We Interrupt These Blog Posts to Bring You A Hurricane
As soon as I made my plans, Hurricane Irma came and wrecked them. Thanks, a lot.
I’d planned to finish my Enoch blog posts last week, but then we had to jump into Hurricane Irma Readiness mode. My blog instantly became low priority.
My heart breaks at the sight on the news of all those who lost so much in Irma — especially those who lost their lives. It’s devastating!
I’m grateful to report, though, that we weathered Irma well. We only lost our power for a few hours. Long enough to remind me how much I depend on it.
We almost lost a tree, too. After Irma, our Chinese Elm was leaning at about a 45º angle. This is good, though, because it had been growing at an 85º angle since the beginning. Thanks, Irma.
I kept meaning to straighten it out and stake it while it was small, but one thing led to another. By the time I got around to it, the tree was rooted into the hard clay soil and unwilling to budge an inch.
I thought about forcing it but was afraid of damaging the tree — maybe even breaking it. But now it’s just a mess. We’ve got to fix it. Its roots won’t survive being above-ground.
Fortunately, we can pull it up with ease because it’s now loose in the Irma-softened soil. We can give it a fresh start and new life.
Softened Soil & Hearts
When I told my friend Debbie about our poor tree, she pointed out how much our Chinese Elm is a picture of the work God does in our hearts.
Unless God softens the soil of our hearts, no outward pushing or pulling will move it without damaging it.
I’m probably guilty of hurting a few people with my well-meaning attempts to force their hearts to move in a direction I felt was best.
I’ve tried to help God rather than wait for Him to do the work only He can do.
Why do I keep forgetting I’m not God?
God’s Perfect Work
God’s work in our hearts is perfect. Only He knows best what we need.
Sometimes God sends a long, gentle rain to soften a heart.
He’ll speak to us through His Word or and open our eyes to a truth we’d missed or misunderstood. Painless.
Other times, He sends a rainstorm that breaks up the soil of our hearts in ways we wouldn’t have chosen.
Painful, but effective.
And then, when necessary, God sends an all-out hurricane to flood and blow against our hearts until they become putty in His hands.
PAINFUL, but perfect.
God’s Work in our hearts isn’t always fun. When it’s painful, let’s remember:
God never allows the storms to blow beyond what is absolutely necessary to cause our roots to grow deep into His marvelous love.
New Life — New Look
If my Chinese Elm continued to grow at an angle the roots couldn’t support, a strong enough storm would’ve eventually knocked it down to its doom.
With the soil now properly softened, we can give our tree new life that’s able to weather the storms to come.
We can give it a new look, too. A strong look, rather than looking like it’ll fall over if the wind sneezes.
I’m thankful for the storms God has sent or allowed into my heart. He’s used each one to mold me more into the likeness of Jesus.
I know I’ll never look just like Jesus. I’ve got too many twists and turns in my trunk. But that’s ok. My roots are now growing down into the soil of His marvelous love, and I’m filled with new life.
And hopefully a new look — one that smiles more than it grumbles or grimaces.
My hope is when I’m old and gray (instead of just young and gray — or more accurately, middle-aged and gray) people will meet me and know what Jesus is really like.
At this point, I make Jesus look more like a Picasso painting. But He’s not done with me yet. More softening of my heart to come!
To those of you that I’ve hurt by my pushing and pulling, “Forgive me.” I hope you know it was only because I love you — or because I was temporarily an idiot.
And to those of you who’ve been hurt by other Christians who tried to force your heart to believe in Jesus or look like Jesus — on their behalf, I say, “I’m so sorry.”
And to those who are facing a Heart Hurricane, I say, “Embrace it.”
Hang on, but embrace it. Let God have His way with your heart. Let Him soften and move your heart to where it needs to be. If you don’t, one day a big storm is going to come and knock you flat. It may even break you.
An Encouraging Word From the Word
I now leave you with the incredible encouragement of Ephesians 3:16-20, one of my favorite passages in the Bible:
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
I took a deep breath and followed her orders. And I prayed a desperate prayer.
“Lord, do you see my son? He needs You. Now! Help him, please.”
The bleeding stopped. The pain didn’t. But eventually, Bobby’s thumb healed, and we moved on with our lives.
But that’s not always the case.
When Our Desperate Needs Won’t Go Away
My friend Callie texted me yesterday morning with a plea of desperation.
“Please pray for Elijah. He is in terrible pain this morning. Moaning and crying. Mommy’s heart is breaking.”
I cried for my dear friend and Elijah, her 10-year-old son.
Elijah has been experiencing debilitating pain. For the past 30 days. Thirty long, excruciating days. And the doctors don’t know why.
“Lord, do You see Callie’s son? Do you see Elijah?”
History and God’s Word proves God sees, and He cares.
Our present circumstances sometimes seem to challenge it, but the Truth remains.
Even if God doesn’t remove our desperate need the moment we pray, He sees and cares. He knows what He’s doing.
The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. ~Psalm 34:17
Really? God delivers them from all their troubles? What about Elijah? He’s still in pain.
Our rescue doesn’t always come when and how we want. But it comes. God never fails.
As humans, we’re short-sighted. We can’t see the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). We can’t see all the moving — and non-moving — parts.
All we see is the small picture in front of us and what we’ve learned.
And what screams at us.
As Bobby screamed, I couldn’t see anything but his pain and my plea. I couldn’t see the Lord’s help.
I can’t see Elijah’s help with my physical eyes. But I can see it with my spiritual eyes. His help and his hope are in the Lord.
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. ~Psalm 121:2
And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You. ~Psalm 39:7
Stand on God’s Character
When it seems God isn’t meeting your desperate needs, remember who He is.
Don’t lose sight of God or His unchanging character.
We’ll never understand all His ways or thoughts in this life. But we can always trust them (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Don’t walk away from God in your desperate need.
I know you’re hurt and angry. He knows it, too. He’s OK with raw emotion. Run to Him with it.
You can trust Him. You can trust His character.
This single unchanging truth has held me up when my circumstances threatened to crush me down. It will hold you, too. Don’t let go.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. ~ Psalm 34:18
Because we can trust God, we can say as Jesus did as He faced the cross:
Not my will but Yours be done. ~ Luke 22:42
Even if God doesn’t remove our circumstance in the fires of our pain and fear, we can trust in Him.
We can hold on. He will deliver us.
I would have despairedunless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. ~Psalm 27:13-14
MercyMe’s Song of Hope “Even If”
In their song Even If, MercyMe shares a message of hope we all need to hear and remember.
Even if our we must wait on the Lord, we never wait in vain.
When our hope is in God, our help is on the way. It will be well with our soul. Amen.
For a list of the character traits of God, Click Here.I’ll continue to add more to the list, so check back often.
God is Sovereign – What That Means & Why We Care
God is Sovereign
If God isn’t sovereign over all, He isn’t sovereign at all.
I’m clearly not God because no matter how I try, I’m not sovereign over anything. At all.
I might determine to simply walk across the room, but any number of scenarios could stop me.
I could trip and knock myself out.
I could get distracted on my side of the room by a slice of blueberry lemon cake and a cup of coffee. The cup of coffee by itself would do it.
A tornado could rip through my house and send me into my neighbor’s kitchen.
I should be able to walk across the room unimpeded, but I can’t guarantee it because I’m not sovereign, but God is.
What Does Sovereign Mean?
God’s sovereignty means thatHe can do whatever He wants with whoever or whatever He wants for whatever purpose He wants.
It means God is absolutely free and completely able to do all that He determines to do.
That might be a terrifying thought if God’s sovereignty weren’t equaled by His perfect love.
The truth of God’s sovereignty allows us to rest in Him and His will without worrying.
Sovereignty vs Supremacy
God’s sovereignty sounds like His supremacy, but they’re not the same. They’re more like siblings than twins.
God’s supremacy says there’s no one above Him.
His sovereignty says no one can act apart from His permission. (Lamentations 3:37)
Knowing God is Sovereign Makes a Difference in Us
Everyday circumstances happen we can’t control.
If those things hurt, we want to know God has a plan for it.
If they devastate us, we need to know He has a perfect plan for it.
When a child is murdered, we need to know Satan didn’t steal that child away from God. We need to know it 100%, or we’ll struggle for the rest of our days.
If absolutely nothing can happen apart from God stepping aside to allow it, then we can rest in the knowledge — even while grieving and mourning the heart-wrenching loss — that God chose to allow it for a good purpose we may never understand on this side of heaven, but we can trust Him.
Knowing and trusting God’s sovereignty gives us peace even in the midst of devastating pain.
It also comforts and empowers us when we have difficult decisions to make. We can seek His will in every matter before us and be confident that He is able to accomplish whatever He chooses.
God’s Sovereignty Versus Our Free Will
I once lost a volunteer position I loved and felt I’d handled faithfully for over two years. But the board decided to let someone else handle the position.
My heart — and let’s be honest, my pride — hurt. But then God’s sovereignty reminded me if God wanted me in that position, they couldn’t remove me from it. And if He didn’t want me in the position, not even they could keep me there.
I knew God had a plan for them and for me that called for me to let go of something I’d loved and trust Him for something new.
And I found Him faithful. Imagine that.
Please understand, however, that God will often allow us to make decisions against His perfect will. He has a plan even for those bad decisions. But if our free-will choices would interfere with His ultimate plan or purposes, He’ll interfere with our choice.
As horrible as the death and destruction of 911 was, it would’ve been much worse if God hadn’t interfered. Satan didn’t want survivors. Neither did the terrorists.
How do we handle all the loss of all the other lives? By remembering God’s perfect love and wisdom. By trusting His character.
We Want to Be Sovereign Too
Knowing and being grateful that God is sovereign, doesn’t stop us from wanting to be sovereign, too.
Both Christians and non-Christians want to be sovereign. Even when we don’t believe that’s our desire, deep down it is. It’s just the nature of our sin nature.
If we don’t accept that ugly truth, or we’re unaware of the inner struggle, we’ll continue to fight and lose. We’ll live a frustrated, exhausting yo-yo life.
The roots of our faith will be too shallow to hold us in the storm.
If we accept the truth of our sovereign-envy, we’ll keep our radar up.
We’ll pay attention to the inner battle and determine to ignore the pull to fight God for sovereignty and choose to trust Him instead.
Like oak trees with deep roots, we’ll feel the storm but it won’t uproot us.
We’ll remain rock solid, ruled by peace not panic.
Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, Unless the Lord has commanded it? (Lamentations 3:37)
All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him:
“What have you done?”
Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.
But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.
“I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)