Trust Isn’t Just About Me

Nothing is accomplished when I worry about my life. It never added a cubit to my stature and, as Corrie Ten Boom said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” Whenever I begin imagining the worst, I remind myself – grace isn’t going anywhere. The Lord’s character won’t change in time for tomorrow’s storm. He’s steadfast and sufficient for whatever path or valley.

I know worrying about myself is a fruitless pastime. Here’s the problem. Sometimes it feels more helpful to worry on the behalf of others. Perhaps because I feel even more powerless when it comes to my family and friends. Maybe because at times I feel concern for someone younger in the faith, or more vulnerable physically, or a child in my line of responsibility.

Trust isn’t always just about me and the Lord. Souls of others are often involved. But isn’t it inconsistent to trust God for my own future, but stress about someone else’s?

I’m writing this down because the irony of these words makes me thank God for His tremendous landscape of care for each person I care about.

Think of it this way. Someone I love is near the overseas war-zone, but I forget he is tucked in God’s solid sovereign plan? A friend is saved by lavish grace, but I’m anxious about her weighty decisions she must make? My brother-in-Christ is a co-heir with the Prince of Peace, and I wonder if God will provide for his next season? My family member is loved enough that the Lamb died for her, but will the great I Am see her through a new medical diagnosis?

The glorious reality is this: God is completing a good work in each of us and will be faithful to complete it. Will I “believe all things, hope all things, endure all things” as I wait and watch for God’s work in their lives?

There are many ways we can encourage, admonish, teach, and minister to our fellow believers in their sanctification journey, but anxiety isn’t an effective practice. God’s dear children have rich promises to claim whether they fully realize them or not! This old hymn re-sung by Selah draws this out:

“Some through the water, some through the flood

Some through the fire, but all through the blood

And some through great sorrow, but God gives the song

In the night season and all the day long

Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright

Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night

Though sorrows befall us and Satan oppose

Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes

God leads His dear children along.”

Even if He designs a harder season for someone we love, it’s such a comfort to entrust them to the Chief Shepherd. We can count on His faithfulness to His Bride, to each member of His church He is building.

As you pray for and encourage your parent/sibling/friend to listen to the Holy Spirit, you can trust that He will direct them as He is acknowledged (Prov. 3:6).

“You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your word.” 

Psalm 119:65

We need not worry or stress for the future of God’s servants. When the opportunity to trust on others’ behalf arises, remember He deals well with His servants (maybe not always according to us, but always according to His Word!). His grace is sufficient for each, and what a wonderful opportunity to anchor our trust deeper in a worthy God.

Seeds are to Plant

I am not much of a gardener, but I hope to become one, a good one, eventually. First, I must cut through the fog of intimidation at trying something new.

Talk of soil, zones, timing, and types of plants can cause overwhelm for the ones who haven’t pursued a green thumb. Questions prick like thorns.

Have I missed the window for planting my favorite flower? How much money should I invest in annuals and where should I place the perennials? Will the mint take over? What if I change my mind about landscaping? Is it worth all the weeding?

Overhearing garden talk everywhere, I’ve begun to realize nothing can go too terribly wrong if I just plant a seed. Seeds are to plant. I can’t design their sprout, but I can put a little earth on top and pour water on it.

We poked little holes in our soil boxes, and I wasn’t sure how many to put in each hole, or if the sun would be too harsh, or if I’d be faithful to follow up. But I had to try. Humbled at my lack of knowledge, I appreciated the fact I had no control as to whether this tinsey seed would germinate where I attempted to place it. It all seemed like a shot in the dark, but a profound one. Then it occurred to me how biblical the planting process is.

God requires a similar faith in obedience of missional seed planting. I Corinthians 3:5-9–

“What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

As I sprinkle water on the tiny creations I’m caring for, I hope I’ll remember the real seed-planting partnership I’m called to. The Lord graciously gives opportunities to obey and speak the gospel in season and out of season, planting and watering seeds like Paul and Apollos. But God alone will determine the future of each one’s growth. We each will receive our own reward, and it won’t depend on the outcome of the seed’s growth, but on our obedient response in faith.

We may not ever see the results. In Barbara Cooney’s picture book Miss Rumphius, she tells the story of the “Lupine Lady” who cast seeds throughout her town in order to make it a more beautiful place. From her seeds, lupines delighted generations after she was gone. She simply scattered seeds along her pathway.

This summer let’s pray for chances to drop seeds in the gaping holes of emptiness we come across on our own pathways. To have His Word ready on our tongues, to labor in the heat of the desert, to plant where it seems barren. Work with our fellow forgiven workers, understanding the significant insignificance of our actions in the light of God’s sovereignty.

Everywhere we look is the field. At the park, at the thrift store, at the neighborhood bbq, at our front door. As the Lord’s servants, let us not freeze up in overwhelm that it may be too early or too late for planting. Let us not fear if we don’t know the right amount of seeds or the science of the soil. Let us not doubt the seed may be too microscopic to even produce a blossom.

Because God owns the field. We are fellow gardeners with Him, and what a privilege. The time is now to share about His goodness and the need to be saved from sin. There is a peace (and a reward!) in obedience, knowing we plant and water, but God controls the weather, the soil, and the fruit.

Life after Tomb

“Even the icebent daffodils and crushed violets, the trampled crocuses and the battered hyacinths glittered like jewels in the muddy farmyards. Thomas caught his breath. He had never seen anything so beautiful. He passed the cemetery. The gravestones, too, twinkled in their shining gowns of ice. And the church bell began to ring.”

Lori Walburg

This paragraph from The Legend of the Easter Egg, shows a glimpse of Thomas, a boy who spends the week before Resurrection Sunday at a friend’s home because his sister is very sick. While there, he grasps the beauty of new life — eternal life. He learns death is no final separator for those who belong to Christ.

Our little church in Kansas overlooked the town’s cemetery. I would play with the other children outside after Sunday and Wednesday services, the charming trees towering over the tombstones a familiar sight. I saw the flowers come and go, the beaming American flags posted on Memorial Day, and a list of fallen veterans etched in a memorial stone.

We weren’t allowed to play in the cemetery, but we still knew the shapes and some of the stories of the ornate graves, and could sense the history. It stood a constant reminder of the realness and certainty of death. There were names from the 1800s, little graves for babies, and even fresh graves of a few from our own congregation.

It didn’t really bring fear, just an impression. A respect that it was appointed for man once to die.

Once I asked my dad where he’d like to be buried one day. I personally thought under the shade of a sturdy tree would be nice. He said, “Doesn’t matter where they’ll bury me. I’ll be gone.”

I pondered this, and I agreed. I, too, would be gone, in a place better than anything conjured up on earth.

“It is better to go to a house of mourning 

Than to go to a house of feasting,

Because that is the end of every man,

And the living takes it to heart.”

Ecclesiastes 7:2

It is important to remember death, because in its bitter sting, we know what it is to truly live a born-again life. We know the opposite of death. We taste victory, because we were buried with Him and raised to walk in newness of life.

Over and over Scripture declares to know Him equals life, in the fullest, sweetest, deepest way.

This weekend I’m looking forward to the choir declaring life, my husband’s sermon, my new dress, cinnamon rolls, and hearing the bells ringing, “Hallelujah.” Like little Thomas in the story, I still have questions, but they are resting in the hands of a Risen Savior.

Death is a reality and certainty, but it is no master of the saints. It is the wages of sin for sinners, but it is no victor over God’s people.

He conquered death, and He defined eternal life right in John 17:3.

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

The next time you see a cemetery, be it shining in gowns of ice, stones faded from all the sun, under trees or a forest of flagpoles, remember to acknowledge death in the light of Christ’s own death, burial, resurrection.

Enjoy this poem my friend Madelyn shared with me–

“Gain after loss,
Strength after weakness,
Crown after cross;
Sweet after bitter,
Hope after fears,
Home after wandering,
Praise after tears.

Sheaves after sowing,
Sun after rain,
Sight after mystery,
Peace after pain;
Joy after sorrow,
Calm after blast,
Rest after weariness,
Sweet at last.

Near after distant,
Gleam after gloom,
Love after loneliness,
Life after tomb;
After long agony,
Rapture of bliss—
Right was the pathway leading to this.”

-Frances Havergal

A Book Held Safely: God’s Sovereignty in Motherhood

In my first few months of motherhood, anxious thoughts simmered. I was even nervous the first time alone with my baby, feeling we needed at least four sets of hands to keep our precious bundle safe!

Every creak sounded like a break in, and during nap time, I constantly zoomed in as close as possible on the monitor to ensure the rise and fall of his breathing.

Certainly, motherhood is a steep learning curve, with hormones and normal concerns. But I hope to share how God’s Word encouraged me and established truths a little tighter in my heart in those newborn days.

Isn’t it amazing how God’s sovereignty envelopes us with sweet confidence?

I find daily courage in these two verses.

His Safety

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” 
Psalm 4:8

Even if I could be a perfect parent, and utilize every earthly precaution, I’m still not in ultimate control. With the psalmist I acknowledge, the Lord ALONE sets us in the safety. It’s a safety we long for (Psalm 12:5).

The Lord gives peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). All the understanding a young mom doesn’t even have time to acquire yet… a river of peace runs much deeper. 

His Book

Secondly, our children are infinitely more valuable in God’s sight than our own. He knew us in the womb, and His care goes to the length of etching each day in His book. 

“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.”

Psalm 139:16

Some have a life story filling many pages into old age, chapter after chapter. Others’ lives are brief and also beautiful, but still penned in glorious love and purpose. It’s not for me to know the number of my days, nor the number of my little one’s. He knew before we were fully formed in the womb, and each day is a gift of grace to enjoy. What comfort and courage!

Whenever those fingers of fear and worry start reaching for my heart, I remind myself of these bedrock truths. God is sovereign over motherhood.

What do we believe about God?

As my son grows older, I’ll have more opportunities to fear. It won’t be just his health, but I’ll think about his emotions, his personality, his education, his relationships, everything. I’ll need to reaffirm that it isn’t my job to be in control. I must remember that even at my baby’s most vulnerable state in the womb, I could trust God to sustain his heartbeat in accordance to His will. Can we not continue to cast our cares and anxieties on such a wise Father?

At a baby shower last week, a mom much further down the road than me, shared how she desired to communicate her trust in God to her kids even when it was hard to do so. Because sinful fear shows others what we believe about God — that He isn’t to be trusted.

Instead, we can rejoice in the knowledge of His power and complete control. Safety isn’t a place. Safety isn’t a frame of mind. Safety isn’t perfect health. Safety isn’t a high-dollar security system.

Safety is a gift from God alone. He faithfully walks with us each day, until welcoming us to our forever home. Yes, I can place something even as precious to me as my loved ones in the hollow of His hand.

My sister recently reminded me of this old hymn Safe Am I. Sing this over your baby’s nap time, and give thanks He ordained this very day in His book, before we were born.

“Safe Am I, Safe Am I,
In The Hollow Of His Hand.
Sheltered Over, Sheltered Over
With His Love Forever More.

No Ill Can Harm Me, No Foe Alarm Me;
For He Keeps Both Day And Night.
Safe Am I, Safe Am I
In The Hollow Of His Hand.”

Turn Up the Sound Doctrine

I recently introduced my husband to my favorite book, The Hiding Place, and we haven’t been able to stop talking about it since we listened to it together on our holiday road trip. 

What I love about the Ten Boom family is their lack of fuss. They simply read God’s Word and sought to apply it even while their home country decayed in the WWII German occupation. They intimately knew God’s voice and leaned on Him for courage. 

The Ten Booms knew they held no value to the Nazis. They weren’t young, rich, or cutting edge, just one wrong move away from prison or worse. They fixed watches for a living and loved the disabled people, the strays, the beggars, the homeless, anyone who knocked with need. In aligning their view of other image-bearers with God’s, some of them paid the ultimate sacrifice for their diligent obedience to the Lord. 

Wanting Ears Tickled

For all the things that will be hard next year, there is something that will be all too perfectly easy for us. It will be easy to skate around the Bible instead of studying it. Even silencing it by listening to the believer’s three worst enemies instead. 

1) The Deceiver subtly seeks to feed us lies, or even half-truths, suggesting we question God’s goodness like Eve did. He’ll try to make us ashamed of both Christ and the words of His mouth.

2) The World blasts anything that will sell for its own fat profit and cleverly hide the true price tag.

3) Our Flesh will crave the things the world offers because of its raging appetite.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.” 

2 Timothy 4:3

It’s easy to accumulate teachers who tickle or scratch our ears because we don’t even have to leave our couches to hear and read them. 

The Worthiest Voice

But God’s Word equals the brightest light and the source of sound doctrine. Our God is sufficient for our needs, and He speaks the raw truth. Our ears need it in an enormous amount so we can discern everything else we hear. 

I’ve seen the slow fade in my life. By giving my time, attention, and priority, I twist up the volume of other platforms. Perhaps of gifted writers who weave things that sound good, are mostly true in some contexts, and who emphasize the trending mantras. I have to be wary, lest I’m desensitized to deceptions cloaked in lovely prose. Humans are good at convoluting truth, one catchy phrase at a time.

Am I tuning into any influencers/teachers/writers/celebrities/church leaders who speak into my own fleshly desires? Who are easy to look at and promise enlightenment, but serve sickly-sweet flattery and feel-good stuff? I never want to stay informed of the culture at the cost of opening my heart to deception.   

Can we endure sound doctrine? The Piercing Lamp, volume turned up?  

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just to take Him at His Word

Just to rest upon His promise,

Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

‘Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus, –Louisa M. R. Stead

We would do well to follow in the footsteps of the simple Hollanders from The Hiding Place, just obeying what “saith the Lord” in daily tasks and stewarding opportunities for sacrifice with courage. Sound doctrine was their light in the hellish concentration camp. Sound doctrine spoke louder about their value than the guards who called them only by their prison numbers. Sound doctrine gave strong promises of God’s care and kindness in the absence of their basic human rights. 

In war-torn hunger, Jesus still proved the Bread of Life. While they had threadbare blankets in the cramped barracks, His Word is called a fire. When Corrie and her siblings were weak, His Word is known as a hammer. Their earthly bodies shriveled, but God’s Word stood as a mirror to their precious souls. They were defenseless, but the Nazis could not take away the Sword of the Spirit. 

It’s so sweet just to take Him at His Word.

As we venture into 2022 — be it easy or hard times — take up this Light. This Mirror. This Sword. Let’s delight in rather than wander from His commandments. Refresh ourselves with the accuracy of God’s own account of Himself. Turn up the sound doctrine so we can see our path.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet

And a light to my path.”

Psalm 119:105