sunset over ocean with quote from Rick Warren.

When God calls me to something hard, or to make a drastic life-change, I want clear indications that I’m actually hearing from Him. I tell Him that, and I’m not being demanding nor does this come from a lack of faith. I trust His wisdom and guidance completely, but I don’t always trust my ability to hear and discern Him. And so, I ask for assurances, simultaneously deciding to obey however He leads while asking for the strength to do so. 

I don’t believe God faults me for this. He’s so gentle, so loving and attentive, and He gives me what I need. In those moments of uncertainty, He assures me of His grace and reminds me of His power and plans. Sitting in His presence, surrounded by and filled with Him, enveloped in His love, all my questions tend to fade. Inspired by His mission and the honor of being used by Him, I find I don’t need to know every step. I only need to know He’s with me and that He’s got everything all figured out. 

This is often how He prepares me–for the good, the bad, the difficult and painful, that lies ahead–not by reminding me of all I can or will or might do, but rather, of who He is. All-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing sovereign Lord. 

That may have been, at least in part, why He revealed Himself in such a powerful way to His disciples in Matthew 17. Six days prior, He had shared some really hard and confusing news: He would be rejected by the religious elite and would ultimately be killed, but then, after three days, He’d rise from the dead. (Luke 9:22) And then, He basically told them that if they wanted to follow Him, they needed to be willing to suffer as well. (Luke 23).

Consider, this occurred during what appeared to be the height of Jesus’ ministry. Large crowds were following Him and He was gaining influence. And now, He was telling His disciples that He was going to die? That didn’t make sense! And it certainly wasn’t what they expected. They’d left everything–their jobs, their way of life, and any dreams they might have entertained prior–to follow Christ, likely envisioning something similar to the first century equivalent of Billy Graham revivals. Not suffering, rejection, and tombs.

Can you imagine what must’ve gone through their minds? The questions, confusion, and likely, inner turmoil. I don’t know if they began to doubt Jesus, that He truly was the long-promised Messiah, but I think I might have. I might even have felt a bit cheated. We can respond like that, can’t we? When ministry endeavors don’t go as we expect or whatever God has called us to feels more challenging and less glamorous or overtly fruitful than we’d anticipated? 

And that’s when He reminds us, as He did with the disciples, that He is so much bigger than anything we encounter or do today.  

As He did with the disciples. Scripture says, “​​2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.” (Matthew 17:2-3, NIV). 

Through that awe-inspiring display, I wonder if He was intentionally strengthening Peter’s, James’s, and John’s faith (Matthew 17:1-13). Was that why He allowed them to see His glory in a way no other human, not even Moses, had? Why He confirmed, with such vivid and irrefutable clarity, that He was the one the prophets (Elijah) spoke about, the fulfillment of the law (Moses)? 

As David Guzik, from the Enduring Word, wrote, “A sight of Christ’s glory while we are here in this world, is a good preparative for our sufferings with Him, as these are preparatives for the sight of His glory in the other world.” 

Through His transfiguration, Jesus made it clear, before His disciples saw Him hanging on the cross, mocked by those in power, that He was God’s Son, the Messiah. 

He gave them powerful, unforgettable, supernatural proof.

Like I said earlier, I believe He lovingly prepares and assures us as well. He answers our questions, strengthens our hearts, and ignites our passions so that we can more boldly follow Him. Our callings? They won’t always be easy. Life this side of heaven rarely is. But we can hold tight to the same promise Christ gave His disciples, when He shined so brightly before them: His glory extends far beyond this severely broken world, and one day, we will be fully surrounded by His light.

Woman gazing over horizon with quote from John Ortberg.

In the meantime, like the disciples, we climb up on that mountain, that place where we can get alone with Him. Where we can sit in His presence and reflect on how vast and beyond comprehension our Savior is. And we realize, no matter what comes or what we might face, He is and always will be enough. Big enough, strong enough, present enough, and faithful enough to carry us through. 

Let’s talk about this! When was the last time you pulled away to sit in God’s presence to catch a glimpse of who He fully is? How might taking time to do so help strengthen you for whatever He’s calling you to do?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another. 

And for those following our chronological New Testament Bible reading plan …

Connect with me on Facebook and Instagram.

