Category Archives: Quick Encouragement

A Prayer for Your Thursday Afternoon

Here’s why I love written prayers, poems, and stories: they often use words to explain the thoughts and emotions that we may not be able to fully articulate. As a visual, emotional, internal processor, putting how I’m doing or what I’m feeling into words is often a challenge. It’s not uncommon for me to voice something days or weeks after I initially felt it, after finally having worked it out in a way that can be expressed. Anytime I can borrow the words of someone else, I often find myself blessed and moved. It can make me feel less alone. It can put words to what I’m seeing or feeling. It can give a sense of eloquence and beauty to situations that often feel confusing and messy.

A friend shared this poem with me recently and as it’s been passed around our campus, I’ve realized more and more about how well it speaks to where so many of us are right now. Somewhere I will probably be for the rest of my life. A place of trust. A place of unknown. A place of waiting. A place of tension between the newness and oldness of what I see the Lord doing. A place of faith.

May you meet Jesus at the well today.

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Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

Teilhard de Chardin

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It Is Well with My Soul

I know, I’ve skipped another day of blogging. I have things to write, I’m just stuck writing case study reports and solving econ problem sets. I’ve spent about 10 hours of my last three days in the library, if that gives you an idea of where I am.

But I wanted to share this with y’all really quick.

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I’ve heard this story twice in the past couple of days. And it made me cry. I haven’t been able to shake it’s weight upon my heart, especially in light of Advent reflections and heaviness in the lives of people I love and care about. You may not know the story, but you definitely know the song: It is well with my soul.

This hymn was written by Horatio Spafford in the 19th century. He was a lawyer in Chicago. He waited until his thirties to marry the love of his life, Anna. They had four daughters and a son. Their Christian fellowship included the family of Dwight and Emma Moody.

But then their only son died. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed the investments that Spafford had spent years building. So, he did what any good father would do. Sensing his family’s need for space and rest, he planned a trip to Europe for his wife and four daughters. He planned on meeting them overseas and then traveling to a evangelistic campaign in England. He was only supposed to be a few days behind them and then they would be joyously reunited for a much needed time of healing.

Then he got news that there had been a collision.

The boat had sunk.

His four daughters had drowned. Only Anna survived.

With unimaginable heaviness, Spafford boarded the same means of transportation that had just claimed the lives of his beloved children. He knew that his grieving, devastated bride waited for him on the other side of his journey. His life was not what it had been a few years ago. I have to imagine that in that moment he felt a lot like Job. How was he supposed to believe in a good God when everything he loved had been so abruptly taken from him?

It was while he was sitting on the bow of the ship, watching the Atlantic waters that had swallowed up the lives of his girls, that Spafford began to write, began to pray:

when sorrows, like sea billows roll

whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say

it is well

it is well with my soul

I don’t know where you are right now. I don’t know what is weighing on your heart. Maybe it’s finals. Maybe it’s changing seasons. Maybe it’s sickness. Maybe it’s a lot heavier than you wanted or asked for or ever imagined.

Wherever you are, I pray the truth of these lyrics, penned in solidarity and truth, wash over you today. Jesus is near. Your sins are forgiven. You are loved. He is victorious. And whether it feels like it or not, it is well with your soul.

 

The Power of Prayer

I hate to admit it, but I sometimes go through waves when it comes to prayer. I wish I could say I am 100% prayer warrior all the time, but if I’m honest, I have to say I go through seasons. Sometimes I believe prayer has the power to change the world and the idea of praying unceasingly comes naturally. Then there are other seasons where, though not from a lack of love for the Lord, praying just doesn’t feel all that important. Prayer is always powerful, but sometimes it is easier to let that truth grip my heart and sometimes I have to fight for it.

The past few months have been the latter kind of season. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to pray, it’s just that prayer lost some of its priority in my heart. As I wrestled through different life circumstances, I began to question the true impact or power of prayer.

And then some seemingly small events in the past two weeks reminded me of the significance of prayer. The truth that the Lord hears and delights in responded to our petitions. The fact that He loves to have our hearts aligned with His.

With these recent musing on prayer, I found a post that I wrote my senior year of high school, a time when I believed and saw the tangible reality of prayer. My hope is that by dusting off some of these old truths, they will breathe new life into your hearts. It has for me.

