Posted in My Thoughts

A fear of failure becomes its own prophecy

Last week I shared a post on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) that said…

Yes, I have been living in recovery and survival mode for the past 2 1/2 years. Yes, things are beginning to change and I’m ready to start moving forward into the future rather than still just trying to recover from the past and survive the moment. Yes, I have hopes and dreams again, and it’s exciting!

And yes, it is also very scary.

It’s scary because what if….WHAT IF…I have to deal with a major hurt again, or I fail miserably with regards to what my new hopes and dreams are. I’ve experienced my life falling apart, things not working out like I had thought, and being hurt beyond what I could have imagined, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid of that happening again.

What if I put myself out there and I am rejected again?

What if I step out in faith and it feels like the bottom falls out from underneath me?

What if I want something and go for it, and I don’t get it?

What if I have a dream or hope or desire, and I can’t obtain it like I want to?

What if I get hurt?

What if I fail?

 

Fear is a very powerful force. It will cause us to freeze in moments where we know we need to move. It will keep us from trying something new, from dreaming again after experiencing a failed dream, from loving again after being rejected, or from imagining a better life than present circumstances because we can’t see what it might look like.

We don’t want to fail. We don’t like to fail. So we easily become afraid of failure. And we begin to develop a fear of failure.

The ironic thing about the fear of failure is that it becomes its own prophecy.

When we allow our self to be afraid of failure, we often end up not trying at all. And thus we end up failing…failing to accomplish something new, of gaining something better, seeing something greater, and moving into a future that is different from the present.

We end up avoiding any kind of success or blessing in our life, and we remain stuck in the moment. We actually end up failing to succeed or move into something better. We fail to get what we want or even need because we were too afraid to try.

God uses moments that hurt us and times that we fail to grow us and prepare us for what is coming next. He uses what seems bad to bring about something good. Yes, pain and failure are not fun, but it’s not something to fear.

If God uses moments that hurt us and times that we fail to grow us and prepare us for what is coming next, then we can begin to replace our fears with faith and trust. We can trust that God has a plan that is bigger than our current pain and failure, and we can have faith that as we continue to move forward, God will guide and direct us.

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) (click here for a very good/challenging brief message about this verse)

 

Instead of asking “What if” questions about how we could get hurt again or fail again, we should ask ourselves what we may be missing out on if we allow our fear to dictate our actions.

What if I miss out on some amazing blessing the Lord has for me?

What if I miss out on an incredible experience?

What if God leads me into something so much better than I even expected?

What if joy and peace and comfort could be mine, but I don’t obtain them because I was afraid to take the necessary steps?

What if God wants to teach me something and I miss the lesson?

What if I succeed?

 

May we learn to be brave when facing the possibility of pain and failure…and may we not allow fear to keep us from still trusting God and living by faith. May we understand that being brave doesn’t mean there will always be an absence of fear, but rather it means being willing to still move forward even in the presence of fear. May we realize that God is using our pain and failure for our good, so we don’t need to fear. And may we choose to not allow fear to cause us to miss out on the successes and blessings we can experience.

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Posted in My Thoughts

God’s dreams for my future VS my dreams from my past

A few days ago I wrote a blog called “Approaching the New Year (and life) with Intentionality“. In that blog I talked about the idea of picking a word for the year, a word to claim that would give you guidance and focus for the coming year.

I have actually chosen 2 words for myself for this year: Change and Bold.

My life has gone through many very difficult and unwanted changes the past couple of years, and up to this point I’ve been focusing more on surviving the changes than I have on trying to be in a place I can begin to move forward. Things have started to move forward, and it’s been exciting, but I’ve still been very much focused on surviving all the fall-out and damage from the past difficult changes as well. However, I’ve been sensing that this year God is preparing some new and exciting things for my future…he is preparing me for more changes that are coming.

That’s where my second word comes into play. It is a good reminder for me to approach whatever new and exciting things may come with boldness…after the kind of changes I was forced to go through, it is easy to become timid and scared of change, so I need to remember to be bold.

