Trusting God’s Timing

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 uncertain, 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 His 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.

 

 

 

Finding God Amid Our Uncertainty

bridge picture with Proverbs 2:7-8

Imagine having deep, soul-quieting peace, regardless of the circumstance. Imagine being so rooted in Christ and His will, every step on a foggy and unclear path felt certain. Imagine experiencing deep peace even in the middle of great uncertainty. I’m convinced this is where God wants to take us, and He does so, primarily, by drawing us closer to Him.

Proverbs 2:6-11 puts it this way:

For the Lord gives wisdom;
from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for He guards the course of the just
and protects the way of His faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.

This passage assures us of a few things. First, while we can gain insight from a myriad of places—books, teachers, friends—all wisdom comes from one place: God. Most of us recognize this intellectually, but do we live this practically? When uncertainty arises, where do we go first? Our friend, spouse, or trusted spiritual leader, or to Christ? And what voice do we give most weight to? What’s more, what voice do we most have the courage to wait on?

That’s what I find most challenging. I’m quick to seek God’s guidance, but can lose footing in the waiting. Life can feel so urgent. I fear, if I don’t act now, I’ll miss an opportunity or the situation will implode beyond repair. But this type of thinking demonstrates I’ve lost sight of a few things, such as the fact that God is so much bigger than me, that His love is greater than my mistakes and ability to understand Him, and that He will, always, guide me toward His very best.

That’s the second assurance this passage in Proverbs provides. The Lord truly does give us wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. He’s not stingy. If His desire is that you and I remain in step with Him, will He not give us whatever we need in order to do so? But this wisdom doesn’t come from periodic and impersonal downloads as we’re frantically running about. It comes as we live in relationship with Christ. Day by day, as we read Scripture and closer to Him, He begins to transform our thinking and desires, pouring His wisdom into our hearts.

Finally, this Proverbs passage reminds us of God’s grace as He lovingly leads us toward His very best. As we wait for this transformation to occur, for truth to replace our areas of deception and wisdom our folly, we can trust this: Our God is a good, good Father who doesn’t treat us as our sins and stupid errors deserve. Instead, He gently, persistently nudges us along the way. Scripture makes two truths clear: God has a plan for us and has taken full responsibility of that plan.

Oh, we can rebel against it. We can seek out our plans over God’s, and rob ourselves of the peace, fulfillment, and joy our souls were created for.

But if we’re honestly trying to honor Christ, we can trust Him to direct our steps and protect our way. In the meantime, we keep woman on beach with text from poststepping, with our eyes on Him, maintaining a heart of surrender, prioritizing our relationship with Him above all. Knowing He’s with us, going before us, standing beside us and behind us. He encompasses us in His love, and His love, when received to the depths of our soul, truly does have the power to cast out all fear, fear of the unknown included.

Let’s talk about this! Pause to consider your journey thus far. Review where you’ve been and all the steps, some that perhaps, in hindsight proved vital, though you were unaware of their impact at the time? If you’re in a period of uncertainty now, what truths regarding who God is and what He’s promised can help you find peace? And perhaps most importantly, what is one thing you can do this week to grow closer to the God who knows you, loves you, and has an amazing, hope-filled plan for you?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If today’s post resonated with you, I encourage you to listen to my Faith Over Fear podcast episode titled the Courage to Face Uncertainty. You can find it HERE.

If you’re in a place of waiting, I encourage you to listen to my Faith Over Fear episode titled: The courage to Wait. You can find it HERE.

Before you go, and especially for those currently navigating challenging relationships, I encourage you to watch my latest iBelieve video devotion. You can find it HERE.

For those struggling with the pain and fatigue of chronic illness, I encourage you to read my latest Crosswalk on finding joy amid chronic illness 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.

Revealing What’s in Our Hearts This Election Season

Social media reveals our hearts quote

If you want to know what’s truly in a person’s heart, what they believe and value most, simply scroll through their social media feed. Especially during election season or a global pandemic. This holds true for all of us, myself included. My Facebook engagement reveals where I’m placing my trust. In a political system driven by fallible humans? In myself and my ability to type out a strong and convincing argument? Or in Jesus and the eternal life He grants us?

