Overwhelmed

overwhelmed1When I was six years old my family moved to Fort Sheridan, Illinois. Our military housing was a mile or so from Lake Michigan, and that part of Lake Michigan was lined with gigantic boulders. I remember climbing on the rocks and taking pictures with my family.

I always feel the presence of God when I’m out in nature, particularly when I’m looking at something God made that is much, much bigger than me. A mountain. The ocean. A forest. These works of beauty overwhelm me and I can only stand there and look at them in awe of God and His power.Overwhelmed

I opened my email this morning and read a message from a friend, Lauren—The Joyful Momma. She wrote about an experience with God she had at church on Sunday. They were singing a song called Overwhelmed (by Big Daddy Weave) and as she stood with her hands raised in worship God whispered to her heart, “Nothing should overwhelm you more than My presence.”

Too often I’m overwhelmed by my emotions—disappointment, frustration, anger, fatigue. I’m overwhelmed by the massive amount of work I need to finish by deadline. I’m overwhelmed that my personal life and finances aren’t anywhere near what I think they “should” be. I’m overwhelmed by so many cares of life.

But really, nothing should overwhelm me more than God’s presence.

Overwhelmed4

I close my eyes and remember times with God where I was so overwhelmed I was literally knocked off of my feet. I remember times in prayer where I received an illuminating understanding of a Biblical principal that I just couldn’t understand before. I remember worshipping God with all of my being and receiving the soul-healing touch only He can give.

And once again, I’m overwhelmed—by God, His greatness, His love, His mercy, His grace.

“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2 (KJV)

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Single on Valentine’s Day

(Reposted from Our Written Lives)

valentines-dayIt’s almost Valentines Day again, and I find myself once again writing from the single perspective. I’ve written a lot in the past about what it feels like to be single on Valentine’s Day, how we can make the most of the day and treat ourselves well, and how it’s not about what we get, but what we give to others. All of that is still true. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a sad day, or a disappointing day just because we are single. Whatever Valentine’s Day is, it will be what I decide it will be. I can make it a day full of love, or a day full of deep sorrows. It is my choice.

This year, I have a slightly different take on the whole “Single Valentine’s Day” stuff. I’m actually really thankful I’m single this year. I realize too often I find myself with unrealistic expectations for relationships. I hope for the best, and it doesn’t exactly turn out the way I dreamt it would. It’s my own disappointment and disillusionment that knock me off my feet faster than love ever has. This year, I want to say I’m thankful that I am not going to battle being in a difficult relationship on Valentine’s Day. I don’t have to bother with myself being a disappointment to anyone else. I don’t have to fake a smile through my own let down expectations. I can treat myself well, and the way I want to be treated. I can love myself and care for myself, which is my only job right now. I don’t have to put anyone else’s feelings or well-being above my own.

I can even trust all of my guy friends that they know what they are doing when they don’t ask me out on Valentine’s Day, and don’t talk to me like I wish they would. I can trust they are doing what’s best for my well-being. I can trust that if they say they aren’t what I need, they are right. I can trust them to know what’s best for our friendship, what’s best for them, and what’s best for me.

It’s not an easy reality to swallow, but I can do it. I can find myself secure in Christ’s love, grounded in His Word, and filled with His Spirit. Yes, I’m totally dependent on God for my emotional well-being. He is my source of life, love and security. Without God’s love, I would be empty. My life would be meaningless. I am who I am because He loves me and created me to be me. I’m so grateful for every relationship the answer has been “no” to. I still believe one day I’ll find the right person and we’ll choose to love each other. But for today, I’m just going to love God and myself. I’m so thankful I can always depend on the Lord. He will never leave or forsake me.

And to clarify, no I don’t think of Jesus as my boyfriend. He’s not. He’s my God. He’s my source of strength and life. He’s my stability. He’s my rock. And when no one else is around, He is.

Contentment—You have what it takes!

Contentment—You have what it takes! In Christ, you are Enough, and you have enough strength to accomplish God’s will.

Enough_slide_titleThere are many situations in each of our lives that have unanswered WHY questions. We all face really tough, really real, difficult, and life-crushing circumstances. How is it possible to be content in these situations? No one in their right mind would expect us to be content with these circumstances! How can we be? Our lives are being crushed and the pressure is so strong. How can I be content?

If you are experiencing discontent, I want to say I understand. It’s okay. All we can do is be where we are at, and trust in God.

