When you're sitting in the valley, sometimes you just need time. Right there in the valley. No hurry to get out. You just want to sit. Not because you feel sorry for yourself but you just want to be. How many hours would I love to sit with my hands wrapped around something warm, nestled in a blanket and staring out at the hills just thinking? Pondering God. Considering majesty. Wondering His purposes. Is it wrong for me to be here?
I wonder how long Jesus let the angels minister to Him after His fast and then temptation from Satan in the desert.
Then the devil left (Jesus), and behold, angels came and were ministering to Him. Matthew 4:11
We can't know for sure, but I bet Jesus sat there and let the angels comfort and provide for Him for more than ten minutes before moving on to begin His public ministry in Galilee. He had fasted for forty days then faced extreme temptation, maybe He let Himself rest there in that safe, comforting place for a couple days or weeks. God provided for His Son, why wouldn't Jesus just want to stay? I'd want to. And I think nestled in this safe, quiet spot, I'd like to stay a while too.
This sitting, considering and pondering is part of my waiting for the Lord, being strong and letting my heart take courage (Psalm 27:14). He comes to me here. He comforts me here, ministers to me here and waters my tiny seed of faith that it might become of bud of trust. And yes, I may cry here. But why wouldn't that be okay? God made me with emotions and He reaches my heart in the middle of my emotions.
"It's okay, to not be okay. This is a safe place," begin the lyrics of the song by Plumb. If you're in a valley, it's okay. But don't be in the valley alone. Let Jesus minister to you there. Even if it doesn't look like a structured Bible Study or devotional time. He ministers in many different ways. Just be sure you're with Him there. Real comfort comes from no other place and just as Jesus moved on to begin His ministry, in God's time we will too.
Even 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. Psalm 23:4 
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Psalm 27:13


Emotions of unbelief, joy, thrill and fear engulf me as I ponder what should be simply good news. What is wrong with me? Why can't I just be joyful? Why am I so scared to accept this new assignment from God? So scared of trusting the call, giving 100% and falling short of fulfilling the mission. The "what-if" scenarios fill my reasoning and fight to steal my joy.
The account of Joseph, husband of Mary, grips my attention (Matthew 1:18-25). Joseph, engaged (as good as married) to Mary, realizes she's pregnant and knows that he's not the father. He has not been intimate with Mary. Intimacy would wait until the wedding ceremony in the months to come. We can only imagine the sear of emotions Joseph might have felt: shock, betrayal, deceived, ashamed, anger... In my experience men are most often problem-solvers. They like to fix, so Joseph was resolving the situation in his mind: what would be best for him and his family; Mary and her family? (After all, she could be stoned for finding herself in this condition.) And then, during one possibly fitful night of sleep, something happens that cannot be dismissed.
But as (Joseph) considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus for he will save his people form their sins." Matthew 1:20-21
The word behold isn't a word we use in the English language too much, so I couldn't help but wonder its significance here. It means to call to attention something external or exterior to oneself; it often comes before words which are to be particularly noted. It's like throwing fifty exclamation points after the sentence for emphasis. It's screaming, "Pay attention, what's about to happen is huge!"
An angel comes to Joseph and says do no be afraid to take the next steps because God is doing something huge! And what does Joseph do? He obeys and he chooses to trust that everything thing the angel said was true even though he doesn't know all of the details.
There's such hope for us in this part of Jesus' arrival as the God-Man. God takes what was shameful and hard to believe and he makes it great. In Joseph's case, God implements the plan to save mankind.
Okay, so maybe situations in our lives won't be quite so huge, but our lives are important to God. Every detail of our lives is recorded in God's book of life (Psalm 139:16). And I feel like this little verse in Matthew 1:20 is for all of us, And while we're considering the things in our life we'd like to forget because it hurts, or we're ashamed, or it embarrasses us, God says, BEHOLD, I'm going to do something huge with this! Our job right now is to trust God with the details, just like Joseph did. Did you notice the first thing the angel said to Joseph? "Do not be afraid..." We need to trust without fear. We can't truly say we trust God if we hold onto fear in the back of our heads. Okay, God's given this, but if it doesn't last or work out then... That's not faith.
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we can not see. Hebrews 11:1
Faith is being confident in God's plan unfolding in your life. Trusting in every day He has ordained for your life. Being secure in the belief that He will work out all the hills and valleys of your life out for ultimate good, even though He may not tell you the outline of His plan. It's accepting what He's placed on your plate without a having a contingency backup plan.
So when you feel like me and you're afraid to trust God with complete abandon, recall the angel that appeared to Joseph, and his words, "(Your name), child of Christ, Do not fear..." to take these next steps!