 

Today, in a conversation I was having concerning my future, I admitted that I have not yet been able to let go of some of the dreams from my past. When my life was turned upside down and I went through a lot of very difficult changes, many dreams of mine died. Some of those things I have been able to work through and begin to heal from, but others I’m still trying to figure out how to work through.

Last week I was talking with a missions organization, and I was posed the question “what would your dream job look like?” I knew the answer right away…it would look like my job at my last church. I absolutely loved my job when I worked at Calvary Bible Church; the Student Ministry there was amazing, I loved all the opportunities I was given to preach and speak, and getting to organize and go on mission trips each year was amazing. I loved that job. And to be really honest, I’ve struggled to let it go. It is very hard for me to still wish I had what I did in that job.

In my conversation today, as I admitted and shared that fact, I was challenged with a truth that I needed to hear…

God’s dreams for your future are different than your dreams from your past. His dreams are better than your dreams. It is time to let go of the dreams from your past so that God can do a new thing in your future. 

While I needed to hear that, it was hard to hear; it still hurts to think of letting my past dreams die, and I know I won’t  happen overnight either. My job at CBC was my dream job, and it still hurts a lot to have lost it. So I definitely needed to hear that truth!

God has a plan for my future. And if he allowed my past dreams to be taken from me, it’s because he has dreams for my future that are better than my past dreams. So while it’s painful, and even though I don’t see exactly what those future dreams are yet, I need to work to let my past go and trust him for my future.

 

As it says in Isaiah 43:18-19…

Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.

I can’t continue to focus on the past. I have to learn to let it go. My focus must be on the truth that God is in the process of doing a new thing. What exactly does my future hold or look like? What are the new things that he is doing? I don’t know. But even though I don’t know, I can trust that God has a better dream and plan for my future than I had in my past.

Letting go of past dreams can be hard, especially when they were good dreams and they were taken from you. It can also be hard to let go of bad memories from the past as well, because it is easy to let painful experiences from our past determine our actions and reactions now. But to remain focused on the past will only keep us from moving forward into the future that God has for us, a future where he is doing something new.

So, may we learn to not focus on the past, good or bad. May we learn to let the past go, and may we instead learn to focus on where God is leading us next.

Posted in My Thoughts

Approaching the New Year (and life) with Intentionality

It can be easy to live our lives mostly out of reaction to what happens or comes our way. And while that is not necessarily all bad…there are so many things we can’t control in this life that we do have to learn how to react well to…we also need to learn to approach life with intentionality; to have a plan, set goals, and seek to be purposeful.

Plans and goals don’t always work out the way we want them to, because again there is so much in life that we can’t control. BUT, when we make plans and we set goals and we seek to be purposeful, we are living our lives with intentionality. Doing that gives us focus and purpose, keeps us on track when we might want to get off track, and even helps us better navigate the changes that life brings our way.

Now that we are in a new year, you hear a lot about the idea of “new year’s resolutions”, trying new things, and moving forward into what the future holds. Entering a new year brings this kind of thinking out in our society, and we should take advantage of that in our own lives by seeking to approach this coming year with intentionality.

Here are a few suggestions for how to go about approaching this new year with intentionality…

