The clouds to our East looked dark and ominous as we drove. We knew the forecast was calling for severe thunderstorms with possible tornados, and those clouds looked every bit capable of producing such weather. Our grandma had passed away, and we were determined to make it to the viewing. My younger brother and I continued our conversation while we drove, which included a prayer to our God, Creator of the Universe; we asked, if it was His will, that He would move the clouds out of our path, believing full well that He was able to do so. We continued our drive. It was so easy to talk with my brother, share laughs, shed tears as we recounted memories with our grandma, and get distracted from the inevitable. Yet, for the time being, our path was clear, the sun was shining, and I was very much enjoying the opportunity to catch up with my brother, face to face, whom I hadn’t seen, due to distance, in a while. Our parents were driving behind us with my kiddos, and my husband had planned on coming later, due to his schedule.
The time came to turn East. We knew we would soon enter the storms…Yet, as we approached them, cloud after cloud moved to the left and right of the highway. It literally felt like a parting of the Red Sea! The sun shone brightly down upon us and our path, and the sky above us was a gorgeous blue! Some may explain it away or believe it was just a coincidence, but we knew this was God’s blessing on us and answer to our prayer. As we looked off to the North and South, we knew the storm was present, yet our God was, as well!! I can’t remember if I cried, but I have tears in my eyes, even now, as I think about it. His presence was SO close to us in those moments; I felt like a child, safe, watched over, and cared for by her loving daddy!
Years later, my husband and I were heading back to Mayo Clinic for a variety of medical tests. I was in a mood! No news was going to get me down! Our daughter had prepared an envelope with a plethora of Bible verses listed on it, which she gave to me before we left (I still have this envelope in my Bible to this day!). She picked them out, specifically, she told me, because they were verses that had to do with “praises.” She said she was praising God “for [our] going back to Mayo in the hopes that they would find out something.” We began our trip by my reading a number of them aloud while my husband drove. We had amazing conversations about the text, and my spirits were lifted high as I meditated on the safety of dwelling in God’s presence!
After hours of driving, we could see the skies to the North and West turning extremely dark; we knew storms were ahead. We drove closer and closer to them…up to the bottom edge of that part of the storm front. As we turned West, which was our planned route, we began to drive right into the storm. We saw a beautiful lightning show in front of us, and my husband made a comment about the presence of the storm we were heading into. I remember looking out my window as I was listening to music and seeing large drops of rain begin to fall around us; I said, “I don’t care! We serve the God who tells the rain when and where to fall! Drive on!” I was SO confident in that moment that we could drive into a lightning bolt, and we wouldn’t be harmed! God’s presence was SO full and consuming, and I knew His hand of protection was around us! No more did big drops of rain begin to fall; then, they stopped! We watched as the storm in front of us and to our North cleared, as the storm looked like it was pushed to the South. The remaining trip to Mayo was dry. This is our God!!! You should ask my husband; I was about bouncing off the insides of the vehicle! I was SO excited about Who our God is, what He can do, and how much He loves His kids!!
“For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ likewise to the downpour, His mighty downpour.”Job 37:6 ESV
I know for a fact that God is in the storm…every storm! It may not be a weather storm; it may be a storm in your life. If what I mentioned previously wasn’t enough to convince you, and you are still unsure, may I please share this with you…My younger brother was going through some challenging times. God reminded me of how He led the Israelites out of Egypt and in the wilderness…
“By day, the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way, and by night, in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. “Exodus 13:21-22 NIV
The LORD led them in a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. The LORD God was in both! Sometimes, we can relate to the fire…We see God leading us; we feel His power in us and on our behalf; we see His protection of us, we trust Him fully, and we’re willing to follow Him. On the other hand, the clouds seem to cover the reality of His presence at times. Just like on sunny days, when you see white, puffy clouds floating in the sky, your brain sees images in the clouds like an elephant or dolphin, dog or fork. During our rough times, I believe we as humans imagine things…maybe that God’s not there, because we can’t see Him in this or what we are dealing with doesn’t seem fair; maybe that God doesn’t love us (How could He, if He allowed this to happen?). The fact is: The LORD them in a pillar of cloud, and He never left His place…guiding His people.
