Susan Jane King

Thriving with Jesus in life's ongoing challenges

When Cancer Strikes

Doug and his family at his recent birthday celebration

My husband’s brother Doug has a brain tumor. He had surgery right before Christmas to remove half of the softball-sized mass, which doctors are calling stage 4 glioblastoma. He began radiation and chemotherapy treatments this week. Doug is 59 years old. He has a lovely wife Betty and three precious daughters, Stacey, Stephanie, and Sally. He’s a brilliant engineer who works on aerospace technologies. And he has cancer.

It’s amazing how life slows down when you hear words like “cancer”. We walked around in a numbed state for days after we learned the diagnosis. Sometimes, life just doesn’t make sense. In an instant, you move beyond the ordinary routines of daily living, and you find yourself engulfed by the mysterious, unpredictable elements of life this side of heaven.

Although we are in the early stages of this journey, the Lord has taught me a great deal already.

We don’t have to figure it out

At times like these, I’m so glad there is Someone wiser, stronger, and more capable than me in charge of the universe. I don’t have to figure everything out because the Lord already has the world in His loving and competent hands.

I’m choosing not to focus on the “Why” of this season; instead, I’m trying to look at the “Who”—the Lord who is over it all. We have a sweet history together, and He is the same God during this season (and after it) as He was before it. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8  ) The Lord is faithful, loving, compassionate, and gracious, and He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly beyond anything we can ask or think (Lamentations 3:21-24 ; Ephesians 3:20).

Once, when I was much younger, I went to talk with my mom about something that was really bothering me. It was as if I went to her and handed her that broken part of my life, asking her to fix it. A strange thing happened during that conversation. I found my focus moving off the problem and onto her. I felt better just being with her. The problem didn’t hold me in that vice grip of panic any longer because I was with someone who loved me deeply. I was safe.

The Lord is teaching me to do the same with Him. He’s the strong tower I can run to and be safe (Proverbs 18:10). “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NASB). My problems dim in the light of His presence. He’s the greater reality over every crisis, fear, discouragement, and uncertainty. He is God. I don’t have to figure everything out. I can choose to just rest in Him. I can let God be God.

We can fight the good fight of faith

The scriptures refer to faith as a fight (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7). It’s not a casual undertaking. Faith is forged in the crucible of life where we decide if we are going to believe God—who He is and what He says about Himself and us. We can choose to dig our heels into our position in Christ and the victory He has won for us (Ephesians 6:13; Romans 8:37). We can wield the sword of His Word against the enemy’s lies and tactics (Ephesians 6:17). We can learn from the Holy Spirit how to fight the enemy in the battles of life (Judges 3:1-2). It can be exhausting at times, but our faith grows in the process. In the end, the Lord can even use those faith-building experiences of ours to bless others (Luke 22:32).

We can choose to praise God

Why choose to praise God in the midst of difficulty? We don’t praise Him for the difficulty. We praise Him for who He is in the midst of it, and for His ability to work out His plans for our good and His glory. Personally, I’ve found that praising God gives me a better perspective; it helps me refocus on the Lord and the fact that He always has a plan. I can’t always see His plan, but He does. He accomplishes His plans, and the scriptures tell us His plans are good, acceptable, and perfect (Romans 12:2).  He is always at His work, and we can praise Him for that (John 5:17). He promises He “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NASB). We may not know what that particular “good” is, but He does. We can praise Him for being able to do that.

This past Christmas, a friend of mine gave me a bracelet that says “HOPE”. I’m wearing it a lot these days. The biblical definition of hope is a confident expectation. In other words, in the midst of it all, we put our confident expectation in the Lord, that He has everything under control, that He takes care of us and those we love, that He has a plan. Job, who encountered a great deal of suffering in his life, said, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him” (Job 13:15, NASB). Our Lord is the God of hope (Romans 15:13). We can praise Him for that.

We are in the early part of our journey with Doug’s cancer. We sure would appreciate your prayers for him and his family. We don’t know where this road will take us, but we know Who is walking alongside us. He continues to set our hearts on fire as we walk and talk with Him (Luke 24:32). I’m discovering as we walk this road together that He is not just part of our lives. He is our life, and He makes the journey so beautiful because He is there.

Question: What journey are you walking with the Lord, and how can we pray for you? Comment at the link below.

 

Hebrews 13:8; Lamentations 3:21-24 ; Ephesians 3:20; Proverbs 18:10; Psalm 46:1; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7; Ephesians 6:13; Romans 8:37; Ephesians 6:17; Judges 3:1-2; Luke 22:32; Romans 12:2; John 5:17; Romans 8:28; Job 13:15; Romans 15:13; Luke 24:32

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Putting the Puzzle Together

Landon with some of the block puzzle pieces

My grandson Landon has developed a fascination with puzzles lately—well, mostly carrying around the pieces and depositing them where he likes. I thought I would help cultivate this interest and skill by purchasing him a new puzzle, so I looked on Amazon and ordered him one. It was a chunky wooden block puzzle for toddlers that allows a child to create 6 different puzzles by the way he positions the blocks. The completed puzzles each featured a brightly colored vehicle like a fire truck or bus. When I presented Landon with the new toy, he picked up all 9 blocks, carried them over to the magazine rack, and dumped them inside. I sat him down on the floor and started showing him how to make a picture from the pieces. He laughed, gathered up the blocks again, and tossed them in the air. Okay, I thought to myself, he’s not ready for this yet.

The truth is, we all encounter puzzles in our lives. Sometimes, like my grandson, we just can’t seem to make all the pieces fit together, to get a clear picture of God’s design for our lives. Right now, all 4 of my children are dealing with different puzzles in their lives, trying to figure out how everything fits together. I’ve been praying for them, and here’s what the Lord has shown me.

