I was shocked when I got the email. My friend, Jackie, said, “We really need to pray for Jennifer.”
I wasn’t shocked she said we needed to pray; this I was fully aware of. I already knew Jennifer was headed toward dangerous, murky no-return waters. What shocked me was Jackie, one I considered maybe-connected to God, was telling me to pray.
And she busted me. I wasn’t praying a lick. Instead, I was tossing up my arms, doing nothing and giving God no chance to change a single thing.
It was Jackie, the maybe-connected-one-to-God who was praying. I was just sitting there.
Guilt dropped on me like a hammer. And so did the remembrance of many other things I didn’t do. . .
Like following through with a friend who came to church with me. I never made time to return to her house with love and the right words after that day.
Or being present for a friend dealing with a life near breakdown. I was too caught up in my own movements.
Or making the regular phone calls to the friends I know who are struggling in their marriages. I only saw my life.
Or taking a mom I met at my child’s school for coffee, like God prompted me to. I got distracted with other things.
Or making the time to meet with the people God placed around me for a time of impact, such as now. I forgot about them.
When we only see our world, we miss God’s world. The one he intentionally set before us – for impact. We miss his higher calling.
God’s higher callings feel like taking a lower road. They feel like setting aside our stuff. They feel like remembering the least of these. They feel like doing something when you’re tired. They feel like acting, anyway.
What higher calling might God be setting before you, where you have to take the lower road?
There is no day better than the present day to move on what he’s set before you. Move, so one day, like me, you don’t look back and say, “Sorry God, I forgot to do so much.”
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Gal. 6:9
I forgive you. In fact, I’ve already forgotten about what you’ve done. I’ve tied a weight around your worst and thrown it into the great abyss of my endless, all-consuming waters never to see it again.
So, why do you still hold on to it?
I’ve separated it from you. I’ve removed it hemispheres from your mind, being and soul. It’s so far, there is no sight of it in my eyes. There is no value to it in my economy.
So, why do you still hold on to it?
You expressed your remorse. You asked for forgiveness. It is done. I judge you not and I consider it not stuck to you, not even a grain.
So, why do you still hold on to it?
Hear this, I declare your righteous, holy and blameless. When I look at you, this is what I see. This is the sum of you are.
So, why do you still hold on to it?
Do you believe clinging on will help you improve? Be better? As if your fear will produce righteousness? As if slapping your own hand will finally make you act better?
If I don’t require this of you, why do you require it of yourself?
You want to hurt yourself so that you can finally be better. But, guess what? Jesus already took the hurt. He took the pain, for you. For moments just like these.
Jesus was forsaken, so you could be forgiven.
So, why do you still hold on to it?
It is not charges upheld, inflicted, that will mark you changed. But, charges released, absolved, that will give you hope, freedom to find my voice that will change you. In the space of forgiveness, you have room to hear my voice, to listen to my words, to find a new way, a different way. Here, your mind doesn’t talk like jury and judge. Here, you accept the fact – I’ve thrown out the court proceedings. Here, there is only new ground, a fresh day and the start of new opportunities – with me. Here, you find peace, you see my way and you uncover my revelations, progress and growth.
May I suggest you, let go?
Let go of what you can’t let go of. I’ll take it for you.
Lay back in the knowledge I’ll hold you. I won’t ever let you go.
Unclench your hands and believe I will lead you on your best path.
If you run after me, you will find me, when you search for me with all your heart.
What mistakes you keep seeing, have no value in the space between your eyes and mine.
For where we are going together, there is no need for dead weight and there is no necessity for you to control your own progress. I am the one molding you. I am the one keeping you. I am the one leading your family. I am the one in charge of your day. I am the one who you need. So, turn, face me and let’s go to where you haven’t been able to go because you’ve been holding all that.
Is there something in your life – you can’t forgive yourself for?
There is something, even today, I am still angry at myself for doing. I can’t tell you all the full story, although I wish I could. There are people, and places and things, that have to be protected. But, what you need to know is this: for a long time I’ve walked around with a pile of regret, loaded up with the bricks of fear that I can never rewrite the past.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. Eph. 1:17
Peace, Child. I call you blameless.
“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, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.” Eph. 1:13-14
Peace, Child. I call you blameless.
Did you hear me? I. call. you. blameless. Col. 1:22
Not blamed a little bit when “that girl” stands taller, thinner and richer.
Nor blamed when you royally drop all the marbles of so-called great faith.
