Tag: life

beach photoBy: Miryea Gist

 

Lately, scrolling through Facebook has become much more than a mindless activity full of relatable photos, memes, and hilarious videos. Instead, I’ve learned to view it as an opportunity to obtain a glimpse into the lives, minds, and hearts of many friends and family members on social media. This morning, during my daily scroll through the incessantly, inordinate Facebook feature otherwise known as “newsfeed,” I came across a post from a young lady that caught my eye and peeked my interest. The post was barely noticeable, only comprised of two words. Yet, those two words shot through my body and into my soul like a burst of electricity. Those two words stayed in my head all day like a catchy tune, and at night, hovered over my mind like a storm cloud. The post came from a young lady who struggles with dysthymia, also known as chronic depression. Those two words were: nobody understands.

 

A love we crave

Biblically speaking, a man’s purpose is to know God, and to spend eternity relishing in the enjoyment of Him. We were created to experience intimacy with the God of the universe, and to spend our days pursuing the knowledge of Him. In light of this, I believe that an inevitable characteristic of this design for humans to know, is a desire to be known. Humans were created to know, and be known by God Himself. Naturally, this desire to be known has been tainted by the fall, and sin has perverted a right desire, into one full of selfish ambition and personal glory. This is wildly evident in today’s culture through a yearning for fame, and an insatiable desire for attention from those of the opposite gender. This yearning to be known is especially evident within this age of technology. We desire so much to be known, that we create various social media as platforms to showcase ourselves. We spend hours upon hours designing boards we feel best represent our style, hobbies, dreams and ambitions, taste in music, movies and food. We tweet our every move in order to keep the world up-to-date on our lives. We take the time to fill out silly questionnaires and “like” different pages so that our friends can know us better. Our human desire to be known is evident in every aspect of our lives.

It can be said—to be known, is to be loved. Or better yet, to be loved, is to be known. We see this truth played out in Matthew 7:23 and John 10:14-15. In Matthew, the Lord rebukes the one who does not belong to Him with the terrifying statement “I never knew you…” while in the gospel of John, Jesus uses the knowledge of His children to claim them as His own stating: “I know my own and my own know me.”

Humans crave an understanding kind of love. A love that knows truly, sincerely, and deeply. A comprehending love, a grasping love—an intimate love that can fathom them. To know God, and to be known by Him is the only redemption.

                  

Fully God, fully man

As I read the words, “nobody understands,” a verse immediately came to mind. No, it wasn’t Psalm 119, nor was it Psalm 139. The verse that came to mind, was the end of Hebrews chapter four, and beginning of Hebrews chapter 5:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (5) For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.

In the Old Testament, the duty of a priest was to operate as intercessor between God and the people. He would offer sacrifices on behalf of the people, but also for himself since he too was a sinner. Because of this, the priest was able to show compassion towards the people, since he himself was beset with weakness. Of course, after Christ’s death and resurrection, we are able to have access to the Father and to experience intimacy with Him. Jesus Christ, as the great and final high priest, bridged the gap between a holy God and fallen man.

But we know this. We know God sent his Son to live the life of perfect obedience which we could never attain. We understand that it is only the sinless life and righteousness of Jesus Christ that makes us right before God. Most believers have no problem understanding the fact that Christ was sinless, and this is because we grasp His deity. However, I believe many Christians fail to comprehend the aspect of Christ that legitimized Him as a sacrifice, which is His humanity.

The incarnation of God is an astounding facet of the gospel. As J.I. Packer stated: “Here are two mysteries for the price of one — the plurality of persons within the unity of God, and the union of Godhead and manhood in the person of Jesus. . . . Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the Incarnation.”

We are confident in Christ’s deity, yet oftentimes, we undermine His humanity. Nonetheless, the truth of Jesus’s humanity is to be regarded just as important as the truth of His deity. We know from the Word of God two things to be absolutely sure: Jesus has two natures—God and man. And each nature is full and complete—He is fully God, and fully man (Colossians 2:9, John 1:14, Hebrews 2:14). But what does it mean that Christ was fully man? It simply means this: that Jesus was exposed to all the limitation of man. He required all things you and I require in order to survive… food, drink, and sleep. He was not exempt from the things which confide us, such as gravity, pain, fatigue, and illness. Because He was bound to all the limitations of man, this includes the temptation we experience. He Himself was tempted, as Hebrews says, “in every respect.”

