me to be justified

 

My soul may not know how to feel

When there's too much of a crowd all around

Amidst the crowd of strangers making a home among my soul

It crouches down, scrunches up, slouches into a less defined shape

 

What can be done to settle the score

What is it that I’m striving for

This meaningless chase with a counterfeit prize

All just an empty hole

 

When the day is done, curtains drawn

Will it ever be enough

My day’s offering

Presented to the god of justified.  

 

Sometimes beauty and truth arrest you like a bright light when you’ve been in the dark.

I was flipping through the Jesus Storybook Bible with my 2 year old in my lap to read to her.

“So God breathed life into Adam and Eve.  When they opened their eyes, the first thing they ever saw was God’s face.  And when God saw them he was like a new dad “You look like me” he said.  You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made!”

God loved them with all of his heart.  And they were lovely because he loved them.  

And Adam and Even joined in the song of the starts and the streams and the wind in the trees, the wonderful song of love to the one who made them…

God looked at everything he had made. “Perfect!” he said.  And it was. 

But all the stars and the mountains and oceans and galaxies and everything were nothing compared to how much God loved his children.  He would move heaven and earth to be near them.  Whatever happened, whatever it cost him, he would always love them.”   

My being, me alive and living, I am proven.  God created me and I am in Him. He placed value on us that is above every created thing.  The cost is high for us and Jesus paid it with His life.  Now through His breath and through His blood I am branded: proven and justified, I am.  Until we meet Him face to face again, in Him I can be believing, hoping, holding onto faith, with nothing to hide and nothing to prove.

November 9: The Day After Elections

It’s over. It’s finally over. Well, the date of election, that is. But actually it’s just the beginning of a new chapter for our country.

Whomever won the election, we were all probably disappointed in some way. I've never thought once in my life, that one day when I went to press “submit” on my ballot, I’d have uncontrolable tears running down my face. People in Holly Hill mall didn't see me walking by with tears of happiness for the choices I made, but tears of deep concern and sadness for the sick, the divided, and broken state of America.

I don't want this post to be a Debbie Downer, and it may have started off seeming that way, but hold on because it's going somewhere that I hope brings you encouragement in what seems to be a time of despair.

But before I get there, I have to be honest first and say that I think I'm feeling like Jeremiah in the Bible. The weepy part that is. While reading a blog post I stumbled upon on my Facebook feed a couple of days ago, called “My Prediction For November 9” by Max Lucado, he wrote how Jeremiah lived during one of Israel’s darkest periods of rebellion. “(Jeremiah) was called ‘the weeping prophet’ because he was one. He wept at the condition of the people and the depravity of their faith.”

But something Lucado also said pulled me back to the peace of Christ. He said,

"I have a prediction. I know exactly what November 9 will bring. Another day of God’s perfect sovereignty.

He will still be in charge. His throne will still be occupied. He will still manage the affairs of the world. Never before has His providence depended on a king, president, or ruler. And it won’t on November 9, 2016. 'The LORD can control a king’s mind as he controls a river; he can direct it as he pleases' (Proverbs 21:1 NCV)"

God’s. Perfect. Sovereignty.

That’s what I’m grateful for. That’s something to include on my list of thanksgiving, list of gratitude, list of joys.

We must trust God’s sovereignty.

And speaking of trust, it’s something else on my gratitude list. Trust in the Lord, that is. Just like joy, it’s a hard-fought, grace-infused, Biblical lifestyle. Trust is not easy when we grow up and walk away from the gift of childhood faith we were created to keep.

I’ve been reading some writings from Amy Carmichael lately, who was a British missionary in the early 1900’s. In one of her books, “Thou Givest…They Gather”, she writes about the importance of a single word. The word ‘TRUST’. She said when we open the word “trust”, these other words fall out around it. “Rely”. “Depend”. “Rest”. But there’s one more word that’s within the word “trust” that stood out more than the others. It’s “lean”.

Lean. When I think of that word, I think of putting my weight on something else. I lean on a pole, a wall, the side of a car. I can also lean on someone, for example, my father. I trusted him through the years as he let me lean on him when my feet hurt from standing in a long line to wait for a ride at the fair, or when I’d lean on his arm and shoulder as we sat at church. And I’d lean on him when he offered an ear to hear and a heart to love.

You lean because you need that sturdy assurance that something or someone is holding you up. You lean into someone you trust.

God wants us to trust – or lean on – or lean into - Him.

In 2 Chronicles 14:11, when King Asa was praying to God as his country was about to go into battle, he called out, “Help us, O Yahweh our God, for, on Thee, do we lean…” (EBR)

Yep that’s correct. That word is used in the Bible. In this translation, the word “lean” was used where we usually see the word trust.

So, I’m leaning on God. Leaning on, and not letting go of, His sovereignty. I’m putting all my weight on it because everything else around seems to be cracking and unstable. So I’ll lean. Lean like it says to in Scripture:

“When I am afraid, I will lean on Thee.” (Psalm 56:3)

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace…because he leanest on Thee” (Isaiah 26:3)

What if the next time you’re reading the Bible and you see the word “trust”, replace it in with the word, “lean”.

“LEAN on the Lord with all your heart, not your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you LEAN on him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

“I will say to the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I LEAN.” (Psalm 91:2)

My God, in whom I lean.

Our God in whom we trust.

Look on the next shiny, silver quarter you hold in your hand. What does it say?

“In God we trust”. In God we LEAN.

So that’s what I’m going to do. That’s what I have to do. I’m going to keep leaning onto God’s Truth and trusting His sovereignty as Donald Trump and our governmental leaders take office soon. I am thankful for the freedom I have in this country, but even more grateful for the freedom I have through Christ.

God is in control of all things. He knew long ago the results from this campaign. He already knows what is to come in the months and years ahead. It’s all part of God’s big Story that’s a chapter closer to the end where Jesus "will come again to judge the living and the dead” and His Garden will be restored and we'll live in joy and unity the way He created us to live.

In the middle of it all, for now though, I’m going to lean into God’s promises. I'm going to be grateful for my freedom. I'm going to thank God for His goodness. I'm going to choose to be filled with the joy of the Lord. And I’m going to trust His sovereignty.

In GOD I trust.

Into GOD I lean.

Will you join me?

Beth IMG_1567-300x200