Where’s the passion I used to have? The determination to run with strength? The boldness?
I hear people think-out-loud along these lines. They wonder how their motivation disappeared, or why they procrastinate or feel so stuck. They can’t seem to rev their wheels anymore. They get stuck in the mud.
I relate. I’ve tried to get started on certain projects and then they’ve just — fallen through. Not all the issues are me, but still — the outcome feels embarrassing.
Ever been there? Maybe you have a big dream but you haven’t followed through. You have hopes for a relationship. You want to stop a bad habit. Or, go a new way…but you just can’t seem to succeed. There seems to be a stopper right ahead of you.
This morning, this verse spoke to me in a powerful way:
“So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us…” (Heb 12: 1-2)
I must let go — to go. It is only by letting go of old wounds and sin that I can run ahead. For, no one can run effectively ahead while looking back. To run looking behind you is to run into things. To bang yourself up. Reconsidering and rehashing (aka. looking back) prohibits one from seeing the good thing God has ahead.
I realize I must (REALLY) let go of what lays behind me. Only then, can I “run life’s race with passion and determination.” Only then can I easily go down God’s path already “marked out” before (me).
God offers me a new beginning today. He gives you one too! Wonder is knowing that Jesus presents us with an endless amount of new beginnings. Today you start over. Repent if you need to… Then, you trust that the Author and Perfector of faith, Jesus Christ, is doing His best work. Believe that the Shepherd of all shepherds is protecting you from what happened in days of old. Fully rely on The Light of the World to illuminate your world in an exciting and joy-filled way.
When we look ahead at the beauty of Him, we won’t as much want to look back. Instead, I believe, we’ll move with fervor, passion, and excitement, like never before. We’ll be able to perceive the light of His goodness ahead. We will focus on Jesus, and with Him, we’ll go again.
Prayer: God, give us the grace to let go of what lays behind. We don’t want to look back anymore and miss what is ahead. Come and help us to look to Jesus, constantly. Give us undivided attention and renewed fervor. We love you. We want to live all-out for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
It’s your self-hatred.
It’s your hand that wants to slap yourself sometimes.
It’s that memory that classifies you as horrible.
It’s the action that ruined who you are.
It’s the person and what they did that you can’t get past.
It’s what holds you captive to the flesh.
Shame moves as unending pain…
You get angry at yourself about it. You hate that part of you. If you could scalpel away the emotions, you might. But, you can’t, because you feel stuck; you’ve been branded as sinful, horrible or tainted.
I know – shame. Shame is this little beast that lives inside. What he does is summon up guilt, guilt so insurmountable it’s untamable. Then, that very guilt goes so wild; he rips apart holy.
He tells you…
“You can’t be a temple, when you were tempted and tainted in that way.”
“You can’t be God’s child, when you hurt another like that.”
“You can’t be in God’s light, when you found yourself so sullied in the dark.”
“You can’t win when you’ve already decided your inadequacies make you a loser.”
“You can’t be of worth, when everyone else has declared you – worth nothing.”
If Jesus is hero, shame is enemy #1.
This enemy captured me for a large portion of my life. I declared myself, silently, as an unworthy follower of Jesus because shame spouted off his propoganda – and I listened! I knew truth, but I couldn’t accept it. I knew who I was, and I figured, God knew too. We had a silent agreement – shh… I wasn’t good enough.
Are you living by a silent agreement?
Shame takes sons and daughters, ones declared pure as snow and tells them they’re as tarnished as sin. He says, “Wash as you may, but your disgust and disdain can never be washed off.”
How has he marked you irredeemable?
He marked me too. I finally realized something, however: I can’t walk free if I am walking chained. Seriously. It’s an either/or choice.
Either I will walk in the fullness of freedom or I will walk in the chains of shame. And, at risk of sounding too simplistic, because I know making your way to the other side can seem like a mountain-wide length of difference, in some ways it is a simple belief that frees us.
All things are possible. (Mt. 19:26)
Even more than what you believe possible – is possible. (Eph 3:20)
There is almost nothing more God wants to do than to free you. (Lu. 4:18)
So, what feels impossible to let go of, with God, is possible. What feels insurmountable to forgive yourself for, with God, is forgiven. What feels unspeakable and incarcerated in the jail-cell of “don’t talk about it” – is let go by God’s grace.
