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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Release

 Letting go is tough. But so much of life depends on that simple concept of release. 
Sometimes we don't even realize the baggage we are dragging along the journey of life. We think we've let go of certain things that have long bothered or distressed us but every so often we hit situations that remind us of a friendship gone cold, a loved one's selfish behavior, somebody's hurtful words, a painful move that had to transpire, or an unexplained awkward ending that was never resolved. We think we've moved on, but the truth is, we never fully did. 
 It's become apparent to me recently that I've been carrying unresolved situations for too long, and it's affecting my relationships and enjoyment of my life now. Part of my mind and heart is still stuck back in situations that ended badly years ago, and while maybe I've forgiven the people involved, I've never totally put the issue to rest. There are people who long ago stopped communicating with me (for whatever reason) or I distanced communication with them due to poor choices in their life...and yet, their phone number is still in my phone. Others I've kept mulling over wording for a possible letter or some form of re-establishing a connection that most likely will never happen. I'm still holding out some hope that time maybe changes these folks minds or that I can somehow help or  influence situations that, in reality, there is no investment or relationship to be had anymore. The other people have moved on. Even God has moved on and is doing many new things all around me. But I'm still holding on. I'm refusing to catch up to where God actually is now. 
 See, for those of us who love helping people, it's often hard to know when to stop. We can often hold out in circumstances with people that we should probably back out of simply because we think we can rescue them, save them, fix them, or change their situation. We think it would be unloving to set boundaries and step away when those boundaries have been crossed. We see it as insensitive if we told the people that our help seems to be no longer needed or appreciated.We agonize over the fact that while it may not be best for us to stay in the situation, somehow we think we need to. Maybe things will turn around. We feel badly that we can't see a story through to the end, instead of realizing that God may have only wanted us to help for a season. Perhaps He wants somebody else to take over where we left off in  the process of helping. But we don't want to see it that way. We think we - and only we - can make the difference in certain situations or people's lives. And so we stay. We put ourselves in a bad place because we are overly caring about other people's circumstances or feelings.  We don't seem to be able to tell ourselves that it's okay to let go. 
 But I'm starting to see now just how detrimental this can be. When you keep holding on with closed fists, your hands cannot receive the blessings and miracles of what God is doing today. When you're stuck in the past, you live in vain regrets over things you could've or should've said or done, and it takes strength out of relationships and situations you honestly can be helping in the now. When you allow previous hurts to keep driving decisions or choices you make today, you begin to live in fear of them happening again...and again...and again. You miss out on so much because you're still back thinking that the old might come back or a fresh start in a bad situation might happen. All the while, others have probably forgotten or moved on entirely and you're still reflecting on how you did (or didn't) say such-and-such, how you probably could've (or should've) kept going instead of backing out, etc. More importantly, God has moved on and we refused to come along with Him. 
 Loving others is important. Nobody should be pushed way who truly needs our help and prayers! But there comes a point where we limit our productivity for God when we don't let go soon enough. Sadly, there are situations that just don't turn out the way we thought they would. People maybe asked for our help and we gave it, but it turned out to not be what the people wanted to hear. Relationships where we thought there was agreement turned out to have little in common at all. Perhaps even those we supposed there was shared life-purpose ended up leaving us because they couldn't follow God to the extent that we felt called to. There are so many situations that can happen where we invest ourselves into others and the return of investment is minimal at best. We put in 80% effort and get 20% results...or maybe less. It is at this point that we must begin to listen to when God says, move on. 
 While it may take a very hard conversation to explain to the other party why you're backing out, the maximizing of your giftings and future serving others depends on it taking place. Lately, I've had a string of hard endings like this. I've had to end communication with some people, stop trying to reach folks who long moved past me, tell others my help is no longer affective for them and that I pray they find someone better to meet their needs. I've even had to delete numbers out of my phone of people who were once close to me. So many memories (good and bad) have had to be put to rest. But this process of shutting the door on yesterday, leaving what happened buried once and for all in the grave of time, turning over the hurts of others to the hand of God, has been healing of sorts for me. Healing in that I'm no longer responsible for what happened. I no longer have to keep holding onto some little thread of hope that things things might have switched. I've had to get to the point where I see that it's no longer expedient for me that I continue in situations where I do not have any influence anymore. (Or maybe I never did in the first place!) 
 In order to be in step with God, I must forget what's behind and rather press into what's ahead. I must catch up to where God is. So many good things are happening in my life (and most likely yours, too) but if we're like those runners in a race who constantly look back over their shoulder to see whose behind them, we will slow down ourselves and limit our chances at succeeding at being the best us we can be. We will limit our ability to live our one life well. 
 I'm to the point where I want to be fully invested in only those people and situations where I can truly affect positive change. If the person isn't wanting to be helped (regardless of if they tell you so), if somebody honestly does not want to change (even if they say they do), if you're stuck in situations where it's doing greater harm to you to stay in it than it is helpful to the other people, don't be afraid to seek God's blessing and walk away in total peace of mind, knowing you can no longer be responsible for their feelings or choices. Let God do the rescuing, the saving, the fixing, the helping. We can pray. We can love. But there is such a thing as caring too much. And that is what we must be careful about. 
 I don't know what it is that God may be asking you to release and let go of. But I do want to encourage you to take that step, hard as it is. So many blessings and good things will come as a result of us doing so. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Longing Soul's Satisfaction

