Grace Made Visible

Isaiah 58:9

Your brokenness and sin are not something you can overcome so that you can walk with God. They are the occasions for you to cry out for the life of God in you to rescue you. Not God outside you, up in the sky somewhere. Christ in you, your only hope of glory. Let this sink in: Jesus has no intention of letting you become whole apart from his moment-to-moment presence in your life. –John Eldredge

Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldredge, p. 207

The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is regardless of our circumstances, we get God, and he’ll be enough. On the day of trouble, we’ll cry out, and we will hear, “Here I am.” When marriage is difficult, and we cry out, we will hear, “Here I am.” On the day the doctor says, “Can you come in? We need to talk,” we will hear as we cry out to God, “Here I am.”

He will not abandon. He will not quit, and he will not cut out his children. He is ever present, ever chasing, ever hoping, ever putting his Holy Spirit’s power into us to sustain us and hold us up regardless of life’s circumstances. This is how he blesses those who are saturated in grace. He is present. He is enough.

–Matt Chandler, Grace Made Visible, Part 1

Let’s Wander Through Summer Memories

Wandering in Summer Memories

Summer beckons us to linger here. Let’s stay a while longer, please, lets stay another day or maybe two.

I love to wander through summer memories … to think about my family and friends. To remember those leisurely hours that roll over into days. I want to go back there! I find myself daydreaming of dancing waves, white sand, broken seashells.

The sweetest of summer memories are the ones of the little people in my life.

Isla Beach

Summer Memoriessummer fun 1summer funSummer has a way of healing and restoring. Summer gives me time to slow down, to ponder, to experience the beauty of grace over and over … I love to move slowly through the memories, to leisurely wander through the sweet times, to sing praises of thankfulness for these precious souls.

Sunday Respite | Psalm 27:14

Psalm 27:14Waiting for the Lord isn’t about God forgetting you, forsaking you, or being unfaithful to his promises. It’s actually God giving you time to consider his glory and to grow stronger in faith. Remember, waiting isn’t just about what you are hoping for at the end of the wait, but also about what you will become as you wait.

The reality of waiting is that it’s an expression of God’s goodness. He is wise and loving. His timing is always right, and his focus isn’t so much on what you will experience and enjoy, but on what you will become. He is committed to using every tool at his disposal to rescue you from yourself and to shape you into the likeness of his Son.

A Shelter in the Time of Storm, Paul Tripp, (Crossway Books) 88, 90

 

Learning to Sail Smoothly Through the In-Between

To Sail

There is this place called the in-between, where many of us live. We are in-between where we were and where we want to be. We want a new adventure now and whatever difficult thing we are dealing with to end … over and done with. Often, the in-between is a difficult place of disappointments, laced with real sadness. It is a troubling time, a fretful time, a restless, tiring journey of sailing in rough waters. Yes, the in-between can be rough and also lonely. This is your story, your journey. This is your in-between. You own it. Perhaps you have already come to realize that your life in the in-between is most profound when there is silence all around you or during a time of aloneness.

There’s waiting in the in-between. There’s waiting for something to change, or to have our dreams fulfilled or … simply fill in the blank: “I am waiting for ________.”  Waiting is definitely a type of rough waters, a personal trial, with suffering, possibly as its companion.

What I’m learning about being in the in-between is that sailing through the rough waters of waiting is the best place for me now. And as I learn to hoist the sail and press on throughout this waiting period, I will find that the inconvenient moments, the monotony of routine or the struggle to overcome are, in fact, my greatest opportunity for growth.

The In Between

The in-between is a vast space to explore and I’ve explored it longer than I care to! However, during this waiting period in the in-between, I have discovered a lot about myself. Sometimes I say, “My God! When will this waiting be over?” And sometimes I say, “My God! Thank you for the in-between!” I sound quite fickle and I admit that I’m discontent in the waiting. I’m very goal oriented and live in perpetual pursuit of something. I find myself evaluating my progress toward that thing that will give me satisfaction, to fulfill my life.

To continue with the metaphor of smooth sailing, it’s exhausting to adjust the sails, to tack and jib, to fight the wind on my own. I long for the other side of this.

