Category Archives: Adversity

God is for us!

Eyes Wide Open“I turned the question over in my mind while looking at the clouds drifting by that day. If God is for us, who can be against us? In the first part of the question, the ‘if’ isn’t really casting any doubt. It is in fact assuming the truth of what it states. God is for us! He’s for us. Looking at it another way, He’s for us!

The God who created the sky, the trees, the landscape, the clouds—that God. The God who created the universe—that God. The God who is spinning our planet on its axis right now at a thousand miles an hour, ensuring that we travel 1.3 million miles today in our orbit around the sun—that God. The God who has the expanse of the universe in the palm of His hand. The God who created the complexities of the human eye, the human cell, and the DNA strand. That God is for us—for us!

And if He is for us, then ‘who can be against us?’”

~ Excerpted from Eyes Wide Open by Jud Wilhite

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Adversity, Christianity, Encouragement, God, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Trusting God

Harder than we were expecting

It was a journey we were ill-prepared for and “utterly exhausted” would be a step up from how we felt when it was over.

Our daughter Kyrsten is a senior in high school and playing golf for only the second year. We are familiar with golf in general and I have played a few times long ago, but she is the first one to participate on a school team playing the sport.

Last year we attended a regular match involving one other school. A girl from each school is paired up (five girls from each school) and assigned a hole to begin at. Then they proceed to play nine holes of golf.

For an hour and a half we found ourselves enjoying the beautiful natural setting in all of its quietness and splendor. Of all the sporting events our kids have participated in, it was by far the most relaxing and enjoyable experience we’ve ever had.

This year, last Saturday to be precise, we experienced our first tournament match involving four schools. That was the journey we were ill-prepared for.

One girl from each school is put into a group and the four of them are assigned a hole to begin at. Instead of just nine holes they play the entire 18-hole course.

We noticed all the other families riding around in carts and figured they had money to burn or were just a tad lazy. But 5 1/2 hours later in 92 degree weather, we fully understood why they rode around in carts… with coolers strapped on… with lots of liquids and snacks!

It was harder than we were expecting!

Needless to say we learned our lesson and will be better prepared the next time.

Jesus once warned those who would follow Him to first count the cost because it wouldn’t be a bed of roses. Having journeyed with Jesus now for 33 years I understand His advice.

The journey is much harder than I was expecting!

As with any such experience it helps to know we are not alone and this song by Steven Curtis Chapman says it so well. Whatever it is you’re facing remember… we’re just taking the “Long Way Home.”

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Adversity, Christianity, Encouragement, Heaven, Hope, Music Video, Religion and Spirituality, Suffering, Trusting God

May God wreck our plans!

We were getting away for a few days to relax and regain some sense of rhythm. But God had other plans!

Susan and I loaded our bikes into the old blue bus (our 20-year-old van) and pulled out late Sunday afternoon headed for a hotel room in Indy. The trip was uneventful, the room was great and the continental breakfast was amazing. But then…

We shopped at a few nearby stores before heading downtown to visit a friend who had just given birth to her third baby. We got within a couple of miles of the hospital when the van started sputtering.

Long story short, we spent another night in Indy and about $500 for a new fuel pump!

The really ironic part is that I’m reading a book about what God may be up to when our dreams get shattered or our plans go up in smoke. And just for the record, I prefer reading about it over actually living it. Just sayin’…

There are certainly bigger dreams out there than just getting away for a few days but it stretched our patience to the breaking point!

In his book, Shattered Dreams, Larry Crabb suggests that God uses the big and little obstacles of life to help us come to grips with what matters most to us. Are we pursuing God in order to secure His blessings of a good life or are we desiring a relationship with God above all else?

The deepest longings of our heart cry out for an experience of God’s presence; and yet we so often settle for lesser passions. Only when those lesser passions get thwarted or crushed will we delve deeper into our soul and come to discover our greater passion for God.

An encounter with God is what we were created for and satisfies our soul like nothing or no one else can. But when the lesser passions of life satisfy us, even if they are only temporary, we forget the bigger passion.

It’s sort of like nibbling on junk food too close to the big meal and losing our appetite for real food.

I’ll be honest. I was very angry and frustrated as we sat there in the hot sun waiting for the tow truck to show up. Was a few days away to relax really too much to ask?

But eventually, a different question made its way to the forefront of my mind.

Are these few days away more important to you than God?

God could have kept our van running but didn’t. God could have prompted me to take a different vehicle but He didn’t. (At least, I don’t think He did. Sometimes I don’t listen so well)

If I want God more than I want a few days away and if I choose to trust God as sovereign, then can I trust Him to be working behind the scenes to accomplish something I know nothing about? In essence…

Would I trust God’s character and intentions to be good even if I didn’t know the “why”?

I have no great “TaDa” moment that resulted from our interrupted plans. I’ve gained no great revelation or insight from what took place. And I still don’t know how we’ll pay for the van or extra night in a hotel.

But I can trust the Author of the story to be good and I can once again sift through my passions to see which ones are most important.

May God wreck our plans, no matter how good they are, to help us discover our greater passion for Him!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Adversity, Contentment, Desire, Discipleship, Divine presence, Frustration, God, intimacy with the Lord, Patience, Priorities, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Suffering, Trusting God

Intentional obstacles

Amidst all the hoopla going on in the Summer Olympics in London, England right now Michael Phelps is once again in the middle of it all. A couple of days ago Phelps broke a 48 year record becoming the all-time winningest Olympic athlete with 19 medals.

As amazing and stunning as that is, the back story is even more fascinating.

During a special segment delving into the his long-time history with coach Bob Bowman, we learned that Bowman has, on occasion, intentionally created obstacles for Michael Phelps.

Having the car pick them up late causing him to miss a meal before a race…

Stepping on his goggles so that they cracked and let in water when he swam…

Why would a coach do such things? Does he have a vendetta against Michael? Is he just sadistic?

Turns out that Bowman wanted Phelps to learn how to deal with adversity so that he would not be unsettled by unexpected things happening at critical moments. And that’s exactly what happened in the 2008 Olympics.

A few meters into one race Michael’s goggles filled with water and made it impossible for him to see. Not a good scenario when you’re trying to win a race.

But since Michael had battled through such obstacles in practice and in other races, it proved to be no problem as he went on to win the race and earn one of his many gold medals.

Chalk one up for the coach. But it’s not a new principle.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith   produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~ James 1:2-4

Maybe those obstacles of life that push our buttons and stretch our patience to the breaking point are not just arrows sent by the enemy to antagonize us but are really intentional lessons designed by our Maker to develop our character and deepen our trust in Him.

Consider it all joy…

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Adversity, Determination, Faith, Patience, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Trusting God