“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
When I was recovering from my brain injury, I asked God for healing. Every night I prayed, “Please let me wake up tomorrow, well and happy.” Some nights, I was so desperate for relief that I would twist my linen sheets in my hands, pretending that they were the hem of Jesus’ robe. But every morning I’d wake up and the pain and weakness were still there. I grew disillusioned with Jesus’ promise of “Ask and you shall receive.”
Over the next few years, I slowly healed more and more. God used my injury and the time it took to heal to polish me into the person I had always wanted to be. Had God healed me overnight as I used to ask Him to do, I’m not sure I’d have reaped the blessings that are now in my life. I learned that it’s okay to ask God for what I want, but once I do, I need to let go of trying to control the process, the timing, or the outcome. Best to leave those to God.
“Therefore encourage one another…”
~1 Thessalonians 5:11
Naysayers are everywhere. Tell them your dreams and they will immediately tell you that you can’t achieve them. Some will even tell you why you can’t achieve them, listing your shortcomings one by one. Or worse, some will regurgitate your past “failures” in gory details, reminding you in so many words, that in their humble opinion, you’re just a screw-up. It’s hard to find people who will tell you to go for your dreams, for dreams are precarious, nebulous and ephemeral. They make a lot of people nervous. The naysayers want you to pursue something solid and secure, something less silly or “out there.” But the truth is, there isn’t any security in life. So, why not go for what you want—what you love? You’ll be following God’s desire for you if you do.
Our dreams aren’t there by mistake. God put them there. He quietly nudges us to pursue what He’s telling us. It’s up to us ignore the naysayers and to pursue our dreams through the talents He gave us. And, it is up to us to avoid being a naysayer when someone shares their dreams with us. Instead of putting others down, let’s encourage others to pursue the dreams that God has whispered to them, no matter how silly, or out of reach, they may sound.
“‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered.”
“Come on, let’s go for a walk,” Faith said to Hope. “We’ve been cooped up in this musty old place for far too long.”
“I agree,” said Hope. And so, the two of them went out walking.
“Look at that hawk circling over the pond,” Faith pointed for Hope to see.
“Uh huh, I see it. Look at the deer over by the thicket,” Hope pointed for Faith to see.
They walked along, delighting in the wildlife they saw. At the far end of the meadow, they came upon a fox who had unfortunately gotten his head stuck in a fence.
Hope said, “I sure wish that the farmer who owns that pasture will find him and help him.”
“Wishing isn’t enough,” said Faith as she walked over to the fox.
“He might bite you!” warned Hope.
“Maybe,” she said and sat down next to the fox. She used all of her might to bend the fence until she freed the fox who gratefully ran away.
“Good job!” said Hope as they began walking again.
In a little while, they came to a creek, its water rushing from the spring snowmelt. “How will we cross?” asked Hope.
“Climb on my back. I’ll get us across,” said Faith.
“You’re crazy! There is no way you can carry me through that water. It’s too rough,” said Hope.
“I have no intention of carrying you through it,” replied Faith.
“Then why should I climb on your back?”
“Because I’m going to jump across it!” said Faith
“You’re crazier than I thought!” said Hope. She stepped away from Faith.
“Your choice,” Faith said. She took a running start and lept across the creek, landing safely on the opposite bank.
Hope stood alone, dumbstruck. “There’s no way I could ever do that,” she called to Faith over the roar of the water.
“I know. That’s why I offered to carry you,” Faith called back to her.
What’s the moral of the story? Hope is a good thing to have, but it’s faith that gets things done. When you need to get across the rough waters of your life, have hope, but count on faith to carry you across safely.
“I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
The light was fading from the western sky as I made my way out towards the woods. I knew I’d have to work quickly if I wanted to pick blackberries before nightfall. The bushes were exceptionally full this year; big, ripe, luscious globes that plucked free with just a little tug. I gathered as many as my basket would carry and turned towards home. Already, the stars were dotting the night sky—I had tarried too long. I reached into my back pocket for my phone. I’d use its flashlight to light my steps. But my hand found only an empty pocket; my phone lay on the kitchen counter where I had forgotten it.
My foot caught a fallen branch, and I stumbled, scratching my legs on sticks and thorns. All I could see around me were berry bushes and briars. “You’ve been in worse places,” I said out loud to reassure myself as I slowly took a few more steps. “You’ve always gotten out of them.” And that was true. Friends marvel at how strong I’ve been to have gotten through the adversities in my life. But I know better. It’s not my strength that has prevailed, for I’m not that strong. It has always been God making a way for me.
As I slowly pushed onward, I saw a small round light bobbing out beyond the treeline. “Jennifer!” I head my friend Steven calling my name off in the distance.
“Over here,” I yelled and waved an arm above my head, even though I knew that he couldn’t see me through the trees. After a few minutes of us shouting back and forth, he found me. I threw my arms around him and hugged him. “Thank you for coming,” I said.
“You’re lucky. I was at home and suddenly got this feeling that I should check in on you. When you didn’t answer your door or your phone, I let myself in. I saw your phone on the kitchen counter next to your pie tins. It didn’t take much to put two and two together,” he said.
“Luck had nothing to do with it. You were sent.” I smiled, “Come on, let’s get home and I’ll bake you a pie.” We held hands as he shone his flashlight for us as we made our way back to my house. “Thank you, God, for sending Steven,” I prayed when we opened the door and walked into my kitchen. “Thank you for making the way for me, again.”
No matter where you are right now, no matter how desolate or desperate things may appear, God is making a way for you, too. In fact, He sent me to tell you so.