My Spider Web Epiphany

If you know me, you know that I hate bugs. I really dislike the time of year when the flying critters are at your doorstep. You know, the ones attracted to the porch light. It freaks me out just to unlock my door when I get home. I am sure people walking by would probably wonder what the crazy girl, waving her keys around in the air, is doing, but I’m just trying to scare away those pesky insects. Lately, however, I haven’t noticed as many. Today, when I left my apartment, I saw a spider web in the far top corner of my doorway and inside that spider web are several of those little flying bugs that I disdain so much. Now don’t get me wrong, I hate spiders too, but it made me stop and think for a second. Am I OK with the spider if it takes away these other bugs? I mean, it’s doing its natural job and getting rid of other insects. Then I wondered if perhaps sometimes prayer is like that. What if the answer to our prayer is not what we want, but it’s still an answer to our prayer? Do I want a spider living outside my doorstep? Eh, not particularly. But I don’t have to deal with things flying at my face when I’m trying to unlock my door.

Hear me out a minute. We’ve heard the saying many times that the Lord works in mysterious ways, and I believe I’m seeing that much more this year than I ever have before in my life. I’m learning that my prayers do not go unanswered. Sometimes they’re just answered in a way that I either would not look for, or possibly even appreciate. The Bible also says His ways are not my ways. Check out Isaiah 55:8-9: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” So sometimes when I’m looking for the answer to the prayer I prayed, perhaps I need to ask God what that answer is, and not assume that the answer to my problems is that they will just disappear. Now I didn’t say a prayer for those bugs to leave my doorstep, but if I had I’m sure I would have simply wanted them to vanish, having a spider show up and capture them all would not have crossed my mind.

Earlier this year I prayed very fervently for a medical procedure I was having. There was the possibility that I would have to have two procedures done, but I only wanted one of course. That would save on cost, time off work, and overall well being. Now, when I say I prayed fervently, I mean it. I even got the elders of the church to lay hands on me and everything. But guess what, it didn’t happen. I was extremely disappointed. I was confused as to why God would answer my prayer with a ‘no’. Then I read Proverbs 14:12, which is repeated in Proverbs 16:25. It says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” When I read that scripture, I thought about how the one procedure was risky, and if not done right could have led to many complications. I now have faith that God was looking out for me when He answered my prayer with a ‘no’. However, during that time I also met my Out of Pocket Maximum and didn’t have to pay very much for my second procedure. He was looking out for me!

How many times has God answered my prayer, but I was too selfish or too caught up in myself to even realize what His answer was? How many times is God sitting on His throne just saying, “Hey Kiely, look over here” or “look over there?” Sometimes when we have a desire, a need, or a request of the Lord we don’t even stop and ask Him if this is this His will for us. Sometimes I feel like Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and I’m kicking and screaming in prayer, essentially saying, “this is what I want, and I want it now!” Then when it doesn’t happen, I get upset that the Lord didn’t answer my prayer, when I didn’t even ask Him if that’s what He wanted for me in the first place.

Sometimes we need to take a step back from ourselves and ask the Lord what His purpose and His plan is in whatever it is that we’re going through. We often get so caught up in the hand of God that we forget about the heart of God. Do we want His blessings over His presence? I know I’ve been there. That’s something that we all must answer for ourselves.

I’ve decided something for myself recently. The blessing of His salvation was the greatest gift I could ever receive. If I never receive another blessing in my life, I would take the presence of our God every single time. Because without that there is no life. Without that I am not fulfilled. Thankfully, our God is a good God and I know He’ll bless me anyway.

spider-webepiphany

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But Jesus Doesn’t Text Me Back

I’m just gonna start this post by saying if you don’t like reading about real life Christianity, then you might want to pass up this post. This is about me, my insecurities, and all the things I mess up on, with a few ah-hah moments thrown in. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m real and raw and I am totally imperfect. Thank goodness for His saving grace or I’d be a hot mess. If you haven’t clicked the x in the corner of your browser, I hope you enjoy.

