He’s Never Failing

Let’s go back to July 22, 2010. It was my first day back to work after being out for almost three months. I had just recovered from major surgery on my left shoulder and was released by my surgeon to resume normal activities. I was driving into work that sunny afternoon when I noticed a car on the other side of the road crossing the line into my lane. I started to slow down and try to veer off to avoid the oncoming car, but instead, the car hit my driver’s side at such a high impact that my car flipped 3 times.  

I was upside down in my car, crying for help while watching the blood stream down my left arm. I reached for my cell phone and called my dad. By the time he answered, a man who witnessed the wreck had made it to my car. The man had already called the police and was able to tell my dad what happened.

The paramedics had a difficult time getting me out due to the position and damage of my car.  They were finally able to get me out and rushed me to the ER.

I’ll spare you the details, but I had broken ribs and fingers, several cuts, and a major injury to my left elbow. The bone was shattered and my ulnar nerve was severed. They did surgery to try to repair what they could. Due to the injury of the ulnar nerve, I was told I would no longer be able to feel the left part of my forearm, nor would I have feeling in my pinky and ring fingers. This would also result in not having full use of those fingers. Did I mention I’m left-handed?  

Here I was, getting back on my feet from the shoulder surgery, starting back to work, and finishing out my last year of college in the fall. Then *bam* it all changes. I was back in bed for another 6 weeks to recover from the new injuries.

I battled depression.  I cried…a lot. I didn’t sleep much because of the pain. I asked God why He allowed this to happen more times than I can count. There were so many unknowns for the future at this point and I simply didn’t know how I was going to move forward.

It was an extremely long and difficult recovery. I was angry all the time, I was hurting, and I was tired of depending on everyone else to take care of me. Ask anyone who helped me… I was not pleasant to be around. I had all of these plans for my future and now they were ruined. 

But, I continued to pray. I wanted God to heal my broken spirit. I didn’t want to be angry and bitter.  

I read Jeremiah 29:11-13 over and over again. It says,  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

I clung to those words. I began to see all the little things the Lord was doing that I overlooked in all my anger. That cell phone I called my dad when the wreck happened? I had zipped it up in my purse before I left the house. How it ended up within my reach, I don’t know. My left shoulder from surgery did not sustain any damage at all from the wreck. The legal settlement with the insurance companies was finalized. I was about to reach out to the elderly woman who hit me. We exchanged a couple of letters while we both were recovering from injuries. I even graduated college earlier than expected! 

God knew I needed that wake-up call. That I needed to stop trying to control every aspect of my life. I now have a permanent reminder that His plans are far better than mine. He is faithful. He has provided (and continues to) in ways I could have never imagined.

Ladies, we will never know the full scope of God’s plans for our lives. But know that we CAN trust Him. He will provide in every circumstance, even if it isn’t the way we envisioned it.

One of my favorite passages is in Matthew. It’s a familiar one, but it brings me to tears every single time. Matthew 6:25-34 says, 

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

The Creator of the universe cares for you, for me, for us. Hold onto this.

Identity

There is so much said today about identity. Trying to find my identity… I identify as… Gender identity…

As we wander through life seeking who we really are, we are like naive children who haven’t learned what the mature world knows. If you are searching, if you are ready to see your true identity despite your past and your failures, if you need a refresher on who you are in Christ, then look to the book of Ephesians, especially Ephesians 1.

You will find that you are…

…holy

…blessed with every spiritual blessing

…chosen

…blameless

…adopted as God’s child

…redeemed

…forgiven

…given grace

…marked with a seal

…God’s possession

…God’s people

…given hope

…empowered

…loved

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“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemptionthrough his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

And don’t miss the last few verses! It s a prayer for you. Paul prayed it and I am praying it today for each of you who will read this article. Be blessed!

“15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

Mother’s Day Reflections

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. Some of you had a fulfilling day. Some cried over unfulfilled longings. Many grieved. Women’s emotions ran the spectrum from loneliness and disappointment to joy and that warm glow of satisfaction.

So how do we deal with the aftermath? With gratefulness, joy and investment.

Gratefulness.

As hard as your day may have been, you do have much to be thankful for. You are alive today, which means God isn’t finished with you yet – He still has a purpose and a plan for you. You are loved. Maybe family members didn’t come through as you had hoped, but you have a Creator who loved you enough to give up His throne room for a time and come walk this earth experiencing emotions, struggles and tragedies just like you.

Joy.

Seek out joy in small ways. As walk. A phone call. Flowers on the table. Coffee with a coworker. A good book. Snuggles with a pet. Quiet meditation in God’s glorious sunshine. Don’t neglect to slow down and savor those little God-moments when He places something special to you in your path just for your enjoyment: a perfect sunset, finding something we lost, or a sweet word from a stranger.

Investment.

Invest some thought, time, and money in someone else. It can be small, but meaningful: a card of encouragement or a text or call to someone you haven’t been in touch with lately. Or it could be bigger: cooking a meal or cookies for someone grieving or hurting. Or it could be acts of service: mowing the neighbors grass or volunteering with a service ministry .

When we do these things we set our mind on important things instead of fretting or regretting. We will be renewed by kindnesses done for others, moments of sheer joy, and simply taking time to be grateful for what we do have.

Be Blessed!

Remodeling

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17

HGTV has been a big hit for several years now. Many of us have watched Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Fixer Upper or Ben and Erin Napier’s Home Town or even The Property Brothers for years now. We’ve studied the open concept, shiplap, and the color schemes that are trending. Most have probably considered a remodel, and many of you have done one or may be in the middle of a big make-over project yourself. What is it about a remodel on our house that thrills us? A fresh start? The beauty and up to date appearance? Perhaps just a longing for something new.

A make-over of our surroundings is very appealing. We love this kind of change. But some other changes are not so welcomed nor embraced with such enthusiasm.

Internal personal changes in our lives are not often met with the enthusiasm of of a home make-over. In fact, we would much rather be left alone to wallow in our familiar ways. “This is just the way I am. Take it or leave it,” is our mantra.

God’s Word tells reminds us that is not the way God works. He is in the business of changing hearts and lives. In fact Scripture says He makes ALL things new.

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5

How does that strike you today? Sure we would love for parts of our lives to be straightened out, but other parts we really don’t want the Holy Spirit messing with. It sounds painful to change. It seems like we will have to turn loose of some of self-protective ways and be less selfish in general. It could reveal some hidden dirt and decay in our lives that we are vaguely aware of but really want to keep denying, much like the termite-ridden beam crumbling in that grand house remodel. It appears to be humbling, and our prideful hearts don’t want to choose that kind of change.

Be spiritually encouraged by our HGTV home man-overs. It can be hard. It can take a long time. It can be expensive. But a remodel, whether it is of a home or a heart is always worth it in the end! Allow the Holy Spirit to begin tearing down walls in your heart today.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

A Return on Investments

As the U.S. economy struggles many retirees find themselves watching the stock market to see how their retirement funds may be affected. These senior adults have spent years planning for their future, so they watch over their investments with diligence. Now they find that there is no real security in money and investments, funds can disappear much more easily than they were earned.

If money is not a secure investment, what is? Who or what are you investing in? A job, husband/romantic interest, a home, children, stocks & bonds, cars, boats, decorations, hobbies, vacations…? Are these the things you turn to for security? Is there any earthly thing we could invest in that would offer a sure return on the investment?

Yes, there is, but those things are not material. Security isn’t found in any possession we could ever hope to own no matter how large or unique or valued by the world. So what things do give us a good return for our time, money or energy invested?

  • People. Loving other people always pays off. Quite often you receive love friendship or gratitude in return. But even if you don’t, any loving investment in a person pours into a bank account that makes them a better person and sets in motion other good, loving outcomes. When we minister to the needs of people we open up doors for God to touch and heal broken hearts and lives.
  • Sharing the Good News of Jesus. This is the greatest investment we can make. It makes an eternal impact in this present world and in the future for all eternity. When hearts are turned to Jesus a cause-effect chain is set in motion that yields dividends to the end of time.
  • Giving money to missions. Tied in with sharing Jesus, is giving money to support others who are around the world sharing the Gospel inlaces you or I may not be able to go. Likewise, it yields eternal outcomes.
  • Following the commands of Scripture. Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Any act of justice, mercy or humility honors God, because He has told us this is what He requires of us. When we obediently live out the commands of scripture it yields fruit, righteous fruit.

These are just the tip of God’s rewarding investment strategies. We humans invest in things. God invests in lives. If we can get our focus off of all that glitters, we will see the greater value in lives that can be helped and changed for God’s glory.

So, what or who will you be investing in?