fear, faith, trust, oath, preparation, prepared, God’s promises, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Faith Over Preparation: Can Preparation Get in the Way of Trusting God?

Preparation is not a wrong value, but it is when I put it over faith. God has made an oath to His children and He can be trusted. We can have faith beyond our preparation.



Preparation is something I value. But with 4 kids, it can be fleeting. I mean as in impossible

Preparation is not a wrong value, but it is when I put it over faith. God has made an oath to His children and He can be trusted. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #fear #faith #oath #preparation #trust #promise

Distanced Rally

It was 6:30 in the morning. My daughter was texting me that her load of clothes for school had just come out of the dryer with ink all over them.

“Ruined,” she said. “What can I do?” she asked.

“Is your Dad dead?” I asked.

Silence. 30 minutes later she calls…

“You didn’t order my lunch.”

The lunch she has to order because she is at a charter school that only buys enough food for what is ordered and paid for. Yikes. She is realizing this as she and my husband are walking out the door.

Did I mention I am 10 hours away? I’m about to move her brother out of the hospital, into a Ronald McDonald house to stay for 2 months and I am beyond scared. So, what do I do? I panic, and panic for me looks like a ‘rally the troops’ situation. In an effort to fix the problem, I message, Facebook, and text everybody I know in the county. It’s full-blown attack mode. Solve the problem. Find a solution. Plug somebody into the problem. I can’t figure this out.

Preparation’s Oath

Then I get it. I wanted this problem off my radar because the problem with my son was really demanding my attention. But, if I am honest, this whole situation was really revealing a bigger problem. Could I trust God with even this?

See, my husband and I are really good together. He does a lot of stuff and I do a lot of stuff. I can, however, kind of try to overcompensate. Ok, take over. It starts small and before I know it, I just do it all. He doesn’t ask me to. He doesn’t expect me to. It’s really a subtle irony. Rodney is maybe the easiest-to-please-person I know.

But, I’m not. I want to feel productive, prepared, together. I like knowing I took care of things…10 hours away. I couldn’t take care of things. The fear ruling my heart: Would I be able to replace the clothes if they were ruined? Budget is tight. Things are scarce. God had already had people step up and buy these school clothes once. What was I going to do? Trust that if she needed more clothes that He was and is big enough to supply them again.

God’s Oath

As long as I am responsible for the clothes, or my son’s health for that matter, I will be racked with fear. Fear is not a happy place to be. It says it’s up to me. But thankfully the cross says a different story! God’s oath to us:

So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

Hebrews 6:18-19, NLT

Jesus tore the veil that stood between God and myself, so I could trust in something greater than the Law. The law, which says I have to measure up and be good enough.

Faith over Preparation

Any time I think that I am about to look less than good enough, I have to remember Who is better than and not just good enough. I think this is summed up beautifully in the hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”:

And though this world, with devils filled
Should threaten to undo us
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us
The Prince of Darkness grim
We tremble not for him
His rage we can endure
For lo his doom is sure
One little word shall fell him.

I know for me, confidence in 3 words is beyond enough. Jesus uttered the words, “It is finished.” Hallelujah! I am grateful that He reminds me over and over. I can trust Him with inky clothes, with a sick child, with being 10 hours away, with my sin, with my future. Thankfully, you can too! Faith over preparation!

Fear is not a happy place to be. It says it’s up to 'me'. But thankfully the cross says a different story! Click To Tweet

Preparation is not a wrong value, but it is when I put it over faith. God has made an oath to His children and He can be trusted. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #fear #faith #oath #preparation #trust #promise

unsplash-logoPeter Oswald
Suffering, beauty, hope, weakness, weaknesses, disappointment, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Produces: Christ Uses Our Disappointments and Creates Beauty

Disappointments and ugliness we want to be washed away, are often opportunities God uses to create beauty. Our suffering produces a steadfast hope.



…We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope.

Romans 5:3-4, ESV

Disappointments and ugliness we want to be washed away, are often opportunities God uses to create beauty. Our suffering produces a steadfast hope. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #beauty #disappointment #hope #suffering #weakness #weaknesses

Unruly Ground

There has been an unruly area of ground in my backyard. A tree had fallen a few years ago during an ice storm, causing me all kinds of anxiety. And another smaller tree was leaning over ready to topple at any minute.

