Calmed, Reassured and Steadied

“He knows how to calm me… to reassure me… without Peter, I’m lost”

These words have been on my mind for the past few weeks… They are the words of Princess Margaret from The Crown on Netflix (although I can’t recommend the second season).

I watched this series months ago. Yet there is a scene that keeps coming to mind. It’s where Queen Elizabeth tells her sister, Princess Margaret, that she can’t marry the family bodyguard (Peter). Elizabeth after a long and arduous struggle realizes the crown could be harmed by her approval of this marriage. Queen Elizabeth inevitably has to tell Margaret that she would be disowned if she choses to marry Peter.

So, in a difficult heart to heart talk with her sister, Margaret says of Peter, “He keeps me calm. He reassured me. I’m lost without him.”

Have you ever felt that way? You feel lost in the midst of the mundane. Or you feel on edge because every time you turn around you hear of more bad news, more heartbreak, more illness, more pain. Sometimes, life is just chaotic. Sometimes you don’t have time to get away to think. You don’t have time to clear your head. Sometimes you just need someone to be steady for you. You need someone safe to tether yourself to.

For me, this is a beautiful picture of Christ. The crown has the final say. Everyone in the royal family must sacrifice to maintain the integrity of the crown. All eyes are on them. Peter’s assignment is to keep the family safe, to protect them at all cost. Instead of being deeply in love with just one of the royal family, Jesus is desperately in love with each of His children.

In the series, Peter sacrifices everything. Jesus sacrificed everything. And whenever Margaret feels like the pressure of being in the spotlight is too much, or being held to a different standard feels as though it might break her, or having to keep things close to their chest might just make her crack. Peter is there. He is always available to her. She still has to persevere in the every day things, but when she gets overwhelmed or feel like she can’t hold it together anymore Peter reassuring her to stay steady. He reminds her of her calling. He shares in the sacrifice and keeping as much chaos and worry, as possible, away from her.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.

Psalm 18:2 NLT

So, when this life feels too overwhelming; when you just can’t take one more doctors visit, or phone call with bad news; when you’re growing weary of the mundane; when you’re desperately searching for what the next season might hold; or you’re tired of waiting, remember… Jesus is the one who calms us. Jesus is the one who reassured us. Jesus is the one who never loses us.

His arm is not too short to grab hold of us to keep us steady. His thoughts are always towards us. He sings over us. And He prays for us. He most certainly knows how to protect us.

He sits…

It was a quiet day and He came like He did every day.

He never knocked. He knew the door was open, but these days is was only cracked… So, He cautiously peered in before opening the door all the way.

She was too out of touch to see Him. But every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday Saturday and Sunday He was there.

Had anyone else walked in, they may have commented on the unassuming man sitting on the opposite end of the sofa where she sat.

But no words were exchanged. Utter silence filled the room.

She sat with her eyes glazed over. Unable to communicate her unspeakable pain. If tears came, they were a gift… for a least it was a little escape of the pain she felt inside.

Weeks passed and still He showed up. Rarely acknowledging His presence she often wondered why He was even there. Didn’t He know she couldn’t give Him anything. She didn’t have anything left.

Weeks turning into months and months turned into a year. Until finally she made herself look up. She saw flowers. And immediately she quizzically look at the man.

He nodded as if to say, “yes, I’ve brought flowers every week.”

A tear slipped out of her eye and rolled gently down her cheek.

She’d known this man longer than most of the people in her life and at several points throughout her life, He had been the center and more important than any other person in her life…

But in the turmoil and heartaches in the recent years, she’d become despondent. She had so many questions. Like why didn’t He fix the problem she asked Him to? Why didn’t He show up like she asked? Why didn’t He answer her like He had in the past? Why didn’t He hold her like He had in the past? And why on earth didn’t He protect her from all the heartache?

These questions spun mercilessly in her head like a merry-go-round. But every week, He showed up and He sat.

