It Really Is About Balance


Forget itOne of my favorite words is balance. It reminds me that staying in balance is a key goal for my life. Life can seem like tightrope walk of trying to keep from straying too far in one direction or the other. When I get out of balance, it impacts every area of my life. Extremes in any area of your life can cause you to lose focus on what’s really important.

This is why I love this picture. It’s all about balance. We all go through difficulties in our lives. People hurt us and let us down. We make mistakes, some with lasting consequences. We make choices that prove to be wrong.

And when those times occur, we have to remain in balance. Life’s hurts and challenges have a way of pulling us to extremes. Sometimes we are so wounded that we carry the pain or unforgiveness for far too long and it holds us back from moving forward with our lives. It can take over our thoughts and cause us to lose our joy and lose our focus on God and His goodness in our lives.

The other extreme is when we fail to learn from our mistakes. For some of us, we continue a pattern of poor choices that keeps us bound in a cycle that never allows for progress and change. Many times we blame others when in fact it’s us that keeps the cycle going.

The key truly is balance. Bad things will happen. You will experience hurt and disappointment. You will make mistakes. But let those times be a lesson. Ask God what He wants you to learn from those times. He will show you. And forgive others and yourself during the difficult times in life so you can move on. Don’t stay stuck because you can’t let go. Stay in balance.

Out of Balance


We all have a past. We all have things we are ashamed of or wish we could change about ourselves. We all have people in our lives who have hurt us, rejected us and played a role in forming who we are today. The degrees of our brokenness varies based on our past, our wounds and our current circumstances. But no matter who you are or what you’re going through, you feel like your pain and your unhappiness is the worst and no one else can possibly understand.

thMJT7OP2AAnd so we seek happiness. We want to put our pain, our regrets, our shame and our mistakes behind us and wipe the slate clean. We believe that if only (fill in the blank) could happen then we would be happy. And sometimes it happens and we are happy, for a moment. But then we find that the happiness doesn’t last so we seek something else that we believe will bring us happiness. And many of us spend years, some their entire lives searching for that one thing that will bring them the peace and happiness they so desperately desire.

And we know those people and we know their struggle and we hurt for them and we desire for them to find their happiness. We love them through their darkest times as the Bible calls us to. Even when we know that what is really making them unhappy and the real reason they can’t find peace is because the sin in their life has caused them to be separated from God. But we love them and continue to point them toward the answer they seek but are blinded to.

They are blinded because until they find their identity in Christ, they will be in a constant state of trying to discover who they really are. And that desire to be someone other than who you currently are stems from not knowing who you are in Christ. God designed us to seek our identity so that in our search we will eventually be pointed toward Him. And He is where true happiness is found because apart from Him there is no such thing as true happiness.

But in our love for the hurting and our compassion for them in the midst of their struggle, we cannot lose sight of the fact that at the end of the day they don’t have a happiness issue, they have a sin issue. They are lost and are in desperate need of a Savior. My concern is that we are out of balance as Christians and in our attempt to love people and have compassion for them, we have become desensitized to sin and the things that God says are wrong. We are becoming over sensitive to our fear of not wanting to offend people and in turn it’s causing us to become soft toward sin.

This is a subtle way that the enemy is deceiving Christians. We must have empathy and grace toward the lost sinner. But we cannot be deceived into simply feeling bad for their struggle and forget that at the end of the day the real issue is that they are a sinner in desperate need of a Savior. We can feel bad for all that someone has been through but we can’t forget that what they are doing is still wrong. Their sin is not their right. It’s not what they deserve to make them happy. It’s sin.

Let’s love them, but let’s love them to Christ.

50 Shades of Honesty


thLA1T6KWERecently I posted a personal opinion on Facebook about the movie “50 Shades of Grey”. I got the usual comments of support from my church friends but it was the unspoken comments that spoke the loudest. It made me think about why I felt the need to post my reasons that other people should not see this movie.

