3 Ways God Uses Wandering to Grow Our Faith
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I met Emily through a mutual friend. We used to work at the same company. If I am being completely honest, I was a little jealous that she got to work on the same floor as my friend. They were always around each other, but they never made me feel left out. As we all started hanging out, I loved how down to earth Emily is. She also is a fan of Anne of Green Gables and that always means you know how to be a kindred spirit ;). Emily is someone who I admire a lot. She is courageous, kind, thoughtful, and beautiful in every way! Emily, thank you for taking the time to share your story with us!
If you had approached me when I was a kid and had asked me, “What are you afraid of?” I would’ve responded in a snap with, “absolutely nothing.” Well, in all honesty, I might’ve said cockroaches! But that was truly about it!
Flash forward to now, and if you were to ask me again, “What are you afraid of?” I could give you a laundry list! An odd thing happened to me after my daughter was born… everything became scary. All of the questions, the potential for danger, it all started running through my head. What if she gets hurt doing this or that? What if something happens to me? What if I don’t meet all of her emotional and physical needs? The list is endless. It can be exhausting.
Recently, something happened with my daughter that really shook my core. I felt REAL FEAR. A fear of losing our bond, a fear of being inadequate, a fear of not being able to fix things. As I cried out and prayed to God, I was led to read a devotion. In this devotion was the story of Abraham and Isaac. A story that I have read and heard my entire life, one that has always been so abstract for me. However, this time it was different. God was using Abraham’s example to teach me.
Oftentimes, when people cite the story of Abraham and Isaac, they focus on the lesson of obedience and faith. Reading this story that night, I felt like I could understand Abraham for the first time in my life, I saw Abraham the man and father. I can only imagine the fear Abraham felt, the fear of losing God’s greatest blessing to him, his treasured son. Yet despite being terrified of loss, Abraham faithfully presented Isaac to the Lord as a sacrifice. Abraham took his earthly fear, flipped it around for good and in that moment showed that the only fear a man can stand to have, is the fear of the Lord.
God moved me with this story. I’m tired of living a life of fear and limiting God. Every night now I pray to God and offer up my daughter to Him. I surrender my will for her and ask that only God’s will be done. She is His child. She is my blessing from God, but she is still His child. I don’t want to limit God’s power and provisions in our lives any longer. I’m on a crusade to eliminate fear from my parenting, reaffirming Psalm 91:1-2 every day.”
Song of the Week:
No Longer a Slave to Fear, by Jonathan David & Melissa Helser
“It’s wicked to throw away all your other gifts because you can’t have one”- Little Women
On long road trips, I like to listen to audiobooks. It has become a tradition that I listen to Little Women at least once. I grew up watching the movie dozens of times. Since I have four sisters, it was like watching us (a century behind and one less sister).
As I was driving from Virginia to Florida, I heard this quote by Amy: It’s wicked to throw away all your other gifts because you can’t have one. It hit me so hard that I rewound that section of audio and listened again. Conviction set it.
How many times have I done this? As a single person, there is a tendency to throw away our other talents and gifts because we can’t have “the one”. We sit around doodling while waiting for “the one”. I am talking to myself here. I have been there and done that.
At one point in my life, all I did was work and waited for someone to come along. Call me crazy, but I thought it would only be a matter of time until he came around. Well, after about 3-4 years of “waiting”, there was no one even “on the horizon”, as my dad says.
I took a leap of faith and decided to do something else, besides work and wait. When I took that step, it was a whirlwind of an adventure. I was using gifts that I didn’t know I had. I was learning new things left and right. I was going places I never dreamed were possible. It was an exciting time and challenging time.
That time created a hunger to learn more. Life can be extremely challenging, but it also can be absolutely amazing! God is greater, kinder, more beautiful than we can imagine.
Just last week I was listening to the audio book by Steven Curtis Chapman, Between Heaven and the Real World . After the death of his daughter, Maria, his wife asked them to remodel the house. It was too hard to live in after Maria’s passing. Steven struggled with the idea of how much money it was going to cost, and if it was a waste of money because their house was fine.