You can catch the next episode of the Faith Over Fear podcast here:

The Courage to Love Those Who Are Hard to Love (Pt 2) – Ep. 82 Faith Over Fear

At times, God’s call to love others persistently and sacrificially can feel confusing, especially if the individual we’re reaching out to behaves in unhealthy and hurtful ways. How can we love well, in a way that is healthy and emotionally and mentally safe? In this episode, Jennifer discusses ways our insecurities and past hurts can pose personal challenges, how God uses those challenges to create increased beauty within us, and the importance of establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries in all our interactions. Find Jennifer: https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/ Find Wholly Loved, at: https://www.WhollyLoved.com Join the private Faith Over Fear Group Here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671 Sign up to receive her 30-Day Fighting Fear emails here: https://bit.ly/3l1eAYs Resource mentioned: Becoming His Princess Bible Study Video Week One: https://bit.ly/3o5qHFG Group Discussion Questions: 1. What did you find most helpful in today’s episode and why? 2. How often do you pause to evaluate your reactions to particular people or situations? 3. In what ways have your insecurities or past hurts colored your perception during disagreements or relationally tense moments? 4. Consider someone with whom you often experience difficulty. How much of your ongoing issues might be exacerbated by unresolved hurts from your past? 5. When, if ever, do you find yourself getting sucked into someone else’s drama? 6. What are some ways you can avoid this? 7. How well do you “shake off” rejection? 8. What might healthy boundaries look like in your situation? 9. What do you find most challenging when it comes to establishing or maintaining healthy boundaries? 10. What is one action step you feel God is wanting you to take after having listened to this podcast episode? Episode Image Credit: Getty/LinaDes
  1. The Courage to Love Those Who Are Hard to Love (Pt 2) – Ep. 82
  2. The Courage to Love Those Who Are Hard to Love (Pt 1) – Ep. 81
  3. The Love That Casts Out Fear – Ep. 80
  4. Anchored in Christ When the Storms of Life Hit – Ep. 79
  5. The Courage to Grieve – Ep. 78

One man or woman of character, fully surrendered to God, can change the world. You and I can impact families, communities, for the good for generations to come. Will you and I, as God’s ambassadors, do that which is convenient? Maybe personally beneficial? Or are we willing, on occasion, to flip a table or two.

We all have a holy battle to fight, one that will require focus, commitment, and sacrifice. I don’t know what that might look like for you. Or what will most challenge your courage and strength, but I can promise, those reasons will probably seem numerous and ever-growing. I can also promise you this: Saying yes to Jesus, however He calls, will Woman standing on a mountain top gazing out over sunlit cloud coverignite and nourish your soul unlike anything else.

Or perhaps I should phrase it differently: Whenever we shrink back from God’s call, whatever that might be, we rob ourselves of life as God intends, for which we were created.

I’ve shared before, here and also in various Faith Over Fear podcast episodes, about a time when God began to stir within our daughter a holy discontent. This began when a delayed diagnosis of a learning disability alerted her to major holes in the academic system. Numerous largely untrained college professors. Policies listed on websites without real-life follow through. Lack of accountability and oversight, over-emphasis of faculty rights with blatant violation of the rights of students.

The battle ahead of her seemed not only insurmountable but also detrimental. She was a student, after all, dependent on the very ones misusing their power. The fact that the authorities weren’t intentionally doing so was irrelevant; the results were the same.

She realized, just as her university’s failure to act was a decision to act, hers was as well. And so, though terrified of veiled retaliation that could cost her research positions, recommendations, and ultimately, her dreams, she used her voice, strengthened by her GPA, to speak for those who had long since lost theirs.

That was such a stressful, exhausting fight with repercussions that extended far beyond the university’s failing SSD department. She was building her character, her courage and grit, with every trembling step forward, until eventually her tenuous steps became firm and secure. But her actions did much more than that, because others were watching. And learning. And gaining courage to fight their battles as well.

And in this, to more accurately reflect our Savior who always spoke out for the marginalized, rejected, discarded, abused, and oppressed. One of my daughter’s favorite examples of this comes from John 2:13-22. This situation occurred around the time of Passover when an estimated 3,000,000 Jews and Gentiles combined traveled to Jerusalem for this holy day. I imagine the area looked similar to how Lincoln does on a Nebraska home game when people travel from the farthest corners of the state, crowding every crevice of the city while vendors and street hustlers haggling passersby.

Only instead of selling hot dogs and water, the merchants hawked sacrificial animals, at equally exorbitant prices. Can you imagine the noise, the smell, and the chaos worshipers encountered? Not only were people, many of whom were poor and had traveled for days, being taken advantage of. But because the vendors set up shop in the one area the Gentiles were allowed to enter, many seeking God were being pushed out.

Something Jesus would not allow, as John 2:15-17 demonstrate. “So He made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves He said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning My Father’s house into a market!’ His disciples remembered that it is written: Zeal for your house will consume me.’” (John 2:15-17, NIV).

