Doubting God…

This is a really long post, but it is worth it for you to take the time to read through all of it. – Especially if you are working through doubting God.

I’ve mentioned this before, but somewhere back in June I began asking God to reveal the lies I had been believing, and the hope I had lost. – It was a challenge *I think* issued to our staff from our lead Pastor, but… It could have been one of our other pastors as well… I am not entirely sure the accurate genesis of this whole process for me.

While on mission and leading a team in Uganda, God began to do just that, He began to sift through my heart and show me primarily one area that I was believing total lies couched in actually accurate logic; plus, super fun: The hope I had lost was directly connected to the lies.

*shocking to no one*

Almost six months later, God and I are still working through these lies. The intensity, the clarity, confusion, processing, mulling things over, and emotions that are connected to working through these lies and hope lost varies day-to-day and week-to-week. Some days it is just overwhelming and I cannot possibly do anymore thinking or praying or processing through my heart with God. Other days there are incredible amounts of revelation and clarity, soon followed by so much thankfulness to God for His patience and graciousness to me.

Last week, while I was reading through scripture – which primarily is currently working my way through the Psalms, I found myself for no real reason flipping to James 1 (this is the NLT version) again. I have found myself bouncing back to James regularly lately, so I began to read once more… Only this time I was stuck on this one passage:

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” – James 1:5-8 (NASB version)

What kind of doubting is being talked about here? Is it all doubts that you’re praying through? Is there a Greek wording context that I’m missing?

What I knew is that I am struggling with doubting God in one particular area of my life. We have been working on this area since the summer, but the reality is I am still afraid, I still doubt, and while I know in many areas of my life that God is so gracious and full of love and tenderness… In this *one little area* I seem to believe to my core that God isn’t for me, that He will pull the rug out from underneath me, and that I will be left hurting again.

(I’m leaving the area I struggle with purposefully vague, because I want you to be able to identify your own area of struggle, not get distracted by the particular area where I struggle to trust God.)

So, as with all things that I want to know every possible expounding bit of information about, I reached out to my dad and posted on his Facebook wall, because surely someone else would benefit from this info too!

I wanted to share what my dad said because this matters, and the solution is of the utmost importance.

My actual post to his wall:
Pappersan!

I’m reading James 1.. (Which I seem to come back to lately about once a week haha)

Ok, so question about a couple verses:

James 1:5-8 (ISV)
“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to everyone generously without a rebuke, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith, without any doubts, for the one who has doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. Such a person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he undertakes.”

I’m assuming that he isn’t talking about basic doubts, but a deeper/larger doubts here? – Because it would seem contradictory to ask in faith, to press in and pray for/through things without also working on the human side of struggling and doubting on a basic level.

I ask for wisdom CONSTANTLY in my prayers, and have my whole life… but I also know that I struggle with doubts. I don’t at all see the problem with that since in my doubting and struggling and trying to cling onto faith I am turning to God with all of this…

So, my question then is what type of doubts is he saying makes you double minded? Because this would seem to be contradictory to the working out our faith in fear and trembling idea.

Here is the response from my Dad, along with his answer to my follow-up question about what scripture says we can do/need to do to overcome our doubts:

OK, first, there are a lot of different types of “doubting,” some of them distinguished by different words, some by context. Unfortunately, many translations use the same word for all of these.

1) “Unbelief” (ἀπιστία – literally, “not faith”). This is being confident that it will not happen. This is actually having a very strong faith that something is not true, or will not happen. Example: Thomas.

Thomas, one of the Twelve (called the Twin), wasn’t with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he told them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger into them, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe!” A week later his disciples were again inside, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were shut, Jesus came, stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he told Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Take your hand, and put it into my side. Stop DOUBTING [literally, “Stop unbelieving”], but believe.”
(Joh 20:24-27)

2) Waiver back and forth (διστάζω – literally “duplicate, think twice”). This word is derived from the word “twice,” which is derived from the word “two.” This is when you literally waiver back and forth in the moment, trusting God, and then immediately not trusting Him. You can’t make up your mind, wavering back and forth. Example: Peter.

“Have courage!” Jesus immediately told them. “It’s me. Stop being afraid!” Peter answered him, “Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said, “Come on!” So Peter got down out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came to Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he was frightened. As he began to sink, he shouted, “Lord, save me!” At once Jesus reached out his hand, caught him, and asked him, “You who have so little faith, why did you DOUBT [literally “waiver back and forth”]?”
(Mat 14:27-31)

3) Talk yourself out of believing (διαλογισμός – literally “through reason” or “through thinking”). We sometimes call this “over thinking” something. This is when you often start out having faith, but gradually talk yourself out of that faith, think through the reasons why God probably won’t answer, and logically conclude that it probably won’t happen. Example: Disciples

While they were all talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and told them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, thinking they were seeing a ghost. But Jesus told them, “What’s frightening you? And why are you DOUBTING [literally “talking yourself out of believing”]?
(Luk 24:36-38)

4) Separate your faith from yourself (διακρίνω – literally “to make a judgment” or “to distinguish between yourself”). This is the most common word for doubt, and is used two ways: of general doubts about the faith, and of specific doubts about a specific situation. The implication here is that you actually have faith, and are not being true to yourself and what you KNOW that you believe. 

Everyone has general doubts from time to time. What we are supposed to overcome are the specific doubts.

