My Joy to Honor Him

My joy

I had a muddled view of God throughout most of my teenage years. I believed in Him, but I had no clue how deeply He loved me. Because of some of my life experiences, a part of me even thought that I had to earn His love.

I was often viewed as the “responsible girl” who made all the right choices. I was very much of a “people-pleaser” and a perfectionist. And while the face I presented to the world might have been one of a girl who “had it all together,” the truth is—I did not.

On the inside I was confused and hurting. I yearned for love and affirmation, but I often felt like I didn’t measure up. I tried to earn acceptance by doing the right things and striving to be beautiful in the eyes of the world. I was living with a “you have to earn it” mentality, rather than living under God’s grace.

When I was 18 years old, God got a hold of my attention in a gentle yet very noticeable way. I realized that while I believed in Him, I wasn’t following Him with all of my heart—I wasn’t following His path for my life because I was trying to do things my own way. My heart was unfulfilled, and I longed to be satisfied. It was during that season of my life that I chose to fully surrender every part of me to the Lord. I stopped chasing after an illusion, and I decided to start trusting Him.

About 13 years have passed since that time, and my feet are now planted on the path of life. I have experienced the joy and peace that comes from allowing Jesus to be Lord of my life.

I no longer believe the lie that I have to earn His love. Instead, I believe that His love is unconditional and never ceasing. I know that He loves me just as I am. I know that His grace is always enough for me. I know that He is faithful and trustworthy. His promises are deeply rooted in my heart and no one can steal that away from me.

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God transformed my mind and my heart. I went from being a girl who believed that I had to “earn” God’s approval, to becoming a woman who thrives in God’s unconditional love and grace. God healed my heart with His love. God calmed my fears with His love. God crushed the lies with His love. God gave me hope with His love.

And now it is…

My joy to honor Him. And not because I have to. But because I get to.

When I think about how God chose to pour out His love on this world by allowing His only Son to hang on the Cross and take our place, I can’t help but want to honor Him. He’s my King and I love Him. It’s not a chore to honor Him—it’s a privilege. My life has been changed by His love and I trust that He knows what is best for me. His Word, the Bible, is full of truth and wisdom—and it’s not meant to be a book of rules. It’s meant to point us in the direction of Him and His love. He desires to bring good to our lives. And if He asks us to stay away from something, it’s out of His great love for us. He doesn’t want us to choose the things that He knows will harm us.

Jesus said this to His disciples shortly before His death:

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”

~John 15:9-11 (NLT)

True joy comes from abiding in God’s love. And we can have joy at all times, because unlike happiness, it doesn’t depend on our circumstances. Obedience to God is not always easy. Sometimes it means that we will look very different than the rest of the world. Sometimes we will loose friends because of our faith. Sometimes we will be stretched beyond the realms of our comfort zone.

But remember all that Jesus experienced during His ministry here on earth. He was mocked, He was rejected, He was betrayed…He was crucified. And He endured it all for us. He understands it all, and if we remain in Him, He will help us every single step of the way. His love will give us the strength we need to endure the bumps in the road.

Understanding God’s love changes everything. It changed my heart. It changed my thoughts. It changed my perspective. It changed my attitude. It changed my actions. It changed my entire life because it gave me ‘new life’ in Him. God continues to renew me, and as He does, day by day…

It is my joy to honor Him. 

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

~Galatians 2:19-21 (NKJV)

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hannah

(C) 2014 Pocketful of Motherhood

Glorious Tears

 

tears

One day God will wipe every tear away. What do you think that means?

Someone asked me that question many years ago. It captured my attention and caused me think more in depth about tears than ever before. I knew that the Bible spoke of how there will be an end to our pain one day. Yet I had never imagined what it might look like when God wipes all of our tears away.

10 years later, that question continues to spring up in my mind occasionally. Along this journey I have grown to realize that our tears matter to God because they are an expression of how our hearts feel. And God cares passionately about our hearts.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. ~Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

Tears are often associated with sadness, and the above verse seems to be referring to sorrowful tears. Although there are times when tears are a response to joy, such as on a wedding day or when a child is born. And the Bible says that God catches all of our tears, and one day He will wipe away all of our tears.

Our tears must be valuable if God is keeping track of each one.

Whether our tears are born out of deep sorrow or whether they flow from the delightful moments, God is paying attention to each tear we shed. And He is a God who works all things together for our good. He can intertwine the dark valley’s and the mountain top experiences of our lives, to create goodness.

My feet have trudged through the dark valley’s. I have swam through rivers of tears, only to awaken with puffy eyes the next morning. My heart has throbbed from witnessing the awful injustices in our world. I have wrestled through piercing disappointments and seasons of discouragement. My pillow has been soaked in sorrow because of the things in this life that just don’t make sense. I have felt alone, broken and just plain hurt.

