Our God is able to re-build

There’s building.  And then there’s re-building.

My son is a builder-of-Legos.  They are the first item on any birthday or Christmas wishlist and they are his favorite presents to open and play with as soon as the celebration time is done.  In just six years, he’s amassed quite a collection of super-hero, Star Wars, and dinosaur Legos.

But.

(And this is what can drive me crazy).

He does not keep his Legos together, perfectly constructed,  high on a shelf, all the pieces still in the right places.  (How could we possibly have enough shelving to do that?)

No, as soon as the Legos are built, they are played with relentlessly.   Pieces come off.  Those pieces then become new creations with pieces from other sets, a mishmash of Lego bricks.

There are some of us (me) who like things to always look like the instruction manual, as if there is a “Right” way to build with these Legos.  When a piece comes loose, we pull out the picture and put it back exactly where it is supposed to go.

My son is not that person.  He swaps dinosaur legs and superhero bodies, and he combines kits relentlessly.  He is silly at times and innovative at other times.

Sometimes I envision having so much free time that we can spend days sorting the Legos back into sets and then following those instruction manuals once again to put them all together the right way once more.  This sounds like the ultimate project for me.  Get everything “right” and all will be right with the world.

That hasn’t happened yet.

It would take extensive time and great effort, of course, because I  truly think building is far, far easier than re-building.  Building starts with such a clean space.  The pieces are clearly sorted and separated.  Building does not begin with confusion.

But re-building starts with brokenness and mess and rubble and has to restore what’s broken and re-make or even re-design what is lost.

In the book of Nehemiah, God’s people rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem that had been destroyed by their enemies and had lain in ashes and mounds of rubble for years.

During the rebuild, they were taunted, mocked, and threatened by new enemies, and yet they kept working.  Some guarded while others built.  Some built with one hand holding a weapon and the other hand laying bricks.  They refused to be sidetracked, delayed, or stopped.

The rubble, however, almost defeated them.   Nehemiah 4:10 says:

In Judah, it was said:
The strength of the laborer fails,
since there is so much rubble.
We will never be able
to rebuild the wall.
” (Nehemiah 4:10 CSB).

That’s what almost broke them.

Kelly Minter writes in her study on Nehemiah:

It was that exhausting rubble that just about took them down.  What rubble in your life is presently the most discouraging and exhausting? (p. 56).

This year, it’s easy to be defeated by brokenness.  Ministries, jobs, finances, churches, school plans, friendships and connections with others… all may be in need of rebuilding, and such rebuilding is exhausting and hard.

We can’t just jump in with a brand new vision, a clean slate and build.  No, we need to  re-build.  There are hurts tangled up in this.  There is sadness over what is lost.  There is stuff we have to  let go of and get rid of.  There is letting go of the known. There is anger and frustration.  There is uncertainty.   There is a feeling of helplessness and powerlessness because we have no control.

There is a tremendous desire  to just get things back to the way they were before, the way they are “supposed” to  be—and then set those constructions high up on a shelf so  they can never be changed again.

That is not our reality.   So we need God to  equip us for the rebuilding, to strengthen us to face enemies and strengthen us to clear out the seemingly never-ending rubble and start raising the walls again.

Nehemiah said to the discouraged, worn-out, battle-weary people of Judah:

“Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes” (Nehemiah 4:14 CSB).

Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome.

This is not too much for Him.  That is the reminder I need.  It may take time, it may take creativity, it may mean hard work and standing against the Enemy.

The truth remains, though:  Our God isn’t just able to build; He is able to rebuild.  He has done it before and He can do it again.