Scholars suggest Jesus reacted to numerous problems. The filth and chaos in the overran Temple courts. The dishonest practices of the money changers who willingly took advantage of people seeking God. The fact that the swindlers were using the one area open to foreigners to do so. But in each of these, His response came from the same place—love. And He demonstrated, love isn’t always soft spoken and polite. Sometimes love must take a stand and flip a table or two.

Like I said, I don’t know what that looks like for you. Honestly, I don’t always know what that looks like for me, either, but I do know we each have a role to play, a battle to fight, a wrong to right, and darkness to push back with God’s light.

Is there an area of darkness that has grown increasingly on your radar? If so, have you paused to ask God why? What He’s showing you and how He wants you to respond?

For those who are following our chronological reading plan, today’s devotion started this week off with a focus on John 2:13-22.

Bible reading plan

Woman contemplating with quote from post.

We reveal who we truly are in how we respond when the stakes feel high. The higher the stakes, the more vivid and accurate the self-revelation. In those moments, our actions scream truth louder than any spoken claim or image portrayed. Will we do the hard-right thing, though it might come with a lofty cost, or will we choose that which feels convenient or safe?

I say feels because I’ve discovered the opposite is true. When we choose self-preservation above integrity, we begin to chip away at those things which are good and strong and admirable within while growing all that is ugly and false until one day we look back and wonder what we’ve done and who we’ve become.

Regret is such a heavy, suffocating burden to carry.Woman walking into the sunrise with quote from post.

Scripture is filled with such powerful examples, stark contrasts, between those who chose to act with courage and integrity though faced with seemingly impossible circumstances; seemingly impossible odds and those who pursued what was easy, convenient, or “safe.” Their actions created ripple effects of good or evil felt for generations; the fallout of their lives recorded for all time.

Consider the unnamed mother in Exodus 2. She lived during a horrific, terrifying, seemingly hopeless time in ancient Israel’s history. They’d been living in oppression and slavery for 400 years in Egypt. Fearing this emerging and rapidly growing people group would join forces with their allies, the Egyptians did all they could to beat them down. When this didn’t work, the Pharaoh “gave this order to all his people: ‘Throw every newborn boy into the Nile River.’”

A man named Moses was born during this dark time in history. Initially, his mom hid him for three months. This took such courage! Doing this placed her and her entire family in great danger. No doubt, if the authorities discovered what she’d done, they’d make her and her family a public example of what happened to those who tried to defy the Pharaoh.

Three months is a long time to live in terror.

A long time when it would be easy to talk yourself out of doing the hard-right thing.

A long time to be praying and praying, seeming to get no answers and no help from God.

A long, long time to hear the anguish all around her as other Hebrew boys were ripped from their mother’s arms to be drowned in the Nile.

But she remained courageous.

When it became impossible to keep the child hidden, and likely when it felt as if she created a basket using reeds and waterproofing it with tar, placed the baby inside, and brought the child to the Nile River.

Can you imagine how long that walk to the river must have felt? The terror every step must’ve brought? One cry from the baby inside her basket would alert the Egyptian slave drivers to what she was doing. One peek into the basket, one question, “What do you have there,” could’ve resulted in her death, if not worse. Likely worse, again, to make an example of her to all the other Hebrew moms who might be tempted to courageously rescue their children as well.

Again, a long time to talk herself out of every courageous step. Was she really doing the right thing? What about the rest of her family? What if her actions harmed not just them, but all of her people and resulted in all the fathers, the progenitors, death as well? But she kept walking, and hid her beloved child in the reeds. And she likely couldn’t fathom any way this child could be saved. But she knew she had to do something. She couldn’t simply sit back and allow his murder.

And then, the miracle happened.

Scripture tells us:

“Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. ‘This is one of the Hebrew babies,’ she said.

“Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?’

“‘Yes, go,’ she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.’ So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, ‘I drew him out of the water'” (Ex. 2:5-10, NIV).

Not only did God intervene and rescue her child, but He did so using someone from among her enemies! From within the Pharaoh’s household. One day, the Pharaoh’s daughter—daughter of the very man that had caused such horrific evil!—came to the Nile to bathe, saw the basket, and had her servant draw the child out. She recognized he was a Hebrew boy. Logic says she would’ve been outraged and, following in her father’s steps, had him killed. But she didn’t. She rescued him and called for a Hebrew woman to nurse (care for) the child until he was weaned. But not just any Hebrew woman. The child’s own mother.

Quote from post with red text and yellow background.While most of us, thankfully, won’t find ourselves in such dire, literally life-or-death, situations, we are living in dark times. We all have countless opportunities to do the hard right thing. Our response reveals and builds who we are at our core.

What hard right thing is God asking you to do this Christmas season?

