Bible Verses about Seeking the Lord Continually

  • Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.
  • Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.
  • Psalm 34:1
    Psalm 34 ] [ The Lord Delivers the Righteous ] [ Concerning David, when he pretended to be insane in the presence of Abimelech, who drove him out, and he departed. ]
    I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
  • Psalm 71:14
    But I will hope continually and will praise you more and more.
  • How happy are those who reside in your house, who praise you continuallySelah
  •  Psalm 119:20
    I am continually overcome with longing for your judgments.
  • Hosea 12:6
    But you must return to your God. Maintain love and justice, and always put your hope in God.
  • The Parable of the Persistent Widow ] Now he told them a parable on the need for them to pray always and not give up.
  • giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
  • Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
  • Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.
  • Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17
    pray constantly,
  • Hebrews 13:15
    Therefore, through him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.

He can do what is above and beyond

I’ve found myself repeating one particular Facebook comment in the last few weeks, over and over, post after post.  I have one thing I keep saying:

Way to be creative!

In the middle of coronavirus craziness, I’m stunned by the creativity of teachers and business owners and churches and more.

I’ve seen our local  parks and recreation have to  cancel all summer programs and then the karate instructor get permission to  take his class outside.

I’ve seen a gym owner who can’t train others inside the gym, so he does social distance training from his own home and even hosted an outdoor boot camp.

I’ve seen churches offer online services, hymn sings, drive-in prayer meetings, and meal distributions with toilet paper.

Teachers have my kids doing Star Wars work-outs, musical hopscotch, virtual field trips, scavenger hunts and nature walks.

Theaters are live-streaming productions of Shakespeare I’d never have seen otherwise.  I’m watching virtual choirs and bands jamming together over Zoom.

Restaurants closed down indoor seating and quickly transitioned to  curbside delivery and take-out.

Our local pottery painting studio made adorable take-home kits and our  library posts a steady stream of videos with stories and drawing lessons and more.

We’ve watched zoo safari lessons and the interpreters at Colonial  Williamsburg busy at work all from our living room.

There are days and moments within days that I begin to feel doomed and in despair, especially when I hear about changes they might make to the schools next year.  I fret over what my kids will experience and all that they have to lose.  I’ll have two high schoolers next year who love the arts and I’m reading articles saying that band, chorus, and theater are all on the chopping block because of coronavirus concerns.

I worry.

Oh, do  I worry.

I do not like the potential of a new normal and I’m relentlessly brokenhearted about each loss for my children.

And then I remember the creativity I have seen in the people around me….and the seemingly endless capacity for human creativity points me back to the undefinable, unlimited creativity of our Creator God.

He is not surprised by our situation and He is able to rescue and redeem us in it.

I read this today:

Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

He is able, not just to do what we expect or imagine, but to do far more than that.  He is able to go above and beyond.

G.K. Chesterton said:

The trumpet of imagination is like the trumpet of the resurrection. It calls the dead out of their graves.

God creates beauty from ashes.  He forms a world out of the void.

He resurrects what is dead and heals what is broken.  He makes us new.  He is making everything new.

And when we create and imagine, we are just imitating our Heavenly Father and the resurrecting, creating work He is always doing.

So may it point us back to Him.  May all the innovation we see around us encourage us to bring all the worry and all the struggle to a God who can do a new thing in us and around us.

In Romans, it says:

Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection.  Romans 6:4-5

It’s this creative, resurrection work that I’m looking to Christ to do, in me and in our churches and communities, in my kids and their situations.  We have not seen the limit of what God can and will do.

Of course, the super-planner-extraordinaire in me wants to nail down the details.  Get it all in writing.  What exactly will it all look like?  When can I know?

But that’s when I see another  example of someone being creative  and I remember our God creates–above and beyond.  He helps us “walk in newness of life,”‘ overcoming what we experience, enduring what is difficult, holding onto hope, reaching what is promised.

