For a large part of my life, I believed I’d simply been dealt a bad hand. I had thoughts like this: “Things work against me. No one is for me. The world will hurt me. People are out to get me. I can’t trust anybody. I am at risk of being continually injured or stranded. Bad circumstances find me.”
Struggling. To. Be. Okay.
Annoyed….Others. Have. It. Better.
Defined. By. My. History.
Have you, like me, allowed internal definitive statements to define your identity? Are you unsure how to climb out of the pit of injustice you’ve found yourself in?
Incredibly, God’s Word shows us the way. God has clear-cut, straightforward instruction for those who have been punched one too many times by the constant onslaught of the world. For those whose stomach feels like it is caving in and they’re about to give up.
Here it is…(notice the two main call-to-action points included within this statement):
“If you… 1.) listen to the commands of the Lord your God and 2.) carefully obey them, (then) the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always have the upper hand.” Deut. 28:13
If you listen and obey…
Then you’ll have – not the bad hand – but always, the upper hand.
You won’t be the tail that gets stomped all over, but the head that is wise, smart and full of God’s truth.
Jesus, as the head, will get in your head and change the world of hurts you’ve been living in. Give Him a shot. Listen, obey and find yourself ahead.
Him: “Mom, I want to ride my bike with you on a major highway.”
Me: “Hmm… No.”
Him: “Mom, I want to ride my bike to a far-off neighborhood I’ve never been to before. I want to go far and get somewhere.”
Me: “You know, son? I care far less about our destination and far more about just being with you.”
As soon as I said it, the words hit me like self-reversing bullets at brute force speed. God cares far less about my destination than He does about just being with me.
I say: “God, I want to do things for you.”
He says: “Come and sit at my feet. Be not worried about many things.”
I say: “God, I want to do things for you.”
He says: “It appears being first is the right way, but sit with me and you’ll find being last is your true joy.”
I say: “God, I don’t know if I’m doing enough for you.”
He says: “People look at the outward appearance, but (I) look at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)
In all my going, am I missing the fullness of God? In pushing fast, am I really pushing God away?
God is the driver; I am the passenger. God knows where I’m going; I stay near to Him. God has the heavenly GPS; I pay attention to where He wants me to go.
Can a passenger ever go anywhere if she isn’t seated next to the driver? If she’s off in her own land, trying to drive her own pretend car to her own Never Neverland…can she ever arrive?
Surrender is to allow God to be the driver. It means you become a sitter at the feet of Jesus. It means allowing your heart to become in awe of Him and His every word. It is to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, knowing at the proper time: He’ll do the exalting. (1 Pet. 5:6) It is peace. It is joy. It is our portion. It is our calling. It is our ultimate destination.
Why? Because the destination that is Jesus always leads to a destination of vision. We find out who we are in the boundless nature of His love. Here, He reveals the “go” we always wanted to find.
I believe some of you counted yourself not valuable or unable to make a difference. It’s not true. This is why I want to invite you, again, to join my launch team.
Friends, every bit helps – how you share Battle Ready with a friend in need, or do a post on Facebook, or encourage me along the way, or share it in your small group, or bring unique excitement to the team. Don’t discount yourself. You all mean something to me; I want you to be a part of the launch team. I want you to do this with me. Big or small, whether you feel important or meaningless, join me as we gain new confidence, seize new thoughts and spread Jesus’ liberating truth far and wide. Pre-order a book on Amazon, then join the team here (and get a ton of video devotionals, scriptures, accountability, team support, prayer with me and little gifts from me: www.iambattleready.com/launch
I love you all. Now here is the post:
Consider a random picture frame in your house. See it? When you wake up the next morning, do you know where it is? Are you confident it is there? Think of another one. When you walk into that room, are you sure you will see it?
What about the frame of your bed? How sure are you that when you return to your room, you’ll find it? Pretty confident, right?
The permanence of these objects is obvious. Yet, why doesn’t it feel this way with God?
It’s like God’s with us one moment and gone the next. We’re full of God one night, but down the next day. Trusting fully, then stuck in swirling ruminations the next hour.
We go from God with us to God is gone. God is here to God, are you really here?
