Be Grateful and Press On

Be Grateful and Press On

Squeal with delight

I caught my 6’5”, 240-pound son.

Have you ever seen something about to happen and could do nothing to stop it? I didn’t plan to be the barrier between my son and the floor, but it happened in an instant.

I saw the equipment in the physical therapy room and cautioned my son to be careful as he hobbled by with his crutches.

It was too late. His crutch caught the equipment leg and he lunged toward me. Only two days after his ACL/meniscus surgery, I knew he couldn’t put any weight on that foot.

Between his look of panic and my expression of dread, I braced myself as his chest hit my face like a brick wall. I held tight, shocked yet thankful he was not on the floor.

A moment of gratitude

What could have been devastating turned into a moment of gratitude.

He felt gratitude for me being there to catch him. I was grateful he didn’t damage the recent knee repair or crush me in the process.

Have you been there? Have you escaped something that led to disaster, but God supplied the rescue? Maybe he provided a way out or the encouragement to move forward and press on. You felt a sense of gratitude come over you.

Jesus’ crucifixion must have shocked and unnerved his followers. It must have hit them hard.

When Mary Magdalen and the other women went to the tomb three days later, they expected to find the broken and unrecognizable body of their Lord.

Instead, they found something far greater. Their weeping turned to joy. Fear grew to gratitude. Their despair changed to determination.

Energized to press on

Jesus met them in their time of need and encouraged them, energized them to press on and moved them to go and tell the disciples that He had risen just as He said. (See Matthew 28.)

Jesus champions our walk. He delivers us in our time of need. He catches us when we fall and encourages us to press on toward our goal.

A friend once encouraged me to stop what I was doing and go run. My mind told me I needed to run . . . for my health and my marathon training. Instead, I offered excuses. I had too many things to do so I didn’t want to take the time. Plus, the sky looked overcast with a threat of rain.

But I followed her advice. Not long after I started running, the sun broke out. As I ran, I felt better than I thought I would. I ran better than I thought I would. My outlook changed and I found encouragement to press on and stay in the race.

Commissioned to press on

Isn’t that so much like Him? Like a trusted friend, he encourages us. He loves us. Jesus nudges us to press on and stay in the race. He urges us to remain focused on the task He wants us to do. Whether in sunshine or storm, He stands there waiting to be what we need at that moment.

Jesus’ followers didn’t know it yet, but their race was just beginning. After His instruction and encouragement for 40 days, they went on to spread the gospel with passion and without fear throughout the first-century world.

So be encouraged. Embrace gratitude. Stay focused on your God-given dreams and see the hand of God at work in your life. And should you fall, He’ll be there.

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Find out more here.

 

Answering the Call

Answering the Call

We got reacquainted while seated by each other at a funeral. I shared some things from my heart. She committed to pray for me. And she has done just that.

At random times, I receive a text with scripture and words of encouragement. Each time, they meet a specific and timely need in my life.

Even while in my quiet time early this week — as I struggled with an anxious heart — these words popped up on my screen.

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:19

How does that happen?

God somehow placed this verse and me on her heart.

She answered the call and sent it to me at exactly the right time. And I happened to glance at my phone at that moment (which I try to avoid during my quiet time:).

God at work

Two other instances came up this week.

Dennis Swanberg, America’s Minister of Encouragement, who wrote the forward in my book Grief Unwrapped: Discovering Joy in a Season of Sorrow, called to check-in. At the end of our conversation, Dennis repeated back to me the same message I had presented throughout the book. Live your life with joy and to the fullest.

And if those two weren’t enough, I was encouraged a different day by another friend who I only see occasionally – Bonny Van.  She encouraged me by listening and making me laugh.

Friend, it wasn’t until this moment (as I write this post) that I realized God has been at work in my life this week.

How many more have I missed?

How many times do we miss a message from God because we’re knee-deep in our own struggles? Our own busyness? Our own messes?

Through Sandy, Dennis and Bonny, God had a word for me each day.

Knowing He is speaking to you — even through another person — reminds me that He is the God who sees me and cares for me. He is personal and He reveals His presence to me in amazing and wonderful — and sometimes ordinary — ways.

He IS

And I’m so glad He does.

Because even in distress, I can have joy because I worship the one who IS my joy. He IS my strength. He IS my help. He IS my keeper.

My God IS my rest. He IS my shelter. He IS my hope. He IS my confidence. In all things, He IS.

I pray that as we begin each day, we will take these words — and my encouragers’ examples — to heart. And as God calls us to speak or share a verse, we would also “answer the call.”

Waiting Well

Waiting Well

Fifty-four years ago this week, my dad suffered a debilitating accident that changed his life. I can only imagine what it must have been like for my mom during those touch-and-go days in the hospital. Well, some of that experience I know firsthand.

Then she endured six months of waiting as he recovered and learned a new way of mobility. Sometimes the waiting alone leaves us paralyzed and unable to function properly. But that waiting period can also serve to teach and guide us.

A plan to wait

God promised the shepherd David he would be Israel’s next king. God had a plan. But that plan required David to wait.

As a fugitive, David and his “band of brothers” camped out in a cave while King Saul and his army searched for them to kill him.

And one day Saul showed up in the very same cave David and his crew waited. They encouraged David to take Saul’s life, but he wouldn’t do it. He knew God’s plan for him to be king, however, he waited. And he trusted.

In Psalm 31:24, David pens these words.

“Be strong, and let your hearts take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!” (ESV)

I have been in a season of waiting. I have cried out to God to deliver me. And I waited, knowing that His plan is for my good but crying out all the same for answers.

The words from Psalm 27:14 grip my heart.

Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

Are you in a season of waiting or just coming out of one? Or has God used your waiting to prepare you for what’s to come?

Let the words of this Psalm and others like it keep you and encourage you in your waiting.

The power to wait

What happened during David’s season of waiting? While he waited, he wrote psalms that still impact us and speak to us today. While he waited, God used that time to teach, minister and prepare him to lead Israel one day. While he didn’t know it then, God would eventually use the outpouring of his heart — and words spoken in agony — to help and heal people throughout history.

David waited well. We can, too, because of the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows I struggle with this. And you may too. However, He knows and provides the power we need to wait. And we can trust God while we’re waiting on Him to act.

Change the Way You Think

Change the Way You Think

I saw myself in scripture today.

I read the story of Gideon in Judges 6 and 7. I didn’t see myself in the way you might think — the prophet Gideon leading people to conquer the Midianites. (The Midianites had oppressed Israel to the point they were hiding out in caves in the mountains.)

I didn’t see myself in the way Gideon asked God for a sign (remember the fleece story in Judges 6:36-40). I’ve certainly done my share of that, though.

I saw a man given to fear—a man who acted faithlessly. I saw a man full of questions, and one who doubted God.

Look for God in your story

But then I saw God in this story. God knew Gideon, knew his shortcomings, and knew his fears and doubts. God didn’t reprimand or lecture Gideon. Instead, He acted patiently. He walked beside Gideon and encouraged him.

God knew what Gideon needed the most was a glimpse of who He was.

And Gideon saw God defeat 120,000 Midianites with 300 Israelite soldiers whose weapons were only trumpets and jars with torches inside.

My friend, God knows what we need most too. We need a glimpse of who He is. Because of that, we can know He is with us too.

And with faith in Jesus Christ and the knowledge He is with us, we too can fight our battles with confidence.

W. Tozer said “We can’t think rightly of God until we begin to think of Him as always being there — and being there first! (Mornings with Tozer April 25)

See who God is

Do you need a glimpse of who God is? I know I do.

I pray that that is exactly what we will find as we worship and acknowledge who God is. The God who meets us where we are – even in our questions. The God who is patient with us — even in our doubts and fears. And the God who walks beside us and encourages us — even when we lack strength and confidence.

Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. (Romans 12:2 NLT)

Used for good

Used for good

My books fell off the delivery truck. 

I could write a complete page of issues, problems and just strange things that have come up as I have prepared to launch Grief Unwrapped: Discovering Joy in a Season of Sorrow.

I ordered books for my Kickstarter backers and to have on hand for the upcoming launch party. 

But I had a call one day from a friend to tell me someone from a few streets over found my book in the road. One lone book.

I had already received a box that was partially open on one end with books missing, so I can only assume that box’s contents somehow fell from the truck.

As issues have surfaced, I have felt battered — like someone was trying to discourage and hinder me in my goal to complete this book process.

Satan himself is the father of lies and has a multitude of ways to influence our thought processes. Words of discouragement. Words to stop us from doing what God has called us to do. From the beginning of my book-writing adventure, I have stopped and started many times, questioning what I believe God was asking me to do.

And now, two weeks before the book release date, my books fell off the truck. Not one, but a second box arrived a couple of days later – repackaged. All the contents inside were battered, smudged and swollen from water damage.

I believe what was meant to discourage, God used for good.

Stand strong and press on

That neighbor who found my book researched and found me, too. Before she did, she read the book. And then she hand-delivered it to my door with words of encouragement that blessed me and gave me new strength to stand strong and press on.

So . . . should you find my book somewhere, remember this story. And let it encourage you to keep moving forward in whatever God has called you to do.

And while you’re at it, thank Jesus for the people he places in your life to encourage you and when needed, even to hold you up.

Let God use for good what Satan wants to use for evil.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20 

 

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