Confidence in Uncertainty

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Photo by Geralt taken from pixabay.com

“I’m quitting my job.”

It was the last thing I expected to hear from my ultra dependable, hard-working husband. And yet, looking back, I should’ve seen this coming. He’d been beaten down and overworked for far too long. I should’ve responded to his statement by wrapping him up in a giant hug.

Instead I hit freak-out mode. He was our sole bread winner. We were living in an expensive suburb of California. I stayed home with our daughter, homeschooled her in fact. And had zero desire to change our education plans.

Fast forward a few months, and my husband handed our house keys to our realtor, in essence declaring to her, our neighbors, our friends and one another that we didn’t plan on returning.

He’d turned his work keys in the night before.

My husband still hadn’t found a job, though we were hopeful. And I was panicked, like ready to vomit panicked, though I largely kept my emotions in check–to Steve and my daughter. My prayers, however, were another matter entirely:

Help us, Lord! Fix this! Give me just a hint that all this will work out. 

Then, we packed our van, and headed for the Grand Canyon. For a family vacation.

Photo by Unsplash taken from Pixabay.com

Photo by Unsplash taken from Pixabay.com

Because everyone goes on vacation when unemployed right? Made perfect sense to me.

Not.

Long story short, God came through. My husband received a job offer that very day. Our house sold for full asking price. That very day. We went on our vacation and the Slattery family lived happily ever after.

Not. So not. Because life is full of upheavals, uncertainty, set-backs and gut-churning panic moments. But over the years, having made it through numerous free falls and winding hikes, I’ve learned how to find peace in times of uncertainty. All I needed to do was follow–cling to, believe in, and live out–God’s Word. Because His promises will never, ever fail. 

The next time you’re facing a panicked moment, follow the steps laid out in Psalm 37:

TrustVersepic3 Trust in the Lord and do good.
    Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
    Trust him, and he will help you.

Be still in the presence of the Lord,
    and wait patiently for him to act.

23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
    for the Lord holds them by the hand. (NLT)

Trust. Not in our circumstances, our spouse, our savings account or that job, but trust in the Lord. Remember His character. He is always and only faithful, loving and true. Remember His promises and how He has proved them true for you in the past. Center your mind on truth–what you know from God’s Word, and refuse to engage negative, fretful thinking.

Do good. God has a good, eternal work for us to do each day. Some days that ministering to a neighbor or serving the needy. Other times it’s building up our family and pointing them to Christ. Consider that God may have put you in the position you’re in, as uncomfortable or frightening as it may be, to touch a heart or reveal His grace through you. So do good. Serve Him in the hard and the easy. And take joy in knowing your purpose extends beyond you and your circumstances. 

Delight in Christ. Draw near to Him through prayer, music, and Bible reading. Soak up His presence; let His Holy Spirit fill you completely, knowing He will be strong on your behalf. Don’t let the uncertainty of the moment rob you of the sweet treasure of resting in His presence.

Commit everything to Christ. I could likely write an entire book unpacking this one but I’ll sum it up with one word: surrender. Surrender the moment, the situation, yourself, your heart and plans, to God. Leave it all in His hands, knowing He’s working at this moment on your behalf.

Be still and wait patiently. He will fight for you. He is working out a plan for your life, for your family, for your marriage–for whatever you’re facing. You won’t move things along any faster by fretting, but you may when you take the time to be still in His presence, soaking up His strength and listening for His direction. At least, when you do that, there’s a much better chance you won’t do anything to make matters worse through a panicked reaction.

Follow. If you belong to Christ, your spiritual ears have been quickened so that you can recognize His voice (John 10:16). Scripture promises God will and does speak to us (Isaiah 30:21). Psalm 16:7 says, “Even at night my heart instructs me.” So listen. Then obey.

livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this! What are some ways you grab hold of peace when life feels crazy and uncertain? Do you have any go-to verses you like to pray or meditate on? Any songs you find especially helpful?

I’ve been listening to the song below again and again. And again. It’s so beautiful, and a great reminder that no matter what we face, it is well. Because God will never leave us nor forsake us and all of His promises prove true.

For those in the Des Moines area, you can join me for the following:

May 13th: The Power of Grace

Time: 6:30pm

Location: Radiant Church located at 1300 Metro East Drive

Des Moines, IA

May 14th: Book signing, Barnes and Noble, Des Moines, IA. BooksigningposterforDesMoinesB&N-page-001

1pm-4pm

Where: 4550 University Avenue, West Des Moines, IA 50266

(Is it me or does the signing jpg to the right appear blurry? Hm … might need to fix that!)

I also invite you to join me in prayer. On Thursday the 12th, after an interview with “I’ve Been There Ministries,” I’ll be speaking to the men at Bethel House shelter. Please pray that they will sense God’s deep love for them and they’ll draw near to Him in saving faith.

The next night, I’m speaking at Radiant Church, also in Des Moines. We’re hoping women served by Jericho Ministries, a ministry that reaches out to women working in the adult entertainment industry in the Des Moines  Metro, will attend my talk on Friday. Please pray that they will be moved to come and that through my talk they’ll sense God’s deep love for them and will be driven to grab hold of the freedom available through Christ.

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Making Plans Lightly

Wednesday night, after sharing my prayer requests with my small group at church, one of the ladies giggled and said, “Ah, so you’re giving God your agenda.” I had to laugh because this article about making plans lightly in order to be more pliable to God’s leading was already in the rough draft stage. I laughed even harder the entire drive home as I thought of countless other times I’ve done the same thing.

I like to give God a to-do list. And sometimes (okay, so most times) I’ll even tell Him how I think things should be done, so focused on my ant-sized view I forget that God’s perspective is galaxies beyond mine. And yet, when I look back over my life–the six moves my husband and I have made in our fifteen years together, my daughter’s journey from homeschool to Christian school and soon to be public school, the various churches we’ve been a part of and experiences we’ve had along the way–I realize that none of it has gone according to plan. My plan, anyway. And yet, in hindsight, I wouldn’t change a moment. Even the times when things appeared so bleak I thought my heart would break.

Okay, so maybe I would change part of it. Not the circumstances, but my reactions. And my long-term agenda, because every time I allowed myself to get caught up in plans of where I’m going, I lost sight of God. And in those brief moments when my false expectations and human ambitions crowded out His voice, the emptiness and restlessness that ensued was worse than any trial I have faced. And yet, conversely, when I allow myself to rest in God’s hand, the peace has been amazing. Enough to keep me turning my eyes upward regardless of what is before me.

The Bible says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” And all I have to say is THANK YOU, GOD! I think I would be amazed if I were to catch a glimmer of all the sand traps God has directed me away from! Although I suppose we have the choice whether or not to follow. We could go our own way, could we not? Shove our fists in the air, shake our heads, laughing to ourselves at how foolish God must be to think that job, that move, that ministry, is worthy of our time. He’s just the Creator of the universe, after all. Surely we, His human creations, know far better how to manage our own lives!

The other day as I was finalizing an interview of gospel singer Lynda Randle, something she said impacted me. (Don’t worry, you can read it on Monday. I’m putting it up on Reflections.) She talked about how she “fell” into singing. There wasn’t an earth shattering voice pouring down from heaven saying, “Lynda Randle, thou shalt sing.” True, God had tugged on her heart, drawing her closer to Him, and she responded to that call–the call to total surrender, willingly. But she had no idea singing would be part of it. She stepped out, in faith, willing to follow God wherever He directed, before she caught sight of the road.

Lynda’s obedience has led to great success. Pop on over to her website and take a quick glance at her upcoming tour schedule to see for yourself. But that doesn’t mean obedience will always lead to success. And least, not success as the world would coin it.  We may never have that five hundred thousand dollar house, or New York Times Best Seller, and if we filter our views through the eyes of the world, we may be fooled into thinking we have failed. But if we are firmly planted on the path God has designed for us, without venturing to the right or the left, we will experience success. And there is joy in that. When our eyes are on our Leader and not all the off-roads trying to distract us along the way.

One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

My understanding, my plans, even my desires, are tainted and distorted. How can I possibly expect to see clearly? But if I trust in God, and allow Him to guide me, and at times, when the road gets extra rough, to carry me, He will never let me fall. He will fulfill the plans He has for me.

So what do I do when earthly expectations cloud my vision and allow dissatisfaction or disappointment to seep into my heart? I draw closer to God and let His Spirit fill me until it has pushed all else aside. As you probably know by now, music is a huge part of my prayer life. As I wrote this, two songs came on that really spoke to me. I’m going to add a link to them here, along with another one I find especially fitting…

Give It All Away

My Savior, My God (I’m not skilled to understand)

You Never Let Go