And God has caught each pain-filled tear.

My feet have also been planted on magnificent mountain tops. I have twirled through raindrops of unspeakable joy. My feet have danced in puddles of grace and mercy. I have been soaked in the beauty of discovering that I am a daughter of the One True King. I have felt amazed, awestruck and grateful for blessings that I do not deserve.

And God has caught each joy-filled tear.

Our tears matter to God because He cares for us—His beloved creation. Not a single tear is wasted with Him. He is weaving together our sorrows and smiles to create something beautiful. He turns our dark ashes into glimmering beauty.

One day He will wash away all of our tears. And I imagine that as He does, something glorious will be revealed.  Something radiant will shine brightly. Something breathtaking will glisten. Something refreshing will satisfy our souls. Pain and sorrow will be no more. Darkness will be no more.

A stream of glorious tears will freely flow.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

~1 Corinthians 4:16-18

hannah

(C) 2014 Pocketful of Motherhood

*Above Photo adapted from here

Where is your Trust?

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What would you rather trust in?

Something that is always changing, unpredictable and full of momentary pleasures…

OR

Someone who is always faithful, perfect in love and full of eternal hope.

Easy answer, right? The second choice.

God is always faithful, perfect in love and He alone offers us eternal hope. Doesn’t that sound like good news? Doesn’t that sound like someone worth getting to know?

It does to me.

So why are there still so many people that have a difficult time trusting in God?

Well for one thing, we can’t see God {at least not yet}. It takes faith to believe that God exists.

There’s another thing too—The father of lies. He slithers around looking to prey on his next victim. He hates everything good. He knows the ending to the story. Love wins and evil dies. His motive is to destroy lives, to create divisions and to pollute our minds with anything but truth.

This father of lies, he’s in this world too. No we can’t see him either, but he wants to keep us as far away from God as possible. He’s sneaky and manipulative. He disguises things to make them look appealing, knowing that those things will actually only bring pain. He wants us to choose the things of this world that can bring momentary happiness, rather than clinging to a God who has something SO much better in store for us.

I’ve chosen momentary pleasures in my life. I’ve had my “happy” moments. And I’m not here to tell you that there is anything wrong with being happy.

But happiness has an end. It’s based on happenings. When things are going good, you’re happy…but when things are going bad, those happy feelings fade.

God offers us something different. He offers JOY. Everlasting joy. He wants our lives to be filled with joy. When things are going good we can have joy…and when things are going bad, we can have joy too.

Things in this world are always changing, but God doesn’t change. His promises don’t change. So the joy that He offers can remain constant in our lives, even when our circumstances are changing. Joy doesn’t always mean a smile on our face. Sometimes joy is just knowing that there is hope in God.

When the tides are raging, when heartache hits, when the gloomy seasons seem to last forever…we can still have joy. We can have joy because of the hope and promise of better things. We can have joy because we know that one day God will wipe every tear away. We can have joy because God’s promises are true and one day He will set things right. We can have joy because through His Son, Jesus Christ, we can live in paradise with Him one day…FOREVER.

You see, the enemy is weak. The only chance he really has, is the power we give to him. He wants to hide the message of real hope that is found through trusting in God. The enemy wants us to look to this world for fulfillment, so that we are distracted away from hearing the “good news” and experiencing the freedom that news offers. For those of us who already have the good news in our hearts, he wants to keep us from sharing the truth with others.

Don’t let the enemy win that battle. Don’t be afraid to speak up and share the truth with a world that so desperately needs to the hear a message of hope.

All the good things I have in my life now, I have because God has graciously given them to me. I can enjoy life because of the Life-Giver. His plans for me are good, and His plans for you are good too. Putting my trust in Him is the best decision I ever made.

That doesn’t mean my life has always been easy. I have walked through seasons of deep sorrow and pain, but I’ve never traveled alone. God has always been with me. He reminds me of the hope of better things to come. I have have a joy in my heart from Him, that no circumstance {good or bad} can steal away from me. Only HE can offer that kind of joy. Only HE can offer a peace that passes all understanding. Only HE can offer true freedom and the gift of Eternal Life.

So I ask you again.

What would you rather trust in?

Something that is always changing, unpredictable and full of momentary pleasures…

OR

Someone who is always faithful, perfect in love and full of eternal hope.

Where is your trust? Are you struggling to keep your head above water in an unstable world, or are your feet firmly planted on the rock of God?

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But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. [Jeremiah 17:17, NLT]

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Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. [John 14:27, NIV]

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Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.  [Psalm 25:5]

hannah

(C) 2013 Pocketful of Motherhood

*photo credit