Have you ever been faced with something where you thought, “how am I supposed to pray for this!?”…you battle within yourself whether you should pray for a miracle, or not, because you “know” that it won’t happen probably and that whatever it is in front of you will just turn out the way things “normally” turn out, whether that be good or bad, but either way you pray it’s not really going to be different. Have you been there? I have, and I’m sure some of you have too. You’re like….you trust in God, but really when the odds look so grim you just don’t know if you should pray that God will perform a miracle or if you should just accept the fate & pray for God to give peace.
Well…..here’s a question for you: How well do you know God?
Really, how well do you KNOW Him? The earth is finite, right? Meaning there’s only limited outcomes, options, possibilities, etc. But God is NOT. He created the earth, so He doesn’t live within the confines of our existence, He lives in the freedom of His! So when we pray, are we underestimating the power of God by not even asking for something bigger than we could even imagine?
This spring, things were going along just “normal” until one day I went to work & they told me that I was being laid off. Oddly enough, I wasn’t devastated. Honestly I’d been having a conversation with God about what was next….I wasn’t sure that where I was then was where He would always want me to be…so when I heard that I would be leaving in a month, it was a little bit of an “okay God, now what…” moment. Financially I was okay for a little while, so I decided that since I had so many things planned for the summer, I would wait on God for just the right thing, and not pursue another position until the middle of August.
At the beginning of July, I visited my dad in TX, and finished a book called “Sacred Waiting” by David Timms. It seemed that book was perfectly timed, by hitting on my period of waiting that had just been semi-imposed upon me by getting laid off. I went back to MN to prepare for an art show before heading out on another vacation with some friends (which is another story all in itself) and two days before I left I got a strange call. It was one of my old supervisors, from the job I had just left. He said that his wife had met a guy at a concert, and that through random conversation, he mentioned they were looking for someone like me and so she mentioned my name and now that guy was trying to get in touch with me about a job. That morning, I researched the organization, called & left a message and two hours later got a call back. They wanted me to come in for an interview 2 hours later. Here’s the scenario: I’m in my PJ’s at 1pm, I don’t have a current resume, don’t have a printer if I DID have a current resume, wasn’t sure that I had any clean business clothes to wear and was then living an hour away from the office….so naturally I said “of course I can make it by 3pm”. lol. I stood in line behind three 10 year old girls at the public library to print off my resume, and barely made it in.
To make the rest of the story short, I was offered the job the next day. It was outstanding. I feel so blessed, and I know that this kind of thing does NOT happen that often, but it was like….God was reminding me that He does things in HIS timing and way, not necessarily ours. So this weekend, we’re hosting an event, hoping to draw in 5,500 people! We’ll be sharing the gospel and feature some great musicians! And through the planning, I’ve been nervous, wondering how it’ll all turn out, what will happen, who will come, etc. And sitting here tonight, being reminded of God’s miraculous power through the book of John, I’m finding peace knowing that God’s got it.
He’s greater than anything we can imagine, and so He’s capable of doing more than we can imagine. We just need to stop underestimating Him and closing doors where He wants to show us His miracles! Where does God want to do a miracle in your life, or challenge you to trust in Him more? As you think on that, also remember us this Saturday in prayer. Pray that people will pack the house, pray that people will respond to the gospel, pray that the Lord would do something that we could have never imagined! Hallelujah!
(If you want to watch our concert streaming live, tune in Saturday at 7pm Central at: http://livestre.am/16gGw)
The past few months, the thought of a deeper love equaling deeper hurt, has been on my mind. This is not to say that deeper love inevitably hurts, or that you shouldn’t be willing to love deep, but that when you are vulnerable to deeply love, that same vulnerability opens yourself to be feel much more pain if & when you are hurt by something or someone.
