Sure Footing

He noticed wrongdoing at work. He took it as long as he could. So he talked to his bosses. They listened. Offered to help. Told him to be cautious. The harassment continued. So a formal complaint was filed and a hearing was scheduled.

His family prayed. His friends prayed. His church prayed. They hoped and prayed that the wrongs would be righted. That the bullies would be put in their place.

That didn’t happen.

His boss sided with the bad guys. He was told to forget it and move on. No wrongdoing was found. It was just personality differences. That’s what they said.

Now what? How was he supposed to continue working with people he couldn’t trust? How would he get a fair review from sketchy reviewers? What was his next step? What should he do?

How does someone handle life when God hasn’t come through for him? At least in the way he hoped and needed. What does a person do when life gets tougher when it was already tough enough?

Our situational difficulty may be our spiritual necessity. Kandy Persall

Someone else seemed to have the world at his fingertips. His career was looking up. He was going to make a name for himself. Things were going his way. Until they weren’t.  Until his world came crashing down. He lost the business. He lost his family. Then he lost hope. He had nowhere to turn.

It seemed that the foundation his faith was built on was shifting sand. Not the solid rock he thought it was. Was his faith in himself or in God? The test was becoming far too real for comfort. Failure had never been an option, but now it seemed all other options were gone. Where was hope when he needed it most?

What do you do when life throws you a curve ball that you just can’t dodge. How do you trust God when he seems to have let you down?

She had a rough day at work. She was out with friends eating dinner. The first thing she did was order a drink. To take the edge off.  She needed to calm down. Calm her nerves. That’s what she said.

Why was her first thought to numb the stress? Why not walk through the stress with God by your side?  Why not open the word of God? Find a biblical promise to guide you and hold you through the stresses of life? She says she trusts God, but why is alcohol the first comfort she reaches for?


But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. Psalms 73:2


At times, all we have during our hurts, trials and disappointments is Jesus. He’s the calm in the storm. He’s the light shining in the darkest night. He’s the fighter in the fight for survival. He’s the refuge when the going gets tough.

Isn’t Jesus enough? Has he proven himself to you? Do you let him prove himself or do you run straight to that bottle? Or that lottery ticket?  Or that website? Or that credit card?

When will Jesus be enough if you’ve never let him show you that he is enough?

Pain hurts. Fear scares. Pride puffs. Disappointment disappoints. Through it all. God still stands. He is always victorious in his battles.  

Even when our feet slip and our footing is unsure in this life, God is the anchor. He is the rock. He is the current in the stream of life. He stays with us and keeps us from falling if we reach for him. If he is the source of strength we turn to in our most difficult, darkest moments, we will see him shine as bright as the day. His promises are true. He can be trusted. His love is sure even when times aren’t.

I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. C.S. Lewis

Holy Surrender

Dear God. Your ways are higher than mine. Your plans are perfect. You don’t make mistakes. You follow through. You don’t do things half way. You plan big and you work big. Even the tiniest of things are noticed by you. After all, you know the number of hairs on my head. You know the number of days that I’ll live. 

But there are things about you that I don’t understand. If I’m being honest. And that’s what you ask of me. Honesty. 

You aren’t lazy, God. By no means would I call you lazy. After all, you created the heavens and the earth. You created animals and sea life. You planted the trees. Fruits. Vegetables. Flowers. You hung the stars, the moon and the sun. You parted large bodies of waters. You created day and night. And the four seasons. All in seven days.

You created man and woman. You gave us a mind to think and reason. You gave us a heart to love and be loved. You gave us emotions to feel and embrace. You gave us five senses to experience the most of life. Taste. Touch. Hearing. Seeing. Smelling. It’s a blessing to be able to experience the natural pleasures of life. Things we take for granted.

You’re everywhere. At all times. You see everything. You hear everything. You know everything. You know everybody. You are busy. But you’re not a busybody.

So there. All of that. You are not lazy. You are undeniably creative. Your imagination goes beyond my wildest imagination. 