I had a college student cut up as much as his small chain saw could handle. But, he had to leave behind the fallen trunk of the tree. Every time I cut our grass, I circle the tree and its fallen stump. I mutter and grimace about the day I finally have my nice yard back.

Need for Peace

This past year, I bought some seed to plant. They were wildflowers- pollinators. The kind I love because they encourage bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

In the early morning, I love sitting outside with my coffee and the scriptures to read, think, and pray. I knew these flowers would be just what my yard needed to encourage all of this. A quiet space of restoration and peace.

Need to Dream

I wanted to plant my seeds, but I tend to get overwhelmed when an area is too big. My friend Lisa has been gardening for a long time, so I asked for her input on my yard. I needed some help dreaming. Where did my seed need to go? How could I make it the place I needed to send my thoughts toward God.

I thought I knew the spot, but I was very wrong. Lisa headed for the stump. The one I had brooded and whined over. The one I knew had to go. “Look,” she said, “This is perfect. The stump frames a semi-circle.”

Rich Fertile Ground

She was right, of course. Where the tree had fallen, leaves had covered and nurtured the soil. The ground was soft, easy to dig, and rich. Much richer than the red clay everywhere else. 

However, it still was not an easy spot to work in. There were lots of roots and it needed conditioning. But the very piece of wood I wanted out, was what gave this bed its structure. It grounded the space.

Mind on Truth

I too often see this for myself. The very disappointment, characteristic, or person I want to go, is the very opportunity Christ is using to develop, to sanctify, and to bring beauty from ashes.

I love how God used my friend to point me to the very stump I was despairing, to bring beauty to an area I desperately wanted. I see the body of Christ do this often in my life. They point me to what is true, what is real, what is possible. Christ is showing up in the very areas I want to be removed. He is enough so I do not have to be. I fool myself into thinking I can be. But, even on my best days, I am in need of the One who prepares a way and makes the paths straight.

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10, ESV
Disappointments, characteristics, and ugliness we want wiped clean, are the very opportunities Christ uses to develop, sanctify, and create beauty. Click To Tweet

His Ways are not Mine

What force in your life are you looking at with disdain? What area of your life do you wish would go away and fly right? Could this be the very place Christ is producing rich soil in you? Look to Him who goes before us. Ask for His help and His wisdom.

Disappointments and ugliness we want to be washed away, are often opportunities God uses to create beauty. Our suffering produces a steadfast hope. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #beauty #disappointment #hope #suffering #weakness #weaknesses

unsplash-logoJacalyn Beales
Heaven, home, travelers, faith, pain, suffering, hope, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Travelers: Resting in the Truth, This World is not Our Home

Whether we move around or stay in one place, feeling at home can be difficult. As Christians, we are travelers passing through this perishable world, trying to reach our true home.



I am a traveler and an exile. This is not my home, but I can still live in the confidence that my Father is good and just.

Whether we move around or stay in one place, we are travelers passing through this perishable world to reach our true home...Jesus. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #home #heaven #earth #faith #travelers #hope

Where is My Home?

This year I will celebrate a milestone. It is the longest time my husband and I have lived in any one location. 8 years and as I think about what it means to have a home and to be a part of a place, I keep coming back to the time I spent in 1 Peter. The exiles, sojourners, and the travelers he wrote to knew what it was like to be in a country that did not want them. Where the political climate felt unnerving at best, and unsafe at its worst.

I have lived away from home in the sense that my husband and I have lived in a few states- Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, South Carolina. So, I learned really quickly to make a home wherever he was and wherever my children slept. I was often “not from around here” and learning the systems spoken and unspoken has taken some time to understand. Some I never did pick up on.

This is not My Home

I am not just a traveler in the earthly sense, though. I am a heavenly traveler too. This is earth not my home and Peter reminds us of this truth over and over again in 1 Peter.

Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

1 Peter 1:23

Why do we forget? Why do I make this earth and all that it has to offer so valuable? I think Jesus knew our flesh would be tempted to depend on what we could see, touch and contain. He reminded His disciples…

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

I Forget

Jesus knew we would face temptations and trials. He knew our frame –that we were dust and frail and prone to give up and give in. But, He still called us…

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:9

He Reminds Me

Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2:10

No matter where I lay my head, I am His and I have an eternal home in heaven. As I have gotten older, I long for heaven more. I grow weary of seeing people I love suffer through illness and fear. I see sadness and overwhelming grief. But, I have also seen God’s hand move in ways I would have never dreamed was possible, in spite of me and my unbelief. How can we find hope in the midst of such uncertainty? I think we trust in the example that our Savior gave us…

When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

1 Peter 2:23b

While We are Travelers, We Can Trust Him

Jesus had every right to demand better treatment. He was God. He had every reason to want obedience and worship. But, He knew that He had a good Father that He would trust with His very life. And so do I. When my life is not making sense, I can lean into Him. I can trust that He sees the whole picture and knows me and knows best.

This is not blind faith. It is faith informed by His word. What do you need help releasing that is really just perishable, won’t last, can’t satisfy? He bore our sins so we could die to sin and live to righteousness. Jesus is our home.

No matter where we lay our heads, we are His and have an eternal home in heaven. What do you need help releasing that is really just perishable? He bore our sins so we could die to sin and live to righteousness. Jesus is our home. Click To Tweet

Whether we move around or stay in one place, we are travelers passing through this perishable world to reach our true home...Jesus. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #home #heaven #earth #faith #travelers #hope

All scripture references come from the English Standard Version.
unsplash-logoGabrielle Rocha Rios
weakness, weak, strength, empty, grace, emptiness, enough, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Weak: When We are Empty, God’s Strength is Enough

When we feel weak, Christ is the strength we need to serve out of our emptiness. He is enough especially because we are not.



Perception

I love giving feedback especially when it is good. Recently, a few of us threw a wedding shower and it was so beautiful. The decorations were lovely, the games were a ton of fun, and the atmosphere was relaxing and cozy.

I texted both of the girls I had worked with and told them what a fabulous job they had done. One of them quickly replied that she was sorry for the mess her house had been in when we got there. That she truly felt like her efforts were just being drug out of an empty well with a too full season. But, she was wrong.

When we feel weak, Christ is the strength we need to serve out of our emptiness. He is enough especially because we are not. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #empty #enough #weakness #strength

Am I Weak?

What does living out of emptiness look like? I mean, let’s be honest, none of us is really looking for that kind of serving. We would rather be serving out of plenty, fullness, more than enough.

I am often drawn to the stories in scripture of the widow’s mite or the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair. These women used what they had and it was lavish. Jesus does not say that the mite wasn’t enough because the offering was small. He knew that is all she had and it mattered to him.

Empty

I had a similar experience…

I spend a lot of my day thinking and praying for people. It really is a gift and I don’t take it for granted. I was driving by a friend’s business and was prompted to pray and text her. Weeks later, I heard the rest of the story.

It was a difficult day. A difficult hour. It was right on time to point my friend to Jesus. Now, let me set you straight right now. I am not special. In fact, if my friend had not shared this with me, I would have kept on feeling pretty useless.

Right now, I could not be more depleted, more emotionally empty. I really don’t have much…

He is Enough

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  

2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NLT

But, Christ does not expect me to work out of my own strength. Am I the only one who feels that way? I think I have to have all the answers and all the ability. I’m pretty sure the Gospel verifies that I do not have any answers for myself.

He Knows Me

I gently texted my friend back a reminder: When we think things are falling out of our control, that is when we can serve in our own emptiness. We can know that He fills us and uses us through His own strength.

I, myself, need this reminder.

I am so tempted to believe that God wanted me because I was worthy or useful. When the opposite is true. He loved me when I was an enemy. And He loves me now when I think I need to have it all together. His desire is for me to rely on His strength because He knows I am weak. He knew that then, He knows it now, and His opinion is still one of grace and love. That is who He is and for that I am grateful.

God desires us to rely on His strength in our weakness. He knows we can't and don't have it all together but His opinion is still of grace and love. Click To Tweet

When we feel weak, Christ is the strength we need to serve out of our emptiness. He is enough especially because we are not. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #empty #enough #weakness #strength

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt
expectations, resentment, promise, pursued, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Expect: Counting on God’s Promises Not the World’s

It can be easy to expect our due rewards if we follow all the rules. God does not promise an easy life or guarantee earthly rewards. He does promise to pursue and love us even though we don’t deserve it. 



