My tracks tend to be on auto-pilot. What about yours? Routinely, I’m interested in what I need to get done, who needs help around me, and what tasks need to be accomplished for the family and God. The order of our day does matter. Our priorities reflect what we believe about our identity.
Let me explain…
A religious man said to Jesus, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” (Lu. 18:21)
Essentially he said, “I’ve done what mattered, I’ve obeyed you, I am good.”
His identity was: A Rule-Follower.
Jesus replied, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Lu. 18:22).
Essentially Jesus said, “Your treasure is not what you’ve done, but is found by continually following me. In me, is your identity.”
In Christ we are:
Children of God.
Yet, as we let other treasures cloud the treasure found in following Jesus, we start to believe we: must work hard to be loved, follow every rule, do more to achieve eternal glory, look good to man, and get everything done in our day to be successful.
Where is your treasure? Is it in following and staying close to Jesus? Or is it in doing stuff, accomplishing more, and keeping up with the world in order to stay protected and safe?
What is the one thing that tends to distract you from following Him?
The best lovers of Jesus are the best releasers of what they hold tight to. The more they let go and cling to the robe of Jesus, the more they find their world healed by His love. They follow Him at all costs. They find treasure.
Jesus says to you today, “Leave that one thing behind and come. Follow me.”
“Mommy, I can’t race. She’s ahead of me on the track,” my son said.
I looked left and right, but in neither direction could I spot her. I knew she was halfway looped around the track, on the other side of the building.
My son couldn’t see her either. There was nothing blocking him from charting his own path: she was enough ahead so that he wouldn’t see her and he could enjoy the ride at his own pace. And this thing wasn’t even a race.
Why was he so concerned with her? Why am I so concerned with them?
These are legitimate questions. Why am I so concerned with the track of others when God has me on my own path? Why do I look to let other people’s courses direct mine?
I told my son it is all about perspective. He could look at his journey around the loop as:
1.) Being behind his sister 2.) Being in front of his sister 3.) Being on his own unique track with God.
When we fail to stay on our track with God, we tend to decide we are either ahead or behind. This is where pain settles in. “Ahead” tends to lead to performance anxiety, arrogance or heavy burdens, while “behind” feels like disappointment, dejection and demotivation.
Which track do you tend to be on?
The best track is: with God. God has a journey marked out for each of us. It doesn’t matter if someone is a few miles ahead, tracking their own way. You track yours. I track mine. We each want to keep space (by grace) to see what God is doing as we travel our road. Looking at others takes our eyes off God’s next best thing He is about to do.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” Heb. 12:1
Prayer: God, I want to be on your road. I want to race with you. Let me not look left and right, but keep my eyes on You. Fill me with peace and an immense joy as I go. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
There is this real pressure to look right before man.
TV constantly implies, “Don’t be one of them.”
Clothing stores convey, “You better look as good as the music we’re playing.”
Past encounters remind us, “Be likable, or people will reject or leave you.”
Because of this, it is easy to find an identity, tweak it, and fit it to man.
Ever done that? Molded, morphed or changed color to look like others? To fit in? To be liked? Loved? Accepted? To not be seen as off?
If you’re human, the answer likely is yes.
We like to look like everyone else, so as to not stand out. To not be set apart. To be one of the many. To not feel like we are “too much” or “not enough.” Keeping ourselves from being “set apart” makes us feel safe. It prevents us from being that one… the weirdo!
Yet Jesus tells us, being set apart is this: Holy.
“We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all.” Heb. 10:10-12
Why do we fight it? Why do we fight the idea that Jesus picked us up and set us apart? Why do we fight his identity that provides the only identity we’ll ever feel good about: Chosen and set aside for his purposes. Why do we fight him, in us? Everyday, he’s our only saving chance.
As daughters, our identity is Jesus. He will never be loved by the world. But he will always be set apart as the victorious, high and mighty King of Kings. Why would we ever want to settle for the world’s second best when we have the kingdom’s first and only?