He sat in the room with her questions. He sat in the room with her hurt. He sat in the room with her grief. He sat in the room with her despondency. He sat in the room with her depression. He sat in the room with her anger….

Just like He sat in the room with her purpose. Just like He sat in the room with her calling. Just like He sat in the room with her laughter. Just like He sat in the room with her love. Just like He sat in the room in her good times…

He sits during the ups and the downs. He may not answer all the questions, but He’s not leaving… And until she’s ready to speak… Patiently and lovingly He sits…

And they shall call Him Immanuel…which translated means,God with us.”

Matthew 1:23

Read “He is Here” poem from What does the Christian walk look like when…

I know what I’m doing

The fears you have are because you’re human.

The courage I give is because I’m God.

You and me, we are a team.

You offer surrender, I bring the dreams.

I move the mountains. I part the streams.

You sit back— watch, you’ll see!

With your meager talents, I’ll multiply.

I’ll add depth and wisdom that outstretch the sky.

But beware, there are many who won’t understand.

They will joke, laugh, and throw you on a witness stand.

Look at Noah, David, Joseph and my son, Jesus.

Scoffers laughed at the boat, while in the caves, at the dreams, and at the cross.

Until…

The rains came…

The crown came…

The leadership came…

The tomb was rolled away…

Scoffers ran or stood silenced.

This faith walk will test every fiber of your being.

You will either stand for Me or fall for everything.

My plans are not easy or conventional.

But they’re absolutely providential.

I created water from a rock.

Provided fish to fishermen who just were weary for the dock.

I raised the dead.

I raised a lame man from his bed.

But each person has to come to Me empty— putting their plans aside.

Knowing that their wills with Mine they’ll have to align.

Sometimes things ended in heartbreak and death.

But each of My disciples knows that I take and give each breath.

When you sign up to do things My way… Things won’t always make sense.

But one thing you can always be sure of is My presence.

I go before, stand beside and guard behind.

It often feels like you are going blind.

But suddenly after time you’ll look behind…

And you’ll see a beautiful life that I have intricately designed.

I don’t ask you to do anything I haven’t already done.

I set the example and in the end I have already won.

So don’t grow weary scoffers external and internal.

The path you’re on begins here but is eternal.

I created you, I know you, and I know how to make beautiful things.

Scarcely Living By Faith

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7

I was doing a cool down walk after a quick run to get some of my frustration out. It was the type of frustration you feel when you know where you want to be, but you have no idea how to get there.

Frustration is a part of life. There are women who desperately want to be a moms, but their bodies are unable to have children for one reason or another. Or there is the frustration of wanting a different relationship status. Or, there is the frustration of a mom who desperately wants her kids to do well and the she’s not seeing any progress. Or the frustration of a man (or woman) who has massive dreams in his hearts but he don’t know what steps to take next or how he will end up there.

It can often feel like we are banging on doors that just won’t open. That’s how I feel. The two doors that I’ve been knocking on have not opened.

So, after my cool down, and after making a pit stop at the newly named nature preserve in my neighborhood, I looked up at the sky. It reminded me of how small and limited I am. And how my limited view is often what I project on God. Immediately a word of truth, from a message I had heard a few years ago, came to mind.

“God is not a God of scarcity.”

You see, recently, I was presented with two amazing (or so I thought) opportunities. After the initial introduction to both opportunities, I said to myself, “This is it! This is what I’ve been waiting for.” The knocking began immediately after. “Yes, Lord, please make these things happen”.

Trouble is, the doors have not opened. They have hardly cracked. I’ve been asking and asking and asking for them and praying and praying and praying for them. But, the only answer I have right now is wait. Each day that goes past without a yes or a no brings me closer to discouragement. I don’t know if these things will happen and I want them to so badly.

Walking (also translated living in Hebrew) by faith doesn’t mean open doors. Sometimes it means waiting and waiting, and waiting some more; without trying to manipulate whatever I want into being.

