Grandpa- 101 Years of Example

I have to admit.  I have been a little down the past few days.  The reality of the change we are up against with regards to the Corona Virus has hit me more than once.  I’ve found myself thinking about how easy I’ve had it the past 49 years, and now it seems my world has been grabbed by one end and shaken out like a dusty rug at the entry way of a house.  Dust is flying everywhere and I’m not sure when the air will clear enough for me to breathe.  I was complaining to God about my feelings the other morning.  “My world will never be the same…” Then I was gently reminded, “Is that what you wanted? Did you want your world to never change?”  Good point.  Maybe my comfort levels, my ease… that would be good to leave them alone.  But the very changes I have prayed for in my world, those would be good to adjust. 

Here’s the deal… Change is a part of life.  You can’t dodge it or escape.  It happens and you have to just go through.

My Grandpa was born in 1914.  He died a few years ago just a few days shy of his 101st Birthday.  When he was 4 years old the world was in the midst of another infamous pandemic, The Spanish Flu.  I never heard him talk about it, so he may have been young enough to not remember it much, but I do remember hearing stories about his life during The Great Depression. How as a boy he hunted and fished, not for pleasure, but to help feed his siblings and himself, so much so that he wasn’t much a fan of either when he got older. He just went to the pond and watched us fish.  He witnessed World War I and II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War, the war his oldest son fought in and was faced with uncertainty of how that would end up for him, he came home.  He had loved ones born and loved ones die, among which were infant grandbabies.  He lost a great grandson, my nephew in the Gulf of Aden- lost at sea while serving with the United States Navy.  He saw marriages in the family, he saw divorces.  He stood at the side of the casket of his only lifelong love of 60 plus years gazing at her and commenting on how young she looked, like the days before they had moved from Kansas decades before.  He outlived all his siblings, 7 of them, and most of his friends. In fact towards the end, that fact kind of hit him- “I’m the last one left.”

He saw changes, but I never saw him fearful or complain. In fact, I’ve only mentioned a portion of the challenges he faced in his 101 years on earth, but the memories I have of him are not of a man filled with fear. Instead it was a quiet man, who would always greet me with a hug and ask me, “How’s my girl?”  Grandpa just adjusted to it all somehow.  He had Faith in Jesus, evidenced to me by his presence in his spot every Sunday and Wednesday at church in the back right hand corner pew all the years of my life until he couldn’t drive to church any more some time in his 90’s.  He lived his life, and he went on. He did what he had to do, and he enjoyed what he had, his farm, his business, his family , his God, and his life.

Grandpa never escaped the changes, and neither will I.  Some will bring joy, some incredible sadness. I guess what matters most is how I end up going through them.  I look at the current situation of my world, and I can’t see a way that any of it is going to get any better any time soon, but I’m certain there were times my Grandpa must have felt the same way. But he made it through with stories to tell of the better times of life. Stories of drag racing Model T’s and boat racing with “The Tub”. In his older years, playing “The Game” and Mowing his lawn gave him great joy. Grandpa rarely talked about the bad, the hard, the sad.  He had many stories to tell of other times, which is probably what helped him to live so long.

I’ve often said I wanted to make it to at least 90. I have a lot of living I want to do.  It’s easy to forget that in order to make it that long, I’ll have to live through the good times and the bad.  But the main thing is to live life with joy.  I must experience the life that is before me now, do my best to live my life with my Faith in Jesus as my guide, enjoy the good things along the way and know that even when things are painful, God is there to hold me close as I go through.  Ultimately I will make it through the ups and downs of this life and some day live free in heaven.  That’s what my day of contemplating Grandpa’s life has taught me.  101 years of his example has spoken a lot more than what his words could have ever said.

 

 

Lessons Learned: the Birds, the Flowers, and a Stare Down With a Deer

What a evening for a sunset walk! It felt so good to listen to the birds singing as I walked by our pond. It reminded me of when I was a kid and went fishing at my Grandma’s Pond. Such a happy place of peace. As I strolled by our garden plot and looked over the fence to the Federal Forest land. I saw a deer watching me from a distance. So I decided to watch it. I’ve never really been in a staring contest with a deer before until tonight, and I have to admit. The deer won. It hit me as I watched the birds flying overhead and listened to the animal sounds. These animals don’t have a care. They do what they need to do for today and they don’t worry about tomorrow. Jesus talked about this very thing. He talked about how the birds don’t plant fields or store food in barns. Yet God takes care of them, and the beautiful flowers of spring and summer don’t work hard to clothe themselves. God does and He dresses them magnificently. He talked about how we aren’t to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow has enough worries of its own. If God has the birds and the flowers, and my stare off challenging deer, He has me.

