He Cares For Your Soul

I love how God brings reminders of truth to us just when we need it. God brought Psalm 142:4 across my path today which says, “Look to the right and see ; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; No one cares for my soul.”  and I had to go look it up.

Who was speaking? Why was he feeling that no one cares for his soul? What did he do? What did God do? These are the questions that ran through my mind.

ps 142Psalm 146 is a prayer that was prayed by David when he was in a cave trying to hide from Saul. David was being pursued by Saul whose intentions were to harm him. I can only imagine how alone he may have felt.

Saul was once a friend who now sought to kill him. It’s one thing to be hated by an enemy who is a stranger, but to have a friend turn on him must have been hard.

Psalm 142 says, “I cry aloud with my voice to the LORD; I make supplication with my voice to the LORD.  I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him.  When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path. In the way where I walk They have hidden a trap for me.  Look to the right and see ; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; No one cares for my soul.  I cried out to You, O LORD; I said, “You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living. “Give heed to my cry, For I am brought very low; Deliver me from my persecutors, For they are too strong for me.  “Bring my soul out of prison, So that I may give thanks to Your name; The righteous will surround me, For You will deal bountifully with me.”   

I can feel the emotions of David as he cries out to God. I have been in places where I felt overwhelmed, trapped, and felt the there was no one who cares for my soul. But I am encouraged by David’s reminder that in those times we can take comfort in knowing God sees us, God is our refuge, He hears us and will deliver us.

So may we cry out with David to God in those times that we are troubled in mind, body, or soul and pray this prayer and be comforted by a God who will care for our soul.

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The Truth About Forgiveness

Forgiveness can mean that you must forgive again and again.

choosing to forgiveRecently I’ve had several hurtful things come up to surface again. They were hurtful experiences of betrayal by those that were thought to be on my side. Those that I considered friends. The wound was deep and I must admit caused me to withdraw from relationships once again. My standard in the past has always been to withdraw, build the walls higher, thicker and resolve within to never let hurt come again.

This time God wouldn’t let me build my walls. Instead God came worked on tearing them down. It took a while. He was patiently faithful in helping me see the need to forgive. To forgive not just in this but in past betrayals, past hurts that have caused me to prefer isolation over community.

As I said, He is faithful and forgiveness came. With forgiveness came glorious freedom and healing.

So now as I face this same emotion, remembering the past betrayal and hurt I am faced with a choice. Do I allow the enemy to use it making me angry again and feel the hurt all over? Oh my flesh wants to cry, kick and scream! I want to go back and make this right! I was wronged and there was no apology, no setting the record straight! The emotions and hurt threatened to rise up! In this moment if I would listen to my flesh (my enemy) I would sin.

But I  choose to forgive. Again and again.

Just so you understand, I am not speaking of one who hurt me again but of allowing the memory of a hurtful experience hurt me again. Both would require the same response. That response would be to forgive.  I use to believe that if a hurtful memory came up again and again it meant that I didn’t really forgive the first time. I no longer believe that for I understand that often my enemy will take those opportunities to tempt me to sin.

So when those times of painful memories arise thank our Father for the opportunity to forgive once again.

 

See Matthew  11:25; 18:21-35

Isolation and Forgetfulness

I have had a hard time being in the word over the last month due to the affects of a concussion. Between the headaches, dizziness, lack of focus and inability to read for any length of time, my time in the word has suffered. Due to the dizziness I was “stuck” at home unable to drive. I don’t think “man” was meant to be so alone, apart from community. Sounds and light bothered me so I didn’t go to church. I didn’t go anywhere.

courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net

courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net

For awhile the truth that I know was enough, but then the lies came. I didn’t call anyone or ask if they could come over for coffee and keep me company or help me speak truth. I didn’t share my need. I told myself even if I did call they were too busy anyway. Besides I wasn’t so sure I had the kind of friends that would drop everything just because I was feeling discouraged. It is true that my circle of close friends is very small, but the lie is that they wouldn’t be there if I needed them.

