Sherry Carter

Bible Study Author and Speaker

 


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Truths for Today:

July, 2011:

Peeling Pinecones


Excuses, excuses...I'm a master of excuses! I can always come up with a list of excuses as to why I can't (translate: won't) do what God is calling me to do. I've been doing that a lot lately. God's called me to do some hard things in recent months and I responded with lots of excuses. In His grace, He reminded me of a time in the past when my excuses blinded me to His love and power.

In 2005, while I was still trying to deal with the shock of being laid off, God began to whisper to my heart, "Write a Bible study to share how I've walked with you these last few, difficult years." At first I didn't worry about offering any excuses—I just said, "Are you kidding?" I went right on, buried in my personal pity party.

Have you ever tried to ignore what God was asking you to do? Have you ever been like me…you just flat don't want to do it! But God is patient; He keeps pursuing us and urging us to be obedient.

Well, the whispers got louder. So…I decided I'd show God how silly an idea that was and the excuses began:
We've lost a third of our income—I can't afford to sit at home. How are we going to pay the bills?
I'm an engineer—I can't write something like that!
I'm too old to start a new career!
But He didn't give up. Soon the quiet whispers became more insistent. My list of excuses grew longer:
I'm a people person—I don't want to sit at my laptop, alone, all day.
I'm not good enough—people who know me will say, "She wrote a Bible study??"
Excuses…we all tend to respond to God with excuses. Maybe He's asking us to step way out of our comfort zone. Maybe we feel incapable of doing what He asks. It's easy to forget that God only asks for our willingness – He takes care of the enabling.

Still, God kept on hounding me. It's not fun being hounded by God, is it? Soon it feels like every sermon is meant just for you. Every Sunday School lesson has your name all over it. Every Bible verse you read seems to remind you that you're being disobedient. God is pretty persistent!

Finally, I had no choice but to start writing. Surely, I thought, He'll soon realize that this is a bad idea! The weeks became months; I sat, struggling to put words on paper, and my mind filled with doubts. After a year of writing—and erasing—I was ready to give up. One morning, as I sat by a lake watching the sunrise, my heart was broken and I began to cry. I swung my legs and my toe hit an old, dried out pinecone lying on the ground. I reached down and picked it up, mindlessly breaking off scales and dropping them on the ground. I heard God whisper, Do you trust me? I'm trying, Lord, I prayed. It's just too hard.

I'm just not good enough; I'm not worthy of this calling.
You are worthy because you are My daughter…break off that lie and throw it away. (Ephesians 1:3-6) I twisted off one of the scales and dropped it on the ground.
My faith's so weak, what do I have to offer?
Place your faith in My hands and allow Me to strengthen it. Break off your sense of failure and throw it away. (Galatians 2:7) Another scale hit the ground.

I just can't do this, Lord. I sit, day after day, writing sentences that make no sense and stringing them together into paragraphs that fail to express the truths You've taught me.
As long as you write your own words, My child, you write in vain. Throw away your dependence on your own understanding and trust My wisdom and guidance. (Proverbs 3:5)
Slowly, one by one, God cleansed me of my doubts and fears. The ground at my feet was littered with scales peeled off that pinecone. Even now the poor, dilapidated thing sits on my desk to remind me that God is more powerful, more patient, and more loving than all my shortcomings. When I hold a copy of Storms of Life in my hands, I see His promises to strengthen me, to guide me, and to use me all fulfilled.

What is your calling? To teach? To sing? To pray? To give? To write? Can you rattle off a long list of excuses to justify your refusal to obey Him? Do you feel unworthy? Do you struggle to trust Him? Do you feel totally inadequate? Sit in His presence and allow Him to erase the lies that cripple you and to replace them with His truth. I challenge you to throw away your self-reliance and allow Him to work through you to bless others.

Place your fears and doubts in His hands and stand back—watch Him work wonders!
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20

 
 

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