The Distraction of the Wind

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“When we let God be God, we can let man be man”

This is one of my favorite quotes probably because I need this reminder often.

The past few weeks I have been in a funk. I’ve been angry and wrestling with God a lot. Have you ever had a glimpse of hope that your situation may be coming to a head? Or that a resolution is on the horizon? Maybe you thought you’d get a Christmas bonus and you could get your kids something nice for Christmas. Maybe it was a better diagnosis than you were expecting. Maybe an old friend mentioned you to someone and you thought restoration is coming, but then nothing. The bonus didn’t come. The diagnosis was good but then they took a turn for the worse. The old friend didn’t care for restoration. Have you been there?

That’s how it’s felt the past few weeks. I knew I did what I was supposed to do and I felt like I was heard, justified and given confirmation that actions would be taken as I was told it would be, but a month later and nothing.

I was kind of angry at God. I know that He is the one who allows things to happen and not to happen and for some reason in my situation nothing that I know of had happened.

Then I was reminded of Peter…
I felt like as God was shutting doors it was time for me to get out of the boat. It was time for me to leave the ministry, leave what had become my home, and start over in a sense. It was time to get out on the water and walk. As I walked the first few months after I felt like God met me at every step. When I got discouraged, He sent someone to comfort me. When I thought I wouldn’t be able to cover my expenses a check would come in the mail from a friend. When I would question if I was where I was supposed to be God would send reminders that I was where He wanted me.

But now this…
How did I become angry? I had come so far for so long with being okay.  I didn’t really care about a resolution until I had to speak with someone about it and then assured that something had to be done. As far as I know nothing was done and I was having a hard time letting that go…

Matthew 14:25-33 says:
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

In verse 30 it says that Peter saw the wind and he was afraid. I realized like Peter, I took my eyes off Jesus. Instead of natural wind, I started to look at the wind of injustice. Maybe your wind is a wind of bills, or illness or divorce. So as I was saying, God, why aren’t you doing this look at that… And when I did, I started to sink. I was sinking into being angry and bitter… and then I couldn’t help myself. I sat in church yesterday and asked God to clean my heart because it felt so dirty and disgusting. How quickly I can fall. I realized all of a sudden all the rights I had surrendered to God  I had taken back and I was fighting for them. I don’t understand Gods patience a lot of the time. If it were me dealing with me, I’d be like Christi I’m a little tired of your complaining. You know you’re wrong. But God just waits for me to cry out for help and then He immediately grabs my hand and helps me back to the boat. I was thinking about not sharing this because it’s like I’m throwing my dirty laundry out there. However, in verse 33 it says, “Then those who were in the boat worshiped him saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God'” Even when we fall God can use it for His glory. It’s not about me anyways, so whether I stand or fall- God is God and He deserves to the glory.

Proverbs 24:16 says, ” For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again…”

So whatever you may be facing, it’s okay, we are all going to fall and fail, but that doesn’t mean we need to stay down. That’s what the enemy wants. I’m sorry if you have been waiting on a resolution, but don’t lose heart. God is still God.

I decided that I need to wake up every morning and surrender this situation to God daily because my heart tends to wander. As the service was closing on Sunday they sang, “Lord, I need you” and I had sung this song dozens of times but the part that struck me differently was the line that says, “You’re the one that guides my heart” so that is my new prayer that God would guide my heart towards him and away from the distraction of the wind…

Hang in there dear friends… The story is not finished…

Courageous Compassion

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Approximately three years ago I was asked to write down what I wanted from God. I don’t remember why. I remember who was there, where I prayed and what I asked for. I also remember having to pray to know what I should ask for. Because, when the paper was placed in front of me, I went blank. Then it came to me. I knew what I should pray for. Looking back, I didn’t know that one prayer could cause so much pain.

 My prayer was for compassion.

How can praying for compassion be painful? Because in order to have compassion, God allows His children to face difficult times so that you will learn how to be compassionate to others. We are not compassionate by nature like God is. We are human. We are selfish by nature. We are self- centered and self-seeking. As Lysa Terkhuerst puts it, “It’s the breaking of you that becomes the making of you”.

If I had never lost anyone, I wouldn’t know how someone else might feel. If I had never experienced rejection, I wouldn’t know how to comfort someone who had also been rejected.

