Perseverance

Perseverance Poem

Could time stop?
Just for a minute… or ten.
I just need to catch my thoughts which are running ahead.
I need to slow down, process some pain,
not sure when it’ll feel fine, like it did the other day.
I’m not sad about my future, I’m actually thankful.
It’s the current state of my mind that is painful.
If time stopped just for me, I could catch my breathe and work out the possibilities.
What to do, how to do it, and work through my responsibilities.
Alas! Time ticks forward not slowing down today.
I guess this is perseverance; working through difficulty without delay.

Emily Aspinall

Follow the Trail

As we walk the trail of following Jesus we will face mountains in our life. To stay on trail you must climb the mountains along the way. This requires perseverance – “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”. If you know hiking, you know the pain it takes to endure and you know of the reward that waits at the top. You eat your snacks, take in the view and give yourself a real satisfaction of “I did it”. Perseverance is agreeing to climb the mountain then actually climbing the mountain and finishing the climb to feel that satisfaction. It’s a process not a product. You can’t just buy perseverance and slap in on yourself – you have to endure the difficult terrain to get it.

Why I wrote the Poem

I wrote this poem because I wanted to avoid that climb. I wanted to be okay with stepping off the trail for a moment. Asking God, give me another way, please. But the funny thing about the trail is that it doesn’t give you many options. There is only one trail and it’s narrow (Matthew 7:14). Most of the time, along the trail, there are mountains to climb. The more we CHOOSE to climb them, the easier the climb will be.

Don’t Step Off the Trail – Persevere!

Anytime I choose to persevere God meets me in midst of my struggle. I witness the provision of God come through time and time again.

God is asking us to stay on the trail of following Him, how? With perseverance. We cannot have perseverance without testing our faith during difficult terrain that scares us. Perseverance means you don’t quit easily despite the mountain you face.

So, I am thankful I do not control time because it forces me to constantly make a decision. Will I climb this mountain or wait for a new one to appear? In my experience, waiting for a new one to appear is deciding to step off the trail of following Jesus. And for me, there is only one trail I am willing to take and that is following Him, the original trailblazer.

Overcome your Mountain with Jesus

Mountains (or hardships) are inevitable in life. It’s the choice that we make that determines if we find perseverance or not.

Stuck in fear? Distracted by the heights or are you willing to just take that first step? Perseverance is continually taking that step… one foot after the other until it becomes part of who you are. Don’t underestimate the power of Jesus who has given us His Spirit to endure all things.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4 NIV

Commit to the Journey

Commit to the journey

September 2016.
Golden Ears Mountain. Maple Ridge, BC, Canada.

This photo was taken in September of 2016, newly married, and almost about to summit my first mountain with my husband. I have a huge smile on my face for many reasons. 1. conquering a mountain 2. overcoming my fear of heights and 3. sharing it with my husband. But right before this moment, there was an intense portion of the climb for me. It started to rain. A rope was dangling ready for us to use to tackle a steep section of wet rock. Trembling in doubt and then fear, I told my husband, “I don’t think I can do this.” My husband’s response, in his calm, cool, and collected manner was, “you don’t have to”.

Committing is a Choice

I am reminded of that moment because being on the trail is a choice. It is a choice to follow Jesus and to commit to changing your ways to knowing and becoming more like him. It is a choice because it is also a relationship.

Because of the relationship I have with my husband I trusted in my ability because he was there with me. I overcame my fear that day and finished the treacherous climb of Golden Ears Mountain.

One Path – Different Journey

There is only 1 path and its the same for all who commit their lives to Jesus. But two individuals on the same trail can have different experiences, perspectives, and strengths just like my husband and I that day. It was stormy for me, and not for him. A hard slog for me, and not for him. Comparing our journeys with other believer will keep us stuck, frozen and unable to move forward. Commit to your own journey with Christ and ask God to remove the temptation of comparison.