He prayed about it and felt like they should move ahead with the idea. The day came and the demolition crew started their work. Steven looked over at his wife, Mary-Beth, and saw tears running down her face. He walked over and asked her if she was okay. “I needed to see this”, she said. “This is what happened to our family the day Maria died”. Their family took a devastating blow. Yet, through the tearing down and building back up, Steven saw God’s love. He felt the Lord told Him that sometimes His love appears extravagant and wasteful.
Isn’t that true? I was pining away for a marriage when God wanted to show me more. He literally allowed me to travel around the globe. It was extravagant and sometimes it seemed wasteful. Because I had the budget information, I would often say, I can stay here. However, God allowed me to go on one trip after another. I learned so much not just on the trips but over that span of 3 years, I saw God in ways I never knew I could.
My encouragement to you who are single comes from a 10th-degree black belt: Act on life. Don’t let life act on you. You are not a victim to life or anyone.
Use your gifts. Use your time wisely. Live well. Love fervently. Give fearlessly. Life is short and we only have one life to live.
John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Don’t let the enemy steal any more years. Don’t let him steal your joy, your affection, your devotion, your desire to grow and learn.
There is a 2nd-degree black belt I work out with in a group, who told me, “I’m trying to help you be the best you”. Sometimes it feels like he is trying to kill me, but he is pushing me to be better. Isn’t that what God does for us? He allows challenging things because He is strengthening us. Elisabeth Elliot once said, “God will not protect you from anything that makes you more like Jesus”
Life is meant to be lived, not just survived. Sometimes surviving is the only thing we can do. Other times, surviving has become our comfort zone. Living on purpose often takes us out of our comfort zones. But today, remember to thank God for all that He has already given you. Thank Him for the friends you have, the job you have, and the opportunities He has opened up for you. Instead of focusing on the one thing or person you don’t have.
Sometimes, when I wish I had someone, I remind myself that I do have someone. He is my closest friend. He says that He is my husband. So, instead of wasting time wishing I had someone else, I try to look for ways to love Him. I do not do this as much as I would like.
We are God’s children. He knows we are incapable. He wants to make us laugh, and wants to spend time with us. He wants to be close, but often times, we are so preoccupied with other things or wishing for the one thing we don’t have.
Think a friendship that may be morphing into something else. Think of the little glances shared back and both. Think of the sweet gestures: a hand to the side as he walks behind you, a gentle touch to the elbow, a goodbye hug, exchanging eye contact and a laugh over an inside joke.
I know for me, I think about each thing over and over again. I think of what they said or re-read a sweet message they sent. Imagine if I thought of God that way.
Imagine if I mulled over in my mind the MANY things He has done: The opportunity to travel, learn all kinds of new skills, learn martial arts, write, be near family, and have amazing friends. I should be on cloud nine all the time.
So, I am challenging myself to think on Him this week. To think of the ways He has blessed me. He is too good and has done too much for me to waste more time.
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3
Song of the week: King of my heart, by John Mark McMillan & Sarah McMillan
There are “The Four F’s” for blogs, photography, life, relationships, you name it. I got to thinking of the F’s that often come to my mind: Failure, (not) Fitting in, Fear, and Feelings. I’m sure I could list more, but these are some of the F’s that I wrestle with.
Failure – When it comes to a lot of areas in my life, I feel like a failure. I feel like I am never making progress. I feel like I never will make any progress. And, I sometimes listen to that old familiar lie that says, “No one will want you” “You’re not going to get anything done”
(Not) Fitting – I have amazing friends, and a wonderful family. But, sometimes, I wrestle with knowing where I fit. I will come back to this thought.
Fear – This has been a lifelong struggle. I fight it often. I fight the fear of never measuring up. I fight the fear of being different. I fight the fear of living life in total abandonment. I fight fear of actually stepping out. I fight the fear of failure.
Feelings – I often have arguments between my logic and feelings. I find myself saying, “Christi, you’re overthinking this”, “Keep your head”, “These are just feelings”, “Get a grip”. I am so grateful for my Dad because he is so logical. I will never forget the time I came home from work after my manager flipped out. When this particular manager left the store, to run an errand, he was fine. When he came back, he was throwing boxes around and mumbling under his breath. I could almost see the steam rising off his bald head. I came back and told my Dad:
Me: Dad, I think he’s mad at me
Dad: Did he tell you that you upset him? Or can you remember doing anything wrong that would upset him?
