When God Lifts You Up

When God Lifts You Up Faithfulness is a hard topic for me. I haven’t thought about it very much, and when I do, it’s often been tough. I have a chronic illness, so while God has been faithful to me in the little things, I have often wondered where God is when it comes to the big things. What are the big things? Illness. Pain. Struggles. Grief.

I’ve experienced grief quite a bit in the past six months. In July of 2014 I lost my grandmother, who was extremely important to me. Mid-February of this year, I lost another extended family member who was very grandmotherly to me and those around me. While both of them are in heaven, the world has lost out big time. And suffering losses so close to each other is obviously more than a bit painful.

In the face of this, it’s hard to understand how God could be faithful to me. While I don’t understand why painful things happen, and I don’t know that I ever will, I do know one thing. I believe in a Jesus who builds people up, not One Who shatters them. While the world has broken them, Jesus came to heal them, to rebuild what they have lost.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
— Isaiah 61:1-3

Although this is not the intent, sometimes religion can make my burden heavier, not easier. All the do’s and don’t’s aren’t helpful to anyone. Sometimes, I get fed up with the heavy burden that Christianity has become. But then I consider the real heart of the matter. And I remember a man called Jesus who walked the earth offering love to anyone who needed it. Even more than that, His love was not fickle, it was faithful. He stuck by the side of the people who needed Him most. Jesus may not walk the earth anymore, but the principle of His faithfulness still stands. How could it be any different today? He will not abandon you. He will not abandon any of us. To me, that’s pretty powerful–not only that, but extremely necessary due to the sometimes-difficult nature of life on this spinning planet.

I don’t believe that Jesus came to make life harder, but to make it easier. Things happen in life that we can’t control, that wound us. But God is there to bandage up our wounds, to hold us, to take us in when everyone else has kicked us out. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-39). Remember the story of the lost sheep? Jesus left the 99 to go find the one. That’s faithfulness.

Life in this world is not easy. As it is said in The Princess Bride, one of my favorite movies, “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” It is hard, it is painful. People will leave, things will happen, life will be absolute crap sometimes. That’s a fact. Living is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. But please remember, whatever life throws your way, that you are never too broken to count as His. He will never stop loving you, and He will be with you, always. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” — Matthew 28:20.

I haven’t often thought about what faithfulness is, but I think I know: it’s a God that lifts your head when you are unable to lift it yourself. And when that happens, somehow, this life thing doesn’t seem so hard anymore.

(Note: The verses I referenced in this post have brought great comfort to me. I hope they do the same for you.)
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Grafted Readers! Unfortunately, this will be my last post indefinitely, as I need to focus on schoolwork and obligations in my personal life. Writing for you has been a pleasure and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity. Thank you so much for reading! May peace be with you.

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The Three Things

THE THREE THINGS

 

The Three things I learned while on my last trip to Uganda …

On my last trip to Uganda I didn’t really know what to expect … I had been there three times before, but I didn’t know on how God was going to use me differently or change me.  To be honest, I kind of thought it might be the same old experience.  My heart would be broken, then I would come home and cry, I would long to go back for the first few days, and then I would kind of wait it out until the next time I would be able to go back…  I was totally wrong! God changed me! God changed my heart more then I could have ever imagined.  He changed the way I look at the people of this great big world.  He changed me.

 

Love. Sadness. Special.

 

LOVE. This trip it was my goal to change the kids.  I hoped to change the poor orphans in the villages, the filthy kids on the street, the tired care givers, and even all the random people I came in contact with.  I wanted to show them the everlasting/never failing LOVE of Jesus. I wanted to give them the sweet warmth of a hug or the cozy feeling you get when holding someone’s hand. I wanted to be a light in their lives. I wanted God’s LOVE to shine through me and bring them hope, peace, joy, and LOVE. God has a way with things, there he goes flipping you upside down, shaking all your plans right out of you, sticking His own well made plans in their place, and then setting them all in motion. God used some of these kids from a Christian orphanage to LOVE me more then I could have ever loved them.  They genuinely LOVE because they fully understand the love our Lord has for them and they know how to give it back to others. They LOVE.

