Tag: faith (page 1 of 14)

Fleeing the Headlines and Finding My Faith

Faith is a disorienting paradox.

On the one hand, I see evidence of God’s love in my life. I feel His grace, and I believe that He cares for me.

On the other hand, I see the evils continuing to happen in this world every day, I look at the faces of those He hasn’t protected, and wonder if God is really there at all.

I’m asked to believe that terrible events and a loving God can co-exist, and it leaves me feeling like doubt is easier than faith.

In these times, what grounds me better than almost anything else is to leave. To flee the news headlines, escape the noise of the city, and make my way into nature.

Among the many things that are easy to lose in the modern age is our connection to the earth. When I find that connection, I often discover God waiting patiently right behind it.

When I take a nighttime swim in a lake whose only light comes from a breadth of stars beyond what can be absorbed in a single glance, I recognize my own smallness. It begins to feel right that a God who could create all this would be beyond my ability to comprehend.

When I pause to observe the features of the forget-me-nots dotting the shoreline, their tiny blossoms painted with the deep indigo petals and bright yellow center seemingly deserved only by a flower twenty times their size, I understand that not even the smallest detail goes unnoticed by our Creator.

psalm 104

The paradox of a God who both sees the small and lives in the large begins to feel comfortable when I look at the creation that reveals His character.

And while it doesn’t erase my questions of what sovereignty really means or why God seems to care so much about some circumstances and seemingly neglect others, the grounding of God’s creation allows me to feel okay with those questions. I can see that somehow God is in the world and beyond our cosmos, caring for the least and working outside our comprehension, all at the same time.

I can swirl with doubt while remaining firmly planted in the faith that God is here with us.


That was my reflection on Psalm 104. Link up with your own thoughts below. And stop back next week when Psalms Journey heads to Psalm 105.

Do people of faith struggle with pain?

Does faith in God’s sovereignty produce perpetual happiness?

That seems to be the sometimes spoken and often implied belief of Christianity.

“Rejoice in the Lord always!”
“In all things, God works for good!”
“God has a plan!”

We push away struggles with platitudes, portraying and either/or kind of faith. You either struggle with pain OR are content in the midst of all circumstances. You either question the direction of your life OR have faith God is at work.

These are implied to be mutually exclusive categories in a life of faith.

The Psalms tell a different story. The Psalms are the prayers of people with a both/and kind of faith. They both tell the struggles of their life AND maintain faith in a God who acts on their behalf. They display both honesty about the depth of their pain AND praise for a God who is present with them.

It is a complicated faith that can sometimes make the Psalms difficult to read. But isn’t it more true to life?

For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
I forget to eat my food.

In my distress I groan aloud
and am reduced to skin and bones. – Psalm 102:3-5

AND

Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
“The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release those condemned to death.” –Psalm 102:18-20

I am prone to pushing away my struggles because I know I shouldn’t feel this way or that. There are others who have much bigger difficulties; I “shouldn’t” be struggling with something like this. I know that God is bigger than all this; I “shouldn’t” be so consumed with something like this.

It is never God who asks me to downplay my pain.

Psalm 102

God wants us. He desires us to come to Him with our true selves. Which means our Father welcomes the prayers of our honest, complicated, and sometimes contradictory hearts. 

God invites the both/and sentiments of a people who both praise Him and don’t understand Him, who both love Him and are angry with Him, who both ache with pain and find contentment in His love.

I believe God is always good. And I believe life can be really hard.

It’s not either/or. It’s both/and.


That was my reflection on Psalm 102. Link up with your own thoughts below. Stop back next week when Psalms Journey moves on to Psalm 103.

I Still Believe in the Bible

With all the failures of the Church, with all the mistakes of leaders, with all the confusion across years and cultures, I still believe in the Bible.

I believe the heart of the Bible beats wild and free inside its binding, no matter how many times it is held down or torn apart or thrown across a room. It is a living Word whose breath bursts through any attempts to suffocate it.

I believe when the living Word joins forces with the living Spirit and flows into living hearts, something is unleashed unlike any other power in this world.

I have been afraid to admit this. Fearful of this belief being my voice. Unsure what box would be placed around me after this sort of declaration. Nervous about saying things in such a way that I might drive the nails into that box myself.

But my fear is no longer strong enough to hold back this fire within my bones.

I still believe in the Bible. I still believe this ancient Book can speak new things to humanity, even on the thousandth reading of a text. I still believe the Scriptures have power to change lives, transform hearts, and speak into the deepest crevices of our souls.

I still believe in the Bible

That doesn’t mean I believe the Bible is easy. Or clear. I believe the Bible is often frustrating, and usually confusing, but absolutely worth wrestling through. We cannot give up.

Which is why I believe we need each other. We need a community that reads and shares about the Scriptures with one another. We need academics to show us context, artists to show us beauty, doubters to show us questions, servants to show us surrender, and visionaries to show us inspiration.

I believe the life surging from God’s Word is meant to make its way into the world through every wrinkle, mole, joint, muscle, and bone of the Body of Christ. I believe the Bible is meant to be the lifeblood for each of us: anchoring us, encouraging us, and spurring us forth to the beautiful lives God desires for His beloveds.

I still believe in the Bible. I intend to spend my life cracking it open, breathing it in, and letting its life flow from me.

How do you feel about the Bible these days? Have you seen it change lives?

Giving Up… My Worry

Lent Series Button

I was in a conversation with my small group when I first realized it.

We were taking turns sharing our stories with one another, using an entire night for each person to talk and be asked questions. It was my turn.

My tears were flowing at a similar pace to my words, when I admitted, “I just worry that everything is two steps away from the bottom dropping out.”

It wasn’t until I said it out loud that I realized how pervasive this worry really was. I spoke about it that night and have continued to ponder it since then.

———-

Our lives are full of unpredictable events. I have talked to person after person after person who have had wonderful jobs, amazing families, marvelous friendships, and rock-solid faith, until suddenly, they didn’t.

Why would I assume that wouldn’t be me? Why shouldn’t I hedge my bets?

I have made choice after choice to do what I can to control the future. I try hard and work even harder to be the best at everything I can. If there is anything I can do to prevent failure, I will do it. At the same time, I assume that none of it is going to work. That inevitably I will fail or someone will let me down. That way, when it does happen, at least I’m not surprised.

I assume the sting won’t hurt as much if I expect it.

Because I don’t live with the physical sensation of anxiety, I spent years oblivious to the fact that worry was controlling me.

I’ve heard faith defined as placing our confidence in something. Sometimes it feels like the only thing we can be confident about is that at some point, all of our lives will hit bottom.

And so I place my faith in that worry. I am confident that something dreadful will come to pass in the near future. And the more I am confident in that, the less it feels like anxiety and the more it feels like truth. The worry fools me into a false sense of security.

But security is not the same thing as peace. Peace is what Christ came to offer me.

———-

I’ve been encouraged to lean into two spiritual practices lately: the welcoming prayer and the breath prayer.

The welcoming prayer consciously invites all the things we want to hide, the feelings we are embarrassed about, into the center of our prayer life. Not to confess them, or feel shame about them, but to lift them up as a reality God already sees.

God searches us and knows us. It is often we who do not know ourselves.

For me, this has meant welcoming my fears and worries and stress into the center of my prayer life. And knowing that nothing about them changes God’s affection for me. God knows I have struggled with this worry. This revelation is not a surprise to Him. And He values me and loves me and accepts me right now, just as I am.

I end the welcoming prayer with the simple request of “Christ, shine Your light.”

The breath prayer acknowledges God’s presence with us in every moment of every day. It is a simple phrase memorized and repeated, so that it enters our thoughts rhythmically and repeatedly throughout the day, just as we breath. The original breath prayer is “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.” But I prayed about what I needed, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, wrote my own breath prayer for this season.

“Abba, hold my hand.”

It is so simple, yet so important to acknowledge. In every step and misstep, my Daddy is with me. He never stops loving me. He never stops holding me.

———-

I was talking to a mentor who asked me to lean into the worry. Who wondered out loud what would happen if the bottom actually did fall out from any or all of the pieces of my life that I worry so much about.

I pictured myself walking hand-in-hand with my God, when suddenly, the bottom disappeared from below me. But I didn’t fall. His hand was holding me up, gripping even tighter around my wrist than it had before.

My circumstances may fall apart. In fact, if life is true to form, parts of them will. And so I may always carry a bit of that fear with me. But the worry? The confidence in a future reality that makes me hedge my bets? I am giving that part up.

My confidence does not belong in my worry. My faith belongs in my Abba, who I am feeling in a new way, is right there beside me.


Giving Up… is a Lenten Series asking a question: What if we gave up more than external things for Lent? It’s not a belief that we can get rid of our baggage as easily as we can write a blog post. But, it is a belief that admitting those things that keep us from deeper intimacy with Christ is a good start. {Please note, this isn’t in any way meant to be a critique of those giving up something external. Often that is connected to the internal in a powerful way. In my case, though, I realized that the external sacrifice was hindering me from dealing with what was going on below the surface.}

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