A Lesson from Jonah…

Do you know about Jonah in the bible…

A couple of months ago my church preached a sermon on Jonah. It’s been a while since that sermon, but I still have the story ringing through my head. And, like it or not, I have been seeing myself in parts of the story of Jonah. Mainly in Jonah’s stubbornness and unwillingness to rejoice in God’s goodness. I know, a great character to relate too…

After trying to run from God, being thrown into the sea, swallowed up by a fish, and then given a second chance by God, Jonah finally makes his way to Ninevah. He delivers a short and to-the-point sermon to the Ninevites and then he smugly makes his way to an outlook to watch the city receive God’s judgment. We look at this story and we shake our heads at Jonah. Johah just didn’t get it, we say. He didn’t understand God’s character and grace. But in reality, when you read chapter 4 of Jonah you will see that Jonah did have a right understanding of God;

“But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.  He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity”

Jonah 4:1-2

Jonah was upset and admitted that the whole reason he didn’t want to go to Ninevah in the first place was because he knew God’s character and He knew God would show them compassion. This really paints a whole different picture of Jonah’s heart as he ran away. And as much as I try to hide it, I can see parts of my heart reflected in this.

How often have I been too scared to pray a certain prayer, take a chance with a certain person, or say yes to opening a new door because I know deep in my heart what God’s character is and what God is going to ask me to do. I know that what God wants for me is going to be differant then what I want and I just don’t want to go there.

When following after God means showing grace and love to those we don’t like, going outside of our comfort zones to reach the lost, and forsaking our flesh and choosing the path marked with pain instead of pleasure, wouldn’t it just be easier to stay where we are. Or to run away in the opposite direction.

But as we see with the story of Jonah, running from God doesn’t help us. In fact, it’s impossible because God is everywhere and he is sovereign over everything. And when Jonah finally obeyed and went through with it all, He still did not have his heart in the right place and he wasn’t able to share in the joy of seeing God show compassion to sinners. The compassion and grace God gave to the wicked people in Ninevah is a beautiful thing, but Jonah was blinded to it by his pride and discontentment.

When we are so focused on our pride and our life not being where we want it, we miss out on the good things God has for us now. Just like Jonah, we sit under our own tree, angrily waiting for the thing we think we deserve, when in reality, God has already given us more than we could ever need and His plan for us is to stay in this season a little longer.

When we are discontent, we will complain and grumble to God about all the things we don’t like and we miss out on seeing all the good things he has given us. But on the flip side, if we are content where God has us, we can rejoice in all God has done for us and all the grace he has shown us.

I don’t know about you all, but this story of Jonah has been hitting home for me a lot. I keep saying to myself, “Wow, I am a lot like Jonah as he sat on that hillside waiting for God to give him what he wanted.” I can so easily fall into the habit of complaining about my life more than praising God for it. But when I remind myself of God’s character and how God is sovereign, I begin to see things better. I see that this life, is not about me and making the things I want to happen, but about God and letting God do his will in my life.

So as I end this post, if you ever find yourself like Jonah, you’re not alone. We all find ourselves on the hillside wanting our own way over God’s way. But this is the challenge; Instead of sitting on the hillside waiting for God to work, we ought to be jumping up and down for joy praising God because he is always at work and he has already done the greatest work! Sending his Son to die for us so that we might be free! That is the greatest act of compassion and mercy in all of history, and if we have our hearts in the wrong place, we just might miss out on this great joy.

Ebb and Flow

Reposting this post today because it still applies and it’s a good reminder 🙂

You wanna know the honest truth about life in the hard seasons?

One day you may feel amazing and so happy. You reach these highs and have the fullest sense of peace and joy. And then the next day you are back in the valley. Feelings of hurt, sadness, disappointment, and grief are back. A few days ago I knew I was right in the will of God. I felt so much peace and joy in Christ. I knew exactly what God was leading me to do and I did it. Now as the gravity of what I did sinks in, I’m somewhat surprised to find myself feeling kinda sad again.

