Monday, September 5, 2011

Joy or Fear & Soli Deo Gloria Party

I'm forgoing my normal intro to Soli Deo Gloria here because I just need to say something...

Thank you.

At Soli Deo Gloria, we have a prayer request email list (if you would like to be on it, you can leave me your email address in the comments).  And y'all really pray.  You really respond.  You really lift those who request prayers up in a way that touches people's very souls.

Thank you for hearing His call to be a part of this community.  Every single one of you add to the landscape of this group, to this blog.  Without you, there would be no sisterhood.  You are important.  Your words are vital.  Your words bring life, even if they are about struggles and pain and confusion and hard questions.  It is in the suffering, I am finding, that we more clearly see God's Hand at work.

If you are new here, we welcome you into the fold.  If you have questions or would like more information on the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood, please click here.

 

A few weeks ago, I remember praying that God would help me learn to remain joyful even in the face of affliction.

I didn't realize, ahem, that this prayer would mean I would have to take on some affliction.  It's kind of going the way of praying for patience...

I'm not going to rehash the last few weeks, but the new development is that the large neighborhood down the road from our church is burning.  In fact, several cities in Central Texas are burning.  It's windy.  It's beyond dry.  There is no rain in the forecast.  Three out of the four fires are less than 25% contained.  Half of one of the national parks is completely burned.  

As I let the worry and the fear creep in, as I almost lost it in a downward spiritual spiral, I confessed to Craig the prayer I had so innocently prayed.  As I was lamenting the fact that these words had ever resounded in my heart and crossed through my lips, I realized this -- there are always two choices when suffering or the threat of suffering rears its head:

Joy or Fear.

I can't maintain joy if I give into fear.  Giving into fear means giving up trust in God.  If I cannot put my trust in God, there is no way that I can be joyful, for He is the wellspring of joy.  The truth is this:  I know that God is big enough to make rain.  I know that He is big enough to put out fires.  There is nothing in this world more powerful than He.  I don't understand why this is happening or why He doesn't stop this, but to continue down this road of trying to figure it out only leads back to fear -- I fear what I do not understand.

At the crossroad, I simply pray.  I ask for Him to move me where He needs me.  And I look for evidence of His Presence because even though He is not appearing in the way I would like Him to appear, He is still there, working, moving, healing, touching, providing, acting, loving.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  Romans 5: 3-4, NLT
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads all to truth.  The world cannot receive Him, because it isn't looking for Him and doesn't recognize Him...No, I will not abandon you as orphans -- I will come to you.  John 14: 15-18, NLT
Please pray for us in Texas...I just got word that fires are starting to break out in the outskirts of Houston.

Also, linking with Shanda...

34 comments :

  1. Jen, I Pray God will replace your fear with calm assurance and peace.
    I would be honored to be added to the prayer list.
    shanda.oakley@gmail.com

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  2. This is one of the biggest things I am learning right now. How fear can steal so much of our lives...joy, peace.... the very things we want so much. I am also learning the sometimes it's just about moving forward in fear...being terrified but knowing there is something more important than fear on the other side of this...
    Beautiful post my friend. <3

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  3. I am personally just beginning to understand that our circumstances are what God chooses to teach us by. I've prayer certain things for years and only recently have I begun to understand that I was rebelling against the very circumstances around me..whether I chose them or another's choices..whatever - I have a choice. And here is where I am beginning .. maybe for the first time.. to choose to believe..to do the hard things. I don't even begin to understand it all..but I hear what your saying and praying for the circumstances to turn hearts to Him...xoxo

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  4. First of all, I am so sorry for the devastation that is occurring around you. I am SO praying.

    Secondly, you wise girl. Joy or fear? This is such an easy choice on paper right? We strive for joy but that fear stuff ivariably gets in the way. One thing I'm really learning this year is that the more you do for Him and the closer you grow to Him, the more crappage gets hurled at you. :) (Yes, that's a made-up word and not one I am teaching my children...) You are a threat. The enemy doesn't like people like you because he would rather you just sit there and profess to believe and follow but not really DO anything to further His kingdom. I'm sure you have already figured this out but just wanted to share that little nugget of goodness I have learned lately...:) I've heard it before but this past year is the year I've actually LIVED it since I became a follower ten years ago. Good times.

    And yet, I marvel at how far I have come since last year in my walk with Him. So maybe this peeling away of layers is Him making us more like His Son.

    And now that I've totally hijacked your blog, I'm signing off. :) Praying for you AND for Texas.

    Natalie at Mommy on Fire
    http://www.mommyonfire.com

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  5. Yes, yes will pray for Texas. You know your statement about fear struck me. Fear and joy are incompatible like oil and water. Where one is, the other flees. Next time I face fear I will remember to seek joy as it antidote.

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  6. Praying, praying, praying for Texas, for the families, for the end of the fires, for you.

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  7. Jen...I am praying with you. So many people affected, so many fires, but even in this...God is bigger still. Learning to trust in all. xo~Shelly

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  8. Fear has held me prisoner most of my life. I am finally (Praise God!) learning that fear is the opposite of faith....and zaps us of our spiritual joy, which is our strength. When I can't see His hand, I try to trust His heart, His character, His unending, neverchanging goodness. I pray "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." It is in the hard times that we come to know Him best, more fully, more intimately, more "willing to stake my life on Him" way.
    Praying for you-

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  9. give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus
    1 Thessalonians 5:18

    A Mentorng Mom's leader at church asked us what life would be like if we lived our life by this verse - to give thanks in ALL circumstances.

    That perspective could change a life.

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  10. Oh Jen - you know I am praying. It is bad all over the state. I was just reading about the town of Bastrop - so sad. Yesterday in East Texas, a woman and her 18 month old toddler lost their lives when fire swept through their neighborhood and they were unable to get out of the house in time.

    I admit to also feeling fear, but fear is what Satan would want. I don't understand why God is allowing this to happen and why no relief seems to be in sight, but I trust the He and He alone is in control. I'm reminded of the story of when rain came from a cloud the size of a man's hand. Our God is able. So yes, I will not fear, I will trust in Him.

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  11. Praying for a quick resolution, there is nothing easy about being in this position many Texans find themselves in. I especially feel for the children who can't help but take this to that level of almost paranoia when something like this happens.

    It's pretty black and white, isn't it? Trust or not. But for those of us caught in the middle, the "but...", there is grace, standing in the gap.

    Praying for you sweet friend.

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  12. Praying, Jen. For you and for Central Texas. Our human tendency is to take stark black trust and paint it in so many shades. I'm praying for the Lord to lavish you with the ability to trust, just like a child.

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  13. You are in my prayers, Jen. My hometown in Arizona went through the same thing earlier this summer and my dad had to be evacuated. Praying God will bring peace and comfort to you and everyone going through this trial.

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  14. Oh Jen, this is the key and the place where God is taking me - even though He is not appearing in the way I would like Him to appear, He is still there and I will still trust Him. His ways are not my ways and His thoughts not like my thoughts. He wants us to have an "even if" faith. I'm praying for you all!

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  15. It is a battle, spiritual warfare between joy and fear. Joining my voice with others, praying you through the battle.

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  16. Oh Jen, we are praying from down here in Portland, TX (across bay from Corpus Christi). The smoke is all the way down here with these fierce winds. I needed this post as I so often struggle back and forth from joy to fear. I want to trust God in any circumstance and needed to be reminded AGAIN! I would also count it a privilege to be a part of the prayer list: BeingWoven@gmail.com
    May the Lord protect you and calm your heart, mind and soul.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

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  17. Jen, praying for your safety and serenity as you trust in God. Reminds me of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo - God is with you in the fire, my friend.

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  18. I am from Houston Texas. Most of my family lives in the Houston area. Some live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, but I have friends who live in San Marcos. So you can say my heart is a little sad right with knowing what is going on. I will pray for all to be safe in the state of Texas and for you to have peace.


    I would love to be added to the prayer list;
    alexandriasmom@gmail.com

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  19. Jen, I'm just down the road from you somewhere. The fire in Leander last night forced some of our friends to evacuate. It is about 1.5 miles from us. Steiner Ranch is a little farther. The Spicewood fire (down on HWY 71) had forced another friend - a young widow with four young kids - to evacuate. I'm praying for rain. Lord, hear our prayers.

    Anyway, don't know how I found this site, but not that I'm here, I might stay awhile.

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  21. I have several friends in Texas, and I am praying for you...Joy or Fear? What a great reminder. No matter what comes our way, we have a choice. Joy or Fear. One of the things I pray everyday is "I have not been given the spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind; God is on my side."

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  22. May the Lord sustain you and may you find comfort knowing that every flame is directed by His wise and loving hand. Fear not for I am with thee, is His word to His people. We will be praying!

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  23. I will be praying for you...can't imagine what it must be like. Joy or fear are quite opposite. Isn't it funny how easy the choice of fear is? But it comes at a price. Joy is our strength.

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  24. Will be searching a bit more to learn of this opportunity.

    Delighted to meet you today. I hope you don't mind if I splash around a bit to get to know you. This looks like a refreshing place to dip into some serious goodness.

    Splashin',
    Sarah
    http://www.justsarahdawn.blogspot.com

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  25. Wow, I haven't been around the news lately. Glad to join the sisterhood in praying for you and your neighbors, Jen.

    fondly,
    Glenda

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  26. Fear can be so enveloping if you let it. It's like a mad dog and will lead you where you DO NOT want to go! We need to reign it in with the Word of God. Praying with you. patsy

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  27. Fear grips our heart and steals our joy. You are right--the two cannot exist together. Will be praying for you and Texas.

    Janis

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  28. I have been praying for you all. Praying for His strength to trump the fear, but understanding how difficult it is when faced with something like this. Hugs to you, Jen.

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  29. Jen, please add me to the prayer email list. My email is c-kwommack (at) att (dot) net.

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  30. I am praying for your safety today... am praying for rain or buckets and buckets and buckets of water to find it's way into Texas.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog yesterday. It was MY blessing to have you...

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  31. I so appreciate this post. Thank you for sharing. Your lack of rain is not going unnoticed here in Wisconsin. Prayers coming your way!

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  32. sending prayers your way, as well. I'm not in the loop of the news so, I hope by now things have settled.

    Please add me to your email prayer list: theresamhorton@hotmail.com

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  33. My prayers have and will continue to be with all of you in TX.

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