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Stop striving, and know that I am God

June 9, 2015

One of those days where I’ve worn myself out striving after this and compelling myself toward that ambition.

It’s time for me to put aside my striving and embrace a season where I am still before God and accept what He brings me, what He gives me, even if just more of Himself.  He will fill these empty hands.

He is good, and I can trust Him.

Oswald Chambers hits the nail on head (again)

May 21, 2015

For anxiety, this.

My Utmost for His Highest — May 18 — Careful Unreasonableness

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they simply are!  Think of the sea, the air, the sun, the stars and the moon–all these are, and what a ministration they exert. So often we mar God’s designed influence through us by our self-conscious effort to be consistent and useful. Jesus says that there is only way to develop spiritually, and that is by concentration on God. “Do not bother about being of use to others; believe on Me”–pay attention to the Source, and out of you will flow rivers of living water. We cannot get at the springs of our natural life by common sense, and Jesus is teaching that growth in spiritual life does not depend on our watching it, but on our concentration on our Father in heaven. Our heavenly Father knows the circumstances we are in, and if we keep concentrated on Him we will grow spiritually as the lilies.

The people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us and talk to us, but those who live their lives like the stars in heaven and the lilies in the field, perfectly simply and unaffectedly. Those are the lives that mold us.

If you want to be of use to God, get rightly related to Jesus Christ and He will make you of use unconsciously every minute you live.

Inadequate Christendom

May 11, 2015

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.’

-Isaiah 57.15

I struggle with inadequacy as a Christian, always thinking I’m not doing enough or that I should be doing more.

But “doing” is the heart of religion. “Being” is the heart of Christianity.

God looks at the heart, not at the outward appearance.  Does the naked reality of my heart show that I love Him?  That I want to please Him?  Am I broken for the lost?  Am I repenting of my sin? Do I want those around me to draw closer to Him?  If my heart is right, then good actions will follow.

Through this contrast, God is changing my definition of what a Christian is.  I falsely assume a Christian is a perfect person who reads his Bible all the time and prays without ceasing and always has the right Bible verse for the right moment and is too mature to stumble.  In reality, a Christian is someone who is, like me, broken in heart and just trying to figure it all out.

The Bible’s definition of a Christian and the world’s (and even the church’s) definition of a Christian are quite the opposite.  The Bible says God is near to the brokenhearted, not the religious.  He is near. When my heart is broken, the eternal God, the only Sovereign over the expanse of time and the universe, sees me and meets me in this temporary life, doing ordinary things in ordinary moments.

A Christian doesn’t have things figured out.  A Christian doesn’t have it all together.  In fact, quite the opposite!  A Christian is not even religious.  A Christian trusts Christ’s resurrection and repents of sin and turns to God, daily, as the only answer to the brokenness inside.

Passion and Hunger

May 3, 2015

For years, I have been searching for the context behind a John Piper quote a friend told me one time: “The place you belong is where the passion of your heart meets the hunger in the world.”

I’ve never been able to find the quote online or even attributed to Piper.

Until yesterday.

I was Googling the quote so I could share it with a friend who was graduating, and I discovered Frederick Buechner, an American writer and theologian.

Here is the quote: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

God has individually wired each of us with gifts and burdens unique to us. It’s easy to wish I had certain gifts or to feel inadequate in my faith because I’m not helping earthquake victims in Nepal or discipling new believers in China.  Yet I forget a) I have gifts specific to me and b) I am called to use my individual gifts to love the people around me in my mundane and wash their feet: the cleaning lady at my job, my apartment neighbor, an alienated co-worker, a struggling sibling, or a hurting family in my church community.  The reality of the Gospel applies here, now, in my individual experience in this awkward postmodern moment.  It applies in the needs of the people around me.

I need to stop praying, “Lord, what is your will?” and I need to start staring into the faces of the people I interact with and get to know them and pray for them and use my gifts to serve them. May the Holy Spirit ignite my passions and work through me to meet the needs of others, that these passions may, by some miracle, touch the deep hunger in my small space in the world.

Mind Cravings

May 1, 2015

I get anxious when my mind demands more than I can give it.

It feels like there’s not enough time in the day to read and study the Bible as much as I should. Adulthood calls. Between working my job and maintaining relationships and church/family responsibilities, I’m squeezing the pursuit of truth in where I can: listening to online sermons in the car en route, plugging in biblical podcasts at work, and cracking open Tim Keller and John Piper books when I finally hit the weekend.

