Praise in the Storm

                                 “He stilled the storm to a whisper.”  (Psalm 107:29a)  NIV

Florida summers can produce some truly magnificent skies.  One can witness a blue, cloud free sky change in a matter of minutes.

It starts with the distant rumble of thunder.  Low rumbles spaced out by minutes.  Before you can count the number of rumbles, the blue sky has changed to massive gray clouds and darkness covers the ground.  In an instant, the clouds burst forth pelting the area with rain and sometimes hail.  Lightening then arrives to put the exclamation point on the storm.

And, as quick as it arrives, it disappears.

As I reflected on God’s direction for my post this week, I witnessed one of those turbulent Florida thunderstorms.  It reminded me of the journey I walked along side my husband as he fought the cancer that invaded his body.  A storm that arrived one day with a diagnosis of stage IV cancer and built with a fierce ugly head of complications, surgeries and chemotherapy.  Doubt and despair invaded the space of hope and trust.  And in my devastation, his death was the exclamation point of that storm.  Ending, it seemed, almost as quickly as it had arrived.

But, yet, for me, a storm continued.  The clouds gave way to sadness, loneliness and confusion.  I yearned for the passing of this turbulent time that had invaded my life and my heart.

Thankfully, God holds the exclamation point of my storm and what I do with the clouds of life’s problems.  I cling to His promises and hold to His presence as I move out from under the devastating realization of no longer being able to hold the hand of the one who would protect me from the earthly storms.

                     “I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.”                                                                                                                  ( Psalm 55:8)   ESV

I will choose to praise Him in this storm of widowhood.  I will seek His purpose for me as I walk this path.  And I will rejoice knowing that this is but a splinter of eternal time which I will one day share with Him, my husband and loved ones who have gone before me.  That is His promise, sisters.  We all have that to look towards!

As I seek shelter under the umbrella of His Word, I have developed some thoughts on healing with “man’s time” and why they simply do not work.

  • Time does not heal grief.  It’s what we do with the time that matters.  Remember to address your emotional scars with His mercy and love.
  • Time does not erase the pain.  Tears will fall and ease the hurt, but, trust God to mend your broken heart.
  • Time does not make us forget.  If we grieve with the hope God gives us, we can remember in a positive way.
  • Time does not cure loneliness.  Fill your life with loving family and friends, and always keep praying to God.
  • Time does not cure depression.  This is a normal part of the grief process.  However, we can choose to not linger there as we emerge to embrace the life God has given us.

Time does not, but God can.

 I do not know where you are in your storm, my sister.  I am praying as the clouds break away and the blue sky returns that you can embrace His loving arms of protection, promise and purpose of the aftermath.

Heavenly Father, I pray for Your presence in the midst of the storms we face.  Please help us know that this earthly life is but a mere blink of eternity.  We ask for Your help as we face our grief and the pain and loneliness it brings us.  We will search for You in the storm and continue to praise You.  Amen.  

bonnie

The comfortable life Bonnie was enjoying took a radical turn in the spring of 2009 when the “C word” was introduced into her family.  Cancer.  Her healthy husband was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, and life would never be the same.  She was able to live the words “for better or worse, in sickness and in health”, walking along side this fight for life. But after a twenty-month battle, God called him home in October, 2010.  God has been faithful in His promises – “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.”  (Psalm 68:5) She loves reading, baking and long walks along the Florida coastline.  A good portion of her time is spent flying around the country as a flight attendant for over thirty years.  In the twenty-six years of marriage, they raised two amazing daughters, who now display many of their father’s traits and teachings in their character. This family of three continues to fight the good fight and live out loud for the Savior.  

 

Want to read more about trusting God? Determined to Bloom by Linda

Where Does My Strength Come From? by Karen

Moving Forward

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 ESV

Why is moving forward challenging, at best?

In all honesty, it has been a painfully difficult, yet entirely God-filled, couple of weeks for me. I am three and a half years out from my beloved’s going home date. Nonetheless, I was struck by a grief wave that knocked me to my face and threatened to drown me in shallow waters, as I was moving forward.

