The Best Way To Work Through

What are you trying to work through?  If you’re like me, often it’s not just one thing. Whatever it is, it can consume our thoughts, drain our energy, and sink us low.

. . . heartbreak . . .a frustrating job . . . an unfair outcome . . . financial issues . . . a stressful relationship . . . an ongoing health matter . . . overcoming a fear . . . completing something  . . .a devastating loss.

I have been studying the book of Haggai, a two-page history near the end of the Old Testament. It’s been several years since I read it, and I thought I’d zip through in a couple of days. I was wrong. God is holding me in His words here, helping me learn more deeply Who He is and how He loves us. God speaks through the prophet Haggai and tells His people to first consider their past way of living and now to consider Who He is and how He wants them to live forward, how they are to work now.

And when God knew He held their attention, He assured them of His love: “I am with you, declares the LORD.” (Haggai 1.13)

Their obvious work is to rebuild God’s temple, a daunting and monumental job. Yet, I imagine among all these workers, they are working through personal struggles with any number of the themes listed above–not to mention the fear of attack from enemies. God knows this. He sees their heart and assures them of HIs commitment to them.

God sees how you and I sometimes work through things—by self-determination, by denial or avoidance, by complaining, judging, or jealousy. He sees our fear, grief, anger, or waning hope. I have wasted much time working through circumstances and relationships leaning on my emotions, on what I think, on whatever evidence is tangibly in front of me—rather than leaning in to God who is right here with me.

God loves us in our weakness, even when we lean away from Him. He doesn’t scold or shame us. He doesn’t ridicule or react as though He’s surprised by our behavior. He doesn’t leave or step back to give us space to figure out that we need Him. God remains near. He keeps His word:

“I am with you, declares the LORD.”

Back to Haggai…  God speaks again to His people, as they work.  “Be strong . . . Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts . . . My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.” (Haggai 2.4-5)

This. God is making us strong warriors.
He assures us that we can be strong as we work through anything because He is with us, because His Spirit is in our midst.

God knows the strength you and I need when circumstances wear us down or cause us to worry, to fear. He wants us to rest secure in His strength. How do we get there? We practice every day by getting to know Him through His Word, talking to Him, and learning to listen to Him.

This strength He calls us to is poured in to us and grown as we walk with Him. His pour is not like an energy drink that lasts for a few hours. When you and I lean in to Almighty God, He provides a sustaining stamina that compels awe in us.

When we depend on God’s strength, trusting HIs presence with us, His peace transcends the circumstance and He grows our faith to trust, He’s got this. We partner with Him and work through—and continue to become who He created us to be, all to His glory.

Dear God,
I don’t want to work through any thing on my own anymore. I am sorry for all the times that I have leaned away from you, rather than toward you. Thank you for your patient love. Thank you that you are always with me, in my midst. Help me believe this and trust you more. Amen.

Becoming Faith-Strong

img_0896I have that upper arm flabby skin that when I wave, the lower skin has its own wave going on. Ugh! I know the solution is exercise, so, I lift weights some-times, but not enough, nor often enough–and I’m a wimp when it comes to push-ups. Ah, if only such hard work wasn’t required!

I wonder if sometimes we think that growing in faith in God works like this—I need to work on trusting God more. I need to try harder to believe God. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10.17) We receive the gift of faith from God, as we receive Jesus as our Savior. God grows our faith as we engage in relationship with him. Simply, walk closer with him. To believe God more, get to know him more and talk with him more. Invite God to help you, to show you how. He responds. He graces us to experience his faithfulness, and he grows our muscle of faith.

img_1071When I read this, my lungs inhale hope and exhale relief. “That’s right, that’s right” echoes like a refrain on a hard day when doubt or discouragement battle for position in my head and heart. Other days, “So true, so true” whispers as testimony to a small victory or encouragement in the day. This is one verse that I use to help me know God and know He is faithful and know that He is growing my faith in him STRONG as I mess up or struggle in a circumstance.

img_0884And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2.6-7, NLT)(italics mine)

You and I believe in God. And many days we believe God—We look to him, trust and depend on Him. We have faith that He is the fullness of all that the scriptures tell . . . And then we live those days when we don’t look to Him. We look elsewhere—at our self, the other person, the relationship, the circumstance, or the history, and we end up believing one or more of these. We place our faith there. A sinking feeling weighs our heart down—yet, God is with us. He wants us to see our weakness, give it to him, draw closer, and grow strong.

We become faith-strong as we practice and exercise our muscle of faith.

img_0882Dear God,  
I have realized that I spend a lot of time thinking, fretting, worrying about people or outcomes or how to make something happen. You are LORD. You are sovereign. And You want me, all of me, all of my heart to trust you. I need your help to lay down unhealthy patterns of thinking and doing, to lay down fears—and to be still and absorb the peace of your faithfulness. Search my heart that I can unload all to you now. And fill these spaces in me with You. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Mother’s Perspective and Prayer for May

DSC00004Happy (belated) Mother’s Day!

Don’t you like the way that Mother’s Day is in May? I like to think it gives us a second wind to finish this month strong. (just kidding)

When our children lived at home, I loved the month of May and I braced myself for May. I loved that the school year was soon to end – which meant homework reminders, last-minute projects, making lunches, hurried mornings, jam-packed afternoons, and rushed suppers would end for a season. I braced myself for everything that would happen before that. During May every final project, paper, test, exam, field trip, award ceremony, athletic game or play-off, art or music or drama program, or other special day happens. It’s just the way it is.

Every year I tried to “handle” May better than the year before. I tried not to live to get through it, but to savor it. Plenty of hours I failed, but plenty were delicious.

Through the hurried meal preps and even-more-hurried meals, the endless car time, the homework, after-school activities, and learning how to get along under our own roof – our family grows. Our children are learning – all kinds of things. Activities reveal interests, accomplishment, or a new friend. Moments around the table, in the car, or hurrying out the door provide snapshots of relationship growth, even friendship. We are learning.

DSC00975I hope you find this prayer helpful to savor more days of May ~

Dear God,
Thank you for giving me today and for each of my children. I commit this day to you. Help me seek and follow your plan – and not mine. Prepare me for what you already know will be a part of this day. I give you my weariness, my hurts, and my worries. Please refresh, heal, and comfort me. Fill me with your love and help me love with your love this day. Help me see each child the way you do. Alert me to be present to you – so my thoughts, words, and behavior reflect you more. Help me learn to seize moments to be still and enjoy each child. Thank you that you love me so much. I love you. Amen.