Be Still And Know That It’s Ok To Stop Running

Runnerresting2

…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. -Hebrews 12:1

Onward Christian soldier. Keep going. Don’t look back. Run with perseverance. Never quit. Never give up. Move forward. Fix your eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of your faith.

Have you ever experienced a time, maybe even a season, in your life where running was the last thing you felt like doing? Everyone around you kept telling you to keep going. Be strong. It will all be ok. And you believed it. A little. But deep down all you really wanted to do was quit. The ache in your heart was so great and the longing for someone just to tell you that it would be ok to sit this one out was consuming.

Maybe you lost your job and it has been months since you’ve seen a steady paycheck. Maybe you lost a loved one sooner than what you ever expected. Maybe your spouse has asked you for a divorce. Or the diagnosis was cancer. Maybe your child seems to be rebelling against everything you ever taught them in church. Perhaps your parents need more care than you have the time or money to spend. It could be that your life-long soul mate just hasn’t materialized yet and the loneliness takes over more often than you are willing to admit.

What if what you really need to do is stop running and just be still?

There’s no shame in that.  In fact I think it takes more courage for us to admit that we can’t handle it all. I think it takes more will to stop and to be still. Often we gain this inertia while running because that’s what we are supposed to do, persevere. But we don’t realize that somewhere along the way we started running away from and not toward the comforting arms of Christ.

It’s ok to be human. God created you that way. He created you to need Him. Sure, we are to run the race with passion in our hearts. We are to be so on fire that the trail is ablaze from our enthusiasm. But life is hard. Your savior knows this and He knows you. He knows what you can handle, with His help. And He’s there fighting for you as you take every step.

So, close your eyes. Breathe in the aroma of the peace and comfort provided only from the one who made you. Allow His arms to envelope your soul. Hand him the keys to the anxiety in your mind. Take just a moment to be still and know that He is God and with that truth everything else falls into place.

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Milking Summer For All It’s Worth

Summer

We were out of milk. Again. My children must think I have a cow living in our backyard because they guzzle the stuff faster than our imaginary cow can produce it. So I headed to the store. Again. But this time I welcomed the trip because it was homework time and my girls turn into creatures that I am sure never lived inside my womb for 9 months when it’s time to do homework. I can’t blame them. I hate doing it too. Hence the reason I was blissfully running out the door for a milk emergency. No one has to know that I take the long way to the store and back. A trip that is normally a straight shot and less than a mile from my house often turns into 5 miles of peace and quiet circling the neighborhood. Who am I kidding? I crank up the music and get lost in the lyrics every time. It’s never quiet! At least it’s my noise and not whatever is being fabricated from the people who live with me.  God love ’em.

So I head to the dairy section while humming the latest tune crammed in my head and oblivious to the assault about the take place on my emotions. I reached for the gallon of milk so perfectly placed on the shelf. Now, I don’t know about you, but I always make sure I am reaching for the most fresh gallon available. I’m not all about organic or hormone free. I just need something to put on my cereal, but I want it to be fresh. There I was scanning the sell-by dates stamped on the carton and I didn’t even see it coming. I didn’t even have time to duck.

September 3rd? September?? Y’all, that’s not ok. There is no reason why Summer should be pushed out by a gallon of milk! I panicked, unsure of what to do next. Should I put the Fall milk into my basket and accept the fact that Summer is dying and there is nothing I can do about it, or do I look for another container wearing an August date like a badge of honor? I weighed those options while pretending that the up-hevel I was experiencing in my mind wasn’t actually happening. I scanned the shelves desperate for any indication that Summer was going to last forever this year, but my efforts returned to me in vain. I picked up my Fall milk and placed it in my basket with a heavy heart for all that I was losing.

Summer

Long hot days. Lazy breezes. The rhythm of the cicadas. Catching lightning bugs. Popsicles. Bare feet. Dinner’s on the patio.

My list is endless. Which is not something I can say for poor sweet Summer. I will miss her.

I do try to find the good in every situation, but it isn’t always easy. This time I didn’t have to look far though. September 3rd is only 2 days away from the Crimson Tide’s kick-off for the 2015 season. So, if I must bid farewell to my favorite season at least I can do it with a ROLL TIDE!

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Waiting For Bread

I think I can.

This is the root of all my problems. I think I can.

I think I can make my own plans.

I think I can go my own way.

I think I can do it by myself.

So I do. And I don’t mean the daily tasks we all have like going to work, our children’s activities, homework. I am talking about that one thing that you don’t want others to know that you struggle with.

Insecurity.

Finances.

Worry.

Doubt.

Deceit.

Pride.

Anger.

Addiction.

We all have at least one struggle. One if we’re lucky! But, I always think I can deal with mine on my own. Of course I am always wrong. I wander off and things seem to be going just fine for awhile.  But when I do things my way I’ve separated myself from the Truth, so it’s so much easier to believe the lies whispered in my ear by the enemy:  I’m worthless and stained. I am ineffective for the Kingdom. I am not worth dying for. Someone else, anyone else would be better than me. Jesus can’t love me because I don’t love Him enough.

Can you guess what I struggle with? Insecurity and doubt.

I felt the angst within my soul the other day. It truly is a battle. If there is anything I don’t doubt is that there is a raging battle between good and evil and we are caught in the middle of it. Some days more deeply than others. So I called upon my Savior and I pretty much just spilled all my guts. I was so tired of dealing with the same struggle. Over and over. I was so tired of having to call upon Him. Over and over.

“Jesus, I just get so tired of needing you.  Why does this have to be so hard? Why can’t I just ask you one time to heal my insecurities and erase my doubt? I don’t want to have to depend on you for everything!”