Hopefully this truth will lead the believer to ask the question; why? Why would the God of the universe willingly subject Himself to the limitations of man? The beginning of Hebrews tells us it is so that He can deal gently with the ignorant, and the wayward since He Himself was beset with weakness.

He understands

How beautiful is that? This perfectly holy being chose to subject Himself to temptation in order to deal gently with us. The Creator willingly humbled Himself to walk amongst the creation, so that we might know one who understands. The one who spoke and caused all to be, the one who the wind and the waves obey, the one who commands the tiniest of bacteria, to the greatest of all mammals—He understands. In the God of all creation, we find the greatest love—a sacrificial, sympathetic, and understanding love.

I urge you, never again to be dismayed by the lie designed by Satan to isolate you. The lie that you are alone, and misunderstood. The King of kings understands more than you’re capable of comprehending. What a shame it is to walk through life believing no one understands or cares, and what an offense it is to a God who left His throne to demonstrate how much He does.

_________________________

Miryea attends The Masters College majoring in English with a minor in Bible. With her degree, she plans to teach middle school English as well as continue to enjoy, and further develop her passion for writing. Born and raised in Arizona, she was home schooled from first through twelfth grade, and is the eldest of two.

                     

Deb Blue 5x7 tighter cropBy Dr. Deb Waterbury

 

                                 “This is not my life.”

 

 

                                                           “Those are not my children.”

 

 

                                                                                     “That is not my husband.”

 

 

Have you ever looked around at your life and thought any of these things?  I mean, this isn’t what we signed up for, right?  No one told us the day we walked down that isle or the day we graduated from school or the day we heard our child’s first cry that things would one day take us to the brink of despair.

That’s someone else’s life.  That’s not mine.

But then one day it is.  One day you wake up and all those women whose lives were battered by unfaithful spouses or lost children or sickness or death are suddenly not just remote prayer requests.  No longer can you abstractly look at those sad and torn lives and feel sympathy.  Now you are smack in the middle of empathy.  You’re living it, and the only thing you can do is look around and wonder, “What happened?”

The truth is that if you’ve been an adult woman for longer than three minutes, you will have experienced these emotions, and you’ll experience them more than once.  We were never promised a rose garden in this life, and for the most part, we realize that.

But sometimes it’s not just a weed-infested garden that we find ourselves in the middle of.  It’s a pool of sticky, slimy toxic waste, and we think, “Nope.  This is not my life.”

What are we to do in those moments?  What does a Christian woman do when even getting out of bed seems abundantly out of the question?

I have recently experienced yet another of those seasons in my life as a woman, wife, and mother, and I was struck with these thoughts in rapid succession.  Huddled in the corner of my bedroom, lights off, and curled up so tightly on the floor that my joints ached, the despair caught me almost off-guard.  I wasn’t even crying correctly because I couldn’t breathe well enough to make a sound.  I just rocked and gasped for air.  And then my thoughts changed from “This is not my life” to “I have to fix this!”

Isn’t that the way we are?  That’s how God created us women.  We manage things.  Paul referred to women as the “managers of the house” in Titus 2:5, and managers manage things.  Consequently, our first instincts are to manage our situations.

It only took me a few minutes, however, to realize that I couldn’t manage anyone out of anything this time, and instead of moving from that realization toward Christian resolution, I moved toward anger with God.

“I know You think I’m this strong.  I know You think I can handle this, and I know You said I wouldn’t be given anything more than I could handle, but I’m not this strong!  This is too much!”

Of course, I didn’t actually yell these things out loud, although I have before.  No, this time I screamed with boldness in my head.  I really was confounded by God’s apparent misidentification of my supposed strength.  I needed Him to reconsider.

Have you ever felt this way?  Are you feeling it now?

I am ever amazed at our Father’s grace.  I’m in awe of His constant and abiding love and patience toward us.  He could have yelled back at me right then.  He could have struck me down completely for my irreverence.  That would have been warranted.

However, what He gently did was fill my head with these words:

Debbie, I do not ordain these things in your life to point you to your own strength.  I ordain them to move you toward Mine.

