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Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

Dena Johnson Martin

Crosswalk.com blogspot for Dena Johnson of Dena's Devos

Who Do You Think You Are?

 

“Who Do You Think You Are, A Princess? Quit daydreaming. You will never be who you think you are going to be. Get used to the real-world Missy!”

My mother would squash my dreams often with her cutting words. She couldn’t understand that even in our hard circumstances of life, one could have hope in themselves. I felt like I was someone who could rise above our circumstances. It was deep inside of me. I couldn’t help it. My spirit was stronger than even a mother’s demeaning words.

Last November I attended a B.L.A.S.T. Next Level Training in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I had been in this program for a year. My life coach, best-selling author Shannon Ethridge, invited us to come spend four days with her and her team to take an extended course; a special treat for us all. Our group was from all over the United States; California, Detroit, South Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, Nebraska, to name a few. We had been talking by Zoom Conference, phone, text, Facebook to bond with each other. There was something special going on with our group, and Shannon saw it right away. She kept telling us,” I have never had a group become this close with each other before.” We continued to help and support each other. We pushed each other forward. We critiqued our work, and we shared our stories. The focus was precise. We improved our skills. As our graduation from this program was near, Shannon made the decision to bring us all together and share her best nuggets of information with us. She believed in our ministries. She believed in us.

This program had never been done before. Shannon knew it had to be done with us. As we all made our way to Tennessee, with some interesting stories of missed flights and crazy arrivals, we hugged each other like old friends. We settled in that first night and caught up on our lives. The next morning as we were in the trenches of completing our video for our speaker platform, we sat down for some training.

The question was posed to us “Who do you think you are?” My heart stopped. My palms started to sweat. I heard those words in a different form. The words the way my mother used to say them. However, the question Shannon was posing was different. She knew we had worked hard this past year. We had created our platform based on a guidance that surpassed even a good parent. We had listened to the whispers of God telling us exactly who we were. That was what Shannon wanted us to remember. We had all been sent there after listening to and acting upon the promptings of the Holy Spirit within us. This ability to speak and write of my past with a difficult mom, allowing God to show me a bright future, was not in vain. I had a responsibility to share this with others because He had equipped me. I also had to do the hard work to study the things that would guide me towards excellence in my field.

My life shifted in that room. When you know your purpose in life, it makes each day a little more meaningful. I will not be afraid any longer of answering my truth. My life-long dream was never to be a speaker/writer on hard subjects of mother daughter dysfunction. But God knew. He knew when harsh words were spoken to me as a child, my heart would be protected. He knew that deep down, those words would not stick and make me bitter. He knew that He would not allow me to stop dreaming of a purposeful life. He knew He would make me a Mama Mentor for many other women whose hearts are tender from bitter words spoken from broken places.

Now I ask you; “Who do you think you are?” Can you answer that question with confidence?  You are more than your job, your title, trophies, and awards. You have a responsibility to give your best talents and gifts as a person who can make a difference in this world. It’s important you know. It’s the whole reason you wake up each morning.

Find your passion and purpose and do it! Don’t give up. Find the support that will move you in that direction. Don’t let the past define you.

I stand beside you as the mama you may not have had. I will tell you; I see you; I stand with you; I believe in you.

I was a very timid child with lots of fears. Very unrealistic fears. Honestly, some of those fears carry over even today.

I do not watch scary movies of any type. I will absolutely leave the room if there’s something scary on the TV. Don’t even ask me to go to the theater for something scary. I have never watched Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street and have no plans to ever see them. I wouldn’t know Freddy Krueger if I saw him face-to-face.

As a kid it was even worse. Do you remember the show Land of the Lost? It had those creepy sleestaks wandering the land and it was on every Saturday morning. Oh. I couldn’t even be in the room if that show was on the TV!