My staring contest opponent

It’s Tuesday and it’s already been a week. I am fully aware of how blessed I am to be where I am during our national crises. But it is still hard not to let fear, anxiety, and worry creep in. I had to make a journey to town today. (Not that far away. Just 8 miles.) My daughter who is staying with us has a bad tooth ache. I was blessed to get ahold of our dentist, who called her out an antibiotic for the infection. It’s kind of unnerving not feeling like you can just take her to the local walk in clinic and have it looked at whenever you need to. Now it feels like a life and death endeavor. As I drove through town, our town had a large sign informing the residents of the Covid-19 threat. Displayed for all to see at the only roundabout in town. We’ve had an outbreak here. Not a whole lot of cases, but for a small town, too many. I’ve never been germ conscious in my life. But today I was not pleased to touch the gas pump handle, and pick up some necessary items at a local store. Not to mention go through a drive thru pharmacy window to pick up my daughter’s RX. Even though my social isolation with my husband and three of our kids hasn’t been that bad, (actually at times it feels like a vacation) I’m starting to feel the fear and paranoia of touching things in public and running the necessary errands. I have contemplated the hardships in New York as they struggle with their outbreak, Italy, and others. Then the weight of the heart break a family we are friends with as they struggle with the possibility of losing their husband, son, and dad as he fights to stay alive in the hospital 30 miles from my home. (Not covid related). So much weight…

Thus the walk… blue skies with light fluffy clouds and my prayer floats up too. “God everything seems to be just going on as normal. These are the same things I saw, the same sounds I heard a year ago this time on the walk I did back then. Nature has no idea the hardship and pain in our world right now. It just goes on.” Birds are preoccupied with singing and finding a worm here and there, and my deer friend: he’s concerned about whether a middle aged woman could be fast enough to bolt across a field and catch him so he’s going to keep an eye on me. All living in the moment. All taken care of by something much bigger than themselves, God.

What about me? The weight of the events that surround my heart could easily smother me if I let them. But I know I need to leave them in bigger hands than I have. My running ahead trying to figure out how this will all end up is futile. My looking back at how I could have, should have, would have done better at sanitizing everything around me is probably futile as well. Although I am a proponent of doing what you can.

Somewhere along the way I have got to just trust. I have to know that the same God that orchestrates the seasons, watches the animals scurry, and keeps the planets in their orbit so we don’t end up in an interplanetary marble game, with us riding on the blue and white ball. He’s the same God who numbers the hairs on my head (which happens to be a lot, thick hair) and watches me when I wake and when I lay down to rest. He will take care of me. He loves me. He has the current events. I must keep my eyes on Him and trust Him.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:26-31, 33-34‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Is Jesus Enough?

What a week!  News nationally, state wide, and locally has gone from bad to worse.  Our small town that seemed to be so isolated from it all has developed five local cases of Covid-19.  I took comfort thinking, “At least I don’t live in the big city…” Now not so much any more…

Last night we decided to video chat with some friends we used to have a home fellowship with on Messenger. It was like water to a thirsty soul.  For about 15 min or more we laughed at each other as we, a group of 40’s/ 50’s year old’s, tried the different effects out and lamented how we wished there was an app for playing “Village Idiot” card game so we could play once again together.  It felt good to look at the faces of friends we have been doing life with for years, some of them for almost 20 years. After a while we started asking each other how they were holding up.  In our group, we have a pharmacist, a nursing director for a nursing home, a nuclear professional, a building contractor, and a couple of stay at home moms.  My heart ached as we talked about the fear people have and the measures we have had to go to in order to try to slow the spread of this dreadful disease.  My friend who worked in the nursing home talked about how they have had to limit the old people to their rooms in hopes of isolating them better, families bringing dry erase markers and playing tic tac toe outside of their windows and exchanging smiles.  My friend who works at the pharmacy talked about the extra orders of medicine and the lack of Tylenol for people who actually have something else, like the flu because of the panic buying.  We rounded off our evening with praying for each other and specific situations we are aware of, such as a mutual friend in the ICU currently hanging on to his life while his wife is praying not only for him to live, but that sh0e won’t have to leave his side because of Covid-19 protocol that has to be enacted.  Hard times…

