Purposeful Faith

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When Fear and Truth Collide

Fear and Truth

I am delighted to welcome Jessica Van Roekel as a guest blogger today. Jessica is faithful, diligent and obedient. I am proud to feature her words.

I’m good at bravado, but not so much at living brave. I know how to stand tall and smile with the best of them, but inside I’m cowering, hiding tears, insecure, wondering if I belong or even if I’m wanted.

I know verses. I know that if I’m full of God then there’s no room for anything else. I know that my song is God’s song. I know that he is my refuge, my shield, and my fortress. I know he holds me close and sings songs over me. I know he calls me chosen, beloved, secure, approved, and beautiful. I know all these things and I was so mad at myself for the disconnect between my head and my heart.

So there I sat—alone, with no one beside me—listening to the melody, learning my part or trying—all the while fighting back tears. It was absolutely ridiculous and I was furious with myself. And to be totally honest, furious with God. Why would he compel me to audition for this musical and then humiliate me in this way? It didn’t make any sense.

Have you felt this way? Has God ever shown you a truth and set you free from your bondage and then in an instant you were in bondage again or so it seemed? Have you ever felt you utterly failed God and yourself?

May I offer you and I this encouragement: God is not disappointed with you or me. God is not going to send us into a situation and then leave us to work it out in our own strength. He will provide us with opportunities to exercise our faith in the work he’s doing in our lives. And just like with regular exercise, we will stumble until we figure out the rhythm or the sequence, but if we keep practicing we get better, we grow stronger, we become more fluid, and it becomes second nature because we’ve trusted him and let him work through us.

Freedom from fear of man came for me through one definitive moment a few years ago, and since that moment God has been showing me how to live free. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worthwhile. My perspective has shifted from being afraid of people to being settled in God’s thoughts towards me.

You know, I wanted to run from that audition room and never, ever look back. In fact, I walked out of rehearsal that night determined to quit and planned on letting the director know my decision the next morning.

I didn’t though. I leaned into the pain because I’ve learned that sometimes healing comes through the pain, not by avoiding the pain. So I took my younger self by the hand and let her feel the pain. I let her remember and shed her tears, and then I walked her through forgiveness. Was it easy? Uh, absolutely not. Is it over? No, but the cleaning out of the wound has happened, the salve of God’s truth has been applied, and the wound is tender, but it’s healing.

Sometimes we have to experience the hard so that God’s word becomes alive, and once the revelation of his truth, his freedom, and his healing has been revealed, it’s  not ever to be taken away by someone’s words, approval, disapproval, memories, or event.

Becoming fear fighters happens when we’re transformed from the inside out and it requires us to keep taking steps towards faith and bravery, clinging to truth and always, always trusting God’s heart for us.

***Get the book Fear Fighting, by Kelly Balarie today.

Take part in the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

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Jessica Van Roekel is a woman on the journey to wholeness through brokenness. She believes that through Christ our personal histories don’t have to define our present or determine our future. Her greatest desire is to see people live this ‘God-life’ with all the power and grace that God provides. Jessica lives in a rural community with her husband and four children. She leads worship on Sundays, but seeks to be a worshiper every day. You can connect with her at www.welcomegrace.com  and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/yourJessicaVanRoekel

 

 

Get all the Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

25 Ways Not to be Lukewarm in Faith

Friends, I’m also sharing on Sharon Jaynes blog, “God, will you come through for me?” and on Suzie Eller’s blog, “Faith when fear tries to run you over“. Two fabulous ladies, two fabulous blogs. I encourage you to check these out! Comment on their blogs for a chance to win a free book.

Now on with my post…

“So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Rev. 3:16

This. This verse right here. It gives me the chills. It’s one of those things that makes you sit up straight. It reminds me of coasting on a bike. The thing about coasting is – you can’t coast up to God, you’re always coasting somewhat downwards and away from him.

I don’t want to coast. I certainly don’t want to be looking at the world and living my life, only to die and find out – I was never really that close to him to begin with.

