Tag Archives: faithfulness

My Sure and Steadfast Anchor.

12 May

I have been MIA from the blogging world because life has exploded. I started my new job, our dogs are misbehaving left and right, people are having babies, getting married, and graduating from high school, and I’m training for a triathlon, cooking dinner, doing laundry, cleaning, gardening, etc. I’m taking it one day at a time.

My spiritual life has been suffering the most. I’ve been trying to work out a flow to my mornings so that I can both train and get in the Word. I’m starting to think that getting in the Word at lunch might be more realistic but I would prefer the morning. So I’m still experimenting (getting up at 5 am is hard after being unemployed!). Combine my inconsistency with the Word with having a new job and daily schedule and I feel like I’m living in a twilight zone.

This happened to me when I started my job for the triathlon company last year and it wore off after a few weeks, so I’m not too worried. But I miss God! I just feel spiritually distant, as if God isn’t relevant or intimate in this new realm I’m living in.

Today during lunch, I sat down at my computer with my small, waterlogged Bible that Travis took to Ghana and this is what came out:

In the midst of chaos

I know God is still there

But I’m lost in transience

Unhinged from reality

Trying to run to Truth

With my heart as the hurdle

 

What happened to my grip on eternity,

My basking in forever,

My praise of the Glorious One

This earth doesn’t know?

 

My only comfort is You

A Rock of strength in a heart of quicksand

You uphold me when I’m lost at sea

All my driftings are charted

On Your map

And You’ll lead me home again

Someday

For You have prepared me

For this very thing

Guaranteed.

 

I didn’t take the time to edit it much so it’s pretty raw and I haven’t written a poem in years — poetry is the way I express my heart when there aren’t sufficient words for how I feel. So that’s where I am right now. I am so thankful that, like Matt Redman writes in his song How Great is Your Faithfulness,:

Everything changes, but You stay the same
Your word and kingdom endure
We lean on the promise of all that You are
And trust forevermore
We will trust forevermore
 
Hopefully one of these days I’ll have time for a longer post!

Resting in God for Life

15 Jan

God is so faithful.

I had a rough start to this past week. Being back from Mexico, I was confronted with all of the problems I had left behind: namely, my struggle with what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. Again, I was stressed out. It felt like there was a heavy ball of anxiety sitting right on my chest. I felt paralyzed. I had nothing that I had to do and yet didn’t feel free to do anything. I felt like I had to be productive. Like that’s what a good model citizen does – they get stuff done. But I didn’t want to get stuff done. I wanted to relax and read.

Little by little, God has been inviting me to release the responsibility I feel for my life. At first, He showed me I could let go of being responsible for my sanctification. Instead of rifling through my own soul looking for sins that I needed to work on, I could trust God to convict me of the sins that He wanted me to work on.

He then showed me I could let go of being responsible for projects at work. Even though I don’t technically have a job right now, I am helping out at the church and as such, I feel involved enough to be held responsible for things succeeding or failing. But God says that I can release those projects to Him too. It’s not me accomplishing His work – it’s Him accomplishing His work through me. I wrote these points in my journal:

1. God knows what needs to be done and when.

2. I can trust God to guide my day and to provide the wisdom, inspiration, and motivation necessary. I can even trust Him to bring to mind things I need to remember.

3. I can leave unfinished projects in God’s care – this is His work after all. He will take care of it.

4. If and when I fail, I can run to God and He will help me fix the mess. He is a gracious, patient and loving God.

Finally, God showed me that I can let go of what I have perceived to be the things I needed to be doing to live the life I want to live. I had been creating my own religious rules about how to live but God had not empowered me to live those. I constantly felt like I should be doing more than I was doing. If I bought a coffee at Starbuck’s, I felt guilty that I didn’t donate that money to charity. If I spent time reading a book, I felt guilty that I was making myself happy instead of helping someone else in need. I was constantly questioning my motives and constantly feeling condemned by what I perceived to be the selfishness of everything I did. Even the good, thoughtful things I did for others were swallowed up in the notion that they were just drops in the ocean of my own patheticness.