This idea has been in my head the past few days. Feelings Ebb and flow. They come and they go. We feel good and happy one day and then we feel sad again and that’s normal. The more I walk down this long path of uncertainty and surrendered desires, I’m realizing that I can’t always trust any of my feelings. My feelings would have lead me down a dark and hard road if I followed them.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to feel certain ways. I can’t always stop myself from feeling happy or sad. I can’t change my circumstances either. But I find this to be helpful. When I’m in the valley, there is one thing I can change. I can change my view. I choose to acknowledge my feelings and then I take them to God. I remind myself that God is with me and He is the one who lead me to this valley. When I look to God instead of my feelings I find peace in knowing that God has a purpose for each and every hard season I walk through. I find strength in the unchanging nature of God that gives me clarity over all of my changing feelings.

So all I’m trying to say in this post is that feelings ebb and they flow. If you felt so happy and content in God one day and then your down in the dumps again the next day, don’t stress yourself out. God is still with you even though your feelings may have changed. Choose to set your eye’s back on God when the days get hard again. Find comfort in God who is your Rock. Don’t forget all the ways he is leading you and caring for you and choose to trust that he will keep leading you and caring for you. The place your at and even the feelings you experience all have a good and perfect place in God’s plan for your life. Choose to walk with God through the good feelings and the bad ones, understanding that they will ebb and flow, and that’s okay.

A Desire to be Held

I have a ache in my heart

I long to be loved, and cherished and held. For awhile now I’ve praying each day that God would bring a guy into my life, in His timing of course, who will show me true Godly love and who will cherish everything about me. I desire a man who truly loves God first above all other things and who will be open and honest instead of hiding things. A man who won’t hurt me, but will hold me.

And as I’ve been thinking about all these things I remembered that a few years ago I wrote a few things down on my phone about this desire I have to be held. So I thought I’d share the reflections and scripture verses I wrote down with you today:

“Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually!”

Psalm 119:117

I read this psalm the other day and all I can think about are the words “hold me”. They just stood out to me. The psalmist is experiencing a season of hardship and here he is crying out to God saying “hold me, that I may be safe.”

I find that there are times in my life where I want to be held. I don’t have a man in my life to hold me and let me just be honest with you all, it can be hard some days. There is a strong ache in my heart for someone to hold me and tell me it’s gonna be okay. I want to be re-assured everything will be okay, that I’ll be safe, and that I don’t have to worry. To simply have strong arms wrap around me tightly and promise to never let me go. To often I find myself getting sad, because, as a single girl, I feel left out.

But, I saw something as I read this psalm. I realized that God will hold me when I am feeling sad. When I cry out to God in my need He comes and comforts me. He cradles me with his love and says he will never leave me.

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Deuteronomy 31:8

When God holds me, I know I’m safe. The safest place for me to be is in His arms. God’s arms are strong and He can protect me from all my troubles and all the evils of the world.

“Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:7

So, I just wanna say, that it’s okay to desire to be held. It’s actually quite normal. We were created to have this desire in us. But we must be careful so that we don’t end up looking for it in the wrong places. My desire to be held should lead me to God – my loving heavenly father who will never stop lavishing me in His love.

Do you desire to be held? Even if you have someone to hold you on your hard days, you will never be able to find perfect rest in anyone other than God. When that desire comes, take it to God. Ask him to hold you and then rest in his great love for you.

Oh, what a beautiful thing, that our great God holds us! He will sustain us through whatever season we face. I’m gonna cry out to him just like the psalmist did in this passage. Will you do so too?

“Cast your burden on the Lord , and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

Psalm 55:22

In God’s timing and in God’s way, I still pray that God will bring me a Godly man to love me. But as I wait I want to find my worth in God. God cherishes me like no man here on earth can. God loves me better than any human could. God will never hurt me like the relationships here on earth do. God is the one who holds me and I’m so thankful for this truth.

Another in the Fire

I believe that God’s timing is in everything, even the days we read certain stories in the Bible.

