Tag Archives: growth

He’s in the waiting…

Recently I realized I had been living with a false assumption. Well, more accurately, God revealed to me during my time with Him just how mistaken I had been. You see, I have always had a very clear understanding that God goes before to prepare and I have always believed that God comes behind to protect, but I was neglecting to recognize perhaps the most important aspect of relating with and walking with God. He’s also in the waiting.


In the midst of changing careers and with the future looking so uncertain, I have chosen to believe God has a plan and is preparing the way. I have always cognitively believed that to be true. It is not hard to acknowledge that an all-knowing God knows and understands more than my limited brain can. It is harder to choose into trusting God’s goodness and sovereignty in carrying out that plan. However, in the midst of this transition, I have found trusting God wholeheartedly with my future to be easier than in the past.

Similarly, I have always known and understood God comes behind me, that He “has my back”. God protects and provides and He responds to my steps of faith in Him by doing those things in ways that are often beyond what I could ever have expected or anticipated. This too was not a new concept to a lifelong Christian. A good father is protective. A good father provides. And God is a very good father, so naturally He comes behind and ensures my safety as I take courageous steps of obedience.

Here’s where the revelation came…God is not just ahead, He’s not just behind, He is also walking with me. He doesn’t just prepare the way. He doesn’t just protect after the step has been taken. He is with and alongside in the waiting. Kristene DiMarco of Bethel Music has a new song called “Take Courage”. The song hasn’t even been officially released yet (thankfully you can find a live recording on YouTube – don’t worry, I provided the link below). The lyrics to the chorus read, “Take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul, He’s in the waiting.”

I was introduced to the song during “Unite Midwest”, an evening of prayer and worship led by teams from Bethel, including Kristene. Frankly, it had been a very long day at the end of a very long week. I didn’t even want to go to the event. I wanted to just stay at home and order pizza. But I made a promise to a kindergarten age friend that I would attend the concert and sit by her, and you do NOT break promises to six year olds! So I headed to the venue, weary and worn out.  All around me, people engaged in genuine and heartfelt worship. And though I sang along, my heart and head were elsewhere. Until Kristene began to sing, “Take Courage.” At that point, my knees hit the ground and tears began to fall.

A deeper understanding of how God relates with me, with all of us, was forming in my heart. Later a friend asked why I became so emotional during that particular song. I couldn’t articulate why at the time. And that shows another wonderful truth about our God – He’s SO patient with us! Because change takes time. Growth doesn’t happen in an instance. Instead, it happens slowly overtime, requiring patience and careful observation. You must have eyes to see it and ears to hear it and a heart open to change.  And so let me invite you into one of my quiet times.

I honestly don’t really like to call it a “quiet time” – it sounds so boring, like a child in timeout. And so often my “quiet time” is anything but quiet. It is simply time I set aside to spend with God. I sometimes end my “quiet time” worshiping. (It is a good thing I live alone because anyone listening would long for this time to truly be quiet – make a joyful noise, not a pretty one right!?) As I lifted my hands towards heaven, I heard God clearly, and might I add both tenderly yet firmly, say, “I’m RIGHT here. I’m right here.” And my hands dropped. And I could feel him sitting WITH me. And THAT is why I had hit my knees. THAT is why tears began to fall. Because my God is a God that walks WITH me.

waiting 2

Yes, God is far above. Yes, God goes before. Yes God comes behind. Yes, God is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Yes. But…

He is also EVERYTHING in between. He is WITH. He is ALONGSIDE. He is RIGHT HERE. He is in the decision. He is in the arriving. But He’s also in the waiting…

Choice versus Decision: Why Resolutions Fail

We are not even two weeks into the new year and most of our resolutions are likely already a distant memory. Why is it that the desire to change is so strong on January 1 and has already faded by the following week? Time and time again I’ve resolved to make some specific positive change in my life only to find myself right back where I started, sick with regret and self-loathing at my apparent lack of self-control, will power, and discipline. Why can’t I leave the Oreos alone? Why is it so difficult to wake up just thirty minutes earlier to spend time with Jesus? Why does the drive to the gym seem so far despite being just blocks away? What goes wrong?!


In my personal and professional experience, it comes down to the difference between a decision and a choice. Wait…aren’t those the same thing? No, not really.

