Dealt Cards

I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in You, O Lord; I said, You are my God. My times are in Your hands.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy and the God of all comfort,  Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God.

Psalm 31:14b-15a & 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 AMPC

 “That’s just the hand I was dealt” says the person that endured a crummy childhood or was born into poverty or family disfunction. Or when life throws a few curve balls such as a spouse walking out or a child rebelling or coping with the pain of infertility or dealing with a prolonged illness. That’s when we would love the chance to say, “Re-deal”, I have a crappy hand!”

Recently, over lunch with a friend, we talked about some of our own “dealt cards” such as childhood trauma, relationship betrayal, death of children, life-threatening illnesses, financial difficulties and some cards that are too sensitive to bring out into the light. On the drive home, after our lunch discussion of dealt cards, I mentally opened my hand, fanning out my life’s cards. I was stunned at the Lord’s perfect wisdom and providence in His dealings (no pun intended) with me. Though I would have passed on several of the cards or traded if I had been given a choice, I clearly see that each has its purpose. Through “the hand I was dealt”, The Lord has provided me a platform authenticated by suffering – to minister to others in a way that would have been impossible without those cards of difficulty.

You see, I can pull out my card of betrayal and share authentically with someone going through divorce or desertion. I can pull out my card of grief at having buried two children as I listen (and hug) the one burying a spouse or child. I can pull from the deck my card of illness after walking through a near-death sudden illness, as I listen to their fears or “what ifs.” The Lord has graciously given me the opportunity to say with authenticity, “I’ve been there, I know what that feels like… and He has faithfully walked me through it… come, let me show you.”

Alright dear one, what cards have you been dealt? Fan out your hand, look clearly at the cards you’re holding and ask yourself…How can I leverage this “card” for His glory and another’s good?

If we are to be good comforters, we must first need comforted.

Anonymous

Precious Lord, God of all comfort – thank You for showing Yourself strong on my behalf as You simultaneously comfort me and enable me to comfort others with the comfort I’ve received from You. I stand amazed at Your faithfulness and goodness toward me! In Jesus’ name, Amen

Written by Becky White for the Lord Jesus

Buckeye Candy

Consider it wholly joyful, my brothers, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various trials and temptations.

Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.

Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you… But rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ…

James 1:2-3   AMPC  and  1 Peter 4:12-13a  NLT, Berean Study Bible

As I read, reread and held to the light the above scriptures, I couldn’t help but think of a Christmas-time routine. Making Buckeye candy is part of my yearly Christmas cookie-making ritual. I Roll the peanut butter, powdered sugar and butter into 1-inch balls and then with a toothpick, very carefully dip it in melted chocolate. Because it’s supposed to look like a real Buckeye, I take extra effort to keep a small part of the peanut butter goodness uncovered. Try as I might, every now and then a rogue ball falls off the toothpick, becoming completely covered in a bath of melted chocolate. Totally enveloped. No spot left untouched by the hot glaze.

In the above verses the Holy Spirit speaks of trials that we encounter and others that literally envelop usLike my rogue Buckeye candy…. there is no spot left untouched by the heat of adversity.

Some challenges we encounter are a steady drip of difficulty that can create cavernous channels of resentment, bitterness, frustration or a sense of hopelessness and despair even as it slowly wears away our inner peace. Enveloping trials hardly need an explanation – you know if you’re in one by the sheer all-encompassing take-your-breath-away magnitude…from the gut-punch pain. Jolted by searing heat of the trial that envelops us.

Nowhere in Scripture are we told to put on a “spiritual mask” and pretend we enjoy pain.  But… we are told to shift our focus and choose to consider, or “count it” as joyful because of what our Father God will accomplish in us and then through us – because of our trials. Instead, we offer an honest prayer of, “Father this hurts like crazy, but I trust You. I don’t understand and I don’t like it.  But because You are entirely faithful and trustworthy….I will count this as “joyful” while You work out Your purposes in me through it. Enable me to walk through this fire.”

“He has trusted you with this difficulty.”

– Jeanne Liston

Father, there is so much pain. So much despair in our world right now. Please envelop Your people with the Peace that only You can provide and enable us to “count it all joy” as we walk through our times of testing and fiery trials. Produce in us the reflection of Your Son.   In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen

Written by Becky White for the Lord Jesus

Insufficient Funds

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day …”

“…to give His life a ransom for many.”

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NASB   Mark 10:45

To my embarrassment, the grocery-bill total was greater than what my wallet contained. Hoping no one noticed the exchange taking place, I quietly pointed out which items to remove from my grocery order, items we could live without until my next paycheck. Though this happened several decades ago (a few times), it’s still recalled with a twinge of embarrassment and shame.

