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.

When You’re Stuck

Do you ever just feel stuck

Well, that’s how I feel right now. Stuck. I feel stuck whenever I think about the future and try to decide in my mind what I should do. My life feels stuck right now, not moving forward, and not moving backward, just staying here. When I try to think about the decisions ahead of me, all I feel is stuck.

But there’s been this idea running through my head that I keep coming back to. Not many people know that in my spare time I manage a blog for a christian adventure camp. I work on their blog about an hour a week and I post a blog post every two weeks. The last post I wrote for them was on how to make wise decisions. And the post I wrote has just been running non-stop through my mind during this time that I feel stuck. So I thought, why not share it here too, of course, I’ll make a few changes to it so it fits better with my situation. It’s been helping me so much as I walk through this difficult season so I hope it can help you too.

So here you go! (Note: as you read this it might be helpful for you know that it is a rafting camp I work at and I have been a river guide at that camp for the past two years. Also this idea is not my original idea, it came from a devotional book I’m reading by Lysa Terkeurst, I just gave it a river guide twist.)

The Process of Making Decisions

When you feel stuck what do you do? When it comes to discerning how to wisely make decisions, are we all on our own, or is there a tried and true formula to follow? Life is full of choices and opportunities.  Some choices are easy and some are hard.  Sometimes in life, we come to a place where we need to think hard about making a decision.  When we hit a crossroad and there two choices before us and new opportunities within reach, what are we supposed to do?  Should we jump right in and take the first opportunity that knocks on the door or do we wait?

In the devotional book I’m currently reading, this illustration was given; coming to a decision in life is like coming to the edge of a river.  The river represents the opportunity before us.  It may be tempting to jump right in without any thought and grab that new opportunity.  But when you jump into a river you don’t have any control.  I can tell you from experience that the current in the river will sweep you away with it as soon as you enter. If you decide you want out you will have to swim hard against the current to get out.  A nearly impossible task in strong currents.

Step one: Scout out the river

So what are you supposed to do? Before you jump into the river, you should stop and take a moment to survey the river.  You do not need to jump into the river to see which direction the river is going.  By simply looking ahead and taking notice of the current, you can learn a lot about what will happen once you jump in.  River guides are constantly doing this.  If a guide isn’t familiar with a river or a certain rapid, they will take the time to survey the water before going down.  This act of stopping to look ahead at the river is called scouting.  This helps guides to decide if the way the river is going is safe and what actions they should take before they go down.

As you survey the river before you, maybe you will see that the river is taking you somewhere you don’t want to go.  If you see that the opportunity will take you somewhere you really don’t want to go, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it or else you may find yourself swimming hard to get out later and it could have all been avoided if you simply stopped and scouted first.

Step Two: Ask experienced guides for advice

Another tactic that can help you in making a decision is asking other experienced people for help.  Whenever I go down the river I learn a lot from more experienced guides. I know that I am not as experienced as other guides and I don’t always trust my own judgment.  When I’m unsure about how to go down a rapid I will ask other guides what routes they take.  Seeking advice from more experienced guides helps me to safely maneuver down the river.

If there are people who know you well, consider asking them to survey the river with you.  They may see an obstacle that you didn’t see and give you counsel against jumping in.  Or they may confirm to you that this opportunity is a good fit for you and worth the risk of jumping in.  When it comes to decision-making, something you should never do is trust yourself.  There are times in life when you may have a gut feeling and you know without much thought what the right thing to do is.  Other times we need the help of others to search our hearts and learn what is the best path is for us.

Step 4: Know the Risks before jumping in

Once you jump in you can’t jump back out easily.  When I was learning how to guide it didn’t take me long to learn that swimming against the current is pointless.  When swimming in the river, river guides know to use the current to help them get to where they need to go, they will rarely swim against it unless absolutely necessary.  Jumping into the river is fun but it can also be full of danger and it’s important that we access these dangers before jumping in.

