Our Unreasonable God

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

Let me ask you this question. Has your God proved to be as unreasonable as mine has? He’s continually pushing me outside of my comfort zone, asking more of me than I think is reasonable. What’s that all about?

But then, what makes me unique?

He asked Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of just one tree, while leaving everything else open to them.

He asked Noah to build an arc in a dry and arid land.

He asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and to leave a country he knew for the promise of a future land he was unfamiliar with.

Then, there was that whole thing about asking Moses to re-enter the palace walls 40 years after he’d left them to demand freedom for “his” people.

He asked Elijah to trust Him when all of the other prophets were being hunted down by Jezebel and killed.
And he asked little David to stand up to a giant with small stones and a slingshot.

He asked Jesus to come and take on the sins of this world for no other reason than that He loves you and me.

Jesus asked fishermen to leave their nets and follow him, promising that he would make them fisher of men.

Let’s face it… Our God is into ridiculous requests! He asked something completely unreasonable of me this past month. Yet, in following His leading, all I could do was obey the call.

When you’re living your daily life or writing what God puts on your heart, does He ever call you to be unreasonable? Do you listen, or do you turn a deaf ear, hoping He really didn’t mean it?

I’ve been called to be unreasonable in a big way. Yet, I believe that God will bless me through the experience. So, I’m wholeheartedly following His lead, being as unreasonable as I possibly can in this limited human frame that I have, and looking forward to seeing what it is that God accomplishes through this lesson.

When God calls us to be unreasonable, it’s usually because He has something huge planned for us, whether it’s in our lives or through our writing.

He’s gifted each one of us uniquely to use words to convey His message to others. Are you resisting being unreasonable? Stuck in the comfort of being safe and normal? Make that bold statement. Step out and be unreasonable, and see what God can do through you.

2 Corinthians 10:17-18

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

17 But, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

As many of you know, this past year has been a real struggle for me. God has placed greater challenges before me than at any other time in my life. The death of a loved one. The illness of a child. Financial troubles. Fear over an uncertain future. Concern for a wayward child. New responsibilities. Intricate teamwork.

Yet, He has also been richly blessing me with new experiences and insights into who He is, and with life-long dreams accomplished. It can be easy at times to think that our accomplishments are because of all the hard work and effort we put into them.

I would never have achieved the rank of 1st degree black belt if it weren’t for the years I spent drilling techniques, pushing my body to greater lengths, and overcoming mental and emotional stressors.

Yet, my life is not about me. It’s about God, and what He can accomplish through someone, even as weak as I am. At least, that’s what it’s supposed to be about. And my life is more richly blessed when I follow God’s intent. When I live my life as if it’s all about me, my life is meaningless. When I live it as if it’s all about Him, great things happen.

The same is true of our writing. When we cling to a thought, theme or words that we write without filtering t through what God desires to share through us, it’s all about us. And that’s the wrong viewpoint to take. That way leads emptiness at best, and sorrow and heartache at the worst.

If we allow our writing and our accomplishments to reflect His work in us and through us, we bring Him greater glory. What better work can we do in this life than to point the way to Him?

He is the narrow gate. No one comes to the Father, except through Christ.

Let your writing today, and in the days to come, reflect God’s work in you and Christ’s redemption of you. In this way, God will bless the work of your hands and commend you for being His instrument.

There is so much more satisfaction in introducing another to Christ and to the ways of God than there is in seeking glory for ourselves. Any glory we achieve for ourselves is short-lived. Accolades we receive here will not be received again in heaven. However, serving as a reflection of God’s work in and through us is a life-changing experience.

Therefore, allow your writing to be directed by God. When you should write, when you should sleep, and what you should say.

Romans 15:4

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Over the past few days, a repeated thought has been playing at the corners of my mind. “Honor the past…” When I turned to Scripture to see what words of wisdom would be revealed to me, I realized that there are many instances where God reminds us of what He has done in the past, so that He may do even more in the future. He reminds us of where we’ve been so that He can contrast that with what He has in store for us.

