Mighty to Save

A few weeks back I had to attend a legal hearing. Not only did I have to be there, I was going to be asked to testify. I was none too excited about this. The closer we got to the courthouse that morning, the more the butterflies in my stomach were starting to feel like vampire bats jostling for position as they erupted from their cave into the night sky. My heart raced as my mind frantically spat out monosyllabic prayers. Truth be told, I was a nervous wreck.

Then it happened. Holy Spirit brought to mind one of my very favorite Scriptures, Zephaniah 3:17. I won’t say that I was totally chilled out, but there was an incredible sense of calm. My breathing settled down and I could think more clearly. In that moment, God impressed upon me five truths contained within this one verse. Let’s take a look at this verse, phrase by phrase.

The Lord your God is with you

  • We have His Presence

One of my favorite things about God is that He promises never to leave us or forsake us. Sometimes our circumstances may cause us to wonder if He really is anywhere to be found. But even when He is silent, He is present. This does not in any way mean that our lives will be perfect. We live in a fallen world. People around us make mistakes. We ourselves make mistakes. There are often repercussions as a result. Still, through the good times and the bad, God is there. Always.

He is mighty to save

  • We have His Protection

It is easy to focus only on the kind and compassionate nature of Jesus and portray Him as a cosmic Mr. Rogers, with a soothing voice and a little song to ease your pain. Jesus absolutely is kind and compassionate. But that is a tiny tip of a very large iceberg. He is more, so much more, than that. God is a mighty warrior. The full power of the universe is at His command. He is the one who spoke that very universe into existence. And He strongly supports those whose hearts are completely His. Sometimes this means deliverance from the storm. Other times this means deliverance through the storm. Because He is more concerned about our character than our comfort, the protection God offers may not look like the storybook picture we create in our minds. However, with a bit of time and perspective, we see that the provision God offered was exactly what we needed.

He will take great delight in you

  • We bring Him Pleasure

This is the one phrase that caught me off guard when I first started meditating on this verse. I mean, WOW, the Almighty God, the Holy One delights in me…ME! That’s a lot to wrap my head around. My relationship with my father was rocky at best. Growing up it seemed like the only time my dad spoke to me was when he was yelling at me about something. The relationship with my earthly father has definitely colored my relationship with my heavenly Father. I have caught myself in a time of prayer when I would think through my words very carefully – like a witness being cross-examined by a ruthless attorney – so as not to create any kind of loophole where He could use my words against me. I’m embarrassed to even say that. Once I realized I was doing this, it opened the door for deeper relationship when I confessed my difficulty and asked God to teach me how to love Him as Father. That is a request He has been more than happy to honor.

A few years back I heard a great quote by Eric Liddell that at the time I simply could not understand. He was the Olympic runner whose life story was the inspiration for the movie “Chariots of Fire.” Liddell said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” Doing what we are created to do makes God smile. Everyone is good at something. Whether that means designing great works of art, or helping the sick, or cleaning up after a natural disaster, or writing down the impressions He makes upon our hearts, whenever we do what we are wired to do, God is delighted. No matter if to everyone else our creation looks like a masterpiece or a lopsided, child-like stick figure, our Father will still proudly display it on His refrigerator door. It brings Him pleasure.

He will quiet you with His love

  • He brings us Peace

Sometimes I get anxious. I’m one of those people whose natural tendency is to wig out for a few minutes, calculate the worst-case scenario, and proceed straight to panic mode. Fortunately, over the years I’ve learned how to manage this impulse and mostly keep it to myself. I’ve learned to take a deep breath and pull up scripture from my internal rolodex to remind myself of the goodness of God. Practicing the promises of God settles me. It helps me get my eyes off of the monster before me and onto the Spirit Who lives within me. Scripture clearly tells us that trusting in God is the pathway to peace (see Isaiah 26:3; Romans 15:13).

He will rejoice over you with singing

  • God Parents us

This statement creates a beautiful mental picture. I can just imagine God, the ultimate Father, singing to His children. In times of trouble, that might look like quiet songs of comfort. In times of joy, it could be exuberant songs of celebration…or maybe even a war cry as He rushes in to defend His precious child.

When my daughter was a baby, and a very grumpy one at that, one of the things that quieted her was being sung to, and the radio simply did not cut it. One day my husband was driving somewhere with her in the car. She started squawling and would not stop in spite of his best efforts. In desperation, he called and asked me what to do. I told him to sing to her. “What should I sing?” he frantically inquired. “It doesn’t matter. Just sing to her,” I replied. He couldn’t think of any good calm-down-your-howling-baby songs, so he sang the only song that came to mind: I’d Be Better Off in a Pine Box.  This still cracks me up years later. But you know what? It worked. She heard her dad’s voice (and he’s not exactly Sinatra!) and immediately calmed down. In times of distress, she needed to hear the sound of her parents’ voices.

The fact that this phrase goes a step further blows my mind. Not only does God sing over us, He rejoices over us. Just let that sink in. God loves you so much – YOU – that He bursts into songs of rejoicing. You make the Lord of Hosts, the Creator God, the One True King, sing out in absolute joy. The very idea makes my heart swell in response to His great Love!

Memorizing scripture is so important. When life gets tough, it gives us material for rehearsing the goodness of God, for remembering Who He is and who He says we are. It calms our anxious thoughts. It destroys fear with absolute Truth. When we hide God’s Word in our hearts, He pulls it into our consciousness at just the right moment to remind us that we are His, and we are held, not just for today but for all of our tomorrows.


