Tag Archives: trust

Why I Feel Like I am Sharing in the Israelites’ Journey

Why would anyone be upset with God when their prayers were answered as they had hoped?

For years, the Israelites served  the Egyptians under oppressive conditions . But God was aware of their suffering and the deliverance they longed for was about to take place.

“The Lord said, “I have seen how my people are suffering in Egypt. I have heard them cry out because of their slave drivers. I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to save them from the Egyptians. I will bring them up out of that land…” (Exodus 3:7-8)

Getting what we wish for can be a dangerous thing.

Lately, I find myself resonating with the Israelites’ frustration and perspective. Recently, our family received deliverance. For over a decade, we sought release from financial, work, and medical burdens. It seemed that every time that an impending release appeared possible,  another problem arose to counter the feeling of freedom.

Finally, we entered into a new place. After years of praying for respite from a continuous string of unexpected stresses, we felt rescued and embraced the peace found within it.

For the first few months, we rejoiced. We knew it was God’s hand that brought this blessing. It’s not that we didn’t thank God for anything during the previous years, but this dramatic transition brought physical awareness for where we had come. Truthfully, some of the sources of worry had disappeared. Health had stabilized. Financial issues were resolved. My husband was released from a long difficult job experience. Celebration commenced.

When the Israelites were finally released from captivity, they too praised God. There had been many close calls that seemed to threaten the fulfillment of God’s promise to them.

“They said to Moses,’Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.’” (Exodus 14:11-12)

But when it happened, they celebrated. They sang, danced, and relished in the gift of a respite.

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
    horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.
  The Lord is my strength and my might,[a]
    and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him…”(Exodus 15:1-2)

But, unbeknownst to them, the release was not without it’s own set of challenges. They were not done moving.

Our expectations of how God will work and preconceived notions of God’s character can result in disappointment. We look at our narrative unfolding through human eyes.

 The Israelites said to them, “We wish the Lord had put us to death in Egypt. There we sat around pots of meat. We ate all the food we wanted. But you have brought us out into this desert. You must want this entire community to die of hunger.” (Exodus 16:3)

God was moving them to a better place. But the in-between space did not match what they envisioned.

Couldn’t the comfort have lasted a little longer?

Currently, we are moving toward a new place again. Not a new home but new jobs. Our transition doesn’t feel as euphoric as it did in the beginning. God’s hand doesn’t seem to be moving as quickly as we wished. The feast has ended. The provision is appearing in forms different than what we planned. Our bodies are growing weary.

The journey seems long and, at times, discouraging. But we know that God never forgot the Israelites. And we are not forgotten either.

We are aware that the vision we hold is not complete. And we will keep trusting (clinging at times) to the promises given to the Israelites along their way.

Because God always wants to lead us to a better place than we were in before. Even if we don’t understand the stops along the way.

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Why I Find Comfort Walking in Peter’s Footprints

 

I can hear the voice beckoning me forward.

By all Heavenly accounts, I have nothing to fear. Have I forgotten the miracles Jesus has performed in front of my eyes? Do I believe the testimony of wonders shared throughout scripture?

By all Earthly accounts, I have everything to fear. Voices of “reason” echo in my head. Don’t I know where I should be securing my feet?

My husband was laid off in March. Our severance package ended. And we held onto expectations for the way we would be rescued from our boat in the midst of this abyss.

But currently, we wait.

I glance down at the “water” that surrounds me. Wide and cloudy. No clear path is yet visible.

But Jesus stretches out his hand and keeps calling.

Does Jesus not realize what he is asking? How on Earth can it happen?

“Don’t be afraid. Take courage, I am here.”

I cry out, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

Jesus replies, “Yes, come.”

So I step out of the safe confines of my “boat.” I dip a toe in. Fear holds me back from putting my whole weight on one foot.

The implications are not lost on me. I know people who have stepped into this place that is unknown; unpredictable. Didn’t some of them sink?

But this moment isn’t about them. It’s about me. There are plenty of human based reasons to refuse to walk toward Jesus’ voice.

But what will I lose if I don’t?

Ironically, I cannot walk forward if I remain balancing on one leg. So, slowly, I move the other foot in front. I can’t believe it! I am walking toward Jesus!

And then the winds begin picking up speed. Keeping my balance and my eyes focused on Jesus’ outstretched arm becomes difficult.

Another job prospect fell through. Our car broke down.

I didn’t expect this challenge. If Jesus is inviting me to come, why am I being knocked around as I make my way toward his reach?

What if we plunge downward?

Save me Lord!

Jesus grabs my attention.

A week long contract appears out of the blue. A side job appears. Our every need is provided.

