Posts tagged faith
we are certain | gracious uncertainty

"The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. Consequently, we do not make our nests anywhere. Our common sense says, “Well, supposing I were in that condition…” We cannot presume to see ourselves in any circumstance in which we have never been. Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life—gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what a day may bring forth. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but rather, it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God." —Oswald Chambers

i'm sitting here in a coffee shop, listening in on parts of talks of grace & the gospel. the movement of people in and out the door and the clattoring of dishes with a faint sound of Mumford & Sons in the background behind the background. i'm not much for coffee, but i do love the shops.

nowadays, i continue learning the exact same things that i was a week ago. a month ago. a year ago. strange, but my pride never imagined i would still be on my knees pleading for more and more grace...pleading for a heart that says with joy, "yet not as i will but as you will, Lord." asking for more and more mercy. more and more trust + thankfulness instead of anxiousness. i didn't imagine a lot of things, for that matter. fickle, fickle, heart! the nights where my soul is anchored down feeling lonely haven't gone away. the days where i come continually with empty hands, wrecked by my unworthiness and selfishness, realizing that i can't do it, that only Jesus can, haven't stopped.

the days ahead scream with uncertainty, and frankly, it scares me. i wish it didn't. my flesh desires worry instead of resting in the sufficiency and sovereignty He promises. it's sin, not the cross to which i should cling. instead of asking for wisdom, I doubt and waiver. hypocrite and double-minded, i am! how easy it is to have joy and trust Him when the times are grand and good. but when the sun goes away and the times become darker, you see how trust and counting the trials a joy are are continual battles, i think.

surrender. this is what Jesus is teaching me. surrendering my longings and anxiousness (philippians 4:6 has been wonderful); the things i grasp and hold on to. the joys of this life are so fleeting, so temporary, yet i still cling, hoping they'll fulfill. i'm seeing how wrong i am and how sinful and foolish this is as I read philippians 3:8. how often i fall short & despair! BUT how good it is that i'm forgiven over and over because of Jesus (Just read Romans 8 or Ephesians 2). i'm learning, once again, how my circumstances are no mistake (because my times are in His hands, thus, He is sovereign) + for my good ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE (see romans 8:28), not mine.

i'm realizing how every day is being used to transform me more and more like Him and it's producing a comfort as i run into the arms of my Savior, and also, a steadfastness. i'm learning, that yes, He is enough. there's comfort and rest in that. praise Him that the same grace that has carried me here is the same grace that will carry me home (just read Isaiah 40). praise Him that there's certainty in the uncertainty & praise him for coffee shops.

Sincerely, Hannah

AUTUMN NOTES FOR THE SOUL

(a collection of words from my journal and heart over this past season on different occasions, acting as rambling thoughts and pep-talks to myself)

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• There’s a sweetness in brokenness and hurt that sends you fleeing to the Savior.

• If you’re feeling awkward, try to change that. Get uncomfortable and be somewhat social, whether it is by forcing a laugh or faking a smile. At least go say “hello”. I know as an introvert it is hard, and not everyone understands, but it’ll be okay. Fake it ‘till you make it if you have to.

• There are hard days, like today; where you feel like you’ve been running circles and that you barely know yourself. You might feel confused and hurt and lonely and who knows what else. But guess what, tomorrow is another day.

• When there’s an empty room and a piano, go over and play. Hit a wrong note. Perform loudly as if you could care less. Not for anyone, just yourself. Try to sing along to a tune you just thought of and can’t really play. Play hymns you don’t really know and sing at the top of your lungs.

• Your worth is in Christ, who is forever faithful. Trust in Him and what shall outlast the test of time; because those mundane things of today will soon vanish from memory. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

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• Nobody may understand your humor or that somewhat-but-not-really-witty quip, but it’s the thought that counts. And if it’s just one person’s suppressed giggle or smile, take joy in that.

• Walk into Chick-fil-A and hug that cow or set up your laptop and blast Spotify. Ask for a ton of sauces and well-done everything. Don’t look up afraid of what people might think; embrace those weird, astonished looks you get from people and smile back at them. Stay until 9:59 and enjoy yourself.

• Confess what you’ve been wrestling with. What makes you crazy. What hurts you. What you find discouraging or challenging. What makes your soul thirst. What makes your entire being full of happiness. If you have to cry, cry. If you have to scream or clench your teeth or hit the table with your fist, do that. You’ll make it through, whatever it is.

• Remember details and ask people about them. Show them they are cherished, loved, because it’s these things that prove you care the most. Take these chances to encourage them and point them to Christ.

• Be thankful for the good times and dare to try something that terrifies you- something that makes you sick to your stomach. Dare to fail in front of others. Go up to that stranger your friends picked out and shake their hand. Sing around a campfire or run up to pet someone’s goat. Intercept that football and show people you can throw a spiral (or not, for that matter). Those smiles and laughs and fails won’t be here forever. Give in to a grin and a giggle because they happened.

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• It’s okay not to have the words for what you feel or what you want to say. There will be times when things are welled deep and things that cannot be explained. It’s okay. Put it at the feet of the One who died for your soul.

