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

 

 

GO FORWARD!

God is doing a new thing 3For years, I have had aspirations for a specific dream. I often pursued it but my insecurities, doubts, and fears would wrap around me, hindering any movement forward. I have asked myself many times: Is it just the glamorous idea of it that keeps me holding on to it? Or is it something that God wants me to move forward with? I did not know the answer.

Can you relate? Maybe you have aspirations to open your home for foster care, start your own business, become a stay- at- home mom, or start a new friendship…  Are you uncertain if this is a leading from God or just a dreamy idea?

I find the uncertainty to be exhausting.

I was tired of holding onto a dream that goes nowhere.

I was ready for it to die or take on a new life.

I needed affirmation for my aspiration. So I began praying with a willingness to surrender my dream to God.  A willingness to let it die.  As I was praying, I heard the birds chirping outside.  I opened the back door of the house and the outdoors beckoned me. The sky was painted baby blue. The breeze was gentle with a relaxing warmth. The empty chair on the back deck was inviting, so I gave in and took my journal and bible with me.  Of course, I had a cup of coffee too. 😉

As I settled in my chair and soaked in the atmosphere, I opened my bible and asked God to use His word for clarity. I asked Him to speak and He did.

On this particular day, I picked up reading where I’d left off the previous day in Exodus 14,0].

Up to this point in the book of Exodus, the Israelites had lived in Egypt for 430 years and for many of those years they were slaves.  They were now under the authority of the Egyptian Pharaoh, who had a hardened heart. God sent Moses to speak with Pharaoh to request that His people, the Israelites, be set free. It was not until the last plague God sent that Pharaoh let the Israelites free.  You can read about the plagues here.  As nearly a million of them fled, Pharaoh had a change of heart and pursued them with his army and hundreds of chariots.  They came upon them near the Red Sea. “As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord.” Exodus 14:10

This is where it gets real.  God’s about to do the inconceivable!

“But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever.  The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.  Then the LORD said to Moses, why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to GO FORWARD.  As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.” (Exodus 14:13-16 NASB)

God was speaking to me through this passage.  He did not want me to stand by and keep silent.

He spoke as if a voice behind my ears (Isaiah30:21) GO FORWARD! Stop being lukewarm and pursue your dream with a hot passion! When you GO FORWARD, I will part the waters and make your path clear.

“Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth, will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)

I received my answer! My dream had new life breathed into it! (Now I need to Go FOWARD because God said, “GO FORWARD!”, and I can trust Him to equip me and make a way.)

Do you find the uncertainty exhausting? Lay your aspirations before God and find peace as He reveals a confirmation either way.  He may just be waiting for you to GO FORWARD so He can part the waters.

 

 

 

 

 

He Has A Big Ear

Psalm 116I stood before her in awe; paralyzed by what I was seeing. Her face was full of affliction, as tears streamed down her cheeks. She poured her heart out in prayer, seeking for answers, peace and a sense of release.  She would lean over and whisper in the ear of her god and straighten as if to gasp for air before leaning over again. Her god was an animal statue made from man’s hand; an idol with ears that could not hear, eyes that could not see, and feet that could not walk. One that could not offer her true peace.

My heart breaks for people that do not know the Living God I know.

“Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.  I, even I, am the LORD, and there is no savior beside Me.” (Isaiah 43:10b-11)

He is the creator of ALL things.  And to know Him is to know His Son Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

It brings me great comfort and peace to know that God hears me when I pray (communicate).

One of my favorite scriptures to reflect on comes from Psalm 116:1-2

“I love the Lord because He hears
my voice and my supplications.
 Because He has inclined His ear to me,
therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.”

It demonstrates that when we talk with God, He hears and listens to every word we speak.

In turn, He asks us to incline our ear towards Him. Isaiah 55:3a says:  “Incline your ear and come to Me.  Listen, that you may live…”

God also desires us to incline our heart toward Him. Joshua 24:23 says: “Now, therefore, put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”

To incline our heart towards God, we must put away the idols in our lives.

I want to share with you what Kelly Minter says so well about idols in her book, No Other Gods: Confronting our modern-day idols.

“Most of us think of an idol as a statue of wood, stone, or metal worshiped by pagan people…In biblical terms, it is something other than God that we set our heart on (Luke 12:29, 1 Cor. 10:19), that motivates us (1 Cor. 4:5), that masters and rules us (Ps. 119:133, Eph. 5:5), or that we trust, fear, or serve (Isa. 42:17, Matt 6:24, Luke 12:4-5). …An idol can also be referred to as a “false god” or a “functional god.”

So, my friend, an idol is not limited to objects like I mentioned at the beginning, where a woman was praying to a statue. It is anything that consumes us and takes our hearts away from God.

If not God, what or whom are you setting your heart on for answers, peace or a since of release? Let go and let God be first place in your heart, and seek Him for all you need and desire.  Tell Him anything you want.  He has a BIG EAR, and He can handle every word you share with Him. 😉

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deut. 6:5)

“For the Lord your God is the God of gods…” (Deut. 10:17). AMEN!