Today we're going to get a little deeper than normal... so grab your coffee and stay a while.
I saw this on IG a few days ago from @lifelivedbeautifully and it really hit me.
Prayer is exchanging our temporary desires for GOD'S eternal vision.
That's powerful... but can we really "let go" of our desires? I've been trying to do that lately. It's certianly not easy. We all have desires for our lives, we want certain things. Health for sure... to find love and have a family...A good job and enough money to pay our bills, and then some? Peace is a big one... how about wanting our kids to be happy, healthy and find love as well? The list goes on forever right? Let me say that these aren't BAD things to want. I know most all of us want these things, right?
But life doesn't always fit inside those parameters...
My husband and I have just finished a 40 prayer challenge. It was HARD. But is was also sooooo GOOD! I highly recommend the book: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson. (Yes, I know I have been reading a lot of his books lately, but they are so great!)
I wrote in a journal each day after we read the chapter for the day and then prayed. It was such an emotional process and I'm not sure I've ever cried more in 40 days then during this challenge. But it made me realize how much we have to pray for and how important PRAYER IS! I am learning this more and more. Not just to pray for us and our kids... but for friends, for family, for co-workers, for our country, for our President, for organizations fighting evil. During these 40 days we prayed for chains to be broken, for healings to take place, for lives to be changed, for direction and clarity, for miracles to take place and for answered prayers!
And through it all it reminded me of God's sovereignty!
I got this old hymnal through Etsy and am using it for as an art & faith journal.
Be Thou my Vision... oh Lord of my heart...
So how do we get from our own wants and desires to giving them all to the Lord and wanting His WILL, His Vision?
That's the million dollar question, right?
It reminds me of the song by Hillary Scott called "Thy Will:"
One of the verses says:
It's hard to count it all joy,
distracted by the noise,
just trying to make sense,
of all your promises.
Some times I've got to stop and
remember that you are God...
and I am not.
So, Thy will be done.
Here's the beautiful video of her song:
Didn't that touch your heart? Find the video on the story behind this song that she wrote. It's powerful.
The Lord has a plan for each of us. It may look totally different than what we think it should. But we have to come to a place where we can honestly trust that His will IS best.
Let's not forget that NOTHING is impossible for God. He can heal, restore, increase... He IS the Creator and miracles are His business! But sometimes that's not in His plan.
Does that mean that He doesn't love us or is not always good?
I think you know the answer...
God is good all the time; and all the time...God is good!
You've probably heard that saying before, especially if you watched the movie God's Not Dead.
But let me remind you of a couple verses:
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
And the most important verse that shows our God's unfailing love for us:
John 3:16 "“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
I'm going to share something with you that happened this week.
If you saw my other posts this week you know that we lost a dearly loved teacher at the girls' school. Mrs. Story was such a light. She loved the Lord, loved others and gave of herself to everyone who came into her life. She was so loved and she died two days ago after a battle for her life in Paris, France after having to be taken off of a flight back home from a missionary trip to Africa over Christmas break. Our school had been praying for her for months. So many people have been. The kids are devastated and this week has been hard, I'm not going to lie. We know that she is with her Heavenly Father and she is so happy to be there! Isabella had Mrs. Story as her teacher last year and one of Isabella's teachers this year was a close friend of Mrs. Story and we were talking yesterday and she said to me "She is probably in a beautiful meadow running with lots of children in heaven..." How beautiful is that image!
But what breaks my heart...
The chapel the High School kids had the day of her death was so disheartening. I'm not sure if this was also spoken in the Middle School Chapel, but my High Schooler came home just infuriated! The pastor of the church that is associated to the school talked about how "No good can come from this."
What the what?
I'm heartbroken that these words were spoken to hundreds of kids ranging in age from 14-18 years old! This is an age group that is just forming their opinions on WHO GOD IS TO THEM! You're telling them God can't use this for GOOD? That He can't turn this tragedy into lives changed? That this can't be a catalyst for those who knew Mrs. Story to give their lives to the Lord BECAUSE of her life testimony?
Now I don't know this pastor very well and he may have just been overcome with grief and said things he regrets...
But I am so blessed by what happened next...
As my daughter was walking to her car after this chapel, she was so upset. She saw one of her friends who was also going to his car and he looked SO annoyed! She asked him what was wrong and he said he was so upset about what the pastor had just said at the chapel too! GOOD FOR THEM! I am so proud of these two young adults who saw how wrong those statements were, and wanted to do something about it! After they talked about it, this young man called the churches youth pastor and told him how he felt about the pastor's chapel! Well guess what, the next day they had another chapel... and the youth pastor talked! He was able to correct things that were said, point out the bible verses that DIRECTLY state God IS GOOD, and ALL things DO work together for GOOD, for those that love Him... ( Romans 8:28 ) and Lord willing the kids learned that the Lord loves each and every one of us and desires to show us how GOOD HE IS!
Thank you Lord for these kids who don't just listen and accept what is said, but who have the Word of God in their hearts and can filter what is said through the TRUTH written in God's Word. Amen to that!
So, how do we then get through tragedy and SEE the GOOD in it?
That's where that "Exchange program" comes into play...