As I laid my head on my pillow last night, I kept hearing the words, “Is Jesus Enough?” rolling around in my head.  It seems quite unfair for all these bad events to culminate at once, and these are just the few I know of in my little corner of the woods.  The more I thought about those words, “Is Jesus Enough?” The more I concluded, “Oh yes Lord, I know you are more than enough.”
Although these are crazy/ hard times, I have seen crazy/ hard times before.  At age 21, I lost a precious friend in a tractor accident while working at a church camp.  The very camp I came to know Jesus in.  I’ve watched loved ones suffer as cancer slowly, but really not so slow, took it’s toll on their bodies.  I’ve experienced the pain of miscarriage, loved ones deaths, limiting illnesses of those close to me, friends struggling with infertility, unfair abuse being heaped upon the innocent, etc.  And in each of those situation, I have seen Jesus be enough. 

My first and only experience with watching someone die has been my father in law.  For a little over a year,  he suffered as an aggressive form of prostate cancer ravaged his body, but with each visit, even up to his very last he never failed to grab ahold of us and pray for God to bless us. On his last day, I sat by him on his bed. As I watched him gasping for breath and then breathing so shallow, I saw him utter words after a complete day of saying nothing and showing no response. Moments before he took his last breaths. He suddenly began to speak, “Jesus… Jesus… Jesus…” and then he was gone.  It was in that moment that I felt something that I’ve never felt so strong.  It was God’s presence in the room.  The most heartbreaking, gut wrenching moment of our lives was made peaceful by a moment and a truth that is engraved in my heart. “Jesus is enough.”

I am a creature of comfort.  I would rather laugh, than cry.  I don’t enjoy pain. I have no desire to walk through difficulty, but I know that no matter what may come in the days, weeks, months ahead, “Jesus is enough.”

Psalm 16 has been rolling around in my heart today.  “Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.  I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing… Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.”” This Psalm was written by David.  David was a man that God describes as a man “after God’s own heart.”  David pursued a relationship with God.  He wrote many songs and poems expressing His love for God, at times rejoicing, at times lamenting, at times happy, at times sad.  David expressed it all.  He had times of great victory and times of great defeat, times of overwhelming joy and times of overwhelming grief.  But in it all He said, “God you are my portion.”  “You are my everything.”  David didn’t allow fear to rule over him because he had confidence that he would see God’s goodness.  I can be confident of the same.

Things may go well,this virus quickly passes by, and my life returns to normal.  Or, things may never be the same, pain, sickness, and death may come to me or those around me, but I have this confidence, “My Jesus is Enough!”

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I am practicing social isolation with four others, my husband and kids ages 16-21, here in a home that a few months ago seemed too big for us because it was often empty as we all ran our different directions living our lives. Now it seems too small as we all hunker down in one place together and it continues to rain outside… To lighten the mood we have posted some crazy videos of us singing “La Bamba” and rapping a rap I wrote 30 years ago in college about accidently hitting a cat with a car: Purely a joking/ crazy song intended for laughter, not violence against kitties.  (I have one I dearly love living in my house right now.)

I’ve posted these videos on Facebook and had friends from decades ago, laughing and sharing crazy stories of fun times passed by.  It was one comment that my cousin I haven’t seen in years stuck out to me as I laughed at the different replies.  “Had to share your post with pride– this is history and you are handling it with some awesome sauce instead of panic that is out there.  Making the best out of our situation.”  I thought about what she said, and contemplated what has made the difference.  Once again I come back to the answer of why I can have peace and joy in the midst of times of fear and sadness.  Jesus is enough!

(I’ve not really went here before on my blog, because I usually write as a therapeutic aid to my soul.  But I want you to know you too can experience this hope, peace, and joy. I would be happy to point the way and pray for you in the things you are facing.)

