Failing, To Succeed

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“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” -Michael Jordan

Wow! Those are encouraging words for me today. And perhaps for you, as well. Seems like, at this point in my life, I fail far more than I succeed. But the Bible says that when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10) Through our failures, God yields His strength to us. And, in these cracked, clay vessels, our

imperfections allow God’s light to shine through. The imperfections are still there. Yet they serve the greater purpose of allowing others in this darkened world to see God’s glory radiating through us- failures and all.

Like Michael, let’s keep on trying!

2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

2 Corinthians 12:9,10: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (ESV)

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This Too Shall Pass

Faith

~ This Too Shall Pass ~

by Helen Steiner Rice

If I can endure for this minute
Whatever is happening to me,
No matter how heavy my heart is
Or how dark the moment may be-
If I can remain calm and quiet
With all the world crashing about me,
Secure in the knowledge God loves me
When everyone else seems to doubt me-
If I can but keep on believing
What I know in my heart to be true,
That darkness will fade with the morning
And that this will pass away, too-

Then nothing in life can defeat me
For as long as this knowledge remains
I can suffer whatever is happening
For I know God will break all of the chains
That are binding me tight in the darkness
And trying to fill me with fear-
For there is no night without dawning
And I know that my morning is near.

God’s Voice in the Darkness

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“I want to go back, Lord,” I said. “It’s familiar there.”

“No, my child,” God replied. “You must keep moving forward.”

“But I’m afraid, Lord. Please hold my hand,” I cried.

“I’m here child,” He assured.

“I want to go back, Lord,” I cried out again. “The pain is just too great.”

“My grace is sufficient,” God said. “You have my strength.”

“But I feel so alone,” I said. “Please don’t let go, Lord!”

“I’m here, my child,” His words came with comfort.

“Please take me back to where I was before,” again I pleaded.

“No, my child,” He whispered. “You must walk on.

I am here with you, every step of the way.

And I will never leave you,” He assured.

“Even if it were possible, turning back now would never allow you to

receive all the wonderful things I have planned for you.

Keep walking ahead, child, and listen to my voice,” God said.

“I will see you through this. And I will never leave you. You have my promise.”

I walked on through the darkness, my hand in His…until I could again see the light.

And as I reached the light, it’s rays of warmth seemed to pour over and into me, deep within my spirit.

The darkness could not defeat me for my LORD walked beside me. His light was always there, deep within my heart, for He was and is ever with me.

Now, in my heart, I know the darkness of this world can never defeat me. For, through Jesus, my Savior, God pierced the darkness with the light of His love and conquered it for all eternity!

~ Angela Hall Dobbins

John 8:12b: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Isaiah 41:13: For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

God’s Tapestry of Grace

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“’Every day, in every situation and life circumstance, God is doing 1000 things you cannot see and do not know.’ These words by John Piper encouraged me earlier this week as I’ve been struggling with pain. Oh, what a wonderful Day it will be when finally the underside of the embroidery will be flipped upright and we will see how every painful thread fit beautifully into God’s tapestry of grace. So join me in persevering, friend!” – Joni Eareckson Tada

I often find much uplifting and inspiration in the words and illustrations of Joni Eareckson Tada.  Sometimes life can be overwhelming as it bears down upon us.  And those of us who battle chronic pain, fatigue, or illness understand that it can make life’s challenges seem multiplied ten fold.  But God is always in control and He is faithful to finish the work He began in each of us.  By His Spirit, we have the power to accomplish whatever service He has called us to do and whatever task He has set before us!  I love Joni’s illustration, “God’s tapestry of grace”.  It is God’s grace and the power of His Holy Spirit that enable us to keep going, even in difficult circumstances and despite all obstacles!  Praise the Lord!  Be blessed today in HIM!

Lamentations 3:22-24: “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,  “Therefore I hope in Him!”
 

Stand in the Bright Spot

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Looking back over the year 2013, I must admit it was a year of seemingly relentless difficulty for me.  Perhaps you can relate?  As soon as one trial had passed, another would quickly follow.  And often there were multiple trials all at once which became an almost insurmountable struggle.  One day, in a moment of weakness, I was praying and literally crying out to the Lord to ease my load, feeling as though the darkness might soon completely overtake me.  I longed for a reprieve from the seemingly endless barrage of attacks from the enemy- a breakthrough!  Then, softly and intently, the Holy Spirit spoke to me, “Angela, stand in the ‘bright spot’.”

I cried out in desperation, while in the middle of a particularly bad flare, “What bright spot, Lord?”, overwhelmed and struggling at the time to see the tiniest glimmer of light outside His immediate presence.  Surely, in the midst of all the trials- a year-long whirlwind of family chaos and turbulence, the effects of chronic pain and fatigue, months of difficulty getting resettled after a necessary summer move, nearly three months of fighting not to succumb to depression, and not to mention the current ice storm with thirty-two hours of no power, no heat, and no running water at home- I thought surely, there wasn’t a beam large enough for me to stand in.  “You’re all the light I see, Lord,” I said.  “Where would You have me stand?”

And then, like a vision, it came to me.  Though the circumstances that weighed so heavily upon me were like walking through dark shadows that seemed to engulf me, I began to imagine beautiful rays of light as they broke through the clouds of darkness.  In those rays of light- the “bright spot”- there was hope, warmth, even joy, and renewal.  So I asked the Lord, “Father, where is the bright spot in all of this?”  I longed to see it and to feel it’s warmth flood my spirit. Then I felt Him saying to me, “Look around you to those things where I am and you will find it.”

It was a week before our Christmas Musical at church and I so wanted to sing for the Lord and bring glory to His name.  Singing is one of the things that brings me joy and gives me inspiration.  I so enjoy singing with our Praise  Team and worshipping our Lord together.  And for nearly three months, I had longed to once again find the ability to connect with the passion and inspiration I knew God had placed within me for His ministry.  So, in that moment, and for that very time in my life, singing in the Christmas Musical became my “bright spot”. For a little while, I was able to bask in the rays of light from my “bright spot” and felt God’s warmth pour over me as His joy began to renew my spirit.  Making an effort to attend weekly practices and listening to my performance CD at home and in the car, I had been looking forward to singing with my sweet Sisters on the Praise Team and to the program God had inspired our Music Minister to lead.  But my basking wouldn’t last long.  The next morning I awoke with a scratchy throat.  And, by the following morning, it had turned into the worst sore throat I could ever remember having.   This time the Holy Spirit led me in a different way.  But I’m certain it was His direction which prompted me to call and make an appointment with my doctor, something I usually don’t immediately do.  A visit to the doctor is certainly not one of my favorite things!  But this time was different- I knew I needed to get to be seen as soon as possible and suspected it was strep.   Sure enough, the test confirmed I had strep throat!

It seemed my “bright spot” had vanished. But I soon discovered it had only moved.  Often in challenging circumstances, the Lord’s desire is to inspire our faith to grow as we continue to trust Him and follow His leading.  So I prayed for His strength and the ability to trust faithfully and to keep my focus on Him, instead of on my circumstances.  The circumstances surrounding me were still very difficult.  That had not changed.  But just as He always had, by His mercy, grace, and love, the Lord brought me through.  Each day, as I followed my doctor’s instructions, took my medication, and placed everything in God’s hands, I began to improve.  Slowly, I began to practice using my singing voice a little at a time and was soon able to sing again!  More importantly, God helped me realize that His gift of inspiration doesn’t always come from within.  Sometimes His desire is that we rest in Him for a while and be carried by and become part of the inspiration He bestows to others. I’m continuing to learn, when the dark clouds of gloom and uncertainty loom over me, I only need to ask the Lord to help me look for the “bright spot” and to stand in it!

No matter how dark the clouds looming overhead or the shadows surrounding you, there is always a bright spot- a place where God says, “I am”.  It may be uniquely different, depending on your circumstances.  Where is your “bright spot” today?  Is it the love in your children’s faces?  Is it spending time with your grandchildren, lending them your love and guidance?  Is it something God has gifted you to do that brings you joy?  Perhaps it’s having lunch with a friend, or a phone call to a loved one.  Maybe it’s giving of your time and talents to minister to others.  Or it’s spending time studying or teaching God’s Word.  Maybe it’s a walk in the park or a drive through the country, enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. Look for your “bright spot” today.  Stand in it!  And the Lord will give you warmth, hope, His unspeakable joy…and He will renew your spirit!

John 8:12: Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the Light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (HCSB)

Standing in the Bright Spot,

Angela 🙂

 

The Nature of Faith

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Job 13:15: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him…”

“Faith by its very nature must be tried, and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character has to be cleared in our own minds. Faith in its actual working out has to go through spells of unsyllabled isolation. Never confound the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life, for much that we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive.

Faith in the Bible is faith in God against everything that contradicts Him – I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do. ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him…’- this is the most sublime utterance of faith in the whole of the Bible.”

–Oswald Chambers

I’m reminded that the enemy was behind the trials of God’s servant, Job. Yet God allowed satan to test Job, warning only to spare his life. Job trusted God’s character and His divine will, though he could not understand what was happening in his life, nor why the Lord allowed it. This was true faith. The enemy is at work today, just as he was during the days of Job. But God has given us a wealth of resources to deal with the fiery darts of satan and the powers of darkness. We have His written Word, and even greater, His Living Word whose Spirit dwells within us! As the Apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament, we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us!” Romans 8:37   Praise the Lord!