The Lord reaches his hand out to you. Will today be the day you grab it? For, he wants to lead you somewhere. He wants to bring you to more. He wants to set you free so you set others free. Open up and let Jesus sit down with you right now. Let him wrap you in the cover of forgiven and forgotten, and thrown as far as the East is from the West. He longs to bring warmth to the cold lies shame has told you for so very long.
Dear Lord Jesus, right now, I ask you to draw near to my friends who are suffering in shame. Perhaps they’ve been suffering for a long, long time. Perhaps, right now, they feel undone. Perhaps, they don’t know what to do. Put your arms around them. Pour out your love. May they see your face of compassion and redemption. May they know your heart to love them. I pray they hand over what is not theirs to carry any longer. May they know you carried it on the cross. It is finished, done and over. May they release it now into your great abyss of love. Amen.
At a recent doctor’s appointment, I learned my physician suspected that the greatest health crisis I was facing was… dehydration. That’s right, I am thirsty.
I consider myself fairly intelligent when it comes to health and nutrition. I confess, I am embarrassed by this diagnosis. Alas, I knew he was correct. And the fact of the matter is, I don’t have time to drink eight, 8 oz. glasses of water a day. On the days I do get that much water in my thirsty body, I don’t have time to make it to the bathroom in an efficient ratio of water in, urine out… so I am fairly miserable for 90% of the 64 ounces.
Needless to say, I left my doctor’s office feeling defeated, depleted and discouraged. There isn’t any way that my scale can be ten pounds lower than his. Is he just a vindictive mad scientist? I sat in my car and had a hale and hearty cry and then as I examined myself in the mirror, I began to multitask. I reapplied mascara and lip gloss while listing all things I find most awful about myself.
Horrible at math, mostly weights and measures.
And the worst of all… mean.
I am a very mean girl.
I called the friend who was babysitting our young son and two foster placements and told her I would be there in an hour. I went to the store and bought her a lovely fall floral arrangement and the ingredients to put a fragrant squash soup in her crock pot for dinner. Crusty bread and an apple pie were added to my basket.
I would take great care of my friend for helping me.
On my way to the checkout, I stopped and grabbed chocolates for my sister, my husband’s favorite cookies, and the children’s favored frozen pizza. I scurried to the other side of the store and thoughtfully picked lovely greeting cards to bless my friends, our foster-daughter’s birth mom and her caseworker too. Just before I checked out, I filled my basket with an abundance of toiletries for our three oldest children who are at college. Then I made my way to the gift wrapping aisle to find bright colored bags to put the shampoos, shaving gels, creams, lotions, and deodorants in; if I hurried I could leave the bags at their dorms before I picked up my babies.
When I climbed back in my car, quite pleased with the purchases, I would bless my darlings with, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Immediately I began to admonish myself, I forgot to grab myself any water. I rehashed the list of my faults:
And the worst of all… mean.
I am a very mean girl.
About that time my daughter called to ask about my doctor appointment. I reported to her my struggle and she chirped, “OH MY GOSH MOM! You must get this new app! It’s called plant nanny!”
I followed her instructions and downloaded the app. I picked a cute little cartoon plant and begrudgingly entered my weight and read my results. The plant nanny decided how much water I must drink to keep my little imaginary plant conscious alive. The little seedling blinked at me with trusting animated eyes and I cooed at the psychological entrapment that would force me to drink enough water to nurture the cybernetic life into a blooming dependant illusion.
Over the next few days, I became more diligent in my pursuit of water. My iPhone would alert, my little make-believe Japanese succulent would bat her eyes at me and I would drink, click, and apply “water” to my H2O conscious companion. I treated that animated being like royalty, then on the 4th day, a tragedy arose.
I lost my phone.
I turned the house upside down, it was nowhere to be found. Later that evening, I recovered my phone between the couch cushions. When I opened the plant nanny app I knew immediately, the app had died of thirst.
Killer of simulated Japanese succulents…
And the familiar voice hummed in my ears, “You are so mean… you were so good to tend to that imaginary plant. You are so kind to your neighbors, orphans, and case workers. You observe such careful and tedious attention to everyone, but you are so mean to My girl.”
I know this to be true.
