Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gratitude Grows Green Grass

Lately, it seems as if every time God exposes a weakness in me, He exposes that same tendency in one of my children, using their struggle to expose the depth of my waywardness and how it has shaped their bent toward the same sin. I cannot explain in words the vulnerability I am experiencing as I see just how helpless I am without the Lord. Without His wisdom. Without His strength and help. How can I train and steer my kids in His ways when I am still learning so much? When I still stumble and fall in the same areas? When I still need His intervention as much and more than they do? When they need wisdom I have yet to obtain or master?

After posting Monday’s blog on “The Greatest Vanity of All: Discontentment” (, I was ambushed by several of my kids with every reason why the grass is greener on the other side of a decision we’ve made for them. When my response failed their expectation, depression set in. Not just for the disappointed one, but for me. As I took it all to the Lord and cried out to Him, begging Him for wisdom and to guard this child’s heart against resentment and any ensuing hardness, He showed me the root of the issue: discontentment. Then He showed me the one who’s modeling it: me.

I am convinced a substantial source of discontentment is comparison. We look around and focus on what others have and we don’t. What others get to do and we don’t. What others don’t have to do and we do. What others don’t have to deal with and we do. We decide others have it better and hang our happiness on becoming like them. We tell ourselves it will make us look better, feel better, belong better. And our disappointment stealthily drags us to state of despair.

Is contentment even possible when we’re not getting what we want? When things seem impossible? When we’re convinced something beyond us at the moment is the key to our happiness?

Yes! Paul explains in Philippians 4:11-13: “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Contentment is learned. It is not a natural state, but it can become the one that feels most natural to us, through Christ who strengthens us.

In my experience, it is not accidentally discovered or acquired through osmosis. It is a conscious choice to renew my faith. Faith that our heavenly Father loves us and knows what’s best for us. Faith that He is in control and does not allow what He does not intend to use for our good. Faith that He will direct our paths, directly or through those in authority over us, as we seek His will above all else. Faith that He is always there, as Hebrews 13:5 tells us: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’"

We can be content with exactly where we are, what we have, and what He has us doing because  He will never leave or forsake us. That is our source of contentment. It is the only thing that matters. The only thing of eternal importance.

Gratitude naturally flows. Or we might have to be intentional about that as well. Either way, thankfulness douses discontentment. We can’t be grateful and unhappy at the same time. We can’t be grateful and full of fear. We can’t be grateful and angry. We can’t be grateful and grumpy. We can’t be grateful and resentful. We can’t be grateful and envious.

It’s up to us.

Choose faith.

Practice gratitude.

Learn contentment.

There are brown patches, bald spots, chinch bugs, pits, and burrs in the grass on both sides of every fence. Only God knows the side on which you belong. Trust Him. Praise Him. Let Him be God as you become more wholly His today. Find the green grass where you are today, and thank Him for it.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Greatest Vanity of All: Discontentment

There’s something about the shower that clears the head. It could be the fact that it ranks among the top two locations where I can think without interruption or distraction. The cascade of water brings a fresh perspective on life, and long showers are even more mentally productive! In my crazy world, this tile haven is a place of defining epiphanies – answers and revelations that have changed my perspective and steered my course. One such paradigm shift occurred months ago. Face-to-face with the decline of once youthful physical attributes giving way to evidence of aging, discouragement attempted to weasel its way into my mind. When the Holy Spirit directed my thoughts to the things in my life that have improved with age, it occurred to me:

The only things that get better with age are the things that matter most to God.

