Posts tagged ‘Surrender’

August 15, 2011

Sweet Freedom

It’s been one year since this journey began.  With the exception of the past two months, I’ve surprised myself that I’ve been able to keep this blog up and running. I sat down multiple times over the past two months and tried to write but the blinking cursor just stared at me – almost mocking me. What did I have worth saying? Nothing.

Last year was riddled with the question, why? Why me? Why now? Why not? And why God?

But today, I’ve been able to look back at the past year and finally see some answers.

If my world had not fallen apart, I would not have come to trust God more fully. I saw my faith and it was weak.  I had to live what I had claimed as true and I’ll be honest friends…

 It. Was. Hard.

In fact, on three separate occasions I seriously considered turning and walking away.  (Does that make me Peter? – Kidding) I can’t tell you how scared that made me. Yikes. But PRAISE GOD He didn’t let me. Oh sweet Jesus thank you.

But this made me realize my depravity and then that I was living by works. (We know that doesn’t work well.) I was exhausted. I couldn’t do it anymore. I stepped out of ministry and out of a community I loved so deeply because I couldn’t separate “doing” from authentic faith. It hurt. I didn’t know who I was if I was not a “leader” or a “servant.” And without those things, I didn’t know how to see my faith or God.

How do good things get in the way of the best things? I had to return to the basics.

Why didn’t I understand that Christ’s blood was for me? How desperately I needed his grace! I had prided myself in being a Christian for twenty something years and serving in various capacities but how had I missed the fact that no matter how hard I tried to become perfect I would never be able to measure up and how much I needed Jesus’ precious blood to cover me.

So I gave in.

I’m letting His blood wash over me. Hallelujah!

I’m free.

I’m free.

I’m free.

Thank you dear Jesus for not giving up on us. I can’t wait to see what next year will hold.

Isaiah 41: 9-10 …”’You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

 

March 29, 2011

Star Gazing

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” – Persian proverb


Have you ever noticed how much junk gets in the way of hearing God or seeing what He’s trying to teach you?

Busyness.

Relationships.

Work life.

Even ministry life.

And have you ever experienced what happens when He yells your name and says STOP!? Just stop. Listen to him.

Where did you allow yourself to be surrounded by a fog? Where did the enemy creep in and say a crammed schedule was ok because it was full of good things? Or, whisper that if you just read the umpteenth book on spiritual life, you could control the great sense of guilt you carry with you? Of if you just worked hard enough at your job, it would be enough?

The sad thing is we often take half-truths and twist them just enough that even the “good” things in our lives become a distraction and even an idol. Sometimes it takes going into a dark season to remind us to look for the light. In the darkness, we remember who we are and can find truth if we look for it. God wants a relationship with us. He will allow us to go through times of darkness in order to call us back.

Are you willing to give up the junk? Even the “good” junk in order to draw nearer to Him?

Will you ask yourself who you are and who you belong to?

Will you stand for the truth?

Can you see through the darkness? Do you see the light?

Shed the fog and cling to the light.

 

March 11, 2011

Stripped

God wants all of us. He wants us to come to him. Sometimes we are the ones that stand in our own way of a deep, authentic relationship with Him. But don’t worry, God can (and will) get our attention. He often does this by tearing down our walls. Removing (often quite painfully) idols in our lives or misperceptions of faith and who we think he is (or who we think we are). He does this for a reason.

Envision a brick wall destroyed. At first look, this might appear to be a tragedy but I assure you this is an opportunity. As you sit in the pile of bricks you have the opportunity to examine them before you put them back together. I’m not sure what your wall is all about but could it be about trust? Do you really trust Him or just kind of? What keeps you from trusting? Is it about faith? Do you believe God is good? Do you believe he has a plan?

Ask the questions you need to ask. God is big. He can take it. He knows already – you might as well tell him.

The Book of Hosea has been a great allegory for me in times of rebirth, rebuilding, and challenge in my own life. When God has torn my life to pieces, he has a purpose. He has my attention. He will heal me – but in a new way. He will heal me so that I might know him more fully and live abundantly because he has removed the rubble and built something even more beautiful. He will show each of us – as sure as the morning dawn.

Take heart when you find yourself stripped and laid bare before God. Cry out to him as he will heal you. He will heal in a beautiful new way if you let him.

Hosea 6:1-3 Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming rains in early spring.