  • Pick a word for the year. A word that will give you guidance and focus. For example, CHOICE. Picking a word like this provides a constant reminder that what we do in this life involves choice; who we hang out with, where we go, what we do, how we react, etc. It is also a word that can encourage us to seek to make the right choice in all circumstances.
  • After picking a word, choose some key scripture verses/passages to go with your word. This takes the word you chose beyond just being a good word…it gives it a spiritual focus as well. It helps you to be focused on God’s Word in your life. For the word CHOICE, some verse ideas could be: Joshua 24:15, Matthew 4:19-20, and Colossians 3:2. The verse doesn’t have to include the word itself, but it should encompass the idea of the word.
  • Write out a list of goals, dreams, and plans for this coming year. Make sure to write things that you will be able to accomplish or keep track of fairly easily, so that you will have victories to celebrate. BUT, also think big and write some things that will challenge you and require you to trust God in ways you may have not had to before. Also, remember that it’s ok to not accomplish everything, or to allow some of your goals, dreams, and plans to change during the year…life happens, and we must learn to give ourselves grace as well as be flexible to make adjustments.
  • Find a friend who you can share what you wrote down with. That friend should be someone you trust, be someone who continually encourages you throughout the year to stay focused, prays for you, and will even help you as you need.
  • One other idea that some might like and some might not: Pick a “theme song”. A song that really speaks to your heart, causes you to worship the Lord, and is a good reminder of your word and it’s focus. Music speaks to us in a powerful way, which is why picking a song can be a good piece to this.

During the year, keep track of all you wrote down, what was accomplished and happened, and what you’ve learned. At the end of the year, look at what you wrote down celebrate the past year’s accomplishments and lessons learned. Don’t just record or celebrate only the good either…not all life is positive, but we can still learn from difficult times and even celebrate what we made it through and how God gave us the strength in hard times. And then use that to begin looking forward to being intentional for the next coming year.

Let’s learn to live our lives with intentionality. Let’s not just live in reaction to what comes our way (yes, it is good to learn how to react well…I’m not saying neglect that part), but rather let’s dare to dream and plan and create goals for ourselves. Let’s live with purpose…let’s live with intentionality!

 

I’d love to hear other ideas for being intentional. Feel free to comment with other ideas you have.

Posted in My Thoughts

Overwhelmed

If you follow me on social media at all, you’ve seen that the past few days I’ve posted some pictures and updates about my upcoming move. Tomorrow is that day. This week I’ve been taking smaller items and boxes that can fit in my car to the house, and tomorrow (Saturday, December 9th) all my furniture and anything else that has not been moved there will be taken to my new house, and I will officially begin living there.

This week, the idea of the move has been overwhelming. A few days ago I was unpacking dishes and putting them in the cabinets in the kitchen, and I sent a text to a friend about how there is more cabinet space than dishes I have to fill them…the space is overwhelming. As I’ve moved things to the house and made decisions on what furniture would go into what room, I felt so overwhelmed with how much space this house has…and how little furniture I have to fill it. Last Sunday my kids and I had our first meal in the house, we prayed to thank God for blessing us with this house, and then they picked their rooms and made signs for their doors. It was a great day, and very overwhelming.

It is all overwhelming because for 2 years I’ve lived in small spaces. I briefly had a small 1 bedroom apartment, and the rest of the time I’ve lived with different people who allowed me to stay in  a room in their house. I’ve grown accustomed to having very little furniture and living in a small space. When my kids came to stay with me, they would all sleep in the same room, because it was the only room I had for them. And now, this house I’m moving into has a kitchen with more cabinets than I can fill, more rooms than I have furniture for, and enough bedrooms that the kids can have their own rooms (Hope and Kate chose to share a room).

Overwhelmed

Today as I was making a couple trips to the house with more boxes and smaller items, I began to think back over the past 2 years. To be honest, my life today looks absolutely nothing like I expected it to look like just a few years ago. A few years ago, I was married with 4 children, living in a nice house with my family, working in a ministry I loved, and honestly just enjoying my life, thinking I had it all.

And then 2 1/2 years ago my world began to come crashing down as I discovered I was about to lose it all. After months of doing everything I could to try and hold it all together, my biggest fears happened. I lost my marriage, lost the ability to see my kids everyday, lost getting to live with my family, and lost the ministry I loved. My world came crashing down hard, and I was broken. It was all very overwhelming!

For 2 years since all of that happened, I have been wondering what my future would look like. What would it be like to live in my own house again, what would being in ministry again be like, and even the idea of what a future relationship might look like. Just thinking about it all and not knowing when or how it would happen, as well as still questioning at times why I was in this place to begin with, would just get overwhelming to think about.

