From Frustration to Prayer

Sometimes I say “Oh Lord” when I hear about the shenanigans friends get into or when I glimpse the exasperating self-checkout where people who apparently have never experienced how to ring up things decide today is a good day to do just that…with their incredibly full cart.

Lately I have been listening to a lot of Lauren Daigle…while I cook, in the shower, working out, cleaning the house. If I could describe my current mood, it would be “Lauren Daigle” because she just seems to be singing what my heart and mind are feeling right now. One particular song has slowly become something I am praying instead deep within, and I find my cries of “O Lord O Lord” have been a welcome comfort instead of exasperation and frustration. It reminds me that He is right there with me, when I often like to lie to myself that He’s not, or He’s left me. He doesn’t. He hears. He meets me in my desperation, my loneliness and says “This will be made right.” It may not be mine to see, or experience, but it’s His.

So now when I cry out “O Lord O Lord” I know He’s already at work, but He’s there in the midst listening. I know my prayers are reflective of a God who is with me, a God who hears, who wants me to cry out to Him instead of in my own frustrations.


Part of Lauren Daigle’s “O’ Lord” is quoted below in how I have been praying it out. Maybe you needed it today or tomorrow. Maybe you needed to recognize your heart and mind have needed to cry out to God in a way that only you and He communicate. Whatever the means, know He’s listening.

Though times it seems
Like I’m coming undone
This walk can often feel lonely
No matter what until this race is won
I will stand my ground where hope can be found
I will stand my ground where hope can be found

Oh, O’Lord O’Lord I know You hear my cry
Your love is lifting me above all the lies
No matter what I face this I know in time
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right

Your strength is found
At the end of my road
Your grace it reaches to the hurting
Still through the tears and the questioning why
I will stand my ground where hope can be found!
I will stand my ground where hope can be found!

Oh, O’Lord O’Lord I know You hear my cry
Your love is lifting me above all the lies
No matter what I face This I know in time
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right

I will stand my ground where hope can be found!
I will stand my ground where hope can be found!

Oh! O’Lord O’Lord I know You hear my cry
Your love is lifting me above all the lies
No matter what I face this I know in time
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right

Perfect Peace

You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.

Isaiah 26:3

I don’t know about anyone else but on this Monday (or whatever day you are reading this) it’s no accident this verse is here. I love this translation version from the CSB because it’s pointing directly to a dependency issue.

When we are depending upon someone or something, we put our trust in it. We know it’s steadfast and true to what it has stated it will do. It comes through on promises. For me, placing my mindset in a dependence upon anything else than God will not bring peace. It’ll bring turmoil, anxiety and a lot of heartache. But when I choose to bring my thoughts back to God, depending upon Him in my thought-life over and over again? Well, there’s a bit of calm. There’s stillness and a quietness that descends.

The noise of depending upon social media, opinions and television just don’t hold my trust like God does. And they shouldn’t. They can’t fulfill promises made, they won’t provide peace. In fact they will often times distort and disrupt peace in order to further our heartache, the lies of the world, and our anxieties to perform for the crowd.

Maybe this Monday holds a lot of worry and chaos. But when we align our minds, pushing into utter dependence upon God alone to give peace in the midst, we find ourselves trusting more and more in the God of fulfilled promises.

Beauty in the Small

Recently I had a large group of photos printed to frame, which led me to combing through hundreds of photos from the last two years. I haven’t done a really great job of getting them printed from adventures during that time. That’s when I stumbled across this photo I took at Biltmore Gardens.

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That beauty nestled inside the beauty of a blossoming flower? Well it made me feel like I’d discovered a little secret God wanted to share with me. And remind me of yet again as I was rummaging for photos to print.

That secret?

Well it’s that He is cultivating work in the smallest places, in the most unassuming and unexpected places. He is growing beauty from within and we might miss it looking at the bigger picture, at the sweeping grandeur blossoming we will let the smaller inner work just bypass us completely.

I know for me I have been so focused and intent on the work I see Him doing in everyone else and forgetting the work He’s been growing and refining in me. There is beauty within the bigger, but there is breathtaking wonder at the inner working going on. I love to see how He works in others but I am so reluctant to take that moment to observe where it is He’s been in what I call the small of my life. Because frankly, I’d rather have the big in my life too. I’d rather select the sweeping beauty of the field rather than the intimate quiet of the one flower above.

But He’s in both. He works in both for our very good. The big sweeping beauty comes from hours of toil, just as the seemingly minute does the same. They both require work, both by His hand and my submission. It’s not a one or the other, but a both and if I’ll just stop focusing on what I deem as unimportant and small in my world. Instead taking a moment to admire the beauty held within that I too easily think isn’t His handiwork.

 

Distracted and Consumed

I am chief among sinners. 

I thought about Paul’s words as my pastor spoke the words “Distracted and Consumed” yesterday. I felt the arrows of conviction hit straight and true as he continued on with his sermon, knowing those three words had struck at the heart of a problem. One that I know many wrestle with, even as a society and culture we are suffering from the very disease of distraction and consummation.

I get the irony of writing about this on a platform (and sharing it on other platforms) because it’s the very thing which is distracting and consuming this heart, this mind, and this time. I like to say “well it’s to keep up with this or to share my writing.” Unfortunately though it’s to the detriment of my heart and my focus.

Maybe it’s not so much social media that distracts you, maybe you don’t get consumed by the words, the actions, and the thoughts of others in such a divisive culture we are living in. Maybe the distraction is binging on the newest release from Netflix or your kids’ ballgames (this one I saw first hand last weekend y’all). It is whatever is consuming your time and distracting you from the very thing which God desires of you.

What is consuming your heart that it’s not allowing Him in? What is distracting you to the point you cannot hear Him? I am the first to admit that I willingly would choose those over time with Him, time digging in to His Word, time spent in silence with Him, waiting on Him. I would rather be consumed with distractions than allow Him space in my life…that’s what I am telling Him when I “scroll for just a few minutes.” Or when I say “just one more episode” or let someone else take up residency in my heart.

When I am distracted and consumed, I am more prone to worry, anxiety, doubt, fear, and control. I find that peace and stillness are commodities in short supply. The quiet filling of connection is negated with an empty longing to be known when we are consumed by anything other than the God who desires to know us more.

Maybe it’s time to stop the fighting for our attention and our hearts by simply giving them solely to Him. Not a screen, not the success or failure of our child’s pee wee league team, and not some fictional characters we enjoy.

 

The Adulterous Single

I thought a commandment didn’t apply to me.

Yep, one of the TEN COMMANDMENTS.

It’s the one about adultery. Because I’m a single, I definitely felt like that just didn’t apply to me. I’m good on that one God, because obviously, doesn’t apply! That was my exact thoughts. Mark it off, I’m good.

But here’s the thing on this. I don’t have to be married to commit adultery. Obviously the very literal line of thinking leads to sexual immorality, whether it’s pre-marital or any of the other related immoral acts related to sexual relations. The one that hit me though was that I have a propensity to an adulterous heart. A heart that puts so much above my covenant relationship with God. A heart that will easily lean into work, people, stuff with more love and focus, giving itself away above my first love, that love with God.

Ouch.

Adultery does apply to me as a single individual. It applies to all of us, regardless of our marital status. It is a heart issue, it’s a covenantal issue. One that starts with God and my heart, not at the altar with another individual.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)

Never has that verse become more vivid, breathing and real than looking at it in the context of my adulterous ways in relationship with God. Everything I do flows from my heart. Every action, thought, word…every bit of it, and if my heart isn’t committed and pursuing the love of God in all things? Well that’s where the convenient opportunity of adultery slips in. When I am not guarding that fickle heart, being on consistent watch of it’s consumption and output, then it’ll easily wonder to other, lesser loves. It’ll pursue side pieces that catch it’s eye rather than God Himself, the One Who has proven faithful and good, over and over again.

As much as I’d like to believe I have that adultery thing on lock-down as a single gal, the truth of the matter is that I am far from it, and it does apply to us all. My adulterous heart should be the guarded heart, giving life to the relationship with God and not to the other pursuits that so easily ensnare and entice me from my first love.

Fighting the Storm

Sunset from window

Sometimes a picture can communicate more of what you want to say than words.

It felt like the darkness, the clouds were trying to swallow up the sun as a late afternoon storm rolled in on Monday. The sun kept fighting back the clouds and the storm and I could see it’s fight through a window at the gym.

The sight got at my heart because that’s where I’ve been recently. Unsure of the clouds creeping in and the storm that seems to be forming. I had been wrestling for a couple of weeks on a good thing, a decision that was good and confirming where my heart was leading but that ultimately was not the best thing. Over the weekend I was affirmed in what I felt was where God was leading. Once I voiced it to one person, just one person, I could feel this darkness creep in and a storm brewing. I could feel myself bristle up for a fight because I was choosing the best God has intended and not this very good thing that isn’t for me.

To see that play out visually just hours after I’d started to get that notion was just for me. But maybe it’s for you too. Maybe God needed you to hear, to see, to read that the thing you decided on and now feel the darkness creeping in is what He wants for you. He wants that very best thing, and not the really good thing you said “no” to right now. He wants that obedience in what He has long been calling you towards, reminding you of. The darkness doesn’t want that, Satan doesn’t want you going hard after obedience because it scares him when you are in God’s will, in relationship and fellowship with Him pursuing after what He’d have for you.

May this bring you hope, affirmation, confidence in the fight ahead. The sun always fights back against the encroaching storm. The Son already fought it off so that you could be in Him in all things. When the storm comes. When the clouds creep in. When the devil would have you doubt and fear the very best God has for you.

Solomon, Temples and The Body

And David the king said to all the assembly, “Solomon my son, whom alone God has chosen, is young and inexperienced, and the work is great, for the palace will not be for man but for the Lord God. 1 Chronicles 29:1 (ESV)

Y’all I am quoting from First Chronicles, what? It’s an actual book in the Bible in case you were thinking otherwise. It’s back before Psalms and Proverbs, but after Genesis. It chronicles (heh) the Davidic kingdom moving forward from David to Solomon. The transition of the kingdom (and an uprising from an angered son not taking the throne) is laid out as well as David’s heart for building the temple of God.

God gave direction to David that he would not build the temple but that his son, Solomon would. And so here is where we pick up in the story. David is giving instruction to his son, whom is young and inexperienced but that God has chosen to complete. If we blink, we miss it, but the work is great. It’s not that it would be a large scale task, because obviously it would be.

The emphasis here is that the work is great because it’s for God, not for man. It is the most worthy of consideration in what is done. It was for God Himself that the work would be done. The temple was constructed to be where God’s Presence could be with the people of Israel, where the designated priest would go in for the people to give sacrifices and offerings to God, to cleanse the people and give praise on their behalf. The construction of the temple and all the intricacies of it are detailed throughout Scripture.

If I am honest with y’all, I often flip through those pages whether it’s from a devotion or a reading through the Bible plan. But something has switched in my mind and heart on this. Because it’s Scripture…God-breathed….intentional for inclusion in God’s instruction and word to us. So I see the work of the build was arduous, hard and sacrificing work. But the people were willing to give because they were loyal to serving God.

When I read about the temple, I cannot help but look to the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Our bodies are now the temple. We are the ones now carrying within us the very presence of God in the Holy Spirit with us into everything. But that also means we are the ones called just as David did there in 1 Chronicles to do the hard work of crafting the temple. The very dwelling place of God in Spirit is within us for us to bring our praise, our confession and our sacrifices to and through. He prompts us to go before Christ as our Intercessor, our High Priest. It is hard work, building upon the Cornerstone of foundation that is laid in Christ, seeking to give the most valued things of our lives over to Him in order for Him to be praised and glorified within us.

Just like the “young and inexperienced” Solomon who was alone called to the work of building the physical temple, we are called to the work of the temple of our bodies, of consecrating and sacrificing in order to bring God praise, glory and honor. Just like Solomon, am I aware of my need for divine direction and my own limitations in the work? Do we see our need for others to come along with us to assist us in the building up of our temples, our own selves, in order to be the embodiment of who God would have us be, living temples for Him?