Speak It Out Loud

So many of us are walking around with words from childhood still taunting us as adults.  We make decisions based on a belief about yourself that maybe started with a few simple words. “You aren’t that smart.” “You are a quitter.” “You don’t belong here.” “You’re ugly.”

Words have power.  Power to change a moment. Power to change a mind. Power to make someone believe.  Power to numb a spirit.

I don’t have to convince myself.  Words that are said out loud can break a heart, can pivot someone’s life. Think about when someone tells really good news, “I said yes.” Or when your child says “I love you, mommy.”  Those words mark moments.

Even more so words that you don’t say have even more power.  The words that you speak to yourself in moments no one is listening or that your mind speaks to your soul. This could be those words that were spoken good or bad over you as a child.  

matt-botsford-197870-unsplash

But as I think of power of words, I know that God’s word carry even more effect.  God’s words have the power to move mountains, devastate nations, and part seas. God’s words created the heavens and the earth and then he declared them good.  He spoke those words over this earth and us in it. Think about what his words can do for our hearts.

When we speak God’s word over ourselves and others, in those moments of unbelief, doubt, fear or pain, he opens our heart, shakes away the dust so it can beat again.

He was just a guest speaker at church.  But in the middle of a sermon that I can’t remember, he started repeating the phrase, “God loves you.” “God LOVES you.” GOD loves you.” “God loves YOU.” He captured our eyes and said it to us, like little children, we soaked up that reassurance from who had lived on this earth longer than us, with more wisdom and perspective.  Like a small child with a tear stained face needed to hear precious, kind words with eagerness. Not a single dry eye could be found.

Those words.  God loves you.

The words that I need to hear and soak in everyday. I don’t realize that I need them, until I hear myself saying things like:

  • “If I could just get my life together.”
  • “I just need to be more disciplined.”
  • “I should trust God more.”
  • “I don’t know where I went wrong to end up here.”

Most of these are conditional statements.  That idea that you are more worthy of God’s love if you were just a better person. Or life is better if we just live up to some crazy standard. These are behavioral statements. As if by being more obedient we can make God love us more.

The miracle we experience everyday is that God knows exactly who we are.  He knows all of the terrible things we have every thought or done and still said, “I sent my Son to die on the cross, to absorb all my wrath, so that I can be close to you.”

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Rom 5:8

He doesn’t love us because we are his hands and feet.  He doesn’t love us because we reflect who he is to others.  He doesn’t love us more for following his commandments. He doesn’t love us because we go to church or don’t or vote one way or the other.  He doesn’t love us more or less because we make good or bad choices.

No, he loves us because he loves us because he loves us because he loves us.

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. – Zephaniah 3:17

As I sit here on a rainy day, contemplating some hard things in my heart, I know that a shift happens in my thinking when I rest in the truth that God loves me.  A powerful shift happens in my hopefulness, in my outlook, in my desire for what God calls me to. A shift happens in my heart toward God.

His love unmotivated, unprompted, because that is just who God is.  We need to speak those out loud to ourselves and to others. We come to God to hear about how much he loves us, and that love will transform our hearts.  Not the other way around.

So what if you told yourself, or someone in your life, that God loves them.  Just the way they are, in the mess, in the muck of their life. How many of us need to hear those words over and over again, especially in a world that shouts that we aren’t enough, that we need to hustle harder, that with these 5 steps you can make your life better.  Especially in a world that is angry right now, that is divided, that is crying out for a balm for bleeding wounds.

“Hate stirs up trouble, but love forgives all offenses.”  -Proverbs 10:12

What if we were just able to say, God loves me, God loves you, no matter where you are, no matter how far you are, but he loves every single part of you, especially the broken parts.

kristina-litvjak-50445-unsplash

It feels trite to say, but only if you say it once.  Say it again and again and again. Saying it like you are desperate to believe it.  Because to be honest, I don’t always. I doubt it, I question it, I stumble over the fact that God loves me.  I stumble over the power of those words, that all my mess and brokenness are loved by the Sovereign God of the Universe.

Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

Photo by Kristina Litvjak on Unsplash

Advertisements

Dumb Sheep

Many times throughout the old testament, God asks his people to remember, to recall all the ways that he has saved them, been faithful to them, provided for them.

“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you.” (Deuteronomy 15:15)

Remember. Recall

Why does he keep reminding them? Why does he have to tell them again and again, that he will be there, that he will help them, save them?

Because they are dumb sheep.  In the midst of the desert, far away from the only home they have ever known, they have forgotten.  God pulled them out of slavery, saved them from the on coming armies. He parted the Red Sea!!! Given them food again and again, but yet they still complain.

Because they are dumb sheep.

ashley-jaynes-688707-unsplash

It is easy to look at these stories and think, how could they possibly forget something like that?  How could they forget being saved from slavery and being in a foreign land? How can they forget what God has promised them?

But just like them, we are dumb sheep.  We forget the ways God has been faithful.  We forget the his works so easily.  We quickly forget who He says he is.

THAT is why he commands us to remember.

OH and I need to remember.  Today, tomorrow, and the next day and next.  I will need to remember. To remember his faithfulness and his goodness to me.  

We need to remember to mark those moments, those days, those situations where God worked out the details, brought you through when all seemed impossible.  To count up those answered prayers as a bank of faithfulness to cash in on days when it seems like he isn’t present or he isn’t answering your call.  

So we can combat the lies that have their hooks in us.

Like the lie that constantly creeps up in my mind, “I am all alone”.  It’s a lie that I have been fighting since childhood. Feeling out of place, not belonging, unliked, or forgotten feel like a constant companion.  Prone to dramatic hyperboles, it avalanches into despair of loneliness.

It still creeps up on a Saturday night with no plans, even though I love a chill Saturday night.  The enemy creeps in turns up the volume on that age old lie in my heart. And suddenly I am in despair and anxiety.

In that spot, I need those words from the Lord.  

Remember.  Recall.

jan-kahanek-184676-unsplash

And in that moment, I have to stop and count the ways.  List out the answered prayers. I have to remember the friends, the family, the life that God has given me.

God has been abundantly kind and given me a group of friends that I have known for over a decade.  I think back to the day as a teenager that I longed for a best friend.  And remember that he has provided. I think about my dear sweet friends whom I love and that are patient and kind and reach out to pray for me.  I think about the memories gained because I am friends with them.

Those memories, the pictures, bring me back a place of belief and trust that God has got this.  That the whisper from the enemy is a lie designed to make me doubt and despair.

It maybe something else for you.  Some other lie that has a hold on your heart, that never seems to go away.  A lie that you would long to be rid of for good, like those last 5 pounds.

  • That you won’t be able to pay your bills
  • That you your prayers mean nothing to him
  • That you are a mistake and a failure
  • That you won’t get through the day after a night of zero sleep.
  • It will always be this way.

So friend, recall, remember, the ways in which God has provided.  Mark it. Write it down to look back at when the lie seems louder. 

We won’t always be in a season where God answers in the way that we expect him too.  We won’t always be in a season of harvest or abundance. On this side of heaven we won’t always understand or see how God is working, but when we recall his works, we will see that he is not a God of inaction.  His ways are higher than our ways, and thoughts are higher than our thoughts. 

And His ways are more powerful that we will ever understand.

“I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us,and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” – Joshua 2:9-11

These verses are Rahab in the Old Testament, talking to the men who are going to conquer her country.  Because she had heard about the powerful acts of God, she knew…her heart melted because of who God is and what he has done.

What has he done…more than we ever thought possible.  Conquered the grave, given us a healer for our broken hearts, and provided the ENOUGH that we need in Jesus.

So squash down the disbelief with the powerful acts of God.  Let your melt your heart with remembering.  Help each other recall.   Tell about the His mighty works, and let the power of the cross remind you of who God is and always will be.

 

Praying through the Pain

“Are you brave enough to pray and believe that God hears you and changes things?” 

