Let Tears Sooth the Broken Places

One fabulous revelation that has occurred to me over time is everyone—EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US—has stuff. The enemy of your soul desires to mess you up, isolate and immobilize you. He starts looking for a way to “damage” your heart from the moment you’re born. It can come from the death of a loved one, words from a mean teacher or classmate, or even a misunderstanding of unmet expectations. Whatever it is, we have hurts, pains, scars and debilitating wounds. Sometimes they are visible, but most of the time they are emotional—hidden deep inside and protected—where only a few really know what has skewed your perspective of life.

“Tears spoke what I couldn’t.”

My deep wounds started with the loss of my first family when my parents divorced, and it fractured my perspective on life. Thankfully, my husband believed in our marriage and trusted God to repair the breach. Healing can take time, but more importantly, it usually takes hard work on our part. (I went through grief recovery, and it was so powerful for me that I became a grief recovery specialist.)

Tears are one of the wonderful ways we can move toward healing. Like me, you probably spent nights crying out to God—crying until you ran out of tears. Other times, His presence brought me to my knees and tears poured silently. I may not have had the words, but through the washing of my soul, the tears spoke what I couldn’t.

The language of my tears comforted my heart and soothed the broken places in my life. They refreshed me and made me new. My tears gave me the strength I needed to let go, forgive and move on. They opened me up to receive love from God and others.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.  John 6:63 nkjv

Are you in one of those difficult places now? He will help you recover. As you let go and allow your tears to express what your heart needs to say, God can wash away the places in your life that you thought were completely ruined, and help you begin again.  I pray you will open your heart and let your tears speak to Him today.

"Pay close attention to your tears. 
What you weep over has to do with your destiny.” 
- Lou Engle
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Give Him Thanks for His Unfailing Love

#5 of 5 Ways to Step into God’s Rest

Psalm 100:5 says, For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.[1] ALWAYS.

I can’t imagine where I would be today without the unfailing love of God active and constant in my life, and yet, I so often fail to thank Him for it. On many occasions, I am terribly guilty of taking His love for me for granted. Instead of a selfless focus, I choose a selfish focus—and that robs me of a deeper relationship with Him and the daily opportunities to choose to step into His rest.

Which brings us to the fifth way to experience God’s rest:

  1. Give Him thanks for his unfailing love.

Psalm 119:90 says, Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.[2]

David—a man after God’s own heart—learned to step into God’s rest. He struggled to stay in that rest throughout His life, but he always came back to thankfulness for God’s love. He could step into God’s rest and give Him those thoughts and concerns trusting He would do all He promised.

We can enter his rest because he loves us. His love never fails. No matter what choices we make or what direction we go—He continually and affectionately loves us. There is nothing we can do (or not do) to cause him to NOT love us.

What has God’s love promised you? What are you thankful for? What does it take for you to step into God’s rest?

[1] ESV

[2] ESV

Sarah’s Story Part 3 – The End to the Beginning

Throughout Sarah’s story, there are many challenges. At one point, there was a famine in the land, so Abraham and his family went to Egypt to live during the famine. While they were there, Abraham told Sarah to say she was his sister because she was so beautiful, he feared they would kill him. Pharaoh wanted to take her as his wife.

Pharaoh treated Abram well because of Sarah and gave him livestock and servants. As a result of Sarah joining Pharaoh’s harem, his household came down with a serious disease. Pharaoh asked Abraham why he lied, returned Sarah to him and commanded them to leave with everything Pharaoh had given them.[1]

In the second instance while they stayed in Gerar, Abraham told those who inquired, “She is my sister,” (which was a half-truth; she was his half-sister before she became his wife).[2] King Abimelech took her to the palace. God closed up the womb of every woman in the king’s household because of Sarah. God appeared to King Abimelech in a dream and told him he had taken in a married woman.

