Answered Prayer: Clean Water!

My very first official race was a 10K that represented something immense, the achievement of a goal I had never even set out to accomplish. I believe that God blesses us and we should share our blessings. And because it was such a momentous symbol of God’s incredible transformation in my life, I wanted to do something productive through the race that would help others.

So, I started a fundraiser for WaterAid, an organization that helps provide clean water and sanitation to communities around the world that are suffering from fatal yet completely preventable diseases. No child should die from diarrheal diseases or parasites when it is possible to bring them clean water.  Anyway, I digress. I started out with a goal of $5,000. .

After a few weeks of very discouraging results, I realized that I had failed to incorporate God into this effort. I was doing it for him, so to speak. But I failed to ask him to bless my efforts. So, I posted a prayer request about my fundraising effort for WaterAid through every avenue available to me, including this blog. And boy did he bless me. The $5,000 goal I began with was adjusted to $2,000 when I ended up being the sole fundraiser. I leveraged every fundraising piece of knowledge I had gained in my career to try and persuade people to support my cause.

I had no idea how difficult it would be to raise even $10. Largely with the support of my church members, especially our priest and church secretary I was able to surpass my goal amount of $2,000. It was difficult and discouraging at times, but I praise God because it led to a sense of awareness in my church community. In fact, a year later, some of the members still ask me about it.

The power of answered prayer.

People You Can’t Stand

People you can’t stand. The mutual friends that annoy you, the coworkers that are mean, the guy on the bus that gives you attitude because you sat next to him, and the people that shove you around in the crowded subways. Sometimes they are irritating blips on your life screen; other times you get caught up in a cycle of anger and resentment.

You pray and ask God to help you love them. Maybe you have to say that prayer repeatedly, in each moment that your heart rebels against the command to love them. It’s not easy to have the grace that God has. 

Just take a moment to soak that in. It gives new insight to the oft-repeated but rarely-considered line in the Lord’s prayer – “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others who have trespassed against us.” How easily we ask for God’s forgiveness yet we rarely think of the well of patience our Lord has for us.

There is a mind-blowing (if you really let your heart mull over it) lesson to learn from these interactions – how amazingly endless is the DEPTH AND BREADTH OF GOD’S LOVE & GRACE?!

*Image taken from:http://www.pktfuel.com/neighbourly-love/

Why read the Bible?

10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

– Isaiah 55:10-11

 

Translation? God’s word has power. It’s active. It achieves something. It produces fruit. Take that in for a moment.

If God’s word has power, then choose to read it, listen to it, weave it into your life so that you are never separated from it. And experience that power in full force.

Struck down but not destroyed.

struck-down-but-not-destroyedYou know that awful feeling when you’ve done something wrong? That anxious guilt at the pit of your stomach? Or the nervousness of facing the consequences and not knowing how things will turn out?

We’ve all felt the weight of sin, regardless of whether we believe in God or not. Guilt and darkness and negativity – every human being is familiar with those things at some level.

We’ve all had those moments in life when everything feels impossible – when your shoulders are weighed down by the world in a way that feels worse than anything you’ve ever known. Or when you feel stuck in a cycle you desperately want to get out of but don’t know if you can. Some might say ‘it feels worse than death’.

Imagine choosing to take that feeling for someone else; for every single sin of every single person that ever walked this earth.

Jesus did that. A perfect and pure man took on every ounce of darkness, shame, guilt,  and hopelessness from all of us, onto himself.

Can we even begin to comprehend what that felt like? He experienced absolute separation from God, our Father- our connection to hope and peace and joy. His cry on the cross was raw anguish (Matthew 27:46)!

 

All for us.

All for love.

So that even when we feel like God isn’t there, He is.

So that we never have to be separated from God, if we don’t want to be.

So that we can be free from the shackles of everything dark.

 

The story we celebrate this Sunday is one of perfect love. A love of incredible sacrifice. A love that allows us to have victory, hope, and freedom no matter where we are in life, what we’ve done, or what situation we’re facing.

That feeling worse than death? It doesn’t have to be our reality. That’s what it means when we say that Jesus overcame death for us. That’s why we can say “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

Stand on the promise of Jesus’ resurrection and know that you can trust in God’s victory in your life.

What is God’s answer?

There are times when I start to spiral out of control with my desire to know exactly what God’s will is. Even when I’ve gotten an answer, I want to know I heard God right. A friend once asked me what would make God’s will clear to me. What would tell me exactly what His answer was? I had no idea how to respond. I joked about wanting Him to write me a letter, but part of me was hoping something like that would actually happen.

Later in the day, I came across this article (Maybe God Doesn’t Care) and I was reminded that while there is no such thing as too much prayer, there is a danger in relentlessly pursuing a concrete answer. Why? Because it actually stems from a need to control; a desire to know exactly what is in store and when. Yes, we should submit to God and seek to do his will. However, we also need to trust in Him and his ability to direct us. We have to allow him to actually act and give him the reins. We can’t allow ourselves to get stuck in a never-ending cycle of doubt and worry disguised as seeking his will.

Image taken from: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6FYom8sr5L4/Ty1zdliEQyI/AAAAAAAAITE/3_vVk0I_VWQ/s1600/proverbs+3+5+6+copy.jpg

I wasn’t ready for marriage

For any of you who have thought about the “practicality” of living together or debated how ready you are for marriage, I think this post is a great reminder that you can’t control for everything. At some point, you have to take a risk and you just have to move forward. That’s not the “end all” answer for every situation, but I feel this post is a good reminder of what’s important.

The Matt Walsh Blog

I met my wife on eHarmony. I was a morning rock DJ in Delaware, she was living in Maryland and finishing up her degree. I drove two and a half hours to pick her up for our first date. I spent most of my bi-weekly paycheck on tickets to a dinner theater in Baltimore. The rest went to gas and tolls.

And that’s the way it would go for the next year and a half (minus the dinner theater part). Once a week, I’d spend money I didn’t have and drive the 260 mile roundtrip to see the love of my life. Sometimes I’d sleep for a few hours in the guest room at her mom’s house, waking up at 2AM to head back to the coast for my 5:30AM radio show.

I was very tired back then.

And broke.

Lord, was I broke.

She’d take turns driving my way, burning gas she couldn’t afford to burn and…

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I don’t understand, God.

Ecclesiastes 11:3-5

3 If clouds are full of water,

they pour rain on the earth.

Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north,

in the place where it falls, there it will lie.

In my words: It is what it is. Things will take place as intended or as designed by nature.

4 Whoever watches the wind will not plant;

whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.

In my words: How can you expect results if you’re so busy worrying about the circumstances that you don’t invest in doing the work?

 5 As you do not know the path of the wind,

or how the body is formed[a] in a mother’s womb,

so you cannot understand the work of God,

the Maker of all things.

In my words: So much is beyond our own knowledge. If we can accept that, then why can’t we acknowledge that we won’t always understand what God is up to?

Ecclesiastes 3:11

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

In my words: Maybe things don’t look so great or even interesting. Maybe you’re in an ugly situation. But perhaps, given time, that ugly situation will turn into something beautiful in God’s hands. Perhaps that not-so-interesting job or place or thing will end up becoming so much more than what you originally envisioned.  God has seen, not to mention created, all of eternity. It’s beyond our ability to comprehend.

When life feels exhausting…

Note: Text written by pursuingHISwill. Background image taken from Microsoft Clip Art.

Note: Text written by pursuingHISwill. Background image taken from Microsoft Clip Art.

Isaiah 58:11

Can an Unanswered Prayer be a Prayer Answered?

Have you ever hit a point when you can’t remember the last time you laughed wholeheartedly? When you’ve been so burdened, stressed, and frustrated that you don’t even know what to pray for anymore?

Maybe you know in your head that you’re supposed to wait on God’s plan and that he knows best. You may be aware that there are reasons that things don’t turn out the way you want. But that doesn’t necessarily make things easier.

My advice: Keep talking to God. Keep trying to get to know him and his will. Persist because it’s what you need to do and God will enable you to keep going. Sometimes he is pulling things together and he needs you to wait. Sometimes you were better off not getting what you asked for. Sometimes you grow and learn as you wait, and your prayer ends up completely changing.

Take a look at this man’s struggle to pray when he loses the ideal job; it’s a great reminder of God’s wisdom and foresight.

Disappointed by God?

What are the expectations we place on God? When things go wrong, do we grow distant from him? Do we question why he’s allowing us to go through so much pain and suffering? Do we get angry with him and rile at him? Do we ask ourselves why we even bothered praying about it when it looks like God doesn’t care?

Some advise us to keep our expectations low in life so we can protect ourselves against getting hurt. Does that apply to God? Perhaps we should be evaluating our expectations against the word of God. We need to look at our source of information on God – the Bible and our own connection with him – and then compare that to the expectations we have of God. Are we expecting his good to be based on our definition or his? When God says he has good plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), do we take that verse at face value or do we think about in context of the God we know whose wisdom goes far beyond our perspective (Romans 12:2)?

When things are falling down around us and we want to rant and rave at God because he isn’t answering us the way we want him to, we need to take a step back and consider what we know of God.

  1. God is a LOVING God. There’s no one else who loves you more.  But remember that he also loves ALL of us, even those we see as enemies.
  2. God is JUST. But his justice doesn’t necessarily look the same as it does in our minds.
  3. God is WISE. He sees a much bigger picture than we do and he knows what’s coming down the line.
  4. God is JOY and PEACE.
  5. God is PATIENT. His patience ties into his wisdom as well and that’s what we need to remember when we’re feeling impatient with him because his answer may take much longer than we think it should.
  6. God is FAITHFUL. If Jesus can die on the cross for sinners, don’t you think he will do everything in his power to honor his relationship with you?
  7. God is STRONG and ALL-POWERFUL. There is literally nothing that he can’t handle.

In addition to what we know of God’s character, we should also take into account that his plans involve us. He asks us to have the heart of a servant.

This isn’t a one-way relationship. God has a special role for each of us and in our service, people witness the love of of God. Sometimes what happens in our lives is not about us, it’s about the people around us who witness our relationships with God.

So, take a fresh look at your situation and try to see how God’s answer may tie into a greater purpose. That doesn’t mean he’s not looking out for you but it does mean he has a much broader perspective. I believe we shouldn’t lower our expectations of God, but adjust them to align with God’s character and his promises.

Read more in this blog post titled Expectations.