In the Midst

A letter to my sister who is waiting…

First of all, cling to the truth that you are never alone. This truth brings the ultimate comfort. God’s presence is like a comfy couch that just envelops you and makes you never want to leave. It’s so easy to just keep looking to the future, seeing all these plans ahead of you. Plans that you want. A new job, a baby, a house, a solid income, or even just an answer. But it seems as though you are stuck in this place. You find yourself wondering when these things will happen.

It’s in these seasons of life, these seasons of waiting, I find my prayer life totally reflects how I’m feeling. My prayers tend to be more selfishly focused because in my brain I’m like…I’m gonna pray for this again..and really hard this time…the more I pray the same thing over and over again, the quicker I get what I want.  Insert eye-rolling emoji here. We become so enveloped by our own thoughts and prayers that our perspective becomes misplaced.

God is always quick to remind me that He is Immanuel, God with us (Matt.1:23). God left us with the Holy Spirit so that we are never alone. I’ve been reading a new devotional on my phone, and I think the author words it perfectly.
“Here we are , living in the church age of history, the Holy Spirit alive in us and through us. Jesus has come! Still, we ache and we long, and we search for God and pursue heaven on Earth, and we come up empty-handed. Why is this so? I think it’s because we forget that He is Immanuel…He is with us on our job, at school, when we do the dishes, at the grocery store…He is with us when we lock ourselves in the bathroom from our kids, when our marriage hits a rough patch or when life breaks our heart in half.”

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So when we are waiting, and seem to feel like our heart’s desires will never be met, God is there. He hears your cries when you don’t know how you will make ends meet for the whole month or pay the bills that were due last month. When you lie in bed at night, while your husband sleeps soundly, and you think no one else will hear your tears and sniffles, Jesus is there, arms open wide, ready to hold you, His precious daughter. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” God has used this verse so many times to comfort me. Lately it’s what comes to mind with every negative pregnancy test I take. Month after month a dumb little stick tells me no again and for a brief or long time, I let it control my feelings. My husband and I will be waiting for a yes from God in this area of our lives, and then later, He reveals another good reason He has kept us waiting. But at times, it just stinks.

On the other side of waiting, there is joy and expectancy. Waiting does not always bring sorrow. It is ok to long for something and expect something because of who God is. We serve a God who is mighty, powerful and sees beyond our vision. He does not waver or cower when we ask Him to move mountains in our lives. He remains firm and assures us through His faithfulness that He has this totally under control. Isn’t it so comforting that God sees the big picture? Sometimes I imagine Him texting me back and saying, “girl, chill. You don’t even know what I have for you in the next 5 minutes, so quit worrying about next Tuesday and whether or not you’re going to hear from that job.”

It’s thoughts like these that make me so thankful that He gave us His word. A book of truth full of His promises. The Bible is full of people who waited way longer than we ever will. People who waited to hear from God, waited for a child, waited for Jesus.

In Psalm 139, David poetically expresses how beautiful the Lord’s love for us is. He describes how he knows us in verses 1-16.

O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night–but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

So in your everyday life, remember that we don’t have to wait. You have Jesus. And God has your life in His hands. Ask for His will even when you want your own. Ask the Holy Spirit to align your heart with the Lord’s.

I’ll leave you with Judges 18:6 “Go in peace,” the priest replied. “For the Lord is watching over your journey.”
❤ Ran

Here is one of my current favorite songs that really helps bring my perspective back to a kingdom one. With most worship songs, I prefer to listen to them once to become familiar, then another time to truly take in the words (normally googling the lyrics), and then I will sing along. When our ears hear our own voice speaking God’s truths, it produces more faith. So sing it out, girl.

To my sister who longs to be content…

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First off, you are not alone. The struggle to be content is real. We make it more real than it ever needs to be. Living in a world where you can buy anything at any time whether you have the money or not, has become normal. We let the fantasy of earthly romance briefly fill a longing in our hearts, while crossing boundaries that chip away at our innocence. We think moving to the next thing, attaining success or a new job will solve our problems (because our problems aren’t that big to begin with, right?). Wrong.

When we desire things or people more than God, it’s sin. When we struggle with honoring God as all we need, it goes beyond the surface, being rooted in our hearts. In order to take our focus from wanting stuff or people, we have to surrender our hearts to Christ. It is so very easy to lose sight of that when we begin to feel content because of things other than Jesus.

So back in May, I wrote a note in my phone. It started with, “Why do I always feel like I need something new? There are a handful of days out of the year when I feel content. Like truly, fully content.” I had found myself so easily pleased by spending money frivolously. It could be anything from buying new work clothes to lunch for my husband. This only happens when my focus shifts, and I am not spending enough time actively worshiping God. But I found myself feeling fulfilled or complacent. Feelings can get you in trouble, let me tell you. God created emotions. He gave them to us; perfectly crafted emotions for us to relate to each other in ways we wouldn’t be able to without them.

Our emotions do not get to dictate our actions, unless we allow them to. Sometimes we experience the best things when we only follow our hearts, but all too often we replace truth with how we feel. Our emotions are so real and raw at times that it’s hard to see beyond them. The best part is that truth never changes; therefore, God is constant, unwavering in the face of our emotions, and working for our good in spite of the lies we believe.

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom…” That’s the first half of 1 Corinthians 1:25, and it so simply shows how greatly we fall short of the Glory of God. We can be so easily blinded by our version of wisdom, when in fact we are beyond foolish. We convince ourselves that the unnecessary will fill our hearts with peace and joy, when everything we need is found in Jesus. Content at its very definition means to be satisfied with what you have; not wanting more.

So as we work to shift our focus from things to God, we will experience some growing pains. Hebrews chapter 12, verse 11 says,

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

We have to remember that God holds the title of our Father. As a loving father, he wants to shape us and mold us, and that requires discipline. It doesn’t always feel good. We won’t always feel content. But as I said earlier, truth never changes and God’s word is truth. The Word promises us that if we stay the course and surrender to Christ, we will receive “peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Contentment will come with practice.

When you find yourself struggling to feel content, take time to reflect on how you have been living. Take a look at where you spend your resources, including: money, time, and skills. Schedules and routines aren’t for everyone, but make dedicated time for God. Don’t replace that time with anything else because you might walk away feeling content, but your soul will still be hungry. Let His word sink into your heart and continue His transformation. God loves you where you’re at, but too much to let you stay there. The more you practice being content and focusing on God throughout your daily life, you will find that no matter where you are physically, emotionally or spiritually, God is there and that is enough. When you don’t have a Pinterest perfect life or even a glimpse of it, God is there and that is enough.

Breathe in Emmanuel. Exhale the world.
❤ Ran