Immediately, I wish my son hadn’t said that. I can’t help myself. My eyes drift to the expanse below and my feet wobble. What was I thinking when I agreed to do this?
I try to regain my composure and remember my harness. The 4-story high ropes course stretches out before me, and I know there was only one way out: through it.
If you fall, the harness will catch you.
I tell myself this repeatedly as I inch across a rickety bridge that seems a mile long. My son moves to the other side with ease, turning around at the end to cheer me forward.
“You’ve got this! Keep going!”
When I get close enough to the next platform, I take a giant step to the safety of a solid surface. I stop and breath deeply, thankful for a minute to relax my legs. As I survey the rest of the course, I take a mental note of how much further we have to go before we can make the trek back down to the bottom. My mouth is dry and I can hear my stomach starting to rumble.
When my husband suggested I embark on this adventure with my boys, my first instinct was to say no. First, I am not a fan of heights. And second, our one-year-old daughter was the perfect excuse for me to stay on the ground.
But then I felt a little nudge.
My parents were with us, and they were more than happy to watch their granddaughter. So I went. With harness tightened securely around me, I made my way to the top. And with my nine-year-old as my cheerleader, I kept going even when my balance was awkward and my footing unsure.
Even though I was afraid, I moved forward.
Even though my stamina was tested, my resolved to finish was greater. And you know what? I will never forget those minutes spent amongst the trees with my family.
When my feet were firmly planted back on the ground, I realized God was teaching me a valuable lesson. Without my even realizing it, he painting a picture.
You see, lately God’s been asking me to be brave. He’s asking me to step out of my comfort zone and do things I wouldn’t normally do. Speak more. Lead more. Trust him more. And my first instinct, like it was with my husband, is to say no.
God, I’m not qualified.
God, you have the wrong person.
God, I have no experience in this area.
But he keeps gently nudging me forward, waiting for me to take the leap. Desiring obedience, even when I stubbornly keep my feet planted in one place.
After making a lot of excuses, I said yes to one step. And then another. With each one, he shows me his presence never leaves. Even when my feet falter, he’s there.
Having a forward-moving faith doesn’t mean we’ll never fall. It means we trust a God who never fails.
So when we slip, he’s the harness that catches us and keeps us from hitting the ground. When our balance sways, he’s the secure grip that steadies us and enables us keep going.
“It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
He causes me to stand on the heights.”
2 Samuel 22:33-34
Friends, we serve a God who wants us to live life to the fullest.
He wants our faith to move us to new heights so he can show us the depth and width of his love. A love that surpasses all understanding. A love that will change others’ hearts, minds, and lives. But we have to be willing. We have to get off the ground.
When we do, the view is spectacular. When we do, our image of God expands with each shaky step.
Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.
Do you ever think, “Everything is going so well…I wonder when is God going to pull the carpet out from under me?”
Or, “I don’t deserve good stuff.”
Or, “I feel guilty for accepting…”
I think this way sometimes. As if God’s given me too much and suddenly needs to put me in my place. Or as if I’m spoiled by the fact He is good. Or like He is a killjoy who is out to punish me for my happiness.
Why do I do this?
Recently, I asked God for something. It was small, but I prayed for it to “get better”. Amazingly, I immediately did, to a degree. I saw God move in incredible ways. Then, I wanted to ask him for something else, something more. I almost prayed…but then I heard:
Bad Kelly! You want too much.
Bad Kelly! You think God is there to give you everything.
Bad Kelly! You are selfish.
Bad Kelly! You know there are others who have it much harder than you.
Afraid to take too much from God, I almost missed the opportunity to see how much He really loves me. I almost stopped asking. Why? Because I counted the nature of God equivalent with the nature of man.
God gives abundantly. Many give, but then take for themselves.
God does even more than we ask or imagine. Man does and then expects something in return.
God continually pours out the best of who He is on our behalf. Man halfway gives and then gives up.
When we assign the track record of man to God, we always lose. In fact, we close down the opportunity to see the abundant nature of an abundant God. We essentially hold an arm up to God and say, “You’re a little bit good, but not that good.”
What are you believing about God today? In what ways have you held an abundant God back? How have you let the past hurts of man create a false view of God?
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jo. 10:10
“For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jo. 6:33
I lived with fake trust in God for a long time. During those years, I thought it was real trust. Now I realize it was like dressing up a pig and calling her pretty. I focused on actions so much that I missed the heart of the matter.
I showed myself beautified by giving advice to others.
I dressed up my Christian life by doing bible study dinners.
I put on a thinking hat to prove I was smart on bible knowledge.