Whoops! Big Whoops! Eternal Whoops!

You all know I just wrote the book, Fear Fighting. So, it’s not that I have to fear what I am doing wrong, it’s just that I have to fear God. Get my eyes on him. Seek him. Be with him. Pursue him.

Like dominoes, everything falls in line when we do this. We get near him and he gets in us. I like that.

With this in mind here are my 25 Ways Not To Be Lukewarm:

1. Pray

2. Praise

3. Practically search out ways to love others

4. Read scripture

5. Ask God for help.

6. Submit all your plans to God.

7. Enjoy creation with God.

8. Remember Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.

9. Forgive others.

10. Forgo anxiety and replace it with praise.

11. Encourage another person.

12. Hold fast to the belief that trials are training you into the image of Christ.

13. Grab on to faith, even when you feel like you are falling.

14. Thank God for everything.

15. Die to your selfish ways and live for Christ’s.

16. Renew your mind in truth, throughout the day, every day.

17. Worship through songs and Psalms.

18. Seek to understand others, verses judge them.

19. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your guide, then follow.

20. Seek holy in everything you do.

21. Put on the armor of God (Eph. 6)

22. Proclaim the gospel, no matter how scared you may feel.

23. Remember God’s faithfulness in the past. Speak it over your life.

24. Receive and extend grace. Repeat.

25. Uncover your heart and ready it for God’s transformation.

The good news is – even if we’ve lived lukewarm, we don’t have to fear our salvation. If we are saved, it is as done and done is done. We also don’t have to fear that we messed up, drifted away from God or turned our back for moment. Why? Because God’s love is greater than our deep worry we won’t be loved again. It extends beyond our feelings, thoughts and hurts. It reaches in – and once again – accepts us.

Buy my book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears!

Take part in the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all the Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

 

Do You Fear What is Ahead?

fear what is

I walked in the door, dropped my bag and called upstairs to my husband, “Want to take a walk?”

Shockingly, he did. He wanted to enjoy the spontaneous burst of warm weather that was gracing our air. We put on our shoes and headed out. I had no idea I was about to be graced with his wisdom too.

We headed down a forest laden trail. It was beautiful.

“Kelly, I wonder what is up there, beyond that bend?”

I already knew, I’d walked the trail time and time again.

He went on, “I think God says, we don’t have to know what is beyond our bends. We don’t have to see what is up ahead. We just have to walk with him in the moment, knowing he is up there already. He is already where we are headed. And, that’s all we need to know. We are free to enjoy the purple flowers, the flying birds and the moving clouds. We can simply trust he has what we are walking into.”

I knew I married this guy for a reason.

I nodded my head in agreement. “Yep,” I said, ” because if we are so caught up with what we can’t see, we’ll miss what we can. Plus, once we get to that bend, we will want to know, yet again, what is beyond the next one. It’s a losing battle.”

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Heb. 11:1

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you…  (Deut. 31:8)

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Mt. 6:34)

Often, I am so caught up in what’s coming, I miss the table of beauty God has laid in front of me today. I don’t partake in what is good.  I fear what is bad. I adjust my shirt just right so my stomach bulges don’t stand out too much. I grip onto tight schedules so I have a handy excuse for social situations I am terrified of. I cling on to my kids hand with a death grip, hoping the doesn’t stray to far away from mom if I let go. I rush through breakfast and traffic lights and pajamas trying to my couch and TV.

But, my husband reminds me – I don’t have to hold on to what is up ahead – or fear it – for God is already there. It’s like he rushed ahead and set the table in advance, so when I arrive, the goodness awaits. Sure, sometimes it might look like the table is empty or it’s not as I thought, but as I am present with him, in the moment, he always surfaces some sort of surprise party.  His spiritual blessings all jump out at me and I leap for joy. I realize, “Wow God, what I really wanted is right here.”

And, friend, what you want is right before you. For what is before you, in this moment, is your God. He is with you and will not let you go. Keep walking with him, no matter how good, how bad or how ugly your trail looks. For, you never know, when you might stumble you upon your – surprise party!