For me, it began to become more and more trying, to come home to an empty house and silence. At first, I longed to stay in our home, with our things and our memories, the more time went by, the harder it became. I tried many ways to break the silence: leaving Christian music on each time I left my home; having  God’s Word open, in various rooms, to my favorite scriptures; and making sure I framed my mind for coming home to “empty” each evening, by walking in with God before me. Yet, it began to tug at my spirit….it was time to let go of our home and move forward.

I put my house on the market believing it would sell quickly and allow me to become debt free. After, eight months on the market and two realtors, it finally sold, with a total of less than two-hundred dollars profit. As we all know, things do not always go as planned. Yet, I had prayed through, time-and-time again, and I knew it was what God was asking me to do. He is an on-time God, but His time is not always our time and His ways are definitely not our ways.

If I did not understand God’s economy, I would not get this AT ALL! Yet, I have a beautiful story of an EPIC rescue by a Father who loves me more than I deserve and gives me glimpses of Him, when I need them most. As I was preparing for the estate sale, I went “over the edge”. I was not even aware the edge was close, I thought I was fine. As we priced almost all of my worldly possessions, I lost it.

Mind you, stuff is just stuff, so even though I was going from 2,600 square feet into a 700 square feet, tiny house, I was letting it go. However, as I had my back turned and heard behind me, “How much would you like to sell this for?” I turned and saw a beautifully crafted wall mounted plate, with a blessing of love for all who enter, written on it. I strained for, “NO, no, you can’t sell that! It’s the last Christmas present Daryl ever bought me.”

As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I was in trouble. Tears flowed and my memories overtook me. I was done, face-down, flat out, under the water of the wave that hit me from behind. I was just standing there on my feet, moving forward, toward the beach and dry land, out of the deep waters, and then….then, I wasn’t. All I could breathe in was salt; the salt of a thousand tears. They flowed for five days, before I could stand up again and breathe in fresh air.

God has revealed Himself to me during this time, in awe inspiring ways over the past twenty plus days. I could tell you many but one, one, is a life memory of an epic rescue from my Abba Father. [Abba, it is as close as we can get to the word daddy in English.] As I was walking through my home, preparing for movers, on my next to the last day there, The Spirit pressed me to pray while I was walking through the room where I found Daryl after his stroke. I dropped to my knees and then went prostrate onto the floor over the spot where he had lain. God’s Spirit washed over me and said, “You remember this as where it all changed and TODAY, I’m telling you this is where it will all be restored, and you will move forward.”

There was much more to this story, more than a blog can hold, but my heart HOLDS onto it! Knowing that my Abba is with me, He is watching over me, He does love me, He sees my tears, He directs my paths, and He has a plan for my days.

I made it through, again, and I did not drown, not even in shallow waters. And I AM moving forward, NEVER forgetting what is behind, but honoring it as I move to press on toward the prize which is Christ Jesus.

God, Help us to remember with confidence, You are ALWAYS with us. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Goodness

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Psalm 34:8 (ESV)

She stands and shares how her faithful God has answered her prayers with “yes” and life is great and God is good.  People smile and encourage her.

I sit in silence, aware that my prayers were not answered with the “yes” I desired, my life is not the “great” I dreamed it would be; but my God is still faithful and good.

Bless it.  My mind can’t help but wonder what her picture perfect life must be like.  If I think back, I realize I used to be her.  Shame on me, I sin in my frustration over her “easy life”.  I confess my jealousy to God.

Widowhood is ugly.

God is beauty.

The longing for our departed is overwhelming.

God is un-overwhelm-able.

When you have been traumatized by medical treatments and procedures yet still known the comfort of God in the midst of endless hospital stays;

when you have experienced loss and truly felt the peace that passes all understanding;

when you have stood flanked by your children, with your arms lifted high in praise, singing “Blessed Be the Name” at your husband’s service, then you know the extent of full surrender.

