“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is to be present in the present. Gratefully.”
I enjoyed morning routines in my classroom of calling the attendance and hearing students say “here” and others “present.” It was their tone of voice that interested me the most when they answered at the call of their name. Those that said “here” sounded so unbothered with not a care in the world. Those that said “present” sounded like they deserved a medal of honor for being at school that day.
Present in this example means “to be or exist in a specified place,” in other words, they were in the room at the time their names were called for attendance. Here in this example means the same; it is describing being “here” now. The thing my “present” students didn’t realize is that whether they responded to my inquiry with present or here, it all meant the same thing, they were accounted for.
Psalms 46: 1 says that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (NIV).” This entire chapter mentions how there can be total and utter chaos going on around us but it doesn’t matter because God too is there in that very moment. God is always with us. Psalms 139:7 says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Whether we accept it or not, God is always present and accounted for concerning our lives. If you feel like He is not listening to you during this season, please know that He hears you. He knew the very words you were to speak before you spoke them (Psalms 139:4).
God is working even when we can’t see Him; even when we can’t feel Him. He working on our behalf. That doesn’t mean that things will work out the way that we expected or would like for them to but what it does mean is that God knows what’s best for us (Jeremiah 29:11). It is our job to endure the journey before us to the very end (Hebrew 10:36). We are not alone, God goes before us, and He will NEVER leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8). Let’s hold fast to the promises of God and know that HE is Present and Accounted for.
“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14: 30-31 (NIV)
I remember New Year’s Eve, exiting out of 2019 and entering into 2020. Everyone was so excited. Many were making Facebook posts of how horrible their experiences had been in 2019 and how they were looking forward to being in good health, and being in the pursuit of entrepreneurship, and improving their family life by achieving personal goal.
Now with everything happening so suddenly and making such a great impact on our normalcy, those same people are begging to go back to 2019. Wait a minute? Something just isn’t right about that. Sounds like the children of Egypt complaining about being in the wilderness after being freed from the hands of Pharaoh. Who would beg to become a slave again after having been freed? I’ll wait for you to answer.
It is important that we realize that the prophecies that have been spoken over our lives and the words that have been delivered concerning this year are still true and carry plenty of weight. If God said it, it shall surely come to pass. Write the vision! Make it plain. It might tarry but it will come to pass!
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” (1 Corinthians 12:21 NIV) Each part of the body is important. But let’s focus on the importance of our eyes, since we deemed 2020 as the Year of Vision. It is said that having twenty-twenty vision is the ultimate goal and any reading other than such could require corrective lenses. Sight is the most important sense. Having the ability to see allows us to avoid harm and remain safe; it allows us to see where we are and where we’re going.
“Sight and vision are important because they allow us to connect with our surroundings, keep us safe, and help maintain the sharpness of our minds.”
Take away our sight and we are left to depend on others to lead us both physically and spiritually. “Blessed are the pure at heart for they shall see God.” We see God in our surroundings, through prayer, in our worship and so forth. Psalms 1:2 tells us that we are blessed when we take pleasure in the Word of God and when we meditate on it both day and night. We should rise in God’s Word come morning and we should lie down in God’s Word come evening. This is what allows us to receive vision for our lives. This is what sharpens our sight. This is what increases our faith and counteracts the spirit of delusion during times of uncertainty. Verse 3 of Psalms 1 goes on to say that we shall be like a tree planted by streams of water. We will stay grounded no matter what is going on around us.
As I’ve stated in previous posts, we must keep our focus on God. We must not be like Peter who stepped out on faith but lost sight of the vision because of the storm. Don’t allow circumstances to cause you to lose sight of who God is. Now is not the time to doubt; we must have faith in our Creator. Regardless of current situations, God is and shall always be the True and Living God. There is no god that can part the Red Sea; cause the blind to see; heal a woman of her continuous blood flow; or deliver three Hebrew boys from a fiery furnace besides our God. One thing is certainly true; my sight is good and my vision is even better. I see God for who He is today more than ever. Will you stand with me and still believe through faith? He’s the same God yesterday, today, and forever more. Let’s not loose sight of God during this temporary season of plague. Let’s continue to believe.