The things that come out of my mouth toward myself are brutal. The TLC I afford those around me is stellar. The attention I bestowed upon the animated succulent … was criminal compared to the neglected efforts I make to grab myself, His girl – an artless glass of water.
I am most convicted of this, I may look as though I love my neighbor… but how could I possibly when I so blatantly despise myself? How can I be so hard and ugly to the daughter of the Most High? How can I spend so much energy on what I deem righteous and be so cruel to myself? He who died for me, that I might be called blameless… His girl. I agreed with Him. It was not what He wanted for me. He wants me to recognize, I am clothed in His goodness. He sees me as perfected. He adores me as His own.
I have neglected the gift of my inheritance, daughter of Jehovah. I deleted my plant nanny app. I applied mascara and powdered my nose. I grabbed my glass off the table and filled it with new water.
Water that this beautiful girl needs to bless the nations with wealth, prosperity and the Good News of Jesus Christ.
A champion for the little guy, a woman on a mission. Refreshed and adequately warned, don’t mess with His girl.
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God – a sweet fragrance. Ephesians 5: 2
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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.
It was the tipping point. The beginning of the fall. No, it wasn’t a crash, a sudden impact dive that you didn’t see coming. I saw this coming. I could feel it making its way toward me and yet, I was entirely helpless to stop it.
It was a slow, distinct unraveling. That moment where you can feel the wheels teetering ever so slightly out of balance until the whole thing comes unhinged. My heart, that is.
This was the season of my undoing.
I was quite certain I had never planned for this. My life was a well-structured agenda of fortitude, perseverance, accomplishments. They needed me in some misconstrued way, yet I needed them more.
From my earliest memories, I can recall that feeling, deep in my bones, that insane and horrific gnawing that I was not enough. That I would have to prove myself. I needed to be special. I needed to feel worthy. Loved.
I heard people say, If you try hard enough, you can accomplish anything.
I believed them.
So I set my face like flint against the wind, I measured my sails, and I set out to prove my worth to the world.
Whatever it takes, that was my motto.
Whether that meant hours of studying or practicing to be good enough. Whether it meant endless miles running wrapped in plastic wrap to be skinny enough, I did it. That was me.
I thought there would be some point where I arrived. Where I would attain. Where I would be enough.
Yet, inside I knew there was something adrift. If I was quiet enough, I could hear the tremors begin to quake. I felt the muffled pangs just beneath the surface.
I told myself, Just keep pushing and everything will turn out fine.
So I kept pushing. I pushed real good for awhile. I achieved what many said I’d never achieve. Nobody noticed the foundation beginning to crumble around me. I noticed.
I wanted to be healed. I longed to know what wholeness felt like. I craved peace more than anything I could imagine.
That must be for someone else, I thought, but it must not be for me.
I often felt like the woman in Scripture reaching out, desperate to touch the threads that lined the hem of Jesus’ robe. Surely if I could touch Him, she must have thought, then I would be healed. (Mark 5:21-34)
I understood the longing of the blind man, who day after day, hoped and prayed that he would one day see. How could he have known his Savior, his Healer would come with a little clay and a little spit near the pool of Siloam and give him everything he’d ever hoped for. How? (John 9:1-12)
I could see myself like Peter, shivering in the waves and wind as he stepped out of the boat onto the Sea of Galilee. If only I had enough fortitude to keep my eyes on Jesus, I could have walked on water without sinking beneath the waves of doubt and fear that pulled me under. (Matthew 14:22-33)
And then my healing came. Not in the way you’d expect. Jesus ushered me into a sacred place. A sacred season. Jesus led me to this season of healing and He never let go.
I heard Him whisper to me, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
I needed rest.
God gave me rest and He gave me so much more. Over the years of my healing journey, I discovered an abundance that was more than I had ever imagined. God was showing me how to build and live a life of peace. It was all I had ever hoped for. Longed for. To breathe. To feel solid and sure. To experience wholeness. To experience abundance. Physical abundance, spiritual abundance, emotional abundance.
3 Ways To Walk From Pain to Peace
Embrace Maximized HOPE! – Without a doubt your hope lies first and foremost in the person of Jesus Christ. He is your foundation spiritually, emotionally, and physically. As you learn to appropriate His hope, His healing into the emotional area of your life, you will experience the fullness, the abundance of hope He promises.