Trusting/Living by faith means knowing God knows what’s best even if it doesn’t make sense. It means trusting when I feel behind, or out of place. It means trusting Him to be steady enough for you when I feel unsteady and very uncertain. Trusting means waiting on Him to act and not take matters into my own hands. Trusting means knowing that God, regardless of what I want, is good enough and will always be good enough.

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 84:11 which says:

“For the LORD God is a sun and a shield; the LORD gives grace and glory; He withholds no good thing from those who walk with integrity.”

If God says no to these two scenarios that I’m praying for, it doesn’t mean He’s withholding good from me. The times in the past when God told me no, I wasn’t any less crushed. But, eventually I saw those no’s were actually for my benefit and or for my protection. Many times, God’s no’s only make sense in hindsight. Other times His no’s will only make sense from heavenly viewpoint— one we can’t see this side of eternity.

Either way, I am called to live by faith and not by sight. This means things won’t always make sense to me, but this is what my God asks of me. He sacrificed so much more for me than a few opportunities that I think are perfect. So, I don’t think He’s asking too much of me to trust Him. He knows how to get me where I need to be. And make me into who I need to be.

So, as I stared up at that sky feeling very small, I thanked God that He had countless opportunities even though I could only see two.

Where’s Donavan?

I got to work and was ready to get going. I was working a double so I needed to be on my A-game. I had a good closing crew so I wasn’t worried.

Donavan had become my favorite closing guy. He was much older than me and everyone else who worked there. He worked really hard and would keep the cashiers in line.

“Get back to work, Sarah!” He’d yell from the back of the store as he plowed through stacks and stacks of dishes.

Donavan was never late, so when 4 o’clock came and went and Donovan didn’t show, I knew something was up. I called in help to fill the shift but was pretty annoyed I hadn’t heard from Donavon at all. This wasn’t like him and I really needed him.

The next shift came and went and no Donavon again. I was pretty sad at this point because I realized there wasn’t much of a possibility of Donavon keeping his job when he now has two no calls no shows on his record!

By mid-week, we had scratched Donavon’s name off the schedule and filled the rest of his shifts.

I was at work again on another shift when the front door rang and I looked up and saw Donavon. He looked pretty sullen. He walked straight to the back after he asked if the boss was in.

I looked in the back to see my boss and Donavon talking. They looked like they were having a pretty serious conversation. I looked away and continued my work. A few minutes later, Donavon said goodbye and walked out the door.

I quickly went to the back to ask my boss what was going on.

“He was in jail.”

“What?!?!”

“With the wrong crowd and got picked up, but they took him in because of his record.”

I was starting to worry a little bit. What record? I thought. Donavon and I talk a lot. I wonder why he never mentioned it.

“What’s on his record?” I finally asked.

“Manslaughter.”

I about fell over. “Manslaughter?!?!”

“It was in the 80s and he’s served his time. He’ll be in tonight to close.”

I didn’t show it but I totally freaked out on the inside. I thought I am going to be closing with a man who killed another human? I don’t feel safe. My mind wandered wondering if all the worst possible scenarios.

I was filled with fear. I was trying to think of ways I could go home early. But, suddenly a thought came to me.

“You used to feel safe with Donavon. He was your favorite closer. He always did his work, did extra things to help you. And got the cashiers to do their job.”

I realized that this piece of information was in Donavon’s past hindered my ability to see him for who I had known him to be. I decided right there that when Donavon came in, I needed to treat him like I had before I knew he served time in jail for manslaughter.

So, that night came and went and it was just like old times. Donavon, like he always had, made sure I didn’t leave the store by myself and worked just as hard as he always had. Eventually, Donavon was having a hard time keeping up with two jobs and was let go. I never saw him again, but I haven’t forgotten that lesson.

Recently something happened that caused me to reevaluate someone I thought I knew. I think we all have gotten to know someone and thought them to be one person and in the end, they weren’t really who you thought they were.

There have been several times in my life that I’ve spend a lot of tears over individuals because they turned out to be someone I couldn’t imagine they’d be… But just like Donavon, I was reminded of something.

