In part one of this followup, I shared a little bit about wishes and dreams. Today I want to finish up with longings.
Longings. We all have them. Those empty places deep inside us that can't seem to be filled. They won't let us ignore them, no matter how hard we try.
Webster's dictionary defines longings as a strong desire especially for something unattainable. Hmm...If longings are unattainable, then why do we have them? God has packed them inside of us. When we believe that we are created in the image of our heavenly Father, we can fully understand that He has longings, too. He longs to have a relationship with us, to be the center of our lives, and to receive our worship. If he has longings it is only natural that we do, too.
We try so hard to do things on our own. Our success in life depends on how we respond to our longings. We either deny our longings or we try to fulfill them in ungodly or unhealthy ways. In Fresh-Brewed Life, Nicole Johnson writes about different types of longings. I want to mention two of them: the longing to be filled and the longing to be known. The longing to be filled cannot be filled with material things. We try to fill that empty feeling with food, shopping and even people. Whether we are looking to be filled emotionally or physically (with food), that feeling only lasts for a little while and then we are looking to fill it again.
As women, we all want to be known. We want to be treasured and embraced. We want someone to pursue and understand us. While the men in our lives may know us, (our likes, dislikes and crazy little quirks) there is still more to us that is unknown. The same goes for men, too. No one can ever really fill our longing to be known, other than our Father. He is the only one who knows us better than we know ourselves. As fulfilling as earthly relationships can be, our relationship with the Father, will never leave us wanting.
God's desire is that none of us perish, but he has given us the freedom to choose salvation. He is waiting on us to make the choice. When we choose the world or our own desires over him, he is left longing. His purpose for equipping us with longings is to draw us closer to him. He knows longings and he is ready to fulfill our longings with compassion and understanding. Proverbs 13:19a says,"A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul...". We can trust him to be enough, because he is the one who placed the longings within us.
My challenge to you is this: Talk to God about your longings. Yes, he already knows them, but he longs to hear your voice. Confide in Him. His ways are perfect.
Are wishes, dreams, and longings the same thing? They are similar but different. A wish is a want or desire that can be easily attained. A dream is a strong desire for something that is within our reach. A longing is a persistent desire or craving that is out of our reach. Despite the differences in attainability, they all reflect what is in our heart. In Matthew 6:21 Jesus said, "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". What we treasure the most control us, whether we admit it or not.
Let's take a look at wishes for a moment. What do you wish for? Somedays I wish for peace and quiet, adult conversation and an extra hour of sleep. All of those things are attainable, but my calendar doesn't always allow for those wishes to be granted. I have allowed my calendar to dictate my priorities, thinking I can make time for other things later. Has my busy-ness become my treasure? I have to answer yes. If I truly wish to have peace and quiet, then I need to make it happen.
Dreams stem from stronger desires but are still within our reach. Think of dreams as goals. Do you have a goal? Maybe your goal is to run a marathon, to read the Bible in a year, to write a novel, or just to be the best YOU that you can be. No matter what goals or dreams you may have, you need to have a map. You need to chart your course to see that dream become a reality.
Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. Not only does it bring new growth and warmer days, it also brings birthdays at our house. In a 2 1/2 month span, each of my daughters turn a year older. I remember bringing each of them home and thinking that we had a long time to be a family. Now, I realize that I have two years until my oldest graduates high school and goes off to college. Two years!!! Where has the time gone? There was so much I wanted to do, to teach her and to prepare her and now I only have two years left! All those years I spent thinking I have time, and now that time is running out. I can beat myself up with all of the shoulda, coulda, woulda's or I can make adjustments and enjoy the next two years.
Last year, God laid on my heart the phrase "intentional living". He has convicted me of my busy-ness, and challenged me to only participate in things that matter to Him. I have always been a people pleaser, trying to be and do everything everyone else wanted. I want to serve Him and not myself or others. I am in the process of completing a four year commitment that has left me burned out and frustrated at many times. I am learning to think and pray first before committing to other responsibilities. In doing so, I am beginning to live out the plans and purpose that God has for me. The plan and purpose that He packed me with so many years ago.
May you experience "intentional living" as you journey through your wishes and dreams!
I am praying that you are walking in TRUTH, listening to the TRUTH, and speaking the TRUTH to others. I often find that when Father is trying to teach me something, He often uses others around me, books I am reading, and messages I am hearing to solidify that truth. Back when I wrote that prayer letter so many years ago, I was reading a book called You Gotta Keep Dancin’ by Tim Hansel. For those of you who know me well, I am sure the title made you smile because of the double meaning for me. This was a quote that really ministered to me back then and still does today:
We may desire to bring to the Lord a perfect work.
We would like to point when our work is done,
to the beautiful ripened grain, and bound up sheaves,
and yet the Lord frustrates our plans, shatters our purposes,
lets us see the wreck of all our hopes,
breaks the structure we thought we were building
and catches us up in His arms and whispers to us,
“It’s not your work I wanted, but YOU!!”
It is funny that people back then looked at me and thought I was so confident, yet my confidence was based on what I had done or achieved, not on what HE had done. Tonight, I was reading to my son from the Story Bible and it talked about how in Jesus’ death, He came to refute the BIG LIE….the lie that we have been left alone. We are not alone. He is our strength, our peace, our wisdom….the list goes on and on. I had to get to a point where I let myself fall in His arms and let Him speak words of TRUTH and LIFE into me. It has been said that you cannot give what you do not have. At that point, I did not have confidence in Him. My confidence rested in myself. He will not rest until we rely on Him and Him alone.
Another quote I want to share with you is from a sermon my pastor, Frank Friedmann gave back during this time in my life.
“Where there is honesty, there is intimacy.
Where there is intimacy, there is power.
Where there is power, there is freedom from destruction.”
At SHE, I challenged you to identify the lies that you believed about yourself, God, and others. That is just the beginning of this journey for you. Through that honesty you expressed that day, it began to build intimacy in your relationship with Father. That then turns into power….the power to stand up against the lies in HIS strength when they come to try and haunt you again. Ultimately, it leads to a relationship that is not shaken by the circumstances and storms that will come. Of course, this quote also applies to our relationship with others. I need to bring honesty into my marriage, into my friendships, into my relationships with family members. Being honest does not mean you strike out in your flesh (your coping mechanisms to survive apart from Father) and just tell people off. It means being honest with your feelings and thoughts about situations. It means admitting that you were wrong when you lost your temper when talking to your child. It means telling your spouse about your struggles instead of pretending you are doing fine.
Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. "If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you." John 8:31-32 (The Message)
“God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.” Ephesians 4:15, 16 (The Message)
My prayer for you is that you continue to grow in truth. Read the Scripture below to see more of my prayers for you!
“That's why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn't stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!” Ephesians 1: 15-19 (The Message)
I love you my sisters in Christ….I am praying for you!
Dear Sisters in Christ,
I am thrilled that we get to spend a little more time together learning God’s word. God’s teaching on courage was something that I really needed, how about you?
During our session the Lord brought out the fact that He allows us to suffer the consequences of our sin, not to punish us, but to make us aware of the destructiveness of our sin, to strengthen and restore us, and to coax us back into His loving and safe arms.
Consequences are what He has laid on my heart to share with you today.
Consequence – something that is the effect or result of an earlier occurrence.
In our session we discussed that the Israelites had been oppressed by the Midianites for seven years. That was because of their disobedience to God in worshipping false gods. The oppression was the effect or result of the earlier occurrences of idolatry. After 7 years they had had enough of their natural consequences. They felt the results of their sin and realized they needed God and cried out to Him.
We learn best when we experience the consequences of our own bad behavior. Consequences have a way of holding us accountable for our actions. Consequences teach us responsibility.
If we choose to become bitter and resentful towards God concerning our consequences (self-imposed I might add) we will lose fellowship with our Lord (which blocks blessings and comforts) and suffer through them seemingly alone.
The better response is to RUN into our Lord’s presence, ask for forgiveness, and renew that sweet fellowship which will open the channel for blessings and comfort.
Isn’t that what we all desire from our children when they suffer consequences for their misbehavior, for them to run to us asking for forgiveness and us seeing their repentant hearts? God does His greatest works through people with grateful, contrite, trusting hearts.
So many times we “bail out” our children before they suffer their consequences, or we fail to impose consequences for bad behavior, and they never learn the lesson or learn to “cry out to the Lord”. We think we are doing it out of love, saving them from difficulties, but what we are actually doing is depriving them of learning responsibility for their actions. Inevitably they will get themselves back into another bad situation because they have not learned to connect the sin with a consequence.
When your children experience appropriate consequences, you are freed from threatening, screaming, yelling, nagging, and complaining. (No child likes a Mom like that – they lose respect for you and that renders you ineffective to train up your child in the “way he should go”.)
Proverbs 29:11 “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.”
Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
Actions—that is, applying consequences—speak louder than your words ever will. To decide what actions to apply will need discernment from God.
Phillippians 1:9-10 “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ…”
Choices of consequences must also be bathed in prayer “before” being carried out.
My next blog will be about some specific tips on using consequences.
Dear friends, if we learn to model this lesson in our own lives, and are honest and transparent with our children in dealing with our own consequences, they will see that we practice what we “preach”. We will become believable. We will gain respect and will become much more effective as a parent. This is all a part of “becoming”!
I love you ladies, have a fabulous week!
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