Monday, January 30, 2012

Making Faces

A slight turn of the lips. No, that won’t do. What if I tilt my head slightly to the right? Nope. Too posed. And my nose! It looks like an arrowhead planted in the middle of my face! Maybe if I laugh. A most unnatural attempt produces a most unnatural smile. It’s no use! I just can’t get the perfect smile to do the trick. It’s for the photo on the back of my book, Holy His: Hope for a Life and a Nation Wholly His. I want my smile to be candid, not posed, so I’m practicing in the mirror. Only the faces I’m making now no longer include a smile. I imagine the fly on our wall, laughing hysterically at the a grown woman making faces at herself in the mirror. It must be one of the world’s most well-entertained flies, I ponder, as I picture it watching a certain grown man I know strike muscle man poses in the bathroom mirror. Now that produces a natural smile! Countless undetected moments of secretly observing a child experimenting with expressions in a mirror spring up next. And I’m reminded of the faces my daughters and I captured on the computer avoiding school work one day. With a click, we could completely alter our image. And I think of the different faces we put on in our lives. The faces we wear so no one will know the real us. The faces we don so no one will know we’re hurting. Or flawed. The faces we wear to hide our shortcomings and struggles. The faces we put on in church so we think we will be accepted by all the flawless people who must not have any of the problems we have. The masks that isolate us, lie to us, and keep us right where the devil can mess with our heads.  

I once heard someone say never to compare our insides to another person’s outsides. It’s a trap, and we’ll always come up wanting. Don’t we all do it, though? We wear masks, and then we compare what we see and think of ourselves – our inside, private thoughts, attitudes of the heart, habitual sins, shortcomings, secrets – to the mask someone else secures to hide the very same things in their lives. And we walk around lying to each other. Not intentionally or maliciously. We’re just not telling the whole truth. Not that every detail is everyone’s business. But hiding who we really are, what we really are like, the things with which we struggle, the things someone needs to know about so we can be held accountable, the things we need to share so others can pray for us and help us, is really withholding truth.

Maybe it’s just me, but I confess, I fall into this trap. There was a time in my life when I lived there, and it was exhausting, oppressive, lonely, and desperate. I was terrified that someone would know the truth about me, and when they did, they would no longer accept me. So I wore the mask of perfection. My home was perfect. My hair was perfect. My clothes were perfect. My face was perfect. My job performance was perfect. I could be absolutely dying inside, marriage falling apart, failing my children, depressed, insecure, and unraveling, and I would flash a posed smile and tell you everything was great. It was miserable. And if I stumble into this old skin now, it’s unbearable.

It’s another way God’s truth set me free, and still does today. Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” The New Living Translation puts it like this: “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.” When I start faking it, you can be sure of several things: 1) There’s an area of my life that’s disappointing me, and it’s most likely an area of sin, 2) I don’t want you to know about it, 3) I don’t even want God to know about it, and 4) I am looking to others to accept and affirm me as okay so I don’t have to deal with it. So I put on my mask of perfection, seeking man’s recognition rather than trusting the Lord. I neglect time before the Lord in order to make my outsides lovely, when what I really need is time on my face before Him so He can make my insides lovely again. I’m worshipping the wrong god. Seeking the wrong approval. Fearing the outcome. Trying to find acceptance in what the world says brings happiness rather than trusting God to be who He says He is to me. Always. Even when I’m having a bad day. Or a bad week. Or a bad season. Trusting Him to mean it when He says He is slow to anger and quick to forgive, that His mercy endures forever, that His love for me is deep and wide, His salvation eternal, His forgiveness complete. That Christ’s righteousness credited to me is not  based on my performance or lack thereof.

When we find ourselves ensnared, Lord, how do we break free? Proverbs 29:25 answers: “Whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” Place your confidence in the Lord, Shauna, be boldly secure in Him, and you will be inaccessibly high – too high for capture. That’s what it means in Hebrew. When my trust is in Him, I can’t be ensnared. I’m out of reach. I’m safe. Even from my own traps. What does this look like? I look in the mirror. An extra seven pounds changes the way my clothes fit. Thoughts of disappointment over my imperfect body begin to stir. If I’m not a perfect size four, people won’t think the same of me. The familiar pattern lurks, ready to tighten the chains. But God’s grace doesn’t let go. Doesn’t disappoint. The same grace by which I am saved through faith turns my eyes from the mirror to Him. It’s You, Lord, I want to satisfy me. Time ticks as I try on another outfit, holding out for the ideal combination that will make me look and feel good. The extra time allotted for the Lord shrinks with every change of clothes. Compulsion threatens. But God’s grace doesn’t let go. Doesn’t disappoint. His grace turns my eyes from the mirror to Him. Time with You, Lord, is more important. Whatever I wear matters not compared to what I need You to do in me today. The perfect hairdo becomes a ponytail so I can have time in the word. I allow the women at the brand new church we’re attending to pray for me when I miscarry, sobbing under their loving touch when I’d rather put on the “I’m doing fine” face and run and hide. It’s sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly in order to encourage another, when I’d really rather no one know. It’s trusting God as THE SOURCE of all I need.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with looking good, exercising to stay fit and healthy, aging gracefully, having clear skin, pretty hair, nice clothes, etc. But when I’m spending more time and energy on that than I am with the Lord, there’s a problem. When I’m hiding struggles and faking fabulous, there’s a problem. It’s time to trust in the Lord.

Trusting God comes when we love God. Loving God comes when we become acutely aware of His grace. Of our complete ineptitude. Of our inability to do one thing to put ourselves in His grace. Of His gift. Undeserved. Of the fact that He seeks us out. He saves us. He sets us free. We don’t do anything to earn it. We can’t. And it’s clear. He is trustworthy. “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper;  I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Heb. 13:6).

Let’s be real. With God. With each other. Let’s trust Him so we can be genuine with one another. It’s a risk. No one likes to be vulnerable. But He won’t let us down. Even if another person does, He won’t.

