Archive for the ‘Trust’ Category

Where’s Your Trust?

October 19, 2010

Oh my God, in You I trust. Psalm 25:2

There are times when our desire for clarity becomes a road block hindering forward movement. Our view of the future is always limited. When entering a journey of trust, there is more certainty of what one leaves behind than what lies ahead. Although it’s natural, even human, to desire and ask for clarity, there are times when God asks us to move forward, not with clarity, but in trust. The foundation of faith is a confidence in God, not in calculated plans and predicted outcomes. Our challenge is determining whether we are stalling for clarity when we are to move forward in trust.

Personal Prayer

Father, I confess, I want clarity in life. I desire the security of well-formed plans with identified outcomes. While I believe it is godly and responsible to plan and prepare, ultimately You are directing my life, calling the shots, and establishing Your plans and purposes in the world. Help me to live in partnership with You and in confident trust that one greater than me is in charge and in control. Let this understanding be my security and confidence.

 Reflection Questions

What are clues that the desire for clarity is competing with or replacing the need to trust? 

How can we recognize when our confidence is rooted in our well-formed plans instead of God? 

Thought to Ponder

Once you identify your areas of worry, you discover areas of needed trust.

Quote to Consider

I haven’t a clue as to how my story will end. But that’s all right. When you set out on a journey and night covers the road, that’s when you discover the stars.

Nancy Willard

Don’t Cocoon

October 7, 2010

This devotional has been revised and reposted. It was first posted on April 19, 2010

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. Galatians 5:1

Rob’s acceptance of a work position for E-bay led us on a home search to San Jose, California. On our third and final day of searching, we put an offer down on a condo. The reality of the move and its preparation seemed surreal and mind boggling. Uncertain how to downsize and adapt from a four bedroom, 4200 sq. foot four bedroom home to a two bedroom, 1240 sq. foot home brought an endless whirlwind of questions that left me unable to sleep at midnight.

In my sleep deprived state, I arose from bed, wrapped myself in a blanket, and headed to another room praying that God would help me release my anxiety. My prayer seemed more of a plea asking God to overcome my anxious thoughts, more rightly, mental anguish, into a peaceful calm.

While praying, God brought to the mind of this visual learner a picture of a butterfly standing on top of the cocoon from which she recently emerged. Strangely enough, this butterfly was seeking to return to her cocoon. The message was clear. I was looking to the things and circumstances of the past for peace. This is idolatry. I was shackled and enslaved and needed to become free.

From my previous life opportunities and surroundings, God birthed beauty within. Remaining in the cocoon would damage the wings that developed within the cocoon equipping me to fly. Returning to the security of the past would rob me from embracing the glorious adventure and metamorphosis God is crafting.

With a renewed perspective, instead of loss, I saw this new direction as a path to freedom. God was releasing me of my attachments to things, comfort, and the false security that came through my environment and relationships with others.

With new insight, this butterfly began to fly freely into a new life chapter.

Personal Prayer

Father, forgive me for allowing my home and my past life to become a false security. I don’t want to trust in anything more than you. Help me recognize and release any false securities that compete with your plans and purpose for my life.

Reflection Questions

What causes you to cocoon?

What are signs and clues that you’re cocooning?

Question to Ponder

Are you clinging to God for things or clinging to God because He is the only thing worth clinging to?

Quotes to Consider

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

C .S .Lewis

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of shore.”

Andre’ Gide

Hope In Darkness: Dealing With Disappointment

September 8, 2010

If you’re a glutton for rejection, become an author. I’m unaware of any other career where hours, week, months of labor crafting your work is declined in a rejection letter composed in a few minutes or in a form letter.

Life is challenging for authors. How I wish writing was like it was in grade school. You turn in your assignment; the teacher reads your work, grades and returns it. Good teachers find something positive to compliment. Sometimes you get a smiley face

It’s not like that in today’s writing world. Just getting a publisher to look at your work takes tremendous labor and diligence. Getting them to publish your writing takes an act of God.

I recently complimented a friend on an article she published. She shared that my encouraging works penetrated her heart like a needed therapy. After a few exciting months of publishers responding, “Yes, we’d like to see your manuscript.” She is now experiencing the painful wave of, “We’ve looked at it and will pass.” These are the words that make an hourly paid job an appealing relief.

Part of writing is searching for the right home for your work. The searching time can leave you feeling homeless. When open doors are closed shut, the light of desired possibilities you’ve envisioned  is extinguished leaving you in darkness. We all know the disappointment of failed plans, unsatisfied desires, and the discouragement of painful circumstances.

Christ experienced three hours of darkness at Calvary. Rejections were hurled at him, he was mocked, blackness filled the world and his soul, but resurrection followed. What’s amazing is our all seeing God, unlike us, has the ability to see and work in the dark. In absolute blackness, he conquered sin, death, demonic forces, and the power of Hell.

I’m curious what God is working in the darkness of my friend’s life. I believe an incredible story is unfolding that will eventually be a story worth writing about.

Personal Prayer

Father,

When life appears dark and I’m unable to see that anything positive, help me remember that, even while darkness filled the earth, You conquered sin and death. When doors of opportunity close and my desired outcomes dissolve, remind me that You are at work behind closed doors doing amazing things.

 Reflection Question

What darkness are you facing?

How does Christ’s life and death bring you hope during times of darkness?

Thought to Ponder

Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you,

And accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

Pierre Teilhard do Chardin

Quote to Consider

“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”

Corrie ten Boom

Trusting Trumps Performing

August 16, 2010

But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” John 15:17 (NlV)

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

In addition to discovering that my approval addiction was breaking the first commandment (Thou shall have no other gods before me), I’m realizing this culture’s commandment, “Thou shalt perform,” has reeked havoc on my mind and heart and erupted all kinds of insecurity.

The poem of a French philosopher and Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, entitled “Patient Trust” is helping me take down the God of Performance. I hope his words stir a desire for you to replace performance anxiety with trust.

Patient Trust

 Above all, trust in the slow work of God

We are quite naturally impatient in everything,

to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages,

We are impatient of being on the way to something

unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress

that it is made by passing through

some stages of instability—

and that it may take a very long time.

 And so I think it is with you,

our ideas mature gradually—let them grow,

let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don’t try to force them on,

as though you could be today what time

(that is to say, grace and circumstances

acting on your own good will)

will make of you tomorrow. 

Only God could say what this new spirit

gradually forming within you will be.

Give our Lord the benefit of believing

that His hand is leading you,

And accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

So on my life journey I’m discovering…

  • God works progressively and consistently in my life. Realizing this I can see how my timetable competes with His.
  • God’s central focus is the “development of my heart,” not “work production.”
  • Focusing on my work output distracts me from examining what’s motivating my performing.
  • At the times I’m unable to see or measure what God is doing, He remains at work and deserves my trust.
  • Living with a confident trust that God is at work in my life prevents insecurity, impatience, and agitation from consuming me.

 May you be consumed by Him and freed from anything else.

Personal Prayer:

Father, help me to release my expectations of how I want You to work and to stop directing when I want You to work. Instead, help me live in a state of confident trust that You are at work performing your good work in my life.

Learn to Rest

July 1, 2010

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Not only does Christ offer us rest, He is our rest and the reason we can rest. Christ is our shepherd leading us to green, grassy fields. (Ps. 23) Sheep, when led to pasture, will overeat until they bloat and die. Like sheep, we are bloated with worry, busyness, and striving. As sheep eat themselves to death, we work ourselves until we drop in exhaustion. Until we realize we are inadequate on our own, stop striving trying to be our own source, and find our security, identity, and provision in Christ’s sheepfold, we will labor in vain.

We rest when our minds, emotions, and bodies enter into a peaceful state of trusting God. When we realize the depth of God’s love and live like we are fully loved and adequately provided for by the shepherd’s care, concern, and oversight. Trusting God won’t eliminate conflict in our lives, but it reminds us that we are not alone or on our own when we face life challenges.

A chief robber of rest is worry because it is distrust in God. Thinking about a problem or concern over and over is worry. Although we are not able to prevent worrisome thoughts from hitting our mind, we have the ability to redirect our fears to a confident trust. Trusting God involves reminding ourselves that God is aware of our needs, committed to our constant care, and continually working His good in our lives. Recognizing these truths allows us to surrender control of situations to God. This releases us from the fear we experience when we try to control what is not ours to control.

Personal Response

 Make a choice today to rest by choosing to trust in God. Formulate the plan that when worrisome thoughts come to mind, you will respond my redirecting your thoughts to God’s promises to provide for you. Instead of thinking about a problem over and over in your mind (that’s worry), redirect fearful thoughts to trust by meditating on God’s Word. In doing so, you move from fear to a restful state of trusting God.