There’s a story in scripture most commonly known as the prodigal son. Tim Keller calls it the story of the two sons in his book The Prodigal God. I know I read the book when it first came out, but I read it again recently and it touched a tender spot in me…

It can be easy to expect our due rewards if we follow all the rules. God doesn't guarantee earthly rewards but He does promise to pursue and love us. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #resentment #expectation #promise #pursued

Rule Follower

Jesus tells a story about a man who had two sons (Luke 15:11-32). One son asked for his inheritance then took it to live loosely and fast. When this son wakes up and all the money is gone, he decides to return to his father and ask for forgiveness. The father forgives the wayward son and throws a massive celebration. A celebration that causes the son who stayed behind to be irritated and upset. I am that older son.

Keller says that people tend to fall into two camps. They look for satisfaction in either moral conformity or personal discovery. It’s pretty easy to see which one I fall into. I have always been a rule follower. I liked coloring in the lines, knowing how things are going to turn out, and depending on clear expectations. Knowing I can expect a + b = c. But, most of us know life doesn’t work this way…

Does It Matter?

There are really very few things we can count on. The older I get the more I know this to be true. As a young person, I poured myself into education, my children, my home. These weren’t bad things. I put my efforts there because I knew the scriptures commanded it. But my heart was not in line with my obedience and this is a problem.

I don’t know why it is hard for me to believe that I am unconditionally loved and accepted, but it is. I see that in the things that make me angry and discouraged. When one of my children struggles, I can quickly think: I don’t deserve this. The older brother was mired in this type of thinking. He told his father, “I have not even asked for so much as a goat” (Luke 15:29). This really cuts to the quick. Inherent in this conversation is a realization that all of his hard work didn’t seem to matter; that the son who left and wasted resources still got a celebration.

What to Expect

There is another parable similar to it where a man hires workers (Matthew 20:1-16). Each worker is hired later and later in the day and when the day is over, they all receive the same pay. The ones hired in the morning are pretty upset that they do not get more than the ones hired later. But, the manager says, “Did I not clearly tell you what to expect?” (Matthew 20:13).

Hasn’t Christ clearly told me what to expect. There will be suffering in this world. He will see me through to the end. I am loved with an everlasting love. I can quickly think I am not getting what I deserve. But there’s something better. Something I cannot see with my eyes or touch with my hands.

Never forget your promises to me your servant, for they are my only hope. They give me strength in all my troubles; how they refresh and revive me! Proud men hold me in contempt for obedience to God, but I stand unmoved.

Psalm 119:49-51, NLT

What can I do when I find myself angry that others get what I want or think I deserve? I confess it to Him, who wants to celebrate with me. He knows I will be tempted to rely on my own righteousness and this will cause me to fall into despair and even pride. But the Father was generous and patient with both sons. He wanted both sons to come to celebrate.

This world has a way of making us think we aren't getting what we deserve. But God promises something better. Something we cannot see with our eyes or touch with our hands. Click To Tweet

Pursued

God knows my heart and how tempted I am to rely on something besides His cross. He knows I am tempted to rely on my own ability to do the right thing until I just can’t push any harder or do anymore. The Lord pulls me to Himself and listens to my confession: all my running has been like chasing after the wind. He is good that way.

God did not pursue me because He knew I could figure this all out and turn my life around. He pursued me because He knew I could not. I am tempted to think I can with a little more effort. But thanks be to God, it was not my effort that drew Him to me. And it does not draw Him to you either. He forgives. He changes us. God looks for the lost coin and sheep. Even the ones who don’t think they are in need. I am grateful for that kind of God. I know you must be too.

It can be easy to expect our due rewards if we follow all the rules. God doesn't guarantee earthly rewards but He does promise to pursue and love us. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #resentment #expectation #promise #pursued
Matthew Henry

depression, hope, joy, darkness, faith, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Depression: Fighting for Joy in the Midst of Darkness

As believers, we may think depression and faith could not occur together. But because of the cross, we who face despair can still find hope. 



Depression is something we hear about all the time. I’m here to tell you it is much more than just being sad. Most Christians I know who have struggled with being depressed, have found themselves wracked with guilt and despair. I know I have. I am not an expert, but I know what I have experienced and I want to share about my fight for joy.

As believers we may think depression and faith could not occur together. But because of the cross, we who face despair can still find hope. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #encouragement #depression #joy #hope

Subtle

It starts with thoughts like: Why try? It builds to: Why bother? It evolves into a feeling of heaviness. For me, it is best described as a hot, wet blanket. It’s like concrete in my shoes.

