“Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading in its hope; it can outlast anything. Love never fails.” I Corinthians 13:7-8
This is the definition of unconditional love, that His love never fails.
And I’m grateful because I haven’t been His easiest child to train up. I fight against Him when He’s trying to teach and heal me. I have refused to receive His love. I have begrudgingly obeyed when I didn’t want to do things He’s asked me to do.
Yep. Hard headed all the way.
That’s why the Old Testament gives me hope. The Israelites wandered for 40 years in the desert because they couldn’t shake the slave mentality off and believe their God.
I am 40. And I relate to the nomadic desert experience more than I care to admit. But I want to be different.
So here’s to shaking off the shackles of the past and walking into a new day of not only believing in God but believing that He is for me and not against me! Here’s to trusting His timing and not rushing and crashing around like a bull in a China shop! Here’s to believing that I am loved completely and accepted fully!
Point to ponder while you wander… “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NLT
I painted this about a year ago. It now hangs at the end of my bed. But it used to hang in the kitchen of my old house. The house I lost due to long stretches of unemployment.
After a two year suckfest, my life was rebooted last fall. I moved into a new place, got a new and better job, a newer car, and started going to a new church.
I’ve had my life uprooted and rebooted before, but this time is different. This time I cannot seem to find the rhythm of the new normal. It just doesn’t look like I expected…so I’ve been in a funk.
But it has dawned on me this week that I’m trying to be the old me in the new place, and I’m not the same person I was before the last two years of lean life.
Two years of alternating unemployment and part time work. Two years of leaning completely on God to provide. Two years of learning that God really doesn’t leave nor forsake you. Two years of my reality being one of my worst cast scenarios, and finding that God really is enough. I could go on, but basically it was two years of living Romans 5:3-5.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” Romans 5:3-4 NLT
Jill translation: When everything falls apart…and continues to fall apart…no matter what you do. And you keep asking what did I do wrong and how do I fix it? But you can’t fix it, and you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just life. And sometimes life is hard. You just gotta put one foot in front of the other. Every. Single. Day. Until you get to the other side. And in that suckfest you begin to find joy in the little things again. Things you forgot about. And you understand there really is strength in joy. What is important becomes clearer. Who is important becomes obvious. You realize God is with you in it and He’s loving you. He’s loving you the same as when your tithe was more in a month than you’re now making a month. And He teaches you that He is and always was your provision. And He proves to you that you can face fear because fear is merely a liar and a bully. You weren’t given a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind. So fear doesn’t actually belong to you like it said it did. So you stop calling it “my fear.” And you begin to realize you really are more than a conqueror, you just didn’t have to conquer anything like this before. And you now know that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
I am different now, and stronger, but the best part about this whole deal, or ordeal if you prefer, is that I have a real understanding of hope.
“And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!” Romans 5:5 TPT
Hope isn’t a weak or wimpy wish. Hope is not a frail whisper. Hope is a battle cry because your hope means that you trust in and rely on and wait for the Lord. For real. You don’t just say it because you think you should. And it’s awesome. And worth it.
God didn’t send me the two year suckfest. But He used it to draw me closer and He turned it around for my good. And the good is still being revealed a little bit every day.
Bonus point to ponder while you wander…God takes delight in those who hope in and wait on Him.
“No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11 NLT
So I say…
“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.” Psalm 64:5-6 NLT
I had the great privilege of hearing Brian Simmons and his wife Candace speak last year. Wonderful people who live to encourage people through the Word of God. They are translators for the Passion Translation.
Anyway they posted this on their Facebook page recently. It really encouraged me so I’m passing it on. I copied this directly and did not add or subtract any verbiage.
I Hear His Whisper…”Help is on the way!”
I give you new strength this day to arise and follow Me. So many times you have said, “But I am weak.” Though it is true, I call you to set your eyes on Me and watch Me work in your life. Help is on the way!
When I stand before you, strength and glory surrounds you. Fix your gaze on Me and I will build you up and strengthen you. Strength beyond your clever abilities comes as you settle your heart in My presence. Forget what others have said about you, for they don’t know what I know about you. I know that you love Me and continue to pursue Me even in your difficult situation. I have seen you get back up, and with tears seek My face anew. You feel weak, but you will soon feel a new strength coming into your being. The strength of My love will carry you.
I am coming in a new way, a fresh and living way, to make your strong for what lies ahead. Help is on the way! My plan for your life requires that you stand strong in the midst of difficulties. Days of moaning and mourning over your past are over. But now the days of My mighty power that makes you stand strong and pure for Me have come! As you arise and come with Me, a new strength will enter you that will cause others to say, “Look at what God has done in your life!”
My most beloved child, listen to Me. Help is on the way! Be strong and forsake your fear, for I am with you to make you stand. What has troubled you will trouble you no more. What has defeated you will be defeated by My strength in you. This is a new day of My power, for the days of heaven on earth are coming. Your eyes will see what many have longed for–the outbreak of power and transformation! Help is on the way! You will be changed by My power, for I am your loving Father.
Psalm 54:4,6-7 The Passion Translation
“The Lord God has become my divine Helper! He leans into my heart and lays his hands upon me!
Lord, I will offer myself freely,
and everything I am I give to you.