 

Bible Verses on Redemption

  • Job 19:25 NIV
    I know that my redeemer lives,
        and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
  • Psalm 107:2 NIV
    Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
        those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
  • Psalm 111:9 NIV
    He provided redemption for his people;
        he ordained his covenant forever—
        holy and awesome is his name.
  • Psalm 130:7 NIV
    Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
        for with the Lord is unfailing love
        and with him is full redemption.
  • Isaiah 43:1-2 NIV
    But now, this is what the Lord says—
        he who created you, Jacob,
        he who formed you, Israel:
    “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
        I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
    When you pass through the waters,
        I will be with you;
    and when you pass through the rivers,
        they will not sweep over you.
    When you walk through the fire,
        you will not be burned;
        the flames will not set you ablaze.
  • Isaiah 44:22 NIV
    I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
        your sins like the morning mist.
    Return to me,
        for I have redeemed you.”
  • Isaiah 52:3 NIV
    For this is what the Lord says:
    “You were sold for nothing,
        and without money you will be redeemed.
  • Lamentations 3:57-58 NIV
    You came near when I called you,
    and you said, “Do not fear.”
     You, Lord, took up my case;
      you redeemed my life.
  • Mark 10:45 ESV
    For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
  • Luke 1:68 NIV
    Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
        because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
  • Luke 21:28 NIV
    When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
  • Romans 3:23-25 NIV
    for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—
  • Romans 8:23 NIV
    Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV
    And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
  • 1 Corinthians 6:20 ESV
    for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
  • 1 Corinthians 7:23 ESV
    You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants[a] of men.
  • Galatians 3:13 ESV
     Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—
  • Galatians 4:4-5 NIV
    But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.
  • Ephesians 1:7 ESV
    In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace
  • Ephesians 1:14 NIV
    who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
  • Ephesians 4:30 NIV
    And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
  • Colossians 1:13-14 NIV
    For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
  • 1 Timothy 2:6 ESV
    who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
  • Titus 2:14 ESV
    who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
  • Hebrews 9:12 NIV
     He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.
  • Hebrews 9:15 NIV
    For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
  • 1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV
     For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
  • Revelation 1:5-6 NIV
     and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
  • To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
  • Revelation 5:9 NIV
    And they sang a new song, saying:
    “You are worthy to take the scroll
     and to open its seals,
    because you were slain
     and with your blood you purchased for God
    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.

Bible Verses about Gardens and Gardening

  • Genesis 2:8 NASB
    The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.
  • Genesis 2:15 CSB
     The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it.
  • Deuteronomy 16:!5
     You are to hold a seven-day festival for the Lord your God in the place he chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, and you will have abundant joy.
  • Numbers 24:5-6 NASB
    How fair are your tents, O Jacob,
    Your dwellings, O Israel!
    “Like [g]valleys that stretch out,
    Like gardens beside the river,
    Like aloes planted by the Lord,
    Like cedars beside the waters.
  • Psalm 92:12-14 NASB
    The righteous man will [j]flourish like the palm tree,
    He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
    13 Planted in the house of the Lord,
    They will flourish in the courts of our God.
    14 They will still [k]yield fruit in old age;
    They shall be [l]full of sap and very green,
  • Psalm 104:14 CSB
    He causes grass to grow for the livestock
    and provides crops for man to cultivate,
    producing food from the earth,
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 CSB
    There is an occasion for everything,
    and a time for every activity under heaven:
    a time to give birth and a time to die;
    a time to plant and a time to uproot;
  • Song of Solomon 2:1-2 CSB

    I am a wildflower of Sharon,
    a lily of the valleys.

    Man

    Like a lily among thorns,
    so is my darling among the young women.

