When You Are Disappointed

disappoinment

“Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always.”  Romans 12:12

There are times when life is full of one disappointment after another.  Or so it seems.  Disappointment comes in all shapes, sizes, and at different times.  There’s worry, fretting, and anxiety.  When reality actually shows up and doesn’t meet our expectations, it often leaves us with the lack of contentment.  Disappointments are hard to navigate through, so here are three heart-hitting questions:

  1. Are these just your unmet expectations?
  2. Have you forgotten to be thankful for what you do have?
  3. Is there something to change to turn your disappointment into a God-appointment?

Ever been disappointed and said “me too?”

Usually after self-examination, it’s best to look for what God is teaching through the unmet expectations.  Asking for wisdom and anticipating His better good, plan and purpose helps get you back on track.

Our good, good Father really does know you best and the best for you.  No matter how many disappointments emerge, there is always hope.  There are times to surrender your need to understand to override the doubt.  There are times when we don’t need to understand, but just obey.  There are times we need to trust more.  Often, God’s purpose isn’t realized until a later time.

There’s a little project on my heart right now that is finally birthing life.  It started with a simple thought but took a lot of hard work to pull it out and off.  Bearing the fruit took guts, courage, and a whole lot of prayer, but loaded with hope for the next generation.  It also came with many disappointments along the way.  I just kept focusing on God’s purpose.

I’m grateful that God had a purpose and a promise in it all.  We have a Savior that is in the business of reconciliation and hope.  Jesus never promised it would be easy.  While walking this earth, even He encountered many trials and troubles, but He died so we could be overcomers of disappointment and have joy and gladness in all things.  Disappointments often don’t feel joyful or make you glad, but the purpose may still be for your benefit.  I’ll never forget,  in the middle of searching for answers, those great conversations with the One who holds the plan in His hands.

So grateful that His love is undeniable and His peace is unspeakable.  We have a good, good Father and nothing is wasted in His purpose for you.  People can disappoint you but God never will.

 

When you feel stuck

muddy road

My head hit the pillow with an extra dose of weariness that day.  There was a part of my mind that just wanted to stop altogether.  “If I could just give myself a break,” I thought.  But yet in the very next breathe I uttered, “Are you sure about that God?”  My mind vacillated between doubt and confusion, weighing the past and present, and was super injected by fear.

This all happened on my search for a focused word for 2016.  God kept speaking the word “remain” over and over to me.  Instead of feeling peace about it and receiving it as an exciting leg of this joy filled journey, I took in the fear of remaining stuck where I currently grew past, which was fueled by insecurity and doubt.  I didn’t want to stay there, in the land of confusion!

Our talks (between me and the Holy Spirit) quickly turned to arguments, or rather, like whining and complaining.  Never a good idea to start your conversation with God by wearing the captain’s hat in the complaint department!  We worked on it for days.  God suggested, I rejected.

“Are you sure about that word for me God?  I’ve changed so much from who I was.”  I said.

God said, “Remain.”

Every time I thought about all the changes from my past, I was worried about the remaining, thinking I would get stuck there.  And then fear came in and I didn’t want to stay stuck in that either.  (Now saying this back to you, I realize this is all irrational thinking!)  The changes that have come due to the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit have brought such healing and freedom in my life.  I can’t imagine being stuck in my own personal prison again.

I didn’t want to remain in that place – bound, burdened, and full of doubt.  I couldn’t stay there…I wouldn’t stay there…I was determined to change God’s mind.  And then something beautiful happened.

As I was talking to my missionary friend Mitch, God sent some encouragement through him.  Next, I cried on the phone to my friend Lori, and she prayed with me and then I went for a run.  While running down the county road, I saw a ditch full of mud and immediately felt the “stuck” feeling creep back into my soul.  But God reminded me to keep my eyes on the end of the road, and I whizzed right past it.  God was, without a shadow of a doubt, in all those conversations, as He helped dry my tears, and gave comfort my mind.  Immediately, the confusion was gone and I had a peace in the receiving of God’s word.

I hit the pillow hard that night with exhaustion from wrestling my will with God’s plan.

Fast forward to 3 a.m. the next day and I’m wide awake, and the Lord visits my bedside and asked, “Are you ready to learn how to remain in Me?”  I went in for my last ditch effort with God.  (Please don’t judge me, but learn from this story!)  I simply said, “If you give me an acronym for the word Remain, I’ll accept it.”  He said, “Go get your pen and pad of paper.” (He meant business!)

