Bobbing in the Deep Blue

The peacefulness of a leisurely ride around the lake is my idea of a perfect lake day.

I have children and a grown-up child at heart husband, though. Their idea of a lake day involves tubing and skiing.

My husband tried to teach me how to ski once. That old wooden ski popped up and whacked me on the head. Even though his parents have since purchased newer skis, my desire to learn to ski drowned in the bottom of the lake years ago.

Tubing is not my friend, either. Something about being dumped off a tube and left bobbing in the deep blue as I wait for the boat to rescue me leaves me feeling so vulnerable and out of control.

Those are two things that I do not like. Vulnerability and lack of control.

Surely, I am not the only one out there who hates that feeling…

And yet, this is exactly the place God has allowed me to swim in this current season. The waters have been rocky at times. When you stand before uncertain times as I have been and yet can be calm and trust God to guide you through, then that my friend is peace.

Jesus said in John 14:27 (NLT)… “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

In Exodus 14:14…the Lord will fight for you; you only need to be still.

And another great reminder….Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Some seasons in life are just simply hard. They test our faith and endurance. In the end, they are great opportunities to grow in our faith and trust that God is truly in control.

My pastor had a great word of encouragement to continue to trust and persevere in our faith walk….blessings come with investment.

So, keep on walking and swimming in your faith.

And in my laking case? I did end up tubing with a friend asking our husbands to please take us at a slow pace. We trusted them and guess what? They were true to their promise.

I will likely never find myself on skis like my daughter, but I will keep plunging along in faith despite the uncertainty of the future.

Sometimes, a little vulnerability and uncertainty while you bob in the deep blue is exactly what we need in order to find ourselves exactly where God can allow our faith to grow.

Have you ever found yourself bobbing in the deep blue waters of uncertainty?

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Comfortable with Uncomfortable

I remember sharing a thought with a friend once…I don’t think God wants us comfortable.

In the valley of comfortable is the land of complacency, stagnation, and indifference. I have been there more than a few times.

In Joshua chapter 7, after experiencing a great victory, the people face a defeat. Joshua laments, Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all-to deliver us into the land of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great name?

How does God answer him? Get up!!

How easy do we forget our victories when we are faced with challenges, defeats, and mountains??

I am not comfortable now. I am being stretched and challenged. More than once recently, I have felt God telling me to get up when I felt knocked down.

This morning, I can smile. I have had some challenging days, but I have sensed the Hand of God all over my life. Little things have caused me to step back and smile. Progress not perfection. Seeing my son interact in such caring ways with residents. Positive interactions with the staff and residents. Allowing myself to take feedback, reflect, and be willing to grow from it instead of internalizing and being defensive.

Sometimes in the midst of struggle, it can be hard to find the light in the desert.

The light is there. When we keep our eyes and thoughts fixed on God, it keeps our focus on where it should be. My friend, I don’t know what your life looks like, but if you are feeling uncomfortable…trust God to use your situation to stretch you and grow you closer to Him.

Who do you say He is?

Who do you say I am?

This is the question Jesus asked his disciples. He wasn’t interested in what they thought other people defined Him as. He wanted to know who they defined Him as. (Matthew 16:13-15)

Our pastor asked us to close our eyes during the sermon. We were to ask ourselves that question. In the quiet of the church, with my eyes closed, I dared to ask myself that question.

Rescuer.

Jesus is my Rescuer. As my Savior, He has rescued me from the depths of hell. He has rescued me from the storms of life. That’s not to say I haven’t endured the storms, but He has walked with me to the other side. And most often, He rescues me from myself.

How often are we slaves to the bondage we enslave ourselves to? The pain of our past. Bitterness. Anger. Fear. Anxiety. Complacency. Unworthiness.

What is enslaving you?

As I sat by myself enjoying some much needed quiet time, I glanced down at my feet dangling in the water.

What did I focus on?

The chipped off paint from my nails. Life chips away from our feelings of completeness, worthiness, and beauty. Just as the chlorine stripped away the paint, we allow the irritations of life to strip and chip away at us.

So, yes, Jesus is my Rescuer. He rescues me those feelings of unworthiness, of failure, of fear…

When the world screams that I should just give up, throw the towel in, walk away, be knocked down, surrender to defeat…He whispers to me that He is right with me in the midst of every storm, every failure, every feeling of defeat and inadequacy that I feel. He knows those hopes and dreams deep in my heart. And, He knows the fears that surround them.

I am stronger from the struggle.

When I can analyze not internalize and self reflect for my growth and spend 1-1 time in prayer, yes, I know I will be okay. The struggle is real and the battles seldom cease, but Jesus is my Rescuer.

His promises are true. He sustains and carries me. He anchors me.

I challenge you to ask yourself…Who do you say He is?

Whispers

Uninspired.

That’s what I was feeling.

Exhausted, too, but that comes with the territory of life sometimes.

Then, an unexpected voice sharing with me that she reads my blog, my little collection of thoughts…it caused me to pause for a moment.

It always surprises me, humbles me to learn that someone takes time to read my words.

Words. They have such power. They can lift a person up, or they can destroy a relationship. Sometimes, there are no words. Sometimes fewer words are best.

