teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name... psalm 86:11

Friday, April 27, 2012

for the days I feel incompetent...

As a child of God, we are qualified and we are competent to be used to spread His grace and His truth. So why don’t we believe it? Why do we live in timidity and self-doubt? Why do we still listen to the voice that tells us we’re not enough, we don’t have anything to offer, we aren’t the type of person God uses to do His kingdom work…

I think this is a battle more of us are fighting than we realize. This is why I love 2 Corinthians 3- because it’s a pep talk for the likes of us! Paul reminds fellow believers that God is writing a letter to the world through their lives… reminds them that their stories matter, that THEY matter… And to put the exclamation point on his rant, erasing any and all self-doubt they might be struggling with, he makes this statement:

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“Not that we are competent (fit, qualified, sufficient in ability) in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence (power, ability, sufficiency) comes from God. (It is He who has qualified us) He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant…”
~2 Corinthians 3:5-6a (niv & amp)

I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded of this. In my life, especially my life in ministry, I’ve been surrounded by amazing people… super dynamic, ridiculously gifted, dreamers unafraid to pursue big things for God. And then there’s me. I’m more of a background role usually, the supporter and cheerleader but not really the ring leader. I’m not the passionate speaker, but more of a listener… I am way too practical and methodical to dream audaciously… I’m becoming more introverted and awkward the older I get (really, I am!)… and I’m more of a connecter than an influencer.

Usually, I’m fine with the behind the scenes help- I don’t get jealous of the amazing people around me because we’re all working towards the same purpose of connecting this world around us to the living God. But something will happen… an opportunity arises, I find myself in a conversation, a need is presented… and I start to doubt… not necessarily what God is capable of, but what I am capable of for God. Doesn’t He know that I’m not the right girl for the job?

That’s when I so desperately need to be reminded of these words:

“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant…”

What new covenant? Grace… God has made me qualified and competent to extend His grace to others. Period. His power is at work in me and through me and no matter how much I doubt myself… He can use me. It might look differently than the way He uses other people to be ministers of His grace, but the fruit is the same.

That’s just incredible to me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

God's ways are not our ways...

Although circumstantial faith is not a healthy thing, I think it’s ok to acknowledge that God definitely uses our circumstances to get our attention, and to grow & shape our understanding of who He is…

I see this in two ways in Exodus 7- where we see God intersect history to simultaneously teach the Egyptians and the Israelites, two groups at two very different places in their knowledge of the divine…

First we read about God’s plans for revealing Himself to the Egyptians. God explains His purpose in what He’s about to do- “The Egyptians will realize that I am God when I step in and take the Israelites out of their country.”

The signs God performed may have shook them up and gained their attention {giant flying grasshoppers will do that, ya know!}, but it was only in removing the entire population of Israeli slaves that would really show them the omnipotence of God. Why? Because removing the slaves meant removing their comfort, their status, their illusion of power… and it is only in being stripped of these things that they would realize there was something bigger than themselves at work.

They “will realize that I am God”… not just a nice addition to their lives along with the other gods- He alone is God and He alone is what gives us our very existence and value and purpose. Sometimes we, like the Egyptians, need to be stripped of things to show us our need for God as Lord and not just an accessory or option.

Then, we read God’s purpose in what He’s about to do with the Israelites. God’s order to Pharaoh was to “Release my people [the Israelites] so that they can worship me in the wilderness.”

The Israelites believed, but had grown weary and discouraged in the many years of slavery… they thought that maybe God had forgotten them, maybe He wasn’t going to keep His promises after all. Their knowledge of God hadn’t waivered, but their spirit of worship perhaps had.

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The wilderness in scripture is always a place of testing, waiting, and wandering… God knew that before He could elevate them into a nation, He would have to win their adoration by a transition season in the desert wilderness. It’s in this barren place where He can show His leading, His provision, and His presence- which leads to leaning on Him and worshiping Him. The testing, waiting, and wandering probably weren’t what they would have picked to be rescued into, but God had a holy purpose in it nonetheless.

