I need to share honestly… and I know I’m not alone or unusual. My last five years have been full of struggle and discouragements, tragic loss, and setbacks. I’ve felt the harshness of life and the ridiculously hard path of what I thought was a simple existence.
It seemed that everything and everyone was resisting me constantly, and the weariness from the exhaustion that comes from trying again and again to get back up…is impossible to describe without going through it yourself.
The accumulated years of seemingly pointless sacrifices take their toll on our hearts. Sometimes they get so grim they choke out much of our optimism and left us more empty and numb than alive inside.
As we ponder our lives, we have to wrestle with the point to our endless parade of difficulties and stress. We wonder, am I doing something wrong? Is God angry with me? Why doesn’t my life seem to be ‘working’?
If you’re finding yourself in a similar diminished state, weary of the struggles that never seem to be conquered… read on! I get it. I understand as much as any other human can.
Here are some hard won truths from my own private journal. Some are from podcasts I’ve listened to, some from daily devotionals, but most are from hours alone with God and His word.
Reminder #1: All difficult circumstances are not ‘God’s’ making. He doesn’t create and force disaster upon us, but when it comes… He is offering to be ‘in it’ with us. He will redeem whatever we’re facing, irregardless of whether we deserve it or not.
Reminder #2: The places we go for comfort in our difficult days are only temporary substitutes for the true solace we long for. Sex, Drugs, Alcohol, and Ambition can only numb us to the pain we feel inside. The deeper pain never goes away with external medications.
Reminder #3: The struggle allowed or endured is used by the Holy Spirit to remove the gunk in us and free up fresh real-estate in our soul for God’s presence to settle in and restore. Our hearts need made whole and that’s a inner work that takes time.
Reminder #4: God is good. His ways are odd to us, the solutions He prescribes seem to take the long way to our desired outcomes, but they are always the best possible route and a specific answer to each and every prayer we voice.
Reminder #5: The inner work of stillness is the mature work of a settled soul. God longs for us to shrug off our external distractions and focus on just being satisfied in Him. The bible calls this ‘abiding’ in Christ. It is the deep and permanent work of the Holy Spirit to settle a soul.
These are truths we must recall in the dark night of the soul. Those days and weeks, months and even years that we feel abandoned by God and alone in our struggle. We are not alone, it’s a lie, and the truth can be so hard to remember when our world seems to never change.
Be strong dear one, God is working… and whatever new and awesome assignment that’s right around the corner, you can bet it requires us to go through whatever we’re currently wrestling with. God never wastes our pain or suffering, He uses it to prepare us for the greater influence and responsibility sure to come our way.
The temptation is to simply find ‘the’ solution to our angst, but in the end I’ve found the discipline of ‘stillness’ is the surest course to find Peace and a settled soul.
As believers in our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, we have been invited into an Epic adventure.
Like the famous Lord of the Rings trilogy, we have pledged ourselves to a “fellowship” of heroes and saints. We are well beyond the honeymoon phase of our adventure and the sunshine has faded and the mud and muck of our journey has obscured the brilliant beauty of our surroundings. The shine is off the metal and we are wondering what we were thinking…
Our youth was full of clarity and confidence, we knew what we knew and mortality was a distant storm, we would go where we would, fearless and free of the bonds of fallibility.
Decades later…Life isn’t what we imagined it would be. Our world isn’t what we hoped it would become. Our faith isn’t as strong or as sturdy as we once believed… God seems distant and remote, far away from our struggles and pain.
Yet, we are still here. Still wrestling with our world, still standing up to the punishment of our past choices and hopeful for validation. We want it all to have meaning, for our time to have significance and our blood, sweat, and tears to matter.
This is the pilgrim’s path of ascent.
We remain despite our defeats; we believe despite our doubts. God is still a sacred heartbeat within our aging hopes and dreams, we long for more and pray it will one day be.
Be encouraged dear one. Be refreshed today in the truth of God. Soak In the gospel and allow its endless power to redeem and restore. You will be – all you dreamed and more, God will win.
The path ahead may seem impossible, impassable, and steep, but God has made a way. The path will grow bright as you step in faith forward.
