Let God’s Voice Be Louder Than Your Fears

 Woman and rain shower

Have you ever felt lost while traveling? You call out for help, but no one answers. My husband had military orders to move to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and we decided to save money by moving ourselves. He drove the U-Haul truck full of our meager belongings, and I followed in our car. We were all set to communicate freely via the CB radio and use an atlas to navigate. This was before cell phones, y’all! I knew if I could keep the truck in my line of sight, I would be okay. Before we would approach a turn, Chris’ voice would come over the CB radio giving me a heads up. I was comfortable following his lead, trusting he knew the path we needed to take.

It wasn’t until nightfall my comfort turned into intense distress. The heavy traffic caused us to separate, and I could no longer see the truck. I called Chris’ name over the CB radio several times. Panic gripped my heart when I did not hear a response. I had no idea where I was, the traffic was pressing in on me, and I started crying hysterically. My fears of the unknown jammed my logical thinking, and I became a wreck.

Have you ever felt alone in a situation and panic set in?

Have you ever cried out for help and felt like no one could hear you? It’s possible this is something only I have struggled with, right?

When we allow fear to grip us, we tend to react illogically. Analyzing what the outcome could be, we can get overwhelmed and let negativity sidetrack us. The noise we create in our panicked mind blocks us from hearing anything other than our inner voice. This can leave us feeling unheard, alone, and lost.

But here’s the good news: God’s word can comfort us and bring us to a logical state of mind:

  • Be mindful God hears us.

 In my distress, I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God for help;             He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears. (Psalms 18:6)

  • He calls us to be still.

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalms 46:10)

  • He alone is our calm.

When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, your consolations delight my soul. (Psalms 94:19)

  • He is always before us and will never leave us.

The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

I am a little embarrassed to admit, but that night on the dark highway, when I was gripped by fear, I was not calmly calling out for help-I was screaming! I was screaming so much so that I had to force myself to breathe before I passed out. It was at that moment I heard a voice.  It was Chris calling my name, “Jodi I hear you. You are okay. Please calm down.”

He then proceeded to navigate me to an exit where we reunited. I was so busy crying out for help I did not stop long enough to hear his response. Sometimes we do that when we are crying out to God and wonder why He has not responded. Perhaps during our crisis, if we instead paused long enough to listen for God’s response, calm and peace will fill our hearts and minds.

Let God’s voice be louder than your fears and louder than your inner voice. What He has to say will help you get back on course.

If you are like me and lose sight of God from time to time, just remember He is right there beside you. He is willing to respond to your cry, quiet you with His love, and navigate you to a place where you can become still and know He is God.

He’s got the wheel, and He’s got you, friend!

 

 

 

Can I Have A Little More Time God

woman-sitting-on-edge-of-rock

It was during a Sunday morning worship service that the Lord impressed upon me to do something I never dreamed I would do. For years, I had been praying for confidence, growth in knowledge, security, and to become what I was meant to be in God’s eyes… Y’all, God was calling me to attend college after twenty years of being out of High School – which I barely graduated due to bad grades – Truth!

I had so many questions as to why He would choose such an avenue to answer those prayers. I was reluctant to follow Him because I had gotten comfortable praying. Just being honest! I thought those prayers would never get answered. Fear and the unknown gripped me. At that moment, He instructed me to step to the altar as an act of my surrender to His will and an abandonment of mine. Yikes! I began arguing with God. I told Him all the reasons why His timing was off. For one, the service had just started and it was not time for the “altar call.” Tradition says those are meant for the end of service, right? In my stance of pride, I told God I would surrender when I got home, in private. Well, that did not set well with the Holy Spirit and as I felt His presence resend I could not get to that altar fast enough!

I feared God at that moment more than I feared the unknown and the people that would witness my actions.

Have you ever argued with God?

Have you ever questioned His calling in your life?

Have you ever postponed obedience?

In the book of Matthew and Luke, there is a discussion between a couple of disciples and Jesus regarding the call to follow Him. One of them wanted to bury his father first, but Jesus told him to let the dead bury their own. This can sound cruel, but biblical commentators speculate that his Father was not dead and could live many years to follow. This disciple was asking for more time before stepping into obedience to Jesus’ call on his life.

Perhaps he feared his family and others would not understand why he was following Jesus. Perhaps the sacrifice of leaving his family and community was too weighty. Nonetheless, his response was inadequate to Jesus. Delayed obedience to Jesus is disobedience.

In Matthew 9:23 we learn that Jesus got in the boat and the disciples followed Him. They chose to sacrifice relationships, what was comfortable, and their reputation to follow Him. Their allegiance to Christ surpassed their allegiance to everyone and anything else.