I understand all the apparent chaos in our world triggers anxiety. And how do most of us respond to these unsettling emotions? Most often, we grasp for control, or perhaps I should say, to our illusion of it. But what if our most fervent, passionate efforts are hindering our greatest call to know God intimately and make Him known?

About ten years ago, I engaged in conversations with an atheist. Initially, our discussions felt productive. Soon, however, our interaction turned contentious as we both sought to convince the other of our vastly different positions. Not only did my most logical arguments prove ineffective; but my steadily increasing pride, evident by my complete lack of grace, distorted Christ in me.

I’m certain this grieved God’s heart. I misrepresented my Savior, the One who had entrusted me with the very words of life. In my desire to be right and oh so wise, I’d forgotten that “wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17, ESV). Paraphrase of James 3:17

God’s wisdom is:

  • Pure, uncontaminated with sin, including self-righteousness and pride. This goes much deeper than any outward behavior to a purity that extends to the core of our being.

 

  • Demonstrative of a wholeness that stems from operating completely in God’s will.

 

  • Gentle, which in this case, means moderate and equitable.

 

  • Someone who truly listens and seeks to understand.

 

  • Full of mercy and good fruits, the kind that stems from our deep and constant connection with Christ. (John 15:1-5).

 

In my interaction with that atheist, I wasn’t yielding to Christ and His power within me, nor was I worshiping the Creator and Ruler of all. Instead, I was worshipping myself. The result? Nothing good. The man didn’t move one step closer to the Giver of life, the only one with the power to change his heart and his perspective. If anything, I fear I may have pushed the atheist further from Christ.

And while I won’t receive a do-over, each day God does grant me a “try again.” He offers that to us all. What if we considered our social media feeds something of training grounds as we learned to rely more on the Holy Spirit and less on ourselves. As we do, we’ll more consistently reveal all those beautiful qualities Scripture promises He births within us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

My spiritual maturity is most clearly revealed not in how well I quote verses or how logically I phrase biblical arguments. Rather, I reveal the depth of my love for Christ and my worship of Him in how well I love. May God’s most precious fruit first fill me so fully, there’s room for nothing else, then flow from me. In this, may others “taste and see that the Lord” truly “is good” (Psalm 34:8, ESV).

How, then, can I become more spiritually mature—before my fingers race across my keyboard?

I need to:

  1. Prioritize my time with Christ. I can’t love like Him apart from Him.
  2. Find and stay connected with an accountability partner—who watches my social media engagement. My husband fills this role for me.
  3. When tempted to engage in an argument, ask myself why. Most often, I find my pride has been pricked, and Scripture says God opposes the proud. I certainly don’t want that!
  4. Pull away to pray when I first feel my muscles tense. And here’s what’s great about this. The more we scroll past posts and comments that irritate us or tempt us to argue, the easier it becomes to do so in the future. But the converse is also true. The more we jump in and allow ourselves to get riled up, the more frequent our contentious responses will become.
  5. Meditate on the cross and my need for it. That always tends to refocus my priorities on the things of eternity.

Join me. This election season, may we continually invite God to examine and purify our hearts, so that we honor the One who gave His life so that we might live and then proclaim that life to others.

We may also need to set boundaries as we work to guard our peace and prioritize our time with Jesus. If you struggle with this, you might find my latest Thriving With Chronic Illness podcast episode helpful: Setting Boundaries P. 2

Making the Most of Every Eternally-Glorious Moment

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.

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Blessed Obedience –– Guest Post

If God told us ahead of time, where our steps of obedience would lead, I’m certain we’d surrender to His leading. Well, assuming everything turned out as we hoped. But then, therein lies the problem, right? We know God is good, loving, faithful, and true, and we know He will ultimately work all things out for our good, if not today, then in heaven. But what if the journey He calls us to between now and then is hard quote on obedience pulled from post with a sunset backgroundand painful? Does that question ever hinder your response? It has mine. But perhaps there’s a more important question we need to ask: what if, in our disobedience, we miss something amazing and life-changing? What if we miss the very thing God created us for?