Growing up I struggled with self-confidence. I was an awkward kid and a very self-conscious young adult. Without going into the nitty-gritty, I often turned to guys to fill the void that I felt in my life, and for a season it seemed to work. I’d meet a guy who made me feel beautiful, wanted, and who didn’t notice all my imperfections. Then something would happen and whatever reason I’d be single again and start the cycle over. That was my way of life for many years, before I fully committed myself to the Lord.

How many of you know that the devil doesn’t have any new tricks?? He’ll use the same thing we were stuck on for years in an attempt to turn us away from the loving arms of our Savior. I’m no exception to the rule. Not too long ago I got a text from a guy used to date. I haven’t seen this guy in over five years, but he always seems to reach out to me in my most vulnerable times, the times when I’m feeling particularly sad or lonely. (And people say the devil isn’t real! lol)

Well, I decided to text him back and we had a friendly conversation. I noticed that I started waiting for a text from him and wanting to see what he was up to, not because I have an interest in getting back together with him, but simply because I was feeling lonely and longed for some sort of companionship. We continued to text a few more times, nothing serious, just friendly dialogue. But even though I knew we were going to be just friends, getting a text from someone who I knew liked me helped to fill that void, which I thought was already full, in some small way.

A few weeks into this whole texting thing, I was driving through my parking garage, checking my phone, when that still small voice whispered to my spirit and asked me a question.  Why I don’t get as excited or happy to hear from Jesus? I immediately felt convicted, but very quickly replied:  I do, but Jesus doesn’t text me back.

Yep. That’s right. That was my answer. But Jesus doesn’t text me back. That phrase has replayed in heart ever since. Prayer has always been a hard for thing for me to make time for. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I talk to Jesus all the time. I whisper little prayers throughout the day or lay in bed and give thanks before I fall asleep. But those long prayer sessions or intersession meetings were just never something I seemed to be able to get into. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried. But instead of praying I manage to fall asleep, write a grocery list, or think of various things I could be doing other than having a two hour long prayer meeting.

My response has really forced me to take a hard look at my relationship with Christ for several reasons:

  1. When I don’t fill myself (or those voids) with things of the Spirit, the enemy will offer up alternatives. Letting myself get drained to the point that a man can fill something in me, that God should be able to, simply isn’t acceptable. My source should always be the Lord and when it’s not, I better take a moment to find my Source again. I love what Hebrews 12:1b-3 says in The Message: “Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now He’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

When I’m drained, lonely, whatever, I simply need to run to the cross, to my Source and He will renew me.

  1. I need to be more proactive in my relationship with the Lord. We don’t receive replies to text messages we never send. Whether that’s in a prayerful sense, to the Lord, or even to those people in our lives who lift us up. There are many places I can turn when I’m feeling lonely or down about life. Of course, the Lord is always an option, but there are other folks in my life I can turn to as well. I can think of at least five people (probably more) in my life who, if I reached out to them, would not hesitate to meet up with me in a heartbeat. But, I don’t ask them to because it’s embarrassing to admit I’m not doing ok. I just need to take ownership of my feelings and not allow them to continue dragging me down. It’s ok to recognize a feeling or an emotion. That doesn’t make it any more or less real, but it’s what we do with those feelings and emotions that impact our lives. Ephesians 4:9-10 in The Message says “It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps.”
  1. I don’t have to have long prayer sessions, but leaving time for listening is important. Just the fact that He was able to touch my heart with this lesson is proof that I hear from Him. Even Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 in The Message, “Pray all the time.” To me that means those short frequent prayers, and my response that day was proof to me that we do communicate without spending hours in the prayer closet. However, I need to spend more time listening and less time doing the talking. (I think my time of communion lately has helped with this.)

This was also a reminder for me to continue to use the SOAP method of bible study.                Scripture/Observation/Application/Prayer. Those observations are often what the Lord is speaking to your heart about. If you want more information on this, click HERE.

To sum it all up, I do think Jesus texts us back, just not in the instant, visible way that we’re used to.  It’s not always fun learning something like this, but I’m so very thankful that I did. Remember to keep yourself filled, reach out when you need to, and just take a minute to listen.  If Jesus texted you back, what would He be saying?

