A Closer Walk: When God Asks Something Crazy

when God asks something crazyWhy would God ask me to do something so crazy?

I wanted to cry or wave my arms and scream at the unfairness of it all, but…

Sing?

It still amazes me how God will sometimes ask us to do the most extraordinary things at the most incredible times!

I thought, “Sing? You’ve GOT to be kidding!”

That was perhaps the very LAST thing I felt like doing. I mean, who sits in the ruins, life in shambles, a fresh scar on their face, and then sings about it?

Talk about asking something crazy!

I still believe in the old adage:

Pain is inevitable. ~ Misery is optional.

misery is optionalSo, I decided to try to sing.

Not an easy thing to do when you are hurting and choking on your own tears.

(No, not easy.)

I thought, “Perhaps this is what the scripture means when it says, “Give the sacrifice of praise.” a sacrifice always costs you something.

I really was trying to cooperate with God.

Again, not an easy thing to do when nothing in your life is the way you want it and I had to admit, I was still feeling plenty “ripped-off.”

sacrifice of praise

There was a stubborn part of my heart that was looking at all the rubble and thinking, “Is this all there is, if you do your best, work hard, and try to do it God’s way? Is this what you get?”

I couldn’t stop thinking about all I had given up—the place I had loved, the people I had cherished, all the shining possibilities for a career in ministry, to come back to a place I hated—for this; these ruins!

spirit of entitlementI looked at the ornery, selfish, and downright dishonest people that I had laid everything down for, and this is the result of years of obedience and faithfulness?

That spirit of entitlement dies a slow and painful death.

I didn’t know who I was more angry with, God, or the people who I believed had let me down?

And worse yet, I didn’t know how to stop being angry, especially when I looked at the way things had turned out. And now I am supposed to, SING?

Still, with all this anger I wasn’t having fun-time, either.

A gray fog of futility had settled down on me.

gray fog of futilityBefore all this happened I had always felt I knew what to do or where to go, I had a sense of direction and purpose, I had a handle on life—at least a small one. Now, I couldn’t seem to get my bearings. I didn’t want to sing, but I didn’t want to be angry either.

In truth, I didn’t know what I wanted.

I felt stuck and I hated that, too!

There’s nothing worse than being royally ticked-off and stuck inside your own skin with nowhere else to go.

God had asked me to trust Him and I thought I had.

Now I wasn’t so sure.

What if my decisions had all been wrong?

And, if you couldn’t trust God…

Who could you trust?

journal

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NOW?

Ah yes, My sweet Dreamer, you are saved by trusting.

So, you found out the people who raised you weren’t the perfect people you wanted them to be.

Well, what are you going to do now? Be angry? Be depressed? Stay confused?

Honey, listen. What have I been teaching you for these past few years? You know. People fail. People let you down. People hurt people. Even the people we thought, never would, never could hurt us!

people fail

Where do you think that dream of yours was born?

I’ll tell you, through the things you’ve suffered. Dreams and dreamers that will change the hearts of men, and heal them, are not born in nurseries of perfect people posing, posturing, and pretending to have pain-free spotless lives!

Ugh, it’s a lie spawned from Hell itself.

Do you know how many of My children feel or believe, they are disqualified from their dreams because of their failure, or the failures of others?

you are not disqualified

MILLIONS—millions of hearts, full of millions of hopes, hiding!

Why?

Because they are convinced that all is lost before they even try.

And, how can these dreams be saved? How can these dreamers be salvaged?

They are saved by trusting.

Did you know TRUST is contagious?

Did you know HOPE is infectious?

Your enemy knows.

I guess you’d better get busy.

a closer walk

 

“We are saved by trusting…”

Romans 8:24

 

Freedom’s Ring

Freedom's RingHeidi Chiavaroli’s new book FREEDOM’S RING is one of those novels you will want to read in one sitting.

Alright, I confess, it took me two days to finish it but it’s hard to say what I liked best about this book.

That’s because Freedom’s Ring takes so many of my favorite story elements, then serves them up in a fabulous feast of history, mystery, and romance, with a healthy dollop of family strife and conflict thrown in for good measure.

I truly enjoyed Heidi’s  easy and comfortable way of telling a story.

She draws the reader in right from the very start and although she bounces from past to present with each new chapter, (something I usually dislike) she has intertwined  her characters from the Revolutionary War and her contemporary heroes from the Boston Marathon Bombing, in such a skillful way, that I really didn’t mind the back and forth all that much.

Her fictional story is actually believable!

This tale of terror and war, love and heartbreak, unfolds in such an honest and down-to-earth way that it made me believe Heidi might be sharing some of her own family history with me.

Our story opens with Annie David, a victim of the Boston Marathon Bombing, trying desperately in her own strength to overcome her PTSD, and by doing so, put her fractured family life back together again.

Now, enter Brad Kilroy, her knight in tarnished armor, who “rescued her” on the day of the bombing, but Brad comes with a boatload of his own baggage from his traumatic days of serving overseas in Iraq.

Nevertheless, our emotionally wounded hero and heroine decide to join forces, put their heads together, and go in search of answers pertaining to a mysterious family heirloom that Brad has given to Annie. Their search introduces them to Liberty Caldwell, a young patriot from the Revolutionary War. Who was she, and how does Liberty’s story from centuries past, connect to Annie and Brad?

I love the way the author has used flawed and broken people to share the timeless truths of the Gospel message, and demonstrate for all of us once again, how the principles it contains are the real glue that holds our lives together—whether the year is 1775 or 2015!

Personally, I gave this book five stars, and it is now on my “Favorite Books” shelf on my Goodreads profile!

FREEDOM’S RING is available now, on Amazon, or at your other fine book retailers.


YOU CAN MEET HEIDI HERE: and  please be sure to check out Heidi Chiavaroli’s author page on Goodreads, as well as her book’s promotional page.

My thanks again to Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

 

Never Losing the Light: Under Hopeless Circumstances

“… under hopeless circumstances he hopefully believed.” Romans 4:18

alone in a storm

Be willing to live by believing and neither think nor desire to live in any other way.

Be willing to see every outward light extinguished, to see the eclipse of every star in the blue heavens, leaving nothing but darkness and perils around, if God will only leave in thy soul the inner radiance, the pure bright lamp which faith has kindled.

—Thomas C. Upham

Are you in a storm?

Is it dark?

Are you running low on hope?

Does it feel like you’re all alone or that Jesus has gone to sleep in your boat?

Well, if that’s you, I want you to know I’ve been there!

I’ve been in storms that I believed would finish me off!

(They didn’t. But at the time I sure believed they would!)

The reason they didn’t is because of The Light,  who is also called the  Holy Spirit. He is not intimidated by any storm, and part of the reason is because He works with a Saviour who is a water-walkin’ Master Mariner!

Just between you and me? When the storm is raging? They are the One’s who are willing to come close, whispering the words of hope-filled-Light and encouragement that we desperately need.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t get through a single day in my life without Them.

So, if you’re tired of bailing on your own? If you’re ready for Someone else to row for awhile? Then move over and let Them take the oars!

(They have been hoping that you would.)

Why don’t you come with us?

We’re all going to the other side of this storm!

When the world asks if there is any hope, we can say absolutely! No one is exempt from tragedy or disappointment—God himself was not exempt. Jesus offered no immunity, no way out of the unfairness, but rather a way through it to the other side.
Philip Yancey

A Closer Walk: A Heart Overhaul

In his book, The Surprising Grace of Disappointment: Finding Hope When God Seems To Fail Us, John Koessler writes,

“The construction of the spiritual life requires as much tearing down as building up.”

disappointmentI was beginning to see that, because one truth I was definitely starting to grasp… I needed to step back, and take a fresh look at many of the scriptures I loved.

When a scripture would come to mind that seemed to contradict my circumstances, I would think, “I don’t know what that means anymore…” My beliefs and my reality had a serious credibility gap.

Since I know that it is impossible for God to lie, then the only other possibility, was that my understanding of what I was reading was somehow faulty. If there is nothing false in God (and I staunchly believe there isn’t) then that meant my beliefs about what the Bible actually teaches, desperately needed an overhaul.

(It was a place to begin and just facing that truth took some of the pressure off.)

Okay, so if I am the problem, then I need to ask God to show me where the errors in my thinking are, right? Obviously, my circumstances were in direct contradiction to what I had believed God promised; especially about His care and protection. I had thought that what I HAD BELIEVED was the unmoving, unshakable Truth…

So, if it wasn’t, what was?

Can I interject something here?

There is a short prayer one of my Senior intercessors taught me while I was serving on a church staff. It can really help in times like these. She said, “If you’ve hit a wall with God, just pray: ‘God, show me my heart as You see it.’ and He will.”

until light returnsSimple. Direct. It gets right down to business. I love that.

Not a very fancy prayer, but it was an honest start, and I had a small mustard seed of hope that God would hear my heart, and be faithful to eventually answer…

Eventually? I barely had time to say “…Amen.” before He gently began to reveal, the first of many errors in my understanding about who He was, and more importantly, about what His ultimate agenda was for me specifically, and His Kingdom as a whole.

Recent events had more than accomplished the “tearing down” of my erroneous beliefs. Now it was God’s turn, and so, He met me where I was, and patiently began the task of renewing my mind, rebuilding my faith, and reviving my broken heart… real Love does that.

