Sit back, relax and be encouraged as you listen to devotionals that soothe the soul. Check out the my new podcast, where I will be reading some of my blog posts with a little extra encouragement. New episodes will be available every Monday starting July 12th. https://anchor.fm/tammy-glover/episodes/Balm-for-the-Soul-Season-1-Premiere-Teaser-e13usvq
It feels like the battle will never end. Attack after Attack Blow after Blow I fall down, weary. Is there anyone that can help me? Does anyone see me? I look to my right and see my comrade on the ground. Blinded by swollen eyes, they still flail their sword at the enemy. I want to help but I can’t stand, Too battered and bruised to even shout. I look to my left and see another soldier, torn to pieces. The enemy standing over them, Still bloodthirsty and lusting for their next prey, Their eyes greedily search. I silently pray they don’t see me. But they do. Snarling and growling, they stalk towards me. This is the end. My battle is finally over. I have lost. The enemy inches closer and closer. There is no need for them to rush, They know they have their prey. I close my eyes and wait to feel their teeth sink inside my flesh, Instead, I hear a voice say, “the battle is not over. Open your eyes.” I see bursts of light piercing the darkness. A multitude of angels stand before me. The enemy cringes with fear. “Pick up your sword and fight, soldier,” the voice says. I feel my strength renewed. I shall live and not die, for the Lord has seen me. He has heard my cry. I pick up my sword and shield and charge, Shouting the battle cry, JESUS IS LORD! “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” 2 Kings 6:16-17 KJV
What is man that God is mindful of him? The Maker of all the heavens and earth. The One who created man from dust and breathed into his lungs. Who am I that God would choose me? It didn’t matter how deep in sin I was in. It didn’t matter how much I pushed Him away from me, His love for me never wavered. He still chose me. Even when my voice was too weak to call out, His ear was inclined to the cries of my heart. He kept track of every tear. He felt every wound inflicted on my soul. He never looked at me with contempt, only with complete compassion. Messy, filthy and unruly, yet I was my Father’s choice. Knowing all the bad choices I would make, All the times I would turn my back on Him, He chose me to be His beloved daughter. He allowed His Only Begotten Son to bear my sins, Die on a cross and take my place in hell. More powerful than a phoenix rising from the ashes, He rose from the grave with the keys of hell Overcoming death, overcoming darkness, All for the single purpose of bringing me salvation. He has created me for a time such as this. To boldly proclaim the good news. I am not the only chosen one. He also chose you. Will you answer His call and choose Him? “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 KJV “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 KJV
I lay in bed not wanting to face another day of adulting. The constant fight with disappointments and setbacks has left me sore and exhausted. They try to pull me back into darkness, where dreams and hopes die. The temptation to give up is so great. Complacency slithers towards me, twisting all around me. The more I fight to break free, the tighter its grip. I feel its razor teeth sink inside my flesh, releasing its venom of lies, doubt and confusion. It whispers, “it’s ok to give up,” as the venom courses through my soul, paralyzing me. Its words taste sweet in my mouth but turns bitter as it goes down.
I pull the covers from my face and sit up in bed. Where did my fire go? I used to burn with the love of God and passion for His word in my belly. The fire kept the darkness away. It fueled me with the strength to fight. Now, I only feel a few glowing embers. “Lord, I think I’m dying,” I cry out. How did this happen? Didn’t I pray, fast and read your word every day?”
After a few more minutes in full pity party mode, I sat quietly, waiting. I would like to say it was because I came to my senses, but it was really because I had tired myself out. Mercifully, the Lord answered in that quiet moment. He told me to meet Him in His word. Whenever He tells me this, I know I’m in trouble. He had grown tired of my foolishness. So, I obediently pulled out my Bible and He led me to the book of Revelations. Oh Boy!