A) General doubts.
Example: New Believers

But you, dear friends, must continue to build your most holy faith for your own benefit. Furthermore, continue to pray in the Holy Spirit. Remain in God’s love as you look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, which brings eternal life. Show mercy to those who have DOUBTS.
(Jud 1:20-22)

B) Specific doubts.
Example: Praying believers

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to everyone generously without a rebuke, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith, without any DOUBTS, for the one who has DOUBTS is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
(Jas 1:5-6)

The idea on this last one is that we are actually insulting God, or treating Him like he is not trustworthy or faithful. This is when we pray for something, but deep down inside, we don’t really believe He’s going to answer this specific prayer. He might answer other prayers, but not this one.

This is akin to telling someone that they can call you at any time, and you will help them. And when they do call you, it is clear from their attitude and tone that they do NOT actually believe you are going to follow through. 

THAT is what James is talking about. When we KNOW God is faithful, and will answer this particular prayer, but we doubt Him ANYWAY!

Solutions found in scripture:

OK, the solutions to the problems of doubting.

It does not appear that the various kinds of doubting have different solutions. From the strong doubts that are actually negative faith, being certain it won’t happen (unbelief) to the common general doubts, there are the same recommendations. In other words, the principles for building faith are pretty much the same no matter what kind of doubts you have.

1) Fasting and prayer. We are encouraged to fast and pray in areas where we might have doubts, so that our doubts can be overcome, and our faith gradually take over.

As they approached the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, knelt down in front of him, and said, “Sir, have mercy on my son, because he is an epileptic and suffers terribly. Often he falls into fire and often into water. I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.” Jesus replied, “You unbelieving and perverted generation! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to me!” Then Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of him, and the boy was healed that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He told them, “Because of your LACK OF FAITH [1) unbelief]. I tell you with certainty, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you. But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.”
(Mat 17:14-21)

2) Listen to and be encouraged by the testimony of those who have experienced God’s faithfulness. We are encouraged to use the testimony of God’s faithfulness in other people to build our own faith, and silence our doubts.

After Jesus had risen early on the first day of that week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had driven out seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Jesus and who now were grieving and crying. When they heard that he was alive and that he had been seen by her, they REFUSED TO BELIEVE Mary [1) unbelief]. After this, Jesus appeared in a different form to two disciples as they were walking into the country. They went back and told the others, who didn’t believe them, either. Finally he appeared to his eleven disciples while they were eating. He rebuked them for their UNBELIEF [1) unbelief] and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who had seen him after he had risen.
(Mar 16:9-14)

3) ACT on what we know to be true, in areas where we do have faith. If we act on the faith that we do have, it will silence the doubts in other areas, and build our overall faith.

Now the apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard that the gentiles had also accepted the word of God. But when Peter went up to Jerusalem, those who emphasized circumcision disagreed with him. They said, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them!” Then Peter began to explain to them point by point what had happened. He said, “I was in the town of Joppa praying when in a trance I saw a vision: Something like a large linen sheet descended down from heaven, lowered by its four corners, and it came right down to me. When I examined it closely, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter! Kill something and eat it.’ But I replied, ‘Absolutely not, Lord, for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth!’ Then the voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘You must stop calling common what God has made clean!’ This happened three times. Then everything was pulled back up to heaven. “At that very moment three men arrived at the house where we were staying. They had been sent to me from Caesarea. The Spirit told me to go with them WITHOUT HESITATING [4) Separate your faith from yourself]. These six brothers went with me, too, and we entered the house of the man from Caesarea.
(Act 11:1-12)

Warning on number 3: This is specifically about acting on those areas where we have faith, so that our faith can be built up. That is NOT the same as acting on areas where we have serious struggles with doubt. We are actually warned NOT to act if we have unbelief. The scripture does NOT teach that if we do not believe, we just need to jump out there and do it, and pretend that we believe, and eventually we will believe. It actually teaches the opposite: if we have serious doubts, or unbelief about something, then it won’t happen, no matter what we DO.

We are told to act in areas where we have faith, and that will build our trust in God in areas where we have doubt.

In other words, scripture does not teach us to take blind “leaps of faith” when we are struggling with unbelief. If there is an area where we have serious doubts, scripture teaches us to first build our faith, and once our faith has been built up, then STEP OUT IN FAITH in areas where we USED to have doubts.

As for the faith you do have, have it as your own conviction before God. How blessed is the person who has no reason to condemn himself because of what he approves! But the person who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not act in faith; and anything that is not done in faith is sin.
(Rom 14:22-23)

4) Refuse to let circumstances dictate our faith. Discipline our mind to rule our emotions.

His faith did not weaken when he thought about his own body (which was already as good as dead now that he was about a hundred years old) or about Sarah’s inability to have children, nor did he doubt [4) separate your faith from yourself] God’s promise out of a lack of faith [1) unbelief]. Instead, his faith became stronger and he gave glory to God, being absolutely convinced that God would do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now the words “it was credited to him” were written not only for him but also for us. Our faith will be regarded in the same way, if we believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was sentenced to death because of our sins and raised to life to justify us.
(Rom 4:19-25)

5) Cry out to God for help in areas where we continue to struggle with doubt. God listens to desperate cries for help.

So they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into convulsions. He fell on the ground and kept rolling around and foaming at the mouth. Then Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” He said, “Since he was a child. The spirit has often thrown him into fire and into water to destroy him. But if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us!” Jesus told him, “‘If you are able?’ Everything is possible for the person who believes!” With tears flowing, the child’s father at once cried out, “I do believe! Help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that won’t let him talk or hear—I command you to come out of him and never enter him again!” The spirit screamed, shook the child violently, and came out. The boy was like a corpse, and many said that he was dead. But Jesus took his hand and helped him up, and he stood up.
(Mar 9:20-27)

6) Remain faithful to God during trials, and they will harden and strengthen your faith.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you are involved in various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But you must let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
(Jas 1:2-4)

7) Regularly feed yourself with the Word of God, then the Holy Spirit will bring it alive, this will water your faith, and help it to grow.