A simple verse keeps coming to mind. “Let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no” (James 5:12). Be who you say you are. Be who He says you are. Be real, in Him. With Him. Because of Him. For Him. That He may be glorified.

Thank you, Lord, that “we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Humbled by His grace, longing to be more wholly His,

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Great Escape

Milling about the airport gift shop, T-shirt purchase in hand, James and I discuss the best approach for lunch. Surely the Charlotte airport would have better choices. We meander through security. Nothing like killing time in the airport. “I’m dying. Let’s split a snack to hold us over,” I suggest. The bagel place looks pretty good. “Let’s get rid of our bag and then choose,” James says as he walks on. We have an hour to spare. It’s 2:50 p.m. According to the information I recorded in my phone, we are in great shape. Passing the arrival/departure screens, something compels me to check the departure status of our flight. Destination city Charlotte. Found it. U.S. Airways. Yep, there it is. Departure time: on time for 2:50 p.m. “2:50 p.m.?!?!?!” I question out loud. Run! There’s the gate. Less than 100 feet. “Are we too late?” I ask with bated breath. “We’re way past departure, ma’am. It’s a good thing we’re running a few minutes late!” Too frazzled to feel embarrassed quite yet, we head down the tube. Whew! That was close. Thank you, Lord! That had to be a work of the Holy Spirit that made me check that screen. Thank you for heading off a serious marriage encounter of the most uncomfortable kind. We step on the plane. Our seats are reassigned. So much for slipping on unnoticed! Hiding behind the partition at the front door, we wait while the flight attendants reorder passengers. Hiding my fluster, I settle our bags beneath the seat in front. I look up pensively, making sure the sparkle in my eye communicates my playful need for mercy. I give James the “Isn’t this funny, honey?” look. I get a different look in return. “Baby, we have got to do something about you checking your information!”

I’d love to say this is the first time something like this has happened. Memories of another very similar travel fluke flood my mind. It’s Hawaii three years ago. Killing time before our nine-hour return flight, I happen to call on the status of our flight. Panic strikes. There is no flight number matching the one I have. “What do you mean there’s no flight with that number? It’s the one on my confirmation!” I counter. The airline reorders our travel to get us home, a significant feat for six travelers, but not before my husband reaches the farthest edge of patience. After a 5 a.m. layover in Los Angeles, and another several hours later in Dallas, we finally make it home. Exhausted, everyone heads to bed. That evening, as I unpack my carry on, I stumble upon a silly little email in my travel file for our trip. It was from the airline months before our trip alerting me of the flight change for the return leg of our journey. The realization of what I’d done still registers in the size of my eyes and the flutter in my belly! Crossroads. Do I continue to let James believe it’s all the airline’s fault, or do I confess? When I tell you I had no recollection of that email, I am telling you the truth. My brain works like that. I’m a list and sticky note kind of gal. Once I write something down, I don’t have to keep it in my brain anymore, so I don’t. James, on the other hand, keeps everything in his head. It would simply get too crowded up there for me! Consequently, I released all memory of that darn email once I printed and filed it. The problem is, the email got buried behind some other papers, and I never looked that carefully at my file. The confession went smoother than I thought it would. I think it’s the “Isn’t that funny, honey?” look that does it every time.

Sitting on the plane we almost missed Tuesday, the lesson sinks in. Yes, I need to check and double check my information. I think about its application to my walk with God. First Thessalonians 5:21 says to “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (NASB). Colossians 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (NASB). Test everything against the word of God to see if it is truth. I assumed the information in my phone was correct. I never checked the original source: the confirmation email for our flight. Assumptions can be very dangerous. The way to protect ourselves and escape precarious situations is to go to the source.

Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Correction stands out to me. Correct information. The truth versus a lie. Speaking of the last days, 2 Timothy 3:13 tells us, “Evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” These are dangerous times, and if we don’t read and study the Bible for ourselves, we won’t be able to recognize the lies. The imposters. And that’s a most dangerous place. We must be able to discern between true and false prophets. True and false teachings. The truth about ourselves and who we are in Christ. The security of our eternal inheritance. The forgiveness of our sins, past, present, and future. Our best defense against deception is truth, especially when it comes to the word of God. We can’t just take someone else’s word for it. We’ve got to dig in and find out what it says for ourselves. All of it.  We must know Truth to recognize the Liar.

Many of us grew up with certain beliefs, things we were taught and simply accepted as truth. Growing up, I picked up the belief that what God started in the spirit when He saved me by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, I had to maintain through personal effort and performance. Since I chose to put my faith in Jesus, it stood to reason that my continued choices would put me in good or poor standing with Him. His favor and blessings, I subconsciously resolved, were dependent on my ability to please Him in some way. When my failures overwhelmed my good performance, and those days were and are many, I shied away from God. I couldn’t even imagine how in the world He could keep loving me. It was a path of continual disappointment and deflated hope. You probably would never have known it by looking at me, but inside, I had a lot of doubts.

My 2011 trials exhumed my doubts and thrust me into God’s word for truth. For myself. To see it and absorb it and apply it because God spoke directly to my heart through His word. I believe one of the most critical things the Holy Spirit did was bring me to a place where I was willing to be shown where I was wrong. That’s difficult with long-held beliefs. It’s uncomfortable, but I believe it’s the only way to know the truth. I prayed that God would show me His truth straight from His word, not from any man’s teaching, so I would know it was Him. I asked Him to show me where I was deceived. And He is faithful. If you ask, He will answer. He unveiled His grace. And its ramifications. That God exerted His holy influence on me to turn me to Christ, and He exerts His holy influence on me to keep me in Christ. Since He saved me and gave me the faith to respond, I had nothing to do with it. And so why in the world would my efforts be required now to maintain my salvation? What a relief! That’s what truth does. It sets us free.