Sometimes, if we’re honest, we come to a place of questioning God’s means and methods of grabbing our attention. It seems a little cruel and unfair to use loss, suffering, wandering, and waiting to gain our affection. What kind of a God would do that? But it’s in these moments we must remember the very thing we just celebrated- that more than anyone, He Himself knows loss and suffering, being stripped of comforts and glory...

I‘m reminded of Natalie Grant’s song “Alive”… “What kind of king would choose to wear a crown that bleeds and scars to win my heart?”

Whether we identify more with the Egyptians or the Israelites at this point in our journey, we have the comfort of a Savior who relates to where we’re at and understands… and a reason to hope because the power that raised Him back to life is the same power that is at work in us and in our circumstances.

May we rest in our knowledge of Him, come what may…

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

let's blow the lid off...

For some reason, I always go to John.

The week or so before Easter, I re-read this gospel with a prayer that it would come alive in a fresh way… so that Easter wouldn’t pass by as just another holiday, so that I wouldn’t get consumed with all the activity at church and miss what exactly it is we’re celebrating. John brings me back, centers my thoughts on Jesus. It reminds me of the passion, of the sacrifice, of the hope… and that we all need resurrection in our life.

Yesterday I was reading John 9 and was struck by Jesus’ interaction with a man who had been born blind. It’s interesting to watch this man’s progression of faith as Pharisees and neighbors question him regarding how it was he could suddenly see after a lifetime of darkness. And while this whole story is incredible, it was really the first 3 verses that I couldn’t get away from.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:1-3

Jesus’ response is a powerful enough statement as is, but if you look at what the word “displayed” means in its original Greek, it’ll paint an even more dynamic picture of Jesus’ intentions for choosing this exact response.

The word phaneroo means to make visible, to show openly. It’s synonymous and often used with another word though, apokalypto, which quite literally means to remove a lid. In relationship with each other, apokalypto must precede phaneroo... all that rambling to say- we have to remove the lid we’re keeping shut on our lives so that God’s incredible power can be put on show for others to see.

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How often do we restrain the power of God- keeping a lid on what He’s able to do in and through us? We keep Him in a safe little box, confined within the parameters and space that we’re comfortable with. We give in to our limitations, circumstances, status quo because we’re so quick to settle for ordinary.

But Jesus is able to radically transform our ordinary into something incredible.

God wants to blow the lid off of things and use US as demonstrations of what He can do… but that’s not going to happen if we hide out in our perfectly comfortable, predictable, controllable worlds {and trust me, I’m mostly saying this to myself… as I am an undeniable control freak for sure!} With the lid gone, there’s no barrier stopping the overflow of God’s grace and power.

I wonder what this once blind but now seeing man would think if he knew that his story would still be echoing two thousand years later, helping others to see what God is capable of?... How’s that for blowing the lid off of what we think is possible!

May we all allow God to strip us of our lids and barriers so that HIS works might be displayed in us too…

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

living with open hands...

Oh the truth in this statement… although living in the reality of this truth just doesn’t come naturally for most. Losing something we value isn’t easy. We are a people who live with clenched fists, holding tightly to what we deem is ours, protecting what we think should be. We don’t easily let go.

Learning to live with open hands is counter-intuitive… but then again, isn’t most of our spiritual life? Our instincts say make a plan, take control- but Jesus says to be still and trust in the unknown. Everything in us screams to try harder and earn approval- but Jesus says his yoke is easy, his burden is light and his love is complete.

Living with open hands makes us vulnerable to losing things, letting good slip through our fingers… but it’s a heart that trusts in God’s goodness that is able to say, “It’s ok, a better blessing is coming to fill my hands again.” CS Lewis understood this, but I have to say, I have a hard time with this sometimes...

We read that every good and perfect gift is from above… and that the Lord wants to prosper us, not harm us… and that in all things He’s working for our good. Sometimes I fear, though, that claiming these promises for myself means I’m buying into a prosperity gospel that values health, wealth, and happiness above true communion with our Lord. I never want to be in a place of choosing the gift over the Giver of the gift.