No matter what God is calling us to, even if it doesn’t make sense right now, our faith at that moment must become bigger than our fears. God’s purpose for His calling is bigger than us.

If they had not followed Christ, they would have missed out on life-changing events. For instance, immediately after they had gotten in the boat with Jesus a horrific storm arose (Jesus never promised life would be without trials as they followed Him). Jesus got up from His seated position in the boat and rebuked the winds and the sea bringing about a great calm. Then, when they reached the other side they witnessed Jesus commanding demons, with one word “go,” to flee from two possessed men into a herd of pigs that ran off into the sea drowning. To read the full story go to Matthew 8:23-34.

If I had not followed Jesus’ call that day, during worship, I would have sacrificed seeing Him work in my life. I would have missed experiencing God and Him answering prayers from years ago. I gained confidence, started a small business, and graduated with honors… Me? With honors? Only God could pull that off. The sacrifice was uncomfortable, and it was hard. But living in disobedience to a call you may not fully understand forges greater sacrifice and heartache.

Is God calling you to something bigger than yourself? Are you hesitating to follow Him?

If it is a clear call from God don’t argue.  Don’t question.  Trust Him. Choose to step into His boat and follow Him. He will calm the storms of life and He will protect you because you are His and He loves you with an everlasting love. He will never call you to anything that is not intended for your good and His glory. Romans 8:28-30

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.” (Psalms 56:3 NIV)

 

 

 

 

Romanticizing The Past

romanticizing-the-pastHer eyes danced with wonderful memories as she reflected on the good ole days; days full of happiness, fun, adventure, and freedom. I could tell she was reliving some of the fun when her mouth smirked with a grin. She knew that God had led her to where she is today, however, her present hardships left her thinking that maybe the past was not so bad, after all.

Has God ever delivered you from a difficult, painful, or unhealthy situation and yet you find yourself grumbling in your present circumstances?

  • Maybe you are minimizing the pain of a previous marriage because the new one feels hard.
  • Maybe you are minimizing the toxic relationship you were once in because you now feel lonely.
  • Maybe you are minimizing the difficulties of your childhood because being an adult stinks.

When the present feels difficult, we often romanticize the past. 

For a moment, we can forget we were once crying out to God for deliverance, begging Him to rescue us from our darkest time.

The Israelites forgot the bondage from which they had been delivered, and consequently, rejected a Holy God.

Their deliverance:

God heard their cries for help and saw their affliction. He delivered them from bondage, oppression, and great sufferings. As God led them to freedom, they journeyed through the desert and wilderness experiencing His presence, protection, and provision.  In their forty years of traveling, they never once ran out of clothing. Their shoes remained intact. Their feet did not swell, and water and food were provided.

Their rejection:

They felt reprieve as God led them from all their hardships. But something happened that caused them to romanticize their past.

They focused on their provisions instead of their Provider. This is shown throughout the book of Numbers.

We read in Numbers 11:5 how the Israelites recalled the fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic they received in Egypt because their stomachs were tired of eating the manna and quail God had provided for them. They felt so deprived of the luxurious foods that they wished they were still in Egypt. Their time in Egypt was full of traumatic experiences and yet they felt it was better than their current circumstances.

I have a name for them, “Whiney Hineys!”

Let’s not be too quick to judge them, though. Have you been a “whiney hiney” lately? Are you romanticizing your past instead of remembering your deliverance?

When we begin to feel our current circumstances are worse than our past ones, we ought to turn to God. Ask Him why. Ask Him to show us the good in the NOW. Ask Him if our feelings are lying to us. Seek Him in His Word for truth, direction, and wisdom. But, what we should not do, friend, is reject God by romanticizing what He has delivered us from. When we do that, we are saying to God that He is not worthy to follow and that He has made a mistake.

Is that what you really mean to say? I hope your answer is no.

So, let’s stop minimizing what He has brought us from, and start maximizing what He is seeing us through, NOW! He is worthy! He is forgiving! He is in control! He is who you need Him to be right now so, cling to Him like never before and rest in Him. And by the way, God never makes mistakes!

What are you thankful for in your present circumstances? I would love to hear from you. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perspective Shift

IMG_0136Ever felt ill-equipped? Feeling like you don’t have the necessary skill, ability or resources to do or be what God has called you to? I have felt it!

Ill-equipped to:

Witness for Christ

Fulfill my purpose

Forgive

Love

Be a wife

Be a mother

Be a friend

1 Chronicles 22 transformed my perspective from feeling ill-equipped to fully equipped.

The desire of David’s heart was to glorify God and equip Solomon, his son, to do likewise.