Do you have beliefs you’ve simply accepted because it’s what you’ve been taught all your life? Do you know that you know that you know what the word of God says? Do you have questions you’d like answered? Do you seek guarantees? Scripture is full of them! Do you have areas in which you need the truth to set you free? My friend, get in the word. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you through the scriptures you read and study, to give you understanding of what it means and what He wants you to do with it. If you read it and don’t understand it, ask for help. He hears. It’s one of His guarantees.

So I’ll check and double check. God’s word and our travel itineraries. Just in case. And I’ll thank God for His unending mercy when I fail at due diligence and end up in a pickle, like Tuesday, flying home. And I thank Him for James, and his patient endurance with fifteen years of marriage to a young woman who had and has a lot to learn. Happy Anniversary, baby. I fall more in love with you every day. And that’s the truth.

May His grace draw you to His truth in all things today as together we become wholly His.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Alien Giggles

Bedtime avoidance holds a top spot on my kids’ list of favorite pastimes. James and I are continually impressed by their creativity and tactics in eeking out an extra fifteen minutes. Around 11 p.m., our Hollywood-worthy actress and filmmaker bounced onto the love seat in our bedroom with her latest feature vignette. This thirty-second hidden camera expose documented the unexpected secret life of our most reserved child. Candid Camera pales in comparison. Tears streaming, I laughed to the point of an excellent ab workout, resurrecting fond memories of runaway giggles with my own mother. Tickled by something silly, snickers would escalate to pure hysteria. Beat red, nostrils dancing, the corners of her mouth would threaten her forehead, and her laugh lines multiplied. Well on my way to a place of no return, from somewhere deep, uncontrollable laughter would seize my belly. Carried away by one another’s contorted countenances, exhaustion setting in, we’d dab our eyes, breathe deep, and if we were lucky, gain control once more. A lighthearted moment. I smile remembering. Last Thursday would have been her seventieth birthday. She’s been gone eight years. I miss her. Terribly. Yet she lives on in the giggles. Ours, and those shared with my daughters.

A recent memory surfaces in my belly. Schoolwork loomed, distraction knocked, and hysterics answered. Schoolbooks mingled with lunch dishes, and the new laptop hummed silent before us on the kitchen island.  A young finger finds the camera icon. It’s Photo Booth. Three familiar faces stare back. Something deep within me stirs. Click…we’re aliens! Another click…we’re Earnest P. “Know what I mean, Vern?” Click. Click. Click. It’s a house of mirrors. Our faces stretch and twist triggering fresh waves of gut-wrenching guffaws. Cares fall away. Only the moment matters. A carefree memory forever etches itself in my gut.

Reading Hebrews chapter eleven, alien images resurface. “By faith (Abraham) lived as an alien in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise” (Heb. 11:9 in the NASB). Grinning, my mind’s eye peers down memory lane. Bug eyes full of wonder stare back from ballooned foreheads. One click returned our features to normal, but we can never be normal again. As children of God, this is not our home. As sons and daughters of a heavenly Father, we are sojourners. By faith, we, like Abraham, live in a foreign land, a strange land belonging to another. John 15:19 says, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” We don’t belong. By faith, we are “heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him” (Jas. 2:5), “looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10 in the NASB). Eyes fixed on an eternal home, how do we survive the meantime? How do we live in the world without becoming part of it? Comfortable. Belonging.

First Peter 2:11 tells us, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” What does that look like, Lord? Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:12, “For our boast is this: the testimony of our conscience, that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.” I consider the underlying meaning of the words Paul selected. Simplicity. Haplotēs in the Greek. We are to conduct ourselves with “sincerity, mental honesty; not self seeking, (with) openness of heart manifesting itself by generosity.”[1]  And with godly sincerity, so our conduct reflects “the things of God; whatever can in any respect be likened unto God, or resemble Him in any way; (as) God’s representative.”[2] Conduct examined under the Son’s light and found pure. Alien to this world for sure. I linger a bit longer on the Greek meaning of “the testimony of our conscience.” Not our actions. Not our works. Not what is seen with the eye. Rather our motives. The secret attitudes of our hearts. Our thoughts. And our conduct is simply the witness that attests to our conscience, where we glorify God. Or despise Him.

First John 2:15-17 sums up our extraterrestrial existence:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
Living in the world without loving the things of the world. Lord, how? “Not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God” (see above). There it is again. Grace. Charis. “The merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, and increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of Christian virtues.”[3] He does it in us. And we sojourn. In our promised land today – the abundant life promised by Jesus. Fixing our eyes on our future promised land – eternity with Him.

My husband LOVES a good space flick. From Planet of the Apes, to Alien vs. Predator and Cowboys vs. Aliens, he’s seen them all. Even the ones that never quite made the big screen. The eyes get dreamy. The final frontier beckons. And Hollywood transports him to outer space hours at a time. Try as I might, my avoidance tactics occasionally fail, and I find myself perplexed over the absurdity of it all. It simply makes no sense to me.

Just as we shouldn’t make sense to this world.

Lord, perplex those around us today by making us more wholly Yours,

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

[1]        Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for haplotēs (Strong's 572)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 22 Jan 2012. <
[2]        Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for theos (Strong's 2316)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 22 Jan 2012. <
Strongs=G2316&t=NKJV >
[3]        Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for charis (Strong's 5485)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 18 Jan 2012. http://

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's Game Time!

“When are you going to write a blog about playing Apples to Apples, Mommy?” inquires my youngest. “You should write about me being your favorite daughter,” another chimes. Several blogs post. “Are you writing about playing Apples to Apples this time, Mommy?” she asks again. And again. “Of course, baby. Yes, I’ll write about when we played Apples to Apples.” I just don’t know when.