He will not be denied. You will not be left behind and all that was promised will be.
The work has already been done. We simply walk into the works of God already established for us… I love this elegant passage from the Anglican Traditional Altar Service;
“And we humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen”
The prayer above echos our hearts yearning, as we age… the disciplines of our devotion never stop pulling at our hearts, we are forever affected, forever in need. Only His presence can soothe our aches, only His words can still our storms. Only Him.
This fellowship is for those who cannot forget, for those who cannot begin to comprehend the mystery and the marvel of Him. Its truth resonates deep within, flowing full and free from a source too deep to see and too bright to dim.
This fellowship never ends.
Take comfort dear one, your faith in Christ is well placed.
Peace out, Fr. Brad Mathias
References for study: (all scriptures are in the ESV translation unless otherwise noted)
biblehub.com – Gill Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:4-9: “Who shall also confirm you unto the end, The author of this blessing of confirmation is not the Lord Jesus Christ, though he is mentioned in the latter part of 1 Corinthians 1:7; and seems to be the antecedent to the relative “who” in this, but is not, for this confirmation is made in him; see 2 Corinthians 1:21; and besides, it is in order that the saints might be blameless in the day of Christ, and so must design some other person distinct from him, which is God the Father,
1 Corinthians 1:4, to whom the apostle gives thanks, and continues to do so unto this verse; in which he assures the saints of confirmation in grace by God, the author and giver of all grace: and which may be understood of their confirmation in the love and favour of God, from which there can be no separation; and of their establishment in the person of Christ, and in the doctrines of grace; and of the permanency of the grace of the Spirit in them, and of their perseverance in faith and holiness unto the end: that is, of their days; even until the day of Christ, when the good work begun in them shall be performed and finished; that is, “forever”,
as the Ethiopic version reads it; “for the love of God to his people always continues; their interest in Christ can never be lost; grace in them is an immortal seed; nor shall they be ever finally and totally moved away from the hope of the Gospel: that ye may be blameless; not in themselves, for no man is without his faults; none of God’s children are without their failings and infirmities; they have whereof to blame themselves, and may be blamed by God too in a providential way; but they are so in Christ their head, being justified by his righteousness, and washed in his blood; and so in the sight of God, as considered in Christ; and will appear such in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, when he shall descend from heaven, and take his saints to him, and present them to himself a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.”
—————- References —————
Jude: 24 “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
1 Corinthians 1:4-9 “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”
2 Timothy 1:12 “..which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”
Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,”
Ephesians 1:13-14 ”In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory”.
Recommended Reading: Epic by John Eldredge.
These notes and thoughts are from Father Brad’s sermon preparation for St. Margaret’s Anglican Church, in Conway NH.
One of the greatest themes of the Old Testament is the ‘Exodus’. The focus on much of the first five books of the bible centers on a ‘transition with provision‘ as the people of God move from one place and season to another. (Egypt to the Promised Land)
The Torah lingers on the details of Israel’s release from the empire of Egypt. Significant details are shared about the journey of God’s chosen people from the land of Egypt across the Red Sea and into the wilderness, specific locations, events, and characters are recorded in intricate detail.
This “exodus’ is a major theme of the early scriptures and gives us a clue as to its importance in the bigger picture of history and the word of God. It tells us we can expect to face similar experiences and circumstance as we make our own personal journey from the ‘old’ to the ‘new’.
In the New Testament scripture we see a parallel journey for each believer as we leave the ‘old man’ behind and put on the ‘new’ man in Christ. The process of transition for each of us is unique, but the principles are the same. God always ‘provides’ for His people as they ‘transition’ from one stage of life to the next. The introduction of divine food (Manna) is realized on the Israelite’s journey through the desert. A remarkable and supernatural provision for their daily needs.
Change is almost always scary. When we leave the familiar behind we are taking a risk. God calls each of us to walk out of our old ways and lean into the new. These changes are transitions and can take many different forms. For some it’s the challenge of a health issue or Cancer diagnosis, for others it’s a lost job and new career path, but for ALL of us it’s a serious shift in our ‘normal’ way of doing and being.