  • Song of Solomon 4:13-15 NASB
    “Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates
    With choice fruits, henna with nard plants,
    14 Nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
    With all the trees of frankincense,
    Myrrh and aloes, along with all the finest spices.
    15 You are a garden spring,
    A well of fresh water,
    And streams flowing from Lebanon.”
  • Song of Solomon 6:2 NASB
    My beloved has gone down to his garden,
    To the beds of balsam,
    To pasture his flock in the gardens
    And gather lilies.
  • Isaiah 4:2 CSB
    On that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of Israel’s survivors.
  • Isaiah 5:7 NASB
    For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel
    And the men of Judah His delightful plant.
    Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed;
    For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.
  • Isaiah 35:1-2  CSB
    The wilderness and the dry land will be glad;
    the desert will rejoice and blossom like a wildflower.[a]
    It will blossom abundantly
    and will also rejoice with joy and singing.
    The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
    the splendor of Carmel and Sharon.
    They will see the glory of the Lord,
    the splendor of our God.
  • Isaiah 51:3 NASB
    Indeed, the Lord will comfort Zion;
    He will comfort all her waste places.
    And her wilderness He will make like Eden,
    And her desert like the garden of the Lord;
    Joy and gladness will be found in her,
    Thanksgiving and sound of a melody.
  • Isaiah 58:11 NASB
    “And the Lord will continually guide you,
    And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
    And give strength to your bones;
    And you will be like a watered garden,
    And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
  • Isaiah 61:11 NASB
    For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
    And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up,
    So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
    To spring up before all the nations.
  • Isaiah 65:18-19,  21 NASB
    “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;

    And the former things will not be remembered or come to [n]mind.
     “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
    For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing
    And her people for gladness.
    They will build houses and inhabit them;
    They will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit.”
  • Jeremiah 29:4-5 NASB
    “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce.
  • Jeremiah 31:11-12 NASB
    For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
    And redeemed him from the hand of him who was stronger than he.
    12 “They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion,
    And they will be radiant over the bounty of the Lord
    Over the grain and the new wine and the oil,
    And over the young of the flock and the herd;
    And their life will be like a watered garden,
    And they will never languish again.
  • Ezekiel 36:35 NASB
    They will say, ‘This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.’
  • Hosea 14:5 NASB
    I will be like the dew to Israel;
    He will blossom like the lily,
    And he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon.
  • Amos 4:9 NASB
    I struck you with blight and mildew;
    the locust devoured
    your many gardens and vineyards,
    your fig trees and olive trees,
    yet you did not return to me.
    This is the Lord’s declaration.
  • Amos 9:14 NASB
    “Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel,
    And they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them;
    They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine,
    And make gardens and eat their fruit.
  • Matthew 6:28 CSB
    And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread.
  • John 18:1 NASB
     When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, in which He entered with His disciples
  • Luke 12:27 CSB
    Consider how the wildflowers grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these.
  • Luke 13:18-19 CSB
    He said, therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like, and what can I compare it to? 19 It’s like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the sky nested in its branches.”
  • John 15:1-8 CSB
    “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be[a] my disciples.
  • John 19:41 NASB
    Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 CSB
     I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, then, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
  • Galatians 6:7-9 CSB
     Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. 
  • 1 Peter 1:24-25 CSB
    For

    All flesh is like grass,
    and all its glory like a flower of the grass.
    The grass withers, and the flower falls,
    25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.[a]

    And this word is the gospel that was proclaimed to you.

Mistakes, mess-ups, failures, growing pains, and a need for grace

 

I’ve been writing notes and sending cards since we’ve been shut away from friends and church family.  Sometimes it’s a text message  or an email to say, “I’m thinking of you today.”  But I’ve also been refilling my supply of stamps and note cards regularly as I send out snail mail.

Last week, I discovered an extra set of stamps that I’d bought long ago and I was so excited about the little unexpected blessing:   Stamps when I thought I was almost out of stamps.  What a blessing!

It was like waking  up to manna or miraculous oil in a near-empty jug or wine overflowing when the wedding feast ran out of wine.   All those things.

I happily mailed out a few more cards.

