You are Not Alone
You are Not Alone
We get these things in our heads that just aren’t true. For example, we buy into the lie that says, “In order for God to love me, or be pleased with me, I have to be successful” And we measure this success by earthly standards. But God is not after our earthly results, He is after our obedience—our hearts. He wants us to come to a place that says, “No matter what happens, no matter what doesn’t happen—Jesus is enough.”
Are you saying to yourself, “I’m a failure because I’m not having success or victory in this area?”
If you answered ‘yes,’ you are in good company. Just recently I bought into this lie. For some reason, I wasn’t having any opportunity to minister to the women or sell any books at a women's event. It’s not that I go to conferences to sell books, but I know what God has done in my life through writing these books, and I desperately long to share that with other women.
Halfway through the day, I began to hear a voice say, “you don’t belong here.”
As tears began to form, I sat down behind the event table and said to myself over and over, “No matter what happens, whether I sell any books or not, Jesus is enough…Jesus is enough…Jesus is enough.” I just kept saying it over and over until I started to believe it.
Within minutes of my confession, the voice in my head grew silent and women began to surround the table. For the remainder of the event, the Lord opened doors of opportunity to share my heart and share the books.
What we allow to come into our hearts and minds will make us or break us. The enemy lies to all of us, especially in moments of weakness, and works hard to bring doubt and discouragement by attacking our faith and our identity in Christ. But he will not succeed if we cling to God’s faithfulness, and kick those lying thoughts out of our minds with words of praise, and the belief that “No matter what, Jesus is enough!”
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
The other day I learned a hard lesson in committing my mind to Christ. I did something I regretted, and thoughts plagued my mind, making me feel very uncomfortable. After some prayer, I decided to send an email and take responsibly for a problem I caused, and asked to recertify the error on my part by offering to make restitution. Immediately after, I felt better, as if something had lifted off me.
Then next morning, more nagging thoughts returned. I couldn’t stop thinking about the trouble I caused. It felt as if the enemy of my soul was standing before the throne of God accusing me. I knew God had forgiven me and did not condemn me. Yes, the day before it was His Spirit convicting me of the error, but once I took responsibility the conviction lifted. But this was different. No matter what I did, I couldn’t shake those thoughts.
The Bible tells us to “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ,” but how do we do that when our thoughts are like a swarm of stinking bees we can’t swat away?
Here is what I learned: The nagging thoughts stopped when…
Have thoughts you can’t shake?
This morning I watched someone I love be swallowed up with fear. Not a type of fear that stemmed from a life altering circumstance, but a fear that said, “I’m afraid to do this.” And the more he talked about what laid ahead, the more tread came into his heart and voice. The terror was too much for him, and the stress of it all showed up on his white-washed face. Fear had become his master, and he didn’t know how to calm the alarming thoughts that plagued his mind. Without knowing what to say, I held him and prayed over him until I began to feel the tension leave his body. Afterward I helped him create a plan for the dreaded task ahead. An hour later, he called, and the relief in his voice said that all had gone well.
What are you afraid of? Do you allow that fear to stop you, or do you push through the anxiety and do it anyway? Jesus tells us in His word 365 times to not be afraid. Why? Because He is with us and He will help us do whatever we need to do. He will give us the strength we need to take a stand, to do the hard thing, to fight fear with faith and come out on the other side victorious.
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strenghtn you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10).
If you are like me, you want to control everything. Letting go is difficult for me. Let’s face it, there are certain things I want, and certain things I want a certain way. For years, I even looked at prayer as a way to get what I wanted from God. After all, if God really loved me, He would give me what I wanted, right?
Unfortunately, most the time, I didn’t get what I wanted, and it was hard for me to understand “why” the things that I had prayed for didn’t work out the way I hoped. I cannot tell you how many times I questioned God, especially when I knew it would have been so easy for Him to have done it my way. However, the constant questioning only created a deep inner turmoil, and the only way I ever felt peace over an uncontrollable situation, was to let it go and trust God for the outcome.
For nine months, after learning my granddaughter’s due date, I begged God to not let her be born on Halloween. I hate Halloween, and the last thing I wanted to do was spend the next several years celebrating Halloween themed birthday parties. As her due date drew closer, I had a confident hope that God would honor my request. At 6:30am, the morning prior to the dreaded day, the phone rang. It was our daughter informing us she had gone into labor and was at the hospital.
Joyfully, I began to get ready, positive there was still plenty of time for the baby to come before midnight. As I rushed to get dressed, I started having this sinking feeling: She wasn’t going to be born today. My heart dropped as I struggled with the thought that my daughter could give birth on the 31st. Then immediately this verse came to my heart: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Suddenly I began to realize that God made every day good. This was the day He had chosen, before He laid the foundation of the world, for her to be born. Every day of her life was already written in His book, even before one of them came to be. It was a true Job moment. It was as if God was asking me, just as He had asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? (Job 38:4).