After you have scouted out the river and asked for advice and feel like you are ready to jump in and take that opportunity, one last thing to do is to evaluate what the dangers are.  What are the risks that might come up as you take this path?   If things go wrong somewhere along the way and the current starts taking you somewhere dangerous, what’s your plan to get out?  One thing that river guides are always scanning the river for are eddies.   Eddies are places where the water is actually moving back upstream.  When you are in the current and need to get out, you can swim into one of these eddies and it will keep you from being swept downstream.  So before you jump in, know where your eddies are, have your back-up plans ready for when you need them.

Step three: If it’s all clear, Jump in

Once you’ve done all these things and you have found this opportunity to be safe and a good move for you, then, by all means, jump in!   You can confidently jump into this opportunity knowing that this decision is going to lead you down a path that you can follow.  You have had confirmation from others who know you well that this new opportunity is good for you and you know what the all risks are and have your backup plan for if things go wrong. Or maybe you decide not to jump in, and that is okay too. There are some rapids river guides don’t ever attempt because they know they are too dangerous. If you deemed the opportunity not a good fit for you after going through all these steps, than you most likely are saving yourself from much struggle and heartache down the road.

I also want to note that there are times when God will ask us to jump into deep waters without going through all these steps.  When God asks us to jump in without hesitation, it’s a leap of faith for us and we can rest assured that God will be the one guiding us. 

Some concluding thoughts

And there it is. This is the post that has been running through my head and reminding me that all these steps are important to take whenever we feel stuck.

What step are you finding yourself in? At this point in my situation, I am finding myself in the middle of the first two steps. I will be here for a while. The waters before me are very rough and dangerous and I need a lot of time and help if I decide to jump in. So right now, I’m choosing to take some time to evaluate the water before me. I am not ready to jump in because I need to seek out counsel and learn more about where the river is going before I can make any sort of decision. I am also realizing that I may be stuck on the edge of this river for awhile. Only God knows when the time will be right to jump in, or if that time will ever come. But I’m not stuck when I remember that there many ways to take action and prepare myself for what is ahead. Taking my time and waiting is the wisest thing I can do right now.

I hope that if you ever feel stuck and have to make a difficult decision, you don’t forget how important these steps are. Prayerfully walk through each one and hopefully it will help you realize that in God’s great time table, you never truly are stuck.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you, when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, the flames shall not consume you ”

Isaiah 43:2

While You’re Waiting

When God says wait, what are you supposed to do?

I don’t think I am not the only who thinks it sometimes feels like pure torture to just do nothing and wait for God to work. When everything I want is out of my reach and still one big unknown. It’s enough to make me panic and feel stressed. Especially when I think that waiting could mean waiting a long time. It’s important to move on and keep taking steps forward, but I also realize that for me each step needs to be a tiny-micro-baby step. Otherwise my heart will just ache too much.

But if you find yourself in one of these extended periods of waiting, what can you do? I have found that there are a few simple things that have helped me stay calm and focused. These simple habits I’ve started doing as a result of my hurting heart have become so comforting to my soul. I want to share some of them with you all in hopes it’ll encourage you too 🙂

A consistent bedtime routine with a focus on scripture memory

The first helpful habit I started is journaling each night before I go to bed. I have tried many times to have a consistent bedtime journaling routine and failed. But because of how heavy my heart has been, I have found so much comfort in journaling a few thoughts before bed and it is finally a habit I do every night. I write four categories in my journal; “Verse“, “Reflection“, “Thankfulness“, and “Prayer and Confession“.

In the verse section I write out a verse to focus on. I have been using this as a tool for memorizing so I will pick a verse that goes with a passage I want to memorize. For example, I currently am working on Psalm 118 and each night I write one verse down. The next night I’ll do the next verse. In the reflection section I usually write down any thoughts about the day I just need to write out and put on paper. Often I’ll write things related to how I felt and how I am processing my hurt. Then in the thankfulness section I jot down a few things I’m thankful for from the day. Lastly in the prayer and confession section, I try to think about a way that I have not loved or followed God well. I write out a simple prayer of confession and ask God for help to do better the next day.