I realized very quickly that my reasons had everything to do with me and nothing to do with other people. I began to think about myself and the labels (some chosen and others placed on me by others) that impact how people see me. One of the biggest labels I place on myself is “Christian.” And I know that with that label comes the understanding that people are watching. If you are going to call yourself a Christian, your actions better live up to the label.

Then there are the other labels – wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. These are labels that matter a lot to me and that many people can relate to. Then there are the labels I wouldn’t necessarily place on myself but when I asked others they responded with these – leader, teacher, mentor, encourager. Whether we realize it or not we all carry labels that mark who we are.

mask2But what about the labels you don’t necessarily see on the surface. The ones that I keep hidden from most people. Some, that until now, have been just between me and God – weak, bent toward negativity, insecure, afraid of disappointing others, desire to please others no matter the costs, easily influenced, prone to give in and give up. These are the labels that influenced my thoughts on “50 Shades of Grey.”

I know myself and my weaknesses and aside from the grace of God, I am one mistake away from being all those negative labels I place on myself.  When Jesus became my Lord and Savior, I was made new. The old me was gone and I became a new creation in Christ. But I’m not naïve enough to think that many of my old tendencies aren’t lurking just below the surface.  That the enemy would love to ensnare the new me by dredging up the old me.

I know that if I saw that movie then there would be things that I would hear and see that would influence my thoughts. I know that if I allowed the darkness represented in that movie into my mind, it would impact my soul. I know the kind of things that I need to avoid in order to guard myself from the negative tendencies in my personality. I know that the reason that  I don’t want to see the movie is not because I think I’m better than other people. It’s because I know I’m worse so I can’t see it.

If I want to be the best of the positive labels, I have to avoid the things that I know will  corrupt those areas of my life. I’m not trying to claim that if you are Christian you should not see this movie. I’m claiming that I am a Christian and I can’t see this movie. I know myself too well to think that I would not be impacted by a movie like that. I believe people see Christians and label us – judgmental, holier than thou, boring, out of touch, unrealistic, bible thumping, pushy, intolerant. And I certainly see plenty of that in Christians and  non-Christians alike. I see it in myself at times and it’s ugly. So when we comment publically as Christians about something like “50 Shades of Grey”, we are thought to be finger-pointing. Which in this case, couldn’t be further from the truth.

thU8P2W1RSThe honest truth is that I am not “that Christian” who’s pointing fingers. I am simply a mix of all of the labels above and someone who is painfully aware of how desperate I am for Jesus. I see myself in the people I encounter and I want nothing more than for them to be brought out of the darkness of their situations and their sins and into the Glorious Light as I have been. I want them to know that God loves us even when we’re at our darkest. I want them to know that the truth is, that kind of love changes you forever. I want them to know that there is a very real enemy of their soul that wants to keep them separated from that love. Does that make me think that I’m better than others? No. It’s just means I know how unworthy I am of the labels God has placed on me forgiven, redeemed, Child of God, set free, accepted, worthy, chosen, more than a conqueror, overcomer, joy-filled, made righteous and holy, full of faith, healed, blessed, blameless, LOVED.

 

 

Filtered


thR6RG5FG5Have you noticed how everything, and I mean everything, is filtered these days? Rarely do we take a picture any more without adding a filter to make it look better. And if I ever saw a celebrity in person I’d probably not recognize them because they’re all photo-shopped in the pictures I see of them.

So it makes me wonder, why we feel the need to filter our lives? Why do we want to try to improve on what God created us to be? Why do we need to change the appearance of our original selves? Are we really that unhappy with who we are? Don’t get wrong. I’m certainly not judging or saying I never use filters. You will not see a picture of me that doesn’t have a black & white filter! So, I am guilty of doing it too.

But back to my thought. People struggle with letting their real selves be seen and heard. People even filter what they say instead of just saying what they mean. Why is that?! I have some thoughts on why we feel the need to filter.

