Sunday, 24 March 2019

From Embarrassed to Refined: How God Pulled me From my Hiding Place and Set the Record Straight


How God deals with our pride


Sitting in my chiropractor’s office having deep theological discussion, as we always do, he says something to the extent of this, “Can you imagine how Job must have felt demanding God to show up and defend why He let everything happen, then, in a bizarre turn of events, God actually shows up?!”

“Embarrassed!” I shrieked, “and it isn’t always a bad thing!”

Rewind that story to a few months prior...

We had been studying the book of James in our Bible study. As we read through chapter one this verse struck me:

 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)


It was as if God had just stood in front of me as I read this and asked, "Sarah, what do you want to know?"

For weeks I wrestled with this question. What DID I want to know? Anticipation began to grow. I asked him a lot of varying different questions. I figured since the offer was there, I wanted to take full advantage of His generosity. But then something happened...He went silent. And I mean absolutely cricket chirping silent.

It grew challenging to read my Bible without it stirring my soul, challenging to pray when there were no answers or changes in what I prayed for. My heart grew tired and weary in what appeared to be His absence. I asked him, “Where did you go?” I thought that had become a rather important question to ask, but again, the only thing he offered me was more silence.

Soon an exhausting health crisis moved into our household. Three out of five of us went down hard. I prayed again for answers, well, actually, I just kept asking “why” a whole lot.

One night, too exhausted to move, I slumped down on the couch and prayed an utterly weak and defeated prayer. Suddenly God began to shift my perspective. I began to realize that somewhere through the course of many layered events and multiple months I had shrunk God down in scale. I hadn’t doubted his existence, only his size. When I prayed I was praying (in my mind) to a God of microscopic stature, therefore I had very little expectation of what he was going to do with my prayers. Somewhere in this mix I had forgotten the power of the one whom I was praying to. 

I finally knew my question.

“I want to know You are still powerful.”

Ok, ok, it’s probably more of a statement than a question, but I suppose in reality God’s power did have a giant question mark hovering over it. Is God really that powerful? Does he still work miracles? The 24 hours that followed were nothing short of a Job moment where God himself showed up and reminded me repeatedly of his power. 

That night my husband and I randomly decided to watch a sermon before bed (not our usual bedtime routine). We typed in one of our favourite preacher’s name into the search bar on YouTube and up came the top three suggestions. The first title made something in me VERY nervous, so I told my husband to hit play on either of the other two selections. Neither worked. I’ll bet you can guess which one of the three did work though! I was already uncomfortable before the first word was even spoken. 

Every single question that I had been hanging onto over the past few months was addressed in sequential form as the preacher spoke. Something that had been recorded months before I watched it (and on the other side of the world I might add) was being used in my home to answer my tiny questions that had yet to be answered. Every piece of scripture that had been at the forefront of my mind was used over the course of the next 30 minutes. I felt like crawling under my blankets and hiding!  I kept hitting pause just to catch my breath. God has been listening even when I thought he had gone silent. I wasn't watching a 30 minute coincidence, I was witnessing God's power in action.

A few days later I was overwhelmed by an outpouring of prayers and encouragement from people I hadn’t met before at our church. People who were being prompted to pray for our family at hours of the night that overlapped with moments when I would wake in pain or anxiety from my own health problems. People who unknowingly spoke words of life that struck right to the core of the matters of our heart. God showed up in all His power and glory and sheepish doesn’t even begin to describe how it felt!

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
“Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
“Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding,
Who set its measurements? Since you know.
Or who stretched the line on it?
“On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone...
“Have you ever in your life commanded the morning,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?
“It is changed like clay under the seal;
And they stand forth like a garment.
“From the wicked their light is withheld,
And the uplifted arm is broken.
“Have you entered into the springs of the sea
Or walked in the recesses of the deep?
“Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
Or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
“Have you understood the expanse of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this.
(Job 38:1-6, 12-18)

I can almost hear the sound of sarcasm in God’s voice as He talked to Job. “Have YOU understood the expanse of the earth? Hmmm?? Tell Me, if you know all this.” I can see God sort of leaning with His elbow propped atop the tallest tree, eyebrows raised. 
Embarrassed. Yup. Job felt embarrassed. I know, because I certainly did. By the time God got through revealing His power and might my knees were trembling in fear of His greatness. 

