1. We run to be first. While Jesus sits and says “be last”.
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35
When we join Jesus, and sit down by his side, we tend to rely on him. He is faithful to take care of us as we listen, relax and trust him. When we just enjoy his presence, he equips us with all we need to serve others. What an honor.
2. We show off who we are, so we appear the star.
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5
“Pride” has it all together, needs no one and appears perfect. “Humble” comes open to receive, ready to listen and eager to change. Is it any wonder that God shows favor to the humble?
3. We fear the world, our finances, our husband, our wife, our health, our kids, our work. We fear everything, but the Lord.
Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7
Fear of the Lord means that we know who is sovereign. We know who rules. We know who reigns – and we relinquish our reigns as we trust that he will provide.
When we trust in our own work and our own efforts we are left empty, lonely and tired. Let’s turn towards the King and confess our hearts. Let’s approach our friends and family with authentic hearts. Let’s seek to lift the Lord on high rather than our own accomplishments.
When we stop making prideful mistakes, a true sense of self God awakes.
It is time to step out. To come out of hiding. To let your true colors shine. To be who God made you to be. It is time to be fearless. To be courageous. To be passionate. It’s time to take a risk – to move from your calm safe grounds to unsteady risky rocky terrain. Terrain where you feel vulnerable – where you know, by yourself, can’t stand on your own. Why?
Because too much is on the line not to. And, the idea of not taking that adventurous step means living in mediocrity. It’s so worth it.
I spent a good amount of time in hiding. Sure, I went to church, I was in small groups, I had Christian friends, but I stayed on safe ground. Grounds where no one really questioned me. Grounds where I rode in a perfect straight line, rarely branching off the beaten path. I kept on this straight and narrow for fear of getting hurt. When a conversation veered into sticky areas or when I felt too vulnerable, the warning light would go off in my mind, “do not venture there, you may get someone upset. Don’t speak too passionately; you don’t want to be “that” person. Don’t seem too knowledgeable, others will feel less than. Don’t bring up topics that could make them feel uncomfortable. Don’t run the risk of angering that person, it’s better to just let them continue feeling miserable as they go the wrong way.”
“Hide who you are because you don’t want to be judged, hurt or rejected.”
I did this all the time. But I came to realize something life changing. In my attempt to set others free of their bad feelings, I only succeeded in trapping myself. I locked away the person God created Kelly to be.
When I lived in that closet, I missed the opportunity to love deeply. I missed the opportunity to speak the absolute truth in love. I missed the opportunity to walk in faith, as I felt afraid. I missed the opportunity to rely on Christ when others may have felt irritated at me. I missed the chance to encourage others. I was too worried about preserving myself.
You know, we have one life. One chance to pour out love. One chance to give all we have. To be all in, no holds bar. To share grace. To encourage in truth. To live without fear. To give with faith. To help those in need. This is our chance. This is your chance.
I don’t know about you, but I am sick of living trapped, beholden to this world. I know at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I will never ever regret living all out – full of love – for God. Do I do this perfectly? By no means, but that is the point. That is why I need Christ. And when I rely on him, I find peace. I find safety despite an unsafe rocky terrain.
At the days end, when I come out of the ultimate closet, that is this world. I hope to stand in front of God with full confidence that I shared his love, peace, and joy with all of my heart to people who hurt so deeply. I want to stand knowing that I spoke his wisdom – according to his timing – no matter the risk.
This authentic living is adventurous living. We can’t do it on your own. But, as we rely on him, we will find we are truly free.
“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ…” (Ephesians 4:15)
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)
God’s truth is what healed me. If it was hidden, I never would have been touched. I never would have grown. So why do we think we need to hide truth? Rather than hide, we need to lay down our pride. It is not about me and preserving my image- it is about people who are hurting and need to hear truth spoken in love. Take it or leave it. This is Kelly as God designed me.
When we are who God created us to be, we finally find true freedom.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)”
“Mikey, don’t stand on Maddie’s stroller. Mikey, step down. Michael, now!” He looks at me and steps up higher and higher, until he starts to lose balance. When I see the stroller tip backward and Mikey slam on to the ground, my heart drops. If only he listened.
His sad eyes look up at me. Through the tears he asks, “Mommy, why? Why did I fall? Why did you let me Mommy?”
I want to grab him and yell, “Because I told you to get down. Why didn’t YOU listen to me?” But instead I say, “I am sorry you fell. I love you, little Mikey. It is important to listen to mommy. I am watching out for you when I tell you things. I want you to be safe.” I give him a hug.
How often are we like Mikey? How often do we push the boundaries just a little bit more? We think, I can get away with this – I’ll be ok. We want to do things our way. We fool ourselves. We think God isn’t watching. We think he won’t punish us. We think we can work our way around consequences with a little smart thinking. We think that grace will just entirely cover us, so we are okay. But, even though by grace we are secure in heaven and with God, consequences to our actions do arrive. When they do, like Mikey, we often look up at God and say, “Why God? Why did this happen? Why did you allow it?”
In many ways, we never grow up. We are on the verge of tipping over our own life strollers because, in the moment, it feels worth it. We step up, just a little higher, right to the very edge. Why? Because, many times, we view God’s commands as restrictions – rules – set in place to hold us back from fun, pleasure or relief. These “rules” rain on our parade. We step up a little higher on our strollers; we take the risk. Let’s see what happens!
Then, we down we fall. We fall flat on our face and we feel hurt. Like Mikey, we tend to miss the point of parental guidance entirely.