Jeremiah 29:11(NIV) states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Discover Complete WHOLENESS! – God wants you to be not only healed, but whole. God doesn’t want his children limping through life, barely surviving. He wants you to thrive. He wants you to discover your unique calling, your passion and purpose so that you can make a difference for His kingdom. As individuals become whole, the entire body of Christ becomes whole.
2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP) tells us that, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well- balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”
Enjoy Enduring HARMONY! – You were not meant to live in chaos. Your relationships were never supposed to be a rollercoaster of pain and disappointment. God wants us to learn how to foster peace and strength in our relationships so that we can enjoy them without being dependent on them for our happiness or wellbeing.
Romans 15:5-6 (AMP) shares, “Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may [unanimously] with united hearts and one voice, praise and glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).
You don’t have to keep trying so hard to prove your worth. You don’t have to keep pushing, hoping that everything will turn out okay. Healing isn’t just for someone else. Healing is for you.
Jesus is whispering to you, Come to me…
Will you come to Him today? Will you accept the peace He has for you? Will you let Him walk you from your season of pain right into His peace?
You can experience the love for which you long.
You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine.
You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow.
You can experience peace —for a lifetime.
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About Lisa Murray
Lisa is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, coffee lover, and wife. Her online community lisamurrayonline.com provides a compassionate place in the midst of the stresses and struggles of life. While she grew up in the Florida sunshine, she and her husband now live just outside Nashville in Franklin, TN.
About Peace for a Lifetime
In her new book, Peace for a Lifetime, Lisa Murray shares the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Lisa discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with herself, God and others. Through Lisa and other’s stories you’ll realize you can experience peace, not just for today, but you can experience peace —for a lifetime
I should have done better.
Why did I do that?
I am such an idiot.
Ever spoken these words over yourself? I have.
I take all the things I have done and I judge them for my performance, my worth and my value.
As if these things are the summation of all that I am, can do and will be.
As if these things determine my day, my faith walk and my feelings.
I am hard, oh so hard on myself – hit-myself-with-a-2×4 hard sometimes.
But, is this even godly?
Is this even biblical?
The truth is:
1. He already handled them as he poured them all out over Jesus on the cross. (Is. 53:6)
2. He seizes them up and throws them out. (Jo. 1:29)
3. They are taken and covered by his holiness, grace and righteousness. (Ro. 4:7)
4. God moves my sin as far away as my hometown is from Chinatown. (Ps. 103:12)
5. They are lost, not to be found. Pardoned, for those he has saved. (Jer. 50:20)
6. Like a dead body thrown in the water, never to be seen again, God throws our old sins into the depth of the sea. (Mic. 7:19)
7. He remembers no word of them. (Heb. 10:17)
8. He blesses us in the process of removing our sin. (Ro. 4:8)
9. The guilt, the shame, the part that we feel responsible for – he nailed to that cross. (Col. 2:14)
10. He leaves us white, holy, renewed, revived, whole, complete, righteous, pardoned, sanctified and justified in him. (Ps. 51:17)
As the weight of sin moves out the weight of hope can move in.
A weight of hope that shows us:
We are holding the hand of the innocent lamb, until the day his kingdom comes.
There is a future, a plan and a glory awaiting us
because we belong the one to whom all our sin belonged.
There is nothing that can come against us,
because the deal is done, the war has been waged and the victory belongs to Jesus Christ.
The power of love is as attached to us as an arm-brand marking us as owned.
Jesus’ love is forever ours.
We have still-water peace always available through the power of knowing God,
not striving for him, but simply knowing.
Jesus died so we didn’t have to.
He sent the Spirit so we could live day-by-day with a new and living hope.
This power is alive and active – in us.
Do we rely on it?
Do we see it?
Or, do we operate by pounds and pounds, weight over weight of shame and guilt?
When we let the power of shame, guilt and discontentment take hold, the power of God is squelched. Yet, when we see God’s power for what it is – powerful – and his sin bashing skills for what they are – working, we live free to walk in the hope, love and grace that is Jesus.
I think I hear God calling me today, to let go of performance, praise and perfectionism. I pray, that with humble hearts, we all can let go of what we are not, to grab hold of all that Christ is (death that ends our death so that we can have life). The truth is that he rejoices over us and wants us to believe and activate the power he has already handed over.
