At All Times

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Proverbs 17:17

It is a strange thing, trying to live a life I had never imagined without you.

My dreams, path and plans have changed so many times- and often drastically- (And I now have six degrees and counting to prove it 🤷🏻‍♀️😂)

But there was always consistencies sewn into the possibilities.

And you were one of them. No matter where I went, what I did or who I became in my mind’s eye- you were right beside me at all times.

Up until 8 years ago I never foresaw this. This was never an option.

8 years later. Has it really been that long?

Everywhere and everything. You can be found in the small and mundane to the unexpected and extraordinary. 

Missing you has become a constant. You were always pretty missable.

Unfortunately there is no distance we can physically travel to get to where you are on our own. Lord knows, if there was, I (and several others who love you) would be on my way if I wasn’t already there.

Random song lyrics or just some old favorites. Movies I know you would love. Stories I hear of and think you would enjoy. Every moment spent in our once favorite store. 

And yes, there are still moments when the missing you attempts to cast a shadow. Moments when thoughts attempt to form and whisper doubt and fear and confusion.

And yet… I did say that those moments attempted to cast a shadow because when the missing you reaches the brink of unbearable, I am reminded to look up, and to take in the view.

Yes, bud, we miss you more than words can express. Lord knows, I have made every effort to get it down on paper. 8 years of efforts. Not possible thus far, but I’ll keep trying.

But don’t worry. Because the missing you instead of leaving me hopeless and beaten and broken- leaves me in a state of wonder. Because in the past 8 years God has enabled you to do some remarkable and marvel worthy things. And while I have been privileged to witness or participate in some, I realize there are so many which I cannot see or have not been revealed.

Where the world told us there was a period, God put a coma. Your story is far from over and your legacy is still in the establishing. And in those moments of remembrance, I hear God whispering

At all times.

He never left. There was never a moment he didn’t love me. Or didn’t love you. Or didn’t love all who we loved. His love is not negated by circumstance. It does not rise or fall depending on our actions or situation.

He loves at all times. And since we love because he first loved us, our love doesn’t end either- at least not without our permission.

We can get angry or disappointed and decide to cast our love aside, but it can never be taken from us without us first conceding it. And even then, I do not believe it would ever be fully gone.

A friend loves at all times. 

Bud, I hope you know how much I love you. You are still my back up. You are still the one pushing me forward. You are the still the one telling me to go, fearlessly, and if not able to go fearlessly- to go with the confidence of your full backing.

As I look back I can remember how distance had never been a problem. Friendship is not defined by distance nor can it be overthrown by distance. And if it didn’t matter states away or 5 minutes away, why would it matter heavens away? Space and time- Love spans both and I have grown to believe grows larger in proportion.

Your words from then give me hope. The laughter I can recall gives me courage. The faces and stories I share with our family and friends kindle my resilience. God has called us to a holy defiance- against every bit of darkness, dismay and despair. In the words of Samwise Gamgee – I am reminded there is still good in this world and it is worth fighting for. And you my friend continuously lead the way, your light and legacy shining ever the brighter.

Growing up without you here remains difficult. But after 8 years I can no longer claim to have lived these 8 years without you. I’ve made mistakes and I’ll probably make more. I still am not entirely sure on where I am headed though I am confident in the direction… I believe. And you have been with me every step of the way. In every prayer, thought and hope.

Amid the emotions that come along with today there is a foundational sense of triumph because my friend eight years ago I never thought I’d make it to today. I couldn’t imagine finding joy and God and you in this world again. Defeated. But God, God had other plans. God has proclaimed victory over a battle I never dreamed could be fought. 8 years ago the enemy thought he’d won. He didn’t anticipate the uprising God had in store. In the middle of the pain and sorrow I cannot help but feel a laugh emerging (you know one of those possibly inappropriately timed ones) because while the battle is not over the war has already been won. Meanwhile I am going to wake every morning with two missions:

1. Praise God and be continuously awestruck at His awesomeness.

2. Ruin Satan’s day all the time.

If I had been asked 8 years ago I would have guessed I was Jonathan and you were David, assuming David was the stronger of the two. As I study and write I find my assumption would have been wrong my friend. Most of us know of David’s victories and his God anointed destiny. But God did so much, he gave David more than we ever thought to imagine. David had a best friend. And just like you in my life, that made all the difference.

And that will be my life’s work. Founded on God and his goodness. On the love he imparts to his children. And on a friendship crafted into the heart and soul. I will tell the story. I will say (and mostly write) the words. At all times.

We celebrate your life today, a life that continues to leave a light and is as vibrant today as it was 8 years ago. Cheers my friend, this adventure is far from over and from what I hear- the view is worth every valley.

♥️ Jean Bean

 

 

Standing In Confidence: Scars Part II

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:23

I am a people pleaser.

I attempt to avoid conflict at all costs and have an innate need or desire to “fix” it, whatever that may entail.

And this is not necessarily a bad thing. Most of us would agree that it falls very nicely and neatly into those concepts of “love your neighbor as yourself” and “the greatest shall be the least” and even “laying our lives down for our friends”.

People pleasing. Bible Study 101.

Except, no.

At first glance, the life of Jesus may seem like a “people pleasing” one. Give all the things away, take the detour, love unconditionally…

But when you dig deeper, when you stop for a second and actually take a really good look- you find that he was anything but a people pleaser.

The number of times he single-handedly in a matter of sentences defrauded everything the higher religious powers were preaching at the time is astounding. And while he was continuously compassionate to men and women from every walk of life, he never hesitated to bring up the hard issues and deliver absolute truth in love. And don’t forget the time he literally began to flip tables in the temple out of heartbreak for his father’s home.

No, upon further inspection- Jesus was far from a people pleaser. He was a God-the-Father pleaser. Everything he did, he did as the Father asked him to, no matter where it took him or what it looked like.

Plus- ironically the people around you often fare better when you strive to serve and love them God’s way verses their way.

Over the past few weeks with my graduation coming faster and along with it a new chapter full of first steps, a hundred different comments have filled my head.

Typically they go one of two ways- A “Congratulations” or a “Why?”.

Why…. and fill in the blanks. The way I have chosen to spend my time, my life choices and my future direction along with probably any other miscellanous topic you can think of has come into question.

Followed by a ‘but can you really’ remark.

And of course my answer is, well I really don’t know.

I don’t know how this will all play out. I have a plan, I’m on a path, but the truth is I am not quite sure I have pinpointed the destination. I have taken a few guesses.

Something I do know is that I have completely surrendered my life to His design, and He directs my steps. No matter where it takes me or what it looks like.

Another thing I know, is that I am far from the only one who faces these questions and the inner doubts which knock on the door trying to follow in after them. As I have spoken to others, I have become increasingly aware of the fact you will never make everyone happy.

I realize this is a lesson that has been around for a while. But its as if for the first time I am seeing it in color. Because the truth is, according to some of my friends who were directed to take a different road and made the choices I did not, they get the same questions. Slightly altered. But the same.

And all this, breaks my heart. We all in our own and unique God-given way bear his likeness. We are all created in his image. Yet not one of us is the same. We have been uniquely, lovingly and purposely created and crafted with specific gifts and talents and treasures.

Our mission?

Overcome the fear and the doubt and bravely utilize those gifts and talents to grow and prosper our Father’s kingdom. To use them in a way that invests and inspires the world around us.

No it is not easy. And the enemy will continuously try to tell you that you are doing it wrong.

“That’s not what everyone else does.”

“You are stupid to think you could possibly do this. Why would you even try?”

“Is this really where you thought you’d be in 10 years? Everyone else is so much farther ahead.”

Yup. Fear, doubt, shame.

But if you don’t take the risk, you deny yourself any chance at the ultimate prize. The joy of entering into your Father’s happiness, knowing you took what he gave you and did all you could with it. Even though there was no promise of return. Even though it was risky. Even though it may not have been perfect.

You jumped in full heartedly. Or at least let God push you in. While the enemy is shouting his lies on one side, God is whispering on the other.

I am with you. 

I believe in you.

I am proud of you.

The reality is Jesus is calling you to step out onto the water while others are telling you to not rock the boat.

Another reality is that we have a God who looks at us and sees every weak and hurting part. And He believes in us.

