Trust

 
 

Never More Than You Can Handle

It’s often said that God will never give us more than we can handle. In a sense, those words can be comforting. In some ways, it seems to indicate that we won’t be taken in over our head or be burned in the fire. But it’s a complete and total lie. God never promised us that he wouldn’t give us more than we could handle, in fact he promises just the opposite. He gives us way more than we could deal with on our own, takes us deeper than our feet would wander, and perhaps singes us in the flames. That phrase comes from the verse 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God promises he will never let us be tempted beyond what we are able to bear or handle. God places a burden upon us that we can’t possibly carry on our own- and we are left with a choice. Will we try to take the load up ourselves and walk on our own? Or will we acknowledge that we can accomplish nothing in our own strength? In 2 Corinthians 12:9, we read “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul has just finished describing his struggle with what he calls a “thorn in his flesh”, we don’t know exactly what he’s referencing, but through his battle with this, he hears the voice of God speak to him the words “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. Paul concludes the verse with the phrase, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” The key is to not be strong. What do I mean? When it comes to spiritual matters, we cannot have the mindset of “suck it up, be strong, and just get through it”. That attitude puts us in control of carrying a responsibility that we can’t possibly deal with. It will never end well and it won’t make us stronger than before. It’s like trying to lift 300lbs when you can only really lift 30. Lifting that weight isn’t going to make you any stronger, in reality you’d probably end up breaking an arm. It doesn’t end well because we were not capable of lifting that weight ourselves. We must learn to be spiritually weak, so that God’s power is able to shine though us. As Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Our weakness brings our good and his glory. But don’t get me wrong, being weak doesn’t mean we stop exercising faith, in reality, it takes more faith to be spiritually weak than it does strong; this is because our weakness is a sign of humility and a sign of trust. It’s surrender. We recognize the fact that we can’t do it alone, and we roll that sense of responsibility back onto him. We place one end on the shoulder of God. God meets us at that moment when we are faced with something we can’t possibly handle, and He’s there when our faith his goodness and sometimes our faith in him run out. He quietly asks the question, “Will you let me help you?”

There are times when we must walk on the raging sea, go through the fire, or carry a burden so that, as James writes in verse 1:4, “we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” But we never have to carry it alone. God gives us more than we can handle so we turn our eyes back to him, walk with him, and watch as he does incredible things in the middle of our weaknesses. In those times where we don’t know what to say. In the times were we feel inadequate. In those moments where we are scared out of our minds to take a leap of faith and be bold. In the times where our perfectionism and our fear of failure swallows us up. In the times when the world is falling apart and you know you can’t possibly piece it back together. We give it to him. And he works it for our good and his glory. Ephesians 3:20 reminds us, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”. We can’t fathom the power that is accessible to us through the Holy Spirit. God does so so so much more than our minds can comprehend. His reserves of power never run dry. He never gets exhausted. Only when we admit to being weak can God fill us up with that kind of power. Only when we place our faith in him and trust that he’s going to pick up the other end of the load. He won’t let us carry it on our own. Only when we believe his promise in Matthew 20:28 that he will be with us always even to the end of the age, and we tell Jesus that we are through trying to get though it on our own. That we can only do things when Christ strengthens us.

What about you? Where are you? Are you caught up in trying to do things on your own? To power through one more day? To soak up some strength from who knows where? I challenge you to fall before the feet of Jesus and tell him that you’re ready to be weak. Ready to trust completely in his power and his plan, even though you don’t know what that might mean for you. Ready to trust his goodness and his sovereignty, even when things don’t seem to be good. To cast all your cares upon the one who cares for you. Because he has a purpose and a plan even when you can’t see it, and it’s to prosper and not to harm, it’s a plan to glorify him, it’s a plan that means the best for you and will give you hope and a future. Do you truly trust him? Be weak. God has promised to never give you more than He can handle.

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Don’t Fill in the Blank

“There are times when you cannot understand why you cannot do what you want to do. When God brings the blank space, see that you do not fill it in, but wait.”

-Oswald Chambers

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So often I find that God has erased all my plans for the future and given me a clean slate. A blank space. And the hardest part is looking at that space and realizing that I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next. I naturally want to fill it in. And many times I do. The space that was a clean work area for God to make and mold and move me becomes a cluttered mess of notations, desires, plans, and calculations. If you ask me, I’ll tell you I know where I’m headed; but that’s about the time God comes along with an eraser and wipes away each one of those ideas. He again gives me the space that begs the question: “Do you trust me?”. I’ll say that I do, and I might even wait a few days for God to do something. But eventually my patience wears thin. I wind up with a metaphorical expo marker in my hand. And I’m drawing something new. Why?

