Purposeful Faith

Tag - love

“When Faith Doesn’t Take the Pain Away”

POST BY: Kendra Broekhuis

It would have been our daughter’s third birthday. At least, in a perfect world where mothers don’t bury their babies, it would have been.

I laid in bed imagining what our baby might have been like as a three year old. A curly red head like her mom? A brown eyed brunette like her dad? A sassy pants like her older sister? On the third anniversary of her stillbirth, the only thing that streamed as heavily as my imagination were my tears.

Sometimes I think it’s a miracle my faith has remained intact since this devastating loss. I chalk that up to a huge dose of mercy, really. My beliefs about Jesus are no longer phrases I learned to regurgitate in Sunday School, rather truths that anchor my soul:

He is victorious over death. {John 11:25}

He is working all things for my good. {Romans 8:28}

He is close to the brokenhearted. {Psalm 34:18}

But even though faith stuck around, that hasn’t stopped grief from practically bulldozing me over sometimes – like the day our daughter would have turned three. And on those days I learned that the presence of pain doesn’t mean there is an absence of faith.

Our pain simply reminds us that not all is right with the world, that we aren’t dwelling in the perfect garden paradise God first created us to. And therefore, our faith and our pain are forced to coexist. Nancy Guthrie describes this coexistence well:

The day after we buried {our daughter}, my husband said to me, “You know, I think we expected our faith to make this hurt less, but it doesn’t. Our faith gave us an incredible amount of strength and encouragement while we had Hope, and we are comforted by the knowledge that she is in heaven. Our faith keeps us from being swallowed by despair. But I don’t think it makes our loss hurt any less.” {Guthrie, Holding On To Hope}

Before Jesus returns, there will always be tension between our hope in heaven and our current reality living in a broken world. It’s not a matter of either/or, but and. We can have faith in a sovereign, victorious God and admit to Him the heavy pain we are bearing. We will face trials and God will strengthen us through those trials. We will walk through valleys and He will ultimately rescue us. We will grieve and one day He will wipe away all of our tears.

So whatever trials, valleys, or grief you are facing today, let God’s promises both anchor your soul and remind you that He is near, carrying you and tending to your broken heart.

Pray that even when faith doesn’t take the pain away, hope will remain steadfast too.

 

Prayer:

Lord, I pray that in Your great mercy You will strengthen the faith of Your people. Remind Your children in mighty ways that Your promises are true, even when life’s circumstances can take remarkably painful and unexpected turns. And show us through Your miraculous provision that You are mending our broken hearts. Amen.

 

Bio:

Kendra is the author of Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert’s Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. The book highlights her 30 Day journey to recognize the Lord’s “I love you’s” in her daily life, as well as her somewhat awkward attempts to be the Lord’s “I love you’s” to her neighbors. For her day job, Kendra stays home with two of their children, Jocelyn and Levi. She and her family live in Milwaukee. Kendra’s love language is Dove chocolate.

 

Amazon Link:

https://www.amazon.com/Here-Goes-Nothing-Introverts-Reckless/dp/0718083261/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Website:

www.kendrabroekhuis.com

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/kendrabroekhuisauthor/

Instagram:

@kendrabroekhuis

I’ve Got to Do Better than Her

She is going to make me look like a fool. It’s me against her. I have to come out on top.

Deep in me, there lives a competitive beast. One that promotes selfish ambition and untoward conduct. One that looks at other gals and compares them to me.

The beast says:

I need to be super impactful, smart and powerful. Or, I’m disposable.
I can’t let others get ahead of me. No one will pay attention to me anymore.
I should desperately fear being left behind. I’ll be useless without impact.

Competitiveness is a horrible beast to be chained to. It demands we control the uncontrollable. It sets us up to fail.

Does jealousy, fear, selfish ambition or a competitive nature threaten you, like me?

Lately, I’ve become so sick and tired of it’s bullying tactics. I’ve decided – through a deep investigation of scripture – to fight back.

Here’s how:

1. I humble myself under the mighty hand of God, knowing at the proper time (and in God’s proper way), He’ll exalt me.

2. I remember Christ rules over everything. He has all authority and every victory belongs to the Lord. If it is my victory, it is an empty one. But if it is God’s, it is fruitful.

3. I ponder the idea that by my strength, I get tired. But by His, I become empowered.

4. I bless those who hurt me, persecute me, laugh at me, talk behind my back and injure me. Why? Because God loves His creation. He is working on them. He is doing something. I don’t need to get my sticky fingers into His artwork. I can trust the masterpiece He is creating without trying to let my bitterness or irritation take control.

