… may we be filled

Romans 15:13
“May the God of HOPE fill you with all JOY and PEACE as you TRUST in him, 
so that you may overflow with hope by the power the Holy Spirit.”

I doubt there’s a coincidence in being filled with joy and peace as we learn to wholly trust our God. I know it’s impossible to remain hopeful for long in the midst of trial after trial, disappointment after disappointment unless you have tethered yourself to something much more steadfast and secure than the people and things of this world… The things we believe are our safe places and cutesy quotes we have penned all over the place. Those quotes become frustrating, people move on, and our safe places provide us with possibly fun and needed breaks and distractions but nothing lasting and fulfilling.

While I was at Created for Care this past weekend, one of my car buddies whom I met at the airport felt led to pray for me specifically about believing. Ironically, that’s exactly what I was praying about when she tapped me on my knee and we started talking.

It’s exactly what another mama and I were talking about laughing at how “smart” we are as adults when God tells us something or leads us some place and we have a ton of questions, our own methods, our own agendas to push through. And, of course, his time table must fit with ours or else we’ll try to find some way to multitask and figure out how we can get what we want of before, during, or after his plan is set in motion. All of this when he tells us to be as children. Children who believe in literally anything you tell them – a chubby man who flies through the sky as he’s led by reindeer (one with a red flashlight for a nose) delivering gifts to EVERY child across this world in a matter of hours or the tooth fairy who flies around exchanging funds for teeth…. or any other mythical creatures we come up with. They believe without a shadow of a doubt… without any other proof besides the money under pillows and gifts under a tree. (I mean, that is enough, right??) Yet, we grow to learn that it’s foolish to believe in a real someone who truly existed and who has shown up for us time, after time, after time, after time. In the lives of our friends and families… in the situations we so desperately cry out to him about.

It’s so difficult for us – ME – to believe that this dude loves me to my core in spite of all of my wretchedness…. that I am his beloved…. that he cares deeply for me…. that his plans are much more amazing than anything I could imagine… that he hears me…. that he can comfort me… that he is ENOUGH.

Jesus told his disciples time and again how he was going to resurrect after three days…. he told them in parables, he told them in plain English…… English in my Bible, some other language in real life. Which is fine. But, he told them many times, in many ways. The man that healed sick people, raised other people from the dead (numerous times), caused the blind to see and the lame to walk…. THAT guy said “yea, I’m dying but I’ll be back. No worries.”

Mark 16 tells us of how Mary (his mama), Mary Magdalene, and Salome went to the tomb but didn’t find Jesus. Instead they found a couple of guys in really nice outfits who told them to spread the word that Jesus had arisen – they were scared, so they didn’t. (Sidebar – they were worrying about things like moving the stone, when the stone was already moved and taken care of. Can we say a little something about how we don’t trust God but worry about what we think may be an issue? Just a note. Moving on.)  Then, he appeared to Mary Magdalene….. She went to the disciples (who were mourning) and they didn’t believe her. Jesus showed himself to two disciples, they went to tell the others and they still. did not. believe. What was it going to take?!

No matter who came, Mary Magdalene or Jesus himself,  to tell of the resurrection from the dead, they wouldn’t believe them until He came and spoke to them himself. A total lack of faith. And, in a very Jesus like manner,  he rebuked them. And, then being the forgiving kinda guy that he is, he moved immediately from discipling/reprimanding/correcting them to letting them know that they were still his – no matter what they didn’t do or didn’t believe. He commissioned them to go spread the word, serve people, and change lives.

I admit, I have a hard time believing. When I have a bad day, although I may pray about it and spend some quiet yet distracted time with God, I still need my Chipotle bowl, possibly some ice cream, a chat with a friend, and…. and…. and…. and…. in order to feel “better”. I hear the whisper of “… but, aren’t I enough?” And, my immediate response in word is “YES! Yes, you are enough” but my response in action is faithless, because then I go buy candy and order a large fry from Chick-fil-a. Not even giving myself SPACE to be FILLED by God. I’m trying to fill this God sized void with a bunch of stuff that is a terrible habit at the least and totally unsatisfactory at best.

I’m crowding his voice out with music and my favorite movies because I feel so badly that only love stories and snacks will make me feel better. A run will help me clear my head, writing, painting, coloring…. all of those calming, peaceful activities will do the trick. But, the thing is – they don’t. I’m still needing and craving and crying and asking and begging to feel better or for my situation to change when I am not even going to the source that gives a drink that will forever quench my thirst. (John 4:8-14)

I’m busy believing in things that will fall away and increase my body fat, things that have proven to fail me…… instead of believing in the one in whom I gave my life and who sustains me daily. The one who has done great things for me and my friends. Things that are tangible. Things that I have witnessed and seen for myself. Just as the disciples saw and witnessed and were on the front row of God doing amazing things.

He gives peace and joy as we trust…. not when we have learned to trust (as in completely finished learning). Not when we have grown to trust at a level 10. But, as we trust. day by day, moment by moment leaning and depending on a God who can do all. As we learn to trust that He is capable of doing far more than we can even drum up in our minds. Isaiah says there’s no limit to his understanding so I believe that he knows its difficult to trust that some pretty major and miraculous things can happen in some pretty hard situations…. I get it. I appreciate it… so He isn’t going to wait for us to “arrive” before He grants us peace and joy as we walk through the valleys and endure the really difficult stuff He has put before us for his glory. (You gotta appreciate that… I mean, its kinda thoughtful. lol)

He will fill our cups if we allow Him room to. He’s not going to fight for space just as we don’t want to beg for attention or constantly ask to be a priority in someone’s life. He’s not going to compete against Chick-fil-a and Rachel McAdams…. He doesn’t have to. He will patiently wait with every spiritual gift, with all of his peace, with all of the comfort, and miraculous plans he has stored away for us until we recognize His greatness. Until we begin to moment by moment, and step by step believe that he is enough. More than enough. He will fill us to overflowing. Not fill to the brim of the glass so nothing will spill out… his goal is to cause us to overflow. He knows that when anything overflows it seeps under doors, saturates carpet, causes wood to expand, its soaks everything around it…. even when the overflow is stopped, it soaks and fills that which attempts to stop the spread.

The overflow causes change and effects everything around it. He knows if joy and hope are overflowing, we are actively being light to a dark world. Others will see that our circumstances aren’t shaking our faith, that bad days aren’t causing us to despair, and the unkind are being met with a grace, forgiveness, and peace that they can’t comprehend……. and, they are won over because of the overflow. They are curious. They begin to wonder “how is it that you are so…… in the midst of ….??” Just as after each and every miracle Christ performed while here on Earth, someone said “Well, who is that?” He didn’t heal because he felt bad for the people; yes he loves us, but he heals and comforts us for his own glory. Everything he did caused more to look towards him, more to become a part of the family of faith, gave more opportunities to see how trustworthy, faithful, compassionate, forgiving, and loving He is. We get to see who he is, his character, in the midst of our trials.

As we believe and as we trust in our God who is everlasting, we not only are we benefiting ourselves, serving our God, and serving others, but we are also bringing glory to his name.

Emptying ourselves so that we are filled in order to spread the gospel and serve others. So that we and others can glorify God.

And, that what this life is all about.

Y’all, will you believe with me? Will you ask to be emptied and filled to overflowing for the Lord’s sake?
He doesn’t ask us to be perfect, he doesn’t expect nor need a bunch of perfect people to work with. Just a bunch of regular folk willing to serve and be filled.

… here’s to making changes to how I “self-soothe” and living a life of faith as I actively in word and in deed trust and believe in our God.

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