I believe deep compassion comes from deep pain.

I was thumbing through my Bible during a church service last week when verses felt as though they were flying off the page at me.

  • “But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13
  • Seeing the people, He felt [or was moved with] compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36
  • At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.” But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? “Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? “But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here. “But if you had known what this means, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. Matthew 12:1-7
  • And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” Matthew 15:32

This year has been one that I will never forget. It’s been one of severe pain and loss. It has also been a year of growth. I remember one particular day as I was reading my Bible, my heart was broken and I felt surrounded by confusion, God led me to this verse:

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18

As time progressed, God knew I would need to know that He was a God of compassion and not condemnation.

“The whole outlook of humankind might be changed if we could all believe that we dwell under a friendly sky and that the God of heaven, although exalted in power and majesty, is eager to be friends with us.”A.W Tozer

So whatever you’re facing know this: God is a God of compassion!

If you have been through the fire and are coming out the other side, ask God to help you to be courageous in your compassion. It is not always easy because we need to be vulnerable. We have to allow ourselves to be open with each other- oftentimes- that means being susceptible to more hurt. However, being compassionate is what God desires and He is worthy of our heart and our very lives!

My challenge to myself and to you is to be:
courageously compassionate!

Courage:
The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.

Compassion:
A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

Courage, dear heart! 

I don’t know about you, but life has me feeling pretty weak these days. Have you ever felt that way? Have you experienced rejection, a broken relationship, a fractured career, or the shattering of what you thought would be?

I have. I’’m learning that’s it’s not as easy as a..b..c.. 1..2..3.. you’re free! It takes time. It takes perseverance. I guess I thought I would be 100% by now. I am realizing though that it took time for a relationship to build and it takes time for a relationship to end. I have been reminded almost every day this week of the break in one of my relationships. A call from someone who knew we were connected, a document they gave me, their information saved in one of my accounts, a song, a picture… It hurts – a lot.

I sometimes wish I could see my broken heart because then I could see the progress. But how do you measure progress? How do you measure getting over someone? Should you measure that? Is that how complete healing will come? I can never forget this person. I will always remember (unless I have a head injury or am diagnosed with Alzheimer or Dementia). But I choose what I remember. That’s the hard part. It’s a pretty constant battle. It’s easy to look at all the bad and just say a swooping blatant statement in a crass tone and be done with it- right? Wrong. It’s hard to know what to think. It’s hard to know what to say. It’s just hard. It hurts and I want it all to go away. I want all the pain to leave me alone.

This week I told God I’m so weak. I felt like I didn’t have much of anything left in me. How do you press on when you feel like you have nothing left? Then two words came to me strong and courageous.

I was like God I feel like the exact opposite of strong and courageous! I feel weak and feeble!

Strong:

• having great physical power and ability

• having a lot of strength

• not easy to break or damage

• not sick or injured

Courageous:

• very brave

• having or showing courage

How many times does God tell His children to be strong and courageous? A lot!

Here are at least 10 verses

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

2. Deuteronomy 31:7

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance.

3. Deuteronomy 31:23

The LORD gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you.”

4. Joshua 1:6

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.

5. Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

6. Joshua 1:18

Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey your words, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”

7. Joshua 10:25

Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.”

8. 1 Chronicles 22:13

Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.

9. 1 Chronicles 28:20

David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.

10. 2 Chronicles 32:7

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him

I do not feel strong but God says to be strong. I do not feel courageous but God says to be courageous. Sometimes I think being strong is just showing up. I know a lot of people who are just “checking out”. I don’t blame them. I have so often tempted to “check out” and do from time to time. But I know when I “check out” I’m not living. I’m hiding. We are not those who shrink back (Hebrews 10:39). So I have to push through the pain. I have to press on when I am weak because when I am weak then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). If I keep showing up. If I keep living life. If I keep pressing through I am showing that because of Christ I am strong.

When I choose to show up, regardless of how I feel, I am having courage. I am facing each day. I am choosing to have my heart examined sometimes several times a day so that when I walk each day people don’t see me, but they see the Warrior of my heart and soul, my Savior, my Rock, my Everything. Because I am weak and I’m telling you the honest truth I can not handle this life on my own. I am nothing without Jesus.

Be strong and courageous!

“Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer” Romans 12:12