God’s Thoughts Toward Us Outnumber the Grains of Sand

Okay, my intention was to start blogging again today, but my mind and heart were so overwhelmed with anxiety and uncertainty lately. But after spending some time with God soaking in the peaceful sights and sounds of His creation this morning, I feel more grounded in Him who controls everything. So now my heart feels nudged to send you encouragement yet today.

Isn’t it amazing that God’s thoughts towards us outnumber the grains of sand? He promises His presence and He will provide for us even when we can’t see our way forward. We may feel uncertain about the way forward. Our steps may falter. We may stumble and fall. But He reaches out His hand and urges us to grasp His hand in ours and trust Him to lead us step by step. To trust that His thoughts towards us are precious and He is with us each and every moment, even in the times when we can’t “feel” His Presence.

Imagine Me Without You
by Jaci Velasquez

“Imagine me without You
I’d be lost and so confused
I wouldn’t last a day, I’d be afraid
Without You there to see me through…”

How Can We Ever Be a Conch Shell to God’s Glory?

Yippee! We’re going to the ocean! I don’t know how often we traveled there, but I do remember my excitement. My big brother took our inner tubes to the gas station to pump air into them, and I tagged along.

I don’t remember everything about it as I probably was younger than 5 since we moved from California to Iowa when I was 6. But I do remember the emotions I felt. I do remember making a sand castle when a wave came in and washed over me. It didn’t even scare me.

Even though I didn’t really know God then, there was something about the ocean that filled my heart with peace and awe. The memories of the sights and sounds still draw my soul.

I love all shells, but conch shells especially remind me of the ocean. Have you ever held one to your ear?

According to scientists, what we hear is just an amplification of the noises surrounding us. Air bounces around inside the shell and produces sound, the pitch depending on how big the conch shell is.

It will always have a deeper, spiritual meaning to me. A few years ago, as I cradled one to my ear, I closed my eyes and listened. Sweet melodies of God’s grace sang peace as they conveyed God’s power to create and preserve. The waves roared as they came in and slapped the shore, then sang a lullaby as they lapped the sand, leaving ripples of God’s voice.

“Are you listening, My child?” God asked.

“OK, Lord, I hear You, but I’m afraid of what You will ask me to do…” was my timid reply.

“You are a conch shell to My glory,” He gently reminded me. “Listen to My voice, follow Me, and make a sound for Me.”

Conch shells were among the first musical instruments and were often used to communicate in ancient cultures. They are still used today.

It is called the Pū in Hawaii and is used to say “goodbye” and “thanks” at sunset. When someone asked Rev. Alalani how she always blows the conch shell right and pure, she answered:

“Because I let God blow through me. I blow for the cause and to open the Heavens to come and Bless. I give thanks. I do not blow the Pū alone.”

Often I feel I can only produce off-tune static that doesn’t honor God. I am afraid, even when I write here, that I toot my own horn more than His. Or that His love for me isn’t pouring out to others. But I know Satan loves to bring all my shame and insecurities to the forefront and dissuade me from writing anything at all.

It is hard sometimes to tune in to God’s voice alone, isn’t it? And when we do, it’s sometimes easy to wonder if it’s actually filtering out of our own wants or if it’s really His voice. But at the name of Jesus, those negative, self-critical voices must stop. He has the power to calm every storm.

“You are from God, little children,
and you have conquered them,
because the One who is in you is greater
than the one who is in the world.”

1 John 4:4 HCSB

Do you feel full of doubt, shame, and insecurities? You are not alone. Jesus knows and cares about our struggles, and He is available around the clock to give us what we need. Funneled through His cleansing blood, our faltering voices can and will produce wholesome heart melodies to His glory.

May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to You,
    O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14 NLT

Greater
by MercyMe

“Bring your tired
And bring your shame
Bring your guilt
And bring your pain
Don’t you know that’s not your name

You will always be much more to me
Every day I wrestle with the voices
That keep telling me I’m not right
But that’s alright

‘Cause I hear a voice and He calls me redeemed
When others say I’ll never be enough
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world…”

When We Lose a Young Life and We Ask God Why

“Why, Lord?” Why did You take such a young life away? One who could have continued to be a living witness of Your love?”

As my heart cried, this verse was God’s answer:

“You don’t understand now
what I am doing,
but someday you will.”

John 13:7

A couple of hours later, I found out our grandson, Kaden, had shared that same verse on Instagram.

It only takes a moment for life to drastically change. It was a heartbreaking week for many in our area last week. One evening a teen hit a patch of ice on the road, over-corrected, and rolled down an embankment, hitting a tree. His young life here ended. Only 15 years old. His 16-year-old friend is still in critical condition.

Both teens were in the same youth group as our grandson. Both lived out their faith.

Barry, the one who lost his life, is the only child his parents had. He will be remembered as someone who wanted nothing more than for others to feel welcomed, loved, and noticed.

Tad, the one who is critically injured, is Kaden’s close friend. They have played basketball together for several years. He did come off life support, but he remains in a coma from brain injuries. His body jerks and convulses, but he doesn’t respond.

Tad was 5 when his family immigrated from somewhere in Africa. Kaden said Tad gives whatever money he earns to help out his parents. He lives life passionately. His basketball coach said that last summer Tad missed some basketball practices, because he chose to go to a church camp instead. Even though he loves basketball, Tad says Jesus is still more important.

It’s so heartbreaking, isn’t it? Life is short. We never know what tomorrow will bring. We are but a mist that appears a moment and then vanishes the next.

We don’t understand why now, but someday God will give us light to understand, if not here, then hereafter.

Please pray for Barry’s and Tad’s devastated friends and families. And please pray Tad’s brain will completely heal. Thank you.

If you would like us to pray for a loss or heartache you have, feel free to share in the comments or you can email me in person. I know it’s hard to fix our eyes on Jesus in times when it feels like we’re drowning in grief, but Jesus knows what we’re going through. He cares so deeply and weeps with us. And someday there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.

“Jesus wept.”
John 11:35
He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there will be no more death
or sorrow or crying or pain.
All these things are gone forever
.”

Revelations 21:4

There Will Be a Day
by Jeremy Camp

“…But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering
There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place,
Will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we’ll hold on to you always…”