Eyes trying to peep over the counter, they stood on tippy-toes. They were close, yet far enough the glass window preventing them from grabbing it. No touching allowed! They watched, as she ladled on the batter, shaped it, then carefully added the chocolate chips, marshmallows and graham crackers. Like pent up children ready to bust into Christmas, they knew, I knew – something monumental was about to happen. Yet, I also knew WWIII might breakout…
The second the gigantic crepe was in their hand, I heard it, “Mine, mine, mine.” He watched, she took a bite, “My bite wasn’t as big as hers!” She watched, yelling, “He got 2 bites.” He ripped it a chunk as quickly as he could.
So did she.
He looked at us with frustration, “Why can’t I have more.” She grabbed it and stared right at him, “Look what I have.”
They were so honed in on what the other had, they missed what they had.
So focused on the other’s portion,
they missed the chance to enjoy theirs.
So eager to win in the moment, they ruined it.
How often do we sour our sweet moments?
God, you should have given that to me. Why does she have the voice and the brains? Why don’t my kids act like that? How come every door is open for her to walk through? Why did she get the promotion and I didn’t? When will it be my turn? Why do I have to be the heavier one?
We sour sweet moments when we believe God hands us second-best.
I sat in church today. Up on the screen, they announced the women’s conference of all women’s conference. They showed the speakers perfect smiling faces, they highlighted their glorified messages, their idealized lives and their heart to bring Jesus to stadium-filled masses. Why aren’t I the model spokesperson for Jesus? I wanted their shoes.
They soured my sweetness.
The good in me went rancid.
My husband whispered,“Kelly, are you going to that event?”
“No way,” I whispered. “I am far too jealous.”
I didn’t want to go off.
Because I’ve come to see… women who walk with unaddressed sin are walking time bombs. As time passes, something ticks them off. And it is never pretty.
I don’t want to live exploding jealousy, but exploding love.
So, when I see even the smallest elements, I stop. I just shut it all down – and look. I look for Jesus. And, what I’ve come to see is he leads me, Willy Wonka-style, not into a big chocolate vat – but into the waves of my heart.
When you, first, seek Jesus’ heart, you find yours.
New rhythms of humanity surface. I see humans just like me. I see different missions for different children. I see that other’s great callings in no way diminish mine. I see a daddy meeting me in the gap, with love. I see it all. When I invite Jesus in.
What has soured your sweetness?
Is it a neighbor who is a little show-offy?
A colleague who always does right?
A winner who never loses?
A beautiful gal who, you figure, is BFF with the mirror?
An outgoing one who has it all together?
A successful one who is at the top of the charts?
A relationship you are not a part of?
I think about that crepe again. From another angle, it truly could have represented sugar cubes. That is how sweet it was. But, my kids enjoyed it as much as rock soup.
Jealousy steals our sweetest blessings, so we can’t even see them.
It’s often, not that we don’t have, but that we just don’t see.
What we do see, though, is the girl on the left and the right. Eyes glued, we analyze her clothes, beauty, success and everything else. Then, jealousy speaks up louder – it speaks vile. Chit-chat, that’s mean. Comparison, that’s damaging. Actions, that scar people. Not only that, but it drives us right by God’s plan.
We look back and say, “Where did God go?”
Well, we left him 4 blocks back, nearly right before we hit the lamppost on the side of the road.
Jealousy is crash-route for Christians. Ride or die – baby!
God, though, in his mercy, is something else; He is Savior. He offers us guardrails so we don’t crash. They’ve saved me a time or two.
4 Guardrails for Jealous Hearts:
– Realize: All relationships are permissible, but not all relationships are profitable. If someone is gossipy or comparison-oriented, it may be time to step back. “I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive. 1 Cor. 10:23
– Pray: If you lift a person up, instead of critiquing them, you might find you start to love them. You’ll see purpose arise out of hatred. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Phil. 2:3-4
– Submit: Lay down and see the height of your Father’s love for you. If you believe he is Creator, don’t you believe he will create something amazing on your behalf? My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. Jo. 10:27
– Admire: If you can’t deal with girl’s God-shining glory on earth how will you endure God’s numero-uno glory in heaven? You don’t want to look like a fallen angel who can’t handle God’s glory, do you? Choose to admire his glory – in others – today so you can bask in it tomorrow.
Your sweetness is not found at the end of the yellow brick roads, friend, it is found at the end of yourself and the start of the Father that cannot contain his love for you. Get yourself there and your heart will get right.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here
My son dug deep in the car, pulling out a prized and loved possession. He smiled. X marked the spot; he found his treasure – his special quarter. Not only that, but he found a trinket for his sister too. Even better! Things were going smooth as fresh brewed coffee on Friday morning, at least for a little while…
Walking into school, an oncoming kid approached.