Blessed Obedience
By Martha Rogers

“You need a change!” I slammed my notebook on my desk and plopped into my chair. One more confrontation with a principal about something over which I had no control led me to this angry comment. I didn’t realize the impact those words would have on life or where they would eventually lead me.

I taught at a public high school and loved teaching, but the principal’s temperament and his behavior with another teacher troubled me. In addition, my responsibilities with school and family gave me no time to pursue my ultimate dream of being a published writer. As I prayed about the situation, God confirmed my thoughts. “Yes, you need a change.” The words were as clear as if He sat next to me.

Our church had opened a private school for students from preschool to high school, and I thought about teaching there, but it would mean a cut in pay whereas transferring to another school in the district or going to another district wouldn’t.

With more prayer for guidance, the Lord tugged on my heart and pulled me toward the private school. I still held doubts, but after more prayer, I could no longer deny the call God laid on my heart. In 1981, I obeyed, applied at the private school, was accepted, and resigned my position in the public school.

At the time, I didn’t think of it as obedience. Instead, I saw the opportunity to get out of an unpleasant non-Christian environment. I loved the new school and the people there. The teachers became good friends who were willing to help each other and pray for each other. The teenage students I taught were typical teens with all different behaviors and attitudes, but for the most part easy to teach. I even had time to begin work on a novel I had in my head and wanted to write.

A few months ago, our First Place 4 Health group began a study called, Seek God First. One of the lessons was on obedience. On one day, the writer discussed the blessings and the rewards of obedience. She asked the question, “Has there been a time in your life when you were obedient to something God spoke to about?” That question took me back to God’s direction to change schools. As I looked at my life since that spring of 1981, I began to see that if I had not followed His direction in obedience, I would have missed so much He had planned for my life.

I had the opportunity to go back to college and earn my MEd in Curriculum with an emphasis on Creative Writing. I thought seventh and ninth grade English and loved it. However, after ten years, a new headmaster came in and told me, along with a number of other teachers, that our contracts would not be renewed.

Although I was able to procure a college teaching position because of my graduate degree, I held disappointment and resentment against God in my heart for a year. During that year God brought circumstances into my life I couldn’t have handled if I’d still been teaching full time. Once again God spoke to my heart and I realized I’d been grieving the Holy Spirit while being in the exact place God needed me to be at that time.

I released my resentment and prayed for the Lord to show me what He wanted me to do and where He wanted me to go. He started me on the next part of the journey which would take me through major ups and downs until I finally reached where God wanted me to be.

While teaching at the college level, I worked on my novel, joined writing groups and attended writing woman writingconferences. I also battled breast cancer, but continued to write and teach as I went into remission. When the cancer returned, I sensed God wanted me to retire. I did and went through more treatment, and the cancer was healed.

Now I had the time to work on the novel, attend more writing conferences, and become more active in a local and national writing group. I met other wonderful authors and the woman who became my literary agent. I also had several magazine articles published, and stories selected for various compilations.

In 2009, another ten years after retirement, I received my first contract for a historical novel that led to six books in that series and two more four book series. In the next ten years I went on to publish over fifty novels and novellas.

If I hadn’t obeyed, I wouldn’t have had the time to return to school and earn my master’s degree. Without that degree, I wouldn’t have been able to teach at the college level when God took me from the private school. Then God gave me the time to work on my writing and attend conferences and to move forward.

Now, almost forty years later, I sit at my computer pounding out words in fulfillment of a dream I had as a child. God fulfilled my dream because I chose obedience to His call no matter where it led.

Let’s talk about this! Has there been a time when you went ahead with plans of your own without truly asking God what He wanted you to do? What was the result?

Why is it sometimes so hard for us to listen to what we know is right, but our hearts rebel against doing it?

Get to know Martha!