He had not answered my other questions prior to that day because they did not get to the core of where my heart needed stability. All valid questions, but in true God form He knew what I really needed to know before my “big” question was even asked. And, in true God wisdom, He knew exactly how to get me to see where my weak point was. His silence wasn’t his absence, but part of His lesson to me. 

Embarrassing? Oh yeah! But, I give God such praise for humbling me and shrinking me down in size. Not because He needs me smaller for Him to look bigger, it wasn’t just a slight of hand or an optical illusion. But because only when I realize my stature can I resume the humble posture of praise that He truly deserves. Only when I am smaller will I hold my problems less and become quicker to place them in His fully capable hands. Only when I am smaller I worry less about the future. Only when I am smaller can I fully understand the amazing ever-present, all-knowing, all-powerful presence and power of our Mighty God.

Has God grown small in your eyes? I might encourage you to ask Him to reveal Himself in the fullness of His stature and power, but prepared to be embarrassed. I promise it’s a good thing.

Love,









photo credit: Noelle Otto @ Pexels.com

Saturday, 16 March 2019

A Faithful God- the Extraordinary Testimony of My Otherwise Ordinary Life


The Backyard Missionary- testimony


Many people have testimonies filled to the brim of God’s redeeming grace. I LOVE hearing how God moved mountains to reveal himself to the abandoned, the sick, the outcasts, and the broken. In contrast I always felt that my testimony was a little drab compared to the jaw dropping testimonies of some. 

From a young age my parents placed my tiny hands into the hand of my faithful God. Every crisis, every major event, every decision was brought before God in prayer. As a result He became my “go to” in all circumstance. Not much excitement there in terms of God’s wild redemption. But here’s what has taken me thirty-six years to finally understand...

There are testimonies of God the Redeemer, God the Healer, God the Provider. While I don’t have one of those, my testimony is one of God the Faithful. I have had 36 years to bear witness to a God who has never failed. A God who has been faithful to his child even when this child wandered or fought against him. 

Though the circumstances looked grim, He would always shine through the darkest moments and lead me back to hope. What was meant for evil, God always managed to work  for the good (Genesis 50:20). And when I shook my fist in anger at the circumstances, he challenged my way of thinking to see clearer His Sovereign hand at work. 

As a teen, when my walk with him was weak, He was my Protector who kept me from wandering too far. When I lost two babies and was told I may not have children, He was my Provider and gave me three more. When my husband battled a drug addiction, He was my Strength to stay and fight. When my mom died from terminal cancer, He was the Comforter to my broken heart. When I questioned the church and those inside, He didn’t turn his back on me, He gave me His heart to see hurt as He sees. When I lashed out in frustration at Him over my health, He humbled me to see He is still in charge and trustworthy.

My God has been faithful.

It is hard to wrap my head around it that in spite of my seemingly lack of interest in him at times, though I have failed, He never has. I have walked away in anger, but he didn’t turn on me. I have questioned his motives, but he didn’t flinch. His faithfulness came through every. single. time. 

I don’t deserve a God like that. One who holds me and walks beside me and the emotional roller coaster I often ride. But, His ego doesn’t get bruised, His love is a fierce one, and his hands never tire of carrying me. "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39) 

I can’t tell you a grand story of being rescued from the streets, or from drugs. But I can tell you my testimony of how God has faithfully rescued me from myself time and time again. He is my God, the unfailing Faithful One.  

Whatever you are up against, I am a walking testimony to trust God. There are no obstacles too challenging, no frustrations too deep, and no questions that He won't guide you through to an answer. He is not a God who gives up, nor a God who walks away.

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Ps. 100:5)

To all my fellow rather-ordinary-testimony sisters, this one's for you. Never be ashamed of expressing the extraordinary steadfast faithfulness of our loving Father in your ordinary life.


Love,









photo credit: Edwin Andrade @ Unsplash

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

The Hidden Blessing of a Long-Term Illness


hope with chronic pain


Call me a medical anomaly if you will, but for the past few years I have been seeing a vast array of doctors, specialists, naturopaths, and basically anything ending in “ologist”. I’ve tried medications, natural remedies, exercise, and diet changes. Even still, I’ve yet to receive an official diagnosis, though I’ve heard several speculations. While I wait in the line up to see one more “ologist” I have come to realize the hidden blessing of my long-term illness.

What I do know for certain is that whatever is brewing below the surface, there are plenty of days where my body simply won't cooperate. Last week, driving home caused my wrists to become so inflamed I was unable to hold a knife to make supper by the time I walked in the door. A few days later it had moved on to a new joint once again causing my daily activities to be severely altered. 