God lovingly, laid down directions for our lives to keep us in areas of safety. He doesn’t want us to drive into places of fear, pain, and consequence. He gives us a roadmap, so we can drive with an idea of where we are headed. With this, we know exactly how to get there and what is involved. He informs us of the places we shouldn’t venture. Why? Because we may get hurt, we may encounter bad people or we may get stuck. We may even miss our destination entirely if we go our own way. His directions are not given to demand his way, like an authoritarian dad. His directions keep us from pain, shame, guilt and regret. Even more, they are to offer us joy, fulfillment and purpose as we trust him.
He offers us the route to help us in our commute because he loves us. If only we would actually see it this way. We see his commands as rules, he sees them as tools. Tools to help us, to guide us and to keep us in places of contentment, peace and purpose.
When we drive within the lines of the boundaries he has set, we will find safety. We will live lives that are focused and purposeful. As a result, we will effectively love God and love others more because we are not walking around as hurt vessels. We are walking as loved children who are protected and secure in the path that God has set before us.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:25)
God has perfect directions, or laws, for our lives. Let’s keep our strollers upright as we walk hand in hand with God towards the destinations he has set before us.
Have you ever tried to reach out to someone but failed? Have you ever tried to help someone, but felt unappreciated? Have you ever tried to do something for God, but it didn’t work?
If so, I totally understand. Many years ago, God brought a young lady into my life, at what seemed the perfect time. During her regular visits to help with my son, I could clearly see she struggled with various life issues. I could clearly see her pain. I could clearly see she had major insecurities. And I could clearly see that I was the one to help her with this. I thought, “God has a plan for me to work on this one”.
Boy was I dead wrong.
I tried and I tried – and I tried some more – to pull her out of her shell. I tried to pour out words of encouragement. I tried to smile all the time. I tried to help her whenever she needed it. I tried to be flexible with work hours. I tried to tell her about God’s love. I tried to be super careful with feedback. I tried to take an interest in her life. I tried to ask her one hundred questions. I tried to offer food. I tried to offer help. I tried to make jokes.
What didn’t I try? I tried it all.
What did I get back? Nothing. Silence. In fact, what I got back seemed to be irritation and annoyance.
I felt so discouraged. I felt devalued. I felt frustrated. I felt angry, both at her and at God. Didn’t God see how much I was doing? Didn’t God know how bad she needed help? Didn’t she see how hard I was trying to be there for her?
This mission was a big FAIL. It failed because I totally missed the point. I am embarrassed to say that I was pursuing another’s heart with completely the wrong motive. It wanted to fix her. This motive left a mess in its wake.
When I felt my love was blocked, I tried a little harder. I gave a little more. I pushed it on her because I didn’t want to be rejected. I was seeking value based on her response. My heart may have been looking to love her at first, but after a couple of rejections set in, I was looking for even more love, admiration and appreciation. This was about “My Mission” not “God’s Mission” and therein lies the problem. The result? I felt rejected and she felt smothered. Not only was she trying to do her job, but she was also trying to satisfy me. We were both frustrated.
When we look to others to fill us and to approve us, we miss God’s plan. We miss his work and his miracle. When we work by our might it turns into a fight. When we work by his might, it is a delight.
So what are we to do?
We are to pray, to listen and to obey – in his timing. We are to trust him. We are to do what he calls us to do, not what we feel we need to do in order to garner a “feel good” response. We are to do our part, independent of other’s reactions. Then, the Lord will approve us as we move forward in his calling. Our love is not reliant on others. It is reliant on God’s love for us. This means, we don’t need to over work or over try. He will give us just the right direction. Our works are for him – and by him.
When we listen, hear and love as he loves, not as we love, we are in his will. He blesses this reliance with our hearts great desire – acceptance, love and purpose.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:6)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:14)
My daughter Maddie, who is turning 1 tomorrow (Happy Birthday Maddie!), loves to eat. It is amazing; she can out-eat my 3 year old. It doesn’t matter what I put in front of her she will devour it. Many times, I can hardly keep up with her. She is an eating machine; I can’t cut fast enough.
Strawberries are just one of her favorites. When strawberries make their way to our table, her little eyes light up. Just a few days ago, I sat her down and she spotted them. Eagerly, she made little yelping sounds to get my attention. So, I cut a little piece off of one and brought it to the table. I held it in just the perfect position, so she could enjoy the little bite that I had prepared. The only thing was she wasn’t looking at the piece right next to her mouth; she was looking at my other hand, right down by my side – the hand that held the big piece of strawberry. She was so focused on the big one, she didn’t even see what I had prepared for her. It was even difficult for me to grab her attention; she was so focused. She wanted more.
Little Maddie was so consumed with what she thought she needed, that she missed the joy of what was already prepared and waiting for her. So often, we are just like little Maddie. Whether we like strawberries or not, we miss what the Lord has right in front of us, because we think we need something bigger. We want bigger purpose. We want bigger relationships. We want bigger ministry. We want bigger security. We want more.
The Lord has a strawberry right next to our mouth, ready for our enjoyment, but we look past it, wanting more. We lack contentment and joy. We think we are in an empty dry land, but we really don’t see the gift he has sitting right before us.
Let’s learn a lesson from Maddie and see what the Lord has before us. Let’s not let our eyes get bigger than our stomachs. The Lord knows what we need. He has big things in store for us when we trust him, his timing and his ways (Jeremiah 29:11). Do you trust him?
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)