Like a ton of bricks thrown at my heart, making it hard to breathe, I reel through pain that was just a shadow.  Maybe I have been hiding it for many years. Maybe I am good and pretending everything is fine, that I can muster up of the energy and positivity to get through my days.  

Except…there are days I am knocked on my knees with an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety about this life.  The voice that says, I messed everything up, it’s too late to change, I will forever feel this way, becomes louder.  The weight of the heavy reminder of pain of unanswered prayers, of hurt covered up by behavior modification or legalism. 

But NO, I am not brave.  Not even close.  I don’t believe that anything will change.

Faking it or just convincing myself otherwise no longer worked as it did for many years. The answers, the sermons mean nothing and I feel left alone in my darkness.  Some days, I can’t bring myself to sit and talk to God.  I don’t want to acknowledge the pain.  I want to run from it. 

7334554_75e99fcef4

Struggling to sit in the pews and sing the songs without weeping uncontrollably.  It feels painful to sit in my pit of despair next to others who don’t know what to do with a puddle of someone next to them.  Maybe struggle isn’t the right word.  I think I just feel out of place.  Fighting this sense I must be crazy if I can’t just believe and live a neat and tidy life like those around me.  They seem to have zero problems, right? 

Sometimes I wish there as a point in the service where we could all just be honest about what we are struggling with right there before one another, that we would throw away pretence and posturing and truly know we are all in it with each other.

But I am not brave.   If I was to truly understand bravery, I would know that being brave means being honest with yourself and others.

And it means believing when everything around you tells you not to believe.  It is to believe even when no one else does.  When everything in your life says to abandon the belief and turn back. Bravery means to keep going through pain. 

It means standing in front of God, even when when the pain and darkness threaten you in that very moment, believing in a God that is stronger than the pain and darkness.  Believing that God is who he says he is and sent Jesus to overcome the world, so we wouldn’t be overcome by it.

21910990630_31e45c8d20

I write these words today because I myself need to believe them.  I probably do on some level today, but not on the level that I can write this without tears in my eyes.

I want to be that brave.  I want to be able to trust God so strongly that I can get up every day and not have to fake it and pretend that my heart isn’t broken or that I have it all together.  I want to be brave enough to not fight back tears or skip out of church early because I care too much what people think.

Abraham often comes to mind when I think of pain of the unanswered prayers or of years of uncertainty.

“In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (sine he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.  No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” – Romans 4:18-21

I am sure it was painful to walk through the day to day when this thing that God has promised hasn’t come true. Perhaps pushing him to make choices that caused more pain. Ridiculed, probably questioned, whispered about and left out of the circle of parents and grandparents. He probably lost friendships with those that had walked through the early years.

It isn’t just the pain from out side but the pain we cause ourselves. Within the darkness, the things we turn to for survival for some comfort or security, losing hope and faith in the day to day, only to be failed again. More pain, self inflicted.  The pain becomes the norm. We don’t want it but stay because everything else starts to feel like false hope. And to hope means to put yourself in a spot to be hurt again.  Cynical and bruised and broken.  Beaten up by the storms of this world.

But…I know a man, who could relate. Bruised and broken, betrayed and idolized. Those around him had thought he failed.  But he came to do what He was sent to do.  Dying the death we deserve.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Could this be, that God, in his Kindness sent his son, as a human man to experience the same kind of beating that we experience, so we would have a Savior that could relate? That can extend a kind of empathy that says, “Me too.”  The kindness that also gives us freedom to experience the pain, but with hope.  The hope of a Savior, that died so that this pain doesn’t last forever.

This life is not without pain, but it is partnered with the sweetness of knowing Jesus.  Know that our hope is not in our own efforts to not feel pain, but in the comfort of God in the midst of the pain.  And on the other side of that pain, whether on this earth or in eternity, it is the joy of knowing the great comforter.

40940183480_b47da8369c

Without pain, we would not know the comfort of our Creator.