Psalms 23 has brought comfort to discontented hearts over thousands of years. I’m going to add in my own interpretation after each verse.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. [I want right now, but I SHALL not in the future.]

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. [He MAKES me. I don’t want to wait in the quiet, but that’s where He’s got me.]

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. [I want to fix my soul right now. I want peace and calm and joy . . . But I can’t restore myself.]

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. [YES, I’m in a dark place. It’s not looking good. I’m afraid, but I WILL fear no evil, in the future, because right now, God’s with me and comforting me in the darkness.]

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. I shall be content.

There are two scriptures on contentment many of us are familiar with:

  1. 1 Timothy 6:6 & 8 (KJV), “. . . Godliness with contentment is great gain. . . And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
  2. Hebrews 13:5 (KJV), “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

The Greek word translated into the English word “contentment” is Arkeo. The original definition is very close to ours, but it also takes the meaning of the word to a new depth. Arkeo is defined as “to be satisfied or contented with, to be sufficient, to possess sufficient strength, to be strong, to be enough for a thing…”

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . .

Discontentment can be summed up with one word—a sin that is so easy for our human nature to fall into, that God issued the 10th Commandment against it: Coveting (lust).

It’s the itching feeling you have—that anxiety, lust, desire for different circumstances, better times, even a desire for the past or the future . . . It’s discontentment. In my discontent, I began complaining, comparing, creating contention, and falling into complacency. I’ve lived in the rushed, frantic, state of being that says, “I have to work more, do more, be more, fix this, save the day.”

In Ruth 1:20, Naomi said: “Don’t call me Naomi. Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me.” It’s God’s fault. He did this to me. Naomi means, “Pleasant.” “Mara” means “bitter, angry, discontent.”

In my discontent, I would cry, alone, and no one was there to comfort me. I felt like God didn’t love me either. If He loved me, why would life be so hard? I came to the place where my dreams died, and I just didn’t have any more desire. No dreams to reach for. Life’s disappointments hurt me so much. I WAS BITTERLY DISCONTENT.

I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

In the middle of many things I am upset and discontent about, God was preparing a table for me in the presence of my enemies. I may not have had actual people who were my enemies, but I had situations, emotions, and the enemy of my soul—all out to destroy me. BUT GOD WAS WITH ME.

In the middle of all that happened, God kept putting something else in front of me to do. Something for His kingdom. He gave me school to focus on, knowledge, experience and training. He gave me His love in the middle of my loneliness. He gave me His Word when everything else failed me. He gave me opportunity to use the skills and talents He had developed in me in the dark times.

Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

I remember a word God gave me when I was living alone in Texas. My dog Danny had Parvo and was at the vet’s office. It was Sunday and I couldn’t visit him. I was on my way to church. But I was so worried about my dog. He had his shots, but the shots didn’t work . . . The vet gave him a less than 30% chance of living. I was crying on my way to church. I was in the middle of a layoff. How would I have the money to pay for the vet bill? How would I be okay emotionally if he died?

I was playing the piano in the service that day. As I drove to church, Lord spoke to me and said, “I’ve put the piano in your hands, now you put Danny in My Hands. . .”

Contentment. Arkeo: “to be satisfied or contented with, to be sufficient, to possess sufficient strength, to be strong, to be enough for a thing . . . ”

2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

I had a revelation—my life doesn’t have to be perfect in order for me to find contentment! That was a very new idea for me. I learned how to take all of that negative energy from the discontent, all of the pain, all of the disappointment, all of the heartbreak, all of the trouble . . . And I gave it to God.God’s strength was made perfect in my weakness. Through God’s grace and power, I turned my discontent into creative energy, and I worked for the Lord with it.

Whatever situation you find yourself in right now, whatever difficult circumstance, disillusionment and broken dream, whatever it is you don’t like about your life and circumstance, and however justified you are in your anger and discontent . . . YOU ARE ENOUGH.

In the middle of your angry, bitterness, YOU ARE ENOUGH. God loves you in your brokenness and imperfection. God loves You and His strength is here for you. With Jesus, You have enough, you are enough, and you possess sufficient strength for all of these things.

Whatever He has put in your hands to do right now, do it. You are enough; you have enough grace to accomplish God’s will. His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Rachael HartmanRachael Hartman. Lover of Jesus. Serving in the Kingdom of God.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” ~Isaiah 52:7 KJV