You see, it will forever be our propensity to try and make things about us.  It’s my knee-jerk reaction to bolster my own fortitude and figure things out, and then to be angry when I’m just not strong enough or smart enough or tolerant enough or when I feel forced to do things on my own.  This is unfortunately an anger that when harbored will quickly turn into bitterness.

Indeed there are a lot of bitter women out there, and among them is no small number of bitter Christian women.  Why?  Because we simply aren’t strong enough, and truthfully, that was never God’s point.

Everything is about Him, and these times are meant to bring attention to Him, to His strength, His love, His mercy, His care, His tolerance, His grace, and His perfect plan.

What do we do as Christian women in moments of such complete despair that we can’t even breathe?

I was pouring out to a dear friend in the middle of this—which, by the way, I highly encourage you to do—and she reminded me of exactly what we are to do when we look at the life we now live and wonder how it all went so wrong so quickly.   She reminded me of Psalm 121,

 

                                                I lift up my eyes to the hills. 

 

                                                From where does my help come?

 

                                                My help comes from the Lord,

 

                                                Who made heaven and earth.

 

When you are on your bedroom floor and the pain is beyond your ability to bear, you do the only thing you can do, you do the only thing you should do, and you lift up your eyes.

Jesus told us in Matthew 11:28-30,

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

There are going to be moments in these lives as pilgrims in this foreign land when we are nothing less than confused by the things that happen.  We can become downcast in our souls over the heartache inflicted on us by the ones we love the most, and we will gaze at our circumstances with a sadness that feels insurmountable. 

What do we do?

We lift our tired, tear dimmed eyes toward heaven and unto our Father.  We rest in His divine and loving purposes.  After all, we have a hope that the world does not share, a hope and an assurance that we do not serve a God who is an “absentee Father.”  Our Lord is fully involved in the lives of His children, and He has promised us that He has a plan, a plan that will not harm us but will bring us a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)  He has promised us that all of our lives are purposed for our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28)

So, my sisters, lift up your eyes to the hills.  From where does your help come?  Your help comes from the Lord, the very Maker of the heavens and the earth.

CALLEN_PHOTOS-21By Sarah Callen

This morning I was reading the Book of Joshua, one of my favorite books in the Bible. I love the character of Joshua and how he handled such a difficult situation with grace and dignity. More than share about an idea I squeezed out of the text, I want to invite you into this story with me. It may seem silly, but that’s okay. For the next few moments, let your imagination run with it, in fact, let your imagination run wild. Imagine yourself in the story, see the plot through the lens of different characters. Maybe begin by reading through a passage as Joshua and then go back to see it from the perspective of those living in Jericho. Open yourself up to see this story from a new perspective and allow your eyes to see something that you hadn’t noticed before.

Are you ready? Okay, let’s begin.

Before we even begin to read the text, I want you to remember what you know about the people of Israel. They, as a people group, went from being slaves to being wanderers. For 40 years these people marched around the desert; they had to wait for the old generation to die off before entering into promise. How do you think these people felt? Maybe they were small children or teenagers when they came out of Egypt. They had heard all their lives about the signs and wonders of God and seen him perform miracles as he provided for them in the desert. Now was their time: they were entering into the promised land.

Imagine the excitement that flooded their hearts and minds. I probably would’ve felt scared or some trepidation because the thing so long awaited was finally here! I wonder if they continued to complain or if they exuded worship. Moses, their leader who they had been following their entire lives, had died and his apprentice was appointed their new leader. With excitement and determination the entire nation agreed to follow him in the same manner they had followed Moses. They exuberantly expressed their determination to follow God and all his precepts. They steadfastly promised to not depart from God or his law.

The nation moves closer to their promise. I wonder if, as they grew closer, selfishness began to make itself known. I wonder if people began to grow more concerned about getting enough for themselves and less about the good of nation. How would you have felt crossing the river and seeing different scenery than you had before? I wonder if anyone swooned or cried upon seeing the land flowing with milk and honey. Did anyone have a heart attack upon seeing the beauty of the land or the size of the inhabitants?