I weighed both sides of the scale. On the side of aging: wrinkles, softening eye lids, age spots, gray hair, varicose veins, stiff joints, arms that flap in the wind, body parts shifting, a slow widening. On the side of things that matter: believing God more fully, serving Him more completely, understanding His love and grace more deeply, loving my husband sincerely and wholeheartedly, growing in patience, using my time more wisely, seeking forgiveness more quickly, taking offense less often, having fun with my family more often, recognizing little things and letting them go more instantaneously, dealing with issues more directly, loving and serving others more sacrificially. As Paul says in Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”

I press on with every year, but I had a bit of a setback these last few weeks. A struggle with the flesh. A temptation toward plastic surgery to the point of researching it, seeking my husband’s opinion about it, and even casually discussing it with my doctor. I think I knew deep down I couldn’t and wouldn’t go through with it, but the idea of fixing something that disappoints me lured me into a mindset of discontentment. As I went back in forth with myself, I continued to lay it before the Lord, confessing my unhappiness and vanity. By His grace, I could never go forward without peace from Him, so I kept returning to Him. He answered this morning. In the shower. With a “No.” And there was total peace. All of a sudden, contentment returned. The thing I desired to change lost it’s importance.

Solomon declares in Ecclesiastes 1:2, “‘Vanity of vanities,’" says the Preacher; “‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’" He’s saying, “Emptiness of emptiness – everything this world offers and dangles in front of us is ineffective, hopeless, unsuccessful, unproductive, and futile.  Pride, conceit, narcissism, arrogance, and self-importance – it’s all worthless. A vapor.”

Isn’t our entire life a vapor? According to James 4:14, our life is “a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

If our time here is but a breath, are we spending it chasing emptiness, or are we chasing the things that matter most to God? When we get caught in the downward spiral of discontentment, what do we do? How do we get back to the things of God?

Tune in Thursday! God answered that in the shower too!!!

Lord, by your grace, turn our hearts toward contentment as we become more wholly Yours today.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Scorched: A War of Two Wicks

I’ve reached a stalemate with my candle. It will no longer burn at both ends, no matter how much I push it. Perhaps age has something to do with it. It seems only months ago that I could string together endless nights of five and six hours of sleep to no significant consequence (or so I reasoned). Drink a little extra coffee, push a little harder, and I could keep on ticking. It’s not that I have an aversion to sleep. I actually love it! But the pile on my plate (many times self-stacked) and being married to a man with an opposite body clock seems to have locked me in a sleep-deprived season that has lasted more than fifteen years.

James is a night owl. I am a morning person. I say this with complete love, and he would agree, there is no hope for him to defect to daybreak. Several hours of wake time precedes any hope of a productive conversation with him. But catch him at night after he’s shifted from work-mode to husband- and daddy-mode, and you can ask for the moon. (Timing is everything around here.) If life didn’t dictate a semblance of normal hours, he would happily piddle until the wee hours of the morning.

In order to enjoy time with James at night and take advantage of my favorite early hours of the day, I have become slave to both circadian rhythms, getting up early and staying up late, squeezing out precious chunks of slumber in the process. The problem is, I just can’t do it anymore. My body has staged a protest and I don’t have the energy to fight it! Yet, I struggle with what to give up. How to make it work.

God answered this weekend with Psalm 127:1-2:

Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.

Once again, a verse I’d read many times before leapt off the page and pierced my heart and understanding. I looked it up in the Greek and referenced my handy-dandy dictionary for a few words, and here’s what the verse means:

Unless the one true God establishes, rebuilds, and causes the home and household within to continue, efforts to establish, rebuild, and cause it to continue will be hard, exhausting, slow, difficult, and ultimately empty, worthless, and full of deception. Unless the one true God has charge of and watches over that place, the one in charge of watching and protecting stays alert to a pointless, meaningless end. Therefore, it is useless to make an early start and delay sleep, to devour and burn up the bread of pain, hurt, toil, sorrow, hardship, offense; for the one true God grants, consecrates, delivers, and produces sleep to His whom He loves very much.

The Lord spoke directly to my heart: “Shauna, if you are getting up early and staying up late, sacrificing sleep in the process, the things you are doing are not of Me. If it is of Me, you will have plenty of time during the day to do what is required for my purpose, and you will have plenty of time for sleep.”

Talk about convicting! If I continue to pursue my own agenda, to-do list, pleasures, and the like, it’s going to continue to be hard, and I’m going to continue to experience emptiness at the end of my exhausting days. Not that there aren’t times when an extra push might be needed, or sacrifice required, but as a rule, God used this verse to tell me that when I am about God’s business and allowing Him to guard over the things and people in my life, I can then spend my time on what He desires for me, and that will include plenty of rest.

