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

I Do Declare

1, 2, 3, 4, I declare… a thumb war!

Just kidding. We will not be declaring any wars today, at least that was not my initial intention. However, a thumb war could be a great way to liven up a rather dull day and requires minimal preparation. Regardless, we will move on to what we are actually discussing, the word declare.

What is the first thing that pops in your head when you hear the word declare?

It may be a thumb war or an actual declaration of war. Maybe it is The Declaration of Independence. It could be a declaration of love or emotion such as when Scarlett O’Hara famously states “Oh, I do declare” in Gone with the Wind (and my bet is that you just read that in her voice).

My second question – what declarations do you make on a daily basis?

What have you declared today? What did you declare yesterday?

I have had this revelation that the word declare is not only a verb, but a verb which we actively employ everyday. Everything that we do and everything that we say is a declaration. Our words and actions declare hope or fear, love or hate, joy or anger, faith or lack thereof.

And maybe some of you are already well aware of the extent in which your declarations affect the world around you. Personally, I required a learning curve. You see one day I was reading some well-known verses out of Jeremiah, specifically Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

And for some reason (probably divine intervention) that word, “declares”, took hold of my attention. The Lord declares. And knowing who the Lord is, I would say his declarations carry quite a bit of weight. But I began to notice that the word declare was scattered throughout the Bible, beginning to end, varying situations, circumstances and people. And it hit me. The Lord is not the only one who declares things in the Bible. People did too. Human beings, created in God’s image, declared all sorts of things and not only in their words but through their actions, just like their Creator.

I had heard about making declarations and affirmations through various Bible Studies and knew that speaking life and stating your beliefs was important. But in my head that was part of waking up, you know you ran through what you believed and you went about your day. What I hadn’t taken to heart, was that after declaring those beliefs, the way we approached the rest of our day was a continuous declaration.

So, I decided to Google the word declare. And the result is what is pictured above this post. More than the definition, it is the synonyms which I found most surprising. To state, set forth, air, publicize, proclaim, vent… to vent. Out of all of those synonyms vent stopped me. Because while I would have liked to think of myself as someone who would “one day” proclaim or state or set forth, I knew I was someone who had and did vent. And what hit me was that to vent, was to declare, to set forth, to proclaim and to state. I had a moment when I realized it wasn’t that I hadn’t proclaimed or stated or set forth, it was what had I proclaimed, stated and set forth.

And as that sank in, I thought of what I had been declaring versus what I wanted to declare with my life. As a daughter of the Heavenly Father who over eternity had declared his love, beginning in Genesis to Noah and the earth with the rainbow in chapter 9 and then again when he established his covenant with Abram in chapter 15. Who declared his faithfulness through the wilderness in Exodus and again with the prophecy of the promised messiah who would come to save and not condemn the world in Isaiah. Who finally because he so loved the world gave his only begotten son, making the ultimate declaration of love to mankind and ultimate declaration of war on satan and his kingdom.

As a daughter of the King who had proven faithful and loving through every trial of my  own life, coming through in the smallest yet grandest of ways… I didn’t want to live a life which declared a mediocre faith. I didn’t want my declarations to most closely fit under its synonym of to vent. No, as his daughter, I didn’t want to vent I wanted to announce. I wanted to set forth. I wanted proclaim his name and his faithfulness and every work of his hand I had the honor and joy of witnessing.

I wanted to live a life which reflected Nehemiah who wouldn’t come down from the wall, or of Daniel who entered the lion’s den. I wanted my life to reflect David’s, who wrote Psalms which declared God’s righteousness, faithfulness and loving-kindness and that of Peter who stepped out of the boat. A life which such as Esther and Ruth and Mary declared complete surrender and trust in the one who is, was and will always be.

And as I was thinking all of these things a second revelation hit me, I didn’t need to be any sort of perfect or together in order to have a faith which reflected that of the Biblical heroes and heroines. Their stories too were full of ups and downs. They sometimes got it right, but usually only after they had gotten it wrong. Their declarations though always came back to and always illuminated the God and Creator whose faithfulness inspired their faith.

And that is what this page is for, declarations. It is a space in which we will declare the hope we have in Jesus. Declarations of hope and praise for what he has done, is doing and will do. A space in which to vent the implications of a fallen world and proclaim the reality of a savior which has overcome that same world.

Signing off, there are two questions:

What are you declaring?

And what do you want to declare?

Heavenly Father, Thank you for declaring your love and faithfulness to us, not only through Your words but deeds. God we are witnesses to the workings of Your mighty hand. As we enter into our day Lord help us to make our own declarations through word and deed so that we may reflect Your light and Your hope to all around us. We are excited Lord for we know what You have done and are doing does not compare to what you will do, we know that there is more to come. In Your Wonderful Name, Amen.