Jesus calls out to me, “You have so little faith. Why did you doubt me?”

Truthfully? Because I’m human. Like Peter, who laid out the path ahead of me, I lean toward what my mind can grasp. It cannot comprehend the divinity which intersects in our Earthly moments.

Of course, I have witnessed wonders earlier in my life which can only be attributed to the works of a mighty God. Many times I have felt Jesus speaking to my heart and providing clarity. And, like Peter, I am no stranger to the accounts of miraculous activity in the lives of others. Scripture gives no shortage of those interactions. Both of us share the witnessing (he-personally; me-through scripture) of Jesus feeding a multitude with a few loaves and fishes. And what about that storm that abruptly halted upon Jesus’ command?

Still, fear lingers.

But I walk forward in faith. Because I simply can’t refuse to remain stuck in a false pretense of security. My current place of refuge may appear secure because it’s where I have found comfort. But ultimately, it only brought security because Jesus led me to it at one point.

Now, I’m being led to trust him once again. He has never let me down.

Peter, surely found security in following Jesus otherwise he would have abandoned him.

Jesus did not promise safety and predictability then and doesn’t now. But he does promise living abundantly.

So I walk to embrace it; legs wobbly but headed in a straight line toward him. And should the winds threaten to throw my balance off, I know that Jesus will grab me. Again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soul Care-After an Unexpected Descent Into Depression

Without warning, I found my mental state rapidly shifting. For one week in late March, it seemed to spin out of my control. Increasing anxiety gripped my soul, its force building stronger each day. Suddenly, the anxiety transformed into a deep depression. Never had I felt such a heaviness pressing upon me.  After a few days, the weight lifted.

Making sense of it left me pondering: Why now? I had been treated for anxiety and depression for the last 15 years. For most of that period, my moods remained stable. Any shifts lasted only a few days. Through medication and therapy, I learned to manage my illnesses. However, this time, I felt blindsided; the symptoms appeared unexpectedly. Even though I was exhausted, the experience left me puzzled.

Read the whole post at http://mudroomblog.com/soul-care-unexpected-descent-depression/

Where is the safest place?

 

Sometimes life doesn’t make sense. The reality of living in a world of brokenness washes over us on a daily basis. Yet, I think we are still caught off guard by it……and sometimes the depth of that brokenness challenges us.

In November 2015,  Amanda Blackburn, wife and new mother, (her son wasn’t yet one years old and she was pregnant with their second child) was simply in the midst of her daily routines when an intruder broke into the home. Her husband of a couple of years, came home from the gym to find his beloved soulmate dying. She had been sexually assaulted and shot. Somehow, in the midst of their everyday tasks, in the refuge of their home, the life they knew was shattered.

I know this scenario is not exceptional. Sadly, the random taking of a life happens everyday, all over the world. People lose children, spouses, parents, friends unexpectedly everyday. Sometimes, the events are preventable. Sometimes they are not. Yet, because the we cannot fathom the pain endured by those affected, and because we know that we could easily find ourselves in their place one day, the gut reaction is to find reason.  We grasp for control. We tell ourselves that if we can explain the incident away, then we can remove ourselves from “that place” of vulnerability.

As I read comments to the articles on Amanda’s murder, I noticed a thread in one of the discussions. Perhaps this young vibrant couple should have done their research before relocating from South Carolina to Indianapolis? Unfortunately, sin happens everywhere. And when you are a follower of Christ, you cannot go anywhere that will assure you of safety. And that’s the rub. Jesus never made safety a prerequisite for following him.

The Blackburns knew that: which is why they moved to Indianapolis. The Blackburns left their beloved church in the south to follow God’s leading to begin a new church in Indianapolis. According to the church’s website, “Davey and Amanda Blackburn moved to Indianapolis in January of 2012 with a dream and a calling to start a life-giving church that would connect with people who normally wouldn’t connect with church. (http://resonateindianapolis.com/our-story/).” 

At a conference I attended, Rev. Raleigh Washington shared about his personal experience regarding the costs of following Christ. He and his family moved to Chicago to plant a church. The neighborhood to which they moved was one depicted by poverty and oppression. Violence, unfortunately, occurred on a daily basis. One day, his son was physically assaulted by another student as he got off the school bus. Friends of the family questioned Raleigh and his decision to move to a “dangerous” place. His response is etched in my heart and my mind. “My friends,” he said, “the most dangerous place to live is outside the will of God.”

That truth is uncomfortable. It’s no wonder Jonah jumped out of the boat. He feared going to a dangerous place. Which, by human accounts, it was. Have you researched the Ninevites? But this life isn’t about us. It’s about God and a bigger picture that involves us.