Then, after a long time of waiting and wondering, God began to lead me into my future. 4 months ago I began working in ministry again. It started off a bit rocky, but I quickly settled into doing what God has given me a passion to do again. What a blessing that was!

And then, I was offered the church parsonage…a house! A house I can call home. Where my kids can come and spread out and we can be a family in our own space. What an incredible blessing!

I’m overwhelmed by God’s blessings! And excited for the future that God is leading me into!

BUT

I have also come to realize that God never stopped blessing me and taking care of me during the 2 years prior to this.

  • For 2 years I have not been able to afford a place to stay, yet I have not been homeless even one day.
  • For 2 years I have struggled to make ends meet, yet I’ve always had food to eat, gas money, jobs to make money, and several people have been generous to me through financial gifts.
  • For 2 years I have had Christian brothers and sisters take care of me, provide for me, help me, and be there for me in ways I didn’t even realize I would need.
  • During those 2 years, men stepped up to disciple me and council me through the darkest days I have ever experienced…sometimes days that were so dark I just wanted to give up on everything.

For 2 years as I wondered why my world had fallen apart, God was working in my life to teach me, equip me, restore me, and prepare me for the future he had in store. And while the past 2 years have been by far the hardest I’ve ever experienced, the truth is God was blessing me the whole time while preparing me for my future. God has had a plan for me all along, and he has continued to bring that plan to fruition while walking with me on the journey.

SO OVERWHELMED!

So as I begin to step into what God has next for me, I would be remiss if I did not also remember how God blessed me and took care of me during the past 2 years.

  • to all who provided me a place to live
  • to all who helped me with financial gifts so I could continue to cover basic needs
  • to all who have provided me with a job
  • to all who provided a listening ear for me to talk to
  • to all who reached out to me and my children
  • to all who challenged me to live for God even when I was struggling in my faith
  • to all from my former church who continued to stay connected to me and my children
  • to all from my new church family who have made me and my children feel loved and accepted
  • to all the new people I have met through different circumstances and for different reasons over the past 2 years that I probably would not have met had I not been in this position
  • and to all of those from my childhood whom I have since reconnected with during this time

I will never be able to say thank you enough for allowing God to use you in my life to be a blessing. God has truly been good to me by bringing each of you into my life, and I am beyond thankful. God has used you to teach me what he wanted me to learn through this, and to bless me as he carried me through the storm.

As I move into the future God has for me, I look forward to seeing what God will do next. I have learned through all of this that I can never imagine what God has in store, but if I just seek to follow where he leads, he will continue to lead me step by step in the direction he wants me to go. It might not be what I expect…but after watching God provide and care for and bless me during these past 2 years, I know that wherever he may lead, he will be there with me for each step of the journey. And after the past 2 years, I’ve learned that if it’s God’s plan, I want to be a part of it…and if it’s not God’s plan, I don’t want to waste my time.

God’s blessings are truly overwhelming!

Posted in Bible Study, My Thoughts

While in the wilderness

Promise. Blessing. Abundance. These words describe what the Promised Land represents. They are opposite, however, of what the wilderness represents.

In Exodus 3, we see that God has seen the affliction of his people Israel. They were slaves in Egypt, and they had been crying out for him to deliver them. In verses 7 and 8 of chapter 3 is says Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey…”

“A good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey”. The Promised Land. A place that is good, full of promise and blessing and even abundance.

However, before Israel was able to get into this land that God told them of, they had to make their way through the wilderness. A place that would not be described as good and full of promise and blessing and abundance. Words that describe what the wilderness represents would include difficulty and scarcity.

One thing that makes the wilderness a difficult place is the scarcity of proper food and water. In chapters 15-17 of Exodus, we see this played out in the lives of the Israelites…they needed water and there was no good source for them, and they needed food and there wasn’t anything adequate for them.

