Taming the Waves of Fear

Standing on the edge of the shore, I peered out into the ocean as far as my eyes could see. Way out there, the waves appeared so huge and powerful.

Overwhelming. Unstoppable.

I sure wouldn’t want to be caught out there! Those waves would crash over me, taking me under to be drowned.

Caught up in anxious thoughts, the water suddenly splashed around my ankles. The bubbling water refreshed my tired feet, white foam tickling my toes. This felt invigorating and relaxing as my feet sunk into the wet sand. Soaking up the moment, I peered out once again at the huge waves in the distance. And that’s when it hit me.

The threatening waves that started out enormous, had gradually diminished into tame wavelets by the time they reached the shore. 

What was viewed from a distance invoked fear and anxiety. But when viewed up close, now tame and subdued.

This image paints a powerful picture of what we do with the fears and worries of our life. When we peer into the distant, unknown future, our minds get tangled up in waves of anxiety. Things that haven’t even touched us yet threaten to pull us under, drowning our faith with fear.

What will I do IF that happens?

How will I survive IF they do such-and-such?

I will surely crumble IF this comes true. 

While these enormous waves of fear build their power and momentum, we allow defeat to crash over us, drowning out every ounce of peace and joy.

Viewed from a distance, these fears lurk heavily in our mind. But if only we would wait…

Wait for those fears to lose their momentum. Wait for those threats to diminish. Wait for those worries to dissipate to wavelets.

By the time our “what ifs” reach the shore of reality, we will often realize that the very things that once threatened to drown us, are now tame ripples we splash with our feet!

The things that appear powerful are now powerless. The things that seemed overwhelming are now manageable. The things that looked impossible are now hopeful.

In past seasons of my life, I’ve allowed the waves of fear to pull me in. I’ve allowed my thoughts to run wild with worry instead of letting God’s peace soak up my parched soul. I’ve learned that when I live my life out in the distant waves, I can’t possibly enjoy the abundant life back on the shore.

On the shore there is solid ground. On the shore I can stand still. On the shore I can soak up the sunlight.

Just as the bubbling water foams around my feet from the broken waves, God’s presence and peace soothe my aching soul.

So how do we live on the shore when the waves threaten to drown us? I truly believe the secret is where we focus our eyes. 

I can glance at the waves in the distance, but I don’t stay there. I can get a glimpse of an approaching storm, but I don’t get caught up in it. Instead, I focus in the other direction.

The day I stood on the beach at the edge of the shore, I turned around and heard the laughter of children. Their shrieks of joy drew me in. They were picking up shells. They were running back and forth, splashing in the ripples. Some were flying kites, throwing balls and building sand castles.

They were too busy having fun to notice the huge waves in the distance. They lived in the moment, enjoying the blessings of life.

I didn’t see any child looking out and focusing on the waves that could swallow them up if they drifted out. I didn’t see any child paralyzed by fear, refusing to budge from their beach chair.

Maybe this is a picture of what it means when God tells us to become like a little child. A child playing on the shore, refusing to get pulled under by the waves of fear. A child trusting their father to take care of their every need.

Where are you today? Are you living in fear from the “what if’s”? Are you letting the waves of worry control your every move?

If that’s where you are, I urge you to turn around. Walk upon the shore.

Trust God with the things that seem to threaten you. Enjoy the abundant life He wants you to have. Surrender to Him your fears and worries you see in the distance.

I pray that the peace of His presence will refresh your tired and weary soul.

shore

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Impatience to Peace

Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly. (Proverbs 14:29)

I’d just finished composing an important email that needed to go out. All I had to do was hit “send” and I’d be on my way to the next task of the day. But the Wi-fi signal dropped out and my email couldn’t go through.

Ugghh! Really??

 

My daughter needed one last piece of information from the Internet for her school work. After carefully searching for what she needed, I was ready to print. But no. The printer had a mind of its own and stubbornly decided it wasn’t going to print in that moment.

