Tag Archives: faith

To See the Sea

“Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,” 

Psalm 148:7 NIV

For five days I have lingered, listening to the sound of the ocean, watching the waves that are never and always the same dance to their self perpetuated music.  Calming, peaceful, constant… I am conscious of my every effort to open up, take it all in and tuck it away for safe keeping for the days that I will not have the pleasure or ability to do so.

The ocean.  I’ve walked beside it, waded into it, sat in front of it and stared for countless hours upon it. It is beautiful and soothing to my inward most parts.   I’ve pondered it’s depths and width and length.  The sheer vastness of it is humbling, reminding me in one swift glance of the greatness of  our God.    Surely the ocean is an adequate earthly reflection of the power, glory and majesty of the Lord.  And even as I walked upon the shore discussing these things with Him, He reminded me that this is only one of many beaches, shores and oceans that exist by His creative power.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Isaiah 40:12

Spending time at the ocean causes me to become quiet and introspective- at rest.  I am visually reminded in splendor that there is so much that is bigger than me and beyond my ability to fathom, comprehend or understand. When I am beside the ocean, I find that I am able to let go of the wrestling that so often occurs in my head and my heart ever striving to try to understand everything that I do not,  working to try to figure everything out and trying to be in control of everything that I’m really not.

When keeping company with the sea, I am able to just let go and “be.”

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”  Psalm 46:10 

The truth, is that I’m no more capable of “figuring it all” out in the throes of everyday life than I am here in the presence of the sand, seashells and sound of ocean waves roaring in my ears.  Somehow though, I forget.

I can spend countless hours thinking…about how to get things to work out the way I want them to.

I have spent countless hours worrying…about how it will be if they don’t.

So much wasted time and energy on that which is unproductive.

And so, today I am thankful for the ocean.  I am thankful that it stretches so far out that I cannot see the end of it.  I’m thankful that it is so deep, even at it’s beginnings, that my toes cannot touch the bottom.   I’m thankful for the way that it tosses and turns, as if it has a schedule of its own rising  higher or diminishing as the day grows long.  I’m thankful that I have no control over the sea.

This truth offers me a life-giving reminder that it really isn’t my job to be “in control.”  It is only my job to BE.

To BE still and know that He is God.

To BE obedient to His every leading.

To BE quick to hear and obey His voice.

To BE diligent to hide His Word in my heart.

To BE His daughter and everything that that means.

Father, thank you for the beauty of the ocean.  Thank you for the beauty of the truth that all that I must BE is a child of the King.  

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A Christmas Devotional

christmas picEvery good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17 (NKJ) 

There is a degree of  self-imposed pressure which accompanies the acknowledged opportunity of writing a devotional for Christmas day.  Somehow it seems that this is one which should be more spiritual, more profound, more heart-touching or soul prodding. Yet, this year, more than any other in my entire life, there is a feeling that Christmas is simply an extension of the awareness of God’s goodness, kindness and faithfulness.  An exclamation mark of sorts of our ongoing expression of gratitude.  A pinpointed reminder.  A determined celebration.  It’s not that He is more of any of the things that we acknowledge Him to be during Christmas, it’s only that we are more purposeful to acknowledge all that He is all of the time.

All of the time He is   good.  His demonstration of goodness is magnified in the grace and mercy which is displayed in my life…in yours… in the lives of all that we know. His goodness which humbles us because we are so aware that what we get is so far from what we deserve.  That undeserved goodness which draws us into His arms time and time again.  The unmerited favor He bestows upon us even when we don’t do it all right or have our act together.

All of the time He is kind.  Kind in the impartation of strength He offers us when we are weak.  Kind in the abundance we experience love, joy and peace the entire year through.  Even when life is hard.  Even when we don’t understand.  Even when things don’t make sense.

All of the time He is faithful.  Faithful to provide for our needs.  Faithful to speak to our hearts.  Faithful to lead and guide us into the truth it is imperative that we walk in.  Faithful to continue to mold and form us into His image.  Faithful to be ever present, ever aware and ever willing to minister all that He is to our weary hearts.

The same God, Christ, Savior that we purposefully focus on in this season, on this day…He is no more benevolent, kind, good or faithful than He is on any other day of the year.  Every good gift in our life, the entire year through…it comes from Him.

Perhaps one of the best gifts of all however, is the one expressed in the second part of James 1:17.  In Him, there is no variation or shadow of turning.  He never changes.  He doesn’t change His mind about us.  He doesn’t change His plans and purpose for our lives.  He doesn’t change in His desire for us to know Him more deeply, draw closer to His heart or be more like Him.  He has been, is and always will be good, kind and faithful.