But praise the Lord, He has revealed the truth to me! On Thursday morning, after feeling very discouraged and fed up with life on Wednesday night, God showed me that what had started out as a good desire – wanting to live above the status quo for Christ – I had turned into an end in itself. I was trying to make myself right with God by setting a high standard for my way of life. I only succeeded in making myself miserable. Because I can’t make myself right with God!

And I don’t have to. I don’t have to procure my own salvation because of Jesus and I don’t have to make my life count because of Jesus. For the longest time, I thought that surrendering control meant conceding defeat. Resting in Christ meant that I didn’t care if my life changed – it meant I was ok if I just kept on living the typical American lifestyle. But I did care! So I couldn’t, I wouldn’t surrender. I had to make my life what I thought it should be – because if I didn’t, who would?

I am in awe at God’s perfect timing. Just totally in awe. In the past month, I read 2 books that revolutionized the way I look at my relationship with God: Walking With God by John Eldredge and Soul Craving by Joel Warne. Both authors talk about listening to God, walking through situations with God, talking to God, communing with God. I had never before realized that such an intimate two-way interaction with God was possible!

Because of that new discovery, the idea of surrendering control of my life and my expectations and desires to God makes sense. Before, I didn’t understand how I could let go of control and expect things to still happen. I mean, after all, even though God is sovereign, He is not a puppeteer. I still have to act. So how would anything change if I gave up trying to change things?

I see now that change comes out of an intimate relationship with God. As I am walking with God, talking with Him, listening to Him, inviting Him in to every area and experience of my life, I am changed. I sense His Spirit’s leading. I see doors open that I would have missed before. I find courage to do what I couldn’t in the past. This is exactly what I wanted for my life and was so desperately striving after. But now, it is God leading me. It is God doing the hard work. Joel Warne writes in his book that our relationship with God is a responsive one. He leads; we respond.

Moreover, if there is something amiss in my life, something I should abstain from or do differently, I can trust God to reveal those things to me. I don’t have to obsess over everything and continually feel guilty. This has been the biggest relief of all. I can finally put in correct perspective all of the mundane, practical, trivial details of life. I don’t have to question everything anymore! I can live everyday life in faith that when God wants to change something, when He wants to move me, He will reveal that to me. And He provides the courage and grace for obedience on top! So now, instead of asking God to show me what He wants me to do with my life, I pray:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there by any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23).

I cannot undermine enough what a revolutionary shift in paradigm this is for me. I feel like I had been going through the motions of life in black and white but now I am rejuvenated with vigor and eagerness to engage in life in Technicolor! Because my life is what it is because of God. And I can rest in Him for wisdom, guidance, sanctification. I can trust Him to do in my life what I have been desiring – because He desires it even more than I do!!

GOD IS AWESOME!!

 

 

The big picture

31 Dec

Since it’s New Year’s Eve, I figured I might as well do the quintessential blog post: reminiscing about 2010 and looking forward to 2011.

2010 was a hard year for me but because of that, it was also life-changing. From March until last week, I had a job that constantly pushed me beyond my comfort zone, challenged me in ways I have never before been challenged, and forced me to run to God every day to maintain my sanity and character. I can look back on this past year and see God’s faithfulness and steadfast love everywhere.

I learned that I rely on my own ability to get things done instead of trusting in God and His timing and plan. I found that I often “feel responsible” for things and that prevents me from letting God be responsible. God showed me that my claiming responsibility is what stresses me out. I need to be faithful in what I can control but the overarching theme and thought of my life needs to be trust in God for all of the mundane, practical details, as well as the big picture items.

Work-wise, I learned that I do not do well working from home. I like an office. I like interaction with people. I like unexpected interruptions (self, remember this when they happen!). I also learned that I like change but only in the context of routine. I am much more happier doing tedious administrative tasks than I am managing big picture things. I am a details person. The job I am doing in the church office right now is exactly what I enjoy doing. (As such, I am really hoping that they hire me full-time! But more on that another time.)

