Bethany's BlogWords of Encouragement

Through the Torrent

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide, and to shield me], I shall not want. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. 

Psalms 23:1-3

I've been thankful for opportunities to be out in nature and walk during this pandemic. In some states, the stay-at home orders are beginning to lift, and life will begin to ramp up with more busy moving about. It's been a long time for many of us to stay at home, a trying time to be without work and to have schedules so disrupted. For me, the time of reflection, hikes, and being with family has been good, and as things move toward opening I want to be able to hang on to those quiet spaces. I've been okay with the long days, the loss of time, the times reflection. 

For many it's been a fearful and frustrating time. I was thinking about the difference last evening as we walked by a very forceful river and waterfall.  It did not exude peace or safety at all, but commanded respect and distance.  Just like the pandemic. As I watched the water rush down the rocks and under the bridge I was standing on, I was very aware and thankful to not be in the water. The power of the river could take anything in its path, leaving nothing. 

How does someone feel at peace with that kind of force and danger? it's one thing to sit beside a bubbling creek, and quite another to be at a rivers edge. 

Standing on the bridge I considered both. God is both. Life is both. 

This pandemic has taken lives. It has forced its way into all our lives in one way or another. It has challenged peace, raised questions, stirred up turmoil. It has also slowed many of us down, opened new streams of communication, strengthened family ties, and challenged us to look at our priorities. It has given us time to rest. 

God absolutely does lead us beside still waters, He also allows us to experience the force of wild water. He is there in both cases offering peace. The stillness of our lives is an inner choice. A choice that is sometimes very difficult when their is an out of control force of power at the door. 

i have wondered what this pandemic is preparing us for, God promises to turn trials into triumph. The days ahead as we reopen will be challenging as well. We want to move on, and still dam up the force that threatens our borders. We  want to live in peace, and believe in safety. But, now many of us have a new awareness of unexpected waters. 

I have watched God lead my heart through many unexpected torrents, to places of celebrated calm. I have noticed that questions pop up every time, through it all, and God stills the angst I sometimes feel. I have witnessed Him calming the force of the rushing invasive power to a still calm peace within. His ability to protect the deepest needs do not waver through the unexpected torrents of turmoil.

Whatever is happening in your life today, and however you have experienced the unexpected wave of changes the last few weeks, my prayer for you is that you will know His peace through all of it.

 

What Does He Want?

 

 

 

"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature."

2 Peter 1:4

Have you ever wondered what God wants? Does He seem far away and mysterious with a big question mark between you and Him? Maybe quiet and withdrawn? I definately have had times in my life when this is my experience. It's taken several years for me to come to the belief that God wants me not what I do. He has given me His word through the Bible and through His divine nature to live out His desires for me to know Him, and to know who He created me to be.  When we know who God is, then we are able to steward the gifts He gives us. When we know who God is, then we have access to His heart, mind, and His will-His fullness.

In Philippians 2:12-13 we are told that it is God who works in us to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose. God longs for each of us to come into the fullness of who He created us to be and to live in the purpose of the destiny He has for us. God diligently works within us, when we allow Him to, to reach His good purpose. 

God rejoices over the restoration of our hearts, and someday He will come to restore all things. Because He lives within us, we have the ability to restore brokenness in the world around us. His Spirit lives and speaks through us and when we allow Him to touch the lives of others and give them hope in who He is, there is restoration. He wants us to live in a place of restoration. Even in times when it may feel like everything is falling apart, like many of us feel during Covid isolation. God desires us to press into Him, believe in restoration, and speak life into the world around us. When we are able to remember that He is good and He promises life over us, we are able to share with others His divine nature.

Jesus gave His life so that we would have the opportunity to partner with God. God invested in us. He wants Jesus to receive the fullness of his reward, which is a heavenly return on the investment He made in us. We are the Bride of Christ, He longs to be with us and to know our heart and be in deep relationship with us. 

What does God want? He wants you. He wants your surrendered heart. He wants you to sit in the stillness of the day and ask for His presence to resonate within your Spirit. He wants to have a converstation with you, restore you, transform you. He wants you to participate in His divine nature, and learn how precious you are. He wants you to discover that you are worth the priceless investment, and that He has always had a plan for you. He wants to consume you with love.

 

YES!

 

 

 

Recently, I heard someone read Psalms 91, and it made me think of the word YES!

“He Who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].” Verse 1-2

What if, in my mind I tell myself this:

YES, I will dwell in the shelter of the Most High. YES, I will remain secure and I will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

“I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust [with confidence, and on whom I rely.]

For He will save you from the trap of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence.” Verse 3

YES! He is my refuge and my fortress, and YES, I will have confidence in Him. YES, He will save me from the trap of the enemy, and from deadly disease. YES!

“He will cover you and completely protect you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a wall. You will not be afraid of the terror of night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, not of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction (sudden death) that lays waste at noon.” Verse 4-6

YES, I am covered and completely protected. YES, His wings will give me refuge. YES, He is faithful and YES He is my shield and wall.  YES, I will remain in peace and not be afraid.

Moving down through the chapter my eyes rest on verse 11.

“For He will command His angels in regard to you, to protect and defend and guard you in all your ways [of obedience and service] They will lift you up in their hands.”

YES, His angels are with me all the time. I am protected, defended, and guarded in all my ways. YES, I am lifted up in their hands.

So, you get the idea, right? YES is a powerful word. When I read scripture and I insert the word YES; it encourages me. I feel much stronger and confident. God says YES over and over again. He wants us to know this, believe, and understand His willingness and desire to be with us. In fact, the more that I believe in the YES of God, the more my life is renewed. Scripture washes over us like fresh spring water, cleaning, renewing, and refreshing. It is a big Yes to hope, life, peace, and newness.  It is a celebration of Who God is. He is the God of YES in each of our lives. 

What do we do though when it feels like He never says yes? Every turn we take is a dead end, and we feel alone and afraid? I’ve been there, full of questions and pain. Sometimes when we call out to God it feels like He is not there. We struggle to connect with the God that so often says YES, when everything around us looks like a no!

I want to encourage you today to find the God of YES. Believe in His YES as you focus on His mighty love and protection in your life. Be encouraged that with each yes, you have something more to celebrate! For God is so good. Even in the despair, He is still the God of Yes, for He says that He will take the pain that tries to destroy our lives and turn it into good. Yes, He will!

Friendship with God

 

 

 

 

And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Exodus 33:14

Moses was the kind of guy that talked freely with God. He didn’t hold back, sometimes he even challenged God. I like Moses a lot, because God was very visible through all of his doubts. Moses didn’t think that he was the right man for the job of leading the Israelites, God on the other hand, saw the truth. Moses didn’t think he had the ability to speak well, God saw eloquence in him. Moses was caught up in the facts of his life, which led him to believe many lies. God, gently enabled him to see the truth about his life, and Moses became the mighty leader he was designed to be.

In verse twelve and thirteen of this chapter, Moses confronts God: “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”

Then God answered him by promising His presence and rest.

Moses didn’t stop there. He continued by saying: “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.”

Moses did not want to be where God wasn’t. 

Moses and God often had conversations that seems like a negotiation. God is speaking one thing and Moses is coming back with a counter, a question, or a challenge. The beauty of it all is that God trusted Moses, and He wanted to hear his view. They were friends, companions, soul-mates. The relationship they had with each other was based on love and grace. It was a friendship of freedom.

What are you saying to God today? Is the relationship you have with Him a deeply intimate friendship? Or, do you think of Him as a dictator, always there to tell you what to do and where to go? Do you feel the freedom in your relationship with Him to ask questions and share your point of view?

Moses knew that when the lines of communication were open with God, He would have rest and peace.  God stayed right beside him, and He gave Moses rest, just as He promised.  Rest is good.

For me, I’ve been practicing freedom in my conversations with God for several years now. He has given me rest and peace in return.  I’ve learned that God can take it. He wants to hear the endless questions I have for Him, He wants to know my ideas, perspectives, and thoughts. He is eager to spend every day with me and enjoys any interaction, even when I challenge something. I have come to a place of knowing that I can trust Him and rest in Who He is because He loves me. Yes, He loves me. All. The. Time!

Talk to God today, and don’t leave anything out. 

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