If I would have just asked them I am pretty sure they would be there for me. But then I hate that I need anyone. The lie I live with is that to need others, shows weakness. To need others only brings disappointment. Besides what if I did reach out and ask for help and they rejected me! Rejection, abandoned, forgotten and alone are my deepest fears. They are the weak spots in my heart. They are the areas that God continually, with grace and mercy, must remind me of truth.

So, last night as I drove to Church for the first time in a month I cried out to God begging to let me hear from Him. I cried out letting Him know I needed Him. I have been feeling frustrated, discouraged and very isolated. I felt alone and in so many ways I had lost my way out of the lies that my enemy was bombarding me with.

At that moment this thought came to my mind, “If it weren’t for Your Word Lord I would perish.” During the ministry of music I kept crying out to hear from God. Pastor Mathew brought a powerful message on repentance. He reminded me of my need to live daily with an attitude of repentance before a holy God. I can not do this life apart from Him. I am sinful, filled with weaknesses and fear. I need my Savior!

Then during the last worship song God spoke another reminder into my heart. We sang Word of God Speak by Mercy Me and the last part of the song goes like this, “All that I need is to be with You and in the quiet hear Your voice. Word of God speak would you pour down like rain washing my eyes to see your majesty. To be still and know that You’re in this place Please let me stay and rest in Your holiness.”

After finishing the song the words I heard earlier came to mind, ‘If it weren’t for Your Word Lord I would perish.” His Word is my life line, it’s the air I breathe. It is my comfort.

In my isolation I had forgotten that He is enough. His word is enough. I had began to pray for others to speak words of encouragement. I began to look to others to be there for me. I had forgotten that when we look to others they disappoint, they fail us.

God does use others to speak words of truth and encouragement. We do need brothers and sisters around us. But I had forgotten that first I need to go to Him. I need to allow His word to fill me, revive me and comfort me.

He speaks to His children through His word. I don’t always memorize the word the way I should but the phrase God brought to mind was based on this verse in Psalms. “If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction.” (119:92)

If it wasn’t for the word of God I would perish. I would be lost. Even if I had a thousand friends speaking truth, encouraging me, loving me, if I do not have His word then I would perish in my affliction.

Where are you today my friend? Is your heart longing for encouragement? Are you feeling alone, isolated or abandoned? His word is your comfort. His word will revive you. May I encourage you to read through Psalms 119?

Go to His word, let it speak to you.

“This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.” (Psalms 119:50)

The Battle of Hiding and Transparency

The last few days I have been wondering why am I so content to hide. In fact I prefer to hide. It’s my safe place, my default. The truth is there are many who prefer to hide also. We’ve been hiding for a long time, ever since Eve tasted the forbidden fruit. 

Maybe as women, we will always revert back to hiding. But it’s not what we were made to do. Christ came to set us free from guilt and shame. He came so that we could freely be who He created us to be. So why do we hide?

Hide - Copy (2)We hide because we are afraid. We have been wounded by others. People have sinned against us and we have sinned as well. We think that if we hide we will be safe, that somehow we will be protected. But protected from what? Another rejection? The betrayal of a friend or family member? Suffering? Pain?

We hide because we are afraid that others will see who we really are. We fear that they will see that at times we can be weak and frail. That we struggle and that sometimes we are even “needy”. Why do we feel that we must wear this mask of perfection and strength?

We feel  judged, shame and fear …so we hide.

In Staci Eldredge’s book titled Captivating she says “We become good at hiding. We hide behind our makeup. We hide behind our humor. We hide with angry silences and punishing with drawls. We hide our truest selves and offer only what we believe is wanted, what is safe.We act in self-protected ways and refuse to offer what we truly see, believe, and know. We have spoken in the past and been met with blank stares and mocking guffaws. We will not do it again.” No truer words have been spoken. So often we do only offer what we think others want to know about us and we hold back the truest forms of ourselves.

