11.3.2016

How to Wait on God Without Losing Faith

Have you ever wondered whether waiting on God is really worth it? My friend Wendy Pope is guest posting on the blog today to encourage us through those hard (and sometimes impossibly long) seasons where we’re desperate for a breakthrough.

We prayed for healing.

We anointed with oil.

We believed.

We waited and we waited… And we waited some more.

Have you been there? Have you done that? I should probably back up a bit so you can get the whole picture.

On November 23, 1991, I married the man of dreams…literally. Tall. Blond hair. Blue eyes. Drove a fast red sports car. (OK. I know this is little vain, right? But I was in my late teens.) A Christian. There. Yes God, that kind of guy will do just fine. Yep. That was him, the man I wanted to marry. So standing before Scott on our wedding day, you can only imagine how divinely blessed I believed my marriage would be since God answered my prayers down to eye color. With great confidence, we danced into our life of bliss.

Fast-forward to our earlier 40’s, you know, that time when we start noticing lines around our eyes, loosen the belt to the next hole, and grunt when we stand up. These are the typical signs of normal wear and tear that come with age, but my healthy husband seemed to have aches and issues beyond the norm. Without warning, we were thrust into a season of sickness and revolving doors of medical experts.

We started this health journey with hope, but for eighteen months doctors probed, prodded, and stuck the body of my once strong and healthy husband. This specialist treated his symptoms with that medication. That specialist treated his symptoms with different medication.

The seemingly never-ending roller coaster of meds and doctor visits finally stopped when we heard two life-altering words to my worn-out and weary husband: rheumatoid arthritis. Finally, a diagnosis…finally, an answer. Oh how we wanted our medical wait to end; but let’s face it, sometimes our wait doesn’t end as we expect. Sometimes it seems our wait will never end.

The wait is more about experiencing God than enduring the delay. Instead of getting distracted by the object of our wait, a medical diagnosis, we can grow closer to God, the Person of our faith. Here are three truths we can tuck deep in our heart to help us wait without losing faith.

1) Maintain your spiritual strength through prayer and reading God’s Word.
I realize this is the Sunday School answer. I also know that when waiting has stolen your peace, praying and reading your Bible is not at the top of the to-do list. Long waits can drive a wedge in our relationship with God. Even though I didn’t feel like spending with God, spending time with God was exactly what I needed. Peace will fill our circumstances when we push through our feelings to stay close to God and allow His Word to navigate us through our wait.

Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105 KJV)

2) Fight for praise.
On the days Scott could barely walk praising God felt like a huge sacrifice. I wanted answers from God. I didn’t want to offer applause to God. Through my Bible reading, I fell in love David’s psalms. This man knew about suffering and waiting yet praised God. We can be certain that even on the bad days, God is still good. He will carry us through our season of waiting. Even though it is hard to praise God when the future is unknown, there’s always something worthy of praise.

You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my fortress.
(Psalm 59:9 NLT)

3) Find small and simple ways to love people.
Our churches, neighborhoods, and communities are full of individuals who need a touch from Jesus. This truth is number three for a reason. It is only when we have immersed ourselves in the Word, spent time with God in prayer, and made praise part of our routine that we can help others. Scott and I don’t have to look far to find someone in need. Our troubles seem to be minimized when we focus on someone else.

Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25 NIV)

When we find ourselves in a holding pattern, it’s easy to ask, What was I doing wrong? Is God holding my past against me? What do I have to do to earn His favor? Rest assured, God never presses pause out of spite. Sometimes waiting has less to do with the strength of your faith and more to do the perfection of God’s timing. God makes us wait at times so we can glean valuable lessons. In the wait, He is preparing us for what He has already planned for us. Waiting isn’t wasting time; it’s training time.

Wendy is giving away 5 copies of her new book, Wait and See, today! To be entered to win, leave a comment below sharing which of these 3 truths you’re going to implement in your situation this week.

10.12.2016

Desperate for Reassurance

If you’ve ever heard me give my testimony, you know part of what I share is being a little girl twirling around next to my daddy, wishing I could know that he loved me.

Maybe in his own way, he did love me. But something was broken in our relationship that left me feeling desperate for reassurance.

Over the years, God has healed my heart in miraculous ways. Through God’s promises I’ve been reassured of all those things I wished my earthly father would have said. I know God’s love for me is deep, unwavering and certain.

But there are still times I catch myself twirling again. Crying out again. Wishing I could feel totally secure. Hating my insecurities. And mad that this struggle I thought was over, surfaces still.