As we near Good Friday, and I think deeply of what Jesus Christ did for me, for you, this decades old grocery exchange came to mind. Having insufficient funds to pay for bread, peanut butter and a few boxes of mac and cheese is nothing compared to being unable to pay the staggering price to redeem our soul. The price so high and the debt so great that  we are left entirely helpless and even worse – hopeless. That is our state.

And yet… And yet God so loved the world (that’s you and I) that He gave His One and only Son, that whosoever believes (trusts) in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.

This giving of His Son for us is not a pretty pastel-colored Spring scene. It is a blood spattered, spit dripping, whiskers pulled, muscles contracting and torn – scene of the great exchange taking place. On that first Good Friday, the only begotten Son of God ransomed me. Ransomed you, with His very life. From the Greek, He literally, paid the slave price for us. He exchanged His righteousness for our sin so that we can stand before God sinless. The debt beyond our ability to pay has been paid for us. We add nothing but a grateful, thankful heart for what He has done.

Back to my grocery dilemma. Suppose a stranger overheard my situation and offered to pay what I could not, but out of compounded embarrassment, I said, “No thank you” or simply ignored the offer. Though the offer was made, it would do me no good if I were unwilling to get over myself and accept the gift. But if I were willing to admit my need and accepted the payment offered to me, I could leave the store with all my groceries, debt free. The choice is mine.

We add nothing but a grateful, thankful heart for what He has done.

Becky White

Unlike my grocery bill which only caused embarrassment, having insufficient funds to pay for our sin debt has eternal consequences. Either we pay the debt ourselves by an eternity separated from Him or we humbly reach out and take the gift of payment graciously offered on our behalf. The choice is ours.

This Good Friday, I pray that He enables each of us to grasp even a thin thread of what He has done, of what He has provided for us through the ransom paid those many years ago. To Him be the glory, great things He has done!

Father, I am speechless at Your mercy and grace toward me. As Your word says, I am privileged to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called me out of darkness into His marvelous light.” In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen

Written by Becky White for the Lord Jesus

Amazing Grace

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:6 NASB

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 

Ephesians 2:8-9  NLT

During a recent and sudden illness, I was confronted with my own utter helplessness. Brought to the end of myself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually… profoundly aware of my own cavernous lack.  It was then that I whispered to the Lord, “I have nothing to offer You, Father…I can barely pray right now…I feel so helpless.”

As the words fell from my lips I could “hear” the Holy Spirit say to my heart, “Daughter, I have never loved you for what you can offer Me. I just love you…”

I was stunned.  Stunned at the reminder of what I had so easily forgotten. Truth that I first came to know 41 years ago when I surrendered my life to Christ and asked Him to be my Lord. The Holy One, the only begotten Son of God paid the penalty I could never pay. The Righteous for the unrighteous. Through this trial, He has kneaded that Truth deeper into my heart …

I add nothing to His amazing grace. And neither do you, dear one.

All He asks of me…and you is that we acknowledge our brokenness apart from Him and by the power of His Holy Spirit, turn from the sin that made our salvation necessary. Even our ability to cry out in desperation is a gift from Him. Such love. Such mercy. Such grace. Face to the floor astounding.

“You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.”

Johnathon Edwards

 As we prepare to celebrate Good Friday (The day Christ was crucified and died) and then Easter (The day He physically rose from the grave) what better time to reflect on what Jesus Christ did for you…for me. While we were still helpless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Join with me as we sit in stunned silence at His mercy.

Father God, my Lord and my Savior,

There are no words to adequately speak of Your mercy and grace for one such as I. You love me when I have nothing to offer You…nothing but my own helplessness and brokenness. I bow before You in adoration for Your goodness toward me. How I love You! In Jesus’ name, Amen

By Becky White for the Lord Jesus

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Peace With God

As We Near Good Friday and Easter…

Though it’s been nearly 18 years, the memory is fresh in my mind. Smugly (though not realizing my own heart of spiritual yucko at the time) I sat back in the theater seat to watch on the big screen the movie The Passion of The Christ, praying those around me would see their need for the Savior. As I type those words, I choke at my own spiritual better-than-you attitude that permeated me.

As I settled into my seat, it was then that I “heard” the Lord speak to my heart… “I don’t want you to think about what I did for them…I want you to think what I have done for you.” So, it was with that unexpected mindset I took in, moment by painful moment, the price my Lord paid for ME. For MY sin.

As the movie came to an end, I sat in stunned silence. Making my way out of the theater, the words of Isaiah the prophet played like a mental loop in my mind…“He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, He bore our shame…” My iniquities. My lying, my lust and my idolatry. My hatred. My shame.

Arriving home, I nearly ran to the kitchen, where I grabbed my Bible that had been lying on the counter and began reading out loud, Isaiah 53. As tears streamed, and in barely a whisper, I choked out the words…Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, O that I could express to You the depth of my gratitude…the gift You bought with Your life’s blood I could never repay…

That prayer became the Easter poem you see below. I pray that you reflect on what Jesus Christ has done for YOU. Whether this is your 1st or 50th Easter as His child…recall again the price He paid, the love He showed and the mercy He has granted. To YOU. To ME. And praise Him!

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus …. O that I could express to You the depth of my gratitude…the gift You bought with Your life’s blood I could never repay…

Becky White

My Jesus

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…

O, that I could express to You the depth of my gratitude. 

The gift You gave bought with Your life’s blood, I could never repay.

Your flesh ripped…

Your face slapped…

Your body pierced…

You willingly suffered such torment,

For me… how can that be?

It was my sin… not Yours,

My guilt and shame… not Yours.

Yet You traded,

Giving me Your righteousness

And taking on Yourself the guilt of my sin.

O, Jesus… Jesus….Jesus

I surrender my life to You as an offering.

A token so small…

For the One Who gave me His all.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,

O, that I could express to You

The depth of my gratitude….

 My Lord, my God and my King….

Written by Becky White for the Lord Jesus

White-Knuckle or Rest?

He leads us beside quiet waters, He restores our soul. Psalm 23:2b, 3a

He who has compassion on them, will lead them and guide them to springs of water. Isaiah 49:10b

My sheep hear my voice and another they will not follow. John 10:27

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29

Each morning, just before I pour coffee into my disposable paper coffee cup, I hold it up to read the note left by my husband. Every day he faithfully leaves a new note of encouragement/tender love/Bible verse. Okay – you may begin the collective awwwwwwws 😊 I know I am blessed.

Recently, the note read, “Good morning beautiful – REST in Jesus.”

Allow me to admit that my first thought was, “What do you mean? I’m resting in Jesus. Can’t you tell how at peace I am??” My husband could clearly see what I was oblivious to.  Rather than resting in Jesus through my present physical crisis, I was white-knuckling my way through. Later, I had a brief phone call from our oldest son, who unknowingly echoed his step-dads words. Once again, the Lord brought to mind the idea of white-knuckling rather than resting.

Feeling driven to do just a bit more rather than listening to the Lord’s still small voice calling me to rest. Rest in the midst of the emotional and physical pain. Rest in the midst of the disappointment (and dare I say, grief?) at the reality of my current challenge. Rest in the knowledge that He holds my life and my future in His hands. And what He does with the life I’ve given Him is His business.

My circumstances haven’t changed but the weight of it has shifted from my shoulders to the Lord’s as I purposefully cast the whole of my care and anxiety onto Him. I am purposefully listening for His voice to lead me and refusing to allow my thoughts to drive me.

Though a personal antidote, I pray the Lord will speak to you through my (embarrassing) honesty. Is there an area of your life that you’re white-knuckling your way through rather than resting in the One who died for you? Rather than allowing Him to lead you beside still waters, are you allowing your thoughts to drive you to emotional/mental/physical exhaustion? It could be a marriage (or lack of one) or a job situation or loneliness or a health crisis or children “in the far country.” Whatever the challenge, it’s His cue to take His yoke and drop our self-made yoke of oppression.

There comes a crisis hour to each of us – when we face either ruin or something higher than we ever dreamed. God knows how to lead us up to this crisis and He knows how to lead us through.

Streams in the Desert 08/20

Father God, Enable us to rest in You. To allow Your Holy Spirit to have His way…As we release the death-grip of our own efforts that drive us to exhaustion. Thank You for your patience Father. You are so good! We love You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Written by Becky White for the Lord Jesus

Even Though…Even If…Even When

He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things? Romans 8:32 AMPC

Even though….

Even if….

Even when….  

Learning to trust God no matter the circumstance, not for a particular outcome but to simply trust Him, no matter the outcome.  He Who gave the life of His Son for us deserves no less.

Over the decades, through my writing I’ve held this topic up to the light, gazing intently at each angle and crevice through the lens of His Word. Almost always utilizing a real-life example the Lord has allowed into my life or a circumstance I’ve witnessed first-hand. As I often say, He is good at providing me with material!

