Singing in Chains

I’m not going to lie. This past year has been a huge challenge for me. From a difficult pregnancy with HG, to adjusting to life with a newborn and being a mom of three, to moving across the country with a three month old, to the daily battle of postpartum depression.

During these times I struggle spiritually. Cognitively, I have faith and hope and trust, but on an emotional level I have, at times, felt abandoned by God. I have cried out, “LORD, where are you? Why have you brought me to this place?” The darkness can be overwhelming.

Then there is the guilt. The guilt for not supporting my husband and children to the level and depth I feel I should. The guilt for not being able to be present with friends and family for this season of my life. The guilt for not being enough. The guilt gives way to numbness and impatience. I lose the ability to connect and move to a place of simple survival.

Then I cry out, “LORD, where are you now? Why can’t I see You? Why can’t I hear You? I need You now! I can’t meet you half way. I can’t give You all of me, there is nothing left to give! Where are You? Why aren’t you here?”

I grasp at every straw I can find, pleading for a breakthrough, begging to feel His touch, longing to feel human, to feel anything again. But still . . . nothing. No answers. No comfort. No healing. Only fear, and guilt, and loneliness. Only a voice inside screaming to give up, telling me I’m all alone.

Yet. There is something deep inside me still that says no. No. I am not alone. That is a lie and it is whispered from the father of lies. I know that He who is Truth is with me. I must be patient. I must continue to wait and to grasp. I cannot give up.

And then a light, a glimmer, a word.

21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

~ 1 Peter 2:21-25

It touches something deep within. Am I waking up? Am I living again? I am reminded of Paul and Silas. I am not entirely unlike them. My chains are not made of iron but they shackle me tightly and have no mercy. I am not loosed, but I have breath enough to sing. And I will sing. I will sing with all that is in me and I will hope.

And as I sing, new life swells within me. He is here. He has never left me. He never will. My songs of praise will not cease. Even more, His love, care, faithfulness, and deliverance knows no end. He will free me. I need only sing.

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The Butterfly’s Struggle | Genesis 22:16-17a

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I have read the story of Isaac and Abraham time and again. Just as in Sabbath School, when I was a little girl, my focus has always been on Abraham and his faithfulness to God. Yet looking at this story with a new lens, there are questions.

What does this story tell us about God? What can we learn about His character? How could a loving God even begin to ask someone to murder his own son? This story has always been touted as a test of faith, yet, I cannot help but believe God already knew the result or He Himself would not risk the demise of this promised heir. So why would He ask Abraham to do this.

Now these are all guesses, the Bible does not answer these questions, but I can’t help but wonder if God did this for Abraham’s own growth and reflection. Honestly, if we look at Abraham’s life, he has a track record of weak faith and taking matters into his own hands. It seems that in the years after Isaac’s birth, things were changing in Abraham’s heart. I can’t help but wonder if it was Abraham that needed confirmation of his faith. I can’t help but wonder if Abraham somehow needed to go through the process of evaluating what was truly important to him, if he needed to wrestle with His own priorities and insecurities and, literally in this case, lay it all on the alter.

Through this story I see Abraham as a butterfly. He had been merely a caterpillar, longing to be fed, but through this great struggle from chrysalis to butterfly, he received his wings. Oh how hard it must have been for God to watch, yet he knew the strength that would come from the struggle. It must have been hard not to end the struggle, yet He knew how important it really was.

Are you in a struggle today? Is it hard to understand where God is in your story? Know that He is right there, loving you, eager to see you emerge from your struggle and mount up on wings. All the while, He is only one heart cry away.

He is My Constant | Hebrews 13:8

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All the things I’ve been reading about Jesus are as true today as they ever have been, and they will always be true. I have a relentless advocate in Him, one who understands my struggles and temptations. He has laid down His life for me and is ever ready to guide my steps. And that will never change!

I have been learning a lot about who Christ is through my study of Hebrews, and I stand in awe of¬†His character. How amazing is it to know that He will never change? He will never take back His promises. He will not grow weary of advocating on my behalf. He won’t give up on me, and He won’t stop loving me. He won’t change His mind or switch the “rules of the game”. He is constant. In a world that is changing at a rapid pace, whose cool thought or idea today could be taboo tomorrow, isn’t it refreshing to know that Jesus is always the same? He is my constant.

Unwavering Hope | Hebrews 10:23-24

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*This was written on June 14, 2016 in the wake of a night club shooting in Orlando, Florida.*

Encouragement. It’s so important. God’s word is filled with it, with stories of it, and with commands to practice it.

As I have been reading through Hebrews, I have been overcome with the undeniable truth of Christ’s love, sacrifice, and redemption for us. We are intimately loved by the foremost encourager.

These truths give us an unwavering hope, one that is solid and sure. It is through this hope and the faithfulness of His promises that we may encourage one another. It is all in His strength.

I know we are standing in the wake of a terrible tragedy in Orlando this week. The loss simply baffles my mind. To be fair, I have not read the news in great depth. I don’t know all the details. I don’t think it’s necessary and it’s just too much for my heart to carry. But I know one thing. There are many, many hurting people. I honestly don’t care if they are straight, LGBTQ, or anything in between. They are people, created and loved by God. So are their families and loved ones. We have been given such a hope, such a peace, and such an amazing gift. Now is the time, my friends. We must share this love with those around us. We must “stimulate one another to love and good deeds.”

It is not our pity and charity that the world needs. It is not even our good deeds. Rather it is the love of Jesus, and what a blessing it is that He has chosen to use us as vehicles of that great love. Let Him live, love, and encourage through you today!

He Will Never Leave You | Deuteronomy 31:6

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Moses’ time of leadership had come to an end. He would not be able to go to the promised land with the people he had led for forty years.

The people were scared. They were up against intimidating enemies and their leader was leaving them. How would they possibly make it to the promised land?

Moses reminded the people that it was not he, but God who would bring them victory. God was the one who led them all along. He would continue to lead them. He would protect them and would never leave them.

This same God is with you today. People will fail you. They may leave you at your weakest moment, but you need not fear. God is with you. He will be with you and will never forsake you. 

Proud Fighter | Exodus 14:14

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One of my favorite passages is found in Exodus 14:14. “The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still.”

I am a fighter. Some people see this as strength. Often it is more an issue of stubborn resolve – pride. I am faced with a challenge, and rather than surrender and trust God so get me through, I try to fight and muscle through the trials of life all by myself. Oh that I would trust Him sooner.

But what happens when I can’t fight any more? What happens when my resolve isn’t strong enough? What happens when, like the Israelites at the Red Sea, I’m surrounded and cornered?

The answer is trust. Trust that God is big enough. I must surrender to Him and let Him take care of my needs. But what if things are impossible? What if there seems to be no escape? “Do not fear.” God is strong and powerful. He is a God of miracles. I don’t know what armies surround you or what your Red Sea is, but God is saying to you, “Do not fear. Trust me. Let me fight for you.”

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From May 11, 2016

Issac was just born. God kept his promise to Abraham. He would have an heir. Yet now there was a problem. What would happen to Ishmael?

Sarah’s jealously flared and her fear of Isaac losing his promised inheritance outweighed her compassion for human life. Hagar and Ishmael were sent away with only a flask of water.

Scared, rejected, and alone, Hagar positioned herself but a short distance from her crying son. She could not bare to watch him die, but with no water and being alone in the desert, death seemed inevitable.

But God did not forget his promise to bless Ishmael as well as Isaac. He sent an angel to comfort Hagar. He led her to a well. He reached out to Hagar and watered her soul and her body. He kept his promise, and somehow, even in the wilderness, they grew and were blessed.

Are you cast out, rejected, despised and afraid? Are you stuck in your own wilderness with nowhere to turn. To you God says, “Do not be afraid.” Just as with Hagar, He will lead you to water. He may lead you out of this wilderness as he did the Israelites in years to come, or He may walk with you through it, fulfilling His promise even in the vast emptiness. Whatever He does you need not fear. He WILL bless you. All you have to do is say, “yes” to Him.