He believes in you.

And that revelation has given me a strength and a hope I had not known. He believes in me, and if my God believes in me, what can I not do? What can I not overcome?

Let’s be a people that celebrates the different unique and glorious callings God has initiated and created in all of us. Let’s be a people who stand by one another- holding each other up when it’s hard and cheering when another has reached a milestone towards their destination.

How beautiful and awe-inspiring it is when we look at our own unexpected road and see the twisting road of other’s journeys and realize it was never needless wandering but purposeful molding. How much love and care was put into His plans for every one of us? He rejoices to see the work begin. Let’s rejoice too- in a God capable of creating and compiling so many beautiful stories.

Don’t bury your treasure- be it gifts, talents, time- from a place of fear but invest it in a way so big it will leave the whole world marveling at such a risk- knowing that victory or failure is not defined by worldly standards but Godly standards. And knowing that regardless of victory or failure according to worldly standards God will meet you with a

“Well done, good and faithful child of mine, I knew you could and I am so proud. Welcome home.”

You may be wondering, “Okay, so what does people pleasing have to do with your graduation cap?” And I am so glad you asked. Let me explain.

Nothing really.

I was just really excited about it. Besides it perfectly summarizes this post:

  1. Let the Lord direct your steps.
  2. Be sure to thank and keep close those who believe in you.
  3. Do not hesitate to seek the Great Perhaps God has in store for you
  4. As followers of Jesus Christ our chapters will ALWAYS end with “To Be Continued…

The song I posted last week Scars by I Am They has a second verse which I felt fit and included below:

“Now I’m standing in confidence
With the strength of Your faithfulness
And I’m not who I was before
No, I don’t have to fear anymore

I am thankful for the Scars”

On the Road to the Greatest

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

I love driving. I will make a 7-hour one way round trip in a day. If I were completely honest, I would drive just about any amount of hours one way for a round trip if I felt the destination was worth it. Typically, I do.

Generally when I am behind the wheel of a vehicle, I am on a mission. That mission may be to track across country nineteen hours for one of my dearest friends weddings, or to run to the grocery store to grab whatever necessity it seems I am out of (generally ranch salad dressing, if being completely honest).

I love driving.

Which is good, because I spend a great deal of time in my car. He even has a name- Hobbes is pictured above, and yes there are Calvin and Hobbes reading materials (aka comics) in the backseat.

Hobbes and I have been on several missions. Some which I volunteer for, some which are mandatory (aka work) and some which, well quite frankly I just want to go on.

But sometimes I just jump in the car and drive, with no physical destination in mind. No physical mission.

I am searching for something, trying to get somewhere but Hobbes, in the traditional sense, is not going to get me there.

I have sung worship songs at my loudest and cried to God my hardest behind the wheel of my car. (PSA: always safely, maybe pulled over, but safely, promise).

I have driven in circles as I spoke to God in circles.

I have gotten lost on back roads while trying to back God into a corner.

I have driven the roads I know best while I felt God had left me wondering in completely unknown territory.

Where are we going?

I will tell you when its time.

I think its time.

That’s great, but it’s not time yet. 

Next turn, next exit. Trees, hills, highway.

I have heard him speak at sunrise as I drove through the mountains.

I have watched His glorious handiwork welcome in the twilight.

I have followed the brightest star on country roads and watched cities turn their lights on as darkness tucked them in.

Yes, I love to drive. I love being on a mission. And sometimes that mission, is just to lose myself on one road and find God on another.

And now while I am undertaking whatever the mission is at the moment, I can relentlessly declare hope everywhere I go- literally.

Faith, Hope and Love.

And the greatest of these is love.

Hope is the bridge between faith and love.

> Faith in the impossible, established in hope.

> Love continuously overflowing, through the gift of hope.

Perhaps that gift of love can be declared in hope. Using your turn signal, paying for the person behind you in the fast food line and always having a snack on hand for those who may need one (like myself, I admit I often need a snack).

Declare Hope. Or DCLR HPE.

So much more than a blog or a phrase. So much bigger than anything I could ever write.

Declare hope it is a state of mind it’s a lifestyle, it’s what we do, it calls us to action.