That is my prayer, that even if the pain doesn’t go away, even if nothing changes, that you and I would know the comfort, the kindness of our God in a sweeter and deeper way.  That we would know what it means to be loved by a God who is there, even in the midst of the darkest days.  Even when the pain is inflicted by ourselves, that we would allow Him to meet us in the pain, to dispense comfort and healing.

Can we brave enough to open ourselves up for healing?  Or even could we bravely take a step towards Him today, to be comforted even when nothing changes? 

 

 

photo credit: chrisotruro Lime Avenue bw via photopin (license)

photo credit: eye2eye In Living Color via photopin (license)

photo credit: Pascal Rey Photographies DSC_4523 via photopin (license)

A shield about me

Weekly, almost daily, I had a writing rhythm that I began in college.  I spent hours in coffeeshops avoiding home work by writing and thinking.  Some of it was ideas and stories that I had in my head, or just things that I was processing in my faith journey. It was a practice I copied from mentors and found that it sparked my soul.

But then when the struggles of life came rushing at me, when my life and identity began warping into something unrecognizable, I left this rhythm behind. I am beginning to guess that it begins with me running from pain that I didn’t want to process, and caring too much about what people think of my life than what God was teaching me through writing.

jan-kahanek-184675-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

Too often I back away from things that God has called me to because I fear what people think of me.  I have written about fear and approval before, but more often in the last 2-3 years, have I stopped writing, stopped thinking and sharing because I was afraid of being found out.  I was afraid that who I was, who God created me to be would be rejected.  I get mad at myself because I really should be past this, beyond this point with God. Trusting God is step 1 right? I should have stopped running.

We do that.  We run from God, our creator and sustainer because we fear the world.  We don’t trust in Him to be who he says he is.

My counselor called me on that once, that I don’t trust Him.  Ugh, how could she?! Here I am, a bible believing Christian and I didn’t trust God.  I mean, I sing about it on Sundays and tell my friends I would pray for them to trust God.

But at the end of the day, I am really good at carrying all my bags at once, I mean capable of handling my business.  Walling up my heart to protect and defend.  I don’t need to trust Him. At some point, after hurt and pain, I had decided that I don’t need him to defend me anymore, I have got it.

jason-blackeye-198848-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

But because He is God and there is no where on earth I can run to.  He has a grip on my heart and soul and won’t let go, he has placed this word in front of me.

Shield.

There it is, in so many parts of the bible and the songs we sing at church.

  • “He is a shield about me.”
  • “The LORD is my strength and my shield.” Psalm 28
  • “Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33 

It’s a happy and pretty thought, that we teach to kids in Sunday School, and maybe put on an art print to go on our wall.

But God as our shield, practically…..doesn’t make sense.  It hasn’t been working right.

If he as our shield is supposed to protect us, to block attacks, allow us to be safe, why am I experiencing pain and suffering in bigger ways than ever before.  It hasn’t gone away.  This word.  God works like that sometimes, continues to show us something He wants to reveal to us.  He puts things in our path to draw us closer to him.

So here I am, sitting in a coffeeshop, writing about how God is our shield, when my heart is struggling to believe it. That’s where I am, a hesitant heart, in a raw and vunerable spot, wondering if I will ever trust God like I once did, or if he will renew it far more than I ask or imagine.

Tears threaten to expose me how hard this is to write about.

We are at war with ourselves really, wanting to be protected but wanting to protect ourselves.  He is our shield. But we run out into battle without Him, our sinful hearts believe that we can do this without Him.  We think we can be Captain America without the shield.

“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3

My hesitant heart is welcomed by a gracious and loving savior who has nothing but compassion on my aching pain.  I don’t deserve it.  I ran from Him, and still feel like I have one foot out the door.  I fight with myself about this, surrender and rest, lay down my pride and accept his help and protection in a world full of uncertainties and potential pain. Sounds risky, right.

However, the alternative has show to be so painful and lonely the cost will be worth the risk.

Friends, my encouragement to you is this, the same thing I am praying for myself, let Him lift your head, when the pain is strong, when the suffering is great, let Him to do the heavy lifting of your soul.  Let Him in to do that for you.