With blurry eyes through tears….I started writing immediately.  It came in an instant and the words were just what I needed to hear.  I didn’t stumble over them nor pretend like I was hard of hearing at this point.  God is patient in the ways He deals with us.  We could all learn a lesson from Him about his slowness of anger!  I wrote….

Remain

Remember

Eternity

Matters (so)

Abide

Intentionally

Now.

And there it was….full understanding of why this word was so important to know this year.  As I abide in Him, I will remain in my identity and purpose for my life.  As I abide, remain connected, and am intentionally faithful, and obedient in what He has asked, I will remain in intimate fellowship with the Great Shepherd.

I thought back to the time in the summer of last year where I practically memorized John 15, and couldn’t get past that section of teaching for two months.  I kept reading it over and over and over.  Finally God moved me on to learn more about love, and how to give it without condition. (Those lessons are for a whole another coffee date…or two!)

Ps 23:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.”  We often think about how God supplies our needs and have that promise in Philippians 4:19 for His supply that He has already provided in Christ Jesus.  That is a good promise to stand on.  The Lord won’t call you anything where His grace won’t sustain you.  I sense the writing of David in this Psalm however was in a time of searching for direction.  He had a vision of peace and contentment and I sense he was writing about what he saw regarding his relationship with God.

The Lord not only takes care of your needs before you know them, but He also makes provisions for your wants and desires.  When your desires line up with His desires, it’s for sure those are supplied.  If you are looking to grow in your relationship with God, please accept this journey however it looks.  We all need to grow in our faith, and it’s not a good idea to remain stuck in a place of stubbornness, pleasing self-will and fear coupled with doubt.

Take my word for it, gratitude paves the way to those green pastures of peace that we all want.  And as we enter His rest, we have everything we can ask for or imagine if we just remain in relationship with God and by living intentionally through trusting by faith.  As we are remain anchored by His love, we abide in His grace and mercy.

The journey for today and this year is to have joy in this and to walk in intimate fellowship with Jesus every minute of the day.  Why is this so important to know now?  This is only a foretaste because the best is yet to come!

Garbage in, garbage out

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24    My prayer was innocent enough but God’s answer came in the most unconventional way.  It was at the edge of a dump site in Africa that God spoke and asked what I wanted.

cattle-graze-in-a-garbage-dump

I was afraid to speak about it because “the answer”, the “it” was the very thing I needed to give up.  I looked down at the cows feasting on the garbage in the pit of the city dump.  I reflected how God had brought me out of my past pit and was thankful for His deliverance.

But there was still some garbage in my life that I needed to get out.

I can remember a time when I was covered in garbage.  Or at least it felt that way.  Now don’t get me wrong, I know feelings are the most fickle of things.  And my faith is not founded on my fickle feelings.  But that day I wanted God more than the garbage I had been feeding myself.

Immediately the desire to know God in a deeper way was born in a hidden place inside of me.  I also knew to get what I wanted, to live as Christ, I would have to give up something.  I finally realized that what I was doing in seeking God, wasn’t enough.  It wasn’t coming automatically, I was being pulled under by the influence and garbage of the world.

So there it was…in front of me….on the edge of a city dump in South Africa.  As tears streamed down my cheeks, I walked out of the dump of my life so it seemed and pushed past a place of denial and became the faithful follower of Jesus.  It would have seemed that I was already there, so might I just pause here to ask you to reflect on your own life?

At last I know without a doubt that to live as Christ often looks like my life is full of Him, but now I know it’s based on the consecutive decisions about the garbage I allow in.  I dumped my garbage at the edge of His Presence.  I rose on my strong feeling that I had made the right move that day and knew things would be so different, even if they felt the same.  I left it all behind at the edge of my inconvenience.

Living totally sold out to the inconvenient and the uncomfortable gets one to the point of your deliverance from your past.  Even if you have forgiven and forgotten, you have to drop all of those offenses that have come against you and let go of the right to hold on to an offense for any reason.  At least, that was what I had to do to get to the edge, to dump out some hidden garbage by taking a close look at my past with a fine tooth comb.  At the edge of the garbage dump I left years and years of shame, blame and guilt roll off that had taken a toll on my soul.

It’s not until you give up or live empty of hurt can you find more of God.

I knew in that moment that if my heart’s desire was to be like Jesus, I had to make a concentrated effort, an intentional decision to spend even MORE time with Jesus over nursing the wounds of my past.  It was the second most important decision I have ever made.

