WIRED FOR RELATIONSHIPS

Written by: Christianne Williams

I’m a communicator.  That’s my love language.  I ask my husband and my kids hundreds of questions to try to spark conversation and I usually end up with one-word answers.  You wouldn’t think it if you met my husband because he really can talk, but he has a quiet side and that’s usually what shows up at home.  Now, if you met my two oldest boys you’d quickly see that what I say is true.  They’re great kids, and can have really intelligent dialogue when they’re in the right mood, but most days they aren’t and all I can squeeze out are answers like ‘fine’ and ‘good’ to ‘how was your day?’  This also extends to texting.  I send long, detailed texts, explaining the finer details of everything, leaving nothing out only to receive something like ‘nice’ in return.

My two youngest, now they’re a different story.  They chatter all day long.  From the time their eyes open in the morning to the time they go to bed at night, and sometimes the occasional sleep talking session occurs.  It’s nice that half the family takes after me and half after their Dad.  Don’t get me wrong, we have healthy relationships with each other, we just aren’t all talkers.  I have found that the quiet tribe in our household listen well, they hear what’s being said, they are involved in life, just not commenting on everything as I am.

What I noticed while having a coffee break at a local restaurant the other day has got me thinking though.  How ‘present’ are we in every day conversations with people we come in contact with?  I was sitting there, on my phone checking emails, when I noticed a young family not too far away.  There were three young children with their Mom and Dad, and they were waiting for their food.  As the children were chatting and asking questions, it was apparent that the parents were caught up in the world through the window of their phones and were not hearing what the kids were saying to them.

That night when I got home I sat down in my chair to relax, with my phone, and started browsing Facebook, looked for bunkbeds on Kijiji, checked in with Instagram to see what was going on with friends, and pinned a few things on Pintrest that I would likely never again look at.  And then I looked up.  And it hit me.  We were all in the living room together, but that’s where it ended.  Each of us was giving full attention to the technology in our hands and no awareness of the moments were missing with each other.

I look and see how quickly my children are growing, how they’re changing and how their view of life is being formed.  I don’t want to lose my influence with them.  We were “wired” for relationships, first with our Heavenly Father, but then with the family we have been given.  What’s replacing that though is the constant access we have to everything else, things that distract us from what really important and moments that make a difference.  I started thinking, ‘Am I really training up these children in the way they should go?’  or am I lost in my own cyber world leaving them to find their own way?

I know that all the advancements in technology has not made life worse, but I do believe we need to be aware of the moments we may be missing if we get our priorities mixed up.  I made a decision:  I will make sure my relationship with God is first and then I will make sure I’m not just asking questions to create meaningless conversation, but I will allow God to show me what questions to ask to bring us closer into relationship with Him and with each other.

 

It’s Too Hard

Written by: Christianne Williams

There was screaming, crying, and tears.  Lots and lots of tears.  There were adamant declarations of “I will not do this!  I will never do this!”  And then the questions, “Why are you making me do this?  Why do I need to do this?”  And then the pleading, “Please don’t make me do this!  I just can’t do this!”  And I’ve not heard these things once – no, I’ve heard them many times over the years.  You may be asking what situation I’m speaking of that could evoke such drama, such strong feelings of dread.  Or maybe you’re wondering who these pleas came from.  Any homeschooling family can probably tell you that these are the scenes that occur everyday, or at least every second day, while you have preschoolers who you are encouraging to learn new things.

The greatest battle I fought in this arena was the one with my eldest son on the journey to independent reading.  He bucked me at every turn, even pulling the, “Mom you’re such a good reader, why should I learn when you do it so well!”  and trying to convince his brother, two  years his junior, that it would be great if could just be the early reader of the family.  Every day began with Battle Royale over Sing Spell Read and Write, so much so that I almost considered giving in to his pleas and letting him be illiterate for a while longer.

Imagine my delight when my second loved reading, however, it quickly faded when I discovered we would endure the same battle, only with math.  And then our next son was so active every subject was like gym class, and finally here I am again in the middle of teaching our final child the importance of the English language.  This time I’m worrying less about it because I realize that  eventually my boys actually did learn to read.  And add.  And subtract.  And dissect a sentence.  And they learned many other things that they flat out refused to attempt in the early days of homeschooling.

One thing that was consistent in all of them was the unique ways each of them learned.  They didn’t all fit in the same box.  They didn’t all learn at the same rate, or enjoy the same things. The education game has been different with each child and each passing day.  I quickly learned that forcing them all into the same box wasn’t going to work and would leave us feeling frustrated, and what’s worse, leaving them feeling like they couldn’t do it.  Expecting the same from all of them was not realistic.  How could my seven year old be expected to understand things the same way my 16 year old does?  She hasn’t the experience in life that he does.  In the same way, I can’t expect him to be able to make life decisions the way I can, I have much more life experience than he does.

Life is a journey, we’re all learning, we’re all in different stages of the process.  Like children learning new things in school, we all learn at different rates, through different circumstances, and God knows which ones will help each of grow.  He understands our unique learning styles and knows how to nurture us each in the ways that will shape us into mature believers.  I’ve found myself feeling discouraged because people around me seem to be more spiritual, they seem to understand more or have more insight.  Feeling disqualified because they seem to have it all together and I don’t feel like I ever will.  That’s not how God sees any of us though, He sees us as beautiful works of art.  He adds to the picture as we walk along, as we grow the picture changes.

Just as my kids learned what they needed to at appropriate times in their lives, we will as well as long we submit to His leading.  He’s a good and patient Father, one who loves us and desires to see us move on to maturity.  I know how exciting it is when a child gets a new concept, and I can just know that Father God is excited when we learn something new.  He’s cheering us on, encouraging us to try one more time, to ask for His help, to submit to His will.  So many times I find myself with same attitude my children had – it’s too hard, I’ll never be able to do that, please don’t make me go that way- and each time I hear Him say, “You can do it!”  “I’m right here with you!”  “I’m pleased with you!”

The True Heart of the Father is Exposed

Written by: Christianne Williams

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight” Proverbs 3:5-6

“I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16

Very simple verses that anyone who ever went to Sunday school has heard.  If you grew up in church then these were likely the some of the first ones you even put to memory.  In fact, they may have been rehearsed so many times that the message they convey may have been lost.  The meaning in these simple truths is very deep.   The map for peace and joy are found here, the true heart of the Father is exposed here.  The words are simple, the requirements are simple, and yet very difficult sometimes.

God loves us!  He created us, and since He knows the end from the beginning, He knew how things would go in the garden.  While it must’ve broken His heart that even in the early days of life there was a lack of trust in what He had spoken, He showed them the plan of restoration.  That’s love.  To come up with a way that people, who knew they were disobeying Him, could not only be reconciled but restored shows a love that’s so great —it’s amazing!  Just think about the depth of that love, there is a way for anyone who believes in Him to make their way to the cross for restoration, a new life, and a new perspective.

When we come to Him and put our trust in Him He lavishes that love upon us. He wants us to have a revelation of how much we are loved so we can show that love to others.  Freely we have received, freely we give.  It cost Jesus His life, but was given to us with only the cost of loving Him and following His leading.  I’ve often felt that the only way I can truly walk in the calling He’s placed on me is if I perform well enough, if I have it all figured out, if I don’t ‘mess up’.  The problem with this way of thinking is that I can never be good enough.

My job is to focus on what He’s already done, to love Him back, and then to be amazed at how he shows me how to live in a way that pleases Him.  This life is a journey, none of us have full revelation of everything that the kingdom of God is, we just have to wake up each morning ready for a new adventure.  Trust in Him with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  If it doesn’t make sense to you – that’s ok, but trust His heart for you.  Trust in the truth that if you give up your understanding and say, ‘I don’t understand but I believe you’ve promised good things for my life’; He will not let you down.

I’ve lived through some experiences that make absolutely no sense and while I was focusing only on what I could see with my physical eyes.  God faithfully brought along people who would speak into my life and bring encouragement without ever knowing my situation.  Those encounters spoke to my spirit about how concerned He is for me, that He wants me to know His nearness and compassion.  My prayer recently changed to “Lord let me be the encouragement to someone who needs to know they’re loved by You and You’ve got this for them”.

He promises strength, and He will deliver.  He promises direction, and He will deliver.  He promises eternal life, and He will deliver.  Whatever promise He gives is sure to be fulfilled.  Trust in His heart and not in your own ways and He will not disappoint.

Be Still

Written by: Christianne Williams

Be still.  That can be tough.  When I think about being still, my children as toddlers always comes to my mind.  They would run about here and there from the time they got up in the morning until they laid their heads down at night.  One of my children in particular didn’t even really stop through the night.  There were constant trips to bathroom and pleas for water, hugs, and rescuing blankies that had suddenly vanished.  Taking them to places where being still was appreciated always made me anxious, because without fail they call upon some hidden energy store and need to be busier than normal.

I remember one time in particular one of my boys was being really loud and fidgety while a missionary was giving a presentation.  I got so tired of ‘shhhh’ing and trying to keep him still that I decided to take him to the nursery.  On our way he out, he asked very loudly, “Are you going to spank me?”  In this instance my son’s struggling got him where he wanted to be, in a place he could be free, not bound to sitting and coloring.  In life, though, struggling never helps us to achieve what God has for us, it simply wears us down.

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is getting closer to God and resting in His plan, asking Him for wisdom, and believing He’s going to work things for my good even if I don’t see evidence of it with my natural eyes.  It means being aware of how you’re viewing the situation around you, how you’re dealing with it, the action you’re taking.  Sometimes we feel like reacting instead of praying for wisdom and waiting until we get revelation on how to proceed.  Sometimes we try so hard in our own strength to change the way things are, the situation we find ourselves in, when what really brings peace is to say, “Ok God, what are you going to do here?”

I’ve had days when it really feels like everything is set up against me, like there’s no way good can happen, and I have to find a way to still my mind before the Lord and ask Him to bring me peace while He works things out.  Getting alone with Him and asking for a new perspective, for revelation about what you’re facing, that’s where we find perfect peace.  It doesn’t mean that the storm will pass right away, it may rage for awhile, but it brings an awareness of His nearness and the truth that He goes along beside us.

The more time you make to be still before Him, the easier it will become to trust Him to work things out for your good, regardless of the process He takes you through.  I’ve been in situations that make no sense, and quite honestly struggling through, trying to come up with a solution or a plan of some sort, has never worked.  What did work is realizing that my Father is good.  No matter how many people here turn against you, He never will.  No matter how many times we mess up with our reactions, He will always be faithful to help us back up.

I read something on social media the other day that I really like, and it sums up a new mindset I’ve tried to adopt.  “Instead of saying ‘Lord I don’t know how I am going to do this’, say ‘Lord, I can’t wait to see how You do this’”.  Be still. No struggling. Allow excitement to fill your heart over how He will work this out!

Where Is Your Focus?

Written by: Christianne Williams

I always believed I was a person who lacked the ability to focus.  My mind would wander from one thing to another, I would seldom finish things that I started and this left me feeling overwhelmed.  My husband is my opposite, they do say it happens that way.  He is driven.  If he starts something, he will most certainly finish it and do it well.  Sometimes this has caused conflict because he comes behind me, seeing the dishwasher half emptied or the dustpan still containing dirt, and he takes it upon himself to help me out and finish the job.  This in turn makes me feel as though he’s shining a light on my undone tasks and I get irritated.  At any rate, I’ve recently discovered that its not my inability to focus that’s the problem, but in fact, my ability to focus entirely on the wrong things.

In the example of my husband finishing up my chores, I don’t look at the heart behind the help, I concentrate on the message that I am not doing enough, I’m dropping the ball.  That’s just an example of how when we focus on the wrong things, we lose sight of what it truly important.  I’ve seen it many times at our kitchen table as well.  Siblings sitting together, all working on different lessons but all working toward the goal of getting things done for the day so they can have free time.  One will lose focus and start making noises, soon to be followed by their neighbor and before you know it, I’m telling them to ‘focus on what you’re supposed to be doing!’  I don’t feel qualified to tell them that but I’m the parent/teacher so what can I do?

When we were in the hospital during each of our daughter’s three open heart surgeries, we had struggles with where our focus would lie.  In the midst of all of the beeping monitors, medication pumps, and the story the numbers would tell the doctors, it became hard at times to focus on the One who calms our storms.  Fear would creep in, and in being honest, I would become focused on what could possibly go wrong instead of what God could do in the middle of that desperate situation.   And things did get desperate.  We were in need of miracles most days, I could compile a long list of times when we were told ‘there is no hope’ and how we would need to refocus on the truth that God can work things out for our good in any situation.

The truth is often silent.  We can’t confuse it with the facts.  The facts are often contrary to the truth, which is what God says.  Sometimes our circumstances say there’s no possible way that anything good can come out of this, yet God works well with impossibility.  They say that numbers don’t lie but God neither does God and He can make a way for your financial miracle, a way that you could never dream up on your own. The medical report may speak of death and hopelessness, but God is the One who gives hope, He restores sight to the blind and heals all of our infirmities.

The question is, where does our focus lie?  In the bad reports?  Or in the One who meets all of our needs?

In Numbers 13, Moses sent some men to explore the land of Canaan, the land they were supposed to inherit.  When they returned, they spoke of the goodness of the land, but they spent more time discussing the size and power of the people they would have to overthrow to take the land.  They were concerned that the greatness of the people would prevent them from receiving the Promised Land.  Joshua and Caleb, however, were certain they could do it.  The men argued with them, they gave them the reasons they felt it would be a death mission, but they remained confident that it was a battle that had already been awarded them.

They were focused on two different things.  The majority on the greatness of the enemy, and the minority on the greatness of God.  Focusing on the right thing gave Joshua and Caleb the confidence to be bold in the face of a great enemy, and in a circumstance that by our natural eyes seemed would surely go against them.

Isaiah 26:3 tells us, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in You.”

My ability to focus was not the issue, where my focus was directed was.  Keep your eyes on Jesus and trust Him in all things, even when the facts tempt you to believe otherwise.

Fresh Start

Written by: Christianne Williams

Who doesn’t love a fresh start?  A new beginning, no mistakes, no regrets, just hope for what’s ahead stretching as far as your mind and heart can see.  A new job, a new move, a new relationship, new opportunities.  That’s the reason the new year fills gyms everywhere, there’s a new starting point, the chance to write a new story on a blank page.  There is a fresh resolve to tackle that vice that the year before seemed too far gone.  Sadly, it doesn’t take long for the fresh start to be marred with a fresh donut or pizza because life happened and caught you off guard.  After that it seems pointless to continue.

I love the first snow fall of the year, it blankets the ground, sparkles in the sun, and shows no footprints or signs of being disturbed.  It’s beautiful to look at, until my kids go out to play.  There are snowmen, forts, small hills created for a stab at sledding, and dead grass peeking through.  When they were small and I had the power to keep them inside, I would, for as long as I could put up with the whining, so I could enjoy the look of our yard undisturbed.  I know, more snow falls throughout the winter but after the first, it only fills in the footprints and covers the snow creations, tries to hide the twigs and grass sticking up,  it doesn’t actually go back to the original spotless beauty.

I’ve found relationships to be this way.  You begin with great expectations and it doesn’t take long before disillusionment enters in.  Something happens or a word is spoken that stings and changes the outlook you have.  It can cause us to pull away, to react in ways that isolates us.  We build walls to protect ourselves, and in the end, keep out the very people who are to shape us and help us in our quest for godly character.  Like the case of freshly fallen snow, we can restore those relationships but sometimes the old things are just covered, the form of them are still evident.

When we woke up on January first and I said “Happy New Year!” to my seven year old, she was rather disappointed.  “It doesn’t feel any different than last year!”  And she was right. It was just the same as last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.  In fact, it was the same as the day before.  Every day is a fresh start, a new opportunity to grow, to blossom, to spread hope and encouragement.  It’s a new opportunity to repair relationships, to accomplish something you never thought you could, to begin the journey to a dream that has laid dormant waiting for the perfect moment.

It’s not a specific day that gives us fresh hope, fresh vision, or fresh resolve.  The very thing that offers us these things is not actually a thing, He’s a person.  Jesus gives us the opportunity to change every moment.  He doesn’t wait until the first of the year, the first of the month, the first of the week, or the beginning of a day.  He restores hope, relationship, vision, the truth about who we actually are, at any moment we ask Him to.  He doesn’t just blanket over things that have caused us to lose sight of our future, He heals it and we actually start with a fresh snow fall all over again.

Don’t allow the hope of great things for your life fade with any ‘mess ups’ that happened in the early days of the year.  Grab hold of the truth Jesus brings and allow Him to encourage you every minute of everyday!

Out of the Oven

Written by: Christianne Williams

I love to bake. Unfortunately, I also like to eat what I bake which poses a problem when I get on a baking spree.  The other day I had a craving for brownies, not the black bean type I had made when I was trying to be healthier, but the real deal, smothered with chocolate almond frosting.  Since I am a grown up and can make poor decisions like this, I got out my bowl and all the ingredients and began the process.  Within an hour, I had a pan of awesome, chocolaty gooiness and I was a happy camper.  My kids were also happy.

As I was on this quest for a treat it hit me: we are like brownies.  Or cake.  Or banana bread.  I’ll explain this.  When we come to Christ and ask Him to forgive our sins and live in our hearts, we are like the batter.  We have ingredients added, we have grace in the bowl, we have the Saviour’s love lavished upon us.  But, in the beginning, like the brownies I made, we are not done.  We are starting.  The baking process doesn’t end after everything’s in the bowl.  There’s more that has to take place, although they’re brownies from the beginning, they’re not at their finished product until they come out of the oven.

Christian life…a lot like that.  The day you are saved, you have not arrived.  Aren’t there times when you feel like you did ‘before’?  Maybe your patience was not at the level you’d expect from someone who’s saved.  Maybe your response to someone wasn’t as compassionate as you would have liked.  Maybe you feel down and discouraged instead of having faith.  Whatever it is, it makes you feel like you’ve failed, like you have to revisit the cross because you’ve blown it.  When I bake, I also make a mess, just ask my husband.  I’ve also managed to make a mess of some situations along the way since I became a Christian.  Usually times when I tried to do things on my own without inquiring of God first.

I’m absolutely not saying that we can live any old way, fly off the handle and be as reckless as before.  After all, self control is a fruit of the Spirit and we are supposed to bear those fruit.  I’m saying we’re not perfect yet.  We have not been taken from the oven yet.  God is not done with us.  The key is that you have a heart that desires to let God lead, we won’t always have the correct response, we won’t always handle things in the best way, but the goal of everyday is to become more like Christ.  We have to want to be changed by Him, to allow Him to replace our heart with His.  We can’t give up or feel like there’s no way we can ever be good enough.  The truth is, we can never be good enough, and God doesn’t expect us to be.  What He expects is a heart that looks to Him, to be led and changed by Him.  We should be growing in our relationship with Him.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.”

Some translations say ‘becoming new’.  Which shows that it’s a process, one that we won’t fully complete until our feet hit the streets of gold.  It’s our job to keep pushing forward, not get stuck on our failure, but get up and keep going.

Philippians 1:6 says, “….being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”

Deep Conversations with God

Written by: Christianne Williams

I was 18 and on the trip of a lifetime.  I had travelled in Canada and had driven through the New England States on our way to Ontario, but I had never ventured south.  I admired people who would pack up and head to warm places in the middle of our frigid Canadian winters, spending long days in the sun while the rest of us bundled up in parkas and tried to hide our Seasonal Affective Disorder.  They would come back all tanned and happy, looking slightly out of place amongst the rest of us, especially next to me with my pasty skin and freckles.

So, I was given the amazing opportunity to spend a week in the Florida sun, visiting theme parks and orange groves, walking through warm sand on crowded beaches.  Equally thrilling was missing a week of school after already taking a week off in March.  There I was, living my dream.  Descending in Orlando and laying my eyes on the remarkably different landscape was exhilarating, stepping out into the hot sunshine instantly made my mood jump, feeling the 90% humidity made my hair curl up like Mr. Noodles.  It was an instant reminder that nothing is perfect and I was forced to accept my Q-tip like appearance for the entire week.

One of the highlights was four days at Disney World. I wasn’t prepared for just how gigantic those parks were.  There were people everywhere, the lines were beyond long for everything, and it was hot!  The first day was great, I remembered to apply sunscreen every two hours to my fair skin, I remembered to drink a lot of water.  The second day wasn’t so bad either.  I applied sunscreen a couple of times and drank more water than I normally would have, we left the park and spent the rest of the day by the pool.  The third day we took a break from park hopping and visited an orange grove and a beautiful beach, where I neglected to reapply sunscreen and didn’t even finish a quarter of the water I should have.

We arrived at our time share that evening and I was looking a lot like you would expect a red head to look after hours in the sun unprotected.  I resembled a lobster after being boiled for twenty minutes.  Aside from being sore, I was still feeling pretty good, probably still riding high on the excitement of experiencing all these new things.  Too bad I wasn’t tuned into the signals my body was giving me.  The next day we returned to Disney and began taking in all of the different sights.  As the day went on I was starting to feel a bit tired, dizzy almost.  I chalked it up to not sleeping well and pushed myself to keep going.  By noon it was apparent that it was more than just lack of sleep, my legs went numb and I needed to be taken to the first aid building.  I honestly don’t remember much after I felt my legs gave way, until I woke up on a bed, in an air conditioned room, with fluids being administered.

This illustrates to me the all to common condition we can find ourselves in spiritually.  It happens slowly, over time, while we are busy going about our daily tasks, dealing with life, and forgetting where our source of strength comes from.   Our Bible gets a bit dusty, our prayers get short, reduced to surface conversations instead of deep wells of revelation, and we start to feel dry.  Like I became physically dehydrated, we can easily become spiritually dehydrated.  We need to be refreshed in God’s presence daily, relying on Him constantly, allowing Him to fill us so we can deal with our day to day lives.

Drawing our strength from our God can’t happen any other way but to have deep conversations with Him, listening to His voice and trusting in His goodness.  He knows how to restore our soul, to revive our dreams, and to speak life to our dead hopes.  Don’t ignore the signs when busyness threatens to choke out time alone with Holy Spirit, run to Him, drink from the River, and gain new strength.

God Doesn’t Expect Perfection!

Written by: Christianne Williams

Life offers lots of opportunities to learn. Some lessons are liberating, some difficult.  There are some that seem small and insignificant at the time but days, months, or years later we encounter a situation and say, ‘Aha, that’s what that was all about!’  God uses others to teach us about ourselves also.  My family has been used time and again to highlight good and bad points about my character, shining the light on areas I need to improve in.  Usually I notice more ‘teachable moments’ for myself during seasons of stress, and I find myself in those quite often.

These last few weeks we’ve been preparing for an upcoming move, only across town not across the country again, and I’ve started a new job.  This move requires preparation and so does the training for my job.  They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and I feel ‘they’ may be somewhere close to right as I try to retain a large amount of new information.  Coming home at the end of the day and looking at piles of boxes and rooms that need to be packed and cleaned, as well as papers that need reading and remembering, and knowing there are homeschool issues that need my attention can leave me feeling overwhelmed to put it mildly.

On my day off, I had plans to tackle as much of it as was humanly possible but I found myself sitting on the couch with a large cup of coffee, and then another, trying to put off what I knew was necessary.  Did I mention that I also have issues with delegating?  Well, I do!  I feel like I need to be the one to do things so that I can micromanage how they’re done.  There is no such thing as, ‘As long as it gets done does it matter how it happened?’ in my books. I sometimes remind myself of a math teacher we had in high school.  I couldn’t understand why, if I had arrived at the correct answer, he was bent on seeing the work that showed how I had gotten there.  And now, here I am.

On that day, my two youngest children wanted to help their mommy out by packing their own things in boxes.  I decided to let go of the reigns and let them do it.  I even told myself that it didn’t matter what went into the boxes, as long as I didn’t have to put it there.  I listened as they threw things in boxes, I cringed as they emptied containers of hair clips and jewellery out into boxes, and then I reminded myself ‘You don’t have to do it!’ and let them embrace independence.

As I sat enjoying my coffee and listening to them talk and work, it occurred to me: God doesn’t care if we do things perfectly, He loves our effort.  He’s not watching over us as we carry out assignments lamenting that we aren’t doing it exactly right.  After all, how can imperfect people do anything perfectly? Just as He gave power to Moses, courage to Gideon, and grace to Paul, He gives us what we need where we need it and cheers on our efforts the same way we do when our children learn to do things on their own.  It may not seem like a big lesson but its encouraged me several times this week as I’ve struggled to learn new things, it’s given me the drive to do my best and try.

When we begin to unpack those boxes, I’m anticipating that the things inside may not all belong together, some sorting will have to take place on the other end, but the kids have gained a sense of accomplishment and I’m proud of them.  God is proud of us too when we take a step out of our comfort zone and try to do things for Him that we may feel ill equipped to do.  He gives us the direction, and we just need to be obedient and do our best.  He honors our effort and our desire to do His will.

Greater Than Our Circumstances

Written by: Christianne Williams

Soft ocean breezes.  The smell of salt in the air and the sound of gulls flying overhead.  Walking barefoot in the sand everyday in the summer, getting a free pedicure. Every. Single. Time.  I grew up on the coast, surrounded by water, on an island connected by a mile -long white sand beach with a causeway to the mainland.  Hearing the crashing of the waves on summer nights as I drifted off to sleep; watching the sun glisten off the water; collecting shells, standing in the small pools left behind when the tide went out.  Hunting for sea glass, dodging jellyfish, and having seaweed fights marked most summer afternoons and evenings.

As I got older, I enjoyed sitting on the shore on a towel because I really don’t like sand all that much, as I would stare out at the sea.  There were days when it was calm and the waves rippled in.  Other times the waves reached the shore with a little more force, it was a little louder and the whitecaps were more frequent.   And then, in a storm, the waves would crash against the shore consistently, with little rest between breakers.

Matthew 8:23-27 gives an account of a storm that arose suddenly as Jesus and the disciples were rowing across a lake.  It was a furious storm, with waves sweeping over the boat.  When I read that, I put myself in their sandals, trying to feel what they might have felt.  Feeling the boat toss, not knowing what to do, and having no idea what was going to happen.  They went and woke Jesus, who was sleeping, fearing they would drown.  They were amazed when He spoke to the winds and waves and they obeyed Him, yet just a few verses before, it says they had just witnessed many miracles He performed for others.

They had moved from a place of watching to a position of receiving.  They were now the ones in need of intervention from the Anointed One.  They were now experiencing some of what they had earlier witnessed.  They knew they needed to ask Him to save them, but from their reaction, did they really expect that He could do anything to prevent them from what they perceived to be a certain death?

I know how powerful waves can be during a storm, for them to be instantly calmed would be a miraculous thing.  Sometimes after a tropical storm the waves linger for days, so for the lake to be again smooth so suddenly couldn’t be explained as anything but a miracle.  The power of the wind and waves is no big deal for God.  The situation looked bleak but there was One who brought peace in the middle of that furious storm on that lake that day.  The same One who brought that peace is there to bring peace to us in the middle of whatever storm we find ourselves in right now.  Just like the wind and waves, our circumstances are no match for our God.

He really impressed on me the other day, while I was at work, not really asking for anything specific, that His goodness is greater than our circumstances.  Our situation may not be good, but His character is unchanging, and He can’t be anything other than who He is.  His heart toward us is one of love, it’s compassionate, and never failing.  He will never turn a deaf ear to you, He will never forsake you, He will never leave you alone.

One word from Him and things change.  He calls all things into order, He speaks peace and life into all the dark places of our hearts.  He overwhelms us with His goodness and compassion, loving us far too much to leave us alone in the middle of our storm.  Call out to Him, tell Him how much you trust Him, even if you don’t ‘feel’ like you do.  I can tell you from experience that the more you hear those words come out of your mouth, the more convinced you’ll be that He will calm your storm.