Enough is Enough

We’ve all heard a stern, “Enough is enough!” Often it’s said with a punishment tone. Or maybe you’ve whispered this to yourself because your schedule is too tightly packed, and if you have one more demand from someone else you might break. God disrupted this fist-to-the-ground, eyes-wide-open mentality recently. He gently spoke through John 4 alongside Jennie Allen’s Nothing to Prove. He revealed that when He is enough, it is always enough. There’s nothing left to go searching for; I have all I need in Him. Enough is truly enough with God. Yes, I’ve known this, but it doesn’t always make its way in my heart and the way I live my days.

 

Aren’t we all so tired of being empty? When will we learn that these things don’t keep us full? I want this full life of resting in Him and feeling that these demands are much less weighted when I let God carry them for me while I walk with Him. It is time to run to Jesus for this living, sustaining water—the kind that never makes me thirsty again (John 4:13). I’ve lived my days passing Jesus up for my own version of enough. In this way I feel such a connection with the Samaritan woman in John 4; she didn’t even recognize Jesus as the Messiah and he was right in front of her! He had to plainly tell her who he is in verse 26. Like you and I, she didn’t recognize “enough” when it was directly in her reach. Thank goodness for Jesus’ grace to gently show us what we’re missing so we can live a full life.

 

What I love most about Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman is that Jesus came close to her when she was living a life of sin and looking for earthly “water” as her source of sustenance. She didn’t have it all together. And how graceful of God to give us His Word packed with imperfect people like you and I that can look to the stories when Jesus came close despite the mess.

 

I don’t know about you, but my “enough” has been chasing deadlines, keeping up with people I’ve never met on social media, and running errands on my days off. I know I’ve tried to be enough and be put together. And when I chase my own version of “enough”, everything leaves me empty. Maybe your enough is different. Maybe you try to be a “perfect” mom or wife, maybe you feel the pressure of finances, the pressure of “one mistake away from… (fill in the blank)”, or the pressure of opinions. The result is the same: empty.

 

Enough is enough with our own chase after what we thought was a fulfilled life. His enough is always enough. He is enough. I choose this life of living out of abundance and not scarcity. It seems like rest always leaves room for more anyway.

 

Going Deeper:

 

What are you chasing that you think will fulfill you?

 

What changes can you make today to rest in God’s “enough”?

 

What is God telling you to put down so you can fill your bucket with His living water?

 

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The Freedom of Enough

I’ve lived my life believing that making mistakes meant I wasn’t good enough, and I was too scared to try something I knew I wasn’t good at. And forget working at something to actually get better; that meant I would have to endure the self-talk of “not ____ enough”. Needless to say, boredom from slow progress struck, and I would return to what I’m good at. At the Outcry tour in Fresno, Christine Caine spoke about shame; she shared that it was the first repercussion of sin (when Adam and Eve hid from God in Genesis 3). And when she countered “shame on you” with “shame off you”, I realized that the only one (almost) who had shamed me was myself.

 

What even is a perfectionist? When I was young, people defined it for me. They would say I was a perfectionist because I was too distraught about my mistakes. And it sounded pretty. It sounded perfect–like something I wanted to be. It sounded like I wouldn’t have such a hard time if I just didn’t mess up. And that’s what started the hamster wheel of achieving.

 

Achieving has shown up in sports, in music, in writing, in my relationships, and in my marriage.

 

Achieving creeps into my heart when I choose the wrong words with the wrong tone. It creeps in when “it’s just taking me too long to get this right.” It creeps in when I have to answer a fifth person that I am still not graduating from college this year. It’s when I realize I’m not okay with my flaws.

 

I know I am not the only one who has thought these ugly lies. And dare I say that I know I am not the only one who has let these thoughts define me. They do not show the truth of God behind them, and they hang on shameful thinking.

 

Brené Brown speaks about perfectionism in her book, Daring Greatly:

 

“Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval. Most perfectionists grew up being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule following, people pleasing, sports, appearance). Somewhere along the way, they adopted this dangerous and debilitating belief system: ‘I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform. Perfect.’ Healthy striving is self-focused: How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused: What will they think? Perfectionism is a hustle” (Brown, 129).

 

I’m disgusted with perfection, yet I run back. When will I stop running back? How do I stop running back? As I asked myself this question, God interrupted me and answered, “Run to me.” Can I be honest? I kept myself from writing about this because I haven’t mastered this progress of mine. How ironic, right? When God first started speaking to me about this, I didn’t want to pretend to have overcome this and preach about how you can fix it too. So I wont. I won’t tell you how to overcome it; I will tell you about the journey of progress God is taking me on, and I’ll invite you too. Progress is another way to say, “this stuff doesn’t happen overnight”. This is my daily progress of telling the enemy he can not have a bite of my perfectionism sandwich. It does not ruin my identity, because my identity is not found in being perfect. It is being found in being created by God.

 

So here is progress: there are no strings attached–just grace from God and a little grace toward myself too.

 

  1. God names us for his purpose. I love that Peter’s name means “rock”, yet his lack of faith made him unstable when he was walking on water. Jesus calls us by His identity, not ours. If we live allowing Christ to define us, we don’t have to compensate failures for our next successes. We can just rest in His perfection. With this new identity we can be free of our own impossible standards, and God receives the credit for it.
  2. He has given us freedom but we have to walk in it. In the Old Testament, there was the law. This was the closest they could get to God: to obey it, and sacrifice a clean animal when they messed up. But then Jesus came. He erased this because he was that perfect sacrifice we needed to live in freedom. I have been marching up ladders of perfection for too long without remembering and living in the grace and freedom of Jesus. This compensating for failures is no longer our responsibility as believers. I am so thankful for the cross.
  3. I can be excellent, but it won’t be perfect. Philippians 3:12 reminds us to take hold of living a life to please God; we can do this because Jesus has taken hold of us! As believers, our goal in this life is eternal thinking, but our source is Jesus, not our flesh.
  4. God has a way of reminding us where our source comes from. John 4 is one of my favorite passages. Jesus is talking to the Samaritan woman at the well. She maintains her lifestyle by replenishing her own needs, yet Jesus tells her that he has living water to offer her that will never leave her empty. I know I run back to my standards; I think that my idea of “perfect” will satisfy. But the truth is, it leaves me empty and I have to keep up with my own race. This is not what God intends. It’s not who he’s created us to be.
  5. Know God’s voice, not man’s. 1 Samuel 3:1-21 (for more context read 1 Samuel 1 and 2), Samuel is staying with Eli. He lies down and hears his name, but repeatedly runs to Eli. It was in fact God’s voice speaking to Samuel. God has very important things to speak to us, and if you’re like me, you’ve allowed people’s voices and outside opinions to be louder than God’s voice. I want to be marked by listening to the voice of God.
  6. God stands alone. And he created us to need him. The enemy will lie to us and say, “If that is less than perfect, it doesn’t need to be displayed.” I am starting to realize this as his weak plea to sabotage my calling of sharing my words. And I know I’m not alone. Perfection might halt your next steps too. We see it plastered all over social media and commercial ads, tempting us to attain its photo-finish. It puts “me” in the place of God who stands alone. All too often, we have lived as if we stand alone.

 

This sticky progress is changing my life. It is never perfected, and I am starting to think that God loves this silly irony–me trying to perfectly outsmart perfectionism and live more grace-filled. It is the journey I’m inviting you on too. This journey is a lot of mess-ups, a lot of “no filters”, and if we’re honest, this journey is rarely pictured. But the grace is so much sweeter, and it’s the kind of sweet that tastes bitter at first. If you let Him, He will expose you to His perfection and you’ll find it’s an overflowing “enough” that you couldn’t make on your own.

