My God Who Provides

Bless the Lord Oh my soul. Let all that is within me bless His holy name. (Psalm 103:1)

There’s something about praise that settles my soul. Especially at the moment when you realize that the edge of the desert is in sight. That you actually see a waterfall. That what you waited for all your life might not be right in front of you. But it might be a fraction of the puzzle piece. And it’s something. And you can’t help but feel some sort of joy spread through your heart.

Something happened yesterday that nearly blew my mind and at this moment I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness. Of His mercy. Of His goodness and powerful nature. Of how awesome He truly is.

Not only has He heard my cry, but He answered me with His provision.
He is so awesome like that.

Today, I want to remind my heart to never forget the lessons I learned in the desert. I want to remind you too that when we’re in deserts, God shapes us in ways that sometimes seem so painful, but they’re painful just because He’s chipping away at anything that’s left of our old selves. He wants to make us NEW.  In the midst of these deserts, we throw ourselves completely on God’s mercy and faithfulness. Because we can’t provide for ourselves. Because we can’t see the outcomes. And the ones we form in our head crush our spirits.

Please know, having faith in Him in your trial is worth it. It doesn’t matter how painful or uncertain. HE IS WORKING AND MOVING IN YOUR LIFE.

It sounds a little silly to say this, but my life is literally proof of this.

I thought that I was honestly not worth it to anyone to get a full time job and yet the Lord opened doors I could never have opened myself this past week to provide one.

I feel baffled and overwhelmed and grateful and uncertain and slightly scared all at once.

When you face a desert, I hope you know He is working on providing for you. He is working on making you into a person who trusts Him. A person who is fully dependent on Him and who finds their greatest treasure in Him and not in anything else. Not even the gifts He gives.

Never lose faith in deserts. Never doubt Him.

He is the God who does impossible things. He is mighty. He is awesome. There is honestly no God like the Lord.

He provided for so many people throughout the ages who desperately needed Him. And He will provide for you. Believe it in the dark when there are no answers and everything points to the “fact” that it won’t ever work out.

God’s wisdom is mind blowing. I’m convinced we won’t ever be able to grasp a fraction of it while we’re here on earth, but please hear me out on this.

If you’re wading through a desperate season right now, please have HOPE. Cling to it. Declare the Lord’s promises over your life. You are loved. You are called by God if you are in Christ. You are God’s child. His workmanship. He has called you to walk in light. To have an inheritance. He has lavished a love on you that you can’t even begin to grasp in this life.

The abundance of His love spills and pours out over every broken area. And nothing can separate you from His love. Not this trial. Not your enemies. Or your critics. Or a tough job and a difficult boss or cruel and rude people that invade your peace and strip away your confidence and self-esteem. Because the whole point is to lose your self anyway. To find it in Him. To find all the joy you ever searched for in the arms of the God who created you and designed this world and the Universe and the God who thought up atoms and photosynthesis and asteroids and planets and tigers and chameleons is the God who is working on your behalf.

He is for you. He fights for you and strengthens you in the fight.
This desert won’t last forever. He will bring you out.

Have hope. Take heart. Oh it’s so worth it to wait on the Lord.

 

 

 

Expectant

A girl holds her breath.

Waiting for the interview results. Test results. Waiting to hear back from a phone call. Anticipation climbs. Clenching her fists, she pushes through another day. Doubts slide in at the places she wasn’t ready to shield.

She curls into herself. Praying. Despair slicing her heart. Memories of failed hopes taunt. Like nightmares. She clings to the past. She knows it all by heart. On replay – what hopelessness feels like. How it’s a rock on a mountain she clutched only to give way, propelling her in a free fall.

Is she bruised now? Doesn’t she want to give up? Hope is only easy to throw off when it’s not sourced in something or Someone unshakeable. A solid foundation in the cascade of unmet expectation. Failure. Disappointment. Doubt.

I’m convinced that hope is something that our hearts were made for, because it fills us. We’re all empty and lifeless, and maybe so torn down from the fall out of disappointment. But we all still reach, don’t we?

Lowering our expectations won’t satisfy us faster. Maybe it’ll satiate some temporary ache, but when we rush into something, casting aside our hope for the “better” God wants us to wait for, aren’t we de-valuing ourselves? Aren’t we plugging our ears and deliberately blinding ourselves to how God made us?

As men and women with needs and wants and desires. People who desperately crave hope.

Today, I want to remind myself and you that the journey to glory is through suffering. But in pain and suffering that “We have this hope as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Heb. 6:19), based on Jesus’ propitiation and God’s unchanging character that we have the hope of intercession and redemption: the hope of life.

Let’s raise, not lower our expectations this year. Of what God can do in you and I. What He is doing regardless of what we do. How awesome to be a part of that?

He calls us to lift up our heads. Not lower our heads to look at our circumstances. He calls us to fullness of joy. Not the emptiness of the world’s love and desire and it’s promises that only carve a larger hole in your heart. The void of love echoes in our world. Will you address it? Will you seek to change it? Will you step up and be brave?

Will you let God work in you as He points you to hope?

Psalm 62:5-6

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence. For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

 

 

Dreams, A Hebrew Slave & God’s Sovereignty

I’ve been reading through Genesis lately.

A story I’ve been familiar with all of my life has stuck with me as I’ve been walking through these uncertain days. Of all this waiting. Wading in the uncertainty. Grappling with the questions. And struggling with what to do with the dreams that feel like they’ve been put on hold.

Joseph grew up with twelve older brothers. Being the youngest, Joseph struggled with his identity. His parents favored him, which of course strained his relationship with his brothers. As it would in any other family.

