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Entries in Trust in God (9)

Thursday
Sep052019

Trust the Blueprints

Kolleen Lucariello speaks into women's lives in engaging, practical ways. In this Relationship with God UPGRADE, she envisions God as a faithful Contractor, accomplishing His purposes in our lives.

"Sometimes full understanding remains a mystery until the contractor completes the work," Kolleen says. "When you can’t fully catch the vision—you watch, wait, and trust the one with the blueprints."

I (Dawn) have studied blueprints before. They can be so complicated! I've wished I could crawl inside a contractor's mind to figure out what he sees sometimes that I'm not seeing.

Kolleen continues . . .

Every summer our house undergoes a little upgrade. This year, a simple front step soon became a front-porch-walkway-landscaping project for my husband and I, filling our front yard with piles of dirt and sand, black tarps, pavers and lumber.

“I can’t wait to see it finished,” our daughter commented during one visit, “It’s going to look so nice.”

The next comment came from our five-year-old granddaughter: “I can’t wait to see it finished, cause then I will finally understand what you are doing.”  

What seemed obvious to us was not to her.

I can relate. Don’t tell her, but I’ve been confused by some of her art projects, too. Some projects only make sense to the one with the plan.

I agree with her. It’s not always easy to catch the vision until the project is complete. I share the same limitations and I find myself struggling to understand when seasons of difficulty hammer away.

I find myself trying to catch the vision for God’s plan every time life becomes paved with blinding unknowns and overwhelming struggles. This is when I admit  “I can’t wait to see this finished, Lord, because then perhaps, I will understand what You are doing.”

Well, I hope to understand, or it might be—"Please, Lord help me understand"

Years ago, we lost our brother-in-law in a car accident.

I became angry with God for what I perceived as unfair and unjust. I didn’t really care to have understanding about what God was doing; I thought He was just being cruel.

I recognize now how God used this tragedy to lead my husband and I to understand our need for salvation. What might have destroyed our faith, God used to cement it instead.

Several years later, we lost a very close friend in another car accident.

The loss was devastating for us, but we knew God as a Contractor was able to build something good out of the destruction.

When the pain was great I found myself repeating, “I can’t wait to see the good at the end of this, God, because right now, I don’t understand the why behind what just happened.”

I would remind myself of what I knew to be true about God:

  • You know the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10).
  • You are deeply concerned about us, and are able to turn this bad into something good (Romans 8:28).

Unlike the first time, I didn’t get mad at Him. I didn’t turn bitter.

I refused the invitation to believe God was cruel.

I just imagined my head on His chest while I wept—grateful that He understood my heartbreak, and that I now understood His comfort.

Life is unpredictable. Perhaps this is why the Psalmist reminds us to put our trust in, and reliance on the Lord, rather than relying on our own insight and understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

With my hazy insight and limited understanding, trusting in—while relying on—Jesus is the only option that offers me any peace when life becomes unsettled. After all, He promised that in Him we would have perfect peace; but He also forewarned us of tribulation, distress and suffering, too.

“Be courageous,” He said. “I have overcome the world” (John 16:13).  

Jesus is predictable when life is not. 

God is the Contractor who began a glorious work within you, and He’s the One who will faithfully continue the process of building you into His likeness—adding a few finishing touches here and there (Philippians 1:6).

When you lack understanding, trust the Lord as you do three things.

1. Rejoice that He sees you.  

“I will rejoice and be glad in Your steadfast love, because You have seen my affliction; You have taken note of my life’s distresses” (Psalms 31:7 AMP).

Your distress has been noted!

2. Focus your thoughts.

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT).

3. Find rest.

Jesus said,

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NLT).

Unload your troubles onto Him.

Sometimes you need to patiently wait, watch the process, and trust something good can come from the mess you’re staring at now.

Even when you don’t understand His vision.

Where in your life are you struggling to understand what God is doing? How can you trust God's "blueprint" for your life and find rest, peace and even joy in Him?

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am; and as a speaker, she speaks into women's lives "one letter at a time." Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She's a mother of three married children and Mimi to five incredible grandkids—with one more on the way! For more information about Kolleen, visit her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Classically Printed at Pixabay.

Thursday
Mar142019

What My Sick Dog Taught Me about Trust

Debbie W. Wilson is one of my heart sisters. We met on Facebook and we both desire to align our thoughts and behavior with the Word of God. But her Spiritual Life UPGRADE is especially dear to me, helping me to better receive God’s will at a difficult time in my own life.

“I felt like a traitor luring my standard poodle into my vet’s lab room,” Debbie said.

I (Dawn) so understand that. We’ve done that with our maltipoo, Roscoe. But it was for his good! I love how Debbie expresses this simple-but-profound truth.

Debbie continues . . .

I did it to save his life. But Max didn’t know that.

Did he think I was heartless to let the vet draw blood from his thin leg—again?

For months after we learned Max has Addison’s disease, the vet had to draw his blood to check his electrolyte and hormone levels.

One week, Max refused to go with the technician. So instead of handing her the leash, I followed her—and he followed me.

Max’s trust in me made me consider the conditions I’ve put on fully trusting God in painful situations. I’ve thought if only I knew the purpose of my pain then I’d be able to trust God better.

But was that true?

Imagine me explaining Max’s condition to him.

  • I could read him the symptoms off the Internet.
  • I could show him his lab reports.
  • I could remind him how he almost died.

But would that help Max have his blood drawn?

I understand the treatment of Max’s illness better than he does. I know the pain of the needle is brief and the benefits are lasting. How much more does God understand my trials?

Sometimes God allows me to see the benefit of my pain. But some 'whys' remain unanswered.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says,

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (NIV).

The difference between my thoughts and my dog’s is so much less than the distance between God’s thoughts and mine.

If Max can’t understand why I have his blood drawn, do I think I can understand why God takes me through pain and loss?

But God has not left me without assurance.

He has promised:

  • “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17 NIV).
  • “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18 NIV).
  • “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:3-5 NIV).

Life on this planet is a vapor. But how we live here affects our eternity.

Pain, loss, and confusion are opportunities to trust our Master.

The hurt is real, but if He allows it then we know it is to benefit us.

As God’s child I can’t shed a hair without God noticing.

When I see Max romp across the yard without a symptom of Addison’s, I thank God for blood tests and shots. I remember how sick he was without them.

He doesn’t understand the connection. He doesn’t need to. Max only needs to know that I take care of him.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31 NASB)

What pain or disappointment has God allowed to touch you? What would trusting Him look like for you?

Debbie W. Wilson aspires to connect people’s hearts to God and help them discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband Larry founded Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible teaching ministry. She enjoys exploring new places, reading a good mystery, and laughing with her two standard poodles. Share her journey to refreshing faith at debbieWwilson.com.

The photos with those two gorgeous poodles are from the author, Debbie.

Thursday
Jan112018

My Hope Is Built On . . . 

Everyone talks about "dreams" these days, but Susan K. Stewart says we need to be careful when we dream and consider where we're placing our hopes. In this Spiritual Life UPLIFT, she tackles the topic with a personal story.

“I plan to go to UCLA and major in screenwriting,” the high school freshman announced.

She then laid out her plan, including what classes she would be taking in high school and community activities that will help her preparation for her goal.

Ah, plans. Yes, I (Dawn) have placed my hopes in so many personal plans, and even in people who might help me accomplish my goals. And I've learned, the hard way, exactly what Susan is about to teach us.

Susan continues . . .

“Wow! That’s wonderful,” I responded. “It seems to me you just might make it.”

When this confident young lady left the room, her dad said, “I want her to major in something that will give her a real career.”

“What!?” was all I could stammer. “What’s wrong with her goal? With her determination, she has a good chance of success.”

The response was, “Look what happened to Aunt Shirley.”

Aunt Shirley is a divorced family member who was a successful writer before the divorce, and was now struggling to make ends meet with two part-time jobs.

Has that ever happened to you? It has to me.

Why do we do that?

Compare someone’s (or our own) dream with another person’s failure.

Sometimes we sabotage our own hopes. We listen to our own negative talk.

  • “It can’t happen."
  • "I’m too old."
  • "I’m too young."
  • "No one else has ever done this before.”

Other times we have our hope in the wrong thing: education, another person, fortune, ourselves.

All of these sources of hope will fail us.

An archaic definition of hope is “trust, reliance.” Most often we think of our hope as the anticipation of something. We also build our dreams on what we or others are going to do for the fruition of that expectation.

If hope is in fact trust rather than dream, maybe our hopes are dashed because we have placed our trust in the wrong place or person.

We are told by Paul that Christ Jesus is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1). Not our dream or expectation, although we surely look forward to the coming of Jesus. Christ Jesus is where we place our trust; who we rely on.

We are told by Peter to “prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).

We are to TAKE ACTION BASED ON OUR HOPE (trust) on the GRACE of Jesus Christ.

When our expectations are based on hope from Jesus, we can’t sabotage them.

This requires taking those dreams to God before making all the plans on our own to-do list.

For years, I’ve had a dream of a having a specific book published. For years, my hopes have been built up only to be knocked down. This year I asked God, "Why?"

He impressed on me that I was trusting in my own plan, not the dreams He has for me.

I laid my desire aside. Even though a number of people gave me reasons not to, it was the right thing to do. I’m now trusting God’s vision for me rather than mine.

I’ve placed my hope in God’s dream.

When our hope—remember, that means trust and reliance—is in the Lord, no one can take them it away from us or talk us out of it. We will be able respond to negative self-talk with “God told me to do this and I trust him.”

What is your hope is built on?

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

~ Edward Mote (1797-1874)

Susan K. Stewart—when she’s not tending chickens and donkeys—teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. Her passion is to inspire others with practical, real-world solutions. Susan's books include Science in the Kitchen; Preschool: At What Cost?; the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers; and her most recent book, Harried Homeschoolers Handbook. Learn more about Susan at Practical Inspirations

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Daniel Reche at Pixabay.

Thursday
Dec212017

How Ready Are You to Celebrate Christmas?

Yvonne Ortega writes a lot about broken people, and to be sure, there are many broken people who struggle during the holiday season; but God desires to do beautiful things in their lives. In this Christmas UPGRADE, she asks us to examine our hearts before Christmas arrives.

“On a scale of 1–10, with 1 the lowest and 10 the highest," Yvonne says, "how ready are you to celebrate Christmas?”

I (Dawn) am one of those "ready early" kinds of people at Christmas, because I want Christmas week to be as peaceful as possible. But having a ready heart is not the same as a ready home.

Yvonne continues . . .

I’ve had people tell me, “I’m all set for Christmas. I bought the gifts in August, decorated the house, trimmed an artificial tree, filled the Christmas stockings with small treats, and mailed the Christmas cards.”

Others have told me, “I’m ready as can be. I did everything over the Thanksgiving weekend. Now, I can sit back and enjoy the Christmas lights, programs, and parties.”

From an earthly perspective, the person appears to be ready. However, as Christians with a heavenly perspective, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Our readiness to celebrate his birth has nothing to do with Christmas decorations, a trimmed tree, gifts for family and friends, stockings filled with goodies, or Christmas cards.

These three steps will help you decide how ready you are to celebrate Christmas.

1. Have you forgiven family members, friends or co-workers who hurt you?

You don’t want anything standing between you and God.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (NIV).

Do you still feel unforgiven for past sins? Are you burdened with shame and guilt?

If you’ve confessed your sins, God forgave you. He didn’t make a mistake when he did that. You can do no less.

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

2. How often do you read your Bible, pray, and go to church—especially during the Christmas season?

If you do these things, how do you do them?

Do you do them on the run with an eye on your watch?

Do you do them grudgingly or cheerfully?

My late mentor often said, "You make time for what’s important to you."

In Matthew 22:37, Jesus said the greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (NIV). You show your love by how much time you spend with the Lord and get to know him.

Make time for the most important relationship in your life. It is one that will last for eternity.

3. How comfortable would you feel if your family, friends, and coworkers evaluated your trust in God?

Perhaps you’ve lost a job, a car, or a home. Maybe you received a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness or have a prodigal child in the family. You may have suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one. Any one of these situations can cause turmoil in your life.

It can also result in your questioning your faith and God’s character.

Rate your confidence in his promise in Philippians 4:19: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

As I wrap up, I ask you the same question I did at the beginning:

“On a scale of 1–10, with 1 the lowest and 10 the highest, how ready are you to celebrate Christmas?”

Yvonne Ortega is a licensed professional counselor, a bilingual professional speaker, and the author of Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward (paperback, Kindle), Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer (Kindle), and Moving from Broken to Beautiful through Forgiveness, all available at amazon.com/books. She not only survived but thrived after a domestic violence marriage, breast cancer and the loss of her only child. With honesty and humor, Yvonne uses personal examples and truths of the Bible to help women move from broken to beautiful. Find out more about Yvonne at her website.

Graphic of candle, courtesy of Pixabay.

Tuesday
May122015

Changing the Way We Do Change

Julie Sanders' life is in flux right now with many changes, but in this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she explains how she stays grounded.

"One thing is certain about every woman’s life; it will not stay the same," Julie says. "Instead of being tormented by transitions and shaken by shifting seasons, sojourners learn how to change the way we do change."

Having experienced many seasons of unexpected change, I (Dawn) agree with Julie. We need a biblical perspective on change.

Julie continues . . .

Regardless of our time of life, status, or circumstances, we are all positioned for change. You may be coming out of a season of upheaval, in the midst of massive change or getting ready for transition. Still, we are taken by surprise, as if we hoped to escape it.

We fear it. Dread it. Try to avoid it. Yet, it comes.

Change can shake our foundation relationally, emotionally, physically, professionally and spiritually. How can a woman survive the waves without being overturned?

Every woman faces change, because every woman is “a sojourner on the earth” (Psalm 119:19). As someone who lives temporarily in a place, we stay for a time on our earthly home. Our lives reflect that transience in regular transitions.

Revolutions often include our loved ones, bodies, homes, professions and identity. We are sojourners and sojourners face change.

We can approach seismic shifts with three actions when the ground shakes and we feel it deep in our hearts.

1. Hold to what doesn’t change.

The Psalmist leaves no doubt about what deserves our trust:  

"Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens" (Psalm 119:89). 

God’s Word is reliable and unchanging, so we can hold to its truth when evaluating decisions and shaping plans. In God’s inspired Word we find comfort for the raw emotions of upheaval and confidence for boldness to move forward into new territory.

When all else feels foreign and uncertain, God’s Word is familiar and secure.

2. Look to the answers God provides.

Change surprises us, making feelings overflow in hot waves. Our own emotions are hard to trust. Well-meaning voices offer advice, but no one takes the place of our all-wise God who remains the sames.

His word is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). It helps us sort through opinions and urges.

A job change, geographical relocation, new church or empty nest begs answers from our loving Father. Instead of downcast feelings, we can hope in the God our salvation (Psalm 43:5).

3. Run to God’s plan for you.

Grief, regret and questions often accompany transition, threatening to paralyze the sojourner with an overwhelmed heart. To press on, let lesser things fall away and reach forward to God’s good plan (Jeremiah 29:11). 

Determine not to turn to the left or right (Proverbs 4:27). Instead, when facing opposition or confusion, cry out, “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” (Psalm 119:32) 

A sojourner may feel uncertain, opposed or weary on the journey of change, but at those moments, sojourners can take the next right step with a heart that says,

“Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it” (Psalm 119:35).

Know what will not change, look to God’s answers for your feelings, and do what God has marked out for your journey.  

We are sojourners, and sojourners face change.

What change are you experiencing in this season of your life? Are you coming out of, in the midst of, or leading up to a change? How prepared are you to sojourn through it?

Julie Sanders is a sojourner who just moved from the sweet tea South to the desert Northwest. The change collides with gaining an empty nest and leaving a professional ministry she loved. Everything will be different! She is grateful for her unchanging God and His hope-filled plans in a new season. Julie's devotional, Expectant, encourages expectant moms with truth and practical wisdom. Discover more about Julie at her blog.