He led me to read chapter two. In it, the Lord addresses the church of Ephesus. He starts off by telling them what they are doing that pleases Him. They knew His word, they labored to do His will and they had patience and didn’t faint. Then He goes on to tell them what displeases Him. Revelations 2:4 says, “nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” (KJV)
As if this wasn’t painful enough for me to read, He directed me to jump to Revelations 3:14-22. In this section He addresses the church of the Laodiceans. He says in Revelations 3:15-16, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (KJV)
Have I really started to turn away from my first love, Jesus? Am I becoming lukewarm? No, this can’t be, I pray, read and fast. I don’t willfully sin. Then the Lord brought to my remembrance how lately I’ve been spending less and less time praying. How I’ve been rushing through His word. I even remembered one of the goals for this year was to post on the blog every week yet, it’s the end of March and I hadn’t written or posted a thing. I truly was slipping away from God and into the arms of complacency. What do I do, Lord?
God, being merciful, again led me to His word. This time to Revelations 3:19 which says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent.” In Revelations 2:5, He says, “remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.” (KJV)
I am so thankful God was merciful enough to chasten me. I had been slowly turning away from my first love and the works He has called me to do. My turning away was causing me to become lukewarm. I was no longer passionate and zealous for the things of God. He called me to encourage others and I was barely encouraging myself. He called me to love others and I was barely loving myself. Complacency was leading me into a selfish place.
As I look at the world I live in, I see so much pain. While I know I can’t relieve all the pain, I can do my part. Could it be the reason some don’t believe in a loving God is because those called by His name have also turned away from their first love? Has our turning away caused us to become lukewarm and to stop caring for the things God cares for, which are people?
We see people in need and don’t provide them from that which God has provided us. We see people cry out for justice and we turn a blind eye. We see oppression and remain silent. We were called to be a light in the darkness. Where is the fire?
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 ESV
The grief of life’s disappointments weighed heavy on my shoulders. Shame from past deeds clawed at my back. They were unshakeable. The more I tried to break free, the stronger their grip grew. I couldn’t breathe. I just needed a minute to breathe.
I dug a hole, a fortress, to hide and regroup. I was only supposed to stay there for a little while but it started to become my permanent home. I knew I didn’t belong there but it was safe. Instead of coming out, I dug in deeper until I was completely covered in dirt. I had successfully buried myself in darkness. So deep and dark was my hole, I had no idea where I was or how to get myself out. I needed help.
How could I possibly call out for help now? I was a complete mess. I didn’t want anyone to see me this way. Embarrassment covered my mouth like duct tape yet I still wondered why no one came looking for me. Not only was I foolish enough to get myself in this mess but I had isolated myself so much no one even knew to look for me.
I sat in the darkness, resigned to the fact I wasn’t going down in a blaze of glory but as a fool in filth. I let go of my last sliver of hope and waited for th end. In the distance, I heard a voice whisper my name. It sounded familiar, full of love and compassion. I wanted to be close to whoever was at the end of that voice. It didn’t matter how terrible I looked anymore. I just wanted to be free.
I summoned up my last bit of strength and called out. “I’m in a hole and I can’t get out. I don’t even know where I am. Please help me.”
The voice answered, “don’t be afraid. I Am is with you. I saw when you dug the hole. You were never lost. You never left my sight.”
I felt the weight begin to lift. A pinhole of light appeared and grew bigger. My eyes hurt as they adjusted to the light. I could breathe again. Exhausted and covered in dirt, I was again aware of my filthiness. Embarrassed by needing help, I wanted to run away but my legs were too weak to stand, let alone run away from my rescuer. Yet, I still tried to hide my face. I felt strong arms wrap me up and gently lead me to safety. Not only was I cleaned and fed by my rescuer but I was given a place of honor at His table and welcomed into His family.
No matter how lost we think we are, we are never lost to God. His eye is always on us and His ear is always inclined to our call. There is nothing too heavy for Him to lift off us. You may ask, why would someone so holy and mighty even bother. You may think you’re not even worthy of His help. However, worthiness is based on the Creator’s standards. Ask yourself, would a father sacrifice his son for someone he did not deem worthy? That would be an utterly cruel thing to do. God sent His Son Jesus to bear the weight of our sins, pain and shame because He loves us. His desire isn’t for anyone to perish but He knew because of our sins, we couldn’t stand in His presence. We would be destroyed by His holiness. So, He made a way for us to be reconciled with Him and to be restored, but only if we choose to call out.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:16-18 KJV
As my heavy eyes finally begin to close and I drift off to sleep, I’m jolted awake. “Help me, help me,” my father yelled across the hall.
