Faith

A to Z: S is for Overcoming the Challenges of Single Life

S is for Single

Overcoming the challenges of Single life

When I was 28, I could recall a number of vividly painful moments when the world around me seemed to flaunt the relationships and opportunities I yearned for yet had not experienced. I would like to suggest a valuable piece of advice for those of you with single friends.There are certain times you should avoid telling a single woman she should enjoy her freedom and take advantage of all the amazing opportunities she has been given because she is single. Avoid these obvious nuggets of wisdom on valentine’s day, weddings of siblings or close friends, major holidays, or when 90% of her friends have just left for a special “couples only” retreat. If you are brave enough to do so, be sure to protect your face while bracing for the dreaded “Hairy eyeball” because it is coming!


Myth: I am Lonely because something is missing from my life.


For years, I dutifully attempted to exploit the benefits of “single awareness day.” Honestly, I did enjoy my freedom but many days loneliness and uncertainty pushed my faith to the edge. An entry from my journal describes the emotional battle I engaged in so frequently as a single woman.


8/27/00
“Life is so very interesting & complicated. Each day becomes a painful mirror into the imperfections and weakness of body and spirit…. sometimes I struggle so violently to cross over from knowledge to experience.” 


Crossing over

If you are single, how do you cross over? How do you transform your desires and emotions  so that they line up with what you profess to believe? As I walked through life, seeking God’s peace and direction, I discovered a truth that empowered me to cross from knowledge to experience. The key was found in my understanding of God’s name and nature.


The more time I spent in His word and in His presence, the more clearly I began to understanding that my single status did not interfere with His love for me or His desires for my life. Being single didn’t mean I was waiting for God’s best. God’s ultimate plan for my fulfillment and happiness wasn’t a gift that would be handed to me on my wedding day. Every new day of life I was given, whether single or married, would be filled with all the goodness and love God could give me. His offering of grace, mercy, peace, and love was the same to every one of His children. Our Heavenly Father does not withhold love.My marital status didn’t need to change in order to obtain purpose, peace, and happiness but my perspective did.


The Truth of the Matter

If it is impossible for God to lie, then I can cling to any promise of truth I find about himself in scripture. This brings me to how I overcame the feeling that I was missing something I needed in order to be content and happy because I was single.


Psalm 84:11-12was the key.


The Lord God is a sun and a shield

The Lord will give grace and glory

No Good thing will he withhold to them that walk uprightly.

O Lord of Host, Blessed is the man that trusteth thee.

Are you ready to have your faith supercharged? These verses will do just that, because they present an intimate glimpse into an amazing attribute of your Father’s nature. These revelations provide a foundation you can anchor your desires and dreams upon.  Verse 11b is an integral key to the kind of faith able to sustain and empower you as you accept the Lord plan for your life.


Verse 11 states that each morning the Lord is present and ready with “every good thing” you needed in order to get through the day. Christ faithfully prepares and will pour out upon you, to overflowing, all the strength, encouragement, wisdom, and blessings you need. Anything truly necessary to navigate through the trials & temptations, joys & sorrow, excess & need today is at your disposal. Your loving Father is there with it all, so that tonight you can testify to the world and for the Glory of God,


My Father has withheld nothing!”


As a single woman, some of the emptiness I struggled with was the result of an attempt to peer into the future to see if God’s will lined up with my desires. By doing so, during momentary periods of discontent, I trampled over hills and valleys paved with His Grace, Glory, and Blessings.


As I struggle to be content with my life (yes it is still a struggle today), the Lord still uses these verses to rebuke me with the truth, my emptiness is the result of a self-imposed, narrow sighted, earth-bound vision and a failure to look at life with spiritual eyes.


My prayer has become, “Today Lord,  give me eyes to see, that I might not miss even the smallest blessing that you, in love and Mercy, have prepared for me.” These verses spoke to me as a single woman and they still minister to me today. This promise sustains me as a mother of three when my days consists of mounds of laundry, disappointments, and mundane trials of life.


We should never hesitate to enter into the presence of  the God who formed and knew us intimately before we uttered our first cry. As we place our will at his feet in humble submission, may we never lose sight of the fact he has all ready given His best, His most precious and beloved Son. He will withhold nothing of lesser value.


