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 holds you back? What hinders you? What prevents you from going all-in, crazy wild for Jesus?
Is it others?
What is it?
When I look at my life, I see a whole lot of blessings, but I also see a whole lot of comfort. Comfort that wraps me warm and snuggly. So warm, that sometimes I don’t want to look beyond my TV – or even the walls of my house.
Comfort that second-guesses spending time with others.
Comfort that makes it difficult to give and to let go.
Comfort that doesn’t allow me to see all that God has for me. Comfort that keeps me stuck.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36)
Are we gaining the world or are we gaining God?
Because a life stuck in this world is a life stuck in futility.
And a life stuck in futility, is a life without utility.
To live without utility, gives us no ability to glorify God’s nobility.
Complacency, comfort and carelessness about our condition become our greatest inhibition.
But, God is calling us. Wooing us. Pleading that we come.
Do you hear Him?
He is waiting.
He has more for us than the good “American Life”.
He will blow our socks off.
Knock us down with purpose.
Stagger us with joy.
If we let him.
Or, we can continue living in the status-quo, as we always have – content.
But are we really content?
Is enough ever enough?
Perhaps God is saying…”Accepting good, is missing amazing.”
When we exchange good things for our great God, we miss the immense blessings he has prepared for us.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:10)
It’s easy to walk by stagnant faith, rehearsed truths and clichéd lines, but if we want to see crazy exciting acts of God, we have to step out of “safety” and into “risky”.
“Risky” that takes time to hear God’s call. “Risky” that prays for equipping. “Risky” that sacrifices all to accomplish his purposes. “Risky” that doesn’t see the way, but walks by faith. “Risky” that doesn’t stop, that keeps going, that presses on until the work is completed. “Risky” that avoids demanding approval or affirmation, but instead trusts in eternal rewards.
Why aren’t I risky like this? When I take a deep look, I see, what holds me back – is me, myself and I. I am afraid. I am afraid to go to the place where I lose all control. I am afraid to see where he will take me. I am afraid.
Will it really be good?
Will he really be there for me?
Will I be good enough for Him?
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Heb. 11:1)
When we can’t see, we walk by real faith, life changing faith and powerful faith.
We can walk this way, because he has proven his faithfulness time and time again.
He has helped us and he will help us.
He has guided us and he will guide us.
He has shown up and he will show up.
Remember his faithfulness – in the past – to follow his call – today.
We are called “followers of Jesus”, so let’s do the following part. Let’s cast aside all that holds us back and go “risky” with Jesus. It’s so worth it! He will equip us. He will help us. We can do this.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Heb. 12:1)
1 Samuel 8:6, “But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.'”
The Israelites were always whining and complaining wanting their own way. Their own will. They were never satisfied. They didn’t trust God to do what was best for them. They always wanted something else. I’m sorry to say I can relate. For most of my life I’ve been no different. Oh, I would have told you I trusted God, but still, I always thought I knew what was best. I knew a better ending to the story. My story.
About 15 years ago (in my guesstimation) my pastor sent out an email to the members of our church. I don’t remember the exact purpose of the email but I do remember reading a few lines on prayer and God’s will that stuck in my craw. Mostly because at the time the words bewildered me. Those words read something like this:
If you want healing, pray for God’s will to be done.
If you want safety, pray for God’s will to be done.
If you need a job, pray for God’s will to be done.
If you need financial help, pray for God’s will to be done.
If you are looking for peace, pray for God’s will to be done.
I recall thinking, what about my will? What if God’s will and my will aren’t the same? What if His ending doesn’t look like mine? Doesn’t God care about what I want?
It wasn’t long after, I decided my husband was bored with his job. (Notice, I said I decided.) I felt he needed something more challenging, a promotion perhaps. And I circled it in prayer. A lot of prayer. I thought I knew what was best for him, for us. Never mind what God thought. Not once did I pray honestly about my feelings and my struggles, or what was in my heart. Nope, instead I forged on, telling God my agenda, and asking Him to oblige with an answer.
And He did.