It takes me only about five minutes at the most to go through all these steps. Then when I turn out my lights and begin to get sleepy, I go over all the verses in my head and work on memorizing them until I fall asleep. I have noticed my sleep has improved so much when I fall asleep memorizing scripture. It’s really quite amazing! Memorizing scripture has always been something I struggle with and I’m so happy to have finally found a method that is working for me. It brings new meaning to the verse in psalms 63:6 – “When I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night.”

Long walks for praying and journaling

Walks have always been a way for me to unwind and process things. When I need to talk to God about the things on my heart I always go on a walk. I have started calling them prayer walks. I find so much relief in being able to talk outloud to God as I walk. Often times I will bring my journal with me on my walks. If I feel led I will find a pretty place to rest and write a few thoughts down in my journal. Often times I will write down song lyrics from my favorite worship songs.

When you are hurting, I highly encourage getting outside each day and going on a walk. It’s good for your physically health too. When we get overwhelmed by life it is too easy to let the sadness keep us from moving and making healthy choices. But something beautiful happens when we choose to pick ourselves up and move our bodies and talk to our Lord about how we feel.

Reading good biblical books

In this season God has me in, I have so much time on my hands and I need to keep my mind busy so I don’t’ sink back into my sad feelings. One thing that has helped is reading good books. Especially good biblical books that keep me focused on God. I have a dear friend who even mailed me a few christian books to read. I’m currently reading one she sent me by Paul Miller on the story of Ruth. I am loving the truths in this book so much. It speaks to my hurting heart. I try to read at least one or two chapters before I go to bed each night.

Other great books that I enjoy are books that talk about the attributes of God. I have really enjoyed the books that Jen Wilkin wrote on the attributes of God; “In His Image” and “None Like Him”. Tozer also has some books on the Attributes of God that are on my list to read soon.

Jamming to worship music

I have found that music does a lot to my mood. Listening to love songs is something I avoid right now. One of the best ways to lift my mood has been listening to worship music while working and driving in my car. The words of worship songs always speak to my heart in deep ways and remind me to keep seeking God. I will often break into a giddy little dance or smile ever so widely when the lyrics in a song hit my heart just right.

To be honest with you all though, I still listen to non-christian music on occasion, but I found myself shifting more and more to mainly christian songs because of the huge benefit it has on my soul.

Staying connected and attending a Bible study

Lastly, I want to say that it’s important to stay connected. When we go through hard seasons it can be so easy to shut ourselves up and keep ourselves isolated. Sharing is hard and it hurts. But we can never truly heal if we don’t let others into our life. I find so much encouragement from my weekly bible study. It has been such a foundation for me during this time.

I also have found so much love and support from others when I reach out to them and ask them to pray for me. There are a few people I will constantly reach out to and ask for prayer and share with them a little update on my situation. God gives us other people to help us get through these hard seasons. When we don’t reach out to those people in our live than we do a disservice to ourselves. We make our hurting heart take longer to heal. Because I just moved to a new area, I really feel a lack of good community in my life. I’m also not the best at creating a new community so I hold tightly onto the small community I still do have because It helps me remember that I am not alone and there are people who are praying for me still.

Okay, think I should think about ending this post soon. It has ended up being quite a bit longer than I had anticipated it to be. I could keep going on with the ways I have been learning to rely more on God and keep my focus on him. When I look back at all the ways God has been growing me through this hard season of waiting I am thankful. I’m thankful to see that God is faithful to me and he is using this time to help me develop Godly habits and rely wholly on Him. It’s still hard, but there is good in each day and I’m choosing to focus on that good. I pray these things will encourage you to keep chasing after God and let whatever it is your facing be a means for God to grow your faith.

A Wrestling Heart

Do you ever wrestle with God?

