Plead Until the Peace Comes

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.
Psalm 94:19

Some days, the uncertainty of life is daunting. And sometimes, the certainty of life is just as bad – inevitable break-ups, illnesses, conflict and stress. We may see what’s coming and the anticipation is more than we can bear.

Anxiety is a tough emotion to crack. Once those stomach butterflies take flight, it’s difficult to settle them down. No hand towel sufficiently dries our palms. Our lungs simply can’t get enough air in. Do you know the feeling? I do. And I think Jesus did as well.

In Mark 14, we find Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, a place He often retreated to for prayer. This time, He brought Peter, James, and John with Him. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” He says to them. (v. 34) The original Greek word used to describe the state of His soul is perilupos, which means greatly grieved, being sorrowful “all-around,” i.e. engulfed in sorrow.

Think of the numerous words we use to define sorrow – sad, unhappy, brokenhearted, mournful, grief-stricken, remorse, poignance, bereavement, anguish. Jesus Himself, being fully God and fully man, experienced an overwhelming sense of these emotions. I imagine Him resisting the urge to vomit, His stomach turning in knots, head spinning, palms sweaty. Negative emotions take a physical toll on our bodies and it did the same for Jesus. He needed reprieve.

So He went to His Father. Going a little farther, He fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from Him. “Abba, Father,” He said, “everything is possible for You. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.” (v. 35-36)

Jesus pleaded with God for a different plan. We do the same thing, don’t we? When anxiety is deep within us, we want it to go away. We want God to change the circumstances causing our heartache. Yet, as David mentions in Psalm 94, it’s not the work God does that brings joy, but rather the consolation He extends. God didn’t take the cup from Jesus because the very thing Jesus wanted to avoid was what fulfilled God’s plan – salvation for all. Perhaps the very thing we want God to change is what He will use to fulfill His plan in us as well.

But it’s ok to plead with God until the peace comes, because it will. He will comfort us in our time of need. (2 Corinthians 1:3) He will hear us when we cry out to Him. (Psalm 18:6, 116:1) He will give us the strength to courageously face our greatest fears. After Jesus met with God, He was at peace with the plan. God had provided the comfort He needed to boldly walk to His death, with humility and compassion.

So the next time you’re anxious or overwhelmed by sorrow, plead with God through, praise and prayer, until the peace comes.

Is True Beauty Fleeting?

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
1 Peter 3:3-4

What is your favorite physical attribute? Your smile? Eyelashes? Waistline? I’m quick to recognize what I don’t like about myself, but it’s important to consider what we do like and be grateful. Because it may not always be that way.

I didn’t realize how attached I was to my hair until it started falling out. I simply thought it would always be thick and healthy.

Like many other women, my hair stopped falling out while I was pregnant and then fell out by the handfuls after I delivered my children. But this time was different. I wasn’t with child nor had I recently delivered. My hair was simply falling out for no apparent reason. And I could see exposed scalp beneath thinning hair.

The thought of having permanent hair loss evoked unexpected devastation and worry. What if it never goes back to normal? I began to realize part of my self-confidence was anchored in my hair. I had allowed my perception of personal beauty to be defined by my appearance.

This is far from what God wants for us. In fact, I Peter 3:3 says, Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. God gently reminded me that my worth and beauty does not come from my outward appearance, rather, it should be that of my inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (I Peter 3:4)

As a society, we make judgements based on external appearances. But many of our physical features are inherited and out of our control.

Our attitude, however, it something we can control and that is what God loves – our heart and soul. A gentle and quiet spirit knows how much God loves them, believes He is her perfect creator, and finds confidence in Him alone.

Consider again your favorite attribute. Now, imagine if you woke one morning to find it dramatically altered. Would you view yourself differently? God wants us to focus less on ourselves and more on Him. I pray our inner beauty becomes more important than our outward appearance. Because inner beauty – true beauty – isn’t fleeting.

How to Walk By Faith

For we live by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7

In the dim light of early morning I reached into the cabinet for a coffee mug. My morning routine – coffee with Jesus. Only today I was out of coffee, so hot chocolate would have to do. 

The word Faith was written on the side of this particular mug, bringing to mind some difficult family circumstances which were threatening my faith. I thought I was trusting God, but disappointment and discouragement had crept into my heart and were making themselves at home. My faith could use some help, I thought.

As I sat down to read my devotion, hot chocolate in hand, my planner, which had Walk by Faith on the front, caught my eye. Ok, I thought, I’m getting the message.

But how does one truly walk by faith? Life can be overwhelmingly negative at times and distractions divert our gaze from God without warning. A pleasant morning in prayer can quickly turn into a chaotic mess by lunch time. Peace is rapidly replaced by fear and anxiety.

Perhaps you know the feeling, too. Some days are tougher than others, but I’d like to share a few ideas God has been working with me on:

1.Expect God to answer our prayers.
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3
When we expect something, we regard it as likely to happen. In verse 5, the psalmist lays their requests before God and believes he will receive an answer. He is confident the Lord has heard him. He isn’t wishing and hoping to hear back – he expects it. We too, should expect to hear from God when we spend time in prayer. Faith is demonstrated in a posture of confident hope.

2. Anticipate God’s promises to be fulfilled.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2
When we go through tough times, we can be certain of a few things – they will not last forever, the Lord will be with us, and He will keep us safe. Walking by faith means choosing to focus on the brevity of our circumstances in light of eternity rather than the fear of infinite suffering. We choose to acknowledge God’s presence, believing He sees our pain and holds our hand through it. We know that whatever happens is under His control and will not harm us outside of His divine allowance. 

3. Watch for the lives of those around you to be positively influenced.
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Act 4:13
When walk by faith, others notice. They can sense peace that passes all understanding. They can feel compassion overcome rejection. They can see heads held high in confidence amidst uncertainty.

We may not always understand why we go through tough times. Sometimes we can’t see what God is doing. But like 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, we, as children of God, live by faith, not by sight.

To me, walking by faith means taking one step at a time with the Lord. It prompts necessary pauses to address my anxiety and worry. It entails confessing my fears to God and allowing His truth to calm me. It includes sharing my experiences with a trusted friend.

What does walking by faith look like to you?

Is God Listening?

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer.
1 Peter 3:12a

As my kids have gotten older, I’ve let them venture out on their own while at a local playground. Although I no longer need to be right next to them, following their every move, I pay attention from a distance. I keep track of their whereabouts and I’m within earshot if they need something.

Moms have a special way of knowing which screaming kid is their’s. There could be fifty littles running around but they have distinct, individual voices that their moms recognize. Their cry is unique and moms are so familiar with the sound that we are able to filter through all the others as negative noise.

I Peter 3:12 makes me wonder if God responds to us in a similar way. Millions of voices cry out to Him on a daily basis, yet He knows just which ones belong to Him. Peter is reminding the listeners of Psalm 34:15, which says, The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry. God keeps tabs on His children and responds to our needs.

What comfort it is to know that God is attentive to our prayers. The Greek word used is eis, which means “entered into”. God does more than listen, He enters into our prayers. He engages with us. He wants to hear our worship, our praise, our concerns and requests. All because He cares about us. He leans in and pays attention just as a loving mom attends to her children.

If you’re struggling with believing God hears you, be encouraged today that He does. Allow this truth to seep into your soul: He knows your voice. He welcomes your prayers. He loves you.

When Life Is An Upstream Swim

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.
Colossians 3:23

Living a life of faith is difficult sometimes. I go through periods when I feel like I’m all alone, swimming against a current of resistance. I’m trying to follow God’s direction while most others around me are living by the world’s guidance. And there are days I want to give up and go with the flow. Weary of defending the choices I make for myself and family, I long for the ease of common ground.

It’s during those hard days that I am encouraged by Paul’s perspective in I Corinthians. In a letter to the church in Corinth, he describes his plans:

But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me. (I Corinthians 16:8-9) 

In the same breath, Paul embraces his calling to preach and the resistance he will face. The importance of his assignment is not altered by its difficulty. He will be like a salmon making the treacherous journey upstream, swimming against the current, navigating fish going in the opposite direction

What strikes me most in this passage is how Paul acknowledges there are many who oppose me – those who wish to undermine his work are just as important as those who are open to it. He embraces both the challenge of spreading the gospel and the opposition he will face as a result. Paul understands that God has specifically chosen him for this challenging, tumultuous ministry because of his courageous dedication to effectively sharing his faith. He will not allow discouragement to replace a passion for sharing the Gospel.

All too often, we can be distracted by the opinion of others. They chip away at our confidence and leave us second guessing our convictions. We may feel the need to defend ourselves, but the reality is, there is nothing to defend when we are doing God’s work. Let us remember that if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

If your life feels like an upstream swim, be encouraged by the promises of God: Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10) Let us walk in bold obedience as we live long and prosper. (Deuteronomy 5:33) God has a specific assignment for you just as He did for Paul. So in the words of Dori, just keep swimming.

Let God Have The Ending

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Mark 4:41

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of being a guest blogger for the Godly Chic Diaries. The article, also featuring the story of Jesus and the disciples in the boat found in Mark 4, was entitled Power through Panic with Prayer. You can read it here.


To say I was anxious was an understatement. My mind flooded with what if’s the moment I found out my husband was returning home from an 8 month deployment. What if he’s different? What if I’m different? How will the reunion go? I couldn’t help but imagine countless scenarios but the truth was, I had no idea what to expect.

Do you struggle with anticipating a bad ending to a situation before it happens? Our minds race three steps ahead, assuming a negative outcome that may not be true. Perhaps you mentally process how a conversation will play our and then resort to avoiding it because there’s no way it will go well.

In Mark 4, we find the disciples in a boat with Jesus after a long day of ministering. Verses 37-38 say, A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples panicked.

Overwhelmed by the situation, they wake Jesus in dramatic fashion – “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” This was no gentle jostle of the shoulder while speaking in a calm, low volume as to not startle Jesus awake. Panic screamed from their lungs as they shook Him conscious. They had already determined the outcome and it was certain death. They had done all they could and drowning seemed imminent.

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!”

When we experience difficult circumstances, it may feel like they will never end. We may conclude that God doesn’t care. Like the disciples, we may fail to recognize the power of Who is with us. But no suffering lasts forever. And God does care. He allows us to endure the doom in order to develop a dependence on Him. He proves His power through the process, demonstrating His control over the ending.

Isaiah 43:2 reminds us, When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. So let’s expect God to calm the storms of life’s unexpected events. Let’s put our faith in the One who orchestrates every detail of our day. Because even the biggest of waves obey Him.

Our Hearts: Cramped or Comfy?

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

We’ve all been there – the dreaded middle airplane seat. Wedged between two strangers, it’s impossible to get comfortable. I was there recently and God used the experience as an interesting analogy.

For an individual with a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index of 18-24) the middle seat is not much of an issue. It’s certainly no plush Lazy Boy recliner, but it suffices. But if the middle seat occupant is flanked by a couple larger individuals, it can feel like a sardine tin. Little room is left to move about as our arms are either pinned down to our sides or midline T-Rex levers. We feel cramped and uncomfortable.

Have you ever wondered if God feels the same way about your heart, His home? I Corinthians 6:19 reminds us that our body’s are the temples of the Holy Spirit, the place where He resides. We are a shrine for His presence. Does He dwell there in comfort with plenty of room to move about and be used? Or is it a cramped environment where He competes with things your heart finds more important?

If I were inviting Jesus to my physical home, I would want the floors scrubbed and vacuumed, the couch cushions perfectly placed, and the counters clear. I would want the aroma to be fresh and clean, perhaps a freshly baked batched of cookies on the table. And those things will not happen by themselves, I would need to do the work to make it happen.

The same is true for the condition of our hearts and physical bodies. We should take pride in caring for ourselves in ways that provide God a comfortable, welcoming environment both spiritually and physically. Take a minute and think about what that may look like for you.

For me, it looks like eating nourishing foods and exercising. I struggle with indulging too often and putting off my workouts. The combination leads to lethargy and a lack of motivation to do what God may be asking me to do.

It also looks like feeding my spirit with uplifting music, tv shows, and limiting my time on social media. I can keep my heart home healthy by practicing mindfulness to produce less of the messy and more of the meaningful.

I don’t want God to feel like He’s squished between worldly distractions rivaling my attention. I want Him to feel welcomed and at home in my heart. Putting Him first does just that and reciprocates the commitment He has made to us.

During this busy holiday season, consider God’s place in your heart – wedged between life’s perceived demands or comfortably engaged in cozy conversation with you?

Living With The End In Mind

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Colossians 3:2

I turned 40 last week. Many people have differing opinions about age, but for me, the days leading up to my birthday were hard. Physical ailments drew my attention toward my mortality. Stress levels waxed and waned with the behavior of my children. Am I truly living the life I want to live? Am I being intentional or simply allowing time to pass?

These questions lead me to spend time in self-reflection. In doing so, I recognized that many of the decisions I’ve made evolved around the opinions of others. I’ve allowed fear of rejection to have a subtle but influential part of my life. I’ve preferred to blend in rather than boldly stand out. I’ve been held back by an unwillingness to take risks to reach for the more I’ve longed for.

One thing was for sure – God was using my 40th birthday to get my attention. It was time to re-evaluate who I was living for. Has He ever done the same with you? Perhaps you can relate to facing a fork in the road of your journey. You know it’s time to make a change but it’s a little unnerving to take the leap. I believe it’s worth it.

Colossians 3:17 says, And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. I’m reminded that God’s opinion of me matters most. Not what my peers think about me, how much money I make, or which neighborhood I live it. Those are earthly things that will have no meaning when I meet my Savior face to face.

But when I set my mind on things above – the transforming power of Jesus Christ, His overwhelming forgiveness and grace, and the unconditional love His has for me – I get a glimpse of eternity. I find purpose in His calling for my life. I seek His approval over the acceptance of others.

Now, I’m looking forward to my next 40 years with anticipation. I will embrace the unknown and look for the Lord’s leading amidst trials. I will accept that my aging physical body will begin to breakdown, but my eternal spirit will grow in wisdom. I will set my mind on things above and gain perspective on earthly matters.

It’s never too late to start living with the end in mind. No matter what you’ve gone through, mistakes you’ve made, or the distance you’ve drifted away from God, He has great affections for you. He longs to welcome you in with open arms. He offers us all a way to live in the light of eternity.

I Know He Can, But Will He?

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91:2

Trusting God feels like an impossible feat sometimes. I believe God can do anything, but I get stuck at will He. The Bible is full of convincing evidence of God’s ability to perform miracles, but what about those times when He doesn’t?

I wonder if Sarah felt that way when she learned God would grant Abraham a son. Did she think, “I know God can use me, but will He?” For many years, she was unable to conceive. Doubt prompted her to give her slave, Hagar, to Abraham and she bore him a son.

Perhaps you’ve been praying for a child but it hasn’t happened yet. You know God can perform a miracle in your womb, but will He? Does He need the assistance of IVF technology? Or maybe you’ve been longing for a husband with little prospects on the horizon. You believe God can bring Mr. Right at any moment, but will He? Maybe the date you went on with Mr. Average was better than no date at all?

Sometimes the desires of our hearts are so strong that we can’t believe they aren’t from God. Like Sarah, we step in, take control, and make things happen according to our plans rather than God’s. We walk a fine line between honoring God and playing god.

When we think, but will He?, what we’re really asking is, God, will you do what I’m asking you to do? Will you answer this prayer the way I think is best? But when we start to believe we know better than God, we are no longer trusting in Him.

Psalm 31:14 says, “But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’” The Hebrew word for trust here is batach, which means secure and confident but also careless and complacent. When we trust in the Lord, we are assured that His plan is the best plan. We aren’t negligent in how we live, but rather release the reigns of control, sit back, and watch God meet our needs. Actively trusting God means passively depending on ourselves. We boldly put faith in Him to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (I John 5:14) God will always satisfy His will. In other words, God exists to fulfill His wishes and desires in your life and in the life of others. His will for Abraham was to have a son with Sarah. God’s will for Sarah was to be the mother of nations; for kings to come from her (Genesis 17:16). And that’s exactly what happened. At the ripe old age of 90, Sarah gave birth to a son, Isaac. (Genesis 21:2)

It can be very challenging to trust God is in control when it feels like He isn’t. When I wonder if He will answer my prayers, I take a step back and remind myself that whatever He has planned is better than what I could put together. Whatever happens, I can trust that He is actively accomplishing His perfectly divine will for my life. Do you believe He is doing the same for you?

Ready for Answered Prayers?

Have you ever considered the difference between waiting and anticipating Wait for a pot of water to boil… or anticipate the delicious pasta it will soon be cooking. Wait for a baby to be born… or anticipate her arrival.

Waiting references a need for time to pass; it has little emotional association. Anticipation, on the other hand, refers to expectations, excitement, and hopefulness. It evokes an emotional response and often prompts action. That delicious pasta needs a sauce to go into and that baby girl needs diapers, clothing, and nourishment. Anticipating a certain outcome mentally prepares us to get ready.

Are you waiting for God to answer a specific prayer? Or are you preparing in anticipation of His response? In Luke 2, we meet two people who had spent decades looking forward to the day they would meet the Messiah:

When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took [Jesus] to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord… Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. (Luke 2:22,25-26)

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. (Luke 2:36-37)

Simeon and Anna both met Mary and Joseph in the temple courts because they were lead by the Holy Spirit to do so. The years they spent in prayer heightened their ability to discern God’s voice. Decades of dedication prompted swift obedience.

Can you imagine their excitement? To hear a still small voice whisper, He’s here. It’s time. Go meet the One you’ve been waiting for. The greatest one thing they were hoping for their entire lives was happening. God made good on His promise by answering their prayer. Simeon remarks, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.” (Luke 2:29) Anna “gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38)

Simeon and Anna weren’t surprised by God’s faithfulness and we shouldn’t be either. I John 5:14-15 encourages us to be confident that God hears our prayers and gives us whatever we ask for according to His will. Perhaps God has placed a calling, longing, or vision on your heart – are you waiting for it to fall into place? Or are you eagerly anticipating the fulfillment of His promise? Believe that His timing is always perfect. Find purpose in the preparation. And embrace the expectation of answered prayers.