Tag Archives: trust

30 Days of Thankful: Day 28

Today’s guest post was written by my friend Ashley nearly three years ago.  I was impressed to post it again today as part of our 30 Days of Thankful.  First, because you will see Ashley’s beautiful and thankful heart.  And second, because looking back, we can now see that God was preparing Ashley for a special calling.  This calling included not only a fourth child (a biological child), but a missions assignment that took Ashley and Peter and their four children to Japan where they are sharing the love of Jesus with this largely unreached nation.  Ashley was open to what she thought was God’s call to adopt a child from Asia–instead, she is now loving many of God’s lost children in this part of the world.  In observing Ashley’s journey,  I’ve come to believe that a trusting and thankful heart is the open door through which God invites us to our destiny.   

GUEST POST:  Ashley McKenzie (February 13, 2013)

God is my Provider. He often reminds me that He can be trusted to meet my every need.  I am humbled that God speaks to me.  I am nothing special.  Many days I feel less than ordinary.  I have no credits to my name, no college degree, no extraordinary skills, no great power of speech or commanding leadership abilities.  All I have is the love of a beautiful Savior—a kind and gentle King who has captured my soul and filled it with life. 

A few months ago, right before Thanksgiving, I was packing up my car for a trip to my parent’s house.  With three children four years old and younger, this is no small feat.  Amazingly, all three kids were in the house napping so I was able to pack the car without distraction.  It was an ordinary day that turned holy in seconds.  I saw an eagle flying right above my head- so close that I could actually hear it soar.  Immediately, I felt The Lord asking me to sit and watch the bird.  My heart was beating out of my chest; I had no choice but to sit and watch this majestic creature.

I watched it for at least 15 minutes as it soared back and forth in front of me until it finally flew away.  Over the next two months, I had the oddest encounters with birds.  And every time God said, “Watch the birds, Ashley.  Watch the birds.”  I had vultures in the back of my yard, saw at least two more eagles, and every day had a whole flock of little black birds fly across the sky in front of me.  I have been asking God what is it with these birds.  And then he answers just as I need it.

 Blog photo-eagle

To back up a bit, God has asked some fairly big “faiths” of me for 2013.  Long ago he asked me to allow him to “grow” my family.  For whatever reason I feel a big growth this year. My heart aches more and more for orphans.  I yearn to adopt a child, and he has given me several verses and glimpses of hope and faith in this lifelong dream.  But with this dream comes a dependence on his provision, resting in the assurance that as we expand, he will meet every need as he always has.

And so, as I’ve prayed for faith in all these things, I continue to see birds.  God says quietly to my soul, “Watch the birds, watch the birds.” And I pray that he reveals what these crazy birds mean.  He gives me verses like Roman 12:12, asking me to be “joyful in my hope and faithful in my prayers,” and Isaiah 49:8, reminding me that he will “provide in His timing”.  He is my salvation and help in all things.

 And then in a moment of desperation, as worry and doubt set in over and over again, as I wonder if God will really provide and if I will ever be given this gift of an adopted child–is he really going to do what I feel in my heart he has said–during a sacred moment in his word, he whispers, “You are the bird.  I give you food.  I provide.  I watch over you.  you are mine.  That eagle?  He soars because of me.  I build his house.  I give him strength.  You are my bird and I will provide.  Trust in me.”

What do you say to this except thank you?  How do you respond to such kindness, such love except a complete surrender of worry and doubt?  Finally, I am drawn to John 15:16:

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last.  Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

I am chosen, and because I am chosen I have a responsibility to bear lasting fruit.  I don’t think that I can remain a worrier and doubter and believe in John 15:16.  I am a bird, and whatever The Lord asks of me, he will provide.

 


Day Ten: Don’t Travel Alone

We’re about half way through our 21 Day Watch.   So glad you’ve stuck with us this far!  I hope you are becoming more intentional about “keeping watch.”  A few of you have shared examples of how God has been showing up as you’ve been on the daily lookout.  It’s fun to compare notes and hear about your “God stories.”  Isn’t that exactly what Jesus intended?  Throughout His teaching, one thing remains clear.  He doesn’t want us to travel alone.  The Christian life is a team sport.  And while regular times of silence and solitude alone with the Lord are necessary,  we’re to “do life” with others.

