Promises of God: A Reason

Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:16, NLT

“Everything happens for a reason.”

A phrase I have had a problem with a time. Two. Three hundred. And some. For me, at times…it seemed like a pat answer usually given to ease the hurts and struggles of others. We don’t know what else to say at these times. Maybe we do actually see something good coming out of this, and so we want to see the positive. A different perspective.

My problem with it? In my times of hurt. Struggle. Trials. Times I just didn’t understand what God was doing. I didn’t see good. I didn’t get it at all.

“Everything happens for a reason.”

Sure. What reason exactly? And can He show me? Like now? Yes. To be real…that was usually how I felt.

But not so much anymore. The phrase has kinda grown on me. One can even say that it is Biblical. We know trials exist because of the sin that entered the world through Adam and Eve. Evil exists because of it, and it’s repercussions and it’s pains are a part of our lives now. We also have a part in these “reasons.” We are knuckleheads. We make unwise choices at times, and so we suffer for them. But I am not talking about these types of things. I am talking about the trials and situations that just make no sense.

If you look at the references to reasons and seasons Solomon makes in Ecclesiastes, Solomon was making a case for things being ordained by God by Him at His specified time:

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, NLT

God has a purpose for the time in which He allows things to occur. And while it makes no sense to us, it makes sense to Him. While it may cause us pain. Strife. Stress. Annoyance. It is all according to His plan. To His purpose. One He intended for us long ago.

It’s just hard for us to realize this when we are in the midst of the struggle. Because in the heat, we want the furnace to be cut off. During the test, we want the answers. During the trial, we want to know the verdict. But sometimes, the answer looks more like this: We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3-4, NLT

The reason is often our greater strength. Healing. Hope. And a desire for others to know and have the same.

God gave us hard things so we can walk with someone else through their hard things. The way no one else can, or often will. That’s the reason.

God gave you your unique personality. The one no one seems to “get,” because that is the exact personality that can reach a people that others just can’t reach. He knows you are just the person who can. That’s the reason.

God gave you that vision, then put a mountain, roadblocks, and boulders in the way; because He knew He had something bigger waiting for you. Something He knew you would see through to the end. That’s the reason.

God moved those people. Let them hurt you. Leave you. Ghost you. Because He knew they could not go where you are going. They would have kept you from seeing this vision clearly. That is the reason.

He knew it. He saw it when He was forming you. He knew what you would go you. He knew you would be strong enough to endure it. He carried you through. And He knew you would use it to carry others to Him.

It was all for His reasons.

Promises of God: Healing

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Revelation 21:4, NLT

Today’s devotional is not part of the monthly promises. It’s prompted from my hiatus in my effort to write. My inability to do much at all in fact. But it’s still a promise all the same. One we all rely on. All desire. And sometimes forget is still in God’s timing. And all part of His plan.

Healing.

I’m on day 5 of a migraine. Likely due to pollen from the dogwood blooms. The consistent change in the air here in Virginia. Or my genes. I look like my mother. Except for my dad’s blue eyes, I’m the spitting image of my mom, but from my father I recieved the headaches that I have suffered with since the age of 10, and the spinal arthritis that has ailed me since I was 19. Both of us work through the pain. No need to complain about it. Or lay around and whine. It’s a part of the daily routine.

But I am getting older now, and it is getting harder to manage the day with a head splitting headache, and burning back pain.

So, yes. Some days when I manage to have a few cancellations, I lay down and sleep.

It’s not something I generally talk about. Most people have no clue. You can’t tell just by looking at me. And it isn’t something I can do much about. I have seen a ton of doctors. I take medication that provides little relief. I use that contraption called a TENS unit. I have tried every anti-inflammatory diet. I have had physical therapy. I have had all those cortisone shots that are recommended. Nerve blocks. I walk. I stretch. I exercise. But the pain remains. I have walked to the front of the church and asked for anointing and yet-I still have pain. I still walk around with this pain daily.

Yet, I believe God still heals. Maybe not now. Probably not tomorrow. But He will.

I also know God has the power to heal, but there are times He doesn’t. Paul mentioned this when he spoke of his “thorn:”

Therefore, so that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me—so that I would not become arrogant. I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, NLT

We can only speculate what Paul’s thorn was, but I can relate. Burdens. Pain. I have asked God to take them away. To heal me. But He has not. Are they there to humble me? To remind me that I need Him daily to strengthen me? That I cannot move in my own flesh because I will fail? Yes. Certainly. So likely, healing will not come this side of eternity.

We want healing in our time. And we expect God to heal ALL things. We forget at times that pain and suffering exist because of the sin that came into the world, and yes-God can heal…but pain and suffering are inevitable. God’s healing may not come in the way we desire. It may not come in the form of miracles. Yes. It may come in the form of a new, pain-free body. The new body He gives us when we are called to Him. At the end of time.

We often can’t wrap our minds around this. That a loving, all-powerful God allows this kind of pain.

That pain-free healing isn’t offered to ALL here on earth.

Unfortunately, that’s the consequence of the fall. That’s why it’s so important we turn to Him. So we can have our healing with Him in heaven. So He can give us the strength to endure the pain we will experience here on earth. Are there miracles? Of course there are! But some of us will endure pain. Some of us will continue to live with thorns in the flesh until we get new bodies. But God will give us the power to endure this here on earth.

That’s what He has done for me. That is the miracle. The shift in attitude is the healing. The endurance and perseverance despite the never-ending pain is the testimony.

And what He will do for me in glory will be even more miraculous.

Promises of God: A New Path

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8

I love to read. I love to write. Written words are often easier for me than those spoken, and all through school I looked forward to English classes. Well, until it was time to study poetry. The process of breaking out words, stanzas, and trying to articulate what the poet was trying to convey? I just didn’t get it. Because a whole glob of feelings and experiences could be written on those short lines. The poet chose those for these reasons, and my literal interpretation could often be way off from its original intent.

Like this one:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. -Robert Frost

This poem is well-known. Perhaps it’s the depiction and pictures often laid out alongside this one that come to mind first. A fork in a clearing. Two paths. Oh, which one to take? The pictures and Frost’s words always made me visualize the difference between walking on a well-worn path. One filled with lots of people. Or choosing the one that is overgrown and rocky. No one usually chooses the rocky one. The well-worn path is easier to navigate. There are people along the way on that first one. It has been walked before, and there are no signs of danger. It’s just easier.

When reading these words presently, I think of two other paths. The one the world chooses, and the path of God.

We can often stand at a fork in the “road.” Stand in the midst of our spiritual path, and wonder which way to go. Do we choose the path that is easiest? The one that promises riches, success, and fame? The one that is easy to fall in line with and navigate because so many have walked it before? Or do we choose the one filled with rocks? It doesn’t always offer a quick way out, or a get it fast solution. It is filled with directions that can be seen by the world as rigid or intolerable.

It’s the one often less traveled by, and it does make all the difference. The best part is our guide is along for the journey, offering us directions to navigate the rocks, hills, and valleys along the way. If we are willing to choose this path, He gives us a guidebook to help us walk along it. And if we stumble over a few rocks, He provides us the way to get back up.

If you are walking along that easier path, still stumbling, surrounded by lots of people but still lost. No one to guide you. Maybe it is time to choose the one less traveled by. There are people along this one, too. Who can point you to the instructions God has laid out for our walk in the Bible. And God himself, He will take your hand and guide you along the way.

It will make all the difference.

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.

Promises of God: Design and Purpose

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
Before you were born I set you apart
and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5, NLT

Today we are once again in the book of Jeremiah. Right at the very beginning when Jeremiah is called by God to be His prophet to Judah.

Jeremiah’s response? “I’m too young. No way I can do this!”

Excuses. Excuses. Excuses. When God calls us to something, too often we make excuses for why we may not be capable, and Jeremiah was no exception.

Though given an important task-to provide warning and move the Israelites towards repentance-and though chosen by God-Jeremiah struggled throughout much of his assignment. He was God’s voice, but no one listened. He urged people to act, but no one moved. He was poor, thrown into prison, rejected by his family and people, and did not see God’s prophesy fulfilled in His time.

He thought he was failing. God thought he was a victor. Because Jeremiah moved in his purpose and did what God called him to do.

Jeremiah believed in the promise provided to him-that God not only designed him for this, but that God would be with him, protect him, and give him the words to speak (v. 8-9).

We have a calling, too. God designed this calling for us long ago when He designed us. When the time is right to fulfill it, God will be with us, protect us, give us words to equip us.

When we do what God has purposed, we are never failing, only victorious.

Everything Happens For a Reason

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

“Everything happens for a reason.”

That phrase at times irritates me. Maybe because it seems to be thrown out as a response to people who are struggling through something hard, or asking that “why” question. We say this with the best of intentions, but perhaps we are really uncomfortable with all the unknowns of the current situation ourselves.

I’ve often been irritated by that standard phrase because I have asked my own “why’s” over the years.

Why was this person placed in my life? Why was I called to this, only to not complete it? Why is this journey taking as long as it is? Why did some people leave without warning? Why?

Most of those “why’s” have no answers. I may never know the answer on this side of eternity, which makes that “everything happens for a reason” phrase so difficult to stomach at times.

But it’s true. Everything does happen for a reason. One that’s outlined in what has become another one of my favorite verses-it’s all according to what God has planned.