Then this week, my daughter asked me if she could mail some cards also, so I pulled out those extra stamps and saw what I’d missed before:  the word “Postcard” in teeny tiny, minuscule letters on the bottom.

Oh.

That’s why those stamps had been sitting for a good long while.  I bought them to mail out a few postcards and the extras just sat and sat.

I’ve been stressing about this for days now.  Apparently, I’ve been sending out regular cards with only postcard postage.

Great.  Either the cards will return back to me so I can have  a re-do (I love a good re-do), or the post office will deliver my cards and actually ask other people to pay the missing postage.

How embarrassing.

I’d rather the secret re-do option, of course.  But I have no power here.  I’m at the mercy of the postal service.

So, I  wait.

It’s the silliest little mistake, but a mistake I’ve been fretting over nonetheless.  That’s partly because all of this coronavirus shifting we’ve been doing has brought so much failing our way to  success over here.

We’re doing  new things in new ways and that can get messy and exhausting.

Technology alone brings it’s own growing pains.  Try this video, this sound, this streaming program, this way of filming, this way of posting.   And all along the way we leave a trail of trying, messing up, and trying again.

I  also can’t keep my dates straight, at all.  I keep thinking Mother’s Day is this week and not next week.  The days are just running all together.

All of these mess-ups leave us so tender-hearted.  So humbled.  How many times can we say the words, “Sorry.  That didn’t work. My bad. I missed that.   I made a mistake.  I used the wrong stamp.?”  (I’m still so embarrassed about the stamps.)

But so many of us are in the same place.

That’s the thing.

I’m so compassionate  and deeply grateful as I see my kids’ teachers trying so many new things every single day.  I think—-thank you, friends, for putting yourself out there for my kids.  For getting on Zoom videos and Facebook live posts and whatever else is happening.  I know some of them would prefer not to be on a video.  I GET that.  I don’t want  to be in videos either.  But they do it anyway.

Then there  are days the sound doesn’t work or the screen is backwards or the link they thought they posted didn’t post or didn’t work or whatever whatever.  I feel like saying, “Solidarity, my friend!  I am with you.  We are all trying so hard and it’s imperfect and messy, but we’re genuine and humbled and real and just making  it through.”

We can shake off the old, the broken, the mistake-ridden the failure and the mess up because we have this grace: We can try again.

And, even if a new days is full  of new mistakes, Jesus isn’t giving up on me or on any of us.

I read this promise in Scripture:

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease (Genesis 8:22 ESV).

The rhythms of creation itself are a reassurance of the rhythm of grace.

Day and night come ceaselessly.  I will wake up to a new day, a fresh start, an opportunity to try again and maybe even get it right this time  (and to buy new stamps.)

More than that, whole seasons come and go with certainty.

One bad year of planting isn’t the end.  One season of hard soil,  no rain, or destruction from storms and pests isn’t the end.

Spring comes anew and I can plow the field fresh, drop the seeds into the earth, and look forward to a better harvest.

The failures of one day, one moment even, are only permanent if I choose to give up instead of going forward.

Fresh starts and new beginnings: That’s what God promises us, season after season, day after day.

Bible Verses and a Prayer for When you Need to be Refreshed

  • Psalm 19:7 NIV
    The law of the Lord is perfect,
        refreshing the soul.
    The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
        making wise the simple.
  • Psalm 23:1-3 NIV
    The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
        He makes me lie down in green pastures,
    he leads me beside quiet waters,
        he refreshes my soul.
    He guides me along the right paths
        for his name’s sake.
  • Psalm 68:9 NIV
    You gave abundant showers, O God;
        you refreshed your weary inheritance.
  • Proverbs 11:25 NIV
    A generous person will prosper;
        whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
  • Jeremiah 31:25 NIV
     I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.
  • Acts 3:19 NIV
     Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
  • Romans 15:32 NIV
    so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed.
  • 1 Corinthians 16:18 NIV
    For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.
  • 2 Corinthians 7:13 NIV
    By all this we are encouraged.In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you.jeremiah 31
  • 2 Timothy 1:16
    May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.
  • Philemon 1:7 NIV
    Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
  • Philemon 1:20 NIV
     I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.

