“So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.” Job 42:12
Sometimes you wake up and you can’t get out of bed. So you ask God for help, and He gets your feet on the floor. Sometimes you get your feet on the floor, but they’re so heavy, you can’t take a step, so you ask God. He lightens your step and solidifies your ground, and you step. Sometimes, you start taking steps into the day, but you feel like you’re dragging through cement. So you ask God to carry you as you go…and He does. Sometimes, you make it through the day, but you lie down at night and can’t sleep. So you ask God to lift your fears, and He does, replacing them with rest. Look, life is tough. With God, life is still tough–but not impossible. I’ve heard people say, “one day at a time.” But with mental affliction, one day can be too much. I’ve learned to say: with God, one step at a time. 👣
Today I read a devotional that led me to a bible verse that led me to this post. In the devo, the author noted how the bible teaches that Jesus is seated in Heaven: Luke 22:69, Ephesians 1:20, Ephesians 2:6, Colossians 3:1. This was a bible Ah-Ha moment for me. When I pray, wherever I pray, for whatever I am praying for, Jesus is seated. In other words, Jesus isn’t walking away while I’m praying. Jesus isn’t looking down at his phone. Jesus isn’t listening with one ear, while talking to someone else. Jesus isn’t daydreaming, brainstorming or aimlessly wandering. When I pray to him, every time matters most. He is seated, at full attention–for my prayers, and yours. A seated Savior. I’ve never thought about it before, but now that I have, it changes my perspective on prayer. My Lord is seated, at attention, focused. Readily anticipating to hear from me, and you. I hope you know him. And I hope you’re talking to him.
I carry around this small $1 notepad with bible verses that carried me through a tough time several years ago. Today, I wanted to crack it open and share some of what is inside. Maybe what I penned on these pages to carry me then, will help carry someone else, now.
>”I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” Philippians 4:11
>”God is the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3
>”And trust yourselves to the God who made you, for He will NEVER fail you.” 1 Peter 4:19b
>”He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the almighty.” Psalm 91:1
>”Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble and he saved them from their distress.” Psalm 107:13-14
>”The Lord says, ‘let the redeemed of the Lord say so!'” Psalm 107:2
>”But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you.” Matthew 10:26
>”I prayed to the Lord and he answered me, freeing me from ALL my fears.” Psalm 34:4
>”I refuse to be sad because the joy of the Lord IS MY STRENGTH.” Nehemiah 8:10
>”I CHOOSE to stay in your presence and I am full of your joy.” Psalm 16:11
>”I have PERFECT PEACE because my mind trusts God, His word and His promises.” Isaiah 26:3
>”I give Jesus all my griefs and sorrows; I refuse to carry them anymore.” Isaiah 53:4
>”The Lord will perfect that which concerns me,” Psalm 138:8
Mark 1:7-8 • Acts 20:24
I had just moved to Florida, when my future husband invited me to go on his family’s boat. As a Chicagoan, I had never been on an ocean nor in a boat. As we cruised the Florida coast, I was impressed by the boat-savviness of his nephews, Thomas and Mark (who were only six and four, respectively). With nautical confidence, they navigated, steered, anchored, swam and snorkeled on their own! By contrast, I sat glued to my seat, as if made of fiber-glass, myself. Our destination was a retired lighthouse in the middle of ocean-nowhere. As if boating and snorkeling weren’t enough for this virgin-of-the-sea, now there was no land in sight and nowhere for my feet to touch ground. As I worked to stand up, his nephews had already jumped overboard for a barracuda-hunt! Mark and Thomas, albeit young, were captains of this sea, and captains over me! They instructed, “Just stay near the boat and hold onto the line, then you won’t have to get scared.” See, there was a line fastened to the boat that extended into the water. As Mark and Thomas snorkeled under sea, they always made sure the line was within their grasp. When they needed a break, they emerged and held onto the line. That day, I learned something about captains: they aren’t made by age, as much as they’re made by experience. *Segue, please* Just because Jesus was only “here” for 32 years, doesn’t mean we can’t trust Him to be our Captain. He was (and is) God, who CHOSE to come to us, for a period of time to experience humanity to its fullest, then sinlessly sacrifice himself for our sinfulness. When Jesus experienced ridicule, He sinlessly turned the other cheek. When He experienced temptation, He sinlessly resisted. When He was upset, He sinlessly managed his emotions. When He was crucified, He sinlessly forgave. He has earned the position of Captain. In Matthew 14, Jesus walked on water. While his friends feared for their lives on a boat, Jesus captained to Peter, “Come!” Peter did, and was rescued from his own drowning because he trusted the captain. Jesus is my Captain too. I trust Him, implicitly: in my life, with my weaknesses, through my storms. I hope you know the Captain, too.
“I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” -Genesis 3:10 Why was Adam afraid and hiding? Consider these: Teacher, I heard you were tough, but I was afraid, so I cheated. Boss, I heard you wanted to meet, but I was afraid, so I called in sick. Pastor, I heard what the sermon was about, but I was afraid, so I didn’t attend; Spouse, I heard you come home, but I was afraid, so I turned off the computer. In Genesis 3:10, the root meaning of “voice” is “to call aloud.” So Adam definitely heard God calling him–he can’t play the “I had my phone on silent.” Is there something God’s calling me on but I’m hiding from Him? It’s a good sign He is if there’s a “voice” in my gut I can’t get rid of; I can’t sleep at night; or I get multiple affirmations from legit sources. This voice doesn’t mean we have to hide; it means we can come OUT of hiding and be freed to make it right. We aren’t in trouble with God when we confess our stuff to Him. Consequences? Yes. Condemnation? No. The trouble is when we don’t go to Him at all. There’s a higher price to pay when we run, hidden than stand, exposed (just ask Adam, Eve and Jonah). God can make ALL wrongs right. Out of amazing love, He seeks us when we do wrong. It’s our gateway to freedom when we let Him.
“and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it. (1 Kings 19:13) It’s highly unlikely we’ll hear God the way Elijah did. After all, that is why God gave us his Spirit, to have a “voice” that could speak inside our hearts. God is so good– I mean, can you get any closer than a person’s heart? But do you sometimes feel like God’s not speaking loud enough? I’ve joked that when it comes to a big decision, I wish God would send a text: “Hi Heather, no need to reply. Yes, do it (or No, don’t).” But perhaps the picture is bigger than Elijah hearing God’s voice, or the disciples seeing the Lord’s mouth move, or us feeling God’s voice in our hearts. What if it’s not the action God’s taking to talk; rather, it’s the action we aren’t taking to listen. We don’t have to necessarily make noise with our voices to miss hearing God. The “noise” can come in all shapes and sizes: our noise of selfishness refuses it; our noise of busyness overlooks it; our noise of doubtfulness doesn’t trust it. If you, like me, have a decision to make and you’re struggling to hear God, why don’t we unite, in going to God in prayer? Let’s pray together: Father, I really want to make the right decision, but I’m struggling to hear your voice. With [specifically name here, what you need to hear], please let me hear your Voice, please let me know your way. Turn my “good-ears” into “God-ears.” I never want to miss your voice because I know you have what’s best for me with it. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say, and see what you are going to do. Amen.