Life is hard but God is Good

Be Still

Do you ever have those moments when things are going so well in your life that you wonder, “When is the crisis coming?” It used to be a “doomsday” feeling that lurked over my head in my younger years. Life experience has taught me it won’t actually be the end of the world when crisis comes my way. Yes, life is hard, but our God is good!

Contrary to popular opinion, life is not about making me happy and easing through the years. This topic of conversation has cropped up frequently this month as different generations of women in my life are able to relate. Life is about becoming more like the image of God and I have a long way to go! He gently and kindly chips away my rough edges. He allows only what I can handle through the strength He gives me.

It is during these times of crisis when emotions, stretched like a worn rubber band, force me to rely heavily on the Lord to get me through the day in one big emotionally healthy God-honoring way. One day I’ll learn to rely on Him so fully every day that it doesn’t take a crisis to get me depending so desperately upon Him!

Only last month the thought crossed my mind, “When is the next crisis coming?” Sure enough the hard times were lurking around the corner. Pausing in our dark garage with a heavy heart, I sat in the van and pondered the last ten years of my life, “Has life become easier or harder?”

Yes and yes, I decided.

Yes, life is easier because I have learned to manage my emotions better. I have learned to”let go” sooner. I have learned contentment in the simple phrase, “It is what it is”. I have learned to turn to friends and experts when we need a life jacket to help us stay afloat.

I have learned to sit still and know that God is God. Trusting fully in God’s character and His good  hand in our life provides a deep source of peace. Even experiencing joy in the midst of pain!

And yes, life is harder. I am often stretched beyond my resources and beyond my experiences. When my kids are involved in the crisis, the letting go of anxiety and deep emotional investment is even more challenging. You parents know what I mean. You carry the anguish of your kids’ struggles like a thorn in your flesh. The ache in your heart isn’t going away any time soon. The challenge to give our kids over to the Lord is an ever-evolving exercise of faith.

But, it is all good. God is always good.

A favorite author of mine, J.I. Packer, adds his perspective on the goodness of God:

“…you recognize that God is the author and source of all the good that you have had already, and all the good that you hope for in the future.  This is the fundamental philosophy of Christian prayer. The prayer of a Christian is not an attempt to force God’s hand, but a humble acknowledgement of helplessness and dependence. When we are on our knees, we know that it is not we who control the world; it is not in our power, therefore, to supply our needs by our own independent efforts; every good thing that we desire for ourselves and for others must be sought from God, and will come, if it comes at all, as a gift from his hands. In effect, therefore, what we do every time we pray is to confess our own impotence and God’s sovereignty.”  J.I.Packer, Knowing and Doing the Will of God

In the midst of your trial friend, are you willing to submit your anxiety and pain to the goodness of God? Will you join me in the humility of prayer that does not attempt to control or force the hand of God? Let us learn together how to fully acknowledge our helplessness and dependence upon Him.

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I prayed for you today

I love this picture! She is a beautiful girl who is hungry for God!

 

I prayed for you today;  my sisters, disciples, friends.

I always pray as the Lord reminds me of your name or burdens my heart about you. I have learned to pray for you whenever I think of you, knowing the reminder is a quickening from the Holy Spirit to pray on your behalf.

Sometimes I learn why He put you on my heart and it serves as a lesson how the Holy Spirit is intimately caring and working for us.

Today I am reminded to pray for  you more often, more deliberately. You are the girls God placed in my life over many years.

You are the Freshman I prayed with as you received Jesus. I was a Senior.

You are the girls I laughed with in youth group as we talked about serious things like boyfriends, parents, and trusting Jesus. You are the girls  I met with each week in your parents’ home. We sat in a circle and prayed and shared and laughed and studied our Bibles. I watched you serve your high school friends, grapple with your convictions in dance class, and make daring life choices for Jesus. You were in your teens and I was in my 20′s…and 30′s.

You are the girls I drink coffee with each Sunday morning, or the women who are raising a new generation of American youth.

You confided with me and entrusted your soft hearts to me. I still don’t take that lightly. God entrusts us with the task to pass along our faith, to rightly represent Him through His Word. He convicts me to point you to His sufficiency alone.

Your family pictures and Christmas cards portray beautiful images of women living faithful lives. You are teachers, students, missionaries, stay-at-home Moms. You are community leaders, youth leaders, investing in your church. You are serving at camps, serving the poor, and raising godly boys and girls.

Your lives display a deeply rooted faith and hungry, God-honoring hearts. My heart is filled-up thinking about you.  So, I followed the words of Paul and prayed for you today (Colossians 1:9-12) –

that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding

May you continue to grow in your knowledge of God, so you will be filled with His presence. He will teach you to be wise in all things and help you understand how to live and respond throughout your day.

The word continue reminds me we must never become stagnant in our relationship with God. How can we be filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding if we are not in tune with the Lord?

Jesus, remind her today of her desperate need for You.

so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

We have talked a lot about this, haven’t we? Oh, may our lives be so filled with gratitude toward our Lord, that we walk in a manner worthy of Him! I pray your heart would long to please Him in every corner of your life.

Jesus, may she bear fruit in every good work, may she increase in her knowledge of You, and may You be honored today in her time, thoughts, work and worship.

strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience;

Jesus, You know what she is going through. Whatever financial, physical, or relational hardship she is facing, I claim Your strength upon her life. May she keep her mind fixed on You. You give strength when she feels weak and discouraged.

May she rely on Your power within to give her the ability to be steadfast and patient while You work all things out for her good.

joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

Thank You, Father. YOU have qualified us –by Your mercy, You consider us Not Guilty. We are able to share in the inheritance “which belong to His people who live in the light” (NLT).

I pray You would set a passion in her soul. May her love for You grow deep and spill out in every fiber of life. I pray You would stir in each of us the desire to be a living sacrifice to You–whatever that looks like–whatever it takes–

(because) You delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of Your beloved Son, in whom we have redemption,

the forgiveness of sins. (!  Colossians 1:9-14)

Precious young woman, I thank my God upon every remembrance of you!

If you think this prayer is for you–you are right. You are in my heart, and I continue to take your name to the Throne.

Humbled,

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Love is calling out my name

The song told a beautiful story, a boy walking past his Mom’s bedroom every morning, and catching a glimpse of her through the crack in the door, bowing on her knees.  He knew she was praying for him and he sang, ”Love is calling out my name”.  Through the rocky moments of his life the Spirit of God forever whispered in his heart and he knew, love was calling out his name.

There are moments in my life I know love is calling out my name.  This love, is the love of God that will not let me go.  His love stirs my heart to listen, line up with His will, serve Him.  His love keeps calling my name.

I was on my first mission trip with a singing group in my early 20’s.  We traveled throughout the U.S. and Iron Curtain countries.  Generous people opened their homes to us along the way, and sometimes I was able to stay in a friend’s home.  One night I stayed with my wonderful friend from college.

Not wishing to disturb her at the crack of dawn, I stepped into another room to get ready.  I assumed the room was empty, but  there in the darkness, on his knees, was my girlfriend’s dad.  He was deep in prayer and did not give notice to my entrance.  Quickly, I backed out of the room with my heart pounding.  Personally, I had never witnessed such a thing: an aging man on his knees, intense in his conversation with God, disciplined to awake before the hustle of the day in order to meet with his Lord.

As I was leaving their home, I told me girlfriend what I witnessed.  She told me he has been on his knees every morning of her life.  She lives the fruit of her father’s dedication; a beautiful, confident, healthy, Jesus loving woman.

Oh, the humility of a man who recognizes his daily need for His Father God.  Oh, the great love of a father who prays for his children’s lives every day.  His faithful image remains etched in my mind.

Walking the brick streets of Prague, I had the privilege of partnering with a woman a couple of generations older than me.  We were meeting Czech students and sharing Jesus with them.  We prayed as we walked, asking the Lord to bring open hearts our way.  Countless times students prayed asking Jesus to be their Saviour and Lord.  With a bounce of joy in her voice, my partner would tell me, “We just entered into the prayers of their loved ones”.

Consistently, these students told us their mother or colleagues were telling them about Jesus. It became a life lesson to me.   Now when I pray for the salvation and spiritual growth of others, I pray the Spirit will guide colleagues and friends into their lives who love Jesus.  I am confident they become the ones entering into my prayers as my love and the love of God calls each of them individually.

We said our goodbyes to my husband’s dear Mother a few years ago.  She was a great homemaker, generous giver, dedicated wife, mother and grandmother.  Most of all, she was a lover of God who spent much time praying for the people in her life.  I knew when she went to be with the Lord, we lost a mighty prayer warrior. I know her prayers are still bearing fruit because the Spirit is always at work, faithful to accomplish what concerns us.

Thanks to the modeling of godly men and women like her, my husband and I call out the names of our children.   Each morning I pray over them, each evening their dad prays with them.  Throughout the day, we pray for the details of their lives.  We pray our children will love and desire God, honor Him in their friendships and work, and grow deeply in their character.  Trusting wherever they go and throughout their lives, the love of the Father will continue to personally call them to Himself.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  I Jhn 4:10

If you would like to read more about the love of God and the Holy Spirit’s work in your life, you will enjoy the book of I John.

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