As I evaluated my typical day and the things on which I spend my time, the things that get me up early and keep me up late, I saw through new lenses – truth lenses. Sacrificing sleep in order watch a television show with James is not God’s work for me, no matter how I justify it. Not that there’s anything wrong with enjoying some check-out time with my husband at the end of the day. But giving up sleep for it isn’t God’s wisest and best choice for me. Spending time on Pinterest or Facebook or otherwise wasting time on the internet to the delay of completing what truly is important in a timely manner so dinner and other evening activities can begin at an earlier more “normal” time is probably not God’s wisest and best choice for me. Exercising at 7:30 p.m. in order to satisfy my emotional compulsion and addiction to adrenalin, thereby pushing dinner to 9 p.m. and everything else later is likely not God’s wisest and best for me. Turning down a child’s request for bedtime reading because I’ve made poor choices during the day and have to spend that time accomplishing the “musts” before I go to bed is probably not God’s wisest and best for me or that child. Operating from a place of exhaustion, irritability, and glass-half-empty is probably not God’s wisest and best for me.

Funny how God’s timing works. I found myself sharing this with one of my kids today. I see so much alike in us – driven, achievement-oriented, quick to take on one too many things, and slow to let anything go. Worn out and exhausted, this child appears to be on a last leg and doesn’t know how to get off the wheel. As God shows me the err of my ways and the answer of His word, He is giving me opportunity in the midst of the lesson to learn alongside my kids. I find myself baring my struggles before them so they can see we wrestle with the same things, bringing me face-to-face with the fact that so much of what our kids learn from us doesn’t enter through their ears but their eyes.

God has spoken. They are watching. What will I do? Will I continue in the same habits, or will I conform to God’s perfect way for me – staying on His task and finding rest at the end of the day? Will I live before them with myself as almighty or Him?

“Lord, I want to live each day busy only with what is important to You, but how do I know what that is? Where the rubber meets the road – in the moments when I’m deciding where to commit my time, whether for five minutes or five hours – how do I know? Thank you for opening the eyes of my understanding when the choice is obvious. I worry, Lord, about the times when all the choices appear to be good but only one is Your best.”

Jesus said in Matthew 11:30, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." If my efforts are hard, exhausting, slow, and difficult; if I’m feeling empty, and worthless, and I’m deceiving myself in order to justify what I’m doing, then perhaps my labor is not of God. This verse is a good litmus test. God’s work can be exhausting, but it’s usually invigorating at the same time. There’s peace, confidence, and restoration in the midst of it. A useful, virtuous, manageable burden. Light in weight. Not driven.

Discerning the difference is the key. The how is by the Spirit (see May 21’s blog, “Steward Well by Wind, Bit, and Lead”). Once again, there’s not a formula I can apply to guarantee my own success at following God. It’s the relationship. The constant dialogue with the one who knows all things, sees all things, and orders the steps of the righteous. A continual asking, seeking, and knocking. Living with ears wide open, heart’s antenna pointed to heaven. Loving Him through obedience.

Thank You, Lord, for always answering with Your word as we become more wholly Yours.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Monday, June 18, 2012

Stitched by One Knit in the Womb

No one has ever accused me of being the crafty sort, especially not my kids. While other moms finger painted, pulled ideas from fully stocked craft closets, made homemade play dough, and otherwise provided hours of creative entertainment for their children, my kids were lucky to find a coloring book and crayons. I admire – yes, even envy – moms who take the time to gather ideas, stockpile supplies, oversee the making of monumental messes, and then happily clean it all up like June Ward. I don’t suffer from a complete lack of desire and skill. It’s more of a mental block: I can’t see where I’ll find the time or energy. In fact, the idea of attempting some of the cute ideas that flood the internet, and especially Pinterest plum wears me out, so I just don’t do it. The ironic thing is I enjoy fashioning beautiful things with my own hands when I take the time to do it. As I’ve learned new skills with my girls through our Keepers at Home group (, I’ve discovered the delight it brings to create something from nothing, to make gifts, and to acquire useful skills that can be used for my home and others.

