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!

 

 

 

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Secret Walls That Limit Our Faith

Woman praying alone

Does your faith have secret walls?  Hidden limitations you’ve built around your life? For years, I refused to go on a mission trip overseas. I reasoned that God could send someone else, and that it was best for my children if I didn’t go. To be honest, I wanted to go but I was trapped by my fears.  My fears formed a fortified wall around my faith allowing me to go only so far with God. When I considered what was on the other side of the wall, I imagined horrible outcomes: Sickness, not being allowed back in country, orphaning my children, or not being with them if they needed me. The enemy had me right where he wanted me. Faithless. Ashamed. Controlled. Ineffective.

I imagine you have your own reasoning for your faith walls.

Maybe God has prompted you to witness to someone, but you felt inadequate, and decided to wait for another day.

Maybe God wants you to begin a new ministry, but you are insecure about your ability and decide to bury the dream.

Maybe someone you know suffers from a chronic illness, and because you haven’t seen improvement you doubt healing and your prayers have tapered off.

Maybe you have faith that God loves, forgives, or has plans for everyone else, but cannot believe those truths for yourself.

It is those feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, doubt, and a lack of self-worth that limit our faith.

God is not the creator of those limits. We are.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7) However, we choose to thwart that power and discipline when we allow our flesh to override God’s desires for us. Our hope and belief can waver when things seem impossible. The enemy plants the lie and waters it with doubt: Will God really make good on His promises to me?

Consider the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. This is an historic account of real men and women who struggled with their faith, but chose to knock down their walls of inadequacy, insecurity, doubt, and fear. When they did, God showed up in huge ways and made good on His promises!

I remember the day God broke down the fortified wall that had kept me from traveling on mission. God was prompting my heart to travel to South Asia with my husband, leaving my boys behind. As I was praying and asking God to help me take this step of faith, He simply stilled me with His love and spoke into my soul:

Jodi, you will never receive the abundance of life I have designed specifically for you if you continue to live in fear. I have plans to use you for My Kingdom. You may have given birth to your children but I created them and I love them more than you could ever dream! You can trust Me with them. Do you trust Me? Yes Lord, I trust You! I trust You for what I cannot see on the other side of my wall.

I went and I was effective! I was no longer faithless or controlled by the enemy’s lies.  But, I must be honest and tell you I prayed A LOT. However, the more I prayed, the more He strengthened my faith in His faithfulness. Peace ruled instead of fear. There was freedom on the other side of my faith wall. The enemy no longer had me where he wanted me. Instead, God had me right where He wanted me – trusting in Him.

Do you fear what’s on the other side of your wall? You don’t have to! There’s really nothing to fear when you trust God for the outcome. He will cause all things to work together for good if we let Him.

Secret walls limit our faith. Ask God to help you push down your wall so your faith can be without borders. It’s the life you were purposed to live … LIVE IT!

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

I See You, But Do You See ME?

i-see-you-but-can-you-see-meHave you ever had life circumstances hit you hard? I have. A while back I was blindsided by some circumstances causing me to become emotionally unstable, stressed, and weary. My thoughts were confusing and irrational. The more I tried to think clearly, the more deeply I fell into despair. I prayed, journaled, spoke with others, cried, and exercised hoping for a reprieve. I believed Isaiah 26:3 to be true so I pressed in and rolled the words over and over in my mind, “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.” But instead, my thoughts were inconsistent. I felt like my world was falling apart.

Can you relate?

Have you ever been desperate for God to speak, “Peace, be still,” so that your circumstances would miraculously change for the better?

During one of those trying days, God used a simple penny and a song to speak peace into my soul. He may not have spoken audibly but I heard Him loud and clear.