Through numerous coffee dates with my good friend Cathy, I have also learned a lot about what it means to be victorious in Christ. I have made huge progress in my long struggle with loathing myself and constantly seeing sin. Through talking with Cathy, reading books, and insight from the Holy Spirit, I have seen that resting in the cross doesn’t mean I ignore my sin – it means the cross is bigger than my sin. Enjoying who God has made me to be doesn’t mean I enjoy the sins I commit – it means that I am able to trust God to conform me to Christ and unveil to me and others who I really am.

In short, as I look back on 2010, I praise God for His work in my life. I struggled, I failed, I didn’t believe, I didn’t trust, I handled situations poorly. But God brought me through it all. I honestly can say that I wouldn’t have made it without Him. The thing I love the most about going through struggles like this is very simple: when I have a good day, when I feel joyful and peaceful, I know that is from God. He is the source of that feeling. And I feel so immensely blessed by Him. I wouldn’t feel that way had I not gone through a very rough year of a lot of bad days.

As I look forward to 2011, I have to admit that I hope it is easier than 2010 was. But I also hope that God does just as much work in my life. So I will, with His help, joyfully accept whatever means God employs to bring about that sanctification.

I am hoping to find a job (whether at the church or elsewhere) that fits me well. After having a job that I pretty much hated in every aspect, I no longer underestimate what a job can do to your entire well-being. Right now, though, I am very content with working part-time at the church. I got a lot of things crossed off my To-Do List this week!

I am also hoping to write a lot. Being a writer is my dream. I just read in John Eldredge’s book Walking With God, “More often that not this awakening of desire is an invitation from God to seek what we’ve given up as lost, an invitation to try again.” So I’m going to respond to God’s invitation and try again.

Spiritually, I want to pursue an even deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ, as described in Eldredge’s book that I just read. I want to be so close to Christ that I can hear him speak to me. That I seek His opinion on every decision, that I walk with Him all day, every day. It’s a lofty goal. But a very rewarding one. And even a little progress is better than none! I also want to be more intentional about reading – I have averaged about 15 books a year for the past 3 years. I want to increase that to 25 or so. But I also don’t want to burn through books so fast that I don’t remember anything. Kind of defeats the point of reading. So 25 is a loose goal.

Emotionally, I want to be more open and vulnerable in my marriage. I just recently realized that a lot my spiritual battles this year I fought alone. I didn’t let Travis know that I was struggling so much. And when I think about why, I see pride everywhere. With God, I can admit that I’m weak and pathetic. With Travis, I can’t. I think this emotional withholding from Travis has bigger implications and effects than I can even recognize right now. So I want to grow in being vulnerable and humble with Travis.

And finally, blog-wise, I think I am going to change my blog title again. When I changed it from Learning and Loving It to Joy in Being Broken, I was in the midst of my struggle with hating myself because I was so focused on my sins and failures. I thought that God was teaching me to find joy in Him even despite hating myself. As I’ve grown and understood more truth this year, I believe that we don’t find joy in being broken – we find joy in God healing us. We are broken as sinners – we are healed as God’s beloved children. We find joy as we see the cross conquer our sinful natures, as we find freedom from the things that bind us, as we anticipate heaven and perfection.

I haven’t yet decided what my new blog title will be. I’ve thought about something like “More Than Ordinary” to reflect my desire to live a life that rises above the status quo to glorify God. I’ve also thought about something incorporating the idea of being healed through the cross or discovering truth. I’m totally open to suggestions!

All that to say, I’m excited for a new year! Happy New Year to all of you!

reminiscing

Back to where I started

12 Feb

As I was pondering my marriage last night, and why I still struggle with feeling annoyed all the time at my husband’s displays of affection (which, for those who don’t know, include butt slapping, boob grabbing, tummy squeezing, and other things I won’t describe), I decided that the big virtue I’m missing is patience. The biggest reason why Travis annoys me is because I always feel bothered, interrupted. He’ll try to hug me in the middle of me doing the dishes. Or he’ll have to grab me while I’m drying my hair. My inner (and sometimes outer) voice asks, “Why can’t he just wait until I’m done?” Then I realize that I’m never “done,” especially in the morning. I always have an agenda, things I have on my mental tasklist. When I get in “Task Mode,” as I like to call it, I act like a bulldozer: “Get out of my way or I’ll run you over.”

