Tag Archive | Soul Matters

Moving Forward Despite Fear

The Concept of the Way to the Cross of Christ

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”—2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV

2 Timothy 1:7 is easy to quote but sometimes difficult to internalize.

Even the most mature Christian has been afraid at one time or another.

Many things perpetuate fear.

Mass shootings

Terrorism

COVID

Change

Lack of Resources

Something happening to a loved one

Dying

The above list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. The list of fears can go on forever.

Recently, fear arose in me. I was presented with a huge opportunity, and I almost said “no” because I was afraid of failure. I prayed and asked God for a clear sign about what I should do. Yep, I needed Him to make it plain. For several days, I toiled about the decision, and God kept reminding me of His word. I made excuses about why I probably should say “no,” but my spirit was troubled because the only issue in my way was fear. The moment I said, “yes,” I was at peace.

Nearly a week after I’d already said “yes,” I listened to a sermon where the pastor addressed fear. He mentioned how we must put aside our fear and “get lost in the purpose of God.” His point was that sometimes things don’t go as we’d desired, so we become afraid to pursue God’s plans for us. (My summary does not do his message justice!) I laughed and cried when I heard this message. It was confirmation that I’d made the right decision.

When I’d asked God for a sign earlier in the week, He led me to His word. That was it. Once I internalized the Scripture and acted congruently with it, I received confirmation through the sermon I heard on Sunday. Here’s the thing: I’m still scared, but I refuse to allow fear to paralyze me. I’m moving forward by faith. I don’t know all the ins and outs of my new path, and I’m trying not to get caught up in what I think or hope it will be. (I’m a planner . . . sometimes to a fault.) Instead, I’m trusting that every step I take has already been ordered with purpose and precision to lead me where God has prepared.

In what ways have you been held back by fear? How can you move forward in faith?

 

“Uprooted” (Working Title) by Frances J. Tibbs

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“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.”—Hosea 10:12, ESV

From Yolonda:

I don’t have a green thumb.

It’s not even green-ish.

My hubby bought me a plant decades ago when we were dating as a gift for my new apartment. I gave it to my mom to resuscitate after I nearly killed it.

Several years ago, my daughter bought me a bamboo plant for Mother’s Day. I cherished that plant. Sadly, I recently had to remove it from life support.

Over the years, people have sent me flowers for various occasions. Those flowers only saw a full life because my husband eventually became their caregiver.

Despite my own history with plants, I have gleaned wisdom from someone who finds solace in gardening. Below is a piece written by my friend Frances J. Tibbs from her unpublished collection, Lessons From the Garden.

“Uprooted” (Working Title) by Frances J. Tibbs

When I was weeding an area in my garden, it took a few different tools to get the deep-rooted thistle out. Those roots of that weed had grown deep, and they were not coming out of that soil without a fight.

I walked back into the garage to get a manual tiller, one of those tools that will involuntarily help you build upper body strength. See, I’m increasing my upper body strength, doctor!

Okay . . . back to the soil and the thistle. Like the roots of a pulled tooth, they go deep. Only when twisting the digger, alternating to the right and the left, was I able to dislodge the thistle.

I reflected on the soil, the weeds, and the tools.

After my hard work, the soil became rich and pliable, ready for a plant. The plant would easily thrive. It would get the morning sun. That beautiful plant would not have been able to blossom to its fullest potential if the soil hadn’t been tilled . . . broken up, weeded to be ready for planting.

The soil had been allowed to do what soil does best . . . be the base that holds the new plant, nourishing it from the bottom where the roots are. Good soil allows the roots to spread out and get stronger, producing a beauty that will cause the eye to feast and get full.

How is your soil?

Do the roots of your habits grow strong?

Will they need more tools to help new growth begin?

Did your spiritual muscles get stronger?

Have you become a beauty . . . a feast of the eyes?

Are you positioned in the Son?

Is the light of the Savior shining upon you, nourishing you?

Are you growing upward toward the standard the Father has set forth?

As a result of your weeding, your dirty work, as you were digging deep to get your thick roots of that “besetting sin” out of the soil of your heart, are you planted firmly in the soil of the Savior?

Are you blooming where you’re planted?

Are you propagating? Increasing your territory?

Ready to be put in a bigger garden next year and outgrow that space to one even bigger?

Most importantly, are you opening your heart to the Master Gardener?

Get your gloves on because your hands are going to get dirty!

Yolonda’s Reflections:

Reading this made me ask myself, Are you ready for God to till those places where it may hurt for the soil to be disturbed? We all have those areas in our lives . . . the places that we might prefer remained undisturbed for whatever reason. Maybe we’re not ready for the work involved. Maybe we’re not sure what all will need to be uprooted, and the unknown scares us. Here’s the thing . . . if we are to be like Jesus, He will need to uproot and replant some things within us. So, with a deep breath, closed eyes, and lifted hands, I say, Okay, Lord. Have Your way with me!  

 About Frances J. Tibbs

FRANCES J. TIBBS is a creative educator, mentor, and coach from Columbus, Ohio. Her passion for working with children began when she was in her youth and worked as a babysitter. Frances enjoys advocating for young children and the teachers who provide positive learning experiences for them. She
delights in nurturing children, adults, ideas, and everything green that grows in her garden. She began her journey with the Lord in elementary school and continues to walk out her faith, believing passionately that God will never leave or forsake her (Deuteronomy 31:6). Her greatest blessings in life call her “MoMo.”

Frances is also a contributor to Connecting with Christ: 52 Weekly Devotionals to Nurture Spiritual Growth.

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“When God’s Way Hurts”

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“But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases”—Psalm 115:3, NKJV

“Dear Lord, this is how I would like you to fix the situation.” Then, with the utmost sincerity, I began to offer a solution. I mean, we have not because we ask not, right? So, my request was clear. There was no ambiguity about what I wanted to happen. Things were bad. Really bad. If I would have any peace of mind, this is how God would have to do it.

His response . . . Not!

Not only didn’t He answer the prayer how I wanted, but it didn’t seem like He was answering at all. The situation didn’t get better. It actually got worse! Meanwhile, the enemy whispered in my ear that praying was a waste of time because God wasn’t listening!

I wasn’t the only one praying. I’d called on a few of my most trusted prayer warriors who also blew up the main lines of Heaven to intercede. And still . . . nothing. Well, at least nothing that resembled my overall prayer requests. Like I said, things were going from bad to worse, and the enemy went full speed on my mind and emotions. I was at a spiritual crossroads. One choice led to a journey of disconnecting with God. He wasn’t listening, so why not stop talking to Him altogether or believing that He even cared? The other choice meant that I would need to stop thinking that there was only one solution, trust that He’s got this, and lean into Him like I’d never done previously. Well, I’m writing this devotional, so whaddya think I chose? While I cried, prayed, and prayed and cried, I remembered one simple fact: God is sovereign. I may think that I had the solution based on my limited knowledge, but He saw the big picture. I had to trust Him.

As I write, the situation is still a burning hot mess and not resolved in a manner that I prefer. Yet, I have peace. I still trust Him. Sometimes when I think about things, I get teary-eyed. When my emotions begin to get in the way, I go to the Word and recall my beliefs about the Lord. I cannot base my response to God on my feelings but on my faith.

We all encounter situations that can emotionally and spiritually cripple us. Things can get especially difficult when the answer seems clear to us, but God does something different, or from our perspective, nothing at all. Remember, the enemy’s job is to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). If you give him the power, he’ll sap any faith or hope you have in God and leave you with only thoughts of despair.

When people walk away from the Lord, most times, its’ because of unmet expectations. He didn’t do something, or He allowed something beyond our comprehension. I wish I could make sense of things that God allows. Ultimately, it’s not God’s job to justify His responses to me but my responsibility to trust Him. If you are a Christian, you have that same charge.

We’ll never fully understand God, and sometimes His ways hurt. Job knew this truth more than any of us. If we read through Job’s story, we also see that his end was better than his beginning. Whatever your current situation, it’s not how your story ends. He’ll do what He wants when He wants and not a moment sooner. Meanwhile, you can rejoice in the fact that whatever is happening will ultimately benefit you in the end (Romans 8:28).

 

Check out Connecting with Christ: 52 Weekly Devotionals to Nurture Spiritual Growth

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“God’s Timing”

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“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1 

Nike popularized the phrase “Just Do It” when the company adopted it as a motto. Many of us have said those three words a time or twenty when speaking with someone who seemed to procrastinate moving forward on something. When we use the phrase, we’re really saying, “stop making excuses and get busy!”

Procrastination is not a word that people would use to describe me. It’s not even how I would describe myself. Yet, my most recent book project only came about because my hand was “forced.”

For at least a decade, I’d been thinking about putting together a one-year weekly devotional, but I put it off, thinking that I had too many other things on my plate. I wanted this to be a collaborative project, and I wondered how I would gather everyone together for the work. Eventually, I talked myself out of it. Years would pass before I gave it any more serious thought, even though the idea never left my mind.

In 2020, the devotional idea again gained momentum when I aimed to help an organization publish a devotional with its members. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out for several reasons, but the ball was already rolling, so I began creating the devotional as a Yo Productions project. The end result was a final compilation of works that outweighs my best imaginations.

I now wonder if the delays over the years and with the other organization were simply part of the process that propelled me to complete the project at this appointed time. Proverbs 16:9 reminds us that “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps” (NIV). When I finally began executing the plan for the devotional, things were delayed a year because of situations outside of my control. What I thought was a delay turned out to be “perfect timing!”

I’m sure that many others have such testimonies of things not happening when you wanted them to but happening at the time they were supposed to. Of course, real procrastinators will use God’s timing as an excuse to not do any prep work at all. As I look back on the years that I “put off” this project, I now see how God was preparing me. I wasn’t aware of such at that time, but now it’s plain as day through the connections I’ve made, things I’ve learned, and resources I’ve acquired to put the plan into action. While we can and should plan, we must also submit our plans to His will and give Him ultimate authority to do as He pleases when He pleases. His timing is always best!

Check out Connecting with Christ: 52 Weekly Devotionals to Nurture Spiritual Growth

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“Go, Jesus!”

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“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Ephesians 3:20, NJKV

When my son was in third grade, he played football for a league through one of the local recreation centers. The football team and the cheerleading squad would practice at the same time, and I would listen to the cheerleaders, smiling and bopping along while they did their chants. One particular cheer stood out to me. The girls would insert the name of each squad member, and then that particular member would respond. For example, if one of the girl’s names was Lisa, the cheer would go like this:

Squad: Show me whatcha gon’ do, Lisa. Show me whatcha gon’ do. Go, Lisa! Show me whatcha gon’ do, Lisa. Show me!

Lisa: I’m bad. I know it. I got the skills to show it.

I got a kick out of watching each girl say her lines with confidence (and some with much attitude). I would snap my fingers and bounce along as they continued the cheer, calling out each squad member’s name.

My son is now in his mid-twenties, and I still remember that cheer like it was yesterday. Sometimes, when I’m faced with a situation that I know only Divine power can fix, I’ll start bopping and doing a revised version of that chant. My version is below:

Show me whatcha gon’ do, Jesus. Show me whatcha gon’ do. Go, Jesus! Show me whatcha gon’ do, Jesus. Show me! He’s bad. He knows it. He’s got the power to show it!

I will say those words repeatedly, smiling each time. I appreciate that when faced with an obstacle, I don’t have to rely on my own power. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t tried to do something in my own strength a time or two hundred. This faith walk is a lifelong journey, and sometimes I have to re-learn to get out of the Lord’s way and let Him do His thing!

If you hang around me for any length of time and something happens that’s a testament to the Lord’s power and glory, you’ll likely hear me say, “Go, Jesus!” I am constantly amazed by Him and how He works in my life, even during difficult circumstances. The Lord is good, plain and simple. As church folk would say, “All of my good days outweigh my bad days!” (Oh, I know that somebody knows that song!) I hope that you will read Ephesians 3:20 several times and let the Scripture resonate in your spirit. If saying, “Go, Jesus” is a little too out there for you, then praise Him in whatever way makes you feel most comfortable!

If you have a fun way to praise Him, feel free to share!

Motherless on Mother’s Day

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Dear Motherless on Mother’s Day,

This time of the year can be rough for us who no longer have our mothers with us. Seeing others making plans with their moms can evoke all kinds of feelings—jealousy, grief, sadness, etc.

My mom died on May 9, 2017. It was the Tuesday before Mother’s Day. The void didn’t really hit me at that time because I was still in shock. Plus, in the days immediately following a loved one’s death, we’re inundated with phone calls, texts, and visits. Grief is often truly felt in the days when everyone else’s life goes back to normal and those immediately impacted by death must learn to adjust.

I get it. I live it. And just when I think I’ve gotten a grip on grief, it throws me a curveball.

This past week, the grief about my mother’s death and the dread of Mother’s Day have been worst than in previous years. Maybe it’s because her death date and Mother’s Day are the same this year. Who knows? I could speculate all day long, but the bottom line is that things have been emotionally tough lately.  

Whether you’ve recently lost your mother or she died years ago, if you find yourself struggling on this day, I want to offer words that I hope will help you.

It’s okay to miss her. Deep folks like to comfort us with Scripture about how our loved ones are in a better place now. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). They mean well, but sometimes those words are just that . . . words. Of course, it’s good to have the assurance that our loved ones are with Jesus after they die. That doesn’t negate our feelings of missing them. Don’t feel bad or guilty because you do. My mom was sick and in pain. I am glad that she’s no longer suffering. Yet, I still miss her, and I refuse to feel bad about that.

Tell others how you are feeling. I struggled all week. Actually, the struggle began several weeks ago as I knew of this day approaching. The closer this day got, the worse I began to feel. I cried off and on all week, sometimes without warning. When I first recognized the struggle of this day, I shared my feelings with others and asked them to pray for me. Despite a very rough emotional week, the heaviness began to lift yesterday. Today has been filled with laughter and joy. No tears, although tears would have been okay, too! I know that the prayers of my family and friends got me through this moment. Don’t be afraid to tell people how you’re feeling. Compassionate people will not tell you that you should be over grief by now. They will pray you through it! Everyone may not understand, so seek God for discernment about those with whom you can share.

Reminisce. My mother has left me with plenty of memories. I think of things that she said or did, and I’m filled with joy, laughter, and life lessons. Let’s be real. All memories aren’t pleasant. There were times when she made me mad or hurt my feelings. I even cherish those memories because they are a testament to the unconditional love that she taught me. There are times when my mother worked my last nerve. (Best believe that she’s telling Jesus the same thing about me! Lol.) Nevertheless, there was something about the love we shared that overrode any less-than-pleasant experiences. No matter what, we looked out for one another.

I remember the day she died like it was yesterday . . .

“Hey,” I said to my mom as she lay barely conscious. “I hear that you’re about to go see Jesus. I don’t like that you’re leaving, but I’m happy for you that you’ll no longer be in pain.” I tried to keep my voice steady, although tears raced down my face. I told her a bunch of stuff, such as how it was an honor to be her caregiver, that the kids and I would be okay, and that I appreciate everything she ever taught me. “I love you, lady,” I said.

She opened her eyes. Although she couldn’t talk and I know she was in pain, she mouthed the words, “I love you.”

That was the last time she opened her eyes or attempted to say anything. Later that afternoon, she passed.

Four years later, I am still grateful for that moment with her. It gives me such peace to know that I did everything in my power to care for her. I appreciate my husband who never batted an eye or said a negative word when she had to come live with us. I am thankful for my children who adjusted without complaint. I am glad that she didn’t have to take her final breath alone. I was there along with other family members. As I reminisce about life with her, I think about her death. Although I don’t think I would have ever wanted to let her go, I am glad that she went peacefully in the presence of her family.  

