Trusting.

“But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.”-Habakkuk 2:3 (NLT)

Straining Toward the Goal Sometimes Means We Must Rest

Philippians 3:12-21

(emphasis my own)

[12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.  16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

 17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.  18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.  20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.]

My mom had some incredible words of wisdom to offer me yesterday. I’m so visionary and I have so many things that I want to do with my life that I really hold the verses above as my ideal – I want to always be running and pressing forward – straining forward to run directly along with God’s call on my life and into my “destiny” as a disciple of Christ. I view life as the Apostle Paul did – as a race that we run to win, and I like to run fast. The times in life when I feel like I’m in a holding pattern and that there’s nothing I can do to make things move forward faster are the times when I struggle the most with frustration.

The thing that God has to constantly remind me of is that He alone is sovereign and His plan is best. Ministry is what I’m doing now – it just looks different than I want it to. And at this point, what I want doesn’t really matter – especially since God’s already opened so many doors for me to serve in this season.

I need to be passionate about the place God has me right now, this very second, and appreciate each and every opportunity that I have to serve. Not that I shouldn’t keep dreaming, keep planning, keep pushing myself toward the goal, but right now pushing toward the goal means I need to be excellent at everything I do, not just dream about what I wish I could do.  And it means I take a step back and rest, instead of beating myself for not being where I’d like to be.

My mom is so wonderful and wise and yesterday I was so thankful for her following advice:

“You want full immersion…I understand…but The Word tells us that if we are faithful with little, He will make us faithful with much. Get up, every morning, like a missionary, no matter what your life looks like, and you will be fulfilling the call He has placed on your life….to make disciples!!! I see your value….look closer and you will see it, too. If you lose sight of your purpose, right there, right now….you will lose sight of the path….and get side tracked. Keep moving forward and He will be responsible for the rest. He knows your desires, so when it is time, He will orchestrate the change. You will have to change the way you think about this season…in order to be happy in it.”

 

Thanks Mom!

Have Your Way

 “Have Your Way” lyrics from Britt Nicole’s new CD – The Lost Get Found

Feels like I’ve been here forever,
Why can’t you just intervene,
Do you see the tears are falling?
And I’m falling apart at the seams,
But you never said the road would be easy,
But you said that you would never leave.
And you never promised that
this life wasn’t hard,
But you promised you’d take care of me,

So I’ll stop searching for the answers,
I’ll stop praying for an escape,
I’ll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way,
Just have your way,
Just have your way,
My friends and my family have left me
I feel so ashamed and so cold,
Remind you take broken
things and turn them into beautiful

So I’ll stop searching for the answers,
I’ll stop praying for an escape,
I’ll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way,
Just have your way,
Just have your way,

Even if my dreams have died,
Even if I don’t survive,
I’ll still worship you with all my life,
My life, yeah,
Whoa, oh, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh Whoa, oh
And I’ll stop searching for the answers,
I’ll stop praying for an escape,
And I’ll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way,
Just have your way,
Just have your way, yeah
I know you will,
don’t forget,
Whoa, oh, oh
You love me,
Have your way, Yeah

____________________________________________________

I first heard this song on Sunday while I was driving to church. Mom bought me the CD for my birthday and I’ve had it on repeat since then. It sounds like a sad song, sort of. But I love the hope it holds. Most of the song didn’t resound with where I am right now, but the chorus is incredible:

So I’ll stop searching for the answers,
I’ll stop praying for an escape,
I’ll trust you God with where I am,
And believe you will have your way

Sometimes I ask too many questions (I’m told I could be a reporter) and I fear I approach my quiet time with God in the same manner – constantly full of questions about life, the Bible, relationships, etc. and always asking for guidance and answers. Last night, at the Gathering, John encouraged us to not just talk at God, but to actually pray and I was convicted. John said that no friend, even a best friend, wants to sit and be questioned or have problems thrown at them non-stop by a friend who just gets up to leave as soon as their high priority to-do list has been made known. I love helping people, but when I don’t feel valued for who I am and not just for what I can do, a to do list becomes really offensive. God, even understanding my humanity, has to feel the same way. I’m a words of affirmation person – Even if I know, I still have to hear how people who are important to me feel about me. Looking at Scripture, it seems that God operates the same way. So, I’m going to endeavor to set aside time to really value God, to love Him…. and also trust Him with exactly where I am, in this time and in this season. He’s sovereign, and He will have His way. That’s the most comforting thought of all.