“Want my quarter?” My son said.
This moment of generosity, made me curl up in anxiety. Why? He’d hate his decision after they boy walked away. He’d be angry that he let go of his favorite quarter. He’d throw a fit all the way to the front door of school, wanting me to go classroom-by-classroom to hunt the kid down. Then, I’d have to demand the thing back. My heart clenched itself and quickened.
He shouldn’t give that loved treasure to a boy he doesn’t know.
He’s going to pant and panic after he gives it away.
I’m going to suffer because he had a do-good idea.
While I tell my son to love like Jesus, loving like Jesus is completely inconvenient.
This thought gets me thinking…
How often do I go to places inconvenient to pour out love?
How often do I push the boundaries of giving, by offering a radically spontaneous gift of blessing?
Not often. I think about the Christians being persecuted; I don’t give much. I think about a friend going through a hard time; I forget to call. I consider an act of kindness; I get embarrassed they might think I am weird. I stay comfortably comfortable.I choose safe-Jesus.
But, I wonder? What if I get off my beaten path, to travel down roads of discomfort – where the likes of leprosy, blindness and poverty – reside? What if I, rather than thinking of comfort, intentionally move into uncomfortable – and extend not just small quarters – but abundant sums?
I sit next to the downcast woman on the city bench – and encourage her.
I walk up to the homeless woman and buy her lunch.
I pursue the depressed one who should have been over it by now and state, “I won’t abandon you.”
I dump money on causes that are closely aligned to Christ’s heart.
I pray wholeheartedly for the person who has deeply hurt me and bless them in secret.
God wants to provide a love transfusion from us – to them.Will we allow it? Will we outpour our very best?
A woman came with a special sealed jar. It contained very expensive perfume made out of pure nard.
She broke the jar open and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head. Mk. 14:3
This woman just came right in, no hesitancy is noted.
She just broke the jar, no doubts are described.
She just poured it over Jesus, no worries seemed present.
She saw the opportunity & she acted. BOOM!
Did Jesus have an overwhelming need for perfume? No.
Did she have an overwhelming desire to pour out blessing? Yes. BOOM!
She broke it.
With people watching.
With critical eyes observing.
With a personal cost – and a financial one.
It moved from her heart.
What are you pouring out for Jesus?
Is it mundane or the magnificent?
Is it basic or breathtaking?
Is it ordinary or extraordinary?
Are we dumpers? Love transfusers?
Friends, I won’t lie, 10 times out of 10, I am selfish. But my encouragement is, 10 times out of 10, Jesus is a love transfuser: Christ’ blood poured out – to cover my sins – and yours. (Heb 10:12).
This is our hope today. It is our fresh life. Our beating heart that beats for others.
BOOM! Jesus did it! He acted. Walked. Healed. Loved. Died. Without reservation. Without failing. Without procrastination. Without tallying losses. He didn’t stall. He died.
Why? Because he loves you and he loves me – and then he works through you and through me.
Who are we letting Jesus love?
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here
We sat on those stairs – five siblings, with a serious itch to take-off. Our high-pitched anxious voices said it all, we wanted to move into the living room like energetic bulls on parade. You see, what laid on the other side of the hall wall was what dreams were made of. On the other side of that wall wait perfectly wrapped, beautifully adorned – Christmas gifts and the power of Jesus unleashed.
Joy. Love. Peace. Smiles. Laughs. Cheers. It was all there and we could all – nearly taste it.
Our parents always made us wait, though. Wait for the pictures to be taken. Wait for coffee to percolate. Wait to hear the Christmas story. Wait to make sure everyone had good “picture-clothes” on.
Sometimes, the wait is agonizing.
Some days, I feel like I live on those stairs again and again. It’s like I know joy is on the other side of a wall, but I just can’t get there. I have to wait. I have to wait for life to happen. I have to wait for others to improve. I have to wait to be more Christ-like. I have to wait for my prayers to be answered.
Truth is, I want to bust into the fullness of God. I want to cross-over to the complete joy of Jesus, as if I am experiencing the joy of Christmas every single day. I don’t want to wait; I want God’s peace, life and grace to surround me. I want to enter his gates with thanksgiving in a powerful way. I want to run into each day, expecting to unwrap God’s glory.
Why do I have to wait?
As I consider this question, I also consider the fact Jesus never said, “Joy to the World only on Christmas” nor did he say, “My peace I leave you – only on good days.”
God speaks goodness over me. To me, I imagine it sounding like:
“She is full equipped with my joy.”