I believed if I read 10 minutes of God’s Word before breakfast, all His words would work for me.
I thought myself better by sizing myself up against those who were rude, struggling, arrogant, a know-it-all, or sinning.
“Do not throw your pearls to pigs.” Mt. 7:6
May I remind you? I was the pig.
I knew the Word of God, but missed God’s heart behind it. Ouch! I worked up faith, but faith that was all about me. I loved God, but it was the brute force of Kelly Balarie trying to make it happen. I believed God via my words, but doubted him deep in my heart.
Real love is not determined by what is shown on the outside, but by what compels us on the inside. Love does not originate from our good work, but from Jesus’ perfect work.
This thought and truth freed me. No longer am I looking to prove my worth. I am trusting Jesus’ worth to be my worth. I can breathe again. And beyond this, I can rest again.
I don’t have to force my way, because God’s way rules.
I don’t have to pretend faith, because God gives it.
I don’t have to make you think right of me, because God defends me.
The difference is: I get faith from God. He gives it to me; I don’t work it up.
I never have to prove myself more worthy, because Jesus is worthy. In this gap, I can confront my inadequacies, my vulnerabilities and my inabilities without fear of the unknown or unseen. Why? Because God has me.
He has you too. Naturally, He has you. He has you even when you don’t speak Christianese. He has you when you miss your morning devotional time. He has you when you mistakenly throw out a cuss word. He has you when you don’t know what to do. He has you when you think everything is crumbling. Your work won’t make up for what you owe Him…Jesus already paid for all that.
Look back and think of some miracles God has done in your life.
My miracle: He completely healed me from an eating disorder.
My miracle: He brought money into my mailbox on the very day I believed, many years ago when I couldn’t pay rent.
Your miracle: ____
Your miracle: ____
These past miraculous mile-markers serve as huge celebrations. Essentially, we said to God at that time, “Father, I want to ____. I need to ___. Only you can ___.” Then, Jesus did.
Times like this are recounted again and again in scripture. For example, a blind man said to Jesus, “I want to see!” (Lu. 18:41)
Jesus replied: “Receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” (Lu. 18:42)
It was this man’s faith that healed him. Faith permitted him to receive his healing versus doubting it and blocking it. He opened up his arms to a new idea, versus crossing them. Doing this was powerful, because look what happens. . .
We are told, “Instantly the man could see, and hefollowedJesus, praising God. And all who saw itpraised God, too.” (Lu.18:4e)
Notice the progression at work here…
Our faith leads to our receiving: This becomes our seeing.
Seeing leads to following Jesus.
Receiving and seeing creates a life of praising.
Our praising makes others start praising.
Where might your small mustard-seed-size faith start a wildfire of praise in this world? Don’t discount a small beginning of faith; God does not despise it. Instead, remember the wonders of old and recount the faithfulness of yesteryear. Re-establish that your God is able. And believe. Get ready to receive God’s new thing.
I recently noticed an increasing problem in my life. I can’t stand it if people think poorly of me. If they don’t email me back, I think there’s an issue. If they don’t answer my call, I decide they no longer like me. If I did something in the past and asked for forgiveness, I still figure I’m on the people-we-don’t-like list. The issue is not so much that I haven’t forgiven them. It’s that I think, “They couldn’t have forgiven me.” Which lends to a problem: shame.
And when shame shows up, we can always be sure its makings are from the enemy. And when he shows up, we can know we need to fight back.
How do we fight back? We realize, on many levels, it is not man who is in charge, but God.
Here are 25 Reasons Why Others Don’t Control My Destiny:
What matters is not what man builds, but what God builds.
“Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Ps. 127:1
Every single battle belongs to the Lord. When He fights, He wins.
Jesus had people against him. Guess what? He kept His eye on the mission, and as a result was still victorious.
I may plan my way, but God ultimately directs my steps. (Prov. 16:9)
God is actively working in others’ hearts in a way I cannot see, manage or predict.
I think far more about how I appear and “come off” than others do. They usually are thinking far more about how they “appear” and “come off” than about me.
What I dwell on, people tend to forget, especially if I’ve apologized.
Another’s silence could also mean: they are busy, out of town, struggling or forgetful.
God is my maker: nothing can unmake His plans for me.
If I remember who annoyed me 10 years ago, they are practically a non-issue today.
For every desperate no-way-out problem in the bible, God drop-kicked its walls and cleared way for victory, for those who trusted Him.
Waiting with trust is the first step to seeing a miracle.
What I can’t see being worked out, God can.
Shame doesn’t rule me. God’s truth and Spirit does.
I’ve been made to focus my attention on God, not on other’s wavering emotions, reactions and motivations.
God knows my heart. He stands behind and protects the hearts of the righteous.
The Spirit in me will guide me and lead me down the best paths.
I am not perfect, but I can trust the one who is to help me.
Jesus’ mission was never thwarted by those against Him.
God-dropped learnings result in my growing, when I steer clear of self-condemning words.
My path is God’s, not the trampled-down wide road the herds travel. Charting a new course with God always takes determination.
It is God’s rod that comforts and protects me, not the response of man.
I am made by God, not by other’s opinions.
I am the daughter of the Most High King. He will provide all I need (and then some).
We’ve moved across state and country lines three times over the past six years, and with each move I’ve dreaded the exhaustion of making new friends. Women can be so nice and welcoming and awesome. And women can also be terrifying.
After our second major move, we began the search for a new church. We liked the idea of attending church in our own neighborhood, so we decided to visit the one across the street from our apartment complex.
It was a smaller church, with around forty people attending that day, and when the service was over, it took at least forty-five minutes to exit the building. People wanted to know where we were from and where we’d been and if we preferred the Chicago White Socks or the Cubs. Albeit tiring, I was glad these complete strangers were making an effort to get to know us.
And then someone took it to the next level.
A woman named Beth came up to me again and asked if my daughter and I would like to come over for a play date at her place sometime that week.
If my jaw didn’t physically drop right then and there, it hit the floor metaphorically. She had only met me ten minutes ago, yet she didn’t hesitate to welcome my child and I into her daily life.
I thought protocol was that you had to commit to a church before the people in that church would be willing to commit to you. And yet, Beth welcomed us in – no strings attached. Not worrying if our presence would mess up the groove of the friendships she had already established.
As the newbie in town, I was so grateful for the generous welcome God provided in what would eventually become our church home and the source of many life-giving friendships. And as the one feeling awkward and lonely, I was so grateful Beth didn’t let fear hold her back from both saying hello and, “Would you like to come over?”
May we all be the same beacon of welcome to the people in our everyday lives – to those in our homes, in our churches, and in our neighborhoods.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:3
Lord, one of the greatest gifts that You gave us was the church. I pray that You will provide life-giving friendships for those of us who feel lonely. And I pray that You will help us recognize ways we can invite others into our daily lives – no strings attached. Amen.
About Kendra Broekhuis:
Kendra is the author of Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert’s Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. The book highlights her 30 Day journey to recognize the Lord’s “I love you’s” in her daily life, as well as her somewhat awkward attempts to be the Lord’s “I love you’s” to her neighbors. For her day job, Kendra stays home with two of their children, Jocelyn and Levi. She and her family live in Milwaukee. Kendra’s love language is Dove chocolate.
Her: “I told you I didn’t want the banana.”
Me: “You did?”
Her: “Oh, wait, I said that to you in my mind.”
This really happened. Someone told me in her mind and expected me to hear, I guess. It seemed crazy. Outlandish. Ridiculous.
But is it?
How many times do we speak our mind within our mind, only hoping that another will pick up on what we are saying.
We think: I wish that boy would pick up his clothes.
We act: All huffy and puffy about bending over.
We think: Why can’t she be on time?
We act: Impatient, looking at our watch the second she walks in the door to prove our point.
In our mind, we often have a running tally of what others are doing and saying wrong. But unlike the girl who didn’t want the banana, we don’t admit it. Instead, it builds and builds and builds…
Until….dun. dun. Dun… the day. . . dun. Dun. Dun…we EXPLODE!!!!!! And we go off on the person. We lose our cool and do the opposite of this:
“Love is patient, love is kind (1 Cor. 13:4)”…and “slow to become angry.” Ja. 1:19
How did we get here?
I’ll tell you how. We weren’t honest. Instead, we were thinking inside of our mind and living in fear of being truthful. The problem with this is that a truth not spoken and pent-up eventually bursts out of the pot at caustic and scalding temperatures that leave others feeling burned. Yee-oww!
God intends we go another way. We are told the truth will set us free – and it will. What is your truth? What freedom do you need to get from God?
You may need to:
1. Confess your frustration to God and ask Him what He has to say about it.
2. Admit it to an accountability partner and ask for prayer and help.
3. Talk to the person about your aggravation.
But don’t keep it on the inside. It is a hot pot about to boil over and the pain of it all does hurt.
The exterior of my house looks like a junkyard. I am not exaggerating. Out front is a broken desk; it was shattered during our near-cross country move. Out back are two sets of patio furniture. Ones I picked up and off the neighbor’s lawn.