God sees the bigger picture

When I look at just one piece of the block puzzle I got for Landon, it doesn’t make sense. The colors and patterns don’t seem right on their own, but when I put them all together, I can see the grand design. It’s that way with our lives. God sees the bigger picture. He possesses the best plan, the best design, for our lives. We have to choose to trust Him when we don’t see how things fit together.

The Lord tells us, ““For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:9, NASB). Our all-wise, all-loving Father has everything under control.

I looked at the packaging for the puzzle I got Landon and realized the puzzle was made for 4-year-olds. Landon is two. He doesn’t have the capacity to understand the puzzle design at this point. It’s the same for us. Our finite minds cannot comprehend the limitless wisdom, infinite grace, and all-surpassing love of our Father in heaven. We have to believe He sees the bigger picture and is working out all things for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28-29).

He tells us in His Word, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely” (1 Corinthians 13:12, NLT). Mirrors in Biblical times were made of metal, so reflections in them were blurred and unclear (kind of like looking at your face in a polished metal pot, where the reflection is distorted and fuzzy). In other words, life can be uncertain, confusing, and cloudy this side of heaven, but we are promised we will understand everything once we see the Lord face to face. Our job now is to trust the Lord with the big picture of our lives.

We can proclaim, “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You” (Psalm 56:3, NLT). We can say in our hearts, “When anxiety is great within me, I am going to rely on Your consolations Lord to bring me joy” (based on Psalm 94:19, NIV). That word trust means to hide for refuge, to trust, be confident, or sure. Other words for consolation are comfort, compassion, empathy, help, encouragement, reassurance, and relief. In other words, we can give the puzzles in our lives to the Lord and expect Him to take care of them in His caring way. He knows how all the parts fit together for the greater good.

God puts the puzzle together

Since I am older and wiser than my grandson at this point, I am going to continue working with him to show him how the block puzzle fits together. I am going to put it together with him.

On a much higher lever, the Lord knows how everything fits together in our lives, and He is the One who makes it all align. “The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you’” (Psalm 32:8, NLT).

We are wise when we allow Him to lead us in joining the pieces, in putting the puzzle together. We experience a deep intimacy and connection with Him when we do, a prize far greater than even the completed puzzle. Again, trust serves as the key to unlocking this gift. Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT, says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”  The best part is you will be walking that path with Him.

Through it all, we can rely on what He tells us: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

The puzzle of your life is beautiful and unique

The puzzling circumstances in each of our lives have come from the hand of One who loves us beyond measure. They are meant to refine and shape us to take on the image of Jesus for the world to see (2 Corinthians 3:18).

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them,” (Ephesians 2:10, NASB). That word workmanship means a fabric, as woven together like a tapestry; a masterpiece.

Yes, all the pieces of our lives come together in the Master Craftsman’s hands to create a beautiful work of art. When others gaze upon our lives, may they ultimately see the overwhelming beauty of the Lord Himself (Psalm 27:4).

I’m hoping my grandson will soon get to experience the thrill of seeing his puzzle come together and realizing an amazing picture lies within it. May the Lord do the same for all of us as we entrust our puzzles to Him.

Question:  How has the Lord shown up in the puzzles of your life? Comment at the link below.

 

Isaiah 55:9; Romans 8:28-29; 1 Corinthians 13:12; Psalm 56:3; 94:19; 32:8; Proverbs 3:5-6; Jeremiah 29:11; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:10; Psalm 27:4

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Helping Others in the Race

Sarah and David before their swim

My husband David and daughter Sarah completed an Ironman competition last weekend in Panama City Beach, Florida. The full-day event involved swimming 2.4 miles in the ocean, biking 112 miles, and running a marathon (26.2 miles). Sarah started doing the Ironman competition with her dad 4 years ago, and David has been participating in the Ironman for 7 years. This year’s event especially touched my heart because of the way I saw David and Sarah interacting as father and daughter. It reminded me of how we need to look out for one another in the body of Christ and to be intentional about helping one another as followers of Jesus.

Look for them

The first part of the Ironman competition involves swimming 2.4 miles in the ocean. The triathletes swim out into the ocean, following a long line of buoys that create a path similar to a giant upside down U. They come out of the ocean and then go back into it to swim the same path once again. After his first swim circuit, David came up to me and Sarah’s husband Ben, and asked, “Where’s Sarah? Have you seen her yet?” He smiled when we told him she had just re-entered the ocean seconds before him. He was looking for her. When he completed his swim and came out of the ocean the second time, he asked about Sarah again. He grinned once more when we told him she had already finished her swim. He was continuing to look for her.

We’ve got to watch out for one another in life. Those of us with more experience in the race need to be looking after those with less experience. We need to be watching for those “athletes” who might need a little help along the way. Paul had his Timothy in the Bible. He called Timothy, “my true child in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2, NASB). Paul looked out for Timothy and encouraged him in his walk with the Lord. Paul said he desired that Timothy would experience the true “grace, mercy and peace [that is] from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (1 Timothy 1:2, NASB). We can all pray that the Holy Spirit would open our eyes to the younger ones we can come alongside. We can always be looking for them.

When we do that, we are looking through the eyes of Jesus. He looked at us and saw our need for a Savior, and He showed up alongside us to help. He, being God, took on flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).  “For the joy set before Him, [He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2, NASB). He looked ahead and saw us—those who would be saved by His sacrifice—and that was the “joy set before Him” as He “endured the cross.” When we look for others we can point to Him, we are joining Him in what is near and dear to His heart.