I too have a real tendency to hide, to try and protect myself against more hurt or possible judgment. I believe though, that God has been calling me to be more transparent. God wants me to be honest, open and real. He wants me to be sensitive to the needs of others, to be available, trustworthy and most of all- to be a grace giver.

But I’ve tried this before. I have found that sometimes people just aren’t comfortable with our “confessions”. They are not truly open to accept the messiness in our lives. They will judge, misunderstand and your relationship may never be the same.

If I would become a grace giver to all those I meet would that not make others feel that they could be real with me? If I began to openly share my heart with those around me, regardless of what others thought, wouldn’t those around me do the same?

So what shall we do? First we need to understand that there is a balance between hiding and revealing too much. Second we must discern between those who are able to hear our weaknesses, struggles and sin with grace and those who can not.

So when and how often do we share our burden? What parts do we share? It’s kind of like getting a physical wound. If we injure our selves and begin to bleed we don’t just go around bleeding all over everyone. We bandage it up so that the healing process can begin. Sometimes the wound is too big for us to wrap ourselves and we need help, so we go to someone capable of helping. Once it’s begun to heal, we do not pick at it so that it bleeds, thus starting the process all over. No, we allow it to heal. While healing there are those who will ask about our wound so we willingly share-but only when asked. We do not run around shouting “Look at my wound!”

Our emotional wounds or life struggles are similar. When we are going through something we know those we can talk to, those who are safe and trustworthy, who will help in the healing process. So we go to them and allow them to help “bandage” us up. We do not run around shouting “my life is awful-woe is me” to anyone who will listen. One reason we do not do this is because they may not be able to understand the depth of your struggle. They may not be able to handle your burden.

On the other hand if someone notices that we are struggling and ask us about it, we certainly should share with them instead of saying “oh everything is fine.” But, again, we do not want to walk around “bleeding” all over them. We can be be open, honest and willing to share when God gives us the opportunity to do so without going into great details or making huge confessions that other may not be able to handle due to their spiritual maturity or lack of.

I am finding, especially as an “older” woman and/or a leader that women want to know about my struggles and how I walked through them. They want to know they are not alone in their struggles. They need to see the power of the gospel being lived out in the life of another. So I need to be more willing to share when asked. I need to allow others into my life, so they can ask questions. I need to be honest enough to share the work God has done in me in order to bring glory to His name.

One generation shall praise your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. They shall eagerly utter the memory of your abundant goodness, and will shout joyfully of your righteousness.  PS 145:4, 7 NASB

Father, help me to be a grace giver. Help me to willingly open up my heart and my life so that you alone might be glorified.

Where is God in Suffering?

Today I want to share a few thoughts with you about God’s sovereignty and how I have understood it applying to my life when it comes to suffering and abuse.  I have known suffering and have walked the journey of healing from abuse. I can say today that I would not change anything that has happened in my Little Girl in Classroom 2000life, because I know that God has used it for His glory. I am often asked how I could say that knowing what I’ve been through. So this post is in response to that question. This is my response to “how can you have joy in suffering and where is God?” Before I share my thoughts just let me say that I realize that depending on what you are dealing with this could be a hard truth to accept. It was for me, it took quite some time before I could fully accept and trust in the sovereignty of God.

I do understand that no one would choose to go through tragedy or live with abuse. Unfortunately we live in a world filled with sinful man. God says that mans heart is evil and because it’s evil children are taken advantage of, they are abused. People, young and old die. God has given man a free will and sometimes there are victims of others sinful choices. Yet to say God isn’t sovereign over these areas goes against who scriptures says God is. God does not stand idly by and let things happen, He is in control, He is sovereign. Our destiny is not in our hands, or in the hands of other people. We are held in the hands of our heavenly Father, who controls everything.

