God Seems Distant: Fact or Feeling?

Loneliness…

It’s not something I usually struggle with. I live with my large, loving family. I have friends that I see at school and church. 

Then quarantine happened. I was still with my family, and we had precious moments together. However, when I couldn’t leave my house, I felt secluded and tired. I felt alone in a weird sort of way. Because technically, I was not. I had people around me all day. 

But I lacked all the other relationships in my life. I lacked my church family. I lacked my friends, whether it be at school, in my neighborhood, or somewhere else. 

The biggest problem that came along with this feeling of seclusion is that it started seeping into my relationship with the Lord. I started to feel like, along with everyone else, he was distant. And it was frustrating. Very frustrating. 

This feeling wasn’t new. I often go through seasons where God has felt distant. This, I think, just felt unique because everyone else was distant as well. My friends and my friend Jesus, all far away. 

And I’m not going to say that I’ve gotten over this feeling. I still feel like this very often. Almost daily. 

But I need to remind myself of this: Facts supersede feelings. That basically means facts remain. Facts are truth. Facts are what are real. 

So I know what I’m feeling. I feel that God is distant. I know that when God feels distant to me, I get discouraged and don’t want to spend time in His word because I think I won’t be renewed or refreshed. 

So should I just pout? Just sit and worry? 

No. 

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20b

What do all these verses say? What are the facts? God is near. If I call on Him, if I repent from sin, if I am discouraged, and even just because I am His child, He is near. He is always near. 

So I need to repent of my self-pity and pride, and preach the facts to myself: God is near, even if you can’t feel it. 

Lord, I pray that you would give me faith to trust Your words. You have promised that You would always be near to Your children, to those who believe in You. Help me to focus on the facts, not my feelings. Thank you that You are near when others can’t be.  

Quick Thoughts on Art, Beauty, Creativity and God

Hello, my friends! I didn’t post on Saturday because we were on vacation. It was wonderful, but I’m glad to be back with you all. 


Created to create

In the beginning was the Creator. He existed before everything. However, He decided to create. The pinnacle of His creation was us. People. Creatures created in the image of their Creator. 

Being created in His image means that we are created in His likeness. Basically, we are simiThat means that we have traits and emotions and can think logically and can make decisions and can protect and love.

We are also creative. We are creative because God is creative. We love art and beauty and rhythm and poetry because God put the planets into motions in a rhythm no one can fathom. He created art in every butterfly and seashell and flower and sunset. He wrote poetry when He inspired authors to write the Psalms. He creates beauty when he transforms an ugly, wretched sinner into a holy, wonderful, Jesus-follower. 

God’s Gift to His Creatures

Art is a wonderful gift from God to us. It is amazing because it helps us learn things that we normally wouldn’t be able to remember. Take rhyme for example. Rhyme helps people remember things that an hour-long sermon never could. A song is more memorable than a lecture. An image is more powerful than an explanation. A story is more powerful than an argument. 

Art is a gift. 

Art isn’t always found the way it should be in the Christian community. We have wonderful artists creating music, worship music. And I’m not saying that we don’t need that. Worship music is important because we need to have songs that help us glorify our God. However, we also need poetry in our music. We need deep words that make us think. We need music that fills our soul with emotion and hope. 

We need authors that fill the world with light-giving stories. We need painters and artists that reflect God’s love for beauty. We need photography that captures beauty but also shows the world as the broken world that it is, that calls for social justice. 

Artists Making Art to the Glory of God

Here are two artists who are breaking the rules, creating beauty, poetry, light, and hope.

  1. Andrew Peterson

I can’t quite remember when I first heard of his music, but I’ve been (ever so slightly) obsessed ever since. He is a masterful poet, a talented musician, and someone who thinks very deeply about things. 

Another thing I love about his music is that his albums tend to tell a story. There is a beginning, you start with one song, and when you listen to the album, you end up somewhere else. You start out with depression, and you end with hope, for example. 