“The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph. 3:17
My mouth says I want to “run with endurance the race that is set before (me)”, (Heb. 12:1), but my feet often go in the opposite direction.
I get set, and ready to go, until I fall and am ready to cry.
It’s a dichotomy I just can’t beat.
I snap back at my husbandwhen I know a kind word turns away wrath.
I think bad thoughts towards a rude personwhen I need to forgive as I have been forgiven. Col. 3:13
I yell at my children, when God says to bear up under one another in love.
I judge a sister in Christwhen God tells me to first look at the log in my own eye.
I take pride in my workwhen God tells me at the proper time I will be exalted.
1 Pet. 5:6
While my mind says, it’s all for you God, I am running hard and fast for you, my actions say, “it’s still kind of all about me.” I can’t let go. I can’t break through. I can’t succeed with God.”
The pounding of my feet on the sidewalk of God’s mission, start to turn into fists pounding on my heart, saying “Why can’t you just do better?”
Pound. You gotta get it together. Pound. People won’t see Christ in you. Pound. Are you really a Christ follower when you mess up so much? Pound. You are selfish.
And one who is beaten to the ground, can’t be running a good race for Jesus.
One who is pounding themselves, can’t be pounding the ground.
One fallen, can’t be encouraging others.
They can’t “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Cor. 9:24)
As I investigate my heart, my sin, and my desire, I am coming to see that God understands this roadblock too.
In order to run, run, run, we are instructed to unload, unload, unload: “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance…” (Heb 12:1)
so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Phil 2:6)
Jesus understands the struggle of a heart striving towards him. He doesn’t come to point our our lagger tendencies. He tells us to unload and rise up. To let go, and to move our feet. To say I am sorry, and to speed into his love. To send the failure fits to the sidelines and to move forward in faithful fury.
I’ve noticed, as I can let that go, I no longer feel like a girl running in circles, I no longer feel like the big loser on Olympics day, but instead I start to move forward – in a straight line – gliding into forgiveness, forging into peace, wholeheartedly striding into hope and joyfully pumping into the cheering applause of my loving Savior who roots me on with all that he is.
So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 1 Cor. 9:26
The question is not will I fall, because I will. The question, is – will I unload, confess and believe the promises of God (aka – get back up again), because this is where the race is won. This is where I stop pounding myself for every bad action and start pounding the streets with the message of Jesus Christ crucified and glorified.
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If you come to me and ask for prayer, these are the words I will have for you: All things are possible. God is a healer. Hold tight to your faith. Just believe.
I will carry your request to God, believing He can do anything. And that He will.
It’s easy enough to pray for my friends. I don’t even hesitate.
But for me?
Sometimes the only words that will come are ugly, insidious whispers:
You are not enough. You don’t deserve what you want. You haven’t been faithful enough. You haven’t trusted Him enough. He’s not going to come through for you, so don’t get your hopes up.
It’s a form of self-flagellation at its worst. Beating myself up and living in the assurance that because of all of my failures, God, too, will fail. Or, at the very least, will fail to act.
It’s a cruel torture that leaves a mark as surely as a whip would do.
A few months ago, I found a lump in my breast. Instead of a regular mammogram, they scheduled me for a high-res, diagnostic ultrasound. I had to wait longer to get in. And I knew, I just knew, that the best thing I could hope for would be an assurance that “it’s probably nothing, but we need to do a biopsy.” I figured I’d have to schedule a procedure or two. And wait. And wait a little more.
Instead of leaning on God, I snapped at my husband. Criticized everything in sight. And tried and tried to pray, but all I could manage was, “Dear Lord,” before I’d stop.
Stumped. Afraid. Before I’d dwell on the fact that Mom died of cancer. That my dad had cancer. That my sister’s best friend died from breast cancer. That one in eight women will get it. And that there’s no reason in the world why that should not be me.
As I sat in that waiting room, with the little pink shirt-gown on, while my technician prepared the machine, I couldn’t focus.
I finally cried.
And I was so afraid.
Too afraid to really pray.
So I tried to block out all of my thoughts with a simple melody. The melody to Hallelujah (You Never Let Go), sung by Jeremy Camp came into my mind, and I thought-sang-prayed, You are with me, Hallelujah. You are with me, Hallelujah…
And I let those words push away my fears.
I let them drown out the what-ifs and oh-nos.
It’s so easy to forget God is with us. That He. Is. Right. There. With. Us.
No matter what we feel. No matter where we go. So I just kept repeating that chorus. Until I believed it.
Felt it. Rested in it.
After the ultrasound, the radiologist assured me that there is nothing there. It’s normal fibrous breast tissue. No cyst, no tumor. Nothing. I’m fine. I could have sighed with relief and moved on, like we often do, forgetting about it now that I’m past the scary part.
But the situation got me thinking.
I believe with all my heart in the power of prayer (so much so that I wrote a book about it). And if I still have my moments of doubt, if I still think that maybe God will come through for everyone else but not listen to me, then many of you probably feel that way, too.
What if, just for today, we let ourselves pray as though God is everything we want Him to be?
Everything that we think He is or should be?
What if we prayed full of belief?
What if we stopped torturing ourselves for our failings?
What if God shows up?
What if this is the moment when everything will change?
What if I can summon as much faith for myself as I can summon for you?
What miracles do you suppose we’d see?
Let’s find out.
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Kelly O’Dell Stanley is a graphic designer, writer, and author of the new book, Praying Upside
Down, which releases May 1. With more than two decades of experience in advertising, three kids ranging
from 21 to 14, and a husband of 24 years, she’s learned to look at life in unconventional ways—sometimes
even upside down. Full of doubt and full of faith, she constantly seeks new ways to see what’s happening
all around her. Subscribe to her blog (www.prayingupsidedown.com) to download her free ebook, Praying
in Full Color, along with this month’s prayer prompt calendar to jump-start your prayer life.
Purchase links: Amazon Barnes & Noble *Also available at christianbooks.com, Lifeway, Books-a-Million, Parable, and others
Today, in a rare instance, I am opening up my blog to a guest poster. She is excited to get her book out into the world, “My 30-Day Journey to a Fulfilled Life.” Welcome Ifeoma! More details on her book here.
Sometimes, I want to grab all that he is so I can be all that I am. I want to just get over me, be done with my ways, and move straight into his.
But then, shame shows up.
Shame comes to tell me that I am bad.
Without a plan.
An orphan of God.
Distanced from love.
Unbelievable in my actions.
(Fill in the blank)
Shame takes us by our hair, drags us to the ground and then beats us up, until all we can see is defeat. It’s the ultimate sucker punch from the devil.
If he can succeed at shaming he can succeed at defaming God.
If he can succeed at shaming, he knows we’ll stop proclaiming.
If he can succeed at shaming, he can make sure we aren’t flaming for Jesus.
I have become more and more aware of this cycle – and I am fighting back, my friend, because life is too short to live laying on the ground with bruises. You can’t get up and serve God when you are always injured.
Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame. (Is. 50:7)
Fighting back shame means 3 things:
1. We allow the Sovereign Lord to help us.
2. We hold fast to the truth that Christ makes us without all shame, without any blemish – essentially “unbruisable” in him. He paid the price to absorb all shame as he took his last breath on the cross.
3. We set our faces like flint.
What? What does it mean to set a face like flint?
a piece of flint used with steel to produce an igniting spark, e.g., in a flintlock gun, or (in modern use) a piece of an alloy used similarly, especially in a cigarette lighter.
a hard type of rock that produces a small piece of burning material (called a spark) when it is hit by steel – Google Dictionary
We, like a rock, keep our face motionless in the face of impending shame. As the devil leans back to deliver his punch of shame, we stay hardened, fearless and impenetrable. We don’t make it easy for him to hit us, because hitting a rock is never comfortable. It’s not normally something you set out to fight.
And, did you catch the result? The result is staggering, my friend. Oh, how I love it – a spark is produced.
A spark of courage.
A spark of hope.
A spark of light.
A spark in our heart.
A spark that brightens the situation.
A spark that paves our way.
A spark of renewal.
This spark does not hold us back from the plan of God, but lights the way for it. This spark lights God’s ways in our heart. It sets us on fire for him.
It sets God’s plans in our hearts, not our insecurities in where we walk.
