The Question Every Dreamer Asks: God, Should I Continue?

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I didn’t want the open the email. The subject line said it all.

“Thank you…”

After a few years pursuing this writing stuff, I knew what those two words meant.

“Thank you but no thank you.”

“Thank you but this doesn’t meet our needs at this time.”

“Thank you, and please try again.”

My finger hovered over the delete button before sending the words off into cyber space oblivion. I opened the Word document for an article I was finishing and the cursor blinked, mocking me.

Why do you continue with this craziness? It’s not going anywhere. You’re wasting your time.

I slammed the laptop shut and busied myself with chores. At least I could do something right. After an hour the laundry was done, the dishes were put away and I was ready to pick up my youngest from school. And I was on time, a tiny miracle all by itself.

But I still couldn’t get the nagging voices of doubt out of my head. I knew instead of mulling over the situation and getting nowhere, I should bring it before God.

Do I continue to pursue this dream, God? Is this something you want?

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I was deathly afraid the answer would be “no,” but I asked anyway. I needed to know, one way or the other.

Sometimes when we come face to face with our fears, God speaks to us through a friend. Other times it’s through a song or a sermon.

The ways He speaks are as limitless as He is, but he’s always trying to reach our hearts.

On this particular day, He spoke to me through a story. And this storyteller loves stories.

It takes place during the years of the Old Testament when Samuel led the Israelites, and they’re facing an intimidating enemy who won’t stop pursuing them: the Philistines. In a moment of desperation Samuel cries out to God, and God delivers the Israelites from battle. (1 Samuel 7:9)

While this victory was impressive all by itself, God doesn’t stop there. Scripture tells us that for the the rest of Samuel’s reign, God suppresses the Philistines and there is peace.

To celebrate their victory, Samuel doesn’t just praise God and thank Him. He doesn’t count his blessings and move on. He builds a memorial.

He builds an altar to the Lord and names it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:12)

As I read over this testimony of God’s faithfulness, I knew what God was asking me to do.

Stop focusing on the mountain in front of you and look at what I’ve brought you through.

We often get so focused on the obstacles, the next hurdle or project that we forget how far we’ve come. We forget to celebrate. We forget to slow down and take stock of the blessings God has poured into our lives.

I don’t know about you, but I need to stop obsessing over roadblocks and start building altars. More reminders that even when the cards seem stacked against me, God is faithful.

If I could attain each goal on my own, I wouldn’t need God. I wouldn’t need faith. And God wouldn’t get the glory, which is why I went down this crazy path in the first place.

Friend, the next time God brings you through a battle, remember to stop and take notice. Then, create a reminder. Build an altar, write it in your journal, or mark the date on your calendar. Do whatever it takes to commit it to memory.

The next trial will surely come, but we can face it with sureness of God’s power.

When we remember what God helped us overcome, the mountain in front of us goes from threatening to surmountable.

 

GIVEAWAY:

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When You Feel Abandoned By God

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“Well this isn’t how you prayed this moment would turn out.”

The thought passed through my filter of truth and circled my mind on repeat. I knew it was a lie, but I listened to it. I stood there with my four-year-old, who was starting a new school, and tried to hold back tears.

His own tears flowed freely.

“I want to go to old school,” he said repeatedly. The school staff gathered around, trying to calm him.

“Buddy, this is your school now. You’re going to have lots of fun and you get to go to school with Jay,” I said, faking composure.

Big brother stood beside us, cool as a cucumber. He told little one everything was going to be okay and talked about the things he was going to do with his class.

I looked at my firstborn’s cherub-like face with amazement. He was a little beacon of sunshine in this mess of a morning. A reminder from God that He was still there.

The guidance counselor distracted little one with a walk over to the school’s pet lizard and settled him. With her prompting, I snuck outside to my car, praying my baby’s day would improve.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing at PurposefulFaith.com about how God speaks in those times when we feel abandoned. You can read the rest of my post here

When We Give Our Doubt a Voice

voicing our doubt

“So what are you going to do?”

It was an honest question, but it hurt. My new acquaintance was already getting on my nerves, and after responding with feigned confidence, I made my exit as politely as possible and went looking for my husband.

Doubt can be such a lonely place.

I was seven months pregnant and my husband and I were living over two thousand miles from the place I’d spent my entire life. We had no family nearby and friends were slow in coming.

So the question, “What are you going to do?” was very real, but I hadn’t voiced it out loud. Whenever it darkened my thoughts I’d recite trite phrases like, “sink or swim,” but the cliché didn’t make me feel any better or make the uncertainty go away.

I knew nothing about babies and I trapped myself in a cell of my own making, afraid to give a voice to the thoughts which filled my head. I saw other moms who seemed to possess such unshakable confidence and wondered why I couldn’t grasp hold of any.

For months, I feared giving my doubt a voice. I thought speaking it out loud would give it life. As long as I kept it buried, never sharing it or voicing it, I believed it would simply go away.

But the longer I kept it buried, the more it continued to grow.

If we look at scripture, we encounter many men and women of God who experienced doubt. But few of them move me and shake me more than Thomas, who is often dubbed “Doubting Thomas.”

Thomas didn’t just doubt inwardly. He spoke it loudly and without hesitation. When the disciples told him they had seen the risen Lord, he declared he wouldn’t believe until felt the scars on his hands and placed his fingers into his side. (John 20:25)

Pretty bold in his uncertainty, wasn’t he? And do you know what happened when he uttered those words of disbelief?

Jesus appeared to him. Not as a passerby or by chance, but specifically for the purpose of helping Thomas believe.

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

John 20:27 NIV

When we give our doubt a voice, Jesus can expel it with his voice.

When We Give Our Doubt a Voice

Doubt, when wrestled through and given a name, can create greater faith.

Jesus didn’t appear to Thomas and rebuke him for doubting or punish him for saying something so outrageous. He gave him want his heart desired, followed by a straightforward command, “Believe.”

I spent my first year as a mom not believing. In myself, in God’s ability to use me, or anything else. I hid my doubt and disbelief because I was ashamed.

Over time, God used some beautiful women in my life to show me it was okay to open up the vault and be real. And when I voiced my true feelings, my darkness was met with his Light.

Are you facing a wall of doubt today, but afraid to speak the words aloud? Can I encourage you? Speak. Come before the throne of grace and speak.

He takes those thoughts of “not enough,” and “not worthy” and shows us He is able to provide more than we can ask, think or imagine.

And like Thomas, whose bold declaration of doubt brought a face to face encounter with Jesus, we can say nothing but, “My Lord and My God!”

Fall at the feet of the One who can turn our doubt into bold declarations of faith.

 

Linking up with these communities: #LiveFreeThursday

Does My Story Matter?

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It was just three simple words on a piece of paper.

Three simple words with a couple of exclamation points and a smiley face added for emphasis. And it changed the course of my entire day.

“You are beautiful.”

My husband knew I was feeling down. Following the previous night’s rejection email, I explained to him that this writing thing was a lot harder than I thought. Doubt and discouragement snuck in at a completely unexpected moment and before I knew it, I was throwing myself a pity party complete with chocolate ice cream and the latest selection on Netflix.

I knew rejection was an inevitable part of this calling. But “thick skin” simply isn’t part of who I am. I am clay, slowly being molded in the hands of my Creator, even though it is often a painful process.

The next morning, I awoke with the words from the email still fresh in my mind. But with three words from my husband, I was ready to move forward instead of sinking back into a myriad of self-doubt.

“You are beautiful.”

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He saw me when I was having trouble seeing myself. He saw the masterpiece God created, formed to do good works which he planned for me long ago. (Ephesians 2:10) He saw this hurdle as a stepping stone rather than a deterrent.

Do you believe it?

Do you believe you are his masterpiece, exquisite in the eyes of your Maker? Do you believe he is able to do more through you than you can ask, hope or imagine?

Because whether you do makes all the difference in the world, to yourself and to those around you.

You are an integral part of God’s love letter to the world.

When we are convinced that the role we play in his story matters, we are able to make a life changing impact to those around us.

It’s all about perspective.

I remember Esther, and how her acts of courage saved an entire race. But even this brave woman of God faced fear and doubt. The simple act of going before the king without being summoned could have meant her death.

When she protests to her adoptive father, Mordecai, he delivers these words, which change the course of history:

And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? Esther 4:14 NIV

For such a time as this.

By simply delivering these words to Esther, Mordecai pushed her to do what God had called her to do from the beginning. She moves past her uncertainty and does what she knows only she can do.

We are a part of God’s story for such a time as this. Our words have the power to push people to act, to move forward, and to be everything that God has called them to be.

In the same way, our words have the power to crush and fizzle any flame of desire someone has to make a difference.

We have a chance to be part of the glorious love letter God is writing to the world. He invites each of us into his design, as sure as the sun rises each day.

Will you reach out and tell someone she matters today?

Doing so could change the course of history.

 

*Heart carved on tree photo credit (text added)

*Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursdayEquipping Godly Women, and Susan B. Mead’s #DanceWithJesusLinkup.

 

Equipping Godly Women