My face has looked like defeat, of late. I really thought big moves of God were going to happen: breakthrough would come, my kids would act nicer to each other, I’d see God open up doors that had never been open before — yet, it’s been much of the same.
In fact, things seem to be moving — s. l. o. w.
Are you in similar shoes? Maybe you’ve prayed and prayed. . . sought God and sought God. . . asked and asked. . . .waited and waited. . .
. . . well, keep doing it and don’t give up. The Lord is not done with you yet. He’s not done with me either. And, if I’ve learned anything through scripture, it is this: He finishes what He starts. He also is no minder of our timelines.
Be it David becoming a King, Jesus getting resurrected or Lazarus getting raised, God is okay waiting days.
What do we do in the meantime?
We set our face like stone.
“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore, I have set my face like a stone,
determined to do his will.
And I know that I will not be put to shame.” (Is. 50:7)
Stone-faced, we set our eyes on Jesus. We determine to only look at Him. We know that we will not be disgraced. We resolve to do His will. We determine to see forth His cause.
We will not give up. We do not back down. We know that we will NOT be put to shame. We keep going.
In some translations, setting our face “like stone” is written as we set our face “like flint.” I want us to realize that our face, set on God, has the ability to start a fire. It has the ability to light things up in our lives and in the lives of others. Do not discount a face — intent on God.
Be like a warrior. Keep working, listening, loving, helping and looking to God — for your God never fails. Ever. You can trust in that.
I’d never walk up to you and say it, but underneath my smiling and warm veneer, my heart often says…
Me first. I’m not sure I can trust you enough to give to you.
Me first. I want to make sure I am provided for.
Me first. I need to get my words understood before I understand yours.
Me first. I must hold my money tightly to make sure there is enough.
Me first. It is better to keep distance from you, so you don’t irritate me.
Me first. I need to be seen/recognized/loved first, before you are.
Me first. If you serve me, then I can serve you with peace about doing so.
Me first. If I feel good about me, then I can feel good about you.
Me. Me. Me.
My mouth would never say it, but overwhelmingly and often, my heart does. This is a massive problem.
“People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Sam. 16:7
What is your heart speaking that your mouth would never admit?
Where are you putting yourself first instead of last?
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Mt. 20:16
Where are you making it about your interests, not theirs?
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Phil. 2:3
Where do you figure because others act this way, you can too?
“When they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” 2 Cor. 10:12
Often, we think it’s in going first, getting first, and securing our place first that our life becomes full. What a lie. The enemy was the first liar. He put himself first, before God, and now suffers the consequences: eternity-long discontentment. Me-first mentalities never bring ultimate fulfillment. They may abate an insecurity for a moment, but to the detriment of overflowing soul-contentment.
Contentment is only found when our heart is content in God. And joy is found only God’s way, not via our hyper-dense, over-packed mega-highway to self-glory, achievement and fulfillment. On this road, we only get stuck. In miles and miles of congestion that leaves us breathing in choke-inducing fumes, not peace.
What me-first mentality might God be calling you to surrender today?
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?
“Believe,” she said. “You just have to believe. And don’t settle. See belief all the way through.”
It sounded like a very good and faithful thing to do. It sounded like what I really should do. But as we all know, faith in practicality lives much more painfully than it does through words. You think things like: If God doesn’t come through on this, I am toast. If I don’t find my way, I’ll never be happy. If I don’t get this done, I’ll be left behind.
Belief wavers after that first jolt of confidence and fizzles out like day-old soda. It gets flat sometimes.
So, when looking for a house and walking through one that was “a definite possibility,” her words came back to me. “Don’t settle.” She had gone on to say, “If it is an orange light from God, don’t go, but it if it is a green light, only then proceed.”
I liked the layout. It was open. I liked the paint color. It was grey. I didn’t like the door frames that looked like water had gone up their side. I also didn’t like the musty smell. Internally, I debated if the place had mold.
I wanted to overlook the bad, so I could move forward and be done with this frustrating process of finding a new place.
I went home and told my husband, “I think I found a place that looks pretty good. We probably should move on it.”
He remembered the words of our friend, “Kelly, is it a green light or an orange light?”