Then the tempter came. “Since you are the Son of God,” he said, “tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘One must not live on bread alone, but on every word coming out of the mouth of God.'”
(Mat 4:3-4)

I am hands down, all the struggle of the third type of doubting.
I “logically” talk myself out of faith in God.

It. Is. Terrible.

God has been speaking to me a lot since the summer; as in a whole heck of a lot. He has answered prayers, and spoken to me in the ways I’ve asked to confirm what I’m praying for/over/through (via dreams, fasting, words from friends, scripture etc..). The problem is, it always starts out renewing my faith and trust, and then, over time I begin to fear again and doubt if what I heard was just me wishful thinking. – This is why journaling my prayers has been crucial to this whole process for me, it allows me to go back and re-read the exact day. I get to read through the prayers, what I asked, how I asked for Him to speak, and the answers I have gotten along the way.

This is when you often start out having faith, but gradually talk yourself out of that faith, think through the reasons why God probably won’t answer, and logically conclude that it probably won’t happen.” – This is me in my struggle to work through the lies that have found themselves entrenched deeply within my heart. Or maybe, a better way to say it is, I start out hopeful, and as God speaks to me I find my hope full, yet as time goes, I find myself struggling to not grasp fully onto my fear and desire for control. I desire to protect and keep myself safe rather than fully and totally trusting God, His timing, and His plan.

I have begun to detail out and write down explicitly the fears and doubts I have. I have started telling God every bit of what I think is going to happen in my fear, with my lack of trust in Him, the areas I do not believe He is for me, and how I feel regardless of what I know to be true about Him in other areas of my life. I have also started begging Him to help me see these things, face them, and then give them over to Him totally.

  • Just because God’s timing is not mine, that does not make Him untrustworthy.
  • Just because I experience pain, that does not mean that God is cruel.
  • Just because I pray a lot for something, that doesn’t mean that God is going to do things my way.
  • Just because I ask God to release me from something, that does not mean it is what is best for me.
  • Just because I don’t understand, that does not mean that God doesn’t have the whole picture clearly before Him.
  • Just because I hear God speak clearly in one part of the journey does not mean He will explain every bit of it to me.
  • Just because God tells me something months ago, and then hasn’t updated anything, that does not mean what He said is no longer valid.
  • Just because I am afraid and doubt, that does not mean that God is not tender and patient and faithful to me and my process.

If you are doubting, if you are losing faith:
Renew your process and press into our Savior. Jesus is there with the Holy Spirit to meet you. But, be aware, letting go of doubts is not easy, nor is it a pretty process; it’s raw, and very painful. And, never forget that the enemy of your soul is plotting against you with carefully crafted tactics to prevent this process from taking place. – Because the enemy of our soul is an @$$hole.

Yet, even still, our Lord is tender, patient, gracious, merciful and so incredibly faithful and trustworthy to you and your process. He wants to be a part of you giving your doubts, fears, and struggles to Him; no part of this is meant for you to do alone without His help.

You are not without hope in your doubting.

Just Enough Grace…

Sufficient.

This is the word that has been bouncing around in my head, poking holes in my fears and anxieties as I work to clean out the damaged parts of my heart and replace them with more of my Sweet Savior.

IMG_4872

suf·fi·cient: /səˈfiSHənt/: adjective & determiner: enough; adequate.

Synonyms include:
Plenty of, ample, just right.

Compound Sufficient with Grace.

grace: /ɡrās/: noun: the condition or fact of being favored by someone. a divinely given talent or blessing. simple elegance or refinement of movement.

“My Grace is Sufficient.”

I have been processing different facets of what and where my fears and anxieties come from. I want to understand myself, my heart and mind, and I want to see the flaws clearly.
The simple answer: My fear and anxiety is from insecurities, lack of trust in God, and feeling out of control… But, ultimately it has been born out of previous pain and hurt projecting into the future. – Neat.

The last few days I have found myself praying:
“Your Grace is Sufficient. Your Grace is just right for ______.”  – Insert myself, another person or situation… And then, just repeat a bit obsessively and you’ll get an idea of how some of my prayers sound.

And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

In the NLT version it reads: “…’My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’…”

Three alternate word choices:
There is plenty of my grace for you.
My grace is just right for you.
The fact of my favor and blessing is exactly enough for you.

I have not quite reached the level of boasting in my weaknesses, insults, distresses or difficulties. (Anyone else?)
A more authentic description would be: I still very much wrestle with giving God unmitigated control of a situation; EVEN IF I know that I only have perceived control.

On one hand, I very much pray through things, pray about them, over them, for them… I try to press into my Sweet Savior for all things and in all situations. – “Try” being the key word here.
Yet, on the other hand, there is a side of me that cannot seem to let go without a struggle. So, I end up with one hand on the thing I’m praying for or over and one hand gripped onto Jesus. – Let me assure you, there’s an intense and often intimate conflict within me until one hand releases… And, the only thing that ushers in peace is when both hands grasp onto Christ.

In Matthew we are told not to worry about tomorrow. – It sounds nice and like a solid peace of advice, until you realize that it is actually necessary to abide by this rule. Over the last couple weeks I have realized that if I begin to think about, plan for or rehearse things in my head looking forward beyond today:

Instant stress, fear and anxiety struggle within me.

In fact, the enemy of my soul knows how easily “thinking about things in the future” is a spot he can scheme against me. So, because he’s been studying me and knows when and how to attack, for me it is as I go through my bedtime routine (usually about when I’m brushing my teeth). I will often suddenly find myself thinking about future things, and my mind takes off at 100mph with fake scenarios and conversations under the guise of “processing all possible outcomes” and then, getting it all to shut down so I can sleep becomes virtually impossible.