“Through the abundance of my love,
she can walk everyday in peace.”
“My love endures.”
And, somehow, I feel like dropping everything and running to open the riches of God’s Word – one by one. I want to see what else, what other encouragement God speaks over my heart. Here’s what I uncover:
1. God’s affection lasts for me – forever. He is always good. (Psalm 100:5)
2. His love, uncontaminated and unblemished, knocks fear down. (1 Jo. 4:18)
3. He adores me. I am his loved daughter (1 Jo. 3:1)
4. He doesn’t love only sometimes, a little, on occasion, randomly, now and then, no. He loves lavishly. (1 Jo. 3:1)
5. He sees my pain, my suffering, my injury. He essentially says, “Those ones, I love them so much, I will die for them.” (Ro. 5:8)
6. God nearly cries with our cries. He understands our turmoil. (1 Jo. 4:9)
7. He gives us, Christians, the right to eat from the tree of life, in paradise. (Rev. 2:7)
8. He chooses me, not because I am great, but because he is good. He has good plans to use me for his glory. (1 Pet. 2:9)
9. He won’t let anyone, no way, no how, snatch us out of his hand. We are his and he wants us. (Jo. 10:28)
10. He takes us and makes us more than ourselves, making us more and more holy, until we look a whole lot like him. (Jo. 10:28)
And, what my heart runs, straight into, is the idea – God is wonderful. He is my greatest gift. I can open up a part of him everyday. And, somehow, with this, it seems like I am experiencing Christmas all over again.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
When you have toddlers, you have to make a lot of trips to the bathroom. It’s never too fun either. Public bathrooms ARE ENEMY #1!
So, when I walked in and saw a lady doing what I am about to tell you, my stomach turned. It flipped and flopped and, all I can tell you is, my eyes so badly wanted to squint tight, silently telling her, “What the heck are you doing?”
Lined up on the counter were six triangular shaped pieces of toilet paper in a row. Each one of them had blood drenched tips. In her nose were two wads stuck up tight. She pulled them out – more blood.
This is disgusting! Who does this?
After finally getting dear daughter all set, we pushed out the door and played with the toys right beyond the bathroom door. But, as I sat, God pricked, “Kelly, where is your compassion. What happened to your heart?”
I remembered another woman. She was a bloody woman too. She was so bloody she was legally unclean. She was disgusting, she was deplorable. She was a societal “issue”.
For 12 years she lived like a walking fountain of sickness (Luke 8:43), likely shunned, scorned, and embarrassed. Likely, feeling like she even hated herself. Likely, feeling alone.
Did people even care to know what was wrong with her? Did people hate to see “her issue”?
I am just like them.
Who disgusts you?
What issue do you hate to look at?
What makes you sick?
“And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.” (Luke 8:46)
She simply touched his hem, but did you notice what Jesus gave this woman? What he handed out? I have not heard in other places Jesus mention “virtue” as his healing.
Virtue in greek means dunamis.
Dunamis = power & might
Jesus restores not just what outwardly plagues us, but restores insecurity and worry
with power and might.
It looks a lot like blood; blood poured out on the cross.
The lowly one healing.
The hated one loving.
The despicable blood moving, transforming, reforming…
To be like Jesus, we might consider doing the same – extending our strength to the unworthy? God’s kindness leads to repentance, after all (Romans 2:4).
Who do you need to offer virtue to?
What if, when you get brushed against disgusting and despicable, you – strengthened the person?
Telling them God cares.
Showing your heart.
Explaining that you want to see theirs.
Offering compassion with no strings attached.
Letting your heart come to life…
I am not saying it will be easy, because the last thing I wanted to do was approach that lady. But, as she walked out the door, head down, and eyes trying to quickly catch my disdain – it is exactly what I wish I would have done. I only wish, I would have stopped her, talked to her, understood her and, maybe even, prayed for her.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
I am delighted today to welcome Diane Maudsley, both a friend and a passionate women’s ministry director to share her story for Ministry Monday. As you will see, God proves he can reach anyone at anytime. Who are you hoping he reaches? Don’t lose hope…
When the time is right, God will get the right message in front of their sight.
Diane’s story proves this…
It was Easter Sunday, 27 years ago, when the grace of God visited my small apartment living room as I knelt in front of the television listening to an evangelist teaching about forgiveness.
That day was by far one of the most, if not THE most, impactful days in my spiritual walk with God.
I had grown up learning about God, hearing about His magnificence and power, learning in Church and in Christian schools that He created me and this great world, and I knew all about His Son, Jesus, …but did I, really?
My soul was lost and desperate – it was searching the TV airwaves (there was no internet or iPhone then of course) for a glimmer of hope for my wretched life.
The man on TV called it “Resurrection Sunday”! He was looking right into the camera (into MY eyes). He told me Jesus died on the cross to forgive ME of MY sins…!!!
Why had I felt like I have never heard that before?
Why did it feel like I was hearing this for the very first time???
27 years later I can tell you why, spoken best by the words of Paul the apostle:“Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation…” (Eph. 3:2-3)
I was given a gift, a “revelation,” as I tuned to the right place at the right time for my heart, my soul, and my mind to receive this free gift of grace from heaven!
It was MY day of visitation!
Have you experienced yours?
When you open your heart to welcome God in,
surprisingly you find he walks right in.
Just as the veil or curtain was torn in the temple when Jesus died on the cross, the veil was removed from my eyes so I could see the Lord’s true forgiveness and grace!
Before this moment, while my life’s journey had taken me on many shallow roads of “doing good,” I was not standing on the solid ground of salvation, therefore I strayed from the “path of righteousness,” being easily swayed by temptation.
Do you subtly stray?
Does temptation often call your name?
Does that thought scare you?
Today I am the mother of 3 amazing gifts from God, my daughter who is 23, a son who is 20 and another son, who is 17.
Sure, it is scary, knee-worthy even, but because of my experience with a saving knowledge of God and His Son’s sacrifice on the cross and glorious Resurrection, I can rest assured that God is in control of their lives, just like He is in control of mine. I pray that they will have great testimonies of redemption and grace in their lives as they find Christ and follow Him to their destinies.
Resurrection always waits:“Wake up sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14)
It calls us to more:“Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies” (Psalm 107:2)
Will you answer?
When I was set on the path of righteousness my life truly began anew. The road was not easy, but it was alive and hopeful and I declare to you today that I have been redeemed from the enemies of shame, guilt and regret.
Let’s remain awake and alive, shining the light of Christ everywhere we go.
God used a television evangelist that morning in my life. May He awaken the sleepers and use our testimonies to raise up a shining army that brings hope to those dwelling in darkness!
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
About Diane Maudsley
Diane has been Women’s Ministry Director for Hope Church in Wilton, CT for 6 years and loves the women she gets to serve! She thrives on seeing a woman’s faith grow and come alive through the reading and study of God’s Word.
When she isn’t serving at her church, she is teaching horseback riding to children, most of whom have special needs. She is a PATH certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor since 2011 and loves seeing the children come to life on the back of a horse!
You may remember the stories about it, but do you feel it?
Do you live in a way where love compels you?
Paul says it is one thing “to know”, it is another to experience.
And I pray that you…(may) grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:17-19)
Love surpasses knowledge. Imagine that.
Often I run after knowledge, as if it will bring me to where I need to go, but only love compels real progress.
Everything that is monumental in God’s Word boils down to love:
Jesus heals. Love.
Jesus dies. Love.
Jesus washes feet. Love.
Jesus teaches. Love.
Jesus guides. Love.
Eternity awaits. Love.
Jesus created experiences, so that people could experience. Do we?
Some days, I wake up with a task list, a group of verses I must get through, pages I must turn, knowledge to acquire, but, what I have noticed in doing this is, often, an internal pressure builds. It wars against peace, saying, “Kelly, increase”. Increase in being knowledgable. Increase in know-how. Increase in doing.
Yet, God is peace. He is the only thing that should increase- and his love found in the power of sitting, being and absorbing truth into the very molecules of my existence.
…That I “may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:19)
Word of caution: If you are trying, more than abiding, every time this is a red flag. You likely aren’t getting full of God – you’re probably getting full of yourself.
I see this in myself; when I end up trying to know, I end up failing to grow, but when I let God’s love flow, when I find a new glow.
It is in the seeing, feeling and being that God takes our hands, gently holds it and walks us up to internal healing.
Paul explains to the Ephesians the wealth they will receive from understanding rather than acquiring things of God.
Paul says to know God, rather than just knowing about him is to:
1. Be strengthened with his power (Eph. 3:16)
2. Dwell (or Exist) with Christ in faith (Eph. 3:17)
3. Move with the power to understand (Eph. 3:16)
4. Experience love (Eph. 3:18)
5. Bask in the depths of this love (Eph. 3:17)
6. Be full of life (Eph. 3:19)
Living like this means living no longer running on low, just trying to find new gas to feel good. It means walking into the immersive waters of grace and laying down, knowing that with God, he will protect, guard and keep your life stable in everything that is him.
God’s love is with you.
He is patient;
his leadings are kind.
Not so you can boast,
or find fame (1 Cor. 13:4-6).
