The Sky is Not the Limit!

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     Do you remember what you dreamed of becoming when you were five or six?  Most of us probably remember saying things like a fireman, teacher, police officer, or doctor. How simple our dreams were back then.   Can you remember the excitement you felt when somebody actually took the time to even ask you what you wanted to become?  How easy it was to believe that you could become anything you wanted!  What are you believing for yourself now?  Do you sense a restlessness in your present job or in your present circumstances?  Do you feel as if you can hardly breathe in your present situation?  Have you been begging God for a change, only to find yourself drowning in frustration and disappointment?  If you find yourself agreeing with these questions, know that God knows just where you are.   You may feel as if He has forgotten you.  You may see others with the very thing you dream about.  Yet, you continue to find yourself in a “see nothing”season.   

     Two weeks ago I had a dream about a friend.  It was quite vivid.  This person has experienced some frustration in her life over a prolonged period of time.  While many of her friends have married and had kids, she has remained single, despite a desire for a husband.  I can remember so many conversation where she shared the longing in her heart.  To add to the frustration, many people have asked why she’s not married.  Ugh, that’s got to be the ultimate slap in the face. 

    Well, back to the dream.  My friend owns a home, yet in my dream, I saw her in a new home.  “Wow!” I thought.  “A new house—I wonder when that’s going to happen!”  I tucked that thought away until I got a call from her today.  We chatted about the usual day to day activities and then I remembered my dream. 

    “Hey, I had a dream about you two weeks ago,” I said excitedly.

     “What about?” she asked.  I went on to explain the new home I saw her in and she made quite a surprising comment.  I thought she was going to tell me she had been thinking about buying a new house.  That was not the case.

   “Oh,”she said confidently, “I just had a conversation with another friend yesterday about things I had been struggling with.  I told her I was living in a new place.  Not anything physical.  I was now seeing things from a different perspective.  I finally have God’s view now.”

    I was reminded that dreams aren’t always about the physical things we see while sleeping.  We need to ask God what those things mean.  Not only was my friend encouraged, but I was encouraged that God was talking to me as well.  The conversation lasted about ten minutes, but it had eternal value!  Just another simple moment.    What are you believing God for?  The thing you seek might not be the heart of the matter.  Maybe God wants you and me to draw nearer and find His perspective.  Let’s not look around for a change.  Let’s look up!

Waiting on God

Hear and Now

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     It’s Sunday evening and I’m wondering what God wants me to write about tonight.  I had no intention of writing tonight, but I have so many mixed emotions right now.  You see, I have a friend who is facing a tremendous mountain.  I’ve walked with her for a few weeks now and have been encouraging her along the way.  But quite honestly, unless God moves on her behalf, there is no way things will change. 

     I feel helpless.   I know it’s not about me, but while I’m lifting her up in prayer, I realize my own faith is being tested.  I wonder how I would handle the situation.  Would I question God?  Probably, I’d wonder, “Where are You?  I’ve tried everything I know to do and nothing is working!  Don’t You see my situation?  I can’t sleep at night.  I sit here all alone, wondering when you’re going to move.  What’s taking You so long? 

     I’m sure you’ve been there before.  Don’t you remember when you felt like God had abandoned you?  Don’t you remember what it was like when everybody around you seemed like their prayers were being answered?  So many good reports….so many testimonies of victory….but not for me.  What have I done to deserve this?  Why are You working for everybody but me?  When will it be my turn?  This is getting a little old.

     What do you do when you have no more answers?  You’ve looked at all your options and finally realize there are no more ideas.   You’re exhausted.   You feel like curling up in a ball and crying your heart out.  Maybe you’ve already done that.  And now you find yourself depressed.   You ask, “How did I get hear again?”

