It is amazing how much God loves us and nourishes our growth each and every day. God formed us “in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). While some good works start outwardly and have an impact on the heart, others begin with heart change reflected in our actions.
God has called me to be more patient. For some people this may not take a lot of work, but that certainly doesn’t describe me, and never really has. The more quiet time I spend with God, the more confident I am that God wants me to focus on enhancing the fruit of the spirit in my life that is most challenging: patience (Galatians 5:22-23).
This morning God challenged me to grow by extending grace to a stranger. I was strolling along down the dairy aisle when a woman in front of me made a sudden, wide U-turn, forcing me to cling to the rack of shredded cheese for dear life. Moments later we encountered one another in the 10 items or less self-checkout lane. As I quickly scanned my three produce items, I could hear her behind me sighing and saying some pretty hurtful things about me. Satan was on my left shoulder telling me to be offended and urging me to confront her in anger.
Instead, I chose to focus my thoughts on Jesus. He challenged me not to judge others because others can’t see God in my actions when I act impatiently. I was convicted to pray, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139: 23-24). So I scanned quickly, smiled, and wished her a good day.
When we set our eyes on Jesus, we can find the strength to extend patience and gentleness to others under any circumstance. Although a smile in the checkout lane is a small thing, it was given with the patient intention to “comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God”
(2 Corinthians 1:4).
We live by God’s grace each day, and by extending grace towards others, we can do a good work in the lives of others as well as our own hearts.
What situations tempt me to be impatient?
How can I better please God in situations when I choose not to judge others?
What opportunities do I have to pray for others each day?
Father, thank you for always being patient with me, especially when I make mistakes. Thank you for not throwing my mistakes in my face or creating obstacles for me because of them, but welcoming me into your comforting, loving arms so that I might learn. Help me to be more patient with myself, others and my surroundings each and every day so that I may nurture the fruits of the spirit and become closer to you. Help me to be a more godly woman so that others can see your great works and love in my actions. Thank you God for loving me. I love you and worship only you. Amen.
Mary Parker is an Air Force wife who works as a public relations writer. A South Carolina girl at heart, she and her husband have recently relocated to Fairbanks, Alaska. Mary spends her spare time honing exercise and cooking skills, and is a self-proclaimed DIY addict. You can read about how faith and hope shape military family life, and check out Mary's latest projects on her blog, Mary's Mischief.
Laura is a Christ-follower, Navy wife, mother to one toddler, writer, and coffee drinker. She writes about Faith, Military Life, and Motherhood at Embracing This Life.
I have a confession to make. Seven years and four deployments into this Army life, I still wrestle with fear. We all do. I tell my fellow Army wives that battling fear is a daily struggle. There is no magic pill, special prayer, specific activity, or pithy quote that instantly unfreezes you. That keeps you calm when he hasn’t called and he's on a mission and you are spiraling into crazy, imagining all that's gone wrong. You fight every day and towards the end, you sleep a little easier, you breathe more. You surrender every day to a loving, merciful Savior with a Master Plan and irresistible Grace.
But fear still lurks.
What fears have taken root in my heart recently?
What steps do I need to take to surrender those fears to God?
What other things do I try to lean on- instead of God- when I am afraid? How can I make an effort to trust Him above all else?
Lord Jesus, thank You for your unending love and grace. I'm so thankful for the hope I have in knowing You- that You will never leave me, that You have control over all that goes on around me, and that You are for me. Help me to trust You and believe truth about You, even when fear surrounds me. Give me the strength to trust You in all things. Amen.
Molly Huggins (www.allthegracebetween.com) is an Army bride, one-time helicopter pilot, compulsive writer, friend seeker, and lover of color and all things textile. Her current occupation is ringmaster of the Huggins family circus (party of five). She has a B.A. in English from Covenant College and a passion for
meeting other women right in the middle of their own messy stories. Pull up a chair at her virtual beat-up kitchen table, listen to her stories, and maybe even tell her yours.
1 Timothy 1:12 "That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day."
What storms in my life are causing me panic and fear?
Am I trusting God to carry me through these storms?
What fears do I need to surrender to Him?
Where can I see God’s hand in these storms and thank Him for it, even now?
Father God, You are my strong tower, my refuge. Thank You for carrying me through so many storms. Even when storms rise up on every side, I know that my salvation lies in You, and it cannot be shaken! Help me to trust in Your strength, and surrender my fears to You in this season. I believe that You are strong enough to carry me through this. Give me the strength to endure hardship and heartache for Your Name’s sake. Amen.
“Too much to do.” How many times have you heard that internal voice repeat itself in anxiety and guilt on any given day? Yesterday I found myself sitting in an urgent care waiting room for nearly four hours, frantically wanting to be at home. Even though I knew I was where I needed to be, I rebelled against the way the day led me and tried to hold onto my plans in anger and resentment.
My husband and I survived, even though not every task on my itemized list was checked off. We didn’t eat a meal made from scratch. I didn’t make it to the gym (I’m sure you can tell how that broke my heart). Work took a backseat, and the infernal baseboard dusting was ignored yet again. But we lived, and if only I had surrendered to God’s plan for my day sooner instead of the vision that I stubbornly stuck to despite all the arrows pointing me in another direction, I could have been more obedient and enjoyed the gift of every moment, rather than grumbling and letting time slip ungratefully through my hands.
Letting go of the illusion of control over our lives is tough. In the military we are reminded incessantly that we don’t have control – over where we live, our husbands’ work hours, how long we can be employed or keep our kids in the same school. But we can take comfort that God has control. He has a plan that is always greater and better for us than the ones we devise.
As we try to make plans for our day or our future, we have to remember this truth:
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
We have to ask God to show us His will in every day, and we must be aware enough of His loving, gentle presence to recognize it and be obedient.
It is incredibly comforting to remember that as we go through this process of surrendering to God’s plans, we are never alone, regardless of what the enemy tells us (Hebrews 13:5). Not only has God promised us that we will never be alone, but He also tells us that He is working for the good of those who love Him (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28). God knows our plans are inferior and tentative, compared to His eternal and glorious blueprints. By trusting in God and His plans completely, we can throw off the shackles of anxiety and rejoice in each moment God has provided. We can look toward the future with hope, a gift we could never provide for ourselves.
What areas of my life am I struggling to surrender to God’s control?
What fears do I have about giving my plans over to God?
Am I choosing to live today in obedience and joy, or am I acting in resentment?
Father, thank You for the gift of today. I know that You are working for my good and Your glory. I praise You for Your sovereignty, for always being in control. Thank You for Your awesome plans that are so much better than mine could ever be. Help me to trust You today. Give me eyes to see Your plan, and a humble heart to submit to it throughout the day so that I can live joyfully in each moment. I choose to lay my plans down at Your feet, accepting whatever You have prepared for me today. Amen.
Mary Parker is an Air Force wife who works as a public relations writer. A South Carolina girl at heart, she and her husband have recently relocated to Fairbanks, Alaska. Mary spends her spare time honing exercise and cooking skills, and is a self-proclaimed DIY addict. You can read about how faith and hope shape military family life, and check out Mary's latest projects, at her blog, Mary's Mischief.