You will know the goodness of your Lord on a whole new level when you have crawled through the darkest of valleys and thrilled at the tiniest sliver of His light reaching through the darkness to you.

You will comprehend a love so deep, a faith so intense, a truth so piercing.

The goodness of the Lord is not dependent on how He answers my prayers or if my life is going the way I want it to.  The goodness of the Lord is just that:  HIS GOODNESS.  It does not waiver.

On my good days, God is good.  On my bad days, God is good.  He just is.

Widowhood is lonely.

God is ever-present.

Our shattered pieces seem irreparable.

God is a God of redemption and restoration.

I know a depth of my God’s character that I didn’t know before this journey.  He has revealed facets of Himself that I cannot begin to put into words.  His presence has carried me through horrendous events and His goodness has been constant.

Lord, I marvel at You.  Eternity is not enough time to explore Your goodness.  Thank You for revealing more of Yourself to us in the depths of despair.  Amen.

 

Lori Reynolds StrellerLori Reynolds Streller is a mother of two who finds herself smack dab in the middle of widowhood.  She is choosing a life of gratitude by intentionally living this new life well.  She answers to Mom, daughter, sister, aunt and friend.  Her sanity is fueled by daily time with Jesus and a lot of coffee.  Boot camp workouts and running are her stress relievers.  As a writer/speaker for aNew Season /A Widow’s Might Ministries, Lori uses her sense of humor and her reliance on God’s faithfulness to minister to others.  She boldly claims the goodness of her Lord in the midst of chaotic suffering.

If you are interested in having Lori speak at your church or function, email her at admin@anewseason.net.

Other articles written by this author: https://anewseason.net/author/loris/

Other articles on this topic:

Jesus is Enough by Bonnie Vickers

God is Sovereign. I am not. by Ami Atkins

 

 

Lead Me- Guide Me- Walk Beside Me

Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need….Psalm 23:1 (TLB)

It’s Springtime!  Where I live, we are excited about seeing the grass turning green, new leaves coming out on the trees, flowers beginning to bloom, and even some warmer days.  It is refreshing to begin this “new season”.

A “new season” – oh, there are still so many days I wish I could really get excited about that on this journey of widowhood!

As I look back over the months I have been traveling this path, I can see the many different stages  experienced. My husband and I were married for forty-eight years and worked together for the majority of that time.  We were literally together twenty-four seven, so there were so many new things I had to encounter.  I now know what it is like to learn to be alone.  I know what it is like to make a major move early in my journey.  I know what it is to learn to make decisions on my own.  You see because my husband was called to his heavenly home unexpectedly, my entire life was turned upside down in a matter of minutes.

In the beginning, I was so doubtful I could ever survive alone.  However, God had other plans in mind for me.  As the minutes, hours, and days progressed I began to realize how much God loved me and how much He wanted to be a part of all the decisions I needed to make.  My desire for Him began to increase and I soon realized, again, He has the answers to all the questions and situations I face each day.  He even tells me in Psalm 23:1 (TLB) “Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!”

I am a very “human” person, so I continually have to be reminded of His promises.   Oh how thankful I am for the many ways He continues to do that.  I have a wonderful family, many friends, my church, music, but most of all His word.  I know as long as I keep my eyes focused on Him, He will continue to take care of me!

Yes, for many years, I depended on my husband to help lead me, guide me, and walk beside me!   We were a “normal” couple and had our ups and downs like everyone else, but we were happy and I thought we were doing OK.  However, since my husband’s departure to heaven, God continues to re-affirm to me and to show me how He is there to help me with every decision I need to make.

We all go through tough times – before and after the loss of our beloved husbands.  At certain times, it feels like we’ve met our end and can’t go on anymore.  However, we can claim for ourselves that through Christ, God is our portion forever No matter how weak we may be, God can carry us through because we know that God’s strength, which dwells right inside our hearts, is strength like no other.

My dear Sisters, I pray that you will let His strength carry you!  Ask Him to “Lead You, Guide You, and Walk Beside You”.