When God takes you down a path you don’t like or when your face fears that seem like they will consume you, have you ever cried out to God and wrestled with him and asked him to take it away? Have you ever fought God on an issue of the heart when deep down you realize true surrender is the only way? I always get upset at myself for showing such weak faith in God during these times. Surely doubting and not trusting God is not a good sign for my faith. But what if God actually delights in seeing us wrestle? What if our wrestling heart is actually a sign that we truly are among God’s chosen? What if wrestling constantly is actually the only way to a fully surrendered heart for God?

Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about the life of Jacob and especially about the story in the Bible where Jacob wrestles God. If you have been following along with my journey through Genesis, this is the next big story that I am finding so much encouragement from. During my bible study we spent a lot of time discussing this story. I am just amazed and in aw at what took place in Jacobs life. Jacob physically wrestled God! If you aren’t familiar with the story here it is from Genesis;

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.  Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  The man asked him, “What is your name?”“Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”  
 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.  So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” (Genesis 32:24-30)

It is believed that this ‘man’ who wrestled Jacob was possible a pre-incarnate form of Jesus Christ. Some think that maybe it was an angle of God. But we know that it was no ordinary man that wrestled Jacob that night. I wonder, what was it like? Did this ‘man’ approach Jacob slowly and come out of the shadows, or did he attack Jacob head on with much vigor? What must Jacob have been thinking? Jacob was scared. In the verses before this passage, Jacob is afraid for his life because his brother Esau is coming to meet him with 400 men. Jacob said the most honest prayer asking God to save him and now he is all alone, waiting.

I can relate to Jacob in this place. He is alone, he is scared of the future, he is at a point in his life where all he can do is wait. Waiting to see if God hears and how God will answer. This is probably one of the hardest places to be. I was just talking to my mom the other day about how hard it is being in a place where you don’t know what God is going to do. Whether God does one thing or another thing in my life, my heart would have so much more peace if I could just know what is going to happen. But no, God hasn’t let me in on what he’s doing, and Jacob didn’t know either how God was going to answer him.

But it was in that waiting time, while he was alone, that God came and met Jacob. The ‘man’ came and wrestled with Jacob till morning. The part about this story that intrigues me the most is that Jacob was actually able to have some sort of advantage in the fight. They kept fighting and fighting and neither one would relent. Even when the ‘man’ touched Jacob’s hip and put it out by just one touch. Jacob had to know then that this man he was wrestling was God, and yet, Jacob still fought. Jacob refused to stop until the man blessed him.

Let’s take a break and look at this idea of wrestling for a little bit. Jacob physically wrestled with God, but I think that in our christian life, we often partake in a similar type of wrestling. We wrestle spiritually with God. When we don’t know what God is doing or when God takes us somewhere that is hard and hurts, don’t we often cry out to him and tell him no. We tell God we don’t want to go down this path, but we also want Him, so we wrestle. We wrestle with our desires for the good things of this world and a desire to want God above all these things. If you take a look at the psalms there are countless times that the psalmist cries out to God in agony. Yet the psalmist always goes back to praising and trusting God.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
    and by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
    enthroned on the praises[a] of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
    they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame. (Psalm 22:1-5)

This makes me think that God must like this wrestling we do with Him. That when we come to God with our questions and we wrestle inwardly with our conflict of desires, God looks on us and smiles. God is there with us as we wrestle. He wants us to choose Him. He is delighting in the fact that we are wrestling so much about following Him. I wonder how many people God has watched walk away from Him the moment hard seasons come, without even putting up a fight. Fighting is proof that you have something in you greater than them. You wrestle because God has got a hold of your heart, and even though it’s hard and you want to run, there’s something in you that says no, stay, wait. You know that you want God more.

As I was thinking more about this idea of wrestling with God, I thought about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. Easter is coming up in a few weeks so this story may be fresh in your minds. But on the night of Jesus’s crucifixion, Jesus knew the pain and agony he was about to walk through. He wrestled with God in the garden. He wrestled so hard His sweat was like drops of blood. He prayed and asked God if there was any other way. And yet Jesus also said, “not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus was perfect, sinless, but also human. He wrestled with God, he didn’t want to go through all the pain, but Jesus was also fully surrendered to God as he wrestled. This is the perfect example of godly wrestling with God. It is fully surrendered to God and it always ends with a “not my will, but yours be done.”