David and Sarah biking together

Love them

Before the Ironman began, David told me he wanted to do the bike and run portions with Sarah. He wanted to experience the event alongside his daughter. Deep down, I knew David was expressing his great love for Sarah in that decision. He was going to be blessed by the experience, but it also required sacrifice on his part. He was not going to be able to complete the Ironman at his regular biking and running pace. He would have to change his pace to stay with Sarah. He’s tall, with long legs. Sarah is shorter. Any cyclist or runner will tell you that you have to find your own pace and stick with it. David was going to have to make some adjustments that might affect his body physically as well as the timing of his race results. He knew going through the race with his daughter was worth it.

That’s sacrificial love. In the New Testament, the word for love, Christ-like love, is agape. It means an unconditional, unrelenting love, a determined goodwill that seeks another’s best interests. That’s how David chose to love his daughter, and that’s how Jesus chose to love us. Philippians 2:4-8, NASB, says, “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  In other words, Jesus thought of us and did what was in our best interests, going to the cross for our sakes. He emptied Himself, literally laid aside His privileges as God, and loved us to the end (John 13:1). Jesus said this in John 15:13, NASB: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

Each of us can ask the Lord to show us people we can love in His name. It will probably require sacrifice on our part, but when we do, we are obeying Jesus’ commandment: “that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, NASB).

David and Sarah running the marathon

Encourage them

Since David decided to bike and run alongside Sarah, he was able to encourage her the entire time. He was able to draw from his many years of triathlon experience to advise her along the way. He reminded her when she needed to eat or drink in order to have enough nutrition. He kept track of their pace and made recommendations for when they should speed up or slow down. He kept the finish line in mind the entire time and kept them focused on the reward. Sarah received his advice and benefitted from it. When Ben and I met them halfway through the marathon, we both commented on how good they looked—healthy and strong, because they were running together.

We are instructed to “encourage one another and build up one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NASB). In fact, we are commanded to “encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today’” (Hebrews 3:13, NASB). The Lord knows we need encouragement, and He gives us the blessing of being able to encourage one another in Him.

Jesus Himself encourages us as we run the race of life too. He says, “‘Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:20, NASB). He stays with us all the way to the finish line, telling us we can do all things through Him because He strengthens us and meets all our needs (Philippians 4:13, 19). He guides, protects, and defends us (John 10:11, 14-17), and He sees us through to the finish line and our eternal reward (John 14:1-3, Revelation 22:12).

David and Sarah crossing the finish line

When David and Sarah crossed the finish line of their Ironman competition, I cheered with all my heart. I was so proud of both of them, and I was extremely grateful to witness what can happen when we decide to look for, love, and encourage one another in this race called life. Jesus goes with us as we race, and we’re truly blessed when we get to experience Him in one another.

Sarah and David with their 2017 Ironman medals

 

Question:         Who has looked for, loved, and encouraged you in your race of life? Comment at the link below.

 

1 Timothy 1:2; John 1:14; Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 2:4-8; John 13:1, 34-35; 15:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13; Matthew 28:20; Philippians 4:13, 19; John 10:11, 14-17; 14:1-3; Revelation 22:12

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The Fabric of Our Hearts

My mother, Sarah, and I with the special fabric heart

My daughter Sarah got married recently. Before her wedding day, she took some of the lace from my mother’s wedding dress, the same dress I wore for my wedding, and she sewed it into her dress in the shape of a heart. She surprised both of us with it on the day she got married.

That heart, hidden from view during the entire ceremony, reflected a great truth: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). The Lord always sees our hearts, and He tells us over and over in His Word that He cares about the fabric of our hearts—what’s in them, what flows out of them, and how we control them.

Inflows

We each decide what we will allow into our hearts, and those things influence us. That’s why Philippians 4:8, NASB, says, “ Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” That word dwell means to store up as inventory [in the mind, heart]. The Lord wants us to store up good things in our hearts, so we will be healthy spiritually, in the same way our doctors want us to eat nutritious food versus junk food in order to have healthy bodies.

Inflows come through what we allow ourselves to see, hear, and experience. Jesus said, “‘The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness’” (Luke 11:34, NASB). He even went as far as to say, “‘If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you’” (Matthew 18:9, NASB). He wasn’t encouraging people to gouge out their eyes, but He was directing them to set up appropriate boundaries—to even refuse to allow their eyes to see certain things—so that they could live abundant lives spiritually, emotionally, and physically and not be hurt by sin.

Our ears also bring influences into our hearts—the things we listen to and accept.  The scriptures warn us, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4, NASB). In other words, people often listen to things that make them feel good for the moment or that align with what they want, but those teachings aren’t truth and won’t benefit them in the long run. The Lord says, “Listen, O my people, to My instruction; incline your ears to the words of My mouth” (Psalm 78:1, NASB). We are encouraged to treasure His Word in our hearts (Psalm 119:11).

Our hearts are also shaped by the people we allow into our “inner circle” of close friendships. David’s friend Jonathan “encouraged him in God” (1 Samuel 23:16, NASB); whereas, Amnon’s friend Jonadab convinced Amnon to rape his sister and even concocted a plan on how to do it (2 Samuel 13:1-6). Proverbs 27:17, NASB, says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  1 Corinthians 15:33, NASB, warns, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’”

As I looked at the heart on my daughter’s wedding dress, I thought about my mother and the many ways she has shaped the fabric of my heart. She has taught me a great deal about kindness, patience, and love. She inspires me to emulate these qualities. I know her relationship with the Lord produces this beautiful fruit in her life, so she has taught me the importance of that, too.

Outflows

Whatever we allow to influence our hearts also impacts what comes out of our hearts. The Lord wants good to flow out of our lives. That’s why He says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23, NASB). Jesus said, “‘The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart’” (Matthew 12:34, NASB). He also said, “‘For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man’” (Matthew 15:19-20, NASB). That’s why it says in Psalm 19:14, NASB, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” There is a direct line from our hearts to our mouths and actions.