Martha Rogers is a free-lance writer and multi-published author from Realms Fiction of Charisma Media Martha Roger's Headshotand Winged Publications. She was named Writer of the Year at the Texas Christian Writers Conference in 2009. She is a member of ACFW and writes the weekly Verse of the Week for the ACFW Loop. ACFW awarded her the Volunteer of the Year in 2014. Her first electronic series from Winged Publications, Love in the Bayou City of Texas, debuted in the spring of 2015.  Martha is a frequent speaker for writing workshops and the Texas Christian Writers Conference. She is a retired teacher and lives in Houston with her husband, Rex. Their favorite pastime is spending time with their twelve grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Visit her online HERE.

Check out her latest release, Legacy of Deception:

Cover image for Legacy of DeceptionA case of mistaken identity, a long hidden family secret, a plan to take away a woman’s wealth, and a determined young woman’s plan to stop it, all lead to a family showdown when evil is uncovered and deceptions are.exposed that will change lives forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When God Speaks––Where Obedience Can Lead

Quote on following God's plan by Francis Chan

We’ve all sensed God nudging us to do something that appeared to make no sense. Maybe we sensed Him to pray for a stranger, speak certain words to a friend, or step into an area that you feel countless others in your circle would be more qualified for.

How do you respond in those situations? When you sense that nudge into the unknown, what fears most often hold you back? That you’ll fail? That you’ll embarrass yourself? That you’ll be misjudged or misunderstood? That you’ve heard God wrong and therefore will be venturing forward alone?

Years ago, after Wholly Loved’s first women’s conference, a woman approached me. Standing in that busy and noisy atrium, though I struggled to understand her words, her eyes and voice carried an unmistakable intensity. God had gripped her heart that day and planted within her the first seeds of her assignment. He wanted her to speak for Him.

But here’s the thing. At the time, she could barely speak. She’d suffered two back-to-back strokes less than a year prior, strokes that should’ve taken her life but instead, stole her mobility and her speech. By the time of the conference, she’d relearned how to walk, but was in the midst of retraining her brain to talk. As a result, she stammered and stuttered significantly through each sentence.

God was calling this woman, who could barely get her words out that afternoon, to stand on a stage and speak for Him. Can you imagine the inner angst, the wrestling, the questions that must’ve swirled through her brain as she sat in the audience, sensing God’s call? Maybe even fighting His call? The call to speak in general, but also the call to speak to me that day? Even if she was convinced, without a doubt, that God was asking her to do both, she had to worry how I might respond. At least, I would’ve. And then, assuming I got up and began to put feet to His call, I worry I would’ve talked myself out of obedience with every step I took.

But not Sarah Conaway, tri-founder of Stromies, a ministry to stroke survivors. She rose on her less-than-Anonymous Quote on looking forward with hopesteady legs, navigated around the throng of women gathering in the atrium, waited in line to talk to me, and then looked me in the eye and boldly said, “I want to do what you do.” She wanted to share her story, to proclaim, to whomever would listen, all that God had done.

The woman who was struggling to speak and likely had moments when she wondered if she’d be able to do so coherently ever again, wanted to publicly speak for Jesus.

That was less than five years, and God has done amazing things during that time. Sarah is indeed speaking for Him. Her story has quite literally reached across the globe. Her ministry has nearly 2,500 Instagram followers and 1,300 followers on Facebook. She’s spoken at Rotary, Kiwanis clubs, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, was interviewed on her local Channel 3 station, and has spoken to numerous support groups.

And all because, even when obedience made no sense, she told God yes.

What’s God asking you to do? What’s hindering your obedience? Give those fears, all of them, to God. Give Him all your doubts, then, after you’ve done so, give Him your obedience. Your surrender, trusting your faithful, loving God to lead you to His very best.

Visit Sarah’s ministry HERE and find Stromies on Facebook HERE. Watch for Jennifer Slattery’s upcoming Thriving With Chronic Illness to hear her full story and how God’s using her. If you’re sensing a nudge from God but are struggling to find the courage to move forward, make sure to listen to Jennifer’s Faith Over Fear Episode on fighting fear of failure. You can find it HERE.

For those looking for perfect, timeless Father’s Day gifts, read her latest article on iBelieve HERE.

Fear No More–Finding Eternal Significance in Christ

In my young adult years, I wasted so much energy, so much peace, trying to prove my worth. Driven by a hidden fear of insignificance, I chased after one goal after another and defined myself by external and subjective standards. As a result, I developed a rather shallow sense of purpose and believed the lie that I was what I did. Therefore, my heart inevitably shifted toward pride or insecurity, and it often bounced between the two numerous times each day.

But then, sickness temporarily robbed me of my ability to perform all those tasks I thought defined me. Roles shifted rapidly in our home as the caretaker became the one receiving care. There were days I felt worthless, like a burden and a drain. I hadn’t learned to live anchored in my Christ-centered identity.

It took temporarily losing myself—who I thought I was—to recognize and rest in where my true significance lay. One afternoon, battling pain and fatigue, I asked God, in frustration, why He wouldn’t heal me. After all, couldn’t I serve Him better well—strong and energetic? Just imagine all the studies I could lead, the women I could mentor, the outreach events I could help plan!

But as I sat in His presence, He spoke heart-soothing truth to my soul. He hadn’t created me to launch ministries, raise perfect children, or even to embark on oversea missions. Now, He may indeed call me to do those things, but that wasn’t why He gave me breath. Instead, He formed me by His loving hands for His pleasure and His glory. That’s where my true significance lies—in Him—and I can live that out, no matter my circumstances or limitations.

When I was sick, that meant sitting in His presence every day and connecting, Father to daughter, and knowing in those moments, that was enough. I didn’t have to perform, impress, strive, or to stress. I simply needed to live loved and to love God and others in return.

As a mom, I get this. I’m crazy proud of my daughter, of all she’s accomplished and overcome, but her external achievements aren’t what bring me greatest pleasure. Rather, my heart fills with joy whenever she turns off her phone, sets her agenda aside, and simply sits with me. Those are the moments I cherish most. She doesn’t have to impress me or present a polished image of herself. She doesn’t have to check off numerous sacrificial tasks to enter my presence. She simply needs to come, and when she does, I welcome her near. In fact, were she to forfeit time with me to achieve what she hoped might impress me, I’d be saddened.

I suspect God would say the same. Though He longs for our obedience, of course, and for us to live our lives surrendered to Him, He desires us most of all. He paid a high price—death on the cross—to remove the sin that separated us and to draw us close. Ephesians The price Christ paid to draw us near1:5 says, “God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure” (NLT, emphasis mine).

Can anything be more glorious, more fulfilling, more significant than that—to bring all mighty God, Creator and Ruler of all, pleasure? According to Scripture, that’s precisely what we did the moment we received Christ’s grace.

During my time of illness, as I daily rested in Him, simply connected with Him, I sensed and echoed His pleasure. I received pleasure not from anything God had done or might do but simply through my union with Him.

During those soul-to-Christ encounters, God reminded me of my second yet equally important purpose—to make Him known. Though I’d always assumed I did that best through some grand act of service, perhaps leading Vacation Bible School or speaking from a stage, He helped me see how my weakness, my steady leaning on Him, could provide the purest proclamation of the gospel.

God wasn’t asking me to be a super-hero Christian displaying super-human strength. Rather, He was asking me to demonstrate a super-hero, ever-present, ever-loving God able to carry me through every struggle and triumph. That’s what it means to bring Him glory. The gospel is most clearly revealed through our dependence on Him, and sometimes that dependence shows clearest when we feel as if our significance, at least as our culture might define it, has slipped away.

My identity is in Christ—I am loved by and belong to Him, and that will never change.

My significance is in Christ—He defines my worth and assigns my purpose.

What’s more, my purpose is to know Christ and make Him known, and I can do that when well, when sick, when energetic, and when tired.