One reason is that we are fearful. We don’t want to say what we’re really feeling or show our real selves because we fear we will be rejected. I believe this is the greatest fear people face today. We are so afraid to show who we really are because we think people won’t accept the real us. That if they knew the truth about who we really are (our thoughts, feelings, struggles), then they would judge us and want nothing to do with us. So we use a filter.

thPNRJ9V7OSam Smith even said it when he accepted his Grammy Award the other night – he said “Before I made this record I was doing everything to try and get my music heard,” Smith said. “I tried to lose weight and I was making awful music. It was only until I started to be myself that the music started to flow and people started to listen.” Wow, why did he feel such pressure to be someone he wasn’t? Was it fear of rejection? Insecurities? And look at the outcomes when he simply decided to be who he was. No filters.

Another reason is control. We get a false sense of being in control when we can hide our true self. We long to be our own boss of our lives. To surrender seems weak. But the truth is there is power in surrendering to God and allowing Him to be in control. There is safety and security in His arms. We let ourselves believe that we’re in control of situations when we keep our real selves hidden. We convince ourselves that people can’t hurt us or control us as long as we remain in control. We keep a wall up and never let them into the inner sanctuary of our hearts where our real feelings and thoughts live. But it’s all a façade. It may appear on the outside that we’re in control but inside it leaves us feeling completely out of control. It’s just another filter that hides what is real.

thVC85JMWZThe final reason we filter our lives is because we think that if we can be someone else, we will be happy. We think that if we can be the person we are pretending to be then our lives will be happy. We believe that if we hide our real self long enough that eventually all the hurts, wounds, insecurities and mistakes will just go away. We think that who we really are will just disappear and people will believe we’re really the person we’re pretending to be. We’re deceived into thinking that if we can just make our real self disappear then all our problems will disappear too.

God sent Jesus to die on the cross and to set us free from everything that makes us not want to be the real us. He never intended for us to feel the need to hide from who He created us to be. We are not a mistake that needs to be filtered because God doesn’t make mistakes. He loves us and accepts us. Without filters. He may be the only person you can trust will your real self but you CAN trust Him. He will never reject you if you let down your guard and trust Him to see the real you. He longs for you to share your true feelings and thoughts with Him. There is nothing about you that He doesn’t already know. So why not just open up and be free to share the real you. No filter. There is peace and joy that comes with being who you were created to be. We need to stop hiding behind a filter. It just may be distorting what God meant for the world to see.

If Happiness Is Not a Destination Then Why Am I Still Trying To Get There?


happinessMaybe it’s the time of year. No, I’m sure it has to do with the time of year. I’m at that point where I increasingly find myself trying to understand why I’m not happy.  Why is it that after all I am blessed with that I still feel unhappy and unfulfilled? Why am I still trying to reach a place that I know in my mind doesn’t exist?

The question may be a difficult one but the answer is quite simple. The reason I keep looking is because I forget. I forget that happiness isn’t a destination and I easily find myself back in the search for that which cannot be found. Like most people, I’m just simply looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place.

We hear things like “do what makes you happy” and “choose to be happy” but it’s never quite that simple. You can’t choose what you don’t know. I don’t know what makes me happy. Over time I’ve figured out what doesn’t make me happy.

Stuff does not bring happiness. More stuff means more work, more expenses and more upkeep. Possessions can be enjoyed but even the temporary happiness you experience upon getting something new will quickly fade because material things will never truly make you happy.

Relationships do not make me happy.  Don’t get me wrong – I have experienced great happiness in relationships and moments with friends and family that I will forever cherish but sooner or later you will find reason to be disappointed in every relationship you have because people cannot bring you happiness. You may have relationships with family members, your spouse, your children or friends that are a great source of happiness much of the time but overall happiness cannot be found in them because people can and will let you down at some point. We may have some extremely positive and meaningful relationships but for many, they can also be a source of extreme highs and lows.

thQ4E9WCBRPlaces do not make me happy. I use the term “my happy place” when referring to the beach, naps, or reading a good book but those are all temporary. And I’ve lived in many different physical locations and each one had its positives and negatives. So I’ve also learned over time that places can be nice to visit and some are great to live but no place will ever bring me complete happiness because no one place “has it all”.

