A couple of years ago my husband and I tried everything we could to move away from the Atlanta area and closer to our family in North Carolina. We knew God had led us to Georgia for a reason but we were hoping that season was over. I prayed, “God, close the doors that need to be closed, and open the doors that need to be opened.” He heard my prayer, but it looked different than I thought it would. It looked like every door we tried prying open on our own, he shut. It felt like the path God was leading us down was a dark alley and it surely did not feel good.
However, now being on the other side looking back, I can look back and see the benefit and spiritual growth through the journey. We decided to quit trying to move and instead seek God where we were. If we would have moved when we tried to, we would have missed the opportunity to get plugged in with a local church here and embark on a journey that has grown and strengthened our spiritual life immensely.
Now looking back I can see the compassion in God’s closed doors. Trials can make us more aware of God's goodness and mercy leading to spiritual growth rather than bitterness.
God has used these past couple of years to draw my husband and I nearer to Him, teaching us more about the relationship He desires with us. For me, God has graciously been revealing more and more of my true identity in Him. That is where I see His goodness and mercy following me. Because without that truth, my world would have been rocked last year when we watched our son struggle in the hospital three separate times. For me His goodness looked like the ability to have peace in that storm. I was secure in His promises because of the intentional relationship He led me to build with Him.
With my natural tendencies to fear, worry, and ask “why,” it is not always simple to assume that God really knows what He is doing with me. There are times I am tempted to panic and bolt. But despite this attitude, I am so glad He does not give up. His goodness and mercy are new to me everyday.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” Psalm 23:6a
Paul tells us in Romans 8:15 that living as a child of God means we have an intimate, joyful relationship with God. A child of God can have a relationship with God so close that they may cry out, “Abba, Father” (Daddy!). As our father, God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we need before we even know how to ask for it. The Holy Spirit’s help in intercession is perfect because He searches the hearts of those whom He helps, and He is able to guide our prayers according to the will of God. When we are weak, and do not know exactly how we should pray, God Himself (through the Holy Spirit) helps by interceding for us.
There are times when I am sure I act like a whiny tired two year old before God. Just today, I was in literal tears during my prayer time, telling God I didn’t know what I needed but that I knew He did. I take comfort in knowing that the Spirit helps me in my weakness. That even when I don’t know exactly what I need or how to get it, I can go to God in prayer confident that He knows my every need.
Friend, if you are struggling with how to pray today, don’t be afraid to sit in silence with God. He knows what you need, whether you know how to say it or not. Find a way to draw closer to Him today and just sit in His presence. You can trust that He will meet you and align your spirit with His truth. Rest in the comfort of knowing that He understands you better than you even understand yourself.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)
Since He was fully man, think of all the worries that could have kept Jesus awake. He could have worried about His family and the disciples, or the increasing crowds with their overwhelming needs, or the future because He knew what His destiny was. The disciples were frustrated that Jesus was sleeping in the midst of chaos, but He was able to be at peace because He knew God is sovereign.
However, it was the disciples who awoke Jesus, not the wind, the waves, or the rocking of the boat. It was the cry of His disciples. The disciples were aware that even though they were helpless in the storm, Jesus was not, so they went to him. We, too, have the privilege to cry out to God when we feel helpless.
Jesus rebuked the winds and waves saying “Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39) The force of the sea was silenced as Jesus restrained it with his sovereign word of authority.
As the world becomes more and more unstable, it’s easy to get sucked into the storm of fear and worry. In this world we will have trouble, but we can hold onto the peace that comes from knowing our good God is still in control. We can cry out to God when the worries mount and have faith knowing that He will hear our cry. He has the authority and power to calm any storm in which we find ourselves.
Jesus was able to sleep because of the peace that was within Him. As a mom, it is easy to worry about my family daily and before I know it, I get wrapped up or distracted in those worries. In order to fully embrace the beautiful moments around that God has given me, I have to have that same peace within me.
In order to have that peace, God has been showing me just how important it is to hand my worries over to Him. First Peter 5:7 says to “Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.” So today, I invite you to do just that.. Cry out to God; give Him your worries and invite Him into your life and ask Him to calm the storm that is raging inside of you.
“He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.” Psalm 107:29 (NIV)
So how can we trust that God will come through with His promise even when from our vantage point things look hopeless? The whole point of promises is to build trust and God left us with a Bible full of fulfilled promises. When faced with a hopeless situation, we can turn our attention from the anxieties of this world and instead focus on the fulfilled promises of God.
