Invited to the Party

Simply laughing, letting yourself in to the present moment, like you opened the door to the party that is happening all around you.  To lay down the weights you have been carrying, and let your shoulders drop in comfort and relaxation, feels strange but sweet.

Joy sparks joy, producing a lightness, both in level of gravity and brightness.  The bright light causing the darkness to scatter away like critters in a dark room.  

Joy gives way to breath and clarity and deep belief and faith.

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I write a lot of about struggles and hard things, perhaps because I am trying to find the words that accurately describe where I spend a lot of my head space.  However, in this year of seeking out the abundance of God, I want to also name the places of joy in my life. Seeking to laugh and step into a space of gladness.  To experience the fullness of joy that God promises in his presence.

I wrestle to stay in the glad things, to remain there.  Maybe I feel some happiness at the surface but it feels fleeting.  Maybe I see it as superficial and irrelevant when there are bigger things happening.  However, finding what brings you joy, finding ways that God delights YOUR heart is so essential.  

It is a part of discovering who God made you to be, just as much as figuring out your talents and your calling.  It is just as important as digging into your past and present memories or struggles.

Joy in the Lord, is about experiencing all of who God is….God is full of gladness.  

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You can see that in how Jesus loved children, how he enjoyed the company of many different kinds of people.  He hung out with twelve dudes, they had have cracked a joke or two, right? All over the Psalms it talks about gladness.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. – Psalm 16-9

What does it look like when your whole being rejoices? Think about David dancing or celebrating.  David sang and wrote poems, not just when things were hard but he was glad in the Lord. Think about the celebrating that Elizabeth did when she figured out she was expecting after years of barrenness in Matthew. 

I used to think having joy was all about having everything go super great, that life was just as you expected, and every day was perfect. It was about being happy and content. But if that is all that having joy is, then I miss out on the deep joy of seeing the good in a day that is really crappy.

I miss out on the deep laughter that can come after a dark day.  I would miss out on the joy of smiling with tears in your eyes after praying with a friend.  I would miss out on community surrounding you when life isn’t at all what you expected.

By expecting life’s joy to be a certain way, you miss out on the unexpected.  God showing up in ways you didn’t know that you needed.

That is often how God shows up, in the unexpected and unasked for ways.  We didn’t even know that we needed to ask for that friend or extra $5 in our pocket.  We didn’t ask for that affirmation at work or that encouraging conversation at the grocery store.  We didn’t know that we needed to slow down and having a sick toddler actually provided that.

These days, for me that looks like running into a friend in a coffee shop. It means a sweet text from a dear friend, or even extra space to be with God on a Friday night.  Or spending my weekday evening giggling with middle school girls.  And even though life doesn’t look at all what I expected, God shows up to bring me into his joy.

I just have to choose to see it.  I have to slow down and name it. I have look behind the curtain of “this isn’t what I wanted” and step into the joy party.  

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Being in the joy, changes me.  It changes my heart reflexes. I am quicker to see it.  Maybe it’s like any other muscle that needs to get stronger, maybe I need to do more reps like I do with my core and hamstrings.  

So friends, where is it that you can see the joy in your life today?

I hope that you take a moment and counting the joys, the places of gladness, how often you smile.  And let it change bring brightness and lightness to your heart. 

Picture Credits:

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Photo by Ethan Hoover on Unsplash

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

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Abundance

Sitting in silence, just God and I, without the noise of life, of traffic, of busy, I have the courage to ask, “What do you want from me this year, God? What is it that this year holds for me? Where would you have me go from this spot that I am in with you?”

It feels scary to ask these questions in light of the year that I just had.

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Photo by Max Saeling on Unsplash

In the last year, God broke apart knots of pain in my life.  At times, I felt undone and completely broken. He uncovered things that needed to be brought into the light. Honestly, at times, it felt awful and probably like someone doing surgery.  I had started the year with an expectant hopeful heart that 2018 would be a different year. That God would make all things new or better.

Except, it didn’t feel like that.  Something needed to be different and I was ready to do anything it took for it to change.  And God did just that.

But by bringing me through a valley of pain.  He opened the eyes of my heart to the junk in there, and not all of it self inflicted.  He dug up things of the past, helped me face them and began the healing process. He awaken dormant places, he jump started places of lifelessness and renewed hope that had been lost.

Standing on this side of last year, I can honestly say, I am still expectant.  I am still staring down winter months but with hope. I am not in the same spot that I was in the last year and now, I am longing to see this God that didn’t let me remain in pain work mighty to bring me to Himself.

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Photo by Galina N on Unsplash

This isn’t to brag or proclaim how God is going to give me all the things on my prayer list, which He is fully capable of doing, but because I believe with every fiber of my being, that I am just scratching the surface of understanding who this God is that I trust.

If I were to call this a resolution, it would be that I resolve to find out.  I resolve to lean in, to dig deeper and be present with God to find out what happens when I trust Him and I run after what He is made and called me to do.  To fully believe and trust in the abundance that He has already given me in himself.

Often when we think of the word Abundance, we conjure up images of store houses of gold or food or the extravagance of the western world.  Perhaps to being able to order whatever we want from Amazon and put all the Target Dollar Spot items in our cart. 

God certainly promises to take care of us, but what I believe is that he cares more about is our hearts and souls.

We might always feel like we are lacking on this side of heaven.  Waiting for something to actually fill us, waiting to be full of joy and happiness. I have found in thinking about all that God has to offer, that whatever it is, it is in abundance.  He is abounding in love, grace, mercy, strength, power, wisdom, and so much more.