Even when I have time to study, it can take reading multiple chapters or listening to several sermons or reading a whole book of the Bible before I arrive at a truth that speaks to my sin or situation or world.  What if my mind craves to be renewed in the Word, but I don’t have time to go deep enough to get the meaningful truth I need?  What if, some days, I only have time for a page of Scripture, or I have to listen to an audio Bible on my iPhone because I didn’t have time to read at all? Will I miss out on what God is saying to me?

Yet I have nothing to be anxious about.

It is not about my works, but about His grace. God knows my sitting down and my rising up.  He knows the demands and pressures of my life. He sees my pursuit and desire for Him — or lack of desire, on some days.  And He will expose me to exactly the right truth that I need to have at exactly the moment I need to have it.  Some hungers run deeper than others. Some journeys will be longer than others, whether God speaks loudly at the second sentence or the twenty-second chapter. Yet He knows my finiteness, that I am made of dust.  He sees my frailty of being, and He will not withhold truth from me when I am desperate.  He is a good Father who delights to give good things to His children.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Matthew 5.6

Spiritually Frustrated

April 30, 2015

I’ve cried three nights in a row.  It gets to 8:00 pm, and I’m a puddle, so I reach for the tissues, except I rarely have tissues, so I’m usually blowing my nose on a napkin or a crumpled Kleenex I found at the bottom of my purse or my pajama sleeve, if I get desperate.

I asked God for brokenness, and He answered.  Sometimes life is just hard.  Some nights are just lonely. Some weeks, I feel burdened with sadness, and it’s okay.  Sometimes God brings me to the end of myself, and there is nothing to do but offer my tears to Him as my worship.

I sinned against Him, and He put a mirror to my life and called me out.  He pointed out idols I bow down to and worship, idols of self and comfort and sex and religion, and they came crashing down.  My God is a jealous God, desiring all my worship for Himself.  To worship Him is to find life.  To worship other pursuits or people or things is to find death.

After God showed me my sin, my first thought was, “Who am I?” These sins revealed I am a far cry from the moral, upright person I thought I was.  I had a false view of myself.  In reality, I am a sinner, a beggar in constant need of His grace. I am an idolater.  And I repent.

Yet there is hope. I am deeply, radically loved by a holy God. I am showered in His favor and acceptance, and this truth sets me free from the lies that paralyze me.

These lies say that God is angry with me because I’ve sinned — yet I can never sin beyond His grace. Ever.
These lies say that I’m a failure — and I am a failure in my sin, but Christ has clothed me with His righteousness, and my boast is in Him.
These lies say that I can only find joy if things are perfect — yet His grace is sufficient, and through it, I can find joy in the imperfect because He is working all things for good.
These lies say that my life is meaningless, so sinning doesn’t matter — but God’s love is meaningful, and it fills my being.
These lies say that I am not making a difference — but God is using me in the world to fulfill a purpose He has uniquely wired me for.  I am His workmanship.

The truth will set me free.  There is forgiveness.  May I sow in tears that will reap joy in the morning.

Mission Statement for my Postmodern Life

January 19, 2015

Sometimes, as a single woman, I wake up in the morning on a day off, and I don’t know what to do.  My responsibilities are not as defined as a husband who wakes up next to a wife who needs him to put on the coffee or a mother who wakes up to her young son tugging on her nightgown, asking to go play outside.  A family environment creates a pattern of daily, ordinary tasks that I do not have as a single person.

So how do I wake up in the morning and answer the question, “What do I do?  What do I fill my time with?”  Some days, these questions have led to self-indulgence like hours watching television or working out in the gym, but those days always leave me empty.  We were created to give of ourselves the way Christ gave of himself, first to the Father and then to the world.

The Westminister Catechism says I exist to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

Practically, on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, my life’s purpose looks like this:

  • Know and love Christ
  • Make disciples
  • Do good works

Sometimes, that means curling up on the edge of my couch with a cup of coffee and my Bible and knowing Christ.  Other times, it means being vulnerable and leaving my apartment and pursuing friendships/biblical community. But the key is to wake up on those uncertain, fragile mornings with a changed mindset, one that is hungry for Christ and hungry to build his kingdom and love his people.