Expectancy

Last year at this time, I unknowingly penned some of the same words I fully intended to process out today.  Today’s sermon actually covered this verse this morning as I sat in the pew, teary eyed trying not to let my sniffles be audibly heard by my friends besides me.

Colossians 1:17- “And in him all things hold together.”

Leaning hard into that verse, it almost hurts to think about all that 2017 was and did in my heart.  In many ways it was joyous and full of wonderful memories of fun, friends and family.  Good, wonderful moments.  Places visited, people met, and times of rejoicing.  But also….times of suffering and heartache.

2017 might as well have been the year of silence in many ways, I couldn’t write or share in the same ways I have done in the past, because the words from the Lord felt much closer and personally deeper that I am not sure if I am ready to share or able to.  It is much easier to share when the lesson has been learned and behind you….but in many ways the lessons and sufferings aren’t over yet.

I am in the midst.  I am standing in the muck, the grime of life. I speak from the trenches.  Maybe my trenches look a little different than yours, but it is still the struggle.

37248647532_8f3ce3b321

Friends, this is it, right.  This is what living really is.  It isn’t the Instagram pictures, the funny stories shared on Snapchat.  It is the pain behind the eyes.  The screams and curse words no one hears or even the ones closest bear the brunt of.  The silent tears in the car.

  • The breakdown standing in front of a laundry pile.
  • It is being surrounded by people but still feeling the ache of loneliness.
  • It’s those moments in the grocery store when you are trying to decide whether to drown your sorrows in frozen pizza or ice cream.
  • Real life is when someone’s bags are packed ready to leave….and yet still wanting to fight to stay.
  • Or when you have to get up and do it all over again, even though your legs and heart feel like lead.

No one wants to share these moments online, we want to be distracted from them.We want to pretend these are just the moments we skip over to get to the shots of pretty lattes and shoes surrounded by leaves. (Totally saying this as my #bestnineof2017 included several of those shots!)

*******

This Holiday season, much like the ones before it have left me wanting. I always have expectations, ideas about what this time of year should hold. It should feel like all those Hallmark movies I have been watching.  Snow always flurrying, lights on every house, cookies available at all times.

38527410235_279ae35f8e

Even if it is a little like this, it won’t ever be enough.  It will always leave us wanting more.  Because what we expect from a supposedly happy, joyous season, is actually a satisfaction for deeper longing.  One that is broken open by living in this world. A longing that actually doesn’t have an answer that sounds as good as “Family, Love, and gratitude.”

I was frustrated that I was too busy this year to enjoy all my regular holiday things, like cookie backing, and crafting.  I didn’t drive around to look at lights and have yet to enjoy some hot chocolate.  But someone reminded me that all of those things are great, but it is good that this also be a season of expectancy and longing not just of met expectations.

As someone who is afraid to have expectations to be disappointed in or even crushed hopes for the year to come, expectancy looks much different.

Instead of holding tight to a list of goals, a word, or even some sort of resolution, being expectant means opening your hands, arms, and even heart to an anticipation of seeing what God will do with this blank slate of a year.

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angle departed from her.” -Luke 1:37-38

Oooh, that feels too vulnerable, right?  Right now instead of writing this, I should be deciding on my 2018 word, creating some sort of Instagramable image to share with everyone. Something to give others hope and inspiration.

For me, proclaiming things over my year, makes me think that I am the one steering this thing, it implants this idea in my head that I am the captain of my soul.

Maybe that I have to pick the just right WORD to hold my life together.  A lie that I cling to…..to easily point blame or reason with, when things go wrong or the disappointment is just too real. Or even a word to just forget after January or misplace in the rough terrain for February.

So we our own scapegoat when we don’t meet goals or life fails us in some way.  Or its an ego boost when things are going right.  For our glory or downfall. Holding ourselves responsible for everything. Worshipping our own abilities, talents and gifts.

Right there it is….when we place ourselves in the captain seat of our lives, we are essentially trying to be our own savior, superhero and more.

Isn’t the truth is so, so much better….because Jesus is better. 