After calling together his leadership and informing them of the situation, he called Abraham before him and confronted him. Abraham confessed what he had done, and the king replied by giving him livestock and servants, and returning Sarah to him. He told them they could live anywhere they’d like in his land. He spoke specifically to Sarah saying, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. It is a sign of your innocence in the eyes of all[a] who are with you, and before everyone you are vindicated.”[3]

Can you imagine how Sarah may have felt? Perhaps she was angry or even resented Abraham for putting her in these two very awkward positions? It seems Sarah followed her husband’s lead intentionally or submissively. Instead of trusting God to work out his fear of death by the hand of a king he assumed to be wicked, he tried to figure it out on his own with a half-truth, putting Sarah in a difficult and dangerous situation. In spite of doing things their own way in this situation, God faithfully protected her and returned her to her husband.

Can you see your own life in Sarah’s story? God knows your end from the beginning as well. He tells your story from the perspective of all He created you to be. He’s not worried about where you’ve been or what you’ve done. Yes, like Sarah, you may have consequences to some of the choices you’ve made, but that doesn’t stop God from delivering on the promises He has given you!

[1] Genesis 12:10-20

[2] Genesis 20:12 NIV

[3] Genesis 20:16 ESV

Sarah’s Story Part 2—Helping God

Sarah followed Abraham and together they obeyed God not knowing where they were going. Abram took his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot with him, along with all the possessions and people they had gotten in Haran, and set out for the land of Canaan and arrived safe and sound.[1] (Abraham was 75 years old, so that would make Sarah about 65, if you consider she was 90 and he was 100 when their promised son was born.)

It might be compared in some ways to a farmer these days, packing up the house, the barn, the animals and all he and his family possess and moving to another farm in another state—but they didn’t know where they were going. They just stepped out trusting in God to deliver all He promised.

Throughout Sarah’s story, there are many challenges. She and her husband were ordinary people trusting God for something greater than they could ask or think. They were far from perfect—just like us. They had their moments of doubt and unbelief along the way.

Sarah struggled to believe God’s promises included her. The natural circumstances crowded into her thinking as month after month, year after year she remained childless. It was a common practice in their time and culture to give a maidservant as a substitute wife to the husband, but remember, God had called them out from their people. He set them apart to follow Him and live according to His ways. He desired for their lives to look differently from the rest of the world.

God had a plan, but Sarah decided to help God out. Sarah encouraged her husband to follow the culture of her day and to sleep with her maidservant, Hagar. Sarah probably thought she could raise the child as her own. Abraham agreed and acted on Sarah’s plan. Once Hagar became pregnant, Sarah and Hagar’s relationship quickly changed. Hagar detested Sarah, and Sarah resented the woman who was able to give her husband the one thing she didn’t think she could give him.

The Lord appeared to Abraham when he was 98 years old and told him this time next year, I will return to you and Sarah will have a son. Sarah overhead the conversation and laughed at His words. The Lord confronted her asking why she laughed, and she fearfully lied that she didn’t laugh. The Lord again said, “Yes, You did laugh.”[2]

When we hatch our own plan to help God deliver on His promise, or hurry things along outside of His plan, those consequences can have lasting effects. Problems continued between Sarah and Hagar even after Sarah gave birth to the child God promised. (Even today the descendants of Ismael and Isaac continue to war against one another.)

Yet Hebrews 11:11 says, By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.[3] God is telling Sarah’s story from “the end.” It doesn’t matter to God how many times she stumbled, how many times she failed. It doesn’t matter to him that she laughed in doubt or tried to take matters into her own hands. In the end, she saw God’s promises for her life delivered. She became what He created her to be all along—a mother of a great nation. She believed God and walked with Him by faith.

If you’ve ever waited on a promise, you probably found it very challenging. Even if you’re a very patient person, it’s difficult to cope with a long wait. I know I spend a lot of time thinking about the thing God promised and wondering just how God will pull it all together.

