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
I lived with fake trust in God for a long time. During those years, I thought it was real trust. Now I realize it was like dressing up a pig and calling her pretty. I focused on actions so much that I missed the heart of the matter.
I showed myself beautified by giving advice to others.
I dressed up my Christian life by doing bible study dinners.
I put on a thinking hat to prove I was smart on bible knowledge.
I believed if I read 10 minutes of God’s Word before breakfast, all His words would work for me.
I thought myself better by sizing myself up against those who were rude, struggling, arrogant, a know-it-all, or sinning.
“Do not throw your pearls to pigs.” Mt. 7:6
May I remind you? I was the pig.
I knew the Word of God, but missed God’s heart behind it. Ouch! I worked up faith, but faith that was all about me. I loved God, but it was the brute force of Kelly Balarie trying to make it happen. I believed God via my words, but doubted him deep in my heart.
Real love is not determined by what is shown on the outside, but by what compels us on the inside. Love does not originate from our good work, but from Jesus’ perfect work.
This thought and truth freed me. No longer am I looking to prove my worth. I am trusting Jesus’ worth to be my worth. I can breathe again. And beyond this, I can rest again.
I don’t have to force my way, because God’s way rules.
I don’t have to pretend faith, because God gives it.
I don’t have to make you think right of me, because God defends me.
The difference is: I get faith from God. He gives it to me; I don’t work it up.
I never have to prove myself more worthy, because Jesus is worthy. In this gap, I can confront my inadequacies, my vulnerabilities and my inabilities without fear of the unknown or unseen. Why? Because God has me.
He has you too. Naturally, He has you. He has you even when you don’t speak Christianese. He has you when you miss your morning devotional time. He has you when you mistakenly throw out a cuss word. He has you when you don’t know what to do. He has you when you think everything is crumbling. Your work won’t make up for what you owe Him…Jesus already paid for all that.
Jesus ministered to every man who needed him. Right?
Jesus never stopped giving, ever. Right?
One evening after sunset the people brought Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. (Mk. 1:32-34)
Notice, Jesus healed “many.” But, as I see it: many is not all.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”(Mark 1:35-38)
Notice, while the crowds of people waited… While people were still searching him out… He did what?!!!
He went off.
He turned away from the demands of man to connect to the voice of God. Away from the calls of man, He could once again to hear the call of God. We see Jesus restating his purpose to the disciples when he said, “This is why I have come.”
Jesus let go of a “very good call” (taking care of every person’s waking need), for a better one: going where the Father desired Him to be and following through on his vision/mission as planned.
What might you be doing today that is thwarting God’s mission for tomorrow?
We are wise to look into our life to see:
If our heart to do things is causing us to lose peace.
Consider: Stepping away and praying.
If we feel upset at others for all we’ve done for them.
Consider: Stepping away and praying.
If we are so tired, we can hardly love people anymore.
Consider: Stepping away and praying.
If we feel God has something new for us to do.
Consider: Stepping away and praying.
If others want us to do something more than we can do.
Consider: Stepping away and praying.
Prayer re-centers us, not on the plans of man, but on the purpose of God in our lives.
We’ve moved across state and country lines three times over the past six years, and with each move I’ve dreaded the exhaustion of making new friends. Women can be so nice and welcoming and awesome. And women can also be terrifying.
After our second major move, we began the search for a new church. We liked the idea of attending church in our own neighborhood, so we decided to visit the one across the street from our apartment complex.
It was a smaller church, with around forty people attending that day, and when the service was over, it took at least forty-five minutes to exit the building. People wanted to know where we were from and where we’d been and if we preferred the Chicago White Socks or the Cubs. Albeit tiring, I was glad these complete strangers were making an effort to get to know us.
And then someone took it to the next level.
A woman named Beth came up to me again and asked if my daughter and I would like to come over for a play date at her place sometime that week.
If my jaw didn’t physically drop right then and there, it hit the floor metaphorically. She had only met me ten minutes ago, yet she didn’t hesitate to welcome my child and I into her daily life.
I thought protocol was that you had to commit to a church before the people in that church would be willing to commit to you. And yet, Beth welcomed us in – no strings attached. Not worrying if our presence would mess up the groove of the friendships she had already established.
As the newbie in town, I was so grateful for the generous welcome God provided in what would eventually become our church home and the source of many life-giving friendships. And as the one feeling awkward and lonely, I was so grateful Beth didn’t let fear hold her back from both saying hello and, “Would you like to come over?”
May we all be the same beacon of welcome to the people in our everyday lives – to those in our homes, in our churches, and in our neighborhoods.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:3
Lord, one of the greatest gifts that You gave us was the church. I pray that You will provide life-giving friendships for those of us who feel lonely. And I pray that You will help us recognize ways we can invite others into our daily lives – no strings attached. Amen.
