Sitting in Discomfort

Sitting in comfort in attempts to avoid pain, increases pain; sitting in discomfort with pain, increases peace.

“For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11b-13

In my living room, there is a soft cushy oversized chair. Many mornings are spent sitting in my comfy chair reading the word, drinking coffee, looking out to the view of the forest through the glass doors to our porch. However, if I did that all day or too long, the chair wouldn’t be the only thing to be cushy. Resistance and pressure are needed for building strength.

My husband has some back issues and as a result, he cannot sit in this comfy chair. What is comfortable for me is torture for him. This is true for many people. Have you ever offered a comfortable chair to someone only to have them choose a hard, solid chair because that is actually more comfortable? When someone has pain, the comfy chair isn’t always the answer.

What if the hard chair is the answer?

So often we are looking for the comfy chair when what we need is to sit in the uncomfortable hard chair because that is what is best for our pain.

Sitting in discomfort isn’t comfortable at all, so we, as humans, usually avoid sitting in discomfort at all costs. But what if when it comes to emotional and spiritual issues, the answer lies in sitting in discomfort? What if that great paradox was true—that true comfort from the Comforter was found in discomfort?

The comfy chair for us may look like numbing with alcohol or other addictive substances, Nexflix, extensive scrolling on social media, food, or just checking out emotionally. It could be video games, music, or movies we are using as a way to avoid facing pain or escape. Even positivity or going to “happy places” in our minds or actual locations can be used to avoid pain.

What I am finding out, and the reason for this post, is the more I try to escape from pain, the more pain I feel. Sitting in comfort in attempts to avoid pain, increases pain; sitting in discomfort with pain, increases peace. Anxiety often comes for me from wanting to escape but there isn’t an escape. Now instead of fighting it, I’m embracing it. Embracing the pain, sitting in the discomfort, and inviting the Healer to come around me with the soft arms of His chair as I sit and rest in Him.

There is a paradox here that I cannot explain other than we live in an upside-down Kingdom—the more we give, the more we receive; the more we bless others, we are blessed; and the more we sit in discomfort, the more we discover healing, comfort, and peace.

This paradox occurs because when we aren’t trying to escape from the pain or numb, we are going to the Source for healing. Our salvation and healing are not in a TV show, a sleeve of chocolate chip cookies, or a cocktail at happy hour. There is only One Savior and One Healer and He isn’t found in fantasyland—He is in the hard places, when our fight, flight, or freeze kicks in, and instead of looking to escape or run, we sit, we feel, and we seek our Healer.

As I think of the Apostle Paul, I cannot help but think of all the times he sat in discomfort.

Beaten, stoned, shipwrecked. Sitting in a prison cell (not the cushy type we think of today, one where he was most likely sitting in sewage and filth). He “sat” in the deep literally for a night and a day. In perils of many kinds, sleeplessness, hungry, cold, naked, plus the concerns for all the churches (II Corinthians 11:25). All of that shouts uncomfortable. He knew what it was to sit in discomfort. That is why he could write with full confidence:

“For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11b-13

Lord, I hope I don’t have to be in the deep for a day and a night or be stoned and beaten in order to learn the things Paul learned. But what he learned through adversity is what enabled him to be able to sit in prison stocks with Silas and sing praises with peace instead of panicking. Sitting in discomfort will also transform the way we respond to pain from a place of panic to peace.

Sitting in discomfort is where Paul found His Source of strength—Christ. Similarly, as we are still and sit in discomfort, we will find our strength, healing, freedom, and peace. I know it sounds upside down, but it is in the hard chair where we find healing and peace from the only true Source of comfort.

Father, thank you for how you comfort us. Thank you Lord that when we sit with you in our pain that we actually find the peace that we have been searching for all along. Lord, we invite you to sit with us in the hard chairs, the hard places, and we ask for you to heal and strengthen our hearts. Only You can heal our broken hearts. And may we learn as Paul did to be content in all things knowing we can do all things through Christ who has strengthened us. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray, amen.

