My Heart…The Sponge

Earlier this week I found out that something we need is going to cost more than we thought. I’m a planner (well, about some things). So I figured out that we would have enough money to take care of that need, as well as provide something fun for someone else. One thing is a need: the other is a “Granma wants to do this.”

Have you ever noticed that using money for needs isn’t nearly as enjoyable as writing a check for something “extra?”  Finding out the need was more costly than I anticipated exposed something in my heart.  Years ago I heard a sponge-squeezing analogy. When you squeeze a sponge, whatever was in the sponge comes out. Whether it was dirty dishwater or good-smelling cleaning solution, what comes out of the sponge was whatever was already in it. Like sponges, our hearts get squeezed by trials…or unexpected financial news…and whatever is already in there is what comes out.

What came out of my heart was ugly. While I kept it all to myself (until now…smile) grumbles and complaints started forming in my mind.

“Why is this going to cost so much?” I whined to myself. “This means I won’t be able to do that other thing I wanted…. And the reason why we have to spend this money is due to the fault of someone else anyway! If only that hadn’t happened. Oh, Lord. Why must we have to continue to deal with this? Oh, and how am I gonna tell my granddaughter I won’t be able to do that thing for her after all? I don’t like this, Lord. Hmmmph.”

This morning I was reading Exodus 17-18. The people are yet again complaining to Moses. Hey, I can understand. They were in the desert without water! I would have been right there with them, “grumbling against Moses” and probably joining in on those accusing him of bringing them into the desert to die.

Once again, Moses cries out to God — the true source of their help. God provides a creative solution by telling Moses to strike a rock and, out of it, water flowed. God can take any situation and supernaturally provide for those He loves. Amazing.

Soon after, Moses’ father-in-law, whom he hasn’t seen since he left to go back to Egypt, comes to bring Moses’ wife and sons to join him. (So not only had he walked through some serious trials, he had also been without his family. There’s another lesson there for we wives about how the Lord sometimes has to take our husbands through difficulties without us…)

What struck me this morning was this:  Moses was in the same desert experiencing the same thirst as the people. Yet his perspective was different. When he sits down to tell his father-in-law the story of all that happened in Egypt and following, Moses is honest about “all the hardships (18:8) but also about “how the Lord had delivered them.”

The outcome of their conversation was that Jethro “rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel” (vs 9).  And even more stunning is his declaration in verse 11: “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods.” The way Moses communicated about everything resulted in Jethro praising God!

This morning I’m asking myself some hard but necessary questions about how I communicate when I’m going through challenges. The fact is, sometimes life is hard and disappointing. Things end up costing more than we thought. People break our heart. Family members are insensitive or mean. Friends jump to wrong conclusions about us. Children make sinful choices. We get taken advantage of and don’t get the thanks we deserve. We have to say goodbye when we want to stay together.

Here’s what is stirring in my heart today:

  • When I’m going through something hard, does my story focus on the the details of my struggle or on God’s help and nearness?
  • When people walk away from interactions with me about hard stuff, are they more aware of God’s faithfulness or my struggle?
  • Does how I walk through trials cause people to rejoice in how I’m crying out to Him for help? Or do they feel a mild sense of obligation to become my helpers?

Those of you who visit here often know I’m all about being open about the hardships that come from living in a fallen world with fellow sinners. And I’m also a strong advocate of living in Christian community where believers walk out the “one anothers” of scripture together.

But honesty and community can’t be an excuse for complaining and expecting people to be our Provider.

I’m experiencing the tender conviction of the Holy Spirit over my grumbling about money. As I type I’m smiling about how God is using a man long dead to bring hope and comfort through his example. Later in the book of Exodus I’ll read about how his angry rebellion against God cost him dearly. Yes, he’s like me. One day trusting and God-centered, and the next day a self-sufficent, broken failure.

Today I’m asking for God’s forgiveness for my whining and complaining. I want my trials to bring hope to others as I speak of God’s faithfulness, power and help. The honest cries of a needy or hurting believer are needed: but we can’t stop there. God is always near. Always faithful. And always able to bring water from the jagged, craggy, dry rocks in our lives.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Ps 19:14)

Gospel Truths For the Wait

A few of my regular readers have thanked me for being so “real” on this blog. I guess I don’t view it was being “real” but just as being a sinner who lives in a fallen world who shares her life with others like me. Life happens and sometimes in ways that hurt, disorient or tempt us. Your thanks to me shows you find comfort in the truth that, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor 10:13.). Our struggles are common, and knowing that others deal with similar difficulties can bring comfort and hope. I hope that happens for some of you again today.

I love the first half of that verse.  But, honestly, the “that you may be able to endure it” is disturbing to me sometimes. I want it to end with “that you may be able to escape it.”

I was recently interacting with a friend that is going through tough times with some close family members. Like me, she would like to escape the situation because enduring it is uncertain. Will these loved ones make right decisions? Will they reach to God for help? What could be the longterm outcome of unwise or sinful choices? How long might she have to wait and pray and trust God with these weighty situations that are understandably testing her faith, keeping her awake at night, and producing heart wrenching temptations to fear and anxiety?

I sent the following words to her this weekend that encouraged her soul and mine. The comfort wasn’t in my words, but in the gospel truths that lie in them. These are truths I’ve been taught for years by dead authors, wise preachers and caring friends. If you are going through some tough times with someone you love, I hope they will feed your soul today, too.

The story ISN’T over!!  It wasn’t over when you and I were young adults.  It wasn’t over when we sinned and did things that could have had incredibly damaging and longterm consequences in our lives.  It wasn’t over for my mom, who become an alcoholic in her 30’s and nearly destroyed her life, but who lived her last 25 years free from her addiction and fully devoted to God.  It’s never over when God is involved.  Grace really ISN’T resistible for long.  Our loved ones cannot run out of the reach of grace.  The gospel and it’s clutching power is not dependent on their (or our) desire or ability to hang on.  Because Jesus died and rose again, there is no hole they can dig or cave they can run into that allows them to remain hardened to the love and pursuit of a God whose strength and power is utterly unmatched by any person or idol or lust or sin.  But, oh the pain that waiting means!

The truth is this:  God will get us through, my friend.  He will be faithful.  He has proven Himself good and strong.  We will look back in years to come, whatever happens with those we love and whatever choices they make (good or bad) and however long it all takes and we WILL say “It is well with my soul.”  Whether we have to go through many more dangers, toils and snares the grace that has brought us safe thus far WILL lead us home.  It will.  And on That Day we will see the wisdom, goodness and love of God in it all.  Until then, we will struggle and hurt and cry.  But this will end.  Whether on this earth or in heaven (and we never know when we’ll get there — tomorrow or 30 years from now) it will all be over.  

He is faithful.  He just doesn’t usually work on our time table.

So, Lord, help us to trust You, especially with delays that test our faith. You really are in control.  And You really are good.  Always.


If you are a regular reader, you know I’m going through a challenging time.  And over the past few days, my sadness has increased because of weighty trials some dear friends are walking through. I feel helpless. Void of anything meaningful to do or say to help them. (In fact, one attempt to help wasn’t helpful due to my insensitivity and poor timing.) Tempted to fear for future things.

Then last night at my Community Group someone asked if they could share their own struggles and battles with discouragement.  She didn’t have to be coerced to open up, but volunteered to.  As I watched her humility and the group’s tender care for her, I was aware we were in the presence of our loving, gentle, caring Father.  I watched Him incarnate Himself through a group of flawed, broken people who simply wanted to love a friend. She left encouraged and hopeful.

I did, too. It was edifying and helpful to hear the loving questions and compassionate counsel she received.  The care she received washed over onto me.

Then this morning, someone at the meeting sent me a link (below) to a song I had never heard.

Are you hurting for yourself or someone you love today? Are you experiencing heart-wrenching trials? Is someone you love hurting so badly that only the help of THE Comforter and Wonderful Counselor will suffice?

Listen to this.


He is faithful.  There is hope.  SO grateful.

I’m also grateful for those of you who visit here.  Thanks for giving me a place where I can both gush about my grandchildren and admit I’m hurting.

And if you think of our dear friends who are hurting this week, please say a prayer. God knows their situation and will lead you. Thank you!

A New Look at Romans 8:28

Recently I’ve been thinking about the present tense of Romans 8:28: “All things work together for good…”

I typically don’t see the “good” of the “all things” in my life or the lives of those I love until later. Then I think, “God, you’re so faithful.  All things worked together, just like you said.”  The insinuation of that comment is that the good didn’t come until the very end when enough time had passed for God’s glory and goodness to happen.

But Paul didn’t say, “All thing will work” or “All things have worked” or even “All thing might work.”  His God-inspired word “work” was intentional by our wise and sovereign Father.

This verse has been on my heart recently because I’ve been walking through some personal challenges. Nothing urgent or life-altering. But hard nonetheless.

The Holy Spirit has been consistently reminding me that God’s work is being done today; this hour; this minute. Things are working together day by day and situation by situation in my life that I will someday recognize as good. The disappointments; painful situations happening to those I love; uncertainties; disagreements; worries; and perplexities I am facing are for my good now and not just sometime in the future.

What good is at work this week in my friend’s cancer?

What glorious purpose is there in the anxieties I’m having right now about my child’s relationship with the Lord?

How was good happening last Thursday during Benny’s and my conflict?

The questions for me are these:  Do I really believe that even in the midst of my sinful fretting, unkind words and temptations to distrust Him (which certainly require repentance) God is at work in my heart and life? Does my sin disqualify me from the good work of His Spirit happening right nowDo I have faith to believe that in the midst of my troubled heart a loving, patient and powerful God is doing good? Or do I think that good will only come later — especially once I deal with my unbiblical thoughts and attitudes and allow Him to work His good out in my life?

Often I don’t write about things until after I’ve figured out what to say. Not this time. I’m still in process and, in fact, welcome your thoughts, comments and prayers. I know God is faithful. I’ve watched Him work all things together for good in my life over and over. And I now have faith that good is at work this week; today; tonight as I type. Even writing this post has been good for me; not only because I’ve had to humble myself to put my thoughts out there (anything that requires humility is indeed good for me!), but also because I’m realizing that Romans 8:28 is taking on new meaning in my soul.

I’m grateful.