What really gets me about Joseph’s story is the dreams. And his unique ability to interpret them. I find it astonishing initially to read about how he interprets these obscure scenarios into specific future events. He was basically given a God-given talent, but flaunted it in front of his family to hopefully gain some sense of security.

He was Joseph the dream-interpreter, after all.

We know the story. What he got in return was a torn coat, a complete loss of freedom, and eventually two years in prison.

The whole time, the Lord worked in and through Joseph’s life in ways unimaginable to him surely before he was forced into a foreign land, living among a pagan people in a culture so different from his own.

Could this even be a place Joseph could use his talent? Had the Lord forgotten him completely? How could being a slave be a part of God’s plan for his life? Especially after all he thought God had been trying to tell him through his dreams?

I wonder if Joseph wrestled with doubt each night. If he cried himself to sleep over the loneliness and abandonment that he felt. I wonder if the hatred ate at him, if the bitterness was too much to bear if he felt like he couldn’t sink lower than that pit his brothers had thrown him into. And yet after Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of sleeping with her, he faces another two years of a prison sentence wondering if God had forgotten him completely. If he would waste away and die there.

And then God provided him another opportunity. He led a few men to ask him to interpret their dreams. He eventually paved the way for Joseph to interpret Pharoah’s dream. And of course Joseph becomes his right hand man.

Joseph suffered in Egypt. He waited for years without answers. And the opportunities opened when God wanted them to open and when they happened Joseph gave all the glory to God.

I want to be faithful like Joseph. Through false accusations and jail sentences and seasons that just feel so dry and empty and lonely. I want to be a reflection of God to those around me. That not even a pagan culture could deny. I love that the Bible specifically states that people could tell that the Lord was with Joseph.

That is the most beautiful part of Joseph’s story. How God changed Joseph from a haughty, insecure young man to a humble, secure man confident in the Lord’s interpretation and the Lord’s Sovereignty. His refusal to cultivate doubt in his pain is something so beautiful. Even before we get to the part where he is faced with his brothers. Even before he ever sees his loved ones again, Joseph is changed completely by God, and his wrongs weren’t made right and the pain surely didn’t go away and the loneliness persisted, but God was so faithful in providing for Joseph and changing Joseph into the man and the vessel that he wanted him to become.

 

Jesus. Critics. & Mondays

Mondays for me are quite unlike Mondays for the rest of the world.

I have most Mondays off work, so I treat them like Saturdays. This Monday I’m spending trying to accomplish everything that I’ve forsaken in the mad rush I’ve dashed through this past week.

This past week I’ve dealt with a lot of difficult situations. Working in retail can drive a person insane sometimes. Other times it turns into something worthwhile and meaningful.

I met Theresa this past week. She had a pile of dresses to try on in the fitting room and she wanted my advice on how everything fit. She thanked me graciously upon deciding to purchase a chic maroon V-neck Dolan dress. These dresses are phenomenal I’m coming to realize. Every woman falls in love with them once she tries one on. And somehow, it’s more meaningful when the customer is an extraordinary person who makes the effort to make friends with you.

Regardless of how annoyed I get at all of the entitleds, I’m realizing that it comes with the territory. They’re not all angelic or demonic. They’re just people. With similar struggles I deal with and situations that may spiral out of their control, similar to mine.

We all deal with adversity differently. Call it what you want: suffering, pain, tribulation.

I’ve only skimmed the surface at twenty-something, but I’m realizing that when people storm through our store, castigating us with their cruel words, demanding and ordering us to style their wardrobes for them, they too have suffering and pain and insecurity and pride clinging to their hearts.

Compassion always seemed so understandable when I was younger. It made sense. Of course you need to give that person without money some water or a few dollars to buy some food. Yes, you should go up and talk with the girl that is all alone in the room. Of course.

But showing compassion to rude people isn’t only one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, it feels almost completely impossible. Not only do they feign as though they wield power over me through their heartless words and actions, but I let them. They order me around and point out my flaws and cut to my weakness. And I let it eat at my heart. At my joy. At my confidence.

But nothing can separate me from the confidence I have in Christ Jesus. That is where I’m struggling today. I know that critical words and rude actions have no power over me in Christ, but lately I’ve been living as though those people dictate my life. And my joy.

People are lousy gods. But even more – when we allow ourselves to be dictated by others’ approval, we sink into discontentment. Because we can never measure up to them. We can never completely win the approval of anyone. No matter how hard we strive for perfection. There will always be something about us that falls short.

If anything, I want to remind you today that yes, you are going to have critics in your life. And trials. There are going to be waves in this world that will beat you back and tear down your determination to move forward. But you’ve got to move forward. I’ve got to, too.

Jesus came so we didn’t have to strive…He came so we could be set free from trying to live up to God’s standards. He already knows that we fall short. But when we come to Him, He comes and changes us. Offers us His perfect character. Right now I’m realizing I need to stop striving so much and forgetting who I am. I belong to Jesus. It doesn’t matter if my life makes no sense. If I’m struggling financially and relationally. It doesn’t matter if people tear me apart. Don’t trust me. Don’t believe in me. There are always going to be people like that.

Today, I hope you remember that if you know Christ, that you don’t have to strive for perfection. Measuring up to our own high standards or others’ high standards is so burdensome. It’s like dragging a weight around each day. I’ve felt it. But right here, I’m giving it over to Jesus. Because He promises to carry burdens we can’t carry. And He fulfills God’s righteous requirement. He came to give us abundant life. Not an easy one. But a dependent one.

Maybe the path you’re walking is really dark today.. Please know that Jesus came to save you. He’s right there with you. And He won’t ever let go of you. It doesn’t matter the pressure. Give it to Him. He will carry it and you and won’t ever let go of you.