Photo credit:


Of Cops and Jesus

When I went to the gym today, I noticed a city police officer was sitting at the far end of the parking lot. My first impulse was to check my speed. Having received a $300 ticket for Christmas last year, I am in no hurry to do that again. Since it was early, I figured he was there to keep an eye on early commuter/school traffic. I went on about my business, spending about an hour in the gym.

As I walked out, I noticed that the officer was still there. A bit surprised, I got into my car; he pulled out seconds before I did. I followed him through our small town for a couple minutes until he turned off at the station. After giggling to myself about the difference in my reactions to his presence before and after my workout, I thought about how this is similar to our attitudes about God.


When I first noticed the squad car sitting there, my first impulse was to snatch my foot off the gas, even though I was preparing to turn and was already below the speed limit. My past experiences (speeding ticket) made me not want to get caught doing something wrong again. I do the same thing when an officer pulls behind me in traffic. Logically I know that he/she has somewhere to be and we just so happen to be going the same direction for a while. Yet I always feel a bit paranoid and therefore obsessively monitor my speed, stay carefully between the lines, keep my hands on the wheel so it doesn’t look like I’m using my phone, etc. Admittedly, I do have a rather gangsta-looking car, so there have been times when I feel pretty sure that my actions were being observed; but for the most part, police officers have more important things to do than follow me for 10 miles just to make sure I don’t go over 57 MPH.


Walking out of the gym and seeing a law enforcement officer in the parking lot, especially if I am there by myself, can be rather comforting. I know that it would be unwise for anyone to mess with me while a cop is sitting right there. (Not that anyone has ever attempted to do so, but sadly enough, a woman alone has to be extra vigilant.) Pulling out of the parking lot, I noticed how much less anxious I was when I was following the policeman instead of the other way around. I knew the pace was acceptable and there was no need to be hyper-sensitive to my every move.


On the ride home, I considered how my two reactions to the same officer were at opposite ends of the spectrum, as well as how these reactions were a picture of how we often relate to God. We often think of God as a Cosmic Cop with unlimited power to ruin our lives, like He’s sitting up there in heaven just waiting for us to make a mistake so He can zap us. Nothing could be further from the truth. The rules God has set for us are not for our detriment, but rather for our good.

Case in point: My husband is a licensed electrician. He invested in his education then spent several years of apprenticeship training under a master electrician in order to learn his trade. Only then was he eligible to take (and pass) the seven-hour-long test necessary for receiving his own license. There are rules for someone getting their electrical license. You wouldn’t want some guy who read a How-To book one time to show up to fix a short in your wiring. That could very well lead to the fire department showing up at your house in the middle of the night. Not an ideal scenario.

Rules, anywhere from small town speed limits to “thou shall not kill” are important safety nets for us as individuals and as a society. God does not impose rules upon us to stifle our fun, but rather to protect our safety and well-being. Breaking a law will have consequences, such as that not-so-fun $300 ticket. This means we made a mistake, not that the law or the officer or God is out to get us.


Sometime back, God and I were wrestling through some things. I was wrong and I knew it, but I stubbornly rationalized my way of thinking. There was a period of about a year when I refused to read my Bible because I knew Holy Spirit would convict me, and frankly, I just didn’t want to hear it. Internally, I was such a brat during those days. I was mad at God when all the time I was the one in the wrong. I was also deeply embarrassed by how distorted I’d allowed my thinking to become. Eventually I stopped fighting Him and allowed His grace to heal me.

Our responses to law enforcement can act as a metaphor for how we regard God. Here are a couple takeaways from my drive home:

My reaction to God is often determined by my perception of my situation, not by Who He is.

I appreciate His authority when I need help, then resent it when I’m trying to push the limits. When I am doing something I know that I should not, it colors my perception of Who God is. I convince myself He is out to get me. I see Him as Punisher. Much like being angry at a policeman for pulling me over for speeding – after all, I was only going ten over – I often blame God for my own bad choices and convince myself that He just doesn’t want me to have any fun.

If the situation changes, however, and there is someone trying to break into my house, my opinion of that very same police offer can change drastically. Similarly, when I am rightly related to the Father, I see Him as my Protector. I may not be overly thrilled about certain limits He sets, but I trust His heart. Knowing the limits creates a safe parameter within which I can operate. Trouble, as the old saying goes, is easy to get into and hard to get out of. It is best to avoid it in the first place.

Flat-out rule keeping is important, but far better is willing obedience. I do what God says, not just because I don’t want the negative consequences, but because I love Him and want to please Him. I remember when my daughter was younger there were times when she thought my rules were excessive, or even ridiculous, and she would question their logic. Without exception, I had a reason for each limitation I imposed on her, always with her best interest in mind. Sometimes it was something that I could point out or explain. Sometimes it was based on things that were beyond her scope to understand at her particular age. On those occasions, all I could offer her was, “I need you to trust me on this one.” We need to give God the same benefit of the doubt that I asked of my young daughter. While I am prone to human weakness, God is definitive Goodness. He is powerful. He is truth and love. He is steady and unchanging, regardless of circumstances that would seem to indicate otherwise. Yes, He establishes Justice, but as Exodus 34:6 reminds us, He is “slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Rather than zap us, God is looking for opportunities to point out when we do things right.

God loves us like crazy, and He delights to delight in us.


Photo credit: https://www.insidesources.com