I'm learning that in the context of these promises, we need to redefine blessing, favor, prosperity, gifts… shatter what our world has made them to mean, and see them through the lens of how God intends them. Blessings don’t always come easy. Sometimes the blessing is in the struggle, the loss, the season of waiting, the act of surrender. We live in an instant gratification society- we want something so we go get it or we make it happen. But when I look at my life, the most meaningful things that come to mind are the things where there has been tension of some sort, or things that have emerged only when I allowed God to have His way rather than trying to do things my way…

When I’ve chosen to live with open hands and a heart of trust. These are the times I’ve learned that when I lose one blessing, another is just around the corner.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

let us love...

I’m not a writer, nor do I pretend to be… but I do have an appreciation for words. Words have a way of stirring the soul and putting a voice to what is brewing within. Words have power. And every once in a while I come across words that strike deep… words I want to never forget… words I want to adopt & tattoo on my heart…

That happened the other day.

I don’t even remember how I got there, but I stumbled across a website and found this poem… a prayer, really, for us women… to live lives marked by the Lord’s authentic and genuine love. So, I’m sharing in hopes that others will be encouraged with me…

Let us be women who Love.
Let us be women willing to lay down our sword words, our sharp looks, our ignorant silence and towering stance and fill the earth now with extravagant Love.
Let us be women who Love.

 Let us be women who make room.
Let us be women who open our arms and invite others into an honest, spacious, glorious embrace.
Let us be women who carry each other.
Let us be women who give from what we have.

Let us be women who leap to do the difficult things,
the unexpected things and the necessary things.
Let us be women who live for Peace.
Let us be women who breathe Hope.
Let us be women who create beauty.
Let us be women who Love.

Let us be a sanctuary where God may dwell.
Let us be a garden for tender souls.
Let us be a table where others may feast on the goodness of God.
Let us be a womb for Life to grow.
Let us be women who Love.

Let us RISE to the questions of our time.
Let us SPEAK to the injustices in our world.
Let us MOVE the mountains of fear and intimidation.
Let us SHOUT down the walls that separate and divide.
Let us FILL the earth with the fragrance of Love.
Let us be women who Love.

Let us LISTEN for those who have been silenced.
Let us HONOR those who have been devalued.
Let us SAY ENOUGH with abuse, abandonment, diminishing and hiding.
Let us not rest until every person is FREE and EQUAL.
Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women who are savvy, smart and wise.
Let us be women who shine with the light of God in us.
Let us be women who take courage and sing the song in our hearts.
Let us be women who say YES to the beautiful, unique purpose seeded in our souls.
Let us be women who call out the song in another’s heart.
Let us be women who teach our children to do the same.
Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women who Love, in spite of fear.
Let us be women who Love, in spite of our stories.
Let us be women who Love loudly, beautifully, Divinely.
Let us be women who Love.

My soul screams amen as I read this… seriously, every line has a challenge and an encouragement in it… could you imagine how radically different the world would be if we lived this out? How radically different the Church would be? The part that really gets me is the part about singing the songs in our hearts, saying yes to the unique purpose God has planted within each of us, and then inviting others to do the same.

I’m realizing, especially as I’ve recently started a new chapter in life and ministry and friendships, that I often get excited for the song in other people’s hearts- for celebrating and believing in their callings, their gifts, their dreams… all the while turning the volume down on my own song, avoiding the process of discerning the unique purposes God has intended for me. And I love being a cheerleader for everyone else- my heart wants nothing more than to encourage others in their spiritual journey. But I’m realizing that one of the best ways I can boost and inspire others, is by living a passionate life in tune with the “beautiful, unique purposes seeded in [my own] soul.”

So… to whoever might read this… which line speaks to you?

May you find boldness and power to let it be so… and together, may we as sisters in Christ learn to be women who love like this.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Last night I found myself with some much needed quiet and much needed space… so of course I decided to fill it. Because that’s what I do. Ironically, I filled this time and space by listening to a message from our old church called “An invitation to rest.” I figured, since I don’t know how to rest, I might as well listen to a sermon on it… logical, yes?!