The enemy of my soul is an @$$hole.

“‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” – Isaiah 41:10

A couple of nights ago the stress was palpable. I could feel it within me as I climbed into bed and found myself totally not ready to sleep. I was exhausted, feeling weary and overwhelmed from the day and what was to come. I uttered a few weak little prayers in my head for help, and then decided I would start at the beginning of the Psalms, maybe there was something there for me. (Imagine me saying that with a nonchalant shoulder shrug.)

So, I read the first four chapters of the Psalms, but decided to share with you the portions that screamed for my attention and why.

Here’s how our “conversation” went as I laid in bed:

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.” – Psalm 1:3

Conveniently this was my ‘take note’ memo because I have a vast tree tattooed on my side… Ok, maybe the Lord did have something for me tonight.

But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
I was crying to the Lord with my voice,
And He answered me from His holy mountainSelah.
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.” – Psalm 3:3-5

This is when I realized that God and I were actually having a moment; I was struggling and crying out to Him, I was laying down to sleep! – He was answering me and His plan was to sustain me.

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer…
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself;
The Lord hears when I call to Him.
Tremble, and do not sin;
Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And trust in the Lord
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than when their grain and new wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” – Psalm 4:1, 3-5, 7-8

God gives peace and relieves distress. He is gracious and hears when I am calling, I do not call out in vain when I am laying on my bed – like actually literally laying on my bed and being still. I will trust, even if it looks more like convincing myself because I’m struggling… But, I will sleep in peace because the Lord makes me to live in a settled state of safety in Him.

That night, I slept well.

His Grace is sufficient.
His Grace is just right for me as I lay down to sleep with a mind dabbling on the edge of overcome with stress about whatever is to come; He is there and I am safe.

His Grace is sufficient.

Synonym meaning:
His simple elegance and refinement of my movement is just right for me.

Cultivating Patient Endurance…

I have always said “I am not known for my patience…”

I don’t recommend identifying yourself as even a simple thing that is not from the Lord.

I naturally tend towards the side of being a bit of a whirlwind, charge ahead, figure it out as I go, and fly by the seat of my pants type person. I like to keep moving, feeling progress, and feeling stuck or stagnant feels more like jail than anything else. Can you imagine how I feel when God forces me to stop, pause, dwell, abide, and wait on Him?

Struggle.

On one hand, I desperately want to be obedient. But, on the other it is fighting my natural instincts. I feel a bit like a caged horse just anxious to move, to do something, to go, to take off and make progress.

Ahhh, but you see, patience is essential. Patient endurance is actually key to life with the Lord. – Crap.

I have been learning so much over the last couple of months, my themes get progressively harder and more nuanced. Each theme takes on a compounding weight with the previous themes…

But, true to form, here I am to share some of what I am learning.

Patient Endurance – It means the tolerant and even-tempered perseverance. It is the capacity or state of withstanding a hardship or stress, the act of persevering. The fact or power of bearing pain, hardship, or adversity.

If you have not, you may want to go read more about what I have been learning about Perseverance and Grit, or just a few of the themes God has given me to process.

For the longest time (aka pretty much my entire life) I have sorta separated out the Fruit of the Spirit. I have split them into two categories: the ones I am good at, and the ones I’m bad at. Naturally a lot of my life and actions are done through the lens of Kindness (pre-meditated thoughtfulness, consideration, and care for those around me)… Every single day, I am typically keenly aware of how what I do impacts those around me (sometimes for the worse, but also for the better).

Because honesty matters; what Fruit of the Spirit am I naturally bad at? Gentleness and Patience. – Shocked is no one ever.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, depending on the day, if I’m in a particularly unhealthy place, I’m bad at most of the Fruit of the Spirit!.. But, overall, on average, Gentleness and Patience are the struggles.

(A couple of years ago, my church did an “Elements” series. It was awesome, and I highly recommend checking it out to give you a good starting place too!)

So, I keep coming back to this:

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
– Galatians 5:25

When we are in-tune with the Holy Spirit, the evidence of that is each and every one of these descriptors:
Love,
Joy,
Peace,
Patience,
Kindness,
Goodness,
Faithfulness,

Gentleness,
and Self-control

Yet, throughout scripture I’m realizing that these qualities are not all equal. Some Fruit of the Spirit are gifted, others you actually have to work towards diligently, still others are primarily an overflow of time abiding with God, unfortunately some are straight up a willful decision in moments and situations, and then some are just cultivated over time.

Awesome. Not easy.

Self-control is cultivated.
Gentleness is a choice response; usually after wisdom and compassion have had a chance to work in and through us.
Patience, oh sweet dear patience is cultivated through difficulties. Repeatedly throughout scripture patience is linked to humility, gentleness, kindness, tribulations, proven character, hope, faith and love. – Ouch. There’s really no great and wonderful rainbows and butterflies; this one is a matter of grit.

Patience is cultivated.
Patience is learned and created through difficult situations, learning, growing and choosing the response.
Patience is born out of some of the worst seasons of our life that create compassion and love for others.

Also, just so we are clear, there is a huge element of patience that is connected to pressing into the presence of God. I have started to actually see the shift and change within me as I continue to spend more time abiding, dwelling, and going to God open-handed with every bit of who I am with the situations I am facing.

Here are a few things about patience that I am learning about in this accidental growth in patience processing season:

Patience cultivation is so freaking hard. – Like truly, learning patience means being aware of your mindset, your heart, the stress and situations you are facing, and being aware enough to know how to respond well… Even if that means actually not responding at all.