What God-given qualities have you stifled because of your fear of man? How have you held back who God created you to be? Where may God be calling you to step up and step out into his purposes, right now? Even if you are set apart?
My son can’t keep his eyes on me when I talk to him. Granted, he is only six, but his small eyes wander left and right when I’m giving instruction. It drives me nuts.
“Hey boy, Mama is over here, not under the table…”
I hate it the most during those lean-in kind of conversations, the ones where I really need him to pay attention because I have something important to say. When his head starts spanning the ceiling, I just know he isn’t listening. I’ve lost him somewhere. It is usually hard to bring him back and get him to hear me.
Like my son, we can’t easily hear God when our eyes are off him. We can’t easily follow what He is doing when we look left and right and all around.
We miss His directions. God may be standing in the center of our intersection called “life,” waving his arms, trying to tell us where to go. But if we have our head turned in other directions, thinking about random thoughts, annoyances, pestering people and pain-soaked problems, we won’t see what he is doing or saying to lead us.
So how do we keep our eyes on God so we can follow him? How do we focus our attention on his Word, on prayers and on his beauty so we find ourselves full of his joy?
I’ve mulled over this question long and hard, day after day, week after week and the more I consider it, the more I am finding these steps keep intimacy in this crazy world.
5 Ways to Keep Focus on God:
Give yourself allowance. You have a human mind that does human things. It gets distracted. It wonders about random people. It notices ancillary objects. It tallies up its list of to-dos.Don’t hate yourself for getting off track. Just choose to get back on.
Go back to where you last were with God. Example: If you are reading the bible and you find your mind has gone off another trail, return it back to where you last were.Pick up on the last place you remember being with God.
Swap what you listen to. I watched a Nazi film last night. I couldn’t think about God, nonetheless sleep. But on the nights I pray before bed, I go to bed thinking, dwelling and at peace with God.Sometimes you have to swap what you watch or partake in.
Ask for God’s help to stay awake to him.Then, act like it’s Christmas. Know that today, God has something good for you and you don’t want to miss it.
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jer. 33:3
5. Shut it all down. Literally.Shut down your phone, computer and your active-lifestyle. Pick a certain amount of time and call it off limits. Let no one, no how, no way encroach on that time with God. Then, during this time, refer to items 1-4 above.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Is. 26:3)
The more you practice these things, the more these things will seamlessly and effortlessly become part of your life. They’ll soak into your thinking, living and doing. . . and before you know it, you’ll find yourself walking with God far more often than you’re not.
So, I know you all know I wrote the book, Fear Fighting. I also know you know if there is anyone who should be fearless – it’s me. But, guess what? I admit it. I am not.
After a recent stressful situation, I was told by a family member, “You need to work on your anxiety issue.” This gave me anxiety.
Before she made this comment, I was leaps and bounds more anxiety-free than ever before. In fact, I considered what God did a miracle. But right after she said this, it felt like someone dropped a 50-pound brick off the Empire State building and it landed on my chest. The burn started up…
For days, I lost any sense of inner comfort and felt a new overwhelming sense of pounding nervousness.
Oh, how I wanted to blame her.
But I didn’t…well, I kind of did.
Man, what I’d worked through, she put back on me.
For days, I worked to work it away. For days, I pressed to bring back God’s peace. For days, I struggled and fought to pretend it wasn’t there. For days, I felt acted upon and angered by it all.
On the 5th day, I said to myself, “Of course, Kelly, you have anxiety. You’ve been through a hard time. You had a big family issue. You had some sin issues within yourself to contend with. You’re taking on a huge project right now, as you write a new book. And, you are also moving in a few days to a new area. It’s like the world is on your shoulders. Make room for this emotion to live, to breathe before God and be patient. God will work there, in the space where self-hatred is absent.”
I realized I could stop “performing peace” and let “Peace” come. And this is what happened. With less attention on performance and a clear focus on God’s love, it faded.
Jesus took it. He took it as I focused on Him – not on it. He took it as I remembered his all-sufficiency. He took it as I made room for rest. He took it as I let go of any anger I once had at that family member. He took it as I found myself free to not fix myself. He took it.
Thank you, God. Please keep it.
What might Jesus want to take from you through peaceful waiting? Where you are absent of self-hatred, remorse and condemnation? Where you don’t demand yourself to improve but wait on God?
If some of you are being tossed around like bacon on a camp fire, in a way where parts of you are burning off…
…can I tell you something? I relate?
I know what it is to go through a time of wait, where all you need is answers.
I know what it is to struggle with relationships at a high-tension point.
I know what it is to see truths about yourself that hurt.
I know what it is to wonder if everything will work out.
I know what it is to feel like it never is going to end.
I’ve experienced this time and time again, in different ways: a near-diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, financial debt, emotional issues, and endless trials. Tribulation keeps happening.
What fire are you enduring? What do you feel like you are losing?
“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Pet. 1:7)
May I encourage you today? The fire you’re enduring is removing you and increasing God’s glory within you.
Through my Multiple Sclerosis issues, where my hands got numb and my eyes couldn’t see, I learned: Heaven is all that matters on earth and I have that WRAPPED UP!
Through my financial debt, when I had a double-digit-in-the-thousands negative balance, I learned for the future: It is good to have less stuff, it ties you down to debt less and frees you to move according to God’s will more.
Through my emotional issues, when I suffered with depression, I learned: God really does love me just the way I am. In this, I am free to trust him with the change he is leading me to. It will be good for me.
Through my endless trials, I learned: God, less of me and more of you.
Fire removes the impurities of our flesh and leaves us with the Spirit of God. Every time. It leaves the blaze on us. It ignites us with passion. It refuels us with glory.
Be encouraged: What you are enduring today will not kill you, it will make you, when all is said and done, more radiant, beautiful and sure in Christ Jesus.
My 3-year old daughter and I were playing a game. She was behind a box “counter”, I stood in front of it: ordering. I was supposed to buy some food, because, this was a restaurant.
I told her I wanted a salad and ice-cream. Trying to be good, but wanting to indulge, this was my kind of order. Add a chocolate dip to the ice cream and this is what summers are made of. I digress…
Anyway, daughter fixed up my food, looked me in the eye, while handing over my imaginary goodies, and declared “Now, you get what you get and you don’t get upset.”
My jaw dropped. She nailed it.
So many of us internally chide our self with this same kind of diatribe, as if God says this to us. As if this is how we are supposed to cope with life. As if, we are meant to get a crumb and tell our stomach to feel okay with it. Now don’t get upset!!!
Surely, I know this verse: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Phil. 4:12)
Yet, somehow I think we’ve got it all wrong. God never told us to lie.
Yet, we’re convinced we must show the world we are strong, we tell our self, “We get what we get and we don’t get upset.”
Outside we look like a gracious kid at a candy shop, while inside we are throwing a fit like an irate toddler because we’re unseen by the world, unrecognized for who we are and uncared for.
I notice Paul, in the verse above, mentions the words, “I have learned. . .” Why are we ashamed of learning? Of journeying? Of admitting we feel the struggle?
So often, we already can sense when this is the case with someone. Why do we hide so?
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18).
Today, consider this: In the light of God’s glory, there is no shame in transforming.
The waitress was nowhere to be seen, my glass was empty, my food was late and my patience was running thin. Where is she?
I bet she is on a smoke-break. She’s probably sitting outside the kitchen, leaning up against a brick wall, scrolling Facebook. Of course, something probably caught her eye – maybe an old friend? A boyfriend? And then, she started to see who he is friends with and what he’s doing. Then she gets intrigued with the latest place he took a vacation and she starts to look up the hotel…and then…
She better get out here, I’m starving, plus the kids are about 10-seconds away from losing it and I am entirely losing my patience.
