Wednesday, February 21, 2018

When Your Brook Begins to Dry Up

Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Go away from here . . . and hide yourself by the brook Cherith. So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. And it happened after a while, that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.”  I Kings 17: 3, 5, 7   (NASB)

God told Elijah to prophecy to evil King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, that no rain would fall for years, except by God’s word. Elijah obeyed, and God immediately told him to go into hiding in a desolate area by the brook Cherith. 

God lovingly provided for his needs there. The ravens brought him meat, and he drank life-giving water from the babbling brook.

But soon Elijah noticed the stream wasn’t running so quickly. 

The sound of rushing water once comforted him as he lay down to sleep. But now he stared up into the darkness haunted by a foreboding trickle. The tall green grass was gone, the animals were gone. Death circled in the sky, and Doubt may have choked him like the perpetual swirling dust of the scorched earth.
In the face of desperate thirst, Peace can evaporate into Panic. We can imagine Elijah crying out to Jehovah facedown in the dry riverbed.

“God, you told me to come here! What are you doing? How long must I suffer?” 

But God was silent.

Does that sound familiar? Is something drying up in your life and there’s nothing you can do to reverse it? Does the loving Father seem like a lukewarm Friend?

Sometimes in obedience, you pursue what you perceive as your Divine calling. And then your stream begins to dry up. 

You may feel God is telling you and your spouse to start a ministry for couples, then your marriage falls apart. 

Every door opens to change jobs, but you transition from one hostile environment to another. 

You ease into a relationship after much prayer and finally give your heart to someone who within a few years morphs into someone you don’t recognize. 

Elijah didn’t expect his brook to shrivel. Likewise, God sometimes surprises us with a radical pruning or leads us to a crossroad of crisis with no good answers.
Has God shaved your ego? Has he shaved your head? Has He taken away every prop? 

Or has He given—divorce papers, a diagnosis, a prodigal son?

We cry, “God, you knew this was going to happen. I’ve tried to obey you. Why is my world falling apart?”

John Bunyan, the 17th-century preacher, knew that feeling. He was shoved into prison for preaching against the Church of England, painfully separated from his wife and four children.

Charles Swindoll writes in his book, “Elijah:”

[Bunyan’s] brook of opportunity and freedom dried up. But because Bunyan firmly believed God was still alive and working, he turned that prison into a place of praise, service and creativity as he began to write Pilgrim’s Progress, the most famous allegory in the history of the English language. Dried up brooks in no way cancel out God’s providential plan. Often, they cause it to emerge.

Dried up brooks cause God’s plan to EMERGE.
God needed to teach Elijah gut-level, soul-wrenching Trust. Later he would summon every bit of that Trust to bring fire down from heaven in a breathtaking showdown with the prophets of Baal, bringing wayward Israel to its knees. God would use him like no one else in history. 

God had a plan for Bunyan, for Elijah, and He has a plan for you in the crucible. A plan to work miracles in you.

A plan to make you a miracle.

Jesus’ Message:


Your brook may be drying up. But I am the Prince of Peace, not Panic.

Rest assured, I am deeply concerned about your dried up brooks. I will come and minister to you in due time. Until then do not trust that which is Seen. If you do, you will miss my blessing and all I have planned for you. 

I must teach you to trust that which is Unseen. To trust in One who hovers over you, aching for you to look deeper, farther, higher, to all that I am doing for you. 

If you had any idea how I am working for you behind the scenes, you would never doubt Me or My ways. 

I am molding you into My vessel. I will transform your tears shed in the wilderness into Living Water; to be a Stream in the Desert for parched souls. No one is better suited than he who has walked that barren mile himself.
My disciples’ hopes dried up too when I did not save Myself from the cross. You see, they had their eyes on an Earthly Kingdom. But their expectations were too small. 

I am training your eyes to see beyond your circumstance; to see My Heavenly Kingdom. I desire you to see the Story I am writing for you which concludes at the End of your Rope—where your deepest desire is to be filled with Me. The End of your Rope is where My Kingdom comes. And there you and I become One, fulfilling My purpose for you from the beginning of time.
After My resurrection, I appeared to My disciples and addressed their worries, assuring them, “I am with you to the end of the world.”