How often do we push into something God hasn’t called us to because we are over things? Because it is easier not to contend with that issue anymore? Because faith is hard?
When I saw the reality of it, that place was orangey-red.
“See belief all the way through.”
Where do you need to see belief all the way through?
“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” Jo. 2:29
After talking with my husband, I redirected my thoughts, my heart and my will to believe. I committed to see things through. And I did. I write now from the comfort of a green light home without mold. Our family loves it.
My turn to share was coming, and I wasn’t ready. While the other women on our Google chat discussed their writing goals, my mind spun on repeat. Summer gave this word a whole new meaning, and I was still processing it.
Ah yes, goals. What were those again? My goal yesterday was to keep the boys playing outside for more than twenty minutes before they came back in screaming from bloodied knees and bumps on heads. Today it was to make it to bedtime without yelling.
Sometimes my goals vary by the hour. It’s my first summer with three kids at home, and my mental capacity seems to wane a little more each minute.
This afternoon I turned my head to see our eight-month old trying to eat a dart our son left on the floor. (Don’t gasp; it was foam and rubber) Fortunately we were able to dislodge it from her death grip before she added purple styrofoam to her diet.
So, needless to say this Google chat was a welcome diversion where I could talk to other women like an actual adult. I listened to plans about our shared passion for writing and encouraging other women. It was bliss.
But my mind wasn’t on the future. It was on all the ways I’d failed over these summer months.
My friend Bev Sheasby of Liberated Living Ministries has been helping me limp across the finish line of a very hard season. She says wise and beautiful things that come at just the right moment. Words of affirmation, wisdom, and encouragement. She’s been such a comfort to me.
We recently had the loving privilege of handing our long-term foster daughter back into her birthmother’s restored arms.
Simultaneously, our oldest son became a Marine.
That same week, our oldest daughter eloped. This was a blessing, we are thrilled for the happy couple. But it has just been one thing after another.
And then another.
We welcomed an injured foster placement that same week. I may be a glutton for punishment, but actually, she has been a delightful distraction. It’s an honor to care for her.
Still, sending adult children off into the great beyond, I wonder… was it enough? Did I teach them everything they needed to know?
And I am not of the mindset that the Jesus I love was wholly made theirs simply by my prose. Scripture memory, “Jesus Loves Me,” and “Larry and the Giant Cucumber” are a start, He will have to take them to the finish.
But what about these “temporary” sons and daughters? There’s a chance they’ll hardly remember me? Let alone the whispered prayers or the lullabies of a Jesus who adored them, unto His death. I panicked, not so much in a lapse of faith, but a lack of confidence – a state of weariness. That sinking feeling, you know the one, where you feel you must be everything to everyone, every second of every day.
And something Bev said came into my mind, as I let some tears fall and whispered some small, but heartfelt prayers for healing.
“Within the seed is the potential for the entire plant.”
In my quest to provide for all, I realize what I often forget is how very small I am. Barely a seed myself, yet I think I must do it all and be all and fix all.
Alas, if I planted an apple seed, I could water it – but would it be me that would turn it into a tree? Would I be responsible for ensuring it produces a harvest? Could I even accomplish this? Even if I wanted to?
Furthermore, if I planted an apple seed and then I moved to a different farm in another state and left it to the elements, would it not be watered by the sky? Fed by the sun? And pruned by the wind? Isn’t it completely likely, aside from placing the seed in the earth, the earth would take care of the rest?
Within the seed is the potential for the entire plant. My comfort and rest come from this. I will continue to plant the seed and trust the Maker of all to finish the rest.
“The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.” Deuteronomy 28:8 (NIV)
Jami Amerine is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her onFacebook or Twitter.
We can be like tires, after a lot of mileage, we run down. We loose our traction to God’s Word. We slip and slide into worldliness. We can feel it happening, we sense the tug, we know we are a little out of control, the problem is, sometimes, we are not so sure what to do about it.
I feel it in my life. I’ve had a series of frustrating situations: the babysitter backed our car into the mailbox, my feelings got hurt by a friend, and my prayer life with God landed in the doldrums.