Even though our lives are so different than we would ever have asked for, with Him, we can have a “new season”, even through this journey of widowhood.

Father God, sometimes it is hard to go on, but I know You care, and I trust You.  I know You will keep me in perfect peace when my mind is stayed on You!   Thank you for taking care of me and my dear Sisters.  Amen

Words On a Page

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones.  And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry.  And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”      Ezekiel 37:1-3 ESV

Do you ever feel like you have said all there is to say?

No

More

Words…

You simply want someone to get it, without having to speak.

Sometimes, I get tired of talking. This can be a real problem, since talking is how I make my living. But there are days, when I just want to be done talking, explaining, retelling, and reliving.

Sometimes, I want to be:

Still

Quite

Lost

Sometimes, I want to escape and leave the world behind. Usually it occurs when I am trying to minister and teach on “empty”. You know what I mean? When you are “empty”, your tank is dry. There is nothing left for you to give, and you feel like a pile of dry bones, waiting to be brought back to life. We cannot live or love when we are on empty.

In those moments, the only way I can fill back up is to spend time with God or with people who don’t need me to talk. Other widows get widowhood. There is no need for explanation, we just know. A hug can speak a thousand words among widows. Yet, the world does not work the same way, especially in America, where we live at such a fast pace. People don’t like to talk about grief. Maybe it is fear of saying the wrong thing or fear of being caught up in grief, themselves. No matter the reason, I have turned to journaling as a way of “discussing” issues.

Journaling has helped me simply get everything out without having to open my mouth and speak. I can sit with my pen, a beautiful journal, and just pour out my thoughts to God. In the middle of my feelings and my words on a page, I can find hope and perspective.

Hope to manage.

Hope to glorify.

Hope  to trust.

Faith always calls us to believe past what we see. It calls us to know and be known. It calls us to bear witness even when our circumstances scream, “NO!” When my faith is being bullied by my world, leaning into God refreshes my spirit and gives me new zeal.

I long to find victory through Christ and inspire others through my journey, but sometimes I have to remember why and how. If your life is loud or a deafening silence, right now, get alone with God and let Him fill you up with His presence and power. Let Him give you strength.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29 (NIV)

God,  Help us to find You when we are on empty. Help us to allow Your presence to fill us up to capacity with Your power, love, and strength. Restore our dry bones, Lord, and help us to LIVE again. In the matchless name of Jesus we pray. AMEN! 

 

 

Pride is NOT Pretty

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace,who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1Peter 5:5b-11 ESV

There is a lot of power in scripture.

God’s Word speaks for itself.

It speaks LOUDLY!

What part of this text from 1 Peter stands out to you? Is there a sentence or two that brings you comfort or perhaps makes you uncomfortable? Does part of it make you want to learn more or dig deeper? Is there a truth you need to read, or a reminder that hits you like a baseball bat cracking on opening day?

For me, it is the first 10 words; “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

I have by my own admission, always struggled with pride, and it has become apparent to me that I am often too proud to let others know when I am in real need of assistance.   On this journey of widowhood,  it’s hard to say when I’m pressed physically, emotionally, financially, or spiritually.   I am supposed to be strong. 

Pride is not pretty, and it can leave us vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks as he prowls around seeking whom he can devour.  Pride actually makes us weaker, not stronger! Proverbs 16:18 says, Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.”ESV Yet, oh the promises of God sisters, if we humble ourselves under His mighty hand, He will exalt us in His time. If we cast our cares on Him, He will shoulder them because He cares for us. After we have suffered, His grace will be sufficient. His mercy and strength will fall on us. TO GOD BE THE GLORY.

We are not alone and we DO NOT HAVE TO DO THIS ON OUR OWN. Sometimes, it is hard for us to ask for help, or reach out, or seek wise counsel because we do not want to appear foolish. This too, is pride and arrogance. Let it go and seek any assistance you may need. Someone may be waiting to bless you, if you will just ask. God may be waiting on you to say, “I give up, Lord. I can’t fix it, but You can.” That may be all He needs to shout, “FINALLY, I’ve got this!”