A couple of verses later, in Jeremiah 29:13 God says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” This amazing promise from our righteous holy God to sinful people echoes a promise in Deut. 4:29, “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.” And it remains true even to the present day as Jesus said in John 6:37, “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”
God will not hide from His people when they seek Him. This promise is echoed throughout the Bible many times. Even though we can’t see the whole picture that God sees, we do have access to a bigger picture than the Israelites did. A better vantage point! We can see the thread of this promise woven throughout scripture.
Are you facing a hopeless situation today? Remember God’s promise of peace and plenty, and ask God to lead you to a better vantage point.
"God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" Numbers 23:19 (NIV)
Living the life of a shepherd and nomad, Moses learned about the ways of the people he would eventually be called to lead and also about life in the desert. Moses couldn’t appreciate this lesson, but God was preparing him to free Israel from Pharaoh's grasp.
In Exodus 4, God asks Moses what was in his hand. He then proceeds to use what Moses had which was a shepherd's staff. God likes to use our past experiences along with what is in our hand. Moses’ years of tending sheep were not useless. God used those years to place experiences in Moses’ life that he could later draw on to bring God glory. Moses was a shepherd and he always carried a staff. So what did God use to show his miraculous signs? What Moses already had in his hand! Moses just had to lean in and trust God with what was there. A simple stick, but with obedience and trust that staff will go on to help Moses lead God’s people out of bondage.
Moses wasn’t just a prince or just a shepherd, his past occupation didn’t define him. God made him for more. It is so easy for me to question if all of nursing school and my time working as a nurse was just wasted years. But the truth is that God prepares us in ways that we may not understand. Those years of learning and working in the medical field were not useless. When I had a high risk pregnancy and my son spent two months in the NICU, my background in nursing helped me immensely. The years I spent taking care of new babies as a nurse helped me to not be as scared as a first-time mom. The care and compassion I learned while taking care of patients is something that I still use to this day.
I am learning to trust God to use what I have in my hands and the knowledge I carry from my past. Just like Moses I am not defined by my past occupation. I am not just a nurse or just a mom. God also made me for more. I don’t know if I will ever go back to working as a nurse, but I know that God will continue to use that time of my life and those experiences for what He has planned for me.
God uses the ordinary things in our lives for extraordinary purposes! So friend, what do you have in your hand? Something from today or something from your past. It can be a pen, a broom, a book, a stethoscope, a classroom. Remember, God made you for more as well and if we lean in and trust God with these ordinary everyday things, God can do immeasurable things not only for us but also in the lives of others! The decision Moses made by the burning bush to lean in and trust God saved an entire nation.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)
Truly knowing someone takes time and intention; it doesn’t happen overnight with the snap of a finger. We experience this not only in our marriages but also in our everyday lives. I don’t meet someone on the street and instantly know their whole story and what makes them the person they are. However, when I was younger, I thought because I went to church every Sunday, I knew everything there was to know about Jesus. But here I am at 32 still learning new things about Him everyday. For that, I am so grateful and it never ceases to amaze me when God reveals something new to me.
In Mark 9, we see Jesus and his disciples leave where they were. Verse 30 says that “Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were because he was teaching his disciples.” Jesus took the time to train his disciples in depth. He spent intentional time with them and they with Him. Deep spiritual growth isn’t instant, regardless of the quality of experience or teaching. The disciples lived, ate and traveled with Jesus every day. If they needed to lay everything aside periodically in order to learn from the Master, how much more do we need to set aside time to spend with God to get to know Him better?
As I write this, my husband and I have been married almost ten years. In order for us to have a healthy marriage, we have to continue being intentional about pouring into our relationship and spending time together. The same is true of our relationship with Christ. No matter where we are in our spiritual journey, no matter how mature we are in our faith, we still have room for growth.
Friend, if you want to know more about Jesus, find a way to draw closer to Him today. For you, maybe that is reading a chapter in Proverbs, listening to a new worship song in the car, or spending an extra five minutes in prayer today. To know Jesus better, return to Him day after day. He will continue to meet you and align your spirit with His truth. Rest in the comfort of knowing that the longer you walk with him, the better you will understand who He is. Ask Him to meet you where you are and reveal more of himself to you.
Memory Verse: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18
When I first started seeing these things within me clearly, my thoughts jumped to “God how can this be? I felt like I was growing closer to you and strengthening my relationship with you. Now I see all these sins evident in my life.” I felt defeated and unworthy. Then I felt the Spirit say, “This is what you prayed for; now let me help you.”
As David cried out in Psalm 139, with desperation to grow closer to God, we, too, can do the same. If we truly mean the prayer, we have to understand that we will probably not like the results. How are we to recognize hidden sin unless God points it out? If God never revealed the sin in our life that we try so hard to cover up, then how would we be able to fix it?
