Peace in the Waiting

I suppose when I’d set out to publish my children’s book, I expected it to get picked up over night.

It didn’t.

It’s actually only been 2 months. In robyn-is-waiting-for-something-time, that’s like the equivalent of about 100 million years. In getting-a-book-published-time, that’s like, half a second.

And just because my book hasn’t been picked up in my timing, I subconsciously started questioning, “Well, but, didn’t God lead me here? Isn’t this the desire of my heart? Didn’t I follow Him into a risk and didn’t He promise to provide? Wait…did I hear Him correctly when I decided to make this my career? Was this a bad idea?”

And the questions continued until this weekend when they finally came to a head and exploded in a volcano of ALL THE FEELINGS. (Plus, you know, being in the middle of a move takes emotions like 10 notches higher than normal anyway).

Tears streamed down my face and my sweet husband pulled over and gently asked me what was wrong.

“Um.”

I furrowed my brow and honestly couldn’t name it because there were lots of trivial SUPER important things wrong. You know, like, the armoir that’s been sitting in our new living room, will someone PLEASE take it so I can paint the walls and I haven’t had chocolate cookie quarry ice cream in like two weeks and and Tucker doesn’t like the new spot of his cat tree but my coffee bar has to go SOMEwhere and which moving box are my t-shirts in, again?

But, no. Those weren’t what was really bothering me.

“I just….sniff…I just want….”

I felt myself pout a little. Because I knew what was really bothering me.

(And I thought I was going to be mature about this whole waiting-for-my-book-to-be-picked-up thing).

Alas.

So I let it out.

I just WANT my book published! Like, NOW! I mean, I thought it would have been picked up already!!! I thought since God lead me here that He would do it super fast, and did I do something wrong? Did I make a mistake and that’s why this is taking longer than I thought it would?

Michael’s gentle voice brought me back from the rabbit trail of questions. “I don’t think God works that way.”

Of course, he’s right.

But I wanted to keep pouting. Because, you know, that’s very mature of me.

So I did.

And Michael continued. “You know, do you think this is the best time for your book to be picked up? I mean, we don’t even have our office set up because we’re in the middle of a move. Do you think maybe God knows better than you when it’s the right time?”

Well, the man had a point.

“And don’t you ever have to say ‘not yet’ or ‘no’ to your kids when they want something, because you know what’s best? Even if they don’t understand?”

I nodded.

Oh.

And then I sat back in that passenger seat and thought about my nanny littles.

I say ‘no’ to them lots of times; when my adventurers want to be more adventurous than I think is good or safe, I have to say no. Or if they want dessert before lunch, I have to say “not yet. Just wait a little longer for it.”

And they don’t always understand or agree, but I do what’s best for them.

Because I love them.

So I sat and thought about just how much I care about those littles, and how I say ‘no’ or ‘not yet’ because I love them and want the best for them…and then I thought….

how much more does God, our Father, love us? Love me?

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith” Galatians 3:26.

And since He’s our perfectly loving Father, He has to say ‘no’ or ‘not yet,’ to us, too.

Because He loves us.

And all of a sudden I became His little, wanting what I want right now, wanting that publishing deal, and begging for it with tears.

And I know He doesn’t mind my contending with Him.

I also know He knows what’s best.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:9.

You know what’s hard? Worshiping a God whom you’re afraid has forgotten you.

But you know what’s strengthening? Trusting that God is who He says He is. Taking His Word for truth.

And living it.

Even in the waiting.

sunset

He bends down to paint His love for us each day

Blessings to you,

Robyn

3 Questions That Just Might Turn Your Day Around

Here they are, a few questions that set my heart beating a little steadier in freedom to truly enjoy Christ and live the abundant life He’s given me:

Can I accept that I am not perfect, and that God loves me anyway? (Romans 5:8)

Can I accept that I am not the world’s version of perfect, but I am God’s version of perfect? (Psalm 139: 13-16)

Can I give up my pride (a.k.a. self-protection, self-righteousness, self-doubt) to The Lord and receive unconditional love and acceptance for exactly who I am, in return? (Romans 8:38-39)

Can you feel God smiling really big about those? I can.

I’m sure He loves when we accept His gift of grace. Over and over and over. Every time we forget and need to accept it again.