In this world in which we live, there are few things that we can be certain will not change.  In an instant, that which was constant can be gone forever.  In a moment, that which we were sure of can crumble.  In just a blink of an eye, our life here on the earth can be turned inside out by circumstances that were unexpected and un-welcomed.  And yet, the same good, kind and faithful God remains- loving us, walking beside us, carrying us and caring about every aspect of our lives…of this we can be absolutely certain.

Of all the gifts you have ever received, that must be one of the greatest of all.

Father, Your goodness, kindness and faithfulness within my life bless me, humble me and fill my heart with thankfulness. 

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No-Matter What

For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 38-39 (AMP)

I’ve heard it said that you don’t really know how you will respond to a situation until you are faced with it.  Everyone thinks they have an idea of themselves, their coping skills, their strengths and weaknesses- but it is truly in the moment when our eyes are opened to who we really are and what we are really made of.  Some cute little saying about women being like teabags comes to mind.

Recently, in the midst of one of those eye opening moments, a dear sister in Christ asked me a very critical question.  “Will you still love God no-matter what?”  She knew that it must be established.  The essence of the “no-matter what” in her question only added fuel to the fire of my full-on gut wrenching sob.  Strategically silent she continued to rub my back in empathy while the question hung in the air as heavy as a soaking wet beach towel.

I was surprised at my inability to answer that question without hesitation. Up until this point in my walk with the Lord that would have been a “no-brainer.”  Boldly and passionately I would have declared my undying love for Him, my unwavering faith in Him, my wholehearted abandoned surrender to Him.  At this moment however, the “no-matter what” that I faced was so dreadful and pregnant with pain that I really had to weigh in my heart what truth was.  Would I still love Him no-matter what?  I had never been faced with a “no-matter what” of this magnitude before and that caused my answer to form much more slowly than I ever thought it would.

Believers face “no-matter what’s” in their lives on a daily basis.  Those circumstances which cause others to shake their head in horror laden disbelief while offering sympathy at the inability to imagine what it would be like to be in those shoes.

This wasn’t the first time this issue of “no-matter what” has been posed in my relationship with the Lord.  As I came to know Him, came to love Him, it was I who had offered this crucial question in a plethora of different ways.

“Will you still love me no-matter what?”  For so long it was impossible for me to fathom a love so deep, so wide and so complete that it could span the enormity of my failures and inadequacies.  A love that was truly unconditional and without limits.  Time and time again I would find myself before Him posing the question “Even now Lord, even now will you love me?”  He never hesitated, He never wavered, always responding with a loving and faithful “Yes, no-matter what.”

I couldn’t understand it, it didn’t make sense to me.  And yet, it was this very love that has formed the firm foundation of our relationship.  It truly is His unconditional love, kindness and patience that has led me to repentance (Romans 2:4).

And so, with a tear stained face and stuffed up nose I sat up and wiped away the hair that was plastered to my face. Emotions raged within.  Heartache, anger, lack of understanding and frustration of depths which I had not previously known.  And yet, a resounding knowledge of the ultimate truth held firm.  Where was there for me to go besides the Lord?    Outside of Him, there is no hope.

A fresh set of tears began to flow as I heard myself say from a surrendered heart “Yes, no-matter what.”

Father, help me to love you and never turn my heart from you no-matter what.

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God Gauge

 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

Matthew 7:24-25

It took several seconds for me to realize what was happening.  The noise and movement of what initially could have been a large truck driving by quickly escalated to a steady rumbling accompanied by increasing shaking.  Faced with the reality of what was occurring, panic rose from my stomach to my throat as I looked around my classroom at my students.  We are having an earthquake.

Although the children did not know or understand exactly what was going on, they looked to me for an explanation of what was undeniably out of the ordinary.  I had to stay calm.  I knew that whatever reaction I offered them would determine their own reaction to the situation.  As they looked at me I could tell that they were trying to gauge my response to determine whether they should be afraid or not.

Seconds later with a smile and a firm tone of voice I directed them to leave what they were doing and line up right away.  We followed the other classes down the hallway and out onto the playground.  Within seconds the rumbling stopped, the shaking ceased and we all stood still.

The teachers took a moment to together breathe again, staring at one another with wide eyes as we all realized the magnitude of what had just taken place and how differently it all could have turned out.  The children, sensing that the emergency was over, chattered among themselves with excitement over what had just happened.