These revelations of sin don’t make us more distant from God, but rather is what is needed for us to recognize how we still have a ways to go. He does not reveal it to us to condemn us or make us hate ourselves. Instead He does it to set us free and draw us closer to him. Confession, repentance and reconciliation bring us into a deeper relationship with God.
Those revelations scared me at first, and made me feel unworthy; however, I am now thankful for them. Because now that I am more aware, I can repent and ask for forgiveness. I can also be more mindful of when I am tempted in the areas that have been revealed and ask the Holy Spirit to guide me. This acknowledgement, confession, repentance, and reconciliation has continued to draw me closer to God.
Christ is truly with us to lead us, heal us, and forgive us. We are not called to dwell in our sins and past mistakes, this only further discourages us. Instead, we are called to dwell in the love of Jesus and allow Him to lead us in the way everlasting. After all, He is the One who has paid for all sin.
Trust me, I know this is a dangerous prayer, but I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to guide you through these last two verses of Psalm 139. This prayer has only deepened my relationship with our Heavenly Father. Invite the investigation of your innermost self. Ask Him to reveal the things that you may not even know about yourself. No matter what He reveals to you, and how hard it is to see, He will be faithful to lead you in the way everlasting. To Him you are completely worth it, so much so that He gave His life for you.
Memory Verse: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
We were told many times that having a baby in the NICU was a test of patience. During those weeks, there were many days that I just could not see through to the other side of this trial.
When we read James 1, notice he doesn’t say, “IF you face trials,” but “WHENEVER you face trials.” Trials in this life aren’t meant to break us, but to strengthen our perseverance. The point is not to pretend to be happy when we face pain, but to have a positive outlook because of what trials can produce in our lives. When we find ourselves entering times of trouble or sudden change, we can take comfort in knowing that God has it under control and there is a purpose for our pain. We must choose to learn and grow in our present circumstances, whatever they may be. Face each day with the assurance that God will be with us and see us through.
In the middle of the scariest time of our lives, God was right there. He was not worried or wondering or asking “why?”. He knew exactly what was going on and where we would go from there. He used each trial we went through to prepare us and produce the strength we needed for the next trial. The five weeks I spent in the hospital, away from Brianna and trying to keep Brayden in the womb, helped prepare me for the weeks that he was in the NICU and I had to split my time between home and the hospital.
Yes, we had a very challenging season, but we also got to witness some amazing miracles firsthand. With God by our sides, my husband and I were able to navigate this season on His strength. Not only did he strengthen Brayden, but he strengthened us.
In September of 2020, after what seemed like an eternity of ups and downs, we got to bring our sweet, healthy baby boy home to meet his sister. That, my friend, is nothing less than a miraculous testament to the faithfulness of the loving God we serve.
Friend, if you are in the middle of a trial or a time of waiting right now, rest in the comfort of knowing that God loves us too much to answer our prayers at any other time than His time and in any other way than His way. He is with you, whether you see it right now or not. Ask Him to help you trust in His plan for your life and place your fears in His hands, knowing that He is strengthening you while you walk through this trial with Him.
Memory Verse: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3 NIV
The book of Esther is an example of God’s divine guidance and care over our lives. God’s sovereignty and power are seen throughout this book. Although we may question certain circumstances in our lives, we must have faith that God is in control, working through both the pleasant and difficult times so that we can serve him effectively. Esther’s circumstances may seem coincidental; however, they were part of God’s grand design. It may have seemed coincidental that Esther was placed on the throne, or that Mordecai uncovered a conspiracy, or the king was not be able to sleep and decided to review the history of his reign, and just so happened to stumble upon the truth of Mordecai’s good deed. However, the truth is that God was at work.
Around the time we moved to Kansas we were also struggling with infertility. Once we got settled in Kansas, I started a new job that through a series of events led me to a fertility specialist who helped us get pregnant with our first child. It would be easy to say that those events were merely circumstantial, but I know that God had it all planned from way before we even knew we were moving to Kansas. God also prepared a place for us there. He provided us with a wonderful home, a beautiful church community that quickly became our second family and so many amazing friendships that I still cherish to this day. I could talk all day long about the blessings that move brought me.
God is always at work. God has been working quietly and patiently throughout your life as well. The events that have come together for good are not mere coincidence; they are the result of God’s sovereign control over the course of your life.
If you are changing jobs, position, or location and can’t see God’s purpose in your situation, rest in the truth that God is in control. Where you are is not a coincidence. I believe God has placed us all, intentionally, where we are for “such a time as this.” God may be placing you in a position so you can help when the need arises. Look for God’s hand at work in your life, and trust that God will be faithful to complete His good work in and through you.
Memory Verse: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV
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