Sunday, September 1, 2013

To trust or not to trust

Trusting God sounds appealing and easy when it’s tied up in a neat package with a bow and I hear  someone’s story about how God has helped them. But in the nitty gritty of the moment, when God can see the big picture but I can only see on puzzle piece, it can be really scary. Today, I’m going to be really transparent. Because I have real needs that, somehow and someway, my God is going to handle. I want God to use my life to draw attention and glory to Himself. So, if I don’t share the specific struggles, how can I share the specific triumphs when He shows up and moves in my life?

It’s one of those days where I’m clinging for dear life to the promises given to us forever in the Bible, the inspired Word of God. We had awesome worship at church, and there were a couple times when, from my position in the praise team on the platform, I got choked up because the song lyrics were so impactful! I was so grateful to my God that He gave me a voice and passion to express my love to Him through singing, that I gave it every bit of voice I had! I’m overwhelmed by His love on the cross, and I got to sing a verse about when He came out of the tomb and conquered death for all who place their trust in Him! Talk about barely being able to get the words out – I’m tearing up all over again just thinking about what my Jesus did for me on the cross!!!! But, still, in my flesh – the religious word for my human nature – as the music has faded and it’s several hours later, I am contemplative and struggling.

The Bible tells us that Christians are to walk by faith and not by sight. That means that I shouldn’t just look at my circumstances but should look at God’s promises and see how He’s taken care of His people throughout the history of the Bible so it can increase my faith that He’ll take care of me too. My circumstances right now make my pulse race, and I have to fight the anxiety attack that’s just beneath the surface: I am facing a low food supply, the inability to pay my car note that was due last month and the rent that’s due now, and most other bills. I just got my first paycheck from my new job Friday, so the fact I can’t pay these bills even with a paycheck is scary and frustrating. Additionally, work I’ve done contractually for months with anticipated payout is still not getting paid yet. There are additional other factors – completely out of my control - contributing to my financial stress that I cannot go into details about in a blog. I definitely believe in hard work and not waiting for a handout, but I know God also uses the Body of Christ to minister to each other. Being a single mom, there’s no other income from a helpmate, and most people don’t randomly give money away. So, my stress is mounting, and I am clinging to God, begging Him to intercede for me.

But how do I take the Biblical principle of walking by faith and not by sight from being a principle and apply it to my circumstances in the here and now? I’m sure I can pursue answers to that question the rest of my life, but I am very comforted by several Biblical concepts.

First, I have heard the stories of many people who have said when they tithed – gave a full 10% to God as He requires in scripture – that He has taken care of their needs. So, today, as my hands literally trembled, I wrote out my tithe check, trusting that God will be pleased with my cheerful and faithful giving, and praying He’ll help me pay the necessary bills. (Ironically, I’m really low on checks and don’t know if I’ll have the same address in the time it would take to order more, or if I’ll be begging friends to sleep on their couches.) Malachi 3:10 says: 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."

Secondly, in Matthew 6, Jesus talks about how much our Father cares for the birds of the air and even the wildflowers. Then my Savior reminds me how much more God cares for our needs! I am so grateful to be reminded of that today! Here’s the set of verses:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

I am by no means a Bible scholar, and I’m not going to attempt to pick apart those verses. But I trust that my Savior meant what He said about God’s character in that text. After all, faith is trusting in what isn’t seen.

Thirdly, my faith has been strengthened when several Christian friends have been amazing as they’ve responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and have given to me! One friend let me “shop” in her pantry, freezer, and stash of household items for a major restock a couple times! Another friend will randomly bring me extra food and toiletries she knows I need from purchases she made with coupons. Several other friends have been prompted by the Holy Spirit to send me money – and when I added up the donations, they equaled the exact amount I needed to pay the rent last month. So when I worry about how these new bills will get paid, I am reminded that God is already putting the wheels in motion to take care of my needs. And as a side note, I know He’ll take care of my needs – not necessarily my wants. I WANT to remain in my own home, independent and not having to work around anyone else’s schedule. I NEED a roof over my head  - I may not get to stay in my own home, and I may have to die to myself and be OK with that.

Seeing prayers answered increases my faith. In fact, writing about God’s provision in my recent past gives me hope for the future. I hope, in sharing this, it helps someone reading it who may be struggling with their faith when all they see is daunting circumstances. I hope it comes across more about God’s goodness than my struggles! I also hope I’ll remember to do a follow-up post explaining the intricacies of how God worked out the situation once it’s taken care of. I welcome you to remind me to do that!

I am sure God already has the specific spots in the metaphorical mosaic of my life that these broken pieces fit perfectly into, and that these struggles are not random problems that caught Him by surprise. My guess is that these pieces are part of the winding path to something really exciting - a path that couldn't be created if life were easy and I didn't need to rely on God!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I am compelled...

I have always loved to express myself through the written word. I have a couple dozen journals, starting with little kid handwriting and many misspelled words. Writing helps me clarify my thoughts and gain perspective of a situation. Writing helps me hear what God is telling me because my pen will start flying across the paper, or my fingers across the keyboard, as He reveals a truth to me. Sometimes it's a new truth, and other times, He gets my attention with something I've heard my whole life but previously didn't have experience to practically apply it.

It is my deepest desire to glorify God through how I react to the awesome, the good, the awful, and the devastating life circumstances that we can all face. I also seek to glorify Him in my written and verbal words, and in my actions. There are moments I monumentally fail and my human nature wins over the Spirit of God inside me. But I pray those times are fewer and farther between as I strive to daily give control of my life to my Father, knowing that can lead to quite a winding path. I don't have a professional goal for five years from now that I'm striving to reach. Whatever I'm doing, I want to honor Him with my work, my attitude, my time, my finances, and words, my actions and even my thoughts.

I cannot keep from writing anymore - I am compelled to do it. For a couple years now, the Holy Spirit has been calling me to write. Sometimes it was sheer laziness that prevented me. Most times, it's been fear that I wasn't holy enough, smart enough, scholarly enough or interesting enough for anyone to listen. I also don't want any skewed version of God's truth to come from the enemy through me and steer someone in the wrong direction: God makes it clear in scripture that He'll hold people accountable for leading others astray. While I am still keenly aware of those reasons, I now believe I am to the point of disobedience to my Father by not sharing things He's put on my heart.

I ask for your prayers as I write - this is a very daunting step for me to take. Maybe it's because some trusted people in my life have criticized me in very cruel ways before. Maybe it's because I feel so unworthy and unqualified to be a mouthpiece for God. Maybe it's because I don't want to hurt feelings or step on toes. But, as I get closer to God, my heart aches over the things that grieve the heart of God. I cringe at the way our society and families don't understand or know God's Word and how life-changing it can be if they apply His principles to their everyday lives.

Some of what I write will simply be therapeutic for me, and hopefully for anyone else who reads it. But I also have a list of topics to tackle that are issues I believe God is calling me to stand up for or against. While I am a grammar geek, I'm sure my spelling and grammar won't be flawless, as content will be more important to me than perfection, and I may be so eager to share that I press the publish button a little too quickly. So I ask you to look past those mistakes to the deeper issues.

I know writing is part of my purpose on this earth, so information on this blog, and even comments by readers, will very likely be used for a book or song in the future. I would ask for your prayers and constructive critiques. Please be respectful in your comments, even if your viewpoint differs from mine. And, by all means, please share scripture that comes to your heart as you read about a certain topic. I'll start on actual topics as they come to me. For now, I leave you with one of my favorite scriptures:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."  -- Jeremiah 29:11-12