Like the children of Israel, we face many stressful transitions in our life and like the children of Israel we too have a good and capable God who knows our needs and has already arranged for our provision. The scripture reminds us of God’s faithfulness to meet each and every need as we progress from one season to the next.
I love the way speaker and author Stasi Eldredge puts it in her book “Defiant Joy”. “In Christ your life is inextinguishable. Undefeatable. Victorious. Worry, fear, panic, and dread do not get to hold your heart hostage in their vise-like grip. Your heart is safely held in the hands of your faithful God who promises that a life of unending joy is your inheritance. It is coming.Jesus led the way. And though the way often includes disappointment, pain, betrayal, and sorrow, none of them get to have the final say.”
We can live with confidence no matter what we’re walking through or away from. God is going to keep up with you, He won’t leave you behind or let you go. Your safe, secure and intimately cared for, in fact you could not be in better hands.
Peace out, Father Brad.
PS – for a scripture reference to study, check out this passage from the Old Testament.
Exodus 16:14-18 (ESV) – ” 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground.15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?”for they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” 17 And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat.”
Do you struggle sometimes to pray. To sincerely trust God more than we do our-self? Do you wonder if He’s really going to ‘show’ up in our life when we need Him the most? I mean the whole idea of God being engaged and concerned with my struggles and fears can seem laughable. I’m sure He has bigger ‘fish to fry’ than my petty little anxieties and circumstances.
If you’re like me, you might find yourself praying timidly around the edges of your life, asking for general things like favor, health, wisdom, etc. We’re easily convinced He has better things to do than talk with us.
It’s easy to feel that way. It’s not true of course, but it can ‘feel’ that way. We keep our conversations with Him short and superficial, we avoid asking what we’re in true need of, uncertain of our status with Him. Sometimes it’s because of the fear we have about His true ‘answer’ to our deepest concerns, but I think its also because we don’t feel worthy of much blessing. We are keenly aware of our own shortcomings, inconsistencies, and hypocrisy.
In the opposite extreme, sometimes we can totally take prayer for granted, rushing into things we go through our ‘check-list’ of needs, heedless of who and how we’re talking to the one who saved our very souls. We charge ahead in our demands, wanting answers to our ever present emergencies, approaching God without the reverence and awe He deserves.
If we’re being totally honest… often the ‘real’ reason we’re visiting with Him in prayer at all is to ask for stuff or to ask Him to affirm our wishes as His will. He becomes sort of a cosmic cookie jar rather than the Creator and Lord of all.
In an effort to find some balance its important that we approach Him with the proper levels of both familiarity and respect. It’s vital that we find a healthy balance and perspective for the amazing opportunity that Prayer provides the Christian. In the end, prayer is all about relationship. It’s not about ‘getting’ but growing.
For those who feel unworthy, we don’t need to be afraid to approach Him and for those who are simply spiritual consumers, we shouldn’t over assume on His blessings. Thankfully, we’re offered grace for either imbalance and scripture grants us insights into how to access His faith and power despite our inconsistent and often messy spirituality.
I’ve been struggling with being too timid, too conscious of my shortcomings. Recently I was reminded to pray with more courage and a clearer purpose, to ask with less hesitation and more hope.
Quick couple of thoughts for you to consider if you’re in a similar state.
This isn’t word of faith stuff or positive thinking, it’s a firmer grip on the work of Christ on Calvary and my status as ‘His’ adopted son.
According to the scriptures, I’ve inherited His strength and wisdom and insight, I simply need to ‘remember’ that and step into it with the confidence of His work on my behalf. I’m not a beat up, worthless piece of poo in my redemptive life, I’m a son of royalty, a prince and heir to the King.
Rather than giving me hubris and overconfidence, these insights give me the courage to engage my life head on.
I don’t have to slide around the scary things in my day or week, I can confront them directly when required. I don’t have to live waiting for the next crisis to crush me, I have every thing the day will require in Christ.
So do you.
Peace out, Pastor Brad.
We all know the struggle is real as a parent. The struggle to keep hope alive. To choose to ‘believe’ that God is up there and watching, engaged in our lives and actively seeking our good.
But there are days when that belief is strained to the breaking point.