Nor blamed when your mind starts to dig deep tracks into despair.
Nor blamed when you can’t seem to be sinless enough to win my accolades.
Nor blamed when don’t have as good as a comeback as that other person.
Nor blamed when you look like a walking zombie of motherhood.
Nor blamed when your house is messier than a city demolished post-tornado.
Nor blamed when you feel lowly, last or marginalized.
Blameless. Child. Blameless.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Eph. 1:4
Peace Child. I call you loved. Jo. 3:16
Not loved just when you’re performance is perfectly stepped and played.
But loved just as the unique creation I formed.
Your imperfections are what I call beauty. I know them and I love them.
Not like I love “her”–and for a good reason. She is not you, nor does she have your call.
I know how to love you, just as you need.
I know how to help you, just as my will prescribes.
I made you to be you, because I like you.
I made you to be you, because I have plans for you that no one else owns.
I made you to be you, because you know how to love the hurt that were hurt like you.
I made you as you, because there are people that need the most authentic being–of you.
I made you to be you, because I want you as mine. I enjoy you. I like you. I call you friend.
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I can’t get things straight with this person. I seem to bother them. I seem to aggravate them. I seem to be a burden on their life.
She who feelscondemns – condemns.
Have I been condemning?
The thought pressed closer to my chest, piercing my heart. Does their lack of approval regarding me, act like a boomerang, and move right back on them?
They seem irritated, so I get irritated because they are irritated and we stand at an impasse. They snap at me, later, I fear they’ll do it again, so I use a harsh voice. They don’t listen. I come down hard and demand to be heard.
Anger at myself settles. Once again, I’m the problem. I hate that feeling and its abysmal return.
She who is beating herself up can’t heal another one up.
More anger at myself settles in.
She who is not freed by grace can’t free others by grace.
More anger at myself settles in, except with it also comes the thought that if I really want progress, I really need to accept grace. Not just accept it in a way where I wear it on the outside, but instead, wear it, internally, like a stint that keeps the oxygen of my life flowing. One that keeps my heart beating and moving in ways that are transformational and life-giving to be both me and others.
Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment]. (Heb. 4:16 AMP)
I am welcome to walk right up to God’s grace; I can approach the throne of grace with all confidence and no fear. When I walk up to it, I need not think, I will be turned away, but I may just know mercy will be mine. It will be mine for every failure and it will work for me in my time of need. It will be an “appropriate blessing, coming at just the right moment.” I like this.
With this, I may approach this person differently.
Grace lets me move forward with imperfections and with room for my mistakes, faults and failures in Christ Jesus.
God’s love removes my need for a defensive spirit.
God’s mercy covers my guilt with new life.
God’s forgiveness is not something I should feel shame for receiving.
I am being developed into this likeness of Jesus and this takes time.
What might grace, seized with confidence and no fear,
look like in your life?
What form might God’s – “appropriate” and timely blessings –
take as you make space for them?
My heart is called today to be a grace-getter. Do you know what a grace-getter looks like?
It looks like a person who shoves fear down a ditch, then runs up to the foot of the cross. She waves her arms and says, “Hey God, over here. My ways aren’t working so well, God. I need you to relieve me of my pain.”
She who gets grace – gives grace.
She knows, in her time of need, God has things covered and the blood of Jesus is just enough.
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Every week, after church, I ask my son what song he sang. I wait. Half the time, I get no answer, the other half, I exert patience until he starts to belt it out from the back of the car. Almost always, a smile spreads across my face. Almost always, I can’t wait to hear his little voice reflect on God, but this time, it was different…
“Pat, the bible. Pat the bible….,” he sang out a couple of times…. “Or, you will get a con. se. quence.” he finished off.
Every time he sang it, it got a little louder, until the full volume of his voice filled the car. Sister joined in. It’s been the song of the week.
Is it the song of my life?
Why do I pat the bible?
Do I do it out of love or do I do it out of fear?
Do I draw near to God, because I fear God’s disapproval or
to sit under Jesus’ undue, but already-gifted approval?
To perform, due to fear of disapproval sounds like this:
– I must pray more.
– I really need to be more loving.
– I have to do my morning reading time.
– God won’t bless this.
– I will never meet his expectations of me.
– I will be less loved because of it.
– I am obligated to go to church.
– If I mess up, severe punishment awaits.
– I am a bad Christian.
I feel these ways sometimes, friends. I fear God will want to disown me because I haven’t paid the right Christian dues. I haven’t paid the piper enough. It is a horrible way to live; it serves the wrong kind of daddy – an impatient, punishing and demanding one.
“Pat the bible. Pat the bible – or you will get a con. se. quence.”
“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” (Psalm 145:8)
God knows I sin. God knows, even my good acts are bad (Is. 64:6).
I know it too; this is my fear. I look at my heart, it strays. I look at my mind, it doubts. I look at my ways, they reek of impatience.
God, do you hate me for the ways I hate myself?
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 Jo. 4:18)
With gentleness, these words remind me, He waits for me – not like a jailer, but like a releaser, with the key. He’s ready to fling wide the gates of outpouring love as I truly draw near to his heart. To get there, I have to find myself sitting under grace.
To sit under undue approval sounds like this:
I am sorry, God. Thank you that you still love me.
I don’t need to do anything, for it is only you that I need.
If I find your love, I will find my life.
I seek your Word, because I love your Words.
My best is not good, but your good is all I need.
Your kindness leads to repentance, so walk me to it, God. (Ro. 2:4)
Thank you that you continue to love me, even though…
The gentle truth is: God doesn’t look at our performance, he looks at our heart.He goes beyond curtains and stages and facades to get a look at the behind the scenes footage. Why not, let God in more?
Why not, lay down our shows? Sure, we won’t rule the hows or the whens, but God will mold us in the reflection of his face of love and adoration.
Getting “Good with Grace” Prayer
God, I am not who I pretend to be. I want you to see me as a good girl. So often, I feel like a bad girl, though. Thank you that, with you, there is no need for masks and makeup. You want to see me as I am; I don’t scare you. You can handle my worst as I bring it to you. With this, I no longer want to cower before you, I want to kneel – arms-wide-open – and look into your face of love. I want that face of love to change me. I want to know there is no fear present in your love that will always flow towards me. I want to sit under the cross of Jesus, knowing that it shades me from your contempt. Help me stay there. You are the face of freedom. I thank you for Jesus. I love you; may it prove genuine. Amen.
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I see so many things called “impossibilities” right now. Blockades to progress. Markers of all I haven’t been able to push through. Barricades of defeat. A funny thing happens with these things. Maybe you have noticed? The more we pass them, ponder them and pay attention to them, the less they look like barriers and the more they look like graven images.
They normally are the things God didn’t fulfill. Things left undone. Things that torture a soul with the word, “unknown.”
They exist and then they start to rule over us, like this:
I deserve to live in defeat.
I can’t do it.
I will never find days “better”.
Quicksand is my destiny.
God doesn’t really care that I am stuck.
He won’t help me out.
I can’t make it.
I can’t do this thing before me.
I will fall down and get hurt.
Others have it easier.
Yet, when we know the end from the beginning, we know we will end up okay. Just consider this...
It is easy to look at our kids and say, “Trust me, when you get older, it will get better, people won’t be as mean.”
Or to be stuck in traffic and say, “I am dead stopped, but soon enough I will get moving.”
Or to watch a movie and know, “I will be okay at the end of this show, this ordeal will end.”
Never give up.
Our bodies may be dying, but our spirits are being renewed every day.
For troubles are small and won’t last,
but they are producing great glory that will last forever!
So don’t look at the trouble you see,
look at what you have not seen.
Your troubles will soon be over,
but ur joys will last forever.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
When we really know the “agony” will end,
we don’t agonize.
When we stop relying on what we see, we start seeing God’s predictable and promised outcome. We feel safe.
When we see the finish line of pain,
we start to live in courage, rather than discouraged.
When we believe in what will come together, we consider less what never has.
I wonder, how are you living? His Word is sure-fire. More sure-fire than any of those circumstances above. We can’t always see his workings, but we can be certain they will fire through to change the landscape of everything, always.
It’s not so much about what we see and it is always about what we don’t. It is not so much about what we “get,” but always about what he is working to give. It is not so much about there here and now, but much more about the “will come” – and the holiness that also arrives in our own heart.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Prov 3:5-6
We don’t have to understand,
we just have to stand to believe he is working
under the gears of our lives.
Stand to know encouragement: that the pain that stands before you – will end.
Not discouragement: that what you are confronted with will always be.
Where are you dwelling? In lands of possibilities or impossibilities?
Are you looking at what will never change or at what God has all power to change?
