When You Are Afraid God Might Give Up On You

Too many times in my life, I have struggled with the following thought: “God has to be so disappointed in me. I have got to get it together! If I were God, I would have given up on me a long time ago.” Can you relate?
Right now, I am 38 weeks pregnant. I feel like I am not offering the best of myself to anyone in my life, not even to God. Actually, if I am being totally transparent, I would really say that I am not offering the best of myself to anyone in my life, ESPECIALLY not to God. (Honestly I wonder if there is even a “best of myself” tucked away in there somewhere?! Most days I feel like merely a shadow of my normal self.) I have felt ashamed for not praying fervently enough, for doing the bare minimum in my quiet time and for struggling to connect with fellow believers. Shouldn’t I be further along in my walk by now that I don’t struggle with these basic elements of the Christian faith?

These are issues in this season of my life that make me say “I sure hope God doesn’t give up on me.” But His faithfulness in my life has withstood many more tumultuous storms than this one. I grew up in church, but as I entered my teenage years, I became the definition of a prodigal. When anyone in my life asked about my faith, my response was that I did not believe in God. At all. I had completely abandoned Him and tried to cut Him out of my life all together. I sought fulfillment from everything the world had to offer, and after seven years of running from God, He still didn’t give up on me. He reached down into the mess I created for myself and rescued me. It became obvious that God never stopped pursuing me the whole time I was running from Him!

I wish I could say it was all rainbows and daises from there, but it hasn’t been. In these last 5 years of walking with the Lord, I have periodically struggled with revisiting many of the worldly vices that failed to satisfy me in the past. Do I never learn my lesson? Weren’t these faithless betrayals enough to cause God to throw in the towel and give up on me?

No! And here is why. Lysa TerKeurst puts it this way: “God’s love isn’t based on me. It’s simply placed on me.” God doesn’t love us because of the things we do or don’t do. God loves us because it’s who He is. 1 John 4:8 tells us that God IS love. It’s not just something that He does; it is His very nature and character. When I think “If I were God, I would have given up on me a long time ago,” I can be reassured because I AM NOT God. God is not like me or you. He promises not to leave or forsake us (Deut. 31:6), and it is literally impossible for Him to break a single one of His promises (Hebrews 6:18). How reassuring to my weary soul today

Here are some more truth bombs to combat the lie that God is going to give up on you:

• I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return]. Phil. 1:6 AMP

• I will cry to God Most High, Who accomplishes all things on my behalf [for He completes my purpose in His plan]. Psalm 57:2 AMP

• The Lord will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me. Psalm 138:8 NLT

• And those who know Your name [who have experienced Your precious mercy] will put their confident trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not abandoned those who seek You. Psalm 9:10 AMP

Lord, thank you for your faithful character and unfailing love. Continue to reveal the depth of your love to me so I can live loved. Protect me from the lies of the enemy that tell me you have given up on me. Renew my hope and give me a fresh passion to pursue you. In Jesus Name.

In Christ,

Lacey

 

Advertisements

Voice of Truth

You know, there are a lot of voices in this world! I’m not sure about you, but I often find it difficult to discern good from bad. It seems like there is noise everywhere we go. We hear parent’s voices, teacher’s voices, spouse voices, our children’s voices, friend’s voices, co-workers voices, the list could go on and on. Then there’s those other voices we hear and really wish we didn’t, like the news, or internet. It seems like everyone has a voice and an opinion and we all want to get it out, we just want to be heard.

Recently, I went for a hike in the woods with the intent of being heard. I know that sounds strange, considering I was going alone, but I wanted to be heard by God. And, I thought, I was ready to listen for His answer. It was a beautiful day, the kind of day that just refreshes the soul. As I sat at a look-out, I prayed to God, to just speak to me. I asked Him to tell me His will for me. To give me direction in how I could serve Him. You know what I heard…nothing! It wasn’t the moment I wanted silence! So, I went home and told my husband how I was kind of disappointed because I didn’t feel like God would ever speak to me. And he said “Honey, sometimes God is yelling at us and we still don’t hear Him!” He’s so right. We are so busy and with all this noise in our lives, it is often difficult to hear that one still soft voice, that should truly be the driving voice for all that we do, let alone a boisterous thundering voice.

I wonder if Elijah had expectations for how God would speak to him. If you recall, Elijah was on the run for his life, after Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him for killing the false prophets of Baal.

“’Go out and stand before me on the mountain,’ the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:11-12 NLT

To be completely honest, if I had of audibly heard the voice of God that day, when I was on my own mountain, I probably would have thought that I was going crazy! That’s why I think God speaks to me in other ways. I think He knows I am a seeing is believing kind of girl. So, how do I feel like God speaks to me? Through a butterfly or hawk at the precise moment I need to see it, through a song on the radio that perhaps I’ve heard a million times, but at this moment it truly speaks to me. Sometimes God speaks to me through others voices, like my son telling me “I’ll never leave you, now let’s go play with trains” or a sweet friend gently grabbing me and reminding me “He loves you, yes you, Olivia! And nothing you have done or ever will do can change that!”