We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12:2


But here’s the thing. Your timing. Sometimes you’re slow to act. When I need something, I think I need it now. And you see my need. Your vision has never blurred. Your hearing has never dulled, so I know you hear me. What I don’t understand is why you don’t answer right when I ask. Oh. I get it. You have patience. You see the big picture, when all I see is right now. You have my days planned. You have my life planned. Don’t I get a say in anything? Is it your way or the highway? 

Oh. That’s how you roll. I knew that. But that’s hard. It’s hard to surrender what I want for your perfect will. But if your will is perfect, then why would I doubt you? Why would surrender even be questioned? Why does my will seem so important compared to perfection? Who do I think I am? 

I’m humbled that you love me. That you even know my name. That you call me out of my wandering. My stumbling ways. You call imperfect me to live in your perfect plan.

So I surrender. I give up myself. My wants. My plans. I choose to follow your perfect unknown path. I choose to trust you fully. From this day forward. Death will not part us. It will bring us face to face.

Your holy presence. It’s what I long for. To see your face. To bow in fear and awe at your holy majesty. 

Betrayed by Gossip

I don’t know how much longer I can do this job. 

Those are the words I heard someone say. I thought they were having a conversation with someone else.  So I was surprised to find him sitting alone when I walked by his office. So I did what no good Christian should ever do. 

I told someone else. 

She was concerned with his words, and I realized I should have kept quiet.  I asked her not to say anything to him. Of course not. She said. But less than an hour later, she had already shared the information with at least three others. 

I could have kicked myself. I knew better than to say those words to her. I knew I shouldn’t have said them to anyone. I felt ashamed and convicted. I felt as if I had betrayed this man who trusted me. Yet he didn’t know that anyone had even heard him. But I knew.

I’ll never know why I did it. I just know that I did it. 

I should have known she would tell others. She always does. She’s gossip central at the office. Now I’m just like her. 

He doesn’t know what I did. I can’t tell him. I want him to trust me. But can he? If I swear on a stack of Bibles and don’t step on a crack and break my mother’s back, would he trust me then?


Troublemakers start fights. Gossips break up friendships. Proverbs 16:28


That’s the problem with gossip. It can offend those closest to you if you don’t learn to keep quiet. Words once said can’t be taken back. So just don’t say them. Just because something is true doesn’t mean it should be said to someone else.

I read that the Trinity (God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) talk about me behind my back. Imagine it! The words they are saying about me are truth. Oh. It may not be pretty what they’re discussing. I know what I’ve done. I know what I’ve said. And so do they. I would love to hear what they say about me. They are speaking hope and life for me. They love me even when I don’t deserve it.

The thing about their conversations is that they aren’t gossiping. They want the best for me. Did I say the words about my coworker because I wanted the best for him? What were my intentions? I have to ask myself. What was my purpose in sharing the words I had heard him say in a moment of frustration?

I’m reminded of the song “Words” by Hawk Nelson. Even though my words are truth, they need to be life to someone else. Not make them feel like a prisoner. Not be spoken in a whisper so the “wrong” person doesn’t hear. I need to make sure my words are the type that can be heard by anyone who is listening. Because I know that God is always listening. I need to make sure my words are pleasing to him.

Words

They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king

They’ve lifted my heart
To places I’d never been
And they’ve dragged me down
Back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

You can heal the heartache
Speak over the fear
God, Your voice is the only thing
We need to hear

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

I wanna speak Your love
Not just another noise
Oh, I wanna be Your light
I wanna be Your voice

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts
Or put it out

I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

The Gift of Obedience

It’s a comfortable life she has. Money to buy the things she wants. She travels a little. Has a great family. Oh. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good. She loves God. She wants to obey him. She has taught her kids to trust God. To depend on him. To call on him in times of need. To thank him for his goodness.

God has gifted her with talents. A love for others. A listening ear. A gentle heart. He has showered her with friends. He has provided for her needs. He has rescued her from difficulties. He loves her.

God has asked certain things of her. She knows it. But she struggles to obey.

