Lay it down....

Ephesians 4:32 NIV Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

I have learned a little late in life just how much benefit there is to releasing my burdens to Christ. I would like to be able to boast in my ability to trust God with my cares wholeheartedly, but it would be a lie. I fall short daily. I have to completely uncurl my grip on my life every single day, and it is not easy. I like having control, but that’s not reality. God holds it all in the palms of His hands. I have this great view from my work station, our front office entry has floor to ceiling windows, so I get to look at and take in the beauty of the beginning of the day. It is my favorite time, because everything seems brighter, fuller, vibrant when I begin by considering all this that God made. Likewise, the days we have intense weather and it is dark and ominous outside, I look out in awe of the power of His creation. When I consider every day, the beauty and the intricacy of what God has made in this world around us, I can’t help but see the parallel with how He cares for us. And yet, our minds and hearts can be so easily swayed, and ruled by the things that happen to us. What is your natural reaction to a significant life change? We see it and are personally impacted by it: addiction, marital struggles, terminal illness, unemployment, homelessness, physical/emotional trauma, depression, anxiety, chronic illness and so much more. Our humanity cries out in reaction to these things with heartache, anger, disappointment, grief, fear, despair…..
How do we as His people find our way to a reaction of release rather than to grip more tightly to what we think we have control of? How do we fully and completely trust our God, who is capable of far more than we can possibly imagine, with the burden we carry? It is not easy, and it won’t ever be a natural reaction. Because of the Holy Spirit residing within us, we must choose a supernatural reaction!

We must stretch and work out our spirituality daily, no differently than what we do when we go to the gym for a good workout. The ability to trust God with our lives doesn’t just happen like the flip of a switch. It takes time and effort on our part. God doesn’t need us to trust Him, but He wants us to. He delights in our love and praise for Him! He created us for great purpose, to make His name great in all the earth, to share the abundance He has given us with others. I can’t imagine the joy the Lord experiences in seeing His people living in true freedom! We have so many reasons to give up and give in to the pressures of life coming at us all the time, but we have one amazing, all powerful and abundantly loving God who is reason enough to rise above it all!

I was challenged in our worship gathering yesterday to release some things that were burdening my heart. I came away from that time feeling the benefits of that release immediately. I don’t understand why people choose to linger in their burden, grip so tightly to the things of this world that they simply cannot control. Please hear me in this: releasing your worries and cares to God’s hands does not mean you don’t care; it means quite the opposite, my friend.

So I challenge you today, to lay it all before the feet of Jesus. Confess it, ask God to take it and cleanse your mind and heart, and then walk away from it. Choose to live free and forgiven. If you are going to remember it, then choose to remember forgiven! To spend a moment of your life dwelling on anything less is as if you never truly laid it down.

You are meant for more, far more than you can possibly imagine. Consider today your opportunity to live extending the kindness, compassion and forgiveness of the Father by your words and actions. Let your life shine more brightly today. He loves you and He delights in you! Isn’t He good?

Thank you, Father, that your compassion is abounding and never failing for me. I cannot imagine a moment of my life wasted dwelling on anything less than Your great love for me. It is what motivates me to love others and to be the best version of me in this cruel world. Help me today, Lord. Help me to trust You more and more. I am choosing to let go, trust You and live forgiven. Amen and amen.

Season of Lacking

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.(Ephesians 6:10-18 NLT)

I cannot remember a single moment of my childhood when I felt I was lacking for anything. Sure, like any child I had a few things here and there I asked for, hoped for, even prayed for and I did not always get that thing I was really wanting that I thought would make my life somehow better. I can recall being disappointed about not receiving something I had put on my wish list for Christmas. I can recall my first heartbreak when a boy didn’t return my affection for him. I can recall my first rejection for a job I really wanted but did not get, and had to watch a great friend get it even when she knew how badly I wanted it. I can recall a number of disappointments in my life as a wife and mother, the majority of those-I know you can relate!-because I had this unrealistic and fantasy like idea in my head of just how perfect, happy and whole my life would be after I met the perfect guy and had the perfect family I had always dreamed of. Life is certain to provide us with a variety of experiences far from what we would prefer, but here is the blessed reality of it all:

Jehovah Jireh has the ability to provide and to destroy seasons of lacking in us.

