One bright morning several years ago, I hurried around the kitchen with a baby on my hip while the three older kids ate their breakfast discussing their backyard plans for the day, when the phone rang.
I picked up the phone and heard my husband’s much too controlled voice say, “Well, I had my appointment with the liver specialist today.”
“And?” I replied cautiously quickly growing concerned.
“The good news is that I am in a really great place for a liver transplant. The bad news is that I may need one,” he said way too casually. “I have Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Deficiency which causes non-alcoholics cirrhosis and non-smoker’s emphysema. The doctor said it looks like I am in the beginning stages of cirrhosis. My lungs may be affected as well.”
He was 30 years old.
My mind would not process what he was saying and everything went into slow motion. We had just regained our footing after a series of devastating events, including having a stillborn daughter. Numb, I went through the rest of my day. It would be six weeks of testing and waiting for results before we would know what exactly what we were dealing with. I had seen God walk us through many things, but with this news I was doubting God’s trustworthiness.
That day began a six week process of God repositioning my hope. I had my hope all wrapped up in the wrong things. When our hope is dependent on our circumstances, we will not be anchored when difficulties come.
During those six weeks, I would sense Him asking at all hours of the day and even in the middle of the night, “Am I enough?” At first, my honest answer was, “No. No, You are not at all.” I knew the church answer, but church answers weren’t working. I knew if God were asking, He already knew the answer, and it was pointless to give the ‘right’ one.
After a couple of weeks, I opened my heart a tiny bit in response to the constant question, and with what little trust I had at the time, I said, “You’re not, but I want you to be.” I, at least, was open to the possibility that somehow God could be enough even in the unthinkable possibility of losing John or going through very difficult health issues.
God began to shift my hope from having a healthy family to Him. He reminded me of the things He had walked us through, and how He had filled every empty place. By the end of the sixth week, I was able to say with confidence, “You are enough,” even though I still didn’t know what the future held. Thankfully and miraculously, there has been no progression of the disease in seven years.
In those six weeks, the Father gave me a beautiful gift. The gift of repositioned hope. My fear of losing John that I had struggled with since the day we married strangely went away and was replaced with a trust in the One Who is good and kind. He does indeed hold my life. It may not always look like I was hoping it would, and it may hold some unexpected and painful twists, but He will never leave. His comfort can match my greatest despair. In the world we live in,that is comforting. Hope in Him brings joy and peace in difficult circumstances. I’ve seen it in countless beautiful lives around me.
He is the immovable, unshakable God who is altogether dependable. We may not understand all of the things happening in our lives or some of the losses we experience, but He sees all from beginning to end and can make something beautiful out of the ashes.
There are so many things that we put our hope in other than Him, and He is constantly wanting to show us those places, so our hope is not in the temporary, but is truly and fully in Him. As we give Him those places, we find ourselves more and more free.
What are you finding your hope in today?
Word of the Day: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Father, I give You my situation and all of my fears. Thank You that You know the beginning and end of this story -- both my story and the larger story that You are writing. Help me to trust in You. I chose to put my hope in You. Please show me what that looks like in the situation I am facing right now. I know that You are good, and that You are the author of My life.
Author: Wendy Gerdes
Have you ever noticed that as soon as you get situated or comfortable with your child’s routine, it changes again?
My toddler is ever-changing. As soon as we establish a nap schedule, eating habit, or cleanup routine, they’re quickly thrown out the window. He’s just recently decided that bedtime should be pushed back by an hour or so. We’ve been struggling to get him back into his normal routine. It means putting him back in his bed over and over again. He, however, is quite happy with his latest sleep schedule! The more we thought about it, the more we realized he’s his happiest in the evenings! With the longer days we get to send that much more time with him and he sleeps in an extra hour in the morning which means more quiet time for me in the morning.
As I was thinking on these things the other day, I realized that my relationship with the Lord should be much the same. The word says that God is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He is constantly guiding us and showing us how we need to grow (Psalm 32:8).
But if I’m honest, I often become routine in my walk with him. If left up to me, I would stay in this comfortable place. The truth is that I need to be stirred, shaken and thrown off of my game sometimes to avoid complacency.