When we fear the unknown, we actually fear the idea of being out of control. We fear that we are losing our ability to impact a darn think – and we actually are. This is the point; God doesn’t want you in control – he wants you to know he is. Not once. Not twice. But all the time.
Yesterday, I offered a challenge of losing “control”. Of walking in greater surrender. I would love for you to join me in this pursuit to “let go and let God.” For 31 days, we will push through a slice of control we continually want to eat. What is it for you? Might you consider releasing? If so, join in. The bloggers who take part in this will be writing about it on November 9. I am excited to share a portion of their journey too.
Let go. What we let go of, can’t rule us inside.The hole that it leaves is replaced by more of God. More hope. More renewal. More encouragement. More life.
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9 NLT).
Enjoyed “Living Encouraged”? Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.
Bloggers, I have moved the guest post submission deadline out to November 16. I know many of you have a busy October.
Occasionally you meet a person you know is an instant friend. Location doesn’t matter, distance doesn’t care and methods of communication aren’t valid – what you know is that this one counts for something. This is how I feel about Rachel Macy Stafford. She shines all things pure and beautiful and it is my delight to know and love her.
In other exciting news, Rachel’s latest book, HANDS FREE LIFE, has permanently marked my heart with awe-inspiring and heartfelt life change. I feel my life going from bouncy ball crazy, to focused and intentional. I feel my attention moving from scattered to attentive. I feel my heart charging from empty to full again. I feel grace speaking, rather than condemnation. This book has reserved a permanent spot on my bookshelf of “keepers;” I will be referencing her words for my whole life, I know that. Thank you Rachel, just thank you. I feel your love in this book.
Welcome to Purposeful Faith as a guest contributor for a day.
Understandably, many people want to talk to me about distraction. More specifically, they want to tell me about the distraction incidents they witness in their neighborhoods, at restaurants, parks, and sporting events. They want to tell me about the texting drivers sitting next to them at stoplights. Many well-intentioned people want to tell me how sad it makes them feel to see distracted people oblivious to their loved ones.
I must admit, these comments make me uncomfortable.
My mission for sharing my Hands Free journey is not to bash the distracted people of the world. My mission for sharing this journey is to bring awareness … namely, self-awareness … the kind of self-awareness I was lacking a few years ago.
Because you see, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about where I came from.
I was that distracted person oblivious to her loved ones.
I was that distracted person texting at stoplights.
I was that distracted person who made excuses as to why I was too busy to spend quality time with my family.
I was that distracted person who couldn’t see my beautiful life slipping right through my busy little fingers.
But I can assure you the judgment was harsh. The judgment was cruel. It was downright unbearable at times. But this condemnation didn’t come from an outside observer, well-meaning friend, or loving companion. Oh no, this ridicule came directly from me.
If you have read my “About Hands Free” page then you know that taking an honest look at the way I was living (or more accurately, not living) was a necessary step in my Hands Free life transformation. In fact, meaningful efforts to let go of distraction would have never happened (or lasted) without honestly evaluating the cost of my distraction.
But despite the fact that assessing my behavior was a vital step in changing my distracted ways, living in regret was not. I’ve come to realize that continually berating myself over what I missed is a waste of precious time. Self-forgiveness and healing have been just as much a part of this journey as my difficult truths.
But every now and then I get waves of remembrance—a taste of “life overwhelmed”, just enough to sting me, just enough to bring tears to my eyes.
It happened the other day. I’d stayed up too late working the night before. I had several deadlines to meet, and I was not as close as I hoped on any of them. I needed to get the kids to a swim meet. We were late. I was tired. The word “Mama” began every single sentence that came from my children’s lips whether I was actually needed or not.
And there I stood in front of the pantry, unable to remember what I came there to get. Part of me wanted to shut the door to that little space, huddle under the boxes of Fiber One cereal, and cry.
That’s when I heard it.
It didn’t use the exact phrase that originated in the years of my highly distracted life, but it came painfully close.
“You are a bad mom”was the token phrase my inner bully liked to hiss during my highly distracted years whenever I felt like I was falling short in the parenting department. I’d almost forgotten I used to say such hurtful things to myself.
But then again, I don’t think I will ever completely forget.
I gave up on whatever it was that I intended to get from the pantry and told my children I needed a moment. I went to my bedroom and turned on my fan for soothing white noise and began reminding myself.
I reminded myself that The One who loves me, The One who took my hand and placed me on this transformative journey, still loves me even when I fail miserably.
I reminded myself that I am not perfect and that even the “best” parents have their moments of self-doubt and frustration.
