Thank goodness…

 

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Have you ever felt that life is like a roller coaster… full of ups and downs that are nowhere near as thrilling as the actual ride?

In Psalm 27, we learn that David’s life had its ups and downs. He was transparent about his difficulties, fears, and times of testing. But, he balanced that angst with hope. In verse after verse, he spoke of his commitment to God, and confidence in His character and provision. He never once mentioned putting his hope in anyone but God.

No matter what life brought his way, David relentlessly kept his focus on God. Like most of us, he had times of despair but steadfastly believed he would see the goodness of God in the land of the living. He didn’t know how long before God would give him answers, or before He would intervene in certain situations, or before He would show His face in tangible ways. But, David knew that God’s faithfulness and goodness were certain, regardless of the outcome.

blog 6If you’ve never read the story of David’s life, it’s worth the read. He was a man after God’s own heart but he went through a lot of tough stuff in his life. He experienced betrayal, family problems, threats to his life, life on the run, loss, and times of abject moral failure.

David’s life was never once perfect, and ours never will be either.

Believing we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living doesn’t mean that our circumstances will change. But, it does mean our perspective will change.

I don’t know about you but I need that reminder a lot.

blog 7How many times have I despaired because I took my eyes off God and fixed them on my circumstances instead? How many times have I tried to figure things out on my own instead of crying out to God for help and then resting in His sustaining grace? How many times have I allowed temporal hardships to overshadow eternal hope?

How many times have I sung ‘O, Great is our God’ during praise and worship at church while focusing on ‘O, great are my problems’?

Life is going to bring its share of turmoil, struggles, and tears. There will be times it will be difficult to see past our pain or hardships to find hope in the goodness of God.

But, the goodness of God is not dependent on our circumstances or our feelings. Our circumstances are temporal but God’s goodness is eternal.

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One of the beautiful things about God is that He doesn’t require us to get our lives together before we come to Him. He wants us to come to Him just as we are. And then He comes alongside us to walk with us through whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.

It’s only when we surrender everything that brought us to our knees, to the One who alone has the ability to work our circumstances together for good, that we will truly experience God’s goodness in us, for us, and through us.

Honest to goodness…

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Fear not…

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Last night, I watched the movie, After Earth, starring Will Smith.  I won’t give away any spoilers but one line in the movie (which incidentally is the tag line) really got me thinking…

“Danger is very real, but fear is a choice”.

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I stopped to consider that statement and here’s what I’ve come up with…

Fear can be instinctive – and sometimes even justifiable – but anything beyond our initial gut reaction truly is a choice.  Fear can be rational but it is far more often paralyzing, life controlling, and irrational.

An emotion intended to protect us actually works to destroy us the longer we experience it.

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Fear holds us hostage more than any other emotion.  Even more so than hate, at least in my opinion.  In fact, I think fear is often at the root of hate.  But, that’s a different subject for a different day…

F.E.A.R. – False Evidence Appearing Real

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Like most people, I’ve had my struggles with fear – disguised as worry, anxiety, apprehension… you name it.  I know what it’s like to have fear rule my life.  But I also know what it’s like to conquer fear to a great degree.

Just over a year ago, I drastically changed my life in literally every way.  I got to the point where my fear of staying the same was far greater than my fear of the unknown.  I made the choice to live beyond my fear, and it’s been one of the best decisions of my life.

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Notice that I said “best decision” of my life and not “easy decision”.  The first few months were unbelievably tough.  I wrestled with fear like I have never wrestled before.  Most days it felt like I was walking with my feet encased in cement.  But I kept walking.  Speed doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you keep moving.

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When the hard knocks came, I focused on the facts.  When the harder knocks came, I focused on faith. Faith that God has everything under control, and that He never gives us anything we can’t handle with His help.

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Ecclesiastes 11:10 says to “banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body”.  It’s not speaking about casually doing these things.  Banishing and casting off are intentional actions to get rid of negatives within us that cause internal damage.

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I can’t honestly tell you that I don’t ever experience fear anymore.  But I can honestly tell you that I’m living more “fear free” than ever before.  I’ve realized that life is going to happen whether I live in fear or not.  So, to me, it makes much more sense to focus on living life and just deal with things as they happen.

As opposed to letting fear tell me how to live.

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Fear is faith that it won’t work out.  I’d rather have faith that things will work out.  Either way, faith is involved.

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My choice?  Well, my running days are over.

Life begins where fear ends.  I know this for a fact.  I’ve lived it.  And I’m committed to keep living it.

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I’m fearless…

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Take a flying leap…

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If someone tells you to take a flying leap, you can be reasonably certain they’re not wishing you well.  It’s the equivalent of them telling you to go away, take a hike, or take a long walk off a short plank.  It’s not something you ever hope to hear.

But, taking a leap of faith is something altogether different.  It’s not so much a leap away from something as it is a leap towards something.  Something that you can’t quite see but still believe exists.

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In many ways, it’s relatively easy to live a safe life.  Many people do.  Their lives are very predictable, risk is a four letter word, comfort zone is their favorite zip code, and change rarely happens unless every angle has first been considered and accounted for.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like my comfort zone as much as the next person.  I prefer to have all the answers before I make a change.  I like a certain degree of predictability in my life.

But…

I only have one life to live.  I want to live the length and the breadth of it.  And, in order to do that, sometimes it means taking a leap of faith.

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I’m at that place right now.

You’d think I’d be comfortable with taking a leap of faith.  After all, much of the past year has been a huge leap of faith on my part.  But, I don’t think it ever gets easier because we humans are generally inclined to feel most comfortable when both feet are planted solidly on the ground.

Even if the ground is less than solid.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, as the saying goes.  Better to deal with someone or something that you’re familiar with and know well – even if it’s less than ideal – than to take a risk with an unknown person or thing.

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I believe God is in control of my life and its direction, and that He will place solid ground under my feet.  As the song says, “takin’ a giant leap in the air, steppin’ out on nothin’ and findin’ somethin’ there…”

That being said, I don’t take any leap of faith lightly.  I exhaust all other avenues first.  Otherwise my actions would just be reckless.  But, when every road you travel leads you to a precipice, you’re faced with the decision to either take a leap of faith or to continue wandering around aimlessly – and miserably- going nowhere and getting nowhere.

Honestly, I’d rather jump.

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I confess that it scares me a bit but I’m confident that taking a leap of faith is the right thing to do and that it’s the right timing to do it.  I don’t know exactly how or when it will work out but I believe it will.  Where I’m headed is better than where I currently am.  Of that, I’m certain, even without knowing the destination.

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You may be wondering what I’ll do if I take my leap of faith, and it doesn’t turn out as I’d hoped.  If it doesn’t turn out well at all.

I’ve had that happen.

The thing about God being in control is that, while He’s always faithful, He’s rarely predictable.  So, sometimes His answers don’t make sense.  Sometimes it feels like you’ve jumped into quicksand.  That’s because He sees the whole picture while we only see our own little piece of the puzzle.

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I haven’t always liked the answer but, in hindsight, I’ve always been able to see the blessing, even if I’ve never fully understood the reasoning.  And I know that God is always faithful.  Always.  It’s not in His character to be anything less.

I look at it this way.  If I do absolutely nothing, I’ll know the outcome almost absolutely.  But, if I take a leap of faith, I’ll be doing something, even if the outcome is uncertain.  And, I would much rather be doing something than be stuck in a rut.  Usually by the time I’m ready to take a leap of faith, I’ve been in a rut much longer than I’d planned because I spent so much time trying to find any other solution.

A leap of faith may be all that’s standing between what you are now and what you want to be.  It could be that easy… and that hard.  But, it could well be the only way.

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Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to take a flying leap.  The good kind.  It’s terrifying, and exhilarating, and life changing.

But, consider this… no one has ever been able to change and still remain the same.

So, lace up your sneakers.  You can go first next time.

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