I wonder why it’s so hard for her to obey. To do the simple things he’s asking of her. I’m so quick to judge. I think of what he’s asking of me. It’s also simple things.  Trust. Obey. He’s not asking me to move a mountain. Or to move to Timbuktu. He’s asking me to stay put when I look to move. Why can’t I just trust him when he says I’m equipped where I am? Why is it so hard for me? Why do I seek what isn’t best for me?

I know he loves me regardless of what I do or don’t do. He wants more of me than I think I can give.  All or nothing.  Hot or cold. Don’t be lukewarm. 
It sounds so easy. 

When did we start believing that God wants to send us to safe places to do easy things? That faithfulness is holding the fort? That playing it safe is safe? That there is any greater privilege than sacrifice? That radical is anything but normal? -Mark Batterson

He’s right. You know. God doesn’t ask us to play it safe in our relationship with him. He asks us to go deeper into knowing him. To move out of our comfort zone and really live through him. He wants us to go all in.

When we are powerless to do a thing, it is a great joy that we can come and step inside the ability of Jesus. -Corrie ten Boom

Why do I try to twist his request to suit my plans? Why do I stall for time hoping he’ll change his mind? Has God ever said that my ways are better than his?


But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice. Luke 11:28


What if Zacchaeus hadn’t climbed down from the tree when Jesus called him by name? Look at what he would have missed. This hated tax collector chose to come clean on the way he acquired his wealth and return money that wasn’t his. He chose to follow the unknown path of obeying Jesus.

What if the rich young man who was asked by Jesus to give up his wealth and comfortable life had actually obeyed? What other riches and blessings would he have received? He was already obeying the laws, but there was one thing he wasn’t doing. He willingly chose to keep his comfortable life instead of surrendering to Jesus. He’ll never know what he lost.

Comfort and complacency are never safe. It’s stagnant. It isn’t growth. I’m preaching to myself here.

Saying yes to God requires a sacrifice on my part. I will have to give up my comfort and convenience. But look what I gain. Perseverance. Growth. Peace. And so much more. I wonder what I’m giving up by choosing the path of comfort and convenience. Is it worth it? If I allow God to stretch me and use me as he wants, what can go wrong with that? Oh. I may be ridiculed. I may be mocked. I may be an outcast. I may be persecuted. But in the end I won’t lose.

Obedience. That’s the name of the game. Trust. That’s the art of letting go. Sounds so simple. So easy. But not knowing what’s ahead. What’s behind the door that’s ready to be opened. It can be daunting. It could be the best time of my life. And I’m willing to miss it just for the sake of playing it safe? Really? But I won’t know what’s on the other side of that door of obedience unless I walk through it.

Attitude Adjustment

I saw the text early that morning. Someone is out sick today. I need you to fill in for her.  Immediately I was annoyed. My work day was all planned. I didn’t want to disrupt my plans. I had lots to do and little time. Now I would have less time. I had a bad attitude before I ever left the house. I prayed on the drive to work that God would change my attitude. If I needed help, I would hope someone would step up for me. Why am I not willing to do the same?

Later after the work was distributed, I realized I wouldn’t have to fill in for my sick coworker. Then I was flooded with relief. And guilt. I had just gotten a reprieve and I had trouble accepting it. Now I wanted to help. But I couldn’t. What was wrong with me? I now had the day ahead of me. My schedule was intact. Why wasn’t I happy with that? It’s what I wanted.

I have to remind myself that I am working for God. And no one else. I need to focus on pleasing him. No one else.

I received news that I didn’t want to hear. More attitude adjustment needed. Where he sends, I go. When he says stay, I stay. When he says trust, I surrender.

I overheard the conversation. He was asked to do something. He answered honestly. I don’t want to, but I will. Perhaps I should take his cue.

I hear two or three of them laughing and talking. Sounds like a good time.  A sorority I wasn’t invited to join. Disappointed. Annoyed. Jealous. But why? Why do I care if I’m not included? They could be up to no good. They could be plotting revenge. Or they could actually be working. Why do I concern myself with issues that aren’t mine?