I wonder if their countenance fell when they saw the size of Jericho. Or did they remain full of faith and hope? Jericho was essentially a fortress, it was impregnable. If the people living there didn’t want you inside, there was no way you were getting in. I think that’s probably why the Lord picked Jericho first. Have you ever thought about the fact that the Lord could’ve directed them to start taking over the land in a different area? God could’ve eased them into this idea, defeating the smaller towns first, to build up their confidence, but he didn’t. God wanted to show himself strong when the people of Israel could do nothing to assist him.

So, the Lord speaks to Joshua and downloads what’s arguably the most absurd battle plan ever: walk silently. In my mind, I always pictured a group of 100-200 people marching around this rather large wall, but in reality that number was in the thousands. Joshua 4:13 says “About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the Lord for battle, to the pains of Jericho”. Can you even imagine what it would be like to walk around a wall silently with a group of 40,000 people? Imagine how loud their footsteps would be! They would be a thundering herd who never spoke a word. I wonder how the people living inside the wall felt, did they think it was an earthquake? Or did they look outside and taunt the Israelites for their foolishness?

The Israelites obeyed and stayed silent. I wonder if they prayed quietly to themselves as they walked. Did they come up with creative hand signals to communicate with each other or were they on-task? I know I would’ve had a hard time keeping my trap shut, but I suppose there was great motivation to obey.

For 6 days they repeated this long walk. The city of Jericho itself was about 6 acres, not including the large wall and moat that surrounded it. These people were getting their workout! I wonder if feelings of uselessness or frustration began to grow in them as the days marched on. After all, they had just been wandering aimlessly in the desert for 40 years.

But then the 7th day came. I’m sure the excitement was palpable. I’m surprised they were able to hold it together for that long! I wonder if the walk that day was at a quicker pace than normal; were they almost sprinting there at the end of their 7th lap? I would imagine, though their bodies probably ached from the distance they had walked, their spirits were lifted and adrenaline was pumping, fueling them to continue forward.

Then, the moment they had been waiting for came: it came time to shout.

Imagine that sound! 40,000 people with trumpets and pent up noise within them, shouting for victory. For 40 years they had been aimless, without victory, without a home, without anything other than the provision of God, and they were about to claim the first of many promises. I like to imagine that God was smiling from ear to ear, proud of his precious people for their obedience and faith. Then the walls came down. I wonder if, because of their noise, they didn’t realize that it was happening right away. I wonder if someone in the crowd excitedly began to point as a section of the wall began to crumble right before their eyes. Then, I imagine, the shout from the crowd grew louder as they saw God come through on his promise.

One of the most beautiful things about this story is the faithfulness of God. Rahab was a prostitute living in the wall of Jericho and her whole family was spared because God had honored his promise. She ended up living with the nation of Israel for the rest of her days and is an important figure in the lineage of Jesus.

God is faithful and his promises are true. This questioning and imagining that we just went through isn’t just limited to Bible stories, but can be used in our everyday lives. When someone’s telling you a story about their lives, ask questions, and put yourself into their shoes. Insert yourself into their story and try to see things the way they do. I believe God is honored when we take a little extra time to look deeper than the surface.

Thank you for imagining with me today!

CALLEN_PHOTOS-21By Sarah Callen

Our culture glorifies “hustle”. If you do a quick Google search you’ll find countless memes about this theme and how exactly to hustle well. According to Urban Dictionary “hustle” means: “Anything you need to do to make money… be it sellin’ cars, drugs, ya body. If you makin’ money, you hustlin.’” While I appreciate this rather informative definition, it grieves my heart that this what our society glorifies. To put this another way, we live in a “meritocracy”, a system where our position in life is wholly dependent on our ability and work.

So how does this cultural, Capitalism-driven concept match up with Christianity? How do “hustle” and the truths of the Bible compare? I could argue this one both ways. There are verses about working and there are verses about resting, so how do we balance these two concepts?