We headed back in and resumed school as usual.  As small children do, my class was able to quickly focus on the next task; seeing that no harm had been done they remained unscathed.  I on the other hand found myself stuck at the what if’s and what could have beens of what had just occurred. Flashbacks of scenes of the aftermath of earthquakes in other parts of the world filled my mind.  The pictures of destruction, devastation and demise of entire communities were fixed on the forefront of my heart.  I was thankful for what didn’t happen yet overwhelmed with the thought of what could have happened.  In that moment that the earthquake began I recall feeling completely out of control.  There was nothing I could do to stop what was happening and in that moment I had no idea how bad it was going to get.  I hate feeling out of control.

They say that when you are a teacher you learn from your students as well as teach them.  In that moment when my students did not know what was going on they looked to me.  It was by my response that they gauged their own.  As they were looking to me, I should have been looking to my Lord.  Instead I allowed fear and independence to rise up within me and take over as I wrestled with the best plan of action.  I had to keep my students safe, they were my responsibility, I didn’t know what was going to happen next.

God never freaks out, He never feels afraid and He never falls from the throne.  Regardless of what we face, if we will look to Him and gauge our response by His according to the truth of His Word, we will be able to handle whatever trouble may come with more peace, stability and sense than we are able in our own strength.

Father, when I feel afraid, confused and out of control help me to remember to always look to you to gauge my response. 

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Birth Stories

Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God.  (2 Cor. 1:4 Amp)

Have you ever noticed the ability of a pregnant mother’s presence to bring forth a plethora of birth stories from those that have been there and done that?  Giving birth is one of those life changing experiences which absolutely have the ability to become forever engraved upon your memory and imprinted upon your heart!

It seems that as each woman shares her story there is an inner recognition, understanding and validation that can only come from those whom have been through the same, yet different, experience.  As women and mothers we offer a level of empathy and discernment to one another that is not offered by anyone who does not have at least one individual within their lives who calls them “mama.”

Now, have you ever tried to explain to someone who has never given birth what is like to give birth?  I have and I have to say, it is almost an impossible feat.  I shared, “It hurts.  It hurts more than anything I have ever experienced, and it was different from any kind of hurt I had ever experienced.”

The closest I could come to describing it was something along the lines of “it kind of feels like it might feel to be squeezed like a tube of tooth paste with the cap still on….now…doesn’t that sound pleasant?”

Okay, so admittedly, I will probably never be hired to teach a birthing class…but, the point remains, some things just must be experienced to be understood- simply explaining to someone what all is encompassed in giving birth is seemingly impossible.

In order to not leave the young, wide eyed and newly expectant mother completely traumatized, at the end of that description of giving birth I also shared that I never have regretted it, and even did it a second time. That despite the misery of pregnancy and pain of being in labor, the payoff was amazingly tremendous.  As well I shared that as soon as it was over I was so focused on the value of the gift that I had been given that I concluded that what I went through to get it was unquestionably worth it.

Ultimately it all boiled down to …yes it was hard, but I got through it and so will you.

I was thinking recently that, in this, the experience of carrying a child and giving birth is similar to walking out the walk of faith as a child of God.

Trying to explain to someone how it is that we walk by faith and not by sight and trust God in the midst of seemingly impossible situations is very difficult when talking with someone who has never done it.  These are simply actions which must be experienced to be understood.

Believers that have walked the walk that they talk and became “the tough that got going when the going got tough” are those believers that have also experienced the goodness and faithfulness of God which has sustained them when nothing else could.

In our chaos we have found peace, in our mourning we have been comforted, in our impossibility we have found evidence of the God of the impossible.  Christianity is more than the bumper sticker on our car, it is the way that we have lived, thrived and overcome in the midst of our own life storms. If you have been a Christian for more than two days you have had your own storms through which to sail.

Just as more experienced mothers have the opportunity to speak truth and comfort to those beginning the journey that ends at giving birth, we as Christians have a huge responsibility to share of that which has been birthed within us with other believers.

Even now, can you recall a time with a deeper level of trust was birthed within you through the labor of a difficult time when you had no choice but to trust God?  Has patience been birthed within you through an extended period of waiting on God to move on your behalf?  Has peace been birthed within you in a more real way through receiving the peace which transcends all understanding in a very difficult circumstance?

Who is it in your life today that could be encouraged and benefit from hearing your “birth story?”  Who needs to hear “yes, it is hard, but I got through it and you will too.”?

Acts 10:34 shares with us that God does not play favorites- what He is willing to do for one of His children He is willing to do for all. The testimony of who God has been within your life can be a huge encouragement to someone who is struggling.

Abba Father, thank you for your Faithfulness within my life.  LORD, help me to be led by your Holy Spirit and sensitive to others and their need to be encouraged by me and the truth of the faithfulness and trustworthiness that you have displayed within my life.  I thank you Lord that you never play favorites and in the same ways that you have been faithful to me you are faithful to each and every one of your children who will allow you into their hearts and lives.

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