Reflections: Past, Present, and Future

Looking to the Past, Present, and Future

As I reflect on this past year, often my heart was so deeply troubled about things that are happening in our nation and in this world. The truth that often kept me going is that God is still in control. He always has been and He forever will remain the King of the World. We don’t always see visible evidences of His love and grace, and it sometimes seems that evil prevails. But God will always be the ultimate Victor. He’s got us. He will never abandon us. He is always with us, working towards our good.

As I gaze into the new year, I know God will always remain faithful. He has helped me this far and He will hold me up through whatever happens this year. My desire is to more deeply trust Him and His plan and to fully embrace His unconditional love. The more I embrace His love, the more naturally love will pour out to others around me.

As for the present, I want to embrace every moment. I want to open my eyes more to the blessings right in front of me, the beauty God gives each day.

Past, present, future. No matter what happened or will happen to us, God’s faithful love endures forever. We may not always “feel” like He loves us, but this truth still stands. May we hang onto this hope each day!

“Jesus Christ is the same
yesterday, today, and forever.”
Hebrews 13:8

Most Visited 2018 Blog Posts

Sometimes when people hear I write blog posts, they ask, “How many followers do you have?” I shrug my shoulders and say I don’t know.

Years ago, I was too concerned about numbers, and I still fall into that trap sometimes. People approval still lurks in my heart far too much. I remain a work in progress…

Though I don’t check anymore how many followers I have, I do once in a while check which posts are read the most. It’s evident there are many hurting souls who need hope in this broken world. Who long to feel like they matter. Who long to feel understood and not feel so alone.

This 2015 post has been the most read post for the past three years. We may feel so broken, like we’re not worth anything, but God loves cracked pots. His love can shine through our brokenness!

God’s Love Can Shine Through Our Brokenness

This next 2014 post has been the second most read post for the past two years. In 2018, it nearly tied for 1st. Questions I still sometimes ask God. It seems I daily need to be reminded of His whispers of reassurance to these doubts and fears that trouble me. I love God’s compassion and patience with us! He invites us to ask Him anything, and He never condemns us! There is no one who knows us and understand us like He does!

God Knows Us Better Than We Know Ourselves

My Hope For Each Of Us
May We Remind Each Other Often

He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands

On New Year’s Day, a song came to my heart – “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” I listened to it on YouTube and found another rendition of it. I still love the traditional song, but I love this one even more, because it speaks of how good God is, how His love will never stop, and how every person of every color is wonderfully made and precious in His sight.

I have watched and listened to this song several times since then, and every time it makes me want to dance and sing with these young people. I’d do it if I could without getting short of breath or coughing. 🙂 But I still do it in my heart! And each time, God breathes strength into my soul. Yes! We are in His hands of love this year and always! What better hands could we be in, right?

The Grace-Giver Gives and Gives and Gives Again

“He giveth and giveth and giveth again.”

Words I still hear in my mind from a cassette tape many years ago. Darlene Rose, a missionary in Papua New Guinea during and after WWII, suffered in a Japanese prison camp for four years and lived to testify of the power of God’s grace. Through torture, death threats, and her husband’s death in another prison, Darlene continued to place all her hope in Jesus. He was the Grace-Giver she constantly cried out to. And He repeatedly reminded her that His grace is sufficient. Not was. Not will be. But IS.

Through all our troubles in life, whatever they may be, we need and have the same Grace-Giver. When we’re sinking in the midst of troubles and losses, we can’t always see God in them. But often in hindsight, we can see He gives and gives and gives again. Far above what we ask or think, His limitless grace sustains us and makes it possible for us to survive.

A couple of weeks ago, triggered emotions of pain and betrayal ran deep and threatened to drown me.

I longed to walk in God’s creation, a place of rest God has often used to comfort me and remind me He is Almighty and still in control, but the air was too cold for me. Then God gave us a warmer day and I headed to one of my favorite areas on the bike trail.

As I walked, I asked God for a deer, but I quickly withdrew my request – “I’m so sorry, God, if I’m being unthankful. You already showed me a butterfly. Thank You!”

Several steps further, my heart stilled in awe. A deer! Thank You, Lord!

Jets thundered overhead, and she gracefully leaped over the brush into the safety of the woods nearby.