Like when you buy someone the best present and it costs every penny you own and you’ve been planning this gift for the longest time, and they finally open it and squeal and smile in joy and you, you’re the giver of the gift, and you swell with joy too…I like to think that must be at least a little of what God feels every time we remember and accept His gift of grace and unfailing love.

And so then I thought, now what do we do in response?

We receive it.

We receive His Perfect Love, and we walk through this day not as those who have failed, but as those who are forgiven and loved.

Live your life like you’re exactly who Jesus thinks you are.” – Bob Goff.

Take a deep breath. God is smiling over you!

Happy Tuesday, precious hearts!

Robyn

Verses From our Questions:

Romans 5:8 (ESV, emphasis mine) – “…but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Psalm 139: 13-16 (MSG version, additions mine) – “Oh yes, You shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank You High God – You’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship [You] in adoration – what a creation [You’ve made me to be]! You know me inside and out, every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, You watched me grow from conception to birth; all the pages of my life were spread out before You, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV) – “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Kick Those Anxious Thoughts to the Curb!

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition [humble and earnest asking], with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me [Paul, author of Philippians] – put it into practice. And the God of peace [contentment, fulfillment, security] will be with you.”

-Philippians 4:4-9 (emphasis and additions mine)

Goodness, I love this passage. 

And maybe you’ve read it many times – but I like to go back and read it with fresh eyes as though it is an official instruction manual for my heart and mind.

(Maybe that’s just the type-A, always-loves-a-good-plan part of me. But it works!)

I have this passage written down on an index card in the form of a checklist (type-A again, folks!):

  • Pray
  • Give the worry to God
  • Give thanks
  • Think about what is true.

Then, when I start to worry, I pull the card out and remind myself to give my worry to One who loves me most.

Or, in other words, I kick that anxious thought right in the pants! WABAM!!! (Also, can you tell I work with kids? I literally just did the slicing-the-air motion with my arm. I think I might be heavily influenced right now by the new ninja moves I’m learning).

Anyway, I’m not a very practical person – emotions are like, way better (kidding! sort of.) – but sometimes it’s good to have plain old practical advice. Here are two practical heart and mind “ninja moves” (I can’t get over this ninja theme!), that I like to use to kick worry to the curb. 🙂

1. The What-If’s and Worst Case Scenarios

Typically, if I have an anxious thought that won’t leave me alone and preoccupies my mind, it’s a “what-if” scenario.

I’m sure you know the thoughts well:

What if she thinks _______? What if they don’t like _______? What if I do something wrong? What if_______ happens?”

Clearly, these thoughts need a good karate chop.

So when I realize I’m playing a what-if on repeat in my mind, then I look back at my heart instructions from Philippians 4:8:

Paul writes, “Whatever is true…think about such things” (Phil 4:8).

Oh!

Because you know what?

“What-ifs” are not true! That’s why they’re called, “what-ifs” instead of “reality!”

So we shouldn’t even worry about them!

Whew! Praise God, right?

(Because what-ifs can be downright scary. Especially if you’re a creative type like me and think up scenarios for a living).

So why worry and focus on what-if scenarios as though they are true?

Because God, in His lovingkindness, has shown us what to focus on instead.

He instructs us to focus on “what is true.” Not on what we’re afraid might happen.

Karate chop number one, folks!

2. The Power of Giving Thanks

If you’ve read any of my posts, or if you’ve ever heard me talk… pretty much ever, then you know I love the writer, blogger, and photographer, Ann Voskamp.

God has blessed and used her book 1,000 Gifts to truly change my heart and my life.

1,000 Gifts beautifully illustrates the importance of giving thanks to God.

Voskamp says, “It is impossible to feel thankful and anxious at the same time. So we must choose to give thanks.”

Do you see the beautiful gift we have here, friends? That we can choose the path of life instead of the path of worry simply by choosing to give thanks?

And not only is a mindset of thankfulness an open window and fresh air for our hearts, but giving thanks is a command from our Perfectly Loving Father.

Looking back at our heart instructions, Paul writes:

“…with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil 4:6).

How beautiful. That very sentence makes my heart sing! Not only are we free to give thanks, but we must give thanks! What a delightful charge.

And yet, how often do we all skip over the “with thanksgiving” part and head straight to the “present your requests to God” part?

…Yeah, me too.

Because when I’m worried, I am not in the mood to focus on things I am thankful for.

