Do you ever find it is hard to share your truth? To be honest with others about what you need, want or desire?
I “get it”. You see, in a couple of weeks, I plan to go to a conference. It will be a long drive there, I’m excited about it. I plan to listen to some podcasts, pray, sing songs and have some time to think about my writing and what God may want to say. Long drives tend to be a time of reflection, introspection and seeking God. A time when I can more clearly hear God and understand what He is calling me to do. A time of “breakthrough”.
Well, one day, when hanging out with a friend, I casually mentioned this event to her. Before I knew it, we were kind of planning to go together. I am not entirely sure how it happened. All of a sudden she was riding in my car and staying in my hotel room.
Was this what God wanted? I hadn’t taken a second to consider that.
Upon arriving home from my time with this friend, I told my husband that she was coming with me. He looked at me, head cocked to the side, and said, “Is that what you want? What God wants? I thought you were taking a solo trip?”
In all my excitement, I forgot to think about God and about what I really wanted. I forgot to think about how much I needed alone time.
It is easy to forget what I need sometimes.
What about you? Do people pull you five steps ahead of where God is? Do feel obligated to take care of others? Do you say yes, when you mean to say no? Do you feel guilty or rude when you stand up for yourself?
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10)
I had a hard time calling the friend back. But, I did. I told her that I “needed” this alone time with God and that I was going to drive up alone. I told her “we’d hang out another time soon.” It was hard. But, telling her “my truth” was far better than “living a lie” and then being resentful and angry at myself. And missing my alone-time with God.
She took it great. She understood. The whole process of standing up for myself wasn’t as hard as the guilt and fear made it seem. I did it! If I can do it, you can too! You can make God first, by speaking your truth.
She said (with all the wisdom that 5-years brings a girl): “Mom, how come other moms have bodies that go straight-down? And, you’ve got a body that goes out on the sides? Your back side is big too.”
I said: “Hmm…Madison, that’s true. Some moms do have bodies that go straight down.”
She said: “Mommy, you’re fat.”
I said: “Oh really?”
I fretted: Maybe I really am – fat?
Yes. My sides are bigger. My hips are larger. My silhouette is more pear-shaped than stick-shaped. She’s right about that. In this moment, I almost wanted to rush to the mirror to check myself out. Maybe I’d become disillusioned about own figure? Perhaps I was a whole lot bigger than I’d realized. I do see myself every day. Those kinds of things can inch-up on a woman.
She said: “Mommy, what made you fat?”
How does one answer this…?
I made me – fat? God made me – look fat? I am not – fat?
Here, I thought back to how she didn’t want me to hug her in class the other day. She pushed me away. Was it because — I’m fat? Maybe I need to go on a workout plan. Maybe I need to stop those afternoon ice-cream digs for peanut butter cups. Maybe I need to walk some more…
And then reality hit me, much like her words: God could care less about fat. Indeed, He wants me to love His temple, but, where man looks at our outsides; God looks at our heart.
“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)
“Madison,” I said. “God made us all shapes and sizes. He loves all of us the same. It is not how we look that makes us lovable, better or more valuable, but Christ inside of us that makes us special.”
Who knows if I got through to her. It’s a scary thing to send a girl out in this raging pressure-filled world. But, perhaps, I can get through to you and me today…
Here are my thoughts about this:
We’re not a product of our pants-size, but the product of God’s love dwelling inside.
We’re not conformed to the image of this world, but we’re being transformed into the beautiful likeness of Christ.
Grace abounds. If we need help, He who IS help has more than enough help to help us.
Internal or external insults can’t stick to us when we’re covered by the full acceptance, love, and approval of Jesus.
Jesus is not in the business of weighing us, He’s in the business of pouring out the full weight of His love on us.
In God’s love, even if there’s an extra 5 or 50 pounds we need to shed, we remain: wanted, love, kept, desired, approved of, accepted, valuable and full of Jesus. God looks at us with love; He doesn’t spend one ounce of time hating our outsides. And, if He doesn’t, why should we?
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. (Song of Solomon 4:7)
Sometimes it’s easier to be a spectator. When there’s an event or tragedy making headlines and getting lots of attention in the media, that’s often what I am. I sit back and read other writers’ words. I nod and silently say, “Amen.”
But over the last weeks following the suicide of two well-known celebrities, I knew I needed to contribute more than hushed acknowledgement. I watched others speak up about their own experiences with depression and bravely tell their stories, and God stirred my soul.
I know what it’s like to be in that space where you dread waking up.
To look out the window and try to feel anything other than the slow nothingness engulfing you. After having my first child, there were days I couldn’t wait to crawl into bed and slip into the abyss of sleep.
Last week I read words from a courageous one who voiced a truth most of us don’t hear very often: Someone can love Jesus but still want to die. And I applaud her for it. These are the types of conversations more of us need to have.
Days after I read her story, its points still circled my mind and I found myself wondering, “Why do we so often want to remain silent about our own darkness?” The autopilot part of me knows the answer. People who love Jesus aren’t supposed to want to take their own lives, right? They’re supposed to have faith that can heal and a spirit that finds peace in his presence, right?
Yes, these things are possible. God is able. But they aren’t always the rule. And the thought in my mind days after I read another sojourner’s words was, “Even some prophets dealt with this darkness.”
Want to see for yourself? Elijah and Jonah, who were both servants of the Lord and heard directly from him, stated they wanted to die. (See 1 Kings 19 and Jonah 4)
These were men who not only thought about dying, but openly told God they wanted to.
These were men who God chose specifically to speak to and use. He trusted them and set them apart in generations filled with people who worshiped idols, bowed to Baals and turned to everything but him to find fulfillment.
They were not far from God, but vessels of his message. They transformed lives and brought hope. At the point they stated their anguish, they had seen God perform the miraculous. Fire from heaven at Elijah’s word. For Jonah, the nation of Ninevah transformed from vile acts of brutality to repentance.
And yet, they wanted to die.
Now, I’m not going to go into the details surrounding each man’s journey. But if we read their stories, we see one was afraid of a crazy king’s wife and the other was angry. Their desire to die stemmed from very different emotions.
What I want to talk about today isn’t their reasons, but God’s response. Because there are many who think God turns away from these types of feelings and cries of despair. And I’m here to tell you he doesn’t.
So how did God respond? Did he chastise them? Turn away and cast them into hell? Hide his face and let them wander in darkness?
Not even close. Here are three ways God responds when his followers want to die:
He comes to them in their need and allows them to rest.
God does not turn away from his children. He doesn’t yell, “How dare you say such a thing!” or act as though he can’t believe one of his own followers is making such a bold statement. In Elijah’s distress, he sends an angel to him with food and water. He lets him sleep and prepare for the long journey ahead. Once he’s had time to regain his strength, he follows him to Mount Horeb. To Jonah he provides shade and eases his discomfort. And although he later takes the plant away to illustrate a point to Jonah, he doesn’t leave him.
He gets to the heart of the matter.
God doesn’t shy away from what’s really going on in these men’s hearts. He asks questions. He sees the things they’re not saying or asking. To Elijah he asks, “What are you doing here?” (1 Kings 19:9) and to Jonah he asks, “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4) God already knows the answer to these questions. He wants the men whose hearts he’s after to see what he sees.
God doesn’t interrupt these prophets or cut them off as they’re explaining how they’ve arrived at this place. Once again, he knows the answer. In Elijah’s case, he knows he mistakenly believes he’s the only follower left. But he still lets him speak. He lets him say these words he’s been holding onto as he traveled through the wilderness thinking there was no one left to serve God.
Sometimes the journey through the wilderness is what prepares us to receive the truth.
Friend, I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know if you’re fighting through darkness or if you’re standing firm in a place of victory today. But can I tell you God sees you, no matter what? He doesn’t turn away from those places you keep buried.
God doesn’t stand in disbelief at statements like the ones from Elijah and Jonah. He comes close. He reaches through the gap. When we hurt, he hurts.
Talk to him today. Even if you don’t think he hears, talk to him anyway. He’s is right there and is waiting for you to reach for him.
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.
If you need to talk or you know somebody struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text with someone at the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
Looking at it, I considered the thought deeper. I hadn’t been giving a lot of thanks lately. Mostly just gripes to God about people, timelines and the endless cause of trying to keep my house clean. In reality, I’d forgotten about thanks.
So when I considered which of the mugs to give away, it was hardly shocking that I nearly heard God say, “Kelly, thanks is made to be given away.”
Here, a mug short, I picked up the “Give Thanks,” mug. I would give it away with a heart of thanks. . .
…for, thanks is meant to be given away.
And this is the heart of hospitality. You give because you are thankful. You receive and say thank you.
So when the ladies came to my house for the event (I told you all a couple of weeks ago, that I was completely nervous about) and they selected little mugs to take home, I nearly kissed my favorite mug goodbye. Except. . . I didn’t.
When the event was over, the mug still remained on my counter. After texting the group to ask who left it, I got no response. So what I gave away in thanks, I kept.
What we give away to God, in thanks, we also keep…
We keep a smile on our face when we think of that precious moment of joy.
We keep a memory of a moment that we will treasure forever.
We keep a belief that God really will come through.
We keep a hope that God really can do the miraculous time and time again.
We keep a heart that is willing to change because God’s results are great.
We keep a fresh perspective on how much we have.
We give: thanks. We keep: everything. God doesn’t take away our cup; He fills it.
Everyday, I know I should at least fit a walk into my schedule. I should get my shoes on and move beyond the boundaries of my complacency, so I don’t:
– lose strength
– waste away
– gain unintended weight
– make my heart unhealthy
We all think about our physical health, at least sometimes. We take vitamins, make vegetables, drink water, take the stairs. Even if we aren’t so good at it, we normally think about it, or how to improve it. We know it is important to our vitality.
But how often do we consider our spiritual health? Our spiritual fitness?
So we don’t:
– lose strength in the Lord
– waste away, only to find ourselves one with the world
– gain unintended weight, or baggage, we are not meant to carry
– find our our heart unhealthy
Today, let’s stop for a moment and consider why our strength and fitness in the Lord is so important.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” 1 Cor. 9:26-27 MSG
We want to be spiritually fit. But what does that mean?
I believe it means we:
Are led by the Spirit and not the flesh.
In the Spirit, we are strong. But if we’re driven by our own efforts, we quickly learn — we’re weak.
Follow Christ’s life, truth and ways.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Ps. 91:11
Be fishers of men.
When God calls us to cast our nets into risk, and we do, he often encourages our hearts to keep doing it. Here, we learn to be risk-takers instead of home-dwellers.
Fellowship with God, constantly.
In Christ, we come out of our weakness, stress and fears to find ourselves equipped and empowered by his grace.
Have a readiness to go.
The more we get our running shoes on, the easier it gets to move out the door.
Stand firm in our identity.
When we know who we are, it doesn’t work so well when the enemy tries to tell us we are someone else.
When sin drops off of us through confession, we become more and more alive. We’re aware of the God who lives in us and all the promises he has for us. Rather than getting caught up in our shame, we become enamored with His name, Jesus.
Today, may you and I choose to walk in spiritual fitness.
The stale air of the subway felt like her closest companion. She was surrounded by people yet no one seemed to notice her. Some passengers looked straight ahead, others seemed to look through her, and most were on their phone. A few, very few, were engaged in conversation.
I’m hungry. She cried out.
And the passengers were unaware…or unmoved.
I’m hungry! She called out again.
I heard the cry. Not just from the mouth of this fellow passenger, but deep within my soul.
I have known hunger too: soul hunger.
And I wonder how many of us join in this refrain? I’m hungry. I’m hungry!
On the days when there’s nothing left in the cupboard. For the times when the house (or inbox) is devoid of life. In the aftermath of unexpected storms that barrel through. There is one who hears, who sees, who understands. One who has experienced loneliness (and hunger) in ways we can’t even imagine.
He answers our cries with Himself: the Bread of Heaven broken for us.
He doesn’t look through us, He lives in us. He invites us to feast as He provides soul manna that never runs out. He never runs out on us. Jesus. Not a trite answer but THEE answer for our deep soul ache.
Tried and true, tested and proven, His Love saturates lonely, aching places.
Here for us; always. When others ignore, when they overlook, or when they inadvertently hurry by…He remains.
Here are 7 verses to feast on when you’re feeling lonely:
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35).
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me (Revelation 3:20).
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand (Isaiah 41:10, NLT).
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. If I rise on the wings of the dawn,if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me,your right hand will hold me fast (Psalm 139: 7-10).
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20, NLT).
There is a verse here for each day of the week. May you be comforted as you cry out to God and bring your loneliness to Him. Oh how He cares for you and is more than able to provide for the hunger of your soul.
Katie M. Reid is an author and speaker who encourages you to find grace in the unraveling of life (look for her first book coming out next summer with Waterbrook!). She inspires you to embrace your identity in Christ and live out your God-given purpose. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in the Midwest. She is a fan of cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea. Katie and her husband host the popular Facebook Live show, “Stop! Hammock Time” (which airs Wednesdays, 9pm EST). Join in the fun and unwind in this vibrant community.
I took a walk the other day. God blessed me with a walk was on the beach (yippee!!!). I inhaled; it was peace. I listened to the pounding of waves, the strength of his wind and the might of his strong-hitting waves. All was good.
I passed a woman. She sat in a camping chair pressed against the rolling waves, bible in her lap, head down with a bandana around it. As I saw her, something in me called to reach out to something in her. I almost felt as if there was something God wanted to say to her, but I hadn’t the faintest idea what, so I kept walking.
It wasn’t until about 100 feet away that something struck me. I suppose it was the word – “faithfulness.” I looked down at my little footmarks in the sand, leading forward. I decided they needed to do “a turnaround.” They needed to loop back. They needed to address something.
But what God? What am I supposed to say?
His nudge was: pray.
Feeling all happy that God has great ideas, I went over and asked my sister in Christ if she needed prayer. Her feeble head lifted up slowly from her phone and she said, “Yes, my husband is in the hospital with a heart condition and I need strength.”
Indeed. Of course she does. Of course God knew. He always does. He also knew this prayer time, as she stated, would be “just what she needed,” a “confirmation from God.”
I’ve been realizing the turnaround is powerful. Because for once, I’ve been doing it…
I made some ongoing rash judgments about people.
Turnaround: After much stomping of my feet, I apologized.
I was quick to respond when tiredness, hunger and overwhelming feelings conquered me. I normally brush my reactions aside.
Turnaround: I’ve been seeing truth for truth. These days, I’ve been humbling myself and saying sorry.
I forgot friends. I don’t want to get caught up in my world, but I do.
Turnaround: I’ve asked God to help face them (despite my shame).
To turnaround is to see God again. It’s to face him outside of the realm of shame, and let him welcome you to healing, whether it belongs to you or someone else.
Where do you need to turn around? Where are your foot marks in the sand headed? Your way? Or home, into God’s arms?
He never hurts children who’ve done bad. He welcomes you in. He’ll lead you to his better thing. He’ll nudge you with the words to speak. He’ll uncover the greatness of freedom in the error of your ways.
“Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.” (Joel 2:13)
I’ve been watching the show, The Partner. In this show, Marcus Lemonis, puts many to the test but is selecting one right-hand-man or woman to be his partner. He puts each person through the wringer: he tests their knowledge of financial statements, has them run their own businesses, and places them in high-tension sales situations.
In a different way, God, also, is looking for just the right person…
…will He find you?
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (2 Chron. 16:9)
Just as Marcus noticed how his contestants endured under fire, God notices as well. Not with the goal of eliminating us, but much with the same goal – of promoting us.
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (Lu. 16:10)
Have you considered, the tests God is permitting are because he knows you’ll prove yourself strong, steadfast and worthy to move to greater things? Have you considered – he believes in you? Have you realized – he desires to move you into great and glorious things for his making?
At the end of the show, The Partner, there was 2 woman left: one was a Harvard genius the other was humble and willing to learn.
Marcus chose the second. I believe God often does too.
Where is your heart? Are you willing to learn? Or, are you set in your ways?
Notice: In 2 Chronicles 16:9, God didn’t say his eyes roam the earth for the best person, the wisest or the most qualified, he said he roams the earth to strengthen hearts “fully committed” to him.
To have a heart “fully” committed is to:
Ask God to search your heart.
Be willing to see what needs change.
To be humble enough to consider doing things differently.
To be open to God’s leading as he helps you do things differently.
To recycle, over and over again, items 1-4 above.
I believe, for this person: new doors are opened, their life is changed, and God’s hand blesses them in tremendous ways. Today, check your heart.
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.