It’s like my to-do list slipping into Jello. My emotions are on edge. I think everything is about me. I think people believe I am a failure. I can barely function, but just enough.

Complicated

Most people think of the person who is never around or hidden. My friend Brandi and I talk about the active depressed person. I’m involved in my life, but I am dying on the inside. It takes all I have to get my clothes on. All I have to convince myself what I am doing is worth it. What I do matters. That I still have purpose.

I find it hard to believe that anybody notices me. This is not wanting to end life. This is not wanting to hurt anymore or it’s the desire to feel again. You begin to doubt that you will ever be happy again.

Noise

Have you ever tried to have a conversation while someone vacuumed or ran a noisy dishwasher? Did you really hear all the words? Not well, right? Depression is like that.

The words are coming toward you but the thoughts cannot really get through. You read the Bible. You pray. You fight for joy. But the words on the page don’t mean anything. They can’t prick your heart.

If you do feel anything, it’s often guilt at not being more joyful. It’s despair that you will always feel like this… Why bother? You aren’t really worth much. You are a disappointment. You won’t ever have purpose. You did once, but now you are just trouble.

Depression Is Not the Final Say…

I have had multiple issues with depression. I find the winter is usually the worst. Especially gray, rainy ones. My hormones can play a big factor: pregnancy, nursing, middle age. Stress can make it take center stage. But, it’s not the end…

I have seen God do amazing things in the middle of my despair.

Always Hope

How do we face depression as believers?

We continue to look to His word for who we are. Depression tells us we have no purpose and we are worthless. But God’s word can break through and remind us of what is true – He is the one who gives His people purpose. He will never leave us and He is the One who will see us completed to the end.

We can listen to music that glorifies Him and praises Him in spite of what we feel or think. He has not changed and He can be trusted even if our thoughts cannot. This is where I have seen God move in mighty ways. The battles I have fought while depressed, have been the bricks God laid to remind me He is faithful, He is sovereign, He is trustworthy. Even in the darkest days.

We confess what we are feeling to other safe mature believers and ask for prayer. We are tempted to hide what we are experiencing but that only leads to more isolation. This is not how the church works. We can believe that being vulnerable will make Christ look less. But when in actuality I have heard over and over that my willingness to share my neediness has challenged others to do the same. They have seen that God cares about every part of their lives especially their suffering.

We seek out help. This can look differently for different times. I have sought counseling. Medicine was necessary at one point. Every situation will not call for the same solution. But hear me, we do not have to stay in despair and depression.

We can be tempted to hide our experiences but that only leads to more isolation. This is not how the church works. Being vulnerable encourages others. Only then can we see how intricately God cares for our sufferings. Click To Tweet

No More Hiding

I do know one thing that does not work. Hiding. Hiding only makes my life feel worse. We are in a battle for our hearts and minds. We are believers and our eternity is secure. I want more than just security. I want to live a life that finds joy in Christ and in His truths. I am His. Some days that means depression and despair. He is still enough when I have those days. He is still enough.

God hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer. I call to you from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength. Lead me to a rock that is high above me, for you have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy. I will dwell in your tent forever and take refuge under the shelter of your wings.

Psalm 61:1-4, CSB

As believers we may think depression and faith could not occur together. But because of the cross, we who face despair can still find hope. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #encouragement #depression #joy #hope
Ian Espinosa

rest, season, shelter, suffering, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Resting: Experience God’s Gentle Shelter During Brutal Seasons

Some seasons of life can be extremely brutal. We can feel exposed and vulnerable. But we can draw near to God, resting in the shelter only He can offer.  



My son Evan and I have spent the past 90 days in Philly after his transplant. We had finally been given the green light to return home. I had every vision of how this return home was going to go, but nothing prepared me for how hard, emotionally and physically, this would be.

The holidays were in full swing. I was surrounded by expectations. My own, my children, my own… did I say my own?! Rather than home feeling like a safe place, it felt too open, too germy, too exposed. I know I asked for prayer before we left and while we were there, but now that we are home asking for prayer seems too personal and too raw.

