Tag Archives: doubt

Anticipation!

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These are angel trumpets planted from seed my Aunt Tootsie gave me.  They’re purple.  I prefer orange but they’ll be beautiful just the same.

It’s turned cold here in my beautiful mountains so I’m doing everything I can to keep these plants alive. The rule of thumb is to cut them down to the stalk after the first frost and cover the stalks with pine straw.  Not gonna.  I want to see those beautiful blooms so I’m covering them at night, watering them every day in the hopes they will survive long enough to bloom.

I believe the same for us.

I’m anticipating a huge blessing and refuse to give up just because the circumstances (cold weather, frost) say I should.  The same CAN be true for our lives if we choose to trust God and keep walking it out, not sitting it out.  If we keep on doing what we can, believing in faith we’ll see our God-dreams come true, we will.  It may not feel good right now, it may not be any fun right now but keep going.  Feed your faith and starve your doubt – make every effort to see this thing through with great faith, determination and anticipation and you’ll see the good.

What if the plants die or get frostbitten?  Still good!  Because they all have blooms, if the blooms wither they will still produce the seedpods – and I’ll start over again next year (earlier than I did this year)! I still win!

What if things don’t work out like we think they should? Still good!  Things may not look like we think they should – in fact we may be truly disappointed and it may be hard going through some things to get where God wants us to be – but with every step we learn to trust Him more, know Him more and believe through all of it He’s not wasting one second of our journey.  We may think we’re going nowhere and if that’s what you think, you’re wrong.  “ALL THINGS” – **IN** all things, He works and He’s faithful to bring something good (good for our growth and to glorify Him) out of everything filtered through Him that touches our lives.

With great anticipation, keep walking.  Keep believing. Keep watching, knowing in your heart it will all be worth it because it will be!

Romans 8:28

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Witness Protection Program

Close your eyes and think of the most unthinkable thing you’ve been through.  Remember it.  Feel it.  Got it?

Tell me why it happened.  Can you? You never saw it coming, right? Never in a million years would you have even conceived the thought that it may happen…but it did.

I know from experience God can use anything – ANYTHING for His good.  After all, if we’ve professed our loyalty to Him it’s ultimately His goodness and character that are at stake – not just our reputations, feelings or plans.  Ultimately it’s His love for His child that you and those around you will see.  It isn’t always pretty or comfortable and certainly it’s not what we expect as His beloved!  We expect wonderful, good things – we’ve somehow convinced ourselves bad things shouldn’t happen to us because we’re His!

What if we changed our focus to try to see through the pain in a godly perspective?  What if what we’ve been through or going through has very little to do with us?  What if God CHOSE you to suffer just so you can show the lost ones around you that no matter what He’s good? He’s faithful?  He won’t abandon us when we’ve messed up, fallen short or been devastated by events we had nothing to do with?  What if there’s someone in our lives who needs to see someone they love and admire handle things with faith in Him when everything else has been torn away?

We’re called to be witnesses – not just to the corners of the world but right in our neighborhoods!  That’s our Jerusalem; that’s as real as it gets.  When we dare to swallow our pride, to stop worrying how we’ll be thought of or talked about and live out our faith, God will bless us. He’s the ultimate witness protection program – you’re being used to show Him and share Him with someone else.  If He allowed it to happen, how can there not be good come from it?

Maybe we’ve been selected to suffer for His glory. If so, we can believe He will protect, comfort and heal us all the way through it.  Do we dare trust Him that much?

 

“You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He.” Isaiah 43:10

The Place of Nothingness

I’ve never heard anyone celebrate the fact that they lost, their prayers weren’t answered or what they were expecting didn’t come.  Have you?

Dire, desperate situations, it seems, customize themselves to our lives.  We all have them. The Bible says to wait on the Lord so we do, believing as best we can He will somehow make a way.  When the time comes when we think it should be over and it’s not, decisions must be made.  Do we continue to wait?  Take matters into our own hands?

That place of nothingness can be good or it can be bad. If we resort to desperation, desperate decisions can produce devastating consequences.  Desperate people do desperate things. However, if we bring forward what we’ve learned from God during the times He has provided, consoled and comforted in times past…miraculously or otherwise, we could save ourselves from piles of regret.

When the answers don’t come; when all seems lost and hopeless that’s where our faith-talk meets our faith-walk.  I’ve found myself in countless situations over the past few years similar to those I had helped others through.  When you walk a road yourself that you’ve watched someone else walk, the view is certainly different! Truth is, until we find ourselves in something, we have no idea what we’ll do. That’s why Jesus warns us to never judge anyone else.  We may think we know how we would handle it but we don’t!