Beloved, I am with you too. Though Hell seems to prevail, remember I am your Conqueror! I am your Strength and Song in the heat of battle. 

You are Mine. And I will never leave your side.

Friday, July 14, 2017

When Your Brokenness Is Beyond Explanation

Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to do whatever He wants. May everything you said come true.” And the the angel disappeared.  Luke 1:38

The words, “You are blessed among women” joyously echoed in Mary’s heart as she and Joseph set off toward Bethlehem. 

But let us stretch to imagine her shock at her first contractions. 

Mary’s joy must have turned into Utter Desperation with the onset of labor pains. And No Vacancy signs.

The panic surely swirled in her mind, a young teen sinking into the curve of a donkey’s back, sinking into the Real of being alone with Joseph as she gave birth. No Jewish woman would have imagined giving birth without her mother or a midwife.

I imagine anguish swelling from the depths of Mary’s soul. Choking on questions.

“Lord, you told Joseph in a dream this child will be called Emmanuel, ‘God is with us.’  But where are you now? I can’t do this alone! What does Joseph know about birth? 

I said Yes to you even though nothing about it made sense. . . but this CAN’T be right!”

To Mary, No Vacancy signs were confusing Beyond Explanation. Was the Messiah to be born in the brokenness and stench of a stable?

What is your Beyond Explanation? Is it broken health, a broken promise, a broken relationship you thought God had blessed?

When Beyond Explanation makes us question everything we believe about God, that is precisely when we can be sure God is profoundly at work.

Sometimes, God’s very best is a stable—that Beyond Explanation you think you can’t bear. 

Beloved, No Vacancy signs are an integral part of God’s plan. Just as our Broken Things are an integral part of God’s plan.

In a rough manger God brought forth His most precious gift. Likewise in His time, He will surely make your 
Beyond Explanation a birthplace of Divine. He will bring you overwhelming blessings that could only be obtained by experiencing the stable.

Jesus' Message:

Beloved, I know you are hurting. You feel I am silent. You feel as though your prayers dissolve at the ceiling.

But I assure you I am here, just as I was with Mary. Your Beyond Explanation is steeped in My mercy, My grace, and My unfathomable Love. 

Sometimes I pull aside a few of My precious children to experience rare revelations of My glory. I build a wall around them to separate them from the outside world. They may feel isolated from the rest of the bustling, happy population. But in reality, they are tucked under My wing, attuned to My heartbeat, learning to Know. Me. Intimately.

You, My child, are one of those few. 

Your mind gets tangled up with Why’s. In your anger and confusion, you sometimes shut Me out. You would rather ignore Me than endure My deafening silence.

Please believe Me—My silence is for a reason.

In Bethlehem Mary learned to trust Me in the midst of My silence. Many years later, she would have to trust My silence again. The perfect hands and feet she explored and kissed in the stable were brutally nailed to a wooden cross. 

And it was Beyond Explanation.

Like Mary, I have chosen My BEST for you. Mary didn’t understand. I don’t ask you to either.

I don’t expect you to be strong. To be stoic. 

When your Beyond Explanation weighs heavy and hard, utter “Help me Jesus.” A thousand times a day if you need to. And I will bring you My presence. My love. My peace.

I promise.

I expect you to question Me. But in your brokenness, never break your gaze from Me.

Never let go of My hand. 

Never stop trusting I am a God who brings treasures in the darkness—and My greatest gifts in stables.

Friday, May 19, 2017

How God Redeems the Things I've Died To

Ps. 40: 2-3  He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire . . . He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God. Now many will hear of the glorious things he did for me, and stand in awe before the Lord, and put their trust in him.

Jesus, I had a dream last night in which I walked with you through the garden of my life. 

You didn’t mention my failures. Instead You walked with me and explained all the foliage we saw there represented portions of my life.

There were bluebonnets and buttercups you planted just for me to enjoy. And there were flowers I planted myself—prosperous azaleas, tender impatiens, and weeping willows.

I felt your nail-scarred hand take mine, and You silently led me up a hill to a shady space that emanated Holy. I was drawn to a dazzling group of meticulously cultivated flowers. Colors I only imagined in heaven. 

And they surrounded a grave.