Some seasons of life can be extremely brutal. We can feel exposed and vulnerable. But we can draw near to God, resting in the shelter only He can offer. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Elijah

My thoughts were drawn to Elijah, the prophet. I love his heart and the kind way God treats him throughout his journey. One particular event has always stood out to me…

Elijah prays for there to be no rain in the kingdom of Israel. It has not rained for 3 years. The lack of rain is in direct defiance to the king and queen ruling at that time. But the time for no rain is coming to an end. God is going to use Elijah to bring rain back to the dry ground and reveal His power to his people.

Elijah gathers 450 of Baal’s prophets. Two bulls were offered as a sacrifice. Whoever’s sacrifice that was accepted will show who the one true God is. This story is amazing all by itself. However, the story I am interested happens after this test. Elijah calls down fire from heaven. His sacrifice is burned completely, and Jezebel, the queen, calls for Elijah’s very life. It’s amazing and dramatic and all the feels. But Elijah is utter toast when this event is over.

Then he was afraid and he arose and ran for his life […] and he asked that he might die, saying ‘It is enough O Lord take away my life,’

1 Kings 19:3-4, ESV

Depleted

Go back and read that verse again. Elijah, the prophet, the one who called down fire from heaven, wants to die. He had nothing left. Depleted. Worn out. God sends an angel and what happens next gives me every confidence that God is more than I could ever imagine.

The angel gives Elijah food and drink twice and gives him rest. Not very exciting news. It can feel pretty anti-climactic. But how God treats Elijah after a hard battle, speaks volumes to me as another weary traveler. I cannot say I have fought 450 prophets, but I do know what it is like to be weary down to the end of my very soul.

Rather than eat, sleep, and recharge, I wrestle with all of those. I want action or a plan, but I do not want to rest. There are a million excuses for not resting. I say, “But if I don’t…” or “Without this, the consequences could be devastating.” Yet Elijah did exactly that. He took to resting as he prepared to meet with God.

Brutal to Resting

I am in a season that I would not wish on anyone. It has been brutal and it is far from over. We will be watching my son for signs of rejection for at least the next 6 months. We will see a doctor every 2 weeks and multiple other specialists over the next coming months. My nature is to do. And yet God, in His gentleness, calls me to be still. After one of Elijah’s greatest victories, he felt the most helpless and alone. I can relate to this.

I, even I only, am left […]

1 Kings 19:14

In the middle of all the suffering Elijah was experiencing, God shows himself in a low whisper. How do I live in the midst of my suffering? I could continue to fight and work and do. But I can also rest. I can fight to rest. Crazy thought, isn’t it? That resting would be a fight. My guess is rest doesn’t come naturally to any of us.

Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens.

Matthew 11:28, TLB

What about you? I don’t know where you are or what you are dealing with. But I do know this: He is offering us rest. I will admit, I am not even sure what that looks like, but I want to know. That has to be a start.

Elijah experienced major suffering but God draws near in a low whisper. How do we live in the midst of suffering? We find rest in the gentle shelter of God. Click To Tweet

Some seasons of life can be extremely brutal. We can feel exposed and vulnerable. But we can draw near to God, resting in the shelter only He can offer. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional
unsplash-logoAleksandr Eremin

draw near, presence, God's word, fed, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Draw Near: Experiencing God’s Presence for Ourselves

It can be easy to believe that hearing God’s word at church is enough. But God allows us to draw near to Him. We can experience His presence for ourselves.



Food

Food. Glorious food. It is something we cannot live without. When my babies were young, they depended on me to feed them. First through nursing and then with spoons and sippy cups. It was hard work. I relished the day that they were on full-time solids and could use a spoon to feed themselves or even eat with their own chubby fingers. It felt like I too had attained a small amount of freedom.

What food is to the physical body, God’s word is to the spiritual. We are made to be sustained by His presence and His word. When my husband and I were in seminary, I attended courses to prepare me for a life of serving alongside my husband in ministry. One class stayed with me long after those days were gone. It was a class on studying the Bible. I will never forget Virginia Walker’s words as she instructed us to remain self-feeders. I did not know that then, but I would come back to these words again and again.

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Hebrews 7:25, NIV

It can be easy to believe that hearing God’s word at church is enough. But God allows us to draw near to Him. We can experience His presence for ourselves. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Filled

What does it mean to be a self-feeder? It means that there will be times over and over when we must be responsible for drawing ourselves near to God. This has proven to be true for me in a variety of seasons. When we were at our first church serving, I was pouring into other women and feeling worn out. I had to be in the word not just to study, but to recharge.