The other day I read the story in the bible where Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego were thrown in the fiery furnace. I have been reading through the prophets one chapter a day and this was where I was that day; Daniel 3. I have been feeling a bit sad and lonely and as I read the story I found so much encouragement for my heart. The story wasn’t new to me, I’ve heard this story so many times in my life. I grew up watching the classic veggie tales rendition of this story too many times to count. But after reading it afresh, the story hit me in a new way. What stood out to me the most in this passage was actually not the bold and fearless faith these three men had, but how they responded when they were in the furnace and that there was a fourth man with them.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

Daniel 3:24-25

A song instantly popped into my head as I read this story (I have the song attached at the bottom e of this page). Maybe you know the song already. It’s “Another in the Fire” by Hillsong. I kept thinking about how amazing of a truth it is that there is another in the fire with us! Each trial and hardship we face, we are not alone. There is another with us, and that person is Jesus Christ.

I listened to this song in my room and let my heart worship God. Suddenly I felt so overwhelmed just thinking about all my hurt and pain that I had walked through and the realization struck me that God was there with me through all of it. There was not a single day of my heartbreak where God was distant from me and I know that there will not be a single day moving forward where He will leave me. Oh how thankful my heart is that God has been with me every step of the way through this fire.

But There is also one more thing that really stood out to me in this story. Not only was God with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they were in the fire, but they were unbound and unharmed the entire time they were in the fire. When they came out of the furnace there was not even a single trace of fire on them;

Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

Daniel 3:26-27

I think that this is such an amazing thing that these three men were not hurt in any way. In a sense, you could say they were thriving while in the fire. I can’t help but have this picture in my head of them laughing and having the best of time while in the fire with Jesus. And this can be so true of us too! I have had people tell me that I am doing so well considering how much of an emotional hardship I experienced. It’s really only been few months but I have been receiving so much healing that it is hard to believe how short of an amount of time truly has passed. My relationship with God has been on an upward climb ever since I entered into this fire. I’m not saying this trial in my life has been easy, but I can say with all my heart that this trial has been the sweetest time I’ve ever had with Jesus.

You guys, this is truth; the fires in our life are good. God has a reason and purpose for all the fires we must walk through in life. Sometimes He doesn’t tell us the reason why, but we can always trust Him. The fires grow us closer to God and allow others to see God’s glory. Whatever your fire, I hope this Bible story can encourage you too! God is always with you and he gives you everything you need to not just survive, but to thrive while you are in the fire.

When the trials come, always remember that there is another in the fire.

Weeping with those…

Have you heard the Bible verse that says we are to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice?

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Romans 12:15

For awhile now, it’s been hard to watch all the people I know get engaged and married after I had that very thing taken from me. I struggled to feel joy for them and it was hard not to be bitter. But time really does do wonders. Though there is still some pain as I watch them get the things I desperately desire, I am comforted in knowing that that is their story and my story is different. God’s plans for me are different and in his timing I will get there too.

But this actually isn’t what I want to write about today. Today I want to write about the other part of that verse. Weep with those who weep. Last week I experienced what it truly means to weep and mourn with someone. I will not go into detail about her story, but a dear friend of mine was in the process of choosing to follow God and end her relationship with a guy she had been seriously dating for a year. Oh how my heart hurt for her. I felt her pain, like literally felt it. Only a couple of months ago I was feeling the same raw pain of heartbreak. Seeing her go through it brought the memory of my pain back. It was like daggers in my heart. I was too overwhelmed to do anything but just hug her and cry with her. I cried with her because I knew all to well what she was feeling. I knew how much it hurt and I cried because it was the only thing both of us could do.

I felt like I was able to relate to her in a way that no one else could. I was able to tell her from experience that there is hope. That even thought the pain is hard and it hurts oh so much, there will be healing. That in time the hurt will subside and God will be faithful. I could tell her that choosing to follow God will lead to the biggest blessing because God is truly all that matters in life. I prayed hard for this girl and I began praying the same things for her that I was asking for in my time of brokeness. I will never forget the moment, before saying goodbye, we clasped each others hands, looked into each others tear stained eyes, and talked about the glories of heaven and the day when there will be no more pain.

