As a preschooler, I learned I had a sin problem and needed Jesus to save me from it. When I asked Him to be my rescue, I became dead to sin and alive to God. I learned the old had gone, and the new had come. But I was also encouraged to put off sin and put on Christ.
Just one little problem. How exactly do you put Christ on? That was a hard idea to wrap my head around.
Then I grew up a bit and realized–I really don’t feel so dead to sin.
So I managed my sin by trying to hide it, trying to look the way I was supposed to, or pretending it wasn’t there. Back then, there was a Sin Rating System floating around, and for the most part, my sins stayed off the really naughty list.
To be honest, sin didn’t grieve me. I didn’t think holiness was possible, for me or anyone else. And so I occasionally asked God to forgive me of “all my sins”–without owning any of them.
When I grew closer to the Lord as an adult, I started to care more about holiness. I didn’t want sin to control me, to be my master, in any way. I wanted to live in victory, and began striving for it. But that didn’t work out so well.
Victory over sin begins with belief. Not only belief in Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life. But also belief in our new identity in Christ.
Romans 6 says,
Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
To count yourself means to accept it as true, believe it, and act as if it were true.
Once we call out to Jesus for salvation, we are IN Christ. We identify with Him. This is our position—our status before God: dead to sin.
We have been baptized with Christ. We have died with Christ and been raised with Him to a new way of life. Sin no longer controls us. It has no power over us.
Now we can LIVE FROM a place of victory, instead of trying to attain victory.
But our position often does not match our practice. The Bible says we have been made new (positionally), but we are being made new (practically). For the rest of our lives, the way we live should grow closer and closer to our position IN Christ.
I struggled to believe my position, my new identity in Christ, because I knew what was in me. I lived out of that reality, which I could see and measure—more than I lived by faith out of my position in Christ.
Even as new creations, sin deceives us. We get entangled in it sometimes. We forget who we are, and we need to remember our identity in Christ.
IN Christ, we are dead to sin and ALIVE to God.
We are new, but we are also in the process of being made new.
So put on Christ and learn to see yourself this way. Offer yourself to God day after day, and He will enable you to live the life you were meant for.
Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.
What do you do when you do “that thing” that you promised yourself you would
absolutely – under no circumstances – do?
What do you do when you feel crushed inside that you did it?
Much like Paul, I know what I need to do, but then I do the opposite. I do the exact thing I didn’t want to do – and then I feel like pulling my hair out because I did it.
So, my question to God is, “How do you change when your heart says yes but your actions seem to say no?”
Because just the other day I promised myself I WOULD NOT give my husband advice – only to stand outside and instruct him on precisely the right way to remove a buried car from the snow.
In the end, the only thing left buried was – me, myself and I. Under the weight, my actions and my emotions weighed over me, making me feel like I could never escape. They made me uncertain about where to go from here and how to dig myself out from the shame, guilt and regret piled above.
I prayed for a new behavior and looked to the Savior. I sought a new way, but old tricks seemed here to stay. I wanted to be Christ-like, but ended up as one to dislike.
I desired to be holy, but was left feeling wholly inadequate.
As I looked at that car, still buried in the snow, despite my best efforts, I felt like a fraud. I felt like a woman who says she wants more of Jesus, but then, can’t act accordingly. I felt like a hypocritical scumbag loaded up with a bag of empty promises to God.
Because I knew what I didn’t want to do – and then I did it.
But God, the God who is so amazing – he comes to my rescue. He shows up on my doorstep eager to set me free. He stands, ready with a huge shovel in hand, hoping that I will allow him to uncover me from the mess I have found myself under.
And I let him.
Step-by-step, scoop-by-scoop he unburies me.
He removes my load.
1st Scoop: I know what you did and I see beyond your actions to your heart.
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)
2nd Scoop: I am doing something. I hear your call. I know your desire to change. I am doing something new in you. You can’t see it, but trust it. Trust my hand upon you. My work takes time.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Is. 43:19)
3rd Scoop: Don’t dwell on the past. The past is the past. I am worried about the present. I am more concerned with what I am doing today. We have somewhere to go and if you are always looking in the rear view mirror, you won’t be able to drive anywhere with me.
“Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past.” (Is. 43:18)
4th Scoop: You don’t see what I am doing. You can’t see from the beginning to the end, like I can. I am making everything beautiful. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t get dismayed. It will be beautiful – in my proper timing.
“GOD has made everything beautiful for its own time. HE has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of GOD’S work from beginning to end.” (Ec. 3:11)
5th Scoop: Every moment I am working a new thing. All the time, I am at work. Nothing is ever left unchanged with me. You mess up and I start working something new again. You desire change and I offer new thing after new thing after new thing. One day, we will celebrate – because a day will come where all my work is unveiled.
“Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” (Is. 42:9)
6th Scoop: Re-new means to make new over and over again. All the time I am making new your mind. This is a process. We are working together, so you don’t have to get down. You will fall and I will help you back up to transform your mind- bit by bit – again and again.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Ro. 12:2)
7th Scoop: Don’t lose heart. You are growing, changing and transforming. My change is so delicate that you almost can’t feel it. It is so loving that it is tender. It is so gentle that it’s like a the gentle first washing of a newborn.
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor. 4:16)
Scoop-by-scoop the Lord’s truth unburies me so that I can stand in front of him not as a cold frozen girl who is shamed by her inabilities, but as a girl who is loved, encouraged and empowered to trust God in his process of sanctification.
God is at work in us and through us, even if we can’t see it.
Let’s trust his process. Let’s rest in his ways.
We can, therefore, step out and uncover our hearts to true life change. We don’t have to fear the process or the master worker, because his ways are gentle. He will bring us to completion.
He will do this – despite how buried we are in the process.
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6)
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When I was in 3rd grade, I was so self-conscious. I don’t know what it was. Maybe it just the weird stage between girl and woman. Maybe it was because my frizzy hair was too big to go unnoticed. Maybe it was because my reading skills were lackluster.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason.
But, what I do know is that I sat at a very vulnerable place of life – a place where the prick of another’s words had the power to wound deeply.
Today, I can’t remember the majority of the words that hit those dark places but, I do remember the feelings and my actions.
I remember that I felt less than, not as good as everyone else, hurt by degrading words, unappreciated, left out because I wasn’t as smart, scared to go to school, made fun of, punished and angry.
I remember those things.
I remember sitting on the side of sidewalk alone while others jumped rope. I remember wandering around my yard wondering if God saw me. I remember faking sick to get attention. I remember others laughing at my big nose. I remember lying to gain approval of my classmates. I remember the fear of another school day.
Those things I remember.
The thing about the past is – it lasts.
Somehow as a child, we are under the delusion that when we grow up, we grow out of these feelings. But, what happens is these things grow up with us – and then they grow inside of us. They grow bigger and bigger in our mind as we replay events, words and circumstances that hurt us.
Often, the things spoken – to us – have a way of becoming attached – to us. They define what we think about ourselves.
They grow like living giants in our mind.
They power over truth to tell us that we are too small to conquer them,
too weak to win
and too powerless to do anything about whom they claim us to be.
So, we allow our minds to marinate on words and situations of decades past – how they made us feel. How they pierced us. How they damaged us. How we are beyond repair.
We have all been damaged, haven’t we? We have all lost a sense of ourselves due to the words of another.
Often we shove our pain into the closet of our mind. There, it sits and, like mold, it grows in the dark. It may be unseen but make no mistake, it is still there. Left unchecked, it wreaks havoc in our lives. It expands way beyond our closet doors.
It shows up in the little aspects of our lives – our responses, our fears and our inadequacies.
I am not sure what pain you carry today – it could be words of a parent, it could be a time of abuse, it could be the actions of a spouse, fighting parents, mean kids or sins past.
Whatever it is, promise yourself to take the risk to acknowledge
the power these events hold over you right now.
Because words and actions from decades past
have a way of taking residence in our hearts.
They move in – and move God out.
Unknowingly, we offer these well-acquainted houseguests space to rule our life.
We become familiar with their same old stories of fear, doubt, shame and regret. So much so that we let them impact our relationships with God and others. Fear and negative feelings push others away.
Our unwelcome guests, our living giants, won’t back down unless we step up.