So, I called my brother, as the LORD laid His presence in the cloud heavy on my heart and stirred to call him, specifically. I shared what the LORD had given. After I finished, he relayed how he was praying that same day, and He recognized, in his prayer, that the LORD is the same God that led the Israelites through the wilderness in a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire! He said he didn’t really know why those particular words came to His mind while praying, but we do, now! The Holy Spirit was bringing that to his mind and mine to make the impact greater that God’s presence was with him, even in what he was experiencing.
“When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, ‘If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So, God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus, the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.”Exodus 13:17-18 NLT
Even when we may question God’s presence, He is working, protecting, and guiding. His ultimate plan may look a lot different than the way we would have done. Honestly, there WAS a shorter way to the Promised Land, yet that wasn’t the BEST way.
Maybe you are walking a path, shining with light and power. God’s presence, guidance, and glory is amazing in that! But maybe a cloud seems to be covering His presence in whatever you’re going through. Maybe you don’t see how any good could come from this. Remember, He will not leave His place, leading His children.
I would love to hear how you have seen God moving in YOUR life! Let me know in the Comment section above (next to the title of this post)!
Have you noticed an uptick in dissatisfied people? If it’s not related to Covid or the election, it’s their health, spouse, kids, job…you name it! They may say it’s nothing…maybe a hole in their sock that’s making them cranky, but they sure are making their dissatisfaction known to other people…and you know there is more that’s stuck than just their big toe! Now, I’m not talking about people who are just giving you a “state of the union” when you ask them how they are; I consider that filling you in on what’s going on, because you asked. I’m talking about those you may or may not address, yet they come into a building or a room, laying woe after woe on the table. It doesn’t take long before it feels like the flame of a candle just got snuffed out, doesn’t it? Your insides begin to feel tight and, possibly, your attitude turns to being disgruntled right along with them.
I was listening to someone doing this the other day, and my spirit knew it was in a fight. I kept wanting to bring light and joy to the conversation, but my insides seemed to have a big ‘ole frown face covering them after hearing complaint after complaint. Shortly after, when I was alone, I prayed for this individual and was asking God how I could make a positive difference in this person’s life. I thought through the armor of God and considered how something to cover our mouths might be beneficial. That’s when it “hit” me; the LORD brought to mind 2 Peter 1:3.
“…seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”2 Peter 1:3 NASB
The armor God has given us in Jesus Christ is everything we need to fight the temptation to complain…And it IS a temptation! Over and over again in Scripture, we are commanded NOT to be disgruntled or question. This doesn’t mean we can’t ask God questions. The sin trigger comes when our questions are self-promoting, because WE want to be in control, rather than giving glory (or a favorable opinion) to GOD. When we are disgruntled, we are complaining about things not going the way WE would like. We lose site of the sovereignty (ultimate power and authority) of God and focus on ourselves. We make that choice. It doesn’t just happen. We consciously make the choice to entertain our own desires or plan, and before long, when we make those same choices over and over, it becomes more of a habit; we tend to think less about each choice.
Before we get to that point (and even if we have already found ourselves there), let’s take a step back, in the quiet, and spend some time in thought and prayer.
Maybe you get annoyed at your teen, consistently leaving a plate or used napkin in the living room after a snack. Is it REALLY the paper plate or napkin that’s annoying you, or is it the lack of respect and responsibility? It’s necessary to address THAT…the REAL issue, after FIRST addressing it in your own heart. If it is the lack of respect and responsibility in your child, are you enabling that behavior or consistently addressing it? I assure you! If you are addressing it, you are not alone, if you feel like you are consistently meeting challenges head on, but not always seeing movement. Sometimes, it feels like a battle that can be won, and sometimes it just feels like you are wounded and taking another punch. However, this is where we need to ask the question…Are we addressing the behavior itself, consistently, or the root? I believe more movement will be seen when we address the roots of our responses as well as those of others’.
