Tag Archives: dreams

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 19)

As mentioned in my last post, I recently attended a women’s event at my church.  Shayla McCormick of Coastal Community Church was our guest speaker.  On Day 2, still gleaning from the story of Gideon, she shared that she often feels both overwhelmed and underqualified to do the thing(s) that God has called her to do.  I totally relate to that, and I’m sure you can too.

We hear the whisper of God prompting us to do something new.  Something totally out of the character with our usual way of acting or reacting. Something brave and daring and exciting.  And while our spirit may be quick to say “Yes, Lord.  If you say so”, our awareness of our own shortcomings (with fear along for the ride) speaks up and says “Uh, Lord … I think you have forgotten who you’re talking to.  The person you probably want for this job lives three doors down to the left.”

Right?

Which is probably why this particular bullet point really caught my attention … as well as my imagination.

Building up strength requires exertion of strength.”  ~Shayla McCormick

Or as I rephrased it in my notebook:  You won’t experience your victory until you step up to bat.

And that got me thinking, and as usually happens, one thought leads to another.

We know from Judges, chapter 6, that Gideon was called by God, from his hideout in a winepress, to rise up and lead the Israelites in battle.

cropped-gravitar-image.jpgSpaghetti Thought #1: The fact that Gideon was threshing wheat reminds me that the promise of Deuteronomy 28:12 is that He will “bless the work of my hands”.  Therefore, my hands are required to actually be doing something practical in order to be blessed.   To state the obvious, wheat can’t get threshed until someone first puts in the work to plant the seed, and later harvest the crop.  And last time I checked, if no one goes fishing, no one eats fish.  But a garden hoe doesn’t catch fish, nor will a fishing pole till the ground.  So if I want to enjoy the reward, I had better be putting in the work and using the right tools for the job.

Mighty WarriorSpaghetti Thought #2: When Gideon went into battle, he would of course be wearing armor.  You and I need to wear armor too, spiritual armor, every day.   And in the same way that Nehemiah counseled the Israelites to rebuild the wall with a weapon in one hand and a tool in the other, we greatly increase our success when we are not only busy doing the work, but are also wearing the Armor of God to keep us protected (offensively and defensively) from that rascally old devil who is always trying to steel, kill and destroy God’s plan for our lives.

“From then on half of my men worked and half stood guard, wearing coats of armor and armed with spears, shields, and bows. And our leaders gave their full support to the people who were rebuilding the wall. Even those who carried building materials worked with one hand and kept a weapon in the other, and everyone who was building kept a sword strapped to their waist. The man who was to sound the alarm on the bugle stayed with me.”   Nehemiah 4:16-18 (GNB)

But it’s not the image of Miss Hope wearing the Armor of God while tending her fields with rake and wheel barrel that stirred in my imagination that day.  It was the thought of her with a baseball bat.

 

Take A Swing, PuttingHopeToWork.com
“Take A Swing!”  http://www.puttinghoptowork.com

 

Spaghetti Thought #3:  Sometimes you just have to “take a swing“.

Life can be hard sometimes.  Disappointments will come.  My heart will hurt.  But no matter how hard the fall (be it of my own doing, or from circumstances completely outside my control), because of Jesus Christ, I don’t have to stay down.  I can be washed clean of the gunk all over my face and clothing.  I can return to the well of HOPE for refreshment when I’m weary of spirit.  I can release my pain into the care of Jesus and instead choose to forgive.  I can, in His strength, get back up and take another swing.

And another!

And another, and another, and another, and another!!!

Friend, what is your faith swinging for today?  Healing?  Finances?  A new job?  A spouse?  Deliverance from an addiction?

Remember that “building up strength requires exertion of strength”, so exert those spiritual muscles and take another swing!

And keep on swinging until you get your victory!!

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All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

 

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 10)

She is so very tired. Another weekend ends just like the 102 weekends proceeding. Slamming doors, wounding words, accusations and allegations, and tears. The tears are hers, and she wonders when the day will come that she has no more of them to offer. Her friends tell her to pray, to “Let go and Let God.” Geez, hasn’t that been what she has been doing? Others tell her to cut him off, that the boys high-risk lifestyle will likely kill him one day, and if she doesn’t take protective action, she risks going down with him.

Truth be told, there are days she wishes she could. That she could just say; “You can’t be a part of my life until you confront your addictions and clean up your life.” Just write him off as a bad seed, cry tears of closure, and move on. But then she remembers the vision God gave her when he was 9 years old; the promise that one day her son would be called into the ministry and that many lives would be changed because of his testimony. And so she prays again.