"...They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way...hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses...
Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness."
                     - Psalm 107:4-6, 8-9


Monday, March 27, 2017

Quote of the Day

"No one has ever lived, who has not had his times of discouragement, heaviness, sorrow, and disappointment. Cares and afflictions come to all. 
Life has its adversities - it must needs have them. Adversity, pain, sorrow, and disappointment, are the lathe upon which God shapes us. They are the grinding wheel which grinds and smoothes us. They are the polishing wheel which makes us shine. 
If we can never be happy until we are so situated that nothing exists which may tend to render us unhappy, then we shall have little happiness in life. 
Happiness does not come from a life of ease and indolence. It is not the result of the absence of obstacles and difficulties. Happiness comes from triumphing over them. Therefore the song of true happiness often arises from the soul which undergoes many adversities. 
Dear soul, Jesus knows all about your troubles. He knows every heartache, every difficulty, everything you must overcome, everything you must bear. Trusting in His grace, relying on His help, you shall soon find your heart filling again with melody, for the clouds will pass away!"
                     - Charles Naylor

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Seek not to understand that thou mayest believe, but believe that thou mayest understand."
                        - St. Augustine

Friday, March 24, 2017

Quote of the Day

"...He will mix mercy with every affliction. Like sugar in our tea, it sometimes lies at the bottom and needs stirring up! But there is always mercy there!
...There is sweetness in the bitterest cup which the Father gives us! Let us therefore look for the sugar as we sip the bitter potion!"
                         - Charles H. Spurgeon in Morning By Morning

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Fruitful branches, those actually abiding in the True Vine, are in the hands of a loving and gracious Vinedresser. As He carefully prunes and tends us, there may be some pain in the cutting. But we can be certain that He is doing it for our own good so that we will bear much fruit for His glory."
                        - John MacArthur in The Gospel According To Jesus

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Facing The Inner Atheist

 I'm coming to an obvious but startling conclusion: there is such a thing as "fake faith." One can honestly say (and convince themselves) that they believe without ever truly doing so. And I'm beginning to see how often this has been the case with me. 
 As a Christian, I am finding out more and more how hard living in true faith really is. It's so easy to say that we trust God, that we believe His best for our lives, that we have even accepted His grace for ourselves and believe Him to be our Savior...all the while living as if He doesn't exist. Choosing in daily things to deny Him as Lord of our lives and deciding that our own plans are better than His. 
 Great doubts even can trouble our souls...and yet, we still suspend our disbelief when we walk into the church doors. We sing of His love and of our desire to worship Him, we listen to the sermon and agree with what is said, we enjoy the fellowship and prayer of fellow travelers on the journey to grace...but when we walk out of the doors, we pick up our fears, our doubts, our disbelief - and we forfeit great joy and contented peace because we do not really know Him at all. 
 So often, I see how my old self - the uncrucified me - plays the part of Judas and walks with God everywhere, yet still refuses to fully bow the heart to His sovereign authority. I want to be in control...dragging regrets from years prior, thinking I know what should happen in the present, and fearing greatly what is to come in the future...all the while saying that I believe. But never fully addressing my unbelief. 
 Authentic faith is hard. So hard. It takes more bravery than I ever thought would be needed just to face the daily fears (mountains of them at times) with simple submission to the One who has written my story since before time began. The inner atheist in me is constantly raising its head and trying to tell me to question God. To question who He is, what He's done, what He has in store. It attempts to convince me that His plans are not reasonable...but whoever said I had to figure out God's thinking?! Me. I told myself this for so long...and I was wrong. 
 After years of listening to my inner falsehoods, it's hard to learn to talk truth to them instead. To face the fears of unknowns, of what ifs, of how comes, of whys takes everything in me oftentimes. Perhaps you know the feeling, the struggle. 
 Perhaps you're in the same place as me - just realizing that doubt has kept grace from running deep, that fear has kept faith from blossoming to its full potential. That blessings have been missed because the eyes of the heart were blind to the simple truth that everything is grace...that we can't change a single thing by worrying our one short life away. That we pass by daily miracles and demonstrations of Him because we're too busy trying to figure out what He's up to and what we should do about it. Perhaps we've accepted Him as Savior but have resisted Him as Lord. We've fought His right to providentially and sovereignly orchestrate His plan to completion. And thus, our faith has proven fake. It has turned out to be no faith at all. 
 Truthfully, God doesn't want us to do anything about His plan. Only to submit to it. Only to rest in it. Only to accept and acknowledge that He is good and we are forever loved. His plan may include great pain, great sacrifice, great uncertainty from our point of view. But such seasons of heartache, loss, and obscured revelation only reveal our further need for Him and teach us that the only way to truly grow is to be stretched and tested. Faith can only be proven genuine when it is tried. And God knows this. 
 But can we learn to be okay with it?! That's the real question. Can we learn to let go of our need to figure everything out and instead come to the profound conclusion that, "no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end" (Ecclesiastes 3:11)?
 My inner atheist needs to be laid to rest and subjected to the Redeemer's rule. My old self must die daily, hard though it is. I must learn to walk toward the things that paralyze my soul the most and say, God has already walked through this; I don't have to be afraid. 
 I see now that God can do much in a willing and submitted life - a life that is given over to the good and gracious dealings of God. A life that is rich in what matters. And such authentic faith can reveal the love of God to a searching world in the biggest way possible. But such a place of surrender can never happen until I learn to let go of my disbelief. Until I don't merely suspend it, but allow God to do away with it for good. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Afflictions are far from being signs of Christ's hatred. Many times they are evidences of of His love. The people of God only lack what is bad for them. God has promised to withhold no good thing...you can conclude that if you lack something of enjoyment, it is withheld since it is not best for you. It is no defect in the love of Christ, but a defect in what you are asking for."
                      - David Clarkson in Voices From The Past