I’m a workaholic. I’m good at working and for many years I found my worth and my identity in my work. I thought that I was valuable because of what I could do, not who I am. I’ve always worked at churches and schools, places where the work is never done and you have to wear many hats and work constantly, feeding my need to be needed. For years and years and years I’ve lived in this place of constantly working, unnecessarily taking on the responsibility of others, rarely taking days off because there was always some other work to be done.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been learning to stop working when I had reached my hours for the week instead of electing to work overtime. This probably seems small but has been a huge step for me. The first time I tried out this “day off” concept, it was awkward to say the least. The first day was great, I ran errands, wrote for a little while, and met up with some friends; all in all it was a nice, relaxing day. Then the second day off came. I wrote a little bit and did a few creative things but I felt lost the entire day. I asked a friend what I should do and her response was “rest”, to which I automatically replied “I don’t know how to do that.”

I have spent so much of my life focused on working that I never properly learned the art of rest. More than that, I haven’t learned a healthy way to work. I’m in the process of learning how to work and rest well.

We tend to think of work as one thing and rest as the exact opposite of work. But does it have to be that way? Is there a way to move from an either/or mindset to an “and” way of thinking? God is rest and when our focus is on him, we can operate from a place of rest knowing our success depends on him and not on our actions.

What would it look like if you were to work from a place of rest instead of a place of striving? What does “working from a place of rest” mean to you? For me, it means being full of peace, knowing that everything doesn’t rest on my shoulders. It means that while I’m working I can be in tune and in conversation with God. There’s a freedom and a relaxation that comes when you realize that who you are isn’t based on what you do.

What does “working from a place of striving” mean to you? To me, it means working to fill a need in my life. I work harder because I need to define who I am or I need to please my boss or I have to be the best. Striving is a hurried, frantic, loud posture, where your heart is never satisfied or full or quiet.

This “rest” concept is nice to talk about in a theoretical discussion, but is a lot harder to actually put into practice. It’s easy, especially with deadlines and to-do lists and bosses and co-workers, to fall back into that “hustle” mindset. When I begin to fall back into that pattern of striving I have to step back, breathe, and ask God how to proceed. I’m learning that rest is vital in our lives, no matter how much we live like it’s not.

I whole-heartedly believe we could all use more rest in our lives. What is one change you could make it this week to make room in your life to practice resting? For me I had to start small by leaving work when I say I would, even though I knew there was a lot more work left to be done. For you, it could be as simple as spending a few extra moments with the Lord, or getting a pedicure or a massage once a month, or saying “no” to that extra social engagement, or reading your favorite book, or going on a date with your significant other. Though it can be difficult, I think you’ll be amazed to see what God can do when you give him those precious, sacred moments of rest.

_________________

Sarah was raised in Tucson, Arizona, but now lives in Dallas, Texas. Sarah currently work a 9-5 job, but in her spare time she loves to write, paint, draw, and sing. Sarah wants to help people receive hope when they feel like they have none.
Sarah:  “I believe every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story is worthy of being shared.”

 

Blog: workinprogressblog.co

headshotBy Ricki Allen

Back in the year 2000, a movie came out staring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg called The Perfect Storm. It was an adaptation of a book written in the late 90’s, about a crew of fishermen who went from not catching any fish, to catching way more than they bargained for. Spoiler alert: it didn’t end well for the captain and his crew. The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed, if not for the courage of the fearless crew… Hang on, different story entirely – but did you sing that last bit? You’re welcome. The theme song from Gilligan’s Island will likely be stuck on mental repeat for the rest of the day. As soon as you think it’s gone, I’m betting you’ll start wondering how it was that Ginger always remained so well put together. I mean really, her make-up was flawless and her hair was seemingly immune to humidity. When I think back to how I looked on the last camping trip with my husband, I gotta tell you, there’s a reason this girl’s no movie star. Let’s get back on point: fisherman, boat, hurricane…the perfect storm.

While I’m not an avid fisherwoman, lately my life has mirrored that movie a bit more than I would like. As 2015 came to a close, my husband got promoted at work and I took a new job which promised to be great. While in the midst of us both learning our new roles professionally, we rang in the new year. Yippee. Cue the streamers. Shortly after tossing out the old calendar and finally remembering to type 2016, I got a call from my husband that he and my 16-year-old son had been in a car accident. Arriving at the scene and seeing all the emergency lights flashing was surreal and more than a little scary. Thankfully they were okay, but our car was totaled. But the hits just kept coming – like they literally kept coming – as in a total of four car accidents in a three-month period. How is that even possible? I have no idea. A better question might be: how are we still insured?