But it was not the answer I contrived in my mind. Nope, God loves me more than that.
Have you heard the saying, “Be careful what you pray for?”
God answered my selfish prayer.
He gave me what I wanted to show me what I didn’t.
He gave me my own way to show me how His way is better.
The next seven years were challenging to say the least. But God used everything that took place within those seven years to mold me for His purposes. Though God did indeed answer my prayer, the path He led me down would not have been one of my choosing. I can see now that it was necessary and it gave me a clear and personal understanding of Romans 8:28, “God works everything for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” Because it was during this trying time God showed me –
A way out of my spiritual desert.
How to be totally honest in prayer.
How to depend on Him and not on myself.
How to be joyful in all circumstances.
How His will is better than mine.
And how He is always faithful.
In the key passage from 1 Samuel, the Israelites weren’t satisfied with God and His way. They wanted human kings like all the other nations. And God gave them their human kings. He gave them what they wanted to show them what they didn’t need.
I believe it is important to lay our hearts open to our Heavenly Father and honestly tell Him our wants and desires. He wants that, but He also wants our surrender. Because at the end of the day He knows what ‘s best. And today I know that full well.
Jesus gave us the perfect example when he prayed “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….”
Thy will not my will. Amen
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When I found myself getting irritated at the wide pronouncements of one-word resolutions, I started to wonder, “What’s my issue?”
How can someone not like words like:
Why am I so frustrated as others passionately pursue the Lord?
Sure, I picked a word – it’s “patience.” It was wisely given to my by a friend.
Patience in writing.
Patience with my husband.
Patience with my kids.
Patience in growth.
Patience in relationships.
Yes, I see the value.
But, what I can’t handle seeing – at the end of my year – is failure. I don’t want to see that. I don’t want to see the shame, regret, fear and embarrassment tied into that. Why should I set myself up for this?
So I find, it’s simpler to get annoyed and to avoid.
It’s easier to hate than to embrace.
It’s safer to go protected than to become dejected.
So, I push goals, dreams and hopes out of the way to protect a heart that could break along the way.
Truth is, I know I will fail in many ways.
I won’t be patient. I will get irritated. I will blow up at my kids and probably my husband. I will drop the ball. I will mess up. I just know it – and I hate that.
I hate that I can’t reach out to all I want to be – and grab hold of it.
And, underneath it all, I guess this is what really aggravates me about 1-word resolutions. We will all fail in our own way. We will all do the exact opposite of what our 1-word is.
Good luck on that 1-word friends!
For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (1 Sam. 16:7)
And, he is not content with stagnant hearts that hide from his life-giving, love-producing, purpose-provoking truth.
So he says to me, “Kelly, running from failure is running from me.”
And, who can argue with that?
Failure is the beginning of something new.
Failure is the meeting point of love.
Failure is the hidden treasure – we let go of self and grab hold of Christ.
Failure is the heart of growth.
And the starting point of hope.
Jesus doesn’t stand as a judge of 1-word resolutions. He doesn’t demand a 1-year illusion – here today and gone tomorrow. He is not a master of confusion. Ready to throw us into seclusion.
This is not our Lord. He never withholds love –
and he doesn’t shame us based on failures.
In this, I realize our resolutions don’t stand as a barrier to his love –
but as a conduit for it.
I realize if I stop aiming to please him, I can start aiming to just behold him.
Because a student best receives, when she isn’t trying to do things her own way.
Deeply, so deeply, I want to remember:
We are safe in his sacrifice. Held tightly, cupped in his loving hands.
Secure. So secure in our position as children of the most high King.
In the safety of his love – and the finality of his sacrifice – we can embrace grace and all the gifts extended through it.
A grace that doesn’t stop at our failings.
A love that is never given to be taken away.
An eternal position that can never be snatched.
A God that doesn’t give to steal away.
What kind of God would that be?
Truly, all wrath is gone.
All that remains is love.
Because of Jesus, I am safe – safe to move forward in perfect love. Love that casts out all my fear. Love that conquers all. Love that makes me an overcomer. Love that let’s the Spirit of God pour out from me. I can’t even comprehend the start and end of this grace.
