Rest for the Weary

I don’t know about you, but I am so, so weary.

The election debacle, tragic stories in the news, and controversy within the church at large.  Even arguments in my own home.

I have felt alternately riled up, worn down, and again, just weary of it all.  Anyone else?

I don’t have the answers, except that Jesus IS the answer.

Consider these verses (all emphasis mine):

Psalm 119:28

“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”

Isaiah 40:29

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

God’s word and His presence refresh, provide strength, and give rest.  I am so grateful.

I’m praying that you are able to sit with God for a few moments today and just rest in Him.

What to do when you don’t know what to do.

It was mid-2001.  I had a newborn (my first).  I was beginning to learn that the norm of motherhood is not having all the answers (or, really, any of the answers).

I had also committed to reading through the bible for the first time that year.  I may have been a little optimistic in my goal setting, huh?

I got through Genesis and Exodus pretty easily – after all, they are pretty fascinating stories!  Then I hit Leviticus and to be honest, I started to wonder not only about my level of commitment to this goal, but also about whether or not the Old Testament would have many lessons for my daily life.  I stuck with it.  And was amazed by the store of wisdom from God in those pages.

I remember happening upon the story of Jehoshaphat, King of Israel, in 2 Chronicles Chapter 20.  He  was one of the kings who did seek God – in fact in Chapter 19, he was described as having his heart set on God.  So in Chapter 20 we find him with an opposing nation coming at him intent on war.  And this verse is the one that caught my attention because it resonated with me – verse 21 – “Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”  In other words – he was crying out to God to manage this situation because he knew he couldn’t.  He didn’t know what to do, so he did what he was able- he set not only his heart but his eyes on God.

Sound familiar to any of you?  I have come back to this verse again and again through my years of mothering because there are so many times I don’t know what to do.  Can you relate?

The amazing thing in this story is what happens next.  God hears Jehoshaphat’s prayer and answers it by giving a message to Jehoshaphat through someone in his community.  Verses 15-17 share what this man said to Jehoshaphat, “This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.  Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel.  You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”‘

God speaks such sweet words of encouragement to Jehoshaphat:  I’ve got this.  Don’t be afraid.  Don’t get discouraged because you don’t know what to do.  Even though the circumstances look bleak, you will get through this with my help.  I won’t leave you alone.

Listen up, friends.  God is speaking the same words of encouragement to you today.  If you are in a place where you don’t know what to do next, it’s ok!  All you have to do is set your eyes on Him.  Look to Him for guidance and direction.  Trust Him and He will provide.

This hope.

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. "
~Hebrews 16:19  

Life gets real, doesn’t it?

It seems like in your 40s, it gets really real.  Marriages end.  You can no longer control your kids exposure to “the world” as much as you might want to.  People get sick.  Maybe you aren’t where you thought you’d be at this point in life.  Your own body starts to turn against you.  You lose your job.  You lose loved ones.  Someone close to you gets cancer.  Your kids make mistakes – maybe big ones.  There are new challenges to deal with.

All of these with increasing regularity.

Really Real, I tell you!  I feel it and I see it and I experience it in and around me.

But this.  God has been providing us with some amazingly beautiful sunrises lately.  Not only does the sun rise every morning, even on hard days – but the creator of all things gives us a bonus and makes it beautiful for us.

sunrise

It has just been a reminder for me that my hope is solely in God.  He is faithful, unchanging, and loves me more than I can fathom.

This hope.

This hope is an anchor for my soul.

Happy 2016!

Merry Christmas (a few weeks late) and Happy New Year!

Here’s a picture of our family at church on Christmas Eve.  It’s been so long since we’ve actually gotten a picture together as a family and it kind of shocked me to see how tall my kids have gotten!

22

So 2016 is here, the kids have been back to school for a week now, and I guess it’s time to reflect on where I’ve been and where I feel God calling me in this new year.

Although I just posted in December about these verses having been laid upon my heart last year, I feel God continuing to tell me I need to keep these in focus for 2016.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

This is what I wrote in my prayer journal a few days ago – so that I could put these themes into practice in my life.

Rejoice always – find joy in being present with my people (not being distracted by to-do lists or technology), live life to the full as if today is my last day (John 10:10), focus on the positive

Pray continually – continue to spend time with God each morning, get better at seeking Him during the day before responding/reacting to situations, pray instead of worry, make a habit of praying as a couple

Give thanks – continue my thankfulness journal, search for the good that God might bring out of every situation, be content with what and to where God has brought me

Feel free to remind me of these throughout the year if you think I’ve forgotten!

Where do you feel God calling you to focus your energy in 2016?

He will make your paths straight.

It’s funny how many turns a year can take, isn’t it?  I guess that’s just part of life.  And I can’t even handle that it’s nearly mid-December.  But I am so glad that God promises us in Proverbs 3:6 that if we acknowledge him, he will make our paths straight.