And so, I must choose. We must all choose to give thanks in those times of worry.

I also ask God for His help.

And then, quietly but surely, my heart and mind start to think calmly and hopefully while I give thanks.

If you’ve never prayed prayers of thanksgiving when you’re worried, I find it helpful to start off by telling God thank You for the truth about who He is.

We can thank Him for all these things because they are written in scripture, so they are the truest of true:

God is good and faithful (Lamentations 3:22-23),

He is all-knowing and all-powerful (Isaiah 55:8-9, Psalm 139: 1-6),

He is perfectly loving (Psalm 23:6, John 3:16, Psalm 103:8) .

He has good plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11).

And then, with a heart growing calmer and steadier through the giving of thanks, I love to move on to thank Him for fuzzy socks and cat purrs and then sometimes cat bites and space heaters and chocolate chip cookie dough and the small but beautiful gifts like those.

And I’ve learned through experience that a thankful heart opens the door to let God’s peace come in, displace the worry, and strengthen the faith.

Karate chop number 2! WABAM!!! (I felt the sound effect was warranted again. Thankfulness makes me so happy!! What can I say?)

Encouragement

Friends, if you are like me, and you get caught in the net of worrying way too much, you are in good company!

Remember how Jesus walked on water that one time, and Peter got out of the boat to walk toward him, but then Peter got scared – started to worry – and so then he started to sink? I love how even Peter, a man who is looking right at Jesus, a man who gets to touch Him and talk to Him in person, who is His very apostle, and who is called “Blessed” by Jesus in a conversation with Him, still struggles with feeling anxious. I also love how even though Peter became anxious, Jesus reached out and saved him. Jesus did not let him sink.

Perfect Love.

Perfect Love Who desires us to “Cast all [our] anxiety on Him because He cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7, modifications mine).

Now, in a very serious conclusion, if you ever get stuck and are drawing a blank about something to be thankful for, hear this:

“And on that day, God made bacon and said, ‘Men, I love you.’ And then He made chocolate and said, ‘Women, I love you too.’” – Michael.

I like to think God laughs at our jokes sometimes. 🙂

There is ALWAYS bacon, chocolate, and the never-ending love of the God who loves you more than life!

Blessings, peace, karate chops, and bacon and chocolate to you,

Robyn

Those Ugly Stepsisters: perfection & fear

Dear friends, a few nights ago I froze at my computer.

At the keyboard, more specifically.

My brain turned into a blank piece of paper and the words wouldn’t come.

I felt anxious.

And so I prayed and I read Ann Voskamp (highly recommended) and I wrote in my journal and I ate chocolate and I watched a rerun of Boy Meets World.

Then, I told Michael about what I was feeling. He said, “You need to write about this. About how you took on something big and you’re nervous but – God’s in your court.”

And I said, “…Okay. Done.”

Because Michael knows me better than I know myself a lot of the time.

And when that logical, loving man tells me I need to write, I know he’s right.

Now, the “something big” I’ve taken on is becoming a writer professionally.

More specifically, writing books for children.

That’s a big leap.

It’s awesome, it’s scary, it’s for such a time as this, it’s blessed, it’s my dream, and its biggest adversary is this:

Perfectionism.

Ugh.

Even that word is pointy and ugly and harsh, isn’t it?

Back to the moment when I froze at the keyboard.

Perfectionism does that, doesn’t it?

Makes you freeze.

Paralyzes you.

Ever heard the phrase, “paralyzed by fear?”

Yep.

Fear and perfectionism go together.

They are like the mean, ugly stepsisters in Cinderella.

(I relate most things to Disney movies, by the way.)

Like the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella, fear and perfectionism see beauty and hope and creativity and boldness and God’s glory – and they don’t like it.

So they try to sabotage it.

Remember when the mean, ugly stepsisters see Cinderella in her mother’s dress, getting ready for the ball, and they rip the beautiful dress to shreds so she can’t go and display all her God-given beauty?

Terrible!

Horrible!

Putting that moment in writing is even worse than watching it happen.

It also makes me want to go watch Cinderella again.

Can’t you see that’s what happens to us, dear friends, when fear and perfectionism attack?

Let me put it in non-Disney terms for those who don’t see things quite like me:

Perfectionism is:

  • When you’re afraid to start something – simply because you’re afraid you won’t be good at it. If you procrastinate, then there’s no opportunity to fail, is there?
  • Quitting something because it’s harder than you thought and you were supposed to be good at it, right? But you weren’t perfect right off the bat. So you stopped.
  • When you’ve worked for hours on a presentation and you’re smart and you’re ready, and then you get to the front and start sweating bullets and wondering how you look to the people in the room. What if they don’t like what you’re saying? What if you get something wrong? You get distracted and you fumble your smart words.
  • When you’re teaching, and you teach every day with those kids in mind and you plan for hours and your heart is all in and yet the minute your principal walks in your room to observe, you doubt. You fear. Are you perfect enough in her eyes? What if she sees you make a mistake? What grade will you get on your evaluation? You get distracted and you forget what you were even teaching in the first place.
  • When you don’t want to go on that date with the nice person or agree to a relationship with the nice person who has given you no reason to doubt, simply because you don’t want to get hurt if it doesn’t work out.

I think all these examples can be summed up in this one kicker of a paralyzing lie:

“I want to do everything perfectly, I want to be perfect — so I don’t get hurt or disappointed” (in your job, in your marriage, in your friendships, etc).

Dear hearts, this is no way to live.

Perfectionism isn’t living.

It’s striving. It’s frustrating.

It’s also impossible.

And yet, perfectionism and fear are so commonplace we don’t notice them for what they are most of the time.

But they’re there.

And like the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella, they will rip to shreds our beautiful gowns of creativity, beauty, intelligence, success, and any God-given glory we have if we let them.

Dear friends, perfectionism does not protect. Fear does not protect.

Rather, they stifle.

I am glad Thomas Edison was not a perfectionist.

He said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

I like him already. Refreshing, isn’t it?

He’s not saying he doesn’t ever fail, he’s just saying he uses those failed attempts to keep trying.

And I’m glad he did! (He invented light bulbs, for those of you who are scientifically unaware like I am).

Isn’t that what God tells us to do, dear friends? (Not to invent light bulbs, ha!) – but to keep trying?

We cannot pick back up and try again by our own strength, but here is why we can pick back up and try again:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

His mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23, emphasis mine.

You see, He picks up back up each time. And so we can try again.

Because like the rising of the sun each morning, so does the Lord’s grace fall upon and bless and strengthen the hearts of His children.

And so, we try again.

Because our Father separates our sins from us so far as the east is from the west, we try again (psalm 103:12).

And then, we try again.

We are loved as high as the heavens are above the earth (Psalm 103:11). And so we pick back up and try again.

And when a group of Pharisees (a.k.a perfectionists, if you ask me, because I see my own weaknesses in their flawed perceptions) ask Jesus why He is eating with the “screw-ups” of that society, if you will, he responds with this:

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17.

I suppose that is why Paul says to boast about our weaknesses (2 Cor 12:9). Because when we are real about our weaknesses, about our imperfections, the humble sacrifice of realness sets a beautiful backdrop for Christ’s light to shine brightly into our weaknesses and into the hearts of others, setting hearts free to abide in His love.

So let’s do this, dear friends.

Let’s love Christ without fear. Let’s love others without fear. Let’s stop trying to be good enough for God.

Because we never will be.

But because He sent His Son, we are.

We are.

Take a breath.

He’s got you. And He loves you.

“Relax! Be silent and stop your striving,

and you will see that I am God.”

Psalm 46:10, passion translation.

So go put your Cinderella dress back on.

Let the God who loves you most stitch it back up.

And don’t let those ugly stepsisters Fear and Perfectionism sabotage your ball anymore! 😉 

Peace, blessings, and fresh mercies to you in Christ,

Robyn

When plans don’t go as planned.

My name is Robyn, I am type-A, and I am a planner.

Also, I have a 1 year-old cat.

But the cat’s beside the point.

(It’s just that he’s sitting next to me so cuddly and furry and green-eyed I couldn’t help but mention the puff of joy who likes to bite).

But, back to being a planner.

I plan lots of things, joyfully and meticulously, partnered with slow-sipped second cups of coffee and pencils freshly sharpened. (There’s just something about writing things down instead of typing, something freeing and creative and solid, isn’t there?)

I love to-do lists, grocery lists, big calendars, small agendas, lesson plans, outlines, iCalendars, automatic reminders, blank pages just waiting for words to come fill their spaces, and pens of all colors and sizes to further color-code and organize my well thought-out (and foolproof, right?!) plans.