Prayer

I pray that you continue to step forward in your walk with God. Despite the fear you face and the lack of confidence you’ll have. I pray you will still persevere knowing Christ is with you.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life

Follow the Trail

I have been a follower of Jesus since I was around 4 years old. I cannot remember the exact moment of giving my life to Christ and at the same time I also cannot remember ever doubting His existence. Sure, I’ve questioned His presence in my circumstances, current situations or struggles throughout my life. But never doubted His existence of being my Saviour and Creator – “being the way, the truth and the life”. There is something very faithful about God in that. He never left me believing He was “not there”. I always knew deep within my soul that he was there and alive with me. Jesus is the way, the truth and the Life. I believe this to be true.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

Commit to the Trail

Committing your heart to Jesus means to repent of your sins and opening your heart to receive Jesus as your Saviour – forgiver of your sins (past, present and future). As well as, receiving this certainty of His existence and presence. This never leaving presence that is always in pursuit of you and your heart. The more I turn myself upward to God the more He turns INWARD to me. To gain more of God’s presence you must first believe that Jesus is the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life for you. Rejoice that there is a trail and Jesus created it for you to walk on. So you can have a lifetime of faith in His presence.

Jesus is our way to God – allow Him to mediate in your heart so you can have daily communion with Him. Despite what you encounter, endure on the trail you can rest in knowing you are never alone. The ever powerful, all-knowing, full of love and the creator of the world: God, is always with you. For me, this has always been true and I walk more boldly, more confident and more in peace knowing He abides in me.

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

John 14:1

Heavenly Father

Heavenly Father

I see God working in lives of sinners all through scripture. His kindness and mercy never seem to cease. God takes the time to direct and correct out of His love for us. This kind of love sent Jesus Christ to die as a sacrifice for our sin (John 3:16). Giving us a pathway directly to God like children we can come to Him as our Heavenly Father. A Father who says, “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

As a Mother

As a mother, I have understood more about God as my Heavenly Father. I can understand why we are His adopted children and not just His to “use”. He wants to lead us, guide us and more importantly LOVE us by telling us we are HIS (Galatians 3:26). Not some robots he wants to control and manipulate in doing His will. As a mother I cannot control my child, I instruct, discipline and love her. God is teaching me to give my daughter the grace she needs, like He does for me. Just like a toddler who tantrums, I too can feel out-of-control in front of God. Yet, in my affliction and tantrum the Lord wants me to come to Him. The Lord always wants us to come to Him as he is our Heavenly Father.

Come to your Heavenly Father

My daughter is three years old. I always try to help her throughout her troubles by stretching out my arms and saying, “come”. I never stop loving and caring for her. The best part is when my daughter does come, snotty and teary, she can trust to fall into my arms. Even when she knows she has done wrong, she needs her mom. I want to have that same love and admiration for my Heavenly Father. Where I am not ashamed to come to Him with my sin. I need Him, He knows that and with arms wide open He says, “come”. This is what God does for us as our Heavenly Father, except he is not flawed as a parent like I am. No, He is perfect, kind and merciful. The more I learn about the character of God the more I come to Him as His daughter.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

1 John 3:1

Pray

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come to you in my sin, in my joy, in my troubles and ask you to create in me a clean heart (Psalm 51:10). So I can confess my sin and grow in likeness of you. Help me to come to you even when I’m ashamed to. Thank-you Lord that you see me and know me better than I know myself. Teach me to come to you even when I don’t want or understand to.

Amen.

Stay Curious, Not Confused

God is calling us to trust Him despite what we do not know. In Proverbs 3:5 it says, “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding“. I believe by changing our mindset from confusion to curiosity begins the process of trusting God. Let’s take a look at the difference between confusion and curiosity and why we should stay curious and not confused.

Confusion

Confusion arises when we lack the wisdom of understanding. For example,“why did this happen to me?” Circling around the same problem hoping for a different outcome. By definition confused/confusion means, “lack of understanding; uncertainty” and “unable to think clearly”. If we allow ourselves to stay confused, unable to think clearly, we become angry. This anger can grow into bitterness. Bitterness towards God because of our own lack of understanding and lack of trust. This not only effects our faith but our attitudes towards those around us.

Curiosity

Curiosity by definition means, “eager to know or learn something”. I may not understand why something happened to me, but I can learn more about God through it. Curiosity gives traction to God while confusion distracts us from God. What is good for us is not to know everything, instead, we aim to know God who does. Let’s start with learning to lean on Him through a curiosity of His character not a confusion of our circumstances.

