Tag Archives: hope

Recognize

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While reading in Jonah, the book I’ve been stuck in for awhile now (better than a big fish, right? Yuk yuk) it hit me that Jonah didn’t know that he was getting out of that fish.He had no idea what the outcome would be. We know the end of the story and have for years, except for maybe the actual “vomit” part…they left that out when I was a kid. We realize he got out and finally did what God asked him to do. But while in the whale (and please don’t argue with me about what kind of fish it was…I’m not concerned about that.) Jonah had some time to think. God gifted him with that time by providing the huge creature. Does anyone else find that amazing and hilarious? My NIV study Bible literally says that He “provided a great fish to swallow Jonah” (Jonah 1:17) God does provide, I’m just wondering if Jonah had to laugh at the irony while covered in muck.

In all of his pondering, he had to disregard what his senses told him. He had to focus on the why, not the scary sights,eery sounds,and nasty smell. (I won’t go into the other senses but to say”taste” EW!) He had to control his thoughts and cry out to the One Who created that fish for help. So, quite a few hours/days, he spent crying, praying, and giving thanks. I would think that would lead to some pretty enlightening epiphanies.It wasn’t that he didn’t recognize where he was, Jonah knew good and well that he was literally in the pit of this big guy’s stomach, but he also began to recognize Who had the power and Who had possession.He eventually grasped the fact that God had ownership of the seas and the sailors that had hurled him into the vicious waves. This God knew Jonah. He knew him better than he could ever possibly know himself. All he could do in this moment of recognition was to confess and ask forgiveness. He had to shake his head and wonder what took him so long to understand. He finally comprehended that God would go to any lengths necessary to not only show His love for one of His kids, but for all of them.

As an added bonus to God’s plan, because once Jonah got that he was lost, he recognized that others were lost exactly like he was. Salvation comes from the Lord and all it took was a few days and nights in the stomach of a sea creature for him to see that very, very clearly. My absolute favorite line in this book is “What I have vowed I will make good.” Jonah was speaking of the promises he made to God during his special one-on-one time that the Creator made possible. (Hehe) How many times have we promised things to God and not made good? God recalls and makes good on His promises each and every day, no matter our scenery or situation.He has made so many vows to us when we certainly don’t deserve them. My goal today is to just be, where I am, whether I like that place or not, and give thanks to the God Who deserves each and every one.

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Lacking Motivation

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I’ve heard it said, or sung, “Lord, I hope this day is good” and I find myself hoping the same thing today. My motivation to do anything has taken a hit lately. My body hurts. My head feels funny, and not in a good way. My face’s natural position is a frown. I have to fight to accomplish anything. I don’t wanna do anything. Meh…

And then, I took 10 minutes to yell to God for help. And all of this came to mind:

Don’t accept the thoughts the enemy is putting on you. Don’t let all that junk become who you are. It is not. When God saved you, you became flawless. There is nothing you can’t handle. You ARE motivated. You can do absolutely anything. He accepts you just as you are. Don’t put things off. “Get after it!” As someone from a previous generation might say. Smile. A frown is NOT natural. You have a LOT to smile about. No one can take what God has given to you. You are poised, confident, successful, happy, motivated, and able to accomplish all tasks set before you.

That’s truth. If you don’t recognize it and/or the lies are easier to believe, take a few minutes today to sit in silence. Be still, knowing that He is God. Listen to what He has to tell you instead of all the other garbage.

Scars Are Cool

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Many individuals have told me not to get my hopes up over the years, whether it be finding a car for the price I want or catching a sale item or a friend seemingly dying of cancer. That ugly c-word. That word holds so much power over people. The instant it is spoken, hope fades. A piece of that person’s belief system is undeniably affected because of that particular diagnosis. It’s as if when we hear the report of the doctor, we turn into fair-weather Christians, thinking this is the one thing that God can’t do. (“Oh! We’ve found it! God can handle everything but this!”) James 4:8 calls us “double-minded” with that kind of thinking. Eek! We are to cleanse our hands, and purify our hearts as we draw near to Him because He will draw near to us, even in that instance when we don’t think we can. Even when we look at our situation and don’t see it for what it is. John 11:4 shows where Jesus said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is to promote the glory of God, in order that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” Whaaaat? God knows what He’s doin’? Matthew 9:35 speaks of Jesus going into all the towns and villages healing every disease and sickness, meaning, He cured people of everything from acne, brokenness, and didn’t shudder and cower in a corner when the “c-word” came next.

I don’t know what our hope is; maybe that we’ll go through this life with no wounds and no scars. Scars are cool. They show that not only have we been through stuff, but also that God’s doin’ stuff and He brought us through. There is nothing we can’t handle. Get your hopes back up. Don’t let them lay around beneath your feet. No matter what the report says, believe the report of the Almighty God that crafted you with His own brilliant hands.

Hope Vs. 3D’s

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One of the descriptions of God is the “God of hope” (Romans 15:13) and to be honest, it was a wake-up call. I stopped using the word “hope” for a long time because I didn’t like my mental picture of it. I visualized a person just sitting and hoping…doing nothing…hoping instead of doing. It personally drives me a tad crazy when people say, “I hope you get to feeling better” or “I hope you do well.” I always thought, “Don’t hope, PRAY!” I need prayers, not a “mere hope” or a wish.
Therein lies the issue: I equated “hope” with “wish” and our God is not a God of wishes. He instills so much more than that. Discouragement, depression, disgust and a whole bunch of other words beginning with “d” and other letters dissolve, disintegrate and disperse! (I had to go with it. I read a lot of Dr. Seuss these days.)
The fact is: our hope is in the God of hope. Meditate on that today. He doesn’t fail; He will not let you down. He never has and He’s not gonna start now. Don’t let all the ugliness of this world overwhelm you. Conciously make a choice to place your hope in Him today. That’s not doing nothing.

Background at the Forefront

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Let me begin by saying I’m trying my best to follow where God leads me here. I have no desire to put myself first (ok, maybe a little) but most days I’m content to stay in the shadows. As I look back over some of the very ugly, stupid choices I’ve made in my life, I feel the need to place blame. Unfortunately, it lands on me.

I was a drinker for many years and I’m sure you can use your imagination as to what kinds of choices alcohol and its addiction brings about. God protected me in so many ways, but also let me screw up. We are given those choices to make, based many times on where we’ve placed ourselves, and we have to manage the consequences. I have thoughts of pure shame regarding the hell I put myself through. I suppose I literally brought hell into my life. It was chaotic and confusing and our God is not one of either of those.

I remember wanting to quit drinking but was unable to picture my life without it. It’s a really strange place to be now as I have people tell me they can’t picture me drinking or smoking. That statement in and of itself is a testament to how powerful my God is. He showed up HUGE in my life when I needed Him the most. He loved me when all I could do was ask, “Where in this hell are you?? It’s too much for me to handle and you’re nowhere to be found. I knew I couldn’t count on you. What do I have to do to get you to do what you said you would?” (Notice no capital ‘y’ as I wasn’t exactly showing much respect at that point. I can’t turn the “editor” in me off so I had to explain myself.) Looking back, I realize I had to let go of His hand before I was able to throw my hands up in the air and ask where He was! How ridiculous is that?

He was there the whole time, waiting for me to have that “Hmmmm…AHA!” moment. Thank You God for being merciful and forgetful!! New mercies and no memory of past faults are like a big, fuzzy blanket. They wrap around you and warm you until you think you get it. Then the next time you forget and get chilly, they wrap around you again and you’re reminded of that comfort that only He can provide.

Our past can be the cause of those chills I think. I shudder not only to think of some of the things I’ve done, but all the things I haven’t accomplished because of my chosen track. “Where could I be? If only I had…” Regrets. See? God tried to save me from those regrets but I chose to head down that wide path. We try to throw the blame someone else’s way but it boomerangs back and hits us in the forehead. That’s when we need to get up off the ground, acknowledge that we were wrong, and repent. Eek! “Repent.” That word scares so many. I personally think of the guy holding the sign while standing on a busy street corner. Nonetheless, repenting simply means “to feel sorry, self-reproachful, or contrite for past conduct; regret or be conscience-stricken about a past action, attitude, etc. To feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better; be penitent. To remember or regard with self-reproach or contrition: to repent one’s injustice to another. To feel sorry for; regret: to repent an imprudent act.” (Thank you Dictionary.com!) Um, that’s me, fer sher.

My prayers today are for those that feel they can’t get themselves out of that muck that they’re stuck in. And to you, as I pray you’re reading this, I say, don’t even try. You’ve probably already tried before anyway and you’re right back where you started, most likely even deeper. Apologize (aka repent) and let God fix it from there. There is nothing He can’t handle, especially when you’re in a place where you feel as though you can’t handle anything. I’ve been there. I thought I’d never leave there. But I did and you can too. God pulled me out of the muck and is using my background to help others. Nothing is wasted.

Eternity Echo

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As I sit surrounded by my Grandma’s stuff I realize that we get to choose what kind of legacy we leave behind. I am so thankful that my Grandma was a praying woman who knew God better than she knew herself. She said “I fail my Lord daily” but I sure didn’t see it. She prayed, read her Bible, treated everyone with the utmost respect, wouldn’t miss church for any reason, and helped every individual she met, whether it was a homeless man, friend, family, or the new resident at the nursing home she visited.

I remember a time as a teenager I was having some issues and she simply sat on the steps of my aunt’s porch listening. Just listening. No one does that when you’re a teenager. Everyone knows better and wants to let you know how much they know. I don’t really remember her saying anything except we would pray about it. Well, if only it were THAT simple Grandma, I thought. I thought she didn’t understand. Now that I’m not a teenager anymore, I understand a little more. Some days I think a lot more, but inevitably something happens to remind me that God’s the only One Who knows it all.

I am so honored to have her kitchen towels (you know the ones that have lasted for 3/4 of a century and will probably be passed down to my children?) and her loaf pans that she gave countless loaves of bread to anyone and everyone that might be suffering from a “zucchini bread-deficiency” in their diet. I now have her apron, whose strings were probably tugged on by my father’s chubby hands. Her legacy and memories are spring eternal and lovely throughout my home, especially my favorite room of the house, my kitchen.

We get to choose the thoughts and the memories we leave in others’ minds when we’re gone. As any embroidered pillow (I have one of those too) or stepping stone in the cemetery will tell you, “Loved ones live in memory even when they’re gone.” Our lives echo throughout eternity and to the ears of the ones who still have a journey left.

He’s Got This?

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If you can heal me and your will is to heal me, then why am I still dealing with these symptoms? I can’t make it through this day. I can’t do it. I’m gonna lose it. What in the world is Your plan here? Wait, less work? I don’t have any less bills, God. And I thought this was the year we were getting out of debt? My hubby’s still sick after a week of this junk. How do I trust for more if I don’t believe You heal for a common bug? What about Dad? I thought he was healed…he surely doesn’t look like it as he has to rest after 5 minutes of activity. A double ear infection God? What’s going on with this kid?? I thought he was done with all this garbage. He’s already got enough of a testimony if you ask me. God, I need you to jack-slap me whenever you catch me being negative. Where’s my faith? What am I doing wrong? Who cares? I’m tired of trying so hard, God.

Every one of these statements have left my mouth this past week. As I type them out and get to see them first-hand, I see how much worry and anxiety each are riddled with. I think the point here is, I’m trying very hard. Do I need to try so hard? Or can I simply let God do what God does best? Which happens to be taking care of His kids. No. I simply cannot. As it turns out, that takes some work too ironically. As a human being, or as me, I have to be doing something to “help.” God has been walking me through this, but it’s not easy to kick back and let Him. (I picture us biting our nails and hangnails as God tries to grab our hand while we walk along His glorious beach.) Breathe in, breathe out and trust. I’m gonna try to open my Bible more and replace the worry with Word. Do a dance today as God just sent you a reminder that He’s got this!