At any given time in our lives, we will have to deal with circumstances beyond our control. We will be faced with a season of lacking. I think it is safe to say, most of us don’t like not having control. Most of us prefer to have full and complete control of the circumstances happening around us, don’t we? But we don’t. The greatest challenge in my faith walk I am finding again and again, is the ability to fully trust this great big God I love. I want to worship Him, follow Him, serve Him, tell everyone I know about Him, but I can’t quite trust Him with, well, everything. I want to hold on to some things, because I just can’t quite let go. Knowing I have control of my life, brings me a certain sense of comfort, balance. When life suddenly slaps me with the unexpected, and I am forced to live in this season of lacking, it is paralyzing. I have had a struggle with anxiety nearly all my life, and it started as a child with test anxiety. As I got older, I found this anxiety threatened other areas of my life beyond the classroom testing setting. At some point early in our marriage, I found myself in a state of depression. I learned very quickly that anxiety and depression tend to go hand in hand. Thankfully, I had family and close friends around me who lovingly and purposefully encouraged me to talk to my Doctor, and see a Therapist as well. When I find myself facing a season of lacking, my natural reaction is for the anxiety and depression to take control, I am overwhelmed, my heart races, my emotions are heightened, I literally cannot hear what is going on around me as I feel myself sinking. At its worst, it sends me into a fetal position on my bed, and I am kind of unreachable for a short while. Other times, I am able to calm down and find my balance through breathing techniques, meditation, scripture and personal mantra recitation, yoga, lots and lots and lots of prayer, use of essential oils, listening to a calming song playlist. I am an optimist, and I tend to see the glass as half full, but when a season of lacking hits and it feels like a domino effect of one bad thing after another, that’s when I have to dig in my heels and choose to stand. That’s when I have to choose to lean fully and completely upon Father God, and sometimes I find myself crumbling into His arms. I know He is there, I know He loves me and I know He intends it all for my good, but it is agonizing not knowing, not understanding why He lets it happen.

"What is the purpose of this season of lacking, God?"

"When are you going to provide?"

"How long must I endure this?"

So, what is my response? How do I deal with this and step out of it?

My foundation of salvation in Christ and my faith, the Holy Spirit living in me, the basic beautiful knowledge that God loves me in spite of myself, all contributes to my ability to find my way to the floor, and sometimes flat on my face, ready to rest fully and completely in Him. When I am there, when I have let all my questions and my emotions and my opinions and my preferences fade…..that’s when I am precisely where I need to be and where He intends for me to be. This is where my faith is built, and this is where wisdom is attained. It’s my only pathway to contentment in a season of lacking. It is the pathway to knowing Him more, and trusting Him more.

I believe God allows seasons of lacking for each one of us and no two experiences will ever be exactly the same. When we pray for someone who is struggling and witness God’s deliverance for them, it is only natural to want that for our own struggle. The hardest thing I have had to tell someone in the middle of a struggle, is I don’t know. I don’t know why you are facing this, and why God is allowing it to happen to you, but I know He has a purpose for you because of it. I know somehow He is going to use this to make you new, to bring you into a fresh position of peace and contentment in Him. It doesn’t make sense to our human minds, but it does when we consider it from the perspective of our God who gave His Son for us.

Thank you Father, for reminding me that this season of lacking has purpose beyond what I can see. I know You are good, loving and gracious and I don’t deserve a bit of it but I am thankful for it. You are my God, and I am learning to trust You more today than I did yesterday. All I have and all I am is Yours. Take this season, Father, and use it for Your glory. Amen and amen.

my Ebenezer...

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