I made a trip to the store and prayed before I got out of my car, “Lord, speak. Help me.” I had hoped to make it in and out of the store without anyone seeing or speaking to me. As I pushed my cart along the side of my car a penny on the ground caught my attention. (Side note: The inscription on pennies, “In God We Trust,” reminds me to trust God. I always keep them as a reminder.) As I looked at the penny it was as if God said, “I see you, but do you see ME? I did not want to be honest with God but I was and told Him “No.” I was blinded by my circumstances, emotions, and confusion. I asked Him to open my eyes and mind to be able to see Him. After loading my purchase in the car, I got in and the radio was playing, “Just Be Held,” by Casting Crowns. Here are a few of the lyrics that spoke to me:

Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place…

If your eyes are on the storm

You’ll wonder if I love you still

But if your eyes are on the cross

You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted

In time, you’ll understand

I’m painting beauty with the ashes

Your life is in My hands

Lift your hands, lift your eyes

In the storm is where you’ll find Me

And where you are, I’ll hold your heart

I’ll hold your heart

Come to Me, find your rest

In the arms of the God who won’t let go

This experience opened my eyes to see Him. To see that He was with me. To see He was in control. To see He was working my brokenness into something useful. To see He is holy and still on the throne. I began sobbing because I felt God’s love and His presence.

I was doing what had brought peace to me in the past: praying, journaling, seeking counsel and exercising. I was trying to trust God with words but not with heart.

When we completely trust in God with ALL our heart, He exchanges our unrest for peace. As I fully abandoned to God my self-reliance, expectations, control, and grip on my circumstances He graced me with peace; A peace that immediately calmed my storm. Though my circumstances did not change, I changed. And because I changed, I can now walk in Isaiah 26:3.

Because I trust in You God, You will keep my mind in perfect peace. (my paraphrase)

Do you see God? He sees you.

Ask God to speak, and then listen and look for Him in the simple things. He is there!

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)

 

 

 

 

It’s Okay To Be Perfectly Imperfect

fullsizerenderAre you familiar with the “mannequin challenge” shared throughout social media? When the word is said, everyone freezes in their position capturing the moment in mid-stream. This caused me to reflect on my challenge during a high school elective class where I had the opportunity to work as a real-life mannequin. During an open house event, I was challenged to mirror a department store mannequin marketing retail clothing. As I stepped onto the platform I stepped into someone I was not. Perfect. Flawless. Perfectly put together.  I took my place ready to appear fake, holding a plastic smile as if life was without trouble. Many attempted to break my polished pose by cracking jokes, poking me, or waiting to catch me blink. But, if my memory serves me, I fooled them all. (Insert smirking grin here.)

Have you ever tried being someone you’re not?

Is your exterior perfect, when inside you are undone?

Do you try and convince others you have everything together when you’re dying inside?

We protect ourselves from being real and raw, so we won’t get hurt. We convince ourselves that if people knew the real us, they would mock us, reject us, or condemningly judge us.

John 4:1-42 tells a story of a Samaritan woman, also known to us as the “woman at the well.” She too tried to avoid exposing her real self, but Jesus saw through her. On the outside, she was put together, strong, and confident. But on the inside she was a mess, lonely, broken, and lost.

As this woman engaged in conversation with Jesus he did not condemn her. He did not walk away. He did not discard her. He engaged with her because He could see through her mess, pain, and brokenness.  He saw potential, beauty, purpose, and a heart that longed to be loved; truly loved in a way only He could fulfill.

My favorite part of her story is what happened once she stopped trying to be someone she was not. God used her to win her town for Christ! She was so free from the bondage of her own making that her image of perfection on the outside was no longer needed. She now had everything she ever needed, Christ Himself.

The day I posed as a mannequin I learned a few life lessons:

  • Being fake does not invite people in, but pushes them away.
  • People know when you are fake.
  • It’s exhausting trying to be someone you’re not!
  • It bears no good fruit.
  • Loneliness becomes your only companion.