Jesus Don't Text Me Back

Life Lessons from an Addict

Life Lessons

On March 31st my sister would have been 48. She was my best, and often times, only friend growing up. I was an awkward kid. I was chubby and didn’t have any fashion sense. I had a bad haircut and was told I smelled. I was bullied pretty heavily as a child. I remember going home crying many times in elementary school. But there was one person (aside from my parents) who loved me no matter what, my sister Steph.

Steph was gorgeous. She was bright, witty, and caring. She loved music and she loved life. And she struggled. She was an addict. As a young child, I don’t think it registered to me. I don’t remember questioning why my older, fun, and super cool sister came to live us. I didn’t mind sharing my room with her. She was my sister, my best friend. She came in and out of our lives when I was younger. I remember one time around third or fourth grade she moved back to Texas. I vividly recall following in her footsteps as she was preparing to walk out the door, begging her to stay. She walked through the kitchen and the dinner leftovers were sitting on the counter and she ate a spoonful of corn, so I ate a spoonful of corn. She washed her hands, so I washed mine. And then she left. I was devastated.

And then she’d come back. She’d live with us a for a while, and then she’d move out. When she was sober she was the same amazing Stephanie that I saw as a little child. She would spend hours praying. She loved God very much. When she wasn’t sober, well, she was paranoid, irresponsible, and unpredictable.

Her son, Justin, stayed with us sometimes. He grew to be more of a little brother to me than a nephew. Born on my birthday when I was seven, I remember her telling me she got me the best birthday present ever.

The sober times went really well. But there were rocky times too. While, as a teenager, I thought that it was cool for my 28-year-old sister to hang out with me, a lame 14-year-old, looking back on it I can see how destructive those behaviors were. She would buy me and friends booze and we would party all night. I remember spending the night at her house in 9h or 10th grade and she offered me drugs for the first time. Boy, was that an experience. After that, I’d spend many weekends with her partying, drinking, and getting high during those first few years of high school. This was after Steph had been sober for a while and religiously attending AA and NA, so my parents trusted her with me. They didn’t realize she had, once again, relapsed.

I remember a few months after the first time she gave me hardcore drugs, having tried them and liked them and imbibing occasionally, I never felt that pull or that urge to do them like she did, she at looked me very sullenly. She said, “God must really have a plan for your life. You’ve never gotten addicted to this stuff, like me.” Looking back my history with her, I learned several lessons. One of them stemming from this conversation. Remember, Steph loved me. She loved me dearly. But, she gave me drugs, knowing her world was flipped upside down because of them. Lesson number one: the saying “hurt people, hurt people” is absolutely true.

The saying “hurt people, hurt people” is absolutely true.

I believe Steph was lonely, not just physically, but probably as felling like the black sheep of the family. I often wonder if her bringing me, the honor roll, goody-goody, along with her on the ride somehow subconsciously, made her feel like she wasn’t the bad kid for once. While, my parents loved her fully, the years of being sober and relapsing had taken its toll on their trust. I wish I could go back and tell her that it’s not worth it, throw the drugs she handed me down the toilet, and demand more from her. Tell her to stand up and be the mom and sister we needed her to be. I wish I could go back hold her and tell her how amazing she is. Tell her that God had a plan for her life too. That God loved her no matter what and she didn’t need to run or hide from anything.

Steph would often steal things and pawn them for drug money. One time, it became too much and she was prosecuted and sentenced to time in state prison. At this point in my life I was in college, but we’d still write each other letters. My parents assumed guardianship of Justin. Steph was very remorseful. She joined a Christian group in prison and again would spend hours praying. She dedicated most of her time in prison to pray and to writing. She wrote poetry and short stories often. While we never wrote anything together, I often wonder if my love of the written word comes from her.

When was released from prison, eventually she returned to our hometown. She tried to get involved with a local church. But, one thing led to another and Steph wound up back on drugs again. She called me crying one day. I asked her what had happened, because she had plans to start a prayer ministry at church. She said she had asked the pastor if she could start and lead a prayer group, but the pastor told her to wait a while. He not yet, she’d need to come to the church for a while and get involved and be a member regularly before they felt comfortable allowing anyone new to lead a group. All Steph heard in that answer was “no” and “you’re not good enough”. Looking back on it I realized another important lesson: do not underestimate the power of God’s grace.