Some things happen so others can grow closer to Him. Others so we can. Some things happen because we veer off course, and God has to get us back on track. Other so He can grow our faith. Some things happen and unfold in the ways they do because it simply wasn’t time, or He has something else for us. Others because of our fallen nature.

Everything happens for a divine purpose. Everything can be used by God for his glory. For His purpose. To show others His love, sovereignty, and power.

The good things, and even those intended to harm us; He is working everything out for our good.

In the Meanwhile

The Lord replied,

“Look around at the nations;
    look and be amazed!
For I am doing something in your own day,
    something you wouldn’t believe
    even if someone told you about it.” Habakkuk 1:5, NLT

For those of you who have been around a while, you know how much I love post-it notes. They have housed prayers in Bibles. They live on my mirrors at home. My computer. My walls. They have even adorned my steering wheel as a reminder to place Satan underground on a daily basis where he belongs. So it should be no secret that a post-it is responsible for this post.

I am not even sure why I wrote it. I am pretty certain it’s from some book I read. It’s placed above my computer screen, the place where I fashioned a work space during the days of quarantine and telehealth. The days I didn’t much enjoy. A reminder that God was working on something in those moments, while I was grumbling in this same space where I am currently typing. This same space where I know He continues to work. The words written on that note? “God is working the meanwhile.”

Meanwhile back on the ranch…

I know we have seen that phrase. If we have ever read a book, seen a movie, or lived…we have seen or heard it. But what does it mean?

The word “meanwhile” by definition means “occurring at the same time.” So while I may be sitting here typing on this computer, meanwhile someone else back at the ranch may be doing something far more inspiring, or simply taking a nap. Whatever the case may be-God is working. Which means that our lives are also connected through Him. We just don’t know how. We have no idea who the people are God wants us to help, or just how those “meanwhiles” will come together for His purpose. All this happens at the same time without us ever knowing, until He is ready to reveal it to us.

While you are at home praying for that one thing you keep asking God. God is working at the same time. Meanwhile, someone else is praying, too.

Don’t give up. Don’t quit hoping. Keep on praying.

God is working in the meanwhile.

I do not own the rights to video, lyrics, or music.

Not By My Strength, But His

Ever heard of a life verse? It’s a verse from the Bible that speaks to you and usually defines the way in which you walk in your daily life with Christ. 

Do you have one? I do. One I even decided to tattoo on my arm as a reminder to live out its truth daily:

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

It’s what has kept me going on the days when I didn’t think I could do anything. And this day was no different. 

This day was supposed to be a day of rest. 

It had been a long, trying, emotional week prior to the holiday break. Mental health crises tend to spike at this time, as many kids are anticipating an extended period in places they may not feel safe. My heart and mind were heavy, and I was just ready to shut the impact of trying to meet all these needs off.

Knowing that at times we have to do this, to ever meet these needs in the first place. 

This day was supposed to consist of hot coffee, book fairs, and wrapping gifts. Not navigating the healthcare system with a 6 month old. Not waiting for hours for tests to come back. Not trying to muster the ability to just get past the check-in desk without losing it, since I had lost my wallet. Had no ID. No cash. No card. Nothing but the two Starbucks I had brought in with me. 

As I looked down I saw it. The tattoo. My first. To commemorate my life verse. Phil 4:13. And so if I believed it, how was I going to apply it here?

I remembered back to a time I used up all MY strength to do what I could with all the things. And it depleted me. Made me physically, emotionally, and spiritually sick. I stepped out of God’s will, which was the exact opposite of His strength. It was during that time I found this in a book I read, an explanation of what that strength meant. Its source.

I had enough of the other way. I knew if I walked in MY strength, I would fail. I would get in the way, and mess things up. So I got on that elevator, work ID on to replace my actual ID, pushed that button and prayed. 

God…I can’t do this without you. Send me your strength. Give me your power to push through this day. Give me your words, give me your patience to deal with the medical staff. I need you, because without you I don’t have the strength to make it through this day.

That’s what it means to live out a life verse. To do more than just slap it on an arm, a mug, a post, whatever. But to know what it means in the context of your relationship with God and live it. 

Are you living out your life verse? 

Just Be Still, Already

We heard it as kids. We likely say it as adults now: “Be still. Sit down and just be still.” An instruction often given from parent to child. One that comes after too much moving and less just being. 

You know we are commanded by God to do the same: “Be still?” Yet, even for us, the adults, who demand this over and over from our children…we don’t know how to practice this.

As I finished reading the devotion relating to this very thing…just sitting and waiting on God, I audibly heard the verse from Psalm 46:10 repeated to me: “Be still and know that I am God.” I have this verse in various places around my house. A reminder to sit, pray and let God do His thing. But as I heard that verse I had read over and over, I reflected on its meaning. The message version states it this way: “Step out of the traffic! Take a long loving look at me, your High God.”

Step out of the traffic. Essentially…get out of God’s way so He can BE God.

For a number of years, I was in the traffic. Ready to assist at the sign of any jam. Any accident. Any crisis. I was there. Running to save as if I was God. Until it took a toll and I needed saving. There is a time to run into traffic, but God’s command to be still, is a command to let God do His thing. However, we don’t do this. We move. We move because we don’t like His timing, thinking ours is better. We move before we are ready. We move outside of His will. 

We move and play God, when He simply asks us to be still. 

You. You pray. Be still and pray. Sometimes that’s all you can do. Maybe for this season, that’s all God is calling you to do. Because God is the one who saves. God does crisis intervention, and He takes care of traffic jams. You. You just need to get out of His way. Pray and let Him do His thing. Because when you pray…He WILL do His thing. 

Get out of the traffic today. Get out of His way, and you? You just simply be still and pray. 

I don’t own the rights to the music or video.

It is what it is

The phrase in the picture above. It’s one of my favorites. Coined by my bestie and I to remind ourselves to not worry over things we can’t control. It has carried us through tough things. Even trivial nuisances. I even have a bracelet to commemorate our adoption of the phrase.

However, I heard in a sermon on-line in the past not to say the phrase. Not to use it at all. Like…what???

But it’s my favorite. What do you mean, don’t say it?

For a while I felt a bit convicted about it. Caught myself every time it came out of my mouth. Stopped wearing that bracelet.

But then I started therapy. Started working on acceptance. Of myself. Of life in general. It’s ebbs and flows. What God allows, and what He allows to remain a mystery. What He controls. What He gives me the power to control. What He allows to remain, be. What for Him just “is.”

And I realized “it is what it is.” Most things about this life are simply that.

It’s the hard, straight-up, honest truth.

People don’t like me. “It is what it is.” I can stress over it. Mold myself to fit into boxes He never wanted me to fit into. Or I can accept the fact that some people just won’t like me. Just never will, and be OK with it. I like me. And so does He.

People disappoint. “It is what it is.” We are flawed humans. We hurt. It’s a part of our sin-filled nature. A manifestation of the fall. I can sit and wallow in the hurt, or I can forgive and move on. Create better boundaries, and hope I don’t get hurt in the same way again. Learn from it, so that I don’t dare do the same to anyone else.

Change will come. Both good and bad. “It is what it is.” Some change I will like and I will embrace with open arms. Other change I won’t like so much, and I will fight like crazy to avoid. But fighting won’t keep change from coming. Avoiding won’t keep change from coming. It still comes.

Life has ups and downs. It comes with some worries. Some big. Some small. “It is what it is.” It’s the price paid for living until we see the promised land. I can either wallow in worry endlessly, or I can relish in the fact that there isn’t a worry or a trial He has not seen me through. Even if some have been harder than others.

“It is what it is.”

I am not accepting defeat here. I am not laying down my flag and saying that life has no meaning. No purpose. Or that suffering will always be this way (though the Bible does tell us we will have suffering here….).

What I am saying is, for me…I am accepting life as it comes. I can go through it in a constant state of panic, defeat, or sadness. Or I can let life ebb and flow as it will. I can let God handle things as He will anyway.

It is what it is, because He is what He is.

Rejoicing In All Things

This is the day the Lord has made.
    We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:14, NLT

It is probably no secret you have either said this verse or at least heard it. Upon waking, or upon beginning a Sunday morning church service. Spoken as a reminder to praise God for the things he has done for us. But what happens is, if we don’t forget this step once our feet begin moving, we praise Him for the good things only.

I know what you are thinking. “Aren’t we supposed to praise Him for the good things?” Well, yes. But, let’s reflect on this story to also consider those “other” things.

Most know the story of Job in the Bible:

There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area. Job 1:1-3, NLT

His misfortune begins shortly after we meet him. In several short visits, Job loses all his crops, livestock, shepherds, and even his sons and daughters. His response? “Praise the name of the Lord!” Job 1:21, NLT

When reading this story, I have always asked myself, “How do we praise God for bad things? Especially things like this?” In reading further, I remember reading the following as Job was talking to his wife about loss, “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” Job 2:10, NLT

We stop praising God when bad things happen because we expect that when we are Christians life will be gravy. But that isn’t the case. Sometimes it is even harder, because God is refining us. He is strengthening us. Because He has a good and perfect will, and because even the bad stuff can be used for good. Even the bad stuff, the missteps, the stuff that makes no sense, can be part of our testimony.

So, yes. This is the day the Lord has made. And we will rejoice if it is good. And we will rejoice if it is bad.

We will give Him the praise for all He will do today. Even if what He does isn’t what we consider “good.” We can rest assured, it will be good. In due time, it will most certainly be good.

I do not own rights to video, lyrics, or music.