Flowers are blooming! Spring is coming! However, for those struggling the sunshine may cause you to long for growth in your own situation. We have a beautiful printable designed by Sarah Dohman to remind you Jesus can bring that new life you desire.
I love hymns. One of my current favorites is, “Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord” by Julia H. Johnston. This wonderful hymn has me humming its chords nearly every single day. The chorus specifically rings sweetly to me,
Grace, grace, God’s grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace
Grace that is greater than all our sin.
God’s grace is good, and it is a comfort for a sinner like me. His grace not only is our entrance to salvation in Him, but it is also a gift given daily as our hearts are tempted to depart from Him and His ways. Recently this topic of grace has been pointed out to me in a new light. I have been reading Parenting by Paul Tripp, which has shone fresh light on the grace of God for me.
Grace is a pretty word. It’s a comforting word. It’s an often sung-about word. I love it so much, I named my youngest daughter after it! However, grace is not just those things. Grace can be hard. Specifically, as humans in relation to other humans, it can actually be painful.
Grace certainly was painful when Jesus extended it to make a way for us to receive His beautiful salvation. Grace that day meant His criminal death on a cross. It hurt Him, and took away all the comforts of heaven from Him, and He extended it to us anyway. We should not be surprised that grace can be painful to extend to others around us.
My feelings get hurt more often that I’d like to admit. Even in the context of my loving marriage, and home life with four sparkly daughters, my feelings get hurt daily. “Why is she throwing a fit for me right now?” or “Why does he want to do that on his day off, instead of the list of things I want to do?” are only a couple of glimpses into my heart on a regular basis.
What I am learning about grace in the midst of both the little and large assaults upon my feelings, is that it is God’s grace to put us in situations that strip away at our selfish and sinful tendencies. He allows pain into our lives as an extension of grace. In those moments of frustration or hurt, we not only get to receive His marvelous grace towards us, but we also get to extend His grace to those hurting us.
The painful situations that we all come in contact with are an opportunity for grace. I am grateful for this reality — it really changes my heart and attitude. My feelings being hurt, my disobedient children, pain that my extended family is experiencing are all opportunities. I could take these situations as opportunities to question God’s goodness, or I can face the pain head-on and pray for a covering of grace all around. Truly, what a gift He has given us in grace.
Thank you Lord for Your marvelous grace! Remind me often, I pray, to receive grace in each moment, and seize the opportunity to extend it. Thank you for not only supplying my needs, but for grace upon grace beyond them.
Britney Bradley loves being a wife to her loving husband, Brian. She is mother to 4 little girls, Ruby, Cora, Lily, and Opal, as well as auntie to 8, and friend to many. She has always dreamed about marriage and motherhood, and is now navigating God’s will each and every day in these realms. She enjoys writing when she gets a chance, and of course, coffee.
We all have defaults. The route we drive if we’re not thinking about it. The dinner we make on stressful days. The comforts we turn to when life hurts. They tend to pop up most in the hard times. When there isn’t enough time, the money is short, or emotions are frazzled.
But sometimes the default turns out to be faulty. I know for me, default mode just isn’t working for day to day life. I must pause and consider. Why?
Why is this my default mode or belief?
How did I choose it?
What did I know then?
What do I know now?
What will I do next time?
The trouble is, defaults run deep. We often don’t even realize we have slipped into one until it is in some way challenged. This is particularly true in what we believe about God. Our actions and attitudes swing on a spectrum in response not to what we have heard or have understood, but to what we deeply hold to be true, whether or not it is in fact true.
Many people believe in “a god” out there somewhere. Perhaps one who got everything started and flung the stars and planets into motion, but who is far off in their daily experience. Or they see God as someone looking to catch them in something, or they simply deny the existence of God entirely. I grew up in church, and the thoughts I had of God were colored through the lens of the interpretation of the people around me. Some resonated with or emphasized different characteristics while others were left out all together. It is vital to be aware of how I can default to seeing God through the interpretation of my own experiences, knowing my interpretations to be fickle and changing things.
We walk in dangerous territory when we try to manufacture our own ideas about God. The only trajectory that seems secure is to read what God says about himself. As Francis Chan simply stated,“ We don’t get to decide who God is.”
So how do we find out what God is like, and how can we know if we are making up a “god” of our own ideas rather than discovering who our creator is?
- Story: God is described throughout the Bible primarily in narrative, the story of the actual events as God interacted with his creation through which we glean understanding. It can be confusing and filled with tensions we would rather not fight with, but what can be discovered is worth the wrestle. Try reading with a pen nearby and keep track of patterns or attributes you notice. Some are straightforward and stated in the text (God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love), others are described and must be inferred (God created all things, and must enjoy diversity and beauty).
- Names of God: The Bible is clear that there is one triune God, but there are so many facets to his character that throughout the Bible God is described by using different parts of his character: The God who sees, the living God, God who provides (to name a few). Find a devotional, or free online tool that delves into the places where the original text of the Bible uses different Hebrew words to illuminate for us what God is like.
- Are you uncomfortable?: If you never have to grapple with an aspect of what Scripture says about God, you may be cherry-picking verses to create a God you are comfortable with, rather than discovering all of who God says he is. This is important, because we are responding to the reality of who God is and who he has revealed himself to be, not creating who we think he should be.
For the rest of eternity, we will go deeper into our understanding and relationship with the inexhaustible God who cannot be defined or limited by our human categories.
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV
There are so many facets to who God is. The creator, redeemer, triune God of the Bible is constantly surprising me with aspects I have never considered. It is astounding that God has chosen to reveal himself to human beings at all, much less that he decided to love us, and be known by us.
“But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29
Holly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part-time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail, and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.
After a cold, rainy, windy, bleary winter, I welcome the signs of spring with open arms. The bright pops of yellow in clusters of daffodils, the tentative pink clusters of cherry blossoms, the days when the sun is actually providing a little warmth; lately, I’ve felt struck by the unnecessary beauty of these things.
I’ve felt that in these “extras” is bound the loving kindness of God as he shows us his kindness and mercy in a million beautiful colors and ways. That he made so many marvelous things leaves me in awe. That he created food to not only provide nourishment, but to also be interesting and delicious fills me up. That he placed intricacies into the people around me that point to who he is astounds me.
Our heavenly Father, in his great kindness, loves to give us good gifts! The gifts of beauty in creation, the gifts of friendship and fellowship with others, the gifts of laughter.
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 NASB
And when I think of the greatest gift He gave us, I overflow with reverential wonder . He gave to us the gift of his Son’s life. In his kindness, God allowed Jesus to enter into our world, and redeem us from our sins. This in itself would certainly have been far more than we deserve. Yet God doesn’t stop there.
I recently attended an event called The Freedom Project featuring speaker and author Jennie Allen. She focused her presentation on pointing to the gospel and explaining it through the scriptures. Towards the end, she said something striking as she explained God’s plan for eternity. “He [God] could have made us slaves. He could have saved us, but made us slaves, but instead He made us coheirs.” Coheirs. Wow! How unnecessary and extravagant.
In his kindness, God has gone over the top for us. He made the earth for our enjoyment. He created an eternity and He wants us to be part of it! Forever.
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Titus 4:3-7 (NIV)
Generous. Extravagant. Kind. That’s the God I worship and look forward to the privilege of eternal life with. That’s the God I love.
Sarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.
One of the most powerful ways I have seen God’s love and presence is through his provision. Whether it’s a physical need or something deeper, God knows it every time. He discerns what things I think are needs that really aren’t, and He also attends to the deep needs I don’t even recognize are there.
As I think back over the last few years, I am in awe of the many ways God has personally provided for needs in the world around me.
I have seen God provide:
Hope to people who had none.
Healing to patients who seemed far too sick to find it.
Unexpected gifts to meet financial needs at exactly the right moment.
Tangible comfort and peace in times of grief.
Opportunities for connection between believers on opposite sides of the world who needed each other’s community.
A place for me to put down roots and find community with other believers after the go-go-go atmosphere of the last few years.
Ways for old things to get stirred up from the nooks and crannies of my heart so they could be resolved.
Sometimes in the moment it’s hard to see what God is doing, or it seems like he’s taking a lot longer than we want. But our God sees every need, and he provides for it in his timing.
When the Israelites left Egypt and wandered the desert, they had a hard time finding food and began to question God. Some even talked about going back to Egypt. But God saw their need and showered down manna from heaven, providing the exact amounts they needed to be filled each day. (Exodus 16)
When Abraham agonizingly prepared to sacrifice his son in obedience to God, he held fast to faith that God would provide another way. At the very last moment, God sent a ram in the thicket; the perfect substitute for Abraham to sacrifice. (Genesis 22)
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, all of creation fell into chaos. On our own, we had no hope of recovery. But God provided his own son, making a way for us to be restored to him. (Genesis 3, 1 John 4:9)
It is in our God’s nature to provide.
I write all of these stories and moments down so that I won’t forget. Each one is a tangible reminder to me of God’s sovereignty, his nearness, and his goodness. It stretches and strengthens my faith to see that every time I step out in risky obedience, God meets me there and provides for my needs. He is present, at work in our world, just as he was in Bible times.
Remembering all the times God has provided in the past gives me patience and faith for tomorrow. Whatever life brings, it gives me hope to know that I can always depend on the God who can do more than I might ever ask or imagine; who loves, and does not hold back what I need—even when my deepest need required his Son.
Rachel Olson recently moved back to the US after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.
From a young age, I knew my hands and heart were created to heal. In my twenties I graduated from nursing school, ready to bring comfort by words and deed. While most of my job consists of staving off illness, curating health promotion and prevention, I do encounter students on my caseload who have incurable syndromes and diseases. With these precious small friends, I have no choice but to trust that God has a plan for their welfare and their time on Earth. This means that sometimes healing occurs, and sometimes it does not.
One miraculous story of healing in Scripture is found in the book of Matthew. Matthew 9:20-22 (ESV) speaks of a woman in desperate need of healing from physical bleeding. “And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.’ Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well.”
The Passion Translation shares this verse a little more clearly. “Suddenly, a woman came from behind Jesus and touched the tassel of his prayer shawl for healing. She had been suffering from continual bleeding for twelve years, but had faith that Jesus could heal her. For she kept saying to herself, ‘If I could only touch his prayer shawl I would be healed.’ Just then Jesus turned around and looked at her and said, My daughter, be encouraged. Your faith has healed you.’ And instantly she was healed!”
Pause for a moment and envision this woman’s life. She lived in a time prior to adequate sanitary conditions. Women who were menstruating were physically separated from men for seven days at a time. They were not to go out, touch members of their family, even cook or clean. Women during this monthly ritual were to be quiet, as per purity laws. This woman had been bleeding for 12 years! She suffered not only all the physical ramifications of having a constant period, but the emotional and social implications as well. I’m positive she felt isolated, depressed, frazzled, and fragile.
In her state of desperation, this woman left her home, where, by law, she was required to reside, and sought after Jesus. She had caught wind that he was in the business of healing, and she knew in her heart of hearts that if she could see him, talk to him, touch him — he could save her from her life of distress. Her faith drew her to Jesus, and prompted her to boldly act, touching his robe. An unclean woman, as she was, shouldn’t have been out in public, nor been in the presence of men. An unclean woman most certainly should not have reached for Jesus in the crowd. But on that day, God heard her cry, and her fingers swept across the robe of Jesus.
In an instant, Jesus turned and saw this unclean woman. Only, he didn’t see her impurities, or scrunch his face up in disgust. Instead, he saw her heart, broken and willing. He knew her pain, her cry for help. He picked her out of the crowd, declared her faith, and healed her.
As I grow older, I recognize the need for Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals. Psalm 147:3 states, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” He wants us to come to Him in our brokenness, whether that means physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally. He has no desire to shame us, or turn us away when we are in a state of desperation. Instead, Jehovah Rapha longs to repair the wounds. God is the God of healing, no matter what state we are in.
My time as a nurse has taught me to see beauty in the brokenness. There are those who are suffering from physical ailments. Minds that are overwhelmed by anxiety and fear, depression and angst. Hearts that are longing to be known and loved. Working as a nurse has revealed there is a humility in asking for help when life feels uncontrollable.
I am not sure if you are in a current state of desperation — if you are needing healing. If you are not, I’m sure you know a friend or loved one who is. And while I cannot explain why God does not always heal this side of heaven, I am sure of this: He wants us to come to him in our ragged state — to lay down our burdens, to have faith in miracles. He sees us. He knows us. May we be moved in our times of biggest need to seek Jehovah Rapha for restoration and healing.
Sarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Instagram.
Some 16 years ago, back in high school, I remember one of my good friends speaking about 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. We’d all heard it many times; “love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…” Yes, we knew all that well. They are great verses but it was nothing of news to me; I’d heard it preached many times already. Those specific verses had even just played a big role in one of the hit films “A Walk to Remember.” Except this time, instead of where the film had depicted the verses in relation to love between humans, my friend was relating the verse directly to God and his character. He was explaining that God and love are synonymous. God IS love.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)
That connection was new to me. I knew God is love. It’s one of the most talked about character traits of God but never had I considered using the words synonymously and in exchange for one another so effortlessly in that manner. And so, my friend read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 to us in this way,
God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. He does not dishonor others, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.
All of the sudden, looking at those verses (and don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying scripture isn’t perfect as it is but this was simply a thought change) made them mean something deeper to me. Since the new revelation I had that day, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 have always been life verses to me – verses to live by, for I know that we were created in the image of God and these verses have no grey area of who God is and what his character is like. Verses that were cut and dry of what I was to model my life after, truth about God and who he was, is, and will always be. Not only that, but they remind me that he is a God that is for me and not against me – which I need to remember in the midst of challenges, both minuscule and mountainous.
About a year ago, I found a wood sign with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 painted on it. I picked it up and brought it home with me. Without much thought, I hung it up on a wall in my home that had the right space for it. It didn’t dawn on me till much later that the wall I chose to hang it on was the most central wall in my house – one that was in the middle and central point of the six lives dwelling in our home. On a wall that supports and holds our home in place soundly. A perfect spot for the encouragement and reminder that God is Love and what we should be modeling our lives after.
Reminding me to have patience when my kids have spilled milk for the fifth time that day (because sometimes it’s hard to not cry over the spilled milk). Patience for the baby clinging to my heels.
Reminding me to do as I always tell my kids, which is to “use kind words in a kind voice,” even when it’s asking the same thing of them for the tenth time. Or to be gentle and kind to all those which I encounter, whether in my home as guests or as soon as I step out of it, because I don’t know what mountains or valleys they are walking through in their life.
Reminding me to not be self-seeking and looking after what I want to do – but to serve my family eagerly.
Reminding me to not be easily angered and to keep no record of wrongs when in conversation with my husband. To not dwell on past hurts from my husband, my friends, family or even the mail lady, but to release them and truly keep no score sheet, no tally marks – no record of wrongs.
Reminding me to keep faith in all things because there is always protection, trust, hope and perseverance in him. Because if God IS love, then God never ever fails.
And that’s the kind of God that I can put my faith in.
Kayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with. Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop. She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family. Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance and strength! She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot. You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.
Author: Lila Diller
My testimony always sounded boring to me. I never had a miraculous change or an obviously God-thing happen so that everyone could hear the “Hallelujah” chorus being sung over my head. I simply grew up in church all my life. I heard all about Jesus and His love for me ever since before I can remember.
My pastor always began the invitation the same way every service: “Bow your head and close your eyes. All those who know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are saved, raise your hands.” I peeked every Sunday and saw everybody raise their hands. “Now,” he would continue, “anybody who couldn’t do that, who doesn’t know for sure that you are saved, raise your hand so I can pray for you.” Nobody ever raised their hands that they weren’t sure.
I asked my mom one day while she was sewing, “Why does everyone get to raise their hands every Sunday at church?” She told me I needed to be saved and taught me the sinner’s prayer. I bowed my head and repeated that prayer, raising my hand right then.
I just wanted to be like everyone else in my church. That’s just what everyone in my world did. Salvation and baptism were just what every good little church girl did. And I was determined to be the best little church girl. I followed all the rules, trying to please my parents, Sunday School teachers, pastor, and school teachers. When my pastor baptized me, he asked me some questions about salvation. I don’t remember what they were or how I answered them, but whatever my serious answers were, they prompted the entire congregation to laugh at me.
The next year, when I was seven, my little sister started asking questions about heaven and hell one night after church. My mom and dad sat us both down and told us again about the Gospel. I felt that I hadn’t really understood it before and was scared to think I might still go to hell whenever I died. I prayed again, and I believe I truly repented that night. But I had already been baptized in front of everybody, so I didn’t tell anyone.
I remember being excited enough to tell the Gospel to my best friend at school. She was shocked when I used the word “hell.” I was always really active in the church youth group and made it a point to “do” my daily devotions every morning.
But I struggled with doubt all through my school years. I would wonder, “What if I didn’t say the right words? What if I didn’t mean it sincerely? What if I hadn’t understood it enough? What if I couldn’t remember the exact date or the exact words I prayed?” I would pray over and over, “Lord, if I wasn’t really saved before, save me now.” But I was never sure.
When I turned 15, the year of spiritual darkness began. I doubted everything I was ever taught, even down to the existence of any god whatsoever! Through soul-searching and a little bit of research in our tiny little school library, I decided there had to be a higher being that created the universe. It couldn’t have just happened for no reason; there is no effect without a cause.
Then I wondered if He was just a Force or maybe the God of the Muslims, Mormons, or Jehovah’s Witnesses. But I had many times before felt Him speak to me through His Word, enough to prove to me that He was the God of the Bible. But was the Bible to be interpreted literally or liberally? I was even forced into debating religion at school. It was me against all my other classmates, who were either Mormons or atheists. I had answers for all of their arguments and questions. But I still doubted every once in a while.
I made the decision early on to go to a Christian college. I desperately prayed, asking for guidance in college choice as well as career choice. I never got a definitive answer for the career, but I felt my choices narrowing and narrowing until I chose PCC. The very first week of my Freshman year, they held a revival. I realized all this time, though I knew the doctrines and believed intellectually in all the right beliefs, I had not been trusting in Jesus alone. I had been trusting—or rather, not trusting but doubting—in my prayer and understanding of my salvation prayer. After that, I never doubted again! “He is faithful and just to cleanse us from all our unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Praise the Lord!
Lila is an author of Christian Romance novels, blogger, and homeschool mom. She loves sushi and Mexican food, Hallmark movies, anything dark chocolate, the color purple, and reading in her pajamas. Lila, outnumbered by a houseful of males, lives with her supportive husband Chris, two energetic boys, and a hyper dog in Statesville, NC. She loves to help readers create romance in their marriages and in their spiritual walks with Jesus. You can find her at liladiller.com and at www.facebook.com/loveisseries.
Author: Karly Grant
Sovereignty. It seems like such a big, daunting word, because it is. To those of us who claim to follow Jesus, God’s sovereignty is at the core of what we believe and walk in. The dictionary defines sovereignty as, “supreme power or authority.” I believe that God’s power and authority is evident throughout scripture and in my own life. The idea of God’s sovereignty seems so intimidating, but really it is simple and allows believers to experience deep freedom.
When I think about the sovereignty of God in the Bible, I immediately think about the book of Exodus. A few years ago I was in a Bible study that went through this book in depth. Every week when we’d get to the last question of the study about how to apply what we had read, my answer was, “God is sovereign. I need to trust that.” The story of Exodus really begins in Genesis with God’s promise to Abraham to make him a great nation–offspring that would be as plentiful as the stars.
Abraham may not have lived to see this promise come to complete fruition, but God, in His sovereignty, ruled Abraham’s descendants. In the book of Exodus, God leads them out of exile and eventually to the promised land. God called Moses to set His people free. He hardened and softened Pharaoh’s heart, and eventually set His people free. Even while the Israelites were wandering in the desert, God was sovereign. He was in control. He provided what they needed and, with love, ruled over them.
God’s sovereignty continued into the New Testament. God sent His son to save us. He has the power to do that. It is because of His authority over the earth that Jesus came down, lived a sinless life, told us how to live, and paid the ultimate price. It is because of God’s sovereignty that He rules over us today and called us to be His children.
During those years I was weekly (if not daily) reminded of God’s sovereignty, and they were needed as I learned to trust His plan and rule in my life. That is still the case today. I am a slow learner, and, really, I think it is a lesson that will take a lifetime to learn.
When my world seems to fall apart, I need to trust God’s authority. The last few years have been extremely difficult for my family. Things have happened that I never imagined, and quite frankly, they tore my family apart. I don’t know why these things happen, and other than a miracle, I don’t see restoration happening this side of Heaven, but I know that I can trust the God who is sovereign in my life. I can rest peacefully and wake up every morning knowing that He is in control.
Currently, as I plan to take a huge step of faith by moving to another state, I am so grateful for the steadfastness of my God. The last few weeks have been stressful as I nail down specifics, such as a place to live. I’m holding closely to Proverbs 16:9 in these times, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
I know that God is in control. He hasn’t stopped providing for me yet, and he won’t. In His time, He will provide a home and a job for me. He is in control. He is sovereign over the world and over my life. I can keep putting one foot in front of the other and following where He leads. He was sovereign over Abraham, Moses, and Jesus’s life on earth. He has had authority and power over my life. He will have all sovereignty for eternity. For that, I am thankful.
Karly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption. God has laid this heavily on her heart and she is willing to trust Him. This homebody is taking the biggest leap of faith yet this spring and moving 1,700 miles away from the life and people she has known as long as she can remember. She is both terrified and so stinking excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.
A parent embodies home, or should, at least. We all began existence within our mother’s body, the womb our first home. Instinctively, children return to mom and dad for safety, sustenance, and support. Our houses may change, but our parents should always feel like home, that is, they were meant to. Sadly, too many of us have had parents that didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t be that sanctuary for us. Whether you had parents who incarnated shalom for you or not, the following is of imperative importance.
What is often unknown, or ignored, is the fact that before we were in our mother’s womb, the creative, giving, life-ordaining mind of God purposed each of us. It is with our Father that we have our true beginning, our true place, our true home. Likewise, it is in God’s accepting, receiving, redeeming presence that we will again return home.
Homing pigeons illustrate homecoming beautifully. They have been used to carry messages from far or unreachable places since 3000 BC. They proclaimed the winner of the Olympics in ancient times, they carried important messages over hostile territory during many wars, including WWI and WWII, and were vital to the success of the Invasion of Normandy. They were used for these endeavors because of their incredible ability to always find home, even over hundreds of miles!
By placing their enclosures in one location and their food in another, homing pigeons have been trained to fly round-trip. Some have been trained to fly over a thousand miles, trusting their homing mechanism to guide them. The term “home in”, which means to focus with intent on something or someone, has its origins in these talented pigeons.
So what are our homing mechanisms? And what do we focus on with intent?
Our spirits are our homing mechanisms. Our spirits were made to exist with the One who made them. They are like internal compasses turning us to our true north. However, they are broken, uncalibrated, and will point us in the wrong directions if left alone. Jesus came to recalibrate us, to reconcile us, to point us heavenward, and to bring us home.
Our true home, in the presence of God, enclosed by His infinite care, is the place of greatest peace. The more intently we focus on Him, the less lost we will be. We will be able to navigate through war and conflict, with persistence and endurance, over short and long distances, in storm and sunshine, knowing that He, our Peace, is our home.
There are fathers on this earth who provide a foundation of peace for their children. These are men who surrender to God, who are consistent and faithful to both God and family, whose children feel absolute certainty that they are cherished and loved. They partake of his peace by being in his presence in all situations.
How much more a foundation, then, is our Father’s peace! He is peace. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – three-in-one who has no division, no competition, no evil within, only wholeness, complete cooperation, and complete power over evil. From this absolute unity he offers us his peace. A peace that passes understanding, a fully confident, unafraid, perfect peace. He gives of himself. Jesus brought us peace as he united our belligerent, broken spirits to our forgiving, peaceful Father.
Much like homing pigeons brought to a foreign location and charged with carrying a message, we live on this earth as foreigners (Hebrews 11:13) and are charged with carrying the message of peace. We go, winging our way on winds of peace, offering the olive branch to those who might receive it. When Jesus sent out the seventy-two disciples in Luke 10:5-6, he told them, “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.” Whether the people in our lives receive the message of peace or not, we return to our home, to the peace of God, to dwell there and be sent out again. Thus, it is vital to the peace of this world, that we live in the presence of peace daily. We, too, must become characterized by peace for our message to be received.