I reminded myself of how I reacted when a tornado came scarily close to our house. It was the day I realized the fierce love I have for my family outweighs my shortcomings, failures, and imperfections.
I would run through fire to spare them.
I would beg kidnappers to take me in order to free them.
I would offer my plasma, my organs, and every single one of my limbs to save them.
I would sacrifice my life without hesitation, without question, if it meant allowing my loved ones to live.
Even in my most distracted, overtired, stressed-out state, my fierce love for my family is always ready, willing, and able.
Once I was finished reminding myself of these important things, I said a prayer of thanks and released a heavy sigh. I centered my disheveled, puffy-eyed self directly in front of the bathroom mirror and said one word.
As in: Give yourself some, Rachel.
A few minutes later, my children and I were on our way to the swim meet. I turned on one of our favorite songs, which beautifully articulates the value of human scars and imperfections. I felt a slight smile come to my lips as I listened to my children belt out the chorus from the backseat:
“These bruises, Makes for better conversation Loses the vibe that separates
It’s good to let you in again You’re not alone in how you’ve been Everybody loses—we all got bruises.”
I suddenly feel better.
I just needed a moment.|
Don’t we all?
I think we all do—at some point in our day … our week … our life—need a moment.
And so when I hear someone describing the unbecoming behavior of a distracted person, I cannot join in the condemnation. I once was that person and remain a work-in-progress. And that is okay. That is human.
The other day, someone I love and respect as a parent and human being said something powerful to me. My mother said, “Rachel, even at your most distracted, you were always a good parent.”
With those words, the divine light of forgiveness shined like a beacon for my misdirected soul.
Even on days when I can’t tear myself away from my distractions …
Even on days when I overreact over something trivial …
Even on days that I obsess over bulges and wrinkles and things that don’t matter one bit in the end …
Even on days when I want to lock myself in the pantry and weep …
Even on days when I am at my worst,
I remain that person who would sacrifice her life
to spare her loved ones from pain and tragedy.
Perhaps you know someone who would make the same sacrifice. I bet you do.
So when you see that less-than-perfect woman or man staring back at you in the mirror … or the one at the restaurant who can’t quite seem to put down the phone and see the gifts in front of him or her … I ask that you extend grace, rather than judgment.
Rachel Macy Stafford is the founder of www.handsfreemama.com where she provides simple ways to let go of daily distraction and grasp what matters most in life. She is the New York Times bestselling author of HANDS FREE MAMA. Her highly anticipated book, HANDS FREE LIFE, releases in one week! It is a book about living life, not managing, stressing, screaming, or barely getting through life. Through truthful story-telling and life-giving Habit Builders, Rachel shows us how to live better and love more despite the daily distractions and pressures that try to pull us away.
Those who pre-order HANDS FREE LIFE from now
until September 7 receive the FREE e-book of HANDS FREE MAMA.
Click here to learn more about the book and pre-order bonus.
Bloggers, share this offer with your readers and with @handsfreemama!
I can’t stop remembering.
I want to, but I can’t.
Already processed words, feelings and hurts remain pressed up in me – concentrated.
Like cars at a landfill, I have squeezed in so much; these memories tower high.
Sure, I want to wave goodbye, but my mind holds on as if I am losing a long lost friend.
Sure, I want to finally turn my back on the, tears, embarrassment, shame and pain – but it seems I would negate or excuse all that happened.
So, I hold on, like one carrying a stinky diaper.
I hold on like one dealing with month-old trash.
I hold on like a 2-year old looking around at who may hit them next.
I keep my stink near, out of fear.
Why? Yes, I raise my hand, to acknowledge what I am about to tell you is a lie. But it lures me every time.
Tying myself up in yesterday,
will keep my heart from being tied up today.
So, I keep my antennae’s up and out; threats are analyzed.
My warning bells are working and tested; safety walls can fly up.
On-demand memories are readily available;
they are the boot camp to my feet, helping me to run as needed.
But, does my strategy even work? Because it seems I spend a lot of time in the landfill – walking over bad waste, smelly pieces and unloved emotions.
I can’t help but ask, does being around the stinky
somehow generate the sacred?
I don’t think so. So, why do I keep doing it?
My delay in demolishing only seems to work in demolishing my heart yet again.
That is what happens to wastelands of bad memories, they only hang out to make things more disgusting. I don’t want to allow flies to buzz, mold to grow and my heart to grow cold to others because of the garbage that I can’t seem to unload.