Today’s post was written by Sue Molitor. Sue is on staff with the ministry of Deeper Still in International Relations. She lives in beautiful East Tennessee and loves spending time with her husband and 3 kids. She enjoys reading, coffee with friends, and taking long walks. She has been writing for the Deeper Still Devotions for 7 years and loves to encourage others and cheer them on towards finding freedom and healing.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you. 

 

 

Will I see God?

 

Our stained and ragged garments are exchanged for crisp,white linens; fresh, pure coverings. Accepting Jesus’s sacrifice is the first step. step in gaining our sight. (1)

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

Silly stories and word games are all part of the bedtime routine in our house. Bedtime has proven to be the best time to talk with my kids; they let their guards down and don’t mind allowing me a few free moments of goofiness before the lights go out each night. My 8 year old son loves to play the game “Would You Rather”. You know…the game where you are presented with two different options and you must choose one. You can’t say “pass” or “none”; you must make a choice. He usually offers up scenarios like “Would you rather eat earthworm salad or eyeball spaghetti?”; or one of my personal favorites “Would you rather eat frog skin soup or a gym sock sandwich?”

From time to time, we get to have more contemplative conversations: “Mom, what does heaven look like?”; “Would you rather meet Jesus or Michael Jordan?”; “Do you think God looks like an old man?” I love the places that his imagination will take him as he pictures his heavenly Father reclined in an eternal home. We get to talk about how Jesus is not on the same level as Michael and how our brains can’t begin to imagine the majesty and beauty of heaven. Maybe God does look like Gandalf, but maybe he doesn’t look like a man at all.

These moments bring Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount to mind as he shares the Beatitudes with eager listeners. In Matthew 5:8 Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”. As I recall this sermon, my heart is filled to exploding as I promise my son that someday the pictures of God held tight in our imaginations will fade as we see him face to face. In that moment our knees won’t be able to hold our weight and our eyes will be overwhelmed with light. We will be enveloped in the light and God’s glory will surround, leaving us breathless and speechless. Just as I become sure, I quickly question myself, “Can I make my son this promise with certainty?” The scripture says the “pure in heart” will see God.

Pure? That word sounds shiny and clean and I’ve never considered myself to be either of those things. As a matter of fact, I’d feel more comfortable using words like “imperfect” and “messy” to describe my life. Pure sounds too holy. Too “church-y”.

I have two very vivid memories where I begged God to show me His face. If He did exist like everyone said He did, I demanded that He show up. I was hurting and searching for a God that everyone promised was present, but I doubted was ever really there for me. I hadn’t accepted and believed with my heart that God could save me; I didn’t know or understand God’s word to be alive and active; and I never confessed anything to anyone- my sins and deepest secrets were mine to swallow.

We are promised to see the face of God in our acceptance of Jesus’s sacrifice for us. His blood cleanses our hearts and makes them pure and presentable in the presence of a good and sovereign God. Jesus’s death not only allows us to live eternally in Heaven, but allows us to experience Him on this earth. With the Holy Spirit’s power given to us, we can see Jesus and once we’ve seen Jesus, we’ve seen God. Our hearts are the central most part of our being; responsible for emotion, will, and reason. When our hearts are purified through faith in our acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are set free to see. Our stained and ragged garments are exchanged for crisp, white linens; fresh, pure coverings. Accepting Jesus’s sacrifice is the first step in gaining our sight.

God’s word and daily confession both lead our hearts to purity. You don’t have to be a bible scholar to start reading scripture- it’s alive and active, cutting to the deepest joints and marrow, judging our thoughts and attitudes. Confessing what we believe to be the worst parts of ourselves to God and to each other will bring healing and a clean conscience. We were never meant to bear the burdens of our sin alone; confession and God’s word make our hearts pure and fertile for turning over and tilling in seeds of truth, love, and faith.

I couldn’t have expected to see God’s face all those years ago in the condition I was in. My heart was in opposition to God, wasn’t pure; it was hard, angry, and unwilling to believe. However, it wasn’t too late for me and it isn’t too late for you. With the acceptance of Jesus, your heart is made pure through Him, and the payment He made for you on the cross. His desire is for us to come to Him and see Him, face to face. 

Uncover the parts of your heart you are closing off- God is greater than our hearts and He knows everything.  Step out of hiding. He’s never been hidden but has been waiting for you to decide you’re ready to stand in freedom and sing “I was blind, but now I see”!

Heavenly Father, if there is just one person reading this that needs to accept Jesus into their hearts, I ask that you move in a mighty way in their lives. Show them that Jesus is the Healer, the Redeemer, and the Restorer of all that seems broken. Father, help us commit to being in your Word, confessing our sins and shortcomings, and living with pure hearts. You promise us new lives and new identities in Jesus Christ; we want newness, freshness, and fullness of life found only in You. We love you and thank you for your mercy and grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today’s post was written by Ashley Gregory, who is a contributor to the Deeper Still Devotional Blog. Ashley lives in Mt. Sterling, Illinois and is married to Mark. They have 3 children and she serves on the Central Illinois Deeper Still team.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you. 

 

A Coin Lost, Then Found

Luke 15.8,10(2) (1)

 

Today’s post was written by a Deeper Still Team Member on the Central Illinois Deeper Still Team.

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10

A coin has value. Maybe only a little bit by itself, but when paired with others, they can make a bountiful treasure.  When it starts out, a coin shines. Polished and without blemish. But as it’s passed around, spent, tucked away, forgotten, found, reused, left in the yard, spent again…the wear begins to show. The edges get worn. The shininess fades. The image blurred. The people, who pass that coin around, think nothing of it. Just a means to get whatever it is that they need.

But what happens to a lost coin?

Contrary to most, I have an uncanny ability to find my way around. I’ll study a location on the map, find where I need to be, and memorize the way. If it’s a difficult route, I’ll use my GPS on the first trip. But, if I’ve been somewhere, even only once, I will never forget how I got there. Like my first trip to Italy. I memorized all the tourist maps, studied the streets and took so many photos. My second trip, I didn’t need a map or to plot routes. I knew exactly where I was, and where I wanted to be. 

Even though I have this innate resourcefulness, which I’ll admit, my husband does not, I know what it’s like to be lost.

I spent 22 years of my life lost, and I didn’t even know it. Growing up in a small town was a blessing.  I knew everyone and they all knew me. They knew me by my father. My last name was a name that has toiled in that little town for generations. “Oh you’re Keith’s girl,” I would hear all the time. My father is a good man. Hard worker. Like his father before him. Pride is attached to that name. So I never had a sense of not belonging. I never felt lost. I always knew where home was. And when I needed home it was always there.

Until one day, when a series of very bad decisions landed me in a hospital bed. I heard a whisper from a father to his child. “Are you done yet?” Only this wasn’t coming from the hall or the room next to me, the whisper was to me.  This question was not one of condemnation for why I was there, but a question of love and concern. Awkwardly I said out loud, “yes.” This father reached down to his child, plucked out her heart of stone, and gave her a heart of flesh. And in that moment, I knew I had lived my whole life as a lost coin. And my father had just found me.

The new heart beating in my chest, made it obviously clear, what a worn coin I was. But this new clarity was not accompanied by fear. I knew now I was a worn lost coin, but that I made it back to the one who made me. That he scooped me up, put me in his pocket, took me home, and placed me gently into a box with all the other precious coins he’s found. And once in that box, I knew what it was like to truly be known.

Fellow coin. In this time of uncertainty and fear for many, know your worth. Know that when you were plucked up, in whatever state you were in, and brushed off by our Father in Heaven, the angels rejoiced with Him as he placed you safely in his arms. He is always with us, and never forsakes us. You are like the child known by all in a small town because of her father. You are loved, and cherished. And even though you were lost, you were found and restored to the one who made you. Walk in that certainty. Walk these troubling waters with that assurance. That the God, who made the heavens and the earth, has you found you and set you apart, for the day when he will restore ALL things to himself.

Father, thank you for your unfailing mercies. For seeking us out, and finding us wherever we were. Thank you for continuing to be with us, and never leaving us. As we walk these days and weeks of uncertainty, guard us and gird us with your truth. The truth that you are in control of all things. And that we are your treasured ones.

 

 

Healing the Mother Wound

Healing the Mother Wound (1) (1)

1 Peter 2:4 (NLT)
He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.

We all have wounds. For me it was a mother’s wound, one that cut very deep. In hopes of filling the Mom-shaped void, I looked for love and validation in places I had no business exploring. I had no idea that the same void I was desperately trying to fill could only be satisfied by Jesus Christ himself. I had no idea that the same grace I had been searching for my whole life, was the exact same my own mother needed.

One particular occasion came to mind when I began to see my own mother in a different light. When the Lord revealed that while she was wounded, her God-given mothering heart was still trying to function …

It was a dark and chilly January evening, somewhere in the early 2000’s. I found myself coming home from hanging out with my childhood friend. I remember walking through the front door, and wondering if any of my family really cared it was still my birthday. The front entryway was dark, with only a distant light from the connected kitchen and family room nearby. The conversational sounds from my siblings and Dad filled the air with a familiar and typical evening. I walked into the kitchen and found her on the floor, again, those same dull dark brown eyes looking up, staring deep into mine, almost as if to say “I’m sorry I hurt you again”. Her movement slow and uncoordinated, she tried to lift herself up, with little success. I watched as she fumbled around the appliances and tried to lift her heavy body onto her feet. She eventually did. She slurred her words as she pointed slowly, with what could be construed as a faint smile, to the debris of cake batter and frosting. In both my favorite color and flavor. Pink and Strawberry. She remembered my birthday.

Growing up, I can’t remember a long period of time where my mother was sober. I was born into what felt like insecurity and chaos. I didn’t know any better. My normal looked like a lot of good mixed with a whole lot of scary. As a child, I never understood why she would choose drugs over her own family. I couldn’t understand why we weren’t enough for her, why I wasn’t enough for her? That question would haunt me for many years as I began to create my own wounds I never thought would heal.

But the fascinating part about wounds is: if you take care of them, eventually they will heal. They may even turn into scars if they’re deep enough. But scars can be some of the most powerful reminders of lessons we have learned in life.

The most powerful scars of all are displayed on the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, what a beautiful thought. Reminders that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)! The pain, suffering, and death that brought scars to our Lord are now eternal reminders of how much He loves us; of our eternal hope if we put our trust in Him.

When I stopped running away from Him and truly surrendered my life to Jesus Christ, He valiantly rescued me and set me free from all of my harbored guilt, shame, and fear of abandonment. He took me by the hand and walked me out of a serious pit of deception and misery. He took my open mother wound, sealed it with his blood, and made a beautiful scar. This scar no longer reminds me of what I lack, it reminds me of hope in a broken world. It reminds me that once I was lost, but now I am FOUND.

When Jesus heals, I believe He also reveals. What He revealed to me was a woman hurting. A woman damaged from her own wounds. A woman needing forgiveness, hope, and healing.

He showed me my own mother. A mother who, despite her own wounds and shortcomings, remembered her daughter’s birthday and wanted to make her feel special.

There isn’t a soul on earth too broken to receive Christ’s mercy and grace; Or a wound too deep to feel the healing power of the Holy Spirit.

He is waiting for you to call on Him to be your Lord and Savior; Our God, “who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:4

If you would, please pray with me as I ask our loving Father to heal and bind up our wounds in Jesus’ name!

My Dearest Heavenly Father,
Thank you for Your saving grace and that through Your son, Jesus Christ, we may come BOLDLY to YOU! Lord, there are wounds so deep, especially this time of year during Mother’s Day. I pray that You would restore these precious hearts and let them know their true worth and purpose is found in the comfort and love of Jesus Christ. I pray we would all seek our validation and worth in who You say we are, and not who the world says we should be. I pray for a peace that would surpass ALL understanding this year on Mother’s Day and that we would all feel a hug from our Heavenly Father. Please teach us how to love, and how to Mother the way you designed us. It’s in your precious name I pray, Amen.

Today’s post was written by Traci Young, who is a contributor for the Deeper Still Devotional Blog. Traci calls Broomfield, Colorado home, and loves spending quality time with her husband, baby girl, and two red doodles.  She left the workforce to become a stay at home mom and sees it as her mission field! Traci serves on the Fallbrook, CA Deeper Still team.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you. 

Trusting, Lamenting, Standing

 

Weeping may ednre for a night, But joy comes in the morning.

Greetings Deeper Still Devotional Readers,

After a little more than a month into our “new normal” of quarantine and how that has impacted all of us as a nation and around the world, we have experienced these new practices from “conceptual” to “real” in many ways. At first we were in “all hands on deck” mode to do our part to crush this “invisible enemy” (as our President calls it). But as time goes on we recognize more and more the deep losses we are experiencing as a nation, as a church community, and for some as a family.

As Jesus’ Bride, (until He comes to get us) our mission necessitates that we will be “in” the world even though we stand firm to not be “of” the world. We are not super-human but we are empowered by the super Holy Spirit that keeps us steady and trusting even while we are watching, waiting, lamenting. Trusting the Lord and His ways (that are always higher) is not in opposition to lamenting our losses. As believers we have capacity to negotiate both of these realities with the grace He gives. Let’s not underestimate the powerful witness this is to unbelievers. These are the times that our internal peace shines like a beacon in the fog.

Collectively, as a ministry, we have had to lay down our Spring Retreats, and other events. Some have had to lay down fundraising events and invent creative ways to raise the needed funds for ministry.  On the other end, there is a loss for the participants who were going to attend retreats and finally find some healing and relief to years of pain and desperation. We are able and encouraged to grieve losses. This is both necessary and healthy. We can view it as both a Godly lament, as well as a Godly sacrifice on the altar. We have sadness but we also carry the long-view of His promises for redemption, restoration, and restitution. Lord, give us Kingdom eyes to see your majesty in the midst of adversity.

I have a few scriptures that I want to share with you to encourage our hearts in this season.

Come my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. Isaiah 26:20

 And while staying with them He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father,… Acts 1:4

 Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 Timothy2:1

 Just as it is written, eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. 1 Cor.2:9.

 But if he is caught (the thief), he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house. Prov. 6:31

Let’s pray for our retreat participants that they will not lose heart. If they persevere through this season of tarrying they will receive even more than they would have before this “crisis”. For the thief has to return seven-fold what he stole. We will give Him all the glory and praise in the seen and unseen. Amen?!

We realize our losses pale in comparison to those who have tragically lost loved ones during this time, and our hearts and prayers go out to those families grieving and lamenting during this time.

Blessings, prayers and peace to all of you. We love you and are locking arms with you.

Father, we thank you for sustaining us, providing for us, and sheltering us during this time of trusting, lamenting, and standing with you. Lord, give us strength to endure and fill our hearts with joy and hope in You, our Everything. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Until All Are Healed,

Karen Ellison, Founder and President of Deeper Still

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you.

 

 

 

Casting our Cares and Trusting Jesus

“Casting all your care on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5_7

“Humble yourself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares for you.”          1 Peter 5:6b–7 

To cast means: Throw forcefully in a specified direction. 

I am originally from Louisiana, the state known as Sportsman’s Paradise. In Louisiana, casting a fishing line from a bayou under the Cedar trees with gorgeous moss canopying overhead, surrounded by numerous stumps in the water among the fallen trees and limbs can be quite tricky. In a bayou there are countless majestic Cedar trees close to each other in certain areas, which is where the fish like to hang out.  

When I cast my line, things can go south in a bad way fast. The hook in flight can become stuck in a tree or find itself tangled in whatever may be under the water out of view. However, no fish can be caught without casting the line. When it is cast, there is a pause of trusting the line to go where it is sent. There is a chance that the line will catch the moss of the trees or be swallowed in the marshy water below.  The outcome of the cast is unknown, the line must be cast in order to fish. 

Jesus tells us to cast our cares on Him.  Like when fishing, it may be difficult to freely cast our lines to Jesus. A part of us wants to hold onto the line because there is a risk to casting. Placing our trust in someone else and letting go of that concern can seem dangerously irresponsible.  For me, this is all too familiar.  There have been some tall trees I have had to chop down before trusting that casting is safe.  In fact, I am going through something now that requires me to cast and trust. Jesus is saying, “Do you trust Me?”

When I was younger things happened to me that were beyond my control. Needless to say as an adult, because of those things, I lacked the trust I needed in order to function. It also caused me to believe that I couldn’t rely on anyone but myself. 

The thought of casting my cares, concerns, worries, and anxieties onto someone else, wasn’t reality to me. The fact that I was to take those cares off my shoulders, then put them onto someone else’s, leaving them there and no longer be concerned, well, I couldn’t begin to grasp that concept. 

Then there is trusting someone to care enough to help without a motive. Someone that loves with a love we can’t begin to comprehend. One that has our best interest at heart. Someone that is working all things for our good. We all know how hard it can be to trust others if your soul has been wounded.

 In John 14:27b, Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” 

Matthew 6:25–31, tells us, “do not be worried about your life, what we should eat, drink or wear.” The tense of the Greek text is properly translated, “Stop worrying.” Verse 31 starts, “Therefore do not be anxious.” This tense is different, however, and means, “Don’t start worrying.” So, Jesus is basically saying, If you are worrying, quit; if you haven’t started, don’t. He is giving us a command, not a suggestion. He knows what worrying can do to us. It can truly make us ill. Steal our joy. Rob us of a close relationship with Jesus, because of the doubt that creeps in with worrying. 

As we grow in the Lord, we need to take Him at His word. We need to trust that He can handle our lives. We can cast our cares, because He loves us so much, that He will take care of what concerns us. We just need to seek Him and His Kingdom first, His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

God can be trusted. Numbers 23:19 states, “God is not a man, that He might lie, or a son of man, that He might change His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?” Of course not. His promises are yes and amen. We can put a hook in that and pull it in!  We can trust Him with everything that weighs heavy on our heart. We must trust Him!! 

This is a lesson I am learning. I am so grateful that Jesus is helping me through this lesson. My shoulders aren’t as heavy as they once were or as sore from holding onto the line. I’m casting it to Him. 

Lord Jesus, help us in our weakness when we struggle in the area of casting our cares and trusting You with them. Give us the strength, courage and faith to walk in obedience, that we may do what Your Word tells us, which is to cast our cares onto You. We are trusting that you will take care of our concerns and that we are not to worry, but to bring it all to You and lay it at Your feet. We long to trust and obey. Thank you Jesus for loving us. Amen!

Today’s post was written by Randi Stanton, who is a contributor for the Deeper Still Devotional Blog. Randi lives in Maumelle, Arkansas, and is married to Tom. She has two children, three stepchildren, and two gorgeous grandchildren. She also enjoys hiking in the mountains, playing with her dogs, reading and studying God’s Word. Randi serves on the Arkansas Deeper Still team. 

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you. 

Finding Rest in the Why

Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.

“Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. Matthew 11:28-30

WHY…

This one word “Why?” can turn our searching hearts and minds in circles. As we dig for answers amid loss and heartache, any answer that can be squeezed from this one-word query gives hope. With answers, everything will be set right. The searching can stop, and the circling will end. Finally, we can believe…rest, then wholeness and closure can begin.

But what about the times when there are no answers to bring closure? What if, with every new answer, comes another batch of questions? Where do we go for rest when the demands and responses become too much for our souls to bear? When what we had hoped would bring relief, instead offered up a double portion of disappointment and heartache?

Built into each of us is the very human desire to understand every detail leading up to the moment everything unraveled. Knowledge equals power and so we press on in the name of “closure”.  And we trade the power given us from on High for a false feeling of power seeking to know.

In our humanness, control is what answers offer. If we aren’t in control, we can only deduce that someone else is. And in moments of deep pain and hurt, someone else having the keys to our relief can feel risky.  Loss and particularly a loss of control, makes us want to know why…we demand to know. Suddenly, we give up on all things that don’t point us to an answer. Because without an answer to the ongoing question of why, how can we ever rest?

Friends, it is in these moments of searching where our trust is most tested. Even when we don’t know why, God does. He sees everything. Nothing goes unnoticed, no pain ever wasted. He knows the details of each situation: every accident and loss; each missed cycle and monthly excitement; every sickness and exactly what it would take to cure. He sees into the window of the desires of our heart and feels the pain when they shatter. He knows all, He sees all.

And He knows the answer to the depths of our questions. Through God, we have access to The Answer- Jesus.

Jesus– comforter to our souls.

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus provides us with an alternative to the demands we are making in times where there are no answers. Instead, He says that if we come to Him, He will take our questions, our worries, our hurt; He will carry the whys with little effort, bearing all the weight on His mighty shoulders under everything that threatens to crush us.

God provides Jesus to carry the burden and His Spirit to interpret for us when we have no words. We don’t have to know what to ask, or exactly how to ask for it; the Holy Spirit translates our muffled cries and grief-stricken sobs into phrases our Heavenly Father can understand. Paul reminds us of this in Romans 8:26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans”. The words and answers have been provided to us in the name of Jesus.

Jesus is our Why. He is our Who. And in Him, true rest can be found even when nothing else makes sense. Take heart! For he has overcome!

Father, help us to trust you with every moment of our lives, but especially in times when nothing makes sense. Help us to look to you for truth, freedom, and hope in our suffering and loss. You have offered us Jesus, who is familiar with our pain; a Savior who knows our loss and heartache. Father, I ask you for your peace as we move through painful places into rest that can only be found in your Son. Amen.

Today’s post was written by Ashley Gregory, who is a contributor to the Deeper Still Devotional Blog. Ashley lives in Mt. Sterling, Illinois and is married to Mark. They have 3 children and she serves on the Central Illinois Deeper Still team.

Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you. 

 

Strength that Comes through Surrender

surrender

“And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying,’Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him.” Luke 22:41-43

I find myself often praying for strength. It might be my age and stage in life, but I seem to be more keenly aware of my lack of “internal supply” to do what the Father has asked me to do. Throughout the Bible you will find a myriad of scriptures about our need to receive the strength that only God can supply. One of the most often quoted passages is:

Isaiah 40:29-31 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

This week is Holy Week and I’ve asked the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to see nuances in the Word that I may have passed over before. No sooner did I pray this prayer and He opened my eyes to a profound truth. In Luke 22 we read about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He is about to face the most horrific week of His earthly life. It was, in fact, the culminating week for why He came to earth. I imagine that by this time Jesus was beginning to experience the stifling weight of all the sin of humanity. We will never be able to comprehend the immensity of this hour when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, let alone the week ahead.

The first part of Jesus’ prayer we can all relate to “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me”. We all want a rescue from our imminent pain and suffering. I love that we get a picture into Jesus’s humanity here. This is truly our high priest that is acquainted with our sufferings. But in the next phrase we see the profound surrender as Jesus yields to the Father’s will. “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done”. At this point, we all breath a collective sigh of relief; assured that Jesus really did surrender to become our sacrificial lamb.

But for me this time, it was the next verse that jumped off the page. “And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him. If there was ever a time that Jesus needed to be strengthened for the week ahead it was right, then and there. But the revelation we don’t want to overlook is that immediately after Jesus declared His surrender to the Father’s will, the heavens opened up and an angel rushed in to strengthen Him.

There is something so pure and profound about our surrender to the Father’s will and His immediate response to supply us with the strength we need for the road ahead. Maybe you are facing some big challenges and part of you is crying out “Father, please remove this cup from me”. If you stop there you will not receive the abundant supply of strength you’re going to need. But if you are intentional about those words of surrender…”Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done”. Then look out because an angel is about to show up and heaven’s strength is about to be poured into your frail, weak self. Hallelujah!

I’m facing some daunting hurdles myself right now. So, my new approach for these next days, weeks, and months is to first pray “Father, not my will but yours be done”. Then I’m going to open my eyes and look for that angel. Let’s all do this together, then we will have new testimonies to share of His great faithfulness and strength.

Dear Father, help me not to fear Your will, but to trust You that in my surrender You will supply all the strength I need to accomplish your purposes and to build my faith in You. Amen!

True Identity

Blue Photo World No Tobacco Day Social Media Graphic

“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32

Everyone is being touched by the world crisis of COVID-19. Not one person is left unaffected by this pandemic, either in the form of physically having the virus, knowing someone who has it, losing a job, or being wrapped in disappointment and loss due to the virus.

Identity strings are being clipped leaving some feeling like a balloon floating up and up in the air without purpose or direction. Depending on perspective, this new ambivalence could feel uneasy or possibly freeing. Perhaps this is a time when the Lord wants to realign and tie new strings, anchored in truth.  

A common exhortation our pastor shares is “Know. Be. Do”

First, KNOW.

KNOW the Truth.

Jesus’ Words are, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)  I added capitalization of T’s to the word truth because Truth is a Person. Jesus.

When Jesus was standing before Pontius Pilate, he asked Jesus a question, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) Pilate didn’t realize the Truth was standing right in front of him.

Jesus is the Word made flesh. Abiding in His word is to abide in Him, the Truth Himself.

There are small “t” truths and big “T” Truths, which is a post for another time, but basically small “t” is circumstantial. Big “T” is the Truth of Jesus. Big “T” trumps little “t” every time.

First we must KNOW the Truth—Jesus.

Then we can BE. It is only by knowing the Truth and believing the Truth of who we are in Jesus Christ that our spirits can settle and BE.

This is where many believers are finding themselves at this moment. I am no longer a teacher, a business owner, a salesperson, a waitress, a pastor, etc. You can fill in the blank, almost anything fits. Who am I if I am none of those things? Jesus is saying,

“Just BE. You are My son. You are My daughter. My BEloved.”

This time is a gift. A gift of discovering the Truth of who we are, of our original destiny, purpose and the reason we were created—to be His. He loves us just for BE-ing His. Our love, worth, and value isn’t based on performance or what we do or don’t do. It is found in Him—Christ alone.

Then, when we KNOW the Truth, are able to rest in BE-ing a son/daughter, then our DO will come from the correct place. No longer will our “DO” come from a place to earn love, acceptance, approval, value, or worth, but rather from the place where we KNOW we are already loved, accepted, are approved of, and have worth, not because of who we are and what we do, but because of what He did.

My friends, we have been given a gift—the gift of a reset. Resetting our “Know. Be. Do” back into proper alignment.  Praying we rest in who we are in Him today.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that we are Yours. Thank you for sending Jesus to die to be our Savior. Thank you for the gift of Truth and that we can know the Truth and rest in being free to be Your sons or daughters. Reset and realign our hearts with Yours so that all we do in unto You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen

If you have had an abortion and you find yourself struggling with approval addiction or performance, we encourage you to go to the Deeper Still ministry website to find resources and information about our retreats that are free of charge. The Lord is calling us all to a deeper place. Amen.

 

 

 

Shelter in Place

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91_1

 

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High 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.’” Psalm 91:1-2

Many states have issued a “Shelter in Place” act in response to the pandemic crisis of COVID-19.  Until recently, many may have not even heard the term “Shelter in Place” or even understood what it meant. When looking up the term online, Wikipedia defines it as “to seek safety within the building one already occupies, rather than seek a community shelter.”

“The building one already occupies.” As believers, the Holy Spirit occupies us and God says that we occupy, or abide (dwell) in Christ.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15: 5

“If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.” 1 John 2:24

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” 1 John 4:15

This Truth is comforting. Not only does Christ dwell in us but we are in Him.

Psalm 19:1 says, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High…”.  Our shelter in place, our place of abiding or occupying, is His shelter, it is IN HIM.  What a comforting thought. What a beautiful and peaceful truth.

Praying we all look at “Shelter in Place” a little different today with this truth, that He is our Shelter, our Shield, our Refuge, and our Strength. We have a Shelter in Place and His name is Jesus.

Father, thank you for giving us the provision to abide in You, that not only does the Holy Spirit occupy us but that we also occupy or dwell in You. Thank You for this truth and comfort. Thank You for being our Shelter. We rest and trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.