I stared out the window. The outside was about ready to teach my insides a deep lesson.
What caught my eyes were two birds frolicking, jumping and having fun. They didn’t care; they chased, played and enjoyed the beauty of the day. Before not too long, a few friends even joined in. Life seemed to be a blessing not a burden.
I think they had no idea of when the next storm was approaching, but all they same, it didn’t seem to matter.
They didn’t seem worried about what they didn’t have;
they just went about enjoying what they did.
What is it you don’t yet have?
What is it that distracts your eyes from beauty?
I know it’s crazy, but wonder if somehow birds have an understanding that we don’t, like:
1. God’s nature is to forever take care of me. It is impossible for him not too.
2. Every season eventually ends and God provides. I will trust that.
3. God is who he is. Just as he makes the sun come up every morning and the moon fall, he will be true to his word.
4. I don’t have to fear I’ll be hungry for my next best thing, God remains my best thing.
5. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)
I want to be like these birds – free to fly high. Soaring. Enjoying. Living.
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? Matthew 6:26
I try to store away so much:
I fill myself with action plans.
I load up on maneuvers to self-protect.
I let it divert my mind from what God wants to heal.
I let my storehouse get shaky because God hasn’t yet shown up.
What do you store in your barn?
When we fill our barns to the brink, we always feel about to sink.
But, when we trust that God will provide the next meal, we are ready to fly.
We break out of molds. We rise up from our nest. We don’t think about the next storm. We approach the edge of our safety and we jump out to dance in the air of providence.
We remember his voice of faithfulness, the “I will take care of you” voice. We hear it rise to its heights.
It sounds like:
1. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Gen. 28:15
2. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb. 13:8
3. Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7
4. And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today… (Ex. 14:13)
5. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
God is calling us to delight in the gap between of uncertainty and his next big gift. Will we?
Will we choose to delight in his faithfulness or die in ungratefulness?
I don’t want to settle for second worst when I have second best. What I want to do is run, jump and fly with God to the places he has set to take me. Care to join me?
Have you heard of circus slaves?It sounds odd, I know. But, it is a horrible and very real thing.
Imagine the music. The applause. The fanfare.
Children are led in, smiles taped on. A woman grips a rope with her teeth and spin herself around. An odd one, a short one and, perhaps, a misfit one, under age 10, contort themselves on stage. In India, they’re trapped. Perhaps, beaten. The rings, nor the stakes to perform, couldn’t be higher.
Deep calloused pain sits heavy for circus slaves.
The Show Goes On
I sat in megachurch, thinking, “Maybe the Pastor will notice me.” Maybe he’ll look over and say, “That one. I want to meet her. She’s something special.”
I tried extra hard, declaring, “The harder you work, the bigger you rise and the better the chance of going noticed and getting ahead.”
I sat blogging, praying, “If only (insert big name here) would help me. If I had her endorsement on my book that would mean everything. It would get my message where I only dreamed it could go.”
I sashayed as a child, planning, “I’ll sing. I’ll sing and dance. Surely they’ll see and adore me.”
Cutting the Music
There’s this pull for me to enter the grand tent of the circus–flying colors, flips and all.
Do you feel it too?
It’s an invitation to wow the crowds, to stand tall and to swing above the fray – up to the places where a platform is set just for you.
It’s the call to rise to greater heights. Do you know it?
It lures us with the thoughts like: I have to meet certain numbers. I have to appease publishers. I have to be the best dressed mom. I have to drive that car. I have to do as good as that person.
It plays out in our lives like: Checking in on where others are. Keeping an eye focused on the crowds. Getting consumed with self-tactics. Filling yourself up with either pride or self defeat.
After many shows, a girl gets tired of the big show. She starts to see that the tent really is full of hot air and it always falls down at days end.
The floodlights nearly blind me with truth: When we look for man to see or save us, we miss how God does. We miss God all together. And, if Jesus isn’t there, what’s there — is slavery.
“For freedom Christ has set us free;
stand firm therefore,
and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
A girl stands there. A girl who realizes, “I am not performing, I’m just enslaving and depraving myself from God’s very best.”
She looks left and right and sees the others who are enslaved and depraved just like her. She sees ones trying and fighting, pining and clawing, hoping and dreaming to maybe be seen. Not all, but some, and her heart breaks for her fellow playmates who have been forced into hard labor, by themselves.
She calls out to them, “Let’s sneak outta here. I know the secret for us circus slaves,
want to hear it? It is the words of Jesus. . .”
“But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests.” Luke 14:10
Take the lower seat.
Let him recognize you.
When we sit with the other unseen and uncared for, we suddenly find that we are seen and cared for. We find that Jesus recognizes us, calls us friend and invites us to dine in his “best place.”
What could be better than that? It is called being freed to dine and delight in God. It is called your place to spin, sing, dance–a place where Christ sees and loves your every move made just for him.
Is Jesus inviting you there too?
Take the lower seat– that ends up being called the honored seat. It looks nothing like a flashy tent called slavery, because it is much more a heavenly seat called sitting right with Christ (Eph. 2:6).
Let’s go ladies, let’s go. Let’s go and remember it is not about how high we can rise, but really about how low we can go in service to Christ.
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It was the tipping point. The beginning of the fall. No, it wasn’t a crash, a sudden impact dive that you didn’t see coming. I saw this coming. I could feel it making its way toward me and yet, I was entirely helpless to stop it.
It was a slow, distinct unraveling. That moment where you can feel the wheels teetering ever so slightly out of balance until the whole thing comes unhinged. My heart, that is.
This was the season of my undoing.
I was quite certain I had never planned for this. My life was a well-structured agenda of fortitude, perseverance, accomplishments. They needed me in some misconstrued way, yet I needed them more.
From my earliest memories, I can recall that feeling, deep in my bones, that insane and horrific gnawing that I was not enough. That I would have to prove myself. I needed to be special. I needed to feel worthy. Loved.
I heard people say, If you try hard enough, you can accomplish anything.
I believed them.
So I set my face like flint against the wind, I measured my sails, and I set out to prove my worth to the world.
Whatever it takes, that was my motto.
Whether that meant hours of studying or practicing to be good enough. Whether it meant endless miles running wrapped in plastic wrap to be skinny enough, I did it. That was me.
I thought there would be some point where I arrived. Where I would attain. Where I would be enough.
Yet, inside I knew there was something adrift. If I was quiet enough, I could hear the tremors begin to quake. I felt the muffled pangs just beneath the surface.
I told myself, Just keep pushing and everything will turn out fine.
So I kept pushing. I pushed real good for awhile. I achieved what many said I’d never achieve. Nobody noticed the foundation beginning to crumble around me. I noticed.
I wanted to be healed. I longed to know what wholeness felt like. I craved peace more than anything I could imagine.
That must be for someone else, I thought, but it must not be for me.
I often felt like the woman in Scripture reaching out, desperate to touch the threads that lined the hem of Jesus’ robe. Surely if I could touch Him, she must have thought, then I would be healed. (Mark 5:21-34)
I understood the longing of the blind man, who day after day, hoped and prayed that he would one day see. How could he have known his Savior, his Healer would come with a little clay and a little spit near the pool of Siloam and give him everything he’d ever hoped for. How? (John 9:1-12)
I could see myself like Peter, shivering in the waves and wind as he stepped out of the boat onto the Sea of Galilee. If only I had enough fortitude to keep my eyes on Jesus, I could have walked on water without sinking beneath the waves of doubt and fear that pulled me under. (Matthew 14:22-33)
And then my healing came. Not in the way you’d expect. Jesus ushered me into a sacred place. A sacred season. Jesus led me to this season of healing and He never let go.
I heard Him whisper to me, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
I needed rest.
God gave me rest and He gave me so much more. Over the years of my healing journey, I discovered an abundance that was more than I had ever imagined. God was showing me how to build and live a life of peace. It was all I had ever hoped for. Longed for. To breathe. To feel solid and sure. To experience wholeness. To experience abundance. Physical abundance, spiritual abundance, emotional abundance.
3 Ways To Walk From Pain to Peace
Embrace Maximized HOPE! – Without a doubt your hope lies first and foremost in the person of Jesus Christ. He is your foundation spiritually, emotionally, and physically. As you learn to appropriate His hope, His healing into the emotional area of your life, you will experience the fullness, the abundance of hope He promises.
Jeremiah 29:11(NIV) states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Discover Complete WHOLENESS! – God wants you to be not only healed, but whole. God doesn’t want his children limping through life, barely surviving. He wants you to thrive. He wants you to discover your unique calling, your passion and purpose so that you can make a difference for His kingdom. As individuals become whole, the entire body of Christ becomes whole.
2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP) tells us that, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well- balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”
Enjoy Enduring HARMONY! – You were not meant to live in chaos. Your relationships were never supposed to be a rollercoaster of pain and disappointment. God wants us to learn how to foster peace and strength in our relationships so that we can enjoy them without being dependent on them for our happiness or wellbeing.
Romans 15:5-6 (AMP) shares, “Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may [unanimously] with united hearts and one voice, praise and glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).
You don’t have to keep trying so hard to prove your worth. You don’t have to keep pushing, hoping that everything will turn out okay. Healing isn’t just for someone else. Healing is for you.
Jesus is whispering to you, Come to me…
Will you come to Him today? Will you accept the peace He has for you? Will you let Him walk you from your season of pain right into His peace?
You can experience the love for which you long.
You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine.
You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow.
You can experience peace —for a lifetime.
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About Lisa Murray
Lisa is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, coffee lover, and wife. Her online community lisamurrayonline.com provides a compassionate place in the midst of the stresses and struggles of life. While she grew up in the Florida sunshine, she and her husband now live just outside Nashville in Franklin, TN.
About Peace for a Lifetime
In her new book, Peace for a Lifetime, Lisa Murray shares the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Lisa discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with herself, God and others. Through Lisa and other’s stories you’ll realize you can experience peace, not just for today, but you can experience peace —for a lifetime
I was in middle school, having the time of my life. One morning, I took off running after my friend at her beach house. Laughing, screaming, having fun, all was good until I fell and scraped my knee against the ground.
I screamed in pain.
She screamed that I should hush down.
I’m almost certain I screamed louder.
The gash ran deep, the pain was bad, but I felt like no one else really knew. It was my pain. It was my deal.
I can’t help but think I later delighted in the size of the scar; it seemed to prove my pain. It seemed to be the one marker of something I could show to others and say, “Look what I went through.”So much of everything else was unseen, but having people know, it meant something.
I look at that big chunk of ugly skin on my knee sometimes and remember things. I remember her, my friend; she is one of those girls who has a spirit, a joy and a life you can’t ever forget. All the same, I remember how our scars are ours and how they’re really just what we make of them. Victory markers or vile eaters of worth…
I’m making a choosing to see victory scars…
Lines that prove we actually got up and walked again. A threshold of pain we know we can conquer. The proof that we can and will endure. The reminders of those deep injured cells that cry out for self-care.
Each scar is worthy of a memory, a glance and a pondering.
You can choose which way you look at them, you know?
Scars can either bring us to victimhood or victory. The choice is ours.
Victimhood: I have been cut so much there is no way all the King’s horses or all the King’s men, could ever put me back together again. Things are said and done; I will live in pain and pain will come again and again. Good things don’t happen for me, one who looks far less porcelain doll and far more like the shredded woman in a horror film. I don’t know if I can take the idea of being cut again.
Victory: The wounds that look like they may kill me, have the greatest potential to heal me. They are what walk my feet right up to the throne of Christ, so I can see his wounds. The wounds that healed, saved and freed us all.
He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Is. 53:5
Victory isn’t found through the absence of pain, but through God’s deliverance through it.
He was pierced (for us), he was crushed (to work through our issues), he received punishment (to bring us peace) and he was wounded (so we could be healed).
What deliverance might your battle wounds bring?
What might your victory story look like?
His wounds know our wounds. His pain understands ours. His love quenches our fear. He can’t help but heal; it is who he is and what he does. Healing may not always come on the exterior, but make no mistake it will remodel the interior. And to know this is to know victory.
I hated every moment of being cut. I probably spoke to God things non-repeatable on a blog like this. But, still, with him, we moved and went. I might have wondered how we would make it through, but I got to see how he could bring me through. And one thing I know is you can’t remove a woman from her miracle; it is something that lasts, like scars, and for this I am eternally thankful.
Jesus turns scars into memorials of his faithfulness.
I am not surprised that after he died and rose, he came back to earth scars front and center (John 20:27), I think he knew they weren’t something to hate, but to love, to hold and to remember. For in each scar, there is a story of redemption if we let it work for us.
What evil wanted to hurt me, Christ used to heal me. He wants to do the same with you too…
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I’ve noticed, I am the type that reacts:
A person says something slightly offensive. I take it personally.
My friend makes a comment on how I can improve. I feel thrown off.
My husband gives a suggestion. I get sensitive.
I have noticed this internally too:
I mess up. I get angry at myself–even after I have confessed it.
I get far from God. I burden myself with things I must do to get closer.
I get distracted from people and life. I feel that coming back around to them will be hard.
It all comes down to doubt, doesn’t it? Doubt that God is good enough to handle my baseline fears. Doubt that God will come through when I can’t. Doubt that I really can be better than I am today, right?
Doubt is the undercurrent that drags us away from God. Doubt is the driver of most dumb moves. Doubt is the deliverer of the desperate to dealings with the devil.
I know this sounds extreme, but it is true. Push Jesus 5 steps away from your heart and that is a 5-step opportunity for the opponent to rush in to make you question everything.
We tend to believe in this thing called,
“the benefit of the doubt,” but I think what we really need to believe in is
“the benefit of grace.”
That person cuts you off on the road. “She must be having a hard day. God bless her as she drives home.” Benefit of Grace!
That supposed friend ignores you at church. “Perhaps she has her own fears. Maybe I can send her an email and check in.” Benefit of Grace!
That kid again doesn’t listen. “Hmm…it is not that they don’t respect me, but it’s that they want to have a little say. Let me remind them of God’s love and his never ending source of power in them a little later.” Benefit of Grace!
That man wants to be a show off and be prideful again. “Maybe he so fears loss of control, he has to overcompensate by having all control. Affirm him.” Benefit of Grace!
I did that thing I didn’t want to do. Now, I can’t ever let it go. “Jesus already let it go on the cross. He keeps no record of wrongs. He waits for you.” Benefit of Grace!
I am far from God. It is all my fault. I have no idea what to do. “Jesus knows this too; he is not angry with me. He waits and hopes that I can draw near and find his love.” Benefit of Grace!
Finding the benefit of grace, means we finding a wellspring of peace. Discouragement gets covered by the sacrifice of Living Water and we wade in the encouragement that this hope brings.
Grace makes us see perspectives differently.
With grace, we notice:
God works far better than we ever could.
The small thing he’s doing, rather than what we’re ruining.
We build into relationships, rather than destroy them.
Our hope for the hopeless situation – and a will to continue on.
We notice that mistakes, errors and offenses aren’t beacons of our future,
but undercover blessings helping us to forge trust that lasts.
Stepping back means we get to see God’s restoration step in, both in our lives and in the life of another.
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Don’t forget, because this is vital:
Live your life in a way where you can look back and say – for Jesus – I did everything I could.
Not because you had to, but because you wanted to…
Not because you were earning something, but because you were loving the one thing.
Do it, so that one day you see yourself:
Victorious, dressed in white (Rev. 3:5)
Acknowledged, not blotted out, before Father God and his angels. (Rev. 3:6)
Seated with Jesus, just as Jesus is seated with the Father (Rev. 3:21)
How do you practically live like this? What does this mean for you and me?
It means we hear beyond the sound and the thrills and the notifications of this world. It means we have ears to hear (Rev. 3:6) what God most desires. It means we focus on the limited running of time, the blip that is our life, to see the ongoing riches of the cross.
We stay eternally minded, and remember, we are earthly endangered.
He is “coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” (Rev. 3:11) What we have is eternity.
The victorious become part of the temple of God (Rev. 3:12). Will that be you? Will that be me?
I don’t want to be so lost in this world, that I lose the greater vision of God that will endure forever. I don’t want to bow down to stress and anxiety only to stand up and realize that I missed greatness, glory and holy. I don’t want to get it all here, and miss it all there.
Do you know what I mean?
There is no hidden agenda or secret formula. The path is clear. Here’s what it looks like to be a type that can look back and say, “I did everything I could”:
1. Wake up! (Rev. 3:2)
2. “Strengthen what remains and is about to die” – leave no good deed unfinished. (Rev. 3:2)
3. Remember what you have received and heard; hold it fast. (Rev. 3:3)
4. Turn yourself back to face Christ. (Rev. 3:3)
5. Be ready. I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (Rev. 3:3)
He is coming not to hurt us, but to love us.
Not to tear apart believers, but to keep them.
He encourages our heart (Jo. 16:33) with the force of heaven.
The Spirit pleads (Ro. 8:26) for our win and Jesus does as well (1 Jo. 2:1).
Don’t give up.
Don’t lose hope.
It is a race.
We are winning.
God is for us.
He is helping
We are not alone.
He will lift us when we fall low.
He will guide us when we don’t know where to go.
So, put a stake in the ground and declare, “Jesus, again, I hand it all to you. I am all in.”
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Occasionally, you know you met someone with a heart of gold – this is how I feel about Gwen Smith. Her all-in pursuit of Jesus, her authentic spirit and her ability to instantly connect, as both a teacher and a girlfriend, is a gift that is so unique to her. I have gotten a chance to deep dive into her new book, “I Want It All” and her words have helped me grab hold of the fullness of God’s extraordinary that he has uniquely carved out for me. Thanks Gwen.
I am delighted to welcome Gwen Smith to Purposeful Faith. I hope you will too.
The book of Esther shows us what our lives can look like when we trust in the sovereignty of God and expect Him to be powerful in the midst of desperate circumstances that could cause us to cower in fear. God positioned this young Hebrew girl to be queen of Persia so that she could rise up in His strength and courage when her people, the Jews, faced imminent death. She fasted and humbled herself before the Lord through prayer. And though it was risky to the point of death, she went to the king and courageously spoke up on behalf of the Jews. The result? God used Esther to save her people from genocide.
I want to be brave like that. I want to live with so much God courage that I don’t go soft when life gets hard. So I take note of what Esther did. She didn’t cave in to fear; instead, she fixed her focus on God and His power to save her and His people. She fasted and prayed and asked for Him to intervene.
Like Queen Esther, we can live with great expectations of God because He loves to do amazing things through average people— people with worries and warts and weaknesses, like you and me. If we want it all, we need to be women who stand firm when our emotions threaten to overwhelm us and courageously believe God for big things.
So… how CAN we stand firm in faith like Esther
did when our knees knock?
The first step to standing firm in faith is to know Him.
Generally speaking, I don’t trust someone I don’t know. Plain and simple. I’m guessing you don’t either.
God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah about the importance of our knowing Him:
Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he under- stands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jer. 9:23–24 ESV)
The apostle Peter also wrote about the importance of knowing God. At the beginning of his first letter, he stated that the grace, peace, and power we need are connected to our knowledge of Christ:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Pet. 1:2–3)
How can you know God? Read your Bible, study His character, and remember the ways He has delivered in the past. Such things are Faith 101. When you are overwhelmed by life, don’t shy away from God. Don’t isolate: investigate. Look to Him. Explore His goodness.
I learned recently about the familiar “trust God” verses in Proverbs 3. You know them. “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” (vv. 5–6 ESV).
The second part never made sense to me. I wondered, Why would my acknowledging God motivate Him to make my paths straight? In the New Testament, even the demons acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God, so why would my acknowledging Him make my paths straight?
I looked up the root word and found a gold mine. The Hebrew word for “acknowledge” is yada’,1 the primitive root of which means “to know.” It means “to understand, to grasp or ascertain; especially to be familiar or acquainted with.” So, “in all of your ways acknowledge him” really means this: in all of your ways yada’ Him; in all of your ways know Him and seek to understand Him; be familiar with Him; be acquainted with Him, and He will make your paths straight.
The key to a straight path, the key to trusting God when doubt shoves me off balance is way less about my circumstances and way more about my God.
When we’re intimately familiar with God, when we don’t just know about Him but really know Him, the most crooked roads we travel are made straight. Not because life is easy. Sifting through emotions like anger, depression, hopelessness, insecurity, and so on is hard stuff! But because when we know God, we know all of this as well:
His STRENGTH that is accessible in our weakness
His COMFORT that meets us as we mourn
His MERCY that withholds the punishment our depravity readily deserves
His PEACE that defies our unrest
His JOY that kisses the cheeks of our sorrow
His COURAGE that makes our weary hearts brave and casts away fears
His REDEMPTION that reworks our brokenness into beauty
His LOVE that binds us to eternity and delights over us with singing
Even when the one-two punches come and feelings are frazzled, I can confidently trust God by faith. Not because I understand all the circumstances, or even like them, but because I know Him. And because I know Him, I can trust that He will provide all I need to process pains, heal from wounds, and move forward in strength, grace, and peace.
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Smith is quick to say that she is not saying more is better. More may include setbacks, more may include being misunderstood and discouraged, and more may include suffering. But more also means knowing God more deeply, even in the midst of pain. The deepest question behind this search for more from God is this: Do I trust Jesus? Smith helps readers explore this question in light of disappointment and unmet expectations in life.
Gwen Smith is an author and volleyball enthusiast who lives in sunny North Carolina and has been married to her college honey, Brad, for 23 years. They are tired parents to three tall, competitive-sport-playing teens who keep them on their toes and on their knees. Her online friends meet at GwenSmith.net to connect and be encouraged, and her goal is to help women think big thoughts about God and be inspired to live out the grace and truth of Jesus. Gwen’s new book, I Want It All, (David C. Cook) released on March 1, 2016. She speaks, leads worship, and eats potato chips at women’s events everywhere, and she is a cofounder of the conference and devotional ministry Girlfriends in God.
CHANCE TO WIN: Bloggers & readers, Gwen will be selecting one of you at random to win her books and music. Support Gwen today:
Lord, I don’t want to go through life thinking wrongs are normal.
I don’t want to go about striving, thinking that I am thriving.
I don’t want to do anything, thinking you won’t help me.
I don’t want to waste my life, thinking that you’re average.
I don’t want to take my hurts and brush them under the carpet.
When we let the piles of wrong build up inside,
they end up cover our eyes,
and blind us from the most majestic view – of you.
We follow a shadow of darkness and box God’s power to a limited distance.
No more God! I want to hear your voice.
No more going through motions! I want to see your face.
No more trying to do better! I want to hand everything over to you.
So here it goes:
Lord, I am sorry. I am sorry I pursue self over selfless. I am sorry that so often I make my needs King. I am sorry that I try to Lord over people. I am sorry that I don’t trust you in the gap of the unknown. I am sorry that I miss so many pre-set opportunities for faith, because I allow myself to sit in the agonies of fear. I am sorry that my pride makes me think I need to pry doors open. I am sorry that I listen to the voice of victimhood instead of your voice, the sound of eternal victory.
I am sorry that rather than living by your very Word, I have been living by rushed standards of this world. I am sorry that my mind is quick to dwell on nothingness rather than the vastness of you. I am sorry that I first see how you won’t be there for me, rather than how you will. I am sorry that I determine where I should be, rather than just being in you. I am sorry that I forget to thank you for all your little and unseen protections. I am sorry for how I have believed you won’t come through, when you promise you will.
Will you forgive me? For I want all of you. I don’t want to settle for a half-way God, a marginal interpretation of your love, I want the full deal. I want the whole kit and caboodle. I ask you to restore trust and to rebuild my life in ways that are exceedingly abundantly greater than I could even ask think or imagine.
God, I know when all I need is you,
I get everything I really need (Ps. 37:4).
This is truth; you are all I need.
You are all the answers to my greatest questions.
You are the sustainer to my very breathe.
You are the pipeline to my wildest dreams.
You are the beginning of life change that doesn’t cease.
You won’t ever fall from high.
Your throne won’t ever break.
Your power won’t ever cease.
Your mercy won’t fail to work. Your grace can’t possibly give up.
You bring me high as I let you carry me.
You pursue my heart every waking hour.
You lead me to repentance so I can walk in complete assurance.
You give me power, even when I feel week. You strengthen me in the face of opposition.
There is not a day you are not for me.
There is not a week you aren’t working on my behalf.
There is not a month you will turn the other way when I mess up. And there is not a year that you will not delight over me with singing.
For you are love,
and your love is mine.
You are salvation,
and salvation is here, it waits for me – literally every hour, every milli-second even, of every day.
I want to turn into it,
I want to miss it no longer, for in many ways following Jesus, is about returning back, again and again.
It is a life dedicated to a grand return.
A return like hurt child runs to her daddy;
So I will run to your arms,
and you will lift me up,
and then I will know, there is nothing that can ever remove me from your love (Ro. 8:38).
I will know that you and me, we are once again united and such a bond like this – it can never be broken.
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Something inside me was brewing. I could hear the voices. I could sense the excitement. It was all around me. I wanted to jump in, I wanted to participate; but, all I could do was stand and stare. Like a frozen spectator, the reflection of the gym class mirror gripped me. Giggles. Smiles. Connections.
Loneliness. Wishes. Sadness.
The were living everything I wanted, the everything I was somehow was not a part of. I was the lone wolf.
I stood smack dab in the middle of the class, but knew I much more belonged on planet Jupiter.
Every inch of me felt vulnerable, “Will they notice that no one is talking with me?”
Every ounce felt embarrassed, “Why don’t I have a friend here too?” Every bit of me wondered, “Do I look okay?”
Everything in me, made me feel like I was reliving yesterday…
Playgrounds are places where kids play, except for when you are me. Then they are places where you sit out. They are places where you are left behind. They are places where you watch from the safety of a curb, from a position of arms crossed or from a nurses office for safe keeping, because what you know is: on these grounds everything you believe about yourself is being determined.
1. I must not be likable.
2. I have some weird gene that excludes me.
3. I think differently.
I reached out my hand to be friends with one of the girls. I tried; I tried so hard to extend myself beyond myself. I looked in her eyes – and she looked back too. There was hope!
Then, her friend walked by, reached out for her arm and said, “Don’t be friends with her.”
Said and done – from that point on everyone acted cold. Standing on that field, playing whatever sports game we where playing, a little piece of determination and a little piece of resolution was lost. I kicked softly and felt horribly. And walked home solemnly figuring there was something wrong with me.
I wonder if Jesus ever felt like me?
A moral, good and righteous odd-ball-out kind of kid?
Without sin, yet having to dwell in sin (Heb. 4:15)?
Immersed in a world of pain, when he was used to the wealth of paradise?
Hated by those he loved and shamed by those he came to save?
Might those he loved felt awkward and restrained near him in sight of his greatness, his perfection?
And what about when Jesus was about to head to the cross? No one could understand his grief. No one could fathom the far depths of his love. No one could walk in the shoes that would cleanse the whole world with righteousness. No one could understand what it feels like to be “forsaken” (Mt. 27:46).
Surely, I am not nearly like Jesus, but I think Jesus might have felt a little like me – alone. Not understood. Weary.
Pushing Into Jesus
When I step back from all this – to look at Jesus and myself, I start to see something emerge.
What strikes me is: How often am I like those who stood around Jesus – just a little scared of him?
How often do I believe Jesus looks at me and says, “Her, no…. you don’t want to be friends with her”
and then he grabs all his love and walks out the door?
When we feel like Jesus is ready to abandon us,
we become hyper-aware that the world will too.
Deflect his love and you will deflect all love. Intersect with Jesus’ love and you’ll be resurrected by it.
Do you ever feel unable to receive the fullness of God’s love?
5 Ways to Tell if You are a Love-Deflecter:
1. You feel guilty beyond guilty when you make a mistake. You can’t get over it.
2. You sometimes fall trapped to believing: God is too big and too mighty to hear your small prayers – or answer them.
3. When you close your eyes and imagine meeting Jesus in heaven, you see him squinty eyed as he greets you.
4. You figure a way out of trials, verses letting God’s love hold you through them.
5. The past makes you think he runs from your past too.
There is no ounce of shame, that disqualifies you from the power of his name.
There is no ounce of shame, that disqualifies me from the power of his name. Say it aloud if you need to.
Jesus knows our pain and loves us the same.
He felt pain and won the game.
He knows our cries – and cries with us.
He bring us to the sinking point of love,
found at the foot of the cross.
Where the past has bounds,
but the future is boundless,
where pain exists,
but where love swallows its power.
Where life is made new again,
and past handicaps become moot.
Where the compassion goes on and on and on, and where small kids are made whole again.
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You may remember the stories about it, but do you feel it?
Do you live in a way where love compels you?
Paul says it is one thing “to know”, it is another to experience.
And I pray that you…(may) grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:17-19)
Love surpasses knowledge. Imagine that.
Often I run after knowledge, as if it will bring me to where I need to go, but only love compels real progress.
Everything that is monumental in God’s Word boils down to love:
Jesus heals. Love.
Jesus dies. Love.
Jesus washes feet. Love.
Jesus teaches. Love.
Jesus guides. Love.
Eternity awaits. Love.
Jesus created experiences, so that people could experience. Do we?
Some days, I wake up with a task list, a group of verses I must get through, pages I must turn, knowledge to acquire, but, what I have noticed in doing this is, often, an internal pressure builds. It wars against peace, saying, “Kelly, increase”. Increase in being knowledgable. Increase in know-how. Increase in doing.
Yet, God is peace. He is the only thing that should increase- and his love found in the power of sitting, being and absorbing truth into the very molecules of my existence.
…That I “may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:19)
Word of caution: If you are trying, more than abiding, every time this is a red flag. You likely aren’t getting full of God – you’re probably getting full of yourself.
I see this in myself; when I end up trying to know, I end up failing to grow, but when I let God’s love flow, when I find a new glow.
It is in the seeing, feeling and being that God takes our hands, gently holds it and walks us up to internal healing.
Paul explains to the Ephesians the wealth they will receive from understanding rather than acquiring things of God.
Paul says to know God, rather than just knowing about him is to:
1. Be strengthened with his power (Eph. 3:16)
2. Dwell (or Exist) with Christ in faith (Eph. 3:17)
3. Move with the power to understand (Eph. 3:16)
4. Experience love (Eph. 3:18)
5. Bask in the depths of this love (Eph. 3:17)
6. Be full of life (Eph. 3:19)
Living like this means living no longer running on low, just trying to find new gas to feel good. It means walking into the immersive waters of grace and laying down, knowing that with God, he will protect, guard and keep your life stable in everything that is him.
God’s love is with you.
He is patient;
his leadings are kind.
Not so you can boast,
or find fame (1 Cor. 13:4-6).
He knows, this kind of love does not endure.
God is patient,
seeing past wrongs,
not envisioning anger
or keeping bad records (1 Cor. 13:4-6).
His love endures forever (1 Chron. 16:34).
God delights when you let truth takes root in your heart.
He rejoices over his love within.
For you rising up from it.
Persevering (1 Cor. 13:4-6).
So sink down to where love is risky and then just wade in the trust of #God.
Then you’ll start looking like him.
You know what matters most: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13)
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