Given my history, then, it will come as no surprise when I tell you it took me four years to complete “Miss Monica.” I remember the day I brought her to my mother-in-law’s senior sewing group at the local community center. The instructor actually laughed at my choice of Brazilian embroidery pattern. Perhaps a bit ambitious for a rooky. Never one to start small, however, I set to work, determined to show her I could do it.

Painstakingly formed one stitch at a time, with months between stitching sessions, her stamped pattern slowly transformed into the perfect southern belle and the personification of this girl’s desire to have lived at a time when corsets, petticoats, and ridiculously full, flowing gowns were worn at all times.

Imperfect stitches, coffee stains, and even spotted with a few drops of blood from a needle prick or two, Miss Monica awaits a good cleaning before taking up permanent residence on my wall. She is more than a skill mastered or a project conquered. She is a story. She is lazy weekends spent at my mother-in-law’s place in Galveston Bay complete with bike rides, shell hunts, lazy afternoons swinging in a hammock, go carts, golf carts, blow up pools, and seafood cookouts. She is car trips to escape for a few days, sometimes just with James, and other times the whole crew. She is plane rides blanketing family vacation. She is Friday afternoons stitching with daughters and friends. She is a summer sewing group with other moms and daughters, Jane Eyre on CD, and my mother-in-law sowing into us with her decades of teaching literature in public school. She is new friends and expanded horizons. She is time travel to the early 1800s when life was slow and women spent long afternoons sipping tea, working with their hands, and spending time together.

She is Psalm 139:13-16 (NLT):

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

I gaze at her, amazed that my fingers formed the flowers, stems, hems, sun hat, and parasol. I knit her delicate parts together. I chose the colors and details for each feature. When I take her in, I am amazed. Did my hands really do that? It makes me wonder: Is this how God sees us? Does God stare at us in wonder of what His hands knit together? As I admire her, does He admire me? Not because I’m admirable, but because I am His handiwork. Does He stand back and enjoy the work of His hands?

I see her imperfections. They don’t bother me. They’re part of her story. They make her uniquely mine. Different. Set apart. In the same way, God remembers we are dust. Our imperfections simply part of the story we tell of His perfection and redemption. His strength in our weakness.

I feel assured. I don’t have to be perfect, just His. Saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Humble. Willing. Ready. Obedient.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Our value isn’t in who we are to this world or how we measure up to its standards.

Our value is in the fact that He made us and completely changes and transforms us in Christ Jesus so that we have what He knows is required to make due use of the opportunities He prepared for us before He even saved us.

I don’t know that anyone appreciates “Miss Monica” the way I do. Perhaps the way God appreciates us because of what He put into us.

Lord, may be a beautiful display of Your glory as we become more wholly Yours today.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Exit or Endure: Is Marriage Really Worth It?

Two and three deep at the edge of the pool, alternating between cheering and waiting, a conversation spoken freely over my shoulder burdened my heart. Two swim team moms discussed the drudgery of staying with their husbands until they raised their kids. Commenting on the beauty of the neighborhood hosting the meet, they joked about moving there one day…without their husbands. “Don’t think the thought hasn’t crossed my mind,” said the one. “I’ll be your golden girl!” cackled the other.

I wonder if their laughter masked hurt and disappointment. My heart broke. For them. For what they’re missing. For friends whose marriages are failing. For husbands and wives who are divorcing. For families being torn apart. For kids who will hurt now and repeatedly with every reminder that things aren’t as they once were.

I was in my mid-twenties when my parents divorced. I don’t know that age made it easier. There were that many more decades of life as I knew it. I don’t know that it made it harder. I am thankful for the decades we were a family unit. I do know God hates divorce, and divorce is never easy because it’s a tearing apart, even if it’s necessary. Even if it’s biblically justified for adultery. Even if it’s better for all involved. I don’t dare judge. It’s not my place to say you’re right or wrong if you did or do. I did. My first marriage ended before the four-year mark. And it hurt. The Lord has healed, and yet, it remains a permanent part of my past. My husband did. The Lord has healed, and He formed our beautiful family, and yet, that first family remains broken. Kids affected forever.   

No matter how old you are, your broken home follows you.

God restores, and joy comes in the morning. Praise Jesus!

What ignites me, though, is that joy comes in the midst, but people give up so fast they never experience it! Not everyone, but a lot. I guess that’s what breaks my heart about conversations like the one I overheard at the swim meet. James and I had a disastrous first three years of blessed union. We went from the brink of divorce three months after our vows to a miserable existence of anger, bitterness, fighting, financial strain, and family adjustment. And then the Lord accosted our hearts and began a work He continues to complete in us. And our marriage is good. Very good. Not perfect, but built on a foundation of salvation by which Jesus supplies the power necessary for self-sacrifice in order to be married His way. Putting the other first. Caring about each other’s needs before our own. Giving each other consideration and respect. Making what’s important to the one important to the other. It is full of passion, friendship, support, laughter, companionship, kindness, and love. It has times of frustration, selfishness, anger, annoyance, and irritability met with repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. We are one. No, three – a three stranded cord with Jesus that is not easily broken, as Ecclesiastes 4:12 says: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

If we’ve been the victim of divorce or have divorced in the past, there may not be anything we can do to change what’s happened, but there’s a lot we can do as husbands and wives NOW to protect, preserve, and strengthen our marriages to make sure what God joins together no man tears apart, including ourselves. Not an enduring, but an enjoying. Not a surviving, but a thriving. Not a getting by, but a flying high.

It starts with Jesus. Our relationship with Him. The kind that’s transforming, changing the fiber of who we are, starting with our hearts. Transforming our minds. Loving Him so much we’re willing to do what He says, even when it goes against ever fiber of our being. Even when we don’t think our spouse is doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Even when we don’t think they deserve it. Staying in the marriage when going seems to be so much easier. Extending forgiveness when it’s undeserved. Acting in love when what we feel is hate. Showing kindness when wounds are still fresh.

Like Jesus, who “because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame” (Hebrews 12:2, NLT).

Interesting, endure in the Greek means to remain. He remained on the cross. He could have left, but He didn’t. He bore mistreatment bravely and calmly. He thought little to nothing of the dishonor and disgrace. Not to say it was no big deal. Rather, the magnitude of the joy for which He was destined put the suffering in perspective.

It can be the same in our marriages. The magnitude of the joy for which we are destined when we do marriage God’s way can help us put any suffering in perspective.

Sometimes we’ll have to endure. Bravely and kindly. We’ll have to remain married even when we could leave (and want to!). Endure suffering. Humble ourselves. Seek help, if needed. Stay put.

It’s worth it!!!

I am shouting on paper here, holding your arms and looking you straight in the eyes with as much conviction as I can muster and attempt to transfer! I have seen what God can do, in my marriage and up close and personal in several others that were destined for divorce court.

There is joy set before us!!!

Genuine wedded bliss.

Jesus, be our glue. Heal, restore, and strengthen our marriages as we become wholly Yours today.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Dreaded Confession

There are some phone calls I dread. Top on the list are those that involve any kind of conflict or confrontation and the kind I made Wednesday.
“Hi honey. What are you doing?” I inquired gaily.
“Oh, working. What’s up?” James replied, completely unsuspecting.
“Are you having a good day? Are you in a pretty happy mood?” I asked with a smile on my face and butterflies in my belly.
“I guess I’m doing all right. Why?” he answered, suspicion dawning.
And the confession begins. Ten eyes watching. Ten ears listening.
That morning, car loaded with a few of my kids and several extra, I headed to Houston to see the new paleontology exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Life-size dinosaur skeletons populated a room the size of a football field, floor to ceiling. Exiting “Jurrasic Park,” we headed for the African safari. A quick lunch, and it was on to gemology, where gazillion-carat precious stones called my name! The tornado IMAX provided the perfect ending to a perfect day.  We meandered through the strategically situated gift shop (located on the way to the exit), where I said no a hundred times and a hundred different ways, and made our way to the car.
Everyone loaded, I noticed a note on my windshield.
“Hmmmm. What could that be?” I wondered.
 It had a person’s name and phone number and read:
“call about scratch on car”
Sinking feeling.
Circling the vehicle, the events of that morning flash through my mind. We arrived to find the entire museum district crawling with school buses, cars, and droves of people. Parking was impossible! I finally found the parking garage and the perfect parking spot. The kind that inspires the hallelujah chorus! There was one of those “Compact Cars Only” signs, but those are only a suggestion, right?
“Mama, should we really park here?” my daughter questioned.
“Awww, I’m compact enough. It’ll be fine!” I confidently assured her, and every other kid as they debated the wisdom of my decision. I crept within a quarter inch of the wall, checked to be sure wasn’t hanging out more than a few inches more than the compact car next to me, and we headed for the elevators, a straight shot from the parking spot sent straight from heaven just for me!
Staring down the crunched in rear passenger bumper upon our return, the wisdom of the compact car sign dawned on me. It was for my own good! In those narrow spaces, SUVs like mine extend into the space needed to clear the turns between levels. Being that mine was the last car before the turn, it was an extra foolish parking job!
Crawling in my seat, fully aware of the folly of my ways, I came clean.
“I knew we shouldn’t have parked there!” one exclaimed.
And she was right.
Humbled, there was nothing to do but admit that I was wrong. James was exasperated, but as always, gracious. He even called the man who left the note because I was scared he would yell at me for parking where I shouldn’t.
As we drove the hour home, kids engaged in their own conversations, I thought about my sinful, rebellious heart. That’s really the bottom line. I saw a parking space. I wanted it. I ignored authority and wisdom and took it. I made it work because that’s what I wanted. Forget the museum and the fact that the garage is their property and therefore under their authority. Forget that the sign is there for a reason. For the protection of my property.
I thought about God’s word. Like the sign, there for our own good. For our protection. And yet, how many times do I ignore it because there’s something before me that will bring more immediate gratification?
Deuteronomy 6:24 explains, “'And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day.”
Conversely, “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways” (Proverbs 14:14). That was me  making that parking space work no matter what. My way.
God’s word, His ways, His commands and statutes, are all for our good always. To preserve us alive, which in the Greek means “to sustain life, live prosperously, live forever, be restored to life and health, to revive from sickness, discouragement, faintness, death.”[i] They are an expression of His goodness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Thank you, Lord, for Your goodness that leads us to repentance, even when it comes in the form of consequences for our foolish decisions. Thank You that You use the unfortunate, uncomfortable, and even tragic to lead us to repentance. It is all Your goodness, Lord. Thank You for working in us to become more wholly Yours today.
Shauna Wallace
Holy His

[i]       Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for chayah (Strong's 2421)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 10 Jun 2012. http://

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sovereignty that Exceeds Our Simplicity

Working through the proof of my book, Holy His: Hope for Life and a Nation Wholly His, I feel a bit like the Israelites – going the long way! I thought it a good day to share an excerpt:

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Exodus. It is rich with demonstrations of God’s power, His faithfulness, His sovereignty, His mercy, and His deliverance in the face of overwhelming odds. The Israelites’ journey from bondage to blessing is one extended spiritual battle, just as our own journey through life will be. Helpless and defenseless in the natural, just like us, the Israelites are totally dependent on God, and He repeatedly proves Himself exceedingly and abundantly able to protect and provide. His methods don’t always make sense, and they won’t to us either. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts (Is. 55:9). But I guarantee His ways are best, His ways are for our good, and His ways serve a far greater purpose than our immediate need. His sovereignty exceeds our simplicity, and in trusting God as the sole Source for all our needs, most especially the battles we face, we can trust Him to fight for us.