During those “nothing”, waiting times, I’m learning to draw on my past experiences with God.  I remember how we got through then and believe Him for now.  Nothingness is a place where our faith can grow…or die.  The choice is ours.  After all, haven’t we been taught to “walk by faith, not by sight”?  Will we, when the rubber meets the road? Nothingness is the OPPORTUNITY to believe His ways aren’t our ways; His thoughts aren’t our thoughts.  Sometimes he has to bring us to “nothing” to see for ourselves how big (or little) our faith in Him is when there is nothing to place hope in but Him.

Give your faith a chance to manifest itself for what it is. The only way to do that is to get to the place where there is nothing left but faith. Faith isn’t just a word and it’s not just a feeling; faith is a Person.  Faith IS Christ. At the end of the day in the horrifying place of nothingness, we’ll see how real He is to us…or how real He isn’t.

 

(For we walk by faith and not by sight.)  2 Corinthians 5:7

“And Jesus answered and said to them,”Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to his mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.” Matthew 21:21

A ‘BUT’ Kind of Faith.

Luke 5:1-11.

Everyone else was asleep while they worked.  Seasoned fishermen knew this could well be a catch to remember. The weather and the conditions of the water were absolutely perfect for fish and lots of them.  Out they went, full of anticipation of the catch they would harvest.

They were in their boats all night and didn’t catch one single fish, not even one suitable for bait.  They were stunned, disappointed to say the least and maybe even a little mad.  They couldn’t believe it.  Everything was perfect, how could they have been so wrong?

Have you ever been there?  You knew in your gut you did everything right – you prayed, planned and made provision for that one thing that could well have been your last step, the provision for your upcoming winter season.  You were ready, excited and believing not only yourself, but GOD that this was your moment…only to have absolutely nothing to show for your efforts.

So there you are, like Peter and his buddies, on the shoreline, tired, disappointed, washing dirty nets, with no result to show for your effort.  Should they quit fishing?  Would you?

Sometimes despite our best efforts, even after we’ve sought God’s will and His blessing even in the area(s) we are really, really good at, things don’t turn out like we expect them to.  I believe these things have two purposes:  1) to teach us our ‘good catches’ don’t come from our own hands and 2) just because we think we know everything there is to know, do everything right and by the book, that doesn’t ensure perfect results.

 

Peter was an expert fisherman making his living fishing. He probably knew everything about where he was fishing and all the signs to look for before he sat out that night.  He had it going on where his craft was concerned, yet he caught nothing. There he was, on the shoreline, cleaning his nets of everything that accumulated in them – less fish – which had to sting a little – a hands-on reminder that perhaps he didn’t know as much as he thought he did, his all-night effort for nothing, or a combination of both.

Then Jesus shows up, gets in his boat to preach and after He’s finished, tells Peter to set out again and this time, go to the DEEP water.

Peter had two choices. He could have presented a viable argument to Jesus – “Look I’m a fisherman – fishing is what I do. I make my living fishing.  In addition to that, I’ve been out there all dadgum night and caught nothing; nada.  To go back out, and to the deep no less, is…well…it makes no sense.” Instead, as tired and discouraged as he undoubtedly was, he decided to do what Jesus told him to.  The end result changed Peter’s life forever.

What will we do?

  • I lost my temper today and had every right to BUT because you say it’s right, I’ll apologize.
  • Had my heart broken so many times by people I thought I could trust and depend on BUT because You say so, Lord, I will forgive and even bless them.
  • I did my very best at my job, everything I was asked and more, but didn’t get the promotion BUT because You say I should, I will keep on doing my best.

Do you dare trust God one more time?  Do you dare allow His word to supersede even your best judgment and experience?  Do you dare say, “BUT I will do as You say…”?

Disappointments in life will surely come, even to those who have never experienced them.  That’s no time to quit or not believe in what is possible through the One who loves us the most, the One who wants more than anything to show us He has your best interest in mind, even when He allows things to come our way which He knows will deeply hurt and disappoint us.  Do we have a ‘but’ kind of faith? Let’s do, just because He says so and see what happens.

“But when Simon Peter saw that he fell down at Jesus’ feet saying “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord! For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken.”  Luke 5:8, 9

May the ‘nets’ of our hearts be as full of hope and amazement as those boats were of fish that day.

 

Provision

 

Just a quick observation.  I’ve noticed that when it’s the hottest and driest the dew on the grass is thicker.  My shoes and feet get soaked when walking Sampson.  I also noticed that in the intense heat things are still growing – because God waters His beauty with the morning dew.  That’s a display of His provision at its simplest.

Amazing.

That should tell us something.  In the most intense “heat” of our lives (circumstances) – if God sends extra dew to take care of the grass (which we often try to kill, at least cut) – if He takes care of things in ways we don’t even notice, how much more will He take care of us.

Worry places a barrier between us and Him.  Take it down and believe He’s going to take care of you and see you through what you face.

Matthew 6:25-31

Shattered and Scattered

John 16:32

The disciples had witnessed many miraculous things and received powerful teaching from The Supreme Teacher. They believed He was the Son of God, the Redeemer and the promised Messiah.  If anyone asked them they were quick to tell who He was, but now He was telling them He was going away – going back to The Father.  Jesus was telling them that in a short while, they would scatter and leave Him alone.  They didn’t believe Him.

How could they leave Him?  How could He leave them? The thought of it sounded crazy but it happened.

Don’t we do the same thing?

We have preconceived notions of God and how He’s going to bless us and work things out in our lives.  That’s as real as our faith is to that point.  That’s what we’re taught and we believe God (and Jesus) are who they say they are and we live based on our faith as we know it.

What if the unthinkable happens, though, do we still believe?  What if your child gets sick, you lose your job, you lose everything you have, your spouse dies.  When God allows you to be shattered, will you still choose to love God and trust Him or will you “scatter”?

Although I have been blessed with my heart’s desire and am physically living in it, it hasn’t been easy or even pleasant at times.  My perception of “trust”…of even who I thought God was and certainly how He would see to me have totally disintegrated.  Shattered, I became scattered and my God – I thought – had failed me.

I think God allows extremes to take us to the “next level” – if we choose to go.  We don’t have to.  Many have abandoned their faith in God when He allows extremes.  When we’re smashed with something we don’t see coming, we’re rattled, and perhaps for a moment, knocked off our foundation.

Many times, all we can do is believe in Him and choose NOT to believe what we feel and see.  I’ve said that many times.  In brokenness and despair when everything around is distorted and we’re shattered to our core, ready to cut and run (or lay down and die) – we’re at a crossroad of giving in or going on.  Will we choose to still trust Him?  Will we muster the strength to take one more step with Him?

The disciples did scatter when Jesus was arrested but something made them remain in the distance to see what happened.  They saw Him tortured, watched Him die and His body be buried. They gathered together in their grief only to see Him return to them more alive than He had ever been.  The first thing He said to them was “PEACE”.

During the shattered times, if we choose to hang on through what we go through He will do the same for us.  He’ll bring us back together, repair our shattered hearts and seal in us a much stronger faith…if we only believe.  He’s done that for me in ways I can’t begin to tell you.  He’ll do the same for you if you’ll hold on just a bit longer.

Don’t Stop

It’s mighty cold outside so morning walks with Sampson aren’t looked forward to.  Regardless, I layer up and take him out.  While moving, it’s not that bad at all but when I stop the reality of the situation becomes very clear:  it’s dangerously cold. That’s a word for us Christians! The circumstances are extreme and paralyzing.  We find ourselves stuck in reality asking questions like why, what will I do, how will I survive this. The fear consumes us and we see no way things will change. We cry and mull it over and over.  We can’t see beyond what we’re stuck in and sometimes a lot of time and energy is wasted thinking, sorting and trying to figure out what often has no explanation.

Sometimes there’s nothing reasonable to make us believe, other than God’s word and unfortunately because of our human condition, that’s not enough.  It appears there’s no reason to believe things will ever be any different than they are right now but something happens inside of us that won’t let us stop.  Before we can move, however, we must decide not to stop.  The thought of it is intimidating.  Why would we want to expose ourselves to unknown, sometimes dangerous elements? Why would we expect anything to get any better after it’s been the way it has for so long?  Nothing’s changed, there’s no real reason to believe any effort on our part will change things.  What will we do?

Walking any distance in cold weather is a risk.  The fact that it’s cold and uncomfortable, not to mention the what if’s involved (what if we fall, get sick after exposing ourselves, etc…) are reasons enough to stay in our comfortable zone, but still, the dog has to be walked so what do we do? Walk the dog!

The same is true in life. We have to do something; we have to choose to believe. We often don’t get to pick the end of a trial, a death, or when many circumstances of our lives will end.  Only God knows; only He sees the beginning, the end of a thing and every detail in between.  All we can do is trustingly walk through it seeking His direction and holding onto Him as tightly as we can.  Other than Him, there are no guarantees – no clear cut “walk this way” path.  Sometimes we have to just put one foot in front of the other, believing God has a greater purpose than we can see and go forward. If we stop the elements become harder, fear and doubt invade and we turn back to our comfortable places (however uncomfortable), often wishing we hadn’t!

Clearly, things aren’t easy and sometimes we become discouraged.  Don’t stop! Keep on walking.  Keep believing and soon, the walk will be over and we’ll be finished with the peace in knowing God’s in control and we did what we could.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4 KJV