It was the grave of a precious desire I had died to in my life. I was overcome with the otherworldly scent.  Roses, Jasmine, Gardenias—a Forget-me-not mixture of Gethsemane and Grace.

I fell to my knees and wept, reliving the pain. I felt your hand on my shoulder, and I looked up. Over the vast garden, I saw floral sections of rare beauty blanketing the greenness—all surrounding hundreds of graves. 

The grave of a life I had dreamed of. Graves of unanswered prayers. Graves of things I can’t undo.

In my distress I cried, “Lord, why did you bring me here to relive my sorrow?”

You didn’t say a word, but your gentle eyes spoke Compassion and Purpose. They spoke a promise of Redemption. Of Resurrection.

I woke up—and I understood. 

Christ’s resurrection is His vow to redeem our sorrows. Love and Grace reach down and transform Satan’s poison into perfume. 

With time, God transforms Despair into a New Song. A Song of rich minor chords that tell of brave fights and battlescars. 

It might be a song we don’t expect. A song we never prayed for. 

Furry Talk

It’s a melody infused with faith and tears. Its rare beauty reaches the ears of the King and touches His heart even more than those of the angels. No other song honors Him more than one birthed in the throes of spiritual warfare. 

If it weren’t for the battles, we would never know the Father as Healer. We would never understand the depth of His faithfulness. We would never live the promise “This is for good, not for evil. To give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11)

Beauty from the Broken Places

There are still the questions Why. The Injustices. The If Onlys. But we can trust hands that have bled Love. Love that embraces us through our fiercest storm. 

Love that redeems the pain of our deepest grave. 

Jesus' Reply:

“My child, I remember the night you poured out your heart to Me, your end-of-the-rope Unbridled and Ugly. You lay face-down and gave your precious Dream to Me. You sacrificed your desires to Me.  

Now I seem very quiet to you. Unanswered prayers have painted a thick layer of cynicism over your faith, and you embrace Numb just to survive.

Sorrow has become your friend, but that is not My will for you. You have carried it for too long. I do not want you to RELIVE your sorrow. I want to RELIEVE you of it. It is time for Me to bury your sorrow in the sepulcher of Hope.

I want you to see that a life surrendered to Me turns Graves into Glory.

Rest assured, My beloved, I will create a New Song for you more beautiful than you ever imagined! 

But you must wait for the New Song because it takes time to weave the major and minor chords of your life into the masterpiece I desire for you.

As you wait, keep doing the right thing. Keep doing what glorifies Me. And most importantly, NEVER let go of My hand. If you ever doubt My methods in dealing with you, press your hand into my love-scar.

Come to Me for understanding. Bring Me the Why’s and If Only’s. Trust I know you completely and I see your hurt. 


I promise I will Redeem. The. Pain.

I create Beauty from the tears of every desire surrendered, of every dream relinquished, of every loved one you release to Me. 


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How Leaning On Our Own Understanding Will Never Explain Our Mess

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.  Proverbs 3:5,6

God made man in His own image, breathed into us the gift of common sense, and proclaimed, “It is good.” 

Yet God urges us not to rely on our own understanding. Because “our understanding” will always ask how a good God can allow cheating spouses and pink slips. “Our understanding” is no solace when we are weeping beside a grave. Or holding divorce papers.
Leaning on our own understanding is futile—like leaning on smoke.

We believe we know how our lives should play out—everything wrapped up with a bow. But ribbons unravel and the whole world stops making sense. 

Instead, God urges us to Faith. To trust Him beyond the boundaries of science and sense. We are to attune our hearts to a chord that is divinely complex and mysterious. It is a chord that reverberates from the guttural moans of Gethsemane to the radiant joy of the resurrection. It pulses from the passionate love of Christ.

Our common sense is designed to help us navigate in our fallen world. But it has little use in the spiritual realm. 

In spiritual warfare, our common sense should be as little use to us as Saul’s bulky armor on young David as he faced Goliath. When faced with giants, relying on common sense only breeds Fear. And Fear undermines Faith.

What is your giant? Is it a person who has betrayed you, who cuts deep with words of guilt or accusations? Is it a soul pain that drags on day after miserable day with no end in sight? Is your task to love the unlovable?

Sometimes all we can do is muster the faith to gather five little smooth stones. Maybe faith, hope, love. Maybe gentleness, kindness. 