Let’s talk about this! In what ways have you allowed your identity, value, and purpose to become tangled? Have you based your significance on the roles you fill or tasks you perform? How might God be calling you to go deeper—in Him? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Connect with Jennifer Slattery on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, join her private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group, listen to her Faith Over Fear podcast HERE

Additional resources:

What Makes My Life Significant by John Piper

Finding Significance in Christ by Abiding Above Ministries

Who Am I? A New Way to Define Identity by Melissa Crutchfield

Visit Jennifer’s Faith Over Fear page for more faith-building resources

 

Fear of Missing Out–Finding Faith in God’s Leading

Woman walking down dirt road

Thirteen years ago, as we packed our minivan from top to bottom to move literally across the country, I felt as if I was losing myself. I thought my dreams, which God had slowly birthed within me as I served in a close-knit Southern California church, would languish then die.

Ten years later, when one transition after another crippled an organization I wrote for, my journey once again felt unsteady. Fearful to lose something that brought such fulfillment, I began striving and stressing and fighting to control every area of my career. As a result, every opportunity left me with more confusion than clarity, more exhaustion than hope or joy.

It felt as if I was standing at a main trail head with a thousand paths extending before me trying to discern which one would lead to my desired destination. And in my inability to make a decision, to rest in my Father’s loving and faithful arms, I chose them all, or at least, as many as I could, inevitably forfeiting my joy, peace, and effectiveness.

Ironically, my fear of missing out—of that perfect opportunity or experience or role—caused me to miss out on those things that truly mattered. Eventually, everything became stressful and burdensome, like I was constantly kicking against high tide.

Defeated and discouraged, I told God I was tired of the work, of the stress, and the pressure. I told Him I wanted to quit.

He agreed, though He didn’t want me to quit writing and serving. He wanted me to quit striving. He wanted me to rest in Him. To trust that He had a plan and was big enough and strong enough and loving enough to bring that plan to pass.

He’s strong enough to perfect all that concerns me, all that concerns my loved ones, and all that concerns the women I serve.

Like Psalm 139:16 promises, “all the days ordained for me were written in [His} book before one of them came to be” Psalm 139:16 with sunrise background(NIV).

If I believe this to be true, for me and those I love, I have no reason to fear or to strive. I simply need to listen, surrender, and obey.

Whenever I begin to feel exhausted and overwhelmed, whenever I’m tempted to chase after that next shiny or exciting thing, I have to ask myself why. Because I’ve self-analyzed enough to know there’s almost always something deeper going on—some hole I’m hoping to fill, wound I’m trying to numb, or fear I’m trying to avoid.

True peace comes when I humbly pray, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).

Search me: Penetrate to my depths, to those deepest, most hidden parts of me. Expose my self-deception and faulty perception and flood every shadowed crevice within my heart with Your truth-bearing, lie-expelling light.

Know my anxious thoughts: Reveal to me what I’m really thinking and those nagging lies that fuel distrust. Lies such as: God doesn’t care, doesn’t hear, or lacks the desire and power to lead me and those I love.

Lead me in the way everlasting: Purge everything false, everything hurtful or idolatrous, so that Your faith-bolstering truth may reign. Lead me in Your way, for only You and the things of You are eternal, and only You know how to feed and fill my heart.

Let’s talk about this. How often does fear of missing out—the fear that you or someone you love will miss out on something—drive your behavior?

For example, fear that:

  • turning down that extra project will cost you that promotion
  • not signing your child up for that traveling sports team will cost them popularity and social connections
  • declining that invitation will place you on the outskirts of your peer group
  • setting boundaries in that relationship will prevent you from getting married or having a family
  • should you prioritize financial wisdom over that vacation, the opportunity may never come again

But perhaps an even better question: Are you living like a called, empowered, and loved child of the sovereign God or like an orphan?

What is one truth you can meditate on this week to live more consistently as God’s chosen and deeply loved child and move deeper into freedom?

Additional resources:

Four Ways to Fight Fear of Missing Out by Jon Bloom

Have No Fear of Missing Out by

Countering Fear of Missing Out by Jennifer Slattery

Visit Jennifer’s Faith Over Fear page HERE for additional resources.

