Unfailing Love

Written by: Christianne Williams

Psalm 36:7 “How priceless is your unfailing love!  Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

How I love this verse!  It brings such joy to my heart to know that God’s love is not intended for just a few who are in places of power and authority.  It’s not just for the privileged in society or the wealthy.  It’s freely given to all who come to Him and put their trust and hope in Him!  It’s the one thing our money cannot buy.  No amount of working will earn it.  We can’t rely on our talent, our will, or our good looks to get us this wonderful gift.  No, it’s completely given by grace, to us, a group of people who take it entirely for granted sometimes.  The only payment is that we love Him back, do His will, follow His ways.

Loving God means loving each other, the same way He loves us.  With grace.  It’s so easy these days to associate love with gushy feelings or fireworks exploding, but that’s just not the kind of love that we’ve been given by Him.  We are to do our very best to extend love that goes beyond how we’re feeling today, to love beyond looks, social status, or action.  We need to ask God to help us love like He does.  To look at the downcast in our world and have compassion on them.  To actually be the hands and feet of Jesus.

This doesn’t always happen right away, and with some people it may never happen, but we should be seeking to show the heart of our Father to a world that has a completely distorted view of love.  There are so many who don’t know what real, authentic, love is like.  They’re so used to being loved because of what they are instead of who they are.  It’s a plastic, throw away, type of devotion.  A lot of Christian’s aren’t able to completely accept God’s love because they’ve never know anything to be so limitless, they’ve only ever experienced the love the world has to offer, which is false.

I have four kids, from age 16 down to 7, and I have learned by listening to them that the feeling we’ve made love to be comes and goes, very quickly, almost like flipping a switch.  My seven-year old will love her brothers one minute, you can see her eyes light up and she throws her arms around one of their necks, declares her undying love to them because they shared their candy and the next minute she’s mad because the same brother won’t drop everything to get her a cup for her water.  At that point she’s decided she’ll never talk to him again, which also doesn’t last.  My 16 year old loves pizza, guitars, and BMXing.  I’m guessing someday he’ll love a girl and want to marry her and I’m sure the feeling won’t be the same as he feels for pizza or bike tricks.

I also know something else from having this mess of kids: I love them all the same.  I have no favorites.  They can’t do anything to earn my love, they can’t do anything to lose my love.  They can, however, make me upset, but they can also make me laugh.  My feelings change but my love for them does not.  I can’t imagine that their social status as they get older will affect my love for them.  This is how God loves us, not with feeling but with choice, covenant, and faithfulness.  His love is priceless and unfailing, available to all, no exceptions.  I’m so glad that He loved me when I was unlovable and that His love found me.

The First Focus of our Day

Written by: Christianne Williams

The house was quiet, the sun was just coming up, it wasn’t too hot and there was a nice breeze blowing in the windows.  I sat there clutching my coffee mug with all my strength.  I was staring at the wall, seemingly doing nothing, but my mind was very active.  Overly active one might say.  It was June, the beginning of summer holidays would soon be upon us, an end to a busy school schedule. But before I could enjoy the lazy days stretching before us, I had to finish a list that included many, many deadlines.

I was thinking about the exam that needed to be completed, the school grades that needed to be submitted to the Department of Education (we are a homeschool family), the gathering and packing that needed to be done for me and three of my children as we were going to camp in a week or so, the checklist that would need to be made for my husband who would have to pack for a family vacation on his own, the house that lay in shambles because my work schedule had dominated for 9 months, and on, and on, and on….

I felt my eyes growing wider and my heart rate quicken, I knew I was on the verge of an all-out anxiety attack, feeling like a huge wave was crashing over me and it wasn’t waves of God’s peace.  I was called out of my place of panic by the blood curdling screams of my eight-year old who would not stop shrieking long enough to tell me what was wrong.  There I stood, with my mouth open not knowing what to say because I no idea what this was all about. After he tore his shirt off like a WWF wrestler in the hallway he managed to tell me that while holding one of the wildflowers he and his sister had gathered the day before, a giant red spider, jumped on him.  I was completely unaware that we had red spiders the size of golf balls living in our backyard.  In the seven years we’ve been here I’ve never once encountered one, but he insisted this was the case.