When I hear people say things like “I heard God say to me…,” I’ll admit, I am jealous. I want to hear God as plain as day. I want to hear Him all the time. I want to have actual conversations with Him. But then again, would I be brave enough to be obedient to what He desires for me to do??? (Probably not, but that’s for another blog).

So, with all the noise and voices swirling around us, which one do we decide to listen to? I certainly can’t listen to my own voice…one minute I might tell myself life is good and the next I tell myself I’m awful or I’m going to fail. So, we have to listen to the voice inside of us that comes from outside of us. It’s the voice of truth, the voice of God. And it’s steadfast. The word of God is as true today as the day He spoke it, regardless of how we feel. 

I think the song Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns really sums it up well:

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes 
To climb out of this boat I’m in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out His hand

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times 
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. “Boy, you’ll never win!”
“You’ll never win!”

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they’d have had the strength to stand

But the giant’s calling out my name
And he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times 
I’ve tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again. “Boy you’ll never win!”
“You’ll never win!”

But the stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don’t seem so high
From on top of them lookin’ down

I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

(Songwriters: Steven Curtis Chapman / Mark Hall)

Love,
Olivia

Father,

Please help us to tune into your voice despite all the noise and confusion that swirls around us. Give us the patience to be still while we wait for you to speak. Give us the courage to be obedient to your will. In your son Jesus’ might name!

Amen!

Get Your Priorities Straight!

Get your priorities straight! That’s what I felt the Holy Spirit shout at me this week. I’ve really been struggling the last month or so. Last week, I knew the topic for this post was going to be about priorities. But, honestly, it took a little more introspection to see that I needed to write it for me—not necessarily for any of you. It took me a little while to realize that my own priorities are out of alignment right now—and that is why I felt such conviction about this topic.  (And that is why we’re posting on Friday this week instead of Wednesday!) For the past few weeks, at the end of each day, I would think about all the things that I had wanted to do but didn’t. The thing is—I used to just feel overwhelmed about life and dismiss these feelings of inadequacy because I was just “busy” and “didn’t have time” to get them done. I chose to accept that my life was just “crazy.” But, over the last couple of years, God has gently taught me that busyness is a choice and not getting (the important) things done is also a choice. (*I realize that some of you may disagree with that statement, and that is totally fine! But I hope you’ll keep reading.)

See—what I’ve learned is that you have time for what you want to make time for. Over the last month or so, I’ve allowed myself to become exhausted: mentally, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually exhausted. I’ve been cramming my thoughts and schedules with activities without being intentional to determine what was important to me. This chaos I’m feeling is because I am allowing my priorities to get all out of whack. It’s crazy how it just happens so fast. I used to be intentional about setting priorities…so what happened?

It’s easy to look to the circumstances surrounding me to find excuses for my “slump.” I could list a bunch of things that have upset me recently. But, as I lead small groups and encourage my friends to “choose joy,” I find myself feeling hypocritical. As I prayed this morning for God to help me to find contentment in the midst of my struggles, He lead me to Romans 2, where Paul says, “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath…” Ouch. Me? Stubborn? Yes…very. Hard-headed and stubborn—trying to solve it all on my own and forgetting that God is the one who is in control, not me. Paul goes on to say in verse 7, “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life.” I want eternal life, so I need to seek glory, honor, and immortality.

However, I find myself seeking knowledge and earthly solutions—even though I know what I should be doing. It’s easy to get caught up in our circumstances, isn’t it? But I love that God is reminding me to get my priorities straight. Want to walk through that with me? Let’s start with what God tells us about priorities.

The first one: Love God. Not just “hey, luv ya” kind of love. But He tells us to love Him with our whole hearts, minds, and souls. Love Him with our thoughts, will, and emotions. Jesus tells us this in Matthew:


“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.’ ”   Matthew 22:37-38


Love Him more than your spouse, more than your friends, more than your collection of jewelry, more than your job, more than your car that you worked so hard to be able to afford, more than your budget sheet, more than your lifestyle, more than your plans and dreams (or even fears) of the future. Love Him first.

Secondly, Jesus tells us to love people.


“Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Matthew 22:39


What is hard for us to comprehend is that when these two things are our top two priorities, we are in alignment with God’s will. The Bible tells us that if we will just do these two things—first—then the rest will fall into place. It seems like we should have to do more, right? Today, I am trying to be more intentional with my priority alignment. What is consuming my thoughts the most? Loving God and His people? (Not yet…but I am going to work hard on that—starting now!)