His songs aren’t simple, but they are good. They are beautiful art, deep poetry, and complex music. 

Listen to his album The Burning Edge of Dawn here, and visit his YouTube music channel here

He is also an author. He’s written the Wingfeather Saga Series, a fantasy series for children. He has also written Adorning The Dark, which is a memoir but also a handbook to all who are called to create, make, and spread hope in a dark world. 

Visit his website here

  1. Taryn Harbridge

A talented musician, Taryn creates covers and melodies of tunes we all know and love, whether it be movie soundtracks, folk songs, or hymns. Her main instrument is the violin, but she plays many other instruments. Her music is inspired by bluegrass and Celtic music. 

Everything she creates is stunning. She layers sound upon sound of the violin, pennywhistle, bottle-blowing, guitar, and vocalizing. You feel like you are listening to an orchestra. 

Listen to her instrumental cover of How Great Thou Art here, and visit her YouTube channel here

God’s Plan: The Coronavirus Pandemic

As I listened to our pastor’s sermon this Sunday, I started to ponder my last post. I didn’t disagree with anything I wrote, but I felt that there were gaps that needed to be filled. I pray that this post will do that. 

God Is Completely Sovereign

Nothing can successfully stop any act or any event or design or purpose that God intends to certainly bring about (- John Piper). 

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17

God is in control of everything that has happened, is happening, and will ever happen on this earth. Nothing catches Him by surprise. Nothing happens without His permission. He has complete authority. He has ultimate power. 

God planned to bring the Coronavirus about. He is in control of every government and economy and nation. He is the King of Kings. He planned the pandemic and all its effects. 

God’s plan is intricate. His knowledge is unlimited. No sparrow falls from the heavens without Him knowing about it (Matthew 10:29). He knows every time a virus infects a new body. Every time someone loses their job. Every time someone loses a loved one. 

God Is Ultimately Good

God is the epiphany of good. He is the most self-sacrificing, self-humbling, loving, and just King there is. Psalm 34:8 says: Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 

Then comes the question: How can God be good when there is so much bad in the world? Why doesn’t God just abolish all the evil? 

The thing is, no human is good. We all have sinful hearts. We have all gone astray like sheep (Isaiah 53:6). If God were to get rid of all the evil in the world, He would have to destroy all of humanity. That includes you and me. 

God already abolished almost all of humanity with the world-wide flood in Noah’s day. He is a just God and cannot stand in the sight of filth and evil. 

The Bible also tells us that God is a merciful God. We see this over and over again in the Bible. He spares humankind by saving Noah and his family. Jonah tells God that he knew He was “a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster” (Jonah 4:2). In Psalms 78 and 106, we see His utter mercy and faithfulness to Israel even in their uttermost rebellion and sin. Lamentations 3:22 says that God’s mercies never end. And at the cross, we see God’s mercy fully displayed (Ephesians 2:4-5). 

How We Should View Trials In Light Of God’s Attributes

What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise? – Laura Story, Blessings

Laura Story states it so beautifully. What if God planned the Coronavirus so that yes, He could judge some, but He could also have mercy on people by drawing them to Him throughout their desperate circumstances? What if He is letting Satan tempt some believers, or He himself is testing their faith so that they will become “steadfast … (and therefore)… perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:3-4)? 

If God is in control of all, and He is good, and we are His children, what is there to fear? 

“…be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” 

Hebrews 13:5b-6

I know who goes before me

I know who stands behind

The God of angel armies

Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever

He is a friend of mine

The God of angel armies

Is always by my side

-Chris Tomlin, God of Angel Armies


What has God been teaching you during the Pandemic? What truths has He brought to your mind lately? Are there any points in my post that you disagree with? If so, comment, and I would love to talk them over with you. 

Blessings, 

Breanne

Mission: Eternity

I sit staring at my laptop. I listen to encouraging music, poke around online, waiting for the idea to hit. Exhausted. Discouraged. Sound familiar?

