Holding Pattern

While an aircraft awaits clearance to land, it typically flies in an oval-shaped flight path over the destination airport. That flight path is known as a holding pattern. Sometimes we find our lives in a holding pattern – a place where God allows us to see our goal or destination but doesn’t provide immediate clearance to arrive. Life’s holding patterns can be frustrating and discouraging. Here are a few considerations to help you fly into your God-given destiny with confidence. Holding patterns:

  1. get our attention – When we are not bombarded with concerns that we normally experience on the ground, we can hear from God more clearly. Proverbs 2:1-5 says “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”
  2. are designed to build you up, not break you down – Holding patterns boost your strength, patience, and endurance. Romans 5:3-5 says Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
  3. allow time for removal of dangerous obstacles – the Lord is preparing your destination, divinely arranging and rearranging obstacles that would otherwise hinder or compromise your successful landing. Isaiah 57:14 says “and it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”
  4. keep you focused on your destination – the longer your holding pattern, the greater your desire to land safely and arrive at your intended destination. Philippians 3:12-14 says Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

  5. require clearance from The Control Tower – Admitting our inability to land independently is both an admission of our weakness and a confession of God’s strength. John 15:4-5 says “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
  6. give you greater appreciation for your “arrival” – overcoming adversity and cultivating a closer relationship with God during your hold makes your landing far sweeter. In the midst of a holding pattern, God can expose talents and gifts that you didn’t even realize you had. Genesis 50:20 says “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
  7. bless you in new and exciting ways – landing victoriously after enduring a difficult holding pattern allows you to experience new dimensions of God’s provision, protection, grace, mercy, and favor. James 1:12 says Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” 

Leveling Up

Although we are God’s children, our heavenly Father doesn’t want us stuck in the newborn phase. I invite you to prayerfully consider your current relationship with the Lord and the next spiritual place where you feel the Lord wants to take you. Consider these questions:

  • Do you invite God into every area of your life, or only welcome Him in specific places or ways? 1 Peter 4:11 says “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
  • Do you admit your struggles to God? 1 Corinthians 10:13 says “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.”
  • How easily do you forgive others? How often to do you ask others for forgiveness? Colossians 3:13 says Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
  • When facing a crisis, do you seek the Lord’s intervention as primary position (first resort) or fallback position (last resort)? Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
  • Is your relationship with God more like a best friend or a distant relative? Psalm 63:3-8 says “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”
  • Do you acknowledge God solely during seasons of crisis or seasons of celebration? Romans 8:37 says “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
  • Do you commit your plans to God or do you commit God to your plans? Psalm 37:5 says “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.”

The Lord wants you to trust Him with everything! You can use lessons from past experiences to increase your faith and spur growth as you ascend to new levels of trust, gaining a greater understanding of God’s infinite power, wisdom, and love. I encourage you to read this Level Up post and prayerful ask God to reveal the next destination on your spiritual journey.

 

Faith Moves

Life events can paralyze us. The enormity of a situation can weigh us down and overshadow every other aspect of our lives. Some issues are distracting and downright scary. Others are tragic and painful. Yet, it is in those very moments when we feel that we’ve lost our ability to hope or trust, that we need to seek our Father’s face. When we are uncertain about what to do next, we must exercise faith and ask God to reveal a path forward.

Taking action in the midst of dire circumstances is the beginning of moving toward a solution. When the need is overwhelming, we must combat our human desire to surrender to the enemy’s suggestions of defeat, depression, hopelessness, bitterness, unforgiveness, and fear. It is precisely in these exact moments that we need to exercise our kingdom privileges! An ongoing relationship with our Creator means that we can weather any storm. Romans 8:37 says “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” We can abide in the fact that no matter how it looks – everything is working for our good. It takes faith to confess, then release our fears, to continue to hope for the best, to continue to declare God’s goodness and let our beloved Heavenly Father know that we are in great expectation of relief, deliverance, provision, and favor as we experience His grace in new and exciting dimensions.

Exercising faith means encountering life situations that allow our faith to grow. These growth opportunities are often disguised as unwelcome news or unexpected challenges. James 1:2-4 says  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.” The Lord wants to build us, not break us. He wants us to learn to trust in Him and to seek His guidance. Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

As the gospel song says, “just a little talk with Jesus makes it right”. Being a child of God means that we have a 24/7 All-Access pass that never expires. The Lord is always just a thought or whisper away. When stresses threaten us, frustrations overwhelm us, sorrow engulfs us, disappointment confronts us, and uncertainty upsets us, we can place our trust in The One who never grows weary, who is always available to listen, who knows us intimately, and loves us beyond comprehension. Romans 8:31 says “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

The Lord wants us to grow our relationship with Him. 3 John 1:2 says “Beloved, I pray you to prosper concerning all things and to be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” He is waiting for an opportunity to minister to the needs that abide in the innermost chambers of our heart. He wants us to seek Him as a first option, not a last resort. He allows situations that help cultivate a level of faith that blesses us and those around us. We must remember that we are each a testimony in progress because for every instance of being paralyzed by fear, there is that urging from the Holy Spirit reminding us of who we are and whose we are. To move forward in faith, we need only to consider identity – ours and the Lord’s. Nothing – no matter how wonderful or terrible it is – is greater than God. Moving forward in faith is a mental and spiritual shift where we go from trusting only in ourselves – with our limited understanding, resources, and solutions – to trusting in God who is infinite, omniscient, owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and thinks on an eternal plane. Romans 10:17 says “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Matthew 17:20 tells us “He said to them, Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust]. For truly I say to you, if you have faith [ that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”

Peace in the Midst of Storms

Life is never all good nor all bad. It’s an ongoing combination of both. If you think about it, you could find something wrong with every good event. Likewise, you can find something positive even during bad events. In every situation, we make a choice about our area of focus. Life situations can take us by surprise and disrupt our sense of peace, security, confidence, (and if we are honest) control.

The Holy Bible includes many mentions of storms. Just like recent weather reports, the storms of life are unpredictable, forceful, and potentially dangerous. Oftentimes, the threat of so many unknown factors can fuel fear, amplify anxiety, and distract us as we try to chart a course of action to survive the storm. In the midst of life’s storms, we can erroneously assume that the Lord has turned His back and distanced himself from us. This is far from the truth. God is not like man. He will never leave nor forsake us. Hebrews 13:5 says “Don’t fall in love with money. Be satisfied with what you have. The Lord has promised that he will not leave us or desert us.” As difficult as they are, storms can be ultimately beneficial. Consider these silver lining benefits that can occur. During a storm, God:

  1. Has your attention – when life is going smoothly, we can become complacent and fixated on ourselves instead of seeking God’s will. We are not blessed for self-glorification, but to be a blessing to others. Proverbs 11:24-25 says “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” 
  2. Makes you prioritize – a sense of loss often accompanies storms. But, sometimes a physical loss is a spiritual gain. We can rejoice as we develop a stronger sense of awareness and gratitude about the way God provides for our essential needs – the physical and as well as the spiritual. Luke 12:29-31 says And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”
  3. Allows you to recalibrate – the aftermath of life storms, can serve as a vehicle for a new beginning. The Lord can renew a right spirit within us and give us opportunities for a fresh start. Deuteronomy 30:3-4 says then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back.”

Each storm you face is designed to mature you, not ruin you. In the midst of every storm, the Lord is faithful. He is omnipresent. We need only trust in Him and operate with faith-filled anticipation about Him bringing us out of the storm with a renewed since of faith, hope, joy, and peace. Philippians 4:7 says “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Storms allow us to view situations with new eyes where we can see God directly intervening on our behalf.

Psalm 107:28-31 says Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.”

 

Trusting in God’s Timing

The third chapter of Ecclesiastes begins with “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” We often have a plan, our own mental movie starring us and others who figure prominently in our lives. In our movie, we write scenes and timelines, develop our plans, and are deeply disappointed when delays occur. Waiting on God is a bold, spiritually mature, and worthy endeavor. Waiting on God is excellent in theory, but far more difficult in practice. Psalm 27:14 advises that we “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

Instead of deferring to God’s divine timeline through His all-seeing and all-knowing filter of wisdom, we want what we want, when we want it. When situations do not occur according to our timeline, it seems that we are more likely to question God instead of ourselves. Although Proverbs 3:5 tell us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not into your own understanding.” We are often guilty of viewing the world through our needs and desires instead of seeking God’s will for our lives. God is not interested in torturing nor discouraging us. He wants us to live a life of abundance. John 10:10 says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” God also wants to bless us with wonderful gifts. In fact, He wants to give us the desires of our heart. James 1:17 says Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Psalm 37:4-5 tells us to “4 Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” When the Bible speaks of God’s benefits, it is preceded with instruction. All too often, we focus on the benefit, such as receiving the desires of our hearts, because it aligns with our will instead of the instruction based on God’s will.

The key to trusting in God’s timing is to focus on our relationship with God and obedience to His will, instead of a specific result or timeframe according to our will. To trust God is to glorify God. Our Heavenly Father wants to us to cultivate a relationship and build an atmosphere of trust with Him. As we seek His face and His will, God also wants to guide us toward being who He designed us to be, and to bless His kingdom in specific ways. The key to trusting in God’s timing lies in our relationship with Him. The ability to patiently wait on the Lord is a byproduct of a deeper level of trust with our Creator.  It means releasing our pre-conceived notions and plans to defer to God’s plan which is far greater and ultimately more beneficial. Isaiah 40:31 reminds us “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Behaving Boldly

Society often equates being “a good Christian” with being a doormat for the world to tread upon. Our Heavenly Father is full of grace, wisdom, mercy, love, and truth.  As Christians, we strive to embody those same characteristics. Unfortunately, a skewed worldly view means that as Christians, we are often expected to tiptoe through our existence, never offending or disagreeing with anyone despite the fact that others offend us daily. This passive perception of Christianity is wildly inaccurate. The same way that we are called to exhibit love, mercy, and grace, we are also called to holy boldness. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Holy boldness does not mean behaving with arrogant self-righteousness. We are not called to deputize ourselves as some sort of spiritual police, judging and discounting others, while placing ourselves on a pedestal. We are called to serve. Holy boldness is having the courage of conviction to stand for the Lord Jesus Christ in the face of opposition. Consider these scenarios:

  • When someone tells an offensive joke, do you laugh outwardly and cringe inwardly?
  • When you see someone being mistreated, do you look the other way?
  • When you see a glaring need, do you think about ways you can help or instead think about reasons why you cannot possibly lend a hand?

Love is the key component for holy boldness. We cannot operate in holy boldness apart from God’s Holy Spirit. God is love. 1 John 4:8 says “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Holy boldness inherently means operating with faith and courage in obedience to God. We are God’s hands and feet on this earth. God allows us to encounter situations which call us to holy boldness. These are situations where we recognize that we respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that …the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.” Usually, these acts of kindness, concern, conscientiousness, truth, and assistance may be far outside of our comfort zone. Holy boldness doesn’t mean being rude, it means responding with loving conviction. These situations are designed for our spiritual growth and maturity.

Responding with holy boldness is a double blessing. First, it blesses the hearer or recipient because it can plant a seed where people examine their motives, actions, and responses. Second, it blesses the speaker or giver because of they are responding in obedience to God. Ephesians 3:12 says In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” The end of Galatians 5:6 says “…The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” We can navigate our lives with confidence, seeking our next God-given assignment, knowing that the Lord is the source of our hope, courage, faith, strength, and love. It is our relationship with God that allows us to operate with loving obedience and holy boldness. 2 Corinthians 3:12 says “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.”

 

 

 

You are Never Alone

Life’s most difficult seasons are rarely scheduled. Many unwelcome situations involve some sort of loss –  job loss, a spouse or significant other wanting to part ways, a terrible accident, financial strain, the loss of a loved one, a poor health prognosis, or even a misunderstanding with a loved one can send us into a tailspin. What’s worse, the enemy is absolutely merciless and dangerously deceitful. During the dark and difficult moments, the enemy sees an opportunity to exploit every fear and amplify it with an avalanche of dark suggestions. One of his favorite tactics is to convince you that you are forgotten and facing a difficult situation alone. Whether your inclination is to keep your troubles to yourself or to rally support from those around you, stand firm in the knowledge that the Lord is on your side. You are never alone because God is ALWAYS with you. Although trial by fire can be excruciating and arduous, the good news is that we are NEVER alone. God allows us to experience painful situations so that our testimony can bless someone else.

When you feel isolated, desperate, insecure, or hopeless, remind yourself of these truths:

  1. God is FOR you – Romans 8:31 says “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”
  2. Nothing takes God by surprise – Acts 15:18 says “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”
  3. God understands your frustration – Psalm 34:18 says ” The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
  4. God is faithful – 1 Corinthians 1:9 says “God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
  5. God doesn’t get tired – Isaiah 40:28 says “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.”
  6. God hears and answers prayer – Isaiah 65:24 says “I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!”
  7. God is always with you – Joshua 1:5 says “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.”

The loving nature of God, his all-encompassing concern for our spiritual maturity, his intimate knowledge of us as his creation, his desire for us to grow into closer relationship with him, and live a life that surpasses even our own expectations are just a few reasons why we can move forward on our darkest days, knowing that we are loved by The One who will never leave nor forsake us. No matter what comes our way, we can ask God for whatever we need: wisdom, strength, favor, healing, courage, comfort, joy, and peace. We can live courageously, knowing that our Creator has our back! Joshua 1:9 says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”