You can listen to Have Your Way here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1i5Pd60DsFE

Vision and Expectation

Lon’s Solomon’s message on Sunday was all about vision and expecting God to do great things. He talked about William Carey and his statement – “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” According to Lon, expectation is rooted in a person’s credibility and power.  The main point of the sermon was that “because of God’s boundless power and His proven faithfulness, we can have unlimited expectations of what God can do […] and to approach life in any other way is an insult to the Almighty God.” You can find the full sermon (entitled “Expect Great Things From God, Attempt Great Things For God – Part 1”) here: http://www.mbclive.org/

Josh and I talked on Sunday about how much we love vision messages – maybe because we’re both so visionary and have the tendency to look way out and dream really big. Almost daily one of us makes statements that begin like this: “When I run…” or “If I ever am in charge of or have the opportunity to lead…” But I think last night I realized that sometimes even I don’t dream big enough, I don’t expect enough. Last night, when I found myself surprised by God drawing someone to Himself via very non-traditional means, I also found myself disapointed in my own faith. I want to be in a place where I’m constantly amazed by God, but never surprised at His almighty power and absolutely incredible faithfulness. And even though I don’t always expect enough, that’s one of the things I LOVE about God – that sometimes He sweeps us off our feet by His grace and shows us to what lengths He will go to pursue one single individual.

If I’m going to be in ministry, even as a part-time volunteer, such expectation and faith needs to be standard, even baseline, in my heart. Especially since my long-term goal is to be in full-time ministry in the next few years. It’s understandable to be in a state of constant amazement and wonder at the greatness of our God, but we must also expect Him to intervene in our lives, change us, draw us closer to Him, and to be shaped into His image.

Jesus had such incredible expectation, in relation to the Father, that He submitted to the Father’s will and suffered on the cross (Matt. 26-27). I know I’ve previously discussed how expectations can limit and stifle… however, when expectations are placed on the God of the universe… our faith grows and we begin to dream big dreams and believe big things about the God we serve. For all of the ways that sometimes a relationship with God resembles our earthly relationships, this area is completely different. In a relationship with God, expectations EXPAND our lives and our love for Christ. He wants to be expected to keep His promises and to show Himself to be who He is – the God in whom we live and breathe and have our being (Acts 17:28). It’s a truly beautiful thing.

Identity

As Capitol Hill staffers have begun to trickle back into the DC area for the last week or so, traffic has greatly increased on the Capital beltway and I-395, giving me moments of great frustration, as well as additional time to reflect and listen to the Holy Spirit. I have realized again in the last few weeks, just from my time sitting waiting to get across the 14th Street Bridge, the human proclivity to self-identify and our great need for genuine identity.

We are siblings, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, mothers, fathers, employees, supporters, sports fans, and the list goes on and on. We see ourselves by the roles we fill, rather than by who we really are. We crave identity and we jump to identify ourselves based on where we come from, our last name, our relationships, who we know, and where we live. I’m not sure if it’s just because we are desperate to belong to something greater than ourselves or if it’s because we want to define ourselves before someone else has the opportunity to do so.

We do it when we meet new people, we do it in casual conversation, and we  tend to display all of our affiliations and many of the things we love on the exteriors of our cars. So recently, I’ve been getting to know the people in the cars around me (just their exterior, of course), just from seeing their back dashboard or bumper. It astonishes me that I can tell where an individual went to school, where their kids go to elementary school, what neighborhood they live in, gym they belong to, sports team they support, and many times their favorite vacation destination – all from sitting behind them or passing them on the road.

Even I’m not exempt from this. I laughed the other day as I passed a suburban with an elementary school honor society bumper sticker, and OBX sticker, and a bumper sticker that showed that the family had four kids, a cat and a dog, and then I realized that I do the same thing. I have a red and blue American University School of Public Affairs sticker in the back of my car that I’ve had since I first moved to Washington. I’m proud of my school and of my accomplishments there and it’s part of how I define myself.