The choice is ours – we can live in denial, and pretend they don’t exist, or we can live in truth and resist.
Because giants don’t have to walk around with a ball and a chain to chain us down. They hold power.
Trapping power. Life squeezing power. Demotivating power. Power to depress us.
But, there is good news. Just because we have lived with these giants for so long, doesn’t mean that we have to keep them around.
Why? Because, we have one who sees us just as we are.
He sees the hurting girl on the sidewalk,
he sees the fake cries for attention,
and he sees the tears shed from the words of another.
However, when this One looks at us, he doesn’t chide us.
He doesn’t laugh at our pain.
He simply loves us.
His heart beats for ours.
He desires to grab hold of our empty hand to lead us right up to the foot of the cross – where healing is always found.
Here, we can see ourselves for who we are. Here, we can see ourselves as greater than our past.
We can see beyond the pains that have held us.
Here, we are overcomers of our circumstances – because one stands above any circumstance, higher than any situation and more powerful than any word.
Here, we can let him into the deepest recesses of our heart
and let him push out the unwelcome guests that have overstayed their welcome.
Jesus looks at us and sees our inadequacies – yet, he embraces them.
He sees our failings – and he holds them.
He witnesses our shortcomings – and he forgives them.
He is greater. He is stronger. And, he is bigger.
He looks at us and smiles.
Because, he is our Abba Daddy. Our ultimate daddy.
He looks at us, pleased, and he says:
I love you. (John 3:16)
I accept you. (John 6:37)
I care for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
I have not forgotten you. (Psalm 139:7-10)
I see you. (Psalm 33:13)
I know you. (John 10:3)
I will provide for you. (Matthew 6:31-32)
I will not abandon you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
I will not abuse you. (John 3:16)
I will not forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)
I will take residence in your heart, as you trust me. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
I will transform you. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I will get you past your past. (Colossians 3:9-10)
I will heal your pains. (Psalm 147:3)
I will love your soul. (Psalm 86:15)
I will hold your hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
I will restore you. (2 Peter 1:4)
I will redeem you. (1 Peter 2:24)
Your daddy stands, arms open, longing, eager to embrace you. He expectantly waits, hoping you run to him with all that you are, so you can receive all of who He is.
Unveiling your past pains before the great healer, allows your past pain to become healed pain. The Spirit of the sovereign Lord more and more takes residence in your heart and he pushes out all looming creepy giants.
There simply is no room for both.
God is the master giant slayer. He never changes. He helps the weak and makes us strong – in Him. We can tackle these giants by the strength of our Lord. And by his strength, we become free.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Cor. 3:17)
Freedom from chains. Freedom from fears. Freedom from abuse. Freedom from shame. Freedom from regret. Freedom from the past.
Christ can overcome it all. The question is – will we let him? Or will we let the dark stay the dark and pretend it’s not there?
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I try, I fail.
I parent, I don’t do a good enough job.
I try to do right with my husband, but I take the wrong approach.
I reverse my car and slam it into my babysitter’s.
I serve another and get anxious in frustration.
I pray to be patient, but I’m impatient with the never-ending tears.
I want to be a good daughter, but feel like I have no time.
I say more of you God, but get distracted by life.
All the time, I feel not good enough, not together enough and not smart enough to do things right.
All the time, I drop the ball in one way or another.
But, under the surface of all my failings, below the layer of trials that lay on me, I have a choice to make.
Under the muck that seeks to keep me stuck in little lies that could lead to my demise, yes, this choice still remains:
Will I believe what God says about me?
Or will I believe what I feel about me?
Because the truth is, my feelings will sink me deeper and deeper into guilt, shame and a feeling of hopelessness, while God’s truth will lift me higher and higher into peace, power and a sense of fullness.
The truth is: God will keep me.
He will keep me in the palm of his hand.
He will keep me from harm.
He will keep his presence in front of me, behind me, above me and below me.
He will keep me in the beauty he displays through the sun, the wind and the waves.
He will keep my foot from slipping.
He will walk me in truth.
He will show me another way when the enemy comes to tempt.
He will guide me by the Spirit.
He will pray for me when I don’t even know how.