Fortunately, I’m beginning to get eyes to see, if I don’t change something at the first sign of a slide, I’ll land in a ditch of faith. I don’t want this. Neither do you, I bet.
And, what about you? Are you, like me, slipping and sliding today?
– Letting arguments or distance with another dictate your worth.
– Finding yourself alone, tired and doubtful in your house.
– Resting on your own abilities to accomplish things, and not God’s.
– Endlessly worrying about your “situation” and having a hard time giving it to God.
– Recounting all that went wrong and not knowing how to get your mind off it.
– Returning to the sense that you are not really cared for by God.
– Battling your own will to avoid the temptation before you.
– Forgetting your quiet time or prayer time with God.
No matter where you stand, even if you feel completely on fire for the Lord, our goal is to boost your traction. So you cling on to the King of Kings, grip his paths, and stay on them.
The first step along this path is to:
Offer Forgiveness: Even if you need to forgive the same person 50 times. God endorses this behavior. He tells us to forgive 77 times – times 7 (Mt. 18:22).
Ask God: Will you help me to receive your Words and believe your words in a way where they relieve my heart?
Proclaim Godliness: Speak the truth (out loud). Speak it over yourself. Now, don’t fear, while you might feel dumb, you don’t look dumb to God, you look quite wise, actually, for getting your little self back on his path.
Speak this:I am beloved; I am God’s child and nothing can ever change that.
I am chosen; Father God never turns his back on those he wants.
I am helped; in everything I do, God will help me.
I am equipped; the Lord gives me what I need to accomplish his will.
I am restored; Jesus didn’t come to earth to leave mankind broken and he won’t leave me this way either.
I am forgiven; what was done on the cross is as permanent as marker –
there is no erasing its power.
I am renewed; I am being transformed into the image of Christ Jesus.
I am not perfect; I am growing and moving from glory to glory.
I am strong. In Christ Jesus, I have all I need to walk into this life;
his grace is more than enough.
I am able. There is nothing that God can’t help me do;
there is no mountain I can’t move, through prayer.
I am destined. I am destined to the fullness of heaven and
no scheme of the enemy can take that from me.
I am alive. This is my one life to go all out for God – and I will.
I am talented. God has given me works to do in advance,
not so I can doubt them, but so I can unleash them.
I am in love. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are my affection. Through them, I spread love.
I am called. I will go as God calls me to go.
I will lay it all down to follow my King, Master and Prince of Peace.
I am daughter; I am cared for in the kindest ways.
I am covered; God’s faithfulness will bring me through.
I am safe; God’s protection never breaks.
I am whole in Christ Jesus and if he is for me – no one can be against.
Believing and speaking these words restores tread and traction in our heart. We reattach to the vine and abide in his love, so much so, our mind realizes, we are not operating in this world but in HIS world. Getting to this place, to the place of spiritual eyes, is what brings us back to a heart that is on fire for God. It is what makes us go out in the world and pass the torch to another person. Rest here.
His face said it all: his brows furrowed inward, his eyes squinted and his mouth was as tight as a rubber band ready to explode. My son was angry at himself. In all his 6-years of wisdom, he knew – he’d done something he wasn’t happy with.
He looked up at daddy and said, “I want to go in time-out for 2 minutes – for you, daddy…”
My son’s words got me thinking recently, as a friend offered me unsolicited advice I knew I shouldn’t be listening to. God had already made my steps clear: I was to wait on Him until wisdom came. I knew this was the plan. Yet, as I sat down with this friend and they started talking on and on about what I should do, my heart started to plummet.
Would it really turn out okay? I really should save myself. Is anyone there to help me?
While one minute I was standing strong with God, the next, I was tumbling over with fear. I was buckling in with anxiety.
Ever been there? Ever been sure of what God wanted you to do, only to act out the exact opposite?
I let another’s influence invade a boundary God had established. And, I felt horrible about it.
What do you feel horrible about? What boundary has been invaded in your life, in a way where you constantly beat yourself up? In a way where you feel bad, horrible and no good? In a way where you’re not sure you can ever be nice to yourself again?
Because of what I did, I was convinced God was stripping me of all my good girl medals. It was as if, the row of trophies I’d earned – were disappearing before my very eyes. I was being demoted on his team and I was being relegated to the sidelines.
I could almost see it all happening and transpiring because of my faithlessness. You’re out, Kelly! You’re out! So, I took myself out of the game. I counted myself unworthy. I discounted my standing. I practically said to God, “I want to go in time-out for 2 minutes – for you, daddy.”
Like me, are you keeping yourself in time out – for daddy? Are you holding yourself back to make right what you know you made wrong? Are you punishing yourself?
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Jo. 3:17
If Jesus didn’t come to put us in permanent time out…then why do we send ourselves there? Why do we stay far from the Healer who wants to heal?
If Jesus came to save and not punish,
his procedure is to heal us and not ruin us.
With this idea in mind, we can approach him from a feeling of loved, adored and about-to-be restored, rather than failing and floundering.
When can approach like this:
I am sorry God.
You forgive me God.
I am holy God, in you.
Nothing can change that.
I am blameless in you.
You are leading me a new way.
And then, we realize, we were never outside of his love, but we were always in it and, then, we remember it is his love that heals us every time.
I used to approach friendship with a long list of expectations. Things I thought a friend should do. A space I thought my friend should fill.
Instead of extending grace, I was disappointed when friends didn’t follow through with what they said they’d do. I didn’t care whether they had kids and or whether the unexpected happened.
All I saw was my set of rules.
“A true friend wouldn’t do that.”
“If she was your friend, she would keep her word.”
What’s even sadder is I approached my relationship with God the same way. Instead of coming to the throne of grace wanting to know him, I came with my expectations.
But my expectations weren’t based on promises in his Word. They were based on my notions of what he should be and what he should do for me.
“If he is God, he will answer this prayer.”
“He didn’t answer this prayer, so he must not care about me.”
All this time I walked around feeling lonely and defeated, God still loved me. He still heard my prayers and you know what? He still answered them.
He just didn’t answer them in the way I wanted or expected. During a season, I didn’t see his hand at all because I was so razor focused on certain details of my life.
When we try to create our own personal Jesus, we will fail every time. Because God is not a god of our creation. He is infinite, going far beyond our limited minds.
But what’s amazing is we can have a relationship with him. When we want more of him, he meets us where we are. He gives us his Word as a living tool to guide us and show us his heart. Take the story about Mary and Martha, for example.
Most of us know this story, and Martha often gets a bad rap. This pains me, because what Martha did wasn’t wrong. Serving God and wanting help was not the issue.
The problem was instead of expecting Jesus to be God, Martha expected Jesus to do what she wanted. She came with her expectations and preconceived ideas of what a Messiah who cared would do. When he didn’t meet her expectations, she was disappointed.
Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?
Luke 10:40 ESV
In other words, “Lord if you cared you would not let her leave me here.”
And Jesus corrects her not out of condemnation, but out of love. He says Mary chose what was more important. Mary chose knowing him.
Friends, we will always have expectations. It’s how our brains are wired and God knows this.
But freedom comes when we’re willing to hold loosely to our expectations and come to him in surrender. When we say, “God, I may not understand what you’re doing but I trust that you love me anyway.”
When we let go of our notions of who we think God should be, we can know him for who he truly is.
He is faithful to give us glimpses of his character and love. He shows us his ways and his plans and gives us hope.
Let’s lay our aside our expectations today and come to him with open hands.
Let’s have faith in what we don’t see, and bring glory to the One who sees us.
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.
Pop Quiz: What is a very small thing in size that has a gigantic impact regarding the direction of your life?
Clue: It moves, kind of flippantly, up and down.
Got it yet?
This should help: “Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” James 3:3-6
It can speak liberty or captivity that sinks a heart.
It can speak faith or fear that you’ll always live in the basement and never get anywhere in life.
It can tell you you’ll be stuck in that dead-end job with a boss you hate or
it can profess glory, glory, glory and holy, holy, holy!
It can rip a person apart and spit them out like day old coffee or
it can savor the goodness of others and remind them of it with an intentional word of kindness.
It can blabber about a person who never should have taken your parking space like that,
a family member who is so wrong, an insensitive and unthoughtful husband,
or it can cut through the tension and speak aloud every virtue of God.