Share your thoughts, stories, and insights with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage each other!

Speaking of doing the right hard thing, I invite you to listen to our latest Faith Over Fear podcast episode on finding the courage to seek reconciliation.

The Courage to Love Those Who Are Hard to Love (Pt 2) – Ep. 82 Faith Over Fear

At times, God’s call to love others persistently and sacrificially can feel confusing, especially if the individual we’re reaching out to behaves in unhealthy and hurtful ways. How can we love well, in a way that is healthy and emotionally and mentally safe? In this episode, Jennifer discusses ways our insecurities and past hurts can pose personal challenges, how God uses those challenges to create increased beauty within us, and the importance of establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries in all our interactions. Find Jennifer: https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/ Find Wholly Loved, at: https://www.WhollyLoved.com Join the private Faith Over Fear Group Here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671 Sign up to receive her 30-Day Fighting Fear emails here: https://bit.ly/3l1eAYs Resource mentioned: Becoming His Princess Bible Study Video Week One: https://bit.ly/3o5qHFG Group Discussion Questions: 1. What did you find most helpful in today’s episode and why? 2. How often do you pause to evaluate your reactions to particular people or situations? 3. In what ways have your insecurities or past hurts colored your perception during disagreements or relationally tense moments? 4. Consider someone with whom you often experience difficulty. How much of your ongoing issues might be exacerbated by unresolved hurts from your past? 5. When, if ever, do you find yourself getting sucked into someone else’s drama? 6. What are some ways you can avoid this? 7. How well do you “shake off” rejection? 8. What might healthy boundaries look like in your situation? 9. What do you find most challenging when it comes to establishing or maintaining healthy boundaries? 10. What is one action step you feel God is wanting you to take after having listened to this podcast episode? Episode Image Credit: Getty/LinaDes
  1. The Courage to Love Those Who Are Hard to Love (Pt 2) – Ep. 82
  2. The Courage to Love Those Who Are Hard to Love (Pt 1) – Ep. 81
  3. The Love That Casts Out Fear – Ep. 80
  4. Anchored in Christ When the Storms of Life Hit – Ep. 79
  5. The Courage to Grieve – Ep. 78

And speaking of relationships, make sure to save the date for Wholly Loved’s upcoming online Mother Daughter’s conference.

Promo image for mother-daughter conference

In my rush to “fix things” I have landed in numerous messes. This is especially true when I’m feeling anxious about something. Then every moment feels like an hour and every hour like a day. Have you been there?

During Bible study or small group discussion, I can talk quite confidently about how God’s timing and ways are best. But then, something happens, something frightening or uncomfortable, and I’m tempted to sort of rush things along, if not shove the situation in whatever direction I feel best.

In those moments, I act as if I have perfect wisdom for that situation. And in my waiting, in the unknown, doubts begin to arise, whispering, “What if God doesn’t come through this time?”

Do you ever do that? In your moment of uncertainty, in the uncomfortable unknowns, do you ever wonder if God truly will help? If His plans, be they for you or for someone you love, truly will be hope-filled? And when dealing with big hurts, big fears, if you or they will be able to survive the wait.

When I find myself in that place, I like to remember historical examples of when the miracle occurred at the moment when all seemed lost. Consider the story of Esther. You might be familiar with it. A murderously jealous man named Haman tricked Persia’s ruler into ordering the destruction of all the Jews. An entire nation of people, who, quit frankly, had little recourse or hope of aid. Haman was evil, conniving, and powerful, a dangerous combination. Who could possibly stand against such a man?

The same God who can stand against the evil that assaults us each day, for as Romans 8:31 states, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (NIV). The only logical answer? No one. That’s true now, and it was true back in Esther’s day as well. No matter how bleak things seemed or how silent God seemed, He remained in full control, quietly yet decisively working behind the scenes through a seemingly unconnected yet frustrated occurrence––insomnia.

Haman went to bed that night thinking for sure his plan was as good and carried out. But while he retired with dreams of malice, the king remained awake. Perhaps hoping to lull his brain with details, “he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles, and they were read before the king.” And he learned, the man who, albeit unknown to him, Haman was so intent on killing, had acted as a national hero. Mordecai, the hero who chose to trust God even when circumstances must’ve felt so bleak, was elevated and honored, while Haman, the “destroyer” was destroyed.

This is much more than an inspiring story. It’s a revelation of who God is at His core. He sees us, even when we feel unseen. He hears us, when we feel we have no voice. And He is always, always working on our behalf, for our good and His glory. Our Haman’s will change, as will the threats they pose, but praise God, He never will.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NIV).