Patience is equated with perseverance, which means there is a longevity associated with it. There is nothing quick about patience cultivation.

Patience is a process. As in, I have realized that as I respond poorly in situations with little or no patience, I absolutely must spend some time processing what and why I didn’t have patience and learn from it.

I have realized that when I do not have capacity for patience, I am stress and overwhelmed, and likely tapped out. My only option and saving grace is for me to force space for myself to spend some time with God. – Over the last couple months, I have come to realize, no matter how busy I am or how pressed I feel, if I do not create daily time and space with God, patience is going to dwindle alarmingly quickly for me.

God is continuing to tell me to hold steadfast, to persevere, and then issuing the challenge of “are you going to be obedient?”… Only, the challenge has shifted slightly to “do you have the patient endurance to persevere through the process?”

What process?

This process; the re-shaping, learning, growing, and creating a new foundation within me.
This process is changing me intensely and incredibly from the core of who I am outward.
God has changed the game, He has adjusted the way He and I communicate, and He is teaching me about patient endurance day by day.
A huge part of this process has been God restoring the credibility I didn’t know had been damaged. I have started learning how to recognize my need for time with Him first before reaching out to someone else for comfort… It’s a huge step for me.

Each day, I feel as though I am living out and learning that in order to actually have patient endurance, I have no choice but to live by the, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” command in Matthew 6.

What’s coming soon, the stress of tomorrow or two weeks from now, it is literally too much to handle and it sends my fear, stress and anxiety over the edge… And graciously, lovingly with more tenderness than I realize, the Lord calls me back to today, to this moment, to Him, and asks me to Trust Him. – Allow Him to navigate the process and restore my faith and His credibility as I learn patient endurance. Some days, I easily do this with the feeling of contentment and grace, other days I am a waffling crazy person in my head and heart…. Who’s to say which way I will go each day!

Patient Endurance is intensely difficult because there’s a decision to choose steadiness that requires me to resolutely and dutifully hold firm and unwavering regardless of how I feel or see before me.

Patient Endurance begins to create a peace within your soul because of the time needed in abiding and dwelling with my Sweet Savior.

Patient Endurance forces me to confront my fears and the things I do not have control over and hand them over to the Lord trusting that His timing is better.

Patient Endurance changes you and slowly creates a calm confidence that God can be trusted.

God can be trusted. His timing is better than mine.

It will all be worth it in the end.

God’s Credibility…

I keep mulling over this idea that the enemy of our soul, the deceiver, the evil one or Satan, whatever name you’d like to use; that he has one singular goal:

“he only comes to steal, kill, and destroy…” – John 10:10a

That’s it, all he wants to do is:
A. Steal.
B. Kill.
C. Destroy.

The end.

As I have been learning more about him, his names, and schemes against me (us), I have also been correspondingly learning about God, His character, and the Armor of God. I highly recommend Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God study, it’s great!.. Although, it’s actually supposed to be done as a group study, and I’m preferring to do it on my own.

She makes this statement that has just stuck with me, and I’ve been mulling it over for a couple of weeks now.

One of the evil one’s main goals is to deceive us and to injure God’s credibility with us.

There’s something about the idea of my faith and confidence in God, His plans, and that He is in fact who He says He is being injured to the extent that I struggle with His very credibility… Maybe not necessarily ALL areas of who He is, but maybe just one or two?

Credibility is the quality of being trusted or being trustworthy. The ability to be believed.

Ugh.

I hate admitting that there are areas of my relationship with the Lord that have been injured, and it’s my fault. I just find myself so incredibly frustrated that I have allowed the enemy to deceive me just barely enough to create this struggle within my heart to trust that God is in fact inherently trustworthy in all areas of my life. He is not just trustworthy and able in the lives or situations of those around me, but for me, myself an I, on the most intimate of levels within my heart.

God’s credibility has been injured in my heart slowly over time, and He did absolutely nothing to deserve it, in fact, He’s done everything to not deserve it.

I can look back over my life and confidently say, God has been faithful to me. The Lord has comforted and guided me in the best and worst season’s of my life. God has blessed me in ways that aren’t of the American Dream blessings type, but in eternal things and richness of relationships… And, let me tell you, I absolutely am not nice enough or gentle enough to deserve it… Sometimes I’m just a jerk, and truly truly grace, mercy and forgiveness are my saving!

So where’s the struggle and why has His credibility been injured?

Simply put, because it pretty much boils down to His timing isn’t mine.

I have slowly, little by little over the course of my life struggled with one particular area of my life, and in my own hoping, and attempt to control or be capable or whatever, I have allowed his guidance to injure my belief that He sees me, and is for me.

In June I started praying that the Lord would reveal the lies that my heart had begun believing, and to show me where I had lost hope. It was sparked because of (I think) a staff Chapel where our pastor talked about it… In July leading into Uganda, what I prayed for over myself was that the Holy Spirit would not allow me to set aside or shut down my heart in order to function and “be a good leader.” I told God that I wanted whatever He had for me in Uganda, I wanted to have connection with Him, not just facilitate Him connecting with our team. I also had begun to realize how unhealthy it is for me to lock my heart away and not consult it for days, sometimes weeks. I believe that in order to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s movements, I absolutely needed to learn how to better navigate my heart and head at the same time.

About six weeks ago, I began to find myself just overcome with the same old insecurities. All of these things that I always control and set aside in my locked heart were bubbling up; I had no control over them and there was no stopping it. I saw what was happening. The Lord was finally bringing to the surface areas of my heart where I had lost hope and believed lies about Him and myself.

His message was clear: We (you and me) are going to fix this.