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you may know I set goals at the beginning of every year.  I never posted them, but here were my goals for 2015:

  1. After losing a paycheck and feeling like my house (and in turn my mind) were basically in chaos, one of my goals was to (daily) make sure my kitchen table and dining room table were cleaned off.  In January, I did great.  In the same vein, I wanted to reduce clutter so I joined a clutter free challenge (link here in case you’re interested) and it went really well.  With each piece of “stuff” I got rid of, I felt free-er and lighter. Then life happened.  Ha!  You should see my kitchen table this morning, piled up with papers and books and bags and mail, and whatever else my kids dropped there!!  But in between there has been what my favorite author, Lysa Terkeurst, calls “imperfect progress”.
  2. Another of the things I wanted to work on this year was being a more constant pray-er.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “pray continually” and I really wanted to have a more constant connection with God in my daily life.  Again, there has been imperfect progress here.
  3. Enjoy life more.  I tend toward seriousness and I wanted to lighten up a little.  One way was to try to play more games with my kids and that has definitely added a bit of fun to our lives.  We’ve been playing backgammon a lot this year and now my two youngest usually beat me!

As 2015 wore on and I was having some health issues, I added another focus for the year – to be more content and thankful for what I have.  Laying on the couch all of July made me realize that there is so much to life that I take for granted!!

So here’s what’s so neat about the way God works.  As my kids started school in September and I was struggling to get everything in order (even the kitchen table!).  I was going to write 1 Thessalonians 5:17 on my chalkboard in the kitchen so I would be reminded to abide with God each moment during  week.  As I looked it up, I read the whole passage:

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Isn’t that interesting?  I started just with intentionally working on just verse 17 at the beginning of the year but what God has really been working in me has been all of verses 16-18!  Through the course of the year these themes of rejoicing, prayer, and thankfulness have just been rewritten on my heart over and over again.

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Amen and amen!

 

 

 

Prayer: Not a Last Resort!

DUH, right?

About a month ago I stood in a small room as my son was getting his blood drawn.  He was anxious.  Defiant, but quietly, as is his pattern in public.  But there was no more I could do to help him through it.

All I had left was prayer over the situation.  And as I lifted up some prayers, I realized.

My typical operating mode in day-to-day life is to look at prayer as a last resort.

In my head, I know it shouldn’t be.  And I do (nearly daily) have some prayer time set aside in the mornings.  But I had gotten to the point where I prayed, checked that off my to-do list, and then slipped into the rest of my day focused on what I had planned for the day.  And only when I got myself in a situation where I felt like there was nothing else I could do about it was I prompted to pray.

I had forgotten 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – “pray continually.”

Do you ever find yourself praying only as a last resort?

I just know God was whispering to me in that moment – “don’t rely on your own ability.   Rely on me.”  And the lesson is that I need to rely on Him even when I feel capable!!!

So my goal in the immediate future – pray continually (and especially in the many mundane moments of the day), and get in the habit of relying on Him alone, always.

So I’ll leave you with this – a quote I heard on the radio early this year and which hasn’t left me.  (Forgive me, I’ll have to paraphrase and I don’t remember who said it!  If I find out, I’ll let you know!)

“In order to fully follow God, we need to give up the thought that we know anything.”

Learning to Trust

ah, this life of faith, this walking with Jesus…

for me it always comes down to learning each day how to trust Him a little more.

Have you ever been in a situation where you clearly hear God telling you to do something, you obey, and you don’t get the result you wanted or expected?  Maybe you get a “no” when you were thinking you’d get a “yes”.  Maybe a door closed instead of opened.

I had recent experience with this.  I was in a situation where I was very prayerful about each step I was taking.  I heard God and I obeyed.  And I got “no”s.  Twice.

And just about this time I started putting my hands on my hips (ok, just figuratively) and asking God what He was doing.  Why would he have me do that if he knew it wasn’t going to work?  Did I not hear Him correctly?  Surely it would have been easier and better to do it a different way, God!

As I was telling God just what I thought of His plan (yes, I have some control issues), He gently reminded me of another situation that had happened at the beginning of this year – and the lesson He taught me at that time.  Again I was in a situation where I felt I had obeyed but a door closed when I thought it would be opened.  At the same time, my son and I were doing some Bible reading together.  Part of Moses’ story –  in Exodus chapters 7 -11 if you want to check it out.  God sent Moses to Pharaoh to demand the release of the Israelites, not one, but eleven times.  Eleven times Moses obeyed, and eleven times Pharaoh refused!  When I read it with my son I had wondered if Moses ever questioned why God had him go to Pharaoh and ask each time, even when God told Him Pharaoh would refuse.  In other words, why do it – why go through all that- if it wasn’t going to work?

Sound familiar?

I love how God is so personal – reminding us of the very thing we need to hear right when we need to hear it!!

This story has given me the gift of perspective in both situations, and I’m sure many more to come.  There is no reason to be disappointed when things don’t go the way I think they should – because God always has a better plan and in the midst of His plan rolling out, His glory can be displayed!

Exodus 11:9, …so that my wonders will be multiplied…”

I trust God.  I trust that His plans are better.  I trust that He can use what looks like a bump in the road or the end of a road to display His glory in some way.

In this latest situation, I had to get two “no”s before I got a “yes”.  And the “yes” was a good one.  A perfect one!

Why did He make me go through the “no”s?  Maybe it was for me to learn more how to trust.  Maybe it was for the others involved in some way.  I don’t know for sure and I may never know.

But He does, and that’s enough.