5. I wait on God knowing that, nearly half the time, it is by doing nothing I find He’s doing everything. Likewise, I step out when He says it’s go time, no matter how prideful, arrogant or self-serving it may seem to the world. Ultimately, I don’t serve others opinions of me, but Christ’s lordship. I follow it, stay close to it and trust it, no matter how it looks.

The beast dies when we die to our flesh and come alive to Christ. It can’t live when we stay surrendered and in-step with the Spirit. It has no rule when Christ rules. Period. And Amen.

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Let’s Count the Ways: God Watches You

“Are you watching me?”

My 6-year-old son puts on shows. Willy Wonka, Moses in the wilderness, Box Car Children- you name it, and he acts it out. And he always asks this question.

“Are you watching me?”

Half the time, I’m not. I mean to be, but I’m also human. I’m trying to tackle things like bills, emails, text messages, phone calls, dishes, laundry, dinner…you get the point.

The fact of the matter is, our parents didn’t watch us non-stop either. I know there were times I put on shows and my mom or dad didn’t watch. It’s not because they didn’t want to, but because they were human.

But you know what? God is not human and He is watching. This fills the desires of all our hearts. The desire that says, “Someone, please, be watching me. Watch out for me. Watch me and know my ways. Watch me and protect me. Watch me and help me.”

God watches, carefully.

God is always with us.

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Ps. 139:7-8

God’s watched our days before they’ve even happened.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.” Ps. 139:16

God’s intimate thoughts about us don’t stop.

“How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.” Ps. 139: 17-18

God is aware of our most intricate workings, habits and ponderings.

“You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.” Ps. 139: 3-4

He watches you to protect you.
“You hem me in behind and before.” Ps. 139: 5

God watches it all. Every song, dance, move, time you sit down, stand up, and twirl around. You are precious in His sight.

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What if Jesus Drove Your Life?

Him: “Mom, I want to ride my bike with you on a major highway.”
Me: “Hmm… No.”
Him: “Mom, I want to ride my bike to a far-off neighborhood I’ve never been to before. I want to go far and get somewhere.”
Me: “You know, son? I care far less about our destination and far more about just being with you.”

As soon as I said it, the words hit me like self-reversing bullets at brute force speed. God cares far less about my destination than He does about just being with me.

I say: “God, I want to do things for you.”
He says: “Come and sit at my feet. Be not worried about many things.”
I say: “God, I want to do things for you.”
He says: “It appears being first is the right way, but sit with me and you’ll find being last is your true joy.”
I say: “God, I don’t know if I’m doing enough for you.”
He says: “People look at the outward appearance, but (I) look at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)

In all my going, am I missing the fullness of God? In pushing fast, am I really pushing God away?

God is the driver; I am the passenger. God knows where I’m going; I stay near to Him. God has the heavenly GPS; I pay attention to where He wants me to go.

Can a passenger ever go anywhere if she isn’t seated next to the driver? If she’s off in her own land, trying to drive her own pretend car to her own Never Neverland…can she ever arrive?

Surrender is to allow God to be the driver. It means you become a sitter at the feet of Jesus. It means allowing your heart to become in awe of Him and His every word. It is to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, knowing at the proper time: He’ll do the exalting. (1 Pet. 5:6) It is peace. It is joy. It is our portion. It is our calling. It is our ultimate destination.

Why? Because the destination that is Jesus always leads to a destination of vision. We find out who we are in the boundless nature of His love. Here, He reveals the “go” we always wanted to find.

Another note: My new book Battle Ready: Train your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt and Live Victoriously is available for Pre-order. This summer, I want you to read the book with me. We’ll be going through the book (200 people get a copy) in my private launch team group. I’ll also be providing free support materials, printables, scriptures, prayer time together and fun stuff from me. If you want to learn to abandon discouragement, doubt, and disappointment, come join me on the launch team. Just pre-order a book on Amazon, then sign up here.

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Where Did God Go?

I believe some of you counted yourself not valuable or unable to make a difference. It’s not true. This is why I want to invite you, again, to join my launch team.

Friends, every bit helps – how you share Battle Ready with a friend in need, or do a post on Facebook, or encourage me along the way, or share it in your small group, or bring unique excitement to the team. Don’t discount yourself.  You all mean something to me; I want you to be a part of the launch team.  I want you to do this with me. Big or small, whether you feel important or meaningless, join me as we gain new confidence, seize new thoughts and spread Jesus’ liberating truth far and wide.  Pre-order a book on Amazon, then join the team here (and get a ton of video devotionals, scriptures, accountability, team support, prayer with me and little gifts from me: www.iambattleready.com/launch 

I love you all. Now here is the post:

Consider a random picture frame in your house. See it? When you wake up the next morning, do you know where it is? Are you confident it is there? Think of another one. When you walk into that room, are you sure you will see it?