 

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

 

-1 Corinthians 12:10

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Less Yes

On a chilly morning recently, I was scrambling out the door. This was yet another day I decided to race the clock as I swiped my makeup on, made breakfast, and packed my lunch for work. I said my goodbyes and walked slowly so my cereal wouldn’t slip off my coffee (yes, I was trying to balance this with one hand). I successfully made it to the car when my cereal slid off the top of the car. Milk splattered on the ground and on my window. And now I have this graceful, funny story to tell.

But I also have another thing to share: I try to balance too much. I mean really, I do. And I know I’m not alone. This coming year, I know that I will hear of lots of resolutions: more exercise, more saving, more healthy eating. But I want less.

Less worrying. Less time that’s consumed. Less juggling.

I know this is the way God meant for it to be. He meant for us to be filled with more of him, and not wasting our breath filling up on the things we chase after.

Luke 10:38 describes Jesus with Mary and Martha. Mary was the one who welcomed Jesus in, but Martha let the busyness distract her from sitting with Jesus. She had so much to do that she wanted Mary to step away from Jesus to help her finish the to-do list.

Martha was distracted by good things; she was trying to prepare for hosting Jesus. But Mary chose the better option. It was the option contrary to our flesh. She listened to her spirit and chose stillness.

I know that’s how I am sometimes. I am so distracted by “good” that I forget what’s better. And that is to sit and listen to Jesus.

We have to choose. I’ve been bad at choosing; sometimes I’ve let my schedule choose for me.

But in 2018, come along with me to choose Jesus—less yes to everything else.

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Easy Love

“I’ll love if I’m in the mood.”

“I’ll love if they agree with me.”

“I’ll love if I gain from it.”

“I’ll love to get what I want.”

“I’ll love as soon as I get the last word in.”

 

This is what easy love looks like. Love is really thrown around, mostly masked with bitterness (ironic, huh?). I’ve seen these words displayed almost everyday in actions in public, on the news, and on social media. And the sad thing is this type of tainted love is covered in pride. I’m guilty of it; we all are now more than ever.

 

Maybe love isn’t as easy as we thought. Maybe Jesus was right; maybe we don’t have to agree to love one another. Maybe I really can love my enemies and pray for the ones who curse me (Matthew 5:43-44). Maybe my Facebook status feed of rants are wrong; maybe love takes wisdom to swallow our selfish nature and do uncomfortable, God-glorifying things.

 

And maybe—just maybe—the Church has poorly exemplified what it means to speak with both truth and love. You know, the kind that’s both decisive and unwavering, yet filled with grace. May the Church be the one who tells the world that disagreement does not mean hate. May we not only tell them, but also show them.

 

I’m starting to see the consequences of a society that’s used to having everything catered to “me” at the speed of light. Enough is never enough, and it’s turned us into a greedy, ever-growing monster. It’s making us selfish and ungrateful; it’s making us angry and hateful. We are disrespectful, scared, and unable to compromise. We have forgotten how to live with difference…not just tolerate it by harboring anger, but loving the differences and the people.

 

I have several challenges for you if you want a genuine love. This love is not easy, but it is pure freedom. So here they are:

 

  1. When you turn on the news, pray for the people you see.
  2. Respect authority. If it is your boss, if it is your teacher, if it is our President, each need prayer. And the best part is we don’t always have to be in agreement to show respect. And thank Jesus for giving us grace on the cross so we can show it to those that are harder to love and respect (Romans 13:1).
  3. Love even if you don’t feel like it (1 Corinthians 13, Matthew 5:46-47).
  4. Don’t add gas to the fire of arguments—YES, social media does count (Proverbs 15:1, Proverbs 26:21).
  5. Speak with truth of the Word and love of God—neither all grace nor harsh condemnation (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
  6. Live life not by the flesh, but by the Spirit (Romans 8:5-11). Oh, it is so unlike the human nature, but there is freedom on the other side.
  7. Listen first (James 1:19, Ephesians 4:26).
  8. Be filled by Jesus daily (Luke 6:45).