 

SADNESS. This trip I was hit repeatedly with SADNESS. I was hit with the SADNESS of how good I have it and how badly they have it. They were so thankful for what little they have, and I sadly complain when I can’t find something to wear out of my whole closet full of clothes.  Three women quietly bowed down and kissed my dirty hand because they were so thankful for the $1 tip I gave them after they were done braiding my hair, and I’m mad when I get jyped $1 at the drive through. Now my parents and I don’t always see eye to eye and while that stinks, at least I have parents, an awesome two of them in fact. Two parents I can say I love you to every night. Some of the kids I saw and loved maybe had one parent if they were lucky. SADNESS is meant to be felt. It’s meant to be known and it helps make you stronger and more determined. It helps you grow, realize what you have, and understand. SADNESS helps you heal.

 

SPECIAL. This year I had the awesome privilege of working in a SPECIAL needs orphanage called The Gem Foundation, which was founded by my friend Emma. Before being in Uganda I hadn’t had any experience with SPECIAL needs kids. Honestly, I was a little scared … not scared of them, but scared of how it would be working with them. Would I hurt them or would they understand me? Hundreds if not thousands of questions like these were flying through my mind the first hot day we entered the orphanage. Once we entered, God immediately took away all my fears and all doubts. The kids loved just like any other kids because they are just like any other kids! They laugh, they crawl, they dance… Boy oh boy, do they dance.  I’ve always kind of wondered why kids with SPECIAL needs were called SPECIAL needs. It’s crazy how God used a trip that would take me half way around this great big world we live in to find the answer. God created these kids SPECIAL. He created them to love in a SPECIAL way.  He created them to look super cute in there own SPECIAL way. He created them in His SPECIAL image. These kids are SPECIAL no matter what difficult or harsh challenge they may face.  They have a caring Lord who loves them and that is the same loving Lord who made me, you, and all the people of the world.

 

God used this trip. God used the people of Uganda . God used the orphan.

 

To change me.

 

What’s stopping you from being changed? Pray about it. Ask God “How can I be changed ?” Tell Him, “Lord change me!” Then be open to his calling on your life and for His plans to be revealed.

LH.

 

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God’s Faithful Blessings

 

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Saying that we believe God is in control and has a reason for every trial, problem, and difficult place/time is one thing, but when we’re in those situations it’s easy to panic and act like it’s all on us to make sure it happens or we get through it.
Those are the times that we learn the most about God, but most of all how faithful he is to bring us in, and a abundantly through.

My family has had it’s bumps in life- moving, changing jobs, not having a job, and sometimes just getting enough money to pay bills and not groceries (and having seven kids!).  Those types of trials have happened all my life, and I don’t know what growing up without them would have been like.

When ever we’re in a hard spot, my parents remind us of the hundred and one times that God has provided before, and will provide again.  Sometimes it’s been a check for just the right amount of money, or making powder milk and bucket of beans last us well over a year when it should have lasted about six weeks.
He’s provided favor (multiple times, in different locations) with well known bakeries so that we could get free bread for us and others in need.  He’s provided work in the most amazing places, and some of the most healthy food you can get when we didn’t have the means.

Even when we failed to believe that He was good and faithful, He still was.

God has provided in some of the most amazing ways that no one, NO ONE could have for seen.  Through all the change and confusion, God has shown my family in a very personal way that He is faithful, and that we can only learn to be faithful from Him.  Whether faithfulness in family outreach, or in our work and simple life of bringing God His greatest glory, we have to be faithful, by learning from the most faithful being ever.

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Emunah: His Steady Hands

EMUNAH COVER

This month, we’re talking about faithfulness — a concept which, in my mind, has long been synonymous with virtues like loyalty and perseverance. Both admirable qualities, to be sure, but after doing the research to write this post, I discovered that there’s much more to the fruit of faithfulness than that. In fact I believe that whether or not we are confident in our salvation hinges on understanding it.

Let’s start by digging a little bit into the language of the Bible. Emunah is a feminine noun comprised of five hebrew characters (aleph, mem, vav, nun, and hey). It is found about fifty times scattered throughout the old testament. One example of its use is Psalm 36:5: “Thy mercy, o Lord, is in the heavens, and thy faithfulness (emunah) reacheth unto the clouds.” Figuratively it signifies security, whereas in a literal sense, it means “to be firm.” To be set, stable, true. Whenever you see the english word “faithfulness” in the old testament, emunah is usually the root word.