 

Nothing But Blue Sky Above the Storm

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2 NIV

Wow! What a week! At the beginning of the week, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a meme that said, “Time change, a full moon, Friday the 13th…What could possibly go wrong?” I laughed at the pile of superstitions heaped onto one week, and scrolled on. I don’t believe that any of that had any weight to bear on where we are after this week of frightening announcements and unprecedented actions of our leaders. Gazing at the “natural realm” after the past week could make it quite possible for a person to be left shaking in their boots. But I can assure you that when I laid my head on my pillow last night I slept with perfect peace. Because I am assured that my God is in absolute control, and I know He cares for me.

I’ve openly shared in this blog that I struggle with the thoughts in my mind.  I think that’s pretty common for the human condition. It’s a struggle that I have, at times, felt very defeated in. I have tried so many different techniques to try to conquer the fears, anxiety, and at times torments that have existed in my mind. Some successful, some not so much… Recently, I have been approaching the fight with an all weapons out approach. Everything from uplifting music, self-care, and exercise, to Bible meditation, Bible study, prayer, counseling, etc. It really seems to help. One of the videos I watched recently on focusing our thoughts has had a profound impact on me.  Especially after taking the little gem of information it held and combining it with what the Word of God says.  

The video pointed out how our minds are like the blue sky. Occasionally we see a peaceful little cloud float by and that doesn’t bother us so bad because we can still see the blue.  However, there are times that storms rage and it seems the blue sky has disappeared, but just like an airplane can rise above the storms and see the blue again we know the blue is always there.  

I like this illustration better when I put God into the equation.  My mind focused on Christ is like the blue sky.  It’s the mind “set on Christ, Things above.” Occasionally cute little white clouds float by and get my attention.  They may be daily interactions with loved ones that are seemingly unspiritual, enjoying a cookie, laughing at a funny meme on Facebook etc.  I notice them, but over all the blue sky (Jesus) is the main focus of my mind.  Occasionally a storm starts to blow.  As it comes in, I find myself unable to see the blue sky (Jesus) and focus on it.  I know deep in my heart He is there somewhere.  But the Holy Spirit has given me the power to rise above the storm of my mind. He is the airplane that can help me to fly above the clouds and once again see the blue sky, Jesus, having confidence that the storm will pass in time.  But HE, Jesus, the blue sky will never leave me. 

I went grocery shopping Thursday morning, as the fears of COVID 19 were starting to ramp up in my area of the Nation. I was amazed at the similarities in the over all moods of my co-shoppers that were with me and the moods of the co-shoppers I felt the evening of 9/11/2001 when I went to Walmart, the somberness, anxiousness, etc. It seems that the over all feelings of uncertainty, panic, and being out of control had hit everyone. As I was checking out, I heard an older gentleman talking to his checker and discussing the current situation. After a few words, he said, “We don’t have to fear. God is in control.” He had his mind set on the “Blue sky- Jesus” that reigns above the storm. That impressed upon me the importance of this moment we live in. While talking to my kids that remain at home, trying to give them a sense of stability in a tumultuous week, where their social lives and school lives have been wrought with changes, not to mention, dad coming home to work for several weeks (something they have never seen), I quoted a Bible verse. “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 NKJV

This is our time to shine! It is the time I can point out how I have found peace in a mind that struggles. It is a time that I can speak peace to my neighbors, friends, and family that surround me. Jesus is the blue sky above the storm, whether it be anxious thoughts in my mind, or a global pandemic. I can rest in Him. Could I or someone I love suffer in the upcoming weeks? Yes, that is a possibility, but I know that Jesus is the healer. Whether HE steps in a physically heals our afflictions, or I stand face to face with Him in the time of my death. (Not that I’m afraid I’ll get sick and die). I am with Him. I can be at peace. I can let my mind rise above the clouds that try to keep it constrained, and fly high in the blue sky of God’s love knowing that He cares for me. I can be free from fear.

God is Faithful!

The view off my front porch this morning. God’s faithfulness is never ending. As long as I can remember and before, the sun rises and as long as I can remember until I am no more,it will continue. The sun seems pretty faithful. But even it will some day fail. God is bigger than the sun. He made it, and He has set His affections on me and you. So if He is orchestrating the faithfulness of sunrise and sunset, the God who loves us will so much more work in our lives to demonstrate His faithfulness. Trust in Him!

Leave It All Behind

Genesis 12:1 MSG “God told Abram: “Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you.”