One thing we need to understand is that “from the rise and fall of government to tomorrow’s weather to the exact location of every human being, the universe is under God’s control. He has the power and authority to do exactly what pleases him, anywhere he chooses to do it. God’s sovereignty is not only about power and position, but also about a plan.”(Paul D. Tripp) Scripture is pretty clear about God having a plan for this world and for each one of us. God calls us unto himself, He forms us into His likeness, and He is preparing us to live in eternity with him. To the human eye things may seem out of control, both in our individual lives and the lives of the world. But at any given time of the past, present and the future God is accomplishing His plan. His plan is being accomplished when we see “good” happening and when we see “evil” happening.

I know that there is evil in the world, and because God allows man to have a free will, and because of the evil choices of man, there are victims. Not only does bad things happen to people but evil happens to people. Evil happens to us and then we have to live in the aftermath of it. But to say that God is not sovereign over that is to not understand the God of the Bible. God is good, God is in control and God is sovereign over all things. “In God’s wisdom and sovereign will every trial in a Christian’s life is ordained from eternity past, custom-made for that believer’s eternal good, even when it doesn’t seem like it. Nothing happens by accident, not even tragedy, not even sins committed against us. Unless the Bible is wrong, nothing happens outside of God’s decree. Nothing good, nothing bad, nothing pleasant, nothing tragic. Every sorrow we taste will one day prove to be the best possible thing that could have happened. We will thank God endlessly in heaven for the trials he sent to us here. Truth is clear according to Acts 9:16; Phil 1:29; 2 Cor 1:5, Acts 14:22; Rom 8:17 (and others) the Christian is called to share in Christ’s sufferings. Simply put- Christians will suffer in this world. Evil can only raise its head where God deliberately backs away – always for reasons that are specific, wise and good, but often hidden during this present life. Satan has to get permission, he operates under constraints.” 1 (Luke 22:31)

Am I saying that it’s God’s will for a child to be repeatedly raped by her step brother or a step father? Absolutely not! What I am saying is that God chooses not to intervene with the free will choices of man, even evil men. But for those who surrender to God and trust in Him He will use these evil acts in our lives for good. He will help us heal. He will use it for good, for our good and His glory. That which man does to us in order to destroy us God can use for His glory.(Gen 50:19) 2

Unfortunately we don’t always know why, and as humans we think its our “right” to know why. Trusting God must be enough. The best answer we have is “God uses suffering to purge sin from our lives, strengthen our commitment to him, force us to depend on grace, bind us together with other believers, produce discernment, foster sensitivity, discipline our minds, spend our time wisely, stretch our hope, cause us to know Christ better, make us long for truth, lead up to repentance of sin, teach us to give thanks in times of sorrow, increase faith, and strengthen character.”1

So it comes down to this, I choose to trust in His sovereign will for my life whether I understand it or not. I must choose to walk in what I know is true today. The past and what I’ve been through needs to be seen as part of my journey that God has used to get me where I am today. Would I choose to be sexually abused? NO! But I can accept it as part of my journey to who I am today. I can accept it as I allow God to use it in the life of other women. In a few weeks I will be meeting with a young woman whose mother sold her into prostitution and because of the suffering I experienced I will be able to relate to her.

Each of us may have that event or circumstance we’d like to change, but instead of living in the past of guilt, shame or regret we need to live a life that accepts that God wasn’t caught by surprise. He didn’t take His hands off you at that moment. Trust instead in His sovereignty, Trust that all things work together for good to those who love him. All things – both good and bad, whether we have sinned or been sinned against.

Am I joyful that I was abused? No, but I can find joy in knowing that God will not let it destroy me. I can find joy in knowing and trusting in God’s goodness. I can find joy in who He IS!

 

1 Tada, Joni Eareckson ,  Estes, Steve. When God Weeps:Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty. Zondervan (October 1, 2000)

2  Story of Joseph can be found in Genesis chapters 37-50: “But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Gen 50:19-20

Yet, You are Holy

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest. Yet You are holy… Psalms 22:1-3

holy

Life is hard. Death is all around us. Nations falling. Power and Greed rule the land.

