Though You Trip and Fall

The other night, my husband and I were talking about the state of our marriage, and we’ve noticed a surprising trend. SteveandIWhen times get tough, we grow closer. Now, I know, according to the oft spoken clichés, that’s the way it’s supposed to happen, right? But I suspect it doesn’t always. During times of trial, families either grow closer or farther apart. In my opinion, the deciding factor is whether or not they have God’s holy, wise guidance and ever-present hand. Well, that and whether we honestly give Him an obedient ear. Because God is about unity. Peace. Love. Intimacy. And when you have God-given intimacy with those around you, an amazing thing happens. Though you fall, though you trip seven or seventy-seven times, you will get up again. Though it feels as if the world is spinning ruthlessly around you, you can and do endure.

I’ve shared, and will share again, this has been a rough year for our family, perhaps the most difficult we’ve faced instorm some time. For a while, it felt like the storm clouds pressing around us would never lift. But they did, and we’ve stepped out of our storm shelter stronger, closer to one another and to God, wiser, with one more wound healed and one more emotional layer peeled back.

The other day, as I was walking through our neighborhood, the sun bathing my face in warmth, the temperatures a pleasant fifty degrees despite the fact that we are in the middle of winter, I realized I was joyful. At peace. It’d been a while since I’d truly felt joy. And in that moment, I realized my storm had lifted, and reminded myself that storms don’t last forever. While we’re in them, they feel as if they will never let up, or as if they will tear us to shreds. But they won’t, because God won’t let them. And one day, they will lift and we will again feel the soothing warmth of the sun on our face.

Because though we trip, though we stumble, though we slide backward, we will get up again.

This morning I was reading in Psalm 18 and was reminded afresh of my heavenly Father’s ever-guiding, training hand.

Psalm 18:32-36

praiseGod arms me with strength, and He makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; He strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You (God) have given me Your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; Your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping (NLT).

Scholars believe King David may have written this psalm toward the end of his life, during a time of peace. If you are familiar with David’s life, you will remember, much of it was anything but peaceful. In fact, he spent a fair amount of time in caves, hiding from King Saul who tried to kill him. And during his times of hiding, David cried out to God in despair. I imagine it felt as if his storm cloud would never lift.

But it did, and upon looking back, David was able to see God’s hand in every hurdle, storm cloud, and heartache.

If you are standing on the mountain top, rejoicing in God’s faithfulness, pause to remember some of the more difficult times in your life. How did you feel during those times? Did it seem like your struggle and pain would never end? But it did, right? Because God brought you through. Look at that/those experience/s through a God-lens. What did He show you about yourself? About Himself? Who did He bring alongside you during that tough time?

If you are still sheltering a storm, look up and look around. God is hovering over you, watching you, loving you. He friendswill bring you through. And, I would almost guarantee, He’s brought you someone to come along beside you. Are you accepting their aid and support, or are you building barriers around your heart, barriers that may seem protective–safe–but in essence, are blocking the very love and care you long for?

Strength Under Pressure

Proverbs 24:10 “If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.”

When I read this verse a few days ago, it hit me in my gut. Lately, I’ve felt anything but strong. In fact, if I could find an impenetrable shelter to hide in, I would.

And so I should. Because it is then that I remember my strength doesn’t come from me. In fact, God’s strength is made perfect when I am at my weakest.

Rejoicing in the never-ending, never-wavering, ever-reaching power of grace this Thursday morning–so grateful that it’s not up to me.

Join us at Living by Gracetoday as we talk about finding strength not in ourselves but in the unchanging, all-powerful nature of Christ who dwells within us.

And make sure to come back to Living By Grace Friday and Saturday for a continuation of our in-depth look at the book of James.

Finding Shelter

When my daughter was young, she loved to play in the rain. She loved splashing in muddle puddles and catching raindrops on her tongue. Together, we’d don our rain gear–bright yellow from head to toe–and our umbrella for an afternoon of puddle-jumping. The umbrella, however, did either of us little good because no matter how hard I tried to cover the both of us, her bouncing, lunging, lurching always left one of us exposed. To receive my full protection, she needed to remain at my side, matching my step.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:1-2 NIV).

These verses provide us a beautiful promise … if we’d but remain in the shelter, the shadow, of the Most High. When we’re caught in a storm, our first tendency is to sprint ahead in search of the exit. Or perhaps we’ll lunge right, hoping for a detour. Maybe we’ll lag behind, digging in our heels as we bemoan how unfair this storm we’re in is. But this verse appears to indicate to receive God’s rest, we must remain in his shadow. This means surrendering to whatever comes our way, trusting God to keep His umbrella raised over us until the storm passes.

Remain. Abide. Trust.

Join me at Living by Grace today as we talk about finding shelter during the storm.

Join us at Living by Grace as we take about grabbing hold of and living in the peace Christ has already provided.

And make sure to come back to Living By Grace Friday and Saturday for our in-depth look at the book of James.