God speaks and gives lessons in lots of ways. Cats even.
And it’s a good thing that although He ultimately speaks through His written word, the Bible – He uses a variety of methods to get through to our sometimes stubborn hearts.
You see, lately, even when I did read the Bible or hear teaching at church, it was filtered through a heart beginning to feel that God really didn’t give a dern about her. (And if you know me – that’s some strong language right there. My Momma taught me that even darn and dern are curse words not to be used by “proper” young ladies).
Anyway, all that to say – I’m recently coming out of a season where I had pretty much closed myself off from hearing God through what most would consider traditional methods (a.k.a. church and stuff). You see, I felt like those methods had failed me. So even even though I sat in church and listened to all the right words – even parroted back those words out of my own mouth – it was all being filtered through a dark screen of disappointment.
So my good, kind, and perfect Father (a.k.a. God) spoke to me through something right under my nose. Well, right under my feet actually (I trip over her in all of her large and glorious “fluffiness” sometimes) – one of our cats, Grace, who we affectionately call, Gracie-cat. (We call her “Grace” because she needed a great deal of it when we first adopted her. We quickly learned why her first adoptive “cat parents” returned her to the rescue when she was just a year old. You see, some “think outside the box”. Gracie did a whole lot of stuff outside the box. I think her motto was “litter is for losers”. I mean, why limit your going to a litter box when there is this whole big house?!…… But that is another blog for another day!).
Anyway…. Gracie-cat and her “BFF”, Mr. Medly, love to sit in the sunbeam that shines through the door to our back porch in the morning.
But what caught my attention and helped communicate something God has been trying to get through to me lately is this/. Even on mornings when it is overcast or the cats’ humans forget to open the blinds, they still sit in the position for the light to hit them. So in their little feline way, they are demonstrating a pure and persistent faith. Even when the light is not there , they sit there expectantly so as not to miss the healing warmth when it hits.
May I learn to trust like that, faithfully positioning myself to receive God’s blessing and presence – even when I don’t feel the warmth of it yet.
“I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for and confidently expect the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the LORD.” – Psalm 27:13-14 (AMP – Amplified Translation)
Anticipating God’s best together,
Original Source: Leslie Vernick: Enriching Relationships that Matter Most – email Newsletter, August 2017. Subscription information and more available at www.LeslieVernick.com
Last year I had a bad fall. A corner of my kitchen floor was covered with large boxes that were delivered but unopened. I was standing in front of the boxes when the doorbell rang. My dog, Gracie, was anxious to protect me and raced to the front door, knocking me over in the process. I lost my balance and fell backwards over the boxes hitting my head on our basement doorknob. Ouch! I was sore and bruised for days. Falling backwards is more dangerous than falling forwards. I hurt my back, tailbone and my head because my arms and knees were unable to cushion my fall. Many years ago when I learned to ice skate the teacher knew falling was inevitable, especially when we tried a new skill like skating on one foot or skating backwards.
Part of our lesson involved learning to fall forward. She said falling forward is much easier on the body and less likely to cause serious injury.
I thought about that idea of falling forward in other areas of life. For example, I have just started to learn to play pickleball, a wildly popular racket sport here at my new home in Arizona. I still hit the ball into the net too often. I often lose my focus, take my eye off the ball and miss my shot.
Pickleball is always played with a partner, which compounds my misery when I fail. I feel embarrassed. I’m tempted to blame myself for losing the game. Sometimes I want to go home because I’m not as good as everyone else I play with. My mindset is like falling backwards. I create more problems for myself by the way I handle my failures. I’m negative. I’m critical of myself and I’m tempted to give up. All of these attitudes will hurt my ability to succeed at learning to play pickleball better.
Recently I attended a professional seminar on a new writing style. All I turned out was junk. I felt discouraged. I told myself I can’t do it this way and was tempted to quit. My mindset is like falling backwards.
Much of life involves learning and trying new things. And new growth always involves some failure. If you don’t learn how to fall forward when you fail, you will short circuit God’s work in your life and rob your own self of your greatest potential.
So here is what changes when you learn to fall forward.
1. When you mess up, which you will, instead of seeing it as a failure, now you see it as an opportunity for growth. “Sure I failed to write well in that moment, but I am learning to write better. Sure I missed a shot in pickleball, but I am learning how to play better and I can’t learn to do that when I’m caught in my fear of failure.”
Falling forward means you will change the way you talk to yourself when you mess up. Instead of negative words, use encouraging words.
2. Falling forward means you do not quit. Falling hurts, whether you fall forwards or backwards. But falling forwards means you get up, brush yourself, tend to any injuries, and keep going. You don’t stop and you don’t give up because giving up is the ultimate failure. Quitting means failing to learn what you needed to learn from this experience. Persistence doesn’t guarantee you will be the best at what you attempt to do, but you will definitely learn to do it better if you don’t give up and quit.
3. Falling forward means you stop seeing failure as a statement about who you are. Instead, you see failure as simply what happened in the moment. For example, I missed my serve. I hit into the net. My writing wasn’t clean enough. Not, “I can’t do it.”
Michael Jordan said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that’s why I succeed.”
In the same way we know that falling forward is better for your physical body, falling forward when you fail or experience a personal setback makes a huge difference on how quickly you recover from your failure.
When you know how to fall forward you start to realize that success is born in the land of failure.
So much change in this world – that’s a fact. But the stronger fact is that the God who created this world is greater and stronger than ANY change. He is so great, in fact, that not just one Name can describe Him. There are so many Names of God in the Bible. And each Name is a reflection of a facet of Who He Is. And I’m thinkin’ that at least one of those Names meets you right at that point of your need right now. These wonderful Names are throughout the bible, but here’s a link to a great little resource. It’s a printable calendar with 30 Names of God so you can wrap yourself up in who God is by focusing on a different name of God each day.
And I’ve also put together a YouTube mix of some old and new favorite songs of mine that help me focus in on the Names of God. It’s hard to stay “down” while singing along with these. It helps the most shaken and lonely parts of your soul remember who HE is. And sometimes… that’s all we need to know.
So, my cute hiking boots got all muddy today – and that’s a good thing. I’ve been battling discouragement after some doors slammed shut recently as I seek out my next professional adventure. To be honest, my initial Saturday plans involved staying in bed and moping all day. But I got up and went to my Amazing Church‘s Serve Day to work on a Habitat for Humanity home in my city. Sometimes serving others is the #BestAntidepressantEver. Sometimes you’ve just got to lace up your boots, tromp through the mud, and get past yourself.
The words below are a really good little read. So as you’re figuring out what to do on this Sunday morning, take a minute to read it while you sip your coffee or lie in bed surfing social media (as I’m doing right now). Then let’s get up and go to church. Or, better yet…. Let’s get up and BE the church!
Does the Church Still Matter?
By Ryan Romeo
From “Outcry: God’s Heart for Your Church” 14-Day Devotional (available for free on the YouVersion Bible App)
The Church is in the middle of a season of critique. It’s hard to find positive news articles about the Church. We see viral blogs about how the Church is missing it with millennials. Or about how we’re in decline. Or even dying.
I remember being in the middle of planning for the first tour. We were writing the first promo video to introduce the world to OUTCRY. We already had Hillsong United, Jesus Culture, Kari Jobe, Bethel, Crowder, and Passion signed up, so the task felt weighty, to say the least. But in one moment, while pacing around my hotel in Redding, I felt God fall on me, and I began to write. I wrote from the perspective of the Church as Jesus’ bride.
Then I wrote a line on the paper (actually, on my iPad!) that stopped me in my tracks. I wrote, “She is not dying. She is not in decline. Her best days are ahead.” As I read it back, I could just hear the skeptics saying, “Get real, Ryan! Haven’t you seen the statistics? Get your head out of the sand and accept reality!”
But God’s reality is not our reality. It is not swayed by public opinion or research.
It’s easy to find what is wrong with the Church. But God has chosen the imperfect to carry his message of perfect love. His ways are not our ways, and the Church is powerful and eternal… because God says she is.
Prayer: God, remind your bride that she has a glorious future. Remind me that I am on the winning team. The Church is sure because you are sure. Lift my eyes to see the Church as you see her. Amen.