Faith Over Fear, Part 5: The Sacrifice of Patience

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Check out my other fruits of the Holy Spirit posts here: Being filled with the Spirit, love, joy, peace

How does patience counteract fear in our lives? It is an interesting question to ask, and actually very relevant to our current age if you think about it. With all this technology, we have learned to be quickly and easily gratified by one tap of the finger. We rush around trying to earn money to make a living. We rarely have time—or make the time—to just slow down for people.

Fear of lack of time or fear of vulnerability can get us to rush past important things in relationships in order to gratify ourselves, meanwhile dismissing the needs and wishes of another, like their desire to be listened to.

The famous love chapter, in 1 Corinthians 13, describes love right from the beginning as patient (v. 4). Why is patience so important in learning to love others?

Because impatient people show by their behavior that they don’t care about the person in front of them and they want to get on with their lives. Ouch. Haha!

You see, exercising patience reveals the deep value and care God has for people. God slows down for people because He knows that they matter more than “the next thing.” People’s hearts matter to God more than getting things done.

Real success isn’t finishing that work project, it is taking the time to listen to a friend or neighbor pour out their frustration about their finance issue. Real success is choosing to go deeper with a teenager when they say they’re fine but you know they don’t really mean it. Real success is listening to a coworker talk about what they are passionate about even though you don’t totally get why they like sports so much. Real success is intimacy, not efficiency.

(I heard something similar to the last statement one time somewhere, at a conference I think. So I don’t get full credit for it! :P)

Sometimes, though, people aren’t opening up their hearts to you in a heart-to-heart way, but more in a fist-to-fist way. They have no interest in being intimate with you. Your boss yells at you to work faster even though you already are going as fast as you can. Your parent tells you you can’t go out and meet your friends today. Your friend or sibling talks about you behind your back.

Being patient with people who are just flat out behaving badly is pretty hard. While irritation may come easy to many people, the Lord calls us to a different standard. Ephesians 4:1-3 says, “…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Being patient in the face of difficult people is a tremendous task, but one that can be done with the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is a high calling the Lord invites us into, but it is totally possible through Jesus to bear with even the most difficult people in love. To live in constant forgiveness towards others and always desire and aim to have peaceful relationships with others.

Patience counteracts fear because through patience you can choose to care, slow down, and see the value of the person in front of you in spite of all their flaws and in spite of all you have to get done. Choosing to be patient with someone is trusting God’s love reaches to this person so deeply that nothing else matters. It’s refusing the fear that leads to frustration and choosing the love that leads to peace and harmony.

This is what denying ourselves as Christians looks like in everyday life! It’s saying “no” to what we want and saying “yes” to what Jesus wants for that person. And He wants them to know how deeply and truly He cares for them through our living, breathing example.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.'” – Matthew 16:24

Today, Beloved, choose to be patient with a friend, family member, coworker, or someone else you encounter. Ask Jesus for the patience you need to deal with him or her graciously and lovingly. God wants this person to know how loved they are by Him, and rushing past things won’t bring the message across. You are God’s vessel, and He wants to use you to show love that surpasses all fear, a love that chooses patience at the cost of your own preferences and desires. Watch and see how your patience towards someone leads to joy and blessing!

Be blessed today, as you make the sacrifice of patience and choose love over fear in your life!

 

Can You Ever “Take Back” That Thing You Said?

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Have you ever wished you could “take back” something you said or did?

Well, guess what! When you choose to trust in Jesus, in the power of His death and resurrection, God “takes back” everything you ever have done or will do, say or will say, that is displeasing to Him. He is completely 100% pleased with you! While the temporary short-lived consequences may remain, the permanent eternal consequences are completely removed. Now you have fellowship with God now and forever, empowered to live a life pleasing to Him by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Today, please know, whoever you are, whatever you’ve done, and wherever on earth you are (quarantining, perhaps!), you are loved. You are SO loved! You are loved by a God who knows you more than you know yourself. You are loved by a God who always offers you an open invitation to come to Him. Be honest with Him. Be flat-out vulnerable with God! He can handle your brokenness. Only when you give up trying and admit you need Jesus will He be able to restore your life again–or even for the first time!

God already knows, He already cares, and He already is pleading for you to leave your life of sin and come to Him. He will free your soul from every burden, every anxiety, every sin that constrains you if you only hand your life over to Him. Trust Him through Jesus Christ, who has bridged the way for you to come to God!

God loves you, and He offers you freedom from guilt, shame, and fear that you so desperately need through Jesus Christ. It seems too good to be true, but that’s exactly why it’s true! Jesus is the answer. He is what every human soul is longing for. ❤️

I hope these verses encourage you today:

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“In [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” Ephesians 1:7

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

I hope this song encourages you as well. You really are SO loved! God is longing for you to come to Him. ❤

Have you ever experienced the freedom you can have in Christ? Or are you a believer and are struggling right now? If you feel God leading you to, please share how God has freed you or what you are struggling with in the comments! Or have you never experienced Jesus’ freedom and would like to? Comment below, or seek out other Christians you may know! 😃 Find a Bible online or pick up your own if you have one and read it like a child, because child-like faith is what God is looking for. Have a day filled with God’s love, dear friends!

Intimacy with God, part 2: 5 Reasons Why the Connection Might Feel “Off”

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To read “Intimacy with God, part 1: What is Intimacy?” click here.

Do you ever feel “stuck” in your relationship with God? Like there’s a plug in the sink that’s blocking off the connection? Or do you ever feel like you’ve never really felt connected to God in the first place? Whatever the case, there’s just this feeling, you don’t know what it is, but just this feeling of disconnectedness, distance, and lack of love, desire, and joy in relating to God.