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not saying this is easy; in fact, it’s brutally harder day-by-day. But living for God is not easy. In a world that runs to violence to obtain freedom, let’s show them the right way. Let’s show them that love does not crumble, but it restores. May we not leave the world confused, but with their questions answered by God’s love.

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Close The Door Behind You

“Close the door behind you.”

 

It’s a common phrase that maybe you’ve heard when you’re leaving the house. Maybe it’s a simple-minded task to close the door when you rush out the door, but God reminded me that it’s not just for the daily rush. Sometimes we need to be reminded to close the door on the things we leave so we can walk into something new.

 

Transition is hard. I’ve had my share of change and transition in the past two years. I’ve learned to accommodate to the change; I’ve thrown my hands up on this roller coaster and embraced the ride because somewhere in between the huge drops there’s really fun parts to laugh. And if I’m honest, transition implies that I have to leave some great things behind. I don’t always want to do that, and I know I’m not alone.

 

Somewhere scrolling through social media, we’ve stumbled across cliché quotes that beg us to believe that there’s better things ahead for us. But it’s really hard to believe that when you are closing the door on your own plans that crumbled. You close this door in faith that God has a better plan than you can dream up for yourself.

 

I know of a few Israelites who looked back on the past and were wandering in the desert wishing away the very freedom that God gave them (Exodus 16). God gave them the very food they needed in order to move forward out of captivity, yet they were blind to God’s grace because they decided their way was better than whatever provision he was trying to give them. I don’t want to live like this. I want to be confident in my transitions from one door to the next. Sometimes it requires patience—a lot of patience. Sometimes it requires remembering that God is good, worth my trust, and a promise keeper.

 

I have no idea what type of transition you are in. I have no clue what amazing things you are forced to leave behind in this new season. But I do know one thing: if you dare shut that door behind you (to maybe some amazing things that make it hard to leave), God will surprise you. It’s hard to believe that our future can be as beautiful as some of the things we are leaving behind. But if you shut the door behind you and walk in faith, God will be right there to walk to the next place with you. Ask God to help you see the beauty in shutting that door—and leaving all of that (whatever “that” is to you personally) to stay behind you.

 

I know it is hard. But I can tell you it’s possible. Don’t be scared to leave the beautiful behind you to step into what God has next. God is good at making beautiful twice.

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Honest Hour

I have fallen into the trap of believing that whatever I write a blog post about, I have to have already perfected. This is such a lie, and it struck me as I read part of Lysa TerKeurst’s Uninvited this morning. We humans are a work in progress and it’s so important for us to admit that we aren’t perfect. More importantly, it’s important for me to admit that I do not have it all together, and I never want this to stop my ability to let God use my words through my imperfect heart. I do not have to master everything I discuss. And while God does a work in my heart with the things I post, He is ultimately the one who speaks through me. And sometimes, I am blown away at the things that come from the pen to paper because He is in control of the thoughts and words coming through my mind when I shut out distractions. I know I’m not the only one (pause to serenade Sam Smith for everyone) who feels this pressure from either myself or any other outside factor to have it together as a Christian. The danger is when we regard our appearance for people over what God sees (Galatians 1:10).

I can think of a couple people who made a mess and tried to look perfect on the outside: Adam and Eve. In Genesis 3, they both hid from God because they were afraid of honesty and being exposed. But I’ve learned that being exposed and vulnerable actually medicates the addiction of looking perfect on the outside. Let us face the reality that looking at our sin or shortcoming in the face is not pretty. But like Adam and Eve, healing comes after we face the ugly. When we realize we are messy, that we have poison on our flesh, and we have created a tangle of lies, God can redeem and restore. And He is really good at it.

Leading from a place of vulnerability is not a matter of complaining about your struggles in order that others can fill the gap for you; rather, it is about sharing the brokenness we all experience, and giving God the glory in the ways He is walking alongside you.

So, what are we supposed to do with this? How can we become vulnerable?