When you have unburdened your heart and submitted your will to His, do not forget to gather up your basket with faith unmovable, and eyes set to the heavens. Purpose to recognize, accept, and receive  “every good and perfect gift” prepared for your life by the Creator of the Universe. You may be missing a ring, an invitation to a couples party, evenings with company, but you are not missing the key to happiness, peace, and fulfillment.


How full will your basket be tonight when you lay your head upon your pillow? Did you see, accept, and use all he prepared for you today?


What are some other myths about single life you struggled with? What advice can you offer to women enduring the challenges of single life?


What truth about God encourages you heart, chasing the shadows of unbelief away?

A to Z: Overcoming through Prayer

Prayer

Communication with God

through written or spoken words, thoughts, meditation, or song.

A reverent petition

 The Power of Prayer

 There is something raw and exposing about prayer. Weather out of joy, longing, or sorrow, prayer is a purposeful and  submissive bending of body, soul, mind and spirit. It is the acknowledgement “I am not all there is, nor am I all I need to be.” There is One greater, mightier, more Holy, Wise, Loving, and Powerful!

As a youngster I struggled with prayer. If God was in control, and if God had a plan, why did I need to pray? He knew my heart, and could see what I was going through.  I wasn’t going to change His mind so why pray?

In a way I was right, my prayers would never alter God’s ultimate will and plan for my life, BUT there was something prayer would and could alter, ME!

Over the past few years, the Lord has mercifully led me through some lengthy periods of stretching, purging, refining, and growth. These private, humbling, and sometimes painful trials have opened my eyes to the transforming purpose and power of prayer. You see, prayer does not bend the Lord’s will to mine, it softens my heart to His.

What Prayer isn’t…..

Prayers that begin as tattle-tale list of offences, hurts, and need accomplish little when I came determined to “Get what I thought I needed.”  There is no room for the stubborn in prayer! I have experienced moments of stubborn prayer. Times I rudely and proudly presented myself before the throne with an agenda. I would come determined to tell Christ the way things were, determined not to walk away till I was satisfied. Usually I walked away frustrated and an even more distant relationship with Him. These prayers never accomplish anything!

Proper, Powerful, Purposeful Prayer

Praise the Lord for His mercy and patience,  He never turned His back from me. I am grateful for the times he ushered me through sweet, intimate moments of brokenness and fellowship with Him. Special seasons of life when my heart, soul, spirit, and body yielded in great heaving sobs, bending malleable and submissive to the gentle, purposeful hands of the Loving Father.  In these times of prayer, heaven and earth parted to unite a broken, needy, and seeking child into the presence of her Abba, Pappa, Father.

When I have fallen on my face before Him, not demanding answers, but pleading for grace, strength, understanding, and the desire to obey His will, He has gloriously spoken. He has granted ears to hear, eyes  to see, and a mind able to comprehend the love, grace, power, and glory He has bestowed upon me.

Prayer that overcomes doesn’t make hardship disappear, rather it moves man out of the way, overcoming him. The Prayer of faith might be able to mover mountains, but far greater is it’s ability to conform the once broken, wayward, rebellious, deceived, sin blinded heart of a man so that he can cry with passion,

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”

“To live is to die and to die is to gain”

“I will decrease that He might increase!”

“Not my will oh Father, but  Thine.”

“To you alone of God may there be ALL Glory and Honor, Praise and glory”

“It will be worth it all, the day I see my Jesus!”

Psalm 66:20

Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayeror removed his steadfast love from me!

Psalm 69:13
But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.

Psalm 141:2
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

Proverbs 15:29
The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayerof the righteous.

Romans 12:12
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant inprayer.

Philippians 4:6
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything byprayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

James 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

A to Z: Overcoming Noise

Noise

A sound, esp. one that is loud or unpleasant or that causes disturbance:

I do not like noise. My ears are sensitive to misplaced, unnecessary, intruding sounds that rudely interrupt and distract from what I’m trying to concentrate upon. As much as I detest audible noise, this is not the enemy I speak of. I am referring to the silent noises of life.

Noise doesn’t have to be audible. It can come in small voiceless accusations. It is failure ripping relentlessly upon raw hearts and vulnerable emotions. It is silent reproach “You have messed up again,” “you are a horrible mother, wife, friend,” “You call yourself a Christian, you are not better than they are.”