This happens to us as people, but it also intrigues me in our love relationship with God. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)”And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”(1 John 4:16)
If God loved us THAT much, that He would give us His only son, that He would live in us, that God is synonymous with love in the way that if we love, we are in Him, that’s powerful. That’s a deep love, that’s an amazing love. “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
So can you imagine with me then, that through God’s love for us, incomprehensibly deep & devoted, that when we hurt or when we turn from Him, either way….just think of how much He must hurt with us & for us. “In all their suffering he also suffered,…” (Isaiah 63:9) It says in the Bible how God suffers with us…and if the greater the love the greater the pain can be, I can only imagine that God suffers greatly over each & every one of us, longing for us to come near to Him, to dwell in Him, to be comforted by Him & to understand His love for us. He mourns with us, but doesn’t stay inactive…He comes after us. Isaiah goes on to say “…and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.”
Through all the years….forever, ….loving us deeply, holding us in our pain, hurting for us when we walk away, His love never fades. “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.” (Lamentations 3:22) This gives me hope, confidence & full assurance that when I hurt, I am not alone. It also reminds me that as much as I am able to love, He is able to love more fully, more completely, more intimately than I will ever understand, and that through our doubt, questioning, longing for answers, that He loves us still. Be confident in this: “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
In the past two years, there have been multiple things that have upset the flow of my life. Some would say this just IS life….the constant upsetting, twisting, lurching, occasional lull and then surprises once again. I agree with this, but I think you know what I mean when you feel like your “nice little life” is turned upside down! Even though crazy things are what make up our life, somewhere we feel like…..it’s the “normal” days that should comprise the most of it? I don’t know if this makes sense….but stick with me.
I’ve been challenged to look at joy in my life, and here is what I can say….for those of you reading who don’t know me well, in 2008 my dear friend gave her life trying to save another camper, and both died tragically over a large waterfall…a few months later, my grandma passed away after a 5 year fight against cancer…a few months after that, my dad had triple by-pass surgery following a motorcycle accident…and a few months after that, my mom was diagnosed with Leukemia…leading to this March, when she met Jesus at home in heaven. That’s part of my backstory…I’m not telling you this so that you pity me, or on the flip say…she has no idea what kind of pain I’ve been through, I just want you to know that I can to some extent say with assurance that I can empathize with pain…and we can be connected through that. These trials are not the things that make me unique, nor does it for anyone else….but it is the way we respond to these situations that really define who we are, and what we are made of. ….so back to Joy….
“Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.” (Psalm 30:10-12)
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:12)
Joy to me, is the confidence I have in knowing that God, the eternal and all knowing, all powerful God will sustain me throughout whatever trials must be faced on this earth. Having this trust in his unfailing mercy, brings me joy….understanding that though times can be tough, He is still faithful, He is still strong, He will sustain me and hold me up when I feel like falling. This joy is freedom in Christ, knowing that when I cannot make it, He will continue the work that he began in me. It is not something that I can do, or stir up, or make grow inside of me….it is something that God reminds me of at the right moment of need…He reminds me that I am not alone, and that there is hope for a future in Him and in that hope I can find joy because my present moment is not the end…it’s not final and God will be with me in every situation, at every moment….forever.
This to me, is how joy is seen. It is in the reassurance of God’s unfailing love that I am able to relax in His arms and revel in joy despite the raging seas pounding against my soul. His joy will give me strength.
“Praise be to the Lord, for He has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song. The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of his salvation for his Anointed one.” (Psalm 28:6-8)
“When I am afraid, I will trust in You, I will trust in You, I will trust in You. When I am afraid, I will trust in You in God whose word I praise.” (Psalm 56:3-4) This song keeps playing over & over in my head….it’s a child’s memory song that I learned long ago, and thankfully it comes up on days like today, when I just question….who can I trust when I am down & unsure?
The verse goes on to say, “what can mortal man do to me” and….to that, I know there is nothing that they can really do…..but there is still pain from their choices & deeds against us.
“Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8)….but I ask that you “Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in You.” (Psalm 143:7-9)
…I guess I just don’t know who to trust right now…things have been falling apart, people not living up to their word, so much junk around, that it’s in times like these that I need to remember the one thing I know I can trust in is Christ. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man….” (Psalm 118:8) This verse is being proven more and more each day…..just trust in Him….and when I am afraid….of the future, of people, of consequences, of everything….I need to be reminded that God will not fail me. “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:4)