He will forgive and throw out every stone of sin I have confessed.
He will never let me go.
He will never forget me.
He will always keep me.
He will prepare a room in heaven for me.
He will comfort me in the meantime.
He will listen to my every prayer.
He will work all things together for good for me, because I love him and am called according to his purpose.
He will always be for me.
He will always advocate for me.
He will help me in my moments of distress.
He will give to me as a father gives to a beloved daughter.
He will be by my side.
He will always know my heart.
He will always know my thoughts.
He will always provide me his truth.
And, he will never pluck me from his hand.
He will never say goodbye to me based on my actions.
He will never ever no-way, no-how, stop loving me.
This is how good my God is!
His words speak like a permanent love letter to my heart.
Because God is who He is. He is the great I AM. If you just ARE, you can never change.
I can change, but he can’t.
I can do a bad thing and feel plucked from his hand, or fall and feel less than or I sin and feel unforgivable, but his character can’t be altered.
I can change how I act, but he is always the same. He is always one ready to forgive, standing right beside me, hand on my shoulder – willing to love.
The question is, “Will I believe it?”
Doesn’t it really come down to faith?
Will I believe he will keep me?
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Ps. 139.13-14)
Did you notice this line – “I know that full well”?
Do you know it full well that you are always his, eternally adored and always accepted because you are a child of the living King?
Let’s go from believing by the power of our mind to believing by the depths of our soul.
It will make all the difference in the world – to know full well.
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I remember when Valentine’s Day was a big deal. You either loved the question, What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? because you had ultra-romantic plans. Or you dreaded the question because you had no plans.
Now, Valentine’s Day is really more of an annoyance than anything else. Since neither Luke nor I possess gift giving as a love language we like to say every day is Valentine’s Day, thereby relieving each other of any and all romance-based sweets or surprises. It works for us.
Even so, the day still remains and lots of people spend lots of money to show their love.
Last year I started wondering, though.
Why is the heart this day’s cover girl?
Buy a girl a pack of M&Ms on V-Day and you’re likely to get a roll of the eyes, or worse, in return. But give a girl chocolate in a heart-shaped box and Voila! You made a smile. Kids cut out hearts or make them with macaroni noodles. Stuffed bears hold them. Little girls wear them.
Our baby girl, Leah, wears these pajamas with little hearts all about.
The boys love them because it reminds them of a cow. They’re super cute, but I’m looking at these hearts and thinking, Is that right? Does a heart really paint the picture of love?
This year, I think if I want to show my love I’ll fashion a picture of my life … laid down.
Because that’s what Jesus did. And that’s what He said.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (KJV)
Or maybe I’ll draw a bunch of little brains.
Brains deciding to smile instead of scream.
Or teach instead of tear down.
Or offer mercy instead of judgement.
Or simply be quiet instead of spilling all of my opinions.
No way that image looks as cute as the cow-print hearts, but I think that’s more realistic.
Because isn’t real love a little gritty sometimes? Isn’t it practical more often than poetic?
But, somehow the real-life love is more romantic than the, “Katy, will you accept this rose?” kind.
Like that night …..
In a rental home in Jacksonville, Florida, Luke and I shared a small room with two big dogs, a newborn baby girl and a knee machine. Two months earlier Luke tore a ligament in his knee. Surgery fixed him. Rehab strengthened him. But rehab came with a machine – in the bed, all night – bending and straightening Luke’s knee. We figured we got the 1920’s version of said machine, since it squeaked and creaked with every extension.
Add the newborn to the mix and an occasional re-positioning of the giant dogs in the corner, and we weren’t sleeping much. Cherry on top: the boys got a stomach bug, and we found out about it in the middle of the night.
While Luke helped Jonah into the shower I scrubbed the carpet. The rest is a blur. Except for one moment.
The next day, after dogs and knee machines and newborns and throw-up, Luke came home from work. I expected him to fall into the nearest chair and snore, but he didn’t.
Instead, he found me. With a smile he bent over to kiss my forehead and said,
“There’s no one else in the world I’d rather clean up puke with at 3 a.m. than you. I love doing life with you.”
You’ll likely never find those words etched on a Hallmark card, but they are etched on my heart forever. Not because they came in a pretty package. Not because I felt all warm and fuzzy inside. But because real love met real life, and it bloomed.
That memory – that awful memory – makes me smile today. And, you know, I think Jesus might say the same.
“Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)
Have you ever seen real love in real life? Will you share it with me here?Leave a Comment! Let’s celebrate when real love meets real life and blooms!
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I am more in love with my husband then ever. I admire his strength, his intelligence and his passion. I admire his intellect, his words and his heart. He challenges me to be greater than myself, stronger than my weaknesses and courageous when I feel scared. He is my all-in-all.
And, that’s my problem.
You see, day’s come where everything in my husband’s life doesn’t go as planned. There are unforeseen days when unexpected storms roll through.
Days when he needs space. When he needs to process. When he needs to think. When he needs direction.
And, it’s these days – the days of waiting, uncertainty, or struggle – when I want to fix things for him. I want to work things out. I want to problem solve.
I put on my captain’s hat, stand up against the swirling winds and breathe in the air of his every emotion – then, I set a course. Clearly, I feel I command his destiny; I can direct his future.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil. 2:3-4)
I wrongly think I can mend his feelings.
Then, I feel bad, because he feels bad. I feel worried, because he feels worried. I feel impatient because he feels impatient. I feel whatever he is feeling and then I feel I have to find a way to throw the feelings overboard. Why? Because they are uncomfortable.
– Rescue him
– Give advice
– Explain my fears
– Fix him
– Downplay the situation
– Amplify the predicament
– Get defensive
– Cut him off mid-sentence
– Develop an action plan
– Explain what he did wrong so he can fix it
– Get angry
You can guess how this goes over.
While I try to help him set sail, I miserably fail.
The only thing I succeed in doing is being unproductive and arrogant.
Why do I think I can “fix him”?
Who am I to think I can tie all his ropes up into perfect little knots?
Who am I to think that I am the anchor of his life?
If I, at best, do a wonderful job of listening and reflecting – even then, I still can’t provide him a refuge, a calm sea, or a way out of the storm. I have no control over that.
If I, unwittingly, allow the sum of all his emotions to blow right into me, I will never have the capability to minister to him as God has designed me to.
If I am one being tossed from left to right and back again, how can I help him stand straight?
It’s impossible. Because we are in the same sinful condition. Sure we are one flesh (Gen. 2:24), but God never said to be one emotion.
Because God knows, if we were, we couldn’t fully love, serve, equip, help and submit to God – or each other.
How can you take care of another when you lay injured, immobile and incapacitated yourself?
Instead, God calls us to stay calm, stay collected and to be a lighthouse on a dark night. He calls us to shine so bright that we light the night. He calls us to hold ourselves to his righteous standard (not take on the other’s feelings) – and to trust him with the rest.
Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. (Ephesians 5:2)
It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. (Daniel 2:22)
The Lord never intended for us to be captains of the sea, because He is the one who sees.
He sees in darkness.
He sees the hidden barriers.
He sees the obstacles that stand before us.
He sees what needs to happen.
He sees my husband’s future.
God comes with a perfect course redirect – and it is much better than my not-so-well-laid-plan.
I don’t want to steal God’s glory, and make it about my story.
If I can wait, and rest, I can trust God will take care of the rest.
If I can abide in him, by faith, won’t God be faithful?
It is in this place of faith where we can stop being captains of distraction – and move towards compassion.
It is in the land of trust, where God helps us to act the right way, instead of going the wrong way.
In this, he brings us on a voyage of authenticity, as we trust him to be who we are, no matter how rocky the boat my get.
And, what we get at the end of the day, is love.
We get a pure love that doesn’t manipulate, doesn’t demand – and that is effective.
God loves love. It is the basis of everything.
I have this sneaky feeling that if I can just stay in this place – of love – God will take care of the rest. I have a feeling that it’s not about how you fix your spouse, but it’s about how you love them.
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When I heard the bloodcurdling scream, worry welled up in me.
When I saw the agony on her face, anxiety overwhelmed me.
When I analyzed the deep gash across her toe, guilt washed over me.
