I know the feeling. You tell God you want to be with him, but your mind goes left and right as you read the bible. You get in the car and start to pray on your commute only to get caught up in worry about that one thing or another. You try to pay attention in church only to get distracted by the lady’s shoes and matching handbag. You don’t hear a word that is said. You sing. Empty words.
You lose God.
Where did he go? Why is He far?
But IS God far?
“The LORD is near to all who call on him.” Ps. 145:18
God isn’t far. We are.
We are far from our first love. It hurts to admit it. We are distanced by our own days and ways. It is usually hard to see. We are far because some person, problem or predicament swallowed us whole and we are so caught up in it, we can’t peer over its immensity.
God isn’t far. We are.
This may hurt to admit today. How are you far? Are you far because you feel hurt? Are you far because you feel unloved? Are you far because life is hard? Because problems mount? Because you feel let down? What is it?
Refreshment and relationship waits for you. There is a simple how-to or must-do that God always answers. One way to bring connection that diminishes isolation. Here it is:
“Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah.” Acts 3:19-20
Repentance = refreshment. God’s presence comes. You get sent out full of the Lord. This is not a one-time thing, but an all the time thing. All the way up to the day the Lord returns. And you find yourself at home with the Creator.
I get your emails. I know a large majority of you have impossible situations.
Many times, I can’t read your words without reaching my hand up to my heart or crunching up my face in sadness. You all have some heartbreaking stuff going on in your life. I do wish I could fix it. I wish I could reach right in and just tidy up what is terribly wrong.
God hasn’t given me this ability. He hasn’t given it to you either.
But what he has given us is remembrance. He’s given us remembrance of faithfulness. Can you remember it?
Can you think of another horribly desperate and difficult time? A time when you believed there was no way, yet God made a way? Let it come to you. If you can’t remember, sit with this for a minute.
“Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me.” Is. 46:9
Your God, who no man is like, who transcends this earth, who has all resources in his hands, who is the specialist of the impossible, who made a way through the Red Sea, who broke the power of death, who would climb any mountain to find you, who died to save you. . . is God. Your God, who sees your tears, who bottles them up, who knows your every thought, who sees your every move, who sympathizes with your every weakness, who will one day wipe away your tears, is your God.
Your God is unlike any other. He does things unlike any human. He fixes (remember: David, Jonah, Job) unlike any way we could come up with.
He will arrive. He always shows up. His love never fails. His faithfulness endures forever.
He is not a God who lets daughters down. Hold firm in faith. God is moving in the places you cannot see.
As my husband put it, “Kelly, you need a day of relaxation.”
I tended to agree. Recently, stress sat on my shoulders. Grievances were monumental annoyances. My mind was having an affair with worry. To-dos were growing longer. Much was adding up to – too much.
With this, I knew: God was calling me elsewhere – to something greater. So, I went.
I drove to a local park to take the day off and to walk. I was confident I’d found relief right after the 30-minute drive of grueling, never-ending traffic. Except it wasn’t.
As I pulled up to the address shown on Google, the gates were slammed shut. Closed for business. No entry. Bye-bye day of relaxation.
No-go, Kelly. No-go to where God called you.
More irritation climbed my back.
Have you ever gone where you believed God wanted you to go, only to find it a no-go? Only to have the gate shut? Only to feel lost?
Frustrated, but determined not to give up, I circled the mile-long block a couple times, wondering if there was another entrance. There wasn’t. I returned to the gate with the word “STOP” on it, trying to inch forward and back to see if it would open. It wouldn’t. I called a number to find out if it really was closed. It was.
“God, why did you take me here? To drop me? To leave me?”
“Kelly, I never dropped you or left you.”
I looked down on my lap, and I could see that along the drive to this location, God had been speaking all kinds of blessings to me. Words of encouragement, thoughts of learning, discoveries about my day. He had been with me all the time.
He invited me to a drive of delighting in him. Not to a destination I demanded of him.
He never left me.
He never dropped me.
He never lost me.
Often, we declare we’re lost when God knows we’re in the process of being found. We see our way as long and burdensome, but I believe God thinks, “I’m doing something amazing along this way. I am transforming this woman, my way.”
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor. 4:17)
Perhaps today, you don’t lament where you are, but you grab on to it and see what God has for you.
Friends, as a heads up, Jami Amerine’s book, Stolen Jesus is now available. Don’t miss it.
I am God’s daughter. I am the daughter of a good, good father.
What does this mean?
To my heart it means:
God inclines his eyes to watch me.
He enjoys me.
He is glad he made me.
He wants me.
He delights in giving to me.
He will always help me.
He opens up his inheritance to me, gladly.
He sees me as a reflection of him.
He cheers me on as I go the right way.
He seeks to grow me, so I can thrive.
He wants me to know I am safe with him.
He believes in me.
He thought of me before creating me and liked his workmanship.
He considered my abilities, strengths, character, and frame.
He speaks over me that I am good.
He wants to be near me.
He loves it when I spend time with him.
He delights over me with singing.
He declares I am altogether beautiful, flaws and all.
He gives grace in good measure, without casting down shame.
He hands out wisdom and understanding with good pleasure.
He blesses me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms.
He freely gives the best of himself to me.
He encourages me to unite in heart-centered relationships with other women.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. . .” (Eph. 1:3-6)
What number from above do you need to let soak in? What truth seems a little distant from you? What do you have a hard time believing?
Ask your good Father to comfort you in that way and make known that exact nature of his good, good character. He will.
And this makes all the difference. When a daughter knows she has a good father, she finally finds peace.
A couple weeks ago we left our house to prepare for Hurricane Irma. There were so many moving parts. We had no idea when school would resume. My husband needed to take a business trip. The storm had no real direction, and we had people telling us to leave and which houses we could live at. A million decisions were thrown up in the air, with a storm barreling towards us.
And so many worries…would our car be okay? Would our place get flooded? Would our life ever return to normal? Would power take months to go back on? Would schools ever start up again? How could I get my manuscript done for the next week with a hard deadline on my shoulders?
Add to the ride screaming kids, a phone that was blowing up with texts, bad news after bad news and it all could add up to: too much.
My husband looked at me and said, “Kelly, we need to take things one day at a time.”
These words released me from the burden of knowing it all. They spoke to me: Kelly, it is okay to be where you are today. Just stick here, in today. . .you can figure out the rest later.
Inhale. Exhale. God has this.
Where do you need to “take things one day at a time?” How might keeping your thoughts in today prevent you from rushing into quick, sandy thoughts of tomorrow? Thoughts that want to sink you emotionally?
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Mt. 6:34
What we have here, in this moment, is what God works with. It is what he impacts, as we trust him. It is what we feel peace with, as we address it. It is what calms us, as we know we did our part. It is what sets us free from overwhelming and heartbreaking worry.
Let it go. You have full permission, today, to take things one day at a time.
The stale air of the subway felt like her closest companion. She was surrounded by people yet no one seemed to notice her. Some passengers looked straight ahead, others seemed to look through her, and most were on their phone. A few, very few, were engaged in conversation.
I’m hungry. She cried out.
And the passengers were unaware…or unmoved.
I’m hungry! She called out again.
I heard the cry. Not just from the mouth of this fellow passenger, but deep within my soul.
I have known hunger too: soul hunger.
And I wonder how many of us join in this refrain? I’m hungry. I’m hungry!
On the days when there’s nothing left in the cupboard. For the times when the house (or inbox) is devoid of life. In the aftermath of unexpected storms that barrel through. There is one who hears, who sees, who understands. One who has experienced loneliness (and hunger) in ways we can’t even imagine.
He answers our cries with Himself: the Bread of Heaven broken for us.
He doesn’t look through us, He lives in us. He invites us to feast as He provides soul manna that never runs out. He never runs out on us. Jesus. Not a trite answer but THEE answer for our deep soul ache.
Tried and true, tested and proven, His Love saturates lonely, aching places.
Here for us; always. When others ignore, when they overlook, or when they inadvertently hurry by…He remains.
Here are 7 verses to feast on when you’re feeling lonely:
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35).
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me (Revelation 3:20).
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand (Isaiah 41:10, NLT).
Where can I go from your Spirit?Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there;if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn,if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me,your right hand will hold me fast (Psalm 139: 7-10).
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20, NLT).
There is a verse here for each day of the week. May you be comforted as you cry out to God and bring your loneliness to Him. Oh how He cares for you and is more than able to provide for the hunger of your soul.
Katie M. Reid is an author and speaker who encourages you to find grace in the unraveling of life (look for her first book coming out next summer with Waterbrook!). She inspires you to embrace your identity in Christ and live out your God-given purpose. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in the Midwest. She is a fan of cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea. Katie and her husband host the popular Facebook Live show, “Stop! Hammock Time” (which airs Wednesdays, 9pm EST). Join in the fun and unwind in this vibrant community.
I took a walk the other day. God blessed me with a walk was on the beach (yippee!!!). I inhaled; it was peace. I listened to the pounding of waves, the strength of his wind and the might of his strong-hitting waves. All was good.
I passed a woman. She sat in a camping chair pressed against the rolling waves, bible in her lap, head down with a bandana around it. As I saw her, something in me called to reach out to something in her. I almost felt as if there was something God wanted to say to her, but I hadn’t the faintest idea what, so I kept walking.
It wasn’t until about 100 feet away that something struck me. I suppose it was the word – “faithfulness.” I looked down at my little footmarks in the sand, leading forward. I decided they needed to do “a turnaround.” They needed to loop back. They needed to address something.
But what God? What am I supposed to say?
His nudge was: pray.
Feeling all happy that God has great ideas, I went over and asked my sister in Christ if she needed prayer. Her feeble head lifted up slowly from her phone and she said, “Yes, my husband is in the hospital with a heart condition and I need strength.”
Indeed. Of course she does. Of course God knew. He always does. He also knew this prayer time, as she stated, would be “just what she needed,” a “confirmation from God.”
I’ve been realizing the turnaround is powerful. Because for once, I’ve been doing it…
I made some ongoing rash judgments about people.
Turnaround: After much stomping of my feet, I apologized.
I was quick to respond when tiredness, hunger and overwhelming feelings conquered me. I normally brush my reactions aside.
Turnaround: I’ve been seeing truth for truth. These days, I’ve been humbling myself and saying sorry.
I forgot friends. I don’t want to get caught up in my world, but I do.
Turnaround: I’ve asked God to help face them (despite my shame).
To turnaround is to see God again. It’s to face him outside of the realm of shame, and let him welcome you to healing, whether it belongs to you or someone else.
Where do you need to turn around? Where are your foot marks in the sand headed? Your way? Or home, into God’s arms?
He never hurts children who’ve done bad. He welcomes you in. He’ll lead you to his better thing. He’ll nudge you with the words to speak. He’ll uncover the greatness of freedom in the error of your ways.
“Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.” (Joel 2:13)
We climbed the train, tucked away our luggage for the long haul, then headed to the lounge where we got some waters and drinks. Relaxation time! Well, not so much. The kids were nuts. They tackled each other on the booth cushions and screamed like animals at a wrestling match. I eyed the woman staring at me to the left. I glanced down the row at a man who couldn’t keep his eyes off them. I motioned to my husband, “It’s time to go.” But what came next shocked me.
As we headed out, the woman with a pixie haircut and eyes that didn’t quite catch you straight stared a bit beyond me and said, “You have beautiful kids. We love watching them.”
I was shocked. You love them?
She went on to tell my family and I that we shouldn’t leave the lounge. And if we did, we should return soon.
And with this thought, I began wondering how often I suppose women hate me when they actually: A.) Want to get to know me B.) Are intrigued by me or, C.) Are looking my way, yet not even thinking about me?
Recently, I learned about the Spotlight Effect. It means the vast majority of the time you think people are critiquing, watching or condemning you, they aren’t. They’re likely thinking about themselves and what they are wearing, doing or saying. They’re caught up in their own spotlight.
To boil this down further, it means people are quite often thinking about themselves. And when they aren’t, they are thinking about what you are thinking about them.
Everyone is wrapped up in their own world.
So, those women who I think hate me?
They’ve probably moved on to pondering who hates them.
The person I offended, who I am convinced constantly tracks it?
She’s probably wondering why she doesn’t …blah…blah…blah…
The girl I was a terrible boss to years ago?
She’s probably just concerned with doing a good job at her work, today.
What if we let go of the pressure of what everyone else is thinking? What if we let go of the burden of owning other’s contentment? What if we just let our goal be to please God and seek him, plain and simple?
What if we let go of everyone’s load? Because it pains us to carry it.
“For each one should carry their own load.” (Gal. 6:5)
So, I know you all know I wrote the book, Fear Fighting. I also know you know if there is anyone who should be fearless – it’s me. But, guess what? I admit it. I am not.
After a recent stressful situation, I was told by a family member, “You need to work on your anxiety issue.” This gave me anxiety.
Before she made this comment, I was leaps and bounds more anxiety-free than ever before. In fact, I considered what God did a miracle. But right after she said this, it felt like someone dropped a 50-pound brick off the Empire State building and it landed on my chest. The burn started up…
For days, I lost any sense of inner comfort and felt a new overwhelming sense of pounding nervousness.
Oh, how I wanted to blame her.
But I didn’t…well, I kind of did.
Man, what I’d worked through, she put back on me.
For days, I worked to work it away. For days, I pressed to bring back God’s peace. For days, I struggled and fought to pretend it wasn’t there. For days, I felt acted upon and angered by it all.
On the 5th day, I said to myself, “Of course, Kelly, you have anxiety. You’ve been through a hard time. You had a big family issue. You had some sin issues within yourself to contend with. You’re taking on a huge project right now, as you write a new book. And, you are also moving in a few days to a new area. It’s like the world is on your shoulders. Make room for this emotion to live, to breathe before God and be patient. God will work there, in the space where self-hatred is absent.”
I realized I could stop “performing peace” and let “Peace” come. And this is what happened. With less attention on performance and a clear focus on God’s love, it faded.
Jesus took it. He took it as I focused on Him – not on it. He took it as I remembered his all-sufficiency. He took it as I made room for rest. He took it as I let go of any anger I once had at that family member. He took it as I found myself free to not fix myself. He took it.
Thank you, God. Please keep it.
What might Jesus want to take from you through peaceful waiting? Where you are absent of self-hatred, remorse and condemnation? Where you don’t demand yourself to improve but wait on God?
Their outfits are adorable. They look confident in how they carry themselves. They seem to have perfect lives. Their understanding of scripture is mind-blowing. And we wonder if God is more pleased with them than He is with… us.
And deep down, we may even envy their notoriety. Don’t we all have a desire to be seen and known.
I’ll be honest… this kind of mindset makes me want to scream. I can’t stand it when I let myself go down this road of thinking. Because I know everyone struggles as they navigate life. No one has it all together…
… regardless of who they are.
Here is the hard, cold truth: No matter how it may look, ministry is hard.
It’s a call to be vulnerable and open with your life—your story. It’s choosing to sit down at your computer or stand in front of an audience and pick the scab off your deepest wounds. It’s a radical act of obedience when we feel lacking and even unqualified. And sometimes it feels like you’re setting yourself up for a big heart thump.
Last year was one of those times.
Within about 3 months…
… I lost a good ministry-minded friend, … an opportunity to work with an amazing group of Jesus-girls exploded, … and I was betrayed at the deepest level by someone in ministry.
That trifecta knocked me down. Hard. And I lost my joy for ministry.
It made me question the calling on my life, wondering if maybe I heard God wrong. I was on the verge of quitting, frustrated because I felt He had abandoned me. It just felt like too much heartache to handle.
But then God. Those three words are so powerful. But then God nudged women to send affirming emails at just the right time. But then God crossed my path with the paths of encouragers at the right moment. But then God spoke the right words into my heart.
And my hopelessness began to lift… my perspective began to shift… and joy began to trickle back in.
Honestly, I am still low on the joy-meter. It’s a process, right? But I know the only One who can restore it is God.
And we’re working on it together.
Friend, where is joy draining from your life?
Where are you struggling to hold on to it?
Maybe it’s in a marriage that feels fragile or because a child is making bad choices. It could be because of your failing health or because your finances are unstable. Are you losing joy because of a strained friendship, a moral failure or a career that seems stuck?
What if we looked at our circumstances a little differently?
Mother Teresa once said, “The best way to show my gratitude to God is to accept everything, even my problems, with joy.” This is meaty. It’s trust on steroids. And it is faith to the core.
But even better…
1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us… “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live” (MSG).
God is asking us to engage in uncommon gratitude when life is draining our joy.
That means we thank God no matter what happens. It means we don’t focus on what’s lost, but instead focus on what’s left… and to be grateful for it.
It means we praise Him in the storm.
We don’t have to thank God for allowing cancer or death or pain in our life. I’m not sure we could ever genuinely find gratitude in that. Instead, we show gratitude because we know God is bigger than what we are facing, and that He is intricately involved in the details.
And that choice—choosing praise over hopelessness—is what takes us from common to uncommon.
Friends, praise will always usher in joy when we’re struggling to find it. It’s a negativity-buster and gratitude-generator at the same time. And it will keep us tethered to hope… no matter what comes our way.
Let’s be joy-carriers and show the next generation how it’s done so they can harness its power in their own lives.
I know you can do this.
Because of Jesus, you have everything it takes to #beUncommon. Now choose it.
About Carey Scott
Carey Scott is an author and speaker, honest about her walk with the Lord… stumbles, fumbles and all. Her NEWLY RELEASED BOOK, Uncommon, a battle cry for women to step out of the ordinary and live with purpose and passion. Carey also wrote Untangled, a book about the insecurities we face as women and how to live in freedom. She lives in Northern Colorado with her family. Learn more at CareyScott.org. You can also connect with her on Facebook.