I don’t remember the last time I had slept for more than a couple of hours. It felt like he had been battling cancer for an eternity, but it had been more like a couple of months. His pain was increasing and the cancer that ravaged his lungs had moved to his brain.
I dragged my sore and weary body out of bed to see how I could comfort him. He didn’t want me, as such was the case most nights. He wanted my mother. I tried to explain that it was three in the morning but he insisted I get her anyway. With a heavy heart, I went upstairs to wake her, knowing she was working on as little sleep as I was. Swollen feet and legs, she made her way downstairs, pausing to offer up the only prayer she had strength to give. “Oh Father,” she said and continued downstairs.
I went back to my room and crawled into bed. After listening to my parents’ exchange for a few moments, I held the pillow to my face to muffle my cries. “Lord, don’t You care that we’re drowning in grief and pain? Where are You?”
As I retell the events of those months to a good friend, she looks at me in astonishment. “I’ve worked in hospice home health care for years and that was one of the most traumatizing experiences I’ve heard,” she said. “The fact that you’re even able to sit here and talk about it without breaking down is the power of God.”
Those few months while my father was sick were the worst and most painful of my life. I was gripped with intense depression, fear and anxiety. I was overwhelmed with holding down a full time job, caring for my mother who was battling her own health issues and a dying father, all with very little help. It didn’t feel like God was with me at all. However, now that I’ve been on the other side for a few years, I can see that He was.
I was so physically and emotionally exhausted back then it could only have been God that helped me function. I functioned so well that people who didn’t know about my situation had no idea what I was going through. It was only God’s strength that helped me to overcome so many fears during that time. He did care that my family and I were struggling. He brought neighbors to give us rides to the hospital and to help care for my father. He also brought friends to comfort us with prayer.
When we’re deep in a storm, it’s hard to think straight. All we can think about is surviving. We can feel so alone. We desperately search for someone who will see and rescue us but when no one comes, we look to God and ask why He doesn’t care about us. Why has He allowed such torment in our lives? I’m reminded of Matthew 8:23-27, where Jesus’ disciples faced such a situation. They found themselves in a boat during a violent storm. As the darkness enveloped them, their faith started to waiver. The boat was tossed to and fro, water poured into the boat, it looked like they weren’t going to survive. They looked at Jesus, peacefully sleeping oblivious to the danger, the One who had confidently told them they were going to the other side. They frustratingly ask Him, “don’t You care, Lord, that we’re about to die.”
Jesus calmly got up and told not only the storm but them, “peace, be still.”
It’s when we are still we can feel His presence. We can hear His calming voice. When we start to panic during the storm, we can’t hear, we can’t think, we can’t see. I don’t know your situation. I certainly can’t pretend to know why you’re going through what you’re going through. I can’t tell you how long it will last or why God has allowed it to even happen. I can’t even tell you that believing God is with you is going to magically and immediately change your situation. You will probably have to go through it for a while and it will be painful. God never promised that we wouldn’t have to go through the valley. He only promised He would never leave us nor forsake us and that we will get to the other side.
My prayer for you is that as you read these words, you are reminded that God loves you and He does care. I pray that you can find a moment to be still and feel His peace which transcends all understanding and hear His voice which speak words that are a balm to your soul. May His strength help you to fight another day.
“I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.” Psalm 120:1 NIV
“For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV
Every day, all day, I am constantly faced with the questions, do I have enough energy to take care of my elderly mother alone? Do I have enouth motivation to do my job? Do I have enough talent and wisdom to do what God has called me to do? Do I have enough faith that will please God?
As you can probably imagine, running these questions around inside my mind all day is tiresome. I want to believe that I have enough but at the end of my exhausting day, I arrive at the same answer. I absolutely do not have enough of anything. This answer devastates me. To come to the truth that I am not enough makes me question why I’m even here.