Why does eternal God seem less real than the passing world around us?
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:8
Because there’s a re-framer in our house.
The enemy constantly attempts to steal our view and reframe it with his. He takes our pictures of God’s nearness, assaults them with doubt and tries to move them out of our line of sight. We say, “God’s good and gone.”
Same tricks. Different day.
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Gen. 3:1
Suddenly, Adam and Eve bit the fruit and were standing stark naked, ashamed in front of a far-off God.
What has the enemy reframed in your life? What has he subtly led you away from? What has he put between you and the God of closeness and fullness?
Remove it. Remove it fast and get with God. Do this repeatedly. All the time. God IS with you. He is. He will never leave your side.
On a steamy track, the coach ran after my heels screaming with her timer, “Go, go, go!” No one talked. It didn’t matter how we felt. Sprints gave way to more sprints. Tiredness ended up sprinting. So did exhaustion. Near-death feelings were supposed to somehow push us harder.
With that little glint of belief in her eye, the coach non-verbally pressured us that there was “more in us”. So we somehow found it and kept going.
During tryouts the coaches hovered over me, trying to figure out where I fit in on the track field. Would I be a long distance runner? A shot-putter? A sprinter? A hurdle-runner?
As she assigned everyone to his or her spot, I imagined all the potential of one person: me. I imagined myself running fast and with intensity along with all these other pre-Olympian superstars. But when she looked at me with beads of sweat on her face and in her hair, she said, “You’re my race-walker.”
The loser. The one who looks all weird with her hips swaggering from side to side?
I wanted to quit. While everyone else was something, I was nothing. The embarrassment.
Have you ever felt like the things you dream of are blocked? Like you can’t access what you’re supposed to be?
That day, I stood on that field shell-shocked. Then, I started walking. I walked so hard and fast, a year or so later, I made it to the Junior Olympics and got a bronze medal. Oddly, this moment is one of the greatest joys and the greatest gifts of my life. That track team had heart and taught me heart. I learned it is not what you think you should do that matters, but what God has for you that fills your heart.
What if what you’re made for looks different than you think? Will you accept His best in belief that it will one day become yours?
I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to proceed. What does this person need to hear in order to start acting differently?
There’s validity to our questions. In reality, our wisdom leads to dead ends. Over-strategizing doesn’t work. When we control others, we grip a slippery wall, powerless.
The flesh is death.
The Spirit is life.
“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Ro. 8:6
The other points us to Christ as we await his best thing.
One musters up faith through actions and reactions.
The other leans on God through heart connection.
One is reactive to insults.
The other is reflective and submitted to truth.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Ro. 8:26
The Spirit in us gives life to us. He not only cares our your problems, but groans on our behalf, the exact words we cannot muster.
Do you feel unaccounted for? Do you feel left behind? Do you not know what direction to head? Fear not, whatever you don’t know, God does. His plan is not to hide the plan, but to reveal it.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed it to us by the Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:9-10)
There is goodness prepared for you. There is an uncovering of your way being revealed by the Spirit. Therefore, wait, with faith. Trust, with hope. Be governed by the Spirit. He is always your best way.
Do you ever think, “Everything is going so well…I wonder when is God going to pull the carpet out from under me?”
Or, “I don’t deserve good stuff.”
Or, “I feel guilty for accepting…”
I think this way sometimes. As if God’s given me too much and suddenly needs to put me in my place. Or as if I’m spoiled by the fact He is good. Or like He is a killjoy who is out to punish me for my happiness.
Why do I do this?
Recently, I asked God for something. It was small, but I prayed for it to “get better”. Amazingly, I immediately did, to a degree. I saw God move in incredible ways. Then, I wanted to ask him for something else, something more. I almost prayed…but then I heard:
Bad Kelly! You want too much.
Bad Kelly! You think God is there to give you everything.
Bad Kelly! You are selfish.
Bad Kelly! You know there are others who have it much harder than you.
Afraid to take too much from God, I almost missed the opportunity to see how much He really loves me. I almost stopped asking. Why? Because I counted the nature of God equivalent with the nature of man.