In his message, our pastor shared a conversation he had had with his wife where he asked her what she thinks of when she hears the word “rest”…

Her response: the cross.

Say what?! Now, I have to be honest here. When I hear the word “rest” many things come to mind, but the cross is not one of them. Far from it in fact. This pastor’s wife thinks of naps, a good book, breakfast in bed, a day with absolutely no obligations… so I was intrigued by why she thought of the cross instead…

It was on the cross that Jesus uttered his last words this side of the resurrection, “It is finished.” These are powerful words if we stop and think about it. There is nothing more we can do to add to our salvation and there is nothing that can be done to take it away. In this phrase is our invitiation...

We live in an overworked and distracted culture that doesn’t prioritize rest. We never cease striving and doing... whether in work, in life, or in faith... which speaks to the reality that deep down we look to our achievements and accomplishments for our worth and value.

Learning to prioritize rest goes against the grain of culture… it’s shows an understanding that we are not defined by our performance, but rather we are defined by who God says we are. And God says that we are loved, we are provided for, we are made strong in our weaknesses because of Christ in us… the same Christ who said, “It is finished.” Stopping the striving and learning to rest shows that we admit we are not gods and that the world will go on without us. It’s humbling to recognize our limits… but it’s also incredibly freeing.

In John 6, Jesus is asked “What must we do to be doing the works of God?” And Jesus’ answer is this: “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” The word believe means to rely upon and rest in. God wants us to just stop and be sometimes. Rest is a holy thing.

God Himself exemplified this for us when, after creating things for six days straight, He chose to rest on the seventh day. The rhythm of Jesus’ life demonstrated rest as well… He would rise to the demands of the crowds that sought Him, but the gospels tell us repeatedly that He would then retreat for rest.

Prioritizing rest honors God and His image in us. May we learn to see the value of rest and allow ourselves to press pause on occasion. And when we do find the courage to rest, may God use that time to renew and refresh our spirits...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

love... a day late...

There have been many contemplations this week regarding what love is and what love looks like in our lives…

To me, this is love…

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." matthew 11:28-30

No hoops. No expectations. No demands.

Just an invitation to be with One who loves unconditionally. Regardless of where we are or where we’ve been… regardless of who we are or who we’ve been…

True love offers an invitation into grace… into learning to live freely and lightly…

And for that, I am thankful.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

...unconditional love

So… don’t hate me, but… I may or may not have another Henri Nouwen quote. Ok, I do… it’s true… just wait for it…

Here’s the deal, there’s been a LOT of polarizing conversations and debates in the news these days… the biggies around here are to support Planned Parenthood or not to support and to legally recognize gay marriage or leave it as a no-go… neither are simple issues and neither have simple solutions.

I don’t bring these examples up so that I can argue a particular stance and invite further division amongst us. I bring them up because I think these issues are close to God’s heart. How do I know that God cares about such things? Because they involve people… and God has a crazy fierce, devoted, invested, passionate love for people. All people.

I’m so sad at the way God’s name has been dragged through the mud with these and other cultural, political, global issues. Christians are seen as haters rather than lovers, and their God is a joke. I think the church has failed at demonstrating the love and grace that is theirs in Jesus, and caused more wounds than healing by trying to push certain views. I’m pretty convinced that arguing morality doesn’t save souls.

But at the same time, we are called to take a stand. So how do you communicate the boundaries and parameters that God has set for His creation, for His children, without sounding harsh and legalistic? I think it boils down, really, to how we communicate God’s love…

“God’s love is unconditional… there are no ifs in God’s heart. God’s love for us does not depend on what we do or say, on our looks or intelligence, on our success or popularity. God’s love for us existed before we were born and will exist after we have died… Does that mean that God does not care what we do or say? No, because God’s love wouldn’t be real if God didn’t care. To love without condition does not mean to love without concern… We often confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. God loves us without conditions but does not approve of every human behavior.”
~henri nouwen

Our culture has instilled a fear of rules and restrictions in us, so now we associate them with control and manipulation. There’s a resistance to “staying in the lines.” Sometimes this can be healthy, but sometimes it can be detrimental. It takes a huge paradigm shift… really, the work of the Holy Spirit… to bring us to a place where we can see God’s instruction to us as a way of protecting us and showing us true freedom. We won’t see His “rules” as a good thing until we learn His concern and love behind them.