We also see something else played out in these chapters. God took care of them, performing miracles to provide and bless them with the water and food they needed. When water was bitter, he made it sweet and drinkable (Exodus 15:22-25). When there was no water at all, he provided it miraculously (Exodus 17:1-7). And when there was no food, God delivered again.

In Chapter 16 of Exodus, it tells us that God sent Quail into the camp of Israel for meat, and provided a flake-like substance they called “manna” that could be used for bread. In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. ” (Exodus 16:13-15) 

The Israelites were commanded to only take what they needed for that day, and each day more would be there for them to collect. If they collected too much, the excess went bad. They had to trust God each day for what they needed, and each day God delivered. Even though they were in the wilderness, where food and water were scarce, the Israelites had what they needed for the day to survive.

The Promised Land was where the journey was leading. That is the land that is good, the land that provided promise and had abundance. However, to get to that place, they first had to travel through the wilderness.

If you read the story of Israel in the wilderness, you see a few different consistent themes happening. One of them is that Israel consistently complained. To be honest, I get that. I’m pretty sure I would have complained too! We all would have. No one likes to be in a place that is best described by words such as scarcity and difficulty. Like Israel, we too would want to get to that place that is described as good and full of abundance.

The second thing you see happening consistently is that God continually provided for them, often in miraculous ways. He knew they needed water, and he provided when there was no water. He knew they needed to eat, so he provided food for them when there was no food around.

 

We all go through seasons in life that are best described as a wilderness. It seems as though everything is surrounded by difficulty, and often the things we need to get through life are in scarce supply. Bills are hard to cover. Often debt begins to mount up. Purchasing things such as food and gas, basic necessities of life, are way more stressful than we would like them to be. We never have enough time to take care of all the things in our life that we need to. We have minimal energy, little time for fun, good friends seem to be in short supply, and so on. During the wilderness season of life, it’s honestly a daily struggle just to survive.

During that season of life, it is very easy and tempting for us to long for the time when we will reach the Promised Land…the season of life that is full of promise and blessing and even abundance. We see others around us being able to pay for things, go on trips and afford fun, have times of rest, and truly thriving in life rather than just surviving. We see that, and we long for it. If only we could get to a place where we have everything we want, and life seems to be under control, then everything would be so much better and life wouldn’t be such a struggle.

BUT

While we are in the wilderness, if we only spend our time longing for the Promised Land, we will miss out on seeing something amazing. We will miss seeing and recognizing that even in the wilderness, God still provides us with blessings.

God provided water and food for Israel while they were in the wilderness. And God will provide for us too.

How do I know this to be true? Because I’ve been in the wilderness the past 2 years, and while I do look forward to someday reaching whatever the Promised Land may be in my life, I can’t deny the fact that God has continually provided me with what I’ve needed to survive. I’ve had to learn what true needs are and what really aren’t needs during this time as well, which hasn’t been easy. However, my true needs, God has provided for…sometimes seemingly out of thin air. 

God still blesses us, even while we are in the wilderness. His blessings don’t stop just because we are in a difficult place. And, our journey through the wilderness also helps us learn to trust God for everything we need that he blesses us with, as well as to be thankful for every blessing he gives us.

May we not miss out on seeing God’s blessings while in the wilderness. May our eyes be open so we can recognize all that God is doing in our lives, even while in the wilderness of life. May we see, recognize, and be thankful for his blessings.

Posted in My Thoughts

Praising God, or the moment?

This afternoon, as I was out driving, a wave of discouragement came over me. I had been in a fine mood all day, just taking care of things I needed to. Then while I was driving home, that all changed. And it happened in such a way that it was like I could see my mood change…as if, like when a gust of wind hits you, discouragement suddenly just blew into my life at that moment. At that moment, my whole demeanor changed.