Part of the reason is that there has to be the seamless unity of believing and doing. I must say that I trust God to fill it in when He wants to, and then prove that I trust him by waiting on his timing and not filling in that blank space myself. It’s not that my plans are necessarily bad plans. I might have been planning to go to India and be a missionary for the rest of my life. It was the fact that God has something different and God has something better and I have to still myself and wait for him to give me direction. I should never run before God’s guidance. When he takes the time to erase my plans, it means I should take the time to wait on his plans.

Right now, I have a blank space. Not to long ago God erased all of those plans I had made and began to show me why they weren’t part of his plan. I wanted to do this to please this person. I wanted to go there to meet that person. I wanted to stay here to become this version of myself. I had hidden intentions in each one of those carefully crafted ideas. And God saw those, even when I couldn’t. . He penetrated through the murkiness of my imagination and sorted the stuff I had piled on top of my plans to make them seem more appealing. He showed me what he was seeing as I sang “Wherever He Leads I’ll Go”.  Sometimes following God’s will means waiting on him to fill in those blank spaces in His timetable; not yours.  His will for our lives isn’t some incomprehensible theory that we have to struggle and strain to somehow get on board or grab a glimpse of. He says in Leviticus 19:2 “…Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.”

When we wake up committed to following him and growing in him, we become more like him each passing day. His will isn’t for the future, it’s for now. It’s that process of maturing in holiness and righteousness that sets us walking in the right direction, in his will for our lives. Even when we may only see a blank space in front of us, rest assured that God has plans for it, and wait for his guidance. Don’t rush to fill in the blank. “When God brings the blank space, see that you do not fill it in, but wait.”

Categories: Bible, blank, Change, christianity, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, learning, space, Trust, waiting | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

The Following: Leading Well (Part 2)

Proverbs 14:28 (MSG)

28 The mark of a good leader is loyal followers;
leadership is nothing without a following.

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This is the second lesson that God is teaching me regarding leadership. The verse really speaks for itself, you are not a good leader if you have no followers. It makes a lot of sense, you don’t to talk to people you don’t want to hear speak. You don’t hang out with people you don’t like. You don’t follow people who don’t lead well. Because this next year, everything will be new to me, I will see how many people follow me.

I will post things about Youth camp later this summer, but I wanted to shine a light on the commitment that I made to my youth group while I was there. Each night, we would have a worship session and then the speaker would stand up and give the message. That night, the message centered on this question, will you be able to walk across a graduation and have people say about you, I can follow her because he/she follows Christ. He/She constantly seeks after what God desires of him/her and I know that he/she is going to be on the right track, I know I can follow him/her because of their relationship and closeness with Christ.

My youth pastor posed this question, and what I heard was a call for leaders to rise up in the youth group. I stood. It is a big responsibility to have an entire youth group looking up to you and watching your actions to see if Christ is evident in your life, but for a while I could hear God calling me to do something more with my youth ministry. The teens in the youth group were being poured into, but it was hard to tell if they were pouring anything out. It was time to start a revolution, beginning with me, because I was willing to let God use me to change the church attitude both in myself and in others. I asked for accountability, because if I’m leading, not only do I need people following but people alongside me to point out things in my life and bluntly tell me; Mackenzie, if you carry this on any longer, you are going to be leading people into sin.

I’ve been gone for most of the summer, and I haven’t had a chance to notice if my commitment had produced any followers. I may not ever see the people who seek after Christ because my relationship with him changed them. I hope I will be able to look back across the graduation stage and look back at people who have followed me as I followed Christ and know that even as I step out into the real world, I will continue after what he asks of me with all I am, no matter the cost.

I want to be able to lead the people at my school this next year and the people in my youth group this summer and for the rest of my high school years, and if I notice that I have no followers, I know it’s time to back off and let someone else do the leading, while I follow.  With Christ at the center of everything I do, I want to lead people to walk in his ways, and get up people out of the pew and onto the road. If you always live your spiritual life in one place with no risks, you’ve never really lived at all. And besides, I need some followers. You can’t lead if no one is following.

