Trusting The Lord To Have His Way Is Hard

amelia-bartlett-Country Rd“Have Your way Lord,” were the words I ended my prayer with as I rocked in my white rocking chair under the shade of my front porch. I was struggling with a direction God was leading me to take. I too often wrestle with God’s ways, and it is easy for me to question Him when the path He has for me seems difficult. Saying those four words at the end of my conversation with Him takes trusting Him.

Inner peace reigns within my soul when I willingly yield to His ways though.

It’s a serenity only the Peace-Giver can give.

We struggle with holding onto such serenity because the distractions that set us off track cause us to become frustrated, tired, and lose focus.

Maybe you try to have a quiet time with the Lord and your kids wake up at unpredicted times of the morning or, their naps are cut short.

Maybe you are on track with having God’s perspective at top of mind, and then a family member, friend, or co-worker’s actions rattle you. Your flesh takes over with a worldly perspective.

Maybe you’re headed to the doctor with a loved one with great confidence in the Lord to provide good news. As you listen to the prognosis, they are told that their quality of life will be changed from now on, and there is no hope in sight that things will get any better.

Alone time with the Lord, having God’s perspective, and confidence in Him offers inner peace. But let’s be honest and admit it is not easy to hold onto such serenity.

It takes intentionality to activate and maintain the peace already within us.

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27 NASB)

As we experience the downs of life we must get back up again. We must refocus on what is true. We must strive to seek peace.

We must because this world will always try to detour our focus away from God and onto the struggle.

Knowing this means that we must willfully practice the truth we know.

We know that prayer is the instrument that draws us near to God. Having conversations with Him connect us to His heart. We learn to trust Him, love Him, and know Him better. He uses our prayers to exchange chaos for peace.

Sunflowers

Prayer=Peace

The aches that anxiety, fear, and worry create within us take root when we doubt God’s goodness, lose trust in Him, or rely on our own strength. Our troubles and concerns may not go away when we pray, but God has assured us that we can have peace as we trust Him to have His way.

Though His ways are not our ways and our ways are not His ways, God knows what He is doing, and He knows why He is doing it, Isaiah 55:8-9.

I admit that I don’t always understand His ways. It even frustrates me and grieves me at times. But when it is all said and done, I can trust that God is still good. I can trust that He knows best. I can have faith in a faithful God.

I know that when I pray with all my heart, trust Him for His promises, and praise Him for who He is, the peace He has already given me becomes prominent. So, with little hesitation I pray, “Have Your way Lord.”

Friend, be intentional and let that be your testimony as well.

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I Almost Slipped into Ungodliness

Woman on bench at chapel“My feet came close to stumbling. My steps had almost slipped into ungodliness.” Psalm 73:2

I found myself battling once again on the battle field of my mind. It reminded me afresh of my fleshly tendencies. This time my thoughts began with defending myself if the occasion should arise to have a real dialogue with a person or two. I crafted a reasonable conversation within my mind thinking I settled it.

However, it wasn’t enough. I needed to bring more passion to the conversation within my mind standing firm in my justification of my position. Once again, it wasn’t enough.

Oh, my goodness how I should have stopped myself sooner because I scratched those two drafts and started a brash one that would mow down anything standing in my way.

My thoughts became unharnessed and were not led by the Spirit.

It wasn’t until I came to God, completely undone this time, that I realized I had drawn away from Him. I became consumed day after day with the battle of what I wanted to say out loud, but was not able to. My fleshy desires placed a void between me and God.

I found that Psalm 73:21-22 put my experience into harsh, but accurate words.

“When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant, I was like a beast before You.”

Have you drawn away from the Lord with just one thought that led to your complete senselessness?

Maybe your thoughts of defending yourself led to bitterness in your heart.

Maybe your thoughts of walking away from a situation created a hardness in your soul.

Maybe your thoughts of becoming self-sufficient led to isolation.

Nonetheless, if you are in Christ He is still there to help you. God won’t leave you alone in your beastly mess. You only need to recognize He hasn’t left. He is waiting to take you by the hand to help you have victory on the battle field of your mind.

There is a Psalm of Asaph that conveys a truth about God and ourselves that reminds us of this truth.