Do not underestimate the power of God’s grace.

Steph’s go-to when she was hurting was drugs. I think after falling off the wagon so many times, she felt like she couldn’t run home again. My parents were very cognizant, after seeking help, that they had enabled her in the past, and they had to draw that hard line. They couldn’t allow to keep moving back in. But God doesn’t have a hard line. We’re used to treating God like He’s a person, but thank goodness, He’s not! He’ll never stop us from running back to Him to ask for forgiveness. There’s no sin too big or too bad that He would turn His back on us if we’re seeking Him. I don’t think Steph would haven’t gotten to the point she ended at, if she realized how deep and how wide God’s love is for us. I love the song “How He Loves Us” by David Crowder. There’s a verse in it that says “If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.” Can you imagine a grace like that? I wish Steph could have.

There are so many lessons that I can look back and learn from throughout Steph’s life. Her passion for writing, her love for her son, and her carefree spirit are all things that I look back on adoringly. Steph lived a hard life, but she still managed to smile and she still managed to love me in a way that was all her own. She made an awkward kid feel special and I’ll never forget that. She helped fan the flame of fire in my heart for the Lord and I still have the daily devotional, “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers, that she gave me in 2002, sitting on my bedside table.

If there’s anything else I can I leave you with, it’s my very favorite passage from this devotional. It’s the passage I read the day I was sitting at the funeral home for her visitation, May 14th, 2008.

Our circumstances are the means of manifesting how wonderfully perfect and extraordinarily pure the Son of God is.

In my pain that day, sitting on the steps of the funeral home, I continued reading the passage that taught me if God puts me some place, He is amply sufficient to take care of me there. I decided from that day forward that I would live the life that Steph always attempted to live, a life for God. That I would quit allowing circumstances to cripple me and send me running to a vice or a to guy or to food. It’s been a learning experience every single step of the way, but I’m learning how to trust Him more and more each day.

I could probably write a book on all of the lessons that I learned from sister, but I’ll end here. Steph was an amazing woman and I loved her dearly. In the end, the drug had caused her to lose her mind and she was diagnosed as schizophrenic. When she overdosed in 2008 it was a major loss for not only my family, but the world she brought light to. She is dearly missed, but knowing she’s no longer suffering or struggling allows me to be thankful each day. I believe she’s now doing what she always to do…sitting at the feet Jesus and loving Him wholeheartedly.

I wrote a poem her in 2009, which I’ve posted before, but I would feel remiss not to add it here to end as well.

Dedicated to Stephanie Lynn Donovan
3/31/68 – 5/11/08

Her powdered utopia dug her grave
That crystal dust was all she craved
White lines blurred her hopes and dreams
All the while down her cheek tears streamed
Living a life she loved and hated
Making sure her pain was sedated
Wanting to be a good mother and daughter
Our hope for her was all but slaughtered
One day here, the next day gone
Left to wonder what she OD’d on
She slipped away so fast, so soon
Even she knew her candy was doom
She loved God but couldn’t serve Him
The drug was her cage – that much was certain
Now once and for all she is finally free
Our bright and beautiful Stephanie

Not So Selfie

OK, I’ll admit it. I am one of those girls that takes a lot of selfies. I mean if I’m feeling particularly cute, I might take 10 or 15 at one time. It has to be just right. My hair, my make-up, the lighting, even the background. It all comes into play. Some people say that’s narcissistic behavior, I say it’s fun. I mean really, what’s the big deal? This post isn’t to debate whether or not a selfie is a good or a bad thing to do, but to analyze the way that we see ourselves. A selfie is defined as a photograph that’s taken of oneself, typically one taken with the smart phone or webcam and shared via social media. I think that it’s better described as a picture taken as a mirror image of ourselves. We take selfies with the front facing camera, the mirror image camera, not the camera that faces away from us. Because really that’s what a selfie is — a picture taken just like we see ourselves in the mirror. The picture better shows others how we feel we look.