This one’s love language is quality time. If you want her to feel loved, spend time with her. The game was a Christmas gift from family. Leveraging a captive audience as we licked our plates and wiped our mouths after Christmas Eve breakfast, she sprang, “Let’s play Apples to Apples!” Glances around the table. Who’s in? All inquisitive eyes land in one spot. Dad. Would even he say yes? Other than a continuous marathon of Friday night Monopoly six years ago, I can count on three fingers the times James has played games. He loves his family. He does not look as fondly upon games. When he does participate, he’s very creative in strategy and scoring. A close eye is required. And he’s prone to wander. He agrees! Does anyone have straps? Quick. Clear the table before he can flee. Who knows the rules? “James, are you listening?” We decide it’s best to learn as we go. We might lose him with the rules. The first green card waits for answers. “What do I do now?” James asks. “Just pick a card that contradicts or compliments the one on the table.” Cards greet one another in the center of the table. The game is on. “Where’d Dad go?” someone inquires. “James!” Out he saunters from the direction of his office. A few more cards find their way to the table. “Where’s Dad?” “James!” Here he comes from the garage. And so the game goes. Eventually, we just put cards out for him. Roping him in and keeping him there is half the fun. Laughter’s warmth lingers in the memory.

Why does she keep asking me to blog about Apples to Apples? The thought cycles in the back of my mind. Her repeated inquiries have a definite significance. Monday, I share with my Bible study group my burden for knowledge and wisdom from heaven in disciplining my children, coveting the prayers of my sister saints. Approaching my car to go home, a precious and true friend risks my toes to give me truth: “You’re seeing all this going on with your kids. Maybe you’re doing too much.” Her words register in my spirit. Hugging her tight, I thank her. And I mean it. When she says she only recognizes it because of her own tendency toward the same, I believe her. Don’t most of us wander with good intentions into the trap of over commitment? As Paul calls himself the chief sinner (1 Tim. 1:15), I am a pretty good candidate for chief over doer, allowing good distractions to divert me from God priorities. It’s not a conscious or intentional spar for the top superwoman spot. It creeps in, slow and sly, to the point that I don’t even recognize it has happened. Symptoms scream something is wrong. My heart breaks for the hearts of my children. And a friend dares to tell me the truth. Yes, Lord. Thank you for this friend. Thank you for giving her knowledge in answer to my heart’s cry, and then giving her the courage to open her mouth. I am so thankful for friends who hear from the Lord and have the boldness to speak it in humility and love.

It’s time to clean the temple. Pull every activity and commitment out of the closets and corners. Present it to the Lord and let Him determine each item’s worth to Him. No secret storage. No restricted access. All of it, Lord. Have Your way, especially in the way I am to train up my children. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he shall not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). What is the way, Lord? A whisper. Please Him. What pleases you, Lord? Faith. The focus of Hebrews 11 and our current Bible study. Train up my children in faith. Train up my children to come to Him and believe that “He is and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). Train up my children to obey, “for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (Col. 3:20). How do I do this, Lord? He answers. I love that about God! “Walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10). Set the example. In the Greek, He is saying to me and to you: Make your way, Shauna, by using the opportunities I give you, and accommodating My opinions, My desires, and My interests so that everything with which you become occupied, every act, deed or thing done, individually and collectively, will be useful, pleasant, excellent, honorable, agreeable, and distinguished. In this way, what you do will be productive and produce My fruit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22). What happens then? We are “strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Col. 1:11-12). “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (I John 3:22).

So I ask, Lord. For Your grace. For Your charis: “the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, and increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of Christian virtues”[1]. For me and for them.

Driving home from Bible study, I get another answer. Apples to Apples was a good work.

I call James. He listens. Sure we spend a lot of time in our home at the same time. Our home is our corporate office, school house, and residence. We’re here a lot. But are we spending time as a family? Are we training in the ways of the Lord. “We talk about making family time a priority, but we rarely do it,” I soberly confess. “It’s not that we have to have some unrealistic grand plan, but what about turning off the TV occasionally and playing games?” Agreement! Then a condition: “It just can’t be Apples to Apples!” he begs.

Looks like I better start finding all the Monopoly pieces.

“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Heb. 13:20-21).

Becoming wholly His through grace,

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

[1] Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for charis (Strong's 5485)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 18 Jan 2012. http://

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Trampled by the Truth

A stampede thunders above. Squawking penetrates the air as the fittest survives. If only I was actually in Africa! Instead, I’m settled in my office on a beautiful Saturday morning, visions of peace with the Lord and my morning cup of coffee chased like prey from my reality. The stampede? My children. The squawking? Cries for help as one or the other exerts their dominion over the upstairs bedrooms! The shuffle is on. Big brother moved out several weeks ago, and the girls are surveying their territory. With the wood floors complete and mom and dad back in their own abode, they can now migrate. The youngest, bloodthirsty for her own room, woke with a single mission: get the oldest sister to make her move down the hall, boot out her roommate, and victory! She can stake her claim to her very own room for the first time in her 10-year life. It’s a big day in the Wallace wilderness!