Several years ago, my husband was offered an opportunity to work in Florida. It sounded like a fantastic opportunity. He even would have traveled to the Bahamas occasionally. Our child was a toddler. What could possibly be wrong with this offer? We were ready to jump on it. But first, we committed to praying and seeking God’s blessing on this new move. And you know what? It didn’t happen. So we prayed some more. And we still didn’t sense God’s blessing. We had to acknowledge that, for us, Sarasota was a dangerous place to live. Not because of criminal activity. But because it was outside of God’s will.

Not all dangerous places look the same

So, let’s pray for the Blackburns.  Their lives have been changed forever.  Her family and friends are experiencing brokenness in its most intense Earthly form. But evil does not have the last word.  Amanda may not be here on Earth.  The expectations her husband held for how they would serve God together may have changed, but God’s revelation and purposes have not. This is the place to which they were called to live.  And because of that, it is anything but a dangerous place.

“Trust in the Lord  with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”  (proverbs 3:5-6)

 

 

 

Overcoming Restlessness on Those Long Detours: Learning From Mary

Several years ago, my preschool son drew a picture of Mary and Joseph. Not just any picture, mind you. Usually, the manger scene as represented through the eyes of a child wielding a crayon finds its place on a paper canvas.  But Eli’s mind captured a different scene in the narrative. He captured what he believed to be Mary’s perspective on a long journey.

mary

 

“Are we there yet?”

Long journeys arouse restlessness in my youngest. He tends to be very organized and finds comfort in checking off lists. Oh, he loves adventure and even surprises but he’d prefer them to unfold in a brief, orderly process. His eye is fixed on a goal and arriving there according to his timeline and expectations of the journey. Imagining Mary on a long trek to anywhere brought empathy from him.

Little did he realize that traveling to Bethlehem signified a very small milestone on the road leading to God’s purposes for her.

Only nine months earlier, this teen found herself ordained to a new purpose. Unexpected, Holy. Scandalous. Sometimes new paths entice us with a sense of exciting adventure.  Although Mary offered praise to God for this new calling (Luke 1:46-55), I’m not sure even she fully understood the earthly ramifications of such a journey.

How do we respond to those seasons in our own lives when we suddenly find that the familiar path we are accustomed to trodding is closed off?

A detour sign emerges-signaling that the better route is the new, unfamiliar one. Reluctantly we begin; not knowing where it will take us. Unaware of what we may encounter along the way. Often, it seems, the detour takes way longer to arrive at the destination than had we taken the shorter, familiar one. At least that’s what we believe. But….the detour sign was there for a reason.

Are we there yet?

As the detour continues longer than anticipated, we grow weary. Surrendering ourselves to the One who plots our course can take us to places we’d rather not visit. The physical, emotional and spiritual compressing takes its toll on our earthly selves. Haven’t I walked far enough? Is there something else of which I need to let go? 

 Nearly nine months into her pregnancy, she and Joseph were required to register for the census in their hometown. Not convenient for this couple. Three grueling days is the estimated time span of traveling by foot from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Ninety miles were spent navigating a rugged terrain and daunting hills. In addition, the chilly weather, dense forests of the Jordan Valley, and hidden predators made the trip particularly dangerous.

However, it was not as dangerous as the place that exists outside of the will of God. Mary, in her praises to God, acknowledges the accounts of God’s character displayed through His people. Merciful. Strong. Provider. Creator. Sustainer. Holy.  With those narratives alive in her mind, she kept walking.

Are we there yet?

The detour continued. Did Mary wonder if her detour culminated with Jesus’ birth? Is that “there?” As she feels the baby wiggling, does she ponder where along this road, the promised King living inside her would make his debut?  “There” may have appeared as a foggy destination.

Henri Nouwen writes, “To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our own imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our imagination, fantasy, or prediction.” (“The Spirituality of Waiting”)

Mary trusted that God was weaving a narrative far beyond her own imagining. And that is why she kept walking. To “There.”

As I ponder Mary’s journey, I am reminded of my own detours. Some I have embraced. Others have been met with protest. The new journeys took me into unfamiliar territory. Some treks I would prefer not to take again. Yet, God walked with me. And molded me. And loved me. And assured me that I had nothing to fear.

Because no matter my destination, or where I think it may be, God is with me. Always.

When I question the unexpected turns, God is with me.

When I stagger because my body is worn from fighting evil forces preying on my soul along the way, God is with me.

God is with us. Immanuel.

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you[a] a sign: The virgin[b] will conceive and give birth to a son, and[c] will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

Because of Him we have hope. We have no need to fear wherever life takes us. Like Mary, we can keep walking.