Feeds:
Posts
Comments

“So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

I Samuel 16:11 (NIV)

 

There is one more aspect to this analogy that God didn’t show me right away.  It wasn’t until about two weeks later, as I was getting ready for bed, that I realized probably the most important truth and it filled me with peace.

DSCF0923

I was thinking again about David, and God reminded me of the bigger picture of his story.  David didn’t wake up one day and say, “I think I’ll work my hardest at tending sheep so that I can be king one day.”  Maybe he did, but nowhere in the Bible do I remember reading that.  God describes David as bold, a risk taker, someone who wasn’t afraid because He knew that whatever God brought him to, God would get him through.

I realized that while I see the whole story laid out in front of me, David didn’t.  He faithfully day in and day out tended sheep for years, all while God was using that training field to help David learn how to lead His people.  Here’s what God reminded me of last night…

God brings us to our destiny, our purpose through many different paths, but there is always a similar theme:  There is always a testing period to help us get ready to step into the role God has for us.  During that testing, God requires us to walk in faith, putting our feet in the river and trusting that He will show up after that first step.  There are also times that God remains silent and asks that we continue walking, holding onto the past promises and continuing to put our trust in Him.

But the most important truth God reminded me of is this.  God didn’t stir up in David’s heart the passion to campaign to be King Saul’s successor.  No, God sent a prophet to Jesse’s house (David’s father) and only when the prophet was persistent and asked Jesse if he had any other sons did they even remember David and called him out of the field to talk with the prophet.  God brought the opportunity to David, after a series of tests and time of maturity.  And, even after the promise was given, David experienced even more preparation before fulfilling the role God chose for him.

As I drifted off to sleep last night, not only was I thankful for the sheep God has me tending, but I slept peacefully knowing that when I truly let God lead, I have faith that He will orchestrate it in the best way. He won’t let me miss my visit with the prophet (whatever form that is to take).  He will bring the prophet to me or me to the prophet, His choice, when the timing is right.  In the meantime, my role is to keep fulfilling the role of sheep tender to the best of my ability.

© Cheri Swalwell 2016

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2 (NIV)

 

Last time we were together, I spoke about how, for me, I had to give up my dream completely so that God could rewrite it His way, in His time.

While reading the above book, Chase the Lion, I realized something else.  If I truly allow God full access into my life and full control over all I do, then eventually the desires of my heart will be fulfilled on a level that I can’t even imagine.

In the meantime, instead of pouting or doubting or worrying that I’m missing the boat, or as in the past trying to manipulate and control which dream gets realized when, I’m content tending the sheep that God has entrusted to me faithfully.  And tending the sheep is part of fulfilling the desires of my heart.

I love the two jobs I’m privileged to do.  There are aspects to the jobs that are stressful and difficult and out of my comfort zones, but other aspects that were handwritten just for me.  If I was writing or speaking or whatever God has planned for me full time, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing now.

WP_20150415_07_03_53_Pro

Being a full time mom has always been the deepest desire of my heart.  Stepping away from publishing 7 books in one year or the multiple projects that are on my plate right now wasn’t a hardship.  I didn’t feel God tell me, “You’re finished.”  I heard God tell me, “For this season, your children need more of you.”  I’m treasuring that extra time.  I’m choosing to use this time to dig deeper and learn important truths that God wants to show me.  I’m using this time to invest in a healthier me, something else God has asked for obedience in.

I believe God will give me tangible goals again for 2017.  I’m sensing that God is getting ready to do a change in our family.  Do I know what?  No.  I’m actually enjoying the wait… knowing that I can trust God that whatever change He’s getting ready to make, it will be for our good.  It might be demanding, it might take me out of my comfort zone, but if God brings us to it, then God will show us how He wants us to fulfill it.

Unlike a few months ago when I had to plan everything out and tell God what the next step is, I can honestly say that more days than not I’m very happy to stay tending the sheep.  I have full confidence that since I’m listening and waiting expectantly for God’s command, I won’t miss it when He tells me to start walking.  I’ll even go as far as to say, that if for some reason I do miss it, God will tell me again until I get it.  In the meantime, I’ve grown to really love the sheep.  I hope they get to come along with me when God tells me it’s time to pick up and move on.

© Cheri Swalwell 2016

“More often than not, you don’t discover your dream.  Your dream discovers you when you are faithfully tending sheep.”

Mark Batterson, Chase the Lion

 

I have spoken many times about the journey that God has allowed our family to travel. We fasted and prayed and dedicated it to Him long before we took our first step, knowing that whatever took place, we didn’t want any part of it unless He had covered it in His blessing.

When we first started walking, I confidently told God how many months I would be working another job before transitioning into writing full time.  My plan was to write fiction and be traditionally published.  I’m sure God belly laughed in Heaven when a year later I was writing strictly nonfiction and was walking the path of self publishing while still working my day job.  Almost five years later, I’m not working that day job anymore.  I now have switched fields altogether and have two jobs I’m juggling in addition to writing.