God designed us for relationship. Authentic relationship. We need friends that don’t have it all together and that share in similar life struggles. We need perfectly imperfect relationships, so we can be who we are. Flawed. Broken. Crazy. Dorky. Weepy. Funny. Scared. Needy. Perfection was only meant to be achieved by one person, Jesus. So, let’s authenticate our smile, breathe a little deeper, accept we need one another, and step off the platform into our perfectly imperfect selves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Ways To Help Your Man Be The Leader You Desire

I recently wrote an article for a friend of mine, Bobi Ann Allen. She is a Pastor’s wife and ministry leader that loves Jesus wholeheartedly. Her joy for the Lord is contagious and I am blessed to call her friend. I love her and you will too!

I am honored to share with her some of my experiences in life and marriage.

Check out the article, “5 Ways To Help Your Man Be The Leader You Desire,” on her site, BobiAnn.com.

What To Do When You’re Falling Apart

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I’ve known Christ as my Savior for thirty years and I’ve learned I’m not immune to falling apart, losing hope, and being trapped in my despair. I’ve also learned that God is patient and faithful to repair my brokenness. During my teenage years, I lost my mom to breast cancer. A year and a half before her death I asked God to save me and began a relationship with Him. However, I grew tremendously angry at God when she died. I was tossed around by my emotions and became battered by my unhealthy decisions. I began falling apart because I chose not to be anchored by God’s love, promises, or plans any longer. I was so blinded by my anger I kept drifting farther away from God. I simply did not believe Him nor trust Him for His promises. I desperately needed some sort of hope in the midst of my despair, but everything I attempted to anchor to let me down. God was patient with me for four years of my mess. It wasn’t until I gave up trying to live life without Him that He came rushing in to restore me. As I recognized He was willing to let me start over and put the pieces back together, I found He was gently covering me with His grace, mercy, and restored hope. Hope in a God I belonged to and could trust even when things did not feel good or make sense.

Have you found yourself falling apart lately?

Maybe you are losing your cool with your kids, husband, coworker…

Maybe you are receiving one bad diagnosis after another and you can’t handle another ounce of bad news.

Maybe your anxiety attacks are impacting your way of life like never before.

Maybe you have lost a loved one recently or long ago and you desperately miss them causing sleepless nights…

Whatever is causing you to fall apart I want you to know there is hope in your despair!

In Acts 27 the apostle Paul is a prisoner being transported by ship to Rome.  During the journey, they encounter a fierce storm causing fear and panic. On a couple of occasions, they lowered anchors which are meant to dig into the sea bottom to keep the vessel from drifting. To no avail, their ship was battered and falling apart by the raging waves and wind. However, Paul was encouraged and at peace in the midst of the storm. Verses 22-26 gives us insight as to why he was:

22 Now I urge you to take courage, because there will be no loss of any of your lives, but only of the ship. 23 For this night an angel of the God I belong to and serve stood by me, 24 and said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul. You must stand before Caesar. And, look! God has graciously given you all those who are sailing with you.’25 Therefore, take courage, men, because I believe God that it will be just the way it was told to me. 26 However, we must run aground on a certain island.”

Paul was anchored to believing God for His promises and plans even during this time of being battered by the waves, tossed around by the wind, and navigationally disoriented. If he had not been confident in God, he would have fallen apart like the other 276 on board and like us at times.

God had a plan and purpose in allowing Paul to travel in the midst of the storm. God used him to demonstrate faith and trust in the God he belonged to so that others may be saved and for God to be magnified. Paul showed them that they too could have hope in the midst of their despair if they would anchor themselves in God. Though their sails were torn, their ship was battered, and they had wandered off course, God had them completely in His grasp.

In whatever way you are falling apart, God just may be in the midst of it. Pause and see what you are anchored to. If it is anything other than God, His word, His promises, His ways, or His authority, pull up anchor and cast it onto Him. He is your stay. He will help you navigate through your brokenness and your storm.

If I had known as a teenager that God was indeed working out His promise and that I could trust Him, I would not have drifted so far from Him. But, because of that horrific storm in my life, I now know that I can believe God and trust Him for who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do. So when I fall apart and begin losing hope I know to evaluate where and what I am anchored to. God is gracious to allow you and me do-overs and second chances. Without that, I would have sunk a long time ago. Praise God for His longsuffering and permanent love for you and me.