So, this is my honest prayer today:

God, I give up. You and You alone can help me fix the messes I have made. You and You alone can bring healing and peace. I step down Lord and long to get out of Your way. Please rescue me, right now. I need Your grace. AMEN!

Where Does My Help Come From

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”  Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)

Imagine driving through windy roads and gradually climbing to the top of the mountain.  Along the way you pass streams of water flowing over beautiful natural rocks.  The natural wildflowers are blooming in colors of red, pink, white, and purple.  The trees are beginning to bloom in many shades of green covering the mountain from the bottom to the top.  Springtime in the mountains – a place I once called “home”!

Yes, my husband and I spent several years living near the Smoky Mountains. I moved there with much reservation. I grew up in the flat land and did not like all the curvy roads and hills.  It took a “long” time to get comfortable and finally be able to call this place “home”.  However, my husband loved the mountains!  He loved the beauty, the terrain, and all that went with it.  He never wanted to even think of leaving the area, and his wish was granted, as it was the place we were living when God called him home.

I distinctly remember driving in those mountains many days, and my husband would gently remind me of the words in Psalm 121:1-2, “I will lift my eyes to the mountains; where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heavens and earth.”  He would always express his awe and gratitude for being able to be in the midst of the mountains, and the way it reminded him of where his help came from.

After the sudden unexpected loss of my husband, it was a very scary thing to understand I no longer had him beside me to love and care for me and make decisions for us.  We certainly had not prepared for such a loss.  Even though I was very thankful for the help of my family and friends, it soon became evident that I was the one who ultimately had to decide what was best for me.

How was I to do that – it all seemed so overwhelming!

Within a span of just four short weeks, I not only lost my husband and best friend, but the ability to earn an income, to stay in the area we loved, our home, our church, and our friends.  With much help, I was able to clean out our home, keep a small amount of our belongings, and move hundreds of miles to be with family.

As I searched and continued to ask God “how can I do this”, many verses of scripture began to come to my mind.  One of them was Psalm 121: 2 “My help comes from the Lord”.   I began to realize, as a child of God, all the help I would ever need was available from Him.  Nothing had changed, His help was always there, but now it was time for me to totally put my trust in Him.

Over the past months, I have come to realize just how many lessons and, yes, how many blessings were brought my way while living in those mountains!  I believe God placed me there so I could learn to “look up” and realize He will provide “all” the help I will ever need when I trust Him.

I am so thankful for the time I called those mountains “my home”.   Even though I had to leave them, I really do miss them and will keep many memories from there tucked in my heart forever!

Lord, help me to remember that you are the strength of my life.  You are the source of my strength.  I lift my heart to You in praise – there is nothing too difficult for You, and that is why I can say, “My help comes from the Lord.”  Amen

God Is Good – Even When It Seems Bad: Part Four

 Part 4

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. “

Romans 8:28

 Teri Cox: There are moments in this world that drives us to our knees; that take us to the edge of the abyss and threaten to hurl us over. This world is NOT what God intended for us. He created a beautiful, peaceful Garden of Eden for us, not this. This world is broken, and fallen, and filled with sin and sorrow. It will shatter us into a million pieces and throw us away; counting us useless or finished. However, as His children, we can be made new, because He is our potter. But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand . (Isaiah 64:8 NASB)  We may not look like we did before, or function with the same purpose we had before. Yet still, cracked, leaking, mended, or entirely refashioned, we can be useful and we are loved.

How do I know, “God is Good-Even When It Seems Bad”? Because, I know God is just and sees the tapestry of eternity. When I look at broken circumstances I too become broken. When I look at Him, I become new and He draws faith out of me. “Lord, I believe; help me in my unbelief!” Mark 9:24  

 

 “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of The Lord in the land of the living.” 