Noise can be a look, a cold shoulder, or indifference. It is a fractured relationship that drowns spirits. Noise strains emotions like a great storm rolling across a plain, devouring everything within the reach of its icy fingers.

Noise can arrive without invitation. It steals wordlessly into living rooms, bedrooms, and even Church auditoriums. It lashes out with silent tongues of discontent, strife, anger, greed, and jealousy. Noise invades relationships, making what was once natural, effortless, and cherished morph into something awkward, unbearable, and tormenting.

Noise is the silent anguish of a grieving mother who has buried her child. It is the suffocating feeling of failure that burns deep inside the soul of the husband who has lost his job and has no idea how he will care for his family. Noise is the guilt of a teen who has given into pressure and had their innocence stolen. Noise is condemnation, heartbreak, anger, hopelessness. Noise is absence of peace.

In a world filled with so much mind numbing and heart deafening noise, how do we find the strength, grace and power to overcome?

Overcoming Noise!

Athletes provide a great example of how to overcome noise. They stand on the free throw line, the game riding upon their shoulders. Every spectator is on their feet screaming, yelling, chanting, praying, taunting, begging. The noise is mind numbing, yet that athlete can silence every voice, becoming deaf and blind to the presence of every human in the arena. It is just him and the net. There is silence in his heart and mind.

SWOOSH, VICTORY, TRIUMPH!

FOCUS!

The only way I overcome the mind deafening, crushing noise of life is through focusing on that which truly matters and the only thing that gives purpose and makes sense of life. Eternity, Forever, Hope, Healing, Heaven, my Lord and Savior. He is present through all the noise. His will is just, loving, and with purpose. Heaven and Earth will pass away, the noise will stop, and He will be there. My life is fleeting, my trials passing. All that matters is the only thing that will last. I will endure and can endure because I know the “Ending.” It is glorious, powerful, and satisfying. Eternity makes the here and now bearable, endurable, even acceptable. The only way I can overcome the noise it to

Look to the Master and Creator.

1I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The Lord s your keeper;
the
Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7The Lord willkeep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8The Lord will keep
your
going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Practical Advice:

  1. Preach to yourself don’t listen to yourself

    When that accusing voice starts whispering lies & accusations, interrupt that voice with a good ol sermon of your own. Counter each lie, accusation and hurt with truth.

  2. Claim a “mantra”

    Not an in the mystic sense of the word, but a phrase or verse of truth that specifically counters the noise. When I was single and struggle with lies like : I was missing out, forgotten, cheated… Psalm 84:11-12 was the mantra I clung to. When I felt overwhelmed by a trial, it was the Psalm “You caused men to ride over our heads, we went through fire and water but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place. ” I set my gaze ahead, and as I broke, fell, cried, and rose up to keep press on, I was a looking for that promised wealthy place.

  3. Meditate on truth

    It doesn’t work to try to just out noise the noise. You have to know, believe, and purpose to let truth and peace reign instead of the noise, lies…. I didn’t just recite Pslam 84, I meditated on it and I told myself why I wasn’t missing out, cheated, left behind.

  4. Accountability!

    If you struggle in an area find a trusted friend who will challenge you, encourage you, and kick you in the butt when you need it. (Do not ask a person struggling with the same thing)

    How do you overcome Noise?