Searching the scriptures, I came across many verses with the word “abundance” but one that I think I will cling to this year is..

“But, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.” -Lamentations 3:32

It feels fitting after last year, to expect to learn about how much God loves me. And He does love me. I pray that I would sit in, reflect on, live out of the fact that He loves me far beyond anything I can comprehend.

So friends, I don’t know where this hits you, but I want to encourage you that if you ended the previous year with a longing or ache in your heart, if you feel like you have been through the wringer and then some, remember that God offers you an abundance. Not of more stuff, but of himself.

He created you, he knows you, loves you and offers all of himself FOR you.  

We already have that in Him. We don’t have to go searching, we don’t have to tidy up our stuff or lives, we don’t have to clean up our diet or go on a media fast, or do a juice cleanse.  None of that is actually going to earn you more of Him. He has already give all of Himself, life and death, for us. All we have to do is step into that abundance, receive it and live out of it.

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Photo by Christian Chen on Unsplash

I pray that your year, like mine, would be one of discovering and deepening knowledge of who God is, that your eyes are opened to what He has for you, that you would stop hustling to be better for God and truly know His “never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever kind of love.” (Jesus StoryBook Bible)

Roots and Lies

I took a 6 year break from the dentist.  It was all because when I had my wisdom teeth out and it was an experience. I had a hook on a tooth.  The root had grown into a hook shape. I won’t describe to you the process of getting it out or talk about the fact that I was awake the whole time, hence the 6 year break.

But that memory reminds me that the lies we believe have hooks on them.  The longer we let lies live in our hearts and minds, they will form roots. Not spindly roots like small weeds, but big gnarly roots that you can only get rid of with a chainsaw.

The hook has tentacles, grabbing hold of of the memories and thoughts.  Like a disease this lie begins to infect everything. We don’t even realize it.  We go about day by day, living a life shaped by the lies. We make decisions and move forward believing false things about ourselves, the world and who God is.

This could be believing the lie that we have to live to impress other people or we are what we make and do.  This could be that marriage will make us complete or that we are only good parents if our children are always well behaved.  Or even believing that we aren’t worthy of love or acceptance. That we aren’t beautiful or created perfect.

Whatever the lie, it doesn’t have to define us or hold us hostage. Thankfully, the roots don’t have to stay in us.  God is a rescuer.

 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.

(ESV) Psalm 40:1–3

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Photo by Robb Leahy on Unsplash

But in our world, we are really good at the self-help talk, the positive mantras and the affirmations to say daily.  There are people who make millions of dollars in the self-help industry.  Sure those can work, but those don’t mean anything if they aren’t based in who God says you are. 

The best kind of weed and root killer is one of truth.  

His words are the strongest and will carry the most power.  His word brought about the earth, it carries enough power to combat the lies. 

For God’s Word is solid to the core;
    everything he makes is sound inside and out.
He loves it when everything fits,
    when his world is in plumb-line true.
Earth is drenched
    in God’s affectionate satisfaction.

The skies were made by God’s command;
    he breathed the word and the stars popped out.
He scooped Sea into his jug,
    put Ocean in his keg.

Earth-creatures, bow before God;
    world-dwellers—down on your knees!
Here’s why: he spoke and there it was,
    in place the moment he said so.

(MSG) Psalm 33:4–9

Also God understands roots, His word is filled with the all sorts of root imagery..  He talks about being planted and rooted next to streams of living water, about being rooted and built up.  All of these things have to do with growth in our faith and belief.

Being planted and rooted, is powerful and painful. Think about it.  To be planted, means to be dug up, to be buried again, to breakthrough.  To uproot something, to dig out means pain.  To break free of the old roots meant to walk through pain.

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Photo by Zach Reiner on Unsplash

But when it is your heart that is broken and wounded, where do you even start?  When I started digging out the roots of lies, it left me broken, depressed and hopeless.  That felt worse.

In the midst of the brokenheartedness, I tried to live in the same way as before.  I tried to be the person I was before I dug out the root. It didn’t work. I felt fake and like a liar all the time. I tried to mask it. That just wasn’t me.  I held on to other lies in the midst of that season.  “I can’t let anyone see me weak.” “I have Jesus, I can’t be sad.”

The deepest wounds don’t heal overnight and not on their own.

You can’t self-heal. These wounds take care and procedures, medicine and rest, giving the place of the wound a break from the constant stress and strain of use.  Funny thing though, just as it is really hard to do a medical procedure on yourself, we won’t be able to remove the hook on our own.  Mostly we won’t get all of the root.    Healing comes in time.  And often you aren’t the same afterwards.

It’s like I needed a physical therapist for my heart. I needed someone to show me how to be wounded and yet still heal.

What it took was, first to say it out loud, to tell my people.  And to be honest, it was to find the people that I could trust to help, to walk with me as I continued to do the work.  It was the people that I could be broken around and they accepted and even welcomed my brokenness.

So many of us are walking around wounded and broken, looking to the things of the world to heal.  We busy ourselves, try to live out of old patterns, and just get through. Waiting for the next weekend, next vacation.  We distract ourselves from dealing with the wounds.

Friends, don’t wait, don’t hold back.  Don’t wait until the wound is infected.  Dig it out now.  And don’t do it alone.  The enemy wants us to believe that we have to live alone in our pain and brokenness.  That because of that we aren’t love and accepted.  But we are…we are chosen and loved and welcomed in. Brokenness and all. Not because of anything we did, but because of the one who opened the door for us, the one that has the power to dig out those roots and help us establish new ones.

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.  

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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? 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.