David labored to provide all the resources and skilled laborers necessary to build the sanctuary.

Solomon had all the resources he needed, yet he became afraid and believed the lie that he was ill-equipped for the calling ahead. In verse thirteen David told him to be strong and courageous and not to fear or be dismayed.

David was encouraging Solomon that although the task seemed daunting he ought not be discouraged for God was with him.

Lean in closer and listen up!

David said, “of the gold, the silver and the bronze and the iron there is no limit. Arise and work, and may the Lord be with you.”  (1 Chronicles 22:16)

Solomon only needed to take the next step and start building.

Y’all!

God has provided us with unlimited provisions to fulfill what He has called us to do or be! We need only tap into the source and get to work.

In Him we are equipped with limitless:

Grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, wisdom, compassion, discernment, Gifts, talents, access to Himself, friendship, help…

Not only is He our help but He places others in our path with special skills to come along side us.

If God calls us to a task, He will equip us. Paul’s own testimony of this is true. “I am sure that God who began the good work in you will keep on working in you until the day Jesus Christ comes again.” (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

Maybe you’re asking yourself how to even begin using the provisions God has set before you.

Verse nineteen answers: “Set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God.”

When you seek the Lord, you will find Him. The same God who called Solomon and equipped him is the same God who calls you. We can trust in God to equip us for our calling because He promises to do so in His word.

Do not be discouraged or dismayed instead be strong and courageous because the Lord is with you.

Let’s transform our perspective from being ill-equipped to fully equipped. The Lord will be glorified through us. Through Jesus we are equipped to witness for Him, fulfill our purpose, forgive, love, and be what others need us to be to them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My God” is also the God of my children

God of my childrenSometimes I have to remind myself that “my God” is also the God of my children. When I pray for them, I tend to offer suggestions to the Lord, as if He is somehow unaware. Then, I remember He is with them when I cannot be. He loves them more than I ever can imagine. He protects them in ways I do not know how. He knows the depth of their hearts.  He knows their coming and going. He hears their prayers.  When they cry out to Him, He answers. He is their friend. They are the apple of His eye. He is their healer and the lover of their souls. He never looks for them because He always knows where they are. So when the overprotective mom in me begins to worry, I remember they have God. Or better stated, God has them.

Is the overprotective mom in you rising up often? Are you in constant fear of your children’s wellbeing? Do you etch in your mind scenarios of your fears coming true?

Me too!

God is aware of our motherly concerns and fears. He is also aware of our tendency to think no one can care and love our children like we do.

I noticed when I worry, I pray in great detail. I fear if I do not cover everything then everything might not be covered by God. I felt the burden to pray through the “ifs”.  If this happens, then I pray…, but if this happens, then I pray…

I am not saying we should not pray in detail. But I am saying we should not pray in detail out of fear God is not going to cover something because we did not.

I appreciate how this quote from “My Utmost for His Highest” devotion put this to rest for me:

“God is my Father, He loves me, and I will never think of anything that He will forget, so why should I worry?”

That is a good question! Why should we worry when we know God is Sovereign? He is in control of all things, knows all things, and sees all things.  Worry does not add life. It takes it away.

The more we understand the character of God, the more we will see His love for our children. After all, He is their creator and knew them before we ever did.

Our children’s frame was not hidden from Him when they were made in the secret place, and when they were woven together in the depths of the earth. His eyes saw their unformed bodies; all the days ordained for them were written in His book before one of them came to be. Psalms 139:15-16 NIV (emphasis added).

God knows our children from the inside out.  We can rest in knowing that whatever they are going through, God is always with them, and He is always good.

So the next time you worry yourself to pieces, turn your worry into peace. Remembering your God is the God of your children. He’s got them!

God gives us instructions on how to wait.

WaitingWhile waiting on the Lord her mind was consumed with numerous questions. Questions such as: How long will I have to wait?  What will the outcome look like? Am I wasting my time waiting? Shouldn’t I be doing something? At that moment she realized she was ringing her hands. Anxiety was now her companion.  Her stress washed over her soul causing weakness, tears, and pain.

Stressing while waiting for the Lord is common for most of us.

  • We stress while waiting for Him to reveal His will as we try to discern what to decide. We toss and turn the pros and cons causing us to become overwhelmed.
  • We stress while waiting for Him to be our avenger. Wondering if we should take things in our own hands not realizing bitterness is slipping in.
  • We stress while waiting for Him to remove us from a situation. We begin focusing on what seems to be impossible and felling trapped.
  • We stress while waiting for Him to move a mountain or part the waters so we can move forward. We begin feeling hopeless and depression sets in.