A to Z: Overcoming Through Forever


Forever

1. For everlasting time; eternally
2. At all times; incessantly
Long before this challenge began, I knew what “F” would be. I am reading a book that is amazing, challenging, life changing….. It’s title is, yes you guessed it, Forever. Were I to attempt to summarize my thoughts on this book so far, my blogging challenge would come to an abrupt end due to the fact I wouldn’t be able to get past this word. Paul Tripp summarizes ‘the importance and power found in his book,  Forever: Why you can’t live without it, far better than I could so below I will just include his intro and links to his site where he has an introductory video on the power and importance of forever. My prayer is that you will experience the purpose and power “Forever” grants us to Overcome.
You May Be Suffering from Eternity Amnesia … The Bible assures us that God has placed eternity in our hearts. It tells us we are created for pleasure, wired for joy—all with God at the center. But in a world that is broken and suffering, it’s easy to forget this, living instead with a pack-it-all-in mentality, loading up the here and now with expectations that will only be fulfilled in eternity. Fortunately we don’t have to live frustrating, disappointing lives. Instead, we can take heart, realizing that life doesn’t feel right because it isn’t right. It’s not meant to be—not yet anyway. Paul Tripp points out that having an eternity perspective will enable us to live for something bigger than ourselves and larger than this moment. No longer trapped in the shrunken kingdom of “right here, right now,” we will be able to lead lives of greater significance and peace.Through stories, examples, and biblical teaching, Tripp rehabilitates the notion of an afterlife, not as some vague, ethereal place in which we will someday reside, but as a living, robust reality that Scripture promises.

 

“I have said these things to you,
that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart;
I have overcome the world.” John 16:33(ESV)

Lottery Tickets and Life Lessons

How A lottery Ticket changed My Life! …………

Actually, it was the absence of a lottery ticket that changed my life…………….

I was standing in line at a local store, with my head in the clouds when the cashier abruptly asked “So are you buying a ticket?” It took a few seconds for his question to register, but the moment it did, a host of memories flooded my brain. The clerk was referring to the $600,000,000+ mega millions jackpot to be drawn Friday, but I was thinking back to one of the most vivid memory I have of my childhood.

I was out alone with my dad, and without explanation he looked down at me and exclaimed, “Jody, I want you to promise me that you will never buy a lottery ticket.” Lottery tickets ment nothing to me, so without hesitation, I made a promise that I believe altered the course of my life. Years later, I asked my dad what compelled him to ask me to make that promise and to this day, not only can he not tell me why, but he also can’t remember the incident.

When I made that promise, I barely understood what a lottery ticket was, and I most assuredly never felt the urge to buy one. With all my heart, I believe that day my heavenly Father stirred the heart of my earthly father to make that request, in order to protect me from a weakness neither of us knew I would have years down the road. Every time I pass an instant lottery machine, I think of that day. Every time I see a lottery grow and a frenzy erupt, I remember the promise I made to my dad and I praise the Lord for the gift of a parents spiritually prompted intuition. Now, thirty-seven years later, I have kept my promise and passed the story along to my kids. I have not asked them to make the same promise to me, I have never felt the Spirit leading me to do so but we have had many discussions about the foolishness of gambling and how destructive it can be. When we exit our local Drug Mart, often I will hear one of my kids exclaim to the others, “never put your money in that machine, it’s just like throwing it in the trash.” I feel no embarrassment, and I have never told them to be quiet because I know the lesson of the lottery machine trash can will be engraved into their heads, and that they will remember mommy’s story when they are tempted to part with their own hard-earned cash.

As parents, we can’t guarantee sin free, addiction free kids, by insisting they make a string of promises and vows to us, guaranteeing upright moral living, but we can vigilantly seek wisdom and direction from the Lord for each precious life he has given us. Parenting isn’t a mechanized process. My father never asked my sister or brother to make the same vow he did of me. My father never asked me to make promises to flee other sins I did struggle with as a teen and young adult. I do not know what compelled him to ask what he did, but my prayer is that the Lord would give me the same wisdom and insight for my kids. My time of teaching and instructing, protecting and building is quickly passing. Their eternity is in His hands, but He has seen fit to make me an instrument to be used to shape and mold them in preparation for the future that He has ordained for them from the beginning of time.

I pray the Lord continues to patiently mold and transform me into His likeness so that my kids see Him in me. As Gary Thomas so eloquently and wisely wrote, the purpose of my life, marriage, and family is to make me holy, not happy. My husband and I are responsible, not simply to make our kids happy, succesful, and without need, but to help maintain a sensitive heart that is willing to submit to the transforming power and authority of the Holy Spirit so He can make them holy, through God’s grace and mercy.

Will you join me and cry out to the Lord of Wisdom for wisdom? Will you choose daily to die to yourself in order to serve, teach, and train your children. May our hearts and minds be ever filled with the whispering of the Spirit. May the silence of His voice be deafening, quickly bringing our hearts and focus back to Him and the purpose and callings he has given to us through our children.

But how do you know?

