Sometimes I Impress Hurtful Past Experiences on Other People

 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another….(1 John 1:7)

It is really hard to trust someone when you’ve been hurt by another person. My circumstances in life are revealing this reality to me. Since someone hurt me and betrayed my trust I feel myself impressing that experience on other people thinking that because they are in a similar position that they will treat me the same way.
 
The scripture tells us to wise as serpents and innocent as doves, but this doesn’t mean that we treat everyone as if they were a serpent. This is what I feel my heart doing, not giving people the benefit of the doubt and automatically assuming that they will be the same way.
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I hear the Lord say, “Heather, let it go, don’t define other people by your past experiences.” I think we should practice wisdom when it comes to who we let into our lives, but this doesn’t mean that we treat them like a criminal before we get to know them.
 
I am reminded that I to have hurt people in similar ways. That me, Heather, just like those who have hurt me is really just in need of lots of grace. Therefore, I must offer the same grace to others, being wise as to who I let into my life, but not project past experiences upon them before I get to know them.
 
What I’m finding in my heart is fear. Fear that if I take this step or walk this direction the exact same thing will happen to me and I’ll be betrayed once more. Fear is a terrible place to live. Until we release our fears to the Lord, we will never walk forward in the new victory and freedom that God has for us. Be reminded that God is working something beautiful out of your pain and sometimes, He asks us to enter back into a similar place so that we can practice faith, despite our fears that try to convince us that the same peril will happen for our lives.
 
Lord, I trust you. It’s hard to walk back into similar places. Places where we’ve been deeply hurt by others, but the truth is, I cannot walk forward in my freedom until I do. Lord, I place my life in your hands today, in Jesus name, Amen.

When Worry Has You Up at Night

even at night their minds do not rest….(Ecc 2:23).

Have you ever had nights where you can’t sleep as you’re being plagued by thoughts seeking to steal your joy and contentment?
 
Last night was one of those nights for me. It wasn’t that I was in a place of deep, overwhelming anxiety, but thoughts of worry kept trying to weasel their way into my heart and mind. Thoughts seeking to trap me in a place where I can’t trust God because I keep asking, “what if.”
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I sense that God is moving in my life, but I’m hesitant to go with Him on what He’s doing. I’m hesitant because so many questions arise in my heart and mind. I question Him because it feels like it will be a direction that leaves me trapped somewhere where I won’t be able to experience all the things I desire. Truth is, there is no way for me to know this, and worrying about it certainly won’t solve any of my problems.
 
There is this place I feel like God is taking me and it’s requiring me to practice humility because quite honestly the thoughts that keep flashing across my mind are really just thoughts that are prideful because I question if this direction will be able to allow me the limelight that my sinful heart desires. Ouch, that’s hard to admit, but it’s true.
 
Most of my life this past year and a half has been a journey of dying. Dying to sinful patterns of behavior. Dying to my own idea of success. Dying to what I want, so that I can give God more control in my life. I always told God I would go anywhere and do anything that He asked of me, but I’m struggling to do it because I question whether or not it really will be best for my own self. Quite frankly, all of this is motivated by my ego. Oh, Lord, forgive me.
 
I’m not sure what keeps you up at night, but be reminded that God is trustworthy. Truly, He is in control. He sits on the throne. We need not worry or fret. We can know, with full assurance that God is working all things together for the good of those who love Him. As we die to our own need to play God and seek to capture control of our lives we can rest safe and secure in the hands of our maker whose plans are trustworthy and whose heart is for us.
 
Lord, today I release all control to you. Forgive me for my pride. I know that it runs deep in me, but your love runs deeper in my heart and mind, because of Jesus. Today I thank you that I can live in the victory that Jesus offers me through the cross. I thank you that I am more than a conqueror through you who love me. I thank you, God, that you sit on the throne. I trust you. I submit to you and I lay down my pride before you today, in Jesus name, Amen.

Out of Egypt

There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” ….(Numbers 21:5).

Israel kept begging God for things He had already provided. It just wasn’t in the way they wanted. I’ve done the same with God. Especially in this present season. I’ve said to the Lord, but why can’t I go back to____________ and I hear Him say, “Why do want to go back to the place of your captivity?”
 
Because I can’t see what’s coming….and I really want to be in control of it.  
 
That’s why we go back into relationships we know, are bad for us. Return to jobs that are toxic. Get involved in the sinful activity that used to be in our past. Move here, go there, and take matters into our own hands because we cannot see what God is doing, so we assume He isn’t doing anything.
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God always provided for Israel in the desert. During this present season I hear the Lord saying, “Heather, I want to bless you. Wait, watch and listen. Don’t take matters into your own hands and operate out of your anxiety. Wait for me to bless you.”
 
I’ll be honest, that is very hard for me to do. Hard because I’ve always been a take charge, get it done kind of person. I”ve filled my life with plans that made sense. Plans on how I was going to fill certain needs in my life. I hear myself complaining to the Lord, but why did you give me this? Why didn’t you do that for me?
 
Sometimes, I think God wants us to learn to be content in the little He’s given us so that we can receive with joy something different when we’re ready for it. We must learn to find contentment in all things, because God may never provide for us the way we want Him too. We must learn to praise Him, even in the midst of disappointment.
 
After receiving some discouraging news yesterday, my husband asked me, “What if things don’t ever turn out that way, what if this is just what God has? A thought flashed across my mind, “Then, I’m not sure I’ll make it.” Really Heather? Is that really true? Of course, I’ll make it, but, you see, the vision burns so deep within my heart that the thought of not fulfilling it tears me up inside.
 
We can rest assured that if God gives us the vision, He will see it through to fruition. The waiting is simply an opportunity for us to be pruned as we learn to wait on God becoming completely and totally dependent upon Him.
 
Father, I submit myself with joy to you today. I know that today, you want to bless me so I will await, with joy, your blessing for me. Thank you, God, that I have everything that I need in you. Thank you that my waiting is not in vain. Thank you that there is a great purpose in every season. Lord, thank you, in Jesus name, Amen.

Starve the Monster

For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved…. (2 Peter 2:19).

Yesterday, I said to the high school students that all of us have issues in our hearts that if not kept in check will grow into a mighty monster seeking to control our heart, emotions, and strength. I shared from my own life how easily I can fall prey to this and how I’ve seen the monster of my own sin grow within my heart as I fed it with pride, fear, and insecurity.
 
Yet, we must be reminded that the Lord Jesus, who lives inside of us is stronger than our fear. He’s stronger than whatever the enemy tries to throw at us to feed the monster of sin that wants to grow within our lives.
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I told the students, we must starve that monster, so that it stops growing. We must surround ourselves with accountability, knowing that we all struggle against sin and no one is better than another. This is the journey of our lives, not to have it all together, but to grow with others who don’t towards a Savior who does.
 
I am so glad that God sees within me the power and victory of HIs Son. He sees His joy, His overcoming life and His ability to walk in purity in all matters of life. The cleaner my hands and the purer my heart the more room I make for God’s voice to speak and for His heart to sing into mine.
 
This is the grace of God for sinners like you and me, to walk in close fellowship and experience freedom from fear, pride, control and the monster of sin that wants to steal our joy in Christ.
 
Lord, I long to live in your power. I have the power of Christ inside of me. Forgive me God for how easily I have fallen prey to sin. I have fed a great monster of sin, allowing it to grow and lead me down paths of darkness. Yet, I want to starve that monster and live in a place where faith flourishes. Let that be the song of my life, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Under the Sun

What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?….. (Ecclesiastes 1:3).
 
I have spent years of my life striving for things like money, affirmation and the approval of people. Not only that, but I’ve always strived for my own platform. My own place where I become a very important person. Yet, I am reminded through the words of King Solomon that all of this is meaningless.
 
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The Hebrew word for meaningless, Hebel, means breath or vapor. My attempts to try to become someone important in my own eyes are but vain, pithy attempts that hold no real sustenance in this world. It’s as if I’ve spent much of my life eating air, expecting it to somehow energize and sustain me in this life.
 
It’s no wonder there have been times in my life when life itself felt meaningless, frustrating and purposeless. You see if our purpose is built upon making ourselves great than we will live empty lives. Yet, if we change our hearts, surrender our sin and start living for things that actually matter we can indeed have and experience joy in this life.
 
If we look at the life of Jesus we see a man who invested His life not in things, power or success, but in people. Yes, He poured His life into serving, loving and teaching others about God. This is where meaning is found, not through making a stage for ourselves, but through serving others in the places God has put us for the ultimate praise of His glory.
 