Have you ever felt like that?

I know I have.

When I was in my early teens, I yearned for the feeling of being close with God. Somewhere inside me, I knew that’s what I needed, that’s what I wanted, and that’s what I was searching for.

And so I searched. I sought after Him. I prayed. I studied the Bible. But the single most earth-shattering truth that brought me into intimacy with God was simple and it was this: God actually loved me.

When I believed in His love for me, when I really, truly, deep down believed, everything shifted. I didn’t just think He was with me, I was aware that He was with me. I didn’t just know He cared, I lay at His feet and I let Him love me. I didn’t just wonder what He was thinking, I began to hear His own thoughts, spoken to me through the Holy Spirit within me (1 Cor. 2:10).

When I experience God in this way, it means more to me than anything else in the world. And it means more to Him than it could ever mean to us! Drawing close to God pleases Him far more than any of our vain efforts to “impress” Him. Remember the story of Mary and Martha, when Jesus is gently rebuking Martha:

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” – Luke 10:41-42

As I’ve grown closer to God and experienced Him and been aware and in awe of His love for me, it becomes easy to notice whenever I suddenly feel like that connection isn’t fully there anymore.

And I ask God: Why? Why is the connection gone? What happened? I was having such close intimacy with You, and then it just disappeared, God. Why???

As I ponder what is going on that makes me feel off in my walk with the Lord, He has asked me at different moments to consider possible barriers that may be in the way of beautiful intimacy with Him. I detail these barriers below. Search your own heart and ask God to reveal to you what may be making your connection “off” today:

 

1. Sin.

This is the first and foremost thing we need to address if we want to be close to God! Don’t neglect bringing your sin into the Light. In the last post I talked about Psalm 139, how it describes the depths of God’s intimate knowledge about us. Because God knows us so well, ask Him to search your heart for any way you may have offended Him recently by sinning. Sin is rebellion against God, whether it is done purposefully or unknowingly. Any sin can be a blockage in your relationship with God. The Holy Spirit wants us to open our hearts to God’s loving gaze so we can become aware of what sin we need to remove from our lives, by God’s grace.

Side note: If you have never confessed your sins to God before, I encourage you to turn to God and do that right now! Through Jesus Christ you can be freed from sin and brought into a new life with Him (see John 3:16)! Your life will never be the same again!!! (See this post for more details.)

For those of you who have put your trust in Jesus, it is important to note that while you are completely covered in Jesus’ blood and are secure in God’s family, your relationship with your Heavenly Father will still feel distant if you are living in rebellion, unforgiveness, or in compromise, refusing to fully submit to Him. Check out Psalm 139, in verses 23 -24, where David prays humbly to God about his sin, an example for us to follow: “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.”

This is a great prayer to pray if you feel distant from God! As you seek the Father, if He reveals any specific sin in your life, repent and turn to Him quickly, and then open your heart to receive His forgiveness! He SO wants to forgive you! Only when you receive His forgiveness fully will you be empowered from then on to live your life pleasing to Him in this area you have given Him control over.

And He is always, always waiting to forgive you! I know I have often wrongly wondered if God could ever forgive me if I kept messing up again and again. But the truth is: You are never too far from His grace! He is faithful and just in forgiving us, and He is faithful and just in restoring us back to Himself in full union with Him.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sin and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

 

2. Lies.

Are you believing any lies about God? Catch yourself. Think about how you’ve been thinking, Beloved. Have you been degrading yourself, giving over to self-loathing or self-pity? Or have you been overthinking, because you don’t believe God is trustworthy enough to take control of your life? Or have you simply forgotten how much God loves you?

By all means, Beloved, stop believing lies! Don’t forget how wonderful God is. Ask God to show you His truth. Get deep in the Word and remind yourself of His unfailing, steadfast love for you. Discover His strength, His purity, His righteousness, His kindness, and all the goodness that He is.

Get to know God! Often, our wrong thinking is due to our wrong view of God. We think God is too small, or too haughty, or too harsh. These are lies straight from the devil! He is bigger than you can imagine, He is NOT too proud to overlook us, and He is tremendously patient and tender-hearted toward you.

He is not only ALL of these things, but He wants to be intimately involved in your life, no matter how messy it may be! He, after all, is the only One who can heal you, refine you, and shower you with the love you so desperately need. Get to know Jesus, because He is the truth, and the truth is what’s going to set you free!

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

 

3. Lack of Communication

This one just sounds like the #1 rule of relationships, right? Well, as it turns out, you are in a relationship with God, ladies and gentlemen! So, the same rules apply. 😉

Communicate with God how you really feel. All the frustration, worry, anger, pride—lay it all down. Express to God how you’re feeling deep down inside. How you’re struggling. Even though He knows everything about you, He wants you to share these intimate parts with Him so you can have a real relationship with Him! Tell Him your deep desires, your secret fears, your aching hopes, your heavy burdens, and your crazy dreams. He can handle it! And what’s more, He wants to meet the needs of your heart in ways you can’t even fathom! Every need, every burden, every longing, every hurt, every struggle, every pain, every fear, every little bit of unrest, everything—He wants you to lay all of that openly before Him. In your most vulnerable place, He will meet you with tenderness and care for you in the most loving ways. 

Don’t withhold any of your mess from Him! And don’t forget to share with Him all your joys, gratitude, and excitement with Him as well! Either one of these forms of honesty are so sweet to Him, like worship. As soon as you lay before Him how you’re doing, you will feel so free. And you’ll want to do it again and again—at all times, as the below Psalm urges us to do.