Do everything without complaining and arguing. Philippians 2:14


I read about the Israelites. God had just delivered them from slavery in Egypt. He parted the waters of the Red Sea and walked them across dry land to the other side. He killed those pursuing them. Three days into their journey they start complaining. How soon they forgot the miracles God had just performed to save their lives. To give them freedom. To take them to their promised home.

They continued to grumble and complain. They said they would prefer to go back to Egypt and be slaves again. Later, they said they would prefer to die in the desert than be killed by their unknown enemies. So that’s what happened. God gave them what they wanted. He allowed them to die in the desert. Never seeing his promise fulfilled. Why? Because they were a stubborn, grumbling nation. They took their eyes off of God and thought more of themselves. They failed to focus on his promises. They sought their own remedy. So God left them to themselves.

I must remember to keep my eyes on God. I must remember to listen to Him. Read his word. Trust him. Obey him. His promises are true. He doesn’t lie.

I really do want to please God. I want to be more like him. Every day. Why is it so hard? Why do I feel I’m always falling short? My attitude stinks. My actions speak louder than my words. I complain. I compare. I judge. I want to do right. I want to be a good example to those around me. I want to be a better person. But I can’t do it on my own. I’m such a failure on my own. I need God’s help. Please God, be merciful to me a sinner.

The Act of Obedience

Obedience is a long slow path to eternity.  It’s not always easy when I’m asked to do something out of my comfort zone. Or if I’m asked to stop doing something I enjoy. But oh. It should be an easy act. This obedience. When I think of who I’m obeying. And why I’m obeying. 

Oh. I obeyed my parents as a child. I’m a rule follower. I like having boundaries. Call me odd. But that’s when I’m at my best.  I’m at my best until I want my way. I want the discomfort to end. I want the rewards to kick in. I want out of the situation. And God has other plans. Or his timing is slower than mine. 

I always have a choice. Walk my path. Which seems quicker and easier. Or wait for God to move. After all, a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day. All in God’s timing. But what if my timeline is shorter than a thousand years? Do I continue to wait? Or do I forge ahead on my own?

There’s an old hymn that I love. Trust and obey. For there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.

So I’m waiting. And I’m uncomfortable. And I don’t like it. But I’m at peace. I’m at peace with myself and with God.

Oh. I weigh my options. I may be faced with surprising choices at some point. But for today, I’m where God has placed me. So I sit and wait. Oh. I’m not doing nothing. I’m praying like I’ve never prayed before. I’m reading God’s word. I’m searching for answers. 

He’s telling me to trust and obey. For there’s no other way.


Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. Jeremiah 17:7


When I think of the consequences of disobedience, it’s an easy decision. As long as my head and heart stay in God’s word. Listening for his voice. Because if I don’t stay close to the lover of my soul, the hater of my soul will sneak in to catch me unaware.

Obedience is a daily act. A surrender of my will. A relinquishing of my wants to the divine will of God. It’s a bowing in submission and letting go of all I want. Of who I am. It’s a full surrender of all of me. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Oh. It’s big. It takes all I have at times. But when I consider the cost of disobedience, it’s an easy surrender. 

I have to ask myself. Do I trust God? Do I have confidence in him? Do I believe he will keep his promises? After all, he never lies. He does what is best for me. His timing is perfect. He is with me every step of the way. So I have to trust him, even if I can’t see the path ahead. I have to believe that he will see me through to the end. I do have confidence in Him. Why would I consider doubting Him?

Trust and obey. For there’s no other way.

 

Fair Weather Fan

I am a fan of a certain football team.  I love it when they’re winning.  I cheer for them when they beat their opponents.  I sit and watch the game when they are playing well.  I’m proud to call them my team when they have a winning season.

But there are times when I look the other way.  When the team just can’t seem to do anything right in a game.  When the score is lopsided and not in their favor.  When they’re not playing well.  Well.  I tend to walk out of the room.  I find something.  Anything else to do but watch my team humiliate themselves.  It’s too painful.