About Kendra Broekhuis:
Kendra is the author of Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert’s Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. The book highlights her 30 Day journey to recognize the Lord’s “I love you’s” in her daily life, as well as her somewhat awkward attempts to be the Lord’s “I love you’s” to her neighbors. For her day job, Kendra stays home with two of their children, Jocelyn and Levi. She and her family live in Milwaukee. Kendra’s love language is Dove chocolate.
Have you hurt someone, but can’t seem to apologize?
Is there an argument you feel completely entitled to uphold?
Does anger overwhelm you?
Do you have the feeling your assumptions were completely off base?
Are you ashamed of what you’ve done?
Sometimes, I internally know I am 100% wrong, but externally cannot admit the truth. It’s like my heart knows what it needs to do, but my mouth can’t speak.
It feels like everyone might hate me or turn away. It feels like I might be the bad egg that falls down the chute. Bye-bye…Kelly….!
Ever been there?
Perhaps, you’re trying to maintain a good status at work, or defending an issue you know you need to change your mind on or coming down on hard on one specific person because you always have. Maybe you do this. . . all to the detriment of truth.
But, it is the truth that sets us free. (Jo. 8:32)
John Piper boils this vicious cycle down to one issue. He puts it like this:
“Pride is the enemy inside us that speaks to us like a friend. Its counsel sounds so much like self-protection, preservation, and promotion we are often blinded to the fact that it’s destroying us and others. It rises in great indignation as a prosecuting attorney when others’ pride damages us, but it minimizes, qualifies, excuses, rationalizes and blame-shifts our behavior when we damage others. We can easily be deceived into believing that our pride wants to save us, when really, it’s our internal Judas betraying us with a kiss.” – John Piper, DesiringGod.com
What if rather than being tethered to insular pride, we were released to outpouring love? What freedom might God have for us?
Relieve yourself of this. You don’t have to have it all marked out with lines pointing to things, with circles around events, checkmarks next to your part and supporting roles delineated.
It’s not your show. It’s not your story to write.
God is Creator. He is also Author God. Let him write a better story than you can. Give up your need to theorize, summarize and categorize people and all the details that go with them.
If Jesus wanted you to be ruler, he would have let you know this before he died, but he didn’t.
His grace is your grace when you give Jesus space to fill the blank lines. Then, you actually get a chance to see God work. But if you already have every line filled in and filled up, what room does this leave an active, always-writing, ever-working God?
Avoid your need to know. Eve wanted to know everything. Satan wanted to know he was higher than God.
Knowing is not our goal. Abiding is. Stick to abiding. Self-soaked ambition masked in some cover of godliness is still nastiness. Intellectual know-how covered with a know-it-all attitude still stinks.
Jesus talked to the Pharisees like this:
“You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Mt. 23:27-28
Choose instead to let Jesus wash you. White. Clean.
Let him be highest. The highest scheduler. The highest orchestrator. The highest lover. The highest mountain. The highest plan.
You don’t have to have it all figured out. You don’t have to know every detail. You don’t have to be in tune with the whens or the whys. You know the WHO. It’s Jesus. He has you. He has a plan.
Prayer: Jesus, it’s all about your heart. It’s all about your desires. It’s all about you coming to earth, so that we could come to heaven and be with you always. Don’t let us lose sight of what matters. What a waste it is to have eternity with you, but to miss daily life with you. We want every moment with you. Restore that to us. We repent of what is not ours to keep, manage and rule. We trust you with what you want to give us. We lean on you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
I worked really hard to get up the hill. Pumping, huffing, standing, sitting, then standing again, I. Was. Going. To. Make. It. To. The. Top.
Nothing would stop me and my bike.
It’s often easy to get on a mission. We want to get somewhere and when we’re really committed, we see it through.
I made it to the top. Then came the decline.
Victory. As I glided down, I kept on peddling hard. Why?
No, really. . . why?
Why did I feed the need to peddle when it was a time to glide?
God says there is a time for everything:
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ec. 3:1KJV
There is a season to pump our legs hard; there is a season to glide; there is a season to cry; there is a season to rest; there is a season to give; there is a season to take.
Peaceful living, I am determining, has much to do with knowing the season God has placed you in. You don’t want to be laughing in the midst of your spouse’s grieving.
As I went down the hill, it was representative of a season: to glide. To let go of worries. To trust God with all the stuff I normally do. To hear his voice calling me to ministry outside of the internet. To wonder and awe at him doing really special things alone with me.
To step away from life, demands, blog requirements, and doing stuff as usual, because it’s not God’s heart for today…(noticing is half the battle).
Letting go is the other half. It’s recognizing that our current season doesn’t have to look like our last. In fact, I have to tell you, it shouldn’t. This is my opinion, however. It is my belief that when we push a round peg into a square hole, frustration feels as ever present as a hangnail.
But to move with the grace of God. . . this is like windsurfing in the direction of God’s move. You go with him. You let go of what you think things should be. You enjoy the wind on your face. You feel the moment. You come alive in what he is doing.
What season is God calling you into? What if instead of despising it, you decided to embrace it?
Prayer: God, in your presence there is fullness of joy. Keep me in your presence and peace. Keep me going in the direction you desire for me, and nowhere else. Let me go not according to what I think I should do, but according to what your heart is for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
I didn’t used to think a name amounted to much. Until years later…
Now, you all might see me as a fighter kind of girl. If you’re read this blog long enough, you know I wrote a book called, “Fear Fighting.” But, what you may not know is I am also writing a book called, “Battle Ready.” You’ll meet it come July.
The point is not me; it is my name. My name means “warrior”. Kelly is warrior. I never knew that. I never knew I was a warrior, until God called me to write these books.
Before this point I would have laughed at this idea. But, now. Now I say, “Wow, God, I really am who you say I am. You knew day #1 who I would be, even though I never believed in who you made me to be.”
He is amazing.
Even though I used to call myself other names, like… “You stupid!,” “You idiot!”, “You worthless piece of…”
Still, God never had names like those for me.
What names do you give yourself? What name might God give you?
Did you know, even if your name has no obvious meaning…God gives you names: daughter, loved, friend, royal priest, light of the world? These are your names, even if you can’t believe them now, Christ’s fulfillment is written over each and every name, just like I learned mine was.
I pray you come to see…
Sometimes, I doubt my name. I am all…I am not a warrior today. But, do you know what is best of all? Jesus always is Jesus. Father always is Father. Daddy is always still there.
Knowing the firm names of God supersedes the names of doubt we call ourselves.
This is why, this Christmas, I delight in the names included in the Christmas book, “The Unwrapping of the Names of Jesus” by Asheritah CiuCiu.
King of Kings (the height above any height moving on our behalf) Light of the World (the light that casts out all darkness, always and forever) Lion of Judah (the roar that makes every knee bow) Alpha and Omega (the start of everything and the end that has no end) Prince of Peace (the only answer to peace and the fulfillment of it in our lives) Bread of Life (the only truth we eat to feel full) Lamb of God (the lamb slain so that we don’t have to be when we feel self-doubt and shame)
Jesus’s name is the height of all names. It gives cause to my name, even when I doubt myself. This does not matter, because God remains the same, consistent and power-full.
This Christmas Season, what if you were to usher in, not just the baby, but the power of Jesus’ name with a humble in-awe view of the saving light it casts on you?
How might, through Christ, you begin to see yourself differently?
Do you know what it is to stand up for your faith?
It’s like standing up for the kid getting taken advantage of on the playground, except the kid is you.
It’s like standing up in the court of law to speak justice, because you know it’s what needs to be done.
It’s like standing up at a sports game and cheering wildly because you have love for a team.
It’s like standing up full of sin, like the woman who committed adultery, and allowing Jesus to forgive you.
It’s like standing up against all the chatter of opposition to telling it to shut up and sit down.
It’s like standing up and putting your hands on your hips and saying, “That’s not what God says, so no way.”
It’s like standing up and speaking out God’s truths over the ample lies that surround you on the daily basis.
It’s like standing up and fighting, through prayer, for a sister going through a killer-of-a-hard time.
It’s like standing up and saying, “No, I will not lay down.”
It’s standing on the solid rock of Christ.
It’s knowing that that very rock is unmovable, unbreakable and unwavering.
It’s deciding in your heart that since Jesus was strong enough to bust out of the grave, He will be able to take you right out of your dark circumstances to move you into His light. This is standing strong.
Where do you need to stand strong?
Certainly, there is a time for mourning, crying and wrestling. There is a time. But then comes a day to say, “It is my day to bust out of this tomb of self-pity and dejection and to move into God’s light. It is time for me to stand up and say no more. No more will I be tossed like a boat of doubt, or on the waves of nauseousness or by the words of mankind. No more will I listen to the opinions of old replay or the questions of the enemy circulate. No more. Today is my standing up day. May standing up and moving out day.”
In what way do you need to stand?
“He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:4
Jesus had every right to count man’s offenses, bad words, religious spirits, hurting words, whips and mockings. He could have dwelt in that tomb of despair for a long, long time. He could have said, “Forget them, they did me wrong.” He could have let death come over us. But Jesus didn’t.
He stood up to the power of hell taking aim to bring the kingdom of God down. He stood. He stood up to take his seat at the right hand of God.
“When the Lord Jesus finished speaking to them, he was taken up into heaven. He sat down at the right hand of God.” Mark 16:19
God calls us to stand today. He calls us, today, to rise into his heavenly perspective. One that does not count the offenses of man, the injuries of yesterday, the tears we can’t move past, the people we can’t reckon with, the memories we can’t distance, the worries we can’t alleviate… certainly, all that is there. God knows it. We know it.
There it is. We’ve seen it. We’ve seen it every day, for a long, long time. But what if we chose to stand up and walk past it?
The choice is ours.
We can either give in to the weights of the world, or we can rise up and give it to the God who holds the weight of the world in His hands?
We can trust the resurrection life, Jesus. He is resurrection. In all ways. All the time. With all power.