I mentioned this a little bit in my last post.
It's by WORSHIP!
I'm reading a book I highly recommend you read:
"In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" by Mark Batterson
Yup, that guy again. I promise I read other authors... hahaha
I'm only on chapter 5 and I have to say this book is "perspective changing!" I say that because that's where the change needs to be! Our perspective in life.
Chapter 4 REALLY got to me.
He talks about Paul and Silas in jail from the story in Acts 16. They are doing ALL this work for the Kingdom of God and what do they get? Landed in JAIL!?! Their circumstances are about as dire as you can get. I don't know about you, but I'd be pretty bent out of shape at that point! But what do we read in verse 25?
"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them..."
That's probably not what I would have been doing.
But guess what? Paul & Silas WERE, and BECAUSE they were WORSHIPING the Lord they were "zooming out of their external circumstances and REFOCUSING on the BIG picture." I love that quote from Mark in Chapter 4!
Like Mark Batterson says:
We need to "zoom out" and WORSHIP.
"Don't let what's wrong with YOU keep you from worshiping what IS right with God."
Stop focusing on what is wrong. Make the choice to worship God... in spite of external circumstances!
I know... this isn't easy to do. I am learning this daily and I think it may be a life long lesson we are learning. "But it is one of the purest forms of worship to praise God IN THIS STORMS of life, because it proves that your worship isn't CIRCUMSTANTIAL."
Oh boy.. that is a zinger. Mark... you got me there!
Am I "praising" the Lord when all is good? Sure I am! But am I still praising and worshiping Him when life sucks? When cancer comes back to a loved one? When you have a bill to pay and not enough money to cover it? When you watch your child in pain and don't know what to do about it? We've all had these "circumstances" in our lives. I'm not so sure I can say that I praised Him every time something like this has happened in my life.
But Paul & Silas were worshipers. Their hands and feet may have been chained, but no-one could chain their spirit!
Its a CHOICE we have to make. We can choose to complain... or worship.
As Mark says in Chapter 4 "Your internal attitudes are far more important than your external circumstances. Joy is MIND OVER MATTER. Worship REFRAMES our problems and refocuses our lives. It helps us get through bad days by reminding us of how good God is. And when you are WORSHIPFUL, your eyes are more open to notice the miracles that are happening all around you, all the time."
"One way or the other, your FOCUS determines your reality. The outcome of your life will be determined by your OUTLOOK on life."
There is so much more just in this Chapter! so go get the book, and read it.
I WANT to be the person that WORSHIPS the LORD in ALL circumstances.
Let us Sing songs of Praise: Psalm 97:1-6
1 The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;
let the many coastlands be glad!
2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3 Fire goes before him
and burns up his adversaries all around.
4 His lightnings light up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth.
6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all the peoples see his glory.
Worship is KEY.
I love Romans 1 where Paul is so thankful. So thankful for the people the Lord brought into his life through sharing the Gospel with them. So thankful FOR the Gospel. That he is NOT ashamed of the gospel... and that Jesus is his EVERYTHING! That is WORSHIP.
I want that to be my mantra! Thankful. That Jesus IS my all and all. That I can worship Him in every circumstance! And that I can share what He has done in my life with others.
Going through the "40 Day Prayer Challenge" has been a journey. I think part of why I cried so much is just hearing the stories in the book of other peoples faith! GIANT FAITH. Amazing things happen when you give ALL of you to the Lord. When you ask the Lord to give you HIS VISION for your life. He so greatly wants you to step into His plan for your life. No matter what pain you have had, no matter how many "bad days" you have had. No matter the circumstances your life has journeyed...
He can RECYCLE that pain to HELP OTHERS.
I have seen this over and over again. I think of present day hero's like Victor Marx and his All Things Possible Ministry. God used such tragic circumstances in his life to eventually help so many people, to this day! God is Good people! And he has a way to "recycle our pain for someone else's gain."
I was talking to my daughter about this recently. Sometimes the Lord allows us to go through the "bad days" to appreciate the "good days" and to let Him USE them for His glory!
What about you?
What adversity have you been through? Can you turn it into your ministry?
I am convinced that the Lord CAN & DOES & DESIRES for us to turn our adversity into our ministry!
"God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." From In the Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day"
And that gives me SO. MUCH. HOPE.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23
I pray that we can all "exchange" our desires for the Lord's VISION for our lives!
That we can have hope that through ALL of it... the good, the bad and everything in between... He is working things out for our Good! That He can restore us, fill us with hope and use us to help His vision be fulfilled!
Here are a few points that Mark Batterson ends Chapter 4 with:
- We should stop asking God to get us out of difficult circumstances and start asking Him what He wants to get out of those difficult circumstances.
- Prayer is less about changing our circumstances and more about changing our perspective.
- God wants us to learn to see bad experiences through the good we have gained from them.
- God is in the business of recycling our pain and using it for someone else's gain.
Please remember this:
The Lord IS good.
Let Him work in your life to help you see that good.
"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" Psalm 34:8
Have a beautiful day,
P.S. Tomorrow I promise to be a LOT lighter! We just got the video back from our daughters wedding and I'm going to try and post it here!!