What a tremendously inconvenient and crazy stretch! After the second accident, I found myself thinking, “Wow. Surely this is the end of it.” After the next one, a friend reminded me that bad things come in three’s, so our luck should be turning. Yeah…I’m here to tell you that as well-meaning as she may have been, the old wife that told that tale wasn’t being entirely honest. After the fourth accident, my husband and I just looked at each other speechless. Ever a fan of silver linings, I had definitely been on the lookout for something shiny that wasn’t car parts and broken glass strewn across the street. Sure enough, there was a bright side to be found! Along with my new job came a pay increase. Boom – silver lining. We had a little more income to help offset the expenses and the addition of a car payment…not to mention our new and improved insurance premium. Sigh of relief: the storm was finally calming.

If you are an avid reader like me, or you enjoy watching movies, you will likely agree that any good story has its fair share of twists and turns. Let’s be honest, in real life things would be a bit boring if entirely predictable. However, there can come a point where one waves the white flag of surrender. That moment came for me when I received word that my company lost a big account and that I was being laid off. You know when it’s really hot out and you can see what looks like a shimmering stream of water running across the road ahead? Yeah, it was like that: my silver lining turned out to be a mirage.

Are you beginning to wonder if I was clear about how things normally go, in that guest bloggers are generally expected to write something encouraging? Believe me, I am on the same page. In the midst of a world turned upside down, I debated bowing out and waiting for a time when life was moving more smoothly, making it easier to write something lighthearted and fun. But you know what? Sometimes life isn’t fun. The truth is that life is often messy and at times can be downright frustrating! So why is it that I felt I had to put off writing for another day? Probably for the same reason so many of us feel like we have to smile and give the standard, “I’m great!” during times when our insides are in knots, our hearts are broken, and the smile on our faces is painfully forced.

There’s a line in a song that says, “Everybody hurts sometimes.” I find that simple, yet profound and oh, so very true! In the Christian world, I think many of us feel that we are not allowed to have a bad day. In the midst of that rough day (or week) that something is horribly wrong if we find ourselves feeling like we can’t take one more thing; if the storm appears to be getting the better of us. If it’s true that we all hurt, as R.E.M. so eloquently proposed, then why are so many of us under the impression that we must keep our masks firmly in place? Psalm 103:14 assures us that the Lord knows our frame, that we are but dust. That tells me that while we may be able to fool our classmates or that gal at the office, the One who knows us best isn’t buying it. He knew that we were going to have struggles and that this life would bring troubled waters and during those times, His expectation isn’t for us to pretend all is well. Frankly, it’s exhausting. Furthermore, when we attempt to keep up that charade, I believe that we rob ourselves of something far greater. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that we walk around dejected, bemoaning every challenge that comes our way, but rather that we reach out to others and lean on one another when we are overwhelmed.

The Bible is full of examples of how people deal with the storms that crash in on them. When Jonah disobeys, hops a boat to Tarshish and eventually winds up getting tossed overboard to calm the tempestuous sea, God saves him via the belly of the whale. When the disciples are caught in a storm with waves threatening to capsize their boat and they are overcome with fear, the Lord spoke and caused the winds to die down and the sea to calm. Jonah definitely got the messier deal there, but in both instances the Lord rescued his people when they called out to him. But what happens when we don’t get the miraculous solution to life’s dilemmas?

In Exodus, we watch Moses grow into a remarkable leader. I mean seriously, that guy did everything from receiving the ten commandments to dealing with a rather testy Pharaoh who was none too happy with what had become a substandard water supply, along with an infestation of unsightly critters, skin conditions…those plagues were no joke. Fast forward past manna from heaven and a rock springing forth with enough water to quench everyone’s thirst, and we find the people of Israel facing off against one of their greatest enemies, the Amalekites. Moses sends Joshua and his men off to battle while he stands on a hill holding the staff of God. When he held it high, the Israelites prevailed, but when he lowered his hands, the tables turned. Sheesh, no pressure there. If you’ve ever had to hold a position for any length of time, then you can imagine the feeling as the weariness set in. Did Moses pretend he was fine and just push through alone? Nope. A sage guy like Moses knew he needed to rely on the Lord and on others. Aaron and Hur got him a rock to sit on and they each took a side and held his arms up, sharing the burden until sunset.