Bible Verses for When You Are Overwhelmed

  • Exodus 33:14 NASB
    And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”
  • Psalm 18:1-2 NASB
    “I love You, O Lord, my strength.”
    The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
    My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
    My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
  • Psalm 28:7 NASB
    The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
    Therefore my heart exults,
    And with my song I shall thank Him.
  • Psalm 61:1-4 NASB
    Hear my cry, O God;
    Give heed to my prayer.
    From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint;
    Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
    For You have been a refuge for me,
    A tower of strength against the enemy.
    Let me [well in Your tent forever;
    Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. 
  • Psalm  91:1-2 NASB
    He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
    I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    My God, in whom I trust!”
  • Psalm 118: 5-7 CSB
    I called to the Lord in distress;
    the Lord answered me
    and put me in a spacious place.
    The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid.
    What can a mere mortal do to me?
    The Lord is my helper,
    Therefore, I will look in triumph on those who hate me.
  • Psalm 121:1-2 NASB
    I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
    From where shall my help come?
    My help comes from the Lord,
    Who made heaven and earth.
  • Proverbs 18:10 NASB
    The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
    The righteous runs into it and is [a]safe.
  • Isaiah 26:3-4 NASB
    “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace,
    Because he trusts in You.
    “Trust in the Lord forever,
    For in God the Lordwe have an everlasting Rock.
  • Isaiah 40:31 NASB
    Yet those who wait for the Lord
    Will gain new strength;
    They will mount up with wings like eagles,
    They will run and not get tired,
    They will walk and not become weary.
  • Isaiah 41:10 NASB
    ‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
    Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
    Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
  • Isaiah 43:1-2 NASB
    But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob,
    And He who formed you, O Israel,
    “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name; you are Mine!
    “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
    When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
    Nor will the flame burn you.
  • Nahum 1:7 NASB
    The Lord is good,
    A stronghold in the day of trouble,
    And He knows those who take refuge in Him.
  • Zechariah 4:6 NASB
     Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.
  • Matthew 11:28 NASB
    “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NASB
    we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
  • 2 Timothy 1:7 CSB
    For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power,love, and sound judgment.
  • James 5:11 CSB
    See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and have seen the outcome that the Lord brought about—the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

All that worry and everything was canceled

 

I have fretted this year.

Oh, how I have fretted.

I lost sleep in January and again in February because I was worrying over planning events, over getting enough volunteers, over whether we should hold our huge church egg hunt on this particular Saturday or on the Sunday before?

I wrestled with calendars.  I made a plan, had a meeting with someone that changed my mind, contemplated  the plan some more, sought counsel  from others, stuck with the original  plan—and second-guessed myself the whole time.

I  stressed about our soccer schedule.  I stressed over how to get my kids to soccer, an orientation night at the high school, and to a math competition all at the same time in different parts of our county.

I worried about events and trips my kids  and I were looking forward to.  How would we pay for everything and how was the schedule going to work out?  We had trips to Disney, Boston, Italy, and Montana all in the works.  They were all good things—all incredibly wonderful opportunities.

Still I worried.  About plane tickets and getting to the airport and renewing my passport and everything about traveling that stresses me out (which is everything).

None of these things are actually happening.

I invested so many hours and lost so much sleep  worrying over things that have now been canceled or altered beyond recognition.

There’s no soccer season.  There was no math bowl  or area chorus or countywide music concert.  There is no trip to Disney or Italy or Boston.

We didn’t hold our egg hunt on the Saturday or the Sunday.  It was completely new and different and not like anything I imagined when I started planning in January.

Maybe it sounds like I’m a never-ending tangle of angst over here, and it’s true that I’m definitely not a happy-go-lucky whatever-may-come kind of person.