I read an interesting article recently. You can check it out HERE. It’s about the real reason why we always hate the way we look in photos. It isn’t because we look too fat or we feel our hair could have looked better, it boils down to a concept known as “mere-exposure.” The article explains, ““Mere-exposure” says we “react more favorably” to things we’re used to, including our own faces. After years of looking at ourselves in the mirror and stewing in vanity, we’ve become familiar with the face looking back at us — our mirror image. What’s so problematic about this, however, is that pictures are not mirror images. They show us how we really look.”

I think as Christians we have become this way too. We’ve gotten so used to looking at ourselves through our guilt, our shame, and through our inadequacies that we forget that is not how we really look. The truth of the matter is, it’s so much harder for us to see ourselves how we truly look — how Christ truly sees us.

How does Christ see us? I’m a child of God (John 1:23), I am blameless (Colossians 1:22), I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37), and I am called (1 Corinthians 7:17). I can go on and on about who we are in Christ. There is probably over 100 statements we could make about that and just as many blog posts. It’s a beneficial study, and I encourage you to Google “Who I Am in Christ” and read all about His goodness, mercy, and what He has done for us, but before any of that matters we have to come to the realization that the way see ourselves isn’t accurate.

If you were to ask me what my “selfie” version of my spiritual self is or how I would describe myself spiritually, I would have said: prideful, yet full of self-doubt, and probably a little self-pity, definitely lacking in faith, not patient enough, and not near enough self-control.  It’s so much easier for me to see the negative aspects of myself, because that’s what I see or focus on more often. So when Christ tries to show me a snapshot of myself, my blameless, conquering self, I can’t believe it. It doesn’t seem real.

Have you seen looked at a picture of yourself and thought, “is that really me” or “is that what I really look like”? I think if we began to focus on how Christ sees us and not how we see ourselves, we’d be much more inclined to believe the good within us, which, by default, would empower us to walk out those promises of Christ.

How do we begin to believe differently about ourselves? Ultimately, it’s pretty simple. Romans 10:17 lays it out for us. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” We have get in the Word, find out who we are in Christ (Google helps here), and study it. I think there’s a reason why this verse repeats the word “hearing”. It could have very easily said faith comes by hearing the word of God, right? But it doesn’t. It repeats it, and I think that how we get things, how we remember who we are, by repetition. If I read John 1:23 once and never read it again, it’s nice. I may or may not remember it tomorrow, but if I read it every morning for a month, or every morning of every day, guess what…you can’t convince me I’m not a child of God! It’s in my heart and it’s in my mind, because I’ve not only memorized it, but I’ve chewed on it over and over and meditated on it. That’s the key to change and that’s the key changing our mindset. Repetition. It’s simple, yet it requires a radical dedication to the Word. I don’t know about you, but I’ve taken so many “selfies” in the spirit that it’s hard for me to believe what that what the Bible says about who we are applies to this girl who stumbles and falls, but guess what, it does! And if He sees me and my mess as a beautiful masterpiece, then you’re no exception. We just have to remember to see ourselves the way He does and not through our own selfie. notsoselfie

The Best Thing I Wrote in 2015

The best thing I wrote this year was my father’s eulogy, so I wanted to share it here as a reminder for me.

I am the writer in the family-blogs, poems, and things like that, and when we talked about writing a eulogy, I got the job. When I looked up ‘writing a eulogy’ online, you start with a chronological timeline of a person’s life and then add in fun or cheerful stories as filler. As I was typing the eulogy, the timeline was easy, we essentially did that with the obituary already. Then I just stared at the screen. Everything I typed, I re-read in Pastor John’s voice and knew that whatever I wrote, would need to come from someone close to dad.

I read a “how to write a eulogy” and it sure was interesting, but I know that nothing I say can would accurately encompass the amazing man, father, and husband that my dad is. But, here’s my best try:

Dad was the strong and silent type. An all-star jock in high school, a Senior Chief in the US Navy, and a nuclear engineer. My dad was strong. But he was the silent type. I remember in high school when my friends would come over, they always thought he was scary. He would come out of his room, and with his deep voice say “hello” and that was all they knew. But he certainly was the silent type too. In his silence, and by his actions alone, he taught me many things:

I remember dad always made me walk on the inside of the sidewalk so he was closest to the street. In that silent, but very loud action he taught me to put others first.

