In these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to rest in God’s word. This week, we find ourselves in Psalm 33 and 34 with verses such as these:
“Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You.” (Ps. 33:20-22)
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps. 34:18)
Friends, our God is bigger than any virus. This did not take him by surprise. We can be assured that God is still God and He is still good, even as we face these weird days of uncertainty. One thing remains: God is faithful to accomplish all that He’s established.
How often does it feel like the whole world is not only against you but reveling in your defeat? The psalmist, David, understood those feelings but also knew and declared the truth of who God is and who God says we are meant to be.
“Oh God, You are my God, I shall seek You earnestly;
my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
– Psalm 63:1
Word of the Year
At the end of 2019, I did what so many of us do – I reflected. I thought about what I’d accomplished in the year as well as the ways I’d grown and the many areas in life where I hadn’t achieved quite what I’d set out to do.
There’s been a trend for some time now for people to choose a word that will be their focus for the year. Sometimes it’s simply a word that a person chooses based on what they hope to accomplish, while some people seek God to give them a word. I’ve sought God in this process multiple times over the years but it seems like He wasn’t super keen on my approach. It’s equally possible that I just wasn’t being a good listener. It’s a problem I sometimes have. Can I get a witness?
This year, as I moaned and groaned to God about why He never gives me a word for the year (please tell me I’m not alone in sounding like a whiny kid when I talk to God), He answered. And man…how.
Standing in the shower, I felt a spiritual gut-punch like I’ve not often felt. And the word “Enough” hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew, hands down, that God was giving me exactly what I’d been begging for: a word to focus on.
Here’s how I knew: I’d spent the bulk of 2019 comparing myself with every other person around me. I compared myself to other podcasters, writers, speakers, musicians, needlework designers – all the fields I’m a part of. Daily I was feeding on everyone else’s success and instead of rejoicing with them in their victories, their accomplishments were rotting in my heart and festering into an emotional bile that left me feeling more bitter than blessed by being surrounded by people that are walking in their gifts with grace and purpose.
That day in the shower, this is the conclusion I felt like God was bringing me to: I, Brandy, am enough. The call that God has placed on my life is enough. The talents He has given me and the ability He’s given me to grow those talents, is enough. The arena He’s put me in, no matter its shape or size is enough. And above all…He is Enough.
Thus began my year of Enough.
Enough is Enough
But Friends, we are in February and I am here to tell you, that when God gives you a thing to focus on, He won’t quit just because you think you’ve learned the lesson. If that were the case, I’d have been good two weeks into January when all of the above truths were affirmed at a women’s worship night I attended at a local church.
Instead, here’s where we are now, God and I.
After my shower revelation, aka Holy Spirit gut-punch, I sat down and made a plan to read through the Bible in a year. Mind you, I’ve done this before, though not in some time. Not only is reading through the Bible a good practice to develop but it also seemed like a really sound way to be reminded of all the ways God is faithful and how He truly is Enough. So, I did some research, found the Bible reading plan I wanted to use, transferred January’s reading into my faith journal where my plan was to keep track of reading, my prayers and gratitude, as well as write Sunday sermon notes and a little reflection at the end of every week. It all seemed so simple.
Until January 4th hit. There was nothing special about that particular day. I just didn’t read. No big deal…I can make that up easily on the 5th. Oops…..well…. Now it’s January 12, I have 9 days of reading to do and listen…I do NOT have time for that!
Less than 2 weeks in and I’d already failed miserably. Again.
In fact, the only part of my faith journal that I’ve managed to be consistent with up to now is keeping my sermon notes. For some reason, finding – or rather making – the time to sit down and read my Bible for 15-20 minutes a day has been impossibly difficult. So much so, that here we are nearly done with February and I’m still working on finishing January’s reading. Oy vey.
Give Lent a Chance
But…yesterday marked the first day of Lent. Now, I’m not a Catholic and have never been very big on the kinds of traditional observances of our more liturgical brethren, but this year I attended our church’s Ash Wednesday service and decided to give Lent a try while I reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made on my behalf so that I could know God intimately and eternally.
Once again, I found myself in the shower whining to God about what to give up for Lent. (God probably wishes I didn’t shower so much as I seem to get very needy then). I went through a litany of things I could give up: TV time. No. Soda. Nope. Listening to podcasts. What??? Social Media. Uh-uh. The list went on and on and my heels dug in.
Finally, after days of praying and considering, I landed on the thing. I’m giving up my time.
What does that even mean?
Giving Up and Gaining More
I’ll tell ya. It means that instead of jumping right into work before I’ve even gotten dressed (working from home is a blessing and a curse), or rather than watching YouTube for an hour while I cross stitch because that’s my therapy or any of the other million distractions I can find, I am devoting 40 minutes for 40 days over to God.
Here’s what that looks like for me: Given that my work mostly keeps me in front of a computer all day, I am lacing up my sneakers, grabbing my earbuds and phone and taking a stroll through our neighborhood while I listen to an audio Bible app. Three birds; one stone. I get physical exercise, God’s word seeps into my heart, and I might…might…even get caught up on my Bible reading plan.
If I want to fully understand what it means for me to be enough and more importantly what it means for God to be enough, I have to spend time hearing from God. I have to see the myriad ways He has been enough to millions of people before me, how His faithfulness is certain and that no matter what storms life may throw at me, God is a safe refuge for me to trust in.
What about You? Is there anything you’ve decided to let go of during this season of Lent? What about your resolutions? Are you keeping them? Tell me how I can pray for you – I’d be honored to lift you up before our God.
We raise statues, monuments, and headstones to commemorate those we’ve lost and victories won. But what about the memorials and monuments to remember what God has done?
Join Matt and Brandy as they look at some of the Old Testament monuments that the Israelites erected. They’ll also explore different monuments we have and can find in our own lives in order to be reminded of God’s faithfulness.
Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. He said to the sons of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall inform your children saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ “For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which he dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.
We had her visit planned for a few weeks. It was set for right between her birthday and mine. Immediately, I knew the first thing I wanted to do when she got here. Something I’d been wanting to do for years with her, it just never seemed to work out.
Go to Hobby Lobby.
Okay, that was first on my list of Things To Do With Mom, but a close second was to get her into the studio to record an interview with her.
So that’s what we did.
Join us as we talk about mothers and daughters, the generational differences between her, myself and my daughter and then the legacy of faith she gave to our family.
She walks us through the night she met Jesus and how that encounter changed everything. A short time later, my brother and I followed suit and within two years, our whole family was going to church together.
If you’re going to leave something behind for your children, make sure it’s more precious than silver or gold.
“For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting
and His faithfulness to all generations.”
– Psalm 100:5
This last Sunday a remarkable thing happened. I worshiped at my home church.
Admittedly, this doesn’t sound like such a big deal. But wait…. This was the church building I grew up in, the one I helped pound nails into when I was a little kid. The very building that I watched grow from a tree covered plot of land to a log church at the base of Mt. Hood.
Still, why is that remarkable?
Twenty years ago that church, along with two other churches in the area, decided to have a marriage, so to speak. Three churches became one.
Folks, church merges happen all the time. That’s nothing new. What’s exceptionally rare is when those merges work out.
That’s what happened in this case. Matt and I had already married and moved to Utah so I didn’t get to witness this marriage first-hand, but I heard the good news from family and friends.
And this last Sunday we had a 20-year anniversary reunion to celebrate it all.
Here’s the super cool thing: in that celebration, I got to see people I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. I got to see men and women, now gray and starting to show the effects of age, who helped shape and mold my life as a young believer. It was a beautiful collage of people from varied walks and backgrounds all converging in one place to raise their voices to praise the God who unites us as a family.
But there were several people who weren’t there.
There are those who, like my dad and my former pastor, have already gone to be with the Lord. There were also those missing who had only recently passed away, the wounds still raw from their sudden and early departure. There were those, too, who are coming to the end of their days, their health preventing them from making the trip to join us for such an occasion.
It was a beautiful picture of the Now and the Not Yet.
It was a reminder of the faithfulness of our God who unabashedly pursues us.
I was 7 years old when I asked Jesus to come into my heart and take me to Heaven if I died. I had no idea what I was signing up for. All I knew was that the people around me seemed different and I wanted what they had. I didn’t know it then, but it was hope and joy. They had a confidence that drew me in, wrapping me up in its warm embrace.
In the years that followed that child’s prayer, I continued to watch the older kids and adults that filled my days. I listened to their conversations about their faith and understanding of who God is; I watched as they struggled to put into practice the ideals that the Bible teaches. I saw God’s characteristics being manifested in my family, my youth leaders, my mentors and people who didn’t even know I was watching them.
And little by little, my own faith began to take shape and grow. I had my own struggles and battles to overcome, along with shining moments and clear victories. All the while, there were a handful of adults, wiser and more generous than I, who remained faithful to pray for me as I learned to spread my wings. They came along quietly but boldly, challenging my thinking and encouraging my faith.
In ways big and small, they helped me become the woman I am today. They were gentle and compassionate, full of grace and truth. Without their prayers and willingness to invest in a spiritually clumsy, selfish, and often impetuous kid, it’s impossible to say where I might be now!
As we sang together on Sunday, I closed my eyes and let the music wash over everything. The little church was packed tight and the voices filled it to the rafters with a sweet, sweet sound. And as I looked around afterward and saw the faces of the young and the old, families who were all together from the tiniest babe to the grayest of grays, it was evident that God has indeed been faithful through the generations.
I walked away that day with a sense of awe at how loved by God I am. He has welcomed us each to the table and calls us sons and daughters. He has lavished us with His love and grace. He has gifted us with people to share life with; people that can cheer us on and prod us forward. He has called us to be the same for somebody else.
We are the luckiest people in the world! We are part of the biggest, most inclusive, mixed up, eclectic family. How cool is that?
Who are you investing in? Is there someone in your sphere who needs a spiritual big brother or sister? What are you doing to show them Jesus? If there isn’t anyone like this in your life, why?
I’m just saying…somebody’s watching you. Whether you know it (or want it) or not, if you’ve publicly called yourself a follower of Christ, you are being observed. What are people seeing?
I don’t know about you, but I want to keep this cycle going. I want to sit in church someday with my own children’s children on my lap, knowing that they, too, are being taught the love and truth of a faithful God.
(P.S. To my mountain church family, I’m pretty positive that Dad, Stan, Grandma and Grandpa Wall, Jack, Jason, Ed and all the others who have gone before us were joining in the singing. There were angels in the rafters, I’m sure.)
For years I had, on our front door, a little sticky note that read, “Remember what God has already brought you through.” It was a quick visual for me to see each and every day reminding me of God’s faithfulness so that when I stepped out of the relative safety of my home, I would carry this one simple truth with me.
It did, in fact, become such a habit to look at that it lost its punch. I got very good at quoting that little phrase but somehow forgot how to apply its truth to my daily life.
It turns out, I’m not so different from the Israelites, after all. And chances are, neither are you.
Looking through the book of Exodus you will see scores of times that those folks just plumb forgot all the awe-inspiring things God did to provide for them. He made water gush out of a rock because they were thirsty. He dropped manna from the skies so they could eat. He appeared to Moses who proceeded to glow with God’s glory for over a month.
I know some pretty cool and highly talented people, but none of them can do anything even close to that, y’all. And God did this kind of thing on a regular basis.
But somehow, it never seemed to be enough to make a lasting impression on these guys.
Take, for example, chapter 14 in the book of Exodus, the time God led the Israelites through the Red Sea over dry land. Here, the Egyptians are in hot pursuit of the Israelites. I imagine the best car chase scene you’ve ever watched in a movie but with chariots. The Israelites pulled up to the sea’s edge and must have thought it was over. I mean, it’s not like they could just swim across the sea, ya know?
So, God, being God, works through Moses, who bangs down his staff and wah-la! The sea begins to dry up and the Israelites, looking back and forth at each other, shrug their shoulders and start to walk across the dry seabed.
They cross and meanwhile, the Egyptians get swallowed up by the raging waters that are coming back to life after the Israelites pass by. Boom! Mic drop.
God did a super big thing. Surely this is the event that is going to stick in their minds for the rest of their lives and they will never again complain to God about His timing, His provision, His purpose…whatever.
In fact, in chapter 15 of Exodus, following this Main Event, the Israelites write a song of praise and sing it to God.
“The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will extol Him. The Lord is a warrior; The Lord is His name. Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders? You stretched out Your right hand, the earth swallowed them. In Your lovingkindness You have led the people who You have redeemed; in Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation.”
-Exodus 15: 2-3, 11-13
That’s beautiful! They get it! They recognize that God is far above all other gods, that He alone saves and redeems His people and that He is worthy of praise.
Man, they didn’t even wait for the next chapter before things go south.
In verse 22, directly after they have sung this beautiful song to the Lord who saved them, they come to a place where they are thirsty and there’s no sign of water. Granted, it had been three days. I imagine that’s got to be uncomfortable in ways I’ve never personally experienced. All the same, the grumbling begins.
How quickly they seem to have forgotten what God has already brought them through. How easily they have let that miraculous event fall to the back of their memory like some far off dream.
I look at that and I want to smack those foolish Israelites up-side the head and say, “Pull it together, man! Don’t you remember what happened three ding-dang days ago?” I get so exasperated as I read of the Israelite’s wanderings. They are a tiresome lot, aren’t they?
But then…ah, you knew it was coming…I think about all the times I forget about all that God has brought me through. I forget the times when he provided money just as the cupboards were running dry. I forget about the times that doctors have been willing to treat some very serious medical conditions even though I didn’t have a penny to pay them. I forget about the healing God has brought about in broken relationships, relationships that by worldly standards should never have been redeemed.
But still, He is faithful.
Here’s my challenge…and I mean this. I don’t want you to just read this and think what a great idea it is and then fail to do it. I want you to take a few minutes and on sticky notes or notecards or scrap paper, write out the ways that God has been faithful in your life. One word or phrase per piece of paper; enough for you to be able to glance at and be reminded of God’s faithfulness in your past.
These are little memorials, guys. That’s all they are. Little markers that you can then post around your house, your car, your office to remind you that even in the midst of this current storm, you can be sure that God is with you because He’s been with you in the past.
It’ll take no more than 15 minutes. That’s less than the time it takes to watch a dumb sitcom. What are you waiting for?
Go make a memorial so you never forget that God is faithful even when we grumble.