Christianity doesn’t come naturally, and living like Jesus takes a choice.  Salvation and accepting God’s work on the cross is the best decision you will ever make.  But living as Christ lived, starts with living past your past of hurts, abuse, offense and forgetting about those hurts from those who have wronged you.

To live like Christ is to love like Christ.  Like those hurts never existed and were not intended to take you out or take you down.  To live this way however costs you.  I realized that I was the one holding myself back because of my doubt and fear.  The work of God in our lives is the strength that is built through our weaknesses, insecurities and inadequacies.

We want to live like Christ but that kind of life is always found outside the realm of convenience.  God’s intimacy is always inside of the circle of going all in for Him, this doesn’t come naturally.  Christ gave it all for us, for you and for me.  Lies will always keep you in bondage, maybe today you just need to open yourself to the process of believing God again.

“To live is Christ” means that we imitate the example of Christ. Everything that Jesus did and said from listening to Father, from giving up stuff, and walking in our identity.  That’s what that means.  Choosing to live like this is a conscious action, living outside convenience, doing what comes supernaturally and giving our full surrender at all costs, no matter what it takes to “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

What would Jesus do? That’s what we want to do.  “To live is Christ” means that we pursue Christ as we have been pursued. I want to know Christ better and better each day. Not just a set of facts about Christ, but Christ Himself and to be willing to give up anything that prevents me from having MORE Christ.

What “garbage” is in the way for you to “gain Christ and be found in him?” (Philippians 3:7-9).

When Christ is the center of our day, the point of our mind, heart, body and soul, then He is the center of who we are.  This is not convenient and the garbage of easy quickly fades our intentions.  But as we run the “race marked out for us,” we lay aside the entangling sin and worldly distractions, “fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Yes, to live as Christ, outside of the garbage of this world.  I want to live like that!

When you feel insecure

Bible and journal

It’s a known fact that as humans we speak from our insecurities.  Some of you are open about those, most of you like to hide them.  We all have one or two or more of those insecure places.  We all have our stuff.

I have plenty of stuff myself.  It’s the human condition.  Let’s get real, real fast, ok?  We have that “junkie” stuff inside of us and this stuff is the human side of us we like to hide.

To name your stuff or call mine out, that step only helps when you allow God’s truth to change you inspite of your stuff.  And it should only be done and motivated by love.  It IS important to know the way we deal with insecurities can help others.

I was sharing the other night at small group how to share faith without using words.  I started out with “I love how Jesus teaches us…” I noticed the confused look on thier faces and then I related that truth to everyday life.  Jesus didn’t operate on the defense or attack people in thier insecurities.  Jesus was always on the offense side of battle because he knew who he was fighting.  He operated from his secure place of supernatural ability instead of his humanity.

It’s easy to think “Yeah, Jesus did that because he was perfect in everything he did.”  This is true as he was fully divine in his humanity. Jesus lived his live in full submission to the Holy Spirit even though he was human.  He operated from his identity, knowing in his heart, mind, and soul that he was the one and only living Son of God.  There are many stories about liers, cheaters, adulterers, deceivers, and thieves being drawn to Him for healing because of who He was.  In simple ways, lives were changed in so many to bring deliverance through a word, deed, feeding or even storms.  Most times, Jesus healed their hearts, before their physical ailments, insecurity or need in their life.

In other words, their faith (evidence of the unseen) saved them first and foremost over individual woundings.  Each time, Jesus healed or delivered because that is/was his ministry.  This is Jesus, operating from his identity.

Jesus stepped out of Heaven to deliver us from our humanity.

Recently, the Lord has reminded me of my roots.  Not just in my family’s line or hertiage, but what my identity looks like from a heavenly perspective.  Last year, was HUGE in reminding me who I am in Christ.  Daily, and most often, the Holy Spirit aligns my heart and mind with His.  My confession today is that I needed those reminders to overcome a lot of my silly insecurities.

“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”  Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)

Daily those reminders have come in at just the needed time and with the exact reminder of who I was in Christ.  This one exchange and action has removed so many insecurities in my heart and mind.  I can’t even begin to list them all here but the reminding of who I am in Christ, we (the Holy Spirit and I) uncovered the “identity stuff” that I wasn’t.

We all need these kind of identity reminders on a daily basis.  “I know who I am, I know who I am, I know who I am, I am Yours, I am Yours.” is a song lyric that hits repeat daily in my head (speaking about God’s ownership).

Last year my word for the year was vision.  God has given a fuller vision of who I am in Him.  To battle the daily “junkie” stuff, I need constant reminders of who I am in Christ to operate from my place of security.