Conclusion

I trust in God and lean on His understanding because of what I lack. I may be angry and I may have questions. But, I do not let that stop me from pursuing God. Especially, since I know God gives and takes away, Job 1:21. I accept the hard truths even if I don’t understand them at the time. For who knows more than God? So, why would I assume I know better than He? I am curious of who God is despite my struggle, suffering and unknown plans of my life.

I stay curious about God through the uncertainty of my circumstances.

Trust in the Lord for He is good His love endures forever.

Psalm 136

Overwhelmed by God’s Grace

Moving provinces has its excitement and its tough transitions. It can be tough navigating a new routine in a new city whilst making new friends. That alone can be overwhelming. For me, the most challenging part was navigating it all alongside the needs of my newly turned 3 year old daughter. In midst of a big change I became overwhelmed in motherhood and I needed to be overwhelmed by God’s grace.

Overwhelmed in Motherhood

I started to focus more on the needs of my daughter and less on my own. The pressure of making sure she was OKAY definitely made me NOT okay. Repeating the phrase, “I am not okay” to my husband. Like any big move, it affects everyone involved and he too had his own set of transitions to work through.

Attending to the every need of my daughter left me exhausted to find time for myself. Mentally, spiritually and emotionally I needed a change – a shift, a refreshment – something! How? Through vulnerability and the grace of God.

Overwhelmed by God’s Grace

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

First, I attended a church event solo and had a pastor pray over me. As the pastor asked what I needed prayer for, I couldn’t get the words out, I just started to cry uncontrollably. All I managed to say was, “motherhood”. Clearly there had been feelings I hadn’t yet processed – overwhelming feelings. There I was, new to the church, vulnerably balling my eyes out, asking for prayer. Asking for help through her prayer to receive God’s grace.

Next, I got involved in a mom’s group at church. At the end of each session there is time of prayer. Again, tears rolling down (into my mask (“the tear catcher”, I called it) I opened up with my struggles and received prayer.

Slowly by slowly, I stayed open to God’s grace, making time to receive prayer. I continued to seek God through the love and support of fellow believers.

The Final Shift of Faith

Third example of staying vulnerable and open to God, I asked a friend over the phone to pray for me. Just like the church event, and the mom’s group, I could not speak without tears. I shared my stresses and I shared my struggles. She prayed over me. Over the phone, the Spirit of the Lord used her to bless me. Her prayer was authentic, heartfelt and filled with the presence of God as she began to tear up herself, talking about God’s grace and faithfulness. Something spiritually in me shifted. I kid you not – it was the final shift of faith I needed to focus my heart back unto the Lord.

Be open to receive God’s Grace

Jesus is the hope we look for in all circumstances – in every pain and in every praise there He remains. I encourage you to align yourselves with fellow Godly friends. People in your life you can go to in times of need or refreshment. It is truly life giving. We all have our moments, seasons and times where we cannot grasp the hope ourselves, we need a friend to grasp it for us.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus

Philippians 2:4-5

Poem and a prayer

Lord, turn my pain into praise,
sorrow into smiles,
united to friends who care.

Fill us up, to pour us out,
To love like you love,
United in Christ Jesus.

Amen.

Preach and Reach the World

Sometimes, as Christians, we doubt our ability to preach and reach the world because we assume “we’re not enough” or “we don’t know enough”. Well, guess what, we’re right! HA – did you see that coming?? But praise be to God! “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). We are not enough to preach and reach the world – not without the grace of God. His working Spirit in us. This is a beautiful thing to rely on because it takes the pressure off of what we can do and unto what HE DOES! Amen? He creates the change we want to see in the world. He gives growth to what we sow.

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

1 Corinthians 3:7

We are God’s Fellow Workers (1 Corinthians 3:9)

God delights in us (Psalm 18:19). He loves us enough to save us and enough to use us. We are commissioned by Jesus to witness and make disciples. We have a part. Our part is to take the spotlight off of us and onto Him when we share who He is and what He does in our lives. This is the start in making disciples – by talking about who we follow and why we follow.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 28:19-20

The only way people will see a real change in you is through the fruits of the Holy Spirit. This is how we preach and reach the world. We need to exercise what God has given us through the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). As well as, acting according to the wisdom we know from reading His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Matthew 4:4, Joshua 1:8).