I know. It sounds so shallow and telling it that way makes me a little ashamed, but it’s the truth. What made me even more frustrated was that He was silent. Looking back on it a few days later I have to believe He was just allowing me to spill my guts while He just held me and listened to me. He’s really good at that.

He’s also really great about not leaving me hanging. I just have to be patient for the answer. (Something else I struggle with)! So, today I was digging through an online devotional that I have come to love. Rhetorical Jesus is written by Pastor Jack Wellman and is a great way to start your day. So he had me digging in John 6 this morning, specifically verse 48-50.

“I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven which a man may eat and not die.”

What does this have  to do with dealing with our struggles? So, Jesus is the bread of life. Yep. Got it! We know. Now let’s move on.

But I had to slow down because if you remember manna was only provided on a daily basis. The Israelites were only able to get what they needed each day. If they tried to store more than they needed for each day, it would spoil. They had to rely on God every day to provide bread for them to survive.

So if John 6:48 is true, and I believe that it is, Jesus is the bread of life. Manna from heaven. And like those Israelites wandering in the desert we need to rely on Him each and every day to survive this life. The struggles. Insecurities and doubts. Abiding in Him is not something we can do just on Sunday and expect the rest of the week to thrive. Abiding in Him is a daily privilege that as believers, if we are obedient to spend time with Him each day, we won’t starve ourselves and suddenly find ourselves feeling doubtful and insecure. We can rest in the fact that Jesus has exactly what we need exactly when we need it. When we find ourselves wandering in the desert, it’s our faith that sustains us. It’s realizing that we can’t do it alone, make our own plans or go our own way.

Don’t get me wrong. Unlike manna, we can never have too much Jesus. But it’s so comforting to me tonight to realize that He is always exactly the portion I need.

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I Love Love.

I picked up my oldest daughter from a sleepover this morning. It’s a gorgeous Saturday here in Alabama and I was just itchin’ to drive. To top all that off, TobyMac released his latest CD yesterday and of course I snagged a copy. So when my daughter got in the car  I said, “Hey, you wanna take the long way home?” She threw her bag in the back seat and emphatically said, “Yes!” I love that about her. She’s my best driving buddy!

So we turned up the music and headed anywhere.

It’s really hard to describe how I can have a quiet time with the music as loud as I like it and driving aimlessly. But truly those are the times I hear God the loudest.

My life verse is 1 Corinthians 13:13.

I wear it around my neck as a reminder that God will remain forever. God is love after all. And He’s given us hope if we will just have faith. That little verse speaks volumes to me. I don’t expect you to understand it fully.

Well, Toby’s gone and done it again. He’s made me fall in love with a new song and wouldn’t you know it’s based on 1 Corinthians 13:13. And to top it off he’s collaborated with dcTalk to do it. (For those of you who are diehard Toby fans you understand the significance of this). The song just spells out exactly how I feel about my favorite little word. It’s exactly what real love feels like.

I can’t do much more than to just let you listen to it if you want. I highly recommend the whole album. I think it’s his best yet.

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Mission Field of Dreams

Missionfield

Have you ever felt like you knew exactly what you needed to do and you were even willing to do it?  Then when you think you are being obedient you discover that was not at all what you were called to do?

A few months ago I wrote about my trip to Haiti. If you’d like to catch up on how that luxury cruise changed the way I see the world check out the post here.

Months later I still think about the woman in the bathroom at the resort. Her only job was to turn the water on for me. It’s something I could very easily do myself and I felt awkward allowing her to do it. Her lack of a smile made me feel even more strange. I wondered if she had a family. A home. I wondered if she thought turning running water on for me was as ridiculous as it is, especially if she doesn’t have running water in her own home. Before I boarded the ship to head back to the States I began to pray about coming back with a mission project to Haiti. My church makes several trips each year and I just knew I needed to go.

A philanthropist at heart, I need to make the world better than how I found it. I am also a big dreamer. These two qualities can work really well together. Except that I am also pretty scattered. This big, bad and aching world collides often with my dreams and causes me to lose focus on where I am needed the most. Or rather, where God needs me the most. Oh, and I often tend to try and overstep His plan for my life thinking I’ve got a better one.

So the next chance I had to learn more about changing Haiti and changing the world I took it. One Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago I walked into an informational meeting about the mission trips to Haiti. I was ready to pack my bags! I was so willing to take the medical shots, raise the money for travel, take off work and leave my family for two weeks. I was excited to finally be doing something about the lady in the bathroom.

We opened the meeting with a prayer, but I didn’t pray with the rest of the group. I can’t really describe what came over me because all I could pray was a confused prayer.

“Lord, just tell me why I am here.”

Have you ever had that happen? It was like the road I was following suddenly stopped and there were no signs pointing me onward. Not even a small pathway leading into the murky woods. There was just no where to establish my footing. So I just stood there waiting for a reason to move.

But I didn’t get one.

Instead I got a half dozen reasons why I shouldn’t have been there. God gently reminded me of the mission he has already called me to do working in Preschool Ministries. He reminded me of the children and families I serve and that whatever he has called me to do is enough and assigned specifically to me. My mission doesn’t require travelling to foreign lands, but I may be equipping tomorrow’s missionaries to do just that.

Do you ever get restless like that and feel like what you are doing is not enough? Do you ever find yourself feeling unhappy with the role you play in building the kingdom? Do you ever wonder if you have a role at all?

When that happens I encourage you to reevaluate your calling. Take a step back and focus on your strengths and how you can make a difference right where you are. Realize that your mission field is your hometown. At the ballpark. Your local restaurant. Target. Because there is no sense in saving Haiti if the rest of the world is crumbling too. Sure, God needs those willing to travel and make a difference abroad. If that’s you, GO! But if he hasn’t called you there, like he hasn’t called me, it’s ok. You still have a job to do.

So do it.

 

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