My prayer is that we, as the church, can learn to demonstrate His concern in a healthy, healing way that intrigues people to learn more of who this God of unconditional love is, rather than causing them to put walls up to keep this God out.

“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.” ...1 Peter 3:15-16

Monday, February 6, 2012

...what's your story?

This weekend was the first official day on the job for my husband at our new church. It felt like a whirlwind of names and faces as we met the families and individuals of our new community there. I’m excited, anxious, overwhelmed, humbled… but mostly, I am antsy… I’m antsy to dive in and build relationships and to learn who these people are beyond just their names and faces.

Because here’s the thing, each of them has a story. And there’s nothing I love more than to hear people’s stories.

As I interacted with all these new people and dreamt of the day when I would be more connected and know them better, I was reminded of the first sermon I heard this year. It was a message emphasizing the fact that everyone’s life is a story being written, and that every story has a message to share. Our stories are important because our stories matter…

Our hope as believers is that ultimately our lives would be a story demonstrating love and redemption and the beauty of Jesus.

I love what Paul writes to the Corinthian church about the power of the story of a transformed life…

Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God's living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives… We wouldn't think of writing this kind of letter about ourselves. Only God can write such a letter. His letter authorizes us to help carry out this new plan of action. The plan wasn't written out with ink on paper, with pages and pages of legal footnotes, killing your spirit. It's written with Spirit on spirit, his life on our lives! ...2 Cor. 3:1-5

What a powerful image- as we open ourselves to God’s work in our life, He uses it as a communication tool to speak into those around us. We have the privilege of telling the story of God’s power and love to this world- a world that is craving something to find hope in. And what I’ve learned to love most about this is the beauty of diversity in the way God writes into people’s lives, into their stories. It doesn’t matter how dramatic or how simple the story is, though… because really we’re all just broken sinners who need to be restored to our Father, our Creator, our Savior.

This is a universal truth… not just for theologians, or public figures, or people who have been through extremes… your story matters too! You are crafted perfectly and intentionally by God for God. You are valuable. You have a message to share, and it doesn’t rely on carefully crafted words or persuasive arguments… it’s a message shared by opening up your life and letting the story of God at work in and through you be seen. Our stories are constantly unfolding and being continually woven with each new day, and God delights in using us as His letter to others.

“…we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” -Paul

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

an invitation to forgive...

This past Sunday was the last week for my husband and I to attend service at our church… it was a place we thought was going to be a rest stop but it ended up becoming a home. It’s a church that values grace & truth, wholeness, generosity, mission, and creativity. And as we move on to the new church we’ve been called to serve at, it’s a tad bittersweet because of the growth we’ve experienced and the friendships we’ve made during this past year. {Don’t get me wrong, though, we are extremely excited too!}

Our leaving is taking place smack dab in the middle of a series of messages centered around the invitations of God… looking at what exactly it is that Jesus invites us into when we choose to follow Him. I came to church on Sunday hopeful and expectant for this final message there.

This week’s invitation was: “The Invitation to Forgive”… and one of the first things our Pastor said was that we will never experience the heart of God more than when we are participating in forgiveness and showing others grace. Because forgiveness IS the very heart of God.

I guess I never thought of it that way. Dang.

Our text was Matthew 18:21-35, a parable Jesus himself spoke that illuminates this tendency we all have to want grace for ourselves, but justice for everyone else. Why is it so easy to justify and explain away our own actions and attitudes, but so hard to extend that same benefit of the doubt to those who have wronged or hurt us?

The parable ends with a harsh statement that, quite honestly, I’ve never really known what to do with. Jesus says that the fate of the unforgiving servant is the same fate that awaits us unless we forgive our brothers and sisters from the heart. I’ve wrestled with this because it seems to put restrictions and qualifications on this grace that we so often speak of as being “free” and unwarranted by anything we do ourselves.