Yet, You are Holy!

Marriages fail. Children abandoned, broken and murdered. Homelessness. Starvation.

Yet, You are Holy!

Dying Churches. Watered down gospel. False teachers preaching.

Yet, You are Holy!

Sickness. Suffering. Pain. Tears fall. Hearts broken. Sorrow overwhelms.

Yet, You are Holy!

“…O, You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. In You our fathers trusted and You delivered them. To You they cried out and were delivered; In You they trusted and were not disappointed.” Psalms 22:3-5

We can find true joy when we realize that no matter what we face in this life the character of God remains constant. He is and will always be Holy, Trustworthy and will never disappoint.

Father may we cry out to you in trust. May You alone be trusted for our deliverance. You alone are Holy and will never disappoint. May we be reminded that no matter where we are today, no matter what the journey entails, that You are Holy.

Walking in Humility

walkinhumility…”God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all you anxiety on him because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5: 5b-7)

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom”Proverbs 11:2

As I read these verses once again I see something different, especially in light of what C.J. Mahaney writes in his book Humility: True Greatness When we humble ourselves each morning by casting our cares on the Lord,we will start the day free of care. The humble are genuinely care free. I’ve discovered how true that is about myself and my soul. Where there’s worry, where there’s anxiousness, pride is at the root of it. When I’m experiencing anxiety, the root issue is that I’m trying to be self-sufficient. I’m acting independent of God.”

I am to walk in humility.

Peter says “humble yourself under God’s mighty hand.” Wouldn’t that stand to reason then that I need to accept what God gives me? Even the pain I’m presently experiencing? After all, my current struggles have not caught God by surprise. He ordained them.

Often when hard circumstances come I ask why? Why me? Why this? I search for an answer. Could it not be in order to HUMBLE me? There is always a reason God allows painful circumstances in my life. Could it be to teach me to be totally dependent on Him?  Could the hard things be to teach me “…to need him, and in the end to give glory to Him with an ever deepening appreciation for the mighty hand of God” ?(Mahaney)

I do not need to know the path ahead in order to trust Him. If I walk in humble dependence in His purposes wouldn’t it be possible then to walk with joy no matter where the path ahead may lead?

What if I could come to the point that I can acknowledged my complete lack of ability to control anything in my life and then accept what ever the hand of God brings me? If I could recognize my total dependence on God. Then walk daily in that dependence, allowing God to have free access to my life.

How can I get to a place of joyful humility? I think beyond our admitting our dependence on God we need to have an attitude of humility. I need to purposefully remind myself each morning that God will take care of me. He has a plan and a reason for everything that comes my way. I need not worry or e anxious about my life. I need to trust Him each moment with my life regardless of what happens. Then in the afternoon I need to remind myself again …and again. It’s a constant act of placing myself in the mighty hands of God and then TRUSTING He WILL take care of me. I need to trust Him with every detail of my life knowing that He knows the number of my days and He desires my good in all things.

No, it’s not easy. I do not mean to make it sound easy. We so often want to see the road ahead first then we will trust. But then, that is not trust is it? We need to have the faith of a child that places her hand in the hand of her Father and just walks along with Him not matter how scary the road looks. That child knows she can trust her Father.

Oh God I do desire to get to that place where I can be free of worry about the road ahead . To  be completely dependent on you. Father, forgive me of my pride that says “I know better”. Forgive me for thinking that somehow by worrying that I am going to have answers to fix my problems. God help me to be TOTALLY dependent on you this day…this moment. Help me to walk in true humility where I do not need all the answers to life’s circumstances, I do not need to see the road ahead. Help me to trust in Your goodness to me. Help me to walk in the joy of Your purposes regardless of what the road entails. Amen.