And the Wind Died Down

Only when we come to recognize and embrace the sweetness of Christ’s grace in the hard times are we able to rejoice in the richness and depth of His grace in the good times.

As the title of my website might suggest, the story of Peter walking on water in Matthew 14 is my favorite story in the Bible. I have realized over the last couple of years how rich this story is with meaning; with truths of grace and mercy and hope in every word.

We can read a story such as this so many times, year after year, and yet, in a single moment, we can read it again and find new meaning and new significance.

When I first started writing, it was like my ‘walking on water’ moment; the moment I knew God was telling me to step out of my comfort zone and walk in faith; to trust Him with the story that He had given me and surrender all that I had gone through and was learning to the purposes of His good and perfect will.

For it is in Him that we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

Unfortunately, as we human beings often do, I got distracted. I started writing for my own purposes; desiring the approval of those around me more than God’s approval, seeking to write and encourage in ways that I saw best, and following the advice of others rather than trusting in God’s perfect wisdom.

This wandering was not just in my writing though, but in my relationships with others, my walk with the Lord, and in my pursuit of joy and peace.

The words of Robert Robinson’s hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing rang so true in my life at that time – prone to wander, Lord I feel it // prone to leave the God I love.

So with eyes averted and devotion divided, when the wind and waves came, I became afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30)

grace upon grace

In perfect wisdom and love, God used Peter’s failure and mine alike to loudly proclaim His infinite grace. As author C.S. Lewis puts it –

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

And so it was in those moments when I felt way in over my head; drowning in a storm of my own making filled with lies of disappointment, fear, and failure that God spoke the loudest; where grace became the only solid ground on which I could stand.

I cherish those seasons of pain and uncertainty in my life the most though because it is in those moments that leave us stunned and without words that the Lord speaks the loudest.

It is in the moments when we have no where left to turn that His open arms become a sweet refuge.

It is when we are broken that He mends us and makes us whole.

It is when we are empty that He fills us.

And it is only after we have been through a storm that we are able to look back and recognize His saving grace.

and the wind died down

As I look back on 2018, I see beautiful moments of friendship, growth, joy, and hope, as well as tough seasons of anxiety, fear, and doubt. However, more than all of these, I see the unparalleled grace, mercy, and patience of the Lord.

I see my Savior; my Redeemer; the Rescuer of my soul, who despite my moments of resentment and unfaithfulness, never left my side.

When I was broken, He made me whole again.

When I was empty, He fulfilled my every need.

When I felt alone, He comforted me.

When the silence seemed overwhelming, His voice rang loud and clear.

And now, as I look back on the good and bad of 2018 and embrace the Lord’s goodness in the toil and joys alike, I feel the wind dying down around me and grace and peace in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus my Lord (2 Peter 1:2).

It is important though to remember that these seasons of turmoil and rest; of raging storms and quiet waters, all point to a greater reality.

In the storms of life, God loudly proclaims to our bruised and broken spirits that this is not all that there is; that though these sorrows may be painful, they are light and momentary nonetheless.

Storms remind us that we have the hope of eternal and perfect peace in Christ Jesus still waiting for us.

And in the same way, when we are granted seasons of rest and the storms of life die down around us, we are reminded that the good things in this world are but murmurs of the greater weight of glory that is yet to come.

And it is when we recognize this and embrace it in every season of life that we are truly able to rejoice in Christ Jesus; thanking Him with joy and thanksgiving for His good and perfect gifts and sitting back, beaten and bruised by the storms of life to worship Him still.

One of my favorite quotes by John Owen says that ‘beholding the glory of Christ in this life is preparation—small “dawnings of eternal glory”—for the joys of heaven, where we will see Christ in His glory fully.’

This life will be filled with good and bad; with joys and toil, happiness and sorrow. This is simply the reality of our human condition. However, as we learn to recognize and embrace the sweetness of God’s grace in our joys and sorrows on earth, we are preparing our hearts for the day of rejoicing when we will fully behold His glory; when the dawning turns to day, the storm [sin] is silenced forever, and we enter into ‘the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. We will come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. We will come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel’ (Hebrews 12:22-24).

We will be Home, where joys abound and the wind is no more.

Let Love Fill You With Christmas Joy This Year

Here we are, just about a week away from Christmas. Dreams of mistletoe and presents tickle the mind as wafting smells of Christmas baking and sounds of holiday singing mingle through the air. The thought of a couple days off from work build with excitement as plans to head home for the holidays receive their final instruction.

For some however, in fact, most, there can be some anxious thoughts surrounding the holidays as well. While this might not be the case for everyone, I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we all experience a degree of anxiety when approaching the many family reunions around Christmas time. Because of this, it can be hard to feel the joy of the season; to rejoice as the shepherds did with great delight when the very first Christmas had finally arrived.

As we search for and try to maintain the essence of joy this holiday season, we would be wise to consider the role that love plays in bringing about such season’s greetings. In order to address love as a means of Christmas joy, we must look at Love itself and His first appearance on that oh so holy night.

Based on the December 13, 2018 article by David Mathis, here are three truths to keep in mind this Christmas season.

the first Christmas.

Philippians 2:6-7 says that Christ, ‘being in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of man.’

We don’t often consider this passage as one to be read during the holidays, but Philippians 2:6-7 is probably one of the most ‘Christmas-y’ passages in the Bible. Not only is this an account of Jesus’ birth, thus reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas, but it also gives us a look at the heart behind Christmas; at the actual essence of that which we are celebrating.

It was not Christ’s impulse to maintain his own rights and privileges as God that brought about the first Christmas, but rather it was His humbled mindset to inconvenience himself and sacrifice his own comfort for the greater gain of mankind (David Mathis).

Instead of grasping for privilege, Christ emptied himself of his own rights.

Therefore, if we are to be of the same ‘mind’ or ‘disposition’ as Christ, we must start by ‘looking not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others’ (Philippians 2:4-5).

The call to love begins here, for love does not insist on its own way (1 Corinthians 13:5), but desires to serve, love, and benefit those around them. This kind of love then, when grounded in Christ Jesus who is the true centerfold of Christmas, is displayed in us when we get outside of our own interests, comforts, desires, frustrations, rights, and/or preferences and look beyond ourselves to the interests of others, thus sparking the truest kind of Christmas joy in our hearts.

spend and be spent…joyfully.

2 Corinthians 12:15 says that ‘I [Paul] will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?’

In this passage and in his ministry to the people of Corinth, Paul is gladly displaying his love for them by spending and being spent on their behalf.

Do you ever feel spent? Do the holidays leave you feeling utterly exhausted and in need of a vacation from your vacation? Are there times when you wonder if it is all truly worth it; worth the stress, the exhaustion, the irritation, the effort…?

Such feelings of exhaustion and ‘being spent’ are in fact precious in God’s sight and honoring to Him as we image forth His Son, but only when we do so out of a strength and love grounded in Him. It is when we start serving and striving out of our own strength and for our own self-glorification that we draw the attention away from Christ and dishonor Him.

If we look not only at Paul’s ministry, but at the ministry of Christ as well which Paul was imitating, we see such an example of how we are to embrace costly and inconvenient personal losses of time, energy, attention, possessions, money, comfort, and peace of mind for the sake of others. We can only do this well and in a way that pleases the Lord if we do so out of a deep love for Him and an understanding of His sufficient love for us.

This made me think of an article by Bonnie McKernan that reminds us of what it means to look like Christ. ‘It might be letting others lead when I feel the most equipped, or leading when I feel most unable, because God’s power is perfected in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). It might be keeping quiet when I feel like shouting, or loudly proclaiming when I feel too timid to even whisper. It might be serving others when I most want to be served; it might be resting when serving draws people to me rather than to Christ…’ all of this to the glory of Christ and for the benefit of those around us, including those that are hard to love.

As we look to the glory of God and the interests of others, we imitate the humility of Christ, which in infinite wisdom and love, was displayed for us on the very first Christmas. As we gladly spend and be spent for others, we can remind ourselves of the truth and encouraging words found in Acts 20:35 – ‘for it is more blessed to give than to receive.’

remember your great and eternal possession

Hebrews 10:34 says that ‘we know that we ourselves have a better possession and an abiding one.’ Abiding in this passage is synonymous with ‘lasting’ or ‘eternal.’

When God is our heavenly treasure, the foundation on which our ‘right’ as His sons and daughters rest; when our source of love, energy, compassion, provision, comfort, and peace of mind are in Him, our wells will never run dry and we will be enabled to love without fearing being loved any less, because His love is perfect, unfailing, and sufficient (Jeremiah 31:3, 1 John 3:1).

So often the reason we fail to love others well is because we feel violated in some way; we feel wronged, misjudged, unfairly critiqued, and the victim of malicious intent. However, when we boil these feelings down to their truest belief, what we will often find is fear. We fear exposure. We fear being loved less because of what someone might rightly or wrongly believe about us. We fear the pain of feeling like a failure or a disappointment, and we fear humiliation.

There is no fear in love though, because perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). And there is no love that is perfect apart from the love of Christ Jesus who did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself on our behalf by taking the form of a servant and being born in the likeness of man.

When our love for others is found in, grounded upon, and sustained by the love we receive from the Father, we will be enabled and strengthened to endure beyond the point where we’ve just about had enough, and love others from a place of true Christmas joy.

Because You’re Mine

It was ‘Bob Ross’ night as we liked to call it and the four of us had our canvases and paints all ready to go.

The beginning steps weren’t too difficult. We were simply instructed to lay the base colors; the light blues of the sky and the deep greens and browns of the rich earth below.

I was practically Michelangelo at this point.

Then we started adding depth, definition, and contrast.

By the time we got to the mountain range and ‘happy trees,’ I was no better than a 2nd grader with her finger paints.

My final product was anything but perfect. All my hopes and dreams of ever becoming an artist had been swiftly whisked away. But I still loved it.

I thought it was a beautiful painting; worthy of being prominently displayed on my wall where everyone could see it.

Sure it wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t care.

It was mine.

This reminded me of one of my favorite children’s books by Max Lucado, You Are Special.

In this adorable, yet incredibly relevant book; applicable even to the wisest of theologians, our young puppet named Punchinello inquires of his creator, the wood worker named Eli…

“What do I matter to you?”

Eli looked at Punchinello, put his hands on those small wooden shoulders, and spoke very slowly. “Because you’re mine. That’s why you matter to me.”

I absolutely love this part of the story because it is in this moment that the lie every adult knows is confronted … ‘my value lies in what I can or cannot do.’

What a debilitating lie this is.

Our confessional theology; the theology we proclaim to believe in, tells us and the world that our value comes from the One who made us. However, our practical theology; the theology that we actually live by, more often than not tells us and the world that we don’t really believe in what we proclaim.

If we did, there would be no such thing as comparison or pride in our small groups, anxiety when answering a question in Sunday School, or broken friendships among believers.

Rather, our lives tell a story of vain striving; of people who look within rather than above for assurance and value, believing that either…

  1. I’ve got this; or
  2. I suck.

The ‘I’ve got this’ lie suggests to the world that we believe God loves us because of all the good we do while the ‘I suck’ lie implies that we believe that God’s love is conditional; apt to change; to increase or decreased based on our actions or lack thereof.

Both are essentially the same lie – ‘my value lies in what I can or cannot do.’ One is through the lens of pride and the other is through the lens of self-loathing.

Both are equally destructive to the believer’s life.

As I’ve searched deeper into the precious Word of God and developed a greater, more personal understanding of this faith that I claim, I’ve also become more acquainted with the depth of my depravity; of all the ways that I’ve thought wrongly about God and conducted myself accordingly.

This is one of those areas.

I’m only now realizing how much of my life has been driven by this deceptive belief that I had and still have some part to play in determining my value as a Christian.

In some regard this may seem fairly innocent; common even and often masked with sympathetic words such as ‘insecure’ or ‘low-self esteem.’ We might even try to mask this lie with empowering words; words that tell me that I’m ‘self-aware’ or ‘introspective.’

To some degree it’s good to be introspective and aware of one’s motives and actions, but when that turns into a means by which we try to gain favor in God’s eyes, this seemingly innocent misconception suddenly becomes insurmountable.

This lie that I had some part to play in determining my value and worth as a Christian suddenly, when under attack from the enemy, morphed into the lie that I now have a part to play in guaranteeing my salvation.

Yikes! That escalated really quickly!

But do you see how different those two lies are yet how closely they can be related?  Even the slightest fallacy in our beliefs regarding the Gospel is enough for Satan to plunge his dagger of deceit into and twist until we are unraveled by pain, illegitimate guilt, and confusion.

I realized that nearly the entirety of my faith had fed into this lie that I had some part to play in how much (or how little) I was valued by God.

I had a ‘good day, bad day’ faith and once faced with some serious life circumstances, immense fears, and relentless lies from the devil, it quickly stole my focus from that of Jesus Christ standing firm on the water to the fact that I was merely human and could not, within myself, walk on water.

Because I saw myself as part of my own front line defense against Satan rather than the truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and Word of God that makes up the impenetrable armor of God (Eph. 6), I presented the enemy with the perfect opportunity to strike at the weakest point in my defense…me!

And I am no match against the powers of hell or the urges of sin, fear, and temptation.

Like Helm’s Deep in the Lord of the Rings – just one, extremely small area of weakness, when targeted by the enemy, was enough to bring down the steadfast walls that protected what was most sacred to the people of Rohan.

Just one, extremely small area of weakness in a believer’s theology and belief in the Gospel is enough to seriously disrupt and derail the security that protects what is most sacred to the Christian’s faith – salvation only by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And since the Word of God alone is secure and infallible, it is only when we, fragile, limited human beings assume some degree of God’s limitless nature as our own that we erode our defenses against the flaming arrows of the enemy.

One might say that I had lost a sense of who I was; of my value as a child of God; of how much I was cherished, loved, and accepted.

However, I didn’t necessarily lose a sense of who I was. In fact, I elevated my sense of who I was and lost a sense and recognition of who God is.

My painting may have had some disproportionate trees, weirdly colored meadows and fields, and shadows that faced the wrong direction, but none of that equated to its value.

The finest works of art do not possess their intrinsic value on their own. They don’t even help in the process. They possess their value because their Artist is intrinsically valuable, making wonderful things because HE is wonderful; imputing HIS glory onto the works of HIS hands despite their inconsistencies and irregularities.

Because we are His, we are special.

Because we are His, we are valuable.

Because we are His, we are saved.

When Love Breaks Your Heart

For the sake of transparency, I’ll start by saying that I do not know what unexpected loss feels like. I’ve lost relatives, but never without warning.

It was anticipated and I was blessed with time to prepare for the inevitable.

While every loss we experience is painful and heart wrenching, this is not the kind of heart break that this day in history brings to so many.

Rather, it’s a sudden, unsolicited, unexpected ripping of your heart – a kind of pain that leaves you breathless and paralyzed.

It’s a kind of pain that one feels as they helplessly watch the plane holding their loved one careen straight into a building.

A pain that courses through their soul every year as they remember that horrific day; a day filled with fear.

Perfect Love Casts Out All Fear

When we think of love, we think of the good moments in life; the moments that leave us smiling and hopeful.

Love is a white gown and tux.

Love is laughter and the cry of a newborn child.

Love is found in the comfort of a friend.

Love is extended through the hands of rescuers responding to Hurricane Irma.

Love is experienced when our brothers and sisters in Christ are truly happy.

Love is known in and through Jesus Christ.

Love is the cross.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:16).

But what about the hard times; the times when we actually feel our hearts breaking inside of us?

I recently watched a movie starring Will Smith (Howard) titled Collateral Beauty.

In this story, after coping for years with the pain of his daughter’s death, Howard writes letters to Love, Death, and Time.

To his surprise, Love, Death, and Time incarnate actually approach him.

The part that stuck out the most to me was when Love (Keira Knightley) approached Howard and passionately tried to remind him that love is the fabric of life; the only reason for anything and that he simply could not live without it.

In his excruciating pain, Howard retaliated, crying – “I felt you [Love] every day when my daughter laughed and you broke my heart.”

With sympathy in her voice, Love responded with words of hope – “I was there in her laugh, but I’m also here now in your pain.”

Scripture tells over and over again that God is Love; that they are one in the same; that whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:8).

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them (1 John 4:16).

As human beings, we naturally categorize those which are alike together – things such as joy, happiness, life, contentment, peace, love…all of these are considered to be good.

In the same manner, we also categorize all that we believe to be bad into a separate group – pain, hurt, sorrow, destruction, death, hate, etc.

As basic as these constructs may seem to our societal fabric, they are but mere human paradigms and have no bounds against the Love that is God.

If Love is God, then it is not restricted to only that which we consider to be good.

Sometimes pain is the truest form of love because it keeps us from living a life without all the fullness that God offers, because as our hearts break, they are graciously exposed to the love and comfort that God so desires to pour into your life.

It is ‘out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given (John 1:16).’ It is ‘the fullness of Christ that fills everything in every way (Ephesians 1:23), and to know this love that surpasses knowledge is to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19).

There is complete fullness in God; a fullness that is seen in the life, mission, and purpose of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:19) and therefore, accessible to us through a love saturated in pain.

Those two words – love and pain – are rarely coupled together, but in all of history, Jesus’ pain is the ultimate expression of love.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…(John 3:16).

When the grip of pain bears down on our hearts – the pain of loss, confusion, loneliness, betrayal, self-loathing, abandonment, a burning hatred for those who stole what we love most – it is hard to recognize the sweet essence of Love.

But just as Love broke the one and only Son, so too does Love break our hearts to put them back together again; to raise to life a man or woman set free in the arms of Grace.

Life is painful and sometimes all that’s good seems so ambiguous and obscure against the smoke and fire of a life crashing down around us.

But as we remember this day 17 years ago, we can turn our eyes from the smoke and fire and instead look into the face of perfect Love.

Human tradition and the basic principles of this world tell us that where there is pain and heartache, love cannot exist.

But this is not true.

Truth – the Gospel – tells us that God is Love and that this Love will go with you; He will not leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6), even when He breaks your heart.

Set That Woman Free

The Sinful Woman

Coming Undone at the Feet of Jesus

Read Luke 7:36-50.

As I think back to this time about a year ago, I see a lot of heartache, a lot of pain, and a lot of confusion.

I see darkness.

I see hopelessness.

Like the woman in Luke 7:36-50, I found myself in a place of solitude and isolation; seemingly having no way of escape.

Granted, my entrapment was not due to the same sin as this nameless woman, but it was caused by sin nonetheless.

It was caused by worry, self-fulfillment, vain striving, and a forgetfulness of who God was in my life.

I sat sulking instead of still.

I worried rather than worshiped.

I strove for satisfaction rather than sanctification.

I was, and most certainly still am, a sinful woman.

However, when I think back on that time, another memory stands out in my mind as well; one filled with hopeful tears and joyful anticipation.

It was a Sunday afternoon and God suddenly became real to me.

The vitality of His presence shook me to my core.

I fell at His feet, completely undone by the love and goodness He so readily demonstrated to me that Sunday afternoon.

This passage – often read, considered, maybe studied from time to time, but in the end always skimmed over, is one that I believe offers a lot of insight for the lives of women.

The example set by this woman trapped in a sinful lifestyle but undone by the love of her Father is one that should not be quickly overlooked.

Consider a sin that you have been stuck in for a long time.

Think about the times that you’ve tried to step away, successful for a period of time but never failing to fall back into its defeating rhythm.

It’s hard.

Now consider this sinful woman.

She was trapped in the sin of prostitution. That is all we know. We don’t know how or why she found her way into this lifestyle.

Perhaps she was forced.

Perhaps it was out of fear that she’d be left alone.

Perhaps this was her livelihood; her only means of survival.

We simply do not know.

All we know is that she was a sinful woman who was not welcome.

Do you feel unwelcomed because of your sin?

Do you feel as if your sin is painted on your forehead for everyone to see?

Perhaps this is a sin that you can’t even pinpoint the beginning of – it’s just always been a part of your life.

Perhaps there are emotional motivators behind this sin; motivators like fear, anxiety, or depression.

Perhaps this sin is your way of survival; the only way to protect yourself.

I don’t know, but believe me when I say – God knows.

He knows the depths of your sin just like He knew the depths of the sin this woman had committed.

Yet He loved her all the same.

In fact, He, being the only one who truly knew what she had done, loved her deeperharder, and longer than anyone ever had.

And that was enough!

That was enough to completely undo this woman, and it is enough to completely undo you as well.

That same God who loved this sinful woman loves you in all of your sin.

Let that settle for a moment.

It wasn’t until this woman realized the magnitude of God’s love for her that she fell – broken, emptied, defeated, and undone at the feet of Jesus.

Those exact qualities; those qualities of being poor in spirit are beautiful examples of a woman desperate for her King.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  – Matthew 5:3

To be completely undone by the greatness of Jesus Christ is a quality that escapes most of us. We are constantly striving to have it all together; to play it cool and be steady under pressure.

This woman was experiencing tremendous pressure under the weight of her sin, yet day in and day out she maintained.

Are you maintaining right now?

Are you fighting with every ounce of your being to play it cool under the weight of your sin?

Take this sinful woman’s example – fall at the feet of Jesus, undone by the love and acceptance He longs to give you.

When you find yourself face down at the feet of Jesus – broken, emptied, defeated, and completely undone by all that He is, the very essence of God will rush in like a crashing wave and fill every void space with a sweet sense of abandon; a vivacity that can cause a prostitute to fall before a man and wash his feet with her tears, hair, and expensive oils.

I experienced this kind of undoing that Sunday afternoon a year ago.

I had been striving so hard to be everything I could; to adjust to my new life out of college with grace and independence and work hard while remaining humble.

But the loneliness and depression hindered my ability to experience the overwhelming peace and assurance of Jesus Christ, so I maintained.

I woke up every morning under the weight of my worry, anxiety, and self-sufficiency with little to no change that very same night as I crawled back into bed.

The moment I realized it though; the moment that the goodness of God Almighty became real to me was the moment I was completely undone by His love and acceptance.

It was a moment of absolute abandon; of worshiping God through tears of surrender.

Sister – come undone.

It’s okay!

It’s okay to not be okay.

Cry, take a load off, and fall at His feet.

Your tears are prayer too – Romans 8:26 – so go ahead and cry.

Sometimes it’s our tears that bless and glorify Christ the most.

There is no power, no height, nor depth, nor anything in all of creation that can separate you from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39) so you have nothing to fear; nothing to lose.

You are held secure in His loving and gentle hands.

He already knows, so empty yourself and allow Jesus to gently take your face in His hands and say – “Your faith my daughter, has saved you. Now go in peace” (Luke 7:50).

Come undone today and watch as Jesus takes your brokenness and builds from those pieces a woman who has been set free!

A Prayer for the Expectant Heart

Thank you God for not placing expectations on me.

Thank you for dying on the cross so that I would no longer have to live under the law of this world, but rather under the law of grace.

Thank you for allowing me a life where I can live in full expectancy of seeing new mercies every morning.

Open my eyes to the expectations that I place on others that surpass reason; where the ideal exceeds reality.

Show me how I am placing unreasonable and selfish expectations on my loved ones to satisfy any void that only you can fill.

When I seek affirmation, remind me that it is only you O’ God that upholds and affirms me.

  • My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63:8).
  • Though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds the righteous (Psalm 37:17).
  • In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever (Psalm 41:12).
  • The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down (Psalm 145:14).

When I seek happiness, remind me that it is the joy of your name that strengthens me.

  • Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
  • The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song (Psalm 28:7).
  • When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul (Psalm 94:19).
  • Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9).
  • May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as your trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

When I seek approval, remind me that it is only for you that I live, that you O’ God may be praised and I unnoticed.

  • For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).
  • For in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

When I seek fulfillment, remind me that you are the God who fills all things in every way.

  • …the fullness of him who fills everything in every way (Ephesians 1:23).
  • I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19).
  • It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).
  • For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority (Colossians 2:9-10).

Bless me with unmeasurable grace towards others, that I might not place unrealistic expectations on them, but extend the same love and grace that you have shown me.

May my contentment come entirely from your promises and truths, O’ God.

Help me recognize the plank in my own eye before addressing the speck in another’s eye (Matthew 7:3).

Give me grace to live in expectancy rather than expectation; to respond to others in love rather than place responsibility on them, that we may not be taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human traditions and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ (Colossians 2:8).

May I be a vessel of love and grace rather than expectations and responsibilities.

May it be so – Amen.