See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way
in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
While listening to a video some weeks ago, I was intrigued by a story the speaker told of a man and his father. They were avid fans of the Chicago Cubs baseball team and as a child, they would listen to games, watch them on television, even visit games together. However, for years the Cubs had failed to reach the World Series. One day they made a pledge that not if, but when, the Cubs managed to reach the World Series again they would listen to the game together. Years later in 2016, the Cubs finally made it to the World Series. Unfortunately, the boy had grown up and was now living in another State far away from his father. But, that did not stop him. He made his way from Indiana all the way back to North Carolina because he was determined to keep his pledge. When he got there, he did not make his way to his childhood home but made his way instead to his father’s grave. You see, a few years before this phenomenal event, his father had passed away. Yet, in spite of this - the greatest obstacle of all to his being able to keep his pledge - he still went, set up a chair by his father’s grave, put on his phone and they listened to the game together. He had kept his pledge.
To some of us this would seem silly, foolish, to keep a pledge under the circumstances. But to this young man, keeping his promise was that important. That’s the kind of attitude even our God has. No matter what, He keeps His end of the bargain. Remember last week I had spoken about my season of being backslidden, when I had moved away from God. As I faced the ups and downs of that challenging time, I realized in retrospect that my God had not moved; He not gone anywhere, I was the one who had moved. God’s love for me NEVER stopped, His care for me NEVER dwindled, in fact He remained very steadfast and immoveable. He continued to keep His end of the bargain, His end of our covenant even when I had broken mine.
His Word says that He is married to the backslider and that is exactly the picture portrayed in the book of Hosea. God asked the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute to exemplify His relationship with His people Israel (Hosea 1:1-2). Hosea’s wife was unfaithful to him yet God encouraged him to go after her, to give her another chance, in short to keep his end of the bargain even though she was not keeping hers (Hosea 3:1-3). It was painful, it was embarrassing, but he obeyed God because he had to show the people by his example how much God loved them in spite of their unfaithfulness.
The young man in the story faced two challenges to keeping his pledge: one, it was years later and he had moved far away from home but two – and this is the most challenging obstacle of them all – his father had died. His father was not there and was therefore not in a position to keep his end of the bargain but that did not stop his son. He was alive, he was more than able to keep his pledge ... and he did. Think about how many times we mess up but God strangely enough is still there. We may feel as if He is so far away but in reality He is right there, faithful, caring, forgiving, loving. Isaiah 54:10 says: “‘For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has mercy on you.” I don’t know who this is for but God has not changed His mind about you. No matter how much you may have messed up, no matter how long you have been ignoring His call, God has not given up on you. He is keeping His promise to love you, take care of you, forgive you. God is serious about relationship even when we are not. He is serious about you even when you are not serious about Him. Once you are alive there is always a chance, even ten chances, to come to Him.
God says in Jeremiah 31:3: “...Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” So, no matter how things look, no matter what you do, no matter what seems to be happening to you, no matter if He seems to be taking long to answer, just remember that God has not given up on you. His plans for you are still good plans, His thoughts toward you are still precious thoughts because His love for you will never fail, it will never change, it remains the same.
If you have not asked Jesus Christ to come into your life as your Lord and Savior I encourage you to do so now. God is not turned off by all your mistakes and flaws, or even by how many times you mess up. God is still going to be God no matter what you do or fail to do. He is God all by Himself and His love for you is NOT dependent on you but on who He is.
I watched a video this week about a couple who were involved in a vehicular accident. When I saw the title of the video I wasn’t in the mood for a sad story because I wasn’t sure they had survived but I decided to watch to see what it was all about.
They were driving along at 75 miles per hour when the truck drifted off the road and slammed into a pillar. The truck was reduced to a mangled heap and the couple lay trapped inside. The young man’s girlfriend in the passenger seat turned and saw that his head had gone through the windscreen and that he was motionless. She started screaming in an effort to alert some help in an area that seemed deserted. Suddenly, she saw a man on the road outside smiling at her. She believed that he was her guardian angel. He told her that an ambulance was coming, and she felt assured that they were going to be alright. At the hospital, they received a few stitches, had slight concussions, no internal injuries and in less that 48 hours were released from the hospital. When they returned to the crash site they found the young man’s bible open with scripture verses highlighted, encouraging them to not be afraid, Jesus was with them.
The paramedics were amazed that they did not die instantly and when you look at the picture of their mangled truck even you would wonder how in the world they possibly survived. The young woman understood that it was certainly God and that He has a plan and purpose for their lives. She knew that it could have been worse, that the force of the impact could have severed their bodies but God did not allow that to happen. She acknowledged that God had guided her boyfriend to direct the vehicle in such a way that ended up saving their lives. She gives God all the credit knowing that if it were not for God they would not have survived.
After looking at this video I felt so in awe of the God I serve. He is indeed the God of the impossible. I felt immense hope for impossible situations in my own life. In the book of Jeremiah, God asked the prophet: “Is there anything too hard for me?” This question arose after God told him to purchase some land although they were about to be taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. If they were going to be taken captive by their enemies and their land destroyed, why would God ask him to purchase a field? It did not make any sense that in the face of certain disaster God would give such an instruction. But He did because He knew that they would one day return to their land (Jeremiah 32:1-15, 26-27).
Sometimes to us a situation seems so hopeless, like it’s the end of our story but then God steps in and assures us that it isn’t. When that couple looked at the remains of their truck, they knew that that should have been the end of their story, but it wasn’t because God had a different plan for them. He even allowed them to go through that traumatic experience just for them to experience Him in a greater way. As the young woman admitted afterwards, she would go through that accident again if it meant helping more people know God. They are both thankful for the experience because they got to see God’s love and faithfulness to them.
I remember when I was backslidden. Like that truck I had veered off course and didn’t even realize it at first. I was heading in a direction that was not God’s plan for my life. I was consequently battling with depression and was confused wondering why I was feeling that way. I finally realized the reason ... I had moved away from God and was acutely feeling at times the disconnect. I finally returned to the Lord but I had battles to face. It was a beautiful time in the Lord but I was also battling feelings of inadequacy, discouragement, suicidal thoughts and having to deal with struggles in the flesh. I may have been looking alright on the outside but at times the battles made me feel all messed up and hopeless on the inside. However, the more I spent time with God in prayer, fasting and reading His Word, gradually the battles got less and less. The suicidal thoughts and desires finally completely left along with various battles in the flesh that I was struggling with. My mangled mess didn’t get straightened out right away. It took years of consistently pursuing God and learning to trust and obey Him. Just like that couple I thank God for my mangled mess because I can use it to encourage others in the Lord and as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to me during those times when I didn’t even deserve it.
God has the final say. No matter what comes our way, when we put our lives in God’s hands, He will craft the perfect story for us. It does not mean, however, a course free from sin, discouragement, hurt, suffering or failure. It does mean though that our Way Maker is there with us making a way through every challenge, every test that comes our way. As the Bible aptly says, “With men it is impossible but not with God, for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).
I invite you to ask Jesus Christ to come into your life if you have not done so already. I cannot promise you a life without any messes along the way but I can promise you a God who will ensure that your story is crafted exactly the way it should be according to His perfect plan for your life; a story where you will be able to look back and say “it was well worth it!”
Yesterday I watched a Bible Study on YouTube that dealt with the reality that God truly cares about us. I felt truly encouraged and motivated and as I thought about what to write to you today, I am reminded of the movie I shared on last week, based on a true story and entitled: “Blue Miracle.” This week, as I focus on the same movie, I’m able to see God’s loving care displayed throughout. The man and his wife struggled to take care of these boys some of whom faced abuse and ill-treatment in foster care before finally finding a home in their orphanage, “Casa Hogar.” The man himself, lost his father as a young boy and knew what it was like to live on very unsafe and violent streets. So, he could more than understand these boys' need for genuine love and care.
Unfortunately, sometimes, even when we do good for others it does not mean that life will go smoothly for us. We do good and bad things seem to happen. They provided a safe and loving environment for these boys but financially it was tough. Food was not always easy to come by to feed so many and sometimes the boys complained because of the type of food they had to eat. On top of that, a hurricane came and flooded the building and did some damage. As if that wasn’t enough, the bank was on their case.
I think many times in our life, we seem to face challenge after challenge. We go through seasons where we barely get through one situation and another pops up. We feel as if we can’t catch a break. It is then some may wonder, “God, where are You?” This was probably how this man felt. Yet, as I recall this movie I realize one key thing: God had never left him. He had given his heart to the Lord years before so he knew God and God was right there all along taking care of him and his large family. At the right time, just when the bank was close to taking their property, God sent an unhappy, rude fisherman as an answer to prayer. Let me just say here, never underestimate who or what God will use to answer your prayer. He can use anyone or anything to accomplish His perfect will. This same rude, uncouth gentleman had a story and a need of his own. God wasn’t just taking care of one man and his situation, He was using them both to meet each other’s need. Through this partnership in a three-day fishing competition, not only did the orphanage receive the money it needed to stay open, but the fisherman was motivated to reunite with his son living in another state and be a father to his own “orphan.”
I could divert a bit here to the story of Ruth. Her mother-in-law, Naomi, and her family left Bethlehem to go to the country of Moab – an idolatrous nation - to escape the famine in their own land. Unfortunately, Naomi’s husband and two sons died leaving Naomi and her two Moabite daughters-in-law widows (Ruth 1:1-5). In desperation, Naomi returned home to Bethlehem and one of her daughters-in-law, Ruth, went with her. She was so bitter that she asked not to be called “Naomi” but “Mara” because she felt that the Lord had dealt bitterly with her (Ruth 1:15-22). This woman had faced loss, pain and disappointment. She felt overwhelmed. Yet, God in His mercy and love for her had not given up on her. He used this same Moabitess, from an idolatrous nation, to change Naomi’s fallen condition to one of hope and prosperity. Ruth even became part of Jesus’ bloodline (Matthew 1:5-16). Throughout this entire ordeal, God had never left or abandoned Naomi. He loved her and cared enough to restore her and prosper her in her latter days (Ruth 4:13-17).
God cares. Even though He allows negative things to come our way, He cares. The negative things are not to remind us that we are not good enough, that we are rejected or that we are deserving of the bad that has come along. When you think about it, it’s actually an opportunity for God to prove Himself to us. If everything were great we would never get to see God’s goodness, or His mercy or His love or even His ability to be our superhero and handle totally impossible situations. When tough times come, God wants us to see that He is tougher, more able and stronger than anything that comes our way.
I remember going through - and still going through - many tough seasons in my own life’s journey, when I felt like I was going through not just hell alone but hell AND a flood!!! Yet, I not only survived but I saw first-hand how God took care of me, kept me from losing my mind and used me to encourage and comfort and inspire others also going through. I have learned to thank God not just in spite of but FOR the problems. Why? Because I saw the good that came out of them and with each problem I face I know that God will see me through. I am His beloved, His special and precious daughter and He has promised me that He will never leave me or forsake me. Yes, sometimes IT IS TOUGH!!! But with my God it’s not impossible. There are times when I feel overwhelmed but God with His absolutely perfect timing, sends a person, a word, a song, a tangible blessing - just the right encouragement He knows I need to take me to the next level, to see me through another day, another challenge... God knows, God cares, and He may not take the problem away immediately or stop it from coming your way but He will cover you, shield you, protect you, love you, keep you and when the time is right, use you for His honour and glory!
God. Cares. About. You.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, don’t wait any longer, just do it. In a world filled with darkness, hopelessness and pain, give God a chance to just love you and care for you like no other. Stop looking for love in all the wrong places and let God be the love and the hope that you need and so desperately desire.