Romans 12:2, NASB, commands us, “ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” In Biblical times, the mind and heart were considered to be the same thing. The word renewing in this verse means renovation. When we renovate a house, we throw out the old stuff and put in the new. With our hearts, it means getting rid of old, worldly thinking and replacing it with the truth in God’s Word. When we do that, God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will can be seen in our lives. We live God’s way for others to see Him in us.

The Control Center

The word heart in the scriptures means the mind, will, and emotions, the control center of our lives. There’s a constant battle over who’s in charge, who operates the control center: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another (Galatians 5:16-17, NASB).

The Lord gave us His Holy Spirit when we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior (Ephesians 1:13-14). The Holy Spirit is our Helper (John 14:26). He lives in our hearts, but we decide if we are going to listen to, trust in, and act on what He says. We can follow His leading or the leading of our flesh. We decide. That’s why the heart is the control center. Ephesians 5:18, NASB, says, “be filled with the Spirit.” I listened to a Walk in the Word radio broadcast recently, where it said, “To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be thoroughly permeated, entirely influenced, and completely controlled by the Holy Spirit.” We decide if that happens in our hearts.

I loved seeing the lace heart sewn into my daughter’s wedding dress. It reminded me of the beautiful hearts the Lord intends for us to have. We just have to release our hearts to Him so He can make them stunning . . . from the inside, out.

Question: What are some ways you have been led to give the Holy Spirit greater control over your heart? Share with us at the link below!

 

1 Samuel 16:7; Philippians 4:8; Luke 11:34;  Matthew 18:9;  2 Timothy 4:3-4; Psalm 78:1; 119:11; 1 Samuel 23:16; 2 Samuel 13:1-6; Proverbs 27:17; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 12:34; 15:19-20; Psalm 19:14; Romans 12:2; Galatians 5:16-17; Ephesians 1:13-14; John 14:26; Ephesians 5:18

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Lessons from the Hummingbird

Sarah and the hummingbird

“Mom, I found a hummingbird on the floor of the garage, and I think it’s hurt,” my daughter Sarah said.

I scurried out the back door and down the steps as Sarah crouched over the tiny bird. Its legs were all tangled up in some sort of string or webbing, and its chest was heaving in and out with irregular movements.

Sarah gently removed the string-like material from its legs.

“It probably is weak from not eating,” I said. “Hummingbirds have high metabolisms, and they need to feed very frequently.”

Sarah scurried off to the kitchen to make some hummingbird nectar. I watched in amazement as she dipped her little finger into the bright red liquid and held a tiny drop up to the delicate bird’s slender beak. I was even more surprised when a sliver-like tongue curled out the bird’s mouth and began drinking the ruby-colored fluid. This process continued for an hour and a half. Then, very carefully, Sarah scooped the beautiful creature into her hands, stepped outside the garage, and raised her cupped hands to the sky. The hummingbird flew off into the distance.

Watching Sarah with that fragile winged beauty reminded me of how the Lord so lovingly cares for each of us.

The Lord stays with us

We all have times when we feel broken. The disturbing diagnosis. The terrifying newscast. The broken relationship. The financial crisis. The heartbreaking loss. When these times hit, we feel like that limp bird on the floor of the garage, weak, vulnerable, and struggling to survive.

In the midst of it all, we can rely on this truth: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, NASB). When we feel numb and broken, He carries us like a loving father carries his son through the wilderness (Deuteronomy 1:31). He promises to never leave or forsake us (Joshua 1:5).

“He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young” (Isaiah 40:11, NLT). Whatever we are facing, we never face it alone. The Lord is always with us (Matthew 28:20). Like the little hummingbird, we are safe in a loving Hand every day of our lives, even those days when we feel overwhelmed and weak

The Lord gives us what we need

In those especially difficult places, the Lord feeds us and helps us grow stronger, just like my daughter did for the little bird. We are told in Psalm 23:1, NLT, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” The New Testament says it this way: “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, NLT).

Because He loves us, He takes care of us. When the prophet Elijah was terrified and exhausted, the Lord gave him food and water and encouraged him to rest (1 Kings 19:1-8). The Lord knows what each of us needs in our current circumstances, and He provides those things for us. We are told, “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength” (Isaiah 40:29, NLT).

He also says, “‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand’” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB). The right hand is the hand of power and authority; in other words, He has the power and authority to provide everything and anything we need. He rained down bread from heaven for the Israelites so they had food every day of the 40 years they wandered in the wilderness. He is able to give us our daily bread too (Matthew 6:11)

The Lord helps us to fly

After our seasons of brokenness, after we have spent time in His presence and experienced His provision, He lifts us up to the sky and enables us to fly.

He promises us, “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:31, NASB). The idea of waiting on the Lord involves waiting confidently and expectantly, trusting in Him, relying on Him. We grow stronger in that place, and He equips us to soar to new heights with Him.

We discover in that place that He is “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NASB). In other words, not only does the Lord help us to fly with Him above and beyond our difficulties, but He also equips us in the process to help others to do the same.

My daughter’s encounter with the hummingbird happened many years ago, but I still remember the truths the Lord taught me through it. May you experience His presence, provision, and power to fly wherever you are today. The Lord is faithful, and He will help you to soar!

Question: How has the Lord helped you to fly? Comment at the link below

Psalm 34:18; Deuteronomy 1:31; Joshua 1:5; Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 28:20; Psalm 23:1; Philippians 4:19; 1 Kings 19:1-8; Isaiah 40:29; Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 6:11; Isaiah 40:31; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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They’re Married! The Lord is Faithful

My daughter Sarah married Ben DeCelle, the love of her life, on September 16. We recently were given a “sneak preview” of their wedding photos by Irresistible Portraits (irresistibleportraits.com). (All the photos in this post were taken by Karen Goforth at Irresistible Portraits.) As I looked at those images, tears welled up in my eyes. Every photo reminded me of the Lord’s faithfulness in bringing these two together and giving them a future full of hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

Sarah and Ben have a beautiful love story, and it reminds me ultimately of the great love Jesus has for each of us. Here are some truths I have witnessed in their relationship:

The Lord wants to bless us with His absolute best

I remember getting a phone call from Sarah one Saturday when she was a junior in college: “Mom, I have been reading my Bible and praying, and the Lord keeps telling me to break up with my boyfriend [not Ben—someone else]. What should I do?”