     As I write, I hear the song “I’ll wait for You!  I’ll wait for You!”  You hear a gentle voice reminding you that you’re not alone.  You have not been forgotten.  God, your Father, sees you.  He’s with you, singing over you.  Holding you, letting you know He is ever the God who understands how you feel.  And He will see you through, even if you don’t know where you’re going.  He reaches out and takes you by the hand.  He knows your name.  He whispers words of encouragement and wipes away your tears.

    “Daughter, I ‘m here.  I love you.  I’m holding you in the palm of my hand.  Don’t look at the storm.  Look at me.  Lie down.  Lay your head on my chest.  It’s a safe place.  I will cover you with my wings, and you will find rest.  Go ahead.  Take a deep breath.  Once more.  Hear me say your name.  Then say mine.  For I am a breath away.  Anytime you need me, whisper my name.  Jesus….Jesus….Jesus.     I’m leading you through the storm.   Rest, my child.”

      I hear another song, “Where He leads me, I will follow.   Where He leads me, I will follow, where He leads me, I will follow.  I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.”

     Friends, I believe God is teaching us to trust Him, even when we can’t see beyond our nose.  I know He is Love.   And that He loves my friend and He loves me.  I feel her burden, but I must release that burden to Him.  He is the ultimate burden-bearer.  I choose to trust Him, to praise Him for His faithfulness.  “Great is Thy Faithfulness!  Great is Thy Faithfulness!  Morning by morning, new mercies I see!  All I have needed Thy hand has provided!  Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto Me!” 

 And so, I choose to rise!  To sing a new song!  To trust again, even if I don’t know what tomorrow may bring.  He is my tomorrow.

Are You Sure You Want That?

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     Do you find yourself spending more time looking back than looking forward?  Do you have images which try to take up permanent residence in your mind, even when you’ve prayed about them?  Do you feel condemned when you try to pray?  If you’ve answered “Yes” to these questions, then welcome to the human race!  You are not alone.  At various points in every believer’s life, you will face giants.  Did anybody tell you that?  Probably not.  And if they did tell you, you probably ignored their warnings.  It’s easier to talk about the wonderful mountaintop experiences of being a Christian than to share the agonizing torment which accompanies a believer struggling to overcome temptations.

     I can talk about victories ten, twenty, or thirty years ago; that would be safe.  And you’d probably go, “Wow!  What an overcomer!  Look at that strong woman of God!  But is anybody willing to talk about yesterday, or last week, or last month, or last year?  I recently finished a memoir and I was absolutely relieved.  Did I tell you from beginning to end it took five years to write?  That’s right, five years.  And it was not a pretty sight along the way. 

 There were months when I proudly announced to family, friends, and co-workers, “I’m writing a book! ” They always wanted to know what it was about, and I’d say, “It’s about my life and how I overcame many obstacles to get to where I am today.” 

    They would typically reply,”How wonderfu!”  Let us know when it gets published.  I’d smile, sit up proudly, and say, “Sure will.  I’ll keep you posted.”  As I continued writing, I’d get to a certain passage and have debates with myself about including it in the book.  Well, this went on for many weeks.  I’d talk to my husband and two of my close friends about my feelings and then take their encouragement and pick up where I left off.  However, I couldn’t shake fear, guilt, and self-condemnation. 

From time to time, I fell into depression and despair.  I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get pass that passage.  I had dealt with it through counseling many years before and thought I should have been over it.  In fact, I didn’t want to talk about it anymore with my friends for fear they’d just say, “Get over it!”  Believe me, I thought I was trying to do just that.  But I felt stuck.

     After a few more weeks of wrestling with God, yeah, that’s exactly what I was doing,  I finally threw up my hands and surrendered my giant to Him.  I remember thinking, “Father, You love me, in spite of everything I’ve done.  And this act was a part of my journey in coming to You.  You knew all about my past and You accepted me just as I was.  And if that was good enough for You, then it’s okay with me.  I did the best I could with what I knew at the time.” It was time to stop punishing myself.  From that point on, my fear greatly diminished.  I did not say totally disappeared.  But now it no longer consumed me.  I had control of it.  Or should I say God had taken control.  Then the peace came.