When I was single and even while we were dating/engaged, I had plenty of “me time,” time when I could be as efficient and task-oriented as I wanted to be. I didn’t have to stop for or be interrupted by anyone wanting attention, as Travis so often does.  

My problem is that I am always kind of in that mode. I am an efficient, task-oriented person. It is not like me to dawdle, lag, or lollygag. I don’t even know if I can do those things. Travis, on the other hand, is a more relaxed person. The only time I can imagine him being in Task Mode is when he’s out in the garage, working on whatever he works on out there. (And during those times, I hardly ever bother him, and I never bother him for hugs and kisses because he’s dirty and sweaty!!) Most of the time, Travis is watching TV, reading, looking up sports scores (a mind-numbing activity if you ask me), or researching random things on the internet. He hardly ever minds when I interrupt him and even less so if it’s for physical affection.

So I see that I need patience and humility. I realized last Saturday that I had been subconsciously demanding everything be my way or the highway (but really, I want it to be my way). When we first moved out to Colorado, I had done a one-day, skimming-the-surface topical study on each Fruit of the Spirit. So last night I looked up my journal entry on patience. And there it was, clear as day:

“To be patient and endure undesirable circumstances, I must be humble. I must renounce all my claims to have things, people, and situations be what I want them to be.

That was written on November 12, 2007.

WHAT?!?!? I knew that back THEN and am only realizing it again NOW, a year and a half later? That was exactly what I realized on Saturday and there it was, sitting in my journal all this time. I’m back to where I started.

I am thankful today that God is faithful and most of all, patient. He waited until I was ready to surrender my own efforts and rely on Him to remind me of this truth, a truth that I happened upon unexpectedly 15 months ago.

God’s love is so real

7 Feb

Have I told you that I love Saturday mornings? I love being able to spend as much time reading the Bible, listening to worship songs, and praying as I want, without having to worry about being late to work.

Today was even better than usual. This past week has been rough. If you read my blog regularly, you know that my job has been a frustrating situation. You also probably know that I have been wondering what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.

What you may not know is that I have also been struggling in my marriage.

Travis and I are very different people in more ways than one. This is not news. While we were dating, I would’ve said that I loved the fact that we were so different because it made life interesting.

Well, it certainly does add drama.

Travis is a very playful, fun-loving guy. He likes to make jokes, quote movies, sing silly songs, and slap my butt. He creates his own words. He plays with his way-too-long-right-now hair by combing it over to the side (so he looks like a computer nerd).

I can be playful too. But since getting married, I have not been. Instead, all the things listed above have driven me up the wall. Every time he sings a song, I ask him to stop. When he slaps my butt, I get angry. When he quotes movie lines, I roll my eyes. When he pulls his hair down in a peak over his forehead, I muss it up because I can’t stand looking at it.

My seemingly unending annoyance at Travis has been a source of inner turmoil. I don’t like that I feel that way about my husband. What happened to me loving his sense of humor and playful ways? What happened to make me turn into this stern, cold-hearted, serious biatch?

Things have admittedly gotten better over the year and 8 months that we’ve been married. I am little by little learning to love all of Travis. But for the past few weeks, I have been drowning in my failures. Feeling miserable. Wondering how our marriage ended up like this. Confused about how to change the situation. Feeling doubtful about being able to do so even if I did know how. Lacking hope that anything would ever get better. Wanting to give up.

Last night, a series of events happened that brought all of this to a head. I asked Travis to make part of dinner so I could shower after working out. As I walked by the kitchen, he tossed the bag of frozen vegetables to me (because he thinks that sort of thing is fun). I was annoyed (big surprise) and confused about why he would think such a thing is fun so I threw it back a little harder than I should have. That small situation was a big reminder of how different Travis and I are. I got into the shower silently shouting at God, “Why are we so different?!?!? How can I live like this?!?!?”