• Busyness may reassure you that perhaps your life has meaning, but truly, it doesn’t make you more holy or mature-looking. It just shows that you’re busy. And that you’re overwhelmed. That you’re just like everyone else. Busyness isn’t to be gloried or bragged in. Slow down, take everything in. Forget the hustle and bustle for a moment. Simplify. Don’t become so preoccupied that you overlook the simple and beautiful in the everyday. You may just miss it.

• If you must wait, wait in prayer. Wait in simplicity. Wait in humility. Wait in quietness. Wait in grace. Wait in faith. Wait in patience. Not in rebellion, but with a quiet, humble, spirit; sure of the goodness of the Lord. Yes, there will be times when you wait in uncertainty and you won’t be sure, but have a steady hope. Never grumble or complain. But instead approach the Savior and say, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”

• Remember that life isn’t as awful as it could be, and it certainly isn’t as terrible as you deserve. Learn to say whole-heartedly, “All I have is Christ.”

• Be thankful. Be prayerful. Be faithful. Be kind. Be loving. And if you have to, ask for a heart of those things. Ask for growth in every grace.

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• No matter what, rest knowing that Christ’s work on the cross is enough. That He loves you and carries you through, every step of the way.

• And I don’t care if you’ll stand out or look like a goody two-shoe, but dagum, if you say you love the Lord and care about His Word and His commands, then freaking act like it in public. Do you not realize that although you may be homeschooled and go to a Christian school, not everyone will be going into Heaven with you because they’re wearing uniforms with a cross or sit next to you in the pew? And you want to be a missionary and evangelize to people in other countries, yet you cannot do that here, when there are endless opportunities in front of you. Oh soul, how do you expect to tell a stranger effectively about the Gospel and how you’ve been changed in the deepest of ways when you cannot share that with a friend who will understand your words and see the sincerity in your eyes, heart, and life? Don’t just say that you are a disciple of Christ, and hide in the darkness with everyone else. You’re supposed to be a witness and a light; And dang, you really do a crummy job at that. Oh soul, pray. Pray pray.

Instead of complaining with someone about an upcoming test, ask about what God’s done in their life lately, or How God’s shown them grace lately. Ask how you can pray for someone. Give someone a hug. Ask the person who’s annoying, or dumb, or whatever you want to call it, how they’ve been doing. Love others as Christ loves you. Care. Build up and don’t tear down. Make Christ the center and glorify him in every little thing. I know it’s tempting to gossip and swear and act pervertedly like everyone else, but please, please, use kind, patient words. Be quick to listen and slow to speak . Tame your tongue and think. Would you act the same way if you knew Christ was coming in 5 minutes? Would you be ready to give account for every thought and deed? Forgive like Christ forgives you each and every day. Yes, forgive when someone may unknowingly offend you when they don’t sit in class with you or make a racist joke (because you seem to be okay with it anyways). &It doesn’t have to be through something major and public, but in the little things when people aren’t watching, honor Him. I know that this Christian life seems overwhelming, and you know, it most certainly is. The bar is high, and it’s like that on purpose; it’s to show us our desperate need of Jesus and our dependency on Him.

&Don’t ever forget that each and every moment is a gift of Mercy to your soul. Remember that you are a sinner; a terrible, horrible, person who deserves to be less than the dust of the ground. You deserve to be cast into the fiery furnace. You cannot earn favor with God, no matter how much you do. Remember that Christ didn’t have to die on the cross, but in obedience, He graciously laid down His blameless life to save your soul from the depths of Hell so that you could stand justified and forgiven and spend eternity with Him. Should that not be enough? Oh heart, cling to the Savior, because all other ground is sinking sand.

• Live a life characterized by grace.

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Here's to...

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“Nothing teaches us about the preciousness of the Creator as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else.” —Charles Spurgeon

Here's to the days well-spent and the mercies anew and the overflowing cup of countless unexpected graces and gifts. Here's to remembering that Christ is all one will ever truly need and that He is so very faithful and sovereign in every season. Here's to remembering that life isn't always easy, and that it's okay to admit you're a mess and don't know what to do. Here's to walking the journey filled with struggles and trials with a humble confidence in the sufficiency of the Lord. Here's to taking a deep breath, and continuing on, one step at a time, realizing that the messy everyday is in fact, a wonderful, marvelous, gift from God.

17 is crazy, exciting, overwhelming, confusing, convicting, disappointing, and joy-filled as ever. But while each day passes, I realize that my home is not here; instead that beholding glory awaits and that the Potter is using these mundane, little happenings to transform me more into the image of His Son. I'm learning to whole-heartedly say, "It is well with my soul," and "'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus." I'm learning that there's a lot of peace when you put everything of into the hands wounded for you and when you cast away all the empty things of the world. I'm learning to take joy in the little things and I'm clinging to the cross with hope; the same hope I held when my soul was saved making my love even deeper. God is changing my heart like he changes the leaves. It's a glorious, wonderful season, and I am so very thankful.

I will see the goodness of the Lord

Before school came to a close last year, I was fortunate enough to become a part of Chick-fil-A and work behind their counters. These past 12 weeks have been pure bliss. I absolutely love my job and I am so grateful for every moment I spend at the store. Wonderful people who make my time there so enjoyable abound. I would not trade my job there for anything in the world. Not everyone has the opportunity to take ugly selfies with co-workers and not feel weird. Not everyone goes on special outings the one day everyone has off. My job is such a blessing. Some days though, it is easy to come home and feel like you've been thrown from where you stand into a puddle of mud and left there. There are days where everything that you hoped wouldn't happen, happens... There are the things you have no control over and you're left dumbfounded and wondering. Or when you're told something and have no idea how to respond. You have those times where people blow up in your face and all you feel like doing is going to a corner and never coming out. Getting up, shaking everything off, and continuing to smile is not a piece of cake in the slightest.

I came home from work crying today. Got a hug, dried the tears, and then cried again. I came across Psalm 27:13 as I scrolled around on my phone. The verse reads, "I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD." I am so grateful to know that Jesus is using every little detail for my good and his glory, even when I don't understand what's going on or why certain things are happening. I'm grateful that he is sovereign and so very kind. He protects me in my days of trouble the same way He does in my days of peace & i have so many evidences of graces from my past to prove it.

It is not easy to share my life, even if it's vaguely like this. Being an introvert, I prefer to keep things locked up and build walls. most times, my posts are deleted before I hit 'publish'. &I am aware that almost, if not all, of my writing address things about Jesus. I write about Jesus because I love Him and because this is what He is doing right now in my life. Please know, that I am not asking you to be religious as I am, or write about the same things I do, but I am asking you to read about what Jesus is doing in my life and my walk as a Believer. I have been paid for, rescued, and forgiven all by a Savior who decided to love an undeserving and sinning orphan from China. My life is so radically different from what it was before, and I think that the least I can do is write about it. My journey isn't all fluff and fun..It’s the messy, it's the struggles, the hardship, the sweat, the tears, and the faith in the one who gave me the light to see. It'll be a crazy ride, and I'm so very glad Jesus will be with me every single step of the way.

I have no idea what I'm doing

Life lately has felt like an unpredictable sea in the midst of a dark, trying storm... A storm where seeing a foot in front of you is nearly impossible. A humming sound came softly behind me from the dishwasher as I stood shaking, tears rolling down my cheeks, trying to breathe. I stood utterly confused, overwhelmed, stuck, disappointed-- feelings that seem far too familiar to me each year around this time. I broke. All the feelings and thoughts I had kept locked up for so long let loose, like water rushing through open gates of a dam. Words that I dared not utter finally left my lips: "I don't know what I'm even doing," I told my mom. I faced the fact that I was not where I wanted or intended to be. Honestly, I have no idea what I'm doing. I hit a wall. I was stuck. Summer has not been as I imagined or hoped, and at times it can be extremely discouraging. Many times, I have been so close to throwing in the towel regarding all things photography. I have been close to deciding that my desires for marriage should be abandoned after finding out that once again, affections I had were not returned and should instead retire to the single, "forever alone" life.

Dare I say that having a flowchart for every detail of my life would make things easier? Trusting and faith...it's not easy, to say the least. But if faith were easy, wouldn't it not be real faith? I find myself stuck in a dark patch, or perhaps lost in the middle of a field of overgrown grass; I cannot see what the future holds and to say that it scares me not would be a lie. All I can do is put everything I cling to (and wrongly so) at the feet of my Father, and instead cling to what stands the test of time: the cross of Jesus. I realize all I can do is that and ask God to change my heart and put Him above all. That he would show me what to do as each day passes and constantly remind me, "Oh child of little faith, why are you afraid?" (Matthew 8:26).

Internal conflict has been deep within my soul..trying to find contentment and joy knowing that I am exactly where I am intended to be. Trying to cherish the present and remember what is to come will come. Trying to remember that I cannot mess up God's plan. Trying to remember that none can love me more than Jesus. Battling my fear of waiting and uncertainty when my mind plays dirty tricks on my heart. I sing and play all the more louder the stanzas by Louisa M. R. Stead in her hymn, "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus" and stanzas of Anne R. Cousin's hymn, "The Sands of Time are Sinking" is that not a gift of grace that I can sing those words with a whole-hearted confidence?

"We trust in what we cannot see," my mom told me. "It's so hard," I whimpered. But that's the beauty of it. Jesus uses every little moment, every stage in life to bring His children closer. I forget that X is only a stage, a stage that takes me further on the journey closer to Christ. That X stage will not last always. That I have hope in the source of my hope: Jesus. That I look not to my hand which clings to Christ, but to Christ himself.

"We will never find happiness by looking at our prayers, or deeds, or our feelings," Spurgeon writes, "It is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul."

I hear the savior say, thy strength indeed is small, child of weakness watch and pray, find in me thine all in all. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control: That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul. With mercy and with judgment my web of time He wove, And aye, the dews of sorrow were lustered with His love; I’ll bless the hand that guided, I’ll bless the heart that planned when throned where glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

When life feels like an unpredictable sea, Jesus remains the anchor to my soul. -Hannah