I re-read a hymn today that I know well but hadn’t thought about in a while. The hymn is called O Church Arise. It’s a modern hymn, by Keith and Kristyn Getty. It’s a call to war. 

To War

A call to war? Aren’t we, as believers, promoters of peace? 

We are. But not when we wage war against the lies that culture tells us. Or the lies Satan tries to feed us. Not when we wage war against temptation and sin. Not when it’s to release prisoners of war from sin and darkness’ chains. 

We are in a battle. It might not seem like it. We get another Messenger text, we watch a show, we talk with friends, make food, take a walk. But Satan is a lion prowling around, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). He is dangerous. As humans, we are weaklings in comparison to his utter evil and power. 

When The War Becomes Visible

These days, in quarantine, during the pandemic, the war has become overwhelmingly real. God is sovereign and he has allowed this. However, I believe Satan is using this. It’s comparable to when Satan asked permission from God to torment Job in the Old Testament (Job 1:6-12). God let him take all that Job had.

Satan is trying to tempt believers. It’s all lost. You don’t have any friends or family around to support you. You probably won’t get to worship normally in church again. Forget about ever graduating. Or finding a job. He also comes up with quite the opposite: Coronavirus? Why is everyone so worried? Just go watch your new show. Go take a nap. 

The whole world is going crazy. Entire governments and nations are crumbling. It’s simply gone to show how weak we are. People are turned against people, fighting over a piece of fabric, called a mask, or the last packet of toilet paper on the shelves. Friends are in tension because of different ideas on how we should cope with the virus and social distancing. 

Fighting In Light of The Victory

The hymn calls believers to war, but it also reminds them that this war isn’t your ordinary fight. The winning side has already been decided. 

Come, see the cross where love and mercy meet,

As the Son of God is stricken;

Then see His foes lie crushed beneath His feet,

For the Conqueror has risen!

And as the stone is rolled away,

And Christ emerges from the grave,

This vict’ry march continues till the day

Ev’ry eye and heart shall see Him.

So Spirit, come, put strength in ev’ry stride,

Give grace for ev’ry hurdle,

That we may run with faith to win the prize

Of a servant good and faithful.

As saints of old still line the way,

Retelling triumphs of His grace,

We hear their calls and hunger for the day

When, with Christ, we stand in glory.

We will stand in glory. We will tell the stories of the triumphs of His grace. Our state in this war might seem desperate and impossible. The news is horrible, the whole world seems to have despaired, and yet we will stand in glory. 

Let us fight. Let us rise. Let’s remind our brothers and sisters in Christ of the Hope that never fails. Let’s fight against the devil’s lies. Send fellow believers messages reminding them that we aren’t separated. We might be so physically, but not spiritually. The Church of Christ can’t be moved. When a friend tells you they don’t want to get together because they are worried about COVID, respond in grace. The last thing we need is a Church divided against oneself. Let’s pray for those who are suffering. Let’s let people know that we are praying for them. 

Let’s stand together. A couple of months of separation will feel like a couple of seconds when we are together for eternity. 


Listen to O Church Arise here.

Listen to another song which has a similar message, and is just as powerful, called Start Right Here, here.

Musings About Hardship & Hope During the Coronavirus

These last days have been hard. Where I live quarantine is now over, but we can’t go outside without masks, and people are still uneasy. Not everyone wants to get together, and we still aren’t meeting as a church. This summer has been different as well because my brothers are learning a new language so they can enter a high school in the fall. I’ve been spending a lot of my spare time helping them with their homework. 

I want to get together with people, and I thoroughly enjoy it when we can, but I’ve been enclosed into our home with my family for so long that for some reason the times we do get together with people don’t “fix” those weird feelings of seclusion.

I’m tired. I have lost most if not all of my motivation. I was so excited when I first started several projects this summer, but now it takes a lot of emotional and mental power to just keep on working on them. And it’s not that I’m getting little sleep. It’s not that I’m doing a boatload of activities. I’m just mentally worn-out. 