Maybe you’re upset with your or your spouse’s employer, because you or your spouse have been laid off or are not getting as many hours recently. Examine the root! Is it really the employer you’re upset with, or is it fear that you won’t be able to pay the bills that you still continue to receive? After prayer and reflection, if you find that your root is fear, you can more accurately bring your cares and needs before the LORD; it will also allow you to more wisely assess the root of the employer’s actions. Maybe Covid has been really hard on business, and changes HAD to be made, whether they wanted to or not. Do you see how our misplaced emotions can add to the tension, instead of aiding in healing?
The LORD laid another couple verses on my heart, as I pondered this.
Now we encourage you, brethren, warn those who are insubordinate or idle, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves AND for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing; in everything, give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 NKJV
I love how Paul gives us a reality check in his first letter to the Thessalonians. They, obviously, had to deal with some of this stuff, too.
If we focus on THESE things, I believe our perspective will be much more positive and much less negative! Our thoughts, covered by the helmet of salvation through Christ, will affect our heart, covered by the breastplate of righteousness (of Christ); and your heart will affect what comes out of your mouth. How we handle a situation can positively affect another, especially if we are considering how our response can be good for the other person, as well.
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”Luke 6:45 NIV
Let’s go back to the person who just offers complaints readily. This would be a perfect time to interact with God, asking Him to help you discern the root of their dissatisfaction and help bring words of healing (which may come in the way of a question you pose, a challenge, a different perspective, etc.). I think we would all be wise to remember, though, that we are not responsible for the way they respond to how the Spirit is teaching you to speak. That’s between them and God. We just need to listen for His counsel and obey.
The LORD is speaking to me loudly on this. How about you? If He is, and you begin looking for the root of the matter, thinking about others and their good, and the Spirit teaches you how to speak differently from a heart centered on the truths of Scripture, I would love to hear how you are seeing Him move in you and in those around you!
Okay. So, the name of the website is a little different. I give you that, but there is a purpose, as there always is with God! When someone has a child, adopts a puppy, or really loves his/her car, he/she tends to name it. Why? Because of love. Naming is an expression of love, vowing to care for whatever or whomever was named. This has been done since the beginning. God expressed this when He named Adam and Eve “Adam (mankind)” (Genesis 5:2). Adam named his wife “Woman” when God created her (Genesis 2:23) and then, specifically, “Eve,” which meant “life or living,” after the LORD God’s curse (Genesis 3:20).
Names mean something or remind you of something. You probably are not going to name your next pet a name you strongly dislike or, even, something that reminds you of something that makes you cringe. Naming something usually takes a good amount of thought. You want it to “fit” that person, pet, object, or describe the time in your life associated with the one being named.
This website, taylorbaumliv.com, was created out of obedience to the calling God spoke into my life…and just like your name, this site’s name means something:
TAYLOR…It’s not only my maiden name; it also means “to cut.”
BAUM…This is my married name, which means “tree.”
LIV…The LORD brought this name to mind as I was thinking about the previous verse and the word of God. Both of those verses speak life. The word of God is living, and when we trust in and really LIVE (dwell, abide) in Him, He enables us to truly thrive, fulfilling our purpose for His kingdom! Well, it probably won’t surprise you that the LORD knew what “Liv” meant and spoke this name into my soul. I was so excited when I saw what it meant…!
This is my prayer…That, through my life and this site, as I have dedicated both to Him, you will be brought to Jesus, and the river of life will flow out of your heart in a powerful way…
…that the Spirit of God will bring healing in your life (through your thoughts, attitudes, and feelings (discarding sin like muddy boots); and as He produces His beautiful fruit in you, He will bring healing to those whom your life impacts.
It can be healing, basking in the sun, tending to a growing garden, but we ARE in a battle, as well; the enemy wants to stomp right through that garden and bring ruin, not life. I know this well. He has been attacking me and my family in his crafty ways since I set out to obey the LORD in this venture, yet I am confident in this…The LORD is my defender and protection..my salvation!