“If God is telling you to break up with him, then you need to break up with him,” I said.

We talked about it quite a while. It would not be easy. Sarah had invested years in that relationship. She was comfortable in it. But in the end, she broke up with that young man. Two months later, she met Ben. They fit and complement one another so well. They each found “the one” God chose for them.

Sarah set that other young man free to find “the one” for him. He married her, and they have a beautiful little girl together.

God knows and wants the absolute best for us. Because He is all-wise, all-loving, and all-powerful, He knows what that absolute best is, and He can make it happen—if we trust Him and cooperate with His plans. That means trusting and obeying Him, even when He challenges us to step out and do uncomfortable things.

I shared in my comments at the rehearsal dinner that Ben is the young man I have been praying about for 26 years, and the Lord truly answered those prayers exceedingly and abundantly beyond anything I could have asked or imagined (Ephesians 3:20). I know he will love, respect, protect, and provide what Sarah needs, and I know she will do the same for him.

Mr. and Mrs. Ben DeCelle

The union of a man and woman is meant to reflect Christ’s love for us

Husbands are called to love, nourish, and cherish their wives, like Christ loves the church, even sacrificially. Wives are called to respect and honor their husbands like the church respects and honors Christ (Ephesians 5:25-33). In other places in scripture, husbands are told to honor their wives (1 Peter 3:7), and wives are told to love their husbands (Titus 2:4). It’s all about love and respect, seeing value in one another and recognizing the beautiful picture the Lord paints in marriage.

I shared this scripture at the rehearsal dinner: “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NASB). Of course, two of those strands in the cord are husband and wife, and the third strand that holds everything together is the Lord. He loves married couples, and He works to bring them and keep them together.

The Lord tells us we are created for His glory (Isaiah 43:7). In Colossians 1:27, we are told that Christ in us is the hope of glory. In the New Testament the word glory is doxa, and it means glory, as very apparent, to manifest, or give an estimation of; hence [resulting in ] praise, honor, and glory [for the Lord]. In other words, the Lord put some of His qualities in each of us, and He wants them to be seen, that others might be drawn to Him.

When I look at Sarah and Ben, I think of the scripture that says the Lord is both strong and loving (Psalm 59:16). I see the Lord blending these qualities in Sarah and Ben’s marriage.

My husband David shared in his wedding toast that “When you are around Ben, you just get the sense that everything is going to be okay.” He talked about the time Sarah and Ben went skydiving and Ben told him that he was nervous until he saw Sarah’s parachute open. “That resonated with me,” David said. “I know he’s going to look after and take care of Sarah.”

I also shared at the rehearsal dinner how Sarah was sick once, and I was trying to take care of her. Ben said to me, “It’s okay. I’ve got her.” I know he does. I know he will stand by her and lend his strength to care for her.

I also see Sarah fulfilling the “loving” component. She has a deeply caring heart that loves fiercely. I shared at the rehearsal dinner how she found a hummingbird in our garage once. Its legs were all tangled up in some sort of string or webbing. It was very weak from not feeding for a while. Sarah freed its legs, mixed up some hummingbird food, put a drop on her smallest finger, and fed that tiny bird for an hour and a half until it was strong enough to fly.

David shared in his toast how Sarah sent a letter and devotion book to a young mom who lost her baby. We were told at church how that mom kept the book and letter on the nightstand next to her bed for months.

I know Sarah will devotedly love Ben. I also know the love and strength they bring to their marriage will bless others too.

This is just the beginning

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NASB).

The Lord did something beautiful when he brought Sarah and Ben together as husband and wife. I know He will continue to work in and through their marriage to bless one another and to show the world how wonderful He is! He was faithful to bring them together, and He will be faithful to walk with them as husband and wife. I can’t wait to watch the rest of their story!

Question: How has the Lord been faithful in your life? Comment at the link below.

 

Jeremiah 29:11; Ephesians 3:20; Ephesians 5:25-33; 1 Peter 3:7; Titus 2:4; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Isaiah 43:7; Colossians 1:27; Psalm 59:16; Philippians 1:6

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God Gives Us One Another

Some of my family at the lake: Front row–my sister Jennifer and my mom; Middle row–my sister Brenda and I; Back row–my sister Renee, sister-in-law Tonda, cousins Mary Ann and Helen, and Aunt Kathy

I looked around at the many different faces surrounding me, and I whispered a quiet prayer of thanks. “Lord, I love each one of them so much. Thank you for making them a part of my life.”

The many faces belonged to my relatives—strong, loving, wise, gentle, witty, and  compassionate souls I had known for most of my life. We all had gathered at my sister’s lake house for a weekend of fun and fellowship. My mom, sisters, sisters-in-law, aunt, and cousins were in attendance, and we had already laughed and shared our hearts a great deal.

Family. Whether it’s the one we grew up in or the church members we love, family remains a great gift from God. My weekend at the lake in Ohio reminded me that family is a place where we can:

Be Changed

Proverbs 27:17, NASB, says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” In other words, we are shaped by the people around us. We learn from and respond to both the good and bad qualities of other people. We aspire to be the like the good people we know, and hopefully, we desire to be different from the difficult ones.