Bible Verses on Overcoming Fear and Worry

verses-fear

  • Exodus 14:13
    And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again (ESV)
  • Deuteronomy 31:
    Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
  • Joshua 1:9
    Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened,and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
  • Nehemiah 4:14
    After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
  • Psalm 23:4
    Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
  • Psalm 27:1
    The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
  • Psalm 34:4
    “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”
  • Psalm 56:3
    When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
  • Psalm 56:4
    In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?
  • Psalm 91:4-6
    He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
  • Psalm 112:7
    He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
  • Isaiah 35:4Say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, and do not fear,
    for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
    He is coming to save you.”
  • Isaiah 41:10
    So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • Isaiah 41:13
    “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
  • Isaiah 44:8
    Fear not, nor be afraid;
    have I not told you from of old and declared it?
    And you are my witnesses!
    Is there a God besides me?
    There is no Rock; I know not any.”
  • Isaiah 51:12
    “I, I am he who comforts you;
    who are you that you are afraid of man who dies,
    of the son of man who is made like grass,
  • Jeremiah 1:8
    Do not be afraid of them,
    for I am with you to deliver you,
    declares the Lord.”
  • Zephaniah 3:17
    For the LORD your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
    He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.[a]
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
  • Matthew 6:34
    Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
  • Matthew 10:31
     Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
  • Mark 5:36
    But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” (ESV)
  • Luke 1:74-75
    We have been rescued from our enemies
    so we can serve God without fear,
    in holiness and righteousness
    for as long as we live.
  • Luke 12:32
    “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
  • John 6:19-20
    They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, 20 but he called out to them,“Don’t be afraid. I am here!”
  • John 14:27
    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
  • Acts 18:9
    And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent,
  • Romans 8:38
    And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
  • 2 Timothy 1:7
     for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
  • Hebrews 13:6
     So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
  • 1 John 4:18
    There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

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.

Scary Noises, Hiding in Closets, and Faith over Fear

Last summer,  my girls arrived home from camp exhausted and carrying loads of dirty laundry packed into their overnight bags.  They needed some post-camp rest and recovery time at home while I started in on the loads of laundry.

They came home a few days after July 4th, but a nearby community had saved their fireworks display for that weekend so I gave my girls the option:  Come with us to the fireworks that night or stay home and rest while we go.  (Hurray for having teenagers old enough to stay home on their own and babysit when needed!).

So, off we went to the celebration while they hung out in their rooms in the comfort of their own home.

A few minutes into our fireworks display, though, my daughter called me, sounding terrified:  There were strange “squeaking” noises outside in the yard.

Squeaking?

Yes, squeaking.

I coached her through some possible scenarios and made sure she didn’t hear anyone at the door or in the house.  They didn’t sound in danger, so  I suggested maybe something was making that sound in our neighbor’s yard.  Could they just peek outside the window or a door and see what the noise was?

No way!   She and her sister were staying as far away from windows and doors as possible.

In fact, they had hidden themselves away, locking the bedroom door and hunkering down in a closet.  My one girl had grabbed her bo staff from her karate classes.  My other daughter was weaponless, so  she grabbed a hobby horse from her brother’s closet, figuring (I guess) that it was part stick and could therefore be weaponized.

I  messaged my neighbors, and kept in contact with my girls while we drove home.  Then I finally tracked down the source of the “squeaking.”  One of our neighbors had set off some backyard fireworks that night, including some that screamed and squealed when lit.   Mystery solved.

But my daughters still felt a little shaken.  The karate bo staff didn’t make it back into the closet for a few days.  I took the time to review the emergency phone numbers we kept by the phone and how to call our neighbors for help if they ever needed it.

Looking  back, of course, we could all have a good laugh.  A neighbor sets off some fireworks and my kids lock themselves in closets with sticks.

Still, I get fear.  I get what it’s like to hide away, to  cry out for help, and to grab frantically for defense when I feel trapped or attacked.  I get how fear paralyzes and how it backs you into a corner.

In the book of Mark, I read about how the disciples scattered in terror when Judas betrayed Jesus.  The Roman soldiers marched into the garden where Jesus was praying and they marched out again with Jesus as their prisoner.

Mark says:

Then they all deserted him and ran away  (Mark 14:50 CSB).

Unlike most of the others,  Peter had enough courage to linger nearby.   He “followed him at a distance, right  into the high priest’s courtyard” (Mark 14:54 CSB).

How brave would I have been?  Would I have scattered?  Would I have followed at a distance?  Would I have stormed into the trial and tried to  defend Jesus or instead hunched by the fire so that no one knew I was his follower?

Would I have denied Jesus as Peter did that night, three times pretending not to know Jesus when people asked?

I think perhaps Peter was braver and more courageous than I could have been.  He loved Jesus enough to follow that mob of soldiers and stayed nearby even thought he risked being caught himself.