A woman walks towards me, clearly the manager, I look at her and say, “Excuse me, our waitress vanished and I have no idea where she went and we are starving, need water and are waiting to order. Did she forget about us.”
The manager replies, “This is why I was coming over, you see, she got really ill in the bathroom and is being rushed to the hospital.”
I guess this means she wasn’t smoking.
I guess this means she wasn’t scrolling.
I guess this means she wasn’t sucked up in some Carribean vacation.
And, as soon as I realize what I’ve done, I realize: The second I become judge is the second I pretend to be God.
It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how obvious my assumption appears. It doesn’t matter how blatant their disregard looks. It doesn’t matter how meanly they talk to me. It doesn’t matter what their track record is. It doesn’t matter if they look a certain way. It doesn’t matter if they started one way. It doesn’t matter if I feel hurt.
Unless I am them, I can’t judge them adequately. And, unless God gives me a day in their body, I can’t know their heart, their intentions or their struggle.
I have to let go. Not only for them, but for me. Because, otherwise, I’ll be walking around a hot shop of contempt. All that will fly is sparks of rage and malice at the proposed things people are doing and I’ll never live one happy day when I’m in their presence. It’s no way to live. It’s no way to look like Jesus.
I come to terms with not knowing your story or why you displayed rudeness.
I put on pause my impulsive emotions.
I decide to think positive about you.
I remember all that could be going wrong in your life.
I consider how the past has burnt you.
I resolve to let you know I’m here for you.
I turn away from the longing to harbor bad feelings towards you.
I give you the freedom to apologize when it’s right for you – or to never apologize at all.
I wait on God.
I trust he will fight for me while I am silent.
I believe he cares.
I know, we all hit hard days and hard days that make us respond with hard edges. I remember the days when I responded not so nice, or out of fear, or in a need to preserve myself…and I treat the offender like I would have wanted to be treated, maybe better.
I don’t do this now. But I want to. And, in this, I know God will help me see it through, so I can be kind to you when you’re confronting the very worst.
I wasn’t sure what happened. One day we were the best of friends and the next… I don’t know, there was this immeasurable distance between us.
For two years my friend and I were inseparable. Our kids played together, we vacationed together with our husbands and now, I couldn’t explain it but something was terribly wrong.
The person I spent hours on the phone with sharing heartbreak and joy, now wouldn’t give me a minute of her time.
After days of chill between us I worked up the nerve to ask her.
“Is something wrong? Is it me?”
As if she had no earthly idea what I was talking about she coyly answered,
“No, I’m good.”
But something wasn’t good. Something was terribly wrong. I felt like I was left alone in the middle of a dance floor. Abandoned.
And then I felt suckered punched. Betrayed.
She knew all my secrets—where my bones were buried.
As the days went on I prayed to God for answers while I tried on my own to figure out what happened. Every morning I woke up with a big fat knot in the pit of my gut while in my head I scoured each word of every conversation we recently had for a clue.
Was it the joke about the gas station, not knowing which grade of gas to choose? I was only teasing her. We joked liked that all the time.
Was she put off because I gave her advice in the gym? But she asked.
There’s nothing quite as devastating as losing a close friend and not knowing what took her from you.
Every day I grew more desperate for answers. I prayed. I waited. I cried. I prayed. I waited. I bawled. I prayed I waited. I wailed! Why wasn’t God answering my prayer? What could be the harm in answering this prayer?
I never stopped to consider it wasn’t all about me.
Eventually the tears dried up and life moved on. Moved on without answers.
And we moved on—my family, away to another city.
In my heart of hearts I knew God knew what happened between my friend and me and that in and of itself gave me peace.
My ex-bestie and I exchanged Christmas cards for a few years and talked few times. But months turned into years and I came to the realization there are some things perhaps God just doesn’t want us to know. Secrets that are to remain hidden.