Then we went to see Australia starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. As we were walking out of the theater, I mentioned to Travis that the movie was way too long for me (2.5 hours). “Well that’s pretty much how long every movie is these days,” he replied. “No, they’re more like 1.5 to 2 hours long,” I said. “Oh ok, 2 hours as compared to 2 and a half. Sorry,” he retorted.

Angry and annoyed at Travis, I stopped talking, except for a few short sentences repeating my sentiment that the movie was way too long. We were almost home before Travis emerged from zoning out (which he does often) and realized that I hadn’t been talking. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

How to answer that? There were so many thoughts racing through my head. I was overwhelmed by our differences and losing hope that we would ever be able to reconcile them. Were we doomed to this distance between us for the rest of our lives?

I asked Travis if he ever felt overwhelmed by how different we are. “Not really,” he said. “But I’m guessing that you do?”

I couldn’t answer with words. I just started crying. I couldn’t fix our marriage and yet it wasn’t at all what I wanted it to be like. What was I supposed to do about it?

I laid down on the couch when we got home and Travis kneeled beside me. I completely lost it. My body was racked with grief and Travis just simply pulled me to his chest. It was the absolute best feeling in the world, to be so utterly broken and sinful, yet so utterly loved at the same time. Crying made me feel better (as it always does), yet I went to bed still feeling helpless and hopeless, begging to God to do something to remedy the situation.

He did just that this morning. I’ve been studying Romans in my quiet times and I have been in Romans 5 this past week. The verses about suffering, endurance, character and hope really spoke to me, because I feel like I have been suffering for a long time, at my own hand.

Today I was focused on hope. What is hope? Hope is trusting God, banking on God, resting in God. David writes in Psalm 62, “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” God is the source of our hope. And our hope is based on His love for us, demonstrated physically in Christ’s death on the cross and demonstrated spiritually every day in the provision of the Holy Spirit.

It is through suffering and trials that God forges our hope in Him.

And hoping in God is not a foolish thing. God and our relationship to and with Him is the ultimate reality of this universe. Whenever I find myself doubting the relevance of the gospel, I have to come back to this fact. The gospel is more real than anything else in this world. The gospel IS Reality.

God reminded me through Romans 5 that I still have hope, because I still have God.

As I prayed about that truth and confessed that I had sinfully given up hope, I realized that I had been trying to “fix” my life on my own. In my marriage, at work, with my life purpose. I was trying to make everything be the way I wanted it to be, the way I thought it should be. And when it continued to go the way I didn’t want it to go, I lost hope. Because while I had prayed for God’s help, I hadn’t actually sought it.

I see now that instead of making my life, marriage, and job be what I want it to be, I should be asking myself what God wants it to be. My marriage and its struggles aren’t arbitrary. God chose my husband and He is choosing our trials for a reason–my eternal good. Instead of accepting the way my marriage is and the way my job is, I have been bucking them, saying that they weren’t what I wanted. I wanted something different. I was bitter and resentful–toward Travis and Phil, I thought. Really, I was bitter and resentful toward God. He is the one determining my life and circumstances. He is the one who has placed me where I am at this time, with these specific problems and challenges. He has handpicked these trials for me to go through, so that He can forge my hope in Him.

Fully offering my life up to the Lord means accepting every little thing from His hand, even the annoying things. It means asking myself daily, moment by moment, “What does God want for me and from me?” instead of asking “What do I want for me?” It means dying to myself, my desires, my expectations, my feelings, and in turn, living for God’s.

I cried hard again this morning, humbled and awed by God’s faithfulness and love. That He would take me through the darkness so that He could bring me out into the light. Just as Travis held me last night while I was crying, God holds me close whenever my heart is broken. He hurts when I hurt. But He knew that to make me better, He had to allow me to be hurt first. 

My heart echoes David’s when he said, “This God–his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?” (Psalm 18:30-31)