He knows, this kind of love does not endure.
God is patient,
seeing past wrongs,
not envisioning anger
or keeping bad records (1 Cor. 13:4-6).
His love endures forever (1 Chron. 16:34).
God delights when you let truth takes root in your heart.
He rejoices over his love within.
For you rising up from it.
Persevering (1 Cor. 13:4-6).
So sink down to where love is risky and then just wade in the trust of #God.
Then you’ll start looking like him.
You know what matters most: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13)
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
Focus on what looks disgusting, deplorable and delinquent of any merit.
What is it in your life?
Perhaps it is a car, you hate.
A child you’ve grown angry at.
Another’s bad habits that annoy.
A person who deeply hurt you.
Shoes that you’re tired of wearing.
A wait that should be long over.
A health that has left you in ruins.
Feelings that always seem to lead you astray.
A spouse who continually leaves you hurt.
When you stop to see the dirt for what it is, you start to see the life could emerge from under it.
It is there, you just can’t see it. There is more; you’re eyes just focus on the filth. Yet, under it is the wealth of the new thing that God wants you to see.
After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. Jo. 13:5
Jesus got on his knees, emerged into the filth, moved along from man-to-man, hands commingling in the water of disgust and offered the ultimate act of love to those least deserving.
Jesus washed the feet of rejection, Judas.
Jesus washed the feet of denial, Peter.
Jesus washed the feet of abandoners.
(as they fled from the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion), the disciples (Mt. 26:56). Jesus washed the feet of you and me when the blood of Christ spilled over our grime.
Sacrificing, he allowed the nails in.
Enduring, he listened to the jabs.
Giving up, he trusted his Father’s will.
Humbling himself, he gave up his own very life.
Loving, he forgave even in his own worst hour of pain.
Jesus never allowed rejection and abandonment to
block his water of lavish love
that makes hearts sparkle out of the darkness of impossible.
Whose feet do you need to wash?
Perhaps what you see as crud, has been allowed by God above,
because you are just the one to bring God’s love.
Love to yourself. Love to your conditions. Love towards God who has allowed it. Love to that person who feels like a pet peeve. Love to children. Love to aging parents. Love to your heart that fails. Love to that person you can’t forgive.
Love, displaying itself in the most humble form.
Wash the feet. Forget the offense – and know God is on defense. Let go of the pride – and see the other side. Remember Christ cleansed of you – so you can wash with a heart of ministry too. Watch and see what will come – knowing it is God’s will being done. Trust by faith in uncertainty – so you can get down on bended knee. Watch the mountain move – knowing you have nothing to prove.
Let go and let Christ do the work, and he will. He will wash through your hands, love through your eyes, lead through your will, speak through your mouth, guide through your feet, listen to your prayers and hand back cleanliness, in those moments when you yourself fail.
He will empower you so that you can move into the stink, the stench and the repugnant to do what you never expect: hold it close with the heart to repair what is broken.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Mt. 19:26
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
I love the picture presented here of a path. It’s not a room filled with light or the light as bright as the noonday. It’s just enough light for the path ahead. God’s Word is the source of light.
You may have your own dark cloud that looms directly overhead causing everything to seem dull and difficult to see. Darkness comes in many forms. For me it can be ignited by circumstances beyond my control, fear of the future and discouragement that quickly turns into depression. You may not have a cloud of fear and feelings like me, but your darkness may manifest itself in the form of shattered dreams, prayers yet to be answered or circumstances that make you wonder if God has completely forgotten about you.
As I think about my dark clouds and the light I know I need and desperately desire, God is drawing me near. When I allow His light to brighten my path, my thoughts are transformed and I remember the familiar essence of His light.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17
I had been a Christian for seventeen years at the time my fourteen-year-old son Jacob and five others were killed while on a missionary trip in Mexico.
Over the next eight years I demanded an explanation. I wanted to trust God again. They say trust is earned, could God re-earn my trust? Is that a fair question to ask? It eventually occurred to me that there’d be no one better to trust than the One who died for me—no one had invested more.
I decided to return to the place I first met God, I opened my bible and let Him reason with me through His Word. I found that pride was standing in the way of my healing. The only way out of this bitter downward spiral would be to admit that God was blameless and release the resentment held against Him. It was after humbly laying my broken heart at His feet that God revealed Himself in a way that healed my broken spirit. I finally was able to form these words, “Lord, this isn’t the life I would have chosen, but I’ll receive it. Please teach me from it.”
