Candy blogs: God only opens the door to the future one step at a time. I remember about 15 years ago I was right in the middle of a huge jam. I was raised to DO and WORK and SERVE in the church. I was raised to try to get more on the DO side and less on the DON’T side. More on the good side than the bad side. I did and worked and served and rarely said no because I thought that the approval of men would make me more loveable to God.
At the age of 38 I found myself to be an angry, exhausted, resentful, frustrated, powerless, empty woman. I saw my life then as a mini tornado that swirled and swirled in front of my face. And I could see “issues” swirling around in the tornado but they were moving so fast I couldn’t make out what they were. I knew these were things God wanted to talk to me about but I didn’t know how to make the swirling stop so I could focus on those issues.
When I finally stepped off the roller coaster life I’d been leading my whole life, I began to see the swirling slow and then stop. The issues became clear to me.
What I had feared, my Red Sea, was solitude. Quietness. Lack of activity.
Through a powerful class and God’s Word, I began to unpack those issues in quietness and stillness. I was afraid of the quiet because I knew that the knocking on my heart’s door would become so loud I would have to
actually DEAL with it. The first lesson? Stop all forward motion. Sit at Jesus’ feet. Listen and don’t speak.
This seemed impossible for me to do. I was a doer. I was goer. But the direction was clear. STOP. BE. What I discovered was that I had gotten to the place where I could no longer hear God’s voice. I was wandering around in the desert hitting my head on brick walls. But as I put myself intentionally into times of quietness, adding margin for stillness into each day … time to process and think things all the way through … reading His Word and talking to the Lord … and just sitting in His presence, His voice became familiar to me and I could begin to understand the other issues He wanted to talk to me about.
When I held up the mirror of God’s Word, I saw ugliness looking back at me. … pride, arrogance, self-sufficiency, dominating, cruel, irritable, easily angered, needing to be the center of attention, craving approval & applause. These were my bondage, my Egypt.
The journey out of that mess was long and painful. I faced a few armies and obstacles and changes of course. It felt like I was crossing the Red Sea, looking at the wall of water on both sides of me and wondering if they would hold, wondering if God was truly making a way for ME … but all the while being totally aware that I was walking on dry land.
I crossed into freedom and have never been the same. I don’t walk perfectly but I no longer feel guilty about things that don’t really matter. I have a strong sense of joy and purpose. I rest in knowing that no matter what I DO or DON’T do, God will never love me more or less. I don’t wonder anymore if I am good enough. I listen more than I talk. I lean IN to His will and purposes for me instead of running away from them. I serve in my God-given strengths instead of saying yes to every opportunity that presents itself. My spirit is teachable and ready to hear and apply Truth. I hear His voice when He speaks to me.
I believe that every step of our journey is a choice. We can shake our fists at God and question His ways (which, BTW, He can handle and doesn’t love us less for) or we can look for how He is building our character. We may not always control what comes our way but we can choose our response.
Now … the questions for pondering and discussion on the way to our transformation …
What is your Egypt? Are you in bondage to anything?
What is your Red Sea? What do you fear?
We all have our own list. Is anything standing between you and freedom?
But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? Galatians 4:9
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
There is an old song I used to sing. So meaningful to me at different times in my life. It came to mind as I was working through this post.
♥¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ Janet Pascal ♥¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥
Keep choosing His ways … they always lead to freedom.
Candy blogs: “What we believe about God”, said the late A.W. Tozer, “is the most important thing about us.” Our belief, or lack of it, will eventually find its way into our actions and attitudes.
I came home from a semi-monthly Gathering at our church last night with my mind racing. The topic centered around doubt. The discussion was lively and diverse. It left me wanting more, to dig into the subject to find resolution in my own spirit.
The question was asked: Is doubt a sin?
First, what is doubt?
