Friday, September 25, 2015

Five Minute Friday - Doubt

    Doubt gets a bad rap. It is thought of as the opposite of belief, and belief is shining example of all that we are supposed to do and be as Christians. Rather than opposite, in my life, doubt has been the beginning of true belief. Doubt acknowledges that there are questions that cannot be answered easily. Doubt is an honest struggle with what we believe to be true and what reality looks like all around us. Doubt is saying to God, “I don’t get it. How does this (whatever this is) line up with what I have learned about Your character? Help me make sense out of this.”
     My belief is that God can handle doubt. He is a big God. He is well aware that there will be questions, and concerns, and doubts. He is ready, willing, and able to answer them all. When we come to Him and admit our doubt, He is able to prove Himself to us. When we hide our confusion and our questions, we are basically saying that we don’t believe He is capable of an answer. The Bible tells us that those who seek will find. That gives me permission to seek. It gives me permission to ask the hard questions and believe that He will answer them.

          Doubt is not the opposite of belief. Doubt is the catalyst for making a belief solid. Wrestle with God. Take your doubt to Him and let Him work in and through it. Then your belief will be stronger and more powerful because it will be real.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


     Words, words, words. I love the way they sound, the way they look, and the meaning they carry. I love studying the history and meaning of words. I love playing around with them to see which combination works best to explain something to someone else. I just love words.
     Perhaps it is my love for them that gives them so much power. Or maybe, since God used words to create the entire universe, they are just powerful. Whatever the reason, words have the power to inspire, encourage, and motivate, or destroy, damage, and cause immense pain.  
     Sometimes, we know are words will hurt another, they may have been chosen for that purpose. In other situations, words meant for other reasons still wound the hearers of our words. 
Just recently, I chose to speak the words that I would have wanted to hear. The ones that would have made me feel better. I did not take the time to think about how my friend would hear them. Thankfully, she was honest with me and let me know that my words had hurt her. It was a tough two days, but we worked through it and I am grateful that I can see another perspective.
     It gave me pause to think that words meant to help instead hurt. How was I to trust my words if they were so confusing? Two things stuck out to me as I processed this incident along with a couple of others where I was wounded by words others spoke. First, I need to be very clear on the reason I choose to speak, type, or write. My motives may have been good, but what was my true intent behind sharing them with my friend. Was it to ease my own anxiety? Was it to try and gain extra friendship points, was it me trying to prove something to her or to myself? When I take the time to examine exactly why I feel I need to share, it gives me clarity. It also allows me to choose the words that will best convey the meaning I desire them to contain. I am able to carefully choose just the ones that right for that person, that situation, and most clearly communicate my thoughts.
     Second, not every word that I think needs to make its way out of my mouth. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:29, "Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." My thoughts don't always meet this qualification. When a thought comes to my head that would only hurt the people I around me, I don't need to share it. This doesn't mean that I don't tell people truth. Truth is valuable and necessary. Just being annoyed, or frustrated, does not give me the right to share those thoughts. I need to weigh my words carefully before sharing them with others. 
     All of this does mean that I won't use as many words. The good news is that when I choose my words carefully, they are much more powerful. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Really God, Patience?

     It's been a week. It has been a long, powerful, beautiful, heartbreaking week. The amount of good and the amount hard in this week is indescribable. So I a head full of words that are all mixed up. There is so much that I want to say, so much I need to say. Too much, apparently, because none of them are coming together to create sentences that other people would understand. I have been at this computer typing word after word, and then erasing word after word, for almost four hours. Just a moment ago, I decided to take a break and spend some time in prayer and reading my Bible. When all the things become too much, when all my thoughts and feelings are a mixed up jumble that I can't make sense of, I can trust Him to calm me, to guide me. So I prayed, and decided to start with a short devotion. 
     When I found today inside the book, I just shook my head and laughed. The verse, "And so after he had patiently endured..." My thoughts went something like this, "Really, God. Just really. I opened this book so that You could give me a verse about Your blessing, or Your faithfulness, or Your anything other than me having patience!"
     Turns out that if you keep reading, there are blessings to patience. "And so, after he had patiently  endured, he obtained the promise." (Hebrews 6:15) This verse is in reference to Abraham, who spent a good deal of his entire life being patient and waiting for God to fulfill His promises. Those years were hard on almost every level. He suffered through much while he was waiting. That last part though, 'he obtained the promise'. That part - it makes it worth it. It also makes it bearable. 
     God has given us promises as well. He has promised us salvation through His son. He has promised us that He will be with us. He has promised us that He will wipe away every tear. I need that promise.  I need to know that even though today was filled with junk, pain, and fear, there is coming a tomorrow that will be filled with joy. 
     Not much has changed during the time since I read that verse. Really, just my heart. My heart can now rest in the truth that God keeps His promises. It can rest in the story of Abraham and the knowledge that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever and I can trust Him. I don't know what tomorrow holds. I just know who holds me. And tonight, that is more than enough.