After tuning out enough chaos to complete my morning’s work on Hebrews 11, I open my journal and begin emptying me onto the page in order to be filled by Him and His will according to His pleasure for my day. More skirmishes. Higher pitched squeals. Angry words. Tattling. Are you kidding me? The words pour onto the page: “Lord, please give them your grace and turn their hearts genuinely to You. I don’t know what to do. I know only You can change their hearts. What do I do as their mom? What is it You need me to do in their training and discipline?” He answers. My lack is discipline. As my children have grown, and the rod, in my eyes, has become inappropriate, my discipline has slacked. We revoke privileges and invoke extra chores, but consistently? No. I’ve allowed their hearts to harden in rebellion. The words continue to fill the page. Who was it whose sons died because he failed to discipline? I search the word. It’s Eli, God’s priest.
Eli’s sons “were corrupt; they did not know the Lord” (I Sam. 2:12). When Eli “heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting” (1 Sam. 2:22), he confronts them, but he does not discipline them. So a man of God comes to Eli and says, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Did I not clearly reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? Did I not choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be My priest, to offer upon My alter, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod before Me? And did I not give to the house of your father all the offerings of the children of Israel made by fire? Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?’” (I Sam. 2:27-29; emphasis mine). The consequence was severe: “But now the Lord says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days are coming that I will cut off your arm and the arm of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. And you will see an enemy in My dwelling place, despite all the good which God does for Israel. And there shall not be an old man in your house forever. But any of your men whom I do not cut off from My altar shall consume your eyes and grieve your heart. And all the descendents of your house shall die in the flower of their age. Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall both die, both of them’” (I Sam. 2:30-34; emphasis mine).
More honesty: “Lord, I don’t want to put my children in danger because I don’t want to discipline. Why don’t I? Because I don’t want to deal with the reactions. I don’t want to face the reality of my own and their depravity. That’s the bottom line, isn’t it Lord? When I discipline, it reveals the condition of all our hearts.” Then it got painful: “It’s not out of love for them that I fail to discipline. It’s out of love for self.” Ouch!
It IS only by His grace that our hearts will change. It IS only by His power that we will do what He desires. Just like Eli, we have been chosen to offer on His altar ourselves as a living sacrifice. How many ways that sacrifice is required! Which more important, though, than for the life and salvation of our children.
And I close with this prayer. If you struggle with consistent discipline, too, join me. If not, pray for those of us who do!
“Lord, give me Your grace to deny self, take up my cross, and follow You. By Your merciful kindness, move on my heart to love You in behavior, not just intentions. Always. Even when it’s hard. Even when it means seeing the truth about how fallen I am and how desperate we all need a Savior every moment of every day. Give me strength to discipline. Give me wisdom and knowledge to know when and how. By Your Holy Spirit, Lord, please give me the power to do it consistently for Your glory and for their good.”
The rumbles, shrieks, and scuffles continue. My youngest hollers from the stairs. She needs help, and her sisters aren’t coming to her aid. I’m tied up and can’t get to her right away. She struggles to carry something heavy down the stairs, crying out as she places herself in a precarious situation. “Elly, put that down and wait for someone to help you. Don’t just keep going and put yourself in danger!” I holler from where I am. Quietly, in my spirit, I hear: “Shauna, put down what you honor more than Me. Don’t just keep going and put your children in danger.”
I hear You, Lord. Thank you. Make me wholly Yours, today, for the sake of my children.
Grace to you.
Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

That Sweet, Secret Place

Surely no one will see me. I’ll just run in, grab the three items the kids couldn’t find, and run out. My face looked like a war zone after an emergency facial in my never-ending quest to achieve perfect skin! No makeup. Nothing to conceal the things I don’t want anyone to see. In I rush. First aisle. Clear! Then it happens.“Oh, H-i-i-i-i-i-i…” It’s a mom from my kids’ Monday co-op. Next aisle. “Oh, H-i-i-i-i-i-i…” It’s one of our customers. We commiserate on the canned vegetable aisle together. She just got her face waxed and didn’t expect to see anyone either. Wait. Here comes someone I’ve met at several women’s events at our church. “Oh, H-i-i-i-i-i-i…” And then there was the lady I met at a birthday party a few weeks ago. So much for getting in and out under the radar! My plan was to see no one and be unseen. God’s plan was totally different. My cohort on the canned vegetable aisle happened to be on the phone with her daughter when we spotted each other. Her daughter who recently miscarried at eight weeks. “I just went through that too,” I share. Coincidence? Not a chance. “Why?” we ponder. The answer? God is faithful. “Why?” my hairdresser asked me only an hour earlier. The answer? God is faithful. Today’s post concludes this series on God’s faithfulness with the last two of ten irrevocable truths He’s shown me in a year flanked and filled with disappointment and doubt. And the overwhelming conclusion at which I’ve arrived is this: God is faithful. God can be trusted. He is good, and we can believe He will work everything, even years like yours and mine, together to make us more like Christ. Thank You, Lord. Your grace truly is sufficient. 