Is your wrestling with God fully surrendered? When you take your questions and hurts to God, do you end by saying “your will be done”? I don’t know about you, but I find so much comfort in knowing that it’s okay for my heart to wrestle with God. It’s okay to go to God and tell him my heart, tell him how much I hurt, tell him I want out. I know God hears me. But I also tell God, I want Him more, I want to follow him and I trust that whatever his will is for me, it’ll be good.

Okay, this post is getting long. But there’s one last thing I want to share from this story. So back to the story of Jacob. In the end, when morning finally comes, Jacob refuses to let the ‘man’ go until he blesses him. Jacob knows this man has the power to bless him so he clings onto him and asks for a blessing. And he did get a blessing.

Did you know that God is waiting to bless you too. The Bible is full of blessing and promises that apply to us. During the time of waiting when Jacob was scared, he held tightly onto the blessing of God. When we are in these seasons of waiting and wrestling with God, God’s blessings are all within our reach. They are truths that we can hold onto and rest in. If you are worried about the future God has plans to prosper you and not to harm you (Jeremiah 29:11). If you are dealing with a broken heart God promises to be near to the broken hearted (Psalm 34:18). If you don’t see any good in the path your on you can know that God is working all things our for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). So, as you’re wrestling, reach out, find a blessing, and hold onto it. Let the truth of that blessing carry you through and give you hope.

As you go through this Christian walk, remember that a wrestling heart is a beautiful thing to God. God loves it when we take our deepest worries and concerns to Him. We wrestle, yet we remain fully surrender to God. As we wrestle, we find rest in knowing that God’s ways truly are best and his promises to us are good. I pray that as your wrestle, you will find promises to hold onto. Jacob had no idea that the next day Esau was going to welcome him, not attack him. You are on the verge of God’s blessing and I know it’s hard. I’m in the dark too during this season in my life. But keep wrestling, and keep choosing God, and God will bring you safely through the night into a new day full of his blessing, just like he did with Jacob.

Still Obey

When the feeling is gone and life is hard, we must still obey

I came across this quote the other day from C.S Lewis’s book The Screwtape Letters:

“Be not deceived, Wormwood, our cause is never more in jeopardy than when a human, no longer desiring but still intending to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe in which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

I read The Screwtape Letters in high school. I remember it being a very interesting book about how satan’s demons are working hard to attack Christians and make their walk ineffective. When I read the book I didn’t come away thinking wow, that book really spoke to me. But fast forword to now and finding this quote has really spoken to my heart and encouraged my soul.

It’s probably because I can relate so much to the truth in this quote. When the all the good feelings are gone and you still choose to obey God and keep following God; choosing the hard path and forsaking pleasure. That is the place that the devil and his demons see as dangerous. Because once you reach that place where you feel forgotten and forsaken but still choose God, that is when you have reached the place where you will forsake anything for God. The devil is no longer able to lure you away with the pleasures of this world and he doesn’t like that.

I appreciate how the in the quote from C.S Lewis’s book he mentions how the Christian is questioning why he is forsaken by God, but then still obeys. I have cried out to God questioning Him and saying “Why?, Why this? Why me?”. But even though I cry out and at times feel forgotten by God, I still choose to walk down this hard path that leads me away from the pleasures I long for. It makes the verse in the bible about denying yourself, and taking up your cross to follow Jesus a lot more real when you have to walk away from pleasure in order to follow Jesus.

If you feel forgotten and forsaken, take courage. When you keep obeying God even when you don’t feel like it, that is when you cause those demons to shutter. That is when God is looking down on you and smiling. You bring God great joy when you choose to still obey him through the deepest of waters and forsake the pleasures of the world. And remember, God is always with you as you follow Him even when you don’t feel him. Cry out and talk to Him. Let Him know how much you love Him and how much you need Him and keep on choosing him.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Matthew 16:24