There are dozens and dozens of days that I look back on and wonder how I made it through. How did I not just chuck it all and bail? How in the world did I stick it out and not give up?
Simple answer… GOD’S GRACE.
It’s always a temptation to give up – throw our proverbial hands in the air and just surrender to despair and doubt and walk away. For parents you can do everything right and still seem like you’ve failed.
For parents who are raising teens, this can be a daily or weekly event. Those promises of God you scribbled down on sticky notes and taped to your desk or fridge, don’t forget them. The word of God highlighted in your bible until the pages tear… it’s real. The faith we’ve so carefully nursed along through missed mortgage payments, cancer, and marital strife, it’s true and tested no matter how we feel.
Yet…it can seem so fragile.
But hang on a sec. Our lives and circumstances are usually crazy. The forces that push us around can seem overwhelming and dark, but that’s only if we forget whose we are. Our strength was never based on how well we performed, never built on a foundation of self reliance and personal will power. If we’re a Christ-follower, a believer in the savior and Messiah – Jesus, then we’re supposed to rely on HIS strength.
That means we’re NOT the key ingredient in our lives or our faith. HE IS. Our eternal destinies and that of our kids are NOT dependent on us. It is the irresistible pull of God to align us and our families into perfect sync with His Kingdom. In His time, and in His way.
So… unclench your fists. Take deep – slow – breaths… God is still GOD. HE is still at the helm of our lives. His will is going to occur and His plans are going to succeed. We are not victims lost in the floods of life, we are protected and purposed by Him.
Go get your promises out and lay them before God in prayer, remind Him of your need for hope, for encouragement, for peace. Make it a regular habit to ask Him to show up in your despair, to believe He’s going to miraculously realign your life and circumstances according to His will. As you ask for help remember to choose to praise Him for the answer. To look forward in anticipation for His perfect solution… even before you see it.
It is the ‘goodness’ of Gods character that we are being trained to trust in. The outcome of our lives is not depending on our merit or hard work, just HIS GOODNESS.
For our mental perspective to shift all we have to do is recall to mind and more importantly our hearts, the faithfulness of God to meet ALL our needs. He was God over the impossible in the past and He will be God over the impossible today.
Remember we are but dust, and when our faith is only an ember, it is HIS strength that will carry the day. St. Paul said it this way… “His strength is made perfect in our weakness”.
So parents – what could be more reassuring than that?
Suggested link: Here is a great interview with one of my spiritual fathers, Pastor Duane Sheriff. He and his wife Sue have a fantastic perspective on parenting when we feel like a failure. Available at Brilliantly Brave Parenting on Soundcloud, iTunes, and YouTube.
The Christian life in our modern world is so convoluted with the secular it’s almost impossible to sort things out.
The way our world works seems normal to us. It seems logical, even wise… but it operates on principles foreign to the Holy Spirit.
The world is about self-preservation, promotion, accomplishment, and gain.
Christ led us by example into a new way, a Kingdom built out of self-sacrifice, humility, service, and loss.
He promises that if we will follow after His way, we’ll find what we’re all searching for… a new life, one that’s abundant and free.
One of the first things we’re often asked to do by God is to ‘wait’. He doesn’t assign us a prominent role in the ministry, He doesn’t place us in positions of great influence or authority, He often puts us in a ‘time-out’.
He’s not punishing us, He’s loving us. His voice will often urge us to ‘rest’. It seems odd. It seems out of place for us to ‘not’ pursue after our ministry, or work, or family. After all our entire life has been in ‘pursuit’ of something!
What is this weird request?
We may feel like we’re aren’t ‘needed’ for His purposes? Did we misunderstand Him. Did he misunderstand us? It’s so unusual to slow down and to actually stop running around that we feel useless, and irrelevant when we do. So we don’t.
Yet God asks us to be still.
The point I believe is we’re being ‘un-taught’ our worldly ways. In our world the harder we push the further we get. In God’s Kingdom, the way up is down. His ways are opposite of our ways, the slower we get the quieter we become. The less we do, the more we can hear.