Faith, Hope and Love the greatest of which is Love.

And relentless Hope, through genuine Faith, always leads to immeasurable Love.

What we all have to decide, is if we will take up the mission, and hit the road?

*Side Note: The credit for the license plate spelling goes to my Mom.

One of the days we spent together in January I was discussing that I had thought about getting a personalized plate and I wanted to use Declare Hope in some way. She looked up as we were writing options and she said the above. And we immediately knew it was perfect. We were right.  Thanks Mom.

*Photo Credit: Thanks you too Dad! For putting on the plates and snapping the picture, even if it was bit damp out!

 

Foolish Faith

I knew He could and I had hoped He would.

I wouldn’t be shaken, I didn’t care how impossible it looked or how dark it felt. There was no other option but hope. No other outcome was to be entertained. Victory was the only possible answer. Miraculous, unbelievable, odds defying victory.

Deep down though I knew, though I didn’t want to say it, that God’s definition and picture of victory did not always match my own.

Yes, His visions of victory had included parting the Red Sea, driving out Israel’s enemies and tearing the veil in the temple.

However, His visions of victory had also included 40 years in the wilderness, Nehemiah standing amongst ruins and Jesus hanging from the cross.

And it hurts. God knows it hurts when our visions of victory don’t coincide with His.

And the lies begin to run through your mind, each one a blow directed to destroy your already broken heart, each one intent on tearing you down and stealing what truth and light you knew or at least thought you had known…

Why didn’t He show up?, What did I do wrong?, Were my words not studied enough?, Were my shortcomings too great? Or my faith too small?

The reality is that He did not show up because He was always already there. He heard our prayers and our declarations and our faith and He drew us closer. Because He knew it hurt and He knew we didn’t understand. And that we wouldn’t understand.

And so after only two months, Mom lost her earthly battle to cancer and instead won a heavenly victory. Not exactly the victory we had prayed for and even now a win which feels more like a loss. But though I don’t understand it and although it hurts beyond description… I know that it is a victory which is greater than I can fathom.

That is the only explanation, my best answer- I simply don’t get it and all my faith is still in Him.

Many thought my faith was foolish then. Foolish optimism. To be looking at what was an impossible escape and still proclaim God’s ability to intervene. To declare life where surety of death was indisputable.

I can only imagine what some think of my faith now. A faith which from all outwardly appearances lost its battle. A faith which seemingly fell short in the end. Such a faith could surely not survive, not now, not after such a disastrous loss.

However, it not only survived but is yet growing.

A faith which even now, amid heartbreak and loss, declares the righteousness of a God whose promises are for our good and whose love is steadfast. A faith that says yes God could have intervened but He stayed His hand… because His was a greater purpose than we could ever comprehend. And that in the greater picture, this heavenly victory will cause a ripple effect and continue to change the whole world, one heart at a time.

Foolish optimism, realistic faith. God’s victory didn’t look like the one I had imagined, hope for or prayed for ceaselessly. In fact His victory looks exactly like my definition of defeat. And it really sucks.

But my faith didn’t end with my mom’s earthly life. A faith which she had instilled and encouraged in me.

How can I be sure that He knew what He was doing? That He cares? That He was prepared for this when to us it is so sudden and so unexpected?

The small things. His small assurances.

Fun fact about me: I love libraries. I love walking through the aisles of books and always pray I pick a book that may be my next favorite. And as little and insignificant as the prayer seems, one carelessly and arbitrarily thought, He hears it and He answers it. I know that now.

Often I end up checking out a completely random book. I will grab something I’ve never heard of, something I am not sure I even really want to read. (Note: I have a to-read list on Goodreads nearing 1,200 books so I do not necessarily need to pick a completely random book ever… but I do).

I picked up such a book in November 2018.

For some reason I pulled that book off the shelf. And for some reason I brought it home and literally continuously renewed it for several weeks until… for some reason I finally decided to lay everything else aside and read it.

And for some reason I’m marveling at how He did that while also surprisingly not surprised.

The small assurances. When He whispers in that still small voice from the most unexpected of places at the most unexpected of times.