I’ve always been one to wear my emotions on my sleeve for the most part, so I can only image what my face and body language was like when this discouragement came over me…good thing I was in the car alone. While I wasn’t looking at myself to see what my face looked like at that moment, I definitely knew how I felt. Sad. Discouraged. Defeated. Hopeless. In my mind I felt like just complaining to God about everything. And even though I was listening to Praise Songs at that time, I sure didn’t want to praise God in that moment…

…and then this song started to play: The Doxology. This is a song I know well, and have sung in church for years. This particular time I was listening to the version by Phil Wickham (his version is called Doxology/Amen). The opening lyrics are “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…” The entire Doxology calls us to Praise God, but it was that first line that really hit me in that moment.

There I was, complaining to God in my head and feeling completely discouraged, and I was being reminded to praise God. I began to think how I love to praise God when things are going well in my life, or at the very least I’m not struggling with feeling discouraged. But at this moment, I really did not feel like praising God because I was tired of life being hard and feeling very discouraged. And as I was thinking that, a moment of truth pierced through the discouragement and hit me hard.

If I can’t praise God when things are not as I want them to be, then what does that say about when I am praising God? If I can’t praise God in the bad, am I really praising God in the good…or am I actually praising the good God is allowing in my life? If I only choose to praise God when things are good, then am I praising God, or praising the moment?

That truth and the challenge from that truth hit me hard. I love God, and I want to be one who can praise God for who he is and what he has already done for me, even if in the current moment things are difficult. God deserves praise simply because he is God. He deserves praise because he offers us salvation when we don’t deserve it. God deserves praise because he has offered me a love that I cannot get from anyone else, and he never stops loving me even when others do.

Regardless of how good or difficult life is at this particular moment, God is the same and deserves praise the same. If I can’t praise him when the moment is hard, but I can when the moment is good, then the reality is that I’m potentially praising the moment more than I am praising God.

Consider Job. God allowed him to lose everything. Yet despite the discourage and defeat and hopelessness he was feeling, it didn’t change his ability to praise God.

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” – Job 1:20-21

“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord”. Job was known as a man of God before his life went from good to horrible. And then after he lost everything, he still chose to praise God.

When we sing praise songs to God in church, are we only able to do so if our life is good? Can we stand there and praise God through song even when our life is difficult? When we pray, are we only able to say “blessed be the name of the Lord” when things are comfortable for us, or can we also say that when life is currently uncomfortable? Can we say “thank you God, for you are good” in all circumstances, or only when our life is as we would want it to be?

May we realize that God deserves praise, no matter what our life situation is. May we realize the truth that if we can only praise God when things are good at that moment, then perhaps we are praising the moment more than God. May we desire to praise God simply because he is God, regardless of what the moment looks like. May we truly praise God in all situations.

 

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised – Psalm 96:4

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. – Psalm 69:30

Praise the LordPraise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. – Psalm 146:1-2

Posted in My Thoughts

My annual beach trip

Today I made my 3rd annual trip to the beach. No, it’s not the only time of the year I go to the beach…I went a few times this summer. This particular beach trip is for a much different reason than a normal trip. It’s has a very focused purpose.

The purpose is to spend time praying, reflecting, listening, and seeking wisdom from God for my future.

This now annual trip began 3 years ago, in November of 2015. That first trip was to seek God concerning my future, because after 5 months of fighting hard to hold onto my marriage, I had run out of ideas and hope, so I took a day to seek God for wisdom and guidance. I chose to go to the beach because I actually don’t really like the beach very much. I mean it’s ok…I’m just not a fan of the sand, of all the things in the ocean that can eat you, or of how crowded it can get with people. So I chose to go to the beach because it represented a place I don’t really like…and at that time I didn’t like where my life was at, so it was fitting.

I didn’t plan on it becoming an annual trip, but the next year I ended up making a trip back to the same beach on Christmas Day of 2016. The purpose that time was not so much to seek God for my future, but rather to simply spend time praying and reflecting, as well as take time to listen to God. It had been a year since I had lost my marriage, family, and ministry, and at that time I was simply trying to be patient and heal from all of that loss. And just like the first trip, God encouraged me with words of wisdom and scripture, and he also challenged me to remain faithful to him in ways that I needed to be at that time.