Allow the Grace of God to be enough

Remember you are not enough – but by the grace and power of God, HE IS! So, allow His grace to speak to you and through you. Every one of us has a story of how God came through in our lives at one point or another. These are simple ways we can preach and reach the world to hear about Jesus. By testimony.

Out of all the apostles in the Bible, Paul says he is of the LEAST of them, yet he writes about 1/3 of the New Testament. How?? By the grace of God.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

1 Corinthians 15:9-11

You ARE enough because He, Christ in you, is.

Therefore, as you received
Christ Jesus the Lord,
so walk in him
Colossians 2:6

Strong Wind

As I write this, in my (rare) quiet time, there’s a strong wind outside my window. You know when the wind is SO strong you can hear its movements? The whirring, whooshing, thundering sounds of a strong wind. Very powerful to hear. The strength of the weather. It makes me in awe of it’s power and so insignificant in comparison. At any moment, the strength of a strong wind can whip you around – destroying you – or even cities for that matter. Luckily, in our city, it only destroys loose garbage and maybe tips over your plant pots. However, in other parts of the world the wind is to be feared. Rightly so, it’s powerful.

God is in Control

Thinking more about the demolishing power of the weather and it’s capacity to over rule me… I think of bible stories. Here are three examples:


– In the book of Genesis, God tells Noah to build a massive ark because He is sending a flood, by rain, to destroy the land.
– During the book of Joshua, to win a battle, God destroys the walls of Jericho (a city) by shaking it to the ground.
– We read in the Gospels of a storm that rocks the boat so hard that the disciples are scared for their life.

However, in each of these examples, the person who is in control is God. He’s speaking to Noah – directing him how to overcome the flood by building an ark. God commands Joshua to lead his army by simply walking around the walls of Jericho seven times. Jesus is awakened by the fearful disciples of the storm and tells the storm to stop. By reading and remembering these stories of the Bible I am reminded that God is more powerful than any storm.

God is All Powerful

As I continue to listen to the whirring, whooshing and thundering sounds of the wind I am reminded of a characteristic of God – powerful. Makes me fearful yet comforted. Wow, He is more powerful than the strong winds, yet more comforting than a warm blanket. To be fearful of the Lord is to be in awe of His power, yet in trusted to His comfort.

God is Comfort

I can enjoy the crazy sounds of the weather because the feeling of a warm blanket and the heat of the fireplace keeps me comforted. God is like that. He is our comfort. In the chaos of the wind in your life, which moves in all directions, not sure where it will land or even stop, God is there. There’s no going outside and fighting off a strong wind. Imagine that hilarity. Punching, kicking, and pushing the wind? Imagine your neighbours peeking through their blinds. Only to see you looking like you’ve picked a fight with yourself, which you’re definitely losing. So it is with our faith.

We get mad at God and His power because we know he can stop the crazy rushing winds of our life. So instead of sitting and finding his comfort within the “storm” we fight it, we fight Him. There’s no fighting, resisting or threatening God. It’s just you fighting you – pointless and left more exhausted.

God is in Control

So in fear of the strong winds of life, I choose to draw closer to God. This means I simply admit my sin, my weakness, my inability to change the winds and ask Him for help to comfort me. Help me believe you are the warm blanket and the fireplace that keeps me safe inside. Because His comfort is just as powerful as His control over the strong winds. His powerful comfort maybe doesn’t stop the strong winds in our life but it sure calms the winds in our hearts.

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father God,
I pray for a strong wind of your Spirit to move within my heart. May it be as powerful as the winds I hear outside. Help me believe that being closer to you is more powerful than any strong wind in my life. Amen.

Encouragement

Is there a strong wind in your life that whirls you to crazy land? Well… for me, there’s been many. But I have learned that the more I fight it the more I am left defeated (whipped around by anxiety and fear). I need to continually, daily, submit my needs, control, and heart to the Lord. Asking for the wind of His Spirit to be stronger than the wind of my feelings, thoughts and impatience. Lord be the strong wind I need to move forward for today. Amen.