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Is. 41:10

Order Kelly’s powerful book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, today! Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge. 

Get all the Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

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Go to sleep?…Ur uh, I don’t think So!

It was a Friday morning and I was busily preparing for a surprise weekend getaway I had planned for my husband David, when my cell phone rang. It was hubby. I thought he was calling to tell me about his doctor’s appointment but instead in a bewildered voice he rambled off words that at first seemed nonsensical.

“I just got a call from Mr T. and… Cliff died this morning. Massive heart attack.“

I repeated the sentence several times in my head as if to process the bizarre message, I’m sure I didn’t hear correctly.

You see it couldn’t be true because Cliff, the dear friend and golfing buddy David spoke of was a larger-than-life kind of guy. He wouldn’t just die like that.

But it was true. In the time it takes for a heart to beat, his heart stopped. Forever.

His sudden death made me come face to face with a chilling truth.

I’ve been afraid to die.

It’s not that I don’t know where I’m going.

I do.

I believe with all my heart when I’m done with this earth I’ll see Jesus face to face and live for all eternity with Him.

When friends proudly proclaim, “I’m not afraid of dying” I want so badly to give a, “Yeah, yeah me too!” (High five, fist bump and all that.)

But I don’t. I’m silent.

I hate this fear, it feels so… faithless.

Digging deep, at first I thought it was the process that scares me. I’ve watched my mother and father pass and a few friends. Death ain’t pretty.

However when I honestly brought my contradiction of thought and faith to God, He gently brought to mind something from my past. Something I hadn’t thought of in a long time.

From as early as I can remember, probably about three years of age, my mom would tuck me into bed, turn out the lights and recite this brief prayer.

Before I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord for my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord for my soul to take.

And she wondered why I couldn’t go to sleep…!

I had all but forgotten this nightmarish rhyme. 
Though I have no doubt my Episcopalian mother was well-intentioned, I can say with reasonable accuracy, no three-year old understands the meaning of such words. To my little-girl ears they sounded mystical, scary.

I became frightened of this spooky God my mother prayed to Who might choose to take me in the night—stealing me away from my family, my home, my dolls. This life.
Of course I never wanted to shut my eyes. But what was worse, when I kept them open the Jesus-cross that hung by my beside stared at me in the dark with an eerie purple incandescence glow.

This is not at all the God I worship today. The God I know and worship doesn’t desire to scare little children, or anyone for that matter. He’s a gentle Father who promises hope (Jeremiah 29:11) and works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28-29).

However our past often paves the pathways in our future.
Sometimes with bold confidence. But many times with trepidation.
As it’s been in my case.

Has something from your past locked you into a feeling of apprehension, foreboding, phobias or panic?

Don’t allow any fear to steal your freedom. Ask God to unlock the past for you, releasing understanding—clarity.

Now that I can see my past world juxtaposed with my present I believe with God’s help and the power of the Holy Spirit I can dismantle the fears that threaten to unravel me and move forward to living this life as God meant—with abandon…and fist bumps.

You can too.

“I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold to it. But on thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

***Get a kick-start on a fearless life with Kelly’s book, Fear Fighting.***

Looking forward, pressing on, and seeking God in every bump and twist in the road.

About Christy

Christy is a wife, mother, mother-in-law (soon to be grandmother), mentor, and speaker. Her passion is to encourage women to move forward, and press on while seeking God’s presence in every bump and circumstance they encounter.

Christy is also a girly girl at heart who chases tennis balls for recreation and at the end of the day does her best thinking in the tub.

You can connect with Christy at Joying in the Journey christymobley.com, Twitter, and Facebook.

1 Strategy to Stay Strong in Christ

Have you ever gotten permanent marker on your hands? Maybe you did a project or just got a little wild on paper. Either way, when you get marker on you, it is a bear to get off. You can scrub, and scrub and scrub and sometimes – it can take days and days to get off. It sticks.