The notes in my Bible say this about Peter, though:

…as with many believers, he allowed his human fears to overcome his spiritual  resources, which were available to give him strength for the difficult times.

My girls heard a scary, unidentifiable noise and they reached for every resource they had available:  a phone call to mom, a lock on a bedroom door, and some big sticks (including a hobby horse).

What do I grab for when I’m afraid?

God has equipped us with these spiritual resources:  HIS Word, HIS Character, HIS Strength, HIS Promises, HIS Spirit, HIS fruit.

May I never allow my human fears to overcome all that God gives me.  May I learn to rely on who God is, on His great love, and on His might and His mercy instead of any human strength (weak as it is) I can muster on my own.

As the Psalmist said:

When I am afraid,
I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?  (Psalm 56:3-4 CSB).  

 

 

Say to those with fearful hearts

At the amusement park, after we’ve parked  the minivan and handed over our passes to be scanned and our bags to be checked, we head for the measuring station .

Only one of my kids still needs to be measured.  My girls have long since passed the point where they can ride anything in the park because of their height.

My son, though, is still tracking his growth progress through wrist band colors.  Each color tells him what he can ride based on how tall he is.

Somehow between the start of summer to the early fall, he shot up through three different colors on the ride chart.   That means technically he can ride his first big roller coaster.

This is thrilling to him.  He announces to each member of the family what color he’s on now.

But when I ask him if he really wants to ride any of the bigger rides—any of them at all—-he says, “I’ll do that when I’m 7.”

He’s taller than he is brave.

I remind him that the colors don’t really matter if we’re not going to ride any of the higher, faster rides, but he’s thrilled just the same.  He celebrates physical growth and that’s enough for him.

Not all of my kids have been like this, but most of them have (three out of the four).  We are timid about these things,  more likely to enjoy the small swings,  the bumper cars and the kiddie roller coaster long after others have moved on to bigger thrills.

We’re not born brave.  We’re  not naturally bold.  Courage isn’t part of our DNA.

(I’m still not a thrill-seeker.  At almost 40 years old, I’d rather not ride any rides at all . Even the spinning teacups aren’t my favorite.)

I can have fun at an amusement park without the speed and the rush and the drops that I hate so much.

But in life, fear can be so  much more crippling than this:  stealing joy, stealing peace, stealing boldness for the gospel and courage for Christ, stealing sleep.   It’s not about preference—rides or no rides.  It’s about fear holding me back from obeying Christ or keeping me from fully entrusting myself, my family, my kids to God.

Sometimes, all the anxiety over taking a next step can be utterly paralyzing.  What I really need to  do is just do  it.  Just take the step.   Just have  the conversation.  Just sign up or just step down.  Whatever God is asking me to  do, I need to do in obedience.   Faith over fear.  Trust over timidity.

Still I waiver so often.

Still I feel that paralysis of indecision and anxiety.

Still I try so hard to keep control over the many things I cannot control.

In the Everyday with Jesus Bible, Selwyn Hughes reminds me of what fear does and why it’s our enemy:

Fear sinks us:  When Peter stepped out of the boat, he “saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord,  save me!'” (Matthew 14:30 CSB).

Fear knocks us down:  When the disciples saw the glory of the Lord at the Mount  of Transfiguration, their fear sent them to their knees.  But, “Jesus came up, touched them, and said, ‘Get up; don’t be afraid.'” (Matthes 17:7 CSB).

Fear hides our treasures and gifts:  The man with one talent in the parable said, “I was afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground.”  His talent was wasted, buried in the earth and shoved into a hole in the ground because of fear.(Matthew 25:25 CSB).

Fear puts us behind closed doors:  After Jesus’s resurrection, the disciples gathered in secret, “with the doors locked because they feared the Jews. Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.”” (John 20:19 CSB). 

“Fear drives us underground:” Joseph of Arimathea was “a disciple of Jesus—but secretly because of his fear of the Jews” (John 19:38 CSB).

I wonder how often I let fears from my past hold me back in the here and now.  Maybe I’ve grown. Maybe I’ve gone up a few colors on the growth chart, and yet I’m still sticking to the same-old same-old, the easiest and the most comfortable things before me instead of moving on.

Isaiah the prophet said:

Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
He is coming to save you.” (Isaiah 35:4)

Maybe these are words we can speak to fearful hearts around us.

Or  maybe this is the reminder our own fearful heart needs:  “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming….”

It’s because of his presence, His strength, His might, His mercy that we fearful ones can take the next courageous step.

 

Bible Verses for When You Need Strength

  • Nehemiah 8:10 NIV
    Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
  • Psalm 22:19 NIV
    But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
        You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
  • Psalm 27:1 NKJV
    The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    Whom shall I fear?
    The Lord is the strength of my life;
    Of whom shall I be afraid?
  • Psalm 28:7-8 NIV
    The Lord is my strength and my shield;
        my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
    My heart leaps for joy,
        and with my song I praise him.
    The Lord is the strength of his people,
        a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
  • Psalm 29:11 CSB
    The Lord gives his people strength;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace.
  • Psalm 37:39 NKJV
    But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
    He is their strength in the time of trouble.
  • Psalm 46:1 NIV
    God is our refuge and strength,
        an ever-present help in trouble.
  • Psalm 118:14 NIV
    The Lord is my strength and my defense;
        he has become my salvation.
  • Psalm 119:28 NIV
    My soul is weary with sorrow;
        strengthen me according to your word.
  • Psalm 138:3 NKJV
    In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
    And made me bold with strength in my soul.
  • Proverbs 18:10 NASB
    The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
    The righteous runs into it and is safe.
  • Isaiah 12:2 NIV
    Surely God is my salvation;
        I will trust and not be afraid.
    The Lordthe Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
        he has become my salvation.”
  • Isaiah 33:2 NIV
    Lord, be gracious to us;
    we long for you
    .
    Be our strength every morning,
    our salvation in time of distress.
  • Isaiah 40:29 NIV
    He gives strength to the weary
        and increases the power of the weak.
  • Isaiah 40:31 NIV
    but those who hope in the Lord
        will renew their strength.
    They will soar on wings like eagles;
        they will run and not grow weary,
        they will walk and not be faint.
  • 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.’
  • Habakkuk 3:19 NIV
    The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
        he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
        he enables me to tread on the heights.
  • Mark 12:30 NIV
    Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV
    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
  • Ephesians 3:16 NIV
     I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
  • Ephesians 6:10 NIV
    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
  • Philippians 4:13 NIV
    I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Bible Verses about “The Lord is My…”

  • Exodus 15:2 ESV
    The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
  • Exodus 17:15 ESV
    And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner,
  • 2  Samuel 22:2 ESV
    He said, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
  • Psalm 16:5 ESV
    The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
  • Psalm 18:2 ESV
    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 23:1 ESV
    The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  • Psalm 27:1 ESV
    The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
  • Psalm 28:7 ESV
    The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
  • Psalm 118:14 ESV
    The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
  • Psalm 119:57 ESV
    The Lord is my portion;
        I promise to keep your words.
  • Lamentations 3:24 ESV
    The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
  • Zechariah 13:9 ESV
    And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’
  • Hebrews 13:6 ESV
     So we can confidently say,
    The Lord is my helper;
        I will not fear;
    what can man do to me?”

Four playgrounds in five days because we have hope

Four playgrounds in five days.

Last week, the forecast finally felt like spring.  Spring!  Sunshine, warmth,  sun,  blue skies and more sun.  I could almost feel  my vitamin D levels rising.

I packed some snacks, sunscreen and a Batman hat for my son and we visited playgrounds all week.  Anytime we could go, we went.  We walked to the playground in our neighborhood, we stopped in at the playground in our hometown, then  we picked up my daughters from school  and drove directly to a playground half an hour away just to enjoy it.

We even headed for the beach on Friday and we found a playground there, too.

I’ve always been such a task-oriented person; playing hookie from the to-do list so we can visit another park isn’t normal for me.

But it feels like this spring has been a long time coming and I am ready for it.

Anytime the wait feels long and the winter feels interminable, spring is the most welcome gift.

That’s how I feel:  Struck with wonder at the gift and deeply grateful.  I’m spilling over with praise and gratitude that our good God gives such gifts to those who wait with expectant hope.