I cried out to God, “why me, Lord,” in the most dramatic fashion might I add. In the middle of my crying and full blown pity party, I heard the Lord ask me, “do you believe that I’m enough?”
“Well, of course I do, Lord,” I answered. “You are Almighty, All Powerful, All Wise. There is nothing you can’t do.”
“Then the real question you need to ask yourself is, do you believe that I love you enough,” He said.
What a question, indeed. I admit I have developed some serious trust issues. People have disappointed and hurt me so I’ve depended on myself. My mistake was evaluating God based on their actions. Let’s be real, God isn’t even remotely close to being in the same category as us humans. His Word clearly says that He is not a man that He should lie. We lie to each other and ourselves all the time. Even His actions show that He’s not in the same category as us. What have we truly created without His help. He is the Creator of all. So why would I trust Him in the same way I trust humans?
God’s very essence is love. He created us in love, to love Him and each other He loves us so much that when we, as a creation, fell into sin and turned away from loving Him, He gave His Son Jesus as a sacrifice on our behalf, just so that we could be reconciled to Him. He wants so badly to have a relationship with us that His Son took the punishment that was meant for us. Now, these are things just written in the Bible. What if I look at all the things He has specifically done for me?
There were plenty of times I should have died, plenty of situations that should have broken me and plenty of betrayals against Him that should have disqualified me from being a part of His family. Yet, His never ending love for me kept me alive, healed my broken heart and qualified me to be His daughter. Even now, in the midst of my struggles, He’s still there, patiently lifting me up when I stumble. The mere fact that He answered when I called out to Him during my pity party, shows His love for me.
Yes, God I believe You love me enough. I don’t have to be enough. Your love for me has given me access to Your mercy, power and wisdom. I have enough in You.
All praise to the God of More Than Enough.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
With a slightly lazy right eye, she peered back at me. It was nothing anyone would notice unless they were really paying attention. I really paid attention. I saw all of her. The hair that refused to grow any further than her shoulders, the slight wrinkles that formed when she frowned. The extra rolls around her waist. Everything she thought was an imperfection. I found fascinating.
She didn’t like to be in the spotlight, years of being teased when she was younger made her shy away from attention. The more she tried to hide, the more people gravitated to her. What she didn’t know was that her strength, compassion and determination drew people to her. She had a tranquility about her. She wasn’t afraid of quiet moments, she embraced silence. Her words were carefully thought out revealing not just intelligence but wisdom. It was wisdom that could only come from sitting in the shadows, listening and watching those around her.
When I first discovered her, she was encased inside an intricately built fortress. She had spent a lifetime building it with every heartbreak and rejection. By the looks of her fortress, you would think she was a woman who was without hope. However, when she peeked out the window one could see a glimmer of hope.
She was too beautiful to be hidden yet too precious not to be protected. I shouted affirmations to her. “You’re beautiful. You’re worthy. You’re loved.”
All to be drowned out by other voices yelling that she was ugly, unworthy and unloved. I didn’t know what else to do to get her attention. Until one day, I realized I was no longer on the outside looking in. I was inside her magnificent fortress. I searched the halls and in every room but I couldn’t find her. Frustrated and discouraged, I decided to give up. I started towards the door to never return, when I saw her in the corner of my eye.
“Finally,” I said as I turned towards her, only to see myself through a looking glass. My breath caught in my throat. With every tear, the fortress slowly crumbled.
Beloved, we are perfectly made and perfectly loved by an Almighty God. He created us in love. He loved us before we were even formed inside of our mother’s womb. We are so precious to Him that He gave His one and only Son to bear our sins and take our place in hell. We are worthy and we matter. It’s not because society, friends or family say so. It is because the One who created us deemed us so. Who are we to disagree with our Creator?
“How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them they would outnumber the grains of sand.” Psalm 139: 18 NIV
A string of what I thought were broken promises pushed me farther and farther away, until I found myself in the arms of depression. Too ashamed and embarrassed to admit I had slipped away and needed help, I pretended to be okay. I looked in the mirror and saw a familiar face but I really didn’t know who was staring back at me.