I’m a super-planner.

And super-planners like to have plans and to follow plans and not to deviate from plans.

Still, over the years God has stretched me and lovingly nudged me into  spiritual growth and new levels of trust and dependence on Him.  I’ve seen the progress.  I’m not as bad as I used to be.

But sitting here in the middle of coronavirus quarantine, feeling unsure of when we’re allowed out of our houses much less when we can go back to work, school, and church, makes me feel oh-so-tempted to tumble back into the pit of fretting.

There are too many things unplanned.   Too many things I can’t possibly plan.  I have far more questions than I do answers.  Maybe I don’t even feel like answers exist right now.

But whenever I’m tempted to start fretting over this mess, I remember this:

In January and February, I spent hours and hours worrying about the date of an egg hunt that DIDN’T HAPPEN.

See where that got me?

I worried so much then about making the perfect decision and not picking the wrong day to hold an egg hunt.  It turns out, no decision even mattered.  Only God had the full knowledge of what was to come.  Only He had the big perspective.

I read this today in Proverbs:

Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs it down,
but a good word cheers it up (Proverbs 12:25 CSB).

Weighed down by worry.  Yes.

I have pulled that two-ton weight of worry behind me, dragging it along, letting it steal the joy in this moment  because I’m fretting over the moments to come.

Jesus told us how pointless that is:

And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:27 NASB).

I am tempted to worry every single time I scroll Facebook, listen to a news conference, and examine a line graph right now.   So, I’m in this place of continually challenging my thoughts and continually catching that worry and dismissing it.

I ask myself the question, “Where has any of your worrying gotten you so far this year?”

Nowhere.

What has been a blessing this year?

This: Seeing how God has helped us with unexpected answers to completely unanticipated problems.

Our egg hunt reached so many kids this year and it was delivered to their homes rather than held at one time in the lawn on our church property.  God did a new thing and He did it perfectly.

I feel like I’m one-minute away from fretting at all times around here right now.  And yet, I’m also one minute away from a completely different choice:

I can sit back and watch what God will do.

Take a breath.

And trust.

 

Bible Verses for the Storms We Face

  • 1 Kings 19:11-12 ESV
    And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
  • Job 38:1 ESV
    Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind…
  • Psalm 55:8 ESV
    I would hurry to find a shelter
        from the raging wind and tempest.
  • Psalm 107:25 ESV
    For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
        which lifted up the waves of the sea.
  • Psalm 107:29 ESV
    He made the storm be still,
        and the waves of the sea were hushed.
  • Proverbs 10:25 ESV
    When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more,
        but the righteous is established forever.
  • Isaiah 4:6 ESV
    It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.
  • Isaiah 25:4 ESV
    For you have been a stronghold to the poor,
        a stronghold to the needy in his distress,
        a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;
    for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
  • Isaiah 29:6 ESV
    you will be visited by the Lord of hosts
    with thunder and with earthquake and great noise,
        with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire.
  • Isaiah 32:1-2 ESV
    Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
        and princes will rule in justice.
    Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,
        a shelter from the storm,
    like streams of water in a dry place,
        like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
  • Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV
    But now thus says the Lord,
    he who created you, O Jacob,
        he who formed you, O Israel:
    “Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
        I have called you by name, you are mine.
    When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
        and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
    when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
        and the flame shall not consume you.
  • Isaiah 54:11 NLT
    O storm-battered city,
        troubled and desolate!
    I will rebuild you with precious jewels
        and make your foundations from lapis lazuli.
  • Nahum 1:3 ESV
    The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
        and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.
    His way is in whirlwind and storm,
        and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
  • Zechariah 10:1 ESV
    Ask rain from the Lord
        in the season of the spring rain,
    from the Lord who makes the storm clouds,
        and he will give them showers of rain,
        to everyone the vegetation in the field
  • Matthew 7:24-27 ESV
    Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
  • Matthew 8:26 ESV
     And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
  • Mark 4:39 ESV
    And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
  • Luke 8:24 ESV
    And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.
  • Hebrews 12:18-19 ESV
     For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.
  • James 1:6 ESV
    But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

I don’t know what the day may bring

Two months ago, my six-year-old son’s soccer schedule was stretching me.