I inspected the kitchen and dining room, turned up no trace of the giant monster, to which I am entirely grateful, God really does protect us.  The situation was a perfect distraction, getting me off the road to the panic attack and back onto the path of being calm and ‘in control’.  I began to feel a stirring in my spirit, like God was about to show me something, and I was desperately needing to hear something from Him that would help me feel able to face all that I was being presented with.

In Matthew 14, Jesus had sent the disciples out in a boat at night, and a strong wind had come up.  Jesus went to them when He saw them straining at the oars, walking on the water.  When they saw Him they were scared, but He assured them who He was, and Peter said, “Lord if it’s You, tell me to come to You on the water”.  So Jesus told him to come, and out of the boat he got.  Now this is the part that made me think, helped me to recover my drive to get things done. Verse 30 ‘But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”’  And Jesus reached out for him and caught him, asking him why he began to doubt.  Now, when I began to get my eyes fixed on what needed to be done in an extremely short time period, I began to panic.  I became anxious.

So many times in life we fix our eyes on our circumstances, on our to- do- lists; on the things that lie ahead of us, and we become overwhelmed.  We try and try to come up with some plan, some system of organization that will help us to reach our destination, in our own strength, and I can tell you from experience that this leaves you exhausted and looking for a place to hide.  What I was reminded of that morning was this: when we fix our eyes on our Heavenly Father, He will help guide us and keep our heads above the waves.  He will help us to order our days, keep everything moving along smoothly and accomplish the things we need to have done.  My prayer for all of us is that we will make Him the first focus of our day and allow Him to help us out of those anxious places that will come our way.

Weary and Burdened

Written by: Christianne Williams

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Where does your mind go when you read this verse?  What picture do you see when you contemplate the weight of its truth?  God is inviting ALL who are weary, tired, worn out, overwhelmed, carrying loads too heavy for human endurance, holding things far too painful, too horrific, too devastating, to find rest in Him.  He beckons all to climb up on His lap and allow Him to shoulder the burden, to not just ease the load but to completely handle it, giving rest and peace that goes far deeper than our human intellect can comprehend.  He wants us to stop striving and rest.

I was sitting in my chair with my coffee early one morning before heading off to work, going over the list of things I had to accomplish that day.  The dishes, laundry, floors, dusting, windows, scrubbing dirty fingerprints off the appliances and walls….and doors and mouldings…packing away summer clothes and going through out grown items, finding our winter things in preparation for the cold days that we were entering.  That list led to the other list of things I desired to do but had to put to the side because the things needing my attention trumped the things that I felt were my calling.  The problem was I needed to be at work.

Throw into this mix, we are a homeschooling family.  In a new province.  New rules to abide by.  My habit of notifying proper authorities of my intent, late wasn’t going to fly this year.  And my ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ attitude wasn’t either.  I needed a plan.  I needed goals.  I needed a vacation after being awake for only 30 minutes.  I was completely overwhelmed.  When I get in that state I begin to replay past events that only add to my stress.

It doesn’t matter to God what our situation is, He is offering rest to us all.

That morning as I sat in the chair, fighting back tears of anxiety and trying deep breathing exercises to calm my racing thoughts, God spoke to my heart.  He calmed me.  These things I have in front of me are all important in my eyes, the eyes of my family, the eyes of the Department of Education, and they really need to be done, but I don’t go it alone.  He orders my day.  He directs my steps.  He helps me, and you, to organize our time, to be good stewards of the hours we’re given.

I’ve also been in overwhelming situations that good planning can’t get me out of.  I’ve lived through the sickness of a child, the days upon end in a pediatric intensive care unit, not knowing what the end of the story would be, completely helpless to do anything at all to change the circumstances.  Those are the days when I really learned to ‘rest’ in Him because I had no other choice.  Waves of unexplainable peace would wash over me at times when my mind wanted me to panic at the uncertainty.

There are people going through valleys so deep carrying burdens so great you don’t think you’ll ever make it out.  Let Him not only carry the baggage, let Him carry you.  You have no idea how you got there, you have no idea when the storm will be end, but God does.  He wants to bring peace to your situation, rest in the middle of that storm.