“and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” – Heb. 12:24

He has spoken the better word not only over 2018 but our lives.

The truth that says that we don’t have to be the one steering the ship.  We have someone that has already put themselves in the captain seat, the throne of our hearts and souls.  He came to take over the ship and steer us into eternity.  He holds the responsibility, he took on all the blame so we didn’t have to.  He is the captain that we could never be.

Mary knew that as she said those words “Let it be according to your word.”  She modeled an expectant heart for God to work.  And work he did.

So friends, as you enter into 2018, may your coffee and expectancy to be strong.  And may you see God work in impossible and mighty ways, not just in your lives but more importantly your hearts. 

**************************

photo credit: Tuomo Lindfors Iisalmi via photopin(license)
photo credit: NathalieSt Festive Street via photopin(license)

On this day…

Facebook can be cruel, right?  Bringing up old memories and the good old days.  The ones that we are trying to forget or maybe long to go back to.

It’s this cruel joke really. Reminding of what use to be.  I don’t know about you, but some days those memories are hard.

  • “I use to be skinnier.”
  • “Look how much fun I had.”
  • “I had so many friends.”
  • “That was when things were good between us.”
  • “Look how happy we were.”

Those memories maybe remind you that you are a long way from where you used to be or where you want to be now. Reminding you of what you used to have or are still waiting for.

Recently, because I didn’t want to sit alone in my pity party, I took a screen shot of a post from a year ago and sent it to one of my best friends.

Screenshot 2017-02-19 16.18.52.png

I might have said something like… “last year was very different, huh, ugh, sigh!” Not really sure how I felt and not sure what kind of answer I was hoping to get or wanted to get.

This is how she replied. “It is very different. But oh friend, I am so encouraged and encourage you to be comforted with your words. “Everyday He shows his abundant love for me in ways I can’t even imagine” it’s cool to think, wow, he’s still doing that.”

What I wanted in that moment, was maybe someone to say that I was better off now.  Or even to say, I am so sorry that you aren’t as happy! Or maybe even a snarky, cynical remark about how much Valentine’s day is stupid.

How dare she quote me to me!!

The truth….the pity party doesn’t work. 

It feels good for a second.  It feels good to draw someone else into your loneliness and bitterness. We long to have company in that.  We want others to validate our outlook and make us feel comfortable in those feelings. And to quote Gilmore Girls…..

cc0b3aed303c14faa3b7676c4c27ac6f

It is a vicious circle though.  The pity party is one with deflated balloons, and left overs from someone’s wedding. It doesn’t provide encouragement or hope.  In fact, it is the kind of party that you leave feeling worse than when you came.

We look to our circumstances to dictate how we feel about ourselves, the world, and God. Maybe we think our circumstances are a reflection about how God feels about us.  Choosing to bless those he loves more than others, to answer their prayers.

It is easy when things are good to think God is good.  It is easy to say, “Hallelujah” (praise hands emoji) to God when everything is peachy. But what about those days when the invites to pity parties are strong, when you can barely get out of bed, and your heart is heavy and hurting.

My words that I said a year ago mean just as much as the did on that day “Everyday he shows his abundant love for me in was I can’t even imagine.”

He is working out all things for the good of those whom he loves. And oh, how He loves you. 

He loves you, not just because you have it all worked out.  Because you can do at lot of great things for him.  Not because you have all those spiritual disciplines down.  Not because you have all those ducks in a row.  Not because you can smile at strangers or keep a tidy house.  Not because you don’t complain or are good with your money.

He loves you because he loves you because he loves you.

It might sound trite in your circumstances today.  It might seem empty and lame to whatever you are walking through.  But it is no less true.  There is no other truth I want to lean into. And I long to have a faith that is quick to see His goodness even in the midst of hard days.

Our God is not one of empty promises or of accidents.  He is not wondering what to do next in your life.  He is not surprised by the things that happens. He is the God of Jacob and Moses.  He comes through. He is faithful.

