living braver

one faith step at a time…


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Trail or Trial…

trailgirl     Hiking in the eastern Tennessee mountains is full of wonder. The beauty of the terrain and the glory of the blue sky with whispers of ‘smoke’ from those Smoky Mountains are inspiring. Trails that lead away from hectic, leaving all trials behind.

Even when we can’t retreat to some perceived escape from today, there is still a choice. To choose to call the path a trail or a trial.

When we hiked in the mountains we kept our eyes alert – it wasn’t our territory. Bears, snakes, and other less threatening critters called these places home. Trail markers led us either to the intended destination or off towards another venue. And unexpected beauty could easily be missed. So always searching eyes had to take note. If we hadn’t, we could have gotten lost, injured, or missed something special.

bear trail

As we hike through trials in life we are told be alert as well. “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:18 NLT)

Though the hikes in the mountains have many rewards it is hard work. A short hike requires only a bottle of water and good shoes. A longer one may require snacks, extra water, sunscreen, walking stick, and stops for rest along the way. Preparation.

trail flowerx

Often we don’t think we’re prepared for life’s many trials, but we can be. We do have a trail map, a trail guide, and a destination. Being very familiar with God’s Word is a source of great comfort in those trying times. Knowing that His indwelling Spirit is with us at all times gives us bottomless wisdom for the decisions we must make. And knowing Who waits for us at the end of the trail and what the ‘destination’ is are how we persevere.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12 NIV)

A crown of life – life in the newness of perfect creation, ours to hike through and explore the glory of forever…

fall trail

 

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Towards…

airplane     Sometimes we just have to move. I am finding that moving with a sore back has to be deliberate. If I find a comfortable spot, I just want to stay put. But in the end, that leads to more pain.

It is the same in our relationship with God. We must always be moving with Him: growing in our knowledge of Him, seeking His wisdom, knowing His Word and His ways better and better.

Sometimes we find a comfortable spot in our God relationship – we want to stay there. To move would not be easy. But when we don’t move beyond this comfortable spot, we stagnate and grow stiff and in the end it’s not so comfortable after all.

“For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28a NIV)

boats

We have a heavenly destination. In this earth suit we wear we will not reach it, but when we close our eyes to this world and open them in the next we will have arrived. There is fuel for the journey: the Bible. There is protection for the journey: the Holy Spirit. There are travelling companions for the journey: fellow Christians.

Along the way there will be potholes, wrong turns. At those times satan will try to convince us that we are stuck, that our past is all we are, ever will be.

“The next time satan reminds you of your past, remind him of your future.” Sue Edwards

balloon

For every disappointment – be they backaches, financial downturns, loss of innocence, and so many other heartaches – there beats the heart of a loving Father who is with us. Nothing can touch us. Oh yes, here we will feel pain, but here is not our destination.

Buckle up, the journey is crazy good, crazy hard, but soon you will be home…

“Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight…So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” (2Corinthians 5:6-7, 9 NIV)

girl in field

If you stopped by because you read my devotion today over at Encouragement Cafe, WELCOME!   So glad you are here!


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Gathering Place…

bench pillows pixa     There is a place, a gathering place, it is calm there and peace whispers your name with love.

Don’t need to travel far but you have to turn away from the day to day to find it. It’s as close as a deep exhale and as far as the heavens that stretch into eternity.

“He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11 NIV)

Close to His heart, gathered in His arms, the gathering place…

pink sunrise pixa

Can’t see it, but we can feel it. Can’t be lost in it all the time, but we can never leave it. This place, the heartbeat of Jesus, is at once where our head lays and where we find brave for our next step of faith.

We’re there when all the world is shut out and we lay bare our hearts seeking His wisdom, His grace, His healing, His power, His forgiveness, giving thanks in all circumstances.

We’re there when open in our laps is the Word of life, living and active, new every morning mercies, the answers before the question forms.

Bible pixa

There’s a great song by Casting Crowns ‘Just Be Held’, the chorus reminds us Who gathers us close:

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

“I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4b NIV)

This, then, is how we Live Brave: in our weakness we let ourselves be gathered to the heart of our Sustainer. We surrender our effort to the timing of our Rescuer. We lift up our eyes and empty our hands of control. The Gathering Place, tell everyone about it…

man on hill pixa

 


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Willing…

joy pixa x     Someone recently said ‘What if we’re only as strong as we are joyful?’

The more I thought about it the more I realized that, despite whatever the circumstances, when I choose joy, I feel stronger. It is in those times I am surrendering my will knowing that God is in perfect control. I may not be happy, but happiness and joy are two different things.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to move forward with God.” Pastor Matt Price Joy strength isn’t dependent on me – no amount of ‘chin up’, ‘push through’, ‘just do it’ can make a difference. But willingness can make the difference – the difference between discouragement and direction, the difference between worry and wisdom, the difference between self and surrender.

railroad me x

But moving forward is where we often get stuck. Stuck in the past or in the now – stuck in our abilities instead of relying on God’s. We go about our days drawing on our strength. Yet we’re told “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (1Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

There’s a song by Lauren Daigle, Trust In You with this chorus:

“When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!”

mountain pixa

So we must keep an eternal perspective, because our hope is not in this life – it is in our eternity. While today’s mountains may seem insurmountable or the agitations may cause us to stumble, they are only temporary. It is hard for us finite humans to rest in an infinite God, but to Live Brave we’re only called to take one willing step at a time and to remember: “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied….But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Corinthians 15:19 & 57 NIV)

Strength in joy and courage to be willing to move forward with God, hope for today and all our tomorrows…

girl in field pixa x

 

 


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The GIVING of THANKS…

???????????????????????????????    Is this it… is Giving what its all about? That risk of giving and never receiving back, of sleepless nights, of tears… Is this it… Giving Thanks no matter the outcome? Braver is in the ‘Thank You, Father’ – because You love me and even in all this messiness there is grace, there is love, there is – thanks…

Can we accept the good job, the steady paycheck – but not the slim times, not the going without? Can we accept the love of family and friends – but not the heartbreak, not the loneliness? Can we accept the young healthy days, the looking forward to tomorrows – but not the sickness and pain, not the little time left?

The Giving of Thanks – now at this time of year and every day cannot rest on circumstances. Our fear, anxiety, doubt will try to overshadow our heart…

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thessalonians 5:18 NIV italics & underline mine) Are we only to give thanks in the good circumstances? No in all…

A beautiful song by Laura Story says…

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
  What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise…

Happy Giving of Thanks… don’t hold back for it is only in the midst of the desperate sacrifice of thank-full lips that we can find courage to Live Brave…