When my children were little, I spent most of my days tending to their schooling needs, their physical needs, and the cleaning of my home. I could not depend on the once-weekly sermon to fill my empty well. I had to go and drink from living water, daily. Drink in its truths over and over.

We cannot depend on the once-weekly sermon to fill our empty wells. We have to drink from living water, daily. Drink in God's truth over and over. Click To Tweet

His Perspective

Now, I am in a different season. I am unable to attend church and hear my elders preach. I have thought about those bedridden through age and illness. There is never a time when we are not in need of His hope, His kindness, or His Spirit. His word is rich with all of these. As I study His word for myself, I am encouraged. I can see life from His perspective. A perspective that is vastly different from my own.

I have found a few things helpful as I consider being a self-feeder

1. I need both… My time in the word is a complement to my time in the church.

2. Community… It can be helpful to study with another believer especially someone of a different age or season. But, I cannot let that be an excuse to not be in the word.

3. Memorizing… Memorizing chunks of scripture can be life changing and is always time well spent. His word never returns void.

4. Trusting… Just like everything else, I cannot trust my feelings as an indicator that my study matters. If I went for days without food, my body would be affected. So is my spirit. Studying God’s word is a discipline that may feel dry at times. Trust that time in His word will…

…teach, reprove, and train in righteousness, that the man of God may be  equipped for every good work,

2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV

Draw Near

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

James 4:8a, NIV

Some days, I am fed deeply by my pastors and other believers. They encourage me, but nothing can take the place of deep time in His word and in His presence. He calls us to Himself.

Let me encourage you to look at your own time in the word. Not as a source of condemnation or another rule to keep. But as an opportunity to relish in His presence and draw near to Him. God’s presence is no longer just for the priest or the pastor. He is for us. He is here for you. Draw near.

It can be easy to believe that hearing God’s word at church is enough. But God allows us to draw near to Him. We can experience His presence for ourselves. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Jeremy Bishop

fear, oath, promise, trust, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Oath: God Can be Trusted Through the Most Fearful Times

Being prepared is not a wrong value, but it is when I put it over faith. God has made an oath to His children and He can be trusted.



Preparation is something I value. But with 4 kids, it can be fleeting. I mean as in impossible

Distanced Rally

It was 6:30 in the morning. My daughter was texting me that her load of clothes for school had just come out of the dryer with ink all over them.

“Ruined,” she said. “What can I do?” she asked.

“Is your Dad dead?” I asked.

Silence. 30 minutes later she calls…

“You didn’t order my lunch.”

The lunch she has to order because she is at a charter school that only buys enough food for what is ordered and paid for. Yikes. She is realizing this as she and my husband are walking out the door.

Did I mention I am 10 hours away? I’m about to move her brother out of the hospital, into a Ronald McDonald house to stay for 2 months and I am beyond scared. So, what do I do? I panic, and panic for me looks like a ‘rally the troops’ situation. On an effort to fix the problem, I message, Facebook, and text everybody I know in the county. It’s full-blown attack mode. Solve the problem. Find a solution. Plug somebody into the problem. I can’t figure this out.

Being prepared is not a wrong value, but it is when I put it over faith. God has made an oath to His children and He can be trusted. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Preparation’s Oath

Then I get it. I wanted this problem off my radar because the problem with my son was really demanding my attention. But, if I am honest, this whole situation was really revealing a bigger problem. Could I trust God with even this?

See, my husband and I are really good together. He does a lot of stuff and I do a lot of stuff. I can, however, kind of try to overcompensate. Ok, take over. It starts small and before I know it, I just do it all. He doesn’t ask me to. He doesn’t expect me to. It’s really a subtle irony. Rodney is maybe the easiest-to-please-person I know.

But, I’m not. I want to feel productive, prepared, together. I like knowing I took care of things…10 hours away. I couldn’t take care of things. The fear ruling my heart: Would I be able to replace the clothes if they were ruined? Budget is tight. Things are scarce. God had already had people step up and buy these school clothes once. What was I going to do? Trust that if she needed more clothes that He was and is big enough to supply them again.

God’s Oath

As long as I am responsible for the clothes, or my son’s health for that matter, I will be racked with fear. Fear is not a happy place to be. It says it’s up to me. But thankfully the cross says a different story! God’s oath to us:

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain.

Hebrews 6:19, NIV

Jesus tore the veil that stood between God and myself, so I could trust in something greater than the Law. The law which says I have to measure up and be good enough.

Any time I think that I am about to look less than good enough, I have to remember Who is better than and not just good enough. I think this is summed up beautifully in the hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”:

And though this world, with devils filled
Should threaten to undo us
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us
The Prince of Darkness grim
We tremble not for him
His rage we can endure
For lo his doom is sure
One little word shall fell him.

I know for me, confidence in 3 words is beyond enough. Jesus uttered the words, “It is finished.” Hallelujah! I am grateful that He reminds me over and over. I can trust Him with inky clothes, with a sick child, with being 10 hours away, with my sin, with my future. Thankfully, you can too!

Jesus tore the veil that stood between us and God. We can trust in something greater than the Law. The law which says we have to measure up and be good enough. Click To Tweet

Being prepared is not a wrong value, but it is when I put it over faith. God has made an oath to His children and He can be trusted. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

change, reliable, trust, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Reliable: Trusting Our Unchanging God in a Swirling World

While our world is ever-changing, we serve a God who is reliable and never changing. He can be trusted for He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 



Swirling Thoughts

Yesterday was not my finest hour. If I am honest, this hasn’t been my greatest week either. My son Evan and I are living in Philadelphia while he undergoes a bone marrow transplant. To say I am over it just does not do the whole experience justice. He arrived September 4th to begin chemo, while I arrived September 11th to be here during the transplant and for the rest of the treatment. Going in, we knew this would be a 3-month process here in Philly. I knew that.

But… 3 months in my head and 3 months in real time are just not the same. The days have gotten long. The room has started to close in. Evan has gotten bored. We both miss the rest of our family. And, I have been feeling it coming all week. The tears, the anxiety, the pressing grief from being away from all I know that is familiar. It has been a tough week.

While our world is ever-changing, we serve a God who is reliable and never changing. He can be trusted for He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Feeling Overwhelmed

As part of our exit from the hospital, I have to learn how to flush his line. So, there’s a lot of new vocabulary in the hospital. Line. Broviac. Flush. It has all been very overwhelming. Needless to say, I don’t function well under stress. I’m pretty sure nobody does. But, here I was in a class trying to process how to keep Evan’s central line flushed and in good shape and I melted into a puddle of tears.

I had texted several of my praying friends right before I entered the room for teaching to ask them to pray. The prospect of leaving the hospital was scaring me to death. I knew I needed the prayers. Within 5 minutes, the teacher had decided I needed more time to process all of this information. She was going to advocate for a slower pace. I was greatly relieved, but still super embarrassed to have gotten so upset.

Change is Hard

Change. I’m not a fan. I remember a day my college roommate moved our furniture around without telling me. It felt like grounds for moving immediately. The past month has been “change” overload and I am resisting it like crazy. I like sameness, sure, and steady. This experience here, waiting to see if my son’s health will improve, has been a rollercoaster of change. A new drug every day. Constant monitoring so doctors can decide if he needs a new drug. I had to change rooms this week so Evan could have his own shower. Did I mention I hate change? But, I am in a world that is always changing; that is never the same.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33, NIV

He is Unchanging

I left the hospital for a breather and when I returned, I headed for the elevator. I glanced to my right and there was another mom with the same look on her face. Weary. Scared. Tears down her face. As we stepped on the elevator, I just quietly asked if I could pray for her. She gave me her name and I just asked Our Father for His care. His comfort. His help.

As I am struggling here, my emotions are fighting with my head on a constant basis. There is change all around me, but He has not changed. He is reliable, constant and steady.

There is change all around us, but God has not changed. He is reliable, constant and steady. Click To Tweet

He is Reliable

I’ve mentioned before that I like to put up scripture during difficult seasons as a way to remind my heart of what is true. Before we left South Carolina, I had been given some cards to open here in Philly as a way of encouragement for the long journey. One dear friend had put verses on index cards within her card and I have put the scriptures all over my room. I have a constant reminder that God is not changing, ever reliable, even if the whole of my world is swirling non-stop.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8, NIV

While our world is ever-changing, we serve a God who is reliable and never changing. He can be trusted for He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional