If I’m Sowing Good, Where are the Blossoms?

Author: Deb Gruelle

Sometimes I’m shocked by the ways my life hasn’t followed the good dreams and plans that I’ve made as a Christian woman who loves God with all her heart. I’ve tried to follow God and sow good seeds that will grow to an abundance of good in later life.

  • When seven babies died, five adoptions fell through, and I waited seventeen years to fill our family with three children, I doubted God’s love for me.
  • When chronic illness struck, I doubted my worth to the world.
  • When my children, those desperately-prayed-for blessings, made choices that went against biblical morals, I doubted my identity as a good mother.

The funny thing is that even through all of this I’ve never doubted God’s reality. I was introduced to Jesus early in life, and God made such logical sense to me. I could see His fingerprints in the world around me. I could see Him working in my family’s lives. I couldn’t imagine life without God. I know this is different than some people, maybe I was given the gift of faith.

Deb Gruelle Doubt

What I began to doubt was God’s love for me. It happened insidiously over time as huge tsunami waves crashed on my life again and again. As devastating circumstances continued, I kept reading verses that said I’d reap what I sowed. I believed if I sowed righteousness I’d surely be rewarded. (Proverbs 11:18; 14:14; Galatians 6:7)

I grew up in a strong Christian family where I saw God reward good choices. When that didn’t happen to me, did that mean the reverse was true also? How could bad things keep happening in my life when I was also trying to follow God wholeheartedly?  When longings of my heart went unanswered year after year, I began to believe God must be angry at me. For many years, I felt confusion over these verses. I believed lies about my worth that separated me from feeling God’s love.

It took me many years to understand how Jesus balanced the truth of those verses with His parable about the sower in Luke 8. In this parable, He tells about a farmer sowing seeds. Then He talks about how the seeds fell on different types of soil. Depending on the soil each seed landed on, some grew and even flourished, but some didn’t grow at all or didn’t grow well. He said the Word of God is the seed that is sewn into hearts.

If we could count on this principle always holding true—that what each person sows always directly relates to what they’ll reap, surely the seeds of the Word of God would always flourish. But this parable says that isn’t true. There are many more things that act on our choices in life that play into the results. And in this story, God wasn’t angry at the farmer because he chose the wrong seeds or sowed them wrong. Sure, we can sow wisely to ensure that our seeds have the best chance at flourishing, but some failure is expected. No fault is laid on the sower for this.

I finally understood that when bad things happen in my life it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not pleasing God. What if Jesus thought He wasn’t pleasing God because He had to face the cross? I had to trust in God’s bigger, love-infused, long-term viewpoint.

I have no idea what the future holds in so many areas of my life. If I depend on future blessings to validate my worth, my understanding of God’s love for me will be short-sighted and wobbly. Instead, if I understand that my job is to snuggle up close to God, to first let His love flow into me, then out to others through me, that’s all I need to do to please Him and live in victory. If I keep my focus on His love for me, that gives me the strength to not grow weary in sowing seeds of good. The results aren’t my business—the results are God’s responsibility.

Doubt Deb Gruelle

I love to garden now. I’m still sad when I see a bud form that never flowers. But even in gardening, experiencing loss makes the vibrant blooms that much more precious. Either way, I’m going to continue gardening—sowing good seeds and watering them. That’s my focus in partnering with God to plant beauty, that and living in the truth that I’m loved by my Creator. I’ll be thankful when God brings blossoms, but I won’t let them determine whether God loves me.


_Best Headshot CLOSEUP SMALL FILE SIZE 11_16 Copyright Patti Mustain SeekingHisLight.comDeb Gruelle, best-selling author of Ten Little Night Stars (2018) and Aching for a Child (2019), serves as chaplain for Inspire Christian Writers, as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), and a Stephen Minister. Featured on radio broadcasts including Family Life Today and speaking across the country, she invites listeners to embrace both courage and rest for wholehearted living. 
 Web: http://www.debgruelle.com/ Find more from Deb on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

 

Check out her latest book:

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Mending Broken Vases

Author: Rebecca L. Mitchell

After my marriage failed, I fell into a dark season of doubt.

Many of my doubts revolved around myself. No longer wanted by my husband, I felt unlovable, ugly, a failure as a woman. I also questioned my ability to be a loving mother to my daughters, as I seemed to fail them, at least in my mind, in some way every day. Could I ever be whole again as a woman and a mother?

In such a daze of pain, I couldn’t imagine a bright, hopeful future or even a dull, decent one. I figured I would be able to function enough to stumble through life, but I thought oppressive grief, wounded anger, and aching loneliness would be my constant companions. I doubted I could regain emotional balance or normalcy.

If doubt is feeling uncertain about something, especially about the possibility of something good, I had it in spades. I couldn’t see good ahead. My biggest dream was just not to feel pain; I had no expectations of joy, no hope. For me, the opposite of doubt was not belief, but hope.

Rebecca L. Mitchell Doubt.png

I wish I could say that this is when I found Jesus, asked Him into my life, and never encountered my ugly companions of grief, anger, and loneliness again. The truth is, I already knew Jesus and had known Him for years. I didn’t doubt God’s presence in my life or His love for me—although I’m sure He could have handled it if I had. My faith in God was strong, growing, in fact, as I was clinging to Him in desperate survival mode. But I still struggled to have hope.

This doubt or loss of hope is common in the midst of deep pain and brokenness whether it’s from the loss of a loved one, financial hardship, or the shame of our own sin. Even if we aren’t struggling through ground-shaking chaos, we still get stuck. We doubt life can get better, or that we can change our bad habits. Our negative internal dialogue is on repeat, our smiles forced for public consumption.

Eventually, my genuine smile returned. Slowly, over time, God restored my hope: “Yes, my soul, find rest in God, my hope comes from Him” (Psalm 62:5). I learned He is not only able to restore me, He is willing. Scripture abounds with His ability and willingness to provide hope and restoration. Hannah was blessed with a child after years of infertility and Joseph became second in charge after slavery and imprisonment. Often, the psalmist, who begins with a cry of despair, ends with praise, adoration, and hope, even if the circumstances haven’t changed.

Doubt Rebecca L. Mitchell

The art of Kintsugi is a beautiful illustration of this hope of a restored life. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending broken pottery with resin combined with gold dust. The veins of gold along the broken lines enhance instead of diminish the beauty of the piece. God is a patient Kintsugi artist, melding our broken pieces into masterpieces.

My transformation from doubtful to hopeful has been frustratingly slow at times, but it has been genuine and true. Awareness of God’s deep, reckless love for me has moved from head knowledge to heart conviction. Amazingly, I now understand His desire to heal my brokenness surpasses my desire to be healed. I know that I know that I know, God’s plan for me is a life restored, full of joy and hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).


Rebecca L. Mitchell Blog post submission about doubt for OctoberRebecca writes with a passion to see women come alongside each other in their healing journeys. She is celebrating the release of her first book, From Broken Vows to Healed Hearts: Seeking God After Divorce Through Community, Scripture, and Journaling. Her day job is teaching English composition at UC Davis.
Find more from Rebecca at her blog http://rebeccamitchellauthor.com, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

Faith in the Face of Doubt

Show me a Christian and you will have shown me a human prone to doubt.  Faith isn’t for the weak.  It takes a certain amount of tenacity to stand faithful to God alone while the world calls us foolish, silly, and uneducated.  It takes a level of tenacity to stand firm in faith when life, or perhaps our enemy, throws flaming arrows of difficulty at us.  Sickness, death, sorrow, financial ruin, and abuse are enough to make even the stoutest believer cry out in dismay.  Why does God allow such turmoil?  Why is life so hard?

It isn’t just the harsh reality of this life that allows doubt to creep in.  Our own sin issues get in the way of believing.  Fear, insecurity, selfish ambition, greed, and pride all raise their head in defiance at faith.

In fact, faith is not for the weak or foolish.  Faith is the life song of those with enough grit to quiet their prideful heart, and trust God in the deepest, darkest periods of life. Faith fills individuals with enough tenacity to cling to what is unseen when what is seen is ugly and painful.  Faith is for those willing to put aside their own ideas, dreams, and perceptions and ask the unseen God of the universe to “take the wheel” and drive their life.  It isn’t a crutch.  It isn’t easy.

Jacqi Kambish Doubt.png

Is it not easier to live our lives the way we want?  To pursue money and ambition and fame?  Is it not simpler to do what makes us happy with little regard for the next person?  Is it not more convenient to believe that our lives are our own and subject to no one else, not even God?

From the outside to those looking in, I know that I seem like a good person with a good life marked by good things. Others may question, what can I know of sorrow, pain and questioning God?  Yet my song, the song of my soul, is His Eye is On the Sparrow because I do know sorrow.  Sorrow so deep my heart sometimes feels ready to burst out of my chest under the pressure of the pain.  Sorrow that tears can’t describe; the sorrow of a life touched by illness, death, murder, suicide, mental illness, poverty, and abuse.  A life that was uprooted and left without a home for so many years that the idea of home seemed lost forever; a thing to be grasped that lays just out of reach.

My life…

But, even in the darkness and the sorrow, there is a knowing.  The kind of centered knowing that can only be found with a solid faith foundation in Christ Jesus, carried on by the work of the Holy Spirit, and rooted in experiencing the great and gracious love of God the Father.

In those dark spaces…there is no room for doubt.  Doubt is a liar.  Doubt is a thief that steals our joy and gets us off the right path.  And yet, Doubt is there.  Always questioning, always wondering.  And questioning and wondering bring new understanding and new insight.  Maybe it isn’t the doubt itself that causes us to lose our way, but the fear of what we will find when we wonder.

Fear, it seems to me, is the real enemy behind our doubt.  The enemy that says, don’t ask and don’t wonder and don’t grow.  Fear, as Zach Williams sings, is the liar behind us whispering that the truth is too hard and too scary and too disappointing.

But, fear can’t stand and doubts melt into assurance in the face of truth.  The truth is that we are wanted, loved, and precious Children of God Almighty.  We are righteous without our own merit and forgiven.  We are reconciled, and our souls are eternally free.  The truth is that no weapons formed against us can stand and the enemy must flee at the name of Jesus.  The truth is that we can suit up, arm up, and pray against our enemy and victory can be ours, in the name of Jesus.  We are filled by the Holy Spirit, backed up by the heavenly hosts, and set free by the blood of Christ!!

Doubt Jacqi Kambish

Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8: 32 and Paul said, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…”  Ephesians 6: 14. Truth takes the power away from doubt and casts out fear. So, put on the belt of truth, rebuke fear, and stand firm in the face of doubt.

No, life isn’t perfect.  Sometimes we don’t understand why things happen.  Pain and sorrow can be overwhelming and hard to take.  Sickness can be discouraging and relentless, but even then…

Even then, I am learning to “sing because I’m happy.”  Not happy with circumstances, but happy because my soul is free, restored, and whole, because my eternity is secure with Christ and I know this life isn’t all there is.  In that, there is also hope.  And Hope and Truth shut the mouth of Doubt.


Jacqi KambishJacqi Kambish is a Christian mom to three spirited children striving to balance the daily demands of parenting a child with special needs and meeting the needs of typically developing siblings while working full time and writing.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry from William Jessup University.  Jacqi lives with her family in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and enjoys reflectively writing about parenting, faith, and the joys and trials of life while leaving her readers with hope and encouragement.  Her blog The Presumptuous Ladybug can be found at and you can connect with her on Facebook

Who am I?

Author: Karly Grant

One thing that never ceases to amaze me (although I shouldn’t be surprised by it) is how when there’s something I’m supposed to hear or learn, God uses several different people and situations to teach me. He reminds me of that thing and makes it abundantly clear that I need to listen to what He has to say. Well, folks, it’s happened yet again. Over the last couple of weeks, the words in Psalm 139 have played this role. I’ve heard them in podcasts, sermons, and even Instagram stories. On sleepless nights when I need these words to seemingly random Facebook posts, I’ve been dwelling on, proclaiming, and praying over these words more times than I can count as God consistently lays them across my path.

While dwelling on the theme of identity, I was almost instantly reminded of something that I wrote a while back and knew that I needed to find it. After a little perusing, I found a note that I had posted on Facebook a decade ago. Guess what passage I’d included at the end? That’s right, Psalm  139.

I have edited the note a bit, but the message remains the same. I pray you are blessed and see how perfectly God created you in His image through these words.

Who Am I?

I am Karly Grant.

Possibly one day that will change.

I long for the day when I meet the man that God has for me to spend the rest of my life with, the man whose name I will take.

Who is He? When will God reveal His plan? What is His timing?

I long for that relationship, that companionship, that connection that can only be found in a marriage lived out by God’s design.

I long for the day when my husband and I will raise children: teach them God’s love, teach them to ride a bike, teach them to swim, teach them…

I long to hear their laughter, their tears, to play with them, pray with them, and comfort them.

I long for a family of my own.

I long to be a wife and a mother through the joys and the pain.

Someday, I may have this, but even if not, God is still good.

Karly Grant Identity

I am Karly Grant.

Who am I?

I am a follower of Christ.

I am created in the image of my God and live to bring Him glory.

Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. He has rescued me from an eternity in hell. For that alone, I owe Him my everything, so why don’t I give it?

I strive to follow Him, to live a life after the example that He gave.

By His grace alone, I have come a long way.

I have been so blessed.

My life has drastically changed.

I know this, yet still, I wander.

Still, I fail, yet even when I fail, He is still there, still holding on to me.

I am His child. He never lets go.

I strive to live a life that is pleasing to Him,

Strive to let his light and love pour out of me and onto others.

I want to be like Him: love like Him, live like Him, serve like Him, pray like Him, bless like Him, follow Him.

I am a follower of Christ

Who am I?

I am many people, yet only one. I have many names, yet I am one person.

I am a child of God

I am a daughter

I am a sister

I am a friend

I am a prayer partner

I am forgiven

I am a co-worker

I am a worshiper

I am a witness

I am a shoulder to cry on

I am a ball of laughter

I am God’s chosen one

I am a woman

So, who am I?

I am many different people,

but most of all I am exactly who God has made me to be!

Identity Karly Gant

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
 behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
For you formed my inward parts;
 you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
 How vast is the sum of them!
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
 Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139: 1-4, 13-17, 23-24 (ESV)

Karly Grant headshotKarly 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.

Finding Identity Through Faith

I stared at my reflection in the mirror.  The image that stared back was different than the one other people seemed to see.  Inside, behind those eyes, was more…so much more.   I knew I was plain.  The world had made that perfectly clear, but the problem wasn’t my reflection so much as my inability to self- identify.

Over the years I had heard over and over again that our identity was found in Christ Jesus; that purpose came from living for God and bringing him honor.  I didn’t doubt it.  But that wasn’t the problem either.  My problem was that I didn’t know who I was, or at least I didn’t know how to explain who I was, even to myself.

Identity Jacqi Kambish (3).png

 

My friends could describe themselves in ways I could not.  I never had favorites.  “Favorite” is a term I’ve adopted to describe my current loves, but I don’t have true favorites.  I don’t have a favorite color, a favorite animal, a favorite book, a favorite band, movie, author, subject, food…I don’t have favorites.  I might as well try to pick a favorite star in the sky!  On any given day I may say my favorite color is crimson red, or purple, or yellow.  I might tell you that I love pizza best, or taquitos, or baked potatoes.  I might tell you my preferred creature is a ladybug or a turtle. It’s possible I could tell you that my favorite hobby is painting, snowboarding, reading, drinking coffee, or perhaps writing. I might tell you that what I like best is being with people…except for when I need to be alone.

I can’t tell you what I am specifically passionate about either.  If you ask me what my passions are, I am overcome with the endless number of possible answers, but what I can tell you is that…

I don’t know.

Deep inside is, actually, an eclectic love of many things.  I don’t know what I am most passionate about, but I’d be excited to talk with you about black holes, the lifespan of a turtle, the fact that ladybugs are opportunists, the law of gravity, puppy training, and Jesus (to name a few things.)  I can’t tell you what I like best to eat, but I can tell you that what matters is that I get to eat with you.  I may not be able to tell you my favorite color or my “life verse”  from the Bible, but I am excited by the opportunity to tell you about  God and to share how he is at work in my life.

I can tell you that I love coffee, but I can’t tell you what type or flavor I like best.  I can’t tell you who or what I am because…

What I kept deep inside, for so many years was that I am all of it.  I am a jack of all trades and a master of none.  I am a multipotentialite and an avid learner.  I am passionate about everything; all of it, at the same time.  I am dedicated to painting when painting is called for, reading when reading is called for, building when building is called for, creating when creating is called for, helping when helping is called for, and researching when researching is called for. Nothing is out of reach and yet…everything is.

Jacqi Kambish Identity.png

And there I am, gazing into the mirror, wondering what actually defines me, when I can’t even tell you what my favorite things are.  A crisis of identity arises in the swirl or thoughts while the face in the mirror furors her brows.

And then in the quiet, a gentle whisper breathes, “You are mine.”  And there is rest in that.  Rest in knowing that my identity truly does come from someone deep enough and vast enough to see and hold the entire universe in his hand.  And even if I am a builder,  writer, student, wife, mother, researcher, minister, gardener, and a teacher on any given day, the one thing that always remains true is that I am a Christian.  Even if my favorite color is different today than yesterday, my faith in God is not.  Faith is the anchor of my soul, strengthened by other anchored voices of hope, and that is who I am.  That is my identity: I am a believer, I am a vessel of hope, and I am God’s.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:10

 


Jacqi KambishJacqi Kambish is a Christian mom to three spirited children striving to balance the daily demands of parenting a child with special needs and meeting the needs of typically developing siblings while working full time and writing.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry from William Jessup University.  Jacqi lives with her family in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and enjoys reflectively writing about parenting, faith, and the joys and trials of life while leaving her readers with hope and encouragement.  Her blog The Presumptuous Ladybug can be found at and you can connect with her on Facebook.

The Contagious Conviction of Love

Like a moth enraptured by the light, I stood just on the edges of a circle of people hovering to listen. It seemed as though the sounds and words were woven together into a third dimension, as the musicians allowed their joy and assurance to bubble out through their music-making. Their skills good, but their hearts even brighter, they summoned me and others forth into the music. Into worship.

The first time this happened to me I was a music major in college. The musicians had learned music in a cobbled fashion, picking things up as they went from whomever they could. I had been given the streamlined education destined to shoot the straight and narrow into performance. But their music was wholly ragged, entirely captivating, and contagiously convicting. The difference was that they were not focused on playing beautiful music, rather, they focused on worshipping and beauty naturally flowed through it.

Kimberley Mulder Conviction

I looked for opportunities to be with them, to listen and learn because their confidence was so attractive. They were the first people I met who were utterly convinced that Jesus loved them, and loved us. I am sure they could not have kept silent even if they wanted to.

We most often speak of being convicted of sin, but these friends of mine lived convicted of love. Like sparks among dry wood, I and others caught the flame, becoming certain of love ourselves. I left my path to performance, in more ways than one, to live out these certainties.

Conviction Kimberley Mulder

Twenty years later, I picked up my tattered musical training and offered to use it to worship in Asia. I joined two leaders whose contagious conviction is that all are welcome, most especially, the children. I have never encountered two people more convinced of the powerful love of God poured out into welcoming children. They heartily embrace the belief that children are full-grown citizens in the kingdom of God, able despite their lack of experience, and powerful in their powerlessness. We, adults, are to welcome, bless, give opportunity, and encourage them.

Like my college friends, they invite and welcome all regardless of skill. Skill level does not dictate participation. Response to the welcome and willingness governs it. As an outcome of their contagion, our worship team traveling halfway around the world was made up of a nineteen-year-old, one fifteen-year-old, two fourteen-year-olds, a twelve-year-old, and then the leaders and my husband and I!

The young ones’ emerging skills, my rusty ones, and all those present were bound together into the warm flame of worship, and a beauty like none other rolled through it. Those listening felt it, saw it, and they gathered around the light of God and were re-ignited in love which they now carry with them into the countries of Asia.

 


2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and shares on her blog Living a Mary Life in a Martha World.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

Anticipating Celebration

When I think of celebration, I can’t help thinking of the wait that’s so often attached.

I think of the unfulfilled callings held quietly inside for years – either left on a back burner or pursued unsuccessfully over and over again; until suddenly God brings all the right pieces together in a whirlwind of motion.

I think of the woman who bore a disfiguring tumor for decades before God provided an opportunity for surgery as the answer to her prayers. Or the joyful praise of a man who’d  just regained his sight after being blind for half his life. And the teenager who spent several years in a wheelchair, unsure if she’d ever walk again – until she did.

Celebration Rachel Olson

The depth of celebration witnessed in long-awaited moments feels like a glimpse of heaven.

We see it in the Bible as well.

It’s the story of Abraham and Sarah – when God promised them a son, they were full of doubt and went looking for their own shortcuts; God fulfilled his promise through the birth of Isaac.

It’s the Israelites, who lived in slavery for 400 years before God parted the Red Sea and rescued them from Egypt. If that hadn’t felt long enough already, they went straight into wandering the desert for 40 years before entering the Promised Land.

Throughout the Old Testament, God’s people lived in a state of waiting, hoping for the day when the promised Messiah would come.

It’s the story of Jesus himself, when he entered the tomb and the world held its breath for 3 days.

Rachel Olson Celebrate

Today it’s our story as we wait to see God’s faithfulness in the little details of everyday life, and as we wait for the ultimate celebration. Hearts longing for a place better than this one; longing for the day when Jesus will be nearer than ever before. When all darkness and pain will be swept away.

When doubt and discouragement come, may we look to stories from the past to remind us of God’s constant faithfulness. The wait may be long, but celebration is coming.

“Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.”  (Psalm 111:2-4)


Rachel Olson HeadshotRachel 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.

 

Photos from Pixabay.

 

 

Indescribable Glory

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.

Holly Hawes Character of GodMany 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

The Character of God Holly HawesThere 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-squareHolly 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.