 

It was a simple post, typed in response to a verse she had stumbled upon. It was just 5 words long yet it seemed to utter a yearning and torment that troubled my heart immensely.

The verse was Psalm 9:10

And those who know your name

put their trust in you,

for you, O Lord,

have not forsaken those who seek you.

Her simple plea was this: “How do I know him?” If you met her on the street, what would you tell her ?

Her question wasn’t unusual or off the wall. My Wednesday evening class of 4th-6thgraders asked the same thing the evening I challenged them to “Know Him.” When our life is in a flux it is natural for the desperate and yearning heart to raise its broken body and weary head to the heavens in response to the voice that says “Know me” to cry out “but how?”

The week following my challenge to “know Him”, I purchased a dessert that looked something like this. I carried it into class and placed it in the center of a table surrounded by drooling 4th, 5th, & 6thgraders. None of them had ever seen anything like it, and it took a few threats and promises to stop a free-for-all from breaking out in the middle of the table. I asked the class to take turns answering a simple question, “What does this taste like?”

Not one of them replied “I don’t know, I have never eaten one.” Instead, I was bombarded by a barrage of very descriptive and comical suggestions. After everyone had been given a chance to voice their opinion I asked them what they thought of the dessert if I told them the red thing in the middle was a dog’s ball dipped in lacquer? “What if, the black fingers were shoe strings dipped in tar, the yello leaf was a painted bug wing, the red stuff congealed blood, and the inside actually mud mixed with an entire box of laxatives?” There was a momentary lull of silence and then chaos erupted. Some exclaimed they would still gobble the dessert down but most made grotesque faces and sounds demonstrating just how disgusted they were by my suggestion.

Sadly the faith, knowledge, and experience many “Christians” confess mirror the faith, knowledge and experience my class possessed of the dessert I had placed before them. Opinions and hopes, some right and others wrong, but no substantial experience to back up their desire laden opinions. I told my class they would never “know” how the dessert tasted or what it’s various parts were made of until they actually tasted it. It might taste just as they had described or quite possibly even better than they could have imagined. Then again it could have been all tar, mud, and yuckiness.

 Psalm 34:8

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

Christianity is not a spectator sport.

The die hard fan on the sideline, with body painted the colors of their favorite team, who brave six degree temps wearing nothing but a barrel and gaudy mask, will never receive a championship ring. Only the athletes who have made the sacrafices, and devoted their life and passion to the game have a chance to win the prize.

 To truly “Know” Christ, you have to savor him, taste Him, and experience first hand that He is who he has proclaimed himself to be. If I could find that women who asked “How do I know him?” the first thing I would tell her is you know him” by experiencing Him and witnessing firsthand the liberating Truth of His word in your life. And here is how……….

To be continued Friday..

**Please stop by the “Overcoming Lies” page and enter my current giveaway. The guidelines for the drawing and the goodies being offered are at the end of the post.***


Let nothing be lost!

 

John 6:8 “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”

 

This verse intrigues me. The setting presents Jesus surrounded by a throng of people, most are not true believers, but those seeking entertainment in the form of miracles, and perhaps some even looking for a handout of their own. This crowd came needy and left needy. An opportunity of a lifetime stood in front of them yet their physical needs and selfish desires blinded them to this moment. They wanted miracles and they received one, but their response clearly showed their shallow thinking and spiritual blindness.

 

The Son of God stood in their midst, but instead of asking for eternity, they vainly grappled to secure a king to rid them of the tyranny of Rome, a momentary and temporal predicament. It would be akin to a billionaire offering a blank check only to have the recipient spend it on a pack of gum. So very needy yet so very blind to their true needs and the power and ability of the one who stood before them.

 

So Jesus performs a miracle, a shadow of what He had come to do, he fed their bodies. With bread and fish he met their basic physical need, but He yearned to give them water so that they would never thirst again. They wanted freedom from occupiers who threateded to take their physical bodies and earthly lives, while he offered salvation from that which would take their eternal souls and spirit.

 

Jesus knew their hearts and he knew within moments of feeding the crowd sadly he would be forced to flee from their midst. He had come, not to reign on a mortal throne of man, in a mortal and fading kingdom, but to reign over all the universe in heaven above and in the earth below for all of eternity. Before they made their attempt to crown an earthly king, he made a decree in their midst, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”

 

Why did he command his disciples to do this? Twelve basket were collected, one for each disciple perhaps? Or was there a deeper meaning?