What I picture when reading this verse: a small child, in the lap of his giant father, with arms wrapped around him giving complete protection while all around the clouds are angry and winds are raging.  The child sleeps soundly knowing he is safe and secure in the lap of his daddy.

SPEAK LIFE!

Written by: Christianne Williams

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” Proverbs 12:18

I was recently in a very uncomfortable situation.  A comment had been made about one of my children and it hurt me greatly.  My first reaction was to call this person out on the unfair remark and defend my baby, even if the words I spoke were harsh.  In fact, I wanted my words to be harsh.  I wanted to inflict the same feeling that I had just felt.  Remembering an encounter years ago in which I had to apologize for some words that I spoke in the heat of the moment, I decided to remain silent.

Whoever came up with the little verse “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” was wrong.  And it’s definitely not biblical.  The Bible tells us that our words ‘pierce like swords’, and that we can choose to bless or curse someone with what we say.  A word spoken in the moment in the midst of an argument can never be taken back.  Sure, we can apologize, but once it’s said, it can’t be unsaid.  Having the choice, why we would ever choose words that would tear someone down?  We have the power to build them up, we can empower them to reach for big dreams, to encourage them to do something hard, or pursue something that may seem out of reach.

When I was in school I had big plans, I wanted to be a lawyer.  I feel that I would’ve rocked it, I can argue and remember facts like nobody’s business.  This can come in handy, but most times it’s to my detriment because I can also remember most of the nasty things that I’ve heard said to me.  Anyway, I went into grade 7 ready to be saturated with knowledge, yes, I was going to graduate in six years with the biggest brain our school had ever produced.  In our very first homeroom of the year my dreams were shattered when I announced to the entire class that I wanted to be a lawyer in answer to the question posed by my teacher.  The words I heard echoed in my head and caused me to walk away from that, ”You’ll never make it as a lawyer!”  I was embarrassed.  I was hurt.  Years later I can look back on that situation and think that I should not have listened but realistically I think we all value the opinions of people we hold in high esteem and the things they say can influence our thinking.

I want my words to be wise, spoken with love, received with joy.  We should leave each other feeling better than we did when first meeting.  I love it when like minded people get together and spend time encouraging and cheering each other on.  Speaking life into dry places.  Maybe even confirming things that God is speaking into their lives because of the obedience to speak what He plants in our hearts.  I feel even hard conversations that really need to be had can go well if we’re praying for wisdom and reaching for things that heal and not harm.  Bring correction and not condemnation.  Words that inspire change and give life.

Psalm 19:14 says “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer”.  If we keep this verse close in our mind and weigh everything we say by it, being sure that we are speaking from a pure heart with good motivation, we will please God and be a light to people.

Position of Victory!

Written by: Christianne Williams

“Finally, be strong in the lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the ruler, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13

This has been on my heart for a while now. It gives us a very quick view of what is really going in the world around us. How many times in the course of a day do we observe this very thing? People attacking one another, when really the enemy is looking on laughing. People losing hope in a situation because they blame God for their circumstances instead of the one who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy, leaving them hopeless and worn out.

I’m a mom, which is just another name for referee some days. I have four children and there are days when I feel like going back to bed ten minutes after I get out. There are times when my offspring wear me out with their bickering and nit picking; its like they can’t get along with each other for five minutes. Not everyday is like that, I don’t know if their behaviour is affected by the moon or not, all I know is that if everyday were like those days, I may resign my position. In all seriousness, those days wear me down; they leave me feeling drained, and in some cases, depending on how many of them are involved, I wonder how we can go on like this.

I believe that’s what the enemy tries to do to us. He wants us to experience an intense battle, one that leaves us believing there is no hope for rest, or for God’s plan to come about in our lives. A slanderer that has us pointing fingers at the person across the table as the source of our problems instead of at him. A deceiver that makes us forget there really is no power struggle because he wages war from a position of defeat and when we place our faith in God and His mighty power we come from a position of victory. You see, we have to remember that the illusion the Father of lies projects is that he is an equal with God, and that’s a lie we cannot afford to accept.

Ephesians reminds us that even on the worst days, our struggle is not against those around us, it’s against the devil, and he is already a defeated foe. We need only stand in the truth of God’s power, being sure that he is our defender and there really is no struggle. I remember one lady telling me once that she feared the devil because he had real power… but let us never forget that our God is Almighty!
When you find yourself in the midst of a battle, remind yourself of this: the real enemy is one unseen, and one who has already been defeated. So, put on the armour, stand your ground, draw your Sword, raise and lock your shield with comrades. And pray for Holy Spirit to give you courage, boldness, and confidence knowing that you don’t fight from a position of defeat, but from a position of victory!

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.” Psalm 9:9-10

PERSISTENCE

Written by: Christianne Williams

Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will opened to you.”

Being around children will teach you a lot. Whether you’re around them for a short period or you have a tiny army living under your roof, it doesn’t take long to discover some things. One thing is that they’re very good at problem solving when they want to be. Mine can stack cubes used for sitting on top of one another extremely fast when they’re searching for something I’ve hidden in the upper cabinets. Or, they can wipe up a spill from the juice they weren’t supposed to have with a clean dish cloth and then put said cloth back in the drawer for me to find days later. Another wonderful thing is their fight for fairness. How many times have I heard, “why am I being punished for that? So and so did it yesterday and no one said anything to him/her! It’s not fair at all!” or “Hey, he/she at the last cookie! It’s not fair!” like it’s the last cookie that will ever be in existence.

One thing I’ve learned about children that has taught me a great lesson is their persistence. When they receive a promise from myself or their father, they run with it. It has been promised, it will be done. A lesson in confidence too. I had an ah ha moment the other night when a situation arose with my baby girl, whose 5 and the perfect age to be an example of a persistent person.

She came to me and asked if I could please give her a bath before bed. She began asking at 8 in the morning and just so I wouldn’t forget, I do that a lot, she asked me every half hour, possibly every 15 minutes for the remainder of the day. Supper time rolled around and at that time she announced, “You LIED!” I was taken aback, “What did I lie about?”
“Well, YOU said you’d give me a bath before bed. You didn’t. You LIED!”

Two things ran through my mind. Actually lots of things ran through my mind but two of the main things were that 1. Her bed time wasn’t until 7:30 so by my calculations I had just over 2 hours remaining to fulfill my promise, and 2. She broke my mommy heart by losing confidence in me to do what I said would.

That was the “Ah Ha” moment.

She had been persistent in her request all day long, believing that I would do what I promised at the end of the day. Her patience ran out and she lost confidence in my timing. She was very persistent but not at all patient. Isn’t that like us? We never really outgrow that aspect of childhood. At one time or another in our lives we’ll get impatient, losing our confidence, getting tired of being persistent, and feel like we’ve hit a dead end. Matthew 7:7-8 tells us to be persistent and then trust that answer is coming. The note in my Bible says that it is encouraging ‘active patience’, where we continue to ask even as we believe that He’s working it out.

There are examples of this in Luke 11 with the parable of the friend at midnight and again in Luke 18 with the persistent widow. They continued to persist in making their requests known and eventually they were rewarded. When we are persistent in prayer we show God, and others, that we know He is the only one who can meet our needs and even if it doesn’t meet our timeline, He’s still going to answer. I also began to wonder if, just as my heart hurt to think that my baby would believe that I wouldn’t do what I had promised, does God ever hurt because we don’t trust Him? Matthew 7:9 goes on to say “If you, then, though you are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”

Have complete confidence that no matter the timeline, you will get His best if you are persistent!

Risks to Everything

Written by: Christianne Williams

Last Friday night I ended up someplace no one wants to be, especially on the first night of the weekend. My sons have taken a keen interest in BMX and learning tricks, which has already led to some scrapes, bruises, and sore limbs. I thought what happened Friday was among one of those minor incidents, so when my eldest son came home and posted a video of himself falling backwards off his bike, I just told him to be more careful. I got an eyeroll, an admission that his wrist was sore, and a weak, “Yeah, there’s risks to everything”, and off he went to see Spiderman at the theater with his father and brothers. Three hours later, when he came in the door looking pale and sweating, and in a very bad mood, I knew that we were going to be taking a trip to the local emergency room for an x-ray.