I’ve never attended a game in person.  I can say it’s because I don’t like big crowds.  Or that tickets would be impossible to get.  Or that I don’t want to sit outside in uncertain weather.  But really.  What would I do if I went to a game and my team didn’t really show up to play?  I couldn’t sit through it.  I would need a way out.  I would need to escape.  My heart wouldn’t be in the game.

My team is often in the news.  When they’ve won an impossible game.  When they have a winning record.  When their star player makes an incredible play.  When there’s talk of the national championship.  But there are times when they’ve been in the news for all the wrong reasons.  It’s disheartening to hear talk of a great team or coach or player who has played poorly or acted foolishly.  Rumors fly.  Speculation is rampant.  The full story is never told publicly.

I admit it.  I am a fair weather fan.  If things aren’t going well with my team, I look away.  Oh.  I walk away from the game.  Oh.  I love that team.  But my support is only skin deep.  Does that mean I’m not a fan?  Or.  Does it mean I speak with my lips and not from the heart?  I haven’t sold out completely to the team I call my own.  Is that a double standard?


Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.  Matthew 12:30


I am a Christian.  I have asked God to forgive my sins.  I have vowed to follow Christ for all my days.  I love it when he blesses me.  I am thankful when he answers my prayers.  I am humbled when he shows his love to me in ways I never imagined.

There are times when God doesn’t answer the prayers I want him to answer.  Or he doesn’t answer in the way I wish he would.  There are times he allows me to walk a rocky road.  There are days when it seems he’s not fighting for me.  But the thing is.  I have to know and accept the truth about God.  I know he is always fighting for me.  He is working hard for me.  Always.

God is always with me.  He fights my every battle.  He walks every step with me.  When the going gets tough in my life, he’s right there with me.  He doesn’t give up on me when I give up on the situation.  He equips me to do the work he has set out for me.

God loves me.  Always.  It doesn’t matter if I return his love.  His love never changes.  Even when I act unlovely.  Even when I fail.  Even when I turn my eyes to smaller gods.  He still loves me.  When I come running back to him, he’s waiting with outstretched arms.

So how can I be disappointed in my God.  How can I walk away when I know he never gives up on me.  I can count on God.  I can trust him.  And I do.  This is one team I choose to stay with no matter what happens.  God is my God and I am his.  We are in this fight together.

Feedback

She asked to meet with me.  She wanted to hear my thoughts on how the job was going.  We chatted.  She offered feedback.  When is feedback ever positive?  Oh.  Her feedback was supplied by someone else.  She named the informant.  I was surprised with the feedback.  But not offended.  After all, I’m new.  I’m still learning.  I’m in training.

Another new person also had a meeting.  She also received feedback.  Feedback that offended her greatly.  She couldn’t let it go.  So she talked to another.  Little did she know that her information would be passed on further.

It seems that these coworkers share more than they should.  They discuss salaries.  Raises.   Performance reviews.  Beefs with coworkers.  Oh.  They’re nice.  But do I trust them?

So I’ve learned.  I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut.  Oh.  I already knew to do that. But now I’m careful what I say and who I say it to.

One, in particular, likes to gossip.  She learned of my meeting.  She knew I had received feedback.  She was desperate to know what had been said.  So she pretended to be friendly.  Asked about my weekend.  She was fishing.  Fishing for information about my feedback.  I didn’t take the bait.  I knew that if I shared it, everyone would know by the end of the day.  That’s not what I want.


Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.  Ephesians 4:29


I once worked with another group of women.  They had a meeting to discuss what they didn’t like about each other.  Oh.  Imagine how the tensions flew.  Needless to say, that group fell apart.  Quickly.  By the time I joined the team, all trust was gone.

Why would they do that?  How can people be so cruel?  Why didn’t they instead share what they liked about each other?  Why not build up instead of tear down one another?

I wonder.  What would happen if we would focus on the positive and beautiful instead of finding the juicy gossip or negative tidbits about others?  Why do we instead go for the information that will get us the most laughs or gasps of horror?  When the story is about another?  Why do we do that?

Oh.  You’re guilty.  I’m guilty.  We all have done it.  Most likely.  We all will do it again.  But what if we stopped first and asked ourselves a question.  If this information I’m about to share was about me, would I share it?  Is there a positive story about the other person I can share so others will see them in a better light?  Or.  Why say anything at all?

If someone is talking about others to you, then they’re most likely talking about you to others. 

I learned that lesson years ago in another work situation.  Someone I worked with would tell me unflattering stories about others in the company.  Then it dawned on me one day.  She must also be talking about me to those people.  Because I could see the way they looked at me.

If you can’t say anything nice or positive, don’t say anything at all.  If Jesus Christ was standing beside you, what words would you say?

 

We Really Do Need Each Other

We get home from the dog park and pile out of the car.  As soon as her feet touch the cool concrete of the garage, she lies down for a breather.  Panting hard and enjoying the cool floor, she lies still for what seems like forever.  Not wanting to move.   She’s worn out from the hour spent with other breeds of her own kind.

A liver spotted Dalmatian.  3 Huskies, 2 of them pups.  A friendly Pit Bull.  A Golden Retriever.  Some half breeds.  Some pure bred.  Others are a bundle of mix and all mutt.  But all dogs.  Playful.  Fun loving.  Energetic.  Dogs that love to run and chase balls.  Rough house with each other.  Establishing dominance and order.  Finding a friend for the moment.  It’s a dog’s life, after all.

Once their owners get out of the way, the dogs will navigate amongst themselves and discover the leader of the pack.  The leader is always sure to stand out.  Some dogs hit it off immediately.  Others warm up to each other slowly.    Some dogs are aggressive.  Others so passive, they roll over and submit without a fight.  And then there are the loners.

These dogs need to be with their own kind so they’ll know how to be dogs.  They learn from each other.  Social behaviors.  Pack rules.  Being a lone wolf isn’t all it’s cut out to be.  Dogs need their pack and each dog plays a role.


As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.  Proverbs 27:17


I saw the text immediately.  Pray for me.  She said.  I don’t know who else to turn to.

I stopped everything and prayed for her right then and there.  My friend was in need and I could help by praying.  You see.  I’ve been in similar situations.  I’ve had moments when I needed to reach out to others.  Asking for them to pray for me when I couldn’t.  When I was hurting and confused.  When my world had fallen apart.

We need Christian friends who can hold us up in our time of need.  The Christian walk isn’t for the faint.  And it isn’t to be done alone. We need each other.

I have friends.  Christian friends.  They’re all different.  Some are my age.  Others are  younger.  Some are moms.  Some are grandmothers.  Some work.  Others don’t.  Some are single.  Others are married.  I call them friend.  Friends I count on to encourage me in my Christian walk.

I have a friend who will unexpectedly text me a thoughtful note or an encouraging Scripture right when I need it.  Others have sent texts saying they were praying for me.  Still others ask how I’m doing.  Some ask specifically how they can pray.  I need them.  I need each of these friends. Each one of them has a role in my Christian walk.  They hold me accountable.  They listen to me.  They give godly advice.  They quote Scripture to me.  They pray for me.  I need that.  I need them.  I can’t do this Christian walk alone.

We need fellowship and friendship with each other.  We need fellow Christians to walk alongside us during our heartaches and trials.  When we can’t walk alone.  We need friends who will be Jesus to us right then and there.  That’s how God made us.  That’s what he wants for us.  Oh. We can deny it.  At times, we choose to ignore it and try to be a lone wolf.  Have you heard a lone wolf’s cry?

Reuben Welch said that in the midst of all our likenesses and similarities, there can be fragmentation, division, insecurity and loneliness.  Mostly loneliness.   Oh.  He said that in the late 70’s.  He even wrote a book about it.  But it still holds true today.  Reuben Welch was right.  We really do need each other.