This shaking and stirring can sometimes can be painful. Trials reveal our weaknesses and beseech us to change. But most of the time we don’t recognize this-- we just want to be delivered from our situation. But there is much-needed growth and blessings behind discovering our shortcomings.
In order for the Lord to bring us to the next place he has for us, in order for us to experience his plan and blessings in our lives, we must keep growing and be shaken from our complacently. When we are flexible with change and vulnerable in front of the Lord, he can truly mold us and shape us into the useful vessel He desires us to be.
Let’s not allow fear of leaving our comfort-zone, where we meet in our small groups each week, yet never really reach out to those who are lost and alone, or fear of pain or inconvenience keep us at a stand-still.
Let’s begin asking the Lord, What in me needs to be stirred so that your plan may be fulfilled in my life?”
And as we become shaken and stirred, let us fix our eyes on Jesus and allow him to produce in us that priceless inward change that perfects us more and more into His likeness.
Word of the Day:
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Heavenly Father, I’m so thankful that I can have an intimate relationship with you, and that you openly reveal your desires for my life. Help me to step out of my comfort zone. Stir my heart for what you would have me to do. Give me grace and courage to overcome my weakness, that I may grow more fully into the disciple you’ve called me to be. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Author: Amanda Becker
“...but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.”
Luke 2:19 (NLT)
“...and his mother kept and closely and persistently
guarded all these things in her heart.”
Luke 2:51 (AMP)
I recently began a journey through the book of Luke, studying the life and ministry of Jesus. Since we “steer where we stare” (Lysa Terkeurst, The Best Yes), I must look upon the life of Christ if I want my life to look more like His.
And I do. I really do.
Today, the verses above stuck out to me, and I began to meditate on them. Why would Luke add twice that Mary “kept”, “guarded”, and “treasured” things in her heart?
The events at the stable.
The words of the righteous man (Simeon).
The praises of the prophet (Anna).
And the actions of her son.
Mary treasured the prophetic words. She noted His obedience, His passions, His strengths, and what God had to say about Him.
As parents, it’s easy to become desensitized to the potential in our children.
It’s easy to allow the labels others put on them, their disobedient actions, their bad reports and weaknesses to steal our faith that God has an incredible plan for their lives. A plan that is “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).
We must become like Mary. We must learn to treasure.
We must spend time asking God, “What do You say about my child?” and then listen. And write down the vision (Habakkuk 2:2).
We must note their strengths. Their passions. Their personalities.
We must get in His Word and meditate on His promises about them. Then, we must speak those promises in whispered prayers in the moments where we’re tempted to believe otherwise.
We must speak life when the world speaks what it sees. Because “the tongue has the power of life and death,”we must speak what God says. We must speak life.
All these things...
We must keep and closely and persistently guard all these things in our hearts.
Our children need us to be for them, not against them…
After all, isn’t that was Christ does for us?
Instead of focusing on our current frustrations with our children, whether it be a personality quirk, a developmental stage, a moral failure, or something just irritating in general, let’s be diligent to remember God’s promises concerning them. Some great Bible verses are Jeremiah 29:11, 2 Corinthians 2:9, and Proverbs 16:3. Instead of speaking hopeless, shaming words, let’s speak life.
You are a child of God. (Galatians 3:26)
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. (Philippians 4:13)
You are the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14)
As we begin to see our children the way God sees them, we are freed to treasure them for all that they are and forget all that they are not.
Keep, guard, and treasure your gifts today.
Father, thank You for the gift of my child. Thank You that You have hand-woven every part of his/her body, personality, and passions for Your purpose. Help me to treasure all that You have made them to be. I thank You that You have an incredible future for him/her, and I speak blessings and life over him/her, today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Author: Katie Gibson
Every now and again I find myself in a wrestling match. It’s a tension between knowing His promises but not seeing the reality of them. I came across this verse, and it brought some peace to me: "But we are different, because our citizenship is in heaven. And from there we eagerly await the coming of the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20).
We are citizens of heaven. We are being made into the likeness of our holy God more and more every day. While the transformation is not complete, we do see glimpses of Kingdom life.. We read His promises and see His provision in greater and greater ways.