The Spirit of God aims to develop the qualities of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” in us (Galatians 5:22-23, NASB). Often, He allows us to experience those qualities in others so we will be motivated to become like them. My mother is one of the most kind, compassionate, and loving people I know. I’ve always said I want to be like her when I grow up! My sister Brenda and I joked once that it would be impossible to be as great as Mom, but it’s a good goal to set for ourselves.

Here’s something I have learned:  If I want to be a kinder person, I need to hang around someone who is kind. If I want to be wiser, I need to spend time with someone who is wise. I pray a lot to know the Lord better and love Him more. He gave me my friend Phyllis for a season (before she went home to be with Him) because she knew and loved Him with her whole heart.

I have prayed to be more hospitable, and the Lord has allowed me to spend time with my sister Jennifer, who always knows how to make people feel welcome and comfortable. Once when I stayed at her house, she presented me with two bed pillows and asked if I preferred the flat or fluffy one! She created several gluten-free foods for me when I visited her recently because I am gluten-intolerant. How kind and thoughtful. I want to be like her too when I grow up!

I’ve learned about patience and gentleness from my sister Renee, courage and facing life with a sense of humor from my sister Danielle, and hard work and perseverance from my sister Brenda. (This is not an all-inclusive list.)

Just like our family of origin, God’s family is called to “encourage one another and build up one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NASB. That’s what we are supposed to do for one another. That’s why we are told to keep spending time with each other (Hebrews 10:25) so that we can “consider [thoughtfully] how we may encourage one another to love and to do good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24, AMP).

We also are changed when other Christians share God’s Word with us. We are transformed as our minds become renewed and renovated with the truth (Romans 12:2). We come to know the truth of God’s Word, and the truth sets us free (John 8:32).

Be the Change

Just as we are changed by God’s people around us, we can allow the Lord to use us to impact others for His kingdom. My grandma told me a story once about her son, my Uncle Pat. She said he was hanging out with “a young hooligan” in town during high school. One of her friends took her aside and asked her if she was worried that her son would start becoming like the young man who was always getting in trouble.

My grandma told me she replied to the friend, “I’m not worried one bit. My son is not going to be changed by him. He is going to be changed by my son.” My grandma looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and said, “That’s exactly what happened!”

Jesus says He wants us to be good influencers in this world. He tells us we are salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). Salt is full of flavor and acts as a preservative, stopping the spread of decay. Light dispels the darkness and points the way out of it. If we listen to and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, He can use us to point others to Jesus, who says, “’I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’” (John 14:6, NASB). As we allow the Holy Spirit to develop His fruit in our lives, Jesus can be seen more clearly in us, and hopefully, more people will be drawn to Him.

Since we know and love the God of the Word, we can dedicate ourselves to learning and applying the Word of our God.  Over time, we can become living epistles, known and read by all (2 Corinthians 3:2-3). As my pastor once said, “Your life might be the only Bible someone ever reads.” Of course, the Holy Spirit can also lead us to speak God’s Word in love to others, and that can impact their lives as well (Ephesians 4:15). God’s Word is alive, powerful, life-changing, and full of the Spirit (Hebrews 4:12; John 6:63). When we fill our hearts and minds with it, then God’s Word can flow out of us to be the change in a world that needs it.

Look for Jesus

All the wonderful qualities we experience in others are a reflection of the beautiful and profound qualities found in Jesus. They give us a glimpse of Him. The word Christian means “little Christ”. The Bible says here’s the mystery: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27, NASB).

The word glory in the New Testament means to manifest, give an estimation of; hence [resulting in] praise, honor, glory. In other words, the Lord wants Jesus to be seen in us so others can come to know Him too. He wants us to look for His Son in others too so we can experience more of Him every day, so we can be encouraged and continue to grow.

It’s an ongoing process. Second Corinthians 3:18 (HCSB) says it this way, “We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

That’s why the Lord tells us He can use everything in our lives to make us more like His Son Jesus (Romans 8:28-29), especially the people around us. God gives us one another for this reason. May we continue to bless and be blessed by the presence of Jesus in our lives.

Question: How have you experienced Jesus through the lives of others? Comment at the link below.

 

Proverbs 27:17; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:24-25; Romans 12:2; John 8:32; Matthew 5:13-16; John 14:6; 2 Corinthians 3:2-3; Ephesians 4:15; Hebrews 4:12; John 6:63; Colossians 1:27; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 8:28-29

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The Perfect Fit

Sydney and I in our Great Gatsby dresses

I tore open the bag and slipped out the royal blue dress with sequins, beading, and fringe. I was looking forward to wearing it to my daughter Sarah’s bridal shower. My sister Danielle and sister-in-law Jodi were planning a fun, Great-Gatsby-themed party for her in my hometown of Louisville, Ohio. I pulled the dress down over my head and looked in the mirror. Uh oh. The dress was way too tight on my stomach and hips. I can’t wear this dress, I thought, the fit is all wrong.

Well, maybe I can exchange it for a larger size, I decided. I looked for a return slip in the package and couldn’t find it. I scoured my emails for the notice about the dress. Nothing. I had thrown away the delivery box and couldn’t even find the name of the company that sent the dress. I guess I’ll just have to find another dress, I concluded. Then it hit me. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:8, NLT).

So I prayed, “Lord, will you please provide a dress for me to wear? I would like something comfortable and modest and pretty. What would You like me to wear?”

I prayed that way because I didn’t want “finding a dress” to be a distraction during this happy time. I prayed that way because I know the Lord loves me and cares about me and interests Himself in even the little details of our lives. I prayed that way because I want to dress for Him. Little did I know that He was going to teach me some important lessons about “the perfect fit.” Here is what He showed me:

The Lord can do way beyond what we try to do for ourselves.

I wish I could say I dropped the issue after my prayer. In a sense, I did wait for God to answer, but in another sense, I tried to “help Him” provide an answer. I went to two different consignment stores, thinking, Maybe the dress God has for me is here. I even bought a low-priced dress from each store, but neither of them felt right when I wore them. I looked through my closet and found a plain, black dress that I could wear with some fancy jewelry. I even tried the blue dress on several times to see if it really was that bad (and it was). I drove up to Ohio with all four dresses in tow. I modeled all four of those dresses to my mom and Sarah, and we decided on the plain, black one. I could live with that, I thought, but it wasn’t the perfect fit. I knew it deep down.

The day before the shower, I got a call from my sister Danielle. “The dress I ordered for the party is too tight on me, and I’m not going to wear it. Would you like to try it?,” she said. “Sure, why not?,” I answered. We decided she would drop it off at my mom’s house, and I would swing by and try it on briefly before we drove to the party. I got ready in my plain, black dress and jewelry. “You look nice in that; I think that dress would be fine to wear,” my sister Jennifer said after I got ready at her house. But when we walked into my mom’s house and saw Danielle’s dress hanging on the china cabinet, Jennifer said, “Woah! You need to try on that dress!”

It was a beautiful, black, 1920s-style dress with black sequins and tiny multicolored beads that created lovely, intricate patterns all over the fabric. I went to another room to slip on the dress. When it slid over my head, it felt so comfortable. I liked the length and the style. I walked to the living room to look in a mirror there, and when I rounded the corner, my sister exclaimed, “That dress is beautiful on you, and it fits you perfectly! You have to wear that dress!” I looked in the mirror, and I knew God had provided the dress I was supposed to wear. We got in the car and drove to the bridal shower.

I learned from that experience that I should stop trying to “work things out” in my own strength. If I ask God to do something, He “is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20, NASB). He always has “the perfect fit” in answer to our prayers. He can do so much more than we can do ourselves, and His plans are always “good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2, NASB). He knows what is best for us because He knows us far more intimately than we know ourselves (Psalm 139:1-4). He wants us to trust Him, knowing He desires to bless us abundantly (Jeremiah 29:11).

The Lord’s perfect fit sometimes involves someone else.

Before my sister Danielle offered her lovely dress to me, I had offered my blue dress to her daughter Sydney. When Sydney arrived in that dress, everyone at the party noticed. It fit her perfectly, and she looked stunning in it with her red hair and beautiful complexion. Lots of people at the party told her how beautiful she looked, and it opened the door for conversations between her and the guests. I watched as she radiated beauty while interacting with the people at the party. I’m not just talking about how she looked. The dress created an opportunity to engage with Sydney, and when people did, they could see she was beautiful inside and out. It’s a tough world for teenagers these days. Most teens I know want to feel valued, loved, and accepted. The blue dress opened some doors for Sydney to experience those feelings. It was meant for her. It was her “perfect fit.”

Philippians 2:3-4, NASB, says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” In other words, sometimes, when life goes in an unexpected direction, it’s about someone else and not us. I rejoiced to see what God was doing for Sydney because my blue dress didn’t fit me. I’m going to ask God to help me see the bigger picture in all my disappointments, to show me someone He wants to bless through that situation. He always see the bigger picture, and I can trust Him when I don’t.

The Lord’s perfect fit is for our good and His glory.

I waited a while between the time of my prayer and God’s answer. He taught me so much during that time about waiting on Him. Psalm 27:14, NASB, says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” That word wait carries the idea of waiting confidently and expectantly. In other words, we put our confidence and expectation in God. We know He loves, protects, and provides for us, and we choose to hold onto Him and look to Him for our “perfect fit” in every situation. He is so faithful (Lamentations 3:23b).

When the Lord reveals Himself to us in that way, we catch a glimpse of His glory. He also tells us in His Word that He wants us to display His glory too (Isaiah 43:7, Colossians 1:27; 2 Corinthians 3:18). He has given us gifts and has determined places He wants us to use those gifts in order to reveal Himself to others (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). Any fruit that comes from those gifts is a direct result of our relationship with Jesus (John 15:5). All that we are and all that we have are meant to bring glory to God (Matthew 5:16).

Finding the right dress for a party isn’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of life. But it was a big deal to me . . . because of what the Lord taught me through it. He reaches out to us in the big and small events of life because He wants an intimate relationship with each of us, because He loves us. In fact, He provided the perfect fit to our sin problem as evidence of His great love: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NASB). Anyone can receive God’s free gift of salvation by believing in what Jesus did and by receiving Him as Lord and Savior. God’s solution is one size fits all: “ But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12, NASB). Won’t you embrace His perfect fit today?

Question: How has the Lord provided a perfect fit in your life? Comment at the link below.

1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 3:20; Romans 12:2; Psalm 139:1-4; Jeremiah 29:11; Philippians 2:3-4; Psalm 27:14; Lamentations 3:23b; Isaiah 43:7, Colossians 1:27; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; John 15:5; Matthew 5:16; John 3:16; 1:12

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Nothing is Impossible with God!

Pfeiffer graduation

Eighteen years ago, doctors told us our son Patrick was autistic, mentally retarded, and might not ever speak. A few weeks ago, Patrick graduated magna cum laude from Pfeiffer University. He sang “Corner of the Sky” at commencement, which is all about finding your place in this world. Those in attendance gave him a standing ovation, and the president of the university cried.

Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). The Lord has the final say about how things will go, and we can trust Him to work out everything from a position of power and authority and a heart of love and compassion.

It is hard to see that sometimes when we are in the middle of difficult or even overwhelming circumstances. But we can trust the heart of God, and we can choose to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). It’s in that process of walking by faith and not by sight that we get to discover more about our loving Lord, and we get to open our lives to His perfect plans. That’s where He moves to do the impossible, and where we fall on our faces in awe.