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IN… NOT FROM

You don’t think of yourself this way, do you? As Loved and protected? You believe that because I have allowed you to walk through so many disasters these past few years, that you are out in the storms of life, wind and rain whipping and tearing at you, and you are alone, yes?

siftedIt is true that I have allowed the enemy to “sift you.” What good are all the lessons you’ve been taught, if they don’t stand up against the assaults of the enemy? Would I build a rugged sailing ship and then keep her in the harbor? Would I never test her hull? Her rigging? Does that make sense to you?

(Of course it doesn’t.)

tell your storyListen My child. Plant this Truth deep in your heart. You are my sheltered olive tree… but you are sheltered in the storms of life~not from them. To understand this will eliminate a great deal of confusion from your mind, and it will give you a place to “set yourself” the next time a gale blows up.

How childish My church has become regarding the suffering of this world! This is a real war you’re in and real suffering goes with it—but I have not abandoned you. Quite the contrary! Not once have I left your side.

(Though there were times I stayed silent.)

heart overhaulYour storms will make you SweetHeart… and through each one, I’ll be right here.

I will shelter and protect, “in and through” and you shall come out…

Strengthened!

Stable!

Settled!

a closer walk

 

But I am like a sheltered olive tree protected by the Lord himself…” Psalm 52:8

 

A Closer Walk: I’ve Always Been A Dreamer

little dreamerI guess I’ve always been a dreamer.

As a little girl I dreamed of being a ballerina, a cowboy, the captain on a submarine… (Yes, I was a tomboy.)

But as I grew older my dreams changed.

I began to realize as I matured that a dream was something more intangible; something that would feed my soul and give wings to my spirit. I realized that a God-given-dream was more about a becoming; fufilling destined purpose; and less about having great achievements.

A question and a truth began to dawn, whispering that I was created to fulfill a niche—one custom-made for me alone.

I wish I could say the answer to this “niche question” found me right away, but actually, rather than a grand “Ah-Ha!” moment, for me it was a very slow sort of awakening. One that took many years—although I did have one small momentary breakthrough—when I was thirteen.

I had been given a creative writing assignment.

young writer

My English teacher was using one of those canned courses where you are told exactly what to write and how. Much too tame and restrictive for me, I decided I would CREATE a story of my own; one that I made up.

(I thought I was being so independent and brave!)

The next day, expecting a good scolding, imagine my astonishment when my teacher announced to the class that she had one story she wanted to read out loud.

english teacher

She lifted my paper and my words poured out in life-affirming music.

When she was finished reading she simply said, “I think this student will someday be a writer.”

A Writer.

She thought I should be a Writer?

The idea had never entered my mind, but it was too late now, the dream-seed had been planted, and then it was buried for many dark and difficult years.

dreamer's doorIt wasn’t until my fifth decade that the lost and long forgotten little dream-seed began to push back the darkness and reach for The Light.

Again, it happened quite unexpectedly during another very ordinary day.

I was in the middle of a ten-year-wilderness-march, caring full-time for my mother. Our relationship had always been difficult; strained since my early childhood. Nevertheless, I was the one elected by uninamous family-ballot to be her full-time caregiver, a “job” I had promised myself I would never, ever, do.

When God first told me I was to leave the city I loved, all my friends I loved, and the job I loved, and return to the place I had said I would never return to?

I shouted at the Lord.

Yep, total transparency, remember?

I shouted that such a move would be, “… like being buried alive!” And, it was.

Such is the circuitous route of a God-given-dream and the unfathomable ways of The Dream-Maker, until one day like someone in a fairytale, my awakening came.

It literally began in the form of a wake-up call.

Our phone rang, and I heard my aunt’s voice, sobbing. She was re-reading some of my old letters that she had tucked away in her bible.

She was recounting to me what I had written to her—but I wasn’t listening.

finding lost dream

Instead, in one of those very surreal-kind-of-deja-vu-moments, I held my breath as that thirteen-year-old girl and her dream awoke.

Rubbing Rip-Van-Winkle-sleep from her eyes, she sat up, stretching arms to the sky. Eyes wide and blinking, she turned to look at me, and smiled…

And I in turn, looked up into the vast blue sky—into the face of a God—that I knew was smiling too.

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IT TAKES TIME

I know how difficult it is waiting for Me.

I know, too, how it tries the soul and twists the heart.

(I know.)

You think I AM uncaring; unconcerned to let you wait so long.

(You think I don’t know everything that goes on in that mind of yours?)

But ask yourself,

“Do you want visions and dreams picked too soon like unripe fruit?”

Would I be a loving and responsible parent if I gave you responsibilities you are not yet prepared for? You are focused on the one final product ~ the promise possessed; the vision a reality. I on the other hand, am focused on you. You are My primary concern and always will be. It is your becoming that holds My rapt attention… yes, what you are in the process of becoming.