When we learn to ‘hear’ clearly we can proceed with conviction and confidence. If we’re learning to live and work in ‘his’ strength, then knowing His will and way is far more important than working out the ways we’re going to accomplish things, or pondering the “how to’s” of our ministry.
God is speaking to us, it’s essential that we learn to slow down and stop. To rest and be quiet, it’s in these moments that we learn the most. His will is all that matters.
Blessings, Pastor B.
Isaiah 30:15 (ESV) “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,”
It’s always a temptation to doubt.
Life often doesn’t go like we planned, relationships get tough, finances strained, our work fails… we wonder where we’re going.
The struggle gets real with the news of cancer, loosing your job, a spouse who considers walking out, life can seriously strain one’s sanity at times. Parents get caught in the middle of this all the time, juggling one or more of these major stresses, yet needing to keep the ship balanced at home. The question becomes…how do we make sense of our faith when nothing makes sense anymore?
We get to decide what we’re going to do. The truth is, we’re not victims caught in the rush of water and helpless before the flood. What we can do is choose to ‘trust’. But when we can’t ‘see’ or ‘feel’ God, when our circumstances push us to the limits of our logic, God is near.
How do I know that? Many – Many – Many times I’ve been caught in desperate moments. I have struggled ‘wondering’ where God was in my hurt and loss. I’ve not always trusted God in those moments of confusion and pain, I’ve often allowed myself to ‘thrash’ emotionally, blaming myself, others, and God for the struggle or issues at hand. It’s exhausting and unnecessary.
But no matter how overwhelmed, shocked, or stressed out I may feel, I still retain the consciousness to recognize my free will. I have a choice to make. A decision for how I will respond. I’m not caught in a one way tunnel of darkness, I can still pull my gaze away from the nasty stuff around me and focus on the light of God’s word, and remember the power and love of my Savior.
It takes a massive effort to deny myself the satisfaction of being a victim, of living in the gutter of self pity. Instead I have to choose to remember God’s faithfulness. I have to deny my emotions and not allow them to rule over me. I have to embrace my faith within my own mind and heart. I have to decide to trust God, to acknowledge He is ‘good’.
These moments of choosing are the moments that build our faith. We can’t avoid our struggle, we can’t always flee or run and hide, we have to face it and we can do it in our own strength or in His. The struggle is to allow God to lead us when we can’t see or feel His presence… that takes ‘faith.
The choice is only ours to make. No one can do it for us, it’s deeply personal and painfully intimate. Once we make our choice, we can experience ‘peace.
My prayer for you and myself is this… “Lord give us the grace to hang on to the words you spoke to us, to remember the special promises of your scripture, to look for your salvation in this moment. Lord provide me the strength and wisdom to move forward in faith and open the doors you want me to enter and shut the ones not good for me. I trust your goodness, I believe in your sovereign power, and I look forward to seeing your miraculous solution to my impossible problems.”
Psalm 100:5 “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
Single Parent Stigma and the Church!
1/3 of all households are led by a single parent. (34%) Today’s single parents are struggling to engage with the church and with their faith. Being ‘alone’ and unsupported by the Christian culture is something solo parents often ‘feel’, no matter what a local community of faith might project.
The battle for single parents is real. It’s hard enough to raise our children to be responsible and well-balanced citizens, to provide for their well-being, and keep up with the all the myriad of demands that life throws at us. The challenge to do that without a spouse is nearly impossible. Single parents are overwhelmed by it all in the best of circumstances, and they need our help.
The role of church in coming along side of single parents has largely been a question. Many single parents feel abandoned or judged by the church and lack the confidence to enter the doors of a church to ask for help.
As parents, the demands of doing both a father and mother’s job with their kids is intimidating and discouraging. We as Christ-followers are challenged to help the “widows and orphans” as a manifestation of our ‘true religion”. (James 1:27)
What role should the church play in supporting a single parent? Why?
The growing needs and complex issues surrounding single parent families are not going away, and as our culture continues to shift… the role of family will obviously continue to grow and stretch. The church will need to stretch and grow with those changes and reach to meet the needs of parents in crisis. A big part of that change within the church will be the priority of creating ministries specifically focused on the needs of the single parent family.