Why did God allow the Israelites to suffer the uncertainty of ten plagues? Why didn’t He just miraculously deliver them right after the burning bush? He certainly could have. Why didn’t He just make a way for them to take the plunder they needed and walk right out of Egypt without going through any of the uncertainty and frustration? Why does God allow us to walk through battles and trials when He could say a word and just give us what we want?

As we face difficult times – battles in our lives – we must remember one thing: It’s all about Him, and because He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present, we can trust Him even when we don’t understand what’s happening. In Exodus 7:3-5, God reveals the purpose to His plan: “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). God’s redemption extends beyond just His people. He wants to make sure those around them know He is the Lord, too. The same holds true for us today. When God has us in a time of struggle, and we are in the fight of our lives, He doesn’t just want to redeem us. He wants to redeem those around us by a show of His mighty power that leaves no doubt in any of our minds as to who is the Great I Am.

God wants and deserves glory in our lives, and sometimes His greatest ground for glory is our surrendered lives, no matter what He orchestrates or allows in order to demonstrate His might in us and our circumstances. In yielding our lives to Him no matter what He chooses to do, we are placing our complete trust in His sovereignty and goodness, knowing His plan for us is always good and His protection in battle is impenetrable when we follow His directives exactly. When Pharaoh finally releases the Israelites after the tenth plague leaves his nation wailing and mourning the loss of their first-born males of every kind, human and animal, “God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, ‘Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.’ So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea” (Ex. 13:17-18). What appeared to the Israelites to be the worst, most inconvenient route was in fact for their own protection. To return to Egypt would be to return to bondage, and God was making sure they retained the freedom He’d given them. In the same way, for us to return to our sinful ways would be to return to bondage, so God may take us on a path that is long and inconvenient in order to make sure we retain the freedom He’s given.

After the Israelites plunder his people and leave, Pharaoh again changes his mind and pursues them. Because of God’s choice of escape route, the Israelites face what they think is certain death by the Egyptian army or drowning in the Red Sea. The assurance Moses gives them holds true for us today when we find ourselves with no options and no way out of our circumstances:

Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace (Ex. 14:13-14).

Our battles are not ours; they are God’s (2 Chron. 20:15). In the Hebrew, stand still means to “station oneself, present oneself.”[1] When we station ourselves with God and present ourselves to Him for His use, obeying His word and His commands, we will see the salvation – the deliverance, prosperity, and victory[2] – of the Lord! He will do for us what He has done for His people throughout time. I get so excited when I realize God can draw from His unlimited resources to defy all human limitations to show Himself mighty in and through our lives. He is ready and able to do for us what He did for Moses and the Israelites! He is ready to fight our battles for us. All we have to do is obey Him. 

In Exodus 14:19-20, when the Israelites are trapped between the Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea, “the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.” Wow! Do you see what the Lord stands ready to do for a faithful and obedient people? He literally blinds the enemy while giving light to His people so the enemy CAN NOT GET TO THEM! This is our same God. He does this same thing for us today when we believe Him and do what He says!!! He will blind our enemies so they cannot get to us.

Next, the Lord tells Moses to stretch out his hand over the Red Sea, and He causes the sea to divide, and the Israelites cross on dry ground. When the Egyptians follow, in verse 24-25 it says, “Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the Lord looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians. And He took off their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.’” Don’t you just love it? Can you picture the confusion and panic on their faces as they realize an unseen force is messing with them? The Lord is the God of heaven, Creator of the universe, Maker of all things, Ruler of all. What is it you think is impossible for Him to do???

When each and every Israelite reaches the other side of the Red Sea, the Lord instructs Moses to stretch his hand back over the sea, and the waters swallow the entire Egyptian army. Moses simply obeys, stretching his arm to the sea two times, and the Lord does the rest. That’s how the Lord works. He fights our battles. He wins our wars. We just have to obey Him. No matter how odd or impossible it seems, we just have to obey. “Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses” (Ex. 14:31).