Come to God in your totally, completely honest place, and He will be so glad to meet you there. Pour out your heart to Him! Whether it be a disastrous mess or pure bliss, share it with Him, Beloved. He is your safe place. He is the safest place for you to be, whatever happens and wherever you go in life!

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”- Psalm 62:8

 

4. Lack of Surrender.

Are you willing to surrender all to God? This is not a question meant to bring guilt, but conviction. We will never be fully willing to surrender all to God. I have no idea what things I am not obeying God in and trusting God in. We will never achieve perfection in this earthly life, so we will never be completely surrendered to God, in the sense that we will never be fulfilling 100% of what God desires for us all the time, by our own efforts.

Oh… wait. Jesus, again? This is exactly where I’m going! Because you are covered in the blood of Jesus, you are fulfilling 100% of what God desires for you right now. He SO delights in you! He adores you! He finds you altogether beautiful, and He sees no flaw in you (Song of Songs 4:7). And that’s all because you were paid for at a high price, and you are clothed in robes of Jesus’ righteousness. Isn’t that incredible? God is so good!!!

So what do I mean when I challenge you to surrender? If God thinks so well of us, why do we need to do anything He wants us to do? Well, precisely because He thinks so well of us, is why we should be more than willing and happy to do anything He asks of us!

Really! You read that right. Jesus is calling out to you and asking you to let go of the things of this world. He wants you to trust Him. He wants you to believe that He is in complete control of all things and that He is worthy of your everything.

Nothing you surrender to Him truly matters in light of eternity, so you don’t need to be afraid that you will lose anything of ultimate value if you surrender to Him. Choosing Him above all else means you gain everything that truly matters!!!

Jesus is ALL that matters! Because Jesus has offered us the fullest life possible with Him now and forever, everything else we have once treasured so highly in life should not mean so much to us anymore. We should be willing to forsake anything that the Lord asks of us (Luke 9:23).

This does not at all mean we cannot enjoy this life! This means we need to, as Corrie Ten Boom said, “Hold loosely to the things of this life, so that if God requires them of you, it will be easy to let them go.”

And more often than not, there are things in our life which we must quickly rid ourselves of in order to draw near to God. The process may at first be painful, but on the other side there is always freedom!

Ask God to search your heart for what you need to get rid of. Often I find that removing distractions and hindrances leaves so much more space for God and I to have sweet fellowship together! You will be so grateful you did, and most of all, God will feel so pleased with you, Beloved.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” – Hebrews 12:1-2a (boldness added by me)

So ask yourself, honestly, what is distracting you from God today?

 

5. Lack of Desire

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m plagued by flat-out indifference or apathy toward God. This lack of desire and love for God leads straight to complacency if I don’t do anything about it. Don’t let yourself fall into complacency. Let God burn a fire in your soul for Himself alone! He is so abundantly worthy of all our passions and affections!

So, how do we get ourselves out of this rut of apathy?

Well, just because you don’t feel love for Him or feel that He loves you, doesn’t mean that you have absolutely no desire for Him, or that He has no desire for you. Don’t let the devil get you to believe that your feelings determine reality! The truth is, that no matter what happens with your relationship with God, even if you feel completely emotionless toward Him, you can always be sure of one thing: He loves you.

So, in spite of your lack of desire or love for Him, in spite of you becoming apathetic toward Him, in spite of you feeling weary and tired of everything, He wants to be ever so near to you, Beloved. It was never about your love for Him, anyway. It was always about His love for you! Let His love refresh your soul! Your apathy is a sign that you need God more than ever.

Ask God for more of a desire for Him. Ask Him for a greater revelation of His love for you. When I tell you to ask God for things, I’m not at all saying it because its the easy thing to say, I’m saying it because I really mean it! These are things you can ask God for that He is all so willing to give you.

Pray in faith that He longs to give them to you and He will soon do that beautiful work in your life. Jesus isn’t kidding when He says in Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” What a wonderful promise that is!

After you ask God for more desire for Him, soon, sure enough, you will find a greater love for Him in your heart. A greater desire to do His will and walk in obedience to Him. None of these beautiful things we find in our hearts were ever from us, anyway! Faith, love, desire–all come from God! We need to continually ask for more of Himself and continually want more of Himself, or we will slide into apathy and then soon after into complacency.

So, ask Him, Beloved! Seek Him with all your heart. Knock confidently at His door. He is just waiting on the other side to respond.

 

 

In conclusion, sin, lies, lack of communication, lack of surrender, and lack of desire are some possible barriers between yourself in God. Take an honest look at yourself. Let God reveal to you what the issue is for you specifically. It could for sure be a combination of these things, as many of them are interwoven together.

The root of all these problems is simple: a lack of faith. When we don’t trust that God is better than our sin, when we don’t trust Him for who He really is, when we don’t trust that He cares enough to continually hear how we’re doing, when we don’t trust that God is better than any earthly distraction, when we don’t trust that God is  worthy of our pursuit even when we don’t feel like it–when we don’t trust God in any of these ways, there is inevitably a barrier between us and again. Pray in faith, asking for more faith, and choosing to believe God in all of these ways!

Whenever I feel like my connection with God is “off,” I search my heart and He often reveals one or more of these things to me that is a blockage in our relationship. He is so faithful, and He wants us to remove all hindrances so we can have full intimacy with Him!

You may be wondering: But how? How do I have “full intimacy” with God once I remove all these barriers. What in the world does that mean??? That’s what I’ll be covering in my 3rd and final post in this series about “Intimacy with God.” (It will be about abiding in Him.)

Today, pray and seek the Lord about why you feel distant from Him. Ask others to pray for you. I will pray for you as well.

I will pray that you have a wonderfully intimate time spent with the Lord today, free from all barrier and restrictions and overflowing with the Love of God! And as Hosea wooed Gomer the prostitute, I pray you experience God’s love for you in the midst of yourself dishonoring His name, and that you find His grace is sufficient for you now and always.

I hope you truly have a beautiful day! Enjoy the song below as well. ❤

“He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.” – Job 36:16

“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.” – Hosea 14:4

P.S. Originally, I had two title ideas for two separate posts related to intimacy with God: “Let God Break Down Your Defenses,” and “Be Totally and Completely Honest With Him.” I decided to condense those ideas into one uniform idea in this post. And in my next and final post, I will be talking about abiding in the Lord, while including the very important part of wanting Him more than anything (which was previously going to be in a separate post).

The Quiet Heart of A Child

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“My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.” – Psalm 131:1-3

Calm yourselves, overthinkers. Rest, those who are weary. Quiet yourselves, those who feel condemned. There is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). You have absolutely no reason to be condemned, or to be exhausted, or to try to fix all your problems. Do NOT concern yourself with things out of your control!

Humble yourself and relax in the Father’s arms. He is really with you, holding you. Stop striving and struggling to get out of His embrace. His perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).

You are a royal child of the King of Kings—and this is NO exaggeration! Through the shedding of Jesus Christ’s blood, you are saved from eternal condemnation. You have rest in the Father’s love. And you have the quiet assurance that God is in control of your whole life, working everything out for your good, because you love Him.

Do not belittle yourself with the uncertainty of if you love God. You know that He is worth loving. Worth serving. Worth worshipping and praising for all eternity. You know that deep in your heart. This isn’t about feeling love for Him, this is about showing up and trusting. Trust and receive His goodness and mercy. Ask for a changed heart, a quiet heart, a childlike heart. A heart that knows Him and loves Him. That’s all you need.

Put your hope in the Lord, children of God. He is a tender Father, merciful, patient, and forgiving, if we only turn from our sins and come running into His arms. Through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, we have fullness of life.

Relax. Completely relax as if you were a weaned child in her mother’s arms. Take a deep breath. Be certain that your Father will never let you go. You are securely attached to Him. Whatever has been on your mind bears no important in light of eternity. Your life is but a passing vapor, a mist that appears for only a second, and then disappears. He has everything under control. He is taking perfect care of you. 

Your life is meant to be lived in the presence of the Holy One.

So — Live in His presence! Abide. Dwell. Rest. Soak in the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord (Romans 11:33). Through Jesus Christ, you have everything you need, everything your redeemed Spirit-filled heart desires. Just stop paying attention to all those things that fill you with pride, and turn your undivided attention to the One who created your soul. You won’t be left empty! He has the things that have eternal weight and value. Only abiding in the Father’s love, following the good Shepherd, and living by the Spirit will have any lasting importance.

To have intimacy with Christ, is to be completely absorbed in Him. To not want anything besides Him. For Him to truly be your All in All. If you can’t say that about yourself, have no fear. As the man desiring healing for his demon-possessed son exclaimed: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

The Lord will help you if you only ask for help. Trust Him. Seek Him wholeheartedly. Step into the identity He has given you with full assurance that the Holy Spirit will do the rest. Step out in faith, trusting that God knows what He is doing, and He can shine His glory and power through your utter weakness. Dig into the Word; pray your heart out; listen to the voice of God. He is speaking. He answers. He cares.

“Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” – Psalm 116:2

Don’t give up! If there seems to be a void left unfilled, a question unanswered, that is only the testing, the trying. He doesn’t always speak in the ways we expect, but He always speaks.

Have perseverance, be faithful to the One who will always be faithful to you (2 Timothy 2:13). Take heart; He has overcome the world (John 16:33). The only thing left for you to do is to overcome your unbelief. And all that requires is a simple, childlike request for more faith.

Nothing to prove

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It’s hard to get the noise out of my head sometimes. Well, a lot of times.

God asks us to be still but I keep trying to prove myself to Him and to others. I keep trying to be something, but God is everything, and the only thing that is worth boasting about is Him.

It’s remarkable that though we are in fact unworthy of enjoying God’s presence forever, God loved us enough to send Jesus to die for us. We are unworthy of God, but God thought it was worth letting His own Son die in order to change that. In His sight, we are worthy of being in a relationship with Him, because Jesus’ righteousness now covers all who believe in Him.

But the whole idea of “worthiness” should be set aside, because our value isn’t even something to boast about, but to praise God about.

Our value has nothing to do with us. It is only because of Jesus that we are worthy to enter communion with our Heavenly Father. Our identity is in Christ, but it is not our own capabilities that influence that perfect, beautiful identity. It’s all Him.

In other words, we have nothing to prove to God. Nothing at all. And we can actually find peace in that.

We can stand before Him in simple, childlike awe. We don’t have to do anything, and He already loves us. He already loves us!

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 (NIV)

Repent and believe! Settle in your mind that the Lord is taking care of you. Be still.

It’s ok to not think about the details of life. It’s ok not to worry. It’s ok not to be able to smile sometimes. We’re not supposed to have everything figured out or fake anything, but to let God’s Spirit work in us as we humble ourselves before Him. In His timing, we will be exalted.

He is faithful.

He is faithful no matter how small our faith is. He is faithful to liberate us from sin and all that hinders us. He is faithful to work in us to will and to act according to His good purpose. Think of that–we can’t even desire God perfectly on our own, we need to ask Him to change our desires! In the end, the Lord is in complete control, and if we admit to Him that we’re not, He’ll prove to us that He is.

This song “My Heart Burns For You” contains only five repeated words in the lyrics, but it’s pure worship. And what the guy talks about at the beginning really moved me.

“Nothing to gain. Nothing to lose. Nothing to show. Nothing to prove.”

Let these words linger in your mind. Get the noise out of your head and quiet yourself before Him. He sees, knows, and loves you right in this moment.

A Message to The Hurting

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I want to address you, my dearest friends
The ones who hurt in ways beyond what I could ever understand.
You have experienced so much,
Wounds deeper than canyons,
Rejection shattering your trust,
Dreams left to waste.
Dignity stripped away; identity swallowed by shame.
Questions left unanswered.
Hearts that repeatedly break.

I don’t understand it all
And I can’t pretend to,
But I ache with you more than you know.
And there is One who aches for you far more than I do.
Dear friend, you are not alone.

Deep in the night when you cry,
When you stay up with your heart laid bare,
Broken,
Bleeding,
I could never be there for you in that moment;
But there is One who is and always will be
Reaching out to You.
He pleads for you, He beckons you
To come into His open arms.

This isn’t even that great of a poem but I’m just concerned right now with speaking from the depths of my heart.
All I really want is for you to know without a doubt that
He cares.
He cares for you, Beloved.
He cares about you, your pain, and your brokenness beyond your wildest dreams.
He’s an ocean of grace
So don’t be afraid to jump into it.
Receive the embrace He longs to give you.
Receive.
Release.
Rejoice.

He longs to hold you tenderly and sing over you;                                    To heal you completely, to forgive you regardless of this or that, to love you intensely.

My heart goes out to you tonight, whoever you are;
Don’t be ashamed!
God wants you to know you are His Beloved.
Your identity isn’t in what you do, but in His love for you.
Your identity isn’t in what’s been done to you,
But in His love for you.

Never say “but…”
Because He doesn’t see this or that.
He doesn’t see things the way you do.
Because of what Jesus did for you on that cross
Now He covers you.

The Lord
Completely covers you from head to foot with
Purity
Righteousness
Love
Grace
—That’s the bigger picture!

As soon as you realize You need Him
He doesn’t say “Oh, I forgot about you.”
He says, “I got you.”

The bigger picture is that
He loves you anyway.
He loves you.
Anyway.
Regardless.
Even though.
Nevertheless.

God isn’t who you think He is!
He sees that You are hurting.
He knows and sees you.
You don’t have to hide or fake that you’re all right.
He knows you’re not.
But if you release your control
And let Him hold you in His arms,
He promises you that
Everything will be all right.

He’s with you,
Even when you feel too broken to lift your face.
He’s there
Through even the ugliest, messiest moments
Loving you like you’re a beautiful treasure
Worth dying for.

And if this poem that isn’t much of a poem means anything at all to you,
Then when you’re finished with it
Talk to God about it.
About you.
About what’s really going on.

Lay your broken pieces honestly before Him,
And receive His love that
knows you fully
and cares for you
regardless of this or that.
He sees the bigger picture–
He sees you.

My dearest friends, He wants to heal you.
He is no stranger to pain.
He understands you far more than you understand yourself.
Lay it all before Him, and I promise–He will never fail you.

“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 4:15-16 (NIV)

P.S while this poem is addressed to those who hurt in especially deep ways, we all hurt at some level or another. the world is full of hurting no matter where you turn, and we are all desperately in need of healing–whether from sin, shame, guilt, fear, despair, anxiety, depression, or loss of trust. we all need to hear the simple words “I love you” and we all need Jesus to fill in where we are weak. let your pain, your needs, and your hunger be satisfied at the foot of the cross. have a blessed day, friends! ❤

NP10: Chapter 10 of The Healer of Istagun – A King

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This is the tenth and FINAL chapter in my ten-chapter fantasy novella. I hope you enjoy!  Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

My singed feet tingled as Andrea bound them tightly with white clean bandages. Tarquin lay on a pallet right across from me, with Tiana tending to him. My father and Hollis sat unharmed on cushions nearby, waiting patiently for me to heal. Before I was brought here, Hollis had come to me in tears, and we had reunited joyfully. Soon after, I had introduced her to our father.

“How are you feeling?” Andrea asked me, looking steadily into my eyes.

“Cold. Never imagined this was Winter was like.” I clutched the warm blankets that came up to my chin, balling my fists so my fingers wouldn’t go numb.

“It’s better to be cold than on fire.” She smiled ruefully, but then leaned in to whisper in my ear. “You know your sister is crazy.”

I raised a brow, but before I could speak, she continued. “She has just sat there without a word for hours. Are you sure she’s alive?”

It was true. When she’d ran to me, she had barely spoken to me, only embraced me and cried. Even now, she was chillingly silent.

Andrea bit her lip. “I don’t know what’s going on, but it scares me.”

It scared me too. How had Hollis managed to speak so eloquently moments ago to the queen, and now she could not speak more than one word?

My sister came over and sat quietly on a stool beside me. She laid a hand on my arm. “Gesu.”

At her touch, I felt a sudden peace wash over me. Gesu had given her the power to speak to the queen, and now that power was gone from her. She no longer needed it. Somehow the plague and death she had endured had made her almost mute, yet what did I have to complain about? She was alive, and that was all that mattered.

“I still don’t believe it.” Andrea gritted her teeth. “It was only a powerful spell that brought you all back to life, that’s all. Don’t believe in the ridiculous Gesu.” She hugged Hollis gently. “Please just admit it—it was nothing more than a spell.”

Determination filled Hollis’ eyes as she hugged Andrea back and whispered, “No.”

Andrea glanced at me, baffled, but I refused to reflect her confusion. “You must understand, Andrea. Gesu has power beyond Hazina.”

“Speaking of the queen, where is she?” Tarquin sat up, as if hit with sudden inspiration.

“Restoring the world to how it should be,” Andrea said simply.

“No.” Tarquin’s eyes shot across the room at everyone. “We can’t let her. The only way the island can be restored is by her death.”

“But Tarquin,” I said, “she is good now. Her heart has changed.”

“I must,” Tarquin said in a low voice, staring at me intently. “She is the cause of all our pain. I must put an end to her.”

My father stood up. “Young man, don’t even think of it.”

“I must!” he exclaimed.

Gritting his teeth and averting his eyes from us, Tarquin grabbed some crutches Tiana had ready and hobbled out the door with his bandaged feet and a sword in his hand.

“We need to stop him!” I burst out.

But the room was silent. Hazina had saved many of them from death, and she now vowed to set the humans. Could her acts of kindness restore people’s trust in her?

Andrea frowned at me. “This time I agree with that miner boy. Hazina deserves death, Dahlia. You know that.”

“No, Andrea,” I said hoarsely. “You don’t understand. Didn’t you see it in her eyes? The pain, the regret? We have to give her a second chance.”

“Is that what Gesu teaches? Being kind to the most awful people?”

“Yes, Andrea.” My voice was steady. “That’s exactly what he teaches. Forgiveness. Healing. Love. We can’t let Tarquin ruin our chance to show Hazina that Gesu can give her new life, regardless of what she has done in the past.”

As a pinprick of a tear dripped down Hollis’ cheek, she squeezed my hand and smiled sadly.

My father narrowed his eyes. “I’ll stop that boy.”

With that, he dashed out of the room.

I had yet to tell my father that I was in love with that man. I couldn’t deny it any longer. Tarquin was always in my thoughts; he was always strong, always… caring. I trusted him, for the most part. But what was I supposed to think of him now?

 

Someone knocked at the door. Tiana opened it, cautiously. To my astonishment, Kari dragged in Prima who lay on a sled.

I gaped. She lay there, pale, with broken wings, her eyelids closed and the Winter frost encasing her.

The boy ran up to me and hugged me. “I brought Prima back!” he said proudly. “It took me ages to drag her here. I had to borrow the sled from a white-haired person. I didn’t know people had white hair! Maybe the snow makes it like that. Anyway, I brought her here, and she’ll get warmed up and be okay soon, right?”

His innocence broke my heart. I wished I had thought to find Prima before Andrea, Tiana, and my father took Tarquin and me here. I stared pleadingly at Tiana as she examined Prima.

The old woman spoke in a low voice. “She is still alive, but she needs serious attention.”

She laid Prima out on the bed Tarquin had recently left, wrapping her delicate body in cloth.

“She will be okay?” I whispered.

Tiana nodded. “Though she looks very frail, she is a fairy; the magic makes her stronger and able to endure more than humans.”

“You should be a doctor,” I said with a half smile.

Tiana chuckled. “I’ve always wanted to, but never was able to, being a human and all. Perhaps now I’ll have that chance, without any mandatory duties to attend to.”

She had a chance… because of Hazina’s changed heart. Determination to stop Tarquin returned to me. I grabbed the crutches that awaited me on the side of the bed and began hobbling out of the room. “I can’t let Tarquin do this—”

“Wait.” It was Hollis’ soft voice. Her blue eyes sparkled as she held out a necklace with a small cherry pit on it. I had made it for her long ago in Spring. On the pit I had carved the letters “D & H.” Smiling, I put it around my neck.

“Forever,” Hollis said.

Andrea was glaring at me from across the room. She did not believe in Gesu’s power. She hated Hazina. I hoped her fierce opinions wouldn’t destroy our friendship.

I placed my hand over the cherry pit, over my heart, gazing into my dear sister’s eyes. “Yes, Hollis. Forever.”

Then I picked myself up with the crutches and hobbled out of the room.

 

When I reached the shore, I stopped in my tracks. There, a good distance away, Tarquin stood, raising his sword above the queen, ready to strike her.

Desperation gripped me as I rushed forward, crying, “Stop!”

But it was too late.

As Tarquin stabbed her in the chest, she shrieked, a hollow deathly wail into the frosty air.

The world became black in instant. Gesu had forgiven the evil fairy, but Tarquin had not forgiven her.

To my amazement, light flashed, and suddenly the snow melted beneath my feet.

Warmth surrounded me, as I stepped forward, my feet crunching the leaves. Sunlight exuded over the mountain that rose from the center of Istagun. The mud walls collapsed before our eyes. Winter was no longer Winter… it was Summer. Everywhere, it was Summer. Snow melted off the pine trees and the green of the world glowed brilliantly for all to see.

People shed their heavy coats and danced around in the grassy field.

Hazina lay on the earth, and many fairies began to prepare to take her to Midfuna Island.

But other fairies and humans cheered, “Long live King Tarquin! Long live the King!”

They placed a crown upon his head, as thousands gathered around him and applauded for the one who had saved them from Queen Hazina. No one remembered her change of heart, that she had saved many of our lives and resolved to put an end to her evil ways.

Tarquin said in a loud voice, “This is a new kingdom, ruled under the guidance of the great healer, Gesu! The pattern of this world has returned; this summer will turn to autumn, which will turn to winter, and then to spring. It is a beautiful pattern of life and death, pain and healing, youth and old age. We all will enjoy this life together—with mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, living with one another at last, enjoying the fruits of their labor.”

And everyone cheered all the louder.

I only watched in silence, in bewilderment. He never saw me among the many humans, fairies, and joyful Treelanders whom Hazina had freed from the mind-bending spell.

Sadness crept into me, overwhelming me. The queen could have been good, if she’d been given a chance. Tarquin didn’t understand, he didn’t—

How could I trust him?

“And my dear Treelanders,” he declared, “I will return you soon to your home across the seas.”

The people applauded.

As Tarquin sat on a makeshift throne the Treelanders had quickly created from wood and leaves, my father leaned in and spoke with him. Tarquin shot words back at him, angrily.

As they argued back and forth, I hobbled around to the back of the throne, to listen to them without them noticing.

“You’re a fool, boy. Can’t you see when a person’s decided to change? My daughters were so hopeful in Hazina’s new beginning.”

“You don’t know who your daughters are,” Tarquin replied. “You only met them today! Dahlia is strong, and she understands that it is my destiny to be King. It is the will of Gesu.”

My father lowered his voice. “You know my daughter, eh?”

“Yes,” Tarquin said earnestly, his eyes lighting up as he spoke. “And she is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met. I plan to marry her one day, if you ever concede to it.”

My father raised a brow. “I will never let her marry a man like you! For all we know, Hazina would have allowed you to take the throne, knowing the people would put much more trust in a human than the fairy who had so long oppressed them. You had no right to kill her!”

I was shaken, unable to move from that spot, burdened with thoughts running back and forth through my mind. Who was Tarquin, anyway? Did I truly know him?

I felt a hand on my shoulder, and turned, gasping. Hollis smiled. “Remember when you came to Winter and found Tarquin holding me in his arms?”

I rolled my eyes. “Hollis, I can’t think of that right now. He… he killed Hazina.” I pointed to the dead fairy as she was laid on a mat and taken in a slow procession to a boat.

“He tried to keep me alive for as long as he could.” Hollis’ voice was so faint, like the soft drop of snow on one’s cheek.

I didn’t look at her. “Our father hates him, so I will too.”

Hollis’ blue eyes filled with tears. “You know what he told me, Dahlia? You know what he said to me as I lay in his arms, hopeless and frozen?”

I shrugged and looked away, not wanting to think of the man who had brutally murdered a fairy who had changed her heart.

“He said to me, ‘You know, Hollis? Gesu may have told me Dahlia needed me, but I think it’s also true that I need her.’ Don’t you see, Dahlia? Tarquin isn’t perfect. He isn’t, but…”

But he held my little sister in his arms to keep her warm, he built a boat to sail across the sea, he helped me find Hollis, he convinced me that Gesu was real, he showed a love that surpassed anything I’d ever known before.

Was he worthy for me to marry him, now that children could stay with their parents, and all was as it should be?

I didn’t know. Maybe one day I would know. What mattered now, was that he was the king, determined to rule under Gesu’s guidance and with his power, to bring justice and kindness to a broken nation. And I was determined to help him.

“Dahlia?” Tarquin stepped down from his throne and hobbled over to me on his crutches, his gentleness warming my heart as it so often had. “Are you all right?” He held my hands, gazing sincerely into my eyes.

I nodded vaguely, overcome with emotions swirling inside me.

“Will you sail with me across the sea?”

I sighed. “All right—anything to get the Treelanders back to where they belong.”

“That boat of mine has come to some use, I guess.” He laughed, a deep barrel of a laugh that resonated in my soul.

A smile tugged at my lips. “Long live the king.”

He chuckled, wrapping an arm around me. “And maybe some day I can say to you, ‘Long live the queen’?”

I rolled my eyes, but I was relieved that he understood I was not ready for his proposal.

We would set the Treelanders free at long last. And no matter what happened, Gesu would always be with us. For whatever the season, night always came, with the stars shining brightly, declaring Gesu’s love amidst the blackest points in my life.

The Gospel, The Light: 6 Things God Has Done For Humanity

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(Photo by Samantha Lynch on Unsplash)

I blind myself to the truth, do you? Am I the only one who runs from the Light, preferring the safety of darkness? 

When the Light pierces through the darkness, it hurts. It hurts when I see I’ve been trying to fill the void inside me with my passions, dreams, ego, or self-pity. It hurts to see that me, you, and the whole human race sin every day without realizing it.

Or maybe we do realize our weakness, but we’re too afraid to do anything about it.

Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the Lord,
who do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?” – Isaiah 29:15

Without this Light, I feel so empty. I’m in constant pain, letting insecurity rule and darkness overshadow any good that’s left in me.

I’m blind to my own weakness.

Why are we like this? It’s my fault. It’s yours. It’s Adam and Eve’s fault for eating that fruit in the garden. Their sin began a chain reaction that spread to every generation of humans who have lived since.

Doubts come: Come on, I’m good enough. God wouldn’t send a nice person like me to hell. I’ve done enough good things to outweigh the bad.

But God doesn’t weigh the good versus the bad; no, He measures us up to a stick, and we have to reach the top to enter heaven—He requires us to be 100 % perfect.

And we’re not.

And God is truly sad about that: “[God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)

So, how did God provide a way for us to escape hell and to enter His heavenly presence, now and forever?

1. He sent a perfect man.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to live on this earth perfectly following God’s laws, like no human ever had before. He was the one person in history’s existence who actually deserved heaven.

Only God is 100% perfect all the time. And that’s exactly who Jesus was, and still is to this very day.

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” – Hebrews 1:3

Jesus is the one perfect Light, the one true fulfiller of our souls. He spoke out against lies and injustice; He uplifted the outsiders in society. He was filled with deep compassion for people, healing the sick and preaching about the Kingdom of God, a place where hearts are free, a place their souls had been longing to hear about.

2. He sacrificed this man, His Only Son, for us.

What’s terribly ironic, is that the One person who deserved heaven went to hell in place of everyone else who deserved hell. Jesus was nailed to a cross to purify us from our sins, dying in our place so we wouldn’t have to eternally bleed.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” – John 3:16-21

3. He, in the form of a man, came back to life.

But it doesn’t end at the cross. Three days later, Jesus Christ rose from the tomb, alive and well, and witnessed by hundreds of astonished people. He went up to heaven where He now sits at the right hand of the throne of God.

4. He saves us not by any goodness in ourselves, but by His amazing grace.

This is the most crucial point I have, even though it’s number four (number 4 is a good number, right? ;)) So pay attention here.

The thing is, Jesus did NOT die so we would follow rules, He died so we would place our faith in Him and come to know Him. It is only by faith in Christ that we are saved.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

Christianity is NOT a religion. It is a beautiful, everlasting, soul-fulfilling relationship with Jesus Christ.

5. He shines His Light into our everyday lives.

Today, in the 21st century, Jesus offers this hope as we battle against anxiety, depression, temptations, grief, and feelings of emptiness: He is the Light.

Let those words sink in for a minute.

After Jesus left this earth, His Holy Spirit came to convict this world of sin.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

Wow! What an amazing truth that is. Throughout our Christian lives, we must bring our dark deeds into God’s glorious light, so that He may completely and totally outshine this darkness within us. His forgiveness is real, and He is waiting for you to simply cry out to Him with a repentant heart.

Once we believe in Jesus’ power to overcome death and sin on the cross, the Holy Spirit illuminates through our pitch black souls and guides us into more and more victories over our sin and failures, and more and more into the love and peace of walking in His ways.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” – John 14:16

6. He fills us with joy—now and forever.

With God’s Light inside of me, I’ve found the absolute freedom of His grace. I am no longer empty. I am truly, definitely, totally forgiven, as far as the east is from the west. When I place my surrendered trust in Jesus, my heart bursts with this Light.

As Christians, we face hardship. But through it all, our joy is made complete through Christ.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” – Psalm 16:11

I am free.

I am not floundering in darkness, but I am running out into the open arms of my Father, whose eyes ignite with unspeakable joy when He sees me. Without Jesus, I don’t know where I’d be. I don’t know how I’d bear the fires of this raw, miserable life.

But with Him, the sword of truth has attacked my old self. Now I am new like a polished ring, waiting like a Bride for her Groom, until the day He returns.

Please, when He comes back, don’t let it be your first time to bow.

“[Jesus], being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:6-11

(All Scripture taken from NIV.)

 

Ripples of Life

Water—
awake, alive
Tremulous, shining like the sun.

Vast—
Empty, yet full
Breathing, living redemption.

A lake that blazes;
Hopeful, joyful, beckoning
You to drink
Or to swim
Or to wade.

Freedom—
Broken, soaking the dryness,
Floating—everything;
Everything floating.

Unending grace,
A face of opportunity,
Little waves—changing, yet unchanging,
Always the same.

Ripples of life—
Stillness,
The quiet energy of water
Saving and saving,
The openness of mercy;
Don’t wait.

The lake calls out—
Raging, breaking silence,
Peace and wholeness
Washing over the stains
Of your iron shards of hate.

The lake awaits;
A shimmering dance—an endless expanse
Don’t wait—
It’s your last chance.

Jesus, the Ark

Sometimes when I study the Old Testament, I’ll ask myself, “What does Jesus have to do with this?” Whenever I do that, the Bible stories can suddenly relate to my own life more directly.

I realized today that the well-known story of Noah and the ark also reveals the truth and redeeming power of Jesus. The fact that Noah built the ark is a testament to his faith—a faith that trusted in a God that does the impossible.

“It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

 

Without Noah’s faith, God would not have saved Noah’s life and the lives of his family. Without our faith in Jesus, God will not save our lives.

Faith—the key. Jesus—the keyhole. We need both to unlock the door that leads to God’s presence, His love, and His will that sets our lives into a place of eternal security.

Noah worked on the ark for many long, laborious years, believing a flood would come when everyone around him mocked him for it. Are we willing to spend our lives doing God’s will despite what others may think of us?

I know it’s impossible for me to please Him. I can’t do anything beautiful or perfect when inside I’m weak. I’m sinful. The only way we can accomplish anything worthy of praise is by trusting in the power of the One who is above all praise. He is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, Jesus, who is mighty to rescue us from the great floods of bitterness and pride we’ve poured into our lives. Without His death on the cross, our selfishness would cling to us like dirty rags. Without His life we would live in ignorance or misery, and either way we’d end up eternally condemned. But thanks to God, with Jesus’ death on the cross we can put to death our selfish desires! With His resurrection we can truly live free in the knowledge that the God of the universe cleanses us from every ugly thing we’ve said or done or thought.

God loves us beyond measure and offers us true forgiveness through Christ. True peace. Hope—forever and ever.

Jesus is the ark, who protects us from the waves and holds us above the deep waters. Too many people refuse to get in the ark because they don’t believe the flood of God’s wrath could ever destroy them, or they don’t believe the ark is mighty enough to keep them safe. On the other side, too many people actually do step into the ark, only later to jump back in the water, preferring to hitch a ride on a whale instead. But the whale doesn’t care about you and will only swim deep in the water to drown you.

Inside the ark you can still feel the rage of the sea about you. It’s not because of God’s wrath that you are beaten, yet not destroyed. You are beaten because of the sin of the people around you, who are drowning every day. Yet you are not destroyed because the ark keeps you eternally safe.

The old story of Noah has everything to do with Jesus. Without the faith to step into the ark, you’ll end up drowning. But if you take that leap of faith into the ark, one day the waters will recede, and you’ll hit dry ground again.