It takes a lot of brain-power to stay hopeful and happy and content when you are stuck with your family and no one else for four months. You have to constantly choose to be patient, choose to smile, choose to keep going. It doesn’t come naturally. When you’ve been doing that non-stop for this long, you collapse. 

Sometimes, I don’t even enjoy the things that normally are life-giving to me, like reading. Naps are quite comforting, but they can also be used as a form of escapism. I don’t want to shy away from my stewardship before God. 

I’m just trying to do the next thing, like my post from last week said, but it’s so difficult. However, I choose. I choose to be thankful for my family and the extra-special time I’ve gotten to spend with them and I choose to be thankful for my puppy who makes me laugh. I choose to be thankful for music that makes me smile and hope. I choose to cling to the promises of God. 

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

    the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

    his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint,

    and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary,

    and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

    they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

The Wisdom Behind The Disney Song “The Next Right Thing”

I was watching Frozen 2 with my family recently since we hadn’t watched it when it first came out. I had listened to most of the songs on the soundtrack and thought the music was beautiful. However, watching the movie gave me a more meaningful perspective on the songs. 

One scene and song (The Next Right Thing) that especially moved me was when Anna is stuck down in an underground cave and believes her sister Elsa to be dead, and she has just watched her friend Olaf melt away in her arms. She is completely broken. She has nothing left. “I’ve seen dark before, but not like this // This is cold, this is empty, this is numb // The life I knew is over, the lights are out // Hello, darkness, I’m ready to succumb” But she realizes she has a choice before her: To give up, or to take a step forward. It goes on like this: “This grief has a gravity, it pulls me down // But a tiny voice whispers in my mind // ‘You are lost, hope is gone // But you must go on // and do the next right thing.’”

Anna later goes on to realize that she doesn’t know what the future holds. She is confused. She is overwhelmed. But she acknowledges: “I won’t look too far ahead // It’s too much for me to take // But break it down to this next breath // this next step // This next choice // is one that I can make”

So Anna chooses, at the end of the song, and then later in the movie, to “do the next right thing.” 

The reason this song touched and shocked me was that the phrase “do the next thing” was something I have heard constantly as I have grown up. My mother would always remind me when I was overwhelmed or frustrated or down in the dumps, that what I needed to do was simply to “do the next thing.”

As I was pondering this subject and researching it, I realized something I had forgotten. This phrase, to “do the next thing,” was popularized by the speaker and Bible teacher Elisabeth Elliot. She quoted an old poem called Do The Next ThingThe poem says: 

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,

do it reliantly, casting all care.

Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,

who placed it before thee with earnest command.

Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,

leave all resultings, do the next thing.

Elisabeth Elliot explained how this mindset was extremely encouraging and helpful throughout her life as a single mother and someone who ministered to others. Sometimes the situation was overwhelming, but she knew that she had to just take the next step in faith and leave the results up to Jesus. 

Although Disney’s songs aren’t biblical, and very often are filled with self-esteem and self-love, I feel that with this song, they did a remarkable job. Although the song does focus on helping ourselves and how we can get out of the dark, as Christians we know that the strength to move forward comes from God and God alone. He is our Rock and our Fortress. With that in mind, the otherwise secular song becomes very encouraging. 

So I’ll walk through this night

Stumbling blindly toward the light

And do the next right thing

And with the dawn, what comes then?

When it’s clear that everything will never be the same again

Then I’ll make the choice

To hear that voice

And do the next right thing.

As believers, our Light is our Lord Jesus Christ. The Voice that prompts us to take that next step in simple faith is the Holy Spirit. 

Whether it’s taking a nap because we are too exhausted to do anything else. Whether it’s getting one more page of the seemingly endless homework done. Whether it’s helping a sibling or going to the store or cooking a meal. Whether it’s getting out of bed in the morning when you feel like nothing in the world is alright. We look to our God and do the next thing. 