Dear Heavenly Father, search my heart and show me where I am out of alignment. In your loving way, Lord, please redirect my thoughts and help me get my priorities straight. I choose today to stop worrying and fretting about things that just do not matter to you. I love you—with all of my heart, soul, and mind. And I love your people. Help me to love and serve others as you have commanded. Your Word tells me that if I follow these commands, then the rest will fall into place. I trust you, God. Thank you for your grace when I let the world consume my thoughts. And thank you for your loving redirection so that I may live abundantly and in accordance to your will. Amen

~Jamie

Where Is God When Your World Is Suddenly Falling Apart?

Let’s talk about when life gets hard. Not “the barista forgot to add sugar to my latte, it’s raining, I broke a nail and someone pulled out in front of me in traffic” hard but times of paralyzing grief. Times where you can’t go 10 minutes without having a breakdown. Times where you can barely breathe because of the pain, let alone speak. Times when you feel isolated and nothing makes sense. Times where you face loss that shakes you to your core. The Lord recently reminded me of a song that speaks directly to the heart of a grieving person called “Better Than a Hallelujah” by Amy Grant. Here are some lyrics from this song:

“We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah.”

Here is how these lyrics resonate with me: God can handle it. He can handle my mess, and He wants to be invited into it so he can bring healing and restoration. He can handle the honest truth about the pain I am dealing with. He receives my broken cries of “Lord, help,” “Jesus I need you,” “God, why?” and “My heart just hurts” with open arms.

Why does this song speak to the core of my soul right now? Why am I sharing about grief and loss? Because I am in the midst of it. My family recently lost a beloved family member. He was a sweet, loyal four legged friend named Casper. He was the kindest, most loving little guy I have ever met. He greeted any visitor with excitement and kisses, but he loved his family the most. During the first two years of our marriage, we built our little family up, and Casper was an integral part of our unit from day one. When we found out I was pregnant in August, our hearts began to expand to welcome a brand new member to our family. Our sweet pup, Casper, was aware of my pregnancy from early on, and he became more excited and protective of the precious baby in my belly as he grew bigger. Casper allowed no one, not even my husband, to touch the belly without a warning to be gentle. He already loved our sweet baby boy just as much as he loved us. We knew he would be a great big brother if given the chance. Unfortunately, Casper was unexpectedly stolen from us much too soon, and we have both experienced true heartbreak at the devastating loss of our best friend. Our family has experienced an array of hardships over the last year. Casper was something of a rock of joy and faithful companionship to both my husband and I as we navigated these troubled waters. Some may say “he was just a dog,” but he truly was more than just a dog to us, and the loss of his life has been more difficult than I can express with words.casper

Here is what I am learning in the midst of my pain: God prefers the truth of our pain to a scripted prayer that tries to mask our struggles in false praises or colloquialisms. Our brokenness touches the heart of God, and he meets us where we are. We are not required to pray all of the right words; He sees right to our hearts. When you do not know what to pray, the Spirit prays for you and Jesus intercedes on your behalf! Listen to what scripture has to say about this:

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26

“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:25

Here are three Biblical truths that I am setting my hurting heart on that help me draw close to the Father in my time of need.

  1. The Lord is Close

When painful things happen and as we go through the grieving process, it is easy to feel alone, abandoned and isolated, but the Word promises us that we are not alone: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

  1. The Lord Understands

How do we know our God grieves with us and even more than that, how do we know He can truly understand our heartbreak? This is part of the beauty of the life of Jesus on earth. When Jesus left heavenly perfection to come live a sinless life in our world, he truly became human. Hebrews 4: 15-16 teaches that “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Jesus endured every hardship this world has to offer and more as he suffered death on the cross. He is not insensitive to our pain, and he is not far removed from the heartbreak we suffer. He has grace and mercy to offer us in our time of need because He knows what we are going through.

  1. The Lord Cares

Not only does our God understand, but he also cares. Psalm 56:8 (NLT) tell us that he keeps track of all of our sorrows; He collects all of our tears in a bottle and has recorded each one in His book. Here is The Message paraphrase of that scripture:

“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,
each ache written in your book.”

During the storms of life, I encourage you to draw near to your loving Father in your brokenness, even when you can’t find the words to pray. As I cope with the loss of my best buddy, simple one word prayers are often all I can muster, but I rest on the assurance that my heart’s cry is enough to reach the heart of the Father. I have found that He is there, waiting with open arms like any good dad would for his hurting child.

Abba, my heart hurts. I am devastated, confused and lonely. I need you right now, Jesus. Come bring comfort and peace to my broken heart. In Jesus Name.

With Love,
Lacey