It’s in the Practice

Thinking back on all she had learned, she felt frustrated. And a little bit sad.

She knew God loved her.

She knew He was with her every moment.

She knew He was looking out for her and had a purpose for her life.

She knew He was faithful and trustworthy and powerful.

 

So why, with all this knowledge, was she unable to apply it to her day to day life? Why was she so ready to doubt? Why was just trusting Him so hard?

 

“Lord,” she prayed. “Tell me how to transform my head knowledge into heart knowledge. How do I trust You?”

“By doing what I say. By trying and falling and trying again.”IMG_20180423_204508177_TOP

“That doesn’t sound fun.”

“It’s like learning to walk. You will learn slowly. And sometimes it’s painful. But you have to do it. It won’t happen automatically.”

“Why can’t it?”

“Because I didn’t design you that way. If growth came automatically, it wouldn’t mean much.”

“I guess that’s true. Some of the things I value the most are the things I worked hardest at. At it would be easy to take faith for granted if we never had to think about it.”

“Exactly. And every step you take towards deeper faith pleases your Father greatly.”

“Well, I do want to please Him in everything I do. I guess growing faith fits right in. OK. So how do I take these steps?”

“Put into practice what you read and…”

“All of it? Really? I’ve read so many conflicting ideas and suggestions and beliefs.”

“Listen for Me when you read. You’ll know then what to put into practice.”

“I think I do recognize You sometimes as I read. It’s like my heart does a flip or sometimes grows warm. Or sometimes the words jump off the page at me.”

“Yes, different ways, to keep you on your toes.”

“Is that it?”

“No, You must also put into practice all that I say to you. And yes, all!”

“Even the hard things? And the scary things?”

“You don’t need to fear. I won’t tell you to do anything that you’re not ready to do.”

“What if I make a mistake in hearing from You? What if I think You said to do something, but I heard wrong?”

“That will happen at times. Stay humble, come to me, and I’ll take care of you. I’ll either cover for you or I’ll show you how to fix it.”

“But if I’m going to be wrong sometimes, how can I trust enough to act on it?”

“Don’t doubt but believe. As you act, as you practice taking these steps, you will get better and your faith will grow stronger. ”

“And You will be with me?”

“Every step of the way. I will not let you down.”

She thought about what He said. Although she wasn’t thrilled about the falls she would make over time, she was always thrilled when He spoke to her. And this time was no exception. “Thank You, Lord, for speaking to me and for Your amazing promises!  I will practice as You say. And I look forward to the day when my trust in You is no longer just in my head, but has truly taken up residence in my heart!”

A Rose of Affirmation

She was feeling down. Again. Seems she was always feeling down these days.

Her first year walking with Jesus had been amazing. Full of surprises  and discoveries. This second year so far has not been like that. She seemed to be frequently plagued with self-doubts and confusion.

This latest doubt centered on the baptism experience everyone seemed to be talking about. The Holy Spirit baptism. One of incredible joy and power. Or so she had been told. She had yet to experience that for herself. She knew the drill. Ask for the baptism. Get someone to lay hands on her and pray along with her. Yield to the Holy Spirit. Then He comes in with all His glory. Or at least as much of it as humans can take.

She had done all that. Several times. She never felt any of the joy people spoke of. In fact, she never felt anything, and she didn’t feel any different now than before all those prayers. So, what was the problem? Certainly it couldn’t be with the Holy Spirit. It had to be with her. She must be defective somehow. So how could she be an effective witness for God if she was not even capable of receiving this baptism? And how could she pray or worship God if she was this defective? How could He even be even a little pleased with her when she was so broken?

She was desperate to talk to someone about this. To open up and share her doubts and feelings. But she was alone. She asked the Lord to bring someone into her life who she could discuss this with her, help her make sense of it all, but no one came.

So on this night, she went to bed with her thoughts and doubts and feelings swirling around in her head.  As she thought about everything that had happened to her since her encounter with Jesus the year before, she fell asleep. When she awoke, she was surprised to find a pleasant feeling of relief had replaced the confused desperation of the night before. It was as if she had talked out her doubts and fears with someone while she slept.

“You did. With Me.” But she didn’t hear the quiet whisper as she prepared for the day.

A little while later, her eyes grew wide as she saw the rose one of her students was carrying. The rose was the biggest and prettiest she had ever seen. And it had just been handed to her! She was speechless!

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In the past, in that first year of exciting experiences, many times  after she had struggled between God and her doubts and had chosen to believe God, she would receive a gift from someone the next day. She had come to see those gifts as a pat on the back from God for making the right decision.

So she knew this amazing rose came from her amazing God! The student may have handed it to her, but she knew it was really God Himself handing her the rose. And in her spirit, she could hear Him say, “How can you say I am not pleased with you? You are my daughter! I am well pleased with you. You are OK just the way you are!”

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