Never Lose Heart When You Stumble December 11 2014, 1 Comment
When you stumble over obstacles in the road, I am here…
For love gives the chance for new beginnings
What obstacles in life are keeping you from truly receiving God’s love for you and experiencing the fullness of all He has for you? Perhaps it’s doubt, fear, pride, unforgiveness, or some cheap substitute. Or, maybe it is a barrier we don’t always immediately think about—the lack of self-acceptance.
Everywhere we turn, we are bombarded with messages from the media about how we should look, where we should live, what kind of car we should drive, what kind of possessions we should own, and how much money we need to make to acquire it all. We can’t even go into a bathroom stall without seeing ads about the latest solution to our discontentment or need for validation or approval. It can be easy to align our identity with who the world tells us we should be and measure our worth by constantly comparing ourselves to other people. Striving to live up to the world’s standards of success can be exhausting, and when we fail, the world is not so forgiving. Our feelings of inadequacy convince us to mask our imperfections and to pretend we are A-OK. However, the pretending does not silence the negative voices in our heads and the lies that we are unworthy.
In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
The enemy is constantly trying to beat us down, and he knows our deprivations and broken places—the areas where we are most vulnerable. Once we are beaten to the core with hopelessness, despair, and guilt, he then entices us into traps that we think will rid the pain or fix our broken hearts. The next thing we know, we are caught in a vicious self-destructive cycle. We then believe the lie that because we bought into the lie and brought the mess upon ourselves, we must clean up the mess all by ourselves. And until we clean it up, God surely can’t love us the way we want him to. So, we keep striving. Over time, we might make a little progress, but the transformation we so desperately long for is still far from being attained.
At least this is my story. Maybe you can relate.
So, why do we so easily fall prey to the enemy’s schemes? Perhaps one of the biggest reasons is that we do not fully understand who we are in God’s eyes. The more we understand how deeply our Creator loves us, cherishes us, and values us—just as we are—we can’t help but be changed. His love makes all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our brokenness and shortcomings will never separate us from His love because His love is what brings the healing, transformation, freedom, and hope that we are looking for (and that He wants for us even more than we want it for ourselves!). He went to extreme measures to redeem us in all of our imperfections, so why would He fail us now?
God knows us better than we know ourselves, and He knows how to reach us exactly where we are. However, we must position ourselves to allow Him in and hear His voice. It's a choice we make. Which voice will you listen to? Below is a love letter from God to you and to me. Someone shared this with me years ago, and it helped me see God’s love in a deeper, more personal way. We may not always feel God's love, but we can choose to believe what He says about us is true. I hope it will speak to your heart and allow you to receive the new beginnings God has waiting for you.
Don’t be surprised if you start seeing hearts!
Never Lose Heart,
Never Lose Heart in the Wandering November 26 2014, 0 Comments
What exactly does it mean to wander? According to the dictionary, it means “to move about without a definite destination or purpose; to go by an indirect route or at no set pace; to proceed in an irregular course; to go astray; or to lose clarity or coherence of thought or expression.”
Have you ever experienced this in your spiritual life?
I pass a billboard almost everyday that says, “Focus on God.” I have always appreciated this reminder, and today I realized I will never stop needing it. While I want to trust God with every aspect of my life, I still have that tendency to go off course and take matters into my own hands.
I was then reminded that, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way…” (Isaiah 53:6). If you know a little bit about sheep, you know they are not the smartest animals in the world. They have a natural tendency to wander off, get lost, and be led astray to their own destruction. They do not see or hear clearly. They do not learn easily and are extremely difficult to train. They are stubborn to the core. This 15-second “Dumb Sheep” video is hilarious and says it all!
Without a shepherd, sheep would never survive. Unlike cats, dogs, horses, birds, pigs, and even cows, sheep are the only domesticated animals that could not make it in the wild if they had to.
Basically, sheep need major help.
I am so thankful (and relieved) that God considers us sheep. Why? Because it means that we have a shepherd and we are not expected to make it on our own. While God has given us a brain and a will to make decisions, we also have a very limited perspective. The shepherd sees the bigger picture and always guides us with our best interest in mind. He cares for us, watches over us, and knows our needs. We are never alone.
The parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:4-6 is one of my favorite passages. It speaks to God’s limitless love and His amazing grace for us. No matter how far we may run or how stubborn we may be, our shepherd runs after us with His arms wide open. He pursues us just as we are and rejoices when we are home.
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Never Lose Heart
This bi-weekly blog will consist of reflections about the messages in Never Lose Heart (in the order that they appear in the book). I look forward to sharing what God puts on my heart and also hearing your thoughts about these meditations. If you missed the first blog post, Never Lose Heart in the Desert, please check it out!
Never Lose Heart in the Desert of Life November 06 2014, 2 Comments
When you face uncertainty and doubt in the desert of life, I am here…
For love whispers truth in subtle and gentle ways.
Have you ever been in the desert of life where everything seemed barren? You may have felt lifeless, discouraged, unproductive, tired, weary, alone, or lost. It seems as if God has disappeared, and questions flood our minds. Didn’t God promise to “never leave us or forsake us?" What went wrong? How did I get here and how can I get out? I know it all too well.
The desert is a tough place to be, and it can certainly breed doubt, confusion and distrust in God, especially when you feel like you are trying to do the right things and don’t have much more to give. It’s easy to want to throw in the towel and go your own way.
But, the desert is a part of the life God designed for us – even Jesus spent time in the wilderness being tempted, tested, and tried. Maybe it’s a test you are going through. Maybe God is molding you and preparing you for the next season. Maybe it’s a lesson in humility or a time to examine your heart. We may not understand it at the time, but we can trust that there is always a purpose.
I spent a long time in the desert several years ago. I wanted to believe God hadn’t abandoned me and that He had a plan. I thought if I could just get my act together and be a better person, maybe then God would be pleased with me and show me the way. However, the striving got me nowhere and only left me more exhausted. Through the long journey, I began to understand that more than anything, God just wanted me to be still and “be” with Him. To be with Him is to know Him. To know Him is to know His incredible love and grace. To know His love and grace is to know true freedom and the fullness of life. It’s not about what we do for Him. It’s about receiving what He’s done for us — with no strings attached.
The desert is never meant to be permanent place. It is a sign that something grand is yet to come, if we choose to embrace it. Like running a marathon, going through the desert takes endurance and focus. We get tired and thirsty, but there is a reward if we make it to the finish line. And the outcome may be completely surprising, like Never Lose Heart was for me. I never dreamed of writing a book. It’s a product of the desert!
I admit it’s difficult to hear God’s voice in the desert. That is part of the reason it’s called the desert – you feel disconnected. It doesn’t necessarily mean that God has stopped speaking. Perhaps He wants to speak to you in new ways. It can be difficult to “be still” in this day and age, but if we can find a way to clear the clutter from our heads and listen for His gentle voice, that is where the treasure lies – the true wisdom, knowledge, and ability to let go of the lesser important things in life. Whether it’s through nature, scripture, prayer, music, art, people, or any other way, His gentle voice is the stream in the desert. Be consciously aware of what’s around you. And who knows -- maybe you will see a heart!
Never lose heart.