Pretty yellow flower at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Face the unknown with the unlimited

Everyone faces challenges every day. It’s part of life. And even though difficult circumstances help us grow stronger, they aren’t fun when we’re experiencing them. Most of them last much longer than we’d prefer, and we feel utterly helpless throughout their duration.

In past years I would have focused on the fact that God uses difficult circumstances in our lives to help us, to help others, to prepare us for the future, but sometimes that’s not very comforting. Maybe the for the long term, there’s some reassurance in it, that what we’re going through is for a reason. But when I’m in the thick of it, I don’t really want to think about tomorrow. I want to know what’s going to happen today. I want to know what I’m supposed to do right now.

Pretty yellow flower at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Pretty yellow flower at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Today’s verses are Psalm 33:13-22.

The Lord looks down from heaven
    and sees the whole human race. 
From his throne he observes
    all who live on the earth.
He made their hearts,
    so he understands everything they do. 
The best-equipped army cannot save a king,
    nor is great strength enough to save a warrior.
Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—
    for all its strength, it cannot save you.
But the Lord watches over those who fear him,
    those who rely on his unfailing love.
He rescues them from death
    and keeps them alive in times of famine.
We put our hope in the Lord.
    He is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
    for our hope is in you alone.

I know personally there is so much happening in my life right now, I can’t keep up with any of it, and most of it I have absolutely zero control over anyway. It’s frustrating. And, yes, there’s a part of me that looks toward tomorrow with excitement and expectation for what God is going to do. But the rest of me is just plain tired.

When I get tired, I tend to focus on the things that I can do. I trust my own abilities because I know their limits. I know what I can do. I know what I can handle. So it’s easy to fall back on my own strength.

The trouble is, the problems I’m facing are bigger than what my strength can stand up to. And my abilities fall short. I can trust myself and what I can do but only so far, and then I have two options: I can give up or I can give it to God.

God doesn’t abandon us in the tough times. He isn’t just sitting up in heaven watching us struggle through life like we’re on some ridiculous “reality” TV show. He’s not far away or far removed. He’s right there, waiting for us to get our heads on straight and realize that life is too much for us.

We are finite human beings trying to scale a mountain of supernatural trouble. Of course, we’re going to fail if we try it on our own. God never expected us to win battles by ourselves. He never even asked us to. We just put it on our own shoulders.

So don’t trust in your resources; they’re limited. Don’t trust in your abilities; they’re limited too. Yes, they’re known, and there is comfort in what you know. But trying to fight the unknown with the limited usually doesn’t work out well. It’s better to tackle the unknown with the unlimited.

Your resources will ultimately fail, just like your talent or your knowledge or your own strength. Not because you’re not committed or dedicated or strong but because you’re only human. Instead, put your hope in God. Trust His resources. Trust His knowledge and power and strength. God never runs out. He never lets go, and He never gives up. Don’t you want that kind of unlimited power on your side?

Maybe not knowing where He’ll take you is intimidating, but He’s good. That’s the thing about God. You can trust Him. He’ll push you farther than you may want to go, but you can trust that His plans are good because He is good.

There’s nothing life can throw at you that will surprise Him. There’s no challenge you’re facing that can best Him. Stick with Him. It won’t be an easy ride, but it’ll be a good one.

And just a note for the coming week, I’m not sure how consistently I will be able to post. My parents and I leave for the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota tomorrow in an effort to get a real diagnosis on my mom’s condition. It should be a very exciting journey; I’ve always wanted to go to Minnesota in March. (Not.) But it will definitely be an adventure. If you think of us, say a prayer for safety and for wisdom so that we can finally get thing figured out.

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View from my hotel room window, Chicago, IL

God wants to bless you a lot!

I didn’t plan to post this morning because last night went so late, but I had a thought in my head that wouldn’t leave me alone. So if this is rambling and strange and disjointed, blame it on a late night and no time for coffee yet this morning. =)

View from my hotel room window, Chicago, IL

View from my hotel room window, Chicago, IL

Today’s verses are Ephesians 3:14-20.

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

We ate at a pretty swanky restaurant last night. Usually folks just call it Joe’s, but its full name is something like Joe’s Seafood, Steak and Stone Crabs. It was nice. When your servers all wear fancy suits with bow ties and take fifteen minutes describing the menu, you can usually tell it’s a pretty upscale kind of place.  What they did that was different from other swanky places was that when you ordered crab legs, they actually brought them out, showed them to you, and then they broke the meat out for you. So all you ended up with at the end was a big plate of truly delicious crab.

And that was followed by another round of crab claws. And that was followed by blackened Madagascar shrimp the size of my hand. Followed by wedge salads the size of my head, covered in egg and bacon and onion and avocado and tomato. Followed by entrees that ranged from bone-in filet mignon to seafood. I ordered sole, mainly because I was curious about it. But the waiter put the wrong order in, and I ended up with parmesan coated halibut instead. So he gave me the halibut AND brought me the sole too. And then he brought out two slices of key lime pie. And everyone ordered a round of coffee and cappuccino.

So. Much. Food. I couldn’t eat it all. And it just kept coming.

The really ironic thing about my meal last night is that the wrong parmesan halibut was actually better than the mushroom sole I ordered. It was so cool because I didn’t expect any of it. I knew we were going to a nice restaurant. I’ve been to nice restaurants before. Usually they’re very stuffy and proper, and while the waiters are normally pretty gregarious they don’t go beyond what’s needed to make a good impression. This place was amazing. And it didn’t hit me until I got back to my room at Midnight (ugh) that God wants to treat us that way too.

I think we have this idea of God as a benevolent genie in the sky, sometimes. He’s there to grant our wishes, and when we hit that third wish, we can’t ask for anything else. Or we don’t want to bother Him with our petty little problems. Or we don’t want to always be asking for stuff because when the day comes that we really want or need something from Him, He’ll remember that we’re low maintenance and grant us our request by default because we haven’t asked for anything else.

Is that really how God is? I don’t think so. Check the verse again. God has unlimited resources. And He is able to accomplish more through us than we can even imagine. Does that sound like a God who will stop at three “wishes” granted?

God wants to knock us off our feet with His love and goodness. He wants to bless our socks off. He wants to give us so many blessings that we can’t carry all of them.

And I’m not saying that God hasn’t already blessed us. absolutely not! We’re the most blessed people in the world. If you woke up this morning, you’re blessed. If you have family that loves you, you’re blessed. If you have a car to drive and a job to work and food to eat, you’re blessed. But while I’m thankful for those blessings, God doesn’t want to stop there. He wants to give us more. He wants to bless us exceedingly above what we can imagine.

We just have to let Him. And sometimes blessings don’t come the way you think they will, but they come. Sometimes they’re not easy to accept, but if you accept them, you’ll find yourself way better off than you ever thought you could be. And the beautiful thing about God’s blessings is that they keep coming and coming and coming, even though you’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve any of them. If you show yourself faithful with what you have now, God will bless you with more.