Faltering Steps: How to Walk by Faith

 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. Romans 7:15, 19-20 NIV

I know what I need to do. It isn’t that I don’t know what to do. I just don’t do it. I don’t control my temper, wake up early (when I know God has called me to do so), use my time wisely. I keep doing what I do not want to do. I struggle and it kills me. I hate what I am doing. I HATE it.

I hate the sin that lives in me. This morning I hit snooze for an hour, excusing my behavior by citing the time I got in bed last night. I let harsh words roll off my tongue, words that were not necessary. I excused them by pointing out someone else’s behavior.

I don’t fall from my ancestors Adam and Eve do I?

I cry out with Paul:

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Romans 7:24 NIV

I keep stumbling, my steps falter. I begin with the desire to please God and I make a mess of it. I seriously set my alarm every morning for an hour I would prefer to sleep through and I pray I will get up. And I rarely do it…I make plans to take deep breaths and respond instead of reacting. I know how to cool myself off before I allow words that cut fly from my mouth. Still almost daily there is someone I wound with words.

So how do I walk by faith when all I seem to do is stumble? Who will save me from this body of sin and death?

Paul has the answer.

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.  Romans 7:25 NIV

Jesus. He saved me and He sent the Holy Spirit to live in me. He makes it possible for me to walk by the Spirit. To live a life that pleases God. So this stumbling sinful woman will get back up strengthened by the Spirit and take another step and another. And whether I falter or I finally walk a few steps firm in the faith, God is there. He forgives, He encourages, He corrects, He guides, He loves.

How do you walk by faith even when faltering?

Angela

The Incessant Drip: How to Stay Sane with All the Things

“There is another leak,” my husband looked up to the ceiling and back down to the floor near his feet. A drop of water ran down our yellow walls.

He raced to turn the water off at the meter. I crutched after him and helped him dig through mulch and mud to find the shut-off valve.

That makes six leaks in less than a year and no one can tell us why nine-year-old copper pipes keep leaking. The only answer to keep our belongings and house safe is to re-pipe…the whole house.

My heart squeezed tight because who wants to repipe a house? And who wants to deal with sheet rock dust right before Thanksgiving when family is coming to visit? And recovering from foot surgery and……

But God…

When I slow down and look for His hand under the incessant drip of things like leaks, minor health issues, and repairmen who “remember my house” something happens. I find little things for which to thank God.

We live on a pier and beam foundation making re-piping easier.

All the leaks were found before they caused any horrible damage.

My schedule is more flexible because I cannot drive (foot injury), so there are fewer scheduling conflicts with repairmen.

This is a first world problem.

Somehow gratitude refocuses my mind. I am able to slow my wildly beating heart and stop the twitching above my right eye because I see God at work. I see His plan in the midst of the wild and crazy.

God uses gratitude to change my thoughts and soon my attitude changes too. I begin to see the ridiculousness in the situations. I see people as complex individuals who need grace just like me. I realize that my irritations are mine and I get to decide how to respond to them if I choose not to react. I can tell all the crazy things that seem to need my attention now to wait a minute. In those precious moments I can take a deep breath and choose how to respond.

When I slow down to respond I can also acknowledge that all the things are stressful. That it is ok to feel a bit out of whack and overwhelmed. Then I can focus to figure out what is the next thing. The one thing I need to do now to take care of all the things. And then I can focus on the next and the next. Suddenly all the things while still big and looming are manageable. I have a plan of attack and with slow and steady progress I will handle them.

All because I took a second to look for God’s hand, to express gratitude for what He is doing. Staying in sane in the incessant drip requires us to slow down, look around, and thank God for He is good.

What do you do to help manage all the things in your life?

Angela

When Words Are Not Enough: How to Support Those Walking Dark Roads

It doesn’t make sense. At least not this side of heaven.

Cancer stealing years from folks who live and love well while rapists continue their lust for power and flesh.

Infertility leaving wombs and arms empty while others abandon and abuse their children.

Addiction powerfully pulling its prey away from work, family, friends.

A momentary lapse of judgment, a text message flashes, and a fatal crash tears apart a family.

Depression wins a victory and a family is left with one empty chair.

There are dark paths in this life when questions ring louder than answers and grief marks every step. Where words do little to soothe aching souls and there is no perfect way to tie up the darkness in a beautiful present.

How do we support people walking down paths of indescribable grief?

  1. Text, call, e-mail, and pray. Don’t wait for the one who is struggling to reach out to you. They cannot see beyond the darkness of their path so reach out to them. Let them know you are praying for them. Ask them if you can bring them a meal or take them for coffee. Find some way to help lighten their load.
  2. Admit you don’t know what to say. It is ok to not have the answers. It is ok to say I am sorry. I am grieving with you. We may be clumsy in our encouragement, but better clumsy than not at all.
  3. Refrain from offering trite answers. God’s promises are comforting, but in the midst of the blackness of some paths they can also burn like acid. Be aware that reminding folks God will work everything out for good may not be appropriate. Pray for wisdom. Let the one walking the dark paths guide the discussion.
  4. Pray they experience God’s nearness and comfort. In the darkness it is easy to lose sight of God’s nearness. Still God is the God of all comfort. So pray they experience God’s nearness and comfort in the midst of the darkness.
  5. Encourage them to wrestle with God. Much of Lamentations and Psalms are just that. People wondering where God is in the midst of difficult times. People asking God how long He will wait, where is He, and yet reminding themselves to hope in God. While in the darkness if we cling to God we can hear His still small voice whispering words of hope, correction, promise, and encouragement.
  6. Please don’t look to them for comfort. Often we feel the grief of those walking dark paths so strongly that we bring our questions and tears to them. Please cry with them, but do not force them to become comforters in their grief.

What has helped you as you have walked dark paths?

Angela

How Do You Love a God Who is Able, But May Not?

It is a wonderful thing to know that God is omnipotent. It means that every seemingly impossible circumstance is not hopeless. Miracles can happen. Things can change.

But God’s ways are mysterious. He isn’t simply a divine vending machine.

“I go to church every Sunday, I tithe, and I even went on that mission trip two years ago. Plus I said that prayer and I pushed the Mark 9:23 ESV (“…All things are possible for the one who believes.”)

Instead He is a God who is able to heal diseases – infertility, cancer, mental illnesses, etc. He is able and yet sometimes He does not. Sometimes He leaves us barren, let’s cancer finish its work, and leaves minds broken.

How do we love this God who could change our circumstances, but does not?

We have to trust that He has a plan and purpose in our difficult situation. While our arms ache to hold a child and our wombs remain empty we have to believe God knows what is best. When cancer ravages the bodies of those we love or mental illness darkens our relationships with friends and family we have to cling to God’s promises.

We know that God works all things for good for those who love Him. Romans 8:28

We must trust that no matter our circumstances they will not overtake us for God is with us. Isaiah 43:2

We we must take our stand with our community of believers helping support us along the way.

We can stand with Job and say, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him…” Job 13:15a ESV

We must say with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “Our God is able…, but even if He doesn’t we won’t bow down to anything else…” (paraphrase of Daniel 3:17-18)

There in the waters of adversity God is with us.

In the floods of grief God strengthens us.

In the midst of whys so big and seemingly unjust God is who He has always been – a mighty Creator, a loving Father, a wise King, an omniscient God…

How do we love God when we don’t understand why He seems so quiet, why He doesn’t do a miracle for us?

We remember who He is, we cling to His promises when we don’t understand, and we trust His ways are better than ours.

Friends, if you are suffering from infertility and have so many unanswered questions, I have started a Facebook group for you. Would you join me here? It will be a place of support of encouragement and prayer as you walk this journey. I’d love to have you join me by clicking here.

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Angela