I went on a run this morning with my buddy Susan.  It takes only half an hour, but we go very early and there are steep hills along the way so our trail is a bit grinding.  It’s a push for me, since I didn’t start out as a morning person.  But my running buddy, an early bird,  has helped me change that.  And honestly, I could never have developed this habit without her encouragement.

But it goes farther than just a pep talk.  Because running with my buddy actually feels physically easier than running alone.  Why is that?  As we were running up a long, steep hill this morning,  I was chatting away about something random.   I was finishing my story, and a bit out of breath, when it hit me.  I’m at the top of this hill, and I hardly noticed the climb.  When I do this hill alone, it feel brutal.  With with a friend, it was bearable.

I asked her if this was her experience.  She completely agreed, and added that she’d made the run alone last week at the same early hour, and realized that it was a bit darker than she had realized when we run together.  Even a little scary.  And much harder.

Dear friends, our Christian journey is not without its hills.  There are battles from without and within.  At times, we have to wrestle.  Against our own flesh, the world, and the devil.  It’s best not to try this alone.  Jesus knew that humans were created by God as “community” creatures.  We’re hard wired to depend on each other.  Teammates not only make our journey easier, they can help us avoid pitfalls along the way.  They help us to “watch” for God, and “watch out” for evil attacks. The Bible is clear that part of our job as Christians is to look out for each other.

You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God (Hebrews 3:13). 

So as you are looking for ways to watch for God, and growing in your love for His Word and prayer, don’t forget to stick close to His people.  And don’t travel alone.

 


Day Eight: Pray and Walk Away

When our children were small, I taught them a practical lesson in prayer using what I called the “Secret Mailbox Club.” I made a mailbox out of construction paper and encouraged the children to write out their secret prayers on a piece of paper.  We sealed them in an envelope,  put the prayer requests in the mailbox and raised the flag.

“Now let’s go about our day, trusting God to answer our prayers in His time.”  The children would be surprised to discover later that some of their prayers had been answered while they weren’t looking.  I explained that our little mailbox game was similar to mailing a real letter. “When I put a letter in our mailbox, I’ve done my part, right?” “I have to trust the United States Postal Service to deliver my mail to the right place.  So I raise the flag and walk away.” I added, “Wouldn’t it be silly for me to camp beside the mailbox anxiously waiting for the response to my letter?”

When we pray to God, we’ve done our part by giving Him our request. The Bible says it this way: Commit your way to the Lord; trust Him and He will do this (Psalm 37:5). “Genuine faith hands its circumstances over to God, allowing him to work. He will never work until we commit” (from Streams in the Desert).  There are times when genuine faith means we pray and walk away.

This is Day Eight of our 21 Day Watch. We’ve been watching daily for signs of God at work. It seems odd to say “don’t watch” when we’re so focused on watching.  But I have learned that sometimes, when I am gripped by a really big problem, the best way I can show God I trust Him is to pray and walk away from the problem.

I’m talking about those painful and stubborn problems which, short of a miracle, are not going away soon. I battled with infertility for many years before God answered our prayers for children. Perhaps you’re wrestling with a debilitating disease, a rocky marriage, an unpleasant job situation, financial hardship, or a wayward child.

Perhaps we have confidence that God is working in these troublesome situations.  But if we watch too closely, we can get discouraged by the sheer magnitude of the problem and the seeming slowness of the answer.  That’s when it helps to put that prayer in the “Secret Mailbox” and walk away.

I discovered there are lots of ways to find joy while our prayers are in the “Secret Mailbox” awaiting God’s perfect timing:

  • Use this “waiting time” to learn something new or start a new hobby
  • Grow in your knowledge of God’s Word; be part of a Life Group
  • Experience a missions trip
  • Further your education
  • Work on you eating or exercise habits
  • Clean out the clutter in your home and give things away
  • Explore your life’s calling
  • Take time for fun and laughter
  • Serve those who are hurting worse than you are.

Over the years, I’ve found that some of the largest prayers I’ve entrusted into God’s hands, my “big asks,” have been answered in the most surprising ways while I am not watching!