Sometimes, we come so close to missing the words that matter. In a very noisy world full of noise where everyone thinks they have something to say, do we sometimes miss the important things? The words we need to hear?

One of my favorite Old Testament passages is this…

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

We want big miracles when sometimes, it is the simple words of another like I experienced today that uplifts our weary spirit and refreshes our soul.

What ways has He whispered fresh life into your weary soul?

He Has Already Begun

Have you ever felt like you were in a dry wasteland?

I have been spending a lot of time lately in the Old Testament. I seem to be able to relate to these characters. They made mistakes. They doubted. They didn’t always see the bigger picture. They feared. And, they waited. For. A. Long. Time.

Sigh.

In our microwave, high speed society, we want instant messaged answers. It usually doesn’t work this way.

I am in the midst of a waiting season. In the waiting, a lot is happening. God is doing work in my life, but it’s hard, and it often doesn’t feel good.

I read this passage in Isaiah 43:19 NLT:
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

The thought that hit me after I read that passage is this…I am that dry wasteland!

God is working in my life. Through these seasons as I wait and trust Him to unfold my dreams, He is doing something new. It is already underway even on days when I feel exhausted, depleted, and defeated.

And another amazing revelation? He doesn’t need my help!!

Wow, the God who created the universe does not need my help. That has been so freeing.

So, wherever you are on the journey towards your dreams, know that God is already paving the way.

He has gone before you. He only needs your response of obedience.
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

God is with you. I have spent a lot of time in worry trying to figure out the next steps. He is already with me, and He’s with you.

Enjoy the new life springing forward in you!

He has already begun the good work in you.

Not All is Lost

Sometimes, we lose things.

This past weekend has been challenging for me. I dropped my phone for the umpteenth time. Unfortunately, I cracked my internal screen, and the black screen of death stared back at me. I lost pictures, notes, and other odds and ends stored on that phone.

My wedding ring broke. The band came apart. This is likely from excessive hand sanitizer use in my daily job. I have lost the familiarity of having my ring on my finger until it is fixed.

We lost our freedom temporarily the other day when our Jeep stranded us miles from home. We were at the mercy of others to come rescue us.

Over the past several years, I have lost the ability to eat whatever I choose due to chronic stomach issues and an autoimmune disease.

Yet, sometimes, the things we lose aren’t tangible things we can touch.

What do we do when the things we lose are intangible? When we can’t touch them or easily replace them?

Things like patience, hope, peace…

I have been reading the book of Joshua. In chapter 7, Joshua and his people are defeated. Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the ground. He cries out to the Lord…why have You brought us here to destroy us?

God had called them out of their comfort, but He had also just brought them victory over the battle of Jericho. Oh, how easily we forget God’s miracles and blessings in our life when things seem hopeless.

How did God respond to Joshua?

Joshua chapter 7:10… So the Lord said to Joshua: “Get up! Why do you lie on your face?”

The chapter goes on to talk about holding people accountable…they have a second chance at the battle…they win and all praise is to God.

How many times have we felt defeated? Hopeless? Exhausted?

The story doesn’t have to end there.

In loss, there is much to gain. Jesus gave up His life so that we may live and live more abundantly.

God is the God of all our days…the good ones, the bad ones, and the really hard ones.

Sometimes, the greatest blessings are found in the times of loss. Sometimes, we have to die to self-our pride, fears, self reliance- in order to discover the blessings of all He has in store for us. Not all is lost.

May He be the God of all your days.

Right where we Need to Be

Ever feel like your vision is like this?

Blurry? Disorienting? Like yet another snowy drive home…

Defeated. The word I used to describe myself the other night. Exhausted and defeated with a distorted sense of my vision.

God poured sweetness right back into my soul that very next morning. The gift of three women. We call our little monthly gatherings our writing group, but God is doing something more. It was a step of obedience, a response to the nudge, the call to form a writing group. We are small, but we are growing in our comfort with one another. Fellowship, laughter, encouragement. All the defeat washed away by the reminder of His promises.

But yet, here I am again tonight. Exhausted. Defeated. Tomorrow is a new day. Sleep will come. It will restore my soul. Renew me, refresh me.

This vision, becoming clearer, revealed in Holy whispers, sacred moments.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to Him, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. Psalm 37:4-5

These are His promises, unfolding in His timing.

I heard a sermon that shared some insight… God allows conflict to help us grow closer to Him.

If this is true, I shouldn’t be surprised when hard things come my way. Growth seldom occurs when things are easy. I don’t have all the answers. I certainly don’t know what to do sometimes. I stand confused at times wondering when, why, which way?

Today, I read something beautiful about brokenness. Brokenness reminds us we are not perfect, and that is okay. We don’t have to have it all together despite what the world says.

We need God to guide our way to the desires of our heart. We need to commit and trust.

And He shall bring it to pass.

What is the “it”?

It is unique to us all.

The next time the world reminds you of all the ways you have messed up, and it will, remember God is in the business of using broken people with messy lives. Conflict puts us right where we need to be…in need of Him.

Painful at times, yes, but what better place to be than in the grip of His promises?