Conviction – what does that mean? I was too embarrassed to tell her I had no idea what she was talking about. But that is where my journey of faith began. I was 29 years old.
It is a new year! I can’t say I am sorry to see the last one go. 2016 was filled with tension, conflict and transition for our nation, for many of our lives personally.
For myself , it was also filled with tension, illness and transition as my husband and I moved from a metropolitan area where we have lived for many decades, to a remote area by a lake.
This move meant saying goodbye to lifelong friends, our church home of 35 years and everything near and dear to us. It meant saying goodbye to teaching Bible Study that I had done for years.
When we moved in the summer, I had already committed to teach before I knew we were moving. So my sweet husband told me that if I wanted to keep that commitment for the fall, that he would drive me the five hours each week so I could complete my commitment. And that is what we did.
It happened that I was teaching from the book of 2 Timothy. This book of the Bible is the last letter the Apostle Paul wrote and the last word Timothy heard from him. So, it was very emotional for me because it was my goodbye to a class of women I had taught for many years.
For some reason in the fall semester, I used a different Bible than I had normally used. This one was new and I was not as familiar with how the books and chapters flowed on the pages. Then, in the last week of my study, as I read the last few verses of the book of 2 Timothy, I turned the page for more.
The page was blank.
As I looked at that blank page, I was overwhelmed with grief and thought, “this is what my life looks like right now. Blank. I don’t know what is ahead for me.” No sooner had I thought these things then I sensed God in my spirit saying “What looks blank to you, I have already filled. I know exactly what your future holds – trust me.”
Trust means to be confident and secure in something or someone, and as I thought about it, I remembered one of my favorite passages of scripture:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
In that moment, I had immediate peace like a weight had been lifted because I knew I could be confident in my security with Him. I began to pray “Lord, I do trust you with my life and my future and I thank you in advance for it. Because my understanding was flawed by my human nature and grief, all I saw was a blank page, but you knew what was written upon it and I am confident you have gone before me and paved a path for me.”
One month later, as I sat in my remote lakeside home, I received an unexpected invitation to speak and teach through a radio program. I was shocked! But as I prayed about accepting and spoke with a spiritual mentor, I remembered God’s promise. The page that looked blank to me, God had already filled.
And so as I begin this New Year, I am thankful. I am thankful for God who goes before us preparing the way in which we are to go. He has made all things new in this New Year. He has provided a way for me to continue teaching, even from a remote location.
If He will do something new in my life, He can surely do something new in your life. Trust Him with your present and with your future. He will make a way for you. “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 KJV
Father, what a blessing it is to know you, to trust you and feel secure in your loving arms. And as we begin this New Year, I pray for our readers and beyond, that you will teach us to love one another. That you will teach us to trust you with the blank pages of our lives. Thank you for guiding our footsteps to the places you have gone before in order to make a way for us. Amen
“O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy;
In your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.”
Psalm 143:1 NIV
It is the holiday season – that time of year for celebration and giving thanks for our country and God’s provision for those who landed on the shores of this great land all those years ago.
And yet, for many this Thanksgiving and holiday season, celebration is the last thing on their minds. Hearts are broken, health is in question or provision unknown. Where is the hope and help needed in these times of despair and hopelessness?
In reading a prayer of David in the Psalms, you will find five “me’s in his requests of God in chapter 143:
- Answer me
- Show me
- Rescue me
- Teach me
- Lead me
David was overwhelmed by his situation. He was desperate for mercy and word of God’s unfailing love. Despair was trying to drag him down into a pit, but he was determined to trust God. He cried out to Him for his needs of rescue and guidance.
- He needed a quick answer because his spirit was failing, meaning he was at his wit’s end and sinking into despair fast.
- He needed guidance and direction for which way to go through the difficult circumstances facing him.
- He needed to be rescued from those who were out to destroy him.
- He needed lessons for how to know God’s will and how to do it.
- He needed to be led on a path that was free from obstacles at every turn.
Throughout David’s prayer, he made commitments to the Lord to meditate on all the works of God and the things He had done. This is where you would remember that it is God who created you to be His very own. It is God who loves you with an everlasting love that cannot be taken away from you.
Then David surrendered his situation, made his “me” requests known and trusted God for answers, love and deliverance. There are times in our prayer life when we intercede for others, but there are times in our prayer life when it is all about “me”. When you are heartbroken and in despair it is perfectly OK for your prayer to be all about you. God wants you to be healed from your broken heart, illness, despair or whatever state has tried to drag you down. He will give you strength to endure.
This Psalm of David is short but filled with hope, encouragement and teaching for all, but especially those in seemingly hopeless situations. With Jesus, there is always hope because He is our Hope! (I Timothy 1:1)
Practice the five “me’s” in your prayers as you trust God for hope, answers and direction. He will guide you through whatever difficult situation you may find yourself experiencing. No matter what you hear, experience or who comes against you, He is with you always. He is there for you and hears the cries of your heart.
“Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I Thessalonians 5:16 NIV
Last week I saw what it truly looks like to give thanks in all circumstances. We visited my niece in the physical rehab facility where she has been for many weeks following an extensive hospital stay. Her legs will not hold up her body and she was continuing to get weaker and weaker. The doctors finally diagnosed her with Gillian Barre Disease. It is a rare and unusual disease causing weakness and paralysis.
As we visited, I was amazed at her sweet and positive attitude. Just before we left, I prayed for her. Immediately following the Amen, she said; “Can I tell you something. The way I am able to cope with this is by being thankful. I just tell the Lord all day long how thankful I am for everything that happens, and I know this experience will simply strengthen my testimony for ministry.”
I was speechless. This is a young woman in her 30’s, married with three children. She has a busy life and certainly doesn’t have time for this illness. She lives in West Texas and was brought to a Dallas hospital, then transferred to Fort Worth closer to her Mother. She has been away from her young family for at least two months and is unable to walk. But she is thankful. What a testimony of faith to others she already has, beginning with her Aunt Virginia in that humble moment of sharing.
And I was not only speechless, but deeply humbled to realize how much complaining I have done in my life. I learned a very important lesson in seeing the scripture lived out in my sweet niece. When God said to be thankful in all circumstances, He knew it was not an impossibility. He did not give a task we would not be able to accomplish. Audrae is living proof of it.
Today I want to wish each of you a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with an attitude of gratitude. May we all be thankful in all circumstances for that is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus.
And if you would please remember Audrae in your prayers and give thanks for her testimony of faith as God does His work of healing in her life, I know she would appreciate it. I am thankful for you. Have a blessed weekend.
In 1620, the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts after a difficult voyage from England. Following a winter filled with hardships, the native Indians helped the pilgrims learn how to plant corn and produce crops. At the first harvest, in November 1621, pilgrims and native Indians joined together for a meal to give thanks for the harvest. And so, we in America have followed this tradition of our forefathers in celebration each year on the day that was designated as Thanksgiving.
But have we lost sight of what we are celebrating? Do we look at it as just another holiday when we don’t have to work? The pilgrims sacrificed lives and property in order to come to this new land to have the freedom to worship and practice their Christian faith. Thanksgiving was the day to give thanks to God for His freedom and provision. This faith was passed from generation to generation, but somewhere along the way, the Christian faith has lost national momentum.
In Second Timothy, as Paul gave thanks to God for Timothy, he was thankful for the faith of that young man. He stated it was a faith that had been passed down for two generations that Paul was aware of. This faith was lived out by Timothy’s mother and grandmother before him. Paul’s personal purpose in writing the letter to Timothy was to give him encouragement for carrying on the ministry in Paul’s absence. Apparently Timothy was timid in doing so, therefore, Paul’s words were given to empower him to overcome his fear. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (II Timothy 1:7) He was thankful for Timothy. His prayer of thanksgiving was personal, powerful and affirming. Paul was pouring into the life of the next generation for the purpose of growing others in faith for generations to come.
As we approach our designated national day of Thanksgiving next week, let us remember the purpose of our forefathers’ arrival in this land. Let us be thankful for the sacrifice they made for a country of freedom and for our current day military serving to keep our country safe and free. Let us not forget the purpose of this holiday. And then, may we make our thanksgiving personal, giving thanks and encouragement for those close to us who need an extra boost of affirmation for their life’s work and calling of God as we pass along the faith of those who have gone before us. Pour into the next generation the faith made possible for us by the sacrifice of Jesus. Pour into the next generation the history of our country and the true meaning of Thanksgiving that the momentum of the Christian faith may be revived in America.
“Thank you O Lord for the freedom we have in Christ. Thank you for those who have gone before us as a testimony of faith and freedom. Amen”
“I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did,
with a clear conscience, as night and day
I constantly remember you in my prayers.”
II Timothy 1:3 NIV
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