A little over a year ago, I faced a near fatal health emergency. In His faithfulness and flawless timing, the Lord revealed the problem days before it may have cost me my life. He tenderly protected my physical heart as He had cared for and protected my emotional heart over the decades. I am in awe of His goodness toward me and my husband and family.

Yet, in the midst of sharing with others God’s goodness toward me, I felt a twinge as I spoke. What if God had allowed me to die? Would He be any less good? What if the person I’m sharing my good news with has tragically lost someone? Also, I realize there are those who believe that if God were truly good, He would prevent all perceived tragedy from happening in the first place.

As I shared in the opening paragraph, He who gave the life of His Son for me, for you, deserves our trust. Though nearly blasphemous to say, He has earned our trust as a first response. Yes, there are times we do not understand the why of a tragedy or heartache, but when those times occur, we must turn our eyes to Him who loved us so thoroughly and choose to trust. Trust in His goodness. Trust that He is faithful. Trust that He is in complete control. Trust that every tragedy allowed into the life of a follower of Christ is sent/allowed with/for great purpose.

This doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge our pain and heartache and questions. It does mean that with the help of His Holy Spirit, we come full circle – bowing the knee and heart as we acknowledge along with Job, “I’m not God. I’m not even God jr. You know what You’re doing.” (Becky’s paraphrase).

“Unbelief sees God through circumstances – faith puts God between itself and circumstances.”

Unknown

So, whether the Lord has miraculously moved on your behalf or allowed great tragedy (or somewhere in between), join me in worshipping the Lord God and shouting from the rooftops, “I trust You Lord! I trust You.”

Father God, I am in awe of Your goodness and of Your sovereign control over all things. Use all I face to bring You glory and encourage others to trust You no matter the circumstance. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Written by Becky White for the Lord Jesus.

Click to get a FREE pdf of the devotional, Stony Paths

You may also purchase Stony Paths, learning to Trust Him as we walk the Stony Paths of real life, by visiting Lulu Publishing or Amazon.

Family Dinner

Meatballs by Rebecca A.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

 Psalm 23: 5a    Psalm 145:16 NLT

Our monthly family dinner is a time of beautifully controlled chaos. Bursting with good food and loud conversation and chattering grandkids and craziness and drama and laughter and spilled drinks … and family. Talk of the latest ball game or promotions or inevitable life challenges can be heard mingled with the sounds of forks mindlessly hitting the plate to entwine bites of homemade spaghetti and meatballs. Family dinner in all it’s beautiful chaos. We love it.

As I read Psalm 23, I was struck that God prepares a table for us, but unlike the family dinner table, this table is prepared for us in the presence of our enemies. Right there, smack in the middle of enemies, our Lord is able to treat us to a meal. Enabling us to relax and sit at His table that’s overflowing with His peace, His presence, His provision. Not by removing the “enemies” but right there in their presence. In spite of them.

What “enemy” is in your presence today?

What “enemy” is in your presence today?

Grief. Loss. Rejection. Illness. Financial collapse. Fear. Despair. “What if” or “Why” questions… The Lord has prepared a table for you, for me…right there. Right smack in the middle of real-life.

Yet whether or not we sit and enjoy His offerings is our choice. We can be so distracted by the enemy that we miss His table all together. Or perhaps we’re waiting for the enemies of life to go away before sitting down to the table of His peace and presence and provision.

During family dinner, I can easily get so focused on the meal and spills and serving, that I neglect the gift of family right in front of me. As we encounter the enemies of life, we too can become so focused on coping or “doing” that we neglect the table He has prepared for us right there in the middle of our enemies.

Practically speaking, what does “sitting at His table” look like? A simple prayer of “Help” (no need to get theological, just cry out to Him) then opening His Word to read aloud a Psalm (23 or 37 or 46 are great places to begin). Together, let’s stop. Pull out a chair and sit at the table of His presence. Though there’s probably no Italian meatballs on the menu, what our Father God offers is beyond any culinary delight. He opens His hand and offers us His very peace and provision to fully satisfy the longing soul.

I do not shield you from hardship. I give you victory while in the throes of adversity.

– Francis J. Roberts

Father, Thank You for Your provision – for Your table in the very presence of my enemies. Grow in me a depth of faith that is able to relax at Your table regardless of what swirls around.  You are entirely faithful! How I love You! In Jesus’. Amen.

Written by Becky White for the Lord Jesus.

Unknowns of Life…

He knows what is in the darkness…

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path.

Daniel 2:22b NASB   Psalm 142:3a  NASB

The unknown. We all fear it. We avoid situations that cause it. We try to prevent it. But it’s unavoidable isn’t it? We have no idea what the traffic will be on our way home from work let alone the weighty unknowns of life. The unknown factors at work in our world, our country, our health or our families. Will a spouse walk out? Will a pink slip be handed us? Will a terminal diagnosis be given? Try as we might, there is no adequate preparation for the pain and shock of such unknowns. For such times of darkness. Darkness that has the capacity to cause us to feel overwhelmed by the fear of the unknown.

As I pondered the idea of the unknowns of life, my eyes fell on this, circled and highlighted in orange, sentence in my Bible; “He knows what is in the darkness.” Though I don’t recall why I highlighted the verse – at this moment, it jumped off the page at me. His Spirit speaking directly to me. “Becky, I know.” My Father knows what the darkness conceals. He knows my path, He illumines my darkness. He knows. I found genuine comfort embedded in that reminder.

Whatever form of darkness you’re facing today, trust the One who sees into the dark unknown and follow His lead through the murkiness of your circumstance.

Becky White

The unknowns, the around-the-corner issues of life are like a darkness that conceals what we desperately want to know. What’s next on the agenda of life’s challenges? A toddler’s sniffles or a marriage in distress? A cancer diagnosis or a broken-down car? A career move or a sudden death? A child’s rebellion or an out-of-my-comfort-zone season? Whatever the “darkness”, He sees, He is aware.

Whatever form of darkness you’re facing today, trust the One who sees into the dark unknown and follow His lead through the murkiness of your circumstance.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night, “even the darkness is not dark to you the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. Psalm 139:11-12 ESV

“Now, I know in my experience that Jesus’ light is stronger than the biggest darkness.”

Corrie ten Boom

My Father,

Try as I might, I can’t “prepare” for every potential difficulty that may occur (And You know I try!). Grant me the ability to rest in the knowledge that You see into the darkness of my challenges and have already made provision for all that will come my way. You are never caught off guard. Thank You Father!

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Written by Becky White for the Lord Jesus

Strength for the Weary One

Encourage the exhausted, strengthen the weary,

say to those with an anxious heart, “Take courage. Fear not.”

He gives strength to the weary and to him who lacks might (strength), He increases power.

God is our Refuge and Strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Isaiah 35:3-4a   Isaiah 40:29   Psalm 46:1   NASB

It’s been said that most of us can endure just about anything as long as it’s short in duration. As long as we see a glimmer of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. But when the light we hoped for is really an on-coming-train version of a trial or a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me challenge, we fall to our emotional knees. Exhausted and weary. Hoping and praying for a quick ending, we suddenly realize there are no magic wands to wave away real life. Real pain. Real heartache.

If our country’s chasm-deep divide isn’t enough, if a potentially life-threatening viral pandemic isn’t enough and if financial uncertainties aren’t enough to be a recipe for flat-out weariness… throw in regular ‘ol life challenges such as relationship issues, parenting, loss, rejection, death, divorce and loneliness… The almost inevitable result – Weary. Exhausted. No strength.

Recently, I walked through just such a trial with a loved one. A trial that caused my eyes to dart about the tunnel of difficulty for a glimmer of hoped-for light. My tunnel of difficulty didn’t suddenly burst with the light of a miraculous removal of pain. As I emotionally peered into the quiet darkness of difficulty, unsure of what might lay ahead… I could “hear” my Lord’s voice speak…

He gives strength to the weary.

He encourages the exhausted.

He increases power to those who lack might.

Though I much prefer a problem-free life, that’s seldom borne out in our real-world experiences is it? And because that is the case, He lavishes His strength on us and in us. He encourages us from the inside out when there is no good reason to be encouraged, He infuses power into these power-less vessels of ours. He sustains the weary one with His very Presence.

“If it is to be a great miracle, the condition is not difficulty, but impossibility.”

Streams in the Desert

Whether your present trial is an ongoing pebble-in-the-shoe irritation, a soul-deep ache of pain or the death of _______ (You fill in the blank). His grace is sufficient. His strength is perfect. I know…You would rather He remove your pain, remove your trial. He may. But whatever He chooses – trust Him. Whatever it looks like. No matter the whispered lies of the enemy or your own mind that tells you otherwise…Trust the One Who freely gave the life of His Son on your behalf, to hold no good thing back from you.

My Father, How my heart aches at what I see and hear. Please, infuse your mighty strength into me as I speak out loud – You are good, and You are faithful.  I trust You! In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.

Written by Becky White for the Lord Jesus

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