Could you imagine being the one to cause your baby girl so much pain? The one to crush an innocent toe into a slamming door.
It was me who did this.
Pain – all I could see was all the pain I caused.
Pain as she got stitches.
Pain as we found out it was broken.
Pain as she looked up at mommy.
Pain as she longingly looked to be saved.
Pain as I saw her tears coming down.
Pain as I noticed her toenail was gone.
I left the hospital with a damaged baby and a bag full of guilt.
How could I?
Why did I?
I knew that I needed to come to terms with this. I knew that Jesus tells us to forgive – ourselves included. I knew that this was an accident – but still…
What do you have for me God?
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
He died for BIG wrongs, BIG mistakes and BIG traumas.
For the ones who, without him,
could never find consolation, reparation or exoneration.
For the ones who, without him, deserve nothing but condemnation.
And, this is me. I am this kind of sinner. Not just in this case, but in so many shameful ways.
He agrees, but he doesn’t cast shame or blame. He agrees, but doesn’t make me retreat in defeat. He agrees, but rather than enslave, he saves.
He removes the enslaving power of shame, guilt and regret – and replaces it with love.
A love that is victorious and makes us glorious. A love that showers compassion, with passion. A love that doesn’t end, but mends.
Much like me with my daughter: Jesus cries over our pain.
He so deeply desires to wipe every tear away.
Jesus stands ready to save our day.
And, much like I cried over her trial and her agony, Jesus cries over mine.
But, Christ went to one place I can never go. He went one distance I can never cover. He went to one length that sealed the definition of “love”: He took my place. He stepped in. He absorbed all the wrath, torment and agony that was set aside for me.
He did this so I could be forgiven (and so that we could forgive others).
Who am I to take that away from him?
Who am I to negate the incredible sin load that he suffered?
Who am I to think that the power of my enslaving sin could overcome the power of my life-giving Savior?
When we can’t forgive, we are essentially are saying that we have more power than the cross of Jesus Christ.
We are saying that our sin is greater than our Savior.
That our actions are more weighty than his.
That our inability to forgive is greater than his ability to love.
Because he forgave, we take eternal forgiveness to the grave. Because he is mighty to save, we are no longer enslaved. Because he rose out of that cave, we can all be brave.
There is no arguing with that.
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“Love.” What happens when underneath it all – we don’t feel God’s love in our deepest being? When we know Jesus, but we have a hard time believing he loves us? Perhaps, the world has jaded us, people have hurt us or we have done the unthinkable.
We think God’s love is nice, but we know it as “distant”.
We know love in our mind, but don’t feel it in our heart. We know love accepts us, but still, our past defines us. We know love is the answer to freedom, but the chains remain.
What happens here?
How do we move from knowing in our minds – to believing in our hearts?
From knowing about love – to knowing love?
Sometimes, I feel like I live partially loved by God.
Like a daughter who is visited by her step dad a couple times a week.
Like a girl who is not always seen.
Like one who needs constant affirmation.
Like one who wonders if she is forgotten.
Like one who needs to earn approval.
Like one who feels unworthy.
Like one who is forgotten.
Like one who doubts.
Like one who falters.
Is this a picture of a loved daughter of the most high King?
Can I truly love others – and God, when I haven’t embraced depths of his love?
His unceasing, unbelievable and unending love?
Perhaps my earthly experiences have shaped my capacity to perceive God’s love. Can I only know love to the depths that I have been loved?
In my search to answer these questions, God is teaching me that to walk in love is to walk by faith.
Because none of us have been loved the way he loves.
None of us can understand the depths of his actions for us.
None of us can perceive the immensity of his presence before us.
None of us can comprehend the lengths he goes to fight for us.
His love is unbelievable in a sense.
Because of this,
we have allowed our perceptions and our tribulations
to create realities of God’s love for us.
Yet, his power extends beyond these created idols of love.
Like the many miracles of Jesus; true power is found by faith.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Heb. 11:1)
Faith is where the love of Christ is found. It is found when we receive what he gives, even though the gift is so immense we can hardly receive it – or believe it.