Ghosts. I hate ghosts. I hate shows about ghosts. I hate the thought of haunted houses and haunted hotels. We bought my grandpa’s house, and Roy is convinced my grandpa is still living in the house with us. I don’t handle these things well. I remember being really sick as a child. I woke up in the middle of the night and was firmly convinced my grandmother, who had recently passed away, was sitting in a rocking chair next to my bed. I don’t think I slept for a month.

You want to know the worst one? Scooby Doo. I was terrified of Scooby Doo. All of the mysteries they investigated with their Mystery Machine. Ghosts and goblins and all kinds of monsters. No thank you. I could not handle it.

I don’t know why I had (and still have) so many fears of the craziest things. But there’s one thing I do know: my mom was the master at helping me overcome my fears.

My mom taught me the art of meditating on scriptures from the time I was a small child. My mom taught me to turn to God and His word when I was scared. My mom set the foundation for my life by teaching me one little trick.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3

My mom always turned my mind to this verse, a phrase I didn’t even realize was directly from the Bible. When I went to my mom because I was scared, she told me just to repeat these words to myself over and over until the fear went away.

And so I did. I would have a thought of something that scared me, and I would immediately begin to repeat the words to myself.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. When I am afraid, I will trust in you. When I am afraid, I will trust in you.

Over and over the words ran through my mind. Over and over I proclaimed my trust in God. Over and over I turned my mind to the word of God instead of my fears.

And without fail, the perfect peace of God always swept over me and I was able to peacefully drift off to sleep or overcome the fears that plagued me.

I didn’t realize at the time what my mom was teaching me, but she was teaching me some of the most valuable lessons of my life.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

My mom taught me how to experience Isaiah 26:3. She taught me how to focus my mind on Him so that His perfect peace washes over me. There’s no doubt this lesson has served me well over the years. Every now and then, those precious words when I am afraid, I put my trust in you drift through my mind and I am reminded of His precious promises and the truth of how good His peace is.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

The only way to successfully live this Christian life is to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. That takes time. It takes practice. It takes faithfully training our minds to think God’s way, to think on God’s things. It’s a matter of having a daily diet of God’s word to focus our minds. It’s through this transformation that God shows us how to live for Him.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

How do we take our thoughts captive? Exactly the way my mom taught me. When that thought enters our minds—whether it’s a fear or a negative word or a critical thought—we must make a conscious effort to focus on God and His word, to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. That’s the only way to experience His perfect peace. That’s the only way to know God fully and completely.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9

One of my favorite passages! Anxiety and fear are sins. It is not sinful to have anxiety or fear enter our hearts or minds, but it is a sin to allow it to overtake us. We must learn to take it to God in prayer, to leave it at His feet, to train our minds to think on things that are pleasing to God. That’s a lesson that I received from my mom, one that I still constantly try to put into practice. I am definitely blessed to have an amazing mom who taught me these things from a young age.

What about you? What fears and anxieties do you face? How do you overcome? Have you learned the art of training your mind? Maybe like me, you sometimes get off-track and fail to let your mind be trained properly. I think I’m going to pick some special verses and start using them to retrain my thinking. Will you join me?

One thing we should always expect is the unexpected. It seems that’s one thing we are guaranteed. Sometimes the unexpected is wonderful…and sometimes it is not.

This last week we were confronted with the unexpected. We have a situation we have been diligently trying to resolve for almost two years. For the last two months, we have been walking down one path, trying to reach agreement with the other party. Last week, an unexpected court date completely changed course and placed us in the exact opposite situation of what we had been working toward.

The unexpected

This unexpected change has thrown us for a loop. More than anything, the path we were on was a final resolution. It was not going to be easy. It was actually going to be excruciatingly painful. But, it would have meant ending the stress and chaos that has enveloped our lives for two years.

That’s what I am finding hardest about this unexpected path we are on. This change hits us in many ways. Financially. Relationally. So much more.

My mind and emotions have been all over the place in the last week as I try to come to grips with what this means for us. I’ve been working to prepare my kids for the changes. Roy and I are trying to find common ground and face this situation as a team to make sure it doesn’t come between us.