The teacher in me is nodding an enthusiastic YES! ORGANIZATION! PLANS! Is there anything more satisfying in this constantly changing world? (Other than a perfectly crafted and baked doughy chocolate chip cookie, of course.)

But I digress.

Michael loves that I’m a planner. It helps us a lot.

Planning allows us the freedom to see friends because we carved out the time. It helps us organize finances. It helps me organize my writing into a finished piece. It picked out our wedding colors and turned them into a beautiful scene in which we became husband and wife.

I love that I’m a planner, because I think God made me that way for a reason.

But with all strengths come weaknesses, and this is one of mine: It’s easy for me to rely on my plans. In fact, I LOVE relying on my plans, because they act as my security far too often.

(Surely if we’ve planned it, we can’t fail, right?)

 But plans rarely go–ahem–as planned. Pun intended.

So then what, friends? What happens to the security blanket then – when plans don’t work out? When we get hurt or disappointed despite the amount of planning we’ve done to ensure our success and comfort?

I’ve realized recently when I stop using my owns plans as a security and choose to rely instead on the One who knows me and loves me the most, then I start to really live in the fullness of joy, success looks different to me, and comfort is not a necessity.

And yet, here is the most comforting news of all, dear friends! (Yes, even more comforting than an agenda that gets checked off with a brand new hot pink felt-tip pen.)

As lovers and followers of Jesus, we are held tightly together by our Savior, and not by our well-thought out plans (Col 1:17 “…in Him all things hold together,” emphasis added).

Note, this verse doesn’t say “in flawless plans all things hold together.”

Would someone elect to remind me of this every day? Thanks in advance, friends.

And truly, when I really think about it, how many of my plans have actually turned out the way I thought they would?

And yet, am I okay? Am I living fully?

Yes, and a joyful yes.

But, clearly not because of my own plans.

It took a recent change in my well thought-out career plans to throw me into the loving arms of Jesus and lead me to find my worth in Him, and not in my job title nor in my plans.

It’s humbling. It’s nerve-wracking. And it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.

Not because of the event itself, but because Jesus had and has His careful hand in every aspect of my life, and when I look and see where I’ve been and what I’m doing now, there’s no doubt in my mind about His goodness and His love for me.

Isn’t it great, this grace? That when our plans don’t work out as we originally hoped, we are held together. We are loved.

And maybe that’s the bigger point of this whole thing than having perfect plans.

 Further, I’ve come to see in a more tangible way that God has His own plans for me – and they are good:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

I don’t know what exactly these plans are for me at this moment in clear detail, but isn’t that faith, dear friends? Having the knowledge that God created our very hearts and thus the desires within, and has the loving-kindness to give us our hearts’ desires through His good plans for us?

So what then, referring back to Jeremiah 29:11, when we are harmed? When we are disappointed? When we are hurt? Certainly, these painful things will happen, even when we are smack in the middle of God’s good plans for us. Jesus tells us hurtful things will happen (John 16:33).

Could it mean God’s plans have gone awry? Does it mean that I should, indeed, fold and find security in my own painstakingly thought-out plans as an attempt to protect myself from being hurt?

That is the temptation, is it not?

You understand. In the midst of the plans God has for us and the plans we’ve made for ourselves, certainly we’ve been deeply hurt. We’ve been disappointed. We’ve been hurt by circumstances, by those who love us, by those in charge of us, and by those who hardly know us at all.

So what then, dear friends?

Beautiful news! As Christ’s children, we have a promise in those hard circumstances. This promise from our loving Father reveals even more of God’s good plans for us, and it assures us with a burst of light and hope and peace that nothing can change God’s good plans for us:

 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)

 What a deep sigh of relief. And yet, this verse does not say, “If you are following God’s plan, you will not get hurt.”

Oh, friends. I do not like pain. But the joyful hope and redemption is this: in His good plans, God has a glorious purpose for us in every hurt. Tears spring to my eyes with the joy of this Love.