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it! 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NIV)”
” Always pray to have eyes that see the best in people, a heart that forgives the worst, a mind that forgets the bad, and a soul that never loses faith in God.” – Unknown
With all that is currently happening in our world it is imperative that we as Christians not lose sight in all that we believe concerning our faith in God.
In an effort to escape the current reality of COVID-19 and it’s demanding presence in our world, I turned to my faithful Pandora playlist. I knew I could depend on the uplifting spiritual decrees of each song to lift my spirits and propel me to into the very presence of our Almighty GOD. Thank God for that playlist. As each song began and ended, I felt like I was getting one step closer to my place of surrender in God, where I could flow freely and give myself endlessly to His very presence. Despite the nagging sighs of my one year old that refused to keep to his bedtime.
As I began to drift into the presence of our everlasting Father, I could feel a damp stream of tears gently flowing down the side of my face. What was this song? The lyrics? That completely captured my heart and the very words that I wanted to deliver to Him?
Give me dove’s eyes? What did that even mean? Up until this point, I knew absolutely nothing about doves. I knew that they were mentioned a few times in the Bible; well try about fifty times; however, at this point, that didn’t matter. What did matter is that I wanted what Tasha Cobbs was singing about in that very moment. I wanted those dove’s eyes. She made this concept sound so important; so vulnerable. I was captivated with each word; with each verse.
I don’t wanna talk about You Like You’re not in the room I wanna look right at You I wanna sing right to You Don’t wanna talk about You Like You’re not in the room I wanna look right at You I wanna sing right to You
‘Cause I believe You are listening And I believe that You move at the sound of my voice, yeah I believe You are listening, yeah And I believe that You move at the sound so, give me dove’s eyes Give me undistracted devotion For only You Give me dove’s eyes (that’s what I want, Lord) Give me undistracted devotion For only You It’s all about You
Tasha Cobbs Leonard, August 2017
There was something about those dove’s eyes that catapulted me to seek more. The dove’s eyes were directly linked to having “undistracted devotion” to God. Wow. This is where we as Christians should be. A place of humbled posture.
Before the announcement of this pandemic I felt like I so desperately needed a break. Like any educator this time of year, Spring Break wasn’t coming fast enough. In asking for my break, I didn’t expect to be in the middle of a health crisis that would affect my role as mother, wife, educator, minister, and the roles go on. This pandemic has temporarily altered life as we know it and has created a “new normal.”
“Lord I need a break.” Who would have thought that those words would have so much power that would soon be answered, in an unexpected way. How many people found themselves at the demands of day-to-day life asking for such a break. We didn’t want a break that was caused by a health pandemic, but since this has landed in our laps…..NOW WHAT?
How was your spiritual life before this pandemic? Where were you truly in your walk? Could you say that you could worship without being distracted by upcoming deadlines? Could you truly say that you were giving yourself endlessly to the simple request of God that we meet him daily to break bread? Could you say that you were serving without any complaint? Let’s be honest.
You may be a multitasker just like I have deemed myself to be, but have you thought about how well you’re completing these tasks that are requiring the multitasking. The truth is, although you may prove this research to be false; and there’s a possibility that you are an exception to the rule but God doesn’t want us entering His presence bombarded by a to-do list with a million tasks. He wants to have our undivided attention as he reciprocates the same. We matter. You matter to God. We must believe that when we speak He listens.
“Give me undistracted devotion for only you.” How indulging, to be in the presence of our Creator without a distraction. Without thinking about what must be done as soon as you exit your time of devotion. Without thinking about all that happened that almost prevented you from spending time with him to begin with. To just let it all go and enter his presence.
Let this be our prayer during this time:
Lord we are completely aware that COVID exists and people are getting affected by it daily. Some are losing their lives but God even in the midst of this, give me greater faith in you. Let me rest and take flight in the fact that you are yet a healer and you are faithful; even to the backslider. Let my focus be fixed entirely on you and you only. Don’t let me have peripheral vision in my devotion and worship God. You are all I need in this moment. Let me only focus on you and your message to me while I’m in your presence. Amen
Grace and peace be unto you and your families during this time.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. – Psalms 51:10 (KJV)
This was David’s prayer after the prophet told him about his misconduct of adultery with Bathsheba and his responsibility of the death of her husband. David was faced to focus on the truth of where he was. He had failed. He temporarily left God for temporary pleasure; caused by his fleshly desires. David was left to face his sin. David had a few options here. He could have ignored the disastrous works of his hands and walk away in pride. He could have gotten sorely depressed to the point of stagnation. Or, he could acknowledge his deeds and seek reconciliation of God through repentance.
David chose to repent. Hence his prayer for God to create in him a clean heart and a renewed spirit. There is redemptive power in repenting. David knew outside of God there was no victory. Outside of God there was no peace. Outside of God there was no hope. Outside of God we don’t have true power to live and execute in excellence.
During this time of crisis it is important that we beg for God’s mercy. We need for Him to so deeply cleanse us and restore us. David wanted God to restore his desire to please him and only him. He wanted God to increase his desire for Him so that he could serve and please him with his whole heart. Before COVID we were most likely living a life that was either serving ourselves or living a life of juggle where some things were left undone or completed outside of excellence. Wherever you were before this, now is the time to self reflect and repent.
In the New Testament, David was never referenced by his sin, he was referenced as “a man after God’s own heart.” David knew that God’s love never fails and it never runs out. Jesus paid the ultimate price that we may have life through faith in Him. God is a well of living water that will never run dry. If we join ourselves to Him with every fiber of our being, we can worship in liberty. Unlike others that may turn their backs on us when we fail them, “the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save.” (Isaiah 59:1) Our Savior looks forward to meeting you at the altar once more.
Genesis chapter 8 verses 7 through 12 talks about Noah’s need of an update on the condition of the land after the flood came to destroy those that willfully did wrong in the eyesight of God. The first bird that Noah sends out is a raven. What an interesting choice? Noah sent the very animal that would enjoy the opportunity to get lost in feeding on the carcasses that were left behind. I’m sure he wasn’t surprised when the raven didn’t return to the ark.
Noah had no choice but to select another bird. This time, Noah chooses the dove. The dove, when she could find no place to rest returned to her home, the ark. Noah sent the dove out once more; this time she returned with an olive branch. Upon sending her the third time, the dove did not return. Enough of the bird talk right? Wrong.
There’s significance in the dove in that it was focused on its assignment and was committed to sticking to the mission. When compared to the raven a dove is much smaller in stature and their personalities are completely different. A raven is more forceful, curious, playful, and intelligent. Doves are loyal, focused, and are highly known for their ability to find their way home.
My point? Don’t ever be discouraged if you’re not the first choice in a matter. You have a purpose and you are more than capable of getting the job done. You, like the dove, must have focused vision when your assignment finally comes. Be clear of your purpose for being sent out. Don’t forget to return with a report that provides a clearer foundation to the original vision. Doves aren’t boastful. They are meek and are a spiritual representation of peace and hope. They are qualified for the flight.
Think about your current walk with Christ in the midst of our current crisis. Can he depend on you to take flight in your prayers and faith? In your daily devotion? Have you found the olive branch (good news) in the midst of our current chaos?
“The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.”
Did it just begin? How did you make it this far? Was it not by grace? This isn’t the first time you’ve felt the weight and pressure of life. Stop fooling yourself! You’ve been here before and probably countless times, it’s just a different place and different situation, but you’ve felt the pressure and pain.
One thing is certainly true in the law of science: pressure brings about transformation. As the quote says, “The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.” Be still and know that this too shall pass. Stop doubting who you are and where you’re headed. You are important and so is the work that you are doing and shall do. Just as a boomerang returns to its sender, so shall your strength return to you as you exert yourself in your determination to keep moving forward instead of giving up.
Do not abort your success because of the pressure around you. Rise above it all. Your tomorrow is depending on the strength that you acquire on today.
“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”- Author unknown
There’s nothing like the excitement of taking a trip, until you realize the dreadful reality of getting there. Unless you are fairly well-off or a millionaire, the fact remains that we don’t always have the means to a helicopter or private plane to make our trip quicker and more convenient.
Sometimes you just have to tough it out in coach and experience layover and delays. You might just have to sit in a crammed backseat with noisy relatives with pit stop after pit stop until you get there. Whatever the case may be, the point is none of this stops us from taking the trip. The fact that we might have to experience some discomfort doesn’t discourage our efforts for us to take the vacation that we’ve been saving up for and looking forward to. All we know is, we’re getting there one way or another, right?
Let that be your testimony for reaching our destinations in life. Don’t allow the difficulties of life to detour your goal of getting to your destination. Do yourself a favor and stop entertaining your thinking. The more you think about the possibility of delays and unsurmountable pitstops, the more prone you are to postponing. You will never get anywhere trying to avoid life’s inconveniences. Stop stressing about what’s beyond your control. Plan, set the date, and make it happen. Make YOUR LIFE HAPPEN. Be intentional about your destinations in life.
There is nothing like being discouraged by the trials we face, however, we must not get caught up so much in the trial that we forget about the purpose in which it came. The truth is that most trials come to push us into our next phase of life.
You see, we have a tendency to become complacent and stagnant when life is okay. Sometimes we forget about how thankful we are for the good and fair weather until the storm comes. Wherever you are in life and whatever you may be facing at this very moment, don’t give up. Proceed with life. Do not proceed with caution. Proceed with the faith in that the good work that has been started in your life will be perfected and completed in the appointed time. Don’t be in a hurry to elude life’s situations.
Don’t be so quick to throw in the towel. There is greatness in you. Continue to follow the path that you have been placed on and believe in your purpose. It’s okay if you feel as though no one else believes in you because we both know that isn’t true. I believe in you!
“When you discover who God is, you discover who you are. And when you discover who you are, you no longer have to struggle with the insecurity and self-promotion that define much of society. You no longer have to strain to measure up, to qualify. You are free to be yourself.” ― Steven Furtick, (Un)Qualified: How God Uses Broken People to Do Big Things
Do not spend time measuring
your qualification against the specifications or requirements that are posted.
My very life has proven that favor will trump a requirement every time. If you
are familiar with biblical principles there were countless persons in the bible
that were considered highly favored by God. Noah, Moses, Ruth, Esther, Mary,
and so forth; these were all individuals that were busy about their life but
were favored by God into situations that created favor for others. The one
thing that we as Christians hardly mention when becoming overjoyed by the
mention of favor is that favor can cause us to have to make painful decisions. Favor
sometimes comes to stretch you into a place of qualification. Bishop TD Jakes
once preached a series, “Favor isn’t fair.” Let’s look at what he has said in
regards to favor,
“Ruth just started being blessed. It wasn’t even fair. Just the Bible says that, what does it say? The Bible said that Boaz had spoken to the reapers and said just leave her handfuls on purpose. Handfuls, provision on purpose. There’s an umbilical cord between provision and purpose. God doesn’t give you provisions just for your own personal gain. God gives you provisions for purpose. Everything you got, your talent, your singing, your speaking, your ability, your charisma, your articulation, your IQ, financial dexterity, makes no difference what it is. God gave you those favors for his divine purpose.”
Whatever favors you find that God has left for you; don’t be afraid to pick them up and claim them. We don’t get to determine the favors that are bestowed upon us. God will always be just but not necessarily fair. Favor is provided to get you in position. It doesn’t matter who doesn’t understand it. What matters is that God thinks more of you than you could ever think of yourself. I’m unqualified but I decree I will always be favored.
“Making a big life change is pretty scary. But, know what’s even scarier? Regret.” —Zig Ziglar
In life people come and go. Opportunities show up today and
are gone tomorrow. We come into this world dependent on those around us and
then we become independent of the very people we at some point felt we couldn’t
live without. The point is this: if you’re going to live life, you’re going to
experience change. Even in death you will undergo change. Change is inevitable.
Change can be scary because change means unfamiliar territory. Change takes you
to places you’ve never been before. It’s important that we not allow fear of
the unknown to cause us to become paralyzed in the decision making process.
Limbo will lead to rejection of moving forward with initiating change. This
will lead to regret. The last thing we need is a lingering feeling of what if. Make the decision. Stand by the
decision. You might find out that it was the best decision you could have made
or it could very well be the worse. Whatever the outcome, discard regret. Live
life, your future is depending on you.
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