While Isaiah 43:18 tells us to “forget the former things; do not dwell in the past,” God repeatedly reminds us of what He has done for us, so that we can see where we once were, and rejoice in where He is taking us now.

We’re not called to dwell in the past, where we lose sight of the present and even possibly the future. But we are called to honor the past; recognizing God at work in it and through us. While He chooses to forget the past, and has forgiven us the sins that went with it, we should relinquish shame and guilt, while still remembering what went before.

As writers, we have a unique opportunity to reflect God’s glory to others, showing what God is capable of doing through those who love Him. If we blot out the past instead, as God has done, we lose the lessons that come with our experience; lessons we still need.

It’s those lessons that are among our most valuable treasures. They are to be shared with those around us to instruct, encourage, and guide; but most of all to offer hope – the hope that can only come from the One True God, the giver and author of Life.

So, as you write, I encourage you to honor the past and the lessons God has chosen to teach you through it. Cast off the garments of fear and shame, and share the story that is uniquely yours to tell.

God has worked in your life in ways that are specific to you. But your story has the ability to encourage someone and offer hope. Don’t hold on to it solely for yourself. Be a good steward of all that God has taught you, and share it with those in need of hearing it.

In this way, we will continue to instruct each other, while allowing endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures to offer hope through our words.

Isaiah 26:12

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

12 Lord, you establish peace for us;
all that we have accomplished you have done for us.

This month has been one of great highs and lows for me personally, and it caused me to reflect on how differently I handled such times when I was child versus now as an adult.

When I was younger, struggles in my circumstances would have caused me to withdraw, cry, and feel helpless and hopeless. I would have chalked that up to the fact that I wasn’t a Christian at the time, I suppose, if it weren’t for the fact that I watched my daughter’s responses to our cat going missing earlier this week.

Our indoor cat got out Wednesday night (without his collar) when a family member left the door wide open for too long. Brody’s absence wasn’t discovered until the next morning, when I realized he wasn’t tripping me to get his breakfast.

As I juggled figuring out what was going on and piecing together how things happened, I also had to get my son on the bus and make a plan with my daughter as to what to do next. However, in the 20 minutes it took to get my son out the door and start looking in earnest, my daughter had gone from sound asleep in bed to wandering in the woods calling mournfully for her cat and crying in despair.

I recognized that hopelessness. I’d felt it at times before in my life. So, I enfolded her in my arms, we went before the Lord together and prayed, and I reminded her that we hadn’t even begun looking for him yet; there were lots of resources still available to us for finding him. I think she felt comforted by knowing I was in charge, because she soon went back inside, settled down and waited, doing her usual things.

As an adult, I looked at the resources still available, and determined that I wasn’t going to allow myself to think he was gone until 48 hours had passed. Seeking God’s leading in what to do next established peace in my heart and left hope intact.

As I spent the day doing those next things and then finally settling in to wait myself, I was amazed that within 30 minutes of finishing everything I could think of, Brody showed up, safe and sound, although a little shook up from the experience.

Sometimes these little road bumps are in our lives simply to draw us nearer to Him, to remind us that He is the establisher of our peace and He is in control.

As we write, let us be mindful both of how our own approach to Life has changed over the years and of how God’s provisions can set us free from worry if we let them. Then, write what you know.

1 Timothy 4:11-16

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Over this past week, I’ve connected with and started to get to know another fellow Word Weaver. His name is Tony Trendl. He started WW last year, just as I did, and is looking forward to honing his craft through this experience.

He posted on Facebook yesterday, his commitment to have every unpublished (but ready) piece of his submitted somewhere at all times until they are all published. So, even as he writes new material, he’s juggling the process of taking his backlog of written pieces and submitting them, following up on them, etc.

I was struck by his tenacity and capacity to accept the rejections we both knew are coming. We commiserated that it’s always easier to get a rejection if there’s also feedback as to what we can do better. But that’s not often provided to us.

The same is true in life. We put our best foot forward, and hope that it’s enough, never knowing until we meet God face-to-face whether our efforts will be found wanting or not.

Paul exhorted Timothy not to neglect his gift. I think in the crush and busy press of our lives, it’s easy to forget to set time aside to write. Yet, for each of us here, we have to remember it’s a gift we’ve been given by God. We’re not to neglect it or any of the other gifts He’s given us. We’re to be diligent in perfecting our writing, giving ourselves wholly to the task, and allowing everyone to see the progress we make.

When Tony started sharing the rejection notices he was getting, I didn’t know whether to “like” them or not. But as I saw how he viewed them as stepping stones to success, I couldn’t help but to appreciate his transparency.

What I love in Paul’s promise to Timothy is that if we persevere in our life and watching our doctrine closely (as we write), we will save both ourselves and our readers.

So, don’t be afraid to take time apart to exercise your gift. And don’t be afraid to share both the victories and challenges, as we will continue to learn from one another. As you do, you will be saving both yourself and us.

Luke 22: 31-32

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”
“Nothing,” they answered.

I’ve been reflecting this past month, as have many of you I’m sure, on the Last Supper, Good Friday and the promise of Easter. This time of year challenges us to question how deeply we feel what we believe. The pain and suffering of Good Friday sheds light on our own pain and suffering in a new way. I know that I have never carried the sins of the world on my shoulders, even if I have felt as though I carried the weight of the world there.

Whether my pain is physical, mental or emotional, it can’t compare to being nailed to a cross and left there for hours to die.

Was Jesus able to endure all of that because of how deeply he loved us, or because he knew the outcome? He knew that Easter was just around the corner?

When we go through times of trial, it is easy for our faith to waver. Where is God in times of pain and suffering? Through Jesus, God understands our pain and what we’re capable (and incapable) of in times of suffering.

Listen to Jesus’ words to Peter at the Last Supper again. “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

God knows that our faith will waver at times. We’re not penalized for that. He knows that Satan will sift us in the world. It’s part of His plan. So, we’re not to punish ourselves in times of questioning and doubt. God knows and loves us still.

But we are called to strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ when our trial is over and our strength is renewed. Don’t hide your pain away, swept under the rug, once that time has passed.

Share it with others that they may be strengthened by the lessons you learned and the comfort you received. For it’s the only way to squeeze honey out of the stumbling stones in our lives, and it can be a source of comfort for those who mourn and weep after you. Know that Jesus sends us out with everything we need.

Psalm 31:7

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.

There have been many times since I assumed the role of Chaplain to this group where I have felt completely inadequate to the task. When I first accepted the responsibility, I thought it was something that would come easily and naturally to me.

I’ve been a Bible study teacher, a book discussion leader, a prayer warrior, and a reasonably mature Christian for over a decade now. I’ve walked in the valleys and among the heights. I’ve known the joy of feeling God’s presence, and the despair of wondering where He is.

Yet, the experiences of the past four months in my life have just been overwhelming. And each month, when I sit down to write this devotional, I wonder what, if anything, I have to offer.

As I flipped through the Bible, looking at verses about Love, since it is the month for Valentines, I kept praying for inspiration. Then, this verse jumped out at me. “I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.”

I can attest to the truth of these words, even though it’s still hard for me to rejoice. Yet, God knows the sorrows and the struggles I’ve faced in recent months, and he sent me to you, and you to me.

I have seen His love through the actions of people in this group, and through others in our church.
As I dearly missed my Frank this week, Barbara sent me words of encouragement. Carol checked up on me, sometimes multiple times a day. One woman from church brought me a dozen, white-stemmed roses. Another stopped by with a box of chocolates and a card for me, telling me that Frank spoke to her in prayer that morning, instructing her to “take care of my girl today.”

It’s because you’ve chosen to minister to me that I’m able in any small way to minister to you. I will rejoice and be glad in His love, because you have listened to His prompting, soothing the anguish of my soul with your kindness and caring.

As we write and share our stories, may they ever point to His power in our lives, and His desire to use His people to bring peace and purpose to many.

Thank you for ministering to the one who is supposed to minister to you. I pray that as I use my life’s experience to reflect on His greatness, you are touched by His great mercy and love as well.