Because a pity party is really about ourselves, it is about us looking at our lives and thinking only of ourselves, the only thing that helps me make a quick exit, is remembering. 

Remembering the one in whom I say I trust.  Remembering the works that he has done in my life and those around me.

IMG_8255.PNG

“I will remember the dead of the Lord, yes, I will remember your wonders of old.  I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” -Psalm 77:11

Remembering His faithfulness.  Remembering how he has answered my prayers and fulfilled desires in the past.  Remembering how he hasn’t given up on me, even on my darkest days.

Our God is not like us, one that gives up on people, letting us just figured it out on our own or resigning to defeat.  He is a God that works….sure it may not be how we hope he would work.  It may not always wrap up in a neat little tidy bow.  And it may not be in our timing. But He isn’t like us, thank goodness!

Psalm 77:16-20

“When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled.  The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side.  The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook.  Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.  You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”

 

Friends, sometimes God’s way is through the sea, through great waters, where we cannot see his footprints.  I pray that if you are in that spot that you would remember. Remember his works, his faithfulness, his goodness, his grace and love for you. He is trustworthy.

Held together

Shattered and Broken. Destroyed and torn apart.

Everything is ending, the pieces are on the floor in front of you. The door just slammed, the call just came, the tears are running down your face.

23210386505_c53ab93cc7
Enter a caption

Maybe it is a job, a relationship or a family.  Or maybe it is a hope, dream or desire you have held as a pillar in your life for so long.

Whatever it is, you can’t breathe or focus, or seem to move on, it just feels as if you will die under the weight of the shattered pieces of your loss.  You might feel as you can’t continue, you can’t face the world, the others that haven’t been broken, and everything is together for them.

Perhaps you are in hard place of “this time of year” that can be suffocating.  You can’t muster the strength to smile and pretend everything is fine, so you just don’t go to that work party or that event with your friends.  You can’t face them again when your insides feel ripped in two. The happy couple or put together family is a punch to the gut.

My heart has been heavy this year thinking about how this advent season, the season of longing is truly that for many people.  2016 was a hard year for many, filled with heartache and pain and worry.  A year that just didn’t seem to quit. The world seems to be aching in so many ways.  Brokenness, shattered lives, cities literally crushed by hate and war, it is all too much.

We want to look away, we want to run and hide.  It seems too much to handle, to bear, to carry around from day to day. So maybe you ignore or just numb your self to the pain because you just can’t.

If you are anything like me, there might be things that seem impossible to hold together, to balance, to get through.  I look to myself to try to do it for myself, to pick up the pieces, to hold it together until I leave a party before I crumble.

The truth is that we actually don’t have to just power through, keep it in, and stuff it down.  Friends, we don’t have to hold ourselves together.  

We don’t do a very good job anyway, right.  We make a mess of it, like a stain that we try to fix without the stain remover.

The truth is that we have something that holds us together.  Someone, really.

In this season of Advent, of waiting and longing, I have been reminded that what we receive in the birth of Jesus is way through the pain, someone to hold it together for us, to be with us in the suffering.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15-17 ESV)

IMG_7954.PNG

And in Christ, all things hold together.  

The power of that statement, in those moments when all the plates you have been juggling come tumbling down, when you feel at the precipice of destruction, when nothing seems sure, is water for the parched soul.

He came to us, he came to our world and lived the hard life that we are living.  He knows the pain and suffering of living this human life.  He knows. And he is still here.  He doesn’t run from it or hide from us. He stays and is with us. What a beautiful savior we have in Jesus.

Friends, as we wrap up 2016, we don’t have to pretend or posture before God about the state of our lives.  Our lives might be laying there destroyed by our sin or by others.  We might be in the midst of suffering and pain.  Or maybe 2016 was one of your best, but the message is the same.  It isn’t up to us to hold it together. 

We don’t have that power or might, but we have the One that does.

Friends, live in the freedom of not having to hold it together.  Step into the heartache and pain, you won’t be left there, you won’t be alone in it and it isn’t up to you to make it better. Praise Him.

photo credit: Shattered dove via photopin (license)