My Grace is Sufficient

June 16, 2010

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.    2 Cor. 12:9

 A month after our relocation to San Jose, it was a relief anticipating moving into our soon to be completed condo. I would not miss the nights of sleeping with earplugs to muffle the noise and would no longer need to drape a blanket over my eyes to block the light that faulty shades failed to stop.

Visiting our condo the evening before the scheduled move-in, we became aware of a number of complications that would delay the kitchen completion. I began praying for God to intervene. I sensed God saying to me, “My grace is sufficient for you.” An inner struggle arose within me as I sensed God alerting me to future challenges. Although, I was confident that God’s grace was available and sufficient, it wasn’t grace to endure that I desired, I wanted God to prevent inconveniences and struggles. I wanted protection from delays, not strength to respond to them in a way that honored God.

Paul’s struggles taught him that his prayers of deliverance would limit his growth and his opportunity to experience God’s transforming power as he faced conflict and struggles. Paul determined it was better to develop Christ-likeness through facing challenges rather than the comfort received because God answered his prayers to remove them.

Paul wanted “Christ’s power to rest on him.” The word “rest” (episkenoo) can be translated as “to tabernacle” or “pitch a tent.” Paul realized experiencing God’s rest is not dependent upon circumstances. God displays His power in pleasant or unpleasant circumstances. Because God is at work, we can live in a state of rest.  As our hearts trust in God, a peace is experienced that surpassed all circumstances (Philippians 4:7).

Paul discovered the importance of letting God upgrade his desires for God’s better plans. My kitchen remodel was delayed 12 days. I lived surrounded by boxes and without a functioning kitchen. Although I had no desire to pray for this inconvenience, I’m learning to rest amidst the clutter confident that God is using undesirable circumstances to develop Christ-like character in me. (Philippians 1:6)

Personal Response

  • Do your prayers focus on asking God to deliver you from circumstances or within them?
  • Redirect your prayers asking God to empower you to face situations in a manner that glorifies Him.

Release the Past

June 10, 2010

Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. Philippians 3:13

 Let’s face it, we’ve all suffered the consequences resulting from the actions and choices of others. Words spoken in anger, physical and emotional attacks that wound. Hurts whose stinging pain penetrates the heart.  While we’ve all been the victim, we’ve all afflicted pain on others. The memory of our actions easily entraps us in regret and the endless cycle of “if only.”

It’s Paul’s life experience that makes his words so powerful. If anyone could have been plagued by regret, it would have been Paul. In his religious zeal he persecuted the church and martyred Christians.  He was the headmaster at Stephen’s stoning, where he watched a follower of Christ courageously die while praying for his accusers.

Like Paul, we can experience the transforming power of Jesus which exceeds the power of our past. We are not to deny our past (sins we’ve committed or sins committed against us), yet we are not to be trapped by them. When painful reminders of the wounds caused by others come, we need to remember that God has the ability to heal us from past hurts. Any pain he allows, he has a plan to use and heal. He paid the full price for our redemption and healing on Calvary.

 Let your woundedness draw you to the healer. Let Christ take your pain and make you sensitive to hurting people. Allow the regret of the afflictions you have caused to  inspire you to live a transformed life. Release the bondage of the past along with the regret. Paul, Stephen’s murder, chose to embrace grace, not guilt. This empowered Paul to live and die in a way that honored God.

Don’t allow the mistakes of your past to disqualify you from the future. Let your learning inspire you to live differently. God transforming truth is always more powerful than your past.

  • What pain do you need to release and ask God to heal and use?
  • What regret do you need to release and exchange for a transformed life?

Releasing to Trust

May 1, 2010

Oh my God, in You I trust. Psalm 25:2

Releasing the past to move forward is challenging. Our view of the future is always limited. When entering a journey of trust, there is more certainty of what one leaves behind than what lies ahead. Although it’s natural, even human, to desire and ask for clarity, there are times when God asks us to move forward, not with clarity, but in trust. The foundation of faith is a confidence in God, not in calculated plans and predicted outcomes.

Our challenge is determining whether we are stalling for clarity when we are to move forward in trust. Has clarity replaced trust and become a competitor to confidence in God? Are you living in trust or confident that our plans and calculation will be favorable and bring out the outcomes we desire?