Our interview today explores some of the ‘stigma’s associated with Single parent living, and how to engage with your local church in a way that will help and not hurt you! We invite you to listen in as Nikki tells her story of redemption and renewal!
About Nikki Leonti Edgar:
Nikki Leonti started her music career as a successful teen gospel singer. She went on to lend her vocals as a backing singer for artists such as Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, CeeLo Green, Demi Lovato & Amy Grant to name a few. As a sought-after vocalist in Los Angeles she contributes her talent to Fox’s hit show “Glee” as well as “American Idol”, “The Voice”, CW’s “Oh Sit” and many others!
Author of “All things Beautiful” 31 Devotionals for single moms!
Podcast Interview Link: https://soundcloud.com/brilliantlybrave/ep59-nikki-leonti-edgar
YouTube Link of interview: https://youtu.be/5CgGxmHJLMk
Solo Parent Society Link: https://soloparentsociety.com/
Brilliantly Brave Parenting Website Link: https://brilliantlybraveparenting.com
“All things beautiful” Devotional Link: https://www.amazon.com/All-Things-Beautiful-Devotions-Single/dp/1424556287
Fact: 34% of parents are single parent families.
“In the middle of struggling… that’s where the GOOD stuff happens” – Nikki Leonti Edgar
“Single parents struggle with feeling like a ‘failure’ when dealing with the issues single parents face in raising a family.”
“It’s difficult for Single Parents (SP) to know how to ask for help when you feel isolated and alone”
“SP’s need lifelines. Take the time to throw a lifeline to a single parent you know.”
“Ways to help SP’s in your life or church. – Babysitting – handyman services – errands – meals at home!”
Reading through the scriptures you can’t help but notice a pattern… the histories and testimonies of the patriarchs, prophets, priests, and kings all point to a common thread they share.
Sounds ominous, but it seems to be ‘the’ process God allows or uses to accomplish His will, His purposes in our lives.
The struggle of our will against God’s plan seems to work as the catalyst for our transformation. (think Jacob with the Angel)
We desire and direct our lives to a specific point, we include God and prayerfully ask for His blessing to our efforts, but often we find our way in decline and the struggle to proceed becomes harder and harder to sustain. It’s in this pain that we suffer and wait for answers, confused by the lack of progress or success and we wonder if God is against us.
He’s not against us. NEVER ever accept that lie. All of History reminds us of His passionate pursuit of our hearts! The great struggle of our faith is to cling steadfastly to this truth.
I’m learning a lot about these struggles and suffering moments right now, finding that it’s in these ‘storms’ of life that I am redirected from pursuing God as a means to ‘my’ progress. He’s more than a part of my plan, He’s bigger than all my plans and ambitions, He’s the entire point of it all. We have to reorient our lives around HIM.
We grow when we surrender our need to ‘know’ and accept His goodness for today and trust it will continue into tomorrow. I believe things radically changed in my life when I admitted my divided heart. That I was only partially in love with God and partially trying to manipulate Him into giving me what I thought I needed… but definitely wanted. I believe in the end He wants to be the focus and center of all my desire. He’s passionate to give us His best, and He wants to become number one, the focus of our attention and love.
The suffering of our lives puts those inconsistencies of our motives into the floodlights of God’s divine illumination – these personal epiphanies are the mile markers in our journey of faith. They become the moments of clear understanding and lead us to repentance, but often only come when we are exhausted and overwhelmed. It’s in those depths of despair that we finally surrender to God and in doing so they become the keys to our spiritual growth and maturity.
Brennan Manning in his book ‘Ruthless Trust” notes that we desire to have ‘clarity’ in our lives, often praying for it… but he points out that God wants us to have ‘trust’ in His goodness and His plan for our lives. There is a difference. (my paraphrase)
Clarity is knowledge of what’s coming. Trust is belief that God is in control of the future and that His plans are better than ours. Surrendering control is the door to us finding His peace and freedom from fear… easy to type, hard to act on.
Lord Help us ‘trust’ you in our suffering, help us to continue to believe in your goodness and give up our need to know and simply accept your leading us to a better place, that your plans can replace our own.
Blessings to you – Pastor B.