when God makes us wait (Psalm 130, part 5)

Psalm 130

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in His word I do hope.” (Psalm 130:5)

I know, beloved — it hurts, waiting with the weight of the world on your shoulders when confusion rattles your soul and hope seems so far away. It is the hardest thing, to keep holding on to hope moment after moment, day after day. You have kept fighting for hope, for weeks and months and years now and all the fighting has left you scarred, your wounded heart so weary and vulnerable. There is that silent question your soul sighs — is there purpose to this waiting, to this season that is so unbearably difficult?

This waiting, it takes courage and strength and some days, you are barely able to do it, barely able to keep hoping for yet another day. Us flawed and messy people, we keep breaking over having to wait and some days, our hearts are plain fractured and echoing loud with hurt. But us with the broken hearts, there is still purpose for us and for our hearts losing hope. The broken hearts will love harder than most do, reach out to those of us undeserving of love and this one, here — it is the will of God, that we love another through the pain and the depths of darkness.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Yet, you know this, beloved. This waiting, as hard as it is? It serves a purpose greater than what we can behold right now. It is working for something good, something great. Throughout the history of this world, we have always been waiting people: waiting for redemption, waiting for our Messiah, waiting for His Second Coming. It is so hard, to keep holding on to hope and trust that there is something great coming — we know this, that the waiting itself is beneficial for us, trying our faith and exercising our patience. As we keep offering our hurting hearts back to the Lord, we are trained in our submission to the Lord and our hearts are molded, made new. And when, finally, the answer or the blessing comes — it means so much more now.

So keep holding on to hope, beloved. It can be the hardest thing, the one that breaks our hearts the most. Trust that the answer will come, though it might not seem even possible right now. Hold on to hope through the sorrow of the night, trusting that God will come through at the dawn of the day. Let His Word be the source of your strength, patiently hoping and waiting still one more day.

God might make us wait now, but He will come through.

“If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for him.” (C. H. Spurgeon)

there is forgiveness with God (Psalm 130, part 4)

Psalm 130

But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.” (Psalm 130:4)

I sat there with her, watched her as tears ran down her cheeks and I felt it, the hurt of the sharp words that cut through the gentle heart, the weight of having to bear all this one more day yet again so unbearable — and I knew, the heavy set of darkness surrounding a kind soul would take time, would need time to let the light find in through the cracked corners and broken pieces. I knew, oh I knew — the brokenness of a soul wounded while so undeserving, the hurt now woven into the strings of a beautiful soul and I witnessed once more, this grace that never ceases to amaze me.

I can see the hurt flowing in waves, the echo of a wounded heart loud in her eyes when she lifts up her chin and looks at me, and I knew — this, this is grace. Because never did she mention the hurt tha,t tore through the fragile walls of her heart. Never did she even try to defend herself, accepting humbly the anger of another, knowing fully well she did not deserve the least of it. Beneath the storm of the wounding words that break a heart right in half, there was something greater rising — this forgiveness, so undeserved, yet freely given.

This here, I have no doubt — is a picture of heaven, the forgiveness flowing so easy and so our God bends down to meet us where we are, His beloved Son wounded for our transgressions and love covers all our sins. I cannot help but notice, this truth loud in every beat of my heart: we are so undeserving, even of the least of the forgiveness of our great God. We see it, we see it in our own hearts: the deep darkness and the despair, the sinful wickedness and plain ugly selfishness. We feel it — in the words we speak without thinking, in the acts of kindness we refuse to extend, in the stubbornness of our unrelenting soul. This here, our hearts? I feel the weight of it, too, my friend.

But this is not the end, beloved.

There is that one word, that lifts the weight of the darkness and speaks light into the core of our soul: but. Blessed but, that leads us into the forgiveness of our merciful God. For all our failures and shortcomings, for all our weaknesses and great faults — there is forgiveness with Him, His mighty hands ready to extend and welcome you in the moment you come confessing. And I know, oh I know, it hurts — to plain come and admit, that you could not do it, that you tried on your own and did not have it in you. But there is forgiveness with Him, to cover all with His love and this, the greatness of this radical grace can never quite be understood.

I wondered there and then about what to tell her, whether words would help soothe the ache of a wounded heart or maybe help her carry her pain a little further. But there were no words, only this notion — that we must be broken to pieces to appreciate the whole. This time, this new chance of trying again, for no failure needs to be final.

We will never be perfect, never complete before we are with Jesus. But that is okay.

