Purposeful Faith

Category - Regular Contributor

Trading Fear for Confidence in His Unshakeable Grip

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

If you were completely confident in God’s unchanging, irrevocable love for you, would it change how you walked? If you knew that no matter how many times you fell, he would be right there to catch you, would it change the way you lived your life?

I believe it would.

Several years ago, God showed me what confidence in a daddy’s grip can do. Our firstborn was six, and he set out to conquer a new set of monkey bars at a state park we were visiting. But after climbing the ladder and surveying the height, fear overtook him. I could tell he wanted to cross, but he convinced himself he wasn’t able to do it.

After spending a few minutes observing our boy, my husband walked over. He spoke words of encouragement and told him he would walk with him, arms out and ready to grab him if he slipped.

Our six-year-old hesitated another moment and then went for it. He made it all the way across without falling, and then there was no stopping him. He immediately went back for more.

The smile on his face spoke for itself, but for the rest of the afternoon he told everyone about his new accomplishment. Our friends. The neighbors. People he met on our hike to the waterfall.

Everyone heard, “Daddy wouldn’t let me fall, so I knew I could do it.”

It’s amazing what that kind of confidence can do for us, isn’t it?

When we know someone is walking with us and cares about every detail of our lives, we can move forward without fear. Even when circumstances look bleak, we can put one foot in front of the other because we know we aren’t doing it alone.

Can I tell you something? You have someone too.

If you’ve surrendered your life to the living God, he goes with you, behind you and before you.

“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” Psalm 139:5 NLT

Even if everyone in your life has let you down or abandoned you. Even if your earthly father never gave you the love and assurance you needed.

God’s love is not fickle. It is patient and enduring. It withstands in the places where human loves fails.

This is the type of love that transforms our walk. It’s the type of love that enables us to do things we would never do before, because we know with him standing in the gap with us, we will never be alone.

Claim this truth as your own today. Speak it out loud when the lies of the enemy threaten to overtake your thoughts. I can promise when you do, you will see a change. And the change will be in you.

 

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.

Good News for All of Us Who Feel Like Outsiders

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

Outsider.

I let this term define me for far too long. As a teenager, I always felt on the outside of the popular crowd at school. When I became a young adult, shyness and nerves prevented me from venturing out and making new friends.

When we wear a label long enough, it becomes comfortable. It’s like a thick skin of protection and we start to like it. Even when our circumstances change and our beliefs about life and eternity are rocked, those names we give ourselves are hard to get rid of. They stick like residue, not wanting to come off.

After becoming a follower of Christ, I received new names.

Daughter. Beloved. Child of the one true God. It all sounded wonderful and good and intriguing. But I still felt like an outsider. I fought to grasp something that seemed perpetually out of my reach. If I could only grab hold of it, I would truly be free.

What whatever it was, it continued to elude me. Like a drive through the heavy fog that obscures our mountaintop in the morning, my vision was obscured. I kept striving and wanting something more.

One morning I was in the thick of a women’s Bible study, and the author was talking about anger. She asked the reader to list the things she thought she was entitled to. Her rights. And I’m not talking about our rights as citizens of a country, but the things we think we deserve because we walk this planet.

At first, I struggled through it.

“I’m not an angry person,” I reasoned. I love others.

“But do you feel loved in return?”

It was a gentle question. A nudge in my spirit. If I’d rushed ahead to the next activity, I would’ve missed it.

The longer I sat in the quietness of a Father’s compassion, the more I realized what I chased.

I ran after ways I thought I deserved to be loved by others, but wasn’t. I longed to be understood and truly seen, but felt often felt lacking in both.

Friends, we can learn others’ love language and go to endless relationship experts and counselors. But in the end, there’s only One who will love us the way we truly desire.

Our feelings will change with the weather, but his love is constant and unwavering.

He’s the One who created us. The One who knows us inside and out, who can see our thoughts before we form them.

We are never outside his love. He invites us inside, to feel the closeness of his Spirit and the breath of his adoration.

“In Love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” Ephesians‬ ‭1:4,5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We are inside his eternal family.

We are in the depths of his unconditional love.

He drenches us with his endless, undeserved grace.

When I spend time in his presence, I realize I’m loved in ways I dare to dream about. The more I grow to know him, the more I see that I’m not an outsider.

And neither are you.

In Him we belong. In Him, we are complete.

 

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.

 

When You’re Afraid to Take That Step of Faith

Blog post by: Abby McDonald

“Don’t look down, Mom!”

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.

Say yes.

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.

 

The One Acknowledgement that Truly Satisfies

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

My love for an audience began with unexpected heartbreak at nine years old.

I sat on a piano bench in auditorium filled with people who watched with anticipation. Although nerves were palpable, I played the beginning of the piece with confidence. The practiced rhythm in my fingers was instinctual.

Until it wasn’t.

In a moment of confusion, I did the unthinkable. I thought about the next phrase of music. Rather than trust my fingers to remember the notes, my mind raced ahead.

My sigh was audible to everyone sitting in the audience. Hundreds of eyes stared and after what seemed like an eternity, I proceeded the only way I knew how. I played the next section I remembered, bowed, and hurried off the stage.

At the time, I wasn’t sure how I survived, but I was sure of this: it the worst day of my life.

Isn’t it funny how even when our experiences on stage leave scars, we often desire more? Whether it’s in front of hundreds of people or in a small group, we have this innate desire to be seen. We want to know our work is valued, and when we don’t receive affirmation we often become discouraged.

That night on the stage so many decades ago, I was recognized. It may not have been in the way I desired, but the hour following the performance was filled with affirmation from total strangers.

“You handled that situation so well,” one person said.

“It could happen to anyone. You should be proud of how you responded.”

With each word of encouragement, the sting of disappointment hurt a little less. And whether the performance went the way I anticipated or not, I was sure of this: these people saw me, flaws and all, and they applauded me for it.

This audience satisfied one of our deepest human desires: to be seen and valued.

The problem is, many of us spend our entire lives looking for this acknowledgement in the wrong places. We wonder why we are never satisfied, waiting for the next “like” on social media, nod of approval from a friend, or accolade from the workplace.

This is what I spent most of my life doing. When my friends and family complimented my strengths and work, I felt like a conqueror. But when I wasn’t acknowledged for my efforts, I sank into depression and questioned my worth.

Once I got married, had my first child and stopped working, I reached a crossroads. I could either spend my entire life on an endless ride of highs and lows, or I could discover who I truly was.

What I didn’t realize at the time is that we will never fully know who we are until we know who God is. I spent years trying to “find myself,” but I didn’t know my Savior.

When we begin with God, everything else falls into place. When we begin with ourselves, we roam in circles.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”

Galatians 2:20 NIV

“I no longer live,” Paul says. His entire life was dedicated to glorifying the One who stopped him on the road to Damascus and changed his life forever. Though we are still moved by his faith today, his mission was never about his glory. It was about magnifying the name of the one who saved him from a life of aimlessness.

I’ll never forget the evening in early November when I sat on the couch reading, The Purpose Driven Life with my husband. We were reading the opening chapter, which is aptly titled, “It’s Not About You.”

I realized my entire life had not been about my Creator, but about me. And in making everything about me, I had missed my purpose entirely.

There is freedom in knowing this life is not about us.

Do you know why? What the world gives, it can also take away. All of the praise, the fame and celebration can disappear faster than we can click “like” on Facebook.

But what God gives is eternal. And they way he sees us? It is complete. He sees beyond our insecurities and into our hearts.

Once we make Him the center of our lives, we gain purpose. His Word and character do not change like the trends on Twitter. We can trust Him and know if we humble ourselves before Him, He will exalt us.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

1 Peter 5:6 NIV

When the Lord exalts us, he is exalting a reflection of himself and his Spirit in us. And friend, there is nothing more spectacular than that. 

 

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.

The Danger in Letting Others Define Who We Are

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“Don’t ever say you’re just a mom.”

I spun around, startled at the realization that my conversation wasn’t private. I was talking to the cashier at a local toy store about school and pursuing a career in writing. Both my boys were tiny at the time, and before I knew it the statement that I was “just a mom” spilled out of my mouth.

It wasn’t that I didn’t think mothering was important. It had more to do with other’s perception. Or at least, that’s what I thought.

When I turned I saw an older man standing there. He looked me square in the eye and said words I desperately needed to hear during that season.

“What you’re doing is the most important job there is.”

I nodded and thanked him, not sure what else to say. I was amazed at God’s ability to use a complete stranger to encourage me during a time of my life when I felt lost and defeated. And in an instant, I knew I was where God wanted me. My doubt and apprehension was replaced with confidence and security.

But old habits have tendency to resurface, don’t they?

Eventually, I had more time to devote to things I loved and opportunities knocked at my door. I was filled with gratitude and awe at how God was using me.

Encouragement from other strangers came. Strangers who eventually became friends and confidants. I linked arms with others who shared a passion for communicating a message and pointing others toward the hope of Christ through words and stories.

But before I realized what was happening, gratitude turned to comparison. Awe turned to impatience. My timeline and God’s were not the same, and goals I thought would take months turned into years.

I fought for affirmation and approval. Sometimes it came, but when it didn’t my security blanket was ripped off like a band-aid. Rejections stung. Silence and waiting stung even worse.

If we let others define who we are, our security will change like the rising tide.

We will constantly lower our buckets into the well of compliments and accolades until we hit the bottom. And one day, the bucket will come up empty. Our source of sustenance will be parched.

But you want to know the good news? There is Living Water. It never runs dry. And his definition of who we are? It never changes, once we’ve received Him.

Friends, we don’t have to fight for our seat at his table.

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 2:6 NIV

 Our status has nothing to do with our abilities, and everything to do with Christ’s finished work. It is because of his grace and love for us that he allows us to participate with him in his divine work.

Perception changes everything. So the next time we’re tempted to compare and fight for our seats at the table, let’s remember this:

Christ’s finished work = our eternal worth.

This world and the people in it do not determine who you are. The One who hung on a tree and paid a price more precious than pure gold does.

Never forget who claimed you as his. Take your seat, and remember your identity comes from him alone.

 

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.

The Best Pause When Life Feels Frantic

Blog Post By  Angela Parlin

I love so many things about the month of December.

The memories, the gatherings, the excitement for what’s coming. Twinkle lights everywhere after dark. Remembering the story of Jesus’ birth with the angels and shepherds and a star leading souls toward a newborn King—the one who changed everything.

One of my favorite things is looking back to remember. Another favorite is looking forward. It’s the in-between that trips me up. Do you know what I mean?

I’m at that point in December—like every other year—where I feel buried by the schedule and all the many to-do’s. It’s like I have to keep running, running, running–to make this pick-up time and that deadline and those purchases and these events. None of it is too much, on its own. But add it all together, and I’m one frazzled Mom.  

Today, however, I read a passage that transformed my frantic feelings, and I wondered if you need this too. Do you need to press pause on all the things, in the middle of December, in order to behold the glory of God?   

I know a place where we can always go–not to hide from our lives but to find refuge instead.

I hope you’ll come with me. Let’s dig into the Word of God, and let Him do His beautiful thing in our hearts. Right now. Today. 

I hope you’ll spend some time reading these scriptures, and read the passages around them as well. I like to copy the words by hand, sometimes on a colored card or along the edges of my day planner…yes, I still use paper planners. 😊 You may want to read them repeatedly, even memorize them. Any time you spend focusing on the Lord will be a gift to you.

5 Places to Pause When Life Feels Frantic

There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. 1 Samuel 2:2 (NIV)

Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? Exodus 15:11

For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? 2 Samuel 22:32

I love you, Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:1-2  

I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. Isaiah 45:5-6

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

When a Door that Seemed Open Is Slammed Shut

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

Flashing lights showed in our rear-view mirror and my husband pulled right, allowing the ambulance to pass. It turned on the street leading up to our house.

“Oh, Don. What did you do now?” my husband said in an exasperated tone.

He seemed certain the ambulance was headed toward our neighbor’s house. The middle-aged man’s health was deteriorating, and those lights were appearing next door more and more often.

“It could be someone else. There’s lots of homes in that direction,” I said.

It was true, but I wasn’t confident. Silently, I prayed for our neighbor’s safety.

But the further we drove, the more fleeting my hopes became. We arrived home and the paramedics drove past our house, parking in front of our neighbor’s. As we observed them from our driveway, we could tell they were familiar with our friend’s case. Frequent caller, nuisance, guy who uses first responders as a taxi service.

There weren’t many in our area who cared about this guy. He was single with no kids, quirky and odd. But months after following the ambulance to his house, my husband took him to Bible study. Despite previous invitations that were ignored or turned down, he went several times.

After his dad passed, we invited him to dinner. To be honest, I felt uncomfortable by some of his habits. But I held my tongue and he came to our home again a few weeks later.

I was sure God was paving the way for a change in this man’s life. We sensed his heart shifting and opening. And while it was just enough to shine a tiny light through, it was something.

But then, there was another shift. Another ambulance. Another trip to the hospital.

He died on a Monday morning. My husband received a text from a caretaker while at work.

I tried to be optimistic, but neither of us knew the state of his soul.

Even as a sit here writing this, questions race through my mind. Why would God allow the door to crack open just a little and then slam shut? Did he plant a seed that was never intended to yield fruit?

I don’t have the answers. I don’t know where this person’s spirit rests. But the same God who put this neighbor next door speaks to my anxious heart.

Most of us know John the Baptist as the bold, fearless one who paved the way for Jesus. The one who decreased so Jesus could increase.

But at the opening of Matthew 11, we get a different picture of this prophet. The man who cleared the way is now questioning. He’s hurting. He’s stuck in a prison, and perhaps waiting for the Messiah who performed miracles for everyone else to extend a miracle to him.

Messengers deliver this message from John to Jesus:

“Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

Matthew 11:3 ESV

Really? Is this even the same person? One moment he was literally shouting the name of Jesus from every platform, and now he’s not even sure he knows who Jesus is.

As much as we may like to see Jesus intervene, he doesn’t. Instead, he tells the messengers to tell John what they hear and see.

He concludes by saying,

“Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Matthew 11:6 ESV

Friends, our job is not to be the way or have all the answers. Our job is to point others to the way.

In his distress, John may have lost sight of this. He may have thought there was more he could do with his ministry, if given the opportunity.

But John’s job was to shine a light toward Jesus. Nothing more. Nothing less. And he achieved that goal.

When we question God’s motives, we lose sight of who he is.

Not only that, we lose sight of who we are. We are vessels he chooses to use and shine his Spirit through.

Sometimes, our opportunities only last for a moment. Others may last for years or even a lifetime. But when the vapor dissipates and an earthly life fades, let’s not lose hope. Though we mourn, let’s continue scattering those seeds.

Because we never know when that seed will burst forth and produce something beautiful.

 

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.

Ask with Boldness, Walk with Wisdom

pray bold and unedited prayers quote by Katie M. Reid for Kelly Balarie's Purposeful Faith blog

Post By: Katie M. Reid

For a long time, I censored my prayers because I didn’t want to be disappointed if they were not answered in the way I hoped. But through a friend’s encouragement, I stopped editing my prayers and started boldly asking God for my heart’s desire. I knew that God would answer according to His will.

Praying uninhibited helped strengthen my faith as I declared that God could do the impossible and then waited to see how things would unfold.

King Solomon is an example of someone in the Bible who prayed with boldness and walked in wisdom. I want to do the same.

1 Kings 3:9 says: So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?

As a new king, Solomon had the honorable yet daunting task of governing God’s chosen people. Although his earthly father was far from perfect, Solomon had big sandals to fill as he reigned on the heels of his dad, revered King David.

In 1 Kings 3:5, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and said: Ask for whatever you want me to give you.

This almost seems like a genie in a bottle kind of moment, but it’s more like a loving father placing his hands on his child’s shoulders, “What is it that you want? Is there something I can do to help you?”

Solomon responded to God’s question by asking for a discerning heart to distinguish between right and wrong. He asked for this so he could rule well and honor God in the process.

Solomon could have asked God for long life, wealth, victory over his enemies (or the latest, greatest model of chariot) but instead, he demonstrated humility and wisdom by asking for a discerning heart. Solomon was keenly aware that he had been called to a position that required more strength and insight than he currently possessed, so he asked God to provide what was needed for the task at hand.

Solomon’s prayer for wisdom pleased God and God gladly provided what was requested.

As we see in 1 Kings 3:3, Solomon was imperfect yet God still blessed him by answering his heartfelt plea.

Not long after Solomon received this gift of wisdom, he was presented with a perplexing situation of two harlots disputing over who was the rightful mother of a baby. Solomon’s verdict on this sticky situation caused all of Israel to be in awe as they observed the divine wisdom God gave their king to administer justice (1 Kings 3:28).

Solomon’s bold and unedited prayer for a discerning heart not only benefited himself but a whole nation.

Solomon did not just walk around saying, “Hey, I’m a wise guy,” he actually applied that wisdom to situations that arose, as we see demonstrated in the account of the two harlots (1 Kings 3:16-28).

As you face your own challenges, remember this faith-filled moment from King Solomon’s life: Ask boldly for what you need and act wisely as God leads.

Dear God, help me pray boldly and unedited like Solomon—asking for the very thing I desperately need. Help me to act wisely, according to Your Truth, knowing that you have my best interest in mind and deeply care for those around me. May I be a good steward of what You have entrusted to me and depend on Your insight to guide me. Thank You that You delight in answering my prayers and are able to help me navigate the trials I face. In Jesus’ name, amen.

What is a bold and unedited prayer you have?

Katie M. Reid Author and Speaker

Katie M. Reid is an author and speaker who encourages you to find grace in the unraveling of life (look for her first book coming out next July with WaterBrook!). She inspires you to embrace your identity in Christ and live out your God-given purpose. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in the Midwest. She is a fan of cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea. Katie and her husband host the popular Facebook Live show, “Stop! Hammock Time” (which airs Wednesdays, 9pm EST). Join in the fun and unwind in this vibrant community.

Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Exchanging Labels and Lies for His Truth

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I went to the N.A. meeting with one goal. To get in and get out. The last thing I expected was for someone to give me a new label. I had too many of those already.

Sure, I wanted to support my loved one. I wanted him to get healthy, find release and healing. But I hoped by staying quiet and not making direct eye contact with the group leader, I could make my exit as soon as the meeting was over.

My strategy didn’t exactly work out as planned. The leader saw me right away, as it’s hard not to notice someone new when you’re sitting in a huge circle.

Once he learned who I was, he asked a series of questions. I didn’t know where he was leading and tried to be as vague as possible with my answers. Later, I learned he was trying to see if I met all the criteria for a term commonly used to describe the loved ones of addicts: codependent.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what the word meant. I had an idea, but I was nineteen years old at the time. Things like this didn’t enter my vocabulary. So, like any good college student, I did some research.

Codependency: (n) a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.

I wasn’t willing to admit it out loud, but I knew I was a classic case. And without even realizing it, I took this label and added it to the list of other ones I allowed to define me through my college and early work years. Codependent, quiet one, underachiever, shy girl.

What’s ironic is that I hated stereotypes. When others tossed them around, I tried my best to avoid them.

“You can’t put me in a box,” I thought to myself.

What I didn’t see is that even though I wasn’t saying them aloud, I was listening. I was allowing these titles to limit me and hold me back.

When I had the opportunity to read my poetry aloud at the coffee shop, I quietly declined. When my professor told me I should enter a writing piece into the tribune, I let fear hold me back.

Staying in the shadows felt safe.

But by never venturing out and taking risks, I slowly lost little pieces of myself. I watched opportunities pass by and wondered why it was so hard for me to step out and be brave.

Years later, after graduating and acquiring my first couple of post-college jobs, I sat in a sanctuary trembling as the labels I’d adopted fell, one by one. I had new ones, and they weren’t names the world could give or take away.

Chosen. Worthy. Daughter. Beloved.

It took me years of searching and asking questions. Lord knows, I can be pretty hard-headed at times. But what I finally saw is that if I let the world define me with a finite label, I would never know who I was as an eternal being.

The world gives us labels based on appearance, but Jesus gives us names that stick.

Once we realize this, we can walk in freedom because we know that when he calls us to do something, it is his name we represent. Not our own.

So if he if he calls us to speak or share or move, what do we have to lose? Nothing but chains, dear daughters. Nothing but chains.

“My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.” Song of Solomon 2:10 ESV

 

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.

God Can, But Will He?

God Can, But Will He quote by Katie M. Reid for Kelly Balarie's Purposeful Faith blog

Post by: Katie M. Reid

This man with leprosy believed that Jesus could make him clean, if He was willing.

Luke 5:12-13 “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean. Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man, ‘I am willing’, he said. ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him.”

Lord, if You are willing You can make me clean. 

Shadrach, Meschach and Abed-nego faced a fiery furnace. They knew that God was able to save them from it, but even if He did not they refused to bow down to another (see Daniel 3:16-18).

Lord, if You are willing You can save us from the fire. 

Jesus can do anything. He can do the impossible (see Matthew 19:26 & Luke 1:37).

Do you believe that?

He can rescue us from the fiery trials that we face. He can heal any kind of disease. He can restore broken marriages. He can free us from addictions. He can bring the dead to life.

Nothing is too difficult for Him (see Genesis 18:14 & Jeremiah 32:27).

Sometimes He doesn’t rescue, heal, restore, free or resurrect on this side of heaven, but that doesn’t mean that He is unable to. 

What does it mean then?

The night before Jesus faced the fiercest trial of his life, he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).

Why was the Father not willing to let this cup pass from Jesus, His beloved child?

Was it because He was displeased with the one praying? Was God angry at him, ignoring him or apathetic towards him?

Not at all.

Jesus was His Son, the beloved of the Father. So why was He not willing to deliver His Son from the horrific, grave circumstances that He was facing?

It was love.

Not just love for Jesus but undying love for all of us. God allowed this suffering because He knew the end result would greatly impact the world forever; providing the way to a restored relationship with the Father and life everlasting with Him.

We have the privilege of knowing the rest of the story, but what if we were there in the Garden with Jesus or there at the foot of the cross as He hung upon it? Would we question God’s Sovereignty? Would we wonder why He wasn’t willing to save His Son?

Faith is being sure of what we do not see (see Hebrews 11:1) We choose to believe even when what we see seems contradictory to our beliefs. God is who He says He is or He is not.

I’m not trying to explain away your pain. I just know that sometimes our finite minds are limited and our eyes are short-sighted.

If God is not willing to let the cup pass in your life, I believe that it is for a greater purpose than what we can see at present.

God is Sovereign. Trust that He is Loving. Rest assured that He is Just.

You can take shelter in His Sovereignty and rest in His ability to cover you and keep you underneath the shelter of His wings. He cares deeply for you- so much so that He was unwilling to let the cup of His wrath pass from Jesus. He was willing to let His Son die so that you could live.

You are precious in His sight and loved beyond comprehension. You can be confident as you rest under the umbrella of His will, because He is faithful.

He is able to do anything. He is willing to make you clean through Jesus. He loves you that much. He did everything for you at the cross with arms spread wide open in love for you, that you may be saved.

I’ll leave you with a song declaring His power and His ability to do the impossible.

Nothing is impossible with God

Nothing is too hard for Him

He is able, more than able, to do anything.

He is Sovereign, He is Wise, He is Great, has limitless strength.

He’s the God who sees, the God who knows, the God Everlasting, the God of me.

Daniel 3:17-18 “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Katie M. Reid Author and Speaker
Katie M. Reid is an author and speaker who encourages you to find grace in the unraveling of life (look for her first book coming out next July with Waterbrook!). She inspires you to embrace your identity in Christ and live out your God-given purpose. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in the Midwest. She is a fan of cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea. Katie and her husband host the popular Facebook Live show, “Stop! Hammock Time” (which airs Wednesdays, 9pm EST). Join in the fun and unwind in this vibrant community.

Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com and on Facebook and Twitter.