Me: Well, no, but …
Dad: If you can’t remember doing anything wrong, and he didn’t tell you he was upset with you, you have nothing to worry about.
But, on the days I’m not pleased with my performance, or I’m feeling super insecure, I have to fight to get back to “logical” or “sane” ground.
These four F’s often come unannounced and have a tendency to stay longer than I care for them to stay. As I was thinking on these F’s, I remembered four other F’s:
Faithful – I am inadequate, but my God is not. What He says, He will do. I need to cling to Him, because He is the essence if life. He is faithful and what He wants from me is to be faithful. I cannot be faithful in my own strength, but with Him, I can. Faithfulness isn’t about knowing everything or being perfect. It’s about showing up every day and refusing to give up. If you break this word apart it’s FAITH (which is unseen) and FUL (if we added another L it would be full). Imagine having faith and allowing God to fill us to full. I think He just wants me to trust Him and let Him fill me –daily!
Fulfillment – Jesus came to fulfill the law. He fulfilled the wrath of God for my sin. He fulfilled the requirement for me to have a relationship [access] with God. God doesn’t start something He won’t finish. Although I am still in process, when He looks at me, He sees the finished projected. Although I have bumps and times of defeat on earth, God sees me as finished. So to Him I am complete. I cannot fail because He has already taken my failure and paid for it. I don’t have to carry that around anymore.
Fearless – We can only be less fearful when we are with the one who casts out fear. He holds not only our finite world, but also the future. A.W. Tozer once said, “While it looks like things are out of control, behind the scenes there is a God who hasn’t surrendered His authority”. We have a loving heavenly Father who loves His children and cares for us. Matthew 6:33 says to seek Him and His righteousness and all these things WILL be added unto you. God is able. He can do more than we can even ask or imagine.
*** I must break here to tell you that as I am writing this, I am preaching to myself. I process things through writing them down. I feel like I need to write things down to solidify these things in my own life. I am fragile and broken and I need God’s mercy every single second of every single day…
Fitting – “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world” C.S Lewis.
It is only when I am spending time with God that I remember where I fit. I fit. He accepts me whether or not I am having a good day or a bad one. He accepts me whether I am killing it that day or barely surviving. He accepts me when I am feeling confident or I’m falling apart. Apart from Him, I am nothing. When I haven’t spent enough time with Him I begin to feel like I’m spiraling into endless questions. I feel completely lost, out of place, and confused. When I’m with Him, He makes me at peace. I may not have all my questions answered, but I know He’s in control. My perspective gets realigned. I remembered I’m protected and secure because He is unchanging. He is the cleft that my soul longs to hide in. Our moments of “not fitting” might be there to create a longing to fitting in, and that’s with our Creator. He is the one who knows us better than we know ourselves. He can direct us better than we can.
I know I said Four F’s but as I was thinking on this topic I remembered this word:
Favored – Psalm 5:12 says, “For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield”.
I don’t understand it, but God loves us so much more than I can understand. I try to, but I can’t. He, for some reason, has favored me and you. We who are from dirt, sin daily, forget His promises and doubt His ways; Yet, He has granted us favor. He has granted us access to His thrown of GRACE to find mercy in our time of need. We have a VIP pass, but often pass on using it to “earn” our own VIP status. Again, preaching to myself! We are feeble; yet, favored. His strength and source is the one that sustains us.
So, if you’ve struggled with the first four F’s this week, forget them! Focus on the last five: Faithful, Fulfillment, Fearless, Fitting and Favored! God does not lie. He keeps His promises. He is with us on the mountains and in the valleys. He is with us in the wet seasons, and the dry seasons. He is not scared or weary of our human conditions. He welcomes us into His presence. It is there that we find help and courage to press on in this world while waiting for our final destination –Heaven!
Song of the Week:
Yes and Amen, by Housefires III