Finally, toward the end of last week, I reached one simple conclusion: I must learn to trust God in the unexpected.

I have come to realize that with each time we face this situation, with each thought about this situation, with each dollar spent on this situation…I must consciously choose trust in God. Trust in His provisions. Trust in His ways. Trust in His sovereignty. Trust in His plans for the future. Trust in His promises.

With each fear that crosses my mind, I utter a prayer. A prayer for God to give us strength. A prayer for God to do what only He can do. A prayer for unity. A prayer for peace. A prayer for the strength to forgive. A prayer for His love to shine through us. A prayer for vision to see what He is doing. A prayer for His perfect peace in the midst of the ongoing chaos.

A prayer for help trusting Him in the unexpected.

As I have contemplated how to trust God in the unexpected, I’ve found four words that are helping me.

Release

1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

It is so easy to quote and yet so difficult to do. Casting all our anxiety on Him means we lay it at His feet…and we leave it there. If you are like me, it is really easy to go back and pick it up again, lugging that anxiety with me everywhere I go.

But that’s not what God wants from us.

He wants us to not just lay it at His feet. He wants us to cast it…toss it…throw it…to Him. Just as He throws our sins as far as the East is from the West, He wants us to throw our fears and anxieties so far and so hard that we can’t ever find them again. He wants us to lose them in His goodness and grace. He wants us to remember that He came to bear our burdens for us. He wants us leave these burdens for Him through prayer and thanksgiving so His perfect peace which surpasses all understanding can guard our hearts and our minds (Philippians 4:6-7).

Forgive

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25

In this situation, we have been wronged and maligned. We have been made out to be horrible people. We have been the object of lies and insults. Truth has been twisted until we look like horrible, awful people.

And it is so incredibly easy to focus on these things.

But…I am not perfect. I have been forgiven much. It was my sins that put my Savior on the cross, crucifying Him. If He can love me enough to forgive me, then it is my responsibility to forgive these people who have wronged me.

The truth is, forgiveness sets me free. I look back at my life, at the moment I chose obedience to God and He allowed me to forgive “the other woman,” the one who had an affair with my husband. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but I will never forget the peace that flooded over me as I walked away. That heavy burden of anger and bitterness melted away and I felt freedom for the first time in many months.

I want that freedom that comes with forgiveness.

Pray

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 5:44

I think I’ve said it repeatedly in the above paragraphs, but God really laid it on my heart to pray for the other parties in this mess. To ask Him to pour out His love on them. To ask Him to touch their lives and give them a hunger for Him. To ask Him to use me to be a light in their darkness.

If I’m honest, I don’t want to be those things. My human nature wants them to suffer. But I know that’s not what God wants. He wants me to see them as He does: as helpless, harassed sheep in need of a Savior.

So I ask God to give me eyes to see them as He does.

Hope.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19

Honestly, I have no idea what God is doing. But I do know that God is good. I do know that He is never silent but always working. I know that He is working things for our good even when it seems life is falling apart. I know that when we make a mess of this life, He is always there making a way. I know when the unexpected happens, He wants us to forget the former things and trust Him to make something new.

With God, we are never without hope.

We can trust His character, knowing that above all He is a good God who loves us more than we could ever understand. We can believe His promises that all things do eventually work for good to those who love Him. We can cling to His promise that He has good plans for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us. We can trust Him to one day have us put together and our feet for good.

It may not be today. Or tomorrow. Or next week. Or even next year. But we will see redemption. We will see Him repay the years the locusts have eaten. We will see His goodness in our lives.

Until then, we must cling to hope.

Lord, the unexpected. It sometimes strikes fear into us because we are human, prone to wander. Give us the strength to step forward into the new future you are planning for us. Be our strength in the midst of our weakness. Let your power and love pour through us as we strive to trust you in the unexpected. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

 

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