I’m starting to get it though… to see that it’s not a statement meant to strike fear, but rather it’s an invitation to experience the freedom Jesus offers. If we are so stuck in the shackles of bitterness and anger, then either we haven’t really grasped or accepted God’s forgiveness or we’re allowing something/someone to block its power for transformation in our lives.

So how are we to respond to someone who has wounded or wronged us? We seek to have the same reaction as the king had with his servant- “The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt, and let him go.” There is so much to this simple statement that we unpacked in church but here’s the nutshell recap:

- To pity means to allow our hearts to go out to them… to allow our heart to see a bigger picture, a picture in which we’re all sinners and broken.

- To cancel the debt doesn’t mean to just brush it off and pretend it never happened… there’s healing in acknowledging the damage done, but we then “absorb the debt” like the King did and move on.

- To let them go… take them down from the hook you’ve hung them up on and release them to the Lord. Why is it important to do this? Because by this act of grace, that person might be changed.

Over and over again in scripture, we are told to “forgive as you have been forgiven”… God is the standard and the foundation of this invitation {my pastor’s words- wish I could take credit!}. We need to remember that we are not the king or the judge, we are but a servant. A servant who has been let off the hook for a debt we could never repay. A servant who is invited to be in the presence of a King who is loving and who is just.

May we never lose sight of how much we’ve been forgiven… and may we learn to live lives that exude that same grace to others so that they too may be drawn to the King.


Friday, January 27, 2012

wandering minds...

“Our minds are always active. We analyze, reflect, daydream, or dream. There is not a moment during the day or night when we are not thinking. You might say our thinking is ‘unceasing’... Our ability to think is our greatest gift, but it is also the source of our greatest pain. Do we have to become victims of our unceasing thoughts? No, we can convert our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer by making our inner monologue into a continuing dialogue with our God, who is the source of all love. Let’s break out of our isolation and realize that Someone who dwells in the center of our beings wants to listen with love to all that occupies and preoccupies our minds.” {henri nouwen}
I came across this Nouwen quote and immediately thought how relatable it was to the way my brain works… which slightly resembles a hamster on a wheel constantly running, running, running. Mental rest and stillness are hard to come by for this girl, and the crowdedness of my head typically doesn’t mesh well with the stereotypes of spiritual discipline that we’re encouraged to pursue for spiritual growth. But I love what Nouwen says, because the real spiritual discipline is learning to invite God into where we’re at. Instead of trying to force all thoughts out of mind to focus on the holy, we invite the holy to be a part of our right now.

While there is beauty in carving out time and space from our schedules (and thoughts) to sit before the Lord, I think there’s just as much beauty in consciously choosing to acknowledge His presence in the midst of our chaos. He’s there, He knows, and He loves us just as much in the mess and busyness as He does in the calm and still.

So today, I’m choosing to dialogue instead of monologue. Me and God have been discussing the swell of emotions with my husband’s new Youth Pastor job (praise God!), the anxiousness over finding an apartment and moving sometime in the VERY near future, the friendships I feel like I’m horribly neglecting, the ongoing to-do list I just simply don’t have time for, the cleaning of our apartment that isn’t going to get done before friends come over tonight… yup, this is where I’m at right now… and I’m so thankful that God is here with me in it.

“So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”
...romans 12:1 (msg)...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

our daily bread...

On Monday I realized it was time… time to start writing again… the excuse of the holidays and busyness had long been expired. So I started to put words together in my mind while perusing through my morning blog list. But then, I stumbled upon this...

It was like she had literally peered inside my head and written down my thoughts for me {but much more eloquently} and posted it before I had a chance to. Kind of a little freaky, not gonna lie. So I stopped gathering my thoughts, since they’d already been said, and moved on to something else I’d been learning.