Maybe it always will.

And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

For it keeps me desperate for a reassurance I can’t get any other way. It keeps me desperate for God.

I can hear my husband tell me a hundred times that he loves me and no, my backside isn’t big … and yet I still feel my heart desperately twirling.

I can stand in an arena with thousands of people clapping for the message I just gave … and still feel my heart desperately twirling.

I can conquer my food demons and finally fit back into my skinny jeans … and still feel my heart desperately twirling.

The only thing that stops the desperation, the uncertainties, the insecurities, the twirling … is for the Spirit of God to lay across my heart and make it still. The blanket of His presence and His protection is the only perfect fit for the deep creases and crevices carved inside me.

I don’t know what tough things you’ve been through sweet sister, but I do know this: Brokenness is universal. We all have things in life that trigger deep insecurities and our own personal “twirling about,” searching for reassurance.

But here’s the amazing thing.

While brokenness is universal, God’s redemption is also universal for those who proclaim Christ as Lord. No matter what cracks and crevices we have in our hearts, if we seek the truth of God above all else, He is enough to fill in those raw places.

“Whatever is true … think about such things … And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8b, 9b).

Have you caught your heart twirling, desperate for reassurance lately? Today, spend a few minutes letting these truths fill your mind and seep into those desperate places of your heart:

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you; but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV).

“I pray that you … may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:17b, 18, NIV).

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, NIV).

“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness’” (Jeremiah 31:3).

I pray these truths flood your heart with peace like they do mine. Peace that gives you permission to stop twirling and start to live like you are loved.

Because you are.

Deeply. Abundantly. And without end.

10.7.2016

The Rejection Infection

The plastic seats were green. The desks a dirty beige. The perfect pale color to make pencil marks easy to read.

That’s how I saw what was making the group of girls in front of me laugh. They looked at me and then added to Jennifer’s desk art: a frizzy-headed stick figure with huge buck teeth and crazed eyes. I knew even before I saw the name scribbled, she’d drawn me. Me. An awful caricature of me.

It’s been years since I sat at that dirty beige desk. But it hasn’t been years since I’ve had those same feelings of rejection and hurt. Of course, they aren’t from girls drawing pictures. But meanness hurts, no matter what age or how it’s delivered.

You can take the girl out of middle school, but for many of us, you can’t take the middle school out of the girl.

If you’ve been hurt in this way, you know what I’m talking about. If we’re a stuffer type of person, we want to withdraw and get away from the source of our hurt. If we’re more of an exploder person, we want to attack so they’ll feel as badly as we do.

But here’s where things get a little complicated. Jesus flies in the face of conventional wisdom and instructs us, “love your enemies.”

Seriously?

Something deep inside us whispers, “Don’t you dare love this person. This situation is the exception.”

Let the internal battle begin.

But what if I were to assure you Jesus isn’t being cruel or naive in His command for us to love? He’s actually showing us how to get free from the sting of another person’s wounds. When we’re wounded, we can either pursue healing by extending love back, or, we can refuse healing and allow the “rejection infection” to set into our wound.

Here are three things to remember:

The Command

My job isn’t to fix my enemies. My job is to be obedient to God in how I deal with them. And He tells us in our key verse how He wants us to deal with those we would label our enemy.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”
(Matthew 5:44).

The Caution

If there is abuse, we must get wise people to help us and learn to love from afar. How? By forgiving the person who hurt us — releasing their offense into the hands of God. By trusting God (and others in authority) to reveal to them their wrong and deal with their actions.

But we must also remember this: Forgiveness and restoration don’t always go hand-in-hand. You can forgive someone but not necessarily do everyday life with them. Ask God to give you discernment to know when and how to love from afar.

The Catalyst

So, back to Jennifer and the hurtful drawing. I wish I could relive that moment with the knowledge I have now. Jennifer drew that picture because of her own insecurities. And while it’s tough to have compassion for someone who’s hurting us in the moment of rejection, it is possible to have compassion for their obvious hurt. Hurt people hurt people.

Dig beneath the surface of a mean girl and you’ll find a girl riddled with insecurities and possibly even self-hatred.

Romans 12:20 says, “On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’” (NIV)

Jennifer was hungry and thirsty for affirmation. And the only way she could figure out how to get it was to make those around her laugh at me.

What might have happened if I were to have walked by her desk and given this desperate girl a drink from the living water? “Jennifer, you are beautiful. Do you know that?”

Not in a million years could I have done that in middle school. But I’m not in middle school any longer.

And now’s a good time to remember that.