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

If you’re struggling to remain confident, trusting, amid all the uncertainty this year has brought, I encourage you to listen to my two latest Faith Over Fear Podcast episodes:

Finding Courage in Financial Uncertainty

and

Finding the Courage to Wait

If you or a loved one struggle with chronic illness, I also invite you to listen to my latest Thriving With Chronic Illness podcast titled Thriving With Chronic Illness in Marriage.

quote from Francis Chan with teal background

Why are you here, in this time period, in that neighborhood, or at that work place? Years ago, this question seemed to make all the social media rounds as everyone was encouraged to live with Queen Esther-type determination and bravery. And while I applaud all who demonstrate such courage in the face of danger, I can’t help but wonder how many of us, in our search for the big and the grand and the miraculous, completely miss eternally-significant assignments.

In 2005, Katrina captured the entire nation’s attention. Stories abounded—of heartache and devastation, but also of awe-inspiring acts of love. Of churches housing hundreds, even thousands. Of businesses giving away truckloads full of food. Of volunteers arriving in buses to clear out the wreckage. We were living in Bossier City, Louisiana at the time, far enough from the storm to remain untouched personally, but close enough to receive a rapid influx of displaced survivors. While my involvement was limited, it felt exciting to be part of something so huge, so … emotional. But then, we moved to a small town in Texas and a much smaller church, not knowing how long we’d stay or where we’d move next.

There weren’t any grand ministries to join or history-making events to serve in. We’d also recently lost a great deal, though not from the storm, including our involvement in ministries we found deeply fulfilling.

In this new environment, we were newbies and strangers, quite literally sojourners who were merely traveling through.

Initially, I wanted to pass my time until “real life,” whatever that might look like, resumed. Quote pulled from text on mint backgroundBut God prompted a sense of anticipation that He had a plan for me, even there. That He had indeed moved us there for “such a time as this.” Not worrying about what that might look like, I began my mornings with a simple yet expectant prayer: What do You have for me today, God?

God consistently answered—calling me to love, to serve, to engage, right where I was at, however I could. So, I got plugged in to the local homeschool community and began serving in that small-town church.

About a month later, we moved once again, initially, to another rent-by-the-month apartment, this one much worse than the previous. Our door had five deadbolts, an indication of the area’s safety, and the carpet was so saturated in pet urine, the smell could knock a person back. Thankfully, we knew our stay would be short but weren’t certain we’d land next.

In many ways I was living in the interim, that uncertain and undefined middle ground of transition.

But in that quiet place of waiting, God stirred within me the assurance that He could use me, even there. And so, I repeated my prayer, “What do you have for me today, God?” And once again, He spoke, not with words, but with a spark—to write. Yielding to Him in that dark and dreary apartment, I started typing a curriculum. My obedience, frankly, made no sense and had no clear outlet. In fact, I was certain the project wouldn’t go anywhere beyond my personal computer, and it didn’t, not until another move, and another year, later. One morning, I sensed Him calling me to reach out to the educational minister at that small-town Texas church we’d visited for such a short time, to tell him about what I’d written.

The idea felt preposterous and embarrassing! After all, how was I expecting him to respond? To congratulate me for pounding away at my keyboard? But God’s leading felt clear and strong, and so, not concerning myself with the whys or hows, I obeyed.

After yet another move and another full year, with that email long forgotten, I received a phone call. It was from the children’s director employed by that small Texas church. They wanted to use my curriculum for their summer vacation Bible school. What’s more, they wanted me to come speak to their parents on their “celebration night.”

Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us to “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (NIV).

This verse reminds me that our world needs Jesus, now more than ever. We’re all living in a “time such as this.” God might call some of us to lead or launch ministries and others of us to walk across the street. And our small steps of obedience might carry us, one surrendered act at a time, to a more clarified or specific calling, like mine did, or they might simply characterize a life of love, which is, I believe, even more glorious. Regardless, we can know this: God can and will use us, right where we are, and right at this moment.

We can waste our days, waiting for that great opportunity or more convenient time—like when all the C19 social distancing ends, or we can quietly ask God, “What do you have for me today?”

I guarantee He’ll answer.

Speaking of living each moment for Christ, I recently shared a similar conversation with Dawn Scott Damon, host of the Arise Podcast. You can listen HERE.

Scripture taken from:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Before you go, I’ve got exciting news!

Wholly Loved Ministries is a non-profit organization that exists to help women live in Christ’s freedom. Donate now to support our mission or contact us to learn more.

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crumpled paper and a notepad and pen

Writers experience a great number of rejections, and some of those can be pretty harsh. Though I know to expect these “no thank yous,” seeing them stream through my inbox can leave me stunned. If I’m not careful, I can begin to question my abilities, my calling, and really, myself. We do that, don’t we? We own every negative experience, holding each one as proof that we’re somehow insufficient or defective.