I asked my friends on Facebook what makes them happy and the answers were as varied as my friendships – they ranged from the simple to the extravagant, from the tangible to the philosophical, from the selfish to the selfless. We all have “ideas” about what makes us happy but at the end of the day happiness is not something to be obtained, not permanently any way. So why do we keep searching for a destination that doesn’t exist? Why do we spend so much time in search of something we’ll never find?

Because we are made to do so. We were born to seek that which fulfills us. We are designed to search for what brings us joy. We end up making wrong turns and heading down wrong paths toward a destination that doesn’t exist when we confuse happiness with joy. There are many things that will bring us temporary and worldly happiness in this life but only one thing that can bring us joy. A relationship with our Creator and Father in heaven is the only thing that will ever completely and fully meet all our needs and fill all the empty places in our hearts. And He created us to seek Him because it is His greatest desire to be in a relationship with us. But when we seek happiness elsewhere, we simply find momentary fulfillment in temporary things like possessions, relationships and places.

thKTQKPTLTThis season when happiness is highly sought after but hard to find, seek joy. Joy is not based upon your possessions, your circumstances, the people in your life or where you find yourself at this moment in time. Joy is found in Christ. He alone is the destination we all seek but not all will find. Seek God and you will find what you’re looking for. When I catch myself in my unhappy place and searching for happiness in the things of this world, it is in my desperation that I’m reminded that He alone is my happy place.

 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  (Luke 2:10-11)

 

The Parent Trap


untitledRecently a dear friend asked me how to navigate through parenting a post high school child. We’ve all considered the terrible two’s and tumultuous three’s as the toughest years but those years are a walk in the park compared to parenting a young adult. We usually think about parenting in terms of discipline, teaching, providing for needs, guiding and imparting wisdom. But once they become a young adult the terms change. And that’s where things get tricky. Unfortunately they don’t come with instruction manuals and most of us are just winging it.

But as I thought about her question and about what would be involved, I realized that the hardest thing about parenting a young adult is probably not what most people would think. The hardest part has nothing to do with parenting at all. Many of us fall into the trap of thinking we still must provide all the normal things that go along with being a parent as long as they are living under our roof or they are dependent on us while attending college. But the reality is that this is the time our children must find their own direction in life. They must be making their own decisions and plans. They will make mistakes but we have to let them. The hardest thing I’ve had to do during this stage of parenting is to let go.

3eb8bdbd9f50f036839664c20d966b71God chooses us to be a supervisor for our children. As their supervisor we train them and teach them about life. We’re responsible for much of their plans, activities and schedule. Another trap we fall into is the trap of thinking that the plans that we have had for their lives will be the path they choose. We may provide direction and support for their God given talents and abilities, but that doesn’t mean they’ll choose the life that we’d hoped they would. I’m sure my parents never dreamed that I would join the US Navy and move to the other side of the country but that’s exactly what I chose to do. It’s not our job as parents to plan out our child’s life. And as a young adult, that’s the time they’re beginning to question what their future will look like, what career they’ll have, who they’ll marry, where they’ll live. We can provide advice when they ask, but what their future holds is ultimately up to them.

Our job as parents is to prepare our children for life. God chooses us to supervisor their childhood years but that is a temporary assignment. They are on loan to us until we return them to God so that He can lead them into the destiny for which He created them. And this is definitely the hardest part of being a parent.

il_570xN.331205967Eventually our children reach the point where they are promoted to work directly with the Master Builder. They no longer need a supervisor to oversee them. During this season we as parents can fall into the trap of holding on to our children when it’s time to let them go. We can hinder their independence and growth by still trying to play too big a role in their life. We must ride out this season from the sidelines and let them discover the path God is leading them to. Interfering will simply delay the inevitable and can cause them to distance themselves from us even more so than they would naturally during this time.