So, the Lord just says to me…
“Patience, Kelly. Patience.
You are my work in progress.
It is not you that is at work – but it is me.
At the proper time, you will be exalted.
Do you trust me?
In my good time (which may well be more than a year), you will be patient.
You are my work, my craftsmanship, my love.”
And, in these truths, I can rest. I can rest because there is no condemnation left for me. It’s gone. It is gone for me and it is gone for you.
So for now, it just becomes a journey to his destination. In his timing. In his way. Until the day until he flings open the gate to welcome in his new creation – that he made me to be.
Until then, I will rely on him during the process of being patient.
And we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who is Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 JB)
My son loves baking with me. He certainly takes the cake for the best assistant. But, it wasn’t his baking skills that astounded me, it was God’s lesson of contentment really left a taste in my mouth.
My son stirred the entire contents of the pancake batter in his bowl, yet his eyes were transfixed on the paltry 2 teaspoons of milk in his sister’s. He was aggravated, annoyed and discontent. Suddenly, he didn’t like his bowl; he wanted his sister’s.
I felt sad for him, because:
He didn’t realize the value of what he held.
He didn’t realize that I had given him something special.
He didn’t realize his ingredients were vital to breakfast.
Instead, he became so distracted with her plate, he neglected his own.
Didn’t he know that we were about 3-minutes away from eating some light and fluffy delicious pancakes? He was missing out, missing the point and missing the joy.
His joy was stolen. Envy was eating him up.
How much of our attitude is just like his? One of discontentment?
How often do we see past our portion – to only see another’s? How often are our blessings soured by wandering eyes?
What does God think about this?
It gets me thinking – when our eyes wander to another’s portion, we miss the delight of our own. We miss the joy, the anticipation, the thanksgiving, the appreciation, the purpose, the passion – and the moment.
The whole time, my son had what was better right before him
– but he couldn’t see it. He was too transfixed with the matter of someone else’s batter.
Like him, are we so worried about “getting” that we miss what God is “giving”? Let’s change this attitude to start enjoying what the Lord has placed before us.
10 Ways to Grab Hold of Contentment:
10. Believe that the Lord has given us exactly what we need for today.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Mt. 6:26)
If the Lord wanted us to have more, we would have more. But, we don’t. Why? We can’t always know, we can’t always tell and we can’t always understand – but we can understand that the Lord’s ways are not our ways. He knows better than us. Faith is trusting no matter what things look like.
9. Understand our deepest needs are already met.
Much like my son, we don’t realize that we already have the bigger bowl, the better goods and the sizable portion (we have Christ). However, because we allow envy to creep into our hearts, we become disillusioned by what we see around us – and we miss what the Lord has done in us.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)
8. Realize that underneath the other person’s baked goodies, often lies a chipped, cracked and discolored plate.
While we may say, “wow, what they have looks so good,” we never really know what the other person is dealing with.
Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. (Prov. 4:25)
7. Face reality: We can’t have our cake and eat it too.
We ask God for contentment, endurance and patience – while demanding, coveting and envying material goods. God is not a genie in a bottle and we are not his master. When we trust God as supreme – we appreciate what we have.
One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (Prov. 29: 23)
6. Realize that joy is found when we find contentment.
If my son had worried less about his sister’s bowl and more about his – he could have enjoyed the moment. However, his joy was cut short. He instead embraced jealousy, anxiety and frustration because he saw what he didn’t have.
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps. 37:4)
5. Walk by Faith: We never know what God has for us around the corner.
Frankly, we may have less than another today. But, we have no idea what God has in store for us in tomorrow. If we are always playing the comparison game – we will either feel prideful one moment and neglected the next or vice versa. Why indulge in this constant sin-cycle? It’s not worth it; it clouds our calling. It throws us off track.