I found God again. He had been waiting there at the core of all my pain. I discovered something else—pain and joy could coexist within me. I could experience the sting of Jake’s death yet at the very same time feel the joy of the Lord without having to pretend I was OK with what happened. You see, I’m not OK with it; I’m not going to be OK with it. I loved Jacob and losing him hurt. The truth is there’s no explanation for his death this side of heaven that will ever satisfy me. Jacob is irreplaceable in my life—but so is Jesus Christ and I couldn’t afford to lose them both.
I used to pride myself on the lists I could make and accomplish.
If I didn’t finish the whole list, no one saw the list, even the things I’d done. I’d sulk and be surly to my family, which was an expression of how I felt worthless inside.
God’s Word says the following about me, oh and by the way…I can do nothing to earn it! I am the apple of His eye, I am a Saint, I am redeemed and forgiven (Hallelujah!), I am free from condemnation, I am established, anointed and sealed by God, and most of all I am complete in Christ!
What broke me free from worthlessness, list making, and achievement-based love was confession and then choosing to believe God.
I have made a reference of scriptures identifying who I am as a new creation in Christ. I try to read them every day to ingrain into my heart so I have a new go-to thought for when Satan tries to tempt me to think the old thoughts.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. Psalm 94: 19
How might the pain, hurt and fear I’ve experienced since a little child be worked into something good?
As a child, I started trusting the actions and words of brokenness above the actions and words of God in my life. Idolizing the love and acceptance of humans exacerbated the fear within me. And with anxiety multiplying within me, the inherent fear that I would never be good enough, I lent into my own prideful self-control to numb it away. I sought to deny the existence of the fear by striving to perform, to be the best possible student, lover, wife, mother and friend.
Fleeing from fear gave me a semblance of control, but also festered an anger and exhaustion within me because no matter how hard I tried, I could never live up to the perfection I strived after. And so the fear would rear its ugly head repeatedly and I’d turn to anger to stifle it, anger at myself boiling within me and compounding the exhaustion from my attempts at perfection.
If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you’ll lose it, but if you let that life go, you’ll get life on God’s terms. Luke 17: 33 (The Message)
I am choosing to trust that just as His Word promises He WILL go before me (Deuteronomy 31:8), preparing the path (Isaiah 43) and working ALL things together for my good (Romans 8: 28).
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. Isaiah 11:3-4
Do we imagine Jesus sees through the same judgmental lens we do?
He doesn’t. He couldn’t.
Jesus looks past our outward self. Past our lazy or selfish actions. He doesn’t hear the harsh words we spoke in fear and anger. He doesn’t seek out the dirty windows of our situation, glorying in the smears of our circumstances.
Jesus’ eyes look upon us in love, His ears hear the cries of our heart because he isn’t fooled by outward appearances.
He’s not fooled by my surface niceness that overlies a judgmental heart. He’s not fooled by the outward actions that hide a broken heart.
Jesus sees and hears our inward selves. There is no hiding or pretence around him.
Have you had to make a choice that you knew was right but that you thought you would regret? I have. Over and over again.
Recently, I turned down a job offer. For a position I’ve prayed for for years. With enough hours to bolster our bank account. Every bit of knowledge I have dictated that I ought to find a way to make t work, that this was the opportunity I’d been waiting for. The Lord told me no. When I said yes to Him and no to the offer, I thought I would regret it soon.
Romans 8:27-28 tells us that “He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (MSG)
God erases regret because regret is about my way –and when that slate is clean…
He makes beautiful works of art that are better than anything I could ever dream.
Today I’m glad I turned down that job. I’m so glad we didn’t get the cat then with all the housing turmoil we later unexpectedly experienced (and the dog we were able to get eventually instead!)
I’m glad that money has kept us at times from making decisions to do things more “typically” because we’ve had some amazing relationships out of it. I’m glad for some of my worst moments because without some of the mistakes and brokenness I’ve regretted, I would never have let people into my heart as far as I have.
Each of us gets a bit overgrown at times. We settle into our habits, our routines. We relax into the momentary mundane. It happens. God knows that in order for us to continually be growing and maturing, He needs to prune away the dead, unfruitful leaves and limbs.
He needs to carefully trim the excess, the residue that weighs us down and prevents us from growing, from becoming, from thriving.
Pruning isn’t a punishment. Pruning is an act of love. God loves you. He celebrates you. He longs for you to experience the fullness of your identity. He delights in His handiwork. He declares you beautiful. Whole. Complete.
In John 15:2 (NIV) Scripture says, He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
James 1:2-4 (NIV) tells us to, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
“You are my rock and salvation, my fortress and strength…”
I continued to repeat my mish mash verse. In the chemo chair, waiting for lab results, watching my kids giggle, receiving a meal from a friend, fighting nausea, popping pills.