Let’s talk about this! Do you struggle with a fear of missing out, and if so how? How does remembering Christ is control and has a plan for you help you move from fear to faith.

Connect with Jennifer Slattery on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, join her private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group, Logo image for Faith Over Fearlisten to the first two episodes of her Faith Over Fear podcast HERE and find her free Bible reading plan HERE.

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.comThe “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

When Anxiety Tries to Win

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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

 

 

 

Refreshing Our Prayer Life Through Remembering

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Have you ever paused to consider where you might be now if not for God’s intervention? I need to do this regularly, otherwise I become complacent, prideful, and entitled. I begin to focus on minor inconveniences—a traffic jam that makes me late for a meeting, or an unexpected bill that eats my coffee fund—rather than Christ and eternity.

Worse, I forget to listen and I resist surrender. I deceive myself into thinking I have all the answers, that I alone hold the outcome of my future. And with every forgetful step, my pride rises up, urging me to follow the god of self.

I know that god well, and I know precisely where she leads. Her progression from selfishness to isolation and broken relationships. Uncontrolled finances. Unresolved hurts and unchecked faulty perceptions. Lord, help me remember those dark, confused places and every battle You won on my behalf.

Perhaps that’s why Scripture often encourages us to remember and warns us not to forget.

In Deuteronomy 6:12 the Israelites were told to “take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” In Psalm 78, we learn the people rebelled because “They forgot what [God] had done, the wonders He had shown them” (NIV). But perhaps most powerfully are Christ’s words, spoken the night before He died, when taking the bread and the wine: “Do this in remembrance of Me” Luke 22:19 (NIV).

Because in the remembering:

I find courage to relinquish my grip, knowing I’ll always land firmly in my Savior’s hands. He’s proven Himself faithful again and again. He’s demonstrated, through my blunders and moments of surrender that His knowledge greatly exceeds mine and His ways truly are best.

I find strength to keep moving, regardless of how steep the climb. Why? Because God’s helped me conquer similar, perhaps even rockier, terrain before, and the strenuous hike always pales compared to the beauty experienced upon the mountain’s peak.

I gain peace as I contemplate God’s steadfast presence and all the years and days and hours that He faithfully walked beside me. I couldn’t always hear Him, and there were times I couldn’t feel Him, and yet, He was there. Always, just as He promised. And also, just as He promised, He will be with me now, today, and tomorrow, and forever more.

Through remembering, praise and strength fill my heart and soul, and the joy of Christ floods my being.

And so I wonder, why don’t I practice this discipline more?

Sometimes my prayers turn perfunctory. I go through my list and often repeat the same requests day after day. While there’s nothing wrong with asking for God’s help—in fact, He bids us to lay all our concerns before Him– I long for more.

Throughout my daughter’s life, she’s asked for many things, and rightly so. We fed her, clothed her, purchased gifts and paid for experiences with us and her friends. When she’s concerned, hurting, or frightened, I hope her father and I are the first people she comes to. I hope she knows we’ll always draw her close and will never turn her away.

But when she simply comes, to connect and spend time with me—those moments are priceless.

The other day, my daughter sent me a message that said simply, “You’re a good mom.” I took a screen shot of her words image of message from daughterand saved them, and I suspect I’ll read them again and again. Not because I feel insecure or even need her validation. Rather, I cherish her and the relationship we’ve cultivated. That was what she expressed in her message—our relationship.

But more than that, I cherish her heart. Her grateful, kind, loving heart.

Is that perhaps how God feels, when we offer Him similar praise? When we pause to reflect, to remember, who He is and what He’s done. When we really take time to sit in those memories, to let them bolster our hearts and our souls.

What are some ways you pause to remember? How do you make those moments times of intimacy between you and your Savior? What are some ways you keep your prayer life fresh and vibrant? Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comments below. And make sure to connect with Jennifer Slattery on Facebook and Instagram.

Additional resources:

What Does the Bible Say About Remembering on Open Bible

Remembering Then But Now on Bible.org

A Holy Reminder by Jana Kelley

Remembering God’s Blessings by Dr. Charles Stanley