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Silence: Blessings in Disguise

“The loveliest gifts sometimes come wrapped in the ugliest paper.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo

 

I call out to God, but the heavens are silent. My words seem to fall on deaf ears and my suffering continues. In anger I cry out to God, “where is your goodness, where is your love”– I know you hear my voice, why don’t you answer, why don’t you respond to my desperate pleas?

If your relationship with God sometimes feels like this, you are not alone. When stretched to our limits and in the fight for our life, when darkness seems to be winning and we are overcome with betrayals, addictions, health issues and we can’t find answers, we question God.

But what if our tears, hardships, pain and suffering in this life is really blessings in disguise. What if God purposes these situations to remind us this is not our home, to draw us closer to the cross and to thirst after Him? I believe God hears our cries; he listens and is continually proactive in our life.

We will never understand the inner workings of God in our life but one thing is certain, when life frightens us or gets us down—or when life seems like a battle ground and we feel like we’re alone on the battlefield—our omnipresent God is with us in every moment of any life situation.

In our valleys, when the heavens are silent, when doubt, fear, and transition overwhelm us, we must encourage one another and cling even closer to God. There is no nook and cranny of space that is absent of His presence. Whether you’re aware of it, or not, God is there.

I too, experience seasons of silence in my faith.  Sometimes they are short-lived, other times they seem like forever. Right now is one of those forever seasons for me.  It’s a conscious effort to forge ahead when God is mute and I am overcome by doubt and spiritual aloneness.

My journey with God has become a test of trust, a time to embrace and accept that His silence may actually be a blessing in disguise. Is this a time of training; is there something He wants to teach me? Whatever the reason, it will take as long as it takes and in the process my companions will be darkness and loneliness.

But dawn always follows darkness; loneliness is dispelled at daybreak and intimacy is restored.

“If you let God’s silence do its work, you will come out the other side knowing that you’re not alone, that God longs for deeper intimacy with you, that he’s worth trusting for the journey, and that you’re stronger than ever.”   ― Verla Wallace

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God Doesn’t Need Us

21bb469bd758a78d363986998129d056Contrary to what you might think, believe or been taught, the truth is God doesn’t need us. He is already all-powerful, all-knowing, and omnipresent. He isn’t a God who needs anything, and that includes us. He doesn’t need our faith, our prayers, our love, and He doesn’t need our praise.

Some have suggested God created man because He needed someone to love Him or He needed someone to love. False truth!

He is the creator of all and He is above all, as the Apostle Paul said in Acts 17:24-25,

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands; And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, He himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”

We Are Arrogant

God has plans that are better than we have for ourselves but we think we know better. We dismiss him until finding ourselves in need or in a hopeless situation. We can’t remember the last time we read our Bible or actually pursued Him with all our heart, soul and mind. (Matthew 22:37). But the minute we find ourselves in dire straits we look to God for an easy bailout. We treat Him like He’s a Genie in the bottle ready to grant us our three (selfish) wishes.

But God Never Listens

God is always listening, but we aren’t.  To truly find answers and help from the Lord, we must search our spiritual heart. Is there anything we aren’t doing that He told us to do? When we repeatedly hardened our heart to His call we stop listening and become obedient to our desires, not His.

We Need God

As depraved, in-corrupt people we have nothing to give to God, but yet He wants us. Left on our own, we would have never gone to Him. He came to us for our need, not the other way around. We can understand and appreciate Him more for who He truly is, and for all He has done for us when we fully digest that God loves us.

Consider this:

God sent His only Son to die a horrific, painful death on the Cross even though He didn’t need us. He did it because He knew we needed Him. That’s love, that’s grace, that’s mercy and that is mind boggling. God doesn’t need me, but He WANTS me. He wants me to see my need for Him. He wants me to desire His ways, He wants me to seek after Him and He wants to spend eternity with me.

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Ebenezer Stone

…the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12

I recently attended a prayer project study group hosted through my local church. During the time of sharing a biblical term was mentioned that I had long forgotten: Ebenezer Stone

As the group leader enlightened us to the meaning, the freshness of God’s mercies were aroused within me. I was reminded that God never fails to show up in our time of need. His arrival time is always divinely appointed.

What is Ebenezer?

Ebenezer means, “stone of help.” Under King Samuel’s leadership (1 Samuel 7), Israel experienced a renewal of their faith. Led by Samuel the Israelites gathered at the location of Mizpah to present sacrifices to the Lord as atonement for their sins. The nation repented of their sins, destroyed their idols and earnestly committed to obey God’s Laws.

When Israel’s enemy, the Philistines, heard that the people had gathered in Mizaph they planned a sneak attack to catch the Israelites off-guard. But God supernaturally intervened with loud thunder. It threw the Philistines into mass confusion and the Israelite Army overwhelming defeated them.

To commemorate the victory, Samuel erected a monolith (a large, tooth-shaped piece of rock or stone) near the city Mizpah as a reminder to the Israelites of what the Lord had done for them that day.

Raise your Ebenezer?

Samuel was a wise and Godly man with a good idea. He recognized something that’s true about human nature—we’re forgetful. At Ebenezer, Israel could stand next to that big old rock and remind themselves, “Yes, we serve a living and faithful God, whose mercies are everlasting.”

It is important to remember. In doing so, we raise our own Ebenezer and place value and recognition on God’s divine help, mercy and restoration in our life. It’s a testimony of thanks and praise of his faithfulness.

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Be a Barnabas

Encourage: to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence

In my walk with Christ, I desire to be an encourager. Whether in word or deed, I pray God inspires and quickens me to share sincere, heartfelt encouragement with others.

In the book of Acts there is a person named Joseph.  Joseph was an encourager.  So much so that you know him by another name, Barnabas, translated as “son of encouragement”.  My challenge is to become a Barnabas in my Christian walk.

It is so easy to find what is wrong with someone, but an encourager pauses before opening their mouth. They seek to share the positive and are quick to offer words of praise. I want to look close at the faces of people and see in their eyes the desperate longing for understanding and cry for a few words of encouragement.

William Barclay once said,

“One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement. … It is easy to laugh at man’s ideals. It is easy to pour cold water on the enthusiasm. It is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.”

Jesus affirmed and strengthened the weak, the lonely and unwanted. He listened to their spoken words but was equally attentive to their feelings, silence and actions.

As I look back over my life, there have been times of discouragement and struggles. In those times, it was the encouraging words or actions of others that assisted me to push past the adversity.

We need more Barnabas’s in this world!

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God’s Appointed Seasons

fall-leaves-on-deck

There was not the usual gentle, graceful swaying of tree branches on the lake today. Gusty autumn winds prevailed as if driven by a higher power with a divine purpose. I watched as leaves fluttered to the ground fated for a season of change.

Repeated attempts to clear the avalanche of leaves from the deck proved futile and I gave up. This was a God appointed season change; my continual raking wasn’t going to change anything.

 “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—“
Ecclesiastics 3:1

We have two choices when God assigns a seasonal change to our life–take pause or face down. In past years, I would have assumed a face down attitude… “You want to get confrontational with me, God? Well, you got it!” That demeanor didn’t set well with the Master of the universe.

And so, He gifted me with life experiences that fused rebellion with knowledge. It forever changed my view of God’s seasonal changes within my personal life. I now see autumn’s fallen, withered leaves as heavenly compost that conditions the soil of my soul to sprout new growth.

God’s ebb tide for the seasons of our life continually changes.  From the time of our conception, a spiritual blueprint was designed for each of us. It is divinely drafted to meet not only our eternal needs, but to point us in the seasonal direction of our earthly needs.  That’s the beauty of our Lord.

Are you are being tossed and swayed by current life circumstances?

My past life reads like a best-selling novel and certainly not something you would expect from a preacher’s daughter. But God’s grace changed the seasons of my life into something miraculous. I encourage you to trust in the Lord and let Him orchestrate the season of your imperfect life.

 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”  Matthew 10:30-31

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When Silence is Golden

silence_is_golden

To discover peace in the midst of commotion and uproar is absolutely precious. I sometimes fall prey to the emotional abyss others unknowingly heap upon me (or I willingly accept). Silence becomes my golden egg.

There is a risk of being buried alive when we allow our purpose and goals to be driven by the emotional needs of others. It is self-sabotage to ingest a daily influx of someone’s personal garbage that causes us to spout off and speak our mind when silence might have been a better choice.

When confronted with life choices gone badly we feel vulnerable and threatened.  We assume a combative attitude toward those we love when offered unsolicited opinions, opposing views or words of encouragement. In frustration, a verbal warfare is set in motion.

In those moments when our motives seem to be driven by anger, remorse or lack of judgement, it is best to cloak oneself in silence. Silence is not an inherent trait of mankind; it is learned through careful consideration of what we value as important in our life.

I love this quote by Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook (movie).

“We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.”

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!  –Psalms 141:3

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Confessions of a Doing-Addict

ludwig-wittgenstein-quotes-18650Those who know me well will agree I have an exceptionally kind heart and caring nature; that is the good part. Unfortunately, it is my inability to recognize the obvious warning signs of a ‘doing addict’ that causes problems.

Sometimes it takes an epiphany, a thunderbolt moment so to speak, before we hit the pause button in life, inhale deeply and ask, “What does enough look like?” I was about to find out when a thunderbolt moment jolted me to my senses. Perhaps God realized I would never push the pause button; and so, He did it for me.  It was a spiritual awakening long overdue.

An over-giving, doing-addict situation was about to bring clarity about how I valued myself.  Once the haze of deception cleared, my partnership with self-sabotage was revealed. It was MY thunderbolt moment. What internal anomaly caused me to give greater value to the life of others over my own?

I liken myself to an ATM with a dysfunctional operating system that disperses withdrawals carte blanche to anyone who expresses a need. Trust me, random free-loaders aren’t the only ones who are quick to cash in on the fringe benefits of a giving heart; so are many Christians.

Overtime, logic rules and the inevitable happens—the doing-addict goes bankrupt.  Without withdrawal limits in place, energy, happiness, time and money are depleted. I knew it was time for God to restore my operating system. My good-intentions, over-giving energies needed a purposeful balance. My ‘doing addict’ days were numbered.

And so, to gain insight into those situations that trigger my self-destructive choices, I have elected to participate in a behavioral management program that, I believe, will rehabilitate and bring a positive change to my eternal thumbprint.

I wholeheartedly embrace this opportunity as a way to cultivate spiritual growth, redefine my goals and give God free reign to my thunderbolt moment.

With the imminent second coming of Christ, my soul senses the Holy Spirit stands ready to infuse each of us with thunderbolt moments that electrify our souls to God’s eternal purpose for mankind.  Life circumstances may differ for each of us, but when God points a thunderbolt moment in our direction, it is best to embrace it with open arms. It will change us in ways we never imagined.

Motivated by good-intentions, doing-addicts inevitably assume the role of an enabler and react to situations based on their impulses. This presents a problem because to exercise our will over God’s divine direction puts us at risk of spiritual, emotional and/or financial bankruptcy.