Several moves and eighteen years later, my husband, David and I attended a wedding for the daughter of another dear friend. At there at the reception across the room between the coconut shrimp and the carving station stood my ex-bestie. It had been years since we’d seen each other.
I walked over and we exchanged hugs and for the next few minutes did what old friends do when they haven’t talked in years. We caught up making small talk about our kids, husbands and nothing. Around the time I thought, that’s that, the conversation took and unanticipated turn.
“Christy” she said, “I need to apologize to you.”
I was truly taken aback. What is this about, I thought?
She went on.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry for ruining our friendship—one of the best friendships I’ve ever had. I’m sorry for pulling away. I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time. It wasn’t about you. It was me.”
She went on to explain what had been going on in her heart and why she grew distant. The “what” I didn’t know.
I stood in relief of my 18 year old question and more so marveled at God’s handi-work of the process.
In this hurry-up and fix-it world, we want what we want when we want it. All those many years ago I was hurting and wanted answers.
But God is not as much concerned about time as He is about the timing. We want a quick fix. He wants to fix hearts.
He wants to heal us.
He wants to change us.
Grow our character to be more in-line with His. And that takes a providential process.
Maybe you’re dealing with an unanswered prayer right now. It could be a broken relationship or maybe it’s something else entirely. I assure you the moment you prayed a plan was laid. Just because you don’t get your answer right away, doesn’t mean it isn’t coming.
Because sometimes it’s not all about us.
“He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times and dates the Father has set by his own authority.'” Acts 1:7
Christy is an award winning writer, national speaker, wife, mother, mother-in-law, and first time grandma! She is passionate about helping women see God working for their good in the midst of their circumstances.
When Christy isn’t with family, speaking or writing, you can find her on the tennis court chasing a fuzzy yellow ball. You can connect with Christy on her blog, Joying in the Journey, Facebook, and Twitter
Two moms duked it out, while I tried to pull a floppy wet shirt off my body in the pool stall. I’d tell you all I wasn’t eavesdropping, but I’d be lying; I was 100% listening to every word that flowed from their mouths from the safe-confines of my bunker.
“Harvard is going to be such a far drive for my son come Fall. I don’t know how we are going to do it.” Said mom voice 1.
“Well, thank goodness, He’s going to Harvard because Stanford is farther and I get sick flying on airplanes, even in first-class.”
Now, these two, who I was sure were perfectly toned, impeccably made-up and outrageously beautiful, brought to the surface my every insecurity. And based on their words, I was scheming… trying to internally figure out how to corral my son, tie him down and drag him to the local tutoring session post-school… It’s not too much to ask a kid to do SAT questions at age 6 is it?A mom’s who starts early, wins.
My competitive juices were flowing. My mind racing and twisting and…all of a sudden – Godly wisdom struck: I don’t have to enter into this life-killing race with these women.
I can choose not to be a part of this rat race. I can unsubscribe.
Unsubscribing sounds like this: They can do what they want to or say what they say. They can work hard to acquire wealth, goods or status. They can talk about it. They can make it their life goal. But, just because that is what they are doing, doesn’t mean it is what I should be doing. What I should be doing is: making Christ my aim, making Christ my thoughts, making love my goal.
I can’t change people, but what I can change is: my mind, my thoughts and my goals.
This feels like freedom.
I sense there are some of you who need freedom right now too. Maybe from a person who is causing your mind to go to places God hasn’t invited it?
Right now, join me in asking God, “What words, goals or pursuits have I been allowing to take hold in my heart that are not from you?”
Listen for his response. Be aware of how God might be leading you.
Then, ask him, “How can I protect my heart in a better way?”
I believe he’s saying to me: “Kelly, everything you hear doesn’t have to go to your heart.”
And, I agree. Starting today, I’ll filter what I let in.
Thank you God, you are faithful.
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