Wednesday, December 31, 2014

THAT ONE WORD

I knew what I was being nudged to do. Give it away. But the practical side of me screamed NO. It's been another lean month. My mind kept rehearsing various expenses in the coming days and weeks ahead.

I felt sick inside when the opportunity literally passed me by. But it was the right decision -- the responsible thing to do. After all, we had a stack of bills needing to be paid. Groceries to purchase. And on and on.

But that nagging feeling lingered. Why didn't I give it away? What was the real, underlying reason?

I told myself, if God really wanted me to give the money away, He could provide me with an envelope to place it in. I looked around the seats next to me and on the floor by my feet. I sighed with relief when I saw no envelope.

After the service, I stood up and inched my way to the exit. There, on the ground inside the doorway sat an envelope. Crisp, white, unused, like a neon sign flashing in front of me.

I casually stepped over the white paper and continued on my way, all the while realizing what I had done. And my intentional disregard to what I knew I had been called to do pierced me.

I went home feeling completely awful about myself. Why didn't I give the money away? If I truly believe God is my Provider, why did I hold on so tightly to His provision?

TRUST. It all comes down to that one word. It's a daily decision, and one I'm slow in learning. Trust God and His goodness.

Later that day, I ran to Him. "I'm so sorry. I should have listened. I should have followed the prompt to give. I was scared. I'm scared a lot, Lord. I don't see how this is all going to play out. I want to trust You completely, but I still don't know how to do that."

That afternoon He revealed it had nothing to do with the cash in my wallet. It had everything to do with my progress in this TRUST journey. He wanted me to see I still have far to go.

The next day I received an unexpected package in the mail. My niece had a sign made for me with that one word, TRUST. She told me how much she loved the rough spots in the background. How fitting, she commented, because God wants us to learn to trust Him in the rough seasons of our lives.

She was so right. The sign sits above my door, a daily reminder to TRUST. That one word. It changes everything.

"I have held many things in my hands, and I lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess."
~Martin Luther

"Worrying doesn't change anything, but trusting in God changes everything."
~Author Unknown


Copyright 2014 by Julie Cowell.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

TRUST ME

"THOSE WHO TRUST IN THE LORD FOR HELP WILL FIND THEIR STRENGTH RENEWED. THEY WILL RISE ON WINGS LIKE EAGLES; THEY WILL RUN AND NOT GET WEARY; THEY WILL WALK AND NOT GROW WEAK." ~Isaiah 40:31, GNT

No one had prepared her for this. True, she knew it wouldn't be an easy trek. And to be honest, her dreams had been all about the mountain peak and the panoramic views. Little thought had gone into the demands it would place on her.

But the steep climb as the air thinned had her wondering, was it really worth this much agony and hard work? The weight of her pack on her achy back side added to her disheartened mood and fueled her doubts.

She paused mid-stride and inhaled as deeply as she could, then reached for her canteen dangling on her backpack's frame. She was parched. Though the mountain air at such high elevation felt cool to her skin, the sun's uninhibited stream along this long stretch of the trail felt relentless. Beads of sweat on her brow were wiped away by her dusty sleeve, the same fabric she'd occupied for days.

Another high step over rocky terrain brought a new wave of pain to both feet. Blisters, now popped from the constant friction, would need tending to when she stopped for the day.

Her guide rested his hand on her shoulder. He'd been silent, respecting her need for peace and solitude. But the same wisdom that told him when to remain quiet also prodded him to speak words of encouragement when the time was right. "You can do this. We're getting close, less than a half a day away. TRUST ME, it'll be worth it."

She looked up into his face, his leathery tanned skin and eyes that seemed to dance with excitement. He didn't even look tired. But it was different for him; he'd made this trip many times before.

She looked down at the path beneath her, shaking her head in disbelief. I can't last that long, she thought. I don't know if I can take one more step.

"Come on! You can do this! TRUST ME."

She glanced at her guide again, feeling the crimson rise in her cheeks. Had he read her discouraged self-talk? Maybe it was written in her expression and posture.

"You've come so far. Don't give up now! I know you're in pain. And you're bone tired. But you have to TRUST ME. If you don't go all the way to the top, you'll regret it the rest of your life. Once you're there, you'll realize it was worth every ounce of effort and all the pain you're enduring."

His words sank in deep. She put one foot in front of the other, slowly at first, then worked her way up to a respectable pace. Though the pain was intensifying, it was no longer her focus. Now, all she could think about was the prize awaiting her.

Hours later, she stood at the top, bent over by exhaustion and the weight of her pack. Releasing the straps, she let it fall to her side, and stood straight, breathing in as deeply as the altitude would allow. Then, eyes open wide, she took a good long look all around her. Nothing could have prepared her for the beauty surrounding her on every side. She laughed in victorious delight, then hugged her guide with a renewed strength. Nestling onto a large rock, she sat down and drank in the view.

Copyright 2014 by Julie Cowell.

For those of you on a rugged and painful journey right now, may I encourage you? Don't give up! Our Guide is right there with you, encouraging you on. So am I. Remember, the harder the journey, the richer the treasure that awaits you if you stay the course. And here's His promise ~

"NO EYE HAS SEEN, NO EAR HAS HEARD, AND NO MIND HAS IMAGINED WHAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." ~1 Corinthians 2:9