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April 2013

“I have felt the impact of your prayers these past weeks. I am certain now that nothing has had a more powerful influence on this life of mine than your prayers.” Jim Elliot

“Prayer is the mighty engine that is to move the missionary work.” A.B. Simpson

“Pray for great things, expect great things, work for great things, but above all pray.” R.A. Torrey

“It is possible for the most obscure person in a church, with a heart right toward God, to exercise as much power for the evangelization of the world, as it is for those who stand in the most prominent positions.” John R. Mott

“The history of missions is the history of answered prayer.” Samuel Zwemer

“We can reach our world, if we will. The greatest lack today is not people or funds. The greatest need is prayer.” Wesley Duewel

“I believe it will only be known on the Last Day how much has been accomplished in missionary work by the prayers of earnest believers at home…I do earnestly covet a volume of prayer for my work — but oh! for a volume of faith too. Will you give this?” James Fraser

I’ll be the first to admit my discipline in prayer is extremely lacking. But praise to be to God who is stirring up my heart, burdening me for His people and places. Will you allow Him to move your heart for the work He is doing around the world?

I love the image that we get to approach the Throne of Grace on the behalf of others. Let the intercession of God’s people pile up before His throne, just as Revelation 8:4 says,

“The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.”

It amazes me that we are loved by the Creator of the universe, who delights in our asking and seeking. In Scripture, prayer moves the heart of God, but more than that, it changes the heart of the believer. We pray to stand in agreement with God and with His people. That has the power to change everything inside of us.

Five Non-Cliche Truths You Need To Hear Today

One thing that I’ve learned in my mere twenty years on this earth is that if I’m not preaching to myself and letting Jesus speak His truth over me, then something else is going to. It’s like my heart wakes up every morning searching for something to cling onto. And to be totally transparent, the first thing it grabs is not always the truth of Scripture and who I am in Christ (even though I have it taped under my bunk bed, so in theory it should be). Sometimes I see a text from a friend and I let that dictate my value for the day – if it’s good and encouraging, then I’m at best riding a blessing-wave of temporary happiness and at worst letting my pride fuel my self worth. If it’s bad, I’m probably going to be in a less than ideal mood and looking to being defined by the world. Sometimes I let my mirror speak into my life. Sometimes I let a grade or a job or my perception of a situation define my reality.

I have to sing truth over my heart. Sometimes every minute of every day, because that’s how quickly I forget. But maybe that’s just me needing more grace.

I also need people speaking truth to me and over me. I need to hear the Holy Spirit in others proclaiming truth because most of the time its stronger than the things I see dimly with my own heart. This also means I need to be speaking them and praying them for others.

And just to clarify, when I say these are non-cliche, I don’t mean that you haven’t heard them before. I don’t mean that you may not even read all of them because you think you can be sick of hearing them. You may think they’ve lost meaning for you. I happen think it’s incredibly dangerous when we let the very truth of who we are and who Jesus is become cliche, meaningless, and rote. Yet, how quickly I also forget the reality of how powerful this truth is.

When I say these aren’t cliche, I say that because the truths of Scripture are the deepest and MOST TRUE things the reverberate in our world and in our lives. This is who you are. This is who Jesus is. These promises are everything because they are spoken to us by our God and Savior.

This ins’t taking “feel good” Scriptures out of context. This isn’t about proof-texting to boost our egos and give each other “holy” compliments. This is commanding our souls to dwell on truth. The truth that permeates every page of the love letter we call Scripture. The truth that is in every chirp of a bird, twinkle of a star, or the smile of a dear friend, through what theology would call general revelation. These aren’t some exclusive five magic points for a feel-good life. These are life changing, lead-you-to-uncomfortable-places-because-of-what-they’ll-call-you-to-do truths. Because when your heart realizes the depth of these truths, you can’t not respond to the Divine Pursuer with radical and wholehearted obedience.

So, let these wash over you with a fresh grace today. Or in this moment. And maybe the next. . .and the next. . .

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1. ) You are incomprehensibly loved by God. You’ll never understand just how much He delights in you and those around you.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

2.) The fact that Jesus loves you means that no one else’s perception should define who you are. Walk in a grace-filled confidence of how deeply He cares for you.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

3.) It’s not up to you and you aren’t qualified in and of yourself. It’s all about Jesus. So continue to embrace humility and let His Spirit work through you.

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. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

4.) The Lord’s ways our higher than ours, so we won’t always understand His plans for our lives or the world. We can, however, always rest in the fact that He is faithful and trustworthy

. . .but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. . . Deuteronomy 7:8-9

5.) What we think is crazy or confusing or broken doesn’t surprise God; He gets us. He wants us to ask, seek, and knock, approaching Him with prayers, questions, gratitude, emotions, and burdens. 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-15

Any truths that your heart has been clinging to lately?

Happy Monday, friends.