If you would like to check out an article that elaborates on Elisabeth Elliot’s message, click here

If you would like to listen to a beautiful duet cover of the song, click here

Psalm 16 As A Hymn

Hello my dear friends! I didn’t get enough time today to write a lengthy blog post on some deep and important topic, so I thought I’d share with you a psalm based hymn I wrote a while back. It’s in common meter, which means you could technically sing it to the tune of Amazing Grace. (Although I wouldn’t do that, because it’d be very confusing to me since my mind has associated that tune with the Amazing Grace lyrics. 🙂 )

I keep my eyes upon the Lord

I fix my gaxe on Him

With the Savior at my right hand

I will not be shaken

Therefore I will choose to be glad

and rejoice all my days

For He will not abandon me

nor let me see decay

He makes me known the path of life

His presence gives me joy

Since there is pleas’re at His right hand

I’ll sing forevermore

And that’s it! I haven’t been able to find an adequate tune yet, but if you awesome peeps think of any, feel free to contact me. Have a great week!

Truth4TCKs: Painful Goodbyes Are Good

The word “goodbye” has always been a part of my life. I’ve switched schools five times. I’ve had different friends at those different schools, and I always had to say goodbye. I live in a different country than my passport country because of my parents’ work. When our summer visits there come to an end, I have to say goodbye to family because I won’t see them for a year or two. 

As a TCK, (third culture kid), I have struggled with those goodbyes. It’s horrible because my attitude becomes one of “since I’ll have to say goodbye anyways, why bother investing in this friendship?” It’s not that I don’t want deep friendships. I do… I desperately do. But I lie to myself so I won’t have to go through the pain. I say that it isn’t a big deal if I don’t put my heart into something, because it’ll be gone soon, anyway. 

Dear friends just left the country I live in. To me, they were the embodiment of what it meant to love others. They only lived here for two years, but when they left, I felt, like so many others, like they had been here for ages. They invested in dozens of families and people and were generous, encouraging, and loving. They didn’t hold back. They gave so much of themselves that even when they were gone physically, they remain in the hearts of many.

When they left, it hurt. I felt like a part of me was being ripped out because they had been such a huge part of our lives and they were always so loving. Even now, I struggle with wanting to block out all the emotions. 

But my friend told me something she heard years ago: this hurt that you’re feeling, it’s okay. It’s good, even. Not everyone experiences so much love that taking away that friend takes a part of them too. 

That might sound obvious, but just the fact that the pain was good is such a powerful reminder for me. 

These pain-blocking, goodbye-normalizing walls aren’t just bad because they prevent friendships, they’re sinful. They’re sinful because I don’t see the people I interact with as worthy of my love. I don’t see people as valuable, eternal human beings created in God’s image and will be impacted by the way I choose to love them or not. My walls might seem to protect me, but all they do is create more damage. 

I harbor God’s love and His Spirit in me. As a child of God, my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. God uses broken people as a means to bring other broken people to the Perfect Father. When I choose not to love others and give them my time and love, I choose to not show them God’s love. 

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

1 John 4:10-11

Think how much it must have been painful for God the Father to be separated from His Son. The different persons of the trinity were in perfect communion. He had to punish and be estranged from God the Son, yet He loved Him. And He did this because He loved us, who were incomparably less worthy of love than Jesus. If we don’t deserve all that love, why do we build these walls to try to protect ourselves from fleeting feelings? Why do we do these things when eternal lives and souls are at stake? Are we really that selfish? 

If God loved us, we ought to love. And when the pain comes, we rejoice, because we have loved and have been loved. We rejoice because our pain is temporary. We rejoice because, if the loved one has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, we have stored up heavenly treasure and the friendship with that person will never end.

Treasure In Jars of Clay

‘But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.’
2 Corinthians 4:7-10

I had wasted most of my day. I was disappointed because I felt that none of my efforts to use my time well were ever fruitful. I wanted to be a good steward, to do good. I felt completely weak and defeated. And guilty.

That morning my mom had reminded me how Jesus chose his disciples knowing they would abandon Him. He chose Judas as His disciple knowing He would betray Him. In Mark 3, it says that “He went up on the mountain and called to Him those whom He desired, and they came to Him.” It later goes on to list the twelve disciples, and ends with the phrase “and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.”

Let’s apply the words of Mark to Judas personally. Jesus went up on the mountain and called to Him Judas whom He desired. He spent years loving and serving Judas, using Him for His Kingdom, all the while knowing that Judas would stab Him in the back. He knew that. Nevertheless, He desired Judas.

Jesus desires us. He desires broken souls and rebellious hearts. He has chosen us. This is a marvelous truth because it frees us from the spiritually deadly idea that we have to earn His love.

We work so hard to be good. To be enough. The world feeds us the lie that we can be enough, that we are what we need. It sounds like freedom. It isn’t. We try to earn the pleasure and affection of God. But we are unable. We are weak. We are human. David committed adultery and murdered someone to cover it up. Abraham lied about his wife saying she was his sister, and got his wife taken from him. Moses was a criminal and couldn’t speak well. Mary was accused of having sex out of wedlock for her whole life. We are broken, fragile creatures.

Jesus has chosen to put His treasure in jars of clay.

To find out what the treasure talked about in Mark 4:7 is, one needs to look at the preceding verse: For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). The treasure is the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” that has been given by God by shining in our hearts. We now know the glory of God. That’s the treasure. The glory of God is precious, immortal, powerful, holy, and good. All the things we aren’t. Yet he has chosen to give us that.

Clay jars are fragile. They are thick, and they look rigid and sturdy, but with one fall they break into pieces. That’s us. We think we’re sturdy, that we can navigate life by our strength. We just aren’t. And Jesus chose us. He knew we were jars of clay.

So we can rest in the fact that He chose us. We can rest because He desired jars of clay, and He uses us for His glory. The verses 8-10 explain that all the afflictions and the pains and the hardships and even the temptations to waste our time, that we go through, display His glory. Those things show that we are frail, but the fact that we aren’t ever totally defeated shows that He is mighty.

Jesus is ok with us being weak. He chose us. So I choose to rest in His wisdom and to let Him have the glory and to strive to not try to be enough.

Quick Thoughts on Trusting God With Our Every Day

Hello friends, sorry for not writing yesterday. We went on a quick 3 day vacation and I didn’t have time to post anything.

I want to share a bit about what I have been learning recently. I have been pondering off and on what it means to trust God.

I used to think that trusting God was something you did when you had a really stressful situation and didn’t know how it would go, something you did when there was a huge unknown. But I have been slowly finding that trusting should also be something we do in the quiet moments, with the small worries. When we have a lot to accomplish in a day and aren’t sure if we’ll be able to. When we are tired. When we are sick. When we just aren’t having the best of days.

He wants us to trust Him with His love. He wants us to trust Him with His grace. To trust that His love is unconditional and his grace is sufficient. To trust that we don’t have to do well that day to come boldly to His throne. To trust Him that His plan, not ours, is perfect.

Our plan may consist of doing schoolwork or writing or watching our favorite show or going to the park. But when our siblings need help or our mother wants us to prepare dinner or we need to do chores, trusting God with whatever the day throws at us is what makes our Father happy.

We also need to trust God with the seemingly small, nagging worries that are bigger than we want them to be. For me, it’s becoming an adult. Leaving the house. Becoming fully responsible for my financial well being. It freaks me out. But God has plans to prosper me (Jeremiah 29:11). God has plans to give me a future and a hope. So if I trust Him with my today, and my tomorrow, and the day after that, I can trust Him that He will give me grace sufficient for whatever I will face when I leave home. No problem or worry is bigger than my God.

See you on Tuesday. 😊