Have you ever thought that someone was angry with you when they actually weren’t? They just had something going on in their own life that made them appear distant. Or maybe you hadn’t heard from a friend for a long time and you deduced they no longer want to be a part of your life, when in reality they were in a difficult season requiring total focus.
Sometimes what we think is not always what it is.
This week, I was reading in 1 Chronicles 19 where the King of the Ammonites, Nahash, died, and Israel’s King David wanted to show kindness to Nahash’s son, Hanun, upon the death of his father. David sent messengers to the land of Ammon to comfort Hanun. But Hanun listened to the wrong voices. His princes said, “Do you think that David really honors your father because he has sent comforters to you? Did his servants not come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?” (NKJV) So Hanun decided to humiliate David’s servants by shaving them, and cutting off their garments in the middle, exposing them on their backsides. David’s loving intentions were misinterpreted, eventually leading to a war that David’s army won.
Sometimes what we think is not always what it is. Our wrong thinking can lead to worse situations like what happened with the Ammonites.
If you are spiraling—without all the facts—it’s important to go to prayer about what you are thinking. It’s also good to have a gentle conversation with whomever you think has wronged you. It’s the best way to find out and face the truth.
Remember Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (NIV). It’s always best to give the benefit of the doubt and think the best until you actually know what’s going on.
Do you label people for the bad they’ve done—or the good?
Most of us remember the disciple, Peter, for the fact that he denied Jesus three times in the courtyard as Jesus stood trial. Here’s the account:
“One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, ‘You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.’ But Peter denied it. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed. When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, ‘This man is definitely one of them!’ But Peter denied it again. A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said ‘You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.’ Peter swore, ‘A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!’ and Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.’ And he broke down and wept.”
On the surface, this scenario looks like failure and weakness on Peter’s part. How could he deny Jesus, knowing what he knows and after seeing what he saw for the past three years?
But what I realized while reading this passage this week, is that Peter was the bravest of all the disciples. He actually made himself vulnerable by going to where Jesus was on trial. There was no mention of the other disciples being there because they were probably still in hiding. Peter was brave enough to be in the courtyard, most likely close enough so he could hear the proceedings.
After seeing Peter from a different perspective, I realized I needed to give this future bold man of faith a break. If I had been in that band of early disciples, I know the courtyard outside Jesus’s trial would have been the last place I would have gone for fear of being arrested. Who am I to judge Peter?
So this can apply to current day. Sometimes we expect too much of our religious leaders and we are quick to judge when there is a chink in the armor. Maybe it makes us feel better to be critical, because deep down, we know we could never do what they do.
Perhaps today is the day to look at any perceived weaknesses in our faith leaders from a different perspective. Peter did not stay in that place of rejection for long. As we know, he became one of the boldest disciples who was not afraid to proclaim the truth. He was eventually martyred for his beliefs. The failure at the courtyard represents the failure that we all experience as we follow Jesus. Some days we are closer than others. Other times we are in hiding. Over the years I know there have been times when I, too, have denied Jesus. But I am thankful that my past rejections do not define who I am as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8)
Summer should be a time of rest. A time when we grow spiritually because we have more leisure time to stick our nose in an inspirational book or expand our quiet time in the morning. But what I’ve found is that the summer can be one of the driest times both weather-wise and spiritually.
I’m not sure why this happens, but it may be because we travel during the summer and we get out of our patterns of connecting with God. For myself, over the past few weeks, I was immersed in a convention, spent a week in Hawaii, and I’m now speaking out of town this weekend. Quiet times can be rushed—one-on-one conversations with God can be timed and brief.
So it’s during these stretches that we have to be more intentional about connecting. We have to trust God even in the dry seasons. Trust can be a discipline.
I’m still personally struggling with the fact that I thought I was hearing God correctly about a recent scenario, but discovered I was wrong. Instead of retreating into even drier land when I am disappointed that I did not hear His voice correctly, I have to trust that God sees the bigger picture, that He is a good God and there is purpose in everything. Sometimes the answers will come much later.
We also have to pray that the Holy Spirit will refresh us during the dry times spiritually. This morning, I prayed that He would fill me and that I would experience His presence today. Although I don’t feel as connected, on faith I am certain the LORD will answer my prayer. I also know that I need a day totally immersed in God’s word and prayer in order to saturate the dry land. I am looking for an opening on my calendar and will book an all-day appointment with God.
So if you are also feeling a bit dry on your spiritual journey, be intentional about reconnecting. Don’t pull away further. Be sure to trust God even though He seems very far away. I promise—the dry season will come to an end.
I hate letting people down and desire to honor commitments. James 5:12 says, “…let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation” (ESV)
But some things are simply out of our control.
After my husband Jeff and I spent a wonderful few days in Fair Hope, Alabama celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary, it was time for us to return home. I had a speaking engagement at a live event the next day at lunch, so it was important to get back.
However, a massive storm system hovered over Alabama spawning destructive tornadoes across the state. It was not safe for our 5:00 p.m. flight back to Texas to depart. After countless delays, the crew eventually timed out and the flight was canceled—rescheduled for 7:30 a.m. the next morning.
I began to calculate how I would still make it to my speaking engagement. Okay, once arriving at DFW, we can retrieve our bags, and my husband can drive me to the location, and I can still speak. But when the 7:30 a.m. flight was also cancelled, I knew it was over. I could not honor my commitment.
So the question at that point was: “Do I continue to fret about what I cannot control or do I let it go?”
That may be a question for all of us. What situation is out of control in your life? Do you dwell on it 24/7 or do you release it to God?
In my case, as sad as I was about missing the luncheon, I had to let it go, and I had to trust God. I literally thought, I do not understand why this happened, but I trust you. I thought that maybe there was a divine appointment at the airport or an opportunity to share the Gospel with someone. Nothing like that happened, but in those many hours at the airport (it took us about 35 hours to get home) I was able to complete my schoolwork, so that was a positive.
When life presents something we cannot control, it’s important to turn it over to God because as Acts 17:28 says, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” Our heavenly Father may be wanting to see if we trust Him even when a scenario doesn’t make sense.
A college friend texted me this week. Mary Ann and I have many similarities. We are both in ministry, were athletes in college, in the same sorority. We also shared some of the same friends—but it was our fatherlessness that was probably the glue to our friendship. We understood each other’s loss. Her text noted the anniversary of her father’s death—her dad died when she was only three years old—and it hit her how long she had been fatherless.
With my own father dying before I was born, I began to think about how many years I had felt the void of fatherlessness in my own life. For those of you who had fathers as a child, it’s difficult to explain the emptiness us fatherless girls feel. While they don’t always answer the call, dads are designed to speak into their daughter’s self-esteem. A report, “Fathers and their Impact on Children’s Well Being,” says, “Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections.” That explains a lot about why I can be “awkward” at times.
But just this morning, as I was thinking about Jesus’ entrance into the world, I had a revelation. I thought in addition to being named “Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, and The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), his name is also “Everlasting Father.” Jesus was born so my friend and I and all the other fatherless children in the world would have access to a dad, there for us 24/7, someone who we can talk to every morning and throughout the day—forever.
I often wonder where I would be without the heavenly Father’s touch in my life, without His encouragement, without the supernatural encounters, and the work He has called me to do for Him. He has a large corporation and as His daughter, he’s given me a position in His company! There’s no better boss than my Abba Father.
Today, as we near the celebration of Jesus’ birth, I am thankful God had a plan, one that required Him to enter the world through His Son, but to also sacrificially give up His beloved Son, Jesus. He was born to be a Father to many, including me.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1).