Acts 5:17-21

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life.”

21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.

I’ve been thinking a lot about life and death recently what with spring being right around the corner, and being in the midst of Lent looking forward to Easter and all that it promises.

And remembrances of life and death so closely intertwined by days on the calendar in this coming week for me. Frank’s Dad will be observing the 4th anniversary of his wife’s death on the 20th. So he has been at the forefront of my thoughts and prayers. The very next day, I’ll be celebrating my son’s 12th birthday.

It’s nothing new. Every day, someone dies and someone else is born. And those that love them are changed forever by their presence in their lives.

It’s been this way since Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. We’re born. We live. We learn. We love. We die.

When a child is born, we celebrate the joy of new life in our midst. When someone dies, we grieve the passing of their presence in our lives, not realizing right away that their presence lives on within us.

When the apostles were jailed, then freed by the angel, they were told to tell the full message of this new life to the people they found in the temple courts.

This wasn’t a life received once. It was a life returned to them. While physically mature, there was as much reason for them to celebrate as there is when we rejoice over the birth of a baby. New life had been received.

As Christians, we have each received this gift of new life. Do we stop and remember to celebrate it as the undeserved gift that it is? We have been granted a precious gift. Every day that we wake up is another opportunity to rejoice over that gift, regardless of our circumstances or how we might wish they were different.

As writers, God has granted each of us the unique ability to share the full message of this new life in the words that we write and the stories that we create.

In Deuteronomy, we are told that the commandments we’ve been given are to be upon our hearts, impressed upon our children, talked about at every turn, and tied as symbols on our hands and foreheads.

It is only when the message of salvation permeates every aspect of our lives, including our writing, that we are truly obedient to the angel’s command to tell the people the full message of this new life.

Jeremiah 30: 1-2

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you.

Did you know that the word “write” appears 80 times in the Bible? Often, it is written as a command from God to his faithful ones. Starting with Exodus 17:14, when the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.”

And ending with Revelation 21:5, when He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

We are told to write those things that are worthy of being remembered, especially those things that God has spoken to us.

As Christian writers, how often do we begin our writing time in prayer? Do we dedicate the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts to Him?

I know that I am often guilty of writing down what I am inspired to write with little consideration of where that inspiration comes from. Yet, I know that it comes from the one who is both Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.

God wants us to dwell on those things that are righteous and true, and to record them so that generations to come remember what He has done.

As you are writing, remember whence your inspiration comes. It comes from the Lord. And write in a book all the words He has spoken to you. For it is pleasing to Him when you do.

2 Corinthians 4:13a

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Sometimes, the Lord allows joyful things to happen in our lives, and at other times, troubling and difficult things happen.

It’s easy to think nothing of enjoying the good things that happen. We may even forget to thank Him for them because it just seems so natural that they should happen.

But when the hard times come, it’s easy to fall into the trap of asking “Why?” “Why would you let something like this happen, Lord?” “What possible plan could You have to allow this in my life?” I know this for a fact, because it’s been the continual struggle of my heart for the past 6 weeks when I learned that the man that I had planned to marry was dead.

I won’t begin to describe the pain and grief that I have been living with since that time, and that I expect I’ll carry with me for a long time to come.

But even from that place, there’s one thing I know, when it seems I know nothing else anymore. God is at work…

[Share about Larry, Linda and Len. Decide how much to share, based on the time I have. Cover:
– Being open to God’s leading
– Valuing relationships over to-do lists
– Having the courage to share a message from the Lord.]

There’s a song called “Offering” by Paul Baloche that contains these lyrics:

I bring an offering of worship to my king.
No one on earth deserves the praises that I sing.
Jesus may you receive the honor that you’re due.
O Lord, I bring an offering to you.

God doesn’t seek just our first fruits as offerings. He wants us to give of our time and talents as well. But even more than that, He wants us to share our stories. He wants us to tell the world about the work that He has done in our lives so that people will believe in Him and praise Him.

Remember: All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore, as we write and share the stories that God has placed on our hearts, I believed; therefore I have spoken.