God gives abundantly. Many give, but then take for themselves.
God does even more than we ask or imagine. Man does and then expects something in return.
God continually pours out the best of who He is on our behalf. Man halfway gives and then gives up.
When we assign the track record of man to God, we always lose. In fact, we close down the opportunity to see the abundant nature of an abundant God. We essentially hold an arm up to God and say, “You’re a little bit good, but not that good.”
What are you believing about God today? In what ways have you held an abundant God back? How have you let the past hurts of man create a false view of God?
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jo. 10:10
“For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jo. 6:33
In winter, I spend an inordinate amount of time holed up in my home under a blanket, guzzling hot coffee, and longing for spring’s arrival. It’s not my favorite season, but favorite or not, winter is important. Despite what we see with our eyes, the earth in winter is busy creating life. We only know this is so because spring eventually comes, and then we marvel at what that life looks like.
Is it possible that God designed winter and the earthly cycle of life, death, and renewal in order to speak a deeper truth? I believe, because the Bible says it’s so, that everything in creation is designed speech about its Creator. Just as we find him on warm summer days, standing in the sand, listening to the waves crash against the shore, we find him in the stillness of winter.
Winter, however, often speaks of a barrenness we don’t want to hear about.
Annie Dillard writes, “All that summer conceals, winter reveals.” And so we need a life with winters, because we need our hearts revealed. Winter comes to strip us bare of our delusions, to make us face reality: we have imperfections that we can’t perfect. We are helpless to find a formula to reason or act our way out of our helplessness. We are human, and we, in our barrenness, must be acted upon if we’re to experience eternal life, joy, and the supernatural.
Winter then, after stripping us bare, points us to the invisible motion as if in invitation to these very things: life is happening. God is at work, acting upon us.
The harshness of our waiting winter tells us that this world has nothing for us and that we have nothing for ourselves. We have this hope–one, and only one–that there is life waiting for us beyond death.
Although we are not yet in that world, we have reasons for our hope: the words of God. With words, he formed the earth and its seasons and cycles. With words, he continues creating. We can trust his words. In our winter, we must draw ourselves under the warm blanket of God’s promises, a sure comfort in the darkest of hours.
This is what God did with the prophet Jeremiah:
“And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, ‘I see an almond branch.’ Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.'” (1:11)
In Jerusalem, the almond tree, the first to bud in the spring, was said to “watch for spring.” God used the almond branch to comfort Jeremiah in his lamentable circumstances. The almond branch was a reminder that God is always in process of keeping his promises, that he is, at this very moment, hurtling all of us toward eternal spring. He pointed to the almond branch—the coming of spring—and told Jeremiah to watch and wait.
We too watch and wait, not in fear of this winter in which we live, nor in fear of our own spiritual poverty or even final death. We watch and wait, comforted, because all of this God is right now working for our true life, when winter will forever turn to spring.
Christine Hoover is a Bible teacher and the author of several books, including Messy Beautiful Friendship. Her latest book, Searching For Spring: How God Makes All Things Beautiful in Time, frames the life of faith according to the seasons and according to Ecclesiastes 3:11: “God has made everything beautiful in its time.” Searching for spring is really a search for God’s redemptive work, where suffering and death become fruitful life. Christine invites readers like you, who may be weary and withering, to join her on a treasure hunt for beauty in both familiar and unexpected places.
When it is “You vs. The Enemy”…you must be prepared.
Because in this world it truly is eat or be eaten. Eat God’s Word or be eaten.
Fight or be killed. Fight back with truth or be killed.
I know this firsthand. The times when I try to do everything on my checklist so I feel accomplished, or work really hard to look better than others, or hear a million reasons why I am no good. . .here, I have one of two choices.
1. Ignore what is going on within me, do nothing, and thereby proceed into the lion’s den,
2. Square up to the one who desires to make me doubt, fear, worry, stress, overdo it, give up, get defensive or hide.
Choice 1 leads me to: eating a whole bunch of the enemy’s stomach-churning bull.
Choice 2 leads me to: finding the truth that has just set me free.
Choice 1 ends with: doubt, discouragement and despair.
Choice 2 ends with: faith, hope and love.