I am so amazed at how God was able to use my broken heart and the pain I walked through to bring comfort to this girl. God never ceases to amaze me in how He truly is working all things out for His good and His glory. Even the timing of my healing journey was significant. Because I was already a few months on the path of healing my story of finding healing was able to be a testimony of hope for this girl as she entered into feeling broken. I just can’t get over how overwhelmed and thankful I am to my God that he was able to use my pain to be a beacon of comfort and hope for my dear friend.

My friends, God is always working and I am realizing that sometimes He brings us through a very hard trial so that we might help others who are in the same trial. To truly weep with someone who weeps is a beautiful ack of love and trust. It is a bonding experience that brings unity and hope to two hurting souls. It is a testimony of the fact that even the hard days have a purpose in God’s good plan. If you are going through something hard, maybe God will bring someone into you life who is in a similar place. Maybe God is preparing you to be the hope that they need to keep on trusting. Weeping with those who weep is a beautiful thing and I pray that you will also have the chance to experience God’s goodness though it.

Healing Happens

I have a message for you, healing happens, that’s all, thank you.

Truly that is all I want to get on here and say, but I’ll elaborate a little more. A few days ago (last Saturday to be exact) I was driving into town. Not even two minutes into driving down the road I was suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of healing. I almost began crying, it was that powerful. I honestly don’t know how to describe it to you. It was like something broke down in my heart and my heart felt normal again. For that moment I felt like my pain wasn’t there. It was gone and all I could think about was God’s love covering me.

I’ve been hurting for so long and I think when you hurt for a long time sometimes you just get used to pain always being a part of your life. You have good days where you feel better, but there is still hurt hiding under the surface. I feel like I’ve kinda just accepted the fact that this was gonna be my life. I was going to have to learn how to live with the pain always being a part of me. But in one amazing, God filled moment, I felt healing touch my heart in such an amazing way. I truly believe God’s spirit had come down and filled up my car.

I’m not saying that all my pain is miraculously all gone after that moment. But I can tell you that something changed. I feel like I’m viewing my life now with healing eyes. If that makes any sense? The hurt and regrets are still there but it doesn’t hurt as much. In a way it’s like the wound on my heart is finally not bleeding anymore. It’s healed up, I can finally take the band-aid off, but there is still a scar left.

God put these words in my heart while I was driving – “healing happens”. And then God made it clear that I needed to share those words. Not exactly sure what to do or how to share those words, I grabbed my phone began sharing this message through my instagram account and by texting a close friend. And here I am writing this message and sharing it with you now.

Guys, I am going to say it again, healing happens! It takes time, but it happens. It’s been almost four months of hurting for my heart to get here and I know that as time continues I’ll continue to heal. Whatever you are going through, keep on trusting in God. Keep on following God and choosing to obey Him down every path had puts before you. There will be hard days but the hard days won’t compare to the overwhelming feeling of love that surrounds your heart when healing finally comes. As you are walking through your storm, let this be the anthem that keeps you strong – healing is going to happen. If you have experienced His amazing and supernatural healing then let us praise our God who loves us so much and gives us healing!

Demanding a Blessing

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Genesis 32:26

I’ve started doing something new…

Whenever I sit down and start praying to God and praying for my future, I’ve started a new habit. It’s a new way of praying. I’ve started, in way, almost demanding a great blessing from God. Not in a selfish way and expecting things to be done in a certain way. But rather it’s like a way for me to say; I trust you so much God and I know that there is going to be a great blessing on the other side of this season, so I am going to start praying for it. It reassures my heart in a unique way when I begin praying hard for that blessing that I know God has for me.

My prayers have gone from something like: “God I know you have good things instore for me and your plans are for me. Help me to trust you…” to “God, I pray that you will blow my mind with how great your blessing is for me! I have given up so much for you, God so I come to you and ask that you will give me something even greater in return! God help me to stay faithful to you as I wait!”