It would be fantastic if as you read this today you find yourself perplexed, thinking: wow, I have no idea what she’s talking about – my life is an amazing anxiety-free utopia. However, in the event that you find yourself in the midst of a gale, I implore you to let your guard down and allow someone else to help shoulder the load. I’ll leave you with this: “Two are better than one…for if they fall, one will lift up his companion: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has no one to help him up…a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

 

 

CALLEN_PHOTOS-21By Sarah Callen

Have you ever met one of those people who is the epitome of freedom? They don’t care what other people think and don’t seem to be phased by what happens to them, but continue to go forward with almost reckless abandon? I’m not one of those people. I would like to be, but I am far from their level of freedom. I have a comfort zone, a routine, to which I have grown accustomed and like to maintain. Interestingly enough, the most free people I know are those who are very close to God, intimately tuned into his voice, and actively seeking his face. The most free people I know have trusted God through good and bad, displaying an awe-inspiring amount of faith. Trusting God is great in theory, until he asks you to do something that makes you uncomfortable. So, what do you do when his direction or instruction flies in the face of your instincts?

 

All of our favorite Bible characters navigated through this same internal struggle. Let’s look at Moses. God told him that he would be used to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. What a ridiculous notion! Then, after they had been rescued from their oppressors, God sustained his people through miracles as they wandered about in the desert. God’s instructions to Moses were ridiculous, but he obeyed, why? It wasn’t because he was being forced or coerced into submission. Moses obeyed because he knew God. He knew His voice and character, making obedience a no-brainer. So why do we struggle so often with following God’s instructions?

 

I want you to think about a time when God has told you to do something. It could be going and speaking to someone, forgiving someone who hurt you, quitting something or starting something new, or a thousand other things. Do you have yours in mind? I have mine. Now, how does that instruction or direction make you feel? Now, that’s a strange question coming from me, I’m not one to talk about feelings often, but I’m learning that there’s value to this type of self-assessment. I think two of the main responses can be: fear or freedom. I think your reaction depends wholly on your perspective. Let me say it another way, your response to obedience reveals your view of God.

 

The Bible says that God is love, it’s not that he can love or he loves well, but he is the very definition of love. The Bible also says that perfect Love casts out all fear, meaning that fear cannot exist in the same space as perfect love. When a frightening directive is given by God and your focus is on the directive and yourself (i.e. a selfish perspective), the natural result is fear. But when you focus on the one giving the command, it can be a freeing experience.

 

Most of the time, I take the selfish road, as I am a very selfish individual. But the interesting thing is that this perspective always leads to my detriment. By focusing on myself and how God’s word effects me it causes me to operate in a place of fear. But, when I change my perspective and focus on God, my response changes. When I know that God loves me and is always looking out for me I can trust that his directions are indeed good. I can know that He wants good things for me and will work things together for my benefit and not to my destruction.

 

I don’t know what you’re facing right now, but I know that God is good. Every time I have entered into a period of transition or stepped into something scary, God has pulled through and, despite all the bumps in the road, I’ve come out better on the other side. And I believe he will do the same for you. If you’re frighted by that next step He’s telling you to take, know that you’re not alone. It’s okay to react with fear, but you can’t stay there. When fear begins to creep in, whispering in your ear to run away or hide, change your perspective and focus on the One who is speaking to you and leading you.

 

I’m not writing this because I have mastered this or because I have this all figured out. I’m writing this because I’m in the middle of it right now. What God is telling me to do scares me and I have to daily, sometimes hourly, shift my focus to the Lord and off my situation. I’m asking you to join me on this faith walk as we continue to move toward God and away from ourselves.

 

A simple shift in perspective can change everything. I’m willing to humble myself and change my thinking, are you?

 

 

Sarah was raised in Tucson, Arizona, but now lives in Dallas, Texas. She currently works a 9-5 job, but in her spare time she loves to write, paint, draw, and sing. More importantly, she wants to help people receive hope when they feel like they have none.
Sarah:  “I believe every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story is worthy of being shared.”

 

Sarah’s Blog: workinprogressblog.co