IRREVOCABLE TRUTH #9: God does things to show Himself mighty so others will know He is God. In my forthcoming book, Holy His: Hope for a Life and a Nation Wholly His, the chapter “Irrevocable Love: on Understanding Covenant” contains my favorite confirmation of this truth. Here’s an excerpt:
After the Israelites are in bondage in Egypt four hundred years, the Lord calls Moses to go to Pharaoh and command him to let the Israelites go. His first attempt is met with complete defiance, and in Exodus chapter six, the Lord assures Moses that He will deliver His people. Moses tells the Israelites about God’s promises, but they do not believe Moses “because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage” (Ex. 6:9). Despite their stiff necks, God is still faithful! The Lord has Moses go back to Pharaoh eight more times, and every time the Lord hardens Pharaoh’s heart (Ex. 7:3). It must have looked as if the Lord was setting Moses up for failure! How do we respond when it seems like the Lord has set us up for failure, when things aren’t going our way, and we’re in aguish and distress? No matter how it looks, we have to learn to trust God’s sovereignty and faithfulness.
Even though the Israelites didn’t know it and couldn’t see it, the Lord had a purpose so much greater than their freedom. In Exodus 7:3-5, God explains His plan to Moses:
And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them (emphasis mine).
You see, it’s not all about us! When we are in a time of waiting for the manifestation of a promise or the satisfaction of a Godly desire, we absolutely must look beyond our personal discomfort, disappointment, hurt, fear, sadness, and longing and look to the Lord our sovereign King whose ways are not our ways, whose thoughts are not our thoughts, and who likely has a plan so much bigger and beyond us than we can imagine.
Are we willing to let God use us for a greater purpose? Are we willing to let God use our suffering for the salvation of another? Are we willing to let God use our tragedy as a way to show His mighty power and the depth of His grace and mercy and love and deliverance for ANOTHER???? Are we willing to remain obedient even when it doesn’t appear to be “paying off?” Are we willing to be holy as He is holy no matter the cost and even when there doesn’t seem to be anything in it for us? Isn’t that what Jesus did for us?
Later, in Exodus 10:1-2, the Lord tells Moses: “Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son’s son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.” There had to be much frustration, suffering, and sorrow as the result of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. It’s hard to understand that from our perspective. But God clearly answers with scripture: He does things we may not understand in order that we may know He is God, our children and their children may know He is God, and others may know He is God.
IRREVOCABLE TRUTH #10: Our part is to dwell in the secret place of God Most High, a branch clinging to the vine. At the breakfast table with my two amazing friends last week, we talked of God’s goodness and the power of His word, and one friend shared the revelation God gave her about Psalm 91, one of my favorite Psalms of promise and assurance of God’s protection and deliverance. The very first verse states, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty,” and then verses two through sixteen chronicle the protection, deliverance, and blessing to those who dwell there. In order to experience verses two through sixteen, we must dwell in that secret place! As we talked, I remembered an explanation I read that week about John 15, and the two connected. The secret place of Psalm 91 is the vine of John 15:1-10. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, and we are to abide in Him. Jesus uses the word abide eight times to stress that we are to remain in Him, to be held and kept continually, to remain as one with Him. And to wait. We simply must cling to the vine, and the vine does everything else: it nourishes, and it provides the ability to produce fruit. As we as branches abide in Christ, in the secret place of the Most High, He produces what He desires in and through us. Sometimes clinging is hanging on for dear life, as I did this last year. Sometimes clinging is grasping the vine with arms raised high because there’s no other way to express our love and praise for Him. Sometimes clinging is the discipline of studying God’s word and spending time in prayer when we’re in between the valley and the mountaintop. Any time, it’s remaining in a place of absolute surrender, seeking His face, spending time in His presence, resting in His peace, studying His word, and by His grace, doing each next thing He puts in front of us.
Yesterday, chaos morphed to order as the painters left their finishing touches on baseboards and my husband transformed our children into a lean, mean, assembly machine. I wasn’t home to witness this first hand, but knowing my husband and family as I do, I have a pretty good mental picture of the likely scene. Pack mules at the hand of their master, our girls lugged every bit of our closet contents from the dining room to their rightful home while dad and son hauled furniture from the back porch to the bedroom. Pulling back the covers last night, my bed relocated from an upstairs bedroom back to the master suite, newly finished wood floors beneath my feet, I breathed a sigh of thankful relief. We made it! Not just through the wood floors, but through the year.
Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness.
Praying that we all, by His grace, are more wholly His today.
Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Sunday, January 8, 2012

His Face, His Good

Fumes waft thick in my nostrils. Every possession my husband and I could possibly pack into our master bedroom closet forms a teetering mountain on our dining room table. Whatever didn’t fall into the category of hanging clothes occupies every other available square inch under and around. As I strain to focus on writing with my fume-fogged mind, I see the mound of chaos out of the corner of my eye, and I can’t wait to restore order to my home! The glamour of replacing well-worn (a.k.a. embarrassingly soiled) carpet with wood floors alludes this “everything in its place” kind of gal. It’s driving me crazy! I dread the overwhelming prospect of actually putting everything back, but the light at the end of the tunnel begs me to hang on. It promises a perfect ending to the disorder. I just have to survive the meantime…the time of waiting for what I know will make everything better. My hope is in regaining a neat and orderly home. It’s silly, isn’t it? I’m glad to say, by God’s grace, disorder doesn’t steal my joy to the same degree it did in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait for things to be put back the way they were. But it’s not stealing my joy. Mind you, this is a simple thing. Silly and a bit trivial, really. Many times, though, we’re waiting for resolution for things that aren’t that simple. Maybe they’re even life altering or life threatening. What do we do then?

IRREVOCABLE TRUTH #7: Seek His face, not an outcome. When we face challenging times, it’s so easy to put our faith in our idea of what the answer must be. We get sick, and we set our eyes on being made well. Our husband loses his job, and we put our faith in the new job that just has to be right around the corner. We receive bad news, and we put our faith in what we determine will make it better. Naturally, we set our eyes on a particular conclusion, and when it doesn’t become a reality, we question God. Or maybe we expect nothing from God so we won’t be disappointed. Perhaps we chalk everything up to His sovereignty, and we passively resign ourselves to the position of door mat. What I’m saying might be ruffling some feathers, so hear me out. I’m not saying we shouldn’t ask for a particular outcome and have faith in His power to bring that about. I’m not saying we don’t claim His promises for ourselves, asking in faith and believing we will receive. I’m not saying that we deny the sovereignty of God, ever. What I am saying is that we set our focus on the only real answer, and that is God Himself. Not what He can do. Not what He can cause. Not what He can solve. He is more than able. But as Psalm 27:7-9 says, “Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Do not hide Your face from me; do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation” (emphasis mine). He IS the answer. He IS our great reward. He IS our salvation. Him and Him alone. And if He never does another thing for us, that is enough.
When His face is all we seek, we will always have what we need. How many times do we fall into the trap of waiting for something to meet our expectations because then we’ll be happy? As soon as I’m a comfortable size 4 again, then I’ll be happy! When my face clears up and my skin looks like that of a porcelain doll, then I’ll be satisfied. When my husband knows exactly how to make me feel better without me saying a word, then everything will be okay. When my children do what I ask the first time every time, then life will be good. When there’s always more money in the checkbook than we need at the end of the month, then we will have arrived. Don’t we all have “when…then” scenarios? In the meantime, we wait discontentedly with our unmet expectations, and we miss out on God’s face and grace in the now. When we are seeking His face and His face only, we will be in a constant state of satisfaction, and many times, we’ll find ourselves amazed that the Lord is working everything else out better than we could have asked or imagined. It really is true what Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

