When the Freezer Thaws

©2015 PurePurpose.org
©2015 PurePurpose.org

The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. (Psalm 145:13)

I expect the freezer to keep my food frozen. I expect the clothes I put into the washing machine to come out clean. I expect my laptop to load my inbox messages. Despite the trust I’ve put in these things, I’ve been surprised when I find soggy, spoiled food in my freezer, soapy, drenched clothes in the washing machine, and an error message in my email inbox.

It’s not just machines and electronics that let me down; I’ve also been disappointed by people I’ve trusted. I’ve been untrustworthy at times, too. But God is completely trustworthy every single moment and every single situation.

When we’re in situations where we feel challenged, threatened, or unsafe, we might question God’s presence and His trustworthiness to care and provide for us. But God’s goal is not for you to remain safe from all danger and mishap. If you’re looking for a cave of faith in which to hide for the remainder of your life in preparation for joyful eternity in heaven, you’re not going to find it.

Some of us seek safety, and others seek adventure. If you enjoy the comfort of safety, God will challenge you with adventure. If you prefer adventure, He will challenge you with stability. God gives us safety when we need it, but He doesn’t give us a place to hide when we need to face a conflict, person, or fear. He knows when we’re depleted or in danger versus when we’re running to hide from something or someone we need to face.

We can trust God to give us security in any situation, whether we need to retreat to His safe haven or advance with the security of His boldness and provision. Ask God to help you fully trust His timing, provision, and guidance today.

Lesson from Nature: Secure on the Edge

©PurePurpose.org
©PurePurpose.org

I looked for a quiet place to read my Bible. I stepped onto the ledge of rocks and could look to both sides and see the coastline for quite a distance. I heard the waves lapping the shoreline and felt the cool breeze and sunshine on my face. It was “my” spot. I sat down and settled in.

After reading for a while, I looked down and decided to snap a photo. It looked as if I was precariously sitting on a dangerous ledge, but I felt secure. I wasn’t uncertain, teetering on top of a slippery, unstable ledge. My feet dangled in air. They weren’t on solid ground, but that was okay.

I went back to reading God’s Word and thought about the security yet uncertainty of God’s Word. By uncertain, I don’t mean I’m not certain about it, or even more so, that God is uncertain in any way. It (and He) is unchangeable. However, I am changed every time I open it. It’s as if I feel secure as I settle into it, yet I don’t know where it’s going to take me. I don’t know exactly where God is going to guide me. With each word, God might guide me into exploring a new path, challenging me to change, weeding through my thoughts, changing my heart. I can certainly rely on Him…including relying on Him to guide my next steps.

I can be secure in God’s will without being certain about everything it entails. I don’t have to understand everything. My life might not be safe at times. God doesn’t promise me safety. He promises me security, and that doesn’t depend on my surroundings. Security is about my heart. It’s about eternity. I’m okay with my next steps being uncertain because of the certainty I have in eternity. I want my next steps to make a difference, inviting God to change my heart along the way. I don’t want to focus on the “someday” with Him. I want to live today, right now, for and with Him.

I don’t really mind that my feet are dangling over the edge, as long as I’m standing firmly on His Word.

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
All things were created through Him,
and apart from Him not one thing was created
that has been created.
Life was in Him,
and that life was the light of men.
That light shines in the darkness,
yet the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

Fit Faith: Balance: Backyard Practice

I wasn’t completely comfortable with the balance beam when I was in gymnastics. As I watch world class gymnastics on television, I hear commentators say particular athletes feel “at home” on the beam and know there are only a few people like that in the world. It’s not natural to feel completely comfortable on a 4-inch wide plank a little more than four feet off the ground, especially when you start turning, leaping and flipping!

It’s not that I was petrified of being on the beam. I actually liked it, but I had to practice and face fears. My gymnastics team practice time wasn’t enough for me. I knew I needed more. So, my dad built a beam for me in our yard. It wasn’t exactly regulation, and I couldn’t attempt the most difficult tricks because of safety, but I loved it for practicing the basics. I’d walk back and forth, turn, leap, mount and dismount over and over. The shaky balance between confidence and fear began to shift. My focus turned from fear to face confidence instead.

Balance in life is rarely between two opposing ideas or objects as we often believe. It’s not a playground seesaw, tipping to one side to get the momentum to compel the other side to move to equal status. We rarely want to balance such opposites as good and evil or right and wrong in such ways. Balance is more what we focus upon. When I was on the beam, my balance was determined by my focus. I could focus on fear or confidence. Whichever consumed me impacted whether I was on the beam or the floor.

Balance is as much about focus as anything else. Consider all the how-to-balance-your-life books and articles you’ve read. Tips and tools given usually have to do with priorities. What floats to the top of the list is what gets focused upon, and other areas of life take a backseat. When what’s focused upon is fear, growth often takes a backseat. I can’t fear and persevere at the same time, unless I’m persevering through fear, which means fear isn’t the focus. Perseverance is.

I remember standing on the balance beam at a competition, preparing to reach for the beam by bending over backward. I probably only froze for a moment, but it felt longer for me as I was gripped by fear and doubt and quickly wrestled with my options. I didn’t want to fall. I didn’t want to get hurt. I didn’t want to be embarrassed. I didn’t want to let my team down. I didn’t want my coach to be mad at me. My best option? Go for it! I’d done the stunt enough times to know what I was doing. All I had to do was focus.