We admit that we cannot be perfect (1 John 1:8-9), and we accept God’s invitation to come close. Sometimes you might not have to look or listen too much in order to hear God. This is not the case for me in this season. I am in a place of being silent because God’s voice is a whisper. I am fine-tuning my ears because God is leading me in less obvious ways than I have been used to in the past year. Regardless of where you find yourself, we need to choose to accept the invitation to His presence in every single day. He invites us to come close (James 4:8). He is already here, but when we choose to come, it changes everything.

The very name of Jesus is Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). What a fitting name for the God that lives inside our hearts and walks alongside our imperfections even when we mask them as perfections.

There are distinct moments when people in the Bible chose to accept the invitation of God to come near and He met them there. The common thread for each one: faith to show up and vulnerability to be seen through mistakes. God is showing me that vulnerability present tense; it is not vulnerability only after I have cleaned up my mess (or so I think). In order to expose my faults, it requires the faith to believe God’s grace loves me through this, and if you allow Him, He will meet you right in that mess and restore your soul.

 

But enough about my words. Try it for yourself.

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Good Grief: I’m Not Mad at God Anymore

It’s been one whole year without my mom. And I’ve decided that cancer sucks. It stole my mom’s health, and it eventually stole the presence of her life in everyone she knew.  However, it did not steal joy. Yes, it ripped the breath of happiness right out of each of our lungs when reports stated worse each time, but joy was always present. Peace was incomprehensible (Philippians 4:7). Only Jesus Christ himself could give that so graciously in the most devastating moments of life, whether “cancer” is a part of your vocabulary or not. Because the truth is, we’ve all faced loss of some sort: a job, friendship or relationship, loved one, home, or sense of normal. And Jesus paid to restore all of it.

 

In case you are unfamiliar with part one of this post, I was pretty angry with God in this very week last year. And as much as I hate grief, I am a different person than I was on July 29, 2015. God uses grief and loss to mold, sharpen, and fine tune the best in us. God does an amazing job at taking the most broken parts of our souls and restoring them back to health. This year has been the toughest of my life, but He has walked with me and my family through each moment. I’ve seen Him stay the same as He always has been. And I’m not mad at Him anymore.

 

Lessons learned about life and God after a year of grief:

  • It’s okay to be mad at God
  • But then work through it
  • It’s okay to question the goodness of God
  • Sometimes there are just no words
  • Comfort is 99.9% better than any advice
  • God uses people, so look
  • Jesus is truly enough to satisfy every need
  • It’s okay to skip English on a Tuesday for Starbucks with your best friend to cry instead
  • God does understand
  • Grief sucks
  • No, everything does not happen for a reason
  • No, God didn’t do this because He thought I was “strong enough to handle it” (my weakness equals His strength- 2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • God is Healer…on earth and heaven
  • He comforts the brokenhearted
  • He turns a mess into joy
  • Tears aren’t for the weak
  • Humanity was made for community
  • Family is a beautiful thing
  • Healing does not equal forgetting
  • Relationship with God shatters religion
  • Sometimes it’s hard to mutter “God is good”; lean into the questions
  • He cares so much that He’d walk with me in the darkest pit of my life
  • Thank God for Jesus’ death that paid for my joy
  • Cancer sucks. Cancer sucks a lot
  • So does death
  • Sarcasm is just enough to get you through
  • The pain of earth reminds us of the beauty of heaven
  • God will care for you; you might have to look harder right now though
  • His peace is truly dumbfounding
  • Now is not the time to expect a lot from yourself
  • You will make it through, but you can’t go around
  • Don’t waste precious days by worrying
  • God is not punishing you
  • God didn’t leave me
  • God isn’t afraid of your honesty…or your questions
  • Worship isn’t circumstantial
  • Life doesn’t stop for you to grieve; you have to multitask
  • Grief reveals the tender, gracious, loving heart of God
  • Sometimes tears are the best (and only) prayers
  • Counseling. Please save your life and go (sometimes your dog counts)
  • You can trust God despite the questions
  • “Why” is the beginning of faith
  • God loves you even if you’re mad
  • He has amazing plans to prosper your life–still (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