I realize that every motherless person may not have gotten a chance like that. Maybe your mother passed suddenly and unexpectedly. Maybe your relationship with her was strained, or perhaps you didn’t treat her as you should have or vice versa. If your mom wasn’t good to you, forgive her. If you weren’t good to her, forgive yourself. Such scenarios are sure to only exacerbate your grief. My advice to you is not to live in the land of woulddas, shoulddas, and coulddas. Ask what you can learn from past experiences to make your current and future ones better.

I am still learning from my mommy, and I always will. Sometimes when something happens, I think, “Wig would have . . . .” (Wig was her nickname.) I even find myself saying things that she would have said. Her fingerprint is very much imprinted on my life. I am who I am because she was who she was.

To the motherless on Mother’s Day, although your mother is not physically with you, part of her still lives on in you . . . you are her legacy! Continue to make her proud!

Jesus, I ask that You be with all who have a difficult time with the loss of their mothers. Only You know the depth of their struggles. Only You can help them through these tough times. Thank You for the gift of my mother. I know that You are caring for her better than I ever could. Give her a big hug and kiss for me, and tell her that I said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”

The Wait

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He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly[a] with your God.”—Micah 6:8, NIV

“Do to others as you would have them do to you” comes from Luke 6:31. In verses 27–36, Jesus is speaking about how we should treat our enemies. He says that we should bless them, love them, and give them the very clothing off our backs, among other things. Even when people mistreat us, Jesus says that we should treat them right. It’s easy to be kind to those who deserve it. The challenge comes when we must be kind to those who don’t. As I awaited the verdict of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, I wondered how I would react if the decision wasn’t one with which I agreed.

Would I be kind to Derek Chauvin if he was acquitted and somehow our paths crossed? I want to think that I would dig deep into my faith to treat him kindly if he was not held accountable, but maybe I’m giving myself too much credit. After all, I’m still bothered by George Zimmerman’s acquittal and his lack of contrition ever since. The nerve of that man to sue Trayvon’s parents after causing them so much pain irks me. Yeah, I think I would struggle a bit with kindness.

I couldn’t watch any footage of Chauvin’s trial. This season is already an emotional one for me due to my own journey of grief. I didn’t want to induce an emotional roller coaster by watching the ping pong match between the defense and the prosecutor. I knew the defense would make claims that would incite me. So, I didn’t watch, but every day, I checked the internet for the latest update. When I saw the announcement that the jury had reached a verdict, I was nervous.

In Micah 6:8, we learn from the prophet that the Lord requires us to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly.” One definition of justice by dictionary.com is “the administering of deserved punishment or reward.” I wondered what the jurors would consider just. Would they be fair, or would there be differential justice? I was literally sick to my stomach as I waited to hear the verdict.

As the judge began reading, I held my breath. Guilty. I cried. I screamed. I was relieved.

The verdict doesn’t stop the pain of George Floyd’s loved ones or those who mourn with them, nor does it erase the many other injustices that have taken place before or after George Floyd’s death. I’m optimistic that the verdict will bring hope for others who are dealing with injustices.

Meanwhile, those of us who follow Christ have Biblical charges, whether or not we like them. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say that treating enemies kindly isn’t something that I can do on my own. Wanting justice is the easy part. Loving mercy for myself is easy as well, but not so much when it comes to others when I feel they have “gotten away” with something, especially something that has caused someone a lot of pain. How prideful of me, right? Guess I need help with walking humbly as well. I’m sure I’m not the only one. As we go through this journey of life together, let’s encourage and pray for one another. I need you. You need me. Together and separately, we need Christ!

Father, we are living in a hurting world. Evidence of brokenness is all around us. Sometimes it seems like evil is winning. The emotional fabric of our society is fragile. Although what we see can be discouraging, help us not give up hope and trust that You are and will always be in full control. May You grant wisdom, give peace, and bring healing as only you can!

 

The Divided Church

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“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand”—Matthew 12:25b, New King James Bible

“It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is 11 o’clock on Sunday morning”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

The above words were spoken in 1963, and they still ring true in 2021.

It should come as no shock then that just because the calendar reset on January 1, our lives didn’t. We’re only halfway through the first month of a new year, and we’re still dealing with the same stuff we left behind on December 31. It’s a new day, but the same old problems exist. We are still a nation divided.

We see the division in Congress with politicians voting along party lines on issues instead of acting in their constituents’ best interest.

We see it in our neighborhoods where schools have gained reputations of being predominantly “white” or “black.”

Sadly, we also see it in our churches.

Now, let me pause for a second to say that it’s natural for people to join institutions in their local communities. If that community looks like them, then of course, a church will have a predominant composition. The appearance of a church’s membership isn’t my issue. It’s the divided hearts that concern me the most.

Those who represent God have gotten drawn into the blue and red debate, putting politics over the unity of their faith. Politics is being promoted from the pulpit along with the “Black” Gospel and “White” Gospel. There is an “us” v. “them” mindset, forgetting that as Christians, we are all an “us.” “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). It’s the Gospel, plain and simple.

There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your heritage. If there is, please pray for me because I like the melanin in my skin and all the characteristics that make me a proud Black woman. I wouldn’t trade identities with anyone in this world.

I will also admit that it’s easy to become callous when witnessing so many injustices. Eight minutes and forty-six seconds . . . just typing it caused a flood of emotions. That’s how long Derek Chauvin kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck. The memory of that moment incinerates me, and without the intervening power of the Holy Spirit, it could easily fill my heart with hatred. However, that is not God’s way, so it can’t be mine.
If we have any chance of healing our nation, it must start with all of us in the church—Black folks, White folks, and everyone in between. When the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by a demon, He responded by saying, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand” (Matt. 12: 25b.) America is in need of a great healing, but we’ve gotten on the crazy train if we think we’re going to do this without God.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” 2 Chronicles 7:14

I know that everyone doesn’t believe in God or the authority of the Bible. This Scripture doesn’t call on everyone; it is a plea to God’s people. If those of us who claim to know Him will unify in prayer, we can make a difference.

Father, Thank You for how You uniquely made each one of us. Let our differences be an avenue for learning more about one another instead of dividing us. Heal the hurts that have been caused among Your people by Your people so that we can be instruments of healing for the world. Thank you for establishing governments for order, but let us not misplace hope in officials to do the work that only You can do. Only You can change hearts. Start with ours. Let our love for You unite us instead of allowing the prevalent sin of this world divide us.

Jesus, Help!

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“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1, NIV

On October 19, 2020 around 7:15 a.m., it was dark and raining. I was driving on the highway listening to a podcast when my windshield wipers suddenly malfunctioned. The driver’s side wiper flew off and onto the road, and the other one stopped working altogether. One moment, I was in peace. The next, I was in a panic. There I was going between 60–70 mph, and I could not see a thing. The darkness, combined with the rain, prevented me from seeing the white lines on the road clearly.

“Jesus!” I screamed. “Help!”

I turned on my hazards and slowed down, inching over between the lights of other cars, praying that I would make it to safety. I finally got to a place on the freeway where it split, and I pulled between the two interstates, lacking confidence that I could make it all the way to the right shoulder.
Adrenaline pumping, I sighed. “Thank You, Jesus!”

I called for roadside assistance, then my husband and daughter. I also shared the experience with my prayer groups, expressing my gratitude for God’s protection, not only of me but also for others on the highway. I cried tears of joy and relief. My stomach was in knots. I was shaking, but I was safe.

There are so many things that this experience signifies to me. First, it’s a reminder of personal growth. I recall a time in my life when calling on the Name of Jesus would not have been my first choice of words. Oh, I would have had a four-letter expression of some kind, but I doubt that it would have been “help.” It’s amazing to reflect back on the old self and see God’s transformative power at work in your current life.

Second, the experience reminded me of how accessible God is via prayer. I didn’t have time for fancy words or a long introduction. He was present in my time of trouble and answered both my spoken and unspoken requests. That “help” encompassed a lot—help me make it to safety, help me not cause an accident, help calm my nerves, and more!