Linking up: Word Filled WednesdayGrace at HomeWorks For Me WednesdaysWise Woman LinkupCoffee For Your HeartShine Blog HopFrom House to HomeChristian Blogger Linkup

Christ in you (Psalm 130, part 3)

Psalm 130

If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3)

These days, I am confessing my lack of trust in this moment and then in the next, as I try to make all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, only to find out later on that the Lord had them in His hands all along. These days, the Holy Spirit convicts me of my lack of faith, as I struggle to keep on believing that there will be an answer to all the questions my heart holds, that every step of the way will bring about growth in me and I am becoming more like Jesus.

I look at myself and all I see, is that I am a broken person with a messy heart, living in a broken and fallen world.

This, my friends — it hurts on most days. I wish that I would be like Paul, full of wise words that convict, encourage and teach. I wish that I would be like Peter, ready to jump off the boat and into whatever the Lord is calling me to do without having to think about it even for a second. I wish I would be like David, with a heart after God’s own heart and willing to fully surrender everything to God. But I am not. I am a weary sinner, very aware of my sinful heart that lacks trust, patience, and so much more.

Oswald Chambers writes, “The one marvelous secret of a holy life lies not in imitating Jesus, but in letting the perfections of Jesus manifest through themselves in my mortal flesh. Sanctification is “Christ in you.”

So there is always hope for us in these words, beloved — “Christ in you.”

All of us with messy and hurting hearts — we whisper His name: Emmanuel, God with us. He is with us always, even to the end of the age.

All of us who have lost hope — we take comfort in that in God, we have a hope and His faithful love remains. He knows where we are going, and He is creating something new in us.

All of us who fell short once again, who tried but got nowhere — we rest in the knowledge that His grace is all we need today. His mercies never cease.

These steps of sanctification — we feel every one of them as we walk on this journey of faith, carrying our sinful hearts and facing the hurt of being bare, vulnerable before our great God. Yet the words of Timothy Keller echo through the plains of my heart: “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” On our own, beloved, we can never stand. But we are accepted in the Beloved, and this is the greatest hope for us to hold on.

Linking up: Monday’s MusingsGood Morning Mondays

7 Christian books to encourage your faith

Photo 08-10-2016, 16.53.21

I read, a lot. Maybe this is not surprising coming from someone who writes quite a bit. But I read — I read the Word of God every morning. I read articles and books for my studies and Master’s thesis. I read books that encourage my faith and challenge me to grow. I read blog posts that speak right into my heart, full of comfort and encouragement. I even read fiction every now and then, when my heart needs something light to escape to. Words have a way with my heart, pulling the strings of my soul and rearranging them the way that it all becomes more beautiful.

I believe that we should be people who read, people who challenge ourselves to further our faith and beliefs by reading those books that do it so biblically. So here are 7 books that I recommend for all Christians to read.

1. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts is the book, after the Word of God, that keeps changing my heart and my soul the most. I have cried while reading this book, so many times — because these words are so beautiful, and the raw faith in the midst of the messy life is incredible. This book is definitely the best one there is about cultivating gratitude and why, indeed, it is essential to our Christian walks to give thanks in everything, always. (Buy here.)

2. My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

There is something about these words penned by Oswald Chambers, that challenge me deeply almost every day and always in the best way possible — the way that is inspired to become more like Jesus; the way that sees the wickedness of my own heart and all the wrong ways, yet knows there is hope for today. I love reading My Utmost for His Highest during my morning devotions, walking through the days . (Buy here.)

“It is when we are in the valley, where we prove whether we will be the choice ones, that most of us turn back. We are not quite prepared for the blows which must come if we are going to be turned into the shape of the vision. We have seen what we are not, and what God wants us to be, but are we willing to have the vision “batter’d to shape and use” by God? The batterings always come in commonplace ways and through commonplace people.” (Oswald Chambers)

3. The Calvary Road by Roy Hession

The Calvary Road is a short book but it is full of wisdom and great encouragement for the practical Christian life. Hession discusses the themes of brokenness, humility, confession and revival — all of these done in a way that will change a heart in incredible ways. I think The Calvary Road is an essential read for all Christians, as it encourages our faith but also challenges us to honesty about the condition of our heart. (Buy here.)

“To be broken is the beginning of revival. It is painful, it is humiliating, but it is the only way.” (Roy Hession)

4. How to Pray by R. A. Torrey

Torrey’s How to Pray was first published in 1900 but here is the thing — these incredibly wise, understanding, and insightful words on prayer are just as valuable today. In How to Pray, Torrey describes the ways of “prayer that avails much.” I have read this a few times, and every single time I feel like I learn so much more about prayer and even more so, how to pray. I find that prayer is the one aspect of my Christian life that I struggle the most with. I get easily distracted, I push prayer aside as less important than something else, or I pray halfheartedly. But this book, it keeps changing my heart about prayer time and time again — which is why I wholeheartedly recommend it. (Buy here.)

5. On Being a Servant of God by Warren W. Wiersbe

In On Being a Servant of God, Wiersbe shares his insights on what ministry means, encouraging the reader with his heart for those in ministry. Those of us in ministry, we easily feel the attacks of the enemy and discouragement takes hold of our hearts. There are so many needs to be met, and we can only give so much. Wiersbe does a great job conversing the basic principles of ministry and serving others in this book — and he does it in a way that will grow in you an eagerness to seek God and love His people. On Being a Servant of God is, I think, an essential read for everyone in ministry. (Buy here.)

“If God has called you to minister, no matter what that ministry may be, He hasn’t made a mistake. He knows what He’s doing, and the best thing you can do is gratefully submit to His will and trust Him to work.” (Warren W. Wiersbe)

6. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

The book of Hosea is one that, in all honesty, is so hard for me to read and yet, there is so much to learn about the love and forgiveness of our God in the book of Hosea, which is why I keep reading it again and again. It breaks my heart, to think how many times I wander away from the Lord and how He welcomes me back time and time again. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers captivates the story of Hosea so beautifully, and this is one of my favorite reads. Yes, this is fiction — but this story is one that will certainly encourage your faith as the love, forgiveness and grace of God are revealed through the story. (Buy here.)

7. The One Year Bible (NKJV)

In all honesty, I think being in the Word every day is what always encourages and strengthens our faith the most. Knowing the beautiful promises of our Lord, the scandalous grace and all-conquering love of our Savior — this is where we are made to stand on a firm ground. I have read through the Bible in a year almost four times now, using this One Year Bible during my morning devotions and I really like it. I do not like marking my Bible, but I have no hesitations underlining and writing on this — and I get to follow along the things and thoughts I learn along the years. (Buy here.)

What books would you recommend on top of these? Leave a comment below!

Linking up: Modest MondayWord Filled WednesdayWise Woman Linkup

Lord, hear my voice (Psalm 130, part 2)

Psalm 130

I woke up that night, crying, and I knew — I finally connected what I should have noticed days earlier, my strength spread out thin through the week, my heart broken and bruised from the continuous bad dreams and hard nights. It was there, in the brokenness of this messy heart of mine and the confusion woven through the strings of my soul. I waited until the morning, to tell him what I was already so certain of and the words spilled out with more tears, the honest truth carrying notes of shame.

The enemy is warring for my soul.

And I know, we started this by ourselves when we started painting my fears across pages and in words, when my soul was laid bare and all was covered with tears. It was never easy, exposing those dusted corners of a heart and the looming darkness of my fears; and we started something greater, something of purpose and this — it is never the way of the enemy when we find purpose in our pain. So the shame tries to tell us otherwise, to turn us away from the hope that is there, waiting for you to take the step of faith.

 “Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.” (Psalm 130:2)

Is this not the cry of our heart, in the midst of the desperate search for answers, in the deep darkness and the hopeless nights. It is all we ask, the one thing we plead — Lord, please, would You hear my voice?  Will You answer me, Lord? Or are we left alone to find a way out, to trace back all those wrong turns we took, hoping that this time we will make it right? Are there ever answers to these questions rising out of the deep, is there hope for those who are ready to stop searching?

“Still, there is a voice in silent supplication, a voice in our weeping, a voice in that sorrow which cannot find a tongue: that voice the Lord will hear if its cry is meant for his ear.” (Charles Spurgeon)

I know, beloved — I know. This hopeless place, feeling like you are stuck in circumstances that will never change and the hurt you carry is crushing you. This impossible circumstance that keeps stealing your breath, the closed doors feel like walls closing in. I know, dear one — my heart is right there with you, breaking, and the pain echoes in the heartbeats. There are no words, nothing to describe these waves of sorrow storming up in your soul. Nothing else will do; nothing else can satisfy the longing of a soul. Nothing else will be enough — only God.

But I am learning this one thing, that it is better for our prayers to be heard than for them to be answered. We might be left waiting for an answer — for days and months and years now. Bu we find comfort in knowing that the Lord has heard our voice. The Creator of this world, the Maker of ours hearts — He has heard those tired sighs of your soul. The plead in those tears, the silent cries of our hearts, they have all risen up to His ears. The answer will come when it is the right time.

Linking up: Grace at HomeWise Woman LinkupCoffee and ConversationCoffee For Your HeartFaith Filled FridayGrace MomentsGrace & Truth