Psalm 27:13

Erika Graham: As life has unfolded over the last few years, I’ve pondered this verse often.  It sits with me and it stirs my mind and heart almost daily.  It’s hard to understand or fathom at times, how this life and the horrific stuff that I see and experience could possibly be good or become good. How could God’s goodness ever be in some of these terrible circumstances? The suffering, the brokenness, the unfairness, the injustice, and just the messy world around me make it seem bleak at times.

Yet, these are the things I do know: God is Sovereign and is always in control, ever working in our circumstances, walking alongside us, and allowing the good and the bad in life. As I pray and contemplate His goodness, I realize that God’s goodness is not found in my good or bad circumstances.  Focusing on my circumstances would cause me to never see His goodness, unless things were perfect every day and even then, my flesh would be unsatisfied.  Instead, I have learned His goodness is in His love and care for me, His constant presence and provision over me, and His healing power running through me.  And mostly, His goodness is in Jesus Christ.

I am loved, cared for, and forgiven through Christ. I can experience that goodness every day, even if that day is the most gut wrenching, difficult day I’ve ever experienced.

 

Kit Hinkle:  Never do I try to explain why bad things happen to good people. God is God and we cannot argue with His power, His authority, and His goodness. Painful circumstances can break our resolve to have faith in God, break our spirit of hope, and break our courage to continue on. But it’s in painful circumstances that we can grow to depend on Him to hold us together.

He forms us into His image of perseverance. United with His strength, we become unbroken. In our flesh, we are weak. But in His immensity, God is strong. He bolsters us up when, in our frail faith, we lean on Him. It’s that resolved spirit that shines through you when He brings you to your next steps with vigor and life. Just hold fast to the exhortation in Isaiah 41:10, “… fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah tells us not to recoil in fear when life gets at you.

Let us trust and stand firm!

God Is Good – Even When It Seems Bad: Part Two

Part 2

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. ”

Romans 8:28

Linda Lint:  “God is good – even when it seems bad” is a simple, absolute truth. Our God is always good, always present for us when the “its” of life come barging into our days. The “its” of illness, broken relationships, financial struggles, and death bring us pain and sorrow. Yet, through it all God stands ready with only the comfort He can provide and a sustaining grace to carry us through the trial.

God makes it clear to us in His words to Isaiah “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways” (Isaiah 55:8) And we are told many times throughout the New Testament that we will have trials and struggles.  We are also given the promise from Jesus Himself in Matthew 28:20 “I will never leave you – I am always with you”. God knows our pain. He counts every tear that falls when those “its” come. Sometimes He gives us understanding – sometimes He does not.

For me, it is wonderful when God moves in and resolves an “it” in my life. It is also a great comfort for me to know that when one of those “its” does not have a quick easy answer, He is right there alongside me collecting my tears and hearing every word my hurting heart is saying.

When understanding of the negative “its” of life does not readily come, I am learning to “Trust in the Lord with all my heart and to lean not on my own understanding”. (Prov 3:5) When I lean into trusting God I find a solid support that will sustain me until the day I am with Him in eternity.

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Proverbs 3:5

Jill Byard: While reading this verse, I catch a glimpse of God’s Father personality so clearly. I see Him and me sitting at the kitchen table having a deep conversation. As I see the conversation starting to wrap up, I stand up and start for the door. As I walk away, He gives me one more piece of advice. He squeezes my hand and recites this verse.

It is not by happenstance that His first directive is to trust His heart and the second is a warning to not be too confident in my head knowledge. See, singing about trusting Him, reading about trusting Him, and listening to teachings about trusting Him, fills up my own understanding and builds confidence in my head knowledge. Head knowledge is important to obtain, but if it stands alone, I become a law keeper.  That never ends well.

“When I cannot see His hand, I must trust His heart.” When situations arise and etch gaping canyons in my heart, I have to remember He wastes nothing and He sees beyond the now and into eternity. He wants the best for His daughter. His heart surrounds me on all sides. He knows the road ahead. He created it. He gave His only Son to make a way for His children. His heart is worthy of my trust. His goodness towards me sustains me like a life raft.

 

Katie Oldham:  Since the beginning of time, we see God fulfilling promises and prophesy. He IS sovereign, Sisters! The thing is…our human minds were never meant to grasp His ways and His infinite wisdom. We were meant, on bended knees and with bowed heads, to surrender, to trust and to sing His praises in ALL things. He reveals understanding to us in His perfect time and with His loving care for our ability to handle it or use it in our lives.

So, while we cannot understand His ways, we CAN trust Him fully with assurance that all things from Him are good and born of His unconditional love for us.  Just like He fulfilled promises and prophesy during Biblical times, we can trust His purpose for our lives today and use it for His glory. We can rest knowing our lives were created for eternity with Him and He guides us in every step of our earthly journeys until we reach His heavenly presence. So, let us always be encouraged by huddling into His sovereign, capable hand!

 

 

Unbroken in Christ

When there is nothing left to do in your own strength, something else has to take over or your fear will become the enemy’s tool to further break you down. A perfect example of this is in Laura Hillenbrand’s book, Unbroken. It’s a story about the great runner and WWII hero, Louie Zamperini. Hillenbrand tucks so much insight into the power of God in this biography. Louie’s story demonstrates over and over that God is good, all the time—even when the unimaginable happens.

You’ll see in Unbroken that the unimaginable happens to Louie over and over. From shark attacks to beatings to bullet shots to torture, Louie remains unbroken through it all. During WWII, Louie’s bomber crashes into the Pacific Ocean. He and two other Air Force crew members drift in a raft thousands of miles toward Japan. Sharks circle and attack. The sun scorches them by day, darkness chills them to the core at night. Raw fish and birds is all that sustains them. Except ….

Two of the three men believe. They believe in a future. They talk about it and plan for it. What they will say to their loved ones at home. How they will marry, have children, start businesses. Louie and Phil hold onto this hope while floating for weeks at the edge of starvation. What draws Louie to this optimism is his fleshly un-brokenness—his rebellious nature grown out of a childhood of stealing and tricking and defying every authority. This time he is daring to defy death.

His friend Phil also has an un-brokenness—one of a spiritual nature. He teaches Louie hymns he grew up singing and prays constantly. And his prayers aren’t desperate—they are accepting, willing, surrendering, and strong. He dares to defy what is against him. Yet Phil knows the spiritual war that is going on; it is the enemy he defies, not death. Romans 8:31b says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

This is a truth the third member in the raft can’t wrap his mind around. Unable to overcome his fear and replace it with defiance or faith, Mac grows quiet while the other two speak more. In Mac’s withdrawal, Louie sees pessimism take over his friend. Hillenbrand explains it this way:

“Though all three men faced the same hardship, their differing perceptions of it appeared to be shaping their fates. Louie and Phil’s hope displaced their fear and inspired them to work toward their survival, and each success renewed their physical and emotional vigor. Mac’s resignation seemed to paralyze him and the less he participated in their efforts to survive, the more he slipped. Though he did the least, as the days passed, it was he who faded the most. Louie and Phil’s optimism, and Mac’s hopelessness, were becoming self-fulfilling.”

Consider what blows against your life have placed you in difficult circumstances. Isn’t it easy to start feeling like Mac? Wishing things were different. Asking God why? Withdrawing from new directions you could be going.

What are you envisioning for your future? Maybe it’s health for your children. Or a new job. Or no more sad days. Whatever you are hoping for, can you trust that the Lord is good? And that His will for you is a life full of purpose and fulfillment?

It’s so tempting to curl up—and give up—in the life raft. But you have a choice: you can accept your brokenness will never change or you can reach to God, grow in His Word, and change your perspective. If you choose the first, you might find pessimism creeping in like a venomous creature. Phil and Louie came to a place that they knew, in their own strength, that they couldn’t make it through their trials. In their weakness, they depended on God to uphold them, no matter the outcome. Today, hand over your brokenness to Him and trust Him to provide all you need through your painful circumstances.

God bless those that surrender to become truly unbroken in Him.