A while back, after receiving numerous declines in a row, I shared my disappointment with my daughter. “But you’ve also received a lot of acceptances,” she said. I know she meant to encourage me, and for a moment, it did, but I knew my assurance needed to go much deeper. My confidence and value can’t be based on such transient standards as blue and teal background and text from posttemporary wins and losses. To rise above my fears, I must anchor myself, immovable, in the One who knows me, loves me, sees me, goes before me, has a plan for me, and remains with and in me.

A while back, God reminded me of this truth during a rather discouraging time. For about a year, it had felt as if I’d been turned down for every opportunity I pursued, even those I felt certain had been God led. The first rejection didn’t phase me too much. The second stung, but I determined to keep moving. By the third and fourth experience, however, lies I’d thought I’d long buried began to reemerge, assaulting my weakening heart, “You’re unwanted. You’re not good enough. Insufficient.”

Those lies can be really hard to silence sometimes, can’t they? They’d long held me captive, and normally would’ve plunged me into an all-day, if not longer, gloom. But not this time. As I sat there, initially feeding all those deceptive and toxic thoughts, I sensed God’s whisper, urging me to turn to truth, my most powerful weapon against all fear, fear of rejection included. And so I did.

Bible opened to Ephesians 1, I began to read. More than that, I soaked in every word, claiming each as my own. Through that passage, God spoke so clearly, reminding me of who I was. Though I felt rejected and discarded, insufficient, the Bible promised that was far from reality. Instead, I was and am God’s holy child (v. 1), blessed with every spiritual blessing (v. 3) chosen (v. 4) loved and adopted (v. 5), redeemed and lavished in grace.

But here’s my favorite verse: “In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will” (v. 11).

God, my Creator and redeemer, the One who promised to perfect that which concerns me (Ps. 138:8), works all things, my life included, according to His will. Therefore, when opportunities don’t arise or are denied, when others don’t appreciate my skills or my gifts, that doesn’t mean I’m insufficient or rejected. Rather, it indicates God has something else in mind. He’ll show me precisely what that something is, in His way and His timing.

Because He loves me.

What’s more, I can trust Him. I can trust His heart, His wisdom, His power, and His plan. And in the waiting, I can choose to receive the love and grace, the acceptance and equipping, He’s lavished freely upon me through His Son.

blue and gray background with text pulled from postI am far from insufficient. So are you. We are loved, redeemed, empowered, and called children of Christ destined for impact.

Additional resources:

Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst

Overcoming Fear of Rejection (video presentation, by Jennifer Slattery)

Learning to Shake of Rejection to Live in Freedom

When Others Rejection Us

If you struggle with fear of rejection and other fears, make sure to join Jennifer’s social media group, Faith Over Fear. You can find it HERE. You can find additional faith-building resources HERE. And keep an eye out for her Faith Over Fear podcast, releasing soon!

 

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When I’m feeling anxious, which is often, my husband says he’s going to “sit on me.” This isn’t some idle threat, nor a threat at all. Rather, his words convey a promise to, literally and figuratively, cover me with his strength and love, though he doesn’t actually sit. Instead, he rolls over on top of me, completely enveloping me in his much bigger and stronger self. Perhaps he’s attempting to squeeze out all my angst, or maybe, not knowing what else to do, simply wants me to know he’s there, sees my inner struggle, and that he cares.

The first time he “covered me” in his love occurred around eight years ago. It had been a tough week during which God had allowed some deep, long buried hurts from my past to resurface. In the middle of this painful, fragile time, I received a phone call that left me sobbing so hard, I couldn’t catch my breath. It was as if every hurt once suppressed suddenly rose to the surface. It’s hard to describe the intensity of my emotions except to say that it literally felt as if my heart were shredding .

And in the middle of my ugly cry, as I lay in bed, tears coursing down my cheeks, my husband came to my side and immediately rolled on top of me, squishing me in the strongest, firmest, most immovable hug I’d ever experienced. “I love you, I love you, I love you,” he said over and over. Then, after maybe the tenth time, realization hit: “That’s Jesus.”

I understood, with tear-quieting clarity, that Christ was loving me through my husband in that moment. Though this experience and the understanding that followed didn’t alleviate my pain, it did make it more bearable, because I knew I wasn’t alone. Through my husband, Jesus showed me that He saw me, loved me, was with me, and would carry me through.

