Behind the Scenes

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43: 18-19 (NIV)

Came across the above verse this morning that I wanted to share. I love how God is telling Israel not to dwell upon what has already happened. Verse 19 begins with the gentle reminder that God is always working, even when we can’t see Him, God is going before us. Reminds me of Jesus’s words in John 14:3 -

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

There is comfort in knowing that God is constantly at work and going before us–reminds me even further of Haggai–. Whether you are dealing with an unstable job situation–like me–or just life in general, take comfort in knowing that God goes before us just like He did for Israel and Joshua when they set forth into the Promised Land.

I know that it is really easy to read what I have written and just dismiss it. But this is truth. Throughout the Bible, God constantly reminds us that He is there, working. Do you believe that? Better yet, are you listening/watching for His response?

What is God teaching you? 

Walking to the Car

Had an interesting situation happen to me today as I was walking from my house to the car. A woman approached me, in tears, and told me about the $10 worth of medicine she needed to buy her son and how she wouldn’t get paid until Friday. She even offered to pay me back. Truly one of those moments where I was torn over what to do. I immediately wanted to know:

  • Was the woman lying?
  • Did her story add up?
  • Were her tears real?
  • Where did she come from?
  • Was she canvasing the neighborhood looking for handouts/drug money?
  • Ultimately, what did God want me to do in that moment? I know we are supposed to be His hands and feet.

So hard to respond to others when so much unbelief and pessimism clouds how we see people and the world. Christ calls us to push past this though and simply trust in Him. As a Christian, the money is ultimately His anyways.

She walked all the way up the driveway.

She walked all the way up the driveway.

Regardless of how I responded, what would you have done? Check out the poll below and vote. Add an answer if you need, leave a comment if you want to talk, and then check out the verses from Matthew below.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” – Matthew 25:31-46 (NIV)

Perseverance

I did not want to get up this morning. I did not want to go to work today. All I could think about was coming into an office that is experiencing the throes of change. I want answers to:

  • “Who is going to be fired in two weeks, if at all?”
  • “What does my job/position look like in the midst of these changes?”
  • “What does the future hold?”

As I got ready this morning, I decided to read from the Book of James. A few weeks ago my pastor quoted a verse to me from it; yesterday our guest speaker mentioned it.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”

I cringe every time I hear this verse from James 1. Equating suffering with being joyful sounds odd to my ears. Who wants to be joyful while living in/through hard times? I remind myself that God is always calling us to embrace Him and let Him do the heavy lifting. Reading on, a word (bolded) stuck out to me in verse 3:

“because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

Perseverance is a word I am quite familiar with. Growing up, I even used to listen/sing a song about it by GT and the Halo Express. When I think of of the word perseverance, I think of a quote made famous by Meet the Robinsons.

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

Despite my company being the verge of possibly shutting down… despite people’s attitudes/moods in the work environment as things get tough… despite not knowing where I am going to land in the future, I know that I need to have faith and persevere. James 1:4 goes on to say:

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Living in the valley, walking forward in shadow, I know that this is where Christ works. I know that I want to be where Christ works.

Don't forget you are not alone.

Don’t forget you are not alone.

Going through personal difficulties? Encountering obstacles? I want to encourage you to keep moving forward. However, I want to further encourage you to not do so on your own. God wants to shoulder your burdens. He will give you what you need to persevere.  Will you let Him?

 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” – James 1:5

You Will Be Tested

“Like a ship at sea, you will be tested, and the storms will reveal the weak places in you as a man. They already have. How else do you account for the anger you feel, the fear, the vulnerability to certain temptations? Why can’t you marry the girl? Having married, why can’t you handle her emotions? Why haven’t you found your life’s mission? Why do financial crises send you into a rage or depression? You know what I speak of. And so our basic approach to life comes down to this: we stay in what we can handle, and steer clear of everything else. We engage where we feel we can or we must–as at work–and we hold back where we feel sure to fail, as in the deep waters of relating to our wife or our children, and in our spirituality.” – Fathered By God, John Eldredge, pp 6 and 7

In the Valley

I am convinced that God deals with us in the valleys of life, in times where we need the most faith to move forward. Sure there are moments where we can clearly tell where God is leading us, those so-called “mountain top” moments. I would argue though that those moments of clarity are few and far between. In the darkness, we need the light. In the darkness we must rely/embrace God, trusting that He will see us through, that He has an ultimate plan.

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Started reading Mike Erre’s Astonished the other day. Below is a quote I wanted to share:

God takes us to places where we can’t figure it out or depend on our resources or intelligence. He wants us to trust Him, nor our formulas, spiritual disciplines, or knowledge of the Bible. He draws us onward, using the acute sense of limitation and sorrow we feel, to bring us to the place where we “don’t know” and “can’t see” so that we’ll reach for Him and grab hold of Him, after there is no other place to turn.

In the Valley

Lately I’ve been in one of those places where the valley only seems to be getting darker and deeper. The crazy cycle/ negative atmosphere at work is eating away at my soul. I can’t seem to find the work eject button. A job I applied for a few weeks ago, a job that seemed like a shoo-in, panned out into the ether. I am not sure where God is leading me but the crazier I feel, the more I know that I need to be leaning on Him.

Even at the end of my rope, why do I find it so hard to just give up? Why is it so hard for us to just allow God to be our strength? Pride? I’m not sure. I do know that prayer is the answer. That trust in God is the key. I have come to a place where nothing else makes sense, where God has me. I just need to surrender and listen. So hard.