If y’all have been following along with our Instagram, you know that the family and I just spent a week in paradise for Spring Break (forgive me for some of the repeat pictures below, but they’re just too cute!). Getting away certainly has new meaning and significance to us as a family when we’re able to take a break from the mundane routine and the daily stresses of life. I’ve found that escaping to quietness is the perfect time to refocus and seek after the Lord’s wisdom.
While we were gone, I felt the Lord give me new perspective on what “R&R” means. Yes, rest and relaxation, but it means so much more than that, too. He gave me a couple more “R” words of wisdom that I felt led to share: reflection, refined, reset, renewal, refresh, reconnection, rejuvenation, restoration, repair, and refuge. Retreating definitely lends a helping hand to different and better outlooks on life back home, because, to be honest, I went away a little weary, burdened and worn out. We have some rather big, personal decisions hanging in the valence, so getting to spend time with one another and seek after the Lord is where we’ve found great peace while we trust Him to show us the way!
It’s difficult for someone like me (type A!) to lay down my plans and follow the Lord. He may not always lead me to where I expected we’d go. I’ve learned through personal, very painful, circumstances that my so-called "perfect plan" does not always lead me to the best places. But here’s the good news to what I've learned the hard way— His ways, His thoughts and His purposes are ALL higher than mine. His plans are always good! In the midst of uncertainty, I am so thankful for the unplugged and uninterrupted time together as a family. God knows what we need, right when we need it, and for us that was to trust a refreshing perspective on God’s plans for our family.
Isaiah 40:18-19 “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Jeremiah 31:25 “He will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”
These last several years have not been easy. There are things I wish I had done very differently, but thankfully God remains sovereign even over my screw-ups and shortcomings. He alone is able to right all my wrongs. Our family has learned and been strengthened more through difficulties than we ever would have through the easy times. God’s redemption and restoration are the most beautiful and real things I have ever experienced. He longs for us to trust Him in and out of the storm, and to follow where He leads. He is faithful to strengthen the weary, to give peace to the worried and guidance to the wanderer. We still choose to stand firm on the covenant promise that His power is made perfect in our admitted weaknesses and humanly flaws. Jesus came and lived among us; He took on our frame and took on all of our burdens and shame so that we would live redeemed, grace-filled, abundant and transformed lives!
Psalm 119:114 “You alone are my place of quiet retreat. I wait for your word to renew me.”
Psalm 18:30 “His way is perfect, the word of the Lord proves true, He us a shield for all who take refuge in Him!”
Isaiah 30:15 “In returning and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
As God’s chosen people, we are called to be obedient to His will. By grace, He takes us places we wouldn’t normally plan to go so that He can accomplish in us what we couldn’t achieve on our own. He loves us too much to leave us as we are. His love is not disengaged; it is always present and never passive. Although it may feel like it, your world is not out of control; it is under God’s careful, selective and redemptive control—to improve, love, refine and sanctify you.
In refining seasons, our spiritual maturity is put to the test—producing perseverance, hope, character, faith and endurance that are “more precious than gold” (1 Peter 1:6). Genesis 50:20 says, “what was meant for evil, God meant for GOOD.” He uses it ALL—the good, the bad and the ugly—ALL for good! Trust Him at His word that He is leading you into abundantly more joyous and prosperous places!
I love this quote from Ann Voskamp: “What was intended to tear you apart, God intends it to set you apart.” Be encouraged! God’s hand is in every detail. The question is when will we (preaching to the choir here) learn to trust Him in everything with everything? When we have peace with God, we will experience the peace of God. Press in! There is refuge waiting for you and a “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
The Bible is not filled with stories of heroes or people who lived perfectly or easily (am I the only one encouraged by this?). Take Jesus’s lineage for example—comprised of some of the most wicked people in mankind. These people were sinful, wounded, broken and made their fair share of disastrous failures and poor decisions. He chose to come through this blood-line. To rescue us, to save us, to free us, to redeem us-- demonstrating His magnificent love for us all! So many stories in the Bible show God’s full redemptive and restorative power, encouraging us to dust ourselves off and try again. They demonstrate His immensity, might, authority and goodness ALL along; how He was in control the whole time and His purposes were being accomplished, even when it looked like darkness was winning the day. Our acceptance has not been or ever will be based on our performance “track record.” It is by what God alone has done for us through His unfailing love and unrivaled grace!
Proverbs 19:21 “You can make plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”
Isaiah 42:16 “He turns my darkness into light and makes my rough places smooth.”
After writing all of this out, it seems a bit silly that I would allow anxiety and worry to cloud my judgment of God’s goodness. Ephesians 6 simply spells out the necessary armor to clothe us with in order to protect ourselves from the schemes and creeping thoughts from the enemy. When we are actively girded in truth, pursuing righteousness and walking in peace with God, we bear the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). He trades my anxieties of the unknown and replaces them with peace and fullness of joy—leading me to “life abundant” (John 10:10)! Only true peace comes from His presence, not from ease of circumstances or by getting our way.
Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Isaiah 26:3 “You keep in perfect peace those whose mind is stayed on you!”
Let’s press in and TRUST Him.
Have a great weekend!