As the captain of the ship went back inside, the man knew exactly what he had to do. He watched the huge fish strapped to the back of the boat hidden from view. This was his chance to save his orphanage; this was his chance to secure a place for his boys so that they would never have to go back to their lives of hurt and pain. He could see no other way. To win some money in that fishing competition they had to take this marlin, sold to the captain the day before, and lie and tell the judges that they had caught it themselves. The boys would never know, his wife would never know... He pulled his hand out of his pocket and saw a tiny dot of blood. What had pricked him? It was the nail he had given one of the young boys. He had told him that once he wrote his prayer down on a piece of paper and nailed it to the wall with this nail, God would answer his prayer. Suddenly, he knew exactly what to do...
I recently watched the above movie entitled, “Blue Miracle.” It was based on the true story about an orphanage called, “Casa Hogar” in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The man and his wife who ran it, tried their best to help young boys who had lived tough and painful lives by providing a safe and loving place for them to call home. Unfortunately, things were tough and soon they were so much in debt with the bank that closing the orphanage seemed the only option. But, thanks to a prayer, written by one of his young boys and nailed to a wall, they were offered the opportunity to enter a three-day fishing competition and if they won would receive money to help with their debt. However, on the third day, and with no hope of winning, cheating became a viable option. But, once again, thanks to that nail and its reminder to him of what it represented, that option was thrown out and God came through for them. Not only did they win, but instead of dividing the prize money between themselves and the captain, the latter decided to give his portion to save the orphanage. Their debt was covered and there was extra!
This story truly caught my attention, because it was a story of faith and trust in God in the most dire of circumstances; about doing the right thing, doing things God’s way in the midst of tough situations. When the man made the choice to go God’s way, God honored him by helping them to catch a fish with which they were able to win the competition. But what was the miracle? On the first day, they almost caught a marlin but it got away. Superstition dictated that there was no way another such opportunity would come their way again ... hence the need to cheat. God allowed the temptation to come and the man had to make the choice. What I like about God is that He helps us especially in the face of temptation. He didn’t remove the temptation but provided something that he knew would catch the man’s attention and help turn him on the right path.
That’s the kind of thing God does for us. He knows our hearts; He knows our desire to do right and that sometimes it’s just downright difficult. So, He sends help. It’s usually up to us though to respond to the help He sends or to ignore it. When the man made the choice not to cheat, he was sure he had lost the orphanage but he accepted it and tried to encourage his boys to be strong and accept it as well. They were heartbroken but doing this competition God’s way was more important. God did not let them down and He honored this sacrificial act.
I think of Joseph faced with the opportunity to sleep with his master’s wife. His master may never have found out and he could have gotten away with it. But he chose to honor his God instead and do the right thing (Genesis 39:7-9). Years later, because he consistently chose to live a life of honor before God and man, God in turn honored him by promoting him to a position second to that of Pharaoh. Even David time and again was faced with the temptation to handle situations the wrong way. He was being chased by his master, King Saul, but even when he had the opportunity to kill him he chose not to do it (1 Samuel 24:10). When faced with the unkind, harsh treatment of a rich man, Nabal, he was tempted to kill him and all the men of his household. Fortunately, he listened to the advice of Nabal’s wife who reminded him that God had a good future for him. God in turn killed Nabal (1Samuel 25:2-39). David did not have to lift a finger to remove his enemy. Years later, God placed David on the throne as king of Israel.
That’s the kind of God we serve. I remember once being faced with the temptation to respond unkindly in the face of what I felt was unfair treatment. In the opinion of some I’m sure, or even many, I would have been justified. But I felt God speak to me very clearly telling me not to sabotage anyone. It was not easy doing the right thing but I did it with God’s help and He built my character in the process. In turn, I watched God handle my situation better than I could have done myself.
God doesn’t need our help to handle impossible situations but we need His. The choice to live life God’s way will always be fraught with challenges and temptation. But once we choose to honor God by the choices we make He will come through for us and He will do even greater things than we could have ever imagined.
Do you want to live a life of honor, a life even you can be proud of? I invite you to ask Jesus Christ to come into your life now. Allow Him to give you the strength for every challenge, every temptation that will come your way. You can’t stop it, but you can lean on the God who will give you the strength to walk away...
This blog provides inspirational nuggets inspired by the Word of God and serves to encourage and motivate Christians in their Christian walk.