So far, it has been an intensely painful process of weeding through word by word (you can read about some of those words here, here or even here) the areas that God’s credibility was in question or my insecurities about myself reigned free were linked to some of these words (and other ones I have yet to blog about).

In five weeks I plowed my way through an entire prayer journal that typically take me 4 or so months to use up.

Daily, I continue to get themes to process, mull over, read scripture on, talk about, pray through, and ultimately come to a new place in my heart on…

My biggest frustration is with myself in this process. I see what God is doing (at least in part), I see the here and now elements, I see the impact it is likely to have on me in the future, and I see the character development happening. Yet, I have very little grace with my own pace, my own struggle, and the ways that I can know (head) that something is or isn’t true, and yet find myself struggling so intensely (heart) that it feels overwhelming. I get frequently upset with myself and the way that it isn’t just as simple as see the truth and reality, and settle it within my heart and move on. Check and done.

I find myself feeling like I waffle back and forth day-to-day sometimes. One day I will be fine, I will be secure and confident in what God and I are doing, how He’s speaking to me (because let me tell you, He IS speaking to me a ton right now), and then the very next day I am riddled with a struggling, doubting, and fearful heart. – So. Annoying. I actually get tired of my own process, I cannot even begin to imagine how other’s close to me that are being subjected to my processing feel!

A few days ago I shifted my prayers as I have slowly begun to realize where my issues lay.

Lord, I believe and trust you.
Help my unbelief.

I absolutely, confidently believe the Lord can and will change me, He is walking me through this season and towards another with confidence, a purpose, and creating and molding me into the woman He desires me to be. I see the process, I even see the progress, and I very much so feel the changes happening within me. – Yet, even still, at almost 33 years old, I am learning to reset how God and I talk, how we communicate, and how I let Him lead me. It is scary. Necessary, but still scary in the depths of my heart.

When I realized that so much of this struggle stems from a deception sown in my heart years upon years ago and continued repeatedly that “maybe God isn’t credible and reliable in this one area…” – Ugh. So frustrating and upsetting.

Yet, here I am, three months into the process, six weeks of intensive care from the Lord, and He has been nothing but patient and extending so much assistance and aid to me. He has helped me learn His voice better in the last six weeks. He is guiding me daily through scripture, He is giving me dreams when I ask for them, and prayers from other people when I can’t find clarity. He’s given me pictures spoken over me from people who know my situation and season, and other’s that are clueless. Literally at this stage, within one day I will have an answer to whatever I’ve been struggling with…. It is of course never as simple as “yes or no.” Instead, it’s a new theme or a synonym of an old theme spoken to me like, “God said for me to tell you ‘Keep going.'” (I *may* have fallen to the floor in dramatics when I was told that lol)

I think in my head I want this clear audible voice that I cannot refute with a specific answer.

Instead, God is not subject to my need for control in the form of a clearly audible voice. He doesn’t cater to my timeline, nor would I want Him to be ultimately… So, rather, He is teaching me along the way that He is in fact credible. He is trustworthy enough for me to believe and follow without pause or worry. His timing matters more than the insecurity and lack of patience in my own timing. He has been clear, not only am I able to understand what He is doing, but I will also be prepared when the time is right.

So good.
So hard and scary.

This season, it is about learning His voice, renewing what was broken and lost, it is about obeying what He is telling me. I will forever be changed after this season. My faith in God for everything, at every step, at every pace, and in all ways is being restored as if it was never broken or damaged.

God’s credibility is being restored deep within my heart.

 

Wisdom and Foolishness

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
– James 1:5

“The foolishness of man ruins his way, and his heart rages against the Lord.”
– Proverbs 19:3

Since I was a child, literally 11 years old, I can remember praying for two things for and over myself: Wisdom and Understanding. – If that gives any insight into the type of child and person I am! haha I realize and love that I’m a bit of a weirdo haha

I remember, and continue to feel like if only I have more wisdom and understanding, then I can and will do better at life. I will handle situations better, I will see people differently, I can assess and respond to various things that I encounter more effectively, I can keep the best and most important things in perspective… But, ultimately, I can just love others well.

Occasionally, I will also swap into my prayer mix, clarity and knowledge for myself before the Lord.

The opposite side of wisdom is foolishness, so it is no surprise that I want to perpetually stay as far away from that as possible.
One of the big things I process and struggle through before making decisions is wanting as much information and perspective as I can get to ensure that I do not make a foolish decision. – I don’t want to ever look back and feel like I had been foolish, hasty, thoughtless, or stupid in my decisions or actions.

So, given the way the Lord and I are working through things lately, Foolishness was the theme a few days ago, and Wisdom was soon to follow… As in, the next day.

I was amazed to realize that when you look up “foolish” in scripture, and when you read through the passages one right after another; it is actually very clear about who is considered foolish and what is considered foolish! And then, because God has a sense of humor, there’s one section of verses that throw a little wrench into what man considers wise vs foolish and what God does. (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

Just so we are all on the same page, other descriptors of foolishness are: thoughtless, senseless, stupid, mindless, unwise or incautious actions… The level with which I do not want to be or ever be described as these things is intense within me.

So, I began to dig deeper in scripture to get a handle on what it means, and compare myself authentically to see if I am foolish.

Here are some of the things I learned reading through the 88 passages that talk about foolishness in scripture:
Those who are foolish don’t even try to understand or seek wise counsel.
Foolish people are quick-tempered.
The Foolish have eyes but do not see, ears but do not year, and they do not honor or give thanks to God even though they know him.
Foolish people speculate futilely knowing it will lead to arguments and strife.
The foolish seek riches, fame.
Foolish people, who do not believe and follow Christ are actually enslaved to their evil thoughts, coveting, deceit, sensuality, adulteries, envy, slander, and pride… They are even described as having qualities that are evil and proceed from within them.
Foolishness is something that comes from within, it produces actions that harm ourselves or others, and entirely disregard the Lord.
Foolish people operate in pride and don’t even attempt to see or care about what is right, nor do they give thanks to the Lord and honor him in any way.