Do you see something wrong with this picture? We are waiting the wrong way.

God gives us instructions on how to wait for Him.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

While we wait for Him He instructs us to be strong letting our hearts take courage.

How would waiting for the Lord look different, for the woman I mentioned above, if she fully applied this verse?

While waiting on the Lord her mind was consumed with numerous thoughts.  Such as: I will choose to wait on the Lord for however long it takes.  No matter what the outcome looks like God causes all things to work together for good. God’s word does not return void, so I know my waiting will be fruitful. I will be still and know that He is God.  At that moment she realized she was lifting her hands in praise to God. She began recognizing peace was her companion. She was waiting in the Lords strength. Her soul was uplifted with a heart full of courage.

The first story of the women revealed little trust in the Lord. She thought if she was in control then she could control the outcome. The second story of the women revealed her complete trust and confidence in the Lord. She knew that by releasing all control to God the outcome would be blessed.

Which will be your story today? Will Anxiety or peace be your companion? Choose wisely so you may have life. Abundant life.

God’s word breathes life into us when we fully apply it. Stop ringing your hands and start raising them in praise. Your strength comes from God who hears you, sees you, and loves you.

“Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31 NASB

“Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, o my soul!” Psalms 146:1NASB

 

 

He Tested God and So Did I

GideonHave you ever tested God? I know I have, and so did Gideon. Recently, as I was reading the book of Judges, I came upon the story of Gideon.  Because this was such a familiar story, I thought I would skim over it, but God got my attention.  I began seeing myself in the story.  Maybe you can see yourself, too.  See the full story of Gideon (here).

  • He was insecure. I can be insecure.
  • He questioned God by asking, “Why then has all this happened to us?” I have asked God the same question.
  • He was fearful. I am fearful at times.
  • He was hiding from confrontation. I have been one to avoid confrontation.
  • He had doubt. I have doubts at times.
  • He needed to know that he was truly hearing from God. I need to know it is God leading me, not my flesh or others’ opinions.
  • He was weak and did not see himself as God did. I have so many weaknesses that I struggle seeing what God sees in me.

I have to admit that at first, it discouraged me just how much I related to Gideon. But, what I learned from his story really opened my eyes. What God was after was Gideon’s belief in himself and an undivided faith in God.

The struggle was real for Gideon, as it is for you and me.  We battle so much self-doubt, fear, and insecurity, that it takes a process to get to where God wants us to be.

Look back at Gideon’s story:

While he was hiding from the enemy, God saw him as a “valiant warrior” (Judges 6:12). I tend to believe that living in fear of his enemies for seven years paralyzed him from ever seeing himself as God saw him.

Maybe you have a past that has paralyzed you from believing that you could ever be more than the sum of your past.  Don’t you want to be set free from that? I know I do!

I have tested God over and over, wanting to confirm His calling on my life.  Gideon also tested God to see if He would do what He said He would do.  Check out the “fleece test” in Judges 6:36-40.

With each testing of God, Gideon’s confidence grew in himself and in God.  I find this to be true in my life, as well.  But, at some point, we need to make a decision to be all in, or take a seat.

I am encouraged that when Gideon tested God not once, not twice, but four times, God never got mad.  He did not say, “Never mind, you are hopeless”.  He did not lose patience, nor abandon him. God was aware of how Gideon viewed himself. He knew what it was going to take for Gideon to believe in himself, and believe God.

When I read about Gideon’s final test for God, it hit me! It was time for me to stop testing God, and choose to have an undivided faith, instead.

Gideon’s response to his last test drew the line in the sand.  When he overheard the enemies interpreting a dream about how they would fall at the sword of Gideon, he bowed and worshiped God.  See, Gideon was willing to do anything for God, but because of his fears and insecurities, he deemed himself altogether insufficient.  Therefore, he needed confirmation that God was who He said He was, that He could do what He said He could do, and that he could become more than the sum of his past.

God knows exactly what it will take for each of us to believe in ourselves.  It is a process, just like it was for Gideon.

For me, it takes a secure faith (believing God) in God’s calling on my life to hang in there.  Because, when the storms come, and they will, I need my anchor to hold.  Do not give up on the process you are going through to anchor your faith.  God is not giving up on you! God can pass any of our tests with flying colors! But, the greatest test is really on us… will you believe God today?

Keep pressing forward. God sees you, even if you are hiding, and He is calling you to a greater purpose. So, live it, believe it, and own it.