Boast In The Lord January 25th, 2023

Psalms 18:30
“This God—His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.”
I had an entirely different verse, message, and prayer written for this at the end of November, and then my whole world shifted a few days later in early December, when my stepdad, Roger, went to be with the Lord with an abruptness that I still haven’t truly come to grips with. It was completely out of nowhere, and I have never had to lean harder on the Lord and my faith than I have in these past few weeks.
My original verse was Isaiah 55:8-11. Then my mind swung to Psalms 46, which has provided me endless comfort over the last sixteen months. I landed next on Romans 8:26-28, confident those were the verses I was supposed to write about while praying silent prayers through streams of tears for feelings that had nowhere else to go but into Jesus’ loving arms. 
I kept praying for the Lord to give me the words He wanted me to boast in Him about, and on a quiet evening sitting with my family, now reduced by one larger-than-life member, there it was. All of the verses I had been turning to and ruminating on, summed up so perfectly, and so succinctly, that I actually chuckled softly to myself when I saw it. God always speaks to me in as few words as possible, which has been incredibly helpful to me in discerning between His messages for me and my own meandering thoughts, which was no surprise, because as David so beautifully wrote in this letter of love and praise to God that is Psalm 18: “This God—His way is perfect”.
God’s ways are not our ways, and for good reason. That is such a hard concept to understand when we don’t understand His why, and for me more so in this season, His why now. I have learned not to question His ways, as the Lord always knows better than we do.  But His timing, especially when it hurts so terribly, and markedly more so when it’s too soon according to our own plans, has been the why that I have uttered in my prayers over and over these last weeks. We should have had so much more time as a family, but in a literal heartbeat, he was gone, shorn from our family with the force of an avalanche that has upended our lives in ways I never anticipated.
Pruning hurts. Pruning is messy. Pruning always looks like far too much has been removed. But the One who knows the tree knows just how much needs to be cut off for healthy and abundant growth to occur after those deep cuts have been made. Trusting the pruning process is so easy to speak of and rationalize when you’re not the one being pruned. When the pruning is a beloved member of your family, it’s so difficult to see how He will work that loss for our good and His glory, yet we can rest that the Word of the Lord proves true, and that He will work every circumstance for the good of those of us who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
That the Lord comforts us in the midst of these prunings and allows us to take refuge in Him, ministering to our fragile humanity in our grief and our trials is such a beautiful gift. His grace and mercy, both of which are so underserved by us are immeasurable. These past weeks, as I have leaned on God more than I ever have in my life, shock and disbelief have been tempered by a palpable strength and a peace that truly has surpassed all understanding (Philippians 4:7), and I am beyond grateful that I do mourn, yet not as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). The Lord has been my shield, my buckler, the wings under which I have found refuge, protecting me from the depths of my grief and pain. He has been my rock, helping me stand firm when the sands are shifting around my feet. Most importantly, Jesus has been the force that has calmed the tempestuous seas of the greatest storm that has ever brewed inside of me.
This Lord - His way really is perfect. He reminded me as much in the days leading up to Roger’s memorial service. I had been struggling with the right verse to choose for the prayer cards to honor the man who was like a father to me, and then I got a little nudge, a memory of a text message he sent me on a random Wednesday night in 2021 a few months after he found out I had come to faith. All it said was: “Ecclesiastes 3:1-8”. I replied immediately, emphatically agreeing, and then commented that He gives us seasons for a reason and quoted Romans 8:28. Roger responded, ever so wisely: “It’s how you get through anything. Some wounds get better but never totally heal. You need Him. It takes issues in life so you understand everlasting life”. Without the valleys, we would never appreciate the mountaintops, and while the views are beautiful, the frozen and snowy peaks only provide sustenance when the waters run down the mountains towards the valleys, allowing for life and growth to flourish.

Heavenly Father, please help us to remember that Your ways are perfect, when they look anything but. Thank you, God, for not allowing us to stay where we are at, but that you care enough to put people and circumstances in our path to help guide us, grow us, and ultimately draw us closer to You. Help us to trust when we can’t see a clear path, and to remind us that You are a lamp to our feet, generously allowing us to only see the next few steps ahead of us, as if You illuminated our entire journey, we would never take another step. Thank you, Lord, for walking with us through our fragile humanity with the promise that while we endure seasons, none of them are ever wasted. That You would allow pruning in the most painful of ways, while being our strength and comfort to endure those thankfully terminable seasons is a love and grace so magnificent, deep, and pure, it hurts to truly fathom when we consider how undeserving of it we really are. Please provide us with Your peace, Your strength, and Your light to carry us through as we surrender our temporary sufferings to You, and praise You in spite of our circumstances, our Father in Heaven, and Lord of all creation.
In Your Holy and beautiful name, Jesus, I ask and pray.

Lindsay Ingram

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