My mind thinks back to the story of Jacob and to the night when he wrestled with God. Right before the “angel of the Lord” left, Jacob clung onto Him and demanded He bless him. He said he wouldn’t let go until he got a blessing. And you know what, Jacob didn’t get rebuked, he got a blessing!

I find myself coming to the conclusion that God must be pleased when we as His children ask for good things from Him. Our good, good father loves to bless His children and there is no good thing that he withholds from us.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

Praying in this way, and confidently asking for God’s good blessing as we take the steps of obedience, is a way to grow in our faith. It’s a way to take trusting in Him one step further. If you desire God’s blessing but find yourself in a season of waiting or hurting, let me challenge you to give this type of prayer a try. Find a blessing of God, hold onto it, and pray it for you life. Don’t waver in your belief that God will bless you, pray with confidence that God will bless you beyond what you can imagine. But also keep in mind as your praying, in order for God to bless you in this way, you need to keep holding onto him, keep following him in your season, and give God time to work. The blessing is coming!

Ebb and Flow

You wanna know the honest truth about life in the hard seasons?

One day you may feel amazing and so happy. You reach these highs and have the fullest sense of peace and joy. And then the next day you are back in the valley. Feelings of hurt, sadness, disappointment, and grief are back. A few days ago I knew I was right in the will of God. I felt so much peace and joy in Christ. I knew exactly what God was leading me to do and I did it. Now as the gravity of what I did sinks in, I’m somewhat surprised to find myself feeling kinda sad again.

This idea has been in my head the past few days. Feelings Ebb and flow. They come and they go. We feel good and happy one day and then we feel sad again and that’s normal. The more I walk down this long path of uncertainty and surrendered desires, I’m realizing that I can’t always trust any of my feelings. My feelings would have lead me down a dark and hard road if I followed them.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to feel certain ways. I can’t always stop myself from feeling happy or sad. I can’t change my circumstances either. But I find this to be helpful. When I’m in the valley, there is one thing I can change. I can change my view. I choose to acknowledge my feelings and then I take them to God. I remind myself that God is with me and He is the one who lead me to this valley. When I look to God instead of my feelings I find peace in knowing that God has a purpose for each and every hard season I walk through. I find strength in the unchanging nature of God that gives me clarity over all of my changing feelings.

So all I’m trying to say in this post is that feelings ebb and they flow. If you felt so happy and content in God one day and then your down in the dumps again the next day, don’t stress yourself out. God is still with you even though your feelings may have changed. Choose to set your eye’s back on God when the days get hard again. Find comfort in God who is your Rock. Don’t forget all the ways he is leading you and caring for you and choose to trust that he will keep leading you and caring for you. The place your at and even the feelings you experience all have a good and perfect place in God’s plan for your life. Choose to walk with God through the good feelings and the bad ones, understanding that they will ebb and flow, and that’s okay.

Unfulfilled Desires

Do you have any unfulfilled desires? What do you do with them?

These past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about unfulfilled desires. It seems we all have something in our life that we want but God has said no or not yet. The other day I was seeking counsel from a dear friend and she asked me a hard question. She asked me how much of my wanting this relationship to work has been me just simply wanting to have a relationship. Ever since I was a young girl I’ve had the desire to get married and start a family. It’s always been my biggest unfulfilled desire. It’s also been the hardest thing to surrender to God. The more time I spent thinking over this question the more I realized how much my desire really has played a role in my decision making.

Let me tell you all, I’ve been doing some deep heart searching this past week and it’s been hard. I’ve come to realize my desires aren’t wrong. Marriage and a family is a good thing to desire. Whatever it is your waiting for, if God says no, it doesn’t always mean it’s a bad thing to desire. We often forget that God has plans for us that we can’t see. God’s timing is always going to be best for us. But making these desires come about with our own method will not lead to the blessing God desires to give us.

