quickie

Things don’t aways turn out the way I’d prefer for them to. As a matter of fact, they rarely do.

And, if you read this post, you’ll see that’s the main reason I had so much trouble with my faith. While I was asking God for the things I wanted, my focus was those THINGS. Not God. As horrible as that sounds, I do love Jesus and I think he’s the bomb.com but the issue was – I wanted THINGS and, if not more than I wanted a relationship with him.

Once I got to a point where I wanted God more than ANYTHING….. A lot of my control issues and stressors dissipated. I was able to let things a lot easier because they didn’t matter. At all.

So, this is what I dawned on me today:

We were created to worship God.
ONLY.
That is the PURPOSE for our creation.
To praise God and bring Him glory.

The positions he puts us in, the roles we are allowed to play, and the things were are given are but temporary.

Parenting is temporal. Our professions are temporal. As are our cars, homes, clothes, and favorite wines. People are temporal (thankfully, our souls are not!).

They will not last.

But our God will. Our relationships with our God will last until forever.

Yes, I want desperately to be a mother (and do/have/experience plenty of other things), but not more than I want to worship and commune with God.
If it happens, I will for sure worship. If it doesn’t happen, I am still able to worship because my worship is no longer tied to blessings by any percent. But, 100% tied to who He is.

Oh, things are so much easier let go of this way. Issues that burden me are so much easier given to God. Disappointments and heart breaks don’t tear me away from my God. And, people are so much easier to love.

Everything doesn’t work out the way we want it to go, and we have to often endure some less than ideal circumstances, but none of what we deal with with is too much for our God to handle.

…. press on, pray on. this isn’t our circus.

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… give it up to gain

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I am a huge fan of She Reads Truth, an online community of women who study the Word and share their thoughts on the lessons. This time is geared towards Lent and yesterday’s scripture is still so deeply effecting me. Combined with Kari Jobe’s Here – I’m a mess.

I initially saw it on Insta and my mind immediately to how God loves us so deeply and hears us when we pray to so desperately to fill us and comfort us. I thought it sweet how that he would “satisfy our desires in the scorched places and makes our bones strong” and after all of the enduring, we would be revived and refreshed…. in Him. Sounded so sweet…. I began to think of the scorched places and the broken pieces of my heart and how I so seriously want God to satisfy my most basic desires and strengthen me. I thought of how God had already refreshed me so many times and how my faith and hope that came from all of that kept me moving.

lol….

That’s before I went to the scripture and read the chapters 57 and 58. Isaiah is talking about fasting. Not being comforted in day to day struggles, but how when we turn to God and seek him diligently in the way of fasting, how those things we have put away for a season and are sacrificing that we have come to depend on and “need”, the desires for the Coke, the online time, the TV, or shopping, how those desires will be met by a God who does see you, your motives, and heart. He contrasts the way the Israelites fasted to the way God really desires us to fast.  Isaiah pointed out how the Israelites gave up their Cokes, stepped away from their phones/TV/etc for a certain amount of time, and chose not to eat whatever but still treated those around them poorly. Certainly, while seeking God and making the most concerted effort to be near him won’t result to selfishness, fighting, and acting unlovingly toward those around you. This time before the Lord should change you.

I do believe that the last portion of my initial thoughts surrounding this scripture are near the mark, but didn’t quite make it. The goal and hope at the end of a fasting experience is that we feel refreshed, renewed, and more deeply connected to God. Hopefully, we have taught ourselves that what we thought was so necessary truly isn’t. Hopefully these days leading up to Easter will show us that when we depend so deeply on God that He will not only sustain, but satisfy us. That He will strengthen us and give us an energy and a vitality about us that we hadn’t experienced in a while.  Not only because we’re giving these things up but because we’re building a relationship with our Savior. Hopefully we are remembering that this freedom and closeness to God is available to us because of the greatest sacrifice of Jesus. We are diligently seeking Him out and he’s restoring us. He’s revealing things to us. He is showing us his character and graciously pruning us so that we can bear and share the fruits of His spirit. Hopefully the lack of ___ isn’t sending us over the edge but providing us with opportunities to rely on God. To pray and be still for moments spent in His presence.

A few days before Lent began, I read an article that broadened my thoughts about the sacrifices we make during Lent. I’m not Catholic but because I am a Christian, I obviously enjoy the thoughts behind this season, so I would participate. And, give up things that either didn’t mean much or I would literally get bored of it (truth) and halphazardly engage. So sad, yet so true. And, I know I’m not the only kid raising my hand in class when asked, “Has anyone ever …” lol. But, this year, I’m in a different place. A hopeful and very thirsty place. So, with the new revelation about the limitless possibilities of what is a very personal sacrifice and the state of beauty in limbo I find myself in, I’m pretty thrilled and am enjoying  this time.

And, I’ve had to adjust my sacrifice a bit since I’m on Spring Break (ha-lle-lu-jah) and sleeping in a bit but nonetheless I have noticed a severe shift in my being since committing. Even though I’ve goofed a few times just out of plain HABIT, I’m doing alright. This time has been incredible and refreshing.

I’ve learned so much about myself in the stillness. There’s a lot that I’ve realized I’ve been stifling in an effort to be a certain way… letting little bits of me come out without realizing that that fullness of who I am is good. It is okay. I don’t have to fit into a certain mold or keep who I am under lock and key for fear of rejection. A lesson I’ve had difficulty learning forever.  I feel like the Israelites in the wilderness going to God about the same things over and over when He has shown them the truth of who He is and what He can do. I’m still sitting foolishly unable to believe. That word…. believe. Keeps tapping me on my shoulder.
While God made me who I am and loves me just as I am – I’m learning how to be who I am in Him. Desiring to see the purpose in how I was created. Learning self control and wisdom in the when and how. Learning to bear and share in the grace of God. Learning to be meek and mild and bold and brave with tact and humility.

Because I’ve enjoyed this quiet so much, I’m considering tweaking my sacrifice a bit and hopefully this Lenten season sacrifice will become a forever type elimination. I just want more of Him.

… here’s to reading full chapters and getting context & enjoying the warmth of the Light!

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… 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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