However the very first time we see this word in the Bible — in Exodus 17 — it is used in a seemingly different context:

Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim.  So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hands down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady (emunah) until the sun set.  So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” (v. 8-13)

Here, emunah is used to describe the steadiness of Moses’ hands when he raised them in support of God’s people, which is seen as key in their victory against the Amalekites. His perseverance — as well as the faithfulness of Aaron and Hur — literally meant the difference between prosperity and destruction for Israel.

I think this story sends a very powerful message about the positive effect that faithful prayer (the spiritual “lifting” of one another) can have on the outcome of certain situations in our lives. James 5 says that the prophet Elijah’s constant prayer even kept rain from falling, and assures us that “the prayer of a righteous person has great power.” Imagine all of the things we could see accomplished if we had that kind of attitude — if we devoted whole days to raising our hands to heaven (or making another kind of sacrifice) on someone else’s behalf. At the very least, the eyes of non-believing family members and friends could be opened to the truth of the gospel, which is an amazing thing indeed!

It’s also interesting to note that Moses is often considered a “type and shadow” of Christ Himself, given that their characters and stories bear so many similarities. Perhaps this story was a foreshadowing of the fact that Christ would someday raise up His own hands on the cross, enduring unspeakable pain (and ultimately death) so that we could win the battle against our adversary (sin). The scars on His palms are proof that with Him on our side, supporting and holding us up when our burdens and temptations become too heavy to bear, we can overcome anything. Truthfully, “the LORD is good. His kindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness (emunah) is to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5) ~

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The Unfathomable Faithfulness of God

unfathomable faithfulness

Oh the unfathomable faithfulness of God… how completely overwhelmed I am by Him. I’m going to be straight up honest with you here, God has been incredibly and visibly faithful in my life and in the lives of my family members. I am awestruck by the wonder of His majesty and love and care of His children… yet there have been many times when I’ve wondered why God has been so faithful to supply the needs my family has had over the years when others around the world are seemingly destitute. I wonder why God would seem to bless me and not others. My family doesn’t lead a glamorous life by a long shot. Our yearly income is so small most people we know just shake their heads and wonder how on earth my parents have managed to raise 7 children on such a budget. Yet we are so blessed we consider ourselves rich and completely satisfied with what He has blessed us with.

It’s incomprehensible the faithfulness God has shown my family and myself. It’s humbling. It’s challenging. It’s grace.

Growing up I sometimes took God’s activity in our lives for granted because it became so normal, so usual that I didn’t think much of it. It’s like the miracle of Almighty God looking down on us and taking care of our needs became commonplace. So much so that I started to recognize the same spirit in me that the Israelites had after they fled Egypt. That same spirit that made the people look at the bread He gave them when they were hungry and say “Ew, what is this? Heaven bread? I’m tired of it already!”

It’s that spirt that is never satisfied and content with the blessings set before us. It’s what makes us hungry for more more more.

But you know what is crazy? Despite this being a common feature in all of humanity, our Provider still provides for us. He’s still faithful.

Psalm 119:90 says this amazing thing— ”Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.” Do you get what this means? God isn’t going anywhere, He doesn’t change His mind. He sets something in place and He doesn’t shrug it off. He didn’t create us one day, say He’d take care of us and then shrug us off because we make a fuss or complain too much.

No, He’s faithful despite what we do, because it’s all about His glory and not about what we do. If it were up to us, the earth would be in a lot worse shape than it is. You see that reflected in the world today. The choices we make destroy things, sin breeds death and it shows in all that we see around us. But God had one plan from the very start, He knew that when we failed Him— His son never would. When God sent His only son to die on the cross and take on the sins of the world, it was because He loves us, yes. But it was more than all that. It was because He has this one desire: to see His name lifted high in all nations. He’s God, He can do what He wants and yet He gives us free will and the choice to worship Him or not and He still provides whether we are following Him or not.

As I look back on my short life, I see God moving in ways I never saw when I was living in that moment. So many times we take for granted how much He cares for us. I see Him working in the lives of my friends and family and it looks different than it does in mine. Our God knows us personally, He knows our every need and cry. What’s more, He’s not constrained to time and space, He sees who we were, He sees who we will become and He loves us in our now. Oh how great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father.

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

  “Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
  Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

God’s faithfulness in your life may not look like the faithfulness He shows to others. It may be He provides your every meal, it may be that He gives you the energy to do the work to earn the meal, but He’s faithful.

How has God proved faithful in your life?

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