 

Jesus Christ had performed a great miracle and its meaning and purpose had fallen on deaf ears, blind eyes, and dead hearts. “That nothing may be lost.” Did he want to keep the leftovers of his blessing and purpose ladden miracle from being discarded like worthless trash and trampled under their unworthy feet when they departed after realizing they were to receive nothing more from His hand?

 

We may never know what if any meaning laid hidden in these words, yet a lesson can be taken from it. How often do we come to Christ with a need but also a predetermined solution in mind, our spiritual hearts have been darkened by selfish needs and proud hearts? How often do we come to him with a request, yet blind to the true needs our trial has exposed. He stands able and ready to provide an answer propelling us into the midst of His eternal and glorious purpose yet all we seek are bread crumbs.

 

All trials, needs, blessings, and opportunities are for a purpose far greater and more glorious than ourselves. Our neediness is the doorway to God’s glory and power revealed. The means with which He reveals our true nature, condition, and need is also the means with which He accomplishes the purpose of our existence, the revelation and proclimation of His power and His glory.

 

He pursued you when you were dying, desperate and needy. In your sin, brokenness and need, His Glorious love, grace, righteousness, and power broke forth. In Him you found a Savior, an Advocate, a Brother, a new life. Would you now come to him asking for bread? Empty your hands of all expectation. Cry out to Him for spiritual eyes to be opened, that you might see past the flesh and gaze instead into the glories of eternity. You can trust the Lord of the Universe with the when, where, how, and whys. He can provide bread, but do not settle for just crumbs when He has promised to hold back nothing of lesser value than His Son!

 

Your life is no mistake, neither are your present need, trials, and desires. Do not settle for bread crumbs. Do not settle for good. God’s best has been promised. Labor for it, strain for is, press forward, let nothing distract you, or turn you aside. If you can not see it, if your resolution falters, cry out to Him for strength, faith, and power to press on. There is a purpose, there is an end, there is an answer, there is a wealthy plaCe!

 

Psalm 66:12 Thou hast caused me to ride over our heads, we went through fire and throu water but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

 


Two quarters and a lesson

A year ago, our former pastor told a very thought provoking story. I came across a very powerful and unique verse in Matthew 16:23 that seemed to tie right into the story.
The true story goes like this….One day a father took his two children out shopping with him. When they got to the store he noticed they had a petting zoo set up for the children. He dug two quarters out of his pockets and handed one to his son and daughter and told them to go into the zoo while he shopped right outside. Seconds after leaving them at the entrance, he noticed his young daughter trailing behind him. He turned to her and asked why she was not at the zoo, petting the animals with her brother. She looked at him and replied the tickets to get in cost 50 cents so she had given her brother her quarter. This touched the father deeply because he knew how much his daughter loved animals and because of that love, he understood the extent of her sacrifice. He walked back with her to the gate and they stood together watching the son play, pet, and romp with the miniature animals. As he stood there, he reached into his pocket and fumbled with the remaining quarters still in his possession. The quarters, sufficient to buy his daughter her own ticket, seemed to be burning holes in his pocket, but what he did next is not what you would think…..for the father remained where he stood, never taking the quarters out, never offering to buy his daughter her own ticket. He not only was a loving father, but he was also a wise man and he wanted to allow his daughter to experience the joy and the reward of her sacrifice of love. Had he given in to the powerful desire to buy the second ticket, he realized he would have cheapened the value and the price of her precious sacrifice.

As I sat in the pew and listened to the story, a host of emotions flooded my heart. I imagined myself in his shoes with one of my precious children beside me, for whom I would give my very life. A battle began to rage and I experienced a conflict in my soul because, although the wisdom of his decision rang true in my heart, the desire to give “good” to a child who truly deserved a reward would have been hard not to pacify. As I sat there I wondered, would I have made the same choice? I can honestly say, I think I would have given the quarters, and while that may not have been a wrong decision, perhaps in giving the quarters the child would have received the lesser and least valuable of the rewards.

I think most of us can say we have been on both the receiving and giving end of “withheld good” As a parent, I find I am faced with this decision almost every day. An incident happened a while back in which one of my kids misbehaved in Sunday school and then throughout the week demonstrated willful disobedience and disrespect towards me. The kids had been invited to a special breakfast on Saturday with their Sunday school class and my husband and I decided we would not allow the offending child to attend with their sibling. Wow, was it hard dropping just the one child off and leaving behind my chance to get out by myself. It was even harder looking into the eyes of my child as we drove away while she sobbed asking to be able to go. I wanted to turn around, but I realized if I gave in and let her go, the lesson would not be learned and the transgressions would be repeated and left to be dealt with another day. Although my child was very repentant and show genuine remorse, my spirit and my husband counseled me to stick to my guns by withholding the “good” because I loved my child and wanted her to learn a very valuable lesson.

In Matthew 16:23 Jesus said “…..get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savoriest not the things that be of God, but those that be of man.”
These were pretty harsh words for Peter after he “rebuked” Jesus for forecasting his death. While Peter was right to be repulsed by the idea of His Lord’s murder, had his spiritual eyes been open and had he been able to comprehend the eternal ramifications of the willing sacrifice Jesus was about to make, I believe he would have closed his mouth and instead fallen to his knees humbly weeping at the feet of his master as Mary had done days before.

Have you ever found yourself in the shoes of the father, equipped with the ability, and/or power, and strong desire to give? Have you ever had the opportunity to “give” or “do” good but had the spirit prompt you respond with a second choice, the better choice, to “withhold good”?

Have you ever found yourself in the shoes of the girl, faithful and obediently following Christ, yet having a desire, need, or request withheld? Has the anguish of your heart ever been met with the still small voice of the Lord saying “Not now”, “Endure for a while”, or “Trust me”? I know people enduring through unbelievably painful trials in their marriage, work, and life. Their desire is pure and they have faithfully served him and what makes it tough is that they know the Lord could simply utter the words and make it all go away, bringing healing, peace, or restoration. Yet for some reason, in his infinite wisdom and love he withholds the “good” and instead gives just enough strength and grace to endure.

There is a woman I barely know, whom I have never met personally, yet her life, struggles, and testimony has greatly impacted my life and walk with the Lord. I think of her daily and pray for her, that the Lord would reward her faithfulness, her long suffering, and her commitment to the truth no matter the cost, by bringing her out of her present fire and into the wealthy place place he promises awaits her an the end. At the same time, I wonder at the eternal impact her life, struggles, and story has made upon countless women all across the country. Her spiritual growth and maturity, and the wealth of knowledge and insight she is able to share, is priceless. I look at her life and I am reminded and admonished to not doubt when the Lord chooses to withhold the “good” so he can eventually give me something far greater that that which my soul longs for.

My life verse is Psalm 84:11-12
The Lord your God is a sun and and shield
The Lord will give grace and mercy,
No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly,
O Lord of Host, Blessed is the man that trusteth thee.

He can pour out blessings and goodness like the sun pours down it’s rays, but he can also withhold and in withholding shield and protect us from not just evil but also second best. No matter his decision we know it is made with Love and mercy and it is accompanied with grace to endure.

Psalm 66:12
Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads
We went through fire and through water,
But thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

If you are going through a trial where you are simply waiting for an answer He is there. If you find yourself painfully thrust into the refiners fire over and over again as you pray for an end to the hurt, He is there. If you find yourself in a vast and lonely ocean, fighting waves of despair and hopelessness, as you use all your strength just to keep your head above the water, no matter the trial no matter the pain, our Saviour is still there. He stands quietly with us feeling our present pain, understanding our present yearning, and our seeing our present need and he stands there with two quarters is his pocket. As our Lord passes with us through the fire and water, remember he also stands there with us in our future deliverance, our future healing, and our future blessing, and knowing all and seeing all, his hand remains where it rest and he lovingly and with omniscience withholds the “good” so that he can eventually give us of his best.

He who withheld not the most precious gift he possessed, his only and beloved son, will not withhold anything of lesser value. Why settle for just quarters when we can own the entire bank!

Are you willing to let go of the quarters and allow him to give you of his best, when and where he deems it best?