Life Is Not a Race| By Jasmine Beard

We live in a world that is super fast-paced. So long dial-up internet, buffering, and anything that brings the slightest inconvenience. We now carry the internet in the palm of our hands and can get any fancy restaurant to deliver us meals to our home.

I have often considered myself a runner. Not in the athletic way (although that is a goal in 2019), but just in a life sort of way. I have often wanted to pass through circumstances and situations in my life, skip chapters, peek to the next page, or to the end of the book.

I often say, “I am not in a competition with others, but in a competition all on my own.”

However, something I have noticed while running is that I miss things, I overlook things, and I forget to catch my breath and appreciate where I am, who I am with, and the journey we call life.

When the Bible talks about Jesus traveling, it never mentions that he ran somewhere. Think about it. He walked, and walked, and sometimes took a boat or a donkey. But never ever ran (atleast to my knowledge).

Jesus was not anxious as I can sometimes find myself to be, he did not worry about tomorrow, when His arrival time was, or what others were doing or saying about Him.

He simply walked. He walked the path God had paved for Him since the creation of the earth. Jesus had a certainty and a trust in God for where His life was headed and the miracles He could do without Him being in a hurry.

I think my nature to plan and run everywhere is because I sometimes think I have something to prove naysayers wrong and push my potential to its peak. Instead of fully relying on God in my life journey, I can at times rush to accomplish what my mind is set on.

This is a ploy from the enemy. He loves to see us run, gasping for breath, and losing stamina. If we run and even walk in our own strength, it is vain. We are instead to walk with God and allow Him to be the light unto our paths, no matter the pace we are going.

Jesus walked many places and was never in a hurry. The death and resurrection of Lazarus in John 11:1-41 (read here) reminds me of Jesus’ lack of urgency.

When Jesus got word that Lazarus (a dear friend of his) was sick, He did not urgently run to his aid. He trusted the word of the Lord and chose to wait and then walk.

John 41:4-11 (NLT) says,

4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.”

5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus,

6 he stayed where he was for the next two days.

7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”

8 But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?”

9 Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world.

10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.”

11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”

Wow, not a sense of panic or a desire to run in urgency. Jesus did not allow other people’s anxieties, thoughts of/for Him, or urgencies to cause Him to rush God’s plan to bring resurrection life back to Lazarus. He simply walked at the pace He felt led to and let God lead His path.

Maybe you are in life, and you feel less accomplished than most. People tell you you need to hurry up, that you are losing time, or maybe these are words you speak to yourself. I want to encourage you today to pause, wait, and walk. Walk the path that God paved for you since the creation of the earth. No competition, just you and God, walking this life journey out together.

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God is Speaking; Are You Listening?| Jasmine Beard

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As we go through the hustle and bustle of everyday life, God is watching us. He longs for us to gaze upon His face in the midst of our busy, and at times, hectic schedules.

We have all been taught that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Those are really big words that mean God is all powerful, all knowing, and that He is ever present.

These are great facts, but if we are not careful, we will fail to let the very truth of those words sink into our heart. We can instead put lids on God, doubt His power, His wisdom, and that He is with us always.

Most of the time, we associate God with what we are doing instead of who He actually is. We notice God’s presence in our devotion time, when we read His word, or when we sing Him songs of praise. However, if we are not doing something that feels spiritual, we think God’s gaze upon us has left. That is simply not true!

God is very much in the moments when we feel spiritually high, but He also in the mundane tasks we do at work, while we are changing our baby’s diaper, and while we are watching movies.

“Where could I go from your Spirit?
Where could I run and hide from your face?

If I go up to heaven, you’re there!
If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too!

If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, you’re there!
If I fly into the radiant sunset, you’re there waiting!

Wherever I go, your hand will guide me;
your strength will empower me.” – Psalms 139:7-10 (TPT)

One person I can relate to in the midst of my crazy schedule is Martha in the Bible. She loved Jesus, and just like me and you, she had a full plate of tasks to get done.

Luke 10:38-40 (TPT) says this:

“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their journey, they came to a village where a woman welcomed Jesus into her home. Her name was Martha and she had a sister named Mary. Mary sat down attentively before the Master, absorbing every revelation he shared.

But Martha became exasperated by finishing the numerous household chores in preparation for her guests, so she interrupted Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t you think it’s unfair that my sister left me to do all the work by myself? You should tell her to get up and help me.”

What Martha failed to realize is that the Creator of the Universe was speaking, the one who could tell her all about who she was, was in her midst.

We often read this passage of scripture, and we think Martha should have reacted and done the exact thing as Mary and sat at Jesus’ feet. I’m not sure if that is the case, simply because these two sisters are different, and their relationship with God was different.

Maybe Jesus would have been pleased at Martha’s devotion if she had simply listened, heard, and hung on every word Jesus said while she was working and doing mundane tasks.

Devotion, prayer time, worship nights, and Bible reading are fantastic things to do and things we should be doing. But, outside of those moments, we must recognize that the Creator of the Universe longs to also speak to us during mundane tasks and the hustle and bustle of this crazy life.

Trusting God in a Season of Waiting| By Christina DePino

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“Where is Bella?”

We all looked around in confusion. I suddenly realized I had not seen my 9-year-old Yorkie in the hour since we returned from watching fireworks.

After an extensive search of the entire house, we determined Bella must have somehow gotten outside in all the craziness that is July 4th. To make matters worse, we were in the Ozark Mountains, an area filled with wild animals.

The local “Lost Dog” Facebook pages made it apparent that July 4th week is a super common time for scared dogs to go missing.

My heart ached for our lost puppy, but it also ached with the realization that we are often like this with God.

When God instructs us to wait, but we allow fear to take over, we end up running towards the very things that will harm us.

Sure, “Trust God” is a cute bumper sticker slogan that gets thrown around a lot. However, when times get tough, and it seems that God has left us to fend for ourselves, that is the time when our faith is truly tested.

God promises us that if we will wait on him, He will supply us with the strength we need.

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

When I’m going through a difficult time, I like to encourage myself with words of scripture. One of my favorites is Proverbs 3:5-6:

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths.”

This verse always reminds me that God created us with limited understanding, and we do not always have to know the answers. We only have to acknowledge that He is in control and allow Him to lead us.

Did you notice how this started out about waiting, but ended up being about trust?

Something the Lord has been showing me lately is that waiting and trusting go hand in hand. Learning to wait on the Lord is learning to trust Him.

Sadly, our Bella was never found. After searching a few separate times and not being able to find her, I had to pack up and go home. There was nothing else I could do.

Fortunately for us, God is not like me. God will never leave us. He will never lose us! He knows where we are at all times. He feels your pain,  and He knows your sorrows. His arms are always open. No matter the mistakes you have made, if you turn back to Him, He will be there waiting with open arms.

“…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

“And the lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you’ do not fear nor be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

I believe that learning to trust the Lord completely is a lifelong journey. We may have learned to trust God with our finances, but still struggle to trust him with our health, or with our children.

What scriptures do you hold onto in the times or waiting, or when it seems difficult to trust God?

“Wait on the Lord”| By Jasmine Beard

wait“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalms 27:14 KJV

This scripture ran through my head constantly as I approached the end of my undergraduate career.

College wasn’t the easiest thing I have ever dealt with and certainly not the hardest. But, at the peak of a grueling 18-hour course load and a 100-page thesis I was conducting, I was glad the end was finally near.

This was the moment I had waited for and worked towards for 4.5 years, my entire adulthood. I had an assurance in my heart that the months following graduation would be some of my highest yet.

I felt as though I could dream again, outside the confines of a four-walled classroom, and overbearing course work. I thought to myself the sky is the limit, and quotes from the book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” danced in my head.

“Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!”

After graduation, I started my search for a job. Nothing suited my fancy, so I continued to work at the job I had throughout college until I figured things out.

At one time, I had all these plans for my life, “maybe I would be a missionary in Uganda, maybe a bestselling author, or a stay at home mom,” I would think to myself.

As months, post-graduation passed, those plans or wishful thoughts became a distant memory. I felt lost, I felt as though I had no passion, and I had no clue where I was headed.

I figured maybe I had made the wrong decision to get a degree in Communication, and that maybe I would be better suited to be a teacher. Writing and being surrounded by children had always been some of my biggest passions.

I searched the Internet through and through on different ways to become a teacher without having a degree in Education. I was in luck there was a program that allowed individuals that had a Bachelor’s degree to become a certified teacher in Louisiana within a short time span.

I figured I could work at a local preschool while I worked towards my certification in education.

When I landed a job at a local pre-school I was ecstatic to pour into the lives of little ones and discover more about the education field.

My first day was grueling, I found myself sitting in my car crying out to God saying, “why, why, God, this is not what I planned at all.” In that moment, I heard a still small voice say, “allow this to make you better, and not bitter.”

I wiped my tears and figured if this is meant to make me better it’ll sure feel better than it does today.

WRONG.

I committed to working at the pre-school for a year. Firstly, because I had no idea where I was going, but certainly not in education. Secondly, because I hated the way job hopping looked on a résumé. And lastly, I was curious to find out how God would make me better in this situation.

You see I had forgotten the other lines in the book that read:

“I’m sorry to say so

but, sadly, it’s true

that Bang-ups

and Hang-ups

can happen to you.”

Geez, if only I had remembered that sooner.

In a world with drive thru restaurants and instant gratification at its finger tips patience can be a character quality that majority of people have struggled with at one time or another.

Either I could run from the what God wanted to do in my heart or I could dive in head first. God had been in the business of making me patient for years. Time and time again I would resist and yet again He would have to rein me in and tell me to be patient.

This time I figured I wasn’t going to get anywhere unless, I finally surrendered and let God teach me the virtue patience.

Patience is the power or capacity to endure without complaint in something difficult or disagreeable; forbearance, long suffering.

There’s a saying “nothing in the world worth having comes easy.”

And patience, though worth having it certainly does not come easy.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalms 37:4 ESV

When we have desires inside of us that line up with scripture and do not go away with time, most likely that desire is there to stay.

Whether it be a desire for a career, a spouse, ministry, children, or freedom from an illness; we as people can at times grow weary when we do not get the desires of our heart in the timeframe we see fit.

When we place a desire on the Lord with a time line we can hinder God’s blessings. We figure if he didn’t do it, he won’t ever do it. That is a lie from Satan. Never in scripture does God say, “pray and if I don’t answer feel free to figure things out on your own.”

We have a God that loves us and desires to provide what our heart’s desire. But, our God is holy and he knows what we need, how we need it, and most importantly when we need it.

The Bible does say,

 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Proverbs 3:5 NIV

Maybe you have a desire today. Maybe you have prayed year after year with nothing insight to give you hope in that desire.

Know that God is much bigger than any desire you have, trust him. And remember in the time of waiting to allow Him to make you better and do not grow bitter.

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