“You are my rock and salvation, my fortress and strength” Ps 62:1-2
Little by little the fears started to loosen their grip and trusting the Lord seemed easier. I found that when we allow God into our pain, He loves to sit with us, hold us, rub our backs and remind us who we are.
At my weakest, when the emotional and physical pain dragged me into the slimy pit, clambering onto God’ rock was impossible unless I clung to God’s promises.
Repeating God’s promises defeats the enemy, sparks hope in our bellies and throws fuel on the fire of faith. With that flicker of hope fanning the flames of faith we are able to trust God with anything. And I mean ANYTHING.
Because when you’re diagnosed with rectal cancer the bottom falls out of your world and then, I’m afraid to say that, the world falls out of your bottom. Laughter and God’s promises really are the best medicine.
The problem is that when we lose our job, when relationships end, when our home goes under foreclosure, when the money we take home dwindles and when our past haunts our future – we begin to question ourselves.
We feel like damaged goods, valueless.
We feel insecure and vulnerable.
However, when we base our worth on who God says we are, everything around us can shake, yet we’re able to stand firm. With an identity in Christ, we’re able to tear down strongholds and strip away labels.
It’s not who you are but whose you are. It’s not what you did but what He did.
Who were are derives from who God says we are, not society.
The Bible says we are, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm, 139:14)
The Bible says we are, “chosen, holy and blameless before God.” (Ephesians 1:4)
The Bible says we are, “an incredible work of art.” (Ephesians 2:10)
When we grab hold of truth, we no longer face an identity crisis. Instead, we’ll see an identity breakthrough.
When Jesus found the disciples failing in their nightlong fishing trip, He could have told them to take up their nets and follow Him to a new, bountiful area of the sea.
They moved their nets, only seven feet across the width of the boat, and cast it on the other side. And as their weary hands obeyed the Master, the bounty came forth.
Do you feel discouraged today, my friend?
Is it the same boat, the same spot, the same fishing technique, over and over again for months, perhaps years?
Remember: If you are in the center of God’s will, walking in obedience with Him, you are where God wants you to be. The circumstances you are in may be uncomfortable, and you may be ready to move on to a better fishing spot. However, unless the Master calls you to move from where you are… Remain…
He is working a fruit eternal in your life. He is molding you as you cast your net over and over again. He is strengthening you as you choose to trust Him, even though you are tired and weary.
And when you feel too tired to go on, remember this: It is the Master Himself, who, after your toilsome, disheartening failures, keeps calling out to you:
And let me tell you, it was the most beautiful Christmas season I can remember in a long time.
God provides for His own. It is pointless to get up early, work hard, and go to bed late anxiously laboring for food to eat; for God provides for those He loves, even while they are sleeping. Psalm 127:2 Voice
I gave up my belief that taking time to rest was being lazy. I thought I’d see if what others said was true… that I would still be able to get everything done in time–and probably more–if I took time to rest.
I can’t sit here and say it was easy, because it wasn’t. I battled my entrenched habits and pretenses. But, the desire for God to have His way in me was greater than the desire to strive for the perfect holiday, and end up being sick again.
The Eternal, the Everlasting God, The Creator of the whole world, never gets tired or weary. His wisdom is beyond understanding. God strengthens the weary and gives vitality to those worn down by age and care. Young people will get tired; strapping young men will stumble and fall. But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength. They will soar on wings as eagles. They will run—never winded, never weary. They will walk—never tired,never faint. Isaiah 40:28-31 Voice
We may think we don’t have time to rest, but truly, we can’t afford not to.
Sometimes, I look at my family and think, “I want to give you so much more. I want to love you more. I want to be there for you more.”
I have this longing, but then the action seems far from me. I grew up believing that you just work harder, you try harder and you push harder to do the right thing. You simply give your best effort and then God will love you, then you might be good enough, then you might make it through those pearly gates of glory.
But, striving only ends up producing in an overworked blown-out child.
Striving gives us the false belief salvation is on our shoulders and not God’s.
Striving pushes the need for love far and the will of self first and foremost.
Amidst all this striving, it is almost impossible to let the love of Christ’s sacrifice pour over you? Just think, there is no sitting with working. No relying with striving. No space for grace. It is called captive service.
You serve and do and be for God–or you don’t get in!
This makes me think, where is the love?
Even more, no matter how amazing our parents were, no matter how fantastic their love – the plain ‘ole fashioned truth is that they can never love us like Jesus did. They have flaws. And because of their inadequacies and flaws, we learn an inadequately flawed love too. We walk receiving, knowing and giving partial love.