You’ve got to be kidding me! I need this right now

I had just enough time to get to my appointment as I happily drove down the highway. Christian music blasting and the sun roof open, I sang cheerfully, soaking up the beautiful afternoon. But suddenly I had to slam on my brakes as traffic came to a screeching halt. A slow truck pulled a trailer behind it, at a whole 25 miles per hour. I was going to be late now!

Come on! Can’t you go faster?? (I said these words out loud as if the driver could actually hear me.)

More often than not, I’ll humbly admit that my level of patience is not good in these moments.

Technology and Traffic. These are the two things that–when they aren’t going my way–try my patience more than anything.

Instead of letting the Holy Spirit work patience in me, I frequently choose to let my flesh drive me in the opposite direction. A direction leading to a quick-tempered attitude. According to the scripture above in Proverbs, this displays folly.

Folly? A fancy word for sin.

This is where the process of sanctification takes place. The areas in which we are most weak are where God wants to work His character in us. The situations that drive us most crazy are where God wants to usher in His peace to replace our impatience.

I honestly feel like a failure in these moments! The moments where I’ve lost my patience and embraced my flesh instead of finding God’s power and following His lead.

What about you? Can you identify the areas of your life where you seem to lose your patience most often?

The moments that trigger the worst in you?

The moments when your calm spirit quickly turns to a chaotic sass?

God is showing me that these are the very opportunities He allows for me to turn to Him. These are the moments in which I get to decide to follow my flesh or surrender to Him. As a teacher continues to test his students until mastery is achieved, our loving Heavenly Father continues to let us encounter these moments until His character comes through.

So the next time I blow it (yes, it will happen!), I can soak up God’s grace and forgiveness and trust that He will give me yet another opportunity to try again. For me it’s traffic and technology. For you it might be something else. But whatever it is, as long as we live on this fallen earth, there will be ample opportunities for God to work patience in us in our most trying moments.

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

When you don’t FEEL thankful

This time of year everyone focuses on things they’re thankful for.  We post our thoughts on Facebook of what we’re thankful for. Our kids make crafts at school and proudly display what they’re thankful for. Maybe your Thanksgiving gathering will include a time for each person to express the favorite things they’re thankful for.

It’s usually pretty predictable what we’re truly thankful for: God, Jesus, our family, our friends, good health, employment, and of course all the food we will stuff ourselves with on Thanksgiving Day.

These are all wonderful gifts to be thankful for. I would be the first one to speak up that I am thankful for everything I just mentioned.

But what about those things we really are NOT thankful for? What about the things nobody would dare to mention on their top 10 things I’m thankful for list? What about those things that hurt deep inside us that we just couldn’t possibly imagine being thankful for?

*Your doctor grimly explains to you that you have cancer.

*Your boss informs you that you are no longer employed.

*Your check book balance is lower than the total amount of your bills.

*Your marriage is hanging by a thread and you are ready to call it quits.

*Your child does something that leaves you heart-broken and your stomach in knots.

*Your loved one is not here with you on this earth any longer.

*The sin that so easily entangles you continues to drag you down.

*Someone you thought was your friend has betrayed you.

*Your aging parents are needing you more than ever but it’s causing major stress.

*As a momma of young children you’re overwhelmed, spiraling into despair and depression.

Seriously….are any of these things on your top 10 list? Are any of these things gushing out of your mouth when it’s your turn to declare what you’re thankful for? I didn’t see any of these things on anyone’s Facebook status in the last 30 days. I’m pretty certain that nobody’s child came home with any of these things plastered on their Thanksgiving craft from school. Nope.

Why in the world should anyone be thankful for anything like this? Why would we even consider it?

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we read the following words from the apostle Paul: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Really, Paul? What were you thinking when you wrote those words? You’ve got to be kidding me! Who is he to tell us the conditions under which we should be thankful?

He was beaten and stoned multiple times. He was shipwrecked multiple times. He went without sleep and food. He was imprisoned. He even spent an entire day and night in the open sea.

Yet he could still pen those powerful words in his letter to believers.

I’ve read and re-read that verse countless times, it still says the same thing. Give thanks in ALL circumstances. It doesn’t say give thanks only when things are going your way. It doesn’t say give thanks only when your marriage is thriving, your kids are well-behaved, your bank account is full, your health is stellar and nobody is saying anything offensive to you. (It would be MUCH easier to give thanks if everything were perfect in our worlds!)

So what is the secret of expressing thankfulness in our worst circumstances? How can we really do this?

Here are two things I’ve gathered from this challenging command:

1. The verse does not say to be thankful for these things, but to be thankful IN them. What’s the difference? It’s just one little word. To be thankful IN something is to trust that God is still good no matter what. It’s not a feeling, but an attitude of surrender. It means that although my heart may be full of hurt, my spirit is still full of hope. I don’t deny the pain I’m feeling, but I take it to the foot of the cross and thank God that He is still in control.

2. If you back up to verse 17, just one phrase before this command, you’ll see something that a lot of people skip over. I missed this for years! Here it is: Verse 17 says to pray continually. I used to think this verse was only meant for monks and nuns who lived in isolation from the world and could be on their knees in a continual state of prayer. But it’s meant for all believers! For me. For you. When I am in a continual conversation with Jesus throughout my day, talking to him about everything and being aware of his presence moment-by-moment, then my heart can focus on him in every situation….the good and the bad.

I can focus on Him when I feel hope, but also when I hurt.

I can focus on Him for the victories throughout the day, but also when I blow it and can receive his grace over and over again.

I can thank Him for the blessings, but also for the challenges that drive me crazy at times.

This is not an easy thing to do! It is truly a process. A process that builds character in us. A process that brings us to our knees….bringing us closer to the heart of God.

I want to encourage you to truly search your heart and not only express the blessings you are thankful for, but to offer up a sacrifice of praise for those things you wish to be thankful in, and see what God will do. His love is overwhelming. His grace is powerful. His mercy is never-ending.

 

Crying

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

View From the Top

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to New York City for a fast-paced, adventurous get-away with my mom. A popular landmark constantly being pointed out to us was the Chrysler Building. This skyscraper stands strong at 1,046 feet tall with 77 floors. Straining your neck to look at it from the ground, it towers over you with its monstrous stance. Insurmountable. Overwhelming. You can’t even fathom how tall it is.

The_Chrysler_Building.2  2ndCB

 

But just a few days later we ventured up to the top of the Empire State Building. Once we finally arrived at the observation deck, we peered out at the magnificent view in front of us. We tried to point out the landmarks we’d previously seen. Suddenly it came into view. There it was!

The Chrysler Building….

empirestateview

Really? Was this the same building we observed earlier?

The same building that appeared monstrous, insurmountable and overwhelming now looked much smaller! From the view at the top, you could see the entire building without straining your neck. You could see for miles! The view was breathtaking and spectacular.

The difference between the ground view and the top view was PERSPECTIVE.

As I looked out over the magnificent view of New York City, a powerful truth hit me hard:

From our perspective, the challenges and trials we face appear to be insurmountable, monstrous and quite overwhelming. But from God’s perspective, our challenges and trials are part of a magnificent and spectacular plan that only He can see all at once!

As humans, we will never have the top-of-the-observation-deck view of our lives. We will not be able to see the whole picture but only one part at a time. But we can trust our faithful God because He always has the upper view of everything.

We can absolutely trust Him with the things we can’t see.

The challenges that seem overwhelming.

The trials that threaten to strain our souls.

Yes. That is what true faith is, dear friend! Trusting God with the things we can’t see, knowing that He sees it all.

Where are you today? Are you looking up at something that seems overwhelming? Is there a challenge smack in front of you, crowding your vision?

I encourage you to run to your Heavenly Father to the top of the observation deck. Take his hand and let him lead you out to a place of rest. Let your soul soar with peace as you gaze upon the spectacular purpose He has for you.

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is like a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe.

Blessings to you, dear friend!

Lisa Preuett

 

The Truth is in the TREES!

After surviving the sub-zero temps of winter and trudging through mounds of snow, we’re anxious for spring! All winter long, many trees around us have been in a dormant stage….as a means of survival. Before we know it, the once-barren branches of winter will gradually blossom with budding leaves. Leaves that will pop with vibrant shades of GREEN. These are the trees we anxiously await for signs of change.

The official name for this kind of tree is deciduous.

These types of trees were designed by our creator to shed their leaves for part of the year. In our area of the country, these trees lose their leaves in the winter and re-grow them in the spring.  This re-growth process is the evidence that spring has arrived! But before we know it, these same leaves will slowly change. They’ll be splashed with bright autumn colors of red, orange and yellow. Then they’ll fade and wither to the ground again.

Deciduous trees are always changing. They never stay the same.

These deciduous trees are a symbol of US! We are constantly changing. Life is changing all around us with each passing season. We too have seasons where we’re thriving. Flourishing. Our fruit blooms vividly. Life is good. No complaints. But then the season changes. We barely survive the barrenness of a drought. Some seasons are mundane and we’re just surviving. Just when we grow comfortable with life as it is, things change. Again. And again.

But there’s another kind of tree we observe. The evergreen. Unlike the deciduous trees, the evergreens keep their leaves ALL YEAR LONG. Even through the most freezing temps and harsh winds of winter, these trees stay the same. Even in the heat of summer, they stay the same. They always keep their leaves!

The Evergreen trees are symbolic of our amazing God!  He. Never. Changes.

Our God is the same yesterday, today and always. Throughout every season of our life, He remains the same. Through the good, the bad and the ugly. He never changes. Even when life is swirling out of control before our very eyes? Even when the unthinkable happens? Even when we feel most unworthy and unlovable? Yes. You can count on it.

It gets even better. Don’t miss this!! Do you notice that the evergreen trees aren’t just contained in one place away from the deciduous trees? Look again…..

mixed trees              mixedtrees2

 

The evergreen trees are spread out among the deciduous trees. Mixed in with the barren trees of winter. I don’t think for a minute that this is random. It’s not an accident they are placed like this.

These trees point to a powerful truth:

GOD      IS       WITH       US!

If you look closely, this beautiful picture is all around us. Screaming silently for us to open our eyes and see this powerful symbol of how our incredible God is not watching us from afar in a distant land. He’s not planted in a separate location afraid to come in contact with us. He is truly WITH us.

Dead_tree

This picture is a powerful symbol of how we feel sometimes when life appears hopeless. Barren. No sign of life. No visible fruit. Yet surrounding this lifeless tree you see evergreens! Too many to count. Looks like they go on and on. Forever.

How can we look past this and not see the personification of God speaking loud and clear through His creation? This picture above is shouting for all to hear, “I see you. I am with you.” 

Once God opened my eyes to His truth through the 2 kinds of trees, I can’t keep it to myself. It’s hard to even express it completely with words. (I’ve almost driven off the road a few times gazing at these trees!)

I pray He will open your eyes too, dear friend.

Look all around you and never forget that no matter what season of life you are in, whether it’s thriving or barren, God is with you.

Hebrews 13:8  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”

Matthew 1:23  “….and they will call him Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us’ “

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

 

Embracing Our Day of REST

Exodus 20:8-10 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God.”

Runners follow a strict training schedule if a race is on the horizon. Short runs. Strength training. Cross training. And of course the weekly long runs. All of these pieces of the runner’s puzzle work together, each one fulfilling a specific role to ensure success. But something crucial that simply can’t be overlooked is the day of REST. Most training schedules have this word in bold letters, calling attention to its importance. At first I didn’t’ understand why this day of rest was part of the runner’s world. Shouldn’t I be doing something ? What if I got behind earlier in the week and needed to squeeze in a quick three-mile run or weight lifting session? Couldn’t I use that day to get ahead in my training? What could it possibly hurt? Besides, I didn’t even feel tired.

It is no surprise that the day of rest comes the day after a long run. Your physical body must have that day to recuperate from the stress placed upon it. It’s a crucial day to recover. A day to let your legs relax, unwinding from the persistent impact of constantly pounding the pavement. A runner’s body needs this time to repair and recover. Miss this day and you’re setting yourself up for injury. Ignore the warning and you’ll regret it later.

Just as our physical bodies require rest to recover, our souls desperately need a day of rest for renewal. After a full week of living at a break-neck pace, we must slow down. We must simply be still in the presence of God. We must pull away from our hectic schedule. We must unplug from the rest of the world–basking in His loving presence. We must put to death the nagging urge to use this day of rest to get caught up on things—to get ahead. No dear friend, our God designed us to rest. He set the example for us when He created the world. This day of rest is included in the ten commandments to His people. If God set the pace for us in this area, then shouldn’t we embrace it and obediently follow suit?

But I have so much to do! I need to get caught up on work, errands and projects!  I feel so guilty resting when everything is piling up!

He calls us to unplug from the crazy pace we attempt to survive in and beckons us to simply sit at his feet.  He wants to recharge us. Renew us. Refresh us. But He can’t do this if we ignore our day of rest. We bypass many blessings when we ignore the call to rest. Just as a runner’s physical body will suffer harm without rest, our souls will ache deeply and our faith will be weakened. When you see the word REST on your training schedule, let it be a reminder to embrace the day of rest God created for YOU.

READY? How are you doing with carving out a day of rest from your busy schedule? Is it easier for you to justify a physical rest compared to a rest for your soul? Why or why not? What do you need to change to allow this day of rest?

GET SET. Matthew 11:28 Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.

GO! Lord Jesus, I struggle sometimes with embracing a day of rest in the quick-paced culture we live in. Help me to slow down and pull away from the cares of this world. Please help me to embrace this day to worship you and be renewed by your peace. Thank you for designing my life with a built-in desire to rest in your presence. Amen

Runner-relaxing-in-grass

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

Are You Ready for Christmas?

The closer we get to Christmas Day, the more you’ll hear this question:

“Are you ready for Christmas?”

What exactly does this question mean to you?

“Have you finished your shopping?”

“Have you wrapped all your presents?”

“Have you bought all the food you’ll need for that perfect Christmas dinner?”

“Have you finished buying those last-minute stocking stuffers?”

I think these are the thoughts that pop into our head when people ask, “Are you ready for Christmas?”

But deep down in my heart, I’m never comfortable answering this question. If Christmas is truly about the coming of Jesus to save us from our sins, then perhaps the question we should really be asking is this:

Are we ready for Christ?

Are we ready to humbly admit our need for a savior?

Are we ready for Jesus to continue refining the rough places of our ugly flesh?

Are we ready to surrender that one area of our lives that keeps tripping us up?

Are we ready to say yes to Him when our fear compels us to say no?

I’d much rather answer the questions about whether my shopping is done and if my kids’ stockings are ready (they’re not!). It’s easier to smile and say I still have that one last gift to wrap and those last few items to get at Kroger for our Christmas brunch.

But it’s much harder to admit that my flesh is still fighting against selfish pride.  Every. Single. Day.

I need a savior every moment of every day!

It’s hard to confess that there are several rough places in my soul needing a gentle touch and smoothing out by the grace of God.

I need Jesus to not only be my redeemer, but my holy refiner!

It’s hard to own up to the fact that I’m fearful of the unknown and what lurks around the corner of the next phase of my life.

I need the peace of Jesus to calm my fears!

Am I ready for Christ?

Yes.

I’m ready for Him to take all the yucky, ugly, shameful, fearful things in my flesh and make them into something beautiful that only HE can accomplish. Yes, I’m ready. Because my way of doing things–apart from Him–doesn’t usually turn out very well.

On Christmas Day, the gifts will be unwrapped, the stockings will be emptied, and the food will be gobbled up. And just days afterward the tree will come down, the Christmas decorations boxed up and the after-Christmas sales will expire.

Nobody will ask you again until next year, “Are you ready for Christmas?”

But each and every day after Christmas, we must answer this question: Are you ready for Christ?

Ready for Him to interfere with your plans?

Ready for Him to lead you out of your comfort zone?

Ready for Him to take you to the next step of his purpose for you?

So dear friend, I ask you to answer honestly……Are you ready for Christ?

I pray God’s richest blessings upon you and your families. May you have a Merry Christmas! But most importantly, I pray you will embrace Jesus Christ every day of the year.

Ready for Christmas

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

http://www.reststopforthesoul.com