 

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Our Heaven on Earth

It really wasn’t until my mom passed away that I experienced the distance between heaven and earth. There is such a separation between the perfection of heaven and the brokenness of earth. I am thankful that my mom is experiencing the fullness of God, and she is whole and well in a perfect heaven we can only dream of until we experience it ourselves. I can’t help but wonder how perfect it must be, because we remain on an earth filled with sorrow, heartache, fear, uncertainty, and brokenness. Because I’ve become aware of this separation, I am hungry for the perfection of God. That’s what we long for. It’s the emptiness we feel when we’re lost; we need Jesus to fill it. I long for that closeness of God where I don’t have to experience a deep pain like we do on earth. Wars, bad test results, job losses, mistakes, and deaths. But because of Jesus we can experience heaven on earth.

 

We can be made whole, and we have an answer to that longing for God’s presence: Jesus. Though the world shakes with terrible news, diseases, tears, and heartache, we have the strength of God because Jesus Christ was heaven sent to earth. He flooded the earth with heaven and Jesus is the threshold to that paradise. How intimate that such a God would send Jesus to be the pathway for us. Jesus came as a tangible gift when he came as heaven in the form of flesh and bone. Even though we are made in the likeness of God, he came down to walk a life in the flesh; a man born into an unforgiving, selfish world who was willing to live among imperfection despite being perfect.

 

Jesus is the very threshold we enter to the presence of the Holy Spirit. He is heaven itself that entered the fragments of earth. Even you and I were born in a more dignifying way than he was. His humble arrival was less than perfect. No one could even make room for Mary to deliver the one who would save the world. But he accepted a life of imperfection. How loving of God that he would think up a solution to our mess by allowing Jesus to experience this painful world. He is the hope of the world, and he’s alive in us. Because of Jesus I can have the hope that heaven brings; a hope that breathes life into my dreams. I’m thankful that he didn’t leave us alone in our tangled mess; instead he left a tangible, human solution. His name is Immanuel. He is God with us, present with us on this desperate earth as living hope. With us (Matthew 1:23).

 

I’m forever thankful that my life is changed and I can live eternally in the presence of God all because He sent Jesus to our desperate and lonely earth that night. Eternity arrived in human form to be with us; what a reminder that we’re not alone. Because of Jesus, we don’t have to fill our hearts with any counterfeit versions of the wholeness heaven has to offer. Jesus is the wholeness we crave, and because he came to earth, we can access the wholeness in the middle of our struggles. What a Savior.

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The Unfair Love

Grace and love are topics that are often talked about in church (obviously, because it’s the gospel). But I have had the tendency to listen to the words without really understanding the full meaning in my heart. When we try to grasp the meaning of grace in regards to our own struggles in life and measure them against the sin that God pardoned for all mankind, we will be overflowing with gratitude.

 

Here’s the thing about God’s love: it does not hold out on us, it’s not passive-aggressive, it’s never small, but it is always daring, bold, and too vast for our understanding. Grace meets us right where we’re at. It takes us by the hand and leads us to deeper places that are hidden in God’s heart. It doesn’t keep us in the low places; rather, it tenderly loves us while we’re mending. Grace calls you “enough.” It says that even though God is completely aware of your sin, mistakes, trials, and flaws, you are unconditionally loved (all parts of you) infinitely more than you are capable of imagining. This grace isn’t fair; it’s not at all what we deserved. God knows this, and He still chose to love us instead of punishing us. This love isn’t broken; it’s whole and unchanging. My failures don’t stop his love, and yours don’t either. This love doesn’t force me, but instead leads me to living fully abandoned to God. I am radically changed by a love that could take a broken, shattered heart and mend it back together as if to never be broken to begin with. He knows each crack, bruise, and hole in my heart, and this makes him the best healer. I don’t want to fill these spaces with anything but the best remedy: God’s infinite love.