But today I find myself reminded of this again… and I wonder if I should still share it? When I started this blog it was a way to document things I’ve been learning- what God has shown me through His Word and through life. It was a new way to explore the two things I’m most passionate about- scripture and sharing life with others. So to be true to myself, I’m deciding to still explore these lingering thoughts and share them… even if they’ve been said before…

So here’s the deal… the honest truth… although I did take a break from posting anything for the holidays, I was mentally hoarding the holy whispers and the lessons lived from those weeks so I would have an arsenal of inspiration for when I started posting things again. Seemed like a good idea, right?!

But then, when I sat down to flesh some of these thoughts out and commit them to paper, there was nothing… these once profound meditations that had encouraged me, challenged me, motivated me had seemingly lost their intensity. What was holy sustenance one day was mere ramblings now. If God’s Word is unchanging in purpose and power, then why was there this shift in the specific responses it stirred within me?

As I was thinking about this I realized… God’s Word, His truth, wasn’t what had changed. It was ME that had changed. It’s like that old Heraclitus quote that speaks of how you can’t step into the same river twice because neither you or the river are the same. It’s the same with scripture…not that IT changes… but its application for you is going to morph as you approach it through the context of each day’s triumphs and struggles, hopes and fears, circumstances and relationships, and the other myriad of things that influence and affect us on a daily basis. 

I was reminded of Jesus’ prayer… “Give us THIS DAY our DAILY bread…” When we come to His table, He is faithful to feed us. And the way He feeds us is by speaking truth and light into where our hearts are at in that moment. It’s not that God’s Word is subjective and can be read into however you please… but He has a way of perfectly intersecting our lives with exactly what we need to hear. And when we’re too busy looking back, we can be blind to the present.

I realized that I was holding onto all of my yesterdays’ bread… and just like the Israelites that tried to stockpile the manna… it lost its freshness and its ability to nourish me. And also like the Israelites, I realized that ultimately this was a trust issue- Did I trust that God would feed my heart again? Was I allowing Him to reveal Himself in my life TODAY?

…may we share in Jesus’ prayer for this daily bread… and may we release our fists and hold on to what we’re learning with open hands, so that God may fill them again…

Monday, January 9, 2012

the kind of faith I want...

2012… it’s a blank page- a new year of hopes, dreams, goals, resolutions, commitments, adventures… but I also know that for some it’s a new year of questions, doubts, fears, and frustrations. I’m kind of somewhere in the middle if I were being honest, but I’m trying to lean more to the optimistic side. I’m learning the value of change, that growth can come from transition, and that faith is best cultivated when living in the unknown. And I’m constantly being reminded that my perspective on my circumstances needs to be deeply rooted in who scripture says God is.

I came across the most fitting description of what faith should look like when you’re living in the fog of the unknown… the kind of faith I strive for. It’s words that Peter used to encourage fellow believers of his time while they were going through a season where it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. He writes of their steadfast faith…

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy…” {1 Peter 1:8}

We can take this verse at face value and interpret the word for seen/see as strictly “to perceive with your eyes”… but the beauty of the original languages of scripture is that there’s usually a deeper meaning… one that might resonate a little stronger with us. Here, for instance, the word translated seen/see can also mean “to perceive with your mind, to recognize, to detect or notice.” Forgive my boldness in taking liberty to paraphrase God’s Word, but in the context of this second definition, this verse could also read…

“Though you struggle to recognize and notice God’s work in your life, you still choose to love him; and even though right now in this moment you can’t detect that God’s hand is active in your circumstances, you still believe in His presence in your life and are filled with a deep and overwhelming joy…”

I love this. I want to be defined by this. In the darkest seasons… or the loneliest seasons… or the most confusing seasons… we can still have hope and choose to believe in God’s goodness and in His love for us. Even if we are blind to what God is doing in and through us, we can choose to trust. Even if things aren’t resolved or righted here on earth, we have the ultimate promise of restoration and redemption in heaven. THAT is something to have joy in, the type of joy that nothing and no one can steal.

This year, no matter what life may look like, may we rest in this unwavering faith based on the character of who God is and in His promises that are ours through our faith in Him and in what Jesus Christ has already done for us… may we know this inexpressible and glorious joy…