Categories: Change, christianity, Church, communication, encouragement, Faith, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, leadership, learning, life, people, purpose, School, students, summer, teens, Trust, Uncategorized, words, youth group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments
 
 

Learning to Listen

I’m a chatterbox. There is the plain truth in black and white. If someone asks me how I am, I’ll tell them. They will hear much more about my life than they ever wanted to. It’s comical really. But I also have a tendency to be a chatterbox to God. I talk and talk and talk about my problems. Why this, why that, I wonder about this, I wonder about that, on and on and on. It’s good to pray. It’s good to talk. But sometimes all the talking drowns out what the other person is trying to say and you miss something important. When my mouth isn’t moving, there is something wrong with me physically. When my heart is talking, there is something wrong with me spiritually.

Why is there something wrong with me spiritually? It’s because I’ve completely ignored what God is trying to tell me. I’ve interrupted and kept talking. “Be still, and know that I am God.” For me, God is trying to tell me in that verse to stop being such a chatterbox and just quiet down and listen. He is God! He holds the entire world and my problems are nothing compared to him. One of the first steps toward having gentle and quiet spirit is to be quiet. Many of my friends are quiet people. That leaves me to do most of the talking. But when me and another friend both like to talk, it creates serious communication issues. You try to talk at the same time and all the words are jumbled together. When you tried to say “my fish is sick” and they tried to say, “I bought some tuna” you wind up with something like “my tuna fish is some stick”; not at all what you were trying to get across. It’s the same thing with God, though with a not nearly as funny outcome.

When you talk so much you can’t hear God, your almost saying “what I have to say is so much more important that what you have to say, therefore you must listen to me before I’ll hear anything from you.” It’s a detrimental spiritual disease called selfishness. It grows in your soul and has to be weeded out by a professional gardener; otherwise, it spreads and you think you are entitled to everything because the world revolves around you and what you want. This is what I’ve done when I needed to listen to God. Because I don’t, I wind up completely and utterly confused and lost. Because I don’t focus on his directions, I lose sight of the way he wants me to walk. Being quiet takes practice; it takes vigorous spiritual exercise to listen. When all you want to do is tell God about your problems, you forget that he is trying to tell you how to fix them. Spiritual chatterboxes don’t make strong Christians; they make confused Christians who have a selfish slant to their lives.

Praying is a wonderful thing. But prayer is a conversation, not a journal you’re keeping. With prayer, you talk to be heard and you talk to be answered. Spiritual talking is almost like a cheat prayer. You just talk to talk and whether anyone responds isn’t your concern. Each trial we face in our lives, is for us to learn from, whether we want to learn or not. The trials build up our faith and the more you learn from it, the stronger you faith becomes. But how much you learn depends on how much you listen.

Categories: Bible, Change, chatterbox, christianity, communication, converstions, encouragement, Faith, garden, God, God, hearing, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Journals, learning, life, listening, love, people, prayer, reality, relationships, selfishness, speech, Thoughts, Trust, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

My Future Husband

While Valentine’s Day and New Years are very much different, I have resolutions to be the best fiancee. I read at least five verses in Proverbs about not being a nagging spouse. About how living with a nagging spouse is worse than listening to a leaky faucet and how it would be better to live in a cabin alone than to live with a nagging spouse in a mansion. Ouch. While I’m not married yet, I have the best future husband ever! This is the long post where I tell you all about him. But really, it’s too short to began to describe how awesome he is.

He asked me to marry him when I was six years old. And, of course, I said yes. We then began growing our relationship even more and began planning our wedding. He told me about a place he knew where we would have our wedding. It sounded so beautiful, I couldn’t help but agree. I almost didn’t believe him, except for the fact that he never lies to me.

I met his dad, and absolutely loved him. He remains just like a father to me and I usually tell him all about my problems. Did you know he is both a counselor and a doctor? His dad is a pretty good teacher as well, so my future husband has the gift in his genes. His dad lives in the place where we will have our wedding. I told him, “It must be so wonderful because you live there.” He most definitely agreed with me.

My future husband writes me letters all the time. Sometimes I don’t feel like I have the time to read them, but his dad told me that you make time for what is most important in your life. It made me feel guilty about the things I hadn’t read yet. My future husband never forgets to tell me how much he loves me and how he thinks I am the most beautiful girl in all the universe. He writes me songs and sings them to me and makes sure that I always feel loved. He shows me where I am wrong and tells me gently how to fix it. Sometimes, I let him be the handy man and fix it for me. There are some things that are beyond what I can do to repair.

