Someone recently said to me, “God isn’t surprised by our sin.”

Throughout the day that phrase just stuck with me for some reason. He isn’t surprised when I chose sleep over time in His Word? He isn’t surprised when I gossip with a friend and don’t even feel convicted until days later? He isn’t surprised when I long for more earthly treasures instead of putting my hope in heavenly treasures? You see – I continue to surprise myself with my sin. I think I get a grip on my gossip; I even feel thankful because when someone else is gossiping, I bite my tongue and change the subject (by God’s grace). Yet then the next day I am babbling on about someone else for ten or fifteen minutes and don’t even realize what I am doing until it’s too late. My sin surprises me. I think to myself, “I have been a follower of Christ long enough; shouldn’t I have that under control?” Or I think, “What is wrong with me that I would sin in the same way I sinned five years ago?” Guilt and shame creep in and I feel inadequate and unlovable.

And yet the Lord isn’t surprised by my sin. God knows where I will fall short and He still loves me unconditionally in Christ.

Have you ever felt like your sin is overwhelming? Have you ever felt shame or guilt for repeating the same sin struggle time and time again? You repent of it – and I mean truly crying out to the Lord in repentance – but then you fall into that same sin again. It is hard. It is hard for me to see how ugly, how nasty, my sin can be.

My husband and I were recently reading about the Israelites and laughing about how many times they turned from God. I mean really? God literally provided manna from the sky for them to eat – how could they not trust Him? As we talked about it more, I couldn’t help but laugh. I know I do the exact same thing to the Lord that the Israelites did. I worry, yet He provides a job. I gossip, yet He forgives me again. I cringe before tithing more to church, and yet He convicts me and gives me grace upon grace upon grace.

God wasn’t surprised by the Israelites and I don’t surprise Him either. God’s love surpasses all understanding (Eph. 3:19). God loves me enough to continue to reveal my sin to me so that I may draw near to Him and know Him more. I will never be free from sin in this life, but because of Jesus dying on the cross I am able to be forgiven so that the Lord may see me as white as snow (Isa. 1:18).

Standing on the Word


This morning in my Falling in Love Again with Your Lord study we were prompted to read the story of Abraham. The Scriptures took us through Abram becoming Abraham and how he time and time again heard from the Lord. Even though most of what God said seemed a total impossibility, Abraham continued to believe what the Lord told him. Romans 4:20-21 says of Abraham, “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” As I read the story I was once again astonished by his unwavering faith and convicted of my own feeble faith. I’m truly amazed at the love that Abraham had for God.

A few things really blew me away. First, when the story began and God told Abram to go to a different land, Abram was 75 years old. God told him then He would make him a father. Later, when Abraham was 99 years old he was still without a son to be his heir except for one that he had conceived in his own way and timing—not the one the Lord had promised. Then Abraham didn’t have Isaac, the son God had promised, until he was 100 years old. While the fact that he was 100 years old and having a baby is amazing in and of itself, what stood out to me even more this time as I read the story was the fact that the promises began when he was 75. Twenty-five years had gone by with God promising him things but Abraham not seeing the fulfillment of these promises. Yet still he didn’t waver in his faith. All I can say is…wow.

A second thing that stood out to me more this time as I read Abraham’s story is when he went to sacrifice Isaac as the Lord had told him. What God was asking of Abraham almost seemed to completely contradict God’s initial promises to him. How confusing would that have been? God told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and that he would have an heir that would be his own son. He even told him when Sarah was gong to conceive and then once that promise was fulfilled he tells Abraham to sacrifice that fulfilled promise! It doesn’t seem as if Abraham even questioned this. Yet again, no unbelief made him waver—amazing! (Hebrews 11:17-19 describes the amazing reasoning of the faith of Abraham and how he reconciled this apparent contradiction in his mind.)

I say I trust God, but really when it comes down to it, I trust Him when I want to, or when it’s easy, or when it makes sense. Nothing about what God promised or asked Abraham made sense. I even thought to myself as I was reading the story this morning that for Abraham it must have been somewhat easier for him to trust because God was telling him what would happen if he did. God was telling him, “Go to this land and you will be blessed,” or do this and essentially this good thing will happen. I thought to myself that I would be more inclined to believe God if I was told directly and knew that something good would come from it. The Lord pointed out to me the irony in those thoughts. He does in fact tell me the good that will come from my belief. It may not be now in this world like I would like it to be, but good will come—I am promised heaven, an eternal inheritance that waits for me because of Jesus! You’d think that it would be easier to believe and follow God’s ways because of that, but man my flesh is weak and my unbelief is strong. And the Lord is revealing that to me more all the time. I want to have belief like Abraham; I don’t want to waver.

Let me be really honest with you though. Even now my flesh is acting up because I want to have this faith to look good, to be a “good Christian,” instead of having this faith because God is who He says He is. My motives are totally wrong. I am so weak, but I’m seeing more and more lately that that is the place where God can show His strength in me. Second Corinthians 12:9-10 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Our study ended the day with explaining that we have been given promises that we don’t have to waver on believing either. Promises like Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Even though my motives are wrong because they are prideful and self-righteous, wanting my glory instead of the Lord’s, by God’s grace I can believe His promise that Jesus has covered those sins and I am not condemned. My hope is in Jesus Christ alone. In my weakness He is strong. I am so weak, but He is so strong. Strong for me. May we all remember that promise as we go throughout our days, moment by moment. Lord, give us faith like Abraham, for your glory alone!

Planted for His Glory


“…for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy” (Psa. 63:7).

When I am hurting, I find I want to hide. I want to retreat. I think many people are like this. Maybe that’s why we self-medicate. We can “hide” in drugs, alcohol, food, TV, shopping, being on the computer or phone. Even “good” activities like reading or exercise or can become harmful if we use them as a form of perpetual distraction.

Our great God knows we want to hide. What was one of the first things Adam did after he ate of the fruit and sinned? He hid. “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Gen. 3:8).

Hiding is on my mind this week as I thought about Thanksgiving. Due to health issues, we had a very low-key Thanksgiving. No extended family. We ordered our food from a local restaurant, so all we had to do was heat up our dinner. We ate in clothes that resembled pajamas! It was very easy. During our meal, I commented on how nice it was to have had such a stress-free meal. My daughter asked why the holidays are so stressful for people. What a hard question! I told her that not all families find the holidays stressful, but for some families, getting together is hard. People who don’t see each other for long periods of time are suddenly thrust together, and that is not always easy or fun. Old wounds re-surface.  People squabble over the menu choices or criticize the holiday meal. And that’s not taking into consideration Christmas and the issues that go along with gift-giving and receiving, decorating, etc!

What I find interesting is how, when with family, people often revert to the roles they assumed while living under the same roof. There is the peacemaker, the outcast, the “stuffer” (the one who looks pleasant but stuffs away his or her real emotions), the cynic, the alpha personality, the academic…the list is endless. Sometimes these are not the roles we want to “play” anymore, and gatherings can be tense and unpleasant, even hurtful. And then we try to hide. At least I know I do.

We are coming to the end of our study, Falling in Love Again with Your Lord. Our verse this week talks about the shadow of God’s wings being a place in which we sing for joy. I have always thought of the shadow of God’s wings being akin to a refuge, like an eagle that would stretch out his wings and shelter me from the elements that could rain down upon my head.

But now as I learn more of God’s lovingkindness, I envision being a chick, and God, like a mother hen, wraps His wings about me to shelter me and keep me safe. To hold me close. To give me warmth. I envision being able to climb up onto my heavenly Father’s lap and have him surround me with His soft wings…giving me a place to curl up and hide away. “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Psa. 91:4 NIV).

David goes onto say, however, that in the shadow of God’s wings, he will sing for joy! David knows that God is his help, his shield, his strength, his portion, his Deliverer, his shelter, his strong tower, his salvation. He sings for joy, and so should we! Praise God for the song He puts in our mouths (Psa. 40:3)!

So, how do we go from wanting to hide away to singing for joy? That sounds impossible. That’s because it is – on our own. It is only through God’s strength that we can heal in such a dramatic way. We rely on God by fixing our eyes upon Him, and walking, moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, praying to Him, crying out to Him, and asking Him to direct our steps. We become acquainted with the person of God by reading His Word and spending time with Him. We heal and grow by waiting on the Lord to do the work He has promised He will do – and trusting Him to do it.

Father God, help me in this holiday season and always when I am hurting or feel the need to retreat, to come to you and find shelter in your wings. Help me to remember Who my real Shelter is. Help me to remember that the distractions this world offers are temporary and that they cannot ever remove or heal the pain or hurt I may be experiencing. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you and not on my circumstances. Thank you, Lord, for your loving provision for your children. You know we want to hide away when life is hard and we are hurting. Thank you for providing the perfect refuge in the shadow of your wings. “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” (Psa. 17:8).

Growing in Grace