IRREVOCABLE TRUTH #8: When He works all things together for good, His good is to conform us to the image of Christ. Romans 8:28 has to be one of the all-time most quoted scriptures. Why wouldn’t it be? It tells us, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” For years, my understanding (which we now know is a dangerous thing!) of good was whatever I determined was a good solution to my dilemma. Challenged with a miserable marriage, I would imagine good as the perfect marriage. Facing financial problems, I would imagine good as the absence of money issues (namely, shortages!). Facing insecurity, I would imagine good as unshakable self-confidence. Facing unpleasant tasks, I would imagine good as the absence of burdensome responsibilities. Facing issues with my body image, I would imagine good as finally attaining the perfect figure without effort or restrictions to my diet. I think you get the picture. One day, God flipped on a light in my head and the scales fell from my eyes when I read Romans 8:29, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” God’s good isn’t necessarily going to line up with my idea of good. His good is always going to be that I be more like Jesus, and just as Jesus learned obedience through suffering, so do we.
When we call on His name, He answers. It may not be the answer we desire or expect, but it will be for our good and for the advancement of His purpose and His kingdom. Are we willing for things to go wrong in our lives in order for them to go right for God?

Psalm 17:15 says, “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.” Lord, let that be my measure of satisfaction today and always. I seek Your face, and Your face alone, trusting that You are working everything together to conform me to the image of Christ. And that is my source of satisfaction.
Seeking His face to become more wholly His today,

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Maybe the Shoe Is a Hand

I lied. This is not the final post for this series on the faithfulness of God. I simply cannot wrap it up yet. Sitting in church this past Sunday, January 1, 2012, my pastor suggested there might be things about 2011 we would rather forget. “Amen! Don’t you know it!” I shouted in my head. Immediately, the Holy Spirit brought pause to my thoughts: “Really, Shauna? Do you really want to forget?”And you know what? I don’t, and here’s why. If I forget the painful, frustrating, disappointing experiences of the past year, if I simply sweep them under my “let’s not go there” rug, the tender revelations, the faith-altering lessons, and the new depth of my intimate relationship with the Lord also fall victim to the memory erasing broom. In that moment, appreciation welled up within me for the hardships through which He allowed me to see, know, and experience Him in a tangible way. No matter how many shoes drop, I don’t want to forget.

Then yesterday, I sat across the breakfast table from two of the strongest, most beautiful women I know. They have something in common and I wanted them to meet: cancer. Two hours passed like ten minutes. Joy wells up within my heart. I can’t yet articulate my emotions. I’m overwhelmed with the tenderness and power of the God of all creation at work in and through these two sisters in Christ. They shared honestly about chemo and wigs, fear and faith, and the power of the word of God. And the question of why. Sound familiar? I asked that a lot this last year. It was time to go. They exchanged phone numbers, and we said our goodbyes. One friend headed to Houston for treatment, and as is the female way, the two of us who remained carried on in the parking lot. It was then, and in the car as I ran errands and hooked up for lunch with my sister-in-law, that God began to connect thoughts and dots in my head. Thus the extension to my series and two more truths to share today.
IRREVOCABLE TRUTH #5: The real question isn’t why, but how. As we set aside our own understanding, knowing that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways, there will be things we just aren’t going to understand this side of heaven. Babies are conceived but not delivered. Margins are clear and then cancer reappears. Children die before their parents. A young student commits suicide. A perfect marriage fails. Disaster strikes and suffering overwhelms a family or a nation. A 95-year-old is ready for heaven yet lingers in a degenerating body. Why? Does God allow these things to happen? Does He cause them? These are hard questions. I’ve asked them. And He always leads me back to Him. Who He is, what He says in His word, who I am in Christ, and what He wants from me. And the question changes. It’s no longer why, but how? How, Lord, would you have me walk through this challenge in such a way that You are glorified? How, Lord, do I need to be transformed by the renewing of my mind? How, Lord, can I be useful to You as I walk through this time? Talking in the parking lot, my breakfast buddy shared with me that she got to the point where she simply couldn’t allow herself to ask why any more. Thinking back on this morning’s conversation, she shared about a time when she received her chemo treatments in a large, open room with other cancer patients. Relationships were formed and doors opened to share her faith. People who at first seemed turned off by her faith would return and ask for prayer. That’s a how.
IRREVOCABLE TRUTH #6: In our suffering, we experience the comfort of Christ, in order that we can extend His comfort to others who are suffering. Second Corinthians 1:3-7 says:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same suffering which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
I have a whole new appreciation for what it means to suffer a miscarriage. I have experienced the comfort of Christ and can now share that comfort with others. I have experienced the comfort of Christ through a year of back-to-back disappointments. I can now share that comfort with others. My friends can share the comfort of Christ with each other and other cancer patients in a way that I cannot. I guarantee there is theology in the above scripture that is way deeper and beyond the simple truth I am pulling from it. As I read it, I ask myself: Am I willing to suffer that others might experience the comfort of Christ through me? Am I willing to suffer for another’s consolation and salvation? Am I willing to be inconvenienced in order that God may be glorified? Lord, by Your grace, may my answer be “Yes, and amen!”
I did a little research on the origin of the saying waiting for the other shoe to drop. According to (12/29/2011), the phrase means one is “waiting for something bad to happen which you are expecting. It comes from a famous music hall joke about a man who is woken by the drunk upstairs dropping his shoe. He can't get back to sleep because he is waiting for the second crash on the ceiling. Eventually he shouts upstairs ‘For Heaven’s sake, drop the other shoe!’” I propose to you there is no such thing as the proverbial other shoe. There is, however, the hand of God carrying out His perfect will, not just for us, but for all of mankind, for His glory, and for His kingdom purpose. First Peter 5:6-11 tells us:
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
I am no longer looking for a shoe. Only a Hand.
May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you as you become wholly His.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Sunday, January 1, 2012

When the Other Shoe Drops...and Another...and Another!

With distended bellies and cheeks sore from laughter, we waddled from the local Italian restaurant. The food was scrumptious; the fellowship even tastier. Our banter continued as we strolled toward James’ truck. Slightly ahead, James stopped dead in his tracks. Clearly perplexed, as if in slow motion, he pivoted toward us as the words spill forth:

“Where’s my truck!?!?”
The reality of the empty parking space answered his question: the truck was stolen. With the police on the phone and our youngest nearing hysterics, we packed ourselves like sardines in our friend’s sedan and headed home. With the police report filed, the house alarm on, fears allayed, and everyone tucked, we headed to bed. At 3 a.m., the police called with good and bad news: They found the truck, but there wasn’t much left of it. That was February.

Fast forward to September. It’s a girl’s night out of the purest kind. Delectable delights only a female would appreciate adorn my dining room table. Racks of fashion skirt the living room and excited chatter fills the air. It’s an evening of shopping at home with my favorite friends! Finally settling down with my plate of food, I look into the kitchen to see my son’s finger summon me. By his urgent expression, I know it’s important. As I enter the kitchen, he moves to the garage door, still beckoning me with the same gesture and somber look. Stepping into the garage, there’s James, sitting in his golf cart, head bent, labored breathing, eyes rolled back. Instantly, my heart sinks to my toes, my head starts to spin, and I think the worst:
“He’s had a stroke!”
Not really wanting to hear the answer, I ask, “What happened?!?!?” “I hurt my leg,” James responds. “Oh praise Jesus! What did you do???” And so the story unfolds. In the face of too much estrogen, he decided to golf. Alone. When alas, he spotted a golf ball. Not just any golf ball...a really, really nice golf ball. Without a second thought, he leapt like a super hero to the top of the wrought iron fence separating him and the ball. That’s when things went wrong. His foot got stuck, and as his body continued over the fence, his knee contorted in ways it never should. Laying on the other side of the fence with the very nice golf ball (which, by the way, he no longer cared much about), he was faced with getting back over the fence to his golf cart, which held his phone, and back home for help. The rest of the evening was spent in the emergency room. One knee surgery and three months of physical therapy later, he has his swing back. Life is good. And I’ll give him $5 any time he wants a new, worthy-of-jumping-a-fence ball.

Two months later, the second line turns pink again. The doctor confirms, but this time I wait to shout it from the mountaintop. At seven weeks, we witness life on the screen and the pounding of the baby’s heartbeat is like music to our ears. “Could we hear that just one more time?” we ask. It’s for real this time. Time to tell the world! And so I do. The following week, things don’t seem right. The doctor wants to see me. Watching the ultrasound screen, my ears hear, and my heart sinks:
“I can’t find a heartbeat.”
I don’t get it Lord! Why a second time? Why do you give life that never sees delivery? What have I done wrong? Is there sin in my life that is opening the door to the devil’s destruction?

What do we do when a split second changes everything? What do we do when we don’t understand the tragedy that strikes? What do we do when our circumstances challenge what we think about God and what His word tells us about Him? Jobsites were vandalized as thieves stripped copper wires from several of our company's homes under construction. The Lord moved us from our church home of eight years. And I questioned. Is my understanding of the scriptures biblically correct? Have I believed without confirming in the word for myself? If I stood on the word but tragedy still came, what did I do wrong? Why didn’t it work? Have I reduced my relationship to a formula by which I try to get what I want from God? And then when it doesn’t work, where does that leave me? If I don’t know that my beliefs are correct, then how do I pray? What is my relationship to You, Lord, if I don’t know what I believe?
In the process of crying out to the Lord for answers, He faithfully showed Himself available. Trustworthy. Holy. Sovereign. Full of mercy. Full of grace. True. When everything around us is unpredictable, unreliable, vulnerable, and changing, He is not. His word is irrevocable. He is unchanging. He can be trusted. He answered my cry, and He secured in my spirit two more irrevocable truths.
IRREVOCABLE TRUTH #3: We will lose heart unless we believe we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Between discovering and losing my second pregnancy, I had one of those sweet encounters with God. My husband and I went out of town for a quick getaway, and while he fished with friends one day, I savored the time to myself. Rising relatively early, I treated myself to my favorite $5 coffee, returned to my room, laid my Bible in my lap, and started talking to God. Suppressed struggles spilled forth as I emptied myself before the Lord. As I fervently explained how desperately I didn’t want to go through the disappointment of losing another baby, He answered with Psalm 27. The closing verses became my prayer:
I will lose heart, Lord, unless I believe I will see Your goodness in the land of the living. I wait on You, Lord; I will be of good courage, and You will strengthen my heart; I will wait on You, Lord!
Things didn’t turn out the way I wanted, yet in the midst of grieving, questioning, railing, and letting go, I saw God’s goodness in the land of the living. I waited on Him, and He strengthened my heart. He confirmed His truth in my innermost being, deep down where no circumstance can argue against it.
IRREVOCABLE TRUTH #4: Do not lean on your own understanding. When I learned I was pregnant the second time, I was convinced it was God’s way of restoring what was lost with my blighted ovum earlier that year. I connected all the dots for Him and topped the whole explanation with a big red bow. When we lost the baby, my understanding unraveled. After letting family and friends know of our loss, my sweet sister-in-law searched the Bible for words of wisdom I would find consoling. The tenderness of her extended hand of comfort was magnified by the fact that she searched what she knew would mean most to me, and she sent me Proverbs 3:5-6:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
Sometimes difficult relationships, unexpected developments, uncomfortable experiences, serious disappointments, and scary circumstances reveal our own misplaced trust and wrong understanding. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts, so as we desperately cling to Him through life’s twists and turns, our job is to believe His word. To trust. To love. To acknowledge, thank, and praise. No matter what. He WILL direct our paths. Every time, when we wait on Him. If there seems to be an infinite supply of other shoes dropping in your life, hang on to God’s goodness, to the truth of His word, and to His faithfulness. And stay tuned Thursday for the third and final blog in this series: “Maybe the Shoe Is a Hand!”
Happy New Year! May we aspire together to become more wholly His in 2012.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His