With this revelation I began to let go, and the more I let go of what I wanted, the more peace flooded my heart. Yes, she was born after midnight, and I watched it happen. I was there for her mother’s very long labor, and I was standing right there when that precious child came into this world. And you know what, at that moment, Halloween was the furthest thing from my mind.
As I opened the blinds this morning, the bright sun shone joyfully into the room. It was like a breath of fresh air pouring into my family room. Especially since I normally keep my blinds closed to help keep the house cooler in the summer. Having the beams of light from the morning sun fill the space was wonderful—it was like a kiss from heaven—but the light did something else. It illuminated all the dirt and cobwebs I missed and couldn’t see because the room was darker with the blinds closed.
I believed my house was clean, but the light revealed a different story. Even though I didn’t have company coming over, I quickly grabbed a rag, bent down, and mopped up all the dust, dirt, and cobwebs that I couldn’t see before the light filled the room. There is a lesson here, I thought to myself.
My heart, mind, and soul can be like rooms in a house. If I keep the blinds closed and don’t allow the light of truth to come into each and every room, things will stay hidden and I will be deceived. Out of sight, out of mind. If I don’t see the issues, I don’t know that they exist, right?
But that’s not truth. That's the beauty of God’s truth. His truth is like rays of light shining into all the corners of my heart and mind, exposing the dirt of deceit and the cobwebs of lies that need to be removed.
It is so easy to be deceived by the enemy, the world, and others. We can even deceive ourselves, because it is easier to keep the blinds closed than to deal with the dirt that has accumulated. Deception hides us from the truth. It twists our minds and distorts our thinking, causing us to believe all sorts of things that are not true. Then we wonder why we feel the way we do.
Deception is a liar, bringing nothing but discouragement and doubt.
So let’s raise the blinds and throw open the windows. It’s a beautiful sunny day full of expectation. God has given us His truth to guide us, His armor to protect us, His Holy Spirit to empower us, and His eternal promises to give us hope.
Yesterday, in a radio interview, the host asked me, “What is hope?”
Right now, with everything going on in the world, you may be asking the same question. The word “hope,” like the word “love,” is over used and often misused. When I talk to people about hope, I’m not talking about “hoping” your favorite sport team will win on Sunday.
Hope is not wishful thinking, hoping that something you want to happen will happen. Hope is not about fulfilling a longing or desired outcome. Hope—true hope—is finding something unmovable to hold on to while the storms of life are blowing at record speeds around you. Hebrews 6:19 says "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure," and this kind of firm, steadfast hope can only be found in one place: Jesus (see 1 Timothy 1:1).
Right now, people are struggling to find any shred of hope as they try to cling to the things that they think will save them from the challenges and turmoil of life. But the Bible says, “a horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its strength it cannot save” (Psalm 33:17). In other words, in spite of all the potential they offer, if we put our hope in money, people, or things we will eventually be disappointed and left empty handed, because these things cannot give us the stability we truly long for.
Dear One, if you want hope—real hope—a hope that will fill you with faith. A hope that will blast through your worst nightmare like a stick of dynamite, then you are looking for the kind of hope that only Jesus Christ can give you.
So I ask you, “What kind of hope are you clinging to?” Are you clinging to a superficial expectation, the kind of vain hope that is really no hope at all? Or are you clinging to the kind of hope that will breathe life back into your soul?
God tells us in His word, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). This doesn’t mean that God has mapped out a plan where everything in this life will be perfect and we’ll receive everything we hope for. He is talking about a plan that fills those who trust in Him with a hope for a future that is not of this world. In spite of everything happening in the world today, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we know the story doesn’t end here, and that we have a glorious future with God where there will be no more suffering, pain, trial or tragedy, and that fills us with an unstoppable hope.
This is the hope to which we adhere and fills us with faith: the hope held out in the gospel that Jesus has delivered us from sin and death and has become our living hope for today and tomorrow.
The other day I did something I wish I hadn’t done. I took what I had done to the Lord and confessed my godly sorrow to Him and my regret for doing it. In my heart I knew He forgave me immediately, yet I was having a hard time letting go of the offense. I kept praying and confessing. Each time I prayed I knew God had forgiven me. I even kept telling myself, Patty forgive yourself, yet the thought of my guilt kept hounding me.
The next morning it dawned on me, the accuser was accusing me. With this thought I got a mental vision of the enemy standing before God pointing his finger at me and reminding God of the mistake I made.
I said to Jesus out loud, “he is accusing me, isn’t he?” Confirmation quickly came to my heart. Without hesitation I rebuked those accusations and asked the Lord to deal with my accuser, and I went on with my day. About an hour later, I realized that the nagging accusations were gone and I was finally enjoying time with my family. Thank you Jesus!
Those negative, nagging thoughts—that often sound very much like our own voice—is not us at all. The enemy of our hearts and souls only has as much power over us as we give him.