– His own son – for us. He gave the ultimate (Jo. 3:16)
– His life for us – for people who can’t stop sinning. (Ro. 5:8)
– A life that is alive with Christ. He goes with us. (Eph. 2:4-5)
– A saved life. His presence. His rejoicing spirit. A presence that quiets our active soul. (Zeph. 3:17)
– Steadfast, never-ending love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15)
– Mercy & graciousness. (Psalm 86:15)
– His own Spirit – a constant companion and help – to live within us. (2 Tim. 1:7)
– A position as a child of God (1 John 3:1)
– An owned status, which nothing – no way, no how – can ever separate his love from us. (Ro. 8:31-39, Ps. 24:1)
– A secure position which – no one, no way – can pluck away. (Jo. 10:28)
– No condemnation even though we deserve it all. (Ro. 8:1)
– Gifts that he delights in giving because we are his children. (Gal 3:26)
– An acceptance and approval of who we are. (Ro. 14:18)
– A powerful care about our daily doings. (Ps. 139:2)
– An ever-flowing rhythm of grace that can never be obstructed. (Jo. 1:16)
– An eternal home that has been prepared just for us. (Jo. 14:2)
– An earthly plan and purpose for our lives. (Prov. 16:9)
– A promise to make us more and more like him. (2 Cor. 3:18)
– A nearness, a shelter and a hope that is beyond compare. (Ps. 46:1-6)
– An advocate who fights on our behalf. (1 Jo. 2:1)
– One who is ALWAYS for us. (Ro. 8:31)
– One whose compassions never fail. (Lam. 3:22)
God is so good that, in a small way, it doesn’t really matter how much we grasp his love because his love will still remain for us. His love is so unconditional that it is not contingent on understanding. He loves us despite us.
Freedom is found in this place. Because, even when our world, our past and our choices have proven that we are unworthy of love, we still remain, as believers, in Him. Then, in faith – we can step out to grab the power of God’s love. This is the way.
We can grab hold of love by faith by:
1. Praying. Lord, let us be deeply rooted in you.
2. Seeking. Lord, let your words of truth shoot as arrows of love to our deepest needs.
3. Meditating. Lord, let us see your love pour over us as we close our eyes.
4. Receiving. Lord, let creation testify to the power of your love.
5. Communing. Lord, let us relish in the daily gifts you pour out on us.
6. Abiding. Lord, let us remain in you – and you in us. Help us to see this give and take.
I am done living fatherless from the most high king, distanced from the one who cares for me the most and duped into believing I am alone. I am done with the fear.
Because isn’t fear just a deep knowledge that no one is near?
But, God is. He was. And, he always will be. The Alpha and Omega never changes.
He is even when I don’t think he is. This is the ultimate love. His love is so all consuming that my eyes cannot begin to absorb his immensity. His love is so great that I can’t even fathom it. I can’t even take it.
I will set my mind, by faith, on the power of his love and trust that it will accomplish all it is set forth to do.
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Ps. 138:8)
My life is secure, never to be forgotten, in the palm of his love.
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I walk in to see my son’s underwear, pants and toys stuffed into the toilet. I go off. I take personally the advice my husband’s offering. I act irritated. I am late to my son’s school. I get anxious. I get in the slow checkout lane at the grocery store.I tap my foot withimpatience. I get stuck on a customer service call, it takes forever and I get nothing done. I snap at them. I talk with a family member who has issues.I immediately respond with advice. I hear a person talk about their problems and pains.I jump in to rescue. I listen to a friend talk.I cut them off.
The common denominator? I just can’t wait. In a flash, I respond.
But, what if, I changed my course of action?
What if I decided to have a “reaction of inaction” instead of a “reaction of dissatisfaction”?
Might things change?
Would a simple one second wait change my fate?
Might I evaluate and not retaliate?
Could I see more and not end up being one I abhor?
When we take a second to wait, we actually set our paths straight. We not only delay our reaction, but we delay our heart from going the wrong way.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Prov. 3:5-6)
I don’t have to react based on my understanding, I can grab hold of a “reaction of inaction” so that in every moment, I seek to trust the Lord. I don’t have respond to a stimuli, but only to the will of God.
God offers me freedom from my circumstances.
If I seek him, he will be faithful to guide me.
Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Is. 30:18)
Even more, what would happen if I considered that the Lord is ready to be gracious to me in these tense moments?
Would that change my response?
Because He is waiting to be gracious. He is waiting to show mercy. Imagine that – in our tense, overwhelming and frustrating moments, he just waits to see how he can pour out on us.
I don’t want to miss that. Do you?
Our “reaction of dissatisfaction” robs us of joy, but through a “reaction of inaction” we have the opportunity to seize joy.
Inaction for one simple second might entirely change the course of our relationships. We don’t have to be the wild responder; because we can now be the grace-filled responder.
I want to invest and not divest in my relationships. Don’t you? I want to practice myself in the wait. I know God will be, as he always has been, faithful to me. And, he will be to you too.
Let’s trust him as we wait. We can choose the one response that will leave us blessed instead of feeling stressed.
The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. (Lam. 3:25)
What good are you?
What do you offer?
How do you help?
I have carried you far and wide.
The thing about you is that sometimes you are small and my bag is light. In this case, you allow for other things to fit – like joy, peace and rest. Other times, however, you are so big, there is no room for any of that. There is just room for a self-focus – a self focus that deters me from the reality of truth.
I hate it when you take up all the room.
The zippers don’t close and you tend to squeeze right out the sides of my life.
I want to hide you, contain you within, but you always come out.
Maybe that is what bothers me the most.
You weigh me down.
You consistently focus me – on me.
Worry, you have to go.
I want to leave you behind. I want to go to baggage claim and never claim you again.
Because you are like a carousel –
round and round go the thoughts in my mind, but I never get anywhere.
You are like a leech.
You suck joy, peace and the power of presence right out of my life.
You are like an old lady crossing a busy 3-lane highway.
When you walk in, I can’t see anything else but you in my life.
But, most of all, you are who you are, a loaded, weighted, burdensome, inconvenient bag stuffed with entirely no use.
How have you tricked me so often? I must falsely believe inside that you serve some purpose.
You don’t change anything.
You distract me from God.
You dwell my heart on fear.
You condition me to live based on “what if’s”.
You fight my sleep.
You steal moments with my kids.
You leave me inactive.
Who knows what you do to my health? I have heard it isn’t good.
I am done.
I hope you feel the swift kick to the curb I offer you today.
I know it won’t be easy, but I have a plan of action so that you don’t show up on my doorstep again.
1. When the winds of worry waken my fears, I am going to start wondering about what I wonder about.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Phil. 4:8)
I am going to be thinking about what I am thinking about. I am going to be evaluating what I am watching. I am going to be considering what I am believing. If it doesn’t line up with Jesus Christ and his gospel of grace, the truth that he is always with us and his promise that he will give us all we need – I am kicking these fears out the door too.
2. I am going to choose to be thanks-filled about the trial-filled moments.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil. 4:6)
Will this be hard? Indeed. Worth it? You bet. Underneath it all, I know this is the antidote to worry.
How can we worry and be truly thankful at the same time?
Thankfulness focuses our mind on all we have,
while worry focuses our mind on all we hypothetically may not have.
These two enemies cannot co-exist.
3. I am going to remember that worry doesn’t rule me, Christ does.
Thanks be to you Lord Jesus; you have all authority. You rule on high. No one can take you down. No situation can overcome you. You are the definition of power, the force of love and the fixer of all things. I don’t have to take the world on my shoulders because you took the cross on yours.
I bow down.
I humble myself and let go of prideful worry that fools me into thinking that I can actually do something to change my situation. Again, Lord, it is all about you.
God is so much more effective than this bag of tricks I have ineffectively relied on for so long.
So, today, I take that ugly, frustrating bag of worry and let go. What a relief it is! I can almost see my steps quicken, my arms pump a little faster, and my step lighten a tad. I feel free. I feel connected in love.
Does this mean that bad things won’t happen to me? Or that worst case scenarios may never come true? No.
But this does mean that I know deep, deep, down in my heart that my troubles are momentary and that my trials will pass and that I serve a God greater than these things. In this – I can choose to let go of this bag with imprints of my hand so deeply marked on its handles. This bag that I have clutched so tightly.