While growing up in the 70’s/80’s, one of my favorite TV shows was “Little House on the Prairie”. If I listen closely in my mind, I can hear the theme song starting up with the view of a covered wagon being pulled along. The TV show is a classic. I could watch the reruns over and over. There’s something about the Ingalls family arriving out in the vast openness of unsettled territory and building something of their own against opposition that strikes a warm feeling in my heart. The bravery and unity makes it a novelty to the adventurous side of me. Leaving it all behind and starting out fresh. That’s an adventure.

The Bible is full of stories of people who left the familiar behind to pursue the extraordinary. From Abram, later Abraham, to Moses and the Jews, to the disciples and their fish nets, to the prostitute brought to Jesus to be judged and then executed, but was told to go and sin no more. Leaving behind is a concept that God championed from the moment Adam and Eve decided to pick up sin in the Garden and began the burden carrying of the human race. It would take a “leaving behind” of sorts to really be free.

I’ve often thought of the courage it took to hop into a covered wagon with husband and kids and traverse such a long distance that seeing family and the town you grew up in would become virtually impossible. That is truly leaving it behind. That’s the kind of courage that Abram needed to get up and leave all the familiar to pursue the promises in the vastness of the Call of God. Abram did what God wanted with full assurance that the One who called him out was taking him to a better land. He believed he would see a “city whose architect and builder was God” Hebrews 11:10.

There are places, in our minds, that are very hard to “leave behind” Anxieties, Guilt, false responsibility, fears, etc. I have wrestled with walking away from them on the daily. I try to imagine how it would be if I were to hop on a covered wagon and travel for days to a new place far away from them. It would be impossible to pick them up or entertain them in the least. I would be “forced” to entertain the factors of the New Life. The truth of the matter is that I do have a New Life, and I am not “forced” but invited to leave behind and travel far away from the land of captivity I have lived. I can leave behind the anxieties and pick up trust. I can leave behind the guilt and pick up my freedom from fault. I can leave behind all the false responsibility I have carried and accept what is truly mine to maintain. I can leave behind the fears and pick up the courage to accept what is. I can drop off the chains because I am free.

When the crushing weight of what I was never meant to be tries to weigh my mind down, I can get out from underneath it all. Because I am a new creation that is free.  God has called me out. 

I love Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” God wants us free. He wants us to know a life without the burdens we carry, some self-imposed, some others imposed. As it says in Psalms 40, God has lifted us from a pit and set us upon a rock. He has filled our mouths with a new song of praise to God. So that many will see just what God can do and put their trust in Him. Our leaving behind the old to pursue the vast newness of God’s Freedom Frontier is a testimony to all those behind us struggling in their own pits. It speaks of how you can be pulled out and move on to the Land of the Blessed Life that Jesus died to give. The land of freedom for which Christ in His great love has set us free to explore and enjoy.

2020 God’s Year to Restore

I was in high school when God really got ahold of my life, and for a teenager I was pretty radical in trying to communicate it to everyone around me. I was one of those carry my Bible to school teens, and together with a couple of close friends I helped to start and lead a before school prayer group in my high school’s cafeteria. Then came the college years, I got involved in a campus ministry, and I was determined to do everything I could to show my generation the love of God and His power.

God has His ways of tempering a rough around the edges zealot. Lol. It’s called marriage, motherhood, and life. It’s not that I’ve lost my fervor and zeal. It’s just a process of deepening and enriching a relationship. It’s the understanding that comes when your newborn ends up in the NICU because of breathing problems and you feel so alone because your husband can’t wake up due to lack of sleep. So you call out to the only one who never sleeps and who never leaves you. It’s the comfort you receive after the miscarriage of a pregnancy you had been waiting for for a year. It’s the assurance of more to life after suffering two losses of a father in love and a nephew within 15 days of each other. The assurance that a God is there with you when you feel life couldn’t possibly get any harder or feel any worse. That’s the stuff that knocks off the rough edges of pride and self sufficiency in a person.

Sometimes the difficulties may wear the edges down too much, and you forget. That’s where I have found myself at times this year, while walking through some very tough situations with ones I love. I know I’ve got a deep well to draw from in my relationship with the Lord, but retrieving the bucket with the extra long rope can be overwhelming at times.

This morning when I woke up I remembered a time when I was younger that I would ask God to speak something new to me about the New Year. I would anticipate that verse or word to come and really set the tone for what is to come. I felt like God was impressing me to ask. But I, in my worn down fashion, thought… “uh no, well ok. What do you want to say to me God?” Then I opened my email to see this verse on my “Abide” app email.