    I Corinthians 10:13 reads as follows:  “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (NKJV)

     Be encouraged, friend, you will get through your trial.  Keep seeking God.  He is Love!  And He sees where He’s taking you.  You may have to walk some difficult roads ahead, but He will see you through.  I know.

He Cares…but is it my turn to be used?

Holy Spirit,

     Over the past two weeks, two very similar situations presented themselves to me.  Each involved two people I care about very much.  Through conversations with the individuals, I concluded they had needs which appeared to require immediate solutions. 

      I had been thinking about situation #l for two or three days and finally decided to share it with my husband Willie, especially since the solution involved him, as well as me.  Duh?  I know….I probably could have saved myself some time and energy if I had gone to him right away when I felt the need presented itself.  I don’t even remember praying about the situation.  Maybe I did and maybe I didn’t.  I’m just not sure.  Anyway, when I explained the circumstances to Willie, he asked, “Why do you think we’re the ones to help in this situation?”  I said, “I don’t know, but I know this person needs help and we’re able.”  Being the gracious person he is, Willie said, “Well, if you think we’re supposed to do something then go ahead.”

     Situation # 2 came along a few days after that.  Again, someone mentioned a need.  Willie happened to be in the room at the time and I’m sure he almost sucked the oxygen out of the room, holding his breath, hoping I wouldn’t say anything.  This time I remained quiet.  I heard the need, empathized but made no further comments.  I’m sure Willie was relieved. 

    A few days later, while dressing for church, I was thinking about the two situations.  I wondered, “Did Jesus ever see a need, have an emotional response, but choose not to respond immediately?”  Suddenly, a scene flashed before my eyes.  I saw Mary and Martha, two sisters whose brother, Lazarus, was sick.  They had come to Jesus to give him the news, knowing He was able to do something about it.  Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4)

     The scripture went on to say that Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  However, it also says in the very next verse, “He stayed two or more days in the place where He was.” (11:6)  How do you like that?  His friend was sick and He chose not to go with the sisters.  Hmmm………. The sisters probably thought He didn’t care!  I certainly would have questioned His seeming lack of care.  Fine friend He was!

     You probably know the rest of the story.  In a conversation with His disciples, He stated, “And I am glad for your sakes that you were not there, that you may believe.  Nevertheless, let us go to him.” (11:15)  Later we understand more of the story. Not only did the sisters believe, but the disciples and the Jews believed when they saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead!  It was all about God’s timing!  It was time for the glory of God to be revealed!

     God is teaching me the difference between a God response and an emotional response.  He has given me the gift of compassion, but I cannot allow my heart to direct my path.  I must depend upon the Holy Spirit to guide me.  So often we want to rescue those closest to us, but that may not be God’s best.   While we want to relieve the suffering of others, God may be telling us “Not yet.”  He may allow further suffering to fulfill His work in us and those around us.  If we do anything to short change that work, we are enablers!  We simply prolong the process.

     I have to admit it’s much easier for me to enable than to take my hands off and ask God to take control.  Sometimes we have to do the hard thing and trust God to fulfill the need in His time and by His means.  We may come off as being uncaring or unsympathetic, and for a pleaser that’s tough!  As my friend often says, “Get over it!” 

     So the next time you and I are faced with a situation, we need to ask, “Am I the one to fulfill this need and is it the right time?”  If we ask and sincerely want Our Father to answer, He will let us know clearly.  We just need to be attentive for His answer.

Treasure Chest Moments

      Have you ever felt like you wasted your entire day? If you have, you’re not alone. The truth of the matter is each day has purpose. If we slow down long enough, we’ll unfold hidden treasures throughout each day. I call them “Treasure Chest Moments.” I’m not talking about candy syrup, always feeling good times. No, sometimes life can be downright yucky! But if we take a deep breath, we can hear God speaking even during our “worst” days.