Lord, thank You that You go before us, fight for us, and do great things in our lives as we become wholly Yours today.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

[1].      Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for yatsab (Strong's 3320)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. Accessed May 2, 2011,

[2].      Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for yĕshuw`ah (Strong's 3444)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. Accessed May 2, 2011,

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sleepless and Struggling, He Restores My Soul

My sweet husband is the most dysfunctional sleeper. Not to confess that over him, but truly, he can barely piece together two consecutive nights of quality sleep. It’s been that way for the fifteen years we’ve been married. He’s tried everything natural and over-the-counter, and most recently, a prescription medicine for shaky leg syndrome left him with a violent case of the hiccups. Not only did he not sleep, but I didn’t either as spasm after spasm pierced the air and shook the bed! After that fiasco, I finally went undercover, literally, and tried something we dismissed as ludicrous for years because it was simply to simple: a bar of soap under the sheets. Guess what? It worked! He slept like a baby for a week before he even knew it was there. I have no idea what compelled someone to try soap under the sheets or why it works, but we sleep with two bars just for good measure. 

I, on the other hand (and much to his annoyance), can achieve REM asleep within twenty seconds of my head hitting the pillow. Last week, however, I felt his pain when insomnia plagued me several nights in a row. I raided his stash of failed natural remedies to see if one might help me regain instant snoozability. I tried reading to make myself sleepy. To no avail. After several nights of this, I managed to fall asleep at a somewhat decent hour, only to wake myself up thirty minutes later screaming at the top of my lungs.  I don’t remember what was happening in my dream. All I remember is the terror I felt as I came to and the perplexed face of my husband as he tried to wake me from my nightmare. I laid there indefinitely waiting for my heart rate to return to normal, apologizing to James again and again because I just knew he had only then fallen asleep and would now struggle to regain a state of slumber, and praying the dream would not recur.

The next night, bedtime approaching, I found myself piddling. Avoiding the inevitable. I was frustrated with chasing sleep, and I DID NOT want to experience another nightmare. I was scared! As my eyes betrayed my exhaustion, I decided to give it a try. I’d just read a Christian novel until my eyelids were too heavy to hold open. Something that didn’t require thought and would distract me from obsessing. Then the thought occurred to me: Read scripture, not fiction. Though my body continued what I was doing, my spirit paused. Scripture held the answer. To quiet my mind. To calm my fears. To produce sleep. Rest.

I crawled in bed with my iPad and pulled up Psalm twenty-three. It’s the first one to come to mind for comfort. Sort of an old “stand by.”

Sleepy but wide a awake, I started to read.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (verse one).

Thank you, Lord, that You watch over me. Thank you that I shall not want for sleep.

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters” (verse two).

Lord, as I fear sleep for the bad dreams it can bring, make me lie down in green pastures and lead me beside still waters.

“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (verse three).

My spirit paused again.

Peace pierced me as I read His words. The truth of His voice setting me free. It was my soul that craved restoration. That needed renewal. Assurance. Help.  He would be the One to turn my desires, emotions, mind, will, and very substance back to Him.  

That’s it, Lord! My soul needs to be restored! Lord, forgive my sins and cleanse me now as I rest in You. Restore my soul. Lead me in the paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake!

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me” (verse four).

Lord, as I walk through this valley of insomnia and nightmares, I will fear no evil. Thank you that You are with me. I take comfort from You now.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over” (verse five).

My enemies cannot prevail over me, Lord, even in my sleep. I rest in You now, trusting You completely.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (verse six).

Embrace me with Your presence, Lord.

As I read each stanza and dialogued with the Lord, eyes closed, He ushered me into the sweet sleep He promises in Proverbs 3:21-26:

My son, let them (wisdom, understanding, and knowledge) not depart from your eyes – keep sound wisdom and discretion;

So they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck.

Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble.

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.

Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes;

For the LORD will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.

(parentheses and emphasis mine)

No nightmares. No fitfulness. Just peace.

Melatonin has nothing on the word of God!

Thank You, Lord, for sleep! For restoring my soul. Lead us in the paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake, and help us to always keep wisdom, understanding, and knowledge before our eyes as we become more wholly Yours today.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His