Always use truth when you face a liar. He can’t stand up against it. So that is what we will do today. We will use truth so choice two becomes your only end and option.
Here is arsenal for your fight:
Nothing can come against me in Christ Jesus.
No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. (Is. 54:17)
The Spirit in me always trumps what is coming against me.
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
No evil will overcome me, because Jesus is in me.
No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. (Ps. 91:10)
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (Gal. 2:20)
How can the enemy own what he can’t find?
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Col. 3:3)
I’ve been given divine power to demolish the strongholds set up against me.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:3-5)
God will faithfully protect me against the evil one.
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. (2 Thes. 3:3)
Whatever evil comes against me will be annihilated by God.
The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. (Deut. 28:7)
God will not lose me; I am not outside His love.
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. (Jo. 6:39)
I have got so much to do and I don’t know how I can ever take care of everything because there is not enough time in the day plus I can’t even begin to get on top of that laundry and the family needs clothes and I wish I was a better organizer…it seems everyone else has buckets and labels for all the things they have so that everyone knows where things are located…and I can’t seem to keep track of where the scissors went…plus I am hardly making dinners, most nights it is quick-eats, not gourmet dinners and I need to get my kids more nutrients because they need to have strong bones and I really should be taking my daily vitamins but I am not even doing that and what if when I get old my bones crack in half and I am hunched over and have to spend the rest of my life sitting in a lawn chair or strapped to a recliner…
“Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs.” Lu. 12:29
God knows our needs.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.” Lu. 12:30
Seeking the Kingdom first = Getting everything you need.
Letting go of the mind-rubbish consuming you to let God’s plans consume you = Getting everything you need.
Seeing the world as God’s drawing board and you as the paintbrush = Getting everything you need.
Getting love loosened from you and into the world = Getting everything you need.
Keeping your eyes on the kingdom of God, versus the kingdom of your every-waking-need= Getting everything you need.
Being watchful through prayer and diligently pursuing God = Getting everything you need.
God knows what we need. He has a good plan to give it to us. We need not worry about our fiefdom; it is all about His kingdom.
There’s an unsaid celebrity who said unsaid things. I don’t want to say much about this person because: 1.) I’m not a fan of gossip. 2.) I do not know this person’s heart 3.) I bless her and hope she gets all her heart desires (aka. Jesus). 4.) The point of this story is not really about her, but about me. (and perhaps, you)
However…the whole story really spoke to me. Here’s the clandestine background you need to know: This individual is at the top of her game. She is loved. She has been beyond successful in every single and solitary sense of the word. The world stops and gawks, “Wow, look at her. She has it all.”
Now, you’d think with so many awards, cheers, and recognitions, this person would know: I am amazing. I am so happy. I have all I need.
Yet, in a recent report this person lamented something the equivalent of, “Waa…my friend didn’t call me today to tell me I did a good job.”
When I heard this person say this, I considered it deeper. It is like an Olympian saying, “I didn’t hear the 4-year-old clap for me, so I must be no good.” Or like a professor becoming furious that on the first day of class that no one stood up and cheered for him. Or the genius saying, no one was happy for me that I completed the Spokane Post crossword puzzle.
And here I realized: If you are always looking for people to recognize you, you always will. You won’t just reach the pinnacle of success one day and say, “Well, looky here…now I need nothing from anyone. I have arrived at happiness…”
This just isn’t happening.
The truth is if you base your worth off of others’ opinion, it will never stop. The ferris wheel keeps going. Sure you may rise to the top because you’re getting seen, but before you know it, it swoops to the bottom and you are in obscurity, feeling bound with insecurity. Then, you lament that your husband didn’t cheer for you as you finished your bike ride.
We can undo this, you know?
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mk 12:30-31
What if we weren’t as much bound up by what we do as how much we love?
If who you are is loved and what you do is love others, how can mankind ever block a goal like that? His love sets us free.
Prayer: God, it is not trophies, metrics or applause that I serve, but you. Fill me with your love, so I can pour it out. Equip me with your heart, so I can enjoy it above all. Do a mighty work in me, but let it be all about you. Everything else pales in comparison. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.