[1] Genesis 12:5 MSG

[2] Genesis 18:10-15 NIV

[3] ESV

Pioneering Faith

No matter how many times we’ve believed God and experienced the results of our faith, there is always a fight to stand firm in the next challenge. I don’t just set my heart and mind on something generic, I imagine what it will look like when the answer comes. I set my expectations high. I think about what it could look like, feel like and taste like. I imagine where we’ll go and what we’ll do as we begin to move forward in obedience to God’s plans.

The challenge is I can get ahead of God. I allow expectations—a picture to develop in my mind that I’ve created, and eventually I discover it’s not even close to the image of what God wants that particular thing to look like.

That brings about a crisis of belief. Did God really say we are supposed to move to another state? While we knew the answer as we began to journey forward, doubt creeps in at the first obstacle. We have this crazy idea that God’s going to come in with his bulldozer and go ahead of us, giving us a clear path, when in fact, He’s actually called us to blaze the trail.

Think of the pioneers of the Wild West. They traveled over rough country. They had no roads laid out before them. They were fortunate to have a path of travelers that have gone ahead to follow. They had to do all the firsts. They made the road; they dug the well and the outhouse.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4 ESV).

When God asks you to move, it usually involves putting your faith muscles (and natural muscles) to work. I want to think it’s going to be easy—and every once in awhile—it is! But usually, as a pioneer of faith, it means starting from scratch and building something.

So, when you don’t see the results of your faith produce in the way you imagined, take a deep breath and let it go. (Can you tell I’m taking a deep breath now?) I believe God has my best interest at heart. He has something that looks different—and it’s better than I imagined. It’s exactly what I need, even if it’s not what I thought I wanted—or not in the timing I expected.

The Sound of Faith

My husband is a fan of The Voice,  and I have watched it with him a few times. As a fan, you would naturally have a high anticipation of the power and talent you expect to experience in the sound of each of the final contestants.

Now, visualize the astonishment all of Heaven witnessed when God spoke the words that created the world you live in today. His voice—the very word he spoke—commanded every form of life to come forth.

God’s words were powerful enough to bring something unseen into the visible world.

Think about your Bible, filled with God’s words. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults, and for teaching how to live right (NCV).

Your Bible can show you what God says and thinks about everything. As you read His Word, you get to know His nature and character. You come to understand and His responses to the questions your heart asks.

Take a step of faith and courageously open God’s Word today, expecting to experience God’s miraculous purpose and watch what He will do. Ask Him to speak to you speak as you read His Word. I pray He will show you how His words can make a difference in your life today.

It’s Time to Welcome the Rain

I am fortunate to have had my maternal grandmother in my life as a child. She was a strong-willed woman with a strong prayer life. I am thankful for the many things I learned as I listened in the hallway to her converse with God.

I was eighteen years old when she died after a battle with breast cancer. There was so much going on in my life, and I struggled deeply to understand how the God, who had always been rain rgbstockthere for me for as long as I could remember, would allow her to die. So many people prayed. So many believed she would beat the cancer. I was angry, and I deliberately shut God out. I knew He was there, but I didn’t want to talk to him. I had so many questions, and He knew I wasn’t ready for the answers.

I am thankful he knows each of us better than we know ourselves. After a difficult season, I began to slowly let Him in. He gave me the answers in a slow, gentle rain over the years rather than a flood I thought I wanted. That’s my nature—to want it all at once, rather than at the capacity in which I can absorb it, which is most beneficial to me.

Just as rain nourishes the ground, God’s presence provides life and growth for the spirit. After a long season, in which the ground has received no rain, it is hard and at first it resists the rain. That is what happened to my heart. I had allowed it to harden. I thought I was protecting myself, but in reality, I was just allowing the ground of my heart to grow more desolate without nourishment from his presence. I eventually discovered when we go without a drink of God’s presence; our hearts can become hard and resistant to his outpourings.

I pray that I will always be open and ready for an outpouring of his presence to quench the thirst my soul desperately need.
Lord, send the rain!