Not while everything feels it is collapsing in or when you’re crying out to Him, I’ve learned in those moments He simply holds you. Amid destruction He carries you to unshaken ground and He holds you. He doesn’t say anything, because there is nothing to say. It hurts. And nothing will make that better this side of heaven. Nothing will fully heal the loss until we are all reunited in the place where there is no more death and no more tears. He provides the comfort we need to keep our hope burning, though it may barely be a flicker.

And then when it is time He stokes the fire. That book I checked out in November, I finally set everything aside and read it. Tucked inside it’s pages was exactly what I needed to hear. Several things I needed to hear in fact. Including that which is included in the featured image of this post…

“Earthly hearts cannot always fathom divine reasoning.”

You are right God. And that’s okay. We were never meant to.

Meanwhile, He has also reminded me that after 40 years the Israelites made it to the Promised Land, Nehemiah did rebuild the wall and Jesus… well Jesus overcame the grave for all of us and in Him no goodbye is ever the last word but merely a until we meet again.

It still hurts. God’s still good. And although I have several books to read at home, I’m still going to the library.

** Bonus Quotes from “Such a Time as This” by Kate Breslin**

Because they were exactly what I needed and may be exactly what someone else needs too.

“I do not doubt Your message God. But I do wonder when…”

“Why had she assumed God would speak to her in some great audible sign, like a thunder-clap, lightning or burst of fire from the sky? Had anger and bitterness made her deaf to His whisper?”

“A strong belief in God is like forging steel; it must be repeatedly tested in fire, then cooled in the waters of His mercy before becoming resilient enough to withstand evil.”

** This last quote was written down with the others, but it was a couple of days later that I really felt its full effect. Story to follow in upcoming post.**

“Papa told me a boy only fails when he does not try,.. I think it must be the same for a girl.”

 

 

Fast(ing) Forward

Back in the beginning of December 2018 I made a decision to participate in the Daniel Fast at the start of 2019. This would be my fourth year undertaking the fast, and to be quite honest, I was really looking forward to it.

By the end of 2018 I had amassed an impressive assortment of questions pertaining to every area of my life; personal, professional, relationships, financial, physical, spiritual. And while I have full faith in God coming through according to His timing, a part of me seems to continuously search for that fast forward button. From my past experience I knew it was time for the fast because nothing slows me down more than fasting.

Fasting is a period of time where you temporarily give up something to make space for God. I realize that sounds strange, as in what could making space for God possibly have to do with food? Nothing really.

Except that going on the Daniel Fast helps my heart to remember what or who is my first priority. It seems so small, does God really care about whether or not I eat a piece of that cake or if I have one slice of pizza on Saturday night? No, He doesn’t. Remember Jesus’s words in Matthew,

What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” v.15:11

What God does care about though is that above having a slice of pizza or a piece of my favorite dessert, I desire to honor my commitment to Him most. It’s not to say I do not feel the temptation to cheat or bend the rules a bit, but that above those temptations He comes first.

Being on the fast reminds my heart of who my hope is in, who I turn to when nothing feels right or who I cry to when I am not sure where the journey leads. By continuously having to remember what I cannot eat on the fast and preparing meals, I am continuously reminded of a God who would cherish such a seemingly small sacrifice. Everything He has ever done and I struggle giving up tea, chocolate and coffee for 21 days.

Actually back at the beginning of December last year I decided I would extend my fast past the 21 day period (reflective of Daniel’s fast which was 3 weeks long) and go until noon on February 4th. This date may seem random but for me it is a date which will set all of 2019, and my future, unto one path or another. I knew I would need the extra weeks to ensure my heart remained focused and my eyes stayed fixed as Jesus led me across the water, reminding me that He is the one who ultimately sets my path.

And that is why I fast, and love it when I do.

It’s not a diet, there is no way I would still have Christmas candy if this was just a diet where I was answerable to only myself. Not to say the health benefits are not great, because the doctor’s will tell you they are, but they are an added bonus.

It’s not a way to earn “bonus points” and get on God’s “really” good side so He will answer all my prayers accordingly. The reality is that God answers all prayer in His time and according to His purpose. No, fasting doesn’t change God’s mind but instead it changes our hearts.

All those questions I had accumulated over 2018 I have been able to lay at His feet, and leave them there. I have handed over every burden. I don’t have answers because I don’t need them. All I need to know is that He is in control and therefore there is nothing to fear. Despite the storms and the waves my eyes are fixed on HIm and He who is always faithful will bring me through.

There are several different fasts. Different time frames, from hours to days to weeks to months. And it’s not always food related, maybe a social media fast or tv fast or just a caffeine fast would be best. The key is to choose one thing you will miss throughout your allotted time without it and then when you do miss it be reminded of your ultimate why. You made a commitment. Be reminded of who you made that commitment to, a commitment which in reality seems so small compared to all He has committed to and accomplished for us.

If you are like me you will be surprised to find that fasting isn’t really something we do that “benefits” God. No, it is actually something which we benefit from in ways we never fathomed before we begun.

One more thing, after every fast in the Bible there was a celebration. I can already feel the joy bubbling up not because I have received any answers but because I am the daughter of a King who loves me uncompromisingly and who hears all my cries. What have I to fear knowing that ultimately that whatever I face is not a permanent state and that something better than I could ever imagine is on the horizon.

Cheers!

**Thank you Kate Remmer on Unsplash for the photo!

 

Even This Far

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

2 Timothy 4:7

We love a good “Cinderella” story. At least I do. One where the main character faces impossible odds and it gets to that pivotal moment where all is lost and then… they rise. They make the impossible choice to do the impossible thing that has no guaranteed outcome, no guaranteed success and really through the world’s eyes is completely hopeless. But they do it anyway, they go that far.

Our love for these stories can’t be denied. Looking at recent movies and books which have been released with great success, we all in some way are encouraged by those moments. Moments where they fight the good fight, finish the race and in the face of complete defeat keep the faith.

But living it out… that’s more difficult. I would be willing to bet that everyone reading this has had those in the dust moments, the ones before the epic comeback. The point in the story where everything seems broken, obliterated and all that is left is the debris of what used to be. I know I have been there more than once, and God knows there were moments when I wasn’t sure if I could keep the faith. I wasn’t sure I could be the hero in the story who rose. I wasn’t sure I could go that far.

I would say at some point all of us have hit our knees in defeat. And God, it hurts. We cry out wondering how it got this far. How or why did God let it go this far?

He should have been here by now.

He should have righted the wrongs by now.

He should have….

But He hasn’t. And we find ourselves faced with the decision, are we willing to go that far? Will our faith carry us that far?

The truth is we know that He knows it hurts. We know that He hears our cries. We know that He is good and that He is all-knowing. We know that we can trust in His plan and in His will above our own. Even this far.

This is where clinging to the truth, to what we know God has said over what we see, is essential. And God knows it’s hard. That is why He has given us the stories of others who rose despite the impossible circumstances. Stories of those who were probably wondering how it had gotten this far, and yet didn’t falter in their faith.

Can you picture it? Daniel being led to the lion’s den, praying to God. Believing God was there beside him and yet when they arrive, he is still thrown in. And as he gets up and realizes he is actually in the lion’s den, the king wishes him luck and then seals the door. Literally, a stone was rolled in front of it and was sealed with the king’s signet ring and of the other nobles, so “that Daniel’s situation may not be changed”. Daniel 6:17, word for word.

And in my head I wonder why that far? Why did God let it go that far?

And it’s not a one time occurrence. Moses in the wilderness, the four men in the furnace, Job in the rubble of all he had, David on the run, Jesus on Calvary. Time and time again we read stories in the Bible letting it go that far, not only in the Old Testament but in the New Testament as well.

I am sure Mary and Martha wondered why Jesus had let it go that far.

Lord, if you had been here this wouldn’t have happened.

I am here, always, it is apart of the plan, have faith. There is a greater purpose, even this far.

We could list stories all day long of those who were faced with choosing to accept defeat and lose hope or choosing to go that far. Stories which bring with them a revelation. Going that far has always been apart of the plan. Maybe not our plan, but His plan.

God’s not surprised. He didn’t momentarily forget and then turn around and go “my bad I never meant it to go that far”. God’s plans always serve a purpose. One of those purposes, growing and solidifying our faith.

