“your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10
I used to think that to go to one’s grave without having fulfilled a longed-for dream would be a deep tragedy. I do not believe that anymore. American culture sets great store in making dreams come true, and honestly, it can be beautiful when it happens, especially if it means someone else has a better life as a result. Dreams, however, possess a little bit of authority or control that may not always be healthy or rightful. A dream is something the dreamer created and as such, is susceptible to error despite being noble. A dream is a concoction of what the dreamer deems best; it’s colors and design and location reflect the dreamers idea of what true fulfillment should look like.
What about God in that scenario? What if His plan contradicts the dreamer’s ideal? Again, the dream can be pure while being the opposite of what the dreamer’s Creator intended. What then? To reorder or surrender that dream can be a painful struggle and a slow death, but it must happen if the dreamer’s true purpose is to reach fulfillment. This is not the kind of truth that makes for joyful shouts, but does provoke, “Well done” from the throat of the Almighty. Which is more important to you?
Be encouraged, My Friend. Nothing that we lay at the Father’s feet is ever a true loss because what we gain in doing so bears an eternal weight that will outlast any earthly disappointment.
For I am the Lord, I change not….”
When you start a journey, you have a destination in mind and a plan on how to get there. Sometimes, however, unexpected detours meet you on the road and you must make adjustments. Even your detours may contain a maze of other detours that bog you down in details that frustrate you. Still, no matter how lost you get, you know that certain things never change: the sun always rises in east and sets in the west. Wherever you are in the maze, you can know where you are by looking up.
Likewise, your life may be a tangle of detours, unpleasant surprises, and unexpected delays. Look up, My Friend! God is in the same place He has always been, His love for you has not changed, and His plan for your life is still on track. God is still able to do exceeding abundantly above all you can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). You are still more than a conqueror through Him Who loved you (Romans 8:37) and you still can do all things through Him Who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). The promises of God are still “yes” through Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20)! Nothing has changed but your circumstances; the Solution never will!
The question is not about God and His faithfulness, but are you, in the midst of life’s detours, going to trust Him…still?
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
It is a rotten feeling when you fail, especially when you saw it coming, but chose to ignore it. The most natural response to personal failure is to either run away in shame or to minimize the truth of it. You may even speak brutally to your inner self and make dire predictions about your future. Add to this the voice of the enemy chiding you, and the misery can be unbearable.
Know that none of the above is the way God responds to your failure. Though you may feel unworthy of it, His love and grace are tender towards you. You may be disappointed in yourself, but God knew He would find you here and has been waiting for you with arms wide enough to hold you and your burden of guilt. Full confession is the best response. No excuses. Then, ask Him to restore you. He will show where you veered off course and empower you to win next time you pass that same spot.
Likely, you abandoned the very practices that kept you on the right path; go back to them. Only you know what those are, and if you have been gone long enough to have forgotten what they are, remembrance is only a prayer away.
Failure is not your identity, it’s only an event. Take God’s extended hand, ask His forgiveness, and get on with your life.
“Never will I leave you,never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b
Wherever you find yourself right now, God was already there before you arrived, My Friend. He was waiting there with everything you need for this season. Your circumstance may be different from any you ever faced, but God is the same. You may be lacking resources you counted on, but you still have the Source. Your heart may be grieving, stressing, bored, overwhelmed, or full of fear, but that same heart also possesses the remedy for all of those negatives in the the Person of the Holy Spirit. He offers peace for your worry, comfort for your grief, and the intimate voice of His Word for your boredom. God’s answer for your fear is His truth.
There is no need you have for which God is unprepared. He is not a God Who would send His Son all the way from Heaven for you but leave you lacking in what you need until you get there yourself. He loves you, He is more than able to see you through this season. He’s been with you in the good times, He will not walk out now. Because He said He will never leave you nor forsake you, you can trust Him as your God of all seasons, including the one you re in right now.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
We are all part of a time of intense global suffering, inconvenience, and uncertainty. Simultaneously, we live in a time brimming with opportunity to serve, give, create, connect, and invest. In whatever way you are using these opportunities, God notices. He sees you reaching out to a neighbor and checking in on family and friends. He sees you volunteering, sacrificing, and encouraging. The smiles you are bringing to sad faces, the prayers you are praying for anxious hearts to have peace-none have escaped God’s attention. The rewards, in addition to the earthly satisfaction you feel now, will meet you in heaven embedded in crowns you will throw at the Master’s feet.
The chances to make a difference are ripe and ready for the taking. Take all you can for the glory of God, My Friend. Dark times are a perfect backdrop for your light, His light in you, to shine. May the gleam of your gifts shine so bright that others see God and bring a smile to our heavenly Father.
“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”
You know this: For the unbeliever, sin separates and without repentance and a turning to Jesus as the only Way out, all hope is lost of a reunion with God. What God wants to remind you is that sin also can do damage to a believer’s relationship with Him. Salvation cannot be lost once obtained through faith, but God has more to give than merely missing Hell, My Friend. As a bride hopes for more than a ceremony, so God desires more from that initial decision to trust Him. Sin can no longer keep you out of heaven, but it sure can bar the door to a million other blessings.
Is there a sin you cherish at this time in your life, one that in the rush of life you have allowed to go unchecked? It happens to all of us, but now is a great time to bring it to God as the ugly thing it is. That thing has its pleasures but dulls your appetite for God, separates you from spiritual power, healthy relationships, and answered prayers (Psalm 66:18) Sin downplays what you are missing by being in the “far country”(Luke 15:11-13) and offers faulty reasoning as to why you should not return home to your First Love (Revelation 2:4-5)
Do not make it complicated.
Remember above all that no excuse is a match for the power of God to give you strength both to return to Him and to stay with Him. Ask God for it, ask Him to search your heart. He is gentle and always extends open arms and a listening ear. So much of what you have been striving for lies on the other side of repentance. Whatever is in your way is not worth missing the abundance and joy that await.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
I have heard that plastic shopping bags can be crocheted or knitted into beautiful handbags. I use the same shopping bags to line my small trash cans, to cover my head when I forget my umbrella, and in a pinch, to serve as a plastic cap when doing a hot oil treatment. What other ways do you use those bags?
Recycling makes use of something in multiple ways so as to minimize waste and to extract as much value as possible. God does the same with your trials. He never wastes trouble but instead uses it to purify you so that Jesus is more visible and so that God extracts more glory from your life. The Father recycles irritations, inconveniences, and uncertainties and makes them His means of transformation to the very thing you may have been asking Him to bring about in you.
Don’t fight it, My Friend. Since you and I cannot escape this difficult season, let us yield to what the Master is doing and say with Job, “…when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) Only the Divine Recycler can take the tiny shopping bags of this current situation and turn them into gold. Let Him!