But those five stones in the hands of a faithful God can slay giants.

But you may have to wait for your answer. 

And often His answer doesn’t make sense.   

Right now you may sit weeping beside a grave, but God is writing your story, beloved.  Though God may not deliver you as expected, do not focus on what God will do for you. 

Rather, focus on Who. He. Is. 

He is real. More real than the bed you are kneeling beside.

Either He will answer—or He will give you a new story. An unfathomably better story! 

As surely as the resurrection, joy will replace your mourning. And beauty will replace the ashes.

Jesus' Response:

My child, I am sorry my answers to your prayers are taking so long. But keep your gaze on Me, and do not lose heart. 

Instead of relying on your own understanding, you must rely on the fact that I am beyond understanding.  

Imagine for a moment you are a tiny bug on the surface of a lake and I am standing in the water beside you. As a speck on the surface, you see a only a minute portion of My legs. But infinitely above you and below you is the rest of Me. Even though your world may be unraveling, does it make sense to question Me when you have no idea what is happening below the surface of the water or above?

Although it goes against common sense, My timing is perfect. My wisdom is higher than yours. I know what I am planning for you. 

And It. Is. Spectacular. 

I hear your cries, and I promise I will answer you so completely and fully you won’t believe your eyes. 

I wish with all My heart you could feel the depth of My pain for you. Watch for My love for you in your Every Day. Look for Me in your Ordinary. 

As you write another business report. In the bottomless pile of laundry. In the dead tired.

I saw your tears and heard your prayers this morning. That mourning dove who made her nest under your porch cooed a love song to you. That was Me weeping with you. 

My love waved hello through the wings of that curious hummingbird staring at you outside the kitchen window.

And after being pummeled at work with smirks and condescension followed by “What’s-for-dinner?” I painted a brilliant promise in the sky just for you during rush hour. A pledge that I will surely send beauty after the raging wind and destruction. 

Through lessons learned in the storm, you will know Me more intimately than you ever could otherwise. With your own eyes you will see your Teacher.

I am writing a grand story for you! Plans for your good, not for evil—to give you a future and a hope. Oh, the glory which will come from your part in My plan! 

I WILL NOT let you down! Do not lean on your own understanding. On what you think should be.

Lean on Me. 

Waiting On God in the Desert

Elijah said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea [for a cloud].” He did, but returned to Elijah and told him, “I didn’t see anything.” Then Elijah told him, “Go again, and again, and again, seven times!”  I Kings 18:43  The Living Bible

Beloved, are you fainting in prayer? Has it pleased God to lead you into a dark cloud of trials that never lifts? 

We often wonder if God is even listening. Is He an indifferent observer while his children hunger for shreds of hope? While Elijah prayed for rain, his servant returned six times to report a dismally clear sky. 

Has your absolute faith resulted in absolute failure?

Paul E. Miller writes in A Praying Life, “It’s a short trip from determination to despair. It hurts to hope in the face of continued failure, so you try to stop hurting by giving up hope.”  

Demons of despair try to sift through the spoil of your soul’s battlefield. Weary rises from the parched earth and wraps its tendrils around your soul without mercy.

I believe our Lord chooses a few rare souls to accompany him in solitude in the desert. He teaches these precious ones the invaluable lesson of how to trust when circumstances are fatal and hope has fled.
As He carries us through the desert, God charges us to cling to Faith. Stubborn. Persistent. Ridiculous faith. A trembling bravery that stands despite dismal circumstances because it’s anchored on an all-powerful God’s passionate promise to redeem the darkness of every tomb, of every broken heart. Of your broken heart.

In Elijah's pivotal moment, just as in ours, angels are watching.

You see, our Redeemer is weaving our story. Faith allows us to believe God is working in our lives, even as our lives unravel.  Amid our trials, God bids us to open our hearts and watch for signs of His tender faithfulness. He lovingly reveals facets of His character we could have never known without the desert.

When the trial is finished, we will look back and discover God’s desolate roads were actually His mercies in disguise.

The seeds of our pain will surely bloom into future grace. In God’s hands, Satan’s own venom is transformed into a venue to display our Creator’s extravagant love for us.  The battlefield is God’s— and He is already the Victor!