Recently, I read Mark 6:45-52. It’s the story of Jesus disciples in a boat, making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. I thought I knew this story well, but I had missed significant details.  Such as one word in verse 45:

Immediately he [Jesus] made his disciples get in the boat and go before him to the other side …

They did what Jesus made them do. Get in the boat. Those guys didn’t do anything to cause the storm and they certainly didn’t expect a storm or ask for the trial they were facing. They happened to find themselves in the right place at the right time and they were utterly astounded by God’s grace. (verse 51)

I discovered another significant point in verse 48 of that text:

And about the fourth watch of the night he [Jesus] came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them …

Jesus seems very relaxed while being in their storm. He knew they had rowed and struggled for about eight hours. It’s tempting to judge the faithfulness of God based on His ability to remove difficulty from our lives, when in fact, difficulty is almost always a sign of His faithfulness.  Notice in verse 48 that Jesus meant to walk pass by them, but then they cried out in fear and immediately he spoke to them. God’s love is borderless wide and his compassion is infinitely deep. God’s grace rescues us.

The In Between

I’m asking two important questions: “What in the world is God doing?” and “How in the world should I respond to it?”

I’m learning that He has brought me to the uncomfortable place of the in-between to produce in me what I could not achieve on my own. God’s divine power plus his divine compassion equals everything I need. [1]

And how in the world should I respond to waiting in the in-between?  Utterly astounded by God’s grace while “giving [myself] permission to enjoy fully the things [I] have, the person [I am], and the life [I am] currently living while continuing to harbor the dreams that keep [me] growing and stretching into the future.” [2]

It is only when I’m hooking my life to the glory and grace of God and getting my identity from him that I can truly live with singleness of focus for the long run. This is because it is only God who has the power to satisfy my heart. I was made for him. I was made to have my life shaped by an acknowledgment of his presence, a rest in his love, and an active allegiance to his purpose. When I live this way, my soul is satisfied and my heart is at rest.  — Paul Tripp, A Shelter in the Time of Storm

Psalm 27:4 Smooth Sail in the In Between

Smooth Sail

I’ve loved reading the book: A SHELTER in the TIME of STORM: Meditations on God and Trouble, by Paul David Tripp. The book is based on Psalm 27, a psalm that teaches you about faith, safety and the presence of the Lord. Psalm 27 tells us that even in the middle of difficulties that we do not understand, nor seem able to escape, we have reason to take heart and to have hope.

[1] Paul Tripp, Uncomfortable Grace |  [2]  The Resolution for Women, by Priscilla Shirer. Original quote:  “Give yourself permission to enjoy fully the things you have, the person you are, and the life you are currently living while continuing to harbor the dreams that keep you growing and stretching into the future.”

 

 

 

Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

4 Steps to Stop Worrying

I Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. I suppose I chose this verse today for myself as much as for anybody. Anxiety and worry, is more often than not, emotionally crippling, physically damaging, and spiritually deadening. I find myself slipping back in a worrying mode about so many things which I have no control over. Much too often, the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is to put on a heavy backpack, which I’ve lugged around day after day, filled with “life issues” that I worry over. 

If like me, you happen to feel, on a regular basis, the heaviness of anxiety and worry or perhaps you simply wake up feeling restless and antsy about the future, you may want to try these four action steps to stop worrying…to lighten the load in that backpack.

4 Steps to Stop Worrying

1. FIGHT.  Don’t be idle with your worry. In other words, there is a way to fight worry and not to have it overwhelm your life. Too often we run from one worry to the next. We battle to keep plates loaded with worry spinning in a blur, yet the plates will always fall and break and before the day is over, we find ourselves totally wasted and defeated. We’ve been fighting the worry dragon all wrong. Fighting worry in our strength will slay us.

Essentially, when we worry we are saying we don’t believe that God is in control of our life. We forget how much our Heavenly Father loves us…that He will never abandon us. Fight against the urge to spin another plate by meditating on the promises of God. Instead of listening to your own voice, spinning thoughts inside your head, listen to God’s words instead. Fight for experiencing more grace. Make the choice to speak the gospel to yourself. Fight the urge to spin another plate with prayer instead…ask God to give you faith to trust him. It is worth the fight.

2. TRUST. To totally trust God is a choice. We fight the battle of unbelief with preaching the gospel of grace to ourselves and now we must choose to let go and trust God. Psalm 56:3 says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” This verse doesn’t imply that we will never be afraid but it tells us what to do when we are fearful or when we are worrying. The psalmist says to take action when we are afraid…we are to put our trust in God. When we worry and stay afraid, we are not trusting God for the practical details in our life. “The surest way to find out if you can trust God? Is just trust Him. The free fall of faith is what makes you free.”  [1]   

3. SURRENDER. To surrender doesn’t mean defeat, quite the contrary, to surrender your worry over to God will give you power to live free. You know you’re surrendered to God when you rely on God to work things out instead of trying to manipulate others, force your agenda, and control the situation. [2]Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” (Psalm 37:7)

A surrendered life is also a life of constant repenting. Repenting that once again, plates filled with worry and fear are spinning…repent of idle thoughts that rob true joy and peace found in Christ. A surrendered life is a prayerful life…the action step of casting all your anxiety on him. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7) That is another promise you can trust! 

4. SING.  To sing is the catalyst of worship. Singing forms the words of our prayers and petitions and even our muddled thoughts into beautiful poetry of worship. When worry is making life hard, then sing even louder. Singing songs of happy praise will ease the battle fatigue of spinning plates. Worry fades when the hum of grace-filled music floods your mind and emotions. Singing makes for a cheerful heart and there is no room for worry there.

It’s been a stressful and crazy few weeks around here and honestly, I’ve been spinning lots of plates piled high with worry. I’m so grateful for the encouragement gleaned from God’s promises and his daily dose of grace to fight the good fight, to totally trust him, to live a surrendered life, and to sing…to experience freedom.

[1] A Holy Experience | [2] Daily Hope with Rick Warren, Surrender: Let Go and Let God Work

Being Filled with Wonder and Awe

the small things 2There is time throughout the day to be filled with wonder and awe. I often forget to live life simply big, to look for those simple things that will fill my soul with wonder and awe.

Every sunrise that I greet is another opportunity to experience more grace, more hope, more joy, more peace, and more wonder and awe. Sometimes anxiety and impatience try to steal the excitement of discovering all of this. The four walls of connecting rooms which I live attempt to confine the grandeur of God at work…God revealing his glory.

I pick up a magnifying glass to see what I’m missing.

I want to inspect what God has promised and to expect to be filled with wonder and awe.

To live life simply big…to be ready for more. I pray the Lord’s Prayer…”Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done…” to want nothing more than God’s glory and His will, to live and breathe His wonder and awe within these four walls of connecting rooms…and beyond this place, for His Glory.

Here is a photo of my grandchild inspecting the wonder of a ladybug. It took a lot of bravery for her to hold a little insect in the palm of her hand. She was afraid because she didn’t like the feeling of the bug touching her skin.

Funny how the small things can be scary for us.

It’s in those small things that remind us of God’s infinite grace and love that will overwhelm the scary things so we can live experiencing more.  Dig deep into your memories of your first experience of wonder and awe of God’s grace in your life.

My grandchild is brave with a ladybug and it brings back a personal memory in my childhood of holding a snail…sliding on my arm…a snail with a broken shell. This simple life was sliding along a path in my mother’s flower garden. I noticed the shell was cracked. Carefully, I picked up the snail and held it in the palm of my hand.

I brought the snail, with it’s cracked shell, to my mother because she could fix everything broken. She quickly found white bandage tape and scissors and promptly taped the broken shell. Then she brought me an old shoebox and walked with me outside, while I held my snail with its broken shell, secured with white tape.

My mother pulled up grasses and found pebbles and a little dirt to put inside that cardboard shoebox for my wounded snail.  And there it stayed. I watched it move about for many days. I held it in the palm of my hand and it would move slowly out of its shell along my skin.

One day, I released it back to my mother’s garden, with the white tape still holding the shell secure.

And so, here we are…broken but taped and healed by God’s grace, being filled with wonder and awe.
the small things

Wonder and Awe

Here I Am | Sunday Respite

DSC_0142

Now Moses was tending the flock … and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight–why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

Exodus 3:1-4

In the solitude of the wilderness, little did Moses know that today would be the beginning of a new chapter in his life. The burning bush was one of those life-altering events which happens but a few times in a person’s life.

Do we dare to ask God for a “burning bush” life-altering event?  Are you quiet enough to hear him call your name? Perhaps being in the wilderness is a good place to be … stop running away. God is here. God is with us. When you hear God’s voice, answer him, “Here I am.” Be deeply impressed with the holiness of God and live your life as a gift, an offering … embrace this time and place, choose to see what God is showing you. Open your eyes to the possible. Press on.

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV)

Possibility

~Dave Harrity in Making Manifest: On Faith, Creativity, and the Kingdom at Hand

Jumping Tandem
Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday