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Better Than ‘All or Nothing’

14 Jul

I continue to struggle with my “soft food addiction,” especially hoarding chocolate candy, cookies and other sweet things. (It’s not that I can’t ever have something sweet, but it is a dangerous area for me.)

But one Wednesday during an appointment, I told Kim, my nutritionist, “I finally got rid of all the junk food in my house.”

Kim looked surprised and pleased. “I’m so proud of you,” she said. “Was it hard?”

“No, not really,” I said. “I ATE it all!”

I’m sort of an all-or-nothing person.  Some days I’m “all in” and thriving physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Other days, not so much.

I’ve discovered one sinful habit or attitude in one area cascades into other areas, and soon I’m walking far off the righteous path the Lord has designed for me. The path of life.

It was just a little sin, I rationalize. But it still was sin if the Lord told me “no.” And all sin is continuing evidence of how much I need Him.

I love the American Dream, but for a long time I carried over the concept of independence into my walk with God.

I thought, “The more I’m independent—the less I have to call upon the Lord for help—this will be evidence of spiritual maturity.”

That couldn’t have been more foolish.

The true sign of spiritual maturity is

greater understanding of our need

and growing dependence on the Lord.

So I’m learning to step back and evaluate why I ran ahead of God … why I made a decision without consulting Him … why I lagged behind in disobedience … why I mindlessly walked through life.

It’s usually about some form of pride, selfishness, willfulness or outright rebellion. But sometimes it’s just forgetfulness. I forget how needy I truly am. 

In “performance mode,” I bounce back and forth between legalism and giving up.

In those times, I ultimately am most desperate.

But I’m learning to walk under God’s protective grace:

Observing, confessing and correcting. Not beating myself up. Moving forward in grace and trusting Him.

There is no condemnation in Christ, but there are constant opportunities to learn to depend on Him.

For everything.

Just as my silly conversation with Kim indicated, I have often made foolish choices.

But I’m learning to keep in step with the Spirit. 

How? It’s a process:

  1. Acknowledge – I admit your errors and mistakes; confess my sins. (Again, this is not a matter of beating myself up!)
  2. Accept – I receive the forgiveness I have in Christ.
  3. Allow – I let God’s grace flood over me, encouraging me; I remember what Christ has done for me!
  4. Adjust – I correct my thoughts, attitudes and behavior. It’s a matter of becoming obedient to God’s Word and will, and walking in the Spirit afresh. It’s a walk in freedom!

All-or-nothing? No.

The better perspective is ALL-IN-ALL.

This song expresses what’s in my heart as I think about this today:

“You are my strength when I am weak.

You are the treasure that I seek.

You are my all in all.”

(“You Are My All in All,” sung here

by David Phelps/Gaither Vocal Band.)

Jesus wants to be my Everything.

And I sincerely want that too. Even when I stray. Even when I mess up.

I want to be a woman after God’s own heart.

Why? I’m learning He is my strength, my wisdom, my victory, my only hope and so much more.

Is this your heart too? Is Jesus your “all in all?

 

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The Doctor Is In

7 Jan

One day, Emma felt terribly ill, so she was glad her doctor was in. The doctor checked her out, prescriptions_orangepills_dmwilson_lolwithgodsmiled, and then left the room.

A few minutes later, the doctor’s assistant returned with three bottles of pills. Emma looked surprised.

“You need to take the green pill with a big glass of water when you first wake up,” the medical assistant said. “Then take the yellow pill with water after lunch. And right before you head to bed, take the orange pill with another glass of water.”

Emma, suddenly overcome with fear, blurted out, “This is terrible! What’s wrong with me? Why do I have to take so much medicine?”

“Oh, it’s not about the meds,” the assistant said. “You’re just not drinking enough water!”

LOL!

Sometimes the simplest solutions are best, but we miss them. So we get a lot of “prescriptions” that are likely unnecessary.

[Don’t misunderstand me. I am all for medical prescriptions that are needed, often crucial. But some healing doesn’t require “meds” at all. Spiritually speaking, there might be something else we’re missing.]

God, our Great Physician, hears our hurts and HE is the best prescription for our “heart needs.”

We may clamor for other “prescriptions.” We may think we need something from God. But the truth is, we need God Himself.

Jesus said, “apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

But He also said, “You refuse to come to me” (John 5:40). (Foolish, right?)

That second scripture is true of lost humanity that rejects Christ. But in one sense, it’s also true for the believer.

We scurry around looking for other solutions in our times of need. Sometimes we even make good things—our church, our Bibles, our ministry—little gods in our lives, hoping they can solve our issues.

We only come running to the Lord when all else fails us. We’re so slow to learn.

John 15:5 is changing my life. I keep telling myself, over and over, “Remember: without Jesus, you can’t do anything!”

I know in my heart this is true for all of us.

Even our goodness, apart from Jesus, is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6a).

Our best efforts are futile because they won’t last; nothing is eternal that is not connected to Him (1 John 2:17; 2 Peter 3:10-12).

John Piper shared the example of a paralyzed man who could do nothing for himself but talk. But a strong and reliable friend came to live with the man and help him. The paralyzed man had nothing but praise for this caring friend.

That is how I must see my state.

I can do nothing apart from the grace of God. But who can tell what I might do IN His grace?

I can only bear fruit in my life and ministry when I come to God in prayer in my time of need (Hebrews 4:16) and rest in my position in Christ.* And when I do, this glorifies the Father (John 15:7-8). And my heart fills with praise to Him.

The Doctor is in, but we must come to Him.

Is there any area of your life where you’re still trying to go it alone? Do you need a “come to the Doctor” moment?

* Some of the scriptures that tell the believer what it’s like to be “in Christ” – Romans 8:1-2; Ephesians 1:3; 2:6; Colossians 1:13; 3:1, 3; Philippians 4:13.

Also: see my Heart Choices Today post about being “in Christ.”

~ Dawn

 

 

 

Are You a Patient ‘Patient’?

27 Feb

There are so many LOL opportunities at a doctor’s waiting room.

“Adam, an elderly man was seated in the doctor’s waiting room. When he was called in to see the doctor, Adam slowly got up, and, grasping his cane and hunching over, slowly made his way into theOldManWithCane_TheMiracle examining room.

“After only a few minutes, Adam emerged from the room, walking completely upright. Paul, another patient who had watched him hobble into the room all hunched over, stared in amazement.

“‘That must be a miracle doctor in there.’ he exclaimed. ‘What treatment did he give you? What’s his secret?’

Adam stared at Paul and said, ‘Well, the doctor looked me up and down, analysed the situation, and gave me a cane that was four inches longer than the one I had been using.’*

LOL! Things are not always what they seem, are they?

I’ve been in a lot of doctor’s offices lately, and I’ve started wondering if I’m a patient patient.

Not long ago, I watched a crabby old man complain and complain and COMPLAIN! He griped about the time he had to wait. He sniped at the receptionist. In general, he was a miserable guy and determined to make others in the waiting room uncomfortable too.

He wasn’t a patient patient.

And as I sat there thinking about how I felt watching him, I started thinking about how I act as a “patient” of the Great Physician. As God is working to heal my soul and sanctify my life–to make me more like Jesus–I get so impatient sometimes.

But God is teaching me three things:

1. I need to “wait” on the Lord with anticipation and hope.

Waiting as the Bible describes it is a positive experience–or it’s supposed to be.  Here are just a few of the scriptures that teach us this truth:

  • “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long” (Psalm 25:4-5)
  • “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).
  • “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him” (Lamentations 3:25).
  • “But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7).
  • Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you” (Psalm 33:20-22).

That doesn’t mean there’s no suffering in the wait (Psalm 40:1-3; Colossians 1:11), but rather that God will use hard circumstances to build strength of character in us when the going gets tough . . .IF we are turning to Him to get through them.

A.W. Tozer said, “Problems patiently endured will work for our spiritual perfecting.”

The truth is, while we wait we can still choose to set aside bitter complaining and rejoice in the Lord.

“… we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4).

We don’t have to act like that grumpy old guy in the waiting room!

2. I need to remember the Great Physician knows what is best for my life.

I need to relax in Him … rest in Him (Isaiah 30:15) if I want to experience His deliverance and strength. The blessing is, God can make us “fruitful” even in our times of affliction (Genesis 41:52b).

The One who sees the beginning and ending of time knows what is best, and I believe He “who began a good work” in His own will “bring it to completion” when Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6).

3. I need to practice patient trust.

I need ditch my pride and stop trying to make all the elements of my life work the way I want them to. Instead, I need to exercise faith that God will accomplish His purposes in me (Hebrews 11:1). I need to practice patience daily.

God’s thoughts are above my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8), so I need to trust His wisdom and rest in His sovereign care.

Trusting God is releasing our lives to His control. It’s understanding His work may take some time, and it may not follow our agenda. 

Years ago, a friend of mine (also named Dawn) shared this poem with me and it stuck with me, deep in my heart:

“Just as my child brings his broken toys with tears for me to mend,
I took my broken dreams to God because He was my friend.
But then instead of leaving Him in peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help with ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried, ‘How could you be so slow?’
‘What could I do, my child? ‘ He said. ‘You never did let go’.” **

Oh, how we need to practice the patience of faith!

Are you a patient patient? What can you do to better trust the One who loves you and desires to heal and change your life for His glory?

 * Humor – Will and Guy’s Selection of Clean Doctor’s Jokes.

** Poem by Junior Frontilus

– Dawn

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