Anywhere Faith

Have you ever struggled to step out in faith when you sensed God calling you to do something? Or perhaps you’ve just doubted your faith because of difficult circumstances swirling around you. 

My friend, Heather King, is guest posting today on my blog and her new book Anywhere Faith is something you will definitely want to check out. She writes candidly about how fear and insecurity often get in the way of our desire to step out in faith. You’ll be challenged and encouraged by her words! 

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I was in the middle of packing for a writer’s conference when I felt a crushing wave of defeat.

I wanted to give up.

It would be easier (I told God) if I just stopped now, stopped packing, stopped investing time, energy, focus and resources on writing.

Maybe I could pick it up again later, but right now this was hard.

I felt terrifyingly small. I worried that maybe I was trying to do something that God hadn’t actually called me to do.  Had I heard His voice right?  Was I in His will?

I also, to be totally honest, felt overwhelmed by the idea of being plain old me at a large writer’s conference with women who looked so put-together.  They would have perfect hair with perfect highlights and perfectly awesome shoes that matched their perfectly stylish outfits.

Me?  I don’t have highlights in my hair and I don’t wear high heels.  Surely I’d be out of place.

I flopped back on the pillows of my bed with stacks of clothes around me and an empty suitcase in front of me.

It felt like one of those defining moments, one of those times when we have to choose whether we take another step forward and say “yes” to God or we pack it all in and choose what feels easier in the moment.

Two things happened.

The first is I remembered I wasn’t alone. Many before me had similar conversations with God.

Moses wanted God to “send somebody else.”
Gideon wasn’t sure he heard God’s voice clearly.
Esther was afraid of what might happen if she obeyed.
Martha thought God’s call didn’t make sense.

So often what we really need in our Christian walk is for someone to understand what we’re going through and to say, “Me too!  I’ve been there!  And this is how God was faithful.”

That’s what Scripture shows us.  We see broken people bringing their brokenness before God and He still used them.

We don’t have to pretend with God and we don’t have to be perfect before He can use us.  We can tell Him the deeply honest truth and bring Him our brokenness so He can make us whole and holy. (#AnywhereFaith)

I brought God my smallness in that moment.  I gave Him my brokenness.  I told Him the truth:

I feel overwhelmed by the task and underwhelmed by my ability.  I feel like others are more able and more worthy.  I feel uncertain of the next step.  But I will go.  I will follow you “Anywhere” you want me to go as long as you go with me.

As a teen girl, I had copied a poetic prayer into the front of my Bible that began with these words:

Lord, send me anywhere only go with me (David Livingstone).

This became the prayer of my heart.

And truly, wherever He calls us to go, He’s right there with us and His presence is our great desire and our deepest need.

The second thing that happened for me in that moment I wanted to give up is that my phone pinged with a Facebook message from an author I’d never met face to face.

She had been to the writer’s conference before and wanted to encourage me with this: “Don’t feel overwhelmed.  God’s got this.  Don’t worry about what to wear or whether you have the perfect hair.  Don’t feel out of place because you think every woman there will have snazzy outfits and you won’t fit in.  Just be yourself and trust God.”

It was the perfect confirmation, perfect encouragement, perfect word at the perfect moment.

When our hearts are set on obedience to God, He is our Help and our Strength along the way. We don’t have to be enough all on our own!

Whatever God has called you to do, whether it’s to follow Him around the world, across the street or right there in your own home:

He will equip you, He will be with you, and He will help you overcome. (#AnywhereFaith)

But we must first choose to bring Him the honest truth about our fears, insecurities, and excuses and ask for His help to follow Him “Anywhere.”

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you (Psalm 56:3).

 

To read more about how we can bring our honest struggles and fears to God and ask for His help to live lives of obedience and faith, please check out my new book: Anywhere Faith: Overcome Fear, Insecurity, and Excuses and Say Yes to God.

To read more devotionals from heather C. King, please visit her website at http://heathercking.org/ or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/heatherckingauthor/

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Darkness

Ever felt like darkness surrounded you? Like it completely engulfed your entire being?

You know what I mean, right? Those times when you just can’t see anything clearly. Your path is hidden. You have no idea what is ahead. Like a thick forest you can’t penetrate, darkness overtakes you.

It’s in those times of darkness when we feel like God is not there. He’s abandoned us. He’s forgotten about us. Does he even care at all?

Our hearts may resonate with David in Psalms 139:11 when he says this:

Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me.

We usually try to avoid the darkness. We want to stay in the light as long as possible. We absolutely FEAR the dark places of our journey! Every thread of our soul unravels away at the mere thought of walking into darkness.

But I found a nugget today that I’d never seen before. A powerful nugget of truth that jumped off the page as I read it. May it encourage you today and give you HOPE if you are in a place of darkness.

Moses had just returned from the top of the mountain. Face-to-face with God, he received the ten commandments to take back to the people.

The people were trembling with fear. In fact, they stayed as far away from Moses as possible because of the thunder and lightning show at the base of the mountain. And here’s the nugget of truth….

Exodus 20:21 “The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.”

Did you catch the last three words of that verse??? Where. God. Was.

Huh?? You mean, God was IN the darkness? Seriously??

Yes. God was IN the thick darkness.

I don’t know about you, but that gives me hope! Those three words strengthen my soul! Those three words melt away the fearful thoughts of what darkness brings.

Those three words assure me that God is not only with me when my path is full of light, but he’s right there with me when darkness threatens to blind my eyes.

Just like the Israelites, we tremble when the lights start to flicker. We keep our distance from the approaching storm. Like a child afraid of the dark, we beg someone–anyone–to turn on a light.

Have you ever wondered why we’re afraid of the dark?

I think it boils down to this one truth: We can’t see anything!

We honestly believe that if we can’t see something, we can’t depend on it. What you can’t see is untouchable. What you can’t see is unknowable.

But our almighty God breaks down our human thinking with his all-powerful truth.

In him there is no darkness!

(2 Samuel 22:29) “You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.”

(Psalm 112:4) “Even in darkness light dawns for the upright…”

(Isaiah 42:16) “I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.”

Maybe the very reason he can turn our darkness into light is because he’s there…in the midst of the darkness….with us.

Where are you today, dear friend? Are you trembling with fear because of an approaching storm? Are you keeping your distance from the darkness, paralyzed to take another step? Maybe you’re right smack in the middle of a dark valley and you can’t see one single thing.

Although your human eyes may not be able to see the path, his sovereign hands are wrapped tightly around your soul. He won’t leave you. He is with you in the darkness.

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

There’s a Snake in My Boat!

My husband docked our boat at the marina just as he always does. As avid boaters, we have this routine down to a science. While my daughter and I were in the restroom, Jim made final preparations so we could take off quickly upon our return. One of the last things he usually does is retrieve a comfy chair-pad from the storage compartment under the  back seat of the boat.  As he lifted the lid of the storage compartment, he jumped back rather quickly.  His eyes widened in disbelief and fear spread over his entire face. He announced to me with a quick gasp, “There’s a snake in there!”

At this point, even when I heard the word snake, I was envisioning a small snake. The kind of garter snake we sometimes find on our wooded property. Jim suddenly asked for help from three men docking a boat next to ours. Now most men do not usually ask for help for anything they think they can handle on their own. This was suddenly a red flag to me! If he’s asking for help, this must be a big deal. Everything happened so quickly it was a blur. For a second before all this chaos broke out, I thought I’d grab my phone (which was in the boat) and take a quick picture to capture this moment in time. It didn’t happen.

My husband–along with three other strong men–were struggling to corner this snake in the storage compartment of our boat. The snake continued to slither this way and that way, stubbornly refusing to be caught. Before I knew what was happening, Jim had courageously grabbed that snake by its tail and slung it with all his might into the lake. As he pulled it up out of the boat, this snake was completely stretched out in mid-air. It was no small garter snake by any means.

More than likely a rat snake…..about five feet long!

The strong men who’d at first agreed to help Jim, now quickly shrunk back in fear, almost knocking each other into the water. And of course I contributed my part in all this chaos, letting out a blood-curdling scream.

Why are we so afraid of snakes? Why do these unique creatures stop us in our tracks, leaving us feeling paralyzed?

In the beginning before the fall of mankind, it is speculated that the snake was a beautiful creature. After sin entered the world God said to Satan, “Because you have done this, on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life.” (Genesis 3:14)

God continues to give more detail about the future effect of snakes on mankind when he says, “I will cause hostility between you and the woman, between your offspring and her offspring.” (Genesis 3:15)

I couldn’t agree more with those profound words because there was much hostility between the humans on the dock and a pesky snake in our boat last week!!

Moses exhibited fear when God miraculously turned his staff into a snake  “…so he threw it on the ground and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.” (Exodus 4:3) Did you catch that? Even though God was right there with him, Moses still fled from the snake! (This verse should be comforting to those three strong men who shrunk back when Jim yanked the snake out of our boat!)

But there is one last scripture I’d like to focus on when it comes to snakes. This one trumps all the other ones I’ve mentioned so far. Isaiah prophesies about what our lives will be like when Christ reigns in Heaven.

Isaiah 11:8 “The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand in the viper’s nest.”

Cobras and Vipers! Really? Can you imagine? An infant playing near a snake–and not just any snake…..a cobra! The thought of a mother watching her child play with a snake is something I just can’t fathom. Playing with a snake as if it were a kitten or puppy.

But that is something as Christ followers we have to look forward to. In God’s perfect kingdom where every creature is restored as it once was in the Garden of Eden. And best of all, God will live among us–face to face. Powerful truth like this gives me a renewed hope. It confirms my faith. It satisfies my soul.

Take comfort in the fact that God dispels all fears and nothing will be feared in Heaven.

(In the meantime, the Preuett family will continue to check their boat carefully for any signs of snakes!!)

1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out all fear…”

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When You Want to Hide

Psalm 91:4  “He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge.”

Do you ever feel like hiding? You know what I mean, those moments when you feel you just can’t take anymore. Those moments when bad news sends you diving into your bed and you just want to pull the covers over your head. Those moments when fear grips you. Paralyzing you to where you can barely breathe. Those moments when you can’t fathom the circumstances you’re forced to walk through.

The thing with hiding is that where you choose to hide can make all the difference in the world. In today’s scripture, David exhorts us to take cover under the mighty wings of God’s refuge. He uses the imagery of a bird covering her chicks with feathers to convey a powerful picture of how God protects us when we feel the urge to hide.

A few weeks ago, my daughter and I were walking along a river. This river was occupied by multiple ducks! At one point we stopped to observe what would become the highlight of our day.

A momma duck was gliding along the water with five fuzzy ducklings trailing close behind. They came to a jagged rock, just inches above the water. The momma duck waddled up onto the top of the rock, patiently waiting for her babies to follow her. One-by-one, they waddled up onto that rock, running right under their momma’s feathers. These ducklings huddled together and basked in the refuge and provision of their momma. At one point when the momma spread her feathers out, you could barely see her babies underneath. A young girl walking with her parents squealed with delight as they noticed the ducks, “Look! A mother duck! Oh, it looks like her babies are playing hide-and-seek!”

What a perfect picture of how God patiently waits for us to run to Him for cover! Just like the momma duck spread her feathers, God longs to spread His protective wings over us when we need to hide.

He longs to cover us.

To shield us.

To console us.

To renew our weary souls.

But we can’t embrace His blessings and comfort if we aren’t close to Him. To be under His wings indicates we are very close.

Close enough to Him to where we feel his heartbeat.

Close enough to hear His gentle whisper.

Close enough to sense His presence.

In my story with the momma duck, I mentioned there were five ducklings. However, it was only four of them who followed her. One of them never made it up to the top of the rock. It kept looking up at momma and its siblings, yet it continued to anxiously swim around and around in circles. Sometimes it looked as if it would follow the same path momma had, but it aimlessly circled the rock over and over again. We yelled at this wandering duckling to get on the rock! “Come on! Your momma is waiting for you. You can do it!” Yet every time it got to the crevice in the rock that would lead it upward, it kept going its own way. The duckling’s siblings were safe under the protective feathers. Shielded in the shadow of strong wings. Close to the heartbeat of their momma. But this little one was missing out.

Where are you, dear friend? Are you plunging yourself under the protective feathers of your loving Father? Are you hiding in the shadow of His wings during your most needy moments? Are you like those ducklings, safely huddled together enjoying comfort and peace?

Or are you like the wandering duckling? Are you anxiously going in circles going nowhere? Maybe you know  the Father longingly waits for you, yet you keep going your own way.

Dear friend, I understand the urge to hide! I know it all too well. I remember days when I wanted to cover up my head, with no desire to see light again. Days when I hid in other things. Other people. But the times I have run into the arms of my Savior to hide, those are the times I’ve felt the power of His presence and the calm of His peace.

I urge you to find your place of hiding under the wings of God almighty. I challenge you to embrace His presence and His promises. I want to encourage you to simply be still and allow His peace to overcome any fear you may be feeling. Climb up on the rock of your refuge and be safe. Be where He wants you to be….under His wings.

Psalm 91:4  “He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge.”

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Never Say Never!

Deuteronomy 31:6  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

The first time I ran a half marathon, I found myself laughing at a certain point in the race. When runners get to mile marker #9, something drastic happens. Up until this point, everyone is running on the same course, half-marathoners and full-marathoners together. Everyone is mixed in and you don’t know who is running which race. You’d never know just by looking at them. But then at mile marker #9 the course literally is divided. It splits down the middle of an intersection. The half-marathoners turn left and the full-marathoners turn right. This is where I found myself laughing out loud and thinking very clear:

There is no way I’d ever run a full marathon! I could NEVER do that! Heck, I don’t know if I will even make it through the next 4 miles to complete this race! Ha! Those people are crazy! I don’t understand why or how they do it.

Fast forward four years and six half marathons later.  I’d registered for a full marathon after a stirring in my heart. It was time for a new challenge. Before I knew it, there I was! Standing at the start line of my first marathon.

I was approaching mile marker #9, the crucial turning point where the race split. The bright orange warning signs flashed in front of me. A man blasted through a megaphone, “Attention runners! Half-marathoners go left! Marathoners go right! Runners chaotically dashed from one side to the other. Two runners brushed up against me. merging to the left. And then the truth hit me hard: I was now running on the right side of the road…with fewer people. I glanced over my left shoulder, watching the half-marathoners fade out of my sight. Only 4 more miles and they’d cross their finish line. But for me, I had 17 more to go! At first a rush of excitement ignited my mind as I ventured into this new challenge. But when it quickly wore off, that’s when it hit me:

I was attempting something I said I’d NEVER do!

How many times in our lives have we dug our feet in the sand exclaiming,

I will NEVER do that!

I could NEVER walk a path like hers!

I’d NEVER survive a trial like that.

But then later you find yourself walking that forbidden path. The one you said you’d never take a step onto. Maybe God has called you out of your comfort zone and you’re headed into a season of life you never dreamed you’d find yourself. Or maybe there’s an area of your life you’re clinging too tightly to, refusing to let go. Perhaps you’re gripped with grief or fear because of an unexpected trial.

I’ll never be able to lose weight; It’s just too hard.
I will never home school; I don’t have the patience for that. 
I could never leave my hometown; I’ve lived here my whole life.
I could never invite my neighbor to church; I couldn’t handle the rejection.
I could never consider adoption; I’m fine with the family I have.

I could NEVER ___________________?

Fill in the blank. What is it for you?

It’s possible that your “I could never” is a fear lurking in the deepest part of your heart. If that’s the case, surrender your fear to Jesus and refuse to let the enemy rob you of joy. Maybe your “I could never” is something God is nudging you towards, requiring a deeper trust. Whatever it may be, God promises to be with us through it all. In the face of your “I could never”, let me point you to a truth where God uses the word NEVER.  To those who are His followers, He promises to NEVER leave us or forsake us. Instead of focusing on your “never”, embrace the truth of His”never”!

READY? Have you ever done something after you said you’d never do it? What caused you to step out and change your mind? Identify an aspect of your life you’re saying never to right now. Ask God to clarify whether it’s fear speaking or his gentle nudge.

GET SET. Hebrews 13:5  “…be content with what you have because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.”

GO! Heavenly Father, help me to trust you when my flesh says “Never”. When I’m tempted to let fear grip my heart, help me step out in faith and trust you. Help me not to worry about future trials, but to rest in the assurance that you’ll be with me when those times come. Thank you for the promise of never leaving me! Amen.

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett