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.
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).
It’s a shame I got so angry.
It’s a shame I didn’t give in to the demands and now, those people are still upset at me.
It’s a shame that I handled things all wrong and hurt people’s feelings.
It’s a shame that I regret it and can’t rewrite history.
It’s a shame. Or actually, I am a shame. I am a shame of a girl who should be ashamed of myself for how I acted.
This is the line the devil feeds me: “Oh, Kelly, look at you. . . you should be ashamed of yourself.”
And now, look what you’ve done:
They all hate you. Everyone remembers. You are a bad testimony. You’ll never recover. No one will ever support you. You’re ruined.
He’s sneaky, that devil.
But I can be sneaky too. I can be. I’m sneaky when I remember: if I’ve confessed it, God’s forgiven it.
At this point, the face of that issue no longer faces me. Jesus’ love speaks louder than my history. Yet, I can be sure if there’s a voice still talking, it’s the enemy’s. And at this point, it will always sound like shame or regret.
But I don’t have to live with it. I can tell it to shut up. Here’s how. . . I say:
I am not controlled by what I’ve done, but the Word of Truth and the Spirit of life. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. There is no perfect person and if that is my standard I will always fall. I can forgive myself. God is my hiding place, and in Him no harm will touch me. God knows the intentions of my heart. The Lord watches over me, because I fear Him. (Ps. 33:18) The Lord protects me; He is my shield. (Ps. 33:20) The Lord thwarts any evil schemes coming against me. (Ps. 33:10) I am not perfect, but the perfect sacrifice of Jesus perfectly covers me and marks me righteous.
I am fully restored in Christ.
And that’s how the voice stops talking. You tell it the truth.
This is both a hard question to ask, and perhaps, one we’ve all been confronted with. Are there times, reasons or seasons to pull away from a friend? And should we feel horribly guilty about it?
I stood facing exactly this type of decision only three weeks ago. I liked the girl, but she had been giving me far too much detailed advice about topics I never asked her input on. This annoyed me. It was as if she was rewriting my life with a pen I never handed her. It was as if she was telling me a list of things I should improve, but the hard part was she didn’t even know my story or what God was doing behind the scenes. She was quick to talk and slow to ask questions of understanding.
My finger was pointed at her. And my mind kept circling the thought, “Guard your heart. Create distance from her.”
This meant avoid her: Avoid confronting her. Avoid the problem and avoid dealing with the repercussions of having a real discussion.
But God bless my husband. He essentially told me, “Love has hard talks.”
It does? So I talked with her.
Which I’m so glad I did, because if I didn’t I never would have seen:
-How my wounds made me react quickly to her words.
-God had things for me to learn through this discussion.
-Her heart was in the right place.
-God has deeper healing for me.
-There are safe boundaries that can be set up.
-I am not always right.
-Communication about what works and what doesn’t is vital to any relationship.
-We both have good goals in mind.
-The enemy is sneaky and he loves to create division.
I am not perfect, and neither are my friends. I haven’t always been a good or an enduring friend but I am learning to give people the benefit of the doubt.
So to answer the question, “When do you end a friendship?” I don’t have all the exact answers and there are far too many nuances to explain in black ink…but I do know: you never ditch people like trash. That is for sure.
You talk and you tell. You love and love some more. You give and accept grace. You listen and you learn. You dive in and you uncover. You persist and listen to God’s direction.
You take the risk, even when you want to turn your back and walk away. Sure, there may be times God leads you to go a different path. But, before this point, you enter the difficult spaces and get real. You seek to understand.
Take a hard-learned lesson from me.
Prayer: God, I want to be a good friend. I want to be a person who is slow to anger, quick to listen, patient and kind. Grow me in this. Show me how to communicate well. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.
It is that which makes you feel guilty that you aren’t on the right track.
It is that which pressures you into doing something you don’t really feel right about.
It is that which tends to speak over God’s voice.
It is another person’s perceived answer to your deep heart problem.
It is unsolicited input that creates average output.
What opinions are coming at you? Are you reliant on them?
I spent years reliant. I needed your answer to my problem. I didn’t believe in myself much. I didn’t know if I could trust myself enough to not make a fool of myself. I thought you knew better than me. If I had an idea, I would change it if yours was different.
I was horribly pulled in every direction and completely unsure of my life-path.
Until, one day, I realized: I was on man’s course, not God’s. Maybe this is the case for you too?
Little by little, voice by voice, we can become so swayed by others’ insight that we have no sight to see God’s unfolding plan for us. We hear all the swirling voices but miss God’s. We may be sure we are on the right path, only to have someone else doubt us.
This is why prayer is paramount.
Praying hearts understand this truth: you can ask and expect God to answer. Often He answers by giving you peace. Peace for a specific road you want to travel. Or, He answers with a random word through a person (it often doesn’t sound like advice, but a random comment that strikes you). Or, He answers with a verse in your mind. Or, He answers by putting a situation right in front of you.
The vital component to the answer is waiting. When we wait on God, we create space for the move He wants to make. Then, we gain certainty.
What advice does your heart need to turn away so you can turn toward God in prayer and follow Him?
Prayer: God, we want to hear you first and foremost. Soften the loud voices around us so that what comes through is your heart and your heart only. Give us a view of our best path. Lead us, with your arm around us. Grant us peace and certainty in our walk. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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.
I must: lose 5 pounds.
I must: encourage my kids more.
I must: save money.
This is the time of year where we get all intentional about the things we unintentionally forgot about last year. We pick them up again, and test them out. We try to surpass what, apparently, got the better of us.
We tie on the running shoes and hit the pavement, extra weight blobbing around.
We tuck away the cigarettes, pretending they weren’t right there in the dashboard.
We open up the closet doors, ones we’ve tried to ignore for last 11 months.
And as we open these tightly shut doors and experience the reality of what we failed at last year, well. . . we often feel like failures. We’re ashamed of ourselves. And thus, our minds inadvertently themselves up for failure.
May I encourage you, and myself, right about now?
Friends, every new beginning starts by facing a present reality. To see the weight, the issue, the pain, the problem, the sadness, the isolation or the agony around what is – is good. This is your new start, somewhere.
Don’t hate that. Don’t push the reality away. See it for what it is. This will be your driver forward; it will be what leads you into the arms of Christ. God’s strength will be your follow-through.
Know your deep need of rescue and help. It’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. For here you’ll find:
Where you can’t, God can.
Where it’s impossible, prayer makes everything possible.
The things that make you doubt- faith can knock down.
Where shame tries to scream about your looming failure,
Christ says, “With me, all things are possible.”
Where you find yourself messing up again, Jesus reminds you,
“My power is perfected in your weakness.”
Where you once strived hard to make things happen,
you can now trust Jesus to.
Where you demanded progress this year,
you can make space for God’s miracle.
Where you aimed to see your success,
you’re now prepared to see God’s glory.
Every new beginning, in Christ, is a happy ending. It is literally impossible to submit to Jesus and to not see goodness. Sure, it may look different than you thought, but it will always be good. Better even.
In Christ, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So go for it. Go for it with Jesus!!!
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus…” Phil. 1:6
Prayer: God, I am not perfect. I fail. Help me to see through what vision I have. Give me grace to do it with you. Give me peace along my path. Help me not see mess-ups as failures, but as opportunities to keep going. Teach me along the way. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.