He tells me not to be a nagging wife and trust him always because he knows best. That’s hard. My future husband doesn’t want me to drive the car, he wants to drive it for me so he knows that I am safe under his watch. He hugs me when things go wrong so I know I am safe in his arms. He tells me to dream big, because his dad can do anything, but not to dream so big that I lose sight of what really matters. Because it’s more important to have a bunch of people move to where his dad lives and see the wedding, than it is to make a big show of how many decorations we will have.

My future husband loves me so much that he moved away from his dad to come and ask me to marry him. At first his dad wouldn’t allow it, but my future husband gave me a red dress to wear while I’m around his dad, and now his dad has forgotten all the bad things that I did to soil his honor. But that red dress cost a fortune. My future husband had to pay a lot to give that dress away. It cost his life. He loved me enough to do something like that. I didn’t think I was worth it. But he told me that I was chosen, and no one can take me away from him, because I belonged to him and him alone.

My future husband moved back to where his dad lived . But he never forgot me and still writes me letters. Sometimes, I forget about him and the price he paid to have me. I find exciting things that live around me and I forget about my future husband. They become more important to me than my future husband. And my future husband gets mad, well… not mad, jealous. They never paid as much for me as he did, and he tells me that. We go to marriage counseling with his dad and I tell my future husband how sorry I am. I broke the contract we had, I shrugged off that red dress like it was nothing. I never expected to be forgiven. But I was.

My future husband loves me in spite of what I’ve done. He tells me that he still loves me and always will. He says I’m beautiful. My future husband never gave me a diamond ring. My eternal valentine never gave me a box of chocolates, a necklace, or a rose for Valentine’s Day. He gave me him, and that’s all I will ever need.

My future husband and I are getting married when I move up to heaven and all the wedding guests have arrived. They’ll ring the bells and the service will start. The best food will be served and we’ll all be praising him and his dad. My future husband’ s name is Jesus and we hope you’ll come to our wedding. My future husband… he’s awesome.

Categories: beauty, Bible, christianity, Church, encouragement, Faith, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, looks, love, Moving, people, prayer, purpose, reality, relationships, teens, Thoughts, Trust, Valentine's Day, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Speechless

I’m not often speechless… or wordless. Words are so natural for my person; most everything I’m good at has something to do with words. Being speechless is not something I like. Having the right words to say at the right time is something I find confidence in, something that I can lean back onto when most other people don’t know what to say. Very few things have left me speechless. I was left without words again this week; at a time when I counted on them to get me through a conversation.

I was shocked into reality by a truth this week. My imaginative, optimistic self doesn’t like to come into agreement with reality sometimes. It would much rather stay where it’s comfortable off in la-la land somewhere prancing happily around like nothing is ever wrong. But sometimes there’s no other way to come to agreement with reality without facing it head-on. This time, I didn’t have a choice whether to face it or not, I was forced to. God wanted me to see that some of the most perfect-seeming people are struggling, broken people just like I am; and I was shocked. Not that I think less of them because of it, not even that I don’t want to talk to them for a few days because of it. I was just shocked, speechless, wordless, while I processed that fact that my mental images had been shattered into a million pieces. That a person I thought I knew, I really didn’t know at all.

Not that it hurt me to sweep up the glass image; I needed the blunt truth shoved into my face in order to realize that God is doing something great with my life. Something so much bigger than myself and “Mackenzie’s World”. That I need to step out of myself sometimes and realize that people are hurting around me and I’m doing nothing more than staring blankly at their lives. Loving people for who they are, in spite of what they’ve done isn’t easy. I can only imagine how hard it is for God to look at my life and still love me in spite of some of some of the things I’ve done. I’ve broken his heart a thousand times, and he’s never left me. The thought of someone willingly dying for me is beyond crazy. Who would want to? It’s sad to think someone could love me that deeply and I brush him off as if finding that sort of love happens every day.

What am I supposed to say to a person who has gone through something I can hardly comprehend? I have to say something! But like before, I’m speechless. I’m wordless. No encouraging words will come. They all sound fake, like a person saying, “Don’t cry it’s going to be okay” when they’ve just lost their legs. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to say? “Everything is going to be all right”? It sounds fake. They’ve heard it a million times but hardly anyone knows what it’s like to be in their place. You’ve just spoken a bunch of empty words. People talking because they don’t know what to say when faced with that sort of thing. People talking because they don’t want to be left…speechless. It’s as if a giant elephant sat down in your lap and you have no idea what to do with it now that it’s there. It ruins a conversation.

This week, I need prayer. I need the right words to say when I’m speechless. I need to be encouraging when all I can think to do is slump in a chair and process the words. I need God to show me just how to trust him for words and not my brain. I’ll finish with a letter from Paul to Corinth.

2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (MSG)

We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.

Categories: Bible, christianity, Corinthians, elephants, encouragement, Faith, God, hearing, life, love, people, perfection, prayer, purpose, reality, relationships, shock, speech, Thoughts, Trust, Uncategorized, words | Tags: | 5 Comments

Attempting to Understand

I enjoy listening to Christmas songs in the middle of the summer and ice cream in the middle of winter. I enjoy dreaming a of snowflakes falling softly on my tongue outside my house back in Texas, as a 4 year old girl who had no cares in the world. I enjoy going back in time to where we snuggled in blankets and drank hot chocolate while watching the fire dance for us. I love looking back at the memories of summers and winters. And just as summer is the opposite of winter I seem to have seasons of my life where I realize I’m not the same person I was all those years ago. I long to go back in time, to Texas, back to when life was merely love and fun and nothing more, but life goes on and I find myself reading bible verses like “…content with who they are and where they are, unanxious, they’ll live at peace.” Time rushes on…but I dream that the memories I made will be retold for generations, and so I will never be forgotten, just as my own memories haven’t been forgotten. I know others won’t remember, but my memories that are held in the deepest reaches of my heart are forever alive, as long as I am.
I try to forget and put the past behind me, but it comes back up anyways. Maybe that’s why the Lion King always makes me cry. The songs I used to sing…the games we used to play on the rusty playground equipment…. I don’t think I’ve changed all that much… I find that I can cry myself to sleep over something that happened nearly five years ago…why haven’t I let go? I feel like the only person in the world who has ever held on so dearly to something you know you can’t control. But why? I still ask God that question. I know there is obviously a reason, but where is it, why can’t I focus on that? So why did we move? I realize that it would have been the same in Texas but why? Let go how? Forget how? Or maybe I’m supposed to remember…
It’s been a rather rough journey when it came to God attempting to teach me why I am here instead of the place I would rather be, Texas. I still find it hard to cope with, even though it’s been 5 years, on my birthday (yes, we moved from Texas to here on my 8th birthday). I don’t really know why it’s been difficult, I guess I had made so many memories there and then was told, “okay, now everything you knew here, you’re going to leave behind you because we are moving and none of your tears are going to change that fact”. I’m a person who hates change, I like everything to be kept normal and under control all the time. Everything here seems to bring up something else that I used to know there. I tried so hard to get myself to understand why I was here. And that was one of the main problems. I trusted myself. I tried to do it on my own. To, let you know, it didn’t work. I just felt more miserable. I found this verse:
Content with who they are and where they are,
unanxious, they’ll live at peace.”
Zephaniah 3:13 MSG

I got, as well as I could , what God was telling me. Sometimes he takes away things that means a lot, only to give you something better, than will mean even more. “Content with who they are and where they are…” I know there is a reason, a deeper reason than just the fact that my dad got a new job 5 years ago, it could possibly be that it all happened so that I could make an impact here. I have no idea why God needed me here, and at this time. But there is always a reason. And I just wrote down whatever came to mind in that moment. I have a feeling there was some reason that God wanted you to hear that.
Even from looking at the pictures, not only are the sunsets better in Texas, but in my memories, life is too. It seemed that my friends there were having a fine time of life there and I wish with all my heart that I could be back in Texas. God wants me here for a reason, though it is hard to understand exactly what it is. Then again, it’s not up to me to understand God’s plans, all I have to do is follow them. Sounds easy, right? Much easier than planning it out on my own. Funny thing is, I like to know where everything leads. I have trust problems. It bothers me that I can’t ever seem to trust completely in God’s power so I’ll keep trying. It won’t be easy for me, but that’s the great thing in giving it to God.

(This post was part word-document-journal entry, part letter. It was something that I found hard to deal with at the time but I tell you with great joy that God came through, as always. It reminded me how much I don’t know and how much he does. I’m positive now that it’s the best thing for me to be here. Although Texas needs me, Georgia needs me even more. I haven’t gotten all the reasons put into place just yet, mainly because there’s too many to count. I started to wonder; it could be that my Dad getting a new job was as much for me to minister to my social circle as it was for him to minister to college students. We have been here 6 years now, and I couldn’t wish for anything better. Keep up the faith 🙂 )

Categories: Bible, Change, Faith, God, Journals, Moving, Replacment, Texas, Trust, Uncategorized | Tags: | 6 Comments

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