So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child,
God has made you also an heir. Gal 4:7
Even God gets this point. This is why he tells us we are not a slave: a captive striver, an excessive worker, a ruled-over peon, an owned tool or a beaten serf. No. God tells us rather, that we sit in the full glory of who he is.
We are fully loved by the only one who created the definition of love. We are God’s child.
We get the glorious inheritance that is only stored away for God’s own. We are heirs.
We have the same love line as Christ running through us. His DNA is power. We are God’s child.
We are secure in what our father wants to bestow on us; our laziness can’t push it away. We are heirs.
We are new creations, being reformed into the full image of Jesus Christ. We are God’s child.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,
if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Ro. 8:17
May your sufferings not be seen as agony,
but as gifts that confirm your destiny.
May your pain not be run away from,
but held as the ticket that shows how loved you are.
May your agony not be lived in agony,
for it is simply a precursor to the glory that will shine on you.
Because your whole self is sealed in a way that can never be torn apart. The Spirit lives in you. You can never eliminate his presence or the temple in you, as a child of God.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” Eph 1:13
The Spirit confirms your belonging.
The Spirit speaks to your very heart.
The Spirit leads you in all truth.
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Ro. 8:16
No matter what turn we make, as a child of God, we are united with the Spirit that confirms our Father’s love. It holds us in all love, safety and significance. This eternal kingdom, belonging to “the children”, cannot be undone. Or erased. It is finished, on our behalf, by Jesus Christ.
Now, we can walk love. We can be love. Real love. Not from a place of doing, but simply from a place of being. Being a son or daughter of the most high king.
It hits me with a sledgehammer a lot. Normally, it concentrates it’s whacks in one place. For me, it is in my mothering. So often, I ask myself: Am I fun enough? Caring enough? Playful enough? Instructional enough? I walk around trying my hardest, while, all at the same time, feeling at my neediest, my guiltiest.
Just the other day, my 4-year old son looked at me and said, “Mommy, I love daddy a little bit more than you.”
HUH? After all I do for you! (then the tsunami rushed over me sweeping away all value I have as a mother).
Do you, son?
Yes, but not a ton, just a little bit more.
May I ask you why?
Well, you look a little strange, mom. I mean, your body is more odd than mine. If you were like daddy and me, then I would love you the same.
And there you have it. While I was walking around defeated, hunched over and breathless at the thought of piles and mounds and landfills of failing, my son was just being a 4-year old in his 4-year old world. He was simply saying, it’s not you mommy, it’s just a phase.
How often do we look at things that have nothing to do with us
and immediately feelings of guilt?
In a way, we load up all the bad things about ourselves into a huge offering of inadequacy and put it before the feet of Jesus and say, “I stink. What are you going to do about it?”
Certainly we don’t want to do the opposite and act like this: “This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth, and says, ‘I have done no wrong.’” Prov. 30:20
One unable to see their wrongs is one
unable to allow Jesus to make them right.
Yet, we have no need for this: When anyone is unfaithful to the LORD by sinning unintentionally in regard to any of the LORD’s holy things, they are to bring to the LORD as a penalty a ram from the flock, one without defect…It is a guilt offering. Lev. 5:15
Sacrificing our own animal instincts, unloved emotions and bad feelings upon an altar of guilt is not a standard that God upholds anymore.
So, why do we keep doing it?
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor. 5:21
The one without defect is not found in our self.
The one without defect is not admonished of guilts
through a continuous offering of side effects.
The one without defect never has been and never will be us.
The one without defect is the one sledgehammered to a cross to abolish us from the painful rendering of guilt-laced feelings so long ago.
If we feel unsure. His blood says, “Do your best and trust me with the rest.”
If we reside in shame, his blood says, “Don’t hang out with lowly feelings, let me clean you through my healing.”
If we sin, his blood says, “Confess and know that I have covered that.”
What cause to celebrate! What need to rejoice! What once noosed us has no rope. What held us back is no longer the starting gate we can’t leap out of. What cripples us is let go in the free grace of Jesus’ love.
A love that says, “Live free. I will take you to where you need to go, trust me in the process. I don’t demand no flaws, just full trust.”
As I look at my Savior, I see full acceptance. And I see that what grips me so often is gripping his life out of me.
Do you live by the pulse of your feelings
or do you live by the pulse of God’s great heart beating only for you?
Lord, may our conscience align with your truth. Not the truth of our feelings, but only truth as only outlined by your Word. May we live full of the fact that you are not demanding perfection, but are aware of our imperfection until the day that you make it complete in Christ Jesus. More and more we are growing into you. Until then, we have all we need to live complete. Give us a fresh outpouring of your grace, so that we can know it and live it. Amen.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.