Last week, I wrote about the The Wait of Faith. That uncomfortable waiting period between the time we pray about something to the time the answer manifests in the natural world … when our eyes can see it, our arms can wrap themselves around it, and our lips can shout praises to God for His faithfulness to hear and to do!

These are my most common responses when my prayers aren’t answered within the time I’ve allocated to God for their manifestation.

• I get impatient, frustrated, even downright angry with God.
• I resign myself to the situation – often out of fatigue, or by concluding (this, it) must be part of God’s will.
• I doubt God’s willingness and/or His ability to perform.

And I’m not alone, for the Bible is full of people daily wrestling with the same responses while they lived in the tension (sometimes hundreds of years long) between the promise given and the possession of that promise.

“The Lord Said: Ezekiel, son of many, you’ve heard the people in Israel use the saying, “Time passes, and the prophets are proved wrong.” Now tell the people that I, the Lord, am going to prove that saying wrong. No one will ever be able to use it again in Israel, because very soon everything I have said will come true!” Ezekiel 12:21-23

I am reading Draw The Circle by Mark Batterson and throughout the book he paints a number of word pictures that really speak to me. But perhaps my favorite (at least so far) is this:

“Faith is what keeps those dreams alive, even when it seems as though they are dead and buried. But that is the very nature of seeds. They go underground. They disappear. And while it may seem like they are dead, they are not. They’re just germinating beneath the surface!” ~Mark Batterson, Draw The Circle, Day 12: Sow a Seed

That really speaks to me.

I don’t know about you, but my spiritual backyard is littered with tomb stones of hopes and dream-seeds I’ve buried over the years. Some graves I visit periodically to mourn over their loss. Some I have so completely forgotten about that I must kneel down and read the headstone just to remember what they were. And when God brings one of those long dead dream-seeds back to life … Wow, there is absolutely nothing like it! I’ve had it happen more than once and I am currently living it out now in my small business. Something I counted dead decades ago – in fact so deeply forgotten about that it was my sister who reminded me I used to talk about doing this someday – mysteriously emerges from the ground as a seedling and beckons to be cared for, re-invigorating soul and spirit with the majesty and faithfulness of God!!

Still there are other dream-seeds of things to be (or you could call them prayers, promises, or visions) that won’t stay underground no matter how hard I try to bury them. They won’t stay underground, but neither do they appear to be growing. In fact, sometimes they sprout, die, and then sprout and die again. Over time, repeated disappointment combined with deep emotional fatigue beg me to just give up, dig up the seed, toss it in the compost pile and move on! But I just can’t bring myself to do it! Using Mark’s analogy, my FAITH in the promise of God (in His willingness to fulfill His Word) has planted seeds of HOPE in my spirit, and those seeds of HOPE are germinating.

And just like no farmer would ever plant just one seed of corn at a time, neither does Daddy God plant just one seed of HOPE at a time. He plants redundant seed, so that if one accidentally gets stepped on or plucked up, there is more dream-seed at work just beneath the surface, to bring the dream into manifestation just at the right time.

“Have faith in God! If you have faith in God and don’t doubt you can tell this mountain to get up and jump into the sea, and it will. Everything you ask for in prayer will be yours, if only you have faith. Whenever you stand up to pray, you must forgive what others have done to you. Then your Father in heaven will forgive your sins.” Mark 11:22-25 (CEV)

“Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 (AMP)

 

Lord, I thank you that you are the ultimate HOPE-giver, and that You (by your own Holy script, Isaiah 55:11) have declared that no promise of God ever goes without fulfillment!

img_20180111_203901963_hdr854888339.jpg
untitled, PHTW, 1/15/18

When we get impatient, comfort us with the knowledge that Your timing is always perfect and give us peace to wait in faith. When fatigue and disappointment beckon us to give up and accept things as they are, stir up in us a hunger to see heavenly justice and help us persevere in faith. And when doubt whispers that You are not able, or unwilling … let us be quick to cast down those faulty imaginations – recognizing them for what they are, lies straight from the pit of hell. Help us to stay grounded in our trust in Your willingness and ability to fulfill every promise and every Word spoken. If You said it, You will do it!

 

Have you ever been in a Wait of Faith?   How did God keep you encouraged, or refresh your weariness, during the waiting period.  Please feel free to share below – your own experience might be just what someone else needs to hear today!

Does God ever speak to you in word-pictures?  My prayer is that the humble paintings contained in my blog posts will speak something unique to your heart/spirit.  I would be honored to know how they move or impact you.

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All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.