Will we choose to break through or break down?

My Dear Sis,

As I stand at yet another crossroad in my life, I look around and wonder if you’ve ever felt the same anxiety the unknown future brings.  It drops in unannounced and unwelcome. Oh, I am confident in so many other places, but in the future there are unseen moments that make me quake and shake and stumble.

I am about to move to a new town. Again. I have been in this place just three short years. Honestly, I have only recently found my people. You know who I mean. The people who think like you, laugh at the same things, find joy in simple, silly things, love the same coffee places you do and love to sit and talk and talk and talk about Jesus til the cows come home. The people you call home. Your tribe.

If you’ve ever moved and had to rebuild your tribe, you know the anxiety I face. Starting over requires steps. You have to move out into unchartered waters and risk exposing yourself. You’ve got to find a way to trust there is a safe passage through to the new beginning.

Sis, have you ever stood in a similar place?  That place where you try to fool yourself into believing maybe you can just go around instead of through?  Oh yeah, I’ve spent days, months, yes even years declaring I would stand firm and not go through the thing that was just impossible.

I didn’t want to go through the sea of pain that threatened to pull me under.

I didn’t want to go through the roaring whirlwind of fear and anxiety that threatened to toss me about.

I didn’t want to go through the thunder rumbling in the sky all around me, loudly proclaiming I am just not enough.

I just didn’t see a way through when I stood blinded by the storm raging around me.

So sis, if you are standing in a storm, how do you take one step forward, how do I take one step forward? How do we move when all we see are crashing waves, one after another with no end in sight?

It reminds me of the Israelites and Moses. I picture them walking toward the Red Sea. A sea of uncertainty, with nothing to keep them afloat but a promise. I can just see them following Moses to the shoreline, looking out at the immense power of the crashing waves. They’re standing there sandals soaked, their spirits conquered by the plan that looked to be a dead-end. With the Egyptian soldiers coming toward them, their dreams of a new beginning seemed lost in the sea that stood between them and freedom.  I love their first response, because I would have done exactly the same thing. They decided it was time to turn back. Time to give up. This situation was impossible.

Because the Israelites could not see a way through, they were willing to go back. Back to pain, back to suffering, back to slavery. There was no way to break through so they broke down.

Sis are you like me? Do you find yourself standing at the edge of a sea. Are you hoping the water is warm and inviting and in the very same moment fighting the impulse to turn back because searching for a way through takes hard work. And some days it’s just plain exhausting.  We are willing to give up the promise of a new beginning because fear relentlessly whispers in our ear there is no way through.

Oh dear sis, I invite you and me to cling to the words of Moses. They may just keep us afloat in the wonder and worry of what tomorrow holds. “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today…The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Exodus 14:13,14

As I read these words I realize God asks me to just stand still and watch. I have to laugh as I have seen Him go before me and work throughout my life so many times I have lost count.  But somehow, I still fear I am on my own. Do you do that too?

If only I could remember to depend on His promise that He will fight for me.

There is no fear in the future if I believe He is my rescuer.

Okay sis, Here’s the big finish…

When you look up and see there is no way through. You’ve hit that wall of waves. You’ve stepped into the deep end. You’ve fallen into the darkest storm.  Grab this life-line.

“Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters–a pathway no one knew was there!”

Psalm 77:19

The Psalmist tells it like it is! God’s road leads through the sea, His pathway through the mighty waters….and it was a pathway…NO ONE KNEW WAS THERE.  Once again, it’s a trust issue. The way through was there all along.

Ah, now that’s a sweet break through!

Here’s my prayer for you sis…

Father,

Forgive us for forgetting your promises. Forgive us for fearing the future You have planned for us. The same future that holds the assurance of love and life alongside You. You have gone before us and come behind us and stand with us, so we will declare we can go through. We can go through whatever sea threatens to overcome. Because Lord we know You have cleared a path. Even a path we don’t even know is there. So Father, we will take one more step, a step toward You, trusting you are standing with open arms ready to guide us into the new beginning You have planned just for us.  And we will praise your name in that very place! Amen.

 

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Bible Study for Dummies

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So you’ve made the decision. You’ve taken the gift. You believe God is who He says He is. You want to follow Him. And you want to do it right. Now you are searching for the book titled, “Following Jesus for Dummies” because you have no idea where to begin.

I remember with great clarity my first steps as a Christian. I didn’t grow up going to church like many of my friends. I didn’t go to Sunday school and see the puppet shows about Moses, Noah, Daniel or any other story in the Bible. It’s hard for people who have grown up in the church to remember what it was like to learn how to find their way through God’s Word. As children there’s a common denominator, no one knows how to navigate. So they sit down in a classroom on a level playing field. No intimidation. No one feeling foolish. So how does this 45 year old person who has finally found her way to salvation learn about God and His great story?

When you come to the cross late in life, you struggle with great feelings of inadequacy. You long to know more, understand more and allow truth to mold you into someone pleasing to God. But there’s this barrier constantly tripping you up. It’s called doubt.

You are determined to learn from God’s Word, so you sign up for Bible study at church. The leader starts with prayer. Great. You are good here. Then you are asked to turn to a chapter in the Bible with numbers following it. You look around trying to follow what others are doing. Flipping anxiously through the thin pages of your new Bible hoping no one notices you have no clue where this chapter called Galatians is located. By the time you have found Galatians they are reading from the book and you have no idea what the numbers mean, so you sit completely still pretending you are right there with them. And because you are overcome by anxiety from the search you barely hear the discussion.

And satan has found his way in.

Discouragement is born in moments like this. Disbelief is born in moments like this. And the fear of failure turns us away from what should be an experience of joy and expectation.

Our insensitivity to new followers of Christ and their difficult journey into His beautiful Word has caused many to stumble and even turn away. It would be like sending a child into third grade not knowing how to read. It breeds hopelessness.

Think back to a time when you felt lost and alone? Embarrassed to ask for help? You had to fight every fear. They all came crashing in at once.

If we allow new believers to walk into a Bible study without a partner to share the journey, we quickly become part of an epic failure to honor God. He called us to stand strong for one another in the journey. The whole journey.

My beginning was messy and to be totally honest I pretended a lot when I first started going to Bible study. I kept going because I longed to be around these women who loved God, because I loved Him too. I wanted to understand more about Him. Eventually one of these lovely women recognized my struggle and came alongside. She spent time explaining this amazing Book full of truth, love and promises. She made me want to know more, encouraging me in the times I couldn’t make any sense of what I read. She taught me about grace, and helped me understand growth comes with time.

I live thankful for this lovely friend who saw I was lost, longing to be found. I wonder if I would have turned away believing God’s Word was beyond my comprehension had she not stepped into my journey. Because she was the gift God provided for me in those times,

I feel a deep responsibility for those who are coming to the table hungry for His Word. I long to be the friend who senses the wavering and steps into the journey.

Would you consider joining me? Let’s introduce this magnificent Book full of promise to those trying to find their way. Maybe you believe as I do that it’s a journey best shared. Turning page after page, light spilling onto words of truth and peace and exquisite love. Pure joy grows here in the sharing.

Can You See Me Now?

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Can You See Me Now?

We began together. Me holding tightly to Your promise. You lighting the path with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. I stood strong with You in full view. But I awoke this morning and You are gone from sight. I’m blinded by fear. Have You left me here?

Where has my God of promises gone? I strain to see You up ahead. Doubt has found its way into this darkness. So many questions unanswered. I’m blinded by fear. Have You left me here?

Oh my child, I have gone from Guide to Guard. From Sun to Shield. Remember my promise, I will not leave you or forsake you.

It was My heart beating with yours in the joy of new life, and in the grief of great loss.

Do you see Me now?

It was My hand that cleared the way to safety and freedom from slavery.

Do you see Me now?

It was Me who stood beside you in the hard journey, full of thirst and hunger.

Do you see Me now?

It’s My great love holding you close when you can’t take one more breath as the world comes crushing in.

Do you see Me now?

Will you find faith in the midst of your fear? Will looking back pave the path to trusting Me?

If seeing is believing.

What do you see?

I have never left you. I am with you, are you with Me?