I wish I could tell you that you could get what you want by a wave of the hand, or a twitch of the nose, but those are fairy stories. The dreams and visions I have for you are very real. Encourage yourself with this Truth: “One day…”

I tell you, the day is coming when all I have whispered into your spirit will come to pass. I AM not called: Promiser. I AM called: DELIVERER!

You are never out of My care, whether you are waiting from the backside of the desert, or a prison cell; whether you are one hundred years old like Abraham, or a small child like Samuel.

Your times are in My hands.

All is well.

It takes TIME to make a dream come true, but come they do

One day.

a closer walkOne day as Moses was tending the flock… suddenly the Angel of Jehovah appeared to him as a flame of fire in a bush.”

Exodus 3:1-2

 

THE GARDEN: God’s Heart For Relationship With You by Kari Jobe

Imagine…

It’s a beautiful morning. The orange glow of the rising sun paints itself across the expanse of the sky as you awaken to the beautiful sight, laying on a bed of soft, lush grass.

In the background, you can hear the rushing water of a flowing river that is sweet and refreshing. You can feel the breeze sweeping across the garden, constant and comforting. You can see the flowers and trees dancing with the wind, surrounding you in beauty.

You can hear footsteps, familiar and sure. You can sense the warmth of His love as He opens His arms, welcoming you to a new day in the garden.

I love thinking about what it must have been like in the Garden of Eden.

That Adam and Eve would wake up every morning in such a place, walking and talking with the Creator of Heaven and Earth amazes me.

Yet what God intended to be an eternal experience became a painful memory after the fall.

Sin entered the world and the intimacy and depth of relationship once experienced in the garden with God . . . was no more.

It must’ve been heartbreaking, not only for Adam and Eve, but also for God. After all, that was His heart – to walk and talk with His creation, His children, His beloved.

 

But the good news is, the separation is gone. Because of the finished work of Jesus Christ, our intimacy with God has been restored.

The garden no longer has to be a dream of what was. It can be a reality for your life today. Yet that can be a hard truth to remember and believe when we’re driven to grief by loss or brought to our knees by tragedy.

God’s goodness and love can seem difficult to trust in those moments.

As I started the process of writing for my newest album, The Garden, I went through such a season as my sister and her husband experienced the loss of their baby girl, James Ivy.

I still remember getting the call while on a business trip with my husband. At the time, I was pregnant with my son, Canyon, and it had been a dream come true to be pregnant at the same time with my sister.

But James had been born stillborn and in that moment, all I could think was God, I don’t understand.  

Perhaps you know this feeling. Maybe today, you are seeking God for comfort because of the loss of a loved one, friend, or a bad health report.

If so, I want you to know it’s okay. God can handle your disappointment. He empathizes with your feelings and He doesn’t question your sorrow. He longs to be in that place with you and surround you with His love, joy, and peace.

Personally, the more days I experience as a mom, the more aware I become at just how much our Heavenly Father loves us.

I love Canyon so much; more than he will ever know.

And to think that God, so majestic and glorious in all His ways, would love us in ways so high, so deep, so long, and so wide that we can’t comprehend it . . . it refreshes and comforts my heart in the difficult seasons.

Realize, we may not understand everything that happens in life.

There may still be questions. But that doesn’t change who God is, how much He loves us, and the destiny He has for each of our lives.

You see, God is always tending to the details of our hearts and souls. Like a gardener, He knows what to prune and what seeds to sow. He’s not distant or disconnected from our pain. In fact, He’s right there the whole time, turning ashes into a heavenly picture of beauty.

It might not happen in a day, much like a flower doesn’t grow in a day. But just like a gardener is sure that what he plants will grow, you can be sure that what God touches, He will bless and bring forth life from.

It’s been a difficult journey healing from the loss of my niece. But if there’s one thing I believe, now more than ever, it’s that God is good and His love never fails and never forsakes in every season life brings.

Even in the loss, you can focus on your God who will carry you through it. In spite of the struggle, you can worship your Heavenly Father who is greater than any and every attack of the enemy.

What Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden of Eden you can experience today.

God is good, He sees you, He calls you His beloved child, and He is working all things together for your good. He desires to meet with you right where you are.

I pray that you would experience the intimacy, comfort, and beauty of the garden today.

Faith is rising up like ivy,
Reaching for the light
Hope is stirring deep inside me
Making all things right
Love is lifting me from sorrow
Catching every tear
Dispelling every lie and torment
Crushing all my fears

From “The Garden”

Kari Jobe

Kari is a singer, songwriter, wife and mother. Since her first album in 2009, she has received one Grammy nomination and four Dove Award nominations, three of which she won. Kari is also a worship pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

FROM: PROPEL WOMEN.ORG