Again, I wasn’t planning to make this an annual thing…but today I decided it was time to make my 3rd trip to the beach. This trip was much more like the first one…a focused time of prayer, reflection, and seeking God for my future. My life situation now is a bit different than that first trip; I haven’t spent the past 5 months fighting for my marriage, I lost it 2 years ago now and the divorce has been official for a year and a half. But, the past few months have been difficult in their own right, and I’ve definitely been struggling lately.

The struggle I’ve been having lately has been largely due to finances. My financial situation is very tough right now…actually it has been for a while, which I know is part of what a person who goes through being divorced must deal with…but lately it seems that no matter what I do, more bills keep piling up and I keep feeling more and more overwhelmed. I now have 2 steady jobs, which I thought would help. But this past month I’ve had knee issues that has kept me from being able to work my second job, so that just makes another difficulty in the world of my finances.

As I continue to struggle with this, it has been getting harder and harder to be positive. I’ve been struggling more and more with feeling so overwhelmed that I just want to give up, as well as struggling to believe that God has any kind of a future for me that is better than where I’m currently at in this moment. Despair has been on my heart more, and faith and trust and been harder to hold onto.

So this morning when I woke up, and honestly didn’t even want to get out of bed because it felt as though the burdens were just too much to face, I decided I needed to go back to the beach again…the same place I have gone the past 2 years when I needed a special word and encouragement from God.

And, just like the past 2 years, God gave me just the word of encouragement and challenge that I needed.

(Now, before I continue, I want to say that I’m not sharing any of this so that whoever reads this can feel sorry for me. I’ve always believed that God wants me to be willing to use my life to both encourage and challenge others…so that’s why I’m willing to share personal things. And I know I’m not the only one struggling either, so I don’t think I’m special. I’m simply being open and transparent as God leads me to be.)

As I sat there on the beach, on this October day, praying and listening to God, he shared 2 things with me that I needed at that moment.

One of them had to do with faithfulness, which is something I’ve been focusing on a lot lately in my life. I’ve been praying constantly that I would have the strength to remain faithful…I even wrote a blog about it recently. One of the struggles in my mind lately has been having the thought “God, I’ve been faithful the past 2 years despite all that has happened to me. When are you going to recognize that and begin to bless me with what I need so that I can move into a better future?” Yes, I admit that this thought is a bit selfish, that’s why I’ve been struggling with it. But it continues to come back into my mind regularly.

This is the word I received from God concerning faithfulness: Before you can be called faithful, and thus rewarded for your faithfulness, you must first remain faithful. And it’s not you who determines if you are being faithful, it’s the one who will reward you that determines if you are truly faithful. I needed that. It’s not me who decides if I’ve been faithful or how I should be rewarded for it. God is the one who knows and decides that I’ve been faithful, and he is the one who will decide when and how to reward that faithfulness. I am simply to continue to be faithful.

The other one had to do with my future…specifically my inability to see it and the discouragement growing in my heart as a result of that. As I was sitting on the beach looking out on the ocean, I noticed that it was quite foggy, so I wasn’t able to see very far. But I didn’t doubt that the ocean continued on beyond what I could see, I knew the ocean still existed beyond what I saw at that moment. And then I received the following word from God as an encouragement…

This verse accompanied that word of encouragement: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. – Romans 8:18

There were a few other verses that God brought to my mind, all of which were just what I needed. This trip to the beach was certainly just what I needed. PRAISE GOD! 

My hope and prayer in sharing this is to encourage anyone else who may be struggling right now; encourage them specifically with the words God gave to me, as well as encourage them to find a time and place to seek God themselves. Don’t only seek God and listen to him once a year…have a regular time of reading his Word and praying. But, definitely also have special times set aside to go and intentionally do nothing more than spend time praying, reflecting, listening, and seeking wisdom from God.