A faith that won’t flee at the sight of the seemingly impossible. A faith that not only knows but fully believes that what is impossible for man is possible with God. A faith that will carry you that far. A faith that says even this far.

So many times have I cried out, demanding to know why God has let it go this far, pleading with Him to move His hand. And as my pain pours out, His peace pours in. And I know that He is moving His hand. That is has gone this far for a far greater purpose. I need only to trust and to keep the faith, to know that when I cannot run He will carry me. When the den is sealed and the tomb is closed, God’s still working. So keep the faith, because in those darkest moments, He’s about to call you out.

Even now, even this far.

Special thanks for the featured photo Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash

Child’s Play

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

2 Corinthians 5:7

One of my favorite games growing up was one which my sisters and I created titled “Pearl Harbor”.

We would go out to our front field which ran along the state route we lived by and starting in the back we would try to stealthily make it to the front before an “incoming enemy” (aka a car) was able to fire upon us. We would army crawl, jump over logs and take cover in the tall grass. When the enemy swept in, we would high-tail it to the back to start all over again. It was a game inspired by its cinema namesake, and built primarily on imagination. In our game the good guys always came out on top, sometimes with a few minor injuries but without a single casualty. #win.

Things looked bad, but we never lost hope. We never believed there was a reason to not have complete faith in our ultimate victory.

Looking back, it is astounding how the imagination can change. As we get older we are still tempted to let our imaginations run wild, though they seem to take a different direction when things look bad. They run wild with worst-case scenarios and ever-growing mountains and obstacles. All we see are the realities this world insists are unmovable- and most of the time it’s bad, it’s really bad.

Instead of believing there is no reason to doubt, we believe there is no reason to hope. We see defeat, not victory. The incoming enemy is fully armed and there is no shelter from the fire. Instead of our imaginations affecting how we see the world, what we see affects how we imagine the world to be. Instead of imagining the possibilities, we only see the impossibilities- the tests don’t look good, the bills are due, time is short and days are long.

Many of us at different times in our lives, may be one piece of bad news away from a breakdown, slipping into the black pit with no way out. A mindset of  “It’s impossible, it would literally take the hand of God…”

… The hand of God. Our grown up imaginations often seem to forget about His presence, as it runs amuck in all of its doomsday scenarios. But what if we redefined our imaginations’ job description? Not merely as some impractical childish foolishness but as a powerful and purposeful tool. A tool which helps us to walk in faith, even when what we see is bad. A tool to help ground us in a faith that cannot be shaken, a childlike faith.

A faith that doesn’t look back when leaving our comfort zones, such as Lot’s wife in Genesis. A faith that doesn’t look at the storm around us, but looks to the one leading us across the water. A faith that establishes truth amidst a doubting and dark world. A faith that is a rock Jesus can build His church on. An imperfect faith made perfect in Him.

Loving faith.

Painful faith.

Radical faith.

Total faith.

Can you imagine? I can, and I see a world overcome not by doubt or fear but by hope. Unspeakable hope that no matter what this world throws at us, the truth that the best is yet to come prevails. Knowing there is no situation too lost, no news too bad or circumstance too dark that God cannot reach it.

Our faith and our hope are not resigned to only when things are going well. It’s easy to declare hope and God’s faithfulness when all looks right in our world. True faith is knowing how bad it really is, how seriously hopeless the situation looks and sounds, being in the middle of it and choosing God’s ultimate truth over those worldly facts surrounding us.

Having faith doesn’t mean it won’t hurt. Having faith doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult. Having faith does mean that in the middle of the doubt, pain and fear you will have peace, hope and comfort- recalling what God has said, despite what you see and moving forward.

Having faith is fearlessly charging ahead, jumping over the obstacles, hitting your knees when necessary and running full speed to shelter. Those obstacles looked huge as we jumped and dove but from our shelter they no longer looked quite as large.

It’s the same now. When we look out at the obstacles from our shelter and mighty fortress, Jesus Christ, they no longer seem so impossible.

Walk by faith, not by sight. Don’t look back. Don’t look around. Look at Him. And just like in those childhood games, bring back up. Remember His words. And let what you see be transformed.