They are now adults and we must see them as such. We have helped them to grow their wings and now is the time to let them fly. The temporary pain of letting go is manageable when we remind ourselves that we are entrusting them into the into the hands of the One who created them and loves them even more than we do. It’s time for us to enjoy watching our young adult find their way and discover their life’s direction. And we can find comfort in knowing that the next season of our relationship with our children will be as friends and there is no greater point to reach in the life of a parent.

Consumed With (fill in the blank)


thWhat comes to mind when you see “consumed with _________.” Do you think you’re not consumed with anything? Think again because I bet you are. Did you know that consumed means to waste away or to use up, to devour? It’s not a positive concept, yet many of us are still consumed with something.

Consumed With Guilt

Have you ever felt so much guilt about something that you literally felt you were being eaten up by it? Like it was devouring you from the inside? I’ve known people who carried guilt with them for years. They’ve never forgiven themselves for the hurt they caused or the poor choices they’ve made. The guilt they carry becomes a weight that keeps them from experiencing any true joy because the guilt is a constant reminder that they are not worthy of that joy.

Consumed With Anger

Anger and hatred are partner emotions that take up space in our hearts and leave no room for peace. Those consumed by anger unleash their emotion on anyone who crosses their path but most often the target of their anger is someone or something that is far removed from the current situation. Resentment can build over time and evolve into anger and hatred toward a person or situation if left unaddressed and unresolved.

Wasting-Time-in-Social-MediaConsumed With Busyness

Many of us find ourselves consumed by activities and busyness that rob us of valuable time. We can simply pop onto social media for a quick check and lose an hour as we venture off on rabbit trails of pictures and posts that add no value to our day. We can get hooked on TV shows and build our schedules around them as we become engrossed in an activity that will ultimately not provide much benefit.

Consumed With Worry

Do you find your thoughts drifting to scenarios of situations that haven’t even occurred yet and may possibly never happen? Are you constantly anxious over things that have no certainty of taking place? Do your thoughts lean toward the negative side and do you find yourself assuming the worse will happen instead of thinking positively?

Consumed By Grace

Sometimes I still find myself consumed with one or more of the above. When I find myself feeling resentment toward someone or wasting time with TV shows or social media or catch myself thinking negative thoughts of worry and anxiety, I remind myself that, as a child of God, the only thing I need to be consumed by is His Grace.

The difference in the other things (anger, worry, busyness and guilt) is that they all require our participation. That’s why we use the word “with” when we refer to them. We allow ourselves to be consumed with them when we give them our focus and attention.

thNRLLX738But when we are consumed by the grace of God, we use the word “by” because it’s no longer about us and what we can do, but it is by His grace and what He’s already done for us. God’s grace is more than sufficient to overcome our weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:19). His grace will fill the places in our heart and in our mind where we have allowed ourselves to be consumed with negative emotions.

What is consuming you today? What is causing you to slowly waste away on the inside? God knows what you’re going through. He knows your thoughts and your struggles. If you will trust Him to be your strength, He will begin to push out the negative emotions in your life and will replace them with the peace and joy you’ve been missing. Open your heart to be consumed by His grace and begin the journey toward the freedom that negative emotions have kept you from.

You and What Army?


When I was in middle school a common response when someone threatened to “beat another person up” was – “oh yea? you and what army?” In other words – “if you think you’re gonna take me down you better bring an army along with you because you’re gonna need it.”

Last night our cat, Dakota, was sitting on our porch minding his own business when the neighborhood bully cat started to head in his direction.  From the window I saw Dakota crouching lower and lower hoping to be invisible to his approaching nemesis. As the bully cat quickened his pace, I dropped what I was doing and ran straight to the door. As soon as I opened the front door the bully cat stopped in his tracks. I told Dakota to come inside but he didn’t budge. I yelled at the cat thug to go back where he came from. He didn’t budge. I turned to my husband sitting on the couch and said “I think we’re fixin’ to have a problem.”

Suddenly Dakota realized he was not alone. He had an “army” of me, Dave and my son, Scott all standing behind him and looking on. He leaped from the porch and headed straight toward the bully cat. His new-found boldness came from knowing that we were there and that we would protect him. So he decided to take the offensive and run the cat thug out of his yard and away from his home. Even though Dakota was pretty much powerless on his own because he was smaller and doesn’t have his front claws to fight with, in the moment he knew he had the strength t0 battle, not because of his own power but because of the power of those who stood with him.

thFNW1G6IRAs Christians we don’t have to battle our enemy, the devil, alone. Against such a formidable foe, we are virtually powerless in our own strength. But when we have God and His army of angels to wage war on our behalf, we can battle with confidence knowing the victory has already been won. But too many times we cower in fear when we face the enemy because we think we have to fight on our own. If we’d only respond by trusting that God is in the battle with us then we would confidently go after the enemy and chase him out of our lives whenever he comes near.

If the enemy is coming at you and threatening to attack remember that there is army in heaven ready to wage war. All you need to do is use the power you have available to you through prayer and call upon the promises of God’s word. Have faith in knowing that if we will submit ourselves to God and resist the devil then he will flee (James 4:7) and the victory will be ours.

Out of Focus


IMG_2933Have you ever gone back years later to visit a place where you played as a child? Did you notice that it wasn’t quite like you remembered it? Or worse, it was nothing like you remembered it as a child. Have you ever told your children stories of the enormous hill you went sledding on or the tree that you climbed that was bigger than any tree your child has ever seen? And then you take them to see the hill or the tree and suddenly you look like the biggest liar EVER. Well, it happened to me.

In that moment I wondered what in the world happened. How could the hill and the tree have gotten so much smaller? I looked at the hill with disbelief because the hill that I went sledding down at 10 years old was so much bigger than the hill that now stood before me. And the tree. I thought the tree that I used to climb with my friends was the biggest tree ever known to exist. And then there was the wall I used to walk on. My dad would hold my hand and walk alongside me. I felt so high up in the air and it was so scary. Yet when I drove by that wall many years later it was only 3 feet tall. Seriously?! It couldn’t be the same wall – the wall I walked on was towering up to the sky. But it was in fact the same wall, on the same street, in front of the same house my grandparents used to live in.

IMG_2930

It’s funny how when you look back sometimes, the things that you thought were so huge are not really as big as you thought they were. You have a picture in your mind that has been there for years but in that moment, they just don’t seem the same as you remember them.  The thing is, the size of the hill and the tree or the height of the wall didn’t change over time. What changed over the years was my perspective. I had changed. I had grown. The way I saw things and the perspective from which I saw them had changed. They had not changed, I was just seeing them with a different set of eyes.

How different could our lives be if we changed the way we look at things? What if instead of looking at the challenges of life with childlike eyes that viewed everything as so much bigger than us, we looked at them through mature eyes that see them as not so big after all?  How much easier would life be if we were able to look at our problems and think “That’s it? Wow, that’s nothing!”

IMG_2932What if, instead of being fearful of the enormity of what we face, we could see that in reality it’s nothing like we imagine it to be? What if we could see things in the moment as they really are and it not take years later to see our situations and circumstances as a small bump in the road instead of a huge obstacle that seems impossible to overcome? What if we could see the good in a situation now instead of focusing on the bad? What if it didn’t take a really long time to see that what is happening now may actually be a good thing instead of bad like we think it is? What if we could pick out the positives and discard the negatives now instead of years from now when we look back on this season?

Does this sound impossible? Difficult, yes. Impossible, no.  The reality is already there, we just have to learn to see it. The hill, the tree and the wall didn’t change. There were always the size they are now. But the way they appeared to me changed because my perspective changed. The same can be true for our circumstances. They may not change. But the way we see them can definitely change. If we begin to refocus our eyes on God and how big He is, then our problems suddenly begin to look smaller. Instead of saying “God, I have a big problem!” we should be saying “Problem, I have a big God!”.

th (5)God never promised that our lives would be problem free but He did promise us that He will be right there with us as we face our problems. Many times we fail to recognize when our perspective is out of focus. We become fearful, worried and obsessed with our problems because we are seeing them through childlike eyes. But we have tools available to us that can help us to refocus. When we spend time reading the bible, in prayer and quieting our busy minds in order to seek God’s presence, we find that our perspective begins to change. The problems we face begin to diminish and we begin to grow in our faith in Him. Before long our focus is restored and our perspective is renewed. It’s not easy to refocus, but it is possible (Phil. 4:13).

Has the way you see things gotten out of focus? Do the problems you face seem impossible to overcome?  It’s time to refocus on the One who has overcome it all (John 16:33). Don’t wait until years from now to see the truth. It’s time to see your situation for what it really is and not what it seems to be. Refocus.

Leave It To A Professional


thQQATP0ODHave you ever tried to fix something on your own only to find that you made a bigger mess of it than before you started? I have. I have fully replaced my yard twice because I over fertilized and under watered. Then there was the time I almost ended up divorced over wallpaper removal and replacement. Oh, and there was the time I thought I could fix a borrowed chainsaw. If only I’d just left it alone I wouldn’t have had to replace it with a brand new one. Some things are better off left to a professional, especially when it comes to people.

I used to get frustrated at people who refuse to believe the promises of God’s Word and walk in victory over their past and present battles. I’m not talking about the unchurched, non-believers who don’t know what the promises of God are. Or even Christians who believe in God and go to church on occasion. I’m talking about the born-again believer who knows God, who reads their bible, prays, serves in the church and is surrounded by fellow believers. No matter how many times they’ve heard the message, attended the small group, been prayed over, and encouraged – they refuse to accept who God says they are and continue to walk in shame, condemnation and insecurity because they believe the lies of the enemy and who he says they are. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t want to believe who God says they are and to be free from the bondage that held them captive.

th3NQ7U036I could see that they were missing out on the peace and joy that God was waiting to pour out on them. The life they dreamed about and deserved was within reach if they’d just take hold of it. Why didn’t they simply trust God and His word? Maybe it was fear, feelings of unworthiness, too many lies in their head, too many deep rooted wrong beliefs that were too hard to overcome. My frustration came from the fact that no matter how hard I tried or how much encouragement I gave them – I couldn’t change them.

I came to realize it’s not that they didn’t want to believe it, they just hadn’t reached the point yet where they do believe. God showed me I needed to have a lot more grace with people. I also learned there is a fine line between wanting to be used by God and wanting to be God. Pride can prevent us from having grace and from allowing God the room in our lives to speak through us. I pray for God to use me as a vessel to speak hope to the hopeless yet when I have the opportunity to do so I battle against sharing my own thoughts and advice versus hearing from God what He wants to say to them. Knowing when to shut up and knowing when to let God speak up has long been my struggle. How can I be used by God to speak to those in need of direction without trying to be their Holy Spirit and trying to “fix” them?

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The answer for them was the same for me. Instead of trying to fix our problems through our own strength and abilities, we need to trust Jesus. I need to trust Jesus. I need to always remember that God is God and I’m not. And even though I may have areas of my life that I’ve surrendered to Him and have victory over, I have other areas that I’m still struggling in. So, I’m no different from those who have yet to find their peace and victory. We’re all a work in progress. Who am I to gauge how far along someone should be on their journey or to get bothered because their roots run deeper and their battle rages stronger than mine?

I want to see God to heal the brokenhearted, restore the broken, bring hope to the hopeless and victory to the defeated. The peace I have when my frustrations rear their ugly head is that He is more than able. He did it in my life and He can do it in theirs. It’s not up to me to make someone believe that the promises of God are for them. But it is up to me to believe it for them when they can’t believe it for themselves. They may have given up for now but God hasn’t given up on them so neither am I. So until they believe it, I can stand in the gap and believe for them. Who in your life needs your grace and needs for you to believe for them until they believe for themselves?