Monday, March 20, 2017

Quote of the Day

"I no longer believe the myth that trials are a curse. Trials are an opportunity. They are an invitation to do good works to glorify our Father in heaven, to transform our lives from the inside out, and to drive us into the arms and footsteps of Jesus."
                                  - Laura Story in When God Doesn't Fix It




Saturday, March 18, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Wilderness is sometimes the only place we can hear the voice of God. Jesus went into the wilderness to let His belovedness soak in. Do you do the same thing? A lot of us curse the wilderness. Something must be wrong, we think. We must be sinning. But what if the wilderness is a gifted time to learn your belovedness? ...God sees the wilderness as a special place between us and Him. What if we stopped rejecting it?"
                  - Jeff Bethke in It's Not What You Think

Friday, March 17, 2017

Quote of the Day

"May this trial be as a lattice through which Jesus will show himself to your soul."
                   - Ruth Bryan in Seasons of the Heart

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Every true Christian has his winter and summer seasons. It is only in that blessed country, toward which we are hastening, that there is one unclouded day. With respect to myself, I have reason to bless the Lord for the storm as well as the calm. That is best for the soul which keeps it low at the foot of the cross, loathing itself and trusting only in Jesus, sinking before Him in order to rise in Him, who is our righteousness and strength."
                     - Sarah Hawkes in Seasons of the Heart

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man's power ends."
                      - George Mueller



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Quote of the Day

"The God who made us does not then leave us to fend for ourselves. He is still Emmanuel, 'God with us,' even when to all appearances we stand alone against frightening forces."
                    - Elisabeth Elliot in The Path of Loneliness

Monday, March 13, 2017

Quote of the Day

"When we are tempted to murmur and repine under the cross, faith will assure that though the way is rough, the end of the journey will be sweet."
                - Thomas Manton  in Voices From The Past

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Perhaps there have been a dozen different things today that were not joyous, but grievous to you. And though you feel ashamed of feeling them so much, and hardly like to admit their having been so trying, and would not think of dignifying them as chastening, yet, if they come under the Lord's definition, He not only knows all about them, but they were, every one of them, chastening from His hand - neither to be disposed and called 'just nothing' when all the while they did grieve you, nor to be wearied of, because they are working out blessing to you and glory to Him. Every one of them has been an unrecognized token of His love and interest in you...
The particular annoyance that befell you this morning, the vexatious words that met your ear and grieved your spirit, the disappointment that was His appointment for today, the slight but hindering ailment, the presence of someone who is a grief of mind to you. Whatever in this day seems not joyous but grievous, is linked in the good pleasure of His goodness, with a corresponding afterward of peaceable fruit, the very seed from which, if you only do not choke it, this shall spring and ripen. If we set ourselves to watch the Lord's dealings with us, we shall often be able to detect a most beautiful correspondence and proportion between each individual chastening and its own resulting 'afterward.' The habit of thus watching and expecting will be very comforting and a great help to quiet trust when some new chastening is sent, for then we shall consider it as the herald and earnest of a new 'afterward.'"
         - Frances Ridley Havergal in Seasons Of The Heart 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Quote of the Day