Today, we walk shameless. Jesus took every last bruise on our behalf, so we don’t have to walk in shame. Now, we walk with the light, the spark, of Christ Jesus that leads us in complete holiness, complete surrender and complete security in him.
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Have you ever felt like you went too far? That you were too vulnerable with someone? That you were standing right at the brink of feeling out of control? Wondering if you would be pushed over and taken advantage of?
We have all been in these situations.
Often, we share and open up, only to feel sorry we did, only to feel put down or only to feel a recipient of unwanted advice.
I understand. It can feel easy to want to hide, to cover our heads, to shut down, to close off, to get defensive and to self protect. I do these things all the time because sharing is risky. Being open is threatening. People’s responses are uncertain. It’s sometimes easier to stay on steady ground.
Standing completely open to another’s reactions, views and perceptions threatens to redefine who we are – or simply hurt us at our very core. It makes us feel like others hold control.
And, none of us like being acted upon – to feel unsure where things are going. It can feel too much to handle. Overwhelming. It’s much easier to avoid these situations by maintaining control.
This way, we can avoid doubt, self-reflection and feelings of inadequacy. We can avoid wondering if we will be accepted, judged or criticized. We can avoid worrying about others worrying about us. We can avoid worrying about being punished for our beliefs.
At the bottom of it all, we fear others, we fear ourselves and we fear we won’t be loved. We fear we are not good enough and others will know.
And, sometimes these fears feel justified. We remember what happened the last time we were in a position like this, we remember the result and we remember our feelings. It was hard. Painful. Damaging. So, when we come against it again, we stand afraid – ready to fight – or take flight. Either way, we know we aren’t going to be treated the same way as last time.
What are we to do? How are we to be honest, transparent and vulnerable with others when we constantly feel in fear? How can we move towards relationship without feeling like we need to move away?
God has been stirring up these questions in my heart lately. I know he wants me to see beyond fear, but often I wonder how. I am coming to the realization that I will never feel completely fearless with others; I will never feel completely safe based on who I am. It is impossible. We are all fallen.
And, I will never be completely good enough by my own merit, so if that is my goal – it is unattainable.
Only One makes us good enough, only One can be our refuge in a time of trouble, only One can be our rock when our ground is sinking and only One can be our hope when life is hopeless.
I know these things. I do. But, talk is cheap and the heart is what counts.
I don’t want to be a talking testimony; I want to be a walking testimony.
God sees my desire. He is opening my eyes. Gently, He is revealing truth – to change my perspective and to make me effective.
He captured my eye with just a couple words in His Word that made all the difference in my world.
The Lord said to me, “You are sealed.”
(He) set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Cor. 1:22)
On face value, this may not appear the answer to all fear. But, these words have a powerful ripple effect that extends to the deepest levels of our hearts.
Why? Because being sealed means that we are enveloped in love. Like a letter wrapped in a sealed envelope, we are entirely covered above and below – wrapped by the ownership and power of the Holy Spirit. It covers us. Nothing can penetrate the seal or the mark of the Spirit.
Because we are in Him, our ultimate security is secure. We are sealed. Shut. Marked. Owned. Sent. Made right.
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 King’s seal is on our hearts.
If he took the time to seal us, won’t he protect us? Guard us? Ensure we are ok? Help us forgive? Encourage us to speak his truth with love?
Afterall, we are his letter and words to all nations.
In this, we don’t have to live scared. If God stands with us, who in the world can ever stand against us (Ro. 8:31). At our deepest levels we are secure.
People can say or do what they are going to do, but it doesn’t matter, because the seal of the Spirit keeps us safe. Nothing can change that seal. The Spirit forever marks us.
And, when we have been marked, we have been marked as belonging to the Lord. We are united. One. He will help us. He will not abandon us. He knows us. He approves of us because of Him. We are protected.
But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. (1 Cor. 6:17)
How could God destroy his very self?
Even if, in the moment, we are threatened – or at worst – taken advantage of, God always has the advantage. He always has a plan. He knows a way. He has a vision.
Do we trust Him?
We need not fear being hunted, threatened or hurt because – in the end – God will always be victorious. In fact, he already is. He has already won the battle. It is finished. Because of this, the battles of present day can lose their sting, because Jesus endured the ultimate sting.
Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (Jo. 19:30)
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