Tired of pretending. Tired of fighting. I needed a break from myself. A break from trying to be the perfect version of myself I thought everyone wanted to see. Always in conflict with what the world wanted, what my flesh wanted and what God wanted. Realizing the perfect version of myself didn’t exist, I cast myself aside. Staying in the room but hiding in the corner, I peeked out to reveal my secret to a couple of trusted friends but they fell silent and slipped away. I was alone. I slithered back to my corner and I decided to do whatever made me happy. I didn’t care if it was wrong or right. To my surprise, I was happy. No lightening struck me down, no plagues befell me. I only felt a sense of something missing. I missed the intimacy I had with God. I wanted to tell Him everything but I was ashamed and felt too far away from Him. Eventually, I found that the longer I went without talking to Him, the easier it was to live without Him, or so I thought.
Finally, one day God gently nudged me and whispered, “do you love Me.”
My heart answered, “yes, Lord.”
Then He asked me, “do you miss Me.”
Again, I answered, “yes, Lord.” With tears pouring down my face, I asked Him, “God, do You still love me. People who I trusted and thought loved me distanced themselves from me when I told them about my sins. People who represented You in a way that I had only hoped I could be like. If they, representing you, can turn away from me, how can You, who are Holy and Almighty still love me? Do you really miss me?”
His answer knocked me to my knees and flooded my heart. “I Am Love. I don’t ever stop loving My own. You only thought you were lost but you never left my sight. Now, beloved, are you ready to come back home?”
Yet again I answered, “yes, Lord.”
Even now that I have repented, received God’s forgiveness and been restored I still ask God if I am still loved. Whenever someone that knows about my past sins looks at me or even avoids me, I still feel unworthy of love. Instead of trying to hide my feelings, I take them right to God. He always kindly and patiently reminds me that He still loves me. Not only does He love me but He loves every single person He has created. We humans have a tendency to cast people aside and deem them unworthy when they look, speak or behave a certain way but God loves us all just the same. He can look beyond our anger, rebellion and hardness and see the pain, brokenness and shame that fills our hearts. Everyone matters to Him. He sent His Son, Jesus, to bear all of our sins. He died for us and took our place in hell all because He loves us. No one is beyond His salvation if they want it nor are they beyond His love.
If you have felt like you don’t have a place in God’s family because of who you are, what you did or how you’re currently living your life, please know that you are loved. No matter what anyone has said or how they have treated you, God loves you and wants you in His family. Those who have cast you aside may not know what to do with you but He does. You are not a mistake, surprise or an anomaly. You are His creation. He knew you before you were formed in the womb and He loved and treasured you. You are so precious to Him that He even knows the number of hairs on your head.
I know it’s not easy but call out to Him. Tell Him you’re hurting, scared and not quite sure if you can trust the love of someone you have neither seen, heard, nor felt. He will meet you where you are and provide whatever you need to heal. It’s not too late. He has been patiently waiting for you because you are still and forever loved.
I am no one yet everyone Nothing yet everything Nowhere yet everywhere. I'm overlooked in the shadows Yet my presence is undeniable. My voice is loud but still not heard. As I lift up, I'm torn down. Neglected and abused But I stand strong and proud. I'm not known for my beauty. My eyes the color of mud, see all Nothing escapes me Not hatred, not envy, not resentment. My hair, full, curly and tattered Repulses yet mesmerizes. My rich dark skin calls out in pain from a lifetime of unhealed scars. I'm not the elusive, sparkly white unicorn that you constantly seek I'm the dark unicorn that carries generations worth of burdens Ever present, ever faithful, always taken for granted. I spend my days trying to prove to him, to her, to they, to me That I am beautifully and wonderfully made By the same Almighty God that created them. But everyday I fall short in a blaze with no glory. A true superhero no one knows exists. My identity completely unknown even to myself. Powerful yet never reaching full strength. I brush the ashes off my tattered wings Head held high, eyes wide open I attempt to fly into the sun. A chain of fear and contempt pulls me back down. Feeling suffocated, weary and alone in this battle Why can't I give up? I hear a still small voice tell me You are worthy. Your life matters. It's time to fly.