When we choose solitude it is a good thing (Jesus himself chose time for solitude). But sometimes life will give us seasons of UNCHOSEN loneliness. During these, perhaps no one is texting you, “liking” your posts, including you in everything, pouring encouragement into your tank, or all of the above. It’s a big world and you feel like the smallest one in it. Jesus experienced this too. He hung by nails on a cross, separated from the world; and the bible tells us what he did in his final, loneliest moments: he cried to God and he talked to God. If all we depend on is the encouragement of the world–what will we do when the world isn’t there? In my former seasons of unchosen loneliness, I had no access to community. I had to learn to look within (not around) for encouragement. Seeking encouragement from within, I discovered there was a bounty of encouragement there. A “still, small voice” reminding me that I’m God’s royalty! His heir! His favorite Heather Michelle Funk Palacios! My soul whispered to my loneliness that my Master-Artist was still actively showcasing me, His masterpiece, to this world! Maybe others were finished with me, but if HE wasn’t finished with me–I wasn’t finished with me! I learned to encourage myself by His declarations over my life and His promises in His book. Today, if you are “unchosenly lonely,” I hope you seek encouragement from within. They say it’s lonely at the top–your Savior would know from being abandoned atop a cross. So He gets you! And right now, he’s ready to encourage you, from within.
Tonight, will you lay in bed, restless, because you have so much to do tomorrow? If this were a rhetorical question: GUILTY as charged. Sometimes, it not only keeps me from falling asleep, it wakes me up in the middle of my sleep. This is not good. In the bible, Jesus had a very short window to get everything done. We have our whole lives–he had about 3 years. To perfectly and brutally redeem the world, heal people, raise up a team, wash feet, preach, perform miracles, care for mom, clean out churches, raise people from tombs, comfort women at wells, just to name a few. He had a full agenda. He–of all people–should have had the burdens of the next day keeping him restless at night. But one very profound verse tells us that in the midst of chaos (and literal storm) he rested. Mark 4:38, But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” This verse kicks my butt. But it also comforts me. If Jesus could get it all done in the very short window of time he had, So. Can. I.……So. Can. You. Here’s the way I see it: if God didn’t think we could get done *what HE needs us to get done* in each day…He woulda made longer days. Don’t stress. You’ll have enough time for this day.
I heard a mentor say, “If you want wisdom, read Proverbs for thirty-one days.” Proverbs is thirty-one chapters, so you literally get a chapter-o-wisdom every day for a month. It’s like hooking my soul-vein up to an IV-drip with a bag of wisdom-plasma, every day! I highly prescribe it! Today I read, “The fears of the wicked will be fulfilled; the hopes of the godly will be granted.” O M Geeeeeee!!!!! Coulda used this verse forty years ago when I first started trippin’ with unnecessary fear. Just in case you tried to skim, I’m typing it again: The FEARS of the wicked WILL be fulfilled; the HOPES of the godly WILL be granted. I am not wicked because I am God’s kid. Since I’m not wicked I don’t need, have, or want to fear. It’s not in my make-up. It’s not in my subconscious. It’s not in my past, present or destiny. I am godly and according to this TRUTH, my hopes will be granted. So will yours. And our hopes “might be,” “perhaps,” “based on,” “depends if,” …. no. Our hopes WILL be granted. This verse–alone–should shrink our fears to raisins; and embolden our hopes to mountainous lava-tops. Tell your fears where to go. And give God your hopes. Expect your hopes, not your fears, to be granted. If you wanna join me in this 31-day Proverb Wisdom Tour, let me know. We’ll do it together!
When I was little, I remember a season where our home was somber. My Dad’s best friend, Craig, had taken his life and my dad had to identify his body. Over the last decade, I’ve had two childhood friends, a cousin and several in our community take their lives. I hurt *hard* for these families, friends and their losses. But I don’t understand the level of their loss. I can’t speak on their behalf. As someone who attempted suicide, I can speak on behalf of that. I have lived to see the goodness of God and his personal hand in a comeback. He determined the day I would arrive and I trust his timing on the day I will leave. It’s too big of a burden to be responsible for the coming and going of one’s life. If I would make myself a permanent victim of Suicide – I’d make hundreds/thousands more left to senselessly deal with it. No matter how deep the valley, how dark the sky, how slimy the pit, there are people who need me and you. We can not be replaced by anyone else. I love this verse about the preciousness of life when Jesus promised, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Some of us may feel like our life has been stolen, but with Jesus, we can get it back. I hope this encourages someone today.
Who is your enemy? Maybe you don’t have one. Take a minute to give God thanks for that. But maybe you have one. Either you made someone your enemy or they made you theirs. These are tough seasons. Everything in you wants to fight the enemy OR get even with the enemy OR get others to align with you against the enemy OR compromise your integrity for the enemy. Several years ago, I had one. I had someone against me, who hurt me. And you bet my instinct was to do everything I just mentioned above. It was a tireless, daunting, full-time mental-job to work against my instinct and do as God would do…love them. Jesus said to love your enemies. If that isn’t a fleshly-contradiction, I don’t know what is! But it doesn’t matter if it’s a contradiction or in opposition to our instinct, God said do it. Because He’s mean? No. Because he modeled it at its worst, and love always wins. Jesus LOVED his enemies that betrayed, beat, whipped, abandoned, slapped, spit, nailed and murdered him. And HE WAS HUMAN with instincts, but He did not serve them. There’s an old saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” What if we give that an addendum? “Keep our friends close and our enemies close…because Jesus did and in the end, love wins.