 

Grace gives me permission to not measure up. I can just call on the name of Jesus despite my mistakes and imperfection, and I’m forgiven. What an unfair love this is.

 

His love is so detailed and so intricate. He is so intentional in the way he loves. He sees you and He takes notice. He cares so deeply about you, about where you’re at, about what you care about, and about the journey you’re on. He didn’t miss or skip over you. Allow him to love on you. Allow yourself to feel His love. It’s the most compassionate love you’ll ever feel both in this life and in eternity. Grace and love are tenderly waiting for you; all you have to do is just ask for it.

 

Because I have God working in me, I am challenged to lend tangible grace and love to people so they notice that it comes from a well that never runs dry; this well can handle the scarcity of drought and it doesn’t worry about my natural inability to love. This well overflows. I’m in awe and wonder at the thought of a God who would repay my sin and wicked heart by spending eternity with him, handing me victorious freedom, and a spotless heart. I don’t want to abuse this grace by living in sin; but because of His wild love for me, I am drawn to this mysterious love, and I want it. He paid my sin back with a way out. What a beautiful, crazy, and unfair love.

 

When you’re going through trying times and your faith is shaken to the core, He is not punishing you. I don’t know why the terrible things happen aside from a result of our fallen world. But I do know He cares and He doesn’t like to watch you suffer. He endures the pain with you. He walks with you through the fire time and time again. The flames of that fire won’t even burn you (Isaiah 43:2). His love is all protecting; it’s a living shield of protection and help as you walk this earth.

 

I have no clue why God’s love saved us. He sent Jesus to bear the weight of the world’s sins. This didn’t take our human nature away, but it allows us to be completely pardoned and wiped clean of sin. In spite of our sinful nature, God still says we are forgiven and He loves us the way we are. Jesus is the way to eternity in heaven. Because he lived a perfect life, you and I don’t have to measure up. Because he paid for my sin, you and I don’t have to. What an unfair love this is. Thank you, God.

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What My Mom Taught Me About Worship

There are so many things my mom did for me, but the greatest thing she did for me was set an example for how to live for God. She not only told me how to pray and worship, but she showed me. It amplified my desire to instill this love in the people in my life, and eventually my own kids. We often think of worship as a song on Sunday. We can minimize worship when we compartmentalize it to only ten minutes worth of our Sunday dose of God. Worship is not just a few songs, but it’s how we live in our decisions, words, habits, and hearts. My mom lived the lifestyle of worship. But it wasn’t a path paved with a white picket fence, flowers, and bright sunshine; it was real life (the good and the bad). I found worship in every role she played: mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister, and mentor. She was always an inspiration to everyone who watched, especially when it came to worship. But when she was diagnosed with cancer, her worship didn’t change. In fact, it increased and I saw her relationship with God dig deeper before my eyes. I saw her press into God in the middle of her questions, fears, wonders, confusion, and her worship taught me a few things:

  1. Worshiping Him comes first. In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus is in Martha and Mary’s home. We know that Martha is busy making preparations (this today might look like frantic stress of staying on top of what’s to come tomorrow). She becomes frustrated, but Jesus calls to her attention that Mary has chosen what is better: listening to Jesus’ words at his feet. Putting Him first looks different for everyone depending on certain seasons of life. You might not have an hour of quiet time, but find small moments in your day to make Him the priority of your life. When He’s not first, we’ll become distracted from our worship.
  1. Worship is not circumstantial. It’s easy to go through easy or hard seasons and not rely on God. We might go through good seasons and “not need” God, and it’s tempting to fill our empty spaces with physical things. In one of her journal entries, she wrote, “When we face struggles and challenges we can fight it, get angry, turn from God, or withdraw. God’s plan is for us to accept our circumstances and humble ourselves under His hand so that we take the pain, struggle, fear, and move into the position with our circumstance under God’s sovereign, loving hand. In this positioning we will experience peace in the middle of life. At the right time (God’s time), He will lift us up.” She walked this unconditional love for God out not only in her journey through cancer, but also in her life before the diagnosis.