I hope you hear my heart when I say I’m not complaining at all in the above paragraph – just describing how I thought I was asking for God’s blessing in my journey by fasting and dedicating it to Him; all while telling Him my plans, wanting to retain control.

DSCF0782

Each year of the journey, during my January fast, God would reveal to me the goals He wanted me to fulfill.  One year it was to write and self-publish 7 books… and 7 books were self published.  Another year it was 4 books and then still another year… nothing.  I didn’t hear one single goal for 2016.  I thought maybe my radar was broken or maybe instead God was saying, “Keep doing what you’ve been doing.  Do it again.”

However, during 2016, while I made a little headway with some of my projects, what I heard instead was “This is a season for your family.  Make them your priority.” It took me a few times of asking God to make sure I heard Him correctly, but He made it clear that this season was for them.  That coincided with me sensing a change in my spirit.

I realized that for me, someone who really wanted God in charge but had control issues she was dealing with, I needed to let go of the dream completely.  By that I mean this: Instead of trying to tell God what direction I planned to go, I needed to let go of my expectations and instead continue to walk faithfully in the areas I know He told me to walk, waiting for further instructions before changing directions.  Instead of using my time daydreaming about what I envisioned my dream to look like, giving it up completely and allowing God to repaint the picture for me… trusting that it would look far more spectacular when He was finished than anything I could have dreamed up myself.

Come back next time while I share the rest of the story…

© Cheri Swalwell 2016

How Big is My God?

“The size of your dreams may be the most accurate measure of the size of your God. Is He bigger than your biggest problem, your worst failure, your greatest mistake? Is He able to do immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine?”

(Mark Batterson, Chase the Lion)

 

For about two weeks this fall, I really struggled with the above thought.  I was angry, depressed, and felt hopeless.  I was losing my dream and felt like there was no reason to continue doing what I knew I was supposed to be doing.

I think a lot of it was fatigue.  Fall was very busy for us and there just wasn’t any downtime.  The weekends were as busy as the weekdays and some weeks I worked double the hours I usually worked, while still trying to juggle full time chauffeur duties to three busy kids as well as my own activities.

I think the combination of busy and tired laid a great foundation for the enemy to start to work on my thoughts.  Somewhere in the hustle and bustle of busy, my quiet times weren’t as meaningful.  I wasn’t spending the time with God that I usually did and therefore, the enemy had more of an opportunity to whisper lies for me to choose to believe.  And the biggest lie I was struggling with was this… why should I believe that God wants the best for me? I’m not better than anyone else and just because I’m His child, that doesn’t guarantee safety or blessings or a way out of the struggles that have taken up residence on my front porch.

WP_20150629_13_32_59_Pro

It wasn’t until I read Pastor Batterson’s quote above that it hit me.  Yes, I do believe God is bigger than my biggest problem, worst failure and greatest mistake.  More importantly, I do believe His Word when it tells me He is able to do more than I could possibly imagine.  Not because I deserve it; simply because He loves me.

That is why I should believe that God wants the best for me.  Nothing I’ve done… all because He sacrificed His Son, Jesus, on the cross.  To allow other thoughts to take up residence in my heart tells God that His Son’s death meant nothing.

When I remembered that one simple truth, it changed my mindset.  Instead of seeing hopeless, I reminded God that He is working behind the scenes.  Instead of getting angry, I chose to look at situations from His point of view.  By making the simple change to see situations through the lens of God’s love, it truly does change everything.

It’s also helped that I have started to take better care of myself.  God’s best doesn’t include running ourselves down to fumes.  Jesus was the example on earth for us and He took time out to recharge and refresh regularly.  We are encouraged to do the same.  While I am still remaining open about the God-sized dream I would love to fulfill someday, I’m confident that God has one in mind… and that He will reveal it to me in His time, His way.  Until then, I am continuing to trust the promise that He is more than able to do more than I could ever imagine or think to ask for.

© Cheri Swalwell 2016

God Restores

“Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace     you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.” Isaiah 61:7 (NIV)

 

I have talked about this subject in the past but God has laid it on my heart lately so I wanted to use it to encourage others out there today. While I don’t know what you are facing today, God does, and I believe He wants to use this to encourage you.

There are multiple references in the Bible to how God restores.  It’s always giving more than what was lost.  The story of Job?  He lost everything except his wife and a few “friends”; yet when the test as over, God gave him double of what was lost.  Do you remember Hannah in the Bible?  She was barren for years and cried out to God repeatedly to fill her womb.  She promised Him if He chose to bless her with a child, after he was weaned, she would give him back to God to be raised in the temple and dedicated to God’s service.  God did bless her with Samuel, and I always interpreted I Samuel 2:21 to mean that God restored her home with double for her sacrifice by allowing her to have two more sons and two more daughters.