But the thing that I’ve begun to realize recently is simple: in a city where so many define their lives by the politician and ideology they support, the university they graduated from, their job title, and their roles within their family or society… it’s that much more important that as a follower of Christ that I draw my entire identity from Christ alone. I don’t want the car I drive, my job, or even my family to define who I am. Does that mean I’m going to pull down my AU sticker or throw a bunch of Jesus fish on my bumper? No. Because really, that will never define who anyone is or how they choose to live.

What it does mean is that I have to give that much more effort to living as Paul did:

Galatians 2:20 I have been tcrucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives uin me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, vwho loved me and wgave himself for me.

And always remembering that my identity must always be found in my life in and through Christ:

Colossians 2:6-15

6 hTherefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 irooted and jbuilt up in him and kestablished in the faith, just las you were taught, abounding min thanksgiving.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive by nphilosophy and oempty deceit, according to phuman tradition, according to the qelemental spirits1 of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For rin him the whole fullness of deity dwells sbodily, 10 and tyou have been filled in him, who is uthe head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also vyou were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by wputting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 xhaving been buried with him in baptism, in which yyou were also raised with him through faith in zthe powerful working of God, zwho raised him from the dead. 13 aAnd you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God bmade alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by ccanceling dthe record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 wHe disarmed the rulers and authorities2 and eput them to open shame, by ftriumphing over them in him.

sometimes pride hides well

I haven’t blogged in several days now and there are a couple of reasons – I was too busy relaxing, spending time with God, and just learning to be alone over the weekend to take the time to sit down at my computer. And the other reason is that sometimes when something really hard, really transforming, really revolutionary, or really hard is going on in my heart, I just can’t bring myself to process it all on paper for a little while. Now, obviously a blog isn’t the proper venue to do a lot of serious and in-depth soul searching, but it’s definitely helping me to catalog a lot of the transformation that’s going on in my heart.

I’m learning what humility really is. This summer has been the summer in which I’ve realized that I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface on a true and proper understanding of humility, my sin nature, and what it means to totally rely on Christ and love Him more than anything. And at the risk of sounding dramatic, I have to confess that I am learning that in many ways I’ve never even known Him.

I’m learning that pride has many, many forms and that it can hide, especially within my own heart. I can be, and have been, prideful without considering myself better than others, without treating them poorly, and without even realizing my error.

I’m learning that confession isn’t easy and that sometimes you hurt the people that you care about the most. But with that I’m learning that confession is priceless… that the freedom that comes with such vulnerability is worth any amount of pain that it takes to take the step. Humility brings a lot of beauty with it, if you accept it and allow it to change your heart.

I’m definitely not as transparent as I thought I was. I’ve cared a lot more about perception than reality, and I’ve denied people who love me the opportunity to teach me, train me, and guide me. And with that lesson has come the incredible understanding that people don’t stop loving you when your humanity is made so blatantly obvious. Instead, they hold you closer, support you, and love you through it (or at least that’s the kind of love I’m being shown). Disappointment is one of the things I fear the most, but I’ve learned I cannot allow such fear to inhibit me or my relationships, because at the point that I’m disingenuous about one thing, I become disingenuous in all.

And maybe the most important lesson of all – I’ve learned that sometimes God calls sin what others wouldn’t ever categorize as sin, or that we don’t realize is an issue until the Holy Spirit reveals it to us.

The hard part, even harder than all of these realizations, is walking it out. Asking the Father for forgiveness for such large blind spots, begging the Holy Spirit to make me more aware of my own failings… and then drastically turning and walking the other direction… it seems that the mistakes that don’t even look like moral failings might be the ones that are the ones that have the greatest ability to trip me up.

My commitment to Christ is displayed in how I spend my time and my treasure and the Holy Spirit has shown me that the direction I have poured a lot of resources into has been excessive and wasteful. So now I get to redeem the time, so to speak, and learn from Him how to love Him better. I love the point in life situations like this where I’m able to clearly see where the lesson is going and how I’m growing and benefiting from it.

God is truly so graceful.