Third, it was an opportunity to praise Him. Sure, I could have been upset by the inconvenience of having to re-arrange my plans. After all, I had a ton of responsibilities for the week, and I’d outlined what I needed to do and when I’d planned to do it. However, I wasn’t the least bit upset. I was grateful for so many reasons. The situation could have been much worse, but it wasn’t. I got home safely, the wipers were fixed, and the next day I did all the errands I’d started the previous day.

The psalmist referred to God as a present help. Whether we need Him at the spur-of-the-moment or during a long, drawn-out trial, He is with us. I pray that You not only know that He is present, but that you feel His presence as well, and that it gives you comfort in whatever situations you may face.

Trusting God During a Pandemic

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“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal”—Isaiah 26:3–4, NIV

Trust . . .

Such a simple word packed with a lot of power.

One definition of trust on Merriam-Webster.com is “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”

I’ve been meditating on that word a lot lately. Recent situations have caused me to reflect on whether my actions indicate that I trust God as much as I say I do.

I sometimes have a lot of anxiety when it comes to finances. It’s not because there’s a lack. We’re not rich by any means, but we are certainly not in want of anything. We have healthy accounts, great credit, and more than we need to meet our needs. Yet, there’s a little knot in my stomach that I must continuously confront called fear. See, things haven’t always been so comfortable. In fact, 2006 and several years thereafter would bring some of the worst financial crises in our lives that we have ever faced. Although God brought us through that season, the memory of our troubles is still seared into my brain. What makes it really crazy is that the financial aftermath occurred after trusting God.

In 2004, I left a full-time state government job with the support of my hubby to focus on writing because that’s what the Lord said to do. I don’t have time to detail how I knew it was God, but it was, and the fact that my husband was on board was the ultimate confirmation. I made more than him at that time, so my not working meant that we were losing the higher income and all the benefits that came with it. Little did we know that life would punch us in the mouth, and as we were healing, he would lose his job.

While all this was taking place, I was still writing and signing publishing and other freelance contracts. However, being a writer can literally be a feast or famine world. The one consistent aspect of what I do is that the pay fluctuates from day-to-day. Nearly 15 years after my first book was published, that hasn’t changed. When aspiring authors seek my advice, one of the first things I tell them is that they have to love writing enough to do it for free because sometimes they will have to. For example, no one is paying me to write this post. 😊

Fast forward, I haven’t had a full-time job since 2004, but we have way more now than we had when I was working at my cushy state job. God brought us through that period and has blessed us beyond what I could even imagine, and our financial portfolio is better than it has ever been. Yet, there’s been a consistent knot in my stomach that has grown within the last few months.

This COVID pandemic has stirred up bad memories of economic downturns and anxiety, and I’ve found my financial decisions peppered with fear. Life didn’t stop because of COVID. College tuition still needed to be paid, cars still needed repairs, and home improvements still had their place on our priority list. We have two businesses, and while they have taken a hit during the pandemic, they haven’t gone under. Additionally, we’ve haven’t skipped a beat on contributing to our retirement and savings accounts, and we’ve made more than our fair share of discretionary purchases during the pandemic. (My husband said that I’m helping to keep Amazon in business. #retail therapy) Given the stability of things, I have to ask myself, what is the basis of my fear? Is it because there is that part of me that remembers the financial fire and how I wondered where God was during that time? Is it that I am scared to fully trust Him with that area of my life because subconsciously, I feel like He let us down previously?

I don’t know what’s behind my anxiety, but I know that I don’t like it. Even when we went through our financial crises, we never went hungry or homeless. Our children never lacked anything. James 5:16 says to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” So, here you have it, my big confession that financial anxiety is a sin of mine. I have not yet once worried about catching the virus, but I have had the “what ifs” swirling about other ramifications of it. I unashamedly ask for prayer. While you pray for me, know that I will be praying for you as well. I might not know you, but I am praying, in general, for all of us who know God to wholeheartedly trust Him throughout this pandemic. May the world see a difference in how we respond and know undoubtedly, that we are His.

In what areas of your life have you been holding back trust? Let’s take this faith walk together, believing that our God will supply everything that we need!