I have clung to two verses in particular when traveling multiple trials in my life, when it seems as though there is no end in sight:  Joel 2:25-26 when God promises that He will restore “the years the locusts have eaten”  and also Isaiah 61:7 (above) where God promises His children will receive a double portion and will rejoice in their inheritance… “everlasting joy will be” theirs.

img_0503

In addition, God has a special blessing for martyrs.  In Revelation 20:4, John saw in a vision… “the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”

Since God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and He chose to show us through multiple examples the way He restores the evil of this world, we can be encouraged that God will do the same for us, no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in.  The key

is in how we respond to the circumstances we find ourselves in.  What if you are facing a serious illness or your spouse is facing a serious illness?  I have a friend I grew up with years ago who is fighting the battle of ALS.  As I watch how he and his family are fighting with faith and family, never wavering in God’s sovereignty or the possibility of a miracle, I envision when he sees Jesus face to face what he will be greeted with.  While the locusts may steal some of the years he was hoping to share with his wife and daughters, I believe wholeheartedly that God will restore those years in a way that none of us can ever think or imagine.

What about the husband or wife who is patiently and lovingly caring for a chronically ill spouse?  Or the parent who is lovingly caring for a terminally ill or chronically ill child? They may share many years together in this life, but those years are filled with heartache due to pain and suffering instead of joy. What about the faithful husband or wife who stays in a marriage that isn’t abusive but isn’t loving either?  They remain committed, asking God for a miracle but that miracle never comes this side of Heaven?

I believe that God blesses here on earth as well – have witnessed it firsthand as well as heard many stories from others who have suffered how God showers blessings on those who suffer – whether in a closeness they might not have otherwise experienced, a maturity and deeper love for God or many other ways.  However, today, I want to encourage those who don’t see an end in sight to the suffering.  I believe God will restore the lost years.  Remain faithful.  Keep trusting that God is working a miracle – whether this side of Heaven or waiting for you when you see Him face to face.  God sees.  God knows.  God is right beside you.

© Cheri Swalwell 2016

I was given a wonderful opportunity to be a guest on the following radio show tomorrow morning. Here is the link if you are interested in listening live:

Spoken_from_the_Hear_Cover_for_Kindle

Step Into the Light with Patti Shene on Blog Talk Radio
January 2, 2017 8:00 AM MST
Guest: CHERI SWALWELL

embracing-the-adventure-kindle-cover

Listeners can access show via telephone or over the internet\\

TheAdventureContinuesKindle - FINAL

Internet URL:   http://ow.ly/bnjp307Cnpx

Listener call in: 646-564-9712

I Became That Mom

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?” Isaiah 49:15 (NIV)

 

I was at the doctor’s office with my older two children today.  We were there for something minor.  One was sitting listening to headphones while the other was just chillaxing.  One of the questions on the sheet was whether or not the child was ill today?

Since we weren’t sitting directly next to each other, I bumped my child’s foot and asked (probably a little too loudly), “Hey, are you sick?”

At that question, a man who was down the row slightly lifted his head and looked at me.  You know the look.  The one that says, “Did you seriously just ask your child if they are sick today?”

I ignored the stare but after a few minutes, inwardly had a good laugh.  I had finally become that mom.

When my kids were little, I couldn’t imagine not knowing every single thing there was to know about them.  After all, I changed their diapers, controlled what and when they ate as well as set the stage for when and how often they would sleep (or at least rest).

Now I’m nearing the other side of parenting.  The side where even though we live in the same house, I couldn’t tell you if my children have eaten breakfast every single day, when or if they have brushed their teeth, or if they feel sick or not.  Now that I’m on that side, I realize that’s perfectly normal.

DSCN0884

I still visit the grocery store at a minimum twice a month to stock up on healthy food and pleasing snacks, I wash clothes at least twice a week and I cook dinner the majority of nights each week.  However, as they get older and more independent, my job physically as a mom lessens but my job emotionally as a mom ramps up.  I don’t walk into the bathroom to supervise them brushing their teeth anymore (I trust that they are doing it).  I don’t sit over them while they eat breakfast or even pour their cereal.  I trust if they’re hungry, they will pour their own bowl.

However, as my job to take care of their physical needs lessens, maybe more than ever, they need me to be there emotionally.  To listen to their terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.  They need me to say, “Yup, I understand how you feel.  I felt the same way.”  They need me to rub a shoulder or give a quick hug when they are stuck staying up later than my bedtime finishing a paper, studying for a test or taking time to chillax after a long week.

So, yeah, I had to laugh silently when given the evil eye by the man down the row in the pediatrician’s waiting room. I wonder if he has kids…

© Cheri Swalwell 2016