It’s such a silly thing, looking back.  But at the time, I was trying to maintain  some control over our family’s calendar.

You know what you lose a lot of control  over as your four kids get older?  The calendar.  Teachers, coaches, directors, club leaders and more all have an agenda for your kids.

So, when I signed my son up for soccer in January, I weighed in with what worked for us as a family.  No Tuesday and Thursday practices, please.  We need a team that meets on Mondays and Wednesdays.  Also, he’d miss  one week of practice because  of our other commitments.

Then I waited for THE CALL, the one where you find out from your coach when and where to be for the first practice.

That’s when I found out:  My son’s Monday/Wednesday team had changed to a Tuesday/Thursday team.  And the one week I had said we couldn’t be at practice they scheduled for soccer team pictures.

I have no control over these things.  I try to be in control.  But I have no control.

This year seems to have eased me into a season of dependence.  Soccer was just part of it.   Ever since January, I was reminded  week after week that I’m not ultimately in charge of everything that happens.

For a control freak like me, I actually think I handled it pretty well.  No meltdowns.  No extreme levels of fretting.  Just quiet adjustments.

Soccer on Tuesdays and Thursdays?  Okay then.  It is what it is.

Then, of course,  the entire soccer season was canceled after a week-and-a-half so I shifted again.

I released my need to control that.

I’m making new adjustments even now.  I cannot control  what  groceries are going to  actually be at the store each week, so we eat for dinner whatever I can find to cook.

And I release my need to control that, as well.

I  cannot control what decisions the school board makes about my kids  classes, grades, schedule or plan for next year.

I try little by little to  release my need to  control  even that.

What I’ve quieted my soul with this year is that the more I realize I’m completely not in control, the more I rest in knowing that God still is in control.

Nothing is outside of His mighty and merciful hands.

Proverbs 27:1 says:

Don’t boast about tomorrow,
for you don’t know what a day might bring.

In God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life, Timothy Keller says:

“Those who believe they can eliminate uncertainty boast about tomorrow, thinking they have planned for every contingency….But you do not know what is to come.  The future is wholly in the hands of God.”

Maybe it felt like my schedule rested in the hands of a soccer scheduling supervisor or a coach.

Maybe now it feels like a governor holds the next few months of my life in his hands or a school board or a superintendent of schools is in charge of my kids.

But surely that’s not the truth.  Not the ultimate truth.

My life is in the hands of the Lord who loves me and won’t abandon me or desert me.

Sometimes I’m tempted to try to nag Jesus into  doing what I’d like him to  do in the middle of all this mess.

I’m not alone.  Others in the past have tried to “manage” Jesus and make Him do what they wanted or expected.

The disciples tried to manage Jesus by keeping little kids away from him and by telling him to send people home because they didn’t have enough money to feed a crowd of over 5000 hungry people a meal.

His family tried to manage Jesus by coming to take him home when they heard about his growing ministry.

Peter tried to manage Jesus by denying the need for Jesus to be taken away and to die.

The plan for that first Good Friday isn’t something that any of Jesus’ followers wanted or expected or even understood.  It was all completely outside their plans and they probably would have preferred in that moment for  Jesus to just do what they wanted him to do and to be what they wanted him to be.

But God was in control

His plan was perfect.

His plan wasn’t for Good Friday to be the end;  His plan for salvation included Resurrection Sunday.

I’ve been learning to relinquish my control  over my life and my attempts to “manage” my Lord as if my ways or my plans are best.

After all, God planned Easter and it was perfect. Surely I can trust Him with my future and the months ahead.