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…”

Our Powerful and Faithful God Breathes Hope Through His Creation

Opening our ears to the sweet symphony of nature, our eyes to its calming palette of color, and our understanding to our Creator’s faithful care cannot but give us hope in times of uncertainty. Its steady rhythm reminds us that some aspects of our lives are not affected by the chaos and destruction of the coronavirus.

God’s Almighty power created the heavens and the earth, and it is so evident He is still in control. He faithfully brings the change of seasons, no matter what is happening in this world.

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”
Genesis 8:22

Every moment He faithfully watches over and cares for His creatures. Every morning the birds start an early chorus of praise to God. Unfettered by the cares of this world, it’s like their focus is fixed on their Creator alone.

“Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or reap or store away
in barns, and yet your
heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more
valuable than they?

Can any one of you by worrying
add a single hour to your life?”
Matthew 6:26-27

No, we can’t add a single hour to our lives or others’ lives by worrying, but I see and hear worry everywhere these days. In my own heart. In the eyes and voices of so many. Behind the tough exteriors of those who try so hard to be strong. In the text of our young grandson when he heard I was sick again and was being tested for Covid, how he expressed his worries of me as high risk and how they were praying. When he found out the test was negative, his words soothed my soul, “God has a plan for you and it doesn’t stop now.”

Yes, God has a plan for us. Even in the midst of uncertainty, sickness, and loss. We may rebel and think our plan would be better, but it’s not. There is going to be suffering and dying, cold and hunger, and loss of all kinds in this world. Do we always understand it? No. Can we make sense out of it? No. Can we run our lives better? No. From our side things look like a mess, like the threads on the underside of a weaving, but what God sees is the total picture of His plan, beautiful and glorious beyond compare. And we are included in that plan and never forgotten. We are the ones He calls much more valuable than the birds of the air He faithfully cares for.

“I lift my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 121:1-2

When you allow your senses to soak in God’s creation, whether outdoors or from your window or doorway ( or even from photos), does it breathe hope into your soul? What does it say to you about God’s faithful character?

All of the bird photos were taken through my tinted office windows.

My view from my office window. A house finch pair built a nest! The little ones have now hatched and are being fed.
Here is Papa!
“Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.”
Song of Solomon 2:12

The sun feels much warmer than the snow!
On the same day, this robin was also trying to keep warm.
This same robin devours seeds like he’s starving. He throws out the safflower seeds and seeks for the sunflower chips. Maybe when it’s warmer, he’ll check out the worms and bugs?
A chipping sparrow has been visiting.
The goldfinches left for a while after the big snow we had on Easter, but now they’re back. Hooray!

Maker of the Stars
by Demetrios Leiloglou

“I sat and watched the evening sky as it turned shades of red
One by one the stars came out like diamonds in a sea of black
And as I started to count them all I realized they had no end
That’s the way it must be with God’s love… the Maker of the Stars…”

Stepping Into the Unknown With Fear and Trusting Jesus Will Never Abandon Us

One of my favorite places to visit as a child was Island Park in a small town in NW Iowa. I remember the challenge of crossing the river on stepping-stones at the bottom of a waterfall.

A couple of steps were missing and left wide gaps of uncertainty. As I sat on a step and reached my bare toes underneath the water, I could still feel the missing step’s slimy, slippery foundation. Dare I step forward?

Sometimes I didn’t dare. Other times I risked it, but I soon changed my mind when I nearly slipped into the rushing water. However, there were also times I did brave it and got to the other side of the river with a shout of victory.

Sometimes a flood drowns out Island Park. The river rages and obliterates all traces of any steps at all. When devastating storms in our lives churn up chaos in our hearts, the way forward can get blinded by fear. What if we take the wrong step? What if we fail? What if we get hurt again?

When Peter walked on the water towards Jesus, he stepped out in blind faith. His eyes were fixed on Jesus, and he gave no thought to missing stepping-stones. But then his heart looked away from Jesus, and all he saw were the winds whipping up the waves to a frenzy. His courage crashed. And he sank in fear… Save me, Lord! (Matthew 14:22-34)

Jesus stretched out His hand and rescued him. Even though he doubted. And He will do the same for us, even when we become faint of heart. Jesus never holds our lack of trust against us. He rescues us anyway.

Our lives are like taking small steps of faith, aren’t they? Small steps, not without fear, but in spite of fear. Sometimes one step forward and two steps back, but still forward.

We don’t know what lies ahead of us in this world. As we reach our toes ahead into uncertainty, our hearts may tremble with fear. Sometimes we slip and slide and fall wounded. Sometimes fear sinks us when we lose our focus on our only hope in Jesus. In panic, we cry out to God.

Again and again, Jesus will grasp our hand with His hand of powerful, unfailing love, pull us up again, and give us the strength to go on. He’s got us in His firm grip, and He’s not going to let us go.

“If God hadn’t been there for me,
I never would have made it.
The minute I said, ‘I’m slipping, I’m falling,’
Your love, GOD, took hold and held me fast.
When I was upset and beside myself,
You calmed me down and cheered me up.”
Psalm 94:17-19 MSG
“That’s right. Because I, your GOD,
have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.
I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic.
I’m right here to help you.'”
Isaiah 41:13 MSG
“When struck by fear,
I let go, depending securely upon You alone.”
Psalm 56:3 VOICE

“I Am Not Alone”
by Kari Jobe