I remember many times we would be walking from one location to another and dad would always bend over and pick up trash. He would carry it with him until he found a garbage can, and as a young girl I remember feeling that it was very embarrassing. But, with that silent, yet very loud action he taught me to care about the community.

Growing up I remember we would go to Hastings, back when it was over by Denny’s, and I would a buy a book, we would rent movies, and more often than not, dad would by one, or several, computer games. We would sit for hours, the boys, dad and I, playing Space Quest or other games. One night I remember him buying several computer games and after we walked outside dad checked his receipt, checked the items in the bag, and without hesitation, returned inside to pay for a game that the clerk didn’t charge him for. In that silent, but very loud action, he taught me to have integrity.

Dad also taught me about the quite, but deadly barking spiders. We’d hear a little “pfft” and an awful smell would follow. Dad would just smile really big and say, “darn, those barking spiders!” In that simple action, dad taught me how to have a sense of humor.

My dad was the strong, and silent type.

Growing up Irish, we Donovan’s, well we have a temper, and I have a few memories of dad getting pretty upset with us kids. But, getting to see dad evolve, on my end, from a child to an adult I have seen an amazing transformation. Our parents always taught us to believe in God, even though we didn’t always go to church. But I got involved with church, and fell in love. Dad and mom always made sure I had a ride to church and I really found a relationship with God for the first time at Grace Outreach Center with Pastor John and Liz and youth Pastors Teresa and James Miller. When I left for college mom and dad starting going to church, mom said it made them feel closer to me. Getting left in a house with four boys wasn’t always easy on mom, but they were able to find a community at church. Through their journey at church, I saw this strong and silent man, turn into a big teddy bear. Looking back on it now I can see how much my dad grew past his hurts and heartaches, and I believe God gave me a glimpse at His miracle working power through my father, a very tender hearted, loving, and generous man. His journey also showed me God’s unfailing, never-ending grace. If a man, who grew up with a very hard life, was able to find solace in the loving arms of Jesus, I know that I will never have to be defined by my past, I can trust in God, and anything is possible for me.

I’ll leave you dad’s favorite scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

  

  

He loves me. He’s with me. He’s meeting my needs.

he_loves_me

Continuing on my quest to learn more about trusting in God I’ve come to Psalm 40. David is going through something tough during this time. I find it interesting in this Psalm that David talks about  being delivered and trusting in God the first part of the psalm, but still ends the psalm the by praying for God to make haste in His deliverance. See, David didn’t trust God after he was delivered, but before, or rather during his trouble.

As a writer this Psalm hit home. David basically says in verse 5 that there aren’t enough words to contain or explain the goodness of God. I often feel that way. How can I, as a writer, convey the greatness of God in my life? How I explain something or someone that I don’t fully understand? But, like I imagine may have been the case with David, writing and formulating thoughts and ideas about the character of God helps me process what’s going on in my life and around me. And if what I write happens to benefit someone else, that’s only icing on the cake.

We can see here that David was thinking back on all of the times God’s brought him through. David may have thought back to when he fought the lion, slew Goliath, or any of the other countless victories he had. Then again, he may have thought back to the times he failed and was given another chance. Either way, he believes that God will rescue him and he is trusting God to do just that.

If you haven’t read the psalm yet, verse 4 says, “Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.” The word trust used here in Hebrew means trust, confidence or refuge. The Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon refers to it as “sure and firm hope.”  I think that was what David was feeling during this time…that God was his sure and firm hope. I mean, if you think about all that David had went through, even when he was being a knucklehead, there was one constant in his life—God.

When I think about a sure and firm hope in God, I think that means that even when I don’t see Him in my situation, I trust Him. Even when I don’t understand why my dad and sister have cancer, I trust Him, I have a sure and firm hope in God that everything will work out exactly as He intends it to. Even when I don’t understand why I’m 32 and single I have complete trust, a sure and firm hope, not just that He knows what He’s doing, but that He has my best interests in heart. When I remember that, I don’t care if I have to wait, because His plan for me is way better than my best plan on a good day. When I have a sure and firm hope in God my day doesn’t have to be going right, my week doesn’t have to be perfect, because my hope is in Him and He doesn’t have a track record of doing things wrong.