There are times when we look at small hospitals with a bit of disgust, believing that they can’t offer the same quality of care as in larger centers, and in most cases, this can be true.

On this particular night I was thankful for it, knowing that it wouldn’t be busy and we wouldn’t have a long wait. Anyone who has taken a teenager to an appointment of any kind will appreciate this fact as they have zero patience when it comes to waiting. Add in the extreme pain factor and it was a pretty miserable five minutes waiting to be assessed! After an x-ray and some poking around, the doctor decided it would be a good idea to put a cast on his arm, fearing that there may be a fracture that they couldn’t see.

At that point, I was thinking, “I get at least a week of not worrying about what injury he might bring home” and was actually looking on the bright side of this. Fast forward to Saturday morning when a refreshed, and in significantly less pain, 15 year- old proclaims, “I can still ride my bike! The cast is on in a way that I can still hold on the handle bars!”. Not going to lie, my heart sunk for a few second – no sabbatical from these stunts. Something that struck me though was his lack of fear to face the situation that had caused him pain.
We’ve all faced situations that have hurt us, physically or emotionally. As parents, we face situations that aren’t easy. Comforting our children when they’re hurting, especially when we have no answers for why they’re enduring them, enforcing consequences when they’ve broken the rules we have in place, especially when they show no remorse. As spouses, we face difficult times. It could be financial, betrayal, complete severing of the marriage through no fault of our own. In our work place we deal with problem people. In any relationship on the planet there will be times when we’re left reeling, feeling too hurt to put ourselves out there any more.

As a pastor’s wife, I’ve seen the best and worst side of people and let me say, it isn’t always easy to forgive and move on, let alone put yourself back in the line of fire. More difficult is to see your husband or children the target of the firing squad. But you know what? We must be strong and courageous, we must dare to love one more day. Just as my son got back on the bike and rode down the road, we too must ask God to give us His heart, fill us with enough grace for today, and dare to risk the hurt for the broken. Not only that, but when we find that we’ve messed up, fallen off the bike, we need to get back up and choose to try again. There’s never a point where we can’t start over. There’s never a time on this side of Heaven that God says, ‘Enough, no more chances for you!’

Just as He is patient with us, we must be patient with others and ourselves. There may be times when you need to walk away, something may be unsafe physically, or may be making you emotionally weak, but pray that God shows you the situations that are worth taking the risk to rebuild.

A Change of Plans

Written by: Christianne Williams

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” Proverbs 16:9

How wonderful to know that God has a direction for us, a specific plan, and if we are willing to listen and change our plans, His will for our life will be accomplished! I can remember being a child and dreaming about what my future would look like. So many desires in my heart, so many ‘career’ options. I remember preaching my first ever sermon to my stuffies who were gathered under my Christmas tree, my toboggan served as my pulpit. I was doing an awesome job, if I do say so myself, until my pulpit slipped from my grip and fell into said tree, crushing it and my audience. I also remember that my job as a bicycle repair person was short lived, as was the life of my bicycle.

One thing I never got away from, though, was being a mom. That desire never left. Nor did my love for my husband, I spent many hours as a 12 year old begging God to “please, let me marry him someday!” I look at my four beautiful kids and my loving husband and think how blessed I am, but the road wasn’t easy. It all fell into place but not right away, and it would’ve went much more smoothly had I learned at an early age to trust God and His timing with my life plans.

My 14 year old son, who is now taller than me, is an answer to prayer. I wanted children so bad, six of them by the way, that was my life goal. A houseful of babies. But after four years, there were no baby cries, only cries from my aching heart. I was getting bitter, frustrated, and unable to even look at a newborn without a stabbing feeling in my chest. I was a wreck. I had focused so much on something I wanted so badly that it was literally stealing my life. I didn’t want to go out, I didn’t want to see people, I just wanted to stay home and focus on how unfair it was that I couldn’t have something I wanted so badly.

One day, while I was doing my devotions, God spoke to my heart. Was I putting my plans before His will? Did I trust Him to give me what was best for me? Had I made an idol of this desire? I knew He could heal my heart if it wasn’t in His plan for me to be a mother, but I had to be willing to let go of what I so desperately wanted. I had to trust that He had the best plans for me, ones that would prosper me and not harm me. One that would give me a future and hope. It was funny because one month later I found out we were expecting. I was so shocked that I used four tests. My husband wasn’t home, so I called him and told him he had to come home right away. While he was on his way God showed him what I was I was going to tell him. I don’t know, would it have happened anyway, or was it because God was teaching me a lesson through it all, that I needed to be obedient no matter the cost.

I believe it was the latter because I’ve had to call on that experience many times through my faith walk, in all of them surrendering without knowing what the end result would be. It’s still tough sometimes. Have you ever felt like that? There was something you wanted or felt you needed so desperately that you were sure that you couldn’t go on living if you didn’t get it. Did you ever feel like God was with holding the best things from you? I can assure you He never does. He always has a plan, one that outshines any that you or I could come up with for ourselves. The only thing we have to be is willing. Willing to let go of our own plans and willing to accept His.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “’For My thought are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways’, says the Lord, ‘for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’”

How secure we can feel knowing that He has wonderful things planned for our lives if we can open our fist and be willing to change our plans.

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.

Let Go and Let God

Written by: Christianne Williams

Have you ever been asked by God to let something go? Maybe there were big changes happening in your life and it meant letting go of relationships. Perhaps it was a promotion at work that you desired greatly but because of the season your family was in it wouldn’t work out. Maybe you had to let go of a loved one because of sickness. The list could be extensive.

For the Rich Young Ruler it was his power and possessions. For Abraham, it was Isaac. The disciples had to leave behind their livelihood, which was lucrative at the time, and their families. Paul left behind his prestige. Stephen was asked to give up his life.

In the case of Abraham, God was looking for obedience, the willingness to do something terrifying and yet trust Him in it. I believe that the Rich Young Ruler was in the same boat, he was asked if he was willing and walked away disappointed because his heart was, in fact, not willing to give it all up for God.

I could say, all that He asks is willingness; He won’t actually require you to release whatever it is, He’ll provide the lamb in the thicket. I could say that, and in many cases, I’m sure that’s what He wants, but I’d be lying if that is the case in all situations. Sometimes the sacrifice was required: they actually had to be willing to let it go and watch as it drifted away. The disciples, Paul, and Stephen are just a few examples of that. Matthew 26:39 says, “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me, Yet not as I will, but as you will.’” Even Jesus, the Son of God, was asked to willingly surrender to His Father’s plan. He was asked to give up his life on earth.

A few weeks ago, while I was yet again praying for something that I wanted so badly and yet seemed so far out of reach, God showed me my gripped hand. It was closed so tightly, my knuckles were white. As I this picture played in my mind, my fingers opened slowly, and the wind began to gently blow away whatever was in my open hand. I felt as though there was great freedom in that act, that I was no longer striving to try to bring about results of any kind. It was as if God was showing me that my willingness to let go of everything I thought I wanted would yield peace as He brought about everything He knows I need.

In my lifetime, I’ve been asked to give up things that I held dear to me. Sometimes I had to watch things drift away and sometimes I was surprised to find that my willingness brought me exactly what my heart desired. I wanted to be a Mom so badly, and it seemed as though it would never happen.

Two weeks after I fell by my bed and gave that desire to God, asking Him to take it away, to replace it with peace even though there were no babies, we found out we were expecting our first. At the same time, when we found out our daughter was to be born with a severe heart defect, he didn’t rescue us from it, He blessed us immensely through it. And continues to do so. Only two examples, with different paths, but the same outcome. God saw us through. He gave us more than we could have imagined it just didn’t come about in the way we would’ve chosen. Of course, we would’ve preferred the path of zero sacrifice.

In each of those things that I had to release from my grip, God replaced the space in my heart with something so much sweeter than I could’ve imagined. If He required the sacrifice and not just the willing heart, He was faithful to fill my brokenness with beauty again. Open your hand and release to Him everything that’s in there and see what He lovingly bestows upon you. Embrace it, learn through it, grow because you’ve experienced it.