Choosing to Trust and Promising to Praise

A couple of nights ago, I went running in the rain. Now I am normally a VERY fair weather runner – it can’t be too hot or too cold and it certainly shouldn’t be raining! But this particular night, the cool rain and the quiet glistening streets just felt right somehow. I often spend my time running talking to God. Often it is simply asking God to make sure I make it back home! But this night, it was confession…I’ve been writing about confession and I suppose I have to live what I write…

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I told God just how sorry I was for not trusting Him wholeheartedly and completely. Have you ever been there? I say I trust God with my present and my future and believe He is with me in the waiting (click to read about God’s presence with us as we wait), but I don’t act like I really trust Him. Instead of enjoying the good gifts He’s given me each day, I fret and worry about whether or not He’ll come through tomorrow. I say He’s a good, good Father who gives incredible gifts, but I continue to doubt His provision for tomorrow despite experiencing His abundant blessings today.

And so with each step it wasn’t just sweat and rain that ran down my face…

But God is a good, good Father. He is patient. He is kind. And He is SO slow to anger. And for that I am even more grateful than I am for the tangible blessings He gives.

God is indeed with me in the waiting and as I wait, He longs for me to rest in the assurance of His constant and faithful provision. He has always come through in the past. He holds and knows my future. But if I continue to fret instead of demonstrate faith, I’ll miss the joys of His blessings in my present. So what’s my fear? Well, what if what I want for my future isn’t what God provides? Ugh, I hate even typing it. It just sounds so selfish, bratty even. But I know I’m not alone. Don’t we all doubt whether God’s plans really will be better or at least as good as what we have planned? And don’t we all know how silly it is to think God is somehow holding out!? And yet…

The truth is sometimes we don’t get what we want. Sometimes the path and plans God lays before us involve more suffering or heartache than we anticipated. And so we long to believe and trust and follow God faithfully wherever He leads, but it isn’t as easy as it sounds. We know God’s way is ultimately the best way, but we are also very aware of Jesus’ promise that in this world we will have trouble (and disappointment and sadness and hurt).

And so what are we to do? God in His graciousness knows how much we struggle to trust Him and promises to give us strength where we lack. And so we ask Him for that very thing…strength to trust. We ask the Holy Spirit for the strength to stay in the present where we are much more able to notice the blessings God has given, praise Him for providing, and delight in the joy they bring. We promise that in good times and bad, His praise will ever be on our lips because atmospheres shift when we praise. And so my prayer did just that – it moved from confession, to gratefulness, to promise, to asking the Holy Spirit for the strength to keep my promise: a promise to praise His name whether I get my way or not and a promise to choose to trust Him, because like choosing to run in the rain, ultimately trusting God and praising Him really is a choice.

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And so hold me accountable. May I stay present and grateful for the gifts of each and every day. Whether life seems to be going my way or not, may His praise ever be on my lips. And I pray that is true for you as well.

The Hardest Thing…part 2

I’ve been thinking and talking and hearing and writing a lot about confession lately. It’s present all throughout Scripture and yet it seems so drastically absent from our lives. The irony is that in a world of over sharing on social media, we tend to “under share” that which matters most. We’ve traded likes on Instagram for true intimacy in relationship. We’ve settled for shallow “relationship” with hundreds of “friends” who are more like strangers rather than depth of a few truly close and authentic friends. And it’s a horrible trade.

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We end up carrying our hurt and pain by ourselves. We end up feeling alone, and honestly maybe many of us actually are! We end up burying our emotions or trying to cope in unhealthy ways. We experience guilt and shame and have no where to go. And the more we keep anything in secret, hidden in the dark, the bigger it grows.

I heard Jen Hatmaker tell a story that illustrates the perfectly. In her bedroom stands a manikin holding many of her coats and topped with her big floppy sun hat. Many nights she has awakened to the belief that manikin is an intruder ready to attack. Simply turning on the light removes all fear and quiets her racing heartbeat.

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In Ephesians 5, Paul says, “Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. (NLT)”

You see, no matter what you have hidden in the darkest parts of your heart, it isn’t nearly as big or powerful as the light of the Holy Spirit within you. And when we muster up the courage to expose the darkness to the light, it becomes Β no more frightening than a manikin clothed in old coats and a floppy sun hat.

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So let’s get serious about developing deep, authentic, trusting relationships where we are safe to be vulnerable with our messiness…the kind that help us bring that which is dark into the light. Let’s be brave enough to be honest and real with one another, trusting we’ll be met with kindness, compassion, and tenderness.