Finding Success without a Doubt

Then I said to you, “You have reached the hill country of the Amorites, which the Lord our God is giving us. 21 See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 1:20-21)

Fear Not

(31/365 days of Fear Not)

Maybe it’s because we’re human so we project our limited vision and abilities on God and when He presents us with His dream or His purpose for our lives, we doubt. We freeze in our tracks. We second guess.

We want to believe, but we need proof. We don’t want to have crossed through the desert only to realize that it was all for nothing. Despite all that God has done before is forgotten as we stand on the threshold of His promise for this moment.

That’s what happened with the Israelites. In fact, it happened with them quite often. And despite Moses’ assurances based on his audience with God, they were afraid. God has given you the land.

But they wanted more than Moses’ assurances from God. They wanted proof from some of their friends. They wanted nods of approval from peers, friends, family, colleagues.

Have you ever been there?

Have you ever started out on a journey, living out your God-given purpose for your life with confidence and anticipation and excitement? And then, you hit the first obstacle, and doubt sets in. And then, you hit more obstacles and your pace slows and you look for others to tell you that you’re doing the right thing.

That’s what the Israelites needed. They wanted Moses to send out spies so they’d know what they were facing.

Except that the land was already theirs. God was taking care of the people in the land, had already gone out ahead of them to prepare the land for them. They only needed to claim it.

Is there something you’re meant to claim? Is there a promise that God has given to you but that you’re not sure about right now?

Don’t be discouraged.

Press on.

Trust God, not the world.

Claim it.

Go up and take possession of it.

To take hold of your dream, you have to let go of your doubt.

The Inner Workings of a Dream

At that time I said to you, “You are too heavy a burden for me to carry alone. The Lord your God has increased your numbers so that today you are as numerous as the stars in the sky. May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised! But how can I bear your problems and your burdens and your disputes all by myself? Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.”

You answered me, “What you propose to do is good.”

So I took the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men, and appointed them to have authority over you—as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials. And I charged your judges at that time, “Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you. Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.” And at that time I told you everything you were to do. (Deuteronomy 1:9-18)

Fear Not

(30/365 days of Fear Not)

Sometimes, when I’m working on my God-given dream or living out my God-given purpose, I forget that the work is not all about me and that it’s meant to be shared. It’s meant to point others to God.

But there are times when I feel protective of my vision and so I’m selfish with it.

In fact, I try to keep it to myself so that no one knows what I’m doing. I figure that the fewer people who know what I’m doing or growing or creating, the fewer naysayers there will be. The fewer dissenters. The fewer haters.

But that’s not how God designed this business of living out the dreams He’s given each of us. He has planted a purpose, His purpose, in our hearts so that we can bring a small part of His kingdom to bear on the world around us. A world that is broken and hurting. A world that is desperate for Him and His dream-bearers.

But we cannot go it alone.

Eventually, our vision, our calling, our purpose, our dream must be shared with those around us and with whom we live our lives. We need community. We need an inner circle.

Consider Moses.

He was leading the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Part of Moses’ role as their leader included hearing disputes and bearing the problems and conflicts of the community. But as God increased their numbers, this became too much for Moses to bear alone.

He needed others to share his vision and share his burden.

He needed wise and respected leaders to serve as his inner circle and to serve the people and to bear the problems and burdens of the community.

Moses needed help.

We all do.

And we don’t need to be afraid to ask for help or to delegate part of our vision to a trusted and wise inner circle.

Eventually, all we do and all we build belongs not to us but to God.

We need to trust Him to guide us and to provide an inner circle for us.

And as He does this, as He provides a trusted team, we need to heed their counsel as much as we lead them with our vision.

The Rest of Wisdom

My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
    preserve sound judgment and discretion;
they will be life for you,
    an ornament to grace your neck.
Then you will go on your way in safety,
    and your foot will not stumble.
When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
    when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. (Proverbs 3:21-24)

Fear Not

(29/365 days of Fear Not)

Lately I’ve been having the strangest dreams. Some are more disturbing than strange. They involve evil people and being chased and becoming lost. And they disrupt my sleep, leaving me feeling disoriented and anxious until I remind myself that they are not real and I reconnect with my surroundings. I have to ground myself in the reality of what I know is true in order to dismiss what is not real.

And that’s similar to how I feel when I am hit or miss, lukewarm, and too sporadic in spending time with Jesus. When I don’t make Him a priority, I feel unfocused and disoriented and so much more anxious. I feel lost and wandering and have difficulty getting life done.

It used to take me some time to realize what was going on when I was a younger version of me. I’d pursue several other things before I finally set about seeking God’s presence and reconnecting my heart, my soul and my mind to Him.

When I am not tethered to His truth or to Him through His word, my life is out of balance and my judgment suffers. I begin making poor choices and heaping difficult consequences upon difficult consequences.

It doesn’t take me long to notice that imbalance these days and the name of Jesus flows from my heart and my tongue often and quite readily when I sense the first stumbling steps of my thinking and notice familiar fear creeping into my mind.

Wisdom, discretion, understanding, sound judgment.

Truly these are gems to treasure as we move through our days. Truly they keep our feet upon the path so that we will not stumble.

Even in the face of obstacles or difficult circumstances, they lead me always in the direction of God because although He will never leave me nor forsake me, I too often wander off from His ways.

But there is nothing more comforting than His presence when my day comes to its close and His words and His promises lead me into sweet sleep. I can rest in peace no matter what the day held because He is there. He is with me and I will not fear.

Take that, fear.

It Takes Courage to Wait

The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone.

No one had eaten for a long time. Finally, Paul called the crew together and said, “Men, you should have listened to me in the first place and not left Crete. You would have avoided all this damage and loss. But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. (Acts 27:20-22)

Fear Not

(28/365 days of Fear Not)

Ever get in a big hurry to get something done? Especially if it’s something about which you feel passionate? Or to which you feel called?

You know it’s a God-given dream and purpose and so you take off at top speed without over-thinking things? Maybe without thinking about things at all?

I have.

Moses did.

Abraham did, with Sarah’s help.

Peter did. Often.

Jonah did. (Though he actually ran in the opposite direction).

It’s not enough to have a God-given, God-sized dream.

There’s also the God-timing to consider.

Moses ended up waiting 40 years to lead God’s people out of Egypt, tending sheep and living in the desert wilderness.

Abraham’s choice set the stage for the conflict between the Jews and the Muslims (according to many scholars).

Peter was often impetuous and sometimes chastised (and rebuked at least once) as a result.

Jonah spent some time in the belly of a big fish.

Fortunately, God is able to take our passionate rushing ahead and use it in spite of us. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be difficulties and consequences and storms. If we search through scripture, we’ll see plenty of instances beyond these few mentioned here where taking matters into your own hands wreaks havoc, sometimes only for the individual, sometimes far more reaching.

So, the choice comes down to take courage and wait on the Lord or take courage and know you’ll survive the storm though your ship may sink and it may take you longer to realize your dream.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent far too much time taking courage in my self-created storms because I’ve raced out ahead of God. I’m in a season of taking courage and waiting.

And, honestly, I’m loving every minute of it.

Writing Sprint: When It’s Time

Writing Sprint Wednesdays & link up

It’s time to practice our craft with a Writing Exercise. As always the Writing Sprint prompt appears at the end of this post and offers an opportunity for you to freewrite for 15 to 45 minutes without the so-called help of your inner critic. No overthinking. No stopping. No editing. No worries. Daily writing exercises help writers grow, improve and free their writing. The only rule is that you must leave a comment for at least one other writer who’s included their link. That’s it. Other than, free yourself from your doubts, your fears and your inner critic and have some writing fun with us!

{oh, and a quick p.s. If you’re joining the link up, please grab the Writing Sprint logo below and include it on your blog post, along with a link back to this page. Thanks!}

laptopWriting Sprint Prompt: Who’s That Guy?

  1. Use this line to begin your story: There’s a guy sitting on a park bench reading a newspaper… (you can use it as the first line or just let it inspire the story by including the man sitting on a park bench reading a newspaper and see where it takes you).

{Before I get started, I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 45 minute time, I have created a playlist on Spotify that allows me to put together songs that come close to 45 minutes. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing}

{start}

When It’s Time

Clare noticed him for the fourth time that day, this time sitting on the park bench reading a newspaper. Just like every other time she couldn’t see his face, but she knew it was the same guy. She paused and bent down to retie her sneakers, taking in the particulars of his clothing. Obviously he was watching her, so she did her best not to be obvious, but she wanted to memorize as much detail as she could. After another moment she righted herself and continued with her run until she was far enough out of his line of sight that she could stop, get out her phone and jot down the details she’d made mental notes of:

  • well-polished brown casual slip on work shoes
  • dark blue denim jeans
  • silver watch band on right wrist
  • white button-down shirt with thin stripes (looked reddish, may have been two different colors, red and blue?)
  • shirt sleeves were cuffed twice
  • tapping left foot in a steady rhythm (listening to music?)
  • well-manicured hands/nails

She took in the list for a moment. I wish I could get a look at his face, she thought. And then, without thinking it through, she turned around and headed back into the park. She slowed as she approached the turn that would lead to the bench where she’d seen him. What if he’s a serial killer? Or a stalker? He could be a secret admirer, she argued with herself. Which is pretty much a stalker, she told herself.

Slowing her stride only slightly, she rounded the bend and saw he was gone. She was relieved and disappointed as she scanned the path ahead of her and the surrounding grassy areas. The buzzing of her phone caused her to jump. A new text message flashed on the screen:

When it’s time for you to know, you’ll know.

Clare looked up, her eyes darting around quickly. He knows I’m here. For a moment she debated whether to flee or to stand her ground. She decided she would show no fear and sat down on the bench where the stranger had been only a few minutes ago. As she stared at her phone, it buzzed again. Immediately she looked up and around. She saw a couple of moms pushing strollers and talking animatedly on the path leading to the duck pond area and a couple of runners on the path she’d just come back on. The phone buzzed again and she looked at it, shaking her head at her instant paranoia. It was a text from her best friend, Maren, asking whether they were still meeting for lunch.

Of course, she texted and then headed home to shower and head over to Rosa’s to meet Maren.

 

Rosa’s was busy but Clare quickly spotted her best friend at a table by the window.

“It’s been too long,” Maren said, standing up and embracing Clare in a tight hug.

“A week is definitely too long to go without seeing my best friend,” Clare replied.

The two sat and Maren slid a glass of red wine across the table to her. “Took the liberty,” Maren said.

“Thankful for that,” Clare said, lifting her glass. “To best friends and long afternoons.”

“And red wine,” Maren added.

Clare laughed. “And red wine.”

They touched glasses and sipped their wine. Clare savored the tannins as they teased her tongue with the hint of berry and chocolate. As she took another sip, she spotted the stranger across the street, causing her to choke on the smooth tasting wine and slosh the red liquid from the glass onto the white tablecloth. The spot spread like an ink blot from one of her favorite nib-tipped calligraphy pens.

“Whoa, you okay?” Maren put her own glass down.

“Oh, yeah.” Clare waved her hand. “Went down the wrong way.” Clare smiled at Maren and wiped the rim of her glass with her index finger. “So, are you getting your usual?”

Clare dropped her eyes to her menu but looked up slightly and out the window. He was gone again, but her phone buzzed and she knew even before she looked at it that it would be another strange, cryptic text message. She forced herself to smile at Maren as she checked her phone:

The time is coming sooner than you think. Enjoy a glass for me.

{Stop}

This Week’s Writing Sprint: Who’s That Guy?

Use this line to begin your story: There’s a guy sitting on a park bench reading a newspaper… (you can use it as the first line or just let it inspire the story by including the man sitting on a park bench reading a newspaper and see where it takes you).

Give us what you’ve got with as much detail and dialog as you can muster in 15 to 45 minutes. Most of all, have fun. Free your writer from your inner critic. When you’re done, come back and link up what you’ve got! And remember to give some encouragement to at least one other person in the link up community. You can post to the link up party until next Tuesday night. Hope to read you there!

Awaken to More

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:11-16)

Fear Not

(27/365 days of Fear Not)

Sometimes I forget.

I forget that this life I’m living is only a vapor.

I forget that this life isn’t about me.

I forget that this life I’ve been given is a gift from the One who also breathed the stars into existence.

I forget that the Creator of the universe knows my name.

I forget that my heavenly Father knows the number of hairs on my head and the word I’m about to speak before it’s formed on my tongue.

I forget that He who lives in me is greater than he who is in the world.

Sometimes I forget.

But more often, at least in recent days, as I abide in Jesus, I awaken to His presence within me and around me.

More often I claim His promises.

More often I seek Him with all of my heart and all of my soul.

More often I love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.

More often I cast my cares on Him.

More often I live by faith and not by sight.

I am a child of God and His Spirit dwells in me and guides me.

No longer do I need to live fearfully.

As I greet each day I know that I am living out the purpose that God sealed in my heart even as He knit me together in my mother’s womb. I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that includes the good works and the dream that God created for me and calls me into each morning.

Take that, fear.

For This Day

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
    he brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
    I look in triumph on my enemies.  (Psalm 118:5-7)

Fear Not

(26/365 days of Fear Not)

For this day, I meditate on this truth.

For this day, I claim this promise.

For this day, I cry out to God.

For this day, and every day, I give thanks that when I cry out to my Father in heaven, He hears me.

He brings me into a spacious place where I can feel the freedom of His presence and bask in the glory of His creation.

The Lord is with me; He is my helper.

As I move through the days of this life and live out the dream that God has given me, I revel in the knowledge that God helps me to be who He calls me to be.