But David doesn’t just say blessed are those who trust in God, right? He also gave an admonition. The Living Bible puts it this way, “Many blessings are given to those who trust the Lord and have no confidence in those who are proud or who trust in idols.” This tells me that David had people around him doing just that, or why would he have mentioned it? Why would David tell someone not to have confidence in the proud? The Hebrew word used here can also mean defiant or fierce. When I think of someone who is proud and defiant I think of someone who is persuasive. I served under a pastor once who felt that his word was equal to God’s word, and if he said it then that’s how it should be, bible or not. Luckily, freshly out of bible school, I knew to take things he said with a grain of salt and weigh it against what the Word says, but do we do that with everything?

I think the enemy can be pretty persuasive. He can tell us how we should feel, he can try to condemn us, he lies, cheats and steals. He can get us so bogged down in the ways he thinks we don’t stack up that we totally lose faith. If you really think about it, he’s where he is at because of pride in the first place. We have to remember not to put confidence in anything that doesn’t line up with what the word of God says…the enemy, your best friend, even a minister.

Bottom line, our trust and our hope needs to be in God alone, not in what anyone or anything else says. If you start to forget that remember what God has brought you through. There was time in my life when I felt like I didn’t have any hope. During that time I created a mantra and I would say it over and over again, even cry myself to sleep saying it at night, but I think that this mantra has helped me hope, believe, and trust in God because now I can look back on those hard times and realize that it indeed was true.

“He loves me. He’s with me. He’s meeting my needs.”

God is a Buckler

I have been having fun with BlueLetterBible.org and a new topical word study on ‘trust’ as used in the Bible. I actually love the KJV version of the Bible. In Bible school many of my professors swore by it, so I grew to love it. Today, I was looking up ‘trust’ and came across 2 Samuel 22:31 which says, “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler to all them that trust in Him.”

I’ve never thought much of it, and just assumed the word buckler was related to buckle or something that holds things together…cause in my mind that makes sense. God hold us all together, right? The Bible says God is our buckler 3 times. I think that means it’s pretty important. Buckler actually means a shield. That He is a shield. The Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon says: buckler implies a shield of smaller size and extent than an armed man, God as our protector, God as it were holds my shield, protects  me with a shield.

This makes me think of our Christian armor from Ephesians 6. We carry a shield of faith, right? But if God is our buckler and He holds my shield, then ultimately I can have faith and pick up my shield, but in order to trust God fully I have to hand it over to Him.  When I trust God I’m not fighting my own battles, I’m not on the frontline alone, my Shield goes before me.

See, I’ve always been one that believes what the Bible says about God and how much He loves and cares for each one of us, but often I have a hard time believing it for myself. I’ll pick up my shield of faith and hold it out in front of me and wonder why the heck all this bad stuff keeps getting thrown at me. I don’t trust that the shield I’m holding is strong enough to take care of me. In reality, if I trusted God, I wouldn’t have to worry about my shield or my faith or if it’s strong enough, because He would be holding it.

See, when I mentioned that the Bible says God is our buckler multiple times I failed to note that two of those times it says He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him. See God doesn’t yank our shields out of our hands. He’s a gentleman. He’ll wait for you to offer it Him. We have to trust that He is our protector and our shield and has our best at heart.

I think seeing a visual image of God holding my shield during a battle gave me an ‘aha’ moment. It actually clicked that in order for me to trust in Him I have to realize that my faith (or my shield) is completely secure in His hands. I can be secure in the fact that when horrible things come my way, it’s not because I didn’t have enough faith, because my faith is in His hands. I’m trusting Him. When  things go wrong or prayers seem to go unanswered, it’s not for lack of faith, because my faith is secure in His hands. I’m trusting Him. When I’m let down or rejected, it’s not a result of my poor faith or my relationship with God, because my faith is anchored in His hands. I’m trusting Him.

Well, this is just the beginning of my study on learning to trust in God, but I think it’s a great start. I do long to trust Him without borders. I can’t wait to see what that looks like.

 

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