Sovereign Steps

I say I will go this way
But You direct my steps
In my head, all my plans are made
But only You see what’s next

My vision is oft filled
With self-centeredness or fear
Directed by my instinct
To survive and thrive here

Your plans are grander
than I can conceive
Designed with a purpose
Linked to eternity

I know not the path
Nor the way
So close to You
I’ll stay

Christmas

A Silent night as any other

While a miracle was born

Lowly laid in a manger

The very first Christmas morn

Could they hear on that night

His cries that would save

The wrath He would bore

As God set the stage

A fragile babe

Our heavenly King

God’s Light shining

Erasing death’s sting

Scandalous Grace

Scandalous grace

Because no one can earn it

And it can’t be taken away

The worst of us can own it

As the proud look on in dismay

Scandalous grace

Because you can’t contain it

And it can’t be sold your way

Bought for us as a loving gift

At a price only He could pay

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” 1 Peter 3:18

Selfish Fears

What if this path brings misery

And I wake up in tears?

What if I wander around in boots of lead

While looking for a clearing to appear

The daunting task of this journey grips me

With threats of pain that may be endured

With no guarantee of how long it will take

And my fragility now underscored

Would the right way bring so much suffering

Is a conflict that lurks in my mind

I must endure the course, come what may

Instead of turning to my instincts this time

I’ll hold onto the hope one day it’ll be over

The work will have accomplished it’s intend

The perils of the journey left behind me

As I look up and behold this path’s end

“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:14

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5

The Gift Giver

It is such an enjoyable thing to buy gifts for those we love.  It’s a demonstration of the fact that we know them intimately enough to know what they would enjoy.  It shows them we think of them and consider the details of their personality and desires just to discover some little gem that will bless them. 

Well, I have a friend who lives out of town and every time a birthday or holiday rolls around, I can’t wait to think of what gift I will pick out for this person.  This past year, I picked out several items and couldn’t wait to deliver them.  However, our visits didn’t work out as planned, so I decided to hold onto them until they could be delivered in person.   Now with Christmas around the corner, I thought of a few more gift ideas.  So, I bought them and added them to the pile that is just waiting for the chance to be delivered.  In this process, I wondered “how large will this pile actually get if our visits keep getting delayed?!”

Then I pictured our Heavenly Father doing the same for us.  He picks out and collects gifts for us every chance He gets as a token of His love for us – gifts specific to us.  Gifts of grace, of strength, of breaking strongholds, gifts of revelation of Himself and gifts of intimate moments together.  And maybe we’re in a place for awhile where we’re not able to receive His gifts.  Maybe we are in a place of trial or sin, a place of mourning or tribulation.  And in that season, maybe the gift would be lost in the midst of our troubles.  So, He stores them up! He holds onto them and waits for the day we are ready to receive all the gifts He has planned for us.

“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:7

“That is why God says, “When he went up to the highest place, he led captives into captivity and gave gifts to people.” Ephesians 4:8

Shaken

“Then the Philistines will be thrown into panic, for they counted on the power of Ethiopia and boasted of their allies in Egypt!  They will say, ‘If this can happen to Egypt, what chance do we have?  We were counting on Egypt to protect us from the king of Assyria.’”  Isaiah 20: 5-6

Is there something you have trusted in throughout your life that has boosted your confidence, given you a greater sense of security or maybe even shaped your identity? Maybe you come from a family of wealth, therefore you have never given much worry to where your next meal will come from. Maybe all of the women (or men) in your family have lived long healthy lives, living well into their 90s, so you have great confidence that you will follow in line. Maybe your parents have demonstrated commitment and endurance to their lifetime marriage and set the example for how you believe the story will also go for you. Maybe the church where your faith was born has a leader who has taught you countless truths and been the example of faith for which you look to and live by.

So what happens when that foundation cracks and the most reliable thing in your life crumbles? When the family you depended on makes a bad investment and files for bankruptcy; when you get a cancer diagnosis in your 40’s and your vision of a long life is suddenly threatened; when one of your parents commits adultery and the relationship you trusted more than any other ends. When your church leader is caught being dishonest and has to step down… what happens then?

Maybe we would echo the words of the Philistines in the scripture above and wonder, “If this can happen to Egypt (fill in the blank), what chance do we have?!” And suddenly we are met with the choice to either crumble in despair and hopelessness or rebuild our foundation.

God has a way of illustrating to us over and over again our faith and dependence should be on Him and Him alone.  Everything in this world is temporary, every person in this world is flawed.  If your trust lies in anything or anyone of this world, it is subject to disappointment. 

This is not to say we shouldn’t be grateful for the blessings of financial security, good health, successful relationships and amazing church leaders or walk in fear of their failure. (And check out how to still love people who’ve let us down HERE) But we should never place our confidence in these people, places or things above our confidence in the Lord. He is still who He says He is when we face loss and we can have the confidence in Him to say “I don’t like it, but I trust You. Show me according to Your Word and Spirit where to go from here.”

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Unfaithful

The Lord asked me, “What if I asked you to marry a cheating man?”

“When the LORD first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the LORD and worshiping other gods.” Hosea 1:2

So, I pondered the scenario. The quick reply is of course – “anything for you Lord, right?” But my instinctive answer is no.

Could I walk in daily forgiveness of a man who was continually and willfully unfaithful to me? Surely over time, no matter how much strength I mustered to forgive over and over, my love would reach its limit and I would give up. That seems to be the human limit of love.

But the Lord has shown us a different kind of love.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

He saw our unfaithfulness and chose to love us still. He saw our disobedience and chose to pave the road to forgiving us through the sacrifice of His own Son. Without forgiveness, love is hindered. So, He paid the highest price making His forgiveness complete and His love known.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

To accept His forgiveness and experience His love, all He asks of us is to believe that He has given us this gift of grace.

“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” Romans 10:10-11

What an amazing demonstration of love this is! He has shown us how to love and in so doing, has now freed us to extend that same grace and love to others.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

Joy Comes in the Morning

This night is long

My requests play on repeat

Do you hear me? Are You answering?

I circle the same bleak scene.

My mind is tired, my spirit despaired

I try to conjure up gratitude

But none is found here

Then in the darkness, I hear His whisper in my ear.

Jump for joy, rejoice in your faith!

You’ve held onto my Hand and have not lost your way.

Through this storm, your character was born.

Be encouraged for my joy comes in the morn!

“O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.” Psalm 13