“Nevertheless, I am continually with You. You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward, receive me to glory (or with honor). Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 74:23-26)

No matter what kind of mess you may be in God is with you. He will guide you through your pitfalls of life, and will not let you go. Open your heart and mind to God! His plan for you is to have a steadfast peace as you fix your thoughts on Him.  If we look and focus in any other direction we will become senseless and our hearts will fail us.

Maybe your feet have come close to stumbling and your steps have almost slipped into ungodliness like mine almost did, Psalm 73:2. If so I implore you to STOP crafting those conversations within your mind and go before the Lord. He will guide you to victory. God will strengthen your heart like He has mine. Consider lifting your right hand up even now asking God to take hold of you and of your thoughts.

Don’t give up! The battle may be intense, but our God is greater than any enemy you are battling right now. It does not matter if the battle is taking place within or from outside, God is able to overpower all opposition to Him.

The nearness of God is good and when you receive peace, and newness of mind then tell of God’s great work so others may seek Him for refuge, help, and hope, Psalm 73:28. I just did, and would love to hear from you when you experience how good and refreshing God’s nearness is.

Blessings,

Jodi

 

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!

 

 

 

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!

I Was Not Honest With God

listening-to-music-relaxing-meadow

Can you recall a time you were ministered to through song? Maybe it led you into deeper intimacy with God, brought joy to a sad season, caused praise to be on your lips as opposed to grumbling, or reminded you that you’re not alone. Maybe only a phrase of it jumped into your heart causing an impact in your moment.

It is not uncommon for God to use songs to refine my walk with Him. On one particular day while driving around, running errands, Francesca Battistelli’s song, “If We’re Honest” came on the radio. One part of her song resonated with me, “Mercy is waiting on the other side if we are honest.” It was as if God was saying, “Jodi, you have not been completely honest with ME and that is why you are struggling to find MY peace.” I wanted to slam on the brakes! I had recently brought Him several weighty concerns. I wanted to defend myself before God and remind Him of my surrender of them. However, as I searched my heart and re-evaluated my actions it became clear. I managed to withhold just enough from Him so I could still have some control, some say so, and some influence on my outcome.

What was I thinking?

Why was I not trusting God with it all?

How about you? Do you struggle to surrender to God?

I am aware that for some the word surrender does not set well. I mean who wants to tap out and give up? But with the proper perspective, surrender is a worship word. When we are willing to let go of anything that hinders our relationship with God, allowing Him to be Lord of our lives, we are demonstrating God is God and we are not.

Jesus implores us to release our everything to Him. Consider the following scriptures:

“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NKJV)

We have permission to reassign responsibility on God for all the details, all our worries, and the outcome of it all.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NKJV)

When we fully surrender to Him we are grafted into His plans and His ways and can do anything through Him.

“…Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34 NKJV)

Why would we not want to deny ourselves of worry, anxiety, confusion, despair…? Perhaps we cannot see the mercy He will give us on the other side. Mercy that gently loves us, covers us and restores us to Himself. Or perhaps it is because we lack faith in a trustworthy God.

As I considered what God revealed to me about not being honest with Him, I repented seeking His forgiveness. Why, might you ask? Because I was indeed telling Him that I could not trust Him with my concerns and I was trying to be god and lord of my circumstances. Immediately upon my repentance, God provided a peace I cannot explain and the fruit of my obedience was more than I deserved. Over those next few days, God’s mercy and grace walked me through a trying time of medical test, surgery, and recovery that apart from Him I would have been a hot mess.

To be honest with you surrendering to God is easier said than done, and I fail at it way too often. However, it is a necessary action if we truly want to walk in obedience allowing Him to be Lord and authority in our lives. The next time you hear your favorite song played, ask God to allow it to fall afresh on your ears. He may use it to impact your moment like never before.

What do you need to be honest with God about today? Mercy is just on the other side!

For fun, I have broken the word surrender down so we can remember the blessing behind the action.

Submit

Unleash

Release                                     The Action of Surrender

Reassign

Emptying


Newness

Dependence                            The Promise of Surrender

Entering

Rest

“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