Yet here we are on the earth. We see people get hurt, enslaved, killed. We see our homeland assaulted by terrorism. We see our leaders argue and assault each others’ hearts. This is not our home. It's growing more and more hostile here. I'm not sure it's worse than times long ago, but it seems worse to me...perhaps because I've transferred my citizenship to heaven... perhaps because my measuring stick is Christ. My grid is the Kingdom. My focus is becoming the permanent instead of the temporal.
And when it isn't...that's when I fall into the wrestling match. I do those things which I don't want to do. I agree with unfavorable thoughts and my focus gets shifted to something of lesser worth. I overreact to my circumstances;I get frustrated with myself and the way I respond to it all;I fall out of rhythm in my dance with God; my faith weakens. "Why so downcast oh my soul? Trust in God" is the psalm that passes through my mind.
And so I focus in on the scriptures, and I turn on the worship music. I begin to remember that I know God is good and God is present. God is sovereign. He is faithful. He is just. He is peace, and He is love. And He has promised salvation to those who trust in Him. His word doesn't return void but accomplishes what it was meant to. I remember that my life is in His. And I am comforted and my focus realigned.
Sometimes I need my brothers and sisters to redirect my thoughts. In a place of prayer and ministry, I am refreshed and renewed. I get back on track and regain my steadiness. Encouragement from fellow believers is essential to my walk. I need them.
If you find yourself caught in this tension, take heart.
While the world may be wasting away, we who are in Christ can wholeheartedly trust the One who is faithful and true to save, heal, and deliver us from the clutches of evil.
One day we will walk in unhindered freedom. One day we will walk where the streets are gold and the lion lays down with the lamb. One day we will have every tear wiped away. One day there will be perfect peace and joy and love, and we will live in harmony.
That is our hope.
That is what helps us endure the wait.
Word of the Day:
But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.
Lord, help us trust in and wait for Your return to bring us to our true home with You. Help us to run our race here with courage. Give us a steadfast spirit. Give us eyes to see You in everything. We need You and love You. Amen.
Author: Kerri Barfield
My mastery of second-guessing myself didn’t end when I became a mom.
If anything, it became worse.
I second-guessed what the kids ate for lunch.
I wondered if my three-year-old should be writing his name by now, like some other children his age.
When the endless sibling rivalry turned physical, I thought, Didn’t I teach them better than this? Will they ever get along?
Sometimes the worst critics are the ones running on repeat inside our heads.
We teach our kids to share, to love their neighbor, and to show respect, but when we don’t see the fruits of our labor, we question whether anything we say is sinking in.
We’re told in Proverbs to “train up a child in the way he should go” but when we don’t see visible results, we wonder what we’re doing wrong.
Instead of living in the present, we second-guess the past.
A couple of weeks ago, God gave me a push of encouragement along with a wake-up call. My husband and I had tucked the kids in for the night and were settled into our comfy spots in the family room. With the soft orange glow from the table lamp, we read our devotional app and talked about its subject, prayer.
The teaching gave a blueprint: Begin with thanks and repentance, then present your requests to God in Jesus’ name.
As we sat there talking, my mind went to our kids. Were we teaching them enough about prayer? My husband, as if reading my inner thoughts, said,
“Do you know what our son did tonight?”
“No.” (And I secretly wondered if I wanted to.)
“He thanked God for a good day at school and time playing at home. Then he asked God to place his hand on Coco and heal her.”
Coco, our dog, had been struggling to walk for last couple of days. At fourteen years and counting, she wasn’t as limber as she used to be.
Listening to my husband describe our son’s prayer, eyes welled up with tears. Here was our seven-year-old, modeling the exact form of prayer Jesus used with his disciples. And he wasn’t thinking of himself. He wasn’t asking for a new Lego set or a video game.
He was petitioning on behalf of our dog.
Even through all my doubt and questioning, God was working in the heart of our son.We were doing what we could do, but God was moving this little seven-year-old’s heart in ways only he could.
When we second-guess the past, we often miss what God is doing in the present.
Parenting is a tough road. There are days when we wonder if anything we are saying or doing is making a difference. In moments of frustration, it’s easy to play the past on repeat.
That night, God gave me an invitation to live in the now. To be present with my son as he prayed and grew and loved.
No matter what the future holds, I don’t want to miss the now.
Author: Abby McDonald