That little taste of spring has me wanting more.  I’m insatiable now.  I’ve carried paperwork, writing, and even sewing out to the porch so I can work outdoors instead of inside.   I’ll take a walk  in the morning and will want to walk a few miles in the evening, too.

My son feels it, also.  We leave one playground and he’s ready to  move onto another one.  We are loving it.

I’ve  been reading Psalm 71 and the subtitle for this Psalm stops me right from the beginning:

Forsake Me Not When My Strength Is Spent

It’s a prayer for the weary and a request not to be left alone, or abandoned, or forsaken.  It’s holding out for God’s strength amid utter weakness.

It’s a cry for hope. from someone stuck in the middle of that winter that seems to never end.

This Psalm is for the poured out and the emptied, for those who have hung in there with determination and are ready to collapse into Jesus’s arms.

And this is the reminder the Psalm gives us:

God is faithful.

The Psalmist prays:

Be to me a rock of refuge,
    to which I may continually come (Psalm  71:3). 

He asks for God to be an inexhaustible source  of safety and strength.

I don’t just come today.  I come tomorrow, too.  I  come running to Him day after day, time after time.  This disappointment, this struggle, that mistake, that frustration, that delay, that season of waiting—where does it send us?

To our Rock of refuge.  We come and we come continually, because we cannot get enough of Him.  We’re desperate for His presence and we’re lost without His help.

Here’s the hope we have:

You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
    will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will bring me up again.
 You will increase my greatness
    and comfort me again (Psalm 71: 20-21, emphasis mine).

He will revive us, lift us up, and comfort us anew.  He has done it before, and He will do it again.

We know His faithfulness, His  steadfast character.  We see the testimony of God’s goodness in the past…in OUR past.

That’s why we praise.  Not only do we  run to our Refuge continually and trust Him to save us again, we keep the praises coming, too.

My praise is continually of you…

 My mouth is filled with your praise,
    and with your glory all the day.  (Psalm 71 :6, 8 ESV) .

We continually come.

God continually rescues.

We continually praise

and we continually hope.

But I will hope continually
    and will praise you yet more and more (Psalm 71: 14 ESV). 

This is what I’m feeling as I’m driven to playground after playground, taking walk after walk, dragging all of my inside work to a porch so I don’t miss a minute of sun.

I’m giving thanks, because again and again He does this, taking us through the winter, through all the cold and the wearying darkness, through the toil and the waiting, through the hard.

Thank you, Lord, for the warmth. I can’t get enough.  Thank you for the sun.  I don’t want to miss a minute of it.

Thank you for the scent of lilies in the breeze.  Thank you for mornings at a playground, picnics in the park and an afternoon at the beach.  Thank you for evening sunshine.

Thank you, Lord, for  being faithful.  Thank you for being our continual refuge.

Thank you that because of your faithfulness, we can have hope, not just for a moment, but in all seasons and at  all times.

When I Don’t Get My Way

isaiah 30

My one girl gets grumpy.

I arrive to pick her up at the end of an activity and I find her huddled on the floor, back turned to the crowd, face hidden on her knees or maybe she’s hiding under a table or in the back of a bathroom stall.

She’s not screaming or crying, but she’s definitely pouting.

With arms crossed, with feet stomping, with loud harumphs for emphasis at the end of her sentences, she tells me the crisis: Others disagreed, someone else wanted the same thing, another person got to go first, that person got something better.

But this is the bottom line: She didn’t get her way.

And now, she’s grumpy.

I understand.  I can be grumpy when I don’t get my way, too, wanting to sit out and let everybody know that I disagree with the decision and I’m sure not happy about it.

Another of my girls argues her case when she doesn’t get her way.  She argues….and argues….and argues her point until you’re knocked over by the powerful wave of her emotions and opinions.

And I understand this.  When I don’t get my way, I want to form protest marches and fight, fight, fight, too!  Instantly I think of who I can rally to “my side” and how I can convince others that my way is the right way, the best way, the only way.

Maybe if I just give the best speech, argue the best (or loudest, or longest, or most convincingly), use the best evidence and form the largest coalition I’ll win the day after all.