I believe that I’ve been desiring certain good things of God so much that I’ve allowed it to cloud over my vision and cause me to make poor judgments. I feel almost a bit ashamed of all the years I’ve spent chasing after something I wanted so bad when I can see clearly now that God is saying not yet, wait longer. So I decided that I needed to come to terms with these unfulfilled desires that I have been letting rule my life. I talked to God about the desires of my heart. Instead of just surrendering to God my relationship I also gave to him my desires for marriage and a family. I told God that I desire this good thing, but I desire it to be from Him. I desire God to lead me to it in His timing and in His perfect way.

I didn’t feel better right away. My desire is still here and still very strong. But God did give me his peace and I can feel God slowly working on my heart and putting this desire back in it’s rightful place. I’ve also come to realize that I’m quite content right now being single and growing in my walk with God during this season. Honestly, those are words I never thought I’d hear myself saying.

As I continued to think about all these unfulfilled desires we have, this question crossed my mind; What are we supposed to do you with these unfulfilled desires? I didn’t have to think hard to find the answer. You do the only thing you really can do. You just keep following God with all your heart. You keep trusting that God truly does know what’s best for you and the path your on is His will for you. This really is the only way for God to bring us to a place where we can truly be ready to receive the good things that we desire. It allows us to rest knowing he will bring it to us in His timing and He is all we need in the seasons of waiting that we must walk through first.

Lastly, as I finish up my thoughts on unfulfilled desires, I find myself thinking of Paul in one of his letters. In Romans 1:10 Paul says – “and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.” Paul had unfulfilled desires. He had been desiring to go to Rome for some time, but the Lord was not opening the door for him to go. Even though Paul wanted to go to Rome, he never took action to make it happen. He stayed where he was called and served God with all his heart. Finally, when the timing was right, God took him to Rome in chains.

When the timing is right God will bring our desires to fulfilment, and hopefully for us it won’t also entail being in chains, as it did for Paul. But like Paul, while we are waiting for the God’s timing, we can keep on serving God and pursuing the calling that God us in the place we are in right now.

Faith Is…

Do you know what faith is?

Have you ever wondered what faith looks like? Yeah, you probably can recite the definition of it. The first verse in Hebrews 11 even gives us this definition of faith; “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” But what does that look like other than just a definition?

The other day I was having another rough day. But in the midst of the pain I was feeling I kept thinking about faith. And I kept thinking about what faith looks like in the midst of hard seasons. It’s one thing to understand the textbook definition, but it’s a completely different thing to live it out. And I needed to know, in the moment I was in, what it looked like for me to live out my faith. This is what I came up with about what faith is…

Faith is taking a step forward, not knowing where you are going. It’s when you don’t know where the path is going but you know it’s the path you need to be one so you take a step forward. It’s a step forward into an unknown future while following a known God.

Faith is moving forward, even when it hurts and when all that is inside you wants to turn the other way. It’s choosing to move and not stay still because you know that God’s calling you somewhere new. It’s moving forward with a hope fully trusting in God.

Faith is taking it one day at a time, and trusting with all your heart that God holds the future and His plans for you are good. It’s is such a beautiful and hard thing to do. It’s believing that in the end there will be God’s blessing even though you don’t feel it in the moment.

Faith is hard. It’s not easy. To truly live out faith amidst all the trials and hardships of life takes so much strength and pure trust in God. But I find comfort in this; Faith is simple. When you really think about you’ll see that it really is pretty simple. It is not about a certain set of complicated rules to follow and turns to take. It’s simply about trusting God. And it’s when we are in the midst of trials that our faith truly is tested and has the potential to shine.

So today, I am simply reminding myself that faith for me is looks like taking just one more step in the right direction and choosing to follow God. When I think about it this way I feel better. I feel like I can keep following God and not get overwhelmed. Because I’m choosing to not focus so far ahead but instead to focus on the moment I’m in and what following God looks like for today.

This is what faith is! It’s simple and you can do it too. It’s less about the definition and more about the simple act of trusting God. So whatever your facing, just keep following God’s call on your life one day at a time and you’ll begin to see what faith is.