When Trusting God Doesn’t Come Easily

Prov 3

I have a love hate relationship with Proverbs 3:5-6.

God’s Word, I adore, but I’m not great at trusting.

Oh how I want to live out its beautiful simplicity. How I’ve pined for God to direct my path all these years. But lately, I just can’t help feeling mocked by this verse.

Telling me to lean not on my own understanding is a little like telling a height phobic to climb his first ropes course.

I didn’t realize it at the time. I was too busy laughing, but I witnessed this very thing when my 5-year old cajoled his dad onto a ropes course.

ropes2

ropes

Sammy

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My little guy couldn’t go up alone, and I didn’t bring closed-toed shoes, so my husband took the bait.

Mike comes from a long line of a feet-on-the-ground kind of people, and I’ll never forget the look of nervous panic on his face the first time our son asked him to ride a toddler roller coaster.

I saw the same look on his face as he stared at the five-story ropes course. But up he climbed and never looked back. He maneuvered the course, careful to avoid the many zip lines.

Not my son though. Once he was comfortable with the harness, he knew it was okay if he slipped. He understood he wouldn’t fall beyond the harness’ grip.

My son moved so fast the workers made him stop and wait for Mike to catch up. I lost count of all the times he zipped along, feet dangling in the air.

The ropes course has two exits. Take a bungee-type leap from the top or walk the ropes down. My son took the plunge. His dad took the long way.

I can’t help wonder how many times I’ve taken the long way because I couldn’t trust that God’s grip was strong enough to keep me from falling.

How many times have I missed the fun of zip lining through life because I couldn’t silence the nagging doubt in my mind?

I know I’m not alone. We’re safety obsessed people in service of a dangerous God.

Still, I watch God wooing me up my own ropes course of faith. My feet long for the ground and my hands ache from holding onto the cord that’s holding me.

Lately, I’ve failed at living Prov. 3:5-6 because I’ve made it all about me. I’ve put all the balls in my court.

It’s like I have an app gauging how well my heart is trusting, and I keep checking it all day instead of checking in with the trustworthy One.

One thing about trust I’m sure of, it doesn’t come by looking inward. Trust happens as we gaze upward.

zip

How to Turn Your Complaints into Expectations

suffering portrait

I don’t have enough time to write. My husband doesn’t help out enough around the house.

Write? Ha! I can’t even spend two seconds thinking without my children interrupting.

My complaints simmer on the back burner of my mind, a ready meal of pity when needed.

I bet you have your own list.

Complaints snuff out gratitude, but they pose a greater threat when we use complaints as excuses to fully live.

Our grumbling can extinguish our passion and prevent us from living our callings.

How we think affects our lives in every way. We all know it and probably own self-help books touting this truth. So why not try a proactive experiment with me?

Let’s change our complaints into expectations.

Take this for example. Instead of saying I don’t have the time to hone that gift or to chase that dream. Why don’t we say I might not have all the time I would like, but I do have some time.

Not only does this focus our attention on what we have instead of what we don’t have, an important key to life, but it opens an avenue of possibility that can grow into a wild highway of expectation.

And boy were we made for expectation. Just think about the way children hope. Only us grown folks learn pessimism as a way of life, living a cycle of ever-waning passion.

If you want to live a more positive life and defeat the barrage of lies, I dare you to try this with me.

expectations art

Rewrite the script of your top two biggest complaints into expectations for a better life. Then share one or both in the comments below.

Let me go first. I’m so busy serving everyone else in my life that I don’t have any time for myself, let alone time to write.

It embarrasses me to type these words. I wouldn’t dare let anyone hear me say this. So why would I put this tract on repeat in my mind?

The rewrite: I owe it to my children and my husband to spend time relaxing and resting, so I can be a better spouse and mom. And by spending time developing my gift, I’m setting an example for my children and leaving a legacy that will outlive me.

Now it’s your turn. What sort of expectation can you write into your life if you could rescript your monologue of complaints?

Love Letters to Jesus

book review

I devour everything my friend and poet Julia Putzke writes, so I’m excited to tell you about her new book.

He Bled, My End, is Julia’s first collection of poems, and the short book may change the way you see the Savior. It did for me.

In her poems, Julia paints Jesus in rich, bold hues. Like a master with a brush, she blends ordinary themes of God’s grace and love into new dimensions as we read her love letters to Jesus.

Julia’s sincerity and childlike faith shines on the pages of this book. And she doesn’t hold anything back.

Her naked writing covers topics like sexual immorality and conformity, and shows how God can make our ugly lives beautiful when we come to Him.

Julia would never admit it, but she has much to teach us about being in a relationship with God. Hers is not a dutiful one, but a raw and real relationship with Jesus.

If you haven’t already, you need to check out the beautiful poetry pouring out over at CrippledAtYourTable.wordpress.com.

You can buy He Bled, My End here.

How to Fight for Joy in the Middle of Suffering

By Dennis Tai via Creative Commons

By Dennis Tai via Creative Commons

Suffering is the stone we so often stumble over in this walk of faith.

Even atheists might believe if life really did work out the way the diamond-clad, TV preachers say.

When trials hover like fog, we all wonder and question, and we’re all searching for God in the haze. The blind days teach us how to lean into God, but it’s our own understanding we so often cling to.

I watch a lanky sophomore wrestle with the age-old question of why God allows suffering. A car accident shattered his world before an injury sidelined him for the season.

He stares at the floor in our youth room. His hands awkwardly rest on his knees.

“God has numbered each person’s days,” I tell him, knowing full well he needs more than theological answers.

I know his real question. It’s the same one I ask when dark days mount, “Does God see me and does He care?”

Then there’s a dear friend, barely to her third decade, when her husband breaths his last. She faces the hardship alongside her two chubby-cheeked boys and a baby on the way.

Some days our hurting hearts call out to the most wounded of all, and the only Scripture we feel like reading is Job’s story.

By Vanessa via Creative Commons

By Vanessa via Creative Commons

I see Kara Trippett’s cancer ripped body lean over a boy in front of a makeshift birthday cake, just a doughnut with sprinkles and candles. His arms reach around Kara’s neck as he beams a cheesy smile into the camera. See the photo here.

Tears erupt blurring my vision as I stare at Kara’s sick frame. When she plants that kiss on his neck does she know it’s the last birthday kiss she will give him? Maybe I’m crying for the boy, or for the God who set joy ablaze in Kara’s eyes, despite the pain.

God hasn’t left for a coffee break when we suffer. The Bible reveals a God who both sees and cares. He is the One who initiates positive from the worst situations.

God did this for the slave girl, Hagar, and her stunning revelation answers our question, “Does God see me in this mess?”

The first time Hagar nearly dies in the desert, she’s pregnant and on the run. The Angel of the Lord shocks her and changes not only the way she views God, but how she sees herself.

“Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13 NLT).

We collide with Hagar again in Scripture after she’s booted out of her home back to the desert. She has teenage Ishmael in tow while she calculates how long it takes to thirst to death.

Is one epiphany ever enough? Like us, Hagar needed a reminder of the truth that God sees her. So, the Angel of the Lord appears again, opening her eyes so she can see a well.

Friend God sees you too just as He saw Hagar.

If you’re desert-weary and have sand in your shoes and the red ache of sunburn to prove it, listen up.

God wants to open your eyes. He has a well to show you, a well of His amazing joy right where you sit. This well runs deep and can only be found in a relationship with Jesus.

Romans 5:3 tells us to that we can rejoice in our suffering because of Jesus, because we have peace with Him through faith.

“And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:5 NLT).

This heartache and burden is only temporary, but the love of God lasts forever.

May you find the voice to rejoice today.

Blessings,

Trisha

 

The Gift of Change

birdsunset

If there’s one great object lesson in life, it’s that the world keeps spinning. Like a blackjack dealer shuffles cards, an unseen hand turns season after season at ever-increasing speed.

We notice it in the mirror when we see gray hair sprouting or wrinkles nesting on our faces.

Life whirls on, always changing, and we dig our fingernails in to hang on.

Like a flashing neon sign hanging in the sky, another message is clear. We are propelled forward through time, never in reverse.

We are not meant to move backward.

Like death, we emerge from sleep each day—a literal new beginning. If that doesn’t spell redemption, I don’t know what does.

Change unlocks us from our pasts and frees us to live in the present. Still we cling to our yesterdays, savoring the good times, anxious of the future. 

Whether we’re fleeing unhappy days or begging to slow the clock, we must see change as a gift God gives. Newness of life unfolds each day. Sure it’s scary and unknown, but think of the possibilities.

I suppose this view is colored by my hope in Christ. That all of time’s sprinting away is really a sprinting towards something, or Someone.

This Someone whispers His love to us. Some ignore Him, seeing only the curtain of religion that’s wrought pain and  sought control through history.

But He longs to meet with us. Don’t settle for what others say about Him. Take a peek behind religion and find out what this relationship is all about.

I imagine an atomic clock ticking away second after second of our brief existences. Who on earth knows when that clock will stop except the One who rules time itself and has numbered our days? 

If we have nothing else, we have change and the hope it brings.