When my emotions and circumstances feel out of control, I love to spend time reading through the Psalms. Many of them were written by a man named David who was hunted down for years and, at one point, forced to hide in a cave. Though proven to be a courageous warrior, many of his psalms reveal he also struggled with fear. But in the midst of his most terrifying circumstances, he never lost sight of what he knew to be true: that sovereign creator God was always with him, would never leave him, and would one day turn everything to good.

When others warned him of threats, encouraging him to flee, he responded, in essence, saying, “I trust God to protect me, so why should I run.” (Psalm 11:1) Even if a thousand dangers lurked in the shadows (Ps. 11:3), David refused to Quote pulled from post
cower, because he knew God was both intimately near (in His holy temple) and reigning from heaven (Ps. 11:4), where He could see all. Though life and David’s circumstances might have felt out of control, truth told him otherwise. He knew with unshakable certainty that the all-powerful, all-knowing God was with Him, in the middle of his greatest challenge, engulfing him in love and truth.

As David Guzik from the Enduring Word puts it, “When David considers the greatness of God, the care of God, and the vision of God, it all outweighs the danger.”

When we’re anxious, may we consider and meditate on those same unchangeable truths, and may we wrap ourselves deeply, completely, in God’s loving, protective embrace. Though this may not alleviate our anxiety, it will make it more bearable as we cling to the certainty that God will carry us through.

Let’s talk about this! Do you struggle with anxiety? If so, what are some things you’ve found to help?

If you haven’t already done so, consider joining my private Faith Over Fear Facebook group where I share daily challenges designed to help all of us move from fear to faith. You can join HERE.

I also invite you to join Wholly Loved’s private group where you can share your struggles, celebrations, doubts, and prayer requests and link arms with other women learning to anchor themselves in grace. You can find us HERE.

Additional resources you might find helpful:

Breaking the Fear Cycle by Maria Furlough

When Our World Feels Out of Control

Tracing Our Fears to Their Proclamations

Faith Over Fear Bible Reading Plan

Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves by Trillia J Newbell

 

 

 

text graphic with quote from Rick WarrenOur fears rarely remain stagnant. They either grow stronger over time or they diminish, depending on whether we feed or starve them. At least, that’s my experience. For years, I allowed anxious thoughts to control me. If asked, I would’ve said I couldn’t help this. I couldn’t just shut my mind off and avert it to something else. Or so I thought, but that was before I learned about neural plasticity.

Psychologists have discovered that our thoughts develop pathways, almost like how rainwater forms channels that deepen over time. I talk about this more fully in Wholly Loved’s Becoming His Princess Bible study (week four). In short, the more we entertain our fears, the deeper those pathways become, making it feel as if we have no rerouting control.

But Scripture indicates otherwise and encourages us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” This mental rerouting takes time, determination, prayer, and the power of the Holy Spirit, but it can be done. We have the power, in Christ, to annihilate self-defeating, paralyzing thought patterns and to anchor ourselves in truth.

Spiritual and emotional freedom is a process acquired, in ever-increasing depth, as we grow closer to Christ, learn to replace lies we’ve believed for truth, and yield to the perfecting Holy Spirit within.

My guest today, Janet Thompson, focuses on a crucial step in this process—releasing our concerns to God.

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And a fun bonus! She’s giving away a free copy of her latest release. She’ll select a winner randomly from the comments left on this blog.

Keeping Your Brave On

By Janet Thompson

We all have fears. Our hearts race. We tremble and experience a sinking sensation in our stomach.Frozen, we determine not to be brave this time.

Often fear is a healthy reaction to a dangerous situation. Other times, it’s rooted in past or recent trauma or chronic worry. Conquering a fear can offer countless new opportunities and accomplishments previously avoided, like applying for a new job after a string of rejections or flying to a Caribbean island after a lifetime of homebound staycations.

We each must face our fears if we want to move ahead in life. In my new book, Everyday Brave: Living Courageously as a Woman of Faith, I admit my long-time reaction to dogs—especially those that bark. My mom loved to tell how a small yelping beast chased me home when I was around five-years old. When she opened the front door, I ran upstairs crying and screaming. Though I no longer behave so dramatically, these furry creatures still tempt me to run the other way.

I live in a rural area where most people own dogs and I like to take walks. Heading out for a morning stroll, I pray the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), and in a particular area, recite the twenty-third Psalm. I refuse to let fear stop me from enjoying my exercise. With God’s help, I overcome fear and proclaim courage over myself.

My grandkids now have a cute little dog appropriately named Barkley. Gradually . . . bravely . . . I’m getting to know him and we’re becoming good friends.

Sometimes fear of loss or harm motivates a valiant act we wouldn’t otherwise consider. We’re usually brave in situations that involve something or someone valuable to us. If you’re a mother, you would probably do anything to defend your child. Even though you justifiably fear death, you’d risk everything for a loved one.

But what about brave men and women who lose their life protecting students from a school shooter? Where does their courage come from? Maybe it’s the vow they took as a police officer or first responder to protect others at any cost. A teacher or coach often considers students his or her responsibility, just like their own children. Honor, duty, and love for their fellow man or woman, more than their own safety, empower them to act heroically.

We hear stories of those who are asked, by gunpoint, if they’re a Christian. They might consider denying Christ to save their life but don’t. Love for Jesus more than love of life resides in their heart, overshadowing fear. They say yes, and the gun goes off.

God knows we live in a dangerous world, and He knows our concerns are real. But more than that, He knows the solution to every problem we’ll face and is bigger than our every threat. He invites us to “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7).

Though conquering fear and anxiety can be a complex issue, often our first step is to release—to intentionally hand our worries to God and to remind ourselves we’ve done so whenever they reemerge.

A friend recently shared wise words from Mary Anne Radmacher on a wall hanging in her home: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”

Like my fear of dogs, is fear stopping you from doing something God is prompting?

What fear has God helped you overcome? What fear does He want you to overcome? How can you intentionally reroute your thinking off of your fears and onto God’s power and promises instead?

Get to know Janet:

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 20 books. Her passion is to Janet's author biomentor other women in sharing their life experiences and God’s faithfulness. Her latest book Everyday Brave: Living Courageously as a Woman of Faith releases September 10, 2019 and is available for pre-order now!

She is also the author of Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness; Forsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.

Janet is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries.

Visit Janet and sign up for her weekly blog and free online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com.

Join Janet on Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, and Twitter.

cover image for Everyday BraveAbout Everyday Brave: In Everyday Brave, Janet explores the extraordinary bravery of fifty ordinary

women in the Bible. Twenty-eight women of today also give testimonies of realizing their strength and courage through God’s love. As Janet shares the stories of these women, she reminds us that the real heart and substance of bravery comes from unconditionally placing our hope in the only One who can give us the courage to stay the course.

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If you struggle with Fear, I encourage you to watch the week four video for Wholly Loved’s Becoming His Princess Bible study. You can find it HERE. I also encourage you to check out our daily Bible reading plan on YouVersion titled 30 Days of Emotional Health. Find it HERE.

 

Connect with Jennifer Slattery on Facebook and Instagram.

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My trust is most revealed in how readily I respond to God’s guidance. I’m quick to talk about His power, love, and sovereignty. But too often, my daily actions demonstrate my heart hasn’t truly owned those biblical truths. When I hesitate to respond to God’s prompting or flat-out disobey, I reveal a deep layer of doubt, one that, if not swiftly squashed, will ultimately prove crippling.

One that will, ultimately, rob me of the joy-and-peace-filled life God longs to give me.

Had I been with the Israelites the day God told Joshua, their commander, to lead them across the Jordan River and into the lush and plentiful land He’d long promised them, I worry I may have politely declined. My thoughts would’ve been consumed by the rushing waters before me, my inability to swim across, and the threat of death both posed. This wasn’t how the Israelites responded.

I believe the why rests in their backstory—in the consequences they’d experienced due to disobedience. Decades prior, God had miraculously liberated their parents from slavery, led them across the Red Sea on dry ground, and commanded them to take possession of Canaan’s rich pastureland. But the people had refused, out of fear. Because of this, they were forced to wonder through the desert for forty years. With each step, they were confronted afresh with their foolishness and reminded of God’s faithfulness. As He provided for them day by day, bringing water from rocks and honey-like wafers from heaven, they learned to trust in and depend on God.

And the Israelite’s children, now adults, had witnessed it all. They’d seen the suffering that came from rebellion and the blessings that came from obedience. Therefore, when faced with their own seemingly impassable body of water, they chose the latter.

In other words, they focused on their Savior, not the challenge before them.

This enabled them to move forward—to take hold of the blessing He’d prepared for them.

Scripture tells us, once Israel’s priests took that first literal step of faith, the waters miraculously stopped. As I read this account, recorded in Joshua 3, I was struck by the order of events. The priests stepped into the raging waters first, and they didn’t just dip their toe in. According to verse eight, they stood in the river. This demonstrated total commitment to obedience and total faith in God.

The result? God came through, as He always does.quote image pulled from post

We’ll regret countless choices made over the course of our life but I guarantee responding to God in faith won’t be one of them.

Is God asking you to take a step of faith? What challenges do you need to surrender to Him? How might focusing on Jesus rather than your problems or the obstacles ahead bolster your faith? Share your thoughts, examples, and stories with us in the comments below.

Additional resources you might find helpful:

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