My heart, too, was longing for refuge from the thunder of my emotions. Oh, how I ached to leap into God’s arms.

I headed over the bridge and sat down on a bench and begged God to bring truth to light and to take my fear away. This heart-wrenching fear for victims of abuse.

“I am the Truth… I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” He whispered. He assured me that if I open my heart to be filled by Him who is Truth, I need not fear what happens. I just need to listen for the voice of Truth Himself who has the power to reach every single person in this world.

The lyrics of a song by Casting Crowns began to play in my heart and continued often through the coming days:

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
And the voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
And the voice of truth says, “This is for My glory…”

Victims all over this world are silenced and not believed, afraid and devastated beyond what many can ever understand. But God who is Truth Himself remains and knows what’s true. He cares and understands us more than anyone ever will. He sees every single tear that falls, and He cries with us.

His unlimited grace pours out to hurting souls. This moment. Right now. No matter what we have lost. No matter how dark and lonely we feel. No matter what anyone thinks or says of us.

We may not always feel like His grace reaches us, but often in hindsight we see His steps of grace all along the way. Lighting our way in the dark, carrying us when we are too weak to walk on, and breathing hope into us when we feel like giving up.

Yes, the Grace-Giver gives and gives and gives again. He invites us to tap into His powerful love that heals us. And even when we waver and doubt, He still keeps giving us His strength to keep going. His grace IS sufficient. Not was. Not will be. But IS.

“But He said to me,
‘My grace is sufficient for you,
for My power is made perfect in weakness.'”
2 Corinthians 12:9
“Jesus answered,
‘I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”
John 14:6
“Then you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32

“Voice of Truth”
by Casting Crowns

Jesus’ Suffering Became Our Healing

“But He was hurt because of us; He suffered so.
Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed Him.
He endured the breaking that made us whole.
The injuries He suffered became our healing.”
Isaiah 53:5 Voice

Have you been hurt in your life? Is your pain so deep it takes your breath away? Do you feel like you’ll never climb out of the dungeon of darkness? Hopeless. Helpless. Alone.

Abuse of any kind can cause deep pain and devastation in our hearts and lives. We can even wonder where God was or is. It can take a lifetime of healing.

I was confused and distrustful of God for many years. But now I know and believe He would never, ever hurt us like that. He would never, ever abuse us in the name of love. He would never, ever steal our voices and grind the very essence of who we are into the dirt as if we are a good-for-nothing.

The older I get and the deeper He heals me, I see how He held me through it even when I didn’t see it at the time. The more He fills me with His love and grace, the more I see He values me. My identity is not in past abuse but in Jesus. And He alone practices the true meaning of love, because He is love Himself.

When people don’t believe us and slander us, God knows the truth and He will never, ever turn away from us. When people reject us and ostracize us, God will never, ever abandon us. When people judge and condemn us, God will never, ever condemn us.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8:28

Who has hurt you in your life? Who has treated you with disrespect and disdain? Who has ground your voice and the essence of who you are into the dirt?

God knows. God cares. God understands.

There is no one who has been wronged more than Jesus. There is not one thing we have suffered in life that He hasn’t experienced Himself. Can you see Jesus suffering under the load of our sin and the sin of those who have hurt us? The staff hammering down and piercing the crown of thorns into His head, the whip slashing open his skin, the slander, the mocking, the desertion of those He loves, the stripping and nakedness for all to see, the stretching of His body against the nails pounded into His hands and feet, forsaken by His Father, descended into hell. And oh, so much more than we can ever put in words. We can’t begin to describe the pain He endured. If we put the suffering of all mankind together, it would not even be a drop in the bottomless ocean of suffering He endured. And He did it for us!

He was broken so we could be healed. Isn’t that amazing?! If He didn’t count us as valuable treasures, He wouldn’t have done this for us. If He hadn’t done this, there would be no love. No grace. No hope. Ever.

It takes a fathomless love to suffer unspeakable agony like He endured. Not for Himself, but for us. Because of Him and what He suffered, there will always be hope for the hopeless. Healing for the broken. Strength for the helpless.

The Lord
who made you
knows just what you need.
The Lord
who heals you
knows just where you hurt.
The Lord
who loves you
knows just what to do.

(From the front of a greeting card)

“When Life Gets Broken”
by Sandi Patty