I will worship and praise your name, O Lord, for it is precious to me. Through you I’m saved—rescued from every trouble. I’ve seen with my eyes the defeat of my enemies. I’ve triumphed over them all!“
You are God’s poetry in motion!
“We have become His poetry, a recreated people that will fulfill the destiny He has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it!” Ephesians 2:10 TPT
I’m feeling random today. Prepare yourself.
I guess it’s because I spent a day and a half cleaning my room. This means that my body was occupied but my mind was left to wander all over the place. My wandering mind can find shenanigans too easily.
And yes, I actually spent a full day and a half cleaning my bedroom. A full day and a half! You see, when I get upset or have a lot of change I start piling things around my bed. I don’t even realize I’m doing it until one day I walk into my room and I can no longer see the floor. I call it “nesting.” I’m literally building a protective nest around my bed. It’s one of those unconscious things I do when I can’t deal with all the things.
And I’ll be honest…I’m struggling to deal with all the things.
Even though all the things are good.
- New place to live. Inexpensive. Great Roommates. I have the biggest room, mostly because I have the most stuff. Most of the stuff is books and art supplies, and a 5 foot stuffed alligator that a really dreamy friend won for me in England during a study abroad. Good times bringing that home on the airplane.
- New job. First full time job in over a year. Pays well. Benefits. Good coworkers, including a dreamy one who is the just the sweetest. Interesting work, most days. I learn every day, because it’s completely different than anything I’ve ever done. And I get to organize things in spreadsheets! (Don’t mock me I like organizing things, and I like spreadsheets.)
- New car. 2 years old but new to me with low miles. It’s the color of Yoda and gets like 35 miles to the gallon. I LOVE IT!
- New church. Well not exactly new, I’ve been there for conferences and to visit friends, but now it’s my church. The people are fabulous and the word is good. But for some reason I cannot settle in there. I don’t know why. It’s been a battle. God confirmed that it’s my church. I have peace about it. And yet I don’t want to go. So weird.
Do you see anything bad in this list? No. Me either. And yet I’m struggling to get into any sort of routine in this newness. And I’ve been lacking in the joy area lately. No joy=No strength. I’ve been trying to figure it out, and I realized two things:
1. I’m struggling because after the past few years of reoccurring unemployment, having my car repossessed, having my house auctioned, and my credit sliding into the 500’s, I simply do not know how to not struggle. I keep waiting for my job to go away or some other trauma or drama to occur.
God used these crappy years to show me His faithfulness and provision. He used this to show me that I don’t have to be afraid. In feast or famine He’s there. He never leaves. He didn’t cause my issues, but he used them to teach me and turn things around for my good.
Despite learning all of this and coming out of it with a new perspective, I cannot settle into my new life. I think that’s part of the other reason my room was a disaster, I wasn’t unpacking or getting comfortable here because I was waiting for it to turn ugly with my roommates, or to be kicked out or something.
I’m not a low expectations kind of gal. I’m a dreamer with a big imagination. If I don’t keep tabs on my thought life…I can be caught rehearsing my best original screenplay Oscar speech. Seriously.
I’m so frustrated with myself about the expectation of calamity and drama. I know that we receive what we expect and believe. If I expend all my energy being afraid and worrying, I’m actually agreeing with the Enemy’s plan for my life. His plan is to steal from me, to kill my dreams and bring sickness my way, and to destroy my joy and peace.
But Jesus came to give me life and an abundant life at that! (John 10:10)
So what is my deal? Why am I building a security nest? Why am I sad?
Am I not believing God? Do I doubt Him? Am I ungrateful?
No. No. And no. I believe God will do all He said He would do. He just does it in His perfect timing (Which is not my timing, clearly.) I’m so thankful for my job and home and car and everything else that I’ve been blessed with. God is good to me!
So again what is my deal? Or as David puts it, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again-my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11
This is where my second realization comes into play:
2. My new life isn’t what I expected.
Aw crap. There’s that expectation word again.
I had a similar breakdown when I turned 25. My life isn’t what I expected and I’m not where I expected to be at 40, and I’m sad about it. Some of that has to do with me feeling like I’m failing and like I’ve missed opportunities. I feel like I’ve wasted so much time dealing with my issues that I’ve not been doing anything beneficial for the kingdom. I feel like a failure. I feel worthless.
I know that these are lies. I know that I am valued by God. I know that I cannot fail unless I quit. I know that preparation time is not wasted time. But I’m still struggling with it.
Some of it has to do with God’s timing. I feel like expired milk. I feel like Mary and Martha telling Jesus that if He’d have gotten there sooner, Lazarus wouldn’t have died. Except that I’m saying, “Well Jesus, If you’d only given me what you promised in my 20’s then I wouldn’t have to be starting over again at 40.”
But I know Jesus is good. I know He doesn’t withhold good gifts. So why all the waiting?
“But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days. Finally, he said to his disciples,“Let’s go back to Judea.”John 11:4-6 NLT
The first point of this passage is that Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus. And I know that Jesus loves me just as much. The second point of this passage is that when the situation looks absolutely hopeless from a human point of view, when there’s nothing more that can be done, that’s when miracles happen. That’s when God shows up and displays His glory for the world to see.
Points to ponder while you wander… You are loved. It’s never too late. The bigger the problem the greater display of God’s glory.
PS If you’re so inclined, read Lazarus’s story in John chapter 4. It’s an amazing story!