Will our stages be small? Yes, they will, but our hearts will grow deep and wide, making space for people to come, enter in and be received with love. There, in the light of our hearts, we can give to them the love of God that has been stored up in ours. We can serve them, love them and teach them about God. This is the place where we join together with God on a grand adventure, no longer living for what we want, but seeing with fresh eyes the Kingdom work God has for us to do.
 
Lord, I long to be a Kingdom worker for you. Sometimes, life becomes about me. Please forgive me. I want others to see my heart. A heart that is not perfected, but is being perfected. A life that doesn’t have it all together, but one that desperately wants to be like. you. Jesus, I give you this day that as I teach may it not be for my own praise, but instead, for your eternal glory, Amen.

Be Faithful in Hard Places….Joy is Coming

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him…. (Eph 2:6).

Every morning I ask God to search my heart to see what might lie there. I ask Him to search my heart for things like pride, fear, control, and anxiety. This morning when I asked the Lord what was in my heart I heard Him say, “joy.”
 
Joy has not been in my heart for a very long time. Instead, I have felt the weight of oppression, unbelief, and defeat. Yet, this morning I sensed joy; deep joy in my heart. Truly, He is a mighty God who can lift our lives from the pit as we hold fast to Him. We are not just lifted from the pit, but we are raised up with Christ in His resurrection life.
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The other day I asked a friend to share with me about my strengths and weaknesses, one of the strengths she named that I had never considered was, “faithful in hard places.” Can I just be really honest? I hate being faithful in hard places because it is so painful. Yet, joy awaits us if we would hang on with hope. I get it, trust me, I don’t like the pain of waiting. In fact, at times, I despised it. Yet, I kept being reminded that, “the one who loves me obeys what I command.”
 
I don’t have this whole following Jesus thing figured out and I certainly don’t do it perfectly, but I believe what I am seeing in my life is the fruit of holding fast to Jesus in a very hard and dark season. What I truly believed about was held into the fire of testing. As I held fast to His promises He protected me and is purifying my heart for His good purposes.
 
Some seasons are for the pruning of our hearts. Is that painful? Yes, very much so, but as we hold fast, new fruit is coming. I’m telling you this because I’m experiencing it. There’s a new joy in my heart that wasn’t there before. There’s freedom from oppression. There’s a lightness in my soul that comes from the work of God in my life. It is new wine that the Father has lovingly pressed out of me. It’s a new joy that comes only from His heart to mine. Do I have all that I want? No, I do not, far from it, but I have everything I need in the Father’s love for me and truly, He is enough.
 
Lord, your love is so good. It is better than life. I am so undeserving of it. I’m such a different person than I was even a year ago. Thank you for your transformative work in my heart. Thank you for not giving up on me, but for being patient and full of grace and love. Lord, continue to grow me to be like you. Protect and grow my loved ones that they too might grow to be like you, in Jesus name, Amen.

When it Seems as Though Evil Keeps Winning….Don’t Lose Heart, God is at Work

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed… (Matt 27:1).

It was early in the morning when it seemed as though Jesus’ fate was set. His death was imminent as those who held evil in their hearts planned to have Him done away with. Yet, death did not have the last word, because although evil is a sure reality in our world, God still sits on the throne. He is in the business of bringing resurrection from our pain. He takes our most broken situations and if we’re willing to lift our heads and believe Him for good things we will experience His resurrection.
 
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Do not fret when it seems as though evil is winning out around you. Rejoice that God is in control of any and every situation. Never believe the lie that says nothing will ever change. These people will always be this way or this will just be my lot in life. No, live instead in light of God’s resurrection power. This is the area where our unbelief and faith collide. There at the cross, where we must die to what we thought was right for our life, and trust God for our resurrection.
 
I know what you’re thinking, but it all feels so unfair. It all feels so wrong, but beloved, remember, you can’t see the whole picture. God is always doing something mighty, He simply asks us to practice faith. Sometimes I think we do not see the miracles of God because we hold onto our unbelief, silencing the voice of God who is trying to speak victory into our life.
 
I know I’m quick to look at those things around me God hasn’t done instead of all that He has done for me. I’m quick to live in the grave, instead of rejoicing in the greatness of God in His resurrection power. Yes, resurrection to a new place, where life isn’t exactly what I would want it to be, but where my heart is content and happy knowing that God is greater than my unbelief and limited perspective on life.
 
Lord, you are so good. Why would I ever doubt your love? It’s because I’m impatient. It’s because sometimes I think I know better. Lord, forgive me for my foolishness. I want to be like you. Please, make me more like you, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.