Once you know who you are IN Christ, your indentity is your secure place to operate from.  Now going into 2016, my word REMAIN makes so much more sense.  It’s good to have the right weapons loaded up for battle.  It makes the Enemy not such a big threat and that dumb looming anxiety that is mixed in the unknown is removed.  Plus the bonus is I know how the battle turns out!  There’s no shrinking back, or retreating because of some silly insecurity.  There’s no hiding from the power of God at work within our lives.  There’s no room for those overpowering fears inside to grow more “stuff”.  There’s only the Light that has come.  Light overcomes darkness every time and each insecurity  has no place to hide in a house that is all lit up!

 

When you need a new beginning

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My pastor says “Sometimes you have to give up the things you love for the things you love more.”  This truth has stuck hard in my life.  It actually set my heart to dreaming with God, after I first heard it on that one Sunday morning over three years ago.

On this New Year’s Day, God brought it back to my mind.  “Now, there’s been a change in plans.”  God said again this morning and I responded in my heart’s silence.

“As change is God’s love language, my trust in Him is the language of my heart.” – Janelle Keith.

Little did I know that three years of holding to God’s vision would grow me in such an immense and intense way.  I expect that this is a part of the wonder of God.  It was on this day, three years ago, that God planted His new beginning in my heart to bring my love of missions and my love of writing together.

Since that day, it’s been bouncing around in my mind.   I’ve been stuck in a few of those “how” corners but now finally see the light of the vision set before me.  It’s simple really, but complex.

The prophetic vision I had was that God was going to bring my two heart passions together which in this simple dream actually blew my socks off.  When I told my friend Julie the story of it all, she laughed and said, “See those socks over there?  Those are yours!!”  To comprehend what all this means is still beyond me.  That’s why I’ve been praying for the Holy Spirit to what I can’t do.

I’m still unpacking the dreams that God has laid on my life but it feels like I am years closer than I have ever been.  Today’s beginning is different in that I sense bigger opportunities that are very, very near.  Most of you know that I have traveled to Africa several times, and am now planning my fifth trip back.  There is a reason I keep remaining with this vision in my life.

The journey to discover your purpose is life-long and sometimes full of detours.  It’s worth pursuing though and worth dedicating yourself to it, if it’s from God.  There will be many things that don’t make sense along the way and that’s okay, you aren’t supposed to figure out all the turns or twists, that’s God’s job.

Your job is to follow AFTER Him in the journey.  You can trust that His will never lead you where His grace can’t sustain you.  When you can’t see His hand, trust His heart.  When God says “no” a better “yes” is coming.  When I set out to pursue God with all intention, I had to reset my attention and affection on Him.  To do that I had to let go of what this journey would look like and knew that it’s not about what I’m leaving behind but about Who I am following.  I look to the Author and Perfecter of my faith for every step.

“When you don’t know what to do next, just do the next thing.” Elizabeth Elliott.

I have continued to blog, write, and serve in missions and most importantly trust my obedience to God.  I also trust in the wisdom I receive from Him as His plans unfold.  There are days I don’t know what’s around the corner but I believe that He has already been there.  My faith is always challenged to live under God’s goodness.

“Faith brings answers, but enduring faith brings answers with character.”  – Bill Johnson.

The real truth is that I started to believe in the ability that God has lovingly placed on the inside of me.  I am not confident in my own ability but I am confident in my availability.  There are places that He has yet to take me not only physically but spiritually.  This might just hit you all hyper -spiritual and all but it’s the journey that I am on.  God’s ways are higher, deeper, and still a mystery.  Miracles are often on the other side of our comfort zone.  His Voice is heard in my life and because of that I respond by releasing the love I have FOR Him and letting my heart response eclipse everything else.

There is a purpose in the waiting and His Presence is sustaining.  It’s all for that reason, that I move forward, onward and upward with hope.  My word for 2016 is Remain.  This year God is having me focus on what remains – His fruit of the Spirit – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.”  (Galatians 5:22-23)

There is nothing that can come against the things of God, the Spirit of the Living God, nor the plans of the Lord.  No enemy can thwart His love for us.  No earthly disaster can detour His care and protection.  No fears can come against the refuge of Perfect Love.  The grave can’t contain it, His power is mighty and strong, and the remaining Hope of Christmas is dwelling among us.

As a believer, I have all that I need to do what He has asked of me, living inside of me.  And it’s not too late to step into the plans that God has for you!  This is the year to release the “remaining” and “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”  (Galatians 5:24-25).

What is your word for 2016?  Please comment!