Press hard. It still sticks.

Add more soap. Even more it sticks.

The same is for Jesus’ blood. It sticks. Jesus’ blood is not washed off by I-should-have-done-that moments. It not removed by an off thought. It is not erased in accordance with our doubts.

Where have you felt that the full atoning sacrifice of Jesus is not enough? Maybe you feel like you’re a bad wife? Your past marks you a bad child in the mind of God? Your failings disqualify you from God’s goodness? Your shame will never go away?

I make repeated mistakes. I think this is what most aggravates me. I go back to the well of I-am-sorry 100% in a week. Then, I start to think, “God, if I’m always having to say, ‘I am sorry’, what good am I?’” I start to think, “Daughters of a good daddy don’t shun him away.” I follow the lie that says, “I will never improve.”

Jesus’ blood seemingly washes off of me – in my mind, but in truth, Jesus blood will always cover my heart – through my life.

Do you believe you are covered by God? Jesus’ blood shed for you is as permanent as the blood that is in you. If you are his, he is yours.

If you are in Christ, his protective armor of grace – his blood shed on the cross – is always over you. It is like a force field that cannot be broken. It is a rainbow that always reminds you of his faithfulness. It is an umbrella that protects you from your worst errors.

What miracle Jesus did on the cross, cannot be broken by the mess we do in a day.

And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Heb. 10:10

In this, as I reflect on my story, the story that plays in my mind at night – the one that plays on repeat…me, not being so nice, so instructive and so godly with my kids, I am struck by this: Jesus Christ’s blood, his forgiveness of my sin, sets me off on a fresh course of freedom the next morning.

Will you let Jesus sacrifice sit permanently, like a mark of his great love for you, on your heart, mistakes, and inadequacies?

Buy my book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears!

Take part in the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Choose Your Own Adventure

Today is a day I like to call “Choose Your Own Adventure.” Why? Because with the release of my book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, I’ve written a bunch of different guest posts around the web. Now, you get to pick your own adventure.

Have fun choosing your own way:

  1. Visit Ann Voskamp’s blog: When Answers Come in Ways We Least Expect But Most Need
  2. Visit Girlfriends in God: Are You Living Christ’s Full Power?
  3. Gwen Smith’s Blog: Fear Fighting Giveaway
  4. Susan B. Mead’s Blog: God’s New Thing for You
  5. Kelly O’Dell Stanley’s Blog: A Victory in the Battle Against Fear

Buy my book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears!

Take part in the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email click here.

How to Fight Like… a Boy?

fight like a boy

Post by:  Beth Duewel

I wonder how many seconds I’ve held my breath? Like when I lost my mom. 1, 2, 3. Or when I stared at another blue line on another pregnancy test. 1, 2, 3, 4. How about the many times my children have ran into the sharp corners of life. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,…

I don’t get those moments back.

So, I need to breathe in brave. It helps to remember David fighting the giant.

Because I want to be able to fight like…a boy? Really, it still amazes me. How did a boy have the faith to step forward to fight a giant of a man? The name alone intimidates—Goliath the giant of Gath. I mean, David heard what the people were saying. His father, Jesse, and three brothers went to fight the Philistines while David ran errands and tended to their heard of sheep. But this small story of giant fighting is huge. For me. And no doubt for the girls in my fifth grade Sunday school class.

Because we want to know God will help us battle big in life. Just like David, we’re afraid sometimes. We also want to test and see if God’s love makes us brave. Does it?

Taking a breath of fresh air.

I’ll admit, when I am tired or feel unable—I forget about David. Really. All I can do is watch the worry-wrinkle between my brows deepen. But last month, while hearing this fear-fighting story again through the voices of my fifth grade Sunday school class—I took in a breath of fresh air.

In fact, we were all shocked to discover that David had no cheerleaders. Nope. Not even one. No one expected David to be brave. Not his family. Not his friends. Not his enemy. Because afraid was contagious and had already traveled throughout the valley. It loomed over the battle camp like smoggy smoke. A gasp, a quiet sigh, and a defeated shrug accomplished what words didn’t have to. In fact, Jesse kept David busy minding his own worry that his other sons were okay.

“And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp of your brothers. Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring back some token from them.” (1Samuel 17: 17-18 ESV).

Yes. David took the provisions as his father had commanded. But while he was there at the camp speaking with his brothers, David heard something. He heard Goliath making threats, breathing anger like fire, and beating his bronze chest with demands to fight just one. Then 1Samuel 17: 23 says, “And David heard him.”

David heard the raging voice of Goliath, but he also heard the Sovereign whisper of God.

Besides, he wasn’t about to breathe in the same air as everyone else. While they were keeping David busy running ten cheeses to the commander, David was puzzled and questioned the fear and concerns of others. Why did he wonder?

Because David knew. He knew God protected. He knew God slew evil. He knew God rescued the lost. He knew God helped him pry open the jaw of the lion that tried to eat his sheep. He knew God.

We want to know God in this way. But we are satisfied with delivering cheese.

Why? Because we listen to the sound of our own heart beating. We allow our faith to match our circumstance. We pay closer attention to our worry-wrinkles and don’t see ourselves as the true reflective image of God.

How do we fight like a boy? Like David. We need to take time each day to know God.  Through prayer and His Word we can know without a doubt God will help us. He will protect us. He will slay the enemy for us. He will rescue our lost hope, lost patience, lost courage, lost joy, and our lost breath. God’s love makes us brave.

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone…” (1 Samuel 17:48-50) ESV. 

Whatever the battle today. Breathe brave, my friend. Breathe brave.

Want to be more fearless? Sign up for the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge! Or, order the book, Fear Fighting, today!

fight like a boyBeth Duewel is a wife and mom of three who is only able to breathe-brave through the perfect love of Christ. Beth would love to connect and pray with you on her blog: Fix-Her-Upper.com. Look for her book in spring of 2017, Fix-Her-Upper: Hope and Laughter Through a God Renovated Life.

Dwelling on the Heart of Christmas

Heart of Christmas

Christmas is freedom…

Christmas is all about a God who sees need – and approaches it.

A God who sees us as we are. Who sees us in slumped state. Who sees our tears. Who sees our pains. Who sees our agony. Who sees our missteps.  He sees our trials, troubles and temperaments. He sees our incapability to save our own selves.
Christmas is all about breakthrough.

Christmas is about a God who would go to any lengths for us.

It is about the God of all power, becoming a man of all power. He breaks the force field of our world to break the fortress of sin – around us – that keeps us from him.

Christmas is about humility.

It is about a God who is God. A God who is the great I AM. But, it is also about a God who says I AM great enough to humble myself. I AM willing to do whatever it takes to lead you to my heart. I AM with you.

Christmas is about promises.

It is about a baby who grows up to be a boy and then a man, who unveils the heart of God, who saves. He heals. He helps. He prays. He leads. He fulfills dreams. He sends us into love that casts out fear. He will not stop being faithful to us.

Christmas is about no fear.
It means that the promise born in a stable is a promise that is stable. It means that when Jesus was broken, so was condemnation. It means that when you think you can’t, the power of Jesus…yes, it can. It means that it doesn’t matter so much how you feel, but simply that Christ is faithful.

It means that you are free in Jesus and alive to the Holy Spirit. This is what Christmas is about. It means that what purpose and power  -God has sown in you, is released by him who set you free. It means go! It means get out! It means let loosed and lost in Christ Jesus for 2017!

Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world. For even though the one in the world tries to tell you Jesus is long gone and Christmas is just another holiday, the life of Jesus is just what is needed for victorious living.

I know I don’t always live this way – victoriously. But, I am fighting to. This is why I wrote Fear Fighting. I wrote it as a prayer, as a dream and as a discovery. I wrote it to see if Jesus Christ could pull me close and teach me new courage. Guess what? He did. So powerfully, he did.

I’d love for you to join the Fear Fight with me. It will bless you beyond compare. Buy it for a small group (10+ books) and I’ll even join your group Facebook page to encourage, teach or to just bless you.

Order Fear Fighting today!

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

More Reading:
Do you Need a New Perspective?

Actually Keep your New Year Resolutions

Living From A New Identity

 

How You Can Easily Miss Christmas

Parked in my car, I stared at my neighbor’s perfectly ornamented outdoor tree. I’d missed it; I missed the moment. It was there for the taking, but I drove right past it. I couldn’t see past my path – to God’s path.

Reflecting on the morning, I considered how it went. My son called out, “Mom…our neighbor liked it. She…” I screamed from the other side of the car, “Buckle up, we’ve got to get  to school, son.” At the sound of his click, I was off…

And, like I said, I missed it. The moment. He wanted to celebrate my sweet neighbor’s tree. But, the fact is, in my haste, I didn’t even notice the tree. I hurried past the display of reds and greens, of joy and peace, of excitement. But, most of all, I rushed past the little wind-chimes my son had made her a few months before.

She could have removed them off her grand display. But, she didn’t.

He wanted to let me know that she cared enough to keep them there. He wanted me to know that he was worthy to be part of her Christmas. He wanted to let me know that his heart to love and to show kindness was being celebrated where Jesus is. He was a special part of her Christmas; he loved and felt love.

He wanted to show me the meaning of Christmas.

But, I rushed on.

I saw destination and nailed it, with precision.
I saw my time sans kids, and grabbed it with strength.
I buckled up, grabbed my sunglasses, and peeled out of that driveway like a mother descending on a 3-hour vacation.

I wish I would have stopped. I am sure my son wishes I stopped too.

How often does God wish we stop?

That we stop to see His ornaments of goodness and kindness? That we stop to soak in His still small voice? That we stop to receive His oh-so-gentle prompting to call a neighbor in need, to hug a child or to observe a tree that points to the tree that made up the cross?

But, upwards and onwards we go! We make money. We get coffee. We buy presents. We speed through that yellow light. We answer that cell phone call. All the while, we miss God.

If we want to be led by the Spirit, we have to make room for Spirit. If we are so filled with the angst of progress, we will miss Him in the process.

This has happened to me. My heart is aching, because I’ve left no room. I’ve only left room to keep my heart in comfortable control. Yet, if God decides I should be 5-minutes late to something – can’t I sacrifice? Jesus gave far more than 5 minutes, he gave up his very body; He let it break and tear for me.

There is no shame. There is no condemnation, today, friends. Not for you or for me. There is just a ticket, extended to us, that invites us to go somewhere new. Every time, no matter what kind of pain in the side it feels like, it drives us to the point of joy and to the horizon of new peace.

God’s tickets to slow down and see Him always bring you to the peace that – is Him.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Ps. 16:11

Prayer:

Please God, don’t let me brush past your workings anymore. Please God, stop me in my tracks. Awaken my heart to what you are doing in the moment. Give me eyes to see brilliance and the brilliance within others as I welcome them into my heart in a present moment. Help me rest, with you. Help me go, with you. Help me be, with you. Amen

Order my book, Fear Fighting Today!

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

More Reading:
1 Clear Way to Victory When in a Losing Battle

The Silent Faith-Killer (You Likely Allow)

When You Let God Down

Know What Can Ruin Christmas?

Ruin Christmas

I keep going back to what happened – what was said, how it was said and why the person is wrong.

A label was tossed my way; I was called a name. But, it’s more than just that. The bullets run deep – and are hard to pull out.

Sometimes what’s said or done, is not easily removed.

People yakked and hacked an image.
They understood things wrong.
They dissed, offended or disregarded you.
They were insensitive.

Like, I said, with people, what’s said or done, sometimes, is not easily removed. It sinks deep.

So, anyway, here I come, prancing on up to Christmas – a time of joy, a time of Jesus, with a hundred and one holes through my heart – and increasing pain lodged between me and a manger.

I am not sure what to do.

Because, this I know, if I want to meet holy, I can’t walk around hostile. In order to be super-close with Jesus, I can’t be loaded-up with sin. This idea is Christianity 101, but it takes a masters degree to apply.

Waving goodbye to your right to be angry, is like letting go of a bad habit – you love. Everything in you knows you’ll be better off without it, but not walking up to that wine bottle and taking a glass, or three, after a hard day, is hard. Like unforgiveness, it beckons you to hold on.

In some ways, your noble actions have warranted it, you figure. You’ve earned it. Other people have entitled you to carry around that glass, even if it makes you cranky, tired or on edge. Even if it hurts.

Yet, here’s the quandary: God says I should be able to approach him with “freedom and confidence” (Eph. 3:12). I can’t when I carry around this cup of self-righteousness. It spills over onto my eyesight and then I can’t see God. I get all clouded with shame, guilt and discontent.

So there they stand – ones who’ve offended me, tremendously.
There Jesus stands – the One who befriended me, groundlessly.

I wonder if Jesus thought about me before he entered the world?

Maybe he thought: “Hmmm…there she stands; I see all Kelly’s offenses. In fact, I can line them up and they’d reach around the world. Join them together, they’d actually wrap it 3 times. How can I go down there, to that place of vile, and forgive her? How can I leave the heights of glory, a throne of brilliance, and all the angelic hosts of heaven – for her likes?

I would have thought that way, if I was him. I would have thought, “Keep me up here at the banquet, but don’t send me down there into the stink and dirt of a manger – coupled with difficult people. Don’t put me there for that bad girl, Kelly. Not worth it.”

But, He didn’t. And this is the part I can’t contend with: Jesus didn’t abandon me because I abandoned him.

How can I abandon others, when Jesus didn’t abandon me? What right do I have to pick up a right that he laid down? To stand when he laid down?

He teaches me to lay it all down for others so that I can pick up that baby, Jesus Christ, and hold him close this Christmas.

I don’t do it for them, I do it because I love him. I want him. I can’t do life without him. I do it because he’s forgiven them too. He’s set the standard. He shows me the way. And, if I want the way to lead up to his throne, I can’t have mean people blocking my path to him.

So, there they stand. I look at them and, in them, I see me. I see me, because we are all in Christ. I see me, because just as they are covered, so am I. And, what I also accept, beyond the peace that comes with forgiving them, is God’s peace that comes with him forgiving me. For what I’ve held inside, me – the contempt – is covered. And, like a magic trick, but better,  with God’s grace it goes – Poof!  It’s gone.

And, all that’s left is Jesus. A man, whose small act of entering a large world, changes it all. Whose humility, radically rewires our vision. Whose love, makes our mouth go agape. Whose forgiveness, goes against all odds, yet changes them all the same.

The one “who is, and who was, and who is to come” (Rev. 1:8), remains. He always does. And, what we’ve done is cleared a way for us to bow low, so we can cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” So we can get eye-level with a baby, who redeems it all.

Will you let in the baby this Christmas? Who do you need to forgive?

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Prayer:

God, we come to you as we are. We come to you with our frustration, anger and irritation. We come to you with our pain and our opinions. We bring to you our perceptions, right or wrong. We hand over to you, what you don’t invite us to carry any longer. God, will you take care of all this? Will do you do justice on our behalf? Will you mend our hearts on our behalf? Will you soften our rough edges and take from us what you know is not healthy for us to carry? We turn it over, God. Today, through the name of Jesus Christ, we release it. We know what you have, in return, is peace and joy that is far better than self-righteousness and pride. Lord, now that we are clean, we ask you to bring us close to your heart. We ask you to walk us up and into your love. We ask you to teach us and grow us as you see fit. We trust you God. Above all, we trust you. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

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More Reading:

1 Clear Way to Victory When in a Losing Battle
Embarrassing Bravery and Insane Courage
When Sharing Makes You Embarrassed

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