January 24, 2011

In the Secret, Quiet Places

By now, you know I’ve been re-reading Alicia Britt Chole’s Anonymous: Jesus’ Hidden Years And Yours. I highly recommend it. Chole’s writings were honest and encouraging to those who find themselves in life’s transitions, unexpected times when we’re called back into the shadows, or find ourselves fighting to emerge from the bench and set up to bat.

What I’ve come to realize is sometime it’s in the hidden, quiet years that we grow the most. Our character is refined in the quiet, anonymous places. It is in these times that we are shaped for the future. If we wait to embrace the life’s lessons in the public, applauded times we will miss all God has in store for us – and it is a beautiful, difficult journey – but worth it. If we don’t use these anonymous seasons to grow and be still in the presence of God, we are left unprepared for our time in the lime-light leaving us in the wake of destruction.

The following are a collection of quotes I gathered throughout Chole’s book. I hope you consider reading it. (Also, a disclaimer that I am not being compensated for this review.)

“From God’s perspective, anonymous seasons are sacred spaces. They are quite literally formative; to be rested in, not rushed through – and most definitely never to be regretted. Unapplauded, but not unproductive: hidden years are the surprising birthplace of true spiritual greatness.” P. 13

“In other words, trials tell us less about our future than they do about our past. Why? Because the decisions we make in difficult places today are greatly the product of decisions we made in the unseen places of our yesterdays.” P. 15

“Time is not really spent. Instead, it is invested in a future we cannot see.” P. 59

“By definition, hidden years are uncelebrated years. These are the seasons when we feel underestimated, unappreciated, or even invisible. In other words, no one is clapping. In that silence unsupported by rounds of applause, hidden years provide the opportunity for us to wrestle with what truly makes us significant. In the absence of others volunteering to explain why we are so valuable, we have to answer that question for ourselves. This quest can be especially difficult when it is not anticipated, when we have known applause and perhaps even authority and find ourselves hidden again. Rarely does hiddeness visit us only once in our lifetimes.” P. 114

Finally, I loved how Chloe took readers through key aspects of what we can glean from our hidden years. I know I’ve experienced many of these points in my own life and hope to grow in them even more as I use the time given to me today to invest in the future I cannot see.

What grows in anonymous seasons?

  • The anchor of God’s Word in our souls
  • Self control
  • An accurate portrait of God
  • An unshakable identity
  • Our trust in God’s timing
  • A disciplined imagination
  • An eternal perspective
  • Submission-based authority

How have you seen God work in anonymous seasons? Have you noticed a gentle change in your heart or character through the times when you felt like you were in the shadows?

 

January 18, 2011

Intentional Living

I’ve been writing this post in my head for months. I can’t seem to get it right but here it goes. Please bare with me (or is it bear? Either way – love me just the same).

I’m a planner. Many of these posts and musings occurred as I realized I was at the end of my plan. But I’m at the beginning of something new. Something beyond my grasp and understanding. I don’t like change. It scares me. But, God is up to something. In the turbulence, He’s given peace. I don’t like risks but He has begun to cultivate a love for adventure in my heart. Today, I can honestly tell you I’m excited about what’s to come. I have no idea what the next year will bring or even tomorrow but I’m ready to take a risk and seize the adventure just the same. The ‘Type A’ in me is softening. I want to grow less rigid and accept the fact that life is fluid.

I want to surrender my will (which has so frequently caused me anxieties, stress, and so much wasted energy) and embrace God’s will for my life.

A part of embracing God’s will for me is for me to live intentionally where I am. He has me where I am for a reason. I’ve been fighting too hard to get to a place I might not suppose to be. In the past months I’ve considered relocating, massive career changes despite just finishing my graduate degree, and taken an honest look at my faith. Praise God for allowing me to wrestle through the hard questions.

Here’s what I know. God loves me. He has a plan for my life. He knows the desires of my heart BUT that does not mean I should be sitting around twiddling my thumbs until lo and behold – the situation of my dreams arises. Nope, He said GO and make disciples. Not, wait until you have your life figured out. Go.

In light of this, I want to live my life with intention. I want to seize the opportunities presented to me today. I want to talk to strangers. I want to speak openly about my faith. I want to love those that are “unlovable.” I want to live in freedom. I want to be an example.

And as I live my life with intention – I am trying to follow His command and GO.

More on intentional living tomorrow.

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