But also, interestingly enough, believers and followers of Christ are described as righteous, and that they previously were foolish but are no more…

However, I find it interesting that Paul won’t let believers sidestep people who are foolish. We must seek after them with love too. He says that we are actually under obligation to both Greeks and barbarians, to the wise and foolish. We must love and follow hard after our Lord making disciples of all people and all nations.

(You can read more about where I’m getting this information from here.)

One of my favorite things about the really hard, and honestly exhausting season that the Lord and I are currently in together right now is that I spend all day every day mulling and praying through things that He is teaching me. I feel as though in my head, in conversations, in my prayers, and journaling, in my seeking, in my rising and laying down I am working out my salvation with the God of the Universe. That, while He has already saved me, He is taking this season, and making me new. On a foundational level we are re-evaluating things and removing lies and insecurities, and also replacing and building new hope and faith in the process. – It is draining in every possible sense of the word, but it is intensely good and rich.

I feel like daily I am consumed by this season. I spend every spare moment reading and digging deeper. Exhausting.

As I get my Theme’s of the day and begin to dig deeper and try to wrap my mind around them, I have realized there are a lot of thoughts and assumptions that I have that are not actually described in scripture… or better yet, other things that are incredibly clearly defined that I was totally ignorant of!

There was so much internal sigh of relief when I realized that while I certainly have plenty of foolish moments and have done foolish things, *I* am not foolish by any stretch of the imagination.

This whole internal process of mulling and praying my way through this topic was sparked because I have been trying to figure out whether it is considered foolish to hope and pray for things that are more just “wishful thinking” when I do not know if it falls within the will of God.

My everyday struggle is that, I want intensely to do things well in the eyes of the Lord. I want to follow the Lord, and pursue Him with everything I am. I desire for my prayers and actions to be in alignment with him.

So, what did I find out as I dug deeper into wisdom and foolishness?

No, it is not foolish in the slightest to hope and pray for things that we don’t know whether they are or aren’t in the will of God… There is actually nowhere in scripture that foolishness even comes close to touching praying and hoping for things in the Lord. – Instead, it is actually the opposite, wisdom and understanding slide up right next to hoping and praying for things we want. It honors God when we go to Him, foolish people do not give Him honor, nor do they care about the things of His kingdom.

Throughout scripture, wisdom and understanding are intimately acquainted with every type of communication between us and the Lord.

In fact, the more we press in, the more we seek and ask for wisdom, the more we are actually changed by the Spirit. We find ourselves in alignment with Him as part of the process, and even if we don’t get what we want, we are content and continue to hope and build our faith throughout the journey.

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom… But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.”
– James 3:13 & 17

I do not know that I’ll every consider myself “wise” but, the more I learn about wisdom, the more I want to pursue it and also just find it fascinating. I seek the Spirit of Wisdom that is talked about throughout scripture. I want the blessings that come with having knowledge and understanding that is only given from the Creator of the Universe.

I also find it interesting that wisdom is given a gender, and that gender is female.
I also find it interesting that wisdom is ranked above coral, crystal, silver, gold, and any other riches or desirable things cannot compare.

Also, I very much am drawn to the fact that the righteous utter wisdom and their tongue speaks justice.

If your mouth speaks wisdom, then the meditations of your heart will be understanding.

Fearing the Lord is the start of wisdom, and it is pleasant to the soul within you.

Did you know that in scripture, wisdom is better than weapons of war?

And, just when I didn’t think it could get any better, the wise make the most of every day and every opportunity, especially with people who are not believers of who Christ is.

So, what is the biggest key marker between wisdom and foolishness? One seeks the Lord, the other does not care in the slightest.

My loves, be wise in all that you do.

Today’s Theme is Brought to You By…

A few months ago I told a couple of people that I knew God and I were entering a new season. I felt like God was going to start speaking to me again, but totally differently than he ever has before. I was excited about it, and felt like it was just going to be this really sweet season between God and I.

Then, as if to confirm my feeling, over the last couple of months I have had several different people either pray over or speak into me about how they feel or see God doing a new thing with and within me. – Some of these people trusted and close, one stranger, and a few people who were oblivious to the inner workings of my heart.

While I was ready for a new season, and I felt like it was going to be “sweet,” I was also a bit worried about entering into a new season. Because the last time He warned me a new season was coming, it was incredibly painful and I still refer to it as having put myself in an induced emotional coma to survive it… So I was anxious, and journaled my prayers to God about it a couple of times because, I am an external processor if there ever was one!

Don’t get me wrong, I so much love and enjoy my life.
I find joy in life every day, I love my community, friends, family, ministry.. Life is rich and full to overflowing with so many blessings!… But, I also live in reality, and that means that life is sometimes hard; as in, really incredibly heavy, full of sorrow and words that cannot comfort adequately. Sometimes, life feels more like just putting your head down and trying to weather the storm with as little damage done to you and your heart as possible.

(Anyone else feel like lately the world seems to be hell-bent on pain, destruction, divisiveness and sorrow?)

I also believe life should be lived authentically, and that while our stories are intensely personal, they were never meant to be kept private. So much of God’s power and help is experienced through people’s incredibly personal stories (just read the Bible, it’s full of these stories!).