I’ve never done that before. I really wanted patio furniture. So, the first second I saw the first set, the wrought iron white chairs, I declared them as cute as could be. That is, until a couple weeks later rust stains started showing up everywhere. I haven’t gotten rid of the chairs yet. My deck now is etched with tons of full-blown brown circles.
The other set was the replacement for the first set. I spotted the two big brown wicker chairs set aside as “throw-away items” in a neighbor’s yard. I rapidly snagged them (may I remind you, I’ve never been a trash hunter…I really wanted patio furniture). Like a sleuth agent, I threw them in my back yard before anyone could see.
Only later did I come to find out that the majority of the legs were missing. I guess they had enough legs to fool me at first. Go figure.
So, now, when I go outside, front-yard or back, I am overcome with junk. Junk that is rusty. Junk that is wasteful. Junk that is annoying. Junk I now have to figure out how to dispose of. Junk that leaves stains I also have to get cleaned. Junk that pesters me. And, no patio furniture, to boot.
What junk are you dealing with in your life? An old house? An old wardrobe? An old annoying habit that drives you nuts? A problem you can’t fix? A person you can’t de-stain? Baggage that feels to internally weighty to unload?
We can shift our attitude. Did you know that? I tried it. Sitting on the said-white chairs, the other day, I recommitted to God to be positive about it all. That is. . .until I looked left. . . and saw the brown chairs. Grr…not them again. My thoughts wandered off to lands of annoyed and not-bueno.
God, how do we continually see the good, while we are surrounded by the bad?
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18, NIV)
What if we were really go give thanks in (and for) ALL circumstances, good and bad?
God thank you that these rusty patio chairs remind me: earthly things rust, eternal things last.
God, thank you that the brown chairs, flipped over, with their broken and legless limbs up to the sky speak: on earth we don’t get everything, but in Christ, we have all we ever need.
God, thank you that the broken table out front is symbolic of seasons: they change, but your love, God, always stay the same.
God, thank you that what looks like junk can be seen through a new light. Thank you that what looks broken is a reminder of my brokenness and how you’ve repaired me. Oh God, I give thanks that you haven’t left me broken, but you are repairing me. You are good.
To give thanks for our bad, is to, undoubtedly, find God’s good. It is to let victimhood, despair and frustration drop off you and to let a high and lofty view come in you. It’s powerful.
Junk has purpose. Thank you God, my deck kind-of, now, looks like art work.
God, help me to give thanks. So many times I see what is bad, but through you, I ask for vision to see what is good. I ask you for a voice full of praise and thanksgiving. I ask for understanding of what you are doing through the hard times. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
A group of friends, full of strength, lowered a sick man from roof to floor, desiring to get him in front of Jesus. Jesus, seeing their faith, healed the man. (Luke 5:20)
Another man told Jesus, “say the word from where you are and my servant will be healed.” Jesus did. From afar and the man was healed. After Jesus remarked, “I haven’t seen faith like this in all the land of Israel” Lu. 7:9
A woman said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Mt. 9:21 She simply grabs Jesus’ hem and finds herself healed. Jesus tells her to “take heart.” I bet she did.
What do all these three examples have in common? Two things. Desperate need and infinite faith.
Do you have these? Desperate need? Infinite faith?
Coupled, they’re powerful. Yet, one without the other doesn’t work as well. If you have need without faith, you’ll likely camp out in your basement crying. If you have faith without need, you’ll fool yourself into believing Jesus for the wrong things.
What does your heart truly need? What, internally, are you crying for? What would you go any lengths to ask Jesus to do, heal, rectify, fix, or renew?
There is no shame in need. There is hope. Run to Jesus, lower yourself before him, call on friends to pray, grab Him in outstanding ways, cry, reach. . . but no matter what, go and get before Him. Desperately. Hungrily. Believing immensely in his power.
Desperate seekers loaded with wild faith find Jesus.
He notes their belief. He sees their struggle. He tends to their needs. He gives the words that encourage them to “take heart.”
Your desperation, whether hidden, apparent or ignored, is not bad. It is good when brought before a loving Father wanting to love. This is who God is. One with a greater capacity to care than even the best man. One with greater insight to teach than even the best teacher. One with greater ability to counsel than even the best therapist.
Faith believes God can.
Need lets Him in.
Open the doors to your heart. Then run after Jesus, ready to be changed.
Jesus, thank you that you are not after pretty images of perfection, nor righteous people who know everything, nor biblical experts of ancient times, nor striving hearts that never relax. You are after hearts in need. It was for those people, you stopped. It was for the sinners, you came. Help us to turn toward you in need and receive the best of you, in belief. Do a new thing. Give us the faith to trust you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.