Here, God not only promises to work all things for our good (meaning, not just the good things – but the bad and hurtful things that happen too), but He also reminds us here that we were chosen for a purpose. For a plan. So when someone hurts us, when circumstances disappoint us, when we get sick, when we feel lost, when our own plans don’t work, these disappointing things will be used for our good by the Father who loves us most and who also promises us a plan for our lives so great we can’t even imagine it (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Considering these truths, I hardly feel the need to rely on or find security in my own plans. I do not feel the need to plan myself into safety. In fact, doing so feels silly.

How could my plan even compare to the plan my Heavenly Father has for me? And since God promises to work all things together for my good, from what must I plan to protect myself?

This is great news, friends!

Perhaps this is what Paul meant when he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil 4:4).

Paul did not say to rejoice when our plans work out. He said to rejoice always.

Perhaps it’s because he knew that which I am just now understanding: God’s plans for us are truly good and full of hope in every circumstance. And so, we rejoice!

Blessings upon your heart today. Blessings to you on a day planned just for you. Blessings to you who are made for a brilliant and grand purpose so delightful and lovely you can’t even fully understand it until you see Jesus face-to-face. Blessings to you who are safe in Him.

And praise to the God who loves us steadfastly, is faithful always, has good plans for us, and who also created big, blank calendars and multi-colored pens for His beloved planners 🙂

In His steadfast love and grace,

 

Robyn

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8).

The Best Thing To Do

Michael and I try to pray together weekly. My favorite time with him is when we sit down and come to God together with our fears, hopes, dreams, burdens, and praises.

 We’re not perfect at praying weekly, by any means. It’s ridiculously hard sometimes to convince ourselves we’re not “too busy” to talk to God together. (Because obviously, watching Full House reruns and doing some work to get ahead on a Sunday night is clearly the better option…not.)

 But truly, by God’s grace, mercy, and love, praying together is something that Michael and I have been intentional about since we got engaged two years ago. And God meets us where we are every time. I am thankful for God’s patience with our short attention spans – even when we’ve skipped a few weeks, or even if I still feel “too busy” as we sit down to pray, God hears us. And God loves us. And undeservingly, God blesses us. Every time.  

 Something I read recently about prayer struck me in its simplicity:

 “The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.” 1 Timothy 2:1, MSG version.

 It’s so simple.

 I think I’ve made talking to God much more rigid and complicated than it needs to be. The writer here (Paul) didn’t tell me I can only pray after I’ve sat down for a quiet time, or after I’ve read a decent amount of the Bible for the day. (Don’t get me wrong – “quiet times” and are good, and the Bible is more necessary for life than I can express.) But I don’t think God is a God of checklists. I think our God is a God who knows what His children need, and He knows that we desperately need to be in communication with Him.

 I’ve learned, as God’s children, we are encouraged to pray to our perfectly loving Father (1 John 4:8) about everything without hesitation. Because Jesus came, those who trust in Him can “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb 4:16). God calls me good enough to come to Him with confidence. Because of Jesus.

 Coming from a perfectionist (not a good thing) who catches myself trying to “be good enough” for God before I can come to Him in prayer, I keep these verses handy to remind myself of the God with whom we speak:

 “For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is [God’s] love for those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our [sins] from us.”

Psalm 103:11-12

Meaning, God loves me as high as the clouds sit in the sky, and He has already forgiven me for the mistake I made 5 minutes ago when I snapped at Michael for chewing skittles too loudly. This is the God I may approach with confidence in prayer. 

Something else Paul says in the Timothy scripture line gets me: “Pray…for everyone you know.”

I can think of some exceptions that my stubborn self would like to skip over while praying. (These “exceptions” popped into my head the minute I read the line about praying for everyone. Maybe it’s because my “exceptions” really need a lot of prayer. Or maybe it’s because I need a lot of prayer. Probably both.)

Truly though, it’s a joy to pray for people who love me well.

Just as sweet, if not sweeter: It’s healing to pray for people who don’t love me well. Healing, because I can’t pray for hurtful people by myself – I need to team up with God to do it. I need His perfect love to help me. I need His love that doesn’t hold grudges. I need His love that forgives me and forgives other people. Pairing up with that kind of love – it’s healing.

 The best thing I’ve learned to do this year is to pray. To pray “first, for everyone I know, and every way I know how. ” (1 Timothy 2:1). And by God’s grace and love, I can.

Be encouraged that the God of love, compassion, mercy, and grace, loves you dearly. I bet He would like to tell you that, too, every way you know how to listen.

 

Blessings to you,

 Robyn