When life is hard, I think we should admit it to people who ask that actually care for an answer. We should allow people to love us and help us (ok, so I am actually not always the best at this, but truly working on it).
When life is full to overflowing with joy and happiness, that needs to also be shared. – It pushes back and fights off the darkness.

While I can confidently say that I would not describe this season with God as “sweet” in the moment, I believe that after the fact, when I look back I will be content and find joy from this season. However, IN this season, it is hard, painful, challenging, and actually re-wiring me internally. It feels like a mental, emotional, spiritual breaking down of muscles, being intensely sore, and then finding yourself slowly getting stronger in the process. It also takes intentionality, determination, and a whole heck of a lot of hard work. You can read more about the Perseverance and Grit I am also learning in this season.

My heart is changing, growing, healing, and finding a healthy balance with my head. I am finding more and more that I am first seeking our Lord in moments of questions, uncertainty, thanksgiving, frustration, or any need or emotion really… It is good, it is refreshing.

In fact, I have discovered, that when I take time lately to process, read scripture, and journal, a theme almost immediately bubbles up to the surface.

I have started referring to my day’s like it’s a Sesame Street skit: “Today’s theme is brought to you by….”

Peace.
Steadfast.
Perseverance.
Anxiety.
Renew.

These words (and others) have bubbled up, and subsequently created a place for me to dig in and find out what the Lord has said throughout scripture on these topics. It is interesting, intense, convicting, challenging and comforting all at the same time. I find that many of the passages I am aware of; some vaguely, others are common, but then, there are these little gems that I have somehow never seen before! It has begun creating anchor points in my rock foundation for me to wade through these very hard, intimate, and difficult topics… I know that one day these Sesame Street style themes will also be able to be used to help create anchors for others, but for now, they are creating a space for breaking and healing my own heart and mind.

I tend to use Biblegateway.com so that I can easily pop between a couple different translations, re-check words and other possible translations for those words, and see which translation speaks to me the most… But, I prefer to also use my physical Bible so that I can write all over it! Then, of course, I copy the passages of scripture that speaks to the theme for the day into my journal and have therefore begun to compile a list to reference as I continue through this “sweet” season.

And, of course, like any good researcher, I also google the definition for these words, and find their synonyms to expand the words I use in my journey through scripture.

What a unique season I find myself in; one with so many emotions, so much mulling and thinking through things, loads of prayers, and lots of sitting in silence… But also some processing with people.

One of the daily themes recently was Hope, as I worked my way through the different passages on Hope, I came upon one of my life verses, and I saw it anew:

“Sustain me according to your word, that I may live;
and do not let me be ashamed of my hope.”
– Psalm 119:116

In this season, I have found that I am being sustained, and am so much better able to weather this season because of the words of our Lord. – I also know that I am struggling with hope in a particular area of my life, and have a tendency to rationalize things away rather than choosing faith and hope because it feels too risky for my heart… It feels foolish to choose hope.

So, Lord, do not let me be ashamed of my hope.

It is so interesting to connect to one of my life verses in a new way, and see it suddenly differently than I have for well over a decade. What a beautiful example of how God breathes new life into scripture and all of a sudden it has fresh life directly connected to where we are in our journey.

(Also, just for kicks and giggles, my other life verse is Colossians 1:10)

This season is hard.
This season is painful.
This season is beautiful.
This season is forever changing who I am at the very core and foundation of who God made me to be, and I am grateful beyond words.

Overwhelming and Overflowing..

Sometimes life is overwhelming.

Sometimes life is overflowing.

Such little differences in the word, I mean, they could almost be interchangeable. In order to overflow, it has to overwhelm.. but I think the emphasis has more to do with which action is the focus.

Lately, I have felt like life is overwhelming. As if, I am trying as hard as I can every day to keep up, tread water, make an impact… whatever it is, but despite my best efforts there is no overcoming it all.

I want my life to be overflowing. So that, no matter what I do or how hard I try, it is from the abundance of grace I have that is spilling out all over the place. Going before me and following after me.

Not long ago, I went to the doctor because I was fairly confident there was something wrong with me. I was perpetually fatigued, yet I had insomnia. I never felt good, like there was just something off. My throat hurt all the time, and I was tense, as in my muscles couldn’t completely let go. Then, one night while taking a hot bath, I had a full-blown anxiety attack. I couldn’t get my heart rate to come down, I was struggling breathing.. and all while candles were lit, soft music played, and I attempted to sooth my aching muscles in hot water.

Surely something was wrong.

I went through a few tests and some blood work to find out that I am in fact surprisingly healthy. So much so, that my doctor was quite pleased with my workout routine, my eating habits, the supplements I take, how much water I drink daily… Literally everything was perfect.

So what the heck?

Tension.

All of my symptoms now pointed to tension, which was a possibility even before he ran the blood work, but he wanted to make sure no chemicals were interfering.

Now what?

I’m the picture of healthy at 30.

I spent some time trying to figure out what else I could do to make it better… How do I make MORE time? I was already burning the candle from both ends in my attempt to fit everything in.

Jesus time.

I deduced I have been woefully negligent in carving out space for my Jesus time. As in, the I will sit here, and we will spend quality time together, talking, listening, learning.. being together. Like you would a best friend. Yet somehow I had forgotten to do this… for months on end… much longer if I’m being entirely honest.

So, slowly, I am beginning to force myself, regardless of the time of day or night to spend some quality time with my Savior, with my Abba. I need Him more than I need the bombardment of distractions I encounter every day.

And, little by little, the throat feels better, the percentage on my sleep app is inching upwards, and I realized that the action has changed. I am beginning to no longer drown in the overwhelming and instead, I am inching towards living in the overflow.