The reality is, when I take a hard and fast look:
Reserving these pains doesn’t revive my worth.
Remembering the frustration doesn’t relieve my agony.
Reliving these pinpricks doesn’t reject future hurts.
It just doesn’t. And, God knows it too.
Simply said, he tells us, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” Is. 48:13
I love what comes next even more:
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself. that they might declare my praise. Is. 48:19-21
Notice this: Here, God doesn’t care much about fixing an old thing;
he cares about doing a new thing!
He cares about:
Generating life out of now-dead things. Making the wild-ones obey and honor him. Giving water to the souls with holes. Providing for his chosen people.
When we see past the days of old,
we see the abundance of God.
When we keep our heart in today,
we suddenly step up above the fray.
God wants to give us the essential and the substantial
to fill us with his potential.
Notice the result? It is powerful. God in his wisdom protects our skittish mind from doing what it loves to do best. He prevents us from acting like a pig in a trough – returning to his old stink.
He replaces our precautionary stance with a praised-filled one.
Suddenly our arms move from crossed to open.
Our eyes look from side-to-side, to straight up.
Our heart is laid down at his feet, just trying to inch closer to his goodness, rather than closed up in safety walls.
Our eyes are open to see goodness rather than pain. Restoration rather than hardship. Glory rather than trash.
And, it is beautiful, budding beautiful, sunrise beautiful, springtime beautiful. It captures our eyes with new hopes, new dreams and new what-ifs. It opens up a whole new world – a fresh, exciting and adventurous world.
I guess the choice is mine, it’s ours… We can choose to sit in the pain of yesterday
or we can choose to sit in the glory of today.
I know which one I am going to pursue.
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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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I try, I fail.
I parent, I don’t do a good enough job.
I try to do right with my husband, but I take the wrong approach.
I reverse my car and slam it into my babysitter’s.
I serve another and get anxious in frustration.
I pray to be patient, but I’m impatient with the never-ending tears.
I want to be a good daughter, but feel like I have no time.
I say more of you God, but get distracted by life.
All the time, I feel not good enough, not together enough and not smart enough to do things right.
All the time, I drop the ball in one way or another.
But, under the surface of all my failings, below the layer of trials that lay on me, I have a choice to make.
Under the muck that seeks to keep me stuck in little lies that could lead to my demise, yes, this choice still remains:
Will I believe what God says about me?
Or will I believe what I feel about me?
Because the truth is, my feelings will sink me deeper and deeper into guilt, shame and a feeling of hopelessness, while God’s truth will lift me higher and higher into peace, power and a sense of fullness.
The truth is: God will keep me.
He will keep me in the palm of his hand.
He will keep me from harm.
He will keep his presence in front of me, behind me, above me and below me.
He will keep me in the beauty he displays through the sun, the wind and the waves.
He will keep my foot from slipping.
He will walk me in truth.
He will show me another way when the enemy comes to tempt.
He will guide me by the Spirit.
He will pray for me when I don’t even know how.
He will forgive and throw out every stone of sin I have confessed.
He will never let me go.
He will never forget me.
He will always keep me.
He will prepare a room in heaven for me.
He will comfort me in the meantime.
He will listen to my every prayer.
He will work all things together for good for me, because I love him and am called according to his purpose.
He will always be for me.
He will always advocate for me.
He will help me in my moments of distress.
He will give to me as a father gives to a beloved daughter.
He will be by my side.
He will always know my heart.
He will always know my thoughts.
He will always provide me his truth.
And, he will never pluck me from his hand.
He will never say goodbye to me based on my actions.
He will never ever no-way, no-how, stop loving me.
This is how good my God is!
His words speak like a permanent love letter to my heart.
Because God is who He is. He is the great I AM. If you just ARE, you can never change.
I can change, but he can’t.
I can do a bad thing and feel plucked from his hand, or fall and feel less than or I sin and feel unforgivable, but his character can’t be altered.
I can change how I act, but he is always the same. He is always one ready to forgive, standing right beside me, hand on my shoulder – willing to love.
The question is, “Will I believe it?”
Doesn’t it really come down to faith?
Will I believe he will keep me?
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Ps. 139.13-14)
Did you notice this line – “I know that full well”?
Do you know it full well that you are always his, eternally adored and always accepted because you are a child of the living King?
Let’s go from believing by the power of our mind to believing by the depths of our soul.
It will make all the difference in the world – to know full well.
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