A choice is defined as the act of picking. It is the process that happens in line at a fast food restaurant – do I want a number 2 or a number 5? Fries or tots (always tots)? Do I want chocolate or vanilla (both, the answer is always both)? Do I like the red one or the blue one? It is an instant selection made with very little thought.


A decision is much bigger than a choice. A decision is defined as a conclusion reached after consideration. A decision is marked by greater thought and deeper determination than given to a simple choice. A decision reflects values and goals. A decision eliminates the need for choice. If I decide to go to the gym everyday after work, I no longer have to make a daily choice because the decision has already been made. If I decide to spend time with Jesus every morning, I no longer have to make a choice because the decision has already been made. If I decide to eat more vegetables and less junk food, I no longer have to make a choice between fries and tots because the decision is side salad.

Choices maintain status quo. Decisions create paths for change.

Choices are an individual and independent process. They must be made alone. Decisions allow for community support, help, and encouragement from others.

choices person

Choices isolate you. Decisions invite others to join in your journey.

Choices can create confusion and complications. Decisions simplify and clarify the change process and pave the way for personal growth.

God longs to guide and strengthen us in our desires to grow. He’s the one longing for us to look more and more like Jesus and like the person He designed us to be. The Bible uses the word steadfast frequently, and though not a perfect synonym to decision, I believe they are in the same vain. Steadfast is defined as resolute and unwavering.


Look at some of the verses where the word “steadfast” appears:

“My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.” Psalm 57:7

“Oh that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!” Psalm 119:5

“Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.” 2 Chronicles 27:6

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

psalm steadfast

“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” Proverbs 4:26

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10

I love that last verse! It promises that making decisions and sticking with them is difficult and that we will have to suffer through the process. But it also promises that God will provide the strength we need. We do not need to rely on our own will power, we can tap into God’s supernatural power! Amen!

Pruning: Trusting the Master Gardener to Make the Right Cuts

Pruning (v): The targeted removal of diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive, structurally unsound, overgrown, or otherwise unwanted tissue of a plant, especially to increase fruitfulness and growth.


Pruning is a difficult but necessary process and I’ve had to do some pruning recently. And though it was a painful process, once the branch had been snipped, I felt a tremendous amount of freedom and relief. The reality is that endings are as necessary as beginnings!

Pruning serves several purposes. It is necessary to improve or maintain health. Pruning increases the quantity or improves the quality of the fruit being produced. Finally, pruning improves the overall strength of the plant or tree so it can withstand nature’s storms. Here’s what is interesting about pruning: it isn’t always about cutting away that which is already dead, often it requires trimming away branches and buds that are very much alive.

We often have to cut away the good in our lives, maybe even some of the better things in our lives, in order to make room for the best things in life. It can be difficult to say no to the things that are not good in our life. It is even MORE difficult to say no to things that seem good! This is especially difficult to do when so much of our identity tends to come from the things we give our time and energy to. It is difficult to allow God to prune away those things that seem to define us and bring worth and value to our lives!

However, God is the master gardener and longs for us to reach our full potential, which takes pruning. In the gospel of John, Jesus says, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” (John 15:1-4) Look at verse two in the above passage, “He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”

God is not satisfied with our current production or our current growth. He loves us as we are but desires to make us better. As master gardener, He is constantly trimming and pruning our branches in order to improve our health, increase the fruit we produce, and make us stronger to withstand life’s storms. The process may be painful at times. We may have to let go of branches we’ve grown to love. We have to allow God to strip us of the familiar and we have to be willing to step out into the unknown. This takes trusting that God really does know what is best and believing that he knows exactly which branches to snip. And when we finally give up control and allow God to prune us, we find that the process, although painful, is also beautiful.

It is often said that all good things must come to an end, and allowing God to prune those things in His timing frees us up to move onto greater things. It is possible to end well. It is possible to give thanks for the purpose the branches and buds served at the time and to let them go when the time comes knowing that new buds and branches will replace them.

So, what areas of your life need pruning? Where is God longing to trim back some branches and create space for better fruit? Where is God longing to cut out dead branches so new growth can come forth? What branches feel weak and need to be removed so you can become stronger? Are you ready to release whatever God asks of you and trust that he is a good gardener and wants to replace the good with something great?

art of pruning