Now I know who I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I’ve entrusted to him until that day (2 Timothy 1:12).

 

 


Day Seven: The Big Picture

Are you worried today? Perhaps someone you love is going through a tough time. Most of us carry burdens for those in our circle of family and friends. But the next time worry tries to enter your mind, I challenge you to pause. Try to resist the worry and hand this situation to God. The Bible tells us to “Cast your anxiety on the Lord because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).  The word cast means “to forcibly evict.” It’s the same word used when Jesus cast out demons. No wonder this exercise takes some spiritual muscle on our part.

Today is Day Seven of our 21 Day Watch. We’ve been mindful to observe how God may be at work in and around us. One of the ways we cast out fear and grow in faith is to understand the big picture, looking at the situation from God’s perspective.

Sometimes we can see the big picture only when we look in the rear view mirror of time. This happened the other night when I was at a party to celebrate the upcoming wedding of a dear friend’s daughter and her fiancé. Family and friends had joined together to shower the young couple with gifts and well wishes for a happy life together. I’d watched this girl grow into a beautiful young woman and was thrilled she had found such a special young man with whom to share the rest of her life.

All of a sudden, my mind drifted back to one morning a couple of years ago. My friend had shared over coffee that she longed for her daughter to meet the right man.  We agreed to pray.  My friend sought the Lord in prayer.  I watched her relationship with the Lord grow in special ways as she prayed for her daughter and each member of her family.  Now here we were, over two years later.  She reflected on how this young man was such an answer to her prayers. “I don’t forget for a moment that this is the man I prayed for,” she said to me.

What if we could see God’s big picture plan for our lives? Especially in those situations which cause us to worry. What if my friend could have seen a video into the future and the man God had prepared for her daughter? A quick answer to prayer and all her heart’s worries would have been put to rest right away. But God allowed her to wait for her answer.  To go through the daily exercise of searching for strength from His Word. Resisting worry. Turning the worry into a prayer. Learning to trust in God’s big picture for her daughter.

My friend would tell you that she grew strong through the “wait training.” As she was faithful to seek the Lord daily through His word and prayer, He gradually gave her a sense of peace about her daughter’s future, even before the answer came.

If you are struggling today with a problem, why not ask God to give you His perspective? Search for promises from His Word.  Seek Him first and trust Him to answer your prayer in His perfect time. Daily life gives us plenty of chances to practice casting worry on the Lord. Those we love are watching to see how we navigate life’s inevitable anxieties.  Next time  you feel fear, take a deep breath.  Think. Pray. Guard your heart…and your peace. And ask God to begin to reveal His big picture.

 Don’t worry about anything.  Instead, pray about everything…Philippians 4:6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Day Six: Lost Car Keys

How did my car keys get there? I wondered.   The keys, barely visible, were lodged under the bathroom cabinet. I happened to notice them as I was getting ready for the day. What a weird place. They must have fallen out of my purse the night before. And then it dawned on me. Because I had seen the keys, I saved myself the panic of a frantic, last minute lost key search. And since they had fallen in such an odd location, it could have taken days to find them. I don’t have a spare set, so I was especially glad I noticed the keys before I actually needed them.

We’re on Day Six of our 21 Day Watch.  Like you, I’ve been on the lookout for signs of God at work. I’m becoming more mindful of the tiny ways He is involved in my daily life. Perhaps this was the Lord providing assistance and preventing a stressful situation, so I breathed a quick prayer of thanks.

Lost keys. Such an insignificant problem when the weight of the world looms so large. But small things matter to God. And answers to prayer, however tiny, build my trust. Trust strengthens relationship. And God, like any good earthly parent, cares deeply about the relationship with His children.

Daily watchfulness. Attentiveness to prayer. These simple practices can open our eyes to signs of God at work that we could otherwise miss. But the real truth is that we’re probably protected by God every day and spared from problems and dangers in ways we’ll never know…until we get to heaven.

I’d like to become more sensitive to the ways God is helping me now—noticing things I could miss if I’m not watching. Finding my car keys in a crazy spot sounds so ordinary. But this little incident made me more mindful to stay alert. More committed to spending time alone with God each day. More watchful and more thankful for His work in my life.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Colossians 4:2)