What about the frame of your bed? How sure are you that when you return to your room, you’ll find it? Pretty confident, right?

The permanence of these objects is obvious. Yet, why doesn’t it feel this way with God?

It’s like God’s with us one moment and gone the next. We’re full of God one night, but down the next day. Trusting fully, then stuck in swirling ruminations the next hour.

We go from God with us to God is gone. God is here to God, are you really here?

Why does eternal God seem less real than the passing world around us?

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:8

Because there’s a re-framer in our house.

The enemy constantly attempts to steal our view and reframe it with his. He takes our pictures of God’s nearness, assaults them with doubt and tries to move them out of our line of sight.  We say, “God’s good and gone.”

Same tricks. Different day.

Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Gen. 3:1

Suddenly, Adam and Eve bit the fruit and were standing stark naked, ashamed in front of a far-off God.

What has the enemy reframed in your life? What has he subtly led you away from? What has he put between you and the God of closeness and fullness?

Remove it. Remove it fast and get with God. Do this repeatedly. All the time. God IS with you. He is. He will never leave your side.

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God Fights Our Battles

My son is at a new school.
He’s still getting used to making friends.
He’s not on the basketball court during recess.
He’s a little shy.
He’s pretty small for his age.
I’m quite sure he’s desperately wanting to be liked, approved and wanted.

We all are.

At his school relay race I hoisted him on my back. As I did, the little guy bent down towards my ear and said, “Mommy, run as hard as you can.” Something took over me. I was going to do this run for him. I’d carry him so well, so proud, so fast – he could finally have a moment to feel proud.

And I did just that. At “Go!” I exploded. Fast. Focused. Almost wild-like.

A mom told me, “Kelly, you ran so fast. I was a little worried, but you made it.”

The reality is: I wanted to redeem my son’s story. I wanted to give him a moment to be proud of. I wanted him to understand his mommy would always carry him.

God does the same for us.

We aren’t struggling alone. We aren’t stuck in some environment where no one sees us.

“When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.” Ps. 138:3 NIV

Almighty God has a mighty eye on us.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Ps. 32:8

All-knowing God understands what we’re going through.

“This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chron. 20:15 NIV

All-powerful God is working on our behalf even when we don’t think he is.

“Do not be afraid of them; the LORD your God himself will fight for you.” Deut. 3:22 NIV

All-loving God would do anything to see our breakthrough.

“Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.” Ps. 144:1 NIV

Already-two-steps-ahead Father has a good plan in motion.

“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.” Is. 45:2 NIV

Altruistic Daddy would carry us, knight-in-shining-armor style out of any predicament.

“‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Zech. 4:6 NIV

Always, we are not alone, not left behind, not destroyed, not ruined, not the laughing stock, not forgotten, not ignored, not destroyed, not crushed, not left to rot. Always, we are helped, loved, carried and guided.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 15:57 NIV

Oh yes. I thank God for this today. What about you?

 

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How to Love Like Jesus

Once inside the trolley, I realized it was not a tourist ride. It was a public transportation trip through the inner ghettos.  As people poured in, I noticed them. I noticed the torn up pants. The week-old dirt. I noticed the tattoos. The Narcotics Anonymous recovery backpacks. I noticed the teeth grill of gold and the huge smile at me. The family community feel. The waves hello. The guy exiting the bus saying, “Be blessed you all! Keep faith today.”

I also noticed I had love. For them. I could see the reality of their life. Instead of being stuck in my own world, avoiding others’ hardships, I was struck face-to-face with people’s real pain, history, tears, hopes, dreams and difficulties of escaping poverty.

How was I ever so oblivious? Oblivious not only to poverty, but to emotional hardships, to anger, to marital issues, to health concerns, to people needing help…to loving ones who feel like lesser people because no one sees them?

Jesus saw the lesser man and raised him up to be a greater man. May I do the same.

To see the reality of mankind, we must enter into their reality. We must confront what we avoid confronting. It’s the only way.

So, I’ve asked God, what does it look to really love?

To love we:
– Seek to understand the reality of the hardship
– Allow ourselves to feel their feelings for a moment
– Remember how we ourselves felt those painful feelings at one time or another
– Pray for understanding on how to fill gaps of pain
– Let God do the saving
– Submit to His leading
– Fill the gap by seeing through His small call to step out

No person is too far gone. No pain is too far beyond God’s ability. No soul is one He doesn’t care for. No child is left behind.

What would it look like for you to begin seeing what you avoid seeing, feeling, or relating to? What does it look like for you to step out of the world you live in and into the one you’re cynical of, apathetic to and uninvolved in?

That’s what Jesus did. He went to the Samarians. He touched the plagued. He loved the untouchables.

Jesus never permitted cynicism to rule,

even though He most certainly could have.

Jesus knew it is love heals;
Love is the complete fulfillment of all He came for.

And as Jesus puts it:
Love is our one cause and our only cause.
May we never forgo love.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Pet. 4:8

Love goes. Heals. Speaks. Breaks divides. Understands. Sacrifices time and treasure. Calls people somewhere new. Lays down old stereotypes. Leans not on its own understanding or inclinations. Cares not if people see it work. Is governed by a mind of the Spirit. Brings life. Always. Continually. Eternally.

What would it look like for you to step out in love today? Ask God. Write it your answer here: ___________

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What Surrender Looks Like

What does surrender look like?

On a steamy track, the coach ran after my heels screaming with her timer, “Go, go, go!”  No one talked. It didn’t matter how we felt. Sprints gave way to more sprints. Tiredness ended up sprinting. So did exhaustion. Near-death feelings were supposed to somehow push us harder.

With that little glint of belief in her eye, the coach non-verbally pressured us that there was “more in us”. So we somehow found it and kept going.

During tryouts the coaches hovered over me, trying to figure out where I fit in on the track field. Would I be a long distance runner? A shot-putter? A sprinter? A hurdle-runner?

As she assigned everyone to his or her spot, I imagined all the potential of one person: me. I imagined myself running fast and with intensity along with all these other pre-Olympian superstars. But when she looked at me with beads of sweat on her face and in her hair, she said, “You’re my race-walker.”

Your what?

Your walker?

The loser. The one who looks all weird with her hips swaggering from side to side? 

I wanted to quit. While everyone else was something, I was nothing. The embarrassment.

Have you ever felt like the things you dream of are blocked? Like you can’t access what you’re supposed to be?

That day, I stood on that field shell-shocked. Then, I started walking. I walked so hard and fast, a year or so later, I made it to the Junior Olympics and got a bronze medal. Oddly, this moment is one of the greatest joys and the greatest gifts of my life. That track team had heart and taught me heart. I learned it is not what you think you should do that matters, but what God has for you that fills your heart.

What if what you’re made for looks different than you think? Will you accept His best in belief that it will one day become yours?

This is surrender.

 

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Undoing The Need to Be Perfect

What do you when you find your 6-year-old son’s drawing of a long-haired woman with a mean, massive frown?

You consider it’s you, of course. You consider you’re a cruddy boar, a horrible attempt at a caring, loving, and generous momma. And you wonder if underneath his smiles and bedtime hugs he might hate you.

Could this be possible?

You think of all the times he’s repeated, “Mommy, didn’t I tell you that already,” “You don’t listen,” and “You don’t cuddle with me.”

You recount that you do indeed cuddle, but you also think of how at the end of your day you’re very tired and this cheek-to-cheek (or as he does, it cheekbone on top of cheekbone) business can’t go on forever.

But still, the thought persists like a gnat.

What if, you’re not good enoughAnd worst of all, what if he’s busted you for it? 

Ever felt this way?

…Like no matter what you say to your spouse, he’s really thinking you don’t match up to the wife he wanted?

…Like no matter how hard you try at work, your boss still isn’t happy?

…Like despite your encouraging words to the woman, she still is cold with you?

…Like you can’t escape being the little girl who let people down?

…Like no matter how hard you try, you can’t win?

Of course, I understand. But what I also understand is this: The goal to perfectly “win” all the time is a warped one. It’s not only warped, but impossible. It’s like keeping a sparkly, gold trophy shiny. The second you clean it, fingerprints arrive again and you’re back wiping again. The only problem is that you can never step back and enjoy the prize, because all you’re doing is keeping up facades. Every flaw sucks you into yourself, and you miss the whole point.

I’ve been there. I am there.

Yet, I suppose I see a little better after writing all this: I can’t love my son when I’m fearing him. Nor can I enjoy him when I’m critiquing myself. Nor can I connect well with him when I’m not setting boundaries.

In the space of accepting my imperfections, he’ll learn to accept his own. In the space of seeing me growing with Christ, he’ll discover how he can grow with Christ. There’s some sort of non-speaking, God-testifying wisdom that will speak here.

What about you? What over-emphasized flaws have stolen the feelings of joy in your moments? What grace have you not afforded yourself? What over-trying attitude is stealing your peace? What new approach could you take to conquer these annoying feeling of self-doubt?

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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.

 

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