“The years of the locust…”

Immediately my mind went to a time this year while sitting in the waiting room at a hospital waiting to hear what could be done to help my daughter after her suicide attempt. Satan had done all he could possibly do to try to destroy her. But God was bigger.

Then I thought of the positions I’ve stepped down from this past year. My husband and I have joked about how the song “Nobody” by Casting Crowns was our new theme song. If we ever felt like we were somebody we can be comforted knowing we can be “just a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody who saved my soul.”

There had been struggles in other areas of our lives as well.

2019 seemed like a year the locust had a feast in our lives in some areas. But the good news is when the locusts have been having a feast, God promises to “restore”- to bring back to its former state, as good as new, or even better.

God is a God of restoration. His power “makes all things new” even the things that look irreparable. Because He is good!

There’s a song out by Bethel called “The Goodness of God”. It has been my theme song as of late. When we can’t see which side is up and our eyes are blind with pain we can be assured that God’s goodness is running after us. And the things that have been broken beyond repair are restored in God’s healing hands.

The locusts May have stripped our hearts bare, but God. He restores, and I am anticipating this year to be the year of restoration because of His goodness. Welcome 2020.

I Am Afraid

Admitting a feeling is a risky business. Especially when you’ve lived your life with a “don’t ever let them see you sweat” mentality. Today I am going to risk appearing weak, faithless, and vulnerable by admitting I am afraid. I have a situation looming in front of me. It could go one of two ways. When I look at it, I have to admit… I am afraid. It’s ironic to me that David in the Psalms also had something he was afraid of and yet he didn’t try to ignore it. He didn’t try to play out the super spiritual person and not speak of it for fear of confessing bad things. He laid it out squarely before God. He told God what he was afraid of and presented every aspect of his fear to God. Then he told God in spite of what he felt, the fear, he was going to trust God. It’s little wonder to me that the Bible refers to David as a “man after God’s own heart.” God doesn’t expect us to try to hide how we feel. It’s much better to just step on out into the light and admit it’s there and let Him do what only He can do. For me to try to put on the brave face and suck it up is like the equivalent of Adam and Eve in the garden trying to sew some leaves together to hide their nakedness. God already knew what they looked like inside and out. There’s no hiding ourselves from Him.

Yes… I am afraid. But I also know that there is a God who is bigger than my fear. I’m pretty sure that He delights in showing me just how big He is. Opening the door and letting Him see my fear gives Him the opportunity to let His love fill the room in my heart where the fear has been. That love fills, floods, and flushes out the fear that is trying to infect the core of me. “Perfect love casts out all fear.” It’s that small movement of trust that opens the door to let Him in. I feel afraid, here it is. This is what I feel. You see it and I will say that it is there, but I chose to trust You in the face of that fear.

“But in the day that I’m afraid, I lay all my fears before you and trust in you with all my heart.” Psalm 56:3 TPT

I’m Not Enough

I am acutely aware of my insufficiency. Sometimes it shouts at me like a blaring horn.

This morning I sat down with my cup of coffee and put my Bible in my lap. As my mind went to a situation I am up against I whispered out to God, “I can’t do this.” Then I proceded to really look at my Bible for a second and the cover of it spoke back to me.

I could almost hear God saying “Oh yes you can. “.

When I first became aware of Philippians 4:13, I was in High School. For some reason it just seemed like it referred to doing some impossible physical feat in my mind. Like running a race, bench pressing a new weight record, or scoring the winning goal in a game. I didn’t really think of the context of the verse until later in life. Right before Paul wrote those famous words of being able to do all things through Christ, who gives him strength, he was talking about contentment in all circumstances. He talks about being in need and having plenty. He talks about being fed or hungry. He could handle it all “through Christ who gives me strength.” He was not talking about some extra, frivolous achievement that would be gratifying to accomplish. He was talking about contentment in the daily struggle of life, Peace in the ups and downs, walking through hard times with the knowledge that God really doesn’t leave us alone.

There’s a song by Elevation Worship that I contemplate frequently. It’s called “Here Again”. The lyrics that always speak to me are

“I‘m not enough unless You come
Will You meet me here again
‘Cause all I want is all You are
Will You meet me here again?”