We often focus on can’ts of life instead of standing firm on the confidence we have. Fortunately, it’s not our own confidence we have to rely upon. We’d be in big trouble if it was. I know people who present themselves as very confident, but in reality, there is a shaky foundation under the confidence, because it’s something they’ve made up for themselves. That means when something comes along that shakes the foundation they thought was so strong, even when it takes nearly a lifetime to have the foundation disturbed, they have to question not only what they’ve been focusing on for extended time but also what they’ll focus on in the future.

God doesn’t say we’re to be self-confident. We’re to be God-confident.

You should have confidence because you respect God. Job 4:6

Whether or not I stay on the balance beam isn’t as important as where my focus is. When my focus is on God, I will be balanced and sure-footed in the confidence he promises me.

Be Careful

I grew up on a farm. I learned about safety. But I also had a lot of adventures. I had a blast playing around the farm and in the woods. I didn’t have a lot of fear. Looking back, I think of “what could have happened” and shudder.

I wasn’t supposed to be outside without shoes. Generally, the rule was only enforced beyond the yard. I could understand that. There were all kinds of sharp objects around the barns and other buildings. My sister had stepped on a pitchfork once. I preferred bare feet. Still do. One day, I was playing in the yard, and a barn cat ran under the old porch. I “needed” to rescue him. One rusty nail and a tetanus shot later, I still hadn’t caught the cat.

I could have stayed in the house. We often stay in the safe zone. But what if we don’t take any risks? What if we’re not bold? We often seek safety. We want the people we love to be safe. There’s security in safety. Even those who thrive on adventure would prefer to be safe at the end of the adventure. We often want a thrill, but it’s a time-limited experience. We don’t live on the constant high of a thrill. We want an underlying, dependable foundation of security.

Where do you fall on the safety/adventure scale? Which do you prefer?

What unsettles you about the opposite end of the spectrum?

Living the life God intends isn’t safe. Read the Bible. He’s not a safe God. He’s a God of refuge. He’s a God of trust. He’s a God of dependability. But he’s not safe. Look around you. Life isn’t black and white. “Good guys” die young. “Bad guys” get away with some things. Or so it seems. We need to broaden our perspective. Even when we broaden our perspective, we can’t broaden it enough to see life from God’s perspective.

But we can know him better, and by knowing him better, even when we don’t understand, we trust.

We trust God enough that when we’re bold, we know we’re safe. Not the kind of safety we prefer perhaps…but safe in knowing who God is, the guidance he gives us to live the life he intends, and the provision he’s given us to live eternally with him because of our personal relationship with Jesus. If we choose it.

When we choose to play it safe, we’ll miss out on some opportunities God gives us to be bold in his name. When we’re bold for God, we’re safe in the security of his plan.

I’d rather be bold in obedience to God and not be safe by the world’s standards than shrink from the person he wants me to be.

What do you want? Listen to God’s guidance. Live by his rules. He’ll allow room for adventures. Enjoy the thrill!

And this is the boldness we have in God’s presence: that if we ask God for anything that agrees with what he wants, he hears us. 1 John 5:14

The Roller Coaster

I asked the women in my small group to describe the past week with one word. As women responded, I realized I hadn’t thought of a word for myself. The only one that came to mind was “roller-coasterish.” It seems I often break my own rules in small group…I asked for one word and threw out a non-word. But it was accurate. The week was roller-coasterish.

I’m confident you’ve had similar days, weeks, and seasons of your life. The reality is…our lives are roller-coasterish.

In the middle of the roller-coasterish week, one of my best friends called and left me a message:

“I know you’re having a week of ups and downs, and I was just thinking…isn’t it just like God to give you a week like this? You’re writing Pure Emotion, and God is blessing you with experiences that are only going to help you pour into writing so Pure Emotion speaks to the women who study it. God is good.”

It didn’t feel like a blessing at the time, but I knew once I heard her words that God was directly using my dear friend to help me see something I wasn’t able to see by myself.

I can often perceive the highs of the roller coaster to be positive and the lows to be negative, but that’s not the case. Yes, it might be my experience, but my experiences don’t accurately reflect reality at times. I don’t completely understand God’s economy.

So those who are last now will someday be first, and those who are first now will someday be last. Matthew 20:16

Those who try to hold on to their lives will give up true life. Those who give up their lives for me will hold on to true life. Matthew 10:39

Not everything makes logical sense. That’s where faith comes in. Faith doesn’t mean God doesn’t want you to think about things. He made you in his image. You’re a thinking person, capable of logic and reasoning. He gave you the capacity to think…but just like so many other aspects of ourselves made in his image – including emotions – what he blessed us with can get in the way. We can build a wall between us and God with the exact characteristics and gifts he intends for us to build a bridge with. Our faith is the bridge, and when we trust God’s promises, the bridge is firm and strong. Trustworthy. God desires for you to trust his trustworthiness. Even on the roller coaster.

Will you trust God’s safety harness on the roller coaster?