I know this because I have been there. After all these years, I got to see what God was doing as I watched my son sing at graduation and receive a college diploma. Yes, the accomplishments are amazing, compared to the world’s predictions. Yet, the most blessed part was learning to choose faith over fear and discouragement during countless challenges and trials . . . and in the process, learning more about and drawing closer to a Lord who is eternally faithful and good.

We can count on these truths when we are overwhelmed:

God is able.

God makes over 8,000 promises to us in the Bible. He says He works everything together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). He says He brings beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3). He promises we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). He also tells us He has magnified His Word according to His name (Psalm 138:2). In other words, what He says is on the same level as who He is; He is able to keep His promises to us because He is God! We can put our confidence in what He says because He said it.

When we are overwhelmed, we have a choice to make: Will we trust what God says, or will we go with feelings or worldly messages that would lead us in a different direction. Every overwhelming place is an opportunity to choose faith, to believe that God “is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Ephesians 3:20, NASB).

God is enough.

When I first found out Patrick had autism, I cried out to God. I told Him how life was going to be so hard for Patrick and how that broke my heart. I told Him I didn’t feel equipped to raise a special needs child. I told Him, “I can’t do it!” That’s when I heard Him whisper to my heart, “You’re right, you can’t. But WE can. Will you trust Me?” I realized at that moment I was feeling so broken because I wasn’t trusting Him. I was looking at myself and my resources instead of my loving Father, who could meet my every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

God is enough. “If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32, NASB). When the Lord is on our side, we have everything and anything we will ever need. We have HIM.

God has a plan.

The secret: It’s not about us. The truth: God allows us to experience the overwhelming so that we and others can learn that He overwhelms the overwhelming. He is great and worthy of all praise. That verse in Ephesians 3:20 is followed by, “to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:21). The word glory means to manifest [show, display], to give an estimation of. It carries the idea of making God known, allowing Him to be seen.

The impossible place, that overwhelming circumstance, is where Jesus can be seen and experienced by a world that needs Him. When we yield up those impossible places to Him, not only do we draw closer to Him, but He also can use us to draw all men to Himself (John 12:32). That’s the stuff that matters, the stuff that lasts long after the overwhelming places fade away.

Patrick and I now have the great blessing of telling others what God has done. Through our book Optimism for Autism, speaking engagements, and personal encounters with others, we can share with others that: God is able. God is enough. God has a plan.

Whisper those words to your heart the next time you are overwhelmed.

Here is a link to Patrick singing “Corner of the Sky” at the Pfeiffer University commencement. As you watch it, remember, “Nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37, NASB).

Please feel free to share this blog and video link to encourage others about the God of hope (Romans 15:13).

Question: How has the Lord shown you that nothing is impossible with Him? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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Cutting Our Teeth

DSC_0716

My grandson Landon with his parents, my son-in-law Curt and daughter Katie

My grandson Landon is cutting his first teeth. Two little white pearls are emerging through his bottom gums. While the rest of us are excited about this new development, our little man now sometimes trades his winning smile for a little furrow between his eyebrows and uncharacteristic fussiness. It hurts. Even though cutting teeth will open up a whole new world of experiences for him and will benefit him tremendously in the long run, right now it’s painful.

The same can be said for our spiritual lives. The Lord says He is constantly working in our lives to make us more like Jesus (Romans 8:29). He works in our lives to grow character traits that manifest Jesus to a world that needs Him (Colossians 1:27) so that others might be drawn to Him (Matthew 5:16). But it hurts. Saying no to comfortable bad habits and desires of the flesh isn’t easy. How do we do it?

Relying on the power of God

First of all, we cannot overcome and grow to become more like Jesus by ourselves. We are told we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). His power is meant to come into our weak places and move (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). His power is surpassingly great toward those who believe (Ephesians 1:19). The first step in “cutting our teeth” is relying on the Lord’s power instead of our own.

Obeying the voice of God

If we are truly serious about growing up into the image of Jesus, then we have to cooperate in that process and do what our loving Lord tells us to do. He knows our hearts better than we do (Jeremiah 17:9-10), and He tells us, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8, NASB).

Of course, we have to open our hearts to hear from Him and place ourselves in a position to listen with the intention of doing whatever He says.  We can hear His voice in the Bible, as we pray, as we look and listen for Him throughout our daily circumstances, and in the gathering with other believers at church. We can better hear from Him when we place ourselves in a position to listen.

Rejoicing in the presence of God

Children often take on the attributes of their parents. It comes from spending time with them. The Lord tells us He is always with us (Matthew 28:20) and that He never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5). Unfortunately, we sometimes lose our awareness of His presence because of the world around us. We need to seek Him above the clamor of the world. We can do that by thanking Him for His presence with us, rejoicing when we see His activity around us, and speaking the truths about Him from His Word on a daily basis. As we focus more on Him as we go through each day, His presence becomes more real and intimate, and we grow in our relationship with Him.

Celebrating the purpose of God

No matter what we are experiencing, we can celebrate that our loving, wise Father is always at His work (John 5:17), accomplishing His will, which is always good, acceptable, and perfect (Romans 12:2). His plans are meant to prosper us, not to harm us, to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). At the same time, He wants to impact other lives through us in a way that blesses them and draws them to Jesus (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 5:20).

That process requires growth, but we can know that, while we cut our teeth, the Lord is working in our lives that we might “grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15, NASB).

One day, when his teeth are in, my grandson will get to experience more adventures in eating and better abilities in speaking. His teeth will add greater beauty to his smile and more depth to his facial expressions. His teeth will prove that he is growing up.

May our spiritual growth prove that we are maturing as well, and may that process bring glory to our beloved Jesus!

Question: How is the Lord challenging you and helping you to cut your spiritual teeth right now? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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