If it sounds frustrating, it’s because it is. But, as frustrating at it is, God is faithful in walking beside me, but also in refining me to reshape me into something beautiful (even if outwardly I appear frail). 

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13 emphasis mine)

ALL THINGS.

Have you ever wondered what ALL THINGS includes? The better question, as I’m learning, is, “what doesn’t it include?” 

The answer is: absolutely nothing. 

God has given me a gift in this season, the gift of neediness. I am abundantly needy for his strength, and am reminded of that frequently. I continually find myself in circumstances where I once would’ve thrived in my own strength, but now my body will not cooperate, so I lean on him for strength. Something as simple as opening the stuck lid of a jar required me to pray on the spot, “not my strength but yours. Help!” It opened without effort after I prayed! I really should have started with prayer, but I insisted on grappling the slippery lid, banging the jar on the counter, and doing a weird dance with the jar held between my knees while pulling with my hands on the other end before surrendering and acknowledging my neediness once again. 

God is good like that. Just when we think we have a handle on a situation he humbles us and reminds us it’s not by our strength but by His that we stand. There is NOTHING too small to call on the strength of the Lord for. Our go to at the first moment of a furrowed brow should be to call on God to strengthen us in whatever way we need it. 

Maybe you’re like me and it’s physical strength you need, but perhaps for you it’s mental, emotional, or spiritual strength you call on for help. Whatever it is, I’ve learned the gift of neediness is truly a gift worth praising God for. It is in this gift that I am reminded of His goodness, His strength, His mercy, and His compassion. I needn’t worry about my own limitations when I’m walking with such a mighty God. 

The gift of my illness has carved out daily moments in my life where frustration has the possibility to take over, but instead I see the God who holds me and strengthens me. I see my desperate need for Him in a life where I would've otherwise missed it. Those moments where the forward motion of my life hits "pause" are a place to sing songs of joy to Him as I lean hard on His everlasting strength.


Love,










photo credit: John Towner @ Unsplash.com

Monday, 7 January 2019

When Our Desire to Please God Outruns His Plans


Staying put when the direction isn't clear


We had just turned the lights off in our bedroom to go to sleep when I remembered that I forgotten something downstairs. Thinking my eyes had adjusted to the light, but seriously misjudging just how much they had adjusted, I began inching towards the door. Thinking it was wide open and I had made it to the threshold I confidently picked up the pace to grab what I needed and get back to bed. However, what I did not know and could not see was that the door to our bedroom was only partially open. In one over-confident leap to escape our bedroom I walked square into the edge of the half-opened door. My forehead notified my brain of the collision milliseconds too late as the rest of my body was already following suit into the edge of the door before bouncing back into the abyss of the bedroom. While fumbling for the bedroom light as the twittering birds encircled my head (because chirping cartoon birdies appear when you whack your head!) I could already hear the quiet snickers of my husband from the bed. He didn’t even have the courtesy to pretend he was asleep and save me the humiliation. 

As I switched on the light to survey the damage to my forehead, my husband managed to squeak out an “are you ok?” between his laughter, which had gone from the quiet snicker to a full on howl as he caught sight of me rubbing my head back to health. To this day he still razzes me that only I could manage to run into an open door. I, on the other hand, maintain that it was only open halfway! I just managed to use my head to figure out how to open it fully.

Sometimes trying to hear God’s plan for your life is like that. We can think we know the direction God wants us to go, only to forge ahead in excitement and hit the wall (or door). Part of growing in faith means wisdom enough to know when to stop and wait patiently for clearer direction. Obviously something I struggle with.

When our desire to please God outruns our desire to be near God we can move too quickly in the wrong direction. Pleasing God comes from the outworking of the fruits that grow in our nearness to him, not in our own decisions to advance our opinion of what should come next. God’s wisdom working in us should teach us that no matter how anxious we feel about needing instant answers and directions we must stop and be willing to wait. God’s timing is perfect, there is no need to rush.

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
Psalm 127:1

In the meantime, save yourself the headache and instead choose to be still and draw near to God. He is well pleased with us even when we aren’t busy “doing” for him. It is simply our relationship with him that takes priority over everything else. 

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her. 
(Luke 10:38-42 emphasis my own)

Love,








Photo credit: Pixabay @ Unsplash.com