It can send you into high places, with high people to confess high things of importance,
or it can keep stuck in the gutter, speaking a whole litany of unholy words that keep you unhappy.
It can halt its movement and literally change the density of another’s heart,
moving a person from defensive to receptive in an instant.
How do you use your tongue?
I can almost hear you all glaring back at me, saying, “Well, Kelly, how do you use your tongue?”
Not so well, friends. This lesson, and every lesson I write, really, is for me because, much more than dwelling on the immensity of God, I taste and swallow negativity. I constantly internally talk about the ways I’m failing to make good meals, spend enough time with the kids before bedtime and open up the door to my husband when he arrives home with a smile and thoughtful motives, like not bombarding him with the daily happenings at first sight of his brown hair. I, then, throw out words, like daggers, because I feel bad about myself.
It’s not easy.
The problem is, my tongue likes to go. My mouth wants to speak, incessantly. My complaints, grievances and objections are many. It is very hard to shut the trap when it wants to catch something wrong, and, golly day, and fix it with my words.
But, fault-pointing words usually fix nothing. And, all they end up trapping is me – in dejection, demotivation and frustration. Get me out of here – I’m stuck!!!
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Prov. 18:21
By looking deep into this verse, it appears, just as much as my words can get me stuck in a rut – or kill me, they can also lift me out of ruts, and feed me. I like that. I like the idea my words can literally provide me sustenance, food and energy. I like that by changing the course of my words, I can change the course of my life. I can move into into go-mode, into vision and into purpose that surpasses my own thoughts, limitations and plans.
5 Ways to Use Your Tongue to Change the Course of Your Life (for the better):
Constantly speak what is excellent, true, pure, good, right, honorable, admirable, praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). If it doesn’t fall in one of those categories, carry it on over to the trash can and dispose of it. It should be taken to the dump instead of coming out of your mouth like a stinky mess bound to hurt you and leave you overwhelmingly frustrated that your life doesn’t look better.
Let Praise Be Your Chatter. If you lift God up with your tongue, you’ll lift your mind up too. It is natural. You can’t be acknowledging the magnificence and the righteousness of God and still be stuck in a hole. He grabs you and pulls you up to heavenly perspectives when you do some fine-tuning.
Say thanks. Thank you that you have great plans for me, God. Thank you, husband, you are so thoughtful. Thank you, children, you are listening so well. Thank you, self, you are giving your whole heart to speaking carefully and intentionally. Thank you, world, I have such a great opportunity not to react, but to reach out to you and share Jesus
Speak humility. Best said, this means letting the voice of Jesus go before you. It means letting his heart be your words. It means letting his holy verses take flight so they come shooting out of your mouth before your own perceptions or intentions rule you (I know, not easy!). But, it is possible. We have the mind of Christ, which means, it should change us to speak with the mouth of Christ.
Don’t use it: don’t open your mouth, don’t utter a word, don’t speak a sigh, don’t offer a grunt, don’t release a criticism, don’t give flight to judgement. There are times, when the best speech you can give is silence. The best course of treatment you can give is dead air. Why? Because it is often in the lack of words, that God pours out the abundance of grace that changes a person’s heart from contemptuous to contrite.
This very small part has the ability to lead people to Christ, to change demeanors, to open eyes, to counsel the needy through disasters, to promote love, to inflict compassion and to listen. It’s amazing.
Let’s choose to use it as it was intended to be: a weapon of goodness that cuts through people’s hearts using the sword of the spirit, God’s Word. This is effective speech:
Parlaying his majesty into the day that lays ahead of you.
Speaking his glory into the places where you feel hurt.
Highlighting truth in the midst of emotions that are as wild as a bucking bronco.
Correcting another (or yourself) with the tone of compassion, grace and mercy.
Singing wonder about all that He has created.
Recounting the many times – God’s shown up in your life and how he remains consistent. Reflecting on the limitless nature of His power and being okay with it sitting on you.
Declaring his faithfulness, returning to this truth once again.
Demonstrating his humility, speaking less and listening more.
Let it out. Be not ashamed. Be not restrained. Be forthcoming. Be powerful. Change your life and change theirs.