Jesus doesn’t look at me for who I am, but for who I will be. How many times have I been disappointed with my own self for not being who I want to be. I fall short all the time. I screw up. I get so angry. I quit taking to him. I want to quit all together. I have not become who I will be, but Jesus sees me as complete. He sees the final copy of me.

As I was given startling information about someone I know, I remembered, I need to see them as who they can be— not who they are right now.

Some people are harder to do that with because in the case of abuse or betrayal, you have to acknowledge that certain things took place. You have to work through those issues and it will take a lot of time and energy. But, I think I need to do some reevaluating in my own life and remember that just like I am not complete — they won’t be either.

Jesus said to Peter, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” Peter hadn’t become the rock yet, but that was Jesus saw him as.

We use this tactic is karate too. I have always been taught to view yourself as the next level belt. I am currently a brown belt and I often picture in my head the moment I am awarded my black belt (and sword). It helps me to remember where I want to be.

I think we need to do the same with ourselves and other. God says we are complete, so we are but we keep working towards it. I need to keep that in mind for when I see others too.

Certain Aspects of God

“God is Love” 1 John 4:8
“Gracious is the Lord, and righteous” Psalm 116:5
“God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33

I like these aspects of God. But, what my humanity struggles with are verses like these:

“For he wounds” Job 5:18.
“He has besieged and encompassed me with bitterness and hardship.” Lamentations 3:5.
“All was well with me, but he shattered me; he seized me by the neck and crushed me.” Job 16:12.

All these verses are in the Bible. I’ve read them, but being wounded, shattered, and torn apart (Hosea 6:1) is not something I really understood until the past two years.

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If I’m being honest, I have been struggling with these aspects of God. And let’s just be real, it says He. The capitalization in the Bible is a reference for God.

Sometimes it is our own sin that causes wounds. Sometimes it’s the enemy that causes the damage to our soul. But what do you do when it’s God who allows it and God orchestrating it?

I don’t like a world where we are crushed. I don’t like being shattered, broken and torn apart.

You may think I’m out of line. But let me remind you of a verse (which keeps coming to my mom’s memory). Isaiah 53:5, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities.”

God the Father, allowed His own Son to be crushed. In fact, God sent Jesus to be pierced, beaten, forsaken and subject to a criminal’s death. What do you do with that?

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This weekend I was invited to a retreat. I struggled to go. I know there’s a lot I need to wrestle through in my own heart and mind. Things that I haven’t been able to talk about because they are simply  too painful. It feels like I’m going to fall apart if I talk about it.

But, like my mom always says, “If you don’t want to go, it probably means you need to go.” So, I went.

While I was there I was given Genesis 22 to read. It is the passage of scripture where Abraham offers Issac to God in the alter and where God provides another sacrifice.

All three times Abraham was called, He said, “Here I am.”

It struck me in a whole new way. Being available to God means being available to breaking. Being available to being shattered. Being available to being torn apart.

Following God has broken me more than I ever thought possible.

But, while I was on my own at this retreat, I felt like God said, “Christi, don’t you think the same heart I broke, I can heal?”

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When things are broken, it’s in our nature to fix them, right? We have a falling out with someone and we want to fix it? We have an broken plan and we want to mend it. We want to be the fixers.

But what if God is just asking me to be the patient? To walk through the painful steps to healing? To press through the pain to obtain a greater prize? To be able to look back and see that none of it had anything to do with me.

Because the whole verse in Job 5 says this, “For He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hands also heal.”

And the ending of Lamentations 3 says this:
“21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. 22 The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.

This road is not easy. I don’t like being broken, but I have to continue to trust that it is for a greater purpose.

“Weeping lasts for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

Sometimes that night is a few weeks, sometimes it is longer. But, God has our healing and joy will come in the morning.

I don’t know what road you are on. It may be incredibly painful, but this year, I want to be a good patient. I want to be available- even if it hurts.