I know it’s not easy to stand secure in Christ and firmly rebuke thoughts of reproach when we are already feeling beaten up and torn down, but it’s the only thing that will chase away those lying voices of condemnation from the enemy.
Jesus is our guilt offering before the Father. We do not need to feel guilty or shrink back in shame.
Ask Him to deal with your accuser; because, you, dear one, are His child.
For the past week I have been experiencing server back and hip pain. Gratefully, I could find relief when I laid down, but getting up and doing a normal routine has been very difficult. I did everything I knew to do to get the pain to stop. I stretched, took Advil, and applied both ice and heat, yet nothing worked. Coming to the conclusion that I could not help myself, I went to a professional. I was happy to hear that my condition was not serious and that it was fixable, but I would have to dig in and do what the doctor told me to do: Two weeks of intensive treatment and physical therapy, along with home exercises.
“How fast you get better is up to you,” the doctor said. He will do his part and provide the treatment and instruction I will need, but the level of healing and speed of my recovery is completely in my hands.
I am ready to stop hurting. I’ve been in so much pain and discomfort this past week, that I am willing to hunker down and do what needs to be done. I am ready to start finding recovery, so I am committing to all my appointments over the next two weeks and doing whatever the doctor tells me to do.
Perhaps physical pain motivates us more than emotional pain, but the healing process is no different. If we are carrying emotional pain, like physical pain, it will hinder us and keep us from enjoying and performing our normal routine. We want to feel better and to stop hurting. We may even try our best to do what we think will help, but our healing doesn’t come until we go to the Healer and do what He tells us to do. His instructions are simple: “Come to me every day, get in my word and renew your mind.”
This kind of training and exercise takes effort. It will take time, and a serious commitment on our part to meet with God each day and do the study that is required. God is faithful, He will provide the treatment and instruction we need to recover in His word, but the level of healing and the speed of our recovery is completely in our hands.
Dear one, I’m ready to find some healing and recovery! How about you? Are you ready to stop hurting? Then make the choice to hunker down and do what the Healer tells you to do through His word. Come every day and get to know Him, and His great thoughts toward you.
“No longer conform to the patter of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)
Comparison. When was the last time you looked at another person, or looked at yourself in the mirror, and told yourself you didn't measure up? When was the last time you watched the success of another and wondered why it wasn't happening for you?
Comparison--this is my greatest temptation. When I am caught in the clutches of comparison, what I know to be true fades away as my vision becomes obscured. I know God has a plan for my life. I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Yet, in the trap of comparison, I lose sight of those truths as the lies twist to form a rope around my neck, strangling the life right out of me.
Comparison is nothing but lies! Comparison fills our mind with doubt and causes us to lose faith. It takes our confidence and spiritual vitality and casts them aside while filling us with self-pity. Comparison is an internal emotional disruption that kills our joy, steals our peace, and destroys our hope. But God doesn't want us to live caught in the clutches of comparison. He longs for us to see how special we are to Him so we can confidently walk in the fullness of His grace and power.
If, like me, you struggle with the temptation of comparison, please join me in prayer:
"Lord, be strong in my weakness and deliver me from this temptation to lose faith by comparing myself to others. Lord, you know how to rescue the godly from temptation (2 Peter 2:9), therefore rescue me and fill me again with your Spirit. Renew my mind with your word and help me to reject the lies that tell me I'm failing. Encourage me by your Spirit, so I will not fulfill the desire to bury my face and just weep. Father, protect my heart and help me to rest in you. Bring me into genuine, wide-eyed spaces of freedom and into the realm of daily victory over the lies and schemes of the enemy to keep me trapped. Comparison is a temptation for me. Help me to break free from this temptation. My true worth and confidence are you in, help me to see myself only through your eyes.
"A man is not who he is in his own eyes, but only as he is in God's eyes."--unknown
Have you ever been so busy that your head started spinning? Do you worry about getting everything done? Are you drained, feeling like you have nothing left to give?
I know these thoughts and feelings all too well. It's easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of life. Even recently I've had to step back and take a good look at my calendar and what I was saying “yes" to. As women, we want to be all things to all the people in our lives, but realistically we can't. Not to mention all this striving steals our peace and joy, and even our health.
You are not alone if you are feeling overwhelmed by the events and circumstances of life. Somethings may be out of our control, but if we have the option to set something aside that doesn't need our time and energy, let's lay it down.
If you are feeling overrun and worn out, take a deep breath, grab that cup of coffee and begin to enjoy the simple things in life. Take notice of the beauty that surrounds you every day. Enjoy your children and grandchildren. Light some candles, bring cut flowers into your home, put on some soft inspiration music and change the atmosphere in your home.
Life is much more than sprinting off to the next event or accomplishing the next task.
Take time today to love those around you well, and take delight in all that God has given you to enjoy.