The battleground holds secrets. Wind and rain unearth things best left buried. The battleground turns into a hiding ground, and more time is spent reburying things found rather than standing strong.
This battleground could be a physical battleground, but more often than not, it’s the battle in the mind.
It’s a battle that rages for peace. It reveals hidden things that I don’t want to address. The enemy reminds me of my failures and asks, “Are you sure God really forgives you?” He is an accuser and his weapons are accusations, shame, and deceit.
The wounds from these weapons are insecurity, doubt, and condemnation. I lie bleeding in the shadows and struggle to find healing. My peace is stolen and I spend more time negotiating with the enemy than I do standing firm in the truth of God.
What if we were to stop giving the enemy so much power in our life? What if we quit negotiating or arguing?
There are two common responses in conflict: denial and blame. The innocent victim who denies any wrong doing. And the counter-attack, which says, “Well, you . . .” and blames the other for the wrong doing. Isn’t it easy to do this with our enemy? He throws a grenade and it explodes with a reminder of our failures. Do we play the innocent victim or counter-attack?
What if there was a way to diffuse the situation and still retain your peace?
The next time you’re faced with a reminder of your failure, take a moment to remember your failure and then re-remember the forgiveness God poured out to you. Sometimes we don’t like any reminders of our shame and failures, and so we hide them from others and ourselves.
This places us in a glass castle. It’s dangerous and not safe.
It leads to pride and works and hate. It robs us of compassion for others and gratefulness for forgiveness.
The story from Luke of the sinful woman bringing her expensive alabaster jar to anoint Jesus’ feet and then wiping them with her hair is a beautiful picture of the power that remembering brings to our lives. Our hearts soften in remembering our forgiveness. A tender heart is one that knows the depth of its forgiveness.
A tender heart also knows peace.
When the enemy hits you with accusations, remember rather than fight. Remember and reject the condemnation.
Remember that God has forgiven you. Remember how he turned your darkness into redemption. Feel the forgiveness again. And as you feel the pain of remembering and remind yourself of God’s forgiveness, peace will flood your soul.
I,(Your name here), hereby declare peace in my heart and mind. When the accuser wounds, I will acknowledge the pain and re-remember the forgiveness God granted. I will walk in peace in my mind and my heart, knowing that God forgives so that I might know peace.
Sign your name and hang it up in a prominent spot.
You see, the risk a glass castle on a battleground brings is separation from the power of God in your life. God calls your name and when you stand firm in the peace he gives you, which comes through remembering his forgiveness, you become strong in your vulnerability.
Have you ever felt as though God has abandoned you? Have you ever felt confused by God? Does it seem as though his peace is fleeting and fickle?
These words of the Psalmist reverberate through my mind:
Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?
It’s in the busy of the day that we mute our troubles, but it’s in the quiet of the night when our minds start to rev up and race around the troubles that daytime held at bay. We lay in the dark, listening to the furnace cycle on and off, watching the moon cross the room, eyeing the numbers on the clock inching their way closer to morning when we can get up and get away from the thoughts in our head. Then bedtime comes and we repeat the anxious riddled night, which leaves us sleepless and heavy hearted.
Our days are marked with busy and our nights marked with anxiety.
This season of light is a showstopper, but it also reveals our darkness as well. The colors of life sparkle and glow and the contrasts between what we see and what we feel oftentimes becomes too much to bear. Our anxiety grows and it becomes a beast that we cannot wrestle to the ground.
It’s tempting to pray more or serve more or begin a new bible reading plan. And these are good spiritual disciplines, which we need in our relationship with Christ. But they are not the cure for anxiety. They will not be your peace.
The way to peace is not through doing more. It’s through remembering and exchanging.
When peace seems elusive and anxiety definite, we have to pause. We have to pause so we can remember.
We follow in the Psalmist’s footsteps and remember God’s mighty works. The sun that rises. The sun that sets. The way our bodies function without our help. We remember God’s greatness and how he makes a way when there seems to be no way.
We remember that the winds and the waves obey him and that when his path leads us through deep waters that those waters will not engulf us. We take his hand and hold fast, trusting his steps, doing what he does, and stopping when he stops.
We pause and listen for the song that he sings over us. The song of delight and wonder. We remember that he made us lovingly and purposefully. We lift up the mirror of his word so we see ourselves clearly.
After we remember, we name our anxiety. We name the thing that rob us of peace. It could be finances, our marriage, a person, the future, or the past. And then we place it in God’s hands and pick up his peace. But if our anxiety leaps back to us like a magnet, we must put it back again. We place it on God’s desk, because it’s his to deal with and then we pick up his peace. It’s an exchange we repeat.
We remember, we exchange, and we remember again.
There’s no wrestling our anxiety into peace, there’s only us remembering God and exchanging our anxiety for his peace.
Read Psalm 77
Create a Peace Sandwich:
Write down three things that help you remember God’s faithfulness and love.
Write down one or two things that robs your peace.
Picture yourself walking up to God’s desk and placing those items there.
Then imagine yourself picking up his peace.
Write down three more things that you remember about God’s faithfulness.
What do you do when your world goes dark? When you lose your way, your voice, your song? Do you fall in a heap or scramble to busy? Or is it a little bit of both?
To tell you the truth, I don’t always handle it well when a shadow passes over and the ground beneath my feet gives way. It takes me a bit to adjust because what was my normal is no longer my normal. I have to adjust to a new normal which at times seems to be an insurmountable mountain to climb.
But it’s in the storms that I most see God’s mightiness. There’s something about the light seeming to be brighter in the darkness. The tiniest candle gives off the greatest pool of light in the deepest gloom. It draws me like a moth to a flame, only instead of getting burned, I’m comforted.
It’s in the storms that my faith stretches and grows. As the circumstances around me humble me, I bow lower and lower to the ground and find myself reaching deeper and deeper into God’s stores of goodness and grace for me. And then I find something unusual, that as I go deeper, I really am reaching higher. Higher into God’s mountain. Over the jagged boulders and the slippery shale I climb, desperate and hungry for more and more of God.
In “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” John Bunyan paired Timorous with Mistrust because one is not absent from the other. Timidity is a lack of courage and mistrust is skepticism. The depth of my courage is bound to my belief in what God says about himself and about me. And my trust in who God is relates to the level of my courage.
Will I believe that he is my strength and my song? Will I believe that he is able to save?
“Surely God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord is my strength and song; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2
This verse becomes an anthem to the distressed. We read that God is our salvation. He saves. So we don’t have to be afraid. For those who believe in God’s plan of salvation for all mankind, their place in eternity is secured. Our circumstances cannot take that from us.
Then we trust and do not give way to fear. The secret to trusting and not giving way to fear is recognizing that you are afraid and anxious, and then speaking God’s truth to your heart. Our faith develops perseverance and endurance in times of trouble.
The Lord is your strength when you are strong and when you are weak. He enables you to trust him, to believe him, if you only ask. You cry, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”He carries you when you cannot take another step. He holds you close when your sorrow renders you powerless. He whispers encouragement to your heart.
And then he is your song. He enables you to praise him. In Psalm 69, the psalmist states that he is afflicted and in pain, but God’s salvation sets him on high. And because of this the psalmist praises the name of God with a song. When we sing to God in the midst of our pain, it gives our hearts a place to bleed and to heal. The Lord becomes the melody we hear. The melody that he sings over us is his song of deliverance and rejoicing.
We trust him and listen for his song and rest in his strength because he saves us. He makes a way through our circumstances either by changing it or changing us. The next time you can’t find your song, listen for God’s melody and then sing.
1.Consider the love God has for you. While you were a sinner, Christ died for you. If you haven’t made Christ your savior, confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and you will be saved.
2. Admit your weaknesses and rely on God’s strength to carry you through.
3. Listen to these songs by Mosaic and Bethel. Let the truth of the lyrics be the song that God sings over you.
With this week comes the busiest five weeks of the year. We have a beautiful celebration of thanks this week, and it becomes the opening score to a beautiful opus of celebrating the Author of Life coming to this world in human form. But as the weeks proceed we will experience a range of emotions.
For some it will be mostly sad with happiness sprinkled in. Bleeding hearts lurk behind smiles. Sadness roars to life when you least expect it. For other’s it will be mostly happy, with a few undertones of sadness throughout the melody. I’ve experienced both kinds of holidays, but I’m learning to give voice to each set of emotions. My happiness is richer when I feel the sadness, and my sadness feels less dark when I acknowledge my happiness.
For many of us, though, the holidays are riddled with anxiety. Are we doing enough? Did we buy the right gifts? How will we handle the probing questions of Great, great Aunt Matilda?
And then we get anxious because we’re not enjoying the holidays and we wonder where the happiness went. Or we’re sad so we grow anxious about that and wonder if the dark clouds will lift. Our darkness seems even darker in this season of light. Anxiety. It can take over and run rampant in our hearts and mind.
You see, sometimes we think we’re not trusting God when we feel anxious.An absence of anxiety is not the same as trusting God. Trusting God is recognizing the anxiety and then turning to him for hope, consolation, comfort and direction. Anxiety should turn us towards him because it provides us with an opportunity to experience God as our refuge, to pour out our hearts to him, and to practice trusting him.
I found a slip of paper on my nightstand the other day. On it were these words: “Don’t ignore your anxieties, entrust them to God.”
When we entrust our anxieties to the Lord, we then experience our anxiety within the framework of God’s love and security. Trusting God implies absolute confidence and certainty. Things, people, and expectations disappoint, which causes anxiety, but God doesn’t disappoint. When anxiety is great within me, God brings consolation to my soul.
To entrust means to charge with a responsibility or to commit something. Let God be responsible for the thing that is causing you the most anxiety this holiday season. Are you anxious about spending the holidays with someone who disdains everything you hold dear? Entrust your anxieties to God because he’s big enough to handle it, and he cares about your heart. Then look for him throughout the day. Maybe you’ll see evidence of him in the sunrise or the way your breath forms shape as you exhale in the wintery day. Maybe you’ll see evidence of him in the smile in your child’s face, or the private joke shared between you and a loved one.
Anxieties don’t indicate that you don’t trust God, they indicate that you feel less than confident or secure about a situation. Run straight to him for help and guidance. He is good and he will carry you. You simply need to entrust your worries to him and let him do his thing. Have confidence, not in yourself, but in God’s ability to work on your behalf by providing you with comfort and peace.
God is the comforter of our souls. So as you step into this week and know that anxiety lurks, entrust it to him and trust him to provide you with peace.
*Write 3 things you are happy for this holiday season.
*Write 3 things that cause you anxiety.
*Entrust those 3 things to God. And when those three things cause your heart to race, remind yourself that they are God’s responsibility. Your’s is to let him do his job.
*Then receive the peace that he gives and smile.
The anxieties I refer to are not debilitating anxieties. If you are experiencing anxiety that prevents you from functioning in your daily life, please see a trusted healthcare provider.
Are you ever weary? Do you wonder why some things in life are just so hard? Do you ever dream of a remote hide-a-way? I shouldn’t be shocked when life slaps me alongside the head. But I kinda am. I sometimes don’t understand why troubles should come if God loves me. Doesn’t God’s love guarantee a trouble free life?
It is said that in this world we will have trouble, but to take heart because Jesus has overcome the world. This verse can be encouraging and discouraging all at once. We try and avoid trouble, pain and heartache. But it’s part of life. And a life lived to its fullest needs to experience all the emotions this life offers.
However, sometimes it’s difficult to decipher if the trouble is a result of our own choices and actions or if we’ve been allured to the desert like Hosea. Either way, our troubles offer us opportunities to grow in faith and love and to put action to the words we say we believe in, such as: “I trust You.” or “He never leaves me nor forsakes me.”
Trust the Giver
Sometimes, though, we begin looking to our own abilities to help us through our troubles. We all have strengths or defaults we return to again and again. For some, it involves emotional stuffing where we don’t recognize the feelings of abandonment or anger or angst. For others, it involves working harder and longer in order to prove to ourselves and others that we have it all together. Still others, give up, so their walk with Christ often looks like two steps forward, three steps back.
It’s common to run to other things when life feels out of control and God appears to have abandoned us. How does he seem to do this? By not showing up when we demand, or answering that prayer the way we want or by not making other people behave the way we think they should. Yes, I try to boss God around, and be strong in my own strength. But the more I’m strong in my own strength the weaker I feel.
I need the reminder that it’s not my abilities or giftings that save me or help me. It’s God. He is the one who makes my way clear, one step at a time. He is the one who holds me up when I cannot stand up. I trust his eyes more than my own.
It is God who saves and so we boast in him. We say to ourselves: He is strong and if I rest in him, he will carry me to victory. God is the giver of your abilities. Everything you have that enables you to navigate through this life comes straight from him.
Do you want victory in your life? Begin by trusting in the giver of the gifts rather than your abilities.
“For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us. In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever.” Psalm 44:6-8
What ability do you have a tendency to turn to when life gets hard?
List 3 attributes of God that you can boast about. It might be joy, strength, peace, power, comforter, redeemer, righteousness, portion, or provider. Choose three that resonate with you.
How are they are evident in your life? Say a prayer of praise.
I’ve prayed like I’ve never prayed before. I’ve reminded God of who He was and who I was. I’ve laid out my devotion and faithfulness. I’ve believed for a miracle. And I got a non-miracle. I got a, “Nope, I don’t think so.”
Upset? Yes. Crushed? You bet. Disappointed? Absolutely.
But I was determined to trust. Until I realized that trusting God was too dangerous because His love didn’t seem safe. He refused to give me what I wanted. To not answer my prayer the way I wanted seemed mean. So maybe He didn’t love me as much as He said He did.
My flaw? (Besides thinking I could boss God around?) was this: I was looking at God’s love through the broken glass of my own life. When I view God’s love through my brokenness, I see warped love. But when I view God’s love through His lens: I see a perfect love that casts out fear. I see a love that watched His son bleed a violent death so that I might know Him intimately as Father, Hope, Light and Life. I see a love that gave all so that I might know a hope and peace that defies all human explanation.
When I base my understanding on God’s love by what He does or does not do for me, I am doomed to struggle to trust Him. But when I base my understanding on God’s love on His character and His word, I am assured an unshakable trust.
Unshakable. Who wouldn’t love that? Who can really, truly understand that? Nothing in our finite world is unshakable. Buildings collapse. People disappoint. Jobs fail. Governments corrode.
But God. His love is steadfast. Unmovable. Unwavering. Resolute. Constant. Relent-less. Singleminded. Unyielding.
We get hit with bad news and our world is shaken. So we question whether God really loves us, but instead of confronting that issue, we decide we just need to trust Him more. We try harder, but then struggler harder when the bad things don’t quit hitting us.
We equate love of God with peaceful lives, answered prayers, and clear paths.
We don’t equate God’s love to trials, desert experiences, and dim paths.
However, God’s love transcends what we see, feel, or experience. It’s something we receive in faith, believe in faith, and grow in faith.
He loved us before we knew Him. We love Him because He loved us first.
And then He calls us to love Him first.
So, lets talk about love before we talk trust. Because the root of trust issues is a love issue.
Love & Trust
Do you believe God loves you? Really, truly loves you? Not that you feel like He loves you, but do you believe He loves you?
The Bible is full of examples about His steadfast love. He loved Joseph and gave Him favor: as a slave, in prison, and as second in command. He loved the Israelites even when they refused to love Him back.
He loves us more than we love our favorite people.
Sometimes we just have to say, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
It doesn’t have to be proven to be true. It just is.
Okay, but what about if you need proof? Grab a mirror and smile. See those muscles move? That’s proof that God loves you. Hold the mirror close to your mouth and exhale. Again, that breath? It was gifted to you by God. Find your pulse–that involuntary muscle? Who started it? God.
I know what it’s like to ache and wonder whether you’re loved or not. I know the heart that aches and wonders if you’re the only unloveable one in the room. I know what it’s like to wave from the outside and realize that no one is waving back at you.
The King of the universe has this crazy, unshakable love for you and he lavishes it on you. Do you have a teflon heart or a velcro heart? Does this truth slip right off or does it stick?
1. Copy Psalm 21:7 on a card and tape it on the dashboard of your car.
2. If you have a teflon heart, why? Can you point to one circumstance that caused you to disbelieve God’s love? Now, write it down. Then, look at your disappoint with fresh eyes. Finally, use a Bible search tool to find three verses that describe God’s love for you.
3. Repeat: “God loves me with an unshakable kind of love,” 3 times before each meal.
I write to encourage you that you can experience a vibrant, transformative relationship with God even if your past or your shame tells you otherwise. God invites you upward and onward, will you join me? You'll receive weekly devotionals straight to your inbox. By subscribing you'll receive my 7-Day Devotional, Kicking Perfect, as a thank-you gift from me!