What is that?

I like re-dos. Sometimes when a sentence gets said with a wrong attitude or disrespectful tone, I like to give myself or the golden heads a "try that again." I mess up all the time. I'm thankful for the opportunity to do it better the second time.
It's a daily choice, or discipline, to sit quietly before the Lord allowing Him to search my heart and reveal ways I've offended Him, the opportunities for a re-do. Actually, it's not really that much fun. It reveals what I've done wrong, and like most, I don't like being wrong.
This got me thinking about how even confession is a type of trial that builds character, and if I let the Holy Spirit do its work in me, it produces Christ-like character. But what is that tangibly? What was Jesus like as he walked on this earth? One answer is found in what I would consider the most unlikely of places, in what most of us call the "Love Chapter" of the Bible: 1 Corinthians 13. You know, the one read at weddings. What I've realized is that this chapter contains a beautiful list that begins with the value of character, then describes character that builds until we meet Christ and can literally see His every character quality.
I could be the best Teaching Director in all of CBS or writer in all America, but if I don't have Christ-like character, I might as well be a bump on a log. I could have the most awe-inspiring spiritual gifts but if I don't build Christ-like character, I might as well not have any gifts. I could be the most generous giver of all time, serving others with every ounce of my time and resources, but if I don't give and serve with genuine Christ-like character, it's all for nothing.
Christ-like character worth striving for is patient, kind, not jealous, humble, generous, courteous, puts others before myself, forbearing, goes out of my way for others, doesn't hold grudges, believes the best possible outcome about others and always gives the benefit of the doubt. Christ-like character believes and establishes its life on every syllable of God's Word. The person with Christ-like character trusts in God's protection and that God works every detail of their lives out for His glory and their ultimate good, even when she can't know or make sense of all the details.
As I build more Christ-like character, I will be sustained by God and grow more and more consistently in character until I meet Jesus face to face.

I won't perfectly attain these, but I must daily choose to obey the Holy Spirit working out these characterists in me. And when I derail, missing the mark, I'll confess, thanking for forgiveness and allow the Holy Spirit to rule and work these out again. These derailings, these confessions are a part of the adversity that builds Christ-like character.
Spend some time this week rewriting 1 Corinthians 13 for yourself and ask the Holy Spirit to begin working these characteristics out in you.


"Character is built in adversity. Character is built in adversity. Character is built in adversity..." I repeat over and over in my mind as we paddle canoes down the river in the heavy rain. I recall the gorgeous paddling weather of the day before and press on, trying my best to see every beautiful gift from the Maker and setting an example for the golden heads.
From across the river, wrapped in a poncho and perched under an umbrella in the middle of the other canoe, sits the one the engineer has coined, the "Egyptian Princess," mainly because of such requests as, "Could you not splash me?" and "Could you paddle faster?"
Meanwhile, the engine paddler on my canoe has had her fill of paddling in the rain! "That's it. I'm not paddling anymore. She's not the only princess. I want to be the princess too!"
Knowing, there was seriously little to be done about our predicament, I reasoned, "Sweetie, I'm so sorry that you weren't born into royalty. You would make an wonderful princess with your fair skin and golden blonde hair." The truth is, she is a princess of an eternal kingdom (Ephesians 1:5, Galatians 4:5).
What a creep Satan is to feed her lies that would cause her to believe that in her trialous state of paddling down the river in the rain, she would be somehow be dethroned from her heirship.
But oh how I relate! Out on a morning run, the deceiver  (Revelation 12:9) fed me a lie. Right away, I thought, This seems like a lie from Satan. I muttered some words I knew to be true but wasn't convinced. Later that evening, I shared the lie with my trusted friend. His reaction was enough to make me see this was a lie and I had believed it. Throughout the hours of insomnia, I was able to speak truth over and over in my mind and in the morning sunshine, thank God (and the engineer) for the truth I believe; I am valued and accepted.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
Some of our trials will seem silly. Like paddling in the rain. Some a crisis of who we are in Christ or a crisis of faith in a good God. Big or little, these pain-staking bumps in the road give us a chance to strengthen our faith, build our character to be more like Jesus'.
What trial are you facing right now? Will you allow yourself to be lied to by the deceiver or will you face Satan with the truth, stand on the Word of God and become more like Jesus.