1. to be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely; hesitate to believe
2. to distrust
3. to fear; be apprehensive about
4. to be uncertain about something; be undecided in opinion or belief
There was much discussion. I think both schools of thought, those who did doubt God’s existence at some level and those who did not, felt vulnerable for disclosing it.
My disclosure was that I do not doubt God himself. When I was young in age and in spiritual maturity, I did have some doubt. But today I do not. Last night’s discussion made me start thinking about why this is true for me. In my mind, you either fully believe God or you don’t. But to really be able to believe God or believe in God, you have to have a foundational Biblical knowledge of who God is. I think doubt stems from fear but that knowledge about who God is instills hope and disperses doubt. Knowledge can lead to trust. In order to trust, you have to know God’s attributes. An attribute is “an essential characteristic of a person or thing”. Let’s look at the attributes of God. These are from a variety of sources.
God is Eternal: There has never been a time when God did not exist.
God is Unchanging, Immutable: “For I the Lord do not change.” Malachi 3:6
God is Sovereign: superior in position to all others; in control of all things
God is Triune: God is one in nature but three in person and manifestation.
God is Holy: His total separation from evil
God is Love: God holds the well-being of others as His primary concern.
God is Just: It is impossible for Him to do anything that is unfair.
God is Self-Sufficient: He has no needs and there is no way He can improve. To God, nothing else is necessary.
God Is Wise: Wisdom is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve these ends by the most perfect means.
God is Incomprehensible: God knows no boundaries. He is without measure.
God is Self-Existent: Nothing else in all the universe is self-caused. Only God.
God is Faithful: Everything that God has promised will come to pass.
God is Merciful: actively compassionate
God is Good: kind, cordial, benevolent, and full of good will toward men
God is Gracious: God enjoys giving great gifts to those who love Him, even when they do not deserve it.
I enjoyed this article by Wallace Smith. I certainly don’t agree with everything he states in his article (thus I won’t put a link here) but I adapted it. Put your doubt up against the three Big O’s, also attributes of God.
The Greek word translated as omnipotent here is pantokrator, meaning “All-ruling” or “Almighty.” When we say God is “Almighty”, we are stating our belief in His authority and rulership over all creation. It is God who ultimately reigns in the universe, and all legitimate authority must derive from Him. If we let Scripture tell us of God’s authority, we must agree that He has all authority to do all His pleasure (Isaiah 46:10–11), and to see to the fulfillment of His plans without fail.
“Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!” Revelation 19:6
Basically, being omnipresent means being present everywhere at the same time. Ask yourself: is there any physical location in this universe where we can hide from the presence of God? He is not like a substance spread out in a thin layer all over the earth – all of Him is everywhere at one and the same time. Through His Spirit, God’s reach extends to every nook and cranny of the universe.
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell [the grave], behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139:7–10
Omnisicient is defined as “having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding; perceiving all things.”
God sees all things, and nothing can be hidden from His knowledge—not even the secret intentions of the heart. Human beings perceive through the senses, but there are limits to what the senses let us perceive and understand. God’s senses are not limited like ours. Nothing is beyond God’s ability to perceive it. Nothing can escape His gaze and His knowledge.
Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do. Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are now far from my righteousness. I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. Isaiah 46:9-13a
Can I trust my life to a God like this? I can. Can I trust and doubt at the same time? I don’t believe I can. Belief is a choice and is not based on emotions. How we FEEL does not affect our belief. Feelings ebb and flow. If, and only if, we have the basics of our Bible-based beliefs about God and who He is firmly implanted in our hearts and minds, life circumstances, people, natural disasters, injustice, crisis, disease–all the things that may cause us to doubt God–can be run through the filter of God’s word and His character.
The longer I walk with God and am able to see His plan and purposes for me in my past, the easier it becomes to trust Him today and in the future. In my mind, there is no room for doubt in that sentence. I don’t always understand everything God does in my life, but I can still trust that His purposes are always for my benefit. When we say we doubt God, I think we either haven’t firmly established who God is in our life or we’re really doubting our worth or loveability. I don’t think that means we’re doubting God himself.
But I’ll have to save that for another post.
If you haven’t firmly established your Biblically-based beliefs about who God is in your life, WORK IT OUT. Read His word! Have lively discussions with Christians you trust! Think and ponder! Talk to God about it!
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. James 1:2-8
Would love to hear your thoughts about this issue of doubt.
Candy blogs: One of my favorite quotes: “He who is enslaved to the compass has the freedom of the seas.” This saying has been on my computer monitor at work for many years. It has helped me navigate the sometimes murky ethical waters of the corporate world. But I’ve found that it has many applications in my life.
It took time to come to the realization that “the compass” was not what was restricting my life. For so long I fought against the compass … feeling guilty for not reading the Bible enough, not praying enough, not going to church every Sunday, getting my ears pierced, wearing pants to church, swimming on Sundays, moving my hips when I sang, making out with my boyfriend, liking rock music, dancing, and then later not being the perfect June Cleaver wife and mother, overeating, going to R rated movies. The list is endless. Yes, it was a list.
I felt almost compelled to do these things because I felt restricted. I felt that “the compass” was legalistic and was boxing me in. The longer the list of don’ts, the faster I ran the other way. I hated being told what to do and how to spend my time. But as time passed I grew frustrated at the lack of spiritual power in my life. What did one have to DO anyway to have the dynamic spiritual life I saw in those around me?! I didn’t know where to go next. When had I done enough to gain favor with God? When had I crossed over the line into sin? It was a very confusing time. I was tired from the “doing.” I had swam and paddled and drifted but there was no destination in sight. I was lost on “the seas.” I had ignored the compass.
Recently, I found what I believe to be the original quote from above:
“The slave to the compass has freedom of the seas. The rest must sail close to the shore.” anon
It adds another dimension, doesn’t it? What is sailing close to the shore anyway? Sounds very poetic but how do we apply it in a practical way?
Giving up our rights. We must remember that we aren’t the center of the universe! We cannot look at everything based on how it makes US feel. Sometimes we must give up being right in order to save a relationship. Sometimes we must eliminate our expectations to keep from hurting others or being hurt by others. Sometimes we must put our needs aside for the needs of a loved one. Often we must give up what we want for the good of family, hold an opinion in check because it is poor timing or can’t be expressed without a critical tone, accept people and situations we have no control over and grieve in silence rather than lashing out in hurt or anger.
Abandoning the safety of the shoreline. The future is an unknown. Tomorrow is unknown. This is a breeding ground for fear. We so often step into the future fearfully, looking beside or behind us for the outline of the shore. To me the shore represents the past, the familiar. We’ve always done it a certain way, we’ve always believed this, we’ve always walked a certain path because it is familiar. Living too close to the shore brings living with hurt feelings, needing the approval of others, being bound by needless rules to follow and lists to check off, assuming the worst in others, nursing old grudges, feeling justified in being right at the expense of others, having a reputation as a grumbler, ignoring our God-given value and worth. We are too afraid to try new things, experience it in a different way, make that leap of faith for a deeper walk with Jesus. We use the shore as our reference point instead of the compass. Only the compass can take us into the deep places. If we choose the shoreline, we’ll always be looking behind instead of ahead to the freedom-filled life God has waiting for us.
Over time, the “doing” gives way to the “being.” We’re no longer drawn to the list of do’s and don’ts. The rules are viewed as “training” for ocean sailing! The compass keeps us on course. The result is the wind in our face!
Are we satisfied sailing close to the shore? Or can we hear the mysteries and deepness of the seas calling out to us … the call of freedom? With a compass, we can go anywhere! All we have to do is chart a course, check the compass and off we go … farther and farther from the safety and familiarity of the shoreline. Ahead? The vastness of the seas!
Proverbs 8:27-29 (King James Version)
27 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: 28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: 29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth …
for those of you reading from somewhere else: