My Dream Singleness: An Anthem for Unmarried Women

This.  You should read it.

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/my-dream-singleness

Advertisements

A Psalm for the New Year

The Psalm I read this morning is the shortest Psalm I remember.

Psalm 117

Praise the Lord all nations!
Extol Him, all peoples!
For great is His steadfast love towards us
and the faithfulness of the Lord
endures forever,
Praise the Lord!

How appropriate for the first day of a New Year. His steadfast love and His faithfulness will carry us through whatever this new year brings – good, bad, or otherwise.

How wonderful to belong to the One who is Sovereign, the One whose Plan and Purpose will stand and cannot be thwarted (Isaiah 46:8-11). The year may not go the way I want it to, but it will go the way He wants it to, and that will be better in the long run.

“Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” Job 13:15

©Rebecca A Givens, January 1, 2017

Pick a Plan for the New Year

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions, but I have always liked starting a new year. A new year, a new month, a new week… even a new day has always inspired me. I am not bound by what is past; there is always a chance for a new beginning. Every sunrise is a reminder that yesterday is past and I must not let the weight of what did or did not happen yesterday drag me down today. Every day God’s mercies are new, and I rejoice in that. Who knows what might happen today? Who knows what might happen in 2017? I don’t. But the awesome thing is that God does. God has a Plan, and He will accomplish His Purpose. Because I am His child, His Plan will be for my ultimate good… even if it hurts terribly right now. The question becomes, will I trust Him? Will I trust His Plan for 2017? Lord, I trust You, help me in my distrust.

All of that was not what I sat down to write. But there it is, and I will leave it.

What I sat down to write was about Bible reading plans. I love plans and planners of all sorts, and there are some good ones out there. The most important thing is to pick a plan that will work for you, in whatever season of life you are in. Do not be unrealistic in your plan! The important thing is to start reading and to stay in the Word.

Last year (I think) I started a read through the Bible in 2 (or 3) years plan. I picked it knowing I would not be able to manage it in the time allotted, but I liked the way it was laid out and decided to just mark chapters off as I read them. I have done pretty well, and am only a few months behind the scheduled date. What I have loved about this plan is that each day it has you read a few chapters in order, and then a Psalm or a Proverb. This has kept me in those books all year, and Psalms are definitely my sanity.

Last week I found a very pretty printable chart of all the chapters of the Bible. My plan is to continue the basic idea of last year’s plan, reading 2 chapters through the Bible on most days and reading a Psalm or Proverb each day, checking it off on this chart as I go. On early work days I might only manage 1 chapter or 1 Psalm. Other days I can do a lot more. The plan allows me the flexibility to do something different each day or each week, but encourages me to at least do something to progress each day.

If you are up to a challenge that will push you, pick a plan that requires that. There are several to choose from on Ligonier’s website. Several years ago I read through the Bible chronologically in a year. I won’t lie, it was a challenge. I forced myself to read 5 or more chapters each day, not allowing myself to stop and ponder single verses, which is my natural bent. In the end I had this wonderful sweeping overview of Scripture. I can hardly wait to be able to do that again, and I have this idea of designing a chronological Bible reading chart… but it is not going to happen while I am in grad school! So I will plod along at whatever pace each day allows, and keep myself in the Word. I wise man once told me, “Stay in the Word,” and that is the best advice for any difficulty you are going through, even if your difficulty is an overloaded schedule. As a believer, staying in the Word is your lifeline to God. Do not let your overloaded schedule, or anything else, take that from you.

Pick a plan, and stay in the Word!

 

©Rebecca A Givens, December 31, 2016

If…

This is the end of the lovely little book If… by Amy Carmichael.  She beautifully sums up the lessons God has been teaching me for the last 15 years.

Let us end on a very simple note: Let us listen to simple words; our Lord speaks simply: “Trust Me, My child,” He says.  “Trust Me with a humbler heart and a fuller abandon to My will than ever thou didst before.  Trust Me to pour My love through thee, as minute succeeds minute.  And if thou shouldst be conscious of anything hindering the flow, do not hurt My love by going away from Me in discouragement, for nothing can hurt love so much as that.  Draw all the closer to Me; come, flee unto Me to hide thee, even from thyself.  Tell me about the trouble.  Trust Me to turn My hand upon thee and thoroughly to remove the boulder that has choked thy riverbed, and take away all the sand that has silted up the channel.  I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.  I will perfect that which concerneth thee.  Fear thou not, O child of My love; fear not.”

And now, to gather all in one page:

Beloved, let us love.

Lord, what is love?

Love is that which inspired My life, and led Me to My cross, and held Me on My cross.  Love is that which will make it thy joy to lay down thy life for thy brethren.

Lord, evermore give me this love.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after love, for they shall be filled.

Amen, Lord Jesus.

if… by Amy Carmichael

if I ask to be delivered from a trial rather than for deliverance out of it,

to the praise of His glory;

if I forget that the way of the cross leads to the cross

and not to a bank of flowers;

If I regulate my life on these lines,

or even unconsciously my thinking,

so that I am surprised when the way is rough and think it strange,

though the word is,

“Think it not strange,”

“Count it all joy,”

then I know nothing of Calvary love.

Amy Carmichael, if

This Path, His Purpose

Facebook keeps popping up my posts from years past. The ones that hit me are the ones from two years ago. I look at those and realize I am in a completely different world now. My life as a whole has certainly not been easy, but these last two years have been some of the most difficult years.   They have also been some of the best.

Two years ago, on September 1, 2014, Labor Day, four days before my 27th wedding anniversary, my husband left. That day, and the weeks that followed, my world was turned upside down. The past was tainted, the present was traumatized, and the future no longer existed. This was the event I thought would never happen. As rocky as our marriage had become, I thought we were both committed to no divorce… I thought wrong. In the weeks and months that followed, God was faithful. He provided money where none should have existed. He dropped a part time job in my lap, not just any job, but one that I loved, and would lead me directly to my future career. He provided a wonderful lawyer. My family supported me. My karate students and my friends supported me.   My church family supported me. My biggest fear had been my church’s reaction… I’ve known quite a few women going through a divorce that were abandoned by their church, or even worse, given very bad council. In spite of what many churches teach (and what my fears told me), divorce is not the worst sin ever… in fact this divorce wasn’t my sin at all. I am certainly not saying I was a perfect sinless wife, and I freely admit that I shared in the breakdown of our marriage; but I tried to fix it too. The divorce was not my sin.

So in spite of doing all the right things to the best of my ability, focusing on my family, being active in church and missions, and homeschooling, my marriage came apart.

These last two years, and my life today, were not my plan. It was not something I had ever considered. It was devastating. But in that devastation, God was rebuilding a whole new life for me. A new life that has brought me great happiness, and more importantly, joy and peace. I cannot explain it, except to say that God blessed me beyond belief with Himself, with His Word, with His Church, even with the world around me. In taking my marriage, God gave me even more of Himself.

I believe in the Sovereignty of God… that He has a plan that even includes the bad things in this life, because He is all powerful and nothing can stop His Sovereign Plan. In those devastating moments in life, He grieves with me, He counts my tears, He comforts me… but He also has a much bigger plan that will use that devastation for my good. Rarely can the good be seen in that moment of pain, but my life today is proof that it exists.

In the most difficult times of my life, God taught me things I could not have known otherwise. He has shown me His faithfulness in very hard places. I trust Him more today than I ever have before. He has shown me how to find joy in every day, how to thank Him even in the midst of tears. And how to hope for a future in Him, even if it is not the future I envisioned.

I am now half way through a graduate program in Library studies. I have loved school and homework more than I could have imagined. God has given me jobs and experiences to support my studies, and I am actively pursuing a job in a seminary library. The future is uncertain, but I know where I am supposed to aim. I trust that God will open the right doors at the right time. Two years ago I had no future, no direction. Now I have a clear picture and a goal. But even more than that, if God changes my direction, I trust Him. He is the source of my joy, not a future job. God did not save my marriage, but He saved me, He protected me, and He taught me to trust Him for the future. And I thank Him for it.

When I am struggling with the Sovereignty of God in the midst of bad things, I remember this:

  • God is not happy when I suffer. He weeps with me, He comforts me.
  • But He is happy when I obey in the midst of my suffering, and when I cling to Him in my grief and pain.
  • That brings Him glory, and makes me more like Christ. Christ suffered, not just because of the ones who put Him on the cross, but to pay the price for our sin, yours and mine. He suffered, and was obedient, and clung to God in His grief.
  • I tend to suffer in anger… forgive me Lord.

Proverbs 16:9    The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Romans 8 – Just read the entire chapter. I was going to quote 8:28, but I can’t just read that verse without the rest of the chapter.

Psalm 138:7-8

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
You preserve my life;
You stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and Your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me;
Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of Your hands.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.

Amen.

©Rebecca A. Givens, 8/21/16