In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:6)
4. Rest in the knowledge that the Lord will provide.
He will provide for our deepest needs. We don’t have to look side-to-side any longer because we can look high-and-up to the King that stands ready to bestow all good gifts.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps. 73:26)
3. Even if we have less, we have a great opportunity to rely on God.
In these moments, we can fully rest in our Lord’s faithful providence. It is here where faith is grown. It is here where real blessings surface. It’s not material blessings, but immaterial blessings that blow us away with joy, peace and purpose.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (Phil 4:11)
2. Grab hold of God instead of material goods for true significance.
“Not having” gives us the chance to “have” the greater gift – a gift that fills insecurities, quells fears and provides security. What was once insecure, becomes secure with Christ.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jo. 8:12)
1. Praise, honor and thank God for what we have. The more we do, the more we can celebrate – him.
The more we lift God up, the more we realize – one day – we too will be lifted. The more we glorify God, the less we desire to be glorified by our own might.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (Jo. 14:13)
We find contentment when we realize that the Lord has placed just the right portion in our bowl. But, the key is, we can’t let our eyes drift. We can’t miss the moment. We can’t miss his work – in us and through us.
Like my son, we have no idea what will come from our share. While he thought his sister’s portion had value, it was his that actually had true meaning. It was his that would make something lasting. She only held a drop of milk. His was nourishing, sustaining and valuable.
What has the Lord placed in front of you? Is your gift eternal? Are you missing its value? Are you thanking God for this gift?
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On a cool afternoon in late fall, I mow straight lines across our long expanse of lawn. I’m surprised by how much I enjoy it.
I see the neat rows of freshly cut grass growing with each trip across the yard. It is obvious when I miss a spot. As the strips freshly manicured section gets increasingly larger, I view my work with satisfaction.
Why do I enjoy this so much? It’s simple, really. For one, I get some quiet time of reflection without listening to kids bicker or ask me for snacks every five minutes. But second and perhaps more importantly, I see visible results.
I know when I haven’t done the job well because the results speak for themselves.
Other roles in my life are not this simple. They are complicated, and often leave me wondering whether I’m making an imprint.
I explain a complex subject to my six-year-old, but I’m not sure he understands. My husband and I make efforts to instill strong morals and character into our boys, but there are days when it seems as though everything we’ve been striving towards is falling apart.
On a bitter cold morning, I attempt to capture thoughts that go deep into the core of me on the page, but can’t quite grasp them. The cursor blinks mockingly and self-doubt creeps in before I’m able to type a single word. I wonder if I’m wasting my time.
I wonder if what I say resonates with anyone.
I see a pile of laundry looming in the corner and think, “Didn’t I just tackle that yesterday?” Before the day has even begun, thoughts of defeat overtake me.
Then, as God often does, he sends a reminder that strikes just the right chord. I realize my current state is temporary, but so much of me longs for the eternal.
My yearning for results often reflects a glory which will not be realized in this lifetime, but in the next.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV
I am a planter of seed. I am a light in a temporary casting. I am a mere reflection of the One whose glory I will behold. A glory I long for so deeply at times it aches.
So often, I believe we become discouraged because it seems as though we are moving in circles. Saying the same things to our loved ones and kids over and over. Teaching the same lessons.
But friends, the truth is always worth repeating. People forget because it is their nature. We are still living in a flesh that continually pulls us away from what is true, what is eternal, what is lasting.
We continue to fight because the fight is worth it, even if we don’t see the result right away or even if this lifetime. We fight because we are more than conquerors through him who loved us first.
We long for that which we cannot see because of Him in whose image we were created.
Do not give up. Do not lose heart. You were made for more than anything this world has to offer.
As you lay your head on the pillow tonight, ask yourself this: Did I love? Did I open my arms in grace? Did I help someone who needed it?
If the answer to any one of those questions was yes, it was not in vain. Keep pressing forward, dear one. Your reward will be great.
Abby McDonald is mom, wife and southern girl who fell in love with writing at a young age. She started Fearfully Made Mom because she felt God gently pushing her to share her writing with others who may feel alone in their struggles with self-doubt, accepting God’s grace, and finding their identity in Christ. Her desire is to show women they are fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who will relentlessly pursue them, even during their darkest times.
When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, Abby enjoys hiking, photography, reading, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.
We are all gathered around the table. I can’t keep my eyes off the pumpkin pie, the mashed potatoes, and the creamed corn. I want to devour it all. My mouth is watering. As familiar family faces fade into the background, I develop a personal action plan of what I’ll eat, how fast I’ll eat it and when to fill up my plate again.
I hear distant sounds, words and discussions, but I am mezmerized by utter gratefulness as I take it all in – the pure beauty of the Thanksgiving spread set so perfectly on the table. Surely, God knew what he was doing when he gave us food; it truly embodies one of the greatest things we have to be grateful for.
But, as I smile, as I look, as I sit, deafening sounds quickly pull me out of my delightful daydream, and throw me back into reality. A storm is brewing. Someone is annoyed. Agitated. Frustrated.
It could be one of many things – someone got ticked off, another couldn’t get drinks fast enough, a rude piercing reply was launched or a digging question was fired over the table. Truly, it could be anything.
Who knows the exact reason why? But, all that mattered to me is that my moment was lost. My joy was stolen. Agitation filled me. Disappointment gripped me. Despite my best efforts to make this Thanksgiving great, someone messed it up. Again.
Why can’t we give thanks in peace? Why can’t we all get along? Why does it feel that we have to endure Thanksgiving rather than enjoy it?
This is should be a time of thankfulness – of gladness – not a time of madness. Not a time to push buttons. Not a time to get flustered.
Somehow we idealize Thanksgiving and Christmas. We turn them into perfect little gems of days that should only deliver sparkle, joy and peace. We think that, because we control the preparations, the decorations and conversations, everyone should meet our expectations. We hold on to these expectations with such strength that they crush under the pressure. And, this is when the true Thanksgiving weight hits us. We feel bloated with disappointment.
I guess I have come to realize that the bounty is not all about me. If we are going to truly be thankful for the bounty of the Lord, we have to be thankful for who the Lord has created. He created us all with strengths and weaknesses. It can be so hard to do. It can be so overwhelming when a storm blows in, threatening the day, but – if we trust the Lord – we can trust him to work things out.
God calls us to enjoy this day, rather than endure it. He calls us to leave perfect in the kitchen, and embrace imperfect at the table, so that expectations don’t leave us hiding in the bathroom with tears.
5 Tips to Survive Thanksgiving Chaos:
1. Seek to embrace verses erase the person in need.
Jesus ran to the people in need. His heart was inclined to those in pain. He didn’t demand what he needed, but he gave what others did.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
We are all chief sinners. But, in so many ways, we stand as chief judge. God is faithful to forgive us. With this, on Thanksgiving Day, let’s choose to sit at the foot of the cross. Let’s sit as saved sinners, basking in the glory of Him who is high and lifted up.
When we sit in this position, suddenly, we sit with more compassion for the meaningless jabs, frustrating arguments and aggravating words. We sit knowing that we are the same. We sit grateful for the one who paid it all. Who loved despite our actions.
Then, we find we have greater compassion and a heart to love.
2. Be truly thankful – for both the yummy and the yucky of life.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Phil. 4:12)
True thankfulness sees both abundance and scarcity and gives thanks. Why? Because both are from the Lord. Both have a purpose. Both are meant to refine.
We can rest in the truth that God has good plans (Ps. 40:5). We can rest in knowing his ways are greater than ours (Is. 55:8-9). We can rest because the Lord promises to work for our good through trials (Ro. 5:4). We will be refined, refreshed and renewed.
When we feel Thanksgiving Day is only giving us yucky food, we can choose to see the great silverware, the great centerpiece and the great God who is at the center of it all.
3. A storm may brew, but know God will bring you through.
For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Is. 41:13)
When we are weak, the power of Christ sits upon us. In the stormy moments, we can run into his arms, feel his embrace and let him recharge us with his love. It can be hard to remember in the moment, but God stands ready to help us. It’s ok to feel weak, but it’s not ok to feel ruined when God stands ready to help.