"The humble soul endeavors more how to glorify God in afflictions, than how to get out of them. Daniel, the three children, the apostles, and those worthies of who this world was not worthy were such. They were not seeking to get out of their afflictions but were concerned for the glory of God. They were willing to be anything and bear anything that God might be glorified...The humble soul says, 'Lord, keep down my sins, and keep up my heart to honor you in all my troubles. Though my burdens are doubled and troubles multiplied, help me to honor You by trusting, waiting, submitting to You, and I shall sing my cares away and say, it is enough.'"
                                          - Thomas Brooks in Voices Of The Past

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Those whose lives have had the deepest spiritual impact in the world are those who have suffered."
                  - Elisabeth Elliot in The Path Of Loneliness

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Three Years

 Three years ago, on this day, I began this blog with the intent of helping the hurting find hope. I realized that God, through my own painful journey, had given me a message that I couldn't keep to myself. I knew there were many others who struggle as I do and who need to hear the words of life spoken to them in their darkest hour. I expected and hoped that God would change lives.
 What I didn't expect was that this simple act of penning my thoughts and sharing my desire to dive deeper into grace would change me! Through this forum, God has allowed me to be inspired, to love more deeply, to share more freely, and to discover relationships with others who want the same thing. God has also used this avenue to help me to realize that hiding isn't an option for me anymore. I can't run from my fears and my failures as I once did. Masks cannot be an escape for me to disguise my weakness. I must be open. The life of grace-living is one that must be embraced in full - and that includes the hard parts. Walking with God isn't just for the good times - He must be God of my life in the joyous as well as the difficult seasons. For, if I trust His goodness, I must trust it to carry me through anything that befalls me along the way. He will grant all that is necessary... including the ability to say "yes" when my human nature wants to yell "no." 
 I am eager to anticipate God's working in yet another year of this blog's message-giving. It does and will continue to exist for the sole purpose of drawing the needy, the broken, the weak ones among us deeper into a knowledge of the grace of God which alone can mend all that is wrong within us. 
 Thank you to everyone of you readers for taking this journey and daring deeply with me. Thank you for wanting to see through to God and for accepting the words of this girl in Alaska as (hopefully) words of comfort and peace to your sin-sick soul. I trust that God will continue to use what is shared here as a source of hope for those seeking for Him. 
Most importantly, thank you, Jesus, for being my God through all of the twists and turns of an uncertain life and for being a Savior to a world that is fallen.





Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Carnal reasoning will tell you that God does not see or govern, but has left the earth. But as we go into the presence of God, we learn that all things are beautiful in their time. All of God's ways are merciful and true though we might feel much forsaken at the present."
                            - Richard Sibbes in Voices From The Past

Monday, March 6, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Let the Lord do as He wills to us! He will never be unkind to us! He has always been our friend - He will never be our foe! He will never put us into the furnace - unless He means to purge the dross out of us. Nor will there be one degree more heat in that furnace than is absolutely necessary - there will always be mercy to balance the misery - and strength supplied to support the burden to be borne." 
                                   - Charles H. Spurgeon

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Calmer Of The Storm

 Thank you, God, that Thou hast never left me to face the waves of uncertainty on my own. Thou who calmest the Sea of Galilee and bade Peter face his fears with faith - wilt Thou not do the same for me? I loath my lack of faith and regret that I so little put it into practice as I ought. My trust in Thee is so often less than what Thou deservest. But Thou assurest me that even the smallest faith is enough so long as I put it into use and place my trembling hand in Thine. I bless Thee that I can depend on Thee for every trial and rest in the surety that Thou wilt grant grace to meet every challenge. Teach me to get out of my boat of comfort and walk toward Thee. Let the winds roar and the waves roll deep, I will still believe and trust Thee!


Friday, March 3, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Consider this medicine for your faith to drink in comfort: not the slightest trouble befalls you without the overruling eye and hand of God. He is not only our wise God, but a tender Father. He knows what you are made of and measures out exactly every cross unto us a chemist measures grams of medicine."
                                   - Samuel Ward in Voices From The Past

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Quote of the Day

"May I be allowed to say that whatever is the nature of your affliction, you will find it weakening to look at it; but, looking unto Jesus, you will have, moment by moment, incomings of strength and support - not a stock in hand, but just as you need it...
When looking at this or that painful thing, it is quite too much for us, but when looking unto Jesus and leaving all to Him, we are borne through the trial, and the very mountains become a plain, and the floods we thought would overwhelm us are made to divide that we may pass safely through."
                             - Ruth Bryan in Seasons Of The Heart

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Fear Not!

 The last few days have been tough ones, and this song has spoken truth into my heart as I've tried to face my mountains of  fear with my little mustard-seed faith. The words have become a comfort as I've breathed His promise: "Every step you take is met with grace, you don't have to be afraid." And so today, I assure you that God has not left you or abandoned you regardless of what you're going through. We can enter this new week with hope because His message to us all is, "Fear not!"