And my youngest girl simply cries over disappointment, not a temperamental tantrum on the scale of the hurricane tantrums we’ve seen in this family.  More like the desperately sad wail of a child who realizes the world doesn’t revolve around her…doesn’t always do what she wants or turn out the way she expects.

That’s a lesson that always stings painful and I’ve mourned myself with frustrated hurt that the world doesn’t bend to my whim or orbit around my convenience or comfort.

I don’t always get my way.

And, selfish creature that I am, I sometimes react all ugly.

Yet, while faith allows us to stand up for what is right and to speak truth in love, it demands something else.

Faith means trusting God even when things don’t go our way, when plans don’t work out, when others make decisions we disagree with, when life isn’t perfect or even when life is hard and obstacles loom large and hope doesn’t come easy.

Believing in God’s providential care isn’t faith until we’re blinded by circumstances and still trust.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us this:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith: That’s when we can’t see the end, can’t see how God could possibly work this out for our blessing and benefit, can’t imagine what God could possibly do to make this better much less make this the best.

But we trust Him anyway.

Faith means resting in the knowledge of God’s power over everything we face, even when our senses and circumstances tell us that people are in control, not God.

It seems like we rely on a boss, or a leader, or a committee chairman, or a judge, or someone in human resources ….but faith declares that it’s God, always God, only God who directs our lives.

God is my Good Shepherd, trustworthy, wise, caring, knowing, powerful.  I read the familiar promises:

God, my Shepherd!  I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk by my side (Psalm 23 MSG).

Yes, God my Shepherd leads me to places of rest and sustenance, providing what I need, sending me in the right direction, walking by my side even in the shadowy depths of the valley.

And my response can be fighting or pouting…but all my grumpiness, my protesting, my tears reveal where I’m not trusting God’s ability to control the tiniest detail of my life in His hands.

Isaiah tells me,

In repentance and rest is your salvation
in quietness and trust is your strength…  (Isaiah 30:15)

Enough of the ugly reactions, the crisis, the conflict.  Better to seek my God—-what now, Lord?  What is your will here in this place?  What will you have me do and how would You have me respond?

I choose resting in Him.

I choose a quieted heart.

I choose trust.

I choose Faith.

Originally posted August 16, 2013

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

20 Bible Verses About God’s Power and Might

verses power

  • Exodus 15:6 ESV
    Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power,
        your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.
  • 1 Chronicles 29:11 ESV
     Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.
  • 2 Samuel 7:22 ESV
    Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
  • Job 9:4 ESV
    He is wise in heart and mighty in strength
        —who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?
  • Job 26:14 ESV
    Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways,
        and how small a whisper do we hear of him!
        But the thunder of his power who can understand?”
  • Psalm 62:11 ESV
    Once God has spoken;
        twice have I heard this:
    that power belongs to God,
  • Psalm 95:3 ESV
    For the Lord is a great God,
        and a great King above all gods.
  • Psalm 96:4 ESV
    For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
        he is to be feared above all gods.
  • Psalm 145:3 ESV
    Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
        and his greatness is unsearchable.
  • Psalm 147:4-5 ESV
    He determines the number of the stars;
        he gives to all of them their names.
    Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
        his understanding is beyond measure.
  • Isaiah 26:4 ESV
    Trust in the Lord forever,
        for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
  • Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV
    Have you not known? Have you not heard?
    The Lord is the everlasting God,
        the Creator of the ends of the earth.
    He does not faint or grow weary;
        his understanding is unsearchable.
    29 He gives power to the faint,
        and to him who has no might he increases strength.
    30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
        and young men shall fall exhausted;
    31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
        they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
    they shall run and not be weary;
        they shall walk and not faint.
  • Jeremiah 10:12 ESV
    It is he who made the earth by his power,
        who established the world by his wisdom,
        and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
  • Jeremiah 32:27 ESV
    “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?
  • Zephaniah 3:17 ESV
    The Lord your God is in your midst,
        a mighty one who will save;
    he will rejoice over you with gladness;
        he will quiet you by his love;
    he will exult over you with loud singing.
  • Matthew 19:26 ESV
    But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
  • 1  Corinthians 6:14 ESV
    And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.
  • Ephesians 1:19-21 ESV
    and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
  • Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV
    Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
  • Ephesians 6:10 ESV
    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might