Sometimes when I look at the giants ahead of me in my path, I identify myself as “Not Enough”. The giants are bigger than me. The giants are stronger. The giants are intimidating. I am not enough. But the truth is my insufficiencies, my imperfections, my lack are exactly where God meets me. I may be afraid of what is to come, but I can be assured that I am never left alone in it. God always meets me there. In fact if I really opened my eyes I would see He really wasn’t meeting me there. He hadn’t ever left. He was always there, when I felt Him in the times of peace and joy, and when I couldn’t feel Him in the times of trial.

As the song says,

Not for a minute
Was I forsaken
The Lord is in this place

It’s ok to take my Identity of “Not enough” to Him. Because He is the God who makes all things new. My “Not Enough” becomes “More than Enough” when I see that God is with me no matter how the path I’m on seems. He doesn’t look at it and say, “This place is too hard for me to walk with you.” Not for one minute does He forsake me. He’s always in this place, whatever it may be.

Be Strong and Courageous

Written 3 years ago as my Facebook Post, I needed this today:

Youthful zeal is a good thing. As a high school and college student, I had confidence in a God who answered my prayers and I knew that through Him I could conquer giants. Time and circumstances can wear away at your confidence, if given the opportunity, or time and circumstances can build your faith to see the faithfulness of God in all things.

I am struck this morning by the life of Joshua. He lived a long life and saw the miraculous. If I’ve got this all calculated out right, he crossed the Red Sea and saw the armies of Pharaoh drown in the water. He spied out the Promised Land at the age of around 40. He wasn’t intimidated at the size of the giants in the land or their fortified cities. Instead He boldly said, “The Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” (Numbers 14:9)

Due to the Israelite’s rebellion, he wandered with them for 40 years depending on the Lord’s provisions of Quail and Manna. He saw the constant complaining of the people. He was there when the people worshiped the golden calf. He experienced all the hardships of wandering and watched as one by one the people who rebelled died. Once again at the age of around 80 he was given the chance to go in and conquer giants.

This is what sticks out to me the most in the story of his life. Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

God comes to Joshua and tells him, “You are going to lead this people into the land I have promised. I am going to go with you. You are going to conquer the land.” But more than anything, He tells Joshua more than once, “Be strong and courageous.” He encourages him to not be afraid. Could it be that there was a reason for that? Joshua knew what was ahead. He knew there were fortified cities. He knew there were giants. He saw them. Could it be that the 40 years of wandering and watching may have worked a little on his resolve? He knew he had a big God capable of miraculous intervention, but he also knew the hardship of walking out God’s plan for him in 40 years of wandering with God’s people. Maybe Joshua needed to hear God say, “Don’t be afraid.”

I’ve always pictured Joshua as some muscle bound, warrior. Chomping at the bit to go out and conquer it all. It’s quite a bit different to picture him as an 80 year old man, who has seen a lot in his lifetime and may be a little weary from the journey. It may be possible that Joshua needed to hear, “Be strong and courageous.” Straight from the lips of God. So he would know that God really wasn’t done with him yet. He had plans for him and promises yet to be fulfilled.

Giants in the land can be quite the intimidating thing. Fortified cities can stand before you as a mountainous obstacle. Wandering around for 40 years can wear on your resolve.

Sometimes I can look at what I perceive I must face in front of me and I may feel like the 80 year old Joshua inside of me. I know I have a faithful God. I have seen Him do great miracles. Yet I stand at the beginning of yet another adventure and wonder, “Do I have the stuff to conquer the giants facing me?” Here is where I can find great comfort in looking at the life of Joshua. Forty years later, at the age of 120, as he knew he was getting close to dying he says these words, “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” Joshua 23:14.

He fought many hard battles as they conquered the Promised Land. But he also knew the secret to his success. “The Lord God fights for you. Just as He promised. ” Joshua 23:10

My giants I face may stand looming as great opponents of significant size, but my God who fights for me is bigger than whatever battle I face. Not one promise of my God will fail me. They will all be fulfilled, and I stand as a victor against my enemies that rise up and try to cause me to walk in fear and doubt.

Now is not the time at the age of 45 to curl up and say that life is too hard. Now is the time to go on in and let the Lord fight for me as He leads me to the place He has given me. His place of Victory in Jesus.