Call out to God. He is famous for rescuing and helping in a time of trouble.
4. Know you stand secure, no matter what others do.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers. neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ro. 8:38-39).
People can do what they are going to do. But, none of this impacts our standing with Christ. We are in Him. We are secure. We are loved. We are a new creation. If we stand in Christ, we can’t stand outside of him.
We can hold to this truth, when the Thanksgiving feast looks like it may topple.No matter what others do, think or say, they are not the essence of who we are. Christ is. We are part of his family. We are his beloved children.
5. Find a heart of thanks for the burnt food of Thanksgiving.
True gratefulness is not just being thankful for all the delicious pickings, but also for the burnt food. If we have food – or family to complain about – we are already blessed. We are blessed with the perfect, but also with the imperfect. Why? Because through the imperfect, we see our need for a Savior. Through our failings, our trials and our frustrations, we find hope in One who is greater than these things.
He makes imperfect burnt food taste delicious when we see it for what it is – an undeserved gift.
That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)
Bonus Tip (consider it your Thanksgiving second helping): Realize it is impossible to control others.
We can’t control things. We can only control ourself. And, no one can take our spirit of thanks away, without us allowing them to do it. No one can steal our heart – unless we allow them to.
The fact of the matter is that when we stop looking for everyone to be perfect, we can start enjoying them for who they truly are. When our standards aren’t higher than the Thanksgiving Day roof, we can see people’s hearts, history and pains. And, we sometimes, can even empathize and minister to them.
Thanksgiving is a special day, a needed day. A day to see all that we have – burnt food and all. If expectations consume us, we may find all we have consumed is an inability to be happy, a heart of discontent and a spirit of bitterness.
The truth is that people will disappoint – and we will disappoint people. No one is perfect – except One. But, the ultimate truth is that God’s grace never ends. It nourishes us when Thanksgiving leaves us hungry for more love.
Let’s lay this truth on the table so we can pass, dish and eat up all the goodness of grace – in our own hearts and towards the hearts of others.
In the blog post, Caution: How Not to be of the World, we talked about how taking our focus off of Christ can divert us down a road we never intended to drive. But, by keeping our eyes on the Lord, nothing can take us down. Nothing can shake us. Nothing can keep God away. He sees us and is right next to us. We can learn how to believe God and not the World.
And when we do, God will stand next to us and walk us right up to the purpose of our life. Finally, we can stand before purpose and to grab hold of it.
When we keep our eyes on the Lord, when we keep him at our right hand, we won’t be shaken. (Psalm 16:8)
We won’t be shaken, because we are who God says we are. And, we will be who God wants us to be – as we trust him.
God defines us. God made us. And, God makes us. He answers and he fulfills his promises.
God is greater than the words and messages of the world that are here today and gone tomorrow.
Talking heads waste their words, because rely on the living active Word.
“Keeping up with the Jones” loses its power, because God’s our ultimate Superpower.
Never having enough is a thing of the past, because God is more than enough.
We don’t need to believe half-truths, when we have “the Truth”.
The world says you are less than, God says you are a child of the most high King. (Psalm 82:6)
The world says you need power, God says you need Him. (1 Peter 5:7)
The world says you need to conform, God says to be transformed. (Romans 12:2)
The world says you should find pleasure, God says to find treasure. (Matthew 19:21)
The world says to take for you; God says to give of yourself. (Matthew 19:21)
The world says to seek beauty above all; God says to love him above all. (Luke 10:27)
The world says be happy and fulfilled, God says die to self. (Luke 9:23)
The world says take all you want, God says take up your cross. (Luke 9:23)
The world says live for today, God says live forever. (John 3:16)
When we drive down the freeways of the world, we end up in dark depressing neighborhoods filled with pain, shame and regret. God wants to lead us in truth and light. He wants us to rush into his arms, to collide with his truth and to cruise in life safely.
He has plans that are so much greater than the world’s plans for us. He has big plans. But if we are so distracted with the signs of the world, we will miss the highway to him. We will miss the joy that is him. We will miss the peace that is him. We will miss the life that is him. We will crash.
He wants all of you. He loves all of you. He has big plans for all of you. Give all of yourself to Him.
Have you ever had that pull on your heart? That ache that tells you that something is not quite right? The persistent call that tells you that you have messed up yet again? The one that makes you ask, “Why can’t I be better?”
It’s a feeling of shame, mixed with regret, all combined with a ton of guilt.
I hate these feelings sometimes. Even worse, I hate how I feel when I am not sure what I should do. I hate not knowing if I will ever “be better”, “do better” and “love better”. I hate feeling like I will never get it quite right. I hate feeling afraid to take the risk to go “there”.
Sin weighs me down. It crushes a spirit. It burdens a heart. It stifles a purpose.
Sin comes and:
It laughs at us
It makes us afraid
It shames us
It makes us uncertain
It tells us, “why bother?”
It condemns us
It defines us
It confirms we can never change
It makes us self conscious
It covers us in chains
It discourages us
It attempts to hold us back from our purpose
It steals peace
It embarrasses us
It robs us of joy
It knocks on the doors of our lives attempting to lure us. It stands ready to rob us. And after it does, it leaves us injured, broken and lying on the floor unsure what to do next.
But it is in this place of vulnerable pain where our hurts drive us to admission. It is in this place where we have to take a risk. Where we have to step out of our comfort zone.
And, it is in this exact place where God is best seen. This is where we see him from an authentic, open and receptive heart. And, when we come to God, he heals and binds up our pain better than we could have ever imagined.
When we confess, and move towards God through changed actions, he comes to us – and we come to him.
And he says:
I forgive you
I love you
I will embrace you
You are my workmanship
Your actions don’t disqualify my plans
Your sin doesn’t mean you can’t win
Your ways don’t supersede my ways
I am more successful than your failures
My grace extends further than your guilt
I live inside of you. I can’t give up on myself.
You are more than a conqueror because of Christ Jesus.
You are my work-in-progress
Do you believe me?
If so, let it go. As far as the east is from the west. Let. It. Go.
Watch me work.
I can change you.
I am perfecting the beauty that is “me” within you.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)
SEE YOUR BEAUTY. You are absolutely beautiful to God, just as you are.
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. (Song of Songs 4:7)
God loves you. Choose today to believe in the depths of your heart that God does not look at you and see a list of flaws, of shortcomings and of failures. He sees beauty. He sees a treasure that he loves. One that he created. He sees a child of God, his own child.
For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. Deut. 7:6
God doesn’t look and define you by your shortcomings, failures and your lack of _____.
Instead, you are defined by greatness – His greatness. He chose you, my friend. You belong to God – not because of anything you did – and certainly not because of your goodness. But, because of your beauty – in Him.
When we believe that God accepts us because of him, the spotlight can come off of us. When we believe that he loves us because of his love, we can stop harping on failures. When we believe that he is greater than us, we can finally stop feeling so weak.
God’s love surpasses our limitations. There is no moderation. What he gives, surpasses expectations.
We expect to be pushed away for our failures, but God draws us near. We expect to be cast aside for our weaknesses, but God makes us strong. We expect to be ridiculed for our flaws, but God comforts us.
He knows we fall short. This is the point. This is why we need Christ. This is why we need grace and forgiveness. We need his saving work to be righteous – in Him. His grace. His love.
The real beauty is that it is all about Him. We are beautiful because of Christ. He makes us beautiful.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12).
God looks at you, his child, and says:
“You are beautiful.”
“I want to lavish love upon you.”
“I know you sin, but, as you confess, I extend you my grace.”
“Be guilty no more, I have come to your rescue.”
“Let go and trust me to refine you.”
“Do not fear yourself. Let my perfect love cast out fear.”
“I love you as I have created you, you are my work in progress. I know what I am doing. You are beautiful.”
Do you get frustrated at your failings? Do you feel less than sometimes? Do you feel unloved? God sees you and he sees beauty. It is time you see your beauty too – not because of you, but because of Him.