 

I think of Paul and Silas when they worshiped in prison. I find it hard to wrap my brain around two men worshiping in prison (I think I’d be throwing myself a pity party and then jumping in a puddle of tears). But their chains were broken through their worship, and ours has the power to do the same. I’d chose to be made free over a pity party any day; and yes, that is easier said than done.

 

Even though she walked this life of worship my whole life (and before I was born), this past year was a bold chance for me to tangibly see this. My mom deepened her worship like never before during her walk through cancer. But in any type of hard season (whatever this looks like for you), it’s not enough to go through it with the same spiritual mindset you had in some of your best seasons. We have to fight harder and dig into God deeper. This not only gives Him glory during your hard seasons, but it also allows you to find a new strength in God like never before.

 

  1. Worship is authentic and transparent. Embrace the hard parts of life all because you can depend on God to pull you through each moment. The hard ones aren’t fun. Tell God. I believe this is the essence of worship: that it’s completely transparent, a mix of the human heart, and a godly soul. We can bring our raw emotions and bring our questions to God; we don’t have to pretend we aren’t humans with emotions and perfect days. There are days life is completely unfair, and being a Christian doesn’t mean we have to pretend that our unfair days are held together by perfection. Let me tell you, it takes a load off your shoulders when you take your God-given emotions to God. He meets you there. By living like this, we are giving God a chance to see right through us, but we are the ones responsible for presenting this authenticity, because He can already see those dark places of our hearts but He wants to mend them. We can come stained with sin and he purifies us. John 4:8 promises that we can take a step toward God and He meets us there and we can move forward, and not linger in our struggles!

Here are a few of my mom’s journal responses of authenticity:

“This morning is hard emotionally. Emotions of all of this just came at me. It all just stinks!! I don’t have hair. I am so ready to have hair. It gets consuming dealing with the side effects. I let myself cry more about it than I have before. I realized I have to give myself more of these times to grieve what I am going through.” (May 14, 2015)

“So many feelings and some just too hard to put into words. Thank you God I can pour out my heart to you. You take my thoughts and feelings and make them obedient to Your Word. You strengthen me in your grace to move on. Moving Forward!” (May 27, 2015)

  1. Worship is being thankful. This is the most valuable thing I could ever take away from my mom’s worship. This is what worship is: it’s thanking God for who He is. You’ll notice that if you list off things you’re thankful for, it shifts our focus off of ourselves and onto God’s wonderful provision for even the simplest things. Thankfulness literally invites the presence of God. My mom listed being thankful for the strength to go to Target in one of her journal entries. There is always something to be thankful for (also the most annoying statement to hear when your life is a mess), but I challenge you to not be surface-level with God. Find something that is truly meaningful. It is our greatest joy to give God glory because He is good.

We can also show thankfulness by being content. Philippians 2:14 tells us to Do everything without complaining or arguing. Discontentment with what God has in place in our lives right now will stop us from worshipping Him.

Thankfulness can also fuel our trust in God. When we step back and thank Him for the big and small things He’s doing in our lives, it allows us to see that He does care, and He does see us even when we feel unseen. We can rely on Him to care for us in our low places (Psalm 112:7).

  1. Worship is our choice. We know this, but it’s just difficult. And a lot of times it goes against our human emotions and desires. But if we take our selfish thoughts about everything that’s going wrong and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), we are gradually transforming the way our mind thinks (Romans 12:2). We are making worship what we run to instead of our natural human desires. As we choose to keep our natural thoughts and desires under the submission of the Holy Spirit, we